Midweek Mayhem!!

Hello,

Good afternoon, and welcome to Midweek Mayhem, the place where we get to talk about anything and everything, now with the prospect of renewed optimism because “he is risen.”

After months of self-imposed exile, I have recently re-activated my facebook account. Thank you joni, for your immediate kind words of encouragement by the way.

To be honest, I really don’t know why I have a facebook account.

For one thing, I’m not really sure what the bloody thing does – aside from making constant demands upon one’s time and energy to keep the thing updated. “What are you thinking right now?” it demands. How the f**k should I know? I can’t even remember how I got here.

And then you get these “friend requests” from complete strangers wanting to become your friend. Either that or Facebook kindly interrupts you to suggest “so and so might make a good friend for you..” WHY? Because they’re a dysfunctional sociopathic alcoholic drug-f**ked freak?? Or worse still… a Mormon?

And then your email box gets clogged with endless facebook notifications – “so and so has just written on your wall,” “the guy down the road has commented on your status,” “the girl upstairs has left you a cigar..”

I KNOW!!!

Somehow I suspect this re-activation may be short lived.

In much the same way as a few years ago, I ended up smashing my Palm Pilot to smithereens with a sledge hammer screaming “Give Me Back My Life…!!”

Anyway, this week’s Midweek Mayhem features a Guest Post from Sharp Ross of BrisVegas…Mister Ross Sharp..!!

(Warning: this post features language that some wowsers might find offensive)

The following is a “take” on bank service fees if such fees were applied to other types of retail outlets. If you like it and think it suitable for Blogocrats, feel free to post it. Hope you all had a nice Easter break.

YOU’VE BEEN SERVED.
By Ross Sharp

One morning at the department store …

“Hello”

“…”

“Can you tell me how much this fine pair of Egyptian cotton pillowcases will cost less the discount?”

“…”

“?”

“Can you tell me how …”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“What?”

“In order for me to serve you and respond to your inquiry, I shall be needing a payment in advance of $2.50.”

“What for?”

“Service fee.”

“Service fee?”

“Yes, sir. Service fee.”

“What the f**k are you talking about, service fee?”

“Don’t cuss at me, sir, or I shall be compelled to call security which will incur a further cost to yourself for inconveniences rendered.”

“…?!”

“Sir. Many people enter this fine establishment on a daily basis. However, not everyone will make a purchase. Only a minority will do that. People come here, they mooch and mope about, they paw at the merchandise, they bother the staff with stupid questions and off they flounce leaving us with bugger all to show for our efforts. We’ve supplied them with comfortable surrounds, air-conditioning, heating, lovely carpeting and floorboards, coordinated colour schemes and absolutely spiffing displays of great artistic integrity, many of which defy the laws of physics. Not to mention a fine selection of unobtrusive tunes piped through a ridiculously expensive network of small speakers, courtesy of Bose Acoustics who, if I may say, are not exactly cheap, unlike some … If. You. Get. My. Drift. Sir. And then, there are the toilets and the people who have to clean the toilets. Toilets for people to p*ss and sh*t in, if p*ssing and sh*tting while one is shopping is something one needs to do, though why such people do not go before they come here continues to confound me. And, most of the time, they don’t even bother to lift the seat, the filthy little grommets. We do not provide these porcelain pretty things for people to just wander in off the bloody street in a bloody daze and shoot smack into their bloody eyeballs, only to lurch out again without so much as a buy or leave. That was a play on words, sir. Buy or leave. Did you get that?”

“Yes, I got th-”

“So. In order to respond to your inquiry as to the cost of the Egyptian pillowcases less the advertised discount, you must pay me a service fee of $2.50 so that I may render you some service, and we, a store that exists in order to … Make. Money … May cover the costs of providing gentle men and women such as yourself with a pleasant environment in which to shop. Or not. What-ever. Understand?”

“I’ll work it out myself then. I’m not paying two bucks fifty for the dubious privilege of being snarled at by the likes of you.”

“Ha! Work it out yourself? No. I don’t think so. You’ll pay the fee.”

“What makes you so sure, smart-a*se?”

“You’re an Australian, sir. Yes, you’ll whine and you’ll whinge and you’ll bitch and you’ll moan and you’ll carry on like a kitten in a blender. You’ll write a letter to the bloody editor of a broadsheet or ring up a radio talk show to complain and demand that something be done. You’ll email Get-Up and try to get a petition started. You’ll sit up the pub with a mate and indulge yourself in some righteous outrage, at length, and you’ll go on an on and on and bloody on and, at the conclusion of it all, you’ll do nothing more but shrug your shoulders and mutter, “Ah, what can you do, eh? Your shout.”, and that will be the end of it. You’ll roll over and take it like a closeted conservative in an airport toilet. You gutless f**king wonder.”

“I will work it out myself, you supercilious little twat! Watch … The price here is … $32.95. No. Wait. There’s another sticker here. $37.95. Which one is … which one is the disc-?“

“Two and a half bucks, c*ckhead.”

“Screw you.”

“If it’s $37.95 … the discount is 18%. That’s … what kind of a discount is that? 18%. Why can’t you make it an even twenny? Or fifteen?”

“Two bucks fifty, Einstein.”

“Your mother’s a five buck whore.”

“Oo-er.”

“10% is $3.79. Or $3.80 if you round up. That’s … um … $37.95 less $3.80 … Thirty four … FIFTEEN!”

“8% to go, dicky boy.”

“8% … Um. Well, 5% is half of $3.80. That’s … $1.50 plus thirty cents. No! Forty cents! That’s $1.90. Thirty four fifteen less one ninety … is … is … Do you have a piece of paper?”

“Public school education, was it?”

“But is the price $32.95 or $37.95? The pre-discount pri-”

“Two bucks, fifty cents, sh*thead.”

“…”

“In advance.”

“I … I’LL GO TO ANOTHER STORE!”

“Oh, pleeeeeeeease do! There’s one on Level 3! And they charge $2.75! And they’re not having a sale on fine Egyptian pillowcases right now, are they?! NO! THEY ARE NOT! I know … Why don’t you try K-MART!? More your style anyway, from the look of you. DON’T. YOU. THINK?! Mr. 100-thread Polyester-Blend?!”

“Do they have a charge?”

“Two bucks ten.”

“…”

“…”

“Here. Take it. You utter, utter prick.”

“Thank you very much, sir. Now, $32.95 less 18% discount comes to … $27.02, rounded down, $27.00 even. Cash or charge, sir?

“Cash.”

“Bag?”

“Please.”

“Plastic or paper?”

“With handles.”

“That’ll be plastic, then. Fifty cent charge for plastic … $27.50.”

“I hope you die.”

“It’s been such a pleasure, sir. Do come again.”

“I hope you die of cancer.”

“And have a nice day.”

“Up yours. Where are these toilets you mentioned?”

“Five bucks.”

“Five bucks?! … Sh*t!!”

“Number two’s are ten.”

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Glimmers of Hope?

Now that he’s got the puppy ensconced in the whitehouse, US President Barack Obama is walking the delicate tightrope of attempting to inspire confidence in the US economy while still warning of tough times ahead.

Yesterday, he announced that there was a “glimmer of hope” on the horizon for the American economy but warned that the nation was “by no means out of the woods just yet”.

In a 45-minute speech delivered yesterday at Georgetown University in Washington, Mr Obama said that his $787 billion (£529 billion) stimulus package, housing proposals, car industry bail-outs and bank capitalisation plan had started to “generate signs of economic progress” by saving jobs and beginning to free up the frozen credit market.

Rejecting criticism that he has been spending with “reckless abandon”, Mr Obama said: “History has shown repeatedly that when nations do not take early and aggressive action to get credit flowing again, they have crises that last years and years instead of months and months – years of low growth, years of low job creation, years of low investment, all of which cost these nations far more than a course of bold, upfront action.”

He also rebuked critics who said his refusal to nationalise banks was another example of Washington “coddling Wall Street”.

The President pointed to schools and police departments cancelling redundancies, clean energy companies and construction firms re-hiring workers and homeowners re-financing at lower interest rates.

However, he went on to temper the optimism by warning that more unemployment and home repossessions would come over the next 12 months.

US stocks were hit yesterday by an unexpected drop in retail sales, leading the Dow Jones industrial average down 137.63, or 1.7 per cent, to 7,920.18.

However, Goldman Sachs posted higher-than-expected first quarter profits, and pledged to raise $5 billion (£3.36 billion) to repay government bailout money.

Mr Obama said: “There is no doubt that times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods just yet. But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of America’s future that is far different than our troubled economic past.”

Invoking the Sermon on the Mount, comparing the American economic system to the parable of the man who built his house on a pile of sand, Mr Obama said: “It is that house upon the rock. Proud, sturdy, and unwavering in the face of the greatest storm.”

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, also also offered a “fundamentally optimistic” assessment yesterday, using a speech in Atlanta to highlight recent data on home sales and consumer spending as “tentative signs that the sharp decline in economic activity may be slowing.

He said: “A levelling out of economic activity is the first step toward recovery.”

Locally, views are still mixed as to whether the Australian economy is on the road to recovery or will experience tougher times ahead. Certainly we are beginning to see our own “glimmers of hope” in our own share market, however this is tempered by the spectre of increasing unemployment.

Perhaps one of the most positive news bites for the Australian economy is that China’s stimulus package of some $808 billion (Australian) appears to be delivering better than expected results.

Last month, China’s industrial output growth jumped 8.3 per cent, up from the 3.8 per cent rise of the first two months, as domestic demand continued to improve, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said.

He described the figures as “better than expected”, according to an interview published in the China Securities Journal.

But he warned that the international financial crisis “has not yet hit the bottom”.

Financial analysts in China, however, are increasingly confident that the country’s slowing economy has bottomed.

“We believe the trough of sequential growth is already behind us, and China is heading into the initial stage of a recovery in the first quarter of 2009,” said Goldman Sachs Guo Hua analysts Helen Qiao and Yu Song. “In our view, China has already come out of the long winter featuring the sharpest and most severe growth slowdown in the past 30 years.

“Green shoots of strong domestic credit expansion, together with higher-than-expected fixed asset investment (FAI) growth are signalling the arrival of a spring season with rising upside risks to domestic demand growth.”

While I have maintained that no one can accurately predict what will happen tomorrow, next week or next month, it appears, that just possibly, the market has finally bottomed and we might just be beginning to witness the seeds of recovery.

The downside is that these “glimmers of hope” may take months if not years to be reflected in a broader resurgence in the Australian economy.

Flick Crit: Camino – children suffering for Opus Dei

Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Camino: children suffering for Opus Dei

Director Javier Fesser’s Spanish film Camino (The Way) evoked anger and pathos in me in equal measures.

The old cliché that we see what we believe seems to apply here.

With its dream world elements this is a fairy tale in many ways. I was sucked into the story despite initial distaste for the subject matter. Its sentimental plot borders on the telenovela with:

* pubescent love
* hospitals with graphic operations
* secrecy and intrigue
* suspense and misunderstandings
* and of course contrived coincidences

There is even confusion over names.

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Goldilocks Housing

It seems that the RBA is saying that we have just enough houses to prevent a price collapse, and not too few houses to prevent runaway prices. Does this make us Goldilocks?

Home prices have dropped by as much as 20% in the US and UK since the beginning of the global financial crisis, compounding its effect on those economies. In Australia, residential real estate has dipped only 3% in 2008, aided by a short supply of homes.