By any other name

July 3, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Business, Movies | 2 Comments
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Perhaps it’s the inner geek in me, the eternally-nine-years-old Star Wars fan, but when I hear that you’ve decided to rebrand your restaurant as “The Hut,” my mind does not immediately think of this:

pizza-hut-double

No.

It thinks of this:

jabba the hut

Mmmmmm. Appetizing.

Now I will eat at your establishment.

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Avast ye cubicle dwellers!

May 26, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Business | Leave a comment
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A preface: the aforementioned iPod Classic, left unharmed in my center console by the denizens of Hartford’s underworld, is serving me well on this, its maiden voyage out of Connecticut. I have, thus far, listened to nine podcasts, two playlists, and watched several episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the battery still going strong.

It was with this miraculous boost of energy that I was able to listen to not one, but two fascinating and related episodes of NPR’s new Planet Money podcast, completing the transformation of direct current into events current and amusing the hell out of myself in the process.

Episode 1, wherein a shipping company executive recounts the negotiation process involved with securing your ship back from a Somali pirate, complete with drama on the high seas, a mid-flight currency exchange, and (swear to god), a pirate in need of a ride home.

Episode 2, a follow-up, aired weeks later, wherein the pirate calls the shipping company executive for assistance in breaking into the business world as, wait for it, I swear I’m not kidding, a piracy consultant.

Which the shipping executive, of course, helps him with. This quote, from the pirate:

“If I become an expert on piracy and try to milk that, I think it is a legit business. The news media and global news media will need someone who is going to be an authority, to report from the inner feelings of a pirate, and to report whether pirates are going to stay around for a long time or not, and how to eliminate piracy.”

It’s just too good for words. You’ve got to listen to these two podcasts, just to hear the calm, measured explanations from both parties as they recount the story of this pirate, hostage taker, criminal…consultant.

I have already created, and encourage you to order, the following, from my new “Pirate turned Consultant” t-shirt line.

Pirate


On the Contrary, or, More People Being Wrong

March 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Posted in Business, News, TV | Leave a comment
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I have heard, today, two of the more chilling opinions on the future of our country.

The first: Robert Sheer on KCRW’s Left, Right & Center this week (I listen in Podcast form and thus am always a few days late) lambasting the banks for having the audacity to raise interest rates on their credit card customers after they miss payments. Almost more shocking – the banks are limiting consumer’s credit or even canceling their cards!

A bit of a tirade, if I may say so, on how banks shouldn’t be doing this to people that had lost their job, or were dealing with health issues, or had, I don’t know…stubbed their toe.

Hrm. Have we really arrived at a moment in this country’s history where the ability to spend money that you haven’t yet earned has become such an unassailable right that a company is wrong to tell you that:

a) We can’t let you to spend that much, because you can’t, you know, mathematically, ever pay it back, or

b) We’re going to have to charge you more to do so, since you know, mathematically we know you’ll never pay it back so we have to earn money from you somewhere.

Even more disturbing, later:

Rachel Maddow debating Duke Energy CEO, Jim Rogers, on the President’s proposed Cap and Trade program for carbon credits. Rogers is in favor of the idea, and the outcome, but made a very reasoned argument that the plan should be phased in so as not to produce a 40% price increase in a single years for consumers.

To this, Maddow asked if Duke Energy was profitable last year. 

Yes, Rogers replied.

Why not just cover the increase costs in your profit and lose money for a few years until emissions decrease, then, Mr. Rogers?

Is what she said.

Out loud.

Like, with her mouth.

As Duke Energy, one of the larger utility employers in the country, hemorrhaged money in support of this new government policy, how many jobs would be lost? How far would the stock value decline, and how many kid’s college funds or grandparent’s pensions (full of Duke stock) would get sucked right down with it?

How quickly would it be before their bonds were de-rated to junk status and their cost of debt became so high (stop me if you’ve heard this one) that the company became completely fiscally insolvent? How long after before this mega-industry (the utilities) was standing in line for a government bailout, another casualty of well-intentioned government policies that are financially untenable in a global economy?

She concluded, rather rudely, actually, by implying that since Duke Energy enjoyed all of the benefits from polluting the environment (by building government encouraged coal plants in the 70’s – stop me if you’ve heard this one), they should have to lose money as a form of apology to the citizens that had to live in the polluted environment.

Really? Duke Energy enjoyed all the benefits of cheap, mass electrification in the US? All of them?

Methinks you would sound a bit less silly saying that if you didn’t do it from a brightly lit neon room full of 600-watt plasma televisions.

This I cannot abide

February 11, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Posted in Business, News | 1 Comment
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It just keeps going on, and on, and on. Captains of industry paraded in front of Congress so that they can be demeaned and insulted. Witness the latest, from the fine Democratic Congressman Michael Capuano.

He has no questions. What he does have is a misdirected, ignorant, intellectually dishonest rant. Why? Because it’s easy. That’s it. There is no desire for the greater good. There is no search for truth. 

These morally bereft ass-clowns, these professional panderers, will tear down this group of people for no other reason than the fact that they have suddenly found that they can. Can you imagine the stones required to sit in the United States Congress and insinuate that these CEO’s should be prosecuted and imprisoned for trading Credit Default Swaps, when you yourself signed the damned law that made it legal to do so??? 

As usual, Wonkette nails it:

Which leads us back to Michael Capuano’s rant today, about how he “thinks” credit default swaps and such are “illegal” — it is his opinion! — and “cannot believe” that people who’ve used them haven’t been prosecuted. Well let us help you figure out why, Mister Congressman!Here’s the roll call for a House bill called “Making Appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services for Fiscal Year 2001″ that President Clinton signed into law on December 21, 2000. You voted for it! And included in this package was something called the “Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000,” the one that — thanks to Alan Greenspan’s weird, intrusive lobbying efforts — completely deregulated the derivatives market. So that is probably why these bankers haven’t been prosecuted.

What must it be like for gentlemen like Jamie Dimon, a man who essentially created the largest financial company the world has ever known out of thin air, to lay prostrate before this blathering idiot. How the skin must crawl, the teeth must grind. To have spent decades to reach these heights of personal and professional achievement and be sullied by this man.

Michael Capuano. A man who graduated Boston College Law School in 1977 only to immediately fill his father’s Alderman’s seat in the small New England town of Somerville. Having held this esteemed position for thirteen years, Capuano succeeded in becoming the mayor of Somerville, a town of roughly 70,000 people. Eight years later (real mover, this chap), Capuano was elected, unopposed, to the United States Congress. He has since been re-elected five times, having run unopposed each time.

What you have here is a man who has spent his entire life winning professional popularity contests against himself

And what are his great legislative accomplishments? Let’s take a looksy. Oh, dear. Goodness. Right from the website, folks:

…and he significantly expanded the number of Massachusetts citizens eligible for home loans issued by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

You unbelievable, hypocritical ass.

Understand what is meant by “expanding the number of blah blah blah eligible for home loans.” This means lowering the credit standards for handing out mortgages so that more people can own homes. Why? Well because when people own homes it’s better for the community, naturally. What’s that you say? When you force banks to give mortgages to people that shouldn’t get them, you ultimately end up with a blighted, foreclosed, crime-ridden cesspool? Ft. Myers anyone?

No surprise here folks…Cape Coral along with Lehigh Acres have become the crime capitals of SW florida. Gangs, home invasions, shoot-outs at the local gas stations, hit & run fatalities, grow houses by the dozen… just part of “Keepin it real” here in banana land.

Let me get this straight. You (and your colleagues) push for banks to make more home loans to riskier and riskier individuals. Banks comply, package these mortgages and re-sell them (as mortgage-backed securities) in order to (wisely) mitigate their risk, take out insurance on these securities (credit default swaps are just a fancy way of saying “securities insurance”) based on legislation that you passed under the last Democratic President, and when deadbeats stop paying their bills and the whole system comes crumbling down around us, you publicly castrate the people that were forced to build their businesses atop this house of cards that you helped create.

You bottom-feeding ass. You unaccomplished idiot. Shame on you, sir.

Shame on you.

Archival Footage – Episode 1

January 30, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Business, Life | Leave a comment
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I headed over to MySpace today (for the first time in about six months) to erase myself from that rapidly disintegrating universe. After navigating through the required screens, I was presented with a message indicating that all the content I had created would be destroyed.

Troubling.

I used to blog on MySpace, and I like those blogs. So here is what I’m going to do. I’m going to reprint those blogs here, steadily over time, until I have moved them all. And then I will remove myself from that wretched, cursed place. So, jump into the wayback machine with me, back to the heady (and apparently much more vulgar) days of June 2006….

Great Moments in Advertising

I was showing this to a friend the other day and I thought that I would share it with you. I now present the greatest moment in the history of advertising:

safetyswitchad_jones_5002

There are so many great things about this ad:

1. Fear as a selling tactic. 

“If you don’t buy this product, SOMEBODY WILL DIE.” That is just so great. You could sell so many things like this – “If you don’t buy these Cool Ranch Doritos, Carl will die!” Shameless and fantastic.

2. The “Private Office” label on the window.

What kind of menial mid level management executive are you? You don’t even get your name on the door, you just work in the “Private Office.” At my office in Charlotte, that’s what we called the shitter.

3. The executive’s hair line.

What is that? Is that a mohawk? What’s going on with this guy’s head?

4. “Prevents Unnecessary Death From Electric Shock”

As opposed to the necessary deaths? Are we to be led to believe that if it wasn’t Jones that bumped into the exposed safety switch, this wouldn’t be so bad? What if it was that assclown Murphy? Would it be ok then? Anyone but your precious Jones.

Fuck you Jones. I’m glad you’re dead. You had it coming. You know why.

 

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