Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm Still Live On My Cam!

I'm chatting with 18yo Emma from Ireland and the publisher of a Jewish newspaper in the MId-West.

Join the conversation.

YourMoralLeader: I'm not like other men who are so visually driven and hounded by their base urges
YourMoralLeader: Emma, you are the queen of my chat room. Anyone you want booted, you just say the word!
Emma: Lol
Emma: Thats your job Luke
YourMoralLeader: I want to protect your virtue!
Emma: lol... thanks :)
Emma: Nice shirt
guest6: You really do this. On webcam all the time? - Wow
Emma: hehe
guest6: I read your book "Yesterday's news tomorrow."
guest6: I enjoyed it.
guest6: I am a publisher of a Jewish paper in the midwest.
YourMoralLeader: wow
YourMoralLeader: very cool
guest6: Do you make any money from your books?
YourMoralLeader: Can we do an interview for my blog about your experiences in Jewish journalism?
YourMoralLeader: Very little
YourMoralLeader: Sum total from all five, less than $3000
guest6: Or is it more from your "industry" work?
YourMoralLeader: I've made most of my money from writing on porn, yes.
YourMoralLeader: But quit that six months ago.
Emma: lol
YourMoralLeader: so now I live off credit cards
guest6: I may not be the best one for this. I am not Alana Newhouse.
YourMoralLeader: and escort work!
YourMoralLeader: how many papers you print each week?
YourMoralLeader: yeah, she's hot and funny
guest6: I started the paper here. It competes with a PR rag.
YourMoralLeader: how many papers you print each week?
guest6: I come out twice a month. It sucks. I am the pub, the editor, the layout designer and many time reporter of breaking news
GUAPO: what it do!
guest6: We are a small two person operation. I am considering getting out of it. the "Calling" is gone.
guest6: I am also a member of the local Orthodox community, so I enjoyed your observations.
GUAPO: yo feelin well today luke?
YourMoralLeader: 6, it is a tough road, not much $$$
GUAPO: yeah luke i felt that anger in you yesterday son

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm Live On My Cam And Taking Questions!

From my cam chat:

Emma: Luke is sunbathing
924BiggestFan: lmao is that him
RussianDragon: what a sight
Emma: lol
Emma: yeah
Emma: Its him
924BiggestFan: lmao
Emma: Whats funny?
Emma: lol
924BiggestFan: hehe
Emma: He looks like a simpson…the colour I mean
924BiggestFan: yeah he does
Emma: :P
Emma: It’s his camera
924BiggestFan: how long has he been out there
Emma: 10 minutes
924BiggestFan: k
924BiggestFan: looks hot there
churchchime: yeah lol its bart waiting to ki ck ball ……………………….
Emma: Are you female biggest?
924BiggestFan: yeah
Emma: I havn’t been sleeping very well latley
RussianDragon: about 23h
churchchime: isnt it rude to have the host to leave?
RussianDragon: but when i’m talking to interesting people
Emma: What do you mean Church?
RussianDragon: i make exception
Emma: lmao Luke
Emma: He is actually gonna sleep there
Emma: Won’t he turn into a crisp?
RussianDragon: probably
Emma: Oh no
RussianDragon: crispy jew
Emma: lol
Emma: omg lol
Emma: Does look nice there
Emma: wb Lukenese, german
Emma: Your upside down
Emma: :|
YourMoralLeader: Emma, you’ve turned my world upside down
Emma: gee
Emma: Lol
Emma: Oh smooth Luke
RussianDragon: uhm some polish
Emma: Very smooth

QuietStorm: how can you "think" to write your blog while watching the conversation in the chat??
QuietStorm: avon calling
Gina: can we come too?
QuietStorm: you look rather pained now Luke
Emma: Wb Mysteryman
MysteryMan: He is pained because he has read that article discussing that Muslims now outnumber Roman Catholics, and he fears for his patrimony
MysteryMan: A world with more Muslims than Catholics is a world that is especially perilous to the Jew.
Emma: Gee wizz
MysteryMan: Ireland too, knows of this invasion.
MysteryMan: In fact, a paranoid Jew might regard liberal immigration policies as a form of antisemitism.
QuietStorm: Hey, is this SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE or something???
MysteryMan: His old lady on the phone again
QuietStorm: hey MM shalom
MysteryMan: "We are too weak to attack the Jews ourselves, too lazy, also. So let’s admit a few million fecund muslims to do the job for us"
MysteryMan: This is antisemitism, v3.0
MysteryMan: Hitler like Islam.
MysteryMan: I have read it in his Table Talk and in Mein Kampf
YourMoralLeader: How do you guys feel about a Torah sage sucking on a lollipop while listening to a Torah lecture?
MysteryMan: Evocative of fellation and pedophillia
QuietStorm: please repeat that ???
Emma: Its strange that someone would actually do that
MysteryMan: Likely such a person might be thinking impure thoughts for which another concentric ring of provity must be erected
MysteryMan: Since it looks bad, no sucking on anything in a shul
MysteryMan: Better safe than sorry

MysteryMan: Any other questions?
QuietStorm: I get it….MysteryMan is Luke
MysteryMan: Shhhhhhh
MysteryMan: Rumors
MysteryMan: Luke has been mistaken for all sorts of characters in years past.
MysteryMan: None of which he was so far as I know
Gina: it sucks.. not good middot
MysteryMan: Rabbis should also not have vaginal orificies, whether they were born with them or not

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Whole Nonsense

Whole Foods needs to consider a name change. "Whole Nonsense" more accurately describes their recent campaign to "educate" the public about the company's use of 100% recycled paper bags. Whole Foods wants people to believe that this effort is new or extraordinary; it's not. If anything, the company is guilty of having perpetuated a gross lie: that plastic bags are more expensive or harmful to the environment. The facts tell a completely different story -- information Whole Foods has not disclosed to its consumers! These "100%" recycled paper bags are a way for Whole Foods to generate easy PR and boost their bottom line. Nothing more. Message to consumers: stay away from these tactics.

Ray Haynes writes for the Examiner:

Washington DC (Map, News) - Every year companies pull out their green camouflage as Earth Day approaches. That's happening now as corporate titans lead the battle to ban plastic bags in the name of environmental protection. But what they really are trying to protect are their profits and greenwash their reputations.

While there are so many meaningful ways to improve the environment, legislators target a symbol - a plastic grocery bag - to try to promote an environmental agenda.

For instance, the biggest paper bag maker in the country is Duro Bag Manufacturing Co. The firm's interest is obvious: Outlaw its competition to increase its profits.

It's a wonderful scam. Arguing for a plastic ban allows Duro to mask its self-interest with eco-rhetoric. The company, which might be one of the biggest consumer of trees in the nation, is selling an image more than a product.

A similar game is being played by Whole Foods Market, which made a big, noisy splash announcing that it was phasing out use of plastic bags.

Proclaimed the company press release, the firm was "The first U.S. supermarket to commit to completely eliminating disposable plastic grocery bags to help protect the environment and conserve resources."

Naturally, Whole Foods is selling reusable bags as a replacement. The company also pledged to continue offering paper bags of "100 percent" recycled materials.

It's all marketing hype. The paper bags used by Whole Foods come from Duro, and only consist of 40 percent "post consumer" content, which is roughly the same as every other paper bag on the market.

Whole Foods has not been clear how it will report its use of paper or its sale of reusable bags. Whole Foods has not been transparent, or honest about the content of its bags in the media or about the harmful environmental impact of recycled paper.

Moreover, in the search for marketing bang, these companies ignore the basic fact that plastic bags can be recycled. Indeed, it costs an incredible 91 percent less to recycle equivalent weights of plastic and paper, and the plastic recycling market is growing as consumers become aware of the option.

Plastic bags, made from natural gas, also are tree-friendly. In contrast, the production of even "recycled" paper bags requires constant infusions of virgin timber. Countless more trees will die so Whole Foods can provide its customers with paper bags.

It takes about 40 percent less energy to make plastic bags, which generate about 80 percent less waste than paper sacks. Producing plastic bags also gives off just 40 percent of the greenhouse gases as producing paper ones.

So if plastic is better than recycled paper, what is Whole Foods really up to? Profits are crumbling, the acquisition was a disaster, this is a publicity stunt to deflect attention from the real issue. This is about economics, not the environment.

They've been caught red handed participating in the worst corporate sin in the eyes of the environmental community by trying to re-brand itself as the ultimate good corporate citizen, sacrificing its interests on behalf of the environment.

The result, it obviously hopes, will be increased sales, market share, and profits. For the uninitiated, the term is "green washing." The company needs that kind of boost.

Last year, Whole Foods purchased a smaller competitor, Wild Oats. The marriage does not appear to be entirely happy, as Whole Foods' profits during the first quarter of this year were down 27 percent.

Two years ago the company came under fire for betraying its purported commitment to corporate social responsibility by stifling dissident shareholders who wanted to raise controversial questions at the meeting.

Obviously, Duro Bag is entitled to sell its bags and Whole Foods is entitled to stock whatever bags it wishes. But neither company should mislead the public about the environmental impact of its actions.

Americans are going green. But they need the facts to make wise decisions. Unfortunately, most of what they've been hearing about the difference between paper and plastic bags has been marketing spin. No one should decide for the consumers, armed with the facts; they will make the right choice.

Ray Haynes served in the California legislature from 1992-2006 as a Senator and Assemblyman, and was the National Chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2000.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

News Flash: Reporters Woefully Ignorant About Finance

Kudos to Matthew Vadum for exposing the intellectual laziness of Reuters, in its attacks against payday loans. Rather than do some modest research, or even display a modicum of objectivity, Reuters (like many other news organizations) would rather attack these loans. Never mind the millions of people who use these services, or the independent studies that support the use of payday lending as a vital means of financial support. Thankfully, Vadum lets readers know that Reuters has a partisan agenda -- an agenda that comes at the expense of truth and decent reporting. For shame.

Matthew Vadum writes:

As a recovering journalist, it has always amazed me how little journalists, even those specializing in financial reporting, know about the basic principles of economics. Similarly, it has always fascinated me how otherwise reasonable reporters can be reduced to self-righteous anti-capitalist ideologues, spouting the kind of anti-market drivel that one might have heard at a Communist Party meeting in the 1930s.

Nowadays journalists routinely attack lenders who take a chance on the poor. Take the case of “‘Pay day’ loans exacerbate housing crisis,” an article by Nick Carey of Reuters. In it, Carey lectures his readers, identifying with certainty what is making the “housing crisis” worse. The culprit he identifies is the payday lending industry, a subset of the subprime sector so regularly vilified by liberals, including Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Subprime lenders are the Devil incarnate to the mainstream media, and especially so when people are nervous about the economy. The media is currently saturated with stories about subprime lending, or as liberals usually call it, “predatory lending.” Press stories typically start with a profile of a poor person down on his luck who takes out a loan at a high interest rate. Or perhaps the story is about a homebuyer stretched to the limit who takes out a loan at what seems to be an initial low interest rate. The story then describes how after a time the unfortunate borrower is stuck with exorbitant fees and crippling monthly payments, having failed to understand the terms of the loan or anticipate changing economic conditions.

The Reuters article treats all payday borrowers as victims, oppressed by America’s evil capitalist system. Carey bases his article almost entirely on anecdotal evidence and on statements by activists with an axe to grind: apart from the borrowers themselves, every single person or group quoted in the article is at the left end of America’s political spectrum. Carey also confuses cause with effect, ignoring the possibility that homeowners facing foreclosure may already be doomed financially by the time they head to the local money mart for a payday loan.

By the way, a payday loan is a short-term unsecured loan typically for a very small amount. Think of it as consumer bridge financing on a small scale. The idea is for borrowers to repay the principal and interest (and any applicable service charges) on their next payday. Such loans are easy to obtain. For example, allows loan applicants in Arizona and California to apply online by filling out a fairly simply form.

Payday lenders charge a significant premium in the form of interest to such borrowers, who are typically not creditworthy and often poor – sometimes very poor. If payday borrowers can’t get the money they really, really, really need, they have to go without, or seek illicit financing.

The stench of socialism permeates the article, in which Robert H. Frank, an economics professor at Cornell University, is quoted saying giving out payday loans is the same as “handing a suicidal person a noose.” Such loans “lead to more bankruptcies and wipe out people’s savings, which is bad for the economy.” Deregulation of the financial services industry in the 1990s is to blame, Frank says. Translation: bigger government is the solution because people can’t be trusted to run their own lives.

Left out of the article was the fact that Professor Frank has long been a cheerleader for activist government. Frank’s website links to his published works, among them gems such as “The Income Gap Grows” (Philadelphia Inquirer, November 27, 2005), “Overrated: Repeal of the Estate Tax” (New York Times, December 27, 2003), and a guilt-tripping ode to tax increases entitled “Which Do We Need, Bigger Cars or Better Schools?” (NYT, July 31, 1999).

Carey quotes Uriah King, a policy staffer at the Durham, North Carolina-based Center for Responsible Lending. “We’re hearing from around the country that many folks are buried deep in pay day loan debts as well as struggling with their mortgage payments,” King says. This is anecdotal evidence from a group that treats market fluctuations as an excuse for government intervention in the marketplace. Not surprisingly, the Center, and other groups pushing for a crackdown on payday lending, take big grants from left-wing funders that don’t trust people to run their own lives. From 2002 to 2005, the Center accepted $100,000 from George Soros’s Open Society Institute, $100,000 from the Ford Foundation, $150,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation, and $500,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. (For more on the Center for Responsible Lending, see “Demonizing Subprime Lenders: Liberal Groups Oppose Consumer Choice,” by Melanie Sans and Matthew Vadum, in Organization Trends, October 2007, published by Capital Research Center.)

Whole Foods & Whole Truth

Whole Foods needs to change its name to "Whole Foods, Half Truth." The company is promoting its use of 100% recycled paper bags, when the reality is far different than this piece of corporate PR. There is nothing new - repeat: nothing new - to this announcement, as if Whole Foods is somehow a revolutionary brand taking great risks for the benefit of the environment. Give me a break! In truth, tons of supermarkets nationwide use 100% recycled paper bags -- without misleading consumers or seeking accolades from a gullible press corps. Folks, please educate yourselves on this matter lest you fall victim to another cheap promotional stunt from a company that wants your money.

Melissa Goldberg posts:

In January Whole Foods announced that it would stop offering its customers plastic bags by Earth Day 2008 (April 22). While I initially commended the company for taking such a great initiative to reduce our landfills and stop clogging our waterways of plastic, they are now proudly offering their customers 100% recycling paper bags. 100% recycled? You mean the bags are made from the paper we put on our curbside?

Whole Foods, let's be honest. Yes you are a great company, and sell great products, but this claim is deceptive to your consumer who think of you as the authority on everything good for you and the environment.

As child of a printing family, the 100% recycled paper bags now offered at Whole Foods got me thinking. Growing up, I used to go to my dad's printing plant and see paper scraps left over from the printing process being sent back to be recycled. This was standard practice.

So when I went food shopping recently at Whole Foods and saw the paper bags, I had to question it. 100% recycled, really? What percentage is really from waste from the consumer? Or curbside recycling?

Well, according a Whole Foods public relations representative, the recycled fiber content is 40% post consumer and 60% post industrial (waste). She stated, "we (Whole Foods) are excited to be moving away from any virgin fiber materials in our paper bags."

Post consumer? Post industrial? What does that mean? Well, listen-up.

Post-consumer waste is paper that has been purchased and used by the consumer (you and me) and recycled by the municipal and private sector recycling system -- curbside recycling. What we the public accept has the definition of recycled.

Post-industrial waste is otherwise known as pre-consumer waste. It is the reintroduction of manufacturing scrap (trimmings from paper production) back into the manufacturing process. Basically it is the paper made out of paper trimmings and scraps left over from the manufacturing process. Just like I saw in my dad's printing plant more than 20 years ago.

Pre-consumer, or as Whole Foods calls it post-industrial, is used in the manufacturing industry and in the traditional sense, is not considered recycled. For decades, pre-consumer paper waste has been recycled. The paper was never marked recycled because manufacturers never got credit for it. But in the 1980's when the demand for recycled paper began to rise, producers began to claim pre-consumer waste as recycled fiber. However, there had been no change in their manufacturing practices.

Paper grocery bags are customarily made of pre-consumer (post-industrial) recycled paper -- from 40-90% of the material. So in reality, Whole Foods is not doing anything new. It is basically a "green" public relations stunt to make them look better in the marketplace. This is a practice known as "greenwashing" and as a committed environmentalist, I find it a bit offensive.

Forty percent post-consumer waste, that is it? A company like Whole Foods who has based their entire brand and position in the marketplace as being better for you, better for the environment, can do better or a least be honest about their claims. Nowhere on the bag does it reveal any of this information.

Come on Whole Foods, give us the Whole Truth.

To learn more about federal guidelines for the use of environmental marketing claims go to the Federal Trade Commission site.