Do Abusive Cheapskates Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy?

A recent article at AOL Jobs has been today’s Internet sensation. It seems a pastor stiffed a waitress and added a snotty note on her receipt about giving 10% to God, so why does a server deserve 18%? A followup article at The Consumerist prompted an update of the original article, but it raised an interesting question or two. (Read both articles for the relevant facts.)


A lot of people are focusing on Applebees’ firing of the person (not the server involved in the incident) who posted the picture. That individual said later, “I did my best to protect the identity of all parties involved. I didn’t break any specific guidelines in the company handbook — I checked.”

As readers, we’re on the horns of a dilemma, because douchebaggery of this nature is very appropriately outed… or wait, is it? Is this fodder for an article over at Not Always Right (here is a delightful example) or is it senseless voyeurism of the kind we would expect to find in the National Enquirer or People magazine?

Well, I don’t read either of those publications (although I am a proud owner of a copy of The Irrational Inquirer, a parody edition by Larry Durocher and Tony Hendra), but I find both angst and satisfaction when reading about ignorant behavior toward those who serve the public, especially when it’s richly rewarded.

The “pastor” (and I use the scare quotes deliberately) left her nasty note in public, and so on the one hand her shame should be public. On the other hand, I think the poster of the photo made some tactical errors by reporting the incident without removing any PII (personally identifiable information). As much as I was sorry to hear she was fired, I think I have to stand with Applebee’s on their personnel action – the posting of the photo was a breach of expected privacy, even if the person involved was a total jerk. You’ll notice that “Not Always Right” is very careful to give only the kind of store and a generic location, and never reveals names, dates, or identifiable places.

Moral: If you’re going to out the douchebaggery, make sure you do so in a non-identifiable way, or you might just lose your situation!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Der Rise und Fall of German Publications in the USA (und some odder schtuff too).

According to the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, the first German-language publication appeared in the USA in 1732. This number fluctuated at levels under 10 until 1797, when the Pennsylvania Dutch population began to increase, peaking at 626 German-language newspapers available in 1894. Other than Pennsylvania, the largest German populations were centered around New York, Chicago and Milwaukee.


I was born and raised in New York, and spent 9 years living in the heart of Yorkville, Manhattan’s German enclave in the 50’s.



I often remember my mother speaking of Kleine Konditorei, although I have no memory of  ever going there, but there was a Turnverein (gym club) right across the street from our apartment where I went for some gymnastics classes.


The Manhatten Turn Verein building on the corner of 85th and Lexington.


I’m not certain if this is the New York location, but the interior looked a lot like this – I remember the rings hanging from the ceiling everywhere.


Street view showing my apartment building on the right (my bedroom window is just to the left of the word “Hot”) and the former location of the Turn Verein on the left.

A video recounting the history of the Turn Verein in the United States

There were also several German shops that I recall, including a deliciously stinky cheese shop. Sadly, rising rents and changing immigration laws tolled the death knell for Germantown, and little is left besides the Schaller and Weber grocery and the Heidelberg restaurant.

Aside from a small, anomalous tick upward in 1945 (not surprising, given world events), the number of German publications declined steadily; in 2011, only 42 publications remained, and surprisingly do not even show up on the 2011 map in the Pennsylvania region.


An animated version of the data created by Dan Chang, Krissy Clark, Yuankai Ge, Geoff McGhee, Yinfeng Qin and Jason Wang shows the rise and fall over time.

Der alte Wolf hat gesprochen.

A Hungry Man is At My Door

Cross-posted from Livejournal

Back in 2009, I posted over at Livejournal an entry about Grace Noll Crowell and mentioned that my interest in her had been spurred by a poem that I first read in my high school hymnal, “A Hungry Man is At My Door.”

I had been wanting to find that poem for decades. The advent of the Internet led me to a reference in the index of World Call Magazine, the international magazine for Disciples of Christ – it was published in that periodical in September of 1933.

More digging led me to the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, who – as it turns out – had an archive of that magazine. A phone call led me to a most pleasant archivist who promised to seek out the issue I needed and send me a copy of the poem, and today in my mailbox I found not only the poem, but an extra copy of the entire September 1933 issue.

Miracle! Treasure! Gold-pressed Latinum! All praise to the dedicated archivists who preserve such things, and who are so generous with a casual seeker. I can’t afford a subscription to their membership drive at the moment, but as soon as it becomes possible, it is my intention to show my gratitude in a more substantial manner.

So here, after lo, these many years, is the poem that drove me on my journey of discovery:

A Hungry Man is At My Door
Grace Noll Crowell, in The Christian Advocate

A hungry man is at my door,
What shall I do?
My fire is warm, my loaf is sweet,
And I have you,
Sufficient for my needs… but oh,
The wind is cold.
A hungry man is at my door,
And he is old;
And he is weary, waiting to be fed.
I cannot dine
Until I break in three this loaf
I thought was mine.
I cannot rest beside my fire
Unless I share
Its warmth with him, and find a cloak
That he can wear.
This done — and he upon his way
Along the street —
I find a warmer fire — my loaf
Grown doubly sweet.

It’s no small miracle to me that I remembered as much of the poem as I did, albeit imperfectly. All I can say is that even at that tender and tumultuous age, this simple verse spoke to my heart, and whispered to me of my ultimate purpose, to serve God’s children by raising the human condition.

The poem came more forcefully to mind and prompted me to cross-post this here, because I find myself on the horns of a dilemma at the moment: A hungry child is at my door.

The problem is, the child is an adult – one who has basically been living rough for the last 14 years, ever since leaving home in a ferocious rejection of every value her parents ever espoused.

This young lady is gifted and talented and loves deeply and wants to see good in the world, but lacks the emotional stability to hold down any sort of a job. She wanders the world, sometimes making a bare living with some really kick-ass art skills, other times living on the generosity of friends, or strangers, or just living homeless. I keep thinking she’s hit bottom, but somehow she manages to keep finding new sub-basements, all without having that “aha” moment that spurs other people to clean up their act. In an earlier age, she might have been gathered up and placed in the care of the state – which I wouldn’t object to, because it would mean she’d at least be warm and fed – but our society in its wisdom put a stop to that.

She’s currently in Hawaiʻi (thank God for warm weather!), and apparently gets some assistance from the state down there, but she’s hungry, dammit – and nothing drives a parent crazier than to see a child suffer, even an adult one, even because of lousy choices. Worse, despite having been repeatedly bailed out, she feels lonely and unloved and unwanted, and the sadness around that is unfathomable. Money could be sent, even though I have precious little to send – but it would only be a band-aid, and nothing would change. It’s tearing me apart, and I just don’t know what to do.


Heads or Tails

Heads or Tails in Different Languages

If you spot something that’s wrong, or a better version, or can add some history, or have a different language to add, feel free to leave comments!



cara o creu (face or cross)

Chinese (Taiwan):

Chiang chung‑cheng huo meihua (Chiang Kai‑shek or flower)


hlava nebo orel (head or eagle)


plat eller krone (flat or crown)
Note: My Danish contact has been hunting down the origin of this phrase. It appears no one really knows why “plat” is the word for “heads”.


kop of munt (head or mintage)
kop of let(‑ter) (head or letter)
kruis of munt (cross or mintage)


heads or tails


kruuna tai klaava (crown or shackle)


pile ou face (back or face)


Adler oder Enzian (eagle or gentian) ‑ Austrian variety
Kopf oder Adler (head or eagle)
Kopf oder Schrift (head or writing)
Kopf oder Wappen (head or coat of arms)
Kopf oder Zahl (head or number)
Zahl oder Ähre (number or ear-of-corn) [1950’s]


עץ או פלה (etz o pali – tree or Palestine)
tur o yas (tower or writing)


testa o croce (head or cross)


Kepala atau bunga (Head or flower)


mynt eller kron(‑e) (mintage or crown)


orzeł czy reszka (eagle or grate)


cara ou coroa (face or crown)
cara ou cruz (face or cross)


orjel ili reshka (eagle or grate)

Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian:

pismo ili glava (letter or head)
tura ili jazija (tower or letter)


glava ali napis (head or writing)


aguila o sol (eagle or sun)
sol o aguila (sun or eagle) (Mexico)
cara o ceca (face or mintage)
cara o cruz (face or cross)
cara o escudo (face or shield)
cara o sello (face or seal) (Ecuador)


gubbe eller pil (old man or arrow)
krona eller klave (crown or shackle)


yazı mı tura mı  (inscription or tower)