The Hypocrisy is Killing Me, A Photo Story

I can’t even remember what pushed me over the edge to write this blog post.  I think it was a book I read – extra bus time means extra reading time – but I’m not sure.  Anyhow, I just got to thinking about some of the bizarre double-standards and hypocrisy prevalent in modern society.

So if they say a picture’s worth a thousand words, this’ll be my wordiest post ever.  Note:  while the general flow of this is a point-counterpoint series of pix, there are a few that just stand alone.  I am okay with this.

Illegal (it’s an “eyesore”):


Magazine deemed inappropriate for children:

Magazines commonly sold at “eye-catching height” in grocery store checkout aisles:

Government-approved as “safe” food supplies:

Products sold at the same place we go to buy medicine and other products for our “health”:

Food sold in hospital waiting rooms:

Things that are not allowed on television:

Things that are acceptable to put on television, at virtually any hour:

Supposedly provokes youth violence:

Content/substance whose value and impact is never questioned:

Genocides we recognize:

Genocides we ignore:

People we pay over $10,000,000 for a few months worth of work:

People we pay, on average, about $40,000 per year:

Things covered by most health insurance companies:

Things that make someone “uninsurable” by most health insurance companies:

People whose rights are well-protected by the Constitution:

People whose rights are not protected by the Constitution:

Intolerable, non-democratic regimes:

Tolerable, non-democratic regimes:

Substance which causes mood changes, yet has no known negative side affects, but is deemed illegal to consume in any quantity:

Substances which cause mood changes, are known to cause violence/death (respectively), but are deemed legal to consume in any quantity:


Fox News media bias overwhelms me today.

The article: New York City Flyover Photo Flop Triggers Recriminations

Did the administration make a mistake?  Probably, there’s clearly something off about what happened.  But now for the clear, rampant, annoying, pathetic bias:

“A photo-op over the Manhattan skyline that sent thousands of New Yorkers running for their lives has officials in Washington, D.C., running for cover.”  – thousands?  i was in New York when this happened, there weren’t thousands.

“Many New Yorkers on Tuesday were…” – what does many mean?  well, nothing, but in a city of 10 million people, it would certainly imply millions…

“Witnesses reported that the planes were flying dangerously low” – unless these witnesses were air traffic controllers themselves, I’m not interested in their opinion of what is safe when it comes to air travel.

“The White House said Bloomberg’s office was informed but “apparently” word of the planned fly-over did not make it up the chain of command.” – throughout the article there are references to other quotes from the White House which admonish the situation.  Only this one uses the visibly sarcastic “apparently”.

“Caldera “should resign, to be quite frank,” GOP consultant and former Bush administration official Bradley Blakeman told FOX News. ” – so the only person they quote is a rep from the former staff?  that’s the best they could find?

Final quote, and it’s a doozy: “This is more than a lapse of judgment. This is complete stupidity in a time of economic crisis, wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars for publicity photos for Air Force One when you could have put that on your PC at home and done the same thing without that cost and disruption,” Blakeman said.

So let me see if I get this right.  We have some massively overstated numbers, and while I completely agree that there were some very frightened people out there, the city most certainly didn’t go into a panic.  Further, the “journalists” (Major Garret and Mike Emanuel)  felt very comfortable quoting “White House officials” when they said negative things about the act, but the moment they defended their own actions, it became sarcasm. Lastly, the only person they’ve chosen to quote is someone with an extreme bias and agenda.

And this is mainstream news, people.   Pathetic.

No more Rosie chickens from Petaluma Farms for me

I’m reading the excellent book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” right now.  For the past couple of years my wife and I have worked hard to buy more and more sustainable products in our lives.  When I came to a passage describing how companies like Petaluma Farms abuse the use of the term “free range” as a term to advertise their chickens, I was stunned.

See, there’s no true definition to “free range”.  It’s a nebulous term.  But since I bought from Whole Foods, and they proudly present the Rosie as their prime product, I (very mistakenly) assumed it was done… right.  I picture free range living as an environment free of wire cages, where the majority of the bird’s life is spent roaming, eating grass, grains, and other feed, etc.

According to Petaluma Farms’ website:

 USDA standards allow any poultry with access to the outside – even a small, outdoor, concrete pad – to be labeled free range.  Petaluma Poultry believes that free range chickens are raised in spacious poultry houses. Petaluma’s birds get approximately one square foot per bird, about 25% more space per bird than those raised in conventional poultry operations.

Now the average bird in a “conventional poultry operation” lives in a cage smaller than the size of a piece of 8.5×11 paper.  Can’t expand it’s wings fully.  Often can’t turn around.  So in context, the additional 25% *might* actually let them turn around.  Oh happy day.

Beginning at approximately four weeks of age, when the birds are fully feathered and able to withstand both exposure to the sun and cooler outside temperatures, the birds are allowed to roam outside of the house beginning about mid-morning, and are then ushered back inside the house around 5 pm.

This is better “spin” than when the Republican party introduced the “Clean Air Act”, a bill specifically designed to increase pollution levels.  Incidentally, farmed chickens are typically slaughtered in their 6th or 7th week, so Petaluma is basically giving them about 14 or so half-days of sunshine and walking around as a perk.  Notice that there’s no description nor pictures of the amount of space or grassy surface for walking around.  It could be as small as a parking spot, and we have no idea if it’s dirt, concrete, grass, or swampland (the latter is unlikely).  No pictures are on the site, and the lack of description is extremely telling.

I am contacting both Petaluma Farms and Whole Foods to inform them that I will no longer purchase this “product” (a term they both use to describe food I’m supposed to eat), and I hope some of you do the same.

My letter to Petaluma Farms:

Don’t you consider your marketing your factory farmed chickens as “free range” as not only manipulative, but damaging to the entire industry?

When I discovered your chickens spend most of their lives in a miserable cage, with a couple of weeks in the sun before slaughter, I was truly ashamed at all the money I’ve spent proudly buying your products.

Not another dime.

Incidentally, can you please add to your website some photos of your henhouse, including what it looks like fully occupied, and the outside “Free Range” area for the chickens to roam freely?

My letter to Whole Foods:

It has come to my attention that the “Rosie” brand chicken carried (at least) in Bay Area Whole Foods stores are far from the “free range” label implied in your stores.  Perhaps you are not aware of this, but the vendor, Petaluma Farms, actually follows typical factory farming approaches to raising chickens, with a bare minimum effort to achieve some type of “Free Range” designation.

This is bait-and-switch at best, and outright deception at worst.  On your “values” page, you claim “We have high standards and our goal is to sell the highest quality products we possibly can.”  I hope this is the case, and I hope you are willing to investigate the practices of Petaluma Farms.

You clearly have the buying power to mandate change, or to change vendors.  Also, my assumption is your customer base would rather shell out a few extra pennies knowing the food they are buying really is not only “natural” but raised in a more humane fashion.  Not to mention the fact that properly raised chicken actually taste better!

I’ll follow-up if anything comes of it – I have high hopes, but extremely low expectations.

Can the Media Cause a Recession?

1992’s Sneakers is a very underrated movie.  It’s got intrigue, laughs, clever quips, cool hacks, utterly improbable uses of technology, and some great quotes… what’s not to love?  Here’s one of my favorite quotes (I couldn’t find the actual clip, but this one’s pretty good too):

Cosmo: Posit: People think a bank might be financially shaky.
Martin Bishop: Consequence: People start to withdraw their money.
Cosmo: Result: Pretty soon it is financially shaky.
Martin Bishop: Conclusion: You can make banks fail.

I believe this concept, in its entirety. Most financial analysts and economists agree that the market is in many ways based on confidence (here’s a decent article on it).  When confidence in a company dips, so does its stock price.  When confidence in the market itself dips, so do prices dip across the board.

For almost a year now journalists in virtually every publication have surmised about an imminent recession ready to hit the US economy.  Some take it to the point where they assert it as a fact, not just a possibility.  Now I’m all for speculation, and there’s a pretty good justification to help people out with the financial equivalents of “winter storm warnings”, but I believe the media has taken it too far.  Here’s an excerpt from an article I read this morning:

the government reported Thursday the economy did shrink in the summer, sending the strongest signal yet that a recession may have already begun.

Now believe it or not, that was actually fairly accurate reporting.  With a 0.3% drop in GDP, we actually just saw the first possible sign of a recession. Yes, the “credit crunch crisis” is real, and yes there are many unsound financial practices going on.  But by and large these problems were either exacerbated by a sluggish economy, or sharply accelerated due to panic attack (or both in some cases).

But here’s the real question – if we hadn’t been reading about imminent recessions since last November, would spending have slowed?  Would this have been a mild “correction” to fix up the messy mortgage problem? Would Heroes season 3 been quite so disappointing? There’s no real way to answer these questions of course, but its pretty easy to think consumers and enterprise decision-makers alike have been preparing for the storm for a little while now.

Posit:  The media create a constant, non-stop “the theater is on fire” style of alert about an imminent Recession or possibly even Depression.

Result: People panic, markets tank, banks fail. The rest is to be determined.

Why I’m an Optimist

As I write this, the Dow is down to its lowest point in about 5 yearsInternational markets seem to be in freefall.  Unemployment is rising, rapidly.  People are getting evicted, and those who aren’t are finding their home values “underwater”.  The glaciers are all meltingCommonly used plastic products are causing genetic mutations in humans.  A hateful, power-mad woman might just become the 2nd most powerful person on the planet. And tomorrow I won’t even get to eat a decent meal (or any meal really).

And tonight I will sleep soundly knowing all this.  I’m an Optimist, with a capital O.  I can’t say I was born this way, but I can distinctly recall the moment when I shed my life of worry and negative outlooks.

It was my 2nd year at CMU, and I was busy failing my way out of school as a member of the “square-root club” (I’ll let you figure it out).  I had just utterly bombed a final exam (I think it was for “Calculus in 3D” – holy crap), and walked out of the room wondering what the heck was going on in my life (not that I was ever a straight-A student).  I was wandering the hall heading back to my dorm pondering how I could “fix” the situation, recover my lousy grades, not get booted out of school, etc.  And I realized in that moment that anything and everything I had done until that moment was in the past, the only events which were left to deal with were in my future.

It was then that I truly took control over my life.  I never even bothered looking at the grade on the exam, because I knew it didn’t matter – my mistakes were made, I could either choose to learn from them and grow, or wallow in them in fear.  Ever since I’ve taken a positive look on all things that are in my future.  Every time.

Am I fearful? Sure.  Do things go wrong? Of course. Do I have bad days? Yes.  But do I recover? Yes, and quickly.

Robert Scoble and I had a bit of a debate on FriendFeed last night on the topic of the “death spiral” he recently blogged about.  In a nutshell (paraphrasing), Robert felt he was expressing the truth (death spiral) and I felt that by making statements of that nature he (and others) are adding fuel to the fire.  I think the comment that I’d like to summarize with was this:

“just as success breeds success, panic causes MORE panic. choose what role *you* want to play in this mess”

I’m not delusional, I most certainly “get” that there’s a lot of bad times ahead.  But there’ve always been bad times ahead, and these cycles simply aren’t new.  Things will get bad.  And then, one day, things will get good.  It’s all about how you choose to spend that time, and yes, it is a choice.

I will choose to find the signs of hope.

I’ll read more news from GoodNewsNetwork (and ignore the stuff on televised news – it’s fearmongering and designed to control you, not liberate your mind).

I’ll keep playing Xbox (NHL 09, COD4 – gamertag: bigtoesf).

I’ll root for the Habs (Happy 100th! Now it’s time for 25, boys!).

I’ll cast my vote for the guy who promises hope (the other guy is fostering hate, and is unelectable on that grounds alone).

I’ll spend more time with my family (we’re in a growth year!).

I’ll enjoy drinking scotch with my friends (should you feel the need to contribute, I’m open to Oban 14, Macallan 18, Auchentoshen 10).

By the way, for those of you wondering, I did graduate from CMU, and the very next semester ended up on the Dean’s List.  Funny how much the attitude shift changed the results, ain’t it?  The best part about it is the amazing feelings of empowerment.  Try it, you’ll like it.

11x12seconds home walkthrough (the “before”)

This morning at 8am the crew arrived and began the (estimated) 6-month long renovation project at our new house. Yesterday I had my cell phone with me so I did a batch of 12-second-long videos running through the place as it looks before any work is done. Enjoy the next ~2 minutes, 12-seconds at a time:


Walkthru pt1 on

Foyer, living room, dining room:

Walkthru pt2 on

Dining room, kitchen:

Walkthru pt3 on

Powder room, sitting room, backyard:

Walkthru pt4 on

Heading upstairs:

Walkthru pt5 on

Upstairs bathroom and bedrooms:

Walkthru pt6 on

More bedrooms:

Walkthru pt7 on

More bedrooms:

Walkthru pt8 on

Bedroom, sunroom:

Walkthru pt9 on


Walkthru pt10 on


Walkthru p11 on

Ps – email/tweet me if you’d like an invite to, I have a few left!

Buh Bye Ryan!

Ryan with a boxJust wanted to write a short post wishing Ryan Block the best as he begins a transition to his next great adventure. I’ve had the pleasure of pitching, demoing, writing, volunteering, traveling, dining, and gaming with Mr. Block over the years, and it’s all been a pleasure.

So Ryan, good luck in your new endeavors, I look forward to seeing what happens next!

Very Impressive (and entertaining) Video Mashup

This guy might become pres-o-dent?

I generally try to avoid the politics on the ol’ blogging, but I saw this clip and just felt compelled to repost…

(via Bijan)

Kittens + Treadmill = FUNNY

Thanks for finding this one Scott!