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