The Temptation of Jesus, Mercedes edition

Superbowl Ad, 2012: Mercedes-Benz 1 , 2

Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Then the devil showed him the new Mercedes CLA, and all the fame and glamour that it would bring, saying, “Sign your soul over to me and all this is yours.”

As Jesus was carefully considering the devil’s offer, he saw the CLA’s price of only $29,900 and said, “Thanks, I think I got this.”


  1. The original version of this ad featured a song from the Rolling Stones – “Sympathy for the Devil”, a first-person account of the devil at work throughout history (video)

  2. One interesting tidbit: Willem Dafoe, the actor who plays Satan in this ad, also played Jesus in Martin Scorsese’s film, The Last Temptation of Christ

Resolution for 2013: avoid the endless flow of the web

This is the time of the year when sites around the web compile “best of” lists, as a way of reflecting on the past year.  It’s one of the few times we reflect on which of the many messages we’ve been drowning in will have lasting significance — what messages are more than just noise.

In 2010, Robin Sloan wrote an article that provides a useful vocabulary for thinking about creating and consuming content in a world with 24/7 news, endless facebook updates, and twitter.

Robin introduces the terms “stock” and “flow”:

There are two kinds of quantities in the world. Stock is a static value: money in the bank, or trees in the forest. Flow is a rate of change: fifteen dollars an hour, or three thousand toothpicks a day..

I actually think stock and flow is the master metaphor for media today. Here’s what I mean:

  • Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that you exist.
  • Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.
Havasu Falls

I feel like flow is ascendant these days, for obvious reasons—but we neglect stock at our own peril. I mean that both in terms of the health of an audience and, like, the health of a soul. Flow is a treadmill, and you can’t spend all of your time running on the treadmill. Well, you can. But then one day you’ll get off and look around and go: Oh man. I’ve got nothing here.

So what are the ways that I can increase my ratio of stock to flow?

Zucherburg’s Law

Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook believes that every year people will share twice as much information as they did the previous year, so they’ve developed tools to help their users cope.

You can choose to subscribe only to what is most important and you can filter out messages from people you know less well.  It would be nice if there were a service I could subscribe to which could dial back the level of flow and receive a greater quantity of stock on the web. Monthly magazines are supposed to serve this function.  Or I can just go to the library and find some classic books.

So for 2013, my resolution is to increase the quality of what I read — more stock and less flow.

How would Frank Luntz frame Warren Buffett’s Tax Debate?

The Secretary-Billionaire Tax Equality Principle

Warren Buffett wrote an op-ed recently that suggested that the top 0.3% of yearly earners were paying too little in taxes.
One of his favorite illustrations of this point is that his secretary pays a much higher tax rate that he does.

His prescription is:

  • undefined cuts to entitlement programs
  • higher taxes on the top 0.3%

The Power of Framing

The idea that a secretary should not pay a higher tax rate than their billionaire boss
is hard to argue with and shows the power of “framing”.

Here’s an other tax framing idea:

It is often said that we don’t want to push the burden of current spending onto future generations.

Reihan Salam: During the Bush years, it was often said that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts represented redistribution from future taxpayers to current taxpayers.

You might reframe this as:

Those older Americans, who can afford it, should not get a better deal their grandchildren’s generation

But how would Frank Luntz say it?

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