when stupid people go beserk
Posted Feb 26, 2008
i've been on h2g2 for just over 3 years now. surprisingly, i have been involved in almost no conflict whatever in that time despite the admitted stridency of my opinions. this started to change about 3 months ago. since then i have had people lose it with me over topics as controversial as left hand driver mirrors, underwear choice, the storage of stews and other profoundly serious matters.
my latest outrage was in posting that the greenpeace people who committed an illegal and dangerous act at heathrow recently, were amazingly enough, doing something illegal and dangerous and not something noble and purposeful. ok, i also called greenpeace a religious cult, but i figure that any organisation that puts its people into potential lethal situations isn't entirely different to those folks in the american deep south who juggle snakes.
now it needs to be said that i take the h2g2 house rules on board and i accept that people of varying abilities will use the fora, and that one needs to be accepting of this and appropriately patient. what this really means is that some folks are as thick as bricks but don't be saying so. cool. i can live with that. but the masonry seems to be getting thicker of late. i mean seriously thick. bomb shelter thick.
the upshot of which i get a poster come over to my wonderful space and defile it with an attempt to continue his rant ex cathedra. some folks just can't let go. so i take a trip over to his space to see what type of person i am dealing with. no surprises there. most h2g2 spaces are filled, that is the ones that have much at all, with a list of friends and guide contributions. none of which tells me anything about the person. in 3 years i haven't done much space surfing on h2g2, so i thought i'd see who it was i had been posting to on the greenpeace thread.
so imagine my surprise to stumble on a thread on one of the journals devoted entirely to me! it's 30 minutes later and i'm STILL larfing.
oh the invective.
i'm not fond of americanisms, but sometime there is no substitute for 'get a life'.
Posted Feb 25, 2008
the flatpack mentality has gone too far. after assembling a bike yesterday, perhaps the 10th or so in the last few years, (i have 5 kids) i have to say i am heartily sick of it.
the first few bikes i assembled came in a box that included an allen key and a simple spanner with the requisite head sizes to put everything together. nowadays even these have been deleted. and the plastic ties they use to hold everything together in the box need a small carton knife to cut. anything larger and you risk marking the bike or cutting the tyres.
i don't blame the manufacturers for my kids offing with my tools periodically, but yesterday i found myself trolling hardware stores looking for cheap tool sets with allen keys to finish the job. amazingly, i only found this at my 4th store.
so a 15 minute job ended up taking me 2 hours.
but this is nothing to the student desks i bought recently. each one of them had several HUNDRED fasteners to attach. and required several changes in orientation which required at minimum two strong men to do safely. i should have know when the sales guy brought them on a trolley to the service desk. he snickered when i said i would be ok with them. i got to the car and realised something was wrong. they were exceptionally heavy. fortunately a passing chap helped me get them in the car. by the third pack, the suspension was sitting awfully low.
no weight listed on the boxes mind you. but i know from work i once did where i had to carry 50kg rock salt sacks, that these were well above 50kgs each. probably closer to 100kg. getting them upstairs even with trolley was a nightmare. with each step the stairs shuddered.
two of these took me the better part of the day to assemble. the third awaits the completion of redecoration in another room.
i understand flatpackery saves on labour and transport costs, so it's an ecological and economic plus. but do they really need to be so badly designed for assembly? and do they really need to omit the very tools needed to unpack and assemble them?
Posted Feb 22, 2008
i actually thought i had written this journal entry before. and i haven't. which is odd in the way thinking you have driven to work and realising you haven't is. at first you think someone has stolen your car. and even when you are on the train home you are genuinely confused about which end of the line your car might really be. and then there is a sense of injustice about it. 'why am i having to take the train?' you think. 'this isn't right.'
so that this journal entry is about universal incongruity is itself teasing. and by incongruity i mean those moments of strangeness or coincidence when you genuinely wonder about how the universe really works.
let me take you back. i had finished my studies and was working as a business consultant. i didn't like the job, but there was a recession that i had been invited to and since i wasn't doing anything else for a good amount of time, thought i had better RSVP. my studies involved for the most part a philosophy degree capped with a post grad business diploma. i had hoped for one of those jobs in buildings with lots of glass. the sort of job where you get to say things like 'hold my calls, i'll be in conference for the next 3 hours' to an attractive person wearing a black skirt and a nice blouse. instead i was working with an accountant doing quality assurance for businesses that did things like make neon advertising signs or who recycled industrial waste. i wasn't in a happy state of mind and i was pretty annoyed i had to read hegel to get there.
so getting out of the office at lunch time for a walk became a respite from work and a chance to curse my education.
it happened at the very instant i was thinking about how i could have got it all so wrong, that a bell sounded from behind. the bicyclist was an odd man. pants tucked into socks. handlebars upside down like rams' horns. clearly a nutter.
he stopped, looked me straight in the eye and said 'that paul davies wouldn't be an idiot would he? mind of god! he doesn't even know his own mind!' and rode off without waiting for a reply.
i was puzzled by the seeming coincidence of what was happening in my own private thoughts and the utterances of a passing madman.
fast forward a year or so. i am in the markets standing in front of a vast array of bread, trying to make a choice. i realise that an excess of choice doesn't make my life easier. i preferred it when i had to choose from a small selection. i am startled by a voice from behind me say, 'bread! look at all the bread. first it is good for you, then it is bad for you and then it is so good you cannot choose! and hats! men wore hats. then they didn't wear hats. now they wear hats again. life is told by the changing story of hats.'
yes. it was the nutter. and once again he does not wait for a reply.
fast forward another year. i am in the botanical gardens with my wife. i am nearly finished telling her the stories i just related. i am about to say that perhaps the man was right about hats, when, looking across the gentle slope of the lawns, i see, about 100 metres away, the very man himself.
'you aren't going to believe this' i say to my wife. 'but there he is over there.'
'you're right' she says, 'i don't believe you.'
'watch this then' i say as i realise the man has taken himself to a tangent to intersect with me. and, as the man nears, i say, 'that paul davies, doesn't even know whether to wear a hat or not. how could he possibly be trusted to buy bread?'
at this, the man froze in his tracks. i recognized his bewilderment because i had seen it from the other side twice before him. he turned and walked, almost ran, away.
and i wondered at what astonishing tale of coincidence would confound him for years forward.
indian call centre guy
Posted Feb 18, 2008
i don't have a problem with people trying to sell me things. it is after all how the world works, and i've done my share of it over the years too.
but i do get a bit annoyed by people in india calling me and inventing names for themselves. no, patrick kelly from mumbai, i don't believe that is your real name and i'm sort of insulted you think an indian name is beyond my power to understand or tolerate.
i also get annoyed by ineffective old school selling techniques. you might know the drill. ask open questions and move to progressively closed questions...overcome objections...build empathy...the sort of selling technique that assumes buyers are stupid and that any old succession of lies is ok if it moves you towards a close.
it seems these old school rascals have found a new market training call centre sales people in india.
so when i get these calls i usually end it quickly with a firm but polite, 'sorry, i am not interested' followed by an immediate disconnect.
early this evening however i decide to hear the guy out, possibly out of curiosity; perhaps because i needed a few minutes break from the kids.
the deal was some pre paid holiday packages. now this is about as useful to me as an ox and cart and i told him so. what followed was a series of questions attempting to overcome my objections by soliciting positive answers from me. subtle it was not, particularly after the 3rd time i told him that his offer was really quite useless to me.
somewhere about this point i decided telling the guy the truth wasn't going to work getting him to take 'no' for an answer. so when he asked me why my kids don't go away on holidays i told him because on weekends and holidays they work on the farm from sunrise to sunset. to his next question i replied this was for religious reasons and that as a family we valued only study and work.
it was then that things got very strange.
he was he explained, an indian. but he was working part time in australia. so yes, he was in the same country as me. ah yes, building empathy, how delightfully old school i thought. he continued... back home in india, he too had a farm. he grew bees and vegetables. 'grew bees?' i asked, somewhat marvelling at the man now. yes, he said, bees for honey. now this was good because i might have worried he was 'growing' bees for meat. double empathy. he is in australia and he was, like me, a farmer.
but wait, there's more. not only was he a farmer, but his farm was in the foothills of the himalayas. by now i am repeating the things he says and my kids have gathered at my side in amazement. yes, the himalayas, near to the compound of....the dalai lama! triple empathy: i am religious, and he is 2 degrees of separation from a holy man whom surely the entire world adores. he must have been pleased with my astonishment, because when i asked how far from the dalai lama his farm was, without breaking stride, he proudly told me...2100 metres.
i thanked him for the lovely conversation but he wasn't finished. no sale of course, but he must ask for the referral. could i give him the phone numbers of my friends and relatives so he could offer them the same deal? certainly, i said, just let me get their permission first. to which, finally, he had nothing left up his sleeve to respond with.
the ugly marriage of commerical interests and charity
Posted Feb 6, 2008
as a postscript to my journal entry on unchaste charity, one of the animal protection orgnisations mentioned in the original entry recently flew several dozen poodles from queensland to adelaide to make use of the empty kennels locally.
the reason for the sudden demand was the discovery of a professional poodle breeder who had been keeping many dogs in a cruel state.
altho that particular animal rescue society had made no false claims to me regarding their work, they are currently in the midst of an election struggle between rival factions. one which feels the legitimate function of the organisation lies in traditional animal rescue, and the other which feels its practical purpose in the future lies with monitoring commercial and industrial treatment of animals.
it is worth noting that the faction that wishes the organisation to keep its nose out of farming etc are rural members and people who have affiliations (legitimately so i hasten to add) with commercial animal husbandry in one way or another.
so my original concerns about an organisation continuing with a function that clearly no longer exists, is more than just about institutional perpetuation for the sake of jobs and itself, and bringing in money: it is also about keeping such organisations out of investigating commercial mistreatment of animals.
makes me sick.