Friday, November 25, 2011

No PC, No iPhone, No Service

For a long time, not having a television was seen as a sign of intelligence and sophistication. We’ve all known that scarf-draped prick that can’t wait to tell you he doesn’t own a TV (and he probably says “idiot box” like he invented the term).

In its early days, TV had to battle with the movies for respect. Then, maybe starting with The Sopranos, many shows became more cinematic (a more “respectable” medium), and TV finally seemed to lose some of its stigma...just in time for the Internet to come along and dilute television’s newfound relevance.

In my estimation, the Internet never suffered the kind of smirch that befell television. Why not?

Maybe because the Internet was announced as the important sounding “information superhighway,” whereas television was just another entertainment tool (just consider the tone of the nicknames: “information superhighway” vs. ”boob-tube” and “idiot box”).

Maybe because the Internet was something you had to tinker with to operate (meaning you needed some know-how to experience it), whereas early televisions were just something you plugged in like a radio (in the days before television, did folks without radios fancy themselves superior?)

Which brings us to today. Today, not having a TV is still viewed as a sign of intelligence. Not having the Internet (and its associated devices) is seen as a sign of being backward, even though everyone with the Internet complains it is a cesspool of porn and misinformation (and ironically, pirated shows from the boob-tube). While it has had its detractors, most of them are seen as dinosaurs, and the Internet very quickly shook off any stigma it might have had; unlike television, which took decades to attain any degree of respectability. You might say the rapidity of the ‘net’s rise to respectability is a sign of the frenzied pace of the Internet Age.

I’m Andy Rooney, for The Interesting Times Herald.

Follow me on Twitter, the new idiot box:!/greatMikePayne

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Last Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving week, so people are taking their seasonal interest in the homeless. Despite all the focus the homeless receive this time of year, all they end up receiving is one meal (on Thanksgiving). But the people who serve them that one meal act like it is the answer to all of their problems.

Homeless Guy: I have a big festering wound.

Soup Kitchen Guy: Pour some gravy on it!

Homeless Guy: My baby needs insulin.

Soup Kitchen Guy: Hope she likes taters!

And if one of the homeless should ask for some change while he is being served, suddenly it becomes like any other day of the year...

Homeless: Hey, can I get a dime?

Soup Kitchen Guy: Lazy bum, get a job. More stuffing?

Buck the trend and give some of your Black Friday slush fund to the homeless.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Empty money clips are the new black

For the last several years, hipsters have been slumming it fashion-wise; dressing like truckers, carpenters...very faux blue collar (ironic given their obsession with "calling out" scary blue-collar hill-people who live nowhere near them. Perhaps this is part of the overall irony package?).

Now that the banks are collapsing, you have to wonder: are hipsters going to start dressing like laid off investment bankers? Are we going to walk in The Gap and see tattered pin-striped suits with the pockets turned inside out?

Coming soon, the perfect accessory for fall…and winter…and spring…and summer: The Skinny Wallet!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Self-hate is a big problem for many people; so much so that the topic is now very much out in the open. What I find strange is when someone who struggles with self-hatred tries to remedy it by having children. Because what are your children? They’re just more of you. If you hate yourself, having kids is just expanding the problem.

My self-hatred is the reason I don’t want kids. The last thing I want is another me riding sidecar for 18 years.

If you hate yourself, there is a decent chance you hate your parents too. What better way to show your distaste for mom and dad then to discontinue your lineage. Refusing to procreate is a far deeper criticism of your parents than quitting law school to start a punk band.

Think about it; going childless means you are JUST SAYING NO to your bloodline. Picture all the folks who preceded you in your ancestry…people who battled through war, famine, floods, disease, poverty…all to help make you who you are. Telling them all “thanks for nothing” is more rebellious than an army of middle fingers (Army of Middle Fingers...not a bad name for that punk band).

Don't leave me barren on Twitter:!/greatMikePayne

Saturday, November 5, 2011

THINK DIFFERENT, but act the same

Since Steve Jobs' death, there has been ample talk about his eccentricities and whether he was a "nice" guy.

Why is anyone surprised when someone who thinks in nontraditional ways behaves in nontraditional ways? He didn't get where he was by thinking like everyone else, so why should anyone expect him to act like everyone else?

Did you seriously expect Jobs to do exactly what everyone else does--overpay to attend an fourth-rate out-of-state college (thus gaining the debt of a brand name education without the brand name education), stay too long with his college sweetheart because he'd heard others say they regretted not marrying their college sweethearts, settle into a stultifying administrative job with a long title and a short salary, work to put enough cash away to qualify for a house he couldn't afford in a neighborhood he didn't like because it's "what you do," then one day just choose to start thinking out of the box? I don't think that's how it works. Rare is the individual who makes 30 years of mouse decisions and then one day wakes up a lion. Deep inspiration isn't a 9-to-5 task accomplished with 9-to-5 methods.

The hero-anointing masses often wish to believe their heroes are just like them. This is part of the reason biographies sometimes trigger such outcry. For instance, many sports fans couldn’t fathom that Michael Jordan, a man who maintained his lust for domination long after he’d become hugely rich and dominant, was a fanatical, pitiless competitor. For Jordan, there was an I in team, the same I that is in M-I-chael. That is part of what it takes to still care about winning after you have accomplished enough feats to last 23 lifetimes. Sorry if that makes you feel dirty about wearing his shoes. Ironically, if MJ lacked that unfaltering need for trophies, you wouldn't want to wear his shoes in the first place.

Also, famed innovators like Mr. Jobs are the folks the masses want to know more about, so it is inevitable that every nook and cranny of their personalities ends up under a microscope. The clerks who work in Apple stores have quirks too, but no one cares enough about them to chronicle their oddities.

None of this is to suggest that Mr. Jobs totally ignored the herds. He needed those herds to believe iPhones were in short supply so that they would rush out to buy them at full price. He then needed the rest of the herd to watch that first herd's antics so that they could rush out to copy them. And so on. Innovators and herds play cat-and-mouse. Or maybe it should be called lion-and-mouse.