July 12th, 2010


For The Rest Of The World

Results Of The 2010 FIFA World Cup From South Africa

First Place... Spain
Second Place... Netherlands
Third Place... Germany
Other... Uruguay

I Can Live With These

Living in West Michigan, which has a heavy Dutch history and influence, there was a lot of pull for the Netherlands team to win the World Cup. And frankly, at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Mrs. Dr. Phil and I managed to catch a quarterfinal match between the Netherlands and Japan in women's volleyball -- and the orange bedecked fans were something of a hoot to watch. So I would've been happy with the Netherlands winning -- and thrilled if that enormous orange crowd in Amsterdam could've had the win. (An NPR story on Friday reminded me of an earlier Netherlands run for the World Cup touting something called Total Football. Wow, hadn't heard that term in years.) Alas for the Dutch, it was the crowd ESPN was showing in Cadiz which got to go wild. But in Extra Time, so that's a plus for Dr. Phil, who loves overtime and extra inning games, especially for a championship.

Still, in Spain we have a new country amongst the winners, so the 2010 World Cup will go down as anything but The Usual Suspects.

It's Not That I Don't Care

Actually I saw more matches and was more invested in this World Cup than in any other time in my life, and for that I can thank ESPN's valiant attempt to get more Americans watching World Cup by showing every game and putting some big games on ABC. But even ESPN I'm sure has to admit that an American team which made it into the second round helped a helluva lot, to say nothing of the drama of playing England "again" in the first round.

So we'll see if this makes a dent in America's interest in futbol, or whether it's like the Olympics and we only get interested in this stuff once every four years.

Dr. Phil

That Thousandth Of A Second Of Surprise

A Momentary Jolt

Enter building. Press button to elevator. Elevator arrives, doors open. You don't really expect to see a third of the space of the elevator filled with metal tanks. And nobody with them.

There is that moment of Huh?, colliding with that moment of This Does Not Look Good, in this post-9/11 world before you realize that what you are looking at is a whole bunch of fire extinguishers neatly standing together.

Yeah, they're changing out the fire extinguishers and so one of the elevator cars is doing the heavy carrying. Now you'd think they'd stop the elevator at each floor, but of course that trips off an annoying alarm. So it's gotta be really annoying to have to take a couple of fire extinguishers and get off on a floor, change them, then have to call the elevator perhaps more than once to get "your" car back. (grin)

And As I Write This...

I just heard someone in the hallway and the metallic clang of a cylinder banging on the metal bracket as the nearest unit to me is changed.

Still, there's that annoying little voice nagging in the background. "They" want you to THINK that those are fire extinguishers. Yeah, like anyone really needs to give "them" any more bad ideas.

Dr. Phil

Maybe It's A Sinister Plot

I Never Thought I'd Write About This A Third Time

But that damned Erica's friends buy her the Toyota Corolla of her dreams commercial really annoys me. And one commenter says that the Facebook site shows "out takes" including Erica delivering cupcakes -- unwrapped cupcakes -- from the basket of her bicycle. Oh yeah, she's a professional baker, er, pastry chef.

I Really Was Going To Let This Alone

But I had a thought the other night that made me question the motivations of Toyota and their ad agency. Previously I'd mocked them for thinking that just everyone has a bunch o' friends who can fork over three thousand each and buy you that new car you want. And that I thought this terribly out of touch with reality for most people. People buying you new cars, they're probably not buying you a Corolla anyway, at least according to the Lexus and Mercedes Christmas ads. (grin)

So here's the thing -- Erica isn't after the car she needs for her business, since we've already established that she could probably have saved something to get a useable used ride to delivery her confections. No, she's after the car she wants. Yes, that brand new Toyota Corolla she can't afford right now is what she wants, not needs.

But... Pause to sprinkle special fairy dust on our special snowflake... oh look! Here come your special snowflake friends to give you what you want. Now here's where maybe I was wrong and this is where it gets insidious and devious. What if they want you to think that because she just got what she wanted, now you are entitled to get what you wanted, too? You're entitled! Just sign here on the dotted line, because you don't need to cough up the money to pay for something you want -- at least not at the start. Because we're hurting here and not selling enough cars, so you gotta do your part to help us.

Magical Financial Thinking

We have a current financial meltdown we're riding out that has been brought about because financial institutions had been trying to get people to buy the crap out of stuff they want, not what they need or can afford. Guess what? That didn't work.

Recently I was poking around Amazon looking at the current crop of Nikon FX sensor digital SLRs. Having grown up with Nikon 35mm SLRs, I'd like to have some modern digital full-frame equivalent cameras and because I haven't bought any Nikons in a long time, I wanted to see what the current offerings (and prices) were up to. I'd like them. I want them. I don't need them. That's why I haven't spent the couple of thousand dollars on those, and instead am making do with a decent little Sony digital camera with a far more than decent Carl Zeiss lens.

Still, that hasn't stopped me from getting an email from Amazon pointing out that I could buy the Nikon FX sensor digital SLR of my dreams on credit through them. As opposed to buying it on credit with my credit card. Or waiting until I can afford it. (grin) You know, if I was a professional photographer, I'd consider getting a business loan or even a consumer loan to finance the cameras and lenses, if I thought I was going to make enough money. But this would be for me -- so... No.

We've Been Doing This To Ourselves For A Long Time

People forget about this, but way back in the mid-70s we started seeing these big three lens projection wide screen televisions. And they sold some to bars and other public venues -- one was installed in the student union at Northwestern -- but after a while that market was saturated. And yet newer units were coming out, as well as the ability to make much larger picture tubes. 36" and 44" picture tube color TVs were unheard of before this. Anyway, in trying to figure out how to market and sell these as consumer items, the electronics industry went to the banking industry -- and the concept of the home improvement loan was expanded into the home equity loan and home equity line of credit.

Can't afford that giant 60" big screen TV? No problem, pay for it through your home mortgage and it hardly costs anything a month... for a lot of months. Pretty soon we had people buying big TVs, Hawaiian vacations and even cars, and paying for them over 10-30 years. A car on a 30-year mortgage? Really? Car loans were still 36-48 months then, not 60 or more months. And cars had to get a lot more reliable to justify paying for them over five or more years. So unless you're buying a Rolls or some really well-built solid car that can last multiple decades, this doesn't make sense. You'll be on your third or fourth car before you've paid off the first one.

And people did this. You could even argue that a home theatre was actually a home improvement and not just a big fancy TV. And at least this form of magical financial thinking had consumer products and income to back up the payments, something that the absurd mortgages of late didn't have.

So I'm Worried

Is the Erica Toyota ad a new invitation for people to forget the economic times and just satisfy their lust for a new car? Maybe. At least, at the risk of it being a mean and cynical ploy, it makes more sense than an ad agency and a car company thinking that a bunch of friends can just pony up and buy someone with a marginal business, and not a lot of signs they have a good business plan, a new car. One is trying to instill a new round of magical financial thinking, the other is just fantasy.

In my humble old jaded and cynical view. (evil grin)

Dr. Phil