Sunday, December 28, 2008

Job-Hunting Strategies In The New Economy

Since losing my staff-writer job last April, I’ve lost count of how many job applications I’ve sent out and how many job-hunting agencies I’ve registered with. The old “send out your resume and clip file along with a carefully crafted cover letter and hope an offer springs from that” tactic clearly isn’t working for me. But I think I’ve figured out a more productive strategy, which I discuss in today’s column:
The other night I tried selling my soul to Satan in exchange for a secure, fulfilling job offering a decent salary and opportunities for advancement (yes, America, that is what it takes nowadays).
I also tried to get the attention of any readers who might belong to Board of Directors of large, wealthy companies looking to hire a CEO:
Most corporate executives who trash their companies charge hundreds of millions of dollars each year for their services. I’m willing to trash your company for a mere half-million, plus health and dental.

This enormous salary differential could shore up your stock value. Preserve hundreds of jobs. Or fund your next round of executive bonuses and corporate retreats in Maui.
So check out my latest column in the Bristol Press, Middletown Press or New Britain Herald! Unless you’re a titan of industry thinking about hiring me, in which case you should check out these columns after you send me an e-mail containing a lucrative job offer.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas On The Net

“I was sad about not having any shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” Considering how many shoes I own, that maxim doesn’t really apply to me. But this one does: “I was sad about having to spend Christmas Eve disinstalling an annoying malware program from my computer, until I checked my blog stats and discovered there are people who spent their Christmas day doing Google searches for things like ‘octopus Japanese porn’ and ‘you porn tentacle.’ Even worse, instead of finding pictures of hot squid-on-chick action, these poor lonely souls were directed to one of my old blog posts instead.”

Anyway, I hope you had a Merry Christmas. Unless you’re the jackass who wrote that malware program, in which case I hope your tentacle shrivels up and falls off.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays (this time for real)

If my snarky holiday column explaining the inherent insultingness of the phrase "Happy Holidays" isn't to your taste, perhaps you'd prefer my boyfriend's annual holiday story instead. (Disclaimer: any resemblance between me and the character of Sadie is purely coincidental. So he says.) Whichever holiday you do or don't celebrate this time of year, I hope you have a good one.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to finish wrapping these gifts. I love to buy gifts, and I love to give them, but dear God how I hate wrapping the damn things.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays, Jackasses

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love, according to a certain Christmas carol that shall remain nameless because it is a liar but I’m feeling too mellow to play nasty j’accuse games these days, what with the holiday and all.

Truth is, it’s that time of year when the world gets annoyed, no matter what you say. “Merry Christmas” offends those who don’t celebrate that particular holiday, “Happy Holidays” offends those who do, and ignoring the matter altogether offends people who think you’re a Jehovah’s Witness.

That’s why, for this year’s holiday column I didn’t even try being polite:
Happy Holidays! If you’re naïve, you read that and thought, “How nice. The writer’s expressing a goodwill message to all of her readers who celebrate various religious or secular winter-themed festivals this time of year.”

Which is ridiculous. When you see “Happy holidays” in December, the sane and savvy default interpretation is, “That’s a deliberate slap in the face of every good American who celebrates Christmas.”
I also offer suggestions on how my Jewish compatriots can make their holiday more popular with the masses:
The problem with Hanukkah is that the whole “eight days of lamplight” thing stopped being impressive once humanity discovered electricity. Nobody cares about lamp oil anymore. The holiday would hold more appeal for modern Americans if it switched focus so that a day’s worth of gasoline lasted over a week. And the menorahs and dreidels could be decked out with festive strings of colored light bulbs shaped like little gas stations.
Bet I could make a fortune in marketing if I weren’t burdened by a soul.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Of Shooting Galleries And Gun-Free Zones

You know those amusement-park shooting galleries where you use an air rifle to knock down multiple rows of moving mechanical ducks? The way they work is, you shoot at the targets all you want, and none of the targets can shoot back.

Most schools and workplaces operate on the same principle.
To read the rest of this week’s column (about gun-free zones), kindly visit the Bristol Press, New Britain Herald or Middletown Press.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Click It Or Ticket (Guilty Until Proven Innocent Edition)

Living in a prosperous state like Connecticut makes me envious of states with smaller tax bases and less money to inflict services on their citizens. One service that’s especially popular here is police checkpoints: checkpoints to make sure you’re not drinking, checkpoints to ensure your seatbelt is fastened, checkpoints to make sure your papers are in order, checkpoints to make sure your jacket’s zipped all the way up to your chin. No, wait, that last one won’t come about for another couple of years yet.

A couple years ago, I read a story – I think on CNN – about the ten regions of America with the worst traffic conditions. The Danbury/Bridgeport/Fairfield triangle in southwestern Connecticut made the list; this didn’t surprise me one bit, since I worked there at the time and dealt with miserable traffic every day. Naturally, local officials gave several concerned speeches about how it’s just terrible, the way Nutmeg State commuters have to waste time and money and gasoline sitting in traffic, so we, your elected and appointed officials, are by-God going to Do Something about it.

And Do Something they did: as I drove to work less than a week later, I had to spend 20 minutes idling because the police in their infinite wisdom decided to close the road and hold a “seatbelt checkpoint” during the morning rush hour.

We’ve had more checkpoints than usual this past month, thanks to the national “Click it or Ticket” campaign. So my column in this week’s Bristol Press, Middletown Press and New Britain Herald expresses sympathy for my former junior high school civics teacher, who’s had to write all-new lesson plans because the old ones he used to teach us about things like probable cause are entirely obsolete: he can no longer brag that in America, unless the cops have a good reason to suspect you’re up to something they have to leave you alone.

Jesus. Who would’ve thought I’d ever have reason to miss being in seventh grade?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Speculations On The Secret Jewish Emperor Of The World

Ever since Obama’s election, I’ve amused myself by occasionally lurking at white supremacist forums and watching the posters go gaga with furious fear over the coming “Obamanation.” (Note to white readers with equally white fiancées: hurry up and get married before inauguration day, when Obama will make miscegenation mandatory as part of his master plan to pollute and destroy America’s remaining European bloodlines.)

I’ve always thought of racism as an evolutionary hangover, first cousin to the monster-under-the-bed fears that plague small children; for most of humanity’s hundred thousand years on earth, a toddler’s world really did contain hungry predators looking to eat him. And people who looked noticeably different from you really were to be feared (along with anyone else not in your tribe).

So if the racism found on sites like Stormfront boiled down to a mere “My race is better than your race” or “I’d rather not hang out with those people,” I wouldn’t be surprised. But what they’ve got isn’t just a vestigial dislike of the Different; there’s also a paranoid certainty that everything bad that ever happens in the world is due to a secret conspiracy of Jews. With less than one-half of one percent of the world population, they’ve managed to secretly control all the military, monetary and media power in the world for an indeterminate number of centuries.

The forums are vague on the details of just how this works; a secret Jewish emperor hidden in a bunker at the center of the earth? Special radios that broadcast world-domination plans on a secret Jews-only frequency? (However they do it, it must’ve been a lot harder before the advent of modern technology.) And the sad thing is, I’m not even exaggerating all that much.

The Stormfronters’ unyielding belief in Jewish James Bond-Supervillain Powers pretty much blows out of the water my “modern American racism is just another evolutionary hangover” theory. “I dislike them because they’re The Other” would be simple reversion to humanity’s historical norm, but not “I dislike them because they’re part of the secret all-powerful conspiracy responsible for everything bad in my life.”

So I wonder: are there any modern American racist groups that stick to the simple evolutionary dislike of The Other? Such racism can certainly be found elsewhere in the world; the Japanese are notorious in their dislike of foreigners, but don’t dress us up in conspiratorial Illuminati trimmings. Are there any – for lack of a better term – “straightforward evolutionary racist” groups in the United States? And if evolutionary racism still lies at the heart of Protocols of the Elders of Zion variety, why is it, in America at least, so irreversibly intertwined with paranoid conspiracy rants?
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