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Dum De Dum Dum...

If ever I need something really stupid from the media, I have two sources that I can consistently count on to come through: the Arab News and the Boston Globe. And today, the Globe came through not once, but twice.

First up, we have Derrick Jackson. Mr. Jackson today takes Toyota to task for committing a grave, cardinal, maybe even a mortal sin: offering its customers what they want.

You see, Toyota, the makers of the blessed Prius, also offers a full-sized SUV, the Sequoia. And the Sequoia is nearly as big as the tree it is named after. It gets horrid gas mileage -- about 14 MPG city and highway.

As Jackson points out, the vast majority of Sequoia customers don't need all the mileage-killing features the Sequoia offers. They don't need the all-wheel drive, the big engine, and the high ground clearance that all drive the weight up and the mileage down. They could just as easily -- and far more cheaply -- get by with a well-designed station wagon or minivan.

But that goes against a rather inconvenient fact: most people don't want wagons or minivans. They want SUVs. Some of those people like Toyota's hard-earned reputation for quality and good design, and want Toyota to make them their SUV.

I've been under the impression that the primary duty of a business -- the key to its survival, in fact -- is is offering people what they want. There's a term for businesses that actively choose to ignore that and instead offer people what the business thinks they need. It's called "failed."

Then we have the overly-scholarly H. D. S. Greenway has a piece about the history of the Middle East. It's a remarkably thoughtful and insightful "what-if" kind of fantasy, discussing just how the Great Powers of Europe (most notably England and France) carved up the Middle East after World War I, and speculates what might have happened if the United States had taken the lead, as many had hoped. It's a fascinating read, and not just for those people who like alternate history.

And then he goes and ruins it with a sudden outbreak of Bush Derangement Syndrome in the last paragraph. The guy whips up a glorious dessert, a pastry bursting with deliciousness, and tops off the whipped cream not with a cherry, but a dog turd.

There's an old rule in writing for journalism called "the inverted pyramid:" it says to put the most important parts of a story first, and further details in subsequent paragraphs in decreasing significance. This way an editor who needs to make the story fit in a specific part of the newspaper can just trim off paragraphs from the bottom without fear of losing critical details.

In this case, losing the final paragraph of Greenway's piece would have been a kindness -- both to him and his readers.


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Comments (11)

The first article can be qu... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

The first article can be quickly condensed down as follows:

"Stupid people with stupid free choice dictating what the stupid companies manufacture, like stupid SUV that never go off the stupid road. Everybody should want (or at least be forced to buy) a Prius because we at the Globe say so! Otherwise they're just stupidest stupiders that ever roamed the land of stupid."

See how much paper (aka: trees) the Globe could have saved had they just contacted me to write their article? But no, they go ahead and contribute to global warming by wasting all that paper on this editorial.

How stupid is that.

First up, we have Derric... (Below threshold)

First up, we have Derrick Jackson. Mr. Jackson today takes Toyota to task for committing a grave, cardinal, maybe even a mortal sin: offering its customers what they want.

Umm Jay, I think you should have a talk with Cassy. Just sayin...

Offering want we want? Is n... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

Offering want we want? Is not the purpose of Ads to convince us what we want?
How many here have purchased or will purchase Christmas gifts for your kids based upon what advertisers told them not only what they want....but what they need.

I love irony as the fulcrum of our lives.
I notice that the same skepticism given to political BS is seldom applied to our consumer activities.

Yes, it is a moonbat thing to feel we do not need to drive anything that gets less than 30 mpg in the city...

By the way...two weeks ago we drove our Prius round trip approx 450 miles, to southern Colorado at 53 mpg..

Bigger is not better..it is just bigger.

By the way...two w... (Below threshold)
By the way...two weeks ago we drove our Prius round trip approx 450 miles, to southern Colorado at 53 mpg..

Just curious, how many is "we"?

nogo...can fit...eight clow... (Below threshold)

nogo...can fit...eight clowns in his...Prius.

Well, kinda. But n... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Well, kinda. But not really.

I believe Cassy's point is that U.O. is NOT catering to a smaller market and giving people what they want (aka: alleged Neocons like myself), whereas Toyota IS catering to a smaller market and giving people what they want (Priuses)--while at the same time offering the majority what they want (Sequoias). It seems the Globe is a bit confused with the whole "freedom of choice" thingy and basic capitalism/market supply and demand.

(If you ask me, U.O. is screwing themselves out of a potential market and business, but hey, that's their prerogative and they can ignore Cassy if they want. Whatever. It's their company and if they want to be "principled", and not look like a corporation that caters to The Man even though they are...blah, blah, blah...)

Frankly, if any newspaper was TRULY serious about going 'green', they'd stop printing news on paper altogether, save countless acres of trees and go completely electronic. Heck, to put it in words the Globe can understand, since it's their words I'll paraphrase:

Just when The Globe was creating a new art form for reading news media (aka: the Web), it continues to push what clearly should be an artifact.

But who am I to tell them their business.

Just sayin'....

By the way...two weeks a... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

By the way...two weeks ago we drove our Prius round trip approx 450 miles, to southern Colorado at 53 mpg..

That's nice...you know how those fuel cells are produced? You need a hefty amount of nickel.

The primary smelter of said nickel is in Ontario, at the Sudbury plant. The amount of waste produced from that plant has killed all the plant life around the plant about a mile around. NASA uses this "dead zone" to test mars and moon rovers.

Then the nickel is shipped to refineries in Europe, on massive cargo containers. A lot of diesel is eaten up shipping this stuff. More energy is used refining the nickel. THEN, it's shipped AGAIN to China to produce "nickel foam", THEN shipped AGAIN to Japan to be built into the batteries, THEN FINALLY shipped to the US in the cars.

Now, think about how much energy and hazardous waste was produced in order to make our Prius-driving hippies feel "socally conscious."


So, I hope it was worth all... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

So, I hope it was worth all that enviromental pollution in order to get that 53 mpg, nogo. :)

Mantis, were those regular ... (Below threshold)

Mantis, were those regular clowns, or "assclowns"?

You know what I can't figur... (Below threshold)

You know what I can't figure out? Honda's cars are much better, environmentally speaking, than Toyota's and have been for years but Toyota always seems to get the best press.
They had a regular car that got close to 40 mpg by normal people (the Civic HX), they had a CRX that got that kind of mileage too. Their Insight (hybrid) gets just as good mileage as the Pious, they have hybrid Civics and even had a hybrid Accord (which was actually a joke, it got 30 MPG instead of 25 and still had those extra pollutiony batteries).

The emissions on most of their regular gas cars are so low you couldn't commit suicide with them (they emit functionally 0 carbon monoxide) and they have a hydrogen powered car coming out next year (So Cal only until there is infrastructure for it elsewhere).
My theory is that the Toyota Pious has such a distinctive shape that it shows everybody you are one of the "good people" without having to read the "Hybrid" emblem on the vehicle so they are trumpeting their Piousness to the world.

Toyota has a <a href="http:... (Below threshold)

Toyota has a nice city car (read: tiny) called the Aygo (stupid name, I know) that's not available in North America (yet), but gets at least 50 mpg in the city, and it isn't even a hybrid (Peugeot & Citroën sell the same model under different names). Word is they'll be introducing it here next year. Pretty sweet if you can handle the small size. It'll compete with the even smaller Smart Fortwo that's coming the the States in January '08. Both cars are going to be available for as little as $11-12k.

This has been your teeny tiny car update.






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