Friday, 23 November 2018

The Telstra Challenge

Today I failed to buy a new iPhone.  I didn't really feel this was something that really had a pass/fail standard.  It's like putting on pants, you don't expect to be graded on it and found wanting.

I'd like to pretend I went in this with virginal innocence and the events took me by surprise, as that would make for a better story.  A story of self discovery, and coming of age, of learning how the world works and what it will do to you if you let yourself be caught unaware.  But in truth, I have a long sordid history with Telstra, that would make the Clinton's blush.

The only Telstra dealer that had any iPhone XS Max 512GB models in stock was a JB HiFi.  I thought this may actually be better, as it meant the horrors of dealing with Telstra would be filtered through JB, who I've generally found pretty good.  This was not to be.

I called up to make sure I'd bring what I need.  All I wanted was to re-contract with a new phone, so it's not like I was starting a new account or anything.  But as a business account, I was told I'd need my driver's license, secondary ID like a passport and a letter on a company letterhead, signed by a company director.

From past experience I know the danger here is that even though I AM the company director who needs to sign, I still needed to bring in a printed, not hand written letter, but it must have a hand written,  not printed, signature.  Otherwise it will not be accepted.  It also needs to have all the correct details on it, so you can't choose what plan you want in store, you have to write it all down in advance.

So I did all this and went in fully prepared.  Also honestly still fully expecting to fail to actually get a phone.

And I was right.

In fact I think I almost brought the entire store to a halt just by trying.

I didn't realise it was Black Friday, in fact I didn't even know what it is, other than a busy day to go shopping.  But the store was quite busy.  At first things seemed to be going fine, I met the guy I spoke to on the phone, gave him all the paperwork and he got my phone out and got onto the system.

An hour later, I had three staff dedicated entirely to trying to find a way to sell me this phone, from the guy on the floor, to the store manager.  One on the phone to Telstra, another on the computer, another trying to find out how the hell ordering from Telstra business actually works.

Queues started building up throughout the store, as workers had to swap out with each other, to try and serve other customers, while trying to deal with Telstra, working out what passwords are needed, who has what authority, what computer systems needed to be modified.  A hunted look was the only expression I saw on any face.

After not much longer, apathy.  When they finally discovered exactly what was needed to process the purchase, they concluded that it would require the store manager to do over an hour of paperwork just to sell me the phone.  And with people getting annoyed waiting throughout the store, they could only apologise and say they simply can't do it.

Normally I'd have been angry at wasting over an hour for nothing, but the whole thing was so comedic, it was like being in a three stooges movie, only slowed down and stretched out, with me in the midst like some kind of Matrix level virtual reality.

Truthfully, this is the least awful experience I've had dealing with Telstra.  When I tried getting a 6S years ago, I had to pay cash in the end, as going on a contract was too difficult.  And when I got on a contract with the X, they put it under my name accidentally instead of the company, and then disconnected all our phones when trying to put them all into the same company name.

I'm just hoping I don't wake up tomorrow with all the phones disconnected again, or registered to another company or some nonsense.  Pray for me!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

The Taste of Happiness

In the classic Penny Arcade strip, Tycho mused "What is delicious?"
Perhaps the true answer to that question of philosophical proportions will never be known, but today I seek to answer the question, "Does happiness have a taste?"

If happiness did have a taste, what would it be?  How would you know it was indeed happiness you were tasting?

Picture it, Mad Duck cafe, Melbourne, like a year ago.  There I was, arising after finishing a coffee and beef pie, when I spot an oddity that demanded my attention.  A small, innocuous bottle in the fridge, proclaiming "WOODAPPLE", filled with a cloudy maple syrup coloured liquid, it called to me.

Being as I am, one with all food and drink, indeed a spiritual entity that is both the source and endpoint of all that can be consumed; I already knew what that bottle contained.  I'd never heard the term "woodapple" before, never imagined there was such a thing.  But I already knew I needed it, that my flesh craved it like a dying soul craves salvation.

In that moment I permeated space and time, and before the juice even touched my lips, I knew what I was about to taste.  I was about to taste the nectar that is pure happiness.

I downed the entire bottle in a mere moment, knowing I had achieved the highest state of joy any being, living man, or immortal God could experience.  Knowing there was nothing greater I could hope to experience or achieve in this universe, I promptly took my own life and, as a freed being I turned the tides of time on themselves and reversed history, back to before my first sip, only so that I may experience it again for the first time.

Days passed, years; only for the years to turn to millennia, the millennia all meld together, billions, trillions of years.  An eternity lived in short moments of life, 5 second increments as I drank and re-drank the glorious nectar, each time, for the first time.

When time no longer had any meaning to me, when I no longer knew who I was, where I was, anything beyond the purest joy that was the manifestation of Heaven in this physical universe, only then could I give myself pause for a moment.

I realised that what I had should not be kept just for myself, but that my joy should be shared with the universe, and in this act of nobility, I could bring peace and unity not just to all mankind, but to the universe and indeed all universes, from the tiniest microbe to the greatest of Gods.

And so here I return, a messiah, your saviour, to lead you through the Gates of Heaven.

Come, my stray sheep, my wayward children, and experience the taste, that is Woodapple Juice, from Raw Sip

Okay, so full disclosure... Everything above is absolutely exactly what happened, without any hyperbole.  But truth be told, then tragedy struck!

After my 5 week trip overseas (proselytising woodapple of course), I returned to find there was no more happiness for sale at the cafe.  After killing myself over and over for a billion eternities yet again, I figured I'd email and ask what's up.  Turns out not only will it be back in stock soon, but they figured seeing as I like it so much, if I give them a review they'll send me some!  This seemed like a good solution to my lack of liquid happiness.

I hope they aren't too horrified by my concept of a "review"...

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Marijuana Legalisation

While vegans are fun, low hanging fruit, due to their propensity to be so readily triggered; I feel it time to move to a target more deserving of genuine ire.  It of course must be a target that can also be readily triggered and while anything leaning toward the left tends to fit that bill - victims, all - today the shrill wail of the 420 crowd calls to me.  Let us discuss, the marijuana legalisation advocate.

As someone who is predominantly a libertarian politically, I occasionally find myself in the awkward position of acting against something that in principal I actually agree with.  I prefer the government to stay out of people's lives as much as possible.  As such that would logically extend to individuals having the right to kill themselves however they please, whether with drugs, electrocution, auto-erotic asphyxiation, the choice is theirs!

Historically and statistically speaking, we can see that governments and laws largely have no effect on drug use in society at all, except when they promote effective, factual education.  You can look at prohibition in the USA as a perfect example of the uselessness of legislation.  And you can look at the massive decline in cigarette use, and public opinion turning against it, to readily demonstrate the effectiveness of large scale education campaigns (taxation possibly played a part in reducing usage, but certainly not in changing public opinion).  Admittedly there was also a bunch of exaggerated propaganda regarding cigarettes to accelerate the process.

In fact I firmly believe that in a society with effective education, not just about drugs but general literacy as well, drugs wouldn't be a serious problem no matter what laws were in place.

That being the case, why would I write this, purely to mock pro marijuana advocates?

Well if there's one thing I hate, it's The Last Jedi, the greatest travesty of human creation.  But if there's two things I hate, the second would be the completely insane notion that people need 12+ years in school to learn how to do jobs that in reality the average 12 year old could easily be taught to do.  But if there's three things I hate, the third would be listening to stupid people parrot arguments they've been programmed to repeat by public relations experts.  And here we have the pro-marijuana advocate.

If the only argument given for marijuana legalisation was "The government has no right to tell us what we can do with our own lives," I wouldn't argue with that at all.  I certainly think using marijuana is a terrible, harmful idea, but people are welcome to any terrible idea they like, so long as they remain completely responsible for the outcome of that idea and any repercussions it may have on others around them.

But of course this world revolves almost entirely around propaganda and skilled public relations people.  Given a billion dollar budget and a competent PR team, I have little doubt I could have a nation eating their first born children within 15-25 years and utterly convinced that it is immoral and cruel to not do that.

Same goes with marijuana.  Given hundreds of millions, now possibly billions of dollars of funds for propaganda, the tide has very quickly turned from marijuana being strictly illegal almost everywhere, to frequently being referred to as a safer alternative to alcohol, and indeed a medical panacea.

While I have to show some respect for the skilled PR people behind this now multi-billion dollar legalised marijuana industry, that respect doesn't extend to the unemployed pothead robotically repeating the phase "MARIJUANA IS A PLANT, NOT A DRUG!"

In fact if there were an award for the highest ratio of conciseness to stupidity of anything any human has ever stated, that phrase would certainly be a contender.  I'd frankly love to meet the person who thought to promote it as a propaganda line, because that at least was truly inspired.

First of all, plenty of drugs are either derived from or just straight out are plants.

But even more to the point, a drug is defined simply as any substance that has a physiological or mental effect when introduced to the body.  So quite literally, if rubbing a toilet brush on your face made you high, then toilet brushes would be drugs.  Marijuana makes you high, therefore it is a drug.

Now when some 10 year old kid tells you that, you know they just got it from their pothead parents and that's understandable.  But when a pothead parent tells you that, you have to really wonder, are they actually stupid enough to believe that, or are they just trying to convince you of it to justify ruining their own and their kids' lives?

Then there's the beloved claim that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, when that is entirely based on the much higher usage rate of alcohol compared to marijuana.  A conveniently ignored fact.  Not to say alcohol abuse isn't dangerous, but a person having a glass of wine a week isn't causing any harm to themselves, but having a joint a week certainly is.  And trying to convince people and kids in particular that the joint a week is safer is, shall we say, less than honest at best and manslaughter at worst.

One thing that is clear is that the pro-pot people are at least aware that it is almost entirely a propaganda game to have their way.  As I mentioned earlier, they are if anything even easier to "trigger" than vegans.  You can say on social media for example that alcohol is a dangerous substance and that's fine and no one really cares, but go out and say pot is a dangerous substance and suddenly the angry comments and messages from people and groups you've never heard of come flooding in!

And the danger of the propaganda game is that in a society with effective, truthful drug education and legalised marijuana, very few people would make the choice to take it; but in a society where propaganda is used to promote broadly that marijuana is harmless, not addictive, not a gateway drug, not a drug at all, safer than alcohol and so on, you instead get people and kids in particular totally deluded on the matter and thus of course use rates can only go up.

On the positive side, truthful education is many times more cost effective than false propaganda.  Millions of dollars on effective and truthful drug education can easily defeat billions spent on spreading lies.  But right now the balance is heavily weighed on the pothead side.  There's no easy money in keeping kids off drugs, but there is certainly easy money in legalised drugs.  And while long term a drug free society is in everyone's best interests - financially too - the kind of people trying to make a quick buck making drug addicts aren't concerned about that.

So while hardcore vegans may be amusing to make fun of, for their over the top moralising and easy triggering, they are mostly harmless fun.  The 420 crowd though, they are basically vegans who are actually trying to murder your children.

Note: I thought I better suffix this, that these views are my own and not those of Drug Free Ambassadors, which is an entirely educational organisation and takes no political position on issues beyond promoting for comprehensive drug education to all kids.