Thursday, 30 October 2008

Feeding the machine

[Sainsburys, 5 items or less]
[A customer proffers her goods and prepares to pay.
The Sainsbury's operative feeds a national lottery form into the national lottery terminal. The national lottery terminal spits it out.
The operative feeds the form back in. The terminal spits it out.
The operative turns it upside down and feeds it in. The terminal spits it out.
The operative turns it upside down again - so that it is now the right way up again - and feeds it in. The terminal spits it out.
The operative sighs and turns it upside down again and feeds it in. The terminal spits it out.
The operative sighs and glares at the world in general. She looks at the form.
Operative [angry tone]: This form's blank.
Customer [bored, resigned]: Yeh?
Operative [emphatic]: This form's blank.
Customer [bored, resigned]: Yes, you said
Operative: This form's blank. Why did you give it to me?
Customer: I didn't give it to you.
Operative: You must have done
Customer: If you say so. Can you take the money for my shopping?
Customer2: Hear, hear. I'd like you to take my money
Operative: I'm busy with this customer. If you didn't give it to me, why have I got it?
Customer: I don't know. Perhaps you made a mistake
Customer2: I made a mistake standing here. Here's the money
Operative: You can't take anything till I've scanned it
Customer2: Can't wait. It's Christmas in two months [He goes. The operative glares at his back]
Customer: He's right. Time is passing. Please take my money.
Operative: So you don't want a lottery ticket?
Customer: No!
Operative: I'm only trying to do my job, madam

Monday, 20 October 2008

greedy idiotic investors

It is only a few days since it was being suggested that everything we hold dear financially - and what else is there? - was about to collapse; but already the moaning is starting. At the end of last week, the Today programme gave air time to a man who demanded "fair" treatment for "ordinary investors" who had lost out - as they see it - in the government subsidy to banks.

By and large these are people who voted for demutualisation of their building societies. Some of them actually joined the building society(ies) in order to benefit. That is, they joined without any prior participation solely to vote to change the nature of the society for their own benefit.

Was that fair?

They hoped to gain (a) free shares from the vote (b) profit from the anticipated rise in share price as the demutualised society behaved in a predatory manner.

The idiot of whom I speak claimed that they - the shareholders - were "creating wealth"...

Now this is a statement of belief, not reason.

You can't argue with such an idiotic statement; but it is a widely made statement. It deserves as much respect as any other statement of belief which attributes a priori rights to the believers. It deserves no respect.

It should be obvious to anyone more intelligent than a long deceased rat that profit is made by taking from others more than one has expended.

You paint my house or cook my food or whatever it is, while I do something else, then I recompense you. That's fine.

You buy something and then charge me over the odds for it. That's theft. That's wealth creation.

The building societies were set up as an alternative to the banks. They were a way of freeing ourselves from their exploitation. Those who destroyed almost all the building societies were capable of knowing what they were doing. They were seeking to grab other people's money and other people's way of housing themselves; they were probably justifying it to themselves by telling themselves and each other that those of us who voted against demutualisation were losers.

For me, one of the few enjoyable things about what has happened, whatever happens in the long run, is that these childish, grasping, destructive people have lost some or all of their investment, an investment they made just to benefit themselves unfairly. I might think otherwise if they showed remorse. Instead they behave like noisy children having a tantrum in the supermarket.

Let them eat angel delight.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Idiot listening

New Cross Road, late afternoon. At any time of day this is a dangerous road. The traffic lights are timed short so that there is barely time for a young and fit pedestrian to cross before the traffic starts again; cyclists jump the lights and abuse those who get in their way; the police drive at alarming speed with deafening alarms; et cetera. And at this time of day people want to get home.

A young man wearing what turn out to be noise-excluding headphones wanders across the road. People shout at him because he isn't walking in a straight line; but he can't hear them.

When he gets to the midpoint of the crossing, he has a thought, for want of a better term, and pauses. The lights change. The traffic begins to move. He walks at an unexpected angle. He gets in people's way. They panic. He stops. People push him. He swears at them. He walks back the way he has come. More people push him. He becomes self-righteously angry. He can't hear anything except the private world of his music.

A woman rides her bike along the crowded pavement and tries to jump it into the station, over the step. When walkers complain, she doesn't hear them because she has headphones on; but she does get angry when they get in her way.