Findings, Nerdery

In Texas, There’s No Business Like ‘Going Out of Business’

When Cyrus Hassankola moved to Dallas a couple of years ago, after successfully going out of business in several locales, he decided to settle down and go out of business permanently.

“The response was good from day one,” the carpet salesman says.

Customers rooting through the stacks of oriental rugs in the store he opened on a busy road in North Dallas would sometimes say how sorry they were that he was going out of business. “We’re not,” Mr. Hassankola told them. “It’s just the name of the store.”

Love the little insights into consumer behaviour, pricing tactics and salesmanship.

From the Wall Street Journal: In Texas, There’s No Business Like ‘Going Out of Business’.

Findings, Nerdery

95 Percent Of Opinions Withheld On Visit To Family

Like all of the best articles from The Onion, the headline tells the whole story, then the story keeps on giving. Peeling back layers, if you will. Adding details to delight.

95 Percent Of Opinions Withheld On Visit To Family.

“No one in my family really gets my worldview, so I find it easier just to smile and nod and agree with everything,” Wilmot said Monday. “When I’m with them, I tend to be a lot quieter than when I’m hanging out with friends.”

Wilmot, who grew up in Kalamazoo and now lives in Chicago, described the visit as “seven hours of self-censorship.”

“We’re totally not on the same wavelength at all,” Wilmot said. “I’m not just talking about dangerous subjects like politics or religion, but pretty much everything they bring up–the shows they watch, the things they buy, the people they know. So if someone says Daddy Day Care was hilarious, I may be thinking, ‘I can’t believe Eddie Murphy was once respected as a subversive comic genius,’ but I sure as hell don’t say it.”

Food, Travels

Cutter Ranch Lambs and Loon Lake Weekend

A sloping horse eats grass

Spent the weekend +1 day in the middle of BC, in gold rush country, in Clinton, with some very fine people.

We visited Tyler McNaughton and his wife Sacha and their lambs at Cutter Ranch.

We stayed at the Evergreen Fishing Resort on Loon Lake and had a wonderful time. I believe it’s ashamedly the furthest north I’ve ever been in BC.

Photos? Yes.

Mine: Cutter Ranch Lambs and Loon Lake.

Better yet:

Inside Voice

Toyota Pruis: Greenwashing a Guilty Conscience with a Crap Car

So let’s get this out of the way right away: I have no f-sharp love for the Toyota Pruis.

I hate the car and I hate what it stands for.

The car? Here’s a credible Toyota Pruis review:

Nothing about the insides feels familiar in the traditional sense, unless you are a prior Prius person. The new interior is swathed in low rent plastics which emit nauseating vapors, leather seats (if so equipped) that made me long for Naugahyde and gauges which were not only situated well out of sightlines, but rendered in a primitive digital manner which were indecipherable even up close. Of course I could always tell how slowly I was driving from the desperate looks on the faces of the drivers eager to get past me.

The 2010 Prius’ ergonomics were designed for only two kinds of creatures: those who like to sit five inches back from the front windshield and orangutans. Everyone else will find that the steering wheel, adjustable now for tilt and reach, is still too far away for a proper seat position. There is a nice new electric lumbar support in the seats, which are otherwise unsupportive and ill-shaped.

The driving experience was engineered by faeries. There is an Unbelievable Lightness of Steering, flagrant disregard for handling and a general sense that you are not in a car at all but some anti-gravity device which yaws and rolls without regard for normal physics. I would rather visit my dentist than drive the Prius again—at least he gives me laughing gas.

And what the car stands for? 3 reasons:

  1. Because its environmental credibility is a lie.

    It maintains the myth that if people make the right purchase decisions we can buy our way out of our pollution problems. This is perfect horseshit. A new Prius is incredibly costly to the environment.

    Want to help out the planet? Keep your existing car and keep it in great working condition. Or buy a used one. That sunk cost is gone so use it to its max.

    Because the Prius will be old one day too, and then what?

  2. Because in North America it obscures the bigger problem: that our living arrangements are the main reason we’re polluters.

    If you want to create less pollution, live in a place that doesn’t require you to create pollution for all your travel. Screw the suburbs.

    I have little sympathy for commuters looking to assuage the guilt of their housing decisions with a new toy.

  3. Because of the way it’s sold to consumers as a decision they make to love people. Who could be against that?

    I am. Imagine a Venn diagram with 3 circles: narcissism, guilt and disposable income. The ad above (the making of the big Prius ad) hits straight at the heart of the overlap of those 3.

    And since I think the product benefits are a lie it makes the selling of those product benefits, dressed up with a children’s song and costumes, more reprehensible.

And that’s all after I had a day to consider my reaction to the new Prius.


Anyone Can Do It But Few Do It Well

Gartner's Hype Cycle shows the pattern of adoption of new technologies.

Gartner’s Hype Cycle graph.

Grandiose claims have accompanied the spread of the Internet like wetness accompanies water.

Variously, the Internet was going to democratize production and distribution. Was going to disintermediate incumbents. Was going to revolutionize this or that business and business process.

Sometimes these claims came true. More often, they partially came true. Most often, they partially came to fruition and scared the hell out of people. And always, they remain evolving works in progress.

So when I read an article full of triumphalism like Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest about the failure rate of blogs, I know I’m reading a writer who’s missing the story.

  1. Because the failure rate of any new human activity is incredibly high. Diets, anyone?
  2. Because the pronouncements sound so tone deaf to history. They aspire to authority but it’s a trick. They don’t know. They’re guessing too.
  3. Because the best way to get perspective on the way media cover stories is to read old stories. An edition of the NYTimes from a year ago provides way more insight into the way the news gets covered than today’s fresh copy.

As an example, a year ago you could have read that Consumers were facing shrinking lines of credit from banks.

Washington Mutual, one of the nation’s biggest issuers of second mortgages, said in May that it had reduced or suspended about $6 billion of available credit under existing home equity lines. Countrywide, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have made similar moves.

You could also learn that tomatoes contaminated with e-coli bacteria were sickening people in 16 states. But nothing will change and more shit (literally) will get shipped in food.

A mediated worldview emphasizes the far over the near, the exceptional over the mundane and the sensational over the practical.

As a result, people fear dying from terrorist attacks instead of car crashes. We watch reality TV while our natural world degrades.

So while technology has made many things more accessible to us, human nature remains stubbornly resistant to lasting changes. And the changes that get incorporated into our lives seem like they’ve been there for a long time.

The truth remains that anyone can start a blog but few persist. The truth also remains that many people now read and keep blogs and don’t have as much use for the NYTimes.

And this will change too.