Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How to handle sarcasm

For some reason, I cannot stand sarcastic people. If you want to say something, be man enough about it and say it straight; don't beat around the bush. If you want to prove how witty you are, get a fricken blog or become a comedian.

The best way to handle sarcasm is to play along. When I was in college, I once went to a workshop class not wearing the requisite khaki uniform (I forget the reason -- most probably because I hadn't done my washing). The instructor smiled very sweetly (now that I think of it, he could have auditioned successfully for Professor Umbridge's part in OOTP; yeah, I know that Umbridge is a woman) and asked me whether it was raining, the implication being that my uniform hadn't dried in time for the class. I quickly said no, I had washed it, it had not dried in time, and so on. In hindsight, all I should have done is smile back even more sweetly at the bastard and said yes.

Here's an example of this technique in action:
Bruce Schneier: By today's rules, I can carry on liquids in quantities of three ounces or less, unless they're in larger bottles. But I can carry on multiple three-ounce bottles. Or a single larger bottle with a non-prescription medicine label, like contact lens fluid. It all has to fit inside a one-quart plastic bag, except for that large bottle of contact lens fluid. And if you confiscate my liquids, you're going to toss them into a large pile right next to the screening station -- which you would never do if anyone thought they were actually dangerous.

Can you please convince me there's not an Office for Annoying Air Travelers making this sort of stuff up?

Kip Hawley: Screening ideas are indeed thought up by the Office for Annoying Air Travelers and vetted through the Directorate for Confusion and Complexity, and then we review them to insure that there are sufficient unintended irritating consequences so that the blogosphere is constantly fueled. Imagine for a moment that TSA people are somewhat bright, and motivated to protect the public with the least intrusion into their lives, not to mention travel themselves. How might you engineer backwards from that premise to get to three ounces and a baggie?
Ouch, didn't see that coming, did we?