CSotD: A sound basis for humor

Candorville (WPWG) reminds me of how much I miss the Olden Days. Not the medieval olden days evoked here, but the Olden Days when most on-line conversation happened on Usenet and most people recognized both the futility of responding to trolls and the wisdom of ignoring them.

There was, in that bygone era, something called “Netiquette,” and “Don’t feed the trolls” was as universally known and accepted as “Don’t post in all caps.”

I suppose it was elitist, a time and place where the vast majority of people were of good will and genuinely wanted a conversation, not a fist fight, and where you gained prestige by making intelligent points, not simply by stirring up the most action.

Or maybe it was simply naive, in the same way we thought — for about 15 seconds — that distributing good vibes and flowers would persuade people to give up warfare.

I don’t suppose it matters anymore. We shouldn’t feed the trolls, but, then again, we shouldn’t let evil go unchallenged, particularly since we know that handing out flowers doesn’t work and that evil comes across as attractive strength to a lot of people.

It is a puzzlement.


Today’s Frazz (AMS) also sends me back, though in a different way.

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and, after nearly 20 years in exile, I was thrilled to move back to the Northeast where the season is so rich and full. This will be my 34th autumn since coming home and I’ve savored each one.

But it will be my 11th autumn living behind the post office, where, a couple of times a week, the groundskeepers seem convinced that just 15 more minutes with the leaf blower will get that final, pesky leaf, so there’s no point in just bending over and picking the damn thing up.

As it happens, I was driving to the park with the dog yesterday and indulging in that common fantasy of using a time machine to bring some 18th century person to the current time. Amid thoughts of explaining cars and airplanes and such, it occurred to me that perhaps the biggest shock to my visitor would be the constant noise in which we live.

A few years ago, I was in the Adirondacks for a reunion and, in a pleasantly idle moment, went back into the woods to a little lake I used to camp by. It’s far enough out there that you can’t hear distant trucks downshifting and there’s no air traffic overhead, and it also happened to be noon, so the birds were hunkered down to wait out the heat of the day.

It was like being in a sensory-deprivation chamber. Dead silence today is something known only to the deaf, and even they experience vibrations. This was bizarre, but it was also something that people in the 18th century would find perfectly normal.

Which leads to our first

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Stephen Collins)


(Carpe Diem – KFS)

I love the name “Dan Mumbleman,” because he seems to be in a lot of movies, mostly ones that also feature plenty of explosions, so that you have the choice of either not hearing the dialogue or being blown out of your chair by the sound effects. But, yes, streaming adds the effect Collins emphasizes, of never finding the sweet spot where he simply mumbles whatever you missed.

And it’s not just movies: Watching a half hour newscast on DVR can eat up at least 45 minutes if you keep trying to skip commercials and end up overshooting the start up, then, as he says, going back to the beginning.

As for that other source of annoyance, the young folks have something called “Tuners,” which are cheap-ass cars you can soup up, which requires mufflers that, paradoxically, amplify sound.

It makes me feel a little guilty to complain, because I remember with affection my buddies who worked on their cars Back in the Day, and I have always sneered at the pre-packaged Barracudas and other off-the-rack muscle cars rich kids drove in the 70s.

But what’s weird about Tuners is that they also remind me of a nickname for the old Citroën 2CV, which polite people affectionately called a “Deux Chevaux” (two horse), but less polite people referred to as “boîte à merde” (box of shit), because the Tuners look like nothing.

You could at least paint some flames on the wheel wells, and don’t tell me you’re trying not to let the cops know you have a hot car, because those damn mufflers are what inspired noise ordinances back in the Good Old Days.

And so is your stupid subwoofer sound system. All your bass are belong to you, and you can have it.

You little jerks are all gonna be deaf by the time you’re 40 and then you won’t be able to understand Dan Mumbleman either.


Juxtaposition of Editors on Vacation

(Daddy’s Home – Creators)


(F-Minus – AMS)

It was Groucho.

And I doubt anyone ever nurtured a childhood dream of dropping into a huge kettle of boiling water.


I could be wrong about that last one, of course. As Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal suggests, even the classics hide a kink or two.

But it was definitely Groucho.


Juxtaposition of Lousy Jobs

(Edison Lee – KFS)


(Half Full – AMS)

It’s a lovely thought to have privileged policy makers work at minimum wage jobs and live on the resulting budget, but the flaw is that they’d know it was only a stunt that they could walk away from whenever they wanted.

Which is the precise opposite of what they need to understand and never will.

As for self-checkout, I’m convinced that all the never-use-them memes were planted by unions, though not many checkers are unionized.

Nor do I believe self-righteous people are also boycotting ATMs, self-serve gas stations or clothing not produced on foot-pedal looms.

Besides, as Maria Scrivan points out, those check stands aren’t really that self-operating, and there’s almost always some minimum-wage-slave monitoring and correcting them.

It’s really more like having an express lane staffed by a super-efficient checker.

Who still needs two jobs just to make rent.

And whose only benefits are found at home:


7 thoughts on “CSotD: A sound basis for humor

  1. I always feel somewhat guilty using the self-checkout, not so much because it “takes away jobs” from the checkers, but because I know it’s inevitable that at some point, I’m gonna need that poor, beleagured “minimum-wage-slave” you so aptly describe to help me figure out how to enter the 20 identical cans of cat food without having to scan each one individually. They always show me, very patiently, and I always forget the very next time I go in.

  2. My father mentioned having run across a photo of a 2CV race, “With belly pans showing and spinnakers set”. I have seen a hopped-up Fiat Abarth 1000 en pleine course winding its way around the Monterey course, much the same sight.

  3. There wasn’t much pushback about ATMs because most banks were open nine to five, Monday through Friday.
    If you worked a ‘normal’ job, you pretty much had to take a day off to do ANY banking.
    ATMs and automatic deposits for paychecks have ALMOST eliminated the need for everyday bank tellers, so they can concentrate on the moneymakers… credit cards and loans.

  4. Louis — agreed on the hours, absolutely, though some banks kept their drive-ups open later, until they installed ATMs.

    But I didn’t think tellers had a lot to do beyond customer service, so I looked it up.

    They need math skills and discretion, but not a lot of training, and, while they must present a professional image, they seem vulnerable to being replaced by automation.


    (By contrast, I had a roommate who “pumped gas” but was also expected to do brake jobs, replace water pumps and generally put the “service” in “service stations.” Today, any car problem requires a trip to a dealer — though that has as much to do with computerized cars as self-service pumps. The days of the shade-tree mechanic are over.)

  5. My daughter used to work as a bank teller, and one of her main job functions was to “upsell” other financial products such as credit cards, loans, etc. The tellers had quotas to meet. In some ways, it wasn’t that different from her first job in high school at a movie theater concession stand (would you like to add a drink to go with that popcorn?)

  6. We should remember the third of those great Usenet sins, “don’t top post”.

    I miss Usenet.

  7. ATMs were a fairly natural development after little standalone drive-up bank kiosks back of the regular building. I remember relying on those in the early 80s, pedaling from the one location in town to the other one on the far side, trying to get some cash, and concluding that the last one out of the bank each day would hit a switch on the wall that turned all the ATMs over to the “utterly useless till the bank opens again” setting.

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