Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trad Fest

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My friend Bonie Bolen does the background murals for Trad Fest (traditional acoustic blues festival) sponsored by The Columbus Blues Alliance at the Worthington Inn Saturday February 28th. I can't wait to see the mural she did this year...I did see the sketch. Tonight (Feb. 27) I get to see Buddy Guy. Hey maybe somebody can convince Buddy to hang around and drop in on Trad Fest on his way to his next gig!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Lori

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Happy Birthday Lori

I was trying to get this finished for you, but I have run out of time!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Green Green Grass Of Home

I visited Perryton Ohio today. It is nice to know the house I grew up in is still standing.

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I did this painting of the house on slate for my Mother a few years ago.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Layoff Daily

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This is a website that keeps track of all the layoffs and includes a job search feature. It is rumored that the guy that has been running this website is ready to pass it on to someone worthy. Check out Layoff Daily

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Schiff Report

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Here is the first Peter Schiff report. Peter was one of the few stock brokers who realistically called this financial crisis. The current administration should listen to him!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Vintage Duds for Barbie and Ken

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Two days ago I blogged about Barbie turning 50. One of my friends has vintage original Barbie and Ken clothes still in its original packaging for sale on eBay. Click on her username which will take you into her Ebay world where you can find a link to her autions: yourcatdid ( 919)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Disruptive Innovation: The wrong tool for the job.

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John Donahoe's (EBay CEO) interjection of "Disruptive Innovation" into the Ebay business model may go down in history as one of the biggest abuses of this theory, not to mention the biggest blunder for the health of the company. At the time of this writing Ebays stock is falling at a faster rate than the whole stock market. We all agree that the "theory of disruptive innovation" can be revolutionary. For instance the invention of the digital camera has replaced cameras that use film. The firearm replaced slings and arrows. These are examples of inventions that replaced earlier inventions. These inventions were disruptive innovations. So what is different about Mr. Donahoe's assumption that this theory is good for the eBay marketplace? He overlooked the basic fact that eBay does not own the product (items) that is for sale in the first place. The product is owned first by the seller. He has also overlooked that his sellers were also his buyers. So there is no better mouse trap to replace the old mouse trap. Instead he has caused his sellers to leave, and their items. So he has replaced an old system that was working with a system of nothing for sale worth buying, and nothing to buy worth selling in this sort of system. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of disruptive innovation interjected and imposed on eBay marketplace at this his timing. Getting everyone to buy and sell through electronic means only is arrogantly assuming that the power grid, credit, and the economics of growth, are all going to be ongoing and fluid. Of course that is absurd and completely out of his control. Indeed any one of the three that becomes absent will disrupt his "disruptive innovation" model. I am once again reminded of an old shopman's rule that you don't actually know how to use a tool until you are ready to name at least three ways it can be abused, and at least three situations where it's the wrong tool for the job! For more information on the Theory of Disruptive Innovation see Wikipedia.

This was a guide I wrote for eBay in 2008. If you have time please read all my reviews and guides at eBay and then please vote. I have risen through the top reviewer ranks over the months and am numbered somewhere around 2000 even though my icon only recognizes Top 5000. Every vote counts. Thanks CC
skymetalsmith ( 332) just click on the pencil

Thursday, February 19, 2009

McDonalds Takes A Risk!

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Perhaps this is just another way for the powers that be (CIA and Big Banks) to get Heroin and Cocain into the US now that human traffic is being slowed down...just saying!

I got this email this morning.
--- On Tue, 2/17/09, Charles Link  wrote:

From: Charles Link
Subject: FW: McDonald's
Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2009, 10:07 PM

I'm sure those of you who aren't in the cattle
business don't understand the
issues here. But to those of us
whose living depends on the
cattle market,
selling cattle, raising the best beef possible...
This is frustrating.

This will keep us from ever stopping there again, even for
a drink.

The original message is from the Texas Cattle Feeders
Association American
cattle producers are very passionate about this.

McDonald's claims that there is not enough beef in the
USA to support their
restaurants. Well, we know that is not so. Our opinion is
they are looking
to save money at our expense. The sad thing of it is that
the people of the
USA are the one s who made McDonald's successful in the
first place, but we
are not good enough to provide beef.

We personally are no longer eating at McDonald's, which
I am sure does not
make an impact, but if we pass this around maybe
there will
be an impact

Please pass it on. Just to add a note:

All Americans that sell cows at a livestock auction barn
had to sign a paper
stating that we do NOT EVER feed our cows any part of
another cow. South
Americans are not required to do this as of yet.

McDonald's has announced that they are going to start
importing much of
their beef from South America . The problem is that South
Americans aren't
under the same regulations as American beef producers, and
the regulations
they have are loosely controlled.

They can spray numerous pesticides o n their pastures that
have been banned
here at home because of residues found in the beef. They
can also use
various hormones and growth regulators that we can't.
The American public
needs to be
aware of this problem and that they may be in

American ranchers raise the highest quality beef in the
world and this is
what Americans deserve to eat.. Not beef from countries
where quality is
loosely controlled. Therefore, I am proposing a boycott of
McDonald's until
they see the light.

I'm sorry but everything is not always about the bottom
line, and when 0Ait
comes to jeopardizing my family's health, that is where
I draw the line.

I am sending this note to about thirty people. If each of
you send it to at
least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) .... and those 300 send it
to at l east ten
more (300 x 10 = 3,000) ... and so on, by the time the
message reaches the
sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE

I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much
potential, did you? Acting
together we can makea difference.. If this makes sense to
you, please pass
this message on.

David W. Forrest, Ph.D ., PAS, Dipl.
ACAP Department o f Animal Science
Texas A&M University
Phone (979) 845-3560
Fax (979) 862-3399
2471 TAMU College Station , TX 77843-2471

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Barbie Turns 50

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Barbie is turning 50 this month. Happy Birthday Barbie!
Robin Gerber has written the story about Barbi. and here is an excerpt.

Chapter One

The Doll Nobody Wanted

Little girls just want to be bigger girls.
—Ruth Handler

Ruth Handler could sell anything. In 1959 she arrived in New York for the nation's Toy Fair, confident that she could sell a new doll she had created. She had been fighting naysayers, however, for seven years. The doll was a terrible idea, they had told her.

As the forty-three-year-old executive vice president of Mattel, Inc., Ruth had created an industry upstart in 1944 that was now the third biggest toy company in America. Mattel, based in Hawthorne, California, just outside Los Angeles, was a $14 million business. Ruth, a petite 5-foot–2 ½-inch hard charger with a quick smile and quicker temper, had tripled the size of the business since the start of the decade. With her husband, Elliot, as chief toy designer, she had outmarketed and outmanaged her chief rivals, Louis Marx and Company, and Kenner Products. Her revenues would soon exceed theirs.

Ruth headed straight for the New Yorker Hotel, where a room had been converted into display space. So many companies came to Toy Fair with so many toys to display that they overflowed into hotels neighboring the main hall. Beds, chairs, and desks were all carted out to make room for elaborate displays like the one for Ruth's doll.

Ruth dressed that morning to look sharp and show off her slender waist and full bust. Moving restlessly around the room, she adjusted and scrutinized each twelve-inch scaled scene, no doubt thinking about what was at stake. She had ordered a huge amount of inventory from her Japanese manufacturers. Twenty thousand of her petite-size fashion dolls were on weekly order, along with forty thousand pieces of the various outfits that had been designed to fit the doll's tiny, voluptuous figure. But the cost of moving that inventory onto and off store shelves was not all that was on Ruth's mind.

Ruth was also worried about her credibility. She had founded the company, and the men in her mostly male industry gave her credit for brilliance as an entrepreneur. But she had never invented or designed a toy. She also possessed the sometimes irrational optimism that fuels leaders and allows little tolerance for failure. Even though her designers told Ruth many times that making this doll profitable would be impossible, she pushed it through anyway.

Ruth lit one cigarette off the last. She barked orders laced with four-letter words and swiped at specks of dust. Her bravado hid another more personal reason that made this toy important to her. For her, this doll was more than a plaything. She was determined to make the buyers understand that this small plastic toy had a giant place to fill in the lives of little girls.

Toy Fair shimmered with all the hype and hoopla of a three-ring circus and a Broadway show rolled into one. The extravaganza was about innovation, design, a touch of genius, and companies betting on hitting the cultural zeitgeist. Toy manufacturers, intent on mesmerizing retail store buyers, spilled out of the main convention venue, the Toy Center at 200 Fifth Avenue, a legendary address in the history of toy making. Built just after the turn of the twentieth century, the building saw tenants move in as World War I ended and the center of toy manufacturing moved from Germany to the United States.

Large, gaudy banners draped the entrance to the fair. Adults promenaded in character costumes, and toys blinked, whirled, and stared from elaborate displays. Child's play cloaked the serious business of making toy sales. Nearly seven thousand retail buyers milled around 200 Fifth Avenue on an unseasonably warm day. New items at the 1959 fair included a working child-size soda fountain, a walking hobbyhorse, a gas-operated car that could go as fast as 22 miles per hour, and a Dr. Seuss zoo.

Starting in 1903, toy companies had arrived at Toy Fair to unveil their inventions and try to grab the attention, and shelf space, of store buyers. The first fair had been held near the docks to accommodate toys imported from Europe. That year, the American toys included the Humpty Dumpty Circus, Crayola crayons, Lionel trains, and teddy bears, supposedly named for the president who had refused to kill an orphaned bear cub.

Before Toy Fair started, the media had ignored Ruth's doll. With the space age dominating Americans' imaginations, the New York Times focused on Mattel's two-stage, three-foot-long plastic rocket, which could shoot two hundred feet into the air. Jack Ryan, a former project engineer on the U.S. Navy's Sparrow missile project, was lured from a job at Raytheon Company to design the miniature missile. Mattel had the trappings of a major aircraft company, with its own research and development department and twenty graduate engineers with a large budget to dream up the next hot toy. Picked for their unique creativity and fierce competitiveness, they were called the blue-sky group, and they were expected to think two to four years into the future.

A toy like the plastic rocket would be sent to a team of ten industrial engineers, who planned the production. "On a new item," Ruth explained to a reporter, "we will run as many as a hundred cost sheets before we fix on a design." She had boundless faith in the management and productions systems she had designed. Mattel's factories were more mechanized and its costs more refined than any of its competitors. With typical grandiosity, Ruth told the New York Times, "With our system we might just as well be turning out real airplanes or missiles." Instead, fueled by Elliot's genius for invention, Ruth sold toys to a postwar marketplace starved for them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Helen and Gary Patton

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I don't know much about my ancestors except that they were hard working farmers. These two folks were my great grandparents on my fathers side of the family. I don't remember Gary but I knew Helen as she lived till I was 19 years old. There are pictures of Gary holding me as a newborn. He died shortly after that. I was their first great grandchild. My parents were John and Wilma Hendershot. Please contact me if you have any information or corrections about them.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Crossing The Rubicon

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I am reading Crossing The Rubicon by Michael Ruppert. This book was written in 2004 but all his concerns about Peak Oil have been realized. I have been following his blog Act 2: From The Wilderness'Peak Oil Blog and thought it might be time to check out his book.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Donald Trump Casino Going Belly Up?

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Even Rich People are suffering!

By Beth Jinks

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump resigned from the board of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the debt-laden casino company he founded, ahead of a possible involuntary bankruptcy filing next week.

“I’m not managing it, it’s not me that’s responsible for managing,” Trump, who was chairman, said in a telephone interview today. “Unless we’re going to be responsible for management it’s just not something that’s worthwhile.”

Trump’s departure comes ahead of a Feb. 17 deadline to make a $53 million bond payment originally due on Dec. 1. The Atlantic City, New Jersey-based casino operator said at the time it needed to conserve cash and hold debt-restructuring talks with lenders. Since an initial grace period ended on Dec. 31, Trump Entertainment’s deadline has been extended four times.

The 62-year-old real estate entrepreneur has “no idea” whether there will be a bankruptcy filing, he said. Trump is “not thrilled” the company may continue to use his name.

Bondholders are planning to force Trump Entertainment into Chapter 11 bankruptcy early next week, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Trump controls 28 percent of the stock, according to a March 21 regulatory filing. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, also resigned, according to an e-mailed statement.

“I strongly disagree with the bondholders’ decisions and actions,” Trump said in the statement without elaborating.

Tom Hickey, a spokesman for Trump Entertainment, and Chief Financial Officer John Burke didn’t return phone messages left after normal business hours.

‘It’s a Disaster’

In the interview, Trump cited the “disastrous” fates of Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino Hotel and the under-construction but not fully funded Revel Entertainment LLC project.

“It’s a disaster and I see what’s happened with so many others, and I don’t want to be a part of it,” Trump said.

Tropicana Entertainment LLC was pushed into bankruptcy after being stripped of its New Jersey gambling license. State officials said in December 2007 that the Tropicana Casino Hotel’s service and cleanliness had declined and the property wasn’t being run according to state regulations.

Revel Entertainment last month suspended interior work, unable to secure needed financing to finish construction at the 20-acre boardwalk site. Revel had been scheduled to open mid- 2010.

Trump Entertainment’s three casinos have been through bankruptcy twice. Holders of most of company’s $1.25 billion in notes and Beal Bank Nevada, which is owed $490 million, have agreed not to exercise default rights for interest or principal payments until 9 a.m. New York time on Feb. 17.

‘Bad Decisions’

The company’s market value has tumbled to $7.3 million from its peak at $842 million in August 2005.

Trump Entertainment’s 8.5 percent note due June 2015 traded at 14 cents on the dollar today, according to Trace, the bond- pricing system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Bondholder representatives “have made a series of bad decisions and encouraged wasteful spending, which has led to severe problems within the company,” Trump said in the statement. “The company is no longer operated to a standard consistent with other of my holdings.”

Trump offered to buy the rest of the company and was turned down by bondholders, according to the statement. Legal and consulting fees “will suck the blood from the company,” as Atlantic City “tanks and competition from local markets grows,” he said.

Atlantic City

Gambling revenue in the seaside resort city fell a record 7.6 percent in 2008, the second straight annual decline as the recession deterred some gamblers, and slot-machine competition from nearby states wooed others. The decline continued in January, with revenue down 9.4 percent.

MGM Mirage last year shelved its planned Atlantic City development, and real-estate developer Curtis Bashaw and former Caesars Entertainment Inc. chief Wally Barr withdrew their building application for a casino resort last month.

Penn National Gaming Inc. said Feb. 5 it won’t exercise its option to buy a 23-acre site in Atlantic City, citing the revenue declines and more future competition from Las Vegas Sands’ under- construction casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and expectations Philadelphia will open casinos.

Past Bankruptcy

Trump Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy 3 1/2 years ago. Its predecessor, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc., sought court protection in November 2004. It had lost money for nine years because of high interest payments that Trump claimed prevented the company from refurbishing and expanding its casinos.

The three casino resorts also went through bankruptcy in the 1990s.

Trump Entertainment said Oct. 28 that it renegotiated the sale of its Trump Marina to Coastal Marina LLC down to $270 million, from the $316 million agreed upon in May, after the buyer missed a financing deadline.

The company’s biggest bond investors include Franklin Mutual Advisers Inc., Northeast Investors Trust and Massachusetts Financial Services, according to compiled by Bloomberg.

Representatives of bond investors Northeast Investors Trust, Putnam Investments LLC and the John Hancock High Yield Fund couldn’t be reached for comment after business hours.

Bondholders hired Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP law firm to file the involuntary bankruptcy documents, the Wall Street Journal said. Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin are financial advisers, according to the the newspaper.

Trump Entertainment hired law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP as bankruptcy counsel, the Journal said.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Got Money?

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I missed the NPR story about the guy who was giving money away at a booth set up at Times Square. No worry though he has a website. In case you think you might have a story to share with Bill he has extended his generosity. Check out Bailout Bill's website and share your story. Who knows you might get a bail out too!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Still Made In The USA

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There is a lot of talk"noise" on Wall street these days about deglobalization. So much of our everyday items are imported from somewhere else that our economy is dependent on other countiries. The media spin these days is that it is somehow unpatriotic to save money. Somewhere in between these two ideas is compromise. I say buy things that are still made in America. How could that ever be construed as being unpatriotic? For more on this topic please check out the website Still Made In The USA.

The old Fiestaware ad in the photo features a deal that was offered after the Great Depression. Fiestaware was made by The Homer Lauglin China Company that is still operating in Newell West Virginia. Fiestaware itself is the embodiment of the aftermath of The Depression. People needed to be cheered up and so Fiesta was born so the story goes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Poverty Of Imagination

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Every Monday I look forward to James Howard Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation. Here is todays article in its' entirety.

Venturing out each day into this land of strip malls, freeways, office parks, and McHousing pods, one can't help but be impressed at how America looks the same as it did a few years ago, while seemingly overnight we have become another country. All the old mechanisms that enabled our way of life are broken, especially endless revolving credit, at every level, from household to business to the banks to the US Treasury. Peak energy has combined with the diminishing returns of over-investments in complexity to pull the "kill switch" on our vaunted "way of life" -- the set of arrangements that we won't apologize for or negotiate. So, the big question before the nation is: do we try to re-start the whole smoking, creaking hopeless, futureless machine? Or do we start behaving differently? The attempted re-start of revolving debt consumerism is an exercise in futility. We've reached the limit of being able to create additional debt at any level without causing further damage, additional distortions, and new perversities of economy (and of society, too). We can't raise credit card ceilings for people with no ability make monthly payments. We can't promote more mortgages for people with no income. We can't crank up a home-building industry with our massive inventory of unsold, and over-priced houses built in the wrong places. We can't ramp back up the blue light special shopping fiesta. We can't return to the heyday of Happy Motoring, no matter how many bridges we fix or how many additional ring highways we build around our already-overblown and over-sprawled metroplexes. Mostly, we can't return to the now-complete "growth" cycle of "economic expansion." We're done with all that. History is done with our doing that, for now. So far -- after two weeks in office -- the Obama team seems bent on a campaign to sustain the unsustainable at all costs, to attempt to do all the impossible things listed above. Mr. Obama is not the only one, of course, who is invoking the quest for renewed "growth." This is a tragic error in collective thinking. What we really face is a comprehensive contraction in our activities, especially the scale of our activities, and the pressing need to readjust the systems of everyday life to a level of decreased complexity. For instance, the myth that we can become "energy independent and yet remain car-dependent is absurd. In terms of liquid fuels, we're simply trapped. We import two-thirds of the oil we use and there is absolutely no chance that drill-drill-drilling (or any other scheme) will change that. The public and our leaders can not face the reality of this. The great wish for "alternative" liquid fuels (bio fuels, algae excreta) will never be anything more than a wish at the scales required, and the parallel wish to keep all our cars running by other means -- hydrogen fuel cells, electric motors -- is equally idle and foolish. We cannot face the mandate of reality, which is to do everything possible to make our living places walkable, and connect them with public transit. The stimulus bills in congress clearly illustrate our failure to understand the situation. The attempt to restart "consumerism" will be equally disappointing. It was a manifestation of the short peak energy decades of history, and now that we're past peak energy, it's over. That seventy percent of the economy is over, especially the part that allowed people to buy stuff with no money. From now on people will have to buy stuff with money they earn and save, and they will be buying a lot less stuff. For a while, a lot of stuff will circulate through the yard sales and Craigslist, and some resourceful people will get busy fixing broken stuff that still has value. But the other infrastructure of shopping is toast, especially the malls, the strip malls, the real estate investment trusts that own it all, many of the banks that lent money to the REITs, the chain-stores and chain eateries, of course, and, alas, the non-chain mom-and-pop boutiques in these highway-oriented venues. Washington is evidently seized by panic right now. I don't know anyone who works in the White House, but I must suppose that they have learned in two weeks that these systems are absolutely tanking, that the previous way of life that everybody was so set on not apologizing for has reached the end of the line. We seem to be learning a new and interesting lesson: that even a team that promises change is actually petrified of too much change, especially change that they can't really control. The argument about "change" during the election was sufficiently vague that no one was really challenged to articulate a future that wasn't, materially, more-of-the-same. I suppose the Obama team may have thought they would only administer it differently than the Bush team -- but basically life in the USA would continue being about all those trips to the mall, and the cubicle jobs to support that, and the family safaris to visit Grandma in Lansing, and the vacations at Sea World, and Skipper's $20,000 college loan, and Dad's yearly junket to Las Vegas, and refinancing the house, and rolling over this loan and that loan... and that has all led to a very dead end in a dark place. If this nation wants to survive without an intense political convulsion, there's a lot we can do, but none of it is being voiced in any corner of Washington at this time. We have to get off of petro-agriculture and grow our food locally, at a smaller scale, with more people working on it and fewer machines. This is an enormous project, which implies change in everything from property allocation to farming methods to new social relations. But if we don't focus on it right away, a lot of Americans will end up starving, and rather soon. We have to rebuild the railroad system in the US, and electrify it, and make it every bit as good as the system we once had that was the envy of the world. If we don't get started on this right away, we're screwed. We will have tremendous trouble moving people and goods around this continent-sized nation. We have to reactivate our small towns and cities because the metroplexes are going to fail at their current scale of operation. We have to prepare for manufacturing at a much smaller (and local) scale than the scale represented by General Motors. The political theater of the moment in Washington is not focused on any of this, but on the illusion that we can find new ways of keeping the old ways going. Many observers have noted lately how passive the American public is in the face of their dreadful accelerating losses. It's a tragic mistake to tell them that they can have it all back again. We'll see a striking illustration of "phase change" as the public mood goes from cow-like incomprehension to grizzly bear-like rage. Not only will they discover the impossibility of getting back to where they were, but they will see the panicked actions of Washington drive what remains of our capital resources down a rat hole. A consensus is firming up on each side of the "stimulus" question, largely along party lines -- simply those who are for it and those who are against it, mostly by degrees. Nobody in either party -- including supposed independents such as Bernie Sanders or John McCain, not to mention President Obama -- has a position for directing public resources and effort at any of the things I mentioned above: future food security, future travel-and-transport security, or the future security of livable, walkable dwelling places based on local networks of economic interdependency. This striking poverty of imagination may lead to change that will tear the nation to pieces.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


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I am anxious to read Charles Fishman's book The Wal-mart Effect.

Wal-Mart isn’t just a store, or a huge company, or a phenomenon anymore. Wal-Mart shapes where we shop, the products we buy, and the prices we pay — even for those of us who never shop there. It reaches deep inside the operations of the companies that supply it and changes not only what they sell, but also changes how those products are packaged and presented, what the lives of the factory workers who make the products are like — it even sometimes changes the countries where those factories are located. Wal-Mart reaches around the globe, shaping the work and the lives of people who make toys in China, or raise salmon in Chile, or sew shirts in Bangladesh, even though they may never visit a Wal-Mart store in their lives.

Wal-Mart has even changed the way we think about ourselves — as shoppers, as consumers. Wal-Mart has changed our sense of quality, it has changed our sense of what a good deal is. Wal-Mart’s low prices routinely reset our expectations about what all kinds of things should cost — from clothing to furniture to fresh fish. Wal-Mart has changed the lens through which we see the world.

The Wal-Mart effect touches the lives of literally every American every day. Wal-Mart reshapes the economic life of the towns and cities where it opens stores; it also reshapes the economic life of the United States — a single company that steadily, silently, purposefully moves the largest economy in history. Wal-Mart has become the most powerful, most influential company in the world.

Who knew shopping would turn out to be so important?

— from "The Wal-Mart Effect"

I will really be looking for evidence that Wal-mart has influenced the way we perceive art. I imagine it has, and for that I am saddened. I will be glad to de-globalize our economy as I am tired of cheap Chinese Imports. I realize that the politicians, economists, and big shots that have been making money on the 3rd World imports will be screaming and kicking every step of the way. I for one will be glad to see them whitteled down to size.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Giant Shoe Sculpture In Iraq

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I can't wait to read what the accompanying poem says.

Statue of giant shoe honors attack on Bush
Thursday, January 29, 2009 2:33 PM
Tikrit, Iraq" border="0">
The giant shoe in Tikrit, Iraq

BAGHDAD -- When an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at then-President George W. Bush last month at a Baghdad press conference, the attack spawned a flood of Web quips, political satire and street rallies across the Arab world.

Now, it's inspired a work of art.

A sofa-sized shoe statue was formally unveiled to the public today in Tikrit, the hometown of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad-based artist Laith al-Amari described his fiberglass-and-copper work as a homage to the pride of the Iraqi people.

The statue also has inscribed a poem honoring Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist. Al-Zeidi was charged with assaulting a foreign leader, but the trial was postponed after his lawyer sought to reduce the charges.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Plastic Pumpkins And Unsold Crap

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The proliferation of unsold crap, which economists say began as early as November of 2007, continues to affect retailers nationwide as crap that nobody wants piles up on shelves and warehouse floors, untouched by consumers. Crap, which constitutes 90% of what is sold in the United States, has been steadily introduced to department stores, outlets, and retailers for as long as anyone can remember. While crap is usually snatched up by consumers looking to waste money, consumers have recently started hoarding their wealth, dispensing it only on items they actually need. The legacy of America crapophilia is the widespread proliferation of crap producing factories in third world countries, where domestic crap such as plastic dragon candlesticks and imitation Mao hats are produced alongside the American, land-fill quality crap that shamefully litters our homes and offices. While the quality of this crap, as compared to American made crap, can vary within a limited range, social and economic expert agree that it is all, unequivocally, crap. "Everything we know about the economy says that people will buy crap, cheap or expensive, as long as it is advertised well," said Elliot Read, economic analyst. "We're not concerned as to whether or not the consumer can afford this crap, just so long as they buy it." Crap, which is best disposed of immediately after purchase, is advertised to consumers as producing attraction in members of the opposite sex, improving the quality of life, and at the very least, having actual uses. Nonetheless, market research has found that while advertisements for crap has become increasingly sophisticated and expensive, the crap itself has in no way improved. "We've been repackaging the same crap for the last 30 years, telling the viewer that it's going to revolutionize their lifestyle every single time," said Ron Popeil, noted television crapmonger. "All of my crap is designed to stop working after a few months, but I guess that's not good enough anymore." Worse still, the crap epidemic shows no signs of ending. Even as President Obama promises to revitalize the crap-selling economy, many large companies that relied on selling crap have filed for bankruptcy in the last three months alone. Even the $800 billion government bailout has yet to reduce the amount of unsold crap. "I've never seen consumers so afraid to spend money on things they'll only use once and never touch again," said Rob Argyle, who has been in the business of selling anything people will buy for sixteen years. "Now I've got hundreds of mechanized egg crackers I can't get rid of no matter how many times I rearrange the display." "All this crap is making it harder for the consumer to find the few good products I have any confidence in selling," conceded Argyle. "I don't want people to be under the impression that I actually sell this crap; I just want people to spend money on it."

"I guess I could try selling this crap on Ebay by using misleading product descriptions, limited return policy, and overpriced shipping," added Argyle. "Lord knows I would never use any of it." This Holiday season, billions of dollars worth of crap was sold, but not quite so many billions of dollars as in recent years. "Even if we stop making crap now, there will still be plenty of it to get rid of before things are looking even remotely reasonable," said Timothy Geithner, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. "People just don't seem interested in ripping themselves off anymore." By Michael Wakcher