Friday, November 13, 2009

Meanderings of the Directionless

Greetings from real life.  It seems trying to come up with a visual theme and some appeal for a form of technology that lost it's mainstream audience five years ago (blogging) is a Herculean task.  Note:  By Herculean, I mean the low-budget 70's animated Hercules, of course.  Complete with sound effects generated by kids banging on a garage door with a baseball bat, and slow-moving, dull-witted monsters that have a narrow range of expression.  Basically, they all go "HNNNNGGGHHHHGGGHHHH!!!"

Hey, I love long-form writing as much as the next meatbag; but with the limited amount of "leisure" time available to me, I have been avoiding this place like the plague, or at least trying to shorten up the amount of time required to to dress it up with unrelated photos. Look! Here's Frog & Toad™, for no apparent reason other than I like them:

I'm going to pledge nothing in terms of content, but I need to wet my feet here, so bear with me for the short term while I try to conjure up a eureka moment to figure out why this blog should exist.  So far all I've come up with is a smörgåsbord combo of fiction, humour, news, op-ed style writing and personal diary, all related to the central theme of s**t that gets in your way as you try to navigate the deceptively shallow waters of life...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Failure - Not Only An Option, It's Now Encouraged!

What's bothering me this week? Stupidity, gross ignorance, lack of ownership, accountability and indifference of the general and more specific varieties. No one seems to be outraged that children aren't allowed to fail, no matter their grades, in elementary school even if they are, in fact, failures.

If this is the new trend, then hopefully it will spread concentrically to our jobs, and society in general so that we can run over people at will and do nothing (or something, only poorly) all day at work and be rewarded for it.

This country and society are well on their way to ruin and not only because of the complete economic failure that is heading our way. Lessee, Tommy didn't hand in his geography assignment because he was out all night drinking? Give that boy an "A+" and get him into ninth grade ASAP. We need more young men like you, son...

Seriously, what good will come of letting children who are failures believe they are successes?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Comment + thought = Stand-alone article

Posted by my bro in the comments of the post below, thought it worthy of an entry all on it's own:

My favourite take on the auto industry is how it's all the Union's fault that everything is going off the rails. It has nothing to do with GM's greed in needing a competitive vehicle in every single niche market, no matter how insignificant. Also, Chrysler needs to make vans and nothing else. Well maybe the Challenger, but not for $60k. It's not like it's a new design or even a new engine. 
GM released the Chevy HHR after playing catch-up to the PT Cruiser, but about 5 years too late to cash in on the trend. The HHR, much like the PT Cruiser is now D.O.A. and no one would be caught dead in one. This is an example of wasting huge development costs for a trend that's already dead by the time you get your crapwagon to market.

Labour costs are about 10% of the price of a vehicle. Take 10% off every vehicle and you still aren't selling vehicles because people are :
a) afraid they will lose their jobs
b) cannot get a loan from the bank
c) really don't need to replace their three year old car in the first place
d) waiting for the prices to drop.........waiting .......still waiting..........

Toyota had to lease an ocean liner to store unsold vehicles because they have run out of fields and warehouses to store new vehicles. As supply and demand tells us, this glut of unsold vehicles should mean lower prices, but instead government is stealing from us to prop up the Companies for another few days.

.....still waiting........

What's really inferior about north American cars is their design and engineering. But everyone targets the union people who put them together. There's something about a car assembled for minimum wage that would not make me comfortable at 130 kph on the 401, but that's just me.

At GM there are 5 retirees for every line worker. This is simply not the reality at the Japanese branch plants since they only began producing here in the 1980s.

What is inexcusable has been the quality lapse which is narrowing, but honestly should have been met or exceeded in the mid nineties. Japanese vehicles are clearly more reliable if one looks through the well regarded Consumer Report auto edition. If more people did this, GM and Chrysler would have been out of business long ago.

As you bid farewell to iconic manufacturers here in Ontario you need to realize a basic economic rule. Manufacturing creates wealth, and these Companies are the last gasp of big manufacturing here. Countless Ontario part makers will also fail along with the companies they supply. That will mean more unemployment and a lower standard of living for you and I eventually. And Dalton McGuinty, Premier for life, will respond as he always does, by raising taxes. Which further hampers any recovery and punishes anyone still trying to make a living honestly.

Also these parts suppliers are supplying Honda and Toyota here in Canada. If/when they fail, your Canadian made imports will be even more expensive since parts will be made everywhere else in the world but here.

I was on to the greedy business owning bastards as our manufacturing jobs were slowly sent offshore in the nineties, but no one else noticed. Now we cheer with glee as the last of the industrial revolution dies off, leaving service sector jobs and little else. You won't even be able to ask anyone if they want fries with that because there won't be any paying customers.

Professional analysts are saying that a depression will follow the collapse of the big two. This will be a nasty summer for Americans, who will protest violently as jobs evaporate faster than stimulus dollars, and people start to go hungry. I hope they are wrong.

At least my eight year old Ford is still running as I approach summer layoff. I might need to keep it a few more years, peeling paint and rusty bare spots not withstanding.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 by K.R. Raven

Monday, April 20, 2009

GM Needs To Die

In apparent contradiction to my supposedly Conservative viewpoint (truthfully, pretty malleable on a day-to-day basis) I am responding in knee-jerk fashion to a headlining story I've just read about GM cutting another 1600 jobs cuts in order to qualify for yet another round of government aid.  Gimme, gimme, gimme...  

To me, that's like cutting off your foot to collect your accidental death & dismemberment uinsurance.  Sure, it's a great payoff, but you can't f&*$ing walk anymore.  And to carry the metaphor a little further, unlike private citizens, GM hasn't been paying it's premiums the last little while. 

If GM was a car, it'd be an uninsurable wreck.  To even 
write a news story about them, it's now mandatory to preface the phrase "automaker" with the word"struggling".

Would you  consider buying a GM(or Chrysler) vehicle at this point, knowing that Chapter 11 protection is probably weeks away?  Even if either company had a desirable vehicle, it'd be a no-brainer.  
Governments on both sides of the 49th parallel need to stop pouring buckets of cash down the stinking, clogged drain that is the North American auto industry, let them die their much-deserved death and let everyone get on with their lives.  Out of the ashes, phoenix-like, something better will arise.

This "stimulus package" money that has been bandied about by Obama and Stephen Harper like some sort of saviour has done the sum total of nothing to stimulate the economy.  No one in the auto industry has learned anything.  They've had 33 years since the Honda Civic was introduced to catch up, and the best they can come up with is the Dodge Caliber, Ford Focus (2008 version) or Chevrolet Cobalt.  Put the cane away, guys, the horse is dead.  

It's time to stop this horrible waste of money.  How about incentives for ordinary folks to actually buy vehicles?  How about incentives for Toyota, Honda, Mazda, VW, Hyundai, Kia, etc (you know, SUCCESSFUL auto manufacturers) to build more of their products in North America to keep at least some of the people who comprise the world's largest market employed at more reasonable rates of pay and without some of the more ridiculous union protection?  Contracts need to be renegotiated to keep this kind of protectionism out of the language of all labour contracts.  

There's a reason this nation is failing, and throwing non-existent money around like some sort of drunken moron who just won the lottery is not going to save it.

Arrivederci, GM and Chrysler.  

(I considered saying "It's been a hell of a ride", but the K-car, the Chevy Vega, the Dodge Durango, the Pontiac Aztek, the Pontiac Sunfire, the Pontiac Acadian, the Pontiac Sunbird, the Pontiac Grand Am -  hell, the Pontiac AnyF$%&ingthing pretty much put a nail in that coffin.)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Miley Cyrus defends her older boyfriend

So will a lawyer one day. The only question is what type? Divorce? Criminal? Personal injury?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Shout-out of the week

Bill Maher's Real Time. Great HBO show that cuts through the bolshevik that pervades our media. He tempers his political vitriol with just enough humour to avoid depression and panic.

Very right for the times and of more use than Stephen Colbert and that other guy, whasisname, Jon Stewart. Those guys are so pre-meltdown. Only complaint: Once a week isn't enough!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Good Things Happen To Reasonably Good People

Sometimes, without warning, the obstacles actually recede for a short time, the Red Sea parts and the downtrodden finally make their way to safety. I'm one of the lucky ones. As the economy crumbles like last week's cheesecake, I have once again bucked worldwide trends and been made permanent at my job after 7 months. I can't believe it, it still hasn't sunk in.

I'm cautiously optimistic and a little dazed about the whole thing. I've had a rough three years since moving to Ottawa (truthfully it started long before that, I was never cut out for sales, yet somehow lasted twenty years in that most dishonourable of professions). It was a gamble to move here and it looks like it has finally paid off in a career I can live with. I suppose I should give thanks to some higher power or at least count my lucky stars, whatever that means. I think I have exactly one lucky star and it has come through for me bigtime. This isn't exactly news or even all that interesting, but now I know what it feels like to finally win one.

Now, what to do with the rest of my life...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dream A Little Materialistic Dream

First of all, let's just get this out of the way:

  1. I realize the worldwide economy is in the tank and I should be thinking about hoarding gold and Campbell's soup in my basement, as well as the common good of my fellow man.
  2. There are horrible injustices going on every day in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Toronto and many other third-world countries.
  3. I should be out there, somewhere, in dreads and a bloody, sweat-stained Che Guevera t-shirt shouting leftist slogans and brandishing an AK-47, ferociously trying to make a difference in the world while disavowing all things material.
  4. They say that Little Mosque on the Prairie is a really good show. I should be watching it.

Guess what? It ain't gonna happen. None of it. Beside being too old for ­­!Vive La Revolution¡, I like stuff. It makes me forget about all the horrible crap that's going on in the world, if only until the bills come in. Kind of like Xanax for the soul. Not surprising for a guy who came of age in the 70s and 80s, with the golden promises of a life better than that of our parents. The members of Douglas Coupland's Generation X (birth years approximately 1961-81), myself included, are the first generation to succumb to lowered expectations. It's also not surprising that I often daydream about the open road, cheap gasoline and unencumbered travel in a safe world that doesn't exist anymore (and may never have). Box cutters, anyone?

There, it's out of the way and I can just show off a few pics of the car I'd like to own, which Ford will never import here in its current form.
They're far too stupidly cautious, don't trust their customers and a few vehicles like this might actually create some genuine enthusiasm for their products, thereby increasing their profits to slightly above zero. Wouldn't want that in a worldwide recession / depression...

See below for more ranting on this same subject.

Is it wrong to be thinking about something like this when we all seem to be in batten-down-the-hatchbacks mode? Or is this form of escapism harmless? Not sure, but damn, that is one sweet-looking ride that is right for this stressed-out century. 35 mpg and enough room for guitars, amps, beer and the family, if the mood should strike.

I need only ask one question:

Why not, Ford?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Does Your TV Suffer from Constant, Irritating "Judder"?

Well,doesn't it? Of course it does, you idiot!!! You just don't know it yet.

Apparently any flat panel LCD TV that isn't a 120 Hz Sharp does. What about the new, 240 Hz Sonys? According to the lowest-common-denominator-higher-numbers-equals-better crowd at Suture Shop, it must be four times better than regular HDTVs. Absolute horse shite, I say.

Unfortunately for me, that atrocity isn't a typo. I can picture the 24 year old unshaven, hoodie-wearing Justin Long lookalike copywriter creating this gibberish and being congratulated with high-fives from his geeky stoner colleagues as he comes up with the winning adjective five minutes before they're all set to hit the peeler bar, bongs in tow.

Or maybe I'm just a cranky old bastard. Yeah, that's probably it.

According to those in the tech-know, this sort of motion-smoothing technology for home television has nearly no basis in reality, and needs to be turned off when watching anything but the NFL or Venus and Serena battling each other on the clay. Crikey - sign me up!
"Where can I dumps my wheelbarrow full of moneys so's I can walk off wit one a' these babies?"

It's an old caveat, but ferchrissakes, people, don't believe everything you read in a Future Shop or Best Buy flyer. Even if it sounds all Web 3.0-ish. After being in sales for twenty years and seeing some pretty underhanded, shady crap being pulled on a daily basis, never trust a salesman, saleswoman, or any other gendered thing trying to sell you goods and/or services.

In other words, trust your eyes, not some slimy greaseball with the morals of John Wayne Gacy. Now, excuse me while I go check the Leafs game for a surplus of "judder". I'm sure that's what's causing my unhappiness.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things Continue To Get Extremely Worse.

Original Post From July; quite prescient given the current predictions of depression-esque tendencies in the economy.

How true. Very poorly worded, but true. The title quote was taken from a union representative in Oshawa commenting on the recent GM truck plant closure there after the government threw as much spare cash as they could at GM, but it applies to a lot of things recently. Car companies don't really deserve government bailouts, do they? How about the local Mom & Pop type stores that are constantly going under due to the overkill of retail in this country? Blame Wal-Mart if you will, but there's a simple reason we're getting "extremely worse" in this country and in the US of (DO)A...

We're lazy and greedy, and getting "worser" by the minute. I should know, I work for the Federal Government. You want entitlement issues? Try unionized government workers with strong socialist tendencies who want to do as little as possible and get paid handsomely for their inactivity. Most criticisms levelled at the way Government is conducted are spot-on.

So, greed got us into this mess - how do we propose to get out of it? Why, naturally, by spending our way back into prosperity. If that's true, can I actually justify my recent insane flat panel HDTV purchase merely by it's incremental contribution to the GNP, thereby allowing me to sleep at night? Yes, I Can™! Thanks, Obama!

Unlike Kent Brockman, I'm not pointing the finger squarely at you in particular, as I can be firmly lumped in with the gooey masses. We still have a false sense of entitlement in this country that is to be found nowhere else in the world save the USA, and possibly Sweden.

In many third-world developing nations, the mere act of getting out of bed and walking to the local market can be a matter of life and death. In North America, we still take so much for granted, that when we do fall it'll be ten times harder than what anyone can forecast.

Your stock market performance or new BMW M3 isn't the topic of conversation when you can't scrape together enough to pay the mortgage, and roving bands of starving Liberals are your biggest late-night worry. It's a fine line between comfort and being hungry, but you always know when you've crossed it, and we're not there yet. As a result, I don't hold out much hope for things to improve. Like an addict, we have to hit rock bottom and sleep in a few dumpsters before our friends call an intervention. I wonder what the state of the Union (and Canada) will be like six months from now when all the post-coronation Obama hype has died down and we can all get back to cold hard reality.

Despite my pessimistic tone, I actually think (or is it hope) that we can get through this crisis. Nothing is more inventive than an addict looking for his next fix. After all, you can always find the money somewhere.