Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Is a Liberal a Conservative who has lost his Health Insurance?

From Andrew Sullivan's reader Dissent of the Day:

The key to Republican success in the last few decades has been getting people angry enough about crap issues like flag burning and gay marriage that they'll vote against their own economic interests. Now we're staring into the abyss, and one of the good things that's happening is that those largely irrelevant social issues don't have the punch they used to have. If a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who's lost his health insurance. At that point, you don't really care that much who's sleeping with whom.

Nightmare Eminent Domain Case

Truly ugly eminent domain case in which José Meza, who built a successful chain of auto paint businesses, chose to "give back to the community" and continue to reside in his generally run-down hometown of Wilmington.  Out of 40 other possible sites, less costly to the taxpayer in both price and lost property tax revenue, the near-insolvent Los Angeles Unified School District chose to seize his anomalous dream home for an expansion project.

Google Map of property in question:
View Larger Map

Saturday, March 28, 2009

We're All Die Bitteren Now

A reader with a vivid sense of imagery writes in regarding the Job Fair From Hell:

Welcome to the New Economy and its "mobile workforce" with their "portable" skills. I get flashes of massed feedlot animals, slaves waiting to go on the block, naked Jews fresh off the cattle cars crammed into that big room waiting for the shower. Reminds me of my epiphany some years ago when I'd pedaled into darkest Silicon Valley for an interview, through that Hanna-Barbera Wonderland of condocomplex - minimall - officepark, over and over, getting more and more depressed. Stopped outside the glass box, said, "No way,  No more," and rode home by the scenic route. 

And Some Celebs Roll Their Own Twitter

Like Dave Navarro, male cougar and nascent pornographer formerly of Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who posts this worthy snap of himself getting inked:

Dave tweets on Mar 24: Best thing for a Vicodin withdrawal... Season 1 of Flight of The Conchords.  

Which allusion on a weekend is reason enough to post their Bowie Song:

Peek into Caterina Fake's Hunch

Caterina Fake's new startup, still in closed beta, with invitations available.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Only if his cabin were in Big Sur.

SF Chronicle's harlequin Mark Morford wonders if the End Times are finally nigh after years of Bushian overreaction. This is why I suspect the Right can get so paranoid at times - like a girl who is forever hysterically afraid she has put on two pounds - keep those standards frantically high, do lettuce and elliptical trainer penance immediately, and you won't end up obese. 

Just hack the Journolist already, so we can Move On.

Ezra Klein's private 300+ Journolist is still ruffling feathers days after its public exposure by Kaus - eerily foreshadowed by Wonkette publicly asking for password access.  I predict those offended will quickly become bored with the content after their sense of omnipotence is restored via compulsory, temporary transparency. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thanks for the link, Sully.

Andrew Sullivan, in his feature View From Your Recession, linked to my original post -  the reason I started this blog - to vent about the job seeking process in the current climate. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sully asks for a term other than "homophobe."

Andrew Sullivan wants a new term for the right, specifically Ed Whelan, to use for anti-gay animus. 

We have "misogyny" (hatred of women by men)  and "misogamy" (hatred of marriage). One can theorize that men who hate women are actually afraid of them, but that's taking a pop psychology leap that doesn't need to be taken. I'm perfectly comfortable taking misogynists at their word and leaving it at the level of hate. I don't necessarily consider them "gynophobic". 

So, accordingly, I offer "misosodomist"  -- though it's a bit of a tongue twister. "Misodomist" maybe? 

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Tato Nano: $2500 and 50 mpg

What's the difference between this and a smart car? I saw one of those on the highway keeping up. I'd be afraid to drive something this light on the freeway, but it'd be fine for bopping around the neighborhood doing errands. It's better than my sister's Gemcar which has little storage, no doors, can't handle hills, and only goes 26 mph. The worst is the windchill factor.  

And this is one of the beaches from which the waving occurs.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

If all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail Dept.

N.Y. Times Frank Rich comments on Larry Summers' chances of successfully hawking the plan to buy up toxic assets with the assistance of hedge funds after he both helped kill derivatives regulation during the Clinton admin and worked for the less-than-transparent D.E. Shaw.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Halfway through Lent, I'm hanging in there.

I gave up my favorite online forum (which shall remain nameless to protect the feelings of its members) for Lent. It had become a constant habit, a method of escape, a substandard coping mechanism. The neighborhood had degraded. It started off housing mostly university types and had become more run down until we were coping with the indigent and unwell. It had become a psych ward - which is fine in one sense. It provides a socialization outlet for those who have no other method and those who are sane and stick around can act as caretakers.

I was raised by soon-to-be ex-Catholics, so I was only mildly familiar with the history and practices. I am basically piggybacking on the spirit of the season. 

Lent Trivia
  • There's a Sunday loophole. On all Sundays of Lent you can indulge in whatever beloved yet pernicious habit you are giving up for the Lord.
  • Pretzels are kind of like the Lenten Matzoh for Catholics. Who knew?
  • Lent has become super wussy. Minimal participation is two fast days and meatless Fridays and if you're under 15 or over 59, you're excused completely.
  • So Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent. I never knew. And my parents were Catholic.
I was actually a bit envious of the mass ritual. I think it'd be cool to walk around with a cross of ash on your forehead and freak out your more secular co-workers and neighbors. It'd be like freaking out your parents' friends by coming home with a tat or pink hair as a kid, but in reverse. Speaking of which, my 2nd cousin, child of a minister, just returned home for a visit with a huge Seek and Ye Shall Find tat across his back. 

Niche Movie Alert: Frozen River

Watched Frozen River with Melissa Leo and Misty Upham last night.  Quirky, depressing subject matter, yet oddly compelling. Two single mothers, one white, one mohawk, get involved in smuggling aliens over the Canadian border through the Mohawk Nation into the United States in order to provide for their kids. The older brother played by Charlie McDermott brought back all my memories of how great older brothers can be.  The depictions of the tight, closed cycle of poverty are bleak, yet the outlaw aspect not only added cash, but adventure and an adrenaline rush to otherwise pretty grim lives. And it made the movie more absorbing - shades of a less cartoonish Thelma and Louise.

Along these lines, if you are feeling like a rainy day and hot chocolate movie with Native American themes, check out Thunderheart with Val Kilmer. Activist and poet John Trudell plays a Leonard Peltier type character.  I came across this on TV one autumn afternoon and ended up watching it pretty much all weekend.  I had seen it previously and just couldn't hook into it at all, but this time I was mesmerized. Perhaps the winter weather put me in the mood for the isolated and remote.

Job Fair @ the Strip Club

More opportunities than the L.A. Career Fair at least...

Just as Las Vegas is designed to have more losers than winners, at the lower limit the economy is structured to turn men into soldiers and women into sex workers - and the house always wins.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Los Angeles Career Fair 2009 - Hall of the Damned

Wow. I knew it wouldn't be good, but what shit was that? In both the interests of practicing my presentation skills and in deference to the suggestions of relatives who would have me humble myself in hair shirt ritual, I attended the 3/18 Los Angeles Career Fair at the airport Radisson promoted by nationalcareerfairs.com.  

Do you want to sell yuppie tupperware?Then this is for you. Would you like to explore opportunities selling crap jewelry, beauty products, credit card swiper systems - being paid only when you get a client? Then this is for you.  Are you interested in sweating to line up clients and recruits in a multi-level marketing finance scheme for a company that has incurred fines from the National Association of Security Dealers for fraud and misconduct? Then this is for you. Make sure you have a firm handshake, bright smile, dress appropriately, and have your résumé in order!!!

Welcome to the LA Career Fair at the Radisson where it costs $10 for parking in a lot so cramped that even though the parking is valet you'll still be worried your car will get dinged. I opted for a nearby free park at $13.15 for 2.5 hours.

The line to sign in stretched across the upper lobby and down the hall to the end of a very cramped corridor with no air conditioning. People in business attire fanned themselves with their brochures and résumés. A KCET reporter from SoCal Connected scurried around looking for a head of household so her network could pimp stories of family desperation to inflame pathos for media consumption. When most of the people in line informed her they were single, she moved on. Everywhere you went,  there was someone with a huge lens trained on you.

The only two booths that were attracting attention were Coke Bottling (grunt work display jobs) and Social Security. Though they were taking three at a time, the line for SS stretched from one end of the hall to the other like the line for the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. While waiting, I overheard a "career specialist" dispensing cookie-cutter résumé advice: "Lose the objective. It causes problems. Don't let them know you've been in business for yourself. They don't like that. They think maybe you want to be the boss." ( And this, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with HR. )

Out of the three hours the fair ran, it took fully an hour to get through the social security line at the end of which was a congenial governmental supervisor who told you that they had only just received their budget and wouldn't be hiring for the call center until the end of the month. Please submit your résumé, take a brochure, and apply online for all other positions.

What was the draw? Why the enormous, gigantic line?  "Well, look around," he said, "We're the only ones offering anything. Over there you have (unsalaried) sales, over there someone is helping people out with their résumés, we're the only ones offering anything real. The government is the only one with job security. "

And it was the sad truth. Almost everything there was a ripoff, a ruse, a scam. It was cruel to taunt people. World Financial Group was a particularly vicious example. With even precursory research, it is revealed to be a hardcore MLM scam (see here, herehere, and here). People are lured with visions of Series 6 and 7 training and tales of 30-yr-old branch supervisors making 200k per month. 

Founded by former Amway salesman Hubert Humphrey along with Primerica, WFG applies MLM techniques to the sale of financial instruments.  As with all MLM schemes, they sell inferior products, pressure you to recruit friends and family, and prey on the uneducated whose profits will go straight to supporting their "upline". The only way you make real $ is to sell the more inferior products and/or recruit more than three downlines and receive a percentage of their sales. By the end of it, many suckers have lost time, $, clients, and friends.

If there is indeed someone making 200K a month, it is as a shark on the backs of a pyramid of the desperate rather than providing any real value. The entire operation should be shut down by the authorities and it definitely should not be allowed a booth at a career fair.

Confronted directly about this essential difference with more legitimate companies, the older leader of the younger Asian cabal at the booth unashamedly dismissed it as "a different business model."  Uh, well, yeah. 

Relieved it was finally over, I was approached on my way down the stairs by what I took to be a surveyor for NationalCareerFairs.com, but who was actually yet another rep for World Financial Group scamming for potentials. Two blocks out to the parking lot, I was handed a flyer by what seemed to be an airport panhandler looking a step-and-a-half up from homeless - but NO!  It was WFG again. By now safely out of range of the cameras and cabal, I asked her how MLM and recruiting was working out for her.  Not too well, it would seem.

There were very few white people in the mix. I always wondered how white people would fair as a minority. I imagined that though the numbers would be less, it would be difficult because they'd still be bland. Wrong. Amidst a sea of varying shades of brown pigment and textures of black hair, a shift in perception occurs and white people, particularly young white males, become the exotics, like delicate, cherubic roses from a far away, more victorian time. Interesting.

On the way home, I coffeed at my favorite Starbucks across the street from the beach. A gaggle of down-to-earth, moneyed wives of leisure in REI gear and australian accents chattered merrily about the best places to eat in Kauai and frequent flier programs. The AIG bonuses were terrible as was Bernie Madoff signing over his money to his wife days before his arrest, they all agreed.