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Government Recalls 50,000 Babies

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Backlog of manufacturing expected; China, India to provide replacements

Amazon boxWashington, DC, November 24 – Accumulating reports of defects among the approximately four million babies delivered in the US over the last year has prompted federal authorities to issue a recall notice for all children delivered between January and September of this year.

An apparent spike in defect reports became visible in March, when parents began reporting in higher-than-average numbers that their newborn children were not performing to standard. Of special concern, say regulators, was the frequency with which the units were emitting noxious substances from various orifices, which evidently attests to some sort of malfunction and indicated a serious quality control problem on the production line.

While the recall is underway, the six major plants in the US where babies are produced will scale back production, at least until the source of the malfunction can be identified and fixed. Demand for new babies will be satisfied through the importation of units from Asia, mostly China and India, where the surplus of babies has rendered them affordable to American would-be parents, import duties notwithstanding. Domestic trade groups have been pushing for strict controls on imports of foreign babies, but the inability of American baby plants to meet demand has forced those groups to accept a temporary lifting of import limits.

If previous episodes of this nature serve as any indication, say experts, no long-term damage to the American baby-manufacturing sector is to be anticipated. “Some smaller outfits might suffer, but those enterprises don’t seem to be affected by the current quality problems, so they might escape unscathed,” says Hugh Mantraffic-King, a consultant with ties to the industry. “In fact we’re likely to see several of the small-time baby producers step up their game and assert themselves while the big-name manufacturers are unable to produce.”

The most recent recall prior to this one occurred in the 1980’s, when parents began reporting abnormally high levels of autism and other developmental issues in their toddlers. That crop of babies had been manufactured primarily in California and Texas, leading to a months-long, acrimonious lawsuit that ended with a class-action settlement and a fine paid by Storx, then the leading baby manufacturer. Storx filed for bankruptcy in 1990.

In the 1960’s and 70’s, parents demanded the right to return their children after the latter began engaging in obviously defective behavior such as transcendental meditation, wearing bell-bottom trousers, and listening to disco “music.” However, no recall took place, as the units in question were past the warranty period when those defects were observed.

Written by Thag

November 24, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Facebook Acquires Hamas: Tool In Further Emotional Manipulation Studies

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FacebookMountain View, CA, Augist 6 – In a follow up paper to Facebook’s controversial emotional manipulation study, Facebook researchers have found that posts reporting and commenting on military or terrorist actions overseas have a statistically significant impact on people’s moods.

In the methodology section of the paper, the authors described how the company quietly acquired Hamas for one billion dollars, and then proceeded to direct the timing and location of missile strikes and air raids. The acquisition bad been previously reported in the press as a hitherto inexplicable purchase of WhatsApp.

To continue reading click here.

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August 6, 2014 at 10:01 pm

“Backwash” Body Soap Selling Poorly

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shampoo bottleRochester, NY, May 29 – Procter and Gamble executives expressed disappointment this week when initial sales figures fro their new Backwash body soap proved negligible.

Company analysts had expected the product to sell relatively well on the strength of the product’s novelty and a campaign targeting the coveted 25-35-year-old demographic. However, the campaign seems to have little effect, and retailers are reporting only a handful of sales throughout the Northeast and Midwest regions.

The Backwash campaign highlights the product’s enzymes, which are suspended in a special formulation containing certain proteins such as amylase, which breaks down a set of common but complex organic molecules. The body wash produces a thicker, frothier foam when water is scarce, a contrast with other shampoos and soaps that froth best with a higher minimum level of moisture. The dry frothing was a feature that the company had hoped would translate into a selling point, emphasizing the water-saving advantages that Procter & Gamble calculated would appeal to the ecologically-minded Millennial demographic.

“We don’t yet know exactly where we went wrong,” said brand manager Abel Spitz. “The focus groups were pretty clear on the fact that this body wash’s features were promising, and that the design and color of the packaging was eye-catching and bright. We had a fabulous slogan for the ad campaign, so it’s going to take some more granular data analysis to get to the bottom of this.” The “Spray It, Don’t Say It” campaign launched in February, with ads on billboards, in print media, online, and a sprinkle of spots on network TV.

Spitz hopes his other brands make up for the losses generated by the Backwash failure. He also oversees a whitening toothpaste called Tartar Sauce and a nasal decongestant called Gland Opening. Even if they do well, says Spitz, “this one is hard to swallow.”

 

Also see PreOccupied Territory.

Written by Thag

May 29, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Report: Phone Menu Options Have Changed

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menu optionLansing, Michigan, May 12 – Callers to the law offices of DuBois & Fernandez are being told by the automated answering system that the menu options have changed, city residents are reporting today.

The firm, which mostly handles real estate transactions, has apparently altered the contents of the menu. To prevent callers from selecting their desired extensions out of habit and reaching the wrong person by mistake, the partners instructed the technology consulting firm that handles their communications to alert callers to the changes.

People who called today in fact took note of the message, but as of 1 p.m. local time Monday, none were able to determine what menu options had changed. “It sounds the same to me,” said Rita Sciortino, who was attempting to reach Jake Riddleman, a junior partner advising her on the sale of her home.

Jamal Rashad, an office supplies deliveryman, agreed. “I sat through the whole thing like three times this morning, just to make sure I got the right extension, and it was all a waste of time,” he said.

Others took the change in stride. “What? People actually listen to the menu?” wondered Isabella Diaz, a client. “I just hit ‘zero’ at the first opportunity so I can speak to a human. I hate those systems.”

Similar developments occurred last year when a social services department of the state government instituted a similar change, although in that case the difference was noticeable because although the system options appeared to remain the same, the voice guiding callers through the process was clearly different.

“They used to have this sweet-sounding lady, but now it’s almost robot-like,” complained Henry Watkins, who was trying to arrange a social worker visit for his disabled grandson. “I do hope that lady is OK. Do you think she found a better job, so they had to hire somebody else to read the menu?”

A spokesman for PCC Communications, the consulting firm implementing the change for DuBois & Fernandez, said they had yet to reprogram the system with the changes.

Written by Thag

May 12, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Scientists Discover Non-Scowling, Non-Yelling Parent At Walmart

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WalmartMahwah, New Jersey, March 27 – Researchers studying the population of one of the largest retail chains in the US were shocked today to discover the occurrence of a parent shopping there who was not interacting negatively with the children in tow.

Observing the customers at the Walmart here for a doctoral thesis, sociologists Mor Bidley-O’Beese and Trey Lertrache spotted a man in his thirties escorted by three children under the age of ten, each of whom seemed to be content. At first assuming that the lack of fighting, throwing, vandalism, running around/away, and whining was attributable to the children being medicated, the researchers soon realized, to their puzzlement, that in fact the group was inherently polite and well-behaved. Such a family grouping has not been previously documented at Walmart.

“The initial observation of the subject in question naturally led us to the conclusion that some pharmacological component was necessary to explain the behavior of the children,” said Lertrache. “We had no precedent for a non-dysfunctional dynamic in this environment.” It was only after they witnessed the non-ironic use of such terms as “please,” “may we?” and “here, you can use mine” that Lertrache and Bidley-O’Beese began to realize the anomaly they had encountered.

“We had been unaware that such a creature existed in this habitat,” said Bidley-O’beese. “No previous studies have found an intra-Walmart parent-child framework that was not riddled with passive or outright aggression; raised voices; snappy retorts; sarcastic remarks; verbal abuse; or borderline physical abuse.”

A further anomaly occurred when the family in question intentionally spent time in the dental and personal hygiene aisle. “In our experience, that’s generally a pass-through-it-to-get-to-the-snacks kind of aisle,” noted branch manager Iona Methlab. “It doesn’t get much in the way of people heading there to get an item on their shopping list.” She said others have stopped in that aisle before, especially seniors looking for denture cleaning materials, but certainly no families had headed there initially.

At press time, the family was waiting at the checkout line without berating the cashier and the people ahead of them not to take all day.

Written by Thag

March 27, 2014 at 8:34 am

Tobacco Executives Perplexed That Drug Chain Won’t Sell Their Drug

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CVSWoonsocket, Rhode Island, February 6 – The heads of America’s largest tobacco companies are scratching their heads at a decision by CVS, the nation’s largest pharmacy chain, to stop selling cigarettes, wondering why the drug they sell is somehow different from all the others.

CVS announced yesterday that as of October 1 it would cease to stock cigarettes, which represent $1.5 billion annually in revenue. The company announced the move as part of a strategic shift toward a healthier image. Executives from RJ Reynolds, Altria, and British American Tobacco, three of the world’s largest cigarette sellers, professed confusion over the move, noting that the active ingredient in product they manufacture is nicotine, a bona fide drug.

“We are as yet unsure how to formally react,” said a Vice President at Altria who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I mean, tobacco is basically nicotine in smoking form, and nicotine is a drug. CVS is a drug store. They sell drugs. What am I missing here?”

CVS’s 7,600 retail outlets represent the US’s largest pharmacy network. Recent years have seen the chain offer an increasing variety of low-cost healthcare services, attracting consumers and insurance providers alike with costs noticeably lower than those at hospitals and health clinics. In keeping with its emerging image as health-oriented, CVS elected to forgo the tobacco revenue in favor of a more wellness-friendly image that it calculates will more than make up for the loss in sales. However, the pharmacies will still sell such dangerous items as razor blades and abuse-prone substances, which the tobacco executives see as puzzling.

“They sell cosmetics, some of which can be positively lethal if ingested, so clearly this isn’t a health-based decision,” said a British-American Tobacco VP. “And they traffic heavily in greasy, salty, fatty, and sugary snack foods, which means that any claim that the move is specifically motivated by long-term health concerns doesn’t seem to hold up,” he added.

“It might be some warped considerations of painting tobacco companies as peddlers of evil, but really, why would anybody think that?” wondered the executive.

Written by Thag

February 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Batteries For Sale (Batteries Not Included)

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Batteries Not Included - New Page

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February 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Report: You’ll Never Make It As A Writer

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suicideNew York, January 29 – An analysis of the data available to date indicates that you have no hope of earning a living as a writer, let alone breaking into the big-time.

A new study that interpreted the information on the writing field, your talent, available opportunities for exposure, and competition from established or moneyed entities led the researchers to conclude that not only will your efforts to establish a career  as a blogger fail, they will do so in such a fashion you will be continually confronted with doubts regarding your worth and identity. You might be able to console yourself with the notion that at least the fruits of your creative impulses have been preserved for posterity, but that will prove cold comfort in the face of the overwhelming futility of your writing enterprise and the long odds of future generations caring at all.

Although the researchers recommend that you immediately cease pouring such time and energy into a fruitless pursuit, they also found that you would not heed such advice, and would proceed to double down on that investment, digging yourself into an ever-deepening cycle of disappointment, redoubled efforts, frustration, and self-doubt.

“There’s no way anybody can compete with the big boys for the online eyeballs,” said Arthur Buzzfeed, the lead researcher. “The established media companies can afford to spend big on exposure, whereas small-time operators can hope for, at best, an occasional item that makes the rounds on social media before fading away.” As a result, says Buzzfeed, your efforts will be stymied, but not in such an immediately convincing way that you will be prompted to pursue other, actually productive, outlets.

Social media expert Mark Zuckerberg agreed that the fate awaiting you involves pathetic stretches of time during which you will repeatedly refresh the browser tab that shows your visitor stats, hoping in vain for an uptick in traffic. “Alternatively, those periods will be spent staring at the Google Analytics real-time traffic monitor, with the horror and dread building as the minutes tick by and the big, black zero remains on the screen.”

According to Buzzfeed, that mix of negative emotions will be multiplied by the petty frustrations that confront all users, such as spotty internet connectivity: with every interruption of connectivity you will become convinced that you are missing some redeeming spike in visitor stats, “which will culminate in the crushing realization, when the wifi signal returns, that no one has been interested the whole time,” he explained.

At press time, you were laughing at this article and thinking how well it applied to several other people you know, but definitely not to you.

Written by Thag

January 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Twisted Sister Not Going To Take It

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Were_Not_Gonna_Take_ItSan Bernardino, CA (AP) – Fed up with the stifling environment in which they have been forced to function, the heavy-metal rock ensemble known as Twisted Sister has announced they no longer intend to take it.

The three-minute-and-thirty-eight-second announcement touched on several points, chief among them that the group has reached the limits of its tolerance for the hypocrisy inherent in so much of the adult world. But the list of grievances included objections to repressive, enforced adherence to certain conventions and the cynicism that such coercion breeds. As an example of such cynicism the ensemble pointed to alleged attempts to buy their silence with money.

Included among the complaints were also several statements of intent beyond mere expressions of Twisted Sister having exhausted their patience for the status quo. The group intends to combat the situation actively, and called the attention of the powers that be to that very intent, specifically noting that manifest visual evidence of the effort to resist will be available.

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed, with supporters of the band – known colloquially as SMFs – hailing its boldness and defiant tone, and detractors voicing concern for the apparent lack of reverence for authority that the announcement and its accompanying video. Apparently to illustrate the sincerity and scope of their intent, Twisted Sister produced audiovisual documentation of what appear to be instances of youths resisting authority as the band cheers them on; it remained unclear at the time of the announcement whether the footage represented actual events of Not Taking It Anymore on the part of those youths, or whether the incidents were staged merely to emphasize the depth of the ensemble’s emotion.

Critics of the band’s announcement and its tone have said they intend to hold hearings on the threat the content of the video poses to impressionable minds; band member Dee Snider all but dared the authorities to do so, saying he would gladly testify before any such committee, if only to demonstrate for the nation exactly the controlling, repressive sate of affairs against which he and his colleagues were protesting.

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January 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Agency Surprised By Backlash Against Ads Mocking Fat Kids

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fat kid ad

The ad reads, “When your child gets fat, his smile gets smaller.” Not shown: the McDonald’s ad on the sign’s opposite side, touting the array of “SuperSize” offerings.

Tel Aviv (AP) – Publicity firm JCDecaux was taken aback by the completely unforeseen reaction to an advertising campaign that distorted the images of children to make them look excessively overweight. The company found itself unexpectedly on the defensive after large swaths of the public expressed disgust at a campaign intended to draw attention to the growing problem of obesity in children, a campaign that revolved around mocking images of fat kids, a development no one in the organization foresaw.

In a statement, JCDecaux apologized for its strategy, saying it had no idea anyone could find offense in the notion that fat children should be mocked. It attempted to explain its actions by noting that no one had ever thought overweight children might suffer disparagement of their girth, so naturally the firm could not expect the public to object to such a series of depictions.

The campaign, plastered on billboards throughout the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, was scheduled to end next week, but the company removed the ads yesterday, replacing them with a self-congratulatory statement about having succeeded in raising awareness of the issue, as if only a small portion of public was aware of children who take up more space, and thus are more visible, than other children. The statement also called on the viewers to make the next move, as if JCDecaux’s job were done, without an indication as to what any “next move” might be.

JCDecaux-Israel’s spokeswoman Mor Bidlio-Beese said the campaign targeted the parents of overweight children, emphasizing the social pitfalls of obesity related to appearance and gait, and the disparagement that such awkwardness would attract. What the firm did not count on, she said, was that people would defend their fellow humans from just that sort of disparagement, pointing out that the last thing an obese child, who already suffers from low self image and motivation problems, needs is more negative input that only serves to make the underlying issues more severe.

“We were dumbfounded,” admitted Bidlio-Beese. “Since when does anyone care about fat people?”

Her remarks to reporters were the source of a second round of opprobrium from all corners, including a Facebook campaign to have Ms. Bidlio-Beese dismissed. Company executives have declined to comment, merely issuing a second press release accusing the media of focusing wrongly focusing on JCDecaux as the story instead of the tens of thousands of obese children in the country who require constant browbeating so they will finally get off their ample derrieres and do something to shed that weight.

Written by Thag

January 9, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Nigerian Prince With Fortune To Give Away Laments Impostors

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Nigerian cookies

Lagos, Nigeria (AP) – Mgumbe Uwa, a member of the deposed Nigerian royal family, has found himself increasingly frustrated in attempts to give away millions of dollars to total strangers, as part of an effort to recover the royal fortune.

To Mr. Uwa’s amazement, there have been no takers on his offer of largess.

“I would gladly give anyone TEN MILLION DOLLARS,” said a visibly confused Uwa. “How about you?” he asked a reporter. “Can I give you TEN MILLION DOLLARS?”

The prince, whose family was deposed in a bloody coup, remains in hiding and cannot openly access the tens of millions of dollars in his bank accounts. He planned to convince someone overseas to accept a transfer into their account, figuring he could then spirit the money out of the country. But the plan hit an unexpected snag – complete and utter disinterest from all potential recipients of the money.

“I just can’t understand it,” said the baffled Uwa. “Any one of the people whom I SPECIALLY SELECTED for their TRUSTWORTHINESS could GET RICH QUICK, if they would only ACT IMMEDIATELY IN COMPLETE CONFIDENCE. But nothing.”

“And here I am, knowing that the entire FORTUNE of my late father, his EXCELLENCY KING UWA IV, is just sitting there in that SECRET TAX-FREE account. I feel like such an idiot.”

Mr. Uwa began sending out discreet mailings to everyday Americans and Europeans, hoping to locate someone willing to accept the cash into their account, and to keep a sizable cut of the money. Assuming that the country’s secret police would be unlikely to examine bank records of ordinary people, as opposed to prominent individuals with ties to the old regime, he set out to give away a veritable windfall – so far, without success.

Despite the setbacks, Mr. Uwa remained hopeful, even expanding his efforts to include other assets.

“I recently had the GOOD FORTUNE to have my numbers come up in the UK LOTTO. Foreign nationals are not eligible, so in exchange for a small advance payment, I am happy to bequeath a SUBSTANTIAL SHARE of this GREAT WEALTH to somebody. Anybody.”

Written by Thag

December 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Lords-A-Leaping Shortage Sparks Holiday Shopping Scare

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Sith lords a leapingNew York (AP) – Retailers are warning that a serious backlog of orders for lords-a-leaping and other high-demand Christmas goods is threatening the robustness of a crucial shopping season and caused a series of near-stampedes as dozens of would-be consumers rushed to retail outlets to obtain the coveted gift items. Several online merchants also reported server volume trouble that caused at least three major sites to crash.

Major brick-and-mortar retailers and online merchants began noticing early Friday that they were having trouble fulfilling orders for the perennial gift item, with some stores, such as Macy’s and Wal-Mart, placing placards at their entrances to inform customers of Read the rest of this entry »

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December 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Benjamin Moore Introduces Booger-Color Paints

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booger paintMontvale, New Jersey (AP) – Seeking to tap into parental frustration over their children’s apparent addiction to spreading the contents of their noses on every available surface, the paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore & Company has begun marketing a line of paints to match the colors and textures of dried human nasal mucus.

The Pick-A-Paint series includes twenty-five different shades and five textures. With the selection, Benjamin Moore hopes to capitalize on the Sisyphean enterprise of keeping the walls of a house clean while children under the age of 14 inhabit it. Instead of actually trying to wipe – or, more likely, scrape – boogers off the wall, parents will now be able to paint entire walls or rooms the color of mucus and subsequently ignore the camouflaged boogers.

“Everyone can breathe more easily with Pick-A-Paint,” reads the company’s press release announcing the product launch. “Parents will love the convenience of never having to see these unpleasant sights on the walls. Children will never have to worry about waiting the excruciating twelve seconds it might take to get to the nearest available tissue to free up their nasal passages. And we at Benjamin Moore will be thrilled to know we’ve contributed to humanity by eliminating a major source of tension between parents and children.”

Company executive Dryden Crustee disclosed in an interview that Benjamin Moore expects certain selections from the new series to fare better than others. “There’s obvious demand for brownish-ocher-green with dark flecks,” he said, explaining that numerous focus groups of parents had ranked as “most disturbing” the discovery of blackish booger remnants festooning the walls above their children’s beds. “But we also found that some parents would appreciate the occasional shiny streak, to help mask the smears that inevitably result from some methods of booger disposal.”

Also available will be chunky streaks of red to mimic the occasional bloody boogers that parents often find, and paints that flake ever so slightly to replicate the texture and experience that wet mucus provides after it dries.

Benjamin Moore intends to roll out distribution of the new paints in January, initially along the eastern seaboard and gradually moving westward through 2014 and 2015. The parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, expects the stock price of Benjamin Moore to increase following the release of the products, betting that the appeal of Pick-A-Paint will stick.

Written by Thag

November 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Midianites Regret Not Getting Receipt For Purchase Of Joseph

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20 silver piecesMemphis, Egypt (AP) – Despite getting a good deal on the purchase of a Hebrew youth, a group of Midianite traders is having second thoughts after spending the last several hundred miles listening to the boy prattle on about sheaves, stars, and dreams.

The caravan, on its way to Egypt, was transporting spices and fragrances to sell there when they encountered a group of herders near the Central Canaanite town of Dothan offering a healthy-looking, seventeen-year-old named Joseph for sale at the too-good-to-believe price of twenty silver pieces. Despite the low price, the traders found no physical defects in the youth, and decided to pool their cash to sell this Joseph at a handsome profit once they reached their destination. Read the rest of this entry »

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November 19, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Buzzword-Spouting Executive Ready To Take It To Next Level

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buzzwords

New York (AP) – Ellis MacGreggor, an Engagement Specialist at the marketing firm BS Solutions, has his sights set on the holy grail of business speak: a seat on the board of the corporation, where he will be on the runway to an open field of self-perpetuating business lingo endeavors.

BS’s core competencies have always included leveraging its value-added touchpoints toward the quick-win scenario of peeling back the onion. Where MacGeggor sees an opening, however, is in the out-of-the-box thinking he could bring to cross-platform sustainability, especially where it involves mashups of hyperlocal cat-herding. Read the rest of this entry »

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November 5, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Factory Farm Chickens Appalled At Conditions In Airline Coach

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crowdedPottsville, Iowa (AP) The chickens of Lot No. A44933BD-L7H1 at the Agriprocessors factory farm expressed revulsion today at the conditions under which humans are crowded in the coach section of civilian aircraft for transport.

Terming the practice “barbaric” and “unconscionable,” the birds called on the airline industry to immediately modify its practices to provide the humans with individual space that would meet minimum dignity requirements and food that does not demand  a complete abandonment of aesthetic and hygienic sensibilities to consume. Read the rest of this entry »

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October 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Unable To Be First Team To Lose All Games, NY Giants Unsure How To Proceed

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NY GiantsEast Rutherford, New Jersey (AP) – The New York Giants entered the 2013 NFL season prepared to follow the leadership of quarterback Eli Manning into the record books, but soon found themselves without direction, as the achievement of losing every single game in a sixteen-game season had already been accomplished by the 2008 Detroit Lions. They subsequently won a game, calling into question the team’s ability to achieve anything epic, even anything negative. Read the rest of this entry »

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October 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Scientists Discover Wrong Way To Eat A Reese’s

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pb cupsHershey, PA (AP) – Researchers studying the properties of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup have apparently concluded that, contrary to claims made in the 1990’s, more reliable, recent data demonstrate that one can in fact directly commit a moral offense by the manner in which he goes about consuming one such candy unit.

In an article to be published in the upcoming issue of the Food journal, an industry periodical, a team of food scientists and philosophers tested diverse scenarios and assigned them a moral score based on the number of fatalities, the amount of suffering inflicted, the extent or property theft or deprivation, and the scale of rights violations that took place as a direct, unequivocal result of eating a Reese’s. Read the rest of this entry »

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October 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Bloomberg Administration to Regulate Birthday Party Goody Bag Contents

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lootNew York, NY (AP) – Continuing his efforts to employ mayoral authority to stem the rising tide of obesity, New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg launched another initiative today aimed at curtailing children’s consumption of fatty, sugary foods, this time as part of the treats traditionally distributed by the birthday celebrant to his or her departing guests.

The goody bag, or loot bag, as it is known in some quarters, traditionally contains several sweets and greasy or salty snacks, and sometimes cake or cookies. Some versions also include a small game or toy, but the focus of the new initiative – and of the kids who receive the bags – remains on the food portion of the contents.

Pending approval by the City Council, the measure would limit such bags to a single “fun size” sweet or salty treat, with the remainder of the contents comprising unprocessed fruits or vegetables and no more than 2 ounces of starchy, unsweetened material such as crackers or pretzels. Non-food items are not subject to the new legislation, and no limits would be placed on the quantity or type.

Earlier versions of the measure had a proposed mandatory inclusion of information on the importance of healthful eating habits, but according mayoral aides, Mr. Bloomberg quickly realized that such a requirement would be cumbersome and would necessitate further bureaucratic involvement to produce or approve such material and provide for its adequate distribution throughout the five boroughs.

The mayor’s previous anti-obesity initiative sought to ban the sale of large-size soft drinks. Though that measure passed the City Council, a subsequent lawsuit and opposition by the soft drink industry resulted in its cancellation. The goody bag industry does not enjoy the same financial and political clout as the soft drink companies, and experts expect the measure to remain on the books if it passes.

“Odds are this one will do well,” said N. Annie State, a political analyst for the journal Welfare Mom’s Day. “The snack food industry is too fragmented to put up much of a fight, and parents everywhere are getting more and more health-conscious.”

Other experts disagreed. “The demographic that actually puts together goody bags is not the demographic that suffers most from childhood obesity,” noted Ray Syst, who writes about diet and class issues for Time Magazine. “The people who buy the junk food in quantity are the ones who don’t have time to prepare a wholesome birthday party to begin with – they’ll just take the kid out to Burger King or some pizza place. This legislation misses the point entirely, and inconveniences people without accomplishing its goal.”

Syst said a better initiative would be to institute a minimum age for fast food items such as most states already have for tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, but acknowledges that would be an uphill fight even in regulation-friendly sates such as New York. Alternatively, he suggested, bag manufacturers could be required to print warnings regarding the dangers of overconsumption of unhealthy foods, much in the way cigarette packages must feature such a prominent label.

At press time, a crowd of several hundred parents from Park Slope, Brooklyn, were protesting the overuse of Dora the Explorer themes at birthday parties.

Written by Thag

May 29, 2013 at 9:12 pm

8:00-9:30: Existential Shame

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Schedule

Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, if you’re even capable of liking anything anymore.

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May 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Congress Raises Minimum Number of Unused Checkout Lanes

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crowdedWashington, DC (AP) – For the first time in two decades, the government has increased the minimum number of supermarket checkout lanes that must be closed at one time, raising it to 4 from 3. The law applies to supermarkets that have at least 6 checkout lanes.

The law, dubbed the American Supermarket Standard Hampering Of Line Expediency, aims to maintain a certain level of customer dissatisfaction. “If the American supermarket consumer experiences too much efficiency, we run the risk of greater spending, which in turn contributes to inflation,” explained the bill’s sponsor, Fred Upton (R-MI). “While we’re working so hard to rein in the deficit, it makes no sense for us to be encouraging freewheeling spending on the part of Mr. and Mrs. America, so this is a natural move.”

The bill passed by a large margin in both houses, owing to bipartisan disdain for people who actually have to visit supermarkets, the overwhelming majority of whom do not make political campaign contributions. Retail groups lobbied heavily in favor of the law, preferring to have the option of blaming restrictions imposed from the outside for unpleasant conditions in their stores.

A provision of the law also clarifies the procedures for “express” lanes. Under the previous law, passed in 1981, strict rules prevented supermarkets from calling anything greater than 15 items “express,” with exceptions for multiple units of the same item. Under the new law, an additional provision mandates at least two delays of at least three minutes each for each item fewer than the express ceiling.

For example, if the lane maximum is 10 items or fewer and a customer wished to purchase only seven items, the cashier will be required to find some problem that takes an extra nine minutes to resolve before he or she may complete the transaction and accept the next customer. The bill gives a list of such possible problems but allows for the supermarket management to add to the list at its discretion.

Included in the list are running out of receipt paper, deciding it is time to replenish one or more of the small change denominations, and difficulty with authorizing a particular purchase – or any other difficulty that would necessitate calling over an already-occupied management figure.

Macomb Waite-Moore, manager of a Safeway in Portland, Oregon, greeted the news of the law’s passage with circumspection. “Fact is, we’ve been doing this kind of thing for years in any case.”

Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, where the checkout policy is so liberal you can check out as many of the good-looking, non-existent cashiers as you want, at no extra charge.

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April 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Urine Connoisseurs Insulted at Comparison to American Beer

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All it's missing is a label with a cool font.

All it’s missing is a label with a cool font.

Washington, DC (AP) – People for the Imbibing of Strange Substances (PISS), a coalition of citizens devoted to the appreciation of drinking urine, expressed outrage today that the liquid they enjoy has been used to indicate inferior-tasting American beer.

At a rally on the Washington Mall this afternoon, several hundred PISS activists chanted slogans protesting the unflattering association and calling for greater awareness of how much better urine tastes than most American beer. “It’s just not right to compare it with Bud Light!” shouted the crowd, referring to a particularly low-quality product made by the Anheuser-Busch company.

“We understand that not everyone appreciates the taste of urine,” said PISS director Mick Turitian. “As with many of the finer things, it’s an acquired taste. But to go ahead and put urine in the same class as American beer, well, that’s just beyond the pale – and I don’t mean ale.”

Turitian said that in Europe, where quality beer is essentially a given, he would be disappointed, but not offended, to have an inferior grade be compared to his favorite beverage. In some cases he conceded it might even be a compliment. “But there’s no way to justify saying Miller Lite” – he paused to spit – “tastes like piss. Piss tastes a hundred times better than Miller Lite could ever hope to.”

Yuri Terr, 34, of Richmond, Virginia, also attending the rally, said the only way to get people to stop making such unfair analogies was to raise public awareness of the issue. “The beverage companies spend billions of dollars on marketing and advertising, to get people to buy their products based on image, and obviously not on taste,” he explained. “Once enough people are aware how unjust the association is, peer pressure can be brought to bear on those who, wittingly or not, put urine and American beer in the same sentence.”

The demonstrators brought samples of their favorite drink to offer passers by, but few, if any, of the onlookers accepted. A block away, a convenience store was doing a brisk business selling cases of Budweiser, Michelob and Coors.

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Written by Thag

April 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Joneses Now Unable To Keep Up With Selves

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JonesNew York, NY (AP) – The Jones family, long a symbol of the Western capitalist ethos of competitive conspicuous consumption, has announced that they can no longer serve as the field’s avatars, as their economic abilities have eroded over the course of the latest financial crisis.

Speaking to reporters at the entrance to the family home – now facing foreclosure – in the New Jersey township of Bergenfield, just over the road from the swank section of Teaneck, family patriarch Carl Jones offered a detailed account of the family’s fall from contention in neighborhood one-upmanship.

“The Nichols family across the street got a Lincoln Navigator back in ’07, and we knew we couldn’t sit idly by,” he recalled. “So we took out an additional mortgage and invested in a Lexus SUV and a Hummer H3 – but the day we took delivery the market dropped like a stone and I lost half my portfolio equity. It went downhill from there. I’ve only been working part-time, the kids’ college tuition is still sky-high – of course we sent them only to the most expensive schools – and we fell behind on the loan payments last year.”

Throughout the boom years of the 1990’s, the Jones were exemplars of visible social climbing, embarking on multiple home renovation projects and highly touted trips to exotic locales abroad. The boom years of the Clinton administration gave the Jones coffers enough of a cushion to survive the leaner times of the early part of last decade. But the ever-growing demands of showing off to the neighbors, and, more importantly, showing them up, created a large enough draw on the family assets that even the good economic times that preceded the current recession could not shield them from its effects.

The Joneses have since sold both luxury vehicles, scaled back their landscaping significantly, no longer take extensive or expensive vacations, and encourage the younger generation to find steady, if low-paying, work.

At press time, fifteen-year-old Jenna, the youngest, had accepted an offer to wash the Nichols car for $20.

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Written by Thag

March 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm

American Youth Running Out of Body Parts to Pierce

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piercedSeattle, WA (AP) – The Association of American Body Piercing, a trade group, is warning its members to expect a slowdown in demand in the coming years as American youth run out of body parts in which to make holes.

Citing statistics that point to the emerging trend, the association sent a notice to its 24,000 member practitioners that discussed the challenges soon to confront the industry as fewer and fewer American youngsters have available areas of epithelial tissue through which to stick a metal stud or other adornment. Though many piercing experts expected continued growth ever since the emergence of the punk scene decades ago, it appears that the industry has increasingly depended on repeat business from goths, misfits and just plain weirdos.

“We should have seen years ago that our business model was unsustainable,” said Loeb Needler, a tattoo and piercing parlor owner in Spokane. “But we kept looking at the total numbers, not once looking at the fact that we’ve been piercing the same people over and over again, and they’re running out of places to stick a new accessory.”

Perversely, according to the association notice, although more and more American youths are overweight or even obese, which should reflect vastly increased potential areas for piercings, the increasing prevalence of the overweight among American youth has a depressing effect on the piercing industry. Heavier people tend to be more sedentary, and thus are less likely to pay an impulse visit to a piercing studio. Also, the increased fleshiness of American youth means plentiful folds that wind up concealing or obscuring desirable piercing locations. That fleshiness both makes infection more likely and eliminates the aesthetic or social value, if any, of the piercing.

Another factor is the greater and greater reliance among American youth on social interactions in the online realm, where one can easily Photoshop as many piercings into once image as desired, but without the headache of actually undergoing what might be a permanent alteration.

Needler is not completely convinced, however, that the industry faces a mortal threat. “There have to be other people out there who aren’t obese,” he contends. “I mean, if American kids are so damn fat, who’s buying all the skinny jeans?”

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Written by Thag

March 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Scientists Confirm Your Line Always Slowest

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If successful, further research may result in having this sign tattooed to the back of your neck.

If successful, further research may result in having this sign tattooed to the back of your neck.

Cambridge, Massachusetts (AP) – A groundbreaking statistical study by MIT researchers has revealed what most people have long suspected: the supermarket, government office or toll booth queue that currently contains you will invariably be the slowest of the available lines.

The researchers observed various lines over the course of six months, recording data from supermarkets, motor vehicle bureaus, bridge and road toll lanes, post offices, public transportation stations, fast food purveyors, office supply superstores and assorted other service or retail venues. They found a 99.8% correlation between your choice of line and the slowest-moving line, well within the statistical margin of error.

The few cases in which line choice and slowness did not seem to correlate involved your shopping with a companion, when each of you took up position in separate lines, intending to join the other in the line that turned out to be quicker. In a quirk of the analysis algorithm, a tie for the slowest line, which inevitably resulted in such cases, was not recognized as a bona fide “slowest” line. Functionally, however, you ended up being served by the slowest possible line.

The researchers noted a number cases in which you switched lines even when you were alone, but the slowness kept pace. This was documented most frequently on the approach to toll booths and supermarket checkout lanes, but occurred almost as often when your car was stuck in highway traffic. Changing lanes to exploit the moving traffic in the next lane over invariably resulted in the next lane stopping, while the lane you left began moving.

“It’s an extraordinary bit of science, even though it seems to tell us something we all ‘knew’ before,” said Stu Pidd, a post-doctoral research fellow at MIT who participated in the field research. “But everything has to be tested. The same thing applied to your always having your eyes closed when the camera took a picture,” he said, referring to an earlier study that quantified how often you would ruin photographs by the simple act of timing your blinks badly (also 99.8%). In that study, everyone knew you always ruined pictures, but the scientific method provided the academic rigor.

The newest discovery opens a variety of possibilities for further research and development efficiency procedures. A proper algorithm, says Pidd, might utilize your presence to increase the efficiency of every other line in the facility. If you could be confined to a line containing only you, every other customer could be served promptly, and traffic jams would be resolved within minutes. Already, many supermarkets attempt to attract you to the slowest lane by labeling it “express,” but with mixed success.

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Written by Thag

March 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm