Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Hooray For Dandelions!

I saw my first dandelion today, so, despite the virus craziness, nature has not postponed spring (politicians no doubt would try to postpone it along with everything else if they could).  I also received advertisements in the mail from lawn care companies.  Cutting grass is fine, but the companies seem to always want to dump unneeded chemical fertilizer on the lawn as well as herbicides to kill off dandelions and anything else not grass.  The advertising is obnoxious because it often shows kids and pets on this chemically-treated lawn.  You can see an example I clipped from one of the ads today, along with my word balloon addition.  I wouldn't let my kid play on a chemically-treated lawn.  In fact, dandelions are a good guide as to which lawns are good to play on in a neighborhood. The ones without dandelions are the ones to be suspicious of.

Unfortunately, the wealthier the neighborhood, the fewer dandelions one tends to see.  There is something about a certain amount of income that seems to make people dump chemicals on their lawn with all the potential hazardous side effects that come with those chemicals such as them being possible carcinogens.  A few years ago, I read the book Lawn People, which documented this phenomenon well.  You would think that people with higher incomes and good educations would be smart enough not to pay to poison themselves, but you would be wrong.

The Roundup lawsuit has been in the news a lot this past year, so, again, one would think that people would be smart enough to connect the dots and not unnecessarily expose themselves to poisons just to achieve some strange ideal about the perfect lawn, but I bet for a lot of people these ads will be effective and people will still this spring hire someone to kill the dandelions in their lawn (as a sidenote, the ad copy in these ads is also hilarious in a creepy way.  One letter reads, "We have identified your lawn as one that would benefit from our service."  Yes, my lawn, and every other one in the neighborhood, I'm sure).

As for me, I am hoping for a bumper crop of dandelions.  Not only are they pretty, but also you can actually eat them.  I have even drank a coffee substitute made from dandelions before.  It was pretty tasty.  Grass is pretty and one can play football on it, but I'm not a cow, so it's not something I can eat and thus not something I am terribly interested in cultivating at the expense of the other plants such as clover and dandelions.

Or my kid.

Or my pet.

Or me.

My latest novel is available here.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Unemployment Tips From Edna's Employment Agency

 
So as the COVID-19 panic rolls on (Panic?  Yes, read this, now whether it is wise to be panicked is another question), more people may become unemployed.  Some people have suggested we might see figures as high as 20%, which would be a crazy state of affairs if it happened.  That would be approaching levels not seen since The Great Depression (it could be worse though, at one point then, 80% of Toledo, Ohio USA was out of work).  If these doomsayers are right, then you've never seen competition for employment like this, not even during The Great Recession a decade back.  So, with a bunch of people looking for jobs, how can you stand out as a candidate?
 
Read Edna's Employment Agency.

I'm not kidding.  In addition to the laughs you'll get, which will ease some of your frustrations during this time as you search for your next gig, you'll also find a number of tips for your job search.  I saw a lot of dumb stuff when I was a recruiter, and I've seen even dumber stuff as a candidate.  Some of this you can avoid (for example, doublecheck what you actually upload to an online job application) while some you cannot (idiotic human resources people).  But, either way, you will be a bit more prepared for it if you can learn from other people, er, fictional characters anyway.

Good luck in your job search!

Especially in these circumstances!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Maybe We Should Have Put All That Stock Money In Comic Books Instead

So your stocks have crashed.

Well, don't panic; stocks go up and down.  That's their nature.

Of course, there are other things to invest in.

And, of course, everything's risky.

Some of the other investment vehicles are more fun though such as comic books.  Now, most comic books aren't worth anything monetarily.  There are too many copies of them, and no one really wants them.  Older comics, however, are a different story.

The oldest ones are Golden Age comic books from the 1930s and 1940s (there are some precursors beforehand, and the Golden Age stretches into the early 1950s, but we'll leave those topics to the comics historians for now).  The reason the Golden Age comics are rare is that there aren't many of them.  First of all, they were viewed as disposable like newspapers are, so many people who bought them just threw them out after they were read.  Second of all, most people who read them were kids, and they had fun with them, so they beat the crap out of them.  Many copies just were wore out by rereadings and play.  Third of all, when the war came, drives were held to collect and recycle materials for the war.  One of those was paper, so many comics ended up in the scrap pile for paper recycling.  Then, came the hysteria about juvenile delinquency after the war, when comics were viewed as dangerous corruptors of youth.  This was led by Fredric Wertham, who later sort of apologized in his book The World Of Fanzines).  This, just a few years after fighting the Nazis, notorious for burning books, led to Americans burning books, comic books.  Then, came time, some of the surviving books just rotted away if they weren't cared for (some literally turned to dust given the environmental conditions they were stored in--collectors who buy these books find they have bought a bag of paper chips).  As a result, the surviving books are rare.  Initially, comic book collectors just wanted to read these old stories because they weren't often reprinted.  Since then, fortunately, a lot of this material has been reprinted.  But, by then, people were already paying huge sums of money to compete for the remaining copies.  The result eventually led to a book selling for ten cents on the newsstand now going for over a million dollars.  Those kind of prices attract attention, so now some investors buy comics just as an investment.  Comics even get sealed in plastic boxes and graded by a professional grader, so people are buying comics they will never read (they can't even open them without destroying the plastic seal, which means they would have to get the book graded again).  It gets crazy.

Not that I am complaining.  I am happy to sell you a comic book for however much you want to spend on it.  In fact, I have some for sale here.

Are comics a good investment?  Maybe, maybe not.  It all depends if someone later on still wants the comic and is willing to pay more than you paid for it (also, you have to factor in inflation and other monetary changes over time as well as the expenses of money and time in maintenance and whatnot).  I do find comics fun though.  And, unlike stocks, even if no one wants this copy of a Porky Pig comic, then I can always get a chuckle out of rereading the story where Porky Pig and Sylvester The Cat get a pet octopus:

Classic, I tell you.

You can't quite get the same joy out of a penny stock certificate.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Coronavirus And The Plague By Albert Camus


So, unless you have been hibernating through the winter, you've probably heard about the Coronavirus disease 2019, otherwise known in short as COVID-19.  It apparently started in China and now has embarked on a world tour.  Its arrival in the United States has caused pretty much a freakout with schools and libraries closing, events canceled, travel bans, and other assorted disruptions to daily life.  The latest where I live is the closing of bars and restaurants.

The hope is to slow the spread of the virus so that hospitals and other healthcare resources don't get overwhelmed and have to make difficult choices about divvying up care.  Whatever the good intentions, the actions taken against the virus's spread will certainly have consequences, primarily economic.  So far, most of the criticism has come from the political right, which makes sense since they typically represent the moneyed interests of the country, but some independent voices have also questioned the wisdom of these political decisions.  But others such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb have noted that the earlier to panic in a situation like this, the better, so even an overreaction is much preferable to the alternative.  This video is probably the easiest way to get his point about the importance of stopping this thing early.  Comparisons with traffic deaths and flu deaths don't quite fit the exponential risk that COVID-19 brings.

So, it looks like we're basically living in The Plague by Albert Camus, which has always been one of my favorite books, but I never wanted to live in it (it could be worse; we could be living in The Stand by Stephen King).  If you're not familiar with The Plague, it details the spread of a disease in one city and how the people respond. It is a good illustration of Camus's take on existentialism as well as a good read.  It is often interpreted as an allegory, but it can be read as just a tale of quiet heroism against a disease.  So, if you have some free time now due to COVID-19 or just want to get away from the tv news, it is a good book to read given the circumstances.  And, if you finish it and need a laugh to get through this challenging time, then please feel free to check out my books, especially the latest one.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

New Song!: "Ambitious Morons"

This is a song about people who are too eager to lead. I much prefer reluctant leaders. Anyone who really, really wants to lead usually has no clue how to actually do so. The lyrics are below.  It's the same deal as always.  If you like a song, then feel free to cover it if you're in a band or whatnot.  I love to hear covers of my songs, so please let me know about your version.  If you start making money, then send me a check/we can work out a deal.  Similarly, if you want to use a song for your Youtube video or whatnot, then just let me know.  It's usually fine by me unless it's a commercial product or whatnot (and then it's likely fine as well--I just want my cut).  Find out first though.  Write me at wredfright ATATAT yahoo DOTT com.

Ambitious morons
They want to lead.

They take off running
at top speed.

They don't know where they're going.
They just pretend.

They want us to follow
them to the end.

Off the cliff.

Written March 2020
Recorded March 2020


Want more Wred Fright music?  Order the Yeast? 7" here!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Thank You To Steven B. Smith!

Steven B. Smith just posted his review of Edna's Employment Agency on his cool website, Walking On Thin Ice.  Thanks again for the kind words!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Edna's Employment Agency Excerpt!

Edna's Employment Agenc... by Wred Fright on Scribd

I posted an excerpt of Edna's Employment Agency on Scribd. You can also read the whole novel on there, thanks to SmashWords. If you do, please post a review. Google and Amazon also have previews/excerpts. If you like what you read, please read the rest. You can buy the book here: https://www.wredfright.com/p/ednas-employment-agency.html