Snarky Behavior

Entries tagged as ‘snarky behavior’

The Power to Change

January 13, 2008 · 6 Comments

With all of the attention being paid to the presidential elections, it is easy to be misled into thinking that big problems can be solved by big institutions.

The reality is that the majority of problems that we face as Americans (an as human beings) are the result of individual decisions played out in the aggregate.  As Kant observes, the fundamental flaw of human nature, from which all other flaws flow, is the tendency of the individual to make exceptions for himself to rules (or norms) he expects others to observe.

We suffer collectively because we recognize that the efforts of a single individual to reform is insignificant if the masses do not also follow suit.  Many times, we become so pessimistic of others that we lower our expectations of ourselves.  We then put our hopes in large, sweeping, institutional efforts.

The game theory behind these rationales justify a status quo that is unacceptable.  It absolves the individual from personal responsibility to do what he or she can to make the world better.

Part of the reason I blog (I think) is that I like to believe that individual actors who are not yet embedded into institutional systems of power still have the capacity to drive progressive change by pushing forward normative arguments.
Our “spheres of influence” may be small, but opinions and attitudes are shaped based on the ties of interpersonal relationships.  The stronger the bond, the more pervasive the idea.  When integrated within established social networks, good ideas can spread like wildfire.

My (re)commitment to this blog, and to myself, is to act as an agent of change.  I want to identify and discuss problems that I can play a part in resolving, in my own small way.  I want to be an optimist of myself, because in the end I’m the only person I have direct influence over.

For me, this is the nuanced definition of “change” that Obama represents.  His soaring rhetoric asks us to raise our expectations of ourselves.  He carries Kennedy’s “Ask Not” torch into the new century.

There are too many people waiting for him to fail, to not be able to deliver on what he promises.

But hope and inspiration in politics are much like consumer confidence in economics.  If the consumer believes there will be a recession, he will stop spending, and there will be a recession.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If the voter believes our country holds the capacity to do better, he will act better.  And we will DO better, collectively, as a result.

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Writer’s Block

November 12, 2007 · 1 Comment

I’ve tried writing a few things recently that haven’t amounted to much.  Is this is the beginning of the end of the blog?  Not sure, but I’m going to stop pressing and wait until the words flow naturally.

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Quotes for the Day: Fusion Nietzche

October 17, 2007 · 2 Comments

Quotes for the Day: When I’m too lazy or busy to write anything so I let smarter people speak on my behalf.

“Every time you masturbate… God is dead.”

–Friedrich Nietszche

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Snarky Behavior Round-up

September 6, 2007 · Leave a Comment

Because I’m worn out and might be having an awful reaction to a measles, mumps and rubella shot, [damn you German Measles!], I’m not much in the mood for extensive writing. Please enjoy my top five posts, based on page views:

1. Doing Good vs Doing Well– On the life decisions we negotiate for ourselves.

2. Snarky Heuristics: Throwing a House Party – Some pitfalls to avoid when throwing a house party.

3. Anyone in New York Need a Roommate? Sung to the Simpsons’ version of Mary Poppins.

4. Save Wild Rivers! The waterpark to rule all waterparks.

5. Dropping Knowledge: Shockers of the World — Hilarious reference chart for the various versions of “The Shocker.”

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Looks Like I’ll Fit Right In!

August 31, 2007 · 5 Comments

Yesterday we had a reception for incoming students (beer provided! Hooray for private schools!) and I signed up to be a contributing writer for The Morningside Post. (More to come on that front as it develops.)

I didn’t get a chance to meet with the student group that puts on an end of the year production called Follies, but given its snarky irreverancy targeted toward points of authority (see my latest post on financial aid), the group seems right up my alley. From Ivygate:

This time the story is set at Columbia University’s School of International and
Public Affairs, an institution that we imagine buys red tape by the mile. These
are students training to be parts of bureaucratic machinery. Navigating the
school’s rigid hierarchy, financial aid office, and shoddy advising system –
that’s just part of your education! At the very least, a few students saw enough
similarity between their school and the existential mudpit of The Office to
write and shoot their own remarkably faithful remake. It’s got the same
characters as the NBC version, only everyone is Columbia-fied: Michael Scott
burns time surfing J Date. Dwight denies students financial aid. The deans award
fellowships by picking out the cutest applicants’ photos and throwing darts at
the finalists to determine the winner. It’s worth a gander, but you’ll have to
fill out a permission request first.

This is fantastic! Al, clearly your advice to “be myself, but not FULLY myself” was misguided.

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Snarky Heuristics: Listing an Apartment on Craigslist

August 15, 2007 · 2 Comments

Snarky Heuristics: Where I snarkily define rules of thumb for social situations and occassions.

I probably won’t give this subject the manifesto it deserves because I’m so stressed out actually trying to find a room to rent. But there needs to be an ettiquette for people listing a room on Craig’s List, and the following would be a good start:

1. The Post Title
These are the things I need to know up front: Price, Room Size, Cross-streets. That’s it. I don’t need to know ROOMMATE NEEDED. Believe it or not, dumbass, that was implied when I entered the forum on “rooms & shares.”

Also… if you’re only looking for a certain type of person (i.e. gay or female, i.e. not me), SAY SO UP FRONT. There’s nothing worse than reading through 400 words, imagining myself living in some fantastic apartment on the Upper West Side, and then stumbling upon “females only please.” Or getting hot and bothered about a great deal in Harlem only to find out that the two guys are looking for a Tom Cruise to their Feathers and Cadillac.

2. If you’re charging over $1000, I’m going to need to see a photo of the room
I’m sorry, if you can afford to pay $1000 month for rent, you undoubtedly either a.) own a digital camera or b.) know someone who does. Please excuse me if I don’t take your word on the “FANTASTIC, SUNNY ROOM! GREAT DEAL IN UP-IN-COMING NEIGHBORHOOD!” I don’t want to waste my time inspecting your closet in the heart of the heroin traders market. And if you’ve got $25, why not try Apartment Viewer ? (Shameless plug for get-rich-quick scheme #217).

3. Pidgin English is unacceptable
Hey, I understand that this is an apartment listing, and you might feel inclined to speak in some kind of code. But remember… this isn’t the New York Times classifieds… it’s Craigslist! As in, you’re listing your apartment for free! As in, instead of writing 1 BR, SWM, AC, TV, W/D, DM, prft for CU/NYU/CC sdt, you can actualy write in a common language that, you know, people understand!

4. Throw me a bone
Hey, so you’re looking for a male roommate ? Cool, that could totally be me! (You like puppies??? I like puppies!!!) Except that when I call you, and I find out that you’re an 84 year old, kosher, parapalegic, teetotling insomniac with 3 cats, and realize I’d probably not be the best fit. Since I’m allergic and all. To old people.

5. Is your room REALLY for rent?
Here’s the thing about Craigslist… you’re not pissing in the wind. Within 15 minutes of making a listing, you’re going to get 25 responses minimum, as long as you’re not some sketchy guy offering a room for “female companionship” (and even in that case, I’m assuming people don’t respond. But people are weird).

Point being, if you’re listing your apartment, make sure it’s available. Please don’t make me call and listen to you hem and haw about “well my roommate MIGHT be leaving August 25th, I’m not sure yet.” If I had a dollar for everytime I heard that, at this point, I’d be BUYING my own place.

6. Tell me what you’re looking for
And don’t give me the standard “quiet, considerate, tidy, respectful, etc.” unless those are absolute deal breakers. Hey, I’m accomodating. I’m an asexual student $50k in debt, I won’t own enough personal items to be messy, and I’m going to play the part of desperate sychophant until I can secure a place to live. Giving me standard boilerplate for what’s rudimentarily expected of ANY roommate doesn’t give me any insight into how compatible we might actually be.

Look, it’s your place: you hold all of the power, and you should be discriminating about who you consider to live with. It saves us both a heck of a lot of time if we lay out mutual expectations up front.

7. Give me a timeframe and some details
If I’m e-mailing you about a place, chances are I’m e-mailing 50 other people about their places, too. So if you call/e-mail back and leave a message “about the apartment” with only your name and number, I’m sorry but I’m going to have no idea whether you were or . Also, when is the preferred move-in day? When are you available to show the place? How long is the terms of the lease? These are all essential details that again, will help you screen out the Mongolian hordes from banging down the firewalls of your inbox.

8. Take down your posting when you find a roommate
Ugh. Don’t get me started… don’t even get me started.

So again, this is not a comprehensive manifesto, but certainly a good start. And if anyone has a room for me, please leave a comment! I’m not normally this big of an a-hole, I promise. :)

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Back in the Day: Snack Line Scamps

August 8, 2007 · 2 Comments

Back in the Day: Where I post articles I wrote in high school to give a glimpse of the formative development of my snark.

Snack Line Scamps
Cutting in Line: You know who you are, you bastards.
By Jon Host, Staff Writer

University High School has a problem. I have watched this problem escalate, unabated over the past four years. Apparently, some of us are to cool to stand in a designated and organized manner in order to enter the snack line. We do not see the necessity to wait an extended time period. The time constraints of snack demand that we cut in front of people who are either too stupid to cut in line themselves, or too socially inept to be stood behind. We have even gone to the extent of reincarnating a modernist version of Southern Segregation. Two lines now exist: one for those who may cut, and one for those who may wait.

At one point in my life, I succumbed to the frustration; I too began to cut in line. I had grown tired of waiting patiently in line, finding myself being pushed further and further behind. When I finally reached near the front, I found my personal space invaded, as backpacks and elbows flooded my immediate field of vision. I got a better understanding of what body odor not only smelled, but felt like. By this point, I had lost all appetite—an ironic coincidence, as the only food items not yet ravaged were the pickle (you know the one) and an apple with ranch dressing spilled all over it. And so I began to cut. I started small, cutting in front of friends and freshman.

However, gradually I developed the audacity to cut in front of anyone smaller than myself, outright. I cut as if it were a natural right. I’m not proud of this time in my life, believe me. I had sacrificed my civility for a daily hash brown. I felt like Pinocchio, watching myself and all of my friends turn into asses. However, unlike Pinocchio, I was a real boy.

People who cut in line should be ashamed of themselves. Let me assure you, you’re not special. This applies to a very large percentage of the school population. Many of you, like myself, found yourself forced into cutting as there was no other viable alternative available to expediently entering the snack line. You might even feel guilt as you cut, knowing that you are not only contributing to but also perpetuating the problem. It will not resolve itself. The solution must begin with the conviction of the individual.

I have reformed. I have repented, and I have reformed. No longer will you see me slipping in between those rusted, metal bars. I now preach to the sinners, in the sense that I deliver numerous expletives in their direction, and encourage others of you out there to do the same. Help them realize salvation. I know that you suffer this degrading abuse in silence, resorting to ineffectual looks of scorn or contempt. Let your voice be heard! In the words of the great David J. Huang (Sr.), “tell those (expletive)s to, like, stop.”

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Introducing "Friends of Mine"

August 1, 2007 · 2 Comments

Megan, the president of my blog’s fan club, recently told me that my “blog-roll” of friends is lame, because most of them don’t post anymore.

I insist that it’s not lame, because they’re actually my friends. Like, I know them in real life. And maybe by introducing them, it’ll be a swift kick to get them to start writing again [cough, cough, prostate check].

The Cynic (Series)
“The Cynic” is a series of graphic comics written and illustrated by my previously mentioned friend from high-school, Vicky.

She’s got a Bill Watterson brand of story-lines that I love, and her character sketches are really sharp. Vicky is also a cross-over, in that she can explore both sides of the social/geeky divide represented by UCLA’s north and south campuses.

Emotional Diarrhea

“Emotional Diarrhea” is the blog of my roommate Ross. He had what I consider to be a brilliant idea… basically a twitterized live-journal, posting the highlight of his every day. He’s such an active and random guy that most of the posts are quite hilarious (see: viz.).


This is a new venture for my friend Adosh, and he’s doing quite well for himself. His blog started as a travel journal through Argentina, Ecuador and Chile, but he’s decided to keep writing– much to my delight, as he cracks me up regularly. We’ll see how long he lasts before he goes to Shark School at UMinny.

Jews Gone Wild

Another travel blog of my buddy Misha, who recently fulfilled his birth-right and visited the holy-land with a group of obnoxious American tourists. I haven’t discussed with him his plans for the future, but I’d like it if he’d transition his blog into some serious policy analysis, since he’s a super smart guy, pursuing permanent head damage in Economics at Stanford.

Neuroethics & Law Blog (Murphy)

Speaking of super smart people at Stanford, my dear friend Emily Murphy is a post-doc in Neuroethics in (East) Palo Alto. She’s a contributor to this blog, and the subject matter is mostly way over my head…or is it in my head??? I’ll let you think on that.

Paul in Ecuador

Brother Paul is the man– a fellow OCer out in the bush for Peace Corps. His storytelling skills are amazing, his humor endearing, and his blog a must-read for anyone who wants a cross-section of the Peace Corps experience in Latin America.

Placido Flamingo’s Apologia

Placido Flamingo is twice my snark, but half as filling. POST MORE PLEASE. And no selling out with videos I send you, ’tis cheating.

Rohit’s Realm

Rohit’s Realm is a special place… I’ve been a longtime reader of his and truth be told it was his consistency and thought provocation that inspired me to try this on my own. Rohit has a unique ability to apply corporate and academic principles and observations to everyday social situations. He could write a hand-book to replace “Murphy’s Laws,” since those are all outdated anyway.

The Prime Minister has a Camera

Prime Minister Chu’s photo blog. Some of her pics from Mumbai, India really remind me of Havana, Cuba. Definitely worth a browse… and an UPDATE.

That’s all I’ve got. If you’re my real friend and you’d like me to add you to my blog-roll, I’d be much obliged.

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Point, Counterpoint: Donating My Seed, Son

July 30, 2007 · 3 Comments

Point, Counterpoint: Where I internally argue two sides of a debate and determine a winner.

[First, housekeeping.] I’ve finally been blogging long enough where I can repeat some of the frameworks I’ve created for myself: Point, counterpoint; Reading Through the Lines; Snarky Heuristics; etc. I’ve also asked my friend Vicky to consider doing some graphic comics on a fairly regular basis… her stuff is really good, but she’s fallen off the horse because, I assume, she “does important things with her life” (yeah Vicky, I called you out). And I might start doing some book reviews (a la Rohit) to supplement the Amazon recommendations I’ve created in the side-bar to the right.

This week’s Point, Counterpoint is on a timely topic. In the life of every American boy, there are exactly two compulsory decisions he must make: whether or not to sign up for selective service (or move to Canada), and whether or not to donate his sperm, to make a quick buck.

The grounds on which the latter decision is made are based on the four following factors: financial desperateness (25%); degree of delusional self-rationalization (15%); likelihood of recognizing off-spring in future (35%); and sexual behavior trade-offs (25%):

Financial Desperateness: Usually the “gateway factor,” financial desperateness is what turns a fanciful day-dream into a cup-in-hand reality. It varies for each individual, and like religion, it’s a question one can only answer for oneself.

In my current situation, after two years of living the single/low rent/no kids lifestyle, I now find myself transitioning to full-on “starving student mode.” This is accompanied by a tightening of the chest, a severe drop in weight, and multiple desperate get-rich quick schemes (see: Example A., “Apartment Viewer.”)

So am I financially desperate? Clearly. 25 Points, Pro-Donation.

Degree of delusional self-rationalization: As in, degree to which you tell yourself, “you know, I could really help someone out there.” There could be some lesbian couple, or some infertile husband, who would really, genuinely like to raise the end-product of my cowpers- covered DNA.

Look, on paper, I’m a fairly attractive genetic specimen. I went to good schools, have high test scores, am fairly tall, healthy, etc. Without sounding too cocky, I gotta think that of the kinds of people donating sperm for money, I’d be in the 90th percentile of worthwhile donors. (Which is another way of saying: I’d probably medal in the Crack-head Olympics).

So that’s the line you sell yourself. “I can really help someone here!” What I fail to realize, of course, is that the outcome of any zygote initiated by one of my egg-seekers is the following:

I don’t want that on my conscience. 15 Points, Anti-Donation.

Likelihood of Recognizing Offspring in the Future- Not to sound too callous here, but if the above child manages to survive a brutal elementary school experience while being raised by two mommies, I don’t want him knocking on my door in 15 years seeking a paternal role-model. And I certainly don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing double-takes on kids who look like they might have spawned from my test-tube/turkey baster. 35 Points, Anti-Donation.

Sexual Behavior Trade-Offs- Sperm donation requires donors to “ abstain from sex or masturbation for three days’ before each donation so that sperm numbers build up to a maximum.”

Not even worth it. 25 points, Anti-Donation.

Final Tally: 75 Points, Anti-Donation. Which is why I’ve never done it. But, pending a precipitous decline in sexual appetite, or a convincing self-argument, the possibility remains that I could be at the local sperm bank in the not-to-distant future. Watch out now!

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Updated Labels

July 30, 2007 · Leave a Comment

I took the time this morning to thoroughly update all of my labels, including tagging the Lou Dobbs post as “douche-bags.” (Thank you, Ross).

“Comedy” is my must utilized tag, and I’m comfortable with that. If you’re a new reader, make sure to check out the archives. And walk it out.

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