Posts tagged ‘Yellow Pages’

Net Neutering and Innovation -- Would Google Even Exist Under These New Rules?

From Gordon Crovitz at the WSJ 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler justified Obamanet by saying the Internet is “simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee.” He got it backward: Light-handed regulation made today’s Internet possible.

What if at the beginning of the Web, Washington had opted for Obamanet instead of the open Internet? Yellow Pages publishers could have invoked “harm” and “unjust and unreasonable” competition from online telephone directories. This could have strangled Alta Vista and Excite, the early leaders in search, and relegated Google to a Stanford student project. Newspapers could have lobbied against Craigslist for depriving them of classified advertising. Encyclopedia Britannica could have lobbied against Wikipedia.

Competitors could have objected to the “fast lane” that Amazon got from Sprint at the launch of the Kindle to ensure speedy e-book downloads. The FCC could have blocked Apple from integrating Internet access into the iPhone. Activists could have objected toAOL bundling access to The Wall Street Journal in its early dial-up service.

Among the first targets of the FCC’s “unjust and unreasonable” test are mobile-phone contracts that offer unlimited video or music. Netflix , the biggest lobbyist for utility regulation, could be regulated for how it uses encryption to deliver its content.

Until Congress or the courts block Obamanet, expect less innovation. During a TechFreedom conference last week, dissenting FCC commissioner Ajit Pai asked: “If you were an entrepreneur trying to make a splash in a marketplace that’s already competitive, how are you going to differentiate yourself if you have to build into your equation whether or not regulatory permission is going to be forthcoming from the FCC? According to this, permissionless innovation is a thing of the past.”

This is yet another example of an effect I have observed before -- why is it that the media is willing to raise concerns about an expansion of government power only after that expansion has passed.  We saw it before on ethanol and the stimulus bill, and now I think we are going to start to see it on net neutering.  A cynic might say that the media wants these expansions of power to occur, but also want to be able to point to their own prescience when these expansions inevitably cause problems.

Spam Call of the Day

Me:  Hello?
Caller:  I represent your local yellow pages and need to update our information on your account

BIG RED FLAG:  There are many scam artists out there who take your business information and then treat it like a "buy" order for advertising and bill later.  Beware people calling saying they are just trying to "update your listing."   I have also had folks who actually cut and pasted recordings of my phone calls to paste my answers to questions that have not been asked.

Me:  What city are you representing?
C:  we're local
M:  Local where?
C: here
M:  I have 200 locations across the country, what local area are you representing?
C: we're worldwide -- everywhere.
M:  CLICK (me hanging up)

Wow, telemarketing scripts by Kafka.  Unbelievably, they called again 10 seconds later

M: Hello
C:  We represent Phoenix
M:  OK, Phoenix.  I don't have any operations in Phoenix, just my HQ.  I don't want to be listed in Phoenix
C:  You are already listed
M:  Well that explains why I get calls at my accounting office looking for a camping space.  Please remove me.
C:  Can I have your name please
M:  No you may not.  You said I had an account already.  You should know my name  CLICK

Incredibly, my new favorite Indian pitbull telemarketer calls again

M:  Hello
C:  blah, blah, something, blah blah.
M:  Look, please take this down.  I do not want a yellow pages listing in Phoenix.  I would like my Yellow Pages listing removed in Phoenix.  I do not want to pay you any money.  I do not want to give you any information.  I do not want you to call me any more.  CLICK

I do not want it sam I am.  I do not want green eggs and spam. 

I probably still will get a bill.

$5000 A Day Fine for Dancing

Congrats Pinal County, which border phoenix to the southeast, for pushing government intrusiveness to a new level:

At the conclusion of what Pinal County officials said was the longest
code compliance hearing in the county's history, San Tan Flat owner
Dale Bell was ordered to pay an initial $5,000 fine Tuesday for
customers dancing in the open-air portion of the restaurant. He will
also be fined $5,000 for every day people dance at his restaurant
starting Feb. 17.

Bell, who does not advertise or encourage dancing at San Tan Flat,
acknowledges that people do dance on weekend nights and it's usually
parents with children or senior couples. He has even put up signs
discouraging it.

   "It's impossible to ... ensure no one breaks out in the waltz or two step," Bell said....

County Attorney Seymour Gruber said dancing outside violates a
county code because it's not happening in an enclosed area with walls
and a roof. The county wants Bell to stop the dancing, limit it to
inside only or get a special use permit which requires public input
from neighboring property owners.

We wouldn't want people dancing without wall or a roof, would we?  I mean, there is probably a 0.5% chance they could get rained on or something.  If you are thinking this is some grizzled biker joint or a shack of a place, you are wrong.  Its actually one year old and quite nice - check out the picture.  For those of you in other parts of the country, where the idea of a family honky-tonk may seem odd, this concept is very popular in Arizona.

So why is this government harassment going on?  Well I have gotten better at decoding these things, and my sense is that it started with noise complaints, which many commercial establishments get:

There have been no complaints against San Tan Flat for dancing,
but both the county and Bell have received noise complaints about the
live music. The restaurant has not been cited for noise because the
volume has been within acceptable levels.

So the county got noise complaints, and my guess is that one of the complainers had some strong political pull (or else they would never have pursued it this far).  Particularly since this is not a population-dense area, and there is little housing directly nearby (see Google satellite map, just click on satellite in the upper right to see all the surrounding, uh, dirt).  I mean it's right next to an airport, for god sakes.   Thus, wanting to satisfy what could only be a high-profile complainer, the county moved in and pulled out the rubber glove and gave the restaurant a good probing.  And, since it is impossible to be in compliance with every stupid ordinance on the books (many conflict, so that you can't be in compliance) the city found something they thought they could make stick.  The only issue I can't decode is whether they are trying to use this as a bargaining chip to get operating hour or noise level changes, or if they are using it a s a club to close the place down.  It probably depends mostly on how much juice the key complainer has who is driving this.

The good news is that the IJ is on the case.

PS-  If you really want to get pissed off, read some of the other economic liberty cases being handled right now by the IJ.  Many of them are great examples of a point I have made for years, that state licensing of professions is more about protecting the professions from competition than they are about protecting the consumer.  If you haven't seen it, George Will had a great editorial on the same topic, which includes this gem:

In New Mexico, anyone can work as an interior designer. But it
is a crime, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in
prison, to list yourself on the Internet or in the Yellow Pages as, or
to otherwise call yourself, an "interior designer" without being
certified as such. Those who favor this censoring of truthful
commercial speech are a private group that controls, using an exam
administered by a private national organization, access to that title.

This is done in the name of "professionalization," but it really
amounts to cartelization. Persons in the business limit access by
others "” competitors "” to full participation in the business.

"¦in Las
Vegas, where almost nothing is illegal, it is illegal "”
unless you are licensed, or employed by someone licensed "” to move, in
the role of an interior designer, any piece of furniture, such as an
armoire, more than 69 inches tall. A Nevada bureaucrat says that
"placement of furniture" is an aspect of "space planning" and therefore
is regulated "” restricted to a "registered interior designer." Placing
furniture without a license? Heaven forfend.

Best of Coyote VI

Well, it worked for Johnny Carson, why not for me?  Instead of
leaving you with dead air (photons?) while I am knocking the rust off
my beer pong skills back at Princeton, I will share with you a few of
my favorite posts from my early days of blogging.  Since most of these
posts were viewed by about 5 people, there is a certain temptation to
just recycle them without attribution, given the unlikelihood of
getting caught.  Instead, though, I will share them as my best of
Coyote...

Enough!  This series has slid well past the point of narcisism.   It has been fun setting this up, much like setting the light timers before I go away on a trip (for those that don't know, Typepad allows one to cue up posts with a series of future dates on which these posts appear.  I am actually typing this on Wednesday night.  The thought of light timers gets me thinking of home improvement, so in that spirit I will end with "Pocket Doors and My Manhood"

Our bathroom has a pocket door to save space - that's one of those doors that slide on a hidden rail in and out of the wall.
From time to time, usually because my kids go slamming into it, the
door comes off its rails and gets jammed, which is a problem as it can
bottleneck some very critical facilities.

The first time this happened, I tried to get it back on its track,
but I just could not.  The track is up in the wall and it is almost
impossible due to the lack of clearance to do anything with it.  I
checked in the Yellow Pages and saw there was actually a company that
specialized in pocket door repairs, so I called them out.  Well, Joe
(or whoever) shows up with his little tool kit, looks at the door for a
second, grabbed it in a certain way, and then gave it a quick jerk -
kabam - and it was back in its tracks.  It took him like 5 seconds. 

Well, there I stood, completely unmanned, right in front of my
laughing wife and family, by Joe the visible butt-crack guy.  Bummer.

Since that time, I have had the door come untracked two or three
times.  Thinking to save me further embarrassment, my wife tends to ask
any passing stranger to come in and fix it.  I can sit there for hours
fighting the thing, and then my wife brings in the guy painting the
house - kabam - fixed.  Next time she brought in the 60+ year old sales
guy who happened to be there - kabam - fixed.  I swear, if Paris Hilton
was dropping by for a visit she could probably fix that damn door.  It
is humiliating.

Well, this time I would not allow my wife get someone else to fix
it.  Every night, for about 10 minutes, I would take my innings with
the door, struggling to do what everyone else seemed to have learned at
birth.  I actually suggested to my wife that we should call out a
contractor and tear the thing out and install a real door.  She
suggested instead that she could have our 13-year-old baby sitter come
in from the other room to fix it.  Finally, tonight, when I was about
to give up, I tried holding it in a slightly different way and - Kabam
- fixed.  God I feel great.  My manhood is restored and I am at the top
of the world.

In case my plane is late and I can't blog on Monday - happy Memorial Day and many thanks to all those who have served in our country's military.

On Google and Losing My Blog Focus

In the beginning,  I tried to write a blog about my day to day experiences as a small business person.  That lasted about a day, mainly because I have the attention span of a 7-year-old boy mainlining Hershey Bars.  I still blog a lot about running a small business, but I also comment on political trends, mainly from a libertarian point of view, and anything else that happens to strike my fancy that day.

However, with Google out there, I have lost even more focus and control of my blog's positioning.  A lot of my traffic is Google hits, and it turns out there are two particular searches that drive a non-trivial portion of my traffic.  That means for many readers, my blog is defined by these two topics:

  • Pocket Doors
  • Spanking

Yes, call me the Pocket Door and Spanking Blog now.  LOL.  Anyway, if only to reinforce my strong Google rankings on these meaningful topics, here is how I became the Pocket Door and Spanking Blog:

Pocket Doors and My Manhood  (December, 2005)

Our bathroom has a pocket door to save space - that's one of those doors that slide on a hidden rail in and out of the wall.
From time to time, usually because my kids go slamming into it, the
door comes off its rails and gets jammed, which is a problem as it can
bottleneck some very critical facilities.

The first time this happened, I tried to get it back on its track,
but I just could not.  The track is up in the wall and it is almost
impossible due to the lack of clearance to do anything with it.  I
checked in the Yellow Pages and saw there was actually a company that
specialized in pocket door repairs, so I called them out.  Well, Joe
(or whoever) shows up with his little tool kit, looks at the door for a
second, grabbed it in a certain way, and then gave it a quick jerk -
kabam - and it was back in its tracks.  It took him like 5 seconds. 

Well, there I stood, completely unmanned, right in front of my
laughing wife and family, by Joe the visible butt-crack guy.  Bummer.

Since that time, I have had the door come untracked two or three
times.  Thinking to save me further embarrassment, my wife tends to ask
any passing stranger to come in and fix it.  I can sit there for hours
fighting the thing, and then my wife brings in the guy painting the
house - kabam - fixed.  Next time she brought in the 60+ year old sales
guy who happened to be there - kabam - fixed.  I swear, if Paris Hilton
was dropping by for a visit she could probably fix that damn door.  It
is humiliating.

Well, this time I would not allow my wife get someone else to fix
it.  Every night, for about 10 minutes, I would take my innings with
the door, struggling to do what everyone else seemed to have learned at
birth.  I actually suggested to my wife that we should call out a
contractor and tear the thing out and install a real door.  She
suggested instead that she could have our 13-year-old baby sitter come
in from the other room to fix it.  Finally, tonight, when I was about
to give up, I tried holding it in a slightly different way and - Kabam
- fixed.  God I feel great.  My manhood is restored and I am at the top
of the world.

Spanking Employees  (November, 2005)

Well, just when you think you have seen every way to screw up in a small business, there comes this story.

The owner of a shaved ice business was arrested after two employees claimed he spanked them for making mistakes at work.

And more...

One
of the women told police that on her first day at the Tasty Flavors Sno
Biz, Levengood made her sign a statement that said: "I give Gene
permission to bust my behind any way he sees fit."

Hat tip to Jim Rome, as I first heard this on his radio show, and to the Mises Institute,
of all places, where I found the link.  This story has been out and
about for a while, but I wanted to give it a few days to make sure it
was not a hoax.

To make this more bizarre, I did a Google search to see if
anyone had called this out as a hoax, and found that there have been
many similar stories in other places, including here and here.

Sigh.  Oh well, I guess a weird identity is better than no identity at all.

Pocket Doors and My Manhood

Our bathroom has a pocket door to save space - that's one of those doors that slide on a hidden rail in and out of the wall.  From time to time, usually because my kids go slamming into it, the door comes off its rails and gets jammed, which is a problem as it can bottleneck some very critical facilities.

The first time this happened, I tried to get it back on its track, but I just could not.  The track is up in the wall and it is almost impossible due to the lack of clearance to do anything with it.  I checked in the Yellow Pages and saw there was actually a company that specialized in pocket door repairs, so I called them out.  Well, Joe (or whoever) shows up with his little tool kit, looks at the door for a second, grabbed it in a certain way, and then gave it a quick jerk - kabam - and it was back in its tracks.  It took him like 5 seconds. 

Well, there I stood, completely unmanned, right in front of my laughing wife and family, by Joe the visible butt-crack guy.  Bummer.

Since that time, I have had the door come untracked two or three times.  Thinking to save me further embarrassment, my wife tends to ask any passing stranger to come in and fix it.  I can sit there for hours fighting the thing, and then my wife brings in the guy painting the house - kabam - fixed.  Next time she brought in the 60+ year old sales guy who happened to be there - kabam - fixed.  I swear, if Paris Hilton was dropping by for a visit she could probably fix that damn door.  It is humiliating.

Well, this time I would not allow my wife get someone else to fix it.  Every night, for about 10 minutes, I would take my innings with the door, struggling to do what everyone else seemed to have learned at birth.  I actually suggested to my wife that we should call out a contractor and tear the thing out and install a real door.  She suggested instead that she could have our 13-year-old baby sitter come in from the other room to fix it.  Finally, tonight, when I was about to give up, I tried holding it in a slightly different way and - Kabam - fixed.  God I feel great.  My manhood is restored and I am at the top of the world.

WELCOME Carnival of the Vanities!  My post this week is a little more whimsical than usual.  If you need to chew on something more serious, check out a 60 second refutation of socialism while sitting at the beach.