27 December 2012

Vote Me Up on Twangle Please People I Just Need Four Hundred Eighty Two More Etc Etc


Everyone please take a minute right now to vote me up on Twammer – I just need 7,296 Affirmations to get a free drinking straw from Randy's Gourmet Cheeseburger Chalet in St. George, Utah.

For those unfamiliar with Twoogle, it is a really cool new social web platform for people with low self-esteem so they can sit in the sullen privacy of their own personal spaces and vote up or down on things or other people with serious issues who invade their internet realm and step (innocently or not) into the path of their Twoogle-zooka.

On Twingle every four up-votes equals one Affirmation; if you collect enough Affirmations you can trade them for Twinglets, which allow you power over other people or the ability to solve difficult problems in your life and sometimes cheap tickets to the ice rink.

Not on Twangle yet?  Join today!  If I get 64 more people to join I get 158 Twanglees added to my account.  That will put me in second place in my fantasy league and seriously bump my self-worth numbers up to the tippy-top of the Twiggle-sphere.

Twozzle is not for everyone, and if you're one of those people who can't stand critics and think you're all high-falutin because you read books, split your own firewood and own a kayak, you might want to just save your time and stay away.  On the other hand Twoodle is an excellent platform upon which to hook up with other book-splitting kayak lovers, so you may want to give it a shot.  YMMV.

But whether you are going all in on the social media revolution or dead set against it, I am in it up to my earholes and I need my Tworgle so please like me people, click on my thing for the love of god, I really haven’t got anything else going at this point.

19 December 2012

3D Movies: Let Me Say This About That


The subject of three-dimensional cinema has received considerable attention of late, albeit not from your columnist, who never understood the concept quite frankly.  I was under the impression that every movie ever made could be apprehended in three dimensions.  Is someone suggesting otherwise?  Foreground, background … any of these terms ring a bell?

I put it to you that although movie screens are indeed flat, never in the history of cinema has there been a true 2D movie.  What would it even look like?  Just splotches of color mashed up against the screen, or what?  Please, whether you be expert or speculator, explain to the group by Comment what a 2D movie looks like.

In fact just about every movie ever made is already in 4D, as the passage of time is an integral element of even the most basic plot.

As for the idea that having objects appear to float in the space between the viewer and the screen somehow adds to the movie-going experience, for now you can color me unconvinced.  3D in its current manifestation may have limited application in video games, "enhanced interrogations", or virtual crabbing*, but as far as adding anything of value to traditional cinema: meh.

In any event, from this point forward I refuse to even attempt to enjoy any movie that is projected in anything less than six dimensions.  Is that really so much to ask?  Come on Hollywood, step it up.  How about spending a little less on recycled star-vehicle TV show remakes and smash 'em up sequels and a little more on additional dimensions?

Before I leave you this evening, one request if I may:  I would pay good money to experience a nine-dimensional remake of Rocky III.  But I don't wanna wear any stupid goggles, and no more wires penetrating my skull, last time I had colossal head pains and I'm still crossing dimensions randomly ("and even my tennis has suffered actually").


*Would 'spelunking' be better here?  Vote now on Twimmer!

11 December 2012

Financial News: Dark Clouds in the Blogging Sector


The blogging business has been in a serious slump lately, as overcapacity fed by easy credit and illusions of perpetual growth has led to a collapse in the price of blogposts.  Meanwhile, growth in internet participation has stalled as people get sick of hacking their way through pop-ups and spamspray just to read the same old crap over and over, who needs it anyway and at today's prices.  However, with winter approaching many readers are working through excess inventory and orders for blogposts are expected to pick up in the fourth quarter.  This has put at least a temporary floor under blogstock valuations, though whether the next big breakout will be to the upside or the down remains to be seen.

A recent frenzy of mergers and acquisitions has seen larger blogs swallowing up smaller ones for pennies on the dollar, scaling up to make it through the next round of consolidations, leveraged buyouts and bankruptcies.  Size is everything these days.  Many smaller bloggers appear to be blogging at a loss and are therefore at the mercy of (being whipsawed by) fluctuations in the credit markets; even a small rise in interest rates could set off a chain reaction as blog after blog collapses under impossible debt loads and financing dries up for the remaining blog blogger bloggy blog-blogs.  This could frustrate many serial bloggers who, having published only the first four installments of a story, suddenly find themselves prematurely in Chapter 7.

Accusations of dumping shoddy posts at below cost have been hurled at the usual suspects, who for their part argue that the US safety net, by providing money and food stamps to the poor and underemployed, is actually an illegal indirect subsidy to the US blogging industry.  The case will be brought before the WTO soon and the ruling may very well not be in the US' favor.  Clearly the feeding of people who are not working at traditional jobs gives them the time and energy to get on the net and wail away.  Whether the judges will see it that way is another thing that cannot yet be observed, or to borrow a familiar phrase, remains to be seen.

Of course the fundamental fallacy here is the notion that blogs should compete on cost.  Blogs should compete on quality – the quality of the phrases and ideas they deploy, the quality of their breakfast buns, the quality of their ham-fisted attempts at satire and their daft bigfoot-hunting tips, not only the number of clicks they attract but the quality of the clicks, the quality of the readers of the blog and the thought that they put into every click, the temperature of their finger and the meaning of the click, that is really where the value of a blog resides and must continue to reside if we are to continue blogging our way forward towards world domination (with, however, a somewhat light touch).

For our part, this blog is a family run business.  It has been in the family for three generations and it ain't for sale at any price.  We don't take no government handouts and we certainly ain't lookin for no overseas tax shelter loophole thingies.  All we want is a level playing field, decent officiating, mandatory testing for performance-enhancing behaviors, an open-minded freedom-loving audience and no funny business at the weigh-in.

But the business climate and the overall economic environment of today present unprecedented challenges.  The proliferation of mobile devices offering ubiquitous high-speed internet access combined with global warming and the depletion of fisheries is creating a climate in which only through carefully controlling cost structure and taking advantage of efficiencies of scale can a blog hope to survive in this difficult economic environment, with topsoil depletion and ocean acidification presenting unprecedented challenges to the modern blogger.

Gotta run, looks like the cheese grater is free.  Thanks to our studio audience, and to our musical guests The Substantive Issues.  See you next time everyone, good night.

03 December 2012

Debt / Vote Buyback


 A win-win idea for the debt slaves and the overlords

Okay, we've got the whole massive debt overhang thing, with too many people up to their eyeballs in IOUs they cannot possibly ever pay back. 

Most of the debt is owned by rich folk, not all of it mind you, but the lion's share.

Meanwhile, many members of the moneyed classes have been feverishly attempting to buy the government, spending more every year and yet if the results of the recent elections are any indication, they are losing the ability to get what they are paying for.  Because poor people can still vote.

Do you see it yet, do you see where this is going (man)?  Each side has something the other is increasingly desperate to obtain.  At some point a deal will be struck along the following lines:

You can buy your way out of debt by selling your vote. 

Let's say in exchange for forgiveness of every $1000 of debt, you can sell your vote for one year in any election in which you are eligible to vote.  Or that's the minimum price, could be much more depending on the circumstances; we'll let the market work that out.

This way rich people could go ahead and buy the government if they really wanted, but to do it they would have to relieve poor folk of the crushing burden of indentured servitude.

The sellers would (arguably) be getting more out of this arrangement than they could possibly have ever gotten by mere voting.  Yes it may involve a loss of dignity for the poor schmuck selling his/her vote – but is this really any worse than the indignity of being a debt slave?  And the debt holders would get some return on what increasingly looks like a bunch of otherwise worthless paper.

How much did, say, Sheldon Adelson spend this year anyway?  By some estimates it was 'tens of millions', let's call it $25 million.  So under this system for that he could have bought 25,000 vote-years, not a huge number in the overall scheme but perhaps enough to swing a race here and there.  And knowing exactly what he would be getting for his money, he may have been motivated to spend much more.

Who loses here?  Mostly the consultants, advertising firms, and so on tasked with spending the political donations.  You mean [Political Pundit X] would be out of a job?  I know, cry me a river, right?  I'm sure he'll land on his feet, red and puffy as they may be.  If he falls behind on his payments he can always sell his vote, same as the rest of us.

Sure there are potentially some issues to be solved, such as the moral hazard created, though this may not even be a problem.  How many people would deliberately run up huge debts, knowing they never gave two chits about voting in the first place?  Quite a few perhaps, but this would have the positive effect of stimulating consumer spending, as boatloads of people with zero disposable income are suddenly back in the game.  (Also keep in mind that each citizen would have a natural 'credit limit' of how many future votes they could sell, based on actuarial tables.  Of course the only logical punishment for exceeding this limit would be death, but I'm sure we can come up with something better than that.)  In any case all the bills would be paid by people with plenty to spare, who are already spending that much or more every election cycle anyway, and meanwhile many people who currently do not participate in the civic process would be drawn in.  Okay they'd just be pulling the lever for somebody someone else told them to vote for, but that doesn't sound like such a big change to me.

People in swing states could sell their votes for more, and the least populous swing states would be the easiest to buy; this might encourage relocation of heavy debtors to certain states and even to specific districts, which could have undesirable side effects for local governments.  Maybe we would need to just get rid of the Electoral College and eliminate the whole swing state issue.  But I don't want to get too far into the weeds today; I'm just yammering away here, not writing legislation. 

Okay, your turn.  In the Comments section, please share your thoughts and feelings after reading this, or if you prefer, just say something snarky or rant a bit about whatever gets your goat, whether or not it has any relevance whatsoever to the topic at hand.

21 November 2012

Five Ways to Get in on the Latest Trends by Learning What They Are and Then Doing What Other People Are Doing


Because the world needs more blog posts like this.

Rye whiskey.  Ever since Mad Men's debonair leading man Don Draper started drinking rye there has been a significant uptick in the consumption of rye whiskey.  This is a tragedy, as alcohol has ruined nearly as many lives as television and advertising put together.  Nonetheless if it feels good do it, and if a crisply produced TV drama makes drinking rye whiskey neat sound like a good idea then go ahead and try it, just be ready for the massive headache.

Belonging.  The trend toward independent self-reliance has long since crested, and these days it's all about belonging (baby).  Be a part of something bigger (and more fun at parties) than yourself.  The easiest way to follow this trend is to ask your friends and neighbors what they are joining and then join up too, follow the crowd.  Also, look to the internet, and blogs such as this one, for important information that can enrich – or, if used incorrectly, destroy – your life.

Skinny Ties.  Are these trendy these days or what?  Actually we're not sure – guess it depends how you define skinny, and more basically who you want to let tell you how wide your tie should be, assuming you even bother wearing a tie, which is a pretty weird article of clothing if you think about it.

Road Hugs.  Five to ten years ago it was road rage – doesn't that seem like sooo long ago?  Now angry drivers are giving out hugs and ankle massages; since both sides leave the exchange happier, the custom has spread like wildfire, and with only slightly less destructive effects.

Pilates.  Just kidding.  Pilates is sooo seven years ago, but it's never too late to get in shape with other forms of exercise currently in vogue, e.g. bloodletting, fig worship, 'Satchmo', rigorous coughing, squeezing blood from stones (aka 'The Euro'), Von Davis, Heart Pump II (the video game), Power Sifting, De-Baathification.

Television.  Widely known as "TV", television is more popular than ever and if you can’t afford one, or a library pass, start saving your pennies today, prices are dropping and soon you’ll be able to afford your very own 312" super-HD seven-dimensional shape-shifting TV set.  Televisions are mainly used for watching TV shows, though they can also display movie prices and stock quotes.  Some people watch Mad Men and others Breaking Bad, but for those looking to branch out there are also plenty of shows about vampires, sluts, and parliament ministers.

14 November 2012

The Restaurant Unto Itself


Well advertising revenue fell off a (yes, proverbial) cliff again last quarter, calling into serious question our viability as a going concern.  So while we did not want it to come to this, circumstances leave little choice.  Effective next Monday the twenty-third we are reopening our first-floor eatery and will be serving three meals a day, six days a week, for the foreseeable future.

We have decided to rebrand our little cafĂ© as a bistro, and at no additional cost to you the diner.  The name of the establishment shall be The Restaurant Unto Itself.

The Restaurant Unto Itself would certainly hope you'll stop by when you are tired, hungry, and yearning to breathe free (we will not charge for the oxygen) (though a small surtax may apply if you are emitting too much carbon dioxide). 

Our unique service model lets you order food along two dimensions, Content and Mode.  First you select the Content, that is, your main ingredients, sauces, method(s) of preparation, side dishes, toppings, and so forth; then choose the Mode in which you would like your meal, Active or Passive.  In passive mode the food sits quietly on your plate waiting to be consumed, much like most of the meals you've been enjoying all these years.  But in active mode look out, get ready for the meal of your life, food like you've never had it like this and please hold the handrails, bursting with realism and literally leaping right off the plate with startlingly complex flavors and surprising conversational junkets questioning some of the very foundations of your dining and life choices (providing food for thought as it were), perhaps even joining you for a post-prandial constitutional or, if sparks seem to be flying, boldly inviting you up to its place for a nightcap.  Note that if you choose a meal in active mode you assume full responsibility for the consequences; the kitchen will not be liable for the behavior of a meal after activation.  Diners with heart murmurs should order in furtive mode to avoid dysplasia.

We are thinking of instituting a prix fixe menu, we heard you can make a killing that way.  Tell us if you think we should go prix fixe or a la carte in the Section du Comment.

And talk about fancy: Everything on the menu will come with at least one sprig of something else, as garnish.

On Thursdays the FM radio will be played loud enough for some of the customers sitting near the front counter to hear.  No charge will be levied for this amenity.

If you don't have anywhere else to go for your holiday dinner, once a year we do a spray-on foam ham that is out of this world.
 
Beverages may be blended on request.  Milkshakes will come in two flavors: Regular, and Other.  

More in this space, etc. etc.

06 November 2012

American People Saving Up for New Train Set


Or Not

We Want One of Those High-speed Ones That Goes Super Fast, A Pampered People Demands

The American People bounded out of their room around nine-thirty this morning and declared from the top of the stairs their desire for a new train set, hopefully one of the new super-fast ones like the Japanese or French People’s.

As of this writing, the People could not agree on whether the train should be silver, red, black, white, any of thirty-three other colors suggested or one of the innumerable combinations thereof, whose houses would have to be knocked down, who would get the cushy union jobs collecting the tickets, who grabs the contracts to build the damn thing and how to use the whole undertaking as an excuse to funnel public money to large corporate conglomerates whose operations are at best only marginally related to the new train's operation, how they would possibly save enough money to pay for it since they make seven-fifty an hour and their parents were making them pay their own cable now and they had kind of hoped to go to Cancun with the gang for Rickie's birthday, how many trains will run daily between Syracuse and Schenectady, and two other issues too embarrassing to be discussed in the mixed company that is inevitably present on the modern internet.

The American People then thought twice about it, decided that saving up would take way too long, and started printing money to give to the Middle Kingdom in exchange for assistance in building a new train set just like theirs.

We'll have more on The Infant Brain, as it develops.

30 October 2012

Creating Economic Opportunity: My Basement Science Park


With typical unselfishness I have decided to open up another science-industrial park in my basement, to take advantage of regional clustering effects and accelerate time to market in order to boost the competitiveness of local industry and generate ginormous tax revenues for the new imperial palace I've got in mind plus a four thousand percent ramp-up in military expenditure to underwrite a new wave of foreign adventurism that will establish lopsided trading relationships to suck natural resources from nations poorer than us at conveniently depressed prices, which can only further stimulate the domestic economy and create widespread jobs and happiness and put a few dollars in consumers' pockets so they can go out and pick up the next big electronic gadgets that will be produced in mass quantities in my basement science park, which will cover an area of 0.04 hectares with buildings and roads and all that stuff, plenty of space for R&D facilities and no shortage of comfortable chairs.

In order to create jobs, we will be hiring vast armies of laborers and management and providing a generous salary and benefits package to encourage maximum productivity while at the same time fostering a hip company culture and emphasizing work-life balance giving every employee time to recharge their batteries so they can really buckle down and focus on producing the next boatload of gadgets and apps that will not only make our lives easier and more complete but also unleash a new wave of economic opportunity by increasing productivity and making any type of service accessible to anyone anytime anywhere which will unleash yet another wave of entrepreneurialism so that all of our employees can start their own side businesses creating even more jobs for their friends and family members and eventually grow these fledgling companies into established enterprises that can cluster together in science park basements where they can form complete supply chains that offer comprehensive one-stop shopping and service-based customer-facing win-win relationship-building until everyone's head explodes, the end.

18 October 2012

Proverbial Endorsement: Auggie


In these trying times for this great nation it is important that each citizen, no matter how badly misguided / misinformed, stands up loud and starts ranting about politics, the wrongness / insanity of the opposition and the evils of 'the system'.  Normally we keep a safe distance from the fray, preferring for our giggles to continuously seek variations on the same nine or so silly tropes we've been recycling since childhood.  But at the end of the day we have to admit our dependence on our fellow humans for survival, and that even though a great number behave like disgusting pigheaded simians, we should at least make a superficial attempt to find common cause with the least objectionable among them, lest the rest should seize (the reins of) power and make the future, like the typical [star you scorn] movie, not as good as it could have been.

That's why, as long as we must have these practically pointless hullabaloos called elections, we hereby endorse the unnamed candidate we can only refer to obliquely as "Auggie".

Supporters of Auggie see no reason to look elsewhere.  He simply looks presidential.  He embodies the ethos of the times.  He can lead from the front or from behind, heck he can lead from either wing or give you solid minutes at center in a crunch.  He is firm in his principles yet open to alternative points of view and in the end willing to compromise to achieve the greater good, narrowly defined.  He is a devoted family man or woman as the case may be.  He will lower your taxes and raise your deficits and you won't even notice or care because he's so smooth on TV, he'll even pop by for a beer once in a while and regale you with hunting and cavalry stories until you fall asleep, smiling, on his knee.  He is everything a president should and must be, electability notwithstanding.

Not that Auggie is without detractors, who point to his or her lack of a strong track record of fighting for the right to introduce legislation opposing tramways, and the existence of certain long-ago associations with (all together now) unsavory characters.  Nonetheless we believe that, examining the whole of Auggie's career, the unmistakable backbone of silent relentless moral goodness and dedication to bettering the lot of the common person comes shining through like a beacon of ... a beacon of ... bacon?  No, like a beacon of achievement, shining the reflection of the beam of hope back onto ... bacon?  What the–?  Who keeps–?  [Laughter offstage]  Stop it!  You are ruining the endorsement.

As for his performance in the debates, everyone does it these days and if Auggie took a few too many quaaludes before the proceedings, that just goes to cement his image as a man of the people.  We all make mistakes, and Auggie makes some doozies to be sure, but now more than ever, in these uncertain times, we need a president who is not afraid to make too many mistakes, even if it means popping an extra quaalude or two.

Vote for Auggie, simps: Let Hope Be Alive Right This Goddamn Second for Making Tomorrow a Better Future, Today.

This endorsement was paid for by Moneyed Persons for Auggie Should S/He Ever Actually Come Into Being and Run, United.  It may help to imagine it as read aloud, with feeling, by Jack Nicholson.

06 October 2012

"The Coming Collapse" with our friend J.J. Freedman


We are living in Roman times my friends, and such times by their very definition must end.

Hello, dear readers, I’m J.J. Freedman and I'm the host of the new column: The Collapse.

I think a lot of people are like me, we're kind of wondering.  We know society is going to hell on a greased pole in a handbasket, it seems pretty clear that civilization as we know it is about to go careening off a cliff and fall smack dab onto an iceberg that will rip a gaping hole in the hull of the steamship of progress.  But still, we have lots of questions.  

What exactly is this nightmare world we're headed toward actually gonna look like?

I mean are we talking Mad Max, civilization as we know it gone and it's just a total flipping free-for-all?   Or is it more like Waterworld?  What with global warming and all I could see that – just water, man, as far as the eye can see.  And the beach is like on top of the tallest mountain ... that would be heavy. 

I mean it'd be a hard life don’t get me wrong, but at least it would mean something, you know?  Does the way things are today mean anything to you?  Do you think the center can hold?  Is there any way to stop humanity from so over-consuming as to do catastrophic damage to the ecosystems on which we depend for survival?  I think we can all agree on the answers here.

Anyway Mad Max seemed a bit over the top; I wonder if we're not headed more toward a Postman-type thing – all the technology is gone and while some institutions hold together on a small scale, mostly it's like all warlords and shit.  In that case I guess I just need to know how to farm, grow potatoes and raise pigs and chickens, maybe a fish pond, live lean and occasionally starve – and of course be able protect my family from roving gangs of bandits led by guys like Christopher Walken.  That's not gonna be easy, but I'm a good guy and I think it's likely I'll survive and even marry a fantastic woman although I may lose one minor character close to me, possibly even one of my own kids.  That would suck satan's crack, but hey I'll survive to the movie's end, at least.

My major concern is, is there going to be more than one attractive woman per village, or is this gonna be like a total sausage fest?

Speaking of technology, what about the robots?  Will robots be all but alive, able to inter-replicate, and feel?  Will we be confronted with the moral dilemma of their near humanity, like in AI, Robot?  Or is it safe to say they'll always be kind of clunky and as easily unplugged as you would a toaster?

And what caused it?  Is it like all post-apocalyptic, everything's melted and everyone's filthy and diseased?  I mean did a nuclear hoe-down go down?  Or does it look and feel just like our world, except that there's something strangely weird about it?  Could it happen without the big catalyst, could things just gradually get worse and worse until we wake up one day and the nightmare is reality?  Are we on a slippery slope to Idiocracy?  That wouldn't be so bad, it looked like they still got some decent food and plenty of sex and drugs, hell just maybe I could rise up and be president of the stooges.  I'm as good as Luke Wilson.

These are some of the answers that some of the people like me are asking questions about.  I hope that in the coming months we can explore these questions and maybe shed some light on our collective vision of the future. 

Excelsior!

28 September 2012

Announcement only for Newsletter Subscribers: A Change in Strategy


If you don’t subscribe to the Proverbial Newsletter, please do not read any further.  It would not be fair to the many paid subscribers, and effectively an act of on-line piracy.

Regular subscribers to our newsletter may be relieved to learn that, after an extensive subcommittee review, we have decided to drop our plans to seize control of time and take over the universe.  A recalculation of the costs and benefits of so doing led to the inescapable conclusion that the endeavor simply was not worth the time and energy required (not to mention the unspeakable suffering our efforts would undoubtedly have inflicted on countless innocents).  So we're putting that one back on the shelf and you won't hear anything about it again, barring some unforeseen change in fundamental conditions that could swing the calculus back the other way.

Instead we have determined that merely seizing control of the sun will afford total dominion over this world and the next.  Since life on earth is dependent on the sun for survival, control of same is effective control over all life on earth.  And though there will no doubt be some difficulties, compared to managing the flow of time it appears relatively doable.  However, it will not be cheap and that is where you come in.  No we are not calling you cheap, in fact quite the contrary: we need your generous contributions in order to cover the tremendous investment we are making in your future.  That's right, this is the single most important investment you will ever make.  It is likely to determine whether we can succeed in controlling the sun and cutting you in on a piece of the action, or whether the sun is to remain uncontrolled and your life to continue in (much the same) vain, devoid of meaning, alternately plodding and careening aimlessly towards certain death.

The more (and the sooner) you give, the more you will get on our good side, and after we have achieved our objective you can rest assured there will be plenty of sunlight (but less of the cancer causing kind) shining on you and the crops of those you hold dear.  If you don't donate just a wee bit more than you can afford, right now – frankly, the consequences themselves shudder to be thought of.

Bonus Newsletter Item: Free pizza will be offered in this space on Monday afternoons between five and seven pm.  We plan to make our money back by jacking up the price of soda.  So if you like pizza and can tolerate it without soda, stop by on Monday afternoons and you will totally get your money's worth.  Even if you like soda, the free pizza is not bad.  Just don’t come in at like 7:03 looking for free slices because we are not playing that game, free ends at seven sharp and pizza prices are expected to rise dramatically after that, though the effect on consumer wallets will be moderated by a decline in the price of soda, which had been kept artificially high during the free pizza giveaway bonanza period.

Plus, also, and in addition to that dept.: Margie and Joe got married this week.  Congrats to Margie and Joe.  If you're getting married soon let us know in time for the next newsletter and we'll announce it for you, for free (with purchase of a medium soft drink).

15 September 2012

On the Merging of Politics and Sports


It is clear that The Country is coming apart at the seams, and what is needed is a heavy dose of social cohesion.  One of the few subjects capable of bringing diverse groups of people together these days seems to be professional sports.  Therefore, professional sports must be brought into the political process.  And not just implicitly – as for example the Cleveland Brownshirts – but by law.  The teams and their fan bases must become political parties to advocate for and protect their particular interests.  This will increase political participation and our sense of community and go a long way towards revitalizing this great nation of yours, mine, and ours.

Sure some people don't like sports.  Nothing wrong with that.  But every citizen is or can be persuaded to become a fan of at least one team, if not for the policy platform then for the ancillary social benefits or the color scheme.

Instead of extending unemployment benefits for 'the poor', a vague and easily otherizable designation, it would be framed as, "We need to extend Lombardi Benefits for needy Packer fans."  This is something all Packer fans can get behind: Green and Gold, The Glory, Bart Starr, Jerry Kramer and all that.  Any Packer fan would support a modest surtax on every brat with the money earmarked to fund community education programs for Packer fans less fortunate than themselves.  Just like the Giants didn’t give up on Eli Manning after his first three subpar seasons – and look what it got them: two friggin super bowls – we can't give up on young Brian even if he's flunked his welder's certificate twice, we can extend those benefits because we know he's gonna get back on his feet, consume his share of cheese-filled foodstuffs and give us much-needed special teams depth for the stretch run.

We will have to redraw the electoral map a little bit to accommodate the overlapping fan bases of different sports and cities.  After all, Raider fans should not be taxed to support 49er fans and vice versa.  And a Bronco fan living in San Diego should not have his hard earned money taxed to support the Chargers, I think we can all agree that is not what The Framers had in mind.  Yes the world has changed a whole hunk since they met behind Fort Sumter circa 1763, but some principles are enduring. 

At this time, as with any cockamamie idea, we should focus not on the difficulties but the possibilities. 

Imagine having elections decided by the outcome of the Penguins-Flyers series, determining the passage of legislation by the OBP leaders or taxation rates by the fifth at Pimlico, deciding whether to launch another pointless foreign war based on the results of another pointless late-season Wolverhampton match.

Let the games double as city council meetings, with seven minutes of every halftime set aside for civic matters, doing the public's business and so forth.  Referenda or simple up or down votes on questions of public policy could be speedily conducted by asking fans to flash one of two sides of a pre-distributed placard.  In election seasons games might include campaign rallies, where the candidates briefly outline their vision and policy proposals, take a few seconds to malign and misrepresent their opponent, and then demonstrate their physical fitness as well as ability to handle complex legislation in the Punt, Pass, and Kick.

Chew on that for a second.  We'll be right back to talk more about politics, after this succession of slickly produced, highly charged moments from our sponsors.

04 September 2012

President Announces 10% Across the Board Pay Cut


Apparently the Massive Layoff Stimulus Package was only able to generate a minimal impact on economic growth, and the Austerity Measures have failed to curb our ridiculous penchant for spending the future.  Sterner measures are long overdue, so hold on to your hats because here they come.

Quoth the President:  Effective immediately, your salary is to be reduced by ten percent, this while most of your costs will continue increasing at least that fast.

This pay cut will not affect people with way more money than you, on the contrary the money will primarily be used to fund lavish bonuses for all CEOs so that they will not be tempted to quit their jobs because without their fantastic magical productivity (and business acumen, leadership savvy, etc.), how would any hardworking serf ever have a job to begin with? 

In exchange for voluntarily surrendering 10% of your salary, your work hours will be increased by 20%, your health insurance premiums doubled and coverage slashed, while the prices of milk, eggs, and butter will increase by (respectively) 50%, extra buck a dozen, 60% surcharge when you buy more than one stick.

On a more positive note, ten percent is really not that much, given how fat you been livin'.  If you cut out a few luxuries like donuts and too much soap your likelihood of dying due to hunger or exposure will not measurably increase.  

Plus, also, and in addition to that, recreational drug prices continue to decline and suicide assistance will now be offered free of charge, if you wanna go that route.

Be careful what you say about this new policy because they can pretty much watch you all the time now, your phone company lets them know any time you make a move and systems are in place that will rat you out if you become involved in any nefarious plots.  Yes, cutting-edge computers now grasp the concept of 'nefarious'; if we could just get them to scrub all the toilets, we could eliminate your excuse for existing entirely.

More on this story as it festers.  This is the cuter of the Olson Twins, safe and snug in my pink flannel pjs, reporting.

22 August 2012

What’s Papular with Rosie Collingsworth


Welcome to my inaugural column, I'm Rosie Collingsworth.

I was brought on board to discuss current trends and newsmakers, to offer my gossips and insights into matters of taste and popular culture.  You may find what I have to say shocking, enlightening, or incredibly lame.  Then again some day Hell may host the Winter Olympics.  (And by the way, organizing committee: if you’re going to distinguish between ice skating and ice dancing, the dancers should not be wearing skates – hell-lo-o!)

When Michael Jackson got his third facelift I was shocked.  Wait, what was I talking about?  Let me start again. My name is Rosie Collingsworth, and I know: What’s Papular.

Let's start with X, did you hear the latest juice about Tipsy Boozer, the Hollywood starlet who can't keep her hands on the tracks and eyes on the wheel, or as the old song says:
She's trashin the house
She's a souse
Knocked off her center
She's a detox renter

A private word to my friend Tipsy: get off the sauce, hoss.

By the way:  Since all pop is pap, what is popular is ipso facto papular; ergo, life is a papularity contest.

Just got back from the Venice Film Festival, which oddly enough was held at Cannes this year.  The Pippin Twins' new release was a scalding sensation, it was everything that nobody thought it could be, the characters absolutely bursting with realism and the irony too thick to hack your way through with a hot buttered chainsaw.  The new Boney McJoyless flick on the other hand was a wretched disappointment, hard to fathom how the same minds who gave us The Sodomist's Rigmarole could in good conscience put their names on this phlegmatic piece of cinematic hoohah.

En literature dept.: Another sequel to The Spidermen?  Really, Steven King and Hollywood, that's the best you can come up with?  Shame on you. 

[Note to self: Do I sound too much like Jacky Harvey here?  Shame on me!]

And now to hear that Celebrity X was found naked with a hooker.  Why of all the indecent things to be caught with your pants down, red-handed, doing.  And dear me, does someone so good looking and obviously charismatic need to pay for it like that?  What is going on with these people, anyway?  One of these days fans are going to become sick and fed up with Hollywood and refuse to attend any films or click on any on-line news stories detailing the degenerate shenanigans of these debauched perverts.  Mark my words.

Gotta wrap this up on a lighter note.  Happy birthday to all the celebrities and other famous people, and happy equinox to Alex Baldwin, who will turn 53 one of these days if he hasn't already, and just seems like a really good guy, despite the whole shoe-bomber episode.

13 August 2012

Monetization Warning

Lovers of free content, beware.  Your human right to unlimited free content is in danger of being perilously close to being withdrawn at any time and without your consent. 

Notice:  Effective next Monday the 23rd at 2 p.m. Western Standard Time, Monetization will be in full effect.  No more free rides, cowboys, everything has its price and this, the Bert Convy of weblogs, is no exception.

Those reading at home will have a plethora of payment options.  So get out a pen and pencil and prepare a blank back of the envelope, crunch the numbers and then consult your tax attorney before choosing the option that best fits your needs.

Subscription
Several tiers of subscription will be offered, from Super Elite Class (179.95 monthly, includes free access to all posts, hell you can write your own if you like) to the Basic Plan (3.50 per month, you can read each post for nine minutes, then it's seventy-five cents a minute for the next ten minutes, and after that you get free unlimited access but your screen will slowly get brighter and brighter until at around minute 23 most test subjects were unable to continue reading, with 34% reporting symptoms of nausea, blinding headaches and temporary flippancy, and a much smaller but not insignificant number suffering a permanent warpage of the ball of the eye).

Paid Advertising
Those too cheap to subscribe, as well as those inflated with a misguided sense of what they are 'entitled' to, will be subjected to a relentless barrage of advertising in every form. Access may be blocked at random moments and approximately every seventh word will be blacked out or changed to 'Sisyphean'.  Cookies will be deposited on the reader's computer and, if he/she fails to purchase enough of the advertised products within seven days of visiting the site, chocolate milk will follow.

Voluntary Donations
Voluntary donations are always accepted, indeed a donation box has been set up to serve precisely that purpose.  If you do decide to donate you get "nothing you can see or feel, not even a receipt" – but giving generally makes people feel good, and you are no exception.  Please give generously.

The above will run on a trial basis, until more efficient methods are devised to squeeze every last ounce of juice out of you.  We'll be sure and let you know up front, in advance and in big letters.  Or maybe not.  As always, check the fine print, your results may vary, and don't say we didn’t warn you, that will be very difficult to establish in court against our squadron of overpriced lawyers / homunculi.

01 August 2012

Ants: A Provisional Pre-Post

Haven't been blogging about ants much lately but don't think that means I've forgotten about 'em.

Really fascinating creatures when you get right down to it, getting to know them as individuals, dating their daughters, undergoing initiation to the salacious rituals that underpin their really quite peculiar lifestyle.  Not that there's anything wrong with it of course, ants will be people and all that, but there's just something slightly sub-human about the whole thing, I don't know how they live like that but hey that's just me, I'm not here to judge anybody.

Right, ants.  Totally relentless and there's no reasoning with 'em.

They certainly have a right to exist, that is not something you will hear me denying in these pages.  I'm all too happy to see them going about their doings with apparent diligence -- though whether the ants themselves regard their toil as rewarding or as drudgery is not obvious, I think it could go either way sometimes. They're an important if not critical part of the eco-system and as such, I certainly welcome their presence in many contexts.

However.

When the ants repeatedly and in the face of constant pleas and warnings incur into my home, pile up on my half-finished tiramisu and I was planning to eat that later, and run their sticky-footed columns across my living room floor, at some point I must say No, enough is enough, this is not an important aspect of my domestic ecosystem but an invasion, an infestation that is no longer tolerable to the civilized person.

Action must be taken and since they just won't listen, since it's clear that only by killing them back to their home, only by decimating their ranks with the same relentlessly insistent persistence (yes I get paid by the word) that they showed in decimating that empty beer can, can we ever hope to dream of beginning to contain their onward march.

Sometimes when I'm killing them -- and I only kill ants by hand, I think it's only fair to stand there and face em as individuals, I'll get right down and try to look each little bugger in the eye, I give him a last warning and a chance to retreat -- as I deliver the final death blow I'll declare to my victim: Go, and tell them who killed you.  Saying this results in a tremendous rush of personal power and at the same time is unfailingly efficacious in convincing them not to return for at least seven generations, which unfortunately is not very long but it does give you a little break now and again.

28 July 2012

Paper Facebook


The entity known as Facebook should be legally required to make itself available in paper form, so that those who lack access to computers are no longer deprived of their inalienable right to participate in the defining social phenomenon of the period roughly 2007-2015.

At the very least, it should not be allowed to call itself a book.  Books are made of paper, or failing that, can be read on a Kindle.  A name change to Facewebsite, Friend-e-pages, BuddyPlatform, Virtual Palville or the like should be mandated by law.  Either words mean what they mean, or they don't.  We can't have it both ways.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the dual problems of lack of access and improper nomenclature.  The answer is Paper Facebook.

Imagine that every morning – wait, no: up to six times per day, depending on your payment plan, proximity to the local post office, and the weather – you have delivered to your mailbox a handsomely bound volume of printouts of screen shots of status updates from your friends.  With each of these 'Newsfeeds' comes a response form: you can tick a box to Like something, write (or typewrite) in your comment, attach a web link or, for those without computers, the address or phone number of a person or publication to serve as a reference or perhaps provide some humorous perspective on the issue at hand … and so on and so forth.  When done affix postage to the return envelope and send to the Virtual Palville data processing center for entry / uploading.  If you want to 'download' a photo simply fill out Request for Image Form RIH370-J and mail it in along with $1.50 for shipping and handling and a SASE.  As volume is high, expect to receive your photos within 45 business days. 

Think of how many jobs this would create – there goes unemployment, right there.  And they would be good jobs.  Folks always be kvetching that they want their job to be doing something they love, well they're already clicking around on Faceburg all day anyway, now they’d have a job doing it, and with decent benefits, and Zuck would be the one paying them but heck he should be paying them.  They would be earning good money helping friends share with each other, which is really the most important thing in life, so they would be delighted to do it and have nothing to gripe about.  Can't really see any downside.

Okay more forests will be cut down but hey, that's just life in the internet age.  We can’t stop these unstoppable trends and if it means we have to cut down our forests again, Paper Faceborg will totally be worth it for the opportunity it provides to simultaneously neglect and overshare with people who are at least in some sense our friends.  Future generations will thank us for the hysterical internet memes we leave behind which will provide them a cheap source of entertainment in the bleak times to come, which are just an abstraction for us but the only reality they will ever know.

So come on People of the Legislature (O Mighty Lawmakers lol):  Get off your elbows already and start imposing senseless mandates on Facebank.

19 July 2012

Animals: We Wanna Borrow From the Future Too

Humans are the cleverest animals, one proof of this assertion being that we are the only species to have created the means to live beyond our means.  Only humans can borrow from the future.

Imagine acquiring food and shelter, impressing a potential mate, and so on, based on something that does not yet exist and may in fact never be.  Genius, or chutzpah?  You be the judge.

But if humans are animals then so are animals, and so the animals have decided that if humans can do it, then non-human animals certainly can too.

Animals are now demanding access to micro-credit financing, a sort of Grameen Bank for the furred and the feathered.

Let's say a hungry squirrel can borrow twenty or so acorns against next year's gathering in order to get through a particularly trying winter.  Or maybe she thinks it would be a better investment to have an extra two or three pups this year, when there's an early spring or to take advantage of particularly low interest rates, and then spread out the cost over several years of low monthly payments.  Currently in nature there is no simple way for her to accomplish this.  She can save a limited amount of acorns, but the earnings are effectively negative due to decomposition and the depredations of the lower orders. There is no mechanism for her to borrow against future earnings, and this in effect is a denial of her rights as a nonhuman animal.

If a squirrel had access to credit, say it could borrow enough to invest in something like a popcorn machine, just think what a squirrel selling popcorn to the other squirrels could make.  Squirrels love popcorn.  This squirrel could then franchise the business, creating good jobs for many other squirrels while retiring to live fat off their hard work for the rest of its life.  (Only on the order of ten years or so, let's keep in mind.)

Of course many will argue that it is only the elites of the animal kingdom, the top 0.1 % in terms of net wealth, the rent-seekers (or 'job creators' if you prefer) who live on the toils of the lower classes (not to mention phyla), who will really benefit from this development.  But this short-sighted view is based on a misconception of nature as a zero-sum game: in fact, one squirrel's gain need not be another's loss, or in other words a rising tide lifts all stoats.

The question is not so much whether humans should allow this nor whether we can stop it, but how we can profit from it.  It is the next natural step in the evolution of the animal kingdom.  We enjoy dominion over the entire planet (more or less) and lord it over all animal species:  why should they not be our debt slaves too? 

Animal micro-credit is coming:  you can bank on that.  I'm former child star actor Bobby Donatelli who went on to sell depilatory creams on late-night cable, reporting live from right here where I’m trying to rebuild my brand as a no-nonsense journalist, live at the scene, reporting.  Alex?

10 July 2012

Filed Under Random Nonsense

Found this written on the back of an envelope that had fallen behind my freezer as I was cleaning it the other day:  “He was as tough a customer as y’ever come across, and among the most hypocritical too.  First he’d go and get high, then he’d get his horse high, then he’d get on his high horse and lecture anyone in earshot on the evils of substance abuse.”

Swimming is among the healthiest forms of exercise, and raw carrots high on the list of healthy foods, yet the attempt by this reviewer to enjoy the two simultaneously somehow failed to achieve the expected synergies.  More experiments may be in order.

Just for the heck of it I Googled ceremoniously unsexy wombat and it came back with 153 results last year, but today it is up to 595 results.  Not enough to identify a clear trend perhaps, but it seems far from true that ostentatious, unattractive wombats are no longer a thing to be reckoned with.

I just want to be able to put food on the table.  Oh and beverages, maybe some booze and a deck of cards or a board game.

OK, we need a plan and we need a purpose.  But the purpose cannot pretend there is no suffering, because there isn’t.  Such cacophony is not for the wicked.  It is for the elderly.  Unless a turnkey solution is available from a vendor with the same or similar price structure.  The embodiment of lemons is not Liz Lemon any more than Alec the Bald wins the gold prize for filibustering a nuthatch.  In croquet we cannot trust.  Oh goodness we’ve gone off again.  Somebody hit Reset.  There that’s got it.

So I’m opening a new restaurant, hope you’ll stop by when you’re tired, hungry, and yearning to breathe free (we will not charge you for the oxygen).  We will be serving milkshakes in two flavors: Regular and Other.

The whistleblower blows his whistle, but who’s blowing the whistleblower?  And if a whistleblower blows the whistle, in the woods, with no journalist there to cover it, does it make a splash?

What if there’s a God, but he’s just like the God of Earth, so he’s literally up there in heaven, above the atmosphere, and he does control things down here on earth, meting out justice as he sees fit, sending floods and tornadoes to punish the wicked, right, he’s omnipotent, but only within the domain of the Earth-Moon system.  Will such a God ever permit us to really explore space?  And if somehow we did venture to another solar system, and meet another God, wouldn’t that make a great movie?

She had a body that wouldn’t quit, but her face dripped with resignation.

Every Oreo I eat I really savor™.  Like I’m in that scene in The Pianist at the train depot, when they each get a tiny taste of chocolate as they’re waiting to be hauled away.  Let it melt in your mouth, savoring to the last atom, not knowing when – or if – such pleasure will come again.  (Thoughtful pause.)  I’ll eat a whole bag that way.

30 June 2012

Insufferable Silence

Today I'd like to talk in some detail about declining fertility rates in the developing world and the implications for the future of the human species.  But since I don't know dick about that, here's some useless verbiage on the subject of

Silence!

Silence is slowly killing us.  We are going deaf drowning in the constant hum of silence.

For God's sake someone please blare upon us some loud rock music before we collapse of this insufferable silence.

The day the silence died I was driving my mother-in-law home after another uneventful night at the canasta tables and the things she revealed to me in the car, well I haven't had a quiet moment since.

How I adore the silence of the rain falling on my roof.  The silent smiling of a child's laughter (at daybreak I suppose).  The cacophonous hush of the running of the bulls, the silent screams of the terrified toro-trampled teens.

Silence is golden my ass.  Silence is metallic gray.  Silence is a Fiat Currency with a hole in the muffler.

Shhh!  Please be quiet and don't interrupt the silence while it's talking to me.

Silence is the whisper of the gods, the sound of nothing making nary a noise, the assassin's silent stalk a split-second before sniper-strike … the silence of the elves facing Santa.

It's so quiet I can't hear myself think.  Could someone please turn on some golf?

Silence is overrated and badly misunderstood.  Much of the maniacal behavior in modern society can be linked directly to the lack of silence in too many facets of life.  I will have more to say about this in future posts.

And now, on behalf of silence, let us have a moment of (you guessed it) deafening racket.

Ladies and gentleman, please put your hands together, and keep them there, for Bachman!  Turner!!  O-VER-DRIVE!!!

20 June 2012

Time Saving Apps

There are 2 many good books, 2 many good tv shows, and 2 many sources of information right now and rather than slow down and take it all in at a human pace, what we desperately need is something that will help us consume, process, and apply all this information much, much faster.

We need some sort of machine (or "app") so I can watch a 2 hour movie in, say, six seconds.  That way I could watch hundreds of the best films of all time in a single weekend.  The software would remember all the best parts and have every director, actor and character's name at the tip of my fingers so I could casually reference them 2 astonish unsuspecting partygoers with my comprehensive knowledge of modern cinema.

Another app could automatically keep in touch with all of my friends, analyzing the footage from the cameras I'll have strapped 2 all their 4heads and producing a slick compilation of nothing but the best moments, and then, after reviewing my own recent experience tapes, and based on the thousands of examples of my correspondence in existence, sending them my best regards recounting my latest adventures and inquiring after their child's graduation or the state of their meniscus following knee surgery.  After the app reads their replies it emits the slightest pulse of electric current 2 accomplish the warming of my heart, exactly as if I had real human friends 2 do so.

And what about eating, how many times a day do I have 2 eat already?  If we can computerize the whole food gathering, production, consumption, doing the dishes and waste disposal thing, you know, do all of our dining 'in the cloud', that will free up a significant amount of time 4 web surfing, blogging, and video games, not 2 mention the really important things in life.

With all of this automated, I'll finally have time 4 the really important things in life.  Like slowing down for a second 2 make some coffee and then work on the three novels I've started but just haven't had the time and resolve 2 finish.  Or spending the afternoon listening 2 old 45s while sandpapering a log down 2 its bare essence.  I always wanted 2 learn 2 play the banjo, or fight with my legs, or speak European.  I bet it would only take me a few hours 2 walk downtown from here, and who knows what I might see along the way.  Maybe I'll go 2 the beach. 

Know what you're saying: Why don't I just create an app that could finish my novel or go 2 the beach 4 me?  But maybe I'm just a little old-fashioned that way.  I'll twiddle my own thumbs, thank you very much.