Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, September 10, 2021

Four Things

1. I am not certain, but I believe it was through the Yaron Brook Show that I heard that Leonard Peikoff's excellent course, The Art of Thinking, is available on YouTube.

I've been working my way through it when driving lately and I can't recommend it strongly enough.

For example, the first session, "Clarity Through Volition," describes a brilliant sort of mind hack on steroids one can use to prevent oneself from being hobbled by mis-integration while attempting to achieve clarity about an area of knowledge.

It has been some time since I have heard Peikoff speak: I had forgotten just how dynamic and insightful he is. I usually remember courses I have taken before, but this one seems new to me. Regardless, I am enjoying this course and learning a lot in the bargain.

2. The Internet Movie Data Base says it will be out in December, but I heard from this half-hour podcast by the Genetic Literacy Project that there was to be a screening recently in Los Angeles.

Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see if Big Fears Little Risks helps people overcome anti-scientific misconceptions.

The web page for the movie features a trailer, but the podcast interview with Matty Cardarople, who spoke to various scientists on the film did more to get me interested in the film than the trailer.

3. "We don't want blood. We want tickets," was the rallying cry of British Hoover customers at one point during the worst sales promotion in history.

Things started off plausibly enough as a partnership between the appliance maker and a travel agency with lots of international flights to unload. Hoover would offer free international flights to people who made a minimum purchase -- and were patient enough to deal with lots of hoops to jump through.

Hoover got away with that, but then?
Under a new promotion, that same £100 Hoover purchase could net a UK-based customer two free round-trip flights to New York or Orlando -- a package worth £600+ (£1200, or $1,460 USD, today).

When Hoover ran this plan by risk management professionals, the company was warned that it would be an absolute disaster.

"To me it made no logical sense," recalled Mark Kimber, one of the consultants. "Having looked at the details of the promotion [and] attempting to calculate how it would actually work I declined to even offer risk management coverage," recalled Mark Kimber.

Unfortunately, Hoover chose to ignore this advice.
The whole morbidly interesting, slow-motion train wreck would have cost the company over £171,000,000 in 1992 money had it been able to honor its word.

4. And speaking of strange sales promotions, I'll give Blaze Pizza of Des Moines creativity points. They once offered free pizza in exchange for being tattooed with their logo. To my surprise, the tattoos weren't free:
The $40 flame tattoo comes with 24 free pizzas and the $65 Blaze name logo comes with 48 free pizzas as part of the promotion, said Lyndsey Palmer, owner of Twisted Ink in Des Moines. This equates to about $200 and $400 in free pies.
The flame sounds from the story sounds more like an ordinary tattoo than being branded for life with a trade mark. But whatever: Doing that for pizza sounds like something Homer Simpson would do, and I'm not a tattoo guy, anyway.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

Speaking of badly thought out promotions, one of the car dealers in SLC offered a "buy a car from us and we'll pay 3 months of your utility bills!"

One of my grandmother's neighbors had a HUUUUUUUUGE house. And a monthly utility bill of about $20,000. (He owned an oil company.)

So he went in to take advantage of the promotion. The sales manager freaked!

They would've had to pay him to take any car on the lot under the terms of the promotion. He agreed to take the car for dealer invoice. (Which still leaves plenty of money on the table for the dealership.)

I don't believe they ever re-ran that promotion.

c andrew

Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, No. 3 reminds me of the train wreck of Edgar Wallace's once-famous The Four Just Men. Quoth Wiki:

Enthusiastic, but without any substantial managerial skill, Wallace had also made a far more serious error. He ran the FJM serial competition in the Daily Mail but failed to include any limitation clause in the competition rules restricting payment of the prize money to one winner only from each of the three categories. Only after the competition had closed and the correct solution printed as part of the final chapter denouement did Wallace learn that he was legally obliged to pay every person who answered correctly the full prize amount in that category; if six people got the 1st Prize answer right, he would have to pay not £250 but 6 × £250, or £1500, if three people got the 2nd Prize it would be £600 and so on.

Additionally, though his advertising gimmick had worked as the novel was a bestseller, Wallace discovered that instead of his woefully over-optimistic three months, FJM would have to continue selling consistently with no margin of error for two full years to recoup the £2,500 he had mistakenly believed he needed to break even. Unfortunately during this period the number of entrants correctly guessing the right answer continued to rise inexorably. Wallace's response was to simply ignore the situation, but circumstances were ominous. As 1906 began and continued without any list of prize winners being printed, more and more suspicions were being voiced about the honesty of the competition. In addition, for a working-class Edwardian family, £250 was a fortune and since those who were winners knew it (courtesy of the published solution) they had been waiting impatiently for the prize to be paid out. Harmsworth, having refused the initial £1,000 loan, was furious at having now to loan over £5,000 to protect the newspaper's reputation because Wallace couldn't pay.

Wallace was basically a writing machine--and he had to be, given the financial train wreck he so often made of his life: "Wallace narrated his words onto wax cylinders (the dictaphones of the day) and his secretaries typed up the text. This may be why he was able to work at such high speed and why his stories have narrative drive. Many of Wallace's successful books were dictated like this over two or three days, locked away with cartons of cigarettes and endless pots of sweet tea, often working pretty much uninterrupted in 72 hours." There is a most entertaining inside view of Wallace's working methods in a post at The Passing Tramp.

Full disclosure: I've read a couple of his mystery short stories, I think, that showed up in anthologies; I've not been highly motivated to seek his stuff out.

Gus Van Horn said...

C and Snedcat,

Those are great! Thanks for passing them along!