Friday, June 30, 2006

There is no Alternative to Victory!

I have just begun using MindManager at work. It is a way cool application for connecting thoughts and ideas and plans. It is very intuitive. I have started using it at home, too. It turns out there's a blog for it and they have contests for the best use of the tool.

Victory shall be ours! The Feline Theocracy must triumph! Jacob, begin the sacred chanting that we may be inspired.

Feline feline feline ohhhmmmmm feline feline feline ohhhmmmmm...

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San Diego Sky

Here in San Diego we don't get many dramatic skies. The weather is typically either clear or hazy and so you miss those grand, sweeping vistas of clouds you get elsewhere. Recently there was a storm down Mexico way that sent a delegation of clouds up to visit. Here's what it looked like a few nights ago right after sunset.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bizarre Blogspot Behavior

I've had more problems uploading photos with Blogger and have seen some really bizarre behavior. I just finished my latest World of Good post, directly below this one, after fighting with blogger for a half a day trying to upload photos. I had fully written the post and was just trying to insert the pictures.

I discovered that if I opened and edited a previous post with much less text, the photos were inserted instantly. I uploaded them to that post, published it, and then cut and paste moved them into my WOG post. Weird.

When it comes to unstable products, Google is just as guilty as Microsoft.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Spirit of America Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) blogburst here at The Scratching Post. Sometimes you go to a WOG and sometimes the WOG comes to you. We were doing research for future WOGs when this one fell into our laps. Well, emailed into our laptops, but you get the picture.

Jim Hake doesn't know this, but he is one of my heroes. He is a businessman who is using his connections and experience to do kind things for the people living in war zones. I got on his email list at the beginning and have watched his progress with pleasure.

After Operation Iraqi Freedom transitioned from open warfare to helping the Iraqi people create a stable, functioning democracy, he saw that a key to their success would be the creation of Iraqi media outlets to compete with the pro-terrorist Al Jazeera. Using his business acumen and marketing connections, Mr. Hake began a charitable organization for the purpose of equipping Iraqi TV and radio stations. It was a great success.

From there, they received support and participation from a wide range of businesses, schools and individuals. The size and scope of their good work has expanded with each month.

After years of conflict, much of the infrastructure of Afghanistan was destroyed. Here, American soldiers repair desks to rebuild a school.

School supplies and backpacks were given to children in Afghanistan. Sadly, this was followed immediately by a pop quiz.

Dental hygeine makes a big difference, but sometimes the simplest of tools are not available. Here, dental care kits are handed out to Afghani children. "Thank you, Mr. Nice American Soldier, sir! Now I have no excuse for not flossing!"

Blankets sold to Spirit of America at a deep discount by Springs Industries which makes Martex, Springmaid and Wamsutta are distributed in Iraq.

This is my all-time, grand national champion favorite story. Spirit of America helped set up women's sewing centers so Iraqi women could go into business and make money for themselves. Self-reliance is the best!

Do the soldiers and marines who are there think it’s making a difference? Judge for yourself.
LtCol David Couvillon says, “They say there aren’t any ‘silver bullets’ for improving things in Iraq. I don’t know. Spirit of America just might be a silver bullet.” And, Major General James Mattis of the Marines says, “the initiative and focused support provided by Spirit of America is beyond anything we have experienced.”
If you haven’t seen the news, Al Qaeda has recently set up shop in Somalia. As if those poor souls didn’t have enough trouble already. With the help of the military, Jim Hake and his team are now looking for assistance to help the people across the Horn of Africa find a better way of life and resist the terrorists.

Check out their blog post about this. Maybe you can help, too.

Finally, if you want to read a story that will just blow your mind, check this out.

Images reused with permission.

The definition and purpose of our WOGs is given here, along with a list of all previous WOGs. There have been many WOGs and I'll bet if check it out you'll find a subject of interest to you.

New NSA Procedures for Handling Classified Documents

Through my contacts with rodents living in NSA buildings, I have come into possession of a new classified memorandum regarding procedures for handling secret and top secret information. Since I wasn't explicitly told it would definitely lead to planetary thermonuclear annihilation, I chose to publish it here.

NSA Memorandum 3428/2006 (S)
Re: Concealment of classified information

1. In response to recent efforts by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times to cripple our efforts to track down terrorists through the publication of classified information, NSA is issuing the following guidelines for all classified documents and data.

a. In order to deter the media from reading classified documents, all documents shall be transported and kept wrapped in no fewer than two (2) layers of photos of happy Iraqis, preferrably children. NSA and DoD personnel can find such photographs at

b. In order to prevent the publication of photocopies of classified documents, all personnel shall intersperse text with caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. See DoD Inst 802.874 Rev. C for the proper sizing and spacing of caricatures.

2. This guidance is effective immediately.
I figured I'd go ahead and share this with all of you. It's not like anyone's going to do anything about it after I do.

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Death from Above!

Once again, our Maximum Leader has saved us from utter ruin. Yesterday, we were attacked by a giant moth.

Death comes from above!

Not so fast, you winged fiend! There will be no attacking my family while I'm around!

The enemy has been dispatched. You may return to your normal pursuits, citizens.

Sound the All Clear!

K T Cat. Beautiful and heroic. Is there any question why she's our Maximum Leader?

Make sure to stop by this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

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Brain Block

I normally write stream-of-consciousness posts. Today I have a great World of Good post in my head, but it won't come out. Argh. How frustrating. Usually I can sit down and blast these out. I'm a fast typist and I typically mentally organize things as I write. One sitting and then three or so passes through it to tighten it up and catch grammar and spelling mistakes and I'm done. This is not going well right now.

More coffee is called for.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Final Word on the New York Times

I asked our Maximum Leader to blog in her own voice about the NYT decision to publish classified intelligence gathering information and damage our defense against terrorists and she gave a succinct reply.


Then she looked up at me with a glare and said, "Don't say that name so soon after I eat!"

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Mark Shea Redirection

Mark Shea readers, I believe he made a mistake in his link. He meant to send you directly to this post rather than to the root page of the blog.

Of course, if you want to have a look around, please do so. You're always welcome here!

Compromising National Security from an Ivory Tower

A few days ago I gave an analysis of the New York Times decision to publish the classified information about the government’s effort to track down terrorist financial networks. I suggested that this was a marketing effort to get the government to take them to court where they could carry on almost endlessly about how they were protecting the citizens of the country from a rogue government and that they were the only organization large enough to be able to do this. After listening to interviews of various newspapermen involved with the story I am now convinced that I was partly right and partly wrong.

First, there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that the news media see themselves as the primary protectors of the citizens from the government. If you read Bill Keller’s letter defending the NYT’s story, it reeks of this.

the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government...The question we start with as journalists is not "why publish?" but "why would we withhold information of significance?"...some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions ...
If we don't go publish these stories, then who knows what horrible things the government will do to you?

Hugh Hewitt interviewed the LA Times’ Washington bureau chief on the air today and I was struck by the academic, theoretical tone of the man’s answers. They went something like this:

“Did you believe the government when they told you this would harm the war on terror?”

“I neither believed them nor disbelieved them. I had no information upon which to base the decision.”

No one talks like this. Even his speech pattern was off, as if he was thinking in another language and translating it before it passed his lips. It was as if the fellow was with us, but not of us. I could imagine him dining on ambrosia in some pagan temple and looking down upon the poor drones toiling away while he sat in judgment of them.

I was wrong when I suggested that the newspapers had such a sophisticated marketing effort under way. It’s clear that this was no marketing effort at all. It is true that approval of this story went all the way to the top of their companies, but their interviews just aren’t correlating enough to suggest that any of this was coordinated.

This wasn’t a marketing effort, it was just stupid. I also do not believe that the desire to harm the Republicans, the country or President Bush in particular was at play here. Both of the interviews I heard and the letter from Bill Keller were nearly radioactive with an ivory tower, naïve tone. Hugh Hewitt uncovered their biographical data and neither of them has ever been outside of the newspaper business for any significant length of time.

If you view the news media as a religious institution, this all begins to make sense. Their reasoning has a circular, theological quality to it. Doubting Thomas on steroids, if you will. Airplanes were rammed into skyscrapers by people chanting passages from the Koran, but can we really know why they did it? And what does it mean to know?

It’s as if they can’t buy a grapefruit at the supermarket without first testing to see if it is, indeed, a grapefruit. “I neither believed nor disbelieved that it was a grapefruit,” they would say, “for I had no facts upon which to base my conclusion.”

For the rest of us, the effects of their work are self-evident. If you blow the lid off of an intelligence gathering effort, you’ve screwed us all. This is an information and public relations war. Unfortunately, they’re at the heart of both aspects of it.

Hugh has suggested that the best course of action is a congressional resolution. Others have recommended arresting them and putting them on trial for espionage. I would like to suggest a third option.

I’d like to see them put into a mental institution. Clearly they don't live in the real world with the rest of us.

Update: The editor of the LA Times, Dean Baquet, penned a reponse to the criticism today. After reading it, I want to apologize to everyone for having suggested any marketing sophistication from these people at all. It runs towards their ethereal view of the world, demanding hard evidence that someone will die because of this:
We sometimes withhold information when we believe that reporting it would threaten a life. In this case, we believed, based on our talks with many people in the government and on our own reporting, that the information on the Treasury Department's program did not pose that threat. Nor did the government give us any strong evidence that the information would thwart true terrorism inquiries.
I gave the criminal the gun because there was no proof he would shoot the old lady.

It hits on the familiar theme as the LAT as our protectors:
But we also have an obligation to cover the government, with its tremendous power, and to offer information about its activities so citizens can make their own decisions. That's the role of the press in our democracy.
Save us, LAT, save us from the government!

Where it fails as a marketing effort is that it does not differentiate them from the blogosphere. Why do I need to pay for the LA Times? How do you use this example to show that my money bought the protection you talk about? What do I not receive from my free sources of information in exchange for my cash?

Frankly, if I had a subscription to the Times, I'd cancel it and send the money to Bill Roggio. There's a value proposition you can see.

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Mog's Beautiful Cats Doing, er, Great Things

Mog was kind enough to share this, er, charming moment between her cats with us.

Thanks, Mog.


PS - She could use some prayers, too.

Last Week in the Theocracy

Preface: I always wonder what it must be like for first time visitors to the blog who stop by while a Feline Theocracy post is at the top. You click on some link out there on the Internet and are whisked away to a website where there is either a cat in full Catholic cardinal regalia or a hamster with a collection basket right there in front of you. Your first thought must be "Huh? What the heck is this junk?"

On a message board a while back I posted an invitation to visit The Scratching Post. One of the people on the board did so while a post describing a new member of the Theocracy was at the top. The guy came back to the message board and wrote, "What's with the cat in the red robes? Is that you?" He accompanied it with a rolling eyed smiley face, as if to say, "You are a total whack job, dude. Get some professional help before it's too late."

To try and explain the glories and wonders of the Feline Theocracy, I created this post. If you're new to the site, I recommend reading it to catch up on just what is going on here. In the meantime, the rest of us will proceed with the task at hand.

Post: Welcome all Theocraticians, novitiates, initiates, propitiates and general seekers of enlightenment! It is I, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, faithful beadle of the Feline Theocracy, here to lead you through the weekly collected wisdom of the Theocracy.

I'm sure you noticed the change from our normal title. Since this is Monday, it can't very well be this week in the Theocracy, can it?

This week as I perused the blogs from across the Theocracy, I got a sense of the diversity of thought represented here. Let me see if I can explain.

We have a member who is creative and funny.

Another gives us insight into the world of law enforcement.

One is showing us the evolution of wealth.

Sometimes there are posts that speak volumes about familial love.

There is flat out comedy.

One was a speechwriter for a U. S. president.

One is rather eclectic, usually posting funny things, but sometimes telling poignant stories from his life.

There is a member who is a blogger from way back, whose posts cover all kinds of things, but are always clever.

A new member is going through some tough times and could use some affection and prayers right about now.

Since this is the Feline Theocracy, there are some who post about cats, large and small.

There are political opinions.

There are touching and funny stories.

There are philosopical and theological questions pondered.

Some share the uncertainties of life with us.

Sometimes you get so shocked and appalled at what you see that you just have to write our you will explode.

Momentous passages of life are shared by some.

Debating the difficult questions of the day with humor and wisdom is the hallmark of some bloggers.

It's quite a cross section, isn't it?

Well, I hope you enjoyed it and I hope to see you back for next week's round up of our favorite posts. Until then, stay safe and be sure to pet a cat at least once a day. It's good for you.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Toffler Predicts Kos Victory

The blogosphere is positively radioactive with the buzz of the day – the battle between Kos and The New Republic (TNR). Kos and his bloggers are unleashing torrents of vitriol at the TNR. The TNR is taking on a bored, dismissive, patrician tone against Kos. “We’ve never visited his blog before now,” they sniff. The right side of the blogosphere is delightedly jumping up and down like the monkeys in a commercial as Kos and his cronies are beaten like piñatas. That’s all tactical. The strategic, long-term conflict is quite different.

Some commenter somewhere said that you can bring down Kos or his buddies and he will be replaced instantly. It’s the model that counts, not the individual. I think that was right on. Whether it’s Kos or Glenn Reynolds or Hugh Hewitt, it’s the model that’s changing. Alvin Toffler has written best sellers about these kinds of conflicts between societal models. The Civil War, for example, was a battle between an agrarian way of life and an industrial way of life. In the end, the new model won out. The South won several battles, but the outcome of the war was almost predetermined because of the immense advantages of the North.

In this case, big media is winning a battle while losing a war. The TNR’s professional writers and their fellow travelers are uncovering all manner of silly and possibly unethical things that Kos and his friends have done. Ann Althouse wrote about the muckraking being used to drag down Kos and his minions. Astrology, payola, the blinkered enforcement of orthodoxy, Kos is being charged with it all. So what if it’s true? Kos and the blogosphere will win in the end.

The fixed costs of running TNR or the New York Times or the CBS Evening News make them uncompetitive. Offices, staffs, production equipment, insurance and interest on business loans have to be paid whether magazines and newspapers are sold or not. Bloggers pay none of that. Politicians like Hillary Clinton are similarly on the losing end of this.

Take a look at the continual publicity Instapundit gives Pork Busters. Backroom deals and influence peddling are part of the old model. It’s getting harder and harder to work that way, thanks to the new model.

Both Hillary and the TNR are institutionally in opposition to Kos and the blogosphere. They cannot continue as they have in the face of this new wave. They’re winning this round, but I wouldn’t bet on them in the long run.

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Instalanche Hangover

Yesterday, The Scratching Post got a link from Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit for our post on a marketing strategy that could be driving the New York Times' repeated violations of national security laws. In one day I picked up 3200 hits. Traffic is still coming in from that link. Additionally, when Glenn links to you, lots of others do, too. Those secondary links drove my Technorati and TTLB scores way up. Lastly, I made more money from Adsense yesterday than I have in the entire time I've been blogging. Today, the temptation to find a follow-up post was tremendous. It was an Instalanche hangover.

When I sat down with my coffee in front of the PC with my Maximum Leader in her office suite next to me, I wondered what I could find to repeat that success. Looking at the sitemeter traffic statistics, it seemed reasonable that 5-10% of those Instavisitors would come back to see what new pearls of wisdom I had to offer. Could I find a hot new topic that I could examine in a novel way using my experience in business? LGF, Captain's Quarters, Instapundit and the rest were all running off in various directions with thousands and thousands of potential hits for me if only I could tempt them into another link. How could I repeat my success?

Here's what I came up with.

If you're new to this site, take a look at the links on the right hand side and pick one. Check out their blog. They are some really cool people. Later today Jacob the Syrian Hamster will post an anthology of his favorite articles for the week from some of their blogs. In the meantime, let me leave you with this.

Our Maximum Leader rolling in catnip.

Jacob hoping for more playtime and seeds.

Sunset over Pacific Beach.

Old friends who just met.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Ring Girls for the Kos - TNR Fight

Our brand new friends at the Blue Crab Boulevard keep asking for cute ring girls to adorn the boxing ring wherein Kos and The New Republic are going at it. In an effort to please, The Scratching Post's crack research staff, consisting of our Maximum Leader, K T Cat and Jacob the Syrian Hamster, have found them.

We apologize for the small pictures, but in the interest of saving bandwidth for our dial up friends, we decided to go with these. For gorgeous, full-sized photos of these liberal hotties that both Kos and TNR would swoon for, just click on them.

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Bravo, Wells Fargo!

In the middle of the firestorm over AOL's horrific practice of bullying customers into staying, I'd like to post a contrast.

Yesterday I called Wells Fargo Bank to get some help linking my new checking account to Quicken. I got to a customer service rep right away. She walked me through the process pleasantly and completely. Then she helped me review my account and cancelled a $3 monthly payment I had been making for a service I wasn't using any more.

When I told her how I had been charged a $40 fee for overusing my savings account due to the fact that my ATM card hadn't been linked to my checking account and I had unwittingly been making purchases out of savings, she refunded my $40.

Wells Fargo rocks.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

The Full Tux

It's catblogging Friday! Here's our Maximum Leader in a perfect tuxedo pose. Click on the picture for a really nice full size version.

Be sure to visit the Friday Ark and the Carnival of the Cats this week.

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Compromising National Security as a Marketing Strategy

Being a marketer by trade, I tend to see everything through the prism of marketing. To me, the recent article by the New York Times that revealed classified details about our efforts to uncover the banking connections that sustain global terrorism can only be explained as a marketing effort.

If you haven't seen it yet, Hugh Hewitt, Powerline, the National Review and Instapundit all have excellent summaries of the subject.

The New York Times is in a steep dive. Its circulation is dropping, its stock price is dropping, its gross income is flat and its net profits are declining 5-10% per year. All of this in the middle of an economic boom.

5 year chart of NYT stock price.

On its surface, the most recent article uncovering classified information doesn't make any sense at all. For one thing, it's an article about banking. Other than business types like myself, banking articles are MEGO articles. (My Eyes Glazed Over.) It doesn't break any new ground at all. The administration said repeatedly that it was working to roll up Al Qaeda's financial network. There is no question that it is legal to do so. The NYT article simply publicisized the classified details of a legal program that was known to exist.

In exchange for this, the risk of government court action is very real. Knowingly revealing classified information is a crime, plain and simple. The fact that the NYT was repeatedly requested by the government not to reveal these secrets condemns it further. Why would you print such an article?

I suggest that the NYT is hoping, praying, begging the Bush administration to take them to court. That stock price drop is no fluke. The NYT is an uncompetitive product. Unless they change consumers' attitudes, their revenue will continue to drop.

People who see all sources of information as equally good will, in time, drop those that cost money. I no longer subscribe to any newspapers at all. I can get everything I want on the Internet for free. The NYT has to make clear it's value proposition to the consumer. My bet is that they are positioning themselves as being the only news media large enough to uncover government scandals. They are appealing to the fear that in their absence, government agencies will run wild with corruption and deceit. The San Diego Union is currently running just such an ad campaign.

The New York Times does not have an efficient advertising channel to get this concept in front of the public quickly and easily. If the Bush administration takes them to court, the entire country will have it propped up in front of them day and night until well after the trial is over. All of the usual suspects will rally to their defense. The ACLU, the MSM news channels, other newspapers and the Democratic Party will broadcast that concept morning, noon and night. In one fell swoop, the NYT will execute a marketing campaign that it hopes will change consumer sentiment.

In order for the NYT and the other newspapers to survive, they have to change the public's perception from this:

"If I don't support big media, I will still be able to get my information from other sources without cost"

to this:

"If I don't support big media, there will be no one left to watch the government and all of my civil liberties will slowly erode away."

I can't think of any other reason to have printed that article.

Update: Thanks for the link, Anchoress! For those of you stopping by, please have a click around. I've had a really fun week blogging and I think you might like some of it.

Update 2: Zounds! An Instalanche and a Powerlinelanche! I'm not worthy! Thank you both. If you're visiting for the first time, please have a click around. We do posts on business, religion, cats, humor and politics. If you have a sudden twitch in your hand and accidentally click on the left hand column, I won't hold it against you. :-)

Update 6/26/06: Follow up post here.

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An Odd Week at The Scratching Post

The Scratching Post is a blog built around business and marketing observations and our weekly World of Good (WOG) posts. This week we tried a surreal combination of the two that didn't even garner a peep. Normally our WOG posts get multiple links and hundreds of hits. This one didn't even get acknowledgement off of the links emailed to the WOG Squad. It was so ignored, in fact, that it made me wonder if the email had gone out at all. I never received any error messages, so I think it's safe to assume that everyone got it and just bailed as soon as they saw me describe it in the email as weird.

And weird it is. I got a bizarre inspiration and decided to write a post juxtaposing Disneyworld with Hamas. The contrast, to me at least, is obvious and striking. The ultimate in clean-cut fun versus a group that is cannibalistic in everything save diet. I might as well have written about weather patterns on Mars. In fact, that might have garnered more attention from the NASAphiles out there. This one simply vanished as if it had entered the Bermuda Triangle.

I can't say I'm disappointed since I knew it was a risky thing to do. I'm just surprised at the lack of any response at all. Perhaps the thing is so weird that no one knows what to make of it at all. Sort of like when you go into a friend's house and he has a sculpture of a nude woman frying bacon in the middle of his living room. It's so bizarre that you can't think of anything to say that isn't insulting and so you ignore it.

I've discovered that asking for comments is usually a fruitless thing to do, but I think I'll do it one more time. If you'd like to look at that WOG post, you can find it here. Is it so weird that you can't think of anything to say?

File Me Under 'R' for Rodent

You can't believe how much research work is done here at The Scratching Post in order to make sure our Maximum Leader's blog posts are accurate and insightful.

When's my coffee break?

Filing, scurrying, climbing the human's shirt to perch on his shoulder and scan the office for more papers, stuffing seeds in my mouth, scurrying some more, creeping through the files...

It's all in a day's work for this office hamster.

Be sure to visit the Friday Ark this week.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thursday 13, Summer Fun Edition

Thirteen Fun Things About Summer in Words and Pictures

1. Summer block parties in the neighborhood

2. Shorts and aloha shirts

3. No homework for the kids

4. Sleepovers in the middle of the week for the kids

5. Leaving the windows open all night


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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No Vampire Attacks

Thanks to our Maximum Leader, there were no vampire attacks last night.

K T keeps watch for vampires.

She went out many times last night to make sure they stayed away. I checked the newswires this morning and could find no sign of vampire attacks. Well done, K T!

Explanation here.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Kindness Makes You Rich Style

In concert with other blogs, The Scratching Post publishes a blog entry each week about acts of kindness called The World of Good (WOG) Blogburst. A full description of our WOGs can be found here.

Today’s World of Good post is a deviation from what we’ve done in the past. This time we focus on how good deeds can make you rich and how hostility makes you poor.

Walt Disney Corporation has an annual gross income of 31 billion dollars. A large portion of that comes from their theme parks. One of the biggest reasons Disney theme parks are so successful is that they have made acts of kindness and good deeds an integral part of their corporate culture.

Is anyone still reading this? Any time some blogger goes on about “corporate culture” it’s a good bet that at least half the readers have clicked away. :-)

Disney is determined to make money. They make money when you come to visit Disneyworld. One of the biggest reasons you go back to Disneyworld for more visits is that the employees are nice people. They keep the park clean. They give you directions with a smile. They go out of their way to make your visit fun.

These nice people are helping make $31,000,000,000 per year for Disney. Kindness pays.

Quality Digest Magazine has an article describing this. Kotler and Armstrong’s classic text Principles of Marketing describes Disney’s approach as well.

The real Disney magic lies in the company’s obsessive dedication to “make people happy”…The company orients all of its people – from the executive in the corner office to the monorail driver to the ticket seller at the gate – around the customer’s experience…The job of each cast member (Disney shorthand for employee) is to enthusiastically serve Disney’s “guests”…They are taught to be enthusiastic, helpful and always friendly. They learn to do good deeds, such as volunteering to take pictures of guests, so that the whole family can be in the picture. Cast members are taught to never say, “it’s not my job.”
Contrast this with another world famous organization.

Recently, Hamas was elected to lead the Palestinian government. Their opponents, Fatah, have had disagreements with Hamas. In typical fashion, they are resolving these disagreements through violence and bloodshed. Recently, members of Fatah attacked government buildings and destroyed large portions of them.

They wrecked their own buildings.

What’s the result of their approach? Gaza and the West Bank have an annual gross income of about 2.5 billion dollars, or about 1/12 of what Disney makes. Kotler and Armstrong’s text claim that the theme parks make up 30% of Disney. That means the theme parks alone make more than 3 times as much as all the Palestinians put together.

Many arguments can be made against comparing these two entities and drawing any conclusions at all. Allow me to rebut them with this.

Is there any question that kindness pays?

We have done many other World of Good posts and we urge you to explore them further here.

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#!@&*(@&#*)!@! Blogger won't upload photos. Again!

All I can say is @&E(#$@&(#&@(!!

The weekly World of Good post has to wait until I can get the photos inserted.


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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tripped Up by Baggy Pants

Lawman, I'd love to see your comments on this one!

There's a hilarious article by Serena Ng in today's Wall Street Journal on young criminals getting tripped up by their baggy pants. Here are some of my favorite sections:

Just about every other week, Jim Matheny, a 41-year-old police lieutenant in Stamford, Conn., says he gets into foot chases with youths. He says it's getting easier to capture them because they can't run fast or far in those loose jeans.

"When I catch them, I tell them they'd do much better if they had pants that fit," says Lt. Matheny, who says he has had to help hold up the pants of his suspects while patting them down to search for drugs or weapons. "It's like: 'Hey dude, buy a belt and save yourself some trouble.' "


Ill-fitting pants aren't suited for jumping, either, as Noah Donell Brown of Hendersonville, N.C., learned. The 24-year-old tried to leap over the counter of a Subway sandwich shop during a robbery attempt, but he stumbled and came crashing down in front of several startled store employees. Mr. Brown, armed with a gun, got up and fled into a nearby residential neighborhood as the police were notified.

Police didn't have to work hard to arrest him. As Mr. Brown tried to scale a picket fence in someone's backyard, he caught his pants, according to the police department. He was found dangling upside down, his pants at his ankles and tangled in the fence.
I'm still laughing!

Stop it, Serena! You're killing me!

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Focus, Focus, Focus!

I just finished reading, or at least thumbing through the majority of, Napolean Hill's Think and Grow Rich. If you look at recommended reading lists for business, this title is almost always there. Back in the day, Mr. Hill was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to find out what successful people had in common. One of the things he found out was that they had an almost monomaniacal focus on a single goal. They picked a subject and excelled at it.

Last week I got a first-hand demonstration of how and why that works. I was asked to sit on a panel that determined which three to five of twenty science and technology proposals would be funded for next year. Our own organization had a proposal in the mix and so did those of some of the other panelists.

Our proposal was very well received and scored well. It placed fourth out of twenty and five projects ended up getting funded. Ours was not one of them. The problem was that the first and second place proposals were in the same topic area and were clearly superior.

Why was that?

The winners had focused on the subject, in this case, laser communications. While all of the presentations were technically sound, the others referred repeatedly to other work they were doing with lasers. We were more generalists and our resume was old and nearly out of date.

Napolean Hill's research indicated that people who pick a topic and focus on it succeed more often than those who don't. Success builds upon itself. With every project you do, you gain more skill and make more connections with others in the field. The more skill and connections you have, the more proposals you win. Soon you have a national reputation and win proposals based on your name alone.

This graph shows the concept.

People who focus on a subject continually improve. Dabblers improve when they work in the area, but their skills atrophy when they don't. As time goes on, they fall behind and simply cannot compete with those who have focused.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

The Feline Theocracy Grows Ever Stronger!

There are those who doubt the power and might of the Feline Theocracy. Let their doubts be cast to the winds and let them rejoice with us as we add yet another theocratician to the rolls of the Theocracy!

Aloysius of Catymology is hereby named the "Poet Laureate" of the Feline Theocracy. He has kindly provided us with an entertaining description of himself here.

Welcome, Aloysius! The Offical Artist of the Theocracy, Justin, produced this handsome graphic. Feel free to use it on your blog if you'd like.

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Customers Participate When They Feel Like It

One of my favorite business blogs, the Customer Evangelists, has a post talking about a new model for customer feedback based on using the web. I'm going to try to apply this to blogging in particular.

It's a new model being proposed by Jim Nail and the folks at Cymfony, an analytics company that measures and interprets consumer-generated and traditional media.

In a previous post on the Customer Evangelists blog, they discussed the 1% rule. 1% of your readers will contribute to the development of your product. The Wikipedia was held up as a measurable example of this. I'd say that number is about right. If you look closely at the comments on any blog, excepting those posts linked to by the big blogs like Instapundit, you'll see the same names in the comments over and over. When asking for opinions, you will get theirs, but very few others.

While the comments in the blog give you an idea of what your friends are thinking, it's the traffic summary from tools like sitemeter that give you more. If you look at sitemeter, you can see which posts are generating secondary hits. That gives you a complete cross-section of your traffic. If the customers liked your product, they continued to surf around on your blog to see what else was there. If they didn't, they bailed out. I posted about this earlier. Comments are a less complete measure of customer satisfaction.

I would also argue that comments are dominated by a particular subset of Myers-Briggs personality types. My bet is that EJs (Extroverted Judgers) provide the most comments. The reader has a firm opinion and wants to express it to everyone. Confirming that would be an interesting experiment to run. In any case, I think that the online world gives you market analysis tools that far surpass traditional ones. While the comments are still instructive in describing thought processes, the ability to capture actual behaviors is a bigger breakthrough.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

This Week in the Theocracy

Preliminary Catwa: Please send Niall some words of encouragement. He is going through some very trying times right now and a little kindness might ease his heart.

Hail and well met fellow truth-seekers on the information superhighway of enlightenment! Rest your tired psyches for a time and celebrate the wisdom and wit of the Feline Theocracy. It's time for me, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, loyal beadle of the Theocracy, to lead you through another selection of our favorite posts of the week from all of the theocraticians.

As an aside, I spent quite a bit of time trying to find the old theme song to "This Week in Baseball", but was unable to do so. I found people claiming they had a CD with it and I found the name and composer, but I did not find the file. Thank you, MLB. I'm glad you're protecting that song from malicious downloads while you allow a radioactive, DNA-spliced, drug fiend like Barry Bonds to break all of the game's most cherished records.

I can't wait for the NFL season to start.

Ahem. On to the posts, this time in no particular order.

Our Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media, Peggy Noonan talks about the real problem the Democrats have in enunciating a platform. They've succeeded. Here's my favorite part of her post.

One can argue about why the Democratic Party no longer seems to have a reason for being. I believe the reason is this: They have achieved what they set out to achieve in 1932, when the modern Democratic Party began. They got what they asked for, achieved what they fought for. They got a big government that offers a wide array of benefits and assistance; they got a powerful federal establishment that collects and dispenses treasure, that assumes societal guidance.
Our Kight-Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls has a great joke posted specially for the Theocracy.

Heidi, resting comfortably on our Protected List, posts a book recommendation and a touching anecdote.

Happy Julie, Holy Scholar, goes all Jack Kerouac on us.

Holy Scholar Georgette will bring tears to your eyes on this Father's Day.

The Archibishop of Texas, Laurence Simon, has a YouTube movie of Nardo dealing with one of life's most difficult questions.

Feline Empress and Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish shows the "profressional" wrestlers at WWE how it's done.

Abbess of the Priory of Small Princess shares a trauma with all of us.

Ogre, our Monsignor of the Breweries, has one of the coolest optical tricks I've ever seen. You have got to try this one.

Holy Scholar Mark Shea weighs in with an absolutely amazing video.

I'm starting to lose track of who I've done and who I haven't. We'll go down the list from here on in.

The Grand Almoner of England, mirroring a personal journey of my own, has some wisdom for everyone in their careers.

Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring reviews Ann Coulter's new book, Godless. As an aside, I really don't understand the controversy at all. The Jersey Girls jumped into the political ring, itching for a fight. Ann punched their lights out. What's the problem?

Our Official Artist, Justin, has a post worthy of the World of Good. You always knew he was a great guy, didn't you?

Tossed about on a sea of troubles? The Anchoress has a post for you.

Holy Scholar Eric Scheske has some funny stuff here.

Finally, our Court Jester posts a conundrum for science.

Thanks to all members of the Feline Theocracy for sharing your talents and interests with us for another week. My life is richer because of it.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Homestyle Dog Food?

I went grocery shopping today and on the way out of the store, I saw a bag of "Kibbles n' Bits - Homestyle" dog food.

Just what would "Homestyle" dog food look like? A slurry of mildly rotting leftovers pulled from the fridge mixed with stale bread and some dog kibble?

On second thought, I don't think I want to know.

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Fantastic Photos

Rick Lee is an amazing photographer with a blog. I hope he doesn't mind, but I am going to give him a link through one of his photos. Click on the photo to go to his blog.

Photo reused without permission.

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Making Long Flights Tolerable

I travel quite a bit for work, typically coast-to-coast. Six hours on an airplane is no fun. I have finally found the secret to making the time fly by. Music and SuDoku. I've got my Rio Karma loaded up with 4400+ songs and my New York Post SuDoku book. I put the Karma on shuffle and work the puzzles. I have no idea what song will come up next and the puzzles keep my brain occupied. The flights go by quickly.

I also have all of the IMAO podcasts, Mark Steyn interviews from the Hugh Hewitt Show and James Lileks Bleatcasts on the Karma, too, so there is really a wide variety.

Another nice feature is how little I need to unpack from my carry-on luggage in order to do this. Headphones, Karma, book and pen. Everyone else is dragging out laptops and huge novels and I'm able to stay compact and keep my leg room for my legs. Way cool.

Just thought I'd share.

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A Tonic for the Weary Traveller

Look who is staying near me to make sure I don't get lonely after coming back from a long business trip.

Thanks, Maximum Leader.

Check out this week's Carnival of the Cats.

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