Saturday, August 25, 2012

The White American Heterosexual Christian Conservative Victim Complex.

I try to stay out of politics.  On Facebook I've had to ignore almost everyone I know because of the endless reams of propaganda that were flooding into my news feed.  Everyone thinks they're evangelizing the 'one true ideology', but as is my stance with religion, I'm not really in the market for an ideology, and I don't care too deeply about yours.  I do, however, feel compelled to address at least a small portion of that bullshit before I go back to writing articles about rape vans and semi-professional flid kicking...

It seems like people are less willing to say nice things about our president today.  Certainly part of that can be attributed to his lackluster performance over the last few years, but even amongt his strongest supporters (black people, and guilty trust fund whites) there seems to be a reluctance to sing his praises.  I think part of the reason there is so little vocal support of our current president, is the fact that it's been an endless argument from day one.  In a way, the worst thing that could have happened for the GOP was for Obama to positively perceived in any way.  I believe that they've done everything in their power to sabotage America since Obama got into office.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a shill for this guy.  To be honest I don't think the big O is the best man for the job (Hillary is clearly the better man).  I think that Obama could have accomplished more with his time in office.  There are legitimate causes for criticism.

To make matters worse, the entire Democratic Party's media platform has done nothing but alienate me in recent years.  All this touchy-feely, nanny-state, race-baiting, feel-good for doing nothing, pansexual Earth-love pandering is sickening to me.  I understand that they are fighting dirty pool with dirty pool, but it has diminished the core ideology.

"Name one example,"  Whines the nearest Far-Left, bleeding-heart echo unit.

The fact that anyone thinks they know whether or not George Zimmerman is guilty is a perfect example of the deleterious effect of biased media outlets in journalism (i.e. MSNBC and FOX NEWS).  These two media outlets set the entire tone of the conversation, preventing any rational discussion of facts.  And it's not just anyone that think's they know - it's everyone.  People in fucking Wisconsin are certain of Zimmerman's guilt or innocence.

The Liberals are utterly convinced that this is yet another example of a black person being victimized.  Zimmerman rolled out of bed one day and said 'I have just GOT to kill me a nigger today - The younger the better'.  Probably after a night of reading Mein Kampf and stroking his gun in a manner that, for lack of a more disturbing word, could only be described as masturbatory.

Meanwhile, The Conservatives are certain that Zimmerman was acting in brave defense of his neighborhood.  While Treyvon Martin was wreaking havoc throughout this idyllic community, smoking crack, selling drugs, and intimidating the townspeople, running around in his 'thug life' hood, sporting his ill gotten 'bling', and blasting gangster rap about butt-raping white toddlers.

The reality is, if you weren't there, you can't be certain.  Any evidence you've seen on 'the news' is worth precisely dick.  The news stations are selling you the story you want to hear.  Otherwise, all the news stations would be reporting the same story (note: they are not).  Both of these accounts are based on cartoon characters.  The oppressed hero, and the dastardly villain with an agenda.  It's such an effective schema, that in your head, you've probably already assigned one of them to the hero role and the other to the villain role when, in fact, it can read either way.  The fact that the assessment of guilt or innocence splits down party lines is the first clue that no one is being objective about this.

Has Barack Obama exploited this and other events for his own political standing?  You'd better believe it.  B.O. will attach his face and name to any hot cause involving a perceived underdog victim.  And if he can remind everyone that he's black in the process, that's going to happen as well.  To be fair, though, every modern era president has been guilty of leveraging the media.  That's the game, and it's our fault as a society for buying into this horseshit.

Fig. 1: "Heh - I personally saw to it that this mission was accomplerated."

Barack Obama is not the worst president we've had in the last 10 years.  He's a clear and obvious improvement over the last guy.  Hell, some of our allies are even speaking to us again.  It is irritating to me that he can't say or do anything that isn't pounced upon by detractors.  Anything.  He can't hug his damn kids without some analyst accusing him of pandering or calculating, or being a Muslim or a Marxist zombie or whatever.  Again, and I can't stress this enough, there are legitimate reasons to criticize Barack Obama.  Socialist is not one of them.  Neither is African, Muslim, or non-American.  Yet those have been the rallying cries.  Ignoring the real problems, in order to invent pretend ones that sound worse.

It is intellectually dishonest to disagree with absolutely everything someone else does.  It's just not possible.  There have to be a few things you agree on.  We all like good things, like puppies.  And we all dislike bad things, like puppy rapists.  It's a bit demagogic, but it's a start.  The only way to systematically disagree with absolutely everything someone says, is to behave like a child and refuse to agree even when you actually agree, on the basis that you are unwilling to give ground.

There must have been some common ground that we could have worked on in the last 4 years.  Instead, everyone in congress - BOTH SIDES - intentionally put up bills that they knew could never pass.  Focusing on heavily contested issues so that in the election to come they could blast their opponents for blocking the most polarizing issues.  Instead, they could have tabled the things they don't agree on, and worked together on less contested but equally important issues.

Ever since the day after the last election, it has been impossible to discuss policy, because everyone jumps straight to calling each other fascists and socialists.  The evolution of the discussion makes it clear that much of this stems from racism (though the language that racism is couched in is constantly evolving).  Indeed, one of the first conversations I had about the new president 3 years ago involved a disappointed conservative vociferously trying to convince me that "Obama is a Nigger"

He seemed to think that this appeal was somehow helping his case.

Before you suggest that this was an isolated incident, let me assure you it was not.  Increasingly overt racism become a common undercurrent which I have witnessed firsthand countless times in the last few years.

They are stirring up the old prejudices to poison the populace against this president.  This is disappointing to me, but the bigger problem is that the cat's out of the bag now.  There's no going back.  Hate as an instrument of political propaganda will never go away without revolutionary change.  Civility is done for.  Neither side can afford to de-weaponize their campaigns, because the methods are effective.  Furthermore, any sort of de-escalation would be read by voters as a sign of weakness.

The trick now is to go on the offensive, slandering your opponent for running a negative campaign.  No one really wants to talk policy, because Americans are too stupid for lengthy and serious discussions of policy and hard numbers.

Just ask the last guy that tried it.

As a result, we now have politicians stumping from town to town with speeches and soundbites that equate to "My cock-sucking opponent has run an unprovokedly negative campaign from day one - but we're taking the high road and sticking to the issues - instead of the Socialist, Anti-American, faggoty rhetoric of my esteemed opponent."

If only I could find an example of this shit from facebook...

Fig. 2:  Some possible captions for this image:  
1.  'Faggoty rhetoric' in this case is women, minorities, the middle class, and the needy.  
2.  This image is so meta that my ears are bleeding.
3.  OK.  What would you like to say about the economy?
4.  Dance, Bojangles!

Which brings me back to my original point.  People have stopped speaking in favor of the current president largely because we're tired of hearing the same old worn out and irrelevant arguments.  Birth certificates, and bowing to the Saudi King, and taking away your guns, and whatever...  It's a campaign of suppression, and unfortunately it's working.  I'm tired of the empty bickering.  I'm tired of hearing the exact same arguments formed in the exact same words coming from the mouths of thousands of different people.

It's not that I expect or even want everyone to agree with me.  I just want them to take the time to develop and present an opinion of their own.  Something that wasn't fed to them by Glenn Beck or Rachael Maddow.  It is possible to discuss and disagree without resorting to childish namecalling.  Different arguments might have competing merits - It is not always all or nothing.  One's opinions on gun control need have no bearing or relationship to their opinion on birth control.  There are more than two (or even three) possible political ideologies.  The goal of the discussion isn't to win the argument, but to learn from others and build your own ideology.

I'm seeing a lot of this 'White American Heterosexual Christian Conservative Victim Complex.'  These guys that think Christians are under siege, Christmas is under attack, marriage is being sexually assaulted by the fags, and white middle to upper class males are being marginalized and victimized - strapped down with chains and tied to the yoke of carrying the lazy, unwashed underclasses - all of it orchestrated by Obama somehow.  America itself is being taken from the honest hardworking (IE white protestant conservative heterosexual) man.  If you were to listen to these stories, you'd think that Obama is riding from town to town persecuting Christians and Soldiers and throwing money he personally stole from orphanages at the bastard abortions of slutty women.  He's like all four horsemen, rolled into one.

I have a friend who blames Obama for someone being arrested over municipal building code violations in Phoenix.  You see, he thinks Obama is involved because this guy in phoenix is trying to run a church.  The fact that he's been ducking municipal code for years somehow has nothing to do with it.  Instead, the story goes, Obama personally wants to destroy this guy's church, because it's a Christian church.  And you know how Obama hates Christian churches (Well, except when he's attending that one church with the racist pastor...  Then he's a died in the wool, lifelong Baptist)

Like Obama rolled into fuckin' Phoenix so he could enforce building codes.  He just...  Couldn't possibly have that kind of time, right?  I don't have that kind of time, and I'm not even the president.

I hear this preposterous nonsense, and...


                              I JuSt...

                                               
                                     i jUsT FuCKnG...


                                           I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO --


Fig. 3:  My head a splode.

As an atheist, let me assure you that Christianity is alive and well in America.  It's the most embarrassing thing about this country, and I wish you would all shut up about it.  If you don't believe me, head out to Missouri sometime.  It's Jesus like a motherfucker out in Missouri.  Those guys aren't being persecuted - certainly not personally persecuted by Obama himself.

Having so much money that you get bumped into a higher tax bracket is a kind of oppression now!?!  Being a member of the comfortable default is a form of being marginalized?  Putting an end to policies of subjugation somehow makes you a victim?

Move over Kunte Kinte, A well-off white guy might have to share his part of suburbia with a black, or some queers.  Or maybe some Black Muslim Queers.  Just a whole gaggle of successful, gay married, black muslim queers stealing his jobs, right there in the middle of Wisteria Lane - faggoting up the whole neighborhood.  Oh, the humanity!  That everything the REAL AMERICANS (read: White Americans) have worked so hard to build would be ruined by these invaders.  Just by moving in they're ruining the property value!  By moving in, they're essentially STEALING the money those poor unfortunate rich white folks have poured into their homes...  It's outright SOCIALISM, and it's ruining America!!!

Give me a fucking break with this shit.

I've been trying not to argue online so much.  I feel it makes me a worse person to engage this behavior.  I'm making an active effort to be civil.  It's not easy, because no one else is trying to be civil.  Avoiding politics on Facebook is like trying to avoid raindrops in a storm.  I've got friends and family who are essentially calling me stupid by proxy every day now with their posts.  It leads me to wonder whether or not I really need friends and family like that.  Were I to return their kindness, many of them would answer that question for me preemptively.

It doesn't have to be like this.  There was a time when there was at least some degree of civility in politics.  Consider the Carter / Reagan debate.  Seriously - watch like 5 minutes of that shit, more if you've got the time.


Certainly they disagreed on a great many points, and I doubt there was much love between them but the manifestation of that disagreement was a pointed but civil discussion of specific policies and issues.  There was no slander, no accusations, and relatively little grandstanding - at least by today's standards.  An hour and a half of pure on-target political debate.

Putting all politics aside, these were both good guys.  I believe that as presidents, both acted in good faith to do what they felt was right for the country.  It's almost like there wasn't a wrong choice.  Just two good choices.

The ultimate irony of all this, is that if it wasn't for all of these layers of over-the-top right wing Anti-Obama rhetoric I'd be the first guy in line to criticize his policies and results.  Instead, the issue has become so forced that there is no avoiding it.  I am presented with the option of supporting an ineffective president, or agreeing with the party that desperately wants you to know that Barack Obama is a Muslim, an African, a Socialist, and a Nigger.

Fig. 4:  If you are white, you should feel embarrassed when you see this.

There's a concept in psychology called heuristics.  Heuristics are basically experience-based shortcuts for solving problems.  You make so many decisions in any given day that if you had to fully reason each one out, you'd never get out the door in the morning.  An example of a heuristic that everyone learns early on: 'Things that smell bad also taste bad'.  That's why you don't have to drink milk that smells bad - you just throw it away.

This is a form of the contagion heuristic.  Put simply, You tend to avoid stuff that is associated with something bad.  For example, you would probably be reluctant to wear a jacket that a homeless wino died in.  Even if it were spotlessly cleaned and pressed, the inherent 'dead hobo-ness' persists in your mind.

It is an extension of this heuristic that forces my hand.  The intensity of the hate and negativity of conservative media and base over the last 4 years utterly contaminates every other aspect of the conservative platform.

Do I think we should find ways to cut spending?  Yes.
Do I think that we're wasting money on education?  Yes, but that's a different article.
Do I value the freedom of the individual?  Yes.
Do I support gun ownership?  Yes.
Do I support the ownership of assault rifles?  Yes.
Do I support the ownership of fully automatic weapons?  Yes.
Do I support the private ownership of 15 inch battleship cannons in the front yard?  Yes.
Am I inherently distrustful of oversized government?  Yes.
Do I believe in enforcing the borders?  Yes, with provisions for seasonal and migrant workers.
Do I believe in considering the human cost before enacting ecological protections?  Yes.

When I say that I'm going to end up voting for Barack Obama, that's not an endorsement - it's a resignation.  I was given no other choice.

Fig. 5:  It's a false dilemma.  Turn around.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Commercials That Suck Part 2


You might be wondering about the odd title of this post.  I assure you that there's a perfectly reasonable explanation.  At any given time I have 4 or 5 articles in development, and in this case, there's already a Commercials That Suck Part 1.  I could rename the other article, but it's really the anchor of the series.  That said, this idea stands independently of the other article, so I didn't particularly want to leave it languishing in development hell, simply because the first one isn't finished just yet - potentially forcing me to crank out sloppier than usual work on the first article just so it wouldn't be holding this article up.

So I'm starting with the second in the series, and I'll follow it up with the first in the series out of sequence as time and development allow.  I can't seem to remember how that's worked out in the past for other people, starting halfway through a series and then going back to the beginning...

Fuck.

I just saw a commercial for Flintstones vitamins.  They are still claiming to be "ten million strong, and growing" Problem is, that's been their tagline since 1987.  By their count, they haven't grown at all.  I'm not sure what polling method they're using to come up with their figures, but I can guarantee that they are within the margin of error for actually shrinking slightly.

It's worse than that though, because what they aren't telling you is that they have failed to keep up with world population growth. There are 2 billion more people on the planet today than there were in 1987 -- So while 10,000,000 Flintstones Kids represented 0.2% of the global population in 1987, they have diminished to only 0.14% of the global population in 2012 - making them a rapidly receding, and ultimately doomed demographic.

So I'm proposing a new, more accurate jingle.

Pretty soon they'll be allowed to open casinos and sell illegal fireworks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More content on the way

I am currently on the last half of a road trip from Seattle to New York City, and back (via different roads).  The entire thing is being documented in the lowest budget documentary ever.  Thanks for the views.   

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why Wolverine Sucks

I should probably preface this article by pointing out that I'm not into comics.  I can't say for sure if I've ever read a comic book, graphic novel, or even a Bazooka Joe wrapper from cover to cover.  However, despite the fact that a great many of us will never read comic books, we are inevitably exposed to these characters though other media.


Ask several young children (who aren't total spastics, or the product of nerd-mating) who their favorite superhero is, and the answer you are likely to hear the most often is 'Superman'.  This is because the question a kid hears is 'what superhero would you like to be?', and Superman is the correct answer.  He's the strongest, fastest, see-throughingest, eye laser-shootingest, time-travellingest, most invincible, and his only weaknesses are Margot Kidder and fragments of a planet that is at least 2.2 million light years away (source).


Now, given that Superman was born on Krypton, and that it was destroyed at some point (presumably early in his life), and given that the maximum theoretical possible speed of planetary fragments is an infinitesimal hair under the speed of light, and bearing in mind that even under optimal conditions the actual speed of planetary fragments wouldn't approach even half the speed of light;  Taking all of that into consideration, Superman has - minimum - three million years before the first bits of Kryptonite could possibly have traveled far enough to reach Earth.  That's if they're travelling faster than light travels through fiber.  


You know how when people are talking about really far out numbers, they'll sometimes refer to them as being 'astronomical'?  That's because outer space is wicked fucking huge.  Outer space is so far outside of normal experience, that the numbers involved when dealing with space look fake.  If I railed on all night about how stupidly massive our tiny corner of the universe is, you would still manage to underestimate the mind-boggling bigness of outer space.  The human brain is simply not wired to deal with these kinds of numbers or distances in any meaningful way.


Consider that an entire planet blowing up is going to more or less explode in a spherical manner.  So only a small fraction of the planet would be travelling in the correct direction.  Assuming the Kryptonian Cataclysm generates sufficient velocity for the constituent bits of the planet to overcome their own gravity, the gravity of their stellar system, and the gravity of their galaxy, and travels indefinitely through space without running into anything, after travelling 2.2 million light years, all of the bits of Krypton will be spread out along the surface of a sphere measuring 2,102,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 square miles.  That's 2.1 Duodecillion, in case you were wondering.  Also known as a jillion grillion brazillian.  On a sphere measuring 2.1 duodecillion square miles, the Earth presents a target roughly 1,613 hundred-decillionths of its total surface.


That's 0.000000000000000000000000000001613ths.  


Now, if that number looks stupid and outrageously unwieldy, it is because for all practical purposes anything that has to be measured in hundred-decillionths is equal to zero.  I'm not going to bore you with any more math, but the next Coca-Cola you drink will almost certainly consist of far more than that proportion of my urine.  


That's right.  Suck it down.


What's the point of all that numberwang? 


Even assuming a clear line of travel between Krypton and Earth, the odds of the merest mote of Kryptonian dust - much less an actual rock - ending up anywhere near the Earth is mathematically nonzero, but practially zero.  Worse than your odds of accidentally marrying Carmen Electra (it happened to Dennis Rodman, proving that it is not only possible, but relatively quite likely).  Worse than your odds of hitting every lottery in the world for two weeks.  Worse than the likelihood that you will be stuck by lightning dressed up as a scullery maid on top of an igloo whilst digitally pleasuring the entire Swedish Bikini Team.  


"Oh, come on, now - that would NEVER happen," you conveniently protest.  


THAT is my point exactly.  Superman is completely invincible.  Not merely in the way every Comic Code era protagonist is invincible, protected by the fact that he has to win the day, but invincible in the sense that any danger that befalls him is a kludge designed to make up for the bad writing that overpowered the hero in the first place.  He is mathematically invincible.  The fact that every third villain seemed to have a bucket of Kryptonite sitting around is total monkeyshit.


Bear in mind, that this kind of literature served a different purpose back then.  Superman was created in a time when Nazism was sweeping Germany, and war was looming on the horizon.  Meanwhile, the Great Depression was in full swing and we were far from certain that it would ever pass.  Today we expect our superheros to overcome great challenges and difficulty - to achieve beyond their abilities.  No act of heroism is complete without a proportionate sacrifice.  But in the 1930s, people were looking for escapism and wish fulfillment.  And thus we were given the strapping young embodiment of American strength, valor, virtue, and ethical superiority.  An overdog story to appeal to a nation of underdogs.


Superman isn't merely powerful, he's retardedly powerful.  This is very appealing to toddlers, because they'd like to be fast, strong, invincible, and able to fly.  I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that it is a very good thing they aren't any of those things, because they would possess those powers in the absence of any real ethical or moral code.  If you disagree, then you clearly don't know any children.  Children aren't gentle and pure.  They are brutal single-minded sociopaths, utterly bereft of any concept of right and wrong, completely free from the capacity for forethought and the knowledge of natural consequences - Yet they lack the strength to exert their will onto the world.  Think about it - Have you ever been punched by a freight train?  The first time your precious little angel kicks you in the shin, your entire body is going to explode from the shockwave.


Children wouldn't use superman's powers to fight crime.  After murdering their parents, they'd use those powers to take anything they want, whenever they want it.


That's right.  Suck it down.


Upon ascending from toddlerhood, one begins to realize that they need something more from a superhero.  There's no class in liking Superman.  Cheering for that smug, self-righteous son-of-a-bitch is like cheering for the Yankees against a Summer tee-ball team, or cheering for a tee-ball team against the Seattle Mariners.  It's not just that he always wins, he also never loses.  There's no ambiguity with Superman.  He never has to make the hard decision, because there's always a third option when you've got the ability to cut a man's testicle in half with your laser eyes.  He always chooses to save everyone, and capture the criminal.


At this phase (7 or 8 years old) kids are ready to pick a better superhero.  Back in my day, that generally meant you either became a Spider-man fan, or a Batman fan, or possibly even both - because at that age, no one really cares about the Marvel / DC rivalry.  Come to think of it, I still don't care about the Marvel / DC rivalry.


Spider-man was cool because while he was stronger and far more nimble than the average joe, he was far from invincible.  Plus he got to swing off buildings and shit with his spider webs.  Spider-man really had to work for it if he wanted to save the day, because most of the time his adversaries were more powerful than he was.  He was a teenager, cursed with great power and great responsibility (a phrase which originated in Amazing Fantasy #15, not in the movie).  He was constantly torn between his responsibilities to his family and friends, and his responsibility to thwart disaster - because he was the only one who could.


Did I mention he lives in New York City?  The most populous city in the world.  He drops the ball one time, and gets his uncle killed, and now he's on the morally on the hook for preventing and avenging every murder, arson, rape, burglary, assault, bank robbery, mugging, and bridge collapse that happens in New York fucking City.  They even saddled him with fantastic senses, so he'd know when anyone around him was in danger.  The point is, unlike Superman who always gets everything and never loses anything, Spider-man lives in a world of compromise - often forced to allow the lesser of two evils go unaddressed.  It's like one of those experiments you hear about from an ethics book - if you pull the switch one person dies, and if you push the switch the other person dies but if you do nothing everyone dies.  


That's every second of Spider-man's day.  He's been out kicking ass for three days straight because he lives in New York City, and finally he has to go home and sleep because he's completely exhausted and needs to rest because he's rapidly losing effectiveness.  He finally lays down when his super hearing picks up the sound of Tony 'Stinkfist' Valvano beating the shit out of his wife with a waffle iron four houses down.  He needs the sleep, but if he does nothing her blood is on his hands, because he was the only one who could do something.  On the other hand, even if he takes care of it - HE LIVES IN NEW YORK CITY - someone is always getting mugged or raped or murdered or abducted within a few blocks of his house.  Sooner or later he just has to say 'fuck it', and choose to let people die so he can get enough sleep to go back to saving the world from proper villains.  All while attending school, and holding down a job.  


It's not easy to be Spider-man.  Sure he's got all the fun powers, and he gets to give M.J. the old 'Minnesota Hot Pocket' from time to time, but he is constantly forced to make decisions that no one is really prepared to have to make.  Moral quandary is the essence of Spider-man.  Because he can, he must.  It's easy to be good when you're Superman - so it holds less valye.  Spider-man is constantly balancing varying degrees of greater goods and lesser evils.  His struggle to do the right thing when the path isn't so clear makes him like us.  All he can do is try the best he can.  It's an admirable trait for us to aspire to.  Though, to be honest, he should probably quit, for his own sake.  Or at least move to a smaller town.   


The problem with Spider-man, is that his is a flawed ethic.  His intention is noble, but it is an unsustainable ideal.  Imagine someone with amazing superpowers who simply elected not to fight crime - to live a normal life.  "You must stop evil, because you can,"  The old axiom argues.  People might get on his case for not jumping to the rescue every time some situation breaks out - By that rationale, people without superpowers should be spending every spare moment in third world countries providing volunteer services to the relief efforts, or working in soup kitchens or adopting tsunami babies, because they can.  No one expects you to do all of that, and it's clearly unfair to expect that of people with superpowers.


Batman was cool because unlike the other superheroes being presented, Batman had no superpowers at all.  He was egregiously wealthy, and seemed to have a knack for sourcing rocket cars and bat-themed equipment without raising any eyebrows, but at the end of the day batman's 'powers' were intelligence and an unhealthy level of dedication.  Sure he's strong and agile and tough and uniquely gifted at kicking asses, but he is none of these things outside of the realm of human possibility.  Batman achieved these things through a process of time and a psychotic level of perseverance and focus.


Batman's story is rooted heavily in classical literature.  It plays out a bit like the Count of Monte Cristo.  Bruce Wayne experiences a great trauma in his youth which proves to be the defining moment of his life.  Consumed by grief and the desire to become an instrument of justice, spends the rest of his days engaged in academic research and training to become the ultimate force of justice.  Years spent dedicated to building the man he will need to be.  His search for just vengeance is tempered by his notions of right and wrong - the only fragment of his parents which remain.  Upon entering adulthood, he comes into a limitless fortune with which to pursue his goals.


It's a story that appeals to the growing mind, because Batman is the one superhero you could actually grow up to be.  It's not likely, but it's at least possible.  And because it's possible, that means that at least someone could become Batman, even if it isn't you.  Batman deals in absolutes of right and wrong, while dealing justice to a world gone gray.  Deep down, there's a part of Batman that wants to cross that line between deliverer of justice, and criminal vigilante.  He struggles with the line that he is forced to walk - and must keep the world at bay in order to protect them.  Batman is a dark and capable loner - who ironically is the only beacon of light in a dystopian metropolis.  His solitary nature has driven him to be the ultimate omega man.  He is separate from those he seeks to save.  Batman's heroic sacrifice is himself. 


Unfortunately, Hollywood's efforts over the last decade have completely ruined both Batman and Spiderman.  I'll admit that Joel Schumacher started the trend, but Christopher Nolan utterly destroyed the Dark Knight.  The effects were so conclusive that Spider-man sucked by virtue of being released in the same decade.


And so, everyone has moved on to the X-men.  Again, by everyone I mean people who don't actually follow comics.  And if there is one X-man that resonates with the ironic post-millennial antihero fuck-you affectation, it's Wolverine.  Which would be fine, except that Wolverine is a step backwards in superhero maturity.  First of all, Wolverine is the one that everyone likes because he's the one that everyone likes.  More importantly, consider the formula:


We've already established that Superman sucks, and that's exactly the template we're starting with.  The recipe for turning the Man of Steel into the Adamantium weasel?  Reduce and simplify his ethics to increase edginess.  Add five 'o clock shadow, cigars, and bourbon.  Take away flying, because flying is gay.  Scale back his strength.  Make him superficially vulnerable, but internally armored.  Add rapid healing factor to compensate.  Add claws, so he can make things bleed, and so he can interact with his environment in a more visceral manner.  Finally, add angsty brooding, and sideburns.


Long story short, they took Superman and added physical pain and emotional anguish, and necessitated a motorcycle.  He's still invincible.  You can make him bleed, but his internal organs are protected by all that adamantium.  He's the ultimate cutter.  Bullets bounce off him, but they really hurt.  Except that he always just shakes them off and goes back to spike-fisting everything.  Hell, according to Wikipedia, he shook off an atomic blast in Logan #2.  They essentially turned Superman into an insufferable, amoral prick.  A prepackaged antihero who is nonetheless consistently aligned with "the good guys".  

Ironically, by making these changes to the archetype they've gone all the way back to the original formula:  Simple wish fulfillment for a simple audience.  Wolverine is a hard-ass, a badass, a jackass, and an asshole.  He answers to no authority but his own, and is covered in chicks.  Furthermore, he's bound to no code of honor, he can take a punch, he can deliver one just as effectively (thanks to that metal skeleton), he's immortal and invincible.  And above all, he never had to work a day in his life to achieve any of it.  He is the perfect representative for a generation of slackers and knee-jerk iconoclasts.  Every problem Wolverine faces can be solved by punching it with spikes.  He makes no sacrifice of self, and he lacks a sufficient moral compass to be thwarted by quandary.  Unlike Batman who sees the world in black and white because of decades of study and reflection, Wolverine sees the world in black and white because it is easier than puzzling the problem out.


I think the differences between these heroes reveal a great deal about the cultural aspirations of the eras of their inception:  

Superman (1938) came from a time when we were striving to greatness from humble beginnings.  We collectively wanted to be a force of good, both at home and abroad.  Ethical and moral absolutism were the order of the day.  We needed to be reassured that the forces of righteousness would always prevail in the face of tyranny.  We needed an unassailable symbol to train the boys from childhood, who would be fighting in world war II.



Batman (1939) was a much needed corollary to Superman, Batman showed that moral absolutism could still be a dirty job.  If Superman laid the foundation for a concept of perfect heroism, Batman gave the blueprint for regular men to aspire to greatness in combat.  Power through work and knowledge.  The stoic unquestioning heroes of World War II were built on this framework.


Spider-man (1962) was introduced 9 years after the Korean cease fire armistice was signed - right as the United States was ramping up its military involvement in Vietnam.  As a society, we had learned the lesson that we could not have everything that we want.  We learned that it was necessary to prioritze, and that every goal came with a price.  In spite of this, Spider-man reflects the optimistic view of this conflict.  We were aspiring to master this ambiguity without abandoning the core values of goodness and justice.


Wolverine (1974) was introduced at the tail end of the Vietnam War.  For the first time in history, we were losing; and despite the government's best efforts to gloss over that fact, the broken and disfigured soldiers returning from the war (and those who did not return) erased any doubt that the conflict was not going as well as planned.  Having witnessed the fallability of our own nation, the decay of our ethics overseas, many began to question whether or not any of it was worth hanging on to.  Wolverine was born of this disillusionment.  A reflection of the real-life anti-heroes returning from Vietnam.  The lessons of Wolverine were the lessons of a quitter.  If morals and hard work weren't the path to victory, perhaps they hold no value at all.  Once the government has fed you an ounce of bullshit, don't stick around to eat the next pound.  Are these invalid points?  Perhaps not.  But they represent a desperate complacency.  An erosion of our national will to excel as individuals.  The death of our collective faith in honesty, honor, and justice as guiding principles.  The abandonment of hard work and accountability.


There was a time that our heroes embodied the loftiest goals of the human spirit.  The problem is, our goals aren't so lofty anymore.  Maybe it isn't Wolverine that sucks at all.  Maybe it's us, collectively - and Wolverine is merely the mirror to our culture's own escapist desires.  An outlet for our collective sense of betrayal, and the attendant nihilism that comes with it.  Are we shaped by our heroes, or is it they who are shaped by us?


On the other hand, I feel like it's the laziest path to take.  Removing extrinsic motivations and cultural limitations from the character in order to 'do what you want' is a return to the super charged toddler.  Devoid of responsibility, accountability, or any kind of desire to actually work to improve the world.  If this is the mirror of the aspirations of our culture, then we are all to blame for the shit-sack state of the world.


Writers like to use broodiness as shorthand for depth and complexity, but it really doesn't work that way.  Openly dealing with your internal issues would require far greater complexity, and would expose any depth that there was to work with.  Silent brooding is a device used by writers to avoid filling in the blanks, while giving the illusion of a backstory.  At best it is a method for padding out a thin plot.  At worst, it is a cheap way to cover up for the fact that you simply don't have anything to say.


Wolverine represents the failure to have something better to say.  If Superman was the embodiment of the best aspects of the American ideal, Wolverine is the embodiment of what's left - An immature, self-serving, spike-fisting sociopath with nothing to say and no meaningful contribution to make.


But most of all, fuck yellow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Era of the Mercenary Workforce

When I was a young child, back in the late 70s, it was one of the unquestionable constants of this world that after graduating, you would find a job somewhere and work there until the day you retire. This wasn't a specific thing you were told, so much as one of those 'sky is blue' type concepts that was passively reinforced everywhere you looked. You'd start down at the firm, or laboratory, or whatever, and keep working there until the day they hand you a pension check and a fancy engraved watch to commemorate your decades of service. You would extend unswerving fealty to your company, and in return they would see to it that your career progressed at an appropriate rate.

And so it was, that you would end up working 30 or more years with a single company becoming the world's foremost expert on -- I don't know -- drop-forged titanium angle-planishing sprocket design, or whatever the hell it is you were doing. Having worked so long for the same company, there'd be a handful of guys that you'd worked with your entire life - retiring right along with you. And then you'd spend every Tuesday and Wednesday for the rest of your life at the local pub with your old work buddies giving shit to the new guys, telling 'em how easy their jobs are compared to when you started - back when it took a team of five burly lads to manually chuck-hammer the slag pots before the axial magnesium pump could be re-primed for the tertiary sulfur wash, or whatever. And the young guys would give you shit about how much more they're producing, or how the product has changed - all in good fun. Every so often they'd come to you for your opinion on some new problem, because you'd retire as a legend in your field.

It was a system that made sense. You stay with the company because it's all you know how to do, and they keep you because you possess a level of skill that can only come from years of experience. Merit is rewarded, you get job security and steady raises, and they get the benefit of your well established knowledge.

That system is dead.

Which would be fine, except that no one seems to be willing to admit that.  A lot of kids are being sent out into the workforce with advice that hasn't been relevant for at least 30 years. On the first day we arrive in the corporate world, we are greeted with the carefully practiced smiles of those who will soon be our professional adversaries. We are reassured that the office politics which plague the industry aren't an issue at [Company name here]. We are made to attend endless seminars and meetings and team building exercises and are told to take personal responsibility for the outcomes in our department, to move above blame shifting and buck passing. We are told that success and failure comes as a team. We are told that achievement is rewarded, and that an open and creative process is valued. Some of us believed it. I believed it.

I drank that fucking Kool-Aid and waited for the god-damned spaceships.

Face it:  If you were smart enough to catch that reference without help, you wouldn't be reading my shitty blog
The problem with 'not playing politics' is that whether you think you are playing or not, you are standing on the field of combat. No matter how neutral you stay, no matter how focused on the job you are, no matter how cordial you are, someone will eventually decide that you are a threat to their ascent, and actively work to block your success at every opportunity. With so much of your workday dedicated to maintaining an unassailable defense via a process of undue diligence, there's scarcely any time left to get work done. The whole scenario eats your soul until after an average 2-4 years you either quit, or the company decides it doesn't need you anymore.

In most cases, managers are brought in from outside the department - often from outside the company. Advancement structures have been flattened in such a way that it is nearly impossible to make the jump to the next level of the organizational chart at one's own company. You can be promoted 20 times, and never rise to the level your boss was at on your first day.

The days of company loyalty are over. Welcome the age of the mercenary.

With every new epoch, there will be new rules to be followed. Constraints which, in their difference from previous methodologies, might be counterintuitive. I've listed a few of these below. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to chime in with your two cents in the comments section.


Every job is a temporary job

At least within the tech industry, it has become standard practice for companies to hire contractors (who don't actually match the legal requirements of contractors) and temps rather than employees. This shelters the company from certain costs and streamlines the termination process. One will generally begin their journey with a company as a temporary worker, enjoying such benefits as forced unpaid vacations, 'benefits packages' that cost nearly as much as you make and yet provide little benefit, furlough days, and that special joy that can only come from having a hair-trigger pink slip dangling over your career like the Sword of Damocles. Firing a contractor is a process involving a single phone call on monday morning. "Don't worry about heading into work today. Don't worry about heading into work tomorrow, for that matter. In fact, we'll just let you know if the client needs you to come in."

They won't. The difference between a technical contractor and toilet paper is that some people are careful to conserve toilet paper.

Even after you are brought on as a full employee, never forget that the moment the stock dips and upper management is looking to protect the value of their massive stock awards, your job can be performed by a 10 people in some third-world sweatshop who would collectively make a scant fraction of what they pay you. "But they couldn't do my job well," You might be saying. Have you called tech support lately? How well would you say Pradheep Channarayapatra handled your call?

The reason your skill level is irrelevant to this discussion, is that the people responsible for making these decisions have absolutely no idea what your company does, much less what your department does, or what you specifically do. It's irrelevant to their job. If you distill business ethics to its core, the sole responsibility of upper management is to deliver a solid return on investment to the shareholders. Moreover, as some of the largest shareholders themselves, they are uniquely motivated to do whatever it takes to post good numbers. This means the moment your job, department, or site can be cut, moved, or replaced for a short term gain on the P&L worksheet you're done for. It's not merely profitable to them on a personal level - it's the only ethical thing to do.


Loyalty is dead


I can't drive this home enough. If the lives of 20,000 people in Bolivia depend on your sticking around for a few months to complete a project and you're offered a better position, put in your two weeks and take the better position, because the moment you've completed your project, the company might not need you anymore.


You will never see an ounce of recognition or gratitude

No matter how far above or beyond the scope of your job you go, no matter what you accomplish, you will never once be truly appreciated. All you can do is make 'em pay up front. Get what you're worth, because it's the only thanks you'll ever get. Take advantage of every perk, claim every expense, and then keep the receipts and write them off your taxes on the back end. Use every minute of PTO, and never pay for printer paper or pens for personal use. Because when your process reforms save the company millions in wasted time and costs you won't see a single red dime for your efforts - though you might see your VP taking credit for your work in the company newsletter (he'll probably earn a massive bonus for it too).


Tell HR nothing - Tell your lawyer everything

If you have a grievance with management, remember this one rule: Human Resources is never on your side. In fact, Depending on where you sit in the hierarchy, there's a good chance they report to the same boss you do (or his boss, which is often just as bad). Even if HR comes to you, unbidden, due to widespread accounts of managerial misconduct, you should never, ever talk to the HR representative. If it is absolutely necessary to file a grievance, use that prepaid legal, and let your lawyer handle it.

Either way, once you've engaged the grievance process, you'd best shine up your resume, because in a few months you're about to be released because of 'unrelated circumstances'. Think you were laid off unfairly? Not if you want your severance pay, you don't. Faced with the spectre of an economy that is uncertain and bills that are not, you're going to shut your mouth and sign away your rights (which never held any real value anyway).


Socialize, but don't REALLY socialize

One of the most challenging situations you will ever face in the workplace is the office Christmas party. By which, I mean the 'mid-December semi-compulsory office gathering which just happens to take place the Friday before Christmas' - because you can't actually call it a Christmas party.

Let me preface what I'm about to say with the following: There isn't a person on this doomed and miserable rock that hates Christmas more than I do. Every time someone says 'Merry Christmas' to me, I involuntarily respond with a "Fuck you". I spend a week every year holed up in my room because I'm making an active effort to be less of a misanthropic douche.

I hate Christmas, I hate the specific subset of Christians who can't even be bothered to read the damn book for themselves and yet insist on shoving it in my face, and I hate the imaginary savior they strive relentlessly to project into other people's lives. That said, this is a predominantly Christian country with longstanding Christian heritage and traditions. Irrespective of my or anyone else's feelings towards these traditions, they shouldn't have to hide the true nature of these celebrations because it might make a small minority unhappy. "But what about the Jews and their celebration of Chaka Khan!?!" My imaginary straw man asks. Well, fuck the Jews. Relax, I mean that in this specific context, not in general. Bear in mind, I'm saying 'Fuck Me' in equal measure, here. Chaunakkanahhkana isn't even one of their 'high holidays'. Contrary to popular belief, Hanukkah is not Jewish Christmas. It's more like the Jewish version of Passover. If they want to live in a country where their holidays are publicly venerated, they can go to Israel. And if I want to go to a place where I won't have to hear about god, I can kill myself.

But I digress. When you're at this company Christmas party, there will inevitably be booze - usually of the free variety. Make no mistake, this is a test. "I'll just not drink anything, and I'll have the edge all night," you might be thinking. A good guess, but the wrong answer. By not drinking, you will put everyone around you on edge and develop a reputation of being lame. Worse still, people might assume that you can't drink - probably due to extreme alcoholism. If you can't drink, your best bet is not to go. You'll lose some credibility, but it's not irrecoverable.

On the other hand, you might be thinking "free hooch? I'd better soak up as much of that shit as I can!" I like the way you think, but you're still wrong. Work would be infinitely more bearable if you could establish some kind of common ground with the other people in your department. How much more effective could you be at work if you were able to drop pretense and relate to your coworkers, even your boss, as equals? And nothing levels the playing field like 98 shots and several gallons of cheap domestic lager shared between 14 people. Unfortunately, this approach doesn't work because nearly everyone is there to take advantage of an opportunity to kiss upper level ass outside of work.

The correct amount of alcohol to drink is exactly 1 drink, every 2 hours. This shows that you are the office casual version of cool, without establishing yourself as the office rummy. The correct time to leave is an hour early, or after two hours - whichever comes first. This establishes the impression that you participated despite pressing demands on your time outside of work.

Above all - never ever answer questions about your personal life in any detail. Here's an example:

"How are your kids?"

Wrong Answer: "My eldest is in jail for assault, and the younger child is pregnant."

Better Answer: "My eldest child is out of school now, and the younger one is growing so fast."

Best Answer: "They're doing great! How are your kids?"

It's an unfortunate reality, but no one really wants to hear how you are doing. They'll keep asking, and if you are prone to honesty, you'll want to answer. The question, 'How's it going?' really means 'How can I navigate this social interaction with as little time and effort as possible, without coming off like the disinterested prick I am?' The only correct answer is a one word affirmative (e.g. 'Fine', 'Marvelous', 'Fantastic', et cetera), followed by the same question in return. It isn't necessary to break stride in order to catch the answer. Similarly, 'Any plans for the weekend?' really means 'There's a weekend coming up, and I'm trying to gauge how many people are going to cut out early. Also, I'd like to navigate this social interaction with as little time and effort as possible without coming off like the disinterested prick I really am.' Correct answers to this inquiry are a bit more subtle - invariably some form of productivity (e.g. "Painting the study", "Yard work all weekend", "I've got to meet up with Doctors Without Borders in order to schedule my deployment"). The last impression you should ever give is that you use your days off in any recreational capacity. Of course, in reality nearly everyone is going to go home, sleep most of Saturday, and vegetate in front of the television on Sunday.


If three or more people above you in your department leave all at once, you're being hung out to dry

It doesn't matter if they are laid off, fired, transferred or if they quit, when the rats in management jump ship it's because they know something that you do not know. And when they leave without warning or explanation - and I'm not talking about that perfunctory email wishing them luck in their future endeavors - It's bad news all around.

First of all, there's a good chance that the department has had its funding scaled back, and middle management is jumping to safer shores while leaving you holding the bag of shit. In this case, whoever comes in to replace them will be tasked with whittling down the department to the minimum required skeleton crew, as understood by some jackhole in upper management who has no idea what your department does, what the company does, or what you or any one of your colleagues does. Even if you survive the cuts, you are now working for a rookie manager with no concept of your group's minimum operational requirements in an understaffed department juggling a workload that hasn't been scaled back to compensate. Even if you are doing the work of three people at the pace of two people, your annual review will take a hit for letting a third of your work fall behind. The fact that management has failed to allocate sufficient resources to perform the workload in the timeframe they require will be strangely absent from the notes in your review.

Even if your department's funding is intact, when your boss and his boss are replaced simultaneously, that means you're facing two levels of incompetence from above. There's going to be a lot of fucking up on their end, and shit rolls downhill. Bring an umbrella.


Conclusion

The point of all of this is to illustrate the factors that have killed loyalty in the workplace. Managers can't understand the needs of their employees because they never did front line work within their own departments. The lack of true upwards mobility within an organization encourages a nomadic lifestyle in order to find advancement opportunity, while actively penalizing employees who are loyal. Additionally, since a publicly traded company is only valuable as a commodity in times of growth, upper management has come to rely on mass layoffs, site closures, and outsourcing to artificially juice the value of a company's stock in the short term. Moving from organization to organization prevents the development of meaningful long-term professional relationships within the office and inhibits the development of a long standing team dynamic, sowing the seeds of distrust between front line employees and greatly reducing the long-term effectiveness of the business. By fomenting an environment of competitive distrust, efficiency is further reduced since employees are effectively required to dedicate a considerable portion of their time to playing the 'cover your ass' game.

I'm not saying that there's some sinister agenda at work creating this environment. I think the establishment of a mercenary workforce is a symptom of rational decisions made by rational people who are rewarded and penalized based on a system that is focused almost entirely on the short term. However, I contend that in the long term, the relentless pursuit of growth (as opposed to homeostatic sustained profit) to the exclusion of all other factors has unavoidable and deleterious effects on the economy.  In other words, rational behavior can differ based on timescale

As more jobs are shipped overseas in order to meet the demand for constant stock growth, there are even fewer people who are able to afford the goods and services produced, requiring further cost cutting (inevitably in the form of off-shoring more jobs). It is a negative feedback loop that left unchecked will eventually consume the economy as consumer confidence continues in its inevitable freefall.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not trying to fix the problem here - My ego isn't that big.  Besides, if we can manage to fuck this shitty economy all the way to absolute collapse, I won't have to put up with your stupid Christmas parties anymore.


Don't listen to cynical, burnt out dickheads like me

The world will be a better place if you ignore everything I've said so far. Refuse to play the game.

Stop treating the people you work with like opponents. Speak and act in earnest. Don't engage in schemes or malicious plotting. Don't participate - even passively - in spiteful gossip. Strive to hold the highest moral ground without being obnoxious about it. Work to develop a tight-knit relationship with your team. Don't be afraid to fail - and if you're going to fail, do so quickly. Don't let 'it's not my job' stop you from doing something great. Accept challenging assignments that force you to learn. Encourage people to bring a little weirdness to their work. Practice creative collaboration, and give collaborative credit. Ask questions. Answer questions. Look for opportunities to do more than the minimum. Take pride in your work, and try to enjoy yourself in the office. Approach your work with alacrity. Don't waste time filling a seat when there's no work to be done. Looking busy never accomplished anything. Either find more work, or go home. Take regular vacations, and actually go somewhere. Help others succeed. Celebrate achievements as a team. Don't waste time assigning blame: meetings dedicated to identifying blame cost money and solve nothing - a waste of money at any cost. If someone is constantly the cause of the problem, help them learn. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team, and be willing to trade off tasks to improve efficiency - but don't use that as an excuse to duck unsavory tasks. Be honest, but also nice. Where possible, speak highly of those in your team. Act as an agent of positive change, and encourage others to do the same.

Being a decent human being at work won't go unpunished. You will be treated like dog shit by those who are playing the angles. On the other hand, acting like a persistent cockstain all the time is its own punishment. Almost everyone is playing the game, so you'll probably be a loner if you try this. What I am suggesting here is an act of subversion from the ground up, and it probably won't work.

On the other hand, if you can convince your coworkers to stop wasting time on the game, If you can convince your peers to strive together to make work more livable, and if as a result your team is able to go balls deep on work, you just might get the VP to take credit for these results in the company newsletter.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Hazards of Chipmunk Love

Alvin and the gang are at it again.  Seeing as they've never recorded anything original, they've sunk to the lowest conceivable level and are covering Decemberists tunes.  But after years of drugs, alcoholism and bad blood, their professionalism is beginning to wane.


Don't let the title scare you off, imaginary reader:  This isn't a song about Richard Gere, or Richard Simmons, or Gene Simmons, or Gene Shalit, or Chaka Khan, or any of those guys.  It's all very straightforward drunk chipmunk stuff, and no one's fucking any animals unless you count the fact that the song is originally about a lady fucking a goat.  Technically, he's only half goat, but if you're daughter is fucking a guy that's half goat and half black, even the most racist, hate-filled colostomy bag in the world is going to object to the goat part.

That's OK, in another one of their songs a guy fucks a bird, so I guess that's just their thing.  Evidently, when you're listening to the Decemberists, it is inevitable that Colin Meloy is going to wax poetic about schtupping livestock and critters from the wetlands.

This whole article exists for the sole purpose of propping up my shitty video

I think this is really going to help narrow down my target audience.  Generally speaking, My work is too profane for children, and too silly for adults.  Most of my hits are coming from people searching some combination of the words "rape" and "van".  The rest of my hits are coming from people who are looking for proof that Scott Meisterheim is a Psychopath.

Once you factor out the readers I've alienated so far, all that's left are people with an unhealthy interest in psychopathy, and rape vans.  I figure, by adding a post about squirrels singing about a woman fucking a goat - I'll be able to ensure that anyone still visiting my weblog, while probably a psychopathic rapist with spacious ride, is into 'advanced animal husbandry', and thus unlikely to abduct me for an evening of duct tape and romance.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

An Open Letter to Kaddafi's Amazon Guard


The ugly face of unemployment
Dear Kaddafi's former bodyguards,


It's been a good handful of months since Kaddafi was 'removed from office'. Most of us, if not openly pleased by the death of a tyrant, were at least happy for the Libyan people to finally have this deeply symbolic victory over the harsh oppression of a cruel regime.


But it's not all cheering and celebration in Tripoli. In any conflict there is going to be collateral damage. Those who, caught in the crossfire, are caused to suffer. I refer, of course, to you - Kaddafi's all-female compliment of hundreds of highly-trained, nubile, sweet-smelling, virgin bodyguards.


With Kaddafi out of the picture, you poor young ladies are out of a job, and you don't even have a good reference to put on your resumes. Worse still, you completely dropped the ball in the defense of your previous employer. Not to rub salt in the wound, but keeping him alive was basically your entire job description - and you choked conclusively.


I just want to reach out to you ladies, and tell you "Hey, we've all been there before". It pains me to admit it, but one time I was a few days late with an important report at work, and it completely messed up several people's schedules costing the company hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars in wasted time. Mind you, it's time that would have been wasted after the meeting anyway, so the actual impact was negligible. Also, my boss is still alive, and that wasn't even part of my job description. What I'm trying to say is that I can imagine how hard it must be to recover from a workplace blunder like that.


I'll be honest with you: There's not a lot of people who are going to want to hire you. To use an American figure of speech that probably translates well in any language: You guys really screwed the pooch. You are hated in your own country as a symbol of past oppression. The remnants of the old guard are be given to certain, shall we say, 'abuses'. Through no fault of your own, you're out of places to go. You have no one to turn to.


However, I believe in second chances, because America is the land of second chances (no matter what that bitch Helen from HR says).  Just like it says on the Statue of Liberty "Give me your tired, your poor, your tender and unspoilt (or gently used) maidens between the ages of 16 and 35..."  Also, I think it says something about yearning.


And so, in spite of your past experience I want to offer you ladies a job as my personal guard. Part-Time.


Now, I won't be able to pay you right away, but I figure we can probably set you up with a ghost writer and we should be able to live off the proceeds quite comfortably. Do the talk show circuit, maybe some college lectures. Some modelling and stunt gigs. Maybe even some coyote work down on the border. I dunno - we'll brainstorm something when you get here. Speaking of which, you'll have to pay your own way over. Better still, you should all gang up and steal a military transport plane from the transitional government - that would be so cool.


Don't let the pay thing dissuade you. Salary is so 2001. These days, it's all about Total Compensation - a phrase that means counting your benefits as part of your pay, even if they're the exact same benefits you used to get when you were paid a lot more.  This makes it look like you're more successful than you actually are.  It's the latest craze here in the States - trust me, you'll love it.


You'll find that you get a lot of the same benefits that you had in your previous position. Like Kaddafi, I will allow you to continue wearing western hairstyles, makeup, and high heels if you so choose.  But I think you will find my benefits package is superior to the one you've had all these years. For example:
  • No one is trying to kill me, so your job will involve significantly fewer incoming bullets.
  • Flexible workweek means your free to pursue your other interests - like finding a side-job!
  • No more pesky chastity oath.
  • You will almost never be called upon to murder rebels as a sign of loyalty.
  • Rape-free work environment.
  • Casual Friday.


The entire job will mostly consist of walking around with me and looking badass wherever I go. Since I only leave the house for a few hours a few times a month, you will find that it's a laid back pace compared to what you are used to.


Now I know some people out there are going to read some kind of perversion into this. They'll accuse me of trying to fulfill some kind of bawdy man-fantasy involving 200 or more fit, lethal women oiling me down in my romper room in a figurative orgy of hedonism and literal orgies. To them I say: That is absurd. I don't even HAVE a romper room! Here I am, reaching out to these brave young women in their hour of fragility, at a time when everyone else has done nothing, and you have the nerve to accuse me of impropriety?


Detractors aside, I can assure you the thought of licentious misconduct hasn't even entered my mind. To me, the thought of having hundreds of beautiful bodyguards seems like a completely utilitarian thing. As my personal lethal entourage you'll help me accomplish common everyday tasks. Things like:
  • Helping me get to the front row of 'Festival Seating' shows.
  • Convincing bouncers to let me into the club.
  • Slashing the tires of every person who ever cuts me off in traffic. 
  • Wacky flash mobbing.
  • Waiting on hold for me when I have to call tech support.
  • Serving as my armada of 'Wingmen' at the bar, to help me pick up chicks.
  • Tasting foods likely to be poisoned (e.g. bananas, popsicles, foot long hot dogs, et al.).


I hope you ladies will consider this exciting employment opportunity. I'll admit, its not great work, but it's better than your last job, and a lot less dangerous. With your help, I will one day be able to say "I've got 99 problems, but 200 bitches ain't one"


Your only friend,
Generalissimo Avery

P.S. Please include a headshot with your resume