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exponentiation ezine: issue [7.0:news]

Altruism is Abandoned
February 10, 2008

AUSTIN, TX - In a sweeping change yesterday in the nature of charity, a number of prominent and popular causes, once thought glamorous to pursue, have been largely abandoned by local activists.

The drastic turnabout is thought to stem from local attacks by Purpose, who according to police is a longtime rival of so-called "activists" and activist causes, particularly those of a self-styled "altruist" bent. Sometimes referred to as Meaning, Purpose has been known to make simple thoughts and convictions with regard to reality painful to bear, often blindsiding victims with pangs of responsibility and re-instated self-doubt, destroying unnecessary ego, and resulting in total retreat from visible activist work.

John Foley, a local Darfur genocide activist and alleged victim of Purpose, described his attack as "surprising" and "vicious".

"I have no idea what happened...one moment I was sitting in the coffee shop ranting about the monumental injustice of the Bush administration's complacency about Darfur, and the next I felt an awful, sharp pain in my stomach and thought I heard someone mock me for my selfish whining, telling me to do something useful." When asked what this meant for the future of his work, Foley quickly added, "There won't be any. Stopping genocide on the other side of the planet is not worth this kind of trauma" and returned to nursing a latte.

Like Foley, many of yesterday's victims have reported hearing distinct taunts, though this could not be corroborated by witnesses. Reports of contents of the taunts ranged from "your methods and goals are ineffective" and "you're only doing this for yourself" to "you would never really suffer for what you believe".

For many activist-victims, the taunts purportedly used as a part of the attacks were the worst part of their experience. "Hearing that my sacrifices were irrelevant was...like, much worse than the taste of bile in my throat and sinking feeling in my gut" admitted Mindy Ungerman, a Green advocate and event leader. "I mean, I gave up my toaster and regular bathing for the Earth...it hurts not to be recognized for that. Pain like this makes me just want to drop the shallow moral pretense and try to re-examine my place in things."

An unintended consequence of these attacks has been the mass discarding of sign making material typically employed by activists for protests. The markers and paint, in many cases discarded haphazardly, have volatilized or made their way through the city's storm sewer system, threatening the local watershed. Paper and poster board has also made its way to the Colorado River and has become problematic for local wildlife. Amanda Nielsen, a city government employee in charge of pollution and waste management, was aghast at the lack of volunteers for the immediate clean-up effort: "I thought this city was full of self-sacrificing activists and other do-gooder types. This problem is real and immediate...why is nobody around to help?"


US Federal Reserve Acts on Grade Inflation
February 13, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC (EFN) - Citing fears of the possibility of runaway grade inflation, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, announced today the Fed's decision to raise the grade interest rate by half a percent.

The Fed, normally concerned with economic matters only, and the recent source of consecutive interest rate cuts in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage debacle, surprised many by their sudden foray into education and social policy. Bernanke was quick to defend the move. In an uncharacteristically candid and animated explication of the power grab, he stated "Grade inflation, despite the feel good 'everybody wins' culture it helps sustain, is tearing this country apart from the inside. It frankly has more to do with economic matters than the head games we normally play with rate changes and forecasts for money that doesn't really exist."

Asked to elaborate, Bernanke became visibly irritated, but continued calmly: "Look. See how the US dollar is nose-diving under the general realization that it is tied to nothing of concrete value? The same goes for an 'A' passed to a typical student for mediocre work in American History. As soon as the meaninglessness of that 'A' is understood it will become totally worthless. We are propping up entire generations with 'intelligence capital' that just isn't there, just as we have spent away our future on tract housing and fried food on Arab and Chinese credit, and not actual labor or resources."

After receiving quizzical looks from the journalists present, Bernanke became more violent. "This couldn't be any simpler," he started, "but I'll speak more slowly so you can write it down. WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The basis for our entire society is completely in our heads. We have raised a nation of slovenly idiots, people who think they can get something for nothing, whether it is in mortgage borrowing or high school algebra. Look around, we are obviously not getting smarter, yet the percentage of students reporting 'A' averages in high school has gone up 40% in 30 years. Does this seem sensible to you? Does this seem like REALITY?" After pounding the podium and catching his breath, Bernanke finished by adding, "we hope the increase in the grade interest rate will curb this problem long enough for me and my cronies to buy a nice armored house on a remote piece of fenced property while you morons grapple over the post-apocalyptic scraps. Goodbye."

Local teachers unions, asked to comment, described their work with grading as "dutiful" and "patriotic." Lance Boyer, a science teacher at Al Sharpton Junior High School, unhesitantly justified his work on further grounds: "Everyone likes good grades. So what? Even if they don't earn them, I don't mind giving them something to keep them in line. For one, who knows who might be packing heat? I don't want to disappoint their overfed, overbearing, and entitled baby-boomer and Gen X parents, either, or get the diversity mongers on my back if I give a bad grade to the wrong person. Everybody wins as far as I'm concerned. I take my paltry paycheck and scram, glad enough no higher-ups bother me about those undisclosed felonies on my record."

Upon news of the rate increase, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed more than 700 points, an all time record gain for the index.

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