Thursday, December 23, 2004

Rudolph: Beloved Marketing Tool

There's a pretty thorough history of the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at this site. I had heard that Rudolph was created as a Christmas marketing tool, and also that it was Chicago-based Montgomery Ward.

It's a little strange that Montgomery Ward had filed bankruptcy, and their former buildings are being converted in Chicago and Fort Worth, Texas.

Post a Comment


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Superstitious Math Geeks?

Reading Eric Zorn's notebook on the Tribune site is becoming a daily indulgence for me. Today, due to a Zorn link, I found out that I'm not the only person fixated on a prime number.
Okay, to be fair, I have a friend named Keith who is fixated on the number 37 (which is prime), and he sees it everywhere. I'm not considering Keith to be a superstitious math geek, though, because he's an artist, and in this sort of math-oriented obsession takes the interest to another level.
My personal fixation is with the number 13, which I find connected to me. For a quick example, consider the letter M. It's the 13th letter of the alphabet (I learned this thanks to Jim Carrey's Riddler in _Batman Forever_). Also, the letter D is used for the number 13 in hexadecimal notation (base 16). I could go on, but I don't won't to get weird here. I'm not even going into the connection 13 has with the United States or the mathematical properties of 13. Well, I will mention that 13 is prime, of course, and it's also a Fibonacci number. But that's all I'm going to write. At this time, anyway.

On the subject of the properties of numbers, consider that the number 28 is perfect, by mathematical definition, essentially, a perfect number is one that is the sum of its proper diviors (e.g., 6 = 1 + 2 + 3). I mention this because of that number's relation to the lunar cycle and, as a segue, women's average menstrual cycle. Rough segue, but Zorn's giving away a book, _Woe to the Women - The Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality, and the Law_, which "documents the bible's punitive, antediluvian rules and attitudes toward women." What's interesting to me is how this relates to another site that I've seen arguing that Jesus was a feminist. To me this is an extension of an underlying conflict over the legacy of Jesus, which seems to be primarily a struggle between James and Paul. I'll return to this subject another time.

Post a Comment


Friday, December 10, 2004

India and China

The Talking Points Memo has an older post with extensive excerpts of a Fortune Magazine interview discussing the economic potential and impact of Indian and Chinese economies.

There's also an interesting point on the potential hazard of America's debt. Since we have no idea how American debt in American dollars could affect America's economy.

Post a Comment


An Ounce of Prevention?

In a new blog jointly written by an economist and a circuit court judge, the first "real" post addresses the legal precedent for preventive war. It's a very logical argument based on the legal approaches of dealing with potentially dangerous individuals, and then extends the argument to terrorism in general and "rogue states" in particular.

What struck me about it, though, was that I was reminded or the movie _Minority Report_. Judgments are passed based on what probably would have occurred.

Post a Comment


Finding My Religion

Check out the Belief-O-Matic on

My top 5 (percentage match):

1. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
2. Bahá'í Faith (87%)
3. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (87%)
4. New Thought (85%)
5. Reform Judaism (85%)

Wow, look at that, I'm probably a "Liberal Christian Protestant". Go figure.

Post a Comment


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Globalize already

According to the New York Times, Labor Unions are seeking to reorganize in an attempt to regain their influence. In particular, they are looking to increase their membership in "swing states" to help elect a "pro-labor" president, which seems to mean "Democratic".

The unions seem to be missing other opportunities. Aren't they ignoring labor in other parts of the world? Wouldn't it be to their advantage to organize unions in the areas where American businesses are moving jobs?

Imagine if unions organized labor in Mexico, for example. As the Mexican standard of living increases, the cost advantages to American companies moving to Mexico would decrease. Also, the increased standard of living would create markets for more American products and services. Now, imagine that happening on a global scale. The rise in standard of living is already beginning in China and India.

Labor protectionism is counterproductive. It does not address the rapid gobalization of business, and is not likely to be successful. I'm reminded of the Industrial Revolution, when businesses moved to more mechanized forms of production. As labor unions were being formed to address the unfair treatment by these larger, more powerful businesses, the new unions were very selective in their membership admittance, usually excluding minorities. As a result of exclusive membership to unions, business was able to employ the non-union minorities as strike breakers.

In essence, the moving of American jobs overseas is an attempt to decrease the cost of labor. Ultimately, this leads to exploitation of workers where the local governments have not established the structure of worker protections that have been created in America and Western Europe.

Now, here's a quirky twist for you: Labor Unions are anti-Communist, in theory. Think about that. This idea comes directly from the reading of an article on The New Republic's site. Of course, Marx's theory of communism is based on the assumption that the polarization of the "haves" and the "have-nots" would continue until the "have-nots" could take no more and revolt against the system. From a labor standpoint, this seemed to directly reflect their experience with large, industrial businesses. However, the rise of labor unions created a new option: The potential for workers to see the fruits of their labor, to participate -- and profit -- in the growth of the companies for which they worked.

The problem now, though, is that labor unions have steadily lost their effectiveness and membership. New workers are getting the jobs overseas, and Labor Unions aren't there. Consider that the disparity between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in America, and on a global scale, is increasing. Doesn't Marx come back into the picture?

All workers benefited from Organized Labor. I like my Saturdays free. I like working (roughly) an 8-hour shift and (roughly) a 40-hour week. I like health care, dental care, paid sick days, and paid vacation. The organization of labor needs to become another American export. Ultimately, it protects us all. Organized Labor allows us to become partners with business and not adversaries. It protects democracy and probably even protects capitalism.

So, Labor, please, Globalize already.

Post a Comment


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Next Big Thing

Like Tickle Me Elmo for adults, or at least tech geeks like me, Digital Video Recorders are definitely the next big thing. I really want a DVR. I've even looked at putting one together from an old computer. The Trib has an article about them on their site, and it just gets me thinking about them again.

My sister has TiVo, and a friend also has one. Everyone who has them, loves them. When we were at my sister's house for Thanksgiving, I got a chance to check out some of TiVo's features. It's very cool. I especially like the idea of connecting the box to my home network and the internet scheduling feature. Great ideas. There are some limitations, though. Since we have digital cable, we wouldn't be able to watch one show while recording another. I'm sure we'll get one eventually.

I would guess that DVRs may become mandatory for some types of cable subscription programming. Imagine paying for the number of scheduling blocks of shows or movies that you request instead of paying a flat-fee without much schedule control. I think it will happen, while friends have pointed out that many people wouldn't like the idea that their viewing prefrences could be monitored. Understandable. Who knows.

Post a Comment