Sorry to disappoint all of you who think that the two-person Segway is the most innovative thing GM has produced in its long history — it seems that the company’s most important new idea was consumer credit. More specifically, convincing a nation of thrifty debt-averse tightwads that taking on debt was socially acceptable. Yes, it’s true. We weren’t always a bunch of debt junkies.
Man, cigarettes were awesome in the past, if these old ads collected by Stanford University are to be believed. They calmed your nerves so you’d stop humming nervously! They soothed your throat! They made you a movie star and helped you capture animals on your big game hunt! We don’t know what tobacco was made of before the mid-80s, but no wonder everyone smoked.
Sometimes gentleness is required of your toddler. Sometimes ill-tempered old folks get too agitated and threaten you with canes. That’s why sometimes the best solution is a good old fashioned thorazine pill, or a barbiturate elixir. Weirdomatic has a collection of bizarre ads like these from the past. Our favorite, aside from the drug ads, is the one showing Olympian speed skater Jack Shea taking a break from his skating to enjoy the rejuvenating effects of a Camel cigarette. So that’s how Phelps did it.
The FDIC was created in 1933 by the Glass-Steagall Act, and provides $100,000 of deposit insurance to checking and savings deposits. “Bank panics” used to be fairly common, and the FDIC was intended to instill confidence in the banking system after the Great Depression. The most recent big failure, that of California bank IndyMac, will cost the FDIC between $4 and $8 billion, and they estimate that about $1 billion of IndyMac’s deposits are “potentially uninsured,” meaning that the depositors had more than $100,000 on deposit. So what does a bank run look like these days?
Poor Kevin Martin. The Senate is well on its way towards killing his proposal to let newspapers get all freaky and consolidate with television and radio stations. Martin shouldn’t be too surprised: this is exactly what happened the last time a FCC Chairman tried to ram media consolidation down our throats.
Nathan’s been having trouble this week buying a prepaid GoPhone from AT&T Mobility’s website. He finally found out the reason: they couldn’t verify his credit history. This is confusing because it’s a prepaid GoPhone and because his credit history is superb. “Cheryl refused to transfer me.
The Boston Globe profiles the last remaining shoe and boot maker in New England, Alden Shoes. The company’s classic footwear has been worn by the likes of John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Indiana Jones… and the Massachusetts state troopers. The shoes will set you back about $350-$500 a pair, but they seem like awfully nice people. “Our shoes don’t wear out,” says Robert Clark, Alden’s vice president. [Boston Globe]
Considering we spend a good deal of time focusing on legislation that protects consumers and/or (usually or) businesses, we thought it appropriate to point out one of the big historical moments of trade law, not to mention human rights—tomorrow marks the “200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808, when the importation of slaves into the United States was prohibited.” Hey, it didn’t stop the madness, but at least it was a start.
The site of the most infamous mob murder in New York City history is now a Starbucks, but does anyone care? Nah. We certainly don’t care… but it’s a chance to learn about a mob murder:
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the “Black Monday” crash of ’87, in which the stock market lost 22.6% in one day, the second largest one day percentage drop in history and one we’re not likely to see again any time soon.
- “When the bikini first arrived, its revealing cut scandalized even the French fashion models who were supposed to wear it; they refused, and the original designer had to enlist a stripper instead.”
I know what you’re saying, “Wow, fun.” Well, hush. It’s tax day and you probably don’t know much trivia about taxes. For example, did you know that chewing gum paid (in part) for the Spanish American War? See? That’s interesting.
Thinking of buying a house as an investment? You may want to ride this roller coaster first. No, it’s not a real roller coaster, it’s the graph of US Home prices (adjusted for inflation) mapped out with Roller Coaster Tycoon. It’s oddly fun, with a “cliffhanger” ending. Enjoy!
Since you’ll likely be busy with family and friends this weekend, let us leave you with this story of Christmas from Richard Shenkman’s Legends, Lies & Cherished Myths of American History:
Until the Civil War Christmas was but scantily observed. Most shockingly, retailers hardly seemed to take notice of the occasion. Historians report that the pages of the New York Tribune in 1841 did not contain a single example of advertising with a Christmas theme. It wasn’t until after the Civil War that retailers began experimenting with special Christmas sales. Once they did, however, it didn’t take long for them to discover the commercial possibilities offered by the holiday. By 1970 December had become the merchants’ single largest selling month of the year.
No matter what you celebrate over the next few days, let us join together to worship our Christmas’s most hallowed savior: Mammon.