Reviews

Opinion | Two Reasons Why “I Am Part of the Resistance” Isn’t What It Seems

For all the headlines the article below generated and all the sensationalized media coverage it received, I believe everyone has gotten a little too zealous in their efforts to discover the author of the article. Too many people are trying to read between the lines and ferret out details to see if the writer made mistakes or offers clues about their identity.

Predictions

Two bold predictions, based on my reading of the article: 1) this article was written by John McCain to be published posthumously; or 2) this article is fiction passed off by the NYT as an authentic source within the White House.

Bold predictions? Yes. Counter to all the speculation going on? Yes.

First option: What better way for John McCain to get his last punch in at the president (whom he didn’t like) and talk up the Republicans as saviors at the same time? The letter was written to undermine the president and his authority while still providing (however thin) reassurance to the nation that there are “adults in the room.” Published from the grave, he doesn’t have to take the wrath of the president, not that he wouldn’t be unable to handle it, and he doesn’t have to deal with the repercussions of how he got the Republican party all twisted up into a patriotic “coup” against the presidential man-child. He wouldn’t have to face endless questions about why he wrote it and why now. He wouldn’t have to explain anything, just let his final words stand as a defiant last act against a president he didn’t believe in.

Second opinion: What better way to set off the presidential man-child into an unhinged, Twitter rant and create a White House witch hunt for a culprit that doesn’t exist than for someone, or group of people, to create a piece of fiction that implicates the Republicans in a “patriotic coup” while undermining the president and sending a message to the American people that no one is really in control? Thus, the White House enters into more chaos than ever and the Republicans are pointing fingers at each other in speculation and distrusting each other as the mid-term elections are nearing. Now, the president will look at everyone around him with even more distrust and, quite possibly, the irrational behavior will be even harder to counter. Whatever or whomever the real source is, they weren’t in the White House but now they are “in the White House” by virtue of causing everyone to be looking over their shoulder all the time.

Proof

What proof or evidence do I have? None. But, everyone else is speculating, so why can’t I?

I do believe that the author is not a high ranking official, probably not even someone who works in the White House. The title just makes for great headlines and copy to sell papers.

I can rationalize that opinion because on close reading of the article the author never offers any proof – everything is vague and there are no real details. This of course could be intentional so as to not reveal their identity, but it could also be because they really aren’t privy to anything substantial. Everything that is written, or offered as an “example,” could have been written from a distance and surmised from other reporting or gleaned from conversations not directly related to someone actually in the White House. Hell, I could have written the article, or any one of you, considering all the coverage on this administration and the media’s obsession with finding negativity in everything the president does. It wouldn’t be hard to write given that the pattern of behavior is well established and that the Republicans are going to try desperately hard to maintain some kind of control on both houses of Congress. By offering the American people some kind of “monitoring buffer” of the president’s behavior, they are hoping there will be enough reassurance to maintain it.

Ultimately, the information will come out. Whether the author steps forward on their own or they are “outted” by someone else, the truth will come out. It always does.

I am not an Idiot: Celebrity Endorsements

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Dear Capitol One (or any other advertiser),

I am NOT a idiot, though you keep insisting that I am.

Why do you keep running ads with a celebrity endorsement that you had to pay too much money for? Do you think I am that weak minded enough to run out and get your product just because a celebrity holds it in their hands?

Just recently I saw your ad, “Musical Chairs,” with the likes of Jennifer Garner praising the merits of your travel miles credit card. Why, oh why, do you think this would compel me to get your credit card? She isn’t going to sell it to me any better than Samuel L. Jackson, or Alec Baldwin. I didn’t get your credit card then, so what makes you think I am going to do it now? Really? Like those two are gonna sell anything to respectable adults.

How much money do you have to pay these celebrities to hock your wares? Does Jennifer’s husband, Ben Affleck, not make enough money so she is out earning a living again?

Why don’t we make a deal? How about we agree to leave each other alone? You stay off my television/computer, stop clogging up my online shows with your stupid commercials (and my mailbox for that matter) and in return, should I need a credit card, I’ll seek you out. I’m sure I know where to look if I need you. Deal?

And to you celebrities, knock it off! Has your shine worn off enough that you prostitute yourself to any company that will pay you? It doesn’t matter the product, or even if it is a charity. I DON’T CARE! Entertain me. That is all. That is what I pay for. Not your opinions or your endorsements. You only show how desperate you are to stay in the limelight that faded long ago.  Stop. Please.

Please, Capital One, if you are going to run lame commercials, don’t employ B-list (or any other list) celebrities.

Not so sincerely,

Smartus Assimus

Blogs I enjoy and you should too

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So, I know you probably didn’t know you needed this. And, maybe after reading it, you still don’t think you need it. But I promise you, if you take a little time to take a look around at the following blogs, you’ll find something you really like. You’ll probably want to follow them too!

Now, here’s the thing, I am sharing this just because I can. Not because I am getting anything out of it and not because I am expecting anything from it. It is just because. (OK, maybe I didn’t have anything else come to mind to write about…) But really, in all seriousness, I have found some really cool bloggers out there and that I enjoy reading on a regular basis so I thought maybe you would like to know about them too.

So, in no particular order, here they are:

  1. Ben’s Bitter Blog 2 – Ben spins everything in life from a bitter perspective and usually that adds a smile to your face, which makes everything better. He recently was unable to recover his initial blog (thus the “2” in the title), so if you followed him before and haven’t seen anything from him in a while that is why.
  2. Pieces of History – Being a history guy (and former history teacher) I love this blog from the National Archives that highlights primary resource material in an engaging way. Nothing like seeing history from the nation’s past, some of which rarely gets any sort of love from anyone. Oh, and it never hurts to learn a thing or two along the way.
  3. MovieBabble – Movie reviews in an approachable format. This team covers current movies as well as older ones too. They give an honest breakdown (unlike some of the bigger, well-known, services) and encourage discussion of the movie and their reviews. A great resource if you love movies!
  4. The Nerd Lady – an English teacher (lettering artist) who does word art on her whiteboard (and now other mediums) to highlight quotes from the texts she is reading in class, or just a favorite quote from literature she loves. A beautiful and engaging way to get students excited about the book they have in their hands, or might have in their hands in the future. I bet you recognize a few of them yourself!
  5. IdeaProvoker – A story-teller who makes you think while you read. Each story has a deeper meaning in it and sometimes the twists in them will get you thinking and questioning what you really know. Perspective matters and this blog will give you a different perspective on a wide range of topics.
  6. what stacy did – A travel blog that highlights sights and adventures in England (mostly) and Europe. Well documents and beautifully photographed, the trips highlight something that might not be on everyone’s travel agenda but should be. One day I hope to get to travel in Europe, so this blog will definitely be a place I go to when it comes time to plan the trip. In the meantime, I travel vicariously via Stacy’s eyes.
  7. roadsbeltravelled – Another travel blog, but this time it’s a different kind of travel. This blog highlights hiking and the slow travel over terrain to find serious adventure, but on a budget. Who doesn’t like to get into the outdoors? This blog will take you places you may not have been but would consider going after you have seen the amazing pictures of her adventure.
  8. No Eggs or Ham – If you have food allergies or specific dietary needs, then this blog is for you! (I don’t have those needs, but I a family member who does) Their approach to food is pragmatic and adventurous! The recipes are accessible, easy to follow, and the photography of their food is simply scrumptious. If you don’t want to lick your computer screen after “consuming” one of their posts, you simply don’t like food.
  9. iwannabealady – Fashion, photography, literature and poetry, life…there is no topic off limits here and she is both funny and serious. While the goal may be to inspire and encourage women, I think everyone can take a little something away from this blog. Life is an adventure and she highlights hers very well as she now grows her empire into a social media juggernaut. I think you’ll be inspired and smiling after you visit this blog!

There you have it, a list of nine blogs that get me to stop scrolling through the “Reader” news feed and pause for a respite from life. Blogs that I actually look forward to and get excited to read as soon as their next post is out. Perhaps you too could have the same experience, so go check them out!

Tell me what you think! Did you find any of these suggestions helpful? Do you have a favorite blog or two you want to share? Let me know in the comments!

 

*These are not a paid endorsements – just an FYI in case you need something else to read and enjoy while relaxing or drinking your coffee in the morning.

Desperately seeking direction, or not

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Ever feel that way? Sometimes definitely maybe almost always?

So, it seems I have come to a crossroads and I am looking for some genuine feedback.

I haven’t had much of a “focus” on the blog and as a result, I think, growth has been slow. I haven’t been able to find a correlation between the posts that do well or and those that do not. One thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the writing I think is good and actually addresses something of substance, doesn’t seem to get a lot of interest; but, the posts that don’t really address anything of a serious nature seems to score higher with views and likes…which is perplexing.

So I am going to make an appeal, to you the readers (if you really exist), what do you want to see more of or less of? What direction do you think I should go? Should I find a place of focus, a niche, if you will? Or, should I keep doing what I have been doing?

This may take some work on your part, but I think it’s the only way to get a good picture of what you like/dislike (unless you have a fabulous memory). So, if you are so inclined, please take a gander at past posts and give me some feedback. I’d even be willing to do the same for you if you find yourself in a similar funk.

California, you have gone too far!

Well, California, you have gone and done it this time. Only this time, you have gone too far and taken on a whole world that loves coffee.

If you have not seen it or heard it yet, read the article at the bottom about a judge in California and the ridiculousness that is California law (or you can read here).

So, I think it is high time someone actually declares the truth about California and put it on every sign as you enter the state…

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The reality is, California will kill you.

Sometimes it will be quick. Sometimes it will be slow. But for all intents and purposes, California is proven to cause cancer, either directly or indirectly. Either way, California will be the death of you.

Shall we name the ways it can cause cancer? Well there are just too many to name, so I will give you an abbreviated list:

  1. Smog – there is plenty of it.
  2. Sun – seems it is everywhere.
  3. Water – let’s just assume there will be transference from everything in this list and more.
  4. Air – actually, this may be a limited source since it has mostly been replaced with smog.
  5. Wine – it causes cancer, then it doesn’t, then it does, then it doesn’t…where will the wheel of fortune stop for you?
  6. Disneyland – because anything that is fun must cause cancer, and California has a need to kill all fun.
  7. Every product the state produces or consumes…

So, from now until eternity, the state should sell all sunglasses with a non-removable warning label on the lens reminding all wearers that everything they see in California will kill them. It seems only fair to warn people.

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A Los Angeles judge has determined that coffee companies must carry an ominous cancer warning label because of a chemical produced in the roasting process.

Source: Coffee companies must carry cancer warning label, California judge rules


Fair Warning:

There are actually things in California that will kill you! But, before you physically visit the state (hopefully you don’t live there already), you likely will get brain cancer trying to figure out what the hell California is doing to ruin everything, and how they come up with this moronic stuff.

My head hurts…I think I have a tumor…

Marketing Fail: Worthless Savings

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When you get an email from a business you just finished patronizing and the subject line of the email reads like the one above, you are going to open it and see what savings you are receiving because you know you probably will go back again.

Savings Inside

This little tag, phrase, sentence, whatever you want to call it, has become rather popular these days. You see it in your emails. You see it when you are shopping online but haven’t signed into the website yet. You see it in texts from stores you’ve agreed to receive marketing texts from. You’ll even see it on the outside of junk mail (of the “snail mail” variety) envelopes trying to entice you to open it in the hopes the contents will actually help you in some way.

I’ll admit, I am a sucker for a good deal and have a hard time passing it up when it is an actual, bona-fide, good deal. I like saving money, who doesn’t? I mean, if I had money to burn, who cares what the price is – money is no object at that point! But, like most of you, I find myself pinching pennies at the end of the month and getting creative with the budget. So, “Savings Inside” is enticing and it could be the next great deal.

The problem is that in many cases the good deal is anything but a good deal. Most companies just hope you haven’t done any shopping around or offer so little actual value that in the long run you probably would have just been better to not have purchased it in the first place. Some examples you may have seen:

  1. The exceptions/exclusions area of coupons – some of these areas have so many exclusions that you literally can only buy like four items in the entire store. (see a Best Buy birthday reward coupon)
  2. Bed, Bath, and Beyond – they like to run the exact same coupon every week (in email or mailer) of 20% off your purchase. Every week! They might as well just lower all their prices by 20%…makes me feel sorry for the people who shop there without a coupon.
  3.  Any store that offers 10% off of something – the saving is so low, you barely save the cost of the sales tax.

Anyway, back to the latest fail at marketing. This one is by the local Toyota dealership and it came about three days after visiting for oil changes on my cars. I just spent well over a $100 there, so I was looking forward to some savings for the next visit. Take a look at the “savings” in the “coupons” below.

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Did you read them carefully? See any savings? Yeah, me neither. Apparently the only savings here is “free information.”

The head scratcher here is that they bothered to put an expiration date on their “free information” and “coupon codes”, which of course are good for nothing.

I wish I could say this was a one-off, or a glitch, but I get these “offers” from the dealership fairly often. My guess is they don’t have anyone really paying attention to their marketing, even though they say they “are here for me.”

So, we are left to click and hope (or if you are into the snail mail thing, rip and hope) that there really is savings “in the mail.” In the meantime, make sure you read the fine print!

Do you have any worthless savings stories or examples? Share below.

Anniversary: A Travel Cup Commentary

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Some things in life are worth holding onto. Some things in life are worth letting go.

Most things, just aren’t made they way the used to be. Those old things, those are the ones worth holding onto, most of the time.

Week day mornings for the last 10 years have mostly started with the same object in my hand while I commute from home to work. It has travelled as far as I have over those years.

My trusty Starbucks travel cup bears the signs of use, and lots of it. It has kept me company in the car and has made my mornings that much easier to deal with the day ahead. Sure, it isn’t as pretty as it was when it was new, but I like it just the same.

When it was new, it was blue. The color has been long since worn away and now it is just a plain stainless steel, double walled shell. It didn’t have dents along the bottom ring, or a chipped lid. It certainly didn’t have a nose print (yes, that ring is a nose print) or a whisker burn on the lid. Some of the wear and tear has come from riding in a cup holder, taking dives off the top of the car, being tossed into the back seat, shoved into a bag, or just plain doing what it is supposed to do. But it has withstood all the travel and abuse.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t leak! The original rubber ring that closes the seal between the lid and the cup is still intact. The rubber nub that keeps the air hole closed on the lid is still intact as well. Not only does it not leak, but it also keeps my coffee hot for my entire commute (provided the coffee lasts that long), which can sometimes be more than an hour.

My wife gave me the cup just a little over 10 years ago for my birthday. We had just started dating then and it was the first of my birthdays we had been together, so who knew what kind of life it, let alone we, would have since then. She told me the other day, when I mentioned it was now 10 years old, that I should get another one. My response? “No way! I love this cup.”

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The thing is, there really isn’t anything special about the cup. It is, after all, just a cup. But, what is special about the cup is that my wife gave it to me and it has been a part of my mornings for so long, I can’t imagine using a different cup. It is kind of like that old pair of sweat pants or shoes, that old t-shirt or sweatshirt that is so worn out and thread-bare, but you just can’t give it up. Why? Well, because it is comfortable. When you wear them or use it, it just feels right. It is a piece of you, to some degree, so giving it up would be like giving up a hand, or leg. Ok, well maybe not that drastic, but you know what I mean.

I get it. Some people would say, “But there are new ones. New is better. It has more bells and whistles. It looks better.” I say, let them say it. Replacing something just because it is old, isn’t the answer and it is over-rated. Period.

They don’t make them like they used to…and some things are just worth holding on to.

 

What thing or things do you have in your life that is worth holding onto because it is familiar, comfortable, and just plain made better?

Directions You’re Gonna Regret

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Every had one of those moments where you decide to follow the directions and then instantly regret it?

The image above shows the directions I followed, which I instantly regretted. Why? They seem relatively straight forward, right?

Not exactly. If you were paying attention, the food is contained within a pouch. The problem is the pouch. The food literally does not need to be cooked in the pouch. But, you decide to follow the directions anyway. So, as a result, one wouldn’t think to cover the top of the pouch…I can see that lightbulb flickering…you are starting to get it…because while to food is in the pouch there is no convenient way to cover the top of the pouch with something that will keep the now heating food from exploding all over the inside of the microwave. POP! SNAP! CRACKLE, CRACKLE, BOOM!

So the written instructions on the back of the food product would more accurately read:

  1. Tear or cut open pouch.
  2. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) for 45-60 seconds. Microwave ovens vary; heating times may need to be adjusted.
  3. Wait for “fireworks” noises to be heard over the humming of the microwave.
  4. If you live dangerously, wait for the time on the microwave to expire and you hear the beep or ding. If you don’t like to live dangerously, curse loudly and pull open microwave door immediately.
  5. Remove pouch from microwave while surveying the messy damage. If you like burnt fingertips, grab anywhere and throw in a little squeeze for kicks; otherwise, carefully grab a small corner at the top edge of the pouch.
  6. Empty remaining content of pouch into a bowl or onto a plate. If the pouch is lighter than when you put it into the microwave, deposit pouch directly into the garbage.
  7. While cursing or muttering under your breath, grab cleaning supplies (we recommend all purpose cleaner and paper towels) and clean the entire inside of the microwave before the next co-worker needs to use it. Return cleaning supplies to proper location after use.
  8. If you are still hungry, ENJOY the small amount of remaining contents from the pouch. Remember, it may be hot (depending on how long it took you to clean the microwave) so use caution. If the remaining contents are not hot, please return them directly to the clean microwave and cover the dish with a paper towel.
  9. If you are not still hungry, return directly to work and try to be productive while your stomach growls all afternoon.

Here’s how it should read since the instructions are out of order or they left out a few steps:

  1. Tear or cut open pouch.
  2. Empty contents into a bowl or onto a plate.
  3. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) for 45-60 seconds. Microwave ovens vary; heating times may need to be adjusted.
  4. Enjoy.

There, now isn’t that better?

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Do you have an example of when you followed the directions and then regretted it? Share in the comments below!

Apple’s Apology Absent of Authenticity

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I know I am not the first to talk or write about this, but I still feel like I need to say something since I have been an iPhone user and supporter since the first iPhone came out. And, while I won’t be giving up my iPhone any time soon (I actually just upgraded to an 8+ just before this all was confirmed), my confidence in Apple has waned a little.

As you all are aware of, I’m sure, by now is that Apple finally admitted to and apologized for slowing down phones supposedly because of battery issues. Unfortunately, it lacked anything that came even close to authenticity, and maybe even the truth, and had me calling a great big loud BS. Apple, you did it, so how about owning it and not making excuses about “software” or “hardware.”

Let’s start with the apology first. To be really blunt, this is really the only paragraph in the whole letter that really matters, the rest is just fluff.

“First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”

Did you see that? That part about “we have never and would never do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product…making [them] last as long as possible…” Considering the day and age we live in, I think we can all agree that isn’t really the case, or the truth.

We live in a consumer culture that has planned obsolescence built right into it. Nearly every product we buy has an “estimated life” – whether is in the actual hardware (the materials used to build it) or the software (the stuff on the inside that makes it work). Products aren’t built to last longer because that would keep people from buying newer (and perceived better) products. Sales for companies would tank if they actually built something that would last more than several years. So, companies change the models, designs, and features available which contributes to “planned obsolescence” – making the consumer feel as though what they have isn’t good enough, even if technically it still is or could be with minor upgrades.

Unfortunately, you can see it in every product Apple produces – iPhones, iPads, Macbooks, iMacs, etc. It only takes a short look back over the products and how long ago some of those older models were produced to see what is going on. We now know that Apple was slowing down phones on purpose, but how can we trust that they aren’t doing it with their other products as well? The truth is, we can’t.

Products that are only three, maybe four years old are no longer getting software updates and are no longer “supported”. If Apple was truly trying to keep those products going as long as possible, they wouldn’t be left out of software updates. We could have been told to get a battery replacement before doing the next software update and then the phone would run at its optimum capacity without threat of random shutdowns or freezes. But, no, Apple didn’t decide to do that which means Apple knowingly created (or supported) a system that would warrant buying a new phone instead of simply replacing the battery.

I understand that some of the older products may not run the newest features in the software. And, yes, I know that newer software may put a strain on the battery or processor(s). But, shouldn’t that be something we have a choice about rather than being led to believe our product is coming to the end of it’s life? Some have even argued that this doesn’t prove that Apple was using planned obsolescence, but that seems incredibly naive. Think of it this way, just because the tires, or battery, or engine, or muffler on my car are worn out doesn’t mean I need to go buy a new car. But Apple was certainly hoping that you would go buy a new phone.

Let’s be real here in the new year…that apology was more about CYA against class action lawsuits and a damaged reputation, not about being honest and truthful. Oh, and look at that Tim Cook got a huge bonus too – which was built on many our unnecessary upgrades.

If I upgraded at least twice, unnecessarily over the last four years, perhaps I am in for a bonus myself when these class action lawsuits find Apple was intentionally deceptive and harmed consumers. But then, I won’t hold my breath either…