Carnival of Wealth, Office Memo Edition

America needs more passive-aggression.

America needs more passive-aggression.

A friend of CYC works for a national conglomerate that you’ve definitely heard of and have likely patronized. He forwarded us this “all users” memo:

Yesterday, we had an incident in our communal microwave where popcorn was burnt to an undesirable crisp state and exposed us to unhealthy fumes as well as a terrible odor. We must be careful when we use the microwave. Please follow the microwave instructions shown on your food packaging label.
If you use the microwave please clean it right after using it. Experts say microwave ovens — especially in the office — are a breeding ground for bacteria and require regular cleaning and airing.
To keep the microwave oven clean and smelling fine, please wipe it down after you use it. Damp paper towel with soap and water will do just fine and keep the microwave oven door open in between uses to help cut back on lingering odors.
Don’t forget to cover your food to prevent splatters. Use plastic wrap, resting it on top of the container — not touching the food or sealing the container — to create steam that heats food quickly and kills bacteria. Just be sure to create a vent, or your food will explode.
Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

And you wonder why we rail against the corporate lifestyle. Who would want to work under such conditions, where some human resources harpy is writing patronizing notes like that? Verbosity, condescension, every hallmark of the modern workplace is there. Why couldn’t the note have read:

If you make the microwave dirty, clean it.

And if she absolutely had to stretch it out to 2 sentences:

Apologies to the people who clean up after themselves: this email isn’t for you.

Wait, there’s more. The very next day, our friend forwarded us this:

With regards to the refrigerator, all employees are to put their names on their lunches, snacks, etc….and any food (or leftovers) that is unmarked and rotten will be tossed on Fridays at 5pm. Please do not take any food from the refrigerator that is not yours. Employees bring specific food for themselves and should be able to look forward to having it without worries.
On a another note, Patrick went out and bought a new microwave for the kitchen. Thank you Patrick!
I kindly ask that if you use the microwave please clean it and follow the tips mentioned in my previous email.
Thank you for your cooperation!

We offered our friend $50 to defecate in the new microwave.

A message to office parents (you know who you are.) You think everyone else is a child, and you write these prolix emails because you don’t want anyone to miss a single word of your disappointment, nor fail to grasp how you’re just so much more responsible and mature than everyone else. Go to hell. For the rest of you, onto the Carnival:

PKamp3 at DQYDJ.net gets top billing today because he bought a copy of our book. He presents another of his renowned calculators: with this one, you enter the variables and figure out how long it’ll take before you’re objectively rich. We’re mature enough that we’re not intimidated by a blogger who’s way smarter and more talented than us. Don’t just read this post, read DQYDJ’s entire archives.

Emily Guy Birken at One Smart Dollar reinforces what we’ve been saying for…well, months that have turned into years. The combination of low home prices and mortgage rates is unprecedented. Buy some real estate. And get a 15-year mortgage. Pro tip: Fast forward past her first 2 pointless paragraphs, which serve no purpose. Head straight for the 3rd one, which is a rich buffet of tired phrasing. She wrote “no matter how you slice it” and “nothing to sneeze at” in consecutive lines. Hey, speaking of words we’ve read before…

After a few weeks’ hiatus, illiterate plagiarizer Eddie at Finance Fox is back for some reason. He took a trip to an auto show and thought that’d be worth sharing. It isn’t.

Plagiarizer? Yeah. Eddie lifts others‘ work, note-for-note. We haven’t checked, but that auto show post probably came from the pages of Car & Driver. We can almost sympathize with this: as a glance at Eddie’s non-ghostwritten posts will confirm, his original work is one level above throwing his feces at a piece of paper until some of the gobbets take the shape of Roman letters. (That’s our last scatological joke today, we promise.) But this is inexcusable. What’s really insulting is that out of the dozen or so people Eddie stole from, he didn’t crib a single word from Control Your Cash. What, we’re not good enough for him? Either that, or he had trouble comprehending our somewhat intellectually demanding posts. Probably the latter.

We’ve never formally banned someone from the CoW before. (And we’ve had some doozies submit, but at least their awful work wasn’t cut-and-paste copies of others’.) So congratulations to Eddie, recipient of the Carnival of Wealth’s first-ever death penalty. But unlike the NCAA, here you can never apply for reinstatement. Goodbye.

(Post rejected because this was how the submitter described it:

While Earning Money Online…Your Vegan Vegetarian Lifestyle Can Help Other People Become Healthier! I know that many of you already know that a vegan vegetarian diet is healthy for you, but did you know that you could also earn money online because of your healthy lifestyle, and help other people become healthier at the same time? Let’s talk about one of the ways you can do this.

Submitters, it’s the Carnival of Wealth. Not the Carnival of Flotsam. But points for trying to fuse diet tips with personal finance.)

You know what really makes carnival hosts feel like this is all worth it? When a submitter continues to submit post after post even after we make relentless fun of him every week. Peter J. Buscemi of FourQuadrant has submitted 4 weeks in a row and is as long-winded as the office manager cited above, plus Peter J. writes in a dialect of Higher Corporatespeak that makes his message impenetrable. Here, see if you can make it through this paragraph without slipping into a coma:

Go-to-Market Strategy is focused on how the organization will put offerings into the market to reach market penetration, revenue and profitability expectations. This charter is a superset of marketing strategy as it impacts all functions within an organization with the goal of preparing the entire company for market success.

Every Monday, we send a mass email to the submitters that includes a link to the new CoW. Maybe one of these weeks, Peter J. will take time out from his customer acquisition strategizing and brand positioning to bother clicking on it. Until then, keep ‘em coming, you magnificent unreadable bastard.

The next 2 submissions in the hopper are a good one and a dismal one. Which do you want first? If we start with the good one, it’ll break the streak. But if we give you the bad one first, it’ll make you appreciate the good one all the more when you finally get to read it.

So it’s settled, then. Josh at Becoming Your Own Bank also submits every week, and every time he does we mention that his family’s business – whole life insurance – is a reprehensible one. We even trashed his dad’s (uncle’s?) book a couple of years ago. We didn’t do it to be cruel, but rather because it belonged in a landfill. Josh’s subject matter this week isn’t too horrible – the danger of fiat money and fractional-reserve banking – but he takes way too long to get to the point and, of course, ties it in to whole life insurance by the end of the post. Also, this post is an interview but it’s formatted so badly that it’s impossible to tell which voice is the writer’s and which is the subject’s. Aside from that, awesome post.

As promised, here’s the good submission. Remember good submissions? We do, faintly. Pauline Paquin at Reach Financial Independence reminds us that the whole point of self-determination is having options. Mlle. Paquin moved to the Guatemalan coast and is leveraging things beautifully, taking advantage of low wages and prices to live in relative comfort with plenty of freedom. She explains what she chooses to spend money on, and what she elects to do herself – a solution to a linear programming problem that maximizes both her money and her time. We need more Paulines.

Back to the garbage. William at Quote Me A Price returns a mere 7 days after we told you to, and we quote, “avoid (his company) like anthrax.” After much introspection, we’ve decided to take his post this week as the compliment that it is. Clearly, he’s implying that the Carnival of Wealth is such a great place to submit to that it’s worth any verbal skewering. Anyhow, William wants to buy your annuity. He writes the same post every week, but at least he’s plagiarizing himself and not others.

Is this our worst CoW yet? Bottom 5, anyway.

A respite. Harry Campbell at Your PF Pro points out that you can add blood – actual human blood – to the list of commodities that your elected representatives control the price of, instead of allowing buyers and sellers to come to mutual agreement. The Food and Drug Administration (How is this under their purview? Is blood a drug, or food?) doesn’t allow compensation of more than $25 a pint. And then has the nerve to say that there’s a shortage. Even better, Harry’s local blood bank charges its customers 12 times that once they drain his veins.

Look who’s back! It’s Neal Frankle at Wealth Pilgrim. Our resident genius Certified Financial Planner explains what proprietary funds are, what’s wrong with them, and why you might be invested in one without even knowing it.

Paula Pant of Afford Anything unveils one of finance’s fundamental truths, so obvious that most of you miss it. Emotion has no place with regard to money. None whatsoever. (We’re paraphrasing.) In that respect, personal finance is almost a hard science – organic chemistry and particle physics don’t care how you’re feeling or whether you’re “mentally in a bad place”, and neither does your money. Except Paula stated that more succinctly than we could.

From Michael at Financial Ramblings, why companies split their stock.

There are pros to payday loans? Not just cons? John Kiernan at Card Hub conducts an interview with an academic who tells a story of a payday lender attempting to sell a loan to a retard (a real one.) Yes, payday loans are stupid. That’s why you need the government to prohibit you from getting one, because you can’t be expected to do it yourself.

Another financial product/service to avoid is penny stocks, and if the reasons aren’t obvious, Kevin Mulligan at Free From Broke gives them to you but good. That Canadian mining stock that’s trading at 14¢ a share isn’t going to rise to $1, and in the unlikely event that it does you’ll be too greedy to cash out anyway.

From Ross Garner at Wallet Hub, did you know there’s a reverse mortgage crisis in addition to the conventional one? The Federal Housing Administration overleveraged taxpayers itself and has decided to suspend its most popular reverse mortgage program. There is nothing that government can’t screw up. But yeah, keep voting for the status quo.

Couldn’t the S&P have used another expression? Dividend bigwigs? Dividend bluebloods? Anything other than “dividend aristocrats”, which never fails to make us giggle? Dividend Growth Investor looks at Standard & Poor’s definitive list, and finds that it’s anything but definitive.

If any submitter could add a useful word to our vocabulary, it’s Jason at Hull Financial Planning. Apophenia is the phenomenon of divining patterns in random data where none exist. (That’s not the Virgin Mary’s face in a church window. This is the Virgin Mary’s face in a church window.) Jason argues that there’s too much information out there, and that you’re better off turning off CNBC or only watching in minute doses. (You can pronounce that ˈmin-it or mī-ˈnüt, it doesn’t matter which.) Besides, you should be watching Fox Business anyway, but mostly because of this.

Finally, from Lynn B. Johnson at Wallet Blog: the Paradox of Medicaid. She had to get her Parkinson’s-stricken mom into a nursing home, and to qualify for Medicaid (as opposed to the 3 but not 4 classes of Medicare that her mom qualified for) Lynn had to liquidate her mom’s assets and prepay some expenses. Our federal government’s functionaries made Lynn pay for her mother’s eventual funeral, just one of several ghoulish flaming hoops she had to leap through. (Lynn, that is. Her mother’s in no condition to jump through even a non-flaming hoop.) As Lynn puts it,

Medicaid…exists so that people who are stricken with disease and poverty can receive healthcare, but the stress and bureaucracy of negotiating the application process leaves you wanting to die.

A message to subpar personal finance bloggers. Create imagery as adeptly as Lynn does, while still giving full-time care to a mentally compromised mother:

The nursing-home financial officer, whom I’ll call Glinda for her magical powers of remaining calm in the face of bureaucracy,

And we’ll stop making fun of you.

Thanks for coming. Check us out on Investopedia. (Special cross-promotional treat, check us out in Nevada Magazine this week.) New post Wednesday. And Friday. ‘Til then.

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