atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2529: Took 5 minutes this time

We got perhaps two or three inches of snow today. It's hard to tell; it's close to freezing so the snow is wet, and it's settling.

Anyway, I got up at 8 this morning and fed the cats; but as I hadn't actually gone to bed until almost 4 AM, I went right back to bed after the chores were done.

Got up, had a bit of food; then ran the snowblower--and it took five minutes from the time I opened the garage door to the time I sat back down here.

Big difference from how it was on Wednesday afternoon. Then again, Wednesday there was about ten times as much snow on the driveway.

* * *

Ace of Spades HQ talks about global warming/climate change/whatever it is this week.

* * *

Lefty professors who talk about Darwin probably ought to know something about the man before they pronounce his position on gun ownership.

Then again, the soft-handed academics of today wouldn't be able to understand Charles Darwin if they met him in the flesh, because the "naturalist" of the 19th century was a far different animal than the over-urbanized soi disant intellectual of today.

* * *

Victor Davis Hanson sees a couple more "bubbles" coming down the pike: the "public worker pension" bubble, and the "higher education" bubble.

To give the appearance of fixing the problem, expect our government to seize control of all private retirement accounts--IRAs, CDs, 401Ks, what have you--and tell you it's for your own good, because some people make poor choices, and this way the government can ensure that you will have money when you're retired. Yeah.

I don't like the idea of the government taking my IRA and giving me an IOU. IOUs have a way of turning into toilet paper, particularly when you're at the end stage of a fiscal meltdown. US treasuries are only valuable so long as people actually want to buy them; the instant the currency becomes worthless, the treasuries become doubly so, their face value worth nothing and holding only the intrinsic value of the paper on which they're printed.

The education bubble is also a disaster in the making. Degree inflation has been a problem since the 1980s; we haven't reached the dystopian extreme of menial jobs requiring degrees only because there's a practical limit to the concept that higher education naturally makes for more productive workers: you cannot make a better janitor by giving him a degree in advanced cleaning after he's spent four years learning the theory and chemistry of surfactants and solvents. Either the guy knows how to push a mop, or he doesn't, but teaching him how soap works is not going to make him better at pushing a mop. The same thing goes for any menial job--flipping hamburgers, stocking shelves, what-have-you.

But the lack of the extreme case doesn't mean that everything is peachy keen, either. Jobs which have traditionally been like trades--such as repairing automobiles--have turned into credentialed positions, even if the credentials themselves don't come from traditional four-year schools. Ask the guy fixing your computer about his certifcations--is he "A+" certified? Has he any Microsoft certifications? Check the certificates hanging on the wall next to your mechanic's workbench. He's probably got several ASAME certificates.

Those things cost money to acquire, and more money to maintain--and in most cases they don't make the guy any better at what he does; he either gives a rat's ass about the quality of his work, or he doesn't...and if he doesn't, all the certifications in the world won't make him a better worker than he is now.

"A+" certification--in 1997 I took the test for it, and passed with flying colors, despite the fact that I had never seen the inside of a classroom for that silliness. I'd been fixing computers for seven years; but because this prospective employer required A+ certification, I had to take the test. (They proceeded to offer me $0.25 more than I'd been making at a part-time job and wanted me to sign a non-compete agreement. I declined.)

But degree inflation has ensured that everyone must have a degree to get a "good job", and that means that everyone must go to college...and so there's a lot of money floating around in higher education. More dollars chasing a fixed number of seats raises the price. (Just like more dollars chasing a fixed number of houses raised that price.)

The result is, of course, that some people come out of college in debt to their eyebrows...and proceed to get jobs mixing coffee for hipster douchebags at $8 per hour because they couldn't handle any useful subject but took "east African history" or majored in "womyn's studies".

...and have a degree which cost $50,000 to acquire but which is tragically, tragically worthless. ($50,000 is optimistic, by the way. That's only--listen to me, "only"!--$12,500 per year.)

The interesting thing about student loans is that they're guaranteed by the government--which means that you will pay back those loans, someday, somehow, regardless of circumstance. The only case where you can escape paying them back? Die. Die, or become so disabled that it's obvious even to a federal bureaucrat that you can't pay it back. Otherwise, you will pay, and you'll pay with interest. They can take everything you own and leave you standing in the street wearing a barrel, because you have absolutely no protection from them. (Banks can't do this, except for student loans. That's why everyone wants to loan you money when you're a student, as long as it's via the federal government: because they'll get their money back at a fat profit, every time, regardless of what happens to you. The guarantee is made to the banks, after all.)

The federal government has exempted itself from all the anti-usury laws because 1% of graduates in the 1970s were claiming bankruptcy to get out of their student loans. (Most of these graduates were law school graduates. Do the math.)

How do you pay back $50,000 worth of loans when you're working as a barista without starving and living in a box? You don't!

...and these chickens will come home to roost, same way the housing chickens came home to roost. Count on it.

* * *

WinAmp takes a damned long time to start up, and it bothers me.

I counted today; it was 45 seconds from the time I clicked on the start menu to the time I could actually start the music. That's just not right; I'm going to have to dig into it.


* * *

Okay, I'm officially sick of the beef stroganoff recipe. Fortunately, I finished off the leftovers from the second batch last night, and have no plans to make more for a couple weeks at least.

It does leave me with the question of what the hell I'm eating for dinner tonight. In general I'm trying not to eat out very much; but I'm thinking about going and grabbing something from the Chinese place. Their "meal" menu tops out around $8 and you get a respectable helping of what you ordered plus an equivalent volume of fried rice, an eggroll, and a fried wonton. The General Tao's Chicken combo is like $7 with tax and there's enough food there for two people.

Contrast that with a bacon mofo combo at McDonald's: $6.41, and it's one meal. (OTOH: General Tao's Chicken does not work very well as leftovers. It's delicious--perfect!--when fresh, but when you reheat it, it's...uh, edible.)

I could make tacos. I have everything I need for that. But I'm not in the mood for tacos.

Compounding the difficulty is, of course, my metabolism. I can't eat just anything; I know plenty of people who could have donuts and Mountain Dew for dinner and suffer no ill effects--but if I tried that, I'd be on the floor in insulin shock in a matter of hours. Because of my own damn metabolism.

Carbohydrates--particularly simple sugars--prompt my body to make too much insulin, which catastrophically lowers my blood glucose. Anything under about 70 mcg/ml is "hypoglycemia" territory; at 70 a normal person feels as if he's starving and might begin to feel a little woozy.

If you're me, you don't start feeling hungry until after you've gone below that; and you've been feeling woozy for some time, and probably have a headache to boot. Chronic hypoglycemia has ruined my hunger reflex.

* * *

To hell with it: I ordered the sesame chicken combo from the Chinese place.

...and I could start complaining about the guy who takes the orders there, and how he never tells you how long you can expect to wait, but that's a whole 'nother rant right there.

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