Mothafukas! So much for that shit.
My operatives have obtained the writer’s and director’s guide for this new series including an advance copy of the script. This humble blog is the exclusive source for this information on the internet.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news (actually not true) but I think I’ve figured out how it works. (I don’t just bitch, either. I’ll also include solutions. I’m proactive that way.)
- Netflix is the only source for Netflix Original programming: House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.
- Hulu is the only source for Hulu Original programming: None come to mind but I do know they’ll have commercials.
- Amazon Prime has mostly the same shit.
- iTunes offers the same content but at premium ala carte prices.
- HBO is the only source for HBO Original programming: The Newsroom and Game Of Thrones.
- CBS is a bunch of greedy dillholes: Survivor and Big Bang Theory.
- MLB is the only source for most MLB Original programming but only if you have enough money. Otherwise they won’t even stream the goddamned World Series. (I was actually surprised by this, but only for a nanosecond.)
I prognosticated to my wife a long time ago that the days of accessing “content” would soon be coming to a close. This week we moved much closer to that reality. You like some shows on Hulu and some on Netflix? You’ll have to buy both even if the remaining majority of their DNA is essentially the same. Exclusivity is the ticket to getting customers to pay more than once. And make no mistake, it is all out global thermonuclear war on your wallet. That is the only thing that matters. They don’t do this for fun.
Boogers that are spliced and everything lice!
Oops, I let the cat out of the bag. And you thought apps were oh-so-special.
An “app” is a small bit of software that is managed by a maître d known as the “app store” so the average idiot doesn’t have to know how to download, install or update. The app’s raison d’etre is to claw it’s way into your wallet in a mad grab for your monet.
An app is similar to its desktop cousin except it has less stuff and bombs more often. There’s something satisfyingly intuitive about a-swipe-and-a-crash. So tactile! That’s Siri saying, “Touch me and I’m outta here.”
The typical app has a lifespan of 42 seconds before it is forgotten. But not forever. You still dutifully update that app on a routine basis for the rest of your life. Parting isn’t sweet sorrow. It’s impossible.
After accumulating several dozen screens of shit icons, the typical user loses interest in acquiring more apps. The thing only gets used for email, twitter, maps and browser. So developers have to escalate the game to get your attention.
This is when the word “free” elbows his way into your life like a glad-handing dandy with his devious “trust me” smile.
Continue reading →
What was once 20 acres of land containing beautiful, functional and open spaces and a single family home was turned into a housing development by a contractor and home builder. The residential neighborhood that resulted was more compacted than my tooth is impacted.
The land was developed. That almost makes it’s sound like a good thing. “Holy shit, Bob. Your land is completely undeveloped. You got yersef a situation there, padner. Better get on it.”
Development is the process of taking natural land and converting it to hardscape. How many units per acre is the name of the game. Three single family homes on one-third acre lots? Decadent.
Four residences on quarter-acre lots? Better.
How about 8 to 9 small houses with 5,000 square foot plots? No, 5,000 sq. ft. is not the heated living space of the home. That’s the size of the entire lot. And there’s not a lot of it.
You got a weird shaped lot that won’t divide up nicely? Cram a fucking flag lot in that hole and you’ve got yourself yet another unit.
I’ve heard grown men stand in city council meetings and whine like you wouldn’t believe. “If I have to put in city standard streets it’ll cost me some units. The streets in my project should be 12 feet wide. If I have to meet code it’ll mean less units. I need a variance.” They manage to conjure up actual tears. Hollywood has got nothing on a city council meeting. “Why does a fire truck need to turn around in a cul-de-sac, anyway? If the houses burn down I can always build more.”
“Why do I have to put in sidewalks? On both sides of the street? And a planter strip? With trees? Come on!!!”
I have to admit. Some of the houses looked pretty good, like they had been placed by the magical cookie cutter of life. The same floor plan repeated ad infinitum yet with different flourishes so the neighborhood didn’t look too monotonous. At least not at first blush.
The obscenities got built and the people lined up to overpay and have the walls of their home 15 feet from the walls of their neighbor’s home. Since they were just about the only units on the market, they moved pretty much like pancakes and the developers could claim, “We’re only giving the people what they want.” Why then did so many purchasers bitch about the facts of life in their new neighborhoods? I guess they weren’t in on it since they never really had actual choice. It wasn’t like they could buy the one-acre lots on the other side of the street.
If there was one thing a developer knows, it’s curb appeal. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to look good. At least until the deal clears escrow. Stick in some plants, any old plants, and call it “landscaping.” Most of them would be dead in less than a year. Absolutely no care or thought was put into what types of plants would be viable based on climate, sunlight, etc. But they sure looked good when it was time to sell the home. The same with the fence. The same with the kitchen cabinets. There will always be some settling, they say. You didn’t expect your doors to open and close, did you?
In those planter strips they shoved in some trees. Within two years a lot of those trees would be stone cold dead.
What else can you say about an industry where every corner cut increases your profit and superficial adornments make the money move faster?
At the end of the block was “Phase 3.” It was a big vacant lot. You figured they’d build there some day. Then the bubble popped and that lot just sat. Phase 3 got put on hold. And that lot sat, was forgotten, and became completely overgrown. Was the developer around to make it look nice? Take a little care in his neighborhood? Look out for his customers? Maybe take a brush hog to it once a bloody year? No. Not unless the City finally ordered him to do so.
Where was the developer, anyway? I sure saw him a lot in city council meetings. After building hundreds of homes down a busy street, the city was forced to pay to put in a traffic signal because the intersection had become dangerous and neighbors were dying in traffic accidents. The developer was there to complain about the charges, a mere drop in the bucket he’d been asked to pay, monies that would be set aside to pay some of the costs incurred by the city (aka the neighboring residents) by his development. These fees are known as SDCs (System Development Charges). He was complaining that the fees were too high for him to bear, and the city council, loaded up with bankers, realtors and businessmen, listened hard. You could say they were a very receptive audience.
SDC fees (also known as impact fees) may help to assist in the development of needed parks, schools, roads, sewer, water treatment, utilities, libraries, and public safety buildings to the newly developed area. Without these fees, developers pocket more profits and the city and residents are forced pick up the tab long after the developer is gone.
It sure was rough for Mr. Developer. Even with those damned development fees he owned the most expensive
house mansion in town. I guess that’s why he was groveling to the city council like Oliver asking for more gruel. We saw the pictures of his $15 million home on the internet (complete with private underground cave pool) when he was getting divorced and had to list it on the market. Yes, this was truly a man deserving of government subsidies. Maybe he needed another house just like it?
If I was successful enough to own a $15 million mansion I sure as shit wouldn’t spend my free time in city council meetings asking for even more at the cost of my fellow citizenry. I’d be out enjoying the good life.
The landscaping has since died out. The dead trees still line the streets too narrow for the homebuyers to drive on. And that giant empty Phase 3 lot sure is an eyesore. I think it may be where the next season of Survivor is going to be played.
Why didn’t I ever see any of this shit on the board game of Life when I was growing up?
For some time I’ve been meaning to do a post about the Wall Street Journal app on my iPod. I think it was back in July 2011 when I took the screenshot shown above (on the right).
Notice what is peculiar about it? Here’s a little hint:
Without further ado, here are some excerpts from my official review of the WSJ app for iOS devices.
It’s the best goddamn app for showing locked content (keys) that I’ve ever seen in my whole fucking life.
–Tom B. Taker
Seriously. If you love little key icons you’re going to love this app.
–Tom B. Taker
This app will make you lose your shit. If you can unlock anything in it, that is.
–Tom B. Taker
Finally! The Wall Street Journal has taken the time-honored model of frustrating customers and achieved sublime perfection.
–Tom B. Taker
So many keys – you’ll think you’re on a vacation in Florida! And that’s an economical vacation!
–Tom B. Taker
I’d post the review in full, but unfortunately that is restricted content. Lucky for you it’s only $9.99. Send me your credit card information and I’ll pass it along.
Now obviously I could pay money and remove those little locked icons. How much would you pay? Well, for that priviledge the WSJ wants $1.99 a week. (That’s about $103/year.) Or you could get the actual print version delivered to your door six days a week for $2.29 a week. (About $119/year.)
Yep. That’s right. Go online and save the trees, gas, and cost of paying a human being to schlep a physical object to you and you’ll save a whopping 13 percent. Erm, 13 percent? Say what?
Yes, here we have the WSJ model that web content should be almost the same price as traditional distribution.
Now how much would you pay?
Wait! Before you answer, check this out. What if you could only pay one penny? Then would you be interested?
In a story this morning The Guardian reports on a WSJ scam that cost an executive his job. (Is The Guardian one of the hundreds of media owned by Rupert Murdoch? I’m not sure. There are so many it’s hard to keep them straight. Luckily there’s an app for that! Good news – they’re not!)
In wake of the scandal, the European Publishing Chief for the WSJ resigned. The Guardian reports that under the scheme WSJ newspapers were sold for one cent each in a bid to increase circulation numbers.
By the way, in case anyone forgets, the WSJ is owned by News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch. (Why do I feel like I should be referring to him as He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named?) Shudder!
Anywho, under the scheme, companies who sponsored the WSJ paid a reduced “knock-down” rate of 5 cents or less per newspaper. In the case of a Dutch company known as Executive Learning Partnership (ELP), the rate was 1 cent per newspaper for 12,000 sponsored purchases per day.
The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) eventually determined that the scheme was responsible for 41% of the daily circulation the WSJ claimed in Europe, about 31,000 copies out of a total of 75,000.
Things fell apart when ELP complained they were not getting enough return on their investment. Gee, ya think? Perhaps it isn’t wise to invest in a newspaper that artificially inflates its circulation numbers, eh? To placate ELP, the WSJ executive created an addendum to their contract, and it is that addendum that The Guardian reports led to his resignation.
The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal’s true circulation.
The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper’s management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality.
Source: The Guardian
Ethics? Reputation? Editorial quality? Those are not words one normally associates with something owned by the likes of Rupert Murdoch.
The highly controversial activities were organised in London and focused on the Journal’s European edition, which circulates in the EU, Russia, and Africa. Senior executives in New York, including Murdoch’s right-hand man, Les Hinton, were alerted to the problems last year by an internal whistleblower and apparently chose to take no action. The whistleblower was then made redundant.
Don’t you hate it when you get made “redundant?” I know I do! (Or did I already say that?)
If Rupert Murdock is involved, why do I feel that even a mere penny is too much to pay?
Bank of America is rumored to begin charging $5 a month for debit cards.
I’ve been warning about this for years. Step one is get you hooked and step two is to shove it up your ass.
So long B of A. Closing my account is going to feel great!
Update: Added picture and the following text.
Now that I’m home I can add a few additional details about the colonoscopy sponsored by Bank of America and other financial institutions across this great land of ours.
In Bank of America’s scheme, the account holder will be charged a $5 monthly fee if they use their debit card a single time in a given month. The fee is scheduled to begin early in 2012.
Other banks are joining in. Wells Fargo and Chase are “testing” $3 fees. I wonder what that means? A focus group of consumers to find out how much they like it? Doubtful.
Regions Financial plans a $4 fee starting next month. SunTrust is apparently already charging a $5 fee.
Tom’s Law #42
Let the banking customer beware.
Okay, that’s not really a law. Sorry. I lost my interest. I could fix it, but I’d have to charge a fee.
Other fees are a hippin’ and a hoppin’, too. The fees that some banks charge for “non-network” ATM usage will be going from $2.00 to $2.50 per transaction.
Some other fees I’ve heard about:
- $1.00 – saying hello (friendly) to your banking representative
- $42.00 – saying “fuck you” to your banking representative
- $1.00/hour for parking in the lot or $10 for a 24-hour pass
- $8.00 monthly surcharge for printed statements
- $5.00 monthly surcharge for access to online banking
- $2.00 for printed receipts
- $5.00 for phone calls (first 15 minutes), $3 for each additional 15 minutes
- 12 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts per parking lot use for non-profit car wash fund raising events
- $3.00 to check account balance
- $1.00 rental fee for pen usage when filling out deposit or withdrawal slips
- $4.00 fee to check your ID when conducting transactions with a teller (non-robotic only)
- One percent interest fee on all savings accounts
- One percent deposit fee
- Three percent transfer fee
- Five percent withdrawal fee
- $8.00 fee per money order
- $25.00 fee per cashier’s check
- $84.00 fee for insufficient funds transaction
- $800 processing fee to fake signatures on loan foreclosures
- $30 per incident to wear sunglasses inside a branch office
- $7.99 to ask a bank employee the location of the bathroom
- $10.00 to use the bathroom
- $8.00 for toilet paper (optional)
- $12.00 for soap to wash hands
- $8.42 for water to use the soap
- $4.00 for towel to dry hands
- $20 fee for attempting to transfer money to WikiLeaks
That’s all I can think of right now. I wonder if they have any current openings for Fee Designer. I could go for a career change. B of A execs – call me! I’m cheap!
In late December  it was announced that Bank of America had bought up more than 300 Internet domain names in a would-be attempt to preempt bad publicity that might be forthcoming in the anticipated WikiLeaks release. The domain names were such as BrianMoynihanBlows.com and BrianMoynihanSucks.com as well as similar names for other top executives of the bank. Nick Baumann of Mother Jones ridiculed this effort, saying: “If I owned stock in Bank of America, this would not give me confidence that the bank is prepared for whatever Julian Assange is planning to throw at it.”
Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Right now, you’re probably asking, “Yeah, but what about the rainforest?” You ask, I deliver!
Rainforest Action Network Statement on Bank of America’s New Emissions Commitment
May 18, 2011SAN FRANCISCO (May 18, 2011)—Today, Bank of America announced a new greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitment covering its ‘operational’ emissions coming from the company’s global facilities. The announcement can be found here: http://mediaroom.bankofamerica.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=234503&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1565219&highlight.
Amanda Starbuck, Energy and Finance Program Director at Rainforest Action Network, issued the following statement in response:
“While we welcome Bank of America’s continued acknowledgment that reducing greenhouse gas emission is critical to combating the climate crisis, the bank must move quickly to address the much larger carbon footprint coming from its role as a lead financier of the coal industry. RAN estimates that Bank of America’s financing climate footprint is to be one hundred times larger than the size of its operational carbon footprint.
Thanks for the reminder to check up on all the B of A controversies. All publicity is good, right? You guys sure have that nailed.
So, what does an outfit like B of A teach us about something like the free market? The takeaway (for me at least) is that they are expert practitioners of the mythical win-win voluntary fee market transaction that many hold so dear. Ooops. Dear me. I meant free market, of course.
In this sort of transaction, one side says, “Yes, I’ll conduct business with you, but only if I can rake you for every penny you’ve got. I can fee you for anything. Naturally, you can’t fee me for jack shit, no matter how ineptly and rudely I do what I said I’d do but massively failed.”
If I treated my customers the way B of A treats theirs I’d have to live in a box. I could probably get one from B of A for a $12 fee.