State of Software Amateurism

OSuseage2014During the winter months, I was wrapped up in more than a couple discussions with kids who consider themselves to be computer experts (by profession, at the least) who believe that if you aren’t using the latest OS, you are a hillbilly. As of March 2014, the above chart reflects US computer OS use, per a pretty large sample survey.

The statistic that most interests me is “Other,” the 1.99% of users whose technology was, apparently, unimportant to the surveyors. On a recent trip to New Mexico, I met a surprising number of people who run their businesses on old versions of Windows: all the way back to a law office using Windows for Workgroups 3.11, a graphic artist using windows 98, a collection of small business owners who network and advertise their group on the web using tools from Windows 95, and several people still on Vista. While we were camped at Elephant Butte State Park, I met a 60’s rock star and I listened to his music recorded on a 1970’s TASCAM 80-8 1/2” reel-to-reel in a camper trailer. He gave me a copy of the soon-to-be-released CD bounced down to MP3 on a free version of studio editing software long-ago-absorbed by Adobe.

The OS-users’ pie chart chart sort of reflects my own experience, although a bit optimistically. Microsoft has been working overtime to convince WinXP users to evacuate the building since the company has ceased “support” of XP. Of course, real computer IT and user types know Microsoft is bullshitting us. Support for business XP users will continue for a while and you can tag on to that gravy train easily. Less obvious is the fact that hackers write hacks for the biggest bang for the buck. The real reason Apple’s OS X is fairly “safe” from identity thieves is that a scant 6-7% of computer users are Apple computer owners. If you really want to be hack-free, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 might be your best bet. Running MSDOS might be the closest thing to total security possible.

Soon, it won’t matter much what sort of PC computer OS you run because the majority of computer users will be tablet and phone nerds. The industry expects tablet sales to almost double desk and laptop PC sales by 2017. Mobile phones are already selling at 5X the PC rate and will approach 10X PC sales in 2017. The smart hacker is already up into your phones’ butt right now and heading for the digestive system.

The kids who run computer companies, especially the technologically inbred CEO/CFO/COO types, could care less about security, since they are in no way obligated by law for the incredible financial losses their companies are responsible for creating. While you have to marvel at the royal way these blessed-by-corruption organizations are treated, as a consumer we need to be more than a little bit suspicious of anything they tell us. The fact is, I believe, the only reason for owning any sort of computer is practical. These instruments are nearly useless as educational devices, incredibly limited as news distribution sources, and as inclined to continue the dumbing-down of our degraded and degenerating species as television. So, worrying about whether we are using the latest version of some half-baked, user-hostile bullshit software or hardware is self-destructive. If you can accomplish whatever work you need to be doing with whatever tool you have in your office, closet, classroom, or business, you are sufficiently up-to-date.


#64 A Lost Role Model (2002)

All Rights Reserved © 2002 Thomas W. Day

My grandmother died in the summer of 2002.  She was 85 years old and, if Women's Studies and MBA programs actually reflected serious scholarship of their subjects, she would be a recognized hero in both of those programs.  She and my grandfather were the two best business managers in the history of capitalism.  I know this for a collection of reasons and personal experiences.

When I last visited her, while she was sleeping and I stood on her back porch, remembering better times in that house and looking out over her large yard, I saw memories of a collection of young boys mowing that yard.  This may not seem like a big thing, but of the two dozen sons, grandsons (including me), great-grandsons, and our friends, none ever resented doing that work.  Some of us were paid for the work, some of us volunteered, and all of us did the job as well as we could.  Our motivation was that we knew we were appreciated and we were doing the job because we wanted to be doing it.  Working conditions that put teenage boys into that frame of mind is the kind of management talent that almost never exists.

My grandmother exercised that kind of skill in almost every area of her own small business.  She and my grandfather ran a flooring business, with a dozen or more employees.  Over the years, several of their employees took the experience and skills they obtained in my grandparents' employment and began their own businesses.  Many others spent the overwhelming bulk of their personal careers working for my grandparents.  The loyalty of their past and upwardly mobile employees remained in place for at least a decade after my grandparents retired from their businesses. 

They left a legacy of customer loyalty, also.  Their customers ranged from the most to the least wealthy and, if you watched my grandmother help a customer pick materials, you would not be able to tell which end of the financial spectrum the customer belonged.   She was the first class-blind person I'd known.  You could credit that attribute to her own early struggle to survive, but I think it was more than that.  She was also culture and color-blind.  Without a sign of patronizing, she treated everyone who came into her store with the same quiet, interested, helpful grace that, outside of her store, I’d only seen on English movies.  I think it was her nature rather than her conditioning that gave her this unique, ideal American quality.  Some people rise above their surroundings seemingly oblivious to the attitudes and standards of the time and place.  She was one of those people. 

As the years pass, my reasons to visit Kansas diminish.  Like much of the Midwest, the cream of my class long moved away to the coasts or the warm states.  Like electrons fleeing the Big Bang, the family is dispersed and continues to migrate away from the center.  The state is dingier, more depressed and more depressing each time I visit.  A bright spot was always my grandmother's house.  An afternoon with her, drinking coffee and watching sports and talking about her life, my life, and what we thought it all meant made the 1800 mile roundtrip a lot shorter, going both directions. 

Now, she's gone.  No one can take the place of the woman who gave me my first job, who gave me encouragement when I lost courage, who taught me the real values of education and independence, and the lady who told me to follow my heart regardless of her opinion of the direction. 

It has taken me a year to finish this piece.  I can't remember her without missing her.  My hometown is less, by more than half, my hometown without her there.  The depth of my family is reduced to a small fraction of its population without her in it.  Some people are so constant, so dependable, so make the world seem complete in their presence that in their absence the entire world is reduced.  They are irreplaceable.  My grandmother is irreplaceable.  Not just in my family, but in the world she touched.  I will never forget her and I will do what I can to make sure others know and remember what she taught me.

August 2002


#62 Surprise, Surprise! (2002)

All Rights Reserved © 2002 Thomas W. Day

I'm sure that my regular readers will be amazed to see that I'm not surprised that the press has suddenly discovered that a whole lot of executives are bottom-feeding, scum-sucking, back-stabbing, money-grubbing crooks.  The Washington Post published an article titled, "In Blossoming Scandal, Culprits Are Countless."  NewsMax.com titled their recent discovery, "How Corporate Crooks Cook the Books." 

"Well, duh," I might reply to one of the API's finest, interrupting an academic description of this amazing revelation.  But nobody's asking me, so I'll just keep Rat Ranting into the void (except for those of you who stand on the edge of the void tossing in pennies and making wishes). 

Enron, WorldCom, Xerox, Tyco, Global Crossing, Sunbeam, Informix, Summit Medical, Martha Stewart, and on goes the list until everything listed on the New York Stock Exchange will be duplicated in the criminal court system.    The funniest bits in all of the make-believe outrage, come from Prince Georgie's court jesters and the education system.  Jeffrey Garten, dean of Yale University's School of Management, admitted, "Even those of us at business schools are implicated. It's not like the educational establishment sounded any warning. We were cheerleaders, too." Cheerleaders?  Right, they were teaching the crooks how to be better crooks.  If the MBA programs were sounding any warnings it would have been to the crooks they were teaching to be better crooks. 

One of George II's first acts as president was to reduce the SEC's staff by 56 securities investigators.  Who would have guessed that the stock market would be the next target for Republican leash-holders?  Bush is just following Republican tradition.  Reagan did a similar hack job on the FDIC, the folks who monitored the savings and loan mafia, and provided middleclass taxpayers with a tidy $18-billion dollar debt. 

It looks like Prince George is going for the record, though.  A senator recently stated that the money scammed from American corporations could have funded national health insurance; twice.  Good thing the House beat back Hillary's health insurance program, how would Rolls Royce have survived without the trickle-down from all that hard stolen cash?  The bad news is that RR died anyway?  You'd think trickle-down would be more effective than that. 

My theory on stock crashes and depression/recessions is simple.  When middle America loses faith in the integrity and intelligence of the ruling class, the economic house of cards collapses.  (Yes, Virginia.  We do have a ruling class in this country.) 

Contrary to the fantasies imagined and promoted by the press, the education system, and politics, it doesn't matter what the rich and powerful think of themselves.  The rich and powerful are not critical to the function or success of the country.  Just as executives have no useful function to the companies they mismanage, that same ilk is equally useless to the nation in general.  Their best practice is to stay invisible, do as little as possible, and try not to hinder progress or daily business and social function. 

I've been saying, for decades, that an instant and fatal disease that struck the upper offices of 99% of the country's government and corporations would take weeks to detect.  It might even be months before anyone discovered those offices were full of reeking bodies.  Their participation is so self-serving that they have rendered themselves unnecessary.  Executive contribution is rarely anything more than a detriment. Most execs' capabilities are limited to back-stabbing and self-enrichment, which does nothing useful for the actual function of a business. What would most likely spur the discover of a floor full of exec fatalities would be an investigation of a sudden burst of productivity.  The press would have to put a stop to that kind of activity as soon as possible. 

It appears that the ruling class has gone too far and the middle class, who control about 10% of the nation's total wealth, are finding that 10% is what props up the 90%.  It will be interesting to see what it takes, and how long it takes, how much spin-doctoring it takes, to convince the working class that the idiots at the top aren't complete fools.  Now that is a real marketing job. 

August 2002


Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

On Texas Senator and all-around screw-ball Teddy Cruz’s Facebook site, where he’d asked for comments on the ACA (“Obamacare” for the racists in the audience), a military character (current or ex) reprimanded someone who questioned why the military should have different healthcare privileges than the rest of us. He repeated the old threat, “Support our troops: stand behind them or stand in front of them.” This is the issue, isn’t it? The military, the fatal flaw in every failing or failed empire, stands apart from the nation’s citizens and insists on special privilege, unrestricted access to the nation’s treasure, and the general public’s complete obedience. The more they are given, the more they take and the more they feel they deserve. In the end, they will turn on the citizens they pretend to serve and overthrow whatever government they were created to protect. The sad fact is warriors are not citizens and they have no interest in being mere members of society. Like gangs of men throughout history, armed men without a clear purpose are a danger to society and completely antithetical to democracy.

The Greeks, Romans, British, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Germans, and ,now the United States of America have all been overrun internally by their own militarism. When the elites take over the function of the military for their own purposes, the military becomes mercenary. Mercenaries have no loyalty to any nation, political system, political ruler, or neighborhood. They probably don’t even have families, as a normal human might understand the concept.

Procreating As an Act of Selfishness

Once upon a time, it was probably necessary for people to be encouraged to reproduce. Once total human population exceeded 100,000 that was pretty much an obsolete consideration. The more we humans have learned about the way the world works, the more one-sided the whole parenthood thing has become. We’re not having kids because we want to bring children into this wonderful world. We have kids because misery loves company, especially small, cute and cuddly, innocent company. In other words, parenting is an act of pure selfishness.

Some parents are clearly more selfish than others. In traditional farming families that selfishness is apparent and relatively unabashed. Farmers had kids to save on the cost of hired hands. 1800’s American farmers were so ruthless about making their kids into farm slaves that a fair number of them ran away to work at jobs that most of us would think were a hell of a lot nastier than farm labor. Some became famous for a variety of activities: Bat and Ed Masterson, William Hickok, the Earp's, the James and Younger boys, Sam Bass, the Daltons, and a good number of the rum-runners of the Prohibition Era. Farm kids were supposed to be the local equivalent of Social Security, but most kids with good sense took the first opportunity to escape that fate.  A lot of agricultural communities took this approach so to their hearts that they created “county farms”; prisons masquerading as farms for the profit and entertainment of the local 1%. If you can’t guilt ‘em into staying on the farm, chain them to it.

Today, the excuse for bearing children is even more primitive: the biological clock bullshit. We know the chances are excellent that our children will live much less happy lives than we did. Every generation since the turn of the last century has been more unhappy, less secure, less confident, and more likely to die a miserable death than the previous generation. “Greatest Generation” bullshit aside, my parents’ generation had considerably better lives than mine has been, with job security, satisfaction, and community that my generation never experienced. My kids’ have had fewer of those things than me and their kids are moving into a society that has collapsed into corporate oligarchy, a world with vanishing natural resources and increasing ecological threat, and considerably less likelihood of survival for dozens of unavoidable causes than any time in human history. Since the Great Depression, we’ve had dozens of “mini-depressions” in my lifetime. Every “recovery” has been weaker. Every crash has been deeper and more fundamentally damaging to the social structure. The two most stated reasons for having children in this precarious world are “it will make me feel fulfilled” and “who’s going to pay for my Social Security?” Both are viciously selfish reasons.

Some of the ways the world might die are less our fault and, ideally, will cause less suffering. I don’t even care about the possible Large Hadron Collider experiment catastrophe. While it’s probably stupid to experiment with creating the end of the world just because we can, at least that would be a nearly instantaneous worldwide death. Suffering would be minimal, since we’ll all get sucked into a black hole in a matter of seconds. The idea that out of sheer laziness we’re unconcerned with the planet’s destruction by an asteroid strike doesn’t bother me, either. It might take a week or even a few months for the impact and fallout to wipe out most or all of human life, but most of us will be gone in seconds. Yeah, we could have prepared for this, instead of spending trillions on ways to kill each other for fun and profit, but it wasn’t our fault. The fact is, the universe hates order and life is the ultimate ordered energy. Entropy is the closest thing to a “god” the universe provides and entropy is all about death. So the gods want us dead, who are we to disagree?

We know humans are about to cause the Sixth Extinction. It’s hard to imagine a worse fate than to be witness to the total destruction of life on earth due to human inactivity, greed, and stupidity. I’m ok with being a victim of my generation’s greed and stupidity. I’m less ok with my kids and grandkids having to be part of that. (To be honest, I don’t care all that much about your kids’ suffering, though. That will be your responsibility.) Living through the effects of climate change are likely to be long, painful, and miserable. The future we’ve created for our kids is going to be pure torture. Stuff your happy thoughts up your ass because this is not going to be a fun ride for them.

There is a kind of insufferable optimism in the act of parenting from which I have never experienced. In 1973, the movie Soylent Green accurately depicted the fate I have fully expected to live to see since I was about ten years old. When I first saw the movie, it felt like a realization of my own dreams rather than a creation from someone else’s mind. Today, Hollywood would tack a silly happy ending on Soylent Green; like the bullshit ending of Elysium. That ain’t gonna happen. No lone hero is going to pull us out of this mess. The 1% are not going to let go of the steering wheel until we’re all well over the cliff and screaming toward our painful deaths. It’s our fault, too. Life is class warfare and anyone who isn’t fighting against the ruling elite is fighting for them. If we cared about our children, even a little, we’d be committed to this battle right now. But we don’t. We’re not that kind of animal.


#61 Old and In the Way (2002)

All Rights Reserved © 2002 Thomas W. Day

A lot of companies are really misplacing a lot of trust into HR's systems of "evaluating" employees. The state-of-the-business HR-PC term for the current boondoggle is "ranking."  Ranking has become a popular MBA-kind of thing to do, especially in the cubes of the misFortune 500-5000.  An interesting side-effect is that companies (like Ford, Microsoft, Goodyear, Conoco, and GE) are finding themselves in court, a lot, for the way ranking works in the real world. 

The theory is that if the performance of one employee is compared to other employees, management can find a true value for the output of each individual cog in the wheel.  It's a lovely theory and like most of the weirdness that comes from the minds (applied loosely) of MBAs, it's flawed.  Mostly, because it depends on the competence and fairness of the manager doing the comparing.  Talk about a system that was doomed from conception!

To apply a sports comparison, ranking is very much like valuing a player based only on his stats. Lots of players, especially in the severely screwed-up pro-sports gangland, have found that it's a lot easier to generate impressive personal stats than it is to make a useful contribution to the success of the team.  Since most team owners come from successful careers in corporate backstabbing, the stats-first players have become very rich from this economic discovery.  Players who haven't learned this lesson are coming up to speed quickly and fans are noticing the difference in their favorite teams a lot faster than the owners are catching on.  As usual, management is the last to know what's going on, if it ever figures it out.

One of the consistent outcomes of ranking is that older, more experienced, sometimes more expensive employees seem to rank lower than their younger coworkers.  You might suspect that this is a sign that management is trying to weed out older and more experienced talent, but I suspect you'd be over-estimating the management's cleverness.  Mostly, this seems to be a symptom of management's unfamiliarity with how teams work. Not being team players, it shouldn't be surprising that MBAs don't know much about being contributing members of a team. 

I think the real reason many older employees are getting low ratings is that they've either failed to adapt to the new idiotic rules or don't feel compelled to do so, for personal reasons.  The most valuable team contributors, like their sports counterparts, make everyone around them better.  If a group is really going to shine brighter than the sum of its individual points of light, something has to happen to focus the electrons.  That "something" is usually an internal leader and almost never management.  It's possible that a team-oriented player could come from youth, but it doesn't seem to happen all that often.  Usually, it's experience that creates teamwork and experience isn't usually a characteristic of youth.  So, in MBA-think's usual anti-wisdom, ranking is cutting the guts out of the thing it's trying to optimize. 

It's also true that management, in its eternal battle to take credit where credit isn't due and turn silk purses into sows' ears, is snatching defeat from the mouth of victory.  The only companies that can afford stupid practices like ranking are those who have resources to waste.  In other words, companies that were successful in the past.  In paring away the company's experience and history, companies are setting themselves up for failure and inefficiency.  What ranking might accomplish, in the long run, will be to provide start-up companies with experienced, talented, team-oriented employees who may be specially equipped and motivated to do damage to past employers. 

We can only hope.

July 2002


What Are Conservatives For?

There are a couple of ways that questions could be asked and answered. Today, I think US conservatives do not stand for anything. They want to “bring back” religion into politics and education, two places where religion has historically been a catastrophic disaster. US pseudo-conservatives would like to relive the 1950s, with absolutely no guilt about racism, sexism, intolerance, and the prosperity of the 1950s without the 90% upper income tax rate, the low national debt, the general lack of recreational wars, the nasty hard work of manufacturing and low cost universal education, and, most of all, without the threat of stagnation and being overtaken by the future. That doesn’t even qualify as a delusion. That sort of mindless wistfulness is purely insanity.

That’s not the question I want to answer, though. I’m more interested in the purpose of conservatives. And there is a purpose. To put it simply, the “larger animal,” as Robert Pirsig put it in Lila; an Inquiry Into Morals, needs and craves stability; the status quo.The higher animal is, in Pirsig’s terms, society. In our current society, corporations are an animal even higher in the food chain than government, what most sociologists might consider to be the driving force in societies.

In most ways, conservatives are the forgotten parking brake of society. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that “the only constant in nature is change.” However, a basic character of all animals is a fear of change. Humans are more animal than most. The majority of humans are conservative and terrified of change. Well over 50% of us are confirmed conservatives in most of our attitudes; probably closer to 90%, in fact.

The reason for this panic reaction to on-going change is the desire to prevent things from going from bad to worse. This is a solid, well-founded fear. However, when we are actually not undergoing the stress of bad times, the conservative fear change because it will alter the status, power, and wealth of the ruling elite; exactly the group who will (as they always do) bring on bad times with their extravagance, greed, corruption, incompetence, and arrogance.

Good times are exactly the moment when a nation should be doing basic maintenance, just like a well-run business (at least as rare as well-run countries). Instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted with toys, mindless entertainment, and other useless bullshit, we ought to be taking our spare moments and using them for the future good. We ought to be doing the things that need doing to keep the good times rolling.

The problem with poor insight is that we easily forget the purpose of things. In the same way too many US citizens have forgotten the militia obligation in their precious second amendment (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”), humans quickly forget the “bad to worse” purpose of trying to hold back change and delude themselves into believing that all change is bad: quite naturally, since change is naturally resisted under all conditions.

Too many US citizens calling themselves “conservative” are considerably less than that. Since they actually imagine they can turn back the clock on change they are better identified as “pseudo-conservatives.” Only idiots imagine they have any control of time and even bigger fools imagine that using terrorist tactics will convince people who are not terrified of change to become as timid as pseudo-conservatives regarding obvious issues with obvious conclusions. The problem they miss comprehending is that working from a base point of fear will not make you brave, but it will make you do cowardly things:

While conservatives often portray themselves as being brave individuals, they are pack-following, timid old ladies in character. The breakdown of a recent poll of US citizens’ opinion on marijuana legalization is illustrative. The big opponents of change (legalization) are women, the 45-and-older crowd, and Republicans. The strongest opponents to legalization are old Republican women, the world’s most conservative (as in “timid”) group. Nobody is more risk adverse than conservative women, especially old women. Oddly, even the conservative groups put the known risk of (in this order) alcohol (69% to 15%), tobacco, and sugar above marijuana, but they do not advocate regulating or outlawing those products because that would mean incurring dreaded change.

For me, all of this has resulted in a mild improvement in my regard of actual conservatives. On the rare occasion I have the opportunity to talk with someone who is knowledgeable, insightful, and honestly concerned that the changes made in society will bring us closer to some real (not imagined) bad consequences, I listen. Too many conservatives typify John Stuart Mill’s analysis, “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” In the simplified eye of modern corporate media, all Democrats are liberals (or “lib-tards” to the not-so-bright Teabaggers). Any reading of modern or historic American politics would deny that assumption. There are stupid people wearing red or blue hats and neither have the qualities required to be called “liberal.” They are simply afraid of changes in different areas of society. They are both, to some extent, worried that change will make things worse than they imagine they already are and neither have the imagination to consider how bad things will get if change doesn’t occur.


#60 Marketing? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Marketing (2002)

All Rights Reserved © 2002 Thomas W. Day

The Internet economy died when marketing gurus decided that website ads were ineffective. How they made that decision is about as logical as all of the rest of marketing decisions.

Take, for instance, television advertising. Nothing costs more than television advertising, except government. How does a company know its advertising dollar produces income? The Nielsen Media Research rating system. How do the Nielsen ratings determine a program is "popular?" The criteria for a Nielsen'er "watching" a program is that the folks with the Nielsen monitors have left their TVs on a program for at least 5 minutes. Those five minutes don't have to be five minutes of advertising, either. Just any old five minutes will do.  They don't even have to be in the room for those five minutes.  If you turn on the tube, head for the bathroom, and leave the People Meter on that channel for five minutes, up go the ratings.  This isn't a major sample, either.  5,000 television households with "People Meters" plus less complete data collected from 20,000 additional homes makes the rating decision for a nation of 280 million people. 

Pretty scientific, don't you think?

The ABC attempt to buy Letterman to replace their evening news is based on the idea that people will go to bed, leaving their boob tubes on ABC (and Letterman, who certainly bores me to sleep), and wake up to Diane Sawyer.  Bingo, they catch five minutes of "viewing time" before the viewer throws his shoe at the tube and money is made.  That's all it takes to collect rating points. 

What would you spend for the science behind that kind of advertising clout? Personally, I'd rather have a website ad. I'm not convinced that website ads work, either.  I'm not convinced that any ads work at all.  If they do, I'm specially discouraged with my fellow man (or men), since the majority of television ads target the boys-to-men crowd, between the ages of 15 and 35.  If the crap I see on the tube actually convinced guys to buy stuff . . . I guess we're morons. 

Moving off of that depressing thought process, I'll admit that, obviously, ads do something. Otherwise, George Bush II wouldn't be in office. Still, marketing gurus seem to think that the 18-35 year old male is especially stupid, vulnerable to advertising, in other words. I guess it's possible that 18-35 year old males elected Bush. I have to say that's a disturbing thought.  On several levels. 

The only marketing rule I sort of trust is that any positive publicity is Good; free publicity is Really Good.

Television ads, at their best, don't seem to amount to much more than Not Bad.  Good simply can't apply to ad space that costs $500,000 per minute.   Word-of-mouth is Very Good, because it's free and it has credibility.  Paid media ads, again, barely crawl up to Not Bad because modern media has absolutely no credibility (somewhere under used car salesmen) and it's expensive.  Even newspapers have managed to sell off their credibility as unbiased information sources in the pursuit of immediate cash.  The best we can say about the "traditional media" is that they are well paid corporate prostitutes.  I'll leave the worst for the imaginations of my friends and readers. 

So, with that understanding in mind, why does anyone with good sense spend serious money on advertising?  Some of these products are so awful that if it weren't for new suckers they wouldn't have any customers at all.  Most advertisers depend, completely, on the concept that "there's a sucker born every millisecond" (modified to account for overpopulation) and the core corporate belief that "no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."   Those idiotic Mentos ads are the biggest waste of resources since the Vietnam War or proof positive that humans are direct-controlled by the idiot box. 

I'm guessing that the answer to my question is that people spending really big money on advertising don't have good sense. In the last two decades, marketing folks have done a bang-up job of avoiding quality control and accounting scrutiny.  Execs don't want those budgets examined closely because that's where the really cool corporate perks are hidden.  Hanging out with media goofs, spending buckets of money on fluff and happenstance,  engaging in activities that can't be quantified or even identified is the kind of life that people become execs to live.  I'd do it, if I weren't busy cleaning my toenails and restringing my guitar.

If all that hasn't convinced you, here's my real, most incontrovertible evidence that marketers are brain damaged.  It took 32 years for a car manufacturer to realize that Ides of March's hit, "Vehicle" was custom made to be a car ad.  Sylvester Stallone (for his seriously awful movie Lock Out) even discovered the song a dozen years before the marketing experts.  If that's not embarrassing, what is?  Case closed.

June 2002