Holding my tongue. Holding my tongue. Holding my tongue.

When people are too irrational to bother arguing with, there are a few strategies that can be used. PZ Myers is a proponent of ridicule, and that seems to be fairly effective in many cases. However, if no intervention is required in order to prevent harm to third parties, I prefer to go with the tested and true “don’t feed the trolls” method (if you can call it a method, considering that it calls for doing absolutely nothing). Trolls can eat anything. Even completely ignoring them can occasionally encourage them. However, if a tree falls in the forest blah blah blah, and I think something about a black box full of question marks or an orbiting teapot might be relevant here as well.

One of my favourite applications of troll non-feeding is from The Simpsons episode “Treehouse of Horror VI”, where the characters are sold on the idea that “if people stop paying attention to [advertising], pretty soon, it goes away” by a jingle, performed by Paul Anka. Of course, “advertising” here refers to monstrous commercial mascots brought to life by an ionic disturbance, but if you take the word “monsters” metaphorically, this little song provides excellent instructions for handling bullshit (and it’s currently stuck in my head):

Paul Anka: To stop those monsters 1-2-3,
Here’s a fresh new way that’s trouble-free,
It’s got Paul Anka’s guarantee…
Lisa: Guarantee void in Tennessee.
All: Just don’t look! Just don’t look!
Just don’t look! Just don’t look!
Just don’t look! Just don’t look!

It’s hard to remain passive when confronted by painful levels of stupid (I’ve been struggling all day), but together, we can do it!

I’d tell you who inspired me to post this, but they’re egosurfers, and I don’t want to feed them. If you get information from the same sources as me, and know anything about me (both semi-likely, if you’re reading this), you might be able to guess. But don’t. Because then they will have won.

Midnight schmidnight

Midnight is a pretty silly concept. Personally, I would choose to change the date at dawn. But if you’re going to have the calendar flip at midnight, at least make it the proper solar midnight. The whole calendar and time system on this planet is batshit. Whatever. My point is this: I consider birthdays to be the 24 hour(ish) (a day is not 24 hours long) period surrounding someone’s time of birth. Probably. I’m not goofy enough to check into how different measurements of the concept of a “year” might affect things. I’m not sure I remember what time I was born. But I think it was 4:10am EST or something? Which means my birthday began at 4:10pm EST today, and I don’t have to wait until midnight for you to start buying me stuff and being nice to me.The end. Okay, I don’t expect you to buy me stuff. And you should be nice to me all the time. So what is my point? I don’t know, but it’s my birthday, so I don’t need one (as if I ever worry about that kind of thing).

I never did believe in luck

Thinking yourself “lucky” is to deny credit for success. Thinking yourself “unlucky” is to deny responsibility for failure. Big duh right there. Common sense.

Of course, I don’t believe in common sense, either. I readily admit that much of my “common sense” comes from good ol’ book learnin’. Whatever I know about luck probably comes from some epistemological blather I can’t remember reading during grade school.

In any case, I’m clumsily expanding into words the above chunk of my “luck” gestalt for my own benefit, because I think it was losing integrity (,captain).

Concept and principle reestablished. Carry on as usual.

Shopping bag reusability hierarchy

Reduce, re-use, and recycle. But watch out when it comes to reusing shopping bags to carry your pumps while you commute to work in your New Balance sneakers. It’s important to coordinate. Not every bag goes well with your North Face jacket. Here are a few different sorts of bags, listed from lowest to highest level of yuppie acceptability:

Wal-Mart: Never acceptable. Why were you shopping at Wal-Mart to begin with? Why were you even in that part of town? I would put Sears in this category as well, if only because their bags are butt-ugly. Black bags from the liquor store and take-out bags with smiley faces should also never be reused.

Jewel/other thin grocery style bag: Only as a last resort. Trashy, and shows you don’t give a shit about the environment, because you clearly forgot your canvas bags at home last shopping trip.

Aldi: Still pretty trashy, but not as much, ’cause these are thick and durable. Shows that you’re cheap, since you shop at Aldi, but that’s kinda in fashion, so it’s passable.

Target: Your bag must at least meet the Target standard in in order to avoid cut eye.

Mall store: The more expensive the store, the more reusable the bag, except that paper beats plastic almost every time (fancy plastic shit like you’d get at Urban Outfitters can occasionally beat paper).

Major department store: Unless it’s from Macy’s, you’re all good. If it’s from Macy’s, you will lose points from the sort of dipshits that whine about the loss of Marshall Field’s, so carry with caution.

Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods: Hipster status symbol. Most rush-hour commuters will approve muchly. You may not care about the environment, but you care about looking like you do, and that’s good enough for credit.

Designer boutique: Clearly, you have a lot of money. Use this bag until it falls apart.

Fellow broke-asses: learn some damned math.

Most of the people I associate with online and off are college students, college dropouts, freelancers, or artists of various sorts. I fall into several of those categories, myself. None of us have a lot of much any money, so it is absolutely necessary to economize. Sometimes this means buying the cheapest available products. Buying the cheapest products requires determining exactly which products those are.

A small bottle (14 oz.) of mustard costs $1.89. A bigger bottle (20 oz.) of mustard costs $2.19. Which bottle of mustard is cheaper? Duh. The small one. Which mustard is cheaper? Duh. The mustard that comes in the bigger bottle. Which one do you buy? Well… a bottle of mustard doesn’t go bad for upwards of a year. Duh. Buy the bigger one. Hell, buy the biggest one (I took the prices from Peapod, and they don’t have many options to choose from). You’ll probably want to make sure you buy the least expensive brand, too. Because it’s freakin’ mustard. Seriously. The ingredients consist mainly of water, vinegar, and mustard. You’re not going to notice much of a difference.

Unless you’re buying something that goes bad quickly (bread, for instance, and even then, you could potentially freeze it — not that you can usually buy bread in bulk anyway), you should almost always buy the biggest size possible. Or whichever option has the lowest price per unit (the local Jewel has smallest sizes of antihistamines and aluminum foil priced lower per unit than the largest — I presume they must have some sort of logic behind that). This doesn’t even require math skills anymore. Most stores have unit cost on their labels these days.

But what do I see people doing time and time again? Buying the smallest, cheapest possible unit of things (and often the smallest option is a brand name, bumping the ppu up even more). What suckers! You could have been saving those extra pennies, or at least buying beer with them (maybe economizing = more beer* will motivate you). Way to stay broke for the rest of your life! The usual excuse is “but I don’t have enough money to get everything I need, if I don’t buy the smallest one.” Okay. Fine. That works. For the tail end of one paycheque. Next time, think ahead. If you always go with the most cost effective option instead of the (momentarily) cheapest option, you won’t have to rebuy everything 12 times a month. You’ll just have to refill them as they run out, which will be much less frequently.

Now, times when you might want to consider buying things that are smaller or more expensive do pop up. Maybe you don’t have much storage space. Maybe the brand name of something is watered down. Maybe you don’t have a car and you can’t carry the largest fricken’ sack of potatoes home. Maybe when it comes to things other than groceries, it’s better to spend $150 on a pair of shoes that will last you 5 years than to buy a pair of $25 shoes every six months (plus, guys, better shoes will get you chicks). I’d tell you to work out the math, but if you can’t even figure out which bottle of mustard to buy, you’re a lost cause, anyway.

P.S. If you’re broke, stop buying bottled water. Seriously. You’re a moron.

P.P.S. 1-ply toilet paper won’t save you money. It’ll tear up your ass, and you’ll just use three times as much of it. 3 x 1-ply = 3-ply. It’s Cottonelle in bulk for my posterior.

* Not that you should be drinking beer, when it’s so much more cost and time effective if you buy the hard stuff.

Okay, fuck. It’s time to eliminate pennies.

No Change For You: AMC Theaters “Doesn’t Carry Nickels?” – Consumerist

Apparently, AMC doesn’t carry nickels (uh, duh, see the headline above). Presumably, then, they don’t carry pennies, either. And why should they? When a teensy tray of nachos costs $8, and you’re already being ripped off (fer fuck’s sake — maybe get rid of the 9,823,745 flat screens showing a static menu, and charge a bit less), why would anyone care about five cents? And why the hell would anyone care about one cent? They fucking wouldn’t.

There are a number of people passing through my apartment on a regular basis, and three or four or five people here on a regular basis. These people obviously don’t care about pennies at all, because when I go to vacuum (and I’m the only one that ever does it, by the way…), there are 982,734 pennies on the floor. I have to stop every time I find one to bend over and pick it up. The value of a penny is now less than the amount we’d expect to be paid to bend over. Seriously. If someone was to ask me to bend over, I’d demand… at least a quarter. And if you ask me… any denomination of currency that the average person can’t be bothered to reach down to the ground to pick up… That denomination has no sense existing. The sooner we eliminate the penny, the sooner my back rejoices.

I’m online because I’m antisocial*, durr

My internet connection sucks, and throws me offline a number of times a day. Just because you see me come “online” on any IM service (especially Yahoo, since it never preserves my away status), it doesn’t mean I’m now sitting in front of my machine, waiting eagerly to talk to you. If you’ll notice, I’m usually connected 24 hours a day. Coming online from having just been offline means my modem thought it should take a short break. It works hard Torrenting things all day, you know. Coming online from having just been away means I might actually want to chat. This never happens. Don’t get excited if you think you see it. You probably just weren’t paying enough attention.

Summary: Don’t ever IM me.

* Popular but completely incorrect usage of this word, I know. Sue me.

Why is that asterisk a square. Hm. WordPress, are you <li>ifying my asterisks without my permission?