Kill Your TV, Stupid

Ask yourself how many TV shows you’ve watched this past year. Go ahead and say it aloud. Did you do that? I can’t hear you, because I’m not there. Nor is anyone on the other side of that screen that most people spend hours every day passively staring at.

If you did say it aloud, you’ve passively accepted and obeyed a command from someone you likely will never meet. This is how watching TV works. This behavior, exhibited by over a billion people every day, is one of the many reasons why most people are stupid.

Apparently people do this voluntarily or we wouldn’t have prime-time television. If you choose to partake in this passive sport, that’s your freedom of choice to be among the many who just let life roll on by. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a TV show, or what that TV show was! That’s not to say I’m stupid. We all do and say stupid things, but some of us to a lesser degree than others.

But it’s this passivity of watching TV that’s the problem. A TV is just a box with sound and pictures. It can’t grow beyond that or it wouldn’t be a TV anymore. And because people refuse to accept their passive behavior, realize they’re stupid, then they will never grow beyond the couch.

It’s not just time spent watching TV that’s stupid, either. It’s money, too! No, no, not the money you could be earning if you weren’t watching TV, nor the money that the TV itself cost. I’m talking about subscriptions to services that cost in the hundreds per month. I hear from people they’re spending well over $200 a month on TV alone! That’s enough to feed a family of four for a few weeks, if you stretch it out correctly.

So where’s the math in that? If you can save $200 a month for one year, and feed your family for an extra two weeks per each of those months, then don’t you feel stupid with that large TV bill? How many times do you need to see your favorite football team play, twelve times a year… for ten years. That’s $200 x 12 x 10… that’s $24,000! Bet you didn’t think of that math, no did you? You can buy Superbowl tickets for less than that, and have a once in a lifetime, unforgettable moment seeing LIVE football.

Big Picture Show

There was once a time in my life where I cared about society’s problems. I felt a debate was worth it. And I should do my part and voice my opinion. However, through my twenties, I confirmed my suspicion that giving a shit about the big picture is a complete and utter waste of time.

I don’t care about drug use. I don’t care if athletes use steroids and their neck explodes. Not my mess to clean up. Feel free to legalize weed, crack, and meth. Not only will it bring us good entertainment on the morning news, it will let the species sort out the weak minded as they crash and burn harder and faster. If we want a real debate if evolution is real, I say, let’s witness it first-hand.

I don’t care about the privacy debate. If it means they get what they want, people will give information to the highest bidder or lowest cost alternative. Concerning Apple’s stance to refuse decryption of the iPhone of a dead terrorist: I don’t give a fuck. He’s dead. Justice has been served in the proper manner. He fought the law, and the law won. No further answers need to be.

The media and lawyers have convinced people that closure can only be achieved through a thorough understanding of the criminal mind. I don’t give a shit about the mind of a pedophile, a murderer, an arsonist, or anything else. In case you haven’t been tracking the news over the past thirty years, but this sad attempt at solving a bigger problem – preventing crime itself – is a complete waste of time. This attempt to understand, to know more, is worthless. Take a page from the old West: shoot first and ask questions later.

5 Reasons We’re a Throw Away Society

The votes are in, and they have been tossed out in lieu of my conclusion of the top five reasons we, especially here in America, are a throw-away society.

#1: Everything is Made in China

Look to Americans to devalue products made from a land abroad. For all we complain of stagnant wages, we’re sure proud that prices are low, as low as the quality of products we didn’t even make.

#2: Plastic is Cheap

Plastic, an amazing invention, feels like the cheapest thing in the world. We make toys out of if, wrap our food in it, and some of us go so far as to infuse our tits with them, just to look a little better than the other chick.

Its immense versatility and infinite life span provides us the sense we don’t have to worry about it losing value. If one had to worry about their possessions, they would care for them, like their car. Thankfully, our cars aren’t entirely made of plastic… yet.

#3: Produce from Mexico, Pills from Canada

It shouldn’t surprise anyone the reason for low priced food and pills: they, too, come from abroad. Once upon a time, there was a farmer in Arkansas. That’s about it for that.

#4: Middle East TurmOIL.

Slipped a pun in there for ya. Speaking of slipping, did you know that Americans only value the oil they have at home? We fight hard to protect it, but not as hard as we fought to ship it in from the other side of the world. Where people live in the mountains, the sand, and houses made of rock, instead of wood.

Then again, it’s over there, not our problem.

#5: Clothes Made by Children

Child labor is an awful thing, so the commercials say. This one I don’t get. When was the last time anyone was proud to wear something made by a child other than their own? Nobody? That’s what I thought.

If we all made our own clothes, we could put an end to the apathy. Then again, most will stick to the good ol’ American way of “Who gives a shit?”

Not Drinking is My Problem

Carl visits a shrink.Hi, my name is Carl, and I’m twenty-nine years sober. I’ve been able to abstain from partaking in the communal bonding fluid that assists in releasing inhibitions.

What was once judged a psychological malfunction of naivety is actually an ailment I refuse to experience again. I tried wine this past summer, and in five minutes a sharp pain moved into my forehead, renting the space for three days. This, from the amount you’d take of NyQuil to cure a cold.

My sobriety poses serious social risks, including: Crossing the line between refusing kind gestures and respecting my wishes; being sanctioned for committing a travesty upon a non-existent trust; severing ties that had not been sewn; and breaking bonds that were not bound.

Mixed reactions are expected when one learns I don’t drink. Typically, it is a question that screams I have crossed a moral boundary: “What, you don’t drink!?” I’ve suddenly become an anomaly in the social-acceptance-continuum. This reaction is inevitably followed by, “Why? What prohibits you from maintaining a balanced diet with a three-to-one ratio of fermented hopps-to-water?”

Coworkers don’t pressure me to drink at work and they enjoy my company. My family doesn’t pressure me to drink and they enjoy my company. In fact, anywhere that alcohol is not the central purpose for being there, I am accepted. I can hang out at parties of people I know who are drinking and have no problem. But bars? Forget it.

When someone points out that I don’t drink it puts me on the spot: I’m the poster they pinned on the wall, the center of discussion. Their pressure creates a sense of shame as others look on, waiting for me to give in and give up, or be the stick in the mud. I feel embarrassed because I have to expose myself to the judgement of others, when I didn’t ask for it.

It’s nice to be around people. To have friends. Real friends who accept who you want to be, who you are, what you do and don’t do. It’s okay to offer me a drink, and it’s okay for me to refuse.

I’ve lived with alcoholics. I’ve lived with people who don’t drink. I’ve been friends with people who have been on the wagon, off the wagon, and snarled up in its wheels. As they get older the pressure turns into advice and becomes, “No, you really shouldn’t drink.”

Maybe it’s shame that people are confusing with being offended when I refuse a drink. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not judging people who drink because they drink, or why they drink. I judge them for excluding me from being friends because I don’t drink. That’s the real problem here. My Not Drinking is Not My Problem, and it never was.

It’s good for me to get these thoughts out. I don’t dwell on them, it just sucks when the situation presents itself, and there’s little you can do but hope others will accept you. Women are more accepting than men, and that’s a good thing. Other guys just feel a need to pressure, but that’s for a subject of the ego and pride.

People Are Fucking Demanding

Patience is a verb that is non-existent in American English. I can’t recall when such a virtue was practiced by the majority. Probably before I was born, it was tied up and tossed over a bridge by the computer.

I have this theory, why people have become more demanding of products, services, and employees, over the past twenty to thirty years. Most of the cause, I believe, comes from our ever-improving technological advances, and a sad dependency on the conveniences they provide.

A phone used to be a phone; you could call someone, even your neighbor across the street, and watch them stop their bondage session, and hang up. They would never know it was you. I miss that, don’t you? Prank calls. They’re fucking gone, because everyone wants surveillance everywhere.

I believe smartphones have transformed otherwise intelligent human beings, into fucking idiots. When you wanted to call someone, before the cellphone, you had to find the phone. Ever hear of a courtesy phone? They used to exist, until everyone owned one themselves, then they became an unnecessary expense. Now, the phone is there in your pocket; easy, portable, and with you more time throughout the day than your significant other.

People have fallen in love with their devices, and out of love with patience, and settling first for what they need, and gradually getting what they want. And each of these devices is on all day, every day, and easy to use, and easy to access. Thanks to the integration with the Internet, everyone with access to the plethora of meaningless information, believes thy have an IQ of 235.

News flash! Smartphones do not have a consciousness, and therefore cannot create their own solutions, or information. Other people write that stuff; Wikipedia did not just build itself. This disconnect between humans, divided by machines, has subconsciously built into the minds of unaware Americans, that everything should be easy to access, easy to use, and easy to work with.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, where the obsessive compulsive need for employees to be a good fit for the workplace community, comes from. Every hiring managers believes they’re the twenty-first century Sigmund Freud, and because of this, finding a place to work with people who aren’t the same, is close to impossible. A need for absolute harmony, where everyone thinks, walks, talks, and believes the same; a reflection of their demands on technology.

Everyone wants a smartphone that does everything a computer does, and then some. Email, video, voice — which used to be a phone call — and text messaging, all for the sake of convenience. So, if something isn’t convenient, they have the nerve to toss it out as completely useless.

Employers do the same; they’ll investigate an employee’s personality, because, frankly, once all workers have been replaced by computers, what’s left other than a person’s genetic code? Don’t be surprised if the corporate owners want to control that some day, too; we’re not too far off.

There’s a price for convenience. Usually, one finds value in the work required to acquire the things they need. Like, water; it didn’t always flow from the tap, but about thirty years after it did, people don’t care about it anymore. If you have any doubts, drive over to Southern California, and look at any of our wonderful, beautiful, shores of slightly transparent brown water.

Ever since the tool of choice to access information sat in a pocket next to their crotch, everyone thinks they have the right to demand constant access to the mindless drivel online. This translates into the workplace with increased demands on employees to constantly stay informed, update their skills and knowledge, so the boss doesn’t have to do it himself. You know, for convenience.

How can we reduce the ever-increasing demands by a society of people staring at screens. I certainly can’t stand here and just tell you what’s wrong, I have to provide a solution; part of that American tradition of having someone else solve your problems. That’s another thing technology does: solves problems — so they don’t have to do it themselves, and feel good about it. That further decreases the value of work.

Sometimes, I picture a massive E.M.P. exploding and destroying all electronic devices, along with the factories in China that create them. Maybe — just maybe — people will go for a walk, and clear their head of all that passive, diluted, narcissistic social-networking bullshit. That disease where people believe the only way to communicate a thought, is to tell every one of their friends at the same time; staying informed.

I’m bothered by the need to stay informed about other people’s stupid shit. I don’t care about your new pair of khakis; I don’t want to ride in your new boat — unless, if course, there are six or seven Swedish supermodels aboard. But I’ll stick with reality and inform you of my solution to this problem:

Stop using it. Plain and simple as that. Your life doesn’t really get any better with a smartphone. In fact, as your phone remembers things for you, your brain doesn’t get the exercise it needs to recall a simple thought. You know, so you can recall all the great moments you’ve had in life; fights at the family reunion; your mugshot on the ten-o’clock news; and that time you got caught sleeping with your boss’s daughter. You know, the blonde with the gimped leg, no hands, and thinks its the year 1927.

If you ever wondered why people are fucking dumb, there’s an answer for you. But, then you say, “Well, we need this technology, because that’s what everyone else has.” So says the fucking television you’re staring at, or the shitty marketing campaign that’s convinced you another device will bring you happiness. Let me ask you this, would you ever look to your mother and say, “Yeah! I’d jump off the fucking bridge! If everyone else is, clearly, they know what to do!”

The demands aren’t going away, as long as people keep getting what they want. Like a child who kicks and screams until he gets his toy back.

Just remember folks; the people of this country spend more time staring at screens than they do the moon and the stars. Makes you wonder why we haven’t colonized Mars yet. Maybe we should start by looking in the right direction.

Why Teamwork Doesn’t Work – And Math to Prove It

You’ve seen it recently on help wanted ads:

  • Be a team player.
  • Able to work well in a team environment as well as alone.
  • Work in an exciting, vibrant, dynamic team environment.

Being a team player seems nice: You work with others with a similar interest, and the team effort should get more done, collectively.

The truth is less gets done with more people working toward the same goal. I’m not talking about major government projects. I’m mean small tasks. For example, let’s look at a team of 10 salesmen.

Danger #1: A team member’s productivity is measured by dividing 1 by the number of team members.

Team members are supposed to do their part: a little of this, a little of that, and with everyone contributing, the work will get done. But, this is where the problem arises.

When each team member thinks the others will pick up the slack, they will give less than 100% effort to complete the task.

The first equation:

1 / X = Productivity

… where X is the number of team members. In our case, we have 10, so:

1 / 10 = 0.1, or 10%

If each employee did give 100%, that would be great, and would be equal to 100 team members. Except, it breaks the point of a team: to work together and rely and support one another.

If the remaining 9 team members are contributing 10%, you’re paying them 100% of their wages for 10% of the work. Makes you wonder why you pay these people in the first place.

Danger #2: Motivation is crippled because no matter the effort, everyone gets an equal share of the prize.

In a competitive scenario, there would be no teams; each for their own. In the Olympics there are more events with individuals than teams. When an individual has to do the task themselves, they are far more motivated because they will get more of the reward.

When the athlete goes for the gold, and achieves it, they get the medal. When a team goes for the gold, in the Olympics, they each get a gold medal. Except, this is work. In work, a team member won’t be motivated to do their best because they aren’t going to get the greater amount of the reward. So, they only give as little effort as necessary, or 10%.

Consider the following equation with a one-million dollar contract:

$1,000,000 / 10 = $100,000 X 0.1 = $10,000

The team member who scored the contract is told that out of $1,000,000, his effort is valued at $10,000.00, not including expenses and wages deducted.

This is terrible motivation, but it gets worse. When you calculate expenses, the weeks and months spent talking, dining, wining, and schmoozing, we bring up, to say, $5,000 in expenses (including wages).

$10,000 – $5,000 = $5,000

The team member did the work himself. But, because he was a team member, he can’t claim all that reward. It’s wiped away – whoosh! – gone into the void. But, things change when the employee isn’t part of a team:

$1,000,000 X (1 employee x 100% effort) = $1,000,000

If your employee’s efforts are worth $1,000,000, then they should be given an equal amount. When the employee is a team member, their value is brought down to 0.05%, or $5,000. However, take them out of the team, and their value goes to $50,000!

However, because they are a team member, their work is valued at $5,000 / $1,00,000. Go figure why team members are unmotivated to perform their best.

Danger #3: When mistakes happen, you’re no longer a team member.

This one is a curveball that employers like a lot: When a cog in the wheel is loose, it needs to be fixed. The team member is pulled aside and, for a moment, becomes an individual. Employers do this because they know, as a team, you have strength and support; as an individual, you have fear and weakness. So, they punish you as an individual.

But wait, aren’t you supposed to be part of a team? Yes, you are, but not when you screw up. When you screw up, you’re an individual!

This is an insane way of treating employees, and again, one asks how team members are supposed to be motivated to do their best. They’re confused on who is responsible: when everyone achieves, it’s a team effort, but when someone goes wrong, it’s no longer a team effort? Somehow, this doesn’t make sense.

The equation is like this to the boss:

100% responsibility = 10% of the team members (or 1 team member).

Except, if this were a true team environment, it would be like this:

100% responsibility / 10 = 10% for each team member

But bosses don’t see it that way. They want to support the feel-good giddy idea of a team environment. However, when something goes wrong, they’re more than willing to thrust down the hammer on an individual.

All the responsibility falls on one employee, and it’s not the team leader, or the boss: it’s the individual who, suddenly, when they need the help the most, is torn from the pack and beaten to fall in line. I remember a country that did this back in the 1930s, except, I couldn’t understand them because I don’t speak German.

Danger #4: The boss’s share prevents team members from giving 100%.

When a team member decides to give 100% effort, they should be rewarded with 100% of the commission that would normally be shared amongst the team.

But, that’s not the way it goes. In a team environment, no matter how much work a team member gives, each member receives and equal share. But, that’s not the way it works. If you’re a team member, no matter how much effort you put forth, you’ll never get more than a so-called fair share.

The rules don’t apply to a boss; only the employee. The boss, on the other hand, will capitalize on the value brought in. Because the value of each team member equates to 0.05, or 5% total, the other 95% has to go somewhere.

Boss’s Share = $1,000,000 – (0.5 x 10 x $5,000) = $975,000

The problem here is the boss didn’t do the work! But, hey, getting $975,000 certainly teaches the boss not to give any effort. No wonder employees aren’t motivated to do better. The boss is busy stuffing her face with cocaine-laced Benjamins.

Solution?

The solution, a foolish boss would assume, is to motivate employees to give more. However, effort fits nowhere into the equation, because of danger number two.

So, then, how do team members get a bigger piece of the pie than the boss, even for the team as a whole?

Sorry, doesn’t happen. The math works against it. Even if each employee gave 100%, the efforts would still equate like so:

Boss’s Share = $1,000,000 – (10 X 10 X $5,000) = $500,000.

Now, the boss’s contribution was nothing and they still got the lion’s share. Each team member has to split $500,000 amongst themselves, for $50,000 each. That equates to 5% each, or 50% total. And yet, the boss still did nothing! They did nothing, and get 50%!

Have fun being a team member!

The Point of All This

In the beginning, the point was to find food and shelter to eat and live.
In the middle, it was to further the endeavors of a civilized world through knowledge and research.
Now that we know how much bullshit everything is, it’s time to get back to the one thing humans do best: complaining.

That’s all it seems to be now. Everyone looking for something to bitch about. If they can’t complain about the manufacturing process of steel dildos, they’ll complain about the endangered species. If they can’t bitch about public education going in the shitter, they’ll complain about taxes being too high.

Lo and behold, we create things just to complain about them. Government, taxes, religion, and the idea that you can’t walk up to a beautiful ginger girl and ask her for a blow job and get one.

In all honesty, there is no point, there never was, and there never will be. Humans have completely missed the point of living: to just do whatever the fuck you want without any higher meaning. But, some douchebags along the way wanted a higher meaning, and what better higher meaning than something that can and can’t be denied with fake evidence conjured from their thoughts and a lack of evidence conjured from those very same thoughts.

The only point I care about is me pointing this bullshit out the door. Thank you, and I hope I made my point.

A Few New Phrases and Definitions

I love English language, especially American English, and all the bullshit phrases people think up to make themselves feel more important. So, I decided, why can’t I? Here goes.

I created a bullshit generator on my computer. It takes verbs, nouns, and adjectives, and generates random combinations. Every now and then, I get some gems.

Better Blow – Better than the last one that left you satisfied.
Mellow Pen – When your boss reluctantly signs your check.
Pumped Size – The new name for the larger sized soda at your favorite fast food.
Chilly Card – A greeting card from the South Pole.
Non-discrete Punishment – Public Execution
Moaning Place – The only room in your house where you’re allowed to be a bitch.
Taboo Wish – A curse.
Hulking Kitten – Tiger
Delightful Pipe – Bong
Juicy Hobbies – Sexual Promiscuity
Alcoholic Pet – Wouldn’t you like to see this? Hey, fido, here boy! Fetch me a 6-pack.
False Prison – Public School, Employment in Corporate America
Possessive Drawer – A drawer where you put your possessions and it doesn’t open.
Efficient Love – A quickie.
Exciting Grass – Weed.
Silent Knowledge – A secret.
Receptive Cough – To catch a cold.
Defective Circle – Oval.
Cowardly Rainstorm – A light drizzle.
Knowledgeable Link – Related thoughts.
Festive Change – Redecorating the house.
Diligent Vote – A vote that takes care and understanding, but never happens in Congress.
Satisfying Sit – A comfortable chair.
Condemned Result – A jury conviction.
Limping Hope – When your hope has nearly faded away.
Obsolete Stop – When you stop at a stop light and there’s no traffic but yourself for five minutes.
Nonstop Influence – American Advertising.
Makeshift Die – To think up a creative way to kill someone.
Pathetic Make – A crappy car.
Abusive Mark – A black eye, or bruise or a welt.
Ill Connect – A bad date that ended the next morning.
Dynamic Discover – When two people find something at the same time.
Electric Buy – When you’re shocked by the credit card bill.
Late Answer – In a board meeting, to say the same thing as the last guy.
Disgusting Order – Anything on the fast food menu.
Miniature Come – Premature ejaculation.
Greasy Win – When a court case is won by a slick lawyer.
Thankful Drink – Anything alcohol.
Adamant Present – A gift box that won’t open.
Silent Win – Humble champions.
Slim Save – When you shut up just before you tell someone they’re full of shit.
Bite-sized Report – Your child’s report card after he fed it to the dog.
Numberless Cost – Free. Hey, I sell books at a numberless cost!

What Happened On, Oct 29th

In high school, I was a history buff. Then after high school, I didn’t give a shit. But, thanks to my new found respect for dead people, I’ve come to like history again. I’d like to begin with a new segment I call, “What Happened On.” This is where I take the events in history that happened on this particular day, and relay them to you, my fine reading and listening audience.

You got to love King James the first. He’s one of those kings of England that decided to send his own people to their death to appease another country. Amazing, because in today’s world, the English don’t do anything to appease anyone, especially their disadvantaged youth.

Walter Raleigh, Englishman that died.
Walter Raleigh, Englishman that died.

Now, back in the late 1500s to early 1600s, Walter Raleigh led several expeditions to South America to what later became known as the search for the city of gold, or El Dorado. There was a Dreamworks movie of that or some sort, that ended far better than this fuck’s fate. During his last expedition to find the city of greed, a company of men under Raleigh’s command ransacked a Spanish outpost.

Now, first, one might wonder, why didn’t the king thank him. Isn’t he doing him a favor by defeating someone who was trying to cut in on getting the gold? Well, I suppose that had something to do with foreign affairs or other stupid bullshit like that. The point is, when Raleigh returned to England, the stupid fuck, he was arrested and executed to appease the Spanish.

You got to love the English, because in 2008, the BBC reported him as one of the greatest Englishman who had ever lived. And folks, this was the guy who made tobacco popular in England. Tobacco, as we know, became the cash crop for the new world, along with another “crop” these English fucks thought they could contain. He also believed that an entire city could be made of gold, and was convicted and condemned to death, but let go several times to feed the king’s greed.

I enjoy technology. It just so happens today is the 43rd anniversary of the first message sent of the ARPANET, which would later become the Internet. A student at UCLA, of all the fucking places, sent a message from his computer to another computer waiting at the Stanford Research Institute. The next thought that popped into his mind was, “Wow, I won’t need my subscription to Playboy in thirty years!”

Holy shit that's a hurricane.
Holy shit that’s a hurricane.

Last, but not least, is something that has to do with current events. And I say current for two reasons. The first is that it’s happening right now, and the second is that it has to do with ocean currents. And by that I mean, in 1998, Hurricane Mitch, or bitch, however you call it depending on where your vantage point of it all was, dropped itself in the Caribbean, killing more than 19,000 people.

If you watch the news, please let me know how many people die in the current Hurricane Sandy, as I don’t even turn on the TV. Maybe I’ll check in another fourteen years, if Wikipedia is even still around.

Folks, I apologize if you’re affected by the current Hurricane Sandy; you know this is just humor, and it’s all bullshit. Please read the disclaimer.

Idioms and Idiots

The glorious English language is full of phrases, and the most amusing are the idioms. Most laugh at idiots and the stupid shit they do, while others laugh at the stupid shit they say. Here are a few idioms I enjoy.

Off to the Side

This phrase means to move aside to speak with someone. But the side is never defined. Is it the left side, or the right side? Nobody knows, we just know it’s off.

Someone often pulls you off to the side for something you’ve done wrong, and they want to keep you from getting embarrassed when they criticize you. Don’t be fooled, folks. When someone pulls you off to the side they’re doing it to save themselves from being embarrassed. Not you.

What about when you pull someone off to the side, and want to tell them a little secret, only to have that person shout over your shoulder to the whole party. “Hey, everyone, Jack says he has a crush on Melody and wants to dress up in whips and chains with her!” Your heart drops, it sinks, and you think, “Holy, shit! I can’t believe everyone knows that now!”

That’s one way of looking at it. But, there are more uses for the phrase. Off to the side can be used in sports, like when the cameraman should be standing off to the side instead of blocking the wide receiver in the last play of the Superbowl.

Or how about when someone says they’ll do you a favor, but then brushes it off to the side? Doesn’t that make you feel awful? They’ve violated your trust, let you down, put your friendship off to the side. Well, you won’t be asking any favors from him for a while.

In happens to actors when their hair is parted off to the side. Completely ruins their character.

What about when you’re decorating a cake, and the icing droops off to the side? What if it’s a wedding cake? You don’t want that to be messed up. Then again, you shouldn’t have any complaints if the icing on the cake is crooked and the  bride and groom are cross-eyed.

Mum’s the word

When someone tells you, Mum’s the word, they don’t want you to reveal a secret. Okay, first of all, it’s not a secret if more than one person knows, so that’s out the window. Second, who decided Mum was the word? Is my mother going to force me to reveal a secret? And if I don’t, who is she going to make me cry to to tell her? Seems to me, Mum isn’t the best choice of a word to describe a secret.

You can learn a fine lesson from the CIA: they don’t use any words about their secrets. In fact, the CIA doesn’t even say no comment, because they’re smart: they ignore it all together.

But let’s be generous here. Why does it have to be Mum? Who’s idea was it to use a word that meant mother to keep a secret from people? The last person I’d ever find myself lying to is my mother.

Let’s suppose for a moment we use a different word. Hmm… how about, Dad? Why not Dad’s the word? Dad doesn’t want to know about all the shit his kids do. Dad doesn’t care; he’s too busy working, and when he comes home, the last thing he wants to here is how you banged the neighbor’s daughter, lit the rug on fire, smashed the mailbox, and had a swat team come over about a stinkbomb. If Dad’s the word, Mum will just go to him, and he’ll speak up about anything. First words he’ll say: I’m sorry.

But let’s move on here, and pick another word. Why not… pumpernickel? “Pumpernickel’s the word.” It’s a long word, people have to think about it, and throws them off. “Hey, Billy, what did that boy just whisper in your ear?” “Pumpernickel!” Gets them every time.

Or, how about a word that doesn’t exist? Like, Goshibulodooky. If someone asked you to reveal a secret, and you say, Goshibulodooky!, they’ll wonder what that word means. It deflects them from even thinking about the secret. Then, you go into a lengthy explanation about tour aunt’s best friend’s sister’s cousin’s nephew uncle’s great grandfather’s tailor’s shoe maker’s great grandson’s little brother, told you it’s a microscopic organism in the intermediate subatomic layers of the atmosphere. They’ll think you’re way too fucking smart and leave you alone. Problem solved.

Crossed the Line

Oh, here’s one of my favorites. When someone does something so horribly wrong, they have crossed the line. But where’s the line? Nobody ever defines the line. How are we supposed to not cross the line if we don’t know where it is? And second, whoever said we crossed the line?

You can’t cross the line by going over it; you cross a line by drawing a line through another line, thus resulting in a cross, and now — and now — you have two lines. Doesn’t that mean when you cross a line with your line that their line has crossed your line? We’ve been double-crossed!

Well, which line did I cross? Your line, my line, someone else’s line? I didn’t know we had lines here and there to be crossed in the first place. Can someone please draw these lines so we can stop crossing them?

And this phrase only comes after you’ve crossed the line. It only happens after the fact; post de facto. Isn’t it illegal to punish someone after the fact? And, to avoid punishment, to avoid being told we’ve crossed the line, we have to draw the line in the sand. But what if you’re not standing on any sand? What if you’re standing in a puddle of water? You draw a line, and poof, it vanishes in the ripples. Now you got lines going everywhere and everyone in the puddle is crossing the line!

Suppose you can’t draw; suppose your drawing skills are that of a one year old and your lines are squiggles. What then? Are the lines just wherever they’re at? I think, before you start telling people they’ve crossed the line, you need to draw the line. In fact, they teach kids to color within the lines. What a great way of teaching them to not cross the line. That’ll whip them into shape as little slaves for the rest of their lives.

What if I don’t want a line? What if I want to say you’ve crossed the circle? It would cover more space, wouldn’t it? It would be easy for someone to know when they’ve crossed the circle instead of the line. A line has to be directly in front and perpendicular to your feet, while a circle is all around. Take one step in any direction and you’ve crossed the line. Rectangles and triangles work, too, but circle beats them all.

Upper Hand

Another stupid thing people say. He’s got the upper hand. It’s related to playing poker, when one player has the advantage over others. Well, if he has the upper hand, what’s he doing with his other hand? What’s he hiding? Did his other hand cross a line, and thus it had to be brushed off to the side? Mum’s the word on that one.

‘Till the Fat Lady Sings

The phrase means something won’t be over until something happens. Supposedly it comes from a fat lady singing at the end of the opera. I don’t know about you, but many of the fat ladies I’ve met don’t exactly have the most pleasant voices. You ever meet those women who shop with their five kids, still wearing their nightgown and hair curlers, pushing two shopping carts, balancing an infant in one arm, and a cigarette in another? Their voice is hoarse and scratchy. I think if you waited for her to sing you’d find yourself wishing you left sooner.

And why is it always a fat lady? Why not a fat man? Sometimes that happens in opera, too, but suppose we used something else. Suppose we had a fat ostrich sing. Suppose we had a fat ostrich in heat and tied him to the stage with six lady ostriches prancing around. Suppose he had a really bad temper. Seems like it would make for a grand finale.

We could have the fat lady do something else, such as, It ain’t over ’till the fat lady shoots herself on stage and they close the curtains to cover it up. You’d be surprised at how few people would know it was real. In fact, she’d get a pretty big round of applause while her corpse is being dragged off stage. Then, when everyone is about to leave the theater, the host walks out on stage, and tells them it wasn’t part of the show, and the singer has really died. That would make a lot of people feel like a real dick.

By Chance

Finally, I’ll close with the idiom, by chance. This phrase means something will happen purely out of randomness; nobody will decide to make it happen. And the phrase is versatile.

First, something can happen by chance. You didn’t expect it, you wanted it to happen, but in the back of your mind, you knew that you couldn’t make it happen. By chance, it will happen, or it won’t. But it’s just a chance. You take your chances.

Second, it can be used when someone asks you something. “Excuse me, by chance, do you have the time?” “Why, yes, I do have the time. It’s exactly five minutes past your last chance for me to tell you the time. Maybe next time.” Can’t miss that chance.

Or, how about this. “If by chance she does want to go out with me, will you give her my number, Dave?” “Sure, Jack, I’ll give her your number. What was that… 5-5-5 you don’t stand a chance?”

Don’t wait ’till the fat lady sings, because, by chance you don’t mum the word, you may lose the upper hand and cross the line.