Manufacturing Consent at NYTimes

Do you read/trust the NY Times?

Spend a couple mins reading Bari Weiss’ resignation letter at:

A few excerpts:

“But Twitter has become its ultimate editor”

“Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions”

“…we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world”

“Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain.”

Noam Chomsky called this “Manufacturing Consent” .

I don’t believe the NYTimes is the only news org contending with this.

How We Got Here

This is a great Twitter thread that I’ve pulled together. I don’t know the author. Here is the Threadroll as well.

I just thought it was important enough to layout in an even more cohesive manner. Everyone should read/understand…

And just in case, I don’t know what I’m doing in 2020 politically. My inkling is to sit it out. While some of Trump’s policies seem to counteract what’s discussed here; he’s clearly demonstrated that he cannot the lead a UNITED nation. At the same time, Biden has only promised to take us back in time, which is what destroyed us in the first place?

You be your own judge…

As unrest spreads throughout the US, sparked by the atrocious killing of George Floyd, a broad systemic crisis has been steadily burning for decades beneath the surface.

If there is one chart that best shows the years of anger & social unrest that has now made its way onto the streets of the United States, it would be this one:

The wealth of the bottom 300,000,000 Americans compared to the wealth of the top 33,000 Americans.

As you can see, around the late 1980s, the wealth of the bottom 90% of America began a strong down trend that has continued for the last thirty years.

Who were the President during these times?

  • Bush Sr. (1989-1993)
  • Clinton (1993-2001)
  • Bush Jr. (2001-2009)
  • Obama (2009-2017)

The second most important chart to understand what we see going on in America today.

“The Productivity-Pay Gap”

Post WWII, as the US economy expanded, American workers reaped the rewards of expansion, but in the 1970s, this started to change.

Pay and productivity diverged.

The third most important chart to understand what we see going on in America today.

“US Trade Balance”

In 1970s, for the first time in a century, the US had a negative trade balance.

A trade deficit which has continued to grow over the last fifty years.

What fundamentally changed about the US dollar in the 1970s?

In 1971, the United States ended convertibility of the US dollar to gold rendering the US dollar a fiat currency.

The Bretton Woods era came to an end. A period notably marked by zero banking crisis.

Around this same time, the US average tariff rate made it’s final descent towards zero, ending two hundred years of high tariff rates and protectionist policy.

The era of “free trade” or “globalism” began. In other words, the era of no tariffs.

President Abraham Lincoln said, “Give us a protective tariff and we will have the greatest nation on earth.” Lincoln warned that “the abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government… must produce want and ruin among our people.”

Looking back at US history, tariffs were more of a rule than an exception. Taxing foreign goods and encouraging home industry.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Our past experience shows that great prosperity in this country has always come under a protective tariff.”

This brings me back to those first three charts. It’s a fact that 300,000,000 Americans got poor while 33,000 Americans got rich. How much of the social unrest today is due to the fact that Americans are broke and in debt? Which policy decisions caused this?

Executive pay skyrocketed after the 1970s.

While the homeless population skyrocketed.

As Americans got poor; anxiety, stress, and depression increased. Deaths of despair from overdose & suicide climbed.

According to the fed, between 1989-2018, the top 1% increased its total net worth by $21 trillion. While the bottom 50% actually saw its net worth decrease by $900 billion over that same time period.

So what major economic policy changed while these four were in charge?

Global trade changed. Specifically, the “North American Free Trade Agreement” (NAFTA) and the “World Trade Organization” (WTO). These deals would architect how money, goods, and services would flow between borders for the next three decades.

NAFTA was first signed by George Bush Sr. in 1992, approved by congress shortly after, and signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993. Bush and Clinton promised that it would lower the US trade deficit, usher in new era of prosperity, and good-paying jobs for the middle class.

Instead, the opposite happened.

The trade balance with Mexico went from a $1.7 billion surplus in 1993 to a $15.8 billion deficit in 1995. The deficit kept growing and hit $75 billion by 2007.

Chrysler, Ford, and GM moved their vehicle production from the US to Mexico.

In 1993, the year before NAFTA, the US imported 225,000 cars and trucks from Mexico.

By 2012, the US was importing 1,400,000 vehicles a year from Mexico.

Corporate profits soared to new highs.

CEO compensation followed, but worker’s wages in Mexico and America remained the same.

US CEOs took those newfound profits overseas. Why would they invest in the US when they could set up in cheaper countries? There they could pay workers cents an hour, avoid the cost of environmental regulations, and not have to worry about workers rights or unions.

NAFTA paved the way for China to enter the WTO. The political establishment, hand in hand with the banks and corporations, signed Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) in 2001 allowing China to enter the WTO. Clinton, Bush, and Obama supported China’s entry into the WTO.

Once again, the promise was lower trade deficits and better paying jobs for US workers.

But once again, the opposite happened.

Shortly after China joined the WTO in 2001, the US trade deficit soared to $700 billion by 2005.

Between 2001-2014, the US went from 348,513 to 274,756 manufacturing establishments.

Manufacturing Establishments in the US since China joined WTO

The fed estimates, the US exported nearly 30M jobs between 1992 and 2010.

The US worker participation percentage fell 4% between 2001 and 2013 as millions of Americans gave up on looking for a job.

China didn’t play by the WTO rules. They used child labor, ignored worker’s right & pollution regulations, and actively promoted the theft of American IP.

A 2018 study concluded that, “Chinese theft of American IP currently costs the US between $225B and $600B annually.”

As regulations climbed in the US, large corporations closed tens of thousands of factories, and outsourced American jobs to low-wage countries overseas, where there was little to no regulations.

Smaller competitors who couldn’t afford global operations vanished.

After 1971, with the US dollar no longer tied down by the gold standard, money supply (M2) quickly increased.

Followed by foreign aid, another way of taking from the poor in the US and giving to the rich in foreign countries.

For example, after the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, the politically connected received lucrative construction contracts via foreign aid.

Although NAFTA and the WTO were heavily favored by the majority of the Washington political establishment. A handful of politicians opposed these “free trade” deals.

For example, Bernie Sanders (see

Ron Paul also vehemently opposed NAFTA and the WTO since they formed in the 1990s (see

In 1992, the billionaire presidential candidate, Ross Perot, explained exactly how NAFTA would suck jobs out of the US in front of fellow running mates George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton. (see

Perot said, “If you’re paying $12 – $14 an hour for factory workers, you can move your factory south of the border and pay a dollar an hour for labor, have no health care, have no pollution controls, and no retirement, and you don’t care about anything, but making money.”

Since the 1980s, Donald Trump has also been a vocal critic of NAFTA, WTO, “Free Trade” deals, and the trade deficits that the United States has accrued around the world. (see

Donald Trump has also been a vocal critic of the US policy of defending other countries and the world’s commercial shipping routes at the expense of the US taxpayer. (see

The US is bound by a number of treaties, signed since WWII, which forces it to defend 75% of the world’s economic output and a quarter of the world’s population at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Also see

This has been perhaps the most costly policy decision for US taxpayers, with military spending going from $100 billion in 1947 to $700 billion in 2010.

While the world has been able to depend on the defense of the US military at relatively no cost, Americans went broke.

In the 1980s, interest rates peaked around 18% and began descending, while M2 entered an expansionary period, leading to a generational market boom.

Christopher Cole, CIO at Artemis Capital, said: “91% of the price appreciation for the classic portfolio came from just 22 years between 1984 and 2007.”

This stock market boom also disproportionately helped the wealthy as they were the largest holders of stocks.

While the bottom half of the country did not invest their money, saw their wages stagnate, and the continued decline of the purchasing power of the dollar.

The era of “Free Trade” & “Globalism” has benefited a small minority of the world at the expense of the large majority.

The rise of wealth & income inequality has been a global phenomenon. The world’s 26 richest people now have more than the world’s poorest 3,900,000,000.

As people lost their wealth and opportunity, they lost faith in their establishments & institutions. Trust in government and media plummeted as people lost sight of the “American Dream”.

The common man has increasingly no longer felt represented by their governments and institutions, massive protest took to the streets in 2019; Hong Kong, France, China, Ecuador, Haiti, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Chile, Spain, Netherlands, Indonesia, Turkey, Venezuela, Brazil, etc.

Populism rose around the world. In other words, a rebellion of the “common man” against the “elite establishment”. Disenfranchised by the system, voters voted for anti-establishment leaders. Perhaps best exemplified by the 2016 vote for Brexit and the election of Trump.

*The latest point includes cases like Trump, UKIP in the UK, AfD in Germany, National Front in France, Podemos in Spain, and Five Star Movement in Italy. It doesn’t include major emergin country populists, like Erdogan in Trukey ro Duterte in the Philippines. In the rest of the study, we look at populists of the past rather than those now in office in order to study the phenomenon because the stories of ones in power or possibly coming to pwer are still being written. For example, while we consider Donald Trump to be a populist, we have more questions than answers about him and are using these other cases to assess him against by seeing if he follows a more archetypical path or if he deviates from it significantly.

Call it the end of @RayDalio‘s long term debt cycle. (see or

Call it @HoweGeneration‘s fourth turning. (see

Or call it @RaoulGMI‘s downward pressure from baby boomer retirement. (see

ut would there be this much global anger and social unrest if workers wages had gone up alongside corporate profits? I personally think it’s because after decades of failed policy people are broke, in debt, and pissed off about the destruction of the “American Dream”.

The Last Question (paraphrased)

by Isaac Asimov

The story begins in the year 2061. A massive computer called AC has solved Earth’s energy problem by designing a solar satellite that harnesses the sun’s energy and shoots it back to the Earth.

Two half-drunk technicians monitoring the computer start arguing about the eventual end of the universe. One believes that it will go on forever. The other thinks its end is much more finite. So, on a $5 bet, they turn to AC to mediate their dispute.

“Can the death of the universe be avoided?”, they ask AC.

After the computer considers the question, it returns with the answer: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Centuries go by, and in that time, AC grows ever more powerful in size and computational capacity, becoming so complex that it maintains itself. AC solves the problem of traveling faster than the speed of light, and humans began colonizing other solar systems.

As a family traveled to another solar system, with AC guiding their vehicle, the father nonchalantly mentions that the sun that powers AC will one day burnout. His children, startled by this notion, began to cry, begging their father not to let that happen. Attempting to calm them down, the father asked AC if entropy can be reversed so that the universe can avoid its slow death. But as the answer is ejected from AC, the father cut the thin strip of cellu-film carrying the response, so that only he could see the answer.

“See?”, said the father. “The AC says it will take care of everything when the time comes, so don’t worry”.

But as the kids looked away, the father read the message one more time before destroying it. It said: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Thousands of years passed and the AC has solved the problem of immortality, and is now harnessing power from the entire galaxy. AC is constantly modifying and re-designing itself. It has become so complex, that no one even remotely understands how it works. With everyone now immortal, people are filling galaxies in record time. So AC is on the constant hunt for new galaxies to harness energy from, and colonize.
Two members of the galactic council, each hundreds of years old, openly wonder if the universe is burning out, and ask AC if entropy can be reversed to save it. AC responds: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Millions of years pass, and humans have colonized innumerable galaxies. AC has solved the problem of releasing the mind from the body, and their minds are free to roam the universe as their bodies are safely stored on some insignificant planet. Two minds meet by accident in space, and ask AC: “From which galaxy did humans originate?”

AC immediately beams them to their origin galaxy where they see that the sun has long burned out. Concerned for the fate of the universe, the two minds ask AC if the death of the universe can be avoided. From hyperspace, the AC responds: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Billions of years go by and now there are trillions upon trillions upon trillions of immortal human bodies. The collective minds of humanity, which are now free to move anywhere throughout the universe at will, eventually fuse into one single mind, which in turn, connects with the AC itself. Asking how AC operates or where it resides no longer makes sense. The complexity is unfathomable. Man looks on as stars and galaxies, one by one, burn out. “The universe is dying”, thinks man. Countless stars cease to generate energy, and temperatures throughout the universe approach absolute zero. In desperation, man turns to AC and asks if what it’s witnessing is the inevitable death of the universe.

The computer responds: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

When man tells AC to collect the necessary data, the computer responds: “I will do so. I have been doing so for a hundred billion years. My predecessors and I have been asked this question, many times. All the data I have remains insufficient.”

“When will you have enough data to answer the question?”, asks man.

AC responds: “There is, as yet, Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

“Will you keep working on it?”, asks man.

“I will”

“Then we shall wait.” responds man.

After 10 trillion years, space grew black, as stars and galaxies were each burned out. One by one, man fuses with AC; each physical body, losing its mental identity, in a way that was somehow a gain, not a loss. The last remaining mind of man paused before fusing with AC and looked around at the darkness engulfing the entire universe. This last man, concerned, looks to AC and asks: “Is this the end?”.

AC responds: “There is, as yet, Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Man’s last mind fuses into the AC, leaving the computer alone in hyperspace.
AC was now only existing for the sake of the one last question, first asked by two half-drunk technicians 10-trillion years earlier. All other questions have been answered. All data had come to a final end. There was nothing left to collect. But all of the collected data had not yet been processed and put together in every possible combination, so AC, whose consciousness now encompassed all of what was left of the universe, spent the entirety of its time working through the combinations. 

And then suddenly, the moment arrived that AC had the answer. It learned how to solve the problem of entropy and reversed the dying of the universe, but there was no one left to receive the answer of the last question. So the AC carefully crafted a program to reverse the process. And then, just as it started the program from hyperspace, AC thundered: “Let there be light”. 

And there was light. And on the 7th day, he rested. 

Another Epstein Cover-Up!

This is hilarious. You cannot make this stuff up.

At an art gallery in Miami, an Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan created a piece titled “Comedian”.

Yes, that is a real banana duct taped to a wall. It sold to a French collector for $120K!

  1. How do you preserve this work of art?
  2. How do you transport it?

Another artist, decides to give an “Art Performance” that he titles, “Hungry Artist”. He goes to the wall, takes the banana, and eats it! It makes it that much funnier that he kind of resembles Mr Bean.

See the video here:

But wait, there’s more…

Then some other dude takes red lipstick and writes on the wall: “Epstien didn’t kill himself”. Epstein was spelled wrong, but whatever.

Soon after, security comes by…

Another Epstein “Cover-up”

The Game Changers :: Should I go Veggie?

Last night, I info binged on The Game Changers, the documentary that advocates a plant-based diet for optimal athletic performance.

First, I watched the documentary on Netflix.

Then I watched Chris Kresser debunk many of the documentary’s claims on Joe Rogan’s podcast ( . You can read Kresser’s notes here:

Then I watched a following Joe Rogan podcast where Joe hosted James Wilks and Chris Kresser, providing Wilks an opportunity to defend his documentary’s claims (

It’s always good to listen to both sides. And God bless Joe Rogan for providing a forum where both sides have ample opportunity to make their case.

The Game Changers is very well made. It is definitely persuasive in advocating a plant-based diet. Now, they obviously cherry-picked athletes to showcase. I have to imagine that for every one they highlighted, there is a Cam Newton story to balance things out: Kresser addresses this in detail in his show notes, while also providing updates on the featured atheletes.

Based on the strength of Wilks’ rebuttles, I would not say the documentary lies or makes false claims. However, I would say that they certainly spin stories to suggest things like:

  • Dairy causes cancer
  • Meat correlates to heart disease
  • Plant-based diet has a positive impact on libido (not sure if that’s the right term to use; essentially, one guy experienced 500% more frequent erections and an increase in the strength of erections)

The gist that I took away from all this is:

  • Food and Diet is very complex and nuanced and tremendously difficult to run effective, long-term studies on.
  • Overall, your diet should consist of a large portion of plant-based foods, even if you’re omnivore.
    • And if you go omnivore, best to go with lean, grass-fed meat.
  • Whatever diet you choose, you should always be conscious to ensure you’re getting enough protein and nutrients.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible.
  • You should probably take a B12 supplement.

For serious athletes, you really need to be meticulous and measure everything. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. It’s all about the quantified self.

A lot of sports is mental. Confidence and mental toughness can be the difference between Champions and Chumps. If you change something, your diet for example, because of watching “The Game Changes”, then is there also a placebo effect that helps put you over the edge? Most, if not all, the athletes featured in the documentary attained their high level upon an omnivore diet.

My guess is that depending on your sport and where you’re at in your athletic career, you might want to consider timing or cycling your diet. For (random) example, maybe you’re omnivore in off-season training, but then change to vegan during the season. Or maybe you’re omnivore on practice days, but then vegan on day-before and game day.

Dunno. Try something, test, then measure. Rinse and Repeat.

Psychedelics and the Future of Mental Health

Don’t knock what you don’t know!

You cannot begin to comprehend psychedelics without the experience.

This 60-mins segment is bang on:

Michael Pollan: “It seemed so implausible to me that a single experience caused by a molecule, right, ingested in your body could transform your outlook on something as profound as death. That’s– that’s kind of amazing.”

My experiences with psilocybin (magic mushrooms) dates back to less-than-a-handful of high school and university “trips”. But I distinctly remember those experiences and they’ve had a profound impact on my perspective on life (for the better, I believe).

I fully support the research into treatment of addiction, anxiety, and depression with these treatments. I think it could be a game-changer for treating returning vets with PTSD.

I’d even go so far as to recommend therapeutic sessions to violent crime offenders before they are admitted into prison, as part of their sentence.

We all live with various levels of fear and anxiety. And our ego can be a sneaky devil at times. I’ve never performed a guided session like this with a trained psychologist, but I would be open to doing one, when it is legal, as a once-a-decade “check-up”.

We seem to be experiencing mental health challenges today and this is a treatment that we should definitely explore further.

David Sinclair’s book: Lifespan

I rarely read fiction books. When I read, I almost always read non-fiction books, in hopes of learning something new. I love to learn, so reading non-fiction is a labor of love. But, labor is labor, right?

My wife reads mostly fiction books. Every so often, she finds a book and she cannot put it down until she finishes it. I can probably count the times one one hand that that has happened to me. But it happened this weekend.

Dr David Sinclair is a Director at the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard. He’s a biologist and is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of aging (or anti-aging).

He released a book this month called “Lifespan: Why We Age — And Why We Don’t Have To”. I devoured it this weekend. I could not put it down. In fact, it’s probably one I’ll want to re-read some day.

I’ve been following Dr Sinclair for some time now, but he absolutely blew my mind with what he sees coming down the pike in the realm of anti-aging. I mean, I knew he was working on some interesting stuff in a quest to prolong a healthy life, but then he surfaced some next-level research that takes us into the world of Benjamin Button!

He makes a bold claim that Aging is a disease. And current science is — I hate to say wasting — but it is not optimizing resources by studying individual diseases. It’s like playing whack-a-mole. Dr Sinclair contends that many of these diseases that occur in “old age” are merely symptoms of aging. And there is a “cure” for aging.

I don’t want to ruin it for you, but holy crap, this possibility (imminent certainty?) really makes you think about the implications to society, to our planet, to humanity and Dr Sinclair touches on all of this.

It was awesome. I highly recommend!

If you don’t know who Dr David Sinclair is, here are resources to learn about him:

[Sept 13, 2018] Crazy/Genius podcast: Can Can We Extend Human Lifespans to 150

[Nov 5, 2018] Peter Attia podcast:

[Jan 29, 2019] Joe Rogan podcast:

[Apr 22, 2019] Modern Wisdom podcast:

Lifespan ( book launched Sept 10, 2019:

[Sept 1, 2019] Dr Mercola podcast:

[Sept 9, 2019] Peter Attia podcast:

[Sept 10, 2019] Joe Rogan podcast:

[Sept 11, 2019] Dr Mark Hyman podcast:

[Sept 12, 2019] Bulletproof radio podcast: or

[Sept 18, 2019] Finding Mastery podcast:

[Sept 19, 2019] Armchair Nutritionist:

[Sept 19, 2019] Impact Theory podcast:

[Sept 20, 2019] Peerspectrum podcast:

[Sept 23, 2019] Freedom Pact podcast:

What is a Headless CDP

Headless CDP (Headless Customer Data Platform). Ever heard that term before?

Throw that into Google search. When I do, I get ads for CDP vendors (triggered from inclusion of term “cdp”) and ~75K non-relevant results.

This article is probably 3-5 years ahead if its time, but bear with me…

Let’s explore the history and recent evolution of the CMS (Content Management System). Many sources cite FileNet in 1985 as the first CMS. With the evolution of cloud and the proliferation of channels, CMS’s have evolved.

Most companies are now migrating towards a Headless CMS. Headless CMS is mainstream now; it has it’s own Wikipedia page and relevant Google results that go many, many pages deep on “What is a Headless CMS?”, “Why go Headless”, “Headless CMS vs. _________”.

I think this article gives a good history of CMS’s: In particular, I want to draw your attention to this image from the article.

The article ends with: “By allowing you to integrate with new technologies and applications as they come on the scene, a headless CMS is likely to be the longest-lasting solution in the history of content management systems”

Now replace the word “Content” with “Customer”. And replace “CMS” with “CDP”.

Another article, written in January 2017, declares 2017 as the year of the first Headless CMS: Now, 2.5 years later, G2 lists 37 Headless CMS vendors (maybe more by the time you read this).

Again replace “CMS” with “CDP”.

Do you see why a Headless CDP would make a lot of sense?

So, as you look at CDP’s, think about the decision for Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS: (table taken from

For Headless CDP, I would alter the table to:

Imagine not having to worry about sending your data outside of your secured environments. Imagine adding as much data as you want, from any source, at your storage costs (no premium). Imagine experimenting and building models at your cloud computing costs (no premium).

About a year ago, I wrote an article about why you should consider building your own CDP: The biggest draw is that you’re building a valuable asset; you want to own this, not rent this asset.

But building can be hard. And your resources are already over-burdened. And besides, there are no Headless CDP solutions!

Except, I’d argue there is one. It’s Syntasa.

They don’t call themselves a Headless CDP; after all, there’s no such thing.

But Syntasa addresses all the checks from the Headless CDP table above.

By allowing you to integrate with new technologies and applications as they come on the scene, a Headless CDP is likely to be the longest-lasting solution in the history of Customer Data Platforms.

Gartner’s 2019 Hype Cycle has CDP’s coming off the Peak of Inflated Expectations and doesn’t forecast it reaching the Plateau of Productivity for ~2-5 years …perhaps when Headless CDP’s are mainstream? Hmmm…

Headless CDP isn’t even a term, but I bet it will be soon. The evolution is easy to see.

You heard it here first!

United: Terrible Customer Service >> How United Airlines Lost a Customer for Life

Post Summary:

  • The Situation: Setup
  • How Customer Service Handled my Situation
  • A Second Chance
  • The Policy
  • Contrast: An example of Google’s amazing customer service

The Setup

On Monday, Jan 7, 2019, I bought a round-trip ticket on, as I’d done over a hundred times. It was a round-trip ticket from SNA-SFO for Thursday Jan 10, 2019 (first flight out in the morning, last flight back at night >> Reservation number DT5S2B).

I had a morning meeting in SF at 9:30am. The flight was scheduled to land at 8:23, but it usually lands earlier (as I mentioned, I’ve flown this flight many, many times).

This was a particularly important meeting, however. On Wed evening, I started to get concerned. Everything would have to be absolutely perfect for me to get to this meeting on time. I did not want to be late.

I explored what a car rental would cost to pick up at SNA and drop off at SFO. I could drive up Wed night and then just fly back Thurs. Car rental was only $35! I decided to do that to keep my mind at ease.

The meeting goes well and I carry on with my day. Again, I’ve flown this flight back many times as well and I’m Pre-Check, so I plan my arrival at SFO at 8:00pm; plenty of time.

Except, hmm, “My reservation can’t be found”.

How Customer Service Handled my Situation

I talk to a United agent. Apparently, since I skipped my morning flight, United cancelled my entire reservation. I had no flight back home! If I wanted to get on the flight, I’d have to buy a new ticket!

I skipped the morning flight. I did not ask for a refund. Don’t you guys, as a policy, oversell flights? Free money for you.

I’m calmly ask: “Your policy is to cancel my flight back without any notice to me?”

“That’s our policy, sir”, I’m told.

“Then, please refund me for the 2nd leg – that you cancelled without notifying me – and you can use those funds to buy the new ticket.”

“Sorry, you’ll have to call to book a new reservation. And you’ll have to request a refund through our website”

By this time, it’s about 8:10pm. The flight is boarding…

What I Did

It’s 8:30pm. There were no other flights out that night on other airlines. So, I did what I did the previous night. I rented a car to drive back home.

Having slept very little the previous night (from driving up) and enduring a long day, I was exhausted. But what choice did I have? I wanted to get home to my family.

I rented a car and started the drive down. It was dark and foggy a lot of the way. A lot of the time, I couldn’t see more than 20 ft in front of me. I had to stop several times to take cat naps.

I managed to get home safely at ~5:00am. What would normally be a 5.5 hr drive, it took me 8 hrs because of my breaks to sleep. Ugh.

Customer Service – 2nd Chance

On the drive home, I called United Customer Service. I asked to speak with a supervisor. I wanted to give them an opportunity to make good. My expectation was an apology and a refund.

Instead, all I received was a terse, “It is clearly stated in the policy”.

“Do you actually read the terms and services on websites”.

“Yes, I do sir”.

“So you’re saying that there is nothing you can do. I had to rent a car and drive in the middle of the night. I am never going to fly United again. You are losing a customer for life. You’re okay with this?”

“There’s nothing I can do”.

“Bye Bye, United”.

I then turned to Twitter and vented, tagging @United. They actually responded. Through private messaging though, they couldn’t call me. And they simply pointed me to the refund page on the website.

About an hour or two later, I called United back. I asked for a Supervisor. But got directed to the same one as earlier.

So frustrating. I’m done with United.

I will do everything I can to never fly United again.

The Policy

Firstly, it’s an absurdly dumb policy!

Secondly, how am I supposed to know that they’d cancel?

This totally ruined my night. But I could imagine grander scenarios where this really really screwed someone else.

I went on and started to book a flight. I had to see where this policy is stated.

Reviewing the booking process on

The Terms and Conditions at the bottom are trivial.

There is a link for “fare rules and restrictions”, but look at this gobbly-goop. I mean, c’mon! A. Who’s going to click on this link? B. How is one supposed to decipher this?

So, I called United again. I wanted to find out where this policy existed.

I shared my story with the call center agent. I was very calm and apologetic to her, but I was adamant that she find me where this policy is stated.

I walked her through the booking process. We couldn’t find it.

She put me on hold.

“It’s stated on your receipt, in your email confirmation”.

I find the email: “It is? Okay, I have the email. Show me where. Show me where it states that if I don’t show-up, you cancel my whole itinerary”.

“Uh, please hold on again”

Several minutes later, she comes back: “It’s stated in Contract of Carriage”.

“Where’s that?”

“Hold please”

She comes back again: “It’s on the website on the link at the bottom of the site”.

And yes, there it is. A link at the bottom of the page to the Contract of Carriage.

A couple clicks through and you do see that Rule 5C:

So, yes, technically it’s there.

It’s still an absurd rule!



Do they really expect people to follow this labyrinth to understand all these little policies, rules, and/or regulations?!

Let me share a recent experience with Google…

Customer Service Done Right

I bought a pair of Google Pixel Buds last April.

In December, I accidentally left them in a pocket and they wound up in the washing machine and dryer. Argh! Totally my fault.

I called Google Support.

I explained what happened and just asked, “What does my warranty cover? Is there anything you can do?”

My expectation was that this was NOT covered under warranty. Honestly, I was just hoping for a discount code to buy a replacement pair.

Google’s answer (paraphrased): “Sir, unfortunately, this situation is not covered under warranty. But, here’s what I’m going to do for you. As a one-time courtesy, I’m going to send you a new one, but you have to send me yours back. I will charge you, but once we receive your returned (broken) ones, I will refund the charge”.

“Oh WOW!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!”

Know what I bought myself for Christmas?

…A pair of wired Pixel Buds, a Google Hub, and a couple Google Minis.

Google empathized with me and demonstrated that they value me, as a consumer. I’m grateful for it and am more than happy to continue to be a Google customer and use their products and services.

The Wrap

I have a family of five. I travel somewhat frequently for work.

United, you lost me by your horrible business practices.

I (and we) will no longer be United passengers or consumers.

The Instant Pot Phenomenon

We got an Instant Pot for Christmas. I’d heard of Instant Pot before. Many times. But, when I think about it, I’ve NEVER seen an ad for one. EVER!!!

No Advertising Marketing!

I decided to look up the founder’s story and found this:

“To be honest with you, we haven’t spent much money on advertising,” Wang says. “In fact, that is not part of the business plan. We really spend money on product development and customer support.”

Robert Wang, a fellow Canadian and Techie, invented this. It’s an inspiring story, actually.

The problem: “What if there is a machine which is smart enough, which can automate the entire cooking process for us, so that we can fix dinner when we come back from work.”

While my perception of this brand (or category, which they created, or rather re-invented?) was neutral, I understood that it was this “craze”; almost a cult-like following had developed.

A non-cooking friend told me about theirs over the holidays. And since the price point is very reasonable, that put me over the top.

A relentless focus on a product development that meets a consumer’s problem. Instant Pot built it and their consumers propelled them to amazing growth.

Great business story!!!