Brand Names Insult My Intelligence

I do not purchase clothing that prominently displays a brand name.  (On the other hand, I’d be tempted to wear an “I love Halliburton” t-shirt for the shock value.  But that’s another post…)  I am not a walking billboard and I am not stupid enough to pay for the privilege of becoming one.

Unfortunately, most people are not as wise as I am and I usually must remain silent about their mindless attire.

I’m not presumptuous enough to tell you that clothing should be art.  Since I’m less than wealthy, I see little point in plunking down over $100.00 for a designer shirt that will be shredded within a year or two.  (Those luxury goods aren’t always designed to last.  Rich people often care more about the latest fashions and they can afford to replace things more regularly.  In their minds, a shirt from 2012 has already gone out of style and belongs in the dumpster.)

Instead, I want my clothing to cover all of the necessary body parts and remain intact long enough to keep my bank account from crashing.   (Gender appropriateness is also important.)  Therefore: clearance racks!

And you thought this would be an advertisement for Wal-Mart…

This works for me because I’m a guy.  By contrast, women often like to accessorize with pretty things.  For example, a non-utilitarian purse.  They treat it like clothing and it has to match the outfit, so they often end up owning many purses.

I’ll leave the “battle of the sexes” content to the bloggers who do it better.  I’m more interested in the idiotic, and one particular design type stands out.  It’s the standard “look how special I am because I can afford an expensive brand” variety:

This demonstrates the owner's aesthetic excellence.  (Photo credit: )

This demonstrates the owner’s sense of aesthetic superiority. (Photo credit: prettycatty)

Let’s review.  You’re carrying around a container that holds cash, cards, and expensive electronics.  Why are you advertising to potential thieves that the contents might be especially valuable?  Of all the purses at the football game (note the obligatory transgression of gender stereotypes), yours now stands out as the most desirable to steal.  Brilliant!

Of course, your bag’s probably fake.  Just like you.

Funny how things work out…

Innocence Insults My Intelligence

The wonderful folks at WordPress who host this blog published a most interesting writing prompt today:

Daily Prompt: Pour Some Sugar on Me

What is your favorite sweet thing to eat? Bread pudding? Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies? A smooth and creamy piece of cheesecake? Tell us all about the anticipation and delight of eating your favorite dessert. Not into sweets? Tell us all about your weakness for that certain salty snack.

Really?  Am I the only one who is having a hard time NOT reading this as an invitation to write pornography?

Valentine’s Fundraising Insults My Intelligence

I’ve written about my wealthy Alma Mater’s brilliant fundraising techniques twice before (here and here), but yesterday’s attempt at moneygrabbing takes the cake.  Here’s the email I received.  I’m sure it will warm your heart as much as it did mine:

Subject: Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is a day for letting others know how much we care about them.  Why not show current students and faculty how much you care about their success through a gift to the University Development Fund.  The University Development Fund supports student and faculty research, scholarships, libraries, and much more.

You can share your love for the university by ensuring it has the resources it needs to continue on its path to excellence.  Make a gift today, we promise it’s better than flowers!

There’s so much wrong with this that I feel the need to just start listing punchlines:

1- If we’re talking Valentine’s Day and showing my love for 18-22 year olds, I can do that.  As a result, you may receive dollars from us in about 19 years if we forget to use a condom.  Since I couldn’t do that when I was a TA, I might not mind making up for lost time.

2- I have no interest in showing the faculty how much I love them in a Valentine’s-inspired way.

3- Why didn’t I think of that?  What woman wouldn’t prefer a donation made in her name as opposed to flowers?  How romantic!  (However, if you know a woman who would prefer a donation to a much less fabulously wealthy organization that does charity work instead, I might like her phone number.  🙂 )

4- The university is on a path to excellence?  Since students are going so far into debt to attend there, I would hope that the university is already providing them with excellence.  If you provided me with something less than excellence, it doesn’t make me love you.

5- I know you’re a research university, but shouldn’t teaching resources figure somewhere in what the Development Fund supports?  Sorry, but the libraries don’t quite count.

6- When I was a student, much was made of Valentine’s Day being V-Day, meaning Vagina Day.  I realize that “Vagina Monologues” performances make a substantial contribution to funding important charities that serve women, but you don’t need to keep the genital-themed discussion going by acting like a [CENSORED].  It’s all in bad taste.

7- I remember how much you spent on landscaping and I wonder how many students could have graduated debt-free if you had gone for a simpler aesthetic.  I can’t imagine how much of the Development Fund goes towards plants.  But then again, university officials would likely cite that old poem:  “Elsewhere I think I’ll never see a school as lovely as a tree.”  I support that environmental sentiment in theory, but in practice your tree looks more like this:

Created by n-rg.  The original is at http://n-rg.deviantart.com/art/Money-Tree-74891232

Created by n-rg. The original is at http://n-rg.deviantart.com/art/Money-Tree-74891232

8- Is it really such a good idea to ask for money on the same day so many people are giving such expensive gifts?  However, I might be able to contribute if you’ll accept leftover chocolate.  The grocery store is having a sale.

“Goethe” Insults My Intelligence

Everybody loves Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, right?  No?  You’re saying your English teachers thought nothing worthwhile has been written outside of the U.S. and Britain since the ancient Greeks?

That’s a shame, but it’s not uncommon.

Of course, this explains why Goethe’s name inspires so many asinine mispronunciations.  I understand that foreign names can be difficult for folks whose life experience has rarely taken them beyond the English language, but you have to wonder if some people need glasses or a brain transplant.  With that in mind, let’s look at some common errors involving our friendly German literary giant:

Girtha:  Do you see an “R” in Goethe?  Of course not.    Girtha is more like “Bertha’s hips have a lot of girtha.”  I’m not trying to be sexist; Goethe’s hips lacked girtha:

Statue of Goethe in Leipzig, showing his not-so-girthy figure.  (Photo credit: Sebastian Niedlich)

Statue of Goethe in Leipzig, showing his not-so-girthaic figure. (Photo credit: Sebastian Niedlich)

Go eathy:  I’ll go eathy on you too, Mr. Lisp.

Geetha: This sounds like a female geezer.  Goethe may have been a geezer at some point, but female is kind of a stretch.

And if he were Thai, Goethe’s name would be spelled as เกอเธ่.  I could forgive an English speaker for not pronouncing that correctly.

Here’s the correct pronunciation:

Yeah, I know that wasn’t fair; you have to pronounce an ö to get the name right.  Fortunately, no one is policing my blog… unless Vladimir Putin is angry about that gay-themed rainbow image I did of him over the weekend.

Blogger’s Note: If you’re lucky, I’ll be able to field comments on this post.  If I’m lucky, I still have electricity right now.  Goethe is not so lucky because he’s dead.

Ethnocentrism Insults My Intelligence

Ah yes, the Olympics have arrived and the Russians have been celebrating… except gays and lesbians and guest workers and thirsty people and anyone who wishes to use a restroom with exactly one toilet in it.

That list goes on longer, I know, but I’m not here to rehash commentary that has appeared in a million places during the past few days.  Instead, I’d like to talk about our friend, Vladimir Putin.

The original is Putin’s official photo, courtesy of http://www.kremlin.ru . They grant permission to modify the image, but I doubt that this is what they had in mind. If i disappear tomorrow, no, I was not planning to take an exciting and sudden vacation in Siberia.

The original is Putin’s official photo, courtesy of http://www.kremlin.ru . They grant permission to modify the image, but I doubt that they had this in mind. If I suddenly disappear tomorrow, that “exciting” vacation in Siberia was not undertaken by choice.

As you can probably tell, I intend to discuss the outrage people are expressing over his statements and policies on homosexuals and homosexuality.  Many are claiming that the whole issue has given Putin a black eye and destroyed his ambitions for showcasing Russia’s greatness during the Games.

Granted, Putin deserves a black eye, but I wonder if he doesn’t come out ahead in all of this.

Hear me out.

It’s easy to forget that the LGBT issue is only controversial in certain countries.  He’s in line with the economically and politically critical Arab countries (and Iran) as well as numerous African countries and India, among others.  He was already on the outs with many Western European countries and the U.S.

Need evidence of those preexisting rocky relationships?  Let’s chat Ukraine.

To me, the whole controversy benefits Putin; he’s driving  a cultural wedge between us and more restrictive nations that will place him on the side of the countries whose friendship he wishes to maintain in the midst of his exploits in the Caucasus (and other places).  There’s more to geopolitics than the U.S. and Europe…

Of course, that makes him relatively immune to contrary arguments.  His LGBT policy, in such a scenario, amounts to little more than the political calculations of a shrewd tactician.

And the protesters are dancing and singing Kumbaya (and some are competing) and asserting that they’re changing the world because their message is getting out.  And in doing so, they forget one of the central Olympic tenets, namely that the Games represent a meeting of all nations and cultures.  That includes the many countries that impose a death penalty on homosexual activity.

Nevertheless, the protesters have managed to raise awareness of the issue among Americans who were already aware of the issue.  For that, the world owes them a profound debt of gratitude.

Bad Background Images Insult My Intelligence

I’ve spent enough time online to see some horrific blog designs.  Some are a matter of personal taste, which I have no intention of criticizing openly.  However, a few folks obviously have no clue what they are doing.

They’re morons.

In the spirit of enlightening you in the ways of me, I would like to point out some common errors and show you some easy methods for developing better backgrounds.  All images in this post were modified using free and simple photo editing software and I just played with all the nifty little buttons without knowing what they are.  You’ll find no evidence of Photoshop or other costly applications here.  (I’m unemployed, remember?)  Caveat: I do still have a scanner from my grad school days.

Also, you don’t have to like these images; I only focused on technique and some of the creations here are quite loud.  I wouldn’t use all of them myself but then again lots of good images aren’t an appropriate match for some individuals.

If you want “Matchmaking for Blog Dummies,” you’ll need to go somewhere else.  I don’t do romance here.

That said, let’s cut the preliminaries and dive in with four basic rules.

1- Your original photo should have a high resolution. Subjecting images to technological torture often causes them to bleed their detail away, leaving them as limp as a corpse.

2- When detail bleeds away, colors often go with it.  Your photographs or scanned images should normally contain at least as many colors as you’ll want in the final product.  It’s usually harder to add colors to an image than eliminate them.

3- Similarly, it’s easier to reduce the file size of a high-definition picture than it is to make the image more robust.  If only dieting worked that way…

4- Don’t forget to crop your images; if it doesn’t end up appearing on the screen, you don’t need it.  A smaller image takes less time for people to download.  Your visitors will thank you for it by sticking around until your page finishes loading… unless your writing scares them away sooner.

And now the joy of pointing out people’s stupidity.  Item one: people often confuse their original image with what ends up appearing on their blog.  I like my candelabra image over on the top right, but it’s pretty easy to make an awful background out of it.  For instance, tiling the image can give us this:

Slide1Easy to read, right?  That’s why I have these big box-like things on my blog to shield the text.  However, that doesn’t eliminate all of the problems in the example above.  Let’s look at something a little wiser:

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