Now I Know I Need To Move Into Innovative White Space

Pete has written a great article on the abuse and misuse of English in beery PR-ish marketing circles:

I was reminded of this lesson earlier this month, when I went to the press launch of some new beers. We were told about the strong “head winds” in the market, and how this necessitated moving into”‘innovation white space” that would help people “navigate and explore” the “beer category”, making full use of “fixturisation”. We were then introduced to a “serious trilogy play” that would hopefully “disrupt” both the core market and its “adjacencies”.

I once made full use of fixturisation. I’d be careful of ever doing that again.

Pete reviews the causes: comfort with jargon, simple laziness as well as what he calls credibility but what I take to mean the need to project the appearance of credibility. I worked once with someone hired as a supposed expert who laced every sentence with acronyms. Once I started asking what each one meant as we moved along through meetings, it because pretty clear that there may have been something of a fraud being perpetuated.

But there is something else at play, too, that is more about language than the beer. Look at every word or phrase in his paragraph and you can see the migration of a concept from another field. Adjacencies, I have learned, is a concept in workplace layout that architects might use. The right people need desks near their logical peers. Head wind and navigateclearly come from sailing. White space? Is that the tabula rasa? Could be but it also could just be a muddled phony-ness, too.

Such migrations are a total waste of effort. There are too many great beer words, simple but specific. Words like malt and wort, firkin and kilderkin. They just don’t harken to a earlier day or speak to the fan boy technician. They roll off the tongue, confident in the inherent loveliness of their own sound. Find me a branding writer who can capture these sounds and I might even forget that it’s marketing. I once was presented with a group of uni-lingual unannounced Swedes in my own living room, in-laws of in-laws on a tour. One word was all it took to achieve understanding: øl. All the languid welcoming pleasures of beer were there in that one soft, leisurely syllable and the smiles that accompanied its being spoken.

Sackets Harbor NY Vintage Base Ball Tournament 2011


This year’s vintage base ball game was remarkable. The weather was so hot I thought that I was going to faint when I slowed into second on a couple of doubles. The team had a few new faces but was as keen as ever and took both games after never winning a single game in the USA in the four previous seasons. Well, there was 2008 when the game was rained out. We declared that we had not lost by default.

NCPR On Hop Farming In Ferrisburgh, Vermont

My local public radio station, North Country Public Radio, had a great story today as part of it’s series on Faming Under 40 that runs all this week. Today’s installment is called “New Direction for an Old Farm” and described how the next generation on a 210 year family mixed farm is trying out hops:

…last year Joe’s youngest son, Ian, approached him with an idea to grow hops in the lower field. Ian is 26 years old and his friend, Fletcher Bach, 23, had gotten him interested in brewing beer. They wanted to try growing hops – which flavors and preserves beer – instead of buying it. “We started with sixteen plants,” Ian Birkett said. “We were like, these are growing really well here. So we kind of put our heads together, wrote a business plan, and now we are on year two and we have 850 plants.”

The operation is called Square Nail Hops Farm. It has a Facebook page. They are getting in touch with the right advancement programs. They are getting involved with academic research. And they are selling to craft brewers. A great story.

PGP 9.0: Britain’s PM Has A Post Ale Go At Aunt Sally

I love it. I have always thought the pub game called “Aunt Sally” was the least identified and most offensive continuing recreational tradition amongst the English-speaking peoples and, but except for maybe the Queen having a go, Mr. Cameron’s attack on a defenseless image of an elderly lady playing of the game this weekend was about as classic an example as one might imagine of the game’s intersect of innocence and villainy:

After being handed his first half pint of beer, a 4.4 per cent proof tipple called Big Lamp Summer Hill Stout, Mr Cameron joked: “This is quite potent stuff.” But that did not stop him from buying another half, a Tring Special Effects beer. Mr Cameron then had a game of Aunt Sally, where players use six sticks to try to knock a ­wooden doll from a plinth. He felled it at the last attempt.

Here’s the thing. As I understand it, these sorts of throwing games go back centuries. Bowling is a rolling game and skittles is a lobbing game. And before the clever got the idea to lob a ball, they just made a game up by chucking a stick at something – often another stick or sticks standing on end. So, how do you make chucking one stick at another stick more laddish when, you know, it’s 1673 and video games, personal hygiene, “I’m Too Sexy” and human rights are centuries off? You pretend the stick you are aiming for is an old lady – perhaps even a witch! – named called Aunt Sally.

The world most indispensable web site, The Online Guide to Traditional Games has a lot of information on Aunt Sally including one theory that it is a descendant of the perhaps… well, certainly if one was the rooster… more offensive pub game of “throwing at cocks” in which male poultry were stoned to rounds of ales, laughter and applause. Timothy Finn’s indispensable book, Pub Games of England, traces a form of the game back to the 1300’s. Finn states at page 82 that the game suffered a downturn at the end of the Tudor period: “[t]he chief competition to the game came from other forms of skittles and bowls, most of which could claim at least some of the sophistication that Aunt Sally so obviously lacked.” An active league still plays in Oxford.

If I were to review the available visual record of this weekend’s events, Barry Clack’s photo above from the now suddenly defunct New of the World (at 168 years an institution a fraction of the age of Aunt Sally) only tells half the story, showing Cameron about to throw. He does not show the object of his implicit (even if utterly culturally buried and personally unrecognized) morality play of misogynistic wrath. He does capture, however, something of the heft of the sticks old Aunt Sally faced for the recreation of others. I note in the Online Guide‘s images, a gent in 1911 was allowed to wail away at her overhand. We may well be developing better manners about these things.

Your Friday Bullets For The Cat Staring Contest

Me and the cat. Happens every year as the family packs up to go a visiting as I stay home and work. First task on my bachelor week was apparently to put a paring knife in my thumb so I shelved all other tasks I had half-assigned myself for the week. The cat didn’t. The cat complains. It stands ten feet from me and yowls a list of complaints and demands at me. It did it again just now. Food, water? Check, place to pee, place to sleep? Check. What exactly are you on about? You want a wrist watch or something?

  • It is always funny watching tech nerds debate the law. Answer? No one. If a dog has a ball in its mouth it does not legally possess it either.
  • A very quiet way to end combat operations. You would think there should be some sort of civic event marking the day.
  • “…there were six people and two cats at their own ceremony, one dressed up in a bow tie and the other in a lace collar.” Freakish. I knew there was something freakish going on.
  • “…Coulson, Cameron’s former communications chief, arrived at a police station to face questioning about alleged phone hacking…” Surely crimes were committed, even under English law.
  • Why shouldn’t the Grits arise again? The Tories did. I don’t care that much for binary politics for no other reason that it places ideology over policy let alone administration. As the US debt debate illustrates, dislocated desire for ideological “change” is about as stupid as stupid gets. Third, fourth and fifth parties by necessity mean that there is no toggle switch.

Too quiet around here to be running. Except for that damn cat.

…The Public Debt Of The United States… Shall Not Be Questioned…

If I had a chance I would wallow in US constitutional law for no other goal than to enjoy how the flow if words can be used and misused and wondered upon. Consider the fourth section of the 14th Amendment brought in after the US Civil War. It has an interesting application – of some sort – today:

…It is inconsistent with the political context that produced Section 4, because it would not give the Republicans the sort of assurances they needed. We should interpret section 4 so that it solved the political problems that the Republicans wanted to solve. If our proposed interpretation does not solve those problems, it is very likely that we have picked the wrong reading. I begin with the assumption that the central purpose of section 4 was to prevent the Democrats, once they regained political power, from repudiating the Union debt– including pensions and bounties. To use my colleague Jed Rubenfeld’s language, this was the “paradigm case” of what Section 4 prohibited. But what if the Democrats did not officially repudiate the Union debt but but merely chose (or threatened) not to repay it?

Flip the Democrats and Republicans and more it 145 years into the future and we are looking at today’s news: “The Obama administration and congressional leaders are working to complete a deal on a long-term budget reduction package…” So, if the talks fail and a default on the debt occurs, is that the “questioning” that the section refers to? “Questioning?” What a horrible word to place in a constitution. Questioning occurs before there are facts known. I question my kid when I find his room overly messy. I question claims made my individually wrapped snacks as to their healthiness. What the heck does “shall not be questioned” when placed in a constitution?


Friday Bullets For Vintage Base Ball Weekend

It’s Sacket’s Harbor weekend and we are past the point of no return. I think I the team will actually have enough players and, except for playing from 10 am to 2 pm in the 90F heat with 100% humidity, it should be great. I will park on the bench. Shouting things. Waving my hands at outfielders who ignore me. I may chew on a cigar but all of mine are Cubans. Filthy habit anyway. Bought some before the RMC game and couldn’t give them away. Shared on a few nights later and felt like crap the whole next day. What the hell has happened to me?

  • Why does some kid blowing of his job warrant 1,295 comments? 24 year old quits job hardly deserves that kinda attention. But maybe there was an earlier post I missed – 23 year old slacks off at work.
  • A greed. fancy schmansy tiny portions are pure evil. “Would you like some more?” is not.
  • Best description of Harper I have ever seen – he’s a centrist like 80% of Canadians. The power of the centrists is so strong is makes conservatives and socialists think they are in charge. Mental mind control of their brains… that’s what’s going on.
  • PEI is spending $500 per person to bring tourists there. Think of the underlying economic policy thought that requires. Even HB weeps now.
  • I love the beer nerd as record store clerk circa 1982 imagery. The slight rush when the guy taking your paper money nods in approval at your purchase. “Their best album… definitely under rated…”

There. Another week gone. Summer. Steak tonight. Bad banjo playing by the pool as I sip Belgian beer. That’s what I’m talking about.

Friday Bullets For Canada Day And The Fourth

I have been waiting for this arrangement of holidays for years. We are off today so I got up at the crack of 10:15 am. The authorities have noticed. I should mow the lawn, too, but it is stinking hot. I haven’t even been out yet and I know that. Then we roam. Looking forward to the Rochester branch of Dino BBQ as well as the Museum of Play.

  • • On the one hand, there should not be a political penalty for being a practicing Christian. On the other, lying is a sin.
  • • Ben found it! My post with the goofy pictures of Harper that the Grits tried to use against him in the last election. Gold!!!
  • • I know nothing about YouTube channels but was really interested to find that the UK’s Open University has adopted the tool.
  • • No one – and I mean noooooooo one – told me that in 2008 an asteroid slammed into Sudan lighting up the night sky.
  • • I heard an amazing stat this week – that 10% of all CD sales in 2011 so far were Adele’s. Which means, yes, there are taxes to be paid.
  • • I need to make my own skittles. The neighbour gave me a whack of apple tree logs last year which I was going to use for smoking meat but now I am making massive skittles out of them instead. I will only need a cheese to fling at them.

Off I go. Maybe to mow. I have a red t-short on that says “Maryland.” I hope that counts.