Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Fail at Marketing, Lesson 4


It’s a pretty smart idea these days to position one’s company as being environmentally friendly, and one easy (and cost-effective) way of accomplishing this is to offer online “paperless” billing.

Now, we’re not going to say that mailing a paper confirmation to a customer who’s just signed up for paperless billing is, in itself, a bad idea. In fact, for security reasons it’s probably good practice.

Sending three copies of the exact same letter, on the other hand—especially when that letter, again, is the company’s way of patting itself on the back for saving paper—deserves to be pointed at and mocked, at least a little bit.

HA ha!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Irony, Illustrated

It’s a gutsy philosophy to live by,
but if you’re willing to regret just one single hing, now might be the time.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Drive Your Neat-Freak Husband Crazy in One Easy Step

We know what you’re asking, and the answer is yes, that empty thing at the center of the photo is, in fact, a shoe rack.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Augusta National Softens its Stance on Excluding Women

Billy Payne, dodging questions.

Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club, site of the prestigious annual Masters Tournament, appears to be reconsidering its longstanding and controversial policy of refusing to admit female members. With the tournament entering Round Two this morning, the club released the following statement to the press:

The Augusta National Golf Club, in keeping with this nation’s noblest traditions of extending equal treatment to many different kinds of people that we find acceptable, hereby announces that as of Friday, April 6, 2012, we will open our membership to any woman who can prove empirically that she psychologically, physiologically, and genetically male.
We sincerely hope that our progress toward equality among all the right kinds of people doesn’t go unnoticed among our sponsors—many of whom employ women, so we’re told—or our television viewers. Because many of those folks who watch our sponsors’ ads this weekend will be women, and you know how women love to shop! Boy howdy!
All kidding aside, folks, we here at Augusta National are proud of our accomplishments in racial and gender equity. Why, for decades we ensured that black men, while certainly not good enough to play here, would nevertheless find gainful employment carrying white men’s clubs.
And hell, it’s been more than thirty years now since we admitted our first black member, way back in 1990. What a time that was, with our humble little Augusta National Golf Club leading the charge for civil rights, not even four decades after the Montgomery Bus Boycott!
In conclusion, the Augusta National Golf Club looks forward to welcoming its first female member, assuming, once again, that she is actually a man.
And also preferably not, you know, a Jew.
 —Augusta National Golf Club
April 6, 2012


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ubaldo Expedition Concludes Two-Year Expedition to Locate Elusive "Strike Zone"

“Nice pitch, man! But where did you mean to throw it?”

George Mallory and Sir Edmund Hillary had Mount Everest. Robert Falcon Scott had the Antarctic. Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin had the Northwest Passage. Robert Kenneth Wilson had the Loch Ness Monster. Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin had Bigfoot.

And for the past twenty-one months, Ubaldo Jiménez of the Cleveland Indians has pursued an obsession as wily and elusive as any of those: the Strike Zone.

Jiménez leapt into the national consciousness in 2010, starting off the year for the Colorado Rockies with a 15-1 record and a sparkling earned-run average of only 2.20, a performance that earned him a starting spot in major league baseball’s 2010 All-Star Game.

After that game, however, his performance fell to Earth, and then swiftly began to dig: He went 10-16 in his next thirty-six games with the Rockies, struggling with his command, velocity, and (according to some) motivation. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians on July 21, 2011, and finished that season with a 10-13 record and a 4.68 ERA.

Baseball analysts suspect that Jiménez’s problems stemmed not from mechanical issues, a shortened 2011 Spring Training, or cuticle problems on his pitching hand, but rather from his obsessive, Ahab-like pursuit of something that—at least for him—may not exist at all: the Strike Zone.

The Strike Zone—artist’s conception.

“I’ve been searching for the Strike Zone for almost two years now,” says Jiménez.“People don’t believe me, but I know I can find it if I keep at it. I’ve looked high and low for it. High and tight, lately, but low and away, too. Low and way away, even.”

Each red point on this map indicates an attempt by the 
July 2010-September 2011 Ubaldo Expedition to locate the Strike Zone.

The Ubaldo Expedition traveled to dozens of American cities from mid-2010 through spring 2012, desperately trying to find the mysterious Strike Zone. What does Jiménez remember from those trying times?

“Walking. Lots and lots of walking. Seems like it was nothing but walks sometimes—it’s enough to make you a little wild once in a while.”

“Sometimes I wondered if this Strike Zone thing was totally made up, arbitrary. It made me wonder if I was just throwing everything away.”

Things reached their worst for the Expedition in August 2011, when the pitcher began casting his eyes toward the sea.
“I even thought about searching the ocean for the Strike Zone, since I couldn’t find a trace of it anywhere else,” says Jiménez. “But then in Detroit my catcher told me that I couldn’t hit water if I fell out of a boat, so I guess I wouldn’t have been able to try it. That was nice of him to save me all that time.” 

Jiménez’s optimistic outlook is refreshing, but the arduous twenty-one-month trek has clearly left him physically drained and mentally fragile. Psychologists note that Ubaldo recently compared being in Cleveland to being in heaven, and while they hesitate to use the word “delusion,” the evidence is hard to ignore.

It’s not heaven. It’s not even Iowa.
The Ubaldo Expedition’s Spring 2012 campaign hadn’t started off any better than 2011’s had ended—with a 1-4 record and an ERA above 7.00 through the end of March—until Jiménez, much to everyone’s surprise, suddenly located the Strike Zone right inside Rockies star Troy Tulowitzki’s rib cage.

The Ubaldo Expedition’s Strike Zone map, spring 2012.

 “It’s funny—inside Tulowitzki is always the last place you look for stuff,” he says with a shrug. “But I’m excited about looking for it there again and again, as soon as I get another chance.”

That chance may not arrive for a while, however. Authorities in charge of the Ubaldo Expedition have decided to give him a five-day break from his job as a reward for his efforts, and with the Indians playing in the American League rather than the Rockies’ National League, there’s a chance that Jiménez may not encounter the Strike Zone again for several more years.