The Hoosierist Talks Gambling, TV News Subtitles & More

A gambling frenzy, where boats are verboten, and not-so-close captioning. Ask The Hoosierist.
Q: When it comes to Indiana gambling, is anything still illegal? 
Alyssa O., Carmel

A: Back in the ’80s, you couldn’t shuffle a deck of cards in the Hoosier State without someone looking at you sideways. But today, the only things beyond the pale are dog racing, cockfighting, sports betting, and anything Internet-based. You can scratch your gaming itch at the state’s 13 casinos, participate in lotteries, or wager at one of the 3,500 churches and charities that offer “gaming nights.” Your Final Four office pool is totally illegal, but it’s a safe bet that the cops won’t bust down your door and confiscate the $42 pot. According to the Indiana Gaming Commission, there aren’t enough hours in the day for that kind of Mickey Mouse craps—or rather, crap.
Q: Why do the TV subtitles for the local news often include epic misspellings?
Eric B., Fishers

A: Blame it on human error. The Hoosierist assumed closed captioning for live shows was handled by a computer with voice-recognition software. But according to the National Captioning Institute, it’s usually done by a person who frantically transcribes the proceedings. There are bound to be problems when two people speak at once, when a person talks really fast, or when the captioner spills his Pepsi on the keyboard (which The Hoosierist assumes must happen). That’s how statements like “Two people died in a fire” turn into “Two peephole dined Indy thigh hair.” Though this must be deeply frustrating to the hearing impaired, cut the captioners some slack. It’s a demanding job (a one-hour show requires 14,000 keystrokes) that’s about to get tougher. The Federal Communications Commission issued new rules this year ordering stations to improve captioning. So perhaps the most grievous problems will be resolved soon. Or in Caption Speak, “The moat grief house prop balloons wildebeest zoom.”
Q: Why are there paddleboats on the downtown canal but not in Broad Ripple? 
Shelly K., Indianapolis  

A: As hard as it is to believe, the gritty, stinky canal that runs through Broad Ripple is where we get the stuff that flows from our taps. And Citizens Energy, which operates the waterway, doesn’t want a bunch of boats mucking around in it. Paddleboaters can get away with such shenanigans downtown because that stretch isn’t physically connected to the Citizens Energy canal. So feel free to splash around there. And dye it green for St. Patrick’s Day. And throw in loose change. Because no matter what you toss in, there’s no danger of it winding up in somebody’s glass.

Illustration by Shane Harrison

This column appeared in the July 2014 issue.