The Libertarian Republic
Important Tips for Starting a Business Blog
The Libertarian Republic
Marketing through blog can be simple, if you have a proper knowledge about marketing. Some people start their blogging writing down their own ideas and thoughts much like a diary. You can select to make a blog confidential or let the world to take a …
We live in an age in which “journalism” means scrolling down your Facebook feed for the latest epic fail videos, spamming mass shooting survivors on Twitter to get quotes, and making flat-out lies go viral. And all that is … quite tame compared to the shit old-timey journalists used to pull, actually. We tend to forget that even before the Web came along, the fourth estate regularly put up with the fucknut shenanigans of people like …
It’s commonplace for online writers to subject themselves to untold agonies for our delight and, most importantly, those sweet, sweet clicks. (Hell, we have a whole team do that regularly.) That said, nothing could ever top what one 1930s journalist, William Seabrook, put himself through for sweet, sweet … uh, page-turns?
Anyway, our point is: He ate someone.
And not in the usual way journalists do to advance their careers.
Whilst travelling in West Africa, Seabrook stumbled upon stories of a tribe well-known for being cannibals. Clearly desperate for some exciting dinner party anecdotes, he ventured out with the aim of documenting their savage practices, as well as trying them out for himself. With his mouth. They immediately told him to piss off, serving him some gorilla meat as a consolation prize, which is the cannibal version of getting Pepsi when you specifically asked for Coca-Cola.
Undeterred, he traveled to France and bribed a hospital porter to provide him with a chunk of human flesh from the mortuary. We’d like to think that someone asked him why he didn’t do this in the first place and thereby bypass the risk of being turned into cannibal poop. They were probably avoiding him, though — he was one of the first people to write about zombies in America, and given his dietary habits, we’re guessing no one wanted to be around when he turned.
He always carried a light snack to the office in case a meeting ran long.
Nevertheless, he was true to his word. Writing about the experience, he described human flesh as “like good, fully developed veal” (if you didn’t read that sentence in Hannibal Lecter’s voice, then what are you even doing here?). He didn’t mention how he’d really gotten his meat, instead telling readers that the tribe had invited him to partake in their ritual. Which makes the coda to this all the stranger: He ate it at a dinner party amongst friends who had to have presumed that this wasn’t his first time. They probably stopped RSVP’ing to his invites after that.
Florabel Muir was a trailblazer. She was the first woman journalist in multiple newspapers, and the first one to be allowed to cover an execution, after getting an Attorney General to rule that she was “a reporter, not female.” She was also, unfortunately, someone who once glimpsed into the future, watched an episode of Scooby-Doo, and thought “that shit is just crazy enough to work”.
In 1922, Hollywood was reeling from the mysterious murder of silent film magnate William Desmond Taylor. With no evidence and no witnesses, it was a complex case that would baffle investigators for decades. Or the butler did it. That was Muir’s version of events, and by god, she was going to prove it, no matter how many guys she had to rope in to help kidnap said butler. Seriously.
This was before that even became a cliche, so she was a real visionary.
Muir and her cohorts at first tried to get the butler to confess by pretending to be cops … who carried out their interrogations in the offices of a newspaper, for some reason. When that didn’t work, they moved on to plan B: exploiting the well-known and completely accurate (according to racist 1920s movies, anyway) fact that black people are extremely terrified of g-g-g-ghosts.
Promising the butler $10 if he could identify Taylor’s grave, Muir lured him to a cemetery. Then, when they reached the grave, the ghostly apparition of Taylor appeared and commanded Peavey to confess. To everyone’s shock, Peavey reacted by laughing his ass off.
“Guys, I think he’s not afraid. Otherwise, his bow tie would be spinning.”
Two little details gave the fake ghost away: 1) He was a guy in a fucking sheet, and 2) The undead Irish filmmaker had apparently ditched his pleasant tones and replaced them with an Al-Capone-ish Chicago accent. It isn’t mentioned what happened after this incident, but it likely involved the gang slowly walking to their car while, somewhere, a sad trombone murmured forlornly in the distance.
In the aftermath of any tragedy, you don’t have to look hard to find an outlet throwing out horrific images with wild abandon, whether you wanted to confront the abyss of human suffering on your lunch break or not. However, this weird compulsion isn’t a modern phenomenon. Case in point: the photographer who wired a hidden camera to his leg in order to record an execution.
Or some old-timey creepshots, at the very least.
In 1927, Ruth Snyder was sentenced to death by electric chair for killing her husband. Shocked at her cruel disregard for the sanctity of human life, the press immediately demanded that photographers be allowed into the execution chamber. You know, to allow society to heal or whatever.
The prison turned down their requests, but The New York Daily News wasn’t going to be stopped by something like rules and regulations and human decency. In order to dodge the prison authorities (who knew what their photographers looked like), they hired out-of-town journalist Tom Howard and set up a hidden camera on his leg. The result is one of the earliest examples of the grand tradition of putting dead people on newspaper covers, which is frankly disgusting. Anyway, here it is!
The photograph was an immediate sensation, owing to the fact that no one that ever managed to snap an execution before. Meanwhile, the prison abandoned all faith in the human race and began checking future execution attendees for hidden leg cameras. Howard received a $100 bonus for his work, a sum that we’re sure went a long way towards alcohol and cures for night terrors.
Although Tom Howard deserved the shade that we threw at him, he was an amateur compared to the real scourge of old-timey media: crime scene photographers. Prowling the streets, they made top dollar snapping the grisliest crime scenes and selling the photos to the highest bidder. However, among their ranks, one man stands above them all. Arthur Fellig, also known as “Weegee”: The man who made that shit look good.
Seriously, if you’re squeamish, do not type Fellig’s name into Google Images. Doing so will unleash a torrent of exquisitely-shot corpses on you.
“My ghost is photographing your reactions right now.”
Whereas other photographers would hear about jobs from secondhand sources, Fellig had a specially-tuned radio installed into his car that allowed him to eavesdrop on police radios — a technique no one else used at the time, because he invented it. As a result, he often beat the police to crime scenes, a habit that earned him a nickname worthy of someone who always knew where the dead guys were: “Weegee” (derived from the word “Ouija,” and not from Mario memes).
However, no matter how quickly the photographs were taken, they weren’t useful until they were printed and in the hands of his paymasters. Hence, the second element of his operation: an entire office built into his trunk, containing a photograph development lab (including a darkroom), typewriter, and clean underwear. Which is weird, because the hallmark of modern freelancers is pantlessness.
Weegee typing as quietly as he can, because his wife and children are sleeping in another section of the trunk.
If this sounds familiar, yes, Weegee is the direct inspiration for Jake Gyllenhaal’s creepy character in Nightcrawler. While the original version didn’t go as far as to move corpses to get a better shot (probably), he wasn’t above staging photos. One time, he got a vagrant drunk and placed her at the entrance of an opera house to get a “spontaneous” photo next to some rich socialites. Needless to say, he was pretty good at his job, but it’s not like he had an ego or anything. Oh, he insisted that people call him “Weegee the Famous”? Never mind.
WT Stead is considered the granddaddy of investigative journalism, having singlehandedly gotten the age of consent raised from 13 to 16 in Victorian England through his chilling expose on child prostitution, The Maiden Tribute Of Modern Babylon. In case you were wondering, that name is a reference to the virgin tributes sent to the Minotaur in Greek myth (don’t worry; he only ate them). What Stead didn’t mention is that one of the “Minotaurs” he was exposing was in fact himself.
“Hey, the story I wrote was half bull.”
Stead wanted to prove how easy it was to buy a child prostitute in London by actually doing that, but he ran into a little problem: It wasn’t that easy. Perhaps distrusting his formidable beard, several brothels refused his offers. Stead ended up buying a 13-year-old girl under false pretenses (her mother thought she would be working as a maid), but he still wanted the experience to be as authentic as possible, dammit — he had her examined to make sure she was a virgin, chloroformed her, and took her to a brothel, just to prove he could. Once the girl was sufficiently freaked out, Stead figured “Eh, that’s close enough” and shipped her off to France.
In his articles, Stead wrote about how some monster who totally wasn’t him bought a girl, took her to a brothel, and had his way with her.
“I cannot divulge his identity, but I will reveal that he possesses luscious, luscious facial hair.”
The series was incredibly popular, and Stead was showered with praise … until the girl’s mother saw the newspaper and realized what happened. In the end, Stead achieved his goal and changed the law, but he was thrown into prison for three months for abducting a child because what the fuck, man.
The year was 1945, and the tyranny of the Nazis had literally ended with a bang. At the same time, Lee Miller of Vogue and David Scherman of Life Magazine were exploring Munich in the hope of achieving the impossible: finding a story amidst the bombed-out ruins, refugees, and general post-war misery. After ignoring all that worthless article fodder, the two eventually got an apartment-sharing story weirder than anything that Airbnb could ever result in.
After finding a miraculously unbombed apartment building, Miller and Scherman started noticing something weird about it. There were swastikas and photos of the Nazi high rank everywhere. That wasn’t that weird for the time, but several items (such as the china) also had the initials “A.H.” on them. Hmmm.
And an autograph that said “From me, Adolph Hitler, to me, Adolph Hitler. The famous Nazi.”
It turned out they had found themselves standing in Hitler’s apartment. Yes, that Hitler. Naturally, they decided that the sensible thing to do would be to jump into Hitler’s bath tub and put it to good use by scrubbing themselves clean from their previous excursion to Dachau. Oh, and by taking pictures there.
Joke’s on her. Hitler was a chronic shower masturbator.
After spending several nights sleeping in Hitler’s bed, Miller and Scherman then travelled to a nearby villa owned by Eva Braun, where they pulled the same shit. They slept, poked through her possessions, and even tried a telephone especially reserved for calls to Hitler’s office in Berlin. It’s like they were begging for Zombitler to answer and demand that they leave — a premise that we’ll exploring in our sitcom Not In Mein House.
As it’s regarded as poor form to sneak ’round someone’s house, regardless of how evil they were, the two were rightfully chastised in the press. If that wasn’t enough, it also transpired that Scherman went a’pillaging and stole a bunch of shit. This included a special edition of the collected works of Shakespeare, which he sold for $10,000. We wouldn’t have liked to witness the moment when its new owners learnt the truth, but it probably helped in explaining why someone had replaced Shylock with a new character called Eagle von Aryan.
For more from Adam, check out The 6 Stupidest Acts of Journalistic Fraud Ever Attempted and 6 Ways To Make Money Off The Internet (If You’re An Asshole). You can also contact him at email@example.com, if that’s your thing.Continue reading
This millennial makes money teaching other millennials how not to be broke
âI finally said, 'I honestly don't understand, explain it to me â you could nanny or do something else to make money â why don't you try to make it for at least a year?'â Lowry recounted in a recent interview. âShe goes … of course that's not the …
Business 2 Community (blog)
How to Build an Audience for Your Company's Blog
Business 2 Community (blog)
Most marketers know how important blogging is, but if you have ever managed a blog for your company, you know how difficult it is to build a dedicated audience. Unlike social media, which allows you to cultivate new followers directly within an …
When thetravel bug bites, you know it.
Maybe it’ll happen on a random rainy Tuesday in November when you trudge into work soaking wet because you forgot your umbrella. Your immaculately dry coworkers glare as you pass their offices, the “squish” of your galoshes betraying your late arrival. You make a beeline to the kitchen only to discover the new coffee machine is broken. As you dejectedly head to your bland cubicleto face another pile of spreadsheets, soggy and un-caffeinated, you wonder what is wrong with you. Is it seasonal affective disorder? Existential ennui? Both? Suddenly, a revelation occurs to you.I need a vacation.
Yes, you do.
An impulsive jauntto somewhere sunny might cure you of that restless funk that is known to creep in on every white-collar worker. But how you get the hell out of Dodge without spending a fortune on alast-minute trip?
Luckily, there’s a whole horde of money-saving travel apps that will help you book cheaper flights, lodging, food, and the whole-shebang. We’ve gone through and picked the apps we think are essential for cutting costs on any excursion, whether you’re going to Columbus, Ohio, to visit your parents for Thanksgiving or to Kenya forColobus Day.
Is it cheaper to fly to Barcelona in May or in June? How much money can you save if you leave Nashville on a Monday, instead of Sunday? Planning cheap travel is often a question of timing, and no app makes this apparent better thanSkyscanner. See how traveling on a different time of day, day, month, or even for a number of days can mean the difference in hundreds of dollars lost or saved.
Just type in your “Departing from” and “Flying to” cities and Skyscanner will show you how airfare fluctuates on different days of the month.
Have a specific destination in mind but not picky about the time of year? Skyscanner will also display the average airfare by month. This information can occasionally nudge you towards taking a cheaper, last-minute trip rather than booking in the advance. One-way airfare to Atlanta from Washington, D.C., for example, costs $77 on average for the month of December. If you waited until March, ticket prices would crop up to $127. Waiting to go to Atlanta for spring break rather than the winter holidays would almost double your airfare, to $155.
Skyscanner is also useful if you’re not sure where you want to go, you just know you need to get away sometime in the near future.The app allows you to set “Everywhere” as a destination and “Anytime-Anytime” as a time range, making Skyscanner perfect for both impulsive jet-setters and wishy-washy travelers.
On a road trip and not feeling up to driving another 400 miles overnight? Or want to plan a weekend jaunt to Chicago, and it’s already Thursday night? With Hotel Tonight, you can get last-minute discounts on rooms that are available that very night or up to a week in advance. Hotels with empty rooms available that night list the rooms on the app. While it’s nowhere near as cheap as Airbnbor a hostel, the app is a good resource to help you find cheap lodging at the absolute last minute.
Car rental companies no longer have a monopoly on travelers needing their own set of keys. RelayRide allows you to rent cars from actual people, which is often cheaper than companies like Hertz and Alamo. Your rental gets delivered to the airport or whatever location you prefer.
The best part of making car rental a part of the sharing economy is the abundance of options, ranging from low-end to upscale. Shell out $189 to cruise down Rodeo Drive in a Maserati Ghibli, or rent a Jeep Wrangler for $69 for your camping adventure in Yellowstone.
Have 24 hours in Berlin, a budget of $40 dollars U.S., and no idea what to do? Triposo is perfect for the cash-strapped, itinerary-challenged traveler. The app includes individual city guides and maps to act as a guide to even the most the most clueless traveler. You’ll save money that you would otherwise spend on an expensive tour bus.
Triposo lets you choose between a variety of GPS-enabled “City Walks” that guide you through your city’s landmarks and major attractions. Even if you’re the navigationally challenged type, this app will have you acclimated to your new locale in no time.
Triposo is also helpful for planning a night out in your new city. The app allows you to find nearby bars, restaurants, and attractions. Descriptions of each place include reviews and prices, making it easier to narrow down a quick pick for dinner with buddies or a special evening away with your significant other.
When you’re on a road trip, the cost of gas can add up. With GasBuddy, you can find the cheapest places to pump during any point on your road trip. The app allows you to look at a gas price heat map so you can compare prices at different parts of the country.
GasBuddy even has a trip calculator, so you can calculate the exact cost of your next trip. The app relies on user-submitted data, and as an incentive includes opportunities to win free gas every time you report. GasBuddy includes coupons for snacks, so you save money on road trip eats as well.
Photo viaGot Credit/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Tata Steel workers are in “complete shock” about the company’s plan to sell the UK steel business.
Much of Tata’s 15,000-strong workforce across the country faces an uncertain future as a result of the decision.
The company said it could not give an “open-ended” commitment to keep the UK plants open while a buyer was sought.
Worker Scott Garden said: “The fact all that could be taken away from us is a massive shock to everyone that supplies steel.”
Mr Garden is employed at the Corby plant, where work has included making steel tubes for the Wembley Arch, London Eye and the Olympic Stadium.
He said: “We’re all in complete shock, we’ve all got families. We want to come here to work, we want to produce steel, we want to make money.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said the government was “doing everything it can” to save thousands of steel jobs – but warned there were “no guarantees of success”.
Koushik Chatterjee, a group executive director of Tata Steel, told the BBC the company wanted to move quickly to secure a sale.
Conservative Corby MP Tom Pursglove said the steel industry was “fundamental to ensuring our national security”.
“You never know what the future holds and it is unacceptable to rely upon the prospect of importing steel during any period of national crisis or emergency,” he said.
“I believe that all options must be on the table and nothing should be ruled out – for example, if a short period of public ownership of these Tata plants is required, in order to facilitate a buyer stepping in, then this should be strongly considered.
“We simply cannot afford to lose our steel industry.”
Rotherham council leader Chris Read said help was now needed either from a private firm or the government.
“Our best hope is that another private company comes in and buys the plants in Rotherham. If that doesn’t happen and the government does refuse to step in, I think the future does look potentially bleak.”
He said about 400 companies in the wider Sheffield city region were in the Tata supply chain.
“You are looking at thousands of jobs potentially being affected. It has a huge impact on the staff who work at Tata and their families but it is also one of those key iconic Rotherham industries,” he said.
Rotherham convenience store owner Vinny Singh said his business would lose about 2,000 a week if the plant next door shuts.
“We open especially for them at five in the morning because of the night shift and the day shift turnover. We wouldn’t open at that time otherwise. They’re in and out of the shop for fags and newspapers constantly. It will have an impact on us that’s for sure.”
John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, whose constituency covers the Rotherham plant, said: “This is a plant, together with Stocksbridge, that makes some of the best engineering steel anywhere in the world.
“For the last few years it has broken even or made a profit so it is a real goer.
“What we need is a long-term commitment from a long-term investor and if Tata won’t do that here in South Yorkshire we have to find another buyer.”
Angela Smith, Labour MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: “Without a steel industry there I think the town would quite rapidly decline and potentially die. I can’t imagine the future for Stocksbridge without that steel plant.”
The plants in Wednesbury and Wednesfield in the West Midlands say there is no risk to jobs.
P&O Ferrymasters, which offers freight management solutions to Tata Steel, said: “From employees’ perspective, it’s very much business as usual. What’s new is that we are looking for a new investor in the UK business.”
The chairman of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster Ivan Baldwin told BBC Cumbria jobs there may have some protection, because the Workington site is a design and manufacturing base, rather than a steel production site.Continue reading
Was anything more inevitable than a Hamilton Ponzi scheme?
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged two men in New York with fraud on Friday for running an $81 million Ponzi scheme that promised to make money reselling tickets to the sold-out Broadway musical.
The Ponzi masterminds, Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton, allegedly promised 125 investors that they would make at least a 10 percent profit from a scheme to buy and resell tickets to Hamilton and other in-demand shows, including an Adele concert.
Instead, Meli and Harriton spent up to $2 million on jewelry, private school and camp tuition and gambling. Plus, they had to use at least $48 million to keep the Ponzi scheme going and pay off earlier investors.
The Ponzi schemers even said they had an agreement with a Hamilton producer to buy 35,000 tickets to the show. Investors were told they would get their money back within eight months.
The SEC filed a complaint on Friday, alleging the scheme went back at least to 2015.
As alleged in our complaint, Meli and Harriton raised millions from investors by promising big profits from reselling tickets to A-list events when in reality they were moving investor money in a circle and creating a mirage of profitability, Paul G. Levenson, director of the SECs Boston office, said in a statement.
Investors were also promised they’d get 50 percent of any profits that were left over after everyone involved was repaid.
The evidence suggests they engaged in speculation…Continue reading
Side Hustle: The Bookkeeper Turned Travel Photographer Making Nearly Six Figures
It might sound like a low bar, but Woodrow says, âI could make a lot more money promoting everything that comes my way." â A free trip is not a free trip. It is time away from work I could be doing on the blog. If I can't turn a sponsored trip into …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
NFL Draft 2017 Profile: Defensive End Carl Lawson
Blogging The Boys (blog)
I started this odd fascination of mine in 2011 when I sent my breakdown and links to videos of Tyron Smith at USC to the excellent Cowboys blogger Bob Sturm (April 28, 2011 – Even More Tyron Smith Tape). Since then I've continued watching prospects …
Our high-tech world might not look like The Jetsons, but we’re pretty damn close. We carry mobile erotica encyclopedias in our pockets and spend our leisure time getting casually murdered and sworn at by teenagers from Vladivostok to Montevideo. Yes, we live in a time of miracles, but some of those miracles are shittier than others. We’re talking about such modern conveniences as …
If modern technology is a runaway locomotive hurtling toward the future, then Airbnb is the Snowpiercer car that all the hobos are sleeping in. With an estimated 60 million people using the site, it’s currently one of the most popular ways to borrow someone’s home … unless you have a name that suggests you possess a bit more melanin, that is.
In a study conducted by Harvard Business School, several thousand hosts in cities such as Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., were sent messages inquiring about reservations. These messages were sent from 20 fake profiles, half of which had “typical” white names such as Meredith and Todd, and half of which had “typical” black names such as Rasheed and Jamal.
No profile used “Chad,” since that asshole would get deleted on the spot.
The results? The profiles with white-sounding names received positive responses to their inquiries 50 percent of the time, compared to only 42 percent of the time for profiles with black-sounding names — a finding that held true even when variables such as age, sex, and property type were taken into consideration. In fact, some hosts were so determined not to host black people that when the researchers later followed up to see whether they were ever able to fill the room, over a third hadn’t (losing them an average of $65 to $100 per night). Owners would rather lose money than rent their homes to fake black people.
Meanwhile, the only reliable indicator of whether someone was likely to respond positively to a black respondent was whether or not they’d previously hosted other black people. This finding was later dubbed the world’s first scientific proof that, yes, having black friends does mean you’re less of a racist.
Although you could argue that racists gonna race regardless, it’s Airbnb’s system that makes this sort of discrimination possible. Other services, such as Expedia and Priceline, mask the identities of applicants, leaving hosts with the ability to choose guests based only on criteria such as reviews and profile ratings. Someone even made a browser plug-in that allows Airbnb hosts the ability to anonymize profiles and remove any unconscious bias, although it’s hard to imagine this taking off among the “racist property tycoon” demographic.
Amazon is great, isn’t it? It’s like the world’s biggest supermarket of random bullshit. You want a wall decal of a middle-aged Asian man? They’ve got ’em. A Nicolas Cage pillowcase? Done. Of course, chances are you aren’t turning to Amazon for an erotic novel about Leonardo DiCaprio being pegged by an Oscar statue. What you really want from Amazon is cheap stuff that you use every day.
“Don’t tell me what I will and won’t use every day, Cracked.”
According to one analysis, Amazon routinely lowers prices on “big ticket” items, such as televisions and consoles and routers to insane levels that competitors can’t. Not a huge surprise so far, but bear with us. When it came to smaller items, such as HD cables, these were marked up by up to 30 percent over the price of other comparable retailers. Meanwhile, in another test, it was found that while a popular brand of router was marked down considerably compared to other outlets, a less-popular brand was marked up by 29 percent.
So let’s say Black Friday is coming and you want to buy a TV for your better half (the half of you that watches Downton Abbey.) Amazon will analyze which TV is getting the most views and then significantly lower its price so that it’s way cheaper than the same brand over at Walmart. At this point you might be thinking, “GOTCHA, AMAZON!” Not so fast, partner. Because if you aren’t going to do a price check on the other stuff you need to make your TV work, you’re going to miss that Amazon made up for their losses on the cables.
Gotta pay those neo-Nazi security guards somehow, after all.
Picture the scene: You’re flying away on your annual vacation when you notice something odd about this whole traveling experience. It fucking sucks. And we mean everything from check-in to security to stowing your overhead baggage. You’d describe it as a Sisyphean nightmare, but Sisyphus didn’t have to cram one of those big bars of Toblerone into a seat pocket. Meanwhile, there’s a family over there who didn’t go through any of this. They’re enjoying themselves, the bastards. What gives?
That’s easy: Modern-day airlines are deliberately making the flying experience as shitty as possible in the hopes that you’ll upgrade to things like priority boarding and fast-track security gates. It’s not quite first class, mind you — just something like “Economy Plus” or “Your Choice,” as American Airlines hilariously describes it. It’s an incredibly clever business model and, as much as this might make you mad, it works. By 2013, for instance, the major airlines made a colossal $31.5 billion from “add-on” services that were once freebies. Just don’t be surprised if, in the midst of engine failure, you discover that your drop-down oxygen mask is powered by a credit card.
“Should your card be declined, please call the toll-free number on the back and gasp for Customer Service.”
It isn’t just a case of airlines slicing their previously standard service up and selling it back to us piecemeal. When it comes to things like legroom, for instance, they’ve made it deliberately smaller. At least, that’s the verdict of one study, which found that the roomiest seats on today’s airliners are smaller than the largest gratis economy seating that you could get in the ’90s.
But, what happens if you all rise up and say, “No more!” and suffer through your journey on principle? Bad news, because those flights are designed to be unbearable messes unless someone takes the premium options. If no one takes priority boarding, there’ll be even more people cramming themselves on board inefficiently. If no one pays for the extra baggage allowance, that’s more to be crammed into the overheads and less room for everyone. If no one takes any options, that’s a major loss for the airlines, who’ll be forced to raise fare prices to make up for the shortfall.
“Hanging off the edge of the wing, that’ll be $450. For an extra $200,
we’ll provide a bungee cord.”
As anyone who owns the latest computer knows, most come prepackaged with more junk than a Dirk Diggler-Dr. Manhattan slash-fic. These programs — which commonly range from adware and browser toolbars to obscure file readers and mini-games — are termed “bloatware,” and the manufacturers know full well that you’re not going to use half of that crap in the first place. There’s surprisingly little crossover between the people who spend thousands on top-of-the-line machines and people who go apeshit for full-screen Candy Crush Saga, you know?
The striped candies take up a terabyte of memory each.
As with most things, the root cause of the problem is money — namely, the companies making your hardware don’t have any. The resulting business model is pretty simple: They sell off hard drive space to software developers who’d kill for the opportunity to get eyeballs on their latest product, while software developers hope that SuperCyberAdFucker+ Premium Gold Trial Edition is so endearing to you that you’d want to drop $189 on the full version. It’s like internet advertising, except you can’t install AdBlock.
As much as you may love your new copy of CyberLink PowerDVD, all of those programs that accompanied it are probably reducing your computer’s speed to an asthmatic crawl. If you don’t clear them out or wipe your computer (that’s only a nuclear option, by the way), they’ll just keep running in the background and take up valuable memory that could be used for other, much more rewarding activities.
If you watch porn on this thing, both the computer and the actors get fucked.
That is, if they don’t destroy your privacy first. In February 2015, it transpired that Lenovo — one of the world’s biggest computer manufacturers — had pre-installed a program called Superfish onto its machines. As much as we’d like, we can’t compare it to Swordfish, because the only thing that got blown here was the security of those machines — the program effectively exposed users’ web traffic to anyone with rudimentary technical savvy and/or a loose set of morals, even if it had been uninstalled from the computer. Suffice it to say, the shit hit the case fan and Lenovo ended up promising only to do it one more time.
Don’t forget: Those affected users paid for that privilege.
And then, once the program latched onto their bank account, they paid for it again.
So what if, quite unreasonably, you wanted a computer that didn’t allow teen hackers to redecorate their basements using your bank details? Well, for $30 extra, Microsoft has got you covered.
The home computing equivalent of a guy stabbing you and then charging you $100 to maybe not stab you anymore.
And, hey, speaking of creating a problem and selling the solution …
For those who think Ticketmaster is a scheming nest of bastards, there’s always StubHub for all your ticketing needs. Unlike Ticketmaster, it’s the fans making the sales, and by “fans,” we mean “ticket hawkers using the site to resell at super-inflated prices.” And if you need something to get angry about, try the fact that StubHub can (and will) fuck you over if you find a bargain.
Last November, Jesse Sandler used StubHub to find and buy four tickets to the last home game of the L.A. Lakers’ 2015-16 season. Since this game was heavily rumored to be Kobe Bryant’s last before retirement, Sandler figured that the price tag of $906 was worth it. And do you know what? It was. After Kobe’s retirement announcement, sports fans went crazy for tickets and sent the price shooting into the stratosphere. But that was OK. After all, our hero of this story had his tickets … right?
Wrong. A month later, Sandler received an email from StubHub informing him that his order had been canceled because, get this, the person who sold the tickets to him had canceled the deal because the tickets were too cheap. Under StubHub’s rules, the seller would have to pay 20 percent of the $906 sale price to StubHub as a penalty for backing out, but they were allowed to relist the tickets at $1,490 each. So StubHub benefits from getting the penalty fee and having the tickets relisted at a higher price.
“You can use your refund to buy a bigger TV to watch it at home.”
Although Sandler ended up with tickets to the game (kindly gifted to him by another ticketing company), this is a recurring problem with StubHub. In the event of an event going viral and prices rocketing up, their system incentivizes sellers to cancel previous deals and relist at an inflated price. They have to pay a fine, sure, but as long as StubHub is making money from this loophole, it means that the only way buyers can have any faith that they’ll receive their tickets is by having access to a freakin’ time machine.
Or root for teams who will never succeed enough to fleece their fans, like the 76ers.
Case in point: the Kafkaesque mind-fuck that they made one couple endure after they had the sheer audacity to buy Atlanta Hawks tickets without taking out a bank loan first. After having their purchase canceled by StubHub, they were informed that the seller didn’t have the $21.75 tickets after all — the fact that they’d recently been relisted at $340 was totes complete and utter coincidence, you guys. Except … the couple had already received the tickets. They were pinned to the fucking refrigerator. StubHub coughed up replacement tickets and later swore revenge against the laws of time and space.
To the vast majority of the internet, Google is just like an old family dog: Dependable, loyal, and ever-eager to please, it’s hard to imagine him ever turning around and ripping your throat out. That is, unless you own a business. This scenario isn’t exactly a stretch of the imagination, especially considering that anyone can manipulate your business listing to do anything from redirecting your telephone calls to telling potential customers that you’ve gone out of business.
Here’s an example. If you look up, say, porno theaters in your city, you’ll be greeted with a map showing their locations, as well as their contact details and operating hours. However, if you do the same for, say, a locksmith or carpet cleaner, there’s a good chance that you’ll be provided with dozens of fake listings, all of which lead to a centralized call center. From there, you’ll be passed along to an operator who’ll dispatch a (most likely unqualified) representative to fix your problem and charge you a shitload more than you were originally quoted on the phone. It’s the same for flowers: Mom ‘n’ pop ain’t making shit from this scam, just some faceless conglomerate.
Spend all your money at porno theaters, is what we’re saying.
What about if you own a restaurant? That’s not something that could be faked, right? No, but it’s something that your rivals could fuck with. Case in point: The Serbia Crown, a Washington, D.C., eatery that was forced to close after 40-odd years after someone manipulated its business listing to say that it was closed on weekends. In restaurant terms, this is like advertising that your food doesn’t still contain traces of Ebola. Likewise, a small-time jewelry store suffered major losses after a mysterious party updated its listing to say the store was permanently closed.
“Come to the Serbia Crown: open 15 minutes a day, and they’ll season your food
with arsenic free of charge.”
What about contacting the authorities? Well … just be careful what number you dial, yeah? As a way of proving how insanely screwed the system is, one stand-up comedian was able to create fake listings for a real office of the Secret Service and, through various technical means, listen in and record conversations between agents and the public.
As for Google, they aren’t interested in doing shit to fix this problem. According to someone who spends most of his day fixing dodgy listings, they’re either too incompetent to fix the problem or, simply, they don’t care. After all, they make money from searches performed on keywords such as “locksmith,” so, like with StubHub, it’s incentivized apathy. Besides which, how do you protest this? Not use Google? That’s like protesting fog by refusing to draw breath. It’s impossible.
Bing is your only other option, which means there are no other options.
Thanks to something called surge pricing, the internet has a new sport: laughing at people who take extortionately priced Uber rides and have the temerity to whine about it afterward, as if the invisible hand of the market cajoled them into pressing “confirm” on that $750 ride to the grocery store. That said, surge pricing does have a legit reason to exist beyond our perverse entertainment: It’s a way of getting more drivers onto the road and collecting passengers during peak periods of demand (or hostage crises, apparently).
Unfortunately, that’s bullshit, because, as we’re about to demonstrate, this system is totally fucking broken.
Firstly, there’s no guidance on how the surge rate is even calculated and, even worse, no upper limit on surge pricing. That’s bad news, because it’s possible to take two identical rides on consecutive days and pay two (sometimes wildly) different surge prices. What’s the difference between 2x and 4x in terms of traffic conditions, weather, and other factors? Uber doesn’t like to say. It also doesn’t like to talk about the maximum that your ride could be force-multiplied. As far as we know, the upper limit is 50x, but that’s only based on a) the testimony of a random engineer, and b) because some riders accidentally got that price one time. The drivers affected presumably spent weeks cleaning those brown stains out of their backseats.
Luckily, when you make $57 a minute, you can afford the good stain removers.
It used to be that Uber would manually manipulate the surge pricing rate lower when it hit a figure such as 6x. Nowadays, it’s common for the surge pricing to hit upwards of 9.9x with no interference from the company. Why? We don’t know. And that’s a huge fucking problem for the service that’s trying to replace cabs, because say what you will, but at least there are regulations limiting the amount that cab drivers can charge, as well as actual guidance on how those rates are calculated.
A taxi fare rapidly rising right before your eyes might be Hell on your wallet, but at least it’s honest.
This wouldn’t be so bad if surge pricing actually worked at getting more drivers out onto the road, either. It flat-out doesn’t. The key problem is with the way that surge pricing fluctuates: It’s been found that, during periods of surge pricing, drivers tend to stick to locations where they’re certain of a fare (e.g. stations, city centers, etc.). It’s not because they’re greedy — it’s because by the time they’ve traveled out to a distant customer (e.g. in the suburbs), the surge pricing period could have ended, thus making all that effort worthless. Regardless of where the customer is, they’re being screwed. If they’re in the ‘burbs, surge pricing ain’t bringing any drivers to them (whereas regular pricing might have). If they’re in the city, they’re paying a surge price when they wouldn’t have had any difficulty finding a ride in the first place.
Uber’s CEO, showing somehow even less sympathy than you’d expect him to.
Still, it could be worse. You could be paying a hideous, ridiculous surge price on a journey you didn’t even take, thanks to the newly created underground market for stolen accounts.
Guys, is it just us, or is the sharing economy complete bullshit?
For more ways you’re being royally bent over, check out 4 Ways You Didn’t Realize Online Stores Are Screwing You and 5 Ways Hi-Tech Retailers Are Secretly Screwing You.Continue reading