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Work or Blogging?

12 Jun

Ten reasons blogging is more important than paid employment.Image

Having a job really eats into your day—and can be disastrous to your blog. For months I was posting at least twice weekly until a surge in workload swamped my progress and washed out my SEO value. I don’t know how some of these bloggers manage to pump out quality posts almost daily yet still feed themselves and, presumably, live someplace more comfy than a refrigerator box under the overpass.

To regain my blog-mindedness, I’ve come up with ten reasons to make the big sacrifice.

  1. As with love, you can probably live on blogging alone. (So I’ve heard, anyway.)
  2. Consistent blogging will probably lead to a multimillion-dollar book offer by a leading publishing house. (Just like what’s-her-name, you know… um…..)
  3. The world as a whole will benefit more from your wise and witty literary contributions than your family will benefit from a balanced diet. (Your kids can always apply for free school lunches to make up the gap.)
  4. No matter which career option you choose, you still won’t be able to afford health insurance. (Ha-ha, that’s not even a joke.)
  5. You don’t have to shower, shave, or even get dressed to become a successful blogger. (This is true, even for video bloggers.)
  6. On your deathbed, you won’t wish you had spent more time at work; but the jury is still out on blogging. (Just count it as “family time”—you make them read all your content, right?)
  7. With blogging, you can at least pretend that other people are greatly interested in and appreciative of your opinions. (At least, you can’t see them flip you off.)
  8. You’re just as likely to become famous by spewing derivative content online as by working long years as a “knowledge worker” in a white-collar industry. (Even embezzlers can’t get much press coverage anymore, unless they have access to a social media platform.)
  9. If you promise to post a 10-item list on your blog, but can only think of nine things, there’s no manager around to give you grief about it. (In fact, you might even be able to turn it into a joke for some creative traction.)

20 Random Things to Have an Opinion About

12 Mar

20 questions, volume 1

Are you a conversational pushover? Do loud, obnoxious people give you grief about not being able to hold your own in a serious discussion? Are you looking for obscure issues to have concrete opinions about, so you can trick people into thinking you have intellectual depth?

Maximum Know-How is here for you, with this premier edition of 20 issues—some of them even currently relevant—that you can think about now so that you’re ready with a snappy observation should the topic ever arise in a social setting.

  1. Most dangerous: Iran or- North Korea?
  2. Least trustworthy: China –or- Russia?
  3. Lance Armstrong: Devious jerk –or- moral leper?
  4. Whose Line is back: Are you “ecstatic” –or- “euphoric”?
  5. Pepper Pots –or- Natasha Romanoff?
  6. Obamacare: President’s sincere attempt to improve our healthcare system –or- pushing wholesale socialism with his eyes wide shut?
  7. Bee Gees –or- Beach Boys?
  8. Rotten Tomatoes –or- IMDB?
  9. Loss of Olympic wrestling: IOC corruption –or- cultural shift?
  10. Doctor Whoor- Downton Abbey?
  11. Joe Flacco’s $120.6 million contract: Totally worth it –or- Totally ludicrous?
  12. Sequester: Typical political grandstanding –or- Brilliant, under-the-counter way for both sides to cut the budget drastically while getting to blame the other party?
  13. A-Rod’s fading career: End of an era –or- It’s about time?
  14. Adele’s “Skyfall” wins Oscar: Best Bond tune ever –or- Academy’s 50th b-day gift to the franchise?
  15. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Hang ‘em up –or- keep on shooting?
  16. Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster: A bold statement for civil rights –or- “I thought his name was Ron Paul”?
  17. Pixar: Death throes –or- just in a rut?
  18. More Bourne –or- more Mission: Impossible?
  19. New pope: Heavenly selection –or- political appointment?
  20. Daily Show’s Stewart going on hiatus: The man needs a vacation from fake news –or- What do you mean it’s not real?

What to Do When It’s Time to Die

8 Mar

Death touched my family this last week. This is the closest it’s come, but the relationship was distant enough that I feel melancholy, but not threatened. That said, I lay in bed this morning sifting through cultural memes about what mindset I should adopt when facing death. You know, those “live each day as if it’s your last” or “eat, drink, and be merry” or “last chance to save—sale ends tomorrow.”

So what would I do if this was my last day? I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here writing this. In fact, the computer wouldn’t even get turned on. Work, email, video games, Facebook, the endless halls of distraction afforded by the web—all seem trite and pointless when set against one’s mortality. International affairs, sports, local news, movie trailers—all my usual Internet haunts are now hollow and joyless. The only thing I’d consider is watching Whose Line clips on YouTube. Yeah, I might do that on my last day.

Meal-wise, I’d be eating out because a healthy diet won’t do me any good now, and who wants to die with dirty dishes in the sink? I’d hit a breakfast buffet, and get a teriyaki bowl for lunch. For dinner… I’ll decide that later.

Now, how to spend the day? Exercise—like jogging or the gym—is unappealing, but I would like a hike in the crisp sunshine. I wouldn’t go too far afield in case I expire on an obscure mountain trail and end up traumatizing some poor Boy Scouts on a day hike, or requiring the Forest Service to spend $450,000 (or whatever) to extract my remains by helicopter. I think the local nature park would suffice. Maybe take a drive out to the bird sanctuary south of town.

Interestingly, my lifelong media obsession has dried up. Movies and books would take up too much of my day, TV is inane (I’ve long known that), and music—what fits the mood? Dance music is about living, rock music is about anger and alienation, classical music takes too long, hymns are perfect for reflection and contentment. But I want to spend the day living, not reflecting. To my surprise, I chose Nanci Griffith’s cover album, Other Voices, Other Rooms, but I’d skip the really depressing tracks.

What I should do is spend my last day surrounded by family and friends. But it’s short notice to set up a big party, and telling them why they should come see me would poison any chance at a fun gathering. I thought about calling them up (totally out of the blue) to chat, but if I didn’t share my news, they’d feel guilty for having a meaningless conversation, or angry at me for keeping them in the dark. Instead, I think I should spend an hour or two writing thank-you notes by hand—“thank you for being part of my life” sorts of things.

Of course, there’s also the urge to devote myself to a day of reckless abandon, law-breaking, drug use, telling jerks what I really think of them, blurring my mind with booze. But I’ve always preferred clarity and peace, so why ruin it now?

In the end, I suppose I’d spend the day doing and saying nice things for others, whether I knew them or not. Picking up litter during my hike, opening the door for strangers at the restaurants, being patient with children and strangers, being sincere and open with family and friends. I assume God knows I’m coming, so I’d keep in touch with Him through the day in case there was any last-minute business He wanted me to take care of.

But of course, I don’t expect to die tomorrow. So I’ve finished my heart-healthy breakfast, worked on some B2B marketing brochures, and written a blog post. I think I’ll go for a walk this afternoon, though, before the kids get home from school.

How to Be an Internet Troll

19 Feb

Seven steps to losing your soul online: 

A troll's true joy

What with the decline of Nazi-centric movies—along with the social pressure to respect foreign cultures and civilizations even if they’re harboring terrorists—our society is experiencing a shortage of despicable cultural icons. Luckily, nature abhors a vacuum so we’ve seen that gap filled with the Internet Troll, a truly hateful individual who is a cultural composite of a hacker, serial killer, and Beavis and Butt-head. And judging by the number of trolls stomping their way through the comments section of many an online news article, it’s apparently become a highly lucrative and satisfying occupation. So if the recession has left you underemployed or worse, here’s your guide to becoming the plague of Internet culture.

  1. Absolve yourself of all ethics. Nothing is below your contempt; no tragedy is unworthy of your scorn. Millions dead? Children tortured? Widespread pain, suffering, and hopelessness? LOL, that’s entertainment.
  2. Absolve yourself of all allegiances. You do not endorse a political party, a religion, a sports team, a rock band. You are “pro-nothing.” You will never be supportive of anything except maybe whimsical genocide and your own hubris.
  3. Create your persona. It’s best to make multiple disposable identities, each appropriate for a certain venue. Each persona’s name should be inspired by some degenerate practice or brutal obscenity. And if your avatars don’t evoke scandalized embarrassment or vomiting, you haven’t applied yourself.
  4. Seek appropriate venues. The best places to inflict yourself upon others are those corners of the web that involve emotion, such as amateur fan sites or local news postings on hot-button issues. Avoid heavily commercialized sites that can afford moderators (unless you are advanced enough to communicate without profanity).
  5. Choose your prey. Your enemy is not a person, not an idea, but a practice. Precise, respectful, well-reasoned discussion is anathema. Politeness and morality your bane. For novice trolls, simply seek out emotional posters to taunt—watch for all-caps, misspellings, and heavy use of exclamation marks, and you’ll have your target.
  6. Strike without honor or restraint. Remember steps 1 and 2: You are thoughtless, soulless, free from integrity or morals. Insult, demean, condemn. Engage with flawed logic, answer rebuttals with abuse, refuse to see reason. Your role model is Sauron on a bad day—but more capricious, more volatile.
  7. Keep telling yourself it’s “just for fun. To keep up your intensity, you must convince yourself that everything you write is “harmless hate.”  Your online persona is not the real you, not even some hidden personal id you are setting free. It’s just a game—like those console games of simulated murder you play for hours late into the night. Counseling is unnecessary, and family and friends would probably think your posts were funny if they knew they came from you. (But don’t tell them. Trust us.)

Good “step-up” jobs for retired Internet trolls:

  • Political pundit
  • Radio shock-jock
  • Celebrity journalist

Pin-it Quotes: Bad Valentine’s Day Gifts

12 Feb

Bad Valentine's Day Gift #12

Bad Valentine's Day Gift #15

Bad Valentine's Day Gift #16

Bad Valentine's Day Gift #18

Bad Valentine's Day Gift #22

Bad Valentine’s Day Gifts

7 Feb

23 items you should definitely NOT give your significant other

Bad Valentine's Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is only a week away, so it’s time to start thinking of the perfect offering to hand your loved one next Thursday. For those people who tend toward last-minute panic buying—for example, those who race to the local drug store at 11:30 the night before trying to remember their companion’s favorite type of candy bar—Maximum Know-How has your back. We understand that panicked procrastinators often practice poor decision-making in the heat of the moment, thinking that a really bad gift idea will be just the thing to show their love and devotion. To help protect these vulnerable shoppers from (usually well-deserved) post–Valentine’s Day wrath, we offer this list of what not to give on Valentine’s Day—even if it’s on sale and you can find it fast.

  1. Coupon for a free consultation at the weight-loss center
  2. Vacation tour package to Damascus
  3. Lance Armstrong–related collectibles
  4. Composting worm farm that fits under the bed
  5. Your Christmas wish list
  6. Bouquet of artificial flowers (“Now we never have to waste money on fresh ones again!”)
  7. PB&J sandwich, even if it’s on “savory buttermilk” bread
  8. Your favorite children’s picture book
  9. Self-published, psuedo-celebrity nonfiction (e.g., Beyonce’s Guide to the Illuminati, The Complete Lindsay Lohan Court Transcripts)
  10. Tickets to Super Bowl XLVII
  11. Bulletproof ski mask
  12. Gift basket of leftover fast-food condiment packets (ketchup, hot sauce, etc.)
  13. Half-burnt candles
  14. Household cleaning supplies
  15. Cheap collection of knock-off music covers (Greatest Hits of the 80’s—Dubstep Style! reimagined by DJ Snazzy Biff and his Uptown Homeys Orchestra)
  16. A Voldemort mask
  17. Frozen vegetables
  18. Bank bag of dye-stained money (“No, I don’t hear a bullhorn”)
  19. Meth
  20. A large, dead, game animal ready for butchering
  21. Economy basket of pre-loved stuffed animals from the thrift store
  22. Do-it-yourself tattoo kit
  23. Nothing (“I refuse to contribute to global warming by surrendering to the mindless consumerism of some pseudo-religious, nationalized marketing conspiracy”)

Subliminal Super Bowl Advertising

4 Feb

An investigative glance at what Madison Avenue is really telling us.

Whew! That was a BIG game! Those Ravens! Those Niners! Okay, I didn’t watch it, but I’m sure it was just as momentous as every previous mega-hyped sporting event was purported to be. What really interests me—and most other people—are the commercials that cost up to $4 million for 30 seconds of air time. Those must be absolutely transcendent in order to merit such a payout. But what sort of subliminal messaging is Madison Avenue filling our minds with? What are these colossally expensive commercials really telling us?

True Messages of Best and Worst Super Bowl Commercials:

Cars

  • Audi: “Prom”—Driving an Audi promotes reckless behavior, invites violence.
  • Volkswagen: “Get in. Be Happy.”—As with certain other illicit activities, even brief exposure to a Volkswagen affects your mood and leads to impaired speech.
  • Toyota: “Wish Granted”—Men have no imagination, and women don’t listen to them anyway.
  • Mercedes Benz: “Soul”—Though he remains a master of short-sighted seduction, even the devil is feeling the influences of a down economy.
  • Kia: “Space Babies”—Parents will go to great lengths, and car companies will spend exorbitant amounts on non-car-related CGI, to avoid talking about the core issue.

Technology

  • BlackBerry: “What It Can’t Do”—The new BlackBerry Z10 is so far behind its production schedule that the company doesn’t know its actual features yet.
  • Samsung: “The Next Big Thing”—Well-funded ad executives can control anyone.
  • Best Buy: “Asking Amy”—Women may give salespeople lots of grief, but they’ll still buy too much stuff.
  • GoDaddy.com: “Perfect Match”—An allegory of Internet porn, which, judging by the look on Danica’s face, GoDaddy recognizes has degraded our standards of good taste and morality, but… whatever. How much do I get paid for this?
  • E-Trade: “Save Money”—No, really, we insist: Day-trading on the Internet will make you rich from all the money you don’t spend on fees. It’s a “spend more, save more” kind of logic. Get it? C’mon, even the baby gets it.

Movies/TV

  • Paramount: “Star Trek Into Darkness”—The horn section from Inception found another gig.
  • CBS: “Practice”—David Letterman can be funny without even trying.
  • Marvel: “Iron Man 3”—Iron Man learned how to be awesome by playing Wii Resort.
  • Universal: “Fast and Furious 6”—Forget Seal Team Six. What this nation needs is a team of ex-con highly coordinated drivers to save the world. Plus lots of women in bikinis.
  • Paramount: “World War Z”—No, America isn’t tired of zombies yet. But now we have to use top talent to keep them relevant.

Food and Drinks

  • Coke: “Security Camera”—Drink manufacturers are watching you.
  • American Dairy Farmers: “More Milk”—Spoil your kids with whatever they want, and the world will go to pot.
  • Taco Bell: “Viva Young”—Mexican-themed fast food is like heroin to old people whose diet restrictions prevent them from having it.
  • Pistachios: “Gangnam Style”—Suggestive sexual undertones of Psy’s K-Pop megahit apply even to tree nuts. Nasty.
  • Budweiser: “Brotherhood”—Yes, even some of the greatest songs of the 20th century are up for sale—and you can’t do anything about it! Ha ha! (Here, have a drink to make the pain go away.)

Other

  • Calvin Klein: “Concept”—Attention all you men lounging around on the couch for hours eating fried, fatty food. You, too, can look like this if you wear the right brand of underwear.
  • Skechers: “Man vs. Cheetah”—Your clothing not only makes you look different, it vastly improves your physical abilities. (See Calvin Klein ad above.)
  • Tide: “Miracle Stain”—Perhaps the devil should switch from Mercedes Benz drivers to sports devotees, who are easier prey for cheap miracles.
  • Speed Stick: “Laundry”—Beautiful women in tank tops hang out at the Laundromat. But that doesn’t make them easy.
  • Century 21: “Wedding”—Let’s distract you from the fact that the housing market is still in the toilet with this lesson: If you spend as much money on your wedding as they did here, you’ll be living with your mother-in-law. Ha ha, just kidding. There’s actually a foreclosure right down the block that’s perfect for you.

What are some others that I missed?