I love the game of Tennis. I started playing when I five, competed at the regional and national levels, and continue to play, and enjoy the game to this day. I taught tennis and was captain of my high school team. Clearly tennis has been a big part of my life. In fact, I think that tennis serves as a paradigm for life. A player is out there on the court, all by him or herself, and must strategically battle against an opponent. A player must pick out weaknesses in an opponent, try different types of shots (topspin, slice, kick, loopy etc.), as well as deal with unforeseen elements like wind. Players are even forbidden from speaking with their respective coaches during a match. Tennis is a lot like life, you’re out there by yourself and have to figure out a way to make things work, a way to survive: a way to win. I could go on and on about this particular subject, however I want to take this time to discuss some qualms that I have with the sport and its rules.
I’ve been watching Wimbledon for the past week. There have been some truly spectacular matches and a myriad of upsets: Nadal went down in the second round, and Federer squeaked out a nail biter in his third round appearance. As much as I love watching professional tennis, I have to say that it’s rules are downright stupid.
I can understand wearing white during a match, as is the best aid against the sun and it’s the tradition of Wimbledon. That’s right, Wimbledon, where it all began: the tradition, prestige and all that b.s. Whatever it’s not that big of a deal that players have to wear white. Why aren’t fans allowed to cheer during a match? Are the players taking a standardized test out there? They are professionals playing a sport, and should be able to deal with noise while they play. Why is it that in any other sport besides golf, fans are allowed to cheer during play. I think that serving in tennis is a lot like taking a free throw in basketball. When Lebron steps up to the line to shoot his free throw, he has thousands of fans in front of him waving their arms, screaming death threats, and booing at a deafening tone:but I don’t hear him complaining. Why do tennis players need silence during a match? In fact, I think that tennis would benefit from some noise. It’s so stifling to sit in a tennis arena where everyone is silent. You may hear an oohhh or an ahhh here and there, quickly followed by a multitude of SHHHHHHH’s. I think it’s stupid. Pro athletes are just that-Pros, PROFESSIONALS. If you can’t deal with noise while playing a sport, then you ain’t a pro-sorry to break it to you. I guess I’m just frustrated with the “special needs” of tennis players. I think that tennis would get a lot more recognition and grow a much larger fan base with a more liberal attitude. Let the players play and let the fans be fans. Any thoughts?
Isn’t it nice not to have to think? Siri proved that having an adept personal assistant could make life easier. However, on Wednesday Google announced a new search feature for smartphones called “Google Now.” Google now knows your interests, tastes and most visited websites/searches. The program saves all of these preferences and apparently does tasks automatically.
Google Execs showcased the new intelligence by showing how Google Now could check his calendar, location and traffic conditions to tell him precisely when to leave for a meeting, or see his flight was delayed and suggest he go to the gym -knowing full well the average length of his workouts and the time needed to get to the airport. Google now makes Siri look like child’s play. Imagine a world where you don’t have to think about anything: your smartphone decides where you go to eat dinner, what you order, what movie to see after etc. etc. All of this based off of your perceived tastes, searches etc.
Don’t tastes and preferences change? Isn’t there a certain amount of ambiguity in an individual that a computer cannot fathom. Isn’t making decisions on a daily basis a part of life? What if you spontaneously changed your persona? Would Google Now (or whatever device is tracking you) know the change you made in character? When do we say enough is enough? Or are these devices actually making life easier on us? Thoughts, opinions?
What drives us as human beings? While it’s different for each individual person, two universal things drive the human race: money, and the need for recognition. I believe that these are of utmost importance to everybody-whether you are conscious of it or not. Both of these “needs” are trivially sought after to fulfill our egos. However, the paradox is that while we believe these two things will make us happy and fulfill the ego, the ego can never truly be satisfied. The ego is like a hot fire that always needs more logs thrown on it in order to keep it burning. It never stops and it always wants/needs more.
Let’s start with money. Money allows us to buy things, and pragmatically speaking, it is necessary to fulfill our basic needs. We need it to pay our bills, to feed ourselves (and our families). However, money is also a faculty that we use to show others that we are, “important.” People strive to make money to fulfill the insatiable creature that lives within all of us: our ego. The ego wants to feel important, it wants to be, or feel, recognized and valuable. Money is a seemingly easy way to meet the demands our ego. However, the ego can never truly be fulfilled. If you make some money, it wants more money; if you get some success, it wants more success. The ego can never really be fulfilled: it always wants more, bigger, better etc. I always say that money will not necessarily make me happy, but without it I will surely not be content. When money is used to fulfill the ego, and define a person, it will never lead to happiness. However, if a person is able to make the distinction between him or herself and money, it can aid in one’s pursuit of happiness.
Recognition is a huge driving force for us as human beings. Recognition can be anything from your boss patting you on the back because you did a great job that day, to a beautiful woman (or man) showing you love. A basic instinct is our sex drive: love is an affirmation of oneself in another. Love and sex are completely disparate entities, but they both fuel our need to be recognized. We all need sex. It is healthy and completely natural. Sometime people get mixed up and mistakenly believe that love and sex are interchangeable. They are different in a myriad of ways. Like I said, love is an affirmation of oneself in another person. Love involves sex, but sex does not necessarily involve love. Love for another reaffirms everything that you stand for: your principles, values, tastes etc. Sex alone does not do that. The ego in its constant drive to be defined, gain and conquer can trick people into believing that sex is love. A lot of people grapple onto a partner because of what they believe it says about them. If you are with a beautiful partner then other people must thing that you are important, wealthy good looking (the list goes on and on). Recognition through another person will never make a person happy. It may fulfill their ego (for a short while), but it will never lead to long lasting happiness. I think that true love for another is the only way to find long lasting happiness. But hey, what the hell do I know.
Last night I was intent on watching one of my favorite movies: “The King of New York,” starring Christopher Walken and Lawrence Fishburne. I went to Walmart, Target and Best Buy-all three of which did not have it. Determined to find the movie, I whipped out my smart phone and looked for a movie rental store in my area; according to Google maps, the closest movie rental store was three towns over-about a 20 minute drive. I took the journey to one of the few remaining movie rental stores in my state, and low and behold they had the movie which I so desperately sought! BUT, they only had “The King of New York” on VHS. VHS? Are you kidding me. I haven’t watched a movie on VHS in over a decade. The rental store seemed like a museum full of ancient artifacts. Dust ridden VHS movies lined the shelves; I felt like I was on an archeological excursion. The guy told me it would only cost me 5 bucks to become a member and the first movie would be free- my reply: “Dude how much to buy the movie?” I’m not proud to admit it, but I paid $14 for “The King of New York” on VHS. I got back to my car and a thought struck me like a lightning bolt: do I even have a VHS player anymore?
After perusing my basement and shed, I found the coveted treasure in my attic. The VHS player had to weigh 30 pounds. I hooked it up to the T.V. in my living room, changed the input, and turned it to “channel 3.” Remember Channel 3? Just to make sure the VHS player still worked after so many years of collecting dust, I put an old Disney movie in that was sitting next to the player when I found it: “Dumbo.” I threw in Dumbo, heard the VHS click and start to wind, and there came Dumbo the Elephant on my screen. I watched didn’t move or flinch at all as I gazed in amazement. I had some kind of indescribable nostalgic experience, with the lines running across the screen and a little fuzziness as the tape played. I immediately thought of a time when my father and I were having a hard time getting a movie to work when I was a child; we had to take the VHS out blow on it, huff and puff, and then put it back in with our fingers crossed. As I reminisced, I thought to myself- has something been lost in translation? Technological advances are beneficial right? Or do we lose something as technological norms are displaced?
Obviously DVD’s are indisputably superior technology to VHS. However, as rapid advancements in technology continue to displace the “old” with the “new” do we lose something, or are we only gaining? DVD’s are certainly more efficient than VHS, Blue Ray looks a lot cooler, and now most people don’t even bother buying an actual tangible product-they simply download it off the internet, or use their Netflix account. Of course things get easier and more efficient, but is that everything?
The other day, I was on the train reading my Kindle (by the way I’m not a Kindle kind of guy, but my Mom bought it for me so I feel like I’m obliged to use it from time to time) and I looked over at an attractive girl reading “The Great Gatsby.” I thought to myself, “that’s my type of girl.” She’s attractive and reading one of my all-time favorite novels. I learned something about her and her personality simply by looking at what she was reading. When she looked at me, (which she probably didn’t) I was just some guy reading his Kindle. She didn’t know what I was reading, what I was interested in or anything about my personality. Of course the Kindle is an amazing invention, but do we lose something when we discard real book? Does convenience and efficiency outweigh personalization? More and more people are using Netflix, on Demand and other ways of Downloading movies, instead of buying the actual DVD. Most of you probably forgot, but DVD’s have cases with the Title and usually some cool picture of the main character etc. I always love when I go to someone’s house and they have a gigantic DVD collection-you can learn so much about a person just by looking at it. I was at a house party once and there was a DVD case sitting on a coffee table. A girl that I had just met made a comment about the movie, which happened to be one of my favorite comedies. That started a conversation between the two of us, we related to one another, and as it turns out, we went on a few dates after. I guess preferences in movies are not the only criterion for a long lasting relationship, because it didn’t last. Anyway, I think I’m trying to say that technological innovation has a myriad of benefits. However, with that said, along with those pros come cons. If I go to someone’s house, I’m not going to check their Netflix Queue to learn about their tastes and preferences. But if I go to that same person’s house and they have a DVD collection, then we just might have something to talk about. Comments, disagreements hate mail?? Always welcome.
I’m sitting here thinking about the effect that marketing has on the sales of different products. Most products are innately distinct in some shape or form. For example, a Mercedes vs. a BMW; they are both German luxury cars, yet are distinct in myriad of ways. Clearly, marketing efforts in the car industry are a lot easier, because the products are unique in look, shape, maneuverability, prestige etc. I was trying to think of the toughest product to market: one where the products are so similar that marketing efforts are the only way to differentiate the products-VODKA!
Can you tell the difference in taste between Grey Goose, Bicardi, Smirnoff, Stoli, or Ciroc? I sure as hell cannot. Unless I am drinking the vodka that comes in a clear plastic bottle (the type I drank in high school and my frat parties), I cannot tell the difference. So why is it that Grey Goose is the Goliath of the Vodka industry. Goose has a certain mystique about it. The brand fosters a feeling of prestige and luxury. When you order Grey Goose at the bar, you are making a statement: “Yeah that’s right; I’m the man and I got money.” Vodka taste tests around the world have never picked Grey Goose as the best tasting vodka. In fact, the vodka that consistently wins best taste and smoothness from vodka connoisseurs is Smirnoff. So how is it that Grey Goose ascended to the top of the vodka market?
Every vodka brand has some claim to differentiate itself from the competition-”distilled six times, distilled four times, importe from Russia.” With a little research, I was able to find out exactly how Grey Goose created a brand that eventually sold for 2.2 billion dollars. Sidney Frank, a self-made billionaire saw a niche for Vodka in the United States. In 1997 he came out with Grey Goose. Ironically, the name is genius, but the only reason he used it was because he already owned the rights to the name from a previous venture-talk about a good luck. Sidney felt that Vodka imported from France (known for the best wine region in the world) would create a sense of credibility for the brand. He meticulously selected the design for the bottle-the frosted outside and the logo. However, the most genius part of it all was his decision to put a cork in the bottle. No other brand of vodka had done this and it created a sense of prestige to the consumer. Furthermore, he imported the product in wooden crates: the same way fine bottles of wine were and continue to be imported. All of these characteristics together, created a sense of superiority. In addition, Grey Goose sponsored a myriad of high end celebrity events, in which they gave out free bottles, T-shirts and gift baskets, simultaneously to the products launch. Even though Goose was purchased by Bicardi in 2004, it remains the premium Vodka. Grey Goose epitomizes “top shelf liquor,” and more importantly stands apart from its competitors in a crowded market. Vodka is one of the toughest products to sell: for the most part, ordinary people can’t tell the difference. However, people want to be served Goose, they want others to see them order and drink Goose. Grey Goose continues to thrive because of the perception that its marketing has instilled in consumers. Thoughts, feelings, objections? Love to hear them all.
The United States adopted capitalism from its very beginning. Within capitalism, there are monopolies, oligopolies and something economists refer to as “perfect competition.” When the Iphone 1 was first introduced in 2007, it was completely innovative and broke down the barriers of what we have now come to know as a “mobile device.” Apple basically had a monopoly. It was the first to enter the market, and therefore prospered greatly (financially). Having said that, in a capitalistic society, competition is natural, and furthermore encouraged. Blackberry was actually the first to enter the smartphone market, but Steve Jobs (Apple) revolutionized the mobile phone industry; however that doesn’t mean that the company is entitled to a monopoly.
While it would be nice to say that the mobile phone industry fosters a “perfectly competitive market,” that would be an idealistic view. In reality, the market is an oligopoly with four major players-Apple, Android, Blackberry, and last/least, Windows. As is natural in any market, demand for a product will drive supply:as demand continues price will increase. Naturally, when demand for a certain product shoots up, competitors will seek to enter the market. That is exactly what occurred when Android came onto the scene in 2008. Androids entry was natural and necessary. The iphone has obviously progressed significantly, as have Android’s devices. So why now is Apple desperately trying to stop Android from releasing its newest model:the Samsung Galaxy s3?
Apple initially sued Android in 2011, stating that the company violated two of their patented features. While this is clearly debatable, why is Apple so concerned with the new Android device. Clearly they are afraid that the new Samsung Galaxy s3 (run on the ice cream sandwich operating system) will turn out to be a better product/alternative to the iphone4 and 5, which is going to be released later this year. “The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California court rejected Apple’s attempt to circumvent the legal process in order to delay the launch of the Galaxy S III. Apple must file a separate preliminary injunction motion, resulting in separate proceedings.” So, Apple’s lawsuit has been temporarily put to rest. Samsung stated that Apple’s injunction was too late, and the company would not allow it to slow down the introduction of Android’s new phone in the U.S. Personally, I think the entire lawsuit is frivolous. What is this about? Apple is scared that Android is going to dominate the smartphone market, so they file a lawsuit. Wouldn’t it be more efficient and mature for Apple to focus on innovating their existing platform and keeping up with the competition? I smell fear. What do you think? Love to hear thoughts as always. Until next time.