Posts tagged “money”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Jobs on the Kindle, January 2008 – Today he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely because Americans have stopped reading.

    “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

  • Roger Ebert’s Books Do Furnish A Life (plus a ton of amazing comments) – I cannot throw out these books. Some are protected because I have personally turned all their pages and read every word; they're like little shrines to my past hours. Perhaps half were new when they came to my life, but most are used, and I remember where I found every one. The set of Kipling at the Book Nook on Green Street in Champaign. The scandalous The English Governess in a shady book store on the Left Bank in 1965. The Shaw plays from Cranford's on Long Street in Cape Town, where Irving Freeman claimed he had a million books; it may not have been a figure of speech. Like an alcoholic trying to walk past a bar, you should see me trying to walk past a used book store.

    Other books I can't throw away because–well, they're books, and you can't throw away a book, can you? The very sight of Quick and Easy Chinese Cooking by Kenneth H. C. Lo quickens my pulse. Its pages are stained by broth, sherry, soy sauce and chicken fat.

  • Seats Of Gold – A writer's experience in the newly-redefined "luxury" seats at the new Yankee Stadium. Fascinating as Wall Street hyper-greed spills into other industries and illustrates how to kill loyalty dead. Hard to summarize this piece, but it's a great case study and a well-written piece as the author documents their own experience supplemented with a lot of background interviews.

Frames of Reference at the Zoo

A morning at the Santa Barbara zoo reveals some interesting frames and reframes.

Donors to the zoo are “Foster Feeders”, a more nurturing and sustaining view of how cash ends up as food.

Adding a card to a parking meter is an attempt to present the payment-for-service device as a donation opportunity. It’s a bit of a leap and maybe not the right connotation for the zoo’s purposes.

You could pay to ride with a plastic giraffe, or you could gaze upon a real one.

Even the benches are up for sponsorship. Here’s a plaque-hole which may simply be a lack of maintenance but gently offers the possibility of Your Name Here.

On display at a new exhibit: Man.

Cockroaches made all the more frightening when a puppeteer-like hand enters the frame to flip them over, pluck out the dead ones, and drop off some food.

Everyone gets the chance to be a zoo animal!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Report: Real-world police forensics don't resemble 'CSI' – Even before the popularity of shows like CSI, there was presumably a cultural belief in the "science" behind these techniques. But the report finds that:
    – Fingerprint science "does not guarantee that two analysts following it will obtain the same results."
    – Shoeprint and tire-print matching methods lack statistical backing, making it "impossible to assess."
    – Hair analyses show "no scientific support for the use of hair comparisons for individualization in the absence of (DNA)."
    – Bullet match reviews show "scientific knowledge base for tool mark and firearms analysis is fairly limited."
    – Bite-mark matches display "no scientific studies to support (their) assessment, and no large population studies have been conducted."
  • NJOY electronic cigarette – Looks like a real cigarette, complete with glowing tip on inhale, and exhaled vapor that resembles smoke. Gives an inhaled nicotine experience, while messaging to the rest of the world that you are really smoking a real lit cigarette. Paging Erving Goffman?

    Someone was using one a party last week; someone else got out their simulated Zippo lighter (an iPhone app) and lit it for them.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Henry: High earner, not rich yet – [Blogging this purely for the acronym]
    "HENRYs, an acronym we'll use to describe people whose financial situation can be summed up by the phrase "high earners, not rich yet." (I coined the term for a Fortune story in 2003 on the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, the bane of the HENRYs.) Put simply, the HENRYs are the bulwark of the professional and entrepreneurial class that drives the economy. Look in the mirror, Fortune reader, and you'll probably see a HENRY."
  • INFLUENCE AT WORK – Proven Science for Business Success – Robert Cialdini's business site for his work on persuasion
  • Robert Cialdini designs program where utility customers get smileys or frownies on their bill in comparison with neighbors – Last April, it began sending out statements to 35,000 randomly selected customers, rating them on their energy use compared with that of neighbors in 100 homes of similar size that used the same heating fuel. The customers were also compared with the 20 neighbors who were especially efficient in saving energy.
  • Coca-Cola Deleting ‘Classic’ From Coke Label – The Coca-Cola Company is dropping the “Classic” from its red labels in some Southeast regions, and the word will be gone from all of its packaging by the summer, the company said Friday. The font size of the “Classic” has been shrinking in the last decade, and the company removed it from labels in Canada in 2007.

    The language on the side of the label where it now says “Coke original formula” will change to say “Coke Classic original formula.” “Every place else in the world it is called Coca-Cola, except for in North America."

Paying for ease-of-use/trust

Yesterday’s NYT Magazine article about the check cashing industry offered an insightful anecdote about the sometimes counter-intuitive tradeoffs people make:

I met Oscar Enriquez leaving the Nix branch in Highland Park, a working-class area near Pasadena. He was skinny and just shy of middle age, with a quick grin and tattoos down his sunburned forearms. Enriquez worked in the neighborhood as a street cleaner; he picks up trash and scrubs graffiti. The job paid about $425 a week, he told me, a good chunk of which he wired to his wife, who has been living in Mississippi and taking care of her ailing mother. He told me he tries to avoid debt whenever he can. “If I don’t have money, I wait until the next payday,” he said firmly. “That’s it.” But he pays a fee to cash his paychecks. Then he pays even more to send a Moneygram to his wife. There’s a bank, just down the street, that could do those things free. I asked him why he didn’t take his business there.

“Oh, man, I won’t work with them no more,” Enriquez explained. “They’re not truthful.”

Two years ago, Enriquez opened his first bank account. “I said I wanted to start a savings account,” he said. He thought the account was free, until he got his first statement. “They were charging me for checks!” he said, still upset about it. “I didn’t want checks. They’re always charging you fees. For a while, I didn’t use the bank at all, they charged like $100 in fees.” Even studying his monthly statements, he couldn’t always figure out why they charged what they charged. Nix is almost certainly more expensive, but it’s also more predictable and transparent, and that was a big deal to Enriquez.

Banks (and phone companies, cable companies, airlines, etc.) are institutions that are not easy to use. There’s a lot of fine print, arcane legalese, hidden fees, and a general lack of transparency. Here’s someone with a limited amount of income that makes the calculation and pays a significant amount of that limited income to avoid going through that. The relationship with the bank failed for Oscar, and he’s paying money to avoid dealing with them.

We normally think of the privileged as those who buy their way out of inconvenience and hassle, but really, it’s something we do at all income levels. It’s just that our experiences frame what is and isn’t a hassle. If we’re middle class then we expect to be jerked around by Big Business because we have all our lives-as-consumers. If we’re lower class and we haven’t had those experiences, it may be less likely that we’ll tolerate them.

See what happens when you don’t listen to your consultant? Or Bad Interface Brings Apocalypse

About a year ago we worked with a client who designed and developed financial trading software. We were immersed in the arcana of this century’s financial markets, learning about Credit Default Swaps, or as they are known to the financiscenti, CDS. Our time with our client and their customers (rogueish but not rogue traders) was an educational journey into a power-oriented, confrontational, macho culture. Indeed, this organization was a rocky place where our recommendations could find no purchase.

Now, here we collectively stand with our mutual fund statements as smoking ruins in our fists and the arcana is now mainstreama, with headlines like $62 Trillion Credit Default Swaps Threaten U.S. Government Bonds as common as can be.

Two responses: i) I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove anything. ii) We told you so.

Huzzah! Free money!


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently agreed to reduce their Registrar Transaction Fee from $.25 to $.22. What does this mean for you?

Good news. You have been credited $.03/yr for each domain name you registered or renewed dating back to July 1, 2006* — $.03 has been placed into your Go Daddy account with this customer number: xxxx.

Your in-store credit will be applied to your purchases at until it’s gone or for up to 12 months, whichever comes sooner.

It’d be cool if I could donate this with one click, presumably there’s enough of these refunds going about that as useless as they are to the individual (unless you register a great deal of domain names) they would add up to something of some worth.

Solicitation Chutzpah

About a year ago, an editor at New Design Magazine pursued me aggressively to write an article for them, based on what they’d seen on this blog and elsewhere on the web. We batted around some ideas and I agreed to do it. They weren’t going to pay me, which sucks, but is somewhat par-for-the-course in our content-bloated world.

It got awkward when they did agree to pay an author I referred them to (a colleague of mine), and further awkward when my piece (created under a serious publication deadline) didn’t appear. Indeed, trying to find out what was happening with my piece was difficult; they just stopped returning my messages once they had their free article. As far as I know, they never ran it, but they never communicated any final decision back to me, either.

Perhaps this serves me right for not insisting on payment, and for not having any sort of formal agreement. But if they are going to use karmic currency, they better get their account back in balance. I’m obviously never going to write for them again.

So it was astonishing to see a solicitation in my email today, inviting me to purchase print advertising in their magazine. Now I should give them money? “The cost for each full page would be ¬£950, but new design will go fifty:50 with you on this rate. You pay just ¬£475.”

Shyeah, right.


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