Thursday, November 17, 2011

Music

I’m not really that into music. Don’t get me wrong, I like music. I listen to it all day, I dance to it in clubs or in my living room, and I sing it with all my heart in the shower. I have at least 5 complete musicals memorized, ready to perform at a moment’s notice, and although I haven’t played the piano regularly in over ten years, my fingers can never unlearn “My Heart Will Go On.” Music is a constant presence in my life, and it contributes greatly to my happiness.

That said, I can count the number of concerts I’ve attended on one hand. My non-musical theatre repertoire consists of things I heard on the radio or stuff my friends sent me. Pre-Pandora I could name at most two bands that formed after 1990 and none that my parents couldn’t also name. Music and I like to keep things casual between us. We hang out, we have fun together, but we don’t let things get too serious.

I would never list music as one of my interests on some internet profile. I suppose I may have, in the past, before I met people with real dedication to music. People who, for instance, have tracked down the lead singers of obscure bands that disbanded ten years ago, resulting in said singer sending them a CD containing unpublished tracks this singer produced on their living room floor using nothing but an 8-track, a gramophone, and Scotch tape. People who have done all of this and yet still don’t consider themselves “that into music.”

I have no intention of ever putting as much effort into anything in my life as music subculturists put into their aggrotech-cybergrind electro-industrial fusion.

Pictured: too much effort.
  Therefore I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I have no idea what goes on in the world of music, whether in its creation or consumption. I do, however, know enough to know that this is a stupid, stupid song:


Now, will someone please explain to me why this song got a big cheer when it came on at this party I went to a few weeks ago? Keep in mind, this was a Halloween party, and yet somehow this song generated more excitement than “Thriller.” In fact the level of enthusiasm for this song was that usually reserved exclusively for “Don’t Stop Believing.”

I just don’t get it. The song is not brand new. It doesn’t have a particularly good beat. It’s not a good song at all by any measure. Worst of all, and I didn't even know this until I looked up that video, the goddamn title contains a typo*. Strangest of all, the crowd at the party was wealthy 30-somethings, effectively the “1%.” With all their resources, you’d think they could afford better taste.

The gap between rich and poor is supposedly growing, but culturally at least, I don’t see it. Rich people may spend more money on music and fashion and education, but they come out looking and sounding the same as poor people.

If you’re one of the two dozen young people who still believe that hard work and intelligence will allow you to rise to the top, I have a very important message for you. Although I can’t afford to discourage you given how bad things are, I really feel someone should let you know: the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the sun, it’s a dinky compact florescent bulb in a sad, musty basement. When you reach your goal, when you become the 1% or whatever it is you’re after, you won’t find yourself admitted to a stunning world of advanced culture. The Brandenburg concertos won’t be playing as you enter the gilt palaces of the rich and influential. You won’t be greeted by high-minded sophisticates in silks. You don’t get to join insightful conversations on engrossing subjects. No. Instead, you’ll find a stale room filled with Zach Galifianakis clones discussing the latest episode of The Real Housewives of Detroit while the fucking Black Eyed Peas play endlessly in the background.

But hey, at least there's a song (that's actually good) about this very thing:


Good luck,

S. Misanthrope

*"Gotta" means "got to" or "have to" as in "I gotta run to the store, because the milk went bad, and I need to feed my cat." It does not mean "got a" or "have a" as in "I got a fresh carton of milk from the store, but it was too late; Fluffy had died." That's nonsense. And before some asshole shows up lecturing on the evolution of slang terminology, FUCK OFF. The whole point of words like "gotta" is to shorten and simplify phrases, not add unnecessary letters.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Egg Salad Paradox

I run into the same problem every time I try to make egg salad. Let me first say that I love egg salad. I’ve never ordered an egg salad sandwich, egg salad wrap, or egg salad salad and regretted it. Eggs are tasty, versatile, and filling. The “salad” part makes it sound healthy while actually just adding mayonnaise. Other than the smell, there’s really no downside.

Except for one teeny, tiny, crippling neurosis.

Eggs are great in part because they go with so many things. Steak and eggs, bacon and eggs, ham and eggs, eggy-in-the-basket, eggs on toast, eggs benedict, eggs with cheese, eggs with veggies, five bagillion kinds of omlettes, eggs with hot sauce. They make cakes and cookies and custards. They even go in drinks like egg nog or Rocky’s power-protein shakes. Pretty much the only thing they don’t go with is chicken, which kind of makes sense since that would be like chicken-wrapped chicken. Even for a dedicated consumer of animal flesh, it seems a bit much to eat the baby and its mother at the same time, in the same dish.

Because of the versatility of eggs, every time I plan an egg salad feels like a wild adventure. Will I use red onion or green? Will there be garlic or pickle relish in the mix? Mayonnaise or salad dressing? Which of the dozen or so mustards in my fridge will make the cut? Will I top it off with some subtle spices or go crazy with the hot sauce? What wild card ingredient will get thrown in at the last second?

Every concoction is unique, enticing, and unerringly delicious, and yet, when the preparation is complete and the time for consumption at hand, something stops my fork and seals my lips tight. My entire body becomes physically incapable of ingesting eggs in any form whatsoever. It’s like some mental switch, moments ago set to “If you don’t give me egg salad right now, I will murder your family,” is now set to “If I so much as look at an egg, I will lie down on the floor and vomit until I die.”

For a long time, I assumed this was happening because my egg salads went horribly wrong at the last minute somehow. That isn’t the case, though, because if I wait a day or two before eating it, after my anti-egg psychosis has faded, I discover that what I made is in fact incredibly delicious. The problem, though, aside from having to find something else to eat after my brain decides eggs are unacceptable, is that egg salad keeps for about 3 days. If my egg madness sticks around for 3 or 4 days, I’m out 3 or so perfectly good meals.

I don’t really expect anyone to find this story interesting, but I haven’t written in a while so I can’t afford to be picky here. Also I figured there’s some chance that I’m suffering from some documented egg-phobia condition. Maybe someone else has had this problem and can point me to some support groups or “How to Eat Eggs” self-help books. Or maybe Plato was right: maybe you can only desire a thing when you haven’t attained it yet.

At least when that thing is egg salad.

Love and sulfur-scented kisses,

S. Misanthrope

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Business Idea: Zombie Steve Jobs Halloween Costume

Too soon?

Seriously though, it would be much too weird to own any sort of public forum, from a Twitter feed to a Facebook page to a pointless humor blog, and remain silent on what for me is the most significant death that has occurred during my lifetime. Before anyone starts grilling me on how the death of Steve Jobs could be the most significant, look: I'm young, no one personally close to me has died yet, and I don't give a shit about Michael Jackson. Then suddenly I hear that Jobs is dead via a product he developed. I look left and there's my iPhone. To the right, my iPod. I'm afraid to touch either, like they might disappear or something.

I've been out in the business world for over four years now. In that time, I've come to realize that the number of people who keep us from toppling back into the Dark Ages is impossibly small. I used to think there were hundreds, at least, but no. How many people running businesses really, completely, 100% know what they're doing? Like five, maybe? I'm pretty sure the answer is five.

Well, now we're down to four.

We will literally never know how much we lost when Jobs' incredibly productive career was cut short. A lot. It was definitely a lot. Anyone who isn't like a rapist or something dying at 56 in the United States is considered a tragedy these days, but this...I just don't have the words for it.

Part of me is overjoyed to see the outpouring of grief. A nation mourning the death of a businessman is not something I ever expected to see. But another part of me knows that we'll soon be back to business as usual, meaning hating and hampering business at every turn, criticizing businessmen for doing real stuff instead of attending lots of charity balls, and occupying this or that thing that the 99% could neither build nor comprehend.

I've lost so much. There's really nothing more to say.

Even if you're tired of the subject, make sure you catch these, which together summarize my feelings very well:
http://www.theonion.com/articles/last-american-who-knew-what-the-fuck-he-was-doing,26268/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/objectivist/2011/10/06/what-we-owe-steve-jobs/
http://xkcd.com/961/ (don't miss the scroll-over caption or you'll think I'm just being an asshole.)

Goodbye, Mr. Jobs,

S. Misanthrope

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Check It

Here's a Halloween-themed shout-out to my philosophical homies:


The best part is, this was near the top of the first page of hits of a Google Image search for "pumpkin." See? Our culture's not so bad. No need to be depressed...


Oh wait, never mind.

Happy October anyway, what?

S. Misanthrope

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some Minor Business

It has been brought to my attention that some of you crazy kids use this thing called "The Googles" which has a newfangled contraption known as "The Reader," which I assume does your reading for you because you've all forgotten how. Further, said contraption does not appreciate my copious use of yellow text. I'm guessing this is because this Reader thing doesn't actually show you the full glory that is StrategicMisanthropy.blogspot.com
with my carefully selected color scheme artfully designed by my own hands to maximize awesomeness, instead showing some bastardized form and sacrificing beauty on the alter of convenience. I have to guess at this because the damn Google Reader site WILL NOT LOAD, not EVER, and I'm starting to think it's not even a real thing and y'all are just messin' with me. Either way, it gave me an excuse to write this short post and technically meet my monthly posting quota once more.

Alas, when you only have 5, possibly 5-and-a-half, readers, you can't afford to alienate even one with inconveniently colored text, so I will be reconsidering my color scheme and overall design soon.* Because I respect and value the hive mind so much, now's your chance to give me your thoughts on what should change, what should stay the same, and what is your favo(u)rite colo(u)r. Just follow these simple instructions:

Haha, that's right, fuckers, I'm writing this in yellow. Good luck with that, Google Reader, you bitch. Ok, now I really just need to add some filler so it looks to the people on Google Reader that they are missing something really substantial and important. Really all you need to do is give me feedback in the comments below, so that's easy enough, but I still have to waste some time here, so....yeah. Hey, did you guys know that I at one point had memorized  not only all of the songs but also the choreography to the musical Cats? True story. Ok, well, I think that's enough now. Toodles!

 <3,

S. Misanthrope

*By "soon," I mean "whenever I have literally nothing better to do than make cosmetic changes to a stupid humor blog I don't get paid for."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Business Idea: The Passive-Aggressive Reader Library

Do you need to send a message without actually sending a message? Have a friend, coworker, or spouse who needs to be set straight through indirect means? Want to stick it to the Powers That Be without sticking your nose out? Then look no further than the Passive-Aggressive Reader Library.

The Passive-Aggressive Reader Library, or "PARL," is a revolutionary new way to get your point across without having to acknowledge that you're making a point. Say for instance you're facing a conflict at work wherein you believe your boss has acted unfairly. Before the PARL, your options would be limited to an uncomfortable and possibly career-damaging direct confrontation with your boss or some temporarily satisfying but ultimately nonconstructive water cooler griping.

Those days are history thanks to PARL! The innovative PARL system allows you to shirk the responsibility of communicating like an adult while still letting people know, or at least suspect, what you really think of them in three easy steps:

Step 1: Order your PARL through our easy-to-use website or via phone with one of our friendly customer service reps. We will help you determine exactly what product is appropriate for your unique circumstance, or you can purchase our Master's Library which contains an assortment of our most-loved products. Our most popular titles include:

Options to Consider before Divorce: Strategies for Lowering Your Standards and Learning to Be Happy with What You've Got  [Our #1 Bestseller!]

So Your Boss Is a Moron: How to Work for a Monkey that Can Talk [Featured on Dr. Phil!]

Adoption Is Still an Option: 10 (Mostly Legal) Ways to Cope with Unruly Offspring ["Don't have sex without it!" ~Dr. Laura]

Roommates: Sometimes They Just Die, Right? [The college essential!]

Step 2: Place the appropriate product in a place where the person you are attempting to communicate with will be certain to see it, for instance on your spouse's nightstand, in a shared bathroom, on your desk at work, etc.

Step 3: Deny. When the person asks you about the title, simply say "Oh, I bought that for a friend of mine," and leave it at that. A seed of doubt will begin to fester in their mind, the suspicion that you're lying and that it's really all about them. Soon their entire sense of self-worth will be in shambles, without you having said a word! To encourage faster growth, repeat the process with a product from our Follow-Up Collection, titles like:

Divorce: It's Easier than You Think [With an appendix of actual divorce attorney phone numbers!]

5 Easy Ways to Get Your Boss Fired If You Aren't Promoted Today! [Special Title IX update available for this classic!]

"Would Anyone Really Notice If They Were Gone?": True Stories of Parents Who Got Away with Murder [Guaranteed effective!]

How to Keep Your Roommate from Finding Out About... [2011 edition includes chapters titled: "Your Criminal Record," "Your Pet Black Mamba," and "The Stuff You Put in Their Coffee Every Morning"!]

Your first order with PARL even includes an instructional video designed to help you maximize your passive-aggressive potential. Don't waste any more time on proper, grown-up communication! Order your PARL today!

^_^

S. Misanthrope

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dear People Criticizing Netflix:

You’re all dead wrong.

The problem with the recent move at Netflix to undergo a sort of corporate mitosis isn’t that it will cause whole microseconds of delay for the 57 people who aren’t sure whether they want to watch a physical DVD three days from now or watch something on streaming right now before they open their browser. It’s not that “Quikster” sounds like some junior high sexual slang term that utterly fails to inspire confidence with or without nifty red packaging. It’s not that Reed Hastings goes on for eight fucking paragraphs before getting to the goddamn point in his recent, deeply personal email to each and every one of his valued customers.

The problem is that Reed Hastings gave a shit when people bitched about prices.

Allow me to attempt to communicate this concept to you in a way you might possibly understand: with stick figures.

A BRIEF LESSON IN VOLUNTARY TRADE
By S. Misanthrope


The end.

Multiply these cartoons by about a billion and you get a model for the interaction between Netflix and its customers. When Netflix asks you for more X for their thing, you give them X or you walk away. If you think X is unreasonable, you vote with your feet. You don’t write angry emails or bitch on forums. You don’t get to be offended and hurt as if some injustice has been done to you. All you get to do is stop buying the product. Capitalism, people: this is how it works.

Of course our culture of entitlement doesn’t get this. I don’t believe there’s ever been a time in American history when people didn’t somehow feel they had a right to keep paying the same rates into perpetuity, whether for tri-cornered hat repair or DVD rental services. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that every businessman in America take the following deeply, deeply to heart:

When a price increase results in public outrage, the correct response is: “Ok, you sell it for cheaper.”

In fact the correct response to 99% of what the public says about your business is a resounding “I don’t give a fuck.” Responding to what people say is pretty much the biggest waste of time possible for a person with a goddamn business to run. What matters is what people do. People *said* they didn’t want iPhones; they said they wouldn’t pay $4 for a cup of coffee; they probably said they wouldn’t use electricity, for fuck’s sake (not for three pennies a week, no siree! I could buy ten whores with that money!); but they did and they do and it's business that makes that possible.

A good businessman has a good product, knows what it’s worth, and knows the rabble will fall in line when the time comes. How does he know this? Well, if I knew the answer, I’d be a lot richer, that’s for sure. But in retrospect it’s never hard to see. Let me ask you, you people who feel so wronged by having to pay what something’s worth: can you take a minute or two to think about how much value Netflix has added to your life? Just your life, never mind the entire population of Netflix users. For me personally, I’ve seen about 10,000* more movies and television shows than I otherwise would have.

So many aspects of life are radically different thanks to Netflix. Before Netflix (or B.N.) you could 1. catch a flick in theatres ($24 for two), 2. buy it on DVD ($24), 3. rent it on DVD ($4-$6 + membership), or 4. try to catch it on T.V. ($100/month for cable). All of these options cost so much more than Netflix (yes, even Netflix post-horrific rate hike), it’s really hard to believe anyone ever saw *any* movies B.N. Aside from the raw cost, consider the incredible amount of time saved from having DVDs delivered in the U.S. mail. Then on top of that, Netflix added a radically new service that saved even more time: streaming. You no longer have to wait *at all* to watch (thousands? tens of thousands? BAGILLIONS?) of movies, shows, and strange foreign short films. For a time, they even gave us all that effectively *for free*.

So eventually it becomes clear that the streaming product is its own beast and needs its own pricing, so the service is divided and rates go up. All perfectly reasonable, which of course means the public will be against it. Hastings and the folks at Netflix should know this, yet the backlash catches them entirely by surprise. This is where I say he fucked up.

What exactly did he think was going to happen? When in the history of ever has the public response to a price increase been “Oh yeah, that’s totally reasonable.” It’s literally the public’s job to oppose price increases. Again: capitalism. Producers try to get us to pay as much as they can and consumers whine and drag their feet.

So bad on you, Hastings, for giving a fuck what we think. Bad on you for sending an apology letter to your users for charging still much less than what your product is truly worth. Bad on you for trying to trick us into feeling like prices weren’t raised by creating a new company, and bad on you for being stupid, ineffective, and, most significantly, weak.

I realize it’s hard to feel like every random person on the street hates you. I know it’s so much worse for a web-based company since every asshole on the planet has a direct line to your inbox and absolutely nothing better to do with their time than troll you to death. But that’s all the more reason to grow a pair. That’s why you need the courage to say “Fuck you, Customer. Fuck you in the face.”

Adjusting playback,

S. Misanthrope

*I first came up with 10,000 as hyperbole, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s a completely reasonable lifetime figure.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sick


I’m not normally one to idealize childhood. From what I can remember, most things about childhood sucked. You have very little choice about what you do, where you are, who you see, what you wear, what you eat, when you eat it, how you eat it, etc. as a child. From as far back as I can remember to age 18, I felt like I was stuck on the waiting deck of life, twiddling my thumbs and mostly just feeling really, really bored while checking off the boxes of things the adults around wanted me to do.

Then legal independence finally came and WHAM! Life was exciting. Well, in most ways, life was exactly the same, but now my plans were my own, as were all of my choices. While some of those choices weren’t the best (such as eating jumbo-sized bags of potato chips all by myself while playing Guitar Hero at 4am in lieu of sleep/problem sets), they were my own, and that made all the difference. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Adulthood is so many billions of times better than childhood that I’ve been known to throw a screaming fit whenever someone laments having passed out of childhood. I decide somehow that I am the self-appointed representative of all unusually capable children who grew up under overly-protective/asshole-ish/neglectful/otherwise negligent parents, and I go off. Not that it’s entirely undeserved (what kind of person would seriously prefer not to be in charge of his own destiny?), but my response may be somewhat disproportionate.

Because of my past railings against childhood, I feel obligated to publicly state that I now believe there is one circumstance when being a child is far superior to being an adult: when you’re sick.

As a kid, being sick is awesome. You wake up feeling sick, and you don’t have to do a damn thing about it. If it’s morning, your mom will be in shortly to wake you up, and you can then inform her of the situation by spraying her in the face with mucus. If it’s the middle of the night, you can just cry and scream until someone comes to take care of you. If you’re at school, raise your hand, go to the nurse, and your parents will have to leave work to come tend to you. The situation really couldn’t be better for you.

Once your illness has become public knowledge, your work is done. Your parents have stocked up on every type of medicine you could possibly need and will literally spoon feed it to you. Mom will get you set up in bed or on the couch, wrapped in blankets with your favorite toys and lots of Kleenex. You get all your favorite foods, because all they want is for you to eat something.

And you get to watch TV. All. Day.

The TV-watching was hands-down the greatest part of being sick. Whenever I found myself drowning in my own fluids or bent over the toilet at night, a small spark of joy would flicker in the back of my mind. I knew that if I just survived the night, I would get to spend all day watching Star Wars. Between the nose blows and dry heaves, I would think about which one I would watch first. Should I start with my favorite (Return of the Jedi) and work backwards to A New Hope? Should I go in order and risk being too exhausted to enjoy Jedi fully? Should I just fast-forward (ah, VHS) to the parts with Yoda? For an over-achieving kid with grade-obsessed parents living in a “no TV until literally all your homework through the end of high school is done forever” household, it was a dream.

The food was of course the second greatest part. I particularly enjoyed stomach flu – that meant I got to eat all the popsicles I wanted (I could even skip the grape ones!) Another treat was getting to go to the doctor’s office, after which I would get to buy gummy Lifesavers from the pharmacy. Any and all illness was naturally treated with watered-down lemon-lime Gatorade, as well as ginger ale. Chicken soup and Saltines would be the staple of my diet, but once I had started to recover, my dad would make for me the crown jewel of sick food: cheese toast.

It’s hard to explain what made cheese toast so special, or why it’s completely impossible to imitate. I never saw exactly how my dad made it, but I know it absolutely had to be made with Cracker Barrel Vermont sharp cheddar and Oroweat multi-grain bread. It definitely can only be made in a toaster oven, possibly only in the particular toaster oven we had in our condo. Other than that, the process is a mystery to me. It’s also a mystery why this dish, far more than any other, always gives me that “everything is going to be okay” feeling that is the very definition of comfort food, but there it is.

I still automatically want these same foods when I’m sick as an adult, only now I have to get my aching self dressed, drive to the store without vomiting, buy whatever it is, drive back home, and prepare it myself. Oh, and I will also have to buy all the medicine I need because somehow, no matter how full my medicine cabinet, I never have the thing that treats the thing I have. Then I will have to read the instructions, measure the dosage, and take the medicine myself. Needless to say, I never do any of this. Best-case scenario, I’ve kept my cabinets well stocked with emergency Gatorade and canned soups and there are a couple of Advil within arm’s reach of my bed. Worst-case, well, one time my roommate came home and found me attempting to eat the orange powder from a box of Kraft Mac n’ Cheese directly out of the packet with a spoon. I’m really hoping that turns out to be the worst case.

Yours in sickness more than health,

S. Misanthrope

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nobody Cares about the Dimensions of Your Baby

Seriously, people: what is with birth announcements? Specifically what is with making little pink or blue cards with nothing on them but a date, a name, and some pounds and inches? What is with posting this same information on Facebook and updating it every week for months and months? Hm, let's see: the name hasn't changed, birth date hasn't changed, oh, I guess it's just gotten fatter and longer, hasn't it? The way that the offspring of all mammals do? Thank you for keeping us current. Thanks for giving the underemployed the opportunity to make comments like "Wow, that's big," or "Oh, that's tiny," or "Hm, I don't really know anything about the relative measurements of infants," in their spare time.

Come on, now, really: these measurements, nobody cares about them, not even you. I realize that there's not much to say about a newborn besides "Ooh, it's all sticky," but there must be at least a dozen more relevant pieces of information you could share. Or are height and weight really your child's defining characteristics in your eyes? If so, what the hell is wrong with you? If not, why the fuck are you boring everyone else with this pointless data?

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing at all about your child that is interesting to anyone but you. Not that thing she does when you tickle her ear, not the incredibly intelligent way he eats macaroni off the floor. But if you insist on boring everyone, why not at least bore us with some information that could conceivably have a little bit of meaning to someone, somewhere?

Imagine if we described all things in this way. "Yeah, I got a new car. It's 207 inches long and weighs 5500 lbs. Yeah, she's a big-un. Oh, and this book I just read, it was awesome. 10" x 7" x 3" and about .6 lbs. Really great, you should check it out. Also I'm dating this girl. You know I usually go for 65 inchers, but this one's 67" and still alright. I'm having trouble pinning down the weight though. She keeps bursting into tears every time I bring her near a scale. She says it's the result of a lifetime of being judged solely on height and weight measurements, but I mean, seriously, what else is there? I'm pretty sure it's not going to work out between us." Hopefully you're laughing right now, but remember: this is what my Facebook feed turns into every time someone has a baby, and it's not okay.

I've heard many people describe the intense psychological experience of becoming a parent. One minute you're a typical, self-centered asshole. Then your baby looks at you and something in your DNA wakes up and turns you into a typical, self-centered asshole ready to kill to defend its young. But I've never heard anyone say "Oh, and make sure you bring a measuring tape to the delivery room because you'll also experience a compulsive desire to measure stuff. That's really what being a parent is all about." I'm about 97% sure that doesn't happen, so tell me: why? Are you hoping someone will convert your baby to metric for you to make it sound smarter? Are you sending out coded messages to members of a secret society that non-parents don't know about? Or does having a baby really just make you that boring?

I'm sorry, did you say something? I must've fallen asleep for a second there, which I guess answers my question, doesn't it?

Snore,

S. Misanthrope

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Get Some

As we all know, thanks to the Department of Health, no shirt, no shoes = no service. Luckily you can still get served while maintaining your edge through the careful application of clever tees. To that end, I highly recommend Lonely Dinosaur. Just as your hipster cred hangs on whether your iPod is playing a suitably obscure artist right now, your nerd cred depends on your ability to stay ahead of the witty-tee-shirt curve as well as your ability to define and plot said curve on your TI-89. I mean seriously, if I see one more caffeine molecule on a tee shirt, I'm going to have to start confiscating geek cards. Save us all from overused references to the health status of Schrรถdinger's cat by slipping on some of these sweet threads:

The namesake design.
Some of you I know will go crazy for this one.
Yes, yes I did. Sorry about that.
This is one of those snorty laugh ones, you know? No? Ok.
In case any of you were wondering (or the FCC is listening), no, this is not some kind of paid product endorsement (although it would be totally cool if the folks at Lonely Dinosaur wanted to give me a free tee shirt, just sayin'.) Nor were these. I just think these things are cool and want more people to buy them so the supply will increase and there will be more cool things around for me to enjoy. Also I'm really, really sick of that goddamn caffeine shirt. Please buy this instead.

Cheerio,

S. Misanthrope

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

“What Do You Like to Do for Fun?”


This is the single most stressful question in the world for me. Everyone seems to have a perfectly good response to it but I. Whenever I’m asked it, I become paralyzed with fear. Like if I lived in the Harry Potter universe and I were cleaning out a spooky mansion and came across a boggart, it would repeatedly assume the shape of a person I'd want to impress asking me what I do for fun, and I would instantly collapse in a heap and the boggart would feed on my tears for eternity.

When someone I want to impress asks me what I do for fun in the actual world, I respond a bit differently. At first I just don’t say anything at all, as if by keeping perfectly still and quiet, the questioner might simply forget they asked the question and move on. I call this the “T-Rex strategy” of social interaction (they can only see you if you move.)

When that doesn’t work, I panic, because I am immediately convinced that nothing I do could possibly be considered fun by this person who is obviously hip beyond imagining, who probably spends his or her weekends eating fire while hanging from a trapeze suspended over a pit of lions and juggling hedgehogs. I start to imagine all the impossible fun this person has in their spare time, and I become more and more convinced that nothing I do could possibly interest them.

At this point, my addled brain begins to realize that I have to say something and tries to compile a list of stuff I spend my time on. That process usually goes like this:

Me: Brain! Tell me quickly: what do I like to do?

Brain: WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK.

Me: No, I mean for fun.

Brain: YOUR JOB YOUR JOB YOUR JOB.

Me: I know, I know, I really do enjoy my work more than anything else, but normal people don’t feel that way. What do I like to do that’s normal?

Brain: [Long pause.] TV TV TV.

Me: I can’t say that, that’s embarrassing! I know I’m an active and discerning consumer of television shows and that I approach them in an intellectual and stimulating manner, but if my answer to “what do you do for fun?” is “TV,” I’ll sound like a total bum!

Brain: [Pause.] MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES.

Me: Argh, same problem there. I guess I could talk about the films I’m making, but that just seems pretentious. Besides I haven’t actually completed a film yet, and it’s not the number one activity I spend my spare time on.

Brain: STUDYING STUDYING STUD-

Me: NO. Fun stuff, brain. Fun stuff like what cool people do.

Brain: ERROR, ERROR. CANNOT PERFORM FUNCTION REQUESTED.

Me: Why not?

Brain: YOU ARE NOT COOL.

Me: Well, fuck.

At this point it’s a tossup between the honest answer (reading fiction or writing stupid blog posts about how I can’t deal with simple social situations) and a generic one that is always the exact opposite of what I should have said. Like if I’m talking to a couple of bros, I’ll say I like shopping and then cry as I watch the possibility of ever appearing interesting or intelligent in their eyes fade like something that fades extremely quickly. But if I’m talking to some girlie girl, shopping and fashion won’t even occur to me. All I’ll be able to think about are cars and guns and Tom Clancy novels and how much I hate Twilight.

The worst part is: I don’t even like cars and guns and Tom Clancy novels that much (or shopping, for that matter.) But I do fucking love to hate Twilight. I guess that’s just my contrarian nature screwing me over once again.

Actually, that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is the reason why I don’t just tell the truth in these situations: the question itself is fucking retarded.

No, I’m not saying that what a person does with their time is irrelevant, although the question almost always implies that what you spend your non-working time on is more important/essential/interesting than what you spend most of your waking hours doing. You know, that little thing you’ve dedicated your life to. That couldn’t possibly be worth talking about. No, no, we have to talk about hobbies, about the little things you come home to that make your 9 to 5 bearable. Well fuck you, I don’t have a “9 to 5.” I have a goddamn all-consuming passion that takes up 80% of my time. The rest of the time is for sex and sleep and that’s how I bloody well like it.

Okay, that’s one problem with the question. The other is that with recreation, like so many things, it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. You could have the most impressive hobby in the world (“Me? Oh, I like to alligator-raft down Angel Falls with Stephen King on weekends. Yes, that’s when you stand on an alligator and use a pole to maneuver it like a gondola over the largest waterfall on Earth. It can get pretty intense. That’s why I bring Steve along, to keep it real.”), but if you’re a passive, intellectually-stunted bore about it, it becomes lame. Passivity is the main ingredient in lamesauce and baby, you are smothered.

If you’ve ever met a person who is training for a marathon, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That’s a packet of instant lamesauce, right there. Same thing if you know someone who has a dog, does crossfit, likes football, does volunteer work, is totally into this beardcore band, or has children. Yet all of these will get you free admittance to Cool People Land at the “What do you do for fun?” Q&A session. Meanwhile I struggle to explain how I like to read books alone in my spare time because frankly the people in books are much more interesting than the ones you meet at parties who ask you what you like to do for fun instead of more substantive questions and then expect some pre-packaged, easy-to-digest answer and why am I trying to impress you anyway, I’ve got 60 IQ points on you, motherfucker, piss off.

And this is why I am such a hit at parties.

Screw you guys,

S. Misanthrope

Friday, August 19, 2011

Regulation

Searching around for flights today, I discovered this:


Oh, what a wonderful world! It only costs $8 to fly from London to Paris! Why, I could go to Paris every day, just for breakfast even and - wait, what's that? $161 of taxes and fees? Nice one, Europe. Nice.

I'm a math person, so let's crunch some numbers here. That's more than a two-thousand percent markup for taxes and fees. The actual cost of flying is 4.73% of the total cost of the ticket. For every dollar you spend on actual travel, you spend over $21 on bureaucracy. What. The fuck.

I'm too lazy to research exactly what's going on here, so I don't want to go all foamy at the mouth about goddamn fascist governments ruining everything ever. Both Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle are privately owned airports after all. For all I know, those fees are unrelated to burdensome regulation. Maybe the $161 is really what it costs per passenger to run an airport, I guess. It's not as if European air travel regulators have a history of doing stupid things that cost airlines $200 million of revenue a day for almost a week.

Oh, wait.


Commencing mouth foaming now.

FUCK YOU, global regulators. I mock you from my private island.

Peace and love,

S. Misanthrope

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why Google+ Will Win

I joined Facebook when it first started. When it was still something like an actual face book. When it wasn't weird to be friended by people you went to high school with because I was actually in high school. Before news feeds and laughably ineffective security settings and Farmville. Facebook has had access to ten years of information about me, information that should enable targeted marketing the likes of which Don Draper couldn't even dream of. 

And, as of 10AM PST today, here is what Facebook has done with all that information:


Facebook gains access to ten years of snarky posts about non-visible art, debates over whether the works of Van Gogh would be better used as toilet paper or kindling, and the exact phrase "abstract art is invalid and I poop on it" repeated at least a dozen times, and they say "Hey, I bet this girl would really love some 'design objects.' Let's send her an ad for a vaguely elephant-shaped white globular structure with no apparent purpose. Yeah, the more it looks like an origami footstool made from a leukocyte, the better."

I'm pretty sure Facebook's ad generating algorithm looks something like this:

Girl or Boy?

Girl                                                                                    Boy

Gay or Straight?                                                                 Gay or Straight?

Gay                           Straight                                       Gay                           Straight

Send ads for:

Sales on anything        Sales on anything           Sales / dating services       Dating services

Advertisers, you are incompetently sexist mutherfuckers.

On the flip side, I joined Google+ exactly one day ago, and it already has the wherewithal to read my Facebook feed to recommend I check out specific restaurants when I get to Bora Bora. Booyah.

Smooch smooch,

S. Misanthrope

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stupid of the Week #10: Non-Visible Art

So, this really happened.

In case you're too lazy to read the article (read it!), here's a quotation:

"The Museum of Non-Visible Art is a project endorsed by actor James Franco that promotes artwork that is imagined by the artist. So, when new media producer Aimee Davison recently shelled out $10,000 for a piece of non-visible artwork, what she was really getting was a card to hang on her wall that describes the invisible, non-existent piece of art."

Here follows my hilarious, witty and insightful non-visible blog post titled "I am so fucking thrilled that I can now get paid thousands of dollars for literally nothing" making fun of this stupid idea. Enjoy!












































Invisibly yours,

S. Misanthrope

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to Earn Respect at Work

Me: [walking into Jim's office] Hey, Jim.

Jim: Hi, S.

Me: You know Eddie Izzard's giraffe walk?

Jim: What?

Me: You know, the one that goes like this. [Mimes Eddie Izzard miming a giraffe]

Jim: Oh. Yes. I saw that bit. Once.

Me: Well, there's something about this hallway that makes me want to do the giraffe walk every time I go down it. Maybe just to see if anyone would notice.

Jim: [Silence]

Me: You know?

Jim: Not really.

Me: Oh.

[More silence]

Jim: By the way, I haven't done that thing you asked me to do yet.

Me: Why not? Do I need to be meaner? Do you not take me seriously?

Jim: You just came into my office and told me that you feel compelled to walk like a giraffe.

Me: Oh. Yeah, I guess I see your point. Bye, then.

Jim: Bye.

Me: [giraffe-walks out the door]

The End.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Point Is Not the Point

It’s a medical and cosmetological fact that you should wash your hair as rarely as possible. So why do I scorn the multitude of wannabe cave-dwellers currently beating their chests and grunting in favor of going “no-poo”? For the same reason why I oppose all things “paleo” despite generally approving of low-carb eating: we only agree by accident.

If I could choose one idea to have surgically implanted into the brains of every person in my Facebook feed, it would be this: two people who arrive at the same conclusion but employ disparate chains of reasoning are not in meaningful agreement. Carefully ponder this sentence, if you would. I plan to spend the better part of this month on this issue and all the ways that failing to grasp it annoys me.

If you think about it, which no one does, there are countless examples of this principle at work. Like, say, if Jane really likes dogs and Kevin really likes dogs, but Jane likes dogs because they can be trained to kill other dogs in fights while Kevin likes dogs because you can style their fur like in Edward Scissorhands, well, then, Kevin and Jane don’t really have much in common at all, do they? When it comes time to pick a movie, one will want to watch Oliver and Company and the other Kujo.

The entire point of this example was to give me an excuse to post this picture.
This whole concept should sound very familiar to a certain group out there: it's the exact reason why O'ists and libertarians are at odds. Well, ok, in reality, that fight is usually just people trying to act like good members of their respective groups, but the original, valid dispute centered on the fact that wanting the same particular outcomes is not all there is to it when it comes to political (or any) ideology.

Someone agreeing with you, but for bad reasons is not helpful. In fact it's the opposite of helpful. Say you adamantly believe in breast feeding over formula feeding. If some woman gets up on national television and tells everyone that she's in favor of breast feeding too, because Cthulhu came to her in a vision and told her that all formula is poison that will turn the children of the earth into reptile-like creatures with night vision, that woman is not helping your cause. She's making you and all who agree with you look fucking insane.

As I said, we’ll explore this topic in more detail soon, but meanwhile, try to remember that the point is not the point; how you get there is the point. Take your pick of sappy metaphors about journeys versus destinations or whatever it takes, just please install this idea firmly in your head.

Thanks,

S. Misanthrope

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stupid of the Week #9: "No-Poo"


I wasn’t kidding when I said that the paleo diet craze would end with barefoot people running around, pretending to hunt mastodons, refusing to shower and living in caves, and the paleo community isn’t kidding either when they now do all of these things. Of course being paleo is not just about, you know, being paleo. It’s also about endlessly proselytizing. It’s not enough to just go about your business doing what you think is best for your life and health personally; you have to get your friends to follow you, too. Otherwise you might look stupid when wearing these.

How does one accomplish this? Nothing attracts followers like a vast conspiracy. It allows you to simultaneously lament your group’s persecution and feel superior to all the poor sods on the outside still being duped by the system. Sometimes you get the added bonus of the conspiracy actually being real, as with the extensive government interference in our food choices. Want to drink raw milk? Hope you enjoy hoop-jumping. God help you if you want to sell it, unless of course you like being held at gun point.

Then we have the vast majority of vast conspiracies, the ones that basically consist of someone creating and marketing a product and leaving it up to the consumer to determine whether the product is right for them. The Great Shampoo Conspiracy falls in this category. A quick skim of the anti-shampoo articles out there is enough to make you think there’s some kind of massive hair-washing secret agency, complete with Suave-armed agents wiping hard drives that contain evidence that the Holocaust was really perpetrated by the hair products industry. Fear for your lives (and your follicles)!

When I first heard about the No-Poo “movement” (if it can be called that), I was intrigued, but that was because I thought it was a reference to the constipation-inducing candy sold by the Weasley twins in Harry Potter. When I realized it was really about not washing your hair, I made a mental note to mock it at some point and otherwise forgot about it.

Fast-forward to me looking for something to bitch about and reading these articles ranting about how evil shampoo companies spread lies and residue and dry scalps and how not washing your hair makes it so much shinier and manageable. Well, who wouldn’t love shiny, manageable hair? I start to hope the dirty hippies are actually right just this once so I, too, can experience a hair rebirth. I scan down to the “how to go no-poo” section of the article.

That’s when I discover that what they actually mean by “not washing your hair” is this:

1. Shampoo your hair once a week or less.
2. Rinse and condition your hair between shampoos and always condition when you shampoo.
3. Use sulfate-free shampoos.

Okay, my readers may not all have the benefit of 25 year’s experience maintaining long, gorgeous hair, so let me explain. This list is in no way different from what any hairdresser would advise you to do, certainly any hairdresser in the last twenty years and probably longer. Although some mild shampoos have advertised that you could use them every day, no one has ever seriously recommended such a practice.

You don’t have to try very hard to learn that shampooing damages hair and should be done as infrequently as possible. In fact you can just think about it. Like, with your brain.

All cleaners are bad for the material they clean, they’re just worse for the stain. They’re like chemo for fabric. For Pete’s sake, even water is destructive to any organic compound. All you have to do is think about the concept “dissolve” to realize this. You know wool, that fabric that always says “dry clean only” on the label? Know what it is? Sheep. Hair. The hair of a sheep, a farm animal that spends most of its life being exposed to the elements, is so damaged by water that it’s better to soak it in kerosene and gasoline than water. And you seriously need some anti-Panteen website to tell you this?

There’s something extra stupid about a movement that not only misstates its opponent’s positions, but its own as well, all to create the illusion of some dramatic contrast, to make an unoriginal idea seem revolutionary. One might call such a practice deceptive, or even dishonest. Hey, it might even be a conspiracy! Someone should start a website.

Peace out,

S. Misanthrope

Friday, July 22, 2011

True Calling

Now that I know these exist:






 

 

I think I may have discovered my true calling. Yes, sir, Professional My Little Pony Re-designer is the job for me!

Heart,

S. Misanthrope

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Casablanca: Not Really That Great of a Movie


I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but let’s be real here for a minute. Casablanca. Yes, the Casablanca. The only film that everyone has both heard of and actually seen. The film hands-down most frequently cited as “The Greatest Film of All Time.” That Casablanca

…is pretty okay. Yeah, it’s a good flick. The characters are memorable, the conflicts are compelling, the acting and production are solid. Especially for an old film, it does a pretty decent job of being more than just a “filmed play.” Unlike other films with an overblown reputation (cough Citizen Kane cough cough), it’s actually coherent and enjoyable.

But that’s all. It’s not remotely reasonable to even begin to think that it ranks among the greatest films of all time. That may have been a semi-rational fleeting thought to have had when it first came out in theatres, but today, with the benefit of 60 more years of cinematic history behind us, it’s inexcusable. This film isn’t even “Top 10” material let alone “All-Time Greatest.” It’s good, maybe even great, but greatest? Come on.

Casablanca is a mish-mash written by half a dozen different writers who only agreed on three things: that Nazis are bad, that patriotism consists of singing your national anthem louder than someone else’s national anthem in a country that doesn’t belong to either of you, and that rape is quaint when the French do it. And you’ve gotta be suspicious of whether people are even paying attention to their “favorite” film when the most famous, most quoted line is not actually in the film. Really, just consider that for a moment.

Oh, and you people-of-a-certain-philosophy who love that ruggedly independent Rick, didja miss his penultimate line about the “troubles of two people not being worth a hill of beans in this world?” Oh yeah, there’s a guy who really knows how to value romantic relationships. That line turns a film that could have been about two noble people facing an incredibly difficult decision between a powerful first love and an equally powerful rebound love, with a heroic man ultimately saving the love of his life from what he knows would be a mistake despite the cost to him, into a dramatic ode to self-sacrifice because “this guy might not write as many anti-Nazi books if you don’t keep sleeping with him.”

The universal over-praising of this film is the best example I can think of of ongoing mass hysteria. This happens all the time with chicks and their chick movies. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, anyone? Why are all women so obsessed with that film? Is it because the incredibly depressing story of a sexually abused child turned teen bride to a creepy old hick turned prostitute is so very relatable for us as a sex? Or is it because we are all secretly incredibly racist against Asians? Of course not.

The real reason we love this movie, aside from Audrey Hepburn’s 14-inch waist and that cat, is because every woman we’ve ever met has told us it’s her favorite movie. We’d be traitors to the clitoris if we admitted it is really just pretty okay. Ok, so women are followers. We know this. But men, what’s your excuse for rolling on your backs at the sight of Humphrey Bogart like a yearling before the alpha male?

Oh. That.

 It’s time to end the madness, people. It’s time to see clearly and evaluate independently. Or, if you can’t manage that, just repeat after me:

Casablanca…is just pretty okay.

Hugs and kisses,

S. Misanthrope

Friday, July 15, 2011

Business Idea: Reductio Reductio ad Hitlerum Education System

If I ever lose my mind and become an educator, I will absolutely without question implement this product in my classroom. The Reductio Reductio ad Hitlerum Education System is an educational tool designed to reduce and ultimately eliminate the practice of argumentum ad hominem in the United States. When utilized consistently throughout the education system, it can generate a rational culture in just two generations.

What do you get?

For four easy payments of $19.95 and one difficult payment of $13.22, you receive the entire Reductio Reductio ad Hitlerum Education System, suitable for use in a class of up to 25 students. Your RRaH kit includes:

-25 fun, engaging, and age-appropriate "Logic 101" textbooks
-1 Logic 101 teacher's edition textbook
-25 Logic 101 companion workbooks
-1 Logic 101 teacher's edition workbook
-26 copies of the official rules of parliamentary debate
-30 debate topics
-26 life-like masks of Adolf Hitler

How does it work?

The RRaH Education System works by inhibiting the effectiveness of ad hominem attacks. To apply the system in your own classroom, simply select two students, place a Hitler mask on each, randomly draw a debate topic, and enjoy a fun, productive, and logic-based parliamentary debate. Due to their natural human instinct to be douchebags, the students will eventually attempt to attack each other through vicious name-calling. When this inevitably occurs, simply remind them that they are both Hitler and had therefore better make a logically valid argument instead.

The RRaH Education System can also help eliminate other common problems like:
-Sexual harassment (no one wants to fondle that 'stache)
-Gender discrimination
-Homophobia (you're all gay now!)
-Having to look at children

Order now!

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Open Letter to People I Don't Know

Dear People I Don't Know:

The total pointlessness of open letters notwithstanding, this is probably my best chance at reaching you guys, so I may as well give it a shot. There's something I've been wanting to tell you all for years now, but I didn't quite have the words. Well, now I do, and the words are these:

Please leave me alone.

I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to discuss the weather, or when the next bus might be arriving, or what I'm wearing. I don't want to say "hi" to you or answer your inquiries about where I'm going. I am certainly not going to tell you my name or where I live. Please, just don't talk to me.

I'm not sure why this has been such a problem. I could understand if I were just standing around looking bored, but I'm not. I'm reading, jogging, and talking on the phone. I'm listening to music, playing sudoku, and buying groceries. I'm on my laptop, writing, and drinking coffee. I am not wearing a giant "please come talk to me" sign whilst engaged in any of these activities.

I've tried to send you guys signals. Really, I have. I do my best to appear unapproachable, but if I frown, you tell me to smile. I try to look busy, but if I read, you ask me what I'm reading. Ok, here's your answer: nothing now that you interrupted me, asshole.

There was a time, not too long ago, when this kind of behavior might have been appropriate. Unexpectedly fruitful conversations with strangers helped me tolerate many an interminable transcontinental flight, back in the day. But that was the day before iPhones and personal seat-back entertainment systems and Kindles. That was before we had electrical outlets and wifi as well as snakes on planes. That was when I had already finished the one book I could squeeze into my carry-on and my walk-man had run out of batteries and I literally had nothing better to do than talk to you.

Modern technology has enabled us to be constantly either entertained or productive or both. It's allowed us to go through life literally paying attention to only the things we want to pay attention to. It's given us each our own, private universe to float around it, interacting with others only when we choose.

Random people: you are no longer needed. You are redundant. Unnecessary. Intrusive. You must go the way of the buggy whip maker. Structural unemployment's a bitch, but there you are.

Please, please, please leave me alone. I don't care if you have a really important petition you want me to sign. I don't care if you like my somethingorother. The headphones are in to keep you out. Unless I'm about to get hit by a bus, bugger off.

And just to be clear, emergencies are actual, life-or-property-threatening situations. Me sleeping on the floor at an airport is not an emergency. That is normal airport behavior. That situation does not require you to wake me up to ask if I am okay. Ditto if you find me crying in the bathroom. Are you my bff? No. So for what possible reason would I talk to you about whatever's troubling me? The whole point of coming in here is to be left alone. Why are these things so hard for you to understand, people in the South? Why won't you leave me alone?!

WHY?

Please, I beg you, on behalf of personal bubbles everywhere: leave us alone.

Thanks in advance,

S. Misanthrope

Friday, July 8, 2011

All the Not-Single Ladies:

Every once in a while, when I'm out without Sig. Other, people be like "Where's Sig. Other?", to which I reply with a most articulate shrug. Then I get this completely baffled sideways look like "Whaaa?" I can see the speculations flicker by. Did they have a fight? Is S.M. stepping out on S.O.? Is their marriage in trouble? Did I remember to let the dog out? Yes, I believe I did. Where was I? Oh yes, maybe they already broke up and S.O. moved out and they just don't want to say anything about it yet, and maybe S.M. is embarrassed because S.O. is going for a younger model and...

Right, ok: people, you are crazy. There is nothing (read my lips: n-o-t-h-i-n-g) wrong with couples doing things separately. Even social things like dancing, drinking, club-going, and traveling. To the contrary, it's actually been demonstrated to be one of the key factors in successful relationships (meaning relationships where neither partner ends up killing the other or, you know, breaking up.) So you can just take your judgey-mac-judge-judge face and shove it, savvy?

Now to all the fine ladies and gents out there who, thanks to their aforementioned fineness, have fine ladies and gents or gents/ladies of their own and are enjoying the delicious, delicious fruits of committed relationships, I'm here to tell you not to let all the single ladies get you down. First of all, the non-single ladies are the desirable ones, pretty much by definition. Secondly, just because there aren't a lot of songs that urge married folks to gesticulate in some particular way, doesn't mean your fun times are over. To the contrary, your times are funner than ever before. You can finally just relax and enjoy yourself because:

1. You *know* you're getting laid when you get home from the club.
2. You have an easy out with the creepers.
3. It completely doesn't matter what you look like, because someone is already stuck with you (see #1).

Congratulations: you just turned the most stressful experience known to man into a pleasant pastime. Maybe you can even enjoy going to the gym now. The possibilities really are limitless.

If you're still stressed because Judgement-Face over there is still giving you the fish-eye, here are some handy tips:

1. Buy your own drinks. It's really only fair. People only buy you drinks to get in your pants, so if your pants are not for sale, don't accept payment.
2. Wear your ring. People don't always look for them, but it should be there in case they do. You might consider wearing one even if you aren't actually married, just to simplify the communication.
3. Be honest. You don't have to tattoo "TAKEN" on your forehead, but until Facebook is holographically superimposed on top of real life, you will have to make an effort to communicate your relationship status appropriately.
4. Set time limits. Spending a lot of time with one person generally indicates a serious interest. You can avoid awkwardness by mentioning that you aren't single early on, such as between the first and second dance.
5. Be fair. Sometimes people will do things for you and expect little in return, but usually they want to get some. As soon as a favor is offered, say something like "I'd love to accept, but you should first know that I'm not available."

Unlike my dating advice, I've actually put these ideas into practice, with really encouraging results. I've yet to run into a negative reaction. In fact, I've yet to run into anything but gratitude. About a quarter of men will thank you for the dance or whatever, then politely move on. Half will say it's cool, they just want to dance or whatever and will stick around a while. The last quarter are the pushy ones who say they're fine with there being no romantic or sexual prospect, but soon start asking where your partner is, and if he's not here, what's the harm of spending a little time together, maybe just a little kiss, eh?

This actually brings me to a broader topic which is that people are actually pretty okay, at least for short periods of time, so just give them a fucking chance, ok? Strange claim for a misanthrope to make, I know, but it's true. I simply do not understand the general objection of the female sex to cat calls, pickup lines, and the like. What kind of mind-body dichotomy crap is that? A guy passing you on the street can't asses your IQ or career success from looking at you. All he knows is: hot or not. And if the answer is hot, why wouldn't you want to know? Being hot certainly doesn't prohibit you from also being smart. In fact, statistically, the two are actually correlated. Yes, there are rude ways to let a girl know that you find her attractive, but there are plenty of polite ways as well. Why do they all seem to end up lumped in the same bucket?

Again, speaking from actual experience here. Number of times I've gratefully acknowledged unsolicited verbal male appreciation: um, dozens? Number of times a pleasant interaction has resulted: same. Number of times I've materially benefited from the exchange (i.e. gotten a favor like directions, recommendations, someone to carry heavy stuff, etc.): at least 15. Number of times I've been sexually assaulted: 0.

What was my point here? Oh right: people need to chill out and have fun whether or single or not.

Bitches, be cool!

S. Misanthrope

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I...I'm Not?

Over the ZOMGHAPPYBIRTHDAYAMERICAFUCKYEAH!! weekend, I got hella sunburned, as we say in NorCal. That fact alone is enough to clue you in that I am "white as fuck" (the technical term, I believe.) But despite my Type 2 skin and Wonderbread upbringing, I like to fancy myself a reasonably streetwise, urban fellow these days.

Alas, any such illusions were cruelly shattered as I stood outside of a Target in Hicksville alongside my fellow victims of UVB, shamelessly rubbing recently-purchased aloe vera over our lobsterfied bodies in the middle of the public sidewalk. Aghast at my embarrassingly public display, but unwilling to stop, I remarked "God, I feel so ghetto." At that exact moment, two black women walked past us, and the first coolly responded:

"Y'all not ghetto."

It had been spoken. Ghetto we were not. My devastation knew no limit. The most ghetto moment in my life, visibly rubbing myself outside a discount shopping center in some random white trash town, just wasn't ghetto enough. Damn, so why did I suffer through 3 years living on the South Side? Why did I watch all that BET and learn the words to "99 Problems?" Why did I buy these sweet kicks?

Ok, so I don't actually have sweet kicks, but I think I deserve some cred for surviving a place where we not only heard gunfire at night, but actually found bullets (not casings, but bullets) in the street outside our apartment. Sure, I was enjoying high-priced coffee, eating sushi, wearing sweatshirts with shorts, and indulging in other stuff white people like at the same time, but living next door to active gang warfare has to count for something. Besides, I speak Mexican, bitches.

It's time we recognized that ghetto is not a skin color- it's a way of life.

Keep it real, y'all,

S. Misanthrope

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Answer

I'm seriously considering deleting my prior post. As it turns out, it would be super, super illegal for me to have done anything other than what I did (which was nothing) in the face of that anti-gay nonsense at work, because it was *religious* anti-gay nonsense. Apparently no matter what kind of nonsense you spout, you are protected from any kind of negative consequences at work, as long as your nonsense is the special, protected type of nonsense.

So here I find myself in the middle of a PC pickle. This Neanderthal is protected in the name of religion, but homosexuals are offered similar protection. It's a hostile work environment to talk about hating gays, and it's a hostile work environment to talk about hating religious morons who hate gays. What the fuck, society?

Remember the Civil Rights movement, or any major cultural movement for that matter? Does anyone remember how things actually changed? It wasn't the government coming in and granting special protections (which doesn't even make any sense when the goal is *equal* protection). The government is always, always late to that kind of game. The real change happens when ordinary people challenge the corrupt legal and social order: when German kids swing dance in the 30s, when little old ladies refuse to go to the back of the bus in the 50s, when Iranians tweet their protests today.

The legal restrictions we've placed on employers not to discriminate based on this or that merely serves to retard our progress as a culture. Gay rights activists in San Francisco in the 70s would publish lists of anti-gay businesses in the city so that those who opposed such bigotry could avoid patronizing such businesses. This created an economic incentive to actually change points of view. Now that the law simply prohibits anti-gay discrimination, we have no clue who the bad guys are. The bigots haven't gone away; they've just been silenced- for now.

Thus, for the first time ever, I am considering self-censorship. What matters more to me- my job or my job on my terms? The reality is, I can't have my job on my terms at all, not completely, so I guess that answers that.

Here's to hopefully getting what you need, if not what you want,

S. Misanthrope

Friday, July 1, 2011

Record Low

After my crazy push last month-end to avoid having the lightest-posting month in my history, I dropped the ball for June. But that's okay; I'm calling June a "research and reconnaissance" month. Every once in a while, I need to spend some time out in the real world so I can find more ridiculous things to complain about. The last few weeks have certainly provided some precious fodder in that respect. Here's one example:

I recently attended an intra-company conference a.k.a. massive forced networking event. Being so positive on humanity generally, as you all know I am, I anticipated meeting dozens of really awesome people who are totally worth my time. Haha, jk. But actually it turned out to be pretty okay. A couple of days of fun, frivolous conversation and professional education left me feeling pretty good about the caliber of the associates at my firm.

So we get down to the very last day. The conference is technically over, and I'm chattering away with "Bob" from the "Somewhere in the South" office, passing the time, chewing the cud, etc., waiting for our respective transportation to arrive. Being incurably hard-wired to bring up controversial subjects if left in conversation for more than two minutes, I end up sort of indirectly ranting about religion. Not in the "here are 5,000 reasons off the top of my head why religion is totally retarded" kind of way; more like "and this one time, at church camp, the minister gave a sermon about Lord of the Rings." Strictly lighthearted, amusing, non-offensive stuff.

When I eventually come up for air, it's "Bob's" turn to amuse me. He begins talking about the highly evangelical, "in your face" Christians and why he thinks they have it wrong. Then, in a completely off-hand aside, he casually mentions that he considers homosexuality "a sin against God."

About 50 thoughts hit me simultaneously. Oh my god, I've been living out West too long, I forgot some people actually think this stuff, but then with Prop 8, maybe there are more of them out West than I think, is this what having a global company means, all these offices with different cultures and some of them are going to think God hates the gays, and am I going to have to deal with this for as long as I work here, are there people in my own office who think this shit and I don't even know, and what do I do, do I call him an idiot and walk away or do I have to be polite since he didn't bat an eye at my atheism, would it be a violation of company policy to give my unfettered opinion or would it just be career suicide, I wonder how many of the other people I met have similar ideas, thank god there wasn't time for more deep conversations this week, oh my god, he's still talking, what do I do?

At this point, someone interrupted us, and I simply walked away, resolved to never speak to "Bob" again. But what if we hadn't been interrupted? What if this had happened on day one of the conference? What if it had happened with someone in my own office? I don't even know what I'm allowed by my company to say, let alone what I should say.

Believe me, I am used to being at odds with everyone around me. It comes with the territory when you hate babies and trees, think selfishness is a virtue, and oppose corporate charity. I disagree with 90% of people about 90% of things, but there are relatively few disagreements that will make me want to have nothing to do with a person. So what happens when one of those few interjects itself at work?

I know that people are responsible for what they think. I know that I am responsible for judging people for their choices, which in part means not letting them get away with being fucking morons. I know that homosexuality and morality is a personally significant issue for me, second only to children's rights in my hierarchy. I know that changing the culture has to begin somewhere and that refusing to do business with racists, sexists, and homophobes is a contribution each of us is capable of making in our own lives.

BUT...

I also know that most people don't take ideas that seriously and don't think that well. I know that most people say one thing and act another. I know that my career is incredibly precious to me, probably worth more than one minor stand, even on a major issue. I know that many of my coworkers already think I'm going to Hell for being atheist, well before consideration of my sexual behaviors. Does one more stupid belief matter, especially one so prevalent as to be virtually inescapable?

Thanks to Facebook, I now know that out of my handful of new coworker-friends, four are Christian, one with an "About Me" section that talks exclusively about praising God and another with Mother Teresa quotations (the only thing worse than the Dalai Lama), and, by far worst of all, one lists her political views as a completely unacceptable "moderate." Work is not where I get my close friends, and that's completely fine. But how do I work every day with someone who is my active enemy politically and culturally?

I'm honestly asking. Anyone?

Anyone...?

S. Misanthrope