Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oh, Germany!

I would be cross too:

"It's absolutely outrageous that beer is getting even more expensive," Glutsch said, gulping down the last swig of his half-liter dark beer at lunch. "But there's nothing we can do about it — except drinking less and that's not going to happen."

The price of beer is going up in Germany due to the politics of global warming. Farmer's are giving up growing barley and are growing other crops used for biofuels. The effect has left a high demand for barley causing the price to double. Naturally everyone, including brewers must raise their prices to cover the costs.

This of course is what the global warming crowd would have us do: pay more for everything or forgo conveniences in the name of the environment and the children.

Friday, May 25, 2007

This is Unbelievable

You've got to see this picture to believe it. The hog weighed over half a ton. After mounting the head, they are going to make sausage from the rest of it--500 to 700lbs. worth of meat! Amazing.

An eleven year old boy shot and killed the hog after a three hour hunt--finally killing it with a point blank shot.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bait & Switch at Best Buy?

Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General of Connecticut, has announced a lawsuit against Best Buy, stating, "Best Buy gave consumers the worst deal — a bait-and-switch-plus scheme luring consumers into stores with promised online discounts, only to charge higher in-store prices."

The Startribune article states,

"Blumenthal opened an investigation into the Richfield, Minn.-based retailer in March. About 20 customers complained to his office after a columnist for The Hartford Courant reported the experience of one Connecticut man who found a laptop computer advertised for $729.99 on, then went to a Best Buy store where an employee who seemed to check the same Web site told him the price was actually $879.99."

I didn't think much of this at the time, though I suspected it was an honest mistake on behalf of the salesman. I worked at Best Buy for over four years and understand how mistakes like this can be made. But I have now experienced a similar kind of bait & switch firsthand.

May 15th the new Wilco album was released. I saw that it was advertised as $11.99 on the Best Buy website. I mentioned this to my wife, who went to the store to purchase it for me. When she arrived, she was confused because the very same CD cost $13.99. She asked customer service about it--including a manager. They insisted that the price was correct.

She called me after she bought it, telling me about the discrepancy. I was confused myself, and double-checked the website. Sure enough, the CD was still $11.99. I bought it on-line and opted for in-store pickup. In the meantime my wife ran some more errands. When she got back to Best Buy she returned the CD that she'd paid $13.99 for and picked up the one I'd purchased on-line for $11.99.

She discussed this with the same manager and customer service personnel. They said that they would have honored the web pricing had she stated the price she saw on-line, though she hadn't because she didn't do it confidently, having not seen it herself. They did not understand her frustration and the confusion this raised. They did nothing to make her a happy customer.

I got my CD, paid the lower price, and am now listening to it in my car--to and from work. But it was a hassle that could have easily been avoided. I doubt that Best Buy has any malicious intent on having different prices in their on-line store than in-store. It might be a wise business decision to advertise different prices on-line than the in-store prices--but it seems like a bad public relations decision. Now they'll be paying their lawyers to defend the practice.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jimmy Carter's Non-Apology

Over the weekend, former President Jimmy Carter said,

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history. The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me."

Naturally it has been pointed out by others the irony of Carter's statements, and he is now backtracking. Enter the "non-apology apology:"

"... my remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted. But I wasn't comparing the overall administration, and I was certainly not talking personally about any president." Carter claims he was comparing Bush's foreign policy to that of Nixon--not every president in history.

Carter's "non-apology apology" comes after the likes of Dick Durbin, John Kerry, and Mike Nifong. But none can top the master--Bill Clinton.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What We Can All Learn From An Environmentalist

Get Rich Slowly linked to a site named "No Impact Man" a week or two ago. I have since become a fascinated, but highly critical reader of the blog. However his latest entry is one that I resonate with deeply.

No Impact Man labels himself as, "a guilty liberal [who] finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop, and while living in New York City generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, Four Seasons-loving wife along for the ride."

Well, clearly this is a man with whom I do not see eye-to-eye with on most anything. However, the experiment is a fascinating one. I disagree entirely with his world view, yet we share common ground, it seems.

In his most recent entry he writes:

In my imagination, people used to live like this: you had most of the bare necessities but then every so often a relative managed to get hold of, say, some coffee or some salt and pepper or a guava fruit. That day that it came would be special. These things were called “luxuries” or “delicacies.” If guests came over you’d say, “Hey, you know, cousin John sent us some coffee beans. Shall we have some for a treat?”

This is one of the perspectives on life that I have gained in recent years as a result of closely examining my diet and realizing that it is not possible to live a healthy and satisfying life eating in the way I had been. We in America, and surely throughout the West have been so transformed by instant gratification and abundance that we have fallen into the trap of decadence and over indulgence.

Treats like cakes, cookies, candies, chocolate, pastries, and even sugar itself were not always such integral parts of the human diet. With their abundance in the late 20th century we have integrated them too much into our diets and of course we are fattening up as a result.

There are scenes in westerns (two off the top of my head) in which white cane sugar--the same kind that sits untouched in our kitchens today until used for baking is a rare commodity and itself a treat. I can't help but think this kind of ethic today would result in fitter bodies for us all.

Of course this principle can be extended beyond culinary pursuits, as No Impact Man himself argues. I'm not a Luddite, and perhaps No Impact Man isn't either, but I do believe in technological progress. However, it is not something we should take uncritically. Much has been lost as a result of the way our lives are changed by progress.

In fact while we "progress" much is lost, and we do even regress in many ways. Community is lost when our entertainment is recorded and rebroadcast over multiple mediums such as television, movies, and the Internet. Community is lost when the television is the thing around which the family gathers.

So No Impact Man has made a valid point, one which we need to hear more often in our culture.