Island Life by David Slack


One word

How in God's name do you come up with a discouraging revelation to top the one the Government had to offer us this week? Well of course it's impossible.

Impossible, that is, unless you draft in the wit of The Onion's Scott Dikkers (otherwise known as Dr. Oswald T. Pratt).

In his charming little publication You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of Wisdom Sure to Ruin Your Day, he offers page upon page of reasons not to bother getting out of bed in the morning.

-You hate your job. And it's safe to say that no one at your job is particularly fond of you either.

-When you pray, no one is listening. Furthermore, you look ridiculous.

-That special bond you think you have with your pet is imaginary. As long as it has food and water, you could get hit by a train tomorrow, and your pet wouldn't think anything of it.

-Next time you have sex, fixate on just how horribly unattractive your body is.

-Killing yourself would be a good idea. The only problem is that you don't have the guts

He's joking, surely, you will say, and yes, he's doing it for laughs. But it's a rare joke that does not have at least a kernel of truth to it.

Faith Hill declares she was just having a joke at the Country Music Awards this week, but take a look at the clip, and judge for yourself as the camera captures her apparent disgust at being passed over for the coveted title of Female Vocalist of the Year. Is this what she claims it to be: an act for the cameras, or just an unguarded moment of petulance?

I like the unvarnished truth of the thing. I don't know how many rictus grins I've seen on the faces of the vanquished at these awards ceremonies.

In that respect, the President of the United States of America offers a shining example. I watched him eating his plate of humble pie on CNN this morning. His was a mightily strained effort at good grace, with hints of petulance.

If he's still feeling disgruntled, he should probably forgo the fun of firing up The Google and checking the entries for "miserable failure" for a while; it might turn up this Slate piece, cataloguing - in painful detail - the epic scope of Rumsfeld's errors.

Indeed, Rumsfeld's dominance of the cabinet and the Bush administration may have guaranteed that America chose the entirely wrong paradigm for the past five years. Notwithstanding the spectacular violence of the Sept. 11 attacks, America might have done better had it not chosen a war paradigm to fight terrorism and instead chosen to employ a comprehensive array of diplomatic, intelligence, military, and law enforcement approaches. Doing so might have encouraged more of our allies to stand by our side. It might also have put America on a better footing to sustain its efforts for what promises to be a generational struggle against terrorism.

The President might grouch that hindsight is a wonderful thing, but to do that, he must overlook the fact that had he been willing to take a few ladles from the punchbowl of bipartisanship a little sooner in the evening, he would have found himself in conversation with any number of people willing to offer that revelation to him; even, in fact, before the fighting started.

Still, we live in an age where you must eat your own dogfood and keep smiling. With a big tip of the hat to SpareRoom, consider this truly wretched instance of life in the modern salt mines.

Bank of America merged with MBNA at the start of this year which strengthened their position, apparently, as the largest issuer of credit cards in the U.S. Well, you know what a merger means - plenty of meetings and conferences and cheerleading sessions and getting-to-know-you presentations. Inevitably, someone decides to sing a song. A U2 song. Adapted.

Watch the clip and see if you can get through the whole thing without covering your eyes. I could not. Dear God.

One commenter at Gawker captured the essence of the thing nicely:

These corporate brainwashing festivals were the worst part of my corporate career. And there was always someone really talented at singing, video production, comedy or poetry who did something like this with their talent. It always made me sick and this video is no exception. I have never been more proud to be out of the corporate world.

The one thing I'm waiting to find out is precisely who arranged what. Are these authentic employees who happen to be pretty good at putting on a song and remembering every line of their ghastly, but technically well-crafted, lyrics? Or could they be...hired guns in costume?

I smell something fishy here, and if it hadn't already been coined and given another meaning I'd say a good word to describe the whole disturbing business might be: starkish.

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