The Start Of War

My eleven year old son asked me the other day why wars start. This is obviously a very difficult topic to explain properly, so I decided to over simply it for him as much as I could.

I told him, the usual causes of war are not much different than why we have fights on a school playground. Often one person has something the other person wants, and the instigator feels he has the power to take it from them, sometimes it is a physical object, but sometimes the bully feels threatened by the victim’s perceived power, and feels the need to take their power away, before they become too powerful.

Of course the other key ingredients in wars are a total disregard for the needs of others, or human life in general, and a defiant victim standing up for themselves.

I then used this short video below to show him exactly why wars start. Enjoy !


Sometimes They Actually Are Out To Get You

When I first started this business, I thought I had a great idea, I would be a reseller of hard to find and interesting products from all sorts of factories I had sourced out. I would sell the things I liked, and get to deal with customers that were just like me. This has worked to some degree, I enjoy my work most of the time, and almost all of the customers we ever deal with are cool and fantastic ones.

The online world is a bit different that I had imagined though, I thought I could build my own little online home of cool items, deal with only cool people and kick any uncool people out of the house forever, never having to deal with them again, but unfortunately it is not quite like that, just as a percentage of the real world contains some of confrontational, narcissistic, non empathetic jerks, so is the Internet, but unlike the real word, where none of these people would be allowed in my house, my online home with its millions of visitors, tens of thousands of them will be the type of person I do not want a visit from. Some of them even bother to write my Inbox with threats, though they are not physical threats, but legal ones, they are still very disturbing to read.

Justice Scales

Justice Scales

I do not make any of the products I sell, I buy them all from large companies, they are branded, trademarked and copyrighted already, but still the shirts that I pick, especially the funny ones, often have messages the corporate world does not like. Once they decide they do not like your product lawyers are often unleashed at you to try and stop you from selling any more of the offending products, the first tool the lawyers usually use are cease and desist letters. Cease and desist letters, for those of you that don’t know, are like legal declarations of war threatening severe, business destroying legal action if you do not surrender your suppliers names, products, sales records, and even your website immediately. Please know that these letter are not from courts, as they pretend they are, and do not actually hold any legal value, but are usually the first step taken before any legal action.

The most recent legal threat against us was from a massive massive company who were very offended by an original image drawn on a shirt I was selling, though it contained no logo, trademark or even words, when I named the image for the shirt, I used a very common English word to describe it. They sent me a letter saying that this word can only be used by them, and even claim to have trademarked it. From what I know of law, having only studied it for one year, I find this highly unlikely. Even though it has a strong smell of BS surrounding it. I have taken the product down since the letter seemed to come from an actual lawyer, and although they might not be able to win a case on this particular shirt, I do have other ones that they may win cases on. So better safe than sorry I guess.

I find I am itching to fight with them, but I still have other shirts I can sell, and had best use my energy elsewhere, though it is unjust for this multi billion dollar corporation to try and control such a common English word, and to deny the world not only the word, but the sight of the funny t-shirt, not to mention my bread and butter. I will let them win the battle they started. I will not currently post the word, company, letter and shirt image here, but I may in the future.

These actions might not sound not so bad to people that believe in a fair world, where all these letter are coming for upright and moral persons, where only people who know they did something wrong, and yet did it anyway had to face such things, but I have found that sometimes lawyers are impersonating customers, sometimes our competition in to hope of having us take down a competitive product are impersonating lawyers, and sometimes lawyers admit they are lawyers, but you never know which is which, and whether they do or do not have a legitimate case against you. I can say that in the twenty or so legal threats to ourselves here over the last four years, only one of them was legitimate, I was new to the business and did not know any better, I apologized and they let me go. The other nineteen however, were just aggressive mean companies trying to seize our products, business and website with absolutely no right to it. I would shutter to think of all the business they have closed, and things they have seized from others over the years with these immoral practices. The cost of lawyers to find out what is a legitimate threat and what isn’t is also no laughing matter.

Chuck You Tee

Chuck You Big Business

You would think I should know which is a legal shirt and which isn’t but sometimes the lines are a bit blurry, for example a shirt such as Chuck You! obviously refers to the famous martial artist and movie star Chuck Norris. I would think that it was perfectly alright to sell such a shirt, so long as it does not offend Mr Norris, and trust me I would not ever want to offend Mr. Norris. I do understand that Chuck Norris has some legal rights to the shirt, if he were to contact me, since the shirt uses both his name and image, I would have no moral reason to ever refuse him, as far as I am concerned it is his shirt, the same would of course go for many of the Star Wars inspired shirts we sell, if Mr Lucas was offended by them, I would simply bow my head down, saying “I am not worthy” and slowly and respectfully place the shirts at his feet. But it is not like that, what happens is some lawyer, or maybe competitor pretending to be a lawyer, who knows, wants to get your whole damn website, and put you out of business forever for using lets say an image of Chuck holding a gun, and they say any image of Chuck ever holding a gun is owned by them forever, even if the image is an original hand drawn piece of art.

I have written and called some of the actual lawyers back that have contacted me on occasion, and was surprised to find out that they are not actually there to help, they do not understand your position, lack any sort of empathy, have no sense of humor, and are only asking you questions to build a case against you so they can accumulate more power for themselves. As if they needed any more power already being backed by billion dollar companies. I find they are very similar to a schoolyard bully flexing their muscles, expressing their dominance, and hoping very hard to have a good fight with you so they can use their foot to grind your head into the dirt. They are not trying to avoid confrontation, they are creating it. In fact the more they get to fight with you, the more hours they can bill for and the more cash they make. Like some of the most evil corporations in the world, they make money from battle, lots of money, and do not wish for peace.

I was doing a Google search on “Corporate Bullying” the other day to see what it came up with, and came across a video which I will place below, of one guy that has started to put up a bit of a fight against this type of action, he is commonly known as the “Eat More Kale” guy. I respect this guy, and I hope he doesn’t give up the fight. Since he really only sells one product, and the massive billion dollar a year chain called Chick-fil-A decided they were going to put him out of business, he really has no choice but to fight.

Have a watch and let me know what you think.

The guy has raised almost one hundred thousand USD on kickstarter.com already to do a film on this, I have nothing against Chick-fil-A, in fact I never even heard of them until now, but I hope they lose a lot of money due to this, I hope they lose so much money that all the other companies that do this kind of stuff start thinking a bit more about their actions before doing them, as currently there doesn’t seem to be any repercussions for putting the little guy out of business, and sadly it is a very very common practice. I might start posting all the threats against us here similar to the Piratebay, but I will not do that yet.

Here is his campaign if you wish to contribute: Kickstarter Campaign

Google documents any such practice they find out about on chillingeffects.org, one particular story here I found very interesting as it resonates quite a bit with my current issue:

 

Letter To Warner Bros. From Groucho Marx

1947 Letter From Groucho Marx

 

Who’s Eating My Pies ?

Through many years of hard work and sacrifice, living as a poor man even through prosperous times, I ended up saving away quite a bit of money through out my working life. In order to save money, I forced myself to give up on on many luxuries, and one of the things I gave up, that I will be using for an example in this article, was pies. I love pies, but have not bought one over a decade, they may be inexpensive where you come from, but for me they were the cost of two-three meals, and did not have enough value for me to keep spending on them.

About six years ago, being forced to move and sell my home, I decided to take the savings and invest where the news, my peers, and the banks, all told me to, mutual funds. I was told through no additional work on my part, that I would double my money in about five years, it sounded like a great idea. I did some research, took the Bank’s Investment Manager’s advice, and signed some papers.

A Pie Plus Five YearsI thought I was so smart, by resisting buying myself a pie that day, and waiting five years, I would then be able to buy two of them. I thought that was great, after all I was only 34, I should still be alive at 40 and get to eat my two pies right?

Now that it has been five years, and the bank said at this point my money would have doubled, you would think I could get my two pies now right? Believe it or not, somehow I am only stuck with about halve of a pie. Not only has my money gone down, but inflation has been going up. I had invested in funds containing only blue chip companies, and they had used my money to help turn record profits over the last five years, so it is a bit strange to me that I should actually be losing money. Did I not invest in a company? Should it’s profits not be my profits? Something is wrong here, I understand about the stock market fluctuating up and down with demand for the stock, but where did my share of the profit go? Why on earth do I invest in companies, if during times of profits, I somehow actually lose money?! The market is down about 11% since I bought, but my mutual funds are actually down more? How is this possible? Do all those little electronic transfers from my bank to the investment really take so much manpower, hard work, and energy that it needs so much of my money just to pay for itself?

Should I eat this part of a pie now before it is all gone, wait and be satisfied once my whole pie has been returned to me, or hold out for the two pies that I was already supposed to have by now? If the banks lived up to their promises, in another five years, all things being even, I should actually have four pies. I no longer believe that even two pies are possible anymore, I mean with the record profits of the last five years, and me losing money, is there really any hope for the future?

Money does not disappear, it only moves around, my money was not sucked into a black hole and erased, it moved from my bank account, into others.

Due to the large bonuses corporations are paying themselves, as well as stock traders, mutual fund managers, bankers, and all the other “professionals” that are involved in my supposed “Wealth Management” actually get to not only use my money, and keep all my profits, but if I sold them today, also about 30% of my initial investment! Amazing isn’t it !

Buying into mutual funds is not supposed to be gambling, it is supposed to be an investment, you give your money to investment groups, who put your money into actual corporations to help them grow, and after they grow, they are supposed to give a share of the profits back to you. Of course if they lose money, you lose money, but recently as they make money, you lose money!!

Rather than the dream pictures the banks paint you of Mutual Fund investments, let’s have a look at an example of something a bit closer to reality. Have a look at a short clip from South Park below.

I can hear you all screaming at me now, that when the stocks go up, so will my investments, I hear you, but it is not proportionate to the inflation or the profits the companies have earned. There is too much wealth being absorbed by the people at the top, and virtually nothing trickles down to the investor anymore. Mutual Funds seem to be broken, and if my full pie ever returns, I will be investing either directly in high dividend stocks, property, or most likely my own company.

Monopoly Man Has My Pie

A friend of mine has no savings at all, he never has, he eats his pies every time he gets enough money to buy one. I used to tell him he should save his money, and get more pies in the future. Now though I am having a good look at myself here. I have not afforded myself a pie in about fifteen years, I should be able to afford rooms full of them now and eat until I explode from them, but I cant. I can see now that I am the fool, to be taken in by such a massive scam.

I understand why people are currently protesting all over the western world about the financial situation, most of them can’t quite put their finger on why employment is so low, crime is up, investments have shriveled up, inheritances have disappeared as some people have not just lost their jobs, but also their homes. The rich have gotten so wealthy, and the middle class are disappearing. Something is wrong.

All the savers of the world, the newly poor, and all their families, should be chanting out on in front of the Banking and Business Capitals of the World. “Who’s eating my pies?” because we all know that somebody is.

The Bitter Taste Of Injustice

When I think of my first years of school, I usually fist think of the girls I had crushes on, Lynn with her cute little smile, and Stephani with her big black bee hive hairdo, soon after though I usually remember some boy in my kindergarten class deciding it was his turn to play with my toy and hitting me in the head with a wooden block, a different boy punching me in the mouth as I swung on the swing at lunch, and devious little David hiding in the cloakroom jackets waiting for me to get my snack, then ambushing me with a knee to the nuts, at some point during that year, I also learned what it is like to have my hair pulled, my neck strangled, my skin scratched, and to be hit by rocks.

Through all the turmoil of my early school life, I had always held the belief that fairness would eventually be handed down by the adults around me, they always seemed to be there to save me from injustice, if someone stole my toy, they would bring it back to me, tell me everything was going to be alright, and punish the evil doer who took joy in my tears.

One day just before recess in first grade, an announcement came over the loudspeaker from Mrs Littlewood, stating that a bicycle had gone missing on the school grounds, we were told it was an orange bike with a banana seat on it. There was to be a reward for the finder of the bike of one giant sized Hershey Chocolate bar. Honestly at the age of six, I could not think of anything else I wanted more in the world. A chocolate bar as long as my arm and as wide as my stomach was a dream for me. I remember my older neighbor had once received one of these as a reward for delivering so many newspapers, he had tacked its wrapper to his wall above his bed like an award, and I was hoping to do the same.

Orange Bike with Banana Seat

Mission Objective: Orange Bike With A Banana Seat

The bell rang for recess, and I went running out the door with my friend Angus, strait to the bike racks in search of the orange bike with the banana seat, amazingly enough, we saw just such a bike only two meters in from where we first started looking, we grabbed it out of the rack, and ran it to the nearby office to see if it was indeed the bike they were looking for. Through the office doors we charged, there was Mrs Littlewood, we asked her if it was the bike, the parents were still in her office, and confirmed indeed it was the bike. We were so happy, but the looks on their faces were not as happy as ours, we did not know why.

We then went out to play at recess all excited telling several people we found the bike and that we were going to get the big chocolate bar. After recess was finished we both returned to Mrs Beatle’s classroom to continue our studies.

Let me tell you a bit about my first grade teacher Mrs Beatle, since she is a very important character in this story, and in fact a major cause of it. She was a rather large woman, with big chubby rosy cheeks, had curly died blond hair, dark tanned skin, and blue eyes. She liked to wear large bright colored flower dresses, large plastic necklaces and long dangling earrings. I remember she would often play us a sad Dolly Parton song about someone’s pet dog that died, as that was her favorite musician, and she thought we all needed multiple lessons about dying dogs for some reason. You may sense some bitterness in my memories towards her, and soon you will understand why.

Shortly after the bell rang, there was an announcement on the loud speaker stating that the bike had been found. Angus and I grinned from ear to ear about the good job that we had done, and a few moments later there was a knock on the door, with the principal holding the giant chocolate bar. He called Mrs Beatle out of the room for a moment, I suspect in hindsight,to share with her his suspicions of Angus of I finding the bike so fast, as he may have actually thought we were its thieves, which of course we were not. After a few moments Mrs Beatle came in with the chocolate bar. We were so excited. She made an announcement to the class that since Angus and I had found the bike, the chocolate bar would be divided amongst the class.

5 pound chocolate bar

This Should Have Been Me

Huh? What? Divided? That was Angus and My chocolate bar, and we did not say this was to be divided ? What is this ? She then put the large chocolate bar down on her desk, ripped  its precious wrapper, that I was hoping to put on my bedroom wall, opened the tin foil, and began to start breaking up the chocolate.

All of this was an absolute horror for my six year old eyes, how could she do this to something she did not own? I did not even get to touch the reward before this started, I wanted to hold it and look at it, and read the back, to sniff it and take it home to divide with my friend and put in the fridge to eat slowly. I wanted to show it to my Mum and hang its wrapper on the wall. My eyes soon started to fill with tears at the painful sight of our beloved reward being broken and damaged at the hands of another. I eventually stood up in protest, the announcement said the finder would be rewarded the chocolate bar, not the finder’s class. I went up to Mrs Beatle, who had already broken a piece off the chocolate bar and shoved it in her mouth about this, I said it was Angus and mine to do what we wanted with it. She told me it belonged to the class, we had to share, and that I should sit down.

I sat down and watched her divide up the massive chocolate bar into two squares for everyone in the class, and started calling people up to hand them out. Angus and I were called up alphabetically, no special than anyone else to get our two squares. When this was all done and I saw Mrs Beatle munching on yet more chocolate again, I went up to her desk upset, she still had over halve of the massive chocolate bar there, and she had already eaten more than me.

I said “Why do you get to eat more than Angus and I ? We found the bike not you. ”

She told me to “Grow Up” and gave me one more piece before wrapping up the massive chocolate bar with her plump fingers, and shoving it into her desk. I never saw it again.

I took that last piece she gave me, and chewed on it, it tasted good, the chocolate was sweet, I swallowed most of it, then my saliva washed away the rest,  after it was all gone, the only flavor that remained behind was the bitter taste of injustice.

And They Just Keep on Marching

Nobody likes bad people. Society for many thousands of years has tried to use religion to teach us our morals, the right from the wrong, and yet they still exist.

The dislike of nasty people is not confined to just the religious societies though, even in non religious societies evil doers are shunned and punished. Modern society has laws to punish the mean hearted among us. After all, if you let a bad guy run around stealing and hurting people, and you don’t lock them up, it could be you, or someone you care about next.

None of us is a true saint, but the best of us try to keep our bad side in check.

After doing the wrong thing, most people will stop in their tracks, realize what they have done, and turn to apologize or try and lessen their crimes. The worst of society however will commit a vile deed, and are happy about the outcome. They don’t consider or care about the hurt they have caused. They don’t stop to think about the damage they have done, there is no guilt to cause them pause. They hide from the truth and think of defenses if they get caught. Often they will get away with it and be free to march towards their next victim.

To all the uncaring jerks that avoided punishment and were able to march away after screwing others over, fleeing from the truth of their wrongful deeds like the chickens that they are, here is my salute to you:

Just Keep Marching Foul Fowls, One Day You Will Stop In Your Tracks.

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