I’m not promising anything, but God knows I try.

The snollygosters won, leading to a kakistocracy, which set off the grumbletonians.



How about them Moose goosers, Ain’t they recluse?
Up in them boondocks, goosin’ them moose
Goosin’ them huge moose, goosin’ them tiny,
Goosin’ them meadow moose in they hiney!
Look at them Moose goosers, Ain’t they dumb?
Some use an umbrella, some use a thumb.
Them obtuse Moose goosers, sneakin’ through the woods,
pokin’ them snoozey moose in they goods,
How to be a Moose gooser? It’ll turn you puce;
Gitcher gooser loose, and rouse a drowsy moose!

-Mason Williams


Captures the spirit of the season I think. Valentines day is kind of like if we had a holiday called “How are those life goals coming along, smart guy?”

Cards copyright Jim Benton


Engrish provides a torrent of absurdity that almost always makes me giggle. Sorry for a couple of duplicates, I have to weed them out.

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  1. Hi, first of all, I’m incredibly sorry, I knew I had to leave by 2 pm to get here but my sandwich burned and I didn’t notice until the apartment was full of smoke. I couldn’t leave it for my roommates like that so I had to open all the windows and flap a beach towel everywhere to make it a little better. Anyway, thank you for understanding.
  2. As a program note, I did see that this was to be a talk with a slide presentation but somehow I missed the thing about being in PowerPoint so a slight format change will require me to hook up my slide projector. It should only take a couple of minutes and maybe one or two of you could help me move the computer cart to a safe place and find like a table or desk that’s the right height for my projector?
  3. I’m sure you can relate, I mean I’m only human but last week, which I admit would have been the ideal time to be working on this, it was like every time I sat down to get started I’d get just crazy sleepy, like can’t keep my head upright, sleepy. It was insane, then as it got closer to this week I found myself kind of having trouble thinking about it and every time I’d try I’d get this sort of anxiety stomach ache. I did manage to get some stuff done though like pick up my bedroom and throw away the old stuff in the fridge. It’s kind of a good feeling. Then night before last my friend had this thing he wanted me to go to so that only left me last night to pull this together.
  4. In that light, I think it holds up pretty well. Although full disclosure, I thought the book we had to talk about was kind of up to us so I picked “Cujo”, by the writer Steven King because I read it last Summer. I’m sorry I didn’t do “Of Mice and Men” but at least this is an animal and people story too.
  5. If I may just say so, turning web pictures into projector slides is just insanely expensive, especially a rush job. Like you would not believe how much these cost my friend. So my first slide is these awesome St. Bernard puppies. Can you even believe how cute they are? And look how big the mom is in comparison! Actually these were the ones that showed up first in image search and there were a ton of this same bunch of puppies doing different stuff although it’s not super obvious that it’s real different, because the background doesn’t change.
  6. So I think the book Cujo by the writer Steven King is really good and exciting. Question 1 says to talk about the conflict at the heart of the story so I guess the conflict is between this huge killer dog and the people.
  7. Question 2 asks me to describe underlying issues that shape the story and I guess that would be like rabies, because everything would have been OK without the rabies.
  1. LinkedIn feels like a pyramid scheme that lacks ambition.
  2. I just slept 4 hours and must teach 4.5 hours today. There’s got to be a miserable little story problem in there somewhere.
  3. “Simplistic” doesn’t mean simple. “Over exaggerate” is redundant. Stop it.
  4. It turns out people who hate government make it worse when they participate.
  5. In the near future, every combination of English words will become an ironic catchphrase.
  6. Enjoy being slightly bad from time to time or your goodness will get all dusty and wrinkled.
  7. The three stages of grief getting into cold water: 1. Ankles 2. Genitals 3. Shoulders.
  8. “Doing good” never rises above undoing a “bad”. Every “good guy” in every story returns the situation to neutral; normal is good.
    1. When social justice people overshoot the balanced restoration of good, their polarity shifts, and their work becomes a bad to be undone.
  9. What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?    (stolen, I just love it.)
  10. Crappy days average five hours longer.
  11. Conservatism wants to stop time & change at the perfect moment. The range from moderate to reactionary is measured by how long ago they position the golden age.
  12. Greet each new day as if it were your last, filled with tearful remorse.
  13. “Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” — Christopher Hitchens
  14. I’ve begun making artisanal ice in my own freezer using free-range water I collect by hand with a silver thimble. A quick stir with a sprig of lemon thyme and voila!  Prices upon request.
  15. The “normal” economy is disappearing fast. It’s time to make decisions about how much we value people when they are out of work and there isn’t a goddamn thing for them to do.
  16. Ayn Rand fiction is “Twilight” set in a childish political framework.
  17. Put the Christ back in “Jesus Christ, I can’t believe I’m related to you!”
  18. I hate it when introspective thoughts talk smack about me.
  19. If a business becomes so wealthy and powerful that it can influence the direction of government, it is no longer a part of the “Free Market”.
  20. Why can’t we just redefine our government’s relation to health care as a Costco style buying club? It isn’t socialism, it’s organized consumerism. But if it lowers corporate profits it’s communism.
  21. With great power also come great opportunities for dating.

These are two categories of bad experiences at the hands of makers. They exist in the digital world and in the meat world. They don’t normally overlap because there is a steep gradient of competence between them. Idiots screw things up by accident and assholes screw them up on purpose.

Idiot design in digital form might lead to failed interactivity on a website through a navigation bar where the background and the links are the same color. Idiot design in the walk-around world can be seen in the work of a bad carpenter who installs a door so it cannot be opened without banging into the toilet and forcing you to squeeze around it to enter. These are the idiots, confidently creating a world of uneven stairs, non-functioning appliances, and unreadable documents. I have a few humble examples.

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Asshole designers don’t make these mistakes, at least not by accident. They are slick by trade and their competence is what makes it possible for them to fuck around with us. Individually they might be decent people though I rather doubt it. The force driving asshole design is, of course, money, but the rationale for asshole design is of course, also money. Asshole designers can accurately time and place a button you do not want to tap on your phone exactly where and when you next tap. Asshole design places awkward, unskippable and immobilizing video ads in your way you until they choose to release you. These two examples remind me of high school jerks, the first sliding your lunch under your butt as you sit down to eat, the second like a big jock stopping you in the hallway, and blocking your advance until the entertainment value is used up. Asshole designers are not only on the web, you can see their work in any urban setting where low ledges are spiked to prevent sitting and park benches are bisected with metal to prevent sleep. Our most common encounter with asshole design is in product packaging designed to lie. These assholes fool consumers in a way so premeditated and calculating that it is an obvious con. The classic gimmick is pretending that there is more product included than there really is. The amount of planning evident in such packaging removes any doubt of intent.

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Dishonorable Mention 

There are two final messed up design varieties. They nearly overlap, but they exist for totally different reasons.

TDPMTT Design or They Don’t Pay Me To Think.
It’s close to idiot design in effect but lacks the sincerity and incompetence. It requires a hierarchy and several players. You see it wherever a really bad idea has been completed competently but with utter indifference to how pointless and stupid it is. This category is a mix of absurdist art and the passive aggressive person who follows your instructions literally in order to annoy you. It begins with a bad set of work orders that contain an undetected error sent from somewhere higher up the org chart. In step 2  a slack-jawed human-robot stares into the void of those stupid plans and sets to work. The result is that exterior door on the third floor of the building or the staircase with no outlet. Eventually, a foreman inspects the work and yells “What the hell (fuck) is this? ” The robot worker acknowledges the idiocy with a  shrug “Hey, I just do what they tell me. They don’t pay me to think.” The ritual is finished when the foreman decides it’s too much trouble to change the thing. Dreamed up by Negligence, Made real by Indifference, and Confirmed by Apathy, The work is done.

Perfectly adapted to life in Shitsville
In the last category, it is the state of the art itself that is wrong and not the designer. Here the foundation is that the world has collapsed in disorder (metaphorically speaking) into an Ayn Randian hellscape. Good design must embrace terrible design, becoming one with it. My example is website design for phones. This isn’t about the design being ugly or incompetent. It is about user experience, which the designers fully expect to be hellish. The designers are working to uphold the standard of making the shitty experience of our visitors no shitier than every other shitty experience they have while browsing on the phone.  At best, websites smooshed to phone size are harder to navigate, partly as a size issue of teeny buttons and fat fingers and partly because the navigation itself has adapted in confusing and frustrating ways. There is no room for the understandable navigation that appears in the full-size version. Its navigation or content and content wins. Sort of. Moments after you arrive, creatures of the void sense your presence and crawl, wiggle and hop in your direction.  All seems quiet and peaceful, the content lies open before you, accessible. Then it all seems to happen at once, the screen fills with sales and personal data parasites. Little ad hoodlums, “Where do you think you’re going now?”,”Oh, he’s here to read an article, isn’t that nice… well you’ve got business with us first, Sunny Jim”. Phone websites that are set up this way, which is to say, all of them, are like shopkeepers with clean, wholesome wares who maintain out front a gang of nosy, handsy jerks with no respect for personal space or the end of a conversation. This is baseline UX on the phone web: swatting flies, agreeing to vague things and waiting for stuff to happen. This is like being stopped 7 times while walking down your hallway to do small favors for strangers. Unavoidably Irksome is the principle expectation in Shitsville. The designers down here are competent but the phone web reality itself is an idiot, asshole design.



From the Internet…

Averaging 0.5 seconds of pleasure each


Pareidolia: A sensory stimulus which is interpreted by the mind as something else. Most famously the faces seen in teapots, trucks, garbage cans and clouds; Jesus on a piece of toast, the cloud that looks like a bunny etc, etc. But also such experiences as being in the shower and in the sound of the running water, hearing your phone or the doorbell ringing.

Besides being funny, these pictures are evidence of two things about us.

  1. That we all do this, at all times, using whatever sensory data is in front of us.  Therefore we are screening all incoming data through a human flavored filter. The sense info here is almost aggressively packaged in human frames. None of us are objective observers, none of us ever will be.
  2. That it’s similar enough between the random millions of us that we see the same visual punchline almost effortlessly. This automatic consensus supports theories about inner archetypes and symbols, about universals of expression, posture, and gesture. They suggest that the architecture of these inner libraries is innate.

“My good friend Dr. Seuss wrote a book a few years ago titled “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” He sent me a copy the other day and crossed out “Marvin K. Mooney” and replaced it with “Richard M. Nixon.” It sounded like fun so I asked him if I could reprint it. Please read it aloud.” –Art Buchwald, Tuesday, July 30, 1974

Here’s a timely update…

Donald J. Trump will you please go now!

“The time has come.
The time has come.
The time is now.
Just go.
I don’t care how.
You can go by foot.
You can go by cow.
Donald J. Trump will you please go now!
You can go on skates.
You can go on skis.
You can go in a hat.
Please go.
I don’t care.
You can go
By bike.
You can go
On a Zike-Bike
If you like.
Continue reading


(With acknowledgements to Ambrose Bierce)




  • America: “When you’re a star they let you do it, you can do anything.”
  • Believe me: Subliminal command
  • Chaos: The old Razzle-dazzle. A smokescreen for suckers.
  • Democracy: This time it’s personal
  • Everybody: Fuck them.
  • Fuck: Everybody.
  • God: A really terrific guy, one of my earliest supporters.
  • Hell: Accountability; see also – listening.
  • Investment: Lower class whites.
  • Justice: When I win, see also, when you lose.
  • Kinky: No peeing
  • Law: Like justice, but it’s now a rule.
  • Marriage: Like ventriloquism, but you don’t have to move your hand.
  • Nullify: Obama
  • Obama: Trump brand Dog whistle. How I got here.
  • Putin: Pappa?
  • Qualified: Loyal.
  • Republicans: Pussies: I grabbed ’em.
  • Seizing: Emergency powers.
  • Taxes: For chumps, not Trumps.
  • Ubermensch: The one word daddy smiled while saying.
  • Very: A tiny amount, possibly none.
  • Women: A confusing commodity, overvalued; some contain disgusting liquids.
  • Xenophobe: Where to look for great America.
  • Yes: Where boredom begins.
  • Zigzag: The straightest path between two points.

Some memories of when my son was little.

I suppose these range from around age 4 to 8 or 9.

  1. The other day I said “Sometimes I wish life could be more interesting and surprising.” Isaac said “If you mean you’re tired of the same old thing all the time, I’m with you.”
  2. Streaming a very funny anime (Sgt. Frog.) on Netflix with Isaac. Isaac says: “Have you noticed that every anime has hot teenage girls in it?” me: “Um. yes.”
  3. The other day I was reading to Isaac and he looked up at me and said: “And the winner of the longest nose hair award is…my Dad.”
  4. Isaac complained about the cutesy little notes his Mom puts into his lunchbox so today I slipped a note in there that said: “Did you forget about the amazing space lizards?”
  5. Isaac: “Dad, where did crows eat before there were burger joints?”
  6. I spent the afternoon playing video games with Isaac and when I grumbled about needing to get some work done he said “Lazy Butt!” and I said, “Well you should know, you’re a chip off the old butt.”
  7. It was a beautiful warm spring-like day. Isaac and I went out to the beach, turning over rocks in the low tide zone, finding hundreds of little crabs. We picked up a few on our shovel and they tried to fight us. As we were leaving he said: “I guess we gave them some great stories to tell their grandchildren.”
  8. Over at Isaac’s school celebration for Winter vacation. A woman came over to help me open the beverages I brought. She said, “Oh, by the way, I’m Mikey’s mom.” I said, “Hi, I’m Isaac’s mom!” She noticed a beat before I did.
  9. Isaac put refrigerator magnets together that said: “So I pounded an elaborate bitter goddess”. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
  10. The other night Isaac started painting a big piece of styrofoam all sorts of weird colors, with glitter here and there. He said he was making decorations for April Fools Day.