CNET has amongst the most inept writers of the tech world but their blogger at The Digital Home is a gem. What a dork! In a recent post, he moans about his lousy experience during the last days of Circuit City — duh! as if the notoriously incompetent salesmen would all of a sudden pull out MBA skills just before their company goes bye-bye…

At the beginning of his long, rumbling, pompous, indigestible prose — even before he gets to meet one of the poor employees — a couple of a paragraphs stand out where the bore shares with us his horrid needs and anguishes and his internal conflicts:

I need a new HDTV. Usually, I buy my HDTVs from Amazon.com because I’ve found it has the best prices and delivery service. But since I knew Circuit City was going out of business, I decided to make a trek down there to see if there were any hidden gems at a good price. Signs said the TVs were 30 percent off, and when I looked around, I realized the inventory wasn’t picked over, as I had feared. There were some nice Sony LCDs on the shelves, as well as Panasonic plasmas.

I was drawn to the Panasonic TH-58pz800u, which was on sale for approximately $2,600 at the store. I own the 50-inch model of that plasma and couldn’t be more pleased with its quality. So when I saw it offered at such a discount, the wheels started turning and I was thinking about how I was going to be able to fit it into the back of my SUV.

I mean! We are on the verge of a worldwide financial collapse; employees get kicked out of their jobs without consideration; families lose their homes, and this young man tries to get us interested in how he’s going to load a $2600 58-inch plasma TV into his SUV to replace his freakin’ 50-inch?!

Who the heck is going to read that? My boss?

These are the comments I left on his column…

I have never seen such beautiful poetry. Your art lifts up our spirits in these times of need. When the world is crumbling around, you continue to hold high the best of the American values. Thank you.

- Homo Consumerus

 

Years of enjoyment. Never obsolete.
Years of enjoyment. Never obsolete.

 

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Pierre left for the office today, and 4 hours later, he walks back in through the door. Why did Pierre return early?

“I got laid off today” he says, walking through the hall, going about his busyness.

That’s just great news. Pierre, the guy who only 3 months ago moved from San Francisco to Sebastopol in order to be close to his job, no longer has a job.

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We moved for the stability, and because it’s a good place to raise kids. But most of all, we moved here because Pierre had been guaranteed one year of job security by his company. It wasn’t like we were on tenterhooks taking precautions should Pierre get the axe (like so many are these days). Then a mere three months and $12,000 in relocation expenses later, Pierre is told to pack up and leave. Bye Pierre, you’re on your own, dood!

 

“Can we buy organic with food stamps?”
“Can we buy organic with food stamps?”

 
The lay off itself does not upset me — economy changes — things happen. The one thing that does is that Pierre was laid off with only 2 weeks notice. No vacation pay. No severance package. No more insurance. Not even the computer that was given to him while on the job (not standard in the industry).

Manu & I dressed for the Women’s Shelter
Manu & I dressed for the Women’s Shelter

Okay, so we panic a little the first day and Pierre jumps on-line to research his options in creating time for us to live while he gets another job. He finds several possibilities. Yay!

 

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So, 2 weeks to find another job, insurance & doctors for the kiddos in another county, 2 weeks to move, lose $3500 in deposit, find a place to live, come up with another $6000 of move in cost out of our fairy dust butt holes.

 

On an aside and calmer note, Pierre and I aren’t too worried because we realize that we’re fortunate enough to have all the advantages that our age, education, resources and our continual good luck bring us.

Pierre is getting responses from good companies, and I’m trying to get my work in galleries. I like Sebastopol. I like being a stereotype family in a quaint little town with a little nanny, a house cleaner, babies, dog parks, and a main street that really is called “Main St”. How fucking awesome is all that? Now we might be homeless in a month.

Well then, as Kurt Vonnegut says, “Hi, Ho”.

As Edith Piaf says, “La Vie en Rose”

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My friend Daniel pointed to that chart from Time Magazine showing the unemployment figures from the past 6 recessions in the US. The current recession is in blue (click for a larger image).

Scary, eh?
Scary, eh?

 

Just today, forecasters announced that they expect the unemployment rate, currently at 7.6%, to hit a peak of 9% this year. “Even in the best-case scenario, with the recession ending sometime in the second half of this year, employment conditions will be tough.” By simply extrapolating the curve, here is what it gives.

It hurts, eh?
It hurts, eh?

 

Now, continue to read the same article and towards the bottom, they say that they expect the unemployment rate to hit 10% next year. This time, we are completely out of the charts!

Everybody for himself!
Everybody for himself!

 

My comments on Daniel’s blog to the first chart were:

If you draw the tangents to the curves, you can see how the declines (and in a large degree the recoveries also) became less and less steep over time in each one of the 5 last recessions. The growing size of the US economy and the interconnections with the rest of the world may have played a role to damp down the crises (a corollary being that modern morasses might not be as deep as they used to but we stay in it longer).

Now I find it worrisome that the current recession is plunging as steeply as the steepest one from the 1970’s, knowing that we (the US) are taking the rest of the world down with us and there isn’t anybody else to cushion the fall. We might very well still be in it in 5 years from now. Or 10. Thank you, George Bush!

After looking at the last chart, I can smell at least 5 more years of merde.
Or maybe, it’s just time to change the kids…
We’ll still be in it when they outgrow their diapers, for sure!
 

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It’s becoming worse by the day! A particularly bleak report from the San Francisco Chronicle, under such titles as “A global calamity” and “Banks are in denial“, now quotes economists warning that “Americans can expect unemployment to reach 11 or 12 percent“. 12 percent!? Let’s extrapolate some more! Here is what 12% looks like:

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Journey to the Center of the Earth

 

As a note to my European friends, you have to consider that an unemployment rate of 12% in America isn’t at all like the same rate in France or elsewhere. Here, it really is catastrophic! The unemployment benefits are extremely meager and expire after 4 months. In the San Francisco Bay Area, you can’t even pay the rent with what you get, plus you don’t have health coverage when you are jobless (or you have to pay for your own: $1000/month for a family of four + $50 per doctor visit).

A severe recession in America means that entire families are thrown to the street. It’s one of the things that still baffles me about the country and I don’t know what their God and their Jesus think about that. Sometimes I ask a Republican but their response is always the same. They sigh and say with a deeply empathetic voice: “I know… It breaks my heart so much to see these poor people… I pray to God they’ll find a solution… I’m sure they will…” but then they turn around and go vote for the same guys who maintain that the country needs to give more money to the rich in order for it to trickle down to the poor. Dupes. Heartless dupes.

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Pierre & I drive through the Castro District in SF, and often we imagine what it would be like for a young guy who has grown up in an insular town, who has had to hide his sexuality or suffer torment and violence, to arrive for the first time in SF and walk through the Castro .

Clean as a middle aged man’s bottom.
Clean as a middle aged man’s bottom.

The sidewalks and thoroughfares of the district are a stage for anyone, particularly gays, to openly show some serious affection without fear of reprisal from the intolerant. You can even use philanthropic excuses to take off all your clothes and show off your hot pelt like these guys! (photo anon.)

Like half the stores and bars cater to the gay lifestyle with names like “Does Your Mother Know?” Or the “The Lookout”, all under a giganto, rainbow flag of pride blowing huge above the district.

Equality looks good in white.
Equality looks good in white.

I was lucky enough to be driving by the court house the day after the same-sex marriage bill passed. I jumped out and headed toward these 2 men with my camera. The dominant queen bee (on the right) was yelling to the crowd to be grateful to live today in the present when minorities and alternative lifestyles are being more and more accepted. He then laid a romantic kiss on his stubbley love kitten, and they paraded across the street towards the court house to begin their constitutionally recognized life together. (Though I wonder what he’s yelling now that Prop 8 passed.)
 

Tastes like Homo.
Tastes like Homo.

It’s fantastic to see different lifestyles and belief systems being more integrated - legally and otherwise into our society. I doubt however, that the makers of this here fine milk product, available at one time throughout the US, intended on marketing the taste of an actual homosexual. “Tastes Like Homo” Is sure to leave a queer taste in the mouths of their more conservative customer’s kisser.
I want to know, What DOES ‘homo’ taste like!?

And how does this all relate to Max & Emmanuelle? Well, it doesn’t, except that I’m thankful that they made their way into the world when major discriminations are illegal or are on the table for discussion. And I hope if either are gay, that by the time they are young adults…. our lovely country will have realized that the arguments for such discrimination are from the same old mill that churned out the propaganda that women were too weak… , blacks weren’t human enough… , and non-Christian believers were all going to hell. After the gays, who will be next in line to take the torch? I think it’s going to be the Athiests!

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A kiss is a kiss is a kiss… Max&Manu 4 months.
A kiss is a kiss is a kiss… Max&Manu 4 months.