Johnson's World: Musings, Droppings, Streams and Flashes (Part 7)

Vague musings, name-dropping, streams of consciousness and occasional flashes of brilliance ... from Johnson’s World.

October 1, 2015

If you’ve ever lived in the rural Midwestern or Southern United States chances are you’ve shopped at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Founder Clarence Saunders was always reluctant to explain the origin of his chain’s curious name. One story is that he saw from a train window several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, and the rhyming name occurred to him then. 

Someone once asked him why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organization, and Saunders’ reply was, “So people will ask that very question.” He wanted a name that would be talked about and remembered.


Only one percent of children in the Central African Republic have books in their homes, compared with 97 percent of young Ukrainians. —UNICEF 2014 State of the World’s Children Report

Aside from purely altruistic reasons, why should you care? Because unless you print only pretty pictures devoid of wording, these children are your future clients. Your very livelihood depends upon the literacy of the children of tomorrow’s global economy.


If you attended Graph Expo, you may very well have eaten at the Shor restaurant. Located between McCormack Place and the adjacent Hyatt Hotel, Shor preys upon naïve conventioneers afraid to venture out onto the streets of Chicago’s near South Side yet nauseated by the thought of any more fast food from the show floor. For $12 showgoers from out of town can sample the local color and flavor: two Chicago-style hot dogs with fries. 

The twelve-buck pricetag looks fairly tame next to a $20 plate of scallops, obscuring the fact that the street price for two dogs plus fries is normally between five and six bucks.

Location, location, location. That, and timing. And presentation.


Nineteenth-century French philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a printer, typesetter, and proofreader by trade. He taught himself Latin and Greek, the better to read and understand what he was printing, and then taught himself Hebrew by comparing the Masoretic Biblical text with the Latin Vulgate while printing the latter.

After years working as a foreman in a large print shop, he and some partners founded their own print shop, which quickly failed.

Proudhon is best remembered by posterity for creating the philosophy of anarchy. Inspired, I’m sure, by the ups and downs of his years in the printing business.


 “Why you should color your hair at home!” the headline of the banner ad screamed at me. “More and more women are turning their backs on boxed hair color. Learn more!” Needless to say, I didn’t click on the link.

The banner ad in question was served up to me at the top of a daily email newsletter to which I subscribe on the topic of astronomy and astrophysics. In my humble opinion, most of the subscribers to this newsletter, like me, are highly unlikely to be coloring their hair at home or anywhere else. A reminder, once again, that the word “target” is first in target marketing because without the proper database, all marketing efforts are a waste of time and money.


Can you endure a little controversy? Most businesses avoid conflict like the plague, and that is generally a good idea, although it should not be a hard and fast rule. Remember the Rolling Stone magazine Boston bomber cover? Rolling Stone was roundly criticized from all sides for supposedly glorifying a killer. You would think such controversy would impact sales, and it did. Newsstand sales of the bomber cover issue were double the norm.


Discover Point Church in Conyers, GA, has an ATM in its narthex for the stated purpose of enabling parishioners to make donations directly with a credit or debit card. 

I’ve long been a vocal advocate of asking for the order and of making transactions easy and convenient for the client. Apparently, the word is getting around.