Tuesday News Chum: Abusing Google, Cost of Pets/Babies, Small Theatres, and Dames

It’s Tuesday. The start of a new week, and time for a new collection of news chum:

  • From the “Abuse of the Rules” Department: The New York Times had an article about a fascinating fellow that has decided to use Google’s search ranking to his advantage. He purposely pisses off, bullies, and harrasses some of his customers so that they go to well known websites and complain about him, increasing his site’s overall Google rankings when people search on the names of the merchandise he sells. The take-away from this should be to not just buy from a company highly ranked by Google for the product; search on the name of the company as well and look at the reviews.
  • From the “Patter of Little Feet” Department: We all want to be loved. Some of us get it from our pets. Some get it from out children. But it costs us. Two articles help to point out how much. The first looks at the high cost of pet ownership, exploring some of the cost you don’t think about when you see that cute puppy or kitten. The second article looks at the cost of having a baby: in particular, how individual (and some group) insurance policies seemingly go out of their way to exclude maternity coverage. Often, pregnancy is viewed as a pre-existing condition, subject to an expensive rider, and if you get that rider, often there is a waiting period before the pregnancy would be covered. This will be corrected when some more of the provisions of “Obamacare” come into effect, but it’s something that really should have been there in the first place.
  • From the “Smaller is Better” Department: The Chicago Tribune has a nice piece on small theatres: how the under-99 seat theatres provide an intimacy that is unmatched in larger houses. I tend to agree with the article. With the larger theatres you get the flash and the spectacle, but it’s a show at a distance. The smaller houses let you see the actors up-close, and feel as if you are part of the action. This is why we love REP East and the Colony, and we’re willing to drive for great little shows at places like Malibu Stage, NoHo Arts Center, West Coast Ensemble, the Blank Theatre, and all the other little theatres we frequent.
  • From the “There is Nothing Like a ‘Dame” Department: Two brief items related to women: First, Playboy is releasing every issue of their magazine, from 1953 to 2010, on a single USB 250GB hard drive. Presumably, this isn’t just the articles, but I do wonder if it contains the vintage advertisements and cartoons. This would be fascinating to explore for just the capturing of societal changes alone. Related to this is an article from October that I just found: a Lithuanian company has indicated it plans to open a blondes-only resort in the Maldives. This doesn’t apply to the guests, but the staff would be entirely blonde, as would crew of all flights to/from the island (including the pilots). I’ll let you come up with the jokes…