30 March 2013

Sorry for the Lack of Posts Lately, Installment the Third: My Internet Fast


Well I'm back now, hope you didn't miss me too much, I went on an internet fast, I starved myself of the web for seventeen whole days and I gotta say it is one of the best things I have ever done.  I admit it was tough at first.  Not knowing what my friends were having for lunch or seeing the latest funny Tweep from Elvis Brockman, it was hard to get out of bed in the morning and even harder to figure out what to do at 2:34 pm when I would normally be checking my Twongle or searching for funny animal pics on Bigglebanger dot com.

Boy do I feel refreshed.  My thinking is just so much clearer.  Like before I was upset because I didn’t instinctively know which brand of jeans to wear and now that I took a step back I see that my whole wardrobe was just ridiculous, but I was so focused on doodling with my Twoodle I didn't have time to notice, so I threw out most of it and made the long-overdue switch to spandex and so far I look – and feel – terrific.  Who knew I had this smokin bod?

And it wasn't just the clarity of thought, it was the things I would think about, questioning why I was doing some stuff but not other stuff, thinking about why I wasn’t thinking about things I wasn't even thinking about.  It was something to think about but unfortunately impossible to capture in words, you’ve either been there or you haven't.

It was great fun to go to the library and just wander around, take random books down from the shelves, read them as long as they held my interest, then when I felt bored just click on another book and – oh dear, would you listen to me now.  It was somewhat less intense than web surfing, certainly less convenient, ad-free but dustier, though somehow it felt better for you, if that makes any sense.  I was heartened to know that these places called public libraries still exist and that I can go there any Tuesday between four and seven pm or Saturdays between noon and three to look at microfiche of old newspapers that aren’t on Google live yet.

During the fast I was able to read seven whole books plus work on my quilt commemorating Season 3 of Delocated and start to learn how to play the zither.  I also got my dog-squatting license, brushed up on my sex-talk chops, and made the most amazing Carpathian goat's hip soufflĂ© from a recipe I totally invented all by myself.  I can't wait to apply my new skillsets the next time I am invited to a dinner party or stranded at sea with a zither.

It's amazing what you can get done when you sit around reading magazines until you're bored out of your effin skull and then guzzle two iced macchachinos.  I cleaned shit I didn't even know I had, I think some of it was my neighbor's.  I completely re-organized my predilections.  I went through all my old photographs and tax returns, I found this one sticker I’ve been saving since seventh grade, of course I'll never stick it on anything now and I'll never throw it away either, but it was amazing to find it and look at it for a minute before putting it back in the box for another six years, anyway that's a blogpost for another day.

Is it ironic writing about my internet fast for surfchannel dot net?  I don't think so, but then after seventeen days without irony I'm not so sure any more.  I think I can offer an important perspective to everybody sitting around stuck on the internet 14 hours a day.  Let them know that by going off-line once in a while you can be just as bored without the achy eyes and gnawing uneasiness.  And that boredom is good for you: it can make even meaningless internet essays like this seem interesting by comparison.

Note: Previous apologies for not posting more can be found here and here. 

16 March 2013

New Value-Added Services (Desperately Seeking)


Revenue has been off once again this quarter and management is all over our collective ass to come up with some new value-added services.

But aside from our novel (and hugely popular) TV Wash, most of the good ideas seem to be taken.

Without the power of time travel it is very difficult to make a living in our modern economy.  But we gotta come up with something before this 3:00 meeting.

Okay, what do people need?  Food, sex, sleep, music, television, maybe a DVD player or a DVR, and a beverage.  How about a business service where they can get all that under one roof, plus it gives them a job with decent health coverage?  Maybe there's a two-for-one introductory offer, the sex and the food can be enjoyed in separate rooms (or not), plus free refills.

A better kind of food?  Seems like it's all been done.  A new drug that makes all things look like Captain Jack Sparrow?  We already have one (Piratol), but the side effects are nasty and apparently irreversible.  So, a safe new drug that immerses you instantly in your favorite Tom Hanks movie.  Besides pot I mean.

No forget that.  We are not drug dealers.  Dealing drugs be bad, and we be good.  But how to be good while increasing revenue?  This is the great moral dilemma of our time, is it not?

Let's take a quick time-out for a word from our sponsors.  Please purchase their products as it will increase revenue and get the old woman off our backs, let us get back to producing the tough hard-hitting investigative exposĂ©s on which we built and later destroyed our reputation for clean wholesome family comedy. 

We'll be right back. 

[Brief pause for commercial messages, omitted here since you’d skip through them anyway.  Ads annoy the reader and that's why this blog is ad-free, for now.  Monetization is on the way, make no mistake.  Meantime, please give generously.]

OK we're back, betcha didn’t see that coming, usually we don't come back but this time we did.

There's only one way to generate any revenue these days and that is to enter into a partnership with the Google corporation in which you slave away all day on your blog for dimes on the dollar while they use the space around the edges to sell targeted advertising at ridiculous margins.  (Their success is based on them having a permanent record of everything you've ever looked up or clicked on; you are supposed to be happy, or at least ambivalent, about this because one day one of those million ads might actually be for something you want.  Now that's convenience.)

Or, we could fire your whole department, automate / outsource / offshore / neglect all the work you guys were doing, just try to keep faking it until we get bought out or the loans come due, make sure we get cashed out before then and have another lily pad to hop to.

Or we could just ask people what they want.  People will pay for a service if they want it.  So what do you people want (to pay for)?  Please let us know fast, before they fire our ass.  And please don't say syphilis again, we tried that last quarter and let's just say we had some problems identifying our target demographic, sales and revenues failed to meet (respectively) projections and targets, we lost our shirts plus some pants that had been in the family for generations.

13 March 2013

On Context (Which is Everything)


Context is Everything.  Without it we are nothing, like a fish out of context.

Context is critical and thus invaluable. But where can one go to purchase some?

The answer is nowhere.  Context must be created.  From scratch, as it were.

However, one person alone is inevitably insufficient to create the context, by definition no one can create an entire context because the complete context can not (ipso facto, por favor) be limited to the influence of a single individual, no matter how hip.  For example I invite you to my home, I put before you an elegant dinner based around my quite novel breaded steaklets, I've got a keg out back and Twisted Sister rockin in the basement, the whole kit and caboodle, I can go to great lengths to create a very particular context, but ultimately I cannot create the context because any context I create can only function as a sub-context within the broader context established by forces and events beyond my control, e.g. the weather, the Dow, the traffic situation, the alignment of the heavenly bodies and so forth. 

Context is therefore a collective construction, a subset of a larger construct called 'reality', to which humanity is one of many contributors, albeit with an increasing share at least as far as we are concerned.  That is to say, while Earth and its sun and moon provided the original context for humans, humanity increasingly provides its own context and indeed shapes the context for all life on this planet.

Excuse me, but these almonds are in the shell.  How do I shell almonds?  I mean is it like pistachios or do I need a special tool?  (Is it me or is this out of context?)

Meanwhile, back in context… our heroes The Ideas are rapidly developing a plan to foil the evil gang known as the Veils of Ignorance through the deployment of a series of straightforward arguments in support of the premise that context is all, it is the very oxygen we breathe, without it we cannot go on, we are the proverbial fish out of context.

07 March 2013

The End of Children


Another Paid Message from The Leader.

Children will have no place in our economic future.  I am sorry to break the news to my fellow humans who were planning to reproduce, as well as those whose livelihood depends on children, videlicet schoolteachers, toymakers, tobacco companies and so forth, but the end of children is nigh and we might as well just face up to that fact and face it in the face before it's too late.

This 'end of innocents' does not mean we must destroy all the current children; we can simply wait them out.  It does however mean that, until further notice, new children may not be produced or disseminated, with or without the express written consent of the guys at Jem's Banjo Repair.  Sorry, breeders: the jig is up.

A world without children will differ greatly from the child-filled world we know today.  Many cable television stations which gear their content for kids will go belly up.  Most swingsets will be torn down and the scrap metal channeled to the production of more mechanical bulls.  There may be a marginal decrease in sales of sugared breakfast cereals.

On the other hand think of the positives: No more child abuse, child slavery or screaming babies in tight spaces.  Global warming can probably be reversed without all those kids running around peeing in sinks and spewing carbon dioxide out of their grimy little snotholes.  No more rebellious teens with their saggy diaper jeans, grotesque musical tastes and prank telephone calls.  No more having to feign interest in someone else's offspring – or spend your days chasing after slash worrying about your own.  Surely there are many more positives to a world without children; readers are invited to chime in using our proprietary 'Comment Box' technology.

Regardless of how you feel about it, the end of children is the new reality.  It makes little sense to become emotional about the inevitable.

Please, think not of attempting to circumvent the new regulation; enforcement will be swift and egregiously merciless.  No one wants to impale your precious offspring any more than you want to see your precious offspring impaled.  So just don’t even think about it.  We’ll have free condoms, pills, gels, the works, it’s gonna be nuts, like an orgy without the consequences.

Finally, to those millions of never-to-be-born children of the nonexistent future: I have nothing to say.  (As if that wasn't obvious from the get-go.)