Category Archives: Capitalism

Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger Review…

I wonder how much Wendy’s would pay this guy to never review any of their menu items.


Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Capitalism


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Texas’s Definition of Pro-Life…

Texas’s Definition of Pro-Life…

I might have to agree with John Lennon that “woman is the nigger of the world.” If George Zimmerman is acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin, the streets will rightly fill with protestors. However, a Texas man was acquitted for murdering a woman who refused to have sex with him and public reaction is muted at best.

Ezekiel Gilbert shot Lenora Ivie Frago in the neck on Christmas Eve, after she denied his requests for sex and wouldn’t return the $150 he had paid her, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Under Texas law, an individual is authorized to use deadly force to “retrieve stolen property at night,” and Gilbert’s lawyers cited that provision as justification for Gilbert’s action, reasoning that Frago had stolen $150 from him by taking his money without delivering sex.

I understand lawyers have an obligation to zealously defend their clients, but I think that’s adequately fulfilled with a successful manslaughter plea rather than arguing that a woman’s body is “stolen property.”

Frago was an escort, and although there’s often a “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” understanding about the extent of service provided, she was under no legal obligation to have sex with Gilbert, who I don’t believe was even charged with the criminal act of soliciting prostitution — although, his defense was based entirely upon the admission of this illegal act.

Because Gilbert walks free, this endangers the life of every professional escort who dares to obey the law. Ellwood City Ledger reporter Eric Poole put it best in the comments for the linked ThinkProgress article:

The idiot judge who failed to tell the jury that it wasn’t allowed to consider a property recovery defense, because even I – a reporter who covers police and courts – can see it doesn’t apply here. He paid for an escort. He got an escort. Case closed. He used a gun in an attempt to compel the woman to commit an illegal act.

By Texas law — he killed someone in the commission of a crime (attempt to coerce another person to break the law) — Ezekiel is not only guilty, he ought to be subject to the death penalty (I’m opposed to the death penalty, but the law says what it says).

Let’s be clear: Texas just let an attempted rapist and successful murderer tap-dance out of the courtroom.

In court, Gilbert, 30, testified that Frago spent 20 minutes inside his apartment before she left, telling him that she needed to pay her driver. Defense attorneys Bobby Barrera and Roy Barrera Sr. claimed that Frago’s “driver” had been her pimp, and argued that under Texas law Gilbert had been within his rights to use deadly force to recover his stolen property.

I guess the gun didn’t make Gilbert brave enough to confront the alleged pimp rather than the unarmed woman.

Recently, Texas Governor Rick Perry endorsed a so-called “fetal pain” bill that would ban abortions in Texas after the 20th week of pregnancy, because he will not “idly stand by while our unborn are being put through the agony of having their lives ended.”

But once that unborn child turns 21 and stiffs a guy who paid for sex, well, I guess that’s just business.



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Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Capitalism, Social Commentary


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“Ronald’s not a bad guy”…

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson responded to criticism that the fast-food giant’s advertising directly targets children with perhaps the creepiest statement possible.

“We are not the cause of obesity. Ronald is not a bad guy,” Mr. Thompson said Thursday. “He’s about fun. He’s a clown. I’d urge you all to let your kids have fun, too.”

I’d question equating eating at a fast-food restaurant to “having fun.” And isn’t he basically promoting the marketing strategy that presents McDonald’s as a sort of mini-Disney World with cuddly mascots and good times until the inevitable negative consequences? Actually, it sounds a lot like Pleasure Island from Pinocchio.

Mr. Thompson has been trying to revive sales at the fast-food chain, which recently reported its fourth monthly global same-store sales decline since October, when sales at restaurants open at least 13 months fell for the first time in nine years.

Don Thompson is McDonald’s first black CEO — although he never refers to the chain as “Mickey D’s.” Anyway, if he can’t turn things around quickly, I hear Mitt Romney is interested in replacing him.

Mr. Thompson told shareholders on Thursday that the company is seeking to add more healthful items to the menu. The chain has added fat-free milk and apple slices to kids’ meals, recently introduced breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites and, in some markets outside the U.S., is selling skewers of kiwis and pineapples.

“We would like to sell more fruits and veggies,” he said.

When a restaurant uses the term “veggies,” all you should expect are oddly textured iceberg lettuce and those diced tomato chunks that are the same red as a Jersey girl’s tan.

I also can’t believe people still fall for the egg white scam. Most of the nutrients in an egg comes from the yolk, and eaten in moderation (about two a day), the cholesterol level is nowhere near as problematic as the oil-drenched hash browns, the sodium-stuffed sausage, or even the empty calories from the bread that accompany the breakfast sandwich.

I do admire the nine-year-old girl who asked Thompson to stop “tricking kids into eating your food.”

Still, as odious as the kid-centric ads are — especially the one in which Ronald appears to abduct a small child, the commercials that try to present McDonald’s food as part of a “hip” and “active” lifestyle are arguably just as appalling. They can’t even cast just one person who looks as if they might each this stuff regularly rather than size zero models.


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“I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”…

Yahoo!, which has effectively stored my spam e-mails for almost a decade, announced today that it will purchase Tumblr, a blogging service I don’t use (not a shock given how dated a reference the headline of this blog post is).

The combination of Yahoo and Tumblr creates an online powerhouse with roughly one billion users, which will draw in more advertisers and help Yahoo keep visitors on its properties for longer periods of time, (Marissa) Mayer told Reuters in an interview.

“Tumblr in terms of users and traffic is an immediate growth story for us,” she said.

Sounds like the sort of great idea a high-powered CEO such as Mayer would have.

But then…

Analysts say Yahoo appeared to be overpaying for a business that has never posted a profit, makes a fraction of Yahoo’s sales, and may not contribute significantly to revenue for years.

“Even if revenue was $100 million, it means Yahoo paid 10 times revenue,” said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis. “Ten times is what you pay to date the belle of the ball. It’s on the outer bands of M&A.”

Actually, if you’re paying anything to date the “belle of the ball,” she’s actually a prostitute… of the ball.

One question Yahoo may have to address is Tumblr’s reputation as a home for pornographic blogs. At one point in 2009, about 80 percent of Tumblr’s top sites had something to do with adult content. Today that number is closer to 5 percent, according to Quantcast data, but the old image lingers.

Yahoo! can clean up Tumblr all it wants, just so long as it remains the ideal source for information about former Doctor Who star David Tennant’s hair.

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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Capitalism, Pop Life


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Now time for… “Well, That’s Creepy”…

Employers at some companies are attempting to use Facebook as the ultimate follow-up interview:

It’s become standard practice for employers and schools to peruse potential applicants’ Facebook profiles. But in some cases, they are going even further: Some have demanded applicants hand over their passwords so they can view individual’s restricted profiles.

Justin Basset is just one of those individuals. Basset was finishing up a job interview, according to the Associated Press, when he was asked to hand over his Facebook login information after the interviewer couldn’t locate his profile on the site.

Well, that’s creepy.

It’s been long understood that you have no expectation of privacy on the Internet. The belief is that anything you post online is voluntary and public knowledge. You can’t write an Op-Ed criticizing Walmart and expect that not to impact your ability to get a job at Walmart. People are often terminated for writing about their workplaces in their blogs or on Facebook.

Public perception of the Internet has changed somewhat as usage becomes more widespread. Searching for information about someone online feels less like reading old newspaper articles about someone and more like rifling through someone’s underwear drawer.

Facebook serves many purposes. There are both professional and personal pages. However, it’s ostensibly an online scrapbook, a place where people share photos of their families and vacations, make engagement announcements, and wish someone happy birthday just under the wire at 11:59 p.m.

The most benign — but still creepy — reason for seeking access to someone’s Facebook account is probably to ensure that the candidate doesn’t badmouth former employers or make devil horns when posing for photos. It’s still pointless — people have badmouthed their bosses for as long as bars have existed. The issue with the devil horns is more understandable. You can’t trust those people.

However, as someone who has interviewed and hired people, I find it astounding that anyone would ask for the password to someone’s Facebook account. Sure, employees hand over their social security cards and driver licenses on their first day at work but that’s after they’ve been hired. Facebook profiles also contain a host of information that is illegal for an interviewer to ask an applicant: age, marital status, whether you have children or plan to do so, national origin, religion, disability, and so on. You can’t conceivably claim you wish to acquire information from Facebook that isn’t by definition personal. The request for access is also direct and can’t be rationalized as a slip of the tongue (i.e. “I see you attended University of Georgia? Where you still there when they were on the quarter system?”). It’s clearly illegal.

“It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process,” said Catherine Crump, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, on the ACLU’s website. “People are entitled to their private lives.”

People might seem to live their lives more publicly online but I don’t think how they live those lives have changed all that much. Mildred in accounting performed her duties perfectly well for years before the Internet more easily allowed you to learn she was a weekend dominatrix. Nothing changed but your knowledge of her off-hours life.

“In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information,” Facebook’s (Erin) Egan said.

“This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

What Egan doesn’t say is that this jeopardizes Facebook’s product. Facebook makes a fortune selling your personal information. Sanitized, employer-background-check-proof profiles that don’t list all your “likes” or any relevant demographic details are useless to them. If people don’t feel safe to “overshare” on Facebook, it eventually goes the way of Friendster.

Then employers will have to rely on information relevant to the positions for which they’re interviewing to base their hiring decisions. There’s an Aesop fable in there somewhere.

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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Capitalism, Pop Life


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The Many Loves of Rick Santorum…

I’ve stated before that Rick Santorum is the political version of Nick at Nite: His views all come from the 1960s. In an especially dated episode, Santorum says that insurance shouldn’t cover birth control at all.

“This has nothing to do with access,” he said. “This is having someone pay for it, pay for something that shouldn’t be in an insurance plan anyway because it is not, really an insurable item. This is something that is affordable, available. You don’t need insurance for these types of relatively small expenditures. This is simply someone trying to impose their values on somebody else, with the arm of the government doing so. That should offend everybody, people of faith and no faith that the government could get on a roll that is that aggressive.”

Yes, this is the same guy who has won 4 out of 8 GOP presidential contests so far.

Let’s examine what he says here: He makes the case that insurance is essentially requiring someone else to pay for something they find morally objectionable. He tortures logic like it’s a Gitmo inmate and claims that providing a “choice” is “imposing” values on others. I wonder if I can get a refund for all the money I spent on insurance premiums during my vegetarian years that went to treat ailments resulting from eating meat.

I thought freedom of choice meant that we respect the rights of people to choose to do things that don’t personally affect us. Guess not. No, it just means that we are free to do whatever is agreeable to other people.

Santorum ignores the fact that birth control such as the pill can have uses beyond turning women into Catherine Tramell from Basic Instinct. He also argues, based on his extensive experience as a woman, that birth control isn’t really an “insurable” item because it is “affordable, available.” The availability argument is interesting. I see car lots all over town. Guess I shouldn’t bother insuring mine. Is he correct about the affordability?

I popped over to Planned Parenthood’s Web site, where I received an e-abortion, to get a rough estimate on birth control pills. Looks like they range from $15 to $50 a month. Santorum probably also thinks comic books still cost a dime.

Let’s see: That’s $150 to $600 a year; $5400 to $18,000 over 30 years. Maybe I shouldn’t insure my car.


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You’ll never get rich chasing wealth…

President Obama recently addressed the charges made against him of waging “class warfare” and managed to inadvertently illustrate the growing sickness in American culture.

“This is one of the biggest things I’m going to be pushing back on this year, this notion that this is somehow class warfare, that we’re trying to stir up envy,” Obama said. “Nobody envies rich people, everybody wants to be rich. Everybody aspires to be rich, and everybody understands you’ve got work hard to be successful. That’s the American way.”

The president states that the “American way” is the desire to be “rich.” This in itself is an empty pursuit. I could give Obama the benefit of the doubt and interpret his statement as shorthand for what money can provide — security, health, education, leisure. However, Americans in the Blackberry Age have sacrificed leisure and health for money and status. Education in America is viewed as merely a means to an end to achieve wealth. This is the Trade Schooling of the U.S. from journalism to law. The critical thinking skills learned in school is denigrated as “leftist indoctrination.” The Darwinian nature of the U.S. economy fuels the fear that keeps Americans running on their hamster wheels: We must stockpile enough money to cover our medical expenses if we get ill, and we need enough to maintain our dignity when we get old. We are just as scared and frightened as we were prior to discovering fire. The only difference is we have iPods.

Collectively, how rich are we? We aren’t very rich in the ways that matter, but how do we do on paper at least? The median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445. Charles M. Blow of The New York Times recently described the American sleight of hand involved when defining what it means to be “rich.”

…according to a December Gallup report, Americans set the rich threshold at $150,000 in annual income. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau 8.4 percent of households had an income of $150,000 or more in 2010.

…according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last month, nearly a fifth of families making less than $15,000 said that they were middle class and nearly two-fifths of those making more than $100,000 said that they were middle class.

In certain ways, no one wants to be rich or poor. Denying the latter makes sense. It’s why bald men still buy Rogaine. However, I think no one wants to consider themselves “rich” because America views itself as the land of the middle class. The rich are the “elites” in New York, D.C., and California. “Rich” also has the connotation of unearned money. This is why you’ll often hear, “We’re not rich. We worked hard for what we have.”

On an emotional level, though, I think many Americans don’t feel “rich” because they don’t feel secure. The politicians who want to keep Americans on their hamster wheels find it increasingly necessary to knock other countries whose citizens do feel more secure. Canada took a rhetorical beating during the initial debates regarding the Affordable Health Care Act. Mitt Romney frequently derides Europe when warning voters about what Obama plans to do the U.S. This is interesting upon reflection — the Kenyan Muslim wants to make America more like the land of our (well, not really mine) forefathers. It’s almost flattering: Conservatives would never have accused Jesse Jackson of Eurocentrism 30 years ago.

Let’s examine this “European socialist welfare state” of Romney’s nightmares: The average salary in the European Union is 38,000 Euros, which based on the exchange rate roughly equals the U.S. average. Europe has economic woes — as does the U.S. The conservative spin is that Europe’s social programs are to blame, but the trail of blood leads to the same butler who killed the U.S. economy — shady banks and toxic assets. Romney can’t be bothered to explain how that relates to how the government uses its tax dollars. Most Europeans enjoy universal health care and free education. These are two areas that cause Americans a great deal of concern. As both grow more expensive, Americans continue to burn rubber on their hamster wheels.

The misinformation that Romney and others spread about Europe compared to the U.S. probably serves its purpose. My own admittedly biased experience is that people seem far happier there than here, where the resentment and fear produce the malignant growth known as FOX News. Europeans are less contentious about religion and value education. They do lack the “American dream,” which as a conservative acquaintance explained is the lack of a “new car” or “vacation home.” Even if this were true, when did the American dream no longer mean freedom but instead meaningless status symbols?

Keep those hamster wheels running. Don’t you feel richer all ready?



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