Fighting the Counterfeit Lego Fight on eBay

August 3, 2015 6:20pm
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This is a little frustrating because as I’m nearing the end of my Collectible Lego Minifig collection, the few minifigs that I still need (22 of 266 as of today) are all pretty rare and expensive, so I’ve been wandering the web searching for the most economical ways to help close the remaining gaps in my collection.

I picked up a few series 1 minifigs from an eBay auction last week, and also found myself irritatingly reminded about the joys of sniping as I watched three other auctions that I was in lost by pennies a piece, but I also came across a scary number of copycat minifigs from overseas sellers that makes me hesitant to order anything else Lego from eBay in the future.

Case in point #1 – I still need Bunny Suit Guy from series 7, which currently averages on Bricklink for about $35-45 … however I found a guy on eBay who’s selling lots of five of them starting at only $25…

fake_bunnyguy

Depending on the minifig, if you’re paying attention you might catch on via the posting – for example with this one, the carrot that the real Bunny Suit Guy comes with is actually orange and green in two separate pieces whereas the fake ones were made all as one orange piece…

col07-3

And of course, you should trigger your too good to be true flag for seeing a lot of one of the rarer minifigs for so cheap, but if you’re in a hurry trying to jump on cheap prices, it would be easy to see how you might not realize it until the package shows up and you’re able to take a closer look in person. The video above has some great examples to show how although they may look the same from a distance, disassembly shows that some are made exceedingly cheaply and sometimes in no way like actual Legos are made underneath the surface!

A lot of these guys get away with this stuff because although they’re directly copying popular Lego minifigs, they don’t specifically use the brand name “Lego” anywhere in their listings. A common term that I found was “custom,” but “toys” or “bricks” as the video explains are also popular keywords.

I think what makes me the most nervous though is that although it’s fairly easy to identify these lots of the same minifig … from Taiwan or China and simply overlook those, today I found “a complete set” of series 1 minifigs that’s entirely counterfeit selling for only $29.99 Buy It Now out of Hong Kong…

fake_series1

You’d be hard pressed to eyeball any errors out of that picture, which just makes it worse for genuine collectors and fans once these minifigs leak out through “custom auctions” and into the general population of things that look like Legos, but really aren’t.

It kind of makes me glad that I’m not even in the market for Mr. Gold right now because although I do eventually want one for completion’s sake, I’m honestly not sure where I’m going to find a $500+ minifig that I feel comfortable buying online! Right now Bricklink only has 5 sellers with them, all listed for at least $2,000 a piece, and maybe 4 out of 64 legit listings on eBay.

Thankfully it’ll be a while yet before I’m ready to figure that one out – maybe I can find a private seller and make arrangements to travel and meet in person for it – but as for those other 22 that I’m still after, I’d rather pay a little more for better vetted sales via Bricklink than risk getting a ripoff that’s masquerading as a bargain… 🙁

I’ve been wanting to write about my thoughts on this since I first heard about the ridiculous allegations and watched the edited video in question that depicted a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the sale of baby parts with an anonymous party.

I think this video pretty much sums up the sarcastic angle of my opinion here because if you listened to the outrage, you’d think they were literally selling baby hearts and baby lungs on the black market! I mean, seriously – I watched a clip of Sean Hannity asking whether these parts were being used for transplants…

Just to be clear – even when a fetus hits the 22nd week (roughly time when a fetus is considered viable outside of the womb), it’s about the size of a banana, making the lungs about the size of a quarter and the heart and everything else even smaller.

So what per se would we be transplanting these micro-sized organs into, anyways???

Anyways, the rational angle of my opinion comes from personal experience because my wife and I actually went through something similar two years ago with regards to the fertility treatments we went through that resulted in the birth of our son.

Our first IVF cycle produced 12 human embryos, of which only 3 ended up being viable at the 5-day mark.

2 were unsuccessful in our first attempt, and the third was frozen cryogenically for six months before being used successfully in our second attempt and eventually became our son, Christopher.

As for those other 9 embryos, however, we were given a choice.

They could either be discarded simply as medical waste, or we could donate them for scientific research.

It was one of the few decisions throughout the entire process that we didn’t even have to stop to think about because if research from our failed embryos could help in any way to make the process a little easier for people on down the road by learning more about fetal development or the effect of hormones on maternity or anything else, it was well worth it because otherwise they were just going in the trash anyways.

We had to sign special consent paperwork agreeing to this in advance, and I’m sure just like Planned Parenthood, our clinic collected a small fee for the care and transport of the fetal tissue being delivered to their research partners. It’s not like you can just take discarded embryos and throw them in a box for the UPS guy to pick up once a week! Anything under $100/specimen for professional scientific services once you factor in storage, courier services, etc… is comical to be considered “profit.”

If you want a look at what actual profiting from the illegal sale of human tissue looks like, check out this undercover investigation that VICE did over in Bangladesh about the black market trade of kidneys. Selling an adult kidney for the price of a used car is very different from selling unborn fetal tissue for medical research that was otherwise headed for the garbage…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eny6D-7f_rc

Of course, it was abundantly clear to me from the moment I heard about this controversy that the stink about Planned Parenthood isn’t really about what they do with their medical waste, it ultimately just ties back to people believing that abortion shouldn’t be legal as a medical procedure at all. Even though it’s this type of research that ultimately serves to make pregnancy safer and more viable for women around the world, and even if abortion only accounts for 3% of Planned Parenthood’s business, who also happens to provide its variety of services to 1 in 5 women in America.

If something’s too ridiculous to be true, it probably is.

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for this former banner of the south, first brought into the news by a single flag flying over the South Carolina capitol to be followed by some of the biggest retailers in the country following suit to remove merchandise bearing the symbol from their shelves as well.

And a lot of folks who’ve always been fans of the flag have been particularly pissed, citing everything from censorship to heritage and southern pride…

So I wanted to vent a few thoughts about this because I passed a couple of huge trucks on the road today – one with the Stars & Stripes hanging from the back and the other with the Confederate flag, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes because while the last couple of weeks have caused a lot of us to rethink how tolerant we are of seeing this emblem around us, there are clearly still others – and there will always be others – who only see what they want to see.

First of all, the easy part of the equation – the flag flying above the state capitol in SC … it doesn’t belong there. The south lost the Civil War over 150 years ago and represents, if nothing else, a subset of the union that tried to secede from the United States of America. A state can’t claim to be united when it still flies a symbol of treason over its capital.

Now as for the private sector’s perspective on the Confederate flag, that’s where it gets interesting because sure, freedom of speech protects anyone who wants to fly or sell the flag even if it may be dated and controversial, yet here we see the free market at work where major players like Amazon and Walmart have also made the decision where it might not pay – this time with their own bottom line – to sell these types of products.

And I know that a lot of people like to write things like this off as our society simply being too politically correct, but I think there’s more to it than that because our history is littered with changes in public perception as society has evolved to rule out things that it no longer deems acceptable – be it prohibition, slavery, women’s suffrage, etc… What some are calling politically correct equates to others saying, “You know what? We used to turn a blind eye to that in the past, but it’s not cool and we shouldn’t be doing that anymore.”

We’re seeing it very much forming a critical mass with gay marriage right now. There were still gay people who wanted equal rights decades earlier, however at the time society was more willing to look the other way while those individuals were treated as second class citizens in many respects by their fellow citizens. And while we’re certainly not there yet, the tides have at least turned enough on that front where majorities are speaking up and denouncing the treatment of their gay friends and family members as something that isn’t right and needs to change.

Waving the Confederate flag around really isn’t any different, and so while a bunch of people still somehow see that flag as the banner of the rebel and tattoo it on their skin as a symbol of pride, another subset is willing to consider the entire story and admit that maybe it’s not something to be as proud about as others would like to think, especially considering racial tensions that still bleed strong throughout our country.

So personally I think that anyone who chooses has every right to fly the Confederate flag should they like, with the exception of government buildings where its tainted history simply has no place, but that doesn’t mean I’m still disposed to turning a blind eye to seeing it on pick-up trucks and t-shirts and every other redneck icon that they carry so proudly. That flag has a lot more to do with than just Lynyrd Skynyrd and Budweiser and the Dukes of Hazzard just like gay marriage is a lot more than just a couple of queers flaunting their sexuality, and in the last couple of weeks I think more than anything we’ve heard segments of the public starting to call bullshit on all of that.

Because the thing is, eventually we’re going to have to shed those losing anthems of a period long behind us if we truly want to move forward as a society – a society that can honestly say that racism no longer divides us as it once did. Coming from a time when it was literally cool to keep other people as slaves, I would like to think that this would be a little more obvious than it’s proving to be, but what can I say?

Getting 350 million people all on the same page is tough and collectively as a country we’re still pretty young, but at least we’re learning … albeit slowly.

Louis CK on Gay People

March 30, 2015 4:46pm
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I think this glorious video sums up everything that I could ever possibly say about gay people.

I think “How am I supposed to explain to my kid?” is my all-time favorite Louis CK quote. 😉

Religious Freedom and Indiana…

March 30, 2015 3:58pm
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So I’ve been pretty engaged about this one over the last couple of days.

I’ve run two different humor pieces about it on Just Laugh:

I was proud to see that fellow humorist and writer friend Erik Deckers took a personal stand and backed down from a writing gig that he had held for the last six years promoting tourism around Indiana, as well as some companies like SalesForce.com and organizations like GenCon that are willing to move their financial influences elsewhere in response to the new law.

I’m also currently in a heated and increasingly bizarre argument with one of my uncles on Facebook that seems to imply that he himself personally gets inundated with lots and lots of gay sex because he’s quite adamant that “he doesn’t care – just keep it out of his face” … so there’s that! 😕

And I know that there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation floating around, particularly many that claim that the same laws exist already in another 19 states and was also introduced federally by Bill Clinton in 1993 … except that neither of these is actually true when you consider the political makeup and other laws on the books in those other scenarios. It gets ugly and complicated and much more than anyone could fit into a single soundbite when we factor in protected discrimination classes and rights of persons vs businesses and even simply the starkly different landscape that existed some 20 years ago when Bill Clinton was president.

At the end of the day, the spirit is still undeniably ugly and it continuously shocks me that we’re still having to fight and debate over something as clear cut as discrimination like this over and over again. It’s like the right attempting to defend religion doesn’t even acknowledge that another side exists – that for the baker to deny a cake to a gay couple also means that on the other side of the counter was a couple discriminated against due to their sexual preference.

As the old saying goes, I can explain it for you, but I can’t understand it for you.

The tricky part is, I’m sure there are some religious minorities that aren’t feeling the protection that they deserve for their beliefs as well, but we have to be honest here when we’re talking about this bill because with so many supporters of the new law being quite specifically anti-gay marriage, it should be a surprise to no one that the intent of this bill – as much as Gov. Pence wants to shake his head no – is directly in response to all of the progress that has been made with gay marriage across the landscape in recent years.

It’s funny because I watched the ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulus in which he was asked no less than five times and wouldn’t answer the specific question, “If a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple, is that now legal in Indiana?” and his awkward defiance makes it clear as day what his opinion on this is, even if he dares not to speak the words into a microphone.

With all sincerity, I hope that this one burns on and continues to spark the debate because we’ve still got a long ways to go. People need to learn that their freedom of religion doesn’t give them the right to discriminate against others and that these types of practices are not what our founding fathers intended when these United States were formed. The USA isn’t a country where you should be judged walking into a store and we’ve supported that missive many times before. There’s no logical reason why the same shouldn’t extend to gay men and women just the same, and the fact that the religious right is now playing the victim card that they’re somehow being marginalized by the minority speaks volumes to which way the war is trending.

Like I’ve said a thousand times before, I think one day equal rights for gay people will just be another ugly scar in history that we reflect on and look past – I just wish for everyone who’s affected by it more than I am that it would all happen sooner rather than later because if we’re not fair and equal with how we treat one another, what’s the sense of all the rest that we strive for as Americans, really???

I stumbled upon this the other day and on the surface it seems kind of interesting – it’s essentially a group of Christians getting together to help each other pay their medical bills. Nothing wrong with that, right?!

Well…

Much like any insurance program, it starts to raise some eyebrows when you begin to peel back the layers and really try to understand what it covers, and more importantly, what it doesn’t. Right off the bat, they make it very clear that this is a faith-based program and that those who aren’t dedicated to the lifestyle need not apply. In fact, they actually have a list of rules:

  • You must take a statement of faith and be active in your religious worship.
  • You’re not allowed to smoke tobacco, or use illegal drugs, or abuse legal drugs.
  • You’re not allowed to “have sex outside of traditional Christian marriage.”

That said, if you think it’s a little strange for your insurance company (although they state that they’re not actually one) to dictate your sex life, it gets worse when you dive into what is actually covered, and even more so how the whole plan actually works.

First off, things that it doesn’t cover…

  • abortions (no surprise there)
  • alcohol and drug-related injures and illnesses
  • STDs
  • “illegal acts”
  • attempted suicide
  • maternity expenses for children conceived out of wedlock (except for rape)
  • mental health / psychiatry
  • fertility/infertility care (wouldn’t be a surprise except that they lump “birth control procedures and supplies” in here as well)
  • hearing aids (what?)
  • routine and preventative care (despite being known to play a considerable factor in whether you need additional healthcare, their theory is that these are known costs and you should budget for them throughout the year)

And that’s really a summarization of some of the more oddball stuff – the full list can be found here.

So anyways, the way this whole program works is that much like regular insurance, you have a deductible and co-pays, so when you go to the doctor before you hit your deductible, you pay a co-pay and then they send a bill to these people, who typically knock off a discounted rate and then you have to pay the balance until your deductible is met.

You also pay a monthly premium just like regular insurance, which goes into a pool to help pay for the claims of other members. So far, so good.

But where the whole thing starts to get a little creepy is that the whole process of getting your bills paid by the pool is known as sharing, and as a result, as money from other members is matched up with your bills, the service tells those people specifically who their money is going to … so that they can pray for you. 😯

Now admittedly the whole prayer thing is a bit of a weird concept to me as a non-believer myself, but the reason I pick on this particular element is because it screams to me as being so incredibly self-serving and hypocritical when we look back at the rest of the program because although it’s a noble offer to come together as a community to help everyone take care of each other’s medical bills, you only have to skim those bulleted lists that I showed you earlier to see that it isn’t exactly everyone in as much as it’s everyone who thinks, acts, and lives their lives exactly the way that we do.

And this aligns with a lot of the complaints that I hear from the right about paying taxes these days because there are always certain things that they don’t want their money going towards, whether it’s abortions or welfare or the EPA or whatever, and so in this particularly pick and choosey world of healthcare, these Christians have taken it upon themselves to create exactly that sunshine world for themselves.

Frankly as a non-believer looking in from the outside, it’s not a very appealing “community” to me because when I read through all of these rules and exclusions, what I’m hearing is, “We’ll help you as long as you behave, but as soon as you fuck up – when you need our help the most – you’re on your own!”

What kind of sense does it make that a Christian going through issues with depression or thoughts of suicide can’t turn to his Brothers in Christ for help paying for treatment from a qualified professional?

What about people who don’t live perfect lives in God’s name and have sex prior to marriage that results in pregnancy? Should they just have to carry the burden themselves because they were breaking the rules and having sex outside of marriage?

How about someone who has a drinking problem, gets in a car accident and splits his head open, and gets whisked away in an ambulance? Are those bills simply his problem for having a drinking problem in the first place???

Some Christians absolutely think YES, as I found in reading through a large thread of comments reviewing the program where these scenarios were questioned and then countered back as “tough love” in hopes that the punishment of having to pay all of their own medical bills may be a deterrent from future sins … and that kind of thing is where I start to get real cynical when it comes to religion because as far as I’m concerned, you’re not really the community that you say you are if you’re not willing to accept each other’s flaws and work together for the betterment of the entire community.

I mean, a lot of our problems would be easier to solve if we could cherry-pick how we addressed them – fix education by only focusing on the wealthy school districts, fix the budget by only paying for the things that we personally think are important – but the reality is that as much as you don’t want to bother yourself with all of that other stuff around you, it still exists and ultimately it doesn’t do our community as a whole a lot of good if subsets of us huddle up into smaller groups and say, “We’ll look out for each other, but you guys are on your own.”

How is it even Christian to live your lives by a book that says nobody’s perfect except for Jesus, but you should all strive to do better, and then you create this program that specifically excludes parts of your own people who don’t fall in line explicitly with those tenets?

I won’t even address excluding me because I don’t believe in your religion, but the fact that you have other Christians who need real help with these things, but you just turn your back on them and say, “Our program isn’t for everyone – we do what we can…” is insulting to your brothers among you who need your help but are left staring at your backs.

This quote from one of those commenters really stood out to me:

“We are a group of relatively healthy Christians with low monthly medical expenses who are willing to join together to HELP each other pay for extremely high medical expenses in the unusual event that we get sick or injured.”

So if you already have cancer, that’s too expensive and they won’t help you. If you’re an alcoholic in need of counseling, they won’t help you. If you deviate in your lifestyle in any noticeable way to the church, your “healthcare coverage” here could be at stake, too, and as much as we all complain about insurance companies being these heartless corporations seeking to profit off our backs, I really don’t see how this is much better.

And – there’s always the chance of other members voting to decide that the medical procedure that you need might suddenly be deemed immoral and thus not covered!

“One of the reasons I am interested in Medi-Share is because it doesn’t cover immoral procedures such as abortion, but circumcision is also immoral to me.”

Don’t get me wrong – the insurance industry itself has plenty of problems that contribute to the greater issues with overall healthcare in our country today, but I think we all need to work together to address those issues rather than breaking off into smaller groups to say, “We’re good – the rest of you can fend for yourselves, you damn heathens…” In a way it kind of reminds me of Texas constantly wanting to secede from the union, or more recently the pediatrician who refused to care for a gay couple’s baby – we need to stop segregating ourselves and actually come together to collectively solve the problems that we face.

Patting yourselves on the back when you think you’re doing something righteous that’s really exclusionary and judgmental isn’t helping, either.

The Lack of Respect in Politics…

January 21, 2015 7:15pm
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A few hours ago when I first sat down to write this, I wanted to talk a bit about educating the political process and how difficult it is to bridge the aisle between two parties when people are implored not only to choose their own news sources, but even choose their own facts these days.

Then I came across this video posted on House Speaker John Boehner’s YouTube account as a House Republican commentary version of the State of the Union address and that spun me off in an entirely different direction…

I’m not even going to address the fact that they decided to edit out the President’s comments about climate change, ridiculous as it is, because instead watching these comments unfold painted for me a picture that was more concerning than just doctoring a simple video. The problem is bigger than that, and I think a prime example is the fact that after the President gives his State of the Union address, the opposing party sees fit not only to give their own contradictory speeches, but even worse so to go through the President’s entire speech line by line so that they can interject their catty, “Nuh uh”‘s after every last thing that the President says.

There’s no respect in politics right now, and it comes from both sides, and it shouldn’t really be a surprise when these clowns can’t manage to get anything done when the majority of their time in office is spend jeering each other like they were kids on a playground. But these are adults … who we’ve all elected to office … to represent us.

It’s clear from a simple glance that it’s the President vs. Congress and Republicans vs. Democrats and even ultra-conservatives vs. only kind-of conservatives – there are so many different divides and everyone is so entrenched in their own politics that they have no desire to get along with the other side, much less reach across the aisle to actually come to a consensus on anything. The outbursts, the pouting and failure to accept a verdict and then move on, the holding of a bill hostage over something else that got tucked in that really has no business being associated in the first place.

It’s all just embarrassing, and it’s why before I think we’re ever going to get any real progress from our government on a respectable scale, we need to see some changes in the people who are put into office to make sure that they’re actually committed to working for the people instead of just bickering back and forth like a bunch of Real Housewives. Stricter term limits, performance expectations, hell, maybe even abolishing the whole party system altogether because seeing important legislation just fall to party lines makes it seem like our congressmen didn’t even do the reading in the first place!

If we want to see change, we need to start holding our politicians to a higher standard, and I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being embarrassed whenever *I* read about whatever they’re supposed to be doing in the news. 🙁

I thought this was an interesting interview between Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee because having migrated from a very small town to a bigger city myself, I can really relate with the distinctions between the two … and frankly, some of the same arguments kind of bug the crap out of me, too!

Like the notion folks from Harvard are referenced with a negative connotation, as if higher education is somehow an enemy of the common man because intelligence is somehow insulting to those who don’t have it.

Or I guess even simply the idea not that these two lifestyles are different as much as the small town life is somehow better than living among a larger populace. We used to hear that same stupid argument from Sarah Palin – the idea that you’re not A Real American if you don’t live with a rifle on your shoulder and an oil derrick in your backyard. I mean, I’m sure that in a way some living in these communities may feel outnumbered by bigger cities like New York or LA or whatever, but there’s another very real side of country living that they don’t talk about and it’s the one that kind of drove me away from it.

It’s the lack of diversity, be it religious or political or racial or sexual or anything. If you’re a middle-aged, straight-laced conservative white person, small town American life is great, but heaven forbid you want a different perspective or find yourself going against the status quo with any of your own beliefs.

It’s the lack of options, be it white collar jobs or things to do on the weekend or places other than Applebee’s to eat – choices simply aren’t something that a smaller populace can support, which is why my old hometown is always in a sorry state of sprawl whenever I go home because they can’t support multiple of anything and ultimately it just leaves empty buildings behind in its wake.

Don’t get me wrong – small town America also features some of the most relaxing, serene places in our country and I’ve certainly taken more towards embracing those elements of my hometown when we go back to vacation, but I could never live there because things are just too different – I need opportunity beyond my old $10/hour job at the warehouse, I need good restaurants to enjoy that aren’t chains, I need to be surrounded by people who don’t watch Fox News and say nasty things behind my back because they don’t see me in church every Sunday.

Simply put, small town America likes to tote itself as the real America, but it’s also extraordinarily judgmental and for a nation that needs to figure out how to move beyond the status quo because so many things around us right now simply aren’t working, that’s a dangerous perspective to harbor. Just because certain issues don’t affect you or your brother down the street doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be dealt with, and I’ve never been comfortable with that whole “we’re all about family, but you need to suck it up because that’s what we had to do”-mentality towards their fellow man.

It’s not really a sense of community that I could ever be proud of, I guess because I’d prefer to surround myself with smart people who think all sorts of different things and challenge me with new ideas and new opportunities every day. And maybe that’s the challenge between people from the big cities and small towns understanding each other because over time we all get stuck in our own ways and we all like what we like.

Unfortunately as Jon eludes to, I think both sides like to think that they’re somehow better off than the other, and from their own limited perspectives, they’re both right. It doesn’t make it very easy to have a discussion at the dinner table, though.

A Public Personal Life Is Still Private…

December 31, 2014 7:05pm
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So the question at hand is pretty simple – whose business is it what you chose to do in your personal time???

It came about via a random posting on Facebook in the form of a warning to kids about what they post online, specifically with concerns about jeopardizing any potential scholarships as they’re preparing to go off to college. In one scathing example, a child being scouted for college sports was cited as being no longer considered after the recruiter came across this person’s social media accounts and didn’t like what they found…

And that’s really troubling for me, as I expressed in a few comments but wanted to elaborate more on here because for me the scenario sounded awfully similar to an overreaching employer trying to dictate what his employees are allowed to do online, which frankly I think is kind of horse shit.

I’m going to write about it here from the perspective of the employer/employee simply because I think it relates to more people, in addition to the student level seeming a little power-play-y between the adults admitting students and the students desperate to get into a good college.

Of course, then again I’ve certainly worked for full blown employers who try to do that same sort of crap with their employees, so maybe the simple power aspect of it has more weight than I assumed… 🙁

…but anyways…

The way I see it, when you work at a job your employer gets you for X hours a week, and in exchange for the money they pay you they get to establish some rules:

  • They can say when you’re to report to work.
  • They can say what you’re allowed to wear.
  • They can say how you’re supposed to answer the phone.
  • They can even limit the amount of personal things you do during company time – up to zero should they so desire.

But the thing is, with the exception of specified positions in the company, your job has to have a defined beginning and end to it where your working day ends and your personal life resumes because otherwise you should be getting paid for much more than 8 hours of work each day!

And it’s for this reason that your boss doesn’t get to decide:

  • What you’re going to have for dinner that night.
  • What you’re going to watch on TV.
  • Whether you’re going to have intercourse with your spouse.
  • and so forth!

They’re not paying for that time, so they have no right to dictate how you’re going to spend it, and just like how yesterday it was none of your boss’s business whether you had a couple of beers while watching the game over the weekend, it also shouldn’t be any of his business what you choose to post online when you’re not on the clock, either.

Now of course the big caveat is simple – it’s probably not wise to trash talk your boss online, and specifically to do it by name, but aside from that I have a real problem with this whole concept of using things posted online as a judgement of a person’s character when the non-digital equivalents are still very much considered off-limits. An employee would never worry about getting reprimanded at work on Monday for saying the word, “Fuck!” in his backyard over the weekend, so why should it suddenly be a ding against his character if he posts something similar to his Twitter or Facebook account???

Sure, maybe he posts some things that are controversial or downright nasty, but still, just because it’s posted online shouldn’t make it an indicator of how well you’ll perform at your job or in your classes at school … not to mention the little subjective issue of what may be offensive to you isn’t necessarily offensive to the next person down the line.

Just as it’s none of your employer’s business if you get drunk on the weekends, or go to church, or date members of the opposite sex, or walk around the house in your underwear, they’re not paying you for the things that you post on your Twitter account outside the hours of 8a – 5p, and honestly I think enough of these kinds of cases are going to turn into lawsuits that eventually we’re going to have a bigger discussion on just how “official” the boundaries between personal and professional lives really are.

There’s a reason why we don’t police free speech, and even though I know I’ve also said myself that freedom of speech doesn’t necessarily mean freedom from consequences, it’s one thing to have someone pass judgement in a personal setting but it’s an entirely different monster when it happens at work or school where the thing said has no relevance in the first place. Besides, today someone decides that saying swear words on Twitter is a poor show of character, but what happens next week when it’s saying liberal things or saying anti-Christian things?

I guess I kind of look at it the same way that I would IP rights – if you want to pay me $1,000, I’ll write something for you to run exclusively on your site; $250 gets you non-exclusive rights to reprint something I’ve already written, but you can’t demand the lower rate and exclusivity because that’s not what you’re paying for at that rate.

As an employer, you pay someone to work for you for 40 hours per week. If you want to maintain a code of conduct outside of those hours, put up or shut up unless I’m specifically going out of my way to slander or share trade secrets about your own company.

Going back to the original story, sure it makes for a bad headline when it says UNIVERSITY OF BADGERVILLE FOOTBALL STAR TWEETS ABOUT UNICORNS ONLINE, but are you paying for his tweets or are you paying him to play football???

I think if schools and employers are going to demand a say in our social media presence after hours, it should cost them.

Sell Me Something That Just Works…

November 27, 2014 11:56pm
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Despite scoring a brand new TV and a Wii U, consumer electronics haven’t exactly been on my good side this week.

The first came in the form of updates for the Wii U, which I frankly found kind of ridiculous that I had to sit through two hours of system updates the moment I plugged the console in before we were able to play a single game.

The second came just earlier today when we tried to watch a movie on said brand new TV and were promptly told by our blu-ray player that’s only a few years old, “I can’t play this disc.” because apparently Samsung doesn’t want to update the firmware anymore to support new changes to blu-ray DRM when they’ve got plenty of newer players on the market that can handle the newer encryption just great!

And don’t get me wrong, I’m a tech guy through and through so I kind of get some of these arguments – not all, but some – but at the same time as a consumer I also find it kind of infuriating that I can go out and drop $299 on a game system and not even be able to play it when I get home because first it needs to go online and download the rest of the system that wasn’t included when the thing shipped! I was digging around online while they were downloading and read horror stories of kids doing the same thing on Christmas morning and not being able to play at all because of course, the servers were overloaded due to capacity issues that one could only expect with a holiday morning rush.

As for the DRM, well, I’ve always been kind of up in the air on DRM but I think this simple incident finally turned the tides for me because if I buy a box meant to play movies and suddenly it just doesn’t want to anymore, that’s bullshit. The worst thing is, I picked up a new one this evening while we were out Black Friday shopping and I still ended up going with a Samsung anyways because my TV and sound bar are Samsung and I want everything to play together all nice, whereas any sane person would’ve said fuck Samsung and chosen their direct competitor as a result.

Funny how the super old, circa 1999 Panasonic DVD player that I’ve carried with me across the country still plays DVDs just fine, but this newer, more sophisticated box that I bought four years ago is suddenly obsolete because the studios are so paranoid about piracy that they’re ruining their discs for their actual customers. I didn’t steal Maleficent, or Frozen, or A Million Ways to Die in the West. I bought them all legitimately at a retail store – the same place I bought your player – but now the two don’t want to work together anymore because … thieves.

When I buy something at the store, I expect it to just work. No contingencies, no software updates that don’t add new functionality beyond what I just paid for, no hoops. Game + System or DVD + Player should equal what I paid for … nothing more, nothing less.

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