Update on critical talking points

All:

First I want to thank the entire team for the hard work and dedication you’ve shown this year. As we approach the holidays, the Management Team wishes to express thankfulness and emphasize that the entire org chart is vital to our success.

It’s time once again to review our key focus matrix and hone in on the heart. The points we’re about to list are non-negotiable and I can’t estimate their importance. Let’s hammer in with a laser-like focus on these.

  • The threat of refinancing: how lower rates drag us all down.
  • The hidden links between skateboarding and Hepatitis C: do we know enough?
  • Zoning reforms necessary to encourage urban fish farming.
  • End ethnic set-asides in the mortuary industry.
  • Phrenology in the public schools: is Medicare responsible?
  • Hogs for Heroes: soldiers need to know we have a pig for them.
  • An America Without Simony: If not now, when?
  • An end to subsidized quahog farming is the beginning of free trade in bivalves.

All of us need to drill down into the meat with a laser-like focus here. Let’s stay on message and be forceful. The Management Team knows we can exceed our own expectations, and we expect that.

If you have any questions or comments, speak right up! My door is always open.

The Mgmt

Literature, it fails us now

Dale Peck body-slams cheap, decayed postmodernism:

…But as I puzzled my way through this and the rest of Moody’s books, I found myself looking not for the place in their execution or conception where they went wrong, but rather for something even prior and more primary: the wrong turn in our culture that led to Moody’s status as one of the anointed ones of his — okay, our — generation. In my view, the wrong turn starts around the time Stephen Dedalus goes to college in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and echoes all the way through Don DeLillo’s ponderously self-important rendering of Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world in the opening chapter of Underworld. Moody’s badness is a little less inexplicable if you look at him as the lowest common denominator of a generation of writers — and readers: they, too, bear some responsibility for the condition of fiction — who have long since forgotten what the modernist and postmodernist assaults on linearity were actually about, and as such have lost the ability to tell the difference between ambiguity and inscrutability, ambition and bombast; of writers who are taken at face value when they are being ironic and who are deemed ironic when they are telling it straight — assuming, of course, that they themselves know the difference. Assuming, I should add, that they actually have a subject.

He’s right even about writers I like.

Car loan, or why we hate bankers

I bought a Ford Fiesta from Robins Ford in Costa Mesa on Friday, July 30. It’s a great car. The price was good. The salesman was helpful and intelligent and didn’t do car salesman B.S.

I had a preapproved loan from my credit union for 6.1%.

The finance guy worked me a bit for upselling on warranties and insurance products, but wasn’t very pushy. He then wanted to get the loan business. He told me he could get me 6% or better. He was going to work on this over the weekend.

On Saturday he called me and said “I got you 6%.”

A couple of weeks passed. I got a number of loan rejection letters in the mail from various banks. I got no approvals. I called him and asked if there was something I needed to sign additionally, and he said no, they would mail me.

A couple more weeks passed. I called him asking what loan I had, and when I should get the mail. I got voicemail and the call was not returned. Repeat twice.

I called Ford Motor Credit. They had no loan for my car or anything in my name.

I received mail from Chase Bank announcing that my loan had been approved and they’d given me a lower rate because I qualified for same. My rate: 8.39%.

I called Robins Ford and was told that my credit guy no longer worked there. I talked to a new guy. He was polite and professional. He said “look at your contract; whatever is on there is your rate.” He agreed that the whole thing was upsetting. He also said that it was possible to get the credit union to loan me at a lower rate and pay off this worse loan immediately, which was a good thought.

My contract (here’s the part that’s my fault) said 10%. Credit manager guy had literally waved his hand over this as if it was a formality, or some kind of placeholder. Burned.

I applied to the credit union for a loan to repay this one; it was declined due to excessive debt. Doh.

Meanwhile, it was time for me to make my first payment. I already had a Chase account paid by bank transfer, so I set this up for the auto loan also. The system rejected my information at first. I assumed I had made a typo, and tried again. Another failure. Looking carefully at my bank’s site, I saw that they now had a separate transfer number for electronic payments of this kind. I re-entered my bank info and now it was accepted. I paid the current bill and set up automated payments.

On the 22nd of September I got a late payment phone call from Chase. Looking at my account online, I saw that it said the following: next payment due date: 9/13. last payment made: 9/13. Account late. Amount due: my monthly plus a processing charge and a returned check charge.

I called Chase and a comedy ensued. The rep was very pleasant and professional. Together, we took a journey through madness and finance. It was clear that I had paid on the 13th, that the transaction was bollixed, and that a week later the computer decided that the transaction had not gone through and they were considering it a bad check. There was no late fee yet. I mentioned twice that this was during the time when Chase had an exceptionally bad I.T. disaster involving their loan systems, but he was silent about this.

I made my one-time payment with the rep on the phone, and he said he would get the bounced check charge remove.

Today, I looked at my Chase account. The account was now listed as overdue with a late charge. The last payment still said the 13th. And my new payment was listed as “in process.”

The bankers have mentioned recently that their feeling are hurt, that they feel bruises, that they are being unfairly vilified by the media and public servants. Why do we attack their large salaries? Why do we resent their guaranteed bonuses? Why are we insisting that the regulators regulate instead of sipping the bankers’ Scotch? Why do we fly into tantrums when their bold, risk-taking, disruptive innovations in finance blow up and kick shrapnel in our faces?

IT’S BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE DEAL WITH THEM IS A DRUG DEAL GONE SOUR AND WE GET OUR ASSES GRIFTED BUT GOOD, AND THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THE GRIFT ARE WEIGHTLESS UNTOUCHABLE ARISTOCRATS WHO LIVE ON PLANET VEUVE-CLICQUOT AND WILL NEVER, EVER BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR CRIMES OR EVEN STOPPED FROM CONTINUING THEM.

But it’s a snappy little car.

howl (slight return)

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by marketing, whining hypocritical baked, driving themselves through suburban streets at lunch looking for angry fries, blackglasses hipsters moping for the newest beeping connection to the media death star in the machinery of night, who privilege and misery and hollow-eyed high sat up smoking in the supernatural glow of high-speed internet buying every new dead idea contemplating not

and each year it appears more true

I post this each year. It’s E.B. White from 1952, writing in the New Yorker.

From this high midtown hall, undecked with boughs, unfortified with mistletoe, we send forth our tinselled greetings as of old, to friends, to readers, to strangers of many conditions in many places. Merry Christmas to uncertified accountants, to tellers who have made a mistake in addition, to girls who have made a mistake in judgment, to grounded airline passengers, and to all those who can’t eat clams! We greet with particular warmth people who wake and smell smoke. To captains of river boats on snowy mornings we send an answering toot at this holiday time. Merry Christmas to intellectuals and other despised minorities! Merry Christmas to the musicians of Muzak and men whose shoes don’t fit! Greetings of the season to unemployed actors and the blacklisted everywhere who suffer for sins uncommitted; a holly thorn in the thumb of compilers of lists! Greetings to wives who can’t find their glasses and to poets who can’t find their rhymes! Merry Christmas to the unloved, the misunderstood, the overweight. Joy to the authors of books whose titles begin with the word “How” (as though they knew!). Greetings to people with a ringing in their ears; greetings to growers of gourds, to shearers of sheep, and to makers of change in the lonely underground booths! Merry Christmas to old men asleep in libraries! Merry Christmas to people who can’t stay in the same room with a cat! We greet, too, the boarders in boarding houses on 25 December, the duennas in Central Park in fair weather and foul, and young lovers who got nothing in the mail. Merry Christmas to people who plant trees in city streets; merry Christmas to people who save prairie chickens from extinction! Greetings of a purely mechanical sort to machines that think–plus a sprig of artificial holly. Joyous Yule to Cadillac owners whose conduct is unworthy of their car! Merry Christmas to the defeated, the forgotten, the inept; joy to all dandiprats and bunglers! We send, most particularly and most hopefully, our greetings and our prayers to soldiers and guardsmen on land and sea and in the air–the young men doing the hardest things at the hardest time of life. To all such, Merry Christmas, blessings, and good luck! We greet the Secretaries-designate, the President-elect; Merry Christmas to our new leaders, peace on earth, good will, and good management! Merry Christmas to couples unhappy in doorways! Merry Christmas to all who think they are in love but aren’t sure! Greetings to people waiting for trains that will take them in the wrong direction, to people doing up a bundle and the string is too short, to children with sleds and no snow! We greet ministers who can’t think of a moral, gagmen who can’t think of a joke. Greetings, too, to the inhabitants of other planets; see you soon! And last, we greet all skaters on small natural ponds at the edge of woods toward the end of afternoon. Merry Christmas, skaters! Ring, steel! Grow red, sky! Die down, wind! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good morrow!

And this year especially to friends who are facing the worst life has to offer with particular courage and strength. You know who you are.