Why I’m Never Signing Up for Amazon Prime

By The Verge’s Vlad Savov.

Savov’s rationale is convincing. Among his arguments:

“Deals suck. Discounted goods are bad for me, as a consumer, because they nudge me into buying things I don’t need just to be frugal and collect the massive “saving” inherent in the discount. That’s how I’ve ended up with a collection of pristine, totally unworn sneakers that seemed too cheap to pass up.”

And:

“Free delivery is never free. Amazon Prime makes it unbelievably easy to shop unthinkingly. You can just order up a ton of things of the same class, try them all out, and return the majority, keeping only one. That phenomenon has been so prominent with clothes that Amazon formalized it with the introduction of Amazon Prime Wardrobe last month. But for each of those back and forth trips, there’s a truck, a boat, a plane out there, pushing stuff around the world for the sake of our sheer indulgence and indecision. I don’t care how anyone rationalizes this, I consider it wasteful and polluting and not something I want to contribute to.”

Also:

“Amazon’s employment practices are shit. . . . It was the subject of an undercover BBC Panorama documentary a few years ago, and reports of exploitative working conditions at Amazon warehouses persist. Everything about Prime that feels unbelievably cheap is only so because of the unbelievably cheap way that Amazon deals with the people discharging its duties.”

The only problem with Savov’s essay is his overly soft landing.

“I don’t expect anyone to follow or join me in resisting Amazon’s primal pull toward Prime. You’ve got your own priorities in life and, in all honesty, nobody’s going to fix global injustice by disregarding Prime Day and taking a nice walk outside instead.”

Vlad, I will happily follow you by continuing to resist the lure of Amazon Prime. And I’ll take a nice walk outside too.

On Travel 2

Today, the Good Wife and I have been married for 29 years, 11 months, and 18 days. Fairly confident we’ll make it to three zero, we’re planning a celebration of marital endurance bliss for a week and a half from now. Given assorted responsibilities we can’t shake, we’re temporarily tabling a trip to a Spanish speaking country in favor of a nearby quick hit.

Meaning Portland, Oregon.

Read and/or watch the New York Times depiction of the Rose City and then dig this person’s comment which I’m assigning an “A+”:

“It’s a very pretty video. Please forgive my peeve. Some of us aren’t cheering.

It’s the weirdest feeling to have lived somewhere your whole life and suddenly feel like a stranger. The aggressively smug city in the video is not Portland as many of us know it (or knew–past tense–and loved it). Portland is unrecognizable to me, anymore. Portland was a decided introvert until fairly recently; a dark, foggy haven for privacy-loving people, many of them genuine eccentrics–not the braying and proud ‘Portland Weird’ of now.

The self-satisfied extrovert it has become is due mainly to hype and an internet-fed culture of rootlessness and restlessness (“I can do better!”), spawning quality-o’-life-seeking newcomers looking to reinvent themselves and put their stamp on what too many have regarded as a tabula rasa, ignoring what existed before they arrived to ‘improve’ it.

The noisy eagerness with which new lookalike (mostly white, mostly moneyed) arrivals and discoverers advertise and idealize the city feels like an extension of FB-fed narcissism and now-epidemic attention seeking. “I found it! I discovered it! Look what I did!” Portland makes a great FB post, a great tweet, a great NY Times feature. It reflects well on mememe. Aren’t we all clever for discovering this place? We are curators!

“Authentic” is not a word I’d use to describe Portland now. And I always thought relentless self congratulation was the antithesis of ‘cool.'”

How does one add to that? It’s not just a very thoughtful take-down of the NYT, it’s a trenchant critique of our penchant for superficial travel.

What We Want

Decent pay and benefits to take the family to a beisbol game on Memorial Day weekend and to be able to go to a doctor or dentist as needed. No small feat anymore.

Compensation and benefits communicate how much an employer values it employees, but employees need less tangible signs of respect and appreciation as well. Specifically, they need reminders that their work matters. That they make a positive difference, that the team wouldn’t be as effective without them. The more specific and genuine the words of encouragement, the more influential.

Along with decent compensation and affirmation, employees want to be listened to. They want a voice in decision-making. They want to be asked, “What do you think? Why?”

It’s not that complicated—compensation, affirmation, participation.

Peak United States

How do we know if we’re in decline? What are signs of slippage? Do mirrors help? What about comparisons to other people and places?

What psychological barriers prevent us from acknowledging our decline?

Why, despite being very well educated and very comfortable with numbers, do I not understand our tax system well enough to prepare my family’s taxes? Why do I have to pay an expert to prepare them?

Why are there 1,000+ deductions? Why is Congress so susceptible to accounting firms’ lobbyists? And realtors’ lobbyists? Why hasn’t there been meaningful tax reform since 1986? Why does our tax accounting system benefit members of Congress more than their constituents? Why do well-to-do, stock owning citizens, pay less in taxes than others? Why do most other developed countries have far more simple, fair, and efficient tax systems? Why aren’t more people agitating for answers to that question? Why have citizens allowed their representatives to defend the status quo for 30+ years?

Why, despite being very well educated and very comfortable with numbers, do I not understand my health insurance? Why am I told what my doctor visit, biopsies, surgical consultation, and minor surgeries all cost a few weeks afterwards? What if restaurants didn’t have menus, but instead, just told you what you owed after you ate? Why are there initial charges and secondary “what insurance allows” charges? Why does Kaiser-Permanente make me go to a “surgery consultation” when the surgeon said it was unnecessary, “but Seattle won’t let us do our own scheduling”? Why was I charged $206 for the unnecessary 20 minute “consultation”?

Why is Congress so beholden to medical insurance lobbyists? Why do many other developed countries have far more simple, comprehensive, and efficient health insurance systems? Why are so many citizens resigned to health insurance pricing and paperwork lunacy? Why do citizens continue to elect representatives who preserve the medical insurance status quo?

How does anyone of sound mind claim that the U.S. is “the greatest country on God’s green earth” when our tax and health insurance systems are fucked up way beyond our compromised legislative body’s ability to fix them?

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The New Status Symbol

“The new status symbol,” according to a doctor at UC Berkeley, “is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body.” Can you guess? Need another clue?

“For years, studies upon studies have shown how bad sleep weakens the immune system, impairs learning and memory, contributes to depression and other mood and mental disorders, as well as obesity, diabetes, cancer and an early death.”

The rest of the story is here.

 

Revenge of the Sand Castle Builders

 

Major props to the California Coastal Commission or “C3” if you’re cool.

From the LATimes.

For decades, some Malibu property owners have made it hard for the public to reach public beaches.

On Thursday, the California Coastal Commission fined two of those property owners more than $5.1 million for denying surfers, sand castle builders, kite flyers, sun bathers, yoga enthusiasts and other beachgoers access to the sand that is theirs by state law.

In one of those decisions, the commission had battled for nine years with Dr. Warren M. Lent and his wife, Henny, before unanimously approving Thursday’s cease-and-desist order for the couple and fining them about $4.2 million for diverting a public easement to private use at an expensive oceanfront rental they own at Las Flores Beach.

Commissioners described the Lent case as “very egregious” and a “flagrant violation” of state law because the couple had long refused a commission request to remove an unauthorized gate, fence, stairway and deck that blocked an easement required by a coastal development permit issued to a previous owner. The fine was far more than the $950,000 recommended by the agency’s staff.

“This represents an attitude we often see in Malibu — that the shore is our private backyard,” said Commissioner Mark Vargas, who made the motion at Thursday’s hearing for a $4.185-million fine. “It’s clear that they are dragging this on as long as they can and damaging the public’s right to use the beach.”

In the second action, commissioners approved an amicable settlement with the owners of the Malibu Beach Inn at Carbon Beach, which is known as “Billionaires’ Beach.”

Under the agreement, owners Simon and Daniel Mani, who are West Hollywood real estate investors, must build two long-required stairways to the sand, install a $425,000 signalized crosswalk near the hotel and pay $200,000 in fines as well as $300,000 to a local conservation agency.

The penalties are the first that the powerful land use agency has imposed on property owners for violating beach access provisions of the California Coastal Act.

I just hope DByrnes doesn’t antagonize the Sand Castle Builders of O.C.

This is one of those situations where the joke almost writes itself. . . Dr. Warren M. and his wife will be giving up about $4.2m for Lent next spring. Power to the people.

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Have Liberals Lost Their Mind?

Maybe we have. A homeowner in Northern Virginia took to a popular DC area parent forum:

We live in a fairly liberal part of town. Are putting house on market next week. Our next door neighbors, who we don’t know well, just put up a Trump sign-only one in the neighborhood. We are afraid this will scare off potential buyers. Do we ask neighbors to take sign down?

So pathetic a question. Imagine the horror of having to live next to a Trump supporter, the uncontrollable groping, the giant Wall to keep out ethnic looking neighbors, the constant coming and going of Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and Rudy Giuliani. Probably best to get the Homeowners’ Association to write an Anti-Trump covenant. Nip this madness in the bud.

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