Who's been in the Speakeasy? A Mid-year Report

It’s always a good idea for a business establishment to take stock mid-year and determine what’s been selling well, who the customer base seems to be now, and what might be a good product to offer in the future. Places of social gathering are no different: Who’s been coming in our doors lately, and what have they been ordering? As we pass by the clusters of patrons absorbed in animated conversation, what are they actually discussing?

We decided at this particular mid-year to focus on the top ten subjects of conversation: What are the ten titles that drew the most people to the Speakeasy in the first half of 2019? As always, the results exposed as many questions as answers – but they were interesting results! 

So, here in reverse order, we unveil the top ten articles accessed in the Speakeasy over the past six months, with a few interesting observations as appropriate:

#10: A Fun Book for Everyone – Unbiased, straightforward. This post introduces readers to the refreshing, sometimes kooky book by Tim Harford called Fifty Inventions that Shaped the Modern Economy. It’s blessedly free of political bent, monetary greed or moral exhortation. We just loved the book and wanted to introduce it to Speakeasy guests. We’re glad they tuned in.

#9: When the Flames Hit the Christmas Tree. This article begins with two actual house fires, both in the same historic house in Green Bay’s Astor Neighborhood. However, in all fairness, we did offer a caveat right up front: As interesting as these two little stories might be (and the house was always saved from catastrophe), a much more serious purpose underlies the article. Further reading reveals that purpose and a review of a seminal book on – climate change! (The Christmas tree and the flames were real, though.)

#8: I’ve Never Been Afraid to Speak – Before. A serious discussion of the uncomfortable – perhaps dangerous – tribalism of our current polarized political climate. It won a comment or two from patrons.

#7: Changing Minds – a Magic Wand? Occasionally we are invited to read along with a group and post our reactions to the book; this was one of those times. Opening with the question, “have we ever seen a period in our lifetime when more people hoped more fervently to change more minds – but were ever so nervous about trying to do so?” we proceed to summarize the main tenets of this important book by Howard Gardner. Spoiler alert: We did not find it to be a magic wand, but certainly worth reading.

#6: Here is your Mueller Report – Part I. Hurray! While we would’ve preferred to see this important piece nearer the top of the list, we accept that it’s heavy, serious material – and who comes to the Speakeasy for that, right? So concerned were we, though, with the wild rhetoric on a hugely significant report by people who hadn’t even taken a gander at it that we felt compelled to offer a shorter, more readable version for the average American. One month post-publication, we are disappointed (but not surprised) to see how our six-part Mueller Report series went:

  • 84 people accessed this first part in the series

  • 21 went on to Part IIA

  • Probably only three individuals actually read all the way through the series, although a dozen made it as far as part IIB.

  • It is likely that about five naughty patrons broke the house rules and jumped right to the final section to read our conclusion and observations: Part III. Shameful, right?

(If you’d like to write us and let us know how you, personally, did with the Mueller Report, we’d love to hear from you.)

#5: Does it Jive or Jibe? Do you Hone in or Home in? This was a fun explanation we posted nearly three years ago, simply showing how to correctly choose between these two much-confused word pairs. We’re pleased to report that, in 2019, more than 100 people are still interested in choosing the right word 

#4: Here’s the Skinny on TV Commercials. A heated discussion about whether pharmaceutical companies are actually the biggest buyers of TV-ad time led to this eye-opening study by the Tamarack staff. How did we do it? Why, we watched TV for hours, making sure to switch from network to network and cable company to cable company, and we simply took notes. The results really did surprise us – not just who was advertising, but the unbelievable portion of viewing time devoted to advertising AND the huge number of different products and services gaining exposure in just one half-hour! This piece has drawn readers for three years!

#3: “Myriad: Is any Word More Often Misused?”  Can you believe this word-choice article is still in the top three several years after it was first posted? Of course we’re thrilled, because it really does drive us nuts when people say things like “a myriad of excuses” or “a myriad of choices.” We do want people to understand that “myriad” is an adjective; in the first half of 2019, more than 150 others cared too.

#2: How Democracies Die – a Book We All Should Read. Published early this year, this article carried with it our deepest hopes: We really, truly wanted to encourage people to read Levitsky and Ziblatt’s startling book. And they did! In less than six months’ time, nearly 200 people have accessed this post; we only hope they’ve also read the original book by these two Harvard professors.

And, here it comes… the top-seller of 2019’s first six months… wait for it…

#1: The Word is a (uh), not a (ay). [Cue sound of forehead hitting desktop in utter exasperation. Cue sea of confused, disoriented faces.] How can this be?! Yes, yes, it’s probably the most-often mispronounced word on American television. Yes. But is it really so fascinating that it should draw hundreds of readers from around the world to the Speakeasy? Give us a break! Since its publication more than four years ago, this mundane post [dare we say that of our own work?] has drawn hundreds of readers – close to 600 already this year. And the majority from foreign countries. Why?!

Here’s the place where we’re offering the door prize…

Dear Speakeasy patron, we humbly implore you to help us understand this: Why do people from Senegal, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Egypt come to the Speakeasy to learn how to pronounce the smallest and most common word in the English language? What is it about this one post that induces visitors from Qatar, Estonia and Jordan to stop into the Speakeasy? 

Seriously, we are so befuddled (and probably so naïve) about this, that we’re willing to put up some money for an explanation: To the person who can provide the most plausible, reliable explanation for the huge influx of foreign visitors to this one humble little grammatical exercise, we offer a $25 gift card to the vendor of your choice (within reason). Just email your sound, authentic explanation of this phenomenon to Lynn@TamarackCommunication.com. If your account is verified by our staff (i.e. If it is something we can swallow, whole), we’ll contact you about that gift card.