Sunday, January 31, 2016

Which Way Books #22: The Champ of TV Wrestling

Exploring an avarice fantasy via the always reliable Twist-a-Plot vehicle apparently left such a bad impression that several months have passed without any of my very good and necessary reviews of something that couldn't be more culturally irrelevant. Fortunately I'm coming back with a good one: Pro Rasslin'! Break down the cockpit doors, Barbara and Scott Siegel! *snort* ASSUME THE CONTROLS. Put this sucker into the nosedive of lazy sarcasm and pretentious elitism toward something intended for eighties children. And right before the crash you'll realize you're not far from PARTS UNKNOWN. And by that, of course, I mean let's get to the page flipping.

And hey, this is a high number Which Way release, so certainly the story-telling and writing quality will have evolved considerably and the creators certainly won't be farming things out to talent poor husband-wife teams. Major spoiler: wrong. 

Before I started owning factories you could find my sexy body dominating in the squared circle.

In fine Which Way tradition I'm galvanized into action and adventure by an issue with the old moron box. At least this time the reception is good, but there's another issue, arguably far worse. The world's worst human being, Carl the Colossus has acquired the ten pounds of gold through nefarious means and is now all up on my tube, calling the fans idiots and bashing the local sports team or whatever. I decide to dedicate my life to overthrowing the usurped reign of this vile rule-breaker.

Yeah, that's the story. I'm an adult who thinks the spandex ballet is real and honestly believe it's my duty as a good citizen to defeat the baddie with the belt. How, you're probably wondering, does this book think one would accomplish this ridiculous modern version of Don Quixote quest? The answer is nothing short of amazing: jogging, jumping rope, swimming and practicing my holds (i.e. putting my puny little brother in "sleepers" and "scorpion deathlocks"). Yes, friends, this is how you do it. No acting classes, no practicing doing the moves in a cooperative fashion in a wrestling school, no needle drugs, just jog a little. Don't even run fast, it's fine.

I got this physique by doing some light cardio and eating vegetables.

After this rigorous preparation for the Testosterone Soap Opera I'll probably have to start small, right? Well, no, it's right in front of 20,000 "marks" to prove my skills in a legitimate, real fight against either future business magnate and kinky lover Vampire Vic or 500 pound Awesome Al. Yes, the new guy even gets to pick his opponent. Man, this whole "TV Wrestling" thing is the easiest, best job in the world.

Not wishing to be battered with floggers and forced to scream out the safe word in the throes of ecstasy that's described with terrible prose by the blood-drinking industrialist I instead opt to take on the quarter-tonner. Honestly, this is America, is five bills really even all that unusual? I guess hyper-obesity was more of a novelty in 1986. Still, considering this guys awful physique and terrible gimmick (I've got an alliterative name!) one would think the fresh face would get the push from good old booker man.

Wrestled after "Interview" and before "Twilight," jobbed to everyone.

My "this guy will break his own ankles or have a cardiac event just from moving around while my excellent light exercise conditioning will carry me to victory" expectation proves to be overly optimistic when A.A. proves surprisingly athletic, dodging my lame amateur wrestling shot attempt. Next thing I know I'm eating a "knee drop." You'd think having that much weight collapsing on your spinal column would quickly spell the end, but I'm not even hurt and quickly bust out some UFC submission holds on this guy, things like poking my chin into the guys shoulder, creating crippling mild discomfort. Got you now, sucker!

At this point Al starts whispering instructions, which in reality would have been going on the entire "match," but in this book's universe kayfabe is alive and well. He wants me to lose on purpose, or in other words put on a professional, excuse me, TV, wrestling match. Oddly enough he insists the need for this cooperation is to catch a criminal in the arena, rather than saying "Hey dumbass, this is supposed to be fake, stop making me look bad and do the j-o-b." 

I'll do some skip rope and then defeat Hulk Hogan in a real fight.

I decide to "smarten up" and go along with the show, probably at least somewhat embarrassed that I was so gullible. Next he'll tell me the champion doesn't really care about local sports and is just calling us poorly educated sharecroppers so we'll buy tickets to see him get comeuppance. Everything was a lie, next those Santa truthers will wreck that. Of course, we all know wrestling is entirely above board, so my corpulent rival promptly "shoots" on me by flinging me into orbit. Yes. At least the book treats this as lighthearted fun and doesn't describe how I literally explode and die a horrific and meaningless high altitude death just because I noticed the two hate-filled enemies in the ring seem to be cooperating with each other to do the moves.

It's still real to me.

One would think the wacky world of "sports entertainment" would lend itself to some goofy fun, but the end result was disappointing. The clear contempt for the subject matter (TV Wrestling? You can't call it by its real name?) and the reader shines through, as if the writers thought they were too good for the topic, but hey, there's money to be made. I'd call this a lost opportunity, insofar as failing to adequately depict "to be the man, you've got to beat the man" fantasies qualify for "That could've been something incredible! If only!"

Got angry at bad guy politicans, did some jogging, jump rope and real estate business.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.    

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

News You Can't Use: Many NYC Students So Tech-Oriented They Can’t Even Sign Their Own Names

As a connoisseur of all forms of societal collapse and general intellectual entropy almost every day is a glorious banquet, even when I'm not reading one of those "that daw gawn worst generation" stories. Luckily, today I have that profound pleasure and it turns out Generation Nothing has trouble making the old John Hancock, certainly bad news in today's high tech and fast moving economy where they'll be expected to sign welfare checks and lists of personal effects while being processed by prisons. The good news, if you're into delusional optimism, is they're all about "tech." The bad news is the "tech" in question mainly involves genital photography and launching ball-shaped cartoon birds, not the good kind that fills those factories depicted in political advertisements.

Many Big Apple students, including the children of several state lawmakers, can’t even sign their own names, it was revealed at an educational budget hearing in Albany today.  

How well they performed on "finding rear end with both hands" and "emptying a boot full of water with instructions written on the heel" remains unknown but probably isn't good news either.

“Not only is it sad, but it’s a security issue,” said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-SI/Brooklyn).

Security issue for sure. Not sure how, but it's impossible to make anyone care about quality of life or "our kids are morons" issues without appealing to the grim specter of deadly violence that we have such a bizarre national love/hate relationship with. Still, I can imagine the scene in a Tom Clancy thriller. "You've got to sign your name for the launch codes to activate, President Jayden!" "I don't know how, I was raised by friendly tablets."

Malliotakis said the penmanship problem was brought to her attention while helping one of her constituents fill out a voter registration form. He printed his name, and when she told him to actually sign it, he insisted that was his signature.

The democratic tradition, where we believe the most profoundly ignorant members of society have the magical ability to select the best leaders.

Even the 11-year-old daughter of veteran Harlem legislator Herman “Denny” Farrell doesn’t know how to sign her name.

Really? Of "Denny Farrell???" It just got real, mang.

“They don’t teach it. I’m going to go home now and teach her handwriting.”

It's time we have an important talk about the birds, the bees and script.

“Can you imagine?” Malliotakis told The Post. “Not only does it mean you can’t sign a business contract, but it makes you vulnerable to identity theft because anyone can just go ahead and print your name.”

Because everyone prints exactly the same but cursive is as unique as your genetic code.

Here, have some free college.

Elia said she would look into the issue.

Action will be taken, you can bank on that! *Goes into office and drinks for six hours*

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.    

Sunday, January 24, 2016

News You Can't Use: Robots Could Soon Read Your Mind

It's very important that we somehow gain access to those sweet cranial electrical storms for the purpose of selling you products and not otherwise specified evil. In the past it wasn't easy and we had to rely on sharpened rocks and the like to get at the old head mush. The end result was barely worth the effort. Fortunately you and I are living in the best moment in all of human history (tomorrow will be even better!) and the technology for stamping out day dreaming, gaining easier thought crime convictions and selling, selling, selling based on frontal lobe invasion is near at hand.  And it's going to be robots! The future! I can barely believe it, honest.

Robots could soon be able to read your mind - and we won't be able to stop them because there are no laws against it, experts claim.

If only there were laws, that would stop it. Just like how they wiped out marijuana abuse and jaywalking. Please, elected officials, pass more laws and save us from the mind-reader bots. If you don't we'll be stuck with having to try to constantly think "Down with Big Robot!" as a pathetic and impotent final act of defiance.

If expert predictions come true, by 2030 smartphones, tablets and computers will be able to examine our brain activity to see what we are thinking.

Nice to see the "Flying car by 1965!" brigade hasn't lost any of their optimism for a high tech nightmare world.

Initially this will be used for security as a kind of 'pass thought' - the user thinks of a specific song or thought which the device recognises and then unlocks itself.

Hold on, let me concentrate on this highly detailed sexual/violence fantasy that unlocks my device so I can play some Angry Birds go to Brazil.

But a panel at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, warned of the terrifying possibility of hackers reading people's innermost thoughts.

Have you even considered the horrors this will unleash? Horrors like poorly written and completely unengaging "dystopia" novels about this possibility. Can we still love and chase nihilistic individuality in a world with hackers reading our thoughts? Find out next year in the artistically important new release "Summer of 1987."

"It turns out every person thinks quite differently about the same thing.

Your pathetic human minds full of stupidity and worthless non-collectivism. Prepare to be absorbed.

"So you could think like a song or a little ditty in your head while you are wearing a consumer based EEG device and then that, which has a unique neural signature, can be used as your pass code.

I guess you could just type in a word or whatever, but come on, future! Put these electrodes on, dawg.

"It turns out that's an incredibly effective, incredibly safe and almost impossible to replicate pass code, so there is discussion about using pass thoughts."

No one else could ever correctly visual the music video for "Last Christmas." No way.

She added: "Then you've got to really think about privacy."

Thinking about my love of privacy is my new pass thought.

But she warned once out there, "not good Samaritans" could access the data. 

I am aware of reality, at least in a highly abstract fashion.

One of these in every house.

"The idea that law is going to help us is not likely." 

There's some refreshing cynicism.

"There are no legal protections from having your mind involuntarily read," she added.

I'm pretty sure the Witchcraft and Devilry Act of 1691 covers at least some of that territory, actually.

Robot teaching assistants were also predicted at during the panel discussion.

Just when you thought that Geology 103: Rocks for Jocks lab session couldn't be any more half-assed.

"So I am imagining a world where we all have a bunch of cognitive assistants helping us."

We used to call them "family and friends" but let's get with the times.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.    

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

News You Can't Use: Penn State Asks Students to Report Microaggressions to Administrators

With college football over and the good part of college roundball still weeks away it's a bit of a struggle to come up with relevant things to say about the old cult-marxist debt factory. Sure, we had those demonstrations that could basically be summarized as "everything that's ever happened, ever, is wrong, offensive and needs to be 1984ed out of existence" but it appears that collapsed under its own vile nihilism, leaving only the microaggression. A microaggression, for the uninitiated, is any ordinary occurrence that fails to acknowledge my unbelievable worth as nature's greatest miracle. In other words, it's what we used to call "real life." Hopefully this can be swept aside by this new war on reality.

At Pennsylvania State University, no hurt feeling is too small, no slight too inconsequential, no unintentionally biased statement too unimportant. 

I guess it makes since to focus on such minor issues, what with the spotless record this fine institution has when it comes to, say, not covering up years of appalling crimes.

The public university is in the midst of a massive campaign that encourages students not only to watch what they say, lest they offend someone, but also to report any and all biased statements to campus officials.

This sort of East Germany in 1980 behavior is key to promoting a free and open society and allowing for a mature exchange of ideas. Snitching and witch-hunting is the bedrock of high quality academic rigor.

“There is no place for hate, overt or subtle, at Penn State – such actions do not represent our mutually held values,” Eric Barron, president of Penn State, stated in a recent message to the campus community. 

We're going to completely stamp out unkind glances and sucking air through your teeth, if everything must burn to achieve this.

As a part of the campaign, the university is using posters and magnets to emphasize its Report Bias system set up under the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity.

Fudging magnets, how do they work? I have no idea because my school is more concerned about teaching me to turn in my classmates.

More than 1,000 images of a stop sign in the form of posters and magnets have been distributed at Penn State.

If you're wondering why that tuition keeps going up, consider the need to appropriate funds to play inquisitor in the court of the clown king.

Lisa Powers, director of Penn State’s strategic communications office, said in an email to The College Fix that an act of intolerance includes microaggressions.

My spellchecker says that's not a word and for once I completely agree.

“An act of intolerance can be identified as any forms of microaggressions, verbal assaults, and/or racial subjugation,” Powers said.

Enslaving entire people groups and whispering something in my presence are now morally equivalent.

Powers said the bias reporting acts as a catharsis of sorts for students, acknowledging the public university has no right to hinder students’ First Amendment rights. 

The university system, proudly masturbating your emotions for several large a year.

“The First Amendment doesn’t just apply to those who express ideas with which we agree. It also applies to those whose ideas we may find challenging, repugnant or even appalling. By providing an outlet for individuals to report bias they have seen or experienced, we are giving them an equal right to express their thoughts and feelings on the matter.”

Paying off that massive loan and having no job skills is also challenging, repugnant and even appalling.

Full Story. 

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.   

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fiction Fargment: Final Idea

There was a flash of light and the soothing blue was suddenly there, banishing the darkness. “Look at that! I told you it would work. You mad, bro?” The victory cry was full of youthful energy that was still in the early beginnings of being ground down by the steady attrition of Father Time and Mother Bad Decisions.

“Right. Congratulations. Maybe some museum will want that thing, because it sure as Hell ain’t worth shit to us.” Here was the final destination to the erosion of enthusiasm, the voice of wisdom and experience that says “no” to just about everything and ends up being right far too fucking often.

“Yeah, you mad.” A broad smile spread across chiseled features that fell short of renaissance humanism’s perfection of man but were still worthy of admiration, a credible effort sculpted by a talented amateur. His pale blue eyes gazed into the screen of much deeper blue with a sudden and surprising intensity, impaling the ancient television, searing through it. “I’ll find a use for it, just you watch. You’re just jealous of my mad ‘rounging skills, that’s all.”
“There’s a real future in picking through garbage. That’s for sure.” The older man rose from the badly battered couch with some difficulty, pressing withered hands into the walls for stability, joints worn to the nub by empty pursuits loudly protesting this new verticality. Pain competed with annoyance beneath a camouflage of gray stubble and deep wrinkles. The Herculean struggle completed he let his arms fall to his sides where they dangled uselessly, like dead animals hanging in the window of a butcher’s shop. “I already sent the petition to the National Television Insurance while you were out. We’ll get a replacement in a few days and there won’t be room for that damn artifact.” Glassy gray eyes scanned from one side the apartment to the other. It was little more than a glorified corridor and even he could walk from one end to the other in a few heartbeats.  
“You’re a damn artifact Ellerby, but I still haven’t tossed your goofy old ass.” The younger man muttered the reply without breaking the willful gaze into the electronic equivalent of existential oblivion. “Not that they’d let me.”
The two men had been assigned to a term of five years together in their last “Fair and Dignified Housing” lottery. As members of Unprotected Class A they had done about as well in the blind draw as could be reasonably hoped for, although neither man would ever admit that.  
“You keep playing with that thing. See what it gets you. Foolishness.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

News You Can't Use: Chair Alerts Company How Long Employees Sit

If you're a nine to five desk jockey, or "sucker" if you prefer, you're probably used to enduring a certain amount of East Germany-style totalitarianism in the name of making your company slightly less of an unprofitable tax right-off until it is moved to Bora Bora. What you're probably not used to is having a nice sit ruined by pressure plates inserted in the old slave chair, but luckily that's about to change through the miracle of technology. The days of leaning and slouching costing The Corporation billions of dollars in lost work hours are officially over.

Office workers probably assume their boss can peek in on their corporate emails. But knowing — exactly — how long they've been sitting down on the job?

Read my mail, give me a pay cut because I posted a picture on an online narcissism site holding booze, make me wear a little red cap as a constant reminder of the pathetic submission that will be demanded, sure. But what about my chair rights? See you later, that's what.

That's the purpose of the "connected caster," an innocent-looking, weight-sensitive wheel that can be affixed to the bottom of an office chair.

Looks innocent, has been created to destroy any remaining vestiges of your personal autonomy. On the bright side it sounds like installation will only require several days and several hundred "It's still on wrong. Does anyone know how to work this thing?"

Detroit-based Tome Inc. worked on the product with  office furniture designer Humanscale — which makes a line of desks for standing up and working at.

The portion of Detroit that isn't currently on fire or under the rule of warlords sure is innovative and industrious.

Humanscale Founder and CEO, Robert King, says, "OfficeIQ is in line with our focus on
solutions that are inherently simple and easy to use, yet have a real impact on wellness in
the workplace. It can generate cost savings and help employers see real returns on their investments in developing healthier and happier places to work." 

"I've been a lot happier since they started monitoring my chair usage. Healthier, too." Single gin-scented tear slides down the side of face.

Humanscale says data on individual workers will be protected and employers receive only receive aggregated data.

Seems highly plausible.

 Better struggle to my feet so I don't get in trouble.

The company says the office software "gamifies" the experience.

It'll be like a wacky fun game! You like games, don't you? 

Individuals can receive activity scores and alerts with smart sit/stand reminders, while companies can set up teams to create "friendly" competition between departments.

Well, at least they had the common courtesy to put friendly in quotes.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.