Facebook Condoms Sell In China

March 30, 2012

A company totally unrelated to the social networking site has trademarked the Facebook name to sell condoms, soccer cleats, and more, according to the LA Times.

American companies call this “trademark squatting,” but Chinese law favors those who are first to register names with the Chinese government (similar to those in the US who register web domains under the names of celebrities and big corporations, hoping to sell it back for big bucks).

So, in China, you will find Lady Gaga sausage casings, J. Crew PA systems, and Angry Birds snack food.

Yao Ming maxi pads? Not any more. The retired NBA star successfully sued to block the use of his name on those.

The man who trademarked Eminem claims to never have heard of the rapper.

“If this Eminem turns out to be a famous singer, we’re willing to cooperate as a potential partner to release this brand [of whiskey and vodka] in China,” he told the LA Times. “We’re also open to selling it.”

A Chinese electronics company owns the name iPad. If Apple wants it, the selling price is $1.6 billion.


Trayvon Martin and the Legacy of Slavery

March 24, 2012

Image Trayvon Martin family photo

The best account of what happened the night 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by a man in the neighborhood is given by journalist Amy Goodman.

First, it is important to know that Trayvon wasn’t just wandering around some gated community, he was visiting his father who lived there. Trayvon was walking home from a nearby convenience store, when George Zimmerman saw him, called 911, then pursued him on foot with a 9mm gun.

In the 911 call released by the police, Zimmerman called Trayvon “f**cking coon.”

Witnesses heard Trayvon crying, and then cry for help, moments before Zimmerman shot him.

Police “corrected” their report, and said that Zimmerman was heard crying for help. (ABC News spoke to a witness and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard Trayvon shout for help.)

Zimmerman, 28 years-old, weighing 250 pounds, carrying loaded gun, said he feared for his life when he saw the 140 pound teenager with Skittles and an iced tea. The police accepted this claim, and didn’t arrest him.

The police then bagged the body and labeled it “John Doe” – even though Trayvon had his phone, which could identify him. They tested his body for drugs and alcohol. They found none.

Zimmerman, meanwhile, is a free man. It was only when this story became national that the police decided to investigate. The Federal Justice Department will investigate, too.

It is difficult to know what will bring justice. Is it outrage? Public protest? Is it that “…All of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen,” as President Obama said in his remarks yesterday (Friday, March 23, 2012)?

I searched my soul, and to me, Trayvon was pursued like a runaway slave, guilty for walking freely. Gunned down, with no consequences facing his killer. It is not unreasonable to go back to the time of slavery, for a proper response. After all, slavery is the root of that “coon” comment.

As the great African-American abolitionist leader, Frederick Douglass (himself a runaway slave), said when asked to speak during July 4th celebrations in 1852 (thank you Tony G.):

“At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.”

ImageFrederick Douglass

Click here for Frederick Douglass’s entire speech.

This speech, and others, are part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook.

Democracy Is An Illusion?

March 16, 2012

In this interesting essay, editor and lecturer John Stoehr makes the argument that Marx (though perhaps wrong about Marxism) was right about Capitalism: the ideas that take hold are the propaganda of the rich. And, ideas “have concrete material context and have a human cost.”

So, what if democracy is just an idea put forward by the billionaires in charge, as a cover to exploit American workers?


Check it out.

EXTRA! EXTRA! The New York Times Has Money To Burn (so don’t give them a dime)

March 14, 2012

The New York Times has a lot of nerve cutting back their employees’ health benefits, firing people, and crying poor when, at the same time, they paid their outgoing CEO $24 million.

NYT Publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., had to make the sum public on Friday when he filed a proxy with the SEC.

Bloomberg news reports that the former CEO was pushed out, and is calling the sum her “exit package” – whereas Reuters and the NYT are calling it her “payout” or “her total compensation” which makes it sound like it includes her yearly salary. No matter.

 Image    (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

Twenty-four Million Dollars…. That gets you Janet Robinson for 7 years. Seven horrible years for the NYT, given that, when Robinson left in December of 2011, “the company reported a net loss of $39.7 million…” Their stock and advertising plummeted during her tenure.   

This year, Robinson gets an extra $4.5 million “consulting fee,” and now calls herself “retired.”

Accourding to Reuters, “Excluding the consulting fee, Robinson would have been paid the same amount whether she was terminated, resigned or retired, according to the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [on Friday].”

Sulzberger made $5.9 million last year. (He gave back his “incentive” award/bonus.) In the same 7 years as Robinson, that’s a total of $41.3 million.

It’s a confusing contradiction. You have the publisher of the NYT making an asinine deal with Robinson to pay her outrageous amounts of money even as his company is losing revenue. And you think, well maybe the reason the NYT is in debt is because they pay their top two or three people WAY too much money. The only explanation is that it’s contractual.

Meanwhile, according to the NYT eXaminer, the reporters have been working without a contract for a year.

More good reading on the subject is this article by Kyle Smith, a contributor to Forbes. 



Angelina Jolie riled by Oscars leg taunts

March 10, 2012

Can you believe this headline?

Well, I thought the leg pose was super cool.  Super! I think Angelina should strike a pose where ever she goes. She’s so darn good at it.

Yellowston’s Plan: Blast the Sides Off Mountains While Bears Hibernate for the Winter

March 4, 2012

Image (A Bighorn Sheep ram in Yellowstone National Park. (AP/NPS, Jim Peaco)

Dan Wenk is a trained landscape architect who somehow ended up Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.

Wenk wants to let 840 snowmobiles into Yellowstone each day of the winter. To protect the guys on the snowmobiles, Wenk wants to dynamite the sides of snowy mountains to trigger avalanches ahead of time.

Maybe Wenk thinks, “Snowmobilers Uber Alles?” Or, to give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe Wenk doesn’t know there are bears (and other wildlife) in Yellowstone?  

The man who appointed Wenk says Dan has what it takes “…to lead the park [Yellowstone] into the future”

Here’s an email I composed to Mr. Dan Wenk. He is supposedly taking public comments on this issue prior to the March 9th deadline.

Subject: Comments on 2012 Supplemental Winter Use Plan for Yellowstone

Dear Superintendent Wenk:

Really? You think more people need to race around Yellowstone in a snowmobile, hootin’ and drinking beer and crashing into trees?

And to accommodate these “visitors,” Yellowstone needs to blast sides of mountains with dynamite to trigger avalanches?

How does any of this sound like the perfect use of a National Treasure?

For God’s sake, reconsider. (I mean really, how can you be serious?)

Thank you for considering my comments.


If you wish, you can …

Mail–Send written comments to:

Yellowstone National Park
Supplemental Winter Use Plan EIS
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

In Person–Hand deliver any written comments to:

Management Assistant’s Office
Headquarters Building
Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone National Park, WY

Here’s the link to submit a comment electronically:


And finally, here’s an exellent article on seeing Yellowstone’s wildlife in winter.