What if the Trump administration was just the beginning of a Young Adult Fantasy story?
Naomi felt like a baby in a blanket. She was swaddled, covered in drool, warm and safe. It took her a moment to realize she was wearing a straight jacket and that stiff surface beneath her wasn’t a crib, but the floor of a padded cell.
Naomi’s eyes took time adjusting to the light. The fluorescent fixtures had rainbow auras, they shined so bright they cast sunspots on the walls. The shadows swayed back and forth as her pupils shifted in and out of alignment. Finally the chamber revealed itself.
The cell was lined with a canvas with two tones: white on the top and stained at the bottom. Its cushions were lopsided from years of use. At this point the padding looked like it would do a better job protecting the walls than the patients.
Anyone can be an author. It doesn’t matter your age, academic background, or nationality, you have what it takes to write the great American novel.
Forget what you’ve heard. You don’t need to be born to successful writers with roots in New York or Los Angeles, you don’t need a knack for grammar, talent, or luck. You just need to learn the tricks of trade from a master of the craft.
Barkley Carver, pilot, and credited author of 15 books to debut on the New York Times bestsellers list, reveals his winning formula for franchise fiction (for the first time under his current pen name). In this online class, he guides you through every aspect of writing a serviceable novel, from finding cold cases to base your mysteries on to getting New York’s Department of Health to grant you access to the divorce records so you can see which publishers are on the rebound. Continue reading Barkley Carver, World’s Most Prolific Hack Writer, Teaches the Craft→
DISCLAIMER: Discrimination is ridiculous. Especially when the ability to discriminate hides behind the veil of victimization, like the religious liberty bills that have been proposed throughout the US this year. These bills would give devout shop owners the right to deny service to members of the LGBT community.
The following isn’t simply a parody of this ironic situation, it’s a callback to a prejudice against another segment of the population. They too were discriminated against for religious reasons. They too have a trait that can be found in 1 in 10 members of the population, and they too cannot change the way they are despite efforts to convert them.
The following is a work of satire. I’m leading with this disclaimer, because many of these examples of Facebook’s attempts at mind control sound a little too believable.
Phase 2 of Facebook’s Emotional Manipulation Study
This week, Phase 1 of Facebook’s emotional manipulation experiments came to light. Having altered their Data user policy to include “research,” Facebook performed a study to test its influence on users’ psychology.
Positioning positive posts in the first test group’s feeds, the social network manipulated users to make merry messages of their own. Satiating some in sullen cynicism, they found these users were prone to mope and moan. Inspirational influencers led to delighted updaters, while pensive peers led to cocky contributors.
In his article Digital Market Manipulation, Ryan Calo believes companies “will increasingly be able to trigger irrationality or vulnerability in consumers.”
Like the copywriter in the Film Roger Dodger says, “You can’t sell a product without first making people feel bad… you convince them that your product is the only thing that can fill the void.”
There’s speculation Facebook implemented these studies to appease its shareholders. These suspicions would make sense, had evidence of Facebook’s second study not surfaced. It turns out these early experiments were the tip of the iceberg.
Phase 2 Experiments:
The Relationship Status Randomizer
Toying with eagle eyed ex lovers and potential stalkers, Facebook implemented the relationship status randomizer, listing married users as single, turning their private phone numbers to public, then posting “Feeling lonely” as their status on the hour every hour.
The Bogus Baby Broadcaster
Since baby announcements get the most engagement, Facebook posted pregnancy news on behalf of couples who weren’t expecting, pulling random ultrasounds from Google image search. The Bogus Baby Broadcaster asked family friends to vote on children’s names. The most popular choices were: Link McFly Skywalker, for boys, and Buffy Ripley Croft, for girls.
Open House Mode
Taking advantage of their Oculus Rift acquisition, Facebook started mapping real spaces for Virtual Reality. Rift owners have reported early access to a feature called Open House Mode. Stitching architecture together from users’ pictures, Open House Mode allowed beta testers to go on virtual tours of their friends’ homes. Rendering intimate living spaces, complete with exteriors from Google Street View, Open House Mode points out structural vulnerabilities like flimsy locks and windows that can be pushed open. When pressed for comment, Facebook’s lawyers said this feature was for users who wanted to throw surprise parties for one another.
The Celebrity Death Generator
Attempting to stir up grief, Facebook filled users feeds with links that falsely reported celebrity deaths. A candlelit vigil, for actor Steve Buscemi, caused a twenty block traffic jam in downtown Atlantic City. The show runners for Boardwalk Empire had already hired Digital Domain to create a CGI stand-in, by the time the real Buscemi appeared on set, hungover, but still breathing.
Promoting posts containing the words “hand soap, linen towels,” and “quilted tissue,” Facebook found an uptick in geotags to ‘home thrones.’ Once users were in their bathrooms, Facebook blasted them with footage of kayakers going over waterfalls, three story fountains, and animated gifs of lemonade flowing from bottles. This drew criticism from the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, fearing the effects a mass flushing incident will have on the nation’s sewer systems.
Manufacturing outrage, Facebook posted updates as ESPN, tricking users into believing the Washington Redskins were changing their names to the Washington Yellowskins, replacing their native American logo with that of a crude cartoonish Samurai. Soon after, the hashtag #YesAllShoguns started trending.
A petition to ban penicillin emerged, after Facebook made an article linking the antibiotic to childhood obesity trend. Medical authorities flooded the net to refute the claim, taking over the conversation in a matter of hours, but not soon enough to prevent media personality Jenny Mccarthy from endorsing the original findings. In the aftermath of the incident, Orange County has reported an outbreak of typhoid fever.
The Title Lengthening System
Some users awoke to find the phrase, “You Won’t Believe What Happens Next” tacked onto every link in their newsfeed, others saw, “… is the worst kind of discrimination.” Some reported seeing each link wrapped in the phrase “What… did is genius.” Everyone exposed to this title lengthening system reported feeling disturbed by the trend, as if they were the only ones noticing it happening.
Businesses, sports teams, and families reported finding phantom images of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer, in their photos. In each image, Zuckerberg appears to be interacting with people, bringing his hands in for a team building seminar, hitting a beer bong at a keger, even wrapping his arms around someone else’s grandmother. Those who noticed the phantom CEO, said he appeared immediately after they uploaded their pictures, as if he’d been there all along. One group experimented with the feature, pointing to a camp fire in mock horror, posting the photo, they found Zuckerberg emerging from the fire.
Facebook’s Milgram Experiment
Members of the psychoanalytic community were horrified when the social network conducted it’s own interpretation of the infamous Milgram Experiment.
Testing blind obedience, the Milgram Experiment urged subjects’ to commit actions at the expense of their conscience. Subjects took on the role of a teacher administrating electric shocks to a learner, an actor who was in no real danger. Every time the learner failed to answer a question, a man in a lab coat would instruct the teacher to hit them with shock treatment. Ignoring the actor’s cries, this authority figure would tell the teacher to up the voltage. The goal was to see how many of the subjects would protest, halting the experiment before the lethal jolt was given.
Facebook introduced a virtual version of this experiment. Believing they were administering electric shocks to prison inmates, users became executioners by way of an application. The app gave users a video stream of both a researcher, commanding them to move forward, and a prisoner writhing in agony.
Stanley Milgram found that 65 percent of his participants administered the lethal dose. Facebook, on the other hand, had a 100 percent success rate. In fact, the only user to report distress, was a man in Texas, claiming to be “bummed out” when the app disappeared from the service.
As social networks become more prevalent in our virtual lives their effects will be felt in the real world. If the cost of connecting means surrendering control of our bowels, most of us will pay it. If the price of admission is submitting to a full body scan, most of us will jump right in. We’ll accept, that if Facebook wants us to be happy, we’ll be happy, and if we’re sad, it’s because Facebook willed us to be. The social network works in mysterious ways.
We’re just guinea pigs, hitting ‘Like’ to get more food pellets, wandering through this maze of messages, looking for meaning. The all seeing eye of Zuckerberg watches us share pictures of our plates on first dates, engage in political debates, and when we think our cameras are off, he watches us masturbate.
Ours is not to question his reasoning, but to trust in his plan. We must open our minds and accept his influence.
I should front load this post with a big fat disclaimer. I’m not sure who it will offend more: its intended targets, or the backhanded villains of the metaphor. At the risk of being controversial, allow me to make a proposal for Arizona. If you legislate the right to discriminate something like the following will happen.
A Modest Proposed Bill
There’s a powerful lobby imposing a sinister agenda on my family. They want to restructure our classrooms, make trouble at the drinking fountains, and put different tools in our teacher’s hands. They want to indoctrinate my children into believing their lifestyle is normal. When my family, with our traditional values, points out the error of their ways, we’re accused of bullying. We’re signaled out for our beliefs.
Running a mom and pop restaurant, I’m in charge of hiring. Since I can’t ask for certain personal details from our applicants, I have to check for all the signs: how they shake hands, the way they’ve tied their tie, and what direction their belt buckle is facing. I can’t have these types of people handling our utensils, going limp on our corkscrews, cutting their fingers on our can openers.
Tending to our garden, we hire our share of day laborers. I’d hate to find I’d invited one of them into my home. They’ve got their own way of doing things. Call me old fashioned, but I shouldn’t be expected to have to support their decision.
I’m, of course, referring to left-handed people.
I’m trying to bring my children up right, as in right-handed. I don’t want them to come home with stories of awkward encounters at the pencil sharpener. I don’t want them in the same class as the kid with the spiral notebook line down his wrist. What if my son comes home asking why his friend has two writing pads? Suddenly my son is ambidextrous-curious. Pretty soon he’ll be asking his coach if he can try on the special glove at baseball practice.
As a small business owner, I don’t want Uncle Sam telling me how to run my kitchen, making me stock up on special tools to enable heathens. I will not be made to embrace your alternative knife style, or your choice to fillet. Adam and Eve knew with which hand to cleave. It’s not my fault that your perverse hand orientation has you looking at the metric side of the measuring cup.
Playing in the backyard, I shouldn’t have to tell my children why one of the gardeners has a queer way of using our hoes, pruners, and potting trowels. Watering with the wrong hand is simply unnatural, yet I’m the bigot for pointing out something that’s factual.
This bias against traditional right-handed values is nothing short of discrimination. These lefty leftists are using tolerance to take away the rights of righties. Demanding special treatment, they want us to shift door knob placement. They want us to redesign desks so the boards align with their twisted viewpoints. The government claims to uphold the constitution, but when it comes to religious freedom, it seems like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
In the United States, all pillars of society are under attack. Changing traditional marriage, husband’s offer the wrong hand to their wives. Infiltrating the boy scouts, they teach our sons a left handed hand shake. In our courts, they swear on the bible with the limb they use for libel. Mainline churches are put upon to serve the southpaw over the north when they give communion.
Invading our calendars, they claimed August 13th as their day, soon they’ll want their own parades. Even as I type this, there’s a lefty occupying the oval office.
I’m drawing the line down the center of the road. I’m an American, I drive on the right side of the street. Changing gears, I define traditional leverage as the bond between one hand and one minivan. On one side I turn the ignition, on the other I flip the bird.
I’m tired of these people getting stuck at the checkout counter, stretching the cord for the pen attached to the credit card machine, clogging up my subway turnstiles with their two left feet. I’m sick of scraping their boomerangs off my rooftop, because they don’t know how to throw them right. I’m sick of my tax dollars going to ER visits, for frequent power-saw accidents.
Sorry if we don’t want them in our restaurant, but they nudge the other guests as they bite into their croissants. Sorry if my country club doesn’t swing that way. We hold our putters the correct way. Sorry if we don’t welcome them into our neighborhood, but we had a show of hands and voted for the public good.
Yes, I check my children’s friends for ink on their palms. Children are impressionable. I forbid mine from listening to Cobain, McCartney, or Hendrix because of the way they held their guitar picks. I won’t let them watch anything starring Tom Cruise, not for his religious views, but for the way in which he ties his shoes.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home, but don’t go waving those reversed digits in front of my kids. Keep your left-handedness in the closet with all your wrong facing garments.
I’m proposing a bill to protect my right handed values by allowing me to post this on my shop window:
WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO LEFT HANDED PEOPLE
I’m doing this because Left-handed people pose a substantial burden on my sincerely held religious belief. They challenge my faith every time they make a mess with dry erase markers, flip the contents of a clipboard, or change the screen orientation of a video game.
Does the bible not teach us that, “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, But a fool’s heart is at his left.” Ecclesiastes 10:1-3
The good book is quite clear about the lord’s preference.
“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand and the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:33
There’s a reason the Angel Michael sat at God’s right and Lucifer sat at his left. There’s a reason left-handedness was considered sufficient evidence that someone was a witch. It was seen as a mark of the devil. There’s a reason Catholic schools used to whip pupils into right-handed values.
Here they want to spit in the face of our cultural heritage and our tradition. They want special treatment for their perverse preference. They want to change the way I run my staff promotions, seeing as how they’re decided with an arm wrestling contest.
There is no furtherance of a compelling government interest to impose left handedness on my business, to make fashion designers invert zippers, to make banks change the placement of pens around deposit slips, or to make tech companies shift the number pad to the other side of the keyboard.
Instead of laying on the right guilt, rallying against “right privilege,” lefties should work to improve the way they trim the hedge. There are options, they don’t always have to feel marginalized at the margins. Left hand conversion therapy is filled with positive success stories. All you have to do is let God convert you into the person you were meant to be. Rather than live a life of sin, have you tried being a righty?
If you haven’t been following the news out of Arizona (or Kansas) then all this might seem like it came out of left field (so to speak). I rarely take stands on polarizing issues, but I decided to write this to put one into perspective. If you support legislation that would deny rights to gay people, please reread this story, because it’s how you sound to me.
What if someone combined the corporate jargon of a Craigslist job posting with the sprawling mythos of H.P. Lovecraft? It would look something like this.
Necronomicon Translator Wanted (Arkham)
Rapidly growing upstart looking to build buzz around tome of forbidden knowledge, The Necronomicon: The Book of the Dead. Job seekers should have a positive attitude, and be versed in ancient Arabic, Greek, and Latin. We want people who are excited to work with mould ridden manuscripts. People who like to solve puzzles, to piece together the fragments of unspeakable incantations. People with the mental resilience to withstand the inherent dangers that come with studying these texts.
We want individuals with good organizational skills, expert multitaskers capable of micro managing multiple realities. Self-starters who perform well under times of increased workload, and prolonged madness. Help us build a platform from the ground up. We want someone who is passionate about raising brand awareness of the coming darkness.
We want tag lines for the end times. We want to see our hashtags written in blood. We want someone on the cutting edge of the ceremonial dagger. Someone with vision, and by vision of course, we’re referring to the rising blood tide washing away the known world in a new era of delirium.
The ideal candidate has already had a dream about this position. They heard the call of Hastur echoing on howling winds. They saw the pallid mask emerge from phantasmagorical depths. They watched the black stars rise over Carcosa. They felt the yellow sign sear through their flesh, branding their very bones. They awoke with joyful tears, and bloodied hands, cackling at the revelation that we are all but the punchlines of the Old One’s elaborate joke.
Candidates must love working with people, have extroverted personalities, and be eager to form lasting relationships. Must have excellent interpersonal and interdimensional skills. Must be able to communicate clearly, concisely, and telepathically. Candidates should have a background in social media, networking, and astral projection.
We want individuals with winning mindsets, eager to succeed in a constantly shifting ecosystem.
Your duties will be to oversee parchment translation, marketing support, and the shoggoth servants that roam the labyrinth halls of Necropolis. You’ll run a web crawler to index the crawling chaos of Nyarlathotep, the Pharaoh behind the firewall. This is a great job for people looking to improve their networking skills. This position serves as a liaison to the denizens of K’n-yan, the tombs of R’lyeh, and the dark throne of Azathoth at the center of chaos.
We work in an open office built on terrifying vistas of reality. Our corporate culture is modeled after the Esoteric order of Dagon. This means our brainstorming sessions result in actual storms, and our problem-solving sessions have a death toll. We’re looking for team players who thrive in a group environment. People who will embrace the opportunity to contribute creatively, independently, and sexually, offering their flesh to the Deep ones and the many fins of Father Dagon.
Candidates must be punctual. Work days begin with peer recognition, a declaration of goals, and a ritual sacrifice to Mother Hydra. Together, we give fearless feedback, exchange pointers on best practices, and discuss positive client experiences. We encourage individuals to tell us what they wish to improve on, what they wish to learn, and what they wish to behold once Yog-Sothoth lifts the veil from the dark portal separating us from the looming cosmic dread.
We believe that our employees are our family, that collaboration multiplies opportunity, that together we can threaten the very integrity of the universe.
Cthulhu lies on the ocean floor deep in slumber. We need self motivated individuals to give him a little poke, to decipher enough arcane script to bring his mass of tentacles to our shores. We require exceptional verbal and written communication skills, and a technical proficiency in blasphemy. We want individuals who think like entrepreneurs, who will dive into the black sea of infinity from the placid island of ignorance. Individuals who don’t wait for Cthulhu to rise, they swim out to meet him.
It’s that proactive approach that empowers our translators to work on their personal development with minimal supervision. It’s the simplicity of our credo that inspires this growth. That’s because there’s just three core competencies: the Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be.
“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” Will you be the one to give him a wake up call?
Do you have good time-management skills, a strong morale, and an even stronger work ethic? Are you looking for an exciting career opportunity in the extremely private sector? Are you outspoken about stretching the boundaries of human consciousness? Do you want to abandon the hallow vestibules of man’s domain? Do nocturnal insects whisper profane truths to you? When you close your eyes, do you see the King in Yellow parting the nameless mist on the path to the Red Death? Can you drink the Kool-Aid without asking what’s in it?
If you answered “yes” to all of the above we need to talk!
Must submit to a background check into your past lives with onsite regression hypnotherapist
Must have references that can attest to your whereabouts during every international tragedy that took place during your lifetime
Must be willing to relocate to our subterranean headquarters beneath the ruins of Babylon
Valid Pilot’s license
Ability to write CSS, HTML5, Flash, and ancient Sumerian
* Location: Arkham, Massachusetts
* Compensation: The privilege of being one of the first to be devoured by the dark lord Cthulhu
* Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster
* do NOT contact us with unsolicited services or offers
* Start Date: You’ve already begun