Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sayanora, 2008!

Well, we survived the final year of the Bush regime.
2009 HAS to be better.

Remember, if Wilco is reading this: Please, Wilco. If you're playing the inauguration, hook me up?

Hope your 2009 starts off well. I'll be here, telling you all what's what.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Things I Learned In Business School

Mojo Nixon has a song, "Rock and Roll Hall of Lame," in which he sings*
"If it were a real rock and roll hall of fame,
there'd be a drug ATM
(I'd be there)
they'd hand out copies of 'On the Road' and 'Fear and Loathing' and 'Steal This Book,'
they'd show movies like Thunder Road
and Vanishing Point
It'd be a monument to teenage sex!"

And that's how I feel about the time I've spent in Business School. I spent a decade in the corporate world, and I can say that if Business School were truly teaching us what "it" is like, there would be courses on how to fire someone, how to protect yourself in the event of a round of layoffs, what to do when your boss decrees that everyone is to read "Who Moved My Cheese?" Instead, they teach us the mechanics and numbers and bits and bytes of business. Which brings us to this holiday installment of What I Learned In Business School: They don't teach you what you need to know.

Business Schools should have a required class called "What They Think About You," to teach the brash MBA students the regard in which they are held by the rest of humanity. This class would consist of showings of "Roger & Me," and "In The Company of Men," and "The Smartest Guys In The Room." Hell, we could even get Michael Moore as a guest speaker. An entire class of MBAs would have to face the fact that it is people like them, with their degrees, that are the direct cause of a lot of turmoil and dickery.

As in Business School, there would be case studies from Harvard. An entire week would be spent on Robert McNamara.

And just like in grade school, there would be field trips. First, to emptied-out Rust Belt towns where smart young MBAs got their first jobs, and promptly ran entire regional economies into the ground. Second, to one of the few remaining American automobile plants, where students would have to work the line for an entire day. Maybe this would quell some of the talk about how unionized employees are too over-paid and too lazy and can't deal with competition. Maybe.

And, finally, for good measure, the final exam would require the class to write about a novel. Not a textbook, not a "Manager's Guide To" whatever, a novel--the kind of book that smart people read. This is just one small step in my larger plan to make the world a better place. It might also give the future CEOs something interesting to talk about while they're getting embarrassingly sloshed at a "networking event."

I doubt any business school would offer this class. It's not in their best interest to tell their students that they cause problems in the world and that strict devotion to business principles can have catastrophic consequences. Nobody wants to hear that. It's just a lot easier to fight for the attention of the corporate recruiters that tell students how much they are needed and in demand. They don't teach you what you need to know, because your job offer depends on not knowing it. And that's another Thing I Learned In Business School.

* accuracy of quotation not guaranteed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Season's Greetings.

Well, I'm off to the mall to tell children the truth about Santa Claus.

Have a great holiday! Travel safe, stay away from Amtrak and your Republican relatives.

See you in the new year!


Frankie Machine

Monday, December 22, 2008

Amtrak Continues to FAIL.

A 16-hour trip between Chicago and Grand Rapids.
I never ever want to spend three hours in Holland, MI.
So far, Amtrak officials can explain only seven hours of the delay.

Chicago: Train leaves at 5:58 p.m. Sunday, Chicago time, 38 minutes late. Scheduled to arrive in Grand Rapids at 10:20 p.m. local time.

Porter, Ind.: Delayed 4 hours due to weather and a freight train blocking its path.

Holland: Train arrives at 4:10 a.m. local time, drops off passengers and proceeds half-mile into CSX yard.

Holland: Train stops in CSX yard after crew reaches 12-hour work limit. Waits about three hours for a new crew.

Grand Rapids: Train arrives at 10:02 a.m., nearly 12 hours late.

I like this excuse: "He said the crew blamed the delays on the weather and problems with switches."
Amtrak ALWAYS blames the switches! They've been blaming the switches since back when I was in college. Buy some new goddamn switches! The ones you're using don't frikkin' work! Um...yeah, the switches. Sure, Amtrak. It's the switches. I'm surprised you're not blaming Snidely Whiplash who has tied a girl to the track.

Fortunately, the story allowed comments, my favorite of which is:
the people who run the trains are real losers who have no lifes and take out their problems on their passengers. they are frequently rude, ugly, and stupid.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Small town values", Wasilla-style

Wasn't some commenter on this blog saying how great Wasilla was, and how it represented small-town America?

The mother of Levi Johnston, the 18-year-old boyfriend of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's teenage daughter, has been arrested on drug charges, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.

Sherry L. Johnston, 42, has been charged with six felony counts of misconduct, the newspaper reported.

I bet Levi learned so much from his mom. And they won't let gay people get married? They let this screw-up have CHILDREN! You know how hard you have to work to get charged with SIX felonies?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rick Warren makes Baby Jesus cry.

Rick Warren is full of hate and lies.

He went on to say he's opposed to gay marriage the same way he is opposed to a brother and sister marrying (that would be incest), a man marrying a child (that would be statutory rape), or someone having multiple spouses (that would be polygamy). Pressed by Waldman, Warren said he considered those crimes equivalent to gay marriage.

I've written about Rick Warren's lies here. He couldn't stop Obama, and so he decided to hedge his hate-bet and take away the rights of gay people. Why does this scumbucket Elmer Gantry keep getting airtime? I hope to God (mine, not his...two totally differenyt deities) that some journalist is getting the goods on this joker and the details are juicy. And that when this story hits, he's relegated to walking up and down the street with a hand-lettered sandwich board talking about the last days.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Things I Learned In Business School

Mrs. Machine and I were talking the other day, and the talk turned to Sparta.

She told me how Spartan training of their young men consisted of giving them less food than they required, to make them steal food from others. If they were caught, there was a Spartan beatdown. * This ultimately had the effect of weeding out the weak and making sure the resultant force was crafty and strong.

We have such a system in business school, too. It's called "The Curve." At my institution, the first-year curve demands that no more than 25% of the students can get an A in a desired class, and no less than 10% can get a C. So, yeah, people cheat. Fortunately, the curve more or less goes away in the second year.

The difference is, at the end of the day, the Spartans had a cohesive, bonded fighting force that was willing to stand with only 300 against an entire army of Persians. Today, if I had to stand with my class against the Persians...I wouldn't be sure who to aim at.

And that brings us to today's "Thing I Learned In Business School": Don't trust the bastards.

I'm not saying everybody in business school is a bastard, but the percentage is a lot higher than in the general population. There are people who will cheat, who will not pull their weight on team assignments, and who will simply go after other people for no reason. They pretty much identify themselves early on in B-school, and are proud of it. I've also found that GMAT scores are strongly correlated to the level of bastardity. I did some research, and have the graph to prove my point:

The Bastardity Index ranges from 0-10, with 10 being Ken Lay, and 0 being Jesus (who, funny story, was an actual bastard).

My remedy: Ostracization. Find some non-bastard allies and mock the living hell out of the bastards. Make fun of them behind their backs. Sure, it's juvenile, but what would you rather be: juvenile, or a bastard?

In the end, you have to watch out for yourself. If you can go to sleep at night knowing you have a soul, you're going to do just fine. And that's another Thing I Learned In Business School.

* Odd coincidence: My elementary grade school mascot was the Spartan.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New feature:

Today, I'd like to start a little experiment called, "Things I learned in Business School." I've been at it since September of last year, and I think I'm as qualified as anyone else out there reflecting on the B-school experience. Also, some websites that have similar insights are really lame. For instance, a quick Google of the phrase "Things I learned in Business School" returns the following tripe:

You can value an asset if you know its cash flows, the timing of them, and can quantify the risks of acheiving those cash flows. The whole area of the capital asset pricing model and modern portfolio theory was my second favorite thing I learned at business school. It made sense to me and given my engineering background, I found the math around these theories fascinating. I don't use the formulas very much any more, but my brain is now hard wired with these theories and I don't think of value any other way and never will.

You can wake up now. So, without much more pontificating, here is Frankie Machine's First "Things I Learned in Business School."

Never underestimate the value of flashy graphics to compensate for weak content and slipshod writing. I am right now typing this blog post while next to my elbow sits a printout of a paper that is absolutely unremarkable, passion-less, and devoid of substantive thought. I admit that. There was a lot due this week, and my grade in the class is not in much danger if I don't get a top grade on this paper. So, I'm going for style points. Here are key elements of transforming mediocre work into something an instructor might be fooled by.
1. A cover page. Preferably in color. Microsoft Word now makes it as easy as possible to add a professional-looking cover page. For maximum effect, follow this up with...
2. A table of contents. Section headings and their page numbers can go a long way to convince a professor you spent time on your project.
3. Footnotes. Academic-looking fine print is your best friend in this charade. Use them liberally.

Remember that business school is ultimately preparing you for the realities of the business world, so don't focus too much on content or thought. Why do you think they tell you to wear a suit to job interviews? Gussy up anything, and somebody somewhere will buy it.* And that's a Thing I Learned in Business School.

* see Wall Street.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Your tax dollars at work...

Arming the elderly menace.
A New Jersey company says they have gotten federal approval to market a gun to the elderly and hopes to have it subsized by Medicare.

Constitution Arms says its Palm Pistol will aid seniors with arthritis who would otherwise have trouble pulling the trigger. The device allows individuals to shoot by squeezing with their thumb.

Who thought this was a good idea? They certainly aren't readers of this blog. Soon enough, you'll see overly medicated elderly people going on shooting rampages with the help of these devices. The comments to the story are on my side, too:

"Be careful how you treat seniors. A casual remark may be deemed threatening and then, boom, goodbye. What a wonderful item to give your granny for Christmas! When she unwraps it, she will want to squeeze it and then boom, goodbye."

Lots of dead caregivers and grandchildren soon when Gramps thinks its a hand exerciser.

Maybe this blog needs to stick around after all.

Friday, December 05, 2008


I'm terribly sorry for the lack of posts.
There's been hecticness and franticness as of late. That and The Man keeps trying to beat me down.

Sometime, early next week, there will be some quality posts. Frankie's honor.

Until then, dig the crazy: