26 March 2014

Video Games Are Here to Stay

My fellow citizens. On venturing out into the real world (yes, the other day*) I observed first-hand a number of the king's subjects investing significant time and resources in, and reaping many hours of enjoyment from, video games.

For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a "video game" is a simulacrum of a scenario where you play a game inside your television. It is all done using sophisticated mini-supercomputers that get in there behind the screen and change the TV's function from broadcast to simulation. For example, you may act as a tank commander charged with rescuing a prince or princess from the jaws of an angry minotaur, or an athlete joining one of your favorite sport teams to engage in ball or puck play. Normally how it works is that you identify with and control the action of a particular character or colored shape; some games let you control up to several colored shapes at once or in a sort of series as one either completes its mission or is destroyed and is then succeeded by the next. Play continues until you have had too much fun and simply cannot stand to have any more.

The following two statements are undeniably true:

1) Video games are a pleasant and often wonderful diversion from everyday reality.
2) Video games are a complete waste of time and should be immediately outlawed.

So how does the wise man reconcile this apparent conflict?

At the last board meeting we agreed that video games cause no harm in and of themselves, but do result in what Wittgenstein called a 'lost opportunity' cost (citation needed). That is, they eat tremendous blocks of time but leave the participant no better off, unimproved along any dimension except the ability to play the game and often in a dazed, exhausted yet vaguely agitated state.

Nonetheless, video games shall not be banned in the realm for the time being, and the previous edict to the effect that any time a video game console is seen it shall be struck with a sledgehammer, and anyone caught playing the game sentenced to six months of hard labor, is hereby rescinded. Instead, new law: any time spent playing video games shall be offset by time spent reading, at a ratio of 1:4; that is, four hours shall be spent reading for every one hour of video game play. And we're talking books here, Facespace doesn't count, internet reading can count for up to 25%, we understand there are lots of good sources and blogs on here but part of the point is to get people unplugged; comics max 30%, as long as at least two distinct genres of comic book are consumed.

If this law is enacted and ruthlessly enforced, future generations will thank us. Let us put our heads, hands, and hearts together to prove that our kingdom can once again lead the world in both reading comprehension and Dungeon of Leprechauns IV.

Good night, god bless, and may god bless this great nation of ours, and video games.

*The reader is advised to note that this precise sequence of words was originally published on February 15, 2011, and that therefore the phrase 'the other day' should be construed to mean one of the several days preceding this date, more or less. According to software provided by the Google blogging service, this Op-Ed has only been viewed ten times in the history of humanity.  The message is deemed too important to go unheeded any longer.

14 March 2014

Money-Saving Tips for Saving Money, or How to Save Money, Part I: Saving Money

Tips on saving money are a popular topic for a blog post.  Of course, no one wants to give up anything they are accustomed to or rein in their reckless spending, so the tips have to be practical but not obvious, doable by the lazy yet extremely effective – well, they can be obvious and still get a lot of clicks, there are plenty of morons out there who will click on anything if they think it can help them save a buck and they’re stuck at work with time to kill.  But the tips should make sense for the average internet user, or lowest common denominator (this refers to the average reader, not to you of course).  Okay?  Here we go.

Let’s start with the mother of all money-saving tips, let’s call it Tip One, or The Big Tip.  If you remember just one thing said to you this entire year, make it this: 

Money-Saving Tip #1, aka The Big Tip:
Don’t spend a single [string of expletives deleted] penny of your own money, ever, unless you absolutely have to in order to survive the next 24-48 hours. 

All of the following sub-tips flow from The Big Tip.  They’re pretty obvious but for contractual reasons we are required to list them out, hope it doesn’t bother you too much, have some time to kill here before the zamboni arrives and don’t we all?

Prioritize.  Do you really need another private rollercoaster, or all those beverage warmers you keep ‘investing’ in?  They are not going to increase in value, no matter how many you buy.  Maybe you can wait another year to renew your steamboat pilot’s license.  You already own both the original and the Swedish remake of Apocalypse Now, Danny and the Dinosaur on DVD and you never watch it; do you really need it on Blu-Ray?

Borrow Don’t Buy. Think about what is the one thing you could buy that would make you happy.  Do any of your friends have one you can borrow and hang onto until you’re sick of it?  Could you persuade one of them to get one?  Become a kleptomaniac and there you are with a perfectly legitimate excuse for why you can’t keep your grubby paws off of other peoples’ stuff: it’s a sickness, you can’t stop, see?

Related tip:  The best repayment plan is none at all.  Avoid your creditors at all costs, give them any excuse you can think of with a straight face, never repay any debt unless under credible threat of imminent violence.  While only a short-term solution, this can work as a bridge to get you through a rough patch until you can scrape up enough scratch to purchase a new Gadgetbox High-Performance Entertainment Platform Thingy on your own.

Use my unique patented Envelope SystemTM. This is how it works: Set a monthly budget and put all of your money into different envelopes, one envelope for each dollar.  Label the envelopes and file them according to date and need.  Pay each expense on time using the correct envelope (or stack of them) and record the expenditure in your ledger, i.e., on a separate envelope.  At the end of each month, review your expenditures in detail to eliminate all waste.  Re-use the backs of the used envelopes to estimate next month’s budget.  Then order another case of envelopes. 

Of course, even rich folk wanna save a penny, so here are a few tips for you Richie Rich types.

Keep most of your extensive holdings in overseas tax shelters (actually all holdings should be stored in a proper vault rather than in something so flimsy as a shelter or an improvised lean-to). With the money you save on taxes, invest in buying the government so that your revenue streams rest on a solid legal if not moral foundation.  Form alliances with other filthy rich bastards.  Become golf buddies with the head of the gestapo.  Sponsor equestrian fairs to recruit up and coming talent to the organization.

Control the message.  Framing is everything.  Buy or create magazines that glamorize the lavish lifestyle and publish life-destroying revelations about anyone who dares speak up against.  Start a dangerous new blog that sweeps the nation.  Take over the internet with your hysterical Wallabies in Overalls Fixing Up Old Barns tumblr.  Gobble up old media titans for pennies on the dollar.  Hand out free brochures in supermarket parking lots.  Get on Twitter, buy some Followers and espouse, espouse, espouse.

11 March 2014

Day Savings Time

[The following was originally posted on 28 September 2010, earth time.  It remains just as timely today as on the day it was published.]

The idea of daylight savings time is not as outlandish as it may at first appear, and has considerable merit from more than one point of view, videlicet energy savings.

But why stop at one hour?

The Research Department is proud to announce the new Day Savings Program, which will take effect on the first Monday after final approval by the Board.

Day Savings is simple.

Every Monday, at 2:33 pm, all clocks will be turned forward to Tuesday at 2:33 pm.

Every Saturday, at 7:15 pm, all clocks will be turned back to Friday at 7:15 pm.

The merits of this proposal need no further elucidation, yet an extensive analysis is provided below, mainly to fill up some space and allow more room to sell advertising specifically targeted at you.

On Monday afternoon, at the precise moment it begins to appear that Monday is endless, and therefore the week is endless, and therefore that one's life is an endless struggle in a sea of boredom and mediocrity, meaningless and with little hope of advance or respite, or of any joy whatsoever save that provided by escapist fantasies and/or drug-induced euphoria – boom! It's Tuesday afternoon, practically Wednesday already, and it's all downhill from here to the good times baby.

Then, on Saturday after dinner, a quick flipperoo of the calendar and here we are back on Friday evening, you just got home from work and get ready for the weekend, Darryl's having a party at his place tonight but it's not starting until later, some of us were going to see the new Basilicus flick before we head over there, text me if u wanna come with.

Opposition from the overlords has been intense, you should hear them caterwauling about how losing a day of toil from the serfs every week could result in further layoffs and damage our long-term prospects for economic growth. Nonetheless, the people of this great nation seem to agree that there's no party like the present, and that we might as well borrow as much from the future as we can because soon, the way things are going, the future may not even be there for us to borrow from.