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CNBC Blogs Funny Business with Jane Wells

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  Wednesday, 8 Jan 2014 | 10:46 AM ET

Admit it, cool high-tech guy: You still own a VCR

Posted By: Jane Wells
You can't see it in this photo, but this baby's still flashing "12:00" every two seconds.
Getty Images
You can't see it in this photo, but this baby's still flashing "12:00" every two seconds.

This week the Consumer Electronics Show is all the rage. Tech-this, and smart-that—all the cool kids have converged on Las Vegas to find out what products will make our lives better in 2014.

Meantime, most of us haven't gotten rid of the old VCR.

According to a Gallup survey, 58 percent of Americans still have their VCRs. That's a larger percentage than those owning a desktop computer, an iPod or MP3 player, a videogame console, a tablet computer, satellite TV, or an e-reader. In fact, only a few more of us—62 percent—own a smartphone.

All just a bunch of old fogies? Uh, no. According to Gallup, 41 percent of people ages 18 to 29 still own a VCR.

Here's the most amazing part of that survey—people admit they have one.


»Read more
  Wednesday, 8 Jan 2014 | 3:10 PM ET

John McAfee's 2014 resolutions: No bath salts

Posted By: Jane Wells | CNBC Reporter

Finally.

Intel announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it will be rebranding its McAfee Security software products as "Intel Security." Even though the McAfee brand is almost 30 years old, the name is now most often associated with the escapades of the company's founder, John McAfee.

However, while the name is gone, Intel is keeping the red shield.

»Read more
  Friday, 20 Dec 2013 | 4:16 PM ET

It turns out a lot of us are shopping naked

Posted By: Jane Wells

If you're putting off going to the mall, put off by the holiday crowds, I'm afraid it's not going to get any better.

Better to stay home and shop online naked.

This is a thing now, apparently.

»Read more
  Monday, 30 Dec 2013 | 3:54 PM ET

Ready, set, toke! Colo. pot shops prepped for biz

Posted By: Jane Wells

The great experiment in legalized marijuana kicks off in earnest Wednesday, as Colorado edges out Washington as the first state to open licensed retail outlets selling pot to anyone over 21.

The "adult use" cannabis will be sold with a 25 percent tax—three times as much as Colorado's medical marijuana tax. Will recreational users pay more for legal pot? That is the $240-an-ounce question.

Weedmaps, the Yelp of medical pot, is getting a jump on events. It's rating and reviewing medical dispensaries in Colorado that also will sell recreational pot.

(Read more: High Times aiming for $100M marijuana fund)

»Read more
  Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 | 8:57 AM ET

Helping troops overseas, one golf ball at a time

Posted By: Jane Wells

While it seems like war has ended after a dozen years, the truth is, we still have thousands of troops overseas in harm's way.

Some haven't forgotten. Here are two men trying to make the holiday less stressful—and a lot more fun—for troops who cannot be home with family.

First, there's Bunkers in Baghdad. Joe Hanna, a sports entertainment attorney from Buffalo, N.Y., started the charity after learning that troops in Iraq were creating makeshift driving ranges and golf courses to relieve stress. He thought, "Why not send them balls and clubs?"

»Read more
  Tuesday, 10 Dec 2013 | 10:25 AM ET

The next big sex drug? Clinical trials start soon

Posted By: Jane Wells

An over-the-counter, FDA-approved treatment for "PE"—that's premature ejaculation, for those who aren't up to date on their pharmaceutical acronyms—is beginning clinical trials this month at Kaiser in Southern California.

At the same time, the company behind it has released a very funny commercial starring "Peter," a man who always seems to finish everything early.

»Read more
  Monday, 9 Dec 2013 | 5:13 PM ET

No cuddling, please. We're Wisconsinites

Posted By: Jane Wells
The Snuggle House website
Source: The Snuggle House
The Snuggle House website

It may be cold in the Upper Midwest, but folks in Madison, Wis., don't feel like cuddling. The Snuggle House has closed its doors, according to its Facebook page.

The business, owned by former health supplements salesman Matthew Hurtado, was only three weeks old. The entire enterprise had a hard time getting off the ground. Its planned opening in October was delayed a month as city officials tried to get their arms around the idea. Some locals were reportedly concerned the business could be a front for prostitution.

During the delay, The Snuggle House put up a website offering "therapeutic cuddling" for $60 an hour.

(Read more: Worst layover ever: Man gets locked inside plane)

It profiled its staff, including one man, Lonnie, a long-maned former camp counselor. Here's his video. "He had 300 to 400 applications before they opened," said Hurtado's attorney, Timothy Casper.

Finally, an occupancy permit was granted, and local Councilman Mike Verveer said he received no complaints. The sudden closing surprised him. "My guess would probably be that they just didn't have the business that they anticipated," he said.

(Read more: Chart of the Day: The soaring income gap)

»Read more
  Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 | 8:00 AM ET

The surprise star of 2013: The 'Prancercise' lady

Posted By: Jane Wells
Prancercise Founder Joanna Rohrback
Larry Marano | Getty Images
Prancercise Founder Joanna Rohrback

It's been quite a year for Joanna Rohrback. One year ago this Christmas, she posted an exercise video that showed her working off calories by mimicking the movements of a horse.

She called it "Prancercise."

For months, the video sat unnoticed on the Web. In May, however, somebody, somewhere—I don't really know how it all started—discovered the video, and the rest galloped into history.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 4 Dec 2013 | 10:58 AM ET

BitTorrent: Not just for Internet pirates anymore

Posted By: Jane Wells
Moby
Luis Ortiz | LatinContinent | Getty Images
Moby

BitTorrent has long been one of the most popular ways to move large files like movies over the Internet quickly, with more than 170 million users. The problem is more than a few of those users have been using the free and open platform to share pirated content.

"The reason they use it to move around illegally traded movies is because it's the best way to move larges files, not because BitTorrent's got any relationship with piracy," said Matt Mason, the company's head of marketing. He added the company has never been sued.

"BitTorrent is like the MP3—it's a new disruptive technology. If you remember 10 years ago, lots of people thought the MP3 was something for piracy," Mason said. "Now today, we know that it's a really fantastic technology that lots of industries, including the music business, have gotten a lot of benefit from."

As you can tell from the above statement, BitTorrent has embarked on an image makeover. "Facebook uses BitTorrent to update Facebook. Twitter uses BitTorrent to make internal code updates to Twitter, same thing with Wikipedia, Etsy," said Mason. Clients also include the Large Hadron Collider and the Human Genome Project.

The company began a PR offensive this fall with a series of mysterious billboards in major cities. The campaign tapped into concerns about privacy. "Your data should belong to the NSA," read one billboard. Later the billboard changed to, "Your data should belong to you." While a few critics have mocked the campaign as hypocritical, Mason said more than 90 percent of the social media mentions were positive. "It showed us that in this post-NSA world that we live in, people are worried about servers," Mason said.

And what company relies on servers to transfer content? Netflix, for one. Netflix may be the real target of BitTorrent's new campaign, as the two companies have been trading jabs over which one rules the Web.

(Read more: Latest Obamacare 'fix': Turn it over to porn guys)

»Read more
  Tuesday, 3 Dec 2013 | 5:45 PM ET

Archie Comics CEO at war with white men?

Posted By: Jane Wells
Nancy Silberkleit
Getty Images
Nancy Silberkleit

Veronica has lost her marbles, and Jughead isn't going to take it anymore.

That would make a great plot line for an Archie Comics, except some claim it's happening in real life at Archie headquarters in New York.

Far from Riverdale, the co-CEO of the iconic comic book company is being sued by employees for allegedly violating their human rights, according to the complaint. They claim discrimination based on gender, and in a twist, most of the victims are white men.

They allege that Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit has engaged in "destructive, dangerous, and at times deranged behavior" and bullying them even as she promoted anti-bullying campaigns outside of work, according to the complaint.

In one example, they allege that Silberkleit walked into a business meeting, pointed to four men, "and referenced them as 'penis, penis, penis, penis' and then walked out."

Whoa.

The employees are suing for $25 million, plus $7.5 million "to fund a true anti-bullying campaign against bullies such as the Defendant who falsely claims to support anti-bullying activities."

WHOA.

Silberkleit, whose late father-in-law helped create Archie Comics, is responding.

Her attorneys rebuff discrimination claims because "white males are not a member of a protected class" under the section of law being used. They claim the employees show no proof anyone lost his job because he's a white male. Instead, the suit "appears to be intended only to soil Silberkleit's name and image."

It certainly does that. The 29-page complaint is a better read than the classic "Archie Prom Pranks" from 1942. In the complaint, plaintiffs Mike, Victor, Debbie, Jim, Jonathan and David (hey, we're talking comic books so I'm sticking with first names) say problems with Nancy go back years.

It wasn't until she came on board as co-CEO after her husband's death in 2008, however, that they began to feel intimidated. They allege that Silberkleit wants to set herself up to be " 'Dictator' over Archie Comics, or in default of that, bring about the demise of this iconic publication in American culture."

Their claims, which go back decades, according to the complaint, include:

—Silberkleit stalked her future husband all the way to headquarters yelling, "Let me in you son of a b*tch, I'm pregnant and you better take responsibility."

—She sought to bring Hell's Angels to headquarters "in an effort to intimidate" employees, and eventually brought in an ex-NFL player.

—She became enraged after hearing the staff gave a cancer-stricken girl a Betty wig.

—She stalked employees "as we well as their families."

It goes on and on.

(Read more: Jerks on a plane: Elan vs. 'Diane' decoded)

»Read more

About Funny Business with Jane Wells

  • If it was up to Jane Wells, she’d spend her entire day combing Mother Earth for stories and observations just for this blog. She has more fun writing Funny Business than anything else she does... professionally, that is. Funny business is whatever Jane considers hilarious, strange, fishy, or ridiculous, which pretty much covers everything on Wall Street. It is her hope this blog makes you smile, even when the news is grim. After all, it's only money.

 

  • Jane Wells

    Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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