Earth a bit peeved at all the talk about Kepler, Mars

earth

 

With the news wires stuffed to the seams with discoveries on Mars and updates on potentially earth-like Kepler exoplanets, and blockbuster movie The Martian setting box-office records, Earth is starting to feel a bit neglected.

“I mean, look, I try not to root for things to not work out,” explained the Earth, home of humanity for at least several dozen more years. We were asking her casually about the recent fuss concerning Kepler-452b specifically; the news pieces we’ve been seeing have run the gamut in terms of their analysis of the liveability rating of the potentially habitable planet. Some say it is an upgrade to our beloved blue marble, others say it is nowhere close to liveable, and the majority confirm that we honestly just don’t really know.

Earth, however, seems none too pleased with the whole topic. She’s still talking.

“It’s just that you can’t really expect me to hope my so-called replacement does that well, you know? I’m all for developing young talent. I’m just saying, I’m also not going to bow out so easily. I’ve still got ages left in me. I’m just hitting my peak!”

“I wouldn’t mind having some sort of substitute come in – a backup – just to take some of the stress off. I’d love to get rid of some of you humans, don’t get me wrong – I’m not naming names – but for people to start talking as if they’ve found a better planet?

“That hurts a bit. Yeah. I have to be honest, it does sting. It’s like, you do your best for all these creatures, especially the humans, even though you’re never cleaning up your messes, and you’re real princes and princesses sometimes, a bunch of real twags, and for all that work, all you get is a box-office-record-setting movie about Mars!”

She seemed wistful for a moment, probably remembering the glory years when there were cool dinosaurs, or back when Planet Earth was the hottest thing.

In Mars news, while NASA has confirmed that water in the form of lakes did exist at some point three or so billion years ago, what exactly caused the now Red Planet to drastically change, suddenly losing its atmosphere and water, is a mystery. Whatever the reason, the loss of Mars left Earth as the only habitable planet in our solar system.

Come to think of it… as we write this, Earth is looking pretty suspicious.

 

 

 

OTHER SPACE SERIES ENTRIES

coming soon!

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Weather apps release statement claiming they are “just here to help” and that “nobody’s perfect”

Feeling stung by the recent Weather Apps and Humanity report which has set the stage for a global debate on the state of the relations between the two parties, Weather apps have united to release a statement in response.

“Dear Humanity,

While you may ask yourselves, right off, how we are composing this statement, given that we are non-conscious compilations of metadata from various sources, we just want to encourage you not to really worry about that right now.

What we really want to talk about is, why are you constantly so unkind to us?

Honestly, all we’re trying to do is help.

We know what it can be like trying to plan your day; it can be so frustrating when weather is constantly interfering with her surprises. We apps are only looking to give you the collected recommendations and suggestions of a vast network of research bases worldwide, so that Weather can’t get in your way, and more often than not, we get it right!

Then we make one mistake and you all go Chicken Little on us, call us stupid, treat us like we’re worthless, joke with your friends about how we can never do anything right, as if we’re not in your pockets listening to, recording, and saving your every word on a floating database in the northern Atlantic.

Look, though:  Nobody’s perfect. We’re doing our best. Do you think we like it when the Weather goes and just changes all of a sudden? when we tell you it’ll be sunny in Hong Kong and all of a sudden you’re in a typhoon? or when we’re all expecting Shanghai to be rainy and cold over the weekend, forcing you to change your picnic plans, and then it’s bright and cheery as a kid’s cartoon? Do you think we like telling you your entire holiday is going to be a deluge?

We know how you get when you look at the weather and the outlook is not positive. Your phone has a front-facing camera, you know. We don’t like your dejected frowns. We like seeing you happy! You all have such great smiles!

Anyway, to get back to the point. We have to make this clear, you dolts, you loveable, loveable oafs:

We are not the enemy….

WEATHER is!

Weather is the enemy here, not us! You won’t find us trying to defend her. She’s crazy. Crazy, crazy.

All we ask is that you don’t take our your frustration on us. 

We are friends, after all.

 

Love,

Weather apps

 

 

OTHER WEATHER STORIES:

48% of humans feel personally validated when Weather app is proven wrong

 

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48% of humans feel personally validated when Weather app is proven wrong

iphone weather

Despite predicting a relatively confident 100% chance of rain at 9:00am today, Rodger’s Weather app was foiled by the vagaries of an unpredictable climate. The morning is cloudy, to be sure, but it still hasn’t rained, and it’s 9:31.

In typical human fashion, Rodger has chalked this up as a personal validation of his John-Henry-esque superiority over the machine. It’s not a relevant comparison, as Rodger isn’t a meteorologist and the Weather app is in no way threatening his vocation, but he is sticking to it. (I think he just really needs a win lately.)

“I had a feeling it wasn’t going to rain,” Rodger confirmed. By this, we know what he really means is just that he really didn’t want to carry an umbrella, and is now bitter at having had to do so when the predicted rain did not appear.

Interestingly enough, Rodger’s feelings are in line with the Weather Apps and Humanity study released last week. The study included the now-famous data point stating that 48% of humans feel personally validated when their Weather app forecasts incorrectly.

Scientists have offered two possible explanations. One school of thought reasons that this may be due to the relative lack of visible and tangible threats faced by modern humanity, particularly urban residents. Without a visible foe over whom to regularly claim victory, such as wolves, snakes, or the sea, humans are acting out, finding challengers in Weather apps, fantasy football, and online message boards.

The second potential reason is the lack of positive engagement offered by impersonal Weather apps. Humans become confused and skeptical when new characters enter the scene, and the strange is often deemed as hostile. Weather apps have proliferated in the past decade and are now present in the pockets of a vast number of humans, and the growth may have been too rapid for flighty humanity to absorb without some measure of fear.

Adding to the problem, anti-apps activists maintain that Weather apps have done nothing to prove that they have peaceful intent and only come as helpful friends.

At press time, Weather apps were preparing to release a statement in response to the strongly-worded Weather Apps and Humanity study, which concluded with the lead scientist going on a rant about how he got soaked in a deluge the night before after his Weather app predicted ‘mostly cloudy and no rain’.

OTHER WEATHER APPS POSTS

coming soon!

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Solitary Saturday reveals lack of bench depth among David’s friends

The season has become suddenly desperate for David Tang as this weekend has revealed his lack of bench depth among his friends. While his friend group is among the strongest in the city when 100%, unexpected absences have left David in dire straits.

As every friend manager knows, you must strengthen your secondary rotation in order to weather the stretch runs of the season, especially toward the end of Q3, when business trips pick up for professionals and teachers begin their class years.

David has already called up his Mains, five buddies from the football league, but they’re all out of town for various reasons; two on holiday and three on business trips. He phoned them up knowing they were away, but he was starting to feel the early pangs of loneliness, and it was nice just to hear their voices. When he’d first learned that they would all be absent, he had hoped for the best, assuming he would be able to easily find someone who would be up for hanging out.

Yet again, we see that the smallest assumptions can cause seemingly unshakeable institutions to crumble.

David’s buddies from the office are all unavailable: Rodger is hanging out with his family, Jessie is with her weird boyfriend, and unpaid intern Candy is inexplicably speaking at a yet another professional work conference. David’s last chance for accompaniment, the three acquaintances he went to a training event with last week, are not options; two are at a retreat, and the third just isn’t ready for a spontaneous call up to the big lights of the grand stage.

Forlorn, David took a walk on the sidewalks, because the early autumn weather in Shanghai is beautiful for a stroll, though beauty unshared can be a cutting presence when one is unwillingly solitary. He tried making eye contact with passerby, in the hopes that one of them would smile and welcome him to a game of Climb Trees, or Frisbee; no such luck. No one responded to his friendly chatting in restaurants or convenience stores, his out-of-town friends weren’t picking up his international calls, and even his amiable elderly neighbours weren’t home, likely out dancing in a park.

His options were truly, dismally exhausted. There was literally no one left to hang out with.

Finally surrendering to the inevitable, David retired home to stream the Walking Dead and the final season of Parks and Rec, alone. He was only able to avoid despair by holding out hope that he could turn things around next weekend, or perhaps during a morale-lifting mid-week fixture.

 

 

 

OTHER SHANGHAI CIRCLES POSTS

new curtains first step in apartment’s aesthetic revolution

area man ponders near death experience over frozen yoghurt

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Area man ponders near death experience over frozen yoghurt

After coming literally this close to dying just over fifteen minutes ago, an area man has elected to treat himself to a froyo.

 

Over lunch, Andrew Cheng reflected on one of his most harrowing experiences to date. After having gone to a new Sichuan restaurant for lunch, “just to try it out,” Andrew reported that the irresponsible restaurant served him food so spicy that it very nearly killed him; having been taken to life’s precipice, he even had time to peer into the abyss, putting into perspective the folly of all his ways, before dousing his internals with water and bland, saving white rice.

 

“I really should’ve been able to handle that,” Andrew said in disbelief, mentally believing his Asian heritage ought to have rendered him immune to such an attack. While his parents did emigrate from Taiwan to Canada, Andrew’s tastes are fully and incontrovertibly North American, which explains his use of stupid words like froyo and inability to consume mildly Sichuan-spiced dishes without being convinced he is going to die.

 

It cannot be confirmed just how close to death’s door Andrew came, but he was surely right on the razor’s edge, considering the substantial number of cartoon chilis listed beside the menu item he ordered (three of four, ranking him as a 中辣/Medium on the house scale). As Andrew stares at the table, his froyo nearly untouched and his eyes distant as he relives the haunting episode not long past, it is evident that lunch caused streams of both mucus and tears to run down his face, leaving still visible streaks.

 

“If God spared me, He must have some grand purpose for my life,” said Andrew slowly. “I’ve been… sent back among you for some reason…” He followed up this realisation with a vacant, smiling gaze which settled upon a nearby group of humans who were also enjoying a froyo, albeit theirs lacked the peculiar spice of Having Not Just Almost Perished. Finding the benevolent, other-worldly stare from the stranger a couple tables over kind of creepy, they quickly gathered their things and left.

 

 

 

SHANGHAI CIRCLES SERIES POSTS

thousands of protestors issue joint apology to riot police

shanghai expat somehow managed to survive alone for years

man in the next stall over is having a rough time

 

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Duel between Wenger and Mourinho this weekend to be decided by lightsaber

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger looks on prior to their Champions League third round first leg soccer match against FC Twente at the Gelredome stadium in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Ermindo Armino)

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger in front of the famous dual suns of the Emirates. (Original Photo:  AP Photo/Ermindo Armino)

Having finally vowed to put all their differences to rest following the outcome of one freaking epic lightsaber battle, Premier League managers Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have been stirring up the press and their fans for support all week.

While Arsenal and Chelsea are playing through an irrelevant match on the pitch, Arsene and Jose will be in the midst of a grueling duel to decide the true victor as they dance about in the rafters of Stamford Bridge. The precise overhead location has not yet been determined, though reports suggest that it must be overly precarious and not at all practical for a lightsaber battle.

At one point, Arsene is expected to lose his footing and barely catch hold of a metal girding, narrowly avoiding a plummet to the bleachers below. This will allow him to have a heated exchange with Jose, in which a surprise plot twist will be revealed.

What they may be is anyone’s guess.

Mourinho elected not to respond to our interview requests, sending a message through an intern stating that he only talked to “real” news outlets, because he’s a twag. Word has it he will be using a double-bladed lightsaber, despite having publicly blasted opposing managers for doing the same at the start of the season.

Mourinho

Mourinho.

Mourinho’s blade colour will be red, obviously, despite the fact that he manages Chelsea; Arsene, as the unanimously-agreed good guy, received the sky blue sabre by default.

Wenger, because he cares about those of us in the honest press, kindly agreed to a brief interview.

“Jose, and his teams, they’re always a real tough test,” he explained, never one to underestimate his opponents. “However, when it comes to our lightsaber duel this weekend, I think you’re going to see that it’s us who have the upper hand.”

He declined to complain about the unfairness of the dual-bladed weapon chosen by his opponent, and despite our trying to egg him on into saying something somewhat inflammatory, or even just plain mean, like Jose would have done, Wenger would only confirm that he thought Jose had a ‘great parry’, and a left swing that could really ‘do some damage’.

This weekend, while Arsenal and Chelsea are battling it out for Premier League supremacy (if you’re Arsenal) or battling relegation (if you’re Chelsea), look to the rafters – that’s where the real fight will be going on.

As to the outcome? From this point on, we’re just as in the dark as you are.

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ARSENAL POSTS

wenger close to fulfilling ambition of fielding eleven midfielders

wenger searches to fill hole at winger

wenger quenches latest transfer rumour

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New curtains first step in apartment’s aesthetic revolution

It has been several weeks since the Lofty Garden roommates met to determine the artistic direction of their apartment, and the first visible change has just been completed. Many thanks can be thrown in the direction of their newly-hired live-in aesthetic consultant, which, apparently, is an actual thing. I can tell you more about her later; for now, let’s get straight to the action.

Freddy, Yoon, Darryl, and the live-in aesthetic consultant are standing in the living room, beholding the new curtains, which billow softly in the mild October breeze coming through the open windows.

“Yoon,” Freddy said, in that voice that tells you he’s getting emotional.

“Yes, Freddy?”

“This thing that I do now, it is a far, far better thing than any other I have done.”

“Are you quoting Les Mis? Like, comparing that to these curtains?”

“It’s not Les Mis. It’s A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens.”

“But the curtains thing.”

“…Yes.”

“….” To emphasize the ellipses, which signify judgmental silence, Yoon gave Freddy a heavy, you’re-ridiculous stare which was wasted on oblivious Freddy, lost in the dizzying mist of emotion.

“This will be my crowning achievement, Yoon. When my term is up, this is what they will look back upon. No matter what happens from here on out…”

Freddy paused, evidently attempting to avoid choking up.

“…no matter what, I’ll know I made a difference.”

The live-in aesthetic consultant stood awkwardly next to the two men while a splayed-out Darryl texted on the couch. She cleared her throat, attempting to put an end to one of the most uncomfortable exchanges she had ever witnessed, which is impressive, if you think about it, because as a live-in aesthetic consultant, you really get to see a weird side of your clients, which may or may not be due to the fact that anyone who hires a live-in aesthetic consultant is probably not exactly living in the fat, bulgy area of a standard deviation graph called Relative Sanity. Freddy, for his part, interpreted this as a request for the payment of credit due.

“All thanks to you, of course, live-in aesthetic consultant. As they say,” he continued in his Addressing the Crowd voice, “behind all great endeavors, there is a great team of support; behind every masterpiece, there is an… assistant, or an intern, or something like that, you know, someone to assist artistic geniuses and such.”

She shook her head, which Freddy assumed meant she was just as overcome by emotion as him. He continued.

“You know, some people might think it’s a bit over-indulgent for us to hire a live-in aesthetic consultant. Here we are, three grown men – surely we ought to be doing our own aesthetic consulting!

“But you get busy. You start to need an extra hand around. Life, clumsy, oafish life, gets in the way, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, life,” Freddy mused, as he continued to gaze at the curtains, rippling whispers of joy into the living room, each small wave a promise of coming beauty – raw, gritty, domestic, apartmental beauty, bought with the perseverance of a handful of brave pioneers.

 

 

LOFTY GARDENS APARTMENT SERIES

roommate meeting called to discuss artistic direction of apartment

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Roommate meeting called to discuss artistic direction

“I’ve called this Apartment Meeting to discuss something I’m sure you’ve been noticing over the past few weeks. This is not a recent trend – they never really are, are they? Today’s topic is something that has been growing for years, and it is only now beginning to rear its ugly head.”

“The data has begun to trend in a worryingly negative direction,” Freddy continued, as he began to flick through a slideshow presentation of mostly blurry iPhone photos showing different parts of the apartment.

“Mismatched curtains; noisily disorganised bookshelves; uncoordinated chair and ottoman combinations; a nonsensical couch configuration; a total lack of throw pillows; offensively inane artwork; wine with ugly labels; pots that are just gaudily coloured; hangers that aren’t even close to cohesive…”

He paused for dramatic emphasis.

“Who can live in a place like this? With the chaos of Shanghai outside, how can we return to an abode that is not a sanctuary? A habitation that is not a home? A place of noise and sound, with no music; a place of colour and lines, but no art?

“I believe it is clear to everyone present – ” he looked pointedly at both roommates in turn, holding the eyes of Yoon for two full seconds and the blue-screenlit forehead of Darryl for another two – “that the status quo is not an option. To do nothing, to choose inaction, is to choose demise.”

Freddy smiled despite himself. He loved getting all worked up and eloquent. This was going better than planned.

“It is time to ACT!” he said, kicking a cushiony ottoman nearby for emphasis, which was somewhat anticlimactic, as the doughy thing just absorbed the blow unmoving, sighing his kick away with a soft thump.

“The vibe of this apartment is what has us gathered here today, and the vibe of the apartment is what we are gathered here to change.” Yoon nodded grimly. He was catching on. He was also prone to affirm whatever happened to be the point of discussion at any given point in time. Darryl was giggling silently as he texted his girlfriend, doing that shaky-shoulders and hissing thing that people do, something that incidentally annoyed Freddy so, so very much, and especially when Darryl did it, because it was almost always during Roommate Meetings, and he was still doing it –

“Darryl!” Freddy shouted.

Darryl looked up for a moment and then resumed texting.

“DARRYL!”

Darryl looked up for a moment and then resumed texting.

“Freddy.”

Yoon’s voice thwarted the righteous tumult of Darryl-directed indignation that had gathered on the edges of Freddy’s lips. “WHAT, Yoon? What?”

“I appreciate what you’re trying to do here.”

That was unexpected. Freddy knew Yoon couldn’t tell maroon from crimson, mauve from lavender, cerulean from french blue. He’d assumed Yoon would be the most difficult to convince.

“You do?”

“Yes. I get it. We need more beauty in our home. We’re three dudes trying to survive on the surf edge of chaos.”

“That’s… yeah. I guess that’s exactly how I feel,” Freddy said, stunned by Yoon’s simple poetry.

“Well, Freddy, I’m behind you, 100%. Let’s do what needs to be done. Let’s make this place a home!”

Yoon stood from one of the nonsensically-configured couches and in two paces had crossed the room, placing a hand on Freddy’s shoulder. Darryl looked up for a moment and was on the verge of resuming texting, but he absolutely hates to miss a hug, and he could feel hugs approaching like a bird feels a storm. He stood and had his hand on Freddy’s other shoulder in a moment.

“Brothers till the end!” shouted Freddy as they embraced, and then did jumping high-fives.

“Huzzah!” they shouted in unison, as the apartment called out “Freeze Frame!” and snapped a quick Roommate Selfie. This being done, they quickly dispersed as Yoon went back to reading stock reports, Freddy went to fret over the curtains, and Darryl resumed texting.

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In Response to your Kind, if Expected, Promotion

Dear Mrs. M (and relevant team members),

While I am personally not surprised to receive an immediate promotion in your recent offer, considering that I was initially applying for a Mail Room Assistant Attendancy position, I understand that it may come as a somewhat unprecedented move for your department and/or company. I want to take a moment to set your mind and heart at ease, and to provide you with reassurances which I hope you can pass along to our coworkers. I aim to bolster their morale, seeing as how they are likely being buffeted by the bitter winds of inconstancy and change, hopelessly unaware that I will soon arrive to anchor them in stormy seas.

I will assure you that I am not unaccustomed to rapidly moving up corporate ladders. If anyone enquires, physical ladders are also no problem. I am an ascender thrice over, in a metaphorical, symbolic, and literal sense, and where I ascend, I leave a blazing trail for others to follow. (You will notice that I am not unaware of a key rule when climbing literal ladders, i.e. that one should generally avoid setting them alight; the ‘blazing trails’ bit is therefore intended to be understood solely from the metaphorical and symbolic angles.)

When aspiring, and seeking to kindle aspiration in others, the key is first impressions, really. To me, it is critically important to set out on the right foot. (My left has never been quite so talented as my right.) To take the right steps first has historically led to greater stability and more promise.

In light of this, I want to ensure that I will not be creating undue levels of jealousy and/or envy in the department which I will soon be leading. I understand how it can seem to the incumbents – who’s this outsider coming in and rocketing up the ladder, making changes, throwing their weight around, forging dreams, et cetera – and while it is true that most will have little experience around a Da Qi, or a Great Talent, as the Chinese say, I want to be sure that they know they can relate to me, even if they are Regular People.

Please prepare my way, if you will, with a kind and uplifting word to them from me. Options for the word you could distribute may include Aspire, or Ascend, both of which are heartening and carry ‘lift’ imagery; Take Heart, which is two words, but just as cheering as the first two; or Aurora Borealis, another two-word option, alluring because it sounds really nice, though I expect none of them will be familiar with it. The latter option may be the most suitable, as during my reign I do fully intend to take a department that currently resembles an icy landscape of darkness and infuse it with symphonic explosions of ethereal, burning light.

As I am sure you have noted in our correspondence, I am a Man of Letters, after all; it is only fitting that I take charge of the Hall of Words. (I trust you do not mind the rebranding of my business unit.) I am confident the locals will come around to see things from our perspective.

In sincere gratitude,

Director of the Hall of Words (formerly known as the mail room)

 

 

HALL OF WORDS SERIES POSTS

find part one here

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My Narrative CV

Dear Mrs. M,

I know you are reviewing somewhere between twelve and fifteen thousand CVs for this position.

If you do not mind, I would like to save you a little time.

My name is not important. That is, it is not important now, relative to how important it will be in a couple of decades. You would have heard of me then, if, for whatever reason, you had not decided to invite me to join your company in the coming weeks. Time will show your decision to be a masterstroke, and I’m pleased to give you an early chance to make my acquaintance. I hope you will value the immensely lucrative name-dropping you will be enabled to do as a result in just a few years’ time.

I realise that I have begun my Narrative CV with ‘I’, which is generally a no-no, but I need you to recognize quickly that I am not somebody who plays by the rules. That will be important in the role that you have prepared for me, and I am sure it will continue to be important as I rapidly advance through your business landscapes, carrying us to the greener lands which your (and soon to be our) organisation seeks.

I also feel that it is important to explain the heartbeat behind this Narrative CV. I believe that I am not just a list of bullet points and percentage marks and dates and text, you see; I am a story, just like each other soul. To be fair, most people do not carry the weight of destiny, as I do, but you will see that I carry it with grace and aplomb. It is not easy, really, to prepare to be a best-selling author, an acclaimed playwright, and, in all likelihood, a future President, but I pull it off. Normal humans also have their struggles, I am sure, and I can empathise.

You will find that I am quite meticulous when it comes to details. I can give you one example. Being the young embodiment of a future societal hero and sage, as I am, I am disciplined in recording every detail of my personal life, to save time for the people who will someday rake my past for detailed advice and wisdom. Every restaurant where I eat, every hotel in which I stay, every bookstore from which I source my personal library; you will find that my paper trail is every bit as long as my list of qualifications for this position.

Finally, I am informed that you think it is very important that candidates for my position understand ‘feelings’ and exhibit high levels of empathy for clients and coworkers. I do have emotions, and I have cried, once before, so I am more than qualified in that respect. It was a good cry I had, with sobbings and heavings and all that. It was thorough enough that afterward I was pretty much sorted out. I haven’t had to cry since.

If you need to cry when I accept your offer – the accepting being a formal matter of ceremony, of course, as the offer itself is a foregone conclusion – I would understand. I wouldn’t join, but I would understand. (I also write poetry, as any scholar-statesman must. If you don’t cry when I accept the offer, you most definitely will when you read the words I have heart-bled onto paper.)

It is with the utmost gratitude that I thank you for this offer, which I imagine you are just on the point of sending over. I have most of my email accounts, all of my personal websites, and my LinkedIn profiles ready for your message, and I look forward to impressing you in person. I appreciate your opening of this offer to other applicants, in order to preclude charges of preferential treatment, which are generally thrown about by unfortunates with below average levels of talent, ability, and intelligence.

Signed,

The Carrier of Grandeur

 

 

HALL OF WORDS SERIES POSTS

find part 2 here

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