Clubbing

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What’s the deal with warehouse clubs?  You know, places like Sam’s Club and CostCo.  They charge you $40 – $70 for the privilege of shopping in their dreary warehouse.  Why do they charge you for going in their crummy store?  I know, because they can, but really why do all these suckers line up to pay an entry fee to a store?

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I’ve looked around and the prices at Sam’s aren’t enough different from WalMart to make a real difference except in rare cases.  Plus you have to buy a skid-load or five gallons of mayonnaise at Sam’s to get the deal.  In addition, there is almost zero choice.  That one brand of mayonnaise is the one you’re buying.  At WalMart you at least have a few choices.

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CostCo pretends to be more upscale.  They have more brand-y stuff and the aircraft hangar looks a little nicer.  Plus there aren’t as many ethnics shopping there, if you know what I mean.  However, they charge more and you actually pay more than Sam’s and WalMart for stuff.  They claim to have exclusive stuff, but it’s only exclusive from not being at Sam’s or WalMart or Target.  They charge you more for being in their “club.”

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So what’s the deal with “club?”  It’s not like a real club where you go to meet people with like interests (except for being cheap).  Clubs used to be exclusive places where people went to get away from their spouses or children or to mix with toni friends or talk about postage stamps.  You could brag about your membership in certain exclusive clubs; you had to be voted into the club.  Here you just have to fork over the jack.  You have to wave that stupid card, like if they sold anything to a non-member it would break the corporation or some secret pact.  Who goes around showing other people their Sam’s or CostCo card?  “Look, I got into Sam’s Club.”  Nobody does that.  Maybe the manufacturers are afraid that regular people will find out they can get a deal on a five-gallon pail of ketchup.  You have to keep the price a secret to non-members.  I don’t get it.  Why isn’t it just the Sam’s store, no entry fee?

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Bridge Club

The shopping experience, even at Sam’s, is actually a step up from the dreary WalMart.  I guess ’cause the ceilings are higher and the floors are cleaner.  I suppose it’s that entry fee that does it.

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Philatelic Club

 

You can eat at Sam’s.  A big Nathan’s Famous hot dog and an endlessly refillable drink is only $1.50.  Homeless people should come there and live at Sam’s.  The $40 up front keeps them out though.  A big charity should donate the $40 each for a bunch of poor people and then let them hang at Sam’s; camp in the airport-sized parking lot that is never more than half full.  Then it wouldn’t be such an exclusive “club” for people anymore.

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Pill Pushers

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The pharmaceutical industry has to be the most screwed up corporate oligarchy in the world.  It makes, finance, politics, used car sales, medicine, law, weapons manufacturing, and pimping look like honored professions.  When I get finished with this expose you will want to wash your hands and down a litre of Robitussin every time you pass a Walgreens.  So what’s wrong with the drug industry?  A better question might be:  is there anything right with it?

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Let’s get one thing straight from the start, the pharmaceutical industry has nothing to do with making the world a better place.  I’ll prove this.  I’m givin’ ya the straight dope here.  Sure people will tell you they want to go to pharmacology school because they want to rid the world of disease, or at least make a difference.  Right, and my grandma is gonna win American Idol.  Don’t believe it.  99% of the people that go into pharma do it for the money and the so-called “side benefits.”  That’s it.  Get rich, get high.  Who can blame ’em?  Given the opportunity all of us just want some bling and buzz.  If you’re intelligent and rich you go to pharmacy college, if you’re poor or simple, you become a gang bangin’ drug dealer, and I’ll show you how there is about maybe, just maybe, only one degree of separation between the two.

Lobby Dollars 98-2012_0The base reason that the pharmaceutical industry is out to screw you is the US does not, despite your friendly Tea Party candidate, have a socialized healthcare system and the government by law (I wonder how that came about?) cannot negotiate the price of prescription drugs on your behalf.  Only insurers can and we know how much they care about you.  In addition the FDA, by law again, does not allow the importation of prescription drugs from other countries where these governments do negotiate the price of drugs.  These laws are all ostensibly to “protect you” but when was the last time a Washington pill pusher lobbyist had your best interest in mind?

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Now that we have that out of the way, what sort of economic skewing does this cause?  Well here is where I give you the inside story:  the pill pushers are not out to get you well, they are out to make you a junkie.  Here’s the deal, say I spend a lot of money to come up with a vaccine for cancer.  Every pharmaceutical company wants to invent that, right?  Wrong, my simple one.  If I come up with a vaccine I give you one maybe two shots and it’s bye, bye.  But if I can come up with a less effective long term chemotherapy for the same cancer, guess what, you’re a chemo junkie now.  I have you on the hook for months or years.  You’re “takin’ this junk against your will” as Bo Diddley said.

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Hence, all the adverts for long term, continuous therapies and drugs on the television.  Nobody in the pharma industry wants “one and  done,” so nobody researches “one and done.”  In addition now they are allowed, by law, to jack you like the meth dealer on the corner.  Over and over again.  Nobody wants a single pill to cure rheumatoid arthritis, that’s just crazy thinkin’.  If the government could take the usurious profit motive out of these schemes, well people just might research something more effective and useful.  I’m not saying pharmaceutical companies shouldn’t make money, I’m saying right now they are making too much money.  And the insurers too.

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Surely all these scientists aren’t out for just the mercenary aspects of these things.  First, they are.  Nobody gets rich on single dose cures, period.  You might get famous, but not rich, so forget that.  Things that address Third World health issues are out too since those folks don’t have any money.  Forget that.  Lastly, shareholders and hedge fund managers don’t care whether you live or die except if you muddle on somehow you keep paying (or your insurer who is gouging you with premiums) for the junk.

Is everyone feeling a little better now?

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Next time you are at the doctor’s office and you see one of those nicely dressed types pull up in a Lexus and walk straight into the back room, remember they are just the same as the dealer selling rock down on the corner.  There’s your degree of separation.

Shoot it up

The International Feel

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No, I’m not talking about groping foreigners so all you NSA peepers can leave now.

What I want to talk about is the increase and predominance of non-US hits this blog is getting.  Either I’ve managed to thoroughly piss off the OUS community or people outside the United States are starting to now do what you in the US have only been able to do up ’til now:  apply my life-changing formulas to your lives.  I know which one I’m voting for.

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Unlike people in the US, Europeans have long embraced my concept of a D-minus effort. Europeans enjoy months of vacation annually along with a holiday practically every-other week.  In addition, work weeks are often legislated to be less than 40 hours and nobody has to worry about health insurance, so I’m surprised any Europeans or Canadians work at all since this lack is what primarily entices many Americans into the workforce in the first place. On top of this, scandalous unemployment has made, by comparison, the US look like the land of milk and honey it most certainly isn’t.

It is also clear that most foreigners embrace the concept of always making sure somebody else is that last guy.

Hey, now that I think of it, maybe I’m just preaching to the choir here.  Perhaps most OUS hits are just losers affirming their lifestyle.  Sometimes people just like to be reassured of things they already knew deep down inside.

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What Foreigners Do for Fun

The worst thing about traveling internationally is television.  Except for imported US programs, the fare produced and broadcast overseas is distinctly inferior.  Britain is particularly bad with endless parlor dramas and talking heads all produced by the government.  The fact that some of these shows are actually imported to America is beyond me.  Most of them end up on public television, in other words US socialist TV.  Hardly anyone except a few really old people watch public TV in the US so these imports hardly make a dent in the A+ prime US television offerings.  The programs are mostly old so you get elderly US tourists to the UK going on about episodes of Eastenders from decades ago.  East Germany had the worst TV I ever saw.  France was the best with triple-X programs on the cable late at night that made Skinemax look like Mr. Rogers.  In Japan the only thing going was the seemingly endless pop music programs.

I digress…

Finally I urge all my international fans to embrace the concept of always expecting the worst. This will leave you never disappointed.  I especially recommend this for people in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and any countries afflicted in the “Arab Spring.” Countries like Greece, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal should take heed also.

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Anyway, I just wanted to thank all the international readers that support my jingoistic American rants, er, essential essays.

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Flush ‘Em

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Today’s essential declamation is scientifically sound but really meant to piss off (visual pun intended) the environmentalists so I can add another special interest group to my hate mail.  I generally despise most environmentalists as a general population.  I know there are lots of committed people that have the right thing in mind and do good things but there are many (most?) that have a hidden agenda:  socialism.  Now I actually don’t have a problem with economic socialism.  Well let me rephrase that, I’m not really for redistribution of wealth per se, but I do think that whatever needs to happen to ensure basic human rights, health care, a living wage, care for children, care for the elderly, end to starvation, and a decent education (through college) for all needs to happen.  If this entails a redistribution of wealth in the process, so be it.  There are too few with too much and too many with not enough.

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Dreaded Hippie Environmentalist – Get a Haircut!

What I really hate is hidden agendas.  The environmentalists propose things that are not in the national or majority interests of this country.  In many cases these are insidious attempts to redistribute wealth without saying so and pushing us back to a “simpler time.”  They have little science to back their overtly stated agenda.

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Chinese Smokestacks

The entire carbon emission policy proposals for the US are insignificant when you look at the expolisive economic growth that is happening globally?  Would you care about greenhouse gasses if you had nothing to eat or live in a rat hole?  I don’t think so.  What about the countries that are exempt, what if these areas start to grow dramatically (assuming they get rid of the corruption that is the real millstone around their necks)?  Why are they exempt in the first place?

Now I’ll be the first one to admit that greenhouse gasses and global warming are real problems, but I claim the main thrust behind the current political (yes, mainly political, not scientific) debate about global warming in the US by most environmentalists and academia is really a subterfuge to institute socialism in the US without saying so.  The current global environmental policy will do almost nothing to alleviate the greenhouse gas problem except maybe delay the inevitable a few years because global politics will not allow a real solution to the problem in the foreseeable future.

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But I digress…  My main point here was to point out some bad science in a particular case and show how academia and the media set out to, intentionally in the first case, and intentionally and through ignorance in the second case, sow misinformation about the problem from an environments standpoint.

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Now there is no doubt (but is there?) that incineration of unused and expired medication is a preferred method for disposal over land fill or just flushing them down the toilet.  But wait a minute, what about the greenhouse gasses incineration creates.  Hmmm, never thought about that one did you?

What about landfills, they are lined with an impermeable membrane.  The medicine will still be there, and not in your groundwater, for hundreds of years, in which time they will be reduced to harmless components anyway.  The modern scientific methods for landfills pose no problem to the atmosphere or groundwater.  An insignificant amount of land in the US is taken up by landfills.  The problem with landfills is location; nobody wants a landfill in their backyard, city, county, or state.  These arguments, except for a few of the larger cities, is just bad science and political pandering.  States that ban garbage crossing their borders into their states are just scientifically foolish and mainly based on getting somebody reelected.  There is plenty of safe and unpopulated land in the US for landfills and recycling is increasingly taking some of the pressure off the need for more.

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Modern Environmentally Safe Landfills

So now we are down to flush ’em.  Here is where some particularly bad science comes into play.  Now nobody in the US knows jack shit about science, math, or statistics (I blame the school system), and the media, since they were all journalism or english majors, are particularly ignorant.  That’s the first part of the problem.

The second part of the problem is the scientific, and to a greater extent, the environmental movement, propagates these insidious lies.  Lets look at some of the things that are bandied about by the media and environmentalists on this “problem:”

“We are now able to find detectible amounts of pharmaceuticals in rivers and lakes.  These are steadily increasing.”

“Pharmaceuticals found in the water system may be having an effect on human health and the environment.”

Well, the first sentence in first statement is actually technically true.  But the devil is always in the details.  What they haven’t told you is why this is true.  Detection methods have improved at least 1000 fold in the last 50 years.  What was previously undetectable has become detectible, but in such small amounts to almost surely have no measurable effect on the environment or treated waste water outflow.  In actual fact nobody has proven scientifically that these trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have any effect on the environment or human health.  Can I see Chicken Little comin’?

The second sentence is just patently false.  Nobody could detect the amount of Prozac in the water 30 years ago, so the time frame for seeing an increase is too short and the current data is within a statistical error range that no conclusions can be drawn from the data at all, other than trace amounts are there.  I’m pretty sure I see Chicken Little on the bus now.

Let’s look at the final statement.  Again, the devil is in the details.  See that word I highlighted, may.  Nobody knows.  Nobody, literally nobody, has shown a scientifically valid effect on anything, not people, not fish, not plants, nothing.  It is pure speculation.  Read the research.  The claims are based strictly on the increased use of pharmaceuticals in general, and a currently unsupportable conclusion.  No valid research exists.  I hear Chicken Little knockin’ at the door.

Remember the scientifically almost certain problem with greenhouse gasses emitted by incineration that I pointed out oh so long ago?  A process dependent on fossil fuels.

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So I say flush ’em.  Most of us have 1-gallon or less toilets now so the amount of water used is small.  Once the drugs hit the sewer system they are diluted probably at least a thousand times more, waste treatment probably dilutes it at least 10,000 times more.  Some of the drugs are still going to be destroyed by the waste treatment process and just exposure to sunlight and oxygen.  And when it all meets the mighty Mississippi, well you could calculate it but you’re going to need a lot more zeroes.  Oh and sunlight, heat, and oxygen are going to get some more now.  See if all you math illiterates can handle it?  Oh and those pills you flushed, each only contained 50 milligrams of active ingredient anyway (0.050 grams).  We are talking pharmacologically insignificant amounts in groundwater, streams, lakes, and drinking water, almost on the level of homeopathic remedies (and if you think homeopathic remedies work, get that calculator out again to calculate those dilutions and bone up on your science).

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Oh and the amount secreted in urine, don’t get me started.  How would we eliminate that anyway, ban pharmaceuticals?  That’s what the hippie environmentalists, the back to the log cabin, environmentalists really want?

So I say again, flush ’em.  Crap on them, pee on them, and then give the ol’ handle a good jerk or two!

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The Best Environmental Advice!

(Un)Employed

wordsI know that last blog entry about the word thing sucked bad. Talk about bottom of the barrel. I almost deleted it but I figure someday long after I’m gone these little gems are going to bring me the fame and recognition of greatness I never had in life and it would be a shame if even the Dminus efforts were not included in my ephemera and marginalia, seeing that they are still certainly better than most of the hot air out there today.

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Retirement

Let’s talk today about unemployment or as I like to refer to it: “coincidental early retirement.” I think the government should shift towards using this term and let the “unemployment” defined rate gradually fade to near zero. Everyone in our free and classless society would be pleased by this. Think about it, if the government would just assume that no one over 65 wanted to work anyway (drop them from the “unemployed”) and assume that anyone who has exhausted their benefits are just lazy and shiftless and wouldn’t work at any job no matter what, now we have the retired (over 65) and the early retired (the lazy and shiftless) off the unemployment statistics. If we go one step further and assume the disabled are going to forever be unable to work, then there you have another big chunk out of the “pie of idlers” as I like to call it.

UnemploymentOffice_Forwardstl_FlickrNow before we…, Whoa you over there, don’t get up out of that chair while I’m talking and don’t you dare heckle me. I’ll come right over there and smack you. Before we go any further, to avoid any misunderstanding here, I myself am currently in a temporary bout of “coincidental early retirement.” So there. Now sit back down and shut up. You know what happens when you assume…

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Where was I, oh yeah, like most things in the media, business, or government, we haven’t made any real changes to the physical world here. It’s all a matter of perspective (= spin). We’ve now got our new unemployment rate down way low, near zero (Somebody is going to start talking inflation now so we may have to add something back into our statistic. There’s always a pessimist around.). Voila! Everyone feels better. Okay maybe not everyone but a lot of people. Those that don’t feel better are just going to not really care and that doesn’t count. These are mostly the lazy and shiftless that I mentioned above and nobody listens to them anyway and most don’t vote. So now I’ve proven that either people don’t care or they are way happier about our new unemployment statistic now so on average (and remember 50% of people are always going to be above average!) I think we can agree that the day is just a little sunnier now. What’s so bad about feelin’ good? Isn’t that what we yearn for most in life, feelin’ good? If you can do it without moving anything, so much the better. Why work so hard (see the “Dminus Principle”)? Anyway I’m doing all the heavy lifting here so just pay attention.

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Here come the naysayers. I’ve got my usual on target answers for them. The first thing that is going to be said is it is “different” than what we do today. I say: “Is what we’re doing today working, huh?” The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I say: New Way, New Result, because what we have now obviously isn’t working. Second, the economists and statisticians are going to say that the new stat is going to skew things or under report the real situation. This is maybe the worst argument ever. The current old unemployment stat we use is a made up number too, I’m just offering a clearly better pretend number. A more optimistic made up number. Remember: perspective = spin.

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c = speed of light

Third unemployment statistics aren’t like physical constants like Avogadro’s Number or pi or the speed of light, they are just made up numbers by people to measure some thing in some way with a certain perspective (remember: spin). Why shouldn’t we use new ways of calculating statistics that put our current situation in a better, more optimistic light? I say change it again if circumstances change. Remember nothing has changed in the universe except a lot of people are a whole lot happier and the rest (the ones that don’t matter anyway) are just the same as they were before; net gain. Economists will squawk from both sides but when were economists ever right and therefore why would anyone pay any attention to them? When was the last time a tax cut “trickled down” to you or a tax hike created any jobs that the lazy and shiftless defined above would take? Huh? Never! QED!

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The other thing to remember in all this is even as the old unemployment statistic creeps down most of these jobs being taken are much lower paying than the ones people had before the crash. Most former auto workers in America are now slingin’ hash and they both count as employed but the latter just barely. Most former rice slingers in China are now making autos. But why rain on the parade? The new unemployment number takes care of all that. It is virtually unaffected by the quality of the jobs that the few outside of Wall Street work at. How better to measure a half-empty statistic?

I can see that some of you are still not on board with me.  How about this:  let’s measure the employment rate instead of unemployment rate.  Now we can crow about our 93% employment rate instead of pity-partying about the 7% unemployment rate and we haven’t even played the numbers game.  How ’bout dat?  I bet if you showed somebody a picture with 93 guys in it then showed them one with 100 guys in it they wouldn’t be able to tell which was which.  They sure would be able to tell the difference between 7 and zero.  Real life is the same.  Perspective and spin.  Is your day getting any better yet?

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The last argument will be that other countries don’t measure it that way. What? When did we ever worry about what foreigners, especially ones that don’t live here, think? Why would we behave like these lesser lights that we have to bail out globally like a drunk every New Year’s Eve? Remember WWI, WWII, Vietnam (France), Falklands (Great Britain), Kossovo, (remember that film Behind Enemy Lines with nutcase Owen Wilson as that downed NATO pilot) not to mention keeping their oil safe for them in the Middle East. We can measure unemployment any way we want. Besides when other countries see how low our unemployment is they’ll want to measure their’s the same better American way like they always do with things.

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Full Employment Pot ‘o’ Gold

I still apologize for that last post about words. It was really awful. I had a sort of writer’s block thing going on, but now the meds are starting to work. Hopefully this post will make up for it.

Booksellers

Another quickie, this time more serious but still delivered in my always erudite yet entertaining style.  Barnes and Noble (B&N from here on out) looks like it is on the ropes and may even go the route of Borders; big losses and a prediction of more big losses.  Not good.  However there might be a silver lining to this which I will elucidate later.

Barnes and Nobles EarnsB&N has made all the wrong moves IMHO, some of which I will speak of here. First, the Nook Tablet: B&N failed to capitalize on it when it was ahead of Kindle Fire in the e-book market. Also, although nobody else seems to pick up on this, Nook Tablet lack of apps versus the Kindle Fire and lack of ability to load third party Android apps on it (Kindle could do this, at least at that time). To a techy like me this was a killer for B&N’s tablet reader (I actually own both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet so I kinda know what I’m saying here). There was no way the Nook was going to catch the Kindle even with B&N’s in store presence.

Second, Nook’s more limited e-book catalog and B&N’s clumsy and unattractive site. These are additional killers for me although from time to time I find Nook titles ahead of Kindle and some books on Nook that are not in the Amazon catalog (weird).

nonbook crapThird, too much floor space dedicated to non-book crap (see above) and Nook without compensating for the more limited book floor space. A lot of investor and marketing types would disagree with me but I’m right even without the MBA. I’m a real customer. I love books, especially real ones. The only advantage B&N has over Amazon is brick and mortar stores. You simply cannot browse books at Amazon despite the “Look Inside” feature. Some people, the kind that go to bookstores (dummy MBA), like to touch books; like to smell, feel, and peruse a few of the tomes. B&N corporate types think that by putting more non-book and Nook crap, and fewer real books in the stores they will boost sales. Readers shun most of this crap and non-reader knuckle draggers don’t go into bookstores unless they are those idiots in the cafe with laptops and tablets that pretentiously pretend to be writing the next Great American Novel (they only ever buy one drink and take up all the good tables all day). But I digress… Even the readers who do the “browse, scan, and switch to Amazon” usually can’t help leaving the store with something if they could find anything they might be interested in. Book lovers are suckers for the impulse buy.

Fourth, I think B&N devotes too much space to the wrong genres, not because I hate those genres but because they don’t sell in BOOKSTORES. For instance, I know Paranormal Romance is supposed to be a big thing with teens and young women (I think some older women are sneaking these in too). I never see anyone browsing this space in the store. They must be getting these books elsewhere, probably WalMart or Target or Sams. At the same time I always see someone (or two) in the Graphic Novel section which they have squeezed down to two shelf columns. Now I’m no fool, unlike B&N merchandising types; B&N is trying to appeal to the wrong demographic. The average (and remember 50% of the people are ALWAYS below average for anything) WalMart customer never sets foot in a bookstore. I know I have two B&Ns and many WalMarts in my metro area and I have utilized both. (I hate WalMart. It has to be the grimmest shopping experience on earth. I have more fun at Sams Club.). Just scan the crowds, you’ll see what I mean. But the dummies at B&N just look at sales numbers from publishers and “the buzz” in the business. They are ultimately too lazy to go walk around in stores and do a POS stint to absorb the obvious.

Expect a lot of store closures. I know in my town where there are two B&Ns one has gotta close soon. A good feeding frenzy for book buyers who want short term bargains and all that crap in the front of the store.

happy-books1I promised you a silver lining and I’m not here to disappoint (heh, heh, heh). Independent bookstores, the ones that managed to stay open, should get a boost from a B&N demise unless Amazon decides to get into bricks & mortar in a big way. I don’t think the latter is likely once they knock off B&N. The independents will be the only place where the real book lover can go to handle a real physical book (besides the few BAMS). Now independent bookstores have their own set of problems, like lack of focus on small presses and/or regional printed matter and an over-reliance on big publishers. Most of these problems are caused by bookstore owners with blinders on or an old notion of the market. Most should have some on-line presence in addition if they are going to survive.

Man Oh Man look at where we are! I said this would be quick and it wasn’t but you are getting used to me disappointing you (heh, heh, heh). Since it’s topical, soon to spoil like rotten fruit, I’ll publish it now. I usually sit on these pearls for awhile and I actually have a few, okay one, in the hopper so I can hone what is already an almost perfect blog post, but your brain will explode if I unleash too much profound knowledge too fast.

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Go buy a real book from a real store before it’s too late!  Oh, and the Blackhawks won the Lord Stanley Cup!

I Told Ya So…

Just a quickie here. “Ethics” was kind of a special edition because of some muckraking and yellow journalism that just couldn’t wait. I’ve gone over this post four or five times and every fact is dead true. There isn’t a lie or exaggeration in it. Pretty good for one of my posts, huh?

Well I’m feeling pretty good today. Why? For one the Dunbar thing went down just as I predicted. “Willy” is the “monthly read” from now ’til August something in Literary Darkness on GR (lends a new meaning to darkness). So I’m only one for one you say. Oh no effendi, I’m batting two for two today. Go back and look at “Suckers” from a week or so ago, then look at the DJIA today, then look at your 401K. Was it chicken day at your house? The farmer didn’t bring any chicken feed today did he? And your investments are also going to look like chicken feed if you don’t do something about it real soon. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. BTW I bailed out last Friday. I’m feeling like the cat that ate the canary.

Suckers

We’re all suckers. Everyone of us; marks, dupes, half-wits, morons, dumb-asses, you name it. Why, because the universe doesn’t actually work the way we think it does nor the way everyone told us, even in academia, it does. The real why is outliers; unpredictable and profound ways the future does not resemble the past. And sometimes you cannot avoid it. That’s why we’re all suckers.

Take the chicken for example. For 1,000 days the farmer brings it food; every day food, and even more food each day as it grows bigger. The chicken likes the farmer, he even tries to get at the front of the line when he comes out to feed the other chickens because then you get even more chicken feed. Then on day 1,001 the farmer comes out and chops off his head. The chicken is a sucker, a mark, a fool. Why? Obvious right. In hind sight, even though the farmer never came out with a cleaver to cut anyone else’s head off in the past 1,000 days, he shoulda known this could happen. Right. We’re that smart. Suckers.

In fact the chicken should have been trying to escape from the coop those 1,000 days instead of being at the front of the line so he could be the first sucker, every minute of those 1,000 days, escape, at least when he was fat and happy he should have been trying to get out of that coop and get away. He shoulda seen it comin’ just like we would have. Right? Serves him right, the sucker.

We would have known better. We would have taken a lesson from the past and applied it to life today and avoided being the sucker. Right. Suckers.

I’ll give one example: the real estate bubble that popped in 2008 and took the world economy into “The Great Recession.” Everyone lost their retirement savings, pension fund savings were depleted, even world governments (Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain) went into the dumper. In hindsight we shoulda, woulda, coulda, avoided this. We shoulda known everyone wasn’t going to live in Las Vegas or Dublin eventually. We shoulda known those nebulous mortgage backed securities were potentially pretty shaky. Right. Suckers.

In fact, we had an advantage over the chicken, we actually had prior knowledge that this could happen. Remember the Internet bubble in 2000? Everyone’s gonna want to buy their dog food on-line eventually. Right. Look up “Tulip Mania” for an example a long, long time ago. Go ahead, Google it, this’ll still be here when you’re done. Alright, everyone (no one) back? Suckers.

Outliers, I finally get to my point. History, economics, politics, even science, just about everything is ultimately mainly because of the outlier (head chopping day), not the average (feeding day). Most of our hindsight is worthless. Those nice rising graphs about Pets.com stock. Worthless, all stocks tend to rise in a rising market. Tomorrow is going to be just like yesterday. The graphs tell us so. Financial advisors tell us so, politicians tell us so, historians tell us so, and even some scientists (THEY should know better) tell us so. When they make their graphs they omit the outlier, (That was just one day. Look at the trend, that can’t happen again, it’s too far out of the norm. Something was wrong that day. And the real kicker: The numbers don’t support it!) we can safely ignore it. If anyone says any of these things to you, get as far away as possible from them. They’re suckers and they want to make you one. Blood sucking vampires and werewolves that will change you into one of them overnight. A sucker.

History is the facts conveniently packaged where the historian decides in hindsight what to include and what to ignore (If you don’t believe read the basis for the criticism of most history papers) and combines them into a linear narrative and almost always they will ignore the outlier when predicting the future from that past history. Life isn’t linear, it’s real bumpy and dominated by the outlier. Numbers that work in the idealized realms of science (sometimes, be careful) and mathematics don’t work in the squishier realms of the real world. Suckers.

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Why is this relevant now? Simple: The Dow Jones Industrial Average, DJIA. Look at the graphs and then throw them away. Don’t be a sucker. But most of you will keep on being suckers, the sheep herded every day by the media, advisors, politicians, city councilmen, the doom sayers. You’re gonna keep your mutual fund in the stock market too long. But don’t worry because even if it crashes things will get better, they always do, and it can’t happen again anyway. It never did before, sucker.

If you have the slightest interest in this and how to potentially not be a sucker please read

    The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He conveys it so much better and in a more entertaining style. I never had an original idea in my life so that’s where it came from.