All posts by Rand Simberg

Tommy I Can Hear You

Megan McArdle has been discussing the seeming incongruity of a B2B company like Enron or Cisco developing a brand on mass-market advertising. The funny thing to me is that, at least in my case, they were spectacularly unsuccessful. Of course, there’s a possibility that I’m weird.

You see, while I listen to a lot of TV, I hardly ever watch it. It’s usually on FNC most of the day, while I work at home. So there are many ads that I’ve heard, but can go days or weeks without seeing. Enron was one of them. I heard the people singing “Why, why, why, why…” and wondered to myself (“why?”) for a month or two before I knew that it was an Enron ad.

Another one like that is the one that’s been running since 911 for the NYSE (or is it NASDAQ?–see, I don’t even know which one–some brand ID). Auditorially, it consists only of a lush theme music. If you don’t look at the screen, there’s absolutely no way to know who is paying for the ad.

Another one is the ad with the obnoxious kid talking about how he wants to be a teacher, instead of a doctor, because without teachers there would be no doctors. Who did that one? B of A? I think so, but I’m not sure, because I’m sure I heard it twenty times for every time that I saw it, and there was no auditory clue as to the sponsor.

So, without addressing Megan’s question of the value of such companies building a brand in the consumer mind, I wonder if the ad agencies (and companies who pay them) consider the potential number of people who hear, but don’t see their ad, and therefore have no idea what it’s about. If I were paying as much as these folks are paying for an ad, I’d want to make sure that blind people could get the message too.

The Race Is Over?

Jeff Goldstein over at Protein Wisdom has a nice disquisition on race as a social construct.

Well, yeah. What else could it be? There’s certainly no (modern) scientific basis for the concept, or any objective way of determining what the races are, or who are members of them. However, we’re reluctant to abandon it because there is now so much rent seeking involved in it.

I always find it amusing to see the political left get caught up in “the contradictions inherent in the system.” This came to something of a head in the last census when, after much protest and heeldragging by the bureaucracy, people were allowed to select multiple categories for their race on the census form. When one believes in “group rights,” confusing and intermingling the groups becomes anathema.

If I were a little more iconoclastic, and willing to put up with the bureaucratic and possibly legal battling, I (a person of mostly northern European and semitic descent) would put down “black” on the little box, whenever anyone asked my race. After all, how could anyone prove otherwise? If everyone would revolt in this simple way, we could quickly get this race madness behind us.

Another Ignominious Anniversary

Everyone’s been noting that this is the anniversary of Roe v Wade, but it’s also the first anniversary of the introduction of that Congressional abomination, the McCain-Feingold “Campaign Finance” (read, “make the world safe for continued major-media free-speech monopoly”) legislation.

Fortunately, it didn’t pass, but in following the time-honored rule of hijacking current events to pass ill-thought-out and irrelevant legislation (see, e.g., gun control and Columbine, or Airline Security Bill and 911), the fall back position of the Democrats, should they not be able to pin Enron on the Bush Administration, will be to use it to pass some new campaign finance law.

In honor of the anniversary, I went back and read the bill.

The part I like the best is where no one can buy any ads within sixty days of an election. As an exercise for the lawyers in the audience, go back and read a few copies of the NYT and WaPo during October of 2000, and see if they broke the theoretical law by providing in-kind ads to various candidates.

In other words, since they sell column-inches, column-inches for their own editorial content could be considered to be of value (since they had to forgo advertising revenue for it). Thus anything that they print in preference to ads could be considered purchasing ad space for themselves. If they used it to put forth points of view favorable to one candidate or another, either on the editorial page, or even in the so-called “objective” news stories, then it seems to me that one could make a case against them under McCain-Feingold.

It will be quite amusing if the bill or something similar to it passes (well, actually, that won’t be very amusing at all) and ironic, if someone actually files such a complaint against them, since they’re the biggest cheerleaders for the legislation, and their hero McCain.

No One Here But Us Democrats and Greens

According to a poll performed by Frank Luntz, described in the Washington Times, Ivy League professors are even more left/liberal than previously suspected. Actually, I’ll bet that there are more than 3% Republicans. The rest are simply afraid to admit it–they don’t want to be hauled before the Committee For Un-Ivy-League Activities…

[Wednesday morning update]

As can be seen in the comments section, reader and fellow blogger Paul Orwin takes issue with the poll methodology:

I didn’t want to get into it in the comment section, but actually, 150 is not a very large sample size. Sampling error is not a function of relative sample size, but of absolute sample size. If the total population is 10, then 10% of the population is not an appropriate sample (i.e. 1). The margin of error in the poll is 8%, which makes any # of their analyses dubious at best.

Well, I hadn’t looked at the poll in any detail, so I’ll take your word for it. Certainly a 3% estimate of Republicans with an 8% error is meaningless.

Additionally, look at the distribution of responses, almost entirely from the liberal arts faculty, not from the sciences. No science is even mentioned as a response, all of them left to “other”. I am referring to hard science, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and math, not social science.

While that may be true, I find it disturbing that even when one excludes the hard sciences, that the humanities professoriate is that far over. Not surprising, but disturbing. These are the people that indoctrinate many of our kids. I do agree that if this is the case, however, the reporting should have been describing humanities departments, rather than the universities as a whole.

In any event, the pollers tilt at least as far right as the pollees tilt left. By the way, I would guess that, depending on how you define “Ivy League Faculty”, this sample could be severely misrepresentative. Are med school, law school, business school faculty excluded?? It strikes me as a case of “We know that the Ivy League is a haven for wacko liberals, so lets eliminate from consideration anyone that might be moderate to conservative, and then trumpet our results as proof of the premise.” Typical hack job.

I’m not sure what you mean by the pollers “tilting right.” The poll was done by Frank Luntz, who is an admitted Republican, but he, like all pollsters, has a reputation to protect, and I’ve never gotten the impression from listening to him or seeing him on television (e.g., MSNBC during last years campaign) that he was particularly “right wing.” I don’t think that there’s a problem with the poll so much as with the reporting of it. Certainly, it’s no secret that the WaTimes is a conservative paper.

More Anti-Anti-PC

Stuart Carlson at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a stupid cartoon about the FDNY statue.

OK, so my question is, if you’re going to rewrite history, why an African-American and a Hispanic? Where’s the Asian-American? Where’s the South-Sea Islander American? Where’s the Inuit-American? Where are the Native American iron workers who helped build the thing? Where are the Female-Americans? Where does all this nonsense end?