Buying a home: avoiding the pitfalls
Lightspeedchick is starting her search for a new place, buying for the first time. So, M-J, here are some notes from our friends and our own buying experience in the extended post body, if you find them helpful.
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The Girly-Men, Volvo-Driving, Brie-Eating Blowhards Shall Inherit The Earth
So while we we all distracted with the Britney Spears wedding nonsense, oil hit $50 a barrel yesterday.
In the wake of a War for Oil whose outcome is still undecided, the Coors-family-funded Independence Institute - a Golden, Colorado-based right-wing think tank whose members support things such as assault weapons for everyone, using the canard of "property rights" to quash sensible civic zoning schemes, and funding GOP candidates who will parrot their talking points at every opportunity - support sprawl and car-centric development under the guise of economic growth, through the front of Randall O'Toole's 'Center for the American Dream.'
This center held a conference last year in, ironically, the most planned city in the US, Washington, DC (at a hotel touted for being 'in walking distance' of everything).
Their anti-Smart Growth / New Urbanism screed was put forth by speakers who used the following 'fair and balanced' epithets to describe their opponents:
"quacks, smart growth wackos, evil bastards, a bunch of eggheads, a bunch of lying jerks, damnable liars, pointy-headed intellectual fascists (this was by far the most repeated moniker), pointy-headed intellectual bastards (pointy-headed was a big theme...), a bunch of commies, the bad guys, busy-bodies advocating latte towns,"
and my personal favorite...
"a bunch of elitist, volvo-driving, brie-cheese eating blowhards"
I mean, come on, people. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed Smart Growth zoning into law in car-choked KalifŲhneea.
Is marketing evil?
Elitist critics of American culture want us to believe that marketing is inherently evil and manipulative, that we are dumb animals, easily herded to buy things we donít want or need. Iíve never believed that. Companies that canít convince consumers that their products or services will bring them to a better place will fail. Those that lie or appear manipulative will be exposed and rejected. The problem is not marketing itself, but the fact that people often turn to things to meet psychological and even spiritual needs.
As I've said before, marketing is a tool for research and development, not inherently evil or dangerous in itself. Advertising, too. We hate advertising because it is done so badly, so ineffectively, and usually full of false promises. Paradoxically, advertising is most effective and direct when it just tells the truth -- like thetruth.com's highly-effective anti-tobacco campaign.
I'm of the view that adults have become inured to advertising; they certainly don't pay attention to blinking banner ads on the Web, and they tune out flashy, expensive TV spots. No-one really pays attention to ads (as they are currently done) anymore except young children.
While we may be moving inexorably back to a local, agrarian, authentic culture (when the fossil fuels run out) -- albeit with Internet access and cell phones -- there will always be Large Organizations who have to communicate with the public, and tailor services and products to meet their needs. Marketing -- as in, research, observation, hypothesis, testing, development -- helps narrow the gap and if properly done, reduces waste.
It is in the execution of marketing and advertising that things have to change. I see things like The Cluetrain Manifesto to be a harbinger of how things will be -- more interactive, more personal, more blog-like, one-on-one, no cold bland corporate voice, no 'us and them', just Sally your next-door neighbor, who works down at the bank answering your questions in person or online. Of course there will be people who try to appropriate this authentic voice or fake it, and they deserve to fail miserably. But instead of complaining about it, why don't we get together and build it?