Local Banker Loses Everything

Ebenezer Scrooge in the throws of a nervous breakdown

London, U.K. – Local banker Ebenezer Scrooge has recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Scrooge had been one of the most successful and financially well-off individuals in all of London.  He ran a profitable money-lending operation and had made a fortune in the commodities market, earning him a nickname among traders as the “Meal Man.”  Scrooge was thought to be one of the most incisive and calculating minds in all of economics.

“His returns year over year were astounding,” said Liam Blithwart, an analyst for Coldwrench and Pricklestaff, LLC.  “If you look at his balance sheet, he was posting triple-digit revenue comps.”  Scrooge’s tactics had been wildly successful if not controversial.  Last July he invested into a financially unstable orphanage.  He eliminated the existing staff’s salary, liquidated the physical plant and repurposed the building into a tannery.  The venture netted him a small fortune.

Scrooge was a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner by most accounts.  As this reputation solidified, so did Scrooge’s place among the economic elite.  Scrooge owned a penthouse in downtown London that was perhaps the largest on the street.

Scrooge was doing well for himself.  However, on Christmas day of this past year sources say that Ebenezer Scrooge experienced a full-blown nervous breakdown.

Nephew Fred: “My uncle has developed what we believe to be a mixed anxiety depressive disorder coupled with paranoid delusional fantasies.  He said that ghosts had visited him and told him to reform.  He was running around donating his money to poorhouses, giving raises to his employees, and contributing funds to medical research.  It manifested itself in an acute timeline and ended up costing him his company and his livelihood.”

Scrooge has now been relegated to street life.  He roams the alleyways and dumpsters looking for food and giving away what surplus he has.

“It’s a truly pitiful thing,” says Blithwart.  “He was on the right track and something happened to him that caused him to lose his way.”

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Living with Kierkegaard

Ed note – I didn’t really even know who Kierkegaard was before this writing this article.  He just seemed like one of those people who you’re supposed to know. 

“The Rent” is a construct created by man. And I do not abide.

Soren Kierkegaard lives in a small studio apartment with Paul, a salesman at a local carpet manufacturer.  They got hooked up on Craigslist. We join the two as Paul is returning home to find his unemployed roommate on the couch.  The Danish philosopher’s heady thoughts and constant ponderings make living with him a bit of a chore. 

Paul: Hi Soren.  What have you been doing all day?

Kierkegaard:  Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself. 

Paul: Ok.  I guess that’s code for drinking Mountain Dew and playing NHL ‘13 all day.  Well that’s just great.  Hey, could you help me with the groceries?  I’ve got two more bags down in the car.

Kierkegaard: I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations.  One can either do this or that.  My honest and my friendly advice is this: do it or do it not – you will regret both. 

Paul: (Sigh) You know, referring to yourself as “oneself” is really annoying. 

PAUL opens the refrigerator to put away some greek yogurt he bought at the store.

Paul: Hey.  Where’s my thing of Apple Cider?  Did you drink that?

Kierkegaard: Perhaps.

Paul: Well what the “F” Soren?!?  I put a label on it that said, “Paul’s – Do NOT Drink.”  Didn’t you see it?

Kierkegaard: The cider lived by my rule: once you label me, you negate me.

Paul: I don’t really think the carton of cider had a problem.  I think you have a problem.  This is exactly like the time you ate that pasta salad that my mom gave me on the Fourth of July.  She made it without onions specifically for me.  Why can’t you believe that sometimes you shouldn’t touch other people’s food?

Kierkegaard: It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.

Paul: That’s it.  I can’t deal with this.  I’m taking a bath and I don’t want to be disturbed.

PAUL walks out of the room and slams the bathroom door shut.

Kierkegaard: Don’t forget to love yourself!

Paul (muffled): Shut UP!

Job Interview with a Vampire

Dreth, a 400 year old Bulgarian nightwalker, has recently been laid off from his most recent job.   Dreth is excited to finally get an opportunity to interview, especially with a great company like GXT.  GXT’s HR Manager, Karen walks into the room to greet him.  They both stand and exchange hand/claw shakes.

Karen: Hi Dreth?

Dreth: Yes that’s me.

Karen:  Hi I’m Karen.

Dreth: Yes Karen, of course.  I recognize your voice from our phone conversation.  Nice to finally meet you.  Thanks for being accommodating and scheduling my interview before dawn.

Karen: It’s no problem at all.  I’m usually here around 6:30 anyway.  Not a very big change in my schedule.  Just needed one more cup of coffee today.

Dreth:  Haha!  I hear you.

Karen: Now you live over in Greenlawn if I’m not mistaken.  Did it take you very long to get here?

Dreth: Oh not at all.  When I turn into a bat, I can cover a lot of distance in a relatively short amount of time.  I’m lucky in that I don’t have to deal with I-90.

Karen: You are lucky.  I wish I could turn into a bat and fly through the sky to avoid traffic.

Dreth: We’ll see how you feel about that during hawk-mating season.  Whoo!  It gets pretty hairy out there.

Karen:  Well, obviously you are applying for our Junior Analyst job.  You have an extremely extensive resume, I counted 60 pages of experience.  So why apply for a job that is essentially entry-level?

Dreth: You’re right.  At first glance it certainly seems like I’m taking a step back.  But I’ll be four-hundred and thirteen years old this March.  I’ve had to reinvent myself a number of times in order to stay employed all those years.  I was a cooper for decades in the 1800’s.  Unfortunately, the demand for handmade wooden barrels phased out with the whale blubber trade and I had to readjust.  I’m comfortable that I can learn anything if given the proper training.

Karen: What about compensation?  Can someone with your level of experience afford to take a lower paying job?

Dreth: Money has never really been a concern for me.  I purchased my 25 room mansion in Greenlawn in 1902 for one hundred and thirteen dollars, which was a lot at the time.  I haven’t had a mortgage payment in a century.  Plus, I was able to make some investments in the British Tea Trade back in the 1700’s, so I’m still sitting on a lot of Spanish bullion.  I’m really looking for a challenging new opportunity more than monetary compensation.

Karen: This job is very data driven, but it also requires the ability to present a convincing argument.  Tell me about a time where you were able to convince someone to do something your way.

Dreth: Sure.  I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the term “glamouring.”  But basically it’s a form of hypnosis which requires that I make eye contact with a human and have them do my bidding.  I can literally get them to do anything I want.  Invite me into their house, kill a family member, or choose my recommended solution.  The drawback is that it doesn’t work on other vampires, powerful witches, maenads, fairies or other supernatural creatures.  Although, I’m not sure how many people in your forecasting department are maenads.  Nevertheless, I’ve been able to convince literally hundreds of humans to allow me to make them part of my undead harem.

Karen: Great.  We’re looking for leaders who can develop the people around them.  Tell me about a time that you were able to get someone underneath you promoted.

Dreth: Absolutely.  In 1962, I bit and turned a relatively young, attractive man from Seattle.  He had lots of potential.  Wide-eyed optimism, lots of energy.  He was fun to drain.  However, he didn’t react to becoming a vampire very well.  He was used to having a heartbeat, brainwaves, breathing.  All the trappings of mortal existence.  He fell into a little bit of a funk.  He was lethargic on hunts.  He slept all night and stayed up all day.  However, he was very ambitious at his core.  Under my tutelage he mastered many of the unique powers that vampires possess within a few months.  Unfortunately he resented his turning so much that he decided to make a career out of slaying vampires like me.  Right now he’s one of the most respected and feared vampire slayers in all of the Northwest Territory.  Have you ever heard of “Dreadhand” Sullivan?

Karen: I’m afraid not.

Dreth: Well he’s very influential.  Gives TED talks, blogs about vampire slayings, the works.

Karen: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Dreth: Well definitely not in a mirror, that’s for sure.  Obviously I’m joking.  I’d like this to be the last stop on my career if possible.  It depends on if I feel like this is the place for me.  What other perks are there working for GXT?

Karen:  We have great benefits.  We’ve got an outstanding 401k program, adoption assistance, medical coverage including a fantastic dental plan.

Dreth: Karen, I hate to interrupt this interview but I’ve noticed that the sun is starting to rise.  I can’t be in sunlight as the photons will disintegrate my skin and may permanently release me from this tainted blue orb.

Karen: No problem at all.  We here at GXT can accommodate any disability recognized by the ADA.  You’ll hear from us soon.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (As told by Ayn Rand)

Ayn Rand – Novelist, Philosopher, and Perrenial Wet-Blanket for the Soul

Christmas, as we know it, is ostensibly centered on the birth of a Savior.  A mystical being sent down from high in order to sacrifice himself for the dregs of society.  This construct has and always will be illogical to me, and therefore is not relevant.  However, there is one Christmas legend that espouses the tenants of my philosophy of Objectivism.  It is Rudolph the Exceptionally-Nosed Reindeer.  

Rudolph was born into a system of indentured servitude in the North Pole.  Each Reindeer had little choice but to become a factory cog in the machine that is Santa Claus’ fascist operation.  This tyrannical dictator wanted all of his pieces to fall in line because it was their duty.  Elves, reindeer, even Mrs. Claus all were subjected to the myth of “duty.”   They felt a moral obligation to perform certain actions for no other reason than obedience to some higher authority, without regard to any personal goal, motive desire, or interest.  So it went with Rudolph.

However, Rudolph was born with an exceptional talent that the rest of his peers did not recognize.  He had a shiny nose.  As soon as this nose was revealed to be an asset, he was ostracized and outcast.  All of the other reindeer feared that they would become obsolete with the development of his particular skill set.  Thousands of years ago the first man discovered how to make fire. He too was probably burned at the stake.  He had taught his brothers to light, but he left them a gift they had not conceived of: he lifted darkness off the earth.  Rudolph was about to do the same. 

Then one Christmas Eve came when the weather was decidedly inclimate.  Clouds descended upon the world like the vapors of time.  When Santa Claus knew that he could not make his deliveries without Rudolph skills, he approached the alienated reindeer and begged him to help.  It seems to me that Rudolph could have abstained.  He would be granting mercy to a man who showed him none in the past.  However, Rudolph’s hatred for the man in the red suit was outweighed by his love of performing his work.  He knew that he was born to lead sleigh teams on Christmas Eve.

The blinking red nose shone brightly in the fog and the presents were delivered on time, overcoming unthinkable odds.  Rudolph lived happily ever after because happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.

This legend has fueled the part of Christmas which is perhaps the most beneficial, namely the commercialization.  The gift-buying stimulates an enormous output of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give mankind pleasure.