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Posts by Stefan Stackhouse

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  • The rumour mill grinds its victims (Prince Charles Gay)

    11/07/2003 2:29:50 PM PST · 21 of 38
    Stefan Stackhouse to Darksheare
    Considering he's with horseface now

    Price Charles is with Sen. John Kerry?! I thought he was in the Middle East?


    11/06/2003 1:11:56 PM PST · 94 of 634
    Stefan Stackhouse to Mossad1967
    it is expected that America will be fragmented into 3 parts

    Bill, Hillary. . . and the rest of us

  • And the RAT Running Mate in 2004 Will Be...

    11/06/2003 1:10:01 PM PST · 9 of 58
    Stefan Stackhouse to Paladin2b
    Mosley-Braun. . . Why else do you think she is running for Prez? It's only to raise her profile prior to the convention next summer. Black and female, she's the dem's dream VP candidate.
  • Koreas might finally sign armistice (US pushing treaty)

    11/05/2003 10:05:37 AM PST · 4 of 5
    Stefan Stackhouse to dead
    An armistice is not the same thing as a peace treaty. An armistice is essentially a permanent "cease fire" agreement with provisions to assure the security of the signatories. A peace treaty is more comprehensive and results in the establishment or restoration of normal diplomatic and economic relations between the signatories.
  • Service Economy in U.S. Expands More Than Forecast to 64.7 in ISM Survey

    11/05/2003 10:00:34 AM PST · 5 of 7
    Stefan Stackhouse to Pikamax
    There was a time when the vast majority of the population earned their income on the farm. Most of those jobs are gone forever, as marginal farmers were squezed out throught automation and large-scale farming. So they went into manufacturing jobs. Now the manufacturing jobs are going away for ever, as manufacturers are moving off-shore or automating.

    It makes no more sense to try to hang on to those manufacturing jobs through government intervention than it would have to try to hang on to all that former farm employment.

    The real problem is not that manufacturing employment is permanently contracting, but rather that what we've got to replace it isn't turning out to be as good as what had been hoped for. The promise was that instead of being laborers making stuff, many of our people would become technicians programming, maintaining, and repairing the machines that were making stuff. It hasn't turned out that way. Between the internet and globalization, many of the "knowledge-worker" jobs have migrated overseas much sooner than anticipated. What we are left with are low wage service jobs: food service, retail sales, tourism, etc.

    A huge portion of the blame for this falls upon our school system. The truth of the matter is that the average high school graduate in countries like India or China probably is much better educated than the typical product of our US schools. Why, then, should anyone hire our graduates when they can get the overseas graduates for a fraction of the cost? Several decades of foolishness are now taking their toll, and the bills are finally coming due. Because we have raised up a generation of uneducated, ignorant brats, it is inevitable that the well-paying jobs are no longer here, but rather at places where a better-educated talent pool is available.

    The one thing we do have going for us is our military. We're the best in the world. There should be a good business in providing global security services. But that would require RECEIVING billions in funding from our clients, instead of it going the other direction. Understandably, we're not the kind of people that are comfortable with exacting tribute, or making our young people serve as mercenaries. But if we don't face up to reality and start getting serious about educating our children, that may be about the only "service economy" employment option left open to them.

  • Largest Solar Flare Ever Recorded (X30-X40) DOES have an Earth-Directed Component

    11/05/2003 9:21:13 AM PST · 100 of 112
    Stefan Stackhouse to Dust in the Wind
    The light was bright enough on the 29th Oct last, to silhouette clouds to about 30 degrees above the horizon. That was along U.S. Highway 50 at the Colorado/Kansas state line

    Ditto that with our mountains, facing north, in western NC

  • There is no dignity in our death culture

    11/04/2003 4:11:03 PM PST · 7 of 9
    Stefan Stackhouse to independentmind
    I think that we are beginning to discover why the liberals have not been more worried about the impending meltdown of Social Security and Medicare. They have a plan to assure that there really won't be as many elderly people around as has been projected. Trimming the last four or five years off the average lifespan of the elderly should be just about enough to keep the funds in balance.
  • The End of the Internet as You Know it (three more days)

    10/31/2003 9:45:39 AM PST · 106 of 126
    Stefan Stackhouse to WaterDragon
    Also known as the "Offshore Web Commerce Hosting Promotion Act". . .
  • Adult Euthanasia programs of Nazi Germany - by Judy Cohen

    10/23/2003 10:25:08 AM PDT · 6 of 7
    Stefan Stackhouse to NebraskaTrailrider
    The really amazing thing is that these murderers were allowed to live after the war. Far too many people were let off way too easy.
  • Second U.S. Judge Blocks 'Do-Not-Call' List

    09/26/2003 3:58:27 PM PDT · 389 of 408
    Stefan Stackhouse to m1-lightning
    This "do not call list" does not cover out of country telemarketers.

    "Do Not Call", AKA "The India Telemarkers Full Employment Act"

  • Second U.S. Judge Blocks 'Do-Not-Call' List

    09/26/2003 3:50:47 PM PDT · 388 of 408
    Stefan Stackhouse to Vinnie
    This is no different than putting a 'No Solicitors' sign on your front door.

    There actually is one very big difference.

    If you and some of your neighbors put "No Solicitors" signs on your front doors, the door-to-door salesmen can simply see the signs, avoid those homes, go to the ones without the signs, and be in full compliance with the law with minimal effort and no special cost. Furthermore, what you have there is a level playing field for ALL door-to-door salesmen. What is more, if everyone in your neighborhood puts up signs, fine, but if there are those who don't put up signs because they DO want to be called on by door-to-door salesmen, nobody has restricted their right to receive such salesmen on to their property.

    On the other hand, as the "Do Not Call" registry is presently implemented, the ONLY way that ANY business, no matter how large or how small, can discover whether or not ANYONE has posted the telephonic equivalent of that "No Solicitors" sign is to pay $7,735 per year for access to the national registry -- even if they are a small business and only need to look up an occasional number, even only one per year. Businesses can get free look-up access for up to five area codes, but have to pay for the rest of the US. $7,735 might not sound like a whole lot to you, and it may not be a whole lot to giant corporations, but for many small businesses, that can represent a big chunk of their total marketing budget. On the other hand, if they don't pay the $7,735 per year, make even one call outside of their 5-area-code region that happens to be to someone on the Do-Not-Call Registry, they could get hit with an $11,000 fine. It is not the big telemarketing companies that will get hurt under this scheme -- they'll invest the $7K, program the list into their system, and proceed to call everyone that doesn't have that telephonic "No Solicitors" sign. But the small business that might have occasion to call up a single lead here or there every once in a while will be out of luck. They can't spend the money to comply, they can't afford to risk being fined for not complying, so they simply won't risk making calls outside of their 5-area-code region. In effect, what we've got here is the equivalent of some people in the neighborhood having "No Solicitors" signs, but now they are in invisible ink, and they can only be seen if you buy a $7,735 device from the government, otherwise if you knock on a door and then discover that it had an invisible sign, then the government hits you up with an $11,000 fine. Who is it that is really being "protected" in this protection racket? This is NOT a level playing field; I believe that it can fairly be called "restraint of trade", and that's neither right nor beneficial to consumers.

    I'm not against the Do-Not-Call Registry, I've even signed up myself. What I AM against is the failure of the FTC to provide a free single-number lookup service on their website. That is all that most small businesses would ever need, and it would not be all that difficult for the FTC to program. The refusal of the government to implement this simple little expedient is indicative to me that another agenda than "consumer protection" is at work here, and that it is small businesses, rather than mass-dialing telemarketers, that are really getting the short end of the stick here.

  • Judge Rules Against Do-Not-Call Registry

    09/25/2003 8:39:02 AM PDT · 127 of 132
    Stefan Stackhouse to justlurking
    The only thing that the FTC would have to do differently to remove my objections would be to provide a free single number lookup service on their website. If a small business person needed to initiate a phone call to someone, they could then just check the number first, and then proceed to make the call. It would cost the small business nothing to comply with the law, and those that did not want to even receive an occasional call from a small business would be "protected."

    I fail to see what is unreasonable about such an expectation.

  • Federal court rules against FTC no-call list

    09/25/2003 8:10:37 AM PDT · 312 of 324
    Stefan Stackhouse to gitmo
    No one has said the telemarketers should not be allowed to solicit sales over the phone. What the FTC did was allow the individual to put a "No thanks" sign out, meaning "Don't bother me. I'm not interested."

    What the FTC didn't do was to make it possible for small businesses to see the "No Thanks" sign without paying an extortion fee of $7K+ per year, whether they could afford it or not. That is what is so objectionable. Laws that are difficult and expensive for even the law-abiding to comply with are always repugnant.

  • Federal court rules against FTC no-call list

    09/25/2003 8:08:05 AM PDT · 311 of 324
    Stefan Stackhouse to Professional
    Well, let's say you're a client of a brokerage firm. How am I supposed to stay in touch with you? Wouldn't it even be illegal for me to call and ask you? If you do business with phone company x, shouldn't they be able to call you and offer you new services, or discounts on calling plans that they know you'd benefit from? I had my phone company call me and inform me about a plan that fit my needs, I saved money and was happy to hear from them.

    Our local electric company has a deal where if we have an outage, we call a number to report it, and then we get a callback when power is restored. Under the proposed DNC rules, the power company wouldn't be able to make those callbacks to anyone on the DNC registry unless they have previously given the power company prior permission -- permission which would then give the power company the right to call them to pitch any product they wanted. A lucrative new business opportunity for our power company!

    The loopholes and unintended consequences of this hastilly devised and ill-considered measure stagger the imagination.

  • Federal court rules against FTC no-call list

    09/25/2003 7:57:50 AM PDT · 310 of 324
    Stefan Stackhouse to DannyTN
    You can hang no solitation signs if door to door salesmen become a problem. Without this list, there is no way to put a no solicitation sign on your phone number.

    If I were selling door to door, it would cost me nothing to see your "no solicitation" sign. Compliance would be easy and cost me nothing.

    Compliance with the proposed regs for the DNC registry requires an annual expenditure of over $7K per year, regardless of how small the firm might be or how infrequently they might initiate phone calls to residences. Compliance is difficult and costly.

    I would have no problem with this thing if the FTC were to simply provide a free single number look-up service on the web. This would be a reasonable accomodation for small businesses that have an occasional need to make an initial phone contact with someone, but who are not into doing massive telemarketing. Unfortunately, the system that the FTC has actually implemented only provides for such a lookup systems for a total of five user-selected area codes. To get access to the whole list, EVEN IF YOU ONLY NEED TO LOOK UP ONE NUMBER PER YEAR, costs over $7K. That is the real flaw in the FTC's implementation.

  • Judge Rules Against Do-Not-Call Registry

    09/25/2003 7:41:07 AM PDT · 124 of 132
    Stefan Stackhouse to dalereed
    I make a list of every call I get from any salesman of any kind and tell the caller that his call just put his company on the list of companies that I will never consider buying from under any circumstances!

    Even if it is something that you are in the market for, and the call is a follow-up from one of your friends passing your name and number along to someone in the business of meeting your need? In that case, do you also put your friends on your list? Or do you still even have any friends?

  • Judge Rules Against Do-Not-Call Registry

    09/25/2003 7:35:57 AM PDT · 123 of 132
    Stefan Stackhouse to YummiBox
    Why would a small business need to contact me if I haven't contacted them first? These restrictions wouldn't apply if I called them about a product/service and asked them for a callback. Also, if I don't want to be called with UNsolicited calls, I don't want them from anyone. Small business or large. I think you've built a straw man.

    See my other reply. The Realtors in the firm that I manage don't do cold calls, but we do cultivate personal contacts and rely on word-of-mouth referrals. If we are told of somebody that one of our contacts knows that might be interested in buying or selling, then we would want to call them, introduce ourselves to them, and explore with them if there is any possibility of our being of help to them. If you essentially outlaw even that type of calling, then what you are leaving businesses like mine with is no alternative but to bombard your mailboxes with junk mail and blanket the airwaves, newspapers, and signboards with advertising. And that will assure that instead of a highly competitive marketplace, you will drive out all except one or two corporate giants, and the cost of selling a home will increase substantially. Again, where is the "consumer protection" in all of this?

  • Judge Rules Against Do-Not-Call Registry

    09/25/2003 7:26:06 AM PDT · 122 of 132
    Stefan Stackhouse to justlurking
    Let's cut down the hyperbole a bit. Additional area codes beyond the first five are only $25 apiece, up to a maximum of $7,735 (for the entire US). Anyone that is marketing to the entire US can afford ~$7K. Those needing the list for an entire state will pay a few hundred bucks (excepting the more populous states).

    I work as a Realtor and Sales Manager for a firm operating in one of the most popular vacation/retirement home destinations in the US -- the Asheville/WNC area. There are lots of people from all over the US that are interested in buying property here, and they constitute an important part of our business.

    We don't do cold calls. However, if client John Doe mentions to us that his brother Joe Doe in Podunk, Iowa would like to buy a place here in the mountains, then we do want to contact Joe. This type of scenario actually happens quite a bit in our business, and it is an important part of what we've got to do to generate customers. Under the FTC rules, if they are allowed to stand, we would either have to pay the $7,735 per year to get nationwide DNC registry look-up, or else risk the $11,000 fine, or else simply not make initial contact by phone with people like John. Maybe if we are lucky we could find a mailing address and mail something to him (at $0.37 per contact, or more likely more than that as we would need to enclose some promotional literature), and maybe if we are really lucky John would send back a postage-paid return postcard (more expense) giving us permission to talk to him by telephone. Or, we could just give up on making any efforts to prospect out of our own immediate area, ceding a large chunk of our potential market to the few really big firms who can afford to pay the $7,735 per year.

    That $7,735 per year may not sound like very much to you, but for our firm (which is actually mid-sized, we are about the 5th or 6th largest in our market), that figure represents somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of our total annual marketing budget. For smaller firms, that could be as much as half, 3/4, or even ALL of their annual marketing budget. Hyperbole? These are real numbers, and they have a real impact on real businesses and real careers. Your claim that "anyone marketing to the entire US can afford ~$7K" is simply not true, unless you are comfortable with the notion that only the select few corporate giants with the right political connections should have the opportunity to market nationwide, and the rest of we small fry should be shut out. Where's the "consumer protection" in that?

  • Judge Rules Against Do-Not-Call Registry

    09/24/2003 2:17:25 PM PDT · 47 of 132
    Stefan Stackhouse to scab4faa
    The problems with the FTC's Do-Not-Call regulations are:

    1) They are overbroad -- they do not just apply to "telemarketers" (who I would define as being companies making massive numbers of cold calls at random), but also to ANY business calling ANY residence for ANY reason.

    2) To be in compliance, ANY business, no matter how small, that wishes to call ANY residential number ANYWHERE in the US must pay over SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR for access to the Do-Not-Call registry, even if they only need to look up an occasional number now and then; free look-up access is provided only for five area codes, which is often not enough to cover an entire state, and sometimes not even an entire metro area.

    The bottom line is that these regulations are NOT "anti-telemarketer" -- the telemarketing firms will consider $7K per year to be small change, and it will be a relatively simple programming change to incorporate the do-not-call registry into their already-computerized systems. What these regulations REALLY are is "ANTI-SMALL-BUSINESS" -- most of us who are in or run small, non-telemarketing businesses cannot possibly afford this $7K per year, nor can we afford an $11K penalty. Thus, if the FTC regulations were to stand, this would effectively limit just about ALL small businesses to calling ONLY residences within a five-zip-code area. I call that "restraint of trade" -- the exact opposite of what the FTC has been tasked to do.

    I hate telemarketing calls as much as anyone else. But there's got to be a better way to do this.

  • Hurricane Isabel:Live Thread #2 "Force Ten Conditions In North Carolina And Further North"

    09/19/2003 4:09:11 PM PDT · 2,159 of 2,170
    Stefan Stackhouse to Stefan Stackhouse
    Ususally the air feels "balmy," if you understand. I mean, it's almost like you can "feel" the tropics in the air.

    We were able to get just a whiff of that tropical ocean air here in the WNC mountains during Floyd, but it hasn't come in yet with Isabel -- this afternoon, maybe.

    We are seeing the outermost bands of clounds from Isabel in the upper atmosphere now, just above the ridgeline of the Blue Ridge -- skies to the west are sunny and clear, temps in the 50s moving into the 60s. Sorry you folks in the east aren't sharing our mountain weather today!

    Footnote: that balmy tropical ocean air finally did arrive in WNC Thursday evening, around 8-11pm or so.