June 2009


Amazon.com, the world’s most popular on-line retailer has unveiled a new subscription service known as “Amazon Prime”. For just $79 a year Amazon.com is offering free two day shipping on all of your orders (except those which Amazon deems ineligible for the service). Sounds like a pretty good idea right? Especially if you make a lot of Amazon.com purchases. I’m certainly behind businesses trying to find that new competitive edge it takes to stay on top. Ordinarily I would just see something like Amazon Prime as a nice piece of new business strategy. The one problem is now that Prime is out Amazon is blackmailing users into using it.

You see recently my wife and I put in an order to Amazon.com for a guide book we wanted for a trip to Europe. We’re leaving in three weeks, so we wanted to be sure we’d get it on time. The book was in stock and was eligible for Free Shipping, with a listed shipping time of 3-5 days. We purchased it and checked out with no problems, all very routine. Imagine our surprise that evening when we got an e-mail estimating the delivery date at three weeks. We decided to call Amazon to see what the issue was. Maybe the guide was out of stock and their system had been incorrect? No problem there we’d just select another one, so we dialed in prepared to switch our order. The explanation we got blew our minds.

Evidently in the Amazon terms of service they have the right to hold your items for later shipping, and the 3-5 days is just the time it takes from leaving the warehouse. We’d never had this kind of delay before so we were a bit surprised, was there a problem? No. Amazon is just trying to get folks to sign up for Amazon Prime (which we were offered an upgrade to, one month free trial). In fact if we upgraded today our book would ship immediately.

How sneaky and dishonest! All of my respect for Amazon.com has just been flushed down the drain. We bit the bullet and upgraded, not to prime, but two day delivery as we couldn’t chance it with the guide given our travel date, but we will be thinking long and hard before buying from Amazon.com again in their future. Their sneaky little game may have just cost them two customers.

-Angry Midwesterner


For the geographically challenged, or (in the cast of Coasties) purposefully obtuse and arrogant, Bozeman isn’t a new computer virus, or a demon summoned from the 77th layer of the Abyss by Bill Gates. It’s a city in Montana, actually one of the largest in the state. Montana is normally a champion for personal liberties, but in a bizarre turn of events the city of Bozeman is asking all applicants for city jobs to turn over not just those sites on the internet for which they have accounts, but also the user names and passwords that go along with them.

City attorney Greg Sullivan had this to say about the decision:

“So, we have positions ranging from fire and police, which require people of high integrity for those positions, all the way down to the lifeguards and the folks that work in city hall here. So we do those types of investigations to make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the City,”

While one can’t fault him for his motives, it certainly is important for the city to have a good reputation and it is reasonable for them to want folks of good repute representing them, they’re going to frightening and drastic measures to do so. In essence asking applicants to turn over all shreds of privacy to the city, allowing people from the city to read their e-mail, private sections of facebook, and even access their bank accounts. Now maybe my situation has been unique, but I’ve never had a potential employer ask for permission to read my mail or tap my phone before hiring me. If they did, I’d tell them to take a hike. That kind of invasion of privacy is unheard of, and is unconscionable.

The worst thing is, I don’t know which I find more absurd and frightening, that a US city would ask this of potential employees, or the fact that so far not a single employee has withdrawn their application in protest when asked to tender their accounts and passwords.

-Angry Midwesterner


So have you ever heard of Microsoft Soapbox? Yeah, me neither. Planned to be Microsoft’s answer to YouTube, this isn’t some flashy new service Microsoft is rolling out with Bing, but the stillborn project which first debuted over three years ago. Now, with the obvious market dominance of YouTube, Microsoft is going to be cutting the chaff from the wheat. In a market where the money is on the web, and not the OS, Microsoft has consistently failed to reinvent itself into something dynamic, new, or cutting edge.

The death of Soapbox isn’t important because of the failure itself. It instead represents a mental change at Microsoft, as they retreat from ground they had originally intended to fight for. Bing is likely their last stand for relevance in the internet world, and one which they will likely lose to Google.

-Angry Midwesterner


The White House today rebuffed pleas from California for cash. California, as anyone not living under a rock knows by now, carries an estimated $24 billion deficit and is in dire economic peril. Now they expect the rest of us to bear the penalty of their excess for them, and pay for the irresponsible behavior for which they reaped all of the rewards. Something must have hit Obama in the head this morning because for once he made the right choice.

He told those lazy, good for nothing, deadbeat, pot smoking, California Hippie Losers to bug off. Three cheers for Obama!

California has the largest GDP in the US, at over $1.8 trillion, one of the highest levels of taxation in the country, an annual tax revenue of over $114 billion, and one of the highest levels of tax revenue per capita. They have all the resources necessary to solve their own problems. The reason they cannot pay their bill is that, much like a bunch of trailer trash Wal-mart shoppers, they’ve lived beyond their means and run up a debt funding ridiculous programs, propositions, and other such folly to a point that no one in the damnable state even knows where or how the money is being spent. A full 50% of their yearly tax revenue is earmarked for propositions even before the budget is set, that’s more revenue than the total taxes brought in by 48 of the 50 states. And yet visit California and you’ll find a third world nightmare of poorly paved roads, one of the worst school systems in the nation (ranked 48th of 50), no public transportation worthy of the name, scant police coverage, and a wash of crime and poverty that stretches 800 miles from north to south.

California isn’t too big to fail. It’s too irresponsible, stupid, and mismanaged to succeed. Its practices, culture, and above all the arrogance of its people make it one of the largest threats to the American way of life in the world. So now California, we’re cutting you off and it’s time for you to reap what you have sown. Obama should strip your state of its sovereignty and readmit it as a federal territory.

-Angry Midwesterner


Someone might want to contact the heads of Abercrombie & Fitch and teach them how to get away with work place discrimination. Not that it is ever a good thing to discriminate against your employees. We here at the 12 Angry Men don’t endorse such behavior at all. But if you’re going to treat your workers unfairly it is generally best to do so with uneducated minorities who are disenfranchised and don’t garner much sympathy with the popular media.

It’s pretty clear that Abercrombie and Fitch are going to learn this lesson the hard way, because really, what do you think is going to happen if you discriminate against a young attractive white female with a prosthetic arm who, just by the way, happens to have finished sitting her law exams and is nearly a practicing lawyer? Does that really sound like a great idea? To me it just sounds like a recipe for getting publicly humiliated and shelling out £25,000 in settlement to a budding lawyer who is sure to become a darling of the press. Say it with me everyone, “Abercrombie & Fitch, you’re DOING IT WRONG!”

-Angry Midwesterner


There is a statue in Dublin Ireland that stands atop the gates of the castle. It was meant to represent justice, but has a number of peculiar things about it. The first is that in Dublin, Justice wears no blindfold. Instead she is admiring a sword which she carries. Second, she has turned her back on the city and faces instead the castle. Lastly she carries a set of real scales that normally are perfectly balanced. Yet when the rains come in (as they often do in Dublin), one of the ends of the scales is sheltered by her arm, causing the scales of justice to tilt unfairly.

All of these facts were disturbing to the people of Dublin, and Ireland as a whole, as Dublin Castle, and the justice it represented, was made by their British oppressors. To them this statue represented the sort of “justice” they received from the crown. When Ireland won its independence one of the first things they did was to drill a hole in both sides of the scales, so they would never be unbalanced again. They could not reblind justice, nor make her face the people, but they made what changes they could.

In America we have long prided ourselves on the nature of our justice. In America Lady Justice has always been blind. Our constitution itself attempts to secure equality for all, and while we have not always achieved it, we have always strived for it. Until now. Now we have a President who wishes to do an abominable thing. Obama wants to remove the blindfold from Justice.

Obama’s nomination of Sotomayor is nothing less than this. He has even stated openly that he wants to appoint a Supreme Court Justice on the basis of “empathy”. This is a weasel term as much as calling attaching the label of “Patriot” to a well known and unjust act. Empathy has no place in our courts. Justice should be blind to empathy, and should be applied fairly to everyone regardless of their race, class, or situation. Empathy in the courts is just another way of saying “a different standard of justice for differing types of people”. While I will always support mercy in our law, when we apply our law it should be in a fair manner that is blind to circumstances. Everyone, low or high, should be treated the same. This standard for justice is one that has defined America for centuries.

But now we have a President who so hates America and our way of life that he wants justice to be applied unfairly. Make no mistake he has selected the right justice for the role. Sotomayor is a self avowed racist and sexist who believes latina women are endowed with more wisdom and grace than white men. For her a certain sort of “empathy” (better known as bigotry) is assured.

In the end, however, we should not be surprised by Obama, or his actions. After all he has already shown us that he would rather give our tax money with no strings attached to rich business men, than loan it with interest to blue collar workers. Why should we be surprised that he wants to apply justice unfairly as well?

-Angry Midwesterner