Friday, February 08, 2008

CalTech and Stanford prove Fred Franzia was right all along about the price of wine

January 14, 2008 10:55 AM PST

Study: $90 wine tastes better than the same wine at $10

This graph shows the activity in the brain's pleasure center; there's more activity with wine subjects think costs $90 a bottle (top line) than the same wine priced at $10. The arrow shows the moment when the subjects started tasting the wine.

(Credit: CalTech, Stanford)

In a study that could make marketing managers and salespeople rub their hands with glee, scientists have used brain-scanning technology to shed new light on the old adage, "You get what you pay for."

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology and Stanford's business school have directly seen that the sensation of pleasantness that people experience when tasting wine is linked directly to its price. And that's true even when, unbeknownst to the test subjects, it's exactly the same Cabernet Sauvignon with a dramatically different price tag.

Specifically, the researchers found that with the higher priced wines, more blood and oxygen is sent to a part of the brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex, whose activity reflects pleasure. Brain scanning using a method called functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) showed evidence for the researchers' hypothesis that "changes in the price of a product can influence neural computations associated with experienced pleasantness," they said.

The study, by Hilke Plassmann, John O'Doherty, Baba Shiv, and Antonio Rangel, was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This chart shows that people ranked taste of a $45 wine higher than the same wine priced at $5, and the same for a different wine marked $90 and $10.

(Credit: CalTech, Stanford)

The research, along with other studies the authors allude to, are putting a serious dent in economists' notions that experienced pleasantness of a product is based on its intrinsic qualities.

"Contrary to the basic assumptions of economics, several studies have provided behavioral evidence that marketing actions can successfully affect experienced pleasantness by manipulating nonintrinsic attributes of goods. For example, knowledge of a beer's ingredients and brand can affect reported taste quality, and the reported enjoyment of a film is influenced by expectations about its quality," the researchers said. "Even more intriguingly, changing the price at which an energy drink is purchased can influence the ability to solve puzzles."

I predict McCain's Running Mate? Watch and see!!!

Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice

Dr. Condoleezza Rice became Secretary of State on January 26, 2005. Prior to this, she was the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor, since January, 2001.

In June 1999, she completed a six year tenure as Stanford University's Provost, during which she was the institution's chief budget and academic officer. As Provost she was responsible for a $1.5 billion annual budget and the academic program involving 1,400 faculty members and 14,000 students.

As professor of political science, Dr. Rice has been on the Stanford faculty since 1981 and has won two of the highest teaching honors -- the 1984 Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 1993 School of Humanities and Sciences Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching.

At Stanford, she has been a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution. Her books include Germany Unified and Europe Transformed (1995) with Philip Zelikow, The Gorbachev Era (1986) with Alexander Dallin, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984). She also has written numerous articles on Soviet and East European foreign and defense policy, and has addressed audiences in settings ranging from the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Moscow to the Commonwealth Club to the 1992 and 2000 Republican National Conventions.

From 1989 through March 1991, the period of German reunification and the final days of the Soviet Union, she served in the Bush Administration as Director, and then Senior Director, of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1997, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender -- Integrated Training in the Military.

She was a member of the boards of directors for the Chevron Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, the International Advisory Council of J.P. Morgan and the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors.

She was a Founding Board member of the Center for a New Generation, an educational support fund for schools in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, California and was Vice President of the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula . In addition, her past board service has encompassed such organizations as Transamerica Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Carnegie Corporation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Rand Corporation, the National Council for Soviet and East European Studies, the Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition and KQED, public broadcasting for San Francisco.

Born November 14, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama, she earned her bachelor's degree in political science, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver in 1974; her master's from the University of Notre Dame in 1975; and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, the University of Notre Dame in 1995, the National Defense University in 2002, the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003, the University of Louisville and Michigan State University in 2004. She resides in Washington, D.C.

Reposted, What a McCain Presidential Win would mean in Utah

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reposted, What a McCain Presidential Win would mean in Utah

Posted originally on Monday, January 21, 2008

What a McCain Presidential Win would mean in Utah

As I have posted many times recently, I no longer am a registered Republican. Utah Republicans will blindly vote for Mitt Romney on Feb 5th, so what are we unaffiliated voters to do. Well I plan on voting for Obama, and I encourage as many other unaffiliated voters to do the same. I would love to see the National media explain how those white bread Mormon bigots could actually support an African American for President of the United States.

Now about McCain, If Rudy fails to win Florida his campaign is over, and it's the McCain express to the nomination. If McCain wins the nomination, he wins the election. America is not ready to elect Hillary or Obama. Mitt as vice president would be his way to the White House in 4-8 years, otherwise it's back to corporate America.

But what would happen in Utah if McCain were elected President? Governor Huntsman would be either Secretary of State or ambassador to China, and our Attorney General would be the next US Attorney General. This would allow Gary Herbert to become the Governor (he really is running the State already), and move another Utah County party leader into his seat, likely Bramble. The GOP party would likely replace Mark Shurtliff with Salt Lake County District Attorney Lora Miller.

John Valentine and Mike Leavitt will seek the US Senate nomination in 2010 when Bob Bennett elects not to run, after a internal state delegate poll tells him he would likely be defeated in convention. Hatch will also retire in 2012 for the same reason.

John McCain's Perfect Ride

Joel's Two Cents

John McCain's Perfect Ride

John McCain can be excused for looking like the cat that ate the canary at a breakfast today in Washington. (AP).

By Joel Achenbach
How did John McCain become the certain Republican nominee? With what they call in horse racing a perfect ride.

Yes, there was that rather large stumble last year. The word "imploded" is the officially sanctioned journalistic term for what happened to the McCain campaign. But his timing was fabulous! Last anyone checked, the spring of 2007 had no scheduled primaries or caucuses. For candidates, reporters and political junkies, the campaign was going great guns, but for citizens, which is to say voters, it was an off year.

When the voting began, McCain consistently won where he had to win. He skipped Iowa and proved that it didn't matter. He maximized his delegate count per vote. He won South Carolina narrowly with 33 percent of the vote to Huckabee's 30 percent, but he got 18 delegates and Huckabee got only six. He won Florida with a titanic total, by McCain standards, of about 36 percent of the vote, and swept up all 57 delegates. With 42 percent of the vote in California, he got almost every delegate up for grabs (149 to Romney's six, according to AP). All told, McCain won 4,114,973 votes, while Romney snagged 3,471,691 and Huckabee 2,130,469.

E.J. Dionne today described how McCain's ride managed to skirt the South and the Mountain West and, in essence, the base of the Republican Party. That's going wide and ceding the rail, but McCain found good footing.

His perfect ride began before the election even got rolling, as Tony Blankley pointed out yesterday in the Washington Times. The strongest Republican candidate, Jeb Bush, found himself as a member of the one family in America effectively prohibited from offering a candidate. And George Allen stepped in macaca.

And perhaps a part of McCain's perfect ride happened a year ago, when McCain skipped the CPAC convention altogether.

It was risky. Everyone else showed up to woo the hard-core conservatives. Rudy Giuliani bombed, and though he went on to spend 2007 as the titular front-runner, the stony silence that greeted him at the Omni Shoreham may have prefigured his inability to connect with the party's base. Giuliani spent much of his speech praising Abraham Lincoln, apparently unaware that, in this particular crowd, Lincoln is widely hated (on doctrinal grounds involving federal government overreach, etc.).

The star of the show was Mitt Romney, who trucked in busloads of supporters, then touched on all the Reaganesque themes with perfect pitch. Few people have ever tried harder, or spent more money, or crafted ideological positions more feverishly, to ingratiate themselves with a political party's base. But he could never shake the odor of inauthenticity. It's fitting that Romney used CPAC as the place to make his exit.

McCain will probably never persuade conservatives that he is truly one of them. And by skipping CPAC last year, he avoided having to contort himself.

He'll show up at CPAC today, and it'll be interesting to see what he says. Mike Allen on WTOP this morning wondered aloud if McCain would be booed. This can be an edgy crowd. But the party's far right is no longer sitting in the power position. McCain is.

The Spyglass Spots: Two Buck Chuck fuels urban legends...

Two Buck Chuck fuels urban legends...

Since its debut in 2003, the insanely inexpensive Charles Shaw wine, better known as Two Buck Chuck, has fueled urban legends.

The fables persist because no one can image how a bottle of wine could cost $2 or $3.

Charles Shaw's bitter divorce, one story holds, ordered him to split winery profits with his ex. He responded by selling the wine at a loss, denying his wife a penny. Another tale holds that bankrupt airlines sold warehouses of wine at a discount to pay the bills.

The truth is less dramatic.

The man behind Two Buck Chuck is Fred Franzia. A nephew of Ernest Gallo and lifelong friend of the Mondavi family, he is perhaps among the most coarse and colorful people in the wine industry. He sells Charles Shaw so cheaply because he has taken advantage of the grape and wine glut. He started out purchasing grapes, juice and wine from desperate and anonymous growers and wineries. He still does that, but also owns about 80 square miles of vineyards.

I give part of the credit for the increasing quality of under-$10 wines, and the growing levels of wine consumption to Charles Shaw and Fred Franzia.

We love Fred!