Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Sunday Papers

Last night, Moon was at a fantastic show with, among others, his friend, a reporter for the Post-Gazette. At some point, our discussion turned to our preferences for weekend newspaper, and I confessed, with no small measure of guilt, that I have the Times delivered on the weekends and that's usually it.

Little did I know what I was missing.

Today, the P-G's website, and presumably its print edition, prominently features an article on the trials of contemporary consumer packaging. Hard-hitting news from one of America's last privately owned regional newspapers. After noting that in 2001 more than twice as many people suffered packaging-related injuries than from skateboards and swimming pools combined, the article considers why:

"The loss prevention managers at these big retailers are really the driving forces behind it," [Ken Sullivan, director of marketing for SCA Consumer Packaging,] said. "They're really concerned about gangs of people who come in and scoop up all this kind of stuff."

Of course, "high-visibility packaging" allows thinly staffed big box stores "to showcase products with a minimum of staff involvement," he said. "You just hang it on a peg and let it sell itself, while the employees in blue vests stay busy hiding themselves from the customers."

But in the world of Barbie, words like "theft" and "economics" are no-no's when it comes to the raison d'etre behind her impenetrable packaging. Instead, it's all about -- what else? -- looking good. A spokeswoman for Mattel, which makes Barbie dolls, noted that all those wires and manacles holding Barbie down -- which she delicately referred to as "points of restriction" -- are designed to keep America's favorite doll in great shape during her multi-thousand-mile journey from the overseas factory.

It's not like the Times awaiting me downstairs is going to want for fluff, but packaging? Really?


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