OK, to the question of the day: What do Atari, Neil Strauss, and State Insurance have in common? Well, not a lot actually, except they all get a mention in this post.
You may remember several weeks ago, I had an interesting time getting The Witcher running on Windows 7. Eventually I did, but not before opening a ticket through the Atari website explaining my problem. Please note the date on that post is 29 March. On the 21st of April I got a reply:
"Thank you for contacting Atari Support. Please accept our apologies in the delay with replying to your tickets. Due to technical errors we were unable to process your tickets from the system they were originally submitted through. Please navigate to the new redesigned Atari support site at http://www.atari.com/support submit a new ticket, and it will be promptly answered. Again please accept our apologies for this inconvenience."
So due to technical problems they weren't able to address my technical problem, and it took them nearly four weeks to let me know? Awesome. Because, you know, the average gamer is THAT patient!
So much for Atari. What about Neil?
I've been a bit of a fan of Neil Strauss since I read The Game - he managed to gain my respect for the self-awareness he showed within this and Emergency, and I've been following his blog for the last 6 months. Unfortunately, it seems that he's not quite the man I thought he was. On the 5th of April he made a blog post entitled "Don't Listen To Her", in which he supposedly 'debunked' the 'myth' that sense of humour in a man is important to women. If you're interested, go read the post, but the basic premise of his argument is that as the class clown in high school he didn't get laid much, and that rock stars get laid more than Chris Rock, complete with interview with Mr Rock in which he bemoans the lack of women throwing themselves at comedians - and therefore when women say 'a sense of humour is important' they are wrong.
It also got up my nose that he was using this flawed logic to tell men not to listen to women when they say what they want - because, you know, we obviously have no clue about ourselves, but instead are empty vessels awaiting someone to tell us what we're really thinking.
So anyway, I told him in a comment on his blog. I was polite and non-trolly, I complimented his writing and stated that I enjoyed his work, but that since I had such admiration for him I found this particular post disappointing, and then politely explained what I wrote above.
He deleted the comment.
I could understand being told to shut up, I could understand my comment being left to stand and ignored, I could understand other readers of the blog coming along and debating my point. But none of that happened. Instead, my dissent was censored, and that's why I've lost respect for Mr Strauss. I had a quick squiz back through his blog and it seems only agreeing and complimentary comments get to remain. And yeah, the comment was originally posted, I saw it up there a couple of days later. Now it's gone.
Shame on you, Mr Strauss. If you can't take criticism you will gradually wall yourself into a world of sycophants and then the rest of the world will leave you behind as you fail to change. Also, it's the discussion that makes a blog interesting, and the sparseness of comments on your blog seems to demonstrate that it could use a bit of discussion.
And if you don't learn to listen to women when they tell you what they want, you're going to struggle to maintain any kind of relationship with the kind of woman it seems you're after - smart, strong women do not tolerate people who invalidate them. Just saying.
So much for Neil, what about State Insurance?
Well, last year they put my car insurance premium up from $35 a month to $60 a month. Ok, fair enough, I'd had a speeding ticket (OMG first one ever!) and I know that affects your insurance premiums. It didn't explain the entire increase, but inflation happens, I understand that. However, this year they've upped it again. My license is no longer affected by the ticket, I have a 35% no claims bonus, various other discounts and my car has devalued to $3800. And yet, my premiums have gone up again, this time to $75 a month. So I emailed them saying "Please explain."
This is what I got back, in brochure form:
"Rising costs have impacted across the insurance industry. In the last twelve months, for every $1 of house insurance premiums the New Zealand insurance industry paid out around 92 cents* in claims. This isn’t sustainable given that other expenses such as operating costs also need to be covered by this premium. The insurance industry needs to increase premiums to more accurately reflect the real cost of insurance. This means offering insurance premiums that are affordable, yet also reflect the true cost of the risk."
(i think they might have missed the mark on the affordable part, hmm?)
They also claim that natural disasters and 'unforseen events' have raised the number of claims and driven the cost up.
"So how realistic is this?" I thought, and went looking for quotes from other companies. And discovered that AA will insure my car with the same cover for half the price per year. Guess which company just priced themself out of my market?
I've heard all sorts of things about State, but in all honesty I've been happy with their service over the years - that's 9 years - I've been a customer. However, my loyalty only stretches to the point where I feel I'm being ripped off, and they just lost it. Doubling premiums over the space of a couple of years when others are not doing so is .. unacceptable. So I have asked them to close my account and I'm moving my insurance over to AA. This appears to save me ~$450 a year.
I shudder to think what people who own cars that are actually worth something might pay..
Meanwhile, parent teacher interviews were as frenetic and crazy as always. 5 minutes is not long enough, and I feel really sorry for the teachers sitting in their chairs for several hours, being bombarded with concerned parents without getting a break because the schedule flies out the window within half an hour and then it's all on. But it's still kind of useful.
Apparently my kid rocks at physics. Should I be afraid?