Claustrophobia: Fear of being trapped in a chimney with a fat man in a red suit.
Sure, getting that fat man down small chimneys is impressive. But I'm more amazed by the fact that he can get around on roofs that must be slick with reindeer poop.
- Does Santa deliver gifts on Christmas eaves?
- Is Christmas for those who know how to enjoy thems elves?
Santa's Last Stanza
For those who want to follow along:
'Twas the night before Christmas, when Al threw the house
Warming party next door and got drunk, the old souse.
Some stockings were hung by our chimney with care,
Along with their owners, who should not have been there.
The children were wrestled like slugs into beds,
While remains of the sugar-highs drained from their heads.
And Mom in her bathrobe, and me in my socks,
Had just settled down and turned on the box.
When outside I heard what I thought was a gun;
So I sprang from the couch to phone 9-1-1.
Away to the cordless I shakily crawled
Took down the phone, dialed numbers, and called.
Then noticed outside, that the lawn was so bright,
Just like the cops with big spotlights at night.
Then what, to my sleep-addled eyes should appear,
But a fat man on a sled driving eight big reindeer.
The driver looked cunning, and lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he was coming to nick
Our TV and our stuff, or at least he would try,
Then I noticed he turned to his beasties to cry:
"Now, Masher! now, Dachsund! now Pantsuit and Fishing!
On, Stomach! on Stupid! on, Fondle and Pissing!
Onto the porch, and don't hit the wall!
Now for the getaway! Runaway all!"
As children, after breaking stuff, magically fly,
And find every hiding place, ground, sea, and sky,
So up to the top of my house they did scoot,
That old sled, that fat man, and that bundle of loot.
And then, to my fear, I heard on the roof,
The reindeer all grunting, and the chubby old goof.
As I searched for my gun, and was turning around,
Into the fireplace came the man big and round.
He was dressed like a bum, in a parka or two,
And covered in soot right down to his shoe.
A bag full of stolen goods hung on his back,
And he looked wild-eyed, probably hopped-up on crack.
His eyes -- were they bloodshot! and sunken to boot!
His complexion was awful, the crazy old coot!
His mouth was mumbling, and starting to drool,
And the beard of his chin was the color of gruel.
A stub of cigar clamped in teeth somewhat loose
Belched out black smoke round his neck like a noose.
He had a fat face, and a distended belly,
That shook when he coughed and spat phlegm that was smelly.
He was grossly obese, a right squalid old man,
And I gagged when I saw him, in want of a fan.
A squint of his eye and a jerk of his head,
Soon gave me to know I was better off dead.
But then he ignored me, and reached in his sack,
And filled all our stockings and left gifts in a stack.
And putting his finger far up his nose,
He gave me a nod and up the chimney he rose.
They charged off like a scene in a piece by Lord Tennyson,
Except he was driving eight dirty old venison.
I heard him cry out, as he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas, and so on, et cetera. Good night!"
If at first you don't succeed, use a bigger gun.
If at first you don't succeed, lie. They'll never know.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. But remove the arrow from your foot first.
If at first you don't succeed, hire someone to do it for you.
We will all be unable to move.
Have you ever noticed how people, as they get older, move less and less? And how old people tend to move very little, spending their days in thought, in chairs, or in an intensive care unit at the hospital?
Many people think that this lack of movement is due to health issues, or simply slower physical capability. But no - their stationary positions are deliberate, coming from one of the biggest life lessons that we are all put on the planet to learn: we lose stuff.
How many times have you put down your glasses somewhere, only to wander away and forget where you put them? How many times have you similarly lost your car keys, or your coffee cup, or your infant child?
And yet we keep on bombing around our lives, picking up stuff and then putting it down, over and over. In fact, experts say that our inability to keep our stuff is the main driving force in our weak economy, because we simply have to keep replacing things.
Meanwhile, the old people sit in their rocking chairs, smiling, humming show tunes from the 40's, and watching us all through the glasses they put on in 1984 and haven't taken off since.
The key to not losing things is simply not to move; it is our unceasing movement that causes the loss. But why?
Researchers at the Intitut de Grendl Frooshtűűk in Freso, California have discovered that all things in the universe have a life force and an accompanying drive to propagate. This is evident in living creatures, where propagation involves mating, alcohol, and online dating services, but it is perhaps not as obvious with inanimate objects. These objects cannot reproduce, obviously (with the sole exception of single socks), so their non-biological imperative is simply to spread themselves around and see a bit of the world. Lacking the mobility to do this themselves, they manipulate us to do it for them, forcing us to repeatedly go out for a cup of coffee and then visit the bathroom, or to simply wander around the house in a daze wondering what we got up for. (Apparently, this mental telepathy from the objects is the source of the occasional high-pitched whine that we sometimes hear; the objects broadcast outside of our hearing range, but the broadcasting frequency varies as they go through puberty.)
And then after we've been alive and manipulated for some years, moving around aimlessly and losing stuff just becomes habit.
Old people have learned about loss and have also learned preventative measures. For one thing, their hearing starts to go, which enables them to be less prone to suggestion from random objects. But more importantly, they have learned to ignore the impulse to move, preferring to sit complacently, stuff intact, while they watch the rest of us bumble through life.
When I am King, all people will be required to stay still at all times, to prevent further loss of our stuff. Although voluntary, the program may be easier for some people to comply with the glue, staples, and railroad spikes provided.
As we all stop wasting our time wandering around, the ensuing gain in productivity will more than offset the economic loss from stuff-replacement. And ours will be a stress-free society because we can stop worrying about where we put our glasses or our car keys, or what made us get up in the first place.
He decided he'd finally ask Donner's kid - that nerd with the light-up nose.
"Hey there, Rupert!"
"It's Rudolph, Santa"
"Sure, whatever kid. Say, have I got a deal for you. You want to lead Santa's sleigh this year?"
"No? Whattaya mean no? Quit playing these reindeer games! I'm asking if you want the dream job of all reindeer and you say 'no'? You can fly, you know the job, and you've got this whacko nose that lights up. Now why don't you want to do it?"
"Santa, it's snowing like crazy out there. I'm not getting lit and then driving this crew around the whole night."
My book will be significantly cheaper.
Oh wait - it already is!
Just in time for the holidays: the price of the book When I am King... has been slashed from $14.30 down to $7.95. (By the way, isn't slashed such a nice term for price reduction? It connotes both a price cut and a bloody horror film in 7 easy letters). The original price was, I thought, a reasonable price for the category of "as a favor to the author," but this new price is I believe closer to a real price for a real book.
In fact, the answer is far more interesting: I could see the impending economic world disaster and wanted to do my part by being able to offer the book later at a substantial discount. In this small way, I wanted to help shoppers feel that they were saving money that they could then put toward other, less important things in life like rent, food, and chemotherapy treatments. By spending less on this book, buyers can now afford to both live a little longer and enjoy the book. I would hate for people to have to choose between these two priorities, so it is wonderful to be able to provide the option of having both. Or of having two books instead for about the same price.
Buy it for yourself or as a present, or for yourself in the present. And when times get really tough, think of it as 170 pieces of paper that you got at the cheap price of under five cents each.
And if you number among the privileged few that took advantage of the offer to buy the book at the exciting, earlier, higher price, congratulations for owning the truly collectable First Edition of the book.
For anyone that actually cares about the real story:
I found a new publisher, createspace, which makes it possible to publish on Amazon.com at a much better (read: lower) price. Lulu.com, my first publisher, provides a reasonable service. But if you want to sell the book anywhere outside of the Lulu site, such as on Amazon, you basically double the retail price, which is how I got such an extraodinary price as $14.80 when the book first came out. The Lulu quality is quite good, and the pages seem to be of heavier weight and creamier complexion than those of the createspace edition ... but I doubt people want to buy this book because of what's on the inside. Instead, I think people generally judge a book by its cover.
Is the economy really in such bad and unknowable shape that the cost to repair it could be off by an order of magnitude or more, and that the final price tag might be more than the GDP of the entire galaxy?
Fear not: the experts know, as they always do, exactly what they're doing. They are using a monetary technique that comes from computer science called the "MAXINT Effect".
In computers, all numbers are represented in binary form and stored as 1s and 0s. Each number takes up a certain number of 'bits', or places that hold a one or a zero. For example, an short integer typically uses 16 bits of storage, which can store unsigned numbers of up to 65,535, or half of that if the number can be both negative and positive.
Since these numbers have only that storage space given to them, they can only reach that maximum value. For integers, the value is referred to as MAXINT. If you insist on adding more to the number, the bits will carry the one right past the end and it will be lost forever like socks in the dryer, or parental advice to kids. The number, meanwhile, will be essentially start over again.
For example, adding 1 to 65,535 in a 16-bit storage area will result in 0.
Let me say that again, because it's an important fact and one that lies at the heart of every economist's graduate degree: Adding 1 to a really big number can sometimes result in that number being equal to zero. These people go to incredibly boring classes for years to learn this, and now you know it.
Meanwhile, another important principle in computer science has important bearing on the problem. All numbers, and all information in general, is represented in computers in blocks of 8 bits, which is called a byte. It's not clear why this is, although historians suspect that the first computer scientists lacked opposable thumbs and therefore counted more easily to 8 than to 10.
Any number represented in a computer will, by convention and necessity, will have storage space equal to some multiple of 8 bits.
Now, let's go back to our economy and think about the problem again with our new-found geekonomic perspective.
The old bailout price tag was a measly $700 billion, or in binary form, 10100010 11111011 01000000 01011000 00000000, which is represented easily in 40 bits of storage. But if we push the price just past a trillion, or $1,099,511,527,776 to be exact, we will need 41 bits to represent the number, or 1 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000.
Note that we just pushed past an 8-bit multiple, and now require 6 bytes to store the new number.
Now I don't know what your experience is, but I find that the government usually provides just enough to get by, without much left over for slack. And since we're talking about numbers here that are much larger than anyone conceived of before, it's likely that there was no need for such large storage for the numbers, and thus they simply found a number of bytes that would probably do the trick. That 5 bytes of storage had served our country well throughout our history, why change it now?
Economists realized this 5-byte limit. So when we were already talking about a debt of $700 billion, it was much easier to plan on spending more than that than it was on holding the costs down. And by spending just a wee bit more, just over a trillion, they could roll that debt number right over to zero.
So when the experts talk about $7 trillion, they're just putting the number so high that we'll miss the fact that as it passes $1 billion, our economic woes will be gone.
You may be thinking that this is new and radical thinking, but other computer techniques are used elsewhere in our economy. For example, companies that cannot maintain revenue, products, and basic business plans often see their stock dive. At a certain point, the executives realize that it is far easier to make the stock go below zero than it is to raise it up again. This strategy uses the inverse of the MAXINT effect, commonly called TNIXAM, causing the stock price to wrap around from zero to some absurdly high number.
TNIXAM works because stock prices cannot go negative. A negative stock price would mean that the company owed shareholders something, which is clearly not how business works. So if a company's stock price ever goes past zero, it will do so by wrapping around to a large positive number instead.
This technique is why you often see companies floundering as their stock price gets lower and lower. One would naturally think that the companies should change direction, leadership, products, marketing, or anything in a desperate attempt to start selling things again and get that stock price up. But it's far easier to just keep doing the same thing and drive the price right into the ground and back out the other side.
There is some who think that stock prices use the 'bounce' technique instead, which says that if they hit a price of $0 hard enough they will bounce up higher than before. But that theory is ridiculous and not based on any solid, numerical principles like TNIXAM.
As a time of gathering
In each neighborhood.
Family and friends
All feasting together
Eating tons of rich food
In both bad and good weather.
The holiday's based on
A story of old
That, when we were little,
We were too-often told
About pilgrims and Indians
Now fast befriended
Joining together, all
Bad feelings ended.
But if you examine
The story quite close
You'll soon have a new
Take on it, one more morose.
In making the Pilgrims eat
Till guts were puffed,
They were really just telling
Them all to get stuffed.
And in setting a precedent
For such a great meal
They were boosting cholesterol
To levels unreal.
It was all just a ruse,
And a good one at that,
To get the Pilgrims eating
So much they'd get fat.
Now four centuries later,
We waddle in stores
Like Walmart, and Costco,
And McDonalds galores.
The strategy paid off and
We now are quite plump,
With centuries of Stuffing and
Meat in our rump.
Their joke came to pass,
And much laughing is heard:
When feeding us turkey,
They flipped us the bird.
Does he find the job taxiing?
Or does it drive him crazy?
Is it a profession to steer clear of?
Does a popular cabbie receive fanfares?
As he drives down the street, does everyone hail him?
There will be no automated bathroom devices.
Does anyone else think it's just a little bit creepy to have cameras peering out of the toilet at them? Sure, they're called sensors and they're for detecting when it's time to flush, but do we know that's the case? What if they're really wired up back to some control room, with people monitoring automatic flushers planet-wide, taking video and flushing the toilets remotely?
Meanwhile, the systems aren't very foolproof. Half the time it goes off right before you start, sometimes it decides for no reason whatsoever that it needs to flush in the middle, and sometimes it never flushes when you're done. It's got the predictability of a kid in potty-training. All it needs now is a way to spray water all over the bathroom and use up all the toilet paper and it could pass for a 4 year old.
After the toilet, you head to the sink and are faced with another camera, this one trying to detect when you want water so that it can avoid giving it to you at that exact moment. You wave your hands furiously under the sink, back and forth, up and down, praying to the faucet god, until you find the small sweet-spot where it can see your hands. This place is usually nowhere near the spot where the water comes out, so you shuffle your hands back and forth between the detection spot and the place where your hands actually get wet until your hands are mildly damp, mostly from sweat.
Then you move onto the soap dispenser, and another sensor, where you play the hand-shuffle game again until it finally squirts a load onto the counter.
When you're finally done attempting to wash your hands, you'll need a towel to wipe off the soap that you couldn't get the water to rinse. The dispenser is also camera controlled and you play the hand-jive again. But this time, they're more clever. They know that if you wave your hands wildly in the air for long enough, you will end up drying them yourself. The automated towel dispenser is just a means of saving money on paper towels by making you air-dry your own hands. Occasionally, the machine does push out a towel at you, just to keep you in the game. This towel is roughly the size of a movie ticket, and attempts to pull out a longer sheet from the machine are rewarded by ripping the result into merely a ticket stub size.
Between the voyeuristic flushing cameras, the machines that never actually operate when you need them, and the effort we go through to make all of them function enough for us to get out of that room, it's a wonder we installed them at all. What was wrong with that old system where we actually used our own energy to operate the machines? In fact, it takes far less effort to operate the manual versions than it does to jump around in some kind of bathroom rain dance waiting for the sensor-controlled machines.
When I am King, we will return to simpler devices. No sensors, no automatic dispensers, and no cardio workout every time we visit the bathroom. Instead, we'll return to a simpler time of unflushed toilets, faucets left running, and paper-strewn bathroom floors.
Many other ideas for the kingdom are still being developed, but this one's in the can.
Clearly, I had to take matters into my own hands.
Here's a video 'review' that I've posted on Amazon. Sure, some might consider it tacky for an author to review their own book. But think of it more like an informed introduction to it. Or as an act of desperation.
I hope you find it as helpful in evaluating the book as I did.
Does the Electoral College have frat parties?
Does a political party serve booze?
Do older candidates have electile dysfunction?
If there's an earthquake during voting, does the winner have a landslide victory?
Do you 'cast' a vote because you're trying to mend something that's broken?
Why do candidates always run for office? Can't they drive?
The book is now on Amazon.com:
Sorry, no humor posting today, just some useful updates about my book. There are a couple of improvements for the vast throng of people that were hoping to buy a copy, but who were scared off by the cover price and shipping costs on lulu.com:
- Amazon.com carries When I am King...: As I had hoped, Amazon has picked up the book and you can now buy it from Amazon directly. There is no discount on the price (I have no idea how to get in on that deal, but I'm thinking it's driven by sales figures. Or blackmail), but the big advantage is that you can take advantage of Amazon's shipping prices. For example, it qualifies for Prime shipping, so shipping is free if you're in on that program. And it also qualifies for free shipping on orders of over $25. This is a huge improvement over the shipping costs of lulu.com (sorry, lulu), which are somewhat high if you just want the one book. Maybe they assume that everyone wants ten copies of the book. I mean, if you enjoy it once, you'll probably want to read it over and over again. And there's nothing quite like cracking open a new book for the first time, so you'll want multiple copies just to keep having that feeling, right?
- Lulu.com price drop: I reduced the price of the book on lulu.com from the original $14.80 to the new and seemingly random price of $12.30. Amazon still has the original price, as these changes take a few weeks to trickle through the system; they should eventually have the book at this lower price as well.
- Electronic version: I had requests to make the book available in electronic form, so I've made a download version available on lulu.com. It's significantly cheaper than the print version, at $3.75, so if you just wanted to read the book on your computer, this is probably cheaper and easier than buying the book and scanning in all of the pages one by one. But feel free to do both.
- But Wait, There's More: The Amazon links above reflect the new (as of December, 2008) listings and prices on Amazon with the new publisher createspace.com.
Sorry for the ad, but I thought these updates were interesting enough to warrant a post. My next posting will be humorous. No joke.
p.s. If you like the book, or this blog that the book's material comes from, I'm not averse to having you post a review on Amazon or lulu.com. Nor am I averse to stooping so low as to ask for it.
Knocking at my door?
Will they ask for tricks or treats,
Or will they want some more?
Will they talk of "Yes on 9!"
And speak of Measure 8?
Or will, instead, they tell me of
Their favorite candidate?
Halloween can always be a
Scary time of year.
But coupled with election time
I live in mortal fear.
Afraid to answer doors as well as
Rings upon the phone.
Afraid of people waving signs
Who won't leave me alone.
Afraid of watching TV's endless
Clips of peoples' speeches.
Afraid of watching candidates who
Act like smiling leeches.
This year when kids yell "Trick or Treat!"
At every residence
They'll take some candy, then debate
The choice of presidents.
A: A stump speech
Q: What kind of talk does a confused candidate give?
A: A stumped speech
Q: When did the candidate decide to run for office?
A: When he was being chased
Q: Why was the bag of dried fruit so loud?
A: Because the candydates would never shut up
Q: Why did the candidate stand for reelection?
Our economy will be based on simpler fundamentals that we can all get our teeth into.
Credit Default Swaps. Hedge Funds. Subprime mortgages. Housing bubble. Liquidity.
What the heck do all of these things mean? And how do they relate to the stock prices and an economy that many experts now call "Sucky"? Does anyone really understand this stuf?
There are so many things that are fuzzy about the financial crisis, such as how much money we're all losing in the markets every day, or whether we'll be eating our shoes to get by this winter. But one thing is abundantly clear: the world financial markets are so complicated that nobody really seems to understand them. And since nobody understands them, we don't really know how we got into this mess, how to get out of it, or how to avoid it in the future.
It's like when your kid messes up their room. You send them into a spotless room and a half hour later it looks like a rhinoceros had a seizure in there. It's not physically possible for that small child to have done that amount of damage to a room, yet there is the evidence. How did it happen? And where did the rhino poo come from, anyway?
The politicians are focused on how we can fix the banks, and the monetary system, and the mortgages, and all of this other stuff that we still don't actually understand. That's like trying to put together a complicated model without instructions; you're just left with a mess of plastic parts and too much glue-sniffing.
It seems much better to just give up and start over.
When I am King, we will return to an economy that we can all understand. Paper money, bank statements, and stock prices are all too abstract. We will, instead, go to a system of trading something more real and substantial: teeth.
No longer will the Tooth Fairy spirit away teeth and leave behind cash; this is a remnant of a failed monetary policy. Instead, the teeth will stay there for the children to save up for college. Adults can choose to keep their teeth, or to sacrifice them for things they truly need, like food. Or false teeth.
As we slowly spend our teeth, we will then spend less time on brushing and flossing them, making us more productive and happy (though our smiles may not be quite so bright).
Meanwhile, the Tooth Fairy will be sought by the authorities as an outlaw and a primary contributor to the financial crisis. We have to have someone to blame.
But hard times come to all companies, whether it's due to the state of the economy or just because the company doesn't have a clue how to avoid getting flattened like a frog on an interstate.
At times like these, when the company is asking everyone to pull together, you need to be looking out for yourself. When they tighten the corporate belt, you want to be on the inside of those company pants.
In fact, dire times might be the perfect time for you to climb further up that management chain. Sure, the company may be sinking, but the very top of it will be the last to slip under the waves.
So how do you persevere, much less triumph, when your company is hurting like hot sauce on a paper cut?
Here is what I call my Several Step Plan for when Companies are going Down the Toilet (SSPCDT).
Layoffs will come. They will be awful and horrible. And they will supposedly be a secret. Your Human Resources department thinks that it's clever and that nobody will know when the big day is coming, but everyone will. For one thing, they will book all of the conference rooms in advance and populate them with boxes of tissues and Tazers, just in case.
Make plans to be away that day. Move your office. Change your company phone extension. Switch nameplates with co-workers. You don't know that you're on the list, but make sure that if you are, they can't find you.
Some of your co-workers have now left the company, either willfully, involuntarily, or on a stretcher. There is now a depressing abundance of office space around you where there used to be people, or, as you should have thought of them, competitors for advancement.
Now is the time to consolidate your holdings. Life is a land grab, and it starts at work. Knock down your cube walls and expand into the neighboring cubes. Shift your growing cube slowly over to the window or closer to the boss's office. Try to occupy the entire area eventually. If you meet resistance in the form of people still occupying their offices, tell them that HR was looking for them and roll right through their cube in their absence.
When you're all done, there's no way that the boss can fail to notice you anymore, since you know occupy the whole area between his office and the elevator.
With so many people missing from your department, your boss will be that much more available. They'll probably be lonely, as well. Make a point to stop by their office and chat, several times a day. Become a friend, or at least someone who acts like a friend.
This may take some effort, as you may not know anything about your boss yet. For one thing, you probably want to start every conversation with your name, since they may have ignored it so far. Also, you may need to stalk them at home to discover more about what they do and who they are so that you can casually bring it up in conversation when you walk into their office: "Hey! How's the morning treating you? How are the kids, ages 3, 5, and 8? See the game last night?" Note that mentioning last night's TV entertainment is perfect, because you know exactly what they watched and what happened in that show because you were watching it on the same set from outside their window.
At the same time as you're getting more familiar with your boss, you might want to casually and frequently 'bump into' their boss. Elevators are reasonable places for this, although it's difficult to have a private conversation without pushing the other people out onto floors they didn't want to go to.
The best place for a private casual conversation is neighboring urinals in the restroom. This only works if both of you are men; otherwise, you'll have to improvise on that theme.
The point of these meetings is two-fold: you'll want to get to know the boss, or at least for them to know your name. But more importantly, you'll want to sow some seeds of doubt about your boss, leaving the impression that they'd be better off with you in charge. Here are some examples of these subtle exchanges:
"Hi, I don't know if you remember me. I'm Bob Kreenst, from Payroll. It's too bad about the situation there. My boss is doing a great job, just great. Given his limitations. We'd probably do much better with someone else leading the charge there. Like me."
"Hi, did you hear about Ken, the manager in Payroll? I think the pressure is really getting to him. He's holding it together pretty well, given what he's been through. But I've seen a crazy look in his eyes. All I want is the best for him. But if you want to replace him, I'm your guy."
The most important part of the entire exchange is to shake hands with them; it seals the deal and creates a personal bond. But wait until you're both finished at the urinal and have washed your hands.
The company didn't get itself into this state by actually knowing what it was doing. Now all of the execs are busy running from meeting to meeting trying to figure out what happened and how to change it before the entire thing implodes.
They're looking for new ideas.
This is your time. Just like the real battlefield, promotions on the Corporate Battlefield happen through attrition. All you need is to impress management with your visions.
The important thing is that your ideas don't have to work, or even to make sense. The company has already tried sensible plans that they understood, and they didn't pan out at all. At this point, they'll be desperate enough to latch onto anything. They'd trust a monkey, if he was dressed in a suit. This is where you come in.
Come up with a plan. You may want to get liquored up first, so that you can achieve the right combination of novelty, inspiration, and insanity that it will take.
Now the important part: Create a presentation. Anything makes sense if they see it in slide form.
Now, send in a teaser of the plan to management and ask for a meeting.
When the big day comes, get yourself amped up on a quadruple espresso and go knock them dead with your presentation. Or at least create small wounds.
But frankly, everyone is tired of being bombarded with all of these "issues," "Town Hall meetings," and "debates." I think that what our society needs instead is more catchy slogans.
Here is some sample material that I'm trying to push. I haven't yet gotten a return call from the party headquarters, but it's probably just because they're busy right now. I expect to hear from them very soon.
In the spirit of fairness, I'm only taking on one party at a time. In fact, I'll limit it to one person at a time, just to make sure I get it right.
"Sarah Palin: Showing America that you no longer have to be a man to be incompetent in the White House."
"McCain and unAble, '08"
"Sarah for VP: The successes of the last 8 years will Palin comparison"
In a surprising move, the American President today revealed that the global financial crisis is all part of his administration's overall plan for the economy.
"My fellow Americans," he said, speaking to a group of foreign journalists. "In the 1930's or maybe the 1800's, a former President established what he called the 'New Deal' to get this country out of a financial whatsit. But that deal's not so new anymore, seeing as how it's so old, so it was time we got our own plan going to fix things around here.
"My administration is implementating a totally different plan to fix the problem. The bankruptures and credit problems are just a part of my overall strategization. You can look forward to even more fixes in the coming weeks, such as a return to the Fool's Gold standard, and an economy based on chicken dumplings. Why, everbody loves dumplings!
The President declined to take questions, but he did pose for a photo op while shaking hands with a nearby shrub.
The President, caught posing for a quick caricature op
Of a country of nerds.
We formed a new nation
On programs, not words.
But I wondered, as I slept,
What choices we'd seek,
In this nation of nerddom,
This country of geek.
Would glasses adorn
Every one of our faces?
Would our childrens' bad teeth
Get new curly braces?
Would typing be urged,
And handwriting subversive?
Would our kids at least learn how
To write in recursive?
Would repetitive tasks be
'do-while's, or just 'for's?
Would our natural resources
Be exclusive ores?
Would we ever play sports,
Since we'd all get picked last, see?
Or would we learn, finally,
To kick some geek ascii?
Would the music of choice be
Algorithm and blues?
Would sneakers be the only
Would society be open
Like a great big library,
Accepting of all, be they
Straight, gay, or binary?
Would pest control work
Be nicknamed debugging?
Would identity theft be
The sole form of mugging?
Would we get with the program?
Or be left out in the code?
Would our army be run
In some kernel mode?
Would taxis and limos
Be referred to as 'hacks'?
Would religions guilt us all
About original syntax?
Would future generations
Learn more of our nation
By sifting through code dumps
Or by hexcavation?
Would our spirit stand out
Like a malformed tag,
Would we proudly display
Our Boolean flag?
The dream finally ended;
I awoke from my sleep
And I lay there till morning,
Counting binary sheep.
First impressions are the most important ones, the ones that make or break the deal. So you have to make sure that your first impression for the company leaves them quaking with respect, fear, and wonder. It's like a first date, but without making out. Unless you must to seal the deal.
Following are some important techniques that you can use the nail the job.
One of the most difficult problems we all face in today's Corporate Battlefield is how to dress for an interview. Dressing too casually gives the impression that you don't care about the job. Dressing too nice gives the impression that you don't have a clue about this particular corporate environment. So what should the Warrior do?
The best solution to this and, in fact, most problems you will face during your career is to do exactly what the people around you do. In this case, that means dressing like the people in the company. But it's not good enough to dress generically like random other people in the company: you should dress exactly like the people interviewing you.
Typically, you will get a list of people that you will be talking to for your interviews. If you don't get this beforehand, insist on it, claiming some allergy to certain names or whatever excuse you can come up with. Once you have these names, you must stalk the people on the list; watch them coming in and out of the building, taking note of what they are wearing.
Once you've compiled a list of the various outfits being worn by your interviewers, go buy those exact clothes. On the day of the interview, dress in layers, wearing all of the clothes in the proper order, so that between each interview, you merely need to peel off the outer layer to present yourself in an outfit that is tuned to the next person on the schedule.
Some important nuances to note:
- Sometimes the interview schedule will switch around at the last minute. If this happens to you, first see if you can get the original schedule back. If this is not possible, perhaps because one of your scheduled interviewers has malaria or is dead, then you'll have to improvise. Bring a lab coat to wear during the interview with the unknown person. This neutral approach will avoid all clothing issues and preserve the rest of your outfits for the people that they were tailored to impress.
- Some of your interviewers may be of a different sex. For example, you may not be used to wearing a dress like you saw your third interviewer wearing. This is not a problem - they will be all the more impressed that you happen to have their fashion taste even at the risk of societal awkwardness.
Start negotiations early
Typical salary negotiations start when the company finally admits that they want you. But this is far too late; you've already lost the upper hand at this point, and the negotiations will reflect this.
The true Corporate Warrior begins negotiations first thing, as soon as you walk into the company. Demand a pay package commensurate with what you know you are worth to them. Agree on terms before proceeding any further in the interview. After all, if they can't match your expectations, then the whole process is a waste of time.
Sometimes it's difficult to know what the right salary is. After all, you haven't had this exact job before, and you don't know how much the people at the company make. So it's usually safe to start with "Double your salary," to whomever you're meeting with first. This puts the numbers within an acceptable range, making it relative to the pay package of other company employees.
This brazen approach will convince them not only of your value, but also of your confidence and your ability to seal a deal.
Answering Interview Questions
One of the typical problems that arises in interviews is that you have to answer questions that you don't know the answer to.
Psychologists have been doing this for years, ever since Freud first said, "I don't know, what do you want to talk about?" This technique is now practiced by politicians everywhere. No matter what question is asked, they stick to their policy message: "Senator, do you know the time?" "The time is now, and always has been, and always will be, for my healthcare solution for all Americans."
In fact, the last time a politician answered a direct query was when President Taft answered the question, "Do you want another slice of pie?"
Inevitably, you will get questions in your interviews that you really haven't a clue how to answer. The trick is threefold, and is what I like to call the RTR method:
- Talk about something you know more about
- Remind them about some other question they asked that you actually did answer.
I'll give you an example:
Did you notice how cleverly we avoided the entire issue of the question, while at the same time giving interesting and crucial information about other aspects of our skills that we know far more about?
interviewer: It says here on your resume that you're an expert in the Kroonglebaum Process. Can you tell me about the Three Tenets of that Methodology?
candidate: Kroonglebaum is an excellent process, and certainly one that I favor in the groups that I lead.
For example, I managed a team of over 90 people spread throughout over 100 Geo's to implement a solution for corporate goaling, and I was recognized by the executives at the company not only as having excellent leadership skills, but also dressing well under pressure.
By the way, I'd like to return to your earlier question about coffee as an example of my decisiveness; I trust that you were satisfied by my quick and confident assertion that I would like a cup of coffee. It's just another example of the type of action-oriented contributor that you'd be getting when you hire me.
The important thing to note here is that it is far easier to develop skills of avoiding a straight answer than it is to actually learn any subject in particular. If you develop the first skill, you'll never need the second. As long as you can avoid talking about anything in particular, then you can also avoid having to know anything in particular.
Your Resume is a Pack of Lies
Another thing to notice about the previous item is that the reusme point about Kroonglebaum was obviously fabricated; our candidate hadn't a clue about it. But given the cleverness with which he deflected any questions about it, he didn't need to know anything. This is a skill to capitalize on: stuff your resume with all kinds of fiction: bullet points on skills you've never heard of, buzz words you made up, and accomplishments you couldn't possibly have achieved without another 75 years on the job.
This approach has multiple benefits, such as:
- Easy credit: None of us has anywhere near the experience that hiring companies expect of us, but that's no reason to stop us from making them think that we do. By listing it on the resume, you've staked a claim that you do know about it. Most of them won't know all of the stuff that you list either, so it's unlikely that you'll have to talk about most of it. When you do get a question, just make sure to skirt the issue appropriately and you're home free.
- Conversation: The goal of your interview is to stretch the conversation out and cover the time allotted. The worst thing you can ever do is to let the conversation die. So if you give them more talking points, then you are automatically building more conversation into the process. Don't make them work to figure out who you are; lay it out in black and white who you want them to think you are.
Ending the Interview
It's important to let the hiring company know who they are dealing with. In particular, you must keep the upper hand in the relationship. Interviews typically put the candidate at a disadvantage; the very concept that they get to make the decision about you is already a bad start.
But you can easily counter that and claim the home court advantage.
When the interviews are nearly over, check you watch pointedly and then exclaim that you're late for an important appointment and you must leave. Get up, shake their hand once, tell them that you will think about what they have said and get back to them, and let yourself out of the room.
If you do this quickly enough, you will so completely throw off the last interviewer that they will still be in the room, trying to figure out what just happened. Meanwhile, you can wander around the building, searching out a good place for your new office and stopping by the break room to pocket some free sugar and creamer packets. You may not need these, but it's an important psychological point that you have not been interviewing for free, but have now been compensated for your time.
If, by this time, they still haven't found you and escorted you out, consider finding an empty office and starting work. Roll those sleeves up, get some charts out of your bag, and look busy. The only difference between you now and you as an employee is the paycheck, and that will surely follow.
Is shaving a rabbit hare-razing?Q: What's a rabbit's favorite work of literature?
Do bunnies get hopped-up on weed?
If a rabbit's foot charm is so lucky, what happened to its former owner?
A: Warren Peace
Q: What's a rabbit's favorite 70's cop show?
A: Starsky and Hutch
Q: What do you call a rabbit's many mates?
A: A harem
Everyone will buy my book.
From the avalanche of feedback I've had and the thousands of surveys my team has conducted, it is clear that The People demand a more readable format for the truly critical "When I am King..." treatises. Especially for reading when, er, resting in a restroom.
Or perhaps I just needed to see if I could publish a book slightly less geeky than my last one.
In any case, I've just published a collection of "When I am King" articles with the catchy title When I am King.... The book is everything that you've enjoyed in those blog postings and slightly more. Additional features unique in this book include:
- A stunning new cartoon, commissioned expressly for the cover of this book by a guest artist (me)
- New cartoon icon images for every single article, by another guest artist (me)
- Clever and helpful categorizations of the articles, which are coincidentally synchronized to work hand-in-hand with the Table of Contents
- A new Foreword, written expressly for this edition by a guest author (me)
- A new Backword section (possibly the first such section for any book ever, proudly setting a backwards precedent), also written expressly for this edition, also by a guest author (also me)
- Professional, or at least time-consuming, editing, resulting in numerous spelling correxshuns and grammaratical improvements
- Sophisticated 'type setting' for every article, through the use of a 'word processing program'
Additionally, there is this one-time offer: I agree to sign your book if you happen to run into me (and I survive the crash).
Note that the shipping costs hurt a bit if you're ordering just one copy, but that the per-copy shipping is less for larger orders. So order hundreds of copies to save big.
Meanwhile, I'll be busy working on the movie deal.
Is it default of banks? Or of de administration?
Should we let the banks fail all a-loan?
Is nothing certain but debt and taxes?
Have the banks proven that if you lien too much, you'll fall right over?
I figured it was also time for a little minin' humor, dig?
Q: What’s the difference between a huge gold vein and Britney Spears?
A: One is the mother lode, the other is one loaded mother.
Q: What did the gold digger say to his new bride?
A: What’s mine is yours.
Q: What did the man’s wife say when he left home for the California Gold Rush?
A: “Come back rich, ore else!”
Did you hear about the 49’er that was unable to find any gold?
He searched in vein.
Q: What’s the difference between getting a gold mine and a fancy dinner?
A: One’s a staked claim, the other is acclaimed steak.
Q: Why did the 49’er climb to the top of the mountain?
A: He heard that every cloud has a silver lining.
Did you hear about the 49’er that fell down the shaft?
He only suffered miner injuries.
Some 49’ers were good at mining, but most people couldn’t dig it.
Q: What’s a 49’ers favorite song?
A: Anything in a miner key.
KFC Shoring Up Security for Secret Recipe
Does the company suspect fowl play?
Facebook for Spies
Same kind of site, but different kind of character assassination?
Lance Armstrong Coming Out of Retirement
Apparently, Lance intended to re-tire, not retire.
Every time I talked to someone about the appointment (my doctor, the appointment nurse, the technician, the technician's assistant, the janitor in the hospital) they all asked the same thing: do you suffer from Claustrophobia? Of course I said no: Santa wouldn't hurt me.
Finally, I was stretched out on the table, heading into the machine and I understood; it's the smallest, tightest little room on the planet, and you feel like you're going into King Tut's eternal apartment. And the folks running the machine don't help that feeling. They could have a big door into the machine so that at least you might feel like you could open that door back up. But no: they slide you into the tube head-first, leaving only the feet sticking out. Now I don't know about you, but if something went wrong and I had to get myself out of a situation, my feet are the last things I'd trust to help me out. Beyond stubbing a toe, there's not much that they can do for me.
So there I am, shoved into this Chet-sized tampon applicator, trying to calm my nerves and convince myself that the tech isn't about to tickle my feet with a hypodermic full of cyanide, when the sounds start.
At first, it's just some clicking. Like a big metal dolphin. Or like they're trying to start the machine and the engine's not turning over. Then things start for real: all of a sudden, there's a huge, constant buzzing noise ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ that the foam earplugs they gave me are doing nothing to stop. Meanwhile, I keep remembering the tech's advice: "stay still - don't move your neck." Easy for her to say: she's not stuffed into a coffin with the War of the Worlds playing around her.
After a couple of minutes of this, the tech's voice kicks in and tells me there's another test coming for 3 minutes. Then the clicking sounds. Then more loud buzzing, but different, like BZZ-BZZ-BZZ-BZZ-BZZ.... After that, another test for four minutes, again with the clicking, and again with yet another buzzing sound, loud enough to rip my head off if I hadn't been told to keep it still.
There were 3 more tests for a total of about 13 minutes, each one with its own unique buzzing sound and pattern. I felt like I was inside an 80's arcade game, when buzzing was about all that the games could do. The last one sounded like a video game sound track composed by Phillip Glass, if he'd only had two notes to work with and a sadistic agenda.
Finally, the tests were over and they let me out. They pulled me out of the machine slowly, just because they thought it'd be more fun for me to be in there for as long as possible.
I understand now what "MRI" means. Some people mistakenly think that it stands for "Magnetic Resonance Imaging," but I know better. It's actually an abbreviation for what you're thinking by the time you leave that womb of torture: "Am Are I?"
At the end of each show, the panel is asked to come up with suggestions for what might happen in some relevant current affairs topic. This week's topic was, "What's the next big news bombshell to be dropped about either Vice-Presidential candidate."
I haven't yet been asked to be on the show, no matter how often I check email looking for their request, so I didn't have the chance to answer in person. But here's how I wanted to answer from my perch atop the elliptical running machine:
Sarah Palin will be joined next week by John McCain's selections for his Cabinet: boys and girls from a local preschool. This stunning move will serve several purposes and further the chances of a winning Republican ticket:
- They'll appeal to the common man because, heck, we were all kids once. And they're so darned cute! Why not give them a chance?
- The children will distract attention from the subject of Palin's experience. (You could say that the cabinet's experience will pale in experience to hers.)
- They will bring the average age of the administration down to reasonable number.
- With several infants in the group, this Cabinet will bring a real sense of 'Change' to the ticket.
And festering sewers,
Fishing's a sport
With many allures.
Though obviously not
Working out at the gym
The fish are all strong.
Their belief: "sinker swim."
It was the kid's first trip
He was totally new.
When the first fish bit,
He was hooked (the fish, too).
A couple more fish
Were caught on a spinner
But three trout was not quite
Enough for a dinner.
We stayed out till dusk
Dropping lines out for more
And finally came in with
Net profit of four.
He threw up his hands in disgust.
Are chicken fingers cooked by hand?
Are frog' legs sold by the foot?
Does binge drinking de-liver?
While they had peoples' focus
And cameras' attention
Both parties made choices
By vote and convention.
The followers all
Were geared up for the fight;
The potential for change
Is the power of 'might.'
The speeches were long
And went into the night
Boring the crowds
From the left to the right.
And then it was done
For the file and rank.
The leaders hit the road
To walk the party plank.
They trail is tiring
and causes much strain.
That's why politics
Is called a cam-pain.
Are there a lot of jerks in weightlifting? Or are they all just dumbbells?
Q: Why wasn't the beach volleyball team hungry?
A: They all had a sandwish
Q: Why was the rowing team so slow?
A: Their sculls were too thick
At every one of these conferences, I get at least one shirt and sometimes more. Usually, it's just the conference t-shirt, some basic wearable that has the conference logo on the front and enough ads on the back to decorate a race car. Sometimes, I'm also speaking at the conference and I get a 'speaker' shirt, which usually looks exactly like the conference shirt, but with the special addition of the word 'speaker' on it somewhere.
Now I don't know about the events you attend, but when I see a guy standing on the stage with a microphone and a laptop, I figure it's a safe bet that he's the speaker. I don't need a shirt to give me that piece of information. And when he opens his mouth and actually speaks, I know that I nailed it.
So why do I need this shirt? If everyone knows I'm a speaker, and I know it too, then does a logo'd t-shirt really give me any more authority?
Everyone else must feel the same because I never see any of the speakers actually wearing the speaker shirts at the conference. Maybe we're just supposed to feel better because we have them in our backpacks, ready to whip out and flaunt to the crowd.
These shirts are like the bridesmaid dresses of the conference set; they have exactly one use in them and that's over the minute you leave that building. The only advantage of a speaker shirt over a bridesmaid dress for me is that at least t-shirts work for me. I look awful in yellow taffeta; it makes me look fat.
But perhaps I should wear the shirt around the house anyway. Whenever I've being disrespected by my wife, or my kids, or my dog, I'll just point to the shirt and say, "Hey, who's the speaker here? Now listen up." Then again, I already carry a microphone around the place and that hasn't done anything for me yet.
This is the domain of catch-phrases, where a single word or phrase can mean entire paragraphs of gibberish.
It is critical that you, the corporate soldier, begin using these phrases soon, and fold them more and more into your conversations until finally you speak only in buzz. As you grow in experience, you will being to speak both more and less with each utterance.
For the beginning buzzer, it is sufficient to simply use phrases that others use as well. The best phrases would be those that you have heard your management chain use; this indicates to them a perceptive ear, an understanding of their dialect, and a willingness to suck up.
But as you get more comfortable with these speech patterns, including the ability to create entire paragraphs of meaningless jargon and a tone of authority in delivering nonsense, it is time for phase II: making up your own phrases.
The key to buzz phrases is a combination of action verbs and metaphors, which when said with the right emphasis can be applied to any situation. The metaphor need not make sense, nor does it need to actually apply to the situation; the importance is in saying the phrase and having it heard by awestruck co-workers as well as management.
You should make up your own phrases in general, at first by random word association late at night followed by memorization, but eventually on the fly as the situation demands. But here are some for consideration:
Parting shots in saying goodbye to someone:
- Flip it on the up side!
- Catch you before it falls
General wisdom to impart, during random silences in meetings:
- Head it off before it's off with your head
- Fat bristles
- Building pontoon bridges
- Broken solid
- We should fence-post it
- He's on the uptake
- Quicker than jello
- A gambler's winnings
- Green it and clean it!
Compliments (Note: use compliments judiciously. You want to be seen as the hero, so don't pass that piece of cake to someone else. Use them just enough to show what a great leader you are, generally for pathetically small things that can't get that other person promoted):
- Stratospheric thinking!
Now go start buzzing. Remember: on the corporate battlefield, it's not what you know, but what others think you know. and with buzz phrases, it's not what you say, but what they think you're saying.
Catch you on the update.
A: In the pole vault.
Q: Why was the racewalker disqualified?
A: Because her nose was running.
Q: What's a horse's favorite event?
A: The mare-athon.
Q: Why is the track team so talkative?
A: Because they're always discus-ing.
(More olympics jokes found here and over here)
A: Because the best you can ever get is bronze.
Q: Why did they send the Olympic judge out in search of the lost wedding ring?
A: Because he was a medal detector.
Q: Why does the Olympic torch always start in Olympia?
A: Because it's hard to put out a Greece fire.
Q: Why were the Canadian athletes upset?
A: Because everyone kept thinking they were from the US, eh?
Other Olympic jokes from 2008:
- Oh, Limpy Ad!
- More Little Olympic Jokes
- Yet More Olympics Jokes
- Probably the Last Little Olympics Jokes
And from 2012:
- Little Olympics Ditty (sheer poetry)
Of the five golden rings
The Olympic atheletes traveled
All the way to Beijings.
To compete in events of
Great strength and skills
Which are really quite hard if
You avoid popping pills.
The feats are all judged by
The scoring selectors,
Choosing winners like great
Human medal detectors.
The runners are racing
And hurdling with pride
And trying to quickly
Get into their stride.
The gymnasts are awesome
As they jump, swing, and strut.
Although they're quite pretty
They could all kick our butt,
On a different note, pole vaulting's
Sure got some studs
Who are jumping for joy
And then landing with thuds.
The volleyball players
Are all soaked in sweat
Which makes for a slimy
And very gross net.
The basketball players
Running fast, fast, and faster
With hoops and great hollers
They court with disaster.
Baseball's a long game with
Three outings an inning.
The team staying wakeful
The longest is winning.
Diving is one sport
Where winners are all.
Everyone finishes thanks to
Swimming is great
For those who don't choke.
What else could be won
While having a stroke?
Boxing is really
A sport with some clout.
Staying conscious is really
What the fight is a-bout.
But what of the sports
That didn't make the bar?
Would nascar drive us crazy?
Is golf not up to par?
Is kickball off base?
Or dodgeball just missed?
Is Scrabble a bored game?
Or is rapping dis'd?
What about other games
That didn't make the cuts?
Do competitive eaters
Not have the guts?
What of beer softball -
Did that also lose?
Would competitive chugging
Get hisses and booze?
Regardless, each four years
They strive hard and do well
While we watch from our seat.
The harder they try
The more there's to see
So we stay on the couch
As we watch the TV.
But Olympics are more than
Just winning and losing
There's also about us
Watching them and then snoozing.
But maybe someday
We can each be a winner...
Right after the next two
Events and my dinner.
There will be no more birthday parties.
It's that time of year again. The California hills are that beautiful shade of tan that says, "Light me!" So many people are on vacation that the traffic on the highways actually moves during rush hour. And I have so many parties to arrange that I feel like a wedding planner in a polygamist compound.
All of my kids have birthdays within a week of each other. It's not something we planned, it just happened, like sunburn. Or a zit. So every year we spend weeks getting ready for the onslaught of cake, friends, presents, entertainment, and mess that is to come.
It's not that we're big, fancy party people. In fact, we have pretty much escaped the overdone parties that many of our kids' friends have thrown. But any party is a hassle, nonetheless. It makes me pine for the days when 'party' meant a keg standing in a pool of stale beer while music blasted from a stereo loud enough to wake the dead drunk.
Why can't birthday parties be simple? Or, put another way, why can't we avoid parties altogether for our kids? They know they're getting older, we know they're getting older, and all of their friends are getting older right along with them. So why bother with all of the hoopla?
The key, like most things in society, is peer pressure (which is not the same as beer pressure, an essential element in keg parties). Your kid will want a party because they just went to some other kid's party. You feel you have to throw a party because your friend just threw one for their kid. And we all feel like we have to suffer because everyone else suffers.
But meanwhile, we're all aging until we get to a point where, frankly, getting older isn't something we really want to draw attention to. Besides, we're already doing an admirable job of becoming noticeably more decrepit with our graying hair, creaking bones, phlegmy cough, and discussions about bands that have long since OD'd.
When I am King, there will be no more birthday parties. Instead, each child will receive an extra helping of vegetables at the evening meal, and the family will sing something like this song:
Congratulations onSure, it'll be a bit depressing for the kids. But think of how much happier the parents will be, not having to plan something more elaborate. And in being happier, they will provide a better environment for their children, who can keep getting older every year until they finally move out, have their own kids, and start not throwing parties for them in their turn.
One year more and
One year older.
Quickly now the
(Some word here that
rhymes with 'coaches').
I'm not saying we won't have cake anymore. That's the only good part of any party. But instead of having cake once a year, it'll be every day, so as to not draw attention to the birthday. And I get the corner piece with all of the frosting.
Playing kickball will be required for all, for ever.
Someone at work said that we should get a kickball game together, as a team-building event.
Kickball. The very word sticks in my mouth like overcooked squash. It's not even a word anymore, but a series of images and feelings from childhood, most of which look like humiliation, anguish, and a red rubber ball.
For anyone unfamiliar with the game, it's a bit like baseball, but with a different type of ball. Someone that's up at the plate strikes out by failing to kick the ball, and someone in the field disappoints their team by failing to catch it or failing to throw the runner out.
It's usually the first team sport that children play in the U.S., because the requirements are minimal: just the ball and an ability to lose. It is also the first time when we start to divide ourselves into groups that either succeed, get by, or fail utterly. Those in the former group become the team captains, while those in the latter are soon relegated to getting picked last for teams. Day after day on the playground at school, this group watches as the team captains bravely try to pick everyone else before them, finally giving in with an unhappy, "Alright, I'll take Timmy. But you have to take Simon," as Simon wheels his colostomy bag over to the other team's area.
This sets the pattern for the rest of our childhood, as we continue to get picked last for all other sports, activities, and mating rituals.
It is no wonder, then, that we end up as programmers or other geeky professionals, burying ourselves in a field where there are no team captains, no jocks, and no daily pick. In fact, there is little socialization at all, just us communing with our computers because they appreciate us for who we are. Or at least they didn't have a choice of whether we were on their team or not.
Kickball is society's great career chooser; what would happen without that experience to pre-determine our future lives? Of all the tests and classes we took in school, kickball was probably far more influential in helping us with career possibilities and limitations.
But should this arbitrary and cruel selector be left to chance? What happens if a school doesn't have a kickball, or some kids never make it out to recess, or the kids are too busy playing video games to go out to the field? Society would grind to a halt and we would lack the geeks that our kickball tradition has produced.
When I am King, kickball will be a mandatory daily sport from preschool all the way through elementary school. Toddlers will have a red rubber ball as their main toy. Parents will choose their weaker newborns from the delivery room not out of love, but out of a grudging sense of obligation when there is no other option. In every way, our children will enjoy the benefits of this great game and our culture will embody its broken spirit.
Just imagine: the hovering phone would be entirely weightless. And no wait means no lines to buy it.
Also, the new hands-free requirement of many areas while driving wouldn't be an issue if the phone just next to you.
I'm moved to song:
What's the big deal with
The iPhone in 3G?
The one I'm waiting for
Is the upcoming Zero-G.
The phone will be weightless
And with no wait, buying it
Will mean no line.
The new laws that require
Your phone to be hands-free
Would be no problem for
A phone in Zero-G.
MyPhone will be an iPhone
Floating a mile-high phone,
Wafting in the breeze
With Zero Zero Gees.
A skinny and acute one.
And so he met her at the corner,
After a quick and straight run.
But she turned out to be obtuse,
And didn't aim to please.
His love for her was more or less
A matter of degrees.
He turned around, bent out of shape,
And gave up on his whim.
For now it was a fact she was
Not the right angle for him.
Computers will provide much more personal experiences.
It seems to me that we spend our entire lives accumulating memories, but never have a chance to sit back and enjoy them. It's like renting a video every day but never watching or returning it. Or like the kids carefully writing letters to Santa every year, but having them read by no one (Santa's a busy guy, after all).
Meanwhile, we're all too intent on having the experience itself, not the rerun. The job, the family, the vacations, the prison time ... it's like a birthday; all about the present.
So what do we have memories for, anyway? Why rent the movies if you can't figure out how to work the remote?
Some might argue that memories are used to make us wiser, to inform our future decisions based on past actions and consequences. That could be true. After all, it's been at least a couple of years since I stuck my fingers in a live power outlet. And nobody ever drinks too much again after they've had one bad hangover. But it seems that as a society at large that we are continually condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past with respect to the hell of war, ecological damage, and teen idol pop bands.
When I am King, my ministry will focus on making better use of our memory. Since we don't use the memories we store, let's use those neurons for something else instead. For example, a new "thumb drive" will obsolete the current USB devices by making it possible to upload data through our thumbs into some of that vast unused space between our ears. Why bother with all of the complicated memories about interactions with our families when we can more efficiently use that storage for simple JPEG pictures of the kids? Imagine how cool it would be if our friends could simply upload pictures of their kids directly to our brains. No more worrying about what to do with that awkward, posed hardcopy school picture; you can simply delete the digital version immediately instead.
But let's not stop at memory; let's go for the CPU.
Given the amount of crap on television that we're all apparently watching, it's pretty clear that our brains are on idle most of the time. What about putting them to use as a compute engine? As long as we've got our data now stored in our heads, we might as well use the brain as a local processor. Then all we need is some ports for the keyboard and mouse, a receptor for WIFI, and we're our own computer laptop, complete with a lap.
The singing of notes art
They'd like to make more dough
For screaming out Mozart.
It could be that singers
Have toned down their bills
But some folks insist they
Pay less for cheap trills.
While pay is eroding
And salaries melting
It seems that the singers
Should tighten their belting.
Performers come cheaply,
None more so than men are.
Opera rates now cost
Two fives for a tenor.
It's that time of year: there are fresh tomatoes on the vine, the kids are starting to suspect that 'summer camp' is just a euphemism for 'school,' and the ants have moved in.
This happens a couple of times a year, during the wet season and then again when it's hotter than the inside of the popcorn bag in the microwave. I suspect it's when they're waiting for the home repair teams to fix the flood damage or repair their air conditioning, but maybe it's just school breaks and time for a little international travel.
I actually wouldn't mind them in my house. As long as they were dead. But instead, they're very much alive and crawling around everywhere and everything, like a zillion toddlers in a candy shop.
At first, I just put out some ant traps and waited for them to do their job. After several weeks and many more traps, I got a little anxious. Last night, I started a war of attrition, taking out every critter I could see on the bathroom floor. Others would enter the battlefield and go to their fallen comrades, and I could hear the conversations over the mayhem:
"Joe! Little Joe!"
"No, I'm your brother Ernie."
"Right, I knew that. You're hurt!"
"Yeah, I'm hit bad. Go on without me. Tell Ma I -"
"Company retreat! There's a large thumb seen in the -"
"Whoever you are, we're not afraid. Ants will fight. We will keep coming and coming and coming, and eating your shampoo and climbing into your bed and crawling into your nose, and one day -"
Of course I feel bad about killing all of them. No, scratch that - it feels great. Apart from the ooze on my thumb, it's pretty satisfying to strike back at the little buggers. But it's not enough; they just keep pouring in like spam into an inbox.
So I started the next phase of my plan: demoralizing the enemy. I've read that the ants carry off their dead somewhere, to "midden piles." If you create a mess of ant corpses near their trail, you'll notice that the bodies are soon gone.
So instead of leaving the bodies there to be found and carried back for a decent burial, I flushed them down, every last one of them. This should be a devastating blow to the horde, both because they cannot get the bodies back for any kind of ceremony or closure, but also because they don't know what happened to them. I want them to suspect that my house is a virtual Bermuda Triangle, from which ants sometimes never reappear.
Meanwhile, the traps go on, endlessly supplying 'poison,' which I suspect is just 'food.' It's good enough to attract the ants, so that I think it's working and will go buy more of it, but it's not actually doing anything to the creatures other than feeding them. Maybe it's some kind of health-conscious attack, providing meals that are high in sugar so that, eventually, ants will grow obese from this poor diet and need exercise and therapy to lead a normal life.
But I need something more effective than a poor diet, something that will actually kill them instead of just make them feel worse about themselves. I've thought about lacing the traps with Ouzo, as that nearly killed once, but I suspect they'll just leave an awful mess on the floor the next morning and then ask for more.
When I am King, I will institute a new policy for dealing with the ants. Every year, when the swarms gets bad enough and everyone is madly trying to figure out how to get rid of them, we will all go camping for a few weeks in an inter-species version of house-swapping. The ants can enjoy the comforts of our homes and ant-traps for a time while we camp in the outdoors which will be, from all evidence so far, ant-free.
In the meantime, I will also send some ministers to the Ant Council, to negotiate with the enemy. The ministers will be carefully selected from my staff as those with the largest thumbs.
Parents will no longer save their childrens' artwork.
I discovered the true purpose of shredders the other day. Sure, they come in handy in the odd SEC-raiding-Enron situation, and they're passably alright at destroying blackmail correspondence. But their true calling lies with your kids' art projects.
People without kids must imagine that once a year, your child comes home with some heart-felt creation, full of love and personal touches, endearing in its clumsiness, and a truly one-of-a-kind objet-d'art that deserves prominence on the mantel, the stairway wall, or the cubicle divider at work.
But the reality is, of course, much more disturbing. Once a year? Make that once an hour. "Daddy, I made this for you!," says one of the brood, as she hands you something that was probably scribbled with a pencil that happened to be in her toes as she slept, recording its slumberous trajectory on an odd piece of scratch paper near the bed. It looks, after some careful inspection and a couple of 360s trying to get the proper orientation, like a genuine scribble, with only the addition of your child's name at the bottom to distinguish it from some of the pieces hanging in the MOMA.
Now comes the quandary: what to do with it. Of course you'd like to keep it, just like you'd like to keep the other pieces she's handed you in the past hour, or the dozens she's handed you today, or the landfill's-worth she's produced in the last week. But where to put the thing, or where to retrieve it from on the off-chance that someone says, "I want to see that scribble she produced at 10:47 AM on the 5th of July, 2008."
It will go into the trash, of course. There is no more room on your walls, on your ceilings, on your car dashboard, in your iPod RAM, or in the stacks of other past 'projects' sitting boxed in your garage and storage shed. You just can't fit another scribble.
This problem is exacerbated in places like California, where houses typically lack both basements and attics. These local storage areas were both invented out of a need to store kids artwork until they grew up and forgot about it, coming back to haunt them when the children had to help the parents move out of their family home.
But the minute you sneak it into the trash, at the bottom of the bathroom can, beneath the wet remains of a plunger repair attempt gone horribly wrong, that your daughter will somehow wander into that room, pull out that single piece of paper, look you in the eye with the beginnings of tears of tragedy, and say, simply, "Why, Daddy? Why?"
So you thank her for the beautiful art piece and tell her how wonderful it is, as you continue rotating it to look for the correct orientation. You reach behind your chair and flip the button on the shredder, turn around, and carefully feed the paper into the mouth of the beast.
Who says art is dead? It's not dead, but is instead a critical part of the shredding food chain.
Then it suddenly jams, stalling on the gunked up paint that pooled up in the middle of the scribble. You reverse the shredder, then forward again. Jam. Back, and forth, "Rrr-Rrrr! Rrr-Rrrrr! Rrr-Rrrrrrrrr!" You hear a sound behind you and turn around with the picture in your handle, fed half-way into the death machine, as your daughter looks on in horror. "Daddy! I made it for you!" The tears flow, and another day of failing as a father is complete.
When I am King, all children's drawing paper will automatically compost within 24-hours, saving both storage and environmental guilt. Parents will be able to accept and save the cherished pieces, knowing that tomorrow they will be gone. On the off chance that the kids discover that their works are not being hermetically preserved for future generations, explain to them that art, like life, is transient, and that trying to capture a moment in time of a childhood is like trying to hold a butterfly's wing without ripping it off. It is far better for their pieces to become One with the Cosmic Whole. Then pretend you have a phone call and hope they forget.