This Would Never Work on Kickstarter

One staple of party conversation that has changed over the years is the question, “What would you do with a million dollars?” This is mostly due to inflation. While a million bucks is a lot of money, it just doesn’t go as far as it used to. You could live off it, if you lived modestly, or you could blow it on a few extravagances while continuing to work like a dog for the rest of your life, or you could gamble it away on an education or a business venture. These are all boring responses, leading to sober discussions about prudent investments or savvy business decisions. A million bucks isn’t fuck you money; you’ve got to be careful with it, if you don’t want to fritter it away.

The new question then, if you want to get to the heart of a person’s character, is to ask them what they’d do if they get ahold of a massive, self-perpetuating pile of cash. You can learn a lot about someone if you find out what they’d do if they didn’t have to hustle for a living. Mostly, you’ll learn whether or not they’ve got a sense of humor. At least when it comes to the people I’ve met who’ve answered this question, serious responses are hard to come by. It’s all been jokes, mostly.

But forgive them: it’s hard to show someone your dearest wishes, especially if that someone is a fat, sarcastic bastard with no faith in humanity.

I have a joke answer, myself. Here it is:

I would find a nice, suburban area that’s home to the kind of people who drive hybrid SUVs, and I’d start up a take-out burrito restaurant. No tables and chairs, just an elegant, friendly decor — and a wall of bulletproof glass separating the employees and the customers. Our menu would consist of all the typical San Francisco-style burrito ingredients, with two exceptions. We would not offer sour cream or guacamole.

I think people would go insane. I mean, really out-of-their-minds with rage. You see why we need the bulletproof glass.

I think it would be kind of funny.

See, the thing is that I don’t really like sour cream or guacamole. Hooray for variety and all that, but actually it’s kind of a problem. When you ask a restaurant to hold the sour cream and guac, they have a tendency not to listen. I’ve actually run into situations where, somehow, the wait staff thought I actually requested extra of those condiments, instead of none of them. We hear what we expect to hear, I guess.

You know what? It’s fine. I have an unusual preference, and all I can do is ask politely for it to be respected. I have no right to expect that it actually be accommodated. It’s not worth getting upset over. Food service people work hard (I speak from experience), and my requests are onerous and unjustified. It’s all totally fine.

But I would like to see it turned back on the world for once. I think it would be funny. Not for them though, for me. It would be funny to me.

The second part of the joke would be, of course, the food cart outside the store that gave away free guacamole and sour cream. I’m not a monster, after all. Also, the food cart wouldn’t sell anything else. If you ordered a burrito from there, your only options would be for one filled completely with guacamole, or with sour cream, or, if you go all-out, one filled with both.

Again, I think it would be funny. I think you’d have a line around the block of people waiting to buy piles of guacamole that’ve been loosely wrapped in a warm tortilla. People with the courage to admit to themselves what it is they really want, which is to hork down mashed avocados like big messy pigs, their faces slathered in goop.

I’m pretty sure that these twin businesses would lead to much disruption of the peace, and would therefore be shut down due to some obscure city ordinance or something. I’d give it about a week. Thus would be the end of my business ambitions.

But the YouTube videos would live on forever.

Allowing People to Define Themselves

Facebook adds new gender option for users: fill in the blank – SFGate.

Well, here’s something I don’t say very often: Good job, Facebook. While it seems they already recognize that gender is, for many people, not a binary thing, it’s good that they’ve added a more free-form option. Even if you fill a pick-list with a whole bunch of pre-defined choices, you stand a good chance of leaving people out.

Lost in Retail

“A guy comes in and wants to order a TV-only-offer CD. He brings in the 1-800 number from the commercial and asks if we can call it in for him.” How your pretentious local record store asshole got that way | Dangerous Minds. Via BoingBoing

Working with the general public kind of sucks. Some of them are weird, confusing people. I get that.

And I know that reading this huge list of bizarre questions and statements said to record store employees is supposed to make me laugh, but it’s mostly just making me sad. It’s a reminder that however sharp and clear our minds are now, many of us will succumb to senility or mental confusion.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching my mom and grandma mentally regress into a state of childish confusion over the past couple of years. They used to be able to go out and handle the world just fine, and are now baffled over how strange and difficult it feels to accomplish the basic tasks that now elude them. I’ve heard them ask for the most bizarre-sounding things when ordering food, for example, even with the menu right in front of them. It’s very depressing.

Urbanism is a Sham

“Yet urbanism has manufactured a crusade designed to invoke attachment and evoke a sense of community—we’re all in this together—even as the cost of living spirals out of the average community member’s grasp. I don’t believe anyone has permanent rights over the land. I just dislike the dishonesty. The hollow promise of ‘affordable housing.’ The rhetoric of quality jobs. The jingoistic slogans meant to breed civic pride and loyalty that no city government has the will to reciprocate.” {Emphasis mine} From: Cities Don’t ♥ Us – The Morning News.

If anyone has ever wondered why I am so unloving towards San Francisco, why I almost always take any opportunity I can find to highlight its many flaws, it’s largely because of that last, bolded sentence. I think it is foolish to love something that not only can’t love you back, but is actively trying to beat you up, take your money, give it to the rich, and leave you lying in a heap on the shit-stained escalators of your nearest BART station. And while I don’t live in San Francisco (and I will never be wealthy enough to even have that option), it is the urban butthole I spend most of my time dealing with, so I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding of the place. Ultimately, the crap it puts you through in not made up for by the few positive things it offers in return.

Fuck civic pride — if you feel that feeling, then you’ve been had.

Last Sunday Night

I only caught the last five minutes of the Oscars last night; I was passing through the front room on the way to the kitchen, and one of the housemates had it on. Birdman won best picture — okay, good to know, I thought. I didn’t realize that I was witnessing the Academy’s greatest mistake in 20 years, though. Or that Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t very funny.

I’m not one of those folks who tend to go on at length about how unimportant the Oscars are. I concede that they are important. I just think the awards show is boring. Also, the only movie I’ve seen in the past year was The Hobbit III, so I would have had no idea what was going on anyway. So instead, I spent the evening in my room watching old Japanese “super robot” cartoons — because it’s a realm of entertainment in which I am interested, but about which I know practically nothing.

But the Internet is full of Oscar stuff this morning, leading to me wondering if I missed anything that I would have (or should have) liked to have seen? I don’t think so, but you never know, I guess.

At the very least, I find that I have no rational basis for any reaction I might have to all the think-pieces that are being published today. Thank god.

Pits, Sans Bottoms

We’ve got a bottomless pit that starts at one point on the Earth, goes all the way through the center, and back out the other side.

Are you ready to dive in? Let’s do it, and see what happens!

{From: Throwback Thursday: The science of bottomless pits — Medium | Via: Slashdot}

It’s a pity that there’s no way (with our current technology) to affordably punch a hole straight through the planet, because it seems a hole like that would be pretty cool to have. On the other hand, if we humans were capbable of such feats of engineering, imagine the havoc we would wreak.