Winery ninjas and financial clairvoyants

Get a load of this bullshit from Craigslist:

Union Wine Company is on the hunt for 2015 Harvest Interns. Harvest here is hard. Therefore, we are only seeking the most motivated, industrious and assiduous persons in the world. We also have a lot of fun, so be ready for that too. The chosen will work from the first week in September through early November.

Depending on how good you are, you will be doing some combination of the following duties:
-Cleaning and sanitizing equipment (we all will do a lot of this)
-Sorting, destemming and crushing grapes
-Inoculations and additions
-Fermentation monitoring
-Punchdowns and pumpovers
-Draining, hours of digging, and pressing tanks
-Filling, racking, and topping barrels
-Juice racking, and wine movements
-Organizational activities

Before you email us, you should ask yourself – at the very minimum – these things:
-Can you lift 50lbs repeatedly and carry it wherever we tell you to? – Lift from the legs.
-Will you work absurd hours and forget you have a life? – Please shower though.
-Can you find reliable transportation to be at work on time? – If you’re not early, you’re late.
-Are you comfortable speaking and writing English? – This is a must, however we’re big fans of accents.

We would probably be more likely to consider you if these things pertain:
-You enjoy working on your feet for 12 hours or more.
-Humor is next to godliness.
-You learned to drive a forklift before you could walk. Or you are really good at walking.
-Learning to make inspiring wine is in your top two life goals.
-You cannot remember how many harvests you have worked in the past. However, if you are new to this, we would be delighted to show you the ways.
-The fear of heights is not a concept you are familiar with.
-You don’t like awful music.
-You have a 6th gear called “rally”.

If you are still reading this, think you can handle us and want to get crazy this harvest, then send us an email and tell us why. Please attach a resume (or CV if you’re not from around these parts).

If you “want to get crazy.” I’m already feeling it, and I don’t even work there. These fuckers obviously consider themselves irresistibly cute. Most of the qualifications that they list are written in a flip, unprofessional tone. The winery managers shouldn’t be surprised if they attract flip, unprofessional applicants. Nor should they be surprised if they attract bullshit artists, reckless showboaters, or corner-cutters. Where’s the line between not having a fear of heights and not giving a shit about the danger of working at heights? Det. Sgt. Mark Van Abel yelled at us about how if we’re not early, we’re late, but the San Diego Police Department wasn’t offering 70 hours of grueling seasonal work for three or four months followed by the remainder of the year on furlough. There’s something wrong with any food processing job that isn’t obviously less crazy and more tolerable than working for the SDPD. God knows there were some strange rangers in the Recruiting Unit, and I can’t imagine that their replacements are a normal lot, but the difference here is the difference between a solidly middle-class salary under a rigorous but scrupulously fair paramilitary command structure (or something like that) and patchwork seasonal employment under the direction of tactless showboaters.

This is the esteem in which modern American employers hold their applicant pool. They think we’ll respond positively to this sort of carnival barking. God help us, they may think so because it actually works. This kind of pseudo-chummy game-face bullshit seems to have been absent from help wanted ads in the midcentury, and even through the eighties and into the nineties. I don’t even recall it from my early job searches, circa 2000-2007. There was a surge of showboating asshattery in the workplace from the Gilded Age into the early years of the Great Depression, but its attenuation in a time of economic collapse and rising sobriety is small comfort in our time. We’re in our own Great Depression, our own early Fourth Turning, so where the hell is our return from callow, credulous idiocy and servility poorly concealed as “team spirit” to some measure of the honesty and decorum of our great-grandparents? When shall we, too, put aside childish things?

I’d be interested to hear what the vagabond layabouts on Pioneer Square think of my now-former colleagues at the blueberry farm being induced to hustle for the chance to win a five-dollar bill. Mind you, I’m not interested enough to go to Portland and ask them, because all they’ll ask in return is for, hey sir, spare any change for my pit bull, he’s hungry, boss, but at least the dirtbags live in a measure of truth. Hustling for a goddamn five-spot? You’d gross that in 33 minutes at the Oregon minimum wage. Do they even teach kids math these days? Like, that nine and a quarter is maybe a third more than five divided by percentage net pay after withholding, give or take, because the Man sure as hell isn’t withholding 45% on a minimum-wage paycheck? The sign-flying freeloaders on Pioneer Square are good enough at arithmetic to know that that pit bull in the bandana and the leather collar contributes addition, not subtraction, to the bottom line. Dog works for accounts receivable, dawg. And anyone but a total n00b knows that these fuckers work for Gobias Industries. The deserving homeless poor are too ashamed to hang out on Pioneer Square soliciting handouts.

There’s worse in the Pearl District. My parents and I once ate at a sidewalk restaurant around 18th and Glisan while a bull dyke in dingy sweatpants guilted some dipshits two tables over into buying her the most expensive sandwich on the menu, then stood on the sidewalk, practically in their personal space, waiting for it. She asked my parents and at least one other party to buy her sammich before finding her marks. One does not simply do that in ginger-ass Southeast. But the bull dyke was a symptom, not the disease. Chica wasn’t hustling through a berry field trying to win that Abraham. She was naming it and claiming it, and I believe it cost $8.95.

I expect the labor theory of value to return to this country about as soon as I expect Jesus. We wait in joyful hope.

Let’s check out another sorry-ass vignette of American hustle, this time from the Casey/Mauldin investor dandy e-mail subscription service:

I was watching the 6 o’clock news and saw images of closed banks in Greece and people lined up at ATMs. I’m sure you did, too.

This must seem surreal to most people because it seems so remote. But put yourself in these people’s shoes for a second. You have money in the bank. Suddenly you can’t get to it. After standing in long lines, you can only get 60 euros at a time, which isn’t going to last you very long.

What if you didn’t plan adequately and haven’t stashed away any cash? The banks will be closed for a while. What happens?

How do you pay for rent? Or food?

How does your employer pay you?

Do you go homeless? Or hungry?

Do you get really angry, take to the streets, blame someone or something (probably the wrong thing), break stuff, set things on fire?

Will Greece descend into anarchy?

It might.

Yes, do tell Mr. Wonka about the potential for civil unrest in the midst of an international economic crisis and a national bank run. So does Jared Dillian feel any sympathy for the Greeks in their time of economic hardship and national banking failure?

No Sympathy Whatsoever

I don’t feel sorry for Greece. I don’t feel sorry for the people in the ATM lines. They have had years to prepare for this day. Most people in similar situations don’t have so much time. I’m shocked that the banks had any deposits left at all.

Probably what will happen is that the banks will require a Cyprus-like bail-in and the depositors will take a massive haircut, getting only a fraction of what they once owned. There are no wealthy Russians to go after. The burden will fall on ordinary Greeks.

It’s also hard to feel badly for a nation of people who have chosen to pursue this ruinous political path—people who cast 52% of their votes for communists or neo-Nazis, and who have proven completely unable to take any responsibility for what has transpired.

Greece will probably respond to the failure of extreme-left Syriza by electing even more extreme politicians. It seems likely that they will choose a strongman to “get things done.” I think people fail to understand how totalitarianism can happen in the 21st century. Think of this as a YouTube tutorial video on the subject.

Ain’t that gracious. These people had years to give armed robbers the incentive to burglarize their houses by using them as storage spaces for hard cash and precious metals, and they chose instead to store their wealth in banks. Dillian is in finance, so one might expect him to have a sense of how one purpose of banks is to facilitate the safeguarding and accounting of wealth in financial forms so that depositors can spend their time and energy doing something other than guarding hoards of gold or banknotes from bandits. This isn’t one of the great existential mysteries. It’s like explaining how a grocery store is a place where one can buy different kinds of food.

Dillian tips the high hat to Athens because he’s better than them. They didn’t have the prescience to withdraw all their money from all the banks years before the bank run. (Would that have just caused the bank run years ago rather than today? Never mind.) They didn’t listen to the lunatics and con artists  in the goldbug community. They assumed that the banks, being under the jurisdiction of national and EU regulators and covered by deposit insurance, were a safer bet than buying gold certificates from some huckster who advertises alternative investments on late-night television and operates out of a post office box in Northern Idaho. But no, the failure of the banks couldn’t have anything to do with a rising tide of financial lawlessness in the EU because it has everything to do with Greeks being foolish enough to expect that their deposits would be covered in accordance with European law.

Syriza is not an extreme left government; it’s the alternative to an extremist government. “Don’t steal our citizens’ bank deposits and reduce them to eating out of garbage cans” is not extremism. Tsipras and Varoufakis are doing everything they can to chart a middle course that will keep Greeks from being provoked to the point of open revolt. Armed insurrection is not out of the question. No one with any sense wants that. Syriza is a latter-day New Deal coalition, not a junta of Stalinists. It’s kind of scary that so many people on the libertarian right wing seem to sincerely believe that center-left reformist elements like Syriza are the vanguard of the new Comintern. This is the sort of mentality that birthed the French Revolution. Syriza is why Golden Dawn, an unsavory bunch, remains a more or less minor party. It could be governing Greece in the springtime-for-Hitler tradition; instead it has that meathead who assaulted a political adversary on live television during government coalition negotiations a few years back. Of course, the Nazi Party had its own early years as a marginal crew of putschmongers before it framed a retarded guy for burning down the Reichstag. Things could get worse in Greece. Syriza is just about the only reason that they haven’t yet.

Then there’s the matter of the Northwestern European creditors who are all sore about their failed investments in points south and east. I’m not entirely unsympathetic to them, insofar as investment naturally carries some risk and investors should not be well and truly wiped out for making bad decisions, like Greece currently is for having gone insolvent as a national lender. Still, the big Germanic banks made some rather stupid decisions with their discretionary income, and now they want everyone but themselves to pick up the tab. It’s like listening to some dipshit on the Greyhound back from Vegas telling a sob story about how he played round after round of poker, and he sucked at it, and he lost all his money. (“Did I tell you about my friend who went to Reno? He went there in a $60,000 Mercedes and came back in a $300,000 bus.”) It’s like betting on the Cubs to win the World Series and then wondering how they didn’t even make the playoffs. As one of the old-time managers said of the Cubs and both colors of Sox, “It’s no curse. It’s horseshit teams.” Greece, one might say, was a horseshit investment. The EU wanted it as a market and a borrower in good times, and now everyone in Brussels has his panties in a wad because the EU and its big banks got hit with the downside of a high-risk investment that went to shit.

The more Syriza can do to keep the contagion from spreading, the better. Europe already has a massive external refugee problem. If its most butthurt creditors have their way, it may well end up with an internal refugee problem as well. As to the possibility of German soldiers physically occupying Greece to force repayment, which is the only option if the Greek government insists on standing its ground, it didn’t help Germany’s reputation last time, and the faint prospect of it this time has the shriller sorts in Greek politics expressing an interest in reparations from the Merkel government for the wartime atrocities of the Hitler government. The German imperialism meme dies hard. Bismarck has left the building; the funny little Austrian with the funny little mustache has not.

I’d suggest investing in Belgian, German, and Greek franchises of Gobias Industries. Business should be brisk.


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