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Category Archives: Gripes

Rated M for Moron

Violence in video-games  and the effect it has on impressionable young minds, has been a heated topic of conversation ever since the first digital antagonist met his untimely end at the hands of a child.  Starting all the way back when games looked like this:

LowResGame

It has always been a topic of great controversy  There are many people that believe that violent video-games desensitize the player to the violent acts they are committing in the game and, even worse, that these games REWARD them for committing them. They argue that the games distort the player’s ability to determine right from wrong and that they will become more likely to commit violent acts in real life as a result.

I would like to submit that these arguments are complete bullshit.

First of all, let me be very clear about one point straight out of the gates. I have been playing video-games my entire life, a great many of them that would be considered violent, and I can confidently say that violent video-games have not made me into a violent person… although one might argue that video-games in general, have made me into a violent person. There really does not need to be any intentional violence of any kind in the game for it to make my blood boil.

I could be playing a game wherein you control Winnie the Pooh, the goal of the game is to make everyone love you, and you ultimately win by hugging every creature in the Hundred Acre Wood, but if the game is… frustratingly difficult, I will curse like a drunken sailor, with Tourettes Syndrome, who just got their hand stuck in a wood-chipper.

But… and I want you to pay close attention to this part… that doesn’t mean that I am going to track down the game developers, and their families, and beat them to death with a honey-pot.  I cannot lie… I have broken my fair share of inanimate objects in fits of video-game-induced rage.  One time, after a particularly frustrating experience, I smacked my drink off my desk… that may not sound so bad, but unfortunately for me, my drink was in an actual glass which instantly exploded into a hundred razor-sharp shards, a few of which angrily pierced the offending palm that was attacking them.  As fate would have it, immediately after I did this, Karrie (my girlfriend at the time) called me, and I had to rush her off the phone because my cupped hand was rapidly filling with blood while she was talking.

I also, once, punched a monitor with my High School ring on.  It didn’t end well for the monitor… or the ring.

It’s true… these were pretty aggressive acts… but they were not against people, nor was there ever any danger of such.  But… it has also been argued that “immersion” is the key to unlocking your inner rage-monster.  So, apparently, my failure to act violently is because Pooh Bear isn’t realistic enough to make me BELIEVE it’s real.

The implication that game immersion somehow causes a game player to magically absorb a set of values (good or bad) is… well… the kindest words I can come up with are: “fucking retarded”.  The argument here is that, since users are encouraged to commit violent acts with their own hands, in a world that SEEMS real, they will somehow transfer this mechanic into the real world.

Well.. until we construct “The Matrix”, and plug our brains directly into it, arguments over immersion, in my not-so-humble opinion, are moot.  We all know what we are seeing isn’t real, no matter how realistic the graphics look to us.  Our brains pick out differences that, at the time, seem subtle but, in hindsight, aren’t really very subtle at all.  Here, let’s use a single long-lived game series as an example.  Castle Wolfenstein:

Wolfenstein

It’s hard to believe, I know, but with each release these graphics were believed to be AMAZING.  10-years later they look as if they were drawn with crayon, 20-years later it’s like the artist was drawing on a moving bus, and 30-years later it’s like that bus was on a bumpy road.  I have no doubt that the same will be said in 10 years for games that we are looking at today.  Reality is a tough goal to chase, believe me.

Now that I have made my arguments, let me say something that seems to contradict them.

Children should not be allowed to play violent video-games.

That’s right.  Just because I don’t believe there is a connection between violent video-games and actual physical violence doesn’t mean I let my kids play games that are rated for adults.  That would be idiotic.  There is a reason that games have an ESRB rating on them, after all.  And… If you have strong opinions about the effect something has on children, and yet you completely ignore a system that is meant to help you keep that thing out of children’s hands… well, then, yeah… you’re an idiot.

Case in point… In a recent Harris Poll, 58% of parents surveyed believe there is a connection between violent video-games and actual violence.  And, 33% of parents surveyed “let their kids play whatever they want”.  Sure, there is a possibility that there is no overlap in these two stats, but… how much would you like to bet that there is?  In either case, this leads me to my point… Violent video-games are not the problem.  Children that play them are not the problem.  The problem is that…

…most parents are morons.

Yeah, I have said it before, and I will say it again.  The search for the root cause of your children’s problems is over.  Look in the mirror, asshole.  You are responsible for your children and ALL of their actions, not teachers, not movies, not video-games… YOU.  Stop being a whiny bitch and take control.  You have no excuse, I do not care what your situation is, you can always make time to raise your own damn children.

To these parents that want to blame video-games for their own incompetence at raising children, I have a simple message… Keep your damn hands off my video-games. I have a honeypot, and I am not afraid to use it.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Gripes

 

Occupy This!

I know my reaction is a bit late for this one, but I think it’s high time I poured my thoughts out into a blog entry, otherwise my head might explode.

First of all, I sincerely tried to understand and empathize with the protesters. No, really, I did. Then, when I inevitably realized that their cause was retarded, I tried to ignore them. But now, since the media seems intent on continually feeding this mindless creature, I am just getting more and more pissed off.

I do not think I would be considered “well off”, certainly not “rich” and not even in the same galaxy as “the 1%”. So, if you work out the math (go ahead… I’ll wait), the implication here is that I am in “the 99%”. Before I cover the more salient points of my argument, let me bitch about this “we are the 99%” business.

Since I love math so much I want to share the joy of a simple calculation with you. It only requires two numbers too, so it’s easy enough for you to play along at home. First get an estimate of the number of “Occupy Wall Street” protesters; I checked and the latest number hovers around 5K. Next, get the latest Census data on the population of the United States; a quick search puts this at around 307M. Now… part over whole, times 100… (5K/307M)*100 = 0.0016%. So, maybe it should be modified to be “We are the insignificant percentage of loud-mouthed morons”? Yeah, you’re right, that wouldn’t fit on a sign very well.

What’s that you say? I’m a jerk and my calculation is bullshit because there are people “occupying” other cities the world around? Ok, lets multiply that by… what? 100? 1,000? Hell, let’s throw caution to the wind and just make shit up! Let’s say that there are similar protests of the SAME SIZE in 10,000 cities! ((10K*5K)/307M)*100. Congratulations… you are the 16%. Don’t even begin to tell me that, although there are only a small number of actual protesters, they represent us all. They do not. I vehemently resent the suggestion that this group of lazy asshats speaks for all of us “poor victimized people”.

To these so-called 99-percenters, I want to make this absolutely crystal clear: I am not one of you. Please remove me from the “99%” figure you have been throwing around and immediately update all of your marketing materials. You are completely within your rights to say “we are the 98.99999%” if you wish, but you do NOT have permissions to use the small percentage of the population that my corporeal form represents.

NOTE: While I am writing this the woman next to me on the train unceremoniously dumped her enormous bag of shit onto the seat between us, it’s bulk covering all the things I had next to me, breaking the unspoken rule that only 50% of the “buffer” seat is yours to consume. I am considering a protest wherein my fist briefly occupies her lower jaw.

Ok, let’s move onto the protest itself.

I do not like protests or protesters, in general, but I usually tolerate their existance without complaint. What has been fairly consistent about other protests I have seen is that there is a clear PURPOSE for the protest and ALL of the protesters agree on it.

In this case, there is absolutely no organization or leadership for this mob at all. It’s just a bunch of people hanging out in a park whilst whining about the bad hand life has dealt them. You could ask 100 different protesters what the point of their cattle-like occupation is and you would get 110 different answers (I am estimating that you will run into at least a handful of people with multiple personality disorder).

If I had to distill the arguments of the few protesters that have properly functioning neurons into a simple request I think it would be: “We want the rich people to pay their fair share!”. Sounds great. Ok, let’s run with that a bit.

Now, this is the part where I get into some pretty foreign territory for me because I am, by no means, an expert on financial matters. But I am going to try to take the arguments and apply LOGIC and not empirical knowledge of the financial domain. Let’s see how this goes.

Ok let’s say we have a “1-percenter” who is currently taking home (in the current income-tax model) $6.5M in income per year. Now, let’s say that the proposed change results in them taking home $5M instead, meaning that they have effectively lost $1.5M every year. Now, let’s just go out on a limb here and suggest that the REASON this person is a financially successful businessperson is that they are kinda good with that whole money-thing. Do you think that they will:

 

1. Meekly accept this giant loss in their net income

or

2. Do whatever it takes to increase their compensation back to where it was (if not higher) by, ultimately taking it out of the hides of those that work for them.

Let’s just say that I have my doubts that this group of pot-smoking hippies will have any noticeable impact on the lives of the rich. If I were a wealthy company owner and the government actually LISTENED to these idiots, I would start doing things like making my employees pay to get into the bathrooms. Just out of spite.

I have spent my entire parenting career trying to ensure that my children understand that they are NOT ONLY in control of their own fate, but they are RESPONSIBLE for it. I refuse to raise children that have the inflated sense of entitlement that these people have. My children will make mistakes, we all do. And when they do, they will NOT blame others for the hardships that befall them, they will pick themselves up and do what they can to make the situation better. And that will NOT involve sitting in a park smoking pot and playing guitar.

This whole thing is less like a protest and more like a Phish concert at an asylum if you asked me.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Gripes

 

Lyrical Satirical

I am sure by now that you have noticed my unnatural sensitivity to the general use and abuse of the English language. You know that guy who corrects everyone when they say something incorrectly? I correct him. Don’t get me wrong, I freely admit that I am not always correct, it’s just that sometimes I feel like I am the only person who gives a shit about things like the difference between “you’re” and “your”.

NOTE: Incidentally, it’s quite simple folks; “you’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are”, as in “you’re a fucking idiot”, and “your” is the possessive form of “you”, as in “your IQ is too small to calculate”.

So, right or wrong, I will continue to fight the good fight as the Sheriff of Englishtown. And, just in case you thought my jurisdiction only covered written and conversational English, rest assured my friends that it extends well beyond that.

Have you ever listened to songs on the radio and had their lyrics just… rub you the wrong way? Well I sincerely doubt that any songs have bothered you as much as they have bothered me. The problem is that, unlike most people who probably just listen to the music without even trying to hear the words, my brain seems to need to understand the words to every song I hear… even if I hate them.

Most of the time, this is ok. I don’t listen to the radio often but, when I do, I listen to a station that plays “popular” music which tends to follow simple, predictable patterns that lull the brain into a state of catatonia. Every once in a while, however, I hear lyrics that make me question if the person that wrote them speaks English as their primary language (or at all, for that matter).

I think, for me, it started with Alanis Morissette, when she asked her fans “isn’t it ironic?” and for many of the situations, which she presented in her lovely voice, I was forced to respond “No Alanis… no, it’s not”. By my reckoning, “Ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife” doesn’t qualify as irony… it just sucks. If you had asked me “doesn’t it suck?” then I would have readily agreed.

Yeah, I know, 15 years too late on that one.

But, lucky for you, I have some more current material. Here are three more examples of fairly current songs with lyrics that make me yell at the radio…

Let’s start with “Tattoo” by Jordin Sparks:
Jordin:”Don’t look back, got a new direction”

Me: Good for you.
Jordin: “I loved you once, needed protection”
Me: Whoa… sounds like you have an STD problem there.
Jordin: “You’re still a part of everything I do”
Me: Chlamydia will do that.
Jordin: “You’re on my heart just like a tattoo”
Me: Sure, that’s another way to put it.

To me, this is a classic lyrical mistake; Jordin got cornered by the word “direction”, desperately needing a word to rhyme with it, and ultimately choosing the word “protection”. Not a word, I would argue, that is the best choice here. I am sure, for instance that she could easily have worked affection, connection or erection seamlessly into this song without too much trouble.

There are plenty of good rhyming dictionaries online Jordin. Google it.

Oh, and emphasizing the wrong syllable of the word “tattoo” just so that it works for your crappy song makes me want to run you over with a farm tractor.

Up next, “Already Gone” by Kelly Clarkson:

Kelly: “I want you to know, that it doesn’t matter where we take this road, someone’s gotta go.”
Me: Yeah, ok. I vote for you.
Kelly: “And I want you to know, you couldn’t have loved me better. But I want you to move on, so I’m already gone.”
Me: That was fast.
Kelly: “I’m already gone, already gone.”
Me: Ok ok… I got it.
Kelly: “You can’t make it feel right when you know that it’s wrong”
Me: You know, for someone that’s gone, you sure are noisy.
Kelly: “I’m already gone, already gone”
Me: *sigh*
Kelly: “There’s no moving on, so I’m already gone”
Me: How can you be “already gone” if there’s no “moving on”?

It’s like the songwriter has short-term memory loss. First she wants this man to “move on”, which is apparently why she’s “already gone”. And then, 30 seconds later, she claims that there is no “moving on”… which is NOW why she’s “already gone”. Fascinating.

Speaking of memory loss, the final song for today is “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt:

James: “I saw her on the subway, she was with another man”
Me: Bummer
James: “I won’t lose sleep on that, because I’ve got a plan”
Me: Brilliant, let’s hear it!
James: “You’re beautiful…”
Me: Ok, good start, what’s next?
James: “You’re beautiful…”
Me: Um, ok, I think we covered that.
James: “You’re beautiful…”
Me: I’m losing faith in this “plan”.
James: “It’s true…”
Me: Ok, now you’re just fucking with me.
James: “I saw your face in a crowded place… and I don’t know what to do”
Me: What happened to the plan!?

If your plan was to be a whiny bitch, then mission accomplished James! This is a lyrical train-wreck. I cannot even make up a funny reaction to this worthless word-salad other than to say that I am confident that I could write more coherent lyrics while under the influence of a rhino tranquilizer.

You may think I am being extra picky here, but I respectfully disagree. These people get paid an awful lot of money to work with these words, and it’s really ALL they do. I am pretty sure that if all I had to do as a job was to make sure that the words of a small collection of 3-minute songs were not retarded, I would be able to do that without fail.

But, then again, they get paid millions of dollars to croon their atrocious songs to crowds of adoring cretins while I write a blog that only a half-dozen people read… for free.

So, I guess they must be doing something right.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Gripes

 

No Such Luck

My life is pretty damn good, if I must say so myself.

Every day I commute to my job where I get to work with some amazing people, and every night I come home to my wonderful family. Don’t get me wrong, my life is far from perfect but, as lives go, I could do a lot worse. Which is why I have frequently been told that I am a lucky man to which I have typically responded with “Yep” or, when I am feeling particularly chatty, “Indeed I am”.

To many of you, that might appear to be the end of it. I am sure at least some of you are thinking “What the hell is this psycho getting at? All he does in his blog is bitch about stuff… but if his life rocks, then how could he possibly find some way to be angry about it?”

Well rest assured my friends, I am capable acheiving an impressive level of primal rage over the most trivial of things. Once, I was trying to connect a computer to a small network in my house and I could not, for the life of me, get the network card (a 3Com card for those that are interested) to work. When I had finally decided that it was a lost cause, I calmly removed the card from the machine, walked out to my garage, clamped it into a vice and smashed it with a small sledge until it was reduced to sub-atomic particles. So, trust me folks, this is not even remotely challenging.

But back to the point, which is that I am a big fat liar.

The problem, you see, is that I don’t believe in luck. I lie about it because that simple bit of fiction is so much easier to say than the truth, which is that “luck” is just something that morons use to rationalize the losses that are the result of the terrible choices they make in every aspect of their lives, and downplay the gains that are the result of the good choices that others make. I am getting really tired of hearing people talk about “luck” like it’s some mystical force that alters destinies.

Idiot: You sure are a lucky man
Me: No, I am not.
Idiot tilts his head sideways like a confused dog
Me: Luck is just the perceived outcome of applied probability.
Idiot: Wow… those are big words. You sure are lucky you are so smart.
Me (sighing): Indeed, I am.

I work my ass off to be successful in the things that I set out to do. I spend a significant portion of my time agonizing over every detail of a situation before finally making a choice about how best to proceed. This process is not always long, and is seldom visible to the casual observer but, trust me, it’s happening. I don’t choose a place to have lunch without investing a great deal of mental energy on it, so you can probably imagine the internal chaos that is caused by managing the more important portions of my life.

Whenever people hear about some “hard luck” case — someone that has lost their job, spouse, life savings, etc. — they instinctually feel bad for them, as if life had somehow callously wronged these poor undeserving individuals. But if you dig into these cases a little you realize that many of these asshats deserved exactly what they got.

For the examples above I am able to provide some easy-to-follow rules that will help prevent you from losing these things ever again:

As you can see, many catastrophic, life-altering losses can really be completely avoided through the simple expedient of not being a complete fucking moron. I am here to help, no need to thank me (although your lavish compliments and generous cash donations will not be turned away).

So, to sum up, if you have experienced a constant stream of hardships in your life, chances are you are not plagued by “bad luck”; you are probably just an incompetent dipshit which is, unfortunately, a condition that cannot be cured with rabbit’s feet or horseshoes. And when you casually chalk any aspect of my hard-earned life off to “luck” it makes me want to punch you in the larynx until my arm gets tired.

You’re lucky I am lazy.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2010 in Gripes

 

Twitter Blows

On several occasions, I have come close to begging you people to leave me the hell alone, but you just couldn’t let it lie. No… you just had to keep poking me with sticks until I got angry didn’t you? Well, unfortunately for you, despite your best efforts to convert me, the only result of your tireless assault is a sad little blog entry entitled “Twitter Blows”.

I hope you’re happy.

For those of you that have been vacationing on a distant planet for the last five years, let me try to explain Twitter in layman’s terms. Basically, you can follow other Twitter users (henceforth referred to as “tweetards”), and they can follow you. When you post a message (otherwise known as a “tweet”) it is sent out to all your followers, and when someone you are following posts a message, it is sent out to you.

That is it in a nutshell.

This is not a complex concept at its core. In fact, since it’s basically a tool to send SMS messages to groups of people… there’s not a complex bone in its pathetic little body. So, you might venture to ask, what makes such an unassuming little messaging product so deserving of my wrath?

Well, as you probably know, normally I can cheerfully let the morons wallow in their own stupidity (yeah, I know… not really), but I am getting a little tired of hearing about how Twitter not only cures cancer but also gives you minty-fresh breath. I mean, forfucksake people! It’s an interface to SMS, not a “political movement” or a “social revolution”.

I know what you die-hard Twitter freaks are thinking; you’re thinking “Sign up for an account Craig… Just try it… You will be one of us… *drools*”. Well, if I had a nickel for every funky-smelling wild-eyed tweet-junkie that chanted a similarly ill-informed prediction… I would have precisely one nickle because, after the first one, I haven’t let them get past the words “Sign up” before applying a swift but powerful rabbit-punch to the adam’s apple and making a run for it.

But the truth is that I have, in fact, tried it. You see, one of my close friends kept waxing rhapsodic about Twitter and eventually I decided that I should give it a try. So… with great trepidation, I created my account, registered my cell phone, and began following them.

Something important to note here is that, because of its association with SMS, each message is limited to 140 characters. As a result, I really had no intention of posting anything myself because it doesn’t really give you much room for creativity and, as you might have guessed, I have a problem being… concise. In fact, it really only lends itself to the dissemination of simple and painfully mundane details. The first few hours of tweets on my new account looked something like this:

*buzz*
Paco: I installed a new Linux distro
*buzz*
Paco: I hate mornings
*buzz*
Paco: I just installed another Linux distro
*buzz*
Paco: Squirrels are dumb

If, at that point, I simply responded to this last message to inform Paco that I took exception to his uninformed opinion on squirrels, then the result would be a tweet which would go out to every one of my followers without any reference to Paco’s original message unless they too were following him (like hearing one side of a phone conversation). Ironically, this response would not actually go to Paco unless he was following me. In summary, a thoroughly unintuitive departure from the logical way that all other systems of digital communication work. Awesome.

NOTE: Before you tweetards start frothing at the mouth, yes I know that you can respond to people on Twitter, but in ANY OTHER form of digital communication I do not need to re-address a REPLY, so kindly shut the hell up. Thank you.

And, even if its interface made sense, who can tolerate constantly receiving microscopic updates about other peoples lives? And, more importantly, what kind of sick psychopath can justify sending them? I would estimate that roughly 60% of Twitter users out there are shallow, narcissistic, attention whores who really believe that every tiny moment of their pathetic self-absorbed lives is a nugget of pure joy to their followers and who only learned about Twitter because they got a glimpse of it while masturbating to Anderson Cooper’s 360.

All of this is also true for the remaining 40% but in addition, they still wet their beds.

It was only through a herculean display of willpower that I did not delete my account within the first 24 hours. But I found the constant interruptions for useless details more than a little annoying, and so I disabled the SMS feature, which lead me to the same place that I am sure millions of other Twitter users have been; I figured out, to my surprise, that this tool was actually kinda useless for its original intended purpose. It was akin to getting a new hammer only to find out that it doesn’t actually work on nails.

Not daunted by this, however, the Twitter community has shamelessly whored itself out to every possible purpose they could find (breaking news, politics, self promotion, marketing, etc.) in a desperate effort to find some niche to stick to. If you asked the average tweetard, they will tell you that it’s absolutely perfect for every single one of them. If you asked me, it has only proven that it is great at pissing me off.

Let’s examine its use as a source of news…

For a moment, lets ignore the fact that there are a wide array of decades-old technologies that can provide you with more than 140 characters of breaking news from legitimate sources whose sole job is to seek out and report on important global events; sources, mind you, that actually perform a monumentally underrated service known as “fact checking”.

…ok, we’ve ignored it for a moment.

Are you people out of your friggin’ minds? Really? You want to rely on common people to provide you with your news?! Have you met common people!?! They’re idiots! The other day, I saw someone back into a parking spot in the middle of a completely empty parking lot! These people that you are relying on for news? This is their king!

Not convinced? Ok, how about this? As per a study of Twitter that was done by Pear Analytics, in which they randomly sampled tweets and categorized them, the “News” category only made up roughly 3.6% of all tweets. Compare that to the 38% that were categorized as “Conversational” and, even better, the 41% that were categorized as “Useless Babble” and you can see where I am going here. Sure… there may be news in there somewhere, but you have to burrow through a mountain of shit to get to it.

Sample Twitter log:

Good morning!
Who’s up for lunch?
Megan Fox makes me have impure thoughts
A plane just landed in the Hudson
I’m sleepy
Where the hell are my pants?
Peanut butter is yummy

It’s like playing “Where’s Waldo?” with important information. No thanks. I already have plenty of useless, unverified trivia in my life. I suspect that, even though people say they want all this unwashed information, they will ultimately gravitate towards sources they can trust and ignore the rest. Who has the time to sift through it all?

Sadly, however, I am certain that Twitter will survive for a good long time based solely on its media hype and momentum and, one day perhaps, its hardcore zealots will even claw their way to a legitimate non-contrived purpose for it. If that day comes I will reactivate my account and give it another try.

Until then, shut your gaping cake-holes, because I am really not interested.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2010 in Gripes

 

Anti-Social Studies

I think I have finally discovered the nefarious source of my blogging mental block.

I have been happy.

I was being facetious in the post back in July when I said that I had run out of things to hate, but to a certain extent that appears to have been true. I have been walking around blissfully ignoring things that would normally whip me into a frothing rage.

I am not really sure why this was the case, but what I am sure of is that… my happy-go-lucky days are over. For you see, my friends, I have found my ire again. Turns out, it was hiding behind a Social Studies teacher.

I’d like to think that I’m generally a “live and let live” kinda guy and that, if you want to make idiotic choices like, for example, buying an Apple product, that is your prerogative and I will not judge you (to your face) for it.

I’d like to think that.

I’d also like to think that I can fly without the aid of wings, and make bacon magically appear with only a thought. But seeing as that is not the case, lets get real… in my blogging role, the world is reduced to black and white, right and wrong, me and everyone else. Get the picture?

So, yes, I will judge you and I will find you wanting. You cannot avoid it, so don’t try.

OK, enough with the preamble, and onto the topic of the entry…

Social Studies

The problem, in a nutshell, is this… my son has been spending an awful lot of time on homework this year. That, in and of itself, is not an issue. What has me in a huff is the fact that most of this homework is for Social Studies.

Lets not beat around the bush here, I’m just going to lay it out for you plain as can be. Social Studies, in my humble opinion, is about as useless as can possibly be. Have you ever heard anyone say “That is one of the best schools! Their Social Studies program is top-notch!”? I sincerely doubt it, and that is because… Social Studies is almost completely worthless.

There are four major disciplines in schools today: Math, Science, English and Social Studies. Now, let’s examine each discipline based upon its value to our children:

Math: This is the foundation for everything in the universe and is, without question, the most important subject in any school. Anyone that disagrees with this is a moron that probably plays Lotto.

Related jobs: Engineer, Actuary, CFO

Science: A close second to Math. Learning Science is not about learning the details; it’s about learning how to think. Something that is, sadly, in short supply.

Related jobs: Doctor, Research Scientist, Inventor

English: Spend five minutes speaking with an average child and that will make my argument for me here. If we let English education lapse any more our children will be communicating purely through clicks and grunts.

Related jobs: Author, Screenwriter, Poet.

And finally…

Social Studies: I don’t even know where to begin… We teach “Social Studies” which is, in fact, “History” to our children for far too many years. At some point, this subject simply becomes “Writing”, and any concrete skills that it provides should really be provided in an English class. Social Studies is basically the long-form regurgitation of useless facts.

Related jobs: Pizza Delivery Agent, French-Fry Chef, Social Studies Teacher.

Naturally, I have made my feelings known to any who would listen (and several who would rather not), and a few of these fine folks pointed out that they actually like Social Studies.

How lovely.

I like playing computer games; why isn’t that a major subject in school? Oh, that’s right… because nobody gives a shit what you like! This isn’t about what our children like, it’s about how to prepare our children for their future. My child will not get a better job because they did well in Social Studies unless they are destined for a career writing questions for Trivial Pursuit.

Oh, yeah… and let me address the worn-out defense of dusty old Social Studies professors the world around who constantly misquote George Santayana, who said:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

I can understand what George is saying and respectfully disagree. But the people who quote him use this as a shield to deflect any suggestion that the study of History is not the most important subject in the world. The problem I have here is that they are assuming that this quote means:

Those that remember the past are not condemned to repeat it

The number of examples that prove this to be a failed premise are so abundant that I don’t even need to list them. Just pick up a paper. History is repeated in every conflict over a patch of land or a religious view, and there are no shortage of those. Are you seriously going to argue that all these conflicts could have been avoided if only our world leaders had more education in History?

World Leader: They have oil. We want it. Let’s invade.
Advisor: Sir? That’s been done before.
World Leader: Really? Damn… ok, scrap that plan then. Let’s invade Canada instead, just for giggles.

I would like to amend George’s quote a bit to update it for the present:

Those who rely on history to decide their own future instead of thinking for themselves are condemned to be pretentious fact-spouting airbags who everyone hates and who will ultimately die alone unless you consider their cat.

Please go write a book that nobody will read and stop crapping on our children’s education.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2009 in Gripes

 

How dumb are we?

I am no financial expert; I have never even balanced a checkbook, so, I’ll keep this short.

But I just have to say something about this whole “bailout” mess that we are in right now.

Specifically, I want to react to something I recently read on CNN.com.

In this article, the Chairman of AIG (a company that got $170 billion in bailout money) said the following about the payment of huge bonuses using that money (OUR money):

“There are serious legal, as well as business consequences for not paying.”

Are you fucking kidding me!?

Of course there are going to be legal and business consequences!  When you destroy a company, there are supposed to be consequences!  But, since you ran your company into the ground, don’t you think you should suffer them?  This money wasn’t given to you so that you could conduct “business as usual”!  Nor was it given to you so that you could make a couple more payments on your spare maserati, ya’ dumb fucks!

Seriously… who had the bright idea to give hundreds of billions of dollars to people who appear to spend money like drunken sailors?  Without any consideration for what they actually spend it on?  Isn’t that like “bailing out” a person who is addicted to gambling by giving them money while they are still in the same Casino they just lost their life savings in?  “Now, I’m trusting that you won’t spend this here… even though I am paying you in chips.”

It doesn’t take a degree in economics to figure out what the outcome of that would be.

As for the suggestion that you need to pay these bonuses otherwise you will lose talented people to other companies?  Really?  You’re serious?  Read a paper lately?  We’re all fairly screwed here.  Where exactly do you think they are going to go?

You people are really amazing.

We were incredibly stupid to give you more money to burn.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2009 in Gripes

 

Au Nauturale

When you’ve written a blog entry dedicated to your aberrant love of bacon, people tend to discount your opinions about things that are all-natural.  I suppose I cannot blame them.  I mean, I am not exactly what you’d call a health nut, after all.  But, there is no question about it… most UN-natural foods taste much better than their all-natural counterparts.

I attribute this phenomenon to the fact that un-natural foods embrace the addition of “flavors” to make them tasty, and “preservatives” to keep them tasty.  Whereas most all-natural foods are “pure” and “unmolested”, which means that they will rapidly degrade until they taste, look, feel and smell like the contents of a fully-loaded diaper.

NOTE: They probably sound like it too and, although I don’t have any empirical evidence to prove it, I imagine it sounding like: *pbth*

A favorite of all-natural acolytes the world around is a substance called granola, which is a mixture of rolled oats, nuts and dried fruit that looks like a forest creature’s wet dream.  Whenever I see a human being choking it down, and forcing themselves to look like they are actually enjoying it, it makes me sad.  Because, lets face it folks, anyone that thinks granola doesn’t have the flavor and consistency of driveway gravel is seriously delusional.

GranolaGravel

But this is not about flavor; if you want to subsist on food that tastes like garden mulch, that’s your prerogative.  No, this is not about flavor at all.  This is about something much more important.  This is about Defending the Human Race! 

Allow me to explain…

Natural, as per my dictionary of choice (www.dictionary.com), means:

“Existing in, or formed by nature”

That makes sense..  and nature is defined as:

“The elements of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers”

That sounds like the nature I know and love!  So, animals are part of nature and anything created by them is natural.  Awesome.  So far, that makes perfect sense.

Keep in mind that humans are animals too, just like… say… a beaver (although larger, and with smaller incisors).  And, when a beaver painstakingly constructs his dam… that’s natural; we don’t say that it’s beaver-made, right?

Ok… hold that thought… because here’s where the English language, once again, takes an interesting turn.  The SAME dictionary also defines nature as:

“The natural world as it exists without human beings or civilization

Wait… so, humans are no longer part of the natural order of the Earth?

I must have missed the memo.

At what point did we decide that everything that humans touch is an abomination to the natural world?  Seriously… who decides these things?  Is there some elusive society of human-hating humans that plots for their own demise?  Some secret grand council of nature-loving granola-eaters?  The Treeluminati?

Somewhere, deep in a cave at an uknown location, the leaders of the Treeluminati meet to review their diabolical plans…

Cypress: How is our diabolical plan to exterminate all humans going?

Sequoia: Quite well, actually.  Just last week, we were able to convince the dictionary makers that humans aren’t actually part of nature.

Willow: At this rate, within 10 years humans will be so disgusted with their own existence that they will willingly hurl themselves into the vacuum of space.

Cypress: Excellent!  That’s years ahead of schedule!  Good work!

Pleased with their progress, they all pile into their hybrid cars and make the long drive back to their solar-powered homes to watch Dancing with the Stars which is likely sponsored by Exxon.

You never know… they might exist!

And, it’s not just the loose definition of the word “nature” that bothers me.  I also resent the implication that just because something is natural that it is good for you.  Because I can confidently tell you that, while hemlock is perfectly natural, you will find it dramatically unpleasant to ingest (Just ask Socrates!).

So, if you want to eat food that is good for you, I suggest to read an ingredients label every once in a while, because, I can tell you that all-natural doesn’t always mean what you think it does.  Don’t trust the promises of marketing departments.

But above all else, please stop trying to convince me to eat any of that slop.  I’ll stick with my high-fructose corn syrup and sodium benzoate, thank you very much.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2009 in Gripes

 

Cell’f-Centered

I keep a list entitled “Things that annoy me”, that I sometimes use as fuel for blog entries.  As I discover new things that piss me off, which I do with alarming frequency, I add to this list.  Keep in mind, I usually add to it when I am actively being aggravated by something, so the entries are not always useful, but they are almost always profane.  Entries can be as specific as: “Those fucking plastic covers on CD cases” or as general as: “People”.

Occasionally, however, when I review this list I see something worthwhile; a wee little nugget of information that fans the flames of my blogging furnace.  In my latest list review I discovered a small pattern relating to cell phones and the people that use them.  Apparently, just about anything you can do with a cell phone annoys the hell out of me.  This is supported even further by the fact that whenever I see someone walking around, talking on a cell phone, I feel like donkey-kicking them into oncoming traffic.

At first blush, you might think I am an anomaly… a nerd who hates cell phones.  But, I don’t think that’s really the case here.  I, personally love my BlackBerry more than Oxygen, and wish to be buried with it;  I am almost certain that I spend more time with it than I do with my kids.  No… if you read each of my gripes below, I guess it’d be more accurate to say that I hate people who use cell phones.

For instance…

First on my list are people who use “hands free” kits with their cell phones, but hold the microphone to their mouths.  If it is not instantly and abundantly obvious to you why this is mind-numbingly stupid, then I have no respect for you, but I grudgingly forgive you.  If, however, you are actually one of these people, then I do not forgive you; you are unforgivably stupid.

Similarly, there are the people who keep moving the cell phone away from their ear and closer to the mouth when they speak, then moving it back to their ear to listen.  Somewhere, in their tiny little lizard brains, they believe that they are making their voice sound clearer. When, in fact, since the microphone is designed to be a certain distance away from their mouths, it is probably overloaded and they sound more like a cement mixer filled with broken glass.

Next up on the docket are people that leave their Bluetooth headsets in their ear all the time.  I am not quite certain what the thinking is here.  I guess they think this is the best way to be able to very quickly pick up their cell phone when it rings.  As if there is a prize for answering calls in less rings than everyone else, or a punishment if they do not…

*ring*… *ring*… *ring*…

Cecil: Hello, this is Cecil P. Douchemeyer the third, how can I help you?

Bob: Cecil?  This is Bob, your boss.  It took you three rings to answer the phone.  I’m giving the Peterson account to Johnson.

Some of them, I am sure, think that they look totally cool.  They believe their headset puts them on the bleeding edge of technology, into the upper echelon of the technically elite.  When, in fact, they really just look like utter tools.  I suppose when bluetooth headsets were new, like a decade ago, it might have been some sort of status symbol, but now that they sell them in grocery stores, I think the shine has worn off a bit.

BlueTooth

I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I think about the destructive radio waves that are constantly bombarding their sad little brains.

Last, but certainly not least, if you have read any of my other blog entries you know that I ride the Long Island Rail Road into, and eventually out of, work every day.  Those of you that are familiar with the LIRR probably think I am going to say that I hate people that talk loudly on cell phones while they are on the train.  Since they (the LIRR, not the annoying people) even have an ad campaign dedicated to that very problem, you’d probably be willing to bet your jobs on it.  Well, pack your shit in a box, because that’s not it!  What annoys me is… when people talk loudly… period.  The cell phone really doesn’t enter into it; frankly, neither does the train.

On one occasion, I actually had to endure 45 minutes of loud conversation about American Idol that was so insipid that I would jump at the opportunity to use a mellon-baller to remove the brain-matter that contains the memory.  They were arguing over the merits of each contestant with the same passion that sane people would argue about presidential candidates.  I entered that arduous 45 minutes hating American Idol, but I left it with a burning desire to beat and urinate on anyone that even mentions the show.

And there was not a cell phone in sight!

So, you may be wondering what this has to do with my blog entry.  What gets my goat here, is the ad campaign itself!  The LIRR wastes a ton of energy targeting people that talk loudly on cell phones, and yet they seem to condone being a loud-mouthed idiot!?  Where is the justice in that?

No matter what you say, my occasional whispered cell phone conversations about work are not more annoying than your long and detailed conversation with your friend about your recent colonoscopy.

On my planet, the railroad campaigns would be slightly different…

“Attention Long Island Rail Road passengers.  Thank you for being part of our ‘Smart Train’ campaign.  If you have the I.Q. of spackling compound please exit the train now; don’t wait for it to stop.  Thank you.”

Hahaha… Oh, the ride into work would be so much more pleasant with only the occasional muffled *splat* to interrupt an otherwise blissfully silent journey.

If only…

So, in conclusion, as with most technology, I’d be perfectly content with it if we could just get rid of the retarded users.

Educate, or eradicate… whichever.

Let’s work on that, ok?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2009 in Gripes

 

The Speed of Stupid

I’m back to picking on education.

Today’s topic is Science.

This is something I am particularly picky about, since my wife Karrie, aside from being lovely, is also a science nerd of epic proportions; she has a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s in Physics.  Because of this, it is not uncommon for our dinner-time conversation to turn to “the problems of time travel”, and we have had heated arguments over “terminal velocity”.

So, you’ll have to excuse me if you think I am being a bit harsh here.

In my life, I have met a frightening number of people that firmly believe that Science is a complete waste of their time.  Of course, these same people likely believe that the sun is dragged across the sky in a flaming chariot, so perhaps I shouldn’t let them bother me so much.  For simplicity’s sake, I will refer to these people as “idiots”.

I mean… seriously… Science?  A waste of time?  Have these people never seen MacGyver?

My concern, however, is not for them.  Not directly, at least.  My primary problem with these people is that they are allowed to breed.  They are allowed to bring a new life into this world, fill it up to the brim with “stupid” and set it free.  Don’t get me wrong here.  My kids are going to need some people to pump their gas, and clean their homes, just not that many of them.

But I am getting off topic again.  Back to Science…

The MTA frequently provides me with wonderful examples of the appalling state of education in America today.  And for science, it doesn’t disappoint.

I was sitting there on the train, likely playing a game on my laptop, when I overheard a man describing to his friends how a “Mosquito Magnet” works.

What struck me about this man was the supreme confidence with which he spoke.  He spoke as if he had not only invented the “Mosquito Magnet”, but that he personally built each one by hand to ensure that they adhered to his high quality standards.

The gaggle of commuters that surrounded him was enraptured.  This guy must have been in sales; he could have told them almost anything, and they would have believed him.  I’ll be honest here.  I really only had an inkling of how these devices work, but it took me about 30-seconds to find a website that explained it in detail.  To make a long story short, I think the only thing he got right was the name.

Maybe this guy doesn’t deserve my ire.  I mean, sure, he is as dumb as the day is long, but boy do I wish I was as good at making shit up and saying it with such confidence…

Commuter: So, you’re saying that my car can run on Mayonnaise?

Me: That’s right.  And the only byproduct is bubbles, which come right out of your muffler to the delight of the neighborhood children.

Commuter: I’m stopping at Costco on the way home!

Of course they’d learn, soon enough, that I was wrong.  But not before I’d had my fun…

Me: You used Hellmann’s?  You idiot!

Commuter: But… you said…

Me: Everyone knows that Miracle Whip is what cars run on!

Alas, our friend from the train is not alone.  No, he’s just one of many science-challenged people, all of whom believe they are not.  You can find clues of cluelessness everywhere.  Let’s take, for instance, some lyrics from a popular song by Sheryl Crow:

“And every time you hear the rolling thunder
You turn and run before the lightning strikes”

If you don’t know why I have a problem with these lyrics, please stop reading now.  Go, find your High School Physics teacher.  Tell them you are sorry.

For those of you that are left…

Perhaps you think that I am going to point out the obvious; that lightning comes before thunder.  Or, maybe you expect me to eviscerate Sheryl Crow for making such a blunder.  Wrong on both points.  Instead, I am going to focus on her fans.

For, you see, I am not the first person to notice this chronological conundrum.  A little Googling will bring you to sites where at least one of her fans defends her lyrics by saying that “Rolling Thunder” is different than “Thunder”.

I see.

So… when thunder “rolls”, it somehow makes sound faster than light?

It’s all so clear now.

Another fan confidently informs everyone that “thunder always comes before lightning”.  He enforces his argument further by adding “it’s a fact”.

Wow… just… wow.

While the first fans only took a sip from the stupid well. This guy drank deeply from it, took a bath in it, and then bottled some to take home.  I really hope it was actually a smart fan who was just kidding.

Let’s just put this one to bed, shall we?  Light is faster than sound, even if you “roll” it.  I forgive Sheryl Crow for not knowing, or even caring, about this.  If she wanted to, she could probably pay someone enough money to change the world to match her lyrics.

But, those that try to defend her by disregarding a few laws of physics, are idiots.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2008 in Gripes