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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

Category Archives: The Nutshell (Archive)

I have news!  Wonderful, wonderful news (assuming you love reading what historians will one day refer to as “complete crap”)!  I am putting up my whole archive of The Nutshell articles.  Only one person has specifically requested that I do this, but in this glimmering window of digital motivation, your vague wish (John H.) is my command.  Of course, this is terrible news for me because I am for some reason going out of my way to re-create a record of inane  things I have written.  In any event, this is what I have chosen to do.

For the uninitiated, The Nutshell was a “blog” I worked on before people even had blogs.  I wrote about important topics such as capri pants, meteorologists, exit signage, and of course, communism.  Mostly, however, I used the space to make horrible grammatical errors and abuse my italics privileges.  If you choose to read any of these old works, please take into consideration the fact that I am very, very sorry.

If you’d like to see the archive, please click here or on The Nutshell Archive link under “Categories”.

If for some reason you know what specific article you’re sleuthing for, here is a list:

Hand Me My Sickle!
All Bow and Obey Apreham Lincoln
Let the Battle of Obscurity Commence!
The Capri Pant Dilemma
You’re Always Wrong and 100% Useless. Here’s Your Paycheck!
Goals, Schmoals
You Know What I Hate?
Don’t Hate The Writer. Hate The Fame.
Hi, How Are You?
New Years Is For Suckers
There’s a 37.3% Chance I Don’t Know What I’m Talking About
United We Stand, Divided We Are
Act Now, Idiots!
Personalities: Please, Take One
Driving Me Crazy
In Case of Emergency, Strike Match

Enjoy, I guess!

Fire: the so-called ‘invention’ that pushed man from the ever-boring  potential Dawn of Humanity to the critically acclaimed actual Dawn of Humanity. Of course, fire was invented just as oxygen and homeostasis were: it wasn’t. Man first needed to discover the essence of conflict before he was able to harness and utilize the power of fire. Or else, why would he need it and how could he use it? Now, since behind every man is a very caring, smart and underappreciated woman, let me make the claim that man would have never discovered conflict if it wasn’t for the woman, and in particular, women in general.  And nowadays, as a result, it seems that women have the innate ability to discover conflict where there previously was no conflict.

However, the discovery of fire is not what I care to talk about; rather I’m concerned about the fire itself. So was prehistoric man. So are present-day men and women. And I’m sure that anything short of fire-retardant fire will cause concern for men, women and aliens of the future. But today, we’re much smarter than we were back in those days, right?  Today, we carefully protect ourselves from fire.  This is clearly the case because those cavemen lived in the time before our great thinkers gave us, among other things, the university, atomic theory, the perfect pancake, and sporks! Yes, those were the days of sticks, stones, broken bones, and words were not yet invented.

No, today we are much smarter than before.  In fact, we have what high-powered, masterfully-trained architects and civil engineers like to call “Emergency Exits”. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this concept, emergency exits are doors or openings that are strategically placed throughout a building used to escape during a fire. Now, because we present-day peoples are so learned, we have placed these emergency exits in the most convenient places throughout a structure—that way, when a fire strikes the building, a resident/employee/turtle can escape with ease.

Unfortunately, this is the worst idea in the world. In fact, the concept of an “emergency exit” makes absolutely no sense at all. There’s another name for an emergency exit: AN EXIT. Why we make distinctions between “emergency” doors and “regular” doors is infinitely beyond my realm of understanding. The fact that the door is conveniently placed where a person can exit a room or building rapidly is a pretty good indication that regardless of fire or emergency, this is where a door should be.  Are we only supposed to be able to conveniently exit a building when it is aflame?

Here’s my thought process in a perfect world:

I want to exit the building. I see a door. I am exiting the building.

Here is my thought process in the world in which we live:

I want to exit the building. I see a door. Is it an emergency exit? Yes. Damnit. Will an alarm go off if I exit there? Yes. Damnit. Where is a door that I can actually use to exit? I don’t know. I’ll check down the hall. Nope. Goddamnit. I’m going to burn this place to the ground.  Where’s a match?  I’ll exit the building through the emergency exit.

And there we have it. Emergency exits perpetuate the need for emergency exits. What else but the sense of frustration and embarrassment when someone can’t find a door to exit would cause a person to want to light a building on fire in the first place? At least they would know that there are plenty of perfectly-accessible places to exit the building in that situation.

Think about the last building you were in. Was it on fire? No? Doesn’t it make sense that all fire exits be used as ‘actual’ exits? Yes? Do you see my point about emergency exits? Yes?  Good.

Now don’t just stand there, help me find a match.

Note: In this article, I assume everyone thinks exactly like me.  God help us, especially my parents, if this is true.  With that in mind, and without further ado…

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a pretty nice person.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I think you should be in contention for “Internet User of the Millennium” or even “Internet User of the Millisecond”, but if you were, I would probably at least consider voting for you (unless you happen to be George W. Bush, in which case I would never consider voting for you).  I bring this up because I know, given one particular situation, I will, in your direction, shake my tiny fist in murderous rage.  Of course this situation is: when you are driving on the highway (or, unless you happen to be George W. Bush.  Or especially, if you happen to be George W. Bush driving on the highway).

Driving on the highway (or “on the highway, for the most part,” if you are a woman) is in my opinion a pretty decent microcosm of fundamental human interaction.  I use the word “fundamental” here for a couple reasons.  First and foremost, it makes my article longer (“fundamental” has eleven letters to the mere five in “basic”).  Second, it makes this article sound more educational (when it reality it is just a series of sentences that kind of make sense followed by pseudo-witty comments in parentheses that definitely do not make sense).

My bold statement of the day is that we make the exact same assumptions about drivers on the thruway as we do about strangers in our daily lives.  This shouldn’t be too surprising because these are the same strangers we interact with in our daily lives. However, the reality is that our actions are magnified when we are protected from them. In the case with cars, our sense of disconnected invincibility stems from the fortress of steel (or, in the case of a Saturn owner: silly-putty and thumbtacks) surrounding us.

First of all, at age twenty, it should be assumed that I am a glorified driving expert.  After all, I have been driving for well over four years.  That’s longer than it takes most people to finish both second and third grade.  Think about it.  The problem with the way I drive (and the way everyone else around me drives) is that I hate everyone on the road who is not me.  In my opinion, there are three types of drivers (which you can differentiate between based on the type of car and/or the ratio of total area of spoilers, exhaust paraphernalia, racing-related bumper stickers to the number of decibels the car is producing):

1) People who are going too slow (“Freaking Old People”)
2) People who are going too fast (“Freaking Road Rage Alcoholic Punks”)
3) Me

I don’t count truck drivers because they, as one beaver Union worker on strike said to the other, “Don’t give a damn.”  I don’t hate truck drivers and don’t figure them into my equation—they’re just doing their job.  Those who fit into groups one or two, however, should be removed from the road (which, in case you were wondering, is very clearly marked “my road”).

Exceedingly rare is the situation where there is someone in front of me who causes me to think to myself, “My, this motorist is cruising at precisely the right speed and acceleration for me to arrive at my destination free of stress and having committed no crimes punishable by death in states other than Texas and Oklahoma.”  And if I do begin to think this delightful thought, by the time I get to the “free of stress” part, behind me I hear the sound of a crazed embittered middle-aged man driving a white minivan with a “Soccer Mom” sticker on the back windshield at six-hundred seventy-four miles per hour, breathing eighty-proof fire, teeth clenched, testosterone oozing from every pore.  I hate that guy, and he hates me too, because to him, I’m just another “freaking old person”.

The fact that we fail to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone we encounter on the road is pretty indicative of our attitude towards unfamiliar persons in our everyday travels.  We judge the drivers  around us because we can—what are the chances of us actually seeing these people ever again?  We see differences in the way they drive compared to us.  And, as I harped on in previous articles, we often associate different-ness with badness.

The only time when we drivers seem to care for one another is when one of us spots “the enemy”: a stealth vigilante nuclear terrorist helicopter or equivalent, such as a New York State Trooper.  It is only at this point when the highway drivers feel more like a unified coalition of drivers and not just a collection of individuals with separate desires and plans.  For some reason, we feel sorry for the ones that get caught by troopers, because we’re all speeding—like grade-schoolers chaotically running through the halls.

The reason I mention this anti-police brotherhood is to bring up one simple point.  I have faith that ultimately, under the correct set of circumstances, we care about those around us, regardless.   Our compassion would be based solely on the fact that those with whom we come in contact are human, and for no other reason.  Unfortunately, it will take an instance similar to the cinematic masterpiece The Birds for many of us to understand this theory.  We would need to be threatened by another species, swooped down upon like police on highway drivers, for many people to truly develop the sense of human camaraderie that we all seem to (at the very least) be capable of.  The human race is atop the Food Chain.  We can’t imagine a more powerful enemy, but perhaps we need one to truly understand what it is to be human.

In the mean time, truly understand that if you see me on the highway, you should get the hell out of my way.

Preface: Did you ever notice how “for one reason or another” is the most useless statement in the entire English language?  Not only is the person using this phrase not sure what in particular that “one reason” behind his/her beliefs is, but we’re also informed that their opinion might not even be based on that one unspecified reason; rather based on a  different rationale which remains equally mysterious. I have a feeling that the same guy who invented that gem also invented the concept of meteorologists.

For one reason or another, I have this theory.  The theory is as follows: A person’s true personality, no matter how rarely it is shown, is revealed in its truest form when he/she is left anonymous.  I’d like to tell you that I came up with this hypothesis after a long struggle with my dissertation regarding the effects of social anxiety on the human condition, but sadly, that is not the case.  I was Trick-Or-Treating.

The night had gone as one might expect a Rochester-hosted Halloween night to go.  My buddies and I (two baseball players, a doctor, and a Ross Perot) were trudging through snow (yes, snow) house by house, slowly filling our pillow cases with candy, peanuts, pennies, and caramel-coated, chocolate-covered razor blades.  Finally, we came to “the house”.  Here, we found an unguarded tub-like…well…tub, filled with candy.  I’m talking filled.  The only thing separating us from six pounds of pre-pubescent gold was a sign that read: “Please, Take One”.  Right.  This situation, ladies and gentlemen, defined a person.

As far as I could tell, these are the true personalities that could be extracted from this situation:

1)    The Free-For-All Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, disbands from the group.  He is interested only in his well-being (where well-being is exactly equal to the number of candy pieces at the end of the night) and will act as such.  He’ll take all of the candy for himself, bin and all.

2)    The Social-Minded Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks socially.  His main goal is to get the greatest amount of wealth while simultaneously not crossing any thick social barriers.  This person would take, in good conscience, about half of the available candy and then go on to justify his decision to himself and those around him until the end of the night and for the next two weeks.

3)    The Mastermind Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks politically.  He is also concerned about filling his pillowcase with riches, but also knows that his livelihood might depend on his group, or, as he sees them now, his witnesses.  This person would take charge of the situation at hand.  He would first make sure that the proverbial coast is clear and then divide the candy up into several subsets (a large pile for him and equal smaller piles for each member of the group).

4)    The No-Harm-Done Petty Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks realistically.  He won’t be able to sleep if he takes a good portion of the candy, but he also knows that he won’t be able to sleep if he passes up a “good” situation like this.  This person will carefully select a handful of candy to bring home.  He won’t make a huge dent in the available goods, but the riches he does take are quality riches.  Afterward, he’d claim that the people who set up the “Please Take One” bin did so knowing full well that trick-or-treaters would take more than one piece, so what he did was perfectly allowable and perfectly normal.  No harm done.

5)    The Unaffected – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks about which candy he is going to select.  He does not see the big tub of candy as a “situation”, only a quick stop on the journey to fill up the pillowcase.  The sign says “Take One”, and one he will take, no second thoughts.

6)    The Follower – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, does not think.  He stands there, grinning, waiting for someone else to say something.  No matter what it is his friend blurts out, he remarks, “Yeah, good idea!”  This person has no true personality; rather, he is made up of situations where he is agreeing with one type of personality and situations where he is agreeing with another type.

7)    The Son of a Preacher-Man Man – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks morally.  His eyes may glisten in moonlight when he sees the mounds of Mounds and Pieces of Reeses, but he knows what he has to do.  This character will take only one piece of candy, just as the sign says, and will explain to all of his group-members why he only took one piece and why they should also take only one piece.  After his speech is over, this person is beaten up by the Free-For-All-Criminal

What we did that night isn’t really important (or legal for that matter), but the question remains, as Marc Summers always said, What Would You Do?

Many of my readers (three of the seven) have expressed some deep concern regarding the last article.  It seems that my last attempt at ‘mot pour rire’ ended without a punch line, without a sense of relief and most of all, without a sense of humor.  This leads me to one very chilling conclusion: the other four of my readers were not paying attention.  In all seriousness, I have a logical explanation for the lack of wit in my last piece: Trish, my editor.  Of course that last sentence was a joke, Trish.  You’re not my editor anymore.  Trust me, if I had my way, I would go back, un-write that article, and replace it with a failsafe comedy, like a story about a monkey and a midget who speak with English accents.

Parental Advisory: What I am about to discuss is the editorial writer’s equivalent of an eleventh grader beating up a fifth grader in front of his girlfriend.  Basically, it shouldn’t be done, and when it is, no one is very impressed.  Here I am, in all of my glory, about to make fun of the bottom of the proverbial barrel: Infomercials.  Yes, the commercials picked last at all of the advertisement kickball games.  The commercials we only watch when we forget that it is actually possible to change the channel.  The commercials created by, for, and because of, idiots.

Granted, most of us are not idiots—at least not the people reading this article.  I’m giving you all the benefit of the doubt because you have successfully connected to the Internet without catching fire.  And if you’re reading this editorial in a blazing inferno, I commend your (flaming) dedication to The Nutshell…but you are still an idiot.  Anyway, I bring up this point about our non-idiocy because I think it’s important we establish that on our way to dissecting the Infomercial genre of advertising.

Now, most people think that the purpose of an advertisement is to convince the viewer to buy a product or invest in a service.  While under normal circumstances I would agree, this is not the purpose of an Infomercial.  The purpose of an Infomercial is, very plainly, to convince you that you are an idiot.  The eventual “purchasing of the advertised product” is a direct off-shoot of your self-determined idiocy.  I mean, let’s be serious here.  Who but an idiot would pay $9.95 for shipping “and handling” for an item that arrives at your door in six to eight weeks? I could walk to a couple states in that time (not to mention another “country”).

You don’t buy a product you see on an Infomercial because it is actually useful; you buy it because you believe that is it performing a task that is otherwise very difficult…like turning a screw.  We all know that turning a screw (or nut or bolt, whatever the case may be) is a fairly simple undertaking.

Step 1: Position wrench around bolt
Step 2: Turn
Step 3: Get on with life

However, after watching an Infomercial for Gator Grip, you would discover that, not only is a your everyday wrench far from ideal, but it is also tiring, annoying, heavy, and impossible to operate.  Operating a wrench according to the kind folks at Gator Grip consists of these steps:

Step 1: Find wrench in clutter of tools
Step 2: Fumble wrench, drop wrench on floor
Step 3: Grimace in pain, as you bend down to pick up wrench
Step 4: Fail miserably in your first several attempts to position the wrench
Step 5: Injure self with wrench
Step 6: Become very discouraged
Step 7: Explode in fit of frustrated rage

“Honey, can you screw in this light fixture?”
“What the hell?  Are you trying to kill me?  Gator Grip here I come!”

I don’t know where they get these actors.  My guess is that the Casting Director simply finds a bunch of people with eternal hiccups and asks them to perform tasks such as making a pancake, cutting a tomato, chopping garlic, or rolling up a hose.  I’ve never seen such frustrated people before!  I feel sorry for anyone who truly gets that flustered making a pancake.  As for the rest of us, The Normals, I just can’t find justification for even thinking about purchasing a majority of products advertised on Infomercials.

If people truly get that aggravated when making a pancake, I think they need to step back and question whether a Perfect Pancake is the answer to their problems.  My suggestion would be to invest that $19.95 (plus shipping and handling) on a couple anger management classes, instructed by a man they know they can trust, Ron Popeil.

Here’s a statement for everyone to digest: You are not me.  Seems like a simple concept, right?  Clearly, it is possible for both of us to be standing in the same room and, at the same time, to be standing in two different places.  Obviously, based on that experimental fact, you are not me.  Furthermore, because these rules apply, we can determine that I am also not you.  This much we should understand.  It all seems rather simple, doesn’t it?  It appears though, that on many occasions, people have a great deal of difficulty distinguishing “themselves” from what we might call “others around them”.

We often ask ourselves “Why would someone do X, Y, Z?”  (Where X, Y, and Z are self-affecting actions, and not people).  That’s a normal question to pose to oneself; it’s natural, and that’s fine.  It is when we stray away from this self-regulated questioning of another’s self-affecting actions or ideals and enter into a domain which desires a regulation or alteration of an outsider’s actions or ideals.  It should never be up to me to decide what you do with yourself, or what you think.  And that goes for you to me as well.

Anytime you think or say, “You know, if I were you …”, you’re missing the point.  Nobody cares what you would do.  I don’t want you in my shoes…that’s why they’re my shoes.  Get it?  Injecting an opinion that begins with the fragment above suggests that what you would do is the ideal way of handling a given situation, when in reality it might just be an alternative way of handling a situation.  It’s an insult.  More importantly, very rarely does this conversation lead anywhere positive.  After introducing an opinion like this, the conversation either turns into a) a personal defense of the actions in question or b) nothing.  A simple and sarcastic, “OK, thanks for your input.”

Most notable offenders of the IIWYS (If I Were You Syndrome) include politicians, sportscasters, mothers, opinionated people (other than ourselves, of course), and radical social and political groups (which, of course, are everyone else’s groups.  “We’re not radical; we’re supporting a worthy cause, Comrade!  Hand me my sickle!”)  Sportscasters flail on the air (“You know, if I were Bobby Valentine here, I would have…”), parents make a career out of it (“If I were you, I wouldn’t major in…”), and lowly businessmen get fired for it (“Excuse me, sir, but if I were you, I would…”).

The idea that people do not care about the opinions of those around them is not the point I am trying to make here.  Frankly, I believe that people just do not like to be questioned regarding matters of the self.  This notion of “self” is what separates you from me, and me from anyone else with whom I come in contact.  It’s what makes us special. (Cue cast of Full House, soft piano music and suggestions of getting “some ice cream sundaes”.)

I think we should allow (and perhaps encourage?) people to make decisions different from ours, regardless of how we feel, regardless of what we would do.  Good, bad, it doesn’t really matter; the actions of those around us are what continue to define our culture.  If people were concerned with what everyone else would do in their situation, we wouldn’t be able to share stories, for we would know the endings.

In short, many people in this country have yet to realize that it is the differences (not similarities) between us that make this a wonderful place in which to live–even in this time of great social strife and confusion.  We’re often hell-bent on looking for our similarities when we should actually be focusing on our differences, our uniqueness. Granted, we all sing to the same flag, we all eat the same food (for the most part), we all share pompous opinions about Europeans and the same unruly sense of befuddlement regarding our Neighbors to the North, Eh?  But really, it is time we once again focus on America the Melting Pot, and slowly stray away from this “We, the Americans” idea—even after the recent social tension.  The concept of Americans as a people falsifies what makes this country so unique, so…American.

I have a new pet peeve. I’m not sure if I have to justify this new peeve or not. On the one hand, my old pet peeves might get jealous because of the new attention being paid to the new peeve. On the other hand, it’s so hard to resist a new little bundle of joy when you’re standing in the Pet Store.

Frankly, if you’re not sure what you’re talking about, don’t speak (I know what you’re thinking).  Now, I don’t mean this in the harshest way possible, though I know people who believe that not a breath should be wasted on opinions that one is not sure of.  What I cannot understand is why people insist on beginning sentences with “I’m 70% sure that…” or “I’m 40% prepared for…” or anything hovering even remotely close to that genre of thought.  Seriously, what do sentences like those even MEAN?

Take this example: “I’m about 85% sure that we didn’t have any homework due for today.”

a) What did we just learn from this upstanding citizen?
b) Are we more comfortable with the idea of not having done any homework?
c) Is this statement even useful at all? (see answer key below).

It’s not so much the fact that this individual is not entirely sure whether or not there is homework due.  My problem has more to do with the fact that they are somehow exactly sure the degree of their uncertainty.  “Sureness” is binary, folks.  It’s on.  It’s off.  I’m sure.  I’m not sure.  So please don’t tell me you’re 10% or 80% or 99% sure.  No, you’re not.  There’s a word for that–unsure.

I hate to keep harping on meteorologists, but it’s too easy.  I think my deep-rooted not-likeage for these people comes from their explicit use of these sentences which do me absolutely no good whatsoever.  50% chance of rain, eh?  Thanks, Mr. Meteorologist!  I’ll go grab my half umbrella.  25% chance of snow, huh?  I’ll go put on one snow tire.  100% chance I’m changing the channel…meteorologist PUNK.  HOLD ME BACK!

*brushes off shirt*

Eh HEM.  All I’m saying is that if you’re going to inform me of your thought, make sure you have one.  Make sure you know what you want to say, and make sure you say it.  Protecting your gut reaction or gut opinion with some percentage speaks volumes.  Unfortunately, those volumes are filled with pages and pages of the sentence “I have no idea what I’m talking about”.

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