You’ve got to have something of a coffee fetish to operate a coffee blog–even half-assedly like I do. Being the coffee shop junkie that I am, I always considered the coffee shop to be an ideal social destination–mainly because I couldn’t really think of any other ideas. That said, I also considered the coffee shop an ideal place for doing homework, business meetings, family reunions, and sleeping. Coffee’s a social drug drink, and is therefore adaptable to a variety of social situations.

On the other hand, maybe it’s not that simple You may recall my report on my hometown being overrun by bikini coffee shops. While the subject inspired some spirited (and entertaining) debate, I never made any serious correlation between coffee and sex. I mean, bikini-clad women and coffee seemed like a pretty arbitrary pairing to me, and  it turns out that business model may not really have much to do with the coffee anyways. I figured since you could substitute wings, burgers, and internet domain name services, sex and marketing is a proven formula, coffee was just replacing the variable.

…or so I thought. To start things off, let’s hear from executive transvestite (not “weirdo transvestite,” mind you) Eddie Izzard who shares an often quoted anec-joke about the coffee/sex correlation:

So “coffee” is street slang for sex. That’s cool, but at the same time it just seems…confusing. Sure, there’s the possibility of social faux pas with heads of state, but given coffee’s wide social presence, that can’t possibly be a hard and fast literal rule. Perhaps, like all slang, you’ve got to pay attention to the context. Case in point:

Hearing this information again flashes me back about nine years to one of my very few experiences cold-asking someone out on a date. I asked a barista out for coffee and she declined, having already made plans to go to an Incubus concert that weekend. Realizing now that I had possibly propositioned and been turned down for sex certainly changes the flavor of that interchange. In my defense, she was sending mixed signals by being a barista.

Perhaps it’s not entirely about the coffee, but more about opening that door to extend (or start) the evening. If there’s anything we learned from the Land Shark, you’ve just got to have the right line (everyone loves candy!). Perhaps if your date is on the fence about you, you’ll sell them on the coffee. “Would you join me for a cup of coffee?” certainly beats a number of alternatives:

Holy hell, they totally went there.

Being a married man now, I’m forced to re-evaluate the role of going out for coffee in my life. What kind of signals am I sending when I join a friend for a casual cup of coffee? Are others whispering behind my back about my coffee shop promiscuity? Am I being honest with my wife about going out for coffee and what role should it play in our relationship? Before you ask, no, I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore, but I will say that if you don’t have an honest coffee talk with your spouse, your feelings may surface in inappropriate ways.

Yeah, I’m sure he’ll get some at the plant. Perhaps the plant has a “desk sergeant” as well. Ugh. Men are such dogs. Actually, if I’m going to cite advertisements as proof, I should point out that coffee also apparently turns women into dangerous vengeful maniacs. Par for the course I suppose.

Was it good for you?

May 1, 2011

So this, this, and definitely this got me thinking…

Joe Wilson shouting.

"You lie!" Congressman Joe Wilson shouts in wild, sexual, extacy.

I’ve been baited into a more political exchanges in the last few months than I’d care to remember…two actually. Whether my arguments were intellectual, personal, political, oreven irrational, the heart of it was always the same thing. I wanted to win. I wanted to be right. Rooted in the theory of consumerism as an extension of our primal hunting instinct which has no modern outlet (thank you Jane Lane), I’m entertaining the idea that our often insatiable appetite for moral justification is merely uncontrollable, misplaced sexual aggression. I mean, really, what feels better than being right? What outside of sexual climax could possibly compare to achieving intellectual checkmate?

Nothing.

In that sense, what better manifestation of primal, passionate argumentative energy exists than democratic politics? This begins with electoral primary; elaborate, awkward, and boring foreplay. The real action, starts with campaigns which revel in protracted, competitive, contemptuous orgies of arguments, promises, and allegations. Unlike religious arguments (which always end in stalemate) political arguments have the advantage of inevitably leading to the ultimate “justifcatious coitus” of electoral victory.

Politics isn’t just sex. It’s GREAT sex.

Democrat Barck Obama (L) and Republican

That's it boys. Don't be shy.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course there’s genuine sincerity in there somewhere and many (most, I believe) candidates are essentially good people. In the heat of the moment, though, honest communication doesn’t ignite the passion. News networks don’t want pillow talk, especially when there are hundreds of thousands out there tuning in for hardcore political pornography. At the particularly kinky fringe, there’s always wild conspiracy theories to satisfy those with..*ahem*…unique interests and desires. In whatever form, the masses want to see action. If you’re going to win that election, you’ve got to be a tiger in the proverbial sack.

Of course, when it’s all over and the post election cigarette (inauguration) is burned down, we’re left lying in this intimate relationship with someone we barely know that will likely screw us a few times and make an abrupt unceremonious exit.

Hopefully we had a good four years.

I warned you. I said that once we stopped eating animals it was a slippery slope. Next thing you know plants would start getting all high and mighty. Well, it’s happened, and now there’s a tree on Facebook.

No, really. There’s a damned tree on Facebook.

a tree with a face, from Lord of the Rings

What you can't see is the Macbook Pro he's typing on.

Yes friends, trees have officially entered the social networking (oh, it’s on Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube too) circle. We’re not talking a fan page or a tree group. This eighty-six year old tree is posting and tweeting like a boss. Scientists in Brussels have rigged up a tree with environmental sensors, a microphone, a camera, and a digital camcorder, giving us human folk a chance to expand our ecological horizons and find out what trees “think.” It’s a cool and playful idea, and certainly pretty impressive for an eighty-six year old plant with no prior technology experience (or central nervous system, for that matter). Of course, you’ve got to think of the flip side: while this may be a landmark accomplishment for a tree, what does it mean for human beings?

Facebook: So easy, a tree—an entity with no functioning brain—can do it.

Ok, ok. So the tree isn’t actually doing anything besides rocking its inherent tree-ness. It’s technically the computers attached to the tree doing all the work, and we certainly aren’t talking critical thinking here. We’re talking straight data aggregated into readable information, devoid of purpose or substance. It’s not like the tree is generating wisdom or even knowledge, for that matter. That’s all okay, provided we’re still talking about trees.

Facebook: Have all the depth of a tree.

But we’re not, and if Facebook were a gauge for sentience, there’s little separating the plant and animal kingdoms. Sure, the tree has generally better grammar and spelling than its human friends, but they also say “to err is human.” Beyond that, the tree has proven to be our equal in the ability to post inane drivel in a public forum. In an honest assessment of the depth of our Facebook correspondence we’re slightly above seagulls (by using of multi-word phrases), but a smidgen below The Sims. It’s harsh, but at least Sims creatively express aspirations.

tree facebook status and comments

My favorite reply would probably have to be: "i love horses."

As we see above, every time the tree updates its status, it receives dozens of replies (and hundreds of “likes,” whatever that means). One can draw one of two possible conclusions here, both of which are concerning for very different reasons: 1) people actually believe they are talking to a sentient tree or 2) people want others to see they’re talking to a tree. I assume if they had something important to say, they’d send the tree a message instead of posting on its wall. Of course this would violate Web 2.0 rule #7: why say something privately, when you can say it very, very, publicly?

Facebook: It’s all about you. Your “friends” may as well be plants.

I’m not sure how to assess the quality of online social interaction, and I’m not sure it can be done in any meaningful way. I’m fairly convinced that the answer would be meaningless anyways. I’m only asking you, dear readers, to take an honest look at your online correspondence and ask yourselves in what way(s), if any, have you shown more depth than a tree?

Reality: Separate the folks from the trees.

I came across Lake Superior State University’s 2010 List of Banished Words not too long ago. It intrigued me, since I had no idea there was a such thing as Lake Superior State University. The annual list itself largely consists of words that have either been overused to the point of meaninglessness (friend as a verb, stimulus, transparency) and words that never should have been used in the first place (bromance, sexting, chillaxin). Predictably, the vast majority of the grammatical rape can largely be attributed to teenagers, politicians, and social media.

While I love geek humor as much as the next guy (who happens to be a geek humorist), there’s the issue of more vital words that are actually going the way of the dodo. After being playfully teased yesterday by a student employee regarding my “tiny” 8oz. coffee, I rhetorically threw out whether she knew the meaning of temperance. After receiving a baffled look and a simple “no,” I extended the question to the other student employees, garnering the following responses:

“Is that smaller than 12oz?”

“I’ll ask my friend, she’s a barista.”

“Is that a type of Chinese food?”

Of course, after sharing the definition, I got another response:

“Ah, it’s that thing we never use.”

In a futile attempt to re-integrate temperance into society, I’d like to propose that the 8oz. “short” size at Starbucks be renamed “temepered.” It probably wouldn’t fly, but not because people don’t know what it means; no one seems to know what Vente (“twenty”) means either. It just doesn’t have a ring to it. “Restraint” is a bit more familiar, but it isn’t as much a quantifier as it is a modifier. A “restraint latte” sounds low-fat and “latte with restraint” just sounds like decaf.

Yes, I realize I should be concerned that the millennial generation literally does not know the meaning of temperance. Believe me, I am. The thing is, I don’t need the verbal section of the SAT to prove that. The gross over-abundance of social diarrhea on Facebook and Twitter feeds effectively demonstrates that self restraint is being bred out of our species. The real lesson is that words are not “banished” through any definite action, but are simply left behind.

A list of those words, for various reasons, wouldn’t be very funny though.

I still occasionally mine material from my old blog, and I wish I’d caught this one in June. Two years ago, I reported on Igor Panarin‘s prediction that America would split like Captain Planet in June 2010. While Panarin may have nailed the economic disaster part, the great division was not meant to be. Man, just when I thought things were going to get interesting around here. I was really hoping to be part of Canada by now.

Anyways, here’s the original post from December 30, 2008:

I’ve been saying it for a while now, and it turns out that Igor Panarin, a respected Russian academic, agrees with my prediction that the United States will economically collapse and split into separate countries in the next few years. Granted, his vision includes a more specific date (by June 2010), a few less states than mine did (Panarin predicts four states, I predict at least six), and his alignment of the states is a bit different than I imagined (“The Californian Republic?” Oh please. Northwesterners will join Canada before they sign on with the California/China crazy train), the result is essentially the same. War and/or invasion will not do us in, it will be an economic collapse.

Keep in mind that this is the same guy who predicted the fall of the Soviet Union 15 years before it happened. As much as I’d like to snuggle closer to my prediction, this guy is a former KGB analyst and dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats, while I have a master’s degree in music history. I’d better start practicing ordering coffee in Mandarin Chinese.

Then again, if the U.S. decides to go ahead with my “treat the legislative branch of the government like jury duty” plan, we might just be saved. I’m eagerly awaitng the day when I have to say, “Aw, I’d like to go on vacation next summer, but I just got summoned for Congress. I might be available in two to four years.”

“They do say debt is an asset.”

After a chat with some folks a few days ago, the conversation ended with the new version of “goodbye” which is “lets keep in touch, are you on Facebook?”

Feeling adventurous, I [rep]lied, “no.”

Facebook/Narcissism

I liked the graphic, despite it not being particularly clever.

My comment was returned with a look so horrified I thought I’d accidentally said “sorry, I’ll be dead tomorrow.” This, of course, got me thinking: is the self-obsessive collaborative web nothing more than a form of collective death-denial?

We’ve grown to identify Web 2.0 as the “collaborative web,” but what are we really collaborating on, but a war against self-denial, or more bluntly, death? Perhaps if we all clump together as much banal, utterly useless data about ourselves, we’ll be too big for death to swallow. The antithesis of self-obsession is essentially self-denial, and what is death but the ultimate form of self-denial? If we don’t accept death, one day we’ll perhaps evolve into pure energy composed of tweets, pokes, and emoticons.

Gizmo Duck

You know, I was going to include an image of Scrooge McDuck swimming in a pool of money as a metaphor for our decadent hoarding of information, but Gizmoduck is just so much cooler.

The Information Age has shown some disturbing trends as of late, notably, an almost obsessive fear of deletion. More and more online web features stress the ready availability of the past to the point that it may as well be the present. Twitter feeds keep a running log of all of our past “present status,” Gmail encourages users to archive as an alternative to deletion, and the internet wayback machine obsessively archives pages, thus serving as an electronic version of its namesake. We have the space, why not just save everything?

I’ve heard the arguments for security, posterity, historical record, and all the like, but I’m not convinced. According to my own Scrooge McDuck Theory of History, no matter how much we obsessively hoard and accumulate data, we’ll only be later obsessed with what we couldn’t, wouldn’t, or didn’t save. Douglas Coupland made the argument that the over-informed age has made spirituality and philosophy concerns of the past. I’m expecting this next generation to have a serious case of death-denial.

It sounds morbid, but should there be a Facebook status for “deceased?”

You go ahead, Webby dear. We quad-zillionaires have our own ideas of fun.”
-Scrooge McDuck

Enjoy this absolutely brilliant compilation of infomercial clips which demonstrate how human beings have neither the common sense nor coordination to handle most day to day tasks. I never realized how difficult tasks such as painting, cutting, dressing oneself, walking, and eating could be. It’s a miracle we’ve survived this long as a species. Anyways, things I learned from this montage:

  • Children cannot feed themselves. Adults don’t fare much better.
  • Cutting tomatoes is difficult. Cutting wood is tricky. Cutting onions is heart wrenching.
  • Do not show cleavage in a restaurant or your date will condescendingly chide you.
  • Saran wrap can pretty much ruin your life.
  • Successfully preparing and eating a hamburger pretty much takes an act of God.
  • Dogs are helpless, smell horrible, and cause you to shoot yourself in the face with a hose.
  • Paint is about as uncontrollable as the weather.
  • Maintaining your home is difficult, yet destroying it is remarkably easy.
  • Three things not worth the trouble: shoes, irons, and hair.
  • Whose stupid idea was it to eat eggs in the first place?
  • Baking seems to strongly correlate with depression.
  • Gravity is a harsh mistress.
  • Tupperware procreates in enclosed spaces.
  • Soda: the best way to absolutely terrify your family.
  • If you can’t find your money in your pockets, purse, or wallet, it’s probably escaped under the door.
  • There may be a product you can buy to make your cat stop hating you.

Oh, and was anyone else wondering about the guy getting ready to expose himself at the dinner table?

Any idiot can face a crisis, it’s day to day living the wears you out.
-Anton Chekov