EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Trade | Baghdad By The Bay

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The New Way To Pay Just Got Interesting

SquareThe tech edge that San Francisco holds currently has people jumping with joy or frustration. There are new things developing that could be wonderful or that could screw who the status quo of how we live. I had an interesting experience last week that I’m going to share with you.

Now you’ve heard me talk about San Francisco based Square as being a good ecommerce company. They don’t charge you anything up front. They send you a credit card reader for free and their software for the iPhone and Android is also free. The company even sends you business cards to pass out to get people to understand how Square works and they charge you only 2.75% per transaction with no transaction fee.

To put this in perspective a bit, Wife and I used to own a home based business. We had clients all over the country so credit cards were necessary for use to take. We were charged $800 for the software, then $35/month plus 35¢ per transaction fee, plus 3.5% on every transaction. We didn’t have a lot of business and our corporate clients worked off of invoices so if we only had one sale of $100 in a month it would cost us $38.85 just to get that $100 [or I would only get $61.15 out of every $100 sold]. With Square it would cost us only $2.75. If I didn’t have the credit card handy Square would charge me 3.5% of the total or $3.50 out of $100. Still a deal.

Looking through the app last week I noticed a large increase in the number of small businesses who were using Square and after downloading the new update it’s even easier to run on my iPhone since I can put in the individual items and they now show up on my iPhone, not just on the iPad.

I aslo received a phone call last week from someone at PayPal who was trying to sell me on PayPal‘s new PayPal Here service. I was kind of surprised as the phone number they called me on was linked to an old account I had made a mistake on. I had used it for donations for a website I used to run and as a joke I listed a donation as something that it turns out PayPal doesn’t want you to sell. It doesn’t matter whether or not there are large companies selling the same product I wasn’t, but I apparently broke their rules so I was banned for life from ever using PayPal again.

The guy on the phone told me it works, just like Square, but is cheaper. Well it’s only 2.7% vs. 2.75% and I’m not big enough that I’m going to complain over losing 50¢ on $100. PayPal is so much like Square that they made their card reader look like a triangle to keep with the geometric primitives angle. I told the guy that it was nice of him to offer this to me, but I had been banned for life from ever using PayPal again so I would have to pass.

Now when you are told that you are banned for life from using PayPal ever again you would think that this would mean that you just couldn’t use it to accept money. Well, you’re wrong. I had tried using PayPal in the past to purchase things from small companies on the internet and discovered that my bank account that was tied into PayPal‘s system was also banned from buying stuff from PayPal online. I happened to meet up with a friend I was telling this story to and he had the PayPal Here service so I told him I’d give him a buck if he let me try something. He pulled out his phone and plugged in the reader and I entered $1 and swiped my card. Guess what? My card was declined even though I had well more than $1 in my account. Why? Because I have been banned for life from ever using PayPal for anything [which they don’t tell you]. I would have to open a new bank account to get it hooked up with PayPal so that I could use the system. I don’t want to be bothered with that and I was told that if PayPal identified me as the same person that I would be banned again. It doesn’t matter if they really hire people to search for previously banned users of PayPal who want to be able to use it to pay for items. It’s fare too draconian an attitude for me to want to deal with.

Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter who started Square is a genius in my opinion. While they do have a few areas they don’t like to venture into sales wise they are pretty much an ecommerce company first that wants to make taking money from people for goods and services more affordable. If you’re a tech geek you can pull out your smart phone and run their Square Wallet app place your order while in line and just pick up your stuff at the counter or if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like this new technology because in my day they didn’t have smart phones and you had to tie two soup cans together with twine to call someone, you can use a regular old credit card. This is something that gives small businesses the edge. In looking around the USA I see that most metropolitan areas have quite a few places that accept Square. Not as many places as in the San Francisco Bay Area, but still a good amount. I can see this taking off in the near future even bigger and Square has a very big edge over PayPal in that it doesn’t shut out potential users from the system. PayPal has messed up big and if you do a quick search in google you’ll find lots of people complaining about being banned for life from PayPal. Square is the future and the way to go for small businesses.

FinGate 2.0: Leland Yee

First off, I’d like to start by saying I haven’t seen FinGate anywhere before, so if any other news group uses the term I request that they use my name and a link back to this sight.

Now, onto the story. Last week Leland Yee proclaimed that the elimination of shark fin soup as an attack on ancient Chinese culture. The next day he held a conference serving shark fin soup to the media to show how wonderful and delicious it is.

Then apparently, Leland remembered how environmentally friendly the people of San Francisco Bay Area are. He sent out a rather waffly sounding email that says that while he condemns the finning of sharks, he opposes the ban on shark fins.

Well, I’ve done a little research and here’s a few things I’ve found:

  1. The industry that is involved with shark fishing that uses the entire shark does not supply enough fins to feed the shark fin soup lovers. Shark meat is rarely sold outside the Asian marketplace.
  2. While checking the DNA of shark fins available in San Francisco and Los Angeles more than half of the fins belonged to endangered sharks.
  3. While many other countries fish for sharks or use the finning method that California is trying to outlaw, the majority of all shark meat and all of the fins are sold to China and other Chinese markets
  4. According to research done by SharkWater, 100 million sharks  are finned yearly to supply the Chinese demand for shark fin soup and it’s use in Chinese cures.
  5. The finning of sharks is an unsustainable form of fishing with shark populations dropping severely around the world leaving the seas in an unbalanced state. According to a 2009 study shark populations have dropped 50%-75% due to shark finning. Some species have dropped by 90% in population over the past 20 years.
  6. 87 Countries exported their shark fin catch to Hong Kong and the USA in 2008. Not one kept a shark fin for their own consumption.
  7. Shark meat contains the highest level of mercury found in fish, well above the recommendations of the FDA.
  8. The health claims by Chinese that shark products can increase male vigor and prevent cancer have been proven to be the exact opposite. The high levels of mercury found in shark meat can cause impotence, sterility and cancer.
  9. Costco does not sell shark meat contrary to Leland Yee’s statement. Shark meat is loaded with uric acid and is quite smelly and unappealing and must be soaked for at least a day to leach the urine smell from its flesh.

Is eight reasons enough or need I say more? Apparently while my site is focused on San Francisco and has the most readers here I received a letter from a Shelly Cole in North Carolina:

Hi Eric,

My name is Shelly Cole and I live in Greensboro, NC….Tonight while perusing the net I ran across your blog from 2/16, “Waiter!  There’s a Shark Fin in My Soup!” .  Great blog!  Very well written.  I decided to check out Mr. Yee a bit to see who his is.  I despise hypocrisy!  My number one pet peeve is to be lied to!  I just can’t stand it.  If you lie to me…we’re done….or you at least better be hoping that we have a relationship that goes back for MANY MANY years.  You certainly won’t be trusted again any time soon, but you might not get booted out the door.  ‘Course…if you lied to me….you just might not care if you get booted out or not…

Anyway, after going to Mr. Yee’s sight, I couldn’t believe my eyes!  The hypocrisy!  AAAAGGHHH!!  So I decided to send him a note.  I thought you might be interested in reading it.  Not that I claim to write as well as you, but I hope he actually sees it and that I conveyed the point home to him in such a way that he not only gets it, but that he NEVER FORGETS IT!!  I copied your blog into the email so he’d know what he was getting creamed for, in the event that he hadn’t read your blog.  I intentionally left out the part of who wrote the blog, the name of the blog, or the blogs url.  If he hadn’t read it and then didn’t like it, I was sure how you would feel about unwanted/unsolicited attention that it might garner you from him or from his camp.  I hope you don’t mind my small attempt at “protecting” you.  I doubt I’ll hear back from him, but if I do and he wants to know who the blogger was and you want me to tell him, I’ll be happy to do so.  If you don’t want me to tell him….he’ll never hear it from me…..  😉

I was really very angry with him after having read both  his statement and your blog.  So….I let him know about it….

Sincerely,
Shelly Cole
Greensboro, NC

Thank you Shelly, I think Leland knows about me by now. 🙂 Apparently this is bothering more people than those in the SF Bay Area and they’re speaking up about it [keep in mind my site is read by people in over 100 countries around the world.] I also learned that in the heavily Asian populated state of Hawaii that they have banned the preparation, selling and serving of shark fin soup. Apparently Hawaii doesn’t have as much problem with an ancient Chinese cultural tradition as other people do.

I’ve noticed that no one has really been talking about the taste until my friend Danielle sent me a comment:

I’ve had shark fin soup. It’s pretty gross. And the thought of where it comes from and how it’s obtained makes it even less appealing. From what I recall… the broth was fishy, but not overwhelmingly so. The fin parts have no taste on their own, and we had the shredded kind (they come in shredded and whole form), so the texture kinda reminded me of very short, very very thin (like rice vermicelli, maybe), yet overcooked, noodles.

Just so you all know, Danielle is not Chinese, but Filipino, a culture that has a very strong connection to eating fish [I won’t hold durian against her though. Hell, I wouldn’t hold a durian against anyone, but fruit doesn’t feel pain when you cut into it at least.]

The UK based group Shark Trust had an interesting article with lots of information on the shark fin trade as well a letter from Chef Gordon Ramsay who, like him or not was appalled to find out about shark finning. This site also provides lots of information to use if you want to be so bold and approach a Chinese restaurant that serves shark fin soup.

None of this is an attack on the Chinese population, it is an attack on a practice not a people, that is reprehensible and is destroying our ocean’s food chain. China has had many cultural traditions that they have tossed aside as being barbaric. If I remember correctly, the British stopped beheading and draw and quartering criminals a few centuries ago, yet that was a cultural tradition. The Romans [Italians] as a cultural tradition fed slaves to lions to amuse the poor, but that as well is gone. So why not add shark fin soup to the list. The only reason that Chinese feel they are targeted is because they are the only one’s that eat it and total of the finning trade supplies China and Chinese markets around the world [if the country allows them to serve it of course.]

Leland Yee, please follow the links here and read the information. Perhaps you could find some way to progress and show your wealth and abundance, not by eating the fins of barbarically captured fish that is toxic to consume and instead show your wealth by giving back to the people. I believe that is a finer tradition to embrace.