Aluminum Christmas Trees

Bradford McKee reminds me of a cultural icon from the 1960’s (I remember these): the aluminum Christmas Tree:

Mr. Shimon and Ms. Lindemann, while teaching photography together at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., have assembled a short history of the aluminum Christmas tree and its Manitowoc roots in a new book, “Season’s Gleamings: The Art of the Aluminum Christmas Tree” (Melcher Media), out this month. The book contains their photos of their trees ? twinkling limbs presented with deadpan cheer against mostly brightly colored backgrounds.

Elephants in the Living Room

Kuro5hin’s Coryoth writes an op-ed piece on the possibility of a severe economic correction:

The first elephant is debt. There are 3 kinds of debt that are of concern: Household debt, the budget deficit, and the current account or trade deficit. Of those three, it is only the budget deficit that gets any real attention, and even then it is often brushed aside……
The second elephant is the US Dollar. At the time of writing, the US Dollar is running at about 0.77 Euros to the Dollar. One could claim that this is simply due to a strong Euro, but in reality most world currencies, including the Japanese yen and the Great British pound are trading strongly against the US Dollar……
The third elephant is the rise of India and China. Both the Indian and Chinese economies are growing very rapidly. These are the two most populous nations on earth, so they should not be taken lightly.

2004 Honda Civic DX Sedan: $11,800 all in

One of my coworkers shopped hard and purchased a new 2004 Civic DX Sedan for $11,800, including tax & title. I had no idea one could still purchase a car like this:

  • 5 Speed
  • No Air Conditioning
  • Manual Windows
  • No Power Locks

He bought the car from Wilde Honda.
A car like this is a smart buy as it gets great mileage and has few things to break. Most manufacturers are loading cars with software and electronics that will be rather expensive to fix….

Overture Hall, Madison Symphony, James Trotter are all “Up to Date…”

James Oestreich on last weekend’s Symphony & organ performance:

The organ sounded splendid in Mr. Trotter’s performance of the Jongen work, though this is not quite so blatant a showpiece as, say, Saint-Sa?ns’s “Organ” Symphony (which the orchestra played in an earlier, prededication concert). The tonal qualities are rich and varied, and the sonic heft seems well suited to the space.
But it is crucial for a concert organ, as opposed to a church instrument, Mr. Trotter noted in conversation, to be able to blend with a symphony orchestra as well as stand up to it. And the blend here was uncanny, sometimes tricking the ear into confusing reed pipes with woodwind instruments.
But as good as all this news was, the crowning touch for an old Madison hand who arrived hopeful but not optimistic was the condition and quality of the Madison Symphony. At a time of orchestral retrenchment nationwide, this part-time group seems to be flourishing, with an annual surplus of $50,000 to $100,000 on its $2.8 million budget, and an endowment climbing toward $15 million. It added a third concert for 7 of its 9 subscription programs this season, and subscriptions and attendance are strong and rising steeply (partly, no doubt, because of the new hall).

It was indeed, an enjoyable evening. I agree with the writer that Madison is fortunate to have such a wonderful symphony.

Eric Schlosser Speaks at the UW Union

Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser spoke at the Wisconsin Union Theatre Monday night. Kristopher Irizarry has some excerpts:

Schlosser spent very little time discussing topics covered in his best-selling book ?Fast Food Nation,? with the exception of his engagement with the role the meatpacking industry plays in the life of America?s working poor, an issue he said he engaged several times in his career.
UW senior Kristen Jordan and junior Nora Dinneen said they were both a little ?disappointed in Schlosser?s politically slanted? speech.
?His research is impressive and I was hoping that he would speak more in the voice of his books,? Jordan said. ?I also wish that with all the bad organizations he talked about ? he would have given us contacts for organizations making a difference.?

Why Compete When You Can Lobby?

Telecoms giants oppose cities on web access. Once again, the SBC’s of the world would rather play politics than provide true high speed connectivity. 100mbps (100x faster than my home dsl line) is available in Japan and Korea for 35/month….. I wonder what the implications are for Madison and Dane County’s wireless plans?


Oscar Mayer For Sale?

Michael Arndt writes about Oscar Mayer parent Kraft Foods (itself part of Altria Group) rationalization plans (which include asset sales):

Now Deromedi is evaluating which brands to auction off next. As with the sale of Altoids and Life Savers to Wrigley, he’ll look at secondary brands or those where Kraft lacks the clout with retailers to turn things around. Analysts and consultants figure Oscar Mayer is most likely. Despite being the leader in bacon, hot dogs, and luncheon meats in the U.S., with $2.1 billion in annual sales, it has been losing out to cheaper store brands and has little brand recognition overseas. Kraft’s $1.2 billion-a-year Post cereals division, a distant No. 3 that also is ceding market share, could also be on the block. Michael A. Crowe, a senior managing director of Mesirow Financial, which owns 200,000 Kraft shares, hopes the sales come soon. “It’s not long overdue,” he says. “But it is overdue.”

This could be a rather big deal for Madison.

The Persuaders

Frontline (watch it online):

Americans are swimming in a sea of messages.
Each year, legions of ad people, copywriters, market researchers, pollsters, consultants, and even linguists?most of whom work for one of six giant companies?spend billions of dollars and millions of man-hours trying to determine how to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think. Increasingly, these techniques are migrating to the high-stakes arena of politics, shaping policy and influencing how Americans choose their leaders.

This is an interesting example: I recently posted a few comments on Pepsi Spice It looks to me like Pepsi’s ad agencies are attempting to run a viral marketing campaign using search engines. I could be wrong but find it hard to believe that customers are flocking to search engines looking for Pepsi Spice information….