Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Think I've Been Spending Too Much Time on Facebook

by Shia LaBeouf

I think I’ve been spending too much time on Facebook. I have a lot of friends to catch up with (not to mention keep up with), but recently I've been wondering why I do it at all.

It’s hard to admit this, but I think I have a need to be “liked.” I remember shooting scenes for Transformers 3 with Rose Huntington-Whiteley, and after a few takes she whispered something a little naughty involving her trailer, so I followed her. After a few minutes, it was really hard to reach my pants, but my Droid was in there and I couldn’t wait to put all of this in a status update!

All of my friends seem to be doing really well, and I want them to know that I am too! Ben was able to restore is his ’72 Chevy Nova! And Mary’s littlest one sure seems like a handful!

Sometimes when I say something that I think is really interesting, then only 27 of my friends respond, I feel like a failure. I usually toss my prototype iPad 3 to my assistant and sulk to my hot tub, then I kick anyone out who’s in there and think about how I can do better next time.

When I am trolling around looking for friends to add, I wonder: Will Jimmy remember me from high school? Then I realize how silly I’m being. I mean not everyone is named Shia!

I was talking to Harrison Ford about how super weird it is that a lot of times I can’t find some of my high school friends on Facebook. I wonder if they’re in prison, or maybe even dead! But then we realized that maybe a lot of them are on Myspace, and we had a big chuckle about that. What losers!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Transmittal Room Caper Involving Pens

There is a strange phenomenon taking place that involves the unwanted relocation of pens.  They keep disappearing from the room in which we faithful government clerks record the sending and receiving of scores of thrilling documents.  Who among us has the capacity to believe that any human being can possibly keep his exhilaration leashed in this realm of wonder, excitement, and bountiful refreshments?

If my digression offends you, I am sorry.  The matter at hand:  At 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), I placed two pens in what I shall hereafter refer to as the “pen can." As I have described, the transmittal room is a hotbed of activity throughout the day, and pens are the weapon of choice when official business is waged.  They are locked and loaded in the pen can, and are quickly lost to the battlefield -- or so it would seem.  However, these pens are not useful outside of the transmittal room, as our individual stations come armed with pens, many of which have been a part of my mighty corps from its inception.  Why would a loyal servant to the every whim of Uncle Sam pilfer these necessary tools in the war to achieve balanced measures, when such tools are superfluous to those our fair leaders have already provided?

By the grace of God himself, I intend to find out.  This is why I placed two pens from my own arsenal in the common pen can:  I want information.  How much time will elapse from the 3:00 p.m. (EST) pen placement to the inevitable point in the future when the pen can is found, bereft of ammunition?

One pen writes in black, the other in blue.  Which will be taken first?  Will the perpetrator display a preference for one of the two colors?  Should I have included a red pen -- and if so, is all lost, am I a pathetic failure who needs extensive therapy?  Is my family embarrassed by me?  What actually comprises me, anyway?


It's time to criticize others.  Our crew consists of jelly-legged slackers, mischevious drug users, puzzled country folk, and abject depressives who exist in a sea of endless gloom.  How any work gets done at all is a mystery. 

The lack of work ethic and general malaise present in the workforce leads me to believe that the pens were not taken by someone who needs pens to produce anything in a business sense.

We do not ply our trade in a secure area; maybe some other federal meat puppet meandered into our domain, boldly navigated our maze of teal cublicles, and found the jackpot of pristine pens, nearly begging to be plundered by this sweat-glazed miscreant?

One of the following theories that I have formulated through exhaustive interviewing, profiling, and evidence tampering must answer the question to an objective standard.  But which is it?

Possibility #1:

A member of our distinguished team, heretofore known as Whiny Smurf, is an obsessive hoarder.  But why pens?  Of all the items one could hoard in a bloated government office, pens seem among the least fascinating.  They are ordered in bulk, so they all look similar.  The ones that look different are from the early 70's, and are used to scratch indentations on documents in a series of fruitless attempts to draw ink from their post-menopausal, dry wells.

Our hoarder is a misanthrope, as many of our lot are.  He or she has learned to harness this compulsive need to collect anything and instead solely target pens; pens that the rest of us, when cattle-prodded out of the caked, ass-printed residue covering our chairs, need in order to fulfill our diverse and rewarding clerical duties.  Cluster bombs of annoyance are exploded throughout the day as the empty pen can flummoxes individual members of the workforce.  The dastardly pen thief is satisfied, inwardly cackling, temporarily at peace.  Eventually the sense of amusement dissipates and then back to a sad life of cable television and forlorn masturbation goes Whiny Smurf.  Soon the cold villian is back at this vile pursuit:  The cycle continues.   

Possibility #2:

A cult has formed!  A dread combination of paper dust, processed snacks, and ennui has caused a strain of dementia within many of the elderly and obese among our ranks, inspiring them to unite under the umbrella of a new religion.  This belief system involves the use of common workplace implements in the construction of a grand altar to an obscure god who feeds on ink, blood from paper cuts, and despair.  This god rewards his flock with valuable double coupons, gift certificates, and tickets for a menagerie of instant lotto games.  Unfortunately, the dark-natured deity requires endless offerings of office supples and bat flesh to satiate his narcissistic desire for utter, unquestioning worship.  And so the absurd altar grows, as the faithful go to reckless lengths to procure the sacred office items.  Our pens disappear in a void of mindless exaltation to an uncaring god.

Possibility #3:

A potential infiltrator takes note of our bored, disinterested manner and senses an opportunity to take advantage of our apathy.  His unit uses pencils:  eraseable.  He hasn't signed anything in ages.  He's hungry.  A perpetually clumsy member of our team drops a bottle of ink in a botched attempt to inhale whatever heady fumes may be present within.  The scent of black gold pooling on the floor wafts into the nostrils of our intruder.  He stifles a gasp and scuttles back behind the wall next to the water fountain, feeling around for his inhaler and the bag of Cheetos.

A plan is hatched.  Just after our last clerk waddles toward the elevator, marking the completion of another productive shift, the shady pen-seeker will create a distraction to keep our manager from being alerted as he searches for our prized stash.  The manager's coffee is spiked:  hallucinogens!  As her green daughter laughs at her from above and below, face squirming in a seething lake of pus and miniature demons, our manager does not notice as the bold infiltrator finds our loot.  He almost absconds unfettered, but wait!  One of our finest clerical experts has been sleeping for hours, awakened now by the primal screams of our tortured manager.  She locks eyes with the thief, but before she can call for assistance, something about him assures her not to.  He is dangerous, yes, but then again she could use a little danger.  He goes to her, whispering loudly enough to be heard over her manager's desperate, psychotic bleating, and tells her of his woe. 

She agrees to assist him, stashing pens whenever the opportunity presents itself.  She's never felt so...alive.  Her obsession with this stranger from another clerical unit intermingles with her obsession with taking pens that aren't hers; the intoxication overwhelms her.  She's the quiet one, and as such has little trouble keeping her bad habits secret...for now...

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Was Already Aware Of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer awareness month is upon us again, and the National Football League is drenched in pink.  It's good to be aware of breast cancer, but do we need an entire month of guys in hot pink shoes and wristbands to raise the profile of this disease?  It's a little much, and this is coming from someone whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly nine years ago (she fully recovered).  Obviously it's good to bring attention to a disease that kills people, but there are plenty of diseases that are awful, along with countless causes deserving of attention.  Smoking and obesity combine to kill 700,000+ people per year.  Heart disease kills more people than breast cancer...obviously the list of horrible health issues people face could go on and on.

It's probably because breast cancer is an easy cause to promote that the NFL participates so aggressively.  It has a distinctive color (pink).  It kills our mothers and daughters (sad).  Anyone who questions raising breast cancer awareness (whatever that actually means) is an asshole (myself).  The NFL can look quite socially conscious about a health issue as their massive, manly players throw on the least manly color in the spectrum in a display of empathy and grace.  Now only if the NFL cared about other health issues, like the long term well-being of their players...

HBO's Real Sports featured the effects of concussions on ex-NFL players to devastating effect, and the NFL has adopted new concussion guidelines.  Okay, that's progress.  So why are the owners insisting on expanding an already brutal 16 game season to 18 games?  Injuries have been widespread this year as they are every year.  It isn't natural for the biggest, fastest, most athletic men on the planet to repeatedly smash into each other at full speed.  The game is barely manageable now; adding two more games seems unnecessarily cruel.  That's one reason I've always found it ridiculous to bitch about Player X's salary - isn't he the one going out and risking his body and brain for this sport?  Pay him!  We're talking about billions of dollars of television revenue, merchandising...why shouldn't the player get the larger cut?  Very few people seem to question the profit margin of the fat cat owner, the one sitting in the luxury box making money hand over fist at no physical peril to himself.

The hypocrisy of a giant moneymaker like the NFL is not surprising, and after all the players do willingly participate and should be aware of the dangers of the sport. That doesn't mean the league isn't responsible for caring for the long term health of the players, but if they show they're actually making progress in that area (whether pressured by Congress or not) then that's good.

But if they want to be a truly socially conscious organization, they'll adopt more causes that actually need their profiles raised instead of taking the easy way out.  A month dedicated to breast cancer awareness isn't a bad thing in itself, but too much time focused on one issue takes time away from other causes that actually do need broad attention.  Obesity awareness would be a good start - ever seen a Packers fan?  There are plenty of worthwhile charities to support.  Focusing on one for an entire month in a flashy display of political correctness is not really doing much good. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Burnin' Books and Raisin' Hell

Well, the Quran burning event scheduled for the anniversary of 9/11 has been canceled by Terry Jones, leader of a congregation of fifty Floridians.

What does it all mean? First of all, some obscure pastor was able to draw the attention of:

- The commanding general in Afghanistan

- Political celebrity Sarah Palin

- President Obama

All because he decided that burning Qurans on the anniversary of 9/11 was a fine idea.  It strikes me that burning books, flags - anything symbolic to a large amount of people really - demonstrates both a lack of ability to form an intelligent argument and an overwhelming need for attention.  Sure, it’s protected speech, but so is screaming racial epithets on the radio, and we saw how that worked out for the charming Dr. Laura Schlessinger.  At least she apologized and seemed to understand that what she did was in poor judgment and taste.  This Jones fellow doesn’t seem poised to follow her example.

Let’s forget him and all of the rest of the players in this ridiculous saga for a moment.  If anyone needed further proof of the power of connectivity through technology, this was it.  I mean, how else would this leader of nearly no one garner worldwide, intense scrutiny?  So he wants to burn religious books. Okay, but if this were 1995 no one would know about it, and therefore no one would care.  Even during the few years after 9/11 there was no Twitter or Facebook, RSS feeds weren’t in wide use yet – this wouldn’t have drawn nearly the attention it has.  When people in predominantly Muslim countries around the world are planning protests and are gathering outside of U.S. embassies, and many of the leaders of those countries are concerned over the antics of a batshit Florida pastor whose congregation numbers in double digits, the world has become small indeed.

Of course, the controversy over the proposed Cordoba House community center in New York City paved the way for this nonsense.  Let’s thank Sarah Palin for another substantive and successful foray into the dregs of the political/mass media culture.  After all, she sent the important message to America, through her free Twitter account, that a mosque on Ground Zero would “stab hearts.”  Thanks for that. No, really.  I don’t have time to explore the subtleties and sensitivities of the complex and unstable relationship between the Western world and Islamic culture.  Muslims are all bad, according to you. Thank you for simplifying things, as always.

One last note on Palin the Political Prankster (NYSE symbol: PPP):  Contrary to my prediction that she would stay silent on this issue, she condemned Pastor Jones and asked him to “stand down.”  Well, if she had shown a track record of responsible, coherent statements on the array of issues that she has commented on, she would deserve credit.  However, on her Facebook page, she compares the insensitivity of burning Qurans to the (in her mind) insensitivity of building a community center in New York City.  Is there any point in illustrating the difference between burning sacred religious texts (a negative thing to do) and building an interfaith community center which features Christians, Jews, and Muslims on the board of directors (a positive thing to do?)  She started this mess with her insistent Twitter firebombing and now must resort to this ridiculous attempt at correlating these two issues to maintain any sort of credibility.  I’m convinced she could say anything at this point and maintain her following, outside of “Gee, liberals ain’t half bad.”

The whole damned summer has been pretty awful:  economic disaster, the massive oil spill, the wars overseas, the cultural wars at home.  The difference between the first three and the last one is that the outrage directed at American Muslims is completely manufactured by political opportunists, who exploit vague paranoia and a xenophobic tendency to distrust the “other.”  Palin, Newt Gingrich and the like provide the fame necessary to focus Americans, who wouldn’t normally be thinking about land issues concerning New York City property distribution, in a negative fashion concerning the supposed evils of a religion that has been around since the 7th century and has over a billion followers.  We have enough real problems.  We don’t need to be distracted by those tailored from whole cloth in the interest of advancing the political careers of the psychotic.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Tea Party Approach

What’s the best way to approach the Tea Party? If the whole thing is just ridiculous, then the options are a) make fun of them, or b) apathy. It is a huge movement, and I hesitate to write them off without some analysis, despite their lack of focus and general goofiness.

The Tea Party is apparently a loose association of dissatisfied Americans who fear the massive federal deficit, oppose higher taxes, and seem to have a bone to pick with government in general, specifically president Obama as the representative of bureaucratic evil.

Well, all that is fine. I don’t have a problem with the existence of this political movement. It’s actually refreshing to see a significant amount of citizens who routinely make headlines by peacefully assembling and airing their grievances. Of course they’re angry – if they weren’t they probably wouldn’t bother showing up, right? Where was all this righteous anger when we were torturing people?

The issue is that it’s difficult to understand clearly the grievances, and once partially understood, the reasoning behind them. Let’s break it down.

The Deficit

I don’t know anyone who ponders the well-being of the country and comes to the conclusion that everything is just fine with the deficit. Of course it’s a huge problem. Entitlements make up somewhere around half of the budget, yet when polled the majority of Tea Party members don’t want their Social Security or Medicare benefits cut. Well neither do I. But I’m not running around Washington D.C. dressed as Ben Franklin, holding a picket sign featuring Obama sharing a banana with Stalin while screaming incoherently about deficits and the Constitution.

And hey guys, what about military spending? It’s a massive part of the budget too, around $800 billion a year, yet most Tea Party folks seem to accept this spending without protest. I understand the idea that we must defeat our enemies at all cost, but I’m not sure about the effectiveness of developing 20 new $11 billion aircraft carriers in the interest of defeating guys in caves.

Until Tea Partiers embrace a holistic approach to the deficit, which would include spending cuts in all areas, including entitlements and military spending, it’s impossible to take this aspect of their complaint seriously. This leads to the next area of Tea Party angst, which is taxation.


I don’t think opposition to higher taxes represents some sort of selfishness within anyone except for the wealthiest among us, who know how to game the system and do so quite effectively. Your average Tea Partier is more concerned with how their taxes are applied, and the effect higher taxes could have on the economy. It’s a “taxation without representation” argument, which is why the Tea Party moniker was applied in the first place. No problem there; we all want to know where our money is going and why, and we should have questions.

The problem is that if you’re part of a movement which is mostly concerned about deficits and have done any homework on the issue, you should realize that higher taxes are inevitable if you expect your representatives to do anything about the deficit. Spending cuts, higher taxes. That’s how the deficit is fixed. You can’t support every military adventure the U.S. embarks on, expect your Social Security benefits to be paid in full, refuse to cut spending in these areas, refuse to accept higher taxation on even the wealthiest members of our society, then whine about deficits. Well you can, but that sort of behavior is sure to expose your idiocy.

Also, why all the anger directed at Obama over taxation? Taxes haven’t been raised, they’ve been cut. Even the wealthiest among us, while not having their taxes cut, have enjoyed the same tax rate that was present when Obama was inaugurated. 40% of the hated stimulus package involved tax cuts, including the Making Work Pay tax credit. Nobody in this country has had their taxes raised during the Obama administration’s time in office.* This isn’t a matter of opinion; look at the actual bills that have been passed. I’m all for criticizing the president, any president, but it’s a good idea to include substance within the criticism. Otherwise, why would you expect to be listened to?

Not to say that Obama is above criticism; there’s plenty to complain about. But setting him up as a piƱata to beat on whenever you’re angry about something isn’t legitimate. It’s intellectual laziness.

I read the coverage of the recent Glenn Beck rally, which reportedly was peaceful and largely apolitical. It seems as if it was some sort of revival, though the title of the (speech?) was “Restoring Honor.” Our honor as Americans must be restored, which should start by adhering to agreed upon laws regarding torture and Constitutional guidelines with respect to conduct of war. When people break those laws, they should be prosecuted. That’s the honorable thing to do. The best defense of America is to uphold agreed upon laws. None of that was an aspect of the rally, which isn’t a surprise, although you would think that a gathering of concerned Americans would realize that laws create the fundamental freedoms we enjoy, and that wanton breaking of them endangers those freedoms.

What I don’t understand about the rally is this: If it wasn’t about politics, then why was the Tea Party involved? There’s nothing wrong with public prayer service, it’s a basic freedom, but the Tea Party is supposed to be about the direction of the country with respect to deficits and taxation. If that’s not what this gathering was about, what was the point of their attendance? I’m not sure.

The Tea Party’s presence at this event is indicative of its scatterbrained nature, at least in this nascent phase. It’s a confused, unfocused confederation of angry people who aren’t clear on what they’re actually angry about. Hey, anger is fine. Popular political movements can give hope that Americans still care about the direction of the country. But without substance, focus, or intelligent arguments, any political movement is meaningless. It will be interesting to see if this particular movement gathers anything but steam.