Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Posts Tagged ‘writing

Ignored On Blog, Man Bets On Being Ignored By Much Bigger Audience On New Site

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PoT AnalyticsTired of having his efforts to attract lucrative attention via a WordPress blog come to naught, Thag, the author of Mightier Than The Pen, has decided to move some of his niche material to a new site in hopes that a bigger, more passionate readership can ignore him there.

Over the last several years, Thag has devoted only a small amount of attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though many of his acquaintances and family members harbor strong feelings about it. The material covering Israel or loosely Jewish themes amounted to perhaps 5% of his output, but tended to generate the posts with the most page views, the number of which would still be laughably short of the traffic necessary to make the blog a financial success.

Thag therefore decided to spin off the Israel content into a separate site, preoccupiedterritory.com, where he could find a new niche crowd of potential readers not to give him the time of day. PreOccupiedTerritory even has a WordPress theme that costs actual money, and technical flexibility and control not available on the free blogging platform. Thag hopes the investment will pay off in increased numbers of people across the world overlooking his material, numbers that will be reflected in a 1000% increase in the advertising revenue he currently enjoys.

“The cool part about that is I get to choose whatever percentage I want to for that figure,” says Thag, “and it will still be true.”

Though fully operational for less than a few weeks so far, the new site has already attracted an exciting new array, and higher class of, spam comment submissions. “I used to get the same solicitations for SEO stuff and sports jerseys,” Thag recalled. “But on PreOccupiedTerritory I now get random phrases from technical manuals and philosophical treatises, so I know I’m in better company with the new site.” He has yet to determine whether to aim even higher, where the spam bots might offer material on historical analysis or astrophysics.

In contrast to Mightier Than The Pen, PreOccupiedTerritory welcomes submissions from readers, both for article content and tag lines. That way, Thag’s nonexistent readers can engage more deeply in their nonexistent literary relationship with him, a prospect everyone might find rewarding if there were anything to feel rewarded about.

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Written by Thag

February 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Report: You’ll Never Make It As A Writer

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suicideNew York, January 29 – An analysis of the data available to date indicates that you have no hope of earning a living as a writer, let alone breaking into the big-time.

A new study that interpreted the information on the writing field, your talent, available opportunities for exposure, and competition from established or moneyed entities led the researchers to conclude that not only will your efforts to establish a career  as a blogger fail, they will do so in such a fashion you will be continually confronted with doubts regarding your worth and identity. You might be able to console yourself with the notion that at least the fruits of your creative impulses have been preserved for posterity, but that will prove cold comfort in the face of the overwhelming futility of your writing enterprise and the long odds of future generations caring at all.

Although the researchers recommend that you immediately cease pouring such time and energy into a fruitless pursuit, they also found that you would not heed such advice, and would proceed to double down on that investment, digging yourself into an ever-deepening cycle of disappointment, redoubled efforts, frustration, and self-doubt.

“There’s no way anybody can compete with the big boys for the online eyeballs,” said Arthur Buzzfeed, the lead researcher. “The established media companies can afford to spend big on exposure, whereas small-time operators can hope for, at best, an occasional item that makes the rounds on social media before fading away.” As a result, says Buzzfeed, your efforts will be stymied, but not in such an immediately convincing way that you will be prompted to pursue other, actually productive, outlets.

Social media expert Mark Zuckerberg agreed that the fate awaiting you involves pathetic stretches of time during which you will repeatedly refresh the browser tab that shows your visitor stats, hoping in vain for an uptick in traffic. “Alternatively, those periods will be spent staring at the Google Analytics real-time traffic monitor, with the horror and dread building as the minutes tick by and the big, black zero remains on the screen.”

According to Buzzfeed, that mix of negative emotions will be multiplied by the petty frustrations that confront all users, such as spotty internet connectivity: with every interruption of connectivity you will become convinced that you are missing some redeeming spike in visitor stats, “which will culminate in the crushing realization, when the wifi signal returns, that no one has been interested the whole time,” he explained.

At press time, you were laughing at this article and thinking how well it applied to several other people you know, but definitely not to you.

Written by Thag

January 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Austrians Running Out Of Ways To Fake Contrition Over Nazi Past

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250px-MauthausenCrematorium

Crematorium ovens at Mauthausen

Vienna (AP) – When the Vienna Philharmonic posthumously stripped several Nazis of honors it had conferred upon them in the 1940s, members of the organization’s board wondered both why they hadn’t thought of the idea earlier, and what else they could still do to pretend they regret their complicity in the Holocaust.

The popular perception of the Third Reich coercing a weak Austria into the 1938 Anschluss has long held sway, but remains at odds with the historical record of cheering crowds and enthusiastic Austrian participation in all things Nazi, including the persecution, deportation, and murder of Jews. Unlike Germany, which the world saw as bearing direct responsibility for the Second World War and the Holocaust, Austria was viewed, especially during the Cold War, as forced to do Hitler’s bidding, though Hitler himself was Austrian; he was raised in Linz.

Austrians now worry that as the last remaining Nazi war criminals die off after living in the country unmolested for nearly seven decades, they will lose one of the few remaining vehicles though which to feign horror and remorse: each time the quiet life of a former Nazi official or death camp guard would come to light, Austria would erupt in a predictable chorus of mea culpas; they were shocked, just shocked, that such a monster could be allowed to dwell in their midst.

While Germany – first only West Germany, and then, after reunification in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the eastern part – has never ceased demonstrating recognition of the moral and historical burden it bears, Austria has largely lacked the impetus to engage in any such internal reckoning, and shows no sign of considering any. Austrian claims that Nazism and the Holocaust were essentially German enterprises fell on willing ears as the West sought ways to stem the tide of Soviet Communism in Eastern Europe. The postwar generation of Austrians eagerly promoted the Sound of Music version of history, in which Austria struggled mightily to assert its cultural independence from the yawning maw of Nazi Germany.

The Austrian Ministry of Education is considering a program that would train students in the proper methods of paying lip service to Holocaust commemoration and expiation. Currently, only licensed tour guides – such as those taking foreigners on trips to such locales as the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp complex – are formally trained to feign remorse that such atrocities could take place on Austrian soil.

Written by Thag

December 24, 2013 at 11:38 am

Correspondent On Diet Repeatedly Lapses Into Food Reverie While Reporting

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cheesecakeCoral Gables, FL (AP) – Ever since she began a restrictive diet last month, Michelle Cowan, a correspondent for the Associated Press, has been unable to complete a sentence in her article submissions without lapsing into fantasies involving luscious chocolate desserts and other decadent gustatory experiences.

The reporter, 38, finally resolved over the summer to do something about the unsightly extra adipose tissue accumulating around her midsection, resembling in texture a brioche before it has been placed in the oven and baked to fluffy, buttery perfection. So she embarked on a strict regimen limiting her caloric intake to no more than 1500 calories in any 24-hour period, hoping to shed the extra weight within a reasonable amount of time and not be constantly consumed by unfulfilled thoughts of creamy, sumptuous cheesecake with a subtle but cinnamony graham cracker crust.

pb cupsInitially, Cowan’s resolve and the novelty of the effort combined to keep her appetite and imagination in check, but within three days of lower caloric intake, her cravings for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or fresh, crisp french fries became overpowering. Her editor and coworkers noticed that every statement, irrespective of its relevance to the subject at hand, included an unnecessarily lengthy exploration of a memorable baked macaroni and cheese dish or homemade schnitzel right from the skillet, for example.

Within a week, the phenomenon had crept into Cowan’s written work, as well, at first manifesting as out-of-place analogies to chocolate-covered pretzels or a croissant. Her editors quickly noticed that the analogies to comfort food slipped into Cowan’s sentences as smoothly as warm butterscotch pudding down a waiting throat. The obsession began affecting others in the newsroom, spreading so quickly that virtually the entire staff of writers found themselves employing metaphors of toll house cookies, garlic-roasted potatoes, and, in the case of the sportswriters, wine-and-herb tilapia sizzling in the pan.

gnocchiManaging Editor Mark Mywords attempted to address the problem directly by sending out a group e-mail with a reminder of certain style policies, but was drowned out as reporters and interns shared recipes for teriyaki beef and gnocchi with tomato cream sauce. He followed up with a disciplinary meeting for several egregious offenders, at which Cowan and fellow correspondent Samantha Drakes continued to turn every line of conversation into a discussion of Entenmann’s crumb-topped donuts.

This is not the first time a journalism outfit has been compromised by thoughts of garlicky chicken soup with fluffy dumplings. A similar development occurred at the Washington Post in 1994, the year this reporter discovered a deli with a stacked corned-beef-on-rye to make even the most die-hard vegan salivate. The New York Times suffered the same fate in 1971 and 1973, when editor A. M. Rosenthal brought in leftovers from a family member’s Bar Mitzva celebration, and reporters were stuffing themselves on cream cheese rugelach for weeks.

At press time, this reporter was still ravenously desirous of a pastrami burger.

Written by Thag

September 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Exclusive: The 2020 Democratic Platform

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Democratic donkeyWashington, DC (AP) – The Associated Press has obtained an advance copy of the official positions to be endorsed in the 2020 Presidential and Congressional elections by the Democratic Party. The proposed platform includes a number of far-reaching legislative objectives:

  • All firearms must be surrendered as part of voter registration.
  • Social Security, Medicare, and other federal benefits will be given only to same-sex couples.
  • Mandatory abortions after 22 weeks.
  • The right to vote and run for office will be revoked from US citizens and granted only to illegal immigrants.
  • Mandatory Spanish-language instruction for all schoolchildren to begin immediately; by 2030, all official government communication and forms must be conducted or issued in Spanish only.
  • States that wish to receive federal funds as part of their budgets must agree to destroy one Christian church every week.
  • Stop-and-Frisk to focus only on white people.
  • Compulsory participation in Gay Pride events for everyone 18 or older.
  • Elementary school curricula to include mandatory component on the benefits of Communism.
  • Shariah law to be applied in all US appellate courts.
  • Motion pictures and televised entertainment will be required to depict whites as evil and all other races as oppressed yet virtuous.
  • All physicians required to prescribe marijuana for all patients.
  • Deficit spending to be made compulsory at all levels of federal, state, and local government, and in households numbering at least one (1) person.
  • Limits removed on number of residency permits issued to those arriving from Mexico.
  • United Nations to be granted control of US armed forces deployed abroad.
  • Schools required to distribute condoms to all students daily.
  • Mandatory sex education classes to include mandatory sex.
  • Tax rates to increase to 231% for anyone who ever reported capital gains.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution to be declared hate group, outlawed, its members arrested and all contributors fined.
  • September 11 to be declared Protect Muslims Day.

Written by Thag

September 28, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Supreme Court Upholds Death Penalty For Loud Cellphone User

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"Actually, this is too good for him," wrote Justice Kagan. normally an opponent of the death penalty.

“Actually, this is too good for him,” wrote Justice Kagan. normally an opponent of the death penalty.

Washington, DC (AP) – In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court validated an execution sentence for a Long Island man convicted of talking loudly on his cellphone during a train commute into Manhattan two years ago.

Irving Whitaker, 42, of Lakeview, boarded the 7:40 AM train to Jamaica, Queens on a Tuesday morning in July 2011. Within minutes of displaying his ticket for the conductor, Whitaker produced a mobile phone and began conversing loudly with a succession of interlocutors, repeatedly ignoring fellow commuters’ admonitions and requests to either reduce his volume or desist from talking. While some passengers managed to move to other cars, others on the increasingly crowded train were forced to remain in the same car as Whitaker. Word of one passenger’s misbehavior reached the conductor, but the latter was unable to negotiate the tide of commuters fleeing Whitaker’s company in order to reach the offender to remedy the situation.

As the awkwardness and unpleasantness in Whitaker’s car reached its peak, dozens of passengers rushed to get out as fast as they could at Jamaica, the next stop. Two platform bystanders were killed in the stampede and another six were fatally mauled as they were forced in front of an oncoming train on the facing track. A further twenty were injured.

Whitaker pleaded not guilty to eight charges of manslaughter, contending that he was not forcing anyone to leave; they could simply ignore his conversations as they did one another every minute of every commute. The jury was unmoved, however, and found Whitaker guilty on all counts. State Supreme Court Judge Fred Bodoff cited the defendant’s unrepentant attitude in sentencing Whitaker beyond that which state law provides, which is a maximum of 20 years for manslaughter. Bodoff noted other aggravating aspects of the defendant’s behavior, such as a tendency to laugh nervously and nasally at every single one of his own statements, and handed down a sentence of death by electric chair.

Last year a federal appeals court ruled that although the judge had not adhered to the mandatory sentencing guidelines, the circumstances of the case justified this exception. The appeals court decision focused on Whitaker’s repeated, lengthy use of “Uhhhhhhhh,” before each phrase.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case several months ago, and closing arguments were delivered in August. In a rare move, each justice elected to write a separate decision. Justices Bader-Ginsburg and Scalia found the defendant’s actions unconscionable enough in themselves to validate the death penalty, while Justices Sotomayor and Alito cited Whitaker’s overuse of, “bizarre,” “whaaaaaat?” and “I’m tellin’ ya.” Justices Kennedy, Roberts, and Kagan also mentioned the content of the defendant’s discourse, which never deviated from celebrity gossip; the continuing woes of the New York Jets football franchise and how to fix them, as if he possesses some special knowledge and expertise; and the unnecessarily salacious details of the very public affair that his secretary was having with the head of some other department at work. Justice Thomas recused himself, as he owns a significant number of shares of several telecommunications companies.

New York State is expected to finally execute Whitaker in December, barring a pardon from Governor Andrew Cuomo. A spokesman for the governor was quoted today as saying Mr. Cuomo would sooner walk on his lips through a sewage treatment plant than grant such a pardon.

Written by Thag

September 23, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Parent Scientists Isolate Ideal Bedtime

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Either a health risk or a manifest demonstration of  life lived correctly.

Either a health risk or a manifest demonstration of life lived correctly.

Cambridge, MA (AP) – Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced the results of a multi-year effort to define the ideal hour at which children should be put to bed, including confirmation of a long-held assumption that a “golden window” exists during which children who cooperate with parental bedtime directives will enjoy happier, healthier lives.

A team consisting of thirty-five researchers across the country who are also parents of young children examined data regarding a cohort of 70 youths from the ages of six months to eleven years. They found that the best time for children to be tucked into bed was in the range of 6:45 pm and 7:30 pm, and even earlier if Mom or Dad had something special planned just for the two of them. The researchers published their findings in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the article, the benefits of adhering to this bedtime scheme include, but are not limited to: more frequent and more plentiful desserts; fewer occasions for parent-administered discipline; an easier time getting ready for school in the morning; more generous allowance; and a significantly decreased likelihood of getting grounded.

“This study essentially corroborates everything we’ve been saying for a long time,” said Dr. I. Sedso, a Columbia University professor of physics and father of three who was not involved in the research. “Our experience,” she said, referring to the informal studies undertaken by colleagues with small children at home, “bears out that the household functions at peak efficiency when children have dinner at about 5:15, have a bath or shower, change into pajamas, brush teeth, and are ready for maybe a bedtime story and to be tucked in by 7 pm, 7:15 if a lice-combing is necessary,” she said in a telephone interview.

The study is the most recent in a series of MIT efforts to define and quantify various aspects of the parent-child dynamic. A report released in February noted the character-building benefits of taking out the garbage even when one has already removed one’s shoes, and the myriad positive effects on one’s long-term satisfaction inherent in keeping that racket down.

The research is not without its detractors. “We believe studies of this nature are a priori biased,” claims Houston-area ten-year-old Greg Niedermeyer. “They fail to account for the negative social impact that adhering to, for example, an early bedtime, exerts on the life of a typical schoolchild.” Niedermeyer also criticized an earlier study that found only positive outcomes for children who finished their vegetables, noting that only losers ate Brussels sprouts or beets in any form.

Niedermeyer pointed to a conflicting set of studies conducted over the last year by children at various elementary schools in Texas, Vermont, Indiana, and Florida, which found a significant correlation between later bedtimes and freer access to candy. “It’s clear that from a happiness point of view, liberal parental attitudes are key. The studies indicating otherwise suffer from a prejudiced set of assumptions, among them that whatever a parent wants is ipso facto desirable.”

Adult researchers, in turn, have assailed the schoolchildren’s research as agenda-driven, and noted that it was all underwritten by manufacturers of unnecessarily sweet breakfast cereals and of violent video games masquerading as educational tools.

Written by Thag

September 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm