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Posted at 9:16 AM ET, 12/12/2010

Tax cut strategies: the untold story

By Joel Achenbach

My theory (closed course, professional driver) is that the Democrats who are howling at President Obama for his alleged capitulation to the GOP on taxes are actually participants in a secret master plan hatched in the White House to boost Obama's 2012 chances. This is actually more of a hypothesis than a theory. Or maybe just a conjecture. Or whatever's one step downward in credibility from a conjecture. Something I thought of in the shower.

Let's review what happened. The House passed a tax cut extension for "the middle class" only. Truly rich folks would see their taxes go up Jan. 1 as the Bush tax cuts expired. The Senate couldn't pass that, nor even a bill that extended tax breaks for incomes up to a million dollars. So Obama, behind closed doors, cut a deal with the GOP in which they got an extension on the Bush tax cuts in exchange for a surprisingly large package of goodies that Democrats want. Obama said this is the best deal he could possibly get and that now was the time to strike given the wave of Republicans about to hit town.

Liberal Dems are furious, though. The president never threw a punch. Even those who support the deal wonder if he should have done a little more political brawling. He could have said, "Hey, I'm ready to sign an extension of the tax cuts for 98 percent of the population, right now, at this desk, here with this pen I've waving in my hand. Where's the bill?" (Drums fingers on desk theatrically.) The GOP would have had to say, at some point, no, we're holding this up because we want people who are multi-millionaires to have lower taxes. We have this No Billionaire Left Behind policy as our core value. And so on.

But, no, Obama goes Full Technocrat and cuts the deal, and there's just no FUN in it, no brawlin' and fussin'. The thinking is, come on, this is a big issue, this is at the core of Democratic ideology the last ten years; you gotta throw someone in a headlock.

But there are deeper strategies in the mix. What Obama really needs, the White House strategists surely think, is to win back the independents who put him over the top in 2008. And to do that, what he needs even more than a fight with the right is a fight with the left.

In fact, he needs the left to attack him as vociferously as possible, to establish his street cred with moderates. And now what I'm thinking is: the left is on the game. Or maybe some folks on the left, who are like double-agents. Obama called some of them and said, "Hit me hard, with all you've got, and in the next budget you'll get that new post office you've been wanting." Or whatever presidents do and say when they're cutting deals. "We'll build you that new, $100 million nature center, even though your district is technically in midtown Manhattan." And so on.

Of course, if you get too complicated in your strategy, you can face unintended consequences. The real danger of the Democratic rebellion is that the Republicans will have time to examine the tax deal more closely and realize it blows another $900 billion in the deficit and will stimulate the economy just in time for the 2012 elections, ensuring Obama gets a second term.

Then there's the theory that the GOP wants the deficit to explode so that there really will be a major debt crisis, bond crisis, long term interest rate debacle, interest on the debt jumping to a trillion a year, so that there's no choice but to essentially abolish the government altogether and end all this liberal nonsense like Medicare and student loans and free school lunches and subsidized solar panels all the other stuff that has made us soft as a nation.

The key point is that nothing is ever as it seems, and if you momentarily think you understand what's going on, check to make sure you still have your wallet.

By Joel Achenbach  | December 12, 2010; 9:16 AM ET
 
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Comments

The O man plays the long game. So you may be on to something here Joel.

Snow, freezing rain, high-velocity-ice-pellets-with-a liquid-center (there is probably an inuktituk word for that), rain and more freezing rain has been today's weather until now. The roof hasn't collapsed yet but it's not out of the card.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 12, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If it does, Shriek, does that mean you and the family (including the VLP) will have to move to Ford Field and, well, play there???

Posted by: ftb3 | December 12, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Joel, please. There's a football game on. Have a little consideration. I'm not prepared to use my left brain until tomorrow morning, at the earliest.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 12, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the other night at my wife's office Xmas party, we came away with not one but two bottles of Bailey's Irish Cream. Of which I am diligently working my way through my second glass. (Meatloaf's in the oven; I can kill as many brain cells as I want.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 12, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what to think. I don't like tax cuts for millionaires, or estate tax give-aways, but I definitely want to see unemployment benefits extended and the payroll tax cut, etc. I hope the Democrats don't screw this up.

There was an article in the WaPo about what living on $250K means. I get it, I don't count those folks among the super-rich, but still, that's a lot more than I ever dreamed of making. Here's an article that's more up my alley:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw/2013570046_pacificpsuetruman12.html

Posted by: seasea1 | December 12, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Wouldja like a nice glass of Bailey's, seasea?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 12, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Most Moderates I know believe in Low Spending and Progressive taxation. Perot, despite being nuts, got 20% of the vote on the issue of the Deficit. This Bill is the worst of both worlds, High spending and Low taxes. It will require an increase to the debt ceiling and is a horrible plan.

Posted by: AndyZ1 | December 12, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Congress was going to have to raise the debt ceiling anyway, and the alternative here would seem to have been higher payroll taxes for all and an end to unemployment benefits. That sounds a little more horrible than the plan.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 12, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

[Redacted] [Unprintable] [Censored] {Bowledlerized] [Won't pass the filter] [Obscenity] [Unpleasantry] [Improper word, both grammatically and in several other ways] [Redacted] [*&%$#@&^%] [Digestive noise] [Unfortunate reference to parentage] [Very rude verb]

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 12, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

OMG!!!!!!!!

Be still my beating (throbbing) heart!

The Lions beat Green Bay!

*Wowie Zowie!*

Posted by: ftb3 | December 12, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I like the way you think, Joel. Hope you're right.

ftb, the Lions won! Yippee! Pats game should be interesting with all the snow. They usually play very well in snow.

I gave in today and bought a small (5 cubic feet) freezer. Every December I drive myself crazy trying to find room to freeze the cookies I bake. No more.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 12, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't think there's a grand strategy going on here as much as a bunch of little strategies that dovetail together in unexpected ways. In particular, I suspect many of the liberal democrats are, indeed, indulging in a bit of political street theater, but not necessarily for the benefit of Obama. I just think they are trying to persuade their own political bases that they didn't agree to this without a fight.

I don't see the strategy on the right as an attempt, really, to destroy the government as much as a more obvious political trade-off. It seems predicated on the assumption that protecting low taxes for wealthier Americans is more important than appeasing the deficit hawks. This, to me, suggests they fear the wrath of the wealthy far more than the wrath of those who fear the deficit.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 12, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Faxing unredacted comfort to Mudge. I saw the loss, muttered something inexorably redactable and then visited the euphemism. I feel much better now for the latter, but not the former (and still ecstatic over the Lions).

Posted by: ftb3 | December 12, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Miserable day here, raining and grey at some point temperatures are forecast to drop and the rain will switch to snow, which I hope happys, cold, rainy, Sunday in December = miserable children.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 12, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I thought Mudge dropped his bottle of Bailey's.

Posted by: nellie4 | December 12, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Eliminate the cigarette tax for registered Republicans so that Rep. John Boehner can chainsmoke himself into an early grave.

Posted by: gmatusk1 | December 12, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Why, yes, Mudge, a wee drop of Bailey's would hit the spot. Unless Nellie's right, and it hit the floor.

Posted by: seasea1 | December 12, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Kabuki is pretty straightforward. Congressional politics isn't.

We are getting windborne drizzle and showers of acorns. No prospect of real, useful precipitation, but a bad freeze is likely tomorrow night. The orchids and other potted stuff will come in and, wind permitting, frost cloth and blankets will go out.
_____________________________

Brian Vastag's fresh story on tree-killing invasive insects is good, but short.

We are facing tree calamity as native species are killed off by imported insects and disease, while non-native trees proliferate. Maryland could have a Great Paulownia Forest in a generation.

I don't know whether imported plants are much of a problem. I think the Dutch plant trade (bulbs, perennials, cut flowers, whatever) is pretty safe. We import penjing plants (bonsai) and orchids from places like Taiwan. The plants are supposed to be raised in super-clean greenhouses.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/12/AR2010121202126.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 12, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I also posit that Obama is taking the heat for making decisions that would have ultimately been made by Democratic congress critters which gives them cover to lambast his craven compromising when their own compromises would have had to have been even more, well, compromising.

By dealing with the devil he has neutered their litany of talking points (certain off the reservation teabaggers excluded) and given the left room to fume and pontificate. He is either the cleverest politician ever or the luckiest.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

You can call it a "game" if you wish. I didn't have much fun watching it.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 12, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I am a little confused, wouldn't this compromise be a good example of the bi-partisanship that people have been asking for?

Posted by: dmd3 | December 12, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Blizzard bowl is going on in Chi-town. It brings a tear to my eye. It could be Saskatchewan in October.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 12, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Aahhh, dmd, you don't understand the proper spirit of bipartisanship, as meant by most people. Bipartisanship should consist largely of "our" people getting "their" people to agree with what "we" want. It's so much nicer that way.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 12, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I got an open bottle of Bailey's in the fridge but I never seem to drink from it because it always feels like a special occasion, with 'special' meaning something more than a new episode of 'Glee'. However, it is the season finale of 'Amazing Race' tonight. Hmmm...

The bar at the theater for "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson" had a specialty cocktail called the Apple Jackson which was hard cider mixed with Jack Daniels. Since the show doesn't have an intermission, they put it in a souvenir sippy cup and let you take it to your seat. I really like the idea of alcoholic drinks with spill-proof lids.

I have some homemade apple brandy and half a bottle of Jack, so I may have to mix some up.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

A rather tongue and cheek article projecting what it will be like in my area in 2050, a good example of why people believe the population in this area consider themselves to live at the centre of the universe.

http://www.thestar.com/specialsections/article/894825--a-brave-new-world

Posted by: dmd3 | December 12, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I just hope that was really tongue in cheek - not that I don't wish the best for all Canadians ;-)

It seems that the Pats are adapting pretty well to the snow :-))))

Posted by: badsneakers | December 12, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

dmd,
I'm trying to find the implausible part.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I think it is Warner Wolf's old punchline, but

if you had Chicago and 32 at halftime..... YOU LOST!

Posted by: baldinho | December 12, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

A warning to Bears fans: I believe the last blizzard the Patriots played in was last October versus Tennessee. They won 59-0.

Posted by: baldinho | December 12, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Witch no.1 asked for 21st birthday for a restaurant treat, preferably South American. It's not happening in this weather. We'll have to do with some un-Godly combination; a quite muslim Moroccan chicken with turmeric and chick peas and a southern US mix of collard greens with smoked pork, onions and chicken broth.

If you hear of someone being stricken up there in the Northern Territories by a double thunderbolt it will be me.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 12, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

*faxing seasea a nice glass of Bailey's on the rocks*

What hit the floor were my tears.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 12, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Doing that kind of thinking in the shower usually results in running out of hot water at Chez Frostbitten.

CBS cut away from the Pats/Bears because it wasn't competitive enough for them. Royally irritated. It was fun watching the grounds crew keep the field playable. Word around here is that the Vikes couldn't play at The Bank (the Gophers new outdoor stadium) "because the U wants to be the only losing team there." I don't make 'em up, I just report 'em.

Super robotics tournament yesterday. The level of competition has risen dramatically since we hosted the first one 3 years ago. Glad the snow passed to our south. I'll accept cold (-11 when I got up this morning) over digging out of 2 feet of snow any day.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 12, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, dmdspouse was crying with you, really the place hold missed the ball!

Happy birthday to Witch No.1.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 12, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Just be aware, Joel, that there is a large reservoir of things you can get the general public to do for free, especially in the internet age.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 12, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, if it makes you feel better, you could be an honorary Pats fan for the day ;-)

Yes, happy birthday to Witch #1. Just postpone the dinner out 'til the weather clears. Always nice to stretch out the 'good' birthdays!

Posted by: badsneakers | December 12, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

badsneaks, the Pats seem to have caught a break elsewhere, too. The Pack comes to NE next week, and their QB got knocked out today.

I'll go off topic even more, but I just flipped around the dials and caught a celebrity interview/Entertainment Tonight type show. Back to back they interviewed Angelina Jolie and Cher.

Women, I am begging you, stay reasonably natural with your face. What you do is your own business, but getting surgery to the point that it looks like your face is made entirely of silly putty is NOT ATTRACTIVE. I'd rather see wrinkles than that. Every time.

Posted by: baldinho | December 12, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, y'all.

Congratulations, ftb & badsneakers on wins for your teams. Technically, the fat lady hasn't yet started singing down at Soldier Field, but she's got the fork poised over da Bears' collective behinds.

Brilliant minds think alike, Mr. A. A friend of mine was musing pretty much along the same lines earlier today.

Posted by: MsJS | December 12, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it, she mentioned she thought of the idea whilst in the shower this morning.

Posted by: MsJS | December 12, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to boodle hog and overlink for a while because a lot of people have already opined on this issue. First up is the dueling editorials from Friday's WaPo (yeah, I'm that far behind in reading the dead trees).

Robinson sighed and rolled his eyes:

"It pains me to write those words, because the agreement President Obama negotiated with Republicans on tax cuts is really quite awful. I know that some progressives have come to see the package as a cleverly disguised "second stimulus," but they're just rationalizing."

Among those who saw it at as a stealth stimulus package was Chuckie K who reached new levels of disingenuousness:

"Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 - and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. {snip} If Obama had asked for a second stimulus directly, he would have been laughed out of town. {snip again} despite a very weak post-election hand, Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years."

If both sides feel snookered, the deal must be fairer than either side claims.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

A lot of the debate over Obama's role in negotiating the deal direct with the Republicans has to do with trying to bypass the obstructionism that afflicted the health insurance reform debate.

Pearlstein singled a single Senator as being the problem:

"For my money, there's no better example of the failure of the Democratic leadership than the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus - and, in particular, his performance on the president's deficit-reduction commission. "

He ties this into the health care debate this way:

"Max wasted four crucial months that summer in seemingly endless discussions with two Republican members of his committee who never could say what they wanted, were never going to bring other votes and, in the end, could not withstand pressure from their caucus to vote yes. Significantly, it was during those four months of rope-a-dope that the bill's opponents were able to undermine public support enough that it took heroic efforts by the White House to push it to final Senate passage. "

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/09/AR2010120906436.html

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

yello, there are some imaginative thoughts about the whole bidness in the comments over at Jennifer Rubin's new blog.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/right-turn/2010/12/friday_question_tax_deal.html

I hate to admit it, but the blog has a bit of entertainment value. Not sure it's going to generate enough views to last very long, though.

Posted by: MsJS | December 12, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Dana Milbank essentially agrees with Pearlstein's theory:

"...Obama has learned the lessons of the health-care debate, when he acceded too easily to the wishes of Hill Democrats, allowing them to slow the legislation and engage in a protracted debate on the public option. Months of delay gave Republicans time to make their case against "socialism" and prevented action on more pressing issues, such as job creation. Democrats paid for that with 63 seats."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/10/AR2010121002298.html

This theory rankled Paul Krugman over at the Times:

"Um, that’s not what happened — and I followed the health care process closely. The debate over the public option wasn’t what slowed the legislation. What did it was the many months Obama waited while Max Baucus tried to get bipartisan support, only to see the Republicans keep moving the goalposts; only when the White House finally concluded that Republican “moderates” weren’t negotiating in good faith did the thing finally get moving.

"So look at how the Village constructs its mythology. The real story, of pretend moderates stalling action by pretending to be persuadable, has been rewritten as a story of how those DF hippies got in the way, until the centrists saved the day."

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/orwellian-centrism/

So we have three villains, Max Bacchus for being either a dupe or a patsy, liberals for being too intransigent, or moderates for negotiating in bad faith. For a bill that passed, there seems to be a lot of blame and bad blood going around.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Big story on Jerry Jones on 60 Minutes. Watch it for the schadenfreude.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

MsJS,

I really can't bear that Right Turn blog. She is both strident and glib. The other day she was advocating assassinations in Iran. Plus she has a couple of astoundingly obnoxious commenters that suck the air out of the room.

Note to self: Make sure to never plug the Achenblog over there unless we are ready to bunker up.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I blame Max Baucus too.

Who is Jerry Jones and what did he do? I don't watch 60 Minutes much as it is on when a Canadian series, Heartland, is. Heartland is set in Alberta and has horses and cowboys and romance, so you know which I pick.

Posted by: seasea1 | December 12, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Jerry's face is as natural and as hideous as Cher's. Lookin good Jerry.

Posted by: baldinho | December 12, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

And Krugman is trying to start a rap-beef with WaPo columnists. Here he is insinuating that Broder is never right about anything.

"Uh-oh. David Broder says the tax deal marks the beginning of Obama’s recovery. The president is doomed."

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/the-doom-of-broder/?src=twrhp

Clearly unfair. Cohen and Kristol are each wrong far more often than Broder.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Who killed Pluto? Mike Brown did. And he's not sorry.

http://www.npr.org/2010/12/12/131932177/killer-confesses-to-pluto-s-murder-in-tell-all-book

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

So pretty outside, the rain gave way to wet snow, a light dusting that is clinging to every surface, temps have dropped and the wind is starting, most of the snow will be gone from the branches in the morning but so enjoyable right now.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 12, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, now I feel a little bit better. Not a lot, but a little. That McCoy is something.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 12, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

A bit of surfing, Friday, in Palm Beach, in front of The Breakers. This is not an easy place to find a parking spot. I would not book a room at the hotel expecting to see such nice waves--surf is usually blocked by the Bahamas.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpjWamHbMU4

via James Wieland
http://www2.wptv.com/subindex/sports/recreation_sports/surf

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 12, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

A busy, busy, busy - and reasonably productive - weekend. Sadly, predicted the end of that Washington game to my brothers (anyone remember the end of regulation at the end of the NO/Washington game last year?).

This Philly/Dallas game's a close one, too. Good stuff.

On Kit for a moment, it's easy to suggest that a deal no one likes is a fair one, but I don't know if that's the case here. I agree with those that suggest the President's challenges aren't so much decisions he's making, but with how he and his Administration are communicating them.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | December 12, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I'm so happy you got your pretty snow. Being pretty much a child, I always get excited by snowfalls (as some Boodlers will know from my emails Re: Snowing!). At my age I should be eyeing Sun Valley or South Florida, but then I'd miss my favourite season.

Posted by: Yoki | December 13, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Joel,

I'm not hatin' on Obama, or the congressional Dems, I'm just not voting for 'em any more - which isn't to say I'm not voting at all.

Posted by: pagun | December 13, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

Well, there's a lot to be said for not voting if you don't have any preferences. It's all gonna work out somehow whether you vote or not.

(It's also easier to game the system when there's less inertia.)

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 2:45 AM | Report abuse

I just heard on NPR that Rick Santorum is considering to run for president and the question was whether he would be able to defeat S. Palin. Well, with these prospects I count my blessings and take Obama any time, so-called compromises and all. It could be worse.

Off to face a frigid day and some minor snow shovelling.

Posted by: gmbka | December 13, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

SNOW!!!!!!!!!! *shifting into full panic mode*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 6:14 AM | Report abuse

So who ya gonna vote for, pagun? Who's still standing?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 6:16 AM | Report abuse

Dan Savage has made it impossible for me to read any story about Rick Santorum with a straight face:*

Santorum To Test Waters For Presidential Run
Santorum "Getting Feelers" On Presidential Run (ewww!)
Santorum Waiting On Palin
Santorum calls Wikileaks founder a terrorist

*actual GoogleNews search results picked for maximum double entendre value.

If I were Santorum, I would try to avoid leaks altogether.


Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Snow! It's much better than freezing rain.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 13, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Finally a year end list I like, the most irritating people of 2010, no surprise who #1 is.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/television/john-doyle/the-most-irritating-people-of-2010-tv-related/article1833473/

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all, hi Cassandra! Hope you're feeling well this morning.

A little snow on roofs and in flowerbeds here, just enough to notice. It's cold enough that Mr. T put on a jacket and gloves, which means it's REALLY chilly around here!

I got an email in the night that a dear lady in my craft group at church is sinking fast. Praying hard for an easy passing for her. I am to go and stay with her this afternoon, we'll see.

Posted by: slyness | December 13, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

*quite belated congratulatory HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS to Cassandra and more HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS to slyness*

Perhaps it's all for the best that the hotel WiFi went on vacation just as I was about to post something about the Cardiac 'Skins with about 8 seconds left in the game. And even though I'm a diehard Pats fan, even I was shocked at their beatdown of da Bears. Not so shocked, tho, to see a Jets coach tripping a Dolphin player headed down the sideline. *eye roll*

MsJS was listening to her friend in the shower? What??? :-)

*continuing-the-never-ending-battle-for-truth-justice-and-a-reliable-WiFi-signal Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 13, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Funny, dmd.

The other day I asked myself a simple question. I found a void. Can't get an answer. Then again, I only looked for a little while.
Does Sarah Palin drink?

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 13, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I'd bet Coors, Jumper, and probably tequila for special occasions. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 13, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

dmd,
I had to look around the internet a little to discover that Grey Power isn't the militant arm of the AARP but rather a Canucki insurance company. If you think those commercials are irritating I've got a gecko and a preternaturally perky saleslady I'll trade you for them.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Velly velly eeeeeeeenteresting vacation opportunities next year:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/13/AR2010121301351.html

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 13, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Scotty,
That news is just a little too late for me. I just bought tickets to go see the Old Sod this summer where the only thing that glows is the pot of gold the leprechauns guard.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

With so many channels now, I get a lot of US commercials, I understand.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, you're the only person I know who would give that vacation destination even a moment's thought. Of course, for you it would be a legitimate business expense and so a write-off...

Am I the only person who is a bit irritated with that Dodge commercial that says, "America got two things right: cars and democracy." First, I've never been a fan of Detroit, so that first one's totally off the table for me. Second, I'm not crazy about ANYBODY usingt such blatant chauvinistic patriotism to sell a product. That's only one step away from "America got two things right: Beano, and democracy."

Not that I have anything against Beano.

Which brings us to today's Borowitz Report:

DECEMBER 13, 2010

Disaster-torn Haiti Braces for Palin

‘We Have Suffered Enough,’ Haitians Say

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI (The Borowitz Report) – Just when Haiti thought it had suffered every disaster imaginable, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin decided to visit.

In the disaster-torn nation’s capital, a leading government minister warned citizens to “prepare for the worst.”

“We have suffered earthquakes, flooding, and disease,” said Minister of Disaster Jean-Claude Mansaray. “But it remains to be seen whether we can withstand a disaster of Sarah Palin’s magnitude.”

Across Haiti, citizens prepared themselves for the possible devastation Palin might cause, especially to their language and syntax.

“We have seen what she has done to English, and fear that she could do the same to French,” Minister Mansaray said.

Upon her arrival, Gov. Palin seemed to get off on the wrong foot by repeatedly pronouncing the name of the country “Hades.”

Minister Mansaray said that he and his countrymen were fearing the worst, but hoping for the best: “Our only hope is that she does what she did in Alaska: leaves early."


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

YJ, been there, done that. Very pretty, lots to see, but eat well before you go.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 13, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Mudge. Frankly, if Palin were *really* interested in helping Haiti and its inhabitants, she would go there completely without any media, and especially a camera following her every move (which, with cholera, I understand is constant IYKWIM). May she be so blessed. Yanno. . . .

Posted by: ftb3 | December 13, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Off in slushy stuff. Take care all, with the pavement your wheels, and always, each other.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 13, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

If only there were a way to read the Borowitz Report every day without making some poor person cut and paste each and every article into the comments section of someone else's blog. Perhaps a method to allow people to go directly to The Borowitz Report website with just the click of a mouse. Or a service that would deliver it straight to your e-mail. Pshaw, I'm just dreaming.

But I am sure Andy is grateful for the load being taken off of his servers.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a car guy, but how is that Fiat buyout of Chrysler going?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Pot calls kettle black.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I think Joel is really onto something here. Of course, I read it while baking a last-minute cake at the end of a very busy weekend - probably the mental equivalent of "in the shower".

I envy those of you with snow. It is what passes for cold here (lows below 20 F) but dry as a bone, and looks to stay that way. I dread the fire season, which may be as early as January if this keeps up.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 13, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"Then there's the theory that the GOP wants the deficit to explode so that there really will be a major debt crisis, bond crisis, long term interest rate debacle, interest on the debt jumping to a trillion a year, so that there's no choice but to essentially abolish the government altogether and end all this liberal nonsense like Medicare and student loans and free school lunches and subsidized solar panels all the other stuff that has made us soft as a nation."

This is NOT a theory: Reagan articulated it and even gave it a name: Starve The Beast

Posted by: AMviennaVA | December 13, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

If only my LiT moments bordered on intelligent more frequently. More often than not they're along the lines of the pb jar. Like yesterday...assume Tarzan was a vegetarian before Jane came along. How'd the conversation go first time he swung into the house and saw her standing at the stove (?) searing a roast? Did he eventually become a carnivore, or did she become a vegan?

Mark Warner's editorial today sounds like it was written by someone who's practicing throwing hats around like playing cards into a trash can.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 13, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

You two... don't make me come back there.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 13, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm banananana bread, coffee and RRGJ on the table.

yello, your comment about Right Turn is precisely why it has entertainment value. Watching the main commenters suck the energy out of the thread can be quite comical. As for Ms. Rubin, she writes like a quad-shot espresso addict with a grudge the size of Montana. Despite her best efforts, very little about it can be taken seriously.

Yes, I'm strange. So sue me.

Mudge, at least the Dodge commercial stands out in your mind amidst the clutter of end-of-year sales event ads. These days, that's something.

Off to enjoy the day. Have fun!

Posted by: MsJS | December 13, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I am off to Christmas shop, to do those items I can't get online, time for me to rant about how little you can get online in Canada - retailers smarten up!

Very cold out now, especially after the balmy temps of the last few day, thankfully we have enough snow to make it pretty and easy to shovel.

As my mom always said at this time of year - behave, Santa is watching, I believe there are two boodlers with a couple of shiny new Kincaides on the line. :-) Or perhaps that is what Santa doles out instead of coal these days.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

But I don't WANT a Dodge commercial standing out in my mind. I have enough clutter and crap in there already. And I don't think irritation is an effective advertising technique, Madison Avenue's ideas to the contrary.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I hear that soon-to-be-Speaker Boehner was on 60 Minutes last night, and Leslie Stahl couldn't get him to stop crying.

This is my area, Leslie. Just put him in the "football hold", where his head rests in the crook of your arm, and he lies face down so his arms and legs dangle. It will naturally allow his abdomen to relax while supporting his head, and he will stop crying almost immediately.

Posted by: baldinho | December 13, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

seasea,
I was hoping one of the more football savvy boodlers would give you a straight answer. Jerry Jones is the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and easily the most annoying and obnoxious pro sports franchise owner alive (George Steinbrenner, rest his soul, retired the all-time award), which is quite an accomplishment given the competition.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Joel: "The key point is that nothing is ever as it seems, and if you momentarily think you understand what's going on, check to make sure you still have your wallet."

And which wallet would that be, Joel? The Bumblebee wallet, the Mama Bear wallet, or the Peacock wallet? Which ones of the three choices of electronic wallet would best serve your district's members of Congress?

http://eco.media.mit.edu/static/proverbialwallets/index.html

And...because it's Monday...or just because this is so visually interesting...

http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/12/02/5570025-chinese-worker-builds-egg-house-to-beat-high-cost-of-living

Posted by: laloomis | December 13, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, given you're not interested in their product (yet), ad recall is the first step to switching brands.

Maybe not you specifically, but somone like you will eventually buy a Dodge as a result of remembering that ad thru the clutter.

PaterJS was in advertising and I was one of his agency's lab rats for toys, breakfast cereals, etc. I was amazed how many brands I used as a young adult just because I got exposed to them as a child. Given one of that ad agency's biggest accounts was a cigarette company, it's a miracle I don't smoke.

Posted by: MsJS | December 13, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, those wallets ar for bubbleheads who don't realize there's a correlation between using a bank card and the bottom line of their financial picture. But since you've referenced them more than once now, which do you carry?

Posted by: LostInThought | December 13, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

MsJS, I actually already own a Dodge (Dakota pickup). I understand the concept of ad recall perfectly -- and am firmly agin it, as I am agin all attempts at branding and virtually all advertising tricks, gimics, ploys, tactics, etc. I am in particular a major foe of "branding" as a concept. I will grant a very small (very, very, very parsimonious) allowance for the need for some modest advertising, but I am a violent opponent of branding. We even have people in my own building who talk about "branding," and if any of them ever turns up deceased in a utility closet I'm probably gonna be on the short list of suspects. Mainly, it's a hughmongous fraud. Nobody buys brands. They buy the specific products. I could care less if my cookie of choice is a *&^%$ Nabisco or Kraft Foods cookie, or a Keebler brand cookie. I either like the cookie, or I don't. I either like the car, or I don't. I wouldn't buy a Ford, or a Chevy, or an MG, or a Toyota based upon which effing brand it is. I tend to buy brand X, I buy bulk, I buy generic, I buy what's on sale. I am about as anti-brand as I can be, by conviction. I don't watch movies because they are Pixar brand movies, I don't read Random House books, I don't wacth CBS television shows, I don't drink Coca-Cola brand products, I don't use Dell brand computers, I don't watch Sony monitors or TVs, I don't listen to Columbia records/DVDs. I have not one single article of clothing that has Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren's name on it. I wear Fruit of the Looms, because that's what my wife buys; I'd be perfectly happy with Vegetable of the Loom or Conifer of the Loom for all I care.

I have been known to be as fickle about my brand of beer as a 9th grade cheerleader with borderline personality disorder. I will eat in a mom-and-pop restaurant or diner at the drop of a hat in lieu of a chain.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

That is a cool little house. I wonder if the city fathers & mothers of Alexandria would mind if I plant one on Duke Street?

Posted by: bobsewell | December 13, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Conifer of the Looms sounds a little prickly.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 13, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but piney-fresh.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't know Mudge. Seems to me that sometimes brand does matter. A Bailey's Irish Cream is a world away from a rail, much as a Sonoma-Cutrer or a Stag's Leap are a world away from Boone's Farm. And all plastic wraps are not created equal.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 13, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Lit, those aren't "brands," in the usual sense; they are only the brand names of specific products. I love Oreo cookies, which are made by Nabisco. I don't love the brand (Nabisco); I only love the Oreos. Ditto Bailey's. I have no clue what brand Bailey's IC is. Don't care.

No, all plastic wraps are not equal, I quite agree. If the Saranwrap works, fine. If not, I could care less whose brand Saran happens to be. (And in actual fact, my wife bought some Saran(TM)-brand tupperware type containers a year or two ago, and I hate 'em--the lids won't stay on right. Don't know why, don't care that they are Saran brand. All I know is this particular product doesn't work and I don't like it. Their wrap is great; their container lids suck. )

I'm not saying specific products are good or bad; I'm saying the brand behind them doesn't matter to me at all.

A brand is different from a specific brand name. Nabisco and Kraft and Phillip Morris and GE are brands; Oreos and Mac-and-Cheese are product names. Them I like.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess Virginians will build bonfires tonight and dance around them singing "ding, dong the wicked healthcare's dead"

Looks like the Florida winter vegetables will be wiped out tonight. No frost--just plain freezing wind. Drought has already affected citrus. For the second year in a row, you can buy tangerine-sized oranges with exceptionally sweet juice. Cold will probably be damaging.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 13, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Completely, totally and utterly off topic-

http://pregnantchicken.squarespace.com/pregnant-chicken-blog/2010/12/10/awkward-pregnancy-photos.html

Mom with a melon is my fave!

Posted by: kguy1 | December 13, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Well, now, there you see? Turns out Bailey's is owned by Gilbey's which is owned by Diageo. You all know Diageo, right? So Bailey's is a Diageo brand booze. Do any of you care?

from wiki:

"Diageo plc ...is a global alcoholic beverages company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's largest producer of spirits and a major producer of beer and wine. Its brands include Smirnoff (the world's largest-selling vodka), Johnnie Walker (the world's largest-selling whisky), José Cuervo (the world's largest-selling tequila), Baileys (the world's largest-selling liqueur) and Guinness (the world's largest-selling stout). It also owns 34 per cent of Moët Hennessy, which owns brands including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Hennessy.

I had no idea. And it doesn't matter a whit.

Would you buy a bottle of Moet & Chandon because you knew it was made by the same brand that made Johnny Walker? Of what conceiveable relevance could that have?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Brands? It's weird going through Walmart and seeing all the zombie brands, though that seems to be ending in the TV area. Vizio rather than Sylvania or RCA or even Westinghouse.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 13, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Diageo always disturbs me slightly. I'm not concerned with their corporate practices, though I've read a couple of interesting articles about their fairly rapid multinational expansion. No, I'm just bothered by the number and arrangement of the vowels in the name Diageo. It just seems a little off.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 13, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

IM, there's no "You" in Diageo.

I never even heard of them until 10 minutes ago. So much for branding. (Actually, in this case, I think Diageo is pretty smart: they haven't spent one red cent on branding the Diageo name. Good for them.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Dotc, the fat lady has not sung yet. There is still hope.

Posted by: gmbka | December 13, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I'd argue Baileys is a brand, as it's different than an Emmitt's Irish Cream. Diageo is the parent company (don't they also own Bushmills?). Otherwise, Dodge isn't a brand, as their parent company is Chrysler, which is owned by Fiat. Or something like that.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 13, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

So much to comment on:

Jerry Jones: interesting that in the 60 Minutes interview he claimed to be responsible for all the players that won 3 Super Bowls in the 90s. Actually, that was Jimmy Johnson; Jerry forced him out because Jimmy was getting all the credit that Jimmy deserved, rather than Jerry getting the credit that Jimmy deserved.

And Jerry's been mentoring li'l Danny Snyder for the past few years. Need I say more?

Diageo - it appears that most if not all of the seats at FedEx Field are marked with "Diageo". It was easy to see that yesterday, what with so many of 'em being empty. Danny's been taking lessons from Jerry again and marketing anything.

Curmudgeon - any comments on http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/03/AR2010120304152.html from Sunday's WaPo Magazine? Basically, they sent a right-wing, evangelical Christian woman to cover the Jon Stewart rally with the HuffPo crowd. They did it to "even things out" after they sent a left-winger to cover the Glenn Beck rally - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/15/AR2010101505259.html

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 13, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Iritated enough by the "uncovered" BS about a compromise that provied a 100% uncompromised extension for tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy in the Washington Post, I also note the uncovered (other side of the coin) on the "death tax" in the Post today, here is what the CBO said in 2004:

Furthermore, supporters argue that many large fortunes do not represent taxed income or savings, that wealth is not being taxed but merely the transfer of that wealth, and that many large fortunes represent unrealized capital gains which (because of a step up in basis at the time of death) will never be taxed as capital gains under the federal income tax.

I am going nuts listening to the bogus arguments just drifting one after another into the Post.

I am not suggesting that the Washington Post is in any way like Fox where the funding lines are clear to the Kochs and others, but their impact on middle America can be similar, if the responsible discussion is ignored.

BTW, there are a number of very solid reasons to support and maintain current levels of the Unified Estate tax and give laws, considering all the exclusions.

If, for example, an organization or a spokesman for a lobbyist provides the Post a quote, it would be nice to see the Post provide a balancing statement, especially on something as generally accepted as true as the inheritance tax and rationale.

Again, revoking the current law really benefits the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans. Just so everyone knows, there is an exemption for family farms... There are exemptions to family businesses and the limits are high.

Why should 98% of America seem to be negotionating with 2% of America? It's not like the 98% are unreasonable. In these hard times, someone has to pay a portion of their income towards the wealth being of the nation. You can't both allow an accumulation of vast wealth in the hands of the very few (al a 1928 levels) and also cut their rates.

That would be a certain death penalty to our society. As most economists will tell you, lowering the tax rates on the wealthy is actually a disincentive to making their money work--investment in new sectors where the return is higher. At lower tax rates, the wealthy just sock "it away" into low risk bonds.

So much for "agreements."

Posted by: russianthistle | December 13, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

SCC in advance-this comment includes too many exclamation points. But, gosh darn it, I'm excited.

Hello boodle! I'm against branding because I hate verbification of nouns generally.

The temp in Our Fair City has finally screamed up to 5F after starting at -21. My goal is to avoid going outside again until the city council meeting tonight. My last as mayor!

Stay safe and warm everybody.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 13, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, ArmyBrat, I pretty much stopped reading the Post, so missed that article. Just started reading it now, got 3-4 grafs into it, and nodded off. But suspect that concept of "evening" something out would raise my blood pressure 20 or so points. They didn't really use that "balance" argument, did they? How do we know the Beck Rally reporter was a lefty? If that's what they did in either case, they're idiots.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, use of "brand" as a verb goes back to the 1400's. It may be an abomination -- but it's a very *old* abomination.

Not unlike me.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

So I guess this means you won't be mayoring any more.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

rt,
I finally finished listening to "At Home" by Bill Bryson which is a far deeper and thought provoking book than I had signed on for. Towards the end of the book he details how the decline of agriculture in Britain and the increase in estate taxes led to the destruction of many large and significant 18th and 19th century manor homes as well as hastened the transfer of cultural artifacts from Europe to the robber barons of the Gilded Age.

It's really not exactly parallel to the current debate, but it's interesting that these issues have gone on much longer than I realized.

Another similarly topical issue with current analogs was the nature and type of poverty relief measures and whether they coddled the poor.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I understand that branding means nothing to you.

But it does to a lot of people. Some would rather buy a Honda built in the US rather than a Dodge built in Japan, simply because one's a Honda and one's a Dodge. (And yes, I think all of the patriotic Dodge commericals are dumb, too. Worse than "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.")

I know people with lots of money who wouldn't be seen personally driving anything that even remotely has a whiff of American. British, German, Italian, or (some) Japanese, sure. They're fine riding in the back of Lincoln Town Cars, though.

Would companies would spend so much time and money brand-building (or brand-buying) if there were not some measurable financial payoff? Marketing matters as much as product quality (think Pet Rock here). People learn to associate qualities or values with products - sometimes accurately, sometimes not - but perception matters, particualarly when companies are trying to separate people from their money. The more value people perceive folks have in what they're getting for their money, the more comfortable they are opening their wallets.

Make two pieces of jewelry at the same place, then sell one at Tiffany's and sell it at Zales, and I think people would probably value the one from Tiffany's more. 'tis branding, yah?

An educated consumer can tell the difference between good products and bad products, and cut right through the marketing hype. And sometimes we pay more because we're more comfortable - and happier - with the branding. Nothing wrong with that, IMO. Happiness and perceived value matters.

People can tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, can't they?

My $.02.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | December 13, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

fb,
Congrats on the successful ending of your mayorship. Hopefully your tenure will be remembered fondly.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

More astronomical crime and mayhem:

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/world/saturns-rings-may-be-cosmic-murder/story-e6freoox-1225969967833

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Just in from shopping where I encountered a most unusual sale, 2 for 1, quite common, but I was buying my husband a new winter overcoat, a lovely Italian one wool and cashmere, well a little cashmere. The very nice sales lady came up and explained that every item in the store was 2 for 1, I said but I am buying a coat - it includes them she said. So I got another coat, this time a nice winter jacket for dmdspouse to wear at hockey games and less dress occasions. The irony is I am always complain that he has too many coats, one for just about every two or three degree change in weather.

I am a sucker for branding, so I won't add much more to the discussion, but I will refuse to buy products if the commercials are annoying, case in point - Bud Light, crap beer, crap commercials.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Just got an hour of work done after our union's Christmas dinner at a local restaurant and now I am nodding off. The Comrades were in fine form, the white wine cold and the turkey was a passable bird. We are a better rabble of pinko socialist fiends, that's for sure. That's one use of my union dues I am perfectly OK with.

Back in the day young Eddy Bronfman sold his grand-dad's Seagram distilleries to Vivendi, which was acquired later by Diageo's fraudster Saunders. The kid wanted to be in the entertainment business so he bought out Universal, Deutch Grammophon and other stuff. Bad deal. They knew booze, they should have stayed in booze. So there is a bit of the old Seagram empire (Chivas Regal, Crown Royal,V.O., Martell, Absolut, Captain Morgan, perrier-Jouet, Mumm, etc) in Diageo.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 13, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

jkt, I appreciate your point there. We are and have been, for years, been cutting the tax rates on Capital Gains and Estate taxes. Basically, the gold at the end of the rainbow is the total elimination of the tex. We are moving towards that (Sadly). Each change will precipitate a resulting change in wealth management plans.

BTW, let me interject that we all tend to try to project our own personal planning onto the ultra-wealthy which is so far from the truth. In fact, the median net worth of a white American is at about $8,000. I think that the median of a Hispanic in America is at about $2,000 and for African Americans, it is close or even lower.

If you are running large family estates, great portions are already sheltered and planned. As Warren Buffet points out, he pays a lower marginal rate than his secretary.

That's why I posted my Monty Python clip of John Cleese where he has the diatribe about his block of flats with the "rotating Knives" ... You don't have a billion dollars in assets and make huge money mistakes. Things are sheltered. It isn't like we are sending the ultra rich into Rotating Knives. They are protected.

The other truth is that wealthy folks don't constantly turn over their assets and properties for business reasons, so, as a result, they can be holding assets for 40 or 50 years and, as I pointed out above, much of the wealth of the nation is represented by unrealized gains.

I am stunned when any educated person with any means feeds me that line, but finding it uncountered in the Washington Post just makes my skin crawl.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 13, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

ERROR, ERROR, median white net worth is about 68,000... not 8,000... missed a digit. Of course, that's with Real estate added in, so it ain't much. For minorities, it is less, as I pointed out.

A key point is that most Americans don't have much to fall back on if a problem arises. Much of our resources are illiquid.

Gotta Run!

Posted by: russianthistle | December 13, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

My estate plan is to make sure the last check bounces. It's a strategy that has been passed down to me by my parents who are currently spending my inheritance on a three week river cruise up the Amazon. And complaining of the heat.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

mudge-but wasn't branding in the 1400s the kind where you take a heated iron to a calf's behind? I have no trouble with that kind of branding,as a verb that is. It's taking the abstract idea of a brand, like Keebler, and turning that into a verb. I also hate incentivising.

It's an arbitrary thing to be sure, but most peeves are. It's just where I choose to direct energy that some people spend wondering about the divine.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 13, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon: here's the quote from this Sunday's article (midway down the second page in the on-line version):

"You might say I'm the antithesis to Bill Donahue, a Left Coast reporter from Oregon whom the Post Magazine assigned to follow a group of Tea Party supporters to the Beck rally. The Magazine then asked me, a former Washington Times religion editor, to do the same with Stewart's young, liberal followers. I'm curious to learn: What do these folks want? "

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 13, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

mudge and yello-I am done mayoring officially on Jan. 10th but tonight is the last regularly scheduled meeting. Hope I'll be remembered; fondly would be good too. May run for a higher office in MN at some point, but now I'm looking forward to being based in Tampa with Mr. f.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 13, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, AB. (What I mean is, thanks for that graf...but what a smoking gun. I'm just appalled.)

That's quite a stew you've made, bc. I don't disagree, entirely, but I need to break it all up:

"Would companies would spend so much time and money brand-building (or brand-buying) if there were not some measurable financial payoff?" Yes, sometimes they woulls. You sort of assume corporations have perfect knowledge, or at least don't make these kinds of mistakes. I would assert they DO make these kinds of mistakes, and quite frequently. To me, the root question, "would companies spend so much $ and effort if..." isn't proof of the cocept's validity. It just means (IMHO) they spent a lot of money foolishly.

"Marketing matters as much as product quality (think Pet Rock here)." No, I disagree. I think most sthings (products) have an intrinisc value and that most buyers perceive it. Your statement is one of exact euivalency: "marketing matters as much as..." I say, no, marketing doesn't matter quite as much as...etc. I'm not saying it means nothing; I'm saying I think it means less than you think it means.

"People learn to associate qualities or values with products - sometimes accurately, sometimes not -" Yes, exactly, but that "sometimes not" part of it wins my point, not yours, IMHO. It's the "sometimes not" I hold to, while you hold to the "sometimes do" part. I says these associations are often wrong or incorrect or unwarranted. Yes, I agree people learn them. No, I don't agree that's a good thing.

"...but perception matters," -- I've always argues against this idea as being too simplistic and too complicated to use too glibly.

"... particualarly when companies are trying to separate people from their money." Well, yes, agree entirely. But see, I think the notion of companies trying to separate people from their money isn't especially a good or desireable social end. I'm basically AGAINST companies trying to separate...etc. --at least absent some fair and equitable exchange of goods or services. I'm not saying I disagree with you that it happens; I'm saying that when it happens, it's often not a good thing. In fact, that it actually a "bad" (negative) act against the individual and society.

But see, my basic orientation is anti-company, anti-corporation, anti-big business. I think our difference is that I see you and MSJS as being basically pro-big business and pro-defenders of the corporate behavior and economic models. I don't think we disagree on what those models are or how they work; I just think we disagree on whether they are 'good" or "bad." I see them as being "bad" quite often.

It isn't that branding "means nothing" to me; it's that it means something "bad" to me.

I suspect we'd agree exactly on "perceptions" -- but I think you'd see them as either okay, or value neutral. I tend to see them as some combination of "unreliable," "delusional," "decptive," "manipulative," etc.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell ya, frosti -- if you want to run for Princess Sparkle Pony's seat, I promise to move to Minnesota and vote for ya! After all, I am fluent in Swedish, can read Swedish, Norwegian and Danish (and I can swear in Finnish, as well as the other three). If that doesn't get me into the state, I don't know what would.

And congrats for a fine, fine term. I just know it was. Boodlers do have special gifts (well, most of them/us do, anyway).

Weed, I'm with you on your rant. Mudge, as a trademark attorney, I'm not so much with you on yours, but I do understand your point.

Posted by: ftb3 | December 13, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat - I thought the article was cute.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 13, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Good tidings to you, then, frosti.

I am at sea about brands. I tend to trust longer-term brands over total unknowns, but I have been burned so often I just don't know anymore. Sony or Klystronic? (I made that up.) GE or Fubamatic? Flying Dog or J.K. Steele Malt Beverage? (Well, I know the answer to that one, at least.)

Enron? There's a brand.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 13, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Also: "Would companies would spend so much time and money brand-building (or brand-buying) if there were not some measurable financial payoff?"

Yes..but see, the payoff goes to THEM, not to me. It's not in MY best interest that they get a payoff from branding. I don't work for them, and I don't owe them one thin dime. Any payoff they get is probably going to be at my expense, and not to my benefit. To the extent that may be true, then that's the extent to which branding is harmful to me (as a general consumer). If branding "works," it doesn't work to my benefit, only theirs. And so I have no reason to support it. Unless I am a stockholder in that company (and I'm not), it does me no good (and takes money out of my wallet).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I am feeling old, middle child received a scrap book kit as a birthday present (quite early). Inside the kit was a camera, the cheap disposable ones. She brought it down to me quite confused, she had taken pictures and turned the dials but the pictures were not coming out of the camera. As a few minutes explaining how the camera works she walked off - I think this was the first time she had ever seen camera film. Not sure she has ever seen a camera that doesn't instantly display the imaged that was just shot!

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Aww, 'mudge... So you pay a little more for Oreos & Budweiser so that we can enjoy fine programming like Redskins football broadcasts & that Jersey Beach thing. What's not to like?

Posted by: bobsewell | December 13, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Speaking (although I shouldn't) of the Washington NFL franchise, this comment from Tracee Hamilton's chat this morning was amusing:

"As I watched the game on Sunday with my two young sons, I worried I might be arrested for child abuse by leaving the game on."

Posted by: bobsewell | December 13, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I thought that I wasn't ranting, but I guess it could be taken as such. I appreciate your support, very much so.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 13, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Sunshine Hydrox (Kelloggs) are not the same as Oreos. Crispness of cookie, ability to absorb milk, amount of black crumbs caught in teeth...not the same. But I don't watch much television, so I don't know if they use blatantly chauvinistic patriotism in their ad campaigns. But as brand names play a significant role in raising export numbers, is it really that bad? (See Iococca, Lee.)

Posted by: LostInThought | December 13, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I grew up eating Queen Anne's brand ketchup and other generic food atrocities, so I'm a little more brand aware than some. There are a couple of levels of branding:

Store branding vs. name branding. Name brands spend more on advertising and often have higher quality. I will NOT buy a ketchup which does not begin with 'H' (see childhood horror story above). The key is to know when the difference is important. And this is often a highly personal decision.

Brands connote certain types of qualities, this is particularly true for cars. Cadillac and Mercedes for luxury. Honda and Toyota for reliability. Pontiac and Dodge for performance. Hyundai and Chevrolet for value (read low price). Some of these reputations are earned, some are just noise. Still, they confer some baseline reputation.

I spent a half-hour the other night taking part in a phone survey about grocery stores and realized the distinctions were different than I thought they were. I go to some stores for certain types of goods and different stores for other types. Types of branding do make a difference.

Branding also differentiates between identical or nearly identical products. Sodas, beers, bathroom tissues. Here is where the psychologists earn their pay. Even if we say we aren't affected by the advertising, we are. To say brands don't matter is to fool yourself into thinking you are more impervious to human nature than you really are.

Corporate ownership may mask or enhance brands. The liquor business is highly consolidated, but you wouldn't know it from the variety of brands on the shelves. The old Beatrice was a smorgasbord of related products you would otherwise never affiliate together. Yum Foods caused a stir when they sponsored a bowl under their corporate name rather than any one individual line, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell.

Westinghouse, Zenith, RCA, etc. are electronics brands with little or no current association with their original companies. Yet the brand names carry a certain weight that names which sound like Korean vegetables don't.

Aren't professional football affiliations just branding. Why pick one over another? Shouldn't you just research who has the best team and support them. People don't switch team affiliations when their favorite player changes team. As a boodler recently quoted Seinfeld, you are cheering laundry.

And the press wants to know whose shirts Major Tom wears.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I used to think that everything from Beatrice Foods came from Nebraska.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 13, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

And consider this: the Kenmore brand (Sears) is really a Whirlpool wearing a different trade dress under a license. Knowing that Kenmore is really a Whirlpool means "good" to me (although knowing it's under the Sears umbrella does much the opposite).

The important two strands of trademark law is "goodwill" which accompanies the mark and "quality control". If the goods and/or services provided under the mark (brand) are lousy, the brand will also be lousy, and whatever customers they have will disappear (if they are not captive). Some companies don't care, but all of them should. In fact, if companies do not rigorously protect their marks/brands, courts will throw them out once they finally get around to it. The standard of protection is "eternal vigilance."

I think branding is really cool, if it's creative. I like brands that make me think, make me laugh, don't insult my gender (or anyone else's) or my intelligence, and are associated with products or services which are good. That will keep me coming back. Which is the point, you see.

I also take a good long look at Consumers Reports.

Posted by: ftb3 | December 13, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

As for trucks, Dodge competes against the Ford F150 (the most popular vehicle in America, depending on your definitions), the Toyota Tundra, and the Chevy/GMC {whatever Chevy and GMC sell, did I mention I'm not a car guy?}. Most truck ads emphasize their ruggedness and, indirectly, the machismo of their owners. I can see where a company which had been sold by a German company to an Italian company would have some flag waving and chest thumping to do to overcome some deepseated anxieties.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Recently, Chrysler was building a minivan labeled as a Volkswagen. I drive a Pontiac that's really a Toyota made by UAW labor.

GM kept the GMC brand because GMC customers are different from Chevrolet truck customers. Really.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 13, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

But who is that says "branding works"? That branding is effectivem, and your giant national or multinational company needs to spend a ciouple million doing it? Branding experts, that's who. It's like asking a witch doctor if voodoo dolls are effective, and how much should my company spend manipulating perception and pain management.

If Lockheed spends $20 million on branding, how do I benefit? Do I get to decide which kinda jet I ride on to Cancun? Do I get to differentiate their wonderful products from Boeing's? And then if Boeing spends $40 million out-branding Lockheed, that's now $60 million two giant corporations have spent, all on mental m@sturb@tion.

The sports analogy is absurd. It fails to recognize utterly why people pick the teams they do, and show complete lack of understanding of what a "fan" is.

Sure, branding differentiates between two identical or nearly identical products...but why bother? What's the point of spending money to differentiate things that are similar? How do I, John Q. Consumer, benefit from that activity? The answer is, I don't. It may benefit Westinghouse to perpetuate the fiction that its Widget 9000 is different from (and BETTER than) GE's Wackamatic XK400 -- but that doesn't benefit ME. It simply throws up a couple more pounds of bull---- that I as a consumer have to wade through to get at the truth.

C'mon, people, think. All the things you are saying about branding existed exactly as you say -- twenty years before branding existed! Are you telling me people didn't know which department stores were better than others back in 1950? If so, you're out of your minds, and you're buying into the traps. In 1950, every Harriet Homemaker knew the difference between Macy's, Wanamaker's, Gimbels, Lit Brothers, and Sears. It didn't take $100 million of branding to tell people that. And it doesn't take a zillion dollars today to figure out the difference between Food Lion, Safeway, Giant, and Whole Foods. There isn't a sentient shopper alive who can't figure that out on her own or his own, thank you very much. If you need some branding expert to fill you on those differences, because you were unable to figure it out for yourselves after a few trips to each one, then you deserve to be in assisted living, not out roaming the streets.

The branding helps Food Lion and Giant, but it doesn't help YOU. It's just a couple hundred million they spend edging each other out for market share in a zero-sum game. But it's not MY game, and I'm not a player. it's just ME who is helping to pay for it.

Every new technique that comes down the pike isn't necessarily a good thing. Sophisticated, high-tech, state-of-the-art snake oil is still snake oil, and voodoo is still voodoo.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Richard Holbrooke has died. What a career.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 13, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, mudge. You need a breather. Maybe relax with a refreshing VitaminWater or calm your nerves with some Ginko Biloba or Pom Wonderful.

Posted by: baldinho | December 13, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

And guess who is paying for all the voodoo: We do we do. I would not mind all the advertising if it contained any information, but it usually does not. The branding makes products just more expensive. The pharmaceutical industry spends more on ads than on research, and my uneducated guess is that companies in other fields do the same. So we pay more for less quality. And since most of us fall for the brands this strategy pays off. Whose fault is that?

Posted by: gmbka | December 13, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Fandom is the ultimate branding exercise. Sports teams are absolutely interchangeable and differentiated only by the most esoteric of intangibles.

There might have been some veneer of regional pride back when sports players were homegrown heroes. But now we have a system of athletic mercenaries who switch allegiances at the drop of a buck. What really changes when a Lebron James or a Donovan McNabb changes jerseys? How does last year's enemy become this year's hero or vice-versa? It's all branding.

The swag related to fandom, the jerseys and the posters and the car flags, are all totally interchangeable except for the colors and the patterns. You couldn't ask for a clearer double blind case of the power of marketing. Teams could totally switch sides at half time and nobody would notice or care as long as they were still cheering the randomly-named mascot they came to see.

In last night's 60 Minutes they pointed out that Jerry Jones bucked the NFL and started licensing his own America's Team paraphernalia which made him fantastically rich. If that isn't a miracle of branding, I don't know what is.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

// In 1950, every Harriet Homemaker knew the difference between Macy's, Wanamaker's, Gimbels, Lit Brothers, and Sears. It didn't take $100 million of branding to tell people that.//

Actually, while less money may have been spent on branding in the 50's, perhaps it was proportional to what's spent today. Radio and newspaper ads, then television. Life and other magazines.Think of the old cigarette ads, Breck girls, Clairol Haircolor, Wouldn't You Really Have a Buick?, TastyCake?

While Harriet may not have needed branding to know what she thought of the stores, as we don't always either, branding was there and being used.

Posted by: -dbG- | December 13, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt - Thanks for reminding me. A couple of weeks ago I borrowed one of my roommates' (never used) umbrellas, and just as I reached my office door a tricky gust of wind turned it inside out & bent one of the ribs. Since it was pristine before I got hold of it, and since I need one anyway (the damaged one will serve my needs just fine) I feel obligated to replace theirs. It was an "official" Washington Capitals umbrella, which no doubt means I'll be paying more than an umbrella ought to cost. I'd better grab one before they win the Cup!

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

From wikipedia

1939–1950: "Twice as Much for a Nickel"
1950: "More Bounce to the Ounce"
1950–1957: "Any Weather is Pepsi Weather"
1957–1958: "Say Pepsi, Please"
1958–1961: "Be Sociable, Have a Pepsi"
1961-1963: "Now It's Pepsi for Those Who Think Young" (jingle sung by Joanie Sommers)

Posted by: -dbG- | December 13, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

And coke has had slogans since 1886.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola_slogans

I worked for The Hudson's Bay Company, which is closing in on 350 years in business, their point blanket has been a branded item almost as long.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Not to beat a dead horse, but check out the 'publicity' section.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimbels?wasRedirected=true

Gimbels was a national brand, deliberately, by the 30s at the latest.

I'd agree that we pay for branding and it's not always necessary. As a former corporate hack, I saw the branding changing yearly, wasting a lot of technical time as we changed web colors, logos, interfaces that had nothing to do with actual uptime.

However, branding has been around for longer than I have. Longer than anyone reading the Boodle.

Posted by: -dbG- | December 13, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

While looking for the aforementioned brolly, I ran across this (exhausting & possibly somewhat self-congratulatory) comment at emmegirlsblog.com:

- \|/ - \|/ - \|/ -
Congratulations to Emme and the rest of the new 2010 -2011 Washington Capital Red Rockers! After three challenging days of tryouts that included, physical fitness, personal interviews and dancing the Capitals have crowned DC’s Darlings! This is Emme’s third season as a Red Rocker. Emme is the CEO of EmmeGirls Elite Model staffing, Bella Vita Reality TV Star, the Senior Editor at Social Networks Manager and a professional ice skater, trainer at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
- /|\ - /|\ - /|\ -

Say what you will about ol' Emme, that's a busy gal!

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I love advertising history & trivia as much as the next guy, but even documented historical evidence of advertisements for arrow-points and mastodon steaks would have no bearing on Mudge's more general point that resources expended on brand-building are not performing a societally useful function.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Branding: New Coke.

Who benefits from branding? Clearly, as Mudge says, the idea is the corporate bottom line benefits. [New Coke.] However, the marketing line, which has some slight truth to it, is that the consumer benefits by the ability to rely on consistent quality, whatever it may constitute, of a particular brand. [New Coke.] Were it not for the bottom line, would corporations care? No. They'd pull the product, even though they hope you rely on the brand. [New Coke.] After all, if the consumer doesn't buy it (on several levels) the bottom line suffers and nobody benefits. [New Coke.]

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 13, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

bobsewell (from 4:14) - the article was cute; I liked it. But the point was that the WaPo openly acknowledged twice picking someone from the "other side" to cover a story, specifically to get the skeptic's view. It relates back to a discussion curmudgeon and I had several days ago.

(FWIW, I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear with my son, my oldest daughter and four of her friends. In other words, me and six college students. A fun time had by all, but then we were close enough to the stage to both see and hear. The Peace/Crazy/Love Train bit was one of the funniest routines I've seen in years. But it was just that, a fun time, without a lot of political significance, at least to any of us.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 13, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

For those of us in the private sector, a successful branding keeps us employed.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

While I'm not entirely convinced that Mudge's condemnation of the entire process is warranted, I'd have to think that any consumer benefits [from] the ability to rely on consistent quality are entirely unrelated to marketing.

If you want to sell a consistently high-quality product, do so. Go forth & prosper. The ability of the marketplace to differentiate between crap & Shinola is seldom based upon information gleaned from promotional materials.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Does Macy's tell Gimbels?

Here is my slideshow version of the Macy's window displays about the 'Yes, Virginia' letter:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/sets/72157625594401750/show/

There is some very subtle branding in it if you look close enough.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't know that "branding" repays what seems to be heavy advertising and image-building effort, but some brands do seem meaningful:
BMW
any number of wildly expensive mens watches
some kinds of Scotch, Champagne, other luxury items
Jack Daniels
Honda
Subaru (recently)
Samsung (displacing Sony)
certainly Coke (Pepsi's looking wobbly)
Ritz-Carlton (I've never set foot in one)
Disney World
Apple
Williams-Sonoma seems to do OK.
Breville (Williams-Sonoma sells it)
Ikea. Sort of reverse snobbery.
Kitchenaid. Mixers, not dishwashers.
M&Ms
Hershey Kisses
Patagonia (as fashion, not necessarily as outdoor-recreation clothing).
Land O' Lakes
Jarlsberg (will the brand survive being made in USA and sold at Walmart?)

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 13, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I think some of you folks are confusing "branding," which I define basically as advertising the company and its overall image (Westinghouse) versus advertising (the Westinghouse G-19 dishwasher with X, Y, and Z features). I'm not talking at all about any given specific product; I'm only talking about efforts to convince people that the MANUFACTURER is important, not the product, i.e. Buy Kellogg's brand cereals versus buy Special K cereal.

dbG says Gimbels was a national brand since the 1930s-- yes, but that wasn't at issue. What was at issue there was whether people needed to be "told" about who Gimbels was, or did they already know whatever they needed to know. No one had trouble deciding between Gimbels and Sears in 1930, and they didn't need a branding expert to craft a branding campaign costing XYZ dollars.

dmd says the Hudson's Bay Company has been around for 350 years, which is also true, and also beside the point. What kind of branding did they do? What customers did they have, and did those customers need to be told the excellent qualities of the Hudson's Bay explorers, and how much better they were than the Chesapeake Bay explorers, or those Spanish maroons traipsing around looking for the Fountain of Youth? No, of course not.

dbG's Pepsi slogans aren't for Pepsi the brand, they are for the specific Pepsi drink, of which there was only one kind most of those years. They weren't "branding Pepsi the company, they were only advertising Pepsi the cola drink. Major difference.

I would make the general point that "branding" didn't exist as a discreet function until recently, when branding "experts" appeared and companies started spending large sums of money on it, as opposed to spending money on advertising specific products. Browxse through any business school curriculum from the 1960s, 70s, or maybe even 80s. If you see a class in branding I'd be vastly surprised. The word and concept didn't even exist when I was in school in the 1960s, and it wasn't in the curriculum when I took accounting and small business administration classes in 1983-4. It simply did not exist as an academic discipline, and corporations weren't spending money on it; how could they?

So it's not simply a question of semantics or terminology, or a different function under a different name. I'm saying that, first, "branding" is a relatively new phenomenon, and second, that it is largely juju and voodoo. I don't regard it as being very different from other trendy management mumbo-jumbo, such as MBO, Theory Z, or whatever your flavor-of-the-month at the Harvard Business School might be. It's like "the new math," and some other ideas that take hold, and then maybe (hopefully) fade away, or get improved upon.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

In tribute to Richard Holbrooke:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dccCasm6LVc

So it goes.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I remember the conversation well. I thought that 'mudge was slightly overstating his point that time, too. But he's, well, downright curmudgeonly when it comes to some of these issues!

Neither the Beck rally nor the Stewart/Colbert rally (nor any rallies, really) matter much except insofar as they actually spur behavioral changes. But having someone with a non-supportive mindset observe & report upon a slice of the scene was (in my opinion) worthwhile, even if not especially eye-opening.

:-D

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. Westinghouse is zombie. The old company was broken up, and a "brand management" company was set up to license the familiar name.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 13, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of "branding", Harvard has been at it for quite a while. Since long before there was a Harvard Business School.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Branding in this neck of the woods translates to the impression one makes on cattle.

And this practice goes back centuries.

And the concept of branding is quite old. Think of maker's marks (I am NOT referring to the Kentucky bourbon of the same name, though it's not far from my mind thanks to our years near Louisville). The world of jewelry is just one example. Hallmark is just another term for the old branding process or use of a maker's mark (and I'm not referring to the greeting card company in Kansas City).

Some of you may want to check your history books...

Posted by: laloomis | December 13, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Tiffanys, the fuss if they altered the shade of blue on their box.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

This GE commercial from 1979 emphasizes the company and not any particular product:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jVnmwUkIsI

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

The sound quality is better in this 1982 version on the same theme:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3PXucLotXk&NR=1

And I love the size of the camcorder.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), the concept of brand management began in the 1930s at Procter and Gamble, presumably long after they came up with that ill-advised Satanic corporate logo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_H._McElroy#The_McElroy_Memo

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Wikipedia does fine work, but the concept is (of course) immeasurably older. How long have vendors toadied up to be the official snuff-provider to the royal family, or some such?

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

This was one of Hudson Bay's better branding ideas, from their olympic commercials, subtle logos, blankets throughout the commercial. The gear they designed for the games, played not only on their brand, but on the Canada brand, and combined was a huge part of their success, huge sales. Did not save the world but as a very large employer here, helped many.

This might not be the best example as the HBC, were a big part of our history and development as a country far beyond just as retailers, particularly in the west.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLsFkZKj63U

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

dmd,
That commercial makes me proud to be 1/16th Canadian.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 13, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Sure, Dave-- but didn't all those very same brands have EXACTLY the same customer recognition 30 years ago, before any of them spent a dime on "branding"? Every 7-year-old in the country had everything he/she ever needed to know about Disney back in 1958. They had cartoons, they had movies, they had a theme park, and they made money by the ton-- all without somebody spending a dime on telling us about the high quality of the Disney brand.

People in 1929 didn't already know "the Ritz" meant a top-of-the-line hotel? Really? Because when Irving Berlin wrote the song, he was tapping into common knowledghe so widespread that everyone knew instantly what the song meant. Amount of money spent "branding" the Ritz name: zero.

M&Ms is a product, not a brand. Mars is the brand. Do you care who makes M&Ms? No. And you don't need anyone to tell you that Mars is a superior brand to Brach's or American Licorice Company. You don't need anyone to explain to you how M&Ms are different from, say, Mounds.

Jack Daniels is a product (brand name), not a brand. The brand is Brown-Foreman Corp. Did you know or care? Money spent spreading the name of Brown-Foreman is the kind of "branding" I'm talking about. Describing Jack Daniels isn't branding, it is advertising, or if you prefer, "marketing." Or in plain English (which is even better) it is simply "sales" and/or salesmanship. You don't walk into a bar and ask the bartender to serve you a Brown-Foreman product. But it isn't branding.

Hersey's Kisses are a product; Hershey's is the general brand. Have you ever shopped for a Hershey product? I never have. But I've bought Hershey bars for a thousand years. I could care less about Hershey the company.

Yes, a few things like Apple and many kinds of clothing are brand-identified, rather than a specific product. I am an Apple fan myself, so yes, I buy into the Apple "brand" idea. Its opposite is also a brand, Microsoft. Yes, I love one and despise the other. But I would assert that these two brands are an exception, rather than the rule.

Cars are problematic. Yes, sometimes people buy the :"brand," and sometimes they buy the specific model or type. I would assert that no one EVER in the history of the world bought a Corvette because they like the Chevrolet brand, or bought a classi T-Bird because they craved Henry Ford's favor. I would assert people bought those two models specifically because they liked (loved) that specific car. But otherwise yes, there are Ford people and Chevy people and Mercedes people and Honda people. (I acknowledge being a Honda person, and my wife is a Toyota person.) I've owned five Hondas -- but my brand loyalty didn't stop me from buying that Dodge Dakota. So what was the point of Honda branding? Bottom line, it had no influence on my purchasing decision -- so what good was it?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

It was a great ad yello, not dissimilar to the Molson Canadian ads, they play up both the beer and the Canadian lifestyle.

In general I think the vast majority of branding and ads, are forgetable, but there are some that are done well, they are effective.

I still remember the "I would like to teach the world to sing" commercials that aired when I was a child, beyond promoting the brand/company - they brought to mind the need to get along, cooperation, peace - 30+ years later - I still think positively of the brand/company because of that commercial - others may disagree but to me it worked.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

I think there was a definite political message to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, a message in direct opposition to the Glenn Beck message, a message promoted by the simple fact of the Rally's existence: it is possible for diverse people who are associated by factors other than agreeing with one another politically, to gather together for reasons other than expressing rage, to share a good time by means other than spewing hate. Furthermore, it is possible to be politically aware and politically active without having preconceived solutions to all our political problems that we imagine are the only possible solutions.

Did the Rally promote a specific political cause? No, absolutely not. It promoted the idea that if you do choose to gather to promote a cause, you don't have to be crazy about it. To the extent that there was a cause at all, the cause was to treat other people with some decency, even if you disagree with them. Yes, sure, there were plenty of people at that rally who agree with me politically. There were also plenty of people who were way too far to the left for me to consider them credible voices, people with whom I profoundly disagree. I could still share the Mall with them, and smile and chat and have a good day. Were there people on the other side of me? Well, yeah, a few. I would say that to be as far to the right of me as there were people to the left of me, however, you'd have to be one of those people who attended Glenn Beck's rally. Those folks didn't show up for Jon and Steven.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 13, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

dmd - Did it work, though? Do you drink (or drink more) Coke because of that commercial? Or are they just venting their pent-up creative juices at our expense?

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Canadian history, oldest known birchbark canoe, found in England. 250 years old.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario/oldest-known-canadian-birchbark-canoe-found-in-shed-in-england/article1836383/

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Take a look at the enormous amount of marketing that Mars has lavished on M&Ms in recent years. Custom-printed ones. Custom color mixes. Theme-park stores in malls. It all seems to work.

Whichever big soap company bought Neutrogena glommed onto the name's reputation and now there's whole aisles lined with Neutrogena stuff. Definitely a brand that's undergone expansion.

Years ago, there was a wave of mergers in the food industry, culminating with seemingly everything in sight consolidated into Beatrice. There was huge spending on "We're Beatrice". Then just as suddenly, Beatrice was broken up. Would be neat if Bank of America did that. Sort of looks like Wells Fargo is keeping the Wachovia name in the East. That was once a very respected bank, less flashy than North Carolina National Bank, which became NCNB, which gobbled up and assumed the name of a bank in California.

"Jeep" is still supposedly a valuable name.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 13, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't drink a lot of pop Bob, limiting my carbonated beverages to beer, however when I do it is either Coke or Ginger All (Canada Dry), I do not dring generic just the brands.

As I said early in the day, branding when done well works for me, marketed well, and lives up to that marketing and I am sold.

We bought everyone Olympic wear for Christmas last year, this year a well known Computer company will be the beneficiary of their branding.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say there isn't a message to most rallies. They just don't accomplish much in and of themselves. The Selma-to-Montgomery marches, the March on Washington associated with the "I Have a Dream" speech, and the massive anti-war rallies didn't do anything in particular to address the problems they were intended to publicize. But they occasionally get balls rolling, and nearly always make for fun copy.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 13, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I am off to bed, but before I do I will venture out to see if I can spot any meteors, it is freezing here, and it might be too cloudy but will try.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/906132--toronto-in-perfect-place-for-meteor-light-show-tonight?bn=1

Posted by: dmd3 | December 13, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I understand dmd's point about that Coke ad, and yes, I agree it gave the company lots of warm, fuzzy feelings, and probably increased the sales of Coke -- but only of Coke. The company itself has some 400 different products under its umbrella beside Coke and the Coke variants (diet Coke, Cherry Coke, etc.). EDid that warm-and-fuzzy approval increase the sale of Tab? I'd bet anything it didn't. Sprite? Fruitopia? Minute Maid orang juice? Did anyone go out and decide to buy a case of desani water because they just loved all those Benetton-type kids on that hilltiop?

I'd probably agree that Coke ad did help the company penetrate a lot of foreign markets, so yes, to that extent its corporate branding effort paid off.

But then you get into a lot of truly silly stuff. Coke is the official soft drink of NASCAR. Now, really. Who gives a hairy rat's patoot that Lay's is the official potato chip of the PGA Tour? That PlayStation(TM) is the official game toy of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona? That Depends is the official adult urine containment garment of the Mummer's Parade? I mean, what is that nonsense all about? It's all branding, and it's all patent nonsense.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

rme.

And now, for something completely different. Wordpress has changed since I last used it, but here's an attempt somewhere on my re-learning curve--Callie.

http://labrescue.wordpress.com/

Posted by: -dbG- | December 13, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't think branding is inherently a drag on society. It is when brands are managed to a fare the well while quality and customer service languish that harm is perpetrated. Would a point blanket not made by (or perhaps for) HBC be as good? Perhaps, but you'd have to show me one because I am predisposed to trust the Bay on this item. I've spent the day a bit peeved with Quaker Oats-the nerve to demand a premium for the familiar logo and an ad campaign touting cholesterol lowering powers. I've used 3 different kinds of store brand, or little known, oatmeals in the past few months and all were superior to Quaker.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 13, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

SciTim,

Well stated, and it accomplished the purpose for which it was done and as you described. The energy in the city that day was huge.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 13, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about branding but I have been subjected to a relentless barrage of brand advertisement today. I went to a professional hockey game. The Ottawa Unelected Members of the Upper Chamber vs the Atlanta Garbage Persons. Apparently, paying the price of the tickets (we didn't, it was a perk), the $15 parking fee, the $14 burger&fries, the $7 Bloody Caesars (domestic beer was $6, I think) isn't enough. Every single electronic device, and there are lots of them, is blaring commercials at you. Blinking, moving, rolling, animating commercials as far as the eye can see. The boards are not big enough, guys rush to paper over new ads over the old ones between periods. My favourite: the blue lozenge pill ad on the board facing the visiting team bench got papered over with the name of a large lawyers firm. Free association anyone?
All went well, the Atlanta Refuse Collectors won. Spezza was both the hero of the Snoozing Members of Parliament and goat of the same. He scored a goal on a penalty shot and gave away the puck in his own zone in overtime. The Atlanta Binmens guy who picked up the loose puck made a killer shot that won the game. 31 minutes later, in a snow squall, we were home; I picked a genius parking spot totally by chance.
I'm so totally over branded stuff now.
This Atlanta Trasher guy with an unpronunsable name, number 33, is a definite keeper. What a hockey player. An American from Roseau (reed) MN but he can become a Canadian anytime he wishes.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 13, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

She's a beauty, dbG. Are you going to keep her, or too soon to tell?

All the advertising is lost on me. I buy generic everything, want a car that runs (have had good luck with Toyotas, but have no idea what their ads are). I made the mistake of buying a store-brand ketchup instead of Heinz, because it was so much cheaper - Mr seasea relegated it to the back shelf because he thinks Heinz is the best (I'm pre-disposed to Heinz because of my Pittsburgh roots, but I bet the other ketchup was a dollar less!).

My favorite ad is the one with the sock monkey - which I never really knew what it was it was selling. Also the Office Depot(?) Rubber Band Man ad - but it didn't make me go to that store.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc_O5CdS9cI
(it's for Office Max - case closed)

Posted by: seasea1 | December 13, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Roseau might as well be in Canada. It's closer to Winnipeg than Minneapolis.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 13, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, people, think.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 13, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Huh? Wha? You want us to what? When? Aw, come on dude, you can't be serious. (Did *not* see that one coming.) You know the type of people who hang out here. You want us to think?

Posted by: LostInThought | December 13, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, slyness. Too soon to tell.

She's good with both dogz but freaks Cutter out a little bit. I've had to fetch him in from the yard every night. I don't want him to spend the rest of his life uneasy in his own house. Time will tell.

Posted by: -dbG- | December 13, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

dbG-she's gorgeous!

Colbert just did a brief farewell to Ambassador Holbrooke, complete with his "On the Road Again" duet with Willie Nelson. Tragic loss.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 14, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Radical.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | December 14, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Now watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane.

But you are, Blanche.

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

branding. to wit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX-JOAG42k8&feature=related

there's nothing like a grateful dead show. ca. 70 or 71, the little slice when the band did an acoustic set, followed by electric. with the emphasis on electric.

Posted by: -jack- | December 14, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Loomis. Still sneering, but soliciting our attention. What is that about? I'm really curious about your, um, difficulty.

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

pu this in your pipe and smoke it. one of my students asked me how animals came to be. i've known about choanocytes forever. basic sponge anatomy. little did i reailse how important they were with respect to correlatins in DNA sequences in a multitude of animal phyla. now, i'm much better equipped to answer this question. the primary research follows:

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(10)01095-X

hey, yoki. the more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

Posted by: -jack- | December 14, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Ya, eh, Jack? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nEjLrb8q6E

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Also, must say, jack, that I love them there choanoflagellates.

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

They're so cute, the way they go flip flip flip

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 1:37 AM | Report abuse

I admit to living in several places where "branding" meant putting a permanent mark on an animal's hide. Which brings to mind the notion that animal breeds constitute something a bit like a consumer-products brand. Who wouldn't stop to admire a herd of Herefords (actually pretty rare-everyone crossbreeds these days. But it's worth having some purebreds around). Blue heelers. Quarter horses.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 14, 2010 2:57 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Speaking of brand names, I saw last night that A & P has filed for bankruptsy (sp). Founded in 1859 as The Great Atlantic and Pacific something or other. I haven't been in an A&P for years, mostly because the store had gone elsewhere years ago, but I still remember their 4 O'Clock Coffee Beans and their coffee mill, long before other grocery stores had them. There was an A&P within walking distance of my childhood home and I remember going with my mother to shop; we pulled our red wagon to bring the groceries home.

I think A&P Fruitcake was the only store bought fruitcake I ever ate, and I think my Dad poured whisky on it and let it settle in a week or two before serving it. My grandmother usually made one or two of her own great big ones to share at Christmas.

RIP Richard Holbrook. Many articles regarding his life in the news today.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 14, 2010 5:14 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Eight O'clock coffee, also Red Circle.

4 O'clocks were the flowers my mother wanted me to weed in her flower bed.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 14, 2010 5:18 AM | Report abuse

This picture was taken immediately over the Hershey Store in Times Square in which I have been many times to buy all varieties of Hershey products and Hershey branded merchandise. One of the tribulations of having raised a chocoholic.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/3073414794/in/set-72157610549555242/

And I have been meaning to get back to [Chocolate Manufacturer Brand]-World theme park in [Chocolate Manufacturer Brand], Pennsylvania for many years.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

dbG, Callie is so beautiful, good luck.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 14, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Uh, no, that dog don't hunt. You can't strip SS of funding and then expect shared sacrifice.
If there's to be talk of sacrifice, let's start in Washington - pay cuts and 100% tax on benefits for "the poeples representatives". Prove to me you're serous about the deficit, otherwise shut the heck up and do not claim to be on my side.

Obama won't be getting this vote back in 2012 - I don't expect he's capable of pulling a white rabbit out of a lump of coal.

Posted by: gonzo3d | December 14, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Anyone with some spare mojo there is a large group of people stranded on a highway near Sarnia, and area known for awful weather, it is so cold here, not a good situation

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario/snowstorm-strands-hundreds-on-highway-near-sarnia-ont/article1836551/

Posted by: dmd3 | December 14, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everyone! A cccold day in the Carolinas. The morning paper says that so far it's the coldest December on record and on track to stay that way. Yay for global warming!

Since I don't watch TV and don't read much in the way of advertisements, I don't have wisdom to share on branding. I buy what I like and what works for me. The sad thing is that doing so requires me to shop at Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market, Trader Joe's, and Costco. Such is life.

Posted by: slyness | December 14, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

As Glenn Beck says, "so much for Global Warming."

Posted by: russianthistle | December 14, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

The Minneapolis Moon Bounce Collapse disproved Global Warming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAyLX2hY7E0

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

VL, when I was a kid we always shopped at A & P, too, and I still remember the sight and smell of their Eight O'Clock coffee dispenser. You'd get an empty Eight O'Clock bag, hold it under the chute, and hit the button, and it would grind the coffee beans right then and there for you. What a great smell.

There were only two major competitors: Acme (which my grandmother always pronounced as three syllables, Ack-a-mee) and Penn Fruit. We lived "out in the country" (pre-suburbia), and the Penn Fruit in Willow Grove was eight miles away, while the A & P in Ambler was five miles away. You went shopping once a week, usually on Friday evening after dinner, or Saturday morning. (In Pennsylvania we had the "Blues Laws," so no stores were open on Sundays, except gas stations, which expanded themselves into little convenience stores that carried milk and bread and a few other emergency staples.) (Of course, we also had a mandatory bible reading AND the Lord's Prayer AND the Pledge of Allegience in school every morning; and this was a public school.)

Of course, back then there were many, many small mom-and-pop supermarkets not affiliated with any particular chain, which you don't see much any more. Like bookstores and hardware stores, the big chains drove the little indies out. Ah, the glories of Big Business and Adam Smith's Invisible Hand and the American Way: crushing the little guy and the mom-and-pops, overpowering the competition, and killing the small-town town centers everywhere. Thank you, thank you.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 14, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. My usual 15-20 minutes drive into the city turmned into a 50 minutes crawl this morning. Like people have never seen snow in their lives. *sigh*

dmd, Radio-canada interviewed a trucker stuck on the 402 near Sarnia this morning while I was coming to work. He was not amused. He has been parked there since 11am yesterday and he hasn't seen a cop, MTO or any other gunmint vehicle yet. The trucks are used as refuge by the people who ran out of gas in their cars. His food and water reserves are running low but he still had 15-20 hours of fuel left. That is a bad situation.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 14, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

A&P operates in the Merlin area as SuperFresh, an astoundingly generic name.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Mucho mojo to those stranded Canucki motorists. I always keep plenty of water in my car, but I doubt I could scrounge enough bagel crumbs from behind the seat cushions to sustain me too long.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, you're so cute when you get all 'Man of La Mancha as filmed by Frank Capra'on us.

LOLed at the idea you read my words through your preconcieved notion of me as a defender of big business and related economic policy. Did I say that? Really? More along the lines of saying I think I understand brand marketing at a high level. And I don't think I ever said it was infallible -- I gauge it more along the lines of baseball players: if you get a hit in one out of 3 at-bats, you're a great hitter.

At a high-philisophical level, I see big-business and ubiquitious marketing(branding or whatever) as a by-product of the Information Age. The more avenues and access we have to information, the more ways there are for companies to leverage them to reach back out to us for business or simply to make us predisposed to doing business with a given company by making us familar and comforable with them.

Manipulative? Hell, yes it is -- just as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, as "It's a Wonderful Life," Handel's "Messiah," or any other work of art tries to connect with you make you feel something. In that case, they're trying to make you feel like doing business with one company over others.

In previous eras, there were salesmen who tried to charm folks into buying things in neigborhood stores, on street corners, or door-to-door, or in travelling wagons (Personally, I could use a Medicine Show about now).

I'm not saying marketing is necessarily art, but of course similar methodologies are employed to reach people - potential customers - emotionally or intellectually.

Now, with economies of scale in communications and manufacturing and/or service delivery, we've created the conditions for big business/big marketing (and the attendant branding) right there along with (ahem) boons like Wikipedia, You Tube, Facebook and the NY Times online, right?

Wish I could go on - and be more coherent about it - but I have to scramble for a living.

I don't like most of it, but I think I get it. Something may only need to work on a very small percentage of millions or billions of people for some company somewhere to turn a profit.

Wish I had time to discuss more, but I THINK I've already spent far too much of my day on this.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | December 14, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. The Boy and I saw an absolutely stunning meteor last night. We were driving and it streaked across the sky right in front of us, then *poof* winked out. It was so large, and so bright, and seemed so close, that it was as if we could reach up and catch it. It was a lovely surprise benison from Nature and Space.

I am still envious of all this rain and snow inflicted on so many of you. We got nuthin'. The forecast says maybe rain for Friday but I'm afraid to hold my breath.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 14, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Sending that mojo to the stranded Canuckistanis.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 14, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Noel Kingsbury's "Hybrid: the history & science of plant breeding" goes into the business of naming varieties. Would you rather have a Jazz or Honey Crisp apple?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 14, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

'mudge, my folks shopped once a week on Friday nights after my mother got a job. They always paid cash, dontchaknow and Friday was payday; my brother and I waited at home to see what new food they would buy.

Ann Page. That was the name of the A&P brand of bakery goods and some canned goods, too.

We also had a small, local chain called Colonial Stores. And, yes, the corner drug store and across the street, near the bus stop was the neighborhood grocery store. When it went out of business it became the local beauty shop. We had two movie theatres within walking distance, those were the daze....

Posted by: VintageLady | December 14, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Homemade (and therefore unbranded) banananana bread, coffee (from beans roasted by a nearby mom-and-pop outfit and therefore barely branded) and RRGJ (squeezed by a big juice brand) on the table.

Mucho mojo being sent to motorists stuck in traffic and/or experiencing chillier-than-normal weather today. That includes TWC, where the high will be about 17 F/-8 C degrees. I'm gonna get all bundled up before heading out this afternoon.

Stay warm.

Posted by: MsJS | December 14, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

No, bc, I didn't mean to infer that you were a defender of Big Business, and if that was your take-away, I apologize. What yuou asked was, would businesses spend millions of dollars on a technique if it didn't work? To me this implies the belief that big business usually acts in a highly rational manner, and doesn't make major mistakes. I wasn't going after your beliefs; I was going after the generalized belief that big businesses act rationally and in their own best interest (which in my belief they do not; I believe they are every bit as irrational and trend-driven as us mere mortals down on street level). In other words, I was getting at the notion that big businesses spend lots of money on self-delusional and "trendy" things such as corporate branding.

Companies like Diageo and Brown-Forman don't spend anything on corporate branding, which I believe is smart; they understand there's no point to it. No one cares who they are or what they do, and it doesn't enhance their products. Yet other companies do spend lots of money on corporate branding, which I'm asserting is counterproductive and wasteful -- and driven by corporate ego, not rational bottom-line decision-making. GE does this all the time-- there are lots of ads that promote GE as a company, but don't name a specific product. There's a big GE ad I see on Sundays that shows them building locomotives. Are they trying to reach the aver5age man-in-the-street locomotive buyer? I haven't bought a big diesel locomtive in gee, I don't know how long. So what was the point of that ad? How much did it cost, and how do you measure its effectiveness? What did that $x-million ad buy get GE? How do they know? Was it worth it? Enter the voodoo. The corporate branding guy says, oh yes, we sure got our money's worth out of that ad. Well, show me how.

See, if we were talking about politics, you'd have no problem at all believing that government agencies as well as individual parties and campaigns blow millions of dollars away foolishly and pointlessly. You and I are both pre-disposed to believe it. But why are we pre-disposed to believe governments and politicians blow away millions-- but we are NOT likewise pre-disposed to believe businesses don't behave exactly the same? Why do we think businesses are intelligent and prudent and spend carefully and wisely, but government agencies do not? Rick Santorum may be about to spend a couple million bucks to discover he has no chance whatsoever of becoming president. Somebody explain to me what prudent business practice made Christine O'Donnell think she could be a senator? Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina each spent what? In excess of a hundred million each? And both of these women are touted as crasckerjack business execs. Right. There's your business acumen for you. Fiorina got her a$$ fired from HP, and she then spent $150 very large on a failed campaign. This is someone you want helping run the government?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 14, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"Berlusconi survives confidence vote" is on the front page above ---

"However, the Italian prime minister's but has been left with a razor-thin majority that will make it hard for him to govern effectively."

And I think there is a spelling error there. Shouldn't there be another "t"?

Posted by: nellie4 | December 14, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Thirteen.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Noted, Mudge, and apology accepted. I had some of that 4:12 yesterday and some of the other stuff stuck in my craw, but it's out now. Fuggetaboutit.

About GE - that branding stuff *does* work on me. For example, when I'm at the store and remember that I need lightbulbs, I'll reach for the yellow and white GE box before I even think about it. Don't even need a locomotive or a dishwasher to go with it.

Peace.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | December 14, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Branding - um, "Jack Daniels" is a brand. It's not just the one product (black-label, blended whiskey); there are a whole line of products, now including t-shirts.

Same with M&Ms. Mars invests heavily in that "brand" so that when they roll out "Dark Chocolate M&Ms" or "Peanut butter M&Ms" or "M&Ms with Purina dog chow and meow mix" you'll give them a try, because you know that brand.

Similarly with Hershey. Milton was a smart brander, from the chocolate bar that wouldn't melt in the desert to the "kiss" product line to the town to the school to the amusement park. (Shout out to the Milton Hershey School, which owns the candy company, the amusement park, and lots of other stuff. Three of my former neighbors live/go there now. Dad tried to kill Mom; she's in a vegetative state & he's in the slammer. The kids are well cared for by the school.)

curmudgeon, my big problem with your argument is that you think the brand knowledge/loyalty emerged full blown. HOW did people know that LL Bean sells good-quality merchandise before they ever tried it? And why should they have tried it if they didn't know what they were about?

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 14, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Branding is about the intangibles: convenience, security, quality, status, beauty, safety, organic, style, and so on. Associating a pictogram or logogram with this intangible creates (hopefully) immediate identification with the brand (and its related product offerings). Advertising is what creates the emotional appeal, the desire to acquire.

It's no stretch at all to bring up the ancient practice of animal branding (humans, too, were sometimes branded) as part of the history of brand creation. The animal gets out of sight, once animal rearing practices meant being in one established locale, so that the brand meant "This animal is under my hand." More simply, "So-and-so owns this critter. He may be over the next ridge, but he owns the beast."

When creative endeavors meant creating a number of pieces of product or merchandise, then makers' marks or hallmarks came into vogue. Think of French-descended Paul Revere's hallmark on the silver implements he created. These creations by Revere may not have had wide distribution, nor been huge in number by today's standards, but they identified his work as having a definite style and quality.

When literacy was low, the marks tended to be pictoral. Think of the Bar S or Wavy W brands for cattle. Interestingly, current animal branding prctices include applying the brand with a freeze-drying technique, which changes only the color of the hair pigmentation. When literacy was high, branding could become alphabetic. Like mini-billboards, the goal of branding is to convey information quickly.

So, what has changed more than the practice of branding is the means of disseminating the information--the media. Think widespread distribution of products, too. And last but not least, and most importantly, the practice of communicating has EVOLVED (Evolved, evolved!!!) from a hot poker in a campfire to Madison Avenue.

And the practice of branding is (Robert Kaiser's) Rorschach test writ large. You desire beauty, safety, whatever, then you pursue a certain brand. Of course, the rise of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism has created so many brands in so many industries that the influence or power of the brand may have become diluted because of increased competition. Which drives more advertising for the profitable firms.

And while I'm at it, given the negative yammering here recently about the Net. The use of the Internet is also a Rorschach test. I think of Edward O. Wilson's recent lecture at Trinity U. this past spring during which he mentioned the benefits of being able to link to the Encyclopedia of Life while in the field in remote locations. You are what you seek.

http://www.switched.com/2008/02/27/online-encyclopedia-will-include-every-living-organism/

Posted by: laloomis | December 14, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, once upon a time I read in a magazine article that public organizations waste 19-38 percent of their budgets, whereas private organizations waste 18-34 percent. Those numbers may not be exact, my memory being what it is, but they are close. IIRC, it was Governing Magazine....

Belk, the local (surviving) department store, just redesigned their logo. It's very nice; I heard they spent $70 million on it. I hope it was worth the money.

Posted by: slyness | December 14, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

GE, Boeing, etc. aren't running those ads everywhere. While they are wasting a lot of money on folks who can't be influenced, or don't have influence even if they can be, the ads are targeted. They're going after DC area eyeballs. In Tampa they advertise heavily on billboards near MacDill. They are rarely played in MN.

I've always been interested in how advertising skews perceptions. One route I drive in MN has a dozen anti-abortion billboards. I've heard people talking about them and assuming they're up because we have a lot of abortions in our area. We don't, what we have are cheap billboards. Our local gas station/store has directions on the pumps printed in English and Spanish. A few Limbaugh fans rant about this placard they don't read or need anyway and assume there are people in town who do need them in Spanish. The store owner can't remember ever having a Spanish speaking customer, and points out the signs are distributed nationally and also have directions in French. But no one ever complains about the true threat of a Quebecois takeover.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 14, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Here inside the bubble of the Military Industrial Advertising Complex, we have a lot of highly targeted advertising which is dog whistle high to the average consumer but aimed at a very, very small group of people with procurement influence. WaPo did an article on this earlier this year.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/24/AR2010062406207.html

For example, today there was a huge full-color full-page ad in the dead trees WaPo showing two Washington Monuments saying that a second engine for then NextGenAdvanceStrikeStealthTransformer would be just as ridiculous. One of the ad sponsors was Pratt & Whitney who presumably would lose business if another company was brought in.

Yesterday there was some ad decrying spending stimulus money on foreign jet engine companies. Clearly some elephant battle is going on way above my purchasing power.

After all the ADM bribery and price-fixing was exposed, I now rate the corruption level of companies by how much air time they buy on Sunday morning debate shows.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Tim - I don't consider that to be a "political" purpose. The goal behind the March on Washington, the peace marches on the Pentagon, the Million Man March, etc. was to get a ball rolling or keep it rolling, and eventually accomplish specific goals (the Civil Rights Act, ending the Vietnam War, etc.) It was known that those goals could not be accomplished at the rally itself, but the rally would provide the impetus to eventually accomplish the goal.

By contrast, I think that Stewart/Coblert's purpose was to get some publicity for their "brand" (to tie the threads together); to get people thinking a little bit; to have some fun; and to poke fun at Glenn Beck et alia while they were at it. Nothing more. And I guess you could say that those are "political" goals in the sense that there's a "political" aspect to everything, but I don't consider it "political" in the sense of advocating for or against any particular cause.

But it was a blast.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 14, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Add-on: Paul Revere's hallmark, as well as other makers' marks meant, in essence, "From my Hand." As factories grew, many hands were involved. Means of production also evolved.

http://www.paulreverehouse.org/bio/silver.shtml

http://www.925-1000.com/americansilver_C.html

Posted by: laloomis | December 14, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Sniped by fb.

John Wanamaker of the defunct department store chain is alleged to have said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I could do with a lump of coal. 13 again last night.

Mudge, you are making headway on the branding concept. I say if it's not quality control, then it's not worth a thing to me. I hate advertising. Advertisers regularly call me an idiot to my face.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 14, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Zero.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

When multinational corporations advertise, it isn't driven by corporate ego. That's just silly. One of the many reasons they advertise is because they're vying for your investment dollars. That's why they spend so much time telling you about the products of theirs that you already buy, and then go further and tell you about how they're diversified, how well they treat their people, etc.. They're not trying to sell you a locomotive.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 14, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

LiT, you're right - advertising the company and brands for investors is hugely important for publicly traded companies.

Watch it, Mudge, they're after your investments and/or 401k dollars, too.

From a corporate perspective, one could argue that it's not ego, it's pragmatism.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | December 14, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

The Miami Herald today explains that Venezuela subsidizes urea (nitrogen) fertilizer, but so much of it is diverted to fertilizing coca in Colombia, that Venezuela doesn't produce enough corn. No word on how Venezuelan corn prices are set.

Looks like the Achenbach family vacation in Rome a while back was well timed. The city's being sacked. Piazza del Popolo's up in flames.
http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/homepage/hp12-14-10l.jpg

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 14, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

DotC,
Perhaps they are just re-enacting a scene from 'Angels and Demons'.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I think that's a flash mob review of Angels and Demons.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 14, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Update on the travellers stuck in the snow, explains why the police and mto cannot reach the cars, plows and snowmobiles struggling to get through. The area is prone to blinding whiteouts, black ice, fog - just nasty.

According to twitter feeds I have some people have now been airlifted out (about 20 or so in buckets lowered by the helicopters.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/video/motorists-stranded-near-sarnia/article1836766/

Posted by: dmd3 | December 14, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Did someone say Rome was being sacked?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-x6FBuF4JM

Posted by: kguy1 | December 14, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Maybe a more workable link. Sounds extraordinary:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario/snowstorm-strands-hundreds-on-highway-near-sarnia-ont/article1836551/singlepage/#articlecontent

Then again, are people more trusting of their vehicles than in the past?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 14, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

It is pretty incredible, just heard a report from one woman and her husband who seeing the problems on the highway got off and attempted to get to safety via the backroads. A long and dangerous trip, at times they were unable to see anything, their headlights would become covered in the blinding snow, they were able to join up with other travellers and eventually made it to safety late into the evening.

If you know the area it helps most roads are parrallet concessions so not confusing but in blinding whiteouts that come from nowhere it is very dangerous. Leaving the car extremely dangerous so easy to get disoriented in the snow. There are reports that some people want to stay in their cars until the military can bring in the heavy equipment to clear the situation. At 6' drifts, even plows would struggle, that is wind driven, packed snow, not the light and fluffy stuff, if windy enough you can walk on top of those drifts - been there done that.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 14, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Here is a video of the "sacking of Rome".

http://tv.repubblica.it/dossier/la-protesta-degli-studenti/scontri-a-roma-oggetti-e-fumogeni-a-piazza-venezia/58278?video=&pagefrom=1

Posted by: gmbka | December 14, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

*wondering what kilt the Boodle*

Posted by: ftb3 | December 14, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

We apologize again for the killing of the boodle. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked have been sacked.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I was making one of my (sporadic and largely unsuccessful) attempts to shut up because I had nothing interesting to say.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 14, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I blame the snow. The forecasters are so out of it it's not even funny. Last night was supposed to be 3-4 cm of snow stopping early in the night.
We had 13-14cm and it was still going strong at 07:00. It will stop well before noon they were saying as we were driving to work.
It was going stronger than ever well past noon. It never stopped. There's about 22-25cm in the driveway and the plow left me a nice snowbank to clear.
As I write this I would qualify it as very heavy snowfall. We are being dumped on.
Snowblower time!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 14, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

As we say here in the South, bless your heart, SD! I hope it gets better soon!

We are expecting wintry mix Thursday morning. It will be interesting. I'm glad I don't have anywhere I have to go.

Posted by: slyness | December 14, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

We are at 50º F, relative humidity of 14 %, dewpoint -1º, tonights low likely to be 27º, so presumably no chance of frost.

There'll be major damage in the yard, some probably not visible until the end of winter. Palms, tree orchids, cycads. May have to plant new nasturtium seeds.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 14, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Good show Dave. There is nothing than I hate more than a deadly freeze in December. Or any deadly freeze for that matter.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 14, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

DotC-similar forecast in Tampa. I'm keeping my blood pressure down by looking at it as a garden renewal opportunity as opposed to a massive kill off and erasure of many sweaty work hours.

NFL considering moving the Vike's game to The Bank, the Gophers' outdoor stadium. Hope they go for it. The team hasn't been that entertaining of late, so maybe the venue could be.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 14, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

*faxing Shriek some nice hot cocoa, laced with Amaretto*

Posted by: ftb3 | December 14, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I've just learned through a usually reliable source that Robin Givhan is leaving the Washington Post. This is a big hit, because I find her wise cultural observations insightful and witty. Plus, she is just a heck of a lot of fun to read.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 14, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I was making one of my (sporadic and largely unsuccessful) attempts to shut up because I had nothing interesting to say.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 14, 2010
4:54 PM

===============

I've felt that way for days ... but I've sure been thinkin' and ponderin' and entertained by all ye boodlers. Busy time for me with commission deadlines and getting my own holiday gears cranking. Love to all!

Posted by: talitha1 | December 14, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to hear that about Robin; I too enjoy her commentary. But she left once before and came back, IIRC. I hope WaPo will continue to publish her, if she so wishes.

Yes, Bob and Talitha, that's one thing I love about the boodle. If I don't have anything to say, I can be quiet and enjoy everyone else's comments.

Posted by: slyness | December 14, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Got probably my last driver's license in the mail today. Good until 2018. Everybody always complains about the DMV but I went in at 10:00 last monday and was out at 10:15. Showed my birth certificate, wrote a $40 check and had my picture taken.

45F here on the left coast this afternoon. Down from 50 at midnight. Bright blue sky with fluffy clouds. Maybe some snow tonight.

Darwin report, guy robs a Vegas casino of $1.5 mill of chips at gun point from the crap table.

Posted by: bh72 | December 14, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Opps, forgot the link
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/14/AR2010121404246.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Posted by: bh72 | December 14, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Stuff like this is why I will miss Robin Givhan:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/10/AR2010121002833.html

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 14, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, isn't the Gopher habitat in hibernation until spring?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 14, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

NukeSpouse and I are back home, and aren't the NukeFelines happy about that! :-)

The cold snap has obviously warped the ATC displays around here -- I don't think I've ever dealt with a crazier approach route into Dulles. We came in from the west over Front Royal, then turned south, passing to the west of Dulles. This was followed by a turn east, passing to the south of Dulles. We then took a couple of looping turns to end up heading north to the east of the airport before finally turning west to land. I think we described an ampersand in the sky.

*belated Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 14, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

You know why I love the Boodle? I posted something in the comments section of the "article" (loosely stated) about the ruling regarding the *ahem* unconstitutionality of a tiny part of the health care bill. I got roared against by some (well, guy -- with apologies to most of the guys here) guy who basically told me to shut up and that he had a lot to teach me, but refused to consider anything that I had to say.

Snortworthy, to say the least.

*whatever*

Snuke -- glad you're home, not that I'm a cat or anything, although I plan to wash my face with my paw later.

Posted by: ftb3 | December 14, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Of course Robin is leaving. Otherwise they will repo her Pulitzer.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I am glad Robin didn't leave before I came around to her way of thinking on shoes. Though I think Yoki might have carried some of the water in that effort.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 14, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, just this:

Shoes glorious shoes
slick buckles and feathers

While we're in the mood
gladiator sandles and skimmers

Flats, mules, or slides, now girls
that is the question....

....now we cannot follow Robin's suggestions... boo....but we have YOKI!!!!!

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 14, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

The Fox channel on Direct TV went kablooie about 10 minutes ago, still out, and they have a sign up saying don't call, we know about it. Anybody else having trouble getting Fox? (It's a re-run of the Glee Madonna episode, but still...)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 14, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Testing the boodle. Where is everybody?

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 14, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I watched my first five minutes of Glee tonight. Does every show portray high school teens as strippers? I can see why it is popular nowadays.

Man, if I had a 12-year old daughter in today's world I'd be balder than I already am.

I think about what was portrayed on television targeting tweens 20 years ago when compared with today. I then think what it will be 20 years from now. Yecch.

Posted by: baldinho | December 14, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

For shoe critters:
http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2751
http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2752
http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2755

Posted by: DNA_Girl | December 14, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

It seems most of the snowbound travellers have been rescued, this story one of the many happy endings.

Trying not to giggle at the role played by a well branded item.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/pregnant-woman-rescued-from-storm-after-dog-locks-her-out-of-car/article1838081/

Posted by: dmd3 | December 14, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

The first one is my favourite! Awesome, DNA_Girl.

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only boodler who didn't appreciate Robin Givhan? There was a smidge of snarkishness in her that always rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry.

I'll take a slap upside the head with a ruche of stiff taffeta from the rest of you and wake up with a muslin hangover perhaps .....

Posted by: talitha1 | December 14, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

DNA_Girl-I've promised myself to work "you can't handle this level of awesome" into a conversation before week's end.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 14, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Robin is leaving?!

*Sniff*

Who is next? Please tell me it isn't Stuever. They already broke Tom Shales' heart.

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Glee isn't targeted at tweens. That doesn't keep them from watching it, but it's not for them.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Who is it for, yello? Usually High-School-located shows are meant (as is children's literature) for kids two or three years younger than the protagonists.

I admit that I don't 'get' Glee; watched two episodes non-consecutively and it didn't speak to me. I also, ashamedly, admit that I don't like Musicals on stage or screen, nor most the tunes that come out of them.

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Glee is no more a kids show than Grease is a high school musical or YMCA is a kids party song.

Glee is aimed at people who were geeks in high school and remember how painful it was to be an outcast. The song selection is equal mixes of classic rock, old show tunes and current top 40 hits. You don't have to be over 30 to appreciate the music but it helps.

The only network show for tweens is American Idol and it is really more a family viewing throwback. The rest of the under-16 demographic has been abandoned to The N and Cartoon Network. For their younger siblings, it's Nickelodeon and Disney.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, yello. I understand your explication. Glee = Band Room.

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Tonight was an odd programming night for Glee because it's in reruns and they billed it as Ladies Night. They ran the Madonna and Britney Spears episodes back to back which are not totally representative of the series as a whole.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 14, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I explained to Mr. F that there are Gleeks and non-Gleeks. A non-Gleek may come to appreciate Glee as a cultural phenomenon, but will never "get" it. That he didn't catch the Pretty Woman allusion in this explains how he could never be a Gleek.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 14, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

*kisses* to frosti. Thanks. That is a very kind interpretation of my blind-spot.

Posted by: Yoki | December 14, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

A bit of video brand development by a tiny clothing company in Cornwall.

http://www.finisterreuk.com/design/doing-clever-things-with-wool.php

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 15, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Awwww. That Bowmont lamb's face!

Posted by: Yoki | December 15, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

That lamb's adorable. If anyone else did that video, they'd be accused of mistreating animals.

The Brits are into outdoor clothing. Sub-Zero seems to aim at mountaineers, but their lightweight summer synthetic tee shirts were available before that became a popular idea in the US. Now there's synthetic golf shirts all over.

Under Armor is working on a synthetic golf shirt that feels like cotton. There seems to be a merino wool revival.

Polartec is selling merino, Patagonia is making use of it. I wear light wool socks in summer--they don't get soggy in summer. Brooks Brothers sells them at Florida outlets.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 15, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7aDstrDMf0

Good night, dear Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | December 15, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

And today's presciently on-boodle comic strip is:

http://www.gocomics.com/theelderberries/2010/12/15/

Posted by: yellojkt | December 15, 2010 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Oh DNAgirl, you are practically perfect in every way.

Have not given over to Glee -- two much work to watch. However, in addition to chorus and band rooms, you have yer:

Chess Club meetings
Executive Committee Nat. Honor Society (read, the stuffer of envelopes after the running of the mimeo)


and for me, The Dividing Line stealth paste-up of the underground newspaper after the regular paper was done....light boxes, hot wax, Exacto knives...and our underground newspaper was not the province of the good hippie-like radicals....more the Gleekie do-gooder sorts...our main focus? A can of food as entrance tack on to dances...to go to the soopkitch...

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 15, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, yello, indeed.

Amazing how only four days off can make the office resemble Gliese 581g.

I have to admit I'm almost in full winter commuting mode -- broke out the hat and heavy gloves this morning, but I've got the mukluks in reserve.

*trying-to-catch-up-on-work-and-all Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 15, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. Fifteen degrees F when Mr. T and I went on our morning walk at O-dark 6 ayem. We met a man walking his dog; he asked if we have learned the words to "O Canada" yet. Gonna have to do that, if the weather stays this cold!

Posted by: slyness | December 15, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

I just love my mukluks,
and fleece,
and cashmere
and caps and gloves and mufflers
and boots lined with wonder bread
wrappers.

Not to mention longjohns
And my old downy long coat.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 15, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

And flannels.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 15, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Hmmmmmmm...

Oddly, the comments on Maureen's latest offering are primarily sane:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/opinion/15dowd.html

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 15, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

And in the "You Think YOU Have Problems Keeping Track Of Things" Dept., Voyager 1's still humming away, 33 years after launch, and it's almost beyond the Sun's influence:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/12/13/the-wind-is-no-longer-at-voyagers-back/

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 15, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

VL, love this memory you jiggle for me:

and boots lined with wonder bread
wrappers.

And, attention: in the ready room are knitted mittens with strings and safety pins for all of you. Use three (two for mitts to cuffs; one for string in label of your coat). Stop crowding. All eyes on me. Line up height-sizes; there, that is good....

And, yes Mudge, I knit fingerless ones for you....you Bob Cratchett/Scrooge/Father Xmass mash-up....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 15, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Scotty,
NYT has a much tighter commenter vetting process for one thing, including such measures as real names and addresses. And taking on Birthers two years after the election is pretty low hanging fruit. The last remaining diehards don't spend too much time reading the NYT website. The are much too busy cleaning their semi-automatic weapons and rotating their canned food inventory.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 15, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. It's the real winter here although there are still a few days left before we reached the calendar version. The clear and crisp air (-18C/0F) made Venus glow with special intensity this morning. About a foot of snow on the ground in the suburb completes this winter picture.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 15, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

hmm, dmdspouse is in Ottawa, hope he remembered boots.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 15, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

A very cool interactive map:

http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/explorer

How ethnically diverse is your neighborhood.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 15, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Mittens? My very own fingerless mittens? Oh, for joy!!!! When I was a kid, we were so poor we couldn't afford mittens. Mom used to safety-pin little brown paper bags over our tiny, frozen hands, which always tore easily and got soggy and disintegrated when we tried to make snowballs. But we were grateful to have them! Oh, yes!

But I dunno about this other thing. I may be crusty and curmudgeonly and cantankerous, but I am far from Scrooge-like, insofar as I am about the least penny-pinching, money-concerned, parsimonious person you know. And only selectively Humbuggish (I do love Xmas, you know).

'Morning, Boodle.

I agree with yello that Glee isn't a tweener show, isn't aimed at kids, and is quite overtly aimed at the "outsider" kids (and some adults, viz., Coach Beiste (read: Beast or Beasty). And yes, to a large degree it is "Band Room," but I think it extends a bit further than that, and even a bit beyong geeks in general. A great deal of its orientation -- and I think yello would agree with me entirely on this -- is toward Broadway and musical theater in general. If you started drawing some Venn diagrams, there would be a (large) circle containing "Broadway/show tunes" people and another circle of bandroom people, and yes, there'd be overlap, but not total. (My brother was a major bandroom geek, but of the classical music type, and he wouldn't be caught dead listening to a Broadway musical, and he's fairly homophobic, and wouldn't know who Journey or Kristin Chenoweth were if they sat down next to him. He's also a major culture snob, hardly watches TV, etc.) (In other words, there are lots of different kinds of geeks, and their Venn circles sometimes don't overlap. My own recollection of the [old] National Honor Society types and the chess club types is that neither group would be very interested in Glee or Journey medleys or Madonna riffs, or a Rocky Horror theme show.)

I also really admire the writing on the show, and I think it has a pretty broad range of subtle humor and meta-humor, and pokes a lot of fun at itself that I suspect a fair percentage of the audience might miss. It plays consciously with sterotypes, very often by inverting them (Mike O'Malley being gay-friendly; Puck joing the show choir: c'mon, jeez, not in a thousand years in real life) or exxagerating them (people roaming the halls throwing slushy drinks on each other). Kurt's new school and the assemblage of "the Warblers" is utterly absurd, like a gay version of Muslim heaven where you get 72 virgins. It's absurd-- but you're never gonna see that on any other TV show anywhere, anytime. I think a big thing about the scripts is that the show simply "has fun." That's hard to do.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

2

Add to the fact that Ryan Murphy is a demented genius. Two weeks ago he had Kurt singing "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina." That is so far out in left field it was brilliant. No one in a million years would have picked that song for that character -- which is why it worked. And the lesson is that you have to bring something to "Glee" when you watch it: how many 20-somethings even heard of that song or the show it came from? The Britney/Katy Perry crowd are conversant with Mandy Patinkin.

The other day Lisa DeMoraes was in a chat and it turns out she's a Glee-hater, as are some of the peeps who sent in questions. I don't care that they don't like the show -- but I think they simply don't "get" it. There was a complaint about an episode's lack of character development. Well, yeah .. but that's like complaining about too much animal cruelty in Moby-Dick, sticking that poor whale with those nasty spears. You want character development? Sue Sylvester's mother is a professional Nazi hunter: there's your character development.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

However, elsewhere on the character devlopment front: http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1120ap_us_odd_naked_mail_carrier.html?source=mypi

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

SCC: aren't conversant

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

mudge,
That was an excellent synopsis. Glee works on a couple of levels. It's also an astoundingly self-aware show. While not directly breaking the fourth wall, it bumps into it a lot.

For really devoted Gleeks only is the Gleeful podcast.

http://www.gleefulpodcast.com/

They play clips from each show and dissect the songs, characters, and storylines. The hosts are Josh and Jen, a newlywed couple, and Ed, their flamboyant friend in college.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 15, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

An example of the Glee marketing genius is that while "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" is a duet in the show, they released on iTunes two different versions featuring Chris Colfer and Lea Michele respectively.

My wife and I watch the show with our laptops so that we can YouTube the original versions of songs we had never heard before.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 15, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Have any of you DC-area folks (or anybody else, for that matter) ever run across a map showing the Metro system overlaid on a map of the major roads/highways? By the time Google maps is zoomed out far enough to show the greater DC area, the Metro lines & stops are no longer visible.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 15, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Oops, forget it. I'm an idiot. The WMATA website has just such a thing, available by clicking the button labeled "Google Map".

Imagine that!

Posted by: bobsewell | December 15, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Forget what, Bob? :-)

Posted by: MsJS | December 15, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

You mean...the Yellow Line isn't that thing running down the center of the highway?

Which begs the question, whatever happened to Metro's White Line route? Or the Dotted (Dashed?) Line? When the Metro crosses the city line and enters Maryland or Virginia, why doesn't it change its name to "the Suburbo"?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

On the Yellow line at rush hour in Virginia it's the Meatro.

Posted by: kguy1 | December 15, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

If the cell antennas in the tunnels were a little better, it could be the Tweetro...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 15, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The school superintendent of the Panama City schools is a first class mensch-

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/14/AR2010121405037.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Posted by: kguy1 | December 15, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

The whole "tax deal" thing has the appearance of a choreographed sales pitch. Bait and switch, good cops / bad cops, peer pressure and everything in between. It's all a load of manure.

Posted by: vmax02rider | December 15, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow. That's a tough day on the school board. You gotta figure someone's gonna buy Ginger Littleton a drink or two also. She's feisty!

Posted by: bobsewell | December 15, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I did not click on the video link for that story, please tell me none of the shooting was included in the video.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 15, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

That's also a nicely written narrative piece. Good reporting and writing.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Actually, it kind of sounds like everyone associated with that school system is pretty menschy. They handled themselves and the situation as well as anyone could hope.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 15, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Actually, it kind of sounds like Panama City can be pretty proud of everyone there.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 15, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Oops, sorry about that. The first time that I posted, I got a message about being held for review. I went back to edit (apparently, it didn't like the adjectival form of "mensch") and failed to notice that it actually had posted my message despite the warning.

[redacted] Moveable Type.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 15, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

dmd, nearly all the shooting was on the video. It isn't grisly, and you don't see any blood -- but yes, you see him shoot, and then get shot by the cop (who is off camera). You see him fall and lie on the floor. You don't see him shoot himself at the end.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

dmd the video does show derangee fire repeatedly at the board members from about 5-6 feet away, some shots into the floor and the rest off target. A security cop off camera drops him and begins yelling at him not to move. The final suicide shot is not shown. His story about his wife being let go by the schools is apparently unsupported by the facts. No record of her ever being employed there.

Posted by: kguy1 | December 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, I am glad I did not watch, I am happy that the members of the school board are OK but find it disturbing to watch death scenes, near death scenes - hard enough when it is fiction but real life really bothers me, plus guns freak me out.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 15, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

The NRA will have to change its position. Instead of promoting the carry of concealed weapons for teachers only they will also advocate that the school board officials pack heat too.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 15, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

And on a lighter note, here's how a WalMart spokesdrone described raising toy prices- "Once a rollback ends, the item returns to its original everyday low price"

Ler's see now, how does it go? Have I got this right?
"Once a Bush tax cut ends, the rates return to the original prosperous 90's low rate!"

Posted by: kguy1 | December 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Clutching heart, falling to floor. DC doesn't bat an eyelash.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 15, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Seen it too often, eh, LiT? LOL!

Posted by: slyness | December 15, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, when DC was being picked on at school (for being smart) I told her that the kids who aren't quite like the other kids make the most interesting adults. She cocked her head like the RCA dog, thought a sec, and said 'you must have been a really weird kid' and then just walked away.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 15, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

LiT's obviously forgotten to monitor DC's "Sanford & Son" viewing habits...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 15, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

LiT -- DC is *how old*??? Wow -- what a cool kid.

Posted by: ftb3 | December 15, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

So c'mon LiT, tell us. Were you?

Posted by: MsJS | December 15, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

In the tiara dep't, I just noticed TBG won it this past weekend. Congratulations! It looks better on you each time you win.

Only three weeks to go. bc and TBG are in front. Can they maintain the mo for that long or will someone from 'the pack' surge ahead with daring selections?

I don't think I can stand the tension.

Posted by: MsJS | December 15, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Anyone from New England ever see thin, scantily-clad women at sporting events trying to get people to take a cheek swab to get on a bone marrow registry? I have seen them inside Fenway at Sox games and at the malls. I wondered who would hire people like that to get donors? An interesting, somewhat disgusting answer.

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Bone+marrow+shops+suspend+tests+in+NH+pending+investigation&articleId=c4b73ac6-102b-4ae8-ba06-8c68d341e375

Posted by: baldinho | December 15, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, baldinho, that I think that article shows lousy reporting. How can I really judge the situation without extensive visual evidence to corroborate the text?

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 15, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that's pretty disturbing. In a rather more benign example, I've definitely noticed that the office equipment sales representatives who come calling upon me tend to be attractive young women, or teams that include one such person. I wonder if that would be so often the case if my name were "Roberta"?

Posted by: Bob-S | December 15, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, I learned early how to blend into the wallpaper. You can get away with a lot when noone's paying attention.

TBG has the tiara? Great! She does wear it well. FYI, what the games are worth changes in the play-offs. Plenty of time for someone to come from out of nowhere and take it.

ftb, tender years just a bit longer. And you don't know the half of it :)

Have a happy night all.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 15, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

LIT is raising a gen-you-wine piece of work, and that's a fact!

Posted by: Bob-S | December 15, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

That NYT Census map thingy is very cool. My neighborhood:

Whites 59%
Blacks 8%
Hispanics 14%
Asians 16%
Other 3%

Take a look at Manhattan. Wow... there's some big-time segregation going on there.

http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/explorer

Posted by: -TBG- | December 15, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Tim's right. Everyone knows the value of photojournalism, and that a pix of a scantily clad cheek-swabber is easily worth a couple of thousand words. But *sigh* I've been complaining about the decline of journalism for a while now. Just one more sign that the End Times are here.

Speaking of which, coming home from aerobics tionight my neighbor and I remarked upon how few people are putting uip Christmas lights this year. Our street (about 6 blocks long) has a grand total of 9 houses lit up (we are one). Our street used to be chock full, and some were the kind people drive miles to see. Now...almost nothing.

Anybody else seeing this trend? Any thoughts or explanations? Gen X and Gen Y not in the spirit? Too busy Facebooking?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

More lights than ever where I live and driving around the city I think that is a general trend.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 15, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

My neighborhood is in close proximity to the local Jewish community center and the three major synagogues in the city, so there are many houses with no Christmas decorations. It's nice to see menorahs in the windows, though.

Posted by: slyness | December 15, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

About the same amount of lights on my drive home from yoga, Mudge. I do think there are a few more houses with lights in my neighborhood tho'.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 15, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

There are more lights up in our St. Paul building, fewer in the Tampa neighborhood, same as usual in Our Fair City-with the exception of the guy who bought the one foreclosure in town. His is an over-the-top display I'm surprised hasn't put a few cars in the ditch after blinding the drivers. Makes me smile though.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 15, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

re: Blending into the wallpaper

When I was in technical training at Biloxi (MS) AFB some number of decades ago, I happened to arrive during a period when a number of previously loose policies were being tightened.

To wit: The particular dorm/squadron which was my home had always taken such things as "morning physical training" and "marching to class in formation" rather lightly, but somebody in the upper realms of the base hierarchy became aware of such laxity and deemed that it should not stand.

Well, as you can imagine, I was darned offended that I was to be treated the same as all of those other military people. Among other things, I made a solemn vow that I would not "march in March". So for the month of March, I schemed to avoid joining the formation each day which toddled collectively off to class. This took some doing, as the route included crossing a very broad & featureless expanse of concrete (no cover!) and the easy alternatives (catching the bus, for example) were closed off early in the game.

One of my successful ruses involved obtaining use of a rake, a broom, a lawnmower, and a pushcart filled with various cleaning & maintenance supplies. When I was wandering toward class carrying/pushing one of these items, I was pretty much invisible to the enforcers. Storing them while not in use was a constant challenge to my devious creativity. And of course it would have been much less trouble just to join the formation and march to class. But it was the principle of the thing, you see?

[Yeah, I eventually got busted. The first sergeant heard about my "no marching in March" goal, and hunted me down sometime toward the end of the month. He and I both had a hard time keeping a straight face while he sentenced me to spend several hours on a Saturday morning marching around the courtyard of the squadron, counting the laps. He later allowed that he was impressed with the dignity & bearing I maintained whilst serving the sentence. I also suspect that he knew that I repaired immediately to my room afterward to consume a cold beer, the possession of which had also been banned in the squadron. I was not exactly a fully-conforming airman. But on the whole they liked me, even though I exasperated them from time to time.]

Posted by: Bob-S | December 15, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I currently live in a 95% white/3% Hispanic/2% other place. Not a shocker.

If you guys want a mental image of the models looking for cheek swabs, the ones at Fenway were done up to look just like Julia Roberts at the beginning of Pretty Woman, complete with blue bowl-cut wigs.

They had shirt tops with cutouts above the hips.

Here you go:

http://www.zoogstercostumes.com/products/cqm6009.html

Posted by: baldinho | December 15, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Hardly critical to the story, but it was (of course) Keesler Air Force Base. It's more-or-less in Biloxi, but Lt. Keesler - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Reeves_Keesler - deserves better than that I should forget to mention the proper name of the base where I spent nearly a year.

I really am getting a bit dodgy in my declining years.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 15, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

All you locals should bundle up and take a quick look at the sky. I haven't seen it this clear in a long time. The moon is poised beautifully above Jupiter, and Orion dominates the sky. The upper left star of Orion, Betelgeuse, is glowing gloriously red.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 15, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link to the demographic map - brought to you by the Census. My neighborhood is:
Whites: 25%
Blacks: 27%
Hispanics: 5%
Asians: 37%
Other: 6%

Or as we say, ethnically rich. A friend's mother was horrified to hear we were moving into a "mixed" neighborhood, many years ago. I like it, although sometimes it can get a bit too interesting.

I'm seeing fewer lights around here, maybe because some people have moved. The rowdy bunch down at the end of the street who used to put up a giant inflatable Santa don't seem to be there anymore. Always made me feel better about them, in a way.

Posted by: seasea1 | December 15, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

My census tract is 88% white, 2% black, 8% Hispanic. The tract to the north is 79% black, the one to the west 99% white.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 15, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

My condo community is quite diverse, as many of the people here are from a whole array of different countries. A lot of Asian, Indian, Hispanic, Russian, Ukrainian. It's quite nice in that way. Younger people are moving in with young children, too. The older set are getting increasingly hobbly, in both body and mind. Ah, well.

Time to turn in with a good book. Cya on the morrow.

Posted by: ftb3 | December 15, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

You're right, RD. The moon and Jupiter look gorgeous. Orion (and his belt in particular) is the only constellation I can ever identify. And thanks for pointing out which one is Beetlejuice. Which is the bright star to the lower right of Orion?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 15, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Tiny Starr County, Texas is 99 % Hispanic. Todd County, South Dakota is 81 % "other groups."

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 15, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I love this, Bob-S. "But on the whole they liked me, even though I exasperated them from time to time." If I could get through life being able to say the same, I'd die happy.

Posted by: Yoki | December 15, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

That community data is very interesting. Our Fair City has no dots (1=50 people) anywhere in the entire census tract. However, we have
58% white
0 black
2 hispanic
4 asian
38 other (Ojibwe mostly)

The Hip Urban Loft (downtown, St. Paul)
25% white
24 black (mostly Somali)
11 hispanic
28 asian
11 other

Chez Frostbitten South (Tampa)
66% white
9 black
11 hispanic
5 asian
9 other

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 15, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Around here, you (no matter your particular demographic toehold) can't swing a dead muskrat without whacking somebody upside the head who's different enough from you to proceed immediately into litigation targeting your obviously hate-motivated transgression.

I myself have some reservations about the starless Sneetches down the road, but otherwise it's a fine neighborhood.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 15, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

As long as they let me come to their frankfurter parties, I don't care if they have stars upon thars.

Mr. F has a signed print of McBean's star off machine in his office. He points it out when someone gets a little too impressed with the Special in Special Forces.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 15, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

At the high water mark, the demographic makeup on our quarter-acre lot was 33% white, 33% Asian (Korean), 22.22% West Highland White Terrier, 11.11% black sheep. Then the neighborhood began to change, and now it is 66% white, 33% Asian (Korean). The black sheep moved to Texas, and no one in the entire extended clan is speaking to him -- or he us. Texas is actually a good place for him, since he blends in well down there.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Ooooh, snap!

Posted by: Yoki | December 15, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

RIP Bob "Rapid Robert Feller, 92, of the Cleveland Indians. He pitched the only opening day no hitter in history, plus 2 others, plus 11 one-hitters. He was the very first major league player to enlist after Pearl Harbor-- the very next day. When he came out of the military in 1946, not having pitched for the previous five years (he was a gun captain on a battleship), he went 26-15 with an ERA of 2.16, pitched 36 complete games, and had 10 shutouts. If you don't know much about baseball, I am at a lost to explain exactly how phenomenal that record was.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Joe Canadian is Barbara Budd's replacement on As it Happens?! Forgive me if I'm unimpressed, and a bit miffed at the CBC all over again at Ms. Budd's departure.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 15, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

You're miffed? Miffed?! I'm in a Snit.

Posted by: Yoki | December 15, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Something break?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 15, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

My neighborhood is:

68% white
8% black
16% Asian
5% Hispanic
3% other

Other must include golden retriever and Jack Russell terrier because we have tons of those around.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 15, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Yoki-maybe a little age discrimination?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 15, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Sans dout, frosti.

Posted by: Yoki | December 15, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

SCC: doute

Posted by: Yoki | December 15, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Hmph. This demands a call to the talk back line.

Toodles boodle and sweet dreams.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 16, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

OK, so I'm totally amused by this from the NYT front page:

"U.S. Rethinks Strategy for the Unthinkable
By WILLIAM J. BROAD 23 minutes ago
The Obama administration wants to convey how to react to a nuclear attack but is worried about seeming alarmist."

Even EYE can show elementary-school age children how to duck and roll under a small wood-and-steel school desk. I am, perhaps, uniquely qualified.

Posted by: Yoki | December 16, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I really, really like "As It Hap? pens". I shall do my very best to welcome new staff members with open ears.

I went through Winter Haven, Florida one year (1994? 1995? Somewhere around then. Long after I'd first visited Cypress Gardens!) and caught a couple of days of Indians spring training. Bob Feller was in attendance and in fine fettle. In the history of the game, darned few people even came close to having the knowledge & skill to work from the mound like that man.

Posted by: Bob-S | December 16, 2010 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Good night, good love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYPcY15JaWY

Posted by: Yoki | December 16, 2010 2:31 AM | Report abuse

In Disastrahootchie news, the Justice Department has gotten around to suing the parent company of the Interior Department.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/15/AR2010121503894.html

Posted by: yellojkt | December 16, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

And I figured how who the other elephant is. Today's full color ad decries how the cost of the JointStrikeXWing has gone from $4.7B to $7.2B signed with kisses from GE and Rolls Royce.

I'm striking those jets off my stocking stuffer list.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 16, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Nice link. Here in my neck of the city, it's
12 w
53 b
25 h
2 a
8 o

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 16, 2010 7:17 AM | Report abuse

The clock says it's morning, but it's hard to tell, since it's raining. I went to get the paper in the dark. There are three steps from the front porch to the sidewalk: the top step is dry, the bottom step is wet, the middle step is icy. Fortunately I didn't slip and fall.

I'll have to check that link out. My neighborhood will be mostly white, although there is a black family across the street and two down, and a gay couple directly across from us. I suppose Yankees aren't counted separately. They should be.

Posted by: slyness | December 16, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

*stuck-in-that-awful-place-where-you-know-you-have-to-plan-a-sorrowful-trip-but-don't-quite-have-enough-info-to-resolve-all-the-details Grover motions* :-|

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 16, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Marion Barry's Car Stolen in Southeast

Ha! Here's the best part of the story...

"The former mayor parked his 2002 Jaguar outside the Patricia R. Harris Education Center in Southeast D.C. Sunday morning with the keys still in the ignition.

"When he left the building, the car was gone."

Entire story here...

http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=25&sid=2202601

Posted by: -TBG- | December 16, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

TBG, you've been Mudged.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 16, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: -TBG- | December 16, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

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