Hear I Go Google!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The 2012 New Year: Advice for the Young at Heart

Chapter 16 of My Life and Times at Purdue University

A friend on Google+ posted this as a call to action, or resolution, or escape from that worn path:

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I'd like to change about my life, and what steps I can take to implement those changes. I generally do this anyway, whenever I start feeling like I'm unhappy a little too much. One thing that I do not do is wait until January 1st to implement these changes. I just don't get that mentality--this is my last cigarette ever! I'm gonna eat another pig in a blanket, and tomorrow we diet!--and I think that if you genuinely crave change, your excitement will keep you from procrastinating.

But of course, excitement is a fleet-footed creature. It's one thing to say "I'm going to get a new job" and another to subject yourself to the indignities of the process--online applications that make you manually type in all the information from the resume you just uploaded; leadership personality tests that ask you the same question six different ways; receiving a phone call, as you iron the blouse you agonized over choosing, that the position has been filled and your interview has been canceled--but why do I give up so easily? A new job would probably make me happier than anything else right now, so why do I allow myself to shrug my shoulders and continue clockwatching?

Perhaps I should set a resolution after all. I clearly need to kick through this wall.

If you need me, I'll either be thinking about why I procrastinate, or trying to decide whether I'm Very Somewhat or Somewhat Very on yet another personality test.

My uneducated response:
I can understand it all too well. I've work at about 20-25 different places in my 25 years of punching a clock, or showing up to do projects for people I know do not want to be there either. I've taken personality tests offered by the US Navy (scholarship app), Lear Corporation (cool printout), and two other places.

Since I scarcely know you, or what is the bothersome feature in your work (besides work), I suspect you'll change careers another 4.7 times during the next 20.2 years. You might conceive 2.1 kids, or forego that route, and put $151,578 more dollars in your pocket over that same time span.

The resolution is just another dream. But dreams have payment options. You must pay plenty into them, sacrifice some other route, and know that your sunk costs may infuriate someone you tend to say you love/like, but obviously they don't get what you are after and don't love/like you quite the way you want them to back.

At a younger adult age, with an IE degree, I had four goals: nice car, nice home/condo, good job that met the lifestyle, and a well, a smoking hot wife was what I wanted, but would have settle for a B- looker with DD boobs. (Hey, I'm a guy.) That said, I have no real estate, no car now (head gasket on one, repoed my moms), a freelance writing gig with FREE being the op word, and absolutely, not even the slightest tickle of a woman wanting me for a steady eddy, or a fuck buddy to soothe either her woe-beggotten trek, or the damn-good-n-rich living large existence.

So, zero for four. I should be miserable.

But, not really. Of those, only the woman would be a plus factor to the current course setting I have. Sure, I will work soon enough. But if I get so desperate...I'll find a way again to do something menial and relatively worthless to survive. Since any a-hole can entertain with words, a song, or a cool new app put up for the world at $5.99 per download, my current skill sets probably won't make a dent into my dream of being a writer that gets to do projects around the world. Why I came back for college, part deux.

So, no losses are insurmountable. The fucking existence we lead generally does not end with or begin with a job, a car, a big screen hi-def, or a semi-steady sexual encounter that you do taxes with yearly and claim kids, if you want, separately. I yearn for when I could play baseball all day, eat spaghetti dinner with my mom, and watch the Wonder Years hoping shit would be better for me in my then dream pursuit of a cheerleader I fell for in high school. Alas, the damnest thing: I wasn't popular, or a stud enough athlete, too short, also, and I talked funny too (as a hillbilly from Tennessee tends to do).

The moral is: do you. Whatever the fuck that is to you - be it. Write, build cabinets, play music, fix cars, entrepreneur something, watch Captain Kangaroo and make it a game too, I don't care. The time we got is short. You got plenty more on me because you are smart, know the story, and don't have a pecker that leads you astray like I have been led to the cliff, and fallen to a presumed death by ejaculation/masturbation. I keep on climbing back up, but I don't have a killer plan either. 
I write - editorialize, I'd say - my whole life. Shakespeare at least (if we believe he wrote EVERY thing) was productive. Sonnets, plays, fucking crap no one seriously could duplicate, even now. We just steal his ideas over and over and over until generation get-over-yourself forgets whomever came up with it in the first place. As you've noted, in your posting Andrew's take of The Police song When The World Keeps Running Down, that's a talent too - pirate and innovate. Do that if it doesn't land you in the fucked-in-the-ass prison. (Oh yeah, did a tour of duty in the pokey too. Didn't have Notorious B.I.G.'s legal team to get a "not guilty." I was stupid, not criminally minded. A much much longer story, if you can believe me so far.)

2012 Resolution: try for that dream and build it one day at a time. Might take 5-10 years but you will be better off, you will have really learned how you do you, and likely, will not know fuckers like me exist. The truest test of your payments to your dreams...someone else will really notice, support it, and that dream becomes a fucking reality I hear about on CNBC with Jim Cramer screaming, "Buy! Buy! Buy!" And your now-snobby ass can give me the advice.

Happy New Year! 
And Keep At It!
That's my advice to all of you out there between 1 and 92.
Again, Happy New Year to all of you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Repost: Across The Pond, A Cheeky American's Take On the Brits

(Note: I had started a 2nd or 3rd blog sometime ago, and well, this fell into that blogs' roll. So a repost. Old news - obviously - but well, we recycle things. Some good, some, not so much. )

The American Revolution. Sir Winston Churchill. The Beatles. Princess Diana. West End Girls. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Spice Girls. Monty Python. Football. 007. The Office. Simon Cowell.

I bet if you ask most Americans what they think of when they bother to deem the Brits worth the brain power to concern themselves with at all, that would be close to list of items you might get as a response.

Now, it takes little creativity to know what we remember most about a culture is its culture. Namely, music, politics, art and entertainment. Since it goes little beyond that - except for those scholarly sorts that bring up Jane Austen or that stuffy old Will Shakespeare - ask yourself Brits: "do I take offense to me country being remembered for The Spice Girls, eh?"
For this author (ok, a bloody Yank without a noteworthy pub), Britain, England or The Isles are just as foreign as Russia, China or Zimbabwe. I can watch or listen to the BBC or take an course on Brit Lit or make me way to library and get something there. Or pull up Youtube and watch Susan Boyle again - isn't she smashingly good? (Drab dresser though.) But what does that really tell me about my older, wittier, more quirky and quizzical to fly-over America, British inhabitants?

Not much.

Like America, we have our extremist groups, slackers, important people doing important things, derelicts (not to be confused with The Derelicts) and plenty of accents to boot. In fact, there is no one America. Ergo, no one British Experience.

Back in April 2001, I had a plane ticket to the London ready to use for an escape from my life. It was a time of great upheaval for me. Not much seemed right about the situations I had gotten myself into. Friends, lacking. Foes, aplenty. But I decided against a relocation. Regret. Alas, 2009 and still stuck in the debt-riddled United States.
Recently (not so recently), I rented 2004's Shaun of the Dead with Simon Pegg. (You guys and Simons...) Good fun and all. A slacker comes to realize he has to do something about his same old same old. Just happens to have zombies and romance thrown in it.
But it spoke to me. (Sorry, Will Shakespeare.)
It told me to get off me duff and get on with it. Do whatever comes naturally. And to others in my way: bugger off.
Granted, Shaun did revert to form. But in one inspired moment, he made himself a hero and did something.
So Brits, you do have mesmerizing powers on us wasteful and rude Americans. Not that British zombies and slackers were what you were shooting for, but eh, you take your victories as they come, right?
(Winston Churchill is probably spinning in his tomb right now.)

Take Care, Mates! (Um, sorry, wrong country, right language.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The China Bubble: A Burst Coming Near You in 2012

While we watch Europe go through its throws of economic reshuffling, money printing, and reorganizing of alliances, China reports great numbers on GDP growth and low debt (under 20% of GDP) and now, the world's foremost manufacturer (passing the United States). But the silver lining to the world economy is a sham; and collapse is inevitable, as reported by SBS Dateline reported in "China's Ghost Cities."

At the root is the world's largest infrastructure project - the building of enormous malls, roads, bridges, and lastly, apartments and condos by the billion yuan. 64 million empty apartments that are overpriced ($70-100K) for an average worker (or family) in China making only $6K per year. These workers are then expected to pay up to 50% of the cost before they are either built (or occupied) with the remaining balance paid in 3 years. Going occupancy: around 25-30%. (Makes that 850 credit score you get stateside seem like an easy task.)

As local analyst Gillem Tulloch projects, this bubble will be larger than the United States housing crisis, but it is still moving up to the boom-bust apex. Cities like Ordos, Zhengzhou (new district) or Erenhot, Xilin Gol, (Inner Mongolia) are being created out of the blue, in just a matter of years, but are not teeming with people, the main ingredient to the functioning part of a city, or an economy. Instead, they are like parking lots between sports contests - vacant - and eerily devoid of human life. Or, as suggested by Gillem, "pyramids built for no one." Neglect, slipshod workmanship, graft and corruption must be thrown into the mix of this molotov cocktail of a command economy destined to explode with severe global implications. Tulloch adds, "It's alarming...It's interesting. I don't think there are many places in the world like this."

"Interesting," is not a good word to use in economics.

Paul Krugman, a pretty good economist, suggests this too in a December 18, 2011 blog:

I hope that I’m being needlessly alarmist here. But it’s impossible not to be worried: China’s story just sounds too much like the crack-ups we’ve already seen elsewhere. And a world economy already suffering from the mess in Europe really, really doesn’t need a new epicenter of crisis.

Alarmist and alarming.  Seems pretty darn scary to me.

No one can predict when the day of reckoning will come. That's conjecture. It may just take a financial news scandal, or a bank implosion in the neighborhood of $600 Billion (the size of Lehman when it went belly up), to trigger the full force of a Chinese massive hurricane that will have waves of civil unrest to fuel the storm for years to come. Revolution, as a sociologist interviewed for the report, will be due to growing polarization. This adding characteristic will swell due to the widening disparity in incomes, the cultural and ethnic divides, the inner China agriculturally poor versus the more affluent (remember: China) members in Shanghai and other coastal dwellings that are doing the heavy trading of the yuan to the world. Meanwhile, Beijing is hardly in control, as local and party pols blow smoke and construction dust up the upper-level folks' behinds. (But hit those GDP targets anyway they can.)

Great Depression II is not adverted, yet. Just delayed. With Europe having 3-4 nations at the cusp of default, China's boom to bust cycle about to happen, Japan's National debt at 220% of GDP, and the United States functionally illiterate about their own affairs, we got Australia and Africa left to lean on.

Oh well, time to put some financial shrimp on the barbie, eh mate?

Also time for a cracking good time watching Globalization tear itself apart.

Humanity will weather it. We hope.