Archive for the 'business_lies' Category

Protect Your Kids with Trimz!

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Cory Doctorow has a thing for Disneyania, and this one is pretty fun (in a scary kind of way): Disney-logoed DDT-impregnated wallpaper for the kids’ room (1947).


In light of the recent Supreme Court decision overturning legal limits on corporate free speech in the political arena, I thought this was a nice reminder of what you get when companies are free to say whatever they want.

Hey; it’s certified to be absolutely safe for home use. C’mon.

(Actually, the comments on the item at Boing Boing are pretty interesting. It’s still scary, but like most scary things, the underlying reality is more complicated when you look at it up close.)

Audioholics: Oppo on the Inside, Lexicon on the Outside

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The folks at Audioholics decided to do a review of Lexicon’s new, high-end DVD player, the BD-30. They were intrigued, they said, by the fact that the $3,500 unit’s back-end panel looked more or less identical to that of the Oppo BDP-83 — a player that sells for $3,000 less.

When we received the player the first thing we did was open it up to get a look at the inside. Imagine my surprise when I found that not only did the Lexicon share the same boards and transport as the Oppo – it was in fact AN OPPO BDP-83 PLAYER, CHASSIS AND ALL, SHOVED INSIDE AN ALUMINUM LEXICON WRAPPER.

They were unable to find anything — other than the slightly larger aluminum chasis and the logo — that differentiated the two products.

And this is why we have organized labor.

Monday, June 1st, 2009

I just came across this and wanted to share it.

This is why we have labor laws and why people think ‘Maybe we should get organized.’ I’m a Nikon man myself, I hope their employees are doing better.

Stemwedel on Elsevier and Merck’s Fake Medical Journal

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Janet D. Stemwedel talks about the recently uncovered case of pharmaceutical giant Merck paying publisher Elsevier to produce a fake medical journal:

Clearly putting together something that looked like a medical journal and that contained articles (and excerpts from articles) that had only good things to say about Merck products reflects an intent to deceive. A real medical journal, one would assume, contains articles that have been scrutinized by scientists who are concerned to uphold standards of evidence and sound scientific reasoning. Peer review by experts lets the consumer of the articles in the journal regard the articles as legitimate contributions to a body of scientific knowledge. Moreover, real medical journals consider manuscripts examining the safety and efficacy of drugs from a number of competing manufacturers, and, presumably, manuscripts reporting problems with drugs, not just successes with them.

Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was a fake journal. But, because it was put together to look like a real one, it was intended to capitalize on the credibility that articles in a real medical journal would command.

Merck, obviously, crossed an ethical line here. So did publisher Elsevier.

Steorn’s Perpetual Motion Machine

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Continuing the theme of the flowery descriptive language in the Lady Hope account of Darwin’s deathbed conversion, check out this explanation from would-be perpetual motion machine vendor Steorn: How Orbo Works.

Orbo is based upon time variant magnetic interactions, i.e. magnetic interactions whose efficiency varies as a function of transaction timeframes.

It is this variation of energy exchanged as a function of transaction time frame that lies at the heart of Orbo technology, and its ability to contravene the principle of the conservation of energy. Why? Conservation of energy requires that the total energy exchanged using interactions are invariant in time. This principle of time invariance is enshrined in Noether’s Theorem.

The time variant nature of Orbo interactions can be engineered using two basic techniques. The first technique utilizes a method of controlling the response time of magnetic materials to make them time variant. This is achieved by controlling the MH position of materials during permanent magnetic interactions.

The second technique decouples the Counter Electromotive Force (CEMF) from torque for electromagnet interactions. This decoupling of CEMF allows time variant magnetic interactions in electromagnetic systems.

If you hurry, you can be one of the first 300 lucky licensees to sign up to make and sell Orbo machines.

LA Times: The Peanut Company Lied

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

From the LA Times today comes this fun article: Peanut company lied on salmonella testing, FDA finds.

Peanut Corp. of America, the company that produced the contaminated peanut butter now being widely recalled, lied to Food and Drug Administration investigators about shipping batches of the food known to be tainted with salmonella bacteria, the agency said Friday.

The company had previously told the FDA that some lots of peanut butter had initially tested positive for the bacterium, then were retested and found to be negative before they were shipped. But further investigation showed that the company actually shipped some of the lots before the second tests were completed. Other lots were shipped without testing and, in some cases, no second test was performed even after the first one came back positive.

So far there have been eight deaths and 575 illnesses linked to poisoning by the company’s peanut butter.

In the wake of the deaths, FDA inspectors went into the plant on Jan. 9 — the first time they had visited the plant since 2001 — and finished their inspection Jan. 27.

I guess the people running the FDA haven’t been big believers in the value of government oversight since about 2001 or so. Just like the people charged with oversight and regulation of the financial industry. Or the people running FEMA at the time of Katrina. Or the people evaluating possible government responses to climate change. I mean, if everyone knows that government is the problem, not the solution, then the answer is simple, right?

Go free market! Woo!

Platt’s Life at Wal-Mart

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

I found this article by Charles Platt interesting: Life at Wal-Mart. Platt went undercover to find out just how bad it was working for the bane of unions everywhere: Wal-Mart.

The job was as dull as I expected, but I was stunned to discover how benign the workplace turned out to be. My supervisor was friendly, decent, and treated me as an equal. Wal-Mart allowed a liberal dress code. The company explained precisely what it expected from its employees, and adhered to this policy in every detail. I was unfailingly reminded to take paid rest breaks, and was also encouraged to take fully paid time, whenever I felt like it, to study topics such as job safety and customer relations via a series of well-produced interactive courses on computers in a room at the back of the store. Each successfully completed course added an increment to my hourly wage, a policy which Barbara Ehrenreich somehow forgot to mention in her book.

Pro- and anti-union readers: Feel free to have it out in the comments.

On punditry and discourse

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I’ve been critical of the style of argument for a long time. This little clip was very eye opening to me, confirming what I’ve suspected for a long time. Shows like Hannity’s America or Hardball have has much to do with debate as professional wrestling has to do with prizefighting.

Peter Schiff on the Coming Economic Meltdown — Two Years Ago

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

So, is this a stopped clock being right twice a day? Or a little boy pointing out the emperor’s naked backside while being laughed at by his fellow pundits?

My favorite part: Ben Stein at 6:31 encouraging everyone to load up on all those “astonishing bargains” in financial sector stocks. So, I wonder how much of his own money Stein put on that bet?

I don’t know anything about investing. But if you don’t ever bother to go back and compare what your experts said would happen to what actually did happen, well, you’re terminally clueless.

In which case, you’re probably perfectly willing to accept Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that “the Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen.”

Well, I guess it’s true enough, at least in the sense that Obama is going to be the one to have to deal with cleaning up the mess. But somehow, I don’t think that’s what Rush meant when he said it.

America Won’t Bail

Monday, September 29th, 2008

With the failure today of the bailout bill that party leaders cobbled together, not only has the stock market further collapsed, but the utter political strangeness of the situation has reached a pinnacle. This whole mess has a can’t-look-away quality to it. Pelosi blames Bush for the mess, Republicans blame Pelosi for poisoning the caucus, presidential candidates blame each other for the bill’s failure, and as never before in my memory the talk has very clearly nothing to do with reality.

Let’s examine motivations:

  • Bush is a lame duck and wants to secure his legacy by not screwing this up.
  • Either Obama or McCain will be President-elect in a month or so, and making the wrong decision on an issue this large could be deadly.
  • Party leaders want to take credit for their party.
  • Rank-and-file congressmen are shortly up for election and desperately want to not piss off their constituency.

And then the results:

  • Bush puts forth an enormous proposal with no accountability or oversight, but is astoundingly willing to add the oversight back in to the bill when challenged.
  • Obama and McCain both support the bill, but say almost nothing about it except that it should be passed quickly.
  • Party leaders on both sides support the bill, seem infurated with rank-and-file congressmen when they fail to pass it, blame each other.
  • Rank-and-file congressmen (R moreso than D, Bush be damned) hate the bill, due to significant outrage from their constituency, and kill it.

When you look at the pretty clear (and strong) motivations, the resulting actions make sense. But played as a right vs. left battle, it’s mass hysteria and confusion.

So what’s the outcome of all this? The American people seem to have come together, without regard to party, to kill this bill through pressure on our elected representatives, despite the wishes of the powerful of both parties. As a result, we’ve given ourselves one of the largest stock crashes in history and we’ve caused a large number of powerful people to soil themselves. I don’t know if I should be afraid or proud.

You ’08 – Trade Debate

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Sorry for not keeping my promise to follow up the original reader platform post with some debate posts in a timely manner.

Rather than open this up to a free-for-all, I’d like to start with a specific topic for which we had a pretty wide span of opinions and policy, but is perhaps more pressing even than the typical topics of argument here: trade. To summarize:

  • Steve advocates free trade with restrictions used as a tool to punish human rights offenders. NorthernLite feels similarly, with added emphasis on environmental enforcement, while shcb seems to favor no restrictions at all, allowing business to set its own agenda.
  • JAYSON wants a return to a strong American manufacturing base by cutting the agreements and incentives that drive globalization. Knarlyknight takes a less harsh stance, but additionally favors tight enforcement of safety standards for imported goods.

Here are a couple starter question for the candidates:

Steve, NorthernLite, and shcb, are you concerned that transnational corporations may be often be pursuing business strategies that optimize their profits at the expense of nation-specific interests, as typified by America’s drift toward a service/consumer economy and widening economic gap?

JAYSON and Knarlyknight, strong economic ties between nations may the be the most effective base on which to build lasting good diplomatic relations; wouldn’t a more nationalistic US economic policy further isolate the US on the world stage, and embolden competing economic unions in the EU and Asia?

Free “Food”

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

So many things to post about, so little time… Petraeus’ charts (“ooh! pretty colors!”), that study of the conservative vs. liberal style of thinking

But no. This is the one thing to break through my Maginot Line of bloggy ennui:

Huffington on the Media on Dead Mine Rescuers

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

I’ve been only half paying attention to the ongoing saga of the miners trapped in the Utah coal mine. Something about the “Little Boy” (or adult mine workers) “Trapped in a Well” (or a mine) storyline seems so clichéd, so tailor-made for shallow, breathless coverage by a growing crush of media, that I feel a personal duty to avoid the story, the same way I feel obligated to say “no” to any extended warranty while buying consumer electronics, just on general principle. Which is callous and insensitive, I realize; those miners and their families are going through a horrible ordeal, and any decent human, given half a chance, would (and should) feel powerful emotional sympathies. Which may just be another way of saying the same thing: in a context in which large corporations are mobilizing armies of bubbleheads and technicians and equipment to tap into my essential humanity for the purpose of selling soap (or whatever CNN is hawking during the commercial breaks from the mine coverage), cultivating my inner cynic becomes an act of justifiable (if regrettable) self defense.

I did have a moment when listening to NPR the other day when it occurred to me how the rescue effort has played out like a metaphorical version of the Iraq war: ill-equipped, ill-trained (if sincere) efforts in the early going (like the True Believer twenty-somethings who staffed the CPA in the early Iraq reconstruction effort); followed by people with some sense of what needed to be done, but without the required expertise to pull it off against a tight schedule (as when the initial rescue wells went astray and missed the miners’ presumed location); followed by repeated expensive-but-doomed efforts that amounted to too little, too late. And the whole time, we had the spectacle of those in power (generals and politicians in the case of Iraq, mine owner and Bush-appointed mining safety official in the case of the collapsed mine), posing for the cameras and apparently focused at least as much on maintaining a fiction that they bore no blame for the unfolding disaster as on actually living up to their obligations.

Sigh. And now the metaphor gets an extra layer, as we grapple with the sunk-cost fallacy: More are continuing to die as a result of the initial mistakes. Do we keep going as a tribute to the fallen? Or pull out and face the realization that they died in vain?

Anyway, I was interested by Arianna Huffington’s commentary on the media’s coverage of the affair: It Shouldn’t Have Taken the Deaths of Three Miners to Get the Media to Focus on Mine Safety.

So last night, suddenly, after the tragic second collapse at the Utah mine, there was a dramatic shift in the TV coverage of the story. All at once, faux folksy mining boss Bob Murray, who had been everywhere, was nowhere to be found (even sending in a junior executive to handle this morning’s press conference). In his place, at long last, were actual scientists, and experts on mine safety and the workings of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Bush mine safety czar Richard “Recess Appointment” Stickler was also absent last night, and did not appear again until this morning’s press conference.

So many questions were finally being asked. Prompting one more: What took so long? Why did it take a tragic second collapse before the Murray and Strickler PR Show was finally replaced by actual journalism?

On the specific question she raises about the media, I think it’s just the latest in a long line of examples of how entertainment and business values are displacing journalistic ethics. Bloggers are gradually assuming the role of journalists. Which I realize is problematic in various ways, but it’s also just the reality of the situation.

RIAA, MPAA: We Want Legal Right to Lie

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

A bill aimed at cracking down on businesses that engage in “pretexting” (or, to be less precious about it, lying) in pursuit of personal information has become the target of a lobbying effort by the music and movie industries, which say they need to be able to lie in order to fight piracy: Recording, movie industries lobby for permission to deceive.

Marshall on Telcos’ Non-Denial Denials

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Interesting scuttlebutt lately regarding whether telephone companies have or haven’t been handing over customer calling data en masse to the government. I like Joshua Marshall’s take: TPM reader DV has an interesting and good point…

For all the shilly-shallying, Verizon does appear to come right out and deny they gave any customer records to the NSA.

So what gives?

I think I’ve got the answer: they’re lying.

No, I don’t have any inside information to confirm that claim. But common sense is a marvelous thing.

Isn’t it though?

More of Marshall’s thoughts are available in his earlier posting, A number of TPM readers…

One of the strongest arguments in favor of this interpretation, at least for me, is the coy language the Bush administration has been using. At this point, how gullible would we have to be to give them the benefit of the doubt on a matter like this?

A: More gullible than I am.

Waterfall 2006

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

This is fairly off-topic, even for me, but in light of my switch lately to being part of a more-offical corporate software development effort, I found this parody funny: Waterfall 2006 – International Conference on Sequential Development.

If you’re not up on agile development methodologies you’ll probably miss the humor. But for me, it was pretty good.

Napster’s Striptease Commercial

Friday, December 9th, 2005

I don’t want to like this, since it’s pretty much on a par with the scantily-clad-woman-on-the-mechanical-bull Carl’s Jr. ad. But it does have a certain… punch. Anyway, the not-really-very-safe-for-work (depending on where you work) Napster striptease commercial: Get the whole thing.

Best Buy Prez: Um, Sorry for the Bait and Switch. No Hard Feelings, Eh?

Friday, December 9th, 2005

From Best Buy President Brian Dunn, via Xbox Circle: Best Buy president apologizes for Xbox 360 launch.

I’m writing to apologize.

While all of us at Best Buy were thrilled to be part of the recent launch of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game system – one of the most anticipated events in the history of electronic gaming – the launch did not go as we had hoped. We sold out of Xbox 360s nationwide in less than two hours, and most of our stores did an outstanding job of serving our gaming customers. I’d like to thank the majority of our employees, who provided a terrific experience for customers at the launch date. However, our promotional activities in certain cases failed to follow company guidelines. As a result, some of our valued gaming customers had an experience in our stores that was inconsistent with what you’ve come to expect from us, as a leader in the consumer electronics industry.

Specifically, customers in some Best Buy stores were told that they were required to buy additional Xbox accessories or services if they wanted one of the sought-after Xbox 360 consoles, even though we advertised the Xbox 360 console alone. I want to be very clear that Best Buy does not condone pressuring customers to purchase items they may not want or that may not fit their lifestyle. In fact, these behaviors are in direct conflict with our desire to serve customers’ needs better than anyone else, and our values of honesty and integrity.

More on Best Buy’s values of honesty and integrity from Hiro/Aaron’s Best Buy receipt check page (and the links diverging therefrom).

The Forbes Fictional 15

Sunday, December 4th, 2005

From Forbes magazine, profiles of the 15 richest people who don’t actually exist (or something): The Forbes fictional 15.

Thomas Hawk on the PriceRite Bait-and-Switch

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005

Thomas Hawke learns a lesson about the sleazy operators who do business on the net. Caveat clicktor: PriceRitePhoto: abusive bait and switch camera store.

At this point I thanked him and informed him that I would be writing an article about my experience with his company. It was at this point that he went ballistic. He first told me that if I did this that he would not cancel my order but just never fill it. If I cancelled it he said he’d charge me a 15% restocking fee. When I told him that that would be unethical he went nuts. He accused me of trying to “extort” him and said that he was going to have two local police officers come over and arrest me. He then went on to say that as a “professional photographer” I should have known better than to try and buy a camera this way and that he was an attorney and would sue me if I wrote an article about my experience.

He told me that I had no idea who I was dealing with and that as he had my work contact info that he was going to call both my immediate supervisor and the CEO of my company and tell them that I was trying to extort him.

“I will take this very personally,” he said.