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Showing posts from November, 2011

Light bulb addiction

'Or, just possibly, this urge to stockpile incandescents is the product of simmering outrage. For decades, I have written about America as the world’s beacon of freedom, which it has been. Yet here we are, wards of the nanny state, with politicians dictating that even that prime symbol of American ingenuity, Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb, shall be regulated into oblivion. All this has been ably exposed as an act of crony capitalism, designed to enrich manufacturers who prefer to sell pricier light bulbs that a lot of Americans, if free to choose, prefer not to buy. And the actual mechanics of this ban have been greatly blurred, Washington-style, by framing this fix not as an outright prohibition, but merely as a phase-out of light bulbs that do not meet standards set by Washington in the name of “energy efficiency.” First the 100-watt incandescents vanish from the shelves. Then the 75-watt, the 60-watt and 40-watt. It is, in its way, a bipartisan dimming of choice, tacke…

Surprised at Moral Policing?

Surprised at Alka Pandeyji's moral policing act?
I am not.
After all Alkaji's antics must mirror what's socially sanctioned behaviour (read, slapping people around) in the badlands of UP. So I say let the freak show continue on. And let's enjoy the spectacle, though our stomachs may churn.
Even in purchase scenarios I am not surprised if I encounter behaviour that I consider rude. Hey, welcome to rude country where queuing may probably be quite the alien act. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, maybe people do queue up. Yeah, I've been in quite a few polite queues here in Bangalore.
But then there's the odd uncivil act that always crops up. And I ain't surprised.
Don't be.

Nonsense makes sense

Kolaveri di is an out and out case of stimulus response. Zero information processing, pure stimulus response.

Let me explain. As a stimulus Kolaveri di presents content that arrests our attention. Technically that means we select the stimuli because we hear and see something that is distinctly different. The lyrics, the tune, and the visuals that don't mean much are why it isn't ordinary. Surely, nonsense must stand out in sea of sense. Especially to a particular demographic that then takes to it lock stock and barrel. Add to this, the herd mentality kicking in. If Kolaveri di's cool, who am I to differ?

What follows our selection of this stimuli is an instantaneous act of organization and interpretation. Now this comes easy because it taxes none of the cognitive abilities. We aren't called to process any information, only respond to stimuli. And that's easy. After all, the lyrics mean nothing, the tune's arresting, and the scene compelling. Born out of impulse a…

Why this Kolaveri di? Here's why da!

Why this Kolaveri di?

Simple, da! It fall over the tipping point, da! Because it fulfilling the three general principles, da!

One, da, Kolaveri getting the 'law of the few right'!

'The law of the few says that success of any kind of social epidemic is “…heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” These people are mavens – experts in a particular field, and connecters, known to and trusted by others, and who have wider connections to influential groups.'

Two, da, Kolaveri getting the 'stickiness factor' right!

'The second principle, the stickiness factor – is the message that makes an impact. Stickiness is more important than the medium. It can be an advertising device that forces people to read or listen to the ad’s message, and to actually absorb that message. It’s best done with a message that resonates with the reader, particularly in a way that offers a personal benefit. Or it could be a simple action or de…

The Retail 'nationalist' debate

The discussion on Indian TV (CNN-IBN) tonight?

Is FDI in Retail anti-national?

Well, don't bother watching. I'll tell you what the answer is.

YES, it is anti-national, if 'national' represents certain politicians (read, the communists and the pseudo-nationalists), the kirana store guys, traders (read, retail middlemen), and current big format retail players who can't stomach competition.

NO, it isn't anti-national, if 'national' means consumers in India!

So I guess the question that must be debated on TV needs to be 'What is NATIONAL?'

Fulfilling the Female Ego

'What makes Twilight “brain porn”? It fulfills the female ego in the same way pornography appeals to men.

Pornography exaggerates the most cathartic aspect of romantic encounters while dismissing real-life baggage. It elevates an irrational self-indulgence while ignoring any sense of responsibility, particularly to the other. For men, this translates to reckless sexual satisfaction. For women, it’s more complicated.

Sure, women like sex too. However, their enjoyment typically requires stimulation of the mind as much as the body. Women hope to be loved, desired above all others, and valued more than life itself. The Twilight Saga embodies this fantasy.

Pornography imagines that women exist for the sole purpose of satisfying men. The women in porn are not only willing, but eager. They are depicted as if satisfying a man is the means by which their own life is sustained. This is without the slightest pretense, explanation, or justification. The unconditional nature of the attraction is …

Wal-Mart evil, or you stupid?

John Stossel on Wal-Mart:

"They have taken the values, the morals, the ethics, fairness that are the fabric of our society and put them aside and . . . put their profits before their people," said Blank.

That's foolish economics, and not very good morality. He is as wrong as the tycoon Michael Douglas played in the movie "Wall Street," who said: "It's a zero-sum game. Somebody wins. Somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred."

That's a myth. Businesses create wealth.

Take the simplest example. I buy a quart of milk. I hand the storekeeper money; she gives me the milk. We both benefit, because she wanted the money more than the milk, and I wanted the milk more than the money. This is why often both of us say "thank you." Because it's voluntary, business is win/win. A transaction won't happen unless both parties benefit. Each party ends up better off than he was before. And when you have mil…

Q & A

Better late than never. So here's my answer to questions posed. Also thanks guys, for the Qs.

Rachana asks, 'Is it possible that the same theory of ideal self be true for the concern for some strands of grey hair?'

I don't think so. When one bothers about an uncontrollable (in this case its greying) I'd suspect it to be the prompting of the ideal social self. A focus on a controllable (the bulge) could probably be a push to get to ideal self. Though I must admit, burning fat to look good can also mean its the ideal social self that's the prompter.

Aritra asks, 'But don't you think the influence a parent has on his kid lasts only to a certain age? According to me, by the time a kid hits puberty, his locus of influence(for lack of a better term) shifts more to external sources and the decisions made are also based on these factors. Your views?'

Sure, influences change over time, but the one that leaves an everlasting effect (thus cementing our personality…

I've been thinkin' about you

The contradictions we live

Getting Jaden to wear what we thought was a lovely checked shirt with a hood wasn't easy. The more we tried, the more he balked. For some time we couldn't get it. Why would he not wear something that looked so good on him?

And then it dawned.

There wasn't any other kid the in the neighbourhood donning the shirt with the hood. Jaden, we guessed didn't want to be the first one. Getting him to wear would mean showing him people wearing shirts with hoods. We figured we could start that at home. So last Sunday, Brooklyn and I got into the act by wearing jackets with hoods. Voila, Jaden acquiesces. He wears, and even starts to like the shirt. In the process we learn a lesson that's relevant to the world of marketing.

As consumers we live out contradictory desires. Our craving for a distinct identity is tempered by our need to stay within norms that guarantee acceptance. Brands that seek our patronage need to know this. They must construct for us our desired selves whilst ke…

We NEED Wal-Mart!

So there's some people in India who think Wal-Mart shouldn't be allowed to set shop here. Pray why? Because it seems the farmers and the kirana people will go under.

Now lets for a moment think they'll go under, what's the remedy? Keep Wal-Mart out and have me, the consumer suffer higher prices! Well, pray why isn't that a concern of anyone? Oh, I get it, I am prosperous enough to not buckle under higher prices! But then think about it. Isn't everyone a consumer? Shouldn't our maid for example, have access to lower prices? If that access comes via FDI driven organised format retail, I say bring it on! Now if you think our maid can't access the superstore location, its good news for the kirana. It can stay and cater to her.

The truth is, the anti Wal-Mart tirade is familiar nonsense from bleeding heart liberals and political opportunists who don't care to understand the power of free markets. Ditto for socialists, communists, and environmentalists.

What…

Time-Tested Answer for Bullies: Punch Them in the Mouth

This case of 'ragging' at the Sainik School in Jharkand is downright disgusting. Before we get to why some students resort to such disgusting behaviour, here's John Hawkins on how bullies need to be confronted.

John Hawkin's piece is a must read!

'You know why I was bullied? I was a quiet, meek, non-confrontational kid who liked to read and had zero interest in getting in fights. In other words, I was an easy mark. There was really nothing more to it than that. As I look back at it now, I can’t think of a single thing I ever did to merit being bullied. I didn’t mouth off, I didn’t pick on people, I didn’t want any conflict (as opposed to the present, where I’ve learned to revel in political warfare). This is one of the many reasons that to this day I roll my eyes when people say, “Why do they hate us?” I damn well know from personal experience that there are a lot of evil people who will try to hurt you for no other reason than because they think they can get away wi…

The 'Linger Effect' in Behaviour

At times you wonder why someone seems so angry. After all there wasn't anything that could be termed a provocation. Then why the outburst? Well, such anger is easy to decipher if you can unearth what I call the 'linger effect'.

Its hard for us to let go, more so if we've been hurt. Most hurt never finds closure. Which means it lingers. The outcome to such a 'linger effect' is its exhibition in another form, namely anger. So when people seem to be angry without reason, what they are actually doing is making an effort at getting over a past hurt. The pity is, it leaves the recipient of such anger bewildered.

Service providers too at times are at the receiving end of unexplainable consumer anger. The answer to such behaviour of course, lies in the 'linger effect'. Agreed, that's no consolation to the poor marketer at the receiving end. Though knowing why people behave they way do, should be of some solace.

I guess.

Coming & Going

Rajini on coming home:

'There is a sense among all of us displaced Indians, if you can call us that, that this is the best place for us to be in the world. The fact we have cultural ties adds to the idea that we can be more productive, and make more of a difference here.

Coming to live here is in some way attending to unfinished business. You can meet a person a few times, speak to them on the phone, or online, but only when you live with them do you really know them. My flirtation with India is now real. I'm about to make this place my home for the next few years. My dad left India in May 1966 and landed at Heathrow as a bright-eyed student. My mother followed a decade later. They both live in the UK, are integral members of the local community, and have raised three successful daughters.

Forty-five years on, and I'm doing the reverse. I share the same fears as my father did as he stepped off the plane with only £75 in his pocket, but just as he found new success and a home…

Lapse and Lunacy

Unlike what most believe, Rick Perry's 'brain freeze' moment doesn't have to numb his campiagn. Latest reports seem to suggest the Perry camp's getting its response to gaffe right. They have decided to 'embrace' the memory lapse moment and have dispatched an email to their supporters stating, "Write us to let us know what federal agency you would most like to forget. "Is it the EPA and its job-killing zealots? The NLRB and its czar-like dictates? The edu-crats at the Department of Education who aim to control your local curriculum?"

Plus they've encouraged supporters to add a $5 as donation with every suggestion!

I say, cheeky, and brilliant!

Gaffes are good if they can elicit empathy. Who amongst us hasn't had a memory lapse moment? In fact tell you what, at times my mind blanks up mid sentence while in a class! So I quite understand what happened to Rick. My guess is, so can you. Its up to the Perry camp to play this story right, and u…

Building Steve, Breaking Qaddafi

Giving up the ghost with famous last words at times makes news. Especially if the people in question are newsmakers. Steve went with a few wows and Qaddafi tried'don't shoot' to avoid kicking the bucket.

Now its important we know they went that way. More so for their intended audience. The 'wow' story tops up nicely the legend that Steve is. For those swooning, this story is only a reaffirmation to what they have always believed, that Steve is God. The Qaddafi story though similar, is quite a contrast. His pathetic plea firmly unseats him from the pedestal of a revolutionary. So all those who believe in the revolution can now know their leader is a miserable coward who pled for mercy, something he didn't ever consider during his tyranny.

Last words are important. They are stimuli that build perceptions. In the case of Steve, the legend must go on. The Steve stories I dismiss as near nonsense is lapped up by the Apple horde. Which is good, 'cause in the end it…

The Leftist tomorrow

'Leftism is bad for people. It makes them awful. The unwashed, ill-mannered, anti-Semitic, entitled, and now violent mobs littering various parts of the nation under the banner “Occupy” believe their ideas will lead to a better society — but they actually are the society their ideas lead to. Their behavior when compared to the polite, law-abiding, non-racist demonstrations of so-called tea partiers tells you everything you need to know about the end results of statism on the one hand and constitutional liberty on the other...

Why wait to see such results come home? Leftism is an ignoble creed on the surface of it. Its followers display their awareness of its shamefulness by projecting its evils onto their opposition. Leftists accuse conservatives of avarice, but which is greedier in a person: to seek to hold on to what is his own, or to seek, as the leftists do, to plunder what belongs to others? Leftists call conservatives racist and sexist, but who is it who wants race and gender…