So it turns out the funniest people in the world are software developers. Unfortunately, none of the rest of us gets to be in on the joke, and the punchline is always the same:
“And that idiot clicked ‘accept’ anyway.”
I know it’s true, because a sheriff’s deputy came to my place last week to repossess my nose. It turns out I failed to change my Instagram feed from freemium to premium within twelve months, as I agreed when I clicked on the user agreement. I lucked out, though, because another deputy showed up two minutes later with an identical warrant from Snap Chat, so I can keep my schnozz unsullied until they resolve their custody dispute in smell claims court.
As Jimmy Buffett would say, it’s my own damn fault. When I bought my first microcomputer software nearly 40 years ago, I read the software (CP/M!!) user agreement and marked the parts that I didn’t accept. Of course, the terms were non-negotiable and the computer wouldn’t work without the software, so I had to take the deal.
Since then, I’ve signed more than a thousand binding agreements with software companies, doctors, car rental agencies, and pretty much anyone else who shoves a 47-page disclaimer in my face. The language varies a bit, but the terms are depressingly similar:
I thought they were just kidding about that last part until the sheriff’s deputies showed up at the condo. I was wrong, and it’s only getting worse.
A few years ago, I walked into a shopping mall in Cape Town where they had a particularly onerous “user agreement” on the wall. Basically, it said the mall was blameless for anything and everything that could possibly happen inside the facility, whether accidental or intentional, and that I was agreeing to those terms simply by walking into the building. If the mall owner came by and cut off my head, it was just fine by me, and I acknowledged that by crossing their threshold.
“That would never fly in the States,” I thought, until I walked into a Chicago restaurant with a similar “user agreement” at the host stand.
Down the street from that restaurant, there’s a new spot where you can order your food at a kiosk instead of talking to a human being. There isn’t a user agreement, yet, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m agreeing that:
When I’m in a charitable mood, I want to forgive the coders for their insatiable need for absolution. It must be very difficult to spend your day on a computer, typing indecipherable crap that nobody will read and inserting inside jokes that nobody will comprehend. It’s a lot like blogging, but coders have cool pocket protectors.
Anyway, it’s the lawyers who produce the disclaimers, and they’re the ones responsible for churning out 5,000-word argle-bargle that could be condensed down to “abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” If there’s any justice in the world, those lawyers will be the first to lose their noses, or other appendages, for violating Terms of Service.
On the upside, it’s likely to take years before the courts decide which company can repossess my nose and maybe the statute of limitations will expire—or I will—by then. In the meantime, I’m going to spend some extra time smelling the roses, just in case.
Dad Writes subscribers don’t need to sign user agreements, and they don’t need no stinking badges, either. Subscribing is as simple as clicking here and waiting for the next flash of brilliance from our world of delusion.
I can never say goodbye to all that really important stuff I never look at, and the disappointment of Act Two, among other concepts that area cluttering up my mind this week.
Finding the truth can be very difficult, but subscribing to dadwrites could not be easier. Just click here and join the hordes of followers who cannot wait to see what we’ll come up with next.
Thanksgiving Day is almost upon us and hosts everywhere are panicked more than ever. What was once a warm family gathering of gratitude is looking much more like Festivus, including the Airing of Grievances. Mom wants nothing more than a traditional celebration of family, but those relatives will be coming and you know how they are about you-know-what.
Keeping the peace has never been easy, of course. Cousins Eunice and Essie still aren’t speaking after that dust-up over Granny’s pearls in 2003, Uncle Rahm is still mad about the, um, carving accident from 2012, and who can forget the night that Aunt Agnes insisted that internet dress was gold and white and Cousin Sophie threw the gravy boat at her?
Ah, family. We’d mention here that blood is thicker than water, but why remind people of those stains in the couch from last year?
Have no fear, though, for the team at Dad Writes has the solution for holiday strains. No, we’re not suggesting that you cancel dinner; merely that you adopt a few defensive tactics to keep things friendly, sorta.
If you’re hosting this year, a few time-saving tips can smooth out the bumps and ensure that a good time is had by all. Specifically…
Of course, guests must also take some responsibility for a great holiday. If you’re going to be a guest at Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll play an important role in helping the host keep things merry and bright. Absolutely...
See how simple it is? If we all follow these rules on Thursday, every household in America is guaranteed to have the thankiest Thanksgiving ever. And that goes double for whichever kid ends up taking home the puppy…or the snake.
Can you imagine how terrible it would be if you didn’t know how to keep the peace on Thanksgiving? Don’t miss out on our upcoming guides to hosting, guesting, meeting, greeting, and holding eternal grudges…by simply clicking here to subscribe to Dad Writes. We’ll be glad you did.
Jill and I are fortunate to have a great view of the Chicago River from our apartment, and the river is much busier than I would have assumed before we moved downtown. From March through November, this aromatic body of water is filled with kayakers, gravel barges, motorboats, party boats, tour boats and an occasional police patrol.
Some days, especially around this time of year, the temperature will hang in the 40s and the rain will come down in sheets, but the tour boats maintain their schedules. Even in the worst conditions, the boats will have a handful of people on board, braving the gale on the top deck. Last Tuesday, as the temperature hovered in the teens, we watched a boat pass by with about a dozen passengers on board.
At first, I wondered why these tourists—I assume they are tourists—are out in such bad weather to see our city from the river. Then, I realized, they were on the boat this day because this was the only day they had available.
Most likely, these battered souls are in town for a short while, have an interest in architecture, and decide it's worth a bit of discomfort to survey our legacy. Yes, it might be raining or freezing, and yes, it might be (more than) slightly miserable, but our sodden friends can’t return tomorrow or the day after. This is the day they have and they are going to make the best of it.
You gotta respect that. This is the day they have and they are going to make the best of it. Of course, this day is every day and it’s every day for all of us, not just for tourists on the Chicago River. We get the same 24 hours as Howard Schultz and Pope Francis, the same window as the guy who cleans the bathrooms at the airport and the prisoner on death row.
This is one of those lessons in life that’s so obvious, so consistent, that it’s easily forgotten. Sometimes we need a reminder, such as a tour boat with five passengers in truly miserable weather. Whenever one of those vessels comes into view, it energizes me to make more of my own experiences, to enjoy the gift of this day and avoid regrets tomorrow.
Because, when it comes to the next 24 hours, we’re all in the same boat.
Roughly 168 hours from now, we’ll be posting another story of life and the lessons it brings. Do you really want to risk missing that message because you aren’t a subscriber? Of course not. Just click here to sign up for our weekly posts and you’ll be enjoying life even more than you ever thought possible.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when wide-eyed schoolchildren and their parents alike look forward to the celebration that unites the entire globe. Yes, I’m talking about the annual unveiling of the Word of the Year.
Actually, it’s WORDS of the Year, because several lexicographers compete to see who can be the most supercilious, pompous, ostentatious, pretentious, pedantic, and condescending in their selections.
Alas, the annual WOTY awards haven’t been the same since Stephen Colbert lobbied successfully for truthiness roughly 15 years ago. More recently, the selections have been uninspired, bland, insipid, boring, dull, unimaginative, unoriginal, featureless and other adjectives that I absolutely didn’t steal from MSWord’s thesaurus.
Last year, the Oxford English Dictionary picked toxic for their WOTY, while Merriam Webster came up with Justice, dictionary.com chose misinformation, and Cambridge Dictionary settled on nomophobia. No, I had no idea what nomophobia means, either, but it’s clearly such an important word that it might soon obtain 500,000 hits on Google.
You can understand how the judges came up with such uninspired choices when you consider some of the runners-up from 2018, including: big dick energy, cakeism, excelsior, feckless, lodestar, maverick, no-platforming, pansexual, pissant, and techlash. Seriously, I think some of these people need to get out more, which might mean that some of them should get out ever.
When I read the disappointing announcements last year, I thought, “Anybody could do better than this. The dumbest, most illiterate idiot in the world could do better than this.” And when it comes to dumb, illiterate idiots, nobody is more qualified than yours truly.
With all the confidence that comes from not having a clue, the wordalicious team at Dad Writes has been taking note all year, searching boldly and meticulously for the combination of letters that is truly deserving of the WOTY honors. And, we are proud to announce, we truly have all the best words for 2019.
At first, we looked at the most commonly used words, as if this thing was a popularity contest. First, we considered, “both sides,” which is the political equivalent of “whatever.” Then we took a look at “both sides’s” fellow traveler, “whatabout,” which is shorthand for “My side sucks, but you suck worse.”
Ultimately, we disqualified both options because, frankly, we don’t want to encourage anyone to use them. Ever.
Next, we turned to the words that don’t mean what users seem to think they mean. These included literally, diverse, fulsome and grandiose. The challenge here, unfortunately, is that people would still be using the words incorrectly, but they’d be much prouder about doing it.
Then we looked at words that people use to seem more cultured and discerning. We considered and rejected curated, artisanal, plethora and paradigm. Really, who wants to encourage the preening pomposity of artisans who curate a plethora of paradigms?
And finally, after countless late-night conference calls and tear-filled macroaggressions, the diverse cohort at Dad Writes has chosen, selected, opted for and designated as our 2019 WOTY: SURREAL.
Surreal is the perfect word for our Zeitgeist, combining the best of incorrect usage with the worst in triteness and pomposity. Nobody is having a real experience anymore; all of life is simply surreal. Yesterday’s salad? Today's shoes? Riding the elevator with that weird guy from the 12th floor? It was all incredibly surreal. Surreally!!
Surreal is a word so overused that it might as well be an epidemic that’s about to kill us all. By this time next year, we predict that Americans will be exhorting each other to keep it surreal, get surreal, and invest in surreal estate. Online, the technorati will drop IRL and use ISL exclusively, and real will disappear like prithee, gadzooks and whippersnapper.
And when it happens, we’ll all remember that we knew it was coming, that we were warned about this transformation, thanks to the WOTY wordsmiths at Dad Writes. It will all be so, so, surreal.
Be sure to share your own WOTY choices in the comments section, and take a second or two to join our exclusive subscriber list by simply clicking here.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself when I told my trainer I had left some French fries on my plate four days in a row. Then he acted shocked and incredulous and amazed and otherwise uncalm as he demanded to know how often I ate French fries at all.
“Well, they come with the sandwich, so pretty much every day,” I answered, with the sudden realization that I was expected to feel guilty about this.
“Don’t you ever have a salad?” he asked in that tone you hear when a question is really an accusation.
And, no, I almost never do, for many good reasons.
First, I am an environmentalist (when it’s convenient or supports one of my rants) and the lettuce that goes into a salad is the most environmentally damaging food in the universe. On the scale of nutrition per dollar, lettuce is right behind a pizza delivery box.
Second, lettuce grows in fields, where animals frolic and poop and, need I mention, screw. Heads of lettuce are convenient support for randy rabbits who, as you know, enjoy coitus like rabbits, and you should be warned that the curved indentations in your arugula did not occur naturally. It is only safe to eat French fries because potatoes sport thick skins and have the decency to grow underground, where the fauna can’t reach them.
It’s not just lettuce that is suspect. Pretty much everything that grows just above the surface is plagued with animal excretions, along with skins so thin that anything can penetrate them. Compare that to your average steer, which has skin as tough as leather. And do you know why it’s as tough as leather? Exactly.
If we’re going to be honest about it, there is absolutely nothing good to be said for vegetables. Basically, they are a combination of indigestible fiber, water, and a handful of vitamins I can swallow in a pill before I finish my first cup of coffee. It’s trendy to say you like vegetables, but nobody really does. Brussels sprouts only became popular after chefs decided to cook them with bacon and blue cheese. Add enough bacon and blue cheese and they’d enjoy haggis, too.
Even the word vegetable is suspect, as it should be. If I was hit by the proverbial bus and, instead of dying, I was in a coma and unresponsive, would anyone say I was in a meatatative state? No, they would not. They would say I was in a vegetative state, which is one of the worst states to be in outside of Alabama.
While we’re on the subject of vocabulary, vegetables are often called “greens.” Do you know what else is green? Mold. Coincidence? I think not.
Another word to consider is “fertilizer,” which is a euphemism for manure. When animals are busy growing their fabulous meats, manure is a waste product that gets discarded. Sometimes, though, that manure gets sold, and do you know who buys it? Yep, vegetable farmers buy manure that they slather all over—and into—their crops before selling it to the rest of us. So-called “organic” farmers are the worst offenders, bragging about the “natural fertilizer” they use to poison us all.
With meat, the USDA has rules to keep the poop out. With vegetables, as they say, it’s a feature, not a glitch.
Finally, if you are what you eat and I am made of meat, it is almost a requirement that I should only eat meat. And some fat, so as not to upset the delicate balance within my bio-domain.
Man doesn’t live by meat alone, though, so it is acceptable to balance my diet with French fries, ideally cooked in animal fat. Bread is okay, but only the minimal amount required to transfer the meat from the plate. Ditto for pizza, which is nature’s delivery system for pepperoni.
Someday, the entire world will recognize the wisdom of my dietary insights and I will be lauded as a visionary.
In the meantime, are you going to finish those fries?
You remember when mom said you had to eat your vegetables? Don’t you feel betrayed now? We’re very sorry about that, but we’d like to make it up to you by offering a free subscription to this priceless blog. Just click right here and get ready for us to burst even more of your bubbles every week.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.