Soup to Nuts

The Office Thief, The Chinese
Sitters & the Three-Boob Woman

Knowingly or not, we all play parts in the staging of someone else’s drama. Some are petty and ruin the proceedings, as others, humbly, master the hapless roles. Yet, there are those whose self-immolating act may make them come out stronger by the end of the third act.
Let’s start with that infamous office jester, the refrigerator thief who plagues the world of company stiffs and often gets away with it. We catch up with line sitters, camping on the streets to get persons unknown the latest iPhone. And on to Jasmine Tridevil’s sideshow.
Although on the surface, these vivid showcases of human frailty seem utterly different from one another, clear commonalities emerge from their underpinnings. They’re enough to bring it all down to a few, basic strains that reveal how we connect with others, or at least, the way we strive to annoy the hell out of them.
But what’s most fascinating about these three instances is how interchangeable is the role each character plays. Just like in the theater, the perceived villains may hold more humanity in their actions than we would care to give them credit for. And the heroes are hardly as virtuous as a cheap movie plot would have them.
Thus, through his mischief, the office jerk may reveal the brutal turf war that goes unmentioned all around the exposed company cubicles. Also, the arbitrary justice ready to be exacted by some anonymous bureaucrat from behind a fancy shield with a name attached – notwithstanding the indispensable victim role.
The professional ‘exploited’ may be turning a profit few would dream of from such a harsh occupation, even if, or given that, to many, standing in line to get the latest gadget is not just a waste of time, but completely below their sense of worth. Also, never mind that some organized crime may be behind the whole scheme.
And speaking of exploiting, how can anyone blame the sheer showmanship er displayed, or almost, by a self-inventing woman bent into becoming a reality TV star? Whether it’s an unhealthy step, or a mere hoax, she has all the right to crave for the attention, for it will be giveth to her, anytime, any day. Enjoy the ride.

It happened in New Zealand as it could have anywhere else. Office hands may know the script very well: your lunch gets eaten, anonymously; you write your grievance on a note; thief refuses to bulge; you surrender to moaning; thief may be revealed, if ever, by sheer luck, or well-honed snitching. Or some variation of the theme.
This time, the whole saga and its profusely descriptive notes, exchanged between the unconscionably jester and his victim, went viral on a New Zealand Continue reading

Space Out

Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Fan & Joint Tripper

‘The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serendipity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.’ These words are attributed to Carl Sagan, who’d be 78 years old today. Happy birthday, Mr. Cosmos.
The quote appeared on Lester Grinspoon’s 1977 book, Marihuana Reconsidered, and it’s here apropos last Tuesday’s vote legalizing weed in Washington and Colorado states, the first of its kind in the U.S., and a potential crack in the expensive, tragic, and ultimately ineffective ‘war on drugs.’ Well done, fellow Americans, others will soon join you.
The astrophysicist known for his 1970s TV series Cosmos was also a user himself, according to Keay Davison, who wrote his biography in 1996, three years after Sagan died of myelodysplasia-related pneumonia. Wikipedia reports that not long after, his widow Ann Druyan presided over the board of directors of NORML, a foundation dedicated to reforming laws concerning pot.
Even though much of the turbulent 1960s and 1970s were marked by both widespread experiments with mind-altering drugs, and with the wonders of the space race, Sagan’s importance for boosting popular interest in science and astrophysics can not be overstated. Besides his Continue reading

Alike Minds

Vonnegut’s Marriage, Herzog’s
Hypnotism & Sagan’s Apple Suit

Author Kurt Vonnegut is one of the greatest of his generation, but you wouldn’t believe the contract he once signed. We won’t talk about Werner Herzog’s movies, either, but you’ll find out what he did to a chicken.
And there was that time when astronomer Carl Sagan dropped his telescope and decided to sue Apple Computers. This post is about what happened when these three brilliant minds were left idle for a moment.
We’re not about to knock their gift at elevating our lowly commonality to epic status in the personal, idiosyncratic views of their work. Heaven knows that many already do that for a living, and we would never share a drink with that sort.
But as the recent, depressing performance on national TV, by an accomplished Hollywood star, has shown, a lot of what the famous and the talented do is not worth a pocketful of change.
Besides, who are we kidding here? Kurt, and Werner, and Carl, have all reached the kind of deserving status in our society to be safely away from most hacker jobs anyone would misguidedly attempt to undertake.
By now, it may be clear that the tenuous connecting tissue among these stories is the fact that they represent a curious take on the Continue reading

Small Classes

When PhDs Engorge Welfare Lines
& Dropouts Dream of Hitting It Big

The confirmation, last week, of the number of jobless workers with some college now exceeding those with a high school diploma or less, has reignited the age-old debate about what’s more important in the marketplace, a degree or professional expertise. Both, one would say, but things are rarely that simple.
While there are many billionaires who never finished college or who quit school early on, lack of formal education is still an excuse, at least for job recruiters, to cut down the ever increasing stack of resumes they receive. Besides, billionaires are less than one percent of the population, as the Occupy Wall Street movement helps us remember.
Still, at a time when many consider playing Lotto part of their retirement plan, while others dream about fame and fortune despite staggering odds stacked against them, it’s no wonder that the super rich example finds its way to any debate about unemployment and education, even though it has little to do with either.
Educators, political scientists and even populist politicians all routinely puzzled over the undeniable benefits but less clear practical advantages of having a degree. Specially in the U.S.’s current toxic environment for independent thinking, scientific knowledge and high-end academic achievement, all commonly associated to the number of years one spends at school.
Also, putting aside the increasing cost, rampant student debt and declining funding for research factors, however relevant to any discussion about education they may be, it’s instructive to note that if geniuses can’t be artificially raised, they hardly ever sprout without nurturing conditions.

Thus, it’s an understatement to celebrate the outstanding personal Continue reading

Useless Two Cents

The Man Who Mistook an Apple
for His Personal Gift to the World

Steve Jobs was so immense that his wake will be forever littered with happenstance and irony, and glittered with flashes of the genius he was generous enough to share during his life.
To begin with, his sense of timing was impeccable. After all, the biological son of a Syrian died in the year that will be known for its Arab Spring, an event widely documented by gadgets he devised.
In fact, much of Jobs’s legacy will last for generations solely on the underground footage that registered mass movements for freedom around the world, and probably helped to change it too.
Even the current mushrooming protest against Wall Street’s greed and lack of accountability has greatly benefited Continue reading

Top Tools

Of Killer Apps &
Subtracted Calls

As times have become a matter of additional this and additional that these days, as in, I’d be happy if I had this… or I’d be feeling wonderful right now if I only had that.. or the thing that’d really make me feel whole this time around would be another whatever… it’s no wonder people are killing for the next killer application. The soon to be known as the proverbial Killer App seems to be on everyone’s wish lists and I, for one, wouldn’t be the dark dot to find arguable things to drop against such overall wave. Who am I? One of the Gates or something?
The only thing is, going over such lists of ideal apps already invented or anxiously imagined, that people are already feeling very unhappy they don’t yet have, one notices they all seem to be useful for the go. As in, the great app to find the nearest meth Continue reading