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Here begins satire and plentiful humor. Beware.

Nearly Half of Conversations Now Involve Facebook; Researchers See Further Rise Ahead

A new study out of Upland Downs University has found that nearly half of conversations in the real world start with some variant of, “You know what I just saw on Facebook?” The study used observers placed in coffee shops, train stations, and public parks to record thousands of unprompted exchanges between friends, family members, and complete strangers, and found that 47.2 percent of conversations that could be observed depended on material posted in a speaker’s Facebook feed. This rate was up from 26% two years ago and just 16% in 2010.

fbdinnerThe lead author of the study was Lavinia Loope, a professor of communications at Upland Downs, and she argues that this phenomenon is driven by the “lowest conversational denominator effect.” Says Loope, “It takes energy and effort to sustain any conversation, and so people will naturally look for the lowest effort point of shared interest or knowledge. Today, that low point is Facebook.” She also points out that people crave approval, and repeating something funny you saw on Facebook is an easy way to get that reward.

fbgraph2The study, which was published in the Journal of Implied Outcomes, also predicted that the percentage of conversations based on Facebook will peak at 97% in 2017. At that point, nothing new will be posted on Facebook, due to the fact that everyone will only be talking about what’s already on Facebook. This will usher in what the researchers call the “helicopter phase,” in which Facebook memes will go around and around, keeping the percentage of conversations based on Facebook at 97%, until everyone realizes that they’ve seen and talked about everything on Facebook already, at which point the percentage will collapse.

For those readers curious about what the future holds, the remaining three percent of conversations will be about traffic, weather, and intestinal ailments. Those subjects cannot be completely eradicated.

The researchers used two models to form these hypotheses, one from the world of epidemiology and one based on studies of the changes in predator and prey species populations over time. “Whether you think of Facebook as a parasitic streptococcal bacterium or a vicious member of the mustilidae family, commonly known as weasels, the result is the same,” says Loope. “Facebook destroys normal conversation up until the point when there are no hosts or prey left, and then Facebook collapses.”

fbbreathlessThe paper also discusses some of the likely effects of this boom-bust cycle on other aspects of daily life and economic activity. For instance, by the first quarter of 2018, Facebook will employ 12% of the global population. The eventual implosion of the company will lead to global economic depression. Given the tendency of videos and photos to draw more attention than plain text on the social network, literacy rates will decline by 26% worldwide and the art of writing will largely disappear, being sustained only in a few remote places without broadband access.

Posted in Frontiers of Knowledge | Comments closed

The Stoneslide Snap Contest

Win a pass to the April 2015 AWP conference.

We love writers. We love the writers who contribute to Stoneslide. We love the writers who read Stoneslide. We love the writers whose work we read.

If you fall into one of those categories, know that we love you.

Since we love you, we’d like to make your life a little easier. We have one available badge for admission to the 2015 AWP Conference available, and we’d like to give it to a writer we love. If you are thinking of going anyway, this will save you a few shekels.

So here’s what we’re doing… a snap contest for flash fiction. Send us a story up to 666 words. There is no entry fee. We’ll choose one story that we think is the strongest, and the author of that story will receive the badge.

Interested? You can submit your work here.

The details:

One badge for entry to AWP 2015. By accepting this badge, you have no obligation to represent Stoneslide in any way, but we do hope you’ll visit our table to say hello.

Contest opens September 8
Entries due by October 3
Notification made on October 28

The contest is open to any previously unpublished work of fiction up to 666 words in length. Each individual may submit up to two works. All submissions will also be considered for publication under our standard terms.

Again, here is the submission page.


  • All work submitted must be original and never published before.
  • All submissions will be read blind, meaning that the readers and judges will only see the title and body of the story before making a judgment.
  • Simultaneous submissions are permitted, but you must withdraw a work immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • The contest will be judged by the editors of The Stoneslide Corrective.
  • Family members of the editors and editorial staff are ineligible to enter.
  • Stoneslide will provide the AWP badge to the winning author. The badge will provide access to the conference. It cannot be exchanged, traded, or redeemed for any other prize. It is what it is.
Posted in The Stoneslide Chorus | Comments closed

Guest Rejections from Author Will Mayer

The Rejection Generator is a labor of love for Sylvester Stonesman. He spends more time with the machinery than with his wife or his children or his aging parents. Because the Generator is in the basement of Stoneslide headquarters, those people often come here seeking him, but we don’t answer the door, and they go away. We frequently glimpse Sylvester stroking pistons, buffing pins and rods, and tenderly cleaning dust out of sprockets, and we have more than once wondered if his deep devotion to helping writers (the reason he invented the machine) has morphed into some form of misguided obsession with the means alone. But then the day comes when he emerges from the basement to tell us of another feature he has built into the machinery or a new mechanism for enhancing the preventive agony inflicted by it.

This week, he stuck his face out of the basement door and announced that The Generator could now automatically produce rejection letters based on the style and imagination of any living writer. The author in question needs only to provide a few milliliters of blood, a cheek swab, a list of at least 14,000 influences with brief explanations of what each has meant to her or him, and transcripts of seventeen hours of psychotherapy sessions focused on rejection. The machine does the rest.

We have not yet been able to find a willing participant for this feature. But this week’s author, Will Mayer, kindly volunteered to write a few rejections himself. We fed those into the Generator manually, and it found them pleasing.

Experience them yourself.


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Back-to-School Gift Assist: Get What’s Yours

Kids, school is right around the corner. Have you thought about what you’ll do if your parents try once again to take credit for your successes? Say you and a couple friends beat the crap out of the pedophile gym teacher and you, as the initiator, face the worst repercussions. You make it out of Youth Authority intact and get admitted to a different school. Yet it’s your parents who receive praise from relatives and family friends for being “so supportive” of you in this “difficult time.” You’re the one who rid the district of a predator! Stop all that misdirected praise immediately with the latest from Stoneslide Giftworks: the Glory Shall Be Mine Fist®.

fist2The Glory Shall Be Mine Fist delivers a blow to the face or body of anyone you direct it toward.

Maybe you kill it on the SATs and do all that other overachiever BS, and your parents’ friends say how “proud” they must be, as if they have anything to do with your intellect other than an egg that lay there and a sperm that ran into it. What a twisted helix of self-aggrandizing, contemptible bowel movements your parents are! Have them be done with their simultaneous attention-seeking and false modesty once and for all, with the Glory Shall Be Mine Fist.

Made of basalt and an industrial-grade steel alloy, its spring-loaded, fist-shaped ball is suitable for injuring parents, relatives, or anyone else who tries to make it seem like you have nothing to do with your very own triumphs. They are all, every last one of them, lying cul-de-sacs of failure. Don’t take it anymore. Tell your parents to keep their grabby mitts off your successes in the most effective manner you can, with the Glory Shall Be Mine Fist.

Available online and at most good skate shops.

More Stoneslide Gift Assists

See It before They Do: The Loser-Diluter Handyscan
Prevent Fatherly Tomfoolery

Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

Back-to-School Gift Assist: Prevent Fatherly Tomfoolery

Your hell-raising dad’s hell-raising friends are coming over. You have homework on fractions and your state capitols to memorize. You’re in so much trouble with your teacher about your homework, your fighting, and some of the language you use on her tests and quizzes that you would really rather these idiots not be invading your house. The only good thing about these get-togethers—that your dad lets you sip off his beer—has lost its novelty, although not its allure. Also, one of these fuckers inevitably comes into your room, picks up your cheap-but-still-meaningful-to-you, Japanese-made, Gibson SG rip-off, and knocks it out of tune, a couple times even breaking a string. If you stop them, or even just say something, you get the shit kicked out of you after they leave.

Stoneslide Giftworks has the solution. Keep unsavory parental friends out of your home with the inflatable Fatherly Tomfoolery Fort®.

The Fatherly Tomfoolery Fort has 30-foot walls that shoot up around the house as soon as the airlock is released. The walls are made from materials developed by Russian industrialists in consultation with former KGB and Stasi operatives and will repulse a nail fired from a pneumatic gun. The Fort is also heat-proof and will not succumb to bonfires, M-80s, adult-male flatulence, road flares, motorcycle exhaust pipes, or the breath of scotch, bourbon, or rye drinkers.

tomfooleryThe Fort deploys in just 15 seconds. Such quickness means even a last-minute “I’m in the neighborhood” visit can be thwarted.

When undeployed, the Fort takes up no more space than a garden hose.

For apartment dwellers, the Fatherly Tomfoolery Fort Mini® shoots a C-shaped wall up into the air right in front of your door. The wall rises no less than seven feet and no more than 16 feet, and will not damage aging plaster or popcorn ceilings.

The easy-to-use “Thank God They Gave Up and Left” latch safely deflates both the Mini and standard models, after which they can be rolled up and stored until needed again. With a self-recharging air canister, the Fort and Fort Mini last through thousands of deployments.

Finally, you may be thinking, “Well, this’ll be great the first time I use it, but my parents will just confiscate it after I deflate it.” Don’t worry. We have you covered. Our SmartFiber™ material can detect the age, via a person’s skin elasticity and mean hydration level, of someone touching the Fort or Fort Mini and automatically repulses anyone over the age of 21 with an electric shock. Anyone wearing gloves is shocked automatically, and the use of rubber gloves results in the release of sarin gas.

Now, your other concern probably is, even if my parents can’t confiscate the Fatherly Tomfoolery Fort, I’ll still get the crap beat out of me after the first use (and all subsequent uses). We’ve thought of that. Your safety, amid all that dysfunction, is our main concern here at Stoneslide Giftworks. So, we now direct you to another new Stoneslide gift assist: the Glory Shall Be Mine Fist®.

Face it, now that you’re a fourth-grader you have to take care of yourself. At just $49.95 (and only $29.95 for the Mini), Stoneslide’s Fatherly Tomfoolery Fort is a tool for modern living you can’t afford not to buy. You could probably get those kinds of funds together with just four or five riflings of your mother’s purse.

More Stoneslide Gift Assists

See It before They Do: The Loser-Diluter Handyscan
Back-to-School Gift Assist: Get What’s Yours

Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

Back-to-School Gift Assist—See It before They Do: The Loser-Diluter Handyscan


You’re the kid who’s been bullied since second grade. It’s obvious why, right? You’re skinny, tall, and uncoordinated. You play wizard games, or worse, “house,” at school. You painted your fingernails that one time in fourth grade. You wear cotton sweatpants. Your parents are Wiccans. You still carry a lunchbox.

But it’s back to school and time to retool. You’re entering sixth grade—middle school!—and it’s your chance for a new beginning. A fresh opportunity to define yourself!

You need the Loser-Diluter Handyscan. This nifty tool fromStoneslide Giftworks will scan your body for any and all signs of dorkism. How does it work?

Before leaving for school each morning, stand before the Loser-Diluter Handyscan and let it work its magic. It’ll alert you to the lice on your head, your faded Harry Pottert-shirt, your fisherman sandals, even the eczema on your elbows. It can see inside pockets for that nail clipper you keep using during class. It can scan your lunch bag—no more lunchbox for you—for Wasa crackers and the sandwiches your mom cuts into dinosaur shapes.

Then, the Loser-Diluter Handyscan makes suggestions for alternatives. Switch out those six-to-a-pack crew socks for Nike Elites. Trade in your wire-rimmed glasses with the adjustable nose pad for Ray-Ban Jr. frames. Swap your pocket edition of The Hobbit for this month’s Maxim magazine. The Loser-Diluter offers you website links and QR codes for products you can purchase or alternative styles you might try. You can view the report onscreen or send it wirelessly to your parents’ printer.

As an added convenience, you can remove the scanner from its standing bracket and use it as a handheld device. This allows you to take the scanner with you to scan and decode the dorkiness prevalent on your bicycle, your parents’ cars, your house and yard…even in your friends!

Customer testimonials

“I scanned my bike, and the Loser-Diluter immediately told me to remove my Schwinn squeeze horn. It was a quick fix, and I was off to school in less than five minutes.”

“Viewing my parents’ car through the Loser-Diluter really opened my eyes. I took a razor blade to their Equal Rights and ‘Proud Parents of a Davis Bell Honor Student’ bumper stickers. Did a little damage to the bumper, but at least those annoying messages are gone.”

“I was so used to it being there that Ildilute stopped noticing the Lego Star Wars Chewbacca keychain on my backpack. But when the Loser-Diluter picked it up in its scan, I saw its douchey qualities so clearly. I was able to make the adjustment before the start of eighth grade, and it’s really made a difference. I have my first girlfriend!”

We realize your parents may not be willing to fork out the money for all the sweet clothing and accessories the Loser Diluter will suggest, but don’t worry. It’s summer now, and often kids are home alone or with very limited supervision. Use that to your advantage!

  • Your parents pass you off onto friends over the summer, no doubt. Go into your buddy’s siblings’ rooms and filch those kids’ gift cards. Use the bro’s Lids gift card for a new baseball cap; use the sister’s Sally Beauty gift card for some hair gel.
  • While you’re at other kids’ houses, you might notice that some families have jars of change right out on the counter! You can get away with taking most of the quarters without anyone knowing.
  • And if your friend’s cool factor is high, steal his stuff!


You can start bragging. Committing petty crimes will raise your reputation, because crime is cool!

  • Plug-and-play technology makes it easy to install
  • Superior USB interface wirelessly transmits data to your smartphone, tablet, or computer
  • CCD light sensors scan from up to 12″ away at 5 mm resolution and 230 scans per second
  • High quality ABS plastic ensures long life. Ergonomic design feels comfortable in the hand
  • Weighs 5.6 oz.; measures 6.3 x 2.4 4.2 inches (H x L x W)


Package includes:

- 1 x Scanner

- 1 x English-language user manual

- 1 x Standing bracket

- 1 x USB data cable

Forego the dangerous once-over from the popular kids. The Loser-Diluter Handyscan looks you over before school the way the bullies do at school. Now you can stroll confidently onto school grounds knowing you don’t stand out. Your puny body and fragile ego will be spared, and your parents will save on doctor, dentist, and psychologist bills.
Go from lame-ass to badass with the Loser-Diluter Handyscan!


See  Stoneslide holiday gift assists:

Silent Night and Day

Rudolph the Red-Cheeked Sobriety Buddy

Keep Your Nosy Parents Out of Your Activities


Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

By All Means, Carry On

We at The Stoneslide Corrective recently came across this item on the wires and thought our readers would want to know about it:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Coming back from your latest open-carry demonstration, are you ever hit with that sinking feeling? You know, the feeling that you just haven’t done enough? Sure, you walked through the aisles of the Chili’s with your Glock in your holster. You heard everyone get quiet as they noticed. You watched the hipsters who can’t handle freedom slide out the restaurant’s side door. But you still feel like people don’t get it. They don’t understand how important guns are to every facet of life.

That ignorance is exactly what will enable the tyranny to creep into our lives. You are right to be worried.

But now CunningGun Inc introduces a range of firearms lifestyle products that will empower you to show the world that guns matter ALL the time. ALL the friggin’ TIME! The Second Amendment cannot be confined to shooting ranges and hunting. You shouldn’t let it be.


Available in liberty-loving gun shops today:

PuffaLavender™ scented ammunition. There’s nothing like the smell of a clean house. And there’s nothing like the smell of gunpowder in the morning, noon, and night. Now while you or the wife do the housework, fire off a round of our PuffaLavender™ scented ammunition and fill the room with the perfect melding of a flower garden and a hot firefight. Our patented, super potent scent crystals explode into the room, spreading the smell of freedom. Available as blanks and as live rounds.

GustaWind™ picnic kit. Open the top of this peaceful-looking picnic basket and you uncover the makings of a perfect day. Inside the main compartment is a holster that will accommodate any make or model of sawed-off shotgun. But, you think, I may be picnicking in a park that doesn’t allow shooting, won’t I just be frustrated looking at my Remington and not being able to squeeze the trigger? No, the GustaWind™ set comes with a special shotgun-powered drink mixer. Fill the barrel muzzle-load style with your favorite concoction—works great with lemonade mix, rum and Coke, or Kahlúa—then aim your gun at the target glass, fire, and the energy of your shot is converted to mixing power by our patented mechanism. Mixing drinks for your whole party may require multiple shots, but that only adds to your fun. As an additional benefit, small-minded picnickers who don’t appreciate the sheer joy of a weapon discharge are likely to move away and leave you and your party more room to enjoy yourselves.

Gun Lovers Are Great Lovers™ romance kit. You have a pistol under your pillow already, and a reasonable home-defense piece stowed under the mattress. You’ve tried gun-shaped candles. You’ve cut out your favorite product shots from Guns and Ammo magazine and posted them around your boudoir. Still, nothing works. Nothing in the bedroom can get you up quite like the feeling of squeezing that hard trigger and feeling the thunderous release of a round. Leave it to CunningGun to solve another of your little troubles. This 14-piece romance kit uses the science of positive fetishization to enhance your marital duties. A one-of-a-kind adapter will allow you to hold your favorite piece while in the act and even use it to caress and stimulate your partner. A holster and other accoutrements add to the helpful associations, while scented gun oils bring the aroma of the range into the bedroom.

Never forget that when you let a moment go by where you’re not using your gun, you let the liberals win. Instead, CunningGun will help you prove that a gun is always a good thing.


-Tea Party-Affiliated Group Calls for Families to Do their Part to Protect Guns

-An Originalist Solution to Gun Control

Posted in Frontiers of Knowledge | Comments closed

Mayor of Great American City Apologizes Preemptively for Her Upcoming Dumb Idea


You may have heard of Oakland, California, and if you have it’s likely because of the notorious three-time Super Bowl Champion Oakland Raiders or the nine-time World Series Champion Oakland Athletics. But there’s so much more to Oakland than those two standouts.

The New York Times named Oakland number five in its “45 Places to Go in 2012”—nestled between London and Tokyo. Oakland offers waterfront saloons, upscale dining, and urban wineries. It features Victorian architecture, a renowned industrial-arts scene, as well as the 300,000 square foot Oakland Museum. Oakland is California’s 8th largest city. The city has its own lake, redwood forest, and 100,000 acres of parks and trails that feature breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay. Oakland’s historic Fox Theater is arguably San Francisco Bay Area’s top music venue, drawing acts such as Lenny Kravitz, Lorde, and Widespread Panic. In 2013, NPR named Oakland one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States.

However, depending on the stats you review, Oakland is the number two most crime-ridden city in the nation, with a violent crime rate almost triple the national average. Trying to maintain solvency, the city has taken on huge debt and cut government services. Its overwhelmed police department has been taken over by a court-appointed monitor. Oakland suffers from an unemployment rate hovering around 12%, a crumbling transportation infrastructure, and both a population decline and a decline in household income that have led to a shrinking tax base. Plus, the marquis A’s and Raiders are perpetually threatening to leave the city.

If there was ever a town that needed a strong leader with a vision, it’s Oakland, California. Instead, Oakland has Mayor Jean Quan.

Quan has deep roots in the city. She has lived in Oakland over 35 years. She served as a school board member for 12 years and as a city council member for eight. She is a UC Berkeley graduate, a former Kellogg Fellow, and the first Chinese-American female mayor of any major US city. However, Quan lacks any talent to manage. Everything she touches has turned to arsenic for the city of Oakland—so much so that she has faced two recall attempts since her election in 2011.

Her plan, up to now, for saving what could be America’s greatest city is based on erroneous crime statistics and recruiting volunteers to work with disenfranchised youth. But Jean Quan has a new plan—one she is sure will fail like her others, only this time she’s actually apologizing. And not only is she apologizing, she’s doing it in advance.  

Today, Mayor Quan stood before cameras and said:

I’ve had a really busy year, well, several years, of course, trying to get our city out of deep financial trouble—what with the loss of redevelopment money we so depended on here in Oakland. This city has a lot of moving parts. I’ve worked very hard. I’ve balanced budgets. I’ve come up with a lot of ideas about ways to keep Oakland moving forward. Okay, I’ve come up with no ideas. I will stipulate to that. I’ve had no good ideas. However, I will have one idea here coming up that I’ll pitch at the end of the first fiscal quarter. It’s kind of a funny idea, poking fun at myself but also taking a page out of the local sports teams’ marketing playbooks and trying to emulate their sucess. I’m apologizing now in advance for the idea I will pitch, which is a Jean Quan bobblehead doll.

To encourage residents to pay their local public debts—whether they’re library fines, building permit fees, parking tickets, whatever—for every payment received in full—no matter the amount; it can be from as little as $1.35 in library dues to $3,600 in commercial garbage fees—payors will receive a free Jean Quan bobblehead doll. I know, I’m sorry.

This doll will be designed by the same company who did the A’s “Chip and Chili” platter—that’s Chip Hale and Chili Davis—and the Coco Crisp garden gnome. I’ve actually been very involved in the design. I thought, there has been a lot of media hype about my most recent car accident, almost to the point of cartoonish attention, where everyone said I ran a red light and was checking email, which I wasn’t but the police have completed their investigation and have determined that, well, they’ve determined they can’t make a determination due to lack of evidence. See? I said I wasn’t checking email, and this lack of evidence proves it. But since there has been so much attention to this minor accident, I thought let’s turn this into an opportunity for Oakland. Let’s turn this on its ear and make it positive for Oakland. It should be clear now how much I care about this city.

So the doll, they call it a doll, it’s really more like a small statue or a trophy, but the doll will be me, my likeness, in my car, my front and back bumpers smashed between two other cars, my head out the window—bobbing out the window (is it “bobbing” or “bobbling,” since there is an “L” in the item itself)—and a cell phone in my hand. We might also have the rear fender of the car in front of me be a bobbling part, too, we’re not sure about the final design. (I’m guessing it is “bobbling,” so I’m going with that, and as mayor it’s my prerogative.)

It’s a funny idea. It’s a good idea. So why am I apologizing? In advance? People won’t get it. They’ll take it wrong. They’ll be offended and mostly people will just think it’s ugly despite the best design we could do. People will think it’s ugly and people just don’t like me, and they won’t want my likeness in their homes or on their dashboards or wherever you put a bobblehead. I don’t know. I don’t have any bobbleheads. Well, I have them. The sports teams do send them to me, but I’m very busy and I don’t have time to open the boxes. So they’re collecting in my garage.

I’m sure the Jean Quan dolls similarly will start stacking up in the basement of Oakland City Hall because instead of people rushing to pay their bills to get the doll, they’ll hold onto their money because they don’t want the doll. And even people who do regularly pay their bills will stop paying because they don’t want the doll, or mini statues or whatever you want to call them.quan

In fact—and this is where I’m most sorry—people will stop visiting the most popular and profitable public places in Oakland. The plan is if you pay an entry fee to any public space in Oakland—the zoo, the parking lots of our miles of trails—you get a Jean Quan doll, because that’s like paying a bill, too, right? It’s giving money to the city. Revenue will actually drop at these places. I’m talking about the Oakland Museum, the Chabot Space and Science Center, Lake Merritt—basically, the money-making bright spots in the city. These attractions are very popular with tourists, but tourists won’t know what to make of the dolls and if they do pay their entrance fees, if they do enjoy these attractions, they’ll end up leaving their dolls behind. So there’s going to be that, too, an additional expenditure, for cleanup and removal of what my doll will then become, which will be garbage, on top of just the lower attendance numbers and revenues at these attractions.

The other thing is, well, I said I would be most sorry for people stopping their visits to the most popular and profitable places in Oakland, and I will be sorry for that, but I will really be most sorry when it is revealed that my family, the Quan family, not my husband’s family, has murky ties to the Chinese-based manufacturer of the dolls whose factory is located very near the North Korean border in the Liaoning province of China. There will be talk that I have somehow profited financially from the dolls.

In addition, I’m also apologizing because, unfortunately, we’re in for a re-occupation of Oakland by Occupy Oakland. This organization will feel that if Oakland has money for dolls, it has money for real people and so will retake Frank Ogawa Plaza only this time they will build an impenetrable wall around their encampment by mortaring together all the discarded Jean Quan dolls they can find in the city. They will shut down City Hall. They will once again shut down the Port of Oakland and then will actually move on and succeed in shutting down the Oakland Airport, which will of course send traffic to San Jose and San Francisco and cut into our tax base. You can see the cycle. You can imagine the financial ramifications. I mean it’s going to be a doll, people, I can’t believe there will be this much disproportionate reaction to it. But, okay.

On a personal note, I want to apologize to the families and friends of the City Hall staffers who use the disparaging, hurtful term “Quan-fusion” to describe the state of mind I’m usually in and the state of affairs in City Hall. I am very sorry that you must live with people who have so much ugliness in their hearts that they could utter such a disgusting neologism. (“Neologism,” that is what it’s called, right? I believe it is. I’ll have my staff look into it.) Clearly they are horrible people, but I believe I am partially to blame for this behavior of theirs: if my ineptitude weren’t so perfect and comprehensive, perhaps no one would have ever thought to come up with such a mean-spirited quip at the expense of another human being. For I am, without doubt, a human being, who deserves compassion and love, just like everybody else does. I love this city (although I do have an odd way of showing it), and I hate what my actions have created and fostered in its residents’ hearts. Furthermore, I preemptively hate what my actions will continue to create and foster in everyone’s hearts, residents, visitors, and haters alike.

I also want to apologize in advance for my next political move, which will be winning reelection later this year. I’m sorry. I will be your mayor in 2015. Thank you so much.

See other preemptive apologies:

-by a CEO, before she has an affair

-by LeBron James, for not doing something, before he doesn’t do it

-by a Milwaukee Brewers fan, before he has a meltdown while ranting at Ryan Braun

Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

University Purchases City for Economics Experiments

People have long said Wye Sprite University’s great weakness is its location. The university is highly ranked across all its academic programs, especially in science and medicine, but the city of Duncastle that surrounds it has been economically depressed—with low graduation and high crime rates—since the meat packing and rivet industries moved out in the 1960s.

However, what used to be seen as a weakness may have just turned into the university’s greatest strength. University administrators recently announced that the school had struck an agreement with the City Council and the mayor whereby Wye Sprite will assume all outstanding city debt and commit to a future $100 million annual donative in return for the right to set the city’s regulations and policies in a number of areas.WSUbuyscity

The deal is believed to be the first of its kind and will pull the city out of potential receivership or bankruptcy after years of mismanagement while at the same time enabling the university to open new areas of inquiry in the social sciences.

“The great limitation in the social sciences has been that we can’t run experiments like in medicine,” said University President Creath Wibuket, a former professor of economics. “Does a higher minimum wage help or hurt workers and firms? We argue back and forth but no one knows for sure. Now we can do randomized trials by varying the minimum wage block by block, say, and measuring the effect over years. This makes us the greatest place in the world to study society.”

The Department of Economics will manage the city and have full control over variables such as zoning, taxes, employment law, and education policy. The economics faculty is already designing experiments to look at questions such as the effect of tax rates on productivity and the effectiveness of safety laws as compared to industry self-regulation.

Professor Tom Jones will lead one of the first experiments—a close look at employment laws. “We will exempt companies from child-labor limitations and measure the effects,” Jones says. Manufacturing businesses throughout the city will be randomly assigned to one of three regimes: current law, a lowered minimum age of 12, or a lowered minimum age of 8. “Theory says that employers should want to retain workers, and so accident and fatality rates shouldn’t go up much. We will see.”

Jones says the entire department is energized by the new opportunity and is already generating ideas that are likely to greatly affect the future of the field. “One of my colleagues is working on a plan to offer tax rebates to high-income residents that will offset the effects of federal marginal tax rates, and we will measure the effects on productivity. You can’t do that anywhere else. Another is going to make the city’s best parks fee-based to see if this improves the quality of life for people using the park.”

The psychology department is developing a questionnaire and follow-up examination that they believe will uncover connections between personality factors and various life outcomes. They believe it will be the most comprehensive of its kind. The monthly, six-hour process will be mandatory for all Duncastle residents (though Wye Sprite employees and faculty are excluded in order to avoid conflict of interest).

Another experiment will cut high school and grade school teacher salaries by 50% to determine if this actually affects the quality of education. “Our hypothesis is that the best teachers do it for love, not money, so municipalities can save a lot of money without losing much in terms of quality,” says project lead Eliza Lint, another professor of economics. She points out that a democratic government would never be able to make this kind of bold experiment due to fear of being seen as disadvantaging some citizens. “Sure some experiments won’t work out,” she says. “But with a leading university in charge, I’m sure people will be better off–at least the median person will be.”

“Quite frankly, these people have held us back for a long time,” continues Lint, referring to how the poor reputation of Duncastle affects Wye Sprite’s rankings. “They may not believe in education themselves. They can drop out of high school and sit on their stoops all day, but they’ll still be doing something to advance a great university. I think there’s a poetic justice in that.”

The buzz in academic circles is that, by virtue of this coup, Wye Sprite will now attract the top talent in social sciences. “Would you want to go somewhere else and work with models and old data sets, or get to test your ideas on people’s real lives, in real time?” said one recent economics PhD who asked to remain anonymous because she was applying for a job at WSU. “It’s a classic disruptive innovation. Every other university will have to do something to keep up.”

“The city is now our petri dish,” says Wye Sprite President Wibuket. “One giant petri dish, and we’ll swab all sorts of exciting things on it.”

More on economics, finance, and society:

- Protests Erupt over the Lone Banker Convicted for a Role in the Financial Crisis

- Wealthy Individuals Offer “Benign Interceptions” of Lottery Winnings to Aid Middle Class and Poor

- How America’s Heroic Celebrities Can End Inequality

Posted in Frontiers of Knowledge | Comments closed

The Devil Reads the Hobby Lobby Decision and Has Some Questions for Justice Samuel Alito



I know you have previously ruled that corporations are people, but I’ve always understood that to be a legal fiction, meaning they can act in the world of commerce—make contracts, be held responsible for debts—as if they were people. I thought this had nothing to do with me. But now I read your ruling in Hobby Lobby, which says “for-profit corporations can exercise religion.” This brings the world’s millions of corporations squarely into my sphere of influence, and now I have to figure out what to do with them. Do you realize that there are more corporations today than there were souls on the planet a few centuries ago? Yes, I’ve grown my staff in the meantime, but I can’t tell you how much trouble this is going to cause. I would ask you to reverse but I know you never change your beliefs (despite what you might have been forced to say in a Senate confirmation hearing).

As a result of actions you yourself undertook, I’ve been going through your opinion in detail, and I have some questions and comments.

You wrote:
No conceivable definition of “person” includes natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.

I get it. I now have to consider corporations equal to human beings in their exercise of religion, and thus their moral culpability. Now, human beings are held accountable through the persistence of their souls after death. Does the corporation have a soul? I have appointed a task force to study the matter and make recommendations. They could use your guidance on a host of related questions. For instance, when is the corporation conceived? Is it when a job creator first has an idea? Is it when he calls his lawyer? Is it when he signs the papers or when he has the intent to sign the papers? Is it wrong to then prevent a job creator from giving birth by, say, refusing funding (the IUD of corporate reproduction)? At the other end of the spectrum, are bankruptcy courts death panels? I would greatly appreciate your views on these issues.

You wrote:
The purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the rights of people associated with the corporation, including shareholders, officers, and employees.

hlI always understood that the purpose of a corporation was to create some space between the owners and agents of the corporation and the liabilities incurred by that corporation—in religious terms, the consequences of their sins. In other words, the shareholder doesn’t pay the full cost if his company implodes under massive debt. But your logic leads me to conclude that you believe the owners of a corporation should keep all rights and privileges in relationship to the company, while not bearing all responsibilities. That may work in the law, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to make the same exception in my judgments, much as I’d like to. I’m very sorry, because I know this exception whereby one gets all the benefits without any downside is convenient for you and all your friends and associates who own large, precarious companies.

You wrote:
Any suggestion that for-profit corporations are incapable of exercising religion because their purpose is simply to make money flies in the face of modern corporate law. States, including those in which the plaintiff corporations were incorporated, authorize corporations to pursue any lawful purpose or business, including the pursuit of profit in conformity with the owners’ religious principles.

I know that you know (and you know that I know) that “pursuit of profit in conformity with religious beliefs” is an oxymoron in a Christian framework. It was the original Christian, Jesus, who said, “You cannot serve both God and money.” But let me salute the beauty of your rhetoric, which makes this jagged chicken bone of a contradiction go down like a strawberry-banana-mango smoothie with a shot of gingko. This kind of thing helps me so much. It only takes the slightest hint to get people to form religious beliefs that will conveniently enable them to pursue the worldly lucre they actually long for. (Somehow they simply overlook or explain away anything contradictory, and think they’ve pulled the camel through the eye of the needle.) Then they rail (and bring lawsuits) about how they should be able to do everything in conformity with their (pre-conformed) religious beliefs. Wonderful trick, no?

You wrote:
[The contraception mandate] requires the Hahns and Greens [the owners of the companies] to engage in conduct that seriously violates their sincere religious belief that life begins at conception.

I’m a bit confused here, I admit. I thought the corporation, which is now a person, was exercising its religious rights. Now you tell me it’s the Hahns and Greens, presumably people as well, acting through or as the corporation, who are exercising their religion. Are they one with their corporations from a religious point of view? Perhaps owner and corporation are two persons in one essence? Are you using the Trinity as your model here? Please clarify.

You wrote:
It is not for the Court to say that the religious beliefs of the plaintiffs are mistaken or unreasonable…. The Court’s “narrow function . . . is to determine” whether the plaintiffs’ asserted religious belief reflects “an honest conviction.”

Oh, Sam, I envy you the simplicity of your world. To simply find a reflection of honest conviction and stop there, and not have to delve into the twisted labyrinths of a man’s heart, to not have to view what he does when he thinks he’s alone, to not view his florid fantasies and explosions of hate, to not see that he relishes crushing others under the heel of his beliefs, to not know that he will trade one conviction for the next as soon as the new one stokes his fancy. Now I must do the same for every corporation. Every oil company, for instance, says it is working day and night to save the planet. You would see the pretty pictures of forests on their website and stop there, having found your reflection of conviction. You would feel happy to be surrounded by such righteous and helpful corporations, even as these same companies spread blackness and waste somewhere beyond your usual haunts. But me, I’m afraid I will have much work to do to untangle this tangled yarn.

I hope my note does not seem accusatory. It’s true I feel you have opened up an immense new territory that I will have to survey and hoe and plant and reap, but I remain appreciative of everything you do. I hope we will be able to discuss these issues soon, perhaps at the next meeting of the Federalist Society.

With kind regards,

Other articles focusing on legal matters:

-Coalition: Privatize Courts, Slash Deficits, and Make American Justice Pay

-Protests Erupt over the Lone Banker Convicted for a Role in the Financial Crisis

-Seattle Seahawks Fan Sues Team over Hearing Loss

Posted in Correctives | Comments closed

If you ever want a primer on how to waste a life

just ask me.

Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

Beers are like hugs. Liquor is a kiss.

Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

Rebranding Literature: Lee

Rebranding Literature is a simple plan to make literature more relevant in the marketplace of ideas by maximizing revenue potential.

Over the course of human history, great works of literature have generated less revenue in aggregate than a single day’s worth of Starbucks sales. Why is literature losing out so badly to the coffee mongers? That they sell a drug, legally, we rejected as too simplistic; many retailers of drugs legal and illegal don’t get wealthy. We attempted to answer this question by visiting a local Starbucks. The answer is shockingly obvious if you have eyes to see. Just look around. Everything is for sale. Little racks with branded items pop up like toadstools. Nature abhors a vacuum; so does Starbucks—every empty space is filled with something you could buy. So, we have initiated a project to go back and apply what we’ve learned to great works of literature in hopes of raising greater revenues.

finchcollectionToday we look at an American novel that has been winning the hearts of readers for decades, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is an important book in the history of American literature. Further, to many readers the book is a touchstone, a work they connect with at a deep emotional level. Readers have deep affection for the narrator and her family. Readers admire them. And readers remain forever grateful to Harper Lee for authoring it. But think how much more this already very accomplished piece of writing could achieve if it simply looked with enhanced cupidity at potential connections between the art a writer produces and the world of commerce.

We at Stoneslide have fixed this shortcoming of the book.

We think you’ll agree that with the improvements we’ve made to Lee’s text, the story has a much better tone and is literally more valuable. With any luck, future editions will include improvements such as these throughout the novel’s entirety.

To Kill A Mockingbird

by Harper Lee and The Stoneslide Corrective

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, due to the excellent treatment at Monroe County Hospital and Outpatient Clinic—“Care for Our Community”—and after Jem’s fears of never being able to play football, in Tuscaloosa—Roll Tide!—or, for that matter, in Auburn—War Eagle, Atticus!—were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. Atticus credits this to the great counseling Jem received from the psychologist he—Atticus—located through Theravive. Their motto is, “Our hearts: to help you find your new path.” They sure did do right by Jem. Jem’s left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt. Jem wanted to take his shot in the next Punt, Pass, and Kick competition.

More Literature, Rebranded:
-Keats, Lawrence, Hopkins
-Faulkner, Hemingway
-Salinger, Williams

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PTA President Pens a Desperate Plea for Strength

by Tia Creighton

Vanessa Stewart had been pushed to what she thought was her limit as a PTA president. Over her three years in the position, she had put up with a lot of nonsense.

    • The prior administration’s treasurers didn’t file taxes for two years, and the organization lost its 501(c)(3) status. Vanessa and her new treasurer had been fighting to re-establish the exemption all school-year long.
    • The traffic ladies stole prizes for the end-of-year carnival that parents dropped in the drop-off circle. So—door-to-door in a mere 36 hours—Vanessa and her Executive Board cajoled the local Dairy Queen, Burger King and Smithy Dog franchisees into donating meal-deal toys for the event.
    • The teachers complained because the PTA was forced to reduce the amount of money given for classroom supplies. As retribution, the teachers were refusing to place any PTA flyers in students’ Thursday take-home folders.
    • Consistently all year long, the custodians had forgotten to unlock the library for PTA meetings. Several times, the PTA had to hold its meetings in the dark on the blacktop under the crossbeams of iPhone Flashlight® apps because the custodians had skipped out early and gone home for the night.
    • The PTA has an exclusive arrangement with a local coffee shop to decorate the shop’s walls with student art. In the winter, the students’ Van Gogh Starry Night art was taken down by a rival school’s PTA and replaced with that school’s 5th grade Audubon bird art series. Not only was the switcheroo nefarious, the art that went up was totally out of season. Calls and emails had been placed. All went unanswered.
    • The school office staff had been regularly stealing from the PTA. The office cashed checks made out to the PTA; stole the organization’s yearbook cash, cash from school-play ticket sales, as well as cash from sweatshirt sales. There was denial all around, and the principal couldn’t be bothered with the investigation.
    • Someone broke the lock on the PTA outdoor marquee letter-board sign; spelled out “Iff Yu Can Rede This Yu Mustof Gon Tu Scol Hear”; then replaced the lock with a boron alloy shackle that the custodians can’t seem to cut off. The work order to the District Office to saw off the lock was approaching six weeks old.
    • Once while shopping for party supplies with the Events Chair, Vanessa was threatened by the Chair with a vanilla and mandarin orange scented pillar candle because Vanessa had questioned the woman’s menu choices for the “Circle of Moms” fund-raiser.

But the drop that Vanessa felt would make her teacup of patience overflow came one spring day. The Communications Chair had taken a disliking to the PTA Vice President. Vanessa hadn’t weighed in on the bickering, trusting the two could work out their differences in an adult fashion. Instead, the Communications Chair took an unforeseen tack. She turned to her Twitter account and began cyberbullying the Vice President, tweeting:

“Poor PTA Veep. She’s a lifelong loser sans goals/ambitions/talent/hope/skills/friends/future.”

“Poor PTA Veep. She’s an ill-bred, Nazi hag who can’t pull off the fashion statement of the jackboot.”

“Poor PTA Veep. She gives her husband $$ to visit whores, cuz even she knows she’s ugly as a dead monkey.”

Not only were these tweets wide-rangingly inappropriate, but this woman was the PTA’s Communications Chair. She should have known better. Clearly, such marcomm was not in the interest of the Claude P. Sloan Elementary School PTA.

Vanessa was forced to sack the Communications Chair, stripping her of all her duties and changing the password to both the electronic newsletter and the PTA website. But the Communications Chair was a skilled IT professional, and so that very spring day, the ex-Comm Chair hacked into and took down the PTA website, leaving the following message:

PTA hacker message

Vanessa had just gotten off the phone with her fuming Vice President, who’d discovered the security breach and was demanding legal action against the Ex-Comm Chair, when Vanessa’s son came rambling in from school. As per usual, he said hi and headed to the kitchen for a snack. It was a Thursday, and that meant “take-home folders” couriered into the houses and apartments of each and every C.P. Sloan student. Her son handed her his folder on the way to the treat cupboard. Vanessa thumbed through it mindlessly.

She came across a poem in her son’s folder. It was called “I Am.” She read the poem, and as she got further along, her eyes began to fill with tears. It was her son writing about who he is, what he loves, what he fears, and what he wishes for. He had never written poetry before, and what he wrote was eloquent and revelatory. He had opened a window into his soul that allowed her to peer into his deepest worries, hopes, dreams and emotions.

Vanessa asked her son about his poem, and he said, “Oh that’s our ‘I Am’ poem. Ms. Collette gave us the formula, and we filled in the blanks. See? ‘I am,’ and then we write in what we are. ‘I am a boy who likes baseball.’

“‘I wonder,’ and then we write in what we wonder. ‘I wonder how hard it is to play in the MLB.’ Like that.” He happily continued to munch his luau-style, barbecue chips standing at the counter.

Vanessa got a brainstorm. I, too, will write an “I Am” poem, she thought. I will turn to writing—as writers do—to make sense of my circumstances; to honor my emotions; to make a home for my pain; to make peace with life; to take a stand.

And so, that very spring day, Vanessa Stewart wrote her own “I Am” poem.

I Am a PTA President
by Vanessa Stewart

I am a PTA president.
I wonder why folks are so lame.
I hear people making watery excuses, and
I want to be less annoyed.
I am a PTA president.

I pretend that all will be fine.
I feel my scalp with the tips of my fingers.
I touch my lips with the backs of my fingers.
I worry that things won’t get done, and I’ll have to see everyones’ commitments through.
I cry inwardly knowing there’s no effing way these women are going to get anything done.
I am a PTA president.


I understand that people have flowery, 4-D brainstorms.
I say, “That’s a great idea. Would you be willing to take that on?”
I dream they say, “Yes,” and then run the event professionally and without drama.
I notice their lips purse tightly and their hands tuck under their crossed legs.
I try to be patient and smile through backstabbing and vain, over-budget missteps.
I hope I can cap my roiling resentment during this meeting because
I am a PTA president.


Read Tia Creighton’s bio.

More on parenting:

Take Your Lazy-Ass Son to Work Day

Parents Use Big Data to Engage More Meaningfully with Children

Advice to Expectant Fathers

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U.S. Intelligence Community to Propose Surveillance-Free Zone

U.S. President Barack Obama and top intelligence officials are planning a bold response to critics who see electronic surveillance and other espionage activities within our borders as encroaching on basic American rights. The U.S. Intelligence Community will propose creating a “Surveillance-Free Zone” within the continental United States, enabling citizens interested in maintaining their civil rights to have at least one spot where they can stop worrying that the government is monitoring their texts about when to meet at Arby’s. The Stoneslide Corrective received an advance copy of a report produced by a joint military-civilian commission tasked with evaluating the U.S. espionage agencies’ response to civil liberties concerns. Our source was a member of the commission who wished to remain anonymous because, well, he doesn’t want everyone knowing what he’s doing all the time, okay.

In its executive summary, the report clearly lays out the necessity of surveillance in a free and open society, but also recognizes the needs for some limits on the people and agencies tasked with this critical duty. Given the complexity of the national security bureaucracy and the number of “probably effective” existing programs, the commission found that the best approach would be to carve out a geographical space with no pre-existing surveillance as a spy-free zone. The SFZ will be open to any civil libertarian who wants to spend time there.

Some of the issues the report deals with include:

Location. The report identified a site 165 miles from Tucson. This site has the benefit of being outside any existing cellular and/or data networks. Our source explained the reasoning behind this. “We don’t have any idea how many trojan horses, viruses, sniffers, apps, and malicious websites set up by our boys are out there, so the only way to protect citizens’ privacy is to cut them off from all networks.”

The proposed site sits on an open plateau in the Sonoran Desert. It will require the construction of a new 22-mile, two-lane highway, since no current roads reach the area. “The sunsets are beautiful,” says our source.

Budget. The creation of the SFZ will require only a tiny fraction of the annual espionage budget and will be funded through a small levy on FOIA requests.

sfzHousing. The report predicts the need to shelter many civil libertarians for multi-day stays in the SFZ. It suggests requisitioning modular buildings, commonly called trailers, in order to get the SFZ operational as soon as possible and give surveillance critics an immediate option.

Differentiation. The report also suggest building a demarcation structure around the perimeter of the SFZ, so that citizens can easily recognize when they are inside, and thus safe from spying. The report proposes a 14-foot-high chain link fence topped with razor wire as possessing the appropriate visual presence, durability, and cost effectiveness.

In addition, each citizen visiting the SFZ will be issued a distinctive orange jumpsuit.

“Anyone who wants to complain about us reading their emails, can instead just take a little trip to the SFZ,” explains our source. “They’ll have perfect privacy, and they might find they want to relocate there permanently if their privacy is that important to them.”


More on Surveillance and Privacy

Make Use of All the Data the Government Collects about You

Parents Use Big Data to Engage More Meaningfully with Children

Ex-Professor Exploits Big Data to Turn Crime into Profit Center

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It’s four a.m.

Do you know where your self-respect is?

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Meet George

We would like to present to you our friend, George McHugh. George has recently started a consulting and career advising business. His specialty is training people in how to appear authoritative and informed in business meetings, even when they have no idea what’s going on or when their only ideas are foolish bordering on calamitous. So, if you often find yourself in meetings feeling envious that the most idiotic and craven consistently get all the plaudits, then call George.

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Joy is felt most often in the illusion

that joy will exist sometime in the future. As an example, recall your feelings at your wedding and then what’s come after.

Posted in The Cynic's Notebook | Comments closed

Protests Erupt over the Lone Banker Convicted for a Role in the Financial Crisis

Recent reports that only one banker has been jailed as a result of the financial crisis that shook the global economy and immiserated billions have sparked outrage. A loosely organized coalition of bankers, hedge fund managers, and investors are rallying to get that one banker freed, using the slogans “I Am Banker X!” and “Free Banker X!”

 The Stoneslide Corrective visited a rally this week in Zuccotti Park in New York City. It started at 4:15 p.m., just after markets closed for the day. A thin, grey haired man in a Savile Row suit called out impassioned pleas through a bullhorn, and the crowd around him cheered after each statement. It’s worth noting that the orator did not hold the bullhorn himself but had what looked like an intern with him to perform that task.

 “The government won’t get away with scapegoating one of us!” he cried. Cheers. “They may hate the one percent and call us scum, but we will have justice!” Cheers. “Besides, I’m actually the point one percent! Free Banker X!” Sustained cheers and an echoing chant. “Free Banker X! Free Banker X!”

 We pulled aside one participant in the rally to ask why he felt so strongly that injustice was being done. He was sipping a Kauffman vodka, vintage 2008, provided by the protest caterers. “How can the government make one man suffer when so many who are equally culpable walk around free?” he said. “I mean look around you. We’re all going to leave here in chauffeured cars. Most of us have girls we keep in apartments in SOHO. We’ll ride off and spend a few minutes with our girl, and let me tell you, these girls are ones most people can only dream of; they have skin like cream and just looking in their eyes can change your life. Then we go off, get a steak or lobster dinner, then hit the clubs. How can some of us be living like that while one of us is rotting in a jail cell?  We won’t stop until we see justice done. Free Banker X!”

dollarfistA group of 95 protestors, all vice presidents or higher at major investment banks, circulated a manifesto in which they called on bankers to withhold their financial services unless their demands are met. The manifesto cites a study by consulting firm McKinsey & Co., commissioned by the group, showing that the economy would lose $450 billion and more than 400,000 jobs for every day of a banker protest, with effects becoming exponentially more catastrophic after a week.

 “The severe economic impacts on so-called Main Street should bankers, or ‘Wall Street,’ not exist, make evident that a punitive approach toward bankers is ridiculous and ultimately self-defeating. Jailing bankers risks the well-being of our very society, and we stand united against that prospect.”

 A media liaison for the group told us that they are planning a “Davos-style conference” to be held in Aspen, Colorado, that will explore the implications of this case, and how it reflects the unfair prejudices against the wealthy and successful.

 At the rally’s cigar bar, bankers passed quickly and determinedly, grabbing Cubans like relay batons as they joined the crowd. There we found one dissenter from the general outrage. “This guy was dumb enough to get caught. He deserves what he gets,” said a man in a double-breasted Brioni suit who would only identify himself as “a hedge fund guy.” Asked why he was at the rally, he held up his drink and his cigar. “I believe in free markets and free booze.”

The culmination of the Zuccotti Park event was an address by Danvorius Tohd, the billionaire CEO of Tohd Power & Light, who has become a folk hero for the one percent with his fiery defenses of property rights. Tohd appeared via videoconference on a sixteen-foot Jumbotron installed for the protest. He rallied the troops with a passionate speech, even shedding tears as he described calling his wealth manager to ask about his net worth after the crash in 2008. “The financial meltdown everyone’s complaining about affected me, too. I had to sell one of my New York apartments. You don’t hear me calling for the heads of all these investment professionals. The childish, asshole 99 percenters act like only they are impacted by downturns.”

Tohd closed his speech with a call to action. “We owe it to our imprisoned brother to fully enjoy our wealth tonight. You can do your part by not letting the envious, spiteful, hateful masses–and the enabler of their depravity called government–stop you from being your full, rich self. Go out and live! We’re paying the lawyers to keep working all night. Free Banker X!”

The men in suits followed Tohd’s exhortation and filed into the waiting cars.


More on wealth and inequality:
After Accident, Utility Bars Investigators from Plant 
Two California Counties Prepare to Designate “Job Creator Lanes” on Highways 
New Business Helps Wealthy Hold Onto Self-Importance in Modern World 

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A Middle Manager on the Importance of a Robust and Active Social Network

When you bring in your leftover birthday cake and leave it in the break room, make sure you cut out a few pieces first, so it looks like you had people over.

Posted in A Life Examined | Tagged | Comments closed

A Middle Manager on Developing Taste and Discernment as Regards the Fine Arts

People say taste is subjective and that makes it hard to really say what’s great art, but they’re wrong. There’s one way to know for sure. Before you buy anything to decorate your office or your home, go up to the 14th floor, the c-suite, and snap some pictures of what they have on the wall there. That is without doubt the best art in the world. The company hires an art consultant. Now all you have to do is find something that matches.

Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

A Middle Manager on the Art of Seduction

You have to be patient, my boy. The hottest fire is one that builds over time. Say a new girl comes into the admin pool, and you can’t believe how tight she is. You want to beat through the door to the pen where she sits and holler that you have to have her right then and there or your soul will be crushed like a tin can under a dump truck’s tire. Wait, instead. Over the years you may see that she’s sleeping with some of the young guys, like that bodybuilder in finance. She may marry a vice president for a while. But your love will grow hotter. Don’t let it burn out. Keep it alive. Then, one day, she’ll be older. She’ll be divorced. She’ll still be in the pool. Maybe she’s gotten a little wider in the backside from sitting on a rotating chair all these years. But now she’ll be able to appreciate you. You want that. Just wait. Maybe ten years or so. Focus on your 401K while you wait.

Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

It’s wrong to discriminate against someone

based on race or creed. You should only discriminate based on how much money they have or whether they’re attractive.

Posted in The Cynic's Notebook | Comments closed

Wealthy Individuals Offer “Benign Interceptions” of Lottery Winnings to Aid Middle Class and Poor

Seeing people become destitute is even worse than seeing them already be destitute. That’s the concept behind a group that says they help poor and middle class people avoid the whiplash impoverishment that can follow financial windfalls.

swrlpmcThe group, Stop Wealth from Ruining the Lives of the Poor and Middle Class, was created by Gladys Van Hol. She says she was inspired after reading an article about hundreds of lottery winners who needed to declare bankruptcy after running through the money. “It’s a miscarriage of economic justice to let poor and middle class people become rich suddenly,” she says. “They ruin themselves with drugs, gambling, and ladies of the night. They don’t know how to say no to moochers.”

So, from the dining room table of her Greenwich, Connecticut, home, Van Hol launched the non-profit organization.

For a fee, the group’s wealthy members take lottery winners’ money from them. Then the windfall is disbursed to a family or consortium of families with a long history of holding onto and growing wealth. The wealth stewards enrolled by SWRLPMC include the Rockefeller family, the Waltons, and the Koch brothers, among others.

All winnings transfers are permanent, the group says. “These poor and middle class people will never see a dime of that money, for their own good,” according to Van Hol.

Indeed, the latest academic research highlights the challenges faced by lottery winners. According to researchers at the University of Kentucky, University of Pittsburgh, and Vanderbilt University, lottery winners declare bankruptcy at twice the rate of the general population. The results of the research, by Scott Hankins, Mark Hoekstra, and Paige Marta Skiba, were published in The Review of Economics and Statistics.

SWRLPMC Vice President Patricia Del Rio says maintaining a familiar state of un-wealth protects poor and middle class people. “It’s like if you throw together a party at a restaurant and the check comes to a couple thousand dollars. Fifteen percent of 2,000 is 300. Can you really give $300 to  a waiter or waitress? Of course not. God knows what they’d spend it on. Better to tip $50, and teach them restraint.”

We contacted economist Milton Hyack, the Adam Smith (Not Counting His Moral Philosophy) Fellow at the National Free Enterprise Society, to see what he made of the group. He says that SWRLPMC is very rationally built on the concept of marginal utility. “If you give some shmoe with a net worth of, like, 10k a million dollars, it’s going to pop his little brain. That’s such a big change for him. But give the same million dollars to a billionaire, and he will hardly notice it. That additional million can’t really buy him anything he couldn’t have gotten before. So, I ask you, who is the responsible steward for that money? From an economic perspective, this is a very virtuous organization.” Hyack adds that SWRLPMC could have a positive effect on the economy as a whole, since low- and middle-income Americans “lose their incentive to work if they have more than a paycheck or two saved up, whereas the wealthy have proven that they can live virtuous lives with hoards of riches in the vaults.”

Not everyone agrees that the group is doing good in the world. “I think these rich people are behaving despicably,” says Miriam Ponniker, president of Decent Lives for the Middle Class and Poor. “If they’re so concerned, why don’t they advise winners to keep the money in the annuities that the lotteries already offer? Or better yet, they could give the money to organizations that actually help people. Like mine. We are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.”

SWRLPMC’s Del Rio says the group will have no part of that. “We want to help the unfortunate, not dispense handouts.”

 She adds that doubters should look at the effect the group is already having on the people it helps. “The proof is in the crème brûlée,” she says. She described one client, Oscar Schmall, a truck yard worker who lives in the Verdant Vista Mobile Home Park in Oswego, New York. Schmall won $7.5 million from the New York State Lottery earlier this year. “He’d already spent an irresponsible portion of his capital staying at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, and when we found him he was just about to buy a new Ferrari,” says Del Rio. “Thank God we got there in time. I don’t think he had any idea how expensive maintenance and repairs are.” According to Del Rio, Schmall is now happily living back in his trailer and working in the truck yard. “He says he thinks his back will hold out a couple more years, which is longer than that money would have lasted!”

Mr. Schmall could not be reached for comment, as his phone had been disconnected.

Mrs. Van Hol says the group is considering expanding their aid to the poor and middle class, and might start taking insurance settlements, bequests, and legal judgments off their hands.

More on wealth and society:

Paper Quantifies Value of Romance

New Business Helps Wealthy Hold Onto Self-Importance in Modern World

What’s It Worth to Ya?

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The Pony Parenting System

Every kid loves a pony. This well-known fact forms the basis for a revolutionary new parenting system based on the combination of leading-edge behavioral research and bleeding-edge technology.

The Stoneslide Corrective is proud to introduce the Pony Parenting System. Here’s how it works:

Let’s take a common example of a disciplinary problem. Your child gesticulates wildly at the dinner table while relating a pointless anecdote from his day. He’s only four; he doesn’t know how banal his story is. But then he knocks over his glass of milk. You reasonably say, “Clean that up right this instant.” But what does he do? He sits there and sulks. Maybe tears trickle down his cheeks. There’s no cleaning happening. He’s not learning the lesson you are attempting to impart.

Now, imagine that at this very moment, you could say, “Listen, son. Did you know that I have a pony? I do. He is adorable. He has a long white mane and a ribbon tied around his tail. He can run faster than a car. I keep him in a stable just a few miles from here, because, of course, there’s no room for him to live with us. I would like for you to get to ride him someday, maybe soon. But, you know what, son, every time you do something wrong, I have to go and hurt that pony. He cries, but I have to do it if you don’t behave. Now, if you don’t clean up that milk, I will have to go to the stable…”

At this point, as you can clearly see, the child gets back on track and cleans up the milk.

The Pony Parenting System provides you with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions to implement this foolproofpony disciplinary system in your own household. But it’s much more than that. Using the latest in image-rendition software, the Pony Parenting System creates a series of video clips with what looks like a real pony and renders your image in a fully realistic fashion administering appropriate disciplines and rewards to the pony. Used together, the dialogue and scenarios in the Pony Parenting System Handbook and the power of the Pony Parenting System “Hand of God” Videos can overcome any amount of whining, recalcitrance, or acting out.

The video system comes with numerous settings to accommodate family preferences. Are you an upright Christian family? You’ll be proud to see a cross displayed in your pony’s stall. Are you an idealist who’s settled into a comfortable bourgeois lifestyle? You’ll appreciate the poster of Che in your virtual stall. The system is fully detailed to ensure the children don’t suspect that this is one more ruse you’re pulling over on them, like Santa Claus. For instance, it registers which is your dominant hand, so that your avatar will hold any lashes, razors, wrenches, or ice picks in the appropriate hand. It also visually renders rings or other jewelry you regularly wear.

Soon, you can be on your way to effortless discipline and a well-balanced, happy family life.

Children love ponies. You will love the Pony Parenting System!

More on contemporary parenting:

Government Support for a New Small Firearms Industry

Take Your Lazy-Ass Son to Work Day

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How to Feel Good About Yourself (no matter how fat, dumb, or insignificant you may be)

We came across this advice column in the April 2014 issue of Lint Fancier, and we thought it could be useful to a broader audience.

Recent research has shown that nothing is better for our sense of well being than staying in touch with other people. But what if people can’t stand to be around you? Here are five simple steps that will have you on the way to social intercourse, despite all your personal failings:

1- Take a test drive. Of course you know that you can go to any car dealership and take the latest models out for a spin. But the best part is the relationship you can form with the salespeople. They’re always happy to see you. They’ll shake your hand, slap your back, talk about sports, even go out for a drive around the neighborhood with you. It’s friendship, without any of the hassles. For maximum effect, do some research before your visit. Find out what’s the biggest turkey on the lot. You’ll be glad you did this when you see the look of joy on your new friend’s face when you say you’ve been thinking of purchasing one of those. Another thing I’ve noticed is that salespeople always respond well to warmth. If you give them a little hug, they’re sure to hug back and, unlike some other people I can think of, they won’t slap you. I’ve heard people say that capitalism is cold-hearted, but I think this shows that the opposite is the case.

2- Share your expertise. The internet is filled with discussion boards, chat rooms, and forums. Each of these is in turn filled with people looking for answers to questions that are dearly important to them. You can help them—and receive their gratitude. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about anything, people are grateful just to be given a clear, authoritative answer. There’s nothing like the feeling of helping someone else. I’ve been called “the best,” “awesome,” “a godsend,” and “da man” by some of these thankful people, and walked around for days with a little glow. Here’s how it works: I find a discussion board, say one devoted to mountaineering. I look for a question that hasn’t gotten any responses yet; in this case, it might be, “Does anyone know if the route from the summit of Adams to the north peak is passable without crampons in the winter?” Then I jump in. It’s important to be clear and succinct. This makes people feel better. It also helps to throw in some personal experience. This makes them feel comfortable with you. “Sure. I’ve done it in January and in February. It’s a blast. Go for it!” See how encouraging that is?

cuteanimals3- Sign up for e-newsletters. Go to the websites of major retailers or any large charitable organization. Most of them have a button that says “subscribe” or “newsletter” or “learn more.” It costs nothing to sign up for these email services. You will then get regular messages in your inbox, which you can look through and think about each day. I have done this. I now get dozens of messages each day directed just to me. And I feel a little lift of my heart every time I see that greeting, “Dear Mike.” The art of letter writing is dead, but a new art form has taken its place. As an added bonus, you can tell people that you spend hours every day just going through your email. They will assume that, 1- you are very important, and 2- you have many friends and associates to stay in touch with. Half the joy of friendship is letting others know how well endowed you are in that respect.

4- Go to a free concert. There are many of these given by choirs and orchestras where they play the great works from the history of music. Apparently, no one likes this music because they have to give away tickets. You probably won’t like it either. But if you pick a seat that is behind the conductor, you will see what these events can really do for you. When the music begins, all of the musicians and singers look at the conductor, filled with intensity, almost reverence… and you, being right behind, will feel like they are looking at you. If you get the angle right, you really can not tell the difference. You now have many options. You can just look over the array of faces and enjoy the attention. You may feel a little shy, like “What did I do to deserve all of this?” but try not to be inhibited. You may want to choose a favorite—one girl or guy who particularly catches your eye. Through the course of the evening, you can progress from shy glances (is she really looking at me?) to longer exchanges (getting to know each other) to outright stares. You will see that you have aroused real passion in her. She will keep looking back to see that your eyes are still on her. It’s an experience that never fails to make my heart sing.

5- Become a blood donor. Have regrets about missed opportunities in your past? Spent too many Saturday nights alone with the latest X-Box release? Here’s a chance to change that. Find a blood drive near you and sign up. You may not think of yourself as the kind of person who does things that involve pain and bodily fluids, but there’s more to it than you realize. They will ask you a long retinue of questions. The questions are highly personal (“Have you ever given money in exchange for sex?” for instance). But don’t be offended; they only ask because they really care about you. Think of each question as an opportunity to imagine something you wish you’d done. Then describe the life you wish you’d had to this attentive, sympathetic audience. They will often ask lovely follow-up questions like, “What countries were they from?” or “How many times did you do that?” Again, it’s the bonds with other people that make life worth living, and you will find that your fantasies are more real when you share them with someone else. The difference between memory and fantasy is a slim one, and I propose that this is actually the better way to have a life of carnal debauchery. And don’t be afraid that you’ll have to pay for this experience by letting yourself be stuck with a needle. If you do it right, they won’t let you give blood anyway.

I have used these techniques to fill every day of my life with gratifying interactions. I hope they do the same for you!

More from “A Life Examined:”

The Saddest Reddit AMA Ever

Some Smell Thing

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After Accident, Utility Bars Investigators from Plant

A Northern California power company is stopping government inspectors from probing a mishap that sent five employees to the hospital.

Three days ago, workers at Tohd Power & Light were injured after a defective coupling allowed gasoline to leak. The company, headquartered in New Moldova, California, fifteen miles south of San Francisco, has denied any responsibility. The gasoline from the defective coupling ignited, and according to officials at New Moldova’s Alta Strench Hospital, five maintenance workers taking lunch outdoors in the company’s motor pool suffered “first degree burns on their lower backs and buttocks.”

Investigators want to inspect the facility to determine if the public is at risk and to discover the cause of the defective coupling, but the company has refused to let them enter. CEO Danvorious Tohd says he wants to “protect workers and managers from questioning by these invasive federal agents. This is our property. I’ll be damned if my people will be threatened by a bunch of government thugs masquerading as ‘investigators’.”

Tohd says his battle is a battle for human rights: “the human rights of people, and the human rights of corporations.”

The company has stationed private guards armed with shotguns, stun grenades, and high-powered rifles at its gates. Tohd says all guards have permits for the weapons, and adds that he is acting under the authority of a New Moldova ordinance that requires companies to ignore federal and state regulations that could impede economic growth and thereby harm the residents of New Moldova, while also empowering the head of any New Moldovan company with more than 1,000 employees to appoint a militia to defend and implement the law.

Tohd Power & Light is the only company of that size headquartered in New Moldova. It made substantial donations to city council members who supported the law. Nonetheless, councillor Jake Steppinup casts the law as an idealistic cry for local liberty and Tohd’s actions as heroic resistance to oppression. “We saw the Mary Jane lovers up in Oregon could just make their own rules, andtohdtread we thought we should do that here, too. People here love economic growth. Growth is the substance we want to ‘smoke’ and I think that’s a good thing. I know Dan Tohd and Dan Tohd couldn’t sleep at night, even after an hour in that 12-person jacuzzi he has, if he weren’t on the side of right.”

Yesterday afternoon, as government safety inspectors again demanded entry into the plant and were again rebuffed, Tohd, wearing a red windbreaker, climbed up a tower at the gate and spoke on a loudspeaker. His voice was heard more than a mile away. He said he’s “sick and tired of the government thinking they can abuse American citizens. I’m a citizen! I pay taxes! Well, actually I don’t pay taxes because of my shelters and deductions. But I still pay sales tax! And that’s the fairest tax of all because you’re only assessed on what you consume! The government should back off and start investigating real crime, like these guys who break into cars or rob banks.”

A bystander outside the fence who wore an orange t-shirt with “Let Tim Smoke” printed on it asked Tohd if by bank robbers he meant “rich Wall Street types who lost people’s money during the meltdown, and then begged for government help to save themselves?”

Tohd told the man to “Shut up.” Tohd then spoke to a guard, who appeared to make a phone call. Tohd climbed down from the tower, and several minutes later sheriff’s deputies arrived and handcuffed the bystander before driving him away in the back of a patrol car.

A researcher who specializes in corporate executive behavior says Tohd’s actions should be no surprise. Abraham T. Kornkeister, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, is co-author of the paper “Blow, Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks: Browbeating, Umbrage-Taking, and Childish Rampaging by CEOs at the Most Highly Profitable Companies.” In the paper, Kornkeister and his co-authors point out that despite the perception of some members of the public, many CEOs are not power-drunk manipulators. “Many heads of large corporations are decent human beings.”

Kornkeister’s research shows that CEOs at the most successful companies are often focused on profit and the accumulation of personal wealth, both of which are more important than human relationships.

One of Kornkeister’s co-authors, Gloria Foondozzle, a professor of management and organizations at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, says that for their study, ultra-powered CEOs were defined as those whose companies ranked in the top two percent in profitability within their respective sector, such as banking, phone manufacturing, or, in the case of Tohd Power & Light, electricity and natural gas distribution.

Tohd Power & Light is the second most profitable utility company in the United States, and the most profitable west of the Ohio River.

Kornkeister says that one sign of someone being an ultra-powered CEO is regular complaints of misbehavior from subordinates. He says that employees are on the receiving end of much of that bad behavior, but there is one non-employee, in almost every case, who takes the worst treatment. “The people these CEOs treat the worst are their spouses. Next worst off are the assistants of their direct reports, then middle managers (when they come into contact with them), then random delivery people, store clerks, and restaurant servers, then their domestic employees (when they come into contact with them), then their direct reports, then their neighbors, then their stepchildren, and then their own assistants.”

Almost never mistreated, the researchers found, are ultra-powered CEOs’ pets.

“The simplistic response is to call ultra-powered CEOs bad people,” says Foondozzle. “But that’s always a mistake. They are often misunderstood as being selfish or arrogant, but this is because of their relentless focus on what’s good for the company, which is, after all, a means for improving the collective good of many people. And their profits speak for themselves.”

Kornkeister adds, “Where would we be without great companies? It is companies, not artists or politicians, who are now pulling society forward, bringing us innovations and great ideas. The lone genius is long dead. We need to be very careful before we do anything that could shackle these geniuses of our age: the genius corporation.”

Kornkeister and Foondozzle’s work was funded by the Excellence Institute, a project of the US Chamber of Commerce.

Many residents of New Moldova say inspectors should be allowed onto Tohd’s property to check up on the operation.

“What if there’s an explosion?” resident Bob Darnit asks.

When questioned about public safety, Tohd says there is no danger because the plant is strategically located in a poor part of town.

Mortimer Fuckledunch, who lives in Orina Seca, about 30 miles south of New Moldova, says Tohd “should be able to do whatever he wants. It’s his company. He creates jobs. What do these ‘inspectors’ create except headaches and paperwork?”

More on Tohd Power & Light:

Utility Outsources Safety Inspections

Utility Executive Demonstrates How Average People Will Suffer if His Company Is Fined

More on life in the workplace:

Sociologist Finds Absurdity Has Critical Role in Human Power Dynamics

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A Middle Manager Fends Off an Attacker with His Resolve and Quick Thinking

CLIENT: This is unacceptable.

MIDDLE MANAGER: I’ll get my supervisor.

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A Middle Manager Heroically Fights the Battle of the Sexes by Dispensing Dating Advice to His Nephew

You would think it’s the really dark nose hairs you have to worry about, but actually it’s the light-colored ones. They stand out a lot more. Unless the dark ones are protruding from your nostrils—then you need to trim those, too.

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Alex Rodriguez Preemptively Apologizes for What the Next 40-Plus Years Are Going to Be Like

Author and occasional journalist Greg J. Detter was in New York over the weekend. Alex Rodriguez happened to take to a podium, and Greg was there to capture it. Rodriguez had some things he wanted to get off his chest—or perhaps his back—and spoke at length. Here’s the transcript of that ghastly appearance by ghastly A-Rod.

Listen, guys, I’m gonna be real honest with you right now. And let me clarify that pledge—I’ll be honest with you right now … and not a singlearodtaur-1 moment beyond that. I’ll evade, twist, muddy, cloud, and outright lie on the topic of my alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, but for one shining moment, I’m going to be uncharacteristically forthright.

This is gonna get ugly; it’s gonna get tired, and frankly, I’m going to drive this thing into the ground like a coffin, hopefully for years to come. And for that I apologize. I’m genuinely sorry … but make no mistake—I’m not nearly sorry enough to make this any less painful for fans of baseball or the general public overall. Buckle in, my friends, I’m not going away any time soon.

As the evidence against me mounts, coupled with my reduced suspension of 162 games, conventional wisdom says that I find the deepest hole, quietly crawl into it, and cross my fingers in hopes that history reflect kindly on my accomplishments when it’s time for Hall of Fame voters to decide my fate. But really, do you expect me—ME?—to embrace conventional wisdom? Not only am I much more comfortable spewing half-truths (no-truths) through these beautiful lavender lips of mine, but baseball has a precedent for ducking the truth in this situation. Hell, Pete Rose all but frolicked through the meadow with his bookmaker while Caesar’s Palace betting tickets dangled from his back pocket, yet he stood firm on a granite platform of denial for the better part of two decades before confessing to any semblance of guilt. Barry Bonds may as well have shot steroids in the batter’s box during Game Six of the World Series, but he appeared repeatedly on national TV with a head so inflated, he looked like a Blow Pop, pronouncing his innocence to an unbelieving yet deferential audience around the world.

Remember my high-profile interview with Peter Gammons a few years ago where I masterfully and categorically denied any wrongdoing, save for a brief error in judgment in 2003? Well, that interview will look like George Washington admitting to wayward use of an axe when you see the suspense-free theater with which I plan on regaling you across the coming decades. Anthony Bosch went on 60 Minutes recently, telling tales of drawing blood in a nightclub bathroom, blowing the whistle on the hundreds of text messages I sent him, and even exposing himself as a dumdum of the highest order for declining my offer of $50,000 just to keep his mouth shut. You may be moved by his account, but even the most compelling of evidence will crumble like yours truly in the playoffs when I play the “liar, liar, pants on fire” trump card. And if you’re not buying it, well, I just don’t care. I’m pretty sure the old saying doesn’t go “Confess! Confess! Confess!” As the great motivator Stuart Smalley once said, “denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.” And he’s right, because one of the few things I do better than flex my beautiful muscles is deny that they are anything less than God’s creation. Deny! Deny! Deny!

In the coming years, the interviews and statements are bound to appear on smaller stages under dimmer lights, but don’t mistake that for me going away. Peter Gammons will turn into Maury Povich, which will give way to me sharing a room with Dee Snider and William Baldwin on a VH1 reality show. I don’t care if I’m calling bingo at Adventureland Theme Park in Des Moines, Iowa—you’ll always be able to find me refuting any and all claims that I’m anything less than the pure-as-the-driven-snow slugger you’ve never so much as hoped I actually was. But hey … I’m innocent, so why wouldn’t I? LOL, right? Yeah, I know, I said I’d be truthful for the moment, but I really need the practice.

I suppose while I’m on this momentary vacation from my true character and under the very brief spell of honesty, there are a few others to whom I should apologize. Pipe down, Seattle, I’m not talking to you. If anything, you should be thanking me, or at least taking back all those hurtful letters you wrote me. You called me Pay-Rod and A-Fraud when I left for Texas—among other more colorful and vengeful sobriquets—but yours was the only team that got what everyone seems to have wanted from me—purity. I still don’t see why being pure is such a desirable quality, by the way. Do you want a virgin in a white dress or do you want a monster who hits 50 bombs a year?

Anyway … back to the apologies. I guess while we’re on the topic, I should probably say a little something to Ken Griffey, Jr. Griff, I’m sorry. I used to spit in your Gatorade and put my toenail clippings in your pregame sandwiches. But I was supposed to be the handsome golden boy—not you! And you know what? If you had gone the same route that I went later in your career, you might have been able to run from first to third without stopping by the Disabled List. Say what you want about my reputation, but you looked like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4 the last few years of your career.

Texas, you’re up next. I’m not above saying it … I’m genuinely sorry. I’m sorry I ever signed with the Rangers. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and your mouths are no exception. Yeah, in my three years in Arlington, I took more needles than a pin cushion, but I gave you what you paid for: 156 homers, three All-Star games, two Gold Gloves, and an MVP award. And you’re mad at me? I made Babe Ruth look like a Little Leaguer and traded my testicles for bacne … and I did it all for you. Texas, I’m sorry I’m not sorry. In fact, how about a thank you?

New York, I don’t even know what to say to you. I’m sorry I could never be your pretty boy Jeter. Hell, I thought I left Griffey in Seattle. What’s the obsession with these little angels? You may think Jeter’s shit doesn’t stink, but I’ve got news for you … well, you’re right. It doesn’t stink. In fact, it smells of lilacs with chamomile. But what makes Jeter so special? Because he’s actually good at professional baseball when the games matter the most? Hmmmph … big deal. Remember that 500-foot jack I hit against the Royals in July? You’re welcome. More on Jeter in a minute … and quite possibly for the rest of your life.

A couple others real quick: America, I’m sorry I ruined Madonna for you … and trust me, I don’t think you’re going to hear any complaints on my chemical makeup from the Material Girl, if you know what I mean. Also, my apologies if you can’t help but think of me when you watch There’s Something About Mary and Almost Famous, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of touching home plate with Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson. But, you know what, the truth is—see, truth again—I want you to think of me whenever you see one of those lovely dames of the silver screen. I want you to be forced through the power of insinuation to imagine my naked body lying and thrusting against hers. I want to be in your head all the time, because, really, I deserve that. Whether or not the Hall of Fame voters think I belong in their little club, I’ll definitely be in their heads, Kate’s heels bouncing off my grade-A gluteus.

Lastly, I can’t forget my boys over at the Biogenesis Clinic—even you, Anthony Bosch. I know I was your best customer, but those Nosey Nellies ruined that for all of us. It stinks, too. My Customer Rewards Card was full and I had a free shot coming. And that Bosch—for all his many faults—really knew how to mix a mean peach testosterone smoothie.

Guys, here’s the bottom line: I just wanted to be the man. You know the cool guy blaring music out of his Camaro, windows rolled down, slapping the side of his car to the beat of the music … that guy was the man! And I just wanted to be him. Really, is that so wrong? I would have done anything to be that guy. Anything. It’s important to me that you know what that means. Would I shoot, drink, eat, rub, and absorb any kind of performance enhancing drug under the sun, just to be the man? Well, obviously. But I wouldn’t stop there. I’d shoot a baby seal, eat it on Thanksgiving Day, wash it down with children’s tears and serve the Pope’s kidneys for dessert if it would make me a better player. Why doesn’t that level of commitment mean anything to you people? And why don’t I get credit for having not served that marine mammal-themed Thanksgiving dinner? Sure, you’ll have to slap an asterisk on just about everything I’ve ever done in my career, but you’ve never heard my name come up in any kind of baby seal poaching controversy. Yet you guys act like Jeter is the only good guy in the game. And that has always been my biggest problem. No matter what I do, it’s always been about Jeter. Jeter! Jeter! Jeter! [At this point Rodriguez pauses to regain his composure. He wipes tears from his eyes.] And before you ask, the answer is yes. Yes, I absolutely would slash Jeter’s carotid artery and harvest his organs for a couple points on my batting average.

In Seattle, Griffey was the man. But he was there before I got there and had time to brainwash the fans with his stupid backwards cap and childish grin. But when I got to Texas, it was like all my dreams had come true. I was the man. I was the guy blasting REO Speedwagon and slapping the side of my car. And look what happened when I was the man. I had one of the greatest three-year runs in the history of baseball because no one was casting a shadow on my radiant light. So when I got to New York, why wouldn’t I still be the man? Why would that Punch and Judy Jeter be so beloved by fans and teammates? Sure, he’s pretty, but have you ever seen him with his shirt off? He looks like Steve Urkel mixed with Screech. And Heaven forbid the golden boy ever have to hit the weight room or make a commitment to improve like the rest of us. Yet, despite his refusal to do everything it takes, we’re about to be subjected to six months of fans everywhere acting like Jesus Christ Himself is retiring. So what am I going to do with myself until I can get back to hitting majestic bombs thirteen months from now? The answer to that is simple: EVERYTHING I CAN. I’ll do every radio interview, talk show appearance, autograph signing, celebrity boxing match, and public appearance I can find. I’ll come to your kid’s bar mitzvah as long as you give me a microphone and an audience. I am—I AM!—going to outlast this guy and put the spotlight where it belongs … on The Man. A year from now, when he’s in his rocking chair and I’m getting showered with love and attention for my brilliant comeback season, we’ll never have to hear that name again. Jeter! Jeter! Jeter! [Rodrigueze pauses at length again.] … God, how I hate that [expletive] guy.

Anyway … I’m sorry. I’m not sorry for chemically engineering the five-tool stud I was for most of my career (though the only tools I could typically turn to in the post-season were sweaty palms and a tightly puckered you know what). I’m only sorry for what happens next. Dig in, pack a lunch, and brace yourselves because the only thing I do better than hit testosterone-fueled long balls is deny the obvious truth. I’m all natural, and I’m here for the long haul.

Read Greg J. Detter’s bio.

Read other preemptive apologies:

Brewers Fan Apologizes for What He Will Do in May 2014

LeBron James Apologizes for Not Doing Something, Whatever It Is, that You Think He Should, before Not Doing It

CEO Apologizes for Extra-Marital Affair She’s About to Have

Posted in A Life Examined | Comments closed

Success = Insanity

It has become clear to us that all successful people are completely insane. Some hide it better than others. But to our minds, whenever you look closely and long enough at someone who has attained a level of eminence, you’ll find there’s a sort of film between you and that person, because they have separated, if ever so slightly, from the reality you inhabit. This may seem obvious when you hear that Shaq spends $1,000 a week on apps, or that a senator like John McCain thinks his opinions matter. But look closely also at the people around you—your boss, or your boss’ boss, or your boss’ boss’ boss. Is there not something in them that remains ever unaccountable, a little odd?

We have been observing this universal companion of success for some time and have noted that it seems to be true across fields, personalities, and cultures that otherwise have about as much in common as a stalking cheetah and a raccoon carcass. So, we set our brains to trying to understand why this is so.

The key fact, which many people choose not to see, is that in any meaningful human endeavor—meaning one subject to the complexities of real life, not a game—it’s impossible to say with certainty why one effort succeeds where another fails. Think of two embryonic businesses or fledgling movies about to sail into the market. Sure we look back, after one has risen and one fallen, and find a batch of reasons for the difference—the plot, the lead actor—but no one can look at these things a priori and declare which will succeed. If they could, we wouldn’t have failures.

The greatest proof of this in our minds is that Shakespeare wrote King John. He’s arguably the greatest literary mind of all time, and he didn’t know ahead of time that that heap of words would bomb like a plucked turkey thrown from the Tower of London (or live turkeys thrown from a WKRP helicopter).

Add on the fact that, while we can’t know what actually made a venture successful (and the answer may be luck, which is just another word for “I don’t know”), we always look for explanations, clamp on to the ones that have the slightest meat of plausibility, and worry, shake, and gnaw them into splinters. Thus an actor, after appearing in one successful movie, gets a $20 million payday for his next project. Someone thought he was the reason the first film was a success.

So, we don’t know ahead of time what makes any effort successful or not, we then look desperately for a reason to explain it, and finally we try to repeat what we suppose worked. But, as you can probably see at this point, we’re as likely to be wrong as right in the factors we select to explain success, and thus what we go on repeating. And so each time we succeed, we risk moving further away from reality by repeating our mistaken twist of reality.

This process occurs in small-scale, individual successes as much as the familiar examples we’ve discussed above. Imagine a prototypical, unfortunate successful person as she goes through this painful process. She excels in school. She gets a good job and makes moves that lead to her shooting up the career ladder as her peers bob and lag behind her. She keeps doing things that work, and so she keeps finding explanations for why they worked, and then she keeps replicating those factors to repeat the success.

Maybe the first time she closed a deal, she was wearing heels, which made her feel taller and stronger. After wearing heels and succeeding a few times, she won’t wear anything but heels, and in fact becomes terrified of not having enough heels to wear. She probably has a closet full of them. Or maybe a whole vacation home stocked with backup heels. Or possibly she’s hired someone to buy as many heels as possible and always be on call, 24 hours a day, in case of emergency. Maybe she even has another person on call in Milan, Italy, which, if you consider it, is about the only place on the planet any reasonable woman would ever buy shoes (unless a Milanese cobbler comes to the reasonable woman’s home once or twice a year to fit her for her bespoke shoes).

You can see how success is like a train ride, moving consistently and inexorably toward Crazy Town. This phenomenon is acting all the time everywhere there’s success, but it’s often invisible, since the successful person rarely chooses an explanation as visible as shoes or a superstitious twitch—but rather chooses the most pernicious lie, their own competence. Thus, with each success, they become more and more convinced thatsuccess2 some quality within them—intelligence, persistence, talent, judgment, charm—is the consistent force nudging them up the ladder. Since they’ve found their explanation within themselves, they believe they deserve any recognition that comes with success. Thus you have arrogance. You have billionaires believing they’re entitled to whatever they have and whatever they don’t have but want, pegging the value of their souls at a few million times that of the average person because of the wealth they’ve accumulated through a series of successful decisions. Thus we have executives with gold wastebaskets in their offices. We have tycoons throwing parties where champagne pours out of ice statue penises. And they’re completely sure they deserve it. That is the dispositive symptom of their insanity.

Have we succeeded in convincing you?

Read other Stoneslide Corrective articles:

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Minister Trademarks Word “Fornicate”

An Evangelical Christian pastor hopes use of a word describing sex will put money in his bank account. The Reverend Johnny Gawn says, “the word ‘fornicate,’ first of all, should be stricken from the language. But if people must use it—and worse, commit it—it should give greater glory to God.”

Reverend Gawn says glory can best be given to God via revenues streaming into his—that is, the Reverend Gawn’s—bank account. Anytime anyone uses the word, he says, God should receive a royalty payment. “Whenever a preacher, whenever a righteous politician, whenever a God-fearing governor or a pious prosecutor, whenever a talk show host, teacher, or deacon uses ‘fornicate,’ God should be given the gains. The wages of sin are disbursements to our Lord and Savior!”

Gawn, the pastor at The Everlasting Love and Compassion of Christ church in Dimswarth, Indiana, says all forms of the word, including “fornicating,” “fornication,” and “fornicatorial,”—although “fornicatorial” might not in fact be a word—will fall under his trademark.

How does he claim ownership of a word that’s been around for centuries? “We all know that God created the act, right? So, He also created the wordwordsfromgod-1 that describes it. There would be no ‘fornicating’ without fornicating, would there? So, He naturally has a right to the word and I am merely His representative and claiming His rights,” he says.

Gawn says that proceeds from his trademarking of the word will go toward—or, in his words, “near”—his congregation’s Christian ministry to the needy and others.

Kemper Fide, an analyst with Morning Moon Investment Advisors, says the word “fornicate” and its various formations are used in written and verbal speech roughly 4.2 billion times a year throughout the English speaking world, particularly in the southern United States. “That could, theoretically, put a great deal of money in the Reverend’s bank account.”

However, Fide, says, collecting said money could prove problematic. “Look at [NBA executive and former coach] Pat Riley. He trademarked ‘three-peat.’  How did that work out for him? Or Gene Simmons of KISS trademarking use of the word ‘axe’ when it’s meant to indicate an electric guitar—it’s the same story. What’s this guy going to do, sell ‘fornicator’ t-shirts?”

No one has yet challenged the legality of Gawn’s claim, but Joan Van Sant, the policy director of the Midwest office of the ACLU, says the organization opposes this use of trademark law. “We can’t allow property rights to expand so far that they devour free speech rights. The Constitution protects our right to ‘fornicate,’ or ‘copulate,’ or ‘do it,’ or ‘get busy,’ or ‘make love,’ or ‘boink,’ or ‘f*ck’ or ‘hook up’ or ‘enjoy each other’s company,’ or ‘make like Wilt Chamberlain at a disco.’ That is all constitutionally protected speech.”

Dimswarth’s mayor, Henry Diptwiddle, says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the Reverend’s action could benefit the town’s poor. “Honestly, I’ve never heard of Pastor Gawn. But if he says he wants to help people, more power to him.”

Reverend Gawn says his move has already brought success. He says he’s secured a loan for a new Escalade  using projected “fornication” earnings as leverage. “Just think of all the furniture I’ll be able to deliver to homeless people with that thing.”

Reverend Gawn says he has plans to generate even more glory for God. He is teaming with a group of Jesuit priests to claim both trademark and copyright interest in the term “missionary position,” as well as any depiction of that act in movies or television. They calculate they are owed more than $12 million in royalties by Cinemax alone.

Read about other innovative approaches to generating or retaining wealth:

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True Things I Shouldn’t Have Said Anyway

WIFE: I’ll leave in a couple minutes, and I should be home by 5:30.

ME: Okay. Please drive carefully, sweetheart. I’d hate to get stuck making dinner for the kids if something happened to you.

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True Things I Shouldn’t Have Said Anyway

COWORKER: Good morning.

ME: Hi. How was your weekend?

COWORKER: Same old. But any weekend’s good. How about you?

ME: Yeah, the usual. Though a funny thing happened last night.

COWORKER: Yeah, what?

ME: I had this really long, intense sexual dream about you.

More True Things I Shouldn’t Have Said Anyway

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True Things I Shouldn’t Have Said Anyway

WIFE: Will you ever leave me?

ME: Never! I mean, not unless I get one of those brain tumors that makes you do crazy stuff. Like the guy who became an arsonist.

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Advice to Expectant Mothers

Advice to Expectant Fathers

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