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Flying without scissors, Swift’s chart records and the King Canute theory of inflation


Image of the week: Going Holmes

A queue in a pandemic. What could it be for? A vaccine booster? A winter’s supply of antigen tests? A comedy gig that will make you forget all your stresses and woes? The people waiting here are in fact queuing outside a federal courthouse in San Jose, California, to enter the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former chief executive of life sciences company Theranos. As is now much documented, Holmes, who launched Theranos in 2003 at the age of 19, made promises about the company’s self-service blood-testing machines that were subsequently broken and are now alleged to have been fraudulent all along. Two months into the trial process, interest in the case surged this week as Holmes took the witness stand and claimed she couldn’t have defrauded anyone on the basis that she really, really believed the technology worked. For the pleasure of hearing this defence from Holmes personally, the line outside the courthouse started forming as early as 2am.

In numbers: Streaming stats

60.7 million
Spotify streams racked up by Adele’s new divorce-themed album 30 in one of the highest one-day totals for an artist, which came after a massive marketing campaign by record label Sony.

90.8 million
The record number of one-day Spotify streams for an album by a female artist, set just one week earlier by Taylor Swift for Red (Taylor’s Version), a rerecord of her 2012 release. (The overall one-day record is 153.4 million, set by Drake for his September album Certified Lover Boy).

10.13
Duration in minutes of Swift’s extended version of All Too Well, which has become the longest track ever to reach number one in the US Billboard chart, eclipsing Don McLean’s January 1972 chart-topper American Pie – which comes in at a mere eight minutes, 37 seconds.

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Getting to know: King Canute

King Canute, who was king of England, Denmark and Norway a whole millennium ago, was also known as Cnut the Great or just plain old Cnut. He’s now best remembered for his work on tides, as recounted this week by former Bank of England governor Mervyn King, who compared the story of Canute setting his throne by the seashore and commanding the incoming tide to stop, only for the tide to dash over his feet and legs nevertheless, to 21st-century central bankers being caught unawares by rising prices. King (as in Mervyn) said policymakers had exposed their “King Canute” theory of inflation – in effect, relying too heavily on economic models that show inflation coming back to the official target regardless of interest rates. But inflation won’t necessarily remain low “because we say it will”. The comparison may be unfair . . . on Canute. The ancient king knows all along he cannot control the tides and is trying to demonstrate the forces of nature to his courtiers. “Central banks could do well to show the same humility.”

The list: Baggage issues

This pandemic has been going on so long that people returning to airports have forgotten the basic rules of air travel and how the whole security screening business works, Dublin Airport said this week. So what items have people been prevented from bringing on board?

1. Scissors. You shouldn’t run with scissors, and you cannot fly with them in your hand luggage either, something quite a few people don’t know judging from the airport’s rather colourful assortment of confiscated pairs.

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2. Wrapped presents. Trying to put wrapped presents through carry-on luggage security is asking for trouble – especially if you no longer have any scissors to rewrap them.

3. Large snow globes. Festive, but just may well contain more than the 100ml liquid capacity allowed per item.

4. Meat cleavers and knuckledusters. Just two of the potential weapons recently taken off passengers, security staff showed RTÉ’s Samantha Libreri for a news report this week.

5. Toy guns. Do not try to bring your child’s Nerf Elite 2.0 blaster gun onto your flight as part of your hand luggage. Your child, who you are about to be trapped on a flight with, will not be happy when security intercept it.



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