The Money Cannon

“Okay,” I say, “so we could even take it one step further. We build a money cannon. It’s a big cannon that shoots dollar bills. You just need a big fan, in a box, and then a tube sticking out. We mount the cannon on the back of a Hummer, with HubSpot in huge letters on both sides, and we drive around a city blowing money into the streets. Think of the disruption! People rushing into the streets, trying to grab as many dollar bills as they can. They’d be fighting over the money, like people at Walmart on Black Friday. It would be a nightmare!”

Dan Lyons Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble.

I shouldn’t be a total prick but today the Money Cannon became real. Someone finally offered me money to take a phone call.  It was an big stiff enveloped marked “DO NOT BEND” from a “predictive customer acquisition” company.  I opened it up and pulled out a single sheet of glossy goodness with an Amazon gift card stuck on it with that weird booger clue credit card companies use to stick new cards onto paper.


The instructions told me to go online, enter a PIN number and answer a short survey to activate the card. Nowhere on the mailer did it indicate what value the card may hold, so naturally I lied on the dozen or so questions (Afghanistan, Aerospace, “I don’t know”) just to get the online equivalent of a scratch ticket.

$5 — five bucks. That was it. And the best part was the come-on at the end that challenged me to take a 30 minute phone call to bump the card up to $50. Now we’re talking.

I  bet their predictive algorithm didn’t predict I’d give them grief for loading up the money cannon.



Bad Santa Gift Idea #3 — A Caganer

….Because what the world needs more of is little defecating figurines to sneak into the creche between the Wise Men and the Donkey. I think this has potential for a real life Civil War re-enactment in the nativity scene in front of St. Joe’s the Redeemer. Bail money is under the couch cushions.

From the New York Times, I give you Caganers.



Uncle-From-Hell Xmas Presents: Personal Air-Raid Horn

What kid wouldn’t get a thrill out of playing Air Raid Warden and cranking out 115 decibels of fun at the playground? This is my Uncle Fester payback for that tin-drum you bought my kid, the bow-and-arrow set that ended up embedded in the windowsill of the neighbor’s master bedroom. You know who you are. I’m coming for your sanity.

Here, for your holiday shopping pleasure, is the Superior Airhorn company’s personal air-raid klaxon (with carrying bag).

Manual Hand Crank Operated Air Raid Siren. Will produces a loud adjustable sound of 110 decibels. Made out of durable plastic (ABS) housing.  Ideal for getting peoples attention, or rooting for your favorite team in sporting events, and many other uses.  Comes with a carrying case.”

WARNING: This puppy is loud. I just blew my ear drums when I listened to a sample through my headphones at work.


Squirrels Eating Pizza

Beer for dogs

Yesterday colleague Bryan House (@bryanhouse) ended Acquia’s first customer conference, Engage, with a beer tasting demonstration. Everybody was served a flight of beers, a snack tray of two kinds of malt, some fresh hops and a few coffee beans. As a failed home brewer (my product made excellent slug bait around the zinnias and tomatoes), hearing a professional brewmaster talk about the factors that go into a great beer was a great education and excuse to quaff an Octoberfest, a local beer (Narragansett Autocrat Coffee Milk Ale) and a Dogfish 90-minute Imperial IPA.

But when Bryan showed this beer, from BrewDog, the strongest beer in the world at 55% alcohol, I could only think: “Dogs would go insane for that shit.”

The Greedheads of Popponesset Bay

House leaders tucked a controversial and little noticed item into the budget – Metro – The Boston Globe.

Today the Globe published a jaw dropping story out of Mashpee. Read it. I am almost too pissed off to type. I am so pissed off I shouldn’t type but when I heard about it on a Boston public radio talk show  during a drive to Boston today I did something I’ve never done before and I actually called and vented (my venting begins around 1:09) like that old guy at town meeting who rants about how the fluoride in the water is causing him to have erectile dysfunction and who smells a little bit like pee in his dirty cardigan and who writes long letters to the editor.

Here’s the sordid tale of midnight legislation snuck in the back door on behalf of the rich and mighty. It’s the latest in a saga I’ve been blogging about for a while now.

So there’s been an ongoing stink for the past couple of years in Mashpee as a bunch of  waterfront-owning McMansion-squatting greedheads have filed lawsuit after lawsuit to block a commercial oyster grower named Richard Cook from turning a two-acre stretch of Popponesset Bay into an oyster farm. The town, the state, the courts — all have given the guy the go ahead, but in a classic piece of scumbaggery by a hack State Rep from Newburyport (easily 100 miles away from Mashpee) an amendment was tacked onto the state budget last week that would declare a “marine sanctuary” not in Mashpee specifically, not even on Cape Cod to read the amendment, but at some undisclosed location defined by frigging GPS coordinates. The coward didn’t have the spine to actually name the town — he thought he could cloak it with some frigging latitude and longitude numbers. I’m sure it was an honest mistake. Here’s the offending amendment.

And the crowning indignant play by the esteemed Representative Michael Costello is that he further lacked the balls and courtesy to tell the Cape Cod delegation who were actually elected to represent Mashpee — State Senator Dan Wolf and State Rep David Vieira — that he was dropping the little turd of an amendment affecting their districts onto the budget. Thank god the Globe got curious and punched the numbers into Google Maps. (Thanks to reader Aaron Welles for checking the numbers in Google Earth and sending this screen shot below)

Costello was recruited to do the deed by ML Strategies, the lobbying arm of the Boston law firm of Mintz Levin, the pettifoggers who represent the abutters who live along the shore where Cook’s submerged farm would go.

Costello claims he did it for the environment. Who he did it for was a bunch of pricks who include the owner of the New England Patriots. Who wants to bet Costello gets spotted quaffing a frosty Sam Adams in the owner’s box with Gisele at Foxboro Stadium this fall?  What Costello really did when he committed his ethical breach was try to preserve a million-dollar waterfront view, a great view indeed — across the bay at Cotuit’s pristine Ryefield Point courtesy of the Barnstable Land Trust.

Stand in Cotuit and look back at them and what you see looks like a row of tacky beached ocean liners, lit up to beat the band, their chemical lawns, big piers and cesspools poisoning the very bay this guy’s oysters might actually help clean up.

These people have no souls. None. They remind me of the time as a Cape Cod Times reporter covering the waterfront when I watched in amazement as a Lily Pulitzer-wearing ehisshewle of a grand dame (btw: great job missing this story Cape Cod Times, yet again the Globe has kicked your butt in your own back yard) tell a Barnstable shellfish committee in 1980 that commercial quahoggers in Osterville’s Eel River were a blight on her view and worked close enough to her house that she could “hit them with a nine-iron shot.” She wasn’t the last of the Littoral Leeches. Then the Ostervillians of Imposterville went after the aquaculture guys in West Bay for daring to float bags of seed oysters in front of their houses. “A menace to navigation!” They lost that fight too.

If I only possessed a Mashpee clamming license I would do my level best to invite all my clammer friends to join me in sitting on these jerks’ beach on Popponesset Bay every afternoon around cocktail hour in front of their guests (in a pink Speedo of course) and dig their goddamn clams.  I would fish nowhere else. I would fowl nowhere else. I would do everything in my power to get that now sad but familiar sight of some poor policeman trudging down the sand in his brogans, towards me, telling me, “Please buddy. I know what the law says, but can you just do this someplace else? Please?”

I used to say “yes, sure, don’t want to cause a problem.” But never again. Take back the beaches and give Mashpee back to the original wampum tycoons, the Wampanoags. They at least took decent care of the place and appreciated a fine oyster.

Cook said it all to the Globe:

“All the way along through the process, I’ve done what the agencies and regulators have asked me to do in filing for permits and et cetera,” said Cook. “And I don’t understand how at this point someone can come in the back door from off-Cape and without any knowledge of local authority and residents, try and create something like this in order to stop my proposal from moving forward.”

The Music with Talking Thing has to end

I listen to a lot of ambient music during the day while I work — I’ve always listened to something in the background while writing — generally instrumental stuff streamed through which I can tune out but which gets rid of the bleak silence of my office  hereon the Cape or in Manhattan. I’ve noticed over the last six months a lot of music incorporates people speaking  — not singing — fragments of everyday conversations over the music. This is not singing. This is talking. Thank god has a “ban” button so I can banish this stuff forever. But I swear there’s more of it and it keeps coming.

I give you “Little Fluffy Clouds” by The Orb.

And finally, “Close Your Eyes and Daydream” by Obfusc. This one was the last straw and forced this rant out of me.

Random irritations

The current use of the word “Really?” as a verbal raised-eyebrow said in an ascending, ironic, mock way to express indignation. This is obnoxiously Valley Girlish and will go the way of the ironic “Not” as so well lampooned by Borat. Hearing Soledad O’Brien chirp a “Really?” on MSNBC the other morning on her reaction that ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner was returning to Twitter was the last straw. I am not alone.

“Coozies:” Those closed cell foam sleeves used to keep canned beverages cold. The utility of these devices is fine. I like a cold beer as much as the next drinker, but the slogans generally printed on them are usually groin oriented “How About a Nice Cup of Shut The F^#K Up” or that classic “Smile If You Aren’t Wearing Panties.” What kills me is my inability to utter their name in polite company — “Coozie” — which doubtlessly is an attempt to employ the word “cozy” emanating from the British tea drinkers use of a padded cloth cover to slip over a tea pot to keep it warm, the “tea cozy” which one imagines to be an important part of the Monty Python wardrobe of silly hats. “Coozie”, to my mind, is derived from “cooze,” an archaic reference to female genitalia. Hence I now vow to refer to all closed-cell foam beverage coolant sleeves as “canginas.” I will submit that word to the Urban Dictionary now.

Ukelele music in television commercials to denote carefree blithe days. This awful trend was savaged a couple years ago when a couple Madison Avenue creative directors launched a now defunct web site to implore their fellow advertising industry colleagues to stop using the Train song “Hey Soul Sister” in television ads.  That site, “Stop Advertising from Pulling a Train” got the point across and was dead on, but it failed to purge the ukelele from other ads, where it tinkles away like some goddamn wind up jack-in-the-box tune. I own a ukelele (won it at a ukelele recital on Kauai years ago) and I can’t play it. I know George Harrison loved the little guitar. It can be a beautiful thing in the right hands. But keep it out of advertising, it gives me cavities.

““Everyone is sticking the tinkling sound of ukulele under their commercial,” said Jim Beloff, who wrote “The Ukulele: A Visual History.” “It’s shorthand for lightness of tone. It says, ‘We’re good guys at heart.’ ””

“Lean Forward“: I don’t watch the usual bullshit television news and so I watchthe PBS Newshour if I must get edification from the boob tube. The storm and election season exposed me to MSNBC (see above, re: “Really?”) and my mind was blown. Putting aside the presence of the newly-skinny Rev. Al Sharpton as a quasimodo anchor man (two words: Tawana Brawley) let me focus on the new MSNBC tagline, “Lean Forward.”  This meme du jour first hit my radar during the Hurricane Sandy aftermath when it was reported that President Obama told his staff to “lean forward” and give all Federal support to the devastated communities in the northeast. Then it seemed to me MSNBC immediately seized it and made it their tag line — I guess as an implied pro-Obama election exhortation — and I found myself puzzling over what the hell “Lean Forward” means.

Whatever it means, it pissed me off that the airheads who have inherited the broadcast airwaves from Murrow, Cronkite,  et al are wasting my brain cycles trying to puzzle out their latest memetic slogans. And I have wasted 15 minutes of my time and yours ranting about these irritations to no effect and could keep going with more things that get under my skin like Kobe Beef sliders, pumpkin-flavored anything, and Apple products but I have work to do.

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