April 3rd, 2006

buzzed, B&W

Is REI evil?

So, a while ago Tony was feeling guilty for shopping at REI. I was reminded of this fact by the recent AP article about REI's success (a good online version is on the Austin Statesman). As the article states, REI is slightly unusual in that they're a co-op - you pay a one time $15 fee to join, and then you get a 10% annual dividend based on your purchases. Last year, REI cleared a billion in revenue, and paid out more than fifty million in dividends. Again, comparing to Google, which stated in it's last financial report that it has no plans to pay dividends - in other words they're hoarding their money, probably to invest in more people and technology.

REI only has 3% of it's member's voting - I wonder how that compares to Google's shareholders . . . not that it matter's when majority control of the company is still controlled by Brin and Page (as far as I know) . . .

On the charitable giving side, REI gave $4 million - compare that to Google's philanthropic arm that gave $33 million in advertising, but that's an in-kind donation for Google. I'm not sure how much they've give out through their other branches.

I've only shopped at REI once, and I'm not a member as the closest store is in Missoula.

While I don't think Google is evil, I think it's difficult to argue that REI is evil . . .
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buzzed, B&W

Profanity

So, Jason Mohr, one of the writers for the local paper, had this post about language in his professional blog.

The Associated Press Profanity Study (PDF) asked questions such as how often do you encounter people using profanity (3/4 said frequently/occasionally) and how much does it bother you when people use profanity or swear words (2/3 said a lot/some). I'd be interested to see the raw data, to see how the percentages correlate with the demographic data they asked (i.e. is there a correlation between age and profanity? education? political party?)

I'm pretty strongly anti-profanity - I try not to use it, and generally find the use of profanity offensive. I find it very ineloquent when people resort to using the f-bomb every other word, using it as noun, verb, and adjective because it's convenient. My sentiments parallel those of Montana NPR, which has a spot they run (or they used to) about how they believe in precise language. Words can be very powerful - clearly expressing oneself is something I respect.

This is probably one reason so many people dislike email. They complain that they're losing the nuances of conversation, or even a phone call, but much of that could be alleviated by people improving their communication skills (not that I receive that many profanity laced emails).

Of course, I'm definitely in the minority here - when I told my students that I abhorred the use of profanity and wouldn't tolerate it in my class, they thought I was a freak. Not surprising, considering that most of them wouldn't go less than five minutes w/o using profanity.

I even had someone go off on me at No Sweat when we were talking about this, saying that my view point was stupid (with gratuitous use of profanity no less).

The other big reason I dislike the common use of profanity is that these words lose value - much like the boy who cried wolf, if you constantly use the f-bomb, eventually you have no where left to go when you want to express something stronger.
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