Screwing Up The Brand

One of the things that drives historians (well, this historian anyway) crazy is that people just refuse to learn from history — no matter how much precedent there is for a situation where doing X results in Unpleasant Consequence Y, we just go ahead and do X anyway, expecting that the outcome won’t be total shit and that anyway, Times Are Different.

Example:  when Coca-Cola tried to change Coke into New Coke back in the mid-1980s — because The Market Has Changed, And We Need To Move With The Times — a storm of furious resistance from their loyal consumers forced them to recant and relaunch Coke as Classic Coke, going back to the same old formulation of super-sweet battery acid that the world had come to know and love.  (New Coke, eventually, went the way of its erstwhile spokesman Bill Cosby.)

The Coca-Cola fiasco should be taught in business schools everywhere, and should be an integral part of any company’s training in marketing.  It’s not the first time it happened, of course;  but it was one of the more illuminating examples of leaving your established brand alone, and all the more notable because it involved a mere carbonated soft drink, surely one of the most irrelevant and disposable products ever invented.

Clearly, the Coke fiasco has either been forgotten or willfully ignored, because:

Stella Artois owners Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I say they’ve lowered the alcohol content in its canned, draft and gluten-free versions to capitalise on the popularity of “wellness trends”.
It last cut ABV from 5% to 4.8% in 2012 citing “evolving” drinking trends in the UK.

Let’s not forget the role of the bean-counters:

But the move is said to have saved previous brewers AB inBev up to £8.6million a year in duty, according to

And the result?

The latest reduction has left beer lovers fuming and sparked a surge in one star reviews across supermarket websites from customers.

In a scathing review on Tesco’s website, the person wrote: “Today I cracked open a can of Stella 4.6% and thought I had Covid, since I could not taste anything.”

I have no dog in this fight:  Stella Artois has always been my supporting argument when I state that contrary to popular belief, the Belgians know fuck-all about making a decent beer*.

It appears that they know fuck-all about marketing the foul stuff, either.

*As I recall, the Belgies were the first to start adding fruit flavors to their beer, which just proves my point.

Return To Normality, Sorta

The extended-stay hotel has restored its wifi connection, at least temporarily, so I’m more or less back in business.

However, there are over 1,700(!) emails sitting in my Inbox waiting for my attention, and today New Wife and I have to go back to the apartment to pack and move stuff into the garage so that the complex can start the laborious process of drying the place out, replacing carpets and fixing drywall.

It’s gonna take a little while before blogging resumes its customary volume, in other words.

Most alarming to me has been the realization that all my precious books may have been ruined by the humidity.  I’ll find out the truth when I get back there later this morning.


And one more time, with feeling:  words cannot express our gratitude for your wonderful generosity.  I hope nobody minds that when all the dust has settled, bills paid and my life is restored, that some tiny part of your contributions (if any remain) might go towards buying a few books.

Marking Time

The story of the film so far:

Apartment is still closed, some standing water, interior is humid like New Orleans on a midsummer day after a rainstorm, but cold like Chicago is… now, come to think of it.  No water, of course, but occasional electricity(!!)

The hotel’s wifi is still down (WTF?), but I can make a temporary hotspot with my phone and communicate with the outside world that way, except that the download time is measured in units like the old dial-up/modem connections (remember them?) so I’m not going to be anywhere like as much as I normally am.

– Good news is that I don’t think the insurance company is going to try and screw us, but time will tell on that one.  So far they have been nothing but understanding — especially when I told Insurance Agent Man that a.) the guns weren’t damaged and b.) we’d managed to keep the Persian rugs away from the water.  The sigh of relief was quite audible.

– Bad news is that because New Wife is an hourly worker, she’s not going to get paid for this past week because her school was closed, so… you know all those generous contributions y’all have been making?  Noses above water, especially as next week is Car(s) Payment Time — and once again, our sincerest thanks for your generosity.

I’ll try to post more, but please bear with me.  Aaaaargh.  In the meantime, here’s something to put a smile on your face:

I found those (all packed with loose ammo) when I was cleaning out the gun stuff.  Left to right:  .45 ACP, .357 Mag and .223 Rem.

Except of course I don’t own any guns which shoot .357 Mag or .223 Rem.  Go figure.

Update:  For all those interested in the “spare ammo”, I’m sorry.  As soon as I found it, I found it a good home because I didn’t want to hassle with it, and posted about it much later.


Just a quick update: we’re safely ensconced at a long-stay hotel, but we’re still subject to occasional blackouts which play havoc with the wifi server. So postings will only be occasional.

We are fine.

That said, we are still waiting for the insurance company to come and view the damage, so in that regard there’s still some uncertainty.

To all those folks who have tossed dollars into Ye Olde Begginge Bole, our deepest and sincerest thanks.

Apart from the insurance uncertainty (and you all know what I mean), I feel fine about things. We’re safe, warm and DRY, so things can only get better*.

*cue Howard Jones’ song of the same name.