atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#4367: *FLOP*

Got home from work this evening and went right to sleep for two hours. *sigh*

Og knows what I'm talking about.

* * *

From the AoSHQ ONT:
You know, it is behavior like this that pisses me off. One 7th round draft pick is more special than all other previously released 7th round draft picks. Sports is one of the few arenas out there that basically puts the best talent out there, regardless of race or sexual preference. It's all about winning, not PC diversity BS. Evidently, the NFL is not pleased that the first openly gay player was cut and was desperate to get him on a team. I'm surprised they haven't demanded that the Cowboys put Sam on the 53 man roster.
Warning: there is an autoplay video at that link.

* * *

Automobile bubble!
Vehicle discounts have risen 5.5 percent from a year ago. More than a quarter of new buyers are choosing to lease, a historically high percentage. Auto company lending arms are making more loans to people with low credit scores. The industry is adding factory capacity. And the average price of a car keeps rising, forcing some customers to borrow for longer terms to keep payments down.

Annual auto sales in the U.S. should top 16 million for the first time in seven years. But the pent-up consumer demand that has driven sales is ebbing. Sales are predicted to grow 5.5 percent this year, the slowest pace since the financial crisis.

The big discounts and other steps eventually should help push sales above 17 million, most experts say. But Honda Motor Co. U.S. sales chief John Mendel last week scolded competitors for using "short-term" tactics such as subprime loans, 72-month terms and increased sales to rental car companies to pad their sales.
Here's the problem: cars cost too damned much. They cost too much to make, and that means they cost too much period.

Everything else--all other consumer products--have dropped in price in absolute terms, but cars have either remained steady or risen. Sure, a 2014 Mustang costs $30k where the equivalent car cost $15k twenty years ago, but the dollars are worth half what they were in 1994, so it evens out.

Except that appliances have not seen such major price increases in that time. Neither have most other manufactured goods. A refrigerator that cost $500 in 1994 can be replaced today with one that has identical features and costs...$500. Or maybe $600 or $700, but not $1,000 unless you're intending to upgrade to some serious high-zoot refrigerator that talks and makes drinks.

The difference? Cars have always been a major investment, second only to living quarters. It's not been necessary for automakers to find less expensive ways to build cars because the market has never seriously balked at the ever-greater prices of the damned things. Indeed, American automakers have a major incentive to continue to build cars using as much human labor as possible, because otherwise the UAW will strike and shut them down--and the foreign automakers, who don't have such high labor costs, make better profits in that environment, so they have no incentive to rock the boat.

People would refuse to spend $800 on a dryer that used to cost $400, but they don't refuse to spend $30,000 on a car that used to cost $15,000, because there are no alternatives. If you want a car that does what the $30k car does, it's going to cost you $30k no matter who you buy it from.

I noticed this myself in late 1992 when I was shopping for a new car. My 1991 Escort had been totaled when an idiot made a left turn in front of me and stopped in the intersection, and I t-boned him. My Dad wanted me to buy a bigger car, for safety, and no matter what car I looked at it was going to run me about $15k to get that car. (Dad wanted me to buy a Grand Am, but I didn't like what you got for the money, which is why I bought the Thunderbird.)

By 1995 you couldn't get into an Escort for less than $12k and the 1995 version of my 1993 T-bird was over $18k--and that was for cars that were no different than their older counterparts.

In just about every other industry, though, real prices have dropped. In 1995 getting a 25" television for $250 was a steal. These days you can get a 32" TV at that price all year long, but you're stupid to pay it since its price will regularly go under $200 on sale. To replace a $10 alarm clock you bought in 2004 it's going to cost you...$10 in 2014.

The "high normal" price for a 20" box fan has been $20 as long as I can remember. They're all made the same way--plastic grilles, metal housing, plastic fan blades, simple AC motor--and yet somehow the manufacturers have never needed to raise the price. (Are their margins getting squeezed? Almost certainly. Why is that the consumer's problem?)

But the price of cars? It's as if the manufacturing techniques simply do not exist which have made it possible for every other manufacturing industry to hold the line on prices. And so you have this ludicrous situation where an econobox like a Fiat 500 has an MSRP of nineteen thousand dollars!

It's ludicrous.

* * *

I love this: "Rep. Gwen Moore arrested while demanding fast food workers earn $15 an hour more than her interns". That headline is made of awesome. It says everything that needs to be said about the story.

* * *

Training yesterday was pretty tiring. I'd forgotten what it was like, to take corporate training. In 2000 I was in the Arbortext SGML class for most of a week, and when I returned to my cubicle that Friday afternoon I remember being ready to go home and go to bed. Ditto for the AutoCAD class I'd taken earlier that year.

Or--wait, when was it? Maybe it was 2001 that I had the Arbortext class, because I remember being shuffled around a bit in 2000. Well, crap, it was 14 years ago, so who cares?

The point is, that stuff is tiring. Mrs. Fungus observed that she always feels totally wiped out after a training class.

So I could have slept better (or at least more) last night, and I had to drag myself out of bed this morning. I functioned fairly well at work, but afterwards I was done.

One thing I noticed--and was very, very envious of--was how quiet the office of the regional headquarters was. I imagined how grand it must be to work in such lovely tranquility. To be able to work at your desk without having to listen to "urban" radio from the bookshelf stereo display, blasting over the TVs on the other side of the store, which are vying for audio supremacy with the headphone and Bluetooth speaker kiosks.

I used to work in an office like that. *sigh*

The "urban radio" crap makes it almost impossible for me to talk to clients. The bookshelf stereo display is perhaps twenty feet from where I do my work, and routinely (2-3 times a day) some idiot turns that shit way the hell up, and it's typical for me to be stuck at the counter for 30+ minutes at a time so it continues to blare that horseshit the entire while, until I can get away long enough to turn that nonsense the fuck down again.

I don't mind it being on. I have learned how to tune it out, mostly, so if it's on at a sane volume it does not disturb me. I do, however, mind it when it is interfering with my fucking job, which it does when I have to ask someone to repeat his phone number three times in a row because all I heard was BOOTYBOOTYAWWWWWTHEYFOUNDMERIDINDIRTYWHOOOAAAAHHOOOOOOO.

Occasionally there is some noise discipline displayed in the store. (The 4k TV display is not blasting the same four songs from a Sting concert, the Bose display is not blaring the same loop of Johnny Cash/Journey/Bob Dylan, the bookshelf display is quiet.) I have not been able to figure out why, how, or who, but there are times when all the damned noise is reduced to a minimum.

Welcome to life in retail. *sigh*

* * *

Heck of a gullywasher came through this afternoon, and if the weather forecast is any guide it was due to a cold front. I hope so; we've been running the AC here in the bunker for more than two weeks straight because it's just been too sticky outside even when it wasn't hot. Right now it's still too humid outside, but we'll see how it is in a few hours.

But the rain effectively shut business down today. Before the rain, the precinct was moderately to stupidly busy, particularly since the scheduling system was down; afterwards, it was virtually dead in there. The last fifteen minutes of my shift consisted of me idling around and praying that we wouldn't have a bunch of clients come in, which would have resulted in me having to stay late. My prayers were answered and I left on the dot. I was just as happy.

After all, I was tired.
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