Almost no one goes home eagerly anticipating junk mail

This content has been archived. It may no longer be accurate or relevant.

Almost no one goes home eagerly anticipating junk mail in their mailbox. Almost no one reads People magazine for the ads. Almost no one looks forward to a three-minute commercial interruption on must see TV. Advertising is not why we pay attention. Yet marketers must make us pay attention for the ads to work. If they don’t interrupt our train of thought by planting some sort of seed in our conscious or subconscious, the ads fail. Wasted money. If an ad falls in the forest and no one notices, there is no ad.

Seth Godin

21 thoughts on “Almost no one goes home eagerly anticipating junk mail”

  1. Martin and Elliot01: I suspect that Neocon assessments of the situation are about to get discredited good and hard, as were their policies with regard to Mesopotamia. Certainly we shall find out in the next six months.

    • The war, maybe.

      Russia’s fate, though is cast in concrete for a generation.
      Neocon or whatever label you want to bring out is irrelevant because demographics don’t lie.

      More importantly, the whole “gas station with nukes” is done.
      The EU is never going to buy as much energy as they used to; certainly not from Russia. China wants to but they can’t because the pioelies don’t exist and neither country can build them in less than ten years.

      Here’s an economic snapshot of the russian economy for te first half of 2023:

      They’ve lost half their sales, are getting paid less for what they do sell, and the war is chewing up their budget beyond their ability to sustain.

      If they were to nuke Ukraine to oblivion or if Putin were to commit suicide by shooting himself in the back of the head tomorrow and they backed out of Ukraine in a month, either way it would still take them 20 years to rebuild the economy to 2013, prewar, levels.

      Allthewhile, the west moves away from oil to LNG, and a mix of Modular Nuclear Reactors, fusion, and solar power satellites. Putin bet the future on oil and a hollow army and now russia has none.

      It is no more a matter of economic systems than of religion; it is about THE DEAD HAND of demographics, geopolitics, and technology. And Russia is on the wrong side of all three.

    • Neocon assessments may be discredited. But the failures of the Russians and their inventory listings confirm the strategic and democratic assessments.

      • No prob: it was understood you weren’t debating yourself. 😉

        An added point about russia: russian society finds itself in its current situation because it never evolved past the structures and practices of the Russian Empire. It is still an oligarchic kleptocracy ruling over serfs with no power to fight the Boyars. As a result, the country has gone through successive population bottlenecks and it hasn’t recovered from any: the revolution, collectivization, Stalin’s purges, WWII, The cold war, the breakup of its external Empire (much like the UK but not France–France is another story in that they loosely retain theirs) and now, finally, invading Ukraine and the exodus of up to 4million of the most educated young ones. At least a milion of which are men, not tat being a woman in that society is any picnic.

        Another way to appreciate their social/cultural backwardness is to compare it to the US: what if today’s society operated by Gilded Age laws and mores or even just turn of the 20th century Dollar Diplomacy economics. For all the talk of the mythical “unfeterred capitalism” and “neocon foreign policy” the reality is neither has existed for decades verging into generations. American capitalism is fettered by a century of regulation (demonstrably more than is healthy, but that’s a different discussion paying out in Congress this past week) and foreign policy is buried under three decades of isolationist administrations culmination in the three most recent ones. Nothing conservative, old or new, about any of them. One disinterested, one populist blather, one senile.

        Two societies that could have ruled the world but didn’t; one terminal for refusing to change, the other in constant ferment and change. The latter is just getting started while the former is struggling to survive its own mistakes.

        As per usual: lots of story fodder to be found in geopolitical analysis, especially for SF.

  2. I like how he says “almost no one” about the mail, just to hedge his bets. But I truly am trying to think of a scenario where someone would 1) look forward to junk mail, and 2) race home to get it. Idunno, I think if a piece of mail is something you want to get, it ceases to be junk mail. But there are all kinds of weirdos out there …

    Although pre-streaming, I did look for commercials for TV shows, because those were either bathroom breaks, or go-get-the-snacks breaks. I am ruined for network television; I can no longer watch TV that I can’t pause or rewind.

    • A few tears back one of the news shows featured a guy in Maine who heated his house with junk mail. He did everything he could to generate junk mail. Then he compacted it into bundles he burned in his stove. Maine gets pretty cold, and he claimed junk mail was all he used. Post Office officials who were interviewed said their hands were tied. They are bound to delivering whatever is addressed to him.

      He had some good tips on what burns best.

        • They’re also good to crumple up to start the back yard fire pit. That was all I used once I stopped getting the newspaper when even the comics became unbearable.

          Alas, all that shows up in my mailbox nowadays is the glossy stuff, which doesn’t burn at all well. All of my grocery store chains have gone completely digital with their flyers.

      • Post Office officials who were interviewed said their hands were tied.


        How did the Post Office think it was their business what he did with his own junk mail? I shred mine if they’re credit card offers or similar. The only reason I don’t burn them is because I had my fireplace inspected before I moved in, and the guy found a dead bat in the flue. I just don’t have time to deal with live bats.

        The Maine Man is brilliant, though. And the birdcage scenario works, too. So Godin was half right about people wanting junk mail (I still doubt they’re racing home to get it, though).

        • Whether they race home depends on how badly they have to go.

          I have read that in the late unlamented U.S.S.R., more people subscribed to Pravda than Izvestia, even though Pravda was intended for Communist Party members and Izvestia for the general public. It turned out that Pravda had more pages and therefore was more useful for toilet paper.

          • !!

            Well. Okay, I withdraw my snark about Seth Godin 😀

            Smuggling blue jeans, defecting athletes, empty grocery stores– somehow it didn’t occur to me that a resourceful citizen of the Soviet Union would have to contend with a lack of toilet paper, too. Bet they’re glad that’s over …

            • The old skills may yet come in handy in coming times.
              Russia is self suficient in food and energy but everything else is in play.
              China can’t even make that claim.

              Yet many think they are the future.

              • We are beginning to hear the same stuff from Washington that we heard in the Eighties when the very smart university people said we had to follow the Japanese MITI model or perish.

              • For all the claims that Russia is just a gas station with nukes, it possesses a much larger industrial base than most Westerners appreciate. Total Russian steel production, for instance, nearly equals America’s, and on a per capita basis exceeds it by a fair margin. This goes a long way toward explaining why we just ran out of conventional artillery rounds to send to the Ukraine, whereas the Russians still possess a vast supply of them despite firing ten times more shells on a daily basis than do the Ukrainians. I could cite other examples, such as how Russia’s production of tanks has greatly outstripped ours, or how they are already deploying hypersonic weapons while we still struggle to build a working prototype, but you get the idea.

                • I recall when the Russians were bragging about their tractor production. They did build lots of tractors to keep the People’s fields going. They also built the heaviest tractors in the world because tractor factories were evaluated on input consumption rather than output quality.

                  A rule of thumb for Russian tanks is to use the numeral in the designation as the approximate year it was released to the Army. So the T72s we hear about were released in 1972.

                • Who operates that industrial base? Especially after they started the war?
                  And how good is their output?

                  You did hear their “Hypersonic” missiles are fair prey for Patriot systems, right?
                  Armata can’t handle Javelin.
                  Their heavy cruiser was sunk by two 80’s vintage soviet missiles.

                  I can go on and on but the two things to keep in mind are:

                  Russian and Chinese economic data are lies and their demographics are terminal. China’s GDP is actually 40% smaller than reported and their population is hundreds of millions smaller than previously reported. And the missing millions are from the post one child cohorts, the ones that should be at their peak of productivity and child rearing. Russia’s tech “prowess” is so ‘strong” it took them twenty years to build a new module for the space station and when they orbited its buggy software almost destroyed the entire ISS.

                  Both societies are postpeak.

                  Russia invaded Ukraine *now* to beef up their population (hence the 700,000 children they’ve kidnapped) because in ten years they wouldn’t have enough men of military age to field an army. And then they lost a million men in their twenties who ran for it to avoid conscription.

                  The war is no longer about whether Ukraine can remain independent but whether Russia can remain united or it goes the way of Yugoslavia.

                • As to Russian tanks, the T14 Armatas production is so low–best guess is under 100, a fraction of the 2000 they bragged they’d have in 2021.
                  They tried using a few in Syria but got blown up quickly. By a 70’s vintage TOW-2B.


                  Their biggest tank innovations in Ukraine so far were bringing out T-54s to use as rear echelon artillery and to load them up with explosives to us as truck bombs. The latter worked once but since the armor is so thin and they move so slow they are easy to counter with drones.

                  The biggest casualty of the war, bigger than the 200,000 casualties on the battlefield, is their weapons export business. India for one is busy cancelling all their orders. And China is wondering how bad their reverse-engineered copies might be.

                • Meanwhile, the Russians are regretting buying the Chinese knock-offs of Michelin tires for their trucks. Not only are they very poor tires, they rot when left on trucks parked for years without moving. Armies do lots of moving on tires.

                  But all those trucks remain in the weapons inventory listing.

Comments are closed.