Sunday, July 13, 2014

Shill, thy name is Fist-O

It's been three years since I posted to this blog. In that time I've gone off writing a bit. concentrating Instead on silly stuff like, I dunno…my wife and kid. Ruby is 2 years old today, Monday July 14. It’s Bastille Day too. I don’t know what conclusion to draw other than that Ruby is French by sheer dint of how pretty she is. Pretty people are default French just like cats are girls and dogs are boys. I don’t make these rules.

I intend to get fully back into the swing of it. But as a father and husband and occasional beard haver, I will need to intersperse invective against markets and capitalism by engaging in…markets and capitalism. Oh yes, I will be posting paid reviews, or advocating certain brands.

FUCK'N HIPPOCRIT most cynics, I’m an idealist/fan with a patina made of disappointment. Scratch that patina and the soft undercarriage of my love for commerce shines through. Scratch it again and a metaphor drops out, like so many eggs from a carton…of eggs…


Metaphor Engine kersploded.

Anyway- My main criticism of the current state of ‘late capitalism’ as I’ve called it (by putting ‘ and ‘ on either side of the words) is the Foundations of Bullshit problem. Fundamentally, some goods and services are built on steel. No problem riding the big rig of my approval across these well made bridges-


 …especially when the makers will reimburse me with cash, goods or services.


Coming up in the next few weeks, I’ll be test driving Seagates 4TB media centre, giving an account of using Uber in Melbourne (from both a driver and passenger’s perspective) and who knows what else. I’m open for bwizness, to advocate any product that actually does what it says it’s going to do, without a catch.

But if it don’t work…then no love for me. Even with the risk of losing access to said cash, goods and services, I really can’t bear the thought of being wrong.

IF IT DOESN’T WORK FOR ADAM…then it ain’t worth buying. For I am a GROUCHY fucking consumer. I lose patience QUICK. And if a product causes me more “Oy.” Than Joy, I immediately discard it as a worthless waste of everyone’s time- particularly the poor sap engineer who just wants to make the nice people happy, before some bean counter/marketing dude comes in and either undercuts it, or oversells it.


Sorry, caps was on. Ok, back to work for now - stay tuned for several messages from our sponsors...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


My wife has a friend with an idiot for a husband. He's an inventor of internets, even though he hasn't worked for many years. His main occupation seems to be playing golf and shaving his head into a decent facsimile of a white, sunburnt dick.

He's an atheist, and considers himself the last bulwark of reason against the hordes of pious troublemakers looking to send us back to the dark ages. He also seems to consider himself something of a reactionary iconoclast, with a contrarian position on all things politically correct.

My wife had the misfortune of dining with this shmuck recently, and I found myself daydreaming about some non-sequiter responses I would have liked to have given to his offensive ramblings. Enjoy:

Scenario: At the polite suggestion that public breastfeeding was political – “All those Christian fundamentalists can go fuck themselves if they’ve never seen a tit. And if they haven’t, they fucking should.”

Responsa: "Some Christian fundamentalists don't eat meat, which is a type of tit. Can we eat tits, even if they're not in public?"

Scenario: My wife is pregnant, and fucko recently gave birth to his own son, with some assistance from the mother. On the heartbreaking subject of postnatal depression: “They should just get over it for fuck sake. What a load of shit.”

Responsa: "What about post nasal compression? I had that after a bad cold, and it caused my ears to pop. Do you think it's psychosomatic, or is it just a result of eating too much Just Right?"

Scenario: On the subject of finding a job, something which is beneath a famous inventor of internets: “99% of HR people should be dragged out into the street and shot for all the fucking good they do. Bunch of useless idiots”.

Responsa: "Sorry, did you say 'HR"? I always thought it was pronounced "hrerrrr"! I've only ever seen it written. What do you think postcodes are used for?"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Bear In The Woods

I'm sure I'm not the only man out there who regularly hears this first thing in the morning- "I had a weird dream last night". True to form, as a sensitive sort of guy, I cut the conversation quickly with the reply "That's Awesome" and then fart and get dressed.

I'm not a big dreamer myself. I entertain fantasies before I drift off, usually having to do with money or superpowers. But being a light sleeper, I usually don't spend enough time in the deep delta zone to allow those fantasies, and events of the day, to manifest themselves into the weird little melodramas to which my partner is so prone.

Last night was an exception.

I've been dealing with the aftermath of my father's death, which should be enough trauma for a person to handle. But when the matters of estate come to be dealt with, and there's no money to speak of, and one of the family members is causing issues for the rest, then the stress builds up and up until eventually, your subconscious screams at you.

So here's the basic description of the dream.

I'm not exactly me. I'm with a man not exactly my father. We're out in the woods, knee deep in a shallow lake, shooting at ducks. Dad is using a shotgun, but I'm unarmed. It's getting dark and a bear has appeared at the far end of the lake. We don't run away, as the bear is more or less unthreatening, but we call it a day and head back. My avatar's father drops his shotgun. The bear is starting across the shallow lake, and I tell him to leave the shotgun, as it gets carried away in the rapids.

We get back to the cabin, and suddenly the bear is very close. The bear is still not bellowing or threatening, but it IS a bear. We get inside, and my not-dad sits on a bench, recovering from the chill. I ask him where the pistol is, because I want to scare the bear off. He tells me it's in the kitchen.

"Where in the kitchen?" I ask.

"In the container. Put the pistol in the container" he says, confusedly.

I (or "I") go up to him and shake him a little. "Are you ok?" I ask, suddenly concerned. The bear is making no noise, but I can see shadows moving outside.

My not-father starts to shake very slightly, and he looks confused and in pain. He's having a stroke. His hair starts to go white, and his face changes.

My avatar falls asleep.

He (I) wake up later. It's dusk now. I go up to the father, and he's completely changed. More feeble, no teeth, a tad dishevelled. I shake him, and he responds.

"I had a stroke" he says.

I go to the window, and I can see no bear. I see my (real) cat, Hank, playing with a butterfly. I conclude that if the cat is around and playing, the bear must be gone. I go to collect my father, who needs help up.

"I'm going to take you to hospital" I say.

"I'm at per cent" he admits.

"Do you recognize me?"

"Of course!" he says. "You're like a son to me!"

I stop cold. "No, I am your son".

He freezes, and looks confused and troubled. The dream ends.


As fans of The Sopranos, my partner and I feel qualified in making our own analysis. Who needs professionals when you have box-sets of DVDs?

1. The lake represents life and it's usual troubles (debt, career, relationships). We're in, but not up to our necks.

2. The bear represents imminent danger. But it's not being threatening, suggesting the real danger is from something familiar (I think my sub conscious is referring to someone in my family).

3. The shotgun represents my Dad's tools for dealing with life's troubles (financial solvency, physical fitness, wits). He's dropped them.

4. We head back to the cabin, and I can't find my own, less developed tools for dealing with life's troubles (the pistol). My dad can't help me find them, because he's lost his own, and death (the stroke) is taking him.

5. The threat (the bear) disappears, and it can't be determined if it was ever really a threat, because all it ever did was show itself- it never attacked.

6. The women in my life (represented by my cat), who are important to me, are safe and happy, and that tells me everything will be ok.

7. I've lost my father, in a profound way.

The dream hasn't told me anything I didn't already know or suspect, assuming the analysis my partner and I teased out is in any way relevant. I don't know what ducks, butterflies or cabins represent (something GAY, no doubt). I don't like the sad way it ended. I don't know why we were different people to our normal selves- we looked like two complete strangers, nothing like our real selves.

Anyone got any suggestions?

Monday, January 10, 2011

On mourning

My father, Albert Wajnberg, passed away yesterday. He went suddenly, from what we believe was a cardiac episode. He fell and sustained minor head injuries, which likely contributed to his death. I had spoken to him on the phone less than an hour before he was discovered. Anyone who knows me knows how much I loved my father, and anyone who met my father knows why. This was a man utterly devoid of selfishness, ill-will or evil intention, a jovial man with a voice that registered somewhere between a stand up-bass and a bassoon. A man of tremendous joy and quiet, unassuming intelligence, a fair judge of all men, save for himself. He was too ready to talk himself down, a trait that was often exasperating to the people around him who adored him. I would have the same tendency towards self-immolation, were it not for the fact that my father filled me with such a massive amount of self-esteem. All confidence in myself stems from Al Wajnberg's relentless promotion of all his children as being a super race of brilliant, beautiful humans.

I and my brother, and my three sisters, and my mother, have received an enormous outpouring of support from friends and family, which I'm left humbled by. But it has occurred to me that no-one knows what to say in these situations. Myself included. And for people who aren't familiar with Jewish tradition, the act of expressing solemn condolences is a potential minefield. I like providing guides and definitions. So I'm going to condense the 1% of what I know of Jewish mourning tradition into a guide for my friends, all of which can be chucked out the window in return for any sincere expression of regret. But just as I've found a bit of comfort in following a set table of rules for this event, I hope I can do the same for other people.

1. Normal attire is expected at a Jewish funeral. Slacks and a shirt, skirt and a blouse, etc. Ties, suits, veils...all of it might be considered adornment, and is not necessary. Helmets are acceptable, if you are a viking.

2. Flowers are not generally appropriate. Stones are often placed on the grave as a marker, or sign of permanence.

3. All Jews are buried in simple boxes, wrapped in shrouds. Viewing the body is not traditional. The idea is that human beings derive their personal sanctity from the spirit God has imbued in them, and from their deeds while on Earth. Their physical form is a distraction from these realities, thus immaterial when committing back to God. Something like that.

4. The traditional greeting for an Onen, a person directly grieving the deceased, is to wish them Long Life. Other chit chat is generally considered totes banal. Keep in mind, the first thing I said to my sister, immediately after she was informed of the terrible news, was "How are you?". If it slips, don't worry about it.

5. No clapping after speeches. I guess this one isn't strictly a Jewish custom, more just common sense. However, if the speech includes juggling...

6. Only the family rend their clothing. Doing so to fit in will result in torn clothing.

7. After the funeral, mourners are invited to the home of the deceased a few hours later, to recite psalms and the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. This is not a wake. Reminiscing the dead and hanging around should be kept to the 7-day period after the burial, known as the Shiva. Sounds harsh, but it's best to make it quick and then split. And when you do, go get a chicken parma or something else delicious. The honour of mourning is strictly reserved for the immediate family. Everyone else is ordered to get back to their affairs, by decree of Old Testament God, who doesn't screw around.

8. Over the next 7 days, the mourners stay at home, cover their mirrors,take off their shoes and sit on the ground or on small stools. This period, Shiva, is the intense mourning period that's probably been mentioned on any show that had a special episode where a Jewish character had died.

9. When visiting a mourner during Shiva, it is customary to bring light food, since the mourners are not expected to engage in the joys of cooking and the eating of the cookies. Flowers are nice, but simple food like soup, bread rolls, hard boiled eggs and vegetables are more appropriate.

10. Jews are not Irish. I guess this means that we don't appreciate drinking, levity or irreverence during the mourning period. But Dad praised good humour above all other things, and raised his children likewise. If you'e able to honour us and Dad with a visit during Shiva, please bring some jokes. Al Wajnberg was a man who liked to sit, talk and laugh.

That's it. I hope this helps shed some light on the ancient, mystical, garlicky customs of the ancient Jews. I hope it helps.

To Dad- I know neither of us believed in ghosts, spirits or the afterlife. But in the event we were wrong...stick around. I wasn't done making you laugh.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Doom and also Gloom

I wouldn't exactly say I'm a fan of entropy. 'Fan' would suggest that I somehow, I dunno, root for it. It's just that I believe in entropy, and not just because it's a set law of thermodynamics and therefore 'exists' in a way that few things can claim to exist. So while I don't jump for joy when I see something that deserves to fall apart, fall apart, I do feel a little comforted knowing that the universe is kicking along the same as it always has, no matter how much optimism we fabricate.

To that end, I'm looking at the world right now and trying hard to ignore the facts, but ultimately, I gotta call it...the world really is coming to an end. Something very big is about to happen. Everything going on right now has that eerie, 'calm before the storm' feel to it. And even then, it's not that calm. Let's look at some of the highlights:

1. Political division in the US is deepening, with small bursts of violence starting to appear. This will ramp up as we approach the 2012 election campaign. This will have ramifications for the rest of the world. The right wing will get more desperate, the left will get more tongue-tied, and the lunatic fringe on both sides will be the only voices heard. But it'll be the fringe on the right that gets their way, and riskier investments and ventures will proliferate, as the sunny Tea Partiers insist on American adventurism as a means to get out of crisis. You'll see American banks go through a rapid series of booms, busts and utter disasters, until the lunatic right's suggestions of a gold standard start to look reasonable. Then...

2. The Chinese will start selling their 900 billion dollars worth of US Treasury Bonds to whomever will buy them, which will be no-one. The Japanese, with a similar amount, will start to liquefy their exposure to the dangerously insane looking Americans. The greenback's standing as the world's reserve currency will implode, and currency markets will go into freefall. At that point, there will be literally no safe investment anywhere in the world. Then...

3. The stock market will bottom out. The Dow will sink past 5000 before settling. Then...

4. Some major disaster will hit a US city. Likely to be a flood, earthquake or Godzilla attack (GODZILLA LOSE SHIRT IN EQUITIES! BLAAARGH!!). Then...

5. A War. Maybe Iran will finally lose it and launch a missile into Israel. or vise versa. Or the North Koreans launch into South Korea. Or Iraq will come undone. or Afghanistan. Then...

6. Major talks. The greenback will be stabilized with the printing of more money, which will be overblown by the public, who have pushed the price of Gold past $1800/oz. Then Gold crashes back down to $300/oz. Meanwhile, those with a steady hand will avoid the rush to panic and keep their money in banks. Then...

7. The first Iceland-esque instance of US consumers going to withdraw money from (probably a Citi) ATM, and not being able to, will occur. Panic. Run on the banks. People will get 5c to the dollar. Which is now worth 2c because of the inflation.

8. Riots.

9. The Aussie housing bubble will explode, sending hot egg into everyone's face. Turns out the biggest backer of Aussie mortgage debt was...

10. Goldman Sachs. But the biggest better AGAINST Aussie mortgage debt was...

11. Goldman Sachs. They're fine, but they accept a bail out anyway, even though the US treasury has no money. They're offered treasury bonds, but Goldman actually refuses to take them, which leads to...

12. Everyone else sells their US treasuries. The US can't print the money fast enough. Hyper-inflation. Mass hoarding. More Riots. Someone gets shot.

13. ?

In all of this, I plan on getting married and out of debt, and hopefully getting an opportunity to start my writing career. Of course, the whole world will be in utter chaos at that point, and I'll be drafted into the New United States Army, and called back to the US for basic training. Lisa and I will jump ship on the way, finding safe haven on a coconut festooned island, where we will establish our own nation, with an economy based on coconuts and coconut derivatives. We will have children and die 150 years later, by which time the slaves will be re-freed in the New United States of Atlantica, a nation comprising of the remains of the US East Coast and the UK. We won't be there to see the bubble bubble, when risky bets on the rising prices of bubbles will destroy the fishbak, the reserve underwater-world currency.

It gets hazy from there.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Bullshit

Ok, New Year, new resolution to actually make something of this blog. I predict this lasting til May, and then I'll see you for 2012! W00t! Olympics and elections!

I've been reading up on the Global Financial Crisis, which, if you weren't aware, is still something with us. The backbone of the world economy, the American consumer, is consuming less. Which is undoubtedly a good thing- or rather, the correct thing. The opposite of over-consumption may not be under consumption, but normal consumption. That might be what we're seeing- normalization. I don't know. But I do know that I've personally been consuming much news and book, and none of it makes me not angry.

I would suggest that everyone should read "Too Big to Fail" for a straightforward explanation of what happened in 2008 with the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and the subsequent bailout of AIG. Then move on to "On The Brink" for the closest thing to an insider account that tries not to lionize the perpetrators. Then Matt Taiibi's "Griftopia" for the only proper, angry journalistic expose on the whole edifice of American finance. Then "IOU: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No-One Can Pay", which is the only one that bothers to explain in plain english what all this crap means. Then browse around on for a while, and then try not to jam a pair of scissors into your skull. Oh, and familiarize yourself with Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged" in particular to really bring it all home. If you've ever hated the idea of swaggering, empty headed, frat-ty types who believe themselves to be at the vanguard of innovation and capitalism, just because they have a knack for conning dumber folks into turning life-savings into blowjobs for'll at least feel gratified to know you're not even a little bit wrong.

Anyway, I wrote a while ago that the issue out there seems to be not that people are using bullshit to build entire superstructures- but that they themselves seem to be genuinely forgetting that these things are bullshit. Some folks are successfully swindling themselves. Bullshit seems to be getting bigger and brighter, while at no point ever getting to be any stronger or to smell any less like POO FROM THE BUM OF COW. I wanted to break down some words I hear getting bandied about that have become, for me, codewords for almost the exact opposite of their supposed meaning. Enjoy.

1. No Risk = Extreme Risk. When the Reserve Bank of Australia says "Anyone who thinks the housing market could collapse in Australia is crazy", they're probably using VAR. Value At Risk is a handy little bit of calculus that takes the amount of money being gambled, the historical data about that particular type of bet, and calculates exactly how much money could be won or lost in a day, in the best or worst circumstances. It very accurately predicts what will happen with your investment - in the past. It says it can account for the unforseeable, which is like accurately looking at your own eyeballs- not just hilarious, but completely ridiculous. It's like hating the paint job on Wonder Woman's invisible jet. So when the sober reserve bank of a stable western democracy calls rational people crazy, it's because one of their math "wizards" has calculated the chance of their bullshit falling apart as being one in 10 to the power of 64. It will happen one time in however many years equals the age of the universe times a few billion. Magic! Wizards are magic! I really urge everyone to read a definition of VAR and it's importance in the Bullshit Business, written by someone who knows what they're talking about. It'll make you believe in magic/murder.

2. Business = Scam/Grift. No revelation. But to deconstruct - a scam is designed to get your money with no effort to make something worthwhile on my part. That's a scam. Or a business. I forget. There's a different word...maybe industry, or trade, which refers to the act of making or doing something that makes your life better, which I can do easily, while you do the same on your end, and we swap the surpluses. I dunno. bartering? Socialism? Which brings up...

3. Freedom/Liberty = The Freedom To Fuck You Over. If you are limiting my freedom to take advantage of you while offering nothing in return, you are a communist. GOOD GOING, COMMUNIST.

4. Innovation = New scam. Innovation seems to be the word that hides bad ideas- assuming that "bad" is an idea that no-one profits from. I guess it's not bad if SOMEONE profits, even unfairly. In which case, it's still innovative if it's a means to rape someone financially. Or physically. Soft-sole sneakers and pre-medicated ether swabs are exciting new Rape Innovations (TM).

5. Free Market = Protected Markets, for the least productive people. I swear I'm not trying to be cynical. Again, this is just a way of using the word free- a good word! To mean any type of freedom, including the freedom to protect your mates, even at the expense of people who ACTUALLY (not effectively) pay your salary.

6. Objectivity - Subjectivity! But taller, with great hair and a nice suit.

7. Shmuck - Someone who works and earns money from their efforts, which they can then exchange for whatever goods and services they please. Shmucks keep the economy going, and are mostly not rich. Some shmucks are rich. A lot of these bonehead losers are scientists, academics, doctors, teachers, artists and manufacturers. Even if they have millions of dollars, they are shmucks- because they earned those dollars. Shmucks are assholes!

8. Master of the Universe - Someone who is so talented that they can take other people's money (preferably shmucks) and gamble it, and call themselves a genius when they win, and under-appreciated when they lose.

9. Capital- once thought to be a mechanism for ensuring ongoing market activity, and therefore individual freedom. We now know that market activity is a steady and effective mechanism to provide more capital.

10. Debt- Used to be a form of deferred capital. Now, capital!

11. Securities- Things which are not secure.

12. Equities - Things which destroy "equity".

And that's all I got for now. I'm exhausted. Outrage fatigue. Oh. OH! I just had a mint that combines blackcurrant and mint. NOW YOU CAN ENJOY THE PLEASANT SENSATION OF DRINKING FRUIT JUICE RIGHT AFTER BRUSHING YOUR TEETH, IN PILL FORM! Blech.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Potrzebie St. Market

I've been wondering lately how English must sound to people who don't speak English. It's common for us to trivialize another language by blathering the most common syllables in a random pattern- common AND historical. The Greeks would refer to their Phoenician neighbours as "Barbars", no doubt because in their semitic languages, everyone was called Bar (son) of something. Like Johnny Bar Mitzvah, the ancient world's finest (and manliest) sailor. Soon, the word "Barbarian" came to mean anyone who didn't speak Greek. But hey, those grape leaf eating homos may have been referred to as Losers, since many of their words end in *-lous or similar. Fuggin' greeks.

Moving on, we're all happy to refer to the Chinaman as Ping Pong, since the tonal languages use a lot of those particular syllabic constructs in their linguistic morphology. Also, let's face it, they play a lot of ping pong. Similarly, I'll readily characterise German speakers as EisenScheizens, because that's all I hear when they speak. And I think they like to eat shit.

By the way- if you're into poo eating, does it have to be your lover's poo? Or does a poo-eater look at a soiled kitty litter box like I would a Whitman's Sampler? Let me know, if you're a poo-eater.

So what does English sound like to the barbarians who don't speak it? What are the familiar bits and pieces that stick out to the hateful francophile, or the simple-minded Eskimo? Would it be the hard, Anglo-Saxon R's and K's from words like firetruck, traction and motherfucker? Or the middle german ERs and INGs that end so many of our words? I can't for the life of me take myself out of the English speaking world enough to imagine what it could be.

How does this sentence look?

"The best fish in Krakow are to be bought at the Potrzebie St. Market".

Which syllables stick out? Does it sound like this:

Thay bes vish ink krakowre tobee botatsh potrzebeestre mark"

Because in that, all my brain would hear would be the syballine S, the softer SH and the hard sounds of those Rs and Ks. I guess as an irreverent Afghani, I might imitate American soldiers like this:

"Shper per, grabben shiken gow now smith jonson krakker"

Then all my cave-mates would laugh, except for the Afghani hipsters, off-put by such a dated stereotype of foreigners.