Archive for November 15th, 2008

Reign Of Terror Finally Drawing To An End

After years of frustration, denial, and bloodshed, sanity is finally starting to return:

A number of retailers and manufacturers have a gift for holiday shoppers: product packaging that will not result in lacerations and stab wounds.

The companies, including, Sony, Microsoft and Best Buy, have begun to create alternatives to the infuriating plastic “clamshell” packages and cruelly complex twist ties that make products like electronics and toys almost impossible for mere mortals to open without power tools.

Impregnable packaging has incited such frustration among consumers that an industry term has been coined for it — “wrap rage.” It has sent about 6,000 Americans each year to emergency rooms with injuries caused by trying to pry, stab and cut open their purchases, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“I shouldn’t have to start each Christmas morning with a needle nose pliers and wire cutters,” said Jeffrey P. Bezos, the father of four young children and founder of “But that is what I do, I arm myself, and it still takes me 10 minutes to open each package.”

This month, Mr. Bezos pledged to lead the charge into a new era of nonhostile containers.

In Amazon’s “frustration-free packaging” initiative involving Mattel, its subsidiary Fisher-Price, Microsoft and Transcend, an electronics maker, the companies will ship some of their best-selling products to Amazon in cardboard boxes that don’t fight back. Mr. Bezos hopes to sell all of Amazon’s products in such environmentally benign, consumer-friendly packaging — a goal he said would take years to achieve. “Everyone is excited about this project here,” he said. “Everyone had their own war stories.”


Microsoft recently unveiled an unusual container for the Explorer computer mice it sells at Best Buy. The mouse looks typically imprisoned in its package at first glance. But the container actually has a plastic zipper on each side — inspired by the packaging of food items, Microsoft said — with blue arrows that guide buyers into easily unlocking their purchase.

Sony, meanwhile, has started an ambitious internal project it optimistically calls “death of the clamshell.” The electronics giant is developing three packaging prototypes it plans to test in the coming months at Best Buy and Wal-Mart Stores. One uses an adhesive that is easy to pry open but makes a loud Velcro-like noise — intended to deter thieves.


For the last few years, Consumer Reports has published an annual Oyster Awards for the clamshell packages that are most frustrating to open. Last year’s winner: an Oral-B sonic toothbrush kit from Procter & Gamble and the Bratz Sisterz dolls from MGA Entertainment, which took an adult tester eight and a half minutes to open.

For consumers like Lisa Martin, a mother of two from Chicago, such packaging means exhausting birthday mornings as her young children wonder impatiently why a cluster of adults are stabbing at their new presents with knives and scissors.

“I understand antitheft. But when you get home and it takes two days to get your purchase open, it kind of defeats the purpose,” said Ms. Martin, who was so enthusiastic about Amazon’s “frustration-free” initiative she offered in her blog to “make out” with the company.

This is the best, most hopeful news I’ve had all year.  Well, this, and that election thing.

1 comment November 15th, 2008 at 11:00pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Apparently Saturn has a “beanie cap” of unexplained aurora activity.

Yes, that’s an actual (infrared) photo.

November 15th, 2008 at 09:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science

More Random Philly Photoblogging

Just some more Philly photos with absolutely nothing in common.
* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
Possibly some sort of devil-pigeon.

* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
Parking garage.

* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
Sculpture bolted to the side of a building. It was in some rather pleasant shades of blue, but I liked the sharpness of the shadows and the glow of the light in B&W.

November 15th, 2008 at 05:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging

First Amendment For We But Not For Thee

It was awful enough that the Mormons (and Catholics) saw fit to fund an all-out blitz to amend the California constitution to outlaw gay marriage – but now, after breaking the hearts of millions of gay couples in California and across the country, they have the fucking nerve to act outraged when they face protests:

[T]he extent of the protests has taken many Mormons by surprise. On Friday, the church’s leadership took the unusual step of issuing a statement calling for “respect” and “civility” in the aftermath of the vote.

“Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues,” the statement said. “People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal.”

Can someone show me where in the Constitution or Bill Of Rights it says that “people of faith” are somehow exempt from facing protests?  That their “democratic right to express their views in the public square” trumps everyone else’s?

The Mormons want to use the First Amendment as a one-way shield to protect their own right to free speech at the expense of everyone else’s, while still reserving the right to cross the boundary between church and state whenever they see fit.

But what really galls me the most is their narcissistic belief that protesting against churches that worked to ban gay marriage is a horrible unacceptable affront to the Constitution, but imposing their religious views on the gay community is not.  They consider the right to fight gay marriage to be more valuable and fundamental than the right to engage in it.

November 15th, 2008 at 02:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Democrats,Elections,Media,Politics,Religion,Republicans,Teh Gay,Wankers


Does it make me a bad person that I find this kinda hilarious?

It would be easy to dismiss today’s rant (however spot-on it might be) by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as yet another ideological tirade against the U.S. automobile industry. But based on the bad news coming out of shopping-mall owner General Growth Properties [GGP], it is no wonder Friedman is feeling crankier than usual. That’s because the author’s wife, Ann (née Bucksbaum), is an heir to the General Growth fortune. In the past year, the couple—who live in an 11,400-square-foot mansion in Bethesda, Maryland—have watched helplessly as General Growth stock has fallen 99 percent, from a high of $51 to a recent 35 cents a share. The assorted Bucksbaum family trusts, once worth a combined $3.6 billion, are now worth less than $25 million.

How will Tom ever get by on only $25 million?  Will his $50,000 speaking engagements and million-dollar book deals be enough to sustain him?  Should we take up a collection?

If he hadn’t been an advocate of invading Iraq for no good reason, I might be a little more sympathetic… but he was, so screw him.

(h/t Stoller)

2 comments November 15th, 2008 at 01:44pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Iraq,Media,Wankers

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