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Good Marketing

It only takes one good marketing campaign to turn a fly-by-night charlatan into an overnight millionaire. Regardless of how crappy the product may be, Good Marketing has helped sell billions of useless items to millions of gullible consumers for hundreds of years.

Case in point: Select Comfort Mattresses

Probably the biggest scam to enter the American bedroom since Enzyte, Select Comfort started bombarding the airwaves with advertisements back in the early nineties. Waterbeds had recently lost their luster, and the novelty bed market was wide open for a new player. Enter: the Sleep Number Adjustable Mattress.

Nevermind the fact that earlier models of the mattress are prone to mold and that they don’t last nearly as long as the company claims, let’s just focus on the fact that they are the least comfortable things you will ever rest your back on. Want to know why? Because it’s a goddamn air mattress.

People used to buy twenty-dollar air mattresses for camping until they realized it was almost more comfortable to sleep on the hardened earth. Even if you add an additional air chamber and slap a pillow-top on the thing, the support still sucks and the basic principles of displacement still apply, meaning you will flop and roll into the middle of the mattress the second your bedmate gets up to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

So then how has Select Comfort managed to sell hundreds of thousands of basic-model air mattresses at hundreds of dollars a pop? Enter: Good Marketing.

When the Bionic Woman goes on TV and tells you that she’s finally getting some restorative sleep after all these years, people apparently listen. Lindsay Wagner’s got a face you can trust and robotic strength. Why wouldn’t she be a sleep expert, too? Then all they had to do was plop the mattress down in the middle of a mall food court and point a TV camera at it. Suddenly the shopping denizens were crawling out of the woodwork, willing to say anything if it would get them on television. Record all that and play it ad-nauseum during the cheapest late-night slots you can afford and kaboom: you’ve made uncomfortable air mattresses respectable again through sheer repetitive hypnosis.

Oh, and you know how they claim to cost less than a conventional matress? No shit. It better. It’s an air mattress. It’s made of air.

Good Marketing is effing awesome.

The Simpsons

When the Simpsons first went on the air over 20 years ago, it wasn’t exactly a smash hit, but FOX decided to move it to Thursday nights to compete against NBC. It was a bold move. All the press was wondering how a silly animated show featuring yellow goons with foul mouths would ever compete against a comedy legend like Bill Cosby.

Seems like they fared pretty well. No offense to the Huxtables.

But the Simpsons have had their ups and downs. In fact, they’ve had entire down seasons. And yes, it might seem like they should probably be nearing the end of their miraculous run anytime now. But for anyone who’s ever watched The Simpsons, all the lame episodes and bad seasons can’t ever erase that one little random gag that sticks in your head for decades. Case in point: BBBQ.

It’s irrelevant to the plot and it didn’t exactly build upon the Simpsons mythology in any significant way, and yet those 15 seconds can define an entire twenty-year series for millions of Americans. Almost everyone has a Simpsons moment like BBBQ that they will never forget, because there are literally thousands of them.

The Simpsons are effing awesome.

Now that the seminal 70’s musical Grease is being run ad-nauseum on ABC Family Channel and Summer Lovin’ has been remixed for the dance floor of every wedding reception you’ve ever been to, people seem to have forgotten that the movie is fairy subversive when it comes to modern morality and social morays.

“Subversive” be damned; it’s downright hedonistic.

If you remove all the upbeat song and dance numbers and then boil the plot down to its most basic elements, you’re left with something like the following:

SlutIn a 50’s era highschool, a band of society-spurning renegade teenagers and their group of kept women have unprotected sex, stage dangerous automobile races, and engage in underage drinking with utter abandon. As one teenager comes to terms with her own teenage pregnancy, another outcast drops out of school amidst confusion and indifference about her lackluster future. Yet another must deal with the advances of a pedophile television host with a dangerously aggressive sense of entitlement. The boys callously ruin reputations by spreading tawdry rumors about sexual conquests that never happened (Summer Lovin’, indeed), while the girls deride each other with cruel disdain. And in the midst of all of this depravity, all eyes are on Sandra Dee, a wholesome outsider who must shed her comfortable skin by changing her appearance, subverting her morals, suppressing her own personality, and hyper-sexualizing her persona in a desperate attempt to keep the man she thinks she loves.

Kids, get the popcorn!

But if you look at it through slightly more forgiving eyes, Grease depicts real issues of real teenagers that most movies gloss over with saccharine sentimentality and unrealistically altruistic outcomes. Grease is different. The teenagers act like teenagers and learn lessons like teenagers and act like teen-aged idiots, and in the end the outcome does not exactly teach the lessons that your mama wants you to learn. By adding in song and dance numbers, Grease also gets the “wild, frivolous heyday of youth” aspect spot on as well. It’s all just a party to kids. It may seem goofy, but it’s probably one of the more realistic portrayals of stupid teenagers in all of film history.

And don’t feel sorry for Sandra Dee. Lord knows there are a lot of Betty-Sues and Sandra-Dees in the world — goody-two-shoe fuddy-duddies who are unable to let their hairs down. You’re only young once, and Sandy had some catching up to do. Good on her.

The morality of Grease is effing awesome.

Micro$oft

By now it seems as if the decades-old Apple vs. Microsoft/Mac vs. PC debate will rage on forever.

During the course of this 30-Years War, Apple has cleverly marketed itself as the browbeaten underdog that tirelessly creates the innovations which Microsoft steals, repackages, and distributes with the sole goal of maximum profit at the expense of quality, stability, and security.

And of course there is some truth to that.

Apple has definitely been a front-runner when it comes to innovation, some of which has been aped by Microsoft and other companies with embarrassing shamelessness, but the quality and stability difference between a Mac and PC has long since abated (if you even argue this one, you clearly haven’t used a PC in at least a decade). And since the technology of your hardware on either platform will be outdated within a few years anyway, do you really need it to be encased in expensive stainless steel?

But this post isn’t trying to influence your next laptop purchase. And it’s not about choosing sides. No, this post is about Microsoft. Greedy, evil, backstabbing, antitrust-busting Micro$oft.

Sexy Time

Seriously though, Microsoft isn’t the evil giant everyone makes it out to be. Especially if you’re comparing it directly to Apple, which is what people tend to do. So for the sake of nearing a truce, let’s do what they do in couples counseling and try a little role reversal. Let’s imagine a world where Apple owns the home computing market:

  • Laptops under $500 would be an absurd concept. The gold-plating alone (for the outlandishly-stylish casing) would cost more than that.
  • Forget your homebrew apps and your freewares and your piratebays. Without the dominant competition to force its hand, Apple’s OS is locked down to the point of quashing even the most clever and generous developer-hobbyists. On the plus side, your Mac will be riddled with viruses now that it’s the dominant platform for hackers. PC users would claim that this is because Apple is inherently less secure.
  • Your iTunes would never be DRM free now that Apple’s running the show. Bittorrent would definitely not get through their application screening process.
  • Billions of dollars would no longer be given to worldwide charities. Apple isn’t exactly known for its philanthropy.
  • 95% of the world’s computers are now under the control of Steve Jobs, who just laughs in the face of everyone who questions his random whims or gets on the wrong side of his vengeful grudges. If you thought Bill Gates was unscrupulous, he’s not nearly as threatening as the possibility of Steve Job’s unchecked megalomania and rampant control issues.
  • No right-click or useful controls. Everything would have just one big button.
  • No Flash. Okay, that one might be a genuine positive.
  • Even more Justin Long?

So yeah, those are all wild suppositions about an alternative universe that never existed, but the reality is that Microsoft’s relatively open position and encouragement toward outside developers has lead to some of the biggest software innovations and technology revolutions of our time. In spite of its anti-trust issues with Internet Explorer, the company’s willingness to license Windows to outside manufacturers has spurred hardware competition, making computers so cheap that over 80% of American households now own a computer and 92% of those homes have access to the internet. On top of that, you can add its unparalleled charitable giving. Yeah, it’s made a couple crappy operating systems and a bad browser or two, and yeah they could learn a lot about marketing and product design, but try to cut ‘em some slack, you silly hipster, you.

Microsoft is effing awesome.

Hoodie Humor

Sometime it’s just too much of an effort to have a personality, so you just gotta let your clothes do the heavy lifting. And only hoodies really have the versatility required for the job. Plus, they come in a wide variety of clever options:

Vaguely Political
Not sure what this implies, but surely it’s something profound.

Nostalgic
Something something pudding-pop something.

Mega-Nerdy
Live long and prosper, as long as you always have it zipped to the proper height.

Playful
All the neighborhood kids will think you’re a cool dad. All the neighborhood adults will think you’re mentally handicapped.

Ill-Advised
Nothing good can come of this.

Historical
You can play King every time you undress.

Nauseating
Would’ve saved Buffalo Bill a lot of trouble, though.

Esoteric
The people who understand will think you are the funniest production designer in the office.

Educational
But to get the full benefit you’d need to wear an undershirt with frog guts and half digested flies.

Creepy
Probably not the place you want people to think about putting their penis.

Clever
But won’t both sides always break even? That’s kinda pointless, unless you’re one of those “every one’s a winner!” types.

Over the Top
Maybe a little too Better-Off-Deadish to be taken seriously.

So give yourself a break and let your clothing do the talking.

Hoodie humor is effing awesome.

Stupid Teenagers

Stupid teenagers are the worst.

They truly understand next to nothing, yet they think they know everything. And annoyingly, you can’t convince them otherwise because they don’t even have the mental capability to understand the concept. Seriously. It’s hardcore science. Just like it’s impossible to teach a dog to talk due to their underdeveloped vocal cords, you can’t teach a teenager to understand their own fallibility or limitations due to their underdeveloped brains. It’s literally impossible to get through to the idiots.

Worst of all, they are old enough to engage in stupid, risky behavior, but not smart enough to fully understand the consequences. Their immature brains are not yet capable of avoiding risky behaviors because the brain systems that control basic cognitive and physical abilities develops way before the area that controls impulse and emotions. Whoopsie! Evolution really got that developmental pattern ass-backwards, didn’t it?

Or did it?

There’s been a lot of recent studies on the teenage brain. This is probably because the stupidity of teenagers seem downright fascinating at times, but regardless, a few theories have started to arise about why teenagers are dumber than a bag of hammers, and how this might actually be an evolutionary benefit.

One theory suggests (using some round-about logic that your average moronic teenager could never understand) that some “risk-taking among adolescents is evidence that they are trying out more adultlike roles. Having unsafe sex and driving too fast may be mistakes, but kids often have to experiment with limits in order to learn how to live within them. Which, in turn, is a sign of maturity.” So basically, it’s the mature ones who act the stupidest. And if the dunderheads survive their reckless youths, they will be all the better for it in the future. Well-adjusted even. Just don’t get in front of them if they are driving a car since “16,000 young people die each year from unintentional injuries.” Mostly in ridiculous car wrecks. On top of that, a slew of them become under-aged, unwed parents who are doomed to repeat the pattern of failsmanship. Apparently whoever’s left over seems well-adjusted by comparison, so that theory totally checks out.

Another, more plausible study suggests that a teenager’s stupidity could actually be an evolutionary benefit due to the fact that a teenager would never gather the courage to leave his childhood home and make a life of his own if his brain ware capable of understanding how dangerous the real world actually is. So for humans to continue to develop and thrive and evolve as a species, teenagers need to remain just stupid enough to take a few risky chances and to make a few bold moves before their brains can develop enough to make them realize how incredibly dim-witted, short-sighted, and crazy they have been acting for the last twenty five years.

So there you have it. Teenagers are stupid because it benefits the human race in the long haul. It’s survival of the mentally un-fittest. It doesn’t make them any less stupid or annoying, but still, you should probably thank them for being so bone-headed. And thank yourself, too. Because you were a stupid teenager once as well, but luckily you were just short of being stupid enough to recklessly kill yourself.

And if you’re reading this and thinking, “Not my kid. My kid ‘gets it’…” They don’t. They might be able to fake it in front of you, but if you could see inside their heads you’d be shocked at how little they actually understand. But the blindspot of a doting parent probably has some evolutionary benefit, too, so don’t sweat it too hard.

Stupid teenagers are effing awesome.

Benefiting the Human Race

Benefiting the Human Race

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