The Authoritarians

obey

After (proudly) watching (left-wing biased) highlights on the youtubes from the latest freak-show aka the republican party debate, a new thought popped into my head this morn. Well, actually, two thoughts popped in. The first: Winners. Not winners in the sense of winning but winners in the sense of everyone wants to be winners when there is no winning anymore. To be really, really honest, I don’t know if there ever was winning in the system that political populists have curated over the past thirty (or so) years, but certainly a few people have profited from the freak-show. What does it mean these days to be a WINNER? It almost reminds me of Charlie Sheen’s WINNING period (see vid link below). The whole country is running around hiding its AIDS (of the mind) but proselytising that it can’t lose. It’s so obvious listening to republican candidates blab on and on and on that the thing they are selling, while embodying the complete opposite, is the fact that everybody is and still can be a winner in this system if yet another republican is elected. The candidates and the voters are so clueless to the level of failure that they espouse it’s as though they were on top of a crowd of people stuck in a well in the middle of a barren desert and no one below them can give it a second thought whether or not they’ll get out. §The second thing that crossed my mind: Authoritarians. I know. I know. It’s an adjective so it doesn’t need to be capitalised. But go with me for a sec here. Among other (political) things, America is an authoritarian system. The authority in that system is not specifically a person, though. I mean, America doesn’t have a Putin or a Franco or a Mugabe (see link below). No. America has something better. In fact, America’s something-better is so powerful, omnipotent, that people give in to it as though they need it to breath. Now don’t get me wrong. I can’t emphasise this enough. Americans and the American way of life, say what you will about their/its destructive nature, probably has the best thing out there–compared to other countries. Yet the people of America bow so deeply to this authority that one need not even ask the question regarding who it is they bow to. It’s obvious the people of North Korea bow to a supreme leader. Even Russians love the mystique of Vladimir Putin. But do Americans love these republican candidates? Did they love Dubya? Do they really hold Ronald Reagan on such a high perch? Americans might feel some passion for The Donald but do they really want to be below him as he tries to get them out of the well and onto the barren desert? Oh wait. The Donald wasn’t even in the debate last night. Or was he? Listening to the top polling candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio is a mind boggling thing. These bed-wetter men represent better than anyone before them, even dipshit Dubya, the potential to bow before authority as if there is no tomorrow. Yet, it’s still not a person that Americans submit themselves to. Indeed. Ideas are powerful things. And so. I’ve concluded in my morning thoughts–perhaps a form of therapy after listening to republicans–that Americans are ALL Authoritarians. But. Again. I’m not using the word as adjective. No. Americans are nouns. And that’s not all. What I got out of watching the debate–together with what I’ve seen from the other republican debates and listening for years at how liberals are demonised–is that Americans want few things above and beyond money, money, money. In order to get any of that money, Americans want to be subservient to (an) authority. They want an authority to rule over them–because there’s some money it. It is the only way for (republican) Americans–especially those whose brains are so tainted from right-wing-talk and conservative ideology–to be able to grasp the world that they have subjected themselves to that is solely defined by money–and that they clearly cannot understand. And. Again. It is not a person that Americans want to worship as an Authority. It is something much simpler than a living, breathing, corruptible sinner that they lust for. Indeed. Americans are Authoritarians because they want to be ruled, controlled, guided by the almighty greed-dollar. What is clear after all these years of conservative rule (considering that conservative rule has dominated government for more than thirty years irrespective of who is president), it must be extremely difficult for people to accept so much failure. Following conservative ideology, whether given by talk radio on things like taxes, small government or abortion, etc., or facilitating the election of people who are just like the ones on last night’s debate stage, it must be noted that it takes much longer to burn this house down. In that vein, I guess it’s good thing there are so many ditch-diggers who still vote after listening to Limbaugh and faux news twenty-four-seven. The people who will continue steering America on its steadfast path will go down with the ship, they will burn down the house, they will destroy the school yards sandbox before they give up what they’ve done. Yes. They will burn the fucking house down. And with that in mind, I should take better care about thoughts popping into my head in the morning. Now it’s time to say something about democrats. Or? Rant on. -Tommi

Links that helped with this post:

The Event Horizon Of Stupid

Scream no fear all worst

Event Horizon – noun, Astronomy, a theoretical boundary around a black hole beyond which no light or other radiation can escape; a point of no return: we’re nearing the event horizon of the presidential election.

Hat totting rural-ites taking over useless government buildings claiming the land which that building sits on is unlawfully owned by government. These same people also maintain that the government (for and by the people) is in (their) reality actually occupying territory and so that territory needs to be taken back because it belongs to all of us–but they got there first. Hey! What about this? Privately owned cattle should have the right to graze on government land without the privateer compensating the government for what his/her cattle does to that land–for twenty frickin’ years. That pretty much sums up the recent activities of a family somewhere in the western portion of the US where stupid grows as much as grass. This level of cultural and social ignorance doesn’t seem to have an end, though. I don’t know about you but to me it seems like the chaos and mayhem going on the US right now is beyond shocking. I mean, the country has always been plagued by stupid people doing stupid things. I mean, you can only have so many smart people. Right? Yet, just when you think the bottom has been reached, something utterly stupefying takes place that proves there is no bottom (or end) to how low things can go. For example. A family owns a gun store that also repairs guns. A customer disputes a $25 charge for a gun repair and a gun fight breaks out. Four out of five people in the store are shot. The store owner and his (17 year old) son are dead. The other two are in critical condition. Over twenty-five dollars! You know, in all that is happening in the US right now, shooting people over twenty-five dollars sounds like an underachievement that is worth, at best, a footnote. But get this. The other day #americant wannabe bobbleheads got together in yet another showing of mental prowess in the race for the land’s highest office. Which makes worst-writer ask this question: How does the current presidential race mix with all the stupidity going on in the country? Well, I guess it’s all part of the race to the bottom. Or, as I like to worst-say: a race for failing upwards. And so. Misguided (mostly) white men defending the ideas they get from TV and poor people owning guns that can’t afford twenty-five dollar repair fees and, and, and… A former governor of Alaska, who is obviously stupider than the bed of rocks her salmon swim above, endorses a TV show character who is running for president. And why shouldn’t a TV guy run for prez? America already picked and still worships an actor that became president–and look what he did to the country. I don’t know about you, dear worst-reader, but boy do I love #americant. Rant on. -Tommi

Links that motivated this post: 

Review Refurbished MBA New Toy

MBA on sideNot For Sale

Although it may sound like it, I’m not selling anything. It’s just another boring morning of rain and grey weather and contemplation about tech. Also. The only form of sunshine this time of year (in Germania) is when a new toy arrives. And. What for a toy! With that in mind, this is more than just a toy. It it is, in fact, a tool-toy. Yes. It’s my worst-writing tool-toy. Or is it more than a tool? And you know the worst part about buying a new tool-toy? Between placing the online-order and finally receiving it, six days passed. Talk about consumer anxiety. I was going nuts. What was I to do with all the lonely empty space… without a tool-toy. Since I had to sell my old tool-toy before I could buy a new tool-toy, I was tool-toy-less for those waiting days. But that’s neither here nor there. Or? You know what else sucks in these days of happy technology consumption via the Interwebnets? UPS tracking numbers. Talk about useless technology. The only info UPS gave me was that my tool-toy arrived in Köln last Friday (ordered it on Wed). And since it didn’t make it to me on Friday, that meant, because UPS doesn’t deliver on Saturday, I had to wait till Monday without knowing if/when my toy was on… final approach. “All of this,” I thought, “just to save €300. Is it worth it?” (Short answer: f’n yes!)

UPS out kitchen window
Had to wait extra day simply because we were out of milk for cafe latte. Here’s delivery truck next day.

My new toy was supposed to arrive on Monday. I had spent the entire morning waiting, watching and counting all the delivery trucks that passed by my kitchen window. After lunch with no delivery, I took a chance and stepped out to the store around the corner to get some milk. My better-half has to have milk for her cafe latte every morning and we were clean out. I wasn’t gone but twenty-minutes. Have you already guessed what happened? When I got home there was that dumb-ass note on my door that I had just missed the UPS man. The note was time-stamped 13:05. I looked at my iPhone and it read 13:23. I had to wait a whole ‘nother night to get my new toy. Yeah, is it worth it?

The Trusty Old MBP

I’ve spent a good few months trying to figure what new portable computer to consume. Obviously it was going to be another Macbook. But which one. My trusty 2010 13″ MacBook Pro had done its job. I got five (six?) solid years out of it. Since last year, though, it was showing signs of a lifespan stretched. Although it worked OK with Apple’s latest MacOS, it had obviously reached its limit. The only thing that kept it going was upgraded RAM and an SSD. Still, there is no beating the reality of Apple and an industry’s lust for making hardware prematurely obsolete. A five year old computer just can’t handle all the new software. That said, I consider Apple’s Snow Leopard (10.6.8) operating system one of the best I’ve ever used and the fact that I could stretch this thing so long says a lot. A little side note. For the fun of it I installed Apple’s El Capitan on my old device last summer. Surprisingly, it worked. It certainly worked better than any of the other OS’s between Lion and Yosemite. Keep in mind, the most important thing for a laptop is battery life. In the end, after replacing the battery last year, I was still getting more than four solid hours of battery using El Capitan. But the speed, the speed, the lack of speed…

New or refurbished?

Not sure how you see it, dear worst-reader, but Apple hardware is stupid expensive. I mean, seriously. It’s really, really stupid expensive. Maybe I shouldn’t worst-write that based on the fact that my old MBP worked so well for so long. But then again, why not say it. If any industry proves that a free market doesn’t exist, it’s the personal computer industry. There’s only one chip (CPU) maker out there which means that Apple, Lenovo, Dell, etc. can charge stupid prices for things that should cost half of what they ask for them. In order to convince us that their stupid-priced stuff is worth it, they fill stores with all their junk PCs. And here I am buying yet another over-priced device. But I digress.

A few years back I discovered Apple’s refurbished program. Have to say, it’s pretty compelling. I’ve since bought an iPad4 (which is now obsolete because I followed Apple’s OS updates), an AppleTV3 and an Airport Express–all using the refurbished section of Apple’s online store. Oh, almost forgot. My sister-in-law moved from Windows to Mac last year and I convinced her to save about €400 on a refurbished previous-year 21″ iMac. She loves the thing. And get this. I set up the iMac for her and couldn’t believe that even though she paid for only 8GB of RAM, the device Apple sent her had 16GB in it. So I guess, in the end, she got a lot more than she paid for. (So much for overpriced krapp, eh.)

The Competition

After giving Dell and Lenovo a quick look–yes, there are times I miss Windows–I came to the following conclusion: I’m too deeply invested in the Apple eco-system. With that in mind, my budget dictated that I could get any of the entry level 13″ laptops Apple made. If I watched and waited for what Apple was offering refurbished, I might be able to get more. So which one? Here’s some thoughts against the MacBook Pro.

  1. Apple’s 13″ “pro” series isn’t really pro. The device doesn’t even have discrete graphics? Heck, even my old MBP had discrete graphics. After weeks of reading and watching various reviews, I was convinced that Apple, to protect its precious margins–and just like it’s done in the past–sacrificed too much for the new MBP hoping that the (smoke) screen will be enough to protect its margins. All in all, the only “pro” laptop Apple offers is the 15″ MBP–with discrete graphics. But that thing is priced way out of my league.
  2. The retina screen. Spent lots of time fiddling with it at various stores. Obviously it’s crisp, bright and full of colours. But is it worth it–especially in the basic configuration? The only time I can see pixels on a computer screen is when I get up close to it. To me, the reason to have a high-density pixel screen is for professional graphic work or on a device you hold close to your face. In fact, when fiddling around with the MBP retina display, I found myself squinting to be able to read any text on it. My eye doctor always told me that squinting is the worst. Even though I like the retina screen on my iPad4, the same thing on a laptop feels like overkill. Apple is good at overkill.
  3. Thunderbolt sucks. No, seriously. Thunderbolt sucks balls. But I’ve been there. Apple does this krapp all the time. They put all these ports and whatnot on their “pro” machines in the name of ingenuity and progress but most of it is just BS. Can you say Firewire? Look at the fiasco of USB vs any other connectors on computers. With the advent of USB-C it’s obvious that Apple’s Thunderbolt has failed. The only good thing about thunderbolt is that its compatible with mini-display port, which my old MBP had so I already have that cable.

The last MBA

Ok. I’m obviously leaning toward the MBA, the MacBook Air. The main reason: battery life. Can’t get enough battery in these things. Another reason for the MBA is the comfort. The MBP is difficult to type on for hours and hours. The edges cut into my wrists and hands. The MBA is perfect for typing. And let’s not forget the weight. This thing is so light I forget it’s on my lap. In fact, I have to put more effort into keeping my knees together so it doesn’t fall between my legs while I’m typing. It’s also cooler–as in temperature. My old MBP would heat up quite a bit and my lap would heat up with it. As far as the screen goes. I’m good with it. I can see the letters and the words and the buttons and fields and whatever it puts up. All in all, this is the most ergonomic machine I’ve ever put on my lap.

But here’s the biggest reason of all as to why I decided for a 2015 13″ MBA. I’m betting it’s the last one. The MBA series of ultrabooks hasn’t really changed since they arrived in 2010. Although a lot of people have criticised that, I’m not one of them. For one thing, I never buy first iteration Apple products. Those who do are willing and able beta testers and to them all I can say is: keep up the good consuming. You pave the way for those of us who can’t afford as much fun or who don’t live for the newest specs alone. Besides, I love the MBA design, even the silver bezel around the screen. All in all, with what I paid for the higher specs, a worthy choice of tool for the next few years.

toy arrived
Box in a box. The refurbished MBA packaging has no pic of the MBA on the box cover, there is only the words “MacBook Air” and  “Refurbished”. Apple could just as well write second-class on it, too. I guess. But none of that matters. It finally arrived. Rant on, baby.

 

Tommi’s 2015 13 MBA Specs

  • 8GB RAM,
  • 250GB über-fast SSD
  • i7 CPU.

After getting over the slowness of setting it up (software downloads, software updates, registrations, etc.) this thing is f’n blazing fast. For a writer that fiddles with a blog and types a lot, this is more than enough computer.

Rant on.

-Tommi

Time To Make A Documentary About What's Outside The Mirror Not About What's In It

capitalism love store moore

The best part of this documentary is at the end when Michael Moore says that he can’t keep doing this. Of course, he then appeals to his audience directly making a request to those in the theatre to help him out–because he can’t keep doing this. I assume he’s referring to help with democracy and not help with buying something. But that’s neither here nor there for an Oscar totting filmmaker. Or? As usual with Moor documentaries, I had a short self-consoling ten minutes after it ended. During those ten minutes I also gave the film a thought or three. If I were to generalise and summarise those thoughts it would be this: Now I know why I skipped watching this movie when it first came out. At the time I just didn’t feel the need to watch another Moore documentary–or I didn’t want that ten minute consoling moment. It’s not that I don’t like Moore movies–I like them very much. It’s just that I always get this lingering lump in my throat after watching a Moore documentary and I hate that. Why should I put myself through it again (and again and again)? And here I am. Here we are.

It’s now the next morning and the lump is pretty much gone. A few beers that I started drinking halfway through the film helped, I guess. Of course, thinking about the movie brings back a bit of what I felt last night. But wait. There! The lump is gone (again). Nomatter. Here are the things that stick out from this film–but in the end mean nothing:

  • During the various evictions and foreclosures portrayed in the movie, Moore fails miserably to connect both sides of the transaction. I’m not wanting to be cruel here. It’s sad when a person or family is thrown out of a home. (I’ve actually seen it first hand when I worked for a property management company in the US so many years ago.) It’s just that Moore doesn’t mention the fact that the people agreed to refinance or take an equity loan on their house. Which brings me to the following question: why do so many people refinance and/or take equity loans on a house? Where is the documentary about what people did with all that refinancing and equity loan money? If, on the other hand, the farmer (in Moore’s movie) took an equity loan in order to farm, then that’s a different story. But Moore doesn’t mention why the farmer took the refinancing. He only shows the family being evicted. There is something else to be told–and Moore doesn’t tell it.
  • One of the reasons I shook-off the film when it came out was because of the trailer showing Moore wrapping “crime tape” around a NY bank. Moore gets an ‘A’ for cinema-effort here but a ‘D+’ for truth-execution. Reason? As angry as I am about banking and bankers, I do not blame them for everything. Today, through years and years of conservative politics, bankers rely solely on debt in order to exist. How that debt is structured is the reason Lehman failed and Goldman didn’t. Obviously there is a connection that Goldman has with the US government that Lehman didn’t have, but that, in the end, is only part of the game. The debt these banks are fiddling with (yes fiddling) is part of everyday life in a country that can’t manage millions upon millions of consumer transactions which are based on debt. I’m sure the guy running Lehman has learned his lesson and won’t make the same mistake twice. With that in mind, the superficiality of trying to make a “citizen arrest” of NY bankers is ludicrous compared to all of the holders of debt in the US that provide bankers their fodder.
  • The saddest part of this film isn’t foreclosures or the families living in vans or the sick dying because they can’t get healthcare. The saddest part is how the obvious cannot be shown–even by Moore. The way people live, the way they behave, the way they walk and talk to the gold mountains of bullshit is an awesome spectacle to see. And I see it. From my perch at thirty-thousand expat feet above gold mountains of bullshit I look down and I see. From Miami to NYC to San Fran to LA. I see Americans lingering about like zombies with smiles, clueless to anything. I mean, if Americans were less than clueless then perhaps the country wouldn’t have EARNED Donald Trump as its newest and best presidential candidate. But not only is Trump up there as a candidate but look at the people supporting him. They are the people that did and do everything that Moore features in this film and they are the (political) deciders who frequent Walmart, listen to faux newz, drink the zombie-smile kool-aid.
  • There is a moment in the movie where Moore interviews Wallace Shawn (the actor) and Shawn provides a frivolous definition of “free enterprise” and Capitalism. While explaining himself, Shawn uses the word “vote” in the context of how capitalism works, as though “voting” is synonymous with consuming. He then talks about how one guy, once he starts to accumulate more things and/or wealth, is predestined to continue accumulating–at the cost of those who don’t accumulate. This is all fine & dandy when one tries to define or explain a system run-amok. But what about those who are actually doing the “voting”? In my less-than-fulfilled reading of Marx and “socialism” there is one thing that I consider always missed: choice. Not unlike free-will, choice is the thing that we all make–especially in western democracies and/or so-called free societies. Say what you will about the systems we worship and about how they influence our lives. But dangle a consumer carrot in front of the face of your donkey and off course the ass will follow. With that in mind, actor, oscar winning documentary director, say what you will about the system, present it as a mirror in front of your audience, but never never never actually show what goes in that mirror.

But I digress.

Rant on. -Tommi

 

Green Magic Markers, Paying, The Donald In London 

Some dialogue while paying for breakfast this morn.

Waiter: Sign here please.

(Tommi takes the pen the waiter gives him but notices it’s defect.)

Tommi: Sorry mate, you got another pen?

(Waiter grunts with a cockney accent and goes to get another pen; he returns with 2nd pen.)

Waiter: Here.

Tommi: Thank you.

(Tommi takes the 2nd pen but it is also defect.)

Tommi: Say there, mate, gotta pen that writes?

Waiter: What? Are you pulling some magic on me?

(Waiter takes 2nd pen and fiddles with it.)

Tommi: One more chance. And remember: Three strikes and you’re out, mate.

(Waiter grunts again and rushes off. A few seconds later he returns and places a green magic marker in front of Tommi.)

Tommi: I’m not signing that with a magic marker.

Waiter: Sure.

Tommi: No.

Waiter: Oh yes you are!

Tommi: No. I’m not. My third grade teacher made me do weird shit with a green magic marker.

Waiter: I don’t care. Sign it!

Tommi: Oh come on, mate. Don’t remind me of those days. It was horrible going to public school in America. Magic markers were everywhere.

Waiter: Did they make Donald Trump use a magic marker, too?

(Touché.)

-End-

Rant on.

Article About The Big Short Is Short

credit cards

The good thing is, I read the book. The bad thing is, I’m still waiting for someone to address the unspoken reality of where the world is today regarding banking and finance and, of course, the (unending) great recession. The thing that gets me is that every time I read something about The Big Short (movie) or the problems of the banking industry I have to smirk and giggle. I cannot believe that no one has written about what’s really going on. Ok. Ok. I’m sure the book as been written. Hopefully someday I’ll find it. Until then I can only go with what I’ve got–as pretentious as that may be. With that in mind, I’ll assume the movie version of The Big Short is at least as accurate as the book. Based on that, here’s a summary of the ship we’re all aboard.

  • Banking is in full collusion with government.
  • Compensation of bankers is no different than hush-money.
  • What’s behind the revolving door between the SEC and bank board rooms should be as scary as the threat of nuclear war or terrorism.

The lack of action on the part of politicians should be an indication of how deeply embedded the problem really is. But, I suppose, in the end it doesn’t matter if someone writes the right book which then can be made into a movie by bored, rich actors so as to give them (and their lives) a feeling of worth and value. (Just have a look at who produced The Big Short.) The simple fact remains: the ship has sailed and the only destination available for it is tragedy. Some might even say that we’ve long since landed on tragedy. But I don’t think that’s the case. Tragedy is out there but it’s still far off as the world enjoys its love-boat. Indeed. The world and the crisis we are in is simply not bad enough to make anything happen that could force a correction. The idear of a forced correction alone is worth writing a book about. Seriously. A phoenix can’t rise if the whole shebang hasn’t burnt to ash. Or? Oh well. As usual, I’m off subject.

The article below is a winded one. I mean, it’s really, really long. And you know what it says? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But it also says a lot of nothing. And as I read through it I couldn’t help–between all the snickers and giggles–to keep whispering out loud: boy am I happy that I don’t have a thing vested in this system. I also would whisper: man, all those people vested in this system are fucked. Because of the carnal aspect of what’s going on these days, it’s not possible for something to come about that could/would correct the dead ship to tragedy we’re riding. The reality is this: everything being done by government and banks is for the sole purpose of keeping the ship afloat–not changing its direction. And get this: a change in direction would mean a change in those aboard. And so. When ever I come across an article like the one below I hope to come across at least a minor mention of where change could begin. But, as usual, I’m always disappointed.

Rant on. -Tommi

Link that motivated this post:

Intercourse Anew Or How I See Mechanics Old

intercourse anew

A pic I took recently. Notice how the machine is perfectly aligned. (Short pause. Blink.) Except for the camera that reflects my mind. (No pause.) There are gears that intertwine. Perfectly they glide, common yet far and wide. If I had to I’d say, admit, where this pic comes from… This is the image that a white haired German gave me once. It is the image of his “tool”. Or maybe not. It could also be the image of his dinner table when extended before the middle plates are inserted. But I digress. I met that old f’n German just after the Berlin wall fell. And do you know what he told me? He told me tails of spending luxury nights in an Oklahoma prison camp in 1946 just after losing (the war) because Rommel gave up. And just before Rommel gave up he gave his troops some advice. Rommel said that the problem the western world is going to have is that it totally misunderstands intercourse. “Fucking!” he yelled with his twisted German accent to a bunch of German soldiers about to answer their fate to British troops. (So I guess he was giving them English lessons.) And then he continued: Everybody in the west these days thinks that the origin of it all comes out of what penetrates, what interjects, what collides and goes boom–disenfranchising that which is not wanted, that which is not profitable. But big bangs are nothing more than jokes that fail. And I tell these jokes that fail even before they are brought to paper or the microphone or the one attempting to rule the world. But. At least. None of that matters. Or. Nomatter. The image above, brought to you by a dead desert fox represents more than gears and tears. It represent the image of what should/could be: LOVE. Yes. What should/could be. And for those who wish to counter/dispute this claim (of mine and the old desert fox that taunted/taught it to me), all I can say is this: NO; I don’t publish pornography on this site so I can’t post a pic of what intercourse is to the many. Rant on. -tommi