The Jackson Herald
June 20, 2001
I don't use the Internet very often. My husband and I keep an
email account which we usually check every other day, then we
log off. No surfing. No cyber chats. No instant messaging. Every
month or so we purchase something online that we saw in a catalogue
snail-mailed to our house. So we don't see the need to spend
$19.95 per month for Internet service. Not when we can wade through
banner ads and get the same service for free.
A year ago we found the perfect free Internet provider in Netzero.
We could have email and an unlimited number of hours for free.
While we would log on, Netzero would play a clip from a fictitious
Supreme Court hearing. The Netzero CEO argues to the justices
that Internet is a basic human right and Netzero will continue
to supply the American people with the free service. It was pretty
uplifting and it entertained while I waited for my slow modem
to connect. I can remember thinking that I would always be able
to use Netzero for free. After all, they had principles to support.
It started off small. We got an email that said anyone using
over 100 hours per week would be charged a fee of $9.95. I guess
they figured they were cheaper than America Online so what if
it wasn't technically "free," $9.95 is chump change
when the American people are spending $3.50 for a gallon of milk
and $40 for a dinner at Applebee's. Eric and I didn't cave. We
weren't going to spend that much time on the Internet anyone
so we said "No thanks" to their offer.
Nearly the next time we logged on, a banner popped up to occupy
a quarter of the computer screen. Netzero announced the banner
would help us navigate better. There are only a few buttons devoted
to navigating the Internet. The rest of the banner flashes ads
and invited us to upgrade to Netzero Platinum for only $9.95
a month to get rid of the new "navigation tool." (So
they knew it would be annoying.) The constantly changing picture
slows our 56K modem down considerably. I spend a half hour waiting
for the Mainstreet Newspaper page to load. Obviously they were
trying to push us over the 100 hour clause. That might have worked
on a lesser couple, but we didn't cave.
And then, as if the new banner box didn't slow us down enough,
their new annoyance tactic was pop-up ads. You finally get a
page loaded and you're scrolling along and up pops an ad box.
It disorients you. Half the time it's the Netzero Platinum invitation.
At this point, it became a matter of my principles versus their
promise of free Internet. Of all the times the commercial world
has bowed to the almighty buck, I had thought Netzero would not
crumble. I vowed that I would not be satisfied until I was the
last person getting free Internet service on this planet. Their
"Only $9.95 per month" was not going to sucker me in.
I closed their little pop-up boxes before they even loaded the
ads. I wasn't going to read a single one. I wasn't even going
to glance down at their flashing banner box.
Their masterminds went to work and created the next annoyance.
Now, when I log on, I get stuck on a page with no exit. There
is no window at the top where I can type in another address.
There is only links to Netzero's sponsors. They thought I would
be forced to visit one of their sponsors by doing this, but I
tricked them. Hit Control, Alt, Delete and shut down the page,
then quickly click on the mail icon. I win again. I have an email
with a web address on it so all I have to do is click on it and
I've bypassed the whole visit sponsors deal.
Thursday, I had every intention of doing some research at home
for a column I wanted to write for this week. I logged on. I
maneuvered my way past their sponsors and got to the page I needed.
I clicked the article I wanted to bring up. I got kicked off.
"Try again later," it said. I tried again. And again.
And again. Sometimes I made it to my page. Sometimes I didn't
even make it past user preferences. I sat and waited five minutes
(I was watching my little computer clock) at the computer screen,
my daughter woke up, I went and got her from her crib, changed
her diaper and went back downstairs where the computer was still
checking user preferences. That's fine, I thought. So now instead
of writing a column about murder in the South (which I will do
later), I'm writing an anti-Netzero column. They lie to you.
They make you believe the whole America and apple pie thing still
exists. Milk could be delivered to your front stoop and neighborhoods
have block parties where everyone brings a covered dish. I lived
in la-la land for awhile, but I have opened my eyes and what
I see isn't pretty. I keep hearing the song "Another One
Bites the Dust" as one more pure thing sells out to commercialism.
But I'm still not paying for Internet service.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
The Jackson Herald
June 20, 2001
Peach State solutions
When the news came last week that Peach State Speedway had "temporarily
suspended all race track operations," it was not a great
surprise. Financial woes have plagued the Dry Pond track for
Many close to the situation were optimistic for a financial turnaround
when current lease holders John Huffman and Dr. Jim Kasin came
on the scene a few years back, but that turnaround has yet to
To borrow a phrase from football season, let's play armchair
quarterback and offer some solutions to Peach State's financial
Work to heal financial wounds in the community. Several years
ago, a number of local businesses and individuals were apparently
left holding bad checks and outstanding debts from the those
who previously operated the Dry Pond track. As a result, there
are a lot of potential sponsors, fans and drivers who have sworn
never to do business at Peach State again. That situation is
a financial handicap to anyone doing business at the track, and
it must be addressed before a serious turnaround can be attained.
Huffman and/or Kasin should determine who was wronged in the
past, sit down face-to-face with each one, and try to resurrect
Bring back Super Late Models. This seems to be a no-brainer,
but apparently isn't. There are a number of local drivers who
have Super Late Model cars in their shops with no track nearby
to race them on. The addition of a Super Late Model class at
Peach State would offer an easy fix, and should bring a substantial
increase in attendance.
Work harder to seek new sponsors. Newer businesses in the area
such as Caterpillar and Freightliner aren't subject to Peach
State's difficulties of the past, and represent a largely untapped
base of local marketing partners. Huffman is quoted in the story
that appears in the Jackson Herald as saying the financial situation
in Jackson County is not conducive to obtaining sponsorship.
That's hogwash, and the success of Lanier National Speedway proves
Choose track managers carefully. The name of one former manager
always seems to pop up during conversations about the track's
problems. I won't mention his name here, but nearly everyone
I've spoken with about Peach State has wound up pointing a finger
in his direction.
The odd thing about Mr. X, as we'll call him, is that he seems
to have nine lives when it comes to Peach State. Just when you
think you've seen the last of him, he's back in charge.
According to one source at the track, drivers were told prior
to last week's races that Mr. X would no longer be associated
in any way with Peach State Speedway. The announcement was apparently
answered with a round of applause. Warning to drivers: don't
count those chicks just yet; I believe we're only on life number
five or six here.
Once the choice is made, give managers a chance to prove themselves.
Ask anyone who's sat in the big chair at Peach State how much
decision-making authority they've had. Without exception, you'll
be laughed out of the office. Why hire someone to manage the
track locally if they can't make decisions as simple as how much
money to spend on local advertising? Take your time in choosing
a quality candidate for the job, and give that person ample room
Be firm with rules. Last year, one of our local drivers allowed
me to borrow a Peach State rule book for a few weeks. I was impressed
with its thoroughness and attention to detail. However, I soon
found through personal experience and eyewitness testimony that
certain drivers saw the rules as nothing more than suggestions,
and while some were forced to comply, others got by with a wink.
That's ridiculous. If the playing field isn't level, who wants
Peach State has a storied history, and could again become a prime
attraction for area race fans. Let's hope for the sakes of our
area drivers and Peach State's local employees that the higher-ups
can and will make the moves necessary to reach that goal.