Culture, Economics, Satires

HelloFresh Death Watch!

Reader Contest: HelloFresh Death Watch – enter below.

HelloFresh, a company that cobbles together “fresh” ingredients and delivers them to your door in precisely measured quantities along with a recipe, so you can throw them in the skillet and voila, instant home-cooked dinner!

This is probably the craziest business plan of all history. Yet they are getting millions in investments.

What’s wrong with the model?

(1) Their model relies on a huge customer base. So ask: if you take the trouble to cook your own deluxe dinner, are you going to trust someone else to pick out the ingredients? If so, how often? Do you see all of your friends and family turning over their grocery shopping to low-paid strangers? Seems like a niche market at best.

(2) Their model depends on frequent use. A low-cost, high-volume business like this depends on people using it a lot. For instance, Uber’s business plan assumes we will all abandon driving and let Uber drive us everywhere – people will in any case use the service repeatedly and frequently. But do you see millions of people (A) abandoning shopping, yet (B) wanting to cook their own deluxe pre-packaged dinners night after night?

(3) They can’t deliver high quality food. I’ve been part of collective houses that on several occasions have ordered weekly CSA produce boxes. Each time we wound up cancelling, feeling that we weren’t getting value for our money. Really – how many people want to spend money on fresh food, but have someone else pick it out for you? Again – a niche market.

A Wretched Investment Climate

HelloFresh and its kindred want us to imagine a bunch of fresh-faced, happy young people working in sunny fields to harvest and package the perfect ingredients for your dinner.

Versus my vision – a big warehouse with no windows, filled with low-paid, no-benefit workers who shovel food out of giant vats, spit in it, wrap it in plastic, and ship it off to you.

Or will it be robot workers? At least they’re less likely to spit in our food.

What’s sad is that the global investment climate is so pathetic that desperate investors will pour tens of millions of dollars into a sinkhole like this.

Hello Fresh Death Watch!

I propose a betting pool called the Hello Fresh Death Watch. Guess the date HF will declare bankruptcy – when the company goes belly up, the reader with the closest date wins a duffel bag full of factory-fresh produce of our choice delivered directly to your email!

Send us your favorite date for Hello Fresh to officially declare bankruptcy and stiff its investors! I claim dibs on October 31, 2021.

Email your date to: DirectActionNovel@gmail.com

Thanks to Bill Dewey for the news tip!

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Culture, Satires

Bring Your Cow on BART!

As BART plans expansion eastward toward Vacaville and Stockton, the design department is working overtime to accommodate the needs of BART’s newest riders with special bovine-friendly cars.

Bring Your Cow to Work cars have begun appearing on BART trains. Several designs are currently being cattle-tested, and your feedback to BART Central will help decide which design to order.

Feedback button at <https://www.bart.gov/testcar> – let BART know how excited you are to have seats removed from cars to make room for cows!

Option A provides a Cattle Aisle adjacent to the left seats, allowing riders to sit with their cows.

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Option B offers a special cattle section mid-car, where cows can mingle with their own species en route.

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Option C places the cattle zone near a door so cattle can exit first (which they will try to do anyway).

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Please let BART know your choice, and any other thoughts you might have about removing seats from BART cars.

Feedback button at <https://www.bart.gov/testcar>

Culture, Satires

BART Transit Math Quiz

How good is your transit math? A low score could make you late for a meeting, job interview, or first date! Find out now.

1. If trains run every 20 minutes, and there is a systemwide delay of 20 minutes, how much extra time should you allow for your journey?

(A) 0 minutes

(B) 20 minutes

(C) 40 minutes

(D) an hour due to single tracking

2. If the average BART car has 46 seats and 100 people are trying to get on at Powell Street heading toward the East Bay, what are the odds of your getting a seat? Continue reading “BART Transit Math Quiz”

Culture, Satires

Survey: What Are You Doing on BART?

What exactly do people do when they are riding BART?

To save you the trouble of counting for yourself, ace reporter Luke Hauser recently conducted a secret scientific survey of over 1000 BART riders to see exactly what they were doing on BART.

Here’s a synopsis, with the numerical tallies below.

In a sign of the times, half or more were doing something with their phones. In addition to 7.5% (83 people) listening to audio and 16 people trying to carry on a conversation, 489 (44%) were fiddling around with a touch-screen device. We could see a variety of uses: facebook, newsgroups, web pages, text (perhaps a book?), maps – and of course endless digital games.

Surprisingly few kids – 13 out of over 1000 riders.

Reassuring to see that only two out of over 1000 people were acting in a manner that disturbed other riders. Twice that many were working old-school crosswords.

25 people were working diligently on laptops. On the other hand, 36 were napping or meditating.

Nine percent (101) were reading paper. Virtually all of these were reading books, and most of those seemed to be novels. A few people read magazines. The few who read old-style newspapers seemed like the sort of folks who might cling to older ways in other parts of their lives as well. (Note – up to the mid-2000s, BART was littered with newspapers, and reading them was probably the highest rated activity among riders.)

About 12% (132) were talking to someone besides themselves – slightly fewer than the number (159) who seemed simply to be spacing out.

A few stray notes: one person drawing in a sketchbook; three people knitting or doing needlepoint; one biting fingernails; one being a cop; and one taking a survey of what other riders were doing.

TOTAL = 1095

– fiddle with phone/palm device- 489 = 44%

– space out – 159 = 14%

– talk to someone besides themselves – 132 = 12%

– listen to music/audio – 83 = 7.5%

– read – 101 = 9% – almost entirely books – few kindles

– nap/meditate – 36 = 3%

– work/write/laptop – 25 =

– try to talk on phone – 16

– be a kid – 13 – one kid out of first 300+ people

– eat – 6

– video – 5 – ie, watch video on phone or laptop

– chew cud – 5 – or possibly gum

– put on makeup/haircombing – 5

– do crossword on paper – 4

– knit/needlepoint – 3

– act in disturbing manner – 2

– act oddly but bother no one else – 1

– take survey of other riders – 1

– roll cigarette – 1

– smoke weed inside car – 1

– draw – 1

– be a cop – 1

– panhandle on train – 1

The margin of error is +/- 4.3%, depending on how distracted we were.

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Satires

Guns – Strict Constructionist

I’m not a gun nut or anything, but I support the Second Amendment in its strictest, most conservative scope.

As a strict constructionist. I believe in honoring the precise intention of the founding fathers, and not slathering on accretions, addendums, and contingencies. Just the precise intent of the original law.

This means that I absolutely support the right to bear any and all arms that were in production in 1791, when the amendment was adopted.

This includes muzzle-loading muskets, flintlock dueling pistols, blunderbusses, and even cannon of the sort you load through the barrel.

What about later developments such as breach-loading rifles, anti-aircraft weapons, or automatic and repeating weapons of any sort?

Sorry – you’ll need a new amendment to cover those.

activism, Satires

Luke Hauser Denied Free Speech Rights!

Berkeley activist and author Luke Hauser has cancelled his planned Free Speech Event at UC-Berkeley after university officials failed to meet his demands.
 
Hauser‘s press agent denounced the “outrageous and unconstitutional denial of free speech” in Berkeley, long an alleged mecca for democracy.
 
Demands included:
  • scheduling of event on two hours’ notice
  • event to be held during peak class hours
  • use of a large, centrally-located auditorium
  • professional quality free-speech sound system
  • police protection from airport to campus and back
  • $20,000 speakers fee
  • campus Republicans to shine shoes, carry bags, etc
  • distilled water in glass carafes
  • catering by Chez Panisse
  • two tickets to Hamilton
 
Hauser‘s attorneys decried the failure of UC officials to comply with the free speech demands, and threatened to bring a lawsuit demanding that all conditions be met upon 48 hours of any future free speech requests.
 
Luke Hauser is author of Direct Action: An Historical Novel, which is set in Berkeley in the early 1980s. Free download at <DirectAction.org>