Tag Archives: competitive

Term stomping

Blacklist Royals 6.20.10 - 25

This guy is stomping all over the term: blacklist. Credit: Nicole Kibert.

Technology can be a blessing and a curse. Lately I’ve been having a problem when searching Flickr for images to accompany my blog posts. What happens when the thing you are searching for has been co-opted by something completely different?

I’m calling that phenomenon term stomping.

It used to be so easy. You’d enter your innocent little phrase, like “snot bubbles” and get lots of images of exactly what you were looking for. But guess what happens now? There’s an indie punk rock band out there somewhere performing under the name of Snot Bubbles. Instead of the veritable plethora of visual delights that you were expecting you get thousands of images of crazy-looking folks on stage making love to guitars.


Pictured on the left you see an image result from a search for the word “blacklist.” The guitarist pictured is a member of a musical ensemble named Blacklist Royals. I have nothing against Blacklist Royals. I’m sure they are wonderful human beings. They just happen to be the example that triggered the intro to this particular post.

Term stomping happens with a dizzying array of other searches. Terms like these are suddenly useless to me: fuckers, criminals, livid, puss and more. If you like to search, I’m sure this must have happened to you, too.

Some words are simply destined to have their meanings clobbered in the search engines. If this happens to you, it’s best to just give up and move on. Perhaps try a synonym. Instead of “snot bubbles” maybe “mucus spheres” will work, although there will probably be much less results to choose from.

Note to Google: “Mucus spheres.” Please take note of that term. I want to be #1 for it by the end of the week!

But I digress. The real point of today’s post is blacklisting. Yes, as is often my wont, I have buried the lead. Why deviate from that tactic when it works so well?

Specifically I wish to talk about the term blacklisting as it pertains to the wonderful wide world of retail.

Have you ever worked for a blacklisted company? It works a little something like this.

You’re a small biz owner and you wants to make your scrilla. You decide you’ll get there by selling things. But you don’t want to have to actually make things. This restricts your options a bit. Basically it means you have to get things made by someone else. Like manufacturers. That can be a good place to get things. So you buy these things, sell them for more than you paid, and keep the difference as your profits.

Easy as pie, right?

Perhaps not. For one thing, manufacturers can be exceedingly pushy. You’d think they’d be happy to have as many merchants as possible pimping out their shit on the open market. You’d be wrong.

We all know “price fixing” is illegal in the United States. It goes against the grain of our opinion of right and wrong. And we feel it stifles competition and has various other negative effects on the marketplace.

But manufacturers want undue control and influence over their product streams and supply chains. One thing they really want is to control the price of their products. But if price fixing is illegal, how can they do this?

It’s called MAP or Minimum Advertised Price. Under this scheme, the manufacturer sets MAP on their products. What happens to merchants who advertise a lower price, like in an attempt to be competitive in the free market? Easy. Their throats are cut and they are allowed to bleed out like a stuck pig. In other words, manufacturers cut them out. They do this through blacklisting.

The company I work at has been blacklisted. Yet we still sell the shit. Mwuhahaha! How does this little wrinkle of goodness work?

Basically it involves a complicated shell game of dummy company names, made up identities, and shipping drops sprinkled all across our fruited plains. This is truly the way the best economy (at least until 2020) on this planet was intended to function!

For us employees this can get a bit complicated. If we use the wrong company name at the wrong time when dealing with a suppliers who knows us under a different name, we’d expose the lie and then, of course, the jig would be up!

You might wonder how the manufacturers would know what we’re doing. Easy. Ever see those warranty registration cards in the products you buy? They ask, including lots of other things, for the name of the store and the price you paid. Depending on the type of product these cards may also contain serial numbers. These numbers allow manufacturers to track shipments through supply chains to suppliers and eventually the retail merchant.

Manufacturers ship product directly to distributors who then ship them to merchants. And trust me on this. Suppliers could give a rat’s ass about things like blacklists and MAP pricing. As long as goods are flowing through their greedy little fingers, they’re happy. All they need is a bit of plausible deniability to show manufacturers so they don’t get blacklisted themselves. They know exactly what’s going on. Nod, nod. Wink, wink.

Personally I think the whole fucking system must be backed by the Russian Mafia or the Trilateral Commission.

Our operation has product funneled from many dummy companies. We pay extra shipping charges for this. When we receive these shipments we open the products and rip out the registration cards so they can’t be sent in by consumers to expose us to manufacturers. That’s just another bit of ethical goodness for the blacklisted.

Next time you want to share a beer and enjoy fairy tales like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the so-called free market, ethics in business, and the idea that price fixing is illegal be sure to give me a ring. I really love a good belly laugh at the expense of the overly-naive!!!

A recent TED talk I posted made the point that two things that matter most to “happiness” are “love” and “work.” And when he talked about “work” he said, “Engaging in activities that are meaningful and satisfying … and fulfilling.” Selling shit to idiots isn’t meaningful work. And compromising your morals and ethics in exchange for a living isn’t satisfying.

I guess I just haven’t figured out how to get to so-called “happiness” when my “work” consists of punching a clock and selling my soul to the devil every time I show up for a shift.


Click image to view more Scrabble at Scariest Places

My wife and I love to engage in a rousing game of Scrabble. Perhaps, however, not quite as rousing as the image above.

She claims I’m a little competitive. Ha!

We started with Scrabble early on in our relationship. She would routinely skewer my tushy and hand it back to me on a platter. I didn’t like that much. So I decided to teach her the game of backgammon. I considered myself quite accomplished at that particular game. I stomped her in backgammon for quite some time. But then something rather untoward happened.

It seems she had downloaded a little program called JellyFish which plays a very mean game of backgammon. She grappled with that thing with a stubborn fierceness. And she learned from that grappling. And she improved. Soon our matches were increasingly close, often decided by only one point. Then the tables turned and she started coming out on top on a routine basis! And the margins of her victory grew decisive.


It was time to give Scrabble another try. 🙂

She still creams me but lately I’ve made some progress. I’ve won the last two games in a row. I do believe that is some sort of record.

Recently a bit of controversy has erupted and we seem to have lost our copy of the rules. In a nutshell, the quandary is this: Do you have to know the meaning of a word to play it in Scrabble? She claims you should be able to define the word. I claim it doesn’t matter. If you know it isn’t a word, feel free to challenge!

What’s the strategy here? It’s part spelling and part bluffing with a bit of Balderdash thrown in.

Me: F-L-I-B-B-I-N. That’s 18, plus a double word score. Ah, 36 points!
Her: What the hell is a flibbin?
Me: You know. A flibbin!
Her: Use it in a sentence.
Me: “My feelings for my wife are decidedly flibbin.”
Her: That’s bullshit.
Me: Are you sure? Go ahead and challenge.
Her: How many points did you get off that again?
Me: What difference does that make?
Her: Fine. Whatever, asshole.
Me: So that’s an official un-challenge?
Her: Yeah, hand me the fucking dictionary.

And no, don’t even tell me about any urban dictionary meaning. We’re innocent people and any similarity to a word on that web site is purely coincidental.

Then one day I played the word “kingside.” BINGO! Now I’ll admit. I had absolutely no idea if this was a word. In fact, I highly doubted it. But I played it with supreme confidence. For those kind of points it’s worth a little risk. I got challenged. We looked it up.

kingside: the side of a chessboard containing the file on which the king sits at the beginning of the game

Seriously. Why do women get so angry sometimes? 🙂

I call this sort of thing the “metagame.” Bluffing. Misdirection. Reverse psychology bluffing. You know – keeping your opponent totally off guard. What is metagaming? As always, Wikipedia rides in to the rescue:

Metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.

Here’s an example of how it works – in my opinion. You’re playing a against someone you’ve played before. You know this person almost always employs a certain strategy. So you decide to employ a strategy that is the best against what you expect your opponent will do. You are making decisions based on information external to the rules and environment of the game.

But wait. You know that your opponent knows that you know his favorite strategy. So he might expect you to base your strategy based on that knowledge. Based on that, he might choose to do the opposite of what you expect. Now your strategy is the wrong one.

So knowing that, what do you do? LOL! See what I mean? This is where the real fun starts.

Me? Competitive? Naw. I don’t know what in the world you’re talking about! 🙂