They put a toga wearing king on U.S. money

hi_winnerI found the state quarter representing Hawaii in some of my change and I was disappointed to see that it features Hawaii’s King Kamehameha I on the reverse.  I never thought I’d see the day when we put a king on our money, especially one wearing some kind of fruity looking toga. At least when Canada or Australia puts someone of royal decent wearing a dress on their money, the person is a woman.

What’s even worse is that it features a words in some kind of foreign language.  I’m not certain, but I think it’s Klingon.

I thought the Hawaiian quarter was going to feature something more ethnically or culturally deserving on their quarter.  I just assumed like most people that it would feature the cast from Magnium P.I. or the Hawaiian Tiki statue from that episode of The Brady Bunch.  Instead of honored something wonderful from Hawaii’s culture, they have to put a king all dressed up to go to a Roman orgy on their quarter.

It’s a sad day for America.

How much does an American auto worker make?

With all the talk of a possible government handout for the American auto industry, I started to wonder how much an American auto worker who is a member of the UAW union makes?  From CNN Money:

The current veteran UAW member at GM today has an average base wage of $28.12 an hour, but the cost of benefits, including pension and future retiree health care costs, nearly triples the cost to GM to $78.21, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

By comparison, new hires will be paid between $14 and $16.23 an hour. And even as they start to accumulate raises tied to seniority, the far less lucrative benefit package will limit GM’s cost for those employees to $25.65 an hour.

So not only do they make a substantial amount of money for doing basically unskilled factory work, they receive a substantial benefits package including a pension. I didn’t even know people still got pensions. I cannot imagine making $28 an hour to work on an assembly line and not have to put one single penny of that money into a 401K for my retirement.

It must be nice.

This is a top job?

Hagerstown’s local newspaper, The Herald-Mail, has a section on their website entitled “Top Jobs“. I think they simply republish on their website the jobs printed in the paper version of the newspaper, but I’m not sure.

While looking over the website this morning, one of the ads caught my attention.  It’s for “exotic” dancers at a strip club.

Only the Herald-Mail would refer to a job where a young woman is required to remove her clothing on stage to entertain perverts as a “top job”.

Are comic books too exspensive?

A lot has been said lately on the seemingly never ending price increase with comic books.  What was once a fairly cheap medium has now become an expensive one.

Or has it?

Columnist Rich Johnson in a recent Lying in the Gutters column posted a chart showing the price of Amazing Spider-Man from 1977 to the present.  In 1977 a single issue of Amazing Spider-Man cost 30 cents.  An issue currently costs $2.99 and the price is rumored to be rising to $3.99 sometime next year.

How would this compare to price increases seen in mass market paperbacks during the same period?

Looking though my own mass market paperbacks, the oldest book I have is The Crystal Shard, a fantasy adventure novel based in the Forgotten Realms series written by R.A. Salvatore.  It was published in 1988 and it was priced at $4.95.  I have paperbacks in the same series that were published much more recently.  Siege of Darkness, also written by R.A. Salvatore was published in 2006 and it was priced at $7.99.

If my math is correct, the price increase for a R.A. Salvatore fantasy adventure paperback from 1988 to 2006 was 61.4%.  The price increase for an Amazing Spider-Man comic from 1988 to 2006 was 233.3%.  Worse, though the price of a paperback has not changed from 2006, the price for a comic book has by nearly 50 cents.  That brings the price increase for comic books to 298.6%.

I compare the two mediums because I used to regularly buy both comics and paperbacks.  I noticed after a while that I was getting a lot more enjoyment from the science fiction, fantasy adventure, and horror paperbacks I was buying then the similar genre comics I was buying.  I could spent $9 for three comics and have them all read in less then 30 minutes.  When I spent the same amount of money (even less) on a paperback, It would take me hours to read it.  I realized I was getting a lot more bang for my buck with paperbacks then I was with comics.

So yes, comic books are just too exspensive.

Beware of Finish Line ‘free trial’ magazine subscriptions

A few months ago, I stopped in at the Finish Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and bought a couple of t-shirts. While I was paying, the person running the register asked if I would be interested in a free trial to Sports Illustrated. I thought about it and decided that I would. I figured that when the free trial ran out, I could just cancel it.

My wife noticed this past weekend that $49.99 had been charged to my Visa Check card by TWX Sports. I had never heard of them before. I did a quick Google search and I learned that it is none other than Time-Warner.

Time-Warner publishes Sports Illustrated. My free trial wasn’t so free after all.

I never received a statement from them, nor did I know how long my “free” trial subscription to Sports Illustrated lasted. The best that I can figure is that they got hold of my Visa Check card information from Finish Line. I never gave any of my financial information to Time-Warner, nor did I give it to Finish Line for the purpose of signing up for a free trial subscription to Sports Illustrated.

I provided my Visa Check card to them to buy some t-shirts.

Not only did Finish Line sign me up for Sports Illustrated, it turns out that they also signed me up for Sports Illustrated for Kids. For that, I was charged $24.99.  At no time did I even want a trial subscription to this magazine.  I don’t have any kids.

I don’t even like kids.

This calls for a chargeback

I called my bank and I’m disputing both charges.  I’m feeling optimistic things will work out in my favor.  No matter what happens, I will not be agreeing to any more “free” subscriptions.

UPDATE: All the charges were reversed by my bank. I recommend that anyone scammed by Finish Line into paying for a “free” magazine subscription report the incident to their bank or their credit card company and start a chargeback. Maybe if enough people do that, the credit card companies will finally do something about this scam.