Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shunning: Try it, it works.

"Bic "Lady" pens unleash Amazon snarkfest" says Washington Post headlines today. "Bic is being trolled hard by fake Amazon reviews, and it’s brought them that unique combination of shame and free publicity that only an Internet prank can achieve."

Prank?  I think not.  I have long understood that advertisers on purpose create ad campaigns that seem on the surface to be gigantic errors but in fact are well crafted calculations of risk. They know that the absolute worst thing that could happen to any business is shunning but they also know that in this day of social media, people absolutely *must* rush to comment/review/defend - and the "outrage" provides free name recognition that any less risky/controversial advertising wouldn't.

You might not buy a Lady Bic, but I bet the Bic label will jump out at you when you look at pens, now.  You'll want to see what those Lady Bics look like if nothing else.  See?  It worked.

Social media is a great tool for this kind of calculated on-purpose negative advertising.  People with good intentions post shocking image after image, comment after comment, and in doing so the nasty stuff gets lots of free publicity. Do-gooders think that their postings and clever comments will somehow motivate people to act against the issue, but I'm pretty sure that's more than evenly balanced by the voyeurs who really appreciate the ugly photos, and the people who have been newly introduced by the do-gooders to the nastiness and who can now embrace it themselves.

Various entities have long used negative advertising successfully. Environmental groups provide a superb example: They have raised the fear level so high that they support themselves (their board members) very well, while never doing any actual environmental work. Their negative advertising - like with other entities, such as religion and government - has created such a general fear in the population that people will believe what they are told in direct contradiction to what their own senses and non-biased history and fact tell them.

You can't fight city hall

That's what they say, and it's true. You can't fight the people with that much money/power. But oh, baby, you have a super power that will slap them dead if you will just use it: The power of shunning.  

Social rejection is the worst thing that can happen in human society - individuals who are shunned can suffer severe psychological damage from it, and groups can wither away to nothing from it.  Social media rejection is death to business.  

Shunning has been part of human strategy since cave-man time, because it works.  Paying attention to something feeds it, withdrawing attention from - shunning - starves it, whether it's a human being, a business, an organization or a political entity, and whether the attention is in the form of money, time, effort or, well, just plain attention.  

Be careful what you shun, though.  Make sure your target is right on.  For example, if you shun well, you don't pass around photos of a football player's torn-up dogs; instead you shun the man himself, the team that supports him and the organizations that supposedly are created to prevent animal abuse that didn't act.  

Shunning isn't just doing nothing - they pay advertising companies big bucks to entice you and they're very, very good at it.  They prey on human curiosity and they taint it with fear, so you can't not look, not if you want to be safe.  Curiosity and fear:  two basic components of human survival tactics that are hard-wired into us all.  Doesn't mean we can't overcome it, of course, but it does mean effort.  Shunning is actually harder to do than you'd think, but it works, oh yes it truly does.
As for Bic Lady pens?  Amazon keeps track of hits on their pages and if they get lots of hits they'll keep supporting that kind of advertising.  Bic, too, will know that their negative-advertising ploy has worked.  If you succumb to the desire to read the snarky reviews, you'll be part of the problem, not the solution.  Try shunning the Amazon Lady Bic pen and it will just fade away.  Honest - shunning works, but only if you actually do it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Insurance - It Never Ends

Copyright © 2012 CR Edmunds

First you just paid for your own repairs if you got into an accident.  And if you hurt someone else or you damaged their car, the court system would make you pay for that, too.

Then the government said you had to get vehicle insurance because you might get in an accident and hurt someone else or damage their car, even if you are an excellent driver.  Even if you never have a claim, you keep paying and you get no interest on all those payments - the money’s just down the drain.  But it’s supposed to be okay because your money is being used in a pool to cover other people’s accidents because there isn’t enough money in the pool to cover all the insurance payments being made.

And then you had to get vehicle insurance because the other guy in an accident that you might never get into might not have insurance.  Even though you pay it month after month, year after year, you keep paying that one so that all the other people who haven’t paid for their own insurance or for the other uninsured guy in their accident are covered by insurance anyway.  You know, they still call it insurance, but it’s really a tax, isn't it?  

First you just took responsibility for your own health and if you got ill or injured, you paid the healer, doctor and/or hospital yourself.  If you couldn’t afford it and you couldn’t beg or borrow the money, you died.

Then insurance made it easier to not worry about medical bills, so you stopped taking responsibility for your own health and if you got ill or injured, you let the medical system take care of you and let the insurance company pay for the doctor and or hospital.  You still ended up dying – it just took longer and cost more, but that was okay because there was a pool of insurance money that covered it.

And then everyone was forced to get medical insurance because so many people were no longer taking responsibility for their health that the insurance money pool wasn’t big enough.  So now even the people who are healthy and willing to pay for their own medical costs have to get insurance.  And if you don’t pay for it as insurance, you pay for it as a tax – at least the government is honest enough to call the spade a spade - but you pay no matter what, and you pay as long as you’re still alive to be paying, whether it benefits you or not.

What’s next?
It’s only logical for every homeowner to be forced to get disaster insurance that covers tornado, hurricane, flood, mudslide, earthquake, blizzard, fire and tsunami, no matter where they live or what the risk is of any given disaster.  Because, you know, that will make the insurance pool bigger so everyone can keep building houses in inappropriate places and building houses that aren’t constructed to withstand natural disasters. We need to be sure that homeowners keep getting compensated when a natural disaster wipes them out regardless of the reason it happens, or how often it happens. 

We need insurance to cover food shortages, including contaminated food.  Because, you know, having insurance will ensure that there's always food in the grocery store, and having insurance will compensate for price gougers when natural disasters wipe out food crops, or there's no fuel to bring food in from other countries (we can't grow food on agricultural land that housing developments now occupy, of course).

And what about the rest of the world?  We should all start paying for the poor people who live in other countries who don’t have insurance of any kind – they need medical care, they need to drive vehicles, they need coverage for their houses in case of disaster.  And those bad foreign people who just don’t want to pay for insurance – we need to pay for them too, since the insurance pool needs to be large enough to cover everything and everyone.

We all should start paying into the insurance pool now for future generations, too, because they will need coverage - given the economy, they won’t be able to earn enough to pay for their own vehicle, medical, homeowner’s or food shortage insurance.    

There must be something else that could be insured.  We don't want people being responsible for themselves - it isn't fair!

Oh yeah:  We should start paying for insurance for insurance, because after a while I, for one, won’t be earning enough money to pay for all the mandatory insurance so you all should pay into the pool to cover me.      And heck, why should I pay all that out now?  It'll never stop and I'll never get ahead.  Maybe I should just stop working and let that insurance pool cover all my needs.

Sounds like a plan.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

In spite of murder, the Mexican wolf population increases

The pro-Mexican wolf community is waxing on about the increase in wolf population as determined by the recent wolf count: The number is now up to 58.
That would be 58 wolves counted, of course - not the number that actually exists in the wild, which is a higher number than that. There are - and have been for years - an unknown but strongly existing uncollared wolf population, one that isn't constantly messed with by the wolf program just because the uncollared wolves can't be so easily located.
Recently Mexican wolf supporter Nancy Kaminski posted online "Through it all, the murders, natural disasters, deaths by vehicle, Game and Fish Departments running for the hills and a shortage of possible mates for dispersers, the population of Mexican wolves grew in 2011. "
Don't you just love the choice of words? Given that the definition of murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another, one wonders what human being Kaminski was referring to that was murdered, since unlawful wolf killings are just that: the killing of a wolf unlawfully. But how silly of me to expect pro-wolf people to use unbiased language, or have an unbiased, scientific approach, to their commentary.

Wouldn't it be ironic, though, if the reason for the increase in wolves might simply be because of Catron County and other efforts to get the wolf program to stop releasing habituated wolves, to remove habituated wolves from the wild instead of trap and transport elsewhere to be someone else's problem, and to get the State of New Mexico to withdraw from the program? Wouldn't it be a joke on Ms. Kaminski and other wolf lovers if maybe the reason that the Mexican wolf population this year has increased is simply because the wolf program people have been forced to stop screwing so much with the wolves, giving wolves a better chance to act like normal wild animals? After all, it is a fact of science that frequent handling of wild animals stresses them and ruins their chances for reproductive success and thriving in the wild.
But heaven forbid the Mexican wolf program should be based on science. Not when there's all that murder going on.