Anton Aylward

Walmart: An economic cancer on our cities

http://www.salon.com/chromeo/article/walmart_an_economic_cancer_on_our_cities/

Not a new idea.
Back in the last century I took a vacation to lake Placid and they had successfully passed a city ordinance banning Wal-mart and a few other ‘big box’ stores.

Much has bee written on how the likes of Chapters/Indigo has destroyed the small bookstore.

Reality is big malls have destroyed the high street stores. That goes for the big supermarkets as well. Yes old downtown – not least of all Danforth and similar, still has the High Street with small groceries and butcher shops, but that seems absent from new Town in the outskirts of the cities. Large Malls are more efficient. And the ‘indoors’ more suited to Canadian Winters. But that doesn’t explain their popularity in warmer climates.

Jane Jacobs had a lot to say on how the high street forms an important part of the social fabric of the city in a way that a mall simply cannot.

The logic of this article applies not just to Wal-Mart bt to the whole principle of big box stores and the ‘efficiencies’ they have. Manpower costs, and reducing manpower though automation, be it RFID tagging or through the use of self-serve checkouts as we are seeing in Loblaws and Metro/Dominion are all cost-reduction exercises. Such machinery counts
on the the books as an ‘asset’ and has tax advantages whereas employees are an ongoing cost and come with an increasing set of liabilities, legal, operational and otherwise.

This too, Amazon understands.

 

Anton Aylward

Dumbing Down Science Education

The BBC is not normally a hotbed of high standards, but it offers this report on the dumbing down of science education in the UK: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/6038638.stm

The new GCSE science curriculum has been branded “sound bite science” which takes a back-to-front approach.
Sir Richard Sykes, rector of Imperial College London, is among the scientists to attack the core qualification, in which pupils discuss topical issues. Sir Richard told BBC News: “If you wish to have a dumbed-down syllabus for the general population that’s fine.

The article goes on to quote Ethicist Baroness Mary Warnock:

“What counts as an issue to be debated in class is largely, as David Perks points out, dictated by the press.
Far too much teaching at school has already degenerated into this kind of debate, more suitable for the pub than the school room.”

So it would seem that in the UK science is being discarded as Latin and Greek and the grammatical analysis and critical thinking that went along with them is being discarded. Continue reading

Anton Aylward

Are you a Dummy or an Idiot?

There are a few axioms in business, sales and marketing.
Up there at the top is something of the order of “treat your customers with respect.
For many, this starts at “hang up the phone before you start swearing at them”, but the principle is more universal. Its a variation of the idea of “The customer is always right” that one famous department store owner – or other – brought into the vernacular.

Along with such truisms goes the idea in marking that something new and dramatic will grab the customer’s attention.

Which has led to an interesting paradox. There is a line of books that is predicated on the assumption that telling the reader — the customer — that they are ignorant. Continue reading