Category Archives: Society

Less for More

Have you noticed the degradation in quality and service lately? That Big Mac of yours increased in price by 75 cents from six months ago, and they replaced the English-speaking workers at Taco Bell with Hispanic workers who can’t understand your order. The post office is trying to ‘upsell’ you into more expensive shipping at the counter, and carefully measuring the size of letters to tack on extra fees they didn’t enforce before. Banks are all of a sudden nosy about depositing your own money, and even more nosy about withdrawing it (after all, they can’t make money without your money). Automated checkout counters are getting more and more common, but they won’t let you cancel items that were scanned twice by the overzealous barcode reader — basically they want to save money on labor, but don’t trust you enough to do it yourself.

Ads are being blasted in your face, from Skyfall (a VW Beetle, really?) to Facebook (you’re the product), everything is being monetized, tracked, and automated to extract as much money from you for the least possible effort. The Federal Reserve is in on it with inflation, and the European Union doesn’t even try to pretend anymore, with the proposed confiscation of Cyprus bank accounts.

The ‘cloud’ was supposedly supposed to save everybody, so the pie-in-the-sky marketers were telling us. Oops, they shut down Google Reader and now all the apps I have that sync with it are now dead. Cloud backup sounds great until you hit your monthly bandwidth cap (thanks monopolistic internet providers!) Possession is nine-tenths of the law, people. Your fancy Ruby on Rails website for tracking to-do lists might run out of venture capital funding and die, but I still have apps that were probably written with Borland Delphi for Windows 95. Executable files, baby! Or even better yet, open source code!

With all this technology and supposed human progress, society was supposed to be ‘easier’, but we as humans are making it more difficult, and why? So the people at the top can squeeze a few extra cents from you, instead of delivering value for those few extra cents? Paying more for getting less is the trend these days.

Is there concrete, measurable, benefit from all the shiny new features that we are being sold? Has there ever been?

Society is due for a change. I am pleased that there are those waking up, those who are revitalizing the ideas of minimalism and self-sufficiency. You’ll always remember your first trip overseas, or your first kiss, but who remembers what Android/iOS app they bought on May 17, 2010? Who knows if that app is even compatible with your current phone, or if you’ll need to buy an upgrade?

A Crisis of Epic Proportions

Ladies, gentlemen, and penguins, America is facing a crisis of epic proportions. People are bursting into stores, staring at empty shelves. Prices of “food” have increased dramatically, leaving people to pay 10 to 100 times the price for a basic necessity on online markets such as eBay and Amazon. No, the US government has not defaulted due to the fiscal cliff. No, aliens have not invaded Detroit. No, America has not been dragged into World War 3 with Israel and Hamas. Attention everybody…

We’re out of Twinkies.

I wish I was joking when I saw people hoarding Twinkies. But I was at a Target store, the evening of the fateful announcement, and I saw 4 people staring at empty shelves, desperately looking for Twinkies. And this was in a 3 minute timespan, so extrapolating over a several-hour period, hundreds of people must have entered the store looking for Twinkies. The Twinkies, Ho-ho’s and Hostess Cupcakes shelves were totally barren, resembling some sort of post-apocalyptic raid on the supermarket.

Surprisingly, the shelves were full of Hostess Donettes. Apparently, nobody wants them.

Credit: markjwumaurader2124 via Flickr. Creative commons license

Poor, unloved Donettes. Hug a Donette today.

I went to another store, Grocery Outlet, and sadly, also discovered the shelves barren of Twinkies. But, on the top row, there were about 10 boxes of assorted Hostess cupcakes, ho-ho’s and Zingers. I grabbed one of them and decided to look around the store for other items. Zingers aren’t my favorite, but what the heck, I can pass them out as gifts.

However, as I was leaving the section, a older man wearing a football jersey came across the same aisle of baked goods. As the Hostess’ treats were on the top shelf, he started literally climbing the shelves, until his hands reached the top row. I’m surprised the bottom shelf withstood his body weight. There, he scooped up all of the boxes and brought them down for himself. I tried cracking a joke, but he was completely oblivious. He stared counting the boxes, fixated on the prize as if the fate of the free world depended on his ability to accurately count the number of baked treats in his possession.

I looked into his eyes. Remember that Gollum character from Lord of The Rings? Uhhh, yeah.

This is the future of America. The average person doesn’t understand the Electoral College, or the Federal Reserve, or Obamacare, or women. (Full disclosure, I don’t either.) The average person obviously doesn’t understand how bankruptcies work–since Grupo Bimbo will probably just buy out the factories and produce the creamy treats again. The world can slowly disintegrate with rising inflation, unemployment, food prices, and instability–and people will merrily go on their way as if nothing is going on.

But God forbid, we lose our Twinkies.

Mr. Penguin is disappointed no Twinkies were available, but he’ll make do with Zingers.