Category Archives: Stupidity

Harleys are dumb

The dumbest possible means of transport is an annoying waste of money

Harleys are dumb

Harleys are dumb — period.

There is nothing quite as tranquil as the morning. A natural early riser, I haven’t used an alarm clock in well over a decade and in the summer, there’s nothing better than waking up to the sounds of chirping birds and the smell of newly awakened sunshine carried to my sleeping face on a fresh breeze through the open window.

I’m fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. Just below my home lies a dock welcoming the residents of nearby little Vashon Island via ferry.

Quite a few residents drive across on the ferry each day, lining up on one end and then the other to make their way to Seattle and beyond for jobs that help them pay for their island lifestyle. To keep costs down and to save time, many commute via motorcycle (two-wheeled transport and walk-ons don’t have to wait in the sometimes very long car line). When the ferry arrives at the dock, all the motorcycles get off before the cars, heading off into town in one long line.

It’s a pretty smart approach if you’re going to live on the island: why not save yourself some time and cost by switching to two wheels (assuming you’re willing to accept the inherent danger). If I lived over there, I’d consider it myself.

But there are always a few douchebags that spoil things. These are, as you’ve no doubt guessed, the Harley-Davidson riders.

At 5:42 a.m. each weekday, I”m awoken by the annoying growl of the world’s most ridiculous motorcycles.

These sociopathic gas-powered noise machines are increasingly a frustrating fact of life in most urban and suburban areas these days. For some reason, law enforcement seems to ignore noise ordinances even as these obnoxious machines take enjoyment away from our peaceable existence.

No noise, no crazed following

During our recent vacation to Maui, we stayed in a condo that turned out to be on a road that was a little louder than expected. The normal road noise, however, was tolerable for an affordable vacation getaway. The Harleys, however, were completely intolerable. There was a Harley-Davidson rental shop nearby and tourists fly in from around the country for cosplay on rented bikes. They vroom-vroom all over the island, certainly having a great time, never realizing or caring how many vacations they’re ruining in the process.

Not unlike the jerks that think it’s hilarious to trash the environment just to piss off people who care about it, the whole POINT of riding a Harley is to annoy people with noise. Without the noise, is it really a Harley?

Being a responsible corporate organization, Harley wouldn’t produce a vehicle that blatantly scoffed at noise laws. It leaves the job to third-party manufacturers so you can customize your hog to be even more annoying. Yes, now you can not only annoy your close neighbors, but your entire community as well. Congratulations, you’re an ass.

Vrrooom — there goes your money

If annoying people with your racket is your thing, you still might want to rethink your choice of a Harley. If you’re choosing the two-wheel route for commuting reasons, there are better choices out there. Like any vehicle, you can always find a used one that’s already depreciated down to your comfort level, although a quick Google search makes it sound like there are maintenance issues with aging hogs (I’ll leave it to people who have owned them to confirm or deny that). Buying new is obviously foolish so we won’t even get into the price of new Harleys, although I also saw some complaining online about Harley flooding the market with cheap bikes, which is interesting.

Since Harley buyers purchased their rides for the noise and no other factor, it’s not surprising that things like fuel economy aren’t important at all. It shouldn’t be hard to find a bike that can get 60-70 mpg, which will help keep your commuting costs nice and low, but Harleys will be lucky to reliably get into the 50 mpg range. Now admittedly, that’s better than the 30ish you could expect from any sane car these days, but at least a car can be used for other things, giving you greater utility for your dollar.

Oh, and since you’re buying a machine strictly for image reasons, you’ll naturally want to be customizing that beast, right? Cha-ching again! Gotta have little leather saddlebags so people think you’re a legit Hell’s Angel member. Plus tassles and custom chrome pipes, right? Fancy spiral wheels, of course! And, naturally, you have to wear special little outfits so you can fit in with your fellow aging baby boomer bike riders (see below for more).

Harley riders live in fantasyland

My background is in marketing. One of the things we marketers always have to explain to nonmarketers is that branding isn’t the logo, the corporate colors, or the business processes. Those would be called branding elements. Your brand is the feeling that takes place inside your head. How you personally feel about McDonald’s is their brand to you, not the identifying golden arches. Big companies will spend big dollars putting statistics against how many people feel a certain way about a particular brand and then use advertising and strategic PR to reinforce or change those perceptions. You and your kids might have a completely different internal view of McDonald’s as well as a completely different reaction to the smell of their grease.

The Harley brand is all about how it makes riders feel about themselves. They throw a leg over the bike, rev up their obnoxious machine and imagine that all the world is in awe.

Have you ever had that experience at work where some condescending idiot is talking to you like YOU’RE the one who is dumb? If you’ve ever heard Sarah Palin talk you know what I’m talking about. That’s how I feel about Harley riders. If you happen upon a Harley rider in a parking lot and happen to look their way, you can almost read their mind. They’re sauntering toward their bike, soaking up your gaze, thinking “I’m a such a bad ass! I can feel that guy totally admiring me across the parking lot! I bet he’s super impressed by me. Maybe even scared of me. I am pretty tough. Yeah, me! Get yer motor runnnnnninnnn…“. Or something like that.

In reality, I’m thinking, “What a dork!” or “Isn’t that guy hot with all that leather on?” or “Wow, you can totally see that old guy’s tummy poking out of his vest.”

Because, let’s face it, Harleys are for old people. Nothing against old people, but is that really the look you’re going for? The last time I saw someone on a Harley look scary was probably 1978. And I think it was when I was watching CHiPs. (dooo-doo-do-do-doooo!)

Playing dress-up

Harleys are dumb -- playing dress-up

Let’s all play dress-up!

And what is up with these little costumes that Harley riders are apparently required to wear? I assume it’s required because I’ve never seen a Harley rider not wearing one. The color-coordinated little outfits are like little toddler dress up costumes. Leather chaps, vests and jackets. Bandannas — branded of course — tied ever so carefully over the balding pate.

When not on duty, these people maintain their look, sporting branded T-shirts and belt buckles.

Every tribe has its identifying plumage. Street gangs famously line up by colors (or at least used to). White collar workers sip their lattes in their Dockers. People who pretend to be modern cowboys wear giant cowboy hats and big belt buckles as if they’re just about to head out to the range to brand a steer. But is there any other group that so identifies itself by pasting a corporate logo all over itself as the Harley rider? I struggle to think of anything even close. Perhaps the girls who have the word “Juicy” on the butt of their sweat pants come close, but even that seems like a much smaller group.

It’s easy to take on the trappings of any subculture that interests you these days. Everything has gotten so corporatized that you can buy the look that makes you feel like what you’ve always wanted to be. Only thing is, everyone knows you’re just a poser. People are spending massive amounts of money to appear to fit into one group or another. Sure you might be an overweight laid-off computer programmer, but with a few swipes of your credit card, you’re a BIKER!

Look, I get that people love to drop disposable income on things that make them feel better about themselves. Since people screw themselves out of their pretirement in so many different ways, it may be unfair to insist that above all other vehicles Harleys are dumb. But when your single-purpose vehicle drains your money, makes you look ridiculous and annoys everyone else, we need to agree that Harleys are the dumbest possible means of getting around.

I’m not here to tell anyone how to live their life. I’m just one voice suggesting that maybe there’s another way. If you want to blow your money on toys, go for it. But, maybe pick a toy that doesn’t ruin life for everyone else in the process.

So what do you think? Have I convinced you Harleys are dumb? Even the dumbest possible means of transportation? 

Important post-script:

Harley-Davidson recently began showing off a prototype electric motorcycle. Should they actually begin selling these and displacing their nasty gas-powered inventory, I’ll take it all back. And I might even buy a Harley T-shirt. 

What can we learn from the government shutdown?

We all know the government shutdown is stupid. What else can we learn?

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As we all now know, the dipshittery in Washington, DC has reached feverish levels and the U.S. government is “closed.” (Or more specifically, many non-essential services are on furlough.)

While I could rant and whine like most of the internet is doing right now, I thought my time might be better spent taking a look at what we can learn from this latest ridiculousness. So here we go:

Our political press sucks

OK, maybe we already knew that, but give me a break! How bad does this have to get? The corporate media is simply regurgitating press releases and repeating the framing of the leadership. And worse, framing it as just another dysfunctional fight between two equally stupid political parties. This is not accurate!

For example, look at this idiocy from USA Today:

As fights go, Wall Street views the slugfest between Democrats and Republicans over the government shutdown as the undercard event. The main bout is the coming showdown over raising the debt ceiling and making sure the U.S. has enough cash to pay its bills and avoid the unthinkable: defaulting on its debt.

To frame this as a partisan infighting is completely misleading! ONE side shut down the government in an exploitative move to overturn the results of an election.

Republicans hate America

Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true. What else can we conclude from a party that is willing to injure its own country just to get its own ideological way? If Russia threatened to cause this much damage to our country unless we capitulated to its demands, we’d consider it an act of war. Why do we consider a threat from within to be any different?

Look, I don’t care if you’re a conservative person or not (we used to have sane conservatives in the Republican party once upon a time). Even a true conservative would have to look at the moves by this party as traitorous. They’re putting party over country and it’s sickening. Here’s an idea: win a couple elections and then you can do whatever you want.

It’s worth remembering that the Civil War wasn’t started because of “slavery” per se, it was because an earlier version of the tea party refused to abide by the results of the 1860 election.

Congress keeps getting paid during a “shutdown”

In one of the more disgusting moves, members of Congress keep getting their paychecks during a shutdown, even as the Capitol Police work for free to protect them. “I need my paycheck,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers in one of the more disgusting quotes to yet be made public.

One person stops this

As happy as I am to kick the Republican party in the nuts over this, in truth there are enough votes in the Congress RIGHT NOW to end the shutdown. But Speaker John Boehner is refusing to call a vote, demanding “compromise”. Again, it’s hard to figure this out from the corporate media, but it’s true.

Gerrymandering is the biggest political problem in America right now

Yes, our politics are totally screwed up right now. Repeatedly polling shows the American people are on a completely different planet than the Congress. Gerrymandering has left us with a Congress that chooses its own voters instead of the other way around. Republicans are running out of older, disgruntled white people to keep them in office so they simply have drawn lines capturing more and more bizarre boundary lines in ways to barely hold their majority. There were many more votes for Democrats in the last Congressional election than Republicans but the Rs held the majority. The system is broken. ALL congressional boundaries should be formed by bipartisan committees or by independent judges, not drawn arbitrarily by the beneficiaries.

Obama is paying the price for his earlier weak negotiating

President Obama may go down in history as one of the most ineffective negotiators with Congress. Early in his presidency, he took an overly deferential approach, while the Republicans continually moved the goalposts on him. Now in his second term, he’s realizing no one respects him and they assume he’ll cave if they just stick to it. Hopefully they’re wrong, but history hasn’t made me very confident in that.

The debt ceiling is a much bigger deal

It’s been obvious for some time that Republicans have been very anxious to destroy the economy so they can make the president look bad. It’s bizarre behavior that has never been practiced by the other party. But will they go to the extent of not paying our bills and destroying the full faith and credit of the United States of America in the process? If I was a betting man, I’d say Obama gives them some sort of face-saving way out of this and we bumble along until the next time. But if the level of crazy has gotten deep enough, this wackjobs could actually dismantle the world economy, apparently for no other reason than they want to make a point. I doubt they’ll pull the trigger, but I’m keeping my money uninvested for a while longer just in case.

It’s about Obamacare — sort of

Republicans tend to be much more strategic than Democrats. I definitely think the timing of the Obamacare launch and the shutdown are not coincidental. I’m sure they saw an opportunity to erase all the happy stories of desperate people signing up for insurance from the media. I do think they bit off more than they could chew and this could end up being their Waterloo. We’ll see. Obamacare was ALREADY funded so the idea they could stop it by using the U.S. economy as a hostage is weird, but then again, see my next point.

The GOP primaries are the driving force in American politics right now

What is making the Republican party so crazy? Well, obviously it’s gerrymandering as mentioned above, where hardly any Republican need fear a Democrat taking their seat. However, they do have one fear: Another, more right-wing Republican taking them out in a primary. Show one sign of weakness toward the black president and these guys are gone. It’s a phenomenon creating a self-selecting evolution toward more and more crazy. As long as these voters remain so easily manipulated or as long as parties can carve out seats to their own benefit, this continues.

OK, maybe that’s enough political talk for one day. I have no desire to turn this into a politics blog, but given how hard it is to figure out what’s happening by watching our national media, I thought I’d put together a short backgrounder (from my own biased perspective, of course). Thoughtful comments and opposing perspectives are welcome. Nonsense name-calling and uninformed political stupidity will be deleted. Have fun! 

UPDATE: Time Magazine gets it:

time-cover

 

 

Wasting your money on fireworks is for suckers

Don’t blow up your savings on the Fourth of July

Photo: noppasinw via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo: noppasinw via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I still remember the year it happened. Defying all past precedent, our parents took us down the most amazing place on Earth: the fireworks stand.

We had never before gotten fireworks at home for the Fourth. I know some years we’d gone into the big city to watch the big show, my mom ooohing and ahhing at the splashes of light in the sky. Then the inevitable traffic jam home while we kids gave up trying to stay awake and fell fast asleep unbuckled in the back seat.

At 9 or 10 years old the fireworks stand was already legendary to me. Something we’d never experienced firsthand but had learned about through our more worldly friends. They described the sounds, power, height and close calls with voices trembling with excitement. Growing up on a farm in what was basically the wilderness at the time, we hadn’t even seen our neighbors blowing up fireworks before. When my friends talked about buying handfuls of bottle rockets, my mind reeled imagining what a bottle rocket must be like. Does it really make a bottle into a rocket? Wow!

So my brother and I were more than thrilled to be able to pick out fireworks from the stand. We pointed at the brightly colored boxes and occasionally we were steered by our parents away from items that were too expensive or dangerous. Oh man, this would be the best Fourth of July ever!

We were allowed to play on our own outside with the little ones. We put them under buckets, taped them to our army men and lit them and through them to watch them explode in the air. A few went off in our hands, but they were little enough to just hurt — no damage. But it was enough to make it thrilling. For awhile.

The other fireworks had to wait until it got dark for the full effect. An adult had to light most of those for us, carefully lighting the device and rushing away quickly. Then a whoosh of sound, a slight bit of apprehension as we waited to see if it would turn suddenly dangerous, then some light and noise and then just some burned-up paper remained.

My brother and I hoarded some of our little firecrackers for use later in the year, planning some epic explosion. But somehow the reality of the big boom never measured up to the dream.

And so it went over the years. One year we even got to go Blackjack, the biggest fireworks store I’d ever seen. (Which I now consider to be ground zero for idiots. Alert: The design of that web site is even more offensive than the fireworks themselves.) Occasionally we’d hear stories of someone scoring some of the mysterious “M-80s” and I had great fun at a friend’s house one year playing war by shooting bottle rockets across the ground at each other.

Then there was the time in high school when one of my idiot friends shot off a bottle rocket inside the car while we were driving. Or the time just a few years ago when some drunk morons shot a very large bottle rocket (accidentally) across the street, nearly hitting my 2 year old nephew in the face.

One of the most shocking fireworks scenes I’ve witnessed was when I was living in Chicago. I was over at some friends’ house for the Fourth and some of the local residents (clearly not wealthy people, by the way) closed off the street and began blowing up fireworks in the middle of the street. I wish I could begin to describe to you the amount of fireworks these people had. It must have been thousands of dollars worth. The garbage when they were finally done was as big as a large car. Just the garbage!

The problem got a lot weirder when governments cracked down on the danger and nuisance of these firecrackers. That’s when the concept of “illegal” firework came into existence. Suddenly you weren’t cool unless you were sneaking onto the Indian reservation to buy the “good stuff”. Like an arms race for ass-clowns, neighbors would try to outdo each other with bigger and more annoying fireworks.

That’s how things are now. Our neighborhood sounds like a war zone on the Fourth of July, scaring animals, causing fires and littering my yard with bottle rocket sticks, plastic pieces and paper. Perhaps the only thing more annoying than all of that are the bottle rocket scientists who can’t figure out what day it is, blowing crap up for days before and after.

All of this is a long story to explain why I can’t help but grind my teeth when I hear one of these “middle class is struggling” stories. I’m not saying the middle class hasn’t been hammered on several fronts and I more than recognize many people are having a tough time of it these days. But we do need to be honest and admit that a fair amount of this is self-inflicted. And buying fireworks is probably the dumbest way to turn cash into garbage.

Occasionally some bozo will try to pretend that the more crap he buys to blow up at home means he loves America more than everyone else. These fools stamp their feet and whine at every local government attempt to protect fingers, sanity and property claiming it’s their American right and freedom! Please. They’re just consumerist suckers being manipulated into wasting money. If they want to celebrate America, maybe they could spend the evening reading the Constitution or something. The Fourth Amendment is particularly relevant right now if time is short…

Whether you’re trying to get out of debt, trying to reach your pretirement goals or simply don’t want to be an annoying douchebag, skip the fireworks stand this year. Wasting your money on fireworks — such a fleeting moment of excitement — is just not worth it. Enjoy your community’s local fireworks show if you have one, or enjoy the show put on by your idiot neighbors if you like watching money go up in flames. But please, please, don’t burn up your savings on fireworks.

What do you think? Anyone else annoyed and dismayed by DIY fireworks? 

More unbelievable stupidity

Photo taken on May 6. So. Stupid.

Photo taken on May 6. So. Stupid.

Following up on my post the other day on stupidity, I had to add one more item. And I’m seeing so much stupid shit lately, I’ve decided it needs its own category.

This one is a doozy: It is, by my watch, the month of MAY. What do we have here? CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ON!!
I get you really think Christmas is awesome. And sure Christmas lights can look pretty sometimes. But, really, we’re just going to leave the lights on all year? WTF? Do we have endless amounts of money and a general hatred for the environment?

What is going on here?

Aaaargh!!

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