Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2007

American Priorities

Despite the fact that most talking heads on TV will ignore it, inflation is becoming a problem for the American consumer. Although the prices of "core goods" might only be up nominally, the prices of other important goods, like food and energy, are increasing at double digit pace. The Economist recently pointed this out on its cover.

According to CNNMoney, milk prices alone are up 23% this year. So what would you expect a reasonable consumer to cut back on? Discretionary goods? Gasoline? They would never cut back on staples, like milk, right? The CNNMoney article goes on to give a slightly disturbing anecdote:

John Norris' family is drinking a lot less milk these days. He said he considers the higher prices and has cut back on his kids' milk consumption. But between work and family obligations, he still drives almost as much as he used to. "That's the reason I cut down on milk consumption - so I can drive my car," said Norris. And Norris should know. He&…

Get Out of My School!

I recently came across two articles on the topic of higher education that I felt the need to share with everyone. The first is a column by Thomas Sowell in the Detroit News. Sowell currently works for the Hoover Institute at Stanford, but has held many jobs in higher education over the years. His argument is simple: there are too many kids going to college, many of whom probably don't belong there, and it is ruining the quality of education for those who really want to learn. In his own words:

Wanting to be in college is not the same as wanting an education. Among the other reasons for wanting to be in college is that it is a social scene with large concentrations of people of the same age and the opposite sex. In college, immaturity is the norm, accepted not only by peers but even to a large extent by those in charge. An academic campus can be a refuge from the realities of the world, not only for students but even for members of the faculty.

Even if you disagree with Sowell and th…

The Case Against Multiple Choice Exams: Part 2

One of my biggest gripes with higher education is the use of multiple choice exams. In September I first laid out my case against multiple choice exams and have since continued to build my case. Today I typed out some additional arguments against these exams and laid out a few recommendations to solve the many problems they present. Rather than keep the argument fragmented I decided to combine all my arguments into one piece, which can be found here.

Digg... Buried

I used to be an avid reader of social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit. The idea behind these types of communities is seemingly ingenious: let a democratic community decide what content makes it onto the front page and allow the community to control discussion of said content by masking troll posts and other garbage frequently found on internet chat boards. In theory, Digg and Reddit should help eliminate the media bias that seems to be more rampant than ever since readers should be able to see only the stories that are democratically elected as the best of the best.

Unfortunately, I read these websites less frequently now for a simple reason: they've deviated from what I described above. I'll contend that Digg and Reddit are now significantly more biased than any mainstream media source and that the garbage the community is supposed to control is as rampant as ever. For instance, on Reddit, at any given time I guarantee you can find stories that are pro-Ron Paul, anti-Ge…

Only in America

Every year Thanksgiving rolls around, followed by "Black Friday" and finally by my blog post poking fun of the outrageousness of such rampant consumerism. Last year I posted video footage of carnage at a Wal-Mart where shoppers, eager to get their hands on the latest electronics, toys and other unnecessary junk, literally trampled a woman and ended up sending her to the hospital on an ambulance. And a year later, it looks like people have learned nothing.

In Orlando, a person was punched in the face by another shopping trying to cram into Macy's for a 1 in 200 chance of winning a Macy's gift card. In New York, two men brawled over a cheap pair of shoes, which then drew in a crowd of hundreds of other shoppers apparently eager to witness the scuffle. Fortunately, police were able to break up the crowd, and the fight, without any major injuries (although who knows what happened to the shoes). Any my favorite... footage of the Boise Idaho Town Square at 1am on Friday Mor…

Green PR

It looks like another "supermajor" oil corporation has jumped on the green bandwagon. I honestly feel like I've seen this commercial on TV a dozen or more times tonight.



Granted, Chevron is one of the better oil companies when it comes to investing in alternative energies, but I can't help but wonder what these companies are trying to accomplish with these advertisements? Less anger from consumers as oil and refined product prices go through the roof? Less pressure from the government as they try to crack down oil windfall profits? Or just to say "we care"? Honestly though, I think consumers are smarter than this PR. Its one thing to say "we're investing in alternative energies" but if the only way consumers know about it is by watching TV, I don't think it goes far enough.

Edit: I just saw the full version of the Chevron commercial. Everything else aside, this is a brilliant advertisement. Props to advertising firm McGarryBowen for putting …

MicroFaceSoftBook

Now that Microsoft has acquired a small stake in the $15 billion company Facebook, the impact on both companies seems to be hotly debated in the business community. On the one hand, some tech industry analysts say that buying a small stake in Facebook will make Microsoft "cool" - improving its image as the old, senile dinosaur in the tech industry. On the other hand, some say that the deal will make Facebook "uncool" since it is now associated with such a lame tech company.

The reality? 99% of the people who use Facebook will probably never know that Microsoft even has a stake in the company, and if they do, it is extremely unlikely that they will decide to increase or decrease their time on the website because of it. When McDonald's started acquiring a stake in Chipotle Mexican Grill many years ago, it alone neither improved the image of McDonald's nor hurt the image of Chipotle. The fact is that main street simply doesn't care about which companies are…

Give Al Some Credit

On Friday it was announced that Al Gore would win this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Over the weekend there have been a lot of criticisms of Gore and the process of choosing the winner of the prize. Without getting into that, I think there are two commendable things that Al Gore did for which he deserves some credit.


First, rather than accepting the award exclusively for the work he has done, Gore said he would share the award with members of the United Nations Panel on Climate Change. After all, Gore may be a politician and talented speaker, but his efforts are backed up by research from some of the world's most respected scientists. Without the efforts of the UN scientists, Gore would virtual have no message to get out to the world.

Second, Gore is giving 100% of his $1.5 million award money to the Alliance for Climate Protection, which demonstrates that Gore isn't necessarily doing what he does to make a buck. Most critics point out Gore's tremendous wealth, but they tend…

The Case Against Multiple Choice Exams

Originally posted on: September 26th, 2007
Updated on: November 27th, 2007

One thing that has greatly disappointed me about college undergrad courses is the reliance many professors place on multiple choice (MC) exams. This semester, all five of the classes I'm taking have used multiple choice questions on exams. This is unfortunate because, as I will attempt to make the case, multiple choice exams have many flaws and are a poor metric to determine a student's knowledge on a given subject. Many of the arguments here have been borrowed from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing and examples are from my own experiences with multiple choice testing.

Below are my objections to multiple choice exams:

MC exam results are mathematically skewed - say I sit down at a 500 question multiple choice exam for a class I never attended, never read the textbook, and know nothing about: when I receive the grade for my exam, I'll have received a score of 25% (within some standard deviati…

Oil Buys a Lot of Stuff

Only about 20 minutes ago the Associated Press ran a story indicating that the Nasdaq, the electronic stock exchange in the United States, has agreed to sell a 20% stake in itself to the Borse Dubai, a government controlled company in the Middle East. Borse Dubai is also purchasing a 30% stake in the London Stock Exchange, and once the deals are done, will own the controlling stake in two of the world's biggest financial exchanges. Unsurprisingly, congress, both Democrats and Republicans are up in arms over this deal. How could we let a foreign government (and one from the Middle East no less) control two western financial exchanges? After all, hasn't Al Quida made it clear that they intend to use the US economic system as a conduit to wreak havoc on our country?

The problem is that Congress is asking the wrong questions. Its easy to understand why Nasdaq would be willing to Borse Dubai: money. In a capitalist system the almighty dollar trumps everything else - and if Borse Dub…

Goodbye John

For those of you who were hoping John McCain would become the 44th president of the United States, you might want to start looking for a new candidate. When a high school student challenged McCain for being too old to run for president, the Senator gave a decent response about how he has campaigned his opponents for many years...



Then for some reason, decided it would be a good idea to end on this line: "Thanks for the question, you little jerk. You're drafted." Was this supposed to be a joke? If so then it was one of the most poorly executed jokes I've ever seen. Get ready to start seeing this clip non-stop if you live in Iowa or New Hampshire; it may single handedly destroy John McCain's political future. On the bright side, McCain's poll numbers don't have that much lower to drop anyways.

iCar?

If Detroit didn't already have enough problems... now one of the most popular high tech companies is rumored to be jumping into the business. Well, not really; but there is a lot of chatter online that Apple is going to team up with Volkswagen to offer a hip-looking compact car themed to Apple's line of iProducts and featuring lots of cool Apple gadgets.


Personally, I would love to see this happen and I'd like to see these cars run on diesel (or at least have the option for it). Despite the chatter about hybrids, fuel cells, electric cars and the like, diesel engines are the cheapest and most reliable of all the technologies. In Germany, over 50% of all cars on the roads are diesels; and it makes sense since the environmental regulations are so high. Diesel has a terrible reputation in the United States that needs to be changed - if anyone can do that, Apple can. Not that I can afford to buy new cars right now; but if I was, something like this would probably go to the top …

No Revolution Necessary

A few days ago Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickel & Dimed and Bait & Switch, wrote an extremely interesting article detailing how the proletariat in America has managed to severely cripple capitalism, without throwing a single punch. A lot of what has happened over the past few weeks have been things I've been harping about for years, and up until recently, I've been wondering how I could have been so dead wrong on these issues. But before I go there, here is a recap of how the revolution occurred.

A few years ago Mr. Alan Greenspan decided it would be a good idea to cut the federal funds rate to a measly 1% (historic lows). This prompted an era of cheap credit and a housing boom! In the state of the union addresses in the early 2000s, George Bush made proud references to the record number of Americans who owned homes; unforuntately, they didn't actually own much of anything, the banks had a lot of control over their assets. Fast forward to the present, inter…

Health Care Sniffles

Even though this video of Glen Beck attacking Michael Moore's movie is only four minutes long, it is one of the most painful things to watch. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Beck doesn't make any actual arguments in this rant. He points out Michael Moore's weight several times... he makes arbitrary assertions about Cuba that are obviously not backed up by any fact... and honestly, I think this little tirade actually makes Michael Moore look more legitimate (on a relative basis).



If you made it to the end of the video, Glen Beck asks: "What i don't know is how anybody can dispute America has the highest quality of health care this planet has ever known?" Well, about two minutes of due diligence told me that the World Health Organization thinks there are 36 countries that have a higher quality of health care than the US. It's too bad that Beck didn't spend two minutes on Google before he taped this segment; he might have saved himself a lot of humiliation.

Last Ditch Effort

On Monday the board members of Dow Jones and Company will decide whether or not to sell journalism's last gem to the sleaziest man in media - Rupert Murdoch. The outcome of this story will finally answer the age old question, does everyone have a price?

Of course, I'm hoping Dow Jones doesn't sell out because I think the paper is good for journalism. As for the op-ed page... its never been quite as highly regarded. This comic really makes me laugh:

Global Politics Summary

This was published in the most recent issue of The Economist. Not especially shocking but still highly disturbing...


Don't Let the Door Hit You...

On Monday, Sprint Nextel kicked its 1000 most annoying customers off of its network. While it's no surprise cell phone companies have the most complaints filed against them at the BBB, it's also not surprising to find out that "professional complainers" are trying to take them to the cleaners. According to sources, these customers made 50 times as many complaint calls to Sprint help-lines as the average customer. I applaud Sprint Nextel for doing what every company dreams of doing but rarely does. I fact, I give Sprint a standing ovation.



Having worked in customer service for many years I know how these professional complainers operate: they complain that there are too many pepperonis on their pizza; they complain because the volume at the movies is too loud; they complain that the lines are too long at the grocery store; and they want to be comped for everything. These people have a flawed perception of reality and believe that the world is perfect, and anything less…

Woefully Ill-Informed

In April I blogged about a Pew Research study which showed that viewers of the Daily Show and Colbert Report and significantly more up to date on current events that viewers of Fox News. Now Wired is using that same research to make another interesting point: even though the internet provides us with more information than we could ever dream of, Americans are still less informed about current events now than they were in 1989. Sad.

Internet Inequality

BBC News has a very interesting article about the differeneces between Myspace and Facebook users. I know a lot of people have high hopes that the internet will bring economic, social and racial equality to the world; after all, the barriers to entry are so small that everyone should be able to interact with each other, right? Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves.

Fans of MySpace and Facebook are divided by much more than which music they like, suggests a study. A six-month research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites. The research suggests those using Facebook come from wealthier homes and are more likely to attend college. By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education...

The conclusions are based on interviews with many teenage users of the social networking sites by PhD student Danah Boyd from the School of Information Scienc…

Million Dollar Question

There was an interesting blurb in today's Investors Business Daily that really caught my attention. According to a study by the London School of Economics, 33% of people aged 16-24 in the UK wouldn't give up the ability to use a cell phone if offered one million pounds (two million dollars). Are these people crazy!? I admit, cell phones are useful and it's hard to imagine a life without them, but for one million pounds I'd give up my cell phone in a second.

Even though the study is specific to Europe, I can't imagine the results being any different if Harvard ran the same experiment here. The part that amazes me most is that people aged 16-24 are the least likely to have ever seen one million pounds and most likely to be influenced by the lure of free money. Even though the London School of Economics doesn't say it explicitly, the conclusion of their study is that cell phone addition is becoming a serious problem. I think it would be extremely interesting to do …

Journalistic Jokers

MSNBC ran a story a few days ago about journalists who donated to political campaigns. According to their findings, of the candidates studied, 125 gave to Democrats, 16 to Republicans and 2 to both. Unsurprisingly, the conservative media is having a field day with this story, confirming their theory that the media is heavily biased to the left.

I have two major problems with this silly theory. The first is that the average annual salary of journalists is just about the lowest for college educated adults. According to the Wall Street Journal, newspaper journalists make $28,000 per year and cable TV journalists make $30,000; donating any amount of money to make a difference in a campaign is logistically impossible. Of course the conservative media argues that it isn't about the amount they give but by the fact that they openly endorse liberal candidates. While I will not deny that these journalists are probably liberal, the fact is that they have little to no say as to what goes int…

Airline Imposion

I've been hearing a lot about the new low coast carrier, Skybus, a lot lately because of the absurdly low prices. If Wal-Mart started an airline, you could say that this would be it.


Skybus advertises flights for only $10 to anywhere in the country. Sound too good to be true? It's because it is. Ever since Southwest Airlines proved that selling cheap airline tickets could make you the most popular and most profitable airline in the industry, everyone has tried to rip off the business model. I'll be honest, I love Southwest and would not want to fly on any other airline unless I absolutely had to. Its not just the cheap tickets - Southwest has built a culture and a very loyal following that no other airline can match. The problem is that all of the rip-off airlines try to emulate only some parts of the Southwest model and that alone isn't enough to succeed.

Back to Skybus. The company flies a fleet of 8 Airbus A319s; these planes can accommodate 156 passengers. Remember t…

Freedom, No Questions Asked

After seven years of nonsense, this doesn't even surprise me anymore. The Associated Press recently ran a story about George W. Bush's trip to the Czech Republic to give a speech about freedom in the region. I'll let the Associated Press tell the rest...
On a day when he trumpeted democracy, President Bush noted the vital nature of a free press. Then he got a laugh when the press got stiffed. Bush joined Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday for a joint statement at Prague Castle. They stood at podiums, in a grand hall, before the media. A Czech moderator quickly kept reporters' expectations in check.
"This press conference is going to be without questions," he said. "Thank you for your understanding." That brought a hearty chuckle from Bush, who gave a mock apologetic shrug toward the U.S. press corps. At the microphone, Bush ticked through a host of international topics. Then he thanked his hosts for "a chan…

Half-Baked Hedges

For those of you absolutely convinced that oil companies are manipulating gasoline prices and stealing all of your money, I want you to consider the following.

If you were sitting in early March thinking, "hey, these gasoline prices seem suspiciously low right now," and had a feeling they were going to go up during the summer (again) you could have gotten free gasoline from that moment until the end of summer. Lets say you buy gasoline once a week at an average cost of $50 (which I think is reasonable unless you drive a monster). Given that number, your gasoline bill from March - August will be $1200. Now lets say at the moment you had that insight about the suspiciously low gas prices you bought an out of the money call option for Valero (one of the biggest gasoline refining companies in the world) expiring in September at a price of $400. If you sell that option when the stock market opens on Monday morning you would make a total profit of, drum roll... $1200. And who knows…

Thank You Lisa

One thing that I love about The Simpsons is that the writers aren't afraid to take jabs at Fox. Yesterday night's season finale had one of the best Fox News slams I have seen on the show yet. Thank you, Lisa Simpson, to opening the eyes of the mainstream to the silliness of Fox.

Relative Price Models

So I was thinking about the price we pay for stuff these days, and it dawned on me. We are willing to pay a lot of money for luxury items but refuse to accept that staple items are subject to inflation just like everything else. Take a look at this graph of the relative price of certain goods:


How many people do you know who must have their Starbucks coffee every morning? Or who guzzle down can after can of Pepsi. Ever take a trip to Cedar Point, a Major League Baseball Game or the zoo? If you have, you better enjoy that bottled water, because you are paying over $15 per gallon of it. When you think about it, you'd be hard-pressed to find any liquid product that you can buy for less than $3.20 per gallon.

We don't mind paying so much for luxury goods because we get some sort of immediate gratification from them. Pepsi goes great with pizza and chicken wings; bottled water at the ball game quenches our thirst; and a Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino is the most delicious way to wak…

More of Moore

Michael Moore's new documentary Sicko is coming out this summer and like his other films, I plan to see it upon release. As just about everyone knows, Moore is considered one of America's most outspoken liberals, and he makes people like Bill O'Reilly cringe; which is why I am confused as to why Fox News is endorsing his new movie. According to their film critic:

Filmmaker Michael Moore’s brilliant and uplifting new documentary, “Sicko,” deals with the failings of the U.S. health care system, both real and perceived. But this time around, the controversial documentarian seems to be letting the subject matter do the talking, and in the process shows a new maturity.”

Has an editor at Fox accidentally let an endorsement of Moore's new movie leak out? Has Moore changed his ways and become born again? Or is America's health care system in such bad shame that even Fox News gives two thumbs up to Michael Moore's criticism of it? Make the situation even more suspicious i…

The Gasoline Paradox

Happy National Gas Out Day Eve everyone! I plan to fill up tomorrow morning to protest the silly protest which is going on; and plus, if I am wrong, the prices should be dirty cheap since all the stations will be hurting for business (or so the theory goes). On an inflation-adjusted basis, gasoline is no more expensive now than it has been before, and is certainly nowhere near its peak; say what you like, but the numbers don't lie.

So here is my theory about why all this gasoline protest nonsense is going on and why we are barking up the wrong tree. First, take a look at the real price of gasoline over the past 50 or so years. The general trend is downward and only in the past few years have we seen a little spike; still, the real price is lower than in the 1950s and the 1980s.



No, the problem isn't with the cost of gasoline... the problem is with the wages Americans make today. Consider that the people most likely to be hurt by the price of inelastic goods like gasoline are low…

A Little Better?

When people used to ask me what I thought about the British oil company BP, I used to respond that I thought it was probably the least shady of the oil companies (if that means anything). At least BP was bold enough to run a series of advertisements basically conceding that global warming is a real problem and that we can do something about it. Regardless of whether BP cares about the environment, at least they went out and told consumers that something is wrong and we can do something about it. These are two examples of these advertisements:





About a week ago I saw new BP advertisements running on TV. The new commercials feature cute little cartoon characters looking for a fun gas station to fill up an empty tank. In this rather distrubing ad, toddlers are on a road trip and need gasoline; they spot the happy BP station and the dancing iPod fills their car up with gas. How wonderful!



In BP's press release from last month the company says it aims to change the negative perception of …

Certified Organic

Wal-Mart wonders why people who make more than $50,000 don't shop at their stores. Well, now this demographic has yet another reason not to go there. Wal-Mart started selling organic groceries recently to compete with upscale grocers like Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Market, who cater to wealthy, upscale consumers. The thing about people who buy organic food is, they are extremely picky about what goes in their stomach; and why shouldn't they be?.. they're buying organic stuff after all. So when Wal-Mart mislabeled its groceries and tried to pass off the regular junk as organic, consumers were not happy at all. In quite a few stores months have passed since Wal-Mart has been asked to remove the organic label and nothing has been done. Naturally, angry consumers took to the blogosphere in protest.

Wal-Mart needs to figure out that when you try to branch out and bring in people outside of your core demographic that you have to do it right. The organic food disaster is ju…

The Intolerant

I could blog every day about how much the Christian right in this country annoys me. But sometimes the smartest show on TV does a much better job than me. Yesterday Stephen Colbert had a little something to say about intolerant people in this country. I have to say, this stuff is gold.



Fox Street Journal

When CNBC first announced that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. offered to buyout Dow Jones & Company at a 50% premium I thought I could mark my calendar as the day mainstream media died. Fortunately, it looks like the Bancroft family, who control most of the voting shares at Dow Jones & Co. are not going to accept the offer. Did New Corp make an outrageously high offer that is probably way above market price? Yes. Anyone concerned about the bottom line would be a fool to reject offer like this; but sometimes there are things more important than money, and it looks like the Bancroft family is making that statement.

Dow Jones & Co. is probably best known for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a stock index algorithm that calculates the average of the 30 biggest companies in the United States. The company also owns Barron's, MarketWatch, and most importantly, The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones is a company with about a $5 billion market cap, which is peanuts compared to New…

The "Gas Crack"

Eric Bolling made a great point on Fast Money yesterday night. Gasoline prices are going higher, a lot higher. How does he know and why do I believe him? Because the fact is that we are facing a major supply shortage. Talking heads go on TV all of the time and say... its not that we're running out of oil, there is plenty! the problem is that the oil companies aren't refining enough of it. This is true.


However, these pundits always want to lead you to believe that since crude oil is readily in supply that gasoline should be as well; but the actual supply of crude is irrelevant. If the refiners can't produce gasoline at a pace that equals demand then we have a shortage of gasoline, its that simple! What congress and all these anti-oil activists want you to believe is that these oil companies are producing under capacity and gouging us with high prices. Not true. Refiners are operating at their maximum efficiency and pumping out as much gasoline as possible. The problem is th…

Bloggers for Gravel

A relatively old, white haired man from Alaska, who many people had never heard of one week ago, has become an instant hit with bloggers across the internet. Mike Gravel, former Senator from Alaska, made a fiery appearance at the Democratic primary debate on MSNBC last week. The difference between Gravel and all of the other candidates is that Gravel said what everyone deep down wants to say, but is scared of the negative implications. His speech was not pre-written by some elite public relations firm and he was not afraid to call out the other candidates for being fake tools of the political system. Go over to digg or reddit today and you'll see that members of these social networks have made a clear endorsement of Gravel for president in 2008.



Mike Gravel struck a chord with bloggers because he stands for everything that politics in the United States today is not. For example, during the debate he made this comment about getting the nomination:

What will make a difference in this …

Media Circus

Without a doubt, The Daily Show and Colbert Report are the smartest political shows on TV. Maybe its because the shows are hilarious... or maybe its because the hosts are fun loving guys. My opinion is that these shows tell stories in an entertaining, funny and accurate way. I was extremely happy to see John Stewart do a story about the media re-action to the Virginia Tech shooting and how poor their coverage really was.





There you have it. The perfect compilation of clips demonstrating exactly how bad cable TV news in the United States really is. The problem? They think they did a great job, and are likely to continue providing us with the same, terrible coverage far into the future.

Freak Out Factor

Bill O'Reilly is up to no good again. On last night's episode of the O'Reilly factor Bill takes so cheap shots at acclaimed journalist Bill Moyers. O'Reilly claims that he was unfairly portrayed in a documentary Moyers made about the Iraq War and US foreign policy. The irony is that O'Reilly has little credibility to make the argument that he is being unfairly portrayed, since the premise of his show (and network for that matter) is to do exactly that. when journalism professor and Fox News contributer Jane Hall disagrees with O'Reilly he goes absolutely crazy.



My favorite part of the video is near the end when O'Reilly says, "you don't justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior," because in essence, that is exactly what this little rant seeks to accomplish. O'Reilly is trying to boost his own credibility by making himself look like a victim of the "secular progressive far left." The truth is, Moyers is a respected jou…

Lunch Meat Crimes

Fox News has done a lot of outrageous things over the years, and when you think it can't get any worse, it does. Bloggers over at Think Progress broke this story yesterday morning and thanks to websites like digg and reddit it has proliferated like crazy. Last week in Maine middle school students students played a dirty prank on a group of Somalian Muslims by putting a ham steak next to them in order to offend them. The school filed a report calling the incident a hate crime since it was targeted toward a specific group of people based on religious and cultural grounds. Blogger Nicholas Plagman wrote a satirical parody about the situation which was posted over at Associated Content. He completely fabricated all quotes and details, changing the ham steak into a ham sandwich and discussing the school's plan to create "an anti-ham response plan."

On Tuesday morning Fox and Friends reported on Plagman's satirical article and presented it as real news, showing offensi…

Everybody Loves Hillary

After seeing the first Democratic primary debate on MSNBC yesterday, it became clear why Hillary Clinton is the front runner in the Democratic primary and why she is a real force to be reckoned with. Not only does Hillary have a huge competitive advantage with Bill Clinton at her side, but she is picking up some extremely valuable endorsements from outside of the beltway. Consider the following, Brian Williams asked Clinton this question toward the end of the debate: Overall, is Wal-Mart a good or bad thing for the United States of America? And the Senator's response:

Well, it's a mixed blessing... when Wal-Mart started, it brought goods into rural areas, like rural Arkansas where I was happy to live for 18 years. And it gave people a chance to stretch their dollar further. But as they grew much bigger, though, they have raised serious questions about the responsibility of corporations and how they need to be a leader when it comes to providing health care and having safe worki…

Supply Squeeze

Wall Street has not been a fan of Wal-Mart over the past several years, and the company's poor stock performance reflects it. Maybe Lee Scott is a poor manager, maybe Wal-Mart has run out of room to grow, or maybe anti-Wal-Mart lobbies have caused the company to take a big hit. Regardless, investors have another reason to hate Wal-Mart. Doing business with the world's largest company is a double edge sword. On the one hand, Wal-Mart squeezes every penny out of its suppliers in order to pass the savings onto the consumer, so suppliers see their margins get crushed; but on the other hand, Wal-Mart is so massive that suppliers make up for the small margins through volume.

Research published by Forbes now confirms exactly how suppliers are affected by their relationship with Wal-Mart. Unsurprisingly, the more that a company does business with Wal-Mart, and the more Wal-Mart exploits that supplier, and the lower their average profit margins are. Based on the research from Forbes:

Wit…