Elliot Swan is a freelance web and graphic designer as well as a self-proclaimed photographer who loves ranting about design, standards, and the web in general. But that's not what this site is for. No, he's got another site for that. What's this then? Why, let me introduce you to...

Accidental Procrastination | Things I didn't mean to think about when I should've been working.

I was:

The American Pledge of Appliance

December 2, 2006

Let’s face it, the American Pledge of Allegiance…Great idea, rotten execution. Yet, it sounds so good we like to say it anyway.

The problem is, every time we recite it we end up lying through our teeth. I’ve decided to solve this problem, so I’ve come up with a new pledge which I would like to introduce to you all today.

I give you, the American Pledge of Appliance.

I pledge allegiance when I feel like it,
To the flag which I may now burn.
Of the Two Nations of America that switch places every 4-8 years,
And to the Fake Democracy for which it never stood,
Two Nations;
We are gods;
Affectible;
With stupidity and tolerance for all.

Just a Little Detour

November 4, 2006

Scott Adams’s blog writings are kind of off-and-on, so every once in a while he nails it. This time, I gotta say that The Most Obscene Letter is brilliant. Who would’ve thought that the asterisk could be so **** evil?

Using asterisks is kind of like saying “dang” instead of “damn” and “heck” instead of “hell.” It means the same thing, you mean the same thing, yet somehow switching around a few letters makes it all so much more acceptable.

For example, if you’re still reading this, then you must be pretty damn bored because this post is just a half-ass excuse for me to bitch about random shit that nobody cares about. I don’t even know what the hell I’m talking about.

Did I offend you?

Now let’s try this: If you’re still reading this, then you must be pretty dang bored because this post is just a dumb excuse for me to whine about random crap that nobody cares about. I don’t even know what the heck I’m talking about.

How about now? Did I even say anything different?

Some things I just don’t understand. Then again, perhaps it’s best this way–it certainly is much funnier.

The Nature of Comedy

October 28, 2006

With the recent outcry over South Park’s latest episode in which apparently (I haven’t actually watched it) Steve Irwin attends Satan’s Halloween dress up party with a stingray sticking through him, I’ve been thinking about the nature of comedy. What is comedy, what makes it up, are there places that comedy shouldn’t be taken, are there ways that comedy shouldn’t be tackled, and are there answers to any of these questions?

While comedy is normally funny, it oftentimes gives insights and shows the holes in our society. Comedians such as George Carlin often attack subjects with a certain anger, yet worded and timed so perfectly nobody can help but to laugh (“But [God] loves you. He loves you, and He NEEDS MONEY! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Ho-ly Shit!“). Meanwhile, Jerry Seinfeld attempts to show you the humor in everyday things (“Have you ever had milk the day after the date? Scares the hell out of you, doesn’t it? The spoon is trembling as it comes out of the bowl. ‘It’s after the day! I’m taking a big chance! I smelled it, you smelled it, what is it supposed to smell like?'”).

Are there places comedy shouldn’t go, and are there ways it shouldn’t be treated? While George Carlin is famous for his 7 Words routine and believes that comedy is about finding where the line is drawn then crossing it, Seinfeld says that while there are no subjects that he will not tackle, there are ways in which he will not tackle them. In Jerry Seinfeld On Comedy, he also calls heavy profanity the “great shortcut” of comedy and as such won’t use it. Are shortcuts be avoided, or should they be used when appropriate? Are they ever appropriate?

While I don’t mind a few choice words here and there to spice up the overall effect as someone like Demetri Martin will do, somebody like Dane Cook just gets annoying. After a few minutes you realize that he’s not actually saying anything funny, but it’s so laced with well-timed profanity that you’re tricked into believing that it actually is. You can only stand so much of that.

Is it the comedian’s job to filter out overly offensive material? Or should it just be saved for the right audience? Most comedy, on some level or another, is offensive to somebody. All comedy makes fun of something or somebody on some level, but are there levels that are too high?

And will I ever stop asking questions without providing answers?

To Dream of Never-Ending Things…

October 15, 2006

What if we actually cared?

What if “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” was more than a catchphrase?

What if we really tried to love our neighbors as ourselves?

What if we learned to love ourselves?

What if we desired to change what isn’t right?

What if we took the unjust and fixed it?

What if passion became the norm?

What if hate didn’t exist?

What if everybody lived each day like their last?

What if everybody lived each moment as their last?

What if we believed in ourselves even when nobody else did?

What if failure wasn’t feared?

What if time wasn’t an issue?

What if we were willing to sacrifice?

What if we kept trying?

What if we followed what we believed?

What if we dreamed the impossible, but tried anyway?

Justice.

September 11, 2006

The word on our tongues, the 9/11 cry, the curse others deserve.

Let them have it; just don’t touch me.
Free the oppressed; but find somebody else to do it.
Feed the poor; but somebody else pay for it. I can’t–I’m still paying for my HDTV.
Convict the criminals; just keep away from BitTorrent and my radar detector.
Let Bono fix the African kids; I don’t have the time.

I can’t afford to help out my neighbor; it wouldn’t be fair to me.
I don’t have time for your justice; I’m too busy with mine.

Lawyers, Judges, Senators.
Money, Political Agendas, Power.
Hell for you, fair for me.

May you be brought to justice. Perhaps then the damn thing will steer clear of me.

To the oppressed, the poor, the AIDS-inflicted, the bums of the street:
Don’t worry, I’ll help you out once it’s fair for me.

The Cost of Honesty (Or, “Why I Never Lie and Why the Truth is Overrated”)

September 3, 2006

Lately I’ve come to realize that in our society, the worst possible thing that I can do for myself is tell somebody what I really think. Most of us understand this. We’re masters of creative distortion, persuasive evasion, and selective truthfulness. But we never lie–no, we’d never steep as low as that–we’re just not honest.

See, lies are way too fragile. It takes a George Costanza to really pull those off. Hell, even Clinton had trouble eventually. However, with selective truthfulness, even amateurs can fool the polygraph. It’s simple: We tell the truth but leave out the parts we’d like to live without.

I’m sure you already know how to do it. Without this technique, most of us would be dead by now.

For example, say somebody shows you some of their artwork:

“So, what do you think?”

What is it? Looks like a train wreck. “Very interesting…Really makes the mind wonder.”

Told absolute truth. How they interpret this truth is completely up to them. As Costanza himself would say, “Jerry, just remember: It’s not a lie… if you believe it.” That’s why this works so well. You get out of trouble, don’t have to lie (guilt free!), and even better…it’s so easy.

Picture the scene. Somebody important invites you over for dinner; this is your big chance.

“So, did you like the dinner?”

Holy crap…I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep this down for the next hour. Or if I do, I’m definitely going to die.
“I’ve never had anything like it! That meat was really interesting.”
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as blue pork…

Tricks like these can save lives. Not just vague, other-side-of-the-world, somebody else “lives,” either…we’re talking yours and mine.

“Does this make me look fat?”

Hey, it’s not the clothes’ fault. “No, nothing makes you look fat.”

But in order to use this technique, there is a certain pride issue that one has to get over. Namely, one needs to convince him or herself that their personal thoughts and opinions 1) aren’t worth telling and 2) aren’t funny.

But this I just cannot do. They’re good, and I don’t aim to waste them. Which is also why I don’t have a girlfriend yet two moderately successful blogs.

With Liberty and Tolerance For All

August 6, 2006

Today’s tolerance is fashionable and considerate, the mark of a truly educated person. Being fashionable, considerate, and educated myself, I believe in tolerance to the highest degree.

America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, has given me a wonderful example of what tolerance looks like. As we relentlessly tell everyone everywhere, America is a deeply tolerant country. Our citizens have the freedom to burn the American flag because we tolerate all of us who stand against us. We fought a hard battle to remove the 10 Commandments from court rooms because we must be tolerant towards those of us who are offended by fools.

That’s how we keep our country so tolerant. It works extraordinarily well, and no true, educated American would dare offend another person or organization–our lawyers make sure of that. Those jackasses are too into their religion to take the 10 Commandments down? Throw ’em in the slammer. That’s tolerance for you.

Our foreign policy lacks tolerance, however. If tolerance is truly all it’s cracked up to be (and they tell me it is), then surely that’s the answer to all of our problems.

We just need to be more tolerant of terrorists.

Surely that would solve things. After all, it’s what any educated person would do. We simply must realize that Al Qaeda just wants Heaven too, and North Korea…Well, who knows.

Besides, I haven’t seen good fireworks in quite some time.

Upon Searching for Me

July 24, 2006

I was looking through my Mint stats last night when I realized…Some of the funniest people don’t realize that they’re funny–which is probably why they are.

Allow me to demonstrate by showing you a few of the searches that people have actually done to end up here:

It’s not my fault I’m a pessimist.

July 18, 2006

Americans have always been impressed by professional-sounding terms. Some of us like them so much that we invent multiple terms for the same thing then attempt to trick you into believing that they’re actually different.

The whole profession of doctorism (how’s that for a professional term) revolves around this exact system. After all, if doctors are going to charge so much, they’d better look like they actually know something we don’t.

How many times have you gone to the doctor to hear him say, “You hurt your leg”? Probably not very many. They’re much more likely to say something like, “You have a fracture of the femur,” which sounds much more professional.

We all know they just look it up on the internet when our back is turned. This is the only reason that I can think of for always having such crappy wallpaper–good distraction while they look it up (Hey, is that a BUTTERFLY on there?). But even so, they still like to pretend that they are actually smarter than us. So, they use these big words in order to prove they deserve the white coat:

“After much googling research I have come to the conclusion that the fetor comes from extensive feces.”

“What?”

“Your shit stinks.”

One more thing. How come I always end up with the practicing doctors? Just once, can’t I get a good one? I think that’s something my health insurance forgot to mention.

Big words aren’t just reserved to wealthy googlers doctors, however. Take the words optimism and pessimism. We like to define these with the oh-so-popular “half-full” and “half-empty” illustrations. People love to ask you that. Do you see your glass as half empty, or half full?

I hear this is one of psychiatrists’ favorite questions, which is also why I believe that psychiatrists are people who wanted to be doctors, but couldn’t learn how to use Google fast enough so settled for making up stuff on the spot.

I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me whether I’m an optimist or a pessimist though, because there’s not too much difference. The only real difference between optimists and pessimists is that the half-full people tell you that “if life hands you a lemon, make lemonade,” while the half-empty people hate lemonade.

A Note on Sequels

July 7, 2006

A lot of people seem to assign the word “sequel” with the definition of, “A continuation of the first story.” But recently I’ve come across substantial evidence to indicate otherwise. While this new definition desperately tries to hold onto the connotation that the previous definition carries, the literal definition is quite different.

It now goes something like this:

A second, completely separate and much lamer movie that intends to juice all possible revenue out of a previous movie’s name and/or stars. It may or may not have any relation to the previous film, and oftentimes within the last 10 minutes a movie will introduce a completely new issue that will take another 3 hours to explain so that they may produce a sequel. Several sequels may be made, turning a specific group of films into a “series.” This series will normally go on until it becomes clear that nobody cares anymore.

I’d like to thank Hollywood for making this post possible.

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