Monthly Archives: April 2009

Mason and the Car Companies


I read about them GM folks tankin the Pontiac and I got some pissed, just before I got the news that Chrysler was goin to tank the whole shebang.  Now I’s truly pissed.

Pontiac used to be a fine brand of car, back in the day when it was almost upscale from the a Chevy.  That’s how you told things about a person.  If they drove a Chevy, they were OK.  If they drove a Pontiac, they was doing well enough.  Drive an Oldsmobile and you might have been almost wealthy, while the Buick driver was someone who had’er made.  Caddy?  Pimps, doctors and funeral directors drove’em.

It was sort of the same with the Ford and Mercury cars and the Plymouth, Dodge and Chrysler.  But that was a long time ago and things were simpler back when I was a lad, back before metricalization when breaking the ton meant goin more than 100 miles an hour. 

Nowadays you break the ton on the highway just gettin to Timmies, but she’s measured in kilometers, so’s it don’t count.  Oh and Ethyl Lead was on the pumps.

I has had a bunch of cars over time.  First one I remember was a 54 Pontiac with a sun visor over top.  Body By Fisher and black as a well-diggers arse at midnight she was.  Bought it used and it’d overheat in the winter.  I sold it when the head warped like Bobby Hull’s stick. 

There was another Pontiac if I recall rightly, a 1978 Phoenix before they went all front-wheel drive toy cars.  Motor was out of a Buick originally but they slapped a Pontiac badge on it.  Had a high-windin six holer and would go like hell if you pushed her.  Wrote that one off twice, one in a crash and the other time when it rusted out and I couldn’t find enough metal for the pop rivets to keep the cops off my back.  It had a plywood passenger floor for a while. 

I think Gary used it up to the farm to haul wood for a few years, then it just up and died when he forgot to put oil in it three years in a row.

Which I think is my way of sayin, I’m sad about Pontiac going away.  Now the Pontiac is either a Holden out of Australia or some Korean piece of crap that they badge up as anything they want.  Pontiac, Chevy, Kelvinator, Viking.  GM’d label a bag of bread as a Pontiac if there was a buck in it. 

Which I think is whats wrong with GM and Chrysler.  For so long they’d sell crap and we’d buy it, so they stopped tryin. 

Sometimes a good one would slip out.  Back in the 80’s Chevy Canada had built a bunch of cars for Iran, with three on the tree, air, and all the heavy duty suspension out of the cop car division. 

Then some hostage thing happened and they couldn’t ship them to Iran.  Some of the dealers got’em really cheap. 

Problem was they were all in colors like Fawn Green and Chemo Piss Yellow.  As long as you could hold with your friends laughing at you, they were tough, plain bench seats and like friggin anvils.  You had to really work at breakin them.  Which told me they could make a good car if they wanted to, but didn’t.  

Since the disability I don’t have a car no more, as the MTO isn’t keen on my drivin, but I do get into the cars of friends and taxis and the occasional bus, so’s I still keep up.  Most I’ve been in are too small by half and have a motor what sounds like you run a frozen squirrel through a planer, if they make any noise at all.

Davey’s got some appliance from Nissan these days, but she goes well enough for a city car, which is where he does most of his drivin.   

I’d give a buck for a 72 Ford LTD Wagon about now, with that nasty old blue oval 400 what came with the trailer option.  But no fake wood kit, thanks.  Room for at least a dozen cases, all the camping gear and six buddies going away for the May 2-4 weekend.  There was room on the roof rack and the back-back fold down seat well could hold enough Palm Breeze to make Saturday go away for good. 

If you stepped on it, you could hear the secondarys open up and suck the leaves off the trees.  Take out the air filter and you’d scare the pukes on Carling Ave with a station wagon that’s smoke both rears, as the trailer package had a Locker in’er.

I guess that things have changed a lot.  Gas is pricey and the parking spaces aren’t rightly built for a station wagon no more.

Which kinda makes me sad with Pontiac going away and Chrysler goin down the tubes. 

They could’ve done right, but didn’t choose to.

   

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Mason Baveux and the Flu


Davey said I could write some more, as he’s still goin like the Battery Bunny on that course he’s writing.  You know, this is hard this bloggery stuff, as you got to think some and do some hunting out the facts.

Like this swine flu.  Everyone’s all up on their back legs that Mexican pigs are going to kill us all with a flu that’ll make your gonads drop off and your eyes turn to cinders just before you wake up at the pearly gates and say what th’ hell was that?

First off, you can’t get it from pigs, even Mexican pigs, so’s its still OK to eat the bacon, or the roasts, or the chops.  It’s called a swine flu as that’s one of the places it came from.  Apparently, she’s also a bit of bird flu and just your normal, garden variety, human flu. 

Flu, yessiree, she’s flu, but the swine part, is like calling all cars Martha’s Arse, as it’s got a big trunk what bounces open from time to time.  It’s still just a car and your car ain’t the same as my car.

Now, as for how you get the Mexican flu?  Well, I looked her up, as Davey said I had to.

When somebody sneezes on you, there’s a bunch of microscopic snots and wet spots what come flying out.  That’s where the little flu bugs live.  On the snots and wet spots. Not that kind of wet spot.  These are microscopic small wet spots what you need a microscope for to see’em.

The bugs can live outside your body for a while and that’s how they get from one person to the other.  They need a way into your body and here’s how they do it.  You know when you got one of them dry air February boogers back in there, that feels like you’ve got a half a tablespoon of pearl barley up your nose? 

Well, as soon as you go diggin, the flu bugs what you might have on your finger decide “Jeeze that’s a fine booger vault, I’ll go live there”, then they jump off while you’re up to the second knuckle.  Or, if you rub your eyes.  Or eatin a sandwich.  That’s all she takes.  One little bug and only one time, in just one place in.

Once inside, the little bugger starts multiplying like Evangelicals without condoms.  Soon you got the shits, the shakes, the pukes and the snots.  That would be the flu.  Any flu.  Swine, Bird, Fish, Sofa, 24 bottle, 40 ounce, five day, ten day, don’t matter.  The flu.

The scary damn part is all the things what live on your hands.  Now do some thinking.  How many door handles, elevator buttons, excalator hand rails, titless tellers and other things do you touch every day? 

It’s a jeezly big number and then add up all the other people what touched them just before you and just after.  Another jeezly big number, but with a capital J.  Jeezly big. 

Up the line here, it’s not as much as a problem, but in the city now, think of just the excalators in the Subway.  Everybody holds onto them and I’s willing to bet there’s some prick what’s just cleaned his cat’s litter box then gone to work and not so much as spit on his hands.  On that excalator is the bugs from his cats arse goin round and round just waitng for someone to glom onto.  Well, the same’s true for the flu bugs. 

Next time you’re out shopping or going to work on the transit, pull your head out of your arse for a moment and look around.  Folks coughing and sneezin and not so much as a hanky or kleenex in front of their pie and snot holes, spraying crap everywhere. 

All it takes is one prick with the swine flu is to sneeze one off at the Danforth station and he’s gone and thrown a zillion bugs all over the place, right next to a couple of hundred other folks on the Subway.

Davey told me something a while back.  There’s an international airport in Toronto, what gets flights from all over the world.  In twenty-four hours, maybe less, he could be in Bangkok, havin sharkfin soup, then be back in Toronto the next day, having been walking around half-way round the world, then right back to his place in Mississauga, exposed to every goddam bug you could imagine.  All it’d take is money and time and not a lot of skill, except being bored stupid long enough to take the airplanes.

Now, if I’da gone to Bangkok, it wouldn’t be for no soup.  And it wouldn’t be just for a day.  I think what he’s trying to say is that we’re awful close to everyone else these days and there’s not much we can do about it, except look out for ourselves first.

You know your mom told you to wash up after using the shitter.  There was a reason she told you that.  It was to get them invisible bugs off your skin.  Soap and water.  It ain’t complicated.  Soap and water.  Even I get it.

Second, them Nurse Nancy masks?  Ain’t worth a shit.  The flu bugs are smaller than Harper’s brain and some piece of cloth won’t stop much but the big chunks.  And the bugs can still get in through your eyes, as the tear ducts are all connected up to your sinuses and a moist like a nose hole.  The Swine Flu don’t care.  Swallow’em, breathe’em, rub’em.  Don’t matter. 

There are masks what are designed for stopping the flu bugs, but they gotta fit perfectly every time and they’re not cheap.  Like $10-$12 a go and if they’re off of place just a bit, whoops!  In comes the Swine Flu, and that’s assuming there’s none on your hands, what’s been on the excalator on the Subway with fourteen thousand of your closest friends this morning.

So’s it looks to me like about the only way you can not get any bugs is to wrap yourself in drycleaner plastic for the next forty days and live in the basement, under a tarp.

Instead of that, how bout this:

If you’re gonna sneeze or cough, cover your goddam face with a hanky, or a kleenex or cough into your arm.  Something.  Anythng.  Don’t just let’er wail all over everyone.  Ain’t polite and ain’t healthy neither.  I don’t want your snots and wet spots, thanks.

Two:  Wash your goddam hands with soap and water a lot.  They say it takes a full fifteen seconds to wash your hands right.  Just slucing off the piss drops isn’t good enough.  Soap’em up and rinse them off.  Your hands I mean.

Three:  Don’t be licking door handles, unless you know where’s the door handle’s been and who’se been touching it in the last couple of weeks.

Four:  If you’ve got the flu, stay the hell home.  If you sneeze on me, you’re going to find out what bugs I’ve got on my right hand, as I’m gonna punch you one in the mouth, ya inconsiderate arsehole.

Five:  Beer is always around 5 percent alcohol, which is plenty to kill the flu bugs, if your pour beer on your hands.  That’s a terrible waste of good beer.  Too bad you can’t kill the flu bugs by drinkin the beer, as I could get behind that kind of medicine.

Six:  I got nothing here, so’s I guess I’m done.  Thanks for reading.  Now go wash your hands.      

 

Mason Baveux Catches Up


I’m up against some deadlines at work, so I got our esteemed pinch-hitter Mason Baveux to fill in.  I’ll be back as soon as possible.  Mason? 

Thanks now Dave.  We got some catching up to do here, so we’re goin to do it like short snappers for ten points.  Get your hand on the buzzer, as here we go!

Economy:  In the shitter.  Bad like.  There’s been all kind of stories about folks gettin laid off for nothing worse than having to take an afternoon off to get a spear out of their skull.  That ain’t right.  Turn up pregnant?  Kiss you job good bye and to hell with what the laws says.  That really ain’t right.

Pensions:  If it weren’t for the disability, I’d a been down at the Queens Park today offereing to give Dolthead McGuinty a spare hole.  Them folks at GM who paid into the pensions for 30 years damn well deserve their full pension.  They paid into it, GM agreed to match the money and the Province agreed to insure it.  What the hell are we still talking about it for? 

Dolthead gets his pension, no matter what, so’s what so different about a GM worker or a guy who spent 35 years on the line at Chrysler.  Friggin lawyers.  Do whats right Dolthead, as you ain’t Mike Harris, or is you?

The Leafs:  Don’t make me laugh, my lips are chapped.  Same with the Sens.  I’ve seen better jokes at the amputee mime festival.  The Canadiens are goin’ golfing shortly.

Harper:  He’s was douchebag during the campaign.  Still is.

RCMP Zapping people:  Seems like someone can’t get their stories straight at that Robby Dzerchansky inquiry.  They put the tazer to him five times, when all the really needed to do was put the boots to him.  I ain’t met anyone yet, no matter what language they speak, who don’t understand a nightstick across the forearm and a boot to the nuts.  It means get the hell down and shut the hell up. 

But noooo, the Mounties have to go all technical and wind up electrocuting the guy five times.  No wonder he’s dead but then the Mounties can’t get their stories straight.  Jeeze lads, look at the effin tape and at least try to be close to what you see.  If you frigged it all up, at least say so.  All I hear is four guys tap dancing around the facts so hard they’re wearing out the carpet.  Man up a bit.

Conquest Vacations going mammaries up:  I don’t know about that, but i bet someone is gettin paid twice.

Obama:  So far, so good.  He’s running 6 for 10 so far, but at least he’s talking about draggin Cheney into court with Rumsfeld and a couple of other arseholes.  ‘Cept the economy is in the ditch and the bankers are laffin’ all the way to their Swiss bank accounts.  I’d be draggin in some bankers too. 

Roll Up The Rim:  Timmy’s did their contest again.  I didn’t win so much as a free Dutchie, never mind the SUV or the lotion massage from Charlize Theron.

Mexican drug lords:  Fer shiite sakes lads, if there’s money to be made, there’s someone whats going to get a gun and steal it.  We been fightin a War on Drugs since Ronnie Regan and we haven’t so much as won a battle, let alone the war. 

Give it up.  Sell it like booze, except you need to show ID every time, then tax the snot out of it, like smokes.  If you want to go all wacky on the tabaky, go for it.  Just don’t drive the car.  Stay home and get all stupid as much as you want. 

I’m thinking we need more stupid people as our leaders, as the ones what are supposed to be really smart, sure haven’t done that good.  Maybe its time for the stupid to give’er a go

Seasons:  I smelled that Spring smell a couple of weeks ago. Smells like dog poop thawing out, so’s it must be spring here.  That and the flooding in Manitoba are usually a dead giveaway that I can get my summer hat out.  That would be the CAT hat, instead of the Wilton Cheese hat. 

Wind turbines:  A note to the guys what want to run all the electricity off them wind turbines?  Don’t put’em too close to houses until we figure out if people gettin the shakey jakes from the turbines is real or fake.  Rather than putting up one big jeezly one, maybe two or three smaller ones might do’er.

Susan Boyle:  She’s a fine figure of a woman and can sing like an angel.  Even if she goes all Hollywoody and gets her own reality show, I still like how she sings.  Until she cold-cocks her personal assistant with a cell phone, give her a break.

Bacon:  It it just me, or is bacon getting so thin you can do shadow puppets through it.  In my day, bacon actually had more than two dimensions.  Now what they’re calling bacon looks like a photo of bacon that you can eat.  I want the old kind of bacon, that you could actually pick up without it shattering like Mrs. Bernies hip replacement.

Omar Khodder:  (I don’t think I spelled his name right there, but you know the guy I mean.  The one the Americans put in Gitmo when he was fifteen)  Bring him home, as he’s Canadian and was a kid soldier.  Stick him in Millhaven if you want, but we look after our folks first.  I’m not saying he’s not guilty, or guilty, but after five years the Americans can’t even prove he was there, so somebodies bullshitting us.  Oh, thats right.  Douchebag Harper is our Prime Minister, so what the courts say don’t matter none.

Cell Phones:  It is just me, or does everyone have one growing out of their heads these days.  I swear I saw an infant in a stroller goin “goo goo” on his cellphone to him mom, not four feet away, who was on her cellphone.  If that keeps happening, the next generation is going to have one arm that’s only five inches long, just enough to hold a phone to their ear.  Maybe somebody should teach the kids how to fly kites or catch frogs.

That’s all I got. I know Dave’s been busy, so’s I might get to write more.  It’s up to him.

 

 

Happy Birthday ARPANet


Light a candle and open the bubbly as today is the 40th anniversary of Request For Comment 1 for the ARPA Network.  The date was April 7th, 1969.

Essentially this means it is the Birthday of the Internet (with the capital I), this collection of components that allows you to read what I’m posting.  Underlying all this technology was the original thinking of how do we get computers to send and receive messages from each other.  To be more accurate, RFC 1 is the beginning of talking about how to get computers talking in real time.

Forty years later, broadband connectivity is common enough in many countries, that it is taken for granted, like safe water, clean food and air that can actually be inhaled without too many undue effects.  Which also explains that ‘puter on your desk and you reading the posting of some wank in Mississauga, even though Mississauga is several thousand kilometres away for some of you.

In the Olde Days, pre-NCSA Mosaic, networks like FreeNet, GEnie, Compuserve and AOHell provided the platform for rudimentary communications between regular humans.  BBS’s flourished, offering almost-real-time communications and an array of boards for every possible subject you could imagine.  There were also some boards you didn’t want to imagine. 

With those first rudimentary connections, you could talk with someone on the other side of the world, from a different culture and mindset, albeit using text, but communicating just the same.  Conceptually, we would know the Other Folks better, because we’ve sat down and had a virtual coffee with them, knowing that their fears, worries and joys are very much the same as our fears, worries and joys. 

Conceptually, we would become closer as a species, able to navigate the wisdom of the best and the brightest, posted online, for all to see.  Libraries of the collected knowledge would flourish, providing the reference works and links to other sources that would speed the development of such wonders that we wouldn’t be able to recognize ourselves in a decades’ time.

And we could swap recipes, of course, as that was always the real reason you spent a several thousand dollars to get one of the earliest Personal Computers.  You are finally going to organize those recipes, aren’t you?   

So, with this magical pipe, what have we managed to create that would make the initial commentators to RFC 1 proud of us?

Well, there’s porn.  409/Nigerian Bank scams.  Live stock market feeds.  Google as a noun and verb. (nous googleons, ils googlent)  ASCII Art.  LOLCats.  Goatse.  Ebaums soundboards.  Online poker.  Facebook.  Hulu’ing America’s Funniest Home Videos.  EagleCams.  iPods.  Smiles.  iPhone.  Crackberry.  ILoveYou viruses. More porn.  Work from home scams.  Amazon rankings.  Ebay rankings.  Alexa rankings.  Technorati rankings.  craigslist.  LLBean.  Online support groups for Everything.  TwoGirlsOneCup. Celebrity info up the rear portcullis.  Ananova.  Astrology for your pets.  Babelfish. Twitter.  Wikipedia and its tremulous grip on facts.  DrudgeReport.  Elf Bowling.  Java Choplifter.  Flash movies.  More porn.  Printed newspapers falling like leaves.  Webisodes.  Fanboy groups.  The collected wit of David Hobbs.  Massive Multiplayer Online Games/Groups/Societies/Civilizations.  Solitaire.  Avatars. Bejewelled.  And porn.

How did we do? 

                  

The Beatings Will Continue (Until You Decertify)


With GM and Chrysler taking union bashing to new heights, it is incumbent to examine exactly why.  Especially since Air Canada is circling the drain again and will start mooing and beeping about union contracts.

First off, by way of disclosure, I have been a dues-paying union member in the past, specifically CUPE and NABET in previous careers, but I have also been a small business owner.  Yes, I am a capitalist.  Yes I believe that profit is good.  Damn good.  And yes, I have seen how unions work.  Calm down and take a few deep breaths ok?

The reason unions first came into being was because employers treated their cattle better than they treated their employees.  Only a few generations ago, being killed on the job was considered normal.  The employer would cuss and say “You shiftless buggers cost this company a half-days’ production so you could remove what was left of McGarry’s remains from the machinery.  What the hell does he need a Christian burial for now?  We’re taking the cost of repairs out of his last day’s wages.  No, his wife can’t have the day off for the funeral.  Back to work!”   

Only a generation or two ago, being shot or beaten for mentioning the word ‘union’ or ‘collective bargaining’ was common.  Many industries had company police who made sure that organizers got their heads cracked on a regular basis.  Go ask any old-time mine worker (if there’s any left alive now) about the old days.

The old joke is is “What did a union ever do for us?”  The five-day work week.  Pensions.  Health Care.  Maternity Leave.  Occupational Health and Safety Standards.  Limits on hours of work.  Standards of Employment. Employment Equity and Fairness.  Minimum Wage.  Employment Insurance. These are all things that unions fought to get and still fight for.    

An aside:  The obvious reason a business gets a union is because they have a history of treating their people like crap.  Well-treated, engaged, fairly-compensated employees rarely form unions.  It isn’t complicated:  Treat the employees with respect, even in tough times and they tend not to go union. 

Unionization adds a layer of complexity, but simplifies things at the same time.  Both sides get a set of written rules to play by in the form of a contract:  You do this, we do this and this is the way we settle problems.

To be fair and balanced, unions have also crossed the line a few times.  One situation I know about was a company called Taggart Transport.  The owner was a former driver who made it big, owned his own fleet and understood the people working for him.  The owner paid more than the union contract and treated his people well.  Consequently he has a successful medium-large size, profitable, business.   

Any time a particular union (the name you could guess) tried to organize Taggart, the Taggart drivers would shrug and say no thanks.  Why sign up for less money per hour and have to pay dues on top of it?  There was more than one occasion when bad things would happen.  The true finesse move was tying a length of rope to a concrete block and making sure it was at windshield height on the opposite side of an overpass. 

If a Taggart rig was whistling down the then-new 401 expressway, for some reason, that tethered concrete block would fall off the overpass and wind up in front of the truck.  Of course the physics involved in a 30 pound concrete block hitting the windshield of a truck doing 60 miles an hour would be quite the attention grabber.  One could call it a unique form of communications, the message being “Sign a union card, or die.”  It didn’t help the union to recruit any new members.

In Canada, unions have generally been level-headed.  The British union mindset of walking off the job for six weeks because someone moved a lunch box never really played out here.  The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) has very much been a partner with GM, Ford and Chrysler, in holding down wages and increasing productivity, as well as cutting benefits for retired workers, rolling back hours and doing everything rational and reasonable to help the auto makers stay in business. 

Reality doesn’t actually matter in the court of Pubic Relations, as the bottom falls out of GM and Chrysler.  All that matters is someone else is to blame for the crap products and unions are as handy a target as any.  At least this time the Big Three are not screaming about the Yellow Peril of Japanese imports.

Which leads us to the future of unions.  For many the simple act of having a job is a good thing these days.  Even if you are treated like a piece of dirt by an employer whose definition of being supportive is to demand more unpaid overtime and threaten to fire you if you don’t agree, you shut up and keep working.

In that kind of nasty corporate culture, the only people who get anything are the workplace consultants.  The company wakes up one day and figures that morale is low.  So they hire a consultant who gives out $1 coffee mugs with “Teamwork” emblazoned on the side and demands that the company run ‘quality circles’ to improve productivity and morale. 

The consultant pockets big fees, the employer gets to feel like he’s done something and the folks who do the work look for another job; not caring if the company lives, dies, or engages in a form or matrimony with a barnyard animal.  That kind of company will go under, the owner complaining about how disloyal his people were and how crippling labour costs can be.

I call Bullshit.  Management is where the mistakes are made.  The union folks at GM didn’t design the Pontiac Aztek, winner of the Most Hideous Car for four years running.

Nobody from the CAW decided to give Celine Dion a zillion bucks to be the spokesmeat for the Chrysler Pacifica.  Do you know anyone who actually owns a Chrysler Pacifica?  FEMA bought the last of them and uses them as temporary housing in New Orleans now that the trailers have rotted out. 

Nobody with a union card insisted that GM import the Daewoo Douchebag (a car that even Koreans laugh at) and rebadge it as the Chevy Sphincter.

Nobody in a union at Ford could have engineered the Ford Aerostar, Windstar and Freestar that badly, even as a gag, while drunk.  Listen closely and you can hear them rust away on a damp day.   

But we’re going to punish the unions just the same.