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#Brexit and why I shall be voting “out”

So, an EU referendum. I’m a little tired of hearing most of the “better off in” merchants shouting about how we should stay in because of the economy, jobs or cheap olive oil or whatever. Also, I am sick and tired of the way the “better off inners” constantly seem to imply that the leavers are bigoted, ignorant xenophobes. One of the things we constantly hear from the “inners” is “where’s your evidence” when we put forward one of the reasons why we want “out”. To that I say: “where’s YOUR evidence?” See, thing is we don’t know what will happen either way we go. The inners have no better idea than the outers do. The world is a complex system, in politics, economies, cultures and so on. Nobody really knows what will happen if we leave, nobody knows what will happen if we stay in, ultimately it’s all speculation from either perspective.

However, thing is we live in a democracy and whilst I accept we elect our politicians to govern us in our best interests the reality is the vox populi’s interests aren’t particularly well represented and when we do get the chance to vote democratically we get skewed information and bias; for example the government leaflet sent to every British household at a cost of £9,000,000 Way to go Conservatives, where’s the leaflet telling people the reasons we’d be better off in?

Myself I want out. I was too young to vote for the Common Market back in the 1970s and therefore never had any say in the matter whatsoever and later we were dragged into “Europe” deeper and deeper, again without any input from the likes of me or indeed anyone else of the vox populi, whether they thought it was a good idea or not. Myself, I think the common market was a good idea. Free trade, what’s not to like? But we never saw what was going to happen in the future, we all thought that human beings had got beyond bickering, cheating and all the rest of it. But it seems not, we have countries such as Greece, lying about their economy in order to enter the EU and pestered about a currency few people seem to want here. The problem as I see it, is intrinsically we are all too different. Europe has a very eclectic range of nations and their cultures which doesn’t seem to allow for homogeny into a union. In my opinion we have more in common with Americans, Australians, Canadians and so on and not just the common language.

Way I see it, if we leave we face a lot of problems, but there again we’re facing a different set of problems if we stay in. I can’t see the EU ever working, as I said we don’t have much in common. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against other Europeans and am lucky to have friends in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland and Germany plus family in Italy.

Ultimately the people of this country will be asked a question that nobody has asked them for 42 years: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” The arguments “for” are much the same as they were in 1975 that we will be a poor, racist and lonely little island and can’t survive without the rest of Europe. Of course the reality is we don’t know if any of this would happen.

Ultimately I think the EU is a big disaster waiting to happen, a sinking ship if you will and being purely selfish I think we should make like rats and abandon now. Of course leaving is going to be fraught with problems as well but this is, in my opinion, the lesser evil, in the long run. I don’t want to see British sovereignty just “given away” to a federal European Union, which in my opinion will never work. As for the free trade? Even if we didn’t sign a free-trade deal with the EU, we would have to pay, at most, £7.5 billion a year in tariffs for access to EU markets and compared to what we pay to be members that’s a drop in the Atlantic.

Steve

 
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Who You Calling A C*nt?

Was perusing an old hard drive last night when I came across some MP3s I didn’t recognise. They turned out to be a selection of comedy sketches, some Ben Elton for example, Eddie Izzard and Derek and Clive …. I’d forgotten about Derek and Clive, although of course it’s all a “bit before my time” whereas Ben Elton was at his height when I was in my late teens.

If you’ve not heard Derek and Clive (Peter Cook & Dudley Moore) you might on first hearing consider this to be simply puerile and offensive drivel but I don’t know I find something humorous about it, but I’m a bloke so puerile and lavatory humour, well you get the idea. So anyway, Derek and Clive (according to my wife, she being significanlty older than me and remembering it so much better from the time) caused merry hell at the time and the complaints came streaming in, although I guess it wouldn’t cause so much outrage now as it did then. However, one sketch might, due to the fact that many people object to word “cunt.” This of course is called the “cunt Sketch” (how appropriate I guess.) Puerile? Offensive? Sure, but still funny and superb in its austere minimalism and at least they were funny unlike that total cunt Frankie Boyle 😉

Here it is, in it’s glory:

Dud: I tell you, the other day, some bloke came up to me, I dunno who it was, an’ he said, “You cunt.”

Pete: Yeah.

Dud: I said, “Wot?” ‘E said: “You cunt.”

Pete: Yeah, and you replied, “You fuckin’ cunt.”

Dud: I said … well, no, not straight away … I said: “You cunt,” I said …

Pete: Yeah, yeah …

Dud: … An’ then ‘e said …

Pete: … What’d he come back with?

Dud: ‘E come back, ‘e says, ‘e said “You fuckin’ cunt.”

Pete: You’re jokin’!

Dud: ‘E said, “You call me a …”

Pete: ‘E said “You fuckin’ cunt”?

Dud: ‘E said, “You call me a cunt? You fuckin’ cunt! …” I said, “You f—,” I said, “You fuckin’ cunt.”

Pete: I should ‘ope so. “You fuckin’ cunt …”

Dud: I said, “You fuckin’ cunt.” I said, “You fuckin’ come ‘ere an’ call me a fuckin’ cunt …”

Pete: I should say so.

Dud: I said, “You f—,” I said, “You cunt.” I said, “You fuckin’ cunt.” I said, “‘Oo are you fuckin’ callin’ cunt, cunt?”

Pete: Yeah, what’d ‘e say, cunt?

Dud: ‘E said, “You fuckin’ cunt!”

Pete: Well, you fuckin’ cunt! ‘Oo are you to say to ‘im that ‘e was a fuckin’ cunt?

Dud: Well, what d’you f—, what d’you fuckin’ think, mate? I’m fuckin’ defendin’ my fuckin’ self, aren’t I?

Pete: Well no. ‘E come up to you, call you “cunt,” that’s fair enough, or ‘e said, “You fuckin’ cunt,” an’ you said back to ‘im, “You fuckin’ fuckin’ cunt,” …

Dud: I said, well …

Pete: … well, what d’you expect ‘im to say back, apart from, “You fuckin’ stupid fuckin’ cunt”?

Dud: Well, I don’t … I don’t expect nothin’, do I?

Pete: No …

Dud: But the cunt come back with, “You fuckin’ cunt, cunt.”

Pete: Oh Christ.

Dud: I said, “You cunt?” I said, “You callin’ me a fuckin’ cunt? You fuckin’ …” I said, “You fuckin’ cunt.”

Pete: Jesus Christ, yeah.

Dud: I said, “You …,” I said, “You … you fuckin’ cunt!” …

Pete: Yeah …

Dud: … I said, like that.

Pete: Yeah. You said it, like that, did you? To ‘im.

Dud: Yeah.

Pete: Or was ‘e gone by then?

Dud: No, ‘e fuckin’ ‘it me. F— …

Pete: ‘It you, did ‘e?

Dud: Yeah, fuckin’ cunt.

Pete: Killed you dead, did ‘e?

Dud: No, ‘e … ‘e fuckin’ ‘it me.

Pete: Yeah, …

Dud: I said …

Pete: … well …

Dud: I said …

Pete: … you can’t blame ‘im, can you?

Dud: I said, “You … you rotter.”

Pete: Yeah.

Dud: An’ ‘e … ‘e went off.

Pete: Did ‘e?

Dud: An’ ‘e said, “You cunt,” again.

Pete: Well, that’s the only way to deal with ‘im, isn’t it?

Dud: Yeah, well, I showed ‘im, didn’t I?

Pete: Yeah, well, you ‘ad to, didn’t you? You ‘ad to stand up for what you stood for, didn’t you?

 
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Utility Warehouse is a big fat scam – More like Utility Scamhouse

Well it’s time to bring this back to your attention as someone I know has been “suckered” by them. There’s a company going around that basically promises to give you cheaper gas, electricity, internet and telephone, they are called Utility Whorehouse Shithouse Warehouse. It all sounds good but it’s a lie, a big fat lie at that.

First of all this is how it works: They give you a quote for what your bills will be and it’s always better than what you’re paying currently paying so off you go and sign up and the bills come in and they are cheaper BUT later on you suddenly find these bills are basically all “estimated” and you owe them a load of money and then when you sit down and work it all out it’s actually more expensive. Don’t be suckered by this, they are just a reseller of another company’s services, so how can they be cheaper? It’s not possible, they don’t buy gas and electricity “wholesale” like British Gas, Scottish Power and all the others who are REAL energy companies, this company is just a reseller so they can NEVER be cheaper.

Then there’s the pyramid scheme …. You can be more than just a customer, you can sign up and get a commission on all the suckers who become customers that you sign up, worse still (for them, maybe not for you) you can sign up other people to be sellers as well and you get a commission of their commission, bla la bla and so on. They call it “network marketing” but essentially it’s a pyramid scheme or multi level marketing and that means 99.9% of the people who sign up will fail to make any money and get ripped off. Because that’s the BUSINESS MODEL is: you pay the £200 (or whatever it is now, it was £200) and 99.9% of those £200 pound “joining fees” will end up lining the pockets of Utility Warehouse and you’ll make squat. Fortunately most people have common sense if someone knocks on their door and says you can get the cheapest gas or electricity etc and tells (as I would) them to go “boil your head” (or in my case something a lot less polite.)

When I signed up I should have known better, I’d been burned before (Herbalife), you had to get a minimum of 6 customers and then you started earning your monthly commissions. Trouble is it’s hard just to get that. People don’t believe you and rightly so. They say it’s easy but in reality if, like me, you’re the sort of person who can’t even sell £10 notes for £5 and not a natural sales-person you’re buggered. If you are a natural sales-person then yes you can make it work BUT if you were that person there’s far better ways to make far better money selling something more ethical.

The bastards never paid me my commission, despite getting the arbitrary “6 customers” and frankly the people who signed me up were no help at all and couldn’t give a shit about me. I was in desperate straits at the time, I had been suicidal and lost my home and business due to the recession and nobody gave a flying sh*t. Do you really want to deal with such a business?

MLM companies, bastards the lot of them, I hope you all burn in hell and I wouldn’t urinate on Utility Warehouse if they were on fire, I’d chuck some petrol on instead.

Steve

scam

 
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Yeah, sod making puff pastry, buy it. I don’t blame you Mary!

Bake Off judge Mary Berry admits even she and Paul Hollywood can’t be bother making puff pastry and buy the ready-made version.

“Such is the laborious nature of making puff pastry from scratch, Mary Berry admits that even she and Paul Hollywood opt for the ready-made version. But that did not stop the two Great British Bake Off judges setting it as a challenge on last night’s show – with disastrous results. Viewers saw several of the remaining contestants buckle under the pressure when asked to bake 48 filled vol-au-vents using puff pastry they had made themselves.”  Many struggled to get to grips with the notoriously tricky technique, which requires rolling thin buttery layers and then having enough patience to chill the dough.”

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Allow me to let you into a secret, as a former pastry chef myself (City & Guilds 706/3 thank you very much) who has worked in two top London restaurants, chefs very rarely make it either. There’s just no point, it’s a pain in the butt, and the bought stuff (presumably made by some sort of rolling and pressing machine) is more even than even the best chef can make it without a lot of time going “spare.” Time, which is needed elsewhere making mousses or syllabubs or gateaus or whatever. I’ve worked in restaurants, hotels, airline catering, pub kitchens and all sorts and I’ve never ever seen anyone make puff pastry.

However, the point of the Great British Bake Off is to set challenges for the budding bakers so yes it was a suitable “challenge.” Have I made puff pastry? Sure, in Catering college over 30 years ago, probably the only and only time and I can’t imagine bothering to make it again, too much effort for too little reward.

Steve

 

 
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Economic Models And Corporations For Dummies

Spotted this a number of times over the years, albeit not usually with cows or the Greece part added. Anyway, decided to repost it here. NewsTalkZB is presumably the people who created the pictures so credit goes to them for that.

Steve

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Tell me Clarice, does the ending of Hannibal the film make any sense?

Recently I have “rediscovered” Thomas Harris, and more specifically Hannibal Lecter. Thomas Harris, as you may well know wrote four books with the character of Hannibal Lecter in (aka Hannibal The Cannibal) which have been made into films. They are: Hannibal Rising, Red Dragon, Silence Of The Lambs and Hannibal (not the order they were written but the correct “reading order” so to speak.) If I remember correctly it was seeing the film version of Silence Of The Lambs which prompted me to read the books, and before Hannibal (the second film) came out as a film I had read Silence Of The Lambs, Red Dragon and Hannibal already. So having liked the Silence Of The Lambs film I was of course interested to see the “sequel” of Hannibal.

Oh dear. Now it’s easy to criticise a film and even easier to criticise a film based on a book, as in “it’s not as good as the book” or “they left Tom Bombadil out” (Lord Of The Rings, although leaving him out was a actually a pretty good idea, shame Tolkien didn’t leave him out of the book if you ask me.) However, the makers of the Hannibal film have basically “screwed it up”, so to speak. Part of the reason Silence Of The Lambs was good was the casting, let’s be honest. Anthony Hopkins was outstanding and ask anyone to name an actor who has played a serial killer in a film and he is probably the first person people mention. Anthony Hopkins was the ideal Hannibal Lecter, just like David Suchet was the definitive Hercule Poirot (who on earth thought Peter Ustinov was a good idea for Poirot?) Then of course we have Jodie Foster who plays Clarice Starling, the FBI trainee sent into the asylum to interview Lecter. The whole point of Starling to my mind was her social “standing”, her position in the greater scheme of things, she was from a poor background, an orphan, one who had fought our vain and shallow social system and “pecking order” to be in the FBI, she wasn’t from an expensive well connected social background and an elite university, she was a regular “plain Jane” who whilst attractive was not in the “beautiful people” circles of society.

What makes Silence Of The Lambs (and Hannibal) is the role which Starling and Lecter played to EACH OTHER. They have this scenario where Lecter asks her for personal information in order to help her track down a serial killer on a “quid pro quo” basis. Yet as the stories evolve you will see Lecter has a genuine interest in Starling and desires her, not in a sexual way, almost as a replacement to his dead sister Mischa (in Hannibal Rising.) The relationship between them in Silence Of The Lambs evolves from purely professional to one of mutual respect, even though Starling is trying to later catch Lecter after his escape (in Hannibal.) In Hannibal (the book) we see clearly that Starling, even if only subconsciously, has respect for Lecter and even concern. Despite trying to catch him (profiling etc) when she realises he has been kidnapped so he can be tortured and ultimately murdered she goes out of her way, risking her career and even her life in order to save him from such a fate. Just because he was seen as “evil” she still respected and cared about him.

As you probably know in the Hannibal film she is shot by one of Lecter’s kidnappers and Lecter carries her to safety and heals her wounds, drugs her (beneficially?) and treats her like a lady. Then Lecter captures the man who has made Starling’s career a misery and feeds her parts of this man’s brain etc. So with all this respect and care we are led to believe (by the film) that she does everything in her power to escape and manages to call the police and handcuff herself to Lecter in the kitchen (where Lecter chops his own hand off rather than Starling’s) and escapes to the sound of police cars arriving en masses with sirens blaring and Hannibal escaping and leaving the country yadda yadda and so on. The book of course differs. Now I’ve read several “articles” and comments and the like online about this different ending. Some will say “she would never done that, she was FBI” or quite simply “what a load of bullshit” and the like. But I’ve yet to see the reason that I postulate for Starling’s actions in the book.

For those who don’t know. In the book she is shot, Lecter carries her to safety, removes the bullet and helps her come to terms with her demons, by means conventional and unconventional, including her dislike for the man who made her career a misery because she refused to sleep with him years before (Paul Krendler) by cooking him for dinner for her. To my mind she comes to accept Lecter, desire him as a partner (again this is not purely sexual) and she knows that if they were together they could fill the gaps in each other’s lives, become the ideal coupling and of course if they achieve that Lecter will no longer need to kill and/or eat anyone. Simple eh?

So the film. The film was basically given the Hollywood “makeover”, from a purely commercial perspective. Jodie Foster had allegedly declined to take the role of Starling again as she objected to the ending of the book and claimed it to be out of character for Starling (yeah right, to my mind that’s exactly the way she would have gone in that scenario) so Julianne Moore became Starling. Remember I said above “she was a regular “plain Jane” who whilst attractive was not in the “beautiful people” circles of society.” Look at Jodie Foster down in the asylum dungeon, that’s exactly what she was, and whilst she could “scrub up” (as the expression goes) she certainly was not one of what I’ve termed “the beautiful people.” You know the type, good family background, good university, well connected and attractive enough not to be looked over all the time, the type sort of looks more like, oh I don’t know, Julianne Moore perhaps? Don’t get me wrong, I think Julianne Moore is rather gorgeous and a good actress but Clarice Starling she isn’t and never was going to be, just the same as Julia Mackenzie is a rubbish Miss Marple (yet more awful casting.)

I suspect the real reason the film ending was changed was to make a sequel “viable”, if they’d kept to the book’s ending they’d probably have found a sequel a lot harder to make (as it happens there isn’t one unless Thomas Harris writes another book, as Hannibal Rising is about Lecter’s childhood and written AFTER the other three books; plus I suspect Thomas Harris thinks the ending of the Hannibal film is as crap as I think it is.) Now the big problem with Hollywood, to my mind, is they basically think people are idiots, they create movies to make money sure, but in doing so there is a tendency to “dumb down” to the lowest common denominator in the target audience market. Hence, we get awful films like Redline (seriously, having watched that it’s a part of my life wasted, I want that time back) and the Matrix sequels (although the third film, if you understand postmodernism and the futility of seeking absolute truths is actually quite reasonable in parts.)

So there it is, my take on why the book ending is better than the film’s. I am well aware that some of you will consider me to be talking out of my derriere on this but that’s how I see it, and let’s face it there are no absolutes ….

 
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Kate the plastic homogenised and semi skimmed princess

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Modern? The Duchess of Cambridge is a throwback to 1500s, says top academic.

– Professor Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly says Kate is a 16th-century throwback
– She said: ‘It fascinates me that the Duchess of Cambridge is doing exactly the same kind of things that a queen consort would have done from 1500′
– Professor of German literature also finds the Duchess culturally lacking

With her middle-class background and penchant for thigh-skimming skirts, the Duchess of Cambridge has been credited with modernising the Royal Family. Not according to one Oxford academic, however, who has said Prince William’s Berkshire-born wife is a 16th-century throwback, but lacking the cultural influence of her predecessors. ‘It fascinates me that the Duchess of Cambridge is doing exactly the same kind of things that a queen consort would have done at any time from 1500 on,’ sniffs Professor Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly, Emeritus Fellow of Exeter College, suggesting that their foremost duty is to provide an heir and spare.

‘The role has not changed at all, even though the Duchess is middle-class and British.’ Watanabe-O’Kelly’s disparaging remarks echo Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel, who once called the Duchess a ‘shop window mannequin, with no personality of her own’, whose only purpose is ‘to give birth’. The professor of German literature, who is researching the cultural role of foreign consorts, also finds Kate Middleton culturally lacking.

Obviously I’m no fashion guru (I have very little dress sense but in my defence it’s at least better than my father’s was) but even I can detect differences between eras when it comes to ladies’ fashions. To my eye she seem to be something of a throwback to the 1950s or 1960s. She has that sort of lean “little black dress” Audrey Hepburn sense style to my eye. Having said that there’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion, it’s certainly an improvement on the so called “dress” she wore which allegedly “stunned” William when he first met her.

Is she culturally lacking? I don’t think so, I think she’s simply lacking in “alternative input” in the Royal structure. She’s too “right” for the part in my opinion. That’s why I liked Sarah Ferguson, as a “Royal” she rocked the boat, she was fun and had metaphorical “balls” and even to this day I kind of admire the woman. Personally I feel Kate is just going through the motions, doing the “royal duty” by looking the part, keeping her trap shut and producing heirs to the throne, and if your idea of monarchy fits into the idea of royals being there to serve a “part” then it’s all very admirable. I just can’t help thinking it’s all very “safe” though, like semi skimmed homogenised milk, it’s ok but nothing to get excited about. So in many respects she is a plastic princess, an animated mannequin fulfilling her part but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just all a bit “Stepford Wives.”

So to me, simply going by what I see in the media, yes she is plastic and homogenised, a bit “generic” and slightly “bland”; but like I say that’s only going by what the media shows us, she could be an absolute hoot for all I know 😀  Myself? Personally I prefer someone with a bit more “oomph.”

Steve

 
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Cardiff Lesbians In Food Furore

Lesbian couple’s fury after being ordered to stop kissing by security guard at food festival who told them their behaviour was ‘inappropriate’

– Mog Wilde and girlfriend Freya pictured kissing at the Cardiff Food Festival
– A number of people complained about the couple’s ‘open affection’
– Eventually a security guard was called who asked the women to stop

A lesbian couple were ordered to stop kissing by a security guard at a food festival after people complained that their behaviour was ‘disgusting’. Mog Wilde and girlfriend Freya, both 35, from Pembrokeshire, were visiting the Cardiff Food Festival where they claim they were ‘affectionately holding hands and kissing’ as they danced to live music. But the couple said they were left shaken and upset when people started to complain, saying their actions were ‘obscene’ and ‘disgusting’.

Obscene and disgusting? No, not really, well not in my opinion. But not really appropriate for the location. I mean I don’t know about you but I don’t want to see people snogging in public, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman or even a man and a man, I really don’t care. My objection would be it’s just poor taste and inappropriate regardless of the genders involved. There’s a time and a place for everything after all.

Eventually a security guard was called who asked the women to stop kissing. Ms Wilde said: ‘We were dancing to the live music and I kissed Freya because she looked so beautiful and it was her birthday’.

I have no issue with a quick kiss or holding hands in public but this picture clearly shows that this is not what this is all about. This is about two “attention seekers”. As for “I kissed Freya because she looked so beautiful” that’s bullsh*t and you know it. Well “Mog Wilde” and “Freya” the game is up, everybody now knows you are a pair of attention seeking media loving wannabes. If you want to be famous do something useful instead, because useful this isn’t. Oh and show some respect and courtesy for the people around you.

Steve

 
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Will Amazon last forever? Or will ‘dat river run dry ….

You’ve all heard of Amazon right? Oh, come on surely you all have. I myself started using Amazon.com back in the 1990s, when Amazon.co.uk was but a twinkle in its .com daddy’s eyes. I discovered it mainly because of university, more precisely university books and how much the damn things cost if you bought them from “bricks and mortar” bookshops and like most people I never gave much thought to how Amazon could sell them cheaper than Waterstones or whatever bookshop was around, I was an academic damn it! Not a damn entrepreneur and/or business man. I was just glad to save a few dollars (yeah I bought from the .com site then) on my books, especially as I could pay £24.99 here or $19.99 with delivery, it was a no brainer for me and probably every other student I told about it.

Fast forward a couple of years and I started selling things on eBay and on Amazon BIG TIME. My business was the highest rated eBay UK seller account for a number of years and the Amazon feedback and rating wasn’t too shabby either but it was always tough, no matter what you sold some ba*&^rd (usually Amazon) was selling what we sold but cheaper and like every eBay seller I could never quite get my head round “how” exactly. As I understand it (I’m not sure there’s a class about this specifically if you’re an MBA student but maybe) there’s a sort of “unwritten rule” that 40% of a retail price has to be profit to the retailer, anything less is basically considered “not worth getting out of bed for.” So let’s have a look at some mathematics here:

1 x Marley & Me DVD – Wholesale price £13.61 plus VAT (this is just an example, it was that price when it was released, it isn’t worth squat now) = £16.33 just to get it from a DVD wholesaler (a rare beast these days, they’ve virtually all gone under.) Amazon probably got a “discount” on that £13.61 of up to 40% (I never heard of anybody getting more than that, even the “mighty” Amazon) = £13.61 -40% plus VAT = £9.80 and Amazon probably flogged it for £10.99 maybe? That’s not a lot of profit % there. So looking at Amazon’s business model back in my eBay/Amazon (I no longer sell on either) era I tended to scratch my head and go “eh? You what? Run that by me again.”

It turns out Amazon doesn’t make any money. Worse still, for Amazon (but not for CEO Jeff Bezos but we’ll come back to that) the shareholders are starting to get a bit pi**ed about this little fact. Since Amazon’s launch (.com was the first in the USA) in 1994 Amazon has struggled to actually break even, let alone make a profit. Rejecting standards of success such as “loads of dollars in the bank and happy shareholders kerching” Amazon measures its success with stuff like “profitless prosperity.”

You’ll just have to “imagine” the concubines I guess ….

So we come to: profitless prosperity. This is basically a way of saying that the company is growing and growing until it reaches a critical point when it becomes all powerful and makes so much money the directors and shareholders will be diving into swimming pools of Dollars, Pounds and Euros whilst surrounded by hordes of gorgeous concubines and admirers (but presumably no ducks) and being finally able to buy a gold plated Rolls Royce or something equally pointless. Despite having had an extensive university education none of it was in business or finance but I have learnt a handful of “rules” over the years:

  • There’s ALWAYS competition (unless you’re the first, in which case there soon will be competition.)
  • Some ba*&^rd will always but always come along thinking “I can sell that as well but cheaper, we’ll be rich mwuahahaha.”
  • Nothing lasts forever.
  • Don’t buy shares in Amazon (something else we’ll come back to later.)

Amazon also have something called “free cash flow” which at $2 billion a year sounds mighty impressive don’t it? Heck, what I could do with $2 billion a year, I’d be up to my eyeballs in concubines and gold plated Aston Martins. Trouble is free cash flow in pragmatic terms basically means “the money we pay suppliers with on time.” Well, errr, paying suppliers is kind of important you know? Amazon wouldn’t have a business at all if they didn’t do that and that money comes under “expense” on your Excel spreadsheet (although I’m guessing Amazon’s finance department has gone beyond Excel?) and not under “net profit.”

Yeah, I actually Googled for gold plated Aston Martins and found one …

For some reason I can’t quite get, these are seen as indicators of a good, solid and successful business model. I can see why Amazon is so big, a lot of people are “vultures” (I mean this in a kind way, I do understand you want to save money) and if widget A is cheaper at Amazon than at Target/Gamestop/Virgin Records/HMV/whatever then people will buy widget A at Amazon. The harsh truth here is the average “man in the street” doesn’t care if Amazon goes under tomorrow as long as he only paid $10 delivered for Taylor Swift’s latest CD as oppose to $15 from the shop up the road. It’s not the man in the street’s problem after all.

So how did Amazon get so big? It’s a PLC, a public limited company. Some basic explanation here as I realise not everybody will understand how this works (feel free to skip down a few sentences if you want.) In the United Kingdom where I reside there are essentially three main types of business:

  • A sole trader. This is someone who starts a business for themselves and they are essentially “the business”, if it goes under money wise they go under as well. This tends to be your basic stuff like taxi drivers, couriers, small shop owners and the like. Don’t be fooled by “sole”, a sole trader can still have employees, the “sole” part just means one person is the business from a legal perspective.
  • A limited company. This is where a company is registered with a government organisation (in the case of the United Kingdom Companies House) and the “one person” who registers the company owns one “share” of the company for which they pay £1.00 (sterling, about US $1.60) and the company becomes a “legal entity” in its own right, if it goes under it goes under but the shareholder doesn’t go under because he/she isn’t legally responsible for the company although they have an obligation to keep the company in good standing and accountable to scrutiny etc.
  • A PLC, a public limited company. Most limited companies start as 1 person 1 share 1 pound although if two people start it 1 person may have 1 share the other 4 shares so the owner of 4 shares gets 80% of the profit (4+1=5 and 4 = 80% of 5 etc) or it may be a 1 share each 50/50 arrangement, whatever.  Later on a limited company (I presume a company has to be limited as a prerequisite to becoming a PLC) can “float” their company on the stock market and make available more “shares” of the company to all and sundry, this is a “public” (hence the all and sundry) limited company. The shares are then bought and sold on the stock market, you can buy some shares at say £2.50 each today and maybe next week they’ll be worth £5.00 at which point you can sell them, kerching 100% profit minus a bit of commission and money in the bank.)

Amazon is a public limited company. I myself owned several thousand pounds worth of shares in Amazon until I sold them last year, spring 2014 to be precise. In October 2014 Amazon’s shares took a hit and lost 20% of their value (I was a bit early in selling them but spring was better than October obviously!) and Amazon made a loss of US $437,000,000 for the YEAR, a tenfold increase on the previous year’s loss. January 2015 and the next “loss” is US $241,000,000, damn that’s a lot of money. Naturally Amazon’s directors are keen to reassure the shareholders (not me I’m out) but it doesn’t look good does it?

Remember that £1.00 a share to start the business? When a £1.00 a share limited company becomes a public limited company and grows and the value of shares goes up the directors (themselves being members of the public as well as directors) can buy more shares in the company, and that’s how the CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos got to be worth US $3800,000,000 so he’s alright even if Amazon went bankrupt tomorrow …. It comes across to me as a sort of “retail charity”, all it achieves is giving consumers cheaper products giving nothing back to the shareholders, the people who basically invested in Amazon (granted some were just hoping to buy them and flog them later for a profit like myself), but if it went under think how many people would lose their jobs and businesses that would go under because they supply Amazon and so on.

It’s all a bit grim if you ask me.

Steve

PS Having said all of that do feel free to buy the following eBook, so I can afford a gold plated Aston Martin 🙂

 

 
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formats

Some eBay “WTF?” Moments for you all, enjoy ;-)

Thought you might all find it amusing to see some eBay “daft moments” so here it is, a page to remind you of the occasional insanity of eBay, how daft some buyers and sellers can be etc.

1) Not my sort of thing but it doesn’t look too bad to me….


2) Ah yes, us “retarded” English speakers, must speak American ….

3) Yeah right and I’m Jackie Chan ….

4) At the time these were £17.01 less 40% discount plus VAT …. So let me think about your offer, how about “go boil your head you bottom feeding knobhead”?

5) Some people don’t understand format c:\

6) Damn your friends are so funny ….

7) Well what can I say?

8) Well yes, I guess we made a bit of “pig’s ear” out of that one ….

9) Ah yes the goodness of my heart …. No, f off

10) Hey I like the Hairy Bikers!

11) You have to feel for this poor woman ….

12) I’ve still got one, wanna give me £10 for it eh? (Thought not, needless to say a lot dearer at the time)

13) Seriously, words fail me ….

14) Oh God Harry Wojahn, he was the bane of my life for about 6 months, every day a virtual essay on how he’d been conned, yeah whatever ….

15) Looks like Maggie bought some of the cheap contact lenses to me ….

16) And I didn’t think we could get dafter than the CD question above ….

17) Yeah yeah it’s fake but it seems like an idea eBay should implement ….

18) Ooer ….

19) Stay classy eBay ….

20) Classier still ….

21) Preserved for …. Well those who need to know why it’s preserved do.

22) Some more postive comments from eBay staff related to the email above.

23) Another one eBay should implement like 18 above ….

Steve

 

 
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