Blake Snow

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Tagged stupid human tricks

You’re doing it wrong: 7 bad habits of well-meaning parents

courtesy scary mommy

In many ways, modern parenting is a marked improvement over past generations. Many parents today are much more involved, supportive, gentle, and engaged in their children’s daily lives.

On the other hand, my wife and I have observed several not-so-good habits of contemporary parenting. They are as follows:  Continue reading…

The secret to life is working to death, experts say

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

PROVO, Ut. — Want to get ahead in this world? Work lots of extra hours — even nights and weekends — experts say, and it will all be worth your while.

“It’s easy to forget what’s most important in life,” says Bill Loney, a certified life coach who hasn’t quite made it in life yet. “Family, friends, and social activities that can often inspire and enrich the life of an individual… these are all distractions in getting more work done,” he adds.

Emma Royds, who hasn’t stopped looking at her smartphone every five minutes for three straight years, councils that most people actually die wishing they had spent more time — not less — working. “People never regret working too much,” she says. “My neighbor opted to do adventurous, social, and fitness-related activities with family and friends in his spare time.

“Now 80, he told me recently he really wishes he would have spent more time on TPS cover sheets, obsessively trying to turn his company into the next big thing, and reading email during every waking hour of his life. It’s kind of sad, really.” Continue reading…

Attention, humans: How to influence more and be persuaded less

influence-the-psychology-of-persuasionHumans are usually influenced in one of six ways, argues Robert Cialdini in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I suspect there are a lot more subtle and intricate ways to influence, but I think Cialdini certainly covered the highlights in his popular book published in 1984. They are as follows:

  1. Reciprocity. Humans feel obligated to return favors and gifts, even unwelcome ones—which partially explains why their are so many free samples in life. Hence, giving away something for free is an effective way to influence. You can avoid this influence by distinguishing uninvited gifts from welcome ones. For example, “I didn’t want this free food sample to being with, so I won’t feel obligated in giving you anything in return if I take it. Another thing to beware of are unwelcome concessions; say a door-to-door salesman that asks you to donate a large sum to a cause you aren’t interested in, only to lower the donation amount in the hopes you’ll donate something. The takeaway: Don’t donate unless you want to, not because someone is seemingly compromising.  Continue reading…

When “economic development” goes wrong

seinfeld umbrella salesman

Seinfeld

In a market economy, I believe state run economic development can sometimes be a good thing. But I suspect it’s usually a bad thing. Here’s why, in which a Rhode Island state treasurer cautioned against backing a celebrity owned company that would ultimately become a $75 million bath for taxpayers:

“In general, I would proceed very carefully on this.  [The company] is in the Boston area where there are 200 venture capital firms, and it is in a very hot area of gaming so if it were in fact a compelling investment I would have to think it would be well funded already by venture capitalist; the fact that many have looked at it and passed is a red flag.”  Continue reading…

Hearing academics speak obnoxious English makes my ears hurt

unfortunate-brothersMy wife and I went to a screening of Unfortunate Brothers last night. It’s an affecting documentary by Dodge Billingsley about the political, economic, and cultural divide of North and South Korea.

The film is touching, insightful, and kept me engaged for 55 minutes. It also made me sympathize with the plight of North Koreans.

The only problem: The movie was screened to a group of eggheads at BYU, my alma mater, and all the academic and naive student types that congregate there. And not just any kind of academics—the “international relations” kind that like to talk political theory, solve other country’s problems from afar, and use big words to make themselves feel like they’re contributing to society.

For example: After the screening, an expert panel of three pleasant fellows including the filmmaker fielded questions from about 80-100 attendees. The second “question” came from an assumed student that liked to hear himself talk. He talked about how the movie “moved” him. In between lengthy pontifications, he said, “I guess my question is” three times. He talked a lot. He was the opposite of concise. Continue reading…

This advice doesn’t apply to you

Hey, you. Yeah, you—the one reading this. The one that says ignorant things like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” “I’m busier than you,” or “I only require 3-4 hours of sleep.”

This research by Harvard obviously doesn’t apply to you, because you’re the exception in life. You’re superhuman.

For the rest of us, the study is a convincing reminder of mortality. Not only convincing, but alarming.

Continue reading…

I lost respect for the museum curator who hung this

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I’m tired of seeing art like this in museums. Last year at my local MOA, someone staged an entire room with nothing but lighting and black pebbles on the floor against an undecorated wall.

My take: Mediocre art like this doesn’t deserve to be in museums. It’s a clunky, cliche, and thoughtless attempt to challenge the definition of art.

We get it. Art can be anything. Pollack and Warhol said so decades ago. Many others before them did the same.

Now stop displaying gimmicky art, museum curators. You’re keeping wall space from more talented and original art.

Snob rant, over and out.

Don’t blame “information overload” for your tiny attention span, blame yourself

Screen shot 2012-01-06 at 3.46.40 PMSince the dawn of the web, humans have become increasingly distracted. Our attention spans are crap now.

But it’s not because of information overload (which is bunk), argues Clay Shirky. It’s because most people don’t know how to filter useful information from noise. Or worse, they have no self discipline and are incapable of saying “no,” “this isn’t or no longer is helping me,” “when,” or “enough is enough.”

As Shirky calls it, “filter failure.”

So the next time you hear someone blaming “information overload” for their lack of focus, remind them to grow and pair and prioritize their life to the point of quitting useless or excessive behavior.

Next!

I yawn at “built from the ground up”

built-from-the-ground-upI’ve purchased a lot of product in my life. And if there’s one selling point that gets me more than anything else, it’s something that’s “built from the ground up.”

Whenever I read this, all my consumer concerns melt away. I hate nothing more than buying something that’s built from the ceiling down — or worse, built upon or added to something that already has a sound foundation.

Now I realize some people may glaze over this cliche. Not me. It’s irreversibly tied to the action of me removing my wallet and reaching for plastic. Hook, line, and sinker.

Want to write gooder? Use “back in” more

stephen_colbert_finger_wagIf there’s one writing habit I simply adore, it’s seeing a writer use “back in” when referencing previous years or months.

For example: “Back in 1845…” or “Back in December.” In such instances, the leading “back in” solidifies my otherwise horrible sense of time. Without that “back in,” I’d be completely lost.

Just today, reading a cryptic “In 1997” left me utterly confused. Since I have no concept of past, present, or future tense verb usage, I wasn’t 100% certain the writer was referencing history.

Worse is when a concise writer references a previous month without the oh-so-enlightening “back in.” After all, it’s not like the reader can assume you’re talking about a previous month, especially since you didn’t also reference a year. Case in point: Is “In July” talking about past July or next July? It’s ambiguous. I mean, next we’ll be asking writers to say “next” when referencing the future. It’s unheard of.

So remember writers: Never assume a reader understands chronology. As such, always say “back in” when referring to the past. It’s not wordy or presumptuous at all.

Report: Area man not taking meals “because he’s so busy”

PROVO, Ut.—The legendary Smooth Harold and his adorable offspring were enjoying a delicious J Dawg last weekend, when they overheard two insecure women bragging about how “busy” their respective husbands were.

“My husband is soooo busy,” said the first obnoxious woman, in a desperate attempt to show how important and needed she was, merely by association. “Oh, I know,” countered the other. “My husband is beyond busy. He wakes at five, skips breakfast, works through lunch, then returns home exhausted. After wolfing down dinner, he studies all night. At this rate, he’ll probably die early. It’s great.”

When asked to confirm the account, an innocent bystander said, “It was the most riveting conversation I’ve ever eavesdropped. Certainly not something you hear often, so it was totally a discussion worth having, not to mention repeating.”

Following the news, competing one-uppers scrambled to rehearse their dull, predictable, and one-dimensional chronologies planned for upcoming family events, weekend gatherings, and chance encounters. “We’re expecting another busy week,” city officials said.

Now reading: I.O.U.

iou book

Fascinating book. To the point and practical.

For example, the best way to describe a retail bank is to call it a piggy bank. The best way to describe an investment bank is to call is a casino, which is precisely what each are.

Who knew a book about high finance, banking, and The Great Recession could be such a fun read?

Is this really such a good idea?

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Mixing camping with must-see TV?

Honestly, how much could this fan be “enjoying” a game of football on a three inch screen while camping, especially since he probably has 50″ HDTV at home? Grow a pair and pick one: Get away from it all in the great outdoors or stay home to watch a game you’re really interested in. Or if you must, DVR.

Seriously, what kind of sick society are we turning into? The equation is simple.

See also:

Think your clients are unreasonable? Imagine dealing with this on a daily basis

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My brother-in-law works in a Manhattan commercial music studio, producing jingles and licensing original music for use in advertising. Apparently, he deals with this regularly. Favorite line: “That is insulting. We would go out of business if we agreed to terms like that.”

More proof that unrealistic buyers are everywhere. (Although I still think there is value in licensing consumer music in advertising, which this video seems to discredit in an effort to sell more commercial music. What’s more, if demand is this high for “rip off” commercial music, I imagine a supplying studio could really clean up.)

See also: I’m sorry we can’t make a deal. Please don’t heckle me.

Proof that clever marketing can glam up dumb ideas

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Because sitting through a two-hour moving on a single sofa is so hard these days. Or waiting for popcorn to pop while a movie is paused is excruciatingly slow.

DirecTV’s response: “We better make it easy for people to pause dramatic movie scenes between kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom TVs. It’s not like they’re going to want to stay engaged in said scenes anyway. Who are we to deny people continuous movies during potty breaks? Now let’s go sell this dumb idea! There’s a sucker born every minute!”

Multi-room viewing is retarded use of technology.

DISCLOSURE: I don’t subscribe to any TV service. (Over-air HD and Internet TV only).

20 business cliches that make you sound stupid

facepalmI went to lunch today with an old business school buddy. We always have a good time making fun of brainless ideas while trying to make a honest buck. Today, we ridiculed some of the following business cliches, which are beyond stale and should never be used; otherwise you’ll sound like everyone else and influence few:
Continue reading…

There are better ways of spending your time…

… than watching this. Usually (I make exceptions for high-profile sporting events and the occasional Netflix stream.)

Point is, DVR lowers your standards. You wouldn’t watch half that crap (and by “crap,” I mean poorly produced, written, and acted shows when compared to movies) if it were live. So why subject yourself to lesser entertainment? I’m sure some people use DVR as it was designed: to make it easier to watch the shows you used to watch live. But the majority of DVR users actually abuse the technology, and end up watching more television (i.e. settling) than they normally would.

In that sense, DVR is not better living through technology. It’s clouding our judgment. It’s reducing our ability to think critically.

What’s my age again?

This just in: Further proof that I’m a teenager trapped in a man’s body.

After a rather disappointing 16 holes of golf last month, I decided to hit a practice shot into a ravine while waiting for 17, which was on the outside edge of the course. As I setup my shot from the side of the tee box, my buddy threw down a verbal challenge: “Try and hit that moving truck on the opposite side of the valley.”

Without thinking, I quickly teed my ball. Since the distance to the other side was so far, I swung half-jokingly, paying no mind to what might happen. Continue reading…

Do you tip your “waiter” on take-out orders?

Part two in my Awkward Tip Etiquette series

carryoutI stiffed my take-out waiter for the first time this weekend and got an ugly look for it.

Normally I tip receptionists a buck for boxing my meal and carrying it all the way from the kitchen to the reception desk. (Excruciating work, I know.) But this time I grew a pair and followed my wife’s example: Don’t tip a restaurant worker for putting carry-out in a bag for you.

Again, I’m fine tipping someone that actually “waits on you” in a dining room. Servers don’t get paid a minimum wage. They’re normally hard workers and/or are struggling to make ends meet. So I’m happy to throw a few Washingtons their way for good service.

But I’m done tipping for carry-out, since the person handing me my food doesn’t add any value to my patronage, nor do they serve. I don’t care if it’s the bartender, the host, or some other receptionist. And I’m not going to let awkward attempts to “serve me” a bag or ugly looks deter me. Unless, of course, you can convince me otherwise.

Do you tip for carry-out food? If so, why?

This guy’s argument would hold more water if it weren’t written on a website

doesn't hold waterThis is cute: “Do we still need websites?” asks some guy writing on a website.

Next time write it on Facebook, mister, and see how that works for you.

DISCLOSURE: I regularly design and publish websites.

Worst email reply ever

A friend recently (and politely) declined business from someone he once worked with. This someone didn’t take “no” for an answer. Nor did he take unanswered emails. Behold, his latest email:

Dude… what am I missing here ??

I have always assumed entrepreneurs treated each other with respect and responded to each other; especially those that have known each other for a while.

So… um… why are you treating me (a 3 tie INC 500 winner and 5 x successful entrepreneur; arguably more successful than you)… like crap ?

I respected you enough to personally respond… not to have one of my people call; you.

If that is your definition of class. Please… don’t respond to my email at all.

Persuasion: You’re doing it wrong. Ellipses too. Not to mention unnecessary spacing before question marks. In any case, my buddy did not reply. ZING!

When your celebrity endorser becomes the town bycicle, it’s always best to dump him

tigerwoodspgatour10_coverAfter Tiger Woods took “extramarital affairs” to new lows this year, numerous sponsors canceled their contracts with the once role model, including Gatorade, AT&T, General Motors, Accenture, Tag Heuer, and Gillette. Out of all his major sponsors, only two “stood by” his sleaziness, including Nike and Electronic Arts.

Today, the latter is wishing it hadn’t. Continue reading…

To the cop that ticketed my wife yesterday: Get bent.

My wife has deservedly received traffic citations in the past, most recently last month for going 55 miles per hour in a 40. She also had a run in with a parked dump truck in March, so she’s in no way an innocent driver—particularly this year.

But yesterday, some cop short on quota caught her going 30 in a 25, just five miles over. He tailed her until her destination, a neighborhood birthday party, then flashed his lights as she pulled to a stop. He then barked at her for opening the driver door instead of rolling down her window, which she couldn’t do because the windows were tinted that morning. (Sob story, I know. But it’s true. The windows were all marked with “Do NOT roll down for 3-5 days,” which the cop clearly saw.)

There she was, a mother with three kids in the car—newborn screaming for her bottle—and this overzealous, insensitive, and unfriendly officer ticketed her. And he took his sweet time doing so, all while the baby was crying as if she was going to die (you know how they do it).

Make no mistake, I’m grateful for law enforcement. And I’m obviously biased here. But the stated facts weren’t embellished. This is just another case of some cop not having anything better to do.

I’m sorry we can’t make a deal. Please don’t heckle me.

As a self-employed individual, I’ve closed a lot of deals. Seven years worth, in fact. Enough to make me a thousandaire. But I’ve lost a lot more than I’ve won, something that’s expected in business.

What isn’t expected, however, are the rare occasions when a prospective buyer ridicules me for not meeting his terms. It usually happens like this: Buyer probes, likes what he sees, and then starts asking questions. We talk. I name my final price. He doesn’t like my final price.

But instead of walking away, like most sane buyers do, this buyer hangs around, and suddenly decides he no longer likes the free market. Continue reading…

Fine print: “Investment products may lose value”

In case you didn’t know, I don’t like Wall Street. It’s not that I think the stock exchange is wrong, but I don’t like how its description went from being “speculation” to “investment” in the last 50 years. And I don’t like how it’s primarily sold to the uninformed public.

If you watch TV, chances are you’ve seen numerous investment commercials for Prudential, ING, Pacific Life, Merill Lynch, Charles Swab and countless others. What you might not have seen is the fine print during all this commercials: “Investment products may lose value” and “Investments involve risk.”

This of course is neatly tucked away at the bottom of the screen while some voice over promises an increase in wealth, a secure future, and guaranteed retirement. It’s yet another reminder that what these people are really selling is speculation.

In other words, know your stuff before playing the game, or stick to what you know if you want to protect and grow your principle.

5 years later, these 10 cell phone commandmants still ring true

cell phone addictionCourtesy of Joey Reiman for Pink Magazine, published in 2005:

  1. Thou shalt not take the BlackBerry to any table with food on it or family around it. A BlackBerry is not a fruit, nor does it come from a tree.
  2. Thou shalt not use the BlackBerry as reading material in the event of insomnia. It will only worsen your situation.
  3. Thou shalt not BlackBerry in lieu of responding to a child’s request (e.g., “Wait a second, I’m reading something.”).
  4. Thou shalt not place the BlackBerry within distance of hearing its incessant beeps while at home. It is not a bird.
  5. Thou shalt not check BlackBerry as if it were your baby. It will not cry or stop breathing.
  6. Thou shalt not confuse number of e-mails with self-worth.
  7. Thou shalt do everything possible to misplace your BlackBerry on weekends.
  8. Thou shalt remember that a BlackBerry is not a body appendage. It is a device that belongs in your briefcase or on your desk, and not in social settings.
  9. Thou shalt refrain from bringing the BlackBerry to events involving family interaction. Extraneous dialogue with this contraption in lieu of real conversation suggests addiction.
  10. Thou shalt never, ever, ever bring the BlackBerry to bed.

Since canceling my data plan last year, I haven’t broken any of these. (Thanks, Josh)

Remember when I almost killed myself running?

I like running.

With exception to an injury hiatus, I ran several times a week over the past two years. And since reading Born To Run, I do so enthusiastically (not begrudgingly like I once did).

I normally run continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. On occasion, two hours—whatever I feel like really. I don’t time myself or track miles—an act that makes running feel like work—I just run.

Two weeks ago, I was feeling especially light on my feet. When I left the house on an empty stomach that Saturday, I didn’t plan on running for three plus hours, but I did. I also didn’t take water or food with me, and nearly put myself in the hospital as a result.

Continue reading…

Incredible: Unread email actually waits for you on your computer!

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OREM, Utah — After four convenient but usually bad-habit forming years, I canceled my Blackberry email/data plan with T-Mobile last week. To my surprise, I was amazed that my email would actually wait for me on the computer, as opposed to following me around wherever I went. Now, if I’m away from my desk, my email will tell me how many unread messages I have upon my return, so as not to overlook anything. (Some fancy email programs even support audible alerts, such as “You’ve got mail!” Really neat stuff.)

In a flurry of discovery, and in search of more answers, I asked a representative of ARPANET, the inventor of email, for comment. “The great thing about email is that it’s free, provided you don’t give money to your cell phone provider for the same service,” the spokesman said. “And unlike the Post Office, you don’t have to put a hold on your mail if you’re away, say on nights and weekends. If it fits, it ships—which is all the time.”

Continue reading…

You’re never too busy for people

I have found, as many before me, that with age comes added responsibility and a much larger to-do list. I’m arguably busier than I’ve ever been in my life with managing a marriage, a new baby, a company, and working on several other projects. Opportunity surrounds us, and I want to take it all in. I hope to learn, experience, and do as much as I can (or even can’t sometimes) throughout my life. I thoroughly enjoy meeting new people, learning new things, and finding other ways of applying the little that I know.

While pondering all of this on my way to Salt Lake City this morning and after catching myself saying “I’m so busy,” to those around me, I couldn’t help but think how this claim might sound to the receiver. Does that phrase add any value to the person listening? Does that make them feel important? If it doesn’t, then do away with it. Continue reading…

Golf clubs aren’t worth much anymore—at least recreational ones

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At my request, Lindsey bought me some recreational (aka cheap) golf clubs two years ago for Christmas. It took me a year, but I recently become infatuated with sport. I have “found religion,” you could say.

Anyways, last month I was whacking balls with my three wood at the driving range. After a slight miss-hit, I sent both my ball and club head flying into the distance. The ball went about 150 yards. The head went about 30. At first I wasn’t even mad. I was amazed actually. But then I got frustrated with myself. Continue reading…

Let’s call the stock market what it really is: speculation

The British had it right at one time. During the 19th century, their culture viewed stocks and securities exchange as a less than noble venture, according to the writings of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens—like how you and I look upon multi-level marketing companies today. Appropriately, the stock market was widely known then as “speculation.” A theory. A guess. An unverifiable promise or conclusion.

At some point, investment sharks (don’t call ’em bankers) hijacked the accurate description of “speculation” to mean “investments,” “stock market,” and “Wall Street”—prestigious terms that sound nothing like the conjecture they represent. Smart people made money on changes in the fickle market, giving hope to uninformed individuals, who blindly followed and still lose the majority, if not all their money, every few decades. Some are lucky. Most are not.

Continue reading…

Author introductions get in the way of great literature

My wife and I have been reading classic literature this year. She finished Jane Eyre last week before starting Great Expectations, and I tackled Out of Africa and Old Man and the Sea before moving to Robinson Crusoe. We both agree: it’s inspiring stuff—and much better than junk food reading.

We also agree that those wordy, overblown, or otherwise melodramatic introductions by semi-popular modern authors are lame. I understand it’s a marketing ploy to sell more re-released books, and you can always skip ’em. But they get in the way of great literature. I have yet to read an author introduction that I enjoyed. Let me get to the book already, or at least call the thing an “author retrospective” and put it in the back of the book.

Dumb.

The scorpion and the frog

I was told the following story with an Indian boy and rattlesnake growing up, but the principle is just as poetic. From Wikipedia:

The Scorpion and the Frog is a fable of unknown author, often mis-attributed to Aesop. The story is about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The frog then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them. When asked why, the scorpion explains, “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”

In other words, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

Boycott companies that beg for bailout money

They can take away my representation, but that can’t take away my purchasing power.

I’ve said it before, but it’s been frustrating to watch the ballooning growth of our national debt, after eight years of unprecedented ballooning. For a long time, it seemed as if I was powerlessness to what was going on—like I couldn’t fight back.

Not anymore.

Continue reading…

I’m sickened as an American taxpayer today

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I have been against any type of taxpayer bailout or “stimulus package” since Congress and America’s most liberal-spending president first passed the $700 billion one in October. I even asked my representative not to vote on the bill, which he did anyway.

As the majority of Americans predicted (60% in both a CNN and Gallup poll), the bailout didn’t work, according to today’s report in The Washington Post. Banks aren’t lending the $200 billion they received from taxpayers back to taxpayers. How kind of them. Continue reading…

Do I like when people answer their own rhetorical questions? No.

I think rhetorical questions can be a persuasive and colorful form of language, but only when left unanswered.

I’m not sure how or when it started, but answering your own insincere rhetorical question seems to be increasingly popular these days, especially among public relation and business folk. Here’s how they do it: “Am I happy about [insert any controversial issue here]? No. But… [insert any justification here].” Worse still, rhetorical answer lovers will often string together three negative questions, followed by a mega justification. Dumb.

Good communication is concise and precise, replete with active voice and direct sentences. In other words, I don’t like when people answer their own rhetorical questions.

Beta is dead

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Beta, that silly subhead you see on so many websites, has been dead for quite some time. It just took a while before someone came out and said it. Here’s my latest from GigaOM, also syndicated on CNN/Fortune, entitled “Beta is dead”:

“Beta, as it pertains to web sites, has seen better days. Not long ago, saying the word as part of your web development cycle could help land venture capital even faster than claiming “community,” “paradigm shift” or “disruptive technology.” Now, the term is dissipated and confusing.

“While the specific origin of its use is unknown, beta as a tagline was popularized by a Google with the release of Google News in 2002, and later, Gmail in 2004. From there, startups quickly followed suit. By 2006, it seemed like every new web site was “in beta.” Continue reading…

See also:

I’m the Grinch that stole Consumermas

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Lindsey and I gave few gifts for Christmas this year — virtually none to friends and family (gulp). I justified the stinginess given the imminent economic apocalypse.

Now, as the wee hours of Christmas are upon me, I feel like a grinch. Only I have no sleigh full of toys to return to double the size of my heart. Happy Holidays?

At least my three year-old is getting something.

Oh the irony of multi-level marketers

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It’s a little difficult to read, but that posh, Geo Prism promises you can make $20k a month while working from home. Now I understand a lot of millionaires drive run-down cars, because cars are a lousy investment. But something tells me this guy isn’t a millionaire (hint: it’s the tasteless ad written in long hand).

[Photo by Mark Ormond, while driving even]

Blogger encourages others to stop blogging, fails to see the irony

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If millions of lifeless blogs and apologetic “sorry for not updating” posts were any indication, blogging isn’t for everyone. And if you’re hoping to make a national name for yourself as an amateur wordsmith, you’re about 3-4 years late to the party.

For everyone else (people with opinions, writers, pundits, and social networkers) regular blogging is still a worthwhile pursuit, provided you have something original to say. It can be used as a platform to start a career in writing, it can influence others, and for some, even subsidize a mortgage or provide a modest living.

I find it comical (not to mention anti-competitive) then when a blogger from the popular Silicon Vally gossip rag encourages lone stars to throw in the towel on blogging. Dumb. That’s like a used car salesman saying there’s no money in automobiles. While I admit blogging is over-saturated, it’s in no way a dead end. And it’s certainly more pervasive than Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

See what happens when you yell “Bomb!” in an airport…

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Associated Press

… The world financial markets fall more than they would have, because financial markets are based entirely on confidence. And when you have intimidating officials like President Bush and McBama spreading FUD like, “the worst economic crisis since the great depression,” fickle investors will believe them, and global bank markets struggle.

I’m not saying there wasn’t a partial bomb to begin with — there was thanks to a greedy and irresponsible Wall Street — but that still doesn’t mean top officials can frighten the public with said statements just to bail out their Wall Street buddies who donated lots of money for special interest (which they succeeded in getting this time). Just like yelling “Bomb!” in an airport is illegal, so should it be for individuals in power crying “depression” just to get their way.

Continue reading…

At least the U.S. House of Representatives still “gets it”

A market economy, that is. Thanks for showing some faith today, boys. You make me a proud citizen of Checks and Balances against a corrupt and colluding executive branch. The Associated Press reports:

The House has defeated the $700 billion bail-out legislation for the financial industry.

More than enough members of the House had cast votes to defeat the Bush administration-pushed bill, but the vote was held open for a while, apparently as efforts were under way to persuade people to change their vote.

On Wall Street, stocks plummeted as investors followed the developments in Congress.

These are troubled days, and they could be for a while. But there’s sunrise on the horizon. Just let the market do her thing.

UPDATE: This is a great quote: “Like the Iraq war and patriot act, this bill is fueled by fear and haste,” said Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

It’s embarrassing to read about the “U.S. Invasion of Iraq”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: If you don’t want to challenge your optimistic beliefs on the U.S. War in Iraq, or are offended by patriotic criticism, please skip this post.

AP Photo File

Upon researching the ancient, now-ruined city of Babylon, I discovered that its remains lie 55 miles south of Baghdad. The nearest modern-day city is named Al Hillah and “was the scene of relatively heavy fighting in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq,” according to Wikipedia.

Given what we’ve known since 2005, I was embarrassed to read that last line, “in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.” It’s still difficult for me to consider that the United States invaded anyone, much less Iraq on false, reportedly fabricated premises.

Continue reading…

If a coporation were charged with designing a stop sign

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From this video we learn two things:

  1. (Most) People are terrible designers
  2. (Most) Designers have no balls. Rather, they collectively pander to client requests instead of imposing their professional will on customers much like a doctor or mechanic would. This is a disservice to both the client and the designer — everybody loses.

[via Nick Roussos]

Again, if it sounds too good to be true…

Last night while playing Putt-Putt with Lindsey, I heard a radio ad over the loud speaker that went something like this:

In debt? Variable mortgage rates got you down? Then call us today to find out how to pay off all of your debts, including your home, in less than fives years, without ever increasing your payments or income!!! The “Debt-To-Wealth System” has already begun working for home owners in your area [insert bogus, bad acting customer testimonials here].

Why didn’t I think of that!?

How cheap employers use unwarranted tipping to their advantage

I got a bone to pick with cheap employers, of which there are several in my resident state of Utah. Here’s what they do.

  1. They don’t pay competitive hourly wages for jobs that don’t require significant waiting on the customer, like a server does in a restaurant.
  2. They then put up signs saying “please tips our workers,” because they’re too cheap to pay a decent hourly wage.
  3. They seemingly lure in prospective employees with the promise of tips.
  4. Everyone ends up confused, from the unsure consumer to the under-paid worker.

My car wash does this. My car gets run through a machine, then an hourly worker rubs it down with a towel in less than three minutes. When done, they look at you while standing next to a ginormous sign asking for tips. Fast food restaurants have begun doing this too.

I have no problem tipping upwards of 20 percent for good service where standard (i.e. restaurants, cabs, bag boys). But when hourly workers start doing it, it feels lame on principle alone. Or maybe I’m just a cheap skate (what’s an extra few bucks to me).

TV news needs to stop link hoarding!

img7.jpg“You can find a link to the report on our website.”

That’s the same line every local TV news station in the nation uses to artificially inflate their website traffic. What they are really saying is: “We have no idea what we’re doing online, and our shortsighted logic tells us that we should funnel and horde all valuable web links on our site. But our website is so messy you won’t even be able to find the desired link.

“Furthermore, we’re pretentious and have no understanding that providing a courteous service to our audience (like saying, “For more information, visit WeLikeSharing.com”) is enough reason alone to keep them coming back — so we force the issue.”

I rarely if ever watch local news. But this sort of amateur move is enough to make me never want to watch again. Lame.

Photoshoping children looks trashy

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I’m actually okay with airbrushing from a design standpoint — to an extent. So long as you “clean up” blemishes, I’m fine with it. But I also believe mainstream designers have gone too far recently, especially when they start digitally thinning tubby individuals or make humans look more like plasticized wax than a living organism. The above photo illustration, by Jill Greenberg, is brilliant in its subject (to candidly capture toddlers crying), but her Photoshop hack job looks disturbingly awkward. Can we at least spare the children? This picture would have been so much better unadulterated.

T-Mobile: We own the color magenta

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Engadget tells the story: “So last week Deutsche Telekom, owners of the global T-Mobile brand, sent Engadget a late birthday present: a hand-delivered letter direct from their German legal department requesting the prompt discontinuation of the use of the color magenta on Engadget Mobile. Yep, seriously.”

If you read the legalese, the company says it “holds trademark protection for this use of this color in connection with its products and services around the world.”

Since when could you copyright a color, even in connection with a product or service? Ridiculous — otherwise Apple could sue any computer-maker that used the color white (though white’s not really a color, so that opens another can of worms).

Atta way to exploit legal muscle, T-Mobile. Nice form. Really. This totally makes me want to stay with you instead of jumping to AT&T’s iPhone.

Visual search is nothing more than a lame gimmick to rival Google

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When will software executives finally learn that speed of functionality will always trump bells and whistles. You’d think RedZee and SearchMe would already know this after the “we’ve got more glitz” Ask.com called it quits last week.

Build a better mouse trap, people — not a sexier one. Google is number one because it returns relevant results faster than others. It takes a lot more than good looks to be “cool.”

Airborne settles false advertising suit for $23M. So who got duped?

Airborne is fraudulentThanks to Good Morning America, we now know that the popular Airborne cold remedy is nothing more than an “extraordinarily expensive Vitamin C delivery system.” A placebo.

The Alka-Seltzer-like mixture originally claimed to be the “miracle cold buster” that could “get rid of most colds in 1 hour.” The company has since watered down those claims, obviously to avoid further litigation.

Continue reading…

Dude, where’s my perspective?

According to a recent Gallup poll, a majority of baseball fans (57%) think Roger Clemens lied last month when he told Congress he had never taken performance enhancing drugs. Despite this, 62 percent of fans surveyed believe Clemens should still be in the Hall of Fame.

What??!!

As a reminder, The Hall of Fame’s motto is “preserving history, honoring excellence, and connecting generations.” Clemens’ induction, if convicted, would preserve history alright, but what about honor and example (read: connecting generations)?

Continue reading…

CP80’s WiFi anti-porn bill is misguided

I applaud what Utah’s CP80 and similar anti-porn groups are trying to do: keep smut away from the curious eyes of children. But some of their ideas are just ridiculous.

Take this one for example: a new bill introduced last month by Rep. Bradley Daw (R-Orem) that seeks to age-gate all wireless networks in Utah, including the one in your home. Failure to comply would result in penalty for the operator, not the offender or offended. In other words, you are your brother’s explicit keeper, by law even — not by agency.

Continue reading…

Bonds, Clemens top list of steroid users

NEW YORK (AP) — Page after page, Roger Clemens’ name was all over the Mitchell Report.Count them, 82 times.

Barry Bonds showed up more often. So did Jose Canseco. Andy Pettitte, Eric Gagne and Miguel Tejada also became part of baseball’s most infamous lineup since the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

But they didn’t get the worst of it Thursday. That infamy belonged to Clemens, the greatest pitcher of his era.

The Steroids Era. continue reading…

You might be a dummy if you bought one of these

According to the Federal Trade Commission (PDF), more than 30 million Americans fell for one of the top 10 scams of 2005.

10. Business Opportunities: .8 mil
9. Credit Repair Scams: 1.2 mil
8. Advance-Fee Loans: 1.7 mil
7. Unauthorized Billing – Internet Services: 1.8 mil
6. Credit Card Insurance: 2.1 mil
5. Work-at-Home Programs: 2.4 mil
4. Prize Promotions: 2.7 mil
3. Unauthorized Billing: Buyers Clubs 3.2 mil
2. Foreign Lottery Scams: 3.2 mil
1. Fraudulent Weight-Loss Products: 4.8 mil

Part of me wants to feel sorry for these 30 million people — just because you can exploit the ignorant doesn’t mean you should. But the other part of me thinks these dupes got what they paid for: succumbing to naivety or believing that cutting corners can produce superfluous results.

Enter the most absolute of all cliches: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” But alas, people don’t want wisdom — they want to avoid hard work at all costs.

[via Consumerist]

Forget all this Pay Per Post parlance, Alibi Network is the real vermin

Not to deflect the well deserved negative press surrounding Pay Per Post, but these are the real schmucks. Alibi Network is in the business of lying. They sell lies for a living, or more specifically “excuses for discreet relationships and extramarital affairs.” Brilliant! Clients pay the company to cover for them via professional sounding phone calls, collateral, etc. Just listen to this ridiculous use case from their FAQ:

“Ann is our client and she has an extramarital affair. It is a short-term discreet encounter and Ann does not want to break her marriage and disappoint her children over it. Obviously, Ann needs an alibi to justify her absence over weekends. Therefore, she contacts Alibi Network each time she wishes to spend time with her partner. Ann accesses our website and chooses an alibi that would best suit her situation (e.g. seminars, conferences, trade shows, etc.). After we receive all the information (e.g. date of the alibi, type, delivery method) we analyze several possible alibis.

As soon as Ann chooses a 3 day Computer Seminar and the delivery method (e.g. either an email, fax, print out from our website, telephone call or mail) and the payment is received, Alibi Network will deliver the alibi to Ann. A detailed course syllabus of the seminar along with the certificate of completion is also available!”

Whoa. That was a close one, Ann. Good thing you paid extra for that bunk certificate. That’d be cool if actual demand wouldn’t sustain this; sadly, I think Alibi Net will do just fine.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Billy? I wanna sell lies for a living. Yeah!!!”

[via Scott Lemon]

It feels good not to have to be right all of the time

First, let me preface this post with a disclaimer: I come from a long line of individuals that simply must be right all of the time. No inaccuracy, however insignificant, can go uncontested in my immediate family. Part of that stems from the high number of intelligent siblings I grew up with, not to mention two shrewd parents. And while I can’t speak for others, I know my motivation to cross-examine every single statement was — and still is to an extent — rooted in my desire to display how much I know rather than enlighten others with meaningful truths. Truths with value. How noble of me, right?

That said, my feelings have slowly changed over time, especially since courting the beauty and brains that is Lindsey Snow of Seattle, Washington. In the last 4 and a half years of knowing her, Lindsey has taught by example in discerning what warrants correction, and what doesn’t. I can’t imagine how many times she must have let slide something I inaccurately said. I doubt she even acknowledged the act, rather opting to just let it go. At the same time — and while typically a quiet individual — Lindsey will readily stand up for something that matters; a material truth. “What matters,” you ask? I’ll leave that up to you, but I do know the order someone was cut from a reality show or what color shirt someone was wearing (when not profiling a criminal, of course) doesn’t matter.

I’ve been presented with three opportunities in the last week alone to correct another individual on some minute detail. In realizing what was important, I decided against correction without telling myself, “Don’t worry, Blake. You REALLY know what s/he doesn’t.” I just moved on in the moment, and it felt really good. Like, “Wow, that was really nice. I should do this more often,” good.

So, yeah. It’s a refreshing experience not to have to be right all of the time. There I go boasting again…