Category Archives: You have to admire their balls

F*&king stupidity!

For any of you who haven’t been following the shutdown in the US, I’ll give you a quick update. Obamacare is a law that was passed to ensure that everyone in the US could have affordable healthcare. They do have a Medicare-kind of system over there but it is very limited, apparently, so you really need to have private healthcare. And even if you can afford private healthcare, the providers are very good at denying claims…in fact they train their people to always so ‘no’ first time around. For a good analysis of the US system, watch Michael Moore’s documentary, Sicko.

Anyway, I digress. So, the law was passed and was due to come into effect on the 1st of October 2013. The Republicans think that this bill is the worst thing to ever happen in the US…apparently worse than slavery, the Great Depression or the Twin Tower’s attack…so they decided that they would block government funding, by not passing the Budget, unless the Democrat agreed to postpone the implementation date. The Democrats said ‘go to hell in a hand-basket’, and so funding was blocked and the government doesn’t have the money to pay for lots of it’s staff. This means that 1000’s and 1000’s of US public servants have been sent home on leave without pay.

The Republicans are accusing the Democrats of not being willing to negotiate, while the Democrats are saying that the law has been passed democratically by congress, that it has survived around 40 attempts by the Republican to overturn it, that Barack Obama won a second term as president, with a bigger percentage of the vote, after the law was passed and that the law has been confirmed by the US Supreme Court as being constitutional, so it has had plenty of negotiation. And I think they probably have a point. 🙂

I think the stupidity of the Republican’s position is exemplified by this interview exchange between a TV host and a Republican strategist…

TV Host (TVH) – Why are you so against Obamacare?

Republican Strategist (RS) – Because it is one of the worst things to happen in American history. And it is unconstitutional.

TVH – But the US Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional.

RS (Looking totally stunned, with a ‘how dare you ask me a sensible question like that’ kind of look) – Um, yes, but it had to go all the way to the US Supreme Court for that to be decided.

I had a big WTF planned but I’ll leave it to you to determine the stupidity of this statement. Just to help you though, the Republicans were the one who took the law to the Supreme Court…and the Supreme Court is the only body who can rule on Constitutional matters. 🙂

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Wasters!

I just watched a documentary, The Light Bulb Conspiracy, that made me really sangry (that’s sad and angry. Clever hey, feel free to use it.:-) ). It was about how the world’s economic growth model deliberately incorporates obsolescence. So the basic idea is deliberately make things with either a short physical or desirability lifespan so that people have to buy things more often. When you think of it, it makes perfect sense, if you are a sociopathic arsehole. Actually, that’s not fair. It probably did make sense at the time when the idea was first flagged, during the great depression, to stimulate the world’s economies. But now that we know of the potential damage that continued economic growth will do the environment, it is considerably less justifiable. Btw, planned obsolescence isn’t a thing of conspiracy, it is an accepted practice that takes many forms. Some countries, like the UK, consider it real enough to have their Office of Fair Trade investigate that any product that continually fails soon after the warranty period expires.

Some of the examples they gave in the documentary would have been quite interesting if they weren’t so fucking infuriating! For example, when Dupont’s scientists came up with nylon it was so strong that they could tow a car with a pair of stockings and they would last a couple of years. So the scientists were told to go back and make it weaker. Just think about that the next time you get a run in your stockings, ladies, they don’t need to be that fragile.

Or the next time your printer suddenly stops working, it might well just be the chip a lot of printer have installed that shuts them down when a set number of pages has been reached, even thought there is nothing actually wrong with the printer. The manufacturers call it a protection chip.  Btw, if you search the net you can find instructions for how to rest the chip if your printer has one.

And even well respected companies like Apple seem to be in on it. The original iPod was designed with a battery life of between 12-18 months but was advertised as having a battery life of the lifetime of the machine. They then made replacing them so difficult and expensive that they advised you just to replace the iPod, at around $500 a pop. This was eventually challenged in court and Apple settled. But in the meantime a third party industry had sprung up to provide battery replacement services to iPod owners. Funnily enough, subsequent iPod models had their batteries either welded or glued in. 🙂 And, as this article suggests, they seem to still be at it. The iPhone was the first mobile phone to come out with a battery that could not be easily replaced by the user.

Now, I’m not against buying stuff, though I do think that most of us already have too much, but I think that what we buy should at least last a decent amount of time. There is a book, called Natural Capitalism, that suggests that the average life of all consumer goods, or maybe it was all Christmas gifts (I can’t remember exactly) is about one year. Whichever one it is still makes for a pretty wasteful society. Compare this to the model used in the old East Germany, where, because they had limited access to natural resources, consumer goods had to be designed, by law, to have a minimum 25 years working life. Now this is probably a bit extreme, because I can’t imagine that those machines are particularly energy efficient and a market for new products probably drive innovations in this area. But, when you think about it, given the energy that goes into the production of a new, say, washing machine, one machine that lasts 25 years may still be over-all more efficient that building 5 machines over the same period. But I digress. As I was saying, 25 years is probably a bit extreme. But 1 year is definitely too short! Somewhere in between would be nice.

And just to show you it can be done, here is a link to a 60 watt light bulb that has been burning for 110 years! This is the reason for the name of the documentary. Apparently in the 1920’s a consortium of light bulb manufacturers got together and decided that light bulbs should be limited to a lifetime of 1000 hours, even though technology existed at that time to make light bulbs that lasted over 2500 hours. There is great article here that goes into the social and environmental impacts of planned obsolescence much better that I have here. Pop over and read it. But before you get too outraged by this bastardry 🙂 it is probably worth remembering that one of the most often used forms of planned obsolescence is Style Obsolescence, where we are ‘convinced’ to buy the latest and the greatest. So we are part of the problem too.

Free the information! Free the information! :-)

I was reading an email I got today from Crikey, a really good alternative news source for anyone who is interested, and this little snippet struck me as kind of cheeky.

“Game plan revealed. This Age article today gives away the IPA and Tim Wilson’s game plan for fighting the carbon price, says one Crikey reader:

Right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs has received a warning from the Department of Climate Change after it submitted more than 750 freedom-of-information requests in four months. The institute, which strongly opposes carbon pricing, has made more than 95 per cent of FOI requests lodged with the department since April …

… It is believed Mr Wilson submitted about 440 information requests on one day in late July and more than 140 on one day last week. A government source said it took about 39 hours of staff time to process each application.”

Now, not only do I think it is a bit cheeky to bog the Department of Climate Change down with frivolous Freedom of Information requests but I think it is particularly cheeky coming from an organisation that regularly spouts off about how inefficient the public service is and how we need to let the private sector run everything. I am paraphrasing here, and they word it a little more subtly on  their website, but that is basically what they believe.

In the interest of fairness (though why I should, it is my blog! 🙂 ), you can read the IPA’s response here. I really like this bit though,

‘Mr Wilson has, very reasonably, agreed not to lodge more requests while the bureaucrats tackle the backlog. We hope this does not give them an excuse to dawdle. The department estimates it takes 39 hours for an officer to process one request, which begs the question of whether our public servants need a dose of productivity training.’

Good game plan. Make lots of requests at 39 hours a piece and then complain about how inefficient the public sector is. Did anyone notice the missing information in this seemingly reasonable piece about our right to know? If you said the lack  of information about what the 750 requests were for then you are right. Bit rich coming from an organisation that believes ‘since in our book there can never be anything vexatious about exercising the public’s right to know. No ifs, no buts.’ and ‘Transparency is about putting as much information in the public domain as possible, not about limiting the flow’.

I mean, 440 requests in one day, how much information do they want to free?? You do have to admire their balls though. 🙂

It’s a pity they couldn’t Transform it into a good movie! :-)

As part of being a good citizen I thought it was my duty to come on and tell the world, DON’T GO AND SEE THE NEW TRANSFORMERS MOVIE!! 🙂 This movie should have an ‘R’ rating, for the rage you are going to feel at having parted with good money to see it. Or maybe even an ‘X’ rating, cos that is what your language is going to be if you paid the extra to see it in 3D. I  mean, when a total stranger (in the target demographic) breaks the guy code of not talking to anyone at the urinal, to tell you how bad it was then it must be very bad indeed! It is only the second movie in my life I have wanted to walk out of. The only reason I didn’t was cos I was with a mate, who, as it turns out, didn’t walk out for the same reason. It was so bad that it has been put in my ‘You have to admire their balls’ section, well, cos you just have to! 🙂

I really can’t even begin to tell you how bad it was but I am going to anyway. 🙂 The plot was a rambling piece of crap, the acting was awful, it was way too long (nearly 3 hours) and the dialogue was so lame at times that it actually very nearly made the whole experience worthwhile. And, before people jump all over me, this is even with a full understanding that this was just meant to be a rollicking action movie and not a cinematic masterpiece. I watched the first one again during the week and enjoyed it. The sad thing is, with a cast like John Malkovich (what the hell was his kung fu bit with Bumblebee about :-S ), John Turturro, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong (he of Community and The Hangover fame) et al., there was a real chance for them to make a substantial action movie.

On the plus side the action was typical Transformers good, but not really that much advanced from the first movie, and, well that’s about it really. 🙂 No wait, at least in the UK they are not into the whole 3D ticket price rip-off. Tickets to 3D movies are the same prices as for 2D. You then pay an extra $1.20 and buy a pair of glasses to keep. Next time you go to a 3D movie you just use the same glasses.

Oh, and the 3D, don’t bother. Once again, in a movie that seems perfect for it, it’s pointless. With all the fighting, flying, shooting etc. not one thing jumps out at you. And is it just me or does 3D just make everything look like cardboard cut-outs? I don’t know what it is, maybe the edges of things are too clearly defined, but it just doesn’t look anything like real 3D.

Btw, while I have you, can you sort something out for me? When 3D glasses make 2D into 3D, are they just adding another dimension or increasing the number of dimensions by 50%? The reason I ask is I want to know whether wearing the glasses in the real world will give me 4D or 4 1/2 D?

A question for you all.

I thought I had scored a bonanza with a couple of recent articles featuring quotes by Gerry Harvey. I thought I had another entry, possible  the winner, for the ‘You have to admire their balls’ series…and if you read the articles I probably do. But then I started thinking…maybe with Gerry Harvey it isn’t a case of him having the gall to says the things he is saying. Maybe he is, in fact, delusional. And I’m not trying to be funny here. Some of the things he has said recently suggest to be that he might have some kind of mental illness.

In this article he suggests that Australia needs a two tiered wages system with people from poor countries being offered jobs here at lower rates that Australian citizens. Now, without touching on most of what is wrong with this idea morally, the first issue here is that it smacks directly in the face of his argument that GST should be applied to on-line shopping to give a level playing field. So he wants a level playing field for him but not for others? But this discrepancy can maybe be explained away by good old greed and self-interest. However the example he uses suggests something else might be going one here. He says, and I quote, “I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff. Workers would rather work in the mines where they get paid twice as much.” Seriously, couldn’t he see that premising his argument on the fact that he is rich enough to own horse studs….studs, not stud…might not engender a lot of sympathy? Surely most reasonable, and sane, people would think ‘Hmmmm, want to make an argument for allowing me to exploit people from poor countries…must remember not to highlight that I am a filthy rich’!

Second point in hand is this article, where he suggests that Australian should be happy to pay the extra 10% because ‘Yes, you might have to pay more, but it’s the right thing to do. You’ll pay a lot more if we lose jobs and retailers close down’. Yet you can bet he and his organisation do everything they can to minimise their own tax, they source most of the products overseas,no doubt because they are cheaper, and they have quite deliberately set out to destroy smaller retailers…none of which are really the ‘right thing to do’ for the greater good of Australia. But again, the issue here is how totally out of touch with reality using this argument to get support for his case appears to be. Does he seriously think people will buy this, which would suggest a mental health issue to me, or is he just taking the piss?

So the question I’m asking is whether this guy has some kind of mental illness or have I just totally under-estimated the human capacity for greed and self-interest? Though I guess when the CEO of one of the other major retailers involved in all this says that we should be happy to pay the extra 10% because ‘there’s a moral principle at stake here’ it just proves the case of an article I read a while back that suggests that the best place to find a sociopath is at the head of a major corporation!:-)

You have to be ‘ken kidding!

I’ve decided to start a new series….the ‘You have to admire their balls’ category…which will pay homage to those people or groups who have the balls to do something so hypocritical, patently unfair or unbelievably self-serving that you can’t help but be impressed by their moxy.

I started in with the Republican Party in the US and this corker. Oh wait, I probably started with here when the Mining Resources Rent Tax was something the media told us we should care about. But next is the latest campaign by the large Australian retailers to have GST put on on-line sales from overseas…only 3% of shopping sales at the moment. I mean, poor babies! It must be tough for them…they deserve to have the playing field levelled a bit. After-all, it is going to cost Australian jobs…oh wait, just like their strategy of closing down small retailers has. And whatever happened to customer loyalty…oh wait, didn’t they destroy that themselves by deliberately developing consumers sensitive only to price. And then when these customers find a better price they want the government to step in. Shows how much they really care about their customers!

I just have a bit of a chuckle  when these bastions of free enterprise have a problem and, rather than getting creative and finding a way around it, they bleat to the government. Yet when it suits them, like when they want an end to controlled shopping hours….designed to make the playing field level for smaller businesses…they tell the government to stop  interfering with the free market!

But, as I say, you have to admire their balls!