April 28, 2006
WASHINGTON - Thursday, Exxon Mobil announced it had earned $8 billion in profits in the first three months of this year. For outraged consumers, the staggering profit numbers boil down to this: Exxon earned 9.5 cents on every $1 of gasoline and oil sold, cashing in on skyrocketing prices at every stage of the process.
You know where I stand on this whole issue, but I wanted to highlight one particular quote from the article that made me laugh:
onsumer groups argue that oil companies are profiting unfairly from their own failure to invest in refineries, which is now driving up gas prices.
"People's budgets are being clobbered by companies who have failed to expand capacity, failed to compete," says Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America. "And then stockholders get rewarded, executives get rewarded and the people suffer."
Um. Y'all? That's not a failure. That's a business strategy.
There is no successful business in the history of existence that willfully and knowlingly drives supply ahead of demand. And they certainly would not do it do the sake of making their product cheaper when consumers will pay more. The very idea is ridiculous.
People are not "suffering" because they cannot afford gas any more than they are suffering because they cannot afford to buy Louis Vuitton. (I know this "suffering." Oh how I know it!)
Mr. Cooper's remarks are typical of someone who thinks that reality owes them something. As if not jsut mere survival, but even success and prosperity in life are a given. These are people who have had some sort of very bitter break up with reality.
I've seen people on television being outraged at the price of gas. But those people are interviewed at the gas pump. My idea of outrage is of a scale that is so significantly larger than their outrage that I really don't even mean the same thing that they mean with the word.
Do you know how many bicycles you can buy for the price of a car?! I'm sure you could get a horse or two for the price of a car, too. Hay has to be cheaper than gas.
I will know when the price of gas is too high as soon as folks stop buying it. Not just one or two, either. When demand falls to a point where production cannot be sustained THEN the price is too high.
If you're outraged don't buy it. Find a way to make ethanol. Or make your car run on veggie oil or whatever. If you're outraged, find an alternative. But do not come to me saying you're soooooo upset and that your suffering is soooooo profound when you just keep going in for more.
I think we all know what suffering Louis Vuitton has brought to our lives. And that's why we have Miuccia Prada. And we love her!
April 27, 2006
I have never heard the term "nuke" to refer to nuclear technology in general. I have only ever heard it refer to using a microwave or to nuclear weapons.
So, these headlines make it sound like Iran's story about using nuclear technology for power has shifted to creating nuclear weapons.
Mind you, I wouldn't put it past them; I fully expect Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
But to print this as a headline makes it sound like we have verified that they are developing nuclear weapons.
NOW who's selling WMDs to the public?
FRESNO, Calif. - Lawyers for a woman who was spanked in front of her co-workers as part of what her employer said was a camaraderie-building exercise asked a jury Wednesday for at least $1.2 million for the humiliation she claimed to have suffered.
Janet Orlando, 53, quit her job at the home security company Alarm One Inc. and sued, alleging discrimination, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.
Employees were paddled with rival companies' yard signs as part of a contest that pitted sales teams against each other, according to court documents. The winners poked fun at the losers, throwing pies at them, feeding them baby food, making them wear diapers and swatting their buttocks.
Props to Buddhista for the link.
April 26, 2006
The socialist PSOE party is apparently intent on introducing a bill aimed at giving apes the same rights as man, "and the immediate inclusion of these animals as people." As a result, the bill adds that apes "should have the same moral and legal protection that humans currently enjoy."
Fernando Sebastian, the bishop of Tudela has termed the measure as "making oneself looking ridiculous in the name of progress, and then what about the rights of the fighting bulls?" Meanwhile, other political commentators have stated that as a result of these measures, it will not be long before apes names will start appearing on the electoral rolls.
This is one of those cases where one cannot really discuss the object in question without being funny. This is so patently absurd that I find it difficult to believe that this isn't some late April Fools' joke.
They're thinking of letting apes vote.
No, please, try to imaging this for a second.
Apes are the members of the Hominoidea superfamily of primates, including humans. Under current classification, there are two families of hominoids:
* the family Hylobatidae consists of 4 genera and 12 species of gibbons, including the Lar Gibbon and the Siamang, collectively known as the "lesser apes"
* the family Hominidae consisting of gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and humans, collectively known as the "great apes".
A few other primates have the word "ape" in their common names, but they are not regarded as true apes.
Now, let's give Spain the benefit of the doubt here. I don't think they could possible let gibbons vote. I mean, that's just too much, right? Surely, they just mean gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans.
I'm not quite skilled or focused enough to give this topic the level of sarcasm it really deserves.
The Spain Herald: Socialists: Give apes human rights which confirms my theory above:
The Spanish Socialist Party will introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies calling for "the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings." The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans.
The party will announce its Great Ape Project at a press conference tomorrow. An organization with the same name is seeking a UN declaration on simian rights which would defend ape interests "the same as those of minors and the mentally handicapped of our species."
According to the Project, "Today only members of the species Homo sapiens are considered part of the community of equals. The chimpanzee, the gorilla, and the orangutan are our species's closest relatives. They possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals."
I think they might be serious. No, for real.
I mean they are socialists. You never know what idiotic plan they'll come up with next.
Thanks to the Blogless Fourth Axiom for the news tip.
(Greenville-AP) April 25, 2006 - An Upstate gas station has sued saying that a competitor's lower per gallon prices at the pump have caused them to lose profits.
Pantry Incorporated owns a gas station in Gaffney. It sued in Cherokee County, alleging that Petro Express had kept prices at two of its Gaffney stations below cost.
With gas prices approaching $3 a gallon in South Carolina, it would seem Pantry's complaint would not get a lot of support outside a courtroom.
But Pantry's suit says its competitor violated South Carolina's Unfair Trade Practices Act. Under the law, motor fuel retailers can't set prices below cost if the purpose is impair competitors.
Pantry says it has lost $160,000. A judge is expected to hear the motion on July 31st.
According to the CNN video, the actual terms of the legislation are that goods cannot be sold at below cost with the "intent or effect" of 'imparing' trade.
Meanwhile, in Washington, investigations are being launched to find out if the high price of gas is unfair.
Behold the contradiction that is anti-trust legislation!
This is what happens when there isn't a separation of state and trade. Interferance by the government makes criminals of everyone and then the politicians get to choose who goes to jail.
I will be interested to see how this case plays out.
April 25, 2006
BERLIN (Reuters) - A 53-year-old German woman who was driving her dead mother across country to save on mortuary transportation costs was fined by police for disturbing a dead person's peace.
"You're not allowed to transport dead people in your private car," said Ralf Schomisch, police spokesman in Koblenz, where the car was found after a tip-off from a mortuary.
"The corpse was on the back seat without a seat belt, which in this case didn't really matter. But it was covered up with clothing. It is a misdemeanor."
He said the woman, who was not identified, was charged with violating burial laws and disturbing a dead person's peace. She would face a modest fine, Schomisch said.
The woman had already driven 450 km (280 miles) after picking up the body from a mortuary in the northern city of Bremerhaven. She wanted to bury her mother, who died of natural causes aged 90, in her hometown Daun.
No explanation appears to be offered for WHY one is not allowed to transport a dead person in one's own private car (after all question of wrongful death has been removed, of course) but no evidence is offered to demonstrate that dead people have peace to be disturbed.
I think it's a little bit funny that the policeman is actually bothered by the fact that the corpse wasn't wearing a seatbelt but, as a second thought, remembers that it's a corpse, so it doesn't matter. Alternatively, he seems to note that nude corpses are fine but that covering a corpse with clothes is a punishable offence makes up for the fact that it wore no seat belt. I guess criminals do get what's coming to them.
I'm sure that the US has similar laws, so I can't say that this is yet another reason not to live in Germany as opposed to living in the US, but I will say these laws are stupid. Corpses don't have rights, either.
April 13, 2006
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - It's a "factual reality" that beans make you break wind, says South Africa's advertising watchdog.
A TV advert for sweet onions showed a rugby player eating beans that made him smell "stinky." The advert claims that "with sweet onions there are no tears, no burn and definitely no stink."
The country's Dry Bean Producers Organization complained about the advert on the basis that the "stinky" charge was untrue but the Advertising Standards Authority threw out the charge and said it was widely known that beans produce gas.
"It plays on an objectively determinable factual reality which cannot be denied..." the ASA said on its Web site.
The complaint concerns a television commercial which depicts a rugby player sitting alone in a change room with his coach. The rest of the team is standing outside the door refusing to enter the change room. The lone player has a can of beans in his hand which he is eating. The coach asks the player, “Why, Roy, why? With sweet onions there are no tears, no burn and definitely no stink. The beans.” The player passes the can to the coach and the pay-off line is, “Wildeklawer Sweet Onions. Stinky is out. Sweet is in”.
THE RESPONDENT’S SUBMISSIONS
The respondent submitted that the commercial does not contravene the ASA Code. The commercial does not purport to make any specific claims about the merits of sweet onions versus dry beans. It merely uses beans as a parody / hypothetical situation to encourage people to eat onions. The respondent further submitted that it did not even consider beans to be a competitor product to onions. For these reasons it argued that it was not making any misleading or competitive claims, and that the commercial is merely puffery and hyperbole.
It also submitted that it was a common perception that beans give you gas and in fact this is confirmed by the complaint itself.
The Majority Decision
The majority of the Tribunal is of the view that the commercial does not breach Clause 7 of Section II of the Code. The majority is of the view that, in so far as it can be said that the commercial constitutes comparative advertising, the respondent did not intend to disparage beans as a product. The commercial constitutes a harmless parody. It plays on an objectively determinable factual reality which cannot be denied, in an over the top manner. The intention was not to discourage people from eating beans but merely to encourage people to eat onions.
OK. This changes things a bit.
The Reuters story makes is sound like "factual reality" means "public opinion." The ruling, however, uses the phrase to mean what it sounds like it means, which is to say, that beans do, in fact, cause gas.
I'm not sure how true it is that beans cause gas, but the Dry Bean people of South Africa concede that they do and, in my opinion, lost their case at the start.
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