Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “brands”

Nauseating words

I’ve occasionally read articles about words that people hate. Apparently one of the most disliked words in the English language is “moist”.

But this article reminded me of two of my least favourite words — 2 New ‘Harry Potter’ Books Are Coming This October:

Harry Potter fans have yet another reason to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the iconic wizarding franchise: They’re getting two new books this October.

For me two of the most nauseating words are “franchise” and “brands”, but “iconic” comes a pretty close third.

Harry Potter is a fictional character in a series of books. Why call him a “franchise”? Why are so many sports teams called “franchises” nowadays. These words do have proper uses. I have no objection to referring to a fast-food joint like KFC as a “franchise” where it means that they have been licensed to use the KFC brand and logos even though they are independently owned. But call it a franchise when referring to their business model;, not to the stuff they sell (ground up chicken beaks and gizzards called “nuggets”).

But how many authors have been licensed to write Harry Potter books? How many sports teams around the world (or even the UK) have been licensed to call themselves “Manchester United” or “Norwich City”? As far as I know, one and one only in each instance. That doesn’t make them a franchise, or anything remotely like it.

And all this talk about “brands” — are you interested in “brands”? Yes, I’ve seen online questionnaires that ask that. Should I say yes, I’m interested in brands. I really do prefer KFC to Ford, for example. Fried chicken gets me from A to B so much faster than a motor car, Dettol plays much better cricket than the Titans.

But perhaps I’m alone in this. “Brands”, “franchise” and “iconic” don’t seem to have made these lists, no matter how high they are on mine “Moist” And 28 Other Gross-Sounding English Words That Everyone Hates | Thought Catalog, and 11 Gross-Sounding Words Everyone Hates To Hear, According To Science.

The SAfm radio station has a Sunday morning programme on media, and “brands” feature pretty prominently in it.

Samuel Maverick

It all makes me rather sympathetic to Samuel Maverick, whose name entered the English language because he never branded his cattle. Unbranded cattle that did not belong in the herd were called “mavericks”. Later it came to be applied to people who didn’t follow the herd, like politicians who didn’t toe (or nowadays “tow”) the party line. Like Makhosi Khoza. I suppose that’s why I like to read the Daily Maverick. And why I would like to see Makhosi Khoza as our next president.

So the more talk I hear of “brands”, the more I think of Samuel Maverick. No matter what else he did, he made an important and much-needed contribution to the English language.

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How NOT to sell something to someone of my generation

About ten years ago a woman phoned me, and gabbled something so quickly that I couldn’t hear it. I asked her to repeat it, but still could barely hear what she was saying. Eventually I managed to gather that they were doing a health survey in our area, and wanted to know if I’d be willing to answer some questions. I said sure, as a public-spirited citizen, I’d be willing to help with a survey.

A little later the guy who was doing the “health survey” came, and turned out to be a snake oil salesman.

He started wittering on about us not getting enough oxygen because of pollution, and so we needed to replace it with ozone. I tried to recall chemistry lessons from high school, and was sure that ozone was O3 and oxygen was O2, so supplementing oxygen with ozone was a bit like supplementing diamonds with pencil lead. Also, I seemed to remember that ozone was poisonous.

I was getting bored and restless, and wished he’d get on with it, do his survey, and leave. I didn’t want a long and extremely boring lecture about dubious chemical processes.

He went on about ozone therapy, and I could hardly wait for him to leave so I could check Wikipedia for the properties of ozone. Eventually I asked him to get on with it, and tell me what he was selling and how much it was. So he showed a sort of vacuum cleaner contraption and a bathmat, which he said cost R10000. I said there was no way I had that kind of money, and then he said “Do you have a credit card?” and said if I bought it with that I could pay it off over three years at R360 a month, and what could I buy with R360. I said I could fill my car with petrol, and he said “How far will that get you?”

And then I said I was tired of his bullshit and had a lot to do, so I said there was no way I would buy it because I did not have that kind of money and anyway I wasn’t convinced of the benefits, and so he was wasting his time and mine. He packed up his gadgets with a bad grace and left.

He made no effort to hide his annoyance, but he had come to see me under false pretences, and tried to sell me something I didn’t need and couldn’t afford and tried very hard to persuade me to use a credit card to buy it when the price was more than double my monthly pension.

So I think The Oatmeal hits the nail exactly on the head with this.

I may be an old fogey, but I really detest buzzwords like “marketing” “brands”, and “entrepreneurship”, and I’m not really interested in “monetising” my blog.

If you want to sell me something, tell me upfront what it is and what it does and what it costs. Don’t come to my house under false pretences, bore me and waste my time with bullshit lectures, and only then tell me what you’re selling.

Brands and mavericks

I’ve read several articles claiming that the word most people hate most is “moist”. The word I hate most is “brands”. Well, one of the words, anyway.

Consider this, for example, 10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts:

Realizing that millions more people are scratching their heads, wondering what to read and where to spend their subscription dollars, here are my top 10 large journalistic brands where I believe you can most often find real, reported facts:

The use of “brand” in that article is the main reason that I don’t trust it. Yes, I agree with the criteria mentioned in the article, but I’m not looking for reliable brands, I’m looking for reliable news.

Do you go into a shop and say “I’m looking for a brand?” or “What brand should I buy?”

And the shopkeeper might say “Brand of what? Screwdrivers, sticky tape or light bulbs?”

The use of “brands” in that article inclines me not to trust it, because it betrays the mentality of the profit motive.

Take a newspaper.

What is the primary purpose of a newspaper?

  1. To make a profit?
  2. To publish and disseminate news?

“Brand” is a marker word for those who take the first attitude — the primary purpose of a newspaper is to make a profit. So when considering whether to publish a story and how much space to give it, the main criterion for the editor is not whether it is true, or whether it will inform, but “How many papers will it sell?”

So when people talk about “brands” instead of newspapers, journals, magazines or broadcast news programmes, I really don’t trust what they are saying, because they are using marketing speak rather than English. “Brands” suggests smoke and mirrors, a con job, all image and no substance. The important thing about brands is always to be polishing their brand image, rather than improving the product.

Which brand do you prefer? Sunlight, Volkswagen, Dulux or All Gold?

Branding cattle

Doesn’t that depend on whether you are buying soap, cars, paint or jam?

Which brand do you recommend?
Try this one sir, it has seven cupholders.
But how well does it spread when you take it out of the fridge?

The word “brand” comes from cattle ranching in unfenced territory.

Cattle keepers would mark their cattle with distinctive brands to show which belonged to them and which to someone else.

An unbranded beast was called a “maverick“, because no one knew who it belonged to.

So which news outlet do I prefer?

The Daily Maverick, of course.

It’s a good thing that no one is reading this

… so why do I bother to write it?

Pointless, my favourite TV show

Pointless, my favourite TV show

It seems that when I post a link to a blog post on Facebook lots of people comment on Facebook (never on the blog itself) and haven’t read the post anyway. It sometimes worried me and made me think sometimes that blogging was a pointless activity.

Here was I taking all this trouble to write something, but nobody was reading it. And anyway the people whose opinions I was seeking never responded because Facebook never showed it to them. Facebook’s algorithms seem pretty pointless too. I have something like 470 friends on FB, and Facebook only shows me stuff from about 15 of them. I become friends with someone on FB, and Facebook shows me their posts for 3 days and then stops. So what’s the point?

But then I read this (from a link from Twitter), and thought I’d better stop worrying about it Why it’s a very good sign that people don’t read your content:

When I started out as a blogger, I had no idea what I was doing. I was working so hard, and creating content that was pretty darn good. And yet, nobody was reading my posts, commenting, or sharing. I was frustrated.

Pointless-3But if it’s all pointless anyway, what does it matter?

As that article points (oops!) out, it doesn’t matter whether people read it or not, so why bother to try to write anything coherent when no one is going to read it anyway just random stream of consciousness stuff will do and writing a blog post will be like a dog scratching itself to get rid of flees but why is my doing still scratching himself when I just put Frontline tick stuff on him three days ago? Ah, Frontline there’s a brand, and brands are the most important thing nowadays. Content is nothing, brands are all. I’ve seen web sites that ask you what you’re interested in and one of the important things to be interested in is brands not brands of anything — cars, shampoo, antitick stuff for dogs it doesn’t matter the important thing is brands. Not art literature books or anything just brands.

TelkomQuotaActually I haven’t been reading many links on Facebook myself lately either. I “like” it or not based on the headline, because if I go to the article itself this will happen –>

And waiting for web pages to load becomes like watching paint dry. Telkom does have a thing where you can buy more bandwidth and speed it up again, but it hasn’t been working for a week now, which makes Telkom Internet pretty pointless too.

So I’m not reading your content and you’re not reading my content, but that’s a good thing, according to the quoted article, which I bet you haven’t read either.

And so life is reduced to pointless click bait.

 

Forget Chuck Norris — Steve is our man

Some years ago we were driving to Johannesburg along the N1 (when it was still a freeway, not a tollway) and I saw an advertising hoarding (billboard) announcing that Chuck Norris drives a …. (some brand of car).

I commented on this on LiveJournal, and wondered who Chuck Norris was, and discovered that he appeared in a TV series called Walker, Texas Ranger and that there were a lot of sayings about his exploits.

Someone else responded with this:

To Hell with Chuck, Steve is our man

  • Steve Hofmeyer once sakkied with 10 boere Poppies at once
  • Steve Hofmeyer drives a Tata
  • Steve Hofmeyer braais with his fingers
  • Steve Hofmeyer doesn’t support the Bulls, the Bulls support Steve Hofmeyer
  • Steve Hofmeyer doesn’t have a good voice, the microphone is scared of the Hofmeyer and makes his voice perfect
  • When Steve Hofmeyer stares at raw meat it turns to biltong
  • Bles Bridges didn’t die in a car crash Steve Hofmeyer beat him to death with a red rose
  • Steve Hofmeyer doesn’t keep a comb in his sock
  • Morkels gives Steve Hofmeyer any guarantee he wants
  • Steve Hofmeyer repossesses Bob Mugabe’s Farms…
  • Not even Chuck Norris gets as many fathers day cards as Steve Hofmeyer
Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris

Eventually that l;ist disappeared, along with the blog it was posted in, but I thought it was worth preserving as a snapshot of one aspect of South African (and world) culture about 10 years ago.

I don’t really do celebs, or brands, which puts me pretty much out of touch with current pop culture, in which, it appears, celebs and brands are the most important things. So all I really know about Steve Hofmeyer is the list of items above. I know he sings since the microphone is afraid of him. I don’t know whether Chuck Norris sings, and I can’t even remember what brand of car he drives.

Steve Hofmeyer

Steve Hofmeyer

We were reminded of it when we were chatting with a friend over coffee, and reminded of it again when Val got a speeding ticket from Bloemhof, saying that the offence took place at the Bles Bridges monument. We didn’t even know that there was a Bles Bridges monument.

I do know that Bles Bridges was a singer, because of a joke that did the rounds some years ago when Bles Bridges and Allan Boesak got divorced. It was something about an Elna and a Singer and a naaimasjien, but don’t ask me to tell it now, I’ll get it wrong. I heard it from Willem Saayman, of blessed memory (bles my bridges…) but he was sowing rather than sewing. I must end now because I’ve run out of puns.

 

Canon cameras: caveat emptor

As we are planning to go on holiday on Monday, and thought we might see some scenery and meet some people we had not met before, I counted my pennies and thought I could just afford a better camera, and so bought a Canon 1200d.

Canon 1200d Camera -- would not format memory card

Canon 1200d Camera — would not format memory card

When I got it home, however, it would not switch on at all. We charged the battery fully, but nothing happened. It was completely dead.

So today we took it back to the shop. They did not have a replacement in stock, so they phoned around their other branches, and discovered that their Centurion branch had one in stock, so we drove over there to collect it. I switched it on in the shop to verify that it did actually switch on, and we broughjt it home.

But when we tried to use it, it said it could not read the memory card — we should either format it, or insert a new one. So we tried to format the card, but it didn’t do that either. We tried a different memory card, with the same result. I tried formatting both cards in my computer, just to check to see that there was nothing wrong with the cards themselves, but they formatted fine. We tried a low-level format in the camera, but it gave up after a couple of seconds.

So there we were, with two dud Canon cameras in a row. It’s too late to get another one now, before we go on holiday, so we’ve asked for a refund. We’ll continue to use our cheap point-‘n-shoot compact cameras. The problem with point-‘n-shoot cameras is that sometimes it is impossible to see what the camera is pointed at at all. In bright sunlight the viewing screen is invisible, so you just point vaguely in the right direction and hope that you won’t just have a picture of the blue sky. Composing photos as you shoot is impossible. When you get home, cropping with photoediting software can improve the composition somewhat, but not all that much, if all you got was the blue sky.

Unfortunately it seems that no camera shops in South Africa stock decent brands, like Pentax. Our film Pentax cameras are nearly 40 years old, and still work fine. It’s just that film photography is so much more expensive.

Update: Third time lucky

Today (Sunday 16 August) we returned the second dud camera to the shop in Centurion, where we had got it. The staff were very helpful and found another branch that had one in stock, and we went to the Colonnade to collect it. We were most impressed by the firendliness and helpfulness of the staff at all three branches of the retailer, Photo & Beyond, trading as Kodak Express Digital Solutions. It wasn’t their fault that the cameras didn’t work, and they went out of their way to be helpful even at times when they were pretty busy. We got the feeling that the firm treat their staff well, and that they are happy in their work.

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