Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Starbucks is the work of the Devil.

We may have coffee or we may have Starbucks. We cannot have both. Starbucks is a coffee shop for people who do not like coffee.

Starbucks is never the destination. It is too bland for that. It is a way to kill time while waiting for a train. The aim of Starbucks is not to thrill or educate the palate- it is deliberately bland. Deliberately unobjectionable. If political correctness had a flavour it would be Starbucks.

Starbucks is a marketing lead company that only produces coffiee as a kind of accident. The chief product of the Starbucks coffiee is the Starbucks brand which it promotes via product placement in hollywood movies (the worse the movie the morelikely we will see a Starbucks in it. The aim seems to be to make Starbucks the glkamourious alternative and Starbucks promises Hollywood glamour (Starbucks spends a lot on product placement in movies) but anyone comming to the big city and believing this to be so identifyies themselves instantly as an innocent ready to be eaten up. Starbucks promises community, a sort of home from home but it is a souless corporate monster.

Starbucks, with its wobbly tables and identikit corporate identity is the least glamorous place I can think of. Why not fix the tables? Do they think we will buy a second cup of coffee if we spill the first one?

Starbucks promotes the worst kinds of cost free save-the-world do virtue signalling in the corporate universe. They promote fair-trade but treat their staff as serfs. They are prone to fatuous anti racism that reminds us of our prejudices without resolving them.

Starbucks use technology such as apps for their benefit and not the benefit of the customer. We are expected to wave our phones about in front of the till as if we were swatting flies. This is advertised as a time saving measure- and so it is for Starbucks. For the customer it is merely another thing to worry about and a constant stream of Starbucks propaganda.

Starbucks take interest free deposits in the form of prepaid cards. Benefit to the customer- zero. Benefit to Starbucks- a captive customer. Ker-ching!

Starbucks also engage in elaborate tax avoidance measures- importing their coffee from that well known tropical nation of Switzerland. The entire corporation in the UK paid less tax last year than I did!

Starbucks sell a variety of creamy, sweet and foamy cups of nothingness that pack more calories than actual food.

Starbucks has an astonishingly mean and yet complex loyalty scheme. It takes fifteen cups of froth to get one free. Compare this to McDonald's where it takes only five.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A strange byproduct.

One unexpected result of the Internet economy is the revival of medieval patterns of trade. This happens because the old ways are more human and more Instagram friendly than the new. Whoever heard of someone taking an Instagram selfie while shopping on Amazon? I like to support this revival when I can. It makes the world more interesting.
Medieval street plans (this one in the St Paul's area) naturally calm traffic and absorb sound better than glass and steel. They make shopping for a sandwich and a cup of coffee into a fascinating exploration of side streets and lanes.

Medieval architecture is also fantastically compact and multi purposed. A single building such as this church in the City may provide a place of worship, beauty, charitable service, community meeting place and a clock tower at a single location.
The medieval world was also more colourful than generally imagined. This Oxford example is a recreation but authentically gaudy. Notice how the public are drawn in off the street to gawp and wonder at it all. Who does this in a modern town hall?

When is it worth paying more?

When we buy cheap sausages we find that they shrink in the cooking and we are left with a salty, chemical laden granular and nutrition free insult. The 'meat' of the sausage turns out to be fat that escapes as a foul smelling effluent and ground skin and bone which is all that remains.

Quality sausages are delicious and actually cost less when we consider that meat does not shrink in the same way. Furthermore our bodies will thank us for it later.

Table sauce is much the same. The entire point is the flavour and the potential of cheap sauce to ruin already bad food is huge. Spend a little more.
Very cheap socks have a sort of ridge along the bottom that mean they are never quite comfortable. The difference between these and similar socks without the ridge amounts to only a few pennies a pair.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Hypnotic, dangerious and fun.

Loyalty points are war. In one corner we have the marketeers offering us every kind of promise. In the other we have the consumer- peering out curiously and occasionally darting out to grab this or that free thing without ever signing the dotted line.
Which side wins? The one who plays the game most seriously. The picture is of a 'free' cup of coffee I had from Waitrose recently. Was it really free? I had to buy something to qualify and settled on a bag of pasta.

I could just as easily have bought a single Brussels sprout for a penny. Some people do this.

I guess I am playing to win- but only to a degree.