20 December 2013

Leader Declares The Great Monetization

There is only one way out from under the massive debt sword of Damocles overhanging Civilization, only one way to get our economy moving again and that is to go ahead and monetize everything.  Yes everything.  If you read the last few sentences you owe .003 cents, payable in the coin of the realm.  Not to say you should try reading something else, since this blog is and will remain one of the cheapest things you can focus your attention on. 

Doesn't matter what you look at, from now on it all costs, just a question of how much.  Prices will be determined by market forces.  If everyone is looking at a certain hot thing it will cost more.  This will go a long way to raising the quality of popular music, TV, film, and so on, since something will actually have to be really good to be worth paying attention to while it's hot.  On the other hand, if you’re just staring up at a small corner of the sky that no one else is interested in, it will be virtually free, though a tiny charge will still apply, even the sky has to cover basic overhead.

Closing your eyes will not help – much.  While it will probably be cheaper than opening them, a contemplation tax will be levied to prevent too many people from driving around with their eyes shut.  It will still cost money to enter a sensory deprivation tank, but once inside the meter will stop running, as long as you don't think about anything too interesting.

Staring into space will become prohibitively costly for the broad masses (the erstwhile hoi polloi) and thus be adopted as a status symbol by the elite. 

Handshakes, hugs, sunsets ... no one is giving this stuff away any more.   No one is giving away nothing.  They can't afford to, because if nothing is what people want, market forces will drive up the price until nothing costs more than something.  That is human nature, it's inevitable and it's a done deal so get used to it.

You want me to get you a glass of water?  Sure, I'll give you a discount because you're a guest in my house, and I was gonna get myself something to drink anyway -- but that kind of friendship only goes so far these days.  I'm gonna have to charge you a small something.  I gotta stay in business, man, I got quarterly revenue targets to meet.

Sensors attached to your every nook and cranny will record your consumption of the various elements and emissions of biochemical byproducts, and transmit the results directly to Accounts Payable for instantaneous processing.  For your whole life, you'll be continuously running up bills and paying them off in real time.  Don't worry, it will cost a bit more but won't feel much different, and just think of the convenience!

09 December 2013

Open Letter to Rafael Palmeiro

The idea of the open letter brims with comic potential.  In the hands of a talented artist, a series of silly slash satirical open letters could bring the house down.  But alas our budgets have been eviscerated and most of the writing staff are retraining for exciting careers as avuncular butchers or crazed ornithologists.  Thus the following.

Dear Mr. Palmeiro:

Although you don't know me from the proverbial Adam 'Pacman' Jones, and I don't know you and know nothing of your current circumstances or frame of mind, nevertheless we have to write letters to celebrities for my pilates ceritification program and when I saw the list they gave us to pick from, you were the best left-handed bat available at a price that won't explode my salary cap or lock me into heavy long-term financial commitments that could tamp down the sale price when we eventually look to unload this mess of a franchise on the next deserving sucker.

So Rafael Palmeiro, former Cubs and Rangers slugger, how are you?  We're all good lately, not much new around here.  "We" being my dog Deb, my cats Pooches and Scoundrel, my wives Percival and LaHelen, Percival's ocelot Dangles and our lovely children Beatrice (11), Vortex (9), and the as yet unnamed third one (Lord Leopold Plumtree, 6).

You sure made a lot of money during your playing days, more I would imagine than any reasonable person could spend in a lifetime and I have no doubt you are a reasonable man.  So how you living today man?  Send me some photos of your house (I bet you have a pool – am I right?).  Where do you live anyway?  What do you do all day when you don’t really have to work?  Or do you?  Are you an announcer or a coach or something?  Or did you start a bar and grill?  Fill me in, I'd love to hear all about it.

Most open letters try to call someone out or correct some injustice or something so you may think I'm going to lay some trip on you about that whole controversy over – oh never mind, I come not to rag but merely to communicate, human to human and missive to missive, plus as I mentioned it's a requirement for my pilates certificate and it has to be at least 400 words so I'm gonna crank out one more paragraph before I wrap this thing up.

I enjoyed watching you hit the baseball for the Chicago Cubs back in the day.  Lee Smith was good too, and Keith Moreland, did you play with those guys, I forget…?  Have you seen them lately?  If so tell Lee Smith he had a great fastball, and tell Keith to answer my telegrams, it's been like three months and nothing, not so much as a Stop telexing me every morning or I'll send over some goons forthwith.  And of course the inimitable Harry Caray, you're also associated with him in my mind, which is awesome, what a guy, and I mean all of you.

The courtesy of a reply is hereby requested.

Yours Sincerely, etc. etc.

Coming soon (or maybe never): Open Letter to People With Open Marriages and/or Open Wounds

30 November 2013

Membership Drive

“Like a cattle drive, but with more prodding”

Many readers are undoubtedly fed up with so much of the preachy nonsense that dominates the modern internet, sick sore and tired of blogs telling them what to do all day.  These readers want something fun.  Why can’t we have a few innocent laughs once in a while without thinking about human suffering or the rights of the impaled?

Others will point out that the present moment is no time for frivolity, and that some blog or other had better start telling people what to do fast because left to themselves they seem to have no idea.  Most energy is consumed in making things worse.

The solution to this apparent humdinger is astoundingly simple.  It seems to me that –


You don’t have a membership yet, do you?

In order to read the rest of this post, you must become a full member.  Do you hear what I am telling you?

The benefits of membership are manifold.  Forming self-organizing communities based around mutual interests in the arts and sciences is one of the top three things human beings are capable of (which).  Membership includes all the rights and responsibilities of belonging to such a community, the full shebang. 

Join today.  Be a part of something bigger, decidedly less sensible, but way more fun at parties than yourself.

Click here to initiate the initiation procedure.  If at first nothing happens, hit the refresh button and keep clicking; if you are worthy the link will appear.

Frustrated?  Pissed off?  Start a protest movement.  Cry me a river.  Click on over to the next big thing, to bigglebanger dot com, or go twiggle your twongle if that’s your thing. 

Or you could just fork over the dough and get the rest of it ab-so-lute-ly-free [Sssswipe!] for five dollars.

Get off the fence, Charlie.  Only suckers sit on the sidelines.  Get in the game.

Conclusion of pledge drive. We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.  Click "One" to begin.

18 November 2013

Also Some Travel Tips from Ishmael Denholm a.k.a. The Travelin' Guy

Hi, I'm Dennis – hahaha gotcha, my real name is Ishmael!  Using a false name is one way you can shorten your travel time but it does put you at risk of arrest these days, and that's why it's only number fifteen on my list of Top Twenty-Seven Travel Time Saving Tip Busters.  So here come de tips, which you are welcome to read for free as long as you stick around afterwards and help clean up.

Don't underpack or overpack.  Pack exactly the things you will need, not one jot more nor tittle less.  Then pack one luxury item such as a favorite model train set or an anvil.

Get to the airport several hours early.  Most airports will let you sit on the furniture free during the in-termina(b)l(e) pre-departure wait.  Some of the chairs have armrests specifically designed for relaxing and reinvigorating human arms.  A variety of foods, beverages, and other useful items are generally on sale at all hours.  If you can find a seat in one of the bars, you can have a drink and/or a meatball sandwich while you watch the game.  The health benefits of sitting around for hours bored out of your skull before flying may include reduced jet lag, who knows – so far only seven scientific publications in refereed journals contradict this assertion, and we all know that these days science, like referees, can be bought.

Related tip: there’s a chick/dude in the VIP lounge at Stacey Augmon International Airfield who if you look at her/him with raised eyebrows and say 'something' will rub your feet up against twin cedar blocks wrapped in velvet sandpaper* for twenty minutes for 75 cents.  Tell them Dennis the Travelin' Denholm sent you.**

To avoid long security lines, sneak through in your own checked bag.  Be sure to request extra cracker packets before you seal yourself in.  Once you are in the luggage hold, it should be easy enough to climb out of the suitcase and into any available seats in first class.  Think I saw a guy do this in a movie once.

If you do elect to splurge on a seat in the passenger cabin, push your way on to the plane first regardless of where your seat is, as the first one on gets the prime storage space.  Bags with my new Inflate-A-Pouch ("The inflatable pouch") on the outside easily fit inside any overhead storage bin and can then be inflated to take up all of the remaining space so that no one else tries to stuff their bloated carry-on into your overhead storage bin.

Once seated, stare straight ahead and put yourself into a wonderful dreamlike trance, where you're on a magic bus heading for Shangri-La-La Land, with live entertainment and a relaxed vibe in the place, lots of happening people and great drink specials, you can stroll around the grotto for a while, take a relaxing dip under one of seven artificial waterfalls or perhaps enjoy a shiatsu massage from Burt Bacharach.

Most people use the drink tray only for drinks and drinking, plus eating or writing, but since it is the main piece of furniture in your seat area you must make better use of it than that.  Add some shelf units and a loft to the drink tray, maybe a deck off the back or a basement if you have access to a back hoe, to increase your available square footage.  Curl up on the tray and have a nice long nap.  Enjoy a picnic and fly a kite on the south lawn.  Step out onto its balcony for a breath of fresh air and fantastic view of the skyscape.

What's the best way to avoid neck pain (he asked rhetorically)?  Ha ha ha that's my little secret – for now.  Until next time, or, as the Italian-Americans say, arrivederci suckers.

Tune in "next time" for another enlightening installment from Ishmael Denholm the Travelin' Fella, coming this fall to an internet website near you.

09 November 2013

Where We Are, and Where We’re Going

(Wait Where Were We?) 

Okay, these are the facts, we seem to have established our position fairly well: we are on a large rotating orb, circling a giant spherical nuclear reactor which is one of many such 'stars' in one arm of a spiral galaxy whose dimensions are fairly well beyond our comprehension but which itself appears to be one of many billions of galaxies in 'the universe', which is what we call 'everything' even though we do not and in all likelihood can never know the full extent of the thing.  Does the universe go on forever?  Is 'it' (insofar as it is assumed to exist as such) itself one of many billions of such 'universes', a pawn in some larger game?  We can only speculate.

All right, just wanted to establish our present circumstances for a moment before I go off on another stupid spiel, this one is about cream soda.  Oh forget it, truth is I forgot what I was gonna say but now everyone's staring at me, class started ten minutes ago, I gotta say something.  OK OK, ladies and gentleman listen up, if I could just have your attention while I say this in such a tone that it sounds like I’m giving you the secret to life itself: 

The physical nature of reality is but an illusion we imprison ourselves within because we cannot bear to contemplate our own transcendence. 

Get that?  Go ahead and read it again, let your lips move in rhythm to its magic cadence. Now I don't have a very clear idea what it means (either), but I'd like to talk about it in a vague sorta way for twenty minutes or so as if it means something profound, ineffable if ultimately ungraspable.  A man's gotta make a living after all, and this is kinda my thing.

Let's start with the physical nature of reality.  Or maybe I should say the real nature of physicality, or natural physics of the real, any way you slice it it all points to the same thing, and that is that reality is by nature natural, that the nature of reality is physical and vice versa, that physical reality is natural and nature is physically real, as long as we are true to our own nature, true to our individual, natural, physicality.

A moment please, while I sip of my Fresca, which I am drinking directly from the can.  Okay, imprisoning our illusions.  We have to put our illusions in jail before we can free them, but paradoxically, the jail itself is an illusion we imprison ourselves within, so that the jail holds the key to escape from itself.  Our true natures are locked away in the prison of our own freedom.  Only thus can our illusions be set free and the veil of illusion – or the jail of illusion – be lifted.

Once you escape the prison of temporary transcendence, you discover a completely fresh perspective on physical reality and the nature of illusion.  You see that the reality was masking the illusion and at the same time the illusion was the mask, because hiding behind that mask was the illusion of the physical reality of nature, the natural illusion of transcendence inherent in our pure natures, in the nature of our reality, which stems from and ultimately answers only to itself, or possibly to the mask, I'm getting a little confused here myself.

Now when we are free to contemplate our own transcendence we will have broken free of the prison of physical reality by unraveling the illusory nature of all things physical, and then physically transcending it.  We will reach the promised land, we will find a nice place to stay and have a wonderful couple of weeks there but we cannot stay forever, it was never meant to provide more than a temporary respite from the prison of everyday reality and anyway it's way too expensive for us, they got a lot of good stuff in the promised land but ain't none of it free.

OK maybe that’s enough for now, we'll pick it up there next week.  Don't forget to read your Jurgensen and the two papers by Dirndle et al., go over the handout and be ready to intelligently discuss what it all means for the average Jo/e in the street.

25 October 2013

Some Number of Trends to Watch for During the Coming of the Future Times

Yay it's another listicle type thing, boy am I excited woo hoo, here come de fyoo-cha, etc. etc.

Driverless Cars.  Everyone’s a backseat driver now, the software had better account for this.  What if mom and dad are both yelling directions at the voice-controlled vehicle, how’s the computer gonna respond?  If you kids won’t stop fighting, the computer is going to turn this car around right now!  On the brighter side, automobile accidents will become not only safe but a positively enjoyable means of meeting new people.

On the Rise: Twin Demons of Fisticuffs and Rancor.  Way too many people, with expectations set far too high, fighting over a diminishing resource base.  That is simply a recipe for Rancor.  The forecast calls for Fisticuffs.  Fisticuffs and Rancor, coming this fall, to a vacant lot or internet website near you.

The Re-decentralization of Juggling.  Street entertainment still survives here and there but it has largely fallen prey to the economies of scale afforded by mass media.  As transportation and food costs continue to skyrocket look for more local jugglers and ukulelists standing on street corners singing for their suppers. 

Global Weirding. Things mo get funny strange before they get funny ha-ha.  Oppressive rule by an unelected junta of beauty pageant runner-ups, all motor vehicles illegal except go-karts, winner of world's strongest man tournament declared leader of the army, NBA games now make it take it, impossible to slither sidewise any more, public nudity an oxymoron, arrows through the head for reals, and so like and such forth.

Human Composting.  Not just for hobbyists any more.  No more of this flushing money down the toilet.  Solves the greatest of our sustainability dilemmas, yet so utterly unthinkable, scandalous.  But my, have you seen Mrs. Dalrymple's roses this year?

The End of Gravity.  Wild fluctuations in the earth's gravitational pull caused by amateur fracking gone wild won't be a total negative.  It'll make for more entertaining ballplay as professional athletes rewrite the proverbial record books for the post-gravity era.  Insurance rates and sales of knee pads will skyrocket, slingshots will be outlawed.  Airfares should moderate slightly.

Cheese Vapor.  Global warming will mean the end of cheese as we know it.  Hard cheddars will go all soft, spreadable cheeses enter the liquid and ultimately the gaseous state, and shredded or powdered cheeses such as the ubiquitous parmesan will be instantaneously vaporized.

Wuzza Hubbit Mcvalleywastrel Syllabus ('the inexorable rise of complete nonsense').  As churches and god continue their slow fade, and the masses face the fact that life ultimately means isthmus, as more and more sandbags are piled in vain against the leaky dikes of hope, the people will at some point just totally lose it and horse uncle fertilizer ramparts will fortuitously wallywhack the Maine streams.

Related posts:


19 October 2013

Our New Advertising Campaign

We wish to appeal to the sophisticated urban elites, make them understand viscerally that we represent all to which they aspire.

On the other hand we are at heart the blog of the common person, the off-road vehicle drivin', deep-fried roast pork eatin', freedom lovin' everyman of the untamed frontier.

Designing a single advertising campaign that simultaneously appeals to these two divergent demographics has proved, as one might imagine, a rather tough nut to crack.

But crack it we shall, and did.

Our new commercial is set in a bar or public house.  In a dim corner, a man in rimmed spectacles sits reading The Odyssey by the light of a glass of the establishment's proprietary winter harvest nuthatch ale.  Not far away, bearded brutes in flannel shirts throw darts at shuffleboarders and strike each other about the head and neck with bottles of Buschweiser Dry-Ice Lite.  Suddenly an unearthly shaking rocks everything, the power goes out and a stunned second later the walls are blown in – enemy missile attack!  Explosions splash debris everywhere.  A pinball machine is flying towards one of the big butch dudes; the poet spots it and, squinting through a shattered spectacle, launches himself through the air to knock the dude out of its path.  But when he hits brawny guy he's too puny to knock him over, he just kinda sticks to him.  Hulk looks down puzzled, poet meekly points up, dude looks up in time to catch the pinball machine and fling it through the air where it hits the alien spacecraft hovering just outside and blows it to (what else) smithereens.  Name on dude's breast patch: Ulysses.  As the bar bursts into relieved elation, the two fist bump and raise their glasses.

This simple engaging scenario has the advantage of looking like a beer commercial while dog-whistling some of the pillars of Western Culture (broadly understood), thus appealing to all sides and subtly reinforcing our brand marketing message.  So far in focus groups the response has been heavily positive, but the concept remains untested against the broader swath of public opinion as represented by discerning internet readers like yourself.

Your feedback is therefore requested.  Please send a double sawbuck along with some opal-scented silly string and a DNA sample to One Oliver Crossing Station, Pine Nuts Georgia, Alabama 13 Florida 7 (half), Pittsburgh, Appomattox, etc. etc.  In the subject line of your message, please specify whether you are a stuffed shirt or an apish hick.

09 October 2013

Social Trends Review: Society Moving Quickly in Every Direction

National Carbon Association Protests Discriminatory Carbon Tax

Vegetarianistas Want New MeatKill Law Extended to Plants

Seems like it's kinda mean to raise all those animals just to kill and eat 'em, but that's what people do and damned if they're gonna stop any time soon.  Arguably, it's natural.

However, one simple new law has changed everything: it is now illegal to kill any animal intentionally and sell it for profit, it is illegal to package the flesh of animals for sale, and illegal to transport more than 25 pounds of meatkill more than 250 meters without a permit (which will not be granted to any incorporated entity employing more than seven persons).  All of which means that now, if you want to eat meat, you have to kill it yourself, or at least have it done on site.  It is also illegal to use any machine to kill an animal, or to deny medical insurance to a caged lamb if you are conspiring in her premature death with plans to roast.  Also, all meat is hereafter to be referred to as meatkill, or beastflesh, and any euphemisms such as steak, filet, chops, and so on are strictly forbidden. 

All very well and good.  Sure to reduce mindless meat consumption, reduce our ecological footprints, make the world a better place and all that.  But some groups want to extend the protection to plants.  Vegetable Rights activists and so-called Vegetarianistas have been throwing themselves in front of threshing machines, raising money to buy off entire harvests and let the crops live to their ripe old age.

It is (they argue) indisputable that plants want to live; they spend 100% of their time and effort doing nothing (as far as we can tell) except endeavoring to survive, grow and reproduce.  Harvesting them clearly prevents them from so doing, and therefore causes damage in the legal as well as the moral sense. 

You think corn doesn’t suffer?  You think apple trees don’t understand how they’re being used, manipulated?  To be planted in rows like that, can you imagine how that must feel?  How is a ripe plum not aching for your touch?  And what about all the baby carrots: Do their mothers not grieve as ours would?

Still others suggest we should stop consuming oxygen, if we really had any reverence for matter.  Who are we to say that oxygen can’t feel pain, that it doesn’t have thoughts and aspirations?  You think it wants to be bound to carbon molecules to make CO2 like that, and with no compensation?  Two oxygens for every one carbon, what a sick joke!  And now a carbon tax focused specifically on this one element, it’s discriminatory in the extreme.  Is it enough for oxygen just to be oxygen, or does there have to be something more to it than that?  Will a lawsuit be filed, accusing the biosphere, on behalf of oxygen?  And let’s not forget the other elements, and vast number of biochemical interactions taking place every second.  The individual atoms within each oxygen molecule have not been consulted, attempts to contact them have so far gone unanswered, but we’re working on it and don’t worry, we’ll get there.  In Time.

We have not even come to the subject of the Entropists.  They take it further than the anarchists.  Entropists advocate the complete disintegration of all matter into its lowest state of order.  Total disorder in the universe and all the ramifications, the whole shebang.  In order to achieve this, they ceaselessly challenge all notions of objective historical truth while pushing relentlessly for lower taxes, a less helpful but more powerful government and increased corporate warfare.

Related posts:  Let Live Live FAQ

27 September 2013

Several (More) Surprisingly Effective Things You Can Say

This post is "inspired" by this post of (almost) the same title, in which the four surprisingly effective things to say were as I recall: I'm sorry, I was wrong, I need help, and Faster, twerp.  Yeah right I know, that's what I thought.  Here then are some other simple statements that are surprisingly – nay stunningly, almost inexplicably – effective, depending of course on your purpose, on who you're talking to and on the way you say it.

"Get off!"  Say this when something is on you or someone or something else you want them to get off of.  Makes people get off almost anything.  Telling someone to get off something is empowering and restructures the relationship.

"To go."  This is surprisingly effective at encouraging takeout joints to box and bag your meal for easy portability.  The key is open and honest communication of your needs to a sympathetic co-listener.  Ask for what you want. Don't be bullied or emotionally manipulated into 'For here' any longer.

"That's it mother&!$(@#, it's on like Donkey Kong."  Use when someone cuts on you in line or steals a table you had eyes on at an open-air cafetorium, takes the last waffle or starts getting it on with your significant other like you're not even sitting there.

"Noooooooo!" Actually this one is surprisingly effective only due to the double negative effect, i.e. it is unsurprisingly ineffective, as it is generally used when there is no hope of the thing stopping, e.g. under torture, during plummeting or tiger attack, etc.

"If it ain't the carnival, it's the sarcophagus."  Use anytime.  Stops conversations in seconds.  Kills small talk dead.  Amazingly effective, results guaranteed or your money back.  Order now and receive at no additional cost the phrase 'cheese prize massacre award anniversary giveaway tragedy', which starts conversations but only with the interesting, while effectively driving away the boring and the insufferable.

"It’s all your fault." This one effectively rankles just about anybody, especially if it really was all their fault.  They may try to deflect some of the blame onto others but don't you let them, make it clear that it was totally their fault, that you are rubber and they are glue (another relatively effective utterance btw), &c.

Enough joke-like things on this subject, gotta get dinner on before the kids get home.  Please use our proprietary "Comment Box" technology to share, from your personal experience or imagination, more surprisingly effective things to say.  Let's all chip in our two cents to help make each other more effective communicators, for the good of each and every one of all of us. Amen.

20 September 2013

Pants: A Primer

On the Nature and Function of Pants

[The following is an excerpt from the best-selling top-of the-charts bestseller What Do Clothes Do? by Ruthie Bilderberger, reprinted here without compensation or apology, no link to her Amazon page, not so much as a by-your-leave.]

Pants are worn on the body.  Specifically, on the legs. 

Pants generally include two tubes, one for enclosing each of the legs.  Garments lacking two tubes long enough to reach from the human waist to closer-to-the-ankle-than-the-knee are not properly referred to as 'pants'.

In addition to the leg-tubes, pants also contain an upper portion that spans the waist and covers – while at the same time allowing convenient access to – the crotch area.  "Pockets" in which items of a personal or utilitarian nature may be stored are usually included into the bargain.  Oddly, this upper portion of the pants has not been formally named, but if the leg tubes are jettisoned what remains is a pair of 'cutoffs', which if made of denim are 'jean shorts'.

Panties, or 'little pants', are generally intended to be worn inside the actual pants, to provide an extra layer of pant between the skin and the 'outerpants', or 'pants'.

Pantaloons belong to a sub-class of the pant family known as 'trousers' which bear a striking resemblance to pants in many cases but are generally worn more for purposes of ornament than insulation.

'Tight leggings' (not to be confused with modern 'tights' or 'tats') are generally not worn as pants because they fail to adequately obscure the crotch; effectively underpants, they are most effective under overpants or secondary outershorts.

Crotchless pants?  Say what?  Ain’t no such thing as crotchless pants.  At least, not until right this second.  Ladies and gentleman, may I present, for your viewing pleasure, crotchless pants.

Now that we have outlined the basic nature of pants, let's talk about the many roles they quietly, nobly play in our everyday lives.  The functions of pants include: covering the legs to keep them warm and shield them from prying eyes, thorns or burning oil, providing pockets in which to temporarily store personal articles, preventing the rear end from directly contacting the guest furniture, ornamentation, insulation, place to wipe hands, etc.  In addition to these utilitarian aspects, pants may simultaneously serve as a personal statement, by for example matching the shirt or blouse and/or contrasting with the shoes, concealing horrifying scars or accentuating the buttocks or perhaps both at the same time.

Much more could be said about pants: their history, origins and evolution, where they came from and who invented them, who were some of the early pants pioneers and what did their pioneering pants look like; the future of pants (and of legs in general) … pants for different species, up to and including alien pants or the possibility of pants existing in an infinite number of dimensions, wow, can you imagine infinite pants?

But I only had to get to 520 words with this and we passed that a few minutes ago.  So hang on again and continue clicking around the vast expanse of the world wide web for further amusement, after these brief messages.


11 September 2013

Plant Gift Ideas

Oh dear, every year it’s the same dilemma: What to get your plants for the upcoming shopping/gift-giving jamboree?  Since most plants don’t appreciate clothing or perfume, this simple practical guide is chock full of tips for other stuff you can buy for your "li'l greenies" to cheer them up during the dismal holiday season otherwise known as life on earth.

Plant Toys.  Raise happy, engaged plants, not sullen, distracted types.  Climbing structures are appropriate.  Educational toys should be purchased with discretion: make sure to submit your plants to standardized testing to properly assess their developmental level before you waste your money on something embarrassingly off the mark.  Cars, bicycles and other forms of transportation are generally inappropriate, although some potted ferns are known to enjoy snowmobiling, they say they never had anything like that growing up.

Most plant foods are boring, reduced to their basic chemical constituents with little regard for flavor or texture.  This year give Wolfbane Pup's new line of fresh-frozen microwave-defrostable sweet-to-eat Gourmet Plant Snack'Ums.  What better way to reward your young plants after a particularly strong flowering or crop.  Plants love 'em and so will your kids, so definitely keep these puppies locked away on a high shelf.

Grow lights are considered slightly offensive as they carry an element of criticism: Are you suggesting my stalks aren't thick enough, my fruits insufficiently succulent?  However, colored bulbs or track lighting may appeal to certain of the more flamboyant subshrubs such as the Dwarf Hairy Penstemon.

Many plants do like to read but most prefer to read books written by other plants, which are unfortunately not sold in most human book stores and notoriously difficult to recognize even when you're staring one right in the face.  Fortunately this problem is easily sidestepped through the use of gift certificates.

The best present you can give your plants is a nice sunny spot in some good nutrient-rich soil with plenty of water and a healthy ecosystem of (micro)flora/fauna plus a decent selection of music and for god’s sake clean the bathroom once in a while.

Got any great plant gift ideas?  Sure you do.  Share.

30 August 2013

Attention: The Monetization Thereof

Potential Ad Revenue Lost in Space

Speaking of the moon, consider the following:

One of the great trends of our age is the monetization of human attention.
Every evening, around the world, weather permitting, billions of people are gazing transfixed at the moon.
So why is there no advertising on the moon?

What would Nike pay to project a giant swoosh right across there.  (Moon: The giant orb in the sky brought to you by Nike, proud makers of footwear for the citizens of planet Earth.)

But what is proposed here is even better, not just giant ads taking over the whole moon, but specifically targeted ads precisely placed.  Your cellphone knows your GPS coordinates, with basic weather charts it can figure out when you are outside and likely to be moongazing, and can therefore calculate where to put the ad so it will catch the attention of humans standing at your exact position on Earth.

Of course, since many nights are moonless and the stars are also a subject of considerable fascination, there is no reason that ads could not easily fill the entire sky.  Imagine the big dipper as a giant ad for Campbell’s soup.  Orion the Hunter flogging sportsgear if not shields, his faithful sidekick wolfin' down a bowl of Sirius brand hound chow.

Much the same applies to our many geographical landmarks.  Residents of the areas surrounding Tokyo and Seattle spend many the hour in contemplation of Mounts (respectively) Fuji and Rainier.  Ads projected onto these majestic peaks would be worth billions (I see insurance companies, perhaps automobiles).  Some may complain how crass but if we don't do it, we are simply flushing this money down the proverbial toilet. 

Hm, what else do people stare at?  Each other.  T-shirts of course already carry advertising but let's imagine clothing with a built-in flexible display front and back and sensor technology so that it could detect when someone was looking at it, use facial recognition and/or contact the looker's device to discover their identity and web browsing history, and then project an ad tailored to that person and calculated to last as long as their relative velocities (embedded accelerometers, etc.) indicate the interaction may last.  If the wearer turns toward the target customer and gets them to view the ad longer, or better yet manages to strike up a conversation in which they casually endorse the product, they could earn a bonus or even make a small commission on all sales of that product to the gawker for the next, say, three years.  The possibilities are endless; my appetite to describe them is not.

The ad-space on every ass would not be of equal value, needless to say.  This would give people an incentive to get (their ass) in shape, since an attractive physique would now mean not only more and better mating opportunities but also increased advertising revenue. 

It wouldn't have to be all about skin and debauchery, it could even go in the opposite direction, I mean you could put a lot more ads on those full-body burkas than on a tiny pair of short shorts.  As in most things, perhaps moderation would be the best strategy, with outfits designed to reveal enough of the body's form to attract sustained attention while still offering abundant surface area to accommodate traditional modesty as well as product placements.

Of course, those who can afford to pay for a Premium Option would be spared most of these ads, so they could gaze longingly at the moon or a sexy set of buttocks for as long as they want without being interrupted by the latest sales campaign from Madison Avenue.

19 August 2013

Special for Employers: How to Write a Proper Job Posting, or Several Common HR Mistakes

Used to work in Human Resources long ago, before I caught my big break in silly blogging.  I learned a lot of lessons, some the hard way (through internet surfing) and some the easy (guesswork).  To help you avoid making the same mistakes I made (and then blogging about them before I do), here are some of my top several HR mistakes and the horses they rode in on.

Failing in your job post to clearly advertise the soul-crushing monotony of the 'opportunity'.  There is nothing more disappointing to the prospective employee than to undergo the rigorous application, screening, and interviewing process, negotiate an acceptable salary and arrange for the termination of previous commitments, and so forth, get all the ducks lined up in order to take the exciting new position, only to quickly discover that the job is a death sentence, the manager and colleagues insufferable morons and the whole operation tottering on the brink of insolvency / insanity.

Passive candidates are all the rage, but be careful they are not too passive.  You should punch each candidate hard in the shoulder (or whack them in the back of the knee with your sourcing pipeline) and if their response is somewhat or entirely passive, politely end the interview, call for a stretcher and move on.

Hiring a person named Betty for a job requiring someone named Margaret.  While not as bad as hiring someone named Archibald, hiring Betty to do Margaret's job is bound to lead to trouble sooner or later, especially if discovered by Mr. Bilderberger.

Career Fair tips.  Bring little gifts such as rabbit's feet or clam spurts (freeze-dried), with of course your company logo and contact information emblazoned thereupon.  Your promotional materials should be at least twelve feet tall and not overemphasize your Tarantino fixation.  Fine tune your marketing message for your local audience (no tamales in Syracuse, for example).

Applicant Screening.  Perhaps the holes in your applicant screen are not properly sized, allowing potential top performers to slip through while you repeatedly interview the pettifoggers and troglodytes caught in the wire mesh.  Conduct a thorough quantitative and qualitative assessment of your six sigma process, liberally applying unguent to all afflicted areas.

Don't Fall in Love with the Candidate too Early in the Hiring Process.  I made this mistake more than once.  A certain candidate catches your eye, the interview is a joy and it seems like fate.  I just wanna spend the rest of my life supervising this guy, grow old and retire together…  But don't let your love for the candidate blossom, at least not until you have interviewed all the other candidates with an open mind, had their parents meet your parents, re-thunk the job description, consulted your life coach and spent at least one long weekend together under adverse conditions.

After the interview, do not neglect to attach a tracking device to the candidate so that he/she can be continuously tracked by your applicant tracking system.  Best if applied under the skin or through a bone, as many candidates will attempt to get rid of the device by rubbing against a cubicle wall or thicket.

Networking.  Networking is not only done on the subway these days.  Just networking with other funeral directors or cartographers or whatever is not enough.  Look outside your little black box, network with people you hate, get back at them by joining their network and then networking with their best friends and former lovers; network with people you meet on trams, with the guy who played Al in Happy Days; in a small town, know the dog catcher and you have access to his or her entire network right there.  So many people focus on building the network, which is the easy part, and neglect to maintain their network, which is damn near impossible, I mean how are you supposed to make small talk and pretend to care about the family life of someone you chatted with for 10 minutes during a long-ago conference coffee break?  So you have to make time for your contacts, find common interests, for example make play-dates to build model train sets together, or see how many members of your network can squeeze into a phone booth or a Ford Focus. If you make time for the people in your network, they will make time for you, just remember that time is money and just as it takes money to make money, it takes time to make time.  Do what I do: block out an hour on Wednesday afternoons for nothing but taking time to make time, then use the time you have made to make more time to network, plus record your results and review them regularly, a critical oft-overlooked step to really building the living heck out of your network.

09 August 2013

The Sun is Not Our Friend

"Ooh look at the nice bright sun up there in the sky, it makes all the flowers grow and warms my lover's butt cheeks, the sun is our bestest buddy and pal forever," and so on and so forth. Such naivete is no longer tolerable when our very survival is at stake.

In an earlier dispatch, I noted how humanity can never achieve energy independence as long as we are dependent for 100% of our energy on the sun, which is not even a democracy and freely provides its energy to our sworn enemies the terrorists.

On further reflection, it occurs that I have not taken this thing nearly far enough.

The sun is the primary driver of global warming, a far bigger factor than carbon dioxide or methane levels in the atmosphere.  The simplest solution to global warming is for the sun to exercise some restraint and gradually turn down the heat a tad.  But so far it has been stubborn (downright recalcitrant) in refusing to adjust its output.  Worse, the sun does not even acknowledge our existence.  When we offer conciliatory gestures it responds with dead silence, while continuing to furiously hurl solar flares and dangerous beta particles in every direction.

Even if we could somehow supply all of our energy needs from solar and wind power, the solution is still not sustainable because the sun itself lacks a long-term sustainable energy strategy: the sun relies completely on nuclear.  We all know how heavily subsidized the nuclear energy sector is here on earth, there's no telling what level of subsidies the sun provides its own nuclear energy industry, since this is just one of many core issues on which it fails to maintain transparency.

Apart from these subsidies, the main argument against nuclear power on earth is the hazardous waste disposal problem, poisoning the world for future generations and all that.  The sun's nuclear energy sector dwarves ours.  So how does it deal with the nuclear waste disposal issue?  The answer is that as far as we can tell from years of detailed observations, the problem is simply being ignored.  The sun is continuously creating unfathomable amounts of highly radioactive nuclear waste, and the whole mess is being dumped directly into our solar system, our living room, without even the smallest effort devoted to treatment or the creation of long-term storage facilities.  The sun is by far the solar system's largest polluter, it's not even close.

Consider also the sun's well-known long-term expansionist policy.  If we know that its continued (inexorable) growth will swallow the earth in a few to several billion years, and if it continues to show no interest in negotiation or conciliation, what choice does that leave us?  Several billion years may seem like a long time, and it is.  We've got time for proper planning to do this thing right.  Still, if someone or something is bent on your distraction – sorry, destruction – it is generally advantageous to strike first.

Therefore, if we cannot come to terms with the sun, we have but one option: attack.  In an upcoming series of posts I’ll talk more about why a war with the sun is not only inevitable but highly desirable, and why it's gonna be a lot more fun if we just go ahead and attack now rather than sit back and rely on some hopeless combination of negotiation and accommodation (dare I use the word appeasement), as well as some basic strategies for how we can win the damn thing in a rout (by turning the sun's own strength against it) and extract major concessions from our gigantic neighbor that will ensure the survival and prosperity of our descendants and our way of life into perpetuity, or at least until the proverbial cows come home to roost.

31 July 2013

Classy Boarding Call

Ladies and gentlemen thank you very much for your feigned patience, we're ready to begin our preliminary secret pre-boarding of RedactedTM Airlines flight four five seven five two with service to Saint Brisbane and parts beyond.  

At this time all Upper Class passengers, that includes passengers with net worth over say fifteen or twenty mill, anyone who employs a butler or a livery boy, or it's too far to walk from your house to the entrance to your estate, those with subsidiary companies or substantial overseas holdings – basically if you have to ask, you don't belong – upper crust passengers please come forward for boarding in lane 1, that's the lane strewn with rose petals, and don't forget to pick up your dividend checks for earnings on your portfolio during this gruelling four-minute wait, for which we do apologize again but we had to scrub the stench of riff-raff off the plane first, you understand.  While we're boarding our upper class passengers we'd like to remind the rest of you no jeering or catcalling, these people have earned everything they own and deserve to be worshipped, not pelted with wet stinkies. 

Okay at this time we'll begin boarding all of our Upper Middle Class passengers, that includes people with net worth between several hundred thousand and several million dollars or so, those with BMWs or Lexuseses, or with professional degrees who really don't work very hard yet bring home way more than they can reasonably spend, passengers who repeatedly take vacations on other continents, or own an extra house or three, if your kids are at an exclusive private school, you have a golf club membership, a nice inground pool or a cellar full of expensive wines, we'll go ahead and board you now in lane 2, you'll notice the carpet is a wee bit softer and we do wish you a nice flight.  

For passengers traveling with small children, please strap your child snugly into one of the carrying cases provided, one child per case, please don't give them any stuffed animals as they could easily suffocate, kiss them softly on the forehead before stuffing in the gag and tossing them on the pile over here to my right, they'll be loaded on by forklift just before takeoff.

Now let's board our Middle Class and Working Class passengers, that'll be people with decent jobs, anyone living comfortably but not saving much if anything, who could be destitute within a year by a downsizing or a medical crisis, teachers, construction workers and retail managers, people who own one car they bought new and if they have a second car they got it used or it's old, anyone whose ATV or snowmobile is beat up because you actually use it, or who owns a boat less than 18 feet in length, or an aboveground pool, if you used to have season tickets but can’t afford it any more … middle and working class passengers please come forward for boarding in lane 3.

Okay at this time all Lower Class passengers are free to board, that means all the rest of you, poor huddled slackjawed masses yearning to breathe freely through your noses, those of you without steady income or who work at iHop but you’re thinking of quitting because it sucks, if you have less than $75 to your name but you have a check coming next week … well this is getting sad and I'd rather not continue, you know who you are, lower class masses just shove yourselves up to the front here and try not to drool all over each other please, you'll each get your small bag of crackers without clawing anybody's eyes out.

And finally before we push away from the gate here we'd like to board all liars, mountebanks and architects, sniveling ingrates, any kleptomaniacs traveling with small children, ventriloquists or their acolytes, anybody with a cousin in Cincinnati, invertebrates, sesquipedalians, bilingual drag queens, and inter-dimensional beings … please propel yourselves forward and we'll get you strapped to the side of the plane and ready for take-off just as quickly as possible here now, thanks so much.

19 July 2013

What I Learned Climbing Everest by Ronald the Chimpanzee

There are certain peaks that every chimpanzee dreams of climbing, and once you've done Kilimanjaro it's pretty much Everest or bust.  But lo was I unprepared for the adventure that lay in store for myself and our group of seven mandrills, three lemurs and a pasty-faced tree vole we let tag along for entertainment value.

On our first day at base camp it was mighty cold.  We crouched in our tents to avoid the wind, and drank from water bladders to ameliorate dehydration.  I read some tea leaves to forestall boredom and then brewed them to fight off the chill.  Protective lip balms were applied to ward off the ugly fingers of chapping.  We camped there for what seemed like 2 days and 4 nights, but later when I checked the itemized bill I found we had only been there for less than eighteen hours, and that someone had watched a dirty movie and charged it to my tent.  It was frickin cold at base camp but we suffered it bravely, after all we had brought it on ourselves and there is no sense complaining about the cold when you are trying to scale an icy mountain summit.  It is simply the nature of the beast.

Once we began our ascent, one thing went wrong after another.  We inhaled all the Cheetos in the first few hours and the rest of the climb were running on empty quality-snackage-wise.  We ran out of extension cords and had to cut loose the space heaters we were using to warm the inner linings of our thermal undergarments.  After lunch we lost two lemurs who tried to set up the dart board on the edge of a precipice and found out the hard way that plummeting to your death is a one-way ride.

Nonetheless we kept our chins up and our bellies to the rock face as we inched our way closer and closer to our ultimate goal.

Around two o'clock it became apparent that we might not be able to make the summit that day without risking getting stuck at the top with no way down, and that we'd best look for a place to bivouac.  We wasted an hour and a half arguing about how to spell bivouac because a white panther wanted to text his galpal to tell her he wouldn't be home for dinner and he was afraid a misspelling could spell the end of his fragile relationship.

And there we were, facing perhaps the greatest decision any of us will ever make.  Having come so far and endured so much, would we have the courage to turn back now? You think about how many chimpanzees have attempted this summit, how many of your fellow great apes have faced that agonizing decision whether to push ahead or to turn back, just hundreds of meters from a lifelong obsession, knowing you may never get another chance to get this close, but at the same time aware of the nearness of death, the number of strong and brave mandrills who have perished on the craggy abutments of this cold, heartless rock.

Most of the group turned back, and I can't say as I blame them.  Me and Robbie the Aardvark decided to go for it.  But we hadn't climbed another seventy-five meters before Robbie starts weighing me down with major negativity, going on about nothing to go back to, no hope for the aardvark race in the grand scheme of things, how he's not some [deleted] armadillo who can barely afford his Mavs tickets any more and why hadn't Cuban simply re-signed Tyson Chandler, they'd still be right there with the big boys.

When you're hanging off the side of a jagged cliff with no way up or down, five hundred feet above a horrible death, you have a lotta time to think about your life, why you had kids, or didn't, all those celebrity recipes you never got to try and who you should have taken fifth in your 2007 fantasy football draft.

Maybe the biggest lesson I learned is that no matter how stupid your goal, if anything gets in your way you have to just block it out and push it aside, maybe unhook one of its spikes so that it falls screaming into the abyss rather than weigh you down and stop you from achieving whatever stupid goal you have set for yourself.

The end.

Editor's Note: This is a true story in some sense; some names and species have been changed and all the exposed privates blurred in the interest of good old fashioned common decency.

09 July 2013

Smarty Plants

Modern plants can be smart and sexy – but how smart are they really?  Huh?

Humans are generally considered the smartest animals.  This claim is based on our high ratio of brain to body size, the invention of television and deep-frying, and of course our mastery of deficit financing.

But turning to the plant kingdom for a second, who are the leading intellectual lights over there?  Which plants are more intelligent than other plants?  Which plants are relative geniuses and which the purest simpletons?  If the plants all had a huge Jeopardy tournament, who would win?  What are the smartest plants, and which are by and large a bunch of assclowns?

What is needed is some kind of ranking system so that we can rank the top 100 smartest plants and figure out which one is smartest in absolute terms, and then bestow some kind of award on it and update its Wikipedia page. 

Many will argue that such a question is meaningless, as plants do not have brains and so far they have been unified in their refusal to submit to the SATs or indeed any form of standardized testing whatsoever.  But let us consider the question from another point of view.  Internal representations of the world: check.  Ability to formulate and execute complicated long-term plans: check.  Responds to changes in the environment in a way calculated to improve its lot: check.  Yep, plants are plenty smart enough to be ranked.  They may even be smart enough to rank themselves, so peer voting should be included in the evaluation process.  Or perhaps we'll need an open competition to decide the issue, like a spelling bee but tailored to assess plant intelligence, then we can decide the thing fairly, on a level field if you will (which wouldn't be fair to climbing plants or those that thrive on rocky outcroppings).  The revenue generated from the sales of rights to televise the tourney (including but not limited, of course, to the ancillary rights) could help cover the costs of the whole thing and possibly leave enough left over to provide a few college scholarships for the smartest plants or further pad the foreign bank accounts of well-heeled human investors.

Plants have been given the marshmallow test and some classes, in particular the succulents, have shown remarkable capacity for delaying gratification.  However, when exposed to chemical x, which promotes root tip growth and nutrient absorption, none were able to resist for more than a few microseconds.

What about the sexiest plants?  I nominate the vulva – wait no, the orchid is supposed to be sexier but they are sooo expensive, and paying a lot for stuff is not something I find particularly sexy, so I'm sticking with the vulva, at least until somebody can show me a hotter piece of plant ass.

And what about the highly offensive typecasting of plants in Hollywood movies of the 50s and 60s? 

I could say more on this subject but perhaps another time, my ride is here.