Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Time for a Change, for a Tree Change

May 4, 2016



My wife took up a hobby last year: doll rescue.

Seems a lot of people were distressed over the image of young women being portrayed by new doll lines for young females – like the Bratz dolls.

Some think the dolls were promoting an image of… well, let’s just say it: streetwalkers.

Of course, some people don’t see it that way… to each their own.

What is interesting though is what is happening on the business side of this niche industry. And mostly on the Etsy shopping platform.

One of the most successful promoters in this market is Sonia Singh, and her business called “Tree Change Dolls”. And apparently the success has gone to her litigious bone.

Any vendor on Etsy that uses the word “tree” in their product name is shut down. Same with the word “change”. BAM! Shut down.

One store, Channeling Martha, was closed by Etsy because their keywords included “tree house” and “spare change”… Whoa! Doesn’t that just sing!? Unfortunately, that is dangerously close to “tree change”, isn’t it? (other terms others seem forbidden to use now include “repaint” & “made-under”. Sheesh! What’s next?)

Then there is another store that sold knitting patterns for doll-sweaters. She had been selling these things even before Ms. Singh came along. Apparently, since the late-coming Tree Change dolls wear knitted sweaters – and other sweaters might present something like… you know, competition… so naturally Ms. Singh had that shut down as well.

Perhaps Sonia got her break-out from forcing other shops to bend to her interpretation of the universe although perhaps this attitude only came about after she had achieved success. Perhaps this is the only method of protecting her marketshare she can think of. And it works, most certainly, the Mafia used it quite successfully in the twenties when they were running booze and guns. And if it worked so well back then, why not?

But I’m not exactly sure how long Ms. Singh is going to allow people to keep using her other favorite word: “dolls”.

I should imagine that soon anyone wanting to sell dolls on Etsy will have to use some other identifier meaning “dolls”. What it might be, I don’t know, but I am sure some creative people will… well, get creative.

Meanwhile, Etsy has become the storm-trooping arm of the Tree Change Dictatorship. (Hey, does anyone know if this lady is related to Kim Il Jong? Uh, maybe not.)

I told my wife, next time find a safer hobby, like skeet shooting in Tehran.



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Another PR Fiasco? Au Contraire!

May 12, 2015




I would be sadly remiss as a football fan if I did not weigh in on “deflategate”, as the multi-faceted fiasco is being called.

Brady-haters are cheering the comish for knocking the fellow down a few pegs even if he did stop short of reversing the Super Bowl win. They think the punishment is a good start for treating Brady.

On the other hand, the Patriot faithful are howling at the grave injustice of it all, especially since the Wells Report contained absolutely no evidence of wrong-doing. They claim Brady is being railroaded.

The majority of the press corps is talking about the adjudication by Goodell is not about the present case but includes all the former shenanigans the Patriots have pulled over the years. In short he is trying to stop the arrogance of the Belichick way of doing things.

Well, at least they are right in one respect, I think. This is all about the past.

No, not the past missteps of the Patriots organization… if I recall correctly, they have been penalized for every one of those things previously. They are being penalized for the missteps of one Roger Goodell, and all the disciplinary missteps he has made over the past season or so.

Goodell claims that the “deflategate” mess, that he claims (without any evidence) was created by the Patriots and as such besmirches the great name of the NFL. They, he crows, have tarnished the legacy… yada yada yada.

Perhaps he is most upset that they have infringed on his territory as “tarnishing the legacy of the NFL” has been mostly in his bailiwick for the past couple of years. And, if I might add, he has done an exemplary job of mucking things up.

So all the Brady-haters can gloat – who cares? the guy will be in the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible – and all the Patriotic folks can rail – the penalties will probably be overturned by an impartial panel, just like all the other proclamations on high by the Comish – because it all comes together to serve the MAJOR pirpose behind what Goodell really does extremely well:

It keeps the NFL in the news, center stage, being talked about. And, all things being equal, that’s really what is most important to Goodell, Robert Kraft, Tom Brady, all the other owners and all the other players.

The NFL is front and center in the news, in chats around the water cooler, and on a billion-and-one blogs (though this one might be the billion-and-second).

Everybody’s talking about the matter. Which means (of course!) that everyone cares.



***********************



Thanks again, Roger. You’re doing a marvelous job. (And there’ll be a little something extra in your next paycheck. [wink])



Bunches of Troubles

April 25, 2015








Maybe it’s just me, I suppose, but does anyone else notice something really odd about the bananas this year?

In previous years, I could buy a bunch that was a bit green and wait two days for them to be all yellow, and ready to eat.

This year, however, the green ones stay green longer at home and when I do crack one open it is all soft and mushy… which in previous years would have been signified with a spotty or brown peeling. So it is like the thing is unripened on the outside but over-ripe in the middle.

Weird, huh?

And then there are some that seem to be a bit grayish in their greenness and the surface seems to feel a bit waxy. These suckers do not change color one iota but are still over-ripe on opening.

Bruises to the banana used to show up on the peeling as well. A dark spot or brown patch would hint of something damaged inside.

Not so this year! The banana looks clean and perfect outside but inside has large mushy brown spots caused from either bruising or dropping from the top of the banana tree. Or rolling over it with a fork lift.

Normally, I go ape over bananas but this year it seems to have less appeal that before.

Unless, of course, you are making banana bread, whipped bananas, stewed bananas or fermented banana mash.

Maybe I’ll check out the organic bananas and see it they have the same problem.

Somehow, I don’t think they will.




They Should Be Proud, Right?

September 17, 2014

Monsanto is very proud of their developments – so they tell us – and yet are spending exhorbitant amounts of money to hide that very pride. Wherever people begin a drive to insist on full disclosure, the corporation brings out its lawyers to quash the entire movement.

And they keep losing!

They keep telling us that their product is better than natural foods because… well, it just IS, that’s all. And it makes them a helluva lot more money than natural crops ever did, that’s for certain.

And in today’s technology-is-great mindset, the very idea that we made food – up until recently something that was only in the bailiwick of nature itself – is really something we can gloat about. So, rather than hide the fact, they should be proud!

Here’s the label they should be putting on all GMO foods to show their pride in their accomplishments.

GMO label

I am certain the consumers – equally prideful in what amazing technology we have – will clamor to buy the stuff.

Having their lawyers attempting to circumvent the food labeling laws by claiming GMO is not really “food” is counter-productive. They should stress that not only is it FOOD, it is better than real food because technology has made it better; science has triumphed yet again.

The people at Monsanto have got to stop being so defensive. If they were a little more proactive with their advertising, they might be a little more successful.

If I saw one of these labels at the store, I know I would have to buy it.

I mean, they are bound to be a collectible some day as rare as they are going to be.

Ban Them ALL!

August 4, 2013

I know there has been a lot of BAN talk going around lately and I have kept quiet about the issue but I think that time has ended.

It is time to stand up and be counted!

Many people claim they use them for sport, others for hunting, some people use them only for work, or getting to work.

Some people claim they only collect the antique ones for show, like they’re not going to harm anyone.

But enough of this pandering to special interests, corporate bigwigs, and several societies and support groups, lobbyists and so forth.

These things have been proven to kill, individually and in mass, regardless of the “mental health” checks and testing done.

And now, according to the experts, the damned things are killing even more. Yes, they are killing the planet.

So I would like to stand up and be counted as one of those opposed to the madness. Let’s end the suffering.

Let’s ban the automobile and stop the senseless killing.

The air will be fresher, the world will live longer, there will be no more road rage and acts of violence with these weapons.

Write your congressman and let them know you support the auto ban today.


It Is Still a Scam

July 24, 2013

goodhands

A couple of years ago our garden was massacred when a tornado blew through our little village. Several large trees lightened their respective loads by releasing a few rather large limbs, and they did absolutely no good landing on our tomato and squash plants. Another tree fell on our shed and demolished it.

Still, what we got was minor compared to the fellow across the street. The tree in his backyard was toppled into his house, giving his bathroom with a much better view of the outdoors but it sure put a crimp on the privacy of the little room.

Anyway, we called our insurance agent… and got a recording. So, we left a message and waited.

Within an hour, the insurance adjuster arrived. No, not the one from our insurance company, the one for the fellow across the road. After twenty minutes there, the adjuster left with an encouraging word to the homeowner.

About an hour after that, our insurance company called back. And when could we expect their adjuster?

“Why don’t you just email the pictures to me?”

So, we emailed the pictures from our digital camera and a verbal description of the damage.

Several stages of phone tag later, we got the agent back on the phone and she said to go ahead and get the place fixed up. Well, except for the shed… it was so old, she said, they would not pay for the replacement of it.

A couple of days later – after sending several of the bills to the insurance company (scanned by email, of course) – the agent called back and complained of the high prices. What high prices? It was pretty much the going rates for yard cleanup and such from a company we have used before.

Since the cost was so much higher than she had estimated – like, we were supposed to have read her mind or something, huh? – she said we were going to have to forego some of the repairs.

Great insurance company, huh? They promised that we were in good hands but I suppose that is only for their auto insurance.

The next month, are bill arrived and my wife was outraged: the insurance rates went up!!

She called the agent and got the explanation that the rates would be higher for a year so they could recoup the legally authorized 60% of the money they paid out.

I thought there had been a law passed against that very thing years ago but I guess our wonderful legislators allowed that one to lapse (translation: they sold out to the insurance companies) or something.

Anyway, after a little math, I figured out that after years of paying the insurance company and the subsequent cost of the repairs, I could have simply gone without the insurance and taken a small loan to hire someone to do the repairs and I would have come out ahead.

Any way you cut it, insurance is just another federally mandated scam.


King of the Food Jungle, sort of

July 22, 2013

foodlion

My wife and I were returning home from our vacation and she wanted to stop at the store to pick up a few things for the scholastic camp she is running in the summer school session starting next week.

She normally did this at the Shoppers Food Warehouse or Safeway nearer to the school but she likes to support the local economy in our small community rather than the one in Fairfax.

So we pulled into the local Food Lion, she pulled out her list, and we trundled into the store.

Now, a word of warning, if you have a Food Lion store near you (and it may just be a regional East Coast franchise for all I know)… if you have one near you: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS.

Otherwise you will come away scarred!!

(maybe that’s a little harsh, but…)

Anyway, when we got to the checkout stand, she handed over the documents from the school to prove “tax-exempt” status. Schools won’t reimburse for sales taxes paid as they don’t pay any.

The cashier looked at us as if we were aliens or something. The she took the page to the manager who stared at the page and gave us the once over like we had pulled a weapon on her.

“I’m sorry,” she said, handing back the authorization documents, “but you will have to submit these to our corporate offices for approval. After that they will send us the authorization codes to process this request.”

My wife glanced at me before asking, “And how long will that take?”

If she was hoping it was something that could have been handled this afternoon, she’d have better luck sighting Bigfoot.

“About three weeks,” came the response.

So we had to foot the $5.80 in taxes…

No big deal, you say, but if you knew how much teachers normally pay out for students during the normal school year – and it is always quite a bit more than the measly $200 the IRS allows in right-offs.

Next time, she will just go to Shoppers, or Safeway, or Giant, or Albertsons, or Piggly Wiggly, or any of the other eighty-five stores that don’t have a problem with tax-exempt customers.

Before we left the store, the cashier told us that they had also turned away the local Baptist Church just that afternoon.

Food Lion, a mouse that roared.


Don’t Blame Me, It Wasn’t My Default

June 11, 2013

My boss came into my office this morning in a bit of a panic!!

A big meeting was coming up in fifteen minutes and the report she had finished at home in the wee hours needed to be printed.

Unfortunately, her computer had a meltdown and she had to sign onto her system from my computer.

It didn’t take long to switch users and she very quickly had the document opened and sent to the printer. Fifteen copies for the attendees of the meeting.

It wasn’t very long before we heard the scream.

She rushed in with the reports – a mere two minutes before the meeting – and showed them to me: misaligned, funky font, screwed up pagination…

In other words, a complete mess.

And, quite naturally, she assumed it was something I had done…

Well, of course…

While she freaked out, I opened the document to see a very nice array of “arial” words running amok on the page. Having worked with her for some time, I am familiar with the settings she normally uses and changed everything to her normal… Seeing the document return to some sense of reality calmed her down tremendously. Then she just had to re-format a couple of places in the document to make it look “right” again.

I guess she didn’t know that the word document had reverted to windows default when it was opened on any machine other than her own. Working quickly, I reformatted the thing.

The reports were printed and delivered to the meeting only a couple of minutes late.

And, of course, she still blamed me.

She didn’t understand that it was not my default, it was the system’s.

Yelp no Help

May 22, 2013

thumbs-down-small

I had a comment for a company on Yelp (among other places) and recently found it had been removed by their “spam filter”.

So I read their fac on what the spam filter was and how it works. Apparently this brilliantly-engineered piece of work can determine which comments are real and which ones are phony. You know, those people (usually competitors) who post bad reviews to make the competition look bad or friends of the owner of the business who praise it to the skies, usually with five stars and gushing with adoration.

So their filter removes all those annoyingly misleading comments so you can get the “real” story on the business.

Only thing, my and the other four complaints were removed as spam and the newest post (posted yesterday) is credited with being the “First Review” of this business… ignoring the other four, two of which were posted three years ago.

And this current, “First Review” even states: “the company asked me to put something up here”.

Another poster commented that Yelp was not doing anyone any good by showing only the Five ***** Star rated comment and hiding all the negative comments (i.e. complaints).

So I looked around the site and noticed – sure enough – there is no place to register a complaint about Yelp!

That’s as bad as Angie’s list where they charge you to make a comment! Yes, not only do you have to buy a membership to find out the low-down on prospective services, you actually have to pay to even register a comment about a company or service.

Oh, well… I guess we’ll just all have to learn the hard way: through our own mistakes.

The big companies are all too busy looking out for each others’ interests.


France may Have the Best Cuisine on the Planet but…

March 5, 2013

croissant
Titan International, a tire manufacturing company in the U.S. was offered a great opportunity:

To take over a failing French tire plant!!

Hey, who wouldn’t want a presence in France, hey?

Well, apparently not Maurice Taylor, head of Titan. He wrote to the French government that he was not interested in “helping” with their little problem.

He wrote, “The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!”

And then went on to say he was going to buy a plant in eastern Asia. He told the French they can keep their “so-called” workers.


Well, okay, so maybe the French are not known so much for their market economy, but just think of all the things they have to offer…

[ sound of crickets ]

Still they have the Left Bank, the Seine (or at least its polluted descendant), the Eifel Tower, and some lovely buttered croissants.

And somewhere back in the past they had some great vintages, several artists, and the original Napoleon.


So, who needs good workers when they can just rest on their laurels?