Improving economy cutting into discount chains

Looks like a price war is brewing between the major discount chain stories like Walmart and Target, with Walmart planning to cut prices even more to try and win back customers.

The problem? The economy is improving, so bargain-hunting shoppers aren’t hunting for as many bargains.

The sharp cuts at its U.S. Walmart stores, which came ahead of Memorial Day weekend, have already pushed rivals such as Target into price wars. And the markdowns are expected to keep coming throughout the summer.

They’re one of the boldest moves the world’s largest retailer is making to turn around sluggish business at its U.S. namesake chain and win back shoppers from rivals. The cuts aren’t across the store but target 22 foods and other essentials at an average savings of 30 percent — splashy enough to get attention and perhaps change perceptions.

The world’s largest retailer is also restoring items like certain soups and laundry detergent it stopped carrying when it tried to declutter its stores. It’s also pushing more basic clothing such as socks and underwear after putting too much focus on trendy items that didn’t sell.

Debunking senseless census lies

In case you see it on Facebook or spewed into your inbox, here are the answers:

No, census workers cannot enter your home or apartment without your permission.

Also, the rumor that the Census Department is hiring, firing, then rehiring workers in order to inflate job numbers is also not true. Even IF they were doing that, it would make no difference in the monthly jobs reports.

ABC sets the record straight

‘Lost’ exclusive: ABC sets the record straight about the series finale’s plane crash images

You know those Oceanic 815 plane crash images that ran after Jack’s (Matthew Fox) eye closed and the “Lost” logo appeared on our TV screens? Some “Lost” fans and TV critics have wondered if they were a last Easter egg from the producers, a clue meant to lead us to conclude that no one survived Oceanic 815’s crash landing — and therefore everything we’ve seen over the last six years never really happened.

Well, ABC wants to clear the air: Those photographs were not part of the “Lost” story at all. The network added them to soften the transition from the moving ending of the series to the 11 p.m. news and never considered that it would confuse viewers about the actual ending of the show.

“The images shown during the end credits of the ‘Lost’ finale, which included shots of Oceanic 815 on a deserted beach, were not part of the final story but were a visual aid to allow the viewer to decompress before heading into the news,” an ABC spokesperson wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

See you in another life, brother (more thoughts on Lost)

Following up on my initial thoughts from last night.

The other operative coda, all through the show, and that found resonant echo in the finale, was

“See you in another life, brother.”

The producers opted to go less toward giving us a rote recitation of all the answers we’d been waiting for (though we got some) and more toward giving us comfort and inspiration…

much like we all need in the face of death.

Think of the question, “Why are you here?” and all the permutations of that.

Who’s asking the question?

And which (if any) of the following are correct answers?

“I’m here to fix your TV.”
“I’m here because God has a plan.”
“I’m here because my mom drove me.”
“I don’t know.”

Answering every single mystery with a neat little answer – like some fans are apparently upset with the lack of – would have sucked all the wonder out. I rather like that the story is going to stay with me for a long, long time.

I liked it. And I like it even more this morning.


Oh, gods.

That was WELL worth the six years. And a wonderful ending, and a couple of PERFECT closing shots to end it with, very nearly as it began.

And having just watched the pilot again, I’m convinced the producers knew exactly where they were going to end up.












Instead of addressing and answering every single mystery raised, they chose (wisely, in my opinion) to not go that route, at least not completely. We got all the surface answers we needed. But what the producers left us with were not answers that would take all the mystery and wonder out of the show. Instead, they chose to give us comfort and inspiration.

Just like we all need in the face of death or misfortune.

Some fans are already pissed. I, for one, am happy there are still mysteries of the show for us to argue and theorize over for years to come.

Americans are becoming less religious

Americans have become increasingly less tied to formal religion in recent decades, with the percentage saying they do not have a specific religious identity growing from near zero in the 1950s to 16% this year and last.


1948-2010 Trend: Percentage of Americans 
With No Religious Identity