Category: Humor

My Skype Call With Patrick

Last week, Skype announced that it would begin running advertisements during Skype calls:

"While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences," Skype's Sandhya Venkatachalam wrote on the company blog. "So, you should think of Conversation Ads as a way for Skype to generate fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about. Ultimately, we believe this will help make Skype a more engaging and useful place to have your conversations each and every day."

At press time, it was not clear whether one Skype caller would see the advertisements the other caller is seeing. Nor was it clear whether Skype will resort to more intrusive methods to serve ads, such as examination of social media activity or analysis of callers' voices and appearances.

THE SCENE: TWO OFFICES, FROM WHICH TWO BLOGGERS TALK ON SKYPE.

Patrick: Hey.

Ken: Hey.

(more…)

Is That A Mote In Your Dog's Eye?

This is a story about when stupid jokes stop getting stupid and start getting real. If you think I've used the word stupid too many times already, get used to it because I'm just getting started.

I'm not a Mitt Romney fan for all the reasons a liberal would not be a Mitt Romney fan. Accordingly, I've had a great deal of fun with the Saga of Seamus, the Romney family dog who was strapped to the roof of the car for a family trip. It has everything you want in a profoundly stupid story: it fits certain useful narratives (a robotic candidate acting soulless and the vulture capitalist who is even mean to his dog), the candidate can't respond to the story without sounding stupid (Mitt said that he wouldn't put a dog on the roof if he knew people would get upset, which is exactly the wrong answer, and just what you'd expect from a flip-flopper) and it prominently features diarrhea. For all of these reasons it has had remarkable staying power in the public imagination, via sites like Dogs Against Romney, for example, even if it rarely makes it into the mainstream media by anyone not named Gail Collins.

But, like I said, it is a really stupid story. Ann Romney finally went on the offensive, claiming that Seamus loved riding on the car roof and that he loved going on vacation with the family because it beats being in the kennel. And you know what? I've assumed that all along. A trip on a car roof is no different from a ride in the back of a pickup truck and every time I get a few miles outside of the city limits, that's what I see. And when I see a dog in a car in the city… he's sticking his head out of the window. The Seamus meme generally maintains that the dog got diarrhea because he was terrified during the ride; Ann says no, that he ate turkey off the counter and… well, that's probably too specific but I'm willing to accept that Seamus got the shits because finding the worst possible time to have gastrointenstinal difficulties is basically what dogs do. Hell, taking a long family trip in a station wagon with five kids and a dog is literally the only human behavior I've ever seen attributed to Romney.

(This whole line of attack is more like the Swift Boating of Kerry than anything else with the caveats that (a) nobody is lying about whether Seamus was on the roof whereas there is no real evidence that Kerry lied about his injuries and (b) it would have been a huge, non-stupid deal if Kerry had lied about his injuries, so basically it is like Swift Boat in that it is pure political nonsense that is impossible to respond to without having the principal effect of prolonging the story.)

Alas, every stupid story attacking one side has to have an equally stupid story in response. Today, the Daily Caller found the perfect one: on page 37 of Dreams From My Father, President Obama offhandedly noted eating dog as a child in Indonesia. If strapping a dog to your roof is bad, eating dog is worse. And, though there are obvious reasons why this is silly (he was six; he didn't choose his diet; if your culture doesn't keep dogs as pets, meat is meat (we'll get back to this one)) kudos to Jim Treacher for sussing out a great joke and really hammering it home. On his post, Treacher keeps jabbing at Obama, implying that Bo is not safe with Obama around. This led to a million jokes about Obama eating dogs on Twitter none of which bothered me. It is a stupid joke playing out the string. Obama ate dog; if we can't joke about that why bother telling jokes.

Sadly, here's where the record scratch comes and I stop sounding like someone who has a sense of humor. That I have let the word "diarrhea" do most of the heavy lifting so far, humor-wise, isn't making much of a case for me either, I admit.

It didn't take much time for the joke to get out of hand. #Obamadogrecipes was, to me, the death of the Obama-ate-a-dog joke. The brainchild of Iowahawk, the Obama Dog Recipes hashtag exploded. But, seriously, this is gross and kinda racist. Not racist against Obama but once you've hit the realm of "dog recipes" the joke isn't really about Obama anymore. It is about weird cultural practices that other people have and we don't. Substitute "Obama" with "Korean" or "Indonesian" in the hashtag and see if that doesn't make you a little uncomfortable. Even Iowahawk admitted that he was a little uncomfortable about it.

As stupid as the Seamus story is, the joke never turned into something about Mormons or even vulture capitalists. It was just a joke about a guy who hosed off a dog that was shitting itself on the roof and then stuck him back on the roof and kept driving. When Obama eating a dog jokes are about Obama, I have to admit that all is fair in politics. When the joke shifts to everyone taking an old racist standby about foreigners for a few laps around the track… ick.

Stop it. That's the entirety of my point, despite how long it took to get here. Stop it.

I can't believe this is what I came back to the blog for. I'm going to go pet my cat.

In Which News Of The Weird Leads Me To Sexist Satirical Poetry

When I heard about this story from Walter Olson and Amy Alkon:

A 34-year-old Ann Arbor man was sent to the hospital with a head injury after another man punched him on Saturday during a literary argument, according to police.

. . . I immediately thought of one of my favorite satirical poems, by Wendy Cope:

Poem Composed in Santa Barbara

The poets talk. They talk a lot.
They talk of T. S. Eliot.
One is anti. One is pro.
How hard they think! How much they know!
They're happy. A cicada sings.
We women talk of other things.

It's a good thing that there are people, otherwise there'd be nobody to laugh at.

In Which I Discover The Inexorable Tension Between Fame and Social Dysfunction Whilst In Line In Starbucks

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I was standing in line at the Starbucks in my building. A young woman was standing in line in front of me reading something on her iPhone. I do not know her, but have seen her in line before, and have exchanged minimal social pleasantries such as nodding, smiling, and refraining from brandishing weapons or showing incisors. As we stood there, the young woman started laughing. She looked back at me with that about-to-engage-me-in-human-interaction-even-though-I-am-clearly-waiting-in-line-for-my-goddam-coffee expression. I assumed my best I-really-don't-want-to-know-but-you're-going-to-tell-me-anyway-aren't-you noncommittal smile.

That's when she said "have you ever read this blog Popehat?"

I looked down at her phone, and saw that she was, in fact, browsing a familiar-looking page.

"….yes," I allowed, considering how to handle this.

"I found it by reading The Bloggess. It's great today. Do you like it?" [Note: Hyperlink not in actual verbal exchange.]

"Only some days," I replied quite truthfully.

Apparently there was something off about my affect, because she frowned. "I think the guy who writes it is a lawyer here in Los Angeles."

"Really?" I said.

"He's funny."

"Actually I hear he's kind of a dick," I said.

Now, in my defense, I was trying to work out in my head how I was going to follow that up with a big reveal. Was it going to be an I am Sparticus! type of thing, or an Abed-from-Community-doing-Batman I'm Batman type of thing, or a contrived self-deprecating type of thing? That sort of decision is not to be made lightly. But before I could decide, taken aback from my ironic self-abuse, she turned around, took a long step forward, and stopped talking to me.

I'm starting to think that even if writing ever makes me famous, my social interactions are going to continue to be strictly a one-day-at-a-time sort of thing.

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Meaning it's time for Dave Barry to look back on, and make fun of, the last year.  A sample:

September: …

In domestic news, President Obama returns from his Martha’s Vineyard getaway refreshed and ready to tackle the job he was elected by the American people to do: seek reelection. Focusing on unemployment, the president delivers a nationally televised address laying out his plan for creating jobs, which consists of traveling around the nation tirelessly delivering job-creation addresses until it’s time for another presidential getaway.

I predict that the best thing about 2012 will be that it won't be 2011.  If you've forgotten why that's good news, Dave Barry has a few reminders why.

 

Sunday In The Park With Spammers

I had a blast yesterday corresponding with a links-on-your-site spammer. It hit me: my spam folder holds hours of free entertainment.

So I sent a few responses.

No replies yet — but I'll let you know.

1. Diamonds Are Forever

Phil Lam to me

Hi,

I'd like to inquire about purchasing a simple text link – something like "Stein Diamonds – Rolex Watches" or a small banner (120×60) on your homepage on popehat.com.

We've been selling diamond jewelry and luxury watches for over 25 years and I thought our products might be a good fit for your readers.

Our budget is around $40 per year. Is this something you'd be open to?

Regards,

Phil
Stein Diamonds

Ken At Popehat to Phil

Dear Phil:

Thank you very much for your inquiry. In fact, though Popehat has not previously accepted advertising, we have begun to explore the possibility, owing to increased expenses, some financial reversals, and various bail and attorney fees connected with my co-blogger Charles. It turns out that "if there's grass on the field, play ball" is not actually a legal doctrine. Can you believe it?

Anyway, Rolex watches might be a good match. However, our brand is very important to us. I don't want to be advertising stainless steel Rolex watches, like the one my dad bought in the PX in Korea. We're only interested in advertising heavily diamond-encrusted watches, watches that could only be said to be festooned with diamonds, watches that simply scream FUCK YOU, OTHER 99%.

Can you target your advertising like that? Also, Phil, let's be real about the price. $40 per year? We have to SELL this link, Phil, and this is a link all about GLAMOR and LUXURY. How can we sell GLAMOR and LUXURY at $40 per year? I charge more than that for a tenth of an hour, Phil, and I spend most of that tenth of an hour taking notes on things about my client I can later ridicule on Twitter.

Come back to us with a serious offer, and some sort of guaranteed all-diamond-encrusted-watches-advertising structure, and we'll talk.

Thanks,

Ken
www.popehat.com

P.R. No, seriously. Really diamond-encrusted. I want to have to squint to see the hour hand through all that shit.

2. Hope and Change

Mark to me

Hello, hope business is good ?

I phoned you a short time ago on the topic of Effective search engine optimization with regards to your online site.

Is it possible we could arrange a Seo placement discussion through e-mail at all with one of our consultants?

If you're not dealing with the Web optimization for your online business internet site might you please forward to the someone who does at all?

You could also send an email direct if there is inquiries you wish me to answer direct on the phone or can get in touch via our internet site also.

http://www.eseoconsultancy.com

Tel: (+44) 07538 4083 89

Hope to hear from you soon

Thanks

Mark

[Lengthy opt-out section omitted]

Ken At Popehat to Mark

show details 11:12 AM (2 hours ago)

Dear Mark,

Thank you for the inquiry. Unfortunately, the hope business is not particularly good right now, certainly not as good as it was several years ago.

I am sorry that I missed the telephone call referenced in your email, and am impressed that you are so interested in helping us that you spent money on an overseas call. I suspect that my secretary took the call and then failed to give me the message. She is slowly but inexorably attempting to drive me quite mad.

I am delighted to hear that there are professionals able to assist me in regard to my online business internet site.

Our internet site is, indeed, online. Is it a business site? I think that it is. Our business is snark. Snark and free speech commentary. Our two businesses are . . . you know, never mind.

I would be interested in determining whether you can use Effective Seo Web optimization to make us the the most popular and powerful snark site on the entire online internet. However, there are many Seo Web optimizationizers out there. We will only go with one that not only improves our search engine rankings, but dramatically degrades the rankings of other sites that purport to be in the snark business. As Gore Vidal says, Mark, it is not enough that I succeed, others must fail.

Also, we are in the business of ridiculing spammers. Can you make us the most well-known and highly-traveled spam-ridiculing site on the online internet? I think that would be a synergistic win-win for us both, Mark.

Very truly yours,

Ken
www.popehat.com

3. One For The Road

Scott Todd to me

show details Aug 22

Hi,
I'd like to inquire about purchasing a text link that says something
like "Los Angeles DUI Lawyer" or "dmv-dui-attorney.com – Los Angeles
DUI Attorney" on popehat.com somewhere on your homepage for our site
dmv-dui-attorney.com . We're a law firm specializing in DUI Defense
and serving the greater Los Angeles area. Our budget is around $40/yr.
Is this something you'd be open to?

Regards,

Scott
Aspen Law

Ken At Popehat to Scott

Dear Scott:

Sorry to take so long to respond to you. I had an unfortunate misunderstanding with representatives of the government. You know how that goes.

Scott, your offer is very exciting to me. We write about attorney marketing — particularly innovative blog-comment-synergies — and I'm thrilled to see that all our hard word is finally bearing fruit.

I've reviewed your web site, Scott, and I see that "professional" is the first word you use to describe your firm. I can see that professionalism, Scott, in your decision to send out spam offering $40 to complete strangers running eclectic humor and snark blogs to put text links promoting your site. Only professional attorneys are so precise.

One question: could we alter the link to make it clear that you represent people under the influence of all sorts of substances and things, not just alcohol? Because I'm a criminal defense attorney too, and one of the most heartbreaking things about the practice is the way that the driving-under-the-influence-of-alcohol attorneys ignore and reject clients who are wrongfully arrested for driving under the influence of cold medication, ketamine, the Isley Brothers, auditory hallucinations, and/or the later works of Howard Zinn. Because those defendants are people too, Scott, no matter what the stuffy drove-after-four-Scotches crowd says. I don't mean to be rude, but I saw a graphic of a glass of what appears to be single-malt Scotch on your site. So: bottom line, can we change the link to say "Los Angeles Driving Under the Influence of Nearly Anything At All Attorney"? That's much more inclusive.

Also, we'll be needing much more money. I mean, lawyer, please.

Thanks,

Ken
www.popehat.com

4. You Like Me! You Really, Really Like Me!

Dear Law Professional,

It is an honor to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion in:

Sutton Who's Who in American Law (2011/2012 Edition)

The 2010/2011 edition of the registry will include biographies of North America's most accomplished Law Professionals. Recognition of this kind is an honor shared each year by our members from across the United States and Canada, and is often considered to be the single highest mark of achievement.

Upon confirmation of your inclusion, you will be listed alongside other professionals of equal standing in the Sutton Who's Who Registry. There is no cost to be included.

If you are interested in being a part of our national publication click here or on the button below and take thirty seconds to fill out your basic application.

click

If you have any questions call our staff at 877-936-4577. Or please view our site for additional information.

Sincerely,
Diane Franklin
Senior Managing Director
245 Park Ave
New York, NY 10167
Sutton Who's Who
Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Featured members
Stanley H. Kaplan – Founder of Stanley Kaplan Test Preparation Centers
Herbert T. Hoover – Univ. of South Dakota/Professor of History

Ken At Popehat to editor

show details 11:30 AM (2 hours ago)

Dear Ms. Franklin,

I am thrilled too learn that even though I blog semi-anonymously as "Ken at Popehat," my legal analysis is considered meaningful enough that I am being considered for inclusion in Sutton's eminent volume.

I know that recommendations for such honors are often confidential — law is such a cutthroat business, after all — but I rather wish I could know which legal essay I have penned led to Sutton considering me for inclusion in its prestigious work. Was it by any chance my ground-breaking work on the use of the epithet "ho" in legal writing? http://www.popehat.com/2007/09/07/rerun-in-re-ho/

The prospect of being included amongst lawyers for whom mention in Sutton's is "considered to be the single highest mark of achievement" is daunting, to be sure. But I confess I am a little confused by the promise that I will be "listed alongside other professionals of equal standing." I have a few follow-up questions:

1. Does Sutton rank lawyers by standing and then have separate sections of the volume depending on their standing? Because I don't want to be in the same section as, say, Scott Greenfield.

2. When you say "of equal standing," are you segregating lawyers identified from their real names and lawyers who blog semi-anonymously like me? I don't want to be in some sort of semi-anonymous-blogger ghetto in the appendices. On the other hand, I don't want to be in the same section as people whose names are not merely semi-anonymous, but entirely invented, like Publius or Mark Bennett.

I look forward to your response.

Very truly yours,

Ken
www.popehat.com

Just As Well. I'm Pretty Sure I'm Allergic To Ponies Anyway.

Recently we've been getting more and more emails asking to advertise here on Popehat. Some of these offers strike me as somewhat suspicious. Usually I delete them. Tonight, inspired by the Bloggess, I decided to try engaging them in a mutually productive dialogue instead.

The following is a verbatim transcript of the emails.

Hello:
I'm Cindy.We’re intrested in your website, So I want to buy text links from you if you can provide this function,Now I want to know how to buy it and how about the price of the links.Where the link will be appear, only homepage or all pages?
Looking forward to working with you and waiting for your E-mail. Thanks!

Regards
Cindy!

Ken At Popehat to Cindy

We will sell text links. The price is ONE. MILLION. DOLLARS. Or a hundred bucks on Patrick's posts.

Cindy Li to me

Is this for sitewide link? How about $20 per month?

Cindy

Ken At Popehat to Cindy

$20 per day per link per post. And a pony. A pretty pony.

Cindy Li to me

Our link is only one word. So we don't need a post. Could you accept it ?

Cindy

Ken At Popehat to Cindy

Gosh, if it's only one word, how do you use it to advertise your product or service, or use it to convince people to click on your link? They must be very very convincing words. I write convincing words for a living, but even I have trouble convincing people with just one. I mean even "not guilty" is two. And "innocent" is usually problematical. You must be very skilled.

Is it, like, a word of power? Is it dangerous? Or occult? I go to church sometimes and I'm not comfortable with occult stuff.

If Beelzebub is involved, I think I'll need to raise our price, so I can afford to buy holy water.

And whats the deal with my pony?

Cindy Li to me

Our Link Text is “Dresses” and the URL is http://www.dressale.com/.
If you agree with me, pls post our link on first and give me your paypal account. We will pay it within 24 hours.

Cindy

Ken At Popehat to Cindy

Okay. If I do this — and I'm not saying that I will — where do I have to put the links? Do I have to work the word "dresses" into each of our posts? Because I foresee that as being very problematical. We're a very masculine site, Cindy, writing about extremely butch subject matters. I suppose we could cheat by burying "dresses" in a sentence, like "We believe you'll find this carefully machined AR-15 aDRESSES dangers ranging from a zombie horde to local code enforcement," but that might not meet your needs, and also I'm concerned about it in a feng shui sense.

Also I am extremely worried about your evasion vis a vis the pony issue.

P.S. Despite what you might have heard feng shui is extremely masculine.

Cindy Li to me

okay. Don't need it now. Thanks for your time.

CINDY

Ken At Popehat to Cindy

I have already purchased sugar lumps, carrots, and a bridle. Are you familiar with the term DETRIMENTAL RELIANCE? You'll be hearing from my lawyers.

Cindy Li to me

What't your mean? If you can't sell the text link to us. pls don't reply me again.

Cindy

Ken At Popehat to Cindy

Dear Cindy,

Does your last email suggest that you have come to the realization that unwelcome emails are annoying?

I'm glad we could take this voyage of self-discovery together.

Must fly — am taking delivery of llamas in exchange for Twitter promotion of online phamaceuticals.

I remain yours,

Ken
www.popehat.com

A Brief But Heartfelt Response To Karen Spears Zacharias

Oh Karen, my Karen, our vile culture is rife
With "fuck!" and "cocksucker!" and other such strife
Nobody's polite. Nobody keeps cool.
Nobody uses nice words for their stool.
Instead of discoursing in the way that we should,
We all swear like that guy getting blown on Deadwood.

Even kids — O, sweet Children! — are subject to scorn,
We curse them! We rue the day they were born!
We damn their behavior, we laugh when they weep,
We employ cruel invective to tell them to sleep!

Well, not to their faces. We're not all that rude.
But in private, our venting is terribly crude.
It's as if we were human, and sorry to say —
As if parenting's foibles were funny! No way!

You know better, dear Karen. You know kids are no joke
You know bad words hurt those about whom they're spoke
Even if they don't hear them. Bad words hurt us all
They cheapen the culture, they lower the wall.
Between us and barbarians. For isn't it said
That the Etruscans, who cursed, are all now mostly dead?

We need you sweet Karen. We need you to flit
To wherever there's call for a nannying twit
We need you in comics. We need you in games
We need you if someone says womyn are "dames"

But we don't know that we need you. Oh, for shame
Our permissive culture is surely to blame
We imagine we're able to think for ourselves
About which dirty books to put on our shelves
We believe there's a difference, a key one in fact,
Between in-private fun, and company tact.

So please, Karen please, spare a thought for us churls,
As you faint on your couch and clutch at your pearls,
One day we'll admit you know best for our health,
But not today, Karen. So go fuck yourself.

(Hat Tip To Nick Gillespie, and to my dear wife, who gave me the offending book in question for Father's Day.)

This Is A Blogpost Concerning A Science Article I Read In A Newspaper

I will begin by making an exaggerated claim which shows that I do not understand the scientific research at issue, nor indeed do I understand science at all, nor am I aware (because I hardly bothered to read the article) that it was written a year ago.

Second, I will link to and quote a portion of the article that shows the reporter is also a scientific ignoramus.

In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research "challenges".

I will follow up with an arcane reference to a British science fiction tv series that hasn't aged well, but assume readers will get because I enjoyed the show when I was a child.

Finally, I will state that the reporter's ignorant summary of the scientific research supports my moral and political prejudices, denouncing those who disagree with me as morons whose beliefs endanger the world, or society, or children, as proven by science.

At the close of my post, I will write a brief, three letter word attached to a hyperlink (perhaps "Via") through which I grudgingly admit that I did not find the article myself (because who has time to read newspapers?), but got it from a more popular blogger.