53 & Counting … (slowly)

If you have a friend who is funny, talented, and very rich there’s a good chance that you look forward to their birthday party every year.  When there is a friend to everyone born on this day, the leap year, the least we can do is throw a good party every four years.  Today is the 53rd birthday* of one of the great talents in music, food, storytelling, pranks, and general fun – Gioachino Rossini.  Though he was born in 1792 in Pesaro, Italy, he is still a good guy to get to know even today – and a good excuse for a party.

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Controversial Little Pony

As the sun rose on a Saturday morning, kids across the 1970s woke up with a purpose that charged them out of bed quicker than any school day.  This was their day, the time when the teevee had nothing but cartoons on.  Yet they were often crudely animated and jerky, with stupid plots and wooden dialogue.  As exciting as Saturday morning was to kids, cartoons were clearly thrown on the screen without a lot of thought.

Regulations changed in 1982 and pitching of products broke the fourth wall of screen – making cartoons much more valuable.  Hasbro’s “My Little Pony” was a pioneer, subsidizing a cartoon show around toys to sell.  When social media became a big part of kids’ lives in 2010, they broke more new ground with the fourth generation of “My Little Pony” by integrating social media fandom into the show itself.

It was a brilliant move that made a phenom out of a 30 year old show.   What could possibly go wrong?  Like everything else, when things are laid bare in social media any potential controversy in life and values can intervene.  And that gets us to Derpy, the little pony that messed everything up.

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New World, Not Ordered

The stories out of Syria are utterly heartbreaking.  The government of Bashar al-Assad has been shelling civilians indiscriminately in what can only be a desperate act to maintain control.  Brutality has worked for the regime in the past, but this has taken it to a new level.  It has become a civil war, with Arab nations openly arming the Syrian National Council that is likely to be recognized as the legitimate government by an international panel.

We do not know much about what is happening in Syria because the news blackout has been very effective.  What we do know is that outside of that nation things may be hardening rapidly.  This highlights the limits of what the USofA can do in a world of revolution – and also the great opportunities if we change how we do things.

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Owe the Future, Owe the Past

Those of you who are regular readers know that one of the basic principles of Barataria is that over the long haul there are very few surprises.  Great empires come and go, economies hum along and then break, and new technologies add sparkle to our lives – but people are still people.  When we take a strong half-step back, far enough for some perspective but not so far back we can’t keep our hands dirty, just about anything starts to make sense.

Today’s piece is a small summary of one small part of a breathtaking interview with Dr. Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management, conducted by Kate Welling and published by John Mauldin.  The original article is a must read, but it takes hours to read, digest, and re-read.  But there is one part that demands more discussion – and has a killer graph.

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Hero’s Journey, with Pastry

The Hero’s Journey (or Monomyth, as Joseph Campbell anointed it) and its use in advertising generated more mail than any other topic recently.  Many of you were intrigued, confused, or simply wanted to know more.  So let’s revisit the topic with a specific example.

Let’s say we have a pastry shop called Danish Treat.  Hardly a topic for a heroic quest?  Every effort crafted with love and determination can be told with this simple device that slips along well-worn paths directly to the guts of those who read the backstory on a website.  These stages do not all have to be present.  This is only a guide to working through how it might be applied.

The Hero’s Journey has many elements – 17 by Joseph’s Campbell’s count, usually have at least 8.  We’ll use a version described by Phil Cousineau for brevity, but there are many ways to look at this ancient art form.

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