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Steve Bogart


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25 February 2001

Happy personal news: Lyn and I have decided to make our union official and public; in other words, we're getting married!!

The curious may wish to check out her lovely post about it.

I'll be writing more about it all myself, in time. :)

We visited the Newseum last weekend; it's quite an interesting place, especially if (like us) you're interested in how the same information is presented by different entities.

The museum has a wall made of the current day's front pages from newspapers around the globe, and from time to time shows various news channel feeds from many countries side-by-side on a large video wall.

The Pulitzer-photographs exhibit (which has had its stay extended through May) was as interesting / moving / thought-provoking as expected. If you're in the Virginia area, you could do much worse than to spend an hour or two checking it out.

My favorite recollection from our visit was watching some Russian television news where they were reporting on a chess match[!] with a board on the screen replaying several sequences of moves for the viewers. Not something I expect I'll ever see on CNN...

Dale Earnhardt's death was apparently caused by a seat belt failure, which is pretty much unheard of:

  • Probe: Seat Belt Failed [Washington Post]
    According to NASCAR officials, Earnhardt's belt failed in a three-inch wide piece of fabric, or webbing, that makes up the lap belt. It came apart between the buckle at his navel and the metal fastening near his left hip. They refused to say whether the break was clean, as if it had been cut, or frayed. They also refused to say whether it could have been cut during efforts to extricate Earnhardt from the car.

    Veteran racer Buddy Baker was shocked. ... "I know the people that make the seat belts, and I've never heard of such a thing. I'm more shocked than anything else. I would have to see the seat belt, because I know it was not inferior. You could pull every truck in here with one seat belt."
And now Coke is having trouble deciding what to do about the various merchandise it's selling with Earnhardt's likeness:
  • His Sponsor's Dilemma [Washington Post]
    [Coke] machines have been damaged by people trying to get Earnhardt's picture, and at least one dispenser was stolen.

    If Coke immediately began removing Earnhardt's likeness from machines and store shelves, some fans might interpret the move as an insult to the racer's memory. Others might see a decision to continue marketing Earnhardt's name and face as an effort to exploit a tragedy. // "No company would ever want to be accused of trying to profit on the back of someone's death," said Rich Burton, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

    Coke already has had to deal with similar situations. Earnhardt is the third member of what the soft drink company calls the "Coca-Cola's Racing Family" to die in a car crash in the last two years. The other two drivers who died in separate crashes were Kenny Irwin and Adam Petty.

If I were in charge of Coke, I would be seriously questioning whether I should be supporting a sport that is so predictably fatal and that will reliably present one's company with horrible dilemmas like this on a continuing basis. It seems like an all-round bad idea to me.

Speaking of Coke and sponsorships, apparently Warner Brothers thinks Harry Potter isn't appealing enough on his own (despite pre-selling record numbers of books) and needs to associate the upcoming HP movie with a sugar-water caffeine-delivery system in order to really be successful.

The press release about it is a real piece of work, trying so very hard to draw similarities between two utterly unrelated things:

  • The Coca-Cola Company and Warner Bros. Pictures to Share the Magical Experience of Reading with 'Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone' [AOLTimeWarner]
    Coca-Cola has been named the sole global marketing partner for both the motion picture, which debuts on November 16, and the subsequent video release. Through this relationship, The Coca-Cola Company will combine its worldwide resources and geographic reach to bring the specialness of Harry Potter and Coca-Cola to people and communities around the world.

    These efforts -- to be announced in the coming months - will center on helping people discover the magical world of their imaginations through reading while reinforcing the core values and attributes shared by Harry Potter and Coca-Cola. [??!!?!?!]

    "Coca-Cola celebrates and embraces the ideals promoted through the stories of Harry Potter -- friendship, love, self reliance, the importance of family, the magic of shared experiences, and the value of diversity," said Jan Hall, Senior Vice President Consumer Marketing, Coca-Cola North America.

Blatant product placement always bugs me a little, but it's particularly annoying when it's shoehorned into in an existing work of art that has nothing to do with the product(s) in question.

Coke sells soda and other liquids for a huge profit. From that you get the 'importance of family' how, exactly?


Seen on Scripting News, this long, fascinating story left me with an interesting feeling of ambiguity. Is the boy simply unschooled in the Golden Rule and other good old Americo-Judeish-Christianical values and therefore behaving amorally, or is he simply seeing the stock market system for what it really is (not what's popularly believed) and behaving utterly rationally within it?

  • Jonathan Lebed: Stock Manipulator, S.E.C. Nemesis -- and 15 years old by Michael Lewis [NY Times Magazine]
    The goal at the end of every quarter was for the newspapers and the cable television shows and the rest to announce that they had "exceeded analysts' expectations." The easiest way to exceed analysts' expectations was to have the analysts lower them. And that's just what they did, and had been doing for years. The guy in Carmel, Calif., confessed to Bloomberg that all he had to do to be more accurate on the earnings estimates than Wall Street analysts was to raise all of them 10 percent.

    [Richard Walker, SEC director of enforcement:] "The price of a stock is artificially raised when subjected to something other than ordinary market forces." // But what are "ordinary market forces"?

    An ordinary market force, it turned out, is one that does not cause the stock to rise artificially. In short, an ordinary market force is whatever the S.E.C. says it is, or what it can persuade the courts it is. And the S.E.C. does not view teenagers' broadcasting their opinions as "an ordinary market force." It can't. If it did, it would be compelled to face the deep complexity of the modern market -- and all of the strange new creatures who have become, with the help of the Internet, ordinary market forces. When the Internet collided with the stock market, Jonathan Lebed became a market force. Adolescence became a market force.

More soon.

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