Spending $25 to Get Free Shipping on Amazon.com

I just bought a couple business books on Amazon.com (ah, the joys of the business expense–in case you’re wondering it was Seth Godin’s The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) and Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More) and then splurged and bought myself these 2-inch metal spring clamps for 86 cents.

Why? Well, it seemed slightly more useful than the 7/32-inch GearRatchet Socket for 79 cents. Slightly.

Huh? Amazon.com offers free shipping if you spend $25 or more. My total (before the quality tools) was $24.24–76 cents shy of free shipping. So by spending an extra 86 cents I saved about $7. I’ve done this before (and with Barnes & Noble), but it was much more efficient this time thanks to the Amazon Filler Item Finder.

I do feel some what odd buying crap I don’t need, but you can’t ignore those economics: buy more, spend less. And who knows how often you’ll need a metal spring clamp? (I’d wager seven cents it’s more often than a 7/32 socket, which I probably already have)

Human Trafficking in My Town

Yesterday there was a big story in the Star Tribune about a prostitution bust. The bust included eight brothels across Minnesota that were bringing in women from Mexico and Central America and forcing them into prostitution. And the scary part? One of the brothels was in my tiny suburb of less than 20,000 people. Human trafficking in my own backyard.

Today the Star Trib talked to neighbors who were shocked at the news, despite the odd things they saw:

“Every 10 minutes there’d be a car going in or out,” said Mangan. “It would start in the morning and go until all hours of the night. But it was very quiet. And the yard was always clean. It looked just like a regular house.”

So if you’re an international criminal wanting to exploit and enslave women all you need to do to keep the neighbors off your back is mow the lawn. If you see something suspicious you can report suspected human trafficking to the Polaris Project: 1-866-US-TIPLINE

(Unfortunately, this one was another chance to do some overlapping coverage with the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07. Twice.)

James Dobson: If I Can’t Win, I’m Going Home

James Dobson writes about the moral failings of Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani and comes to the conclusion that not voting is better than picking a candidate who doesn’t completely agree with him (also covered by CNN):

My conclusion from this closer look at the current GOP front-runner comes down to this: Speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of any organization or party, I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008. It is an irrevocable decision. If given a Hobson’s–Dobson’s?–choice between him and Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran–or if worse comes to worst–not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else.

So if I can’t have it my way, I’m taking my toys and going home. Wow. Reminds me of a certain comment about opposing worldviews. I can understand not liking a candidate. I can understand not liking both candidates (been there before). But that doesn’t mean you drop out of the process. You’ve got to compromise somewhere. That’s how people get along. That’s now democracy works. (link via Justin McRoberts)

How To Be a Web Rock Star

A couple great web rock star articles:

  • Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog from the New York Times, focusing on how musicians are using the web to connect with fans. The story of Jonathan Coulton is great. A lot of this story focuses on the sheer volume of fan e-mail. As a person who has answered e-mail for an organization receiving over 100 e-mails per day, I can appreciate how maddening that is. While it’s great to interact with people and know that you’re making a difference, some people are just stupid.
  • How To Be a Star in a YouTube World from the Wall Street Journal, all about what it takes to be successful in online video. Not nearly as engaging, but some interesting reading.
  • Seven tips on how to run a successful community from the guy who founded MetaFilter. OK, it’s not exactly in line with the rock star theme, but if you’re going to be a rock star online community is important. It’s also important for the rest of us, so it’s some helpful advice. I’ve heard it said before that online community, or any community for that matter, is a lot like herding cats. So good luck with that.

(all links via kottke.org)

Typical Three-Car Family in the Twin Cities

This morning the Star Tribune is reporting on a transportation bill passed by the legislature. What seems wrong with this description?

Minnesota legislators set the course Monday for a historic showdown with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, approving a transportation bill that features a gas-tax increase and other revenue hikes that would cost a typical three-car family in the Twin Cities between $250 and $500 a year.

“A typical three-car family”? Since when is a three-car family typical?

Apparently since at least 2005, according to this random data I found. The average number of vehicles per household in the Twin Cities was 2.6, compared to a national average of 2.0. Ouch. No wonder the average Twin Cities household spends more on transportation than housing.

Minnesota Goes Smoke-Free on October 1, 2007

The Minnesota Legislature passed a bill that will ban indoor smoking, including all bars and restaurants, effective October 1, 2007. It’s about time. I think this is a simple public health issue. I just don’t get these kind of complaints:

“I don’t smoke, but I’m a small-business owner and this is a huge violation of personal choice. It is a simple violation of people’s rights,” said Sue Minehart, owner of the Main Street Grill in Alden, Minn.

Personal rights end when they infringe on the rights of others. My right to healthy lungs trumps your right to destroy your lungs. And frankly, I don’t see why we shouldn’t ban smoking entirely. We ban other harmful substances regardless of personal choice, why not cigarettes? It’s not like they offer a shred of benefit or even illusory medicinal value. They just kill people.

Christians vs. Atheists Debate Hurts My Soul

Last week I talked on Church Marketing Sucks about an upcoming debate between Christians and atheists on Nightline. The debate was between a rather vocal group of atheists (they issued the ‘blasphemy challenge’, encouraging people to commit the ‘unforgiveable sin’) and Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron and evangelist Ray Comfort of Way of the Master (you know, the banana guy). I labored a bit over the entry, wondering if I should really be so hard on two fellow Christians (a sentiment echoed in the comments on the post).

We Christians are always beating on each other and I didn’t want to contribute to that. Sometimes there’s a need for criticism, but you have to be careful with it. Well, I went ahead with the post and after seeing part of the debate I stand by my criticism.

It aired on Nightline last night and you can watch portions of it online. If it’s any consolation, I think both sides come off looking like jerks.

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