Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stupid of the Week #8: My Office Bake Sale

After reorganizing this site's sidebar, I noted that the "Stupid of the Week" segment is looking more like a "Stupid of the Month" segment. Of course, like all things on this site, they are really "Whenever I Damn Well Please" segments, but I will nonetheless make an effort to discourse on stupid things with greater frequency.

Lucky for me, an easy opportunity fell into my lap this week. Some folks in my office are having a bake sale. That in and of itself is not stupid at all. I completely love bake sales since they are the only known source of lemon bars, the all-time greatest dessert. I am 100% in favor of bake sales and lemonade stands and all similar juvenile attempts at entrepreneurship. This bake sale, however, is for a cause, and the cause is: diabetes.

Pause for effect.

Yes, that's right: all proceeds from the sale of sugary baked goods will go to the American Diabetes Association, an organization (supposedly) dedicated to curing diabetes. Yeah, ok, see, the thing is: we've already cured diabetes. We've cured it by *not eating sugary baked goods anymore.* Having a bake sale for diabetes is like selling crack for Narcotics Anonymous. It's like soliciting unprotected sex to fund HIV research. It's like literally having a bake sale *for* diabetes. Like, here, diabetes: have some more people to destroy.

Is this a vast conspiracy by the ADA to create greater demand for their services? Are they trying to give us diabetes so that we will give them more money to cure it? Or is the individual who decided to organize this bake sale just not very good at thinking things through to their logical conclusion? One thing is clear: someone in this joint requires a visit from the Logic Fairy.

In case you were wondering, that's this guy.


Sugar and spice and everything nice,

S. Misanthrope

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Zombie Day

Today is the day that otherwise normal people freely acknowledge that they totally think zombies are real. We're all about cultural sensitivity and respect here at Strategic Misanthropy, so please enjoy this good faith offering in honor of this holy day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday

If you live in a cave and that cave doesn't have internet, then this post's title may not trigger an involuntary chorus of the "song" "sung" by Rebeca Black in the most hated (and most watched) Youtube video of all time. But if you live in an internet-less cave, you probably aren't reading this post anyway, so I'll assume little to no explanation is necessary here. Suffice it to say that I found the idea of a Good Friday rendition of "Friday" too delectable to pass up.

If I had access to autotune, a video camera, and technological skills of any kind, I might have put together an actual video. Or I may still have chosen the lazy route of just writing down the lyrics and leaving it to my dear readers to provide the music. In any event, please enjoy.

(Good) Friday

Lyrics by S. Misanthrope

Music by an epileptic parakeet (I'm guessing)

Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-men!
Hallelujah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah-ah-men
Yeah-ah-men
Yeah-ah-men
Yeah-ah-men
Yeah, yeah, yeah

At the cock’s crow, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, going down to Hell
Gotta get my bowl, or is it a grail?
Puttin’ on my crown, the time is coming
Guess it’s pre-ordained, Dad says I have to,
Gotta get down to Calvary
Gotta get my cross, I see my friends (My friends)

Peter in the front seat
Judas in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

Good Friday, Friday
Crucified on Friday
Everybody's looking forward to Easter Sunday
Friday, Friday
Killed by Jews on Friday
Everybody's looking forward to Resurrection

Partying, partying (Yeah)
Partying, partying (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Looking forward to Resurrection

Second cock’s crow, we're heading up the hillock
Hurtin’ so bad, I want time to fly
Fun, fun, think about fun
Guess I’m forsaken
I got this, you got this
My friend is by my right, yeah
But this guy on my left,
He’s a real dick

Peter in the front seat
Judas in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

Good Friday, Friday
Dying on Good Friday
Everybody's looking forward to Easter Sunday
Friday, Friday
Stabbed and lashed on Friday
I for one am looking forward to the fall of Rome

Partying, partying (Yeah)
Partying, partying (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Looking forward to Resurrection

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday
Today is Good Friday, Friday (Partying)
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
Gonna die for your sins today

Tomorrow is Saturday (when I’m in Hell!)
And Sunday’s when I emerge
I really want this weekend to end

J-C, Jesus Christ
Chilling on the cross y’all (On the cross y’all)
In the sealed tomb (In the sealed tomb)
He’s journeying, traveling (Through hell!)
Abraham, David’s here
All the virtuous heathens (Woo!)
(Plato!) Passing by is Lucifer in front of me
Uh uh, man, you stay right here
Check the time, it's Friday, it's a weekend
Man, we got two more days down here?

Good Friday, Friday
Down to Hell on Friday
Then I’ll come back up on Easter Sunday
Friday, Friday
Saving souls on Friday
This what you wanted, Dad? Are you fucking happy now?

Partying, partying (Yeah)
Partying, partying (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Looking forward to Resurrection
 
Good Friday, Friday
Eat my flesh this Friday
Everybody's looking forward to Easter Sunday
Friday, Friday
Drink my blood on Friday
I sure hope Communion is just a metaphor

Partying, partying (Yeah)
Partying, partying (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Looking forward to Resurrection

Yours in reverence,

S. Misanthrope

Monday, April 11, 2011

There Is No Such Thing as a "Permanent Record"

Based on the following conversation, I felt this required clarification:

Me: Although generally marriage creates a favorable tax position, at high enough income levels, it's actually a tax burden. In fact it's not entirely uncommon for high net worth individuals to divorce, because the tax savings are so substantial.

My coworker: But isn't it really bad to be divorced?

Me: Well, they don't actually split up. It doesn't really change anything. They don't even have to tell anyone.

My coworker: But doesn't a divorce go on your permanent record?

Me: Um, I mean, it's in the court records, but someone would have to go look for that information.

My coworker: But what about your permanent record?

Me: Your...what?

My coworker: Your permanent record of everything you ever do.

Me: Like with God or something?

My coworker: No, that, like, employers check and stuff.

Me: That's not a real thing.

My coworker: It's not?

Me: No.

My coworker: Oh. Are you sure?

Me: Pretty sure, yeah.

My coworker: Oh.

To be fair, she is from an undersea colony where the government does in fact keep one comprehensive record of all your information, including first grade spelling test scores, natural hair color, and parking tickets.

Friday, April 8, 2011

This Might Make Your Life a Little Easier

Roald Dahl has an amusing short story about a young priest who comes down with a mysterious affliction that causes him to pronounce the most important word in every sentence he speaks backward. This results in sermons praising the Almighty "Dog," pleas to the congregation to "krap" their cars more considerately, and admonitions to "pis" the Communion wine. The humor, of course, is that all of these words sound like other English words whose meanings are absurd, offensive and inappropriate in the context.

The story of the priest is pure fantasy, naturally, but some people actually live in this kind of world, though to a lesser extent. All professions have specialized jargon, and often that jargon is developed by attaching an uncommon meaning to a common word. The word "spin" means something different to a journalist versus a figure skater versus a physicist, and none of them mean what the man on the street means when he says "spin."

Usually these meanings are so disparate from the norm, you won't find yourself confused for more than a moment. When the physicist's wife is choosing his tie, he doesn't mistake her question about the color for a question about quarks. But, in some cases, the jargon is so entrenched in your mind, that you find yourself utterly lost in it, and you start thinking that the people around you are spouting all kinds of nonsense when they're really just using words like normal people and you're the weird one.

This might happen if, say, you study, live, and promote a philosophical system with a whole slew of unique and controversial definitions for common terms. Terms like purpose, honesty, integrity, selfishness, greed, happiness, productivity, rationality, etc. Or one that coins a bunch of new terms, like rational faculty, central purpose, and floating abstraction. And not only are you using a strange new language, you are also using it much more precisely than people commonly would. That could seriously fuck up your ability to communicate with a normal human.

You get so used to hearing and speaking in this way, that it becomes second nature to you. You speak it; your friends speak it; you write it on your blog and read it on other blogs. You forget what normal language sounds like and what standard meanings are. You get used to throwing around terms like "comprachicos" and making jokes about tables, and it's all hunky-dory because you're all on the same page.

Then one day you find yourself prattling on about your "CPL" or your "low crow" in front of normal people, who all stare at you like you're an alien with a malfunctioning babelfish, which is basically what you are.

It's not like I'm speaking from personal experience or anything. 

You are the one speaking a foreign language. You're the one with the weird terminology and revolutionary ideas. It's your job to remember who your audience is, so speak goddamn English, will you?

It's not just when speaking that you need to be careful. Specialized jargon can seriously mess with your listening comprehension as well. People sound like they're saying all kinds of crazy shit when you forget to turn on your jargon filter. If you aren't careful, you'll end up chasing all kinds of ridiculous "hay-men" (they're like straw-men*, but not dishonest) instead of addressing the real issues.

The fact of the matter is: most people don't talk like us (that's Objectivists, in case you missed that). I'm not saying you have to like it, or approve of it, or even accept it, but you do have to understand it. Otherwise you will waste a whole lot of time freaking out every time someone uses "pragmatic" as a compliment or a 9-11 firefighter is lauded for "selflessness."

Because I really am here to help, I've compiled a short but hopefully useful guide to translating some common terms that tend to get mistranslated by we O'ists.

The Normal Person Lexicon
Updated on occasion by S. Misanthrope

Capitalism
This never, ever means what we think it means.
What they don't mean: the only rights-respecting political system
What they do mean: usually either an economic system in which capital is privately owned by a few and everyone else is a poor oppressed worker, or the economic system America currently has

Honesty
What they don't mean: acknowledging that one cannot fake reality
What they do mean: not lying
Come to think on it, that's actually what a lot of Objectivists mean.

Objective
There are quite a few meanings for this one, but none line up with the one we use.
What they don't mean: derived from reality, validated by reason, evaluated according to a rational standard of value
What they do mean: either impartially logical or absolute and definite, independent of personal taste, judgment or opinion

Pragmatic
As with many of these terms, what normal people mean here is something between what you think they mean and something that's actually not so bad.
What they don't mean: unprincipled, whim-worshipful
What they do mean: practical, non-dogmatic, focused on reality and consequences, albeit often with a short-term focus

Sacrifice
This sometimes means what we think it means, but at least half the time it really means something heroic, like giving up a high value for an even higher one. often a material value for a non-material one, like giving a kidney to your wife or fighting a bear to save your child. Before you get upset, try saying "heroic effort" instead, and see if that makes more sense in context.

Selfish
It's really best if you just substitute this term for "self-centered" any time you hear it used negatively; 9 times out of 10, this is a more appropriate word for the context.
What they don't mean: engaged in pursuing long-term, rational self-interest, refusing to sacrifice a greater value for a lesser
What they do mean: self-absorbed, rude, self-centered, tends to use other people instead of valuing or trading with them

Value
Please realize that no one has any idea what we mean when we use this term.
What they don't mean: something you act to gain or keep
What they do mean: monetary worth, usually as determined by some standard like the CPI or Ebay

I hope this brief guide proves helpful. After all, even for an immortal robot, life's to short to waste time chasing hay-men.

All the best,

S. Misanthrope

*Leaning together, headpiece filled with straw- Alas!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coming Out

Ok, so the philosophy that heretofore has gone unnamed is Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. I figured I should mention that on the off chance that someone who doesn't personally know me and owe me a favor ends up reading this blog. If you're ever wondering why I don't feel the need to prove that selfish is totes the way to be, it's because Ms. Rand already totally owned that argument, like, forever ago. I'm not going to repeat it here. What I will do is 1. take it for granted and 2. make fun of those who misapply the principle. I think this will make us all better people in the end.

So, to summarize:

-I consider myself a big-O "Objectivist." I have read all of Ms. Rand's philosophical oeuvre and agree with it insofar as I understand it, which is probably not really that far since I am not a philosopher, just a person with a semi-active brain who likes to use big words (speaking of which, did you know there's a word for that?*).
-Although I have read all that shiz, I am in no way an expert nor do I at all represent O'ism. For god's sake, do not look to me as an example of anything.
-There isn't really a third point, I just dislike lists with only two items.

Now we can all look forward to more open, honest, possibly even constructive communication in the future.

Cheers,

S. Misanthrope

*There's also a word meaning "your neighbor whose house is on fire." I have a sneaking suspicion that the insurance industry is responsible for that one.

Realization

Most conventions are stupid. No one thought them through when they were invented and no one has thought them through since, so we keep following them over and over with the same maddeningly unsatisfactory results. It's beyond infuriating, and I often feel like the only person in the world who has ever even heard of Mythbusters.

As my readers and 4 followers know, I've courageously dedicated my down time at work to defying tradition and unveiling its embarrassing  lunacy on this site. But some traditions really are there to protect us. I'm guessing this happens more by accident than by design. A 95% confidence interval is wrong 5% of the time. But either way, the fact remains that some traditions should be respected and obeyed.

One such tradition is the standard practice of hating your friend's ex. I used to think this was stupid. For one thing, the ex may not be at fault at all. Even if they initiated the split, it's possible, likely even, that they acted rightly. For another, breakups are in some respects even harder for the breaker than for the breakee. The whole practice of automatically shunning the ex just out of loyalty to your friend seems grossly unfair, and I've made a concerted effort to avoid it. I've sent the "Hey, just checking in. We can still be friends even though my friend cried for a week over you." emails and had the "Oh, hey, glad you're well and with that skank." niceties at the awkward first post-breakup social interaction. I've tried all of that, out of fairness, and here's what I learned:

Fuck being fair.

Seriously. It's not a moral judgment. I still totally get that the ex may have done nothing wrong. I'm not condemning them or their actions. But I'm also not going to make nice, check that they're okay, or pretend to still be friends with them when all they really ever were to me was my friend's significant other. I'm not going to do any of that because whether they meant to or not, whether it was their fault or not, they hurt my friend, brutally and deeply. I can't see my friend in pain, know that pain was caused by you, and not feel sick to my stomach when I think about you. My friend's pain is my pain, and, whether justified or not, all you are to me is the person who hurt my friend. The end.

And that's really all I have to say about that.

TTFN,

S. Misanthrope

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This Is the Prize

Well, the mysterious Greek as yet has not revealed himself, but I do have a shiny new follower who gets a shiny new prize. Love it, cherish it, throw it in the trash. Whatever. Just don't say I'm not a man of my word.


You're welcome,

S. Misanthrope