November 15, 2012

Fisking the Williams-Sonoma catalog

Filed under: Business, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 13:22

Drew Magary made a critical mistake once, paying for an overpriced Williams-Sonoma cheese grater with a credit card, thus ending up with yet another glossy catalog landing in the mailbox every year. “Every holiday season, my mail slot gets bukkake’d with monstrous catalogs packed with shit I would never, ever buy, and the W-S catalog stands out among them.”

Inspired by the offerings of the Williams Sonoma catalog, Drew responds to some of the juiciest items:

Item #02-4381232 Acorn Twine Holder

Williams-Sonoma says: “Polished alderwood with 76 yards of linen twine. Made in Italy.”

Price: $26

Notes from Drew: Oh, thank God! Thanksgiving was mere weeks away and I was like OH FUCK, WE’RE OUT OF TWINE. AND WE HAVE NO PLACE TO DISPENSE SAID TWINE. Sure, any asshole can go to the store and buy a roll of cooking string for half a penny and keep that twine in a drawer for the one time per year someone in the house has to tie up a raw turkey only to fail miserably and get salmonella deep inside his palms for years and years. But I want CLASSY twine, you know? I want my twine to say something about ME.

[. . .]

Item #02-741009 Callie’s Charleston Biscuits

Williams-Sonoma says: “Flaky, buttery, and made by hand by celebrated caterer Callie White.”

Price: $72 (set of 24)

Notes from Drew: That’s $72 dollars for biscuits. At Popeye’s, the biscuit comes free with your order. At Williams-Sonoma, it costs you the rough equivalent of your phone bill. How good could these biscuits possibly be? There’s a threshold past which biscuits cannot improve. Even the best goddamn biscuit in the world isn’t $72 better than a Popeye’s biscuit. Unless that biscuit can make you teleport.

And what kills me is that there are clearly people out there who have shitloads of money and NO cooking skills who order this shit. Who are these people? How are there so many of them that Williams-Sonoma can sustain its business model? Are we all just racking up massive biscuit debts that will soon break the economy? I imagine that 60 percent of Williams-Sonoma’s business come from a group of six Persian oil barons, who buy everything in every catalog five times over every year for no good reason at all. Seventy-two-dollar biscuits. WHAT THE FUCK.

[. . .]

Item #02-410423 Assumption Abbey Fruitcake

Williams-Sonoma says: “Baked by trappist monks at a monastery in the Missouri Ozarks. Order early. Supply is limited.”

Price: $39.95

Notes from Drew: Everything about that sales copy just blew my skull. There are trappist monks in the Ozarks? Do they brew artisanal meth? I don’t trust fruitcake to begin with. I sure as shit am not trusting fruitcake that comes from a redneck friar. They’ll swap out uppers for candied fruit. And yet, supply is limited. Apparently, the market for $40 Ozark fruitcake is ENORMOUS. White women from Bridgehampton ALL THE WAY to Westhampton rely on the monks to deliver their holiday fruitcake every year. Ina Garten’s ADORABLE HUSBAND JEFFREY WHO MAKES A LOT OF MONEY loves the sight of a fine white-trash-monk fruitcake any time he comes home. TIE IT UP WITH THE TWINE!

H/T to John Kovalic for the link.

I, Pencil: The Movie

Filed under: Economics, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:17

A film from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, adapted from the 1958 essay by Leonard E. Read. For more about I, Pencil, visit www.ipencilmovie.org

The BBC’s 28 secret climate change advisors

Filed under: Britain, Environment, Law, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:49

The BBC has been prominent among media outlets for their relentless proclamations on the dangers of climate change. Despite the BBC’s charter requiring them to provide balanced coverage, in this particular area they have been cheerleaders for one particular message: that climate change is DOOM!

In 2006, the BBC convened a panel of climate change experts to advise them on the topic, and the corporation took the advice of that panel to heart and has been pushing the climate change = disaster meme ever since. Blogger Tony Newbery submitted a FOI request to find out who had been on the panel which had swung the BBC so far away from their charter, but his request was denied. Not just denied, but fought out in court at an estimated cost of £40,000 per day.

The BBC won in court, but the information was released by someone else:

Sadly for the BBC, another enterprising blogger called Maurizio Morabito unearthed the details anyway and published them on Monday via the website Watts Up With That?

So who were all these ‘best scientific experts’ who did so much to shape the BBC’s climate policy (and by extension, one fears, government policy too…)? Well, two were from Greenpeace; one was from Stop Climate Chaos; one was a CO2 reduction expert from BP; one was from Npower Renewables; one came from the left-leaning New Economics Foundation… Only five of those present could, in any way, be considered scientists with disciplines even vaguely relevant to ‘climate change’. And of these, every one had a track record of climate alarmism. No wonder the BBC tried so hard to keep the list of 28 a secret. Its claim that its policy change was based on the ‘best scientific’ expertise turns out to have been a massive lie.

Latest advances in “trouser-cough suppression”

Filed under: Health, Japan, Technology — Tags: — Nicholas @ 10:34

Lester Haines has a bit of fun with this “news” article:

Pairs of fart-absorbing underpants designed to contain the copious trouser cough output from Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers have proved a hit with Japanese businessmen.

Manufacturer Seiren expressed pleasant surprise that their guff-busting smalls had attracted the attention of suits more accustomed to allocating most of their underwear budget to schoolgirls’ used knickers.

Spokeswoman Nami Yoshida said: “It took us a few years to develop the first deodorant pants that are comfortable enough to wear in daily life but efficient in quickly eliminating strong smells.

Human trafficking in the US

Filed under: Law, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:20

At the Foundation for Economic Education, Lewis Andrews explains how immigration reform will also help to combat the scourge of human trafficking:

Restrictive immigration policies have long been associated with a variety of economic problems including the diminished availability of foreign business and scientific talent, the inability to fill low-skilled agricultural and service jobs typically scorned by legal residents, and reduced access to the kind of entrepreneurial enthusiasm characteristic of those willing to risk their futures in another country.

Only recently has it become clear how restrictive immigration laws also produce harmful social consequences, particularly when it comes to the age-old scourge of human trafficking — the use of force and fraud to supply cheap labor and sexual services.

To understand these consequences, it is important to appreciate just how lucrative a branch of organized crime the modern slave trade has become. Efficient transportation, technological advances in both farming and factory work, and advances in communication have all combined to make the use of forced labor very cheap by historical measures.

Free the Slaves, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, has calculated the return on the cost of an enslaved field worker in 1850s Alabama at just 5 percent, whereas today a trafficked farmhand can yield the owner anywhere from double digits to 800 percent. Similarly, an imprisoned prostitute shuttled around the boroughs of New York City in a van by a driver scheduling appointments on his cell phone can service as many as 40 customers in a single shift. As one researcher coldly but accurately put it, “People are a good commodity as they do not easily perish, but they can be transported over long distances and can be re-used and re-sold.”

The result, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, is that 2.5 million victims, approximately 80 percent female and 50 percent under the age of 18, are being trafficked around the world at any given time. In 2005 the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, estimated the annual revenues from this “industry” at $32 billion, or $13,000 per victim.

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