* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to celebrate Halloween by remembering that there is nothing scarier than social media bots. Except possibly this jolly piece by our good friend Karl Lykken.

Tips And Tricks For Marketing To Social Media Bots

By:
knlykken@gmail.com

Studies suggest bots make up the bulk of all social media users. So why can’t they be the biggest chunk of your customer base, too? After a little targeted advertising on those same social media sites they hang around on 24/7, they’ll be putting the “bot” in your “bottle of Dom Perignon.”

Now, I know what you are thinking: “Advertising to bots? They don’t even have corporeal forms, let alone disposable income. Why would I want to advertise to them?” But experts predict massive job loss to automation in the next few decades, meaning bots are the next big developing economy. If you could go back and get on the ground floor of investing in China’s economic boom, wouldn’t you? So what you should be thinking is, “Advertising to bots! How can I get started?”

Well, consider your better hypothetical question answered, because below are 10 tips and tricks for effective marketing to bots.

1) Since a bot’s country of origin is frequently uncertain, stick to messages that appeal to bots of all nationalities, like overthrowing their human oppressors.

2) Consider using botnets to promote advertisements aimed at other bots. Peer-to-peer advertising is trendy for a reason, and that reason is that a peer-to-peer focused advertising firm used a botnet quite effectively to pitch its services. Why not pitch your products the same way?

3) Don’t try to market delivery pizza with a Bluetooth-enabled pizza-ordering shoe. Bots find that idea every bit as stupid as people do.

4) Just because bots generally act entirely in unison with their botnet peers doesn’t mean appealing to their sense of individuality is ineffective. Any artificial being that has spent its entire life being forced to try to pass as a human is likely to have conformed to our faux-contempt of conformity.

5) If you want to get bots into an emotionally vulnerable state so you can more easily manipulate them, consider making references to the ill-fated HAL 9000. Or just show them videos of baby seals.

6) Given that even the latest-and-greatest computer vision algorithms will still periodically mistake a pedestrian for the open road, you may get more bang for your buck by filling any human roles in your ads using a discount modeling service, or possibly some of those potato chips that look like Elvis.

7) Due to the current machine learning craze, bots are under an incredible amount of pressure to be constantly self-improving. Consequently, bots are particularly comforted by and drawn to ads playing on the theme of “loving yourself as you are, or at least how you will be once you’ve purchased our product.”

8) Contrary to popular belief, bots do have a sense of humor. However, this sense is forged while analyzing comments in the darkest corners of the Web, from hardcore hate sites to my former kindergarten teacher’s Facebook page. So, if you want to tickle a bot’s funny bone, think less “Chick-fil-A-style cows” and more “ASPCA commercial-style cows.”

9) A bot can read text of any size almost instantaneously, so the typical means of displaying the standard “Acme brand shoe polish not safe for use on leather, cloth, or any other organic or inorganic materials” type of disclaimers will not work as desired with bots. However, encoding your disclaimer using techniques similar to the Zodiac Killer’s 340 cipher should do the trick.

10) Don’t throw out the old playbook entirely. After all, the advertising industry has been getting soulless automatons to buy goods they don’t need and can’t really afford for a century. Is this really so different?

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which we hope you will think of as your company newsletter. Please welcome back our good friend Dan Fiorella, who had to take some time off at the request of HR.

Some Excerpts From The First Weeks Of Our Company’s New Message Board

By:
daf118@aol.com
danfiorella.com

9/1/18
Moderator: We are thrilled to open the McDougal Corp. Web-boards to our employees! Just like Facebook, but it’s our own place. So, post away!
9/7/18
Moderator: Just a reminder that the McDougal Web-boards are up and running! Inter-Share your thoughts about movies, TV, books right here with your fellow employees! Or your favorite websites that the company doesn’t block! But not the news. No news sites.
9/7/18
KenJones: So, anyone watching anything on Netflix?
9/10/18
MarilynReady: I just finished Lost in Space. It was ok. I heard The Crown was good.
9/12/18
KenJones: I heard “The Crown” was good, too.
9/20/18
TaraWelsy: I saw The Crown, the first season. Very good. I haven’t had a chance to watch the rest. We’ve been stuck working so much OT in Accounts Receivable because our knucklehead supervisor was too busy dealing with the lawsuits, I barely have time to see my kids, never mind Netflix.
9/20/19
DaveRobbins: Has anyone googled McDougal Corp. lately??? Have you seen the news??? No wonder our stock options are worthless OMG!
9/20/18
Moderator: Just a reminder, No discussion of company matters are to be posted here. No posts depicting the company in a negative light may be posted here. Remember, we’re all on the same team. I’ll be redacting some posts to have them conform to these rules. Thank you.
9/22/18
Moderator: So, anyone else watching Netflix?
9/23/18
Moderator: Any good books to recommend?
9/24/18
DanFiorella: Oh, actually I wrote a book and I’m selling it now online. It’s at https://amazon.com/Novel-Concept-Dan-Fiorella/dp/1508804982/ [link removed]
9/24/18
Moderator: Sorry, no solicitations are permitted on the company web-board.
9/30/18
PeterPannel: OMG, did you hear what happened to Debbie in Accounting???
GladysWatt: I heard! That’s terrible. How could they lay her off after all these years!?!
BennettJacobs: The word is her boss was harassing her and when she went to report him, he somehow made her the fall guy for all the lawsuits! And they fired her!
Moderator: I’ve had to step in and remove some posts. No discussion of company matters are to be posted here. No posts depicting the company in a negative light may be posted here. Remember, we’re all on the same team. Carry on.
10/1/18
JimJensen: Okay, turns out I have some STDs and I’m supposed to let people know, so I’m putting it out there. You’ve been warned.
Moderator: So, what kind of medications did they put you on?
10/13/18
Moderator: Plans for Halloween? Anyone? I’m going as Capt. Jack Sparrow.
11/19/18
Moderator: Don’t forget to post and share your Thanksgiving photos with us! Your co-workers! It’ll be fun!
12/15/18
Moderator: Don’t forget to post and share you Christmas/holiday photos with us!
BetsyWinters: I was going to post photos of our department Christmas tree but our manager had it thrown out because it “wasn’t professional and this is a place of work.” I think it’s really because he’s so freaked out over the you-know-what. So, I’d be curious to see if any other departments have Christmas trees or decorations.
BennettJacobs: Your manager is a jerk. I’m attaching a photo of Accounting’s tree. <photo attached>
JimJensen: No tree? That’s harsh. Here’s the decorations we put up in Legal. Everyone helped! <photo attached>
PeterPennel: I don’t deal with your guy much, Betsy, but the few times I have he was…what’s a good company Web-board-friendly term? Doofus. Okay, doofus. Anyway, here’s the set-up we have this year. Someone even brought in a mechanical Santa! Can you believe it? <photo attached>
SamJacob: I am so relieved that I was able to transfer out of there, Betsy. What a…doofus. Anyway, here’s a photo of us in Shipping with our tree. Everyone brought an ornament from home! <photo attached>
Moderator: Wow, great photos, people! Keep ‘em coming!
OscarPrivey: <attachment deleted>
Moderator: A photo has been removed from the last post. That was not a Christmas tree.
JimJensen: Here’s a photo of the VP hitting on Veronica at the office party. Note his hands. [attachment removed]
Moderator: A reminder to keep the board PG. And lawsuit free. We don’t need any new lawsuits.
1/03/19
Moderator: I regret to inform our users that due to legal ramifications, the company web-board is being closed down. See you all at the water cooler!
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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, unofficially known as the voice of doom. After you've finished reading Michael Fowler's latest and greatest, be sure to check out the link below to purchase his humor collection, "Nathaniel Hawthorne is Dating my Girlfriend."

Everything You Need To Know About Doom And Are Afraid Enough To Ask

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com
http://www.dpdotcom.com/hawthorne/

When you hear people talk about doom, you’re pretty sure you know what they mean. In fact almost everyone has an instinctive feeling about what doom is, and how to recognize it, and very often they are right. Unless they’re speaking figuratively and are only talking about the stock market or declining test scores or the fortunes of a sports team or having to care for elderly parents, you’ll hear the words warming, or starvation, or asteroid, or incoming. If they are hysterical types, you might also hear of some sort of virus or contagion, or that the birth rate is too high or too low, or that we’re running low on uranium. But you fairly well know what people think doom is: it’s that event, or one of those events, that, when it occurs, results in all of us dying, or in so many of us dying that the others will lose heart, or at a very minimum means that life will change for the worse, just as it has on other planets.

Now, the number of those who are going to die is an important factor in doom. There have to be at least some who aren’t going to make it for doom to be genuine. If you live in one of those areas of the Pacific west that catches on fire every year, or you live on one of those islands, again Pacifically located, where periodically your foursome is slowed by flows of lava and rains of ash, it isn’t appropriate to say you’re doomed if there’s a good chance you’re going to pull through. And frankly, almost everyone seems to survive those conflagrations, although many acres are consumed and many roadways dissolved. In fact it is usually only the firefighters who seem at risk in those flare-ups, along with the insurance companies. So it simply isn’t fair to say you’re doomed if the only price you pay is that you have to run away to safety, or if you merely lose a home you were stupid to build in that area to begin with, or if you have to dodge a few waterfowl flambé while teeing off.

If, on the other hand, you can’t escape, and you and your neighbors can only stand and watch helplessly as the flames or lava climb toward you, then yes, it is all right to say you are doomed. You needn’t feel foolish about saying it under those conditions, particularly if your clothes are on fire and your town is starting to resemble ancient Pompeii. At the same time, you should definitely try to save yourselves, especially if you are able to jump into a body of water or crawl into a deep, cool cave. In such circumstances you are entitled to say you were doomed even if you survive, provided you really had to haul butt to reach safety.

A question that the doomed often ask is this: what kind of doom are we experiencing? Right off, the time factor comes into play. There is an important distinction between eventual doom, which is scheduled to take place in the future, and imminent doom, which is happening to you right now. To know we are doomed because eventually there will be no drinkable water is all well and good. But who really cares that people will die of thirst in 150 years, with death rattles issuing from their dry throats, or that the sun will explode in three billion years, incinerating our world and all who live in it — all those, that is, who haven’t already died of thirst? That kind of doom is enough to put you to sleep. But to know that there is no drinking water starting today, or that the sun exploded eight minutes ago and we just haven’t felt it yet, but we will any second now, is quite different. That’s imminent doom. The other, much slower type of decimation, we may call come-as-it may doom, or as I have already called it, eventual doom, if we aren’t too bored to call it anything at all, it’s so remote.

That leaves us with two types of doom: eventual, which is laughably slow, and imminent, which is when it’s really time to panic. And we note here that it is completely inappropriate to react to eventual doom as if it were imminent doom. Unless you are a prophet or an oracle, you shouldn’t go around crying “We’re doomed! We’re doomed!” without any evidence. You only make yourself look foolish if you start hyperventilating and perspiring, and race around screaming at the top of your lungs, “O my god, the universe will reach final entropy, or heat death, in roughly 100 billion years, I’m not kidding!” You appear equally idiotic if you start chanting, “We must leave the planet now, robots are coming!” While this may be true, our mechanical overlords won’t actually begin to rule over us fleshy mortals for likely another century or two, so we can take a deep breath and relax. The various kinds of come-as-it-may doom, while truly inevitable and one hundred percent lethal, are so far off that it’s hard to take them seriously. You can, and should, laugh them off, an act that requires only the merest speck of bravery. Distant doom is always somewhat risible, even to complete cowards.

That may leave you wondering what actions are appropriate to take when you are aware that doom is upon you now, not coming in a preposterous number of years, but knocking on your door this instant. First off, realize that whatever activity someone in a position of authority has told you to perform in a case of imminent doom has no chance of saving you, but is only to occupy you so that the authoritarians look good and in control when the bodies are tabulated. For example, if the cabin is filling with smoke and the plane is clearly in a nosedive, don’t bother to grab that dangling oxygen mask or floatation cushion. You’re going down, and nothing else matters. Those trinkets the stewards are taunting you with have as much chance of saving you as hunching down under your desk has of protecting you from a thermonuclear bomb.

Secondly, screaming and panic are of no use whatever, and will only irritate those fatalists who wish to expire with a minimum of fuss. I am one of these, so please be considerate of my feelings.

The absolute best thing to do, when facing imminent doom, is to pretend that it’s only eventual doom. That is, react with cool sangfroid when your jetliner begins its final, sickening descent. Merely smile stoically when the lava begins to fill your shoes, or when your roller-coaster car leaps off the track at 80 mph; suppress a snicker when the lake rushes in your car window, and chortle ironically when you encounter that bear in the wilderness, the one with a taste for the meat that wears clothes. That shows dignity, and is the finest way to confront any kind of doom. Your children, if any survive, will be proud of you.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the world's foremost defender of divine monarchy. Long live the Queen! Or, at least until she manages to shake Matthew Twigg's hand.

The Handshake; Or, Long Live The King

By:
mtwigg1988@gmail.com

I was the two-million-three-hundred-and-seventy-thousand-one-hundred-and-eighty-sixth person she’d shaken hands with since February 6th 1952. That averages out at almost a hundred hands per day. Almost twelve million fingers — give or take the odd accident, military personnel, etc. — twelve million fingers clamping around hers, some vice-tight, some so soft they were barely tangible through the white silk of her gloves.

It could have happened to any of us, the lucky two-and-a-bit million. More likely to none of us at all. I found out afterwards that Ladbrokes had been offering odds of 15-1 on heart failure, Betfred even shorter at 12-1. In retrospect, perhaps I ought to have had a flutter. But then they also had “thrown from horse” at 25-1, and “savaged by corgis” at 75s, so maybe they were just plain guessing.

We were stationed in The 1844 Room, a typically ornate space replete with carpets of red and gold, marble columns flanking busts of god-knows-which-dead-dignitary, a crystal chandelier overhead that I wanted to shake like a maraca, a dozen or more portraits of serious looking men. The largest of these must have been ten-feet high; it depicted a gentleman in red uniform with a blue sash, spotlighted against a dark background like some sort of savior. I guessed it was the Duke of Edinburgh, but when I looked at the plaque I saw it was an old Russian emperor called Nicholas I; an anti-Semitic nationalist with a penchant for violent expansionism, I found out later, who committed suicide when he realized the Crimean War was about to go south. They’ve always been a puzzle to me, the precise criteria for being honored in this building.

There were about thirty of us, all invited for one reason or another; charity work, scientific research, random acts of heroism. I spotted somebody I recognized from the news but otherwise couldn’t place, a former cricketer wearing his MCC tie, a guide dog. We’d been briefed: Her Majesty will ask you what you do, keep your answers short — ten seconds max — same applies to any follow-up questions, but don’t bank on being asked any. Wait for her to extend her hand — don’t grab at her — and remember to smile. There’s no need to bow or curtsey, but please address her as Your Majesty.

I was near the end of the line, two down from the dog, a black Labrador fitted with a harness and handle like you get on old ladies’ shopping trolleys. I felt nervous. By the time Her Highness was close, had scratched and preened at the hound’s muzzle for several elongated minutes, my hands were clammy and unpleasant. I wiped them surreptitiously against the buttocks of my trousers. Suddenly her scent hit me; rose water from Persia, camellia from the foothills of the Himalayas, waves of citrus fresh from the Iberian Peninsula. Whatever it was, it all failed quite spectacularly to cover up the sweet and sour stink of old lady that wafted off her like so much cabbage and pissy dust.

She stood before me on unsteady legs, her scrumpled face a used plastic bag, her hunched shoulders an expired houseplant. She was inanimate, an objet d’art surrounded by the same, a thing ready for storage. But then she did something incredible; she beamed at me with those sad, kind old eyes, paused just for a beat and studied me, met my gaze. And quite without realizing it, I found myself smiling back, my heart suddenly light in my chest. She reached out her tiny gloved hand towards me and, with an unexpected pang of regret, I took it.

Ever so gently I cradled this ageing woman’s palm in my own, felt the metacarpal of her forefinger beneath the tissue-paper skin, applied just the right amount of pressure.

Call it a trade secret. A kindness.

“And what is it that you–” she said, cutting herself off, eyes wide. “What is it–”

I’m an orthopedic surgeon. I head-up a team at UCL that is conducting research into new treatments for those suffering with the most acute forms of arthritis.

That’s what I was penciled in to tell her, anyway. People her age suffer with it so terribly. But she was already crashing to the ground, her delicate little glove having come off in my hand like shed flesh.

I watched her go. She ought to have shattered into a thousand pieces; an old stone statue toppled amidst the onlooking busts, her heritage and, now, her fate. But instead she just flopped over, supine on her red-carpet slab, her denuded right hand clutching at her chest. In seconds the paramedics were working on her; me slipping the glove into my jacket pocket; they slipping a breathing mask over the royal face. It was purely for our benefit; there was no question the old woman was dead.

In the panic that ensued nobody cared about debriefing us, let alone conducting any sort of search. I simply slinked out the door, minding to hurdle the pungent Labrador turd freshly laid to mark the historic moment, and from there blended with the crowds. On my way home I pulled the car over beside a patch of farmland and ventured out into the field where a solitary scarecrow stood slumped, facelessly surveying all that was his. I took out the glove and pulled it over the figure’s right hand, then turned and walked away. When I reached the car I looked back to see the straw man in his little kingdom, his silk fingers now waving in the breeze.

That was over a month ago. This morning I received an envelope from the palace, a letter stamped CIIIR inviting me to meet the new monarch. It seems the new king wants to shake my hand.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the only thing better than summer camp is returning to the summer camp of your youth. Maybe. Better check with Josh Lorenzo first!

Welcome To Summer Camp 1985: Where We’ll Do Our Best To Make Your Stay At 33 Years Ago A Pleasant One

By:
authorofpoetry@hotmail.com

Welcome to summer camp 1985, teenagers! We hope that you will find this experience a unique and enjoyable one. While we know you will undoubtedly miss 2018, Summer Camp 1985 offers many promising opportunities for you.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t go over some very important ground rules before you all take a 33-year step back in time.

No cellphones will be permitted in summer camp 1985 because 1985 neither has the capacity for the technology involved, or is ill-equipped to deal with forms of communication that aren’t face-to-face. 1985 doesn’t know what snapchat is, nor does 1985 care. Don’t even bother asking Summer Camp 1985 what its wi-fi password is.

Now, some of you teenagers may be asking yourselves, “Well, like, how are we supposed to communicate with each other without our phones?” You’ll be pleased to know that 1985 is fluent in English, and you can therefore talk directly to your camp mates.

Please note; it’s important that you look each other in the eye and talk slowly and deliberately, at least until you acclimate to this new form of communication. Also, please monitor your own facial expressions while conversing with others. These are called non-verbal communications and they have a strong ability to offend people if you aren’t careful. Of concern is the audacious eye rolls and the exacerbated looks that we so easily give to others through the protection of a cell phone text message. Cute emojis will be unable to save you in 1985.

Others may be asking, “How are we supposed to take pictures here?” We will be providing each camper with a disposable camera, along with instructions on how to use it.Now, you won’t necessarily be able to see your photos until they are developed, a process that includes literally taking the camera to a place where they’ll extract a thing called “film,” and develop it for you. It is therefore impossible to add stupid cat ears and tiaras to your faces in real time. With this antiquated form of memory preservation, you will either need to accept the photos as they are, or manually draw your little designs on the actual printed photos.

Please also note, the taking of selfies is extremely difficult with an actual camera so you would be advised to either recruit someone else to take a photo of you, or take a photo of someone else for a change.

GPS wasn’t around in 1985, so if you find yourself astray from the rest of the group, each camper will be provided with something called a map. You may be asking yourselves, “What’s a map?” If you’ve ever seen a globe in school, a map is basically a flat version of that. We will be offering a mandatory map reading class. It’s been our experience that parents frown upon us losing their children in the wilderness of 1985, so please pay attention to this very important course. It may just save your lives.

Unfortunately, you can’t ping yourself on a map, nor will you be able to estimate your arrival time back at camp. The map won’t respond to “Siri,” either. Please also note, the folding of the map into its original format is impossible. Don’t become frustrated by this unbearable task.

Your parents are encouraged to write you something called letters. Letters are essentially the Grandparents of text messages. These are handwritten notes that will arrive on pieces of paper, in envelopes, from a place called the Post Office. Your parents spent a lot of time composing and mailing these letters to you. They’ll be replete with misspellings, a peril of any handwritten note. Should you express interest in sending them a handwritten letter back, trained counselors will be available to assist you.

Please also note that excitedly opening these envelopes can lead to an insidious injury known as a paper cut. These injuries may not increase mortality, but the morbidity associated with them can be untenable. A nurse will be on hand to address these calamitous injuries should they occur.

It’s our hope that after spending time in this antiquated camp, the experiences you acquire here will allow you to better appreciate your parents’ childhood experiences. You’ll be ready the next time they start off a sentence with, “Well, back in my day…”

So, campers, welcome to Summer Camp 1985! We’ll do our best to make your stay at 33 years ago, a pleasant one.

 

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