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Yarbrough: Thinking randomly on form letters, Atlanta’s PC work signs

POSTED: August 2, 2008 5:00 a.m.

No good deed goes unpunished. Recently I mentioned that Sen. Saxby Chambliss wanted to hear from you regarding your thoughts on the current energy crisis. A lot of you wrote him, and many of you sent me a copy. I found your letters a lot more thoughtful than the reply you received from the senator's office. To call the response a "form letter" would demean form letters.

I asked his staff why they were sending out those missives. The staffers say they get a lot of "spam" (welcome to the club) and this letter weeds those out by referring legitimate responders to their Web site. They also agreed that the letter needed to be rewritten.

Here's a thought. In an election year, be sensitive to what you send out to potential voters - or don't ask my readers for their opinions if you are going to send them a "bug letter." ...

Speaking of responses, Bob from Chamblee wrote a semi-cranky note seeking to educate me on the term "African-American" (as if I would ever use it). Bob says Wikipedia defines African-American as: "citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa."
Bob also told me he is "6-foot-2, 225 pounds with motor oil under my fingernails."

Besides painting a dramatic word picture of himself, I think Bob is saying that if you are from Africa and are an American citizen, you can't be African-American if you are white. Who made that rule? It sounds arbitrary and discriminatory. I'm calling the ACLU.

By the way, let's not tell Bob that if he believes everything he reads on Wikipedia, we have a bridge in Savannah to sell him. Big guys with motor oil under their fingernails generally don't like to hear that kind of stuff. ...

Who is the funniest Southern writer to ever put pen to paper? If you say the late, legendary Lewis Grizzard, you win the Stuffed Possum award, but running a close second is Sam Griffin, the longtime editor and publisher of the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight who recently retired to live as a gentleman farmer in Decatur County after 47 years in the newspaper business.

To say that Griffin, the son of the late Gov. Marvin Griffin (no piker in the humor department himself) can write funny stuff is like saying Willie Nelson can carry a tune. Now that he is gainfully unemployed, maybe he will churn out a book or two and you can see for yourself. ...

You just have to love Atlanta, aka Malfunction Junction. Your beloved capital city discovered recently that it has a $140 million budget shortfall (duh!), and is looking at a hiring freeze in its understaffed police department, closing fire stations and raising taxes to try and cover its financial ineptitude.

That's the bad news. The good news is that somehow they have found enough money to change all the "Men at Work" signs around town after the editor of Pink Magazine, a women's publication, deemed the signs sexist. (I'm not making this up.) It will cost $144 for new signs and $22 to cover the old ones.

The city doesn't have two dimes to rub together, but at least its signs will be politically correct. Now, Pink's panthers need to get working on all those (ahem!) manhole covers in the middle of Atlanta's crumbling streets. The city of Atlanta and Pink Magazine deserve each other. ...

Finally, a word of caution to those few student-athletes at the University of Georgia who find themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Behave yourselves. Most of your colleagues are doing everything right: going to class, working in the community, even participating in mission trips. We don't hear about them. We hear about you.

You bring shame to the university, your coaches and teammates and those of us who are proud of the institution for its academic successes as much as for its athletic successes. Either get your act together or get out of town. I'm tired of reading about you. Any questions?

Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and on gainesvilletimes.com; Web site.



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