Tag Archives: critical thinking

WSJ Asshole Hotline

simpsonswsjI love having a brain that is capable of critical thought. Every once in a while a little moment comes along where it kicks in and I’m actually proud of myself. Don’t worry, these moments pass quickly and are soon forgotten.

They say, “Don’t believe everything you read.” Or, “I know it’s true ’cause I saw it on TV.” We all like to act like those truisms don’t apply to us. Only those other lemming idiots. Never us. Yet we fall for it all day long. True moments of “question everything” are few and far between.

I was on my break. In front of me was the day’s Wall Street Journal. Naturally, since he’s a primetime asshole, it’s one of the boss’ favorite publications. You can tell by the level of crumplage and how the pages are strewn about which pages have been read and which ones haven’t. He typically digests the thing in several sittings.

There, on the front of a section he hadn’t gotten to yet I saw the headline, “How To Be A Better Boss in 2013.”

Uh oh. I better check this out, I thought. If it’s really bad I can throw it away and he’ll never know the difference. The last thing I need in my life is the fucking WSJ filling my boss’ already tainted mind with even more evil.

I picked it up and started to read.

“Holy mother of God.”

Continue reading →

The light of hope shines on Negativity

For every positive there is a negative and that negative is me

I got up early this morning to do some work in the front yard putting up our festive “negativity scene” creche. While taking a little break, though, something happened…

Every once in a blue moon the internet can wash up on your shore a little piece of flotsam that really makes your day.

“An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found being grumpy makes us think more clearly.

In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.”

ZOMG! Yes oh yes oh yes oh yes!

To the guru of negativity I hope you have listened, hmmm.

So, long story short, I went to stumbleupon and narcissisticly searched for “shout abyss.” One of the coincidental results on the first page was an article from the BBC entitled “Feeling grumpy ‘is good for you” – even though the article had nothing to do with me. Now that is what I call the universe working overtime! It’s almost spooky. Connect those dots, universe!

Negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world.
— Professor Joe Forgas

According to the article, “sadder people were also less likely to make rash decisions or those based on racial or religious beliefs and made fewer mistakes when recalling a past event.”

It’s always fulfilling to get confirmation of something you knew all along. In fact, that sort of thing is somewhat of a disturbing positive development. I’ll have to work hard to shake this off and get back to my roots.

A series of Negativity Embracement and Integration Seminars are planned. Watch for them online soon, that is if I can make this damn computer work.

First ever Abyss Contest

To celebrate this post, I’d like to try something new here in the abyss. Our first ever photo contest! Yeah!

Subject: Negativity Scene

Interpret the subject as you wish. Perhaps make a statement about the over-commercialization of the Christmas holiday. Whatever. Be creative, think outside the box. What do you think a “negativity scene” would look like?

Submit your photographs as comments to this post. (Or links to your favorite photo sharing site.)


One winner will be selected and will win the Grand Prize – A self-inking rubber stamp that reads, in two colors (blue and red): “Past Due.” And what could be more negative than that!

Have fun and good luck!

Let’s get Progressively critical

Watch this commercial. Now, ask yourself, “What is the main theme here?” What is the message that Progressive wants you to take away after investing 30 seconds of your life to watch their persuasion attempt?

We offer lots of discounts that will save you money.

Cool. That’s a good response. There are no right or wrong answers here. 🙂

Let’s analyze the commercial a bit further, though. Let’s put on our critical thinking caps. I mean, it would be unwise to simply absorb what advertisers want directly into our brains without checking it out first, right?

Flo asks: “Are you a safe driver?”
Customer: “Yes.”
Flo responds: “Discount.”

OK, this is an easy one. What did we just learn here? If you don’t have a good enough driving record you will pay more.

Eh, what? I thought this commercial was about “discounts.” Well, one person’s discount is apparently another person’s surcharge. But we’re well-trained customers of insurance by now. We know that it’s perfectly reasonable to pay more based on crummy driving records.

Speaking of training, if we want to dig a bit deeper into critical thought here: The word “safe” in this context is actually a euphemism. Without even realizing it we’re also buying into the concept that our driving records are valid indicators of “safe” driving.

Flo asks: “Do you own a home?”
Customer: “Yes.”
Flo responds: “Discount.”

What? Now this is getting a little out there. If we rent (not buy) our home then we have to pay more? Why? What’s up with that? Something tells me the answer has to do with actuary tables and “risk” and things like that.

Flo asks: “Are you gonna buy online?”
Customer: “Yes.”
Flo responds: “Discount!!!”

Whoa. This one really excited her. If you order by phone or go in the store you’ll also pay more. The web site is the holy grail of retail. When it works properly, it acts as a buffer between the business and the icky icky customer.

See how every single time Flo uses the word “discount” she’s actually talking about segments of their customer base who actually have to pay more? It certainly doesn’t sound quite as exciting when you think of it like that.

So, if you are a customer with a bad driving record who isn’t buying your own home and won’t be buying online, you really need to be wary of this particular persuasion attempt. If you walk away thinking that Progressive has discounts for you and can save you money you’ve really gotten the wrong idea.

Of course, that’s exactly the point. That’s exactly the way the persuasion attempt was designed to work on your brain. And that is a very “progressive” sort of thing.

Heck, I think something as drug-induced as a gecko selling insurance might even make more sense. 🙂