What Lies Beneath?

If Robert Ballard’s enthusiastic presentation Exploring the Ocean’s Hidden Worlds featured on TED doesn’t rev you up about the possibilities that lie beneath the surface of the world’s oceans, well, you may not have a pulse.   Or maybe you just never had an aquarium as a kid or marveled as Jacques Cousteau plumbed the depths of the amazing underwater world on TV.

Anyway, Ballard is an oceanographer, marine geologist, & shipwreck explorer (he led the teams that discovered the wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989, & the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in 1998).   In this talk, he passionately discusses oceanic exploration as a better, more sensible (and probably far more profitable) alternative to space exploration and brings up a lot of interesting questions about why we aren’t devoting more resources & energy to exploring some of the largest (and largely uncharted) features on our own planet.

Particularly interesting is the contrast between the budgets of the 2 U.S. exploration programs — NASA, tasked with exploring space, and NOAA, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration — and the striking remark that the funds from just one year of NASA’s annual budget would fund NOAA’s budget to explore the oceans for 1,600 years.   But the even more surprising comment made during this presentation is:

50% of America lies beneath the sea and we have better maps of Mars than that 50%.

At a time when the U.S. is up against greater international competition than ever, I think Ballard makes an especially compelling case for radically-increased exploration, mapping, & mining of our oceans.   Watch the video and please post a comment with your thoughts on this:

YIMBY

As a longtime fan of Will Wright’s city building simulator game SimCity, I’m very familiar with the term NIMBY, which is an acronym for "Not In My Back Yard," a phrase used to describe resistance from citizens to the development of landfills, affordable housing (especially multi-family housing), industrial facilities, or other services or structures.   In the game (as in real life) citizens frequently boycott controversial, unsightly, or distasteful things from being located in their neighborhoods even if they themselves and/or those around will benefit from the construction.

Likewise, there’s an opposite acronym for those rare occasions when the people are excited about something new in their neighborhood — YIMBY.   And YIMBY, or "Yes In My Back Yard," is our new motto now that our swanky "Veranda" is complete!

The patio cover project progressed very rapidly and construction has actually been done for several days now, but we wanted to wrap up a few finishing details before the unveiling.   For more details, be sure to check out our Veranda & Back Yard page.

Completed patio cover

Of course, you can also peruse our 2Dolphins Resort & Spa page for revealing looks & other ongoing home improvement efforts throughout the rest of our house.
 

Motivated Marketing

Gasoline has now peaked $4 per gallon and you’re stuck driving a hulking behemoth that gets 12 M.P.G. — if you’ve got a tailwind.   How the heck did this happen?

Marketing.

It’s not easy to admit, but most of us are willing victims of marketing.   Very, very clever people are paid lavish salaries to coax, convince, or otherwise cajole our ideals and opinions about everything from cars to shoes to pizza to trashbags.   Yup, these are the guys whose job it is to bend our wills — and they’re very, very good at it.   In particular, U.S. automakers & their marketing wizards have a magical hold on us.   They’ve been hand-crafting the public’s perceived need for the kind of vehicles they want us to buy for decades now.   Not sure what I mean?   Don’t think you can be manipulated?   Need proof?

     "That thing got a Hemi?"

Pure genius.   I didn’t even know what the heck a Hemi was when that Dodge advertising campaign launched, but I sure was checking the contents of my shorts, feeling so inadequate over not having a big honkin’ truck equipped with a Hemi engine.   Think that doesn’t sell vehicles?   Think again!   Take note of how many big hinkin’, 8-cylinder, 4-wheel drive, quad-cab trucks and lumbering, oversized SUVs are on the road serving as nothing more than single-occupancy commuter vehicles.

Yup, American automakers haven’t needed to be concerned with fuel efficiency or catering to the small car market because they’ve had most of us securely under their spell for so long.   They’ve snookered us into believing that bigger & more cylinders are better and that we need the horsepower to do zero-to-60 in 6.5 seconds or else we’re pansies.   If you’re driving a small, inexpensive car with a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine, you must either be destitute (because affluent people drive big cars with beefy engines), or some kind of treehugging, rice-eating, commie-lovin’, hippie.

By golly, if you’re not driving a big-ass, rubber-burnin’, God Bless America, gas-guzzling GM truck, well, Bob Seger & John Mellencamp are going to come over to your house, beat ya up, drink up all your beer, and prolly take your girlfriend!

And women aren’t immune to the crafty marketing pressures either.   A decade or so ago, U.S. automakers began targeting that segment by hoodwinking safety-conscious moms with the false perception that SUVs are safer.

Even now, they’re feverishly trying to hustle the more environmentally-aware among us with SUV hybrids.   These are nothing more than a sad, misguided, & utterly greedy attempt on the behalf of automakers to seem "green" yet continue to cater to outdated, redneck attitudes.   The whole idea of the improved fuel efficiency of a hybrid is almost completely negated by the added weight & poor aerodynamics of SUVs.   (Not to mention that they’re still not nearly as safe as they’d have you believe.)

So how the heck are we supposed to feel good about buying a small car from these hucksters now?

Marketing.

After more than 50 years of profiting handsomely (to put it mildly) from skillfully shaping our desires & subsequent purchasing habits by building false perceptions and stroking our redneck egos about how horsepower equals manhood, the automotive industry & their marketing geniuses have a social responsibility to apply that same moneygrubbing fervor towards making Americans feel OK about buying smaller, less resource-wasteful cars.

Advertising shapes public opinion so automakers need to get busy selling a new idea!
 

July 2008 Blogtipping

Blogtipping sign icon"Blogtipping" was created by Easton Ellsworth over at Business BlogWire to offer 3 complements & a tip or constructive comment to 3 fellow bloggers each month.   With so much going on in analog world, Dede & I have barely had time to keep up with anything digital, so our Blogtipping for July is another assortment of unrelated, but still very cool blogs that we think you should take a peek at:

Let’s Explore by Amy Anderson offers lots of inventive & inexpensive activities, crafts, & even snacks for kids.   Dede wanted to highlight this site because:

  1. It features loads of things to keep kids hands & minds busy.
  2. Amy proves that kids’s stuff can be both frugal and fun!
  3. Great mini-reviews of children’s books.
  • Tip: Hey Amy, maybe you should add an "About" page so we can get to know a bit more about you?

The Simple Dollar from Trent Hamm offers "cents and sense" with simple ways to manage finances, save a little money, and improve your life.   This is a recent find that quickly landed in my Google Reader list because:

  1. Truckloads of practical finance & lifestyle tips.
  2. The blog is frequently updated with fresh & interesting new content and has lots of helpful reader comments.
  3. Clean & easy to navigate site design, plus email or RSS feed subscription.
  • Tip: The content is great, but I’d suggest adding a few more images to visually jazz up the posts.

I Do Things So You Don’t Have To is chocked full of all sorts of things, from kinda ordinary to adventurous to downright wacky, that JD is willing to let her readers experience vicariously through her.   There’s plenty to like about this blog:

  1. The author’s sharp wit makes even mundane "things" fun & interesting.
  2. Who else would live with a rodent, go on a crazy diet, have a tooth pulled, watch a crummy movie, or live through an allergic reaction — and then blog about it?
  3. You can subscribe to the RSS feed or have updates sent to you via email.
  • Tip: I can’t think of anything to add but I’m anxious to see what JD gets into next!

Now it’s your turn!   Have a new blog you’d like to share?   Post a comment!