Here’s the deal. Those who have been reading my blog since the beginning will know that two weeks ago I wrote the classic post, “Vs. WikiHow Part I.” Since then, I’ve given a lot of thought about how to best follow this up…then it hit me – Part II. It’s perfect. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t have taken so long for me to come up with it.

WikiHow (or WikiWhy as I prefer to call it) has a tremendous collection of thought-provoking, useful articles. Just kidding. It’s got stuff like this -

(1) How to Get Rich Quick. This article honestly contains the following suggestions: play the lottery, gamble, and sell your plasma. “Gambling is one of the easiest ways to make large sums of money instantly,” says WikiHow and no one who’s ever been to Vegas ever.

blood(2) How to Fake Your Own Death. “Sometimes in life you may need to fake your own death.” WikiHow, you know me better than I know myself, there have been many times in my life when I’ve needed to fake my own death. I’m on my fourth identity already. Here are their actual steps: Decide whether or not you really want to do this, Stop using anything that will be traceable back to you, Watch out for little things that may give you away, Decide on a death method, and Do it. I just love how they make the most complex things so incredibly simple. Faking your own death – Just Do It.

death

No, she’s not deciding on what to order at Starbucks, this is a woman figuring out whether or not she should fake her own death. Hmmmm…it could be fun…

(3) How to Make Your Girlfriend Want to Have Sex with You. Some pictures really are worth a thousand words…

sex

(4) How to Convince Your Friends to Buy You a Llama for Your Birthday. Finally, a how-to article we can all relate to. Step 1, “Make your love for llamas obvious…mention llama fun facts at dinner.” This is great advice but, unfortunately, there are no llama fun facts. All facts about llamas are decidedly not fun. Other suggestions include “Discussing llamas over coffee,” and “Writing llama related articles for WikiHow.” Sounds to me like someone wants a llama for their birthday…

llama

The only thing she loves more than llamas is meth.

(5) How to Start Your Own Country. First things first…

country

I know I’m just a beginner here, but it looks like the language is going to be English. I love how dedicated this guy is to naming his new country, he even wrote down “Name” in case he forgets what he’s doing. And my favorite line so far from a WikiHow article, “You can think about it.”

Okay, you’ve picked out a nice name for your new country, what’s next? Well, you’ll need some land. WikiHow suggests that you “conquer an existing country. There are many small island nations dotting the Pacific, and it’s unlikely they have much of a defense force. Sure, it’s crazy—but crazy enough that it might just work! All you need is an army, a navy, and the support of the world community.” That’s right, all you need is an army, a navy, and the support of the world community…of course, if you already have those things, chances are you already have a country.

Nice. You’ve got a name, you’ve got some land. Now what? “Invite your friends. One of the key requirements for a nation—aside from territories—will be a population. If the land you conquer or build doesn’t come with an indigenous people, you will have to bring your own to the party.” Oh, WikiHow, is there anything you haven’t thought of? (Seriously, you’re telling people how to get others to buy them a llama…is there anything you haven’t thought of?)

Perfect. You’ve got a name. You’ve got land. You’ve got a population. Anything else? “These days, if you’re serious about anything (and creating a micronation can be serious, indeed), then you will have a website.” Right, you used your army and navy to conquer a small island nation – time to post about it!

Of course, WikiHow also notes that, “You are free to declare yourself a country, anytime, and anywhere. However, nobody will take you seriously, which translates to the simple truth that you will have no legitimacy as a nation.” Well…every plan has its downsides.

WikiHow is truly a treasure trove of useless information. I could go on and on, but I have to go get a llama, fake my own death, get rich quick, start my own country and (this is the tough one) make my girlfriend want to have sex with me.

Here’s the deal. Friends recently introduced me to this awesome thing called the internet. It’s on computers and some phones. It’s full of funny videos, cats, and people you almost remember from high school…look, my words don’t do it justice, you should just check it out for yourself.

Unfortunately, in addition to being the greatest thing ever, the internet is also quite terrible. And some argue that all of our screen time is making us stupider and badder writers and stupider. Take, for instance, WikiHow. How silly are most of the how-to articles on this site? So silly that I titled this blog post “Part I” not knowing what my hypothetical Part II would consist of, but confident that this site would provide ample fodder.

WikiHow features such essential articles as “How to Check Out a Library Book” in 6 easy steps. That’s 100% true, there is an article that stretches this process to six steps. I can simplify the process a little – How to Check Out a Library Book in 1 easy step: Check Out a Library Book.

Or how about “How to Rip Paper” (also in 6 steps). This article begins with the wise words, “Have you ever needed/wanted to shred unwanted documents, homework, junk mail or papers the right way, without a pair of scissors or a paper shredder on hand? Now you can!” Okay…is there really a human being anywhere on the planet who has a pile of paper they need ripped and can’t figure out how to do it? A single one? A solitary organism that could find this article even remotely useful? Their target audience is nobody.

But I’m going to focus my energy today on the WikiHow article, “How to Make Friends.” As with the above examples, they include quite a bit of filler and stretch this one out to 24 steps. Unlike the above examples, there are some people who genuinely need help in this area. But, like the above examples, they will find no help in this article.

Let’s dig right in. Step 1. “Spend more time around people.” Are you taking notes? In order to make friends, you will need to be in the company of humans other than yourself. Great tip.

Steps 2 and 3. “Join an organization or club with people who have common interests/Join a sports team.”

ping pong

Or, apparently, invent a new sport. Such as a version of ping pong where two new friends stand next to each other and both serve a ball into play simultaneously.

Step 5. “Talk to people.” This actually helped me a lot. I used to try and make friends by walking up to them and then just staring at them with saying a word. Not terribly successful. I’ve begun to implement their speaking strategy and it’s really working out.

Step 7. “Start a conversation.” This is a bad sign. They’re only seven steps into a twenty four step article and they’re already repeating themselves. Sure, if you want to make new friends, try talking to people. And if that doesn’t work, try starting a conversation. They even offer conversation starters. For example, they suggest saying, “At least it’s not raining like last week.” Yeah, that’s a humdinger. If someone came up to me and said that, I think I will have found a friend for life. Another conversation starter from the geniuses at WikiHow, “Can you help me carry a few boxes?” That’s right, there’s no better way to make a friend than to go up to a total stranger and ask them to do manual labor for you.

Step 8. “Make small talk.” Seriously. I’m not making this up. They just keep suggesting that you talk to people.

Step 11. “Pursue common interests.” Wait, this sounds a lot like Step 2, where you “Join an organization or club with people who have common interests.” Did they think we would have forgotten already as it was nine steps ago?

nose

“Hi, do you want to talk and start a conversation about a common interest?”

“Yes, I can see that we both are missing noses. Shall we make small talk about this, potential friend?”

Step 15. “Be a good friend.” About a third of the steps in this article are more about how to act towards your friends than how to make a new friend. I imagine that in the WikiHow article How to Shop for a New Car, they would provide such advice as – park your car in the garage to protect it from the elements.

minotaur

“Even though you’re a minotaur, I’m going to be a good friend to you. Let’s go drive my car I need to shop for.”

Step 22. “Be confident.” This is the closest they ever got to being helpful. Feelings of inadequacy and self-esteem issues could actually prevent people from making new friends. Unfortunately, WikiHow took a topic that therapists could deal with for years and reduced it to a two word solution. Thanks, WikiHow, now that you’ve told me to be confident, I’m fully equipped to be confident. It’s like that time you cured my fear of heights by telling me not to be afraid of heights.

So that’s the problem with WikiHow, they take an issue and simultaneously oversimplify the important parts while endlessly repeating the obvious points. And the pictures are kind of creepy.

So, if you want to make new friends, all you really have to do is spend time around people and talk to them. That is, as soon as you finish using the internet to scroll through a 24 step article about how you need to get out more.

Here’s the deal. The world has a proud history of individuals and groups successfully protesting injustice. But not every protestor has a great game plan…

Take, for example, Mr. Chris Sevier. As a means of protesting gay marriage, this gentleman petitioned for the right to marry his computer. He claimed that he should have the equal right to marry his “preferred sexual object.” Wow. Trying to marry a computer to protest gay marriage, that’s like…trying to marry a computer to protest gay marriage. Yes, it’s so absurd that the action itself is the best example of its own absurdity.

This would be like protesting the death penalty by stomping on Twinkies. It’s just difficult to make a logical comparison between an action involving a person and an action involving an inanimate object. But I’m sure you and your laptop will have many happy months, until it’s rendered obsolete.

If you want your protest to be taken seriously, it really needs to make sense. In Sweden, the Feminist Initiative decided to protest the discrepancy in pay between men and women. They calculated that women made 100,000 kronor ($13,000) less than men every minute across the country. An important issue? Sure. But how did they protest this gap in wages? By burning 100,000 kronor. Hmmmm, what exactly is this message? Pay us more money or we’ll keep lighting fire to money? You’re destroying that which you’re asking for. How do we know that if their wages aren’t increased, they won’t just build another cash bonfire?

And, while we’re on the subject of taking the time to have a clear message, let’s talk about signage. The Tea Party, for example, is notorious for being able to almost spell a lot of words. Come on now people, most of these signs have fewer than a dozen words on them – would it kill you to take five minutes to double check? If you’re trying to make an informed comment on politicians, the constitution, and issues of the day it never hurts to be able to spell “politicians,” “constitution,” and “day.”

respect-are-country-english[1]

You see, protesting used to be about something, nowadays people just like to make noise. Have you heard of rolling coal? For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, people with big trucks are spending lots of money to outfit their vehicles so that they emit giant plumes of black smoke. Apparently, this is somehow a protest against environmentalists. But the online videos that show these people blasting pedestrians with clouds of toxic smoke raise some doubt as to the thought they put into their “protests.” Guess what, most people don’t want to look like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, and shoving your exhaust down everyone else’s throat only proves one thing…you’re just not very nice.

Of course, no one is better at being just not very nice than the Westboro Baptist Church. Their bread and butter is protesting homosexuals, but, because they know God’s opinion on everything, they are ever expanding. They’ve protested Jews, Catholics, Harry Potter, Lady Gaga, the Kansas City Chiefs, HBO, iPhones, Swedish vacuum cleaners, and probably just about anything else you can imagine. On the positive side, they did tweet that God loves bagels. So…there’s that. Yes, the church’s twitter page (with the exception of church members, they only follow Fox News and Sarah Palin…how’s that for a horrific endorsement?) is one long string of hate. The only thing they do without discrimination is protest. If there’s something out there (other than bagels), they’ll find a reason to condemn it.

And maybe that’s the biggest problem. People used to protest because they believed in something. Now it seems that most people aren’t protesting for a change – they’re protesting against one. They’re not offering a way to make the world a better place, they’re just blasting away at all the things that don’t fit into their world view. Having a sign is fine. Having an idea is better.

Here’s the deal. Have you seen the infomercial for the Rapid Ramen Cooker? If not, go youtube that sucker real swift like. Here, I’ll do it for you, THIS is the link. I’ll wait…

Okay. Now that we’re all on the same page, what the hell is up with the Rapid Ramen Cooker? Let’s be perfectly clear, this is a small, plastic container for cooking ramen noodles in your microwave. Which is very close to the definition of something no one needs.

The main selling point is that it cooks the noodles faster. Am I missing something? Weren’t instant noodles already the absolute easiest thing to cook in the universe? They’re called instant noodles. How can instant not be fast enough for you? Do you want the noodles to appear, fully cooked, before you even know that you’re hungry? What is happening to the world?!?

Nobody needs a way to get this “food” into your body faster. These pre-cooked blocks of dried noodles have a shelf life of three to four centuries. We’re not in a hurry.

It’s a miracle!

But let’s break down the infomercial beat by beat to see just what makes Rapid Ramen so revolutionary. Here are a series of actual quotes from the Rapid Ramen infomercial and website with my thoughts…

“You know you love Ramen noodles.”     Are you a college student… we’re hoping you’re a college student.

“But it takes too long to cook in a pot.”     It does not take too long to cook Ramen noodles in a pot.

“Rapid Ramen makes perfect noodles in half the time.”     If you want perfect noodles, you should probably be willing to spend more than fourteen cents on your dinner. And if your time is so valuable that the difference between a six minute meal and a three minute meal is a deal breaker, chances are you’re not eating this stuff in the first place.

“Heat resistant handles.”     It has handles.

“Engineered in the same dimension as a block of Ramen noodles.”     It’s a rectangle.

“The patented reservoir design circulates just the right amount of water for ideal heat distribution.”     If you put water in a plastic container in the microwave, the water will boil.

“Reusable.”    Of course it’s freaking reusable, it’s a small, plastic container.

“Easy to remove from microwave.”     As opposed to what? That time you tried to microwave a greased up bowling ball?

“Never use pots or pans again.”     Sure, if the only thing you’re ever going to eat for the rest of your life is microwaved Ramen noodles.

“Clever cooking design”     Seriously?

“We are not responsible if information made available on this site is not accurate, complete, or current. Any reliance on the material on this site is at your own risk.”     At last, we agree.

Here’s the deal. There are roughly fifty states in America. And each state has at least four cities. But that’s no excuse for lazy city naming. For example, twenty-eight states have a city named after the state (New York, NY, Kansas City, KS, et.) – is there any way to put less effort into naming your city? Why not just call it City City? Pitiful. Then there’s Alabama, NY, Montana, WI, Alaska, NM, New Mexico, MD, Texas, NY, and New York, TX. Seriously? There are so many words out there, why do we keep using the same ones over and over? Thirty-five states have a Greenville. Look, if I was that 35th state, I think I might have raised my hand and suggested a name that wasn’t already a city in every other state – at least change the color. Magentaville has a ring to it.

Fortunately, some cities have stepped up to the plate and come up with truly interesting and unique names. Lest I be accused of xenophobia, first let me acknowledge the three international honorable mentions.

Top Three International Best City Names

3. Humpty Doo, Australia

2. Moose Factory, Canada

1. Middlefart, Denmark

And now, the moment virtually none of you have been waiting for…

Top Ten Best U.S. City Names

11. Humptulips, WA – States need not feel the pressure to have their city names make any kind of sense, just put some sounds together and see what happens.

10. Ninety Six, SC – And when you can’t come up with an original word, try using a number. This city name is even more interesting as no one seems to have any idea where it came from…they got 96 problems but an unoriginal town name ain’t one.

9. Disco, IL – You have to have big disco balls to name your city after a seventies dance craze. My fingers are crossed for The Hustle, Oklahoma.

8. Toad Suck, AR – What happens in Toad Suck…no, really, it’s a question – what does happen in Toad Suck?

7. Nothing, AZ – Actual sign outside of the city: “Town of Nothing Arizona. Founded 1977. Elevation 3,269 feet. The staunch citizens of Nothing are full of Hope, Faith, and Believe in the work ethic. Through the years these dedicated people had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing.” Unfortunately, the town was recently abandoned and there’s now nothing there.

6. Pee Pee, OH – I try to be mature. I try to be an adult. But, come on, a place called Pee Pee? That’s almost as good as Middlefart. So, if you go to Ohio, you can actually visit an area where over seven thousand people live in Pee Pee.

5. Nimrod, AR – Do we call them Nimrodians? Nimrodites? Or just plain Nimrods?

4. (tie) Why, AZ and Whynot, MS – The question so many people have asked when moving to the Southwest…”Why Arizona?” And the answer to why people choose to live in Mississippi – why not?

3. Zzyzx, CA – Probably the most fun to say on the list. And points for not worrying about being at the bottom of an alphabetical grouping.

2. Unalaska, AK – This is the exact opposite of NY, NY. It’s Unalaska, Alaska. How is it possible? It’s simultaneously Alaska and not Alaska. I like it. 

1. Monkey’s Eyebrow, KY – Strangely specific and entirely nonsensical. We have a winner.

Here’s the deal. I saw a movie some time ago and, following the films final images, the screen went black…and then read – “The End?” This is not good. And not unique to this particular movie (and, no, I can’t recall what movie it was). A number of cinematic features have employed this clever end title over the years, and I think we can tolerate it no more.

Often “The End” will appear first and then, after a beat, the coy question mark will appear. To which I say – make up your mind, gosh darn it! Is this or is this not the end of the movie? You made the movie. You should know when it’s over.

Look, I have no problem with a good, old fashioned “To Be Continued.” Whether used accurately, as in Back to the Future, or as a failed promise, as the end credits of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension incorrectly guaranteeing his return in Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League. The point is, if you want the audience to know that you’re planning a sequel, it’s okay to just let them know. Adding a question mark after “The End” doesn’t make you appear mysterious, it makes you seem like you don’t know what the hell is going on.

I could continue my rant. If I had more information. You see, I wanted to look over a list of all of the movies that had utilized this unacceptable end credit punctuation…but no such list exists. Which brings up an even bigger issue – apparently the internet does not know everything!!!

I know, I know, take a moment. Catch your breath. It’s a game changer. Granted, when I was growing up and I wanted to know something I had to either (a) ask an adult, (b) look in a book, or (c) sadly face the fact that I would never really know anything, but nowadays I fully expect for Google to be able to answer any ridiculous question that pops in my head. But when I asked everyone’s favorite search engine to give me a list of all movies that ended with “The End?” there was nothing to be found. Not a single article addressing this issue. Nary a blog post. Wikipedia was bare.

Sure, if you want to know any number of ridiculous other things, the internet is there for you. If, for example, you’re pining for a list of Strangely Specific Apology Cakes, you’re all set.

If you’re desperate for information regarding the Things You Can’t Bring to the Sochi Olympic Games (for example, no meteorological equipment was allowed), merely type the words.

And if you’re looking for a list of Good Places to Cuddle in Public, that’s easily found as well. Obviously I’m not arguing against the fact that “Under a tree,” and “The Zoo,” are exceptional places to cuddle in public. Everyone knows that. I’m just a little upset that these crazy lists are available and my crazy list is not.

The world has changed. I have changed. I am no longer capable of finding information on my own. I don’t know how to do it. And Google is to blame. Listen up, Google, if you’re going to create a world in which everything we ever need to know is available at our fingertips, in mere seconds, via your site…you better darn well make sure that everything we need to know is available at our fingertips, in mere seconds, via your site. And you’ve left me wanting. I need a list of every movie ever made that chose to put a question mark in the end credits. I can’t possibly go and watch every single movie ever made in an insane effort to compile this list myself. That’s what the internet was built for – for all of the crazy people with bizarrely specific obsessions to do the leg work for the rest of us.

So please, Google, use your autobots and drones to read this post and correct this error. (And, again, I apologize for getting upset and trying to sacrifice you to Satan. My bad).

Here’s the deal. When I was growing up I had to remember only one password – the three digit combination to the tiny padlock on my purple, Care Bears diary. Granted, I didn’t have all of the responsibilities of an adult, but as a nineteen year old, it was refreshing to only concern myself with the recollection of this one password. It’s a little different today.

According to an official sounding study I located, the average adult today has 25 password-protected accounts. Furthermore, the average adult uses only 6.5 passwords to protect these accounts. Which begs the question – what good is half a password? Does it, perchance, get you access to the face but not the book? Very suspicious.

But I can hardly blame the average adult, it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all of the passwords we need to get through a day in our digital age. I know that I can’t remember all of my passwords. I have 46 passwords written on the back page of my padlocked, purple, Care Bears diary – and I am constantly referencing this page when I need to access any of my many important online accounts. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to write down our passwords, but I don’t know what else to do. It’s the Catch-22 of passwords that the easier it is for you to remember, the easier it is for a hacker to guess. Unfortunately, the harder a password is for you to remember, the harder it is for you to remember, thus rendering the password fairly pointless as your inability to recall it denies you access to whatever it is that password was protecting in the first place.

And passwords are only getting more and more complicated. Many sites are now requiring you to use both uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers and special characters. It’s pretty easy for me to remember the password for my ATM (“Money Now”), it’s a little bit trickier for me to recall the password for my LinkedIn account (“2*goPW671#bLLlL39?vF21>4 Now”). And now many sites will kick you off, or accuse you of not being human, or deny you access all together after you incorrectly guess your password three times. Why should we have to be guessing our own passwords in the first place? But this has happened to me many times. Granted, I’m taking educated guesses, but I have no idea what most of my own passwords are. And when I try to create a new password, the site just tries to make me feel bad when that little password strength meter comes up and informs me that my current password choice is “weak.” Hey, screw you, password strength meter – I’m doing the best that I can over here, it’s a freakin’ complicated world, alright?

Passwords started out as something much simpler. In ancient Rome, the military guards would only allow access to certain areas if their toga-clad countryman knew the correct password.

“Halt,” the sentry would grumble, “Who goes there?”

“It is I, Antonius Danica Patrickus.”

“Hmmm, what is the password?”

“Simple. It’s 2*goPW671#bLLlL39?vF21>4 Now.”

And that’s all there was to it.

Clearly, most of our hesitant to enter this new world of complex, unique passwords. The three most common passwords in 2013 were: (1) 123456, (2) password, and (3) 12345678. Experts claim that 123456 is not a strong password as it follows a common pattern. Take a moment and see if you can spot it. That’s right, it’s a series of whole numbers in ascending order. Similarly, “password” is not a good password in much the same way that Child would not be a good name for your child. Some have extended the most common password by two digits, taking it all the way to 8 – but as they are still keeping the numbers in the order that we all learn in Kindergarten, it’s not a great improvement on the original.

But I understand the desire to keep it simple. I’m half tempted to change all my passwords to 1 -2 -3. Let the hackers do what they well. There’s only so much they’ll be able to accomplish with access to my old Poker Stars account, the eleven coupons on my grocery store card membership, and the eighty three bucks in my checking account.

My only real concern would be that they could access my Care Bears diary and find out that I had a crush on Mrs. Owens in third grade…crap, time to change my passwords again.