Strange But True
Q: “Made in America” on a pickup truck might be an inducement to purchase for some, the opposite for others. In our global marketplace, what are some cultural barriers that can impede acceptance of products in other countries?
A: “For one, illustrations of feet are regarded as despicable in Thailand,” say William Pride et al. in “Business: 12th Edition.” Even the color of a product or its package can influence a purchase: In Japan, black and white are the colors of mourning and thus should be avoided, while purple is the color of death in Brazil. And in Egypt, green — the national color — is also not used in packaging.
More generally, customers’ perceptions of a country might affect their purchase of unfamiliar products from there. “For example, because Mexican cars have not been viewed by the world as being quality products, Volkswagen may not want to advertise that some of its models sold in the United States are made in Mexico,” the authors add. “And many retailers on the Internet have yet to come to grips with the task of designing an online shopping site that is attractive and functional for all global customers.”
Q: When was baseball’s historic breakthrough into “dogless” no more?
A: It was sometime before 1893 that Chris von der Ahe, plucky owner of the St. Louis Browns, took a notion to popularize the sport by building an amusement park around his stadium, reports Mental Floss magazine. This took baseball from a “highbrow diversion for gentlemen” to a game for the masses, with the lure of cheap tickets, hawked beer and German snacks, likely including frankfurters. “In no time, ballpark franks became a fan favorite, and today, Americans scarf down more than 20 million hot dogs at games each year.”
Q: It’s not often that Microsoft Windows finds itself in the punch line and the butt of a joke. Can you imagine a question to bring this one on?
A: The discussion began with this query in Science News magazine: What’s the “estimated annual bird deaths in the United States by cause”? It then reported the count as 1.3 billion to 4.0 billion birds killed by cats; 365 million to 988 million killed in window collisions; and 573,000 from wind turbines.
No joke so far, but here it is: The online title for the story, “Windows kill up to 988 million birds a year in the United States” prompted some readers to imagine a very different sort of threat: “I always thought that Windows was a big problem. OS X — Mac’s new operating system — is much better,” joked Casey B. “Microsoft should be ashamed.”
Q: “Tachymarptis melba” may not be the swiftest of birds, but they soar above the others in a rather remarkable way. What’s the way?
A: Alpine swifts are said to spend more than six consecutive months aloft, not even resting after migrating to North Africa following their breeding season in Europe, reports New Scientist magazine. “Up to now, such long-lasting locomotive activity had been reported only for animals living in the sea,” says Felix Liechti, of the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sempach. Yet the researchers’ measurements of the birds’ acceleration and geographic location suggested that for 200 days, all three swifts remained airborne while migrating to and wintering in Africa, probably surviving on airborne plankton and sleeping on the wing.
Send questions to brothers Bill and Rich at email@example.com.