Snarky Behavior

Entries tagged as ‘youtube’

How the Existence of “Big Brother 10″ Proves I’m Not a Populist

July 16, 2008 · 4 Comments

Since I consider myself both a partial-consumer and full-time observer of mass American culture, I like to think that, at any given moment, I have a thumb pretty close to the pulse of what’s popular in the United States.

This is not to say that I read US Weekly diligently, or watch American Idol.  Only that I know that such things exist; have engaged with them enough to understand them; and appreciate that they and the contents within are massively popular across a broad audience.

Every so often, however, I learn something about my country that really knocks me off my kilter.  Most recently, it was that the show “Big Brother” has been on a major television network for 10 freaking seasons(!!!)

Now, while I’ve heard of the show, I don’t understand its premise, and I’ve never watched it.  Moreover, I cannot recall ever having a conversation with a single friend who has watched the show.  I have friends who watch pure crap — Gossip Girl, Tila Tequila, The Hills, The Bachelorette, Bad Girls Club– I’ve even known people who watched Survivor well into its dying years (is that still on the air?)  But nowhere within my six degrees of separation do I know a single person who watches Big Brother.

(Note: this is not an exaggeration.  I just did an advanced profile search on facebook and not one of my 358 “friends” has Big Brother listed as a TV show he or she watches.  I’m sure we’d find similar results with The Mole, but that’s another post entirely).

My larger point here is that no matter how well I may think I know/understand the people of the country in which I live, the simple truth is that I really don’t.

I mean, insofar as I am a student of economics, I implicitly understand that individuals have divergent preferences, and markets emerge to meet these preferences.  And within markets, there are competitors who fight to capture market share by best meeting the majority of consumer preferences, or at a least a segment of the market.

What I don’t understand is why anyone would use Hotmail before Yahoo, or Yahoo before Google.  Google is demonstrably better, it offers more space, it crashes less often, it has an embedded chat, it comes with a suite of other products, etc.  In my mind, Google should own 100% of the market in terms of e-mail service, because 100% of consumers should recognize that it’s a superior product in an environment where virtually all options are free.  What baffles me is people continue to choose inferior products.  Why?  Why is that?

A few months ago I wrote about how Tide was the preferred detergent of most people, even though detergent seemed like a fairly consistent commodity and Tide was always the most expensive brand.  One consumer researcher stated that the less pricey competitor Gain was “the experiential and fragrance brand, and had strong ethnic performance.”

I have two theories here:

1.)  Is a  matter of education.  Education means critical and analytical thinking, including the ability to distinguish and appreciate levels of value.  People who are better educated have “more taste,” as it were… or at least know how/when to differentiate between a product that is worthwhile versus one that is cheap/crap.

2.)  The second is consumer behavior.  People who live on a tighter budget instinticively learn to gravitate to the products that inherently seem cheaper.  (Note:  this theory is based on my-friends-who-shall-remain-nameless who squeal with delight over any/alloffers from the following restuarants:  Olive Garden, Taco Bell, Bob Evans.) They are not concerned with value, per se, only attracted to the least costly option… and this mentality carries through even when the product choices are free/no cost to the consumer.

Anyway, my larger point is, again, I don’t get it, which I think means I’m not the populist I like to make myself out to be.  I’m still voting for Obama though.

PS…If you like thinking about consumer choice, you’ll love this TED Talk by Malcolm Gladwell:

Categories: Opinion
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Thought of the Day

July 7, 2008 · 1 Comment

I might be like 5 months late on this, but it seems to me that John McCain admitting he is “not an expert” on the economy, when the economy is the #1 issue, means he won’t ever be president.

I’m also not sure if this video is a positive or a negative for his campaign:

Categories: Opinion
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The Following Songs are Stuck in My Head…

June 25, 2008 · Leave a Comment

…and now they’re in yours.  You’re welcome!

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Team Building

June 19, 2008 · 4 Comments

My office is celebrating its annual anniversary by doing one of those team-building exercises (think: Outward Bound).

At the staff meeting at which this activity was announced, somebody asked what type of clothing we should wear.  It was suggested that we dress in “clothes you might garden in.”

Now, I’ve lived in either a dorm or an apartment since 2001.  As I don’t subscribe to Sunset Magazine, I’m not quite up to date with the latest in horticultural fashion.

I wonder though, is this appropriate?

Categories: work
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West Coast

April 26, 2008 · Leave a Comment

If it sounds familiar, it should… it’s Jason Schwartzman from Phantom Planet/Rushmore fame. But more importantly, it’s Cool Ethan from Slackers! (One of my favorite movies ever)…

Anyway, it looks like I am going back home to the West Coast for a bit… and I’m very happy about it. Although New York is gorgeous right now.

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Now IM bitter

April 23, 2008 · Leave a Comment

Disappointing decisions being made in Pennsylvania tonight. I’ve only really ever been to State College, and everything else I know about the state has been informed by the following:

  1. The Kruk/Dykstra/Mitch Williams era Phillies.
  2. The Office
  3. Rocky
  4. Allentown by Billy Joel

Obviously, that leaves an odd mix. And an opportunity to post the Allentown video!

So here’s to you, Pennsylvanians… you scraggly, paper-selling, dip-chewing, coal-mining, cheese-steak-eating, blue-collared, closeted-stage-acting white ethnics!

Every child had a pretty good shot to get at least as far as their old man got…

Something happened on the way to that place… they threw an American flag in our faceeeeee!!!

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Something Good

April 18, 2008 · Leave a Comment

It was the freshest move I’ve ever seen… it was like he was floating on air!

Thanks to John for sending me this.

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If this isn’t “straight talk,” then what is?

April 13, 2008 · 1 Comment

Makes...me...ANGRY

At a recent fund-raiser in San Francisco, Obama was asked the question about voters in Pennsylvania:  Why doesn’t his campaign resonate with working class white voters?

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

While his response may have included some poorly-chosen words, for which he has since taken substantial criticism, it was at least an honest appraisal.   Consider the following:

America is often recognized for its diversity, but too often we consider this diversity as a melting pot (with the New York urban-ideal as the cognitive model) than as a heterogeneous hodge-podge of cultural identities.  Obama succinctly made this point at the 2004 DNC in his now famous “Red State-Blue State” speech (”we worship an awesome God in the blue states, and yes we’ve even got some gay friends in the red states”, etc.).

So for a wealthy donor from Marin county to understand the voting tendencies of a “fellow Democrat” pension-deprived ex-steel worker of Allentown, he/she needs an accurate explanation, and a good deal of empathy.  These donors are (in large part) the ones funding Obama’s campaign, which means they provide money for polling, focus grouping, message development, etc., and they have a right to expect an explanation of the results of that research

Right now we have a political system where the campaigns engage in election “strategies,” which CNN and others than attempt to decipher and decode, without explaining the underlying assumptions of those strategies.  It is taken for granted that Clinton “appeals” to blue-collar voters, because that is the demographic she is targeting (and resonating with).

When Barack Obama lets these donors peek inside the key-hole of voter research, he may seem like a detached social scientist professor– the Ivory Tower paradigm.  But the truth is that he cannot be all things to all people.  He can only try to understand and capture the concerns of the majority of the voters in his party, and assuming he wins the nomination, in the country.

It is not Ivory Tower to try to understand a group of voters with whom a candidate has no shared background, if the candidate’s efforts are genuine, so that he/she may better represent those voters.

On the other hand, nobody likes to be categorized and have their behavior and motivations analyzed.  The thing is, this happens all the time, in market research, in commercial advertising, and certainly in elections.

Is it a poor strategy to let people peek behind the curtain instead of relying on a lazy media as a proxy to interpret campaign messaging?  Haven’t the last few years taught us that “reality” is the favored-model of communication?

If this isn’t “straight talk,” then what is?

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I Am the Walrus

April 13, 2008 · 1 Comment

Coo-coo-ka-choo!

This is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen, and I’ve seen the Golden Retriever from “Air Bud” shoot free throws in person.

In fact, if the walrus and Air Bud were both in a talent show, and the Walrus went first, Air Bud would just sit there with his tongue hanging out like, the animal version of 8 Mile , and the Sea World trainer would be yelling “IT’S OVER!  IT’S OVER!” (all while making throat-slashing gestures), and the little white kids in the audience would be booing and dismissively waving their palms at Air Bud.

Then the Walrus would stand on his hind “legs” and raise the roof with his flippers.

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What what?

April 9, 2008 · Leave a Comment

You’re welcome.

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