Sapient Salad: A One-Seater Sports Car, What Money CAN Buy, and Why a Nearly-Century-Old Medium Isn’t Going Anywhere…

Hello!
As a new blogger, I have been greatly gratified that over a dozen strangers have offered encouragement by following this blog, written as it is by a virtual stranger himself.
I’ve done my share of writing, but never quite like this.  Blogging is an experimental experience for me.  I haven’t quite settled on a format yet and I dare say over the next several weeks you select few who read this may see more change than consistency.
I myself am a work in progress, why should my blog reflect anything different?
At first I thought I would post my book reviews, interspersed with a few of my favorite quotes, but frankly it’s not working for me and I’m the one who has to read this even more thoroughly than YOU do!
So tonight, an experiment, the latest in who knows how many?  Thank you for tagging along!  I hope to hold your interest and not abuse your patient kindness…

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First, the car…
Not just any car, a Lamborghini.

And not just any Lamborghini, a concept car designed for one.  That’s right, only one passenger: the driver.  Or should we call him “the pilot”?

You see, this Lamborghini, even more than its slightly more run of the mill cousins, was inspired by the Apache helicopter which is presently the airborne warhorse of the U.S. Defense Department.

Only room for one kiester in this baby!  Hence its name (tympani drum roll):

The Egoista (cymbals crash)

At least the folks at Lamborghini’s corporate ownership (that would be Volkswagen, actually) have no illusions about to whom such a car would be marketed.  Can you say “red-shifted trophy-wife mid-life crisis with low testosterone avoidance system?”  Take a look:

As Clifford Atiyeh (no big red dog jokes, please!) writes for MSN*Autos, “Walter de Silva, better known for crafting production cars like the Golf and Audi A5, was tasked with creating an outrageous display for Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary party last night (May 12th.)

“After the Italian supercar maker unveiled the Veneno in March (three will be built) and the track-only Sesto Elemento in 2010 (slated for a 20-car run this year), there was nothing left to do but build a ground missile like the Egoista. And Lamborghini is quite frank about the Egoista’s purpose.

“It is a car for itself, a gift from Lamborghini to Lamborghini, resplendent in its solitude. The Egoista is pure emotion, Never Never Land, which no one can ever possess, and which will always remain a dream, for everyone.”

“The only production-ready feature is a 600-horsepower engine based on the Gallardo’s 5.2-liter V10. Everything else is fantasy. The jagged lines, which Yahoo rightfully said “could julienne a pedestrian,” are designed to deflect radar. The driver can eject himself from the orange-tinted, antiglare cockpit. There are “No Step” labels on various carbon fiber and aluminum body parts. The LED lights, including a red flasher on the tail, are designed as flight-marker lights would be on a helicopter.

“Lamborghini’s other production cars, such as the the Reventon, have been designed to echo aircraft. The Egoista, on the other hand, is an explicit representation of an actual war machine that makes the Aventador’s flip-up red ignition button look like a Toys R Us keychain.”

Jay Leno can salivate all he wants; Jerry Seinfeld can ask “What’s THAT all about?” until he’s blue in the face; Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark and the rest can just go on wanting it in their dreams!
Impractical to the point of absurdity?  You bet!
But do I (and every other guy you’ve ever known) want to own it?
Oh, yes please!

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Moving on…
It seems that Philip Moeller at US News & World Report today has posted an article that puts forth the proposition that money CAN buy happiness… IF you know how to spend it properly.
Apparently, I’ve been doing it all wrong all these years…
Here’s what Mr. Moeller has to say in “Five Ways Money Can Buy Happiness”:

Psychologists have been busy testing the premise that money can’t buy happiness. Nobel prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman has garnered lots of attention with research that says this largely is true. Beyond about $75,000 in annual income — enough to fund a moderately comfortable lifestyle — more money does not make people much happier, he said.

Happy Couple (© Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Not so fast, say two young academics. Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and Michael Norton, an associate professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, have written a new book called “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending.” In the book, they make a persuasive case that money does have the ability to buy happiness, and it’s not how much money you have that matters, but how you spend it.

Much of the “money can’t buy happiness” school of behavioral thought rests on a concept called hedonic adaptation: The human brain rapidly adjusts to what it senses. What’s new today becomes ho-hum tomorrow. And so it is with material acquisitions. That shiny new car gives us immense happiness when we drive it off the lot. But we soon get used to it, and it ceases to provide much happiness. Ditto for other possessions.

Hedonic adaptation extends to human relationships. The torrid romance gives way to the memorable honeymoon, which is followed by the exciting early years of marriage and then often succeeded by a reality in which even the strongest marriage may become routine to both members of the happy couple.

The path to happiness, Dunn and Norton say in their short and engaging tour of the happiness landscape, is, in effect, an end run around the brain’s adaptive power. They cite a wealth of research supporting the notion that we should spend money on a range of things besides material goods and services that the brain can adjust to. They also include solid examples of how people and organizations employ these principles to increase satisfaction and happiness.

In a jargon-free and anecdotal guide (hedonic adaptation is my phrase, not one you’ll find in their book), the authors say, “Shifting from buying stuff to buying experiences, and from spending on yourself to spending on others, can have a dramatic impact on happiness.” They set forth five key principles for what they call “happy money.”

1. Buy experiences. The brain doesn’t adapt as successfully to experiences. While things may wear out their welcome, experiences can provide increasing benefits over time. A memorable trip takes on even more luster with the passage of time. Even an unpleasant adventure may produce stories that grow in value as the years pass. The happiest experiences usually involve other people we care about, and thus tap into human beings’ greatest source of meaning — social interaction.

 

2. Make it a treat. “Abundance, it turns out, is the enemy of appreciation,” the authors write. Using your money for surprises can be a great way to produce happiness and bypass the brain’s basket that collects and negates the benefits of the predictable and routine. Better still, it’s possible to change the way we make even repeated material purchases and turn them back into the treats they were when you first began buying them. Human brains love surprises. Like other principles on the list, the happiness impact of treats can be amplified if they are produced using multiple principles.

 

3. Buy time. Having more time is a form of wealth that can be used to “buy” more happiness. So it can make sense to spend money to create both the reality and, of equal importance, the perception of what Dunn and Norton describe as “time affluence.” It also turns out that giving away our time, through volunteer work for example, can make us feel even more time-affluent. We have time to spare. It’s literally possible to buy more time by spending money on time-saving products and services. But the book also makes a strong pitch for spending less time on two of the least happy uses of time — television and commuting – and spending more time with family and friends.

4. Pay now, consume later. This principle is particularly appealing to me because it turns the basis of our debt-loaded “buy now, pay later” consumption economy on its head. Spending money is, literally, a pain to our brains. That’s one major reason credit cards are so alluring; they separate the purchase from the pain.

But it turns out that paying in advance for something you will consume in the future does the same thing and turns the actual purchase into something our brains regard as being free. Buying pleasurable things and experiences ahead of time — such as a weekend spa getaway or vacation — also frees our minds to imagine all sorts of wonderful outcomes, and this anticipation can add to our happiness. Finally, it’s also true that laying out the money ahead of time is an effective check on overspending. So we can get more happiness and spend less money.

“Because delaying consumption allows spenders to reap the pleasures of anticipation, without the buzzkill of reality,” the authors say, “vacations provide the most happiness before they occur.”

 5. Invest in others. “Spending money on others provides a bigger happiness boost than spending money on yourself,” Dunn and Norton write. They also cite research that this is not restricted to materialistic societies but is also true in relatively impoverished countries.

“The principles we’ve outlined should not be considered as independent from each other,” they say. “You shouldn’t either buy experiences or invest in others, but rather think about applying as many principles as you can in your daily spending. It’s even possible to apply multiple principles with a single purchase.”

Spending on others, to cite one example, can provide the biggest happiness bang for the buck when people invest in others in a way that connects them to other people and especially to other people they care about.

Turning the money you spend into happy money is hardly an automatic process. We have lots of inflexible spending requirements and habits and think things such as fancy homes and cars bring us happiness when research shows they don’t.

“For one week, keep track of all the money you spend,” Dunn and Norton suggest. “Rather than grouping your expenditures into the traditional categories used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, try putting them into categories according to our five spending principles. Then take a close look at all the discretionary income you’ve spent that falls outside these categories — and see how much of it you can forgo the following week.”

Happy spending!”

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Thank you, Mr. Moeller!  Now perhaps you understand why I led with the Lamborghini Egoista story FIRST!
This last item represents a kind of two-fold pleasure for me, personally.
I started out in Radio, and local Radio at that: outside of Pittsburgh in a dying-on-the-vine former steel town called, Ambridge, PA.  The town actually TOOK ITS NAME from the American Bridge Division of United States Steel, which was its primary employer.  It doesn’t get any localler than that!
Being my first job, it was a big deal to me, and I was awed by the authority that I found coursing through me by virtue of the fact that my voice suddenly could be heard emanating from ordinary household appliances and automobile dashboards for scores of miles in every direction.
Barely 20 years later, self-styled experts were busy predicting the end of the medium as a consequence of the advent of the Internet.  An additional 20 years later, Radio stubbornly refuses to die.  Some of the “experts,” however, have since gone on to meet their maker.
In his Money*MSN post earlier today, entitled, “Why Radio Refuses to Die,” Bruce Kennedy writes,

“Remember that song “Video Killed the Radio Star,” the first tune aired on MTV in the 1980s? It seems media experts have been predicting radio’s demise ever since the first sound movies came out in the 1920s. But in an age of online streaming and digital media, radio not only endures but appears to be thriving, including among a surprising demographic: teens to mid-20-year-olds.

 Tuning knob on portable radio (© Thinkstock/Comstock Images/Getty Images)

A new study, commissioned by Clear Channel (CCO +1.83%), found 92% of all respondents to a 1,000-person online survey said they listened to radio at least once a week. You might think the radio giant injected its own bias into the study, but a Clear Channel spokesperson says all the people surveyed, men and women ages 13 to 54, were recruited randomly by a third party and not aware Clear Channel was involved in the research.

While radio has long had a strong consumer base among older Americans, especially with AM talk shows, the study says it still has a hold on younger generations. The survey found 94% of all 13-to-17-year-olds, as well as 89% of respondents ages 18 to 24, say they tune in to radio weekly.

 

Some other interesting factoids from the study, conducted by Latitude Research and OpenMind Strategy:

  • 71% said radio is a part of their daily routine.
  • 69% agreed that “streaming services do not replace radio.”
  • 78% agreed radio “has the power to make a difference in the community,” while 72% felt radio is more community-oriented than TV.

One of the biggest factors radio has in its favor is accessibility. Its portable and one-on-one nature make it unique among communication media. Of course, car radios are a huge part of that equation. About half of American radio consumers listen in their cars. And among the survey respondents, 82% said the first thing they do when they get into a car is turn on the radio.

Radio’s portability and mobility make it popular with younger listeners, who access it across a variety of media platforms, including online streaming.

 

“A lot of radio stations have put apps on smartphones. They’ve been doing live streaming forever,” Janet Kolodzy, a professor of journalism at Emerson College tells MSN Money. “So it makes . . . sense that young people will look for music via mobile, via what’s out there — which is radio.”

Kolodzy says the new technologies are helping radio stations find audiences that are no longer tied to specific geographic areas, which is also strengthening radio’s brand as it expands both nationally and globally.

While large, centralized corporations like Clear Channel control a lot of radio, Kolodzy says many of her students are attracted to radio by what she calls its “hyper-locality,” especially when it comes to getting local news, music, sports and cultural information.

“What’s made radio long-lasting, she says, “is everything from sponsoring concerts to doing live broadcasts in communities, to having ticket giveaways and contests. Those are the things that create a community and a community buy-in with the station. So radio has a sense of that we owe something to the community, and the community will buy in to us, if we continually connect with the community.”

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Okay, this was an experiment; I’m going to publish it now.  We’ll see how it looks and we’ll see what reaction, if any, it generates.
If you made it all the way to the end, thank you for your participation.
Sincerely,
JP

The links:

The Lamborghini Egoista:

http://editorial.autos.msn.com/blogs/autosblogpost.aspx?post=4151ce93-abb1-4150-8584-5ca01415e550&ref=bfv

Five Ways Money Can Buy Happiness:

http://money.msn.com/how-to-budget/article.aspx?post=24b77cea-d6d6-492c-925b-35099eb82c78

Why Radio Refuses to Die:

http://money.msn.com/now/post.aspx?post=7df10495-ba67-4742-85e7-ddc57156c6f7

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About jaypochapin

Married adult human male, father, brother, son, writer, voiceover actor and humorist. Frequently funny, sometimes snarky, occasionally profound. Beatles, Stones, Who, Python, Firesign Theatre, Shakespeare, Bogart/Bacall, Marx Brothers, Alice Cooper and more besides. Have worked as many things: traffic reporter, disc jockey, newscaster, interviewer, producer, copywriter, voice over talent, teacher, emcee, housekeeper, janitor, uniformed security officer, bagel baker's assistant and more, but don't let the uniform fool you, baby! I ... AM ... THE WRITER!

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