Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sweet Smell of Advertising Shifts

A few years back, I distinctly remember being disgusted by a series of advertisements, a series that has only continued to bother me more as time has marched onward. Axe brand (which is owned and produced by Unilever) deodorant, shampoos, soaps and hair care products are targeted to a specific group, young adult males. I proudly count myself amongst this number.

Apparently, there are but three functions of the young adult male's mind, women, sleeping, and women. Beyond such transcendent concerns no attention can be spared. This theme has been the driving force of the marketing campaigns of Axe products for years now, as any interested viewer of any television programming can attest. Advertising is designed to sell products by fostering a desire for it in the individuals who create the marketplace.

Axe does this well by equating an exponential growth in the number of beautiful and flirtatious women in a man's vicinity to a linear growth in the amount of Axe product said man is wearing.

Effective? Yes. Amble through the men's personal hygiene portion of Wal-Mart to see how dominate this brand has become in a short period of time. The maxim of Sex Sells rings ever more true.

(One cool thing to do with Axe: Spray it all over your hand and then light it on fire on a dark night. Or don't, actually. But if you do, extinguish it quickly. If you are showing this post to your mother, redact this portion.)

Regardless of how offensive I have found Axe's marketing to be, both to my intelligence, the wits of women, and a moral society, it has never occurred to me to demand censorship of this content. Free content over muddled-yet-open airways are paid for by advertisers and Axe is but one of many. Their strategy is not particularly unique, just well executed.

Look! Over the horizon! A man upon a noble steed rides over the hills into battle. Armed with but a town and a bottle of Old Spice, he enters the young adult male marketing fray. Starting with the Superbowl, Old Spice began a blisteringly brilliant campaign with technically astounding film work, Voltaire's wit, and the idea that guys should 'Smell like a man, Man!'.

Separating itself from the competition by telling men their focus is not exclusively on women, old spice has helped make it right to be a man again.

These thoughts all came to me when I was brushing my teeth this morning, and I realized my younger brother had, within the past few months, switched from Axe products to Old Spice.

In other news, I don't use any of the described products myself, and will be earning absolutely no money from this post. Again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All Done

Telegraph: "The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.
Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.
"On Sunday the last bill is due and the First World War finally, financially at least, terminates for Germany," said Bild, the country's biggest selling newspaper.
Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the 'war guilt' clause, accepting blame for the war."

Good to see the Germans keep their word. We can put the past behind us now, yes?
They've already paid off the stolen bike from WWII as well. 
Now if  only my government could be so faithful at paying off debts. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maxim to Govern By

Kevin D. Williamson: "The resort to violence is what makes the question of what kind of things it is legitimate for states to do an important moral concern. It seems to me perfectly reasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to stop him murdering, raping, or robbing. It seems to me entirely unreasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to extort from him money to fund a project to get monkeys high on cocaine. Those seem to me fairly reasonable distinctions. It is illegitimate for government to use force or the threat of force for projects that are not inherently public in character.

The question of how much illegitimacy a state may perpetrate before becoming generally illegitimate itself is of real interest and has been, of late, the subject of some spirited discussion between some of my colleagues here and me. (You probably can guess on which side of the fault line I stand.)

But I would like to make it clear that I am not indulging in a figure of speech: I think it’s a pretty useful heuristic: If you’re not willing to have somebody hauled off at gunpoint over the project, then it’s probably not a legitimate concern of the state."

Short and Sweet rebuttal to an Economist article regarding the role of the State in the lives of Men and Women. 

Fowl Inflation

Made me laugh

Friday, September 24, 2010

Unleash the Ivory Knights, Republican Plan Part 2

This is a follow up post to Part 1, in which I analyzed the GOP plan for job creation.

After reading the remainder of the Neo-Contract-With-America, here are the remaining low points, I'll have a follow up with the high points soon. 

Low Points:
Reform the Budget Process to Focus on Long-Term Challenges: We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations. That means requiring a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, setting benchmarks for these programs and reviewing them regularly, and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.

What is so saddening about this is the presumption that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid should still exist in the future, regardless of their fiscal feasibility or the morality of their existence. Future generations will continue to pay for the bloated growth of these programs, regardless of the sham of congressional oversight. 

Ensure Access For Patients With Pre-Existing Conditions: Health care should be accessible for all, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses. We will expand state high-risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage.We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps, and prevent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick.We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.

Ah, yes. Because the muddled hand of government intervention in this marketplace has had such stellar results in the past, let us reach forth and do so again. I thought the republicans intended to repeal Obamacare, yet they seek to retain what is one of the more damaging components, direct mandates upon insurance providers. 
Simple question that will clarify much of this issue:
What kind of customer would select an insurance provider who will expel the customer upon a customer's illness? 
There is no market for such a plan, and will never be so. Allow us the luxury of dealing with problems we have, rather then idling with concrete solutions to imaginary problems. 

Keep Terrorists Out of America: We will prevent the government from importing terrorists onto American soil.We will hold President Obama and his administration responsible for any Guantanamo Bay detainees they release who return to fight against our troops or who have become involved in any terrorist plots or activities.

It is the outrageously specific and splendidly hyperbolic points such as these that make my heart warm brightly for a return of a republican establishment. 

Require Tough Enforcement of Sanctions Against Iran: The Iranian regime is a state-sponsor of terrorism, has actively worked to harm our deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and violates the rights and will of its own people.It has declared its determination to acquire a nuclear capability, which threatens its neighbors and the security of the United States.We will work to ensure the government aggressively and effectively implements the sanctions tools Congress has provided

Has this party even looked at a map? We have Iran surrounded by nations swimming with US presence on both its east and western borders, and its solitary maritime outlet is dominated by the might of the US Navy. The reason for its persistent quest at gaining power in the region is because it feels threatened, and what reason have we given them to feel unthreatened? Escalating the situation is a nothing more then a persual of continuing war in the region. 

Colbert to Congress on Migrant Workers

Astonishingly Briliant.

Among the best lines:
"My great-grandfather did not travel across 4,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this country overrun by immigrants, he did it because he killed a man in Ireland..."

Also, note the actions of the Congresswoman at about 4:45 in the clip.

Strangest thing about this? His proposal is in line with the solution to this problem, just let more legal immigrants in.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unleash the Ivory Knights, Republican Plan Part 1

Republican Party Plan for America:Our Plan to End The Uncertainty and Create Incentives for Job Growth: If we’ve learned anything during the recession, it’s that we cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity.The best way to get people working again is to rein in the growth of government and end the uncertainty facing small businesses.By addressing both issues, our plan revives free enterprise and moves America away from a debt-driven economy."

Like the rest of this document, this platform, this neo-contract-with-America, it is brimming with lofty rhetoric but almost devoid of any concrete solutions. Eight pages into the document, and we are presented with the first presuppositions of action being put forward by a presumably victorious party. Here is the unwieldy named 'Plan to End the Uncertainty and Create Incentives for Job Growth', and your humble blog warrior's analysis. 

Permanently Stop All Job-Killing Tax Hikes:We will help the economy by permanently stopping all tax increases, currently scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011.That means protecting middle-class families, seniors worried about their retirement, and the entrepreneurs and family-owned small businesses on which we depend to create jobs in America.

Is it really to much trouble to push for tax cuts? To go into a political battle with the objective of merely yelling 'STOP' at the top of the assembly's lungs is madness, or apathy resigned to defeat. Spending cuts followed by tax cuts is the recipe for economic growth, not the neo-Keynesian approach of maintaining taxes whilst increasing spending. 
Realistically speaking, this boils down to maintaining the Bush tax cuts. It would be more appropriate to make more tax cuts, and with that mindset, a compromise solution of maintaining the tax rate can be reached. This is little more then the absurd proposition that the current tax rates are low enough to allow economic growth to occur, which is clearly untrue. Maintaining the status quo is a miserable argument, and ought to be disbanded by any party serious about making things right in the country. Perhaps I err in assuming the national GOP leadership seeks to make things more free for the American people. 

Give Small Businesses a Tax Deduction:We will allow small business owners to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income.This will provide entrepreneurs with a much-needed infusion of capital for investment and new hiring

Tax cuts are proposed, and how marvelously specific this is. 20% of business income is a meaningless token political phrase, designed to keep people enticed but with very limited practical implications. 
The next logical question to ask of the Republican party is this: Why stop only at small businesses? When I purchase goods and services from any establishment of commerce, I pay the taxes they owe the government. So do the world a favor and lower taxes on all businesses, and in turn, lower my taxes and spending rate. The hypocrisy of this is disenchanting.n 

Rein In the Red Tape Factory in Washington, DC:Excessive federal regulation is a de facto tax on employers and consumers that stifles job creation, hampers innovation and postpones investment in the economy.When the game is always changing, small businesses cannot properly plan for the future.To provide stability, we will require congressional approval of any new federal regulation that has an annual cost to our economy of $100 million or more.This is the threshold at which the government deems a regulation “economically significant.”If a regulation is so “significant” and costly that it may harm job creation, Congress should vote on it first.

The solution posed here is worthless by all measures except that of electoral garnish. To cut the obscenity of the Federal bureaucracy we shrug against, eliminate the devastating Federal intervention into Health care, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Employment, and light bulbs! Real solutions lie not in another layer of mystifying government processes, but in eliminating the very processes that have caused these economic ailments. 

Repeal Job-Killing Small Business Mandates:One of the most controversial mandates of the Democrats’ government takeover of health care requires small businesses to report to the Internal Revenue Service any purchases that run more than $600.This 1099 reporting mandate is so overbearing that the IRS ombudsman has determined that the agency is ill-equipped to handle all the resulting paperwork..We will repeal this job-killing small business mandate.

I concur, this, in and of itself, is a very fine objective. 

Additional analysis to come later. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Well produced bundle of historical references speaking of liberty and the state. Well done, Mr. Hannity's crew. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Same Pitch

Tea Party Evaluation

Steve Chapman: "Here's my first impression of the tea party movement: It's a rabidly right-wing phenomenon with a shaky grasp of history, a strain of intolerance and xenophobia, a paranoia about Barack Obama, and an unhealthy reverence for Fox News. Any movement that doesn't firmly exclude Birchers, birthers, and Islamaphobes is not a movement for me.

Here's my second impression of the tea party movement: We are lucky to have it.

That's because the tea partiers, who may not all agree on gay marriage or birthright citizenship, are united behind a couple of sound goals: curtailing the cost of government and refusing to live at the expense of future generations. Those are goals that, for eight years, had many rhetorical supporters in Washington, but few authentic champions.

Blame that on George W. Bush, who arrived billing himself as a compassionate conservative, a description that was accurate except for the adjective and the noun. Whatever his ideology, his policy was to expand federal spending at a rate unseen since President Lyndon Johnson, the architect of the Great Society."

Well said.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Brighter Days For the Kids

Matt Ridley: "...The truth is that all my life I have been told that the future is bleak. Population, famine, cancer, viruses, climate change, desertification, falling sperm counts, acid rain – I’ve lost count of the reasons they give. Yet all my life, the health and wealth of people keeps on getting better. People live 30% longer than they did when I was born, on average all around the world. Child mortality is down by two-thirds, globally. People earn three times as much money as they did in the 1950s, corrected for inflation.

The world is also cleverer (IQ scores have risen), more equal (the `Gini coefficient’ has fallen), nicer (charitable giving is up, violence is down), freer (autocrats have fallen), and even happier (yes, the statistics do show that happiness increases – a bit – when people get richer. The Thames is cleaner. Deaths from weather-related diseases are at record lows (yes – despite Pakistan). The quantity of oil spilled in the ocean has fallen by 90% since the 1970s (yes – despite BP).

Horrible things will still happen, but inch by inch, people will raise their living standards in this century. There is a lot to look forward to. Don’t let anybody tell your children otherwise''"

The Rational Optimist is a great blog, and this is yet another thoughtful piece from a may who remains optimistic in a climate of fear.

'Render Unto Caesar' Applies to Plebeians Only "Forty-one aides to President Obama owe $831,000 in back taxes.   Meanwhile, as noted earlier, unpaid taxes have risen 37 percent among Capitol Hill staff, to $9.3 million.  Taxes, it seems, are only for the little people, not their liberal overlords.  Even the Treasury secretary, who oversees the IRS, has cheated on his taxes."

Sitting on a window ledge on the 3rd floor of a hotel room on a navy base overlooking Lake Michigan, it took a second for this to properly register in my mind this morning. 

Here's my conclusion:
A. Criminals
B. The obvious point is that if we tried this as citizens, it would never fly. Ever.
C. Our leadership is completely inept at selecting its staff, why are we comfortable as a nation trusting them with our money?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

On Amtrak and Searches

"We've been doing random searches for years. None have been in response to particular threats. It's more to show force."

Nice perspective on things. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Clearing Customs

Here's an interesting read on returning to the US from China, and how Paul Karl played around with Customs by refusing to answer questions that did not require an answer, and maintaining his rights as a citizen. I enjoyed it, not a lot of commentary needed besides its worth reading the whole thing. 

Knife Tricks Blog:"“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.

“None of your business,” I said.

Her eyes widened in disbelief.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.

This did not go over well. She asked a series of questions, such as how long I had been in China, whether I was there on personal business or commercial business, etc. I stood silently. She said that her questions were mandated by Congress and that I should complain to Congress instead of refusing to cooperate with her.

She asked me to take one of my small bags off her counter. I complied.

She picked up the phone and told someone I “was refusing to cooperate at all.” This was incorrect. I had presented her with proof of citizenship (a U.S. passport) "

Decline in Illegal Immigration

Pew Research Center: "The annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
This sharp decline has contributed to an overall reduction of 8% in the number of unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S.—to 11.1 million in March 2009 from a peak of 12 million in March 2007, according to the estimates. The decrease represents the first significant reversal in the growth of this population over the past two decades.
Mexico accounted for 60% of unauthorized immigrants in 2009, or 6.7 million people. Other Latin American nations accounted for 20% of the total, or 2.2 million people. South and East Asia accounted for 11% of the total, or 1.2 million people."

That old saw that says the immigrants have come here for the jobs apparently rings true, once the job market starts to dry up, so does the inflow of outside population.

Before we get to excited and try to keep this trend up, lets remember in 15 years, we'l be begging people to come work in the US, as our existing workforce ages and disintegrates. 

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Fury Over the Future

Cafe Hayek: "Tea Partiers aren’t upset because Obamacare hasn’t worked its miracles yet; they’re upset because they believe that Obamacare will create inordinately burdensome costs and other ills in thefuture.  Stimulus opponents aren’t up-in-arms because the economy isn’t “all better” already; they’re up-in-arms because they worry about the high debt burden and inflation that today’s stimulus makes more likely tomorrow.  Conservatives and libertarians don’t object to the Wall Street and Detroit bailouts so much because these actions cost money now; they object chiefly because they know that these actions will encourage large firms to behave more recklessly in the future."

Well said. 

For the Record

It annoys me that the first topic in my Buisness Principles textbook is Not-For-Profit organizations. 

Thank you, that is all. 

Friday, September 03, 2010

Spawned by Fear

After reading the manifesto by James Lee, the man responsible for attacking the Discovery Channel's headquarters and holding some folks hostage before being eliminated, I can come to a few different conclusions. But the one I want to look at the hardest is this:

Perhaps James Lee was not remotely crazy, insane, demented, schitzofrentic, or in any way mentally deficient.
Perhaps the sole ailment that plauged James Lee was a naive trust in the wrong sources.
Perhaps James Lee is the logical production model of the State of Fear in which we now live. This is an American watching the news, unarmed with discernment, armored with blind trust, and laid naked before the hubris and hyperbole of deceptively cruel reporters, pundits and B-roll footage.
Environmental disasters assail, man does naught but evil, anchor babies, and an unquenchable loathing for humanity. These are not anti-logical conclusions reached from the news cycle that has developed.

An example:
11. You're also going to find solutions for unemployment and housing. All these unemployed people makes me think the US is headed toward more war.
Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what's left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture.
For every human born, ACRES of wildlife forests must be turned into farmland in order to feed that new addition over the course of 60 to 100 YEARS of that new human's lifespan! THIS IS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE FOREST CREATURES!!!! All human procreation and farming must cease!

In fact, it is but a logical outcome of two convergent philosophies. First, the scientific philosophy of Darwin, one that claims to demonstrate that man is little but the product of random accidents and has no place in nature aside from that carved out by the process of cross-species evolution.
Secondly, the personal philosophy that man is nothing more then a parasite on earth. This thought is the result of elevating nature, and the earth, into a position higher then mankind, and vastly superior to the individual. The earth was here before us, and will out last us, man is but a temporary creature momentarily sitting upon the pinnacle of evolution.

That we have only seen one James Lee is a mark of the tenacity of man, the ferocity in the face of waves of propaganda preaching that man has no place in this world. We possess by the hands of a creator the innate right to be upon this planet, and to survive and thrive, and it is when a firm grip upon this reality is lost that serious problems break upon the surface.