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CNBC Blogs Funny Business with Jane Wells


  Tuesday, 3 Dec 2013 | 11:08 AM ET

Jerks on a plane: Elan versus 'Diane' decoded

Posted By: Jane Wells
Twitter user 'Elan Gale'
Source: Elan Gale | Twitter
Twitter user 'Elan Gale'

The world is unfolding on Twitter. I'm not talking about political upheaval in Iran or Egypt or Ukraine.

I'm talking about really rude people at 35,000 feet—who don't exist.

People stopped this weekend—stopped eating, stopped shopping, just stopped—to stay abreast of some compelling incidents on Twitter, some of them trivial. Stopping to watch a real-time feed on a smartphone is the sort of thing you might expect in a dystopian science fiction novel by H.G. Wells or George Orwell. This is who we are now—people who read tweets by other people as they record the play-by-play of awkward encounters. We join in the conversation with praise or criticism.

Why do we do it? It's, well, fun. Social media is homegrown, collaborative, mostly commercial free, and highly entertaining. Just don't expect it to always be accurate.

Here are three incidents over the Thanksgiving weekend that illustrate my point.

»Read more
  Thursday, 28 Nov 2013 | 9:16 AM ET

Q&A: 'I'd rather ______ than shop on Thanksgiving'

Posted By: Jane Wells
Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images

So Black Friday has become Thankshopping Thursday.

Bah humbug.

The National Retail Federation predicts 33 million people will shop on Thanksgiving, either in stores or online.

Who are you people?

I asked folks on Twitter, "Fill in the blank: 'I'd rather ______ than shop on Thanksgiving.'"

»Read more
  Monday, 25 Nov 2013 | 12:55 PM ET

Feeling blue? Try hiring a professional cuddler

Posted By: Jane Wells

Need a hug? Call Samantha Hess. She's a professional cuddler.

It's not what you think.

"There are so many people who need this service, but there's just not enough time to get to everybody," she told me.

»Read more
  Friday, 22 Nov 2013 | 1:24 PM ET

Latest Obamacare 'fix': Turn it over to porn guys

Posted By: Jane Wells
Peter Dazeley | Getty Images

The technological failures of Healthcare.gov highlight the lack of technological expertise in the federal government. All the best programmers go to Apple, Google or Facebook.

Or porn.

"My name is Corey Price, Vice President of adult entertainment website Pornhub.com," began a recent open letter to the White House. "On behalf of our company, I'd like to extend an offer to the Obama administration to help fix the U.S. health insurance exchange website." (By the way, I discovered Pornhub is NOT safe for work, unless you work for the Secret Service.)

And you thought the ACA rollout was already obscene.

(Read more: Day before launch, Obamacare site failed to handle 500 users)

But wait a minute. As Price points out, his website gets a lot of traffic. Like, tons. Legions of people are impatient to log on: "Pornhub.com believes its staff of talented engineers can help prepare the Obama administration to accommodate millions of concurrent users to avoid future 'tech surges.'"

Naturally, Pornhub's offer was rebuffed as the PR stunt it undoubtedly is.

"I think that would be pretty inappropriate and something we would not be interested in doing," Julie Bataille of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told reporters, apparently with a straight face.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 | 11:09 AM ET

Game of Thrones: America's best restroom is...

Posted By: Jane Wells
Best restroom in America: The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis
Source: Jacki V Photography | CIntas
Best restroom in America: The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis

I consider myself something of an expert when it comes to public restrooms. First, I'm on the road all the time, so I visit many of them.

Second, I'm female. Women use public restrooms 3.7 times more than men do.

OK, I just made that up. But it's probably true.

Most public restrooms in the U.S. benefit from the same care and attention that went into HealthCare.gov. By contrast, I was in Japan recently, where many public restrooms combine a dizzying degree of complexity, cleanliness and efficiency. (Check out image below showing a toilet with several "options.")

»Read more
  Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 | 12:01 PM ET

Barry Switzer's plan to take over college football

Posted By: Jane Wells

Most fall Saturdays, friends go to Barry Switzer's Norman, Okla., home to watch the Sooners' game on TV. Switzer led the University of Oklahoma football team to three national championships before joining the Dallas Cowboys as head coach and winning a Super Bowl.

Those dropping by might include former Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims or country singer Toby Keith, settling down for the afternoon in an open-air man cave nicknamed "Coaches' Cabana."

Wouldn't it be fun to hang out there? Now you can.

The venue has become the backdrop for Switzer's latest business venture called, naturally, CoachesCabana.com. He has brought in a few cameras and is webcasting color commentary on Sooners games from the comfort of his own chair.

"It's like inviting you to come to my home and watch the game with me," he said one sunny afternoon last month before Oklahoma faced off against TCU.

(Read more: Slideshow—The 10 best-selling NFL Jerseys)

Switzer beta-tested the concept last season. During the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M, he said, his little webcast got 30,000 viewers and thousands of tweets.

"We knew right then we had something," he said.

This season, he and his partners have expanded CoachesCabana.com to more than a dozen top college programs, bringing in well-known former coaches—including Pat Jones for Oklahoma State, Jackie Sherrill for Texas A&M, Fred Akers for Texas and Johnny Majors for Tennessee—to stream their insights.

Perhaps most provocatively, Switzer has lined up Jay Paterno, son of the late Joe Paterno, to webcast for Penn State.

Switzer got the idea for the venture from business partners with backgrounds in print and television. He recalled their telling him, "We need to do an interactive type of show, where we can have fans tweet the coach, legendary coaches of these great programs around the country, and do something no one else is doing."

CoachesCabana.com is known a second-screen experience: Viewers watch the game on TV but listen to commentary on a second screen, such as a tablet or computer.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 6 Nov 2013 | 4:23 PM ET

Big Mac vs. Big King: Watch our taste test

Posted By: Jane Wells

The burger world is #atwitter with the new "Big King" from Burger King, which looks like a flame-broiled copy of the famous Big Mac. Both have two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

Except the Big King has fewer sesame seeds. And the patties taste like Whoppers. And the pieces of onion are larger.

Does that make it better?

First, a little history. The Big King is not new. Burger King debuted it several years ago in certain markets. Much like the McDonald's McRib, the Big King developed a fan base wishing for its permanent return. There's even a Facebook page dedicated to this, but if you look at the image of the burger on the page, you'll see the Big King is missing a middle bun.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013 | 11:32 AM ET

Funeral 'Selfies'? Yes, people actually do that

Posted By: Jane Wells
casket coffin burial death graveyard cemetary
RubberBall Prod. | Agency Collection | Getty Images

No moment in life is either too serious or too trivial to pass without someone providing a rapid, vapid response through social media.

"Love my hair today. Hate why I'm dressed up #funeral," reads the caption of a self-portrait snapped by a young woman dressed in black. Another photo of a blonde pouting in her pink bedroom with a "Keep Calm and Rock On" sign is titled, simply, "depressing funeral selfie."

(Read more: This app makes your selfies look ... complete)

Yes, that is depressing; we don't even know how to be depressed anymore. There is tedium in every social medium to the point where even death becomes boring.

»Read more
  Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 | 10:43 AM ET

Crest toothpaste: Go ahead. Eat all that candy

Posted By: Jane Wells

Crest loves Halloween. Crest NEEDS Halloween. The toothpaste brand from Proctor & Gamble decided this year that if you can't beat 'em, make 'em laugh. It is NOT recommending that people hand out toothbrushes and floss to trick or treaters. Instead, give the kids what they want—candy.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 | 2:56 PM ET

We need more customer service reps like Capt. Mike

Posted By: Jane Wells
Scott Eelis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

When's the last time you called, emailed, chatted with customer service and had an experience that was:

1) Helpful

2) Pleasant

3) Human

Companies take customer service seriously, and yet customers calling for help often feel like they're trying to sign up for Obamacare. It's not necessarily the customer service representative's fault. He or she often has to stick to a set policy. Going off script can get a person fired.

Maybe that's why the story of a Netflix user's encounter with a customer service rep is so refreshingly positive, it's become a big hit online.

»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.