Boycotting Chevron

Chevron has a disgusting human rights record. For a comprehensive review see The Chevron Pit.

I believe that the best way to put pressure on any company in the United States, is a combination of boycott and letter writing. A boycott of one person is ineffective. I am sure that I’m not alone in this decision. I tend to shop for my gas at Shell and BJ’s.

Texaco has been pissing me off for several months with their “discount for cash” program that leads to an artificially low price advertised on their stations. Now, I learn that Chevron gobbled up Texaco who started the destruction and abuse in Ecuador.

If Chevron had acknowledged the issue and taken appropriate action, I wouldn’t be here asking for people to look at the information and decide whether or not they really want to give money to a company that bribes officials, brandishes other countries’ military as “security”, turns a blind eye to forced conscription (ie: slavery) for the building of its infrastructure, and otherwise destroys humans as well as the environment.

I won’t be shopping at Chevron. I will be talking to my friends and family about the situation. I encourage you to read and review the available information and make your decision.

I’ve made mine.

National Bankruptcy Day – Call to Action

In the Wall Street Journal, Rick Woldenberg was quoted as describing February 10, 2009 as National Bankruptcy Day because that’s the day when many of us will go out of business due to the implementation of the CPSIA Regulations. I’m dismayed at how little it’s been discussed online and in the news. I’m shocked that so few manufacturers know about it. Of the ones that do know, most think it either doesn’t apply to them or it will magically disappear or it won’t be enforced so they can ignore it. Come February 10th, a lot of people will be hit hard by reality when their products are returned or their financing is declined.

Fashion Incubator (quoted and linked above) has one of the best round ups on this issue I’ve seen.

Basically, what’s happening is that new regulations are going into effect. These regulations can be interpreted require that all lines of clothing, toys, cribs, etc. or anything that is in the environment of a child, to be tested by the manufacturer. This will cripple small businesses who cannot afford the testing, and harm large businesses who’s lines for February were manufactured six months ago. Everything, from zippers to paints will need to be tested. Small crafters and marginal businesses (such as those who focus on small customers like the disabled who need custom garments/toys/etc) will be hit the hardest.

Call or write to your congressperson and tell them to fight or repeal these regulations.

Ponzi Schemes and Hedge Funds

What do they have in common? They both take your money with excellent promises. They claim that they will *always* have positive returns.

If you can’t smell the BS in this, you’re probably a stock broker who was once heavily invested in real estate.

Bernard Madoff has been arrested for running a giant Ponzi scheme.

It’s funny. Ponzi schemes have been around since the beginning of the stock markets. But you can’t get something for nothing. It feeds on greed and stupidity and lack of information.

Named after Charles Ponzi, the con-artist who truly made an art of the scheme, the Ponzi scheme basically says, “invest with me and made double or triple your money overnight.” How is this possible? Well, the investors on the first tier give their money. That money is used to pay off the first investors who then spread the word and get more investors and so on and so forth until there’s swarms of people investing. The head of the scheme is getting the money, but it’s never invested and there’s no real returns.

It’s not the same as a hedge fund. Really. It’s a lot closer to a Pyramid Scheme. Except in a Pyramid scheme it’s only the people at the top who are getting the money.

For more on Madoff:
Smart Money
Boing Boing
Wall Street Journal

Book Review: The Warren Buffet CEO

The Warren Buffett CEO: Secrets from the Berkshire Hathaway Managers by Robert P. Miles, is not a book about Warren Buffett. Yes, he is talked about. Yes, he is referenced often. Yes, he is quoted. No, this is not a Warren Buffett book.

The Warren Buffett CEO investigates the men and women who built and manage the companies that Berkshire Hathaway owns. The author managed to secure interviews with 19 of the managers/CEOs of the companies that make up Berkshire Hathaway. It’s fascinating reading.

Every one of the profiled CEO’s has an incredible story of business sense, drive, and talent. These men and women were not placed in their positions by Buffett, but rather they are the main reason that Buffett purchased thier business. The stories they share intertwine family and business, while managing to impart some sound advice and paint a portrait of an incredible organization.

The Warren Buffett CEO is the story of Geico, of FlightSafety, and of The Buffalo Evening News. It is the story of a small town Russian immigrant woman who built the largest furniture store in Nebraska. It is the story of a family who’s appliance business started on the back of a pick-up truck.

It’s excellent reading. It has business advice. And it’s a model that I want my own business to run off of: Hire good people, then get out of the way.

Book Review: Maxed Out

I watched the documentary on GoogleVideo. The book is basically the same information you get in the video with a little extra detail here and there. If you’ve seen the video, you don’t need to read the book. If you haven’t, the book is just as good as the video and a lot easier to find.

It’s well written, if obviously biased against the credit card companies. (Not that I think he’s wrong in his opinion, especially having done the research.)

I would have preferred having more detail and an appendix where I could have looked at some of the background data and or some of the interview transcripts. I like source data.

It’s a little light on technical details and statistics. I guess it’s good, in that it’s easy to read, but it feels incomplete. I want more information, not less in my books. I’m not planning to read it again. And it doesn’t have any value as a reference book for me. I’d suggest getting it from the library rather than buying it.

Why I started driving the SpeedLimit Or, how I learned to love cruise control

This is not a preachy article. I’m not going to blather about being a lawful citizen or any of that BS.

Nope, I started doing the speed limit because I remembered why they were introduced.

Back in the seventies, there was this little, let’s call it “The Energy Crisis.” There’s been a lot of references to it lately since gas prices are shooting up again.

During this 1970’s crisis, scientists discovered that if you did approximately 55 MPH or lower, you increased your fuel efficiency. They made it a requirement on all major highways in order to decrease fuel usage.

So, I now do the speed limit. I use my cruise control to keep me on speed because, let’s be honest, I’d be keeping up with traffice at 10-20 miles above the speed limit if I didn’t use it.

Still, there are a few adjustments. Like trying *not* to wince and speed up when some alpha-hotel comes roaring down the street behind you in the right lane and gets pissed because you’re doing the speed limit in the right hand lane. It’s not like I’m trying to make other people do the limit. I’m just trying to get out of the way of the Prius and the Hybrid Escape with the Terrapass sticker….