Thursday, December 4, 2008

Is It A Sign Of Things To Come?

In 1953 Dick and Mac McDonald used golden arches for a sign. They put an arch on both sides of their first, walk-up hamburger stand in Oak Brook, Illinois. When viewed from an angle, the two arches looked like the letter "M". Although McDonald's stopped putting golden arches on most of their restaurants in the 1960's, the marketing of healthy happy meals shows that McDonald's is still interested in angles.

In 1959 Harry Wheeler, an industrial arts teacher, built a sign for his Western store in Canyon, Texas and named the sign Tex Randall. Tex is a Stetson-topped, jean-wearing cowboy that stands 47 feet high and weighs 7 tons. Today the store is gone, Tex is starting to show his age and the property on which Tex's size 75 boots stand has been bought by an outsider who - unlike the locals - doesn't look up to Tex. The good news is Tex was bought for $5,000 by the owner of the local diner. The bad news is it would cost $55,000 to move Tex to that diner. It seems in Texas even the problems are big.

Because the Islamic holy time of Ramadan occurs in September, September 2008 was the time chosen by the grassroots Islamic awareness group, the Islamic Circle of North America, to start an ad campaign. The group sponsored signs in 1,000 of New York City's 6,000 subway cars. The two-paneled signs featured the words "Islam Head Scarf or Prophet Muhammad" and the phrase "you deserve to know". The ads also included a phone number and Web site for those people who wanted to learn more about Islam. When the ad campaign was first announced, there were derogatory headlines in the New York Post and angry statements by some local politicians. These were stronger signs - of the times.

Then there's body language. According to Joseph Navarro, a retired FBI Special Agent, body language that deals with emotions is fairly universal and hard to hide. Biting our lip is a sign we're insecure. Putting our hands on our hips is a sign we're not pleased with the present situation. Raising our shoulders is a sign we're not confident about what we are saying. Although Navarro used his body language skills to read criminals, he's now teaching them to employers, doctors and poker players. Although it's possible to have a poker face, don't bet you can have a poker body.

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