Pseudo-Review #5: R&M Charger GX 4000km

bike review 4000km_4
Trees falling like crazy ’round here. Storms, über-wet ground, and, perhaps, top heavy Germans.

Pseudo-Reviews begin here.

It’s been a long cold wet winter, dear worst-rider. No. Seriously. The weather has been so dismal the past few months here in the Germania tribe of #eurowasteland that I’ve barely ridden the R&M. Although I’ve been living in the old country for well over twenty-five years now, this past winter season has been extreme when it comes to all things wet and cold. That in and of itself is worth worst-writing about (or am I already doing that on this worst-blog?) Nomatter. Speaking of weather…

I was in The Homeland recently… Can you believe you can call it that now? But perhaps they shouldn’t stop there. Perhaps they should/could call it Orwell’s Homeland. But I digress.

I was in The Homeland last October for a wonderful visit. Spent some beautiful days in Baltimore. That’s right, dear worst-rider. When the police aren’t shooting people and when the automatons aren’t walking around like Zombies, and when the f’n sun shines like there’s no tomorrow, Baltimore is actually a great little city to hang around for a few days. This particular visit left me with the impression that October weather in Baltimore is the best weather in the world. Add to that the fact that once I stepped foot back in the old country, about two weeks after my Homeland visit, it started to rain and didn’t stop until yesterday. I kid you not!

I’ve experienced wet and cold weather living in this part of #eurowasteland. But in my twenty-five years I can’t remember it being this bad. I’m kinda ashamed I didn’t do more worst-riding for the past few months. But I’ve set my riding weather limits to seven degrees celsius and trees being uprooted due to flooding ground water. Yea, limits. (See pic above.)

bike review 4000km_3
Shelf space for bike stuff. I’m actually regretting have bought two knob tires (tyres); I’m probably gonna go with more street oriented tires after current set wears out.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think this break from the R&M has done me some good. It’s aloud me to readjust my e-bike senses. That is, getting back on the bike after only sporadic use during the past three or four months has allowed me to re-orient myself with it. Not only that but while it’s been in my basement turning a year old I’ve finally started fiddling with its parts. For example, for the first time I adjusted the air shocks–even though I’m not quit sure how-to do it. I also re-adjusted my thud buster seat going back to the middle rubber mount from the highest (hardest) setting. I also have a new rear tire, although that wasn’t my fiddling. And the Bosch system was updated. So let’s go there first, shall we.

Just after returning to the old country last October–in fact, the day I arrived–I was also scheduled to bring my R&M in for a check-up and frame replacement. As pointed out in this pseudo-review, the dealer delivered my R&M with paint damage on the frame.  If I hadn’t insisted on having the damage repaired I’m sure that the dealer–and perhaps R&M???–would have gladly let the damage slide at my cost. I say that because, 1) I had to wait something like eight months for the frame and 2) after the dealer finally replaced it and I picked up the bike, they said/claimed the following:

“You know, we replaced that frame, which would normally have cost around five hundred or so in labour, for nothing.”

My response: Whaaaaaaaaa?

I don’t know about your experience with customer service, dear worst-rider, but such a comment is common-place here in #eurowasteland, especially in certain parts of Germany where people really do believe they $hit roses. But enough of my worst-writing vulgarities and limited intellect as a somewhat disappointed high-end e-bike consumer.

So. During this money grubbing check-up my frame was replaced. They also replaced both rear brake pads, which I questioned (more on that in a sec). I also had them install a new rear tire even though it could have probably gone a few hundred kilometres more–but that was my choice. I was thinking at the time that I’d kill two birds (with one stone) and  bought a second tire (see pic above where said tire is neatly folded and waiting). I’m now thinking that was an error on account I’m almost sure I want to go with more street oriented tires in the future. Maybe more on that later. They also updated my Bosch system with the new eMTB riding mode. Let me say this about eMTB:

Whoop-di-fcuking do!

In fact, I might even ask the dealer (it’ll be a new dealer by then) if I can return my Bosch system back to the old riding modes. With four modes of riding, I really don’t see the reasoning behind eMTB, which seems to only combine the top three levels of riding. In fact, the other day while going up a short but very steep hill using eMTB the motor kicked a bit too hard and caused a wheelie. To prevent a backward flip I had to jump off the pedals. Indeed. Unwanted wheelies during steep ascensions… I’m gettin’ too old for that $hit.

bike review 4000km_2
There’s an owner’s manual for a lot of Suntour forks here, just not for mine.

As far as the brake pad replacement goes, there is a problem with the rear brake calliper on my R&M. In my opinion, the frame mounts are not properly aligned for this calliper setup. The brake pad that is on the outside of the disk is always rubbing. I know this because the rear wheel never spins freely. Although there is a way to adjust the position of the calliper on the frame mounts, it can’t be moved enough to one side to prevent the rubbing on one of the pads. Once I get a new dealer, I’ll be addressing this issue. Otherwise I’ll be replacing pads mostly because of this unnecessary rubbing.

Actually I don’t have anything more to say about the tires on this bike. I love them. So I might just go one more set and then go to street tires. I don’t know. I’m confused about tires.

The front forks have no manual.

The pic above is a screenshot of the CD that was delivered with this bike that is supposed to contain an owner’s manual for my forks. The only problem is, there is no manual. The good news is that my bike was delivered with a cute little air pump specific to these forks. This is helpful because they are springless air forks. If, by accident, you let out all the air–which I did–you’ll need this pump to get going again. Either that or you’ll have to ride home with useless, impotent front forks. (Sounds worst-rider erotic, eh!) And there is one other problem. Because there is no user manual for the forks, how much pressure can I put in them? Since I fiddled around with air forks back in the day when I was a real-man motorcyclist–as opposed to a wuss on an e-bike–I figured I could fill the forks till they don’t move anymore, which I think was around 150psi. Right now I’m running something like a 100psi and they’re still a bit hard. Or is it 10psi? Who the fcuk cares. And you know what they say about hard (forks) and men in their fifties, right? Ok. Enough.

bike review 4000km_1
R&M heaven or how they look after turning a year old.

Btw, my better-half’s R&M Mixte is definitely gonna skip the eMTB Bosch update. The main reason is because the update seems to be just another gouging mechanism for dealers. You see, Bosch doesn’t charge for the update. But dealers do. Go figure. Also. The Mixte is mostly used on roads, so it really doesn’t need eMTB.

In the last few days I’ve been able to go on longer rides with my GX, even though off-road is still very very wet–in fact so wet that even my extra wide tires sink a bit much for my taste. We’re planning a new tour up on the Baltic Sea at the end of May, though. We’re looking at about ten days of riding and maybe 1500km along the German north coast not far from Poland. Looking forward to it.

Oh. As far as battery life goes… I’m gonna have to worst-write something about that (again) soon. Reason? During the first 2000km I could go 30km before the first notch on the battery gauge would disappear. Now I can barely go 15km. After questioning a dealer about this he said that as soon as it gets warmer I should have all the power back. I’m skeptical. Even though the Bosch e-bike motor is great and I trust the Germans engineered it well and Hungarians put it together well, the battery–or the batteries–is a different story. Indeed. Batteries are the weak link here. But I digress.

Good riding, baby.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo-Review: The Shape Of Water Not Unlike My Desire Of The Her Of All Fish

shape of water

Returned from The Homeland last Monday. It was a horrible trip. It was horrible because, of the two weeks I was there, after doing some yard work for my Mom, I contracted a pretty bad skin ailment from poison ivy. In fact, as I worst-write this, two weeks after returning, I’m still itching. (But it is getting better.)

I arrived Sunday late afternoon in The Homeland (can you believe there is a govt. agency called that) and drove three hours south along the Atlantic coast till I reached my widowed mother. As usual she was glad to see me. As usual I was glad to see her. But more important I was glad to provide her with a bit of companionship. My mother is not only getting old but after the death of her husband a few years back, she’s now quite the lonely soul. After an evening’s nightcap and a few shared thoughts on our lives spanning an ocean, my first night of sleep in my mother’s house was preoccupied with a damn film I had seen on LH426 to PHL only few hours earlier.

Say what you will, dear worst-reader, about movies shown on the limited space of tiny flat screens on the back of airline seats. And, like audio and music, I’ve learned to cope with all things cheap when it comes to consuming media. Put another way, I don’t mind if I’m seeing or hearing a piece of art that was meant for the big screen on a krappy little screen, including krappy audio. I’ve learned up to this point in life that in the arts, especially the art of story telling, presentation can take a back seat–if and when it must. In this case, the film “The Shape of Water” got my full attention during the flight and thereafter–even while shown on a really krappy screen. In fact, I couldn’t help but preoccupy my mind with the movie while battling the discomforts afforded us all as we travel in/with an industry run by college grad automatons who obviously can’t manage their way out of wet paper bags–which is more proof why not only the airline industry but #Americant is in a perpetual state of bankruptcy. But then again, that’s why I almost never fly US carriers. Go figure.

That’s right, dear worst-reader. The airline industry… Or better put: the human cattle transport industry hasn’t changed in the quarter century I’ve been using it to cross the Atlantic while living as a miserable expat. So when a two hour film can captivate me and take my mind away from $hitty service, $hitty seats, rattling fuselages and stinking compatriots stuck in the same coach-class hell, I’m all for it. And that’s the ticket of these friendly skies, ain’t it?

The Shape of Water is the best film I’ve seen in years. It’s also the first film I’ve seen in years that I think deserves an Oscar–which it won a few days before my trip. In fact, like so many others and just like with so many things that were once about achievement in the arts, this was the first film in a while I thought even deserved to be up for any kind of formal recognition. That’s how bad movies have become in this age of breaking billion dollar box office records with perverted sci-fi and action genre krapp galore! And if I put some effort into it, the only winner of an Oscar that comes to my worst-mind in the last twenty years is Charlize Theron for the film Monster. Now. Monster, the movie, actually sucked. But Theron’s acting was f’n brilliant.

A little side pseudo-review. Although I focused my mind mostly on having seen The Shape of Water, I did skip through Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde while my flight was on final approach to PHL. What a $hitty, unoriginal, boring movie. No different than James Bond, Jason Bourne, Austin Powers, etc. OYG. Hollywood can’t get it’s mojo back even when regurgitating a film albeit with a hot blonde in the fighting lead. Oh well.

Back to one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

Considering what Hollywood has done to movies in my life time, I think that movie making needs to be (finally) turned back over to creative people again. That’s right, dear worst-reader. I am assuming that movie making once belonged to creative people. What has brought Hollywood to where it is today, I won’t attempt to worst-write about here. It’s just that, well, Guillermo del Toro has to be the most creative person in Hollywood in decades. Seriously. Did you see Pan’s Labyrinth? If not, see it now. Unless, of course, you’re anti-creativity and stuck on stupid comic book characters with capes and masks and platitudes. Anyhoo. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is piece of work that makes the likes of Spielberg, Cameroon, and whatever blockbuster action move director you can name, look like what they are: $hit! My hat is off and I bow deeply to creativity and Guillermo del Toro for this film.

That said, spoiler alert.

  1. The Shape of Water has its problems. The fish-man, for example. I dug out an old DVD of Hellboy the other night to compare fish-men. It is uncanny how the two fish-men are the same. Did Guillermo del Toro borrow the actor, the character, the costume? If so, does that detract from Guillermo del Toro’s story? Fcuk no.
  2. I knew at the beginning of The Shape of Water and the introduction of the female lead that those marks on her neck would end up being gills. To me that was the weakest part of the film and something I wish could have been expanded on. But forgivable.
  3. The moment where the archetypal #Americant conservative patriarch who is scared of his own shadow and is given sex by his submissive wife after she pulls her tit out as an offering when the kids finally go to school doesn’t work for me. It’s not how #Americant and its transaction-wives function in their relations. Trust me. I’m #Americant. I know what I’m talking about. Instead. I would have preferred Guillermo del Toro done the scene with the wife whipping out her Saturday night special but only after dipping it in her grab-them-by-the-pu$$y first and then teasing his lips and nose with it. For whatever reason, Guillermo del Toro decided to provide a more human and feminine form of what it is that makes the transaction of marriage sacred in a/the land of free-to-be-stupid. But then again, when it comes to marriage transactions, #eurowasteland ain’t no better. But I digress.

There are so many small issues I have with this film, I’ll not worst-write them all here. Reason? No need to. The movie is just good. Real good. And that’s all that matters. Instead, I’ll go back to my expat cubby-hole and continue the expat dream of living a life like any screwed-up archetypal patriarch should live. Alone and only available to fantasise about how things could be if only a God could be found in a swamp in South America that could/should save us all from ourselves.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo Review: Audio On The Cheap, Refurbised Used Speakers, Raspberry Pi HifiBerry Galore And Happy As A Pig In…

First pseudo-review of this sort of stuff here.

Been fiddling around with audio for a few years now. About a decade ago, well into my forties, I made the mistake of purchasing a surround sound system. It was some ginormous thirty-pound, seven channel, only God knows how to setup system and after a few years the only thing I got out of it was hate. I hated having to run some fancy automated sound test with a microphone to set up the speakers. Once setup I never had the feeling that the super fancy microphone that came with it even did the right job. I hated the crossover between the speakers and the amp, especially when it came to the seven-hundred watt subwoofer that I had attached to it. And don’t get me started on the hate I have for audio encoding whether multichannel, DTS, Dolby, HD, blah, blah, blah. All in all, I was glad to finally get rid of that thing, practically giving it away after only three people bid on it. The one thing I did get out of dealing with that krapp for a few years: I love stereo. I missed plain old fashion music coming out of two speakers. Indeed. Listening to great audio doesn’t have to be a big deal–and it doesn’t have to be expensive either.

Although there was a bit of a struggle for a short while regarding whether or not my future listening needs would be analog or digital, I quickly came to realise that I didn’t care about either. The only thing I was sure about was that I no longer wanted multi-channel and I don’t want to use headphones. That’s right. There’s only one other type of sound I hate more than multi-channel sound. I hate listening to music through headphones. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that headphone don’t sound great. I’ve heard them here or there. Some of them are mind-blowing. It’s just that the immediate connection between ear and source has always bothered me. There’s just something wrong with having my ear-drums so close to the source. I mean, when I’m at a concert I don’t put my ear up to the stage or even the amps. But there’s no reason to nitpick. I get it why some Das Volk love headphones. As far as I’m concerned, more power to y’all!

Btw, when I say analog or digital I’m referring mostly to amplification and media storage. With that in mind, I did side with the digital world even though I discarded my ageing CD player when I got rid of my multi-channel AV system. I consider myself digital because, well, I’m not getting a vinyl player or going back to cassettes anytime soon. And so… As long as I can rip CDs or download purchased music, I have no need for physical or analog media. (Wow. I hope I’ve gotten that right!) On the other hand, I haven’t bought any new music in years. Seriously. In the last five or so years, I think I’ve purchased three albums on Amazon. Otherwise, my music collection is basically ripped new, used, traded CDs from when I was young. The music is served with Plex and sometimes (my wife) iTunes.

Almost a speaker review.

This worst-post, i.e. this pseudo-review, is supposed to be about having purchased a set of Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones speakers–but it’s also about having achieved my dream audio system… ON THE F’N CHEAP. According to the Interwebnets, the BS22’s are some of the best speakers you can buy for the least amount of money. And the Interwebnets ain’t wrong! The only problem with these speakers is they are not for sale in Europe. And I didn’t want to have them sent to The Old Country thereby taxing the heck out of ’em. After all these years of living in Germania and having to deal with import taxes, customs, etc, I never order anything from abroad anymore. It’s just a hassle galore, don’t you know. Since I frequently travel to The Homeland…

Full stop. Can you believe the US has a government agency named Homeland? I mean, Orwell anyone?

After reading about these speakers and their specs, measurments, etc., I thought I could easily transport them back to The Old Country on a return flight. And guess what? It was easy-peesy to do just that. I made sure I traveled with the largest suitcase I own, though, because these speakers are a bit bigger than I thought–especially when you first see the box they are delivered in. But after opening them, giving them a feel and hug, I realised discarding the original packaging and getting them in my luggage wrapped in the cushion of my dirty underwear and rotting socks, they should be fine. In fact, other than a very slight dent in the fake wood vinyl covering on one of the speaker’s edges that is barely noticeable, they made it without a scratch. Needless to say I was tickled to hear them for the first time when I got back to my expat home. That’s right, dear worst-reader. I had no way to test them in the US. But hey. For a set of refurbished speakers from you-know-who online, what the hell.

Speakers in use by worst-writer.

  • B&W 305 towers – I’ve had them for about ten years. Althoug I probably should, I can’t get rid of them. In the right room with a decent amp and when properly placed in front of me while I sit in a comfy chair with cup of tea, they are magnificant low-cost, entry-way audiophile speakers. I think I paid €250 for them used. Until I get the right room for them, they’re mostly in the basement and unused due to wife-approval issues.
  • Bose Companion 20 – Although I’m not a fan of most of Bose’s stuff on account of their arbitrary (i.e., Apple-like) product over-pricing, I got these powered speakers as a gift a long time ago. They really are very good if/when connected via audio-jack to a laptop and used on a desk–or used as ersatz TV speakers.
  • Audioengine P4 – I bought them via you-know-who warehouse deal at almost half-price which saved me from having to get a sound-bar or using the Bose speakers to replace krappy TV speakers. They are powered with a SMSL Q5 Pro mini amp and a standard, old fashion audio-jack from the TV to the amp, which lets my wife control volume using the TV’s remote. The TV gets audio via HDMI from a second Raspberry PI (model 3) w/ RasPlex and/or an AppleTV(3). These are fantastic speakers–but NOT worth their full retail price!

The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR speakers are cheap. I paid $90 for them plus tax. For that kind of money they are twice as good as the Audioengine P4’s and are a tick better than my ageing B&W 305s towers. I even have the feeling that the little Pioneers are better at bass than the much taller, beefier B&Ws that have six inch woofers. But then again, I’m not a bass fan.

As you can see in the pic above, the BS22’s are attached to a TEAC A-H01 amp. The amp drives the speakers beautifully no matter what the source. In my case I use either USB (PC), fibre-optic (Apple TV) or analog cinch (Pi). Which brings me to the other magic of this low cost audio system. Although the TEAC does have a USB DAC and I can easly attache my MacBook to it, my main audio delivery system is a Raspberry Pi (model 2 B) and a HifiBerry DAC+Pro with analog cinch cables streaming via Ethernet from a Plex server.

I stream music from a Plex server in my basement via ethernet. After sorting out the power needs of the Pi–problem solved with a dedicated 5v 3amp micro USB power source–these new speakers have given me a feeling of closer for this system. Although I have plans of fiddling more with HifiBerry’s and cheap Class-T amps in the future, this setup in my work room (also my main listening room) is now my audio galore dream come true.

Total cost of work-room audio system dream come true for a small office or bedroom.

  • TEAC A-H01: €300 (warehouse deal; no longer available)
  • BS22 speakers: €100 (warehouse deal; available cheaper in the US if/when on sale)
  • Raspberry Pi 2 B: €60 (including micro-SD card, dedicated micro USB power, steel case)
  • Hifiberry Dac+Pro: €45
  • Cables: €50
  • Plex Media Server, RasPlex client: free!

And so… Listen closely to Miles’ lips on that trumpet.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo Book Review Of “Fire And Fury” Or If Only There Was More Space Between The Lines

scary author pic
Are you serious with this pic on the back of your book, Mr. Wolff? (Taken with iPhone6s directly off back cover.)

Books with scary pictures of authors on inner or back covers should be avoided at all costs. I suppose that goes for worst-writers, too. At least that’s what I used to tell myself–about real writers that actually get paid to write stuff. With that in mind, hats off to you Mr. Wolff. Which brings me to this worst-question: did Michael Wolff pick the pic (above) for the back cover or did some corpo automaton pick it for him? Answer: Nomatter.

Just don’t let you kids near this guy–or President Stupid.

And by-the-buy, I didn’t buy this book. Never in my wildest thoughts did I ever seriously consider even going near this book. What can one read about President Stupid that one hasn’t already had stuffed down his/her throat with gulps of desperation? Either that or one can just watch some moronic TV, preferably WWE or reality-tv, and one can be just as informed. And that’s not all. One can also watch redneck, white trash #americant. Indeed. Watch it or read it. For between the lines of this book might just be a chronicle of the end of the beginning… Or is it the beginning of the end? Nomatter. At the least Wolff is a damn good writer.

I mean, he can spell and he knows how to use some big words. Or maybe not.

Kudos to my son for gifting me this book for my birthday. It’s his thing, don’t you know. I mean, gifting books during gifting season. As best as I can tell he’s mostly only gifted me, his stepmom and his mother, books. Wait. He gifted some bath oil to my better-half recently. So I could be wrong. Jeez. He’s twenty now. I don’t really know what he’s up to anymore anyway, what his motivations are, youthful prodigy confusion, etc. Yet he gave me a book that he should be reading. Yes. This book is for the youth of tomorrow. For those who would see how things shouldn’t be. Oh my. Confusion. Ditto. Confusion.

Let me begin this pseudo-review with some outtakes.

  • Chapter 20 (about The Mooch): “He had paid as much as half a million dollars to have his firm’s logo appear in the movie Wall Street 2 and to buy himself a cameo part in the film.”
  • Chapter 19(a): “Donald Trump’s sons existed in an enforced infantile relationship to their father, a role that embarrassed them, but one that they also professionally embraced. The role was to be Trump’s heirs and attendees. Their father took some regular pleasure in pointing out that they were in the back of the room when God handed out brains. Their sister Invanka, certainly no native genius, was the designated family smart person, her husband Jared the family’s smooth operator.”
  • Chapter 19(b): “The real swamp is the swamp of insular, inbred, incestuous interests (of Washington DC).”
  • Chapter 16: “In presidential annals, the firing of FBI director James Comey may be the most consequential move ever made by a modern president acting entirely on his own.”
  • Chapter 13: “The world of the rich is, in its fashion, self regulating. Social climbing has rules.”
  • Chapter 8: “It became almost immediately clear that the common purpose of the campaign and the urgency of the transition were lost as soon as the Trump team stepped into the White House. They had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him–or at least through him and almost solely for his purposes. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy, nor a team that could reasonably unite behind him.”
  • Chapter 7 (on how money laundering works): “One way the process can work is, roughly speaking, as follows: an oligarch makes an investment in a more or less legitimate third-party investment fund, which, quid pro quo, makes an investment in Trump.”

Chapter 7 is a particularly interesting chapter. It contains five theories on Trump’s Russia collusion which is, probably, the most significant aspect of Trump–other than his regime increasing the US debt to new highs. Of course, dear worst-reader, I read the book in February 2018. The book doesn’t really contain anything new as its content pretty-much ends around the fall of 2017. With that in mind, it does feel like the book is the script from which all news is being reported now. Yet some of it kept me almost enthralled.

This book is, at best, a well chronicled history of the first six months to a year of President Stupid and more importantly President Stupid’s… Trump-ism. If you are anti-Trump then you can easily stomach this book. If you’re pro-Trump this book doesn’t matter because, well, like Trump, you probably don’t read anyway. Also, Wolff does a good job of hiding his biases in this book. Yet when one watches him try to sell it on tv or when he appears on the Interwebnets, it might not be so obvious if he is anti-Trump. Oh how the appearance of being objective might help sales. Except, of course, for the child molesting pic he put on the back cover of this book.

Anywho.

Even though I did find myself struggling through chapters here and there, skipping huge parts of Wolff’s attempt at making something interesting that obviously isn’t, I’d recommend this book. Reason? Trump is literally a projection of not just a weak, spoiled mind, but also of an America that is just as rotten. I mean, come on. How else could such a person get elected? And I’m not sure that was Wolff’s intention. This is certainly no prize-redeeming piece of work. Indeed. Wolff has done nothing more than chronicle a huge $hitshow. And he’s done it fairly well.

Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

-T

Hey Comrade! My School Of Greed Is Gonna Kick Your School Of Greed’s A$$

capitalism crisis deepens richard wolff

In order to cope with the two Ms (monotony & mendacity) of growing up in Suburban Hell of my beloved #Americant, I participated–at the duress of my broken family–in two organised sport activities. One of those activities was tennis. And, if I recall correctly, I was actually ranked within the top-100 players of my state during the tennis season of which I participated. Of course, let it be known, I couldn’t serve worth a hoot. Yet I was “ranked”. Yea, that says a lot about organised sports back then–long before the inheriting, under-achieving classes came to be what they’ve become and thereby given us #Trump. But I digress.

The second sport I participated in was Football. And I don’t mean football of the round ball kind. I played American football–where the ball is the proper shape. The reason for the shape? When that ball flies through the air it is either a bullet or a duck–and you better know what you’re doing when it comes your way. And so… There is clarity in (some) sports, dear worst-reader. That clarity is in how a ball can fly like a bullet through the sky.

Although I did participate in a few other sports here and there, e.g., lacrosse, baseball, wrestling, fencing and girls, football is the one that stands out the most in my worst-memory. Ask me if I regret wasting my time on it, I do. Then again, the sport did teach me a bit about participating with others in a so-called “team”. It really is a shame how my beloved #Americant (sport) and her cult of the entrepreneur (the team) have warped the idear of the game in recent years. “Team” for me had a different meaning once. That was the only thing worthwhile about playing football. No a total waste, that is.

Now get this: I learned a few other things while playing American football. For example, my coach used to tell us when we were doing the cardio portion of our daily practice–and we watched those soccer guys in the field next to us run like gazelles all day–that soccer is a game for communists. Can you believe that, dear worst-reader? Here’s how you teach youngsters–back in the day:

Whaaaa’ da heel kaind ah spo’art is it anywho if’n you caint use yer damn hands? It’s a communist spo’art, I tail yee. Dats zackly wha’ it eezz. Damn darn communists! -My Coach

My coach added something about balls shouldn’t be perfectly round anyway. “Nothing is perfect. Check your own,” he said. Of course, being the prepubescent worst-writer I was, during the last two years of wasting mind and body playing football, I actually believed that soccer players were communists. Heck, when I approached some of the guys on the soccer team, I would even ask them:

Say, Comrade, hoist any sickle and spades lately?

But. Again. I digress.

All this worst-talk about communists brings me to my latest read. It is a book by Comrade Richard Wolff. Comrade Wolff is a “professor of economics”. Comrade Wolff has a somewhat interesting presence on the Interwebnets, too. Much of his work can be found at http://www.democracyatwork.info and he even has a monthly podcast called Economics Update where he talks about all things-worst (man to occupy my heart) in this world of capitalism run amok.

At first I didn’t think much about reading this book. There was/is enough of/from Comrade Wolff online already. But then something he said itched me. That itch was Wolff’s academic POV of all-things economic. Better put, he writes and talks a lot about economics as though… Now hold a sec. Get ready for it. Sit down if you got a weak ticker.

Comrade Wolff talks about economics as if it is science.

Now. Did you get that? Let me repeat it just in case, dear worst-reader. According to worst-writer, economics ain’t no science. Instead it is (should be) an academic field within The Arts. But let’s not get too far off the issue of what itches me.

There is one topic that Comrade Wolff keeps comping back to over and over: He is obsessed with the pseudo economic science of Greece and Germania. That’s the real reason I broke down and bought this book. It’s also the reason I read it over a two month period. It’s not that it is hard to read. It is. It’s just that it is boring, too. Boring as boring can be. Boring as wrongly placed academia can be. But then again, so too are all things that try to be scientific that should instead be artsy. And guess what happened after I finally finished the book? Comrade Wolff’s obsession with Greece and Germania is still a mystery to me. Gosh darn it! I hate it when I pick the wrong friggin book!

Allow me to summarise my issue (itch) with Comrade Wolff’s obsession. Comrade Wolff says that Germania is a locomotive. He also says that Greece is a caboose. In case you’re unaware, the caboose is at the back of a choo-choo-train. A caboose is a special, single car that in olden times served as a kind of housing facility for those who worked on the train as it crossed landscapes. And so… Germania is the front of the train and Greece… Well, ok, you get the metaphor.

Btw, if you were to ask me why I expatriated to the EU my third1 most important reason for doing so would be because of the fascination of witnessing the catastrophe that is an effort to unite something that should never be united as though it were a train crossing some heartily confused landscape. Either that or I am a freak for Schadenfreude?

In #Eurowasteland where the choo-choo-train metaphor can only go so far, that which determines everything… Is the fcuking caboose. -worst-moi after living in this Euro shithole for the last 25 yrs.

Now wait a sec. Comrade Wolff says it another way. Here, try this (pseudo-paraphrase):

The #Eurowasteland caboose is literally a fcuk machine that rides the train. The train is made up of voyeur, perverted nation-states that like gawking at the fcuk-car from the back. And who’s the biggest voyeur of them all? That’s right…

Fcuking Germans!

In his podcast Economic Update I’ve listened to Comrade Wolff lambast the Germans because Greece is an economic disaster. That is, Greece is a disaster, according to Wolff, because of the Germans. IMHO, Comrade Wolff is wrong. Greece’s problems have nothing to do with Germans. Greece has problems because of Greeks. Comrade Wolff likes to focus on banks and bankers and how they take advantage of European pions–all of which is lead by dastardly Germans.

Whaaaaaa?

Worst-writer’s explanation of the Greece problem is much simpler–and much clearer. To paraphrase the great oral tradition now being propagated by #Americants in the form of #Trump: Europe is a shithole and it’s full of shiteaters.

That’s Greece’s problem.

In order to understand Greece and thereby the entirety of #Eurowasteland, aka, Greedland, all one has to do is look at what Europe has given the world. From the Bronze Age to the Renaissance and beyond, we can all thank Europe for mass, systematic, unadulterated greed. Luckily, in recent times, there has been something done to try and mitigate this great gift.

Since WW2 (or maybe it was WW1–who the fcuk is counting?) Europe’s gift to the world has been split into two schools of thought. There is the Anglo-American school (of greed) and there is the Germanic school (of greed). If one looks at the social and political structures of the various confused nations that make up Greedland–from locomotives to the cabooses–it’s easy differentiating between these two schools of greed. It’s also easy to figure out who’s the bigger or biggest Schadenfreud-ist.

Let’s summarise, shall we?

Greece is, out of choice, part of the Anglo-American school (of greed). It is failing miserably as a nation-state because of this choices. Therefore it doesn’t matter if Greece were in the EU, off the coast of the UK or stuck somewhere between Alabama and Montana. Because of its choices, Greece is where it is today. More importantly it doesn’t matter who or what state bank leant money to whom. Greece would be where it is no matter where it was at the end of any train–considering how it has traversed the landscape. Btw, most of southern Europe is failing in the same way as Greece. Those countries too have chosen the Anglo-American greed $hitshow. Which begs the question: Is there enough space at the end of the shit-train for all these fcuking cabooses?

And now for the other school of greed.

Pause. Oh God. Brace Yourself. Here it comes.

Those fcuking Krauts.

The Germania school of greed is not about Germans of old. Can you imagine how things would be if they still wore those stupid, pointy helmets and everybody was named Gunter Leckmichamarsch? No. We’re dealing with new Germans here. And these new Germans got a few things up their slimy sleeves, don’t you know. That’s right. The slime is the one thing that was never defeated in any of those dumba$$ wars, don’t you know. In fact, most of northern Europe likes the slime that is in the German sleeve. Hence northern stoic Europe, compared to the lazy south, is doing just fine. With that in mind, what’s your favourite school of greed?

One shouldn’t look at the caboose to see how the $hitshow train is running. Also, Greece is too minuscule to use as an example of the failures of capitalism. The fact that old Greeks have hoarded everything and thereby practically choked the country to death doesn’t make it an example of what or what not to do. It might just be better (easier) to focus more on human nature–which transcends all of the above–even Comrade Wolff. Again: economics is not science.

Then again, Greece is a good example for something else. Capitalism is nature’s best system for dealing with greed. For Comrade Wolff and so many others like him, everything is easier to decipher when lumped together and thrown into one basket. I guess that’s why I prefer artsy over science (science being the basket). Even though I can sympathise with some of Comrade Wolff’s ranting and raving against capitalism–for I’ve given Marx’s Das Capital a glance or three–he doesn’t really offer any viable alternative other than what all others offer: scapegoating.

Anywho. As usual, I’m off subject. This was supposed to be a quick worst-post about Comrade Wolff’s book:

Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown.

Wanting to understand Comrade Wolff’s POV regarding Greece was the reason I decided to give this book a read. (Un)fortunately this book only substantiates my belief that economics is a pseudo-science.

And so…

Is there an alternatives to the greed $hitshow (capitalism) we’re all living in today? If so, it’s not in this collection of essays. And. NO! Coops and workers taking over the system isn’t an alternative–which is mostly what Comrade Wolff proposes. If, on the other hand, you’re still kind of suffering from the duck-and-cover trauma of the 60s and 70s and hard-up on avoiding all things communist, then you don’t need to read this book. With that in mind, I’m gonna continue checking the Interwebnets for whatever Comrade Wolff has to offer. Who knows. If he keeps at it, he might figure out an alternative someday.

Good luck with that, Comrades.

Rant on.

-T


  1. I’m sure the first and second can be found somewhere at worstwriter.com ↩︎

When All Else Fails Just Put Some Butter On It

the founder poster

Subtitle: Pseudo-Review Of .99€ Movie Rental The Founder

Almost didn’t make it, dear worst-reader. If it would have come to pass, this would have been the second movie I rented on iTunes but never watched. Luckily I had a few days left when I hit the play button last night. By-the-buy, iTunes (Germany) gives you around 30 days to watch a movie once you hit that rent-button. Once you hit the play-button, you have forty-eight hours to watch your movie. What the other movie was that I rented but didn’t watch I can’t remember. Apple got .99€ from me all the same. But that’s all butter under the bridge. And speaking of bridges…

How does a blah-blah movie about an a$$hole end up being a mediocre film about the invention of fast-food? Oh wait. This movie isn’t about fast-food. This movie is about a shinning star of #americant business acumen. Right? (Sarcasm off.) Well, the one thing to keep in mind about this Harvey Weinstein production is, like a severe burn on the inside of your fingers, all you gotta do to help things be less excruciating is to put some butter on it. Butter makes everything better. Except in the fast food industry on account butter is too expensive to work with–almost like real milk was too expensive for Milkshakes (for a while).

The Founder is the story of how Ray Kroc screwed two guys out of a really interesting idear about how to feed a hungry nation of automatons–most of whom are only interested in not having to cook a meal. Other than avoiding the reality of showing the world how much of an a$$hole Kroc was, this movie actually spends the first twenty minutes making one feel good about the invention of fast-food. Oh, and if you’re so inclined and only have a few months left in your MBA studies at the University of Cocksuckers, this is one great film to watch if you need a case study that is about nothingness.

Although there are moments of reality regarding the a$$holery of the pyramidal franchise business which Kroc sucked up to, this movie gets lost between showing the real founders of fast-food magic and the cut throat reality of making more than a buck on someone else’s dime. So I guess, in a righteous universe where wrongs are outed, this movie could be called Watch Out For A$$holes Because You’re Living In A World Of Them. And with that in mind, here is worst-writer’s take on this movie in-short: there is no redeeming value in either the movie or what Ray Kroc achieved in his life. And if you want to know how to make a buck off subject matter with no redeeming value, ask Harvey Weinstein.

Rant on.

-T

PS The performances of the actors in this movie is outstanding. The writing though sucks batballs and the only thing that could have saved it is if worst-writer had written it.

Typing On The New MacBook, The Joy Of Butterfly

IMG_3629

I can’t feel a thing. Well, actually I feel a small click. Yes. It’s a click where there should be movement. And I’m not talking about the trackpad? Yet, so similar are these new input and control gadgets on Apple’s new MacBook. Comparatively, there is much more movement of the keys and the trackpad of my MacBook Air (MBA). And, btw, I’ve always hated chicklet keyboards. And so, Apple came up with a software solution to enhance the typing environment–just for me.

Get this.

You can, in preferences, actually turn on a clicking sound for the trackpad. Ain’t that a hoot! Of course, I don’t know if that’s cool or stupid. But I don’t really care. The software click of the trackpad corresponds perfectly to the precise click of the keyboard and its oh-so limited butterfly key travel. In fact, I’d say this new keyboard is actually louder than the old keyboard. And so, I’m thinking about the keys of the Apple USB keyboard connected to my Mac Pro 5,1. Those keys move more than the ones on my MBA. And as stated: I’m not a fan of chicklets. Yet, in my pseudo review of this MacBook, something isn’t right… when I’m not typing on it.

Here’s the confiscation run-down.

I’m not sure my wife’s 100% behind me taking her MacBook. On the other hand, I can’t stand seeing the thing just lie around. She bought this 2nd gen MacBook in the late summer of 2016 but never really used it. Why she bought it in the first place is another story. In short, it had something to do with her job and BYOD (bring your own device). It turns out that her iPad was more than enough to be her daily driver–even at work. After about six or eight months lugging both the MacBook and the iPad to work she started leaving the MacBook home. That’s when I started fiddling with it in the name of empirical study. I was curious about the device since its debut. It turns out that the performance of the M3 processor is every bit as good as the performance of the i7 processor of my 2015 MBA. Let me tell you, dear worst-reader, that was the first sign that my MBA’s days were numbered.

The complaints.

The Interwebnet is full of MacBook keyboard sucks complainers. Reviewers and users alike all have something negative to say about this new design. Complaints usually start with the price, then comes the keyboard and it all seems to culminate with the single USB-C port. To me, considering Apple’s product trajectory, which is obviously iOS centric, this MacBook only makes sense. I for one am not ready to go iOS–but I see the inevitability of the future. Trust me, I tried i0S. I had a iPad 4 for about a year. And I honestly tried to supplant my 2013 13″ MacBook Pro with it. I did not succeed. I dumped the iPad 4 for an Apple refurbished MacBook Air. (By-the-buy, that’s the only way I buy Apple hardware now.) Apple’s pro machines are too high-priced and also a bit of tech overkill for my needs. And so, my best guess is the only reason Apple still has the Air model is so they can offer it to guys like me in the $999 bracket–or even cheaper refurbished. Anywho. The new-fangled MacBook starts at three hundred bucks more than an Air–and for the life of me I don’t really know why. Despite the new design features, it feels as though you are paying way more for way less by going with the new device. A hefty hunk of change indeed.

And now for some worst-writer honesty.

If I were at an Apple Store right now I wouldn’t even look at a MacBook. That pink colour is just too f’n scary. I would go straight to the Pro line. I’m not sure how long it would take, but after a few milliseconds of witnessing the price of “pro” models, I’d be out of the store and once again walking home where I would try and catch a great deal buying from Apple’s refurbish program. There is no doubt that Apple Macs are waaaaaaay over priced. Yet, I’m stuck in the eco-system. I’m only glad that I have a choice other than full retail consumption of this krapp.  That said, here I am–by means of marital confiscation–absolutely loving the new design, including the keyboard, the single port and f’n everything else. Is it faster than my three year old Air (with i7 cpu): no. Is the screen better: yes. Is the build better: yes. Is the keyboard better: it’s definitely not worse than any chicklet keyboard. Which brings me to…

The only thing I ever learned in #americant public school was the ability to all finger type.

I probably haven’t typed anything on a mechanical typewriter in about two years. I think I might have used my Hermes Baby last year when I needed to address some envelopes. That’s right, dear worst-reader. I addressed snail mail envelopes using a typewriter instead of printing from a laser printer. The reason for that, other than romance and nostalgia mixed with bit of boredom, is not worth addressing here. What’s important is that I don’t miss typing on typewriters. It was/is time to give them up–and not because I too am becoming outdated. I have long since embraced the glorified-typewriters aka computers of today for all my writing. In fact, I was thinking about buying one of them glass cabinets and putting it in a room and filling it with Hermes, Olivetti, Olympia, Princess and Groma Kolibri–all of which are retired in a few boxes in my basement.

glass cabinet for typwriter collection

Oh yeah. The MacBook keyboard.

For the life of me I can’t understand why people complain about this keyboard. Considering that I’ve always found chicklet keyboards a bad idear, this so-called butterfly keyboard made me curious from the get-go. I can see why finger-picking typists would have a hard time with it. The keys have very little travel and even less tactile feel. For finger-pickers it must be like tapping on a glass plate–or worse: typing on an iPad (aghast). When I focus with all nine fingers*, when I soften my strokes, when I get going, I love this keyboard. The butterfly mechanism alleviates having to find the sweet spot of, say, chicklet keys–which is often the biggest problem I’ve had when using my ring finger and little finger on those keyboards. No matter what part of the key you touch on the new MacBook keyboard, it activates. It also makes it easier to find/reach shift-keys and all the other non letter keys with ring and little fingers.

Worst-Writer conclusion: the only other laptop keyboard that has ever been worth a hoot is that of the older Thinkpads. But from what I understand Lenovo, since taking over from IBM, has resorted to chicklet keys, too. As far as I can tell, getting rid of the chicklet keyboard was one of the best things Apple could do. With that in mind, you finger typists should finally learn to type.

Rant on.

-T

*Nine fingers because I use only my right thumb when typing.