Seventy Years On, Television Revealed As Evil

September 10, 2019

As we approach the start of the Fall season on North American TV, I am reminded of an editorial in the Highland Echo, Commercial Drive’s local paper, that took a prescient view of television.  They described it as:

just one more of the influences currently being brought to bear on the American people to render them incapable of independent thought and independent decisions.”

Not much to add to that really.

The date of the editorial?  30th November, 1950.

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A Day of Anniversaries

August 26, 2019

Today is the 80th anniversary of the first televised MLB game.  The Brooklyn Dodgers played the Cincinnati Reds at Ebert Field, and a whole new class of couch potatoes was born.

 

 

 

Today is also the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the Mini car, which revolutionized transportation, especially in England.  The designer, Alex Issigones, was knighted for his efforts.

 

 


Mass Killings In the US

August 5, 2019

After the two latest mass killings in the States this weekend, President Trump declared that a primary cause of these killings was that kids play too many violent video games.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace,” Trump said in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately.”

One simple chart proves him wrong, as usual:

Of course, this Administration never likes to have facts get in the way of a good campaign speech.

Thanks to Vox for this.


The Rise And Fall (And Rise?) of Subway

August 3, 2019

The following is an interesting 8 minute documentary by Business Insider on the rise and fall of Subway restaurants. They still have the largest number of stores of any fast food outlet on the planet but have recently faced difficulties. Do they have a future?    This is a useful look at modern retailing.


Kids and Dirt

June 25, 2019

A new report from the Royal Society for Public Health suggests that health is not affected by too much cleanliness.  They agree that kids should play in the dirt but parents should make sure they wash their hands.  Fair enough.  I wrote the following some while ago and still believe in it.

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When I was a kid, I bet I ate a whole field’s worth of dirt as I played.  My mates and I mucked around in the Thames which, in those days, was little better than a sewer; we got colds and upset stomachs and simply ran them off, more as likely in pouring rain.  Sometimes we got real diseases like mumps and measles but they were considered age appropriate and we all knew it would be over in a week or two.  If any of us had suggested we had an allergy to peanut butter, say, then we would have been stuffed with it until we got over it.  We spent our childhoods shaking hands with every germ and bacteria on the ground and in the air and we grew up to be a fairly healthy generation.

These days parents protect their kids from any kind of contamination and we have the sickest kids in history, I bet.  Many parents pride themselves on keeping their home environments as — or more — sterile than hospitals.  And yet their children have allergies to this and contra-indications to that.  They are as clean as they can be and they are sick as dogs.

I believe there is a direct relationship between the health of kids and the amount of dirt they eat.  The more bugs they collect early in life, the better immunities they develop later; and the more sniffles they get as a child the less likely they are to show hypochondriac tendencies as adults.  To put it another way, the less a household pays in cleansing and sanitizing and “protecting” their kids, the less they will need to spend in health care costs later.

This change from healthy dirt to dangerous prophylaxis has occurred within my lifetime.  How did it come about?  Marketing and capitalism, that’s how.

By the 1940s and 1950s, major industrial cleaning companies had developed a whole range of cleaning solutions.  No one really needed them, but the marketers set out to convince parents, mothers especially, that they were doing their children great harm if they did not use their products.  They used fear as the primary motivation — not only fear of sickness in their kids, but more viscerally the fear of appearing to be a bad mother. And they succeeded perhaps beyond their wildest dreams.

And now we are all paying for it, with a generation of children with allergies and neuroses and medical conditions that were almost unknown fifty years ago.  It sure did the Johnson & Johnsons and the Hoovers of the world a lot of good financially, but is this really progress?

 


A Screen By Any Other Name …

June 11, 2019

We are, apparently, at the very cusp  of history where the use of mobile screens by US adults exceeds the use of TV screens.

“We’ve expected that mobile would overtake TV for a while, but seeing it happen is still surprising,” said Yoram Wurmser, eMarketer principal analyst. “As recently as 2014, the average US adult watched nearly 2 hours more TV than they spent on their phones.”  What are people spending time on their devices doing? They’re consistently spending the bulk of their time using apps over web browsers, with the average person spending 2:57 in apps vs. 0:26 on a mobile browser. Within apps, people spent the most time listening to digital audio, followed by social network activity. “Digital audio apps continue to add minutes because people are streaming more music on their phones, and podcasts have taken off in popularity in the past few years,” Wurmser said.

The movies begat television, and television begat YouTube, Fortnite and music streaming on smart phones.  What happens next?


When Yo-Yos Were The Thing

May 24, 2019

Do you remember a year or two back when it was impossible to escape the marketing web for fidget spinners. They were everywhere, everyone gave them away.  Looking back, at just about the time I got interested in girls, the hula hoop was king.  Well, even before that there was a time when the fad was yo-yos:

Image: Vancouver Sun, 1933/4/19, p.12

Good to see our local shops were keeping up with the trends!