In re: Advertising

Ok, to set the record straight I should be working on my take home for International Mergers and acquisitions, but I figured I could use a break. Anyway, I’d been meaning to mention an ad in the paper this morning one of those full page, fake story looking ads, that have a byline from a fictional news organization (who are these for anyway?) So the ad was for uncut sheets of money, and setup this elaborate method of ordering. I loved how they told you to start calling at 10:00am and they made it seem so limited, in that you had 48 hours to call (nothing like the fake countdown timers on infomericals) they also had two number setup one for A-M and the other from N-Z (how clever!) So why do you want uncut money (besides that only presidents and bank officers could get it before?) they claim it is a great investment bring in 6400% return from those who had them from 1920. Hmm, well this sounded good to me, so I was about to call when I realized that maybe it was too good, was I being confused like so many of my fellow morning paper readers into thinking this was a good return. Well for one, it should be noted that actually over 85 years 6400% increase (I am sure they are trying to confuse you with an interest rate) as a 6400% increase over 85 years isn’t too great, you really should have hoped to do much better, were probably talking around 5% interest there (keeping up with inflation barely..), (stock market averaged 11% since then) and if you new any good 85 year cds back then you probably could have done better as well(just kidding). Secondly lets remember that not too many folks then were keeping these, now that you and all your buddies are ordering. Anyway, thought someone else might get a kick out of the stupidity (I had to relearn some math to do these simple calculations, so I guess I should be careful who I call stupid…) Oh and contrary the the ‘article’ which claimed these were hard to get Google seemed to have been able to round up some at the morgan mint. Yay!

In re: Caloric Perceptions: The McSubway Project

Interesting story on the McSubway Project:
“In a study called “the McSubway Project,” Brian Wansink of Cornell University and researchers at the University of Illinois intercepted 300 people as they finished their lunches at McDonald’s or Subway. They asked them what they ate and how many calories they thought they had consumed.” Essentially they found that while McDonalds customers were eating more calories, they had a clearer picture of how many they were eating. “But those at Subway experienced the ‘halo effect,’ which allowed them to think they were eating better than they were.” (see story here)

In re: Fair use

I just returned to Columbus from a nice weekend back for the first time in Williamsburg, where I went to college. While the weather didn’t seem to want to cooperate, it was still a nice trip, with the only good weather coming yesterday. Previously to going it had been a real busy week so I hadn’t had a chance to post here. First up I was just going to post a quote from Stanford’s Copyright & Fair Use summary. The reason was I had an interesting discussion on my way back over copying library books, I had been under the idea that full scale reproduction for personal use was a violation, and this is what the Stanford site seems to agree with.

The library may make only one copy of such works per patron. Copying a complete work from the library collection is prohibited unless the work is not available at a “fair price.” This is generally the case when the work is out of print and used copies are not available at a reasonable price. If a work, located within the library’s collection, is available at a reasonable price, the library may reproduce one article or other contribution to a copyrighted collection or periodical issue, or a small part of any other copyrighted work, for example, a chapter from a book.

The Betamax case (which held ‘time shifting’ television shows in their entirety was not a violation) wouldn’t seem to be applicable as part of that case stemmed on that time shifting didn’t deprive the station of their economic interests (the advertising and ratings would still be in their favor) however the library book doesn’t seem to have this component. The Betamax case said that building a library wasn’t fairuse. Anyway, there are a few other topics I’d like to talk about this week, but I’ll leave it at this for now.

In re: No political discourse

So I was reminded of a theme from the History of the Peloponnesian War today while listening to a story on the radio about an awkward question and answer with George W. Bush as they had carefully screened folks at the session of course including an Iraqi general. Now back to the Peloponnesian war, what does this have to do with this? Well the downfall of Athens was connected to a fall in political discussion to a point where only shrill arguments existed. This can be seen in a large part here in America as there is no real debate.

Our president and other leaders are never subjected to real debate, having to think and discuss our actions. Not even in our political forums of the House and Senate do we have this as it is really just a place to ‘pad the record’ Some other democracies have institutionalized such discussion in ‘Question Hours’ where one must think and discuss. It seems we now take it for granted that our leaders won’t face tough question as supposed town hall meetings, something that is steeped in our political history are now an opportunity for discussing issues on one’s own terms rather than a true debate of ideas. Similarly the presidential debates are a carefully negotiated short series in which the format is set down and a real free for all can never exist.

The problem is also in our news media in that debates among commentators too have fallen to a shouting match where real ideas are rarely debated. Will this change? I doubt it, especially as now sound bites are what live on as many do not have the time to invest in following a debate or complex discussion, so carefully crafted messages that won’t fall into the pitfall of allowing a choice phrase to be lifted and used against a candidate or issue.

In re: Wal-Mart

Been a little slow on the postings recently, but partly because I’ve been really busy. Been taking a class in the evening this week with a lawyer from Skadden Arps London office on Int’l Mergers and Acquisitions. The class is real interesting but 2 and 1/2 hours a night makes for along day. I did have time to catch the last 20 minutes of a piece on frontline concerning Wal-Mart. It was real interesting and I’ve taped the whole show which ran again in the middle of the night, so hopefully I’ll get to see the whole thing. One thing that I had never know was that Wal-Mart does so well not only because of low prices. Sam Walton created a theory on entry price points and Wal-Mart spends a lot of effort getting for example a really cheap microwave to put in the aisle at what is by far the lowest price. However they get you thinking about microwaves and you move on into the section and end up buying a more expensive model which is incidently not the best price, it’s a smart psychological device in getting you to think all their products are price leaders and I hadn’t known this (I don’t go to Wal-Mart, but I assume it would work on me as I doubt I would have notice and I am sure many other stores have copied this strategy since then) Of course the show then delved into loss of jobs which I’ll probably want to get into sometime here.

In re: Make law school optional?

Interesting article by a George B. Shepherd, a law professor at Emory, on why they should do away with bar exams which he declares a failed experiment and similarly with the requirment of law school, which he believes isn’t necessary for all types of attorneys. Those wishing to practice ‘Mercedes’ law should go get a ‘Mercedes’ degree but those wanting to practice in simple areas may only need an apprenticeship or a ‘Corolla’ law degree which might be 1 year. Interesting as it would be a more free market answer, of course as a learned profession or supposedly learned one the ABA like to remain a gatekeeper and to keep the profession at a certain level. See the article here

In re: Pumpkin picking, only in America

So I suppose it is good news that an article on pumpkin picking is on the front page of the NYTimes today as it means that not to much is going wrong in the world (or at least were ignoring such things at the moment) The article details how you pick it pumpkin patches have become ‘agri-tainment’ or agricultural tourism where you think your picking pumpkins but they have been trucked in and placed artifully in the patch. The reason for this began as padding for weak harvests or if sales had taken out ones stock, however due to lower prices elsewhere some have taken to completely ordering and placing such pumpkins. This sounds so American to some of us, but then when you look at the situation one feels sympathy as some of the farms had been on the verge of bankruptcy before resorting to this and creating a pumpkin picking atmosphere with corn maizes, petting zoos, etc and compensating for the bottoming out of certain crop markets.