Hubris

‘This should be the cardinal rule of the Internet (and of being Human). If you don’t have the patience to read something, don’t have the hubris to comment on it’ – Maria Popova

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Is it just me, or is it getting warmer? – Icarus, famous last words.

MJ. I really love the quote attributed to Maria Popova. I wish I could say I have always lived by this rule. But I’d be lying. I’m about as impatient as they come… and often feel I know better. Ha ha.

I’m trying to get better at this. Or at least make the moral superiority I often inflict on people more subtle and formless. Which is (really) hard. Joey is much more blunt force trauma than a scalpel wetwork finesse.

In any event, know that if I liked your stuff I actually took the time to read it.

…and never the twain shall meet

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It’s not exactly Kipling… but this blog is likely a little low brow for..

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
Fuck ’em up son. Wu for life. 

Wait a second did you just splice ‘Ol Dirty Bastard into Rudyard Kipling ?

I did. And I am not ashamed. Okay, maybe a little ashamed.

Like 1%.

 

The Jelly Bean test(tm)

I’ve been thinking about interview questions lately. (having recently had to interview people again)

Joey – ‘So tell me about your weaknesses as you see them?’

Potential job candidate- ‘My only real weakness is that I work too hard’

Insert care too much, am too much of a perfectionist, hardly ever take vacation time

Joey – *smiles* (on the outside) *dying slowly* (on the inside) while scribbling furiously on his note pad…

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Interviews are a rehearsed exercise, a choreographed charade and in my opinion a flagrant waste of time and oxygen. What do the answers really tell you? Besides that someone is just going through the (peristaltic) motions of seeking employment. Which I suppose is… something. Still… I would like to posit an alternative…

Enter the Mighty Jo Jelly Bean test (all rights reserved, all wrongs reserved, all green wobbly things sent back)

Step 1. Empty a big box of Jelly Belly jelly beans into a bowl on the boardroom table.

Step 2. See what happens.

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I think you can learn a lot about a person by watching them eat Jelly beans. (certainly more than asking them where they see themselves in five years time)

  1. If you stare at each other uncomfortably for several minutes with no one making a move… they either lack initiative… or don’t like Jelly Beans. In either case do you really want someone like this working for you? Eliminate!
  2. They smile. And then pick out… and eat all the Blue Berry flavored beans. Clearly this person is a racist. Eliminate!
  3. Picks out all the Sizzling Cinnamon. And eats them!!! *you suck air through your teeth and mumble ‘Jeez’ under your breath* Eliminate!
  4. Picks out all the Buttered Popcorn and Toasted Marshmallow. While you can commend their palate…  those are the Jelly beans you wanted. Eliminate!
  5. Asks what flavor you like… and then doesn’t eat those. We may be able to work together
  6. Stuffs several flavors into his mouth at once. OMG! Eliminate! Eliminate! 
  7. Picks up the bowl and pours the entire contents into his mouth. Ballsy. (I feel comfortable using the determiner here, because a female wouldn’t do this) We may be able to work together
  8. Empties the bowl on the table and then reorganizes the Jelly beans by color/flavor/ranking. We may be able to work together
  9. Is a guy, but seems to favor Strawberry Daiquiri. Eliminate! 
  10. Out themselves as a Potterhead by referencing Bertie Bott’s every flavored beans and then lamenting that there isn’t a booger flavored bean. This could go either way 

And while the Mighty Jo Jelly Bean test is not foolproof and is, eh… on the whole quite subjective, I still feel this is a effective way to root out unsuitable candidates in an efficient and timely manner. Also you get to expense Jelly Beans under recruitment costs. BONUS.

Life is cheap.

Arithmetically, this does make sense to me…

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I’d like to say that suspected murderers aren’t really released on bail of $34 in South Africa. But it does happen.

Still… I’d probably caution against murdering tv-license inspectors. The opportunity cost of sitting in a holding cell with several Ne’er-do-wells that will inevitably… eh… test the structural integrity of your sphincter, while your bail hearing is continually postponed for a month seems steep. From what I understand they don’t even buy you dinner first…

Lists…

I have a very good sense of my strengths and weaknesses. Mostly because I have very few strengths and lots of weaknesses (basically everything else). My wife took the day off work yesterday to come help me interview people for a job vacancy at my company.

I am quite bad at interviews.

Jo: ‘So how to you feel about sushi?’

Potential job applicant: ‘Are you kidding? I love sushi!’

Jo: ‘You’re hired!’  *starts dancing*

Whereas my wife is quite scary (I’ve realised). She takes notes and asks these really tough (work related) questions. I’m impressed I remembered to wear shoes.

I try and chime in every now and then to make it seem like I have something valuable to add. But really, I know this is what George W. Bush felt like when he was reading that children’s book and the secret service agent came and whispered in his ear… and he’s sitting there wondering what he should do now… but also thinking about a ham sandwich.

Afterwards we sit at my desk. I color in with my crayons and she tries to help me with some of my nightmarish accounting issues I’ve recently inherited.

She makes me a list of things I need to do. She’s learned by now that if she doesn’t write things down for me… the mission is over before it begins. Thats not a guarantee that I won’t loose the list… or…

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… completely misinterpret whats written on the list. But theres a chance.

Yeah, I have no idea why she married me either.

Introverts unite. Preferably by group-chat.

I am most likely an introvert. Which means I’m usually mistaken for a misanthrope, curmudgeon or largely misunderstood as having some sort of psychological or learning disorder (especially by extroverts). I find social engagements incredibly taxing. Small talk and being touched by people I don’t necessarily know or like is pure anathema. Like superman getting a kryptonite enema. A family reunion where that weird aunt or cousin (you haven’t seen in years) wants to hug and kiss you is literally  hell for me.

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But even phone calls are sometimes… a serious undertaking… that I would rather avoid (if at all possible). I found this comic perfectly encapsulates that. Ha ha. Maybe you can empathise. If you’re thinking, ‘Jesus, its just a phone call, get over it’, this post is not for you. I envy you a little bit.

Spitters are quitters.

I need to pee. Which, as opening lines go, probably won’t be counted among the greatest of all time. I was going to go with ‘Call me Ishmael…’, but apparently thats been taken.

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… and while not a white whale of mythical proportions and foul temperament… It is a whale* snapped mid breach, with an iPhone, while a little inebriated. Which has to count for something (in my opinion).

*Southern Right Whale

In any event. I was just about to launch into a self-involved tirade about my day… heap some scorn upon those who vexed me… maybe break out some self pity, while seeming just sad (but not pathetic) enough to evoke some concerned comments…. you know normal blog stuff.

But now my bladder has laid waste to all these machinations and I am forced to tack against the wind. I use a sailing metaphor. And likely use it incorrectly. But since we are channelling Captain Ahab … and since this is my blog… I can decide to use an obtuse nonsensical analogy, as is my right, as granted to me by Matt Mullenweg and the power of Greyskull. Slash WordPress.

*Joey bounces off to go use the facilities*

Is it satire or sarcasm that’s the lowest form of wit? I can’t remember…

I’m guessing sarcasm, but don’t they broadly mean the same thing? I feel I should probably know this. I have huge gaps in my tuition. (Most likely caused by brain damage)

My eighth grade English teacher, a diminutive (but violent) nun called Sister Mary-Joseph, used to punch me because I couldn’t identify clauses in a sentence… or the conjunction that joined them (still can’t). Likely a motivational technique that would be frowned upon in modern climes.

Under duress I would randomly point to non specific part of the sentence in the hope that I had guessed correctly and that I could sit back down. Unfortunately for me Sister Mary-Joseph recognized my duplicity and negatively reinforced me accordingly (with her fists).

This is my clergy abuse story. Fortunately I didn’t have go down on anyone…  or shallow a warm, viscous load of the ‘Holy Spirit’. So pretty mild really.

For the most part I think I turned out okay…

*someone in the peanut gallery starts laughing*

Except for knowing anything technical about the English language I mean.

Marketing 101

Marketing is the process by which a state of felt deprivation of some basic satisfaction is communicated to you… and then something is offered to you to correct that perceived deficiency.

For example…

I had NO IDEA gluten free parking even existed. But now that I know… CLEARLY this is something that I need.

But now that I know… What if they run out of gluten free parking bays? I think I’m starting to develop some anxiety about all of this. Will I just be able to switch back to regular? Is that even legal? I’m starting to think this sort of thing should probably be mandated by the state. And maybe a professional body should be set up, for monitoring and control purposes. There are a lot of shysters out there (look at me getting my yiddish on) and we need to safeguard our society against these unscrupulous operators.

Anyway, I think the important take away here is that education is KEY.

Good luck out there. Stay frosty!!

Outsourced!

And you dare mock Capitalism…

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This frees up a lot of my time. Its been great! I haven’t decided whether I want to upgrade to the full self-loathing package yet. Apparently for an extra $1 he’ll run himself into a brick wall.

On the one hand I feel a little bad for him. On the other, he’s earning money which he can use to support his venerable parents and twelve siblings. I do however feel morally obligated to try and balance his capacity to sustain brain damage at my behest with his own hard currency requirements. (I don’t think he’s educated enough to understand what he’s doing is bad for him)

In any event. I totally recommend this new feature. Also the app is great. Very user friendly.

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Purveyors of domesticated male bovine excrement

I have a love/hate relationship with twitter. I find it quite alluring in so far as it allows you access to the people you like… but I also find it all very Orwellean. Only George called it Newspeak.

‘Newspeak is a controlled language, of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, a linguistic design meant to limit the freedom of thought’.

But obviously I have bias, my medium of choice being the more ‘long-form’ rant. Ie The blog. Which in of itself has its flaws (and also likely dates me). But then no medium is ever perfect.

Sometimes when I’m bored I like to search for people that I like. Which is often a mistake. You know that old chestnut; you should never meet your heroes. Well…You should DEFINITELY never follow your heroes on twitter. Their largely mundane, inane thoughts stripped bare, just left there to rot, like some bloated marine mammal… stop taking selfies and roll it back into the sea already. It’s grim. And often, a little sad. The ubermensch you admire is just a mensch. Twitter kicks Nietzsche in the groin. Nietzsche grits his teeth and mumbles something about ‘what doesn’t kill you…’. Twitter kicks him again. Nietzsche goes down. And stays down.

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Still sometimes I do it anyway. Go onto twitter I mean. It usually starts to go sideways for me with their bio. *Joey rolls his eyes* Bio’s are often hilarious. But not because they’re funny. People either take themselves super seriously. Or attempt wit. It rarely works out that way. Personally I attempted wit… which is not really my forte…. but the alternative is egoism… or leave it blank. The latter seems quite anti-establishment.

Then there is the content. If anything social media has taught me that…

Apparently the internet is not all pornography.

But when you subtract the writhing naked humans out, all you have left seems to be the aggrandizement of self, bellicose jingoism, name-calling, carnival barking and hustlers. And… of the social media titans, twitter feels like the most concentrated tincture of all this. At least the pornographers are out there creating actual content.

I, of course, have been party to all of this. I don’t pretend to judge myself any less harshly for my complicity. Despite my all my reservations I have in the past been mean and combative for no reason.  I have gotten into ‘robust’ conversations with people who domicile under bridges, perhaps even venturing under an overpass myself now and then. I have ascribed ‘likes’ to things that would likely make me suck air through my teeth if reviewed now. I wish I could take it all back. But I can’t.

The internet doesn’t change you, rather it likely reveals who you really are. Which is quite frightening sometimes. Despite the veneer we like to portray to the world, underneath its often a rotting substrate barely holding everything together.

Sometimes I find it all very dystopian.

I’ve have however realized that this medium seems to be the ONLY way to communicate with content creators whose work you like. You can send them an email, but chances, they will never get back to you. Some do write back and kudos to them. But for the most part your admiration just gets lumped together in a folder with spam and hate mail and eventually deleted.

This however leads to another problematic area for me; the compliment retweet. Someone says something nice about you and you immediately flaunt it to the world as some sort of achievement. #dopamine. Basically you’re high fiving yourself.  Authors are especially prone to needing this sort of affirmation it seems, especially newly minted authors. Established old hands don’t give a fuck. Whatever happened to graciously accepting a tribute? Or does everything piece of bric-a-brac tossed your way have to be displayed on your mantle-piece? Maybe just the most nauseatingly toadying ones?

I think the biggest issue I have though is the time it takes to manage all this hubris and shift through pages and pages of asinine drivel in search of something to make the economy of effort seem worthwhile. I’m not sure how people justify this?

In any event on my deathbed I will undoubtedly be grateful for all the time I spent languishing on social media. Seems unlikely. But maybe I should just follow better people?

Government gofundme

I’m not sure I feel one way or the other about Steven Crowder. If coerced, I would venture that he’s likely too belligerent for me. But that’s the space he’s chosen to occupy in his ideological war. I find a lot of conservative commentators very intense and combative… and their message (which might be very reasonable) gets lost because they’ve been preaching to the choir for so long they’ve forgotten moderates are sensitive to pitch and super weary of the ‘crazy-eyes’. If you come across as particularly unyielding or rabid, you risk pushing people back the other way or in the very least remaining steadfast in their support for the status-quo, which is a pity because there are some really good ideas in… well everything that opposes socialism and neo-Marxism. Its mainly for this reason, ie because the left seems so utterly unhinged at the moment, that people are looking across the divide for something a little more reasoned and logical. Be the exemplar. Not the crass, boor that trades insults on twitter. (that is not aimed at anyone in particular) Stay on topic, be polite. You’ll do better. I believe in swings and round abouts. Politics is cyclical and I don’t think the left will stay insane forever. Eventually they’ll start sounding more reasonable again and be more inclined to disavow their fanatical fringes… just like the right (eh… now… mostly) disavows its kooky, crazy fringe. Make hay while the sun shines and use this opportunity to market some of the better stuff.

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Anyways, I mention Steven Crowder because I saw this. Which I really love. I’m not sure if this a meme though (it might be). In any event it appeals to my libertarian tendencies. Libertianism occupies a position right of center because of its abhorrence of taxes and big government. In other words everything socialism needs to survive. It also has, unfortunately, very few true adherents, because it is so very different from the current model used by ‘western’ civilization and is argued fiercely as an academic exercise at best. People tend not be able to imagine a world where libraries and roads are not funded by some sort of centralized omnipotent source that controls allocation. Which surely is quite an indictment of humanity? Surely our greatest achievement is our ability to cooperate among ourselves to achieve things greater than any one person could? Maybe I am just insanely naive? We seem content to foist the responsibility of resource management onto a ruling class of politicians and bureaucrats who treat our money as something to be used frivolously and as inefficiently as possible.

In any event this post is not about that (before Joey disappears down the rabbit hole reappears later this afternoon with a slightly frazzled look and a ten thousand word tirade)

Imagine trying to Gofundme a war. Or any foreign policy interventionist stuff really. I wonder how that would work out? It would have to be a very ‘righteous’ war, none of this vague WMD stuff. Maybe initially, with some good PR work you could get it off the ground. But people are fickle, especially when they don’t see results. Six trillion dollars later (WAY more in real terms than the Marshal plan spent to rebuild Europe) there seems to be a serious disconnect between cost and benefit. Maybe that’s just me…

This is what amuses me today. So thank you Steven Crowder. Even if I do find you a little suspicious 🙂

Ain’t that the truth…

This comic should be mandatory reading for every dipshit giving life advice on twitter.

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Survivorship bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. It is a form of selection bias.

 

Inspection…

Yeah I think I’ve found your problem right here… It’s a basshole.

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Two year olds are awesome. I’d love to be that inquisitive again.

If the feeling takes you that you should like to inspect the basset hounds… eh… rusty sheriffs badge, you should likely do so.

My first reaction, sitting nearby on the lip of the sandpit, was ‘no, that’s gross’. But I caught myself just in time. I don’t really want to stifle that natural curiosity and interest. Besides it’s not really gross, she’s just having a gander… and he keeps his chocolate starfish pretty damn sparkly*

*annoyingly, that… eh… maintenance, is done with loud slurping noises every night just before bed time. Nothing like that melodic sound to lull you to sleep.

Josh Waitzkin (chess guy – ju-jitsu guy I like) has a great parenting theory. He’s particularly careful about his use of adjectives when he’s talking to his progeny.

He uses the example of the weather. If his kid wants to play outside and it’s stormy out, he doesn’t say the weather is ‘bad’. It’s just weather. In any event I’m trying to live that philosophy. It’s not a disgusting spider that you need to be scared of… It’s just a spider. Let’s have a look at it. And then put it outside. (Admittedly this was a little more challenging with a black widow the other day)

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This sort of language is harder than it sounds. We are very conditioned in our responses, describing things on autopilot, ascribing adverbs and adjectives with almost no consideration. I only realised how broadly negative my language was until I paused to take cognisance of what I was saying.

I still mess it up quite regularly. But I am trying to get better at this.

The Decoy

If you’re going to leave work early… make sure you leave a decoy.

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Make sure its of similar management style and appearance. You don’t want your ruse to be immediately discovered. Also (and I speak from experience) better if you and your decoy are of equal skill and temperament… you don’t want to be upstaged by a garden variety vegetable. I had an unfortunate incident once where an oversize butternut solved one of our more challenging bottlenecks. It was a little embarrassing.

Also yes. This is me. The one of the left.

 

To infinity and beyond

‘Unstuck, unfucked and unleashed’ – The obstacle is the way, Ryan Holiday

I’ve decided to take my writing a little more seriously. Almost like a grownup. Although there’s got to be something said for taking the blog of someone who just sprayed himself in the eye with screen cleaner seriously. In my defence it’s was quite difficult to see (now impossible) which way the nozzle was facing. Gently formulated to burn like matches. Who needs coffee when you can self medicate with a shot of Isopropyl* directly into your cornea every morning. Goddamn…

* noun. 1. of or denoting the alkyl radical —CH(CH3)2, derived from propane by removal of a hydrogen atom from the middle carbon atom.

I have no idea how to segue that opening into a coherent follow up paragraph. Until recently segue wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. Embarrassingly I used to think segue was spelled Segway and that it was a proper noun that became a verb. Like when you Xerox something. Do you keep the capital in situations like this? I sense someone rolling his or her eyes at me right now and getting all judgmental. Still… I feel confident that I can recover and salvage a long meandering tirade from all of this… maybe.

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Stegosaurus used for scale.

I’m drinking white pomegranate tea. It’s supposed to be super healthy for you. But mostly it’s a hot drink substitute for coffee. I’m trying to cut down on my stimulant intake. I have this ideal concept of self where I exist in this perfect mindful state, free of extraneous influences. Its good to have goals… even if they are unlikely to be totally achieved or fully realized. Back when I was fighting regularly I’d start my day with two crushed up Ibuprofen chased with a Red Bull and a double espresso. And that was just to get myself out of bed and into the office. Usually by 10am or so I could feel the rotation of the planet and the gentle hum of the universe expanding at sixty nine kilometers per second.

I’ve come a long way since then, but recently I’ve found myself slipping and needing that caffeine crutch again. The problem is I really like coffee. I’m not a connoisseur by ANY stretch of the imagination… for the most part I like my coffee in a disposable cardboard cup with a plastic lid. I know, I’m espousing heresy on such a massive scale I should expect the inquisition banging at my door at any moment. ‘Hello, hello, hello… what’s all this then?’ (in my mind the inquisition is, apparently,  British)

I’m trying to drink one coffee type drink per day. (Trying being the operative word) For a while I made it bulletproof coffee. Instead of butter I’d use coconut oil. It’s supposed to do something cognitively for you. Then again I often imagine my mind like a hamster wheel. Only the hamster is dead. Fortunately the wheel hasn’t stopped turning just yet, so I can still dress and feed myself without missing my mouth. (Some might debate the latter) Coconut oil isn’t going to do anything for him anymore. The hamster I mean. Except maybe make him smell a little more tropical.

In any event if you’re going to continue reading this blog I need to warn you, that, broadly speaking the the quality of the writing here resembles the microbial bacteria that lives in the water, that collects in the little plastic container that holds your toilet brush, co-inhabiting this space with tiny bits of fecal matter. It will likely do nothing for you but nurture your misanthropy and potentially give you gastroenteritis of biblical proportions, the likes of which the sensitive skin around you rectum will never forget or forgive you for.

If you’ve made it this far I can only suggest to you that TODAY might be the day! Grab the emergency crucifix and load up that revolver with the silver bullets. You know just in case. Good luck out there. Take very few prisoners. And don’t touch the hand railing on the escalator. You may get hepatitis.

An open mind…

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it – Terry Pratchett

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MJ. That rare intersectionality where you can combine your favorite author with your favorite comic book.

I often decide that since it is in my mind, I must have put it there. Instead of challenging the concept that most of my most hardcore beliefs were actually placed there by someone else. I just entrenched and calcified those ideas. I’m am likely quite a porous individual, absorbing things willy-nilly like some sort of organic, meat-sack sponge.

That’s not to say I don’t have original thoughts. Well… I’m assuming some of them must be original… right? I’d love to see that version of me that evolved as a blank slate free from outside stimuli. What sort of person would that be, what would he have come up with…

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Would I be more Jack? Or more Ralph.

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Probably Ralph. Wiggum I mean.