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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tired Of “Sides” & Personalities. What About the Issues?

I’ve been trying this blogging stuff for a while now and my major accomplishment seems to have been arriving at the conclusion that I’m just not very good at it.

There are a ton of factors contributing to that decision, probably a major one being that I’m just not that great a writer but heck, lots of people can’t write worth beans but still have successful blogs.  Another factor has been that I have never been able to come up with any kind of unique format or gimmick for my little sessions here that would make people want to come here or more importantly, come back here after they’ve been here once.   There’s also the fact that for as long as I’ve been doing this I haven’t exactly served as a shining example of originality, usually electing to write about the same subjects everyone else is writing about this week with most of them doing a better job at it than I do and tending to repeat myself in a discernible cycle as my favorite subjects (or targets) cycle through my field of view.

But of all the things I could list to explain away the reasons why my little blog has not been particularly successful as far as attracting and keeping readers, I think the factor that has had the most negative impact has been the fact that I don’t have a side.  In today’s American Politics arena you’ve got to be pretty much on the side of one of the two major parties or you’re going to wind up being trolled by morons from both of them and believe me, when it comes to trolling, there isn’t enough difference between the two bunches to shake a stick at.  

As far as what’s left of our two party political system is concerned, I consider myself an independent in the truest sense of the word. The only term that comes anywhere close to describing my political position is that of “Populist” using the Wickipedia definition of Populism as a “political doctrine where one sides with “the people” against “the elites.  (I left the links intact for any of our less educated and more right leaning friends who might not know what a “doctrine” or an “elite” is.  Since it’s the elites who are destroying the country for the sake of their own avarice and lust for dominion over others, it never hurts to know where to look things like that up).

Since the Populists don’t really have a party of their own I find myself more often than not allied to the more liberal wing of the Democratic party but that’s basically just an artifice that makes it easier for me to choose between candidates and issues.  I base that on the fact that the Democrats… while certainly no longer deserving of the “Party of the People” mantle they acquired during the middle of the last century… usually try to support a position at least SOMEWHAT to the left of the GOP and Tea Party whose members have simply gone all in on the “I want mine, eff the rest of you” philosophy that guides every move they make these days.

There is NOTHING that is going to save this country for its common people short of a complete teardown and overhaul. It’s just not gonna happen.  NO Republican will ever do it, Barack Obama won’t do it, Hillary Clinton won’t do it.  As hard as it is for many of you to choke down, a fair sized percentage of the 99% are actually worse off than they were six years ago and similar numbers of poor people also found themselves worse off in 2000 in spite of the surplus and all the goodies the\ middle class thought it had won.

Our political leaders… from the top down and of both parties… have no interest in doing any overhauls and all they’re ever going to do is stick a damned band-aid on some of the more visible ouchies.  If you still believe any differently maybe I could get you to share some of what you’ve been smoking for the past thirty years because whatever Never Neverland you’re living in is NOT the America I’m living in any more than the America I’m living in is the one I grew up in.

If you really think politicians from either of the two parties today are interested in “fixing” the situations that are putting millions of bucks in their collective pockets annually while all you and I have to offer them right now is our meager little vote… and it looks like many of us won’t have even that for much longer if we don’t put a total stop to ALL this crap right now… then don’t let me catch you whining when they outsource YOUR kid’s job, foreclose on YOUR kid’s home, and cut off YOUR kid’s health care, food stamps and unemployment benefits.  YOU can explain to your kids why you didn’t have the backbone… or worse yet the time… to stand up for them and put a stop to the Fascist bullshit when you had your damned chance.

A damned good start toward treating the disease instead of just flinging monkey dung at the individual symptoms would be to stop making the “sides” more important than the issues, eliminate all of the cult and rock star crap and get back to the basics of electing people who can take the country forward, not let it slide slowly (or more slowly, that seems to be our only two choices)… into third world status.  I’m guessing that until we do that, we’re not ever going to get anywhere.

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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Little Everyday Corporate Scams We Don’t Even Notice

Disclaimer: The following is based on information from an unidentified source who requested anonymity on the basis that he was not authorized to speak on any facet of FedEx’s operation in the countdown to taking over the US Postal Service and that if we didn’t conceal his true identity he wouldn’t be an unidentified source anymore.  I will therefore guard his identity with my very life… unless you like threaten to kill me or something.  (Hey it works for Fox News, right?)

Due possibly to a glitch in an overly friendly FedEx Customer Service tracking computer, a few folks are finding out that the tiered system by which a shipper varies it’s shipping charges according to the amount of time it supposedly takes to get your package to you may not have much of a foundation these days.

I’ve often wondered why it takes a week or ten days to ship something to my house from say, San Diego, 350 miles down the road.  I’ve also wondered why it takes the same week or ten days to ship the exact same item from Moosebutt, Maine, three THOUSAND miles across the country and why it would cost the same amount in both cases.

I know, part of the answer is that the merchandise from both places has to be shipped to a central distribution hub and that stuff I buy in California has to go to Atlanta and then come BACK to California but that still doesn’t FedEx4explain the rather arbitrary way in which the costs of shipping merchandise are computed.  If you step back and take a good look, it almost seems that it’s simply a matter of them saying, “OK, we have your stuff. If you want it in a week or two, give us ten dollars, but if you want it tomorrow or the next day, it’s gonna cost twenty otherwise we’ll just hang on to it for a while.

Fact is that in spite of having to ship something halfway across the country and back, we’re talking about doing it by air… which is the way FedEx does it… and it very seldom ever takes a week or ten days to get a package to anywhere from anywhere in the country by air and that the real time interval is probably more like 2-3 days no matter what “level” of shipping you choose.  When you get right down to it, there is no standard rationale of any kind for determining shipping charges.  On line merchants just charge whatever they’re being charged by the carriers plus whatever they think they can get away with for their own pockets and the shippers set theirs by a phony system they try real hard to make you believe is calibrated on the actual transit time of the merchandise..

Due to the aforementioned overly friendly computer(s), we may now have at least a partial explanation as to why this and other forms of weirdness occur such as the shipping on many small objects… as a computer hobbyist I tend to order lots of small objects… actually costing more than the merchandise itself, another pet peeve of mine (but perhaps not all that pertinent for the purposes of this post).

It appears that no matter what you pay, your package is going to go on a plane either the same day you order it or the day after, depending on the time of day the order is placed.  In fact, many if not most most online merchants take great care to point out that your item will ship on the same day the order is received.  It’s only common sense on their part since good logistics practices don’t allow for letting purchased items stack up in warehouses taking up space that’s needed for new merchandise so getting it into the hands of the carrier as soon as possible is a smart move.

And once it disappears into a carrier’s vehicle the other player… the carrier has total control over how long it will take you to get your stuff  While there are others, UPS, DHL, TNT, etc  that work much the same way, for our post here, that would be FedEx (because hey, they use The Flash in their ads and The Flash is way cool)  who is obviously paid the lion’s share of the shipping costs charged  and who’s charges to the shipper form the basis for the setting of the amount of those charges by the merchant in the first place.  (And, incidentally, FedEx  is one of the major shipping companies that is bankrolling the attempted coup against the USPS so they can apply their tactics and price structures to ALL your mail).

FedEx2Once FedEx has your merchandise, it goes to Atlanta and is sorted and routed to the closest local FedEx facility and we can be pretty sure that all this is done in the shortest possible time or there wouldn’t be any such thing as overnight or next day service and it makes absolutely no sense to have separate sorting and routing systems for supposedly various small segments of the overall operation.

This means that your package probably reaches your local facility in a maximum average of two days, possibly less since the only difference between it and an overnight delivery would be that upon arrival at the local facility, the overnight goes directly into the local system for delivery while your raggedy assed package winds up going into the “system” for a week or so where is is subject to being shoved around, run over by forklifts, “accidentally” opened by employees or just flat out lost.

When the time finally arrives for your package to be carried that last few miles… or yards, since you could live right next door to your local FedEx and it would still be the same… the tracking system computer lets you know… provided you’re tracking it… that the locals have your stuff and it will be out and on its way to you momentarily.  And that’s a drastically simplified version of how a simple package gets from point A to point C by doubling back from point B… or something like that.  And it does NOT take seven to ten days to do it.

This has been SOP for decades with these glorified messenger services and 99.9% of the American public have probably never thought to question it.  Only lately, when the tracking computers have screwed up and notified customers that their package had reached the local warehouse instead of waiting until their penalty box time for not shelling out extra bucks was up has someone looked at the thing and said WTF?.

And that’s not the end of the story either because these folks found out that this was NOT some kind of happy little serendipity thing where you’re gonna get your package sooner.  Here’s how it appears to work in this case.

FedEx3After being notified that their merchandise is already at their local depot… say maybe after a day or two of waiting while no doubt heaping praises FedEx for being so much “faster” than usual…it dawns on the customer that they still don’t have their package.  At this point some decide to call FedEx to see what’s up with that.

Short version of the answer: “You only paid for the 7-10 day service so you have to wait the full 7-10 days to get your stuff.”.  And right there, the whole tiered shipping charge rip off is exposed in all it’s malodorous glory .

Silly wabbit.   I’ll bet you thought all along that 7-10 day wait was due to increased transit times maybe due toFedEx your choosing the cheapskate route, the schlepping of your stuff across the country or world by truck, train or banana boat or something like that there, right? Oh contrary moan Amy.  They already HAVE your package, you’re just not going to get it until the time you opted for is up. You can’t even drive over there and pick it up yourself unless of course you want to pay the difference.

It does NOT cost FedEx any more to deliver your package in 2-3 days than it does to deliver in 7-10 days. The package spends that extra 5-7 days sitting in the local warehouse, just tantalizingly beyond your reach, only because you didn’t pay to have it loaded on a truck and sent out sooner, NOT because it’s still in transit because it was shipped in a rusty old 76 Freightliner that’s stalled in a truck stop in Gohmertville Texas because the owner/operator spent his fuel money play playing slap and tickle the cook’s daughter.

Small thing? You bet.  As a matter of fact, 99% of the scams perpetrated on the public by these ginormous corporations are “small things”.  The occasional “big” ones you hear about when the whore media simply can’t ignore them any more are designed so that they not only to make the same old fat cats a bunch of money in e relatively short time but… when the bubble pops… serve as shiny objects to distract people from these ongoing and everyday “small” scams that may not be so spectacular in terms of instant gratification for Wall Street and its government pimps but which, taken in view of the millions of people and small businesses affected over the many years, often decades,  that most of them have been going on, have proved to be just as lucrative, if not more so, than the bubbles have.

If you’re OK with it,more power to you.  I’m sure Wall Street is more than happy to have it’s little boiling frog theory proven out for them.  I just wish you’d find some way to have all this crap you’re OK with apply only to your own bank account and leave mine the hell alone.

–#67–

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Twitter Cults: Thin Skins and Short Memories

Disclaimer:  Some people who read this may feel insulted by it.  That’s not my intent.  I don’t know how many members for the Democratic party fit into the category of Democrat I’m going to be talking about here.  That’s a number I have no way to determine although I would guess just from what I read on my Twitter timeline that it’s probably a sizable one.  If you feel insulted by anything you read here then you probably are one.  If you’re not one then there’s nothing here you should feel insulted by.

Had a bit of a confrontation yesterday with one of those folks on Twitter who like to call themselves “libs” in their profiles but who exhibit a whole lot of the same symptoms of Tea Party Foot in Mouth Disease you see displayed by RWNJs as a simple matter of course, chief among them being the assumption that their little world is the ONLY little world out there and that everyone faces exactly the same ups and downs in their daily lives that they do.

No need to go in to any detail  He and I are basically reading the same book even if we’re on different pages and as far as I’m concerned, no real harm was done. But it did set me to thinking yet again about the paradigm shifts… always to the right by the way… that have taken place in what’s called “left wing” thinking these days and one indication that arose quickly was that a lot Of Democrats are like a lot of Republicans in considering any disagreement with some statement they may have made as some kind of personal attack and that’s not the only similarity between their “debate” techniques.

What used to be a simple and ultimately healthy battle between ideologies has, with the advent of real time social networks, become a battle of individual personalities where everything is taken personally and simple disagreements become personal attacks.  Everyone is so busy fending off what he or she believes to be attacks on their very character that almost invariably, any attempt at a true discussion of issues degenerates into a litany of name calling and character assassination.

None of this is new to anyone.  The core practices themselves were instituted by Wall Street’s right wing turdminions in the mid/late 90s when the extent to which the Internet was going to dominate life in America became readily apparent.  Those same practices are still serving the Masters of the Universe well as a stopgap until complete control of the networks can be assumed and they work mostly by keeping us divided and at each other’s throats.  That’s a bait no modern day leftie can resist since one of their favorite things in the world is beating up other lefties..

There’s no question that the right wingers are far more adept at manipulating public opinion among the “unwashed masses” than is the left… or what passes for the left these days.  Their rockbound control over the GOP through the organ that they invented solely for that purpose, the Tea Party. is unprecedented in world history.  All that’s left for them to do now is to complete their takeover of the left and move it to the right sufficiently as to eliminate any truly organized resistance to their ongoing coup.  Hmmm.  Not far to go on that one either.

The tactics they used against the ignorant and uninformed among their right wing core required some modification and experimentation in order to work on the Blue State denizens who consider themselves more educated and therefore more intelligent than BillyJoeBob and his toothless wife/cousin, but not a lot.  Today’s Progressives love to think that they are somehow immune to being manipulated but really, it’s simply a matter of finding the right combination of buttons to push.  I have buttons, you have buttons, everybody’s gotta have buttons.

With the “ignorant rednecks” it was basically self interest, perhaps the basest self interest of all, one based on an innate feeling in many, if not most of, white Americans of European descent that they are somehow intrinsically superior to every other race on the planet.  This constitutes much of what makes these folks so inordinately proud of being ignorant, unsophisticated in the ways of the world and unschooled.  They’re white; they don’t need to be smart or educated or wise or anything else to be superior.  Why waste their time learning about other countries and other people and all those useless things when none of them matter in the face of the supremacy of the white race?  The only problem they’ve run into is finding a way to force the rest of the world to recognize that supremacy.  Of course, it ain’t gonna happen But Wall Street is more than happy to help them keep trying.

A center/right Democrat’s superiority button on the other hand is intellect, not race and the same crudities won’t work so It’s a little trickier with your average c/r Democrat who belongs to the Democratic party not because it’s still the “party of the people”… hasn’t been anything like that since at least 1980, as witnessed by the fact that both of the Democratic presidents elected in that period have been center right if not outright conservatives and been instrumental in numerous actions that have played directly into the Wall Street/Right Wing agenda… but because it’s considered the party of the “smarter” set.

It also becomes pretty apparent when you look at congress and it suddenly strikes you that of the 535 members of that august body, you could count the number of actual liberals (by the old school definition of the term) on the fingers of one hand and have your thumb left over to play switch with.  Liberalism today has devolved into nothing more than a label you hang on yourself to get them to vote for you or your candidate, a throwaway you can immediately dump once it’s served its purpose.  Then you go back to competing with the RWs to see who can find the foulest epithet to apply to liberals.

It was bad enough when we still had two separate parties and two distinct ideologies to choose from.  At least the differences were unmistakable then.  Not so today.  Today we don’t elect on the basis of red or blue but what shade of purple paint we can slop on someone and make him/her appeal to both “sides”.

As far as I’m concerned, electing a president not on the basis of “Which one is going to do the most good?“ but of “Which one is going to do the least harm?” is a goddamned stupid way to run a country but it’s what we’ve had for thirty years and for many of today’s voters it’s all they’ve ever had which I suppose, is what makes it OK with them.  It’s not OK with me.  In fact it’s one of those Things That Really Piss Me Off but even I’m intelligent enough… if only barely so… to realize nobody gives a rat’s ass what I think.

So today’s “leftie” thinks one of the things that makes him a leftie is his innate intellectual superiority to the average right winger, an attitude that can’t help but spill over into his dealings with other Democrats, especially actual liberal Democrats.  Anybody remember that thread where a couple of guys we’ll call  Bolitical_Pill and Shilt Mook (names changed for no particular reason) were discussing their patriotic duty to “educate” other progressives in the proper way to conduct themselves as true progressives?  I do.  Blocked both of them right on the spot just to save wear and tear I can’t afford to undergo anymore.

The point is not that they were being a couple of pompous blowhards and egotistical jerks… Twitter is an ego inflation thing after all and that’s what guys like them do on Twitter, why they’re there in the first place.  The point is that in spite of being Twitters political version of the Festrunk Brothers, they were able to con a lot of people into going along with Pill’s decidedly pro right wing pronouncements and Mook’s constant diatribes against what remains of the real left in this country.  All either of them had to do was toss a “GOP=Bad Guys” tweet in there now and then and they were instantly anointed champions of the left and got to be cult figures with their little bands of groupies hanging on every word of every tweet.

A major thing for the “intellectually superior” types that have assumed the mantle of the left that has come down from my old 1960s days is the need for not just leaders but gurus or cult style figures they can anoint and worship at the feet of.  We had all kinds from JFK to  Mahareshi Yogurt or whatever including people who performed crappily in a couple for crappy movies and got offed in a car accident and rock stars who snuffed themselves with drug overdoses.  There was always something or someone for lefties to build a cult around.  That mentality may be the only thing that has survived from the days when activists had to actually get off their couches and go some where and… well… ACT on something.

Twitter is just like that only on steroids.  While the various cult figures might have varied over the years depending on your demographic, the need… not for people whom we can simply respect for doing a having done a good job… but for someone upon whom to lavish slavish adoration and full blown hero worship  has remained throughout, having come full circle and returning to its political roots in the 1990s.  We saw it then with Bill Clinton who remains a bit of a demigod even today in spite of having signed into law a crapload  of highly onerous right wing sponsored legislation that exceeds some of his Republican predecessors in terms of negative impact on the country.  None of that mattered because he was Bill Clinton, the BIG DOG by god.  I myself still get a kick out of watching him do his “aw shucks” shtick but I never bought that “I feel your pain” routine, especially during his second term.

And of course the ultimate rock star President, Barack Obama who just may have more right wingers in his cabinet and bureaucracies than  any president in history… certainly any DEMOCRATIC president, I’m sure… who has steadfastly refused to prosecute the war criminals of the Cheney regime while his administration gleefully snaps up low hanging fruit such as army privates and low end government contractors… declined to investigate the corporate rake offs in our new privatized system for waging war… goes along with the “too big to fail, too big to jail” meme religiously and has yet to bring to justice a single one of the fat cats who wrecked the economy and is the first Democratic president in history to try to tie Social Security to the deficit and propose cuts in Social Security balance the budget when Social Security isn’t PART of the budget… who in short, has steadfastly maintained a decidedly right of center position NOT against the desires of the average Democrat but because of them.

For anyone from the left to even suggest that there’s something wrong with a Democratic administration that runs the country on a Wall Street agenda brings instant retribution from people who profess to be staunch Constitutionalists with one breath and propose repealing 22nd amendments the next so they can elect Mr. Obama Dictator President for life and then repealing a major clause in the bill of rights so he can track their every move with impunity.

These people are willing to forego many of their basic rights and freedoms, starting with the right to be protected against illegal search and seizure, their right to free assemble, their right to question the acts of their government, subject themselves to virtually Orwellian style living conditions… all so they can have Barack Obama take care of them and “keep them safe” for the rest of their lives.  That’s some scary shit right there, especially to someone who read 1984 back when it was considered an impossible science fiction scenario. (Just for the record, I don’t NEED him or any other politician to take care of me.  When that day comes, we’ve lost whatever damned war we were fighting anyway).

Wall Street doesn’t care if the POTUS is a Democrat or a Republican.  They don’t care if he or she claims to be a conservative or a liberal (although there’s very little chance of that anyway) as long as it gets him or her elected and he or she knows which side his or her bread is really buttered on.  In the 2008 cycle, Barack Obama received far more in corporate contributions than did McCain’s campaign.  In 2012, they (Wall Street) had it coming and going.  One candidate was already in debt to them, the other was ONE of them.  Win win for Wall Street?  Well, look how it’s turned out.

You folks need to quit looking for super heroes and messianic cult figures and find someone who operates on a simple right/wrong good for the country philosophy.  Otherwise simply admit that you don’t WANT someone who operates on a simple good for the country philosophy like that and you’re OK with Wall Street running things.   This electing of thinly veiled moderate conservatives and calling them liberals and then going all incredible hulk on anyone that doesn’t buy it, just makes you look silly

You had one of those actual public servant types once but you let yourself be flim-flammed by the Reagan propaganda machine and wound up trading the last real leftie president we ever had for the beginning of the end of the republic. Didn’t learn a damned thing from it either.  Since then we’ve had five either outright conservative republicans or right leaning corporate Democrat presidents and for thirty years the country has gone to a hell in a hand basket.

And for that entire thirty years plus the twenty years prior to it, I’ve personally observed every moment of it, several times if you count hindsight.  People wonder why I’m a cynical old grouch?

–#67–

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in Uncategorized