Because legal entities are capable of worse crimes than their corporeal counterparts.

Friday, June 15, 2007

What The Fuck: AT&T/iPhone Edition

Don't believe the hype.

This post is about AT&T (formerly known as Cingular, formerly known as AT&T, formerly known as Southwestern Bell Corporation (Bell or SBC), formerly known as American Telephone and Telegraph [which sounds a lot like AT&T, doesnt it?] ). I decided on this corporation because of the hype behind Apple's soon-to-be-released iPhone.

I'd post a bunch of pictures and videos of the iPhone here, but chances are you're inundated with such things, and can find them on other websites. I know that of all the times I've passed the TV downstairs in the last week or so, I've seen iPhone commercials on about 20% of the time -- which is a lot, given that I'm just passing it.

If you don't already know, when you pick up that shiny new iPhone for $499 or $599, depending on what size hard drive you get, you're required to get at two year service contract with AT&T, one of the largest telecommunication corporations in the country. AT&T is a corporation so fully associated with telecomm throughout their history that their NYSE trade symbol is simply 'T.'

I won't bore you with all of the boring details of the history of this giant, their innovations in telecomm, the monopolies, the splits, the mergers, and all that stuff. The company is through and through a classic definition of a corporation. Given that it has such a strong history in telecomm, it was one of the first monopolies, and it was a "natural" monopoly. Don't take my word for it; the entirety of the internet is at your fingertips. Do a little research.

About a year ago, AT&T changed their privacy policy to say that they own your confidential information, not you. A year ago, when this happened, if you wanted to get out of your service contract, you could, because of this fundamental change to the user/company agreement. So you know, whenever a company changes something like this, you're free to drop the service, no matter how much time you have left on it. It's a nice way to quit.

Back to the matter at hand -- do you really want to spend two years with a company who values your privacy so little that they consider your confidential information theirs? I know the iPhone is shiny and pretty, but...fuck.

Do a little research, decide whether or not it's worth the $600, two years, and loss of civil liberty, and remember that for now, a phone is still, really, just a phone. When we have total convergence of communication and entertainment mediums in a few years, get back to me. For now, just put your boner away, technogeek. And think.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

"What The Fuck" Fridays: Baxter - A Company I've Never Heard Of

How do you get to be a corporation in the Fortune 500 without having your name widely known?

Shit, I don't know, ask Baxter (Google Finance Link). Maybe the problem is that I don't watch TV and generally stay away from financial news unless I'm writing these posts?


Their stock jumped 20 points over the last year, and it's basically been a steady upward climb.

Oh wait, hold on, the stock was around the same point it is today, back in 2002, and then it plummeted. I really have no idea what's going on with this corporation. It seems like a strong buy right now though, and in the past, except for that 2002 hiccup, it's been super-fucking-strong. Well, we can safely say that right now Baxter must be doing something right. Right? Right, I guess.

But what does Baxter do?

Well, it looks like they are primarily involved in the development and manufacture of unique medical products. For an example of one of their important innovations, in the 1950s, they were the first company to make commercially-available fake kidneys.

They develop a bunch of cures, treatments, patches, and bug fixes (lol) that appear to be more involved in saving lives, than, for instance, a cure for erectile dysfunction. Currently, they're working on a Bird Flu Vaccine.

The company did 10.4 billion in sales in 2006. Unfortunately for you, I have no problem with this, and no problem with Baxter. Seems like a solid place to me.

Oh, and about that issue in 2002, when the stock price basically rebooted itself? That was because sales were going to be below the company's forecast, and I guess the stockholders got shook! David Lothson, who in 2002 was an analyst for UBS (I have no real idea who they are but they are obviously a financial services company) said this of the selloff: "We believe investors have overreacted to weakness in the company's second-quarter Bioscience revenues." Yes, yes they have. (link)

Lastly, their stock is worth more than AstraZeneca's, which I think is great. I mean granted, they operate in different areas of medicine. But even so, Baxter is proof that you don't have to stay in the news and in the commercials to have a solid medicine-related company. Or maybe they do have commercials. I don't know. I don't really watch TV. Anyway, you don't really have to create a bunch of different cures that do marginally meaningful things/the same thing over and over again but just marketed differently to have a good medical company.

The only two Baxters I knew of before making this post were Baxter Stockman, and my second grade teacher, Ms. Baxter.