Monday, August 3, 2009
much cheaper than IVF:
Turkey baster love
Fat womans dancing
jiggling almost hypnotic,
I need way more beers
Sour gummy worm
you tantilize my tastebuds,
empty bag of dreams
Life and death, sickness and health
I love thee scrumpy
If only life could be solved
Sunday, August 2, 2009
While I'm meant to know a thing or two about "economics", I often forget the incontrovertible evidence and arguments that best defend the free-market against the red tide. Thus, I shan't attempt to convince you of them here. Instead, with a simple model, and some supporting explanation and discussion, I intend to argue that a particular socilaistesque policy, while well meaning, is not at all rational and, worse, is - at least I shall argue so - immoral.
In order to lead the kind of material life of which I am so fond, I currently hold a part-time job. Some of my friends work full-time. Others have accepted positions that entitle them to fill out accurately, and with some pride, the blank square labeled 'occupation' on their census form. However, working life is not a privelege bestowed upon all. Up to March, 5% of all working-age New Zealanders capable of joining the workforce were unemployed (http://www.stats.govt.nz/products-and-services/nz-in-the-oecd/~/link.aspx?_id=2A2BE2696C0A436892985CA72AC7469D&_z=z). Jobs, one might argue, define the kinds of people we are, empower us, in addition to improving our material welfare. On this basis, then, oughtn't all people be entitled to jobs? Sure: most developed countries actively discourage discrimination in the workplace, enabling access to employment for large portions of society. Nevertheless, this open access to employment is not enough, one might argue. People are not only entitled to jobs; jobs are a positive right: we ought to do all we can to ensure that every able bodied person is employed in order that their human dignity be respected.
Such arguments might well be held by those in favour of policies designed to drastically reduce unemployment, for example, John Key's recent announcement to create positions for many of New Zealand's unemployed youth (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/2712268/Keys-ambitious-plan). I take it as relatively uncontroversial that such policies, defended on the basis of entitlement, fairness and/or equality (that is, equality of job opportunity), are typical of socialist-leaning types. As an example of a socialist policy designed to promote better outcomes for society (in this case fairness, or perhaps equality), I will show that no matter how well-meaning they are, such policies are inherently inferior to those that encourage a free-market (not necessarily a neo-libertarian free-market, but more free than a market directed or influenced by socilaist policies).
Economics is a dense subject area. It is strewn with complicated theories and often unintelligible empirical evidence. Hence, I wish only to work with a very simple model describing a socialist policy. We shall call this social policy "protectionism", by which I mean that a government (or society, if you wish) decides to enact a policy or policies that protect the jobs of those already employed and seeks to provide jobs for the currently unemployed. I suggest that a socialist would argue that such a policy is a "good" one, or the "right" policy, when compared to a non-protectionist policy (I don't wish to define "goodness" or "rightness" here, only to point out that based on the above discussion, socialists would tend to approve of a protectionist policy on the basis of it being "good" or "right").
Now, what are the outcomes of "protectionism" when compared to "non-proctetionism"? Let's say that protectionism is carried out by a government by subsidising New Zealand made goods (I am intentionally simplifying here: a subsidy is a payment from the government to a firm with no expectation of any reciprocal exchange; a New Zealand made good is one that is made here and is sold both at home and overseas). The effect of the subsidy is that New Zealand producers can now make their goods at a lower cost because they no longer need to pay for some portion of those costs (the subsidy pays that portion of the costs instead). This lightens the load for New Zealand producers: they can now afford to sell their goods for a lower price, meaning they can outprice overseas competitors and gain more customers than them. This increase in sales allows the producers to hire more staff in order to churn out more product. We thus get the desired result: increased employment.
"What's this? More New Zealand-made goods sold, cheaper goods for customers and more jobs? Producers win (they sell more and make bigger profits), customers win (the can buy goods at lower prices), the unemployed win (they are now employed). What's not to like?" we hear the socialist cry in support of such a policy. "This is clearly the right policy to implement".
However, we have neglected the fact that producers also sell their goods overseas. While one might be tempted to argue that a protectionist policy indirectly benefits overseas customers by giving them access to cheaper goods, overseas producers feel the pinch as less of their more expensive goods are purchased. As overseas producers are now selling fewer goods, they no longer need as many employees to make them: there are inevitable layoffs. This results in lower overseas incomes and thus these customers do not enjoy the benefits of cheaper New Zealand goods (notice, also, that this would also mean fewer customers to purchase New Zealand's goods, possibly reducing the number of sales).
Why would a foreign country put up with these effects? Surely they would be better off implementing policies to protect their own workers. How, then does the effect of both of these protectionist polices play out for each of the countries (if we assume, for simplicity, that we are only considering two nations: New Zealand, and some foreign country)? The model is drawn below:
Again, I have simplified things: the nunber on the left in each box represents the preference rank of the outcome for New Zealand (1 being the most preferred outcome, 4 being the worst), the number on the right representing the preference ranks of each outcome for the foreign country. Following the above discussion, clearly each country would most prefer to have its own protectionist policy in place, while the other country does not: this ensures more jobs, and cheaper goods in the home country (note that it causes a loss of jobs in the foreign country, hence, this being their least preferred outcome).
Why is it, though, that both countries prefer non-protectionist policies in both countries to protectionist policies in both countries? If both countries implement protectionist policies then the cost of producing goods in both countries decreases, thus granting neither country's products a competitive advantage over the other: there are no increases in sales for either country and thus no subsequent increases in employment for either country. One might argue that, at least, the price of goods in both countries has decreased, however, this reduction in price has come at the cost of the subsidy, a subsidy which is funded by the taxes paid by the very consumers who will supposedly enjoy the benefit of lower prices (note that the cost of employing civil servants to collect the taxes and redistribute them to producers will yield a net cost to the taxpayer/consumer. Moreover, basic economic theory notes that producers do not pass on all of the benefit of a subsidy to their customers, and thus even with a perfectly efficient government, taxpayers will not see a price reduction equivalent to that of the subsidy they paid out of their taxes). Clearly, then, a situation in which neither country employs protectionism is more desirable as there are no subsidization costs to the consumer, while employment remains the same in both situations. Protectionism, then, is not a "good" policy insofar as it does not produce the desired (by socialists) outcome (greater employment).
However, protectionism is worse than simply being a poor choice of policy, I argue that it is an immoral choice of policy. Following the reasoning I laid down in a previous blog post (http://h8uchch.blogspot.com/2009/07/avoiding-life-that-is-nasty-brutish-and.html), we can see that a country's shallow focus on the benefits to itself will lead to the relatively undesirable outcome where both countries will end up employing protectionist policies. However, this decision by each country imposes costs on the other: New Zealand's employment of protectionism forces the foreign country to pay taxes for a subsidy that has no effect on the economy and costs them more than if New Zealand were not to employ protectionist policies. This imposition of costs is not only irrational, but is immoral for there is not even an appropriate justification for such an imposition: the protectionist policy has no discernable benefit for New Zealand (or the foreign country). It is not as if New Zealand could claim "oh but at least OUR workers are better off for it", because this is not the case. We would be simply throwing money down the drain, only to force our foreign friends do the same. How can such a policy be the "right" thing to do? The imposition of such costs on others is not only wasteful, but immoral for those same wasted taxpayer dollars could have been spent on schools, hospitals, orphanges or bad-ass symphony orchestra accompanied shark-cum-laser light shows.
Socialist inspired protectionist policies, then, are not only ineffective, but are wasteful and needlessly impose costs on others.
Therefore, I implore you, next time you're discussing the domestic economy with Barack or John, or heatedly (read: drunkenly) debating with your local anarchist/communist/punk/socialist/Green-and-or-Maori-Party supporter, pick out your favourite Crayola and draw yourself a pretty little prisoners' dilemma explaining in far too simple terms the problem with socialist inspired economic policies. You don't have to be an economist, or even to have to finished high-school, you just need to think clearly (even simply) about just what it is that a particular policy/idea implies.
P.S. If you even remotely sympathised with this, go out and read some Ayn Rand. I'm sure you'll be delighted with her.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I'm really not sure if books can change lives. Predetestination, Determinism, Science, etc. And even if they can, it's kinda hard to find a perspective from which to judge whether an individual book has lived up to such lofty criteria. I really don't know if my life would have been any different without Spot the Dog or Where's Wally?. On the other hand though, if any book could be said to have “changed my life”, then surely all books I have read could too, however insignificantly. But this makes the phrase “changed my life” seem trite and prosaic, almost meaningless. Setting aside these deconstructive semantics, of which Derrida would be proud (and maybe putting away the name dropping too) I think much easier and less fraught question can be asked: “What book do I remember best?”.
Probably The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol. But that doesn't really count, seeing on only finished it today. I lack the Kantian aesthetic distance required for proper judgment. So instead I will say George Orwell's 1984. Skipping from Predestination to precognition, I can see prospective readers groaning ironically (if that is possible) at this choice, usually the fanfare of pseudo-intellectual teenagers. We are back to the trite and prosaic apparently. But hear me out.
I think I first read 1984 when I was about ten. And like most ten year olds I didn't understand a fucking word of it and didn't finish it (went back to my pro-yo or something). All I knew was that it was (quote) greate literature (unquote) and that it ought to be read as part of a decent (quote) cultural education (unquote). I came back to it when I was about fifteen to find that, while the actual book had decayed considerably sitting on my parents book shelf, the content seemed to have miraculously improved. It was good. Seriously fucking good. It had everything any fifteen year old would want. Sex, Violence, Jewbashing, all the good stuff. Yet it also had something for the discerning reader. The historico-political references were cognitive reinforcement heroin to a kid raised on the History Channel. Most of all though, it had tragedy. Not weak-arse Romeo and Juliet type tragedy, but proper, gut wrenching, so-bleak-you-want-to-cry, tragedy. Pathos, I think Aristotle would say.And of such an all encompassing kind too. Things are not getting better, good does not triumph over evil, the entire future of the planet is simply a boot stomping on a human face. Eternally, just stomping. Or at least I thought at the time.
Looking back, with a little aesthetic distance of my own, I can certainly see the flaws. Like most of Orwell's writing, it is transparently didactic and an obvious expression of its author's politics. And as I recently found out, the concept, plot, themes and conclusion were a complete rip-off of an earlier work by Evgeny Zamyatin. The curious thing though, is that this didn't really matter then, and it still doesn't now. For better or for worse, 1984 meant something to me, and it still does. Not because it changed my life, but because it is so inextricably tied up with a time when it wasn't necessary to judge a book intellectually, or deconstructively, or in a Kantian manner, or in an Aristotelian manner, and it wasn't important to think about whether it was 'cliched' to like it or not, or even to find it necessary to put scare quotes around words to distance myself from them. It could just be enjoyed because it was so fucking good.
- B. Richardson
(This may not make sense to anyone. It's kind of personal like genital warts, but for those who also have things they would rather not talk about, read on and best of luck)
THE SUCCESSFUL PERSON, AKA LIFE SUCCESS STORY PERSON, AND WHY YOU CAN STOP LOOKING DOWN ON ME AS A FUCKING FAILURE JUST BECAUSE I THOUGHT MYSELF INTO A PICKLE OF A JAM AND REALISED SUCCESS HAS NO DEFINITIVE CONNECTION WITH WHAT IS GOOD OR THE RIGHT WAY TO LIVE
SO. SUCCESS STORIES.
(e.g. Tony Robbins, Madonna, Jared (Subway), Paul Holmes (although he's feeling it now, poor old successful sod (rich daughters are even worse than those who consider themselves "successful" especially if they think they are successful for appearing on television)), Donald Trump, Billy Ray Cyrus (and its offspring), Silvio Berlusconi, Kim Jong-Il, Ben Johnson, MJ, Any record holder, DOUBLE POINTS FOR past record holders (you're not even the best anymore, gutz bro) and Six Figure Bureaucrats (there are too many vowels in what you are, mother fucker).
It doesn't mean anything.
A MEASURE OF 'SUCCESS'
(There is at most one correct answer for each of the following questions... some have no answer. "Such is life" and all that)
1) You're a successful person relative to what/who?
2) You have succeeded in life, but at what cost?
3) You have succeeded in life, but for whose benefit?
4) You obtained the desired outcome... now what?
5) Success at this juncture has guaranteed happiness for the rest of your days?
6) You have a high income relative to your peers. Can you make the assumption you deserve it more than them?
7) Does your success result in you having excess? Does that mean you deserve to indulge in it how you please?
8) Did you get it all on your own? Would the same opportunities have presented themselves if you were born in another country?
9) Is success in society something we imagine to make ourselves happy and give us something to do before we get too old to compete?
10) Did you do it to feel better about yourself/make yourself look better to others?
11) Does being a more desirable mate affect what you choose to do?
12) Are we monkeys?
13) What are you trying to do?
A person can succeed at winning a match, climbing a mountain, yes I suppose, but I don't want to do things just to become a "Successful Person" and besting my fellow man. So I'm forgetting about the societies self important success story chumps and about my own success.
Everyone can live at their own pace.
Besides, Jesus was a bit of a failure when you really think about it...
h8 u jesus / competing / life / etc.
Or at least that is what we might assume.
The prisoners' dilemma is a hypothetical game played between two people, each of whom seek the best possible outcome for themselves via rational decision-making. Imagine that two acquaintances are caught by the police trying to smuggle drugs into the country. They are placed in separate interrogation chambers and each told that when it comes to their trial they will be given the option of confessing or remaining silent. However, the resulting prison sentence will depend not just on their own decision but on that of their acquaintance. If both players remain silent there will not be enough evidence to charge them with drug smuggling and each will be convicted of the lesser crime of weapon possession and will land 1 year in prison. If both players confess they will be convicted of drug smuggling and each will land 5 years in prison. However, if one player confesses and the other does not, the player that confesses will be released with no sentence for turning evidence against his acquaintance, while the player that remains silent will go to prison for 10 years. The game is represented below.
Knowing that his acquaintance will have to make a decision at the same time as himself, what does the player's rationality tell him is the best decision to make? Notice that regardless of what the other player chooses, it seems that the best choice for a player is to confess. If player 2 is definately going to remain silent, then player 1 ought to confess because he will get to go free, as opposed to spending 1 year in prison. If player 2 is definately going to confess then player 1 ought to confess also because this lands him only 5 years in prison compared to the 10 years he would get if he remained silent. Thus, rationality tells each player that the best option is to confess.
Yet if we look at the game again, we see that the best outcome for the players does not occur if both confess. The best outcome for both players is if they both remain silent (they receive 1 year each as opposed to 5 years each). If rationality tells us what is best for us, how can it be so wrong in this situation?
There are many answers to this: rationality only works in a world in which there is perfect information (we don't have that here, neither player knows what the other is going to choose); rationality is not in fact the best guide for our actions; the most rational option is actually to remain silent, not to confess. Each of these has its merits (and flaws), but each has been touted before. I propose that to exercise our rationality properly, we must consult the 'moral law'.
Immanuel Kant, often considered the most important firgure in enlightenment rationalism (though he expounded empiricist tennets also), suggests that our rationality naturally brings us to the moral conclusion that we should always "Act according to a maxim which can be adopted at the same time as a universal law" (Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals). That is, we should always act in such a way that if anyone else were in our position, it would be best for them to act in this way also. What does this imply for the prisoners' dilemma? Well, we must ask ourselves, what decision is the one that would be most rational to make if everyone else were to make that decision also? Obviously, the answer is to remain silent: if all players were to make this decision also, this would lead to the best outcome for everyone. If all players remain silent, all players receive 1 year in prison as opposed to 5. (Of course, this outcome hinges on the assumption that all people arrive at Kant's morality via their rationality. We might not think this to be the case in the real world, but in the prisoners' dilemma we assume that each player reasons similarly.)
As a product of truly rational thinking Kant's categorical imperative (also referred to as "The Golden rule" [do unto others as you would have them do unto you], though this is not how Kant in fact preferred his thoughts to be interpreted), shows us why it is not in fact irrational to be rational in the prisoners' dilemma. One would only think that this was the case if they did not realise that moral thinking is in fact a part of rational thinking. But one can hardly reject the result that morality is a natural conclusion of rationality, for it does indeed produce the best outcome for each individual.
Why are such thoughts at all important or relevant to modern life? I hear you ask. Morality is so last century, I hear you sneer. I'm all about me, man.
The fact of the matter is, examples - and well reasoned solutions - like the prisoners' dilemma show that even if we are truly only concerned with ourselves (the selfish bastards that we are), it pays to be moral. Not only does society at large do better with a system of morality, individuals themselves do better than they otherwise would by following a rational system of moral conduct.
Hence, next time you're thinking about throwing shoes at your friend's wall, vomiting in someone else's bed or shitting in his or her shower, consider whether this is really in your best interests. If you do not heed the rational call of morality, you might find that your life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" (Hobbes, Leviathan).
- J. A. Graham
Monday, July 27, 2009
Today I went to Eastgate mall. As is usually the case when you go anywhere in public, people were wearing clothes. Here is a re-creation of the best t-shirts that I saw on my ten minute lunch break:
I am not 100% sure what is going to happen later but I am almost certain that it will end in me taking a thirty minute shower fully clothed while tears flow freely from my bruised face. The connection between this t-shirt and the inevitable post rape shower scene that follows is almost as strong as the connection between it's wearer and motorcross, hair gel, DC shoes, 'twizted metal', Woodstocks and doing sick as fuck skids bro.
THE FAMILY COURT MADE JUDGEMENT AGAINST ME FOR $150 A FORTNIGHT CHILD SUPPORT FOR JAYDEN-TYLER AND SHANAE AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY TSHIRT.
This shirt is hella fucking cool, but kinda wrong. It is often noted that discovery of the fermentation process is often put down to an accident of nature – wild yeast blowing into the storage jars of grains and fruits, and starting the fermentation process. Further, it has been noted that if basing your whole identity around the fact that you smoke weed pretty much means you're one of those awesome guys who says ~buzzy~ and ~spinny~ and goes to three day courses in Literacy and Numeracy at the New Zealand Academy. A.K.A it means I want to hang out with you. Hi.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Anomie is, I guess, a 'French' word, but it comes from the Greek a- nomos, or 'without law'. The word itself is somewhat ambiguous, and has had many meanings attached to it in modern history. Maybe originally the word was used to describe things or people which were literally 'outside' of the law. I don't know – I am not an etymologist, nor a particularly adept researcher. It is a particular modern idea that the term has been attached to, though, which is at point here. In 1897, famed French sociologist Emile Durkheim published Suicide – one of the first examinations of the personal and social factors contributing in the end result of, someone, well, 'eliminating their own map'. In this, Durkheim describes 'anomie' as a primary cause of suicide, and we can assume it follows from this that 'anomie' is also a factor or cause in other mental health issues. This is probably a bold assumption to make, and I'm sure some asshole will pull me up about it, but fuck it, I think I'm going somewhere with this. Okay. So – what is this 'anomie' that has people jumping off of bridges all the way back in 1897? It becomes, in Durkheim's writing, a stand-in word to describe the 'normless-ness' of society, and the associated feelings of alienation, and purposelessness. Basically – we don't get 'society' and 'life', and we don't relate to other people. We don't have religion or back breaking toil to bring us together. Nothing is fixed, and so we are left to construct our own meaning / values / whatever. Our own ways to interact and connect, socially or romantically or whatever the fuck kind of way you want to connect. Basically, I feel like this is fundamentally connected to the fact that pretty much everyone I know is a neurotic wreck at the best of times. Connected with 15% of people 'considering suicide'. 'Anomie' means we are lost, devoid of purpose and struggling. Maybe this is what 'depression' and anxiety are. I think this is what anxiety is, when I kick back and have panic attacks about things which don't really matter. About 'life'. We don't really 'know how to talk about stuff' with people, because there is no point of reference to let us know how to do it. This is really melodramatic. Just wanted to say something meaningful, like a French person in a black and white photograph. Most people are normal and well adjusted, actually. I forgot what I was trying to say. Just wanna ~have some theories~ and ~be deep~. Need to 'read more books', or something. Since it is 4.31pm now I get to stop pretending to work and go home. Thank you for reading this.
I am not an intellectual.
It took me 3 years to complete my last year of school
I don't understand jokes the first time around and I haven't actually read a book all the way through so far this year.
I don't know why some people tend to group me in with this group of people. Maybe it's because I am cynical and can sit at the back of a party with these "intellectuals" and talk about how stupid and inferior all the other people at the party are. I guess I am doing the exact same thing right now, as I am thinking I am better than these "intellectuals."
Ceci n’est pas une pipe,
Though its darkened brown and
Burnished wood reveals a
In which is smoky, black,
Sooty, tar-filled chimney –
Well-rounded and smooth – dips
Gently into my hand.
Ceci n’est pas une pipe,
Though its gently glowing
Grail, is filled with earthy
Smelling, dry tobacco
That burns like red hot-coals
And sounds like crunching leaves
To my accustomed ear.
Well-worn spout, meet my lips!
An inward breath I take.
Alas! My chest does not
Fill with smoke, for I know
Ceci n’est pas une pipe.
- J. A. Meanwell (Graham)
Saturday, July 25, 2009
universally, we picture a French man smoking
he says to us.
and people start to give up.
we tell friends, spouses, workmates,
anyone who will listen:
“i feel so alone”.
we cut each other off but yeah,
we keep breathing,
striving for six-days-broke
because life costs too much
“everyone is the same,
i am so alone.
i am so alone, and
everyone is the same”
before diving off tall buildings.
“i have never felt so free”
and we get scored 8.7 by the judges.
“excellent technique. total commitment.
a shame about the landing”.
- d. richardson
Friday, July 24, 2009
I thought i was dreaming of reality
One that could exist and did in memory
But i can't put my finger on why or when
Yes we have been drinking
and i may have mistaken something as profound in this pop song
reminiscing of the time i don't remember
But that's the feeling i strive for
Scraping up what's left on the plate. What's left of a memory?
Rehashing the best times in life,
Working and waiting patiently for paradise
To arrive, sober and unforgettable
Then you stop me
Without thinking say you don't understand
"This talk is crazy man"
It could be more than a dream
It could be the alcohol
- A. Gosney
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
My concentration was broken momentarily as the tranquil segues of one Godspeed you! track into another were interrupted by the initial assault of Genghis Tron. I’d forgotten I was plugged in to my brand new technologically friendly aural transference device. Somewhat stunned, my gaze had drifted from the page only to gravitate (thanks
She blinked. I blinked. She smiled. I turned away. Attractive girls don’t dig philosophy majors. They want men who can bench press one-twenty and build a house. Well, design one anyway. Or at least tell you how it’s meant to stand up (this is why engineers aren’t as attractive as they might at first seem: they only appear to be able to do these things). I suppressed the thought and glanced at the clock, or at least would have had my roving eyes not strayed again. Several milliseconds too late I realised the pull of two larger objects had lured the gaze of my telescope. More embarrassed to have caught myself than to have been caught by another I flung myself back into Philosophical Investigations.
Attractive girls don’t appreciate staring. But why do they clothe themselves in such a way to encourage it? Maybe, under their disapproving moral scowl, they like the attention. I don’t think such issues are meant to be understood by mortal men. Or, at least, not by philosophers anyway. All of the best thinkers died alone, were gay, or at least suspect. Perhaps my heterosexuality explains my inability to produce striking original thought. Well, at least I can argue cogently, if not interestingly. Yet, maybe this explains my attraction to but successive failures with women: I am a philosopher at heart, but an engineer at loin.
The girl opposite coughed as she slid a thick book surreptitiously across the table between us. A paper tongue hung out of the pages of Foundations of Structural Engineering: A Beginner’s Guide. In handwriting that must have been an early prototype of Comic Sans was written “Your (sic) cute lol I think youd (sic) lyk (sic) my friend
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The ad in the paper said “Entry Level Sales – No Experience Required!!!”. Straight out of high school and with no idea what to otherwise do with my crappy life, this sounded pretty good to me. A few days later, I started my life as a door to door salesman, working for commission only – for the next month, my income would depend on an ability to sell useless crap to equally useless people. In hindsight, the 'intense!!!!!' level of exclamations featured in the job advert should have been some sort of warning. They should have been like the aposematic stripes on a mangrove snake, but I failed to take heed. The fact that I was working for a company quite possibly named after GI Joe villians (Cobra Corporation) should have given me a clue as the the desperation and hollow eyed, blank faced weeks that were going to follow. What I did find out is that to succeed in the world of “direct marketing”, you pretty much require two things – a bunch of energy, and a total lack of self respect. Sadly, they don't mention this in the job ads, and the period of time it takes for this fact to drop on you is about equal to the expected staff turnover rate.
After a few hours every morning learning how to better defraud people of their hard earner money in order to pay our rent, we were sent out into the suburbs with our product. What followed was eight hours spent penny-pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and convincing people (using techniques distilled from the latest in “REAL PSYCHOLOGY!!!”) of the fact that everyone they knew already had what we were selling, our product offered meaning and purpose in their otherwise completely devoid lives, and that only some sort of additional-chromosome mouth breather would turn down such an amazing offer. Or something like that. The fact that the exact opposite of what we said was true was never a consideration.
Wandering the streets all day with nothing for company but your own thoughts (mp3 players were banned), your mind can start to go down some interesting paths. Some kind of free roaming cabin fever type mental disaster. We spent days coming up with freestyle raps to diss co-workers with after the shift was over. Everyone contemplated the easy career change to doin' some burgs (burglary), and the weight of moral argument necessary for this flowed. From the sales role, you got all the angles. Sometimes the effort to offer the necessary smile at the next door you knocked on was as much mental activity as I could manage. Sidewalks can be a drag.
Most of the houses you'd visit were so generic that they quickly blurred into one jumbled mass of “fuck yeah that local sports team mate” middle class Christchurch. But, occasionally you'd come across the sort of twisted fuck-up or heartbreak that for about ten minutes seemed to make the job somehow more tolerable. Everything was a surrealists dream. I walked down one driveway and came to a man, pants down and whacking off, sitting on a mini motorbike with the front door wide open. He told me to come back later. I knocked on a door and met an old man with so much mildew rotted newspaper stacked up that the only visible floorspace was a path from the door to the kitchen. A Summerhill Stone duplex somewhere in Cashmere is home to a widow who shared tea, biscuits and her life story. I owe these people a massive debt, for killing the monotony.
Obviously the most disappointing thing about working door to door sales is the complete failure of the job to live up to the expectations created by the pornography industry. Never before has it been such a letdown to be invited inside for a drink by a complete stranger and receive just that. This is of course symptomatic of every shitty job ever worked – reality rarely lives up to expectations. You walk or you sit, you sell or you buy or you type or you file – either way, soon enough you're banging your head against walls, literally punching clocks, spitting and swearin' you're gonna quit. Find something new. I did this after a month selling useless crap, and in hindsight it was the worst decision of my life. I could have been something by now, damn it.
Monday, July 20, 2009
People are out of work, because of words. Global Financial Crisis. The Recession. Economic Downturn. These are the words that mean people have no jobs, and dole queues are getting longer. I am not an economist, and it isn't worth going in to the “why” of it all. Jesus, the job I'd do even attempting to explain it all would be horrible. Second rate. I think I'm still trying to get my head around what sub prime mortgages and mortgage backed debentures and all these things are. Maybe we are 'in recovery' by now – 'had a good quarter' and this sort of thing. It doesn't matter. People are increasingly broke. I don't even really know what I mean when I say this, but I feel it is probably the fault of “capitalism”, “the corporations” and “consumer society” that we are broke. Class consciousness // class war, and all that. I don't know. It doesn't really mean anything. Just labels attached to the idea that every single person is just trying to get ahead for themselves, I guess. Pretty much just want to tell people to go do some crimes, get ahead and scream 'fuck the world' while out stealing bikes. One way or another, we're getting paid:
Supermarkets are pretty much your prime target in a “stealing to get by because I lost my job because of the recession and I can't be fucked filling out three hundred and sixty eight WINZ forms” kinda way.
The first thing to say is that confidence is everything. It is almost necessary that you cultivate an attitude of entitlement to free shit. “Because of the corporations, man”. This is justification enough. You feel like you should be getting things for free. You don't have any guilt. You don't have the nervous, piss-smelling sweat of a nervous criminal. And so things become easier! Oh, and not dressing like some homeless dude helps too.
So, you're Sunday suited, optimistic and free of nerves. You walk into a supermarket – ideally with money on you so you can pretend you forgot to pay, in the unlikely chance of getting caught.
What you're after is small, expensive items. Things to eat, or things to use. Smaller things = easier to conceal. Expensive things = more “worthwhile”, in terms of the risk / payoff etc. This is all essentially asinine though – take whatever you want / need / think you can manage.
Basically, the most straight-forward way to go about things would be to get something off the shelf, wander around for some time, and then put it in a jacket / pants pocket. Obviously, bigger pockets are better for something like this. If something is too big for a pocket, under your armpit inside your jacket can be a good place. Look casual. Look like you're adjusting yourself with the item the hand is in, and let it go. It probably works best if you do this after walking away from where you picked the item up. But – this doesn't mean wander around the shop for fucking ages, and then leave with nothing. This is suspicious, and the goal is the opposite of that. The goal is to look like a normal shopper who was after something, couldn't find it and left. Not like some broke dude promoting goods because, well, he/she is a broke dude.
Maybe, though, you don't wanna just put shit in your pockets. Itchy nerves and paranoid melting faces maybe – heartbeats skipping in impossible rhythms at the very thought of it, maybe you need a quick fix and easy fix, something to just get you through the day? Melodrama. Lefthanding, I guess, works well in this situation. Even less risk. What you do, I guess, is buy something cheap from somewhere like a supermarket or chain store. Hold your purchase (and the money for it) in your right hand. Complete the transaction entirely with your right hand. But, what of the left hand? Is it nowhere to be seen in this transaction? Nah. Hold the stuff you wanna steal in your left hand, hanging low. Under the line of the counter – below view of the cashier who's punching in your right hand shit. The idea is that they won't see the item, and have less reason to suspect you of any crimes because you have made a purchase. Once you have paid for the items in your right hand, you keep walking, with the left hand item kept concealed. And if they catch you, excuses jump instantly - "I was gonna pay for it with another bank card and forgot" - "I just wanted to get a price check, sorry, I'm totally asleep today". You can add some “advanced mode” shit to this by filling a back full of groceries / other shit and lefthanding the entire thing, or using a skateboard to even better hide the left-hand stuff from the “prying eyes of big business / corporations / 'the man, man'.
The main point here is that confidence is everything. Most people working at places worth stealing from don't want to catch you – far too much hassle, and everyone involved gets embarrased. Plus, there is this general tendency to think the best in other people. Why not take advantage of the “oh he must have paid for that” assumption. A grand circle of evolutionary tendencies and interaction, boy oh boy.
Stealing doesn't have to mean just taking shit from a shop. Even though that is the definition of the word. This is misleading. What I am trying to say is that there are other ways to get free shit from shops, because you are broke or you hate everyone or whatever other fucking antisocial malaise which is kicking teeth and leading to “criminal mentality” these days. Alcohol taxes are going up, yet life is increasingly unbearable sober. We are awkward and unable to communicate. We are inhibited and boring and forget how to properly tell our best stories, and we are terrified of shadows. We are a generation where communication happens drunk or through endless copper wire. We need cheap liquor. This price rise / increased reliance is no coincidence and I think some sort of graph of correlation could be produced by someone with those abilities. But I can't offer graphs at this point in time.
Crate fraud / beer fraud will get you free beers. This is a promise. You just need a bottle capper, which you can buy at like brewing shops and places like that – a worthwhile investment. And then – the fraud. Next time you drink beers, open them gently. Save the caps, the packaging and the bottles. Obviously, drink the beer. Then, refill the bottles with water, re-cap them and glue the packaging back together. The idea is that it looks like a brand new box / crate of beer, but is actually filled with water. Now, you drive to the liquor store. You have the water-beer in the back seat of your car, and you go inside the store, and buy a box / crate of the exact same beer as the water-beer. Now you take it to your car. Now you pick up the water-beer in your car, and walk with it back in to the liquor store. You address the clerk, eyes hard and mind clear - “I bought the wrong beer for my flatmate. Do you mind if I swap it over real quick?”. You trade the water-beer for a box of actual beers. Two for the price of one. I think my favourite thing about this is that someone buys a dozen full of water, and the people at the shop are totally never gonna believe them. “These bottles were filled with water when we bought them!”. Maybe don't do this too often at your local liquor shop, else you'll get busted and look like a chump.
Pretty girls only date dudes who drink expensive wine. This is not true, but you can pretend it is and use it to justify ripping off supermarkets (which have self-checkout units) for expensive wine. This, unfortunately, requires technology and a small investment. Planning, planning, planning and effort also. Here is the general outline. Firstly, you need a scanner and a printer. Laser-jet is best, but any will do. Also, you need some sticker paper, to print on to. Once this is sorted, go out and buy the cheapest bottle of wine you can find. Then, you scan the barcode. And then, you print it out on sticker paper. Maybe at this point where this is going has become obvious. Next, you get a nice bottle of Château Margaux or whatever off the shelf, and cover its barcode with the one you printed out. Obviously, try be subtle about this. Then just self-checkout, and everything is done. Cheap wine that doesn't taste like the floor sweepings of bad Scrumpy and grape juice. This is pretty bourgeois, eh.
I hope all this makes sense and maybe results in free / cheap shit for anyone in need. Feel entitled, feel confident, don't get shook if anyone asks you about stuff, and you'll probably be fine. Or you'll get trespassed from the store or at worst eat a shoplifting arrest / charge, probably get diversion or community service and continue with your shitty life with absolutely no regrets. Sometimes things get overwhelming and you can feel like you're losing a race you never really agreed to run in the first place. And sometimes, you've gotta take shortcuts.
- ▼ 2009 (15)