Category Archives: Alas Babylon

Bizarro World (It’s Not Your Mother’s Fault)

For those of you unfamiliar, “Bizarro” originated in the Superman Comics and was revived on Seinfeld. Essentially, it means “polar opposite,” so there was an evil anti-Superman, an anti-Earth, and so on.

However, it may not be strictly fictional or, alternatively, I may no longer be sane.

Not long ago, I posted on social media about a woman who ordered a book, then refused to pay for it, return it, or even communicate about it. She simply took the book and didn’t pay, which is normally called theft. Yet some people castigated me for raising the issue, feeling her privacy should be protected.

Periodically, I object to senseless profanity of Facebook, and block the user. I find virulent obscenity used to express simple terms to be indicative of low intelligence and total insensitivity (outside of locker rooms and private meetings). Yet, there are always those chastising me for not being more flexible and listening to the ideas while ignoring the “innocent” expletives, or for not honoring someone’s “free speech.”

I saw two guys in business suits attempt to sneak into the United air lounge in Denver, and when turned in by someone else (not I) they became resentful and obnoxious. Some of the other guests thought that they should have been left alone.

What’s going on here? Are we a society so permissive that anything goes? It’s bad enough that ill-advised school districts have removed “top ten” lists and valedictorians in a futile endeavor to improve everyone’s self-esteem by pretending no one is performing better than anyone else, but do we now waive all the rules on civility, membership, and discourse? Apparently at Brown University we do, because it’s okay for that bastion of liberal thought to boo and harass the former Police Commissioner of New York off the stage after he was invited to speak. Free speech? Learned discourse? Not in our universities, if you please.

Society moves forward and people’s lives are improved by emphasizing the best, not the worst, and by striving for higher standards, not the lowest common denominator.

Except in Bizarro World.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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UCOs: Unidentified Calling Objects

There is some delusional guy leaving messages and using my name as a reference, who claims that his wife and parents and relatives are diplomats, circus performers, celebrities, and aliens. He also has the secret technology to save humankind. Believe me, he’s not with me and not using my name with permission.

Another guy wrote through my website that I must go visit all his sites because he is a unique and special consultant. When I mentioned that he shouldn’t write to me, he told me I had 24 hours to apologize or he’d expose me to the world. So if I turn into a pumpkin later today, you’ll know it was my own doing.

Be careful out there.

 

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Posted in Alas Babylon, Announcements | 2 Comments

Dumb-Ass Stupid Management: Welcome to the 18th Century

In 1754 the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews was founded.

In 2014, they’re voting on whether or not to admit women as members. That’s only 2.5 centuries for them to get to that, perhaps.

What world are we living in?

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Spam for Brains

A real doofus named Tom Nixon sends spam about a service I don’t remotely need. I’ve never heard of him or his company. His unsubscribe doesn’t work, and he doesn’t reveal the address he’s sending this useless stuff to.

When I ask him to stop sending it and take me off his lists, he becomes abusive, winds up telling me I’m “typical of people from the northeast,” have no friends, and can’t deal with waitstaffs! Oh. He’s got me there.

This is the gutter of the internet, when you wish you WERE talking to a dog. If this guy sends you something, just delete it, he’s too dumb to stop.

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The Oscars

The Oscars

• Ellen looked like she was doing improve at a bad club, a total bomb.

• I remember watching when I was young and looking at movie stars—Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Bette Davis. Now you see people who wouldn’t be chosen for Dancing With the Stars (Dancing With the Vaguely Familiar).

• Lara Spencer looked as though she received electric shock therapy. That’s what professional makeup and hair stylists create?

• The night’s highlight was the salute to those who had passed away. And a couple of them were alive when the show began.

• The nominees need to have a note in their gift kits reminding them that this is not the Nobel Peace Prize. (That ceremony is much shorter.)

• “Gravity” lacked gravitas.

• Who was the woman sitting on stage with her shoes next to her who couldn’t sing accompanied by the guy who couldn’t play the guitar and couldn’t sing? And he had ear plugs in both ears, which must have been playing white noise.

• Have you ever heard applause die so fast once a winner’s name was announced? It was like someone cut the sound.

• Kim Novak? Just frightening. Those cosmetic surgeons ought to be arrested.

• The Red Carpet show is like watching a grammar school play. You’re hoping it will be entertaining for the right reasons, but it turns out being entertaining for the wrong reasons.

• “Who are you wearing?” makes me cringe.

• If the Russians can successfully stage an Olympics over 20 venues, hundreds of square miles, with thousands of athletes from a hundred countries, why can’t Hollywood stage a two-hour awards ceremony that hands out awards to people already seated in close proximity?

• “The Walking Dead” wasn’t merely competition on another channel, it was livelier and held more hope for our future.

 

© Alan Weiss 2014

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I Don’t Need to Learn, I Just Need to Pass

The New York Post revealed a high school in New York allowing zero class attendance and credits for simply watching videos. The students were encouraged to write, attacking the Post for the exposé. The letters could have been written by parakeets simply walking over keyboards. Here’s the state of our “higher” education:

 

http://nypost.com/2014/02/23/students-defend-murry-bergtraum-hs-in-error-filled-letters/

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Initial This

A woman contacted me on Linkedin, told me she’s reading two of my books, tried two approaches, and they didn’t work the way she had hoped, so I should change my approaches. She also told me to remove part of my advice on finances to new consultants because she doesn’t agree with it.

She has nine initials and two commas after her name. I don’t know why she even reads my books, she apparently already knows everything, and if something doesn’t work, despite the fact it’s worked for tens of thousands of others, it’s not her fault. It’s mine.

Some people throw a welcome party for new ideas. And some people strangle them, usually with an excess of initials.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Are “Ethics Experts” Unethical?

The New York Times has a variety of “experts” providing ethics and etiquette help, all of which seems to be written by an infinite number of monkeys randomly hitting keyboards. For example, Randy Cohen was the Sunday magazine ethics columnist for a decade, and he had zero credentials for the job. He had been a writer for, I think, David Letterman. When I questioned him once for taking gratuitous shots at people in his column responses,  asking him if that constituted an ethical role-model, he told me belligerently that he was under contract to the times as a writer and had no responsibility to be a role-model or exemplar of any kind.

Oh.

Someone named Chuck Klosterman now writes the column, and among his credentials is the book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. This past week his reader questions (I am not making this up) concerned whether someone should tip the driver who delivers the luggage that was lost by the airline which then hired him to deliver it, and whether someone should post “flattering naked photos” of herself on the internet, or would that be too narcissistic?

We’re killing trees on this stuff these days, inane questions with pseudo-serious responses from people who have nor credentials in the area other than their paycheck. I raise this because it permeates a great deal of what we read and hear, and it continues the deadly admixture of news and editorial, of fact and opinion.

“Don’t believe everything you read” is morphing into “Don’t trust anything you read.” We elevate the banal to the respectable, and arbitrarily anoint the experts. I don’t know about you, but the Magic 8-Ball is looking better and better.

© Alan Weiss 2014

 

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The High Horse

This phrase originated with the horses known as “chargers” favored by knights for their size and imposing nature. Powerful people rode “high horses” (destrier in French) and their statues depicted rider and horse larger than life.

Once out of style, when people still acted aloof and better than others, they were invited to “come off their high horse.”

Some people write me with a one-word “Unsubscribe!” as if I’m their concierge. They opted into the newsletter themselves, and the “unsubscribe” link is in plain evidence. Others say, “Where is my order, I placed it two hours ago!” as if we’re Amazon. (Do they deliver that fast? Maybe the drones….)

One woman wanted her complimentary download that is offered within 48 hours of the event to be delivered now—even though the event was two weeks away. Some people read my weekly newsletters, encounter one with which they disagree, and then make a big deal of unsubscribing because they can’t read any more of them if I disagree on that issue! You’d think I had offered a recipe for puppy stew.

On Facebook, that great “selfie” publishing operation, people actually print that “It’s a sad day for America” because their pet project or personal belief was outvoted or turned down. Exactly how much hubris is required for that kind of attitude? Forget the majority, ignore the laws, I know what’s right!

And then there are the people who tell me my system is making mistakes when they are the sole person out of 25,000 on the mailing or offer who can’t open it, never ever assuming the problem may be at their end. I’vw actually opened links they claim can’t be opened on the same email they’re sending back to me!

And then there’s: “Oh, I guess I didn’t scroll down far enough.” I guess not.

Hey, come off that high horse, join the rest of us in the infantry, and get some perspective. You’re getting a nosebleed up there and, frankly, the horse doesn’t look too happy with you.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Fort Lee

I’ve spent a lot of time in Fort Lee, NJ—in my youth because of the great hot dogs at Callahan’s and Hiram’s (four generations of our families have gone there), and a movie theater and the nearby Palisades Park; and in my adulthood because of the remaining Hiram’s. I never imagined it would be a real, modern battleground, requiring a fort.

Two observations:

1. To sacrifice a potential presidential nomination and election to the highest political office on earth over a petty, vengeful gripe will haunt Chris Christie forever. But this is what happens to bullies who think they can overwhelm anyone. His shouting on the boardwalk at the shore, his belligerency with the press, are indicative of a guy who would  not use the powers of the presidency with great discretion.

2. Having said that: Why are the media spending more time on this traffic issue than the horrors of the Benghazi murders squarely caused by State Department bungling and deafness? How do you move out from the shadow of that mess? Both Hillary Clinton and Christie have been tossing people under the bus. Yet Hillary is favored by 70+% of Democrats polled this weekend.

3. If Christie is out, and Jeb Bush wins the Republican nomination (a distinct possibility), are you seriously telling me that this country will once again be voting for a Bush or a Clinton and that we don’t have anything fresher and better to offer?

© Alan Weiss 2014

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