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    Seriously Funny

    Posted by David Foster on 28th September 2014 (All posts by )

    Cold Spring Shops reminds us of the political value of mockery, linking Instapundit and Sarah Hoyt, and cites, as a classic example of the effective use of mockery as a propaganda weapon. the 1943 Donald Duck film Der Fuehrer’s Face.

    For your Sunday evening enjoyment and enlightenment, here it is.

    Posted in Advertising, Film, History, Humor, Media | 3 Comments »

    Catalist, “The 480,” and The Real 480

    Posted by David Foster on 23rd September 2014 (All posts by )

    There has been much discussion recently of Catalist, a database system being used by the Democratic Party to optimally target their electioneering efforts…see Jonathan’s post here.  I’m reminded of Eugene Burdick’s 1964 novel, The 480.  The book’s premise is that a group within the Republican party acquires the services of a computing company called  Simulation Enterprises, intending to apply the latest technology and social sciences research in order to get their candidate elected.  These party insiders have been inspired by the earlier work of the 1960 Kennedy campaign with a company called Simulmatics.

    Simulmatics was a real company.  It was founded by MIT professor Ithiel de Sola Pool, a pioneer in the application of computer technology to social science research. Data from 130,000 interviews was categorized into 480 demographic groups, and an IBM 704 computer was used to process this data and predict the likely effects of various alternative political tactics.  One question the company was asked to address by the 1960 Democratic campaign, in the person of Robert F Kennedy, was:  How best to deal with religion?  There was considerable concern among some parts of the electorate about the prospect of choosing a Catholic as President.  Would the JFK campaign do better by minimizing attention to this issue, or would they do better by addressing it directly and condemning as bigots those who would let Kennedy’s faith affect their vote?

    Simulmatics concluded that “Kennedy today has lost the bulk of the votes he would lose if the election campaign were to be embittered by the issue of anti-Catholicism.  The simulation shows that there has already been a serious defection from Kennedy by Protestant voters. Under these circumstances, it makes no sense to brush the religious issue under the rug.  Kennedy has already suffered the disadvantages of the issue even though it is not embittered now–and without receiving compensating advantages inherent in it.”  Quantitatively, the study predicted that Kennedy’s direct addressing of the religion issue would move eleven states, totaling 122 electoral votes, away from the Kennedy camp–but would pull six states, worth 132 electoral votes, into the Democratic column.

    It is not clear how much this study influenced actual campaign decision-making…but less than three weeks after RFK received the Simulmatics report, JFK talked about faith before a gathering of ministers in Houston.  “I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end,”  Kennedy said,  “where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind.” (Burdick’s novel also suggests that the Kennedy campaign used Simulmatics to assess the effects of a more-forthright posture on civil rights by the campaign, and furthermore to analyze Kennedy’s optimal personality projection during the debates–I don’t know if these assertions are historically correct, but the religion analysis clearly was indeed performed.)

    Considerable excitement was generated when, after the election, the Simulmatics project became publicly known.  A Harper’s Magazine article referred to to the Simulmatics computer as “the people machine,” and quoted Dr Harold Lasswell of Yale as saying, “This is the A-bomb of the social sciences.  The breakthrough here is comparable to what happened at Stagg Field.”  But Pierre Salinger, speaking for the Kennedy campaign, asserted that “We did not use the machine.”  (Salinger’s statement is called out as a lie in the recent book, The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns.)

    In Burdick’s novel, the prospective Republican candidate is John Thatch, head of an international engineering and construction company.  Thatch has achieved popular renown after courageously defusing a confrontation between Indians and Pakistanis over a bridge his company was building, thereby averting a probable war.  Something about Thatch’s personality has struck the public imagination, and–despite his lack of political experience–he looks to be an attractive candidate.  But initially, the Republicans see little hope of defeating the incumbent Kennedy–“the incumbent is surrounded by over four years of honorific words and rituals,” a psychologist explains.  “He seems as though he ought to be President.  He assumes the mantle.”  This outlook is deeply disturbing to a Republican senior statesman named Bookbinder, who strongly believes that defacto 8-year terms are bad for the country…but if it is true that Kennedy is unbeatable, then the best the Republicans can hope to do is lose as well as possible.  Things change when Kennedy is assassinated and the election becomes a real contest.

    Bookbinder and Levi, another Republican senior statesman, are introduced to Simulation Enterprises by a young lawyer named Madison (Mad) Curver and his psychologist associate (quoted above), a woman named Dr Devlin.  Mad and Dr Devlin explain that what Sim Enterprises does is different from the work done by garden-variety pollsters like the one they have just met, Dr Cotter:

    “The pollster taps only a small fragment of the subject’s mind, attention, background, family influence, and habits.  The Simulations thing, just because it can consider thousands of elements influencing the subject, even things he may not know himself, gets much better results.”

    “And one further thing, Book,” Mad said.  “Simulations Enterprises can predict what people will do in a situation which they have never heard of before.  That was the whole point of the UN in the Midwest example.  No one has gone out there and asked them to vote on whether we should get out of the UN, but Dev outlined a procedure by which you can predict how they will react…if they ever do have to vote on it.

    Again Bookbinder had the sharp sense of unreality.  Unreal people were being asked invented questions and a result came out on green, white-lined paper…and when you got around to the real people six months later with the real question they would act the way the computer had said they would.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Book Notes, Elections, History, Human Behavior, Politics, Polls, Predictions, Tech, USA | 8 Comments »

    Money, Politics, Media, and Academia

    Posted by David Foster on 28th July 2014 (All posts by )

    Much discussion lately about money and politics—about contributions in-kind, not so much.

    As is well-known, the mass media in general slants Left.  Importantly, this is not only the case with explicit news and opinion shows (viz Bob Simon’s 60 Minutes smear against Israel), but also more indirectly, in the case of messages–subtle or otherwise–contained in fictional TV programs and films.  To take one example out of many, HBO managed to work a slam against Republicans in general, and Ted Cruz in particular, into a vampire movie. And, of course, many prominent newspapers transmit left-aligned messages in virtually all sections of the paper, from the front page through the Style section.

    It would be difficult to put a financial value on the in-kind contributions being made by the media to the Democratic Party and the Left in general, but surely to purchase equivalent coverage at commercial ad rates would run into the multiple billions of dollars, probably the tens of billions.  Additional in-kind contributions to the cause on the Left are being made by many academics, who choose to use their taxpayer-and-tuition-provided salaries and classrooms for political preaching or at least subtle brand-promotion activities.

    Placing tight restrictions on explicit political contributions would have the effect of further increasing the power–greatly further increasing the power–of those institutions which are in a position to directly conduct political speech….those who own a microphone instead of having to pay for access to one.

    See this piece on restricting speech to the political class, with excerpt from Ace:

    It occurs to me that the Left is attempting to create a system wherein there are two different classes of citizenship, one fully possessed of its right to speak and act politically, the other whose rights in this regard are sharply curtailed. . . .
    The Left, were it to have its way, would forbid anyone who is not primarily in the business of politics (or working for the government or university) from exercising their full political rights.  If you work in any other industry, your rights are substantially reduced. . . .The only people who would be permitted to speak on political issues, or at in accordance with their social/cultural/religious/political principles, would be the Political Class Itself, which is of course largely “progressive.”

    See also the divine right of the US media…note especially this statement by someone who works for the New York Times:

    The government really needs to get its message out to the American people, and it knows that the best way to do that is by using the American news media,” said Shanker. “The relationship between the government and the media is like a marriage; it is a dysfunctional marriage to be sure, but we stay together for the kids.”

    How do you feel about being considered as a child under the parental authority of media-company employees and government officials such as Obama’s State Department spokesidiot Jen Psaki?  Want to see these people effectively given more even more power than they already have?

    Posted in Academia, Advertising, Elections, Leftism, Media, Politics, USA | 7 Comments »

    Archive: An Acute Shortage of Care

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th July 2014 (All posts by )

    (It’s been a rough and work-filled weekend from me, as regards providing good bloggy ice cream. I am wrapping up a couple of finished projects for Watercress clients, prepping for three more – from repeat clients no less, so they are entitled to an extra ration of care) and hand-holding a poet, coming down to getting her first book launched. I tell you, I am in two minds about publishing poets after this; a temperamental and high-maintenance variety of author … anyway, this rant dates from 2006, and was one of my more biting ones, written at the time of the last Israeli-Palestine conflict, or possibly the one before that. Yeah, I took sides. This explains how and why that came about.)

    So, one of NPR’s news shows had another story, banging on (yet again) about the plight of the poor, pitiful, persecuted Palestinians, now that the money tap looks to be severely constricted; no money, no jobs, no mama no papa no Uncle Sam, yadda, yadda yadda. (It’s sort of like an insistent parent insisting that a stubborn child eat a helping of fried liver and onions, with a lovely side helping of filboid studge. You will feel sorry for these people, the international press, a certain segment of the intellectual and political elite insist— you must! You simply must! It’s good for you!) I briefly felt a pang, but upon brief consideration, I wrote it off to the effect of the green salsa on a breakfast taco from a divey little place along the Austin Highway. (Lovely tacos, by the way, and the green salsa is nuclear fission in a plastic cup. Name of Divey Little Place available upon request, but really, you can’t miss it. It’s painted two shades of orange, with navy blue trim.)

    It may have been a pang of regret, barely perceptible, for the nice, sympathetic person I used to be. I used to feel sorry for the Palestinians, in a distant sort of way, the same way I feel about the Tibetans, and the Armenians, and the Kurds, and the Chechens (well, once upon a time, say before the Beslan school atrocity) and the poor starving Biafrans and Somalis, and whoever the international press was holding the current pity party for. Really, I used to be a nice person. I really did feel kindly, and well-disposed to those parties, and I wished them well, since all of them (and more) being victims of historical misfortune.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Civil Society, History, Israel, Middle East, Personal Narrative, Terrorism | 10 Comments »

    History Friday – Plaza Mayor

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th April 2014 (All posts by )

    San Fernando Cathedral and the Plaza Today

    That is what they were called in towns and cities in Spain – the main plaza or town square, which served as the center of civic life, around which were ranged the important civic buildings, the biggest church; this the regular market place, the assembly area for every kind of public spectacle imaginable over the centuries. Every plaza mayor in every Spanish town is alike and yet different; different in size and shape, and in the confirmation of the buildings around it. Some are bare and paved in cobbles, and some have trees and gardens in them now.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Civil Society, Entrepreneurship, History, Miscellaneous, North America, Recipes, Society | 5 Comments »

    Source of America’s Problems Discovered

    Posted by David Foster on 12th December 2013 (All posts by )

    …quite a few of them, anyway

    The above poster was apparently often found on the walls of high-school guidance counselors in the 1970s. So says Mike Rowe, who has proposed an improved version of the poster. Link.

    via American Digest

    Posted in Academia, Advertising, Business, Economics & Finance, Education, USA | 16 Comments »

    Where do we go now ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th November 2013 (All posts by )

    I don’t want to wear out my welcome with posts but this is a topic that has interested me for many years. When I retired from practice, I spent a year at Dartmouth trying to learn how we can improve health care delivery and reduce cost without reducing quality.

    The Obamacare web site now has lost its happy photo of the Obamacare girl. The fact that she is a non-citizen seems appropriate. The web site is supposed to be fixed by November 30. Will that happen ? Well, maybe not.

    On Friday, the man tasked with the digital fixes said the site “remains a long way from where it needs to be” as more and more problems emerge.

    “As we put new fixes in, volume is increasing, exposing new storage capacity and software application issues,” Jeff Zients told reporters on a conference call.

    And at Tuesday’s White House Press Briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney again said there was “more work to be done” on repairing HealthCare.gov.

    Carney, along with Zients and other administration officials, have repeatedly said the November 30 deadline is to get the health care website working for a “vast majority” of Americans looking to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges.

    So, what happens December 2, the Monday after the “glitches” are fixed ? First, they won’t be fixed. The contractor that designed the program, not just the web site, has a terrible record.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Big Government, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Leftism, Medicine, Obama, Politics | 11 Comments »

    Why the Obamacare site is not working.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th October 2013 (All posts by )

    I hadn’t thought of this situation, only because I didn’t have enough imagination to see that politics trumps all with Obama.

    A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

    This just didn’t occur to me. It should have. After all, what was Benghazi about ?

    This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

    It is just amazing that the politicians know so little about technology (this was the guy with the Blackberry who made fun of McCain) that they did not understand that saying something doesn’t make it happen.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Big Government, Health Care, Obama, Organizational Analysis, Politics, Tech | 26 Comments »

    Just a Brief Note

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd July 2013 (All posts by )

    I’ve put together some posts from my various archives … Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Arts & Letters, Blegs, Blogging, Book Notes, Diversions, History | 6 Comments »

    RERUN–Metaphors, Interfaces, and Thought Processes

    Posted by David Foster on 14th January 2013 (All posts by )

    (I originally posted this in late 2007…I was reminded of it by the recent story about the Obama administration’s propaganda video game featuring space aliens, global warming, and gender issues)

    My post today is inspired by In the Beginning was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson, a strange little book that will probably be found in the “computers” section of your local bookstore. While the book does deal with human interfaces to computer systems, its deeper subject is the impact of media and metaphors on thought processes and on work.

    Stephenson contrasts the explicit word-based interface with the graphical or sensorial interface. The first (which I’ll call the textual interface) can be found in a basic UNIX system or in an old-style PC DOS system or timesharing terminal. The second (the sensorial interface) can be found in Windows and Mac systems and in their respective application programs.

    As a very different example of a sensorial interface, Stephenson uses something he saw at Disney World–a hypothetical stone-by-stone reconstruction of a ruin in the jungles of India. It is supposed to have been built by a local rajah in the sixteenth century, but since fallen into disrepair.

    The place looks more like what I have just described than any actual building you might find in India. All the stones in the broken walls are weathered as if monsoon rains had been trickling down them for centuries, the paint on the gorgeous murals is flaked and faded just so, and Bengal tigers loll among stumps of broken columns. Where modern repairs have been made to the ancient structure, they’ve been done, not as Disney’s engineers would do them, but as thrifty Indian janitors would–with hunks of bamboo and rust-spotted hunks of rebar.

    In one place, you walk along a stone wall and view some panels of art that tell a story.

    …a broad jagged crack runs across a panel or two, but the story is still readable: first, primordial chaos leads to a flourishing of many animal species. Next, we see the Tree of Life surrounded by diverse animals…an obvious allusion (or, in showbiz lingo, a tie-in) to the gigantic Tree of Life that dominates the center of Disney’s Animal Kingdom…But it’s rendered in historically correct style and could probably fool anyone who didn’t have a PhD in Indian art history.

    The next panel shows a mustacioed H. sapiens chopping down the Tree of Life with a scimitar, and the animals fleeing every which way. The one after that shows the misguided human getting walloped by a tidal wave, part of a latter-day Deluge presumably brought on by his stupidity.

    The final panel, then, portrays the Sapling of Life beginning to grow back, but now man has ditched the edged weapon and joined the other animals in standing around to adore and praise it.

    Clearly, this exhibit communicates a specific worldview, and it strongly implies that this worldview is consistent with traditional Indian religion and culture. Most viewers will assume the connection without doing further research as to its correctness or lack thereof.

    I’d observe that as a general matter, the sensorial interface is less open to challenge than the textual interface. It doesn’t argue–doesn’t present you with a chain of facts and logic that let you sit back and say, “Hey, wait a minute–I’m not so sure about that.” It just sucks you into its own point of view.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Advertising, Media, Politics, Tech | 9 Comments »

    “The taxpayer-funded PR blitz for Obamacare”

    Posted by Jonathan on 2nd December 2012 (All posts by )

    It’s already underway and will only get worse. J.E. Dyer’s analysis is worth reading:

    It’s one thing when advertisers seek to drive emotional connections with lite beer, pick-up trucks, and air fresheners. It’s something else when the government hires advertisers to drive emotional connections with government policies and institutions. This goes far beyond the old-fashioned “good government” idea of providing information to citizens. In its essence, it differs not at all from a Stalin-era poster hyping the Soviet government’s policies to a beleaguered Russian people.
     

     
    Advertising is a dangerous thing in the hands of the armed state. I am no more in favor of Republican administrations spending a lot of money on it than of Democrats doing so. With Obamacare, we have reached the fork in the road. A government with the powers conferred by Obamacare cannot, on principle, be trusted to “advertise” its policies to us. The inevitable descent into untrustworthy propaganda has already begun. Until Obamacare is repealed, it will continue to get worse.

    Posted in Advertising, Bioethics, Health Care, Media, Medicine, Obama, Politics, Rhetoric | 22 Comments »

    A Rant – but I’m Tired of the 6:00 News

    Posted by Ginny on 24th September 2012 (All posts by )

    “Third party payer systems are always inflationary.” Steyn points to one of those truisms Obama seems to have never understood. Subsidiarity is another. Someone from Romney’s background knows that – knows efficiency, responsibility, community – with every fiber of his being because this is his life – as Shannon so solidly summarizes below. It isn’t just that Obama doesn’t take care of his blood relations and Romney has long stretched that responsibility out to increasingly large communities. He knows what fulfills him and what works. He probably also thinks it is good. What are we doing with a president that can’t even imagine such responsibilities?

    I want to hear my president talk and to have a sense that he doesn’t see
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Elections, Obama | 24 Comments »

    Selling New Concepts can be Challenging

    Posted by David Foster on 8th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Via Maggie’s Farm and Dinocrat, here’s a Bob Newhart skit from 1970. Bob plays the role of an 1890s-style venture capitalist, talking on the phone with inventor Herman Hollerith, who is trying to explain the merits of punched card technology.

    LINK

    Related: Father, Son & Co., the biography of long-time IBM CEO Thomas Watson Jr, is the best business autobiography I’ve read. I reviewed it here.

    Posted in Advertising, Book Notes, Business, History, Media, Tech | 5 Comments »

    RERUN–Ambition and Opportunism

    Posted by David Foster on 24th August 2012 (All posts by )

    Originally posted 3/4/2004

    There’s always a steady steam of books and articles offering advice to people who are beginning, or about to begin, their business careers. In the current crop of such publications, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on “taking care of yourself’–negotiating hard about starting salary, being insistent about raises and promotions, making sure you get full credit for the things you accomplish, etc etc. This general theme seems particularly pronounced right now in advice directed at women.

    Within limits, it’s common sense. If you don’t stand up for yourself, you’re going to get run over. And, in an era of (at least perceived) insecurity, it’s natural that people would be increasingly focused on career self-protection.

    But. Note the qualifier, “within limits.”

    Readers of the afforementioned publications need to also read a little article that appeared in Investor’s Business Daily (2/23), under the title “Opportunists are Trouble.” Opportunists:

    ..avoid assignments that carry high risk of failure–even when such situations also present a great opportunity for success. They shirk responsibility for the actions of their subordinates…And while opportunists might seem highly intelligent, it’s often not the case…They master the art of appearance, but have very little depth.

    The article quotes the author of “Staying There,” Thomas Schweich:

    If you are going to be an executive with staying power, you must value ambition, destroy opportunism and be adept at telling the diference between the two…(Wise) executives search for small, tangible signs in those they are evaluating.

    Earl Graves, founder & publisher of the magazine Black Enterprise, offers some advice as to how to detect an opportunist. One clue is an excessive preoccupation with perks–company credit cards, tickets to sports events, etc–and particularly, a focus on perks during the first few days on the job. And Mike Sears, previously CFO at Boeing, advises executives to look out for the “spotlight” mentality. People with this personality trait will “be charming when the spotlight is on, but turn irritable and condescending when they think “no one of importance” is watching.”

    Another clue to an opportunist–and this one should be obvious–is excessive use of the words “I” and “me” when discussing positive outcomes. And then there’s the “should be” flag. Let’s say you ask your subordinate about the status of an assignment, and his response is that “it should be done.”

    “(It) says that you think I am too stupid to figure out that you do not know the answer,” (said a senior Justice Department official). (And it) “says you are ready to blame someone else if the job hasn’t been done. You are pre-distancing yourself from the failure.”

    It seems to me that many of the current practices in our educational system–grade inflation, excessive focus on unearned self-esteem–contribute to the development of the personality pattern referenced here under the name “opportunism.” And the problem with the kind of business advice that I mentioned at the beginning is that it tends to reinforce these tendencies, rather than causing the individual to reflect on them and balance them out. I worry that some of this advice could cause people who could have been successful to adopt behavior patterns that will destroy or limit their careers. Some, of course, will succeed despite their behavior (or even because of it, in unhealthy organizations), and they can then do damage that is sometimes on a very large scale.

    A worthwhile article, and Schweich’s book sounds very interesting.

    8/24/2012: I was reminded of this post by Bill Waddell’s post here.

    Posted in Advertising, Business, Human Behavior, Management, USA | 4 Comments »

    Update – Chick-fil-A

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 1st August 2012 (All posts by )

    The daughter unit was working today, so we waited and had late-lunch, early dinner. The local Chick-fil-A nearest us was jammed, even more than it was last Saturday, and the line of cars for the drive-through window went around the building, through the parking lot of the business next to it, out to the access road through the shopping center, down the access road to the highway access road. The cashier told us that at lunch today, the line went all the way to the Costco, about a third of a mile away.


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Americas, North America, Photos, Tea Party | 21 Comments »

    The Strange Case of l’affaire du Poulet Filet

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th July 2012 (All posts by )

    Yep – when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro … Here we are, shaking our heads in amazed disbelief that now a fast-food chain purveying tasty chicken entrees, distinguished among other fast-food outlets only for a corporate policy of being closed on Sunday and a rather witty advertising series featuring illiterate cows urging us to eat chicken … is the hill to be defended in the culture war. That would be the newly-vicious cultural war between the forces of tolerant political correctness and those conservative and libertarian defenders of free-market principles as well as the freedom of belief and expression. Most of us of that persuasion are actually rather stunned at how suddenly Chick-Fil-A is now the demon that must be defeated! And defeated by any means, fair, foul, shrill or underhanded as is required by the mission, naturally. Is there some PC target of the week decided upon? Last time I looked around it was the Koch Brothers who were the Goldstein o’the Week. One can hardly keep up without a scorecard.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Americas, Business, Conservatism, Diversions, North America, Society, USA | 16 Comments »

    The Politics of Politics

    Posted by L. C. Rees on 3rd July 2012 (All posts by )

    I don’t remember why I took Debate 101 my sophomore year of high school.

    I’m not an enthusiastic public speaker nor was I inclined to become one. Perhaps I was interested in learning advanced debating techniques. Then I’d be ever triumphant in the important debates of daily life:

    “You think you deserve that last piece of pizza? Let me tell you why you don’t.”

    The explanation may be much simpler:

    • my experience suggests that teenagers aren’t terribly bright
    • my later experience as a junior and senior suggests that sophomores aren’t terribly bright either

    Entering Debate 101, I was:

    1. a teenager and
    2. a sophomore.

    The evidence, however circumstantial, is sufficient to convict.

    If I was interested in learning debate technique, I was disappointed: the debate class wasn’t designed to systematically instruct students to taking apart their own position, reassemble it into a stronger position, and then use their new strong position to destroy their opponent’s position. This debate class was designed to cull skilled debaters out of the general student body who would then go on and compete in regional and state debate competitions. Some technique was dispensed in miserly bursts but mostly it was one instruction-free speaking assignment after another. Those with innate debating instinct went on to join the school team with all the glory that bestowed (not much). The rest of the class had to live with disappointment (again, not much).

    One debate format we were taught, Lincoln-Douglas (LD), was roughly similar to this format laid out by Wikipedia:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, That's NOT Funny | 1 Comment »

    ALDaily

    Posted by Ginny on 25th March 2012 (All posts by )

    ALDaily has a questionnaire up. If you don’t check it out regularly, give it a look. We’re on their blog roll, so keep us in mind. Just saying. And don’t be put off by Chronicle ownership – this may indicate changes to come, but under the late Dutton, it was remarkably open to all viewpoints, though reflecting his interests in evolutionary art criticism (examples too rare to notice unless you knew Dutton’s work).

    Posted in Academia, Advertising | Comments Off

    The ‘Building Technology Heritage Library’ at the Internet Archive

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 2nd February 2012 (All posts by )

    The cover of a trade catalog about the practice of graining, which was common in the 19th century.

    To make sure that past designs and practices aren’t forgotten, the people at the Internet Archive have founded a collection called the Building Technology Heritage Library:

    The Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL) is primarily a collection of American and Canadian, pre-1964 architectural trade catalogs, house plan books and technical building guides. Trade catalogs are an important primary source to document past design and construction practices. These materials can aid in the preservation and conservation of older structures as well as other research goals.

    The BTHL contains materials from various private and institutional collections. These materials are rarely available in most architectural and professional libraries. The first major architectural trade catalog collection is that of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which encompasses more that 4,000 catalogs from the early 19th century through 1963. In addition to the architectural trade catalogs, the initial contributions include a large number of house plan catalogs, which will be of great interest to owners of older homes. The future growth of the Building Technology Heritage Library will also include contemporary materials on building conservation.

    Posted in Advertising, Architecture, History | 2 Comments »

    The Indy Author Game

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th November 2011 (All posts by )

    For those who are interested – below the fold… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Arts & Letters, Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    An Orphaned Cookbook

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 18th November 2011 (All posts by )

    The Daughter Unit is, as I have mentioned before, the absolute queen of yard sales, thrift stores and estate sales. She views each possible venue as a rich hunting ground – and regularly emerges triumphantly flaunting a high-quality and originally expensive item bought for a relative pittance.  She also has a soft spot for old books, especially the ones which look as if they have had better days. She says they appeal to her rather like a kind of abandoned pet, the elderly animal left behind when the owner dies.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Anglosphere, Recipes | 10 Comments »

    Diversions in Consignment Store Shopping

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 2nd October 2011 (All posts by )

    Behold!  The saddle bag! Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Americas, Diversions, Photos | 9 Comments »

    Bookworld

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th September 2011 (All posts by )

    There was a lot of discussion earlier this year and in a great many different writing and general interest venues regarding the success of indy writer Amanda Hocking  – which, however you slice it, remains a self-published and e-book success story. Candidly, I think that we need another zombie-werewolf-vampire saga like Custer needed another Indian, but hey- that’s just me. Not my cuppa, but if it floats yer boat . . .  To paraphrase the lyrics of a certain old pop song – I can barely run my own life, why the hell should I want to run yours? Yeah – Sunshine, go away and get those kids off my lawn!

    Anyway – as an indy-POD-author, untrammeled by the shackles of the literary-industrial complex, I had to give the Ms. Hocking all kinds of mad respect, for writing savvy,  plus marketing skills and the sheer neck to go out and just do it. 450,000 copies of nine books, each at a price of .99-2.99 and the author getting 30-70% in royalties  . . .  is  . . .  a  . . .  a lot of turnips.*

    I’m an English major, dammit! But I appreciate the business aspects of it all.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Diversions, Internet, Miscellaneous | 4 Comments »

    Sex, Marketing, and Electric Cars, 1897-1913

    Posted by David Foster on 28th August 2011 (All posts by )

    A fascinating look at the electric car industry of the early 20th century and specifically the attempt to position these vehicles as particularly appropriate for women: Femininity and the Electric Car.

    Lots of other interesting content on the web site on which this article appears, The Automobile in American Life and Society.

    Posted in Advertising, Business, History, Tech, Transportation, USA | 9 Comments »

    Just For Fun on a Friday

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 12th August 2011 (All posts by )

    … unfortunate urban signage, below the fold. Almost as funny as the juxtaposition on Grand Avenue in Escondido that my daughter and I spotted about ten years ago: a sushi restaurant right next door to a tropical fish emporium…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Humor, North America, Photos | 5 Comments »