Thursday, 30 April 2015

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Make Them Pay

David Cameron announces new tax law
After David Cameron announced new laws to stop increases in income tax, voters asked if maybe he could put in place a law to stop businesses avoiding tax.
With the Conservatives happy to a create a new law within the first 100 days of a new term which will prevent rises in income tax, VAT or national insurance, they’ve been reluctant to explain when they’ll make big companies pay what tax they should be paying.
A conservative party spokesperson explained, “Ah, yes, tax avoidance, that’s not really a priority I’m afraid.”
“You see right now it’s far easier to talk about being tough on tax avoidance, than actuallybeing tough on tax avoidance.”
“If we’re going to spend time and effort in the first 100 days of the next term implementing a new tax law, it’s far better that we spend that time and effort on things that will win votes – not things that will alienate our best donors.”
“That would be madness.”

New Conservative tax laws

Voter Simon Williams told us, “I like the idea of not paying more tax, obviously, but I also like the idea of companies who should be paying millions tax actually paying it?”
“Then maybe you wouldn’t need to raise my tax in the first place?”
However the Conservative spokesperson responded, “Look, you have your priorities, and we have ours – that’s all this is.”
“When we say we will not raise taxes, we don’t just mean for you, we mean for the corporations, obviously.”

120 Years = 7 Minutes

Sell, Sell, Sell

If I told you this is the most important article you’ll read this week, you probably wouldn’t believe me. But what if I could say that 75% of your friends agreed? Or if I could pull out the fact that nine out of 10 people of your age, education and income judged the article as relevant to them?* Then, perhaps, you might be more likely to read on.
Many of us are probably aware that salespeople often use psychological tricks to persuade us to buy their products, even if they themselves aren’t aware of how these techniques mess with our mind. We might even like to think we are immune to that sort of manipulation. But the scientific evidence strongly suggests we aren’t. So why are the following hidden sales tricks so effective?
1. Make false comparisons
(Credit: Thinkstock)
(Credit: Thinkstock)
Take, for starters, the techniques of used car sales. In the name of research, Robert Levine, a professor of social psychology at California State University, Fresno, masqueraded as a salesman at a used car dealership in the early 2000s. As he recounts in his book, The Power of Persuasion: How We’re Bought and Soldhe was worried that he would fail to shift many cars because he wouldn’t be able to remember all the stats about the various models on the lot. Levine quickly learned, however, that plenty of used car salespeople don’t carry this information around in their heads either – to sell a car, they only really needed to memorise a few basic facts that applied to all the models on the lot. What mattered more was showing the cars in a strategic order.
In doing so, the salespeople are making use of the concept of the “base rate fallacy”. When a shopper isn’t aware of the intrinsic value of a product – and the value of used cars can be difficult to judge without some homework – a base rate can be established and then used to emphasise the exceptional value of another product by comparison.
“If a bunch of $200 espresso machines are sitting next to one overpriced $400 espresso machine that does basically the same thing, the $200 machines suddenly look like an obvious good deal,” Levine explains. “This is especially true if you have a skilled salesperson who divulges that the $400 machine isn’t really any better than the others. But the reality is, most of us probably have no idea how much an espresso machine should cost.”
For Levine, however, even an understanding of the psychology behind sales was little help. He says he was hopeless at selling cars, and only managed to shift one over the course of his research.
Perhaps if Levine, a white man in his 50s, had been selling cars exclusively to other middle-aged white males, or to someone also named Robert, Bob or Bobby, he would have taken home more commission, as this next tip suggests…
2. Emphasise social similarities
(Credit: Thinkstock)
(Credit: Thinkstock)
Research has shown that we are more likely to buy from people whom we trust and like – and we trust and like people who are more like us, even when the characteristics we share are incidental.
Jerry Burger, a professor at Santa Clara University, studies how and when people are most likely to comply with requests that carry a personal cost – such as handing over money. His findings have huge implications for understanding and manipulating selling techniques and buying behaviour. In one series of experiments for example, Burger and his colleagues illustrated how perceived incidental coincidences – like having the same birthday or name as someone else – can change our behaviour towards that person. In the first study, undergraduate students were brought into the lab ostensibly to participate in a study on astrology. Over the course of the study, participants discovered that they had the same birthday as a research assistant posing as another participant. When the research assistant later asked participants to comply with a request – in this case to critique an eight-page paper – participants who thought they shared the same birthday as the assistant were nearly twice as likely to do so.
In the second study, a woman requesting donations for cystic fibrosis research approached female participants who had just completed what they thought was a study on creativity. When the requester wore a nametag indicating they had the same first name as the participant, the participant donated more than twice as much money, on average, as participants approached by a requester who did not share their name. Even more interestingly, if the participants were shown a picture of a girl with cystic fibrosis and told she shared their name, they donatedless money than if they were told the girl did not share their name. Apparently it is sharing characteristics with the requester – not with potential beneficiaries – that is most likely to influence our decision to donate money.
3. Create illusion of demand
(Credit: Jim Penucci/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
(Credit: Jim Penucci/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Another trick is to make it seem like a product is being snapped up by others. In their bestselling bookYES!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin open with an anecdote about Colleen Szot, who they describe as “one of the most successful writers” in infomercials. Szot famously changed the call to action in her infomercials from: “Operators are waiting, please call now!” to: “If operators are busy, please call again.” The subtle change capitalised on something called “social proof” – a principle that says we look to others to inform our own decisions – and led to an increase in sales.
When there is a limited supply of products, showing that other people are buying the product can also emphasise the notion of scarcity, something that we seem very sensitive to. Simply put, we hate missing out on unique opportunities, even when the opportunity is not really unique at all.
In another set of experiments, Burger and his colleague David Caldwell demonstrated that people are more likely to act if they perceive they have a unique opportunity to do so. In one study, for example, participants spent time evaluating products that are typically sold on US college campuses, including an insulated travel mug. Afterwards, with the study apparently over, the researchers mentioned to the participants that the mugs were actually on sale at a reduced price. Some of the participants were simply encouraged to hand over money – but others were told that the mugs were in short supply and that they could only buy one if they drew a qualifying ticket from a hat. In reality, all of the tickets were marked with a symbol that qualified the participants to buy a mug. Sure enough, the ‘lottery’ participants were more likely to offer to buy a mug.

4. Spread benefits, bundle costs
Broadcast in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Ginsu Knife infomercial (see video, above) was one of the first to use the ‘But wait! There’s more!’ technique, by offering a carving fork, six-in-one kitchen tool, set of steak knives and spiral slicer in addition to the now famous knife.
It’s an example of spreading “gains” over time. If you were told of all the benefits at once, the sell would be less effective.
That’s not the case when it comes to paying though. While gains are best spread out, we prefer to experience our losses all at once. An example of how salespeople exploit this might include a car salesman who tries to sell you something extra for the car at the time of your purchase. They know the best time to persuade you to spend $200 is when you’re already committed to spending significantly more.
5. Induce a feeling of obligation
(Credit: Thinkstock)
(Credit: Thinkstock)
Studies have also demonstrated that when people receive a favour from someone, they feel obligated to reciprocate in some way – what social scientists refer to as the “norm of reciprocity”.
This feeling can be strong. In a 2006 study, Burger and his colleagues found people are more likely to grant a second request even after they had already reciprocated a favour, at least for a short period.
“Of course, as a heuristic, or rule of thumb, returning favours is a beneficial thing to do,” says Burger. “The problem arises when this rule of thumb is exploited.”
Again, salespeople have learned how to use these behaviours to their advantage.
“A lot of times, salespeople go through extra effort for you and go through all sorts of gestures, because they know it will be really hard for you to later say no. People feel bad taking something for free or somebody’s time and effort without paying them back in some way,” says Burger. “It can be a trick – and the feeling of obligation is very hard to fight.”
6. Think emotional triggers
(Credit: Thinkstock)
(Credit: Thinkstock)
According to Martin, we are particularly likely to be influenced when we are overwhelmed or uncertain about the right course of action. “Because we don’t have that thinking space, we don’t have the time or resources to ask ourselves if we’re really making the right decision,” he says.
Some research suggests emotions also affect our commercial activity – both as a buyer and seller. A2004 study, for example, demonstrated that participants were willing to spend 30% more for an item if they had first watched a sad movie clip. (Sellers who had watched the sad clip, meanwhile, were willing to sell the item for 33% less.) Another 2004 study suggests that people who are judged to be particularly emotional have a decreased ability to perceive differences in numbers and assign corresponding values in a rational manner.
As for Levine, his research has given him a newfound appreciation for clever sales techniques, which he says mix art and science. It’s an appreciation mixed with caution though – he says he no longer accepts apparently free gifts.
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*Of course, neither of these statements can be verified… A final tip? Read the small print. 

Good Campaigning

David Cameron has launched a stinging attack on Scotland and the Scottish people today calling them ‘shitweasels,’ ‘fungus’ and ‘kilt-wearing ginger simpletons’.
The attack came as the Tories sharpen their focus on the SNP and any potential coalition with Labour.
“I wouldn’t wipe my bottom on Scotland,” said Mr Cameron at a campaign event in Tewksbury yesterday.
“It’s a gloomy little backwater only good as somewhere to park your nuclear submarines.”
“All they want to do is kick up a rumpus for decent English chaps like us and our wives, I’m definitely the only fellow who can keep the uppity celtic goblins in their place.”
As the parties remain deadlocked in the polls, the Tories are targeting an imagined Labour/SNP coalition after running out of coherent arguments for them to remain in power back in March.
The strategy appears to be gaining traction amongst core Tory voters
“I think it’s smashing,” said hyper-posh boggle-eyed weirdo Simon Williams
“The nasty little jocks all got jolly stroppy last year, but then decided they couldn’t live without us, so frankly, they should all shut up and stop having opinions about the country they live in.”
Asked if the new focus on Scotland was a way of deflecting attention from the fact the Tories seem unable to convince the electorate on any aspects of Government from health to housing, Mr Cameron replied ‘Scotland’s packed full of shitters.’

Same, Same, But... -2

The other Paul McCartney, from Cincinnati

The other Paul McCartney, from Cincinnati
"The good thing is people tend to remember you, and the bad thing is that they remember you."

Born in 1962, Mr. McCartney recalls the times when drunk teenagers would prank call him in the middle of the night. These days, people also approach him in more modern ways: they stalk him on Twitter. (Source)

The other Sandra Bullock, from Connecticut

The other Sandra Bullock, from Connecticut
"A woman, (younger than I), laughed and said 'Is your name REALLY Sandra Bullock?' and I replied yes. She said'Well, you've had the name longer'. I leaned forward and said, "What makes you say that?" She stuttered a bit and said 'Oh, you're about the same age, aren't you?' It was obvious that I am older than Sandra Bullock, the actress. You have to have fun with it."

Sandra Bullock is a Justice of the Peace in the Norwich-New London area in Connecticut. (Source)

The other Kate Middleton, from Brisbane

The other Kate Middleton, from Brisbane
"I've created my own brand, I work really hard and to be called a princess all the time, particularly by men, is frustrating. I'm not a princess. I'm a person."

Kate Middleton is a businesswoman from Brisbane, Australia. Her husband, a mining engineer, is jokingly referred to "Princess," "Duchess," and "Prinny." (Source)

The other Julia Roberts, from Atlanta

The other Julia Roberts, from Atlanta
"It's memorable and it's hard for people to say they don't remember me."

Julia Roberts, a blogger, writer, and speaker finds it especially helpful to share her name with the Pretty Womanstar. (Source)

The other God, from Brooklyn

The other God, from Brooklyn
"It's extremely frustrating, I worked hard to get good credit to look good to lenders and this happens," said God Gazarov, who sued the credit-reporting agency Equifax for falsely reporting him as having no financial history, because their system rejects his first name, God.

God Gazarov, a Russian native, was named after his grand­father, who also shared his name with the Almighty. He owns a jewelry store in Brighton Beach. (Source)

Same, Same, But... -1

The other Justin Bieber, from Jacksonville

The other Justin Bieber, from Jacksonville
Justin Bieber, a 35-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida, waskicked off of Facebook for having a "fake name."

Bieber is kept up all night with phone calls from fans of his pop singing namesake. "It's messages from, 'Hey, Justin Bieber, I love you' to 'You're the worst singer ever.' It's just a little hard to sleep at night when the phones ring constantly."

The calls wouldn't stop even after he changed his phone number and relisted it under his wife's name – a fansite found the new number and published it. Plus, he gets between 2 and 10 letters from Beliebers a day. (Source 1 |Source 2)

The other Beyoncé, from New York

The other Beyoncé, from New York
"When the teacher started calling attendance, I got really nervous, because every time people learn my name isBeyoncé, somebody starts singing ‘Single Ladies.' And some did, of course," said Beyoncé, a NYC student.

On April 4, 2015, the popular "Humans of New York"Facebook page published her photo and comments in which she dishes on what's like to share her name with one of the world's most recognizable women. (Source)

The other Matt LeBlanc, from Canada

The other Matt LeBlanc, from Canada
"[When clients called] they started by telling me to say,'How are you doing?' So I paused and said, 'How are youdoing?' with a bit of confusion in my voice. They started to laugh, and they said 'That's not how Joey says it.'"

Matt LeBlanc is from Atlantic Canada. He a recognized artist who has sold over 3,000 paintings around the world. But he's still confused with Matt LeBlanc, the actor behind Joey on Friends. (Source)

The other Brad Pitt, from Baltimore

The other Brad Pitt, from Baltimore
"I was checking into the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas at the front desk, and the CEO of my company was behind me. The person at the desk told me that they've upgraded me to a corner strip room, with a view, and that they havestrawberries and champagne in my room, and asked if I have any other requests. The CEO asked me, 'Why didn't I get an upgrade?'" 

Brad Pitt works in Channel Development at BarracudaNetworks, a tech communications company, in Baltimore, Maryland. (Source)

The other Bill Gates, from Chicago

The other Bill Gates, from Chicago
"As an HR and IT recruiter, it [my name] is much more of an ice breaker when I am on the phone with candidates, rather than controversy. 63% of the people find my profile through the search "Bill Gates." That number is substantial considering I am a recruiter, and my job is to find people and have them find me." 

Bill Clinton Gates has the distinction of having not only one, but two celebrities' names. He works as a Senior HR and Executive Recruiter at Hirewell, a staffing and recruitingagency based in Chicago, Illinois. (Source)


Same, Same- but Different

So you read the book before you saw the movie. Congrats! Unfortunately—as these examples prove—that doesn't always make you an expert on what, exactly, is going to unfold on the big screen. (It should go without saying, but this article contains spoilers—lots of them. You've been warned!)


Jurassic Park, 
one of the most popular summer blockbusters of all time, doesn't completely line up with the events described in Michael Crichton's best-selling novel of the same name. At the end of the book, the Costa Rican military comes to the rescue by bombing Site A on Isla Nublar. But director Steven Spielberg felt like changing it up. Instead of a military intervention, Spielberg decided to have the T. Rex return to save the protagonists from a Velociraptor attack. "I think the star of this movie is the T. Rex," Spielberg explained at the time. "The audience will hate me if theT. Rex doesn't come back for one more heroic appearance."
The book and movie's body counts vary, too. By the end of the novel, John Hammond has died, and it is implied that Ian Malcolm has as well. Both survive in the movie. On the other hand, the park's game warden, Robert Muldoon, and IgGen's attorney, Donald Gennaro, perish in the big screen adaptation, but live on in the book. 


Planet of the Apes
 features one of the most iconic twist endings in movie history: Astronaut George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) discovers he has been marooned on a post-apocalyptic Earth the entire time. But in La Planète des Singes, the French novel it is based on, the main character—journalist Ulysse Merou—lands on a different planet during the course of his travels, one inhabited by self-aware apes, sentient monkeys, and tribes of dimwitted humans. When Ulysse finally makes it back to Earth, he is shocked to learn that it is now 700 years in the future, and that a similar hierarchy has emerged at home. 
Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, who co-wrote the film's screenplay, was the one who ultimately decided to make the planet of the apes Earth in the distant future. 


Stanley Kubrick based his screenplay on the shortened American version of the British novel by Anthony Burgess. This telling omitted the final chapter of the book, focused on Alex after he is rehabilitated. Though he grows out of his murderous tendencies in Burgess' text, in Kubrick's interpretation, Alex remains as psychotic as ever. Kubrick didn't like the tale's original ending; he felt it was entirely too optimistic given the story's tone and themes. "I think whatever Burgess had to say about the story was said in the book,” Kubrick said. “But I did invent a few useful narrative ideas and reshape some of the scenes." 
Burgess was not a fan of the final product. "The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago," Burgess later recalled. "It became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence. The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me until I die." 


The film version of Fight Club remains faithful to author Chuck Palahniuk's original plot—until the very end, that is. The movie version wraps up as the narrator, standing beside Marla, watches a series of explosions caused by his now-absent alter ego, Tyler Durden. At the end of the book, however, the narrator wakes up in recovery from his gunshot wound. He thinks he's in heaven, but Palahniuk makes it clear that he's actually in a mental institution. Several hospital attendants ask him when he's going to start Project Mayhem again, inferring that Tyler Durden is still very much a part of him.
Director David Fincher explained his choice by arguing that the book was too devoted to the narrator's alter ego: "[I] wanted people to love Tyler (Durden), but I also wanted them to be OK with his vanquishing." 


Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter is an exploration of guilt, punishment, and mob mentality in 17th-century New England. At the end of the classic tale, the townspeople persecuting Prynne learn that the father of her baby is Reverend Dimmesdale, who eventually dies from immense guilt.
The 1995 film version of The Scarlet Letter opted instead for a happy Hollywood ending (read: no one dies). Instead, Reverend Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne leave their town in order to build a new life together.


Truman Capote's beloved novella was also given a simplified and sanitized Hollywood ending. In the book, Holly Golightly loses her cat and abandons New York for Argentina—it's unclear where the free spirit will end up next. The movie, on the other hand, ends with Audrey Hepburn's Holly reuniting with Cat and sharing a passionate kiss with neighbor Paul. (There's no romance between them in Capote's version.) 
Capote wasn't a fan of the movie based on his work, nor of the casting of Audrey Hepburn. "I had lots of offers for that book, from practically everybody," Capote said in an interview. "And I sold it to this group at Paramount because they promised things, they made a list of everything, and they didn't keep a single one."  


Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper tells the story of a young leukemia patient named Kate, whose parents conceive another daughter, Anna, in order to have an organ donor for their firstborn. When she turns 13, Anna is asked to donate one of her kidneys to her dying sister. She refuses and sues her parents for medical emancipation. 
In the book, Anna gets into a terrible car accident, and her kidneys are posthumously harvested for Kate, who survives. But for the 2009 adaptation, director Nick Cassevetes chose to reverse the sisters' fates. Kate ends up succumbing to her illness after she refuses to accept her sister's organs. Cassevetes believed his movie's ending was more accurate after he visited pediatric hospitals and talked to terminally ill patients. 
"Going and visiting people in the hospital, this story repeated over and over and over again," Cassevetes told "In reality, none of these stories ended like the book did." 


Stephen King's The Mist ends on a vague note—a few survivors head towards the source of a mysterious radio transmission as the titular mist creeps around them. But director Frank Darabont decided to give the film a more definitive—and more gut-wrenching—conclusion. David, played by Thomas Jane, comes to realize that the group's survival efforts are futile. To prevent any further suffering, he kills the remaining survivors, including his son, just before the military shows up to inform him that the situation is now under control. 
"How primitive do people get?" Darabont said of his new ending. "It's Lord of the Flies that happens to have some cool monsters in it." King, for his part, gave the new ending two thumbs-up: "The ending is such a jolt—wham! It's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending."  


At the end of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, the tale's Once-ler gives the boy the last-ever Truffula seed in the hopes that he'll be able to grow a new forest. But there's no room for ambiguity in the story's 2012 cartoon version: Before the credits roll, new Truffula Trees are flourishing and The Lorax has returned to the forest. 


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, based on Peter George's Red Alert, takes a comedic approach to the source material. Instead of narrowly avoiding a nuclear catastrophe at the zero hour (like the book does), Stanley Kubrick decided to blow up the world because of some petty bickering. 
Originally, Kubrick planned to have everyone in the situation room get into a big pie fight. But "I decided it was farce and not consistent with the satiric tone of the rest of the film," he said.


There are some pretty major differences between Forrest Gump's book and film versions. Though the movie ends with Jenny's death and shows Forrest raising their child alone, the book wraps up with Forrest starting up his own shrimp business, in memory of his college friend Bubba. (Another key difference: in Winston Groom's book, Jenny survives, but marries another man and has his child.) 
"[Screenwriter] Eric Roth departed substantially from the book,” Zemeckis told the Chicago Tribune. “We flipped the two elements of the book, making the love story primary and the fantastic adventures secondary. Also, the book was cynical and colder than the movie. In the movie, Gump is a completely decent character, always true to his word. He has no agenda and no opinion about anything except Jenny, his mother, and God."  
Groom believed that the movie "took some of the rough edges off" his beloved character. In fact, he was so unhappy with the film that he started the book's sequel, Gump and Co., with Forrest telling readers, "Don't never let nobody make a movie of your life's story."


Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the inspiration for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, is a surprisingly dark murder mystery. In the novel, Roger hires Detective Eddie Valiant to figure out why Rocco DeGreasy, the man who has the cartoon rabbit under contract, hasn't given him his own comic strip. During Valiant's investigation, Roger Rabbit is murdered and his wife Jessica is framed. Valiant spends the rest of the story trying to figure out who killed Roger. (The book ends with the revelation that a mysterious genie is the culprit.)
Although there's still a murder at the center of the 1988 movie version—this time, Toontown owner Marvin Acme is the victim—Disney and Touchstone Pictures gave the entire story an overhaul when the company acquired the film rights from author Gary K. Wolf. The studios hoped to make a family-friendly blockbuster in order to rejuvenate their flagging animation department, and saw Who Censored Roger Rabbit? as a means to that end.


In 2007, Will Smith starred in author Richard Matheson's I Am Legend as Dr. Robert Neville, the sole survivor of a worldwide plague that turns humans into infected, vampire-like creatures. 
The book ends with Dr. Neville, who spends his days slaying the infected to protect himself, learning that he's considered a monster to the creatures who are now the dominant race on the planet. He's imprisoned and later executed for his crimes. In the movie, however, Neville solidifies his hero status by handing off a cure for the virus ravaging the planet to a healthy woman and boy. An alternate ending that showed more interaction between Neville and the creatures was shot, but the filmmakers opted to go with an ending in which Will Smith sacrifices himself for the sake of the human race.


The first Rambo movie is based on the novel First Blood by author David Morrell. The book and the movie both tell the story of a troubled Vietnam War vet, but the book ends with his death after a violent showdown with Chief Teasle. In the movie, Rambo and Teasle survive, and Rambo turns himself into the authorities.
The reason for the change: Once again, early test audiences didn't approve of the original ending, and wanted to see Rambo live to fight another day. 


The 1956 black-and-white classic, based on Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers, ends with protagonist Miles ranting and raving ("You're next!") along a busy highway of pod people and non-believers. But in the book, the titular body snatchers flee Earth after Miles discovers where their pods are grown and begins to set them on fire.
Though director Don Siegel and screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring were happy with their unsettling ending, the movie studio demanded a more hopeful outcome. To keep the bosses happy, the filmmakers added in a brief epilogue, during which the audience learns that local police had alerted national authorities to the presence of the space invaders. Sniffed Siegel, "The film was nearly ruined by those in charge at Allied Artists, who added a preface and an ending that I don't like."