Sunday, November 27, 2005

All the News..
For news and information on myth and folklore concerning the genitals of both ocean-going whales AND Enrique Iglesias visit the "Quickies" section brought to you by team-blogged JackDied.

New American Face
During the last Blogger Brew, I stirred the coals with my proposed theory that teenage girls today exhibit what I have termed "The New American Face". My observations lead me to believe that teenage girls are proceeding through the next stages of evolution in matters of facial bone structure and features. I said that the hallmarks of the New American Face are that girls seem to have smaller, rounder heads with flatter faces, fuller cheeks, and eyes appear to be further apart than before.

Like all groundbreaking theories, my suggestions produced a storm of protest. Evidence! Evidence! - they shouted. Indeed, I offered up Tara Reid as Exhibit A, followed up by Lindsay Lohan and the entire female cast of Laguna Beach. Amazingly, my drinking companions felt that the entire theory was preposterous! Actually, all except Contagious - she bravely chalked herself up as a believer in the theory and its cosmos-reordering premise.

Anyhow, the detractors countered with the notion that the new teenage look is due to increased attention paid to things like hair, makeup, eyebrow plucking, and tanning. They said that today's teenage girls are just way more into a higher order of fashion and grooming than before - and that the New American Face is simply a trick of the light, so to speak.

Well, Kreblog has produced startling, groundbreaking, and dare I say debate-ending evidence in favor of the New American Face theory. Indeed, as the headline to this article reveals, Science has discovered that the human face is shrinking!

When the world is all abuzz about the changing physiology of the female face, let 'em know that you first heard it from GraniteRants

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Lohengrin Wigging Out
I wonder if there is an opera or opera house out there where the spectators act like Grateful Dead fans during performances. Sure, everyone is dressed in finery and tuxedos, but as soon as the curtain goes up and the orchestra kicks in that's when the hippie dancing goes throttle-up; meaning all the wavy-arm dancing, convulsive closed-eyed body shaking, and hand-puppet sign-language stuff. Just imagine everyone peaking during the aria - man like wow.

Chinese Take-Out
I've seen a few shows on cable news and PBS regarding Wal-Mart and whether it is good for America. Now there's a new film expose that examines the same question. I'm ambivalent on Wal-Mart. Personally, I think its a terrible store to shop in. The layout is horrible, the lighting too bright, the colors to tacky and the whole package just screams cheap and flimsy. One thing I notice in the Wal-Mart is that the merchandise is treated with total disrespect. Stuff is just strewn about - unorganized, thrown together, tossed aside. Clearly the customers don't have a lot of respect for the goods and the employees don't either. I've never seen any attempt by Wal-Mart employees to try and keep the place tidy. Go to Old Navy or some clothing store and you always see an army of clothes folders carefully putting back the merchandise in presentable shape. But at Wal-Mart its like walking into one big bargain bin of old cassette tapes. You got to sift through the stacks of Kenny Loggins and Styx just to find that one gem you think is out there. Its just piles and piles of crap and somehow you're convinced there's an item of substance worth finding and having.

On the question whether Wal-Mart is good for America I think the results are murky. There's the argument about the closing down of Mom & Pops when Wal-Mart moves into town. I'm not unsympathetic to that argument on a level. Then there's the subject about offshore manufacturing and how Wal-Mart helps that. Clearly American goods manufacturers and the public at large need to come to terms with the fact that the concept of "Price" includes a whole lot of things: including the value of the good itself and all the intrinsic stuff that goes along with that good - meaning when you're buying a more expensive American made good you're buying higher wages for that American who produced it; his/her healthcare, job benefits, etc.

I think American goods manufacturers as a whole need to be better at conveying the new sense of "value" to the customer that will determine their survival: for example all the things about quality, American made, buying from your neighbor, and supporting their lifestyle, job, income etc. Take Starbucks for example. People have shown a willingness to buy a more expensive cup of coffee (over cheaper competing choices offered at gas stations for example) not just for the good taste and preparation but because there's a certain value and mystique that the customer is buying into. I think on a level a customer is aware of Starbucks attention to "corporate responsibility" and its effort to source its products with fairness and to provide its employees with a living wage and attractive benefits. The customer is willing to spend a bit more because the cup of coffee is more than just brewed beans - its an expression of values and a support of values. Customers vote with their dollars and Starbucks has been successful at building a brand around this.

Organic farming and foods I think is another example of this. People are willing to spend a bit more because they perceive they are buying not just healthy food, but food that was produced according to a set of values - values they wish to support. I think this is a trend that more American manufacturers and goods producers need to turn to in this era of globalization. With such an array of choices out there for goods and services, the way to differentiate as well as to support American workers is to build a stronger brand awareness around "values" and make the case that a more expensive price buys you much more than the good itself - but all the things that went into producing that good. For example, the State of Vermont has become a brand name unto itself. Anything listed as Vermont-this or Vermont-that or Vermont made etc etc conveys a particular image of quality, care, earthiness, and strong American values. This practice needs to extend out to other American goods and industries. I think it will be the only way for American goods producers to survive and thrive and for shoppers to no longer so singlemindedly intent on shopping for low-price.

The Starr Report II
Please, will the Dems just get around to it and impeach the bastard already?

Intelligent Designer Interiors
I'm waiting for the Hand of God to swoop down and remodel my kitchen.