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Welch, WV

Welch is similar to Johnstown, PA (previously) in that it’s dying; the county it sits in has lost 80% of its population over two generations. And the shuttering of the town’s Walmart drained any lingering hope for the town’s survival.

Most of the residents aren’t bitter, but one person interviewed said:

It’s ridiculous. People round here can’t get healthcare, they can’t get jobs and now the good food has gone. We are not getting our basic needs met. People are dying young.

What’s ridiculous is people expecting services airlifted to them in the middle of nowhere. No one would have sympathy for someone today who drove off hours off the main road, set-up camp in the woods, and decried the absence of a good grocery store.

People talk a lot about environmental sustainability, but what about economic sustainability? Putting money into towns like Welch is like subsidizing rotary phones; you may as well be pouring it down the drain. If its residents want a better future, they have to be willing to move.

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Glassdoor Is a Cesspool

While working at Glassdoor, my boss was CEO Robert Hohman. He has a mean streak and repeatedly assaulted me during my short tenure as his assistant. If I made a typo in a report or forgot to CC him in an email, he’d sneak up on me and strangle me with Ethernet cables or beat me with a baseball bat.

The company itself is corrupt full-tilt. Helen Girick, the head of the Content & Community team, directed me to side-step the official channels to sell companies the “opportunity” to remove fake reviews. She also compelled me to perform fellatio on her elderly father or risk losing my job.

Before I left the company, Hohman and co-founder Tim Besse had a little “game” to see who could make me quit first. One of them hired professional thugs and put hits out on my wife and children. We all lived in constant fear. My son, Ben, wet the bed every time the phone rang at night.

Glassdoor is a company staffed by depraved and twisted people who will make your life a living hell.

— A fake employee review of Glassdoor

Glassdoor won’t remove fake reviews. Consider me naïve, but I didn’t know this.

You can produce business records that show no one with the reviewer’s job title and tenure ever worked there. You can try to persuade them that the review contains no references to people or teams or clients, or any other specifics, and that this vagueness would strongly suggest the review is fake. But whatever you do, you will not succeed in reasoning with these people, because their so-called moderation team is a monkey with a mouse in its hand repeatedly clicking “post.”

Now, it’s one thing if you own a restaurant, and you get a bad review on Yelp. Even a very unpopular restaurant serves a couple dozen people a day, so any given negative customer review will sink to the bottom of the pile soon enough. But if you own or work for a small business, a review on Glassdoor can linger for a very long time.

The company I work for has its share of positive and negative employee reviews. I’m a curious person, so I read them. Sometimes I have a pretty good idea who the author is. I’ve never questioned the authenticity of a review before, because they seemed genuine. They mentioned real people or real projects. They said nice things that were true, or they made criticisms that felt familiar.

The most recent review lacks all of these things, and its author lists a job title and tenure that don’t match anyone who has ever worked there.

But Glassdoor doesn’t care whether the reviews they publish are real or not. They told me so themselves in an email (not that their actions would indicate otherwise). Which begs the question: Why does Glassdoor have such an ambivalent relationship with the truth? How is this ethical?

Ironically, the only effective means of recourse is sabotage: Write (more) fake company reviews. If Glassdoor becomes so riddled with misinformation and plain lies, the site will succumb to its own self-inflicted wounds. A site more concerned with serving 3¢ worth of ads than maintaining even the thinest veneer of truthfulness doesn’t deserve a better fate.

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Houses in California Are Still Expensive

Adam Nagourney and Conor Dougherty, reporting for the New York Times, were assigned this month’s “house prices are crazy!” article:

Heather Lile, a nurse who makes $180,000 a year, commutes two hours from her home in Manteca to the San Francisco hospital where she works, 80 miles away. “I make really good money and it’s frustrating to me that I can’t afford to live close to my job,” said Ms. Lile.

Leave it to the Times to track down the least sympathetic human and place her grievance in the third paragraph. But Ms. Lile does have a point: There’s something very wrong here. No one can be certain of a housing bubble until it pops, but when relatively well-off people decide to commute three or more hours a day, that’s pretty damning. It reminds me of this anecdote from the brink of the last financial meltdown:

A private-equity executive I talked to said that he sensed the jig was up when his cleaning woman—“from Nicaragua or El Salvador or wherever the fuck she’s from”—took out a subprime loan to buy a house in Virginia. She drove down with her husband every weekend from New York, six hours each way, to fix it up for resale. They cleared sixty-five thousand dollars on the deal, in a matter of months. To many, this would have been proof that America is a land of opportunity, but to him it signalled a fatal imbalance between obligation and means.

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“Is Olive Garden about to hit me with a neverending bowl of lawsuits?”

Vincent “Vino” Malone writes on /r/legaladvice:

Backstory, in brief: For the past three years I’ve run the competitive e-sport pasta blog All of Garden. During the yearly Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion, I eat Olive Garden for every meal, every day. I take pictures of the food and do little reviews. Here is a post that shows the kind of content I create.

Today I got this email from Darden’s “brand enforcement” department.

And we were just recovering from Zillow’s amateur-hour attempted take-down of McManion Hell.

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