2007/01/20

Craigslist and eBay - Twin Pillars of My Economy

"One man's junk is another man's treasure...", is a statement that is perhaps more true now than at anytime in history, and no companies have capitalized on this more adroitly than eBay and Craigslist. I've used these services to sell computers, furniture, services, accessories, music, and electronics. I've made charitable contributions. I've gotten jobs. Hell, I could probably support my extravagant lifestyle for a month just by getting rid of junk on these twin pillars of the new economy, and with that in mind, I've made some observations about these two giants of the 'second-hand marketplace':
  • Unless you're a moron who's addicted to 'reserve pricing', items on eBay will always sell.
  • Items on eBay almost always sell for more than you think they will.
  • You can get more money for your stuff on Craigslist than on eBay, but...
  • ...your stuff will only sell about half of the time.
So what axioms can we derive from these observations? Well...I've distilled it down to two factors:

The eBay Insanity Factor
When they (whoever they are) invented eBay, they tapped into something primal in the human psyche--the desire to compete, auction-style, for treasures. I've watched an item of mine double in price in the last 10 minutes of a auction. I've watched items go for 2 to 3 times what I thought was a low, but decent, price. I can't explain it, but I'll tell you one thing: I don't ever buy on eBay. I only sell cause I don't want to get caught up in what drives these eBay nutballs.

The Craigslist Flake Factor
Craigslist is, to put it mildly, a wacky place. An item at a fair price often finds a buyer, frequently for more than you would get on eBay. But you'll also get: A dozen emails offering to send you a 'same-as-cash' money order if you'll just ship the item to Africa; calls from people who insist on seeing item before buying it and then don't show; calls from people who promise...PROMISE that they'll bring cash and then show up with their checkbook; people who want you to deliver the item; people who offer 1/4 the price...IN CASH--OOOOH! (As if you'd accept anything but cash.) I've even had one woman offer me half the price of a workstation I was selling in cash and sex to cover the remainder.

So...could I live without eBay and Craigslist? Sure, but I wouldn't want to cause, God help me, I love getting rid of stuff and am just glad that my junk's not going into a landfill.

2007/01/19

But Don't You Dare Call Me A Lobbyist...

...and the idea that I'd have to tell the lucky 500th visitor to Blognonymous to buzz off, just so I could avoid jail or fines, really stuck in my craw.

What are we talking about here? Why Senate (bill) S.1, To provide greater transparency in the legislative process, of course, and it's very egregious Section 220 which would have criminalized 'paid' efforts to influence the general public without registration and disclosure. What constitutes 'paid'? The Senate didn't say, but many readers of the bill agreed that ad placement would count. And how were you supposed to avoid this whole mess? By either 1) registering as a lobbyist or 2) having an audience of less than 500 people. Though the Senate didn't mention how they planned to count up my readers.

But now Section 220 is history, stripped out of the bill last night, and (Will I get this out without my head exploding) ...I have the Republicans to thank. ARGGGHHH!

Spinning Habeas Corpus On A Technicality

Well Blognonymous seems still to be in business, so let's not pass on this little gem...

"The Constitution does not say that every citizen has the right to habeas corpus."
Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales - Senate Judiciary Hearings 2007/01/18

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9

Writs of habeas corpus may be granted by the Supreme Court, any justice thereof, the district courts and any circuit judge within their respective jurisdictions...
Title 28, Section 2241 of the US Code


So yeah, technically...not a right, but guess what Alberto, you f*cking moron, Article 1, Section 9 is a limit on the powers of Congress. So you and your megalomaniac boss don't get to decide either!

And politicians on both sides of the aisle freaked when Silvestre Reyes mixed up Iran and Iraq. Mother puss-bucket!

2007/01/18

Blognonymous Down For A Bit

As I mentioned in my post on Spocko's troubles with Disney, I'm moving my domain and hosting from 1and1.com to another provider. The domain transfer process is under way, and while I get the DNS issues sorted out, Blognonymous may be out-o-commission. Please bear with me. I'll be back just as soon as I can.

In the meantime, if you need a 'Kvatch-fix' head over to If I Ran The Zoo. I post there occasionally. In fact, head over there anyway. Tom has a great blog!

UPDATED 2007/01/19, 8:55 am PST

I've been informed that my doman transfer might happen anytime in the next 3 business days. So if I get through the afternoon, I'll post through the weekend and see what happens, and if anybody has a suggestion for a new hosting company, I'd love to hear it. I'm looking at iPower and BlueHost.

2007/01/17

Kvatch Konsolidates The News

I would'a blogged, but they beat me to it and did it better.

Political Purge at the DoJ
Tom Hilton of If I Ran The Zoo has got the goods on Bu$hCo's purging of some of our more effective US Attorney's. Seems the administration isn't too keen on going after corrupt lawmakers, well at least not corrupt Republican lawmakers--would rather spend DoJ's time prosecuting immigration cases and digging up dirt on Democrats.

A New Conflict Resolution Strategy?
Daniel of Seeking Utopia turns us on to the newest craze in sport violence--Professional pillow fights--and wonders if this could be turned into a new way to settle multi-national disputes. But here at Blognonymous we say: Why not bring back dueling and let the nasty bastards take it out on each other with some finality? I mean who wouldn't want to see Cheney and Chavez face each other on the field of honor? Though Cheney would probably would wind up shooting his second.

NFL Officials Say 'One Train Wreck Is Enough'
And finally the Fashiongirl covers the anguish of Britney Spears as she tries to get a place in the upcoming Super Bowl halftime show. NFL officials apparently turned Ms. Spears down because they've already engaged Paris Hilton for the extravaganza.

GOP Intellectually Bankrupt - Reality TV Show Planned

Washington (f-A-ke. P.) -

House Minority Leader, John Boehner, admitted today that the GOP is intellectually bankrupt and could use an influx of new ideas. "We're thinking outside the box here," Rep. Boehner said "...considering all possible sources. Because frankly, we've got nothing."

Boehner's statement was timed to coincide with the announcement of an RNC funded Reality TV show that would solicit ideas from the conservative base. Outgoing RNC Chairman, Ken Mehlman, said of the new show -
I think that this may be my legacy to the GOP, and I'm pretty excited about it. We're thinking of calling it The Strategist and using the format of NBC's The Apprentice. Karl Rove wants to be our 'Donald'. How about that, huh?!
Though it's not known how ideas and contestants will be eliminated from the show, one rumor suggested that the tagline, "That's just a stupid liberal idea..." might be used.

Ideas for The Strategist's first season include:
  • Debt reducing bake sales at GOP fundraising events
  • Faith-based outreach programs for disgraced Republican lawmakers
  • TV shows like Pimp My Stock Car, designed to bring Blacks and Latinos into the NASCAR fold

2007/01/16

All The Sex News Printed To Fit

Titillating topical tidbits to tempt your tawdry tastes...

Life for Adultery
Michigan's second highest court has concluded, reluctantly, that current state law requires adultery involving coitus be treated as 'first degree criminal sexual conduct', a crime that can carry a penalty of life imprisonment. The logic is tricky, but basically boils down to this: A person must be charged with 1st degree CSC whenever, "...sexual penetration occurs under circumstances involving the commission of any other felony." And what would that 'other' felony be? Well how about adultery, a minor felony in MI. Voila! The ultimate in legislating morality.

Life in Prison? Naw...We Want Death!
And in Texas they may get it for repeat sexual offenders who prey on children. Now you're probably saying to yourself, "Good! Texas knows what to do with people who prey on children!" But opposition is coming from an unexpected direction, prosecutors and victims advocates, who argue that it may make the situation worse since molesters will then have an incentive to kill the only witness to their crimes.

The Perils of Porn Popups
This is a cautionary tale for those of you who aren't careful about spyware and malware on your computers. Take a lesson from Julie Amero of Windham, CT who faces up to 40 years in the slammer after her conviction on four counts of risk of injury to a minor or impairing the morals of a child. And the culprit in this sad little tale, malware that kept diverting Ms. Amero's browser to sites like meetlovers.com and femalesexual.com with auto-click popups. Maybe Ms. Amero should'a pulled the plug considering that the infected computer was in her classroom.

Corrosive Rhetoric As Trial Balloon

Not content to limit political 'trial balloons' to policy positions and catchy phrases--who could forget when 'stay the course' first hit the airwaves--administration officials have taken the McCarthyish step of feeding veiled threats to the media, only to retract them a day later.

Last Friday, deputy assistant Sec. of Defense for Detainee Affairs, Charles "Cully" Stimson, said in a radio interview that companies might want to consider taking their business to firms that do not represent suspected terrorists. Then, on Saturday, the Pentagon hustled to retract the remarks saying that Stimson's comments "do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the thinking of its leadership..."

But of course the damage has been done, the message delivered. Don't do business with firms that go against Bu$hCo policies. We've got our eyes on you.

2007/01/15

The Library of Congress Speaks


Thanks to Fred and the Comandante who turned me on to this.
Get one for your blog here.

For MLK - Emancipation Day Redux

MLK Day is one of those holidays that should really inspire one to write something non-topical and profound. But frankly, I've never been very comfortable with a holiday that honors one man. Do we honor President Lincoln, a man who--to the extent that any President does--deserves his own day?

The United States isn't about great men and women. It's about great ideas, great struggles, and great actions. So, with that in mind, I'm going to punt and point you at a post I did last August which is a much more fitting sentiment for MLK Day.

---

Emancipation Day

Though I revere Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I've always been a little uncomfortable with having a national holiday in his honor. Why? Well it has nothing to do with his stature, his vision, his oratory, or his commitment to civil rights. No...it just seems to me that even Dr. King would be uncomfortable with a day dedicated to his memory. Somehow it seems too small--seems not to have the right focus.

Read the rest...

2007/01/14

Noncompulsory, But Warrantless, Is Still A Crime

Another disturbing expansion of illegal domestic spying has the CIA and DoD issuing 'national security letters' to gather domestic intelligence. You'll recall that the FBI has liberally used this power since September 2001, issuing thousands of warrantless requests for information, a practice they claim is legal under the Patriot Act. In fact, Dick Cheney once again took to the airwaves Sunday to defend the indefensible on the conservative's softball network of choice, FOX.

But not to be outdone, the Central Intelligence Agency and Pentagon are getting into the game by issuing the letters to obtain banking and credit data from financial institutions. The kicker here is that Congress has expressly turned down requests to make such 'letters' mandatory, thereby limiting Pentagon and CIA expansion into domestic intelligence gathering. So what do the spooks do? They issue 'non-mandatory' letters that adhere to the letter of the law, and most financial institutions roll right over and give them what they want.

So the question arises: If a financial institution exposes private data in response to an illegal, noncompulsory CIA or Pentagon request--given that in many states the legal requirement is to keep such records private--can the institution be charged with a crime? Sued into non-existence through a class action?

2007/01/12

Kvatch Kvetches - It's Out of Our Hands

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD? Who Cares? The 1000 Lb. Gorilla Has Spoken
Did you know that this battle is over? Did you know that history will repeat itself? And the winner is..."HD-DVD"!!! Why? Because that's where the porn industry is going, and where pornographers go all will follow. Seems Sony doesn't want porn to be produced on their new format. So, like Betamax a quarter century ago, Sony kills their own baby.

I Like Yelp. You Like Yelp.
And the people who get paid to write the reviews really, really like Yelp. Now where the f*ck am I going to go for an unbiased opinion about that new noodle joint that opened up on the corner? [kvatch,kvatch]

Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Friends
Well I can't put it off any longer. Seems Blognonymous has been 'invited' to switch to the new Blogger. You'll recall that I tried this some weeks back with only limited success, but the choice no longer seems to be mine. With that in mind, I'm going to try and get this squared away once and for all and won't be posting again until at least Sunday afternoon. See you then, and wish me luck.

Osama Vision

2007/01/11

Nothing Says 'I Love You' Like 20,000 Volts

Friends, Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and this year don't be the schmuck who gives same-day flowers or the last minute card. Give your sweetie something that will put some charge in your relationship: The Taser C2 personal protection device.

Yes this little beauty, now in attractive colors for the style conscious vigilante, really says I care...enough to arm you with a weapon that can stop a crazed wolverine at 10 paces.

So this year, give a gift with some zap! The Taser C2!
(Not for use as a defibrillator no matter how good an idea you think that is!)

2007/01/10

Windows Vista, NSA Edition

Windows NSAYour Computer, Our Data

Given the mind-boggling number of security issues with Microsoft's operating systems, it's not surprising that they called in some professionals to help out with Vista. What is surprising is who they called.

So...before you upgrade to Vista, ask yourself one question: In light of NSA's new found willingness to break the law in the service of national security, do you trust the agency not to tamper with Windows in ways that compromise your data?

Gilmore v. Gonzales Decided - "Papers Please" Now For Real

John Gilmore's suit against the DoJ, alleging that the government cannot enforce a regulation that they refuse to disclose (in this case the requirement that air travelers produce ID before traveling), is finished. The Supreme Court on Monday let stand without comment a lower court ruling against Mr. Gilmore.

Setting aside whether or not requiring photo ID before traveling by air is reasonable or lawful, the Supreme Court's failure to address this issue leaves in place a dangerous loophole that a power-obsessed administration like Bu$hCo is quite likely to abuse. Consider... The crux of Gilmore's suit was not the requirement itself, but the fact that TSA and the airline: 1) Refused to produce the law or regulation, and 2) Asserted that Gilmore had no right to review any such regulation.

Now think about that. A law or regulation that a citizen has not right to review. In other words: "This is for your own good because we (the government) say it is, and you don't get to challenge our decision." Now imagine if the executive were to take this sort of nonsense to it's logical extreme. Secret laws could be enforced that you wouldn't even know about until you'd run afoul of them. Ad-hoc--spur of the moment--regulations could be created by agencies that know that the courts won't interfere. In short, by refusing to consider this case, the Supreme Court is giving the executive a tool that they can use to bludgeon law abiding citizens.

"Papers please!" may be just around the corner...for real!