14 October 2007

It’s Time for the Semimonthly Misinterpretacular!

Once again, the column in which Rochester, NY’s Democrat & Chronicle provides the headlines and meatiocrity provides the stories that should have been written.

Trials atypical in local DWIs

A recent study found that defendants in DWI and DWAI trials in Monroe County were more likely to be praised for their actions than defendants in other counties across New York. Another less formal study named Monroe County and Rochester in particular a great place for a party.

Other counties generally discouraged such behavior with jail time and mandatory rehabilitation. Monroe County tended to award defendants with light to no community service, pats on the back, and complimentary white wine spritzers.

A follow-up poll showed that Monroe County residents’ responses to DWI and DWAI incidents ranged from indifference to uncontrollable laughing. “It’s like reality TV or something,” said resident Steve Warthers, 48.

“I live right by the 490, and I see ‘em all the time,” continued Warthers, “I usually pop open a few cans of Genny Cream Ale while I watch, then head downtown to East and Alexander to do tequila shots with Big Bill Fucillo and see if anyone hits a pedestrian.”

A small and surprisingly shy minority commented that they found the behavior reckless. A few mentioned personal tragedies involving DWIs and hopes that changes in the county judicial system would result in harsher consequences for violators.

Red Sox packing plenty of punch

In a brief news conference regarding the state of the Boston Red Sox in this year's American League playoffs, manager Terry Francona indicated that his team was "packing plenty of punch" and "ready for a really off-the-hook series." Answering a follow-up question from a meatiocrity reporter, Francona clarified his comments.

"It's not so much that the team is really pumped up. I mean, they are. We are. I'm saying we've packed a lot of punch. Like, at parties. Punch. Ladles and all that."

After his comments, Francona was asked to remain to further explain this unorthodox strategy. He graciously allowed further questions, some regarding the efficacy of such tactics, others whether he thought any of the players had spiked the punch.

"Varitek dumped some Captain Morgan's into the bowl we had after the win," said Francona, "I'm not sure I can do much about it, but they guys have all agreed you can have a decent party with just the punch and those little ham rolls. And, it's not so much a strategy as a mindset. After '06 the team was in a rut. We've had punch all year. You can't say no to it, and it always lightens the mood."

Francona went on to cite popular self-help book The Secret as an inspiration for the decision. His belief is that such a celebratory drink would attract events worthy of celebration.

When asked about allegations of sherbert use by some of the players, Francona declined to comment.

With help of volunteers, refugees make new lives

A recent influx of refugees fleeing Silesia, Poland and the surrounding area have found in a local Rochester organization caring and open arms. Volunteers from Prometheus Givers helped provide the refugees with basic amenities, but have gone above and beyond, helping the refugees— many of whom are scientists— to complete their lives' work.

In Silesia, the refugees faced persecution by pitchfork and torch wielding citizenry intent on disrupting and destroying the scientists' work in the field of genetics, in particular, the creation of new animal species. A number of laboratories were destroyed along with the research notes and specimens within.

Fearing even harsher reactions were they to continue, the group of thirteen scientists packed what they had left and fled for America. A colleague in Rochester, Dr. Frank Stone, upon hearing of their plight, mobilized an impromtu welcome party which evolved into the volunteer organization now known as Prometheus Givers.

The name, says Dr. Stone, was inspired by the Greek myth of Prometheus, who gave fire to humankind, and also because the volunteers, in aiding the scientists in their experiments, have revived in their broken souls a new passion for freaks of nature.

In their short stay, the group has created a hybrid being from the genetic codes of a flamingo and a gila monster. "It's a pink lizard that always lifts its legs and falls over," said Dr. Stone, "It's pretty hilarious, really, and not remotely dangerous. It's a shame such narrow-minded people were allowed to impede this wonderful work."

The scientists hope to see what increasingly disparate species they can combine to form never before seen monstrosities in an attempt to push the boundaries of genetics research and scientific knowledge. Zealous volunteers have offered their own genetic code, but have so far been turned down.

"It's too much, really," said one scientist, who asked his name not be printed, "Besides, I'm pretty much we could get what we need from a few corpses or something."

Currently, Prometheus Givers is undergoing internal reorganization and is neither taking on new volunteers nor revealing their particular whereabouts, fearing further persecution in America.

01 October 2007

This Week in Misinterpreted Headlines

Because of my apparent inability to consistently write articles on a variety of topics, I've decided to outsource part of the task. Rochester's own Democrat and Chronicle will provide weekly headlines ripped, as you have likely already imagined, from the headlines. I will provide what will undoubtedly be a far more interesting newsbrief than whatever real story went to print. Here are three from the Sunday, 30 September, 2007 edition. Links to the actual stories, when available, will be posted tomorrow.

NO TIME TO WAIT

Amidst ridicule by fellow party members, cancelled speaking engagements, and rejected requests for participation in highly publicized debates, No T. Time (R—Wyoming) withdrew tody from the '08 presidential race. His controversial anti-drug campaign— including prohibition of caffeine-based substances in addition to harsher laws on alcohol, tobacco, and aspirin— ostracized voters and threatened an already weakening economy, according to several of our Washington analysts.

Rep.. Time indicated his intention to reenter the presidential race in 2012, but added, "I will not back down on the dangers of the substance abuse so prolific in our society. For now, I'd like to focus on my family, and a new and exciting bill which would declare 4:00 pm every day 'Prune Juice Time.'"

Rep. Time's nickname "No" is an abbreviation of Noel, given because each piece of legislation he introduces is unanimously and immediately rejected.

Victor cleanup on the horizon

A high school lacrosse game in Northern New York went horribly wrong this week. Rivals Carthage High School (CHS) and Immaculate Heart Central (IHC) played to overtime Saturday, with both teams scoring one goal each. Officiating was Delmar Buckley, a groundskeeper at nearby Indian River High Schoo, where the playoff game was being held.

After Mr. Buckley declared sudden death overtime, IHC scored within twelve seconds, making them the winners. However, players and fans from CHS immediately and brutally slaughtered the entire IHS team as well as almost a dozen parents.

While local police were able to arrest the mob, whose bloodlust had evidently been satiated, Mr. Buckley's task was more daunting. "I don't even know where to start. There are an awful lot of bodies out there, and I ain't properly sure how that much blood might affect the field. And our dumpsters are still full because of the home ec class."

Principals from both schools refused comment.

Terrorism, guns are Supreme Court's top issues

An independent research study conducted by the Illumine Research Group and commissioned by the department of Homeland Security released it's findings earlier this week. The purpose of the study was to uncover possible terrorist organizations operating on American soil, and perhaps masquerading as more mundane groups such as chess clubs and Parent-Teacher Associations.

Among the gorups listed was, unexpectedly, the United States Supreme Court. The Study found that as of late, the nation's highest judicial authority has increased its references to firearms and terrorist organization in its general communication. Additionally, the Supreme Court's history is often characterized as one of restraint, which some are now citing as dangerous secrecy.

Homeland Security officials, who have asked to remain anonymous, have voiced their concern over the Court's current ability to check and/or balance other branches of the United States government, stating the possibility that the Court's influence has reached back perhaps centuries.

No word yet from any of the so-called "Justices," though a video tape which recently surfaced thought to depict Ruth Bader Ginsberg torturing and executing an imprisoned reporter was shown to be nothing more than a poor-quality bootleg of Martha Stewart preparing a ham for baking.

24 May 2007

Another Musical Interlude

This ten-song playlist is unique in that every song is actually the opening song of its respective album. Explanations for each pick, and iTunes lnks when possible, appear below. As always, if you have these tunes, or decide to download them, try listening in this order and see what you find.

1) Where the Streets Have No Name— U2, The Joshua Tree: I don't normally care for superlatives, but I would back any presidential candidate who said that this is the best opening song on any album, ever. Listen on vinyl for the best experience; if you can't manage that, always listen to it LOUD.

2) Black Dog— Led Zeppelin, IV: Every time I hear this song start up, I know I'll be listening to the rest of the album. I have to schedule it so I'm not missing work. It maintains a blues form, but the riff rocks like nothing else. As for something you may not have noticed at first, try to dance to the song. Truth is, you can't.

3) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band— The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: Certainly one of the best albums I can think of, in part because of the cohesivesness brought by opening and closing it with this tune. Honestly, if you don't know why this song is great, you might not pass a standard IQ test.

4) Everything In Its Right Place— Radiohead, Kid A: When listening to this tune, I can hardly believe that everything is, in fact, in its right place. It's also the perfect opener— however ironic— for an album in which nothing seems right. So eerie and unsettling, and bordering on psycologically disturbing, the lyrics— in the context of the album— allow for a number of very interesting layers of meaning.

5) Waiting on the World to Change— John Mayer, Continuum: Yet another song that makes me want the rest of the album, I actually have a bit of on odd relationship with the tune. I like to sing along thoughtlessly to it. I love the George Harrison-esque guitar, the organ, the incidental bass fills. I hate that the lyrics reek of being this generation's "We Didn't Start the Fire," in their sentiment of non-responsibility. But, despite the emasculated idealism of the lyrics, it still made the list.

6) Black Mirror— The Arcade Fire Neon Bible: One of the most recently released albums on the list, I mention it not because I'm particularly blown away by it. Rather, I appreciate The Arcade Fire for releasing an album that works as a whole, for allowing vinyl buyers to download the album digitally, and for being at least a little risky in the direction they're headed musically. It really is a great opener, though, and at a decent volume, you can hear a lot of interesting stuff happening.

7) Blue Rondo a la Turk— Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out: I include this song because I feel it's a better introduction to quirky time signatures than Brubeck's more famous "Take Five." The song is in 9/8, which is not odd at all, except for the subdivision. Also, the solo section switches between the main feel and 12/8, which gives the song a nice variety of textures.

8) London Calling— The Clash, London Calling: As soon as I think of this song, I'm tempted to think it's one of the best songs on the album, until I recall what other songs are present. In fact, "London Calling" does exactly what it should. It introduces the listener to the remainder of the album without overshadowing it, but while avoiding feeling like a cobbled together introduction for the mere sake of having an introduction.

9) So What—Miles Davis, Kind of Blue: This is one or the more influential songs for me as a musician. I'm fascinated by the modality and, honestly, by the fact that the bass carries the main theme. But, especially compared to much of the bebop being played at the time, with it's complex and intricate chord changes, opening a "cool" album with a song whose tonality rests on a single mode is amazingly innovative.

10) Political Scientist—Ryan Adams, Love is Hell: I'm a little more confident with this Ryan Adams suggestion than my last one. It's a good tune, sets the stage well for a good album, and is a great paradigm for what Ryan Adams does best: writing depressing, but strangely alluring pseudo-pop tunes with great hooks.

13 May 2007

A Musical Interlude

The normal course of meatiocrity will resume in July. Until that time, I've decided to introduce a new and entirely non-satirical feature: 10-song playlists. The virtue of limiting the playlist to 10 songs is a subject for another time. The virtue of not intending this to include the ten best songs of all time is that I can come up with any number of different playlists, all with their own peculiarities.

Below are my current picks, with brief explanations as to why each is included and iTunes links when possible. I intend that this and each future playlist be listened to from beginning to end, and hope some of the songs will take on new meaning from their new context, either by surprising continuity or stark juxtaposition.

1) Better Git Hit In Your Soul — Mingus at Antibes, by Charles Mingus: I love Charles Mingus on the whole because he reinterpreted not only jazz music, but the way bassists play their instrument. This is what a gospel choir and a sweating preacher and a congregation of Amens sounds like as a jazz tune. On the live Antibes take, listen for Mingus' Hallelujahs and other shouts. Incidentally, John Coltrane recorded a concert at Antibes. You may remember it as "A Love Supreme."

2) Over the Hills and Far Away — Houses of the Holy, by Led Zeppelin: It's so great to hear the sound of an acoustic guitar driving a song by the band for whom the term "heavy metal" was coined. The overall structure of the tune is what gets me. I'm especially taken by the point in the bridge where the various lines click in together, as well as the subtle outro.

3) Dear Prudence — The White Album, by the Beatles: Paul McCartney was my first inspiration as a bass player, and I think Dear Prudence proves his ability. Against the repetitive rhythm guitar, McCartney provides a beautiful movement that is perfectly melodic while simultaneously maintaining a significant counter-rhythm.

4) Please — Pop, by U2: Pop, on the whole, got panned by lots of listeners as highly overproduced, even though it actually lacked many of the loops and effects present on Achtung Baby. Nevertheless, Bono's lyrics here are superb, Clayton's bass is probably at its best, everything is in its right place. The entire song speaks to the angst in the lyrics.

5) Cradle Rock — A New Day Yesterday, by Joe Bonamassa: Listen to the guitar. I mean, the rest of the band's good, but the guitar is why this tune's on the list. I especially like approximatley 2:30 in, just before the main riff returns, when Bonamassa repeats a line with a noticeable and delicious change of articulation.

6) Wading in the Velvet Sea — The Story of the Ghost, by Phish: In a different way, the reason here is the same as "Cradle Rock." listen in at the 2:30 minute mark for the guitar entrance. That tone! Plus, I like the lyrics, even though I'm not entirley sure what they mean.

7) Meadowlake Street — Cold Roses, by Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: My interest in Ryan Adams has waned of late, and this is far from my favorite of his tunes. However, the lengthy build that occurs is spectacular and lifts what would otherwise be a mundane idea to a whole new place. Also, there's a great fake-out where you expect the build, but the tension holds out incredibly longer.

8) Morning Bell — Kid A, by Radiohead: Just as "Meadowlake Street" is great for the movement of the song, "Morning Bell" is great for its relative stagnation. Everything speaks to the lived-with tension of a relationship failing violently (the subject of the lyrics), and the breaks, when Thom sings "release me," take on a heart-achingly ironic meaning.

9) On the Turning Away — A Momentary Lapse of Reason, by Pink Floyd: Nearly every 80's musical cliché seems to appear here: socially-minded lyrics, the synth pad, electric guitar on the bridge, reverb on the snare, a backing choir. Yet "On the Turning Away" hardly seems cliché. On one hand, it may critique the supposed social activism of other artists of the time and the previous decade in a subtle and cynical way. On the other hand, the closing minutes of the song, entirely instrumental, express musically what I can only describe as a seeming seriousness of self-reflection.

10) Naima — Giant Steps, John Coltrane:The song feels sparse and open despite the harmonic tension that builds opposite the ostinato bass. Scientists describe concise statements about science as elegant. Hemingway wrote a story consisting of six words.* Similarly, Coltrane has written the most elegant love song, probably ever. There is no superfluous note, interval, or rhythm, and every moment seems to speak the entirety of the song.



*"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

16 April 2007

How to Simulate Popularity

Mathematically speaking, not everyone can be popular. Indeed, the popular must always be a minority. On reaching a majority percentage, any deemed popular automatically revert to being boring and outmoded.

Traditionally, the subject of popularity was relegated mainly to high school social status. With the advent of social networking sites, each individual, within and without high school, has an opportunity to become popularity. Depending on the number of social networking sites to which an individual belongs, one's experience with each site, and the subculture particular to each site, one might become simultaneously more and less popular than one's self. Unfortunately, the social identity disorder caused by the accumulation of multiple virtual identities, while fascinating, lacks significant scientific study and is beyond the scope of this article at this time.

Certain aspects of online social networking require special attention to ensure one's popularity. Though variable, these generally include the following: knowledge of pop culture, friend volume, status and activity monitors, and conditional uniqueness.

Knowledge of popular culture often takes the form of either quizzes or forum-style discussion on particular topic of sufficient obscurity or childhood reminiscence value. Fortunately, neither exchange is constrained by body language, tone of voice, or the temporal dimensions of face-to-face social situations, alleviating a great deal of stress and anxiety from an individual's response. Usually a few well-worded search queries and wikipedia articles will provide adequate information with which to appear both knowledegable and interested, thereby increasing one's online popularity.

By friend volume, we mean the quantity of other users of any given social networking site who have agreed to associate, however loosely, their virtual identities with that of the individual. Again, being that these friendships generally require hardly more depth than a few mouse clicks and some shared interest, e.g., becoming popular on social networking sites, very little effort is required to appear popular.

Status and activity monitors are built in to nearly every social-networking sites, or at least the ones worth joining. These display important information such as recent log-ins, number of posts, and often more varied and site-specific means of determining one's involvement— and therefore, popularity— in any given social network. Furthermore, regular profile reformatting and picture updates will ensure that others view one as highly involved in pseudo-community life, again, increasing one's popularity therein.

Conditional uniqueness is a significant, if nebulous, aspect of social networking which one ignores to their own virtual exclusion. The difficulty is in appearing unique enough to not be associated with any mass movement (which, being of the majority, is decidedly unpopular), while maintaining close but inexact similarities to an identifiable subculture. Indie music is a helpful analogy. Bands which are generally too unique either sell out or burn out. Those that survive best are those which sound like one another, but are nevertheless never associated under any particular record label.

In conclusion, the reader should understand that online popularity is both much easier than face-to-face popularity, and equally unrewarding. However, unlike face-to-face popularity, anyone can, with little to no significant effort, become popular within online social networking sites.

01 April 2007

How to Remain Single Indefinitely

Dating is a game of chess. Ladies, you know I love you, but for this post, let's just sit back and listen patiently and sympathetically. Guys, I repeat, and I'll expound below: dating is a game of chess.

You're playing white, because white always makes the first move, often a gambit. Perhaps some scrawny-necked pawn with no defenses, wide out in the open, ripe for almost certain decapitation. I applaud your vulnerability: moving that knight is too defensive.

You know as well as I do that the early game is about control of the center. Often— there are no professionals here— you'll never know if a move you make will come back to haunt you later, or whether a move you thought useless will garner some later advantage.

The mid-game requires tactical skill and precision. You may be tempted to go for the capture early— a risky move, no doubt, but what will it cost you if you fail? Likewise, playing it safe and defensively is a guarantee of a non-win. Perhaps you'll manuever your way to an endgame win. Or a tie. Or a loss.

The truth is, you won't find out. Even if you've managed to make only entirely dubious moves, the board will certainly be abandoned and all the pieces left to rot before any satisfactory culmination to the match occurs. Because this woman with whom you've recently been so strategically entangled, will decide not to finish the game in favor or playing Candyland.

In chess, you took risks, maybe made sacrifices. You could have handled a loss; you'd maintain the dignity of retrospection. You could have settled for a tie; rarely are two so evenly matched. You had hoped for a win, but the muse of unfair play has drawn you away to a game altogether unlike the first.

Here, in this Land of Candy, chance rules over skill; superficiality over depth; novelty over longevity. You're still playing a game, yes, but one meaningless and emasculated. Completion promises no sense of accomplishment for a game well-played, only the numb repetition of another round of mere friendliness and sugary geniality. But being just friends is better than nothing, right?

12 February 2007

Messianic Siimplex

Recently Meatiocrity received two unique visitors searching, separately, for a cure and a treatment for a messianic complex. Fortunately for these two readers, supply rises to meet demand, and I have both. First, let's examine the issue, then move on to a prescribed course of action in fixing a messianic complex.

First, you'll noticce the problematic language involved. It's called a messianic complex. Second, the fact that you're looking for either a cure or treatment for it betrays the likelihood that you also have an enormous guilt complex (italics mine). That's two complexes, a whole lot of stress, self-medicating for the self-loathing, and hardly any good times. And what we all need are good times.

WIlliam of Occam, long before Gillette released its multi-bladed monstrosities on us, had a razor. It states the the simplest explanation is probably the best and most accurate. So, how do we cut down two complexes? Is there a way to shave off some of that extra stress and create a clean, trim image for ourselves?

Yes. Yes there is.

Rather than that pesky messianic complex and equally irritating guilt complex, what you'll want to aim for is a messianic simplex, and trust me, it's the only kind of simplex you want to have. A messianic simplex removes all the troublesome thinking involved in having a messianic complex. You don't think you're a messiah; you really are one, and the paradigm thereof. A person with a messianic complex presumes to be sent by the Divine. A person with a messianic simplex presumes to actually be a god: an everyman's god. A messianic complex is unrealistic. A messianic simplex is perfectly adapted to life in this modern world.

The first thing to do in making your messianic complex into a messianic simplex is to cultivate a good amount of narcissicism, some arrogance, and the presumption that you are more capable to handle your life than anyone else, especially God. In fact, there's a good chance you should be handling others' lives, especially God's, as he is, in your estimation, a little too forgiving.

Second, did you hear that criticism? If you have a messianic compelx, you might think it's directed at your ultimate mission. Suppress that kind of thinking at once! That criticism is directed at you, and it's important to take it seriously and personally.

Finally, if you've got a messianic complex, you'll constantly shrug off opposing viewpoints by saying only a few elect will understand you. An important step— and sometimes the most difficult— in changing that complex to a simplex, is to start trying to please and appease everyone around you while resenting them for not mindlessly fulfilling your every whim. If that seems difficult, keep in mind that while your superiority should be obvious and your will foremost in every mind, you are, after all, really a good person at heart.

07 February 2007

The Art of Commentary

Conversation is dead. In fairness, it was never looking too good to begin with, always so thin and anemic, not infrequently foaming about the mouth. Commentary, on the other hand, is alive and well and only looking more robust thanks to the proliferation of forums and blogs on the interwebs. Following are a number of helpful tips for making comments, not only online, but in every aspect of life:
  1. Commentary information has a hierarchy of value. Useless opinions and unsupported assumptions outrank uncited statistics, which beat alleged facts, which are better than faulty logic, which is still superior to any form of meaningful interaction, insightful critique, or thoughtful dialogue. Of course, a grammatically questionable movie or rock music misquote trumps all.

  2. Ad hominem arguments are usually frowned upon in conversation or debate. Keep in mind that you're no interlocutor here. Personal abuse is encouraged, and the less wit involved, the better, as exemplified by the common but effective: "OMG!!! ur so stoopid!!!!"

  3. Tell, don't show. Commenting on something gives it meaning where it had none to begin with. If you authored a particular post, an explanation of what you really meant in the comments will help your readers understand what you so artfully obscured in your intial offering. If someone else authored a post, remember that you have the authority to accurately explain what another person meant. Texts do not speak for themselves; they require explanation, and that is the heart of commentary.

  4. Never stay silent. The only commentary worth ignoring is the commentary not made. Your comments should be prolix and numerous to prove the worth of your opinions. Unmounted soapboxes make not a change in the hearts of humankind. I'm not sure who said that, but I'm merely demonstrating an additional application of point 1.

  5. Never stay silent. This point is worth repeating. And I'd like to explain what I meant the first time. Nobody wants to hear something important directly. For example, I don't want to read the Bible as God's Word and hear it as such. I want somebody else to tell me what it means. That sort of commentary is essential to make. I, in turn, should tell others what I think the Bible (or any other text) means. Another good example is advertising. I don't want to judge the merits of a product, I want to be told to buy it. How am I supposed to know what to spend money on unless companies comment on their products?

  6. A picture is worth a thousand words, but an emoticon is worth a thousand pictures. People always talk of the importance of body language. Consider emoticons digital body language. Think of the amount of expression avaiable to you in only a few keystrokes!

  7. Lists will make everything clear. People love them, and you'll look smarter for your ability to organize your thoughts into convenient segments.


Now go and comment! Your insights can only improve and clarify the mediocre content we've all been longing for so desperately.

25 January 2007

How to Take a Philosophy Class: Ethics

Most people pretend to care, and often more than is really healthy, about what is right and wrong. At least as many people have a theory, a set of rules, or a hunch about which is which. No doubt you've all noticed the terrible problems so many disparate ideas has caused! There is, however, a unified theory of ethics which is not only observationally true, but highly practical as well. It is called Retroactively Justified Ethics. Here's how it works:
  1. Perform an action: The best are selfish, even if they appear noble and self-sacrificing. The more twistedly self-centered, the better.

  2. The past is immutable: Immutable means unchangeable, and it's the only thing that makes this little theory work.

  3. Therefore, the actions of the past are also immutable: Once you've performed your action and it's in the past, nobody can change it.

The quality of immutability is higher than mutability (or so the Greeks, who knew a little about philosophy, tell us), so an action in the past must be morally superior to any future action, which might possibly be changed. So do whatever the hell you want as soon as you can if you really want to live a moral and upstanding existence.

20 January 2007

How to Become a Cult Leader

Recently, a visitor found Meatiocrity by searching for "how to bcome a cult leader [sic]." I only know about this searcher what you can also determine from his or her query, and that our searcher apparently placed the query from a host and ISP in the control of Polo Ralph Lauren.

First, let me say that being a cult leader is no easy thing. Sure, there is power (so much power), control (so, so much control), and wives (so, so, so many wives). The life of a cult leader is one of incomparable narcissicism, unmitigated psychosis, and very probably, an early and self-induced death. You will face opposition from without which must never turn to dissent within. You will spend long hours brainwashing and manipulating those within and countless more preventing that practice from reaching the outside. You will perform the duties of a deity or specially chosen messenger with only the strength and stamina of a mere mortal. If you believe you are ready for the task, please continue.

How to Win Converts and Influence the Weak

The first quality a cult leader requires is charisma. You may be familiar with it thanks to the numerous quality role-playing games available today. In a corporate setting, it is the thing you lack which prevents you from usurping your boss' job. Charisma is necessary for attracting and maintaing a following, and for supplanting their wills with yours. As a bit of personal advice, learn to spell and type your search queries effectively. Unappealing linguistic skills will only become a detriment to the budding cult leader hoping to amass a rich and powerful personal army. Again, I strongly suggest you take stock of your corporate surroundings, which will afford valuable real-life examples of charisma and its application to the field of cult leadership. Remember, the more necessary your approval becomes to a person, the more terrifying the threat of your wrath will be.

Your Cult Leader Resumé

In the field of cult leadership, experience is often more valuable than education. A degree from either a well-known and prestigious university or religiously affiliated institution will provide sensationalism and scandal to your cult image and lend an edge against the competition in the world market. But what about the entrepreneur such as yourself who has yet to reach his or her full potential and still needs to develop a full-fledged cult of his or her own? You require something more foundational to your success: abuse, ill treatment, neglect, and trauma. You can use the handy acronym A.I.N.T. to keep these four pillars (explained below) fresh in your mind.

  • Abuse: Any form of personal abuse can help you learn the ways in which to abuse others. If you lack this necessary life experience, there are many individuals and institutions available (myself included, for a small fee) willing to administer it to you. But abuse alone is not enough to become a successful cult leader.

  • Ill Treatment: Ill treatment, though similar to abuse in some regards, is a broader concept. Think of it as the glue which holds all the aspects of cult leadership together. Fostering a victim mentality and, ultimately, a messianic complex, by being demeaned by your peers, insulted by your superiors, disrespected by your inferiors, and disliked by everyone can make or break a cult leader's career. Take care to take all criticism and correction as a personal attack and every compliment or thank-you as patronization.

  • Neglect: Neglect often goes hand-in-hand with ill treatment in a cult leader's social experience. When not mocking you, your associates would be best advised to shun you. Attempt to place yourself in situation where you will be painfully ignored. It is possible, working for a corporation as vast and as vain as Polo Ralph Lauren, that your monotonous cubicle life will allow growth in your feelings of neglect. It is often difficult to strike the appropriate balance between repulsiveness and merely being pathetic, but dilligence in discovering it will pay off in the long run.

  • Trauma: Trauma is the fuel which keeps the engine of cult leadership running. Without significant trauma, abuse, ill-treatment, and neglect are deadweight in the life of a cult leader. Trauma, unlike the first three pillars, cannot be acquired; it must be meted out unfairly by fate. Having a favorite pet die or being cut from the basketball team is insufficient. The mathematics involved are complex, but some more advanced students may be able to become cult leaders with lighter trauma. Having one's family brutally slaughtered , preferably by each other with one of many everyday household items perfectly suited for such a task, is a good starting point for beginners.

It will take time to develop, but once you begin growing as a cult leader with A.I.N.T., you will notice the process becomes more and more natural as you progress.

First Initiates

Now you're ready to find your first initiates! Look for someone loyal yet malleable, capable but unquestioning, sycophantic and weak-willed. You may have heard of this type of person referred to as a "yes-man." It is essential to develop in that person the notion that your will is to be followed at all costs at all times. Once able, allow that person to tell one impressionable friend, who will, at the time you decide, tell another impressionable friend, and so on until you've multiplied your unthinking sect to its full potential. But don't get ahead of yourself! Take things slowly at first. Haste may allow a follower to perceive a flaw or weakness in your ideology. Never let this happen.

Some Final Words

The mechanics and techniques of developing an ideology and maintaing an established cult, though often extensions of what we have already discussed, are highly nuanced and more fitting subjects, due to their dullness, for a different publication. The final days of any cult, however, should be addressed briefly in order to help orient yourself to the goals of all successful cult leaders.

First, ensure some mainstream media attention before attempting any form of mass murder or mass suicide. Always remember that, as a cult's leader, it is the place of your subordinates to do your dirty work. Also, ensure that you never die alone. If any government is attempting to suppress you, as you undoubtedly know they will, and nearly shutting you down, your followers should kill themselves for no readily apparent reason except their devotion and worship of you, their glorious leader. The apparent craziness of their actions and beliefs to outsiders is a good indicator of the success of a cult, which reflects the success of its leader. That said, the only way to reach your goal of becoming a cult leader is to start today!

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On the other hand, it occurs to me that this particular query may have been intended in another sense, such as the way in which a movie may become a "cult" classic. A "cult leader" would therefore be a prominent underground success. For this type of query, I'm afraid I have no advice to give.

16 January 2007

Talkin' 'Bout My S-S-Salutation: Elbow Health

Everyone knows not to cut corners when it comes to their health. Cutting, of corners or otherwise, should be left to fully trained and properly equipped medical professionals. But there are things we all can do to make our world a healthier place.

According to the World Health Organization, or The WHO, many diseases— avian flu, for one— can be spread via everyday hand-to-hand and other interpersonal contact. That means no handshakes, no hugs, and certainly no kisses. But if you're afraid all your cultural training will bcome useless in greeting international travelers, don't; The WHO has the answer: the elbow bump. (Use BugMeNot to get past the New York Times login).

It has been nearly a year since I've heard much of anything about the elbow bump. Although I don't recall the first time I heard of it (it may have been junior high gym class just after the electric slide), I'm convinced that I don't hear about the elbow bump nearly enough. It is, after all, the wave of the future in more than a merely figurative sense.

Hands and faces are too dirty to be used for greeting in a civilized, scientifically-minded society. Can you even name all the places your hands have been today? If you don't know where they've been, I certainly don't, and I certainly don't want to touch them. So next time you see me or anyone you care about, protect them from avian flu and other diseases you're carrying around with a friendly elbow bump.

The WHO also suggests that coughing or sneezing into the crook of one's elbow is far more sanitary than projecting pathogens into one's hands. Certainly The WHO would never suggest the institution of a contrived social gesture using the same body part they suggest for the entrapment of billions (that's billions, with a 'b') of potentially deadly pathogens. Elbows must be not only the cleanest part of the human body, but to some degree antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, hypoallergenic, and spring clean fresh. Rubbing elbows isn't just for the rich and famous anymore!

I expect that elbows will play a greater role in our personal hygeine and interpersonal preventation of disease in the future. They could be used, after sufficient dexterity exercises, to transfer cash during financial transactions. Perhaps ordinary household sponges, supplied with literal elbow grease, will help us keep a clean and sanitary house— the house of the future. Finally, I suggest the use of elbows as alternatives to cotton swabs for the prevention of ear infections. Good health to you!

08 January 2007

How to Take a Philosophy Class: History

Most everyone who goes to college has to take a mandatory philosophy class, usually taught by somebody who'd rather be doing anything else at the moment but lacks the ambition and personal grooming necessary to do so. Unless your dream was to someday rather be doing anything but teaching an introductory philosophy class, you may not have enjoyed the class. You may not even have done quite as well as in your Marketing 101 course. Don't worry, marketing is far more useful.

If you didn't go to college, philosophy class probably isn't your thing anyway.

This helpful guide is meant to acquaint the reader with a brief history of philosophy which, although incomplete and often markedly inaccurate, will nevertheless supply only the very best information on the subject. Other installments will approach additional philosophical subjects such as epistemology, metaphysics, and how come Sisyphus never thought to try some kind of pulley system, in much the same way.

The subject at hand is history, and not, as some have conjectured, the distracting use of the passive voice. Please consider The Disrespect for Truth has Brought a New Dark Age (sic) by Paul Craig Roberts as an excellent example of equally excellent historical philosophy. Pithy, too.

For those of you who have vastly more important things to do, such as business homework, than read the entirety, or any, of Dr. Roberts' essay, I will summarize his helpful approach to historical philosophy:

First, establish a connection with your audience. Every good philosopher cares deeply, passionately, and deeply passionately about truth. Dr. Roberts writes, with a sort of passionate depth, on truth. He writes for truth. He writes in truth, and other prepositions as well. The only people I know who don't care about truth are liars.

Second, make distinctions between who knows truth and who does not. Philosophers have always done this, and there's really very little reason not to. After all, an opposing standpoint means plenty of debate appearances, paper opportunities, and book deals. Supply and demand, friend. In his essay, Dr. Roberts clearly states that some people did not care about truth, then some people did, and now people don't again. Quite lucid, you see?

Third, and finally, always associate truth with whichever period of history, philosophy, religion, political entity, government, cult leader, or product you like the best. Dr. Roberts has wisely chosen the Enlightenment, which is an excellent choice etymologically speaking, and popular as well. Luckily, the clue is in the name. First came the Dark Ages, when nobody cared about truth and mostly mucked about getting plague and the like. Next came the Enlightenment, when people cared, I mean really cared about truth. Sadly, according to Dr. Roberts, that did not last, and we're all headed back to the Dark Ages, which will probably be bit of a misnomer as we'll all muck about getting plague in fluorescent lighting.

To recap: Connection, Distinction, Association. We at Meatiocrity thank Dr. Roberts for his insightful essay and unwitting participation in this installment of How to Take a Philosophy Class and hope that you have found this, the first of many guides, helpful in your philosophy class and everyday life.