Nota Bene #87: Supersize Moi

There’s an old saying in Tennessee Continue reading

Will modern marketing realities force companies to make better products?

lumixby JS O’Brien

Despite pie-in-the-sky economic theory, competitively priced, quality products do not always trump those of lesser quality in the marketplace. A variation of Sony’s Beta format video was used for decades by professionals because of its superiority to the VHS format, but this didn’t stop VHS from becoming the dominant consumer format. McDonald’s does not make food that is cheaper, more nutritious, or even better tasting than a good sandwich from a local deli, but this hasn’t stopped the burgermeister from selling untold billions of its artery-clogging offerings. The US health care system gets arguably fewer positive results per dollar spent than any other health care system in the world, but there are US consumers who will defend it as being “the best” right up to their untimely deaths.

The truth is that marketing techniques often trump product value when determining marketplace winners and losers. Continue reading

Celebrating the heroes, damning the cheats, and always loving the game

Usain Bolt. 9.69 seconds.This Olympics, 2008, we mortals have been in the company of gods. Michael Phelps. Eight golds. Seven world records. Usain Bolt. Two golds. Two world records.

No-one who watched Usain Bolt actually break stride, look around, slow down and beat his chest in victory 15 METRES BEFORE THE LINE could have any doubt that you are watching a supreme athlete.

Athletes are the supreme example of physical genius. Continue reading

The Trouble with Paradise, or why Pakistan sucks

Anti-west riot cancelled due to floodMany years of grizzled travelling will give you a cavalier attitude to roadside cuisine and a thick skin to the casual xenophobia which occasionally greets the weary traveller.

Most tourists have trouble-free experiences, meeting people grateful for their presence and aware that their daily bread (or chapatti) depends on it. But that isn’t true everywhere.

Thomas Friedman coined the McDonald’s Theory of Conflict Resolution to explain why he thought nations that shared a common fast-food culture wouldn’t go to war. But then Friedman enjoys artery-clogging burgers while I enjoy independent travel.

Tourism is the largest employer and most valuable industry in the world. And so I present the Tourism Theory of Conflict Resolution, or – more simply – the Trouble with Paradise.

Continue reading