Compositor B's Rants

Because some unknown guy working in a 17-century printshop should still have a platform to spout off.

Facebook Observations

Posted by Compositor B on May 1, 2009

 In no particular order:

  1. People try way too hard to make their life seem exciting, all the time. FACT: the vast majority of even a rock star’s life is still composed of mundane, boring events like brushing one’s teeth, eating a bagel, or working out at the gym. Constantly telling me about them does not make them more exciting (“Bryan will be at the store and is getting out of the car in five minutes! Whoopee! Hate driving in traffic!”). Sometimes, less is more.
  2. Do not tell me when you just got up and when you’re going to bed.
  3. I get it people, you need and drink a lot of coffee.
  4. Some people are trying way too hard to seem intellectual.
  5. All those stupid quizzes exist solely for the purpose of making people feel good about themselves. Every single result is basically “you’re the coolest!”
  6. I think the Greek myth character Narcissus looks at some of these pages and thinks “holy crap, this guy is really into himself!”
  7. When your “friend” count goes above 1000, I’m guessing we are defining “friend” rather broadly. Maybe the friend list should be subdivided: real friends, kinda friends, acquaintances I see once a month, co-workers who will be offended if I ignore their request, people from high school who I really don’t remember, etc.
  8. I do not want to join your mafia or pirate crew, I will not take the quiz, and really, I don’t need another drink or piece of flair.
  9. Per the above point, why don’t they have more realistic games? “Accountant Wars.” Join Bryan’s audit team and help him pull off the “inventory records” job.
  10. There’s no way the hot babe with the “dirty deeds done dirt cheap” bar over her eyes has ever been, or will ever be, “searching for me.”
  11. The only thing I’m going to become a fan of is ME. I’m a huge fan of myself. Want to become a fan?
  12. OK, # 11 undercuts my snarkiness on point #6, I guess.
  13. Stop posting pics of yourself 20 years ago as your “profile photo.”
  14. For that matter, stop posting pics of people who aren’t actually, YOU, as your profile photo. Ditto for pics of your dog, etc. I’m the least photogenic man on the planet, and my profile pic is a self-shot with a grainy cell phone on a day I didn’t shave.  

I’m probably an offender on most of the above. That’s OK, my blog, my right to be snarky and hypocritical.


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Of “Bad Jeans” and Blurred Boundaries

Posted by Compositor B on April 25, 2009

This item from Lileks last week, in which he fisks George Will, merits further consideration. Recap for those to lazy to click-n-read: Will writes a column decrying denim as the root of all degradation in society. We’ve “slovenly” and “infantile” because adults wear jeans, to paraphrase. Lileks takes him mercilessly (and hilariously) to task.

That being said, is there something to the notion that society’s overall dress code seems to have gone “extreme casual,” and that this suggests something truly negative? That some “slovenly beast, its hour come round at last, slouches from the food court towards Abercrombie to be born?”

I don’t think there’s any question that society has become more casual in appearance, but I don’t think it necessarily follows that this is a symptom of the end of days.  It’s possible to be perfectly “adult” while wearing jeans, shorts, sandals, whatever, as top-flight engineers at hi-tech firms with casual dress codes would agree. 

Another thought:  perhaps increasing “casualness”  is something inevitable as economic prosperity and political freedom grow, and thus a positive thing. Broad-based wealth and legal equality may drive a confluence of fashion trends among all of society’s layers. Whereas Elizabethan England had vast numbers dressed in filthy rags, and a privileged few dressed in breathtaking finery, supported by sumptuary laws. Vast disparities in dress code were merely a symptom of that society’s underlying inequalities. 

But I want to make a distinction here that those of a curmudgeonly bent might argue does not exist. While increasing casualness qua casualness may not be a bad thing, perhaps the increasing tendency of adults to dress and act like children is a phenomenon of concern? A sign of a dangerous infanilization (and hence “unseriousness” of adult society?

Example: dad and junior at the mall, both wearing jeans and t-shirts. One can usually note that the clothes were purchased from different stores.  Dad in a plain tee or one with a humorous message? OK. Dad in a funky “Hot Topic” tee replete with flaming skulls, or one with a particularly crude sexual message that’s the juvenile visual equivalent of blasting Eminem as loudly as possible while cruising with the windows down?  Kinda creepy.

Further, I have bad news for junior. Like it or not, we adults are horning in on your fashion action. Times past, we could count on the kids wearing crap and doing their hair in ways so annoying that adults wanted no part of it. Not any more. Increasingly, we adults wear the specific brands and styles of casual clothes that kids try vainly to cordon off for themselves. Guilty as charged – I have some B&W Puma shoes, that instantly became lame when my daughter saw me wear them. I’ve been strictly warned against buying certain specific fashion items. It doesn’t help that everything returns as a retread. Your teen doesn’t care that “we were wearing Converse shoes before you were born” – she just doesn’t want you to ruin the mojo by wearing it in its current incarnation.

Ditto various technologies. I’m on Facebook. So are lots of adults. Should we be? For a while I resisted it, precisely because I esteemed it not sufficiently grown-up. Likewise, I like lots of current music enjoyed by my kids. Should I? Or should I be listening exclusively to the 80s and 90s XM stations, rejoicing when Bon Jovi makes another appearance?

Lotsa words for a qualified “maybe.” I’m open to the argument that adults dressing in identical styles to kids and listening to the same bands and playing the exact same video games is sign of an infantilized and spoiled culture, one incapable of mustering up the will to resist deadly enemies abroad and to make hard choices at home.

I’m also open to the idea that the previous sentence is a bunch of nonsense. Read Aristophanes. 2400 years ago, and the “parent generation” (with the twin tasks of raising the young and caring for the old)  was bitching about how everything has gone to hell, and that the youth were a bunch of drunken, disrespectful slackers off fornicating in the bushes when they should be growing up and acting more responibly. “Woe is us, we’re doomed.” Looking at the current state of things and with horror at the younger generation to which we must pass the torch seems a hardy human perennial.

What, you thought there’d be a definitive answer…? 🙂

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Killer Ants – A Reflection Upon One of the Greatest TV Shows EVAH!

Posted by Compositor B on April 22, 2009

Killer Ants. Seriously. Saw it years ago. The wife and I were cuddled on the couch in domestic bliss, surfing Sunday night TV for something worthwhile. And lo and behold – at precisely 7 PM we flip to the Discovery channel, just in time for a one-hour special called “Killer Ants.” Now, come on. How can you resist a show called “KILLER ANTS??” The name says it all. One whole hour of badass ants with huge jaws and ugly attitudes destroying everything in their path as they go on a killing rampage. I’m thinking Emmy award, here.

Me: “Yes! Totally awesome!” (reaching for the popcorn).

Her: “Gross! You really want to watch this?” (reaching for the barfbag).

So we watch. And it does not disappoint. We go from the Cost Rican army ants (watch them disassemble a whole scorpion), to the ferocious “jack jumpers” of Australia, who hunt alone and spend whatever time they aren’t single-handedly taking out wasps and bees in fighting one another for supremacy within the nest. The coup de grace are the African driver ants (“Siafu” in the Masai language), that take out whole chickens and rodents (and everything else) in a 20-million strong swarm of destruction. We got plenty of close-up views inside the colony thanks to the “AntCam,” and even humans were not safe from the scourge.

Of course, I have to pay for this later…

{Sometime around 3 am…} “Bryan! Wake up! You are covered in spiders and ants!!”

“Huh? No, I don’t think so.”

“Yes you are!! You’re covered!”

“No honey, you’re just having a bad dream because we watched the ant show. Go back to bed, it’s OK.” 

“grumble grumble…zzzz.”

{Morning – 8 AM} “Why didn’t you turn on the light last night?”


“When I was having that bug dream. You didn’t even turn on the light to check it out.”

“Umm, that’s because I knew you were dreaming. It certainly didn’t FEEL like I was covered in spiders and ants biting me to death.”

“But you could’ve checked it out. I thought my pillow was full of bugs.”

“You didn’t tell me that. I told you that you were dreaming.”

“Yes, but you could have turned on the light to show me my pillow wasn’t full of bugs.”

“You didn’t tell me you thought your pillow was full of bugs! You said I was.”

“But why didn’t you at least turn on the light to show me there weren’t really any bugs? You were too busy sleeping to bother.”

“Is this a joke?”

“No, I’m just curious why you didn’t at least turn on the light to check it out and reassure me my pillow wasn’t full of bugs…”

Bizarre conversation. Went on far too long. Whatever. It was worth it. Did they ever make “Killer Ants II?” I suspect I’ll be watching that one alone.

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My Own Small Contribution…

Posted by Compositor B on April 19, 2009

…to the culture and political wars has been immortalized in cartoon form. Chris Muir graciously used an idea of mine from the “Black Knight Debate Guide” post (see below) in the 4/19/09 DaybyDay cartoon. Of course, he made it even better, but that’s why he makes the big bucks and has the coolest political/cultural cartoon on the web.

You DO read DaybyDay, don’t you? You should.

Thanks again, Chris!

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My Feelings Regarding Facebook Applications

Posted by Compositor B on April 3, 2009

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The Black Knight’s Guide to Winning Debates (In Your Mind)

Posted by Compositor B on March 28, 2009

I’m pretty sure everyone know someone who “wins” every debate or argument, no matter the facts, evidence or logic employed against them? I kind of thought the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Holy Grail was a prime example of this type. Enjoy:


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Global Warming, as Viewed by Firebrand Puritan Preacher Jonathan Edwards

Posted by Compositor B on March 28, 2009

Polluters in the Hands of an Angry Mother Earth

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of Mother Earth on the wicked unbelieving Corporations, who were Mother Earth’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all Mother Earth’s wonderful works towards them, remained void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought forth global warming and carbon dioxide and pollution. The expression I have chosen for my text, their seas shall rise in due time, seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Corporations were exposed. Read the rest of this entry »

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The REAL Way to Review Academic Manuscripts

Posted by Compositor B on March 28, 2009

For those of you familiar with the scholarly journal review process, this is the manuscript review we all sometimes wish we could submit: Read the rest of this entry »

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Template for Communication between the Doctoral Candidate and his/her Dissertation Committee

Posted by Compositor B on March 28, 2009

For all you struggling PhD students out there, the following template should come in handy for all communication with your committee regarding your dissertation: Read the rest of this entry »

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