Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Second-class citizen"

Fox News | Toys 'R' Us Reverses Decision on Denied New Year Baby Prize
After coming under fire for denying a Chinese-American infant a $25,000 prize in a New Year's baby contest because her mother was not a legal U.S. resident, the Toys "R" Us company said Saturday evening that it had reversed its decision.

The Wayne, N.J.-based company said it would award each of the three babies in the grand prize pool of the "First Baby of the Year Sweepstakes" a $25,000 savings bond.

...Chinese-American advocates had complained that the toy company's decision smacks of second-class citizenship.
I can't fault Toys 'R' Us for choosing the solution they did. True, they're giving away three times as much money as they intended to, but it's petty cash for a company of TRU's size. Still, I find myself wishing this case had gone to court. Which it may yet, I suppose. It might then fall to a judge to provide some long-overdue clarification of the legal status of children born to non-citizens who happen to be in this country when they give birth. With the current state of affairs regarding the US / Mexican border, this question is far from merely academic.

Because we are the wealthiest, and most generous, nation on the planet, we accept that babies born here are U. S. citizens regardless of the status of their parents. This would not be the first occasion on which parents exploited that generosity for their own benefit, although it might set a record for the tender age of the child being exploited.

But there is one way in which the accusation of "second-class citizen" might be appropriate to this situation, for that is exactly what the child is: Or, to put it another way, a minor. There is a world of things that minors may not do in America (and we consider this right and just), among them enter into contracts--and what is a contest's entry blank if it is not a contract between the entrant and the sponsor? The rules of TRU's contest specify that only a citizen of legal age may claim the prize. The child can't do it: She's not of legal age. The mother can't do it: She's not a citizen. It's not TRU's fault that the mother-to-be didn't read the fine print.

TRU, in short, was right to disqualify the entrant. TRU caved because they didn't want the PR headache this situation would be. It just isn't worth t
he cost of a $25k savings bond to have mom's lawyer telling the press that Toys 'R' Us hates yellow babies.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

591 ways to find Britney Spears

If everything is on the web, then that means that some really, really weird stuff is on the web.

This page begs several questions:

Why is Google tracking the number of ways that people misspell "Britney Spears"?
Why are they putting the results on a publicly viewable page?
What does it say about computer users, as a class, that over three months, there were over 600k queries for "Britney Spears"?
What could anyone want to know or see that isn't already public knowledge?
What does it say about computer users, as a class, that nearly one-fourth of the queries were misspelled?
I didn't know there were 592 ways to misspell "Britney Spears". (Okay, I realize that isn't a question.)