Tag Archives: Useless

Greta is our Hero

Note: I wrote this a week ago and with my ever present procrastination it sat around in Google Docs doing absolutely nothing. I even thought about scrapping it. But yesterday I found a news story saying that the main motivation for this writing, Greta Thunberg, was actually nearby! She was in Iowa which is notable in and of itself. Iowa isn’t exactly where you’d expect to find someone with worldwide fame to be at outside of presidential candidates during Primary Season. Coincidentally, I was in Iowa last weekend when I was bitching about hotels. I’m well experienced with the absolute nothing that is in Iowa: they have corn and that’s about it. I also can’t shit on Iowa too much because I myself live in Illinois, another state that can easily be described with the singular word that is “corn.” (And Chicago I suppose.) So the stars aligned and Greta was only a few hundred miles away from where I am now and stupidly close to where I was last weekend. Let’s publish this shit and get it over with while I naively think the Universe is sending me signals.

This post is clearly breaking with tradition by not featuring something “that sucks” but if anything what does suck is our inability to actually change the world as individuals. I wrote an early post about that here if you want to check it out. Instead of dwelling on the negativity of our helplessness I want to take a more positive approach. Crazy, right?

Greta Thunberg is yada yada and I’m sure you’ve heard about it all on either mainstream news stations, social media, our your drunken, second-amendment-obsessed right-winger uncle. And I’m sure you already have your opinions of her depending on what you’re brainwashed to believe: she’s either a personal hero (raises hand) or a total fucking villain, something something deepstate/liberal propaganda puppet. I don’t like giving an overview of people like this because it’s tedious and boring; anything or anyone I write about is probably popular enough that you already know who they are. So yeah, Greta. You already know her.

But hey, didn’t you say you weren’t going to write anything political anymore? Yeah, you’re right actually, and that hasn’t changed. What you might not realize is that climate change isn’t political at all. It’s established scientific fact, kinda like the theory of general relativity, quantum mechanics, and electromagnetism are (and surprisingly aren’t politicized). Climate change is such sound science that I’m not going to dick around with proving it to you guys: it’s like trying to explain that the sky is actually blue. I’m not going to prove shit because it’s already been proven. The idea that climate science is a political topic is just some bullshit wizardry invented by those that have a personal interest in the public’s ignorance on the topic.

Why Greta is so beloved/hated is due to how outspoken she is in regards to climate change. She is also a young female which also attracts the ire of detractors. She isn’t wrong though: the climate is a finely tuned and immensely complex machine that has developed over literally millions of years. Humans destabilizing the machine within a few hundred years leaves ecosystems with nowhere near enough time to change and adapt and it’s this upcoming collapse of ecosystems that is the real issue with climate change. As much as people like to think they’re separate from nature we are as much a part of it as any other lifeforms on earth. We’re hopelessly dependent upon the very ecosystems were destabilizing. Greta is pissed about all of this because people have been fucking up the planet for decades well aware of the problem at hand and have done jack to prevent any of it. She’s basically been telling world leaders to get their fucking shit together because we don’t have much room for error going forward.

I think Greta speaks for all of us too: why can’t people in charge get their shit together? Why are companies allowed to pollute and pump endless amounts of CO₂ into the air? Why doesn’t somebody do something?! Note how we always gripe about someone or somebody else. Here’s where I slightly disagree with what Greta is saying: we are the people that need to be doing something! You and I are the problem, and asking or demanding someone else like companies/governments to do something is slightly missing the point. The only problem here is that us, as individuals, feel utterly powerless to do anything to prevent climate change. While we actually hold all the power, we don’t know how to wield it.

Companies don’t pollute for the hell of it because that would go against simple economics. Everyone acts in their own self-interests, corporations as well as us consumers, and this is what drives the world’s mostly capitalist economies. It isn’t a perfect system but it seems to be the economic system that works the best. Us as consumers want good products for cheap and companies provide those products to us to earn the most customers/money. Consider the electric companies: they don’t burn coal for the hell of burning coal, they burn coal because it is the cheapest form of fuel they can find and if they find anything cheaper they’ll switch to that. The problem isn’t companies blatantly polluting, the problem is they have no incentive to do otherwise because us consumers demand their products.

The reason none of us alter our daily activities and habits is because we all feel powerless. If I was the head of a giant corporation I know I could take drastic measures to combat climate change. The same is true if I was a politician. But I’m neither of those things and am just some random guy in Illinois. What can I do to stop climate change? And why would I want to change anything if it will be utterly futile? This is why we want the government or corporations to do something; we can’t do a damn thing because we feel powerless as individuals.

We can stop climate change dead in its tracks if we collectively got our shit together as individuals. We are the problem, but by being the problem we are also the solution.

And back to Greta. Greta is our hero because she can unite us usually helpless feeling individuals and give us direction. I really think humans by our very nature require leaders. Left alone we kinda zip off in our own directions and wander around with misdirected motivation. I think of bugs or moths around a light a night: each of us while wanting to do something is zipping around lost, confused, misguided and undirected. If only we had someone to give a voice to those who feel they have no voice and to give us all a direction to move towards. Someone to inspire us.

Greta also contributes to meme magic.

And that’s what I think Greta’s main power is. We all like her sticking it to world leaders and corporations but they only do what their constituents/consumers want. They’re only working as they should in a capitalist economy. (Maybe that is the problem? There is no incentive to work in a carbon neutral way because there is no economic incentive to do so. I think a carbon tax might be a good idea, although I’m no expert.) But with Greta sticking it to the world leaders, she gets us all on the same page. She gets people passionate about climate change and has us asking What can we do to help stop climate change? I know I’ve been asking myself that same question over and over the past week and I can only imagine that other people are doing the same thing I am, possibly by the millions. We’re not alone and she reminds us of that.

Phone Books Suck? What Are Those??

Say phone book a bunch of times and it really does seem like an unused word from the distant past.

Phonebook

This right here is a phone book. You might be too young to know what a phone book is. Along with landline telephones, dial-up internet, cassette players, CD players, CRT TVs, and dinosaurs, phone books became obsolete a few million years ago due to technological innovation. In the case of phone books it’s because of this certain thing you might’ve heard of called the internet. You see the internet is a place where computers and servers are connected and shit and this let’s you get information about anything you want. You want to order pizza? Internet. You want to watch porn? The internet excels at that. You want to have in-depth discussions involving people who share the same hobbies that you do? Internet. Want to read someone’s shitty blog? Internet. Book a vacation? Internet? Go to college? Internet. How about having lively political debates on Facebook that change people’s minds and improves the world? Nope. The internet can’t do that. Sorry.

I found this relic near the mailbox one day. It’s still there too. I might go out and take some more pictures but it’ll probably just sit on the curb and rot in a few months. It’ll serve as a lovely greenhouse for growing various molds in the spring and summer once it gets some water damage. Currently it’s covered by a layer of snow, buried under a glacier like it’s friend and kin the Woolly Mammoth. Sorry phone book, but you’re useless.

There it is

There it is! Along with some asshole’s Mt. Dew that they couldn’t possibly toss in a goddamn trash can. I hate people.

Before the internet there were books, big thick books, that had shit printed in them. They had maps and a bunch of phone numbers. The white pages were — you guessed it — white

White

The white pages. Don’t call anyone.

and had people’s home phone numbers printed. You could seriously look up the last name of a girl you had a crush on, guess which address was hers, and mail her creepy letters, call her randomly, and even stalk her if you wanted. Another section of the book called the yellow pages (which were strangely blue…) had businesses arranged by what they did. If you needed to find someone to put a roof on your house you’d look under “roofing” and there would be a list of roofers. You could advertise your company and get a big gaudy ad that would make you more likely to be called. As a kid I thought lawyers, realtors, and car salesman always had the dumbest, gaudiest, and most obnoxious ads of all. Luckily that remains true to this day on TV with car salesman screaming NO MONEY DOWN NO INTEREST UNTIL 2020 IF YOU BUY A LEASED CHEVROLET SOCCER-MOM-WAGON-TANK TOOODAAAYYY. ACT NOWWWW. It’s like one of those old wrestling or monster truck commercials you’d hear on rock radio stations. Damn.

I’d also like to point out that I took these pictures from a phone book we had lying around the house because I couldn’t be bothered to carry the curbside one back to the house. It was still in its plastic bag. We’ve had it since May of 2016. The thing sat around for two years under some junk without being used or opened. At all.

May 2016

The internet killed phone books off but like all organisms they’re trying their best to evolve under new natural selection pressure. They’ve gotten smaller and thinner, and the ink used doesn’t seem as colorful. Only the shittiest ads are now printed from the sleaziest lawyers and others who don’t realize that the internet is actually where people look for services if they’re under 90 years old. See this chump right here?Lawyer Somehow he thinks he’s going to get business from his face being on the back of a phonebook. The only people that will see him are garbage men and recycling people but seeing as he’s an “injury lawyer” maybe that’s what he’s going for. Are they more susceptible to being injured than others? No one else will see him unless they are cleaning some random drawer in living room a few years from now when they clean shit out of it. Also on the front cover is a company advertising digital advertising. On a phone book. I don’t even know what to think about that. There sure is some dissonance going on.

It’s kind of sad to think about phone books even if they are as useful now as a triangular car tire, but they really were a thing. They were Google before Google existed. It’s even sadder to think that companies are still trying to be profitable with them. Why? Let them die off like the dodo, they’re not coming back barring a meltdown of society. Someone cuts trees down, turns them into paper, and prints them onto useless books. It’s almost like credit card offers where junk is sent to your house without you asking for it. It seems like such a waste for (I’m assuming) little benefit. It’s hard to say that phone books sucks because they’re more pathetic than anything. They are like a soon to be extinct animal that just couldn’t make it in the new world. They’re not mean or malicious. They’re just sad and pitiful.

And then I stop personifying or animalifying them or whatever and realize they’re damn phone books. Quit dropping them off at my house. I’m going to let it sit and rot and I’m never going to use it. Phone books Suck.

(It was after writing all of this that I noticed this little thing on the cover: you can opt out of receiving the damn things! You know what I’m going to do right now…)

20180306_125328

FREEDOM

Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers Suck

I walk to the mailbox, eager to get something even though nothing useful or good ever shows up in the mail. Well, sometimes Amazon boxes show up in the post but I know about those items in advance and expect them. You get “useful” stuff in the mail — stuff that isn’t really “wanted” but that has a purpose. These items are bills, statements, and maybe the occasional vehicle registration renewal notice or whatever. No one wants to get a bill, but you know you’re going to get them and paying them makes you feel like a successful and capable adult. But outside of those things there’s also a bunch of shit that shows up at your house that has no purpose at all except to convince you to buy something. I can excuse the weekly advertisements and coupons because, well, maybe you can use them. The might have some sort of benefit to the consumer even though 99% of the time they’re fucking garbage. The bane of junk-mail, the worst of the worst, and the stupidest shit I ever received in the mail are pre-approved credit card offers. They fucking Suck, and here’s why.

They’re Wasteful

I hate waste and pointlessness. For example, I hate paying bills with paper envelopes, stamps, and checks. It just isn’t efficient. Why involve yourself with envelopes, paper statements, stamps, pens, checks, and the physical mail when you can hit a few buttons on a smartphone and pay instantaneously over the internet? Even if you aren’t worried about the environmental aspects of manually printing and shipping paper, it still sounds better by being more efficient and direct. The same is true for these credit card offers. Why the fuck do these companies think randomly sending shit unwanted to people’s houses is the most efficient way to do things? It has to make sense from a profit perspective (because they still do it, so they must make money) but from an efficiency standpoint? Come on….

A credit card company has to pay to chop down trees, cut up and process the trees into paper pulp (and whatever the fuck else goes into making paper), make the paper, print the paper, make the envelopes, pay for the postage and the return postage, as well as having a database of people to actually mail them to. They have to pay for every step of this as part of the built-in costs, and while they themselves don’t make the paper or whatever, someone has to. Imagine a tree being cut down in the forest and knowing that the tree is going to be sent to houses in the form of credit card offers. It sounds so damn stupid. With all of the shit you could do with a tree you’re going to make credit card offers that end up in the trash? I’m not saying paper is useless but mailing garbage to people? Jeez.

They’re Rude

Most people don’t like salesmen showing up at their houses, and most people have some mundane story about dodging Jehovah’s Witnesses during some point in their lives. The point here is that people don’t like to be bothered or solicited. We hate when the guy outside the gas station tries to sell us shit, or when people come door to door to sell us siding or security systems. When you walk into a store and a worker asks if you need help, you say “No, I’m just looking.” because you don’t need some asshole trying to sell you shit and hovering around you the entire store. If you’re like me you probably think something like “If I wanted [insert product or service here] I’d go shop for it myself.” I don’t need people to try to solicit products to me or to “let me know the benefits of [insert product here].” I’m a fucking adult and I know what the hell I need without a company telling me that I need their product. It just seems rude and pushy, and I don’t see how that tactic really works anyways. At the very least it’s obvious: they’re trying to sell you something so they can make money.

Extend this outlook to these credit card offers! My mailbox is my mailbox and I’d like to get useful shit in the mail, and preferably shit that I actually asked for (like a bill for a service I used). I’m not asking to get credit card offers, and by them sending them to me without me asking I’m less likely to actually get the stupid card because it’s annoying. Does this tactic actually work on people? As stated before, it has to be cost-effective to some degree otherwise they wouldn’t do it. But really? Do people really get a credit offer in the mail and think “Oh yeah, I needed a credit card, I sure am glad this showed up!” Use the damn internet. Shop around. Find the card that isn’t begging for you to accept its offer. Find a good deal with decent perks you can exploit. Do you buy the first car the salesman tries to sell you? Do you buy car insurance from the company whose commercial you see first? So, why the hell would you ever accept a pre-approved card that randomly shows up in the mail one day?

They’re Useless

Okay, let’s say you don’t reply to every single offer you receive. That’s cool. But let’s also say you don’t want to throw them out. Is there another way to use the paper you get, like how you can use paper towel tubes to wrap Christmas Holiday lights around or how those deli meat containers can be used as plastic bowls to store leftovers in? Probably not.

Sometimes I pick out the return envelopes and save them because you can use them for mailing stuff. But the thing is I really don’t have a huge need for envelopes and an economy pack of 100 from Walgreens is cheap and lasts me about 5 years. There isn’t a need for “free envelopes” really. Is there anything else you can do with these offers?

They’re paper so could you make lined paper out of them? No. Not in a cost effective and non-time consuming way at least. How about toilet paper? Fucking no, you don’t want to wipe your ass with those. About the only thing you could ever do with them beside tossing them in the trash/recycling them is to use them for starting bonfires or a grill. They’re junk to the highest definition of the term: useless, unimportant, and unvaluable crap that no one can use.

Oh, maybe shred them up and use them for composting? *shrug*

A Way Out

Is there a way out from those dreaded credit offers? Is there a way escape the junk besides perpetually adding them to the garbage or starting fires? Well, surprisingly there is a way out. I’ll give you three ideas that you might want to try when you get the next card offer in the mail.

Option One: Send the shit back

I don’t know how these things actually work, but I know the credit card companies have to pay for the shipping costs somehow. As you might know, pre-paid cards usually come complete with a “paid postage” return envelope, as I’m expecting people are more likely to accept an offer if they don’t have to find their own precious stamp and plop it on the envelope. The way I see it, you could just take all the shit they mailed you and mail it right back to them! It’s no cost to you and you get some sort of “revenge” on them I guess. I don’t know what the company will think when you send them all their trash back, but you’d expect they’d have to realize how much of a waste it is at the very least. Maybe you’d just piss off some poor person who works there, I don’t know. This would also support post office jobs, which we all know are having a rough time with the internet and email.

Option Two: Opt Out

Yeah, somehow you can opt out of getting these offers! I don’t think people really know about it, and I didn’t when I first whined on Facebook about these offers years ago, but you really can. Here, here’s the link. If you don’t want to wage passive-aggressive warfare on multi-billion dollar companies in some quixotic struggle, simply fill out the form and don’t worry about the offers for a few years. Yes, it really does work, it’s like the fabled “do not call list” that telemarketers have.

Option Three: Do Nothing

You could also just keep doing the same damn thing you always do and throw the offers away when you get them and not ever try to change anything about your life you fucking sheep.

So, pre-approved credit offers are shit because they’re wasteful, rude, have no other possible use, and are simply annoying as hell to get. Especially if they’re somehow disguised so they don’t look like credit card offers at first. You can opt out of these offers if you’d like, so there is an escape from the hell of receiving them. And Capital One, if you’re reading this, fuck off.

Changing the World Sucks: You Can’t

I was browsing Facebook like I always do when I’m trying to be somewhat productive, and I stumbled upon someone’s comment about climate change. This guy basically stated that it is our lifestyle that causes climate change–our personal day to day lifestyles–and through our heavy use of things that require fossil fuels why would we expect society to change? Climate change, to that asshat, isn’t a problem that should be tackled by government or anything with actual power because fundamentally it’s a personal lifestyle problem.

I immediately became pissed off over this and thought about all the things I am trying to do to personally lower my carbon footprint. I ride my bike to work, I bought a little 2-cycle engine for my other bike, I drive a small car, and I try to use e85 fuel to lower my dependence on oil. From having a manual reel mower to using LEDs to plotting about installing rooftop solar panels I am doing everything realistically I can to help change the world in the sphere of my own life and that of my family. And if everyone did this, the climate problem would fix itself.

Obviously, he was right about our lifestyles causing it. Us Americans love our SUVs, our commuting lifestyle, our electricity, and our hamburgers (cows fart out an amazing amount of methane), so why the hell was I pissed at Random Facebook Guy if he was correct? Because of what I wrote three sentences ago: if everyone changed their lives a little the problem would be solved. But guess what? No one actually changes their lifestyles and a large portion of people don’t really give a damn about the climate as long as they get a pay raise every year and don’t have to shovel snow as much. The key to it being solved isn’t necessarily me, it’s other people, people who I have an infinitesimal influence over.

We live in a hugely connected world where ideas from across the globe can reach us and influence us. Thanks to the internet, natural boundaries which once limited human collaboration and the sharing of ideas are nearly gone, and even foreign languages can be translated instantly so even that isn’t a barrier as much as it was. This sounds great for the possibility of world change,the possibility that one person can make a difference through the use of technology. It doesn’t work that way though. Humanity is big. Really big. There are about 7 billion 7.5 billion people in the world. Billion doesn’t even properly reference how big of a number that actually is. But there’s 7.5 of those billion out there in the form of people, and you’re just one of them. 1/7,500,000,000. Or 0.0000000001333 of the total human race.

Why the fuck would I think I can have any effect on climate change, or anything for that matter when effectively I am zero of the total human population? I can’t even figure out how to pester the city to put bike lanes along a few major roads, but somehow I can change the world? Sure bro. Sure.

That’s why I’m pissed and that’s why changing the world through this “live the life you want others to live” shit doesn’t work. I can have a zero carbon footprint on the planet without sacrificing any real comforts (yes, I know my phone and solar panels need to be manufactured but how the fuck does that compare with gasoline in cars and coal fueled power plants?) and this makes zero difference because there’s another 300 million Americans, and 7.5 billion other people on the planet, that can and will make my contribution null. I can be as awesome as sourcing all water from the rain and all electricity from the sun but a few fuckers in their SUVs can ruin any of my progress in a few hours (if that). And guess what? They don’t give two fucks about it and I can’t change that.

So even though we like to think we can be that “big change” we like to see in society, we really can’t be. There’s simply too many other people in the world that can fuck up your plans in a way that they don’t even have to try. The key here is influence, and a single person carries almost no influence and ability to change a thing. You might get lucky and become the next Zuckerberg where people will listen to you, but probably not. And if that’s not the beginnings of a dream-killing train of thought, I don’t know what is.