Speaking to speech recognition systems is humiliating

I have trouble talking to those speech recognition voice mail things. I find it vaguely humiliating, embarassing, degrading — perhaps because it is! It is particularly irksome to do it in front of others — rather like being bladder-shy, unable to pee in front of an audience. Pushing buttons, that’s bad enough. But speaking to those things? Maybe it’s like the very early days of telephone answering machines — if you’re old enough to remember, dear reader. When they were new and rare devices, some callers felt inhibited about recording messages. They got used to it. Will I likewise get used to talking to the voice mail robot?
I’m probably not the only user of such systems to discover that you can get “please hold while I connect you to a customer service representative” by screaming fuck you at the damn thing. Apparently it has yet to evolve far enough to understand fuck you.
Meanwhile, “for quality assurance purposes your call may be monitored or recorded.” Two implicit lies are embedded right in there, to insult your intelligence: (1) recording and monitoring has some positive impact on quality; (2) quality is their objective. Customer service is exactly what they are firmly committed to avoiding. Fuck this, put the robot back on the phone.

Why Kerry is doing poorly

I got into a stimulating email exchange with some friends and e-acquaintances who live on the Left Coast the other day. We made lots of insightful observations. l take the liberty of paraphrasing myself:

Speaking of the grand right-wing propaganda apparatus and its roots back in the Goldwater days, an excellent article about it appeared in the September 2004 Harper’s (don’t have it handy for reference, sorry). It’s by Lewis Lapham, and we know his biases; but he states that this essay was inspired by a matter-of-fact and (jaw-dropping) presentation he saw given by some dude who was anything but a lefty, some kind of finance industry guy. It is an extraordinary and important article.
I haven’t read Thomas Frank’s book The Trouble with Kansas but I read his Harper’s article based on the book, and heard some radio interview snippets. His ideas have been the topic du jour in left/liberal scholar/activist circles, it seems. A very important read. The main criticism it seems is that he condescends to them Kansas rabble — too dumb to know their own interests. He says it ain’t so. Well, bullshit. You gotta be at least a bit of a dumbass to think Bush is a good christian man who’s gonna care about working class you.
The big question is: why, why, why is Kerry at best even with W. in the polls, given how thoroughly the lies arrogance incompetence etc of W.’s admin have been documented and exposed? IMHO the answer, judging from all the lefty magazine articles I’ve had time to read (combined with maybe just a pinch of independent thought on my part) is something like this:
(0) The question itself suggests the answer: because it doesn’t matter how unbelievably horrible Bush is, because:
(1) See Thomas Frank.
(2) See Lewis Lapham.
(3) Kerry totally blows. Who’s genuinely excited about Kerry? Nobody, and rightly so.
(4) When you effectively exploit the mob’s anger and fear (see 1 and 2 above), mobs turn to the right whether it’s in their real interest or not. See 1920’s Germany (and some piece in a recent Nation that reminded us of this). And these guys have done a masterful job of exploiting the fear. (See Michael Moore, or check the current Terror Level)
(5) The polls are rigged (see Gore Vidal). When they ask a question like “who do you think would be more effective in prosecuting the War on Terror, Kerry or Bush?”, what the FUCK is that supposed to mean? It means you’re supposed to accept the premise that the War on Terror is not a fraud but a Good Thing. Poll questions like that are part of the problem, or maybe a symptom of it.
I am pessimistic about Kerry’s chances. Somebody please persuade me otherwise. Maybe that absurd spectacle they call a presidential debate will less vacuous than usual, and Kerry will slap that bitch’s head around in front of millions. We’re told he’s been “ramping it up” and “picking up the pace.” One can always hope….

Hookers made me miss my stop

Three prostitutes were seated across from me on the Port Authority Trans Hudson Interstate Rail System last Saturday night as I was on my way into New York City. From left to right they were: very pretty, mildly slutty and sort of middle class normal looking (and extremely attractive); very slutty but clean (and attractive); and extremely slutty and down-and-out looking. Naive and un-streetwise fool that I am, it takes me a couple minutes of staring to realize that these young ladies are on their way to work. Selling themselves in the street. Not having been laid for a while, and being a horny bastard even on a good day, I find the whores rather provocative, but also depressing and, in the case of the one on the right, repulsive. If I were their dad I would not want them sucking men’s dicks for cash. At their age, they should be college students or something respectable like that. Then again, perhaps their dad is dead or in prison or too drunk to give a fuck. It’s so sad. I wonder what they charge for a blowjob. I wonder how that figure compares to the amount of cash in my pocket.
Thus lost in so much pointless thought, I miss my stop at 14th Street and end up amazed to find myself getting out of the train with the whores at 23rd Street. So I walked back downtown.

Bill Clinton? He’ll be fine.

I hear on today’s news that 26,000 people have wished Bill a speedy recovery.
Folks, don’t worry:  he’ll be fine. Unlike so many millions of his fellow citizens, Bill enjoys access to the finest available medical care as part of the benefits package that came with his old job (President). I bet it’s all covered 100%. I bet he won’t even have to see a so-called Explanation of Benefits. As my dad pointed out the other day, he surely doesn’t have to share a room — with some random moribund loser crapping into his colostomy bag. In fact I wouldn’ t be surprised if the hospital comps his phone.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge Bill his quality health care. I just wish we had universal health care in this country, as they do in every other country that is considered a modern, developed democracy.

One Helluva anti-RNC Protest

Mordant wit and creativity showed up along with those 200,000 or so protesters at the demo against the Republican National Convention last Sunday. I took quite a few pictures, such as
this one, and this one, and this one (insolent skanky-ass New York hoes! I love you!).

Arrogant scumbags, don’t come back.