Waffling in THREE dimensions.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Today, I come to you representing a disenfranchised and persecuted minority group, the homeopaths. Homeopathy is the radical notion that drinking water is good for you. But not just any water, this water has been energized by adding some mineral, like sulfur or Natrum muriaticum (a version of table salt sold to New Agers), and then reenergized even further by adding more water. The more water the better, also if that water comes from far away that also helps. Preferably by train for some reason, because homeopaths don't how the water cycle works. But that's not their fault; clearly science education has failed them.
Homeopaths swear by the effectiveness of this elixer. They boast of numerous health benefits that come from this lifestyle, like really clear urine. As someone who regularly voids the color of apple juice, and once the color of Blue Voltage Mountain Dew, I suppose I might be proud of that too.
Recently this group of peaceful aquaphiles has been under attack by a sinister force, The Amazing Randi. This diabolical magician insists that these claims of benefit are "woo-woo," the Canadian equivalent of the word bogus. Using his power of hypnosis, he incited dozens, perhaps hundreds, of militant skeptics to exceed the recommended dosage of several over the counter homeopathic remedies. A man in West Virginia, clearly wishing for the sweet death caress of death in a way only West Virginians can, took one million times the recommended dosage. With his mass suicide failing to claim a single nap, Randi's forces of negative vibes and vehement eye rolling have declared a mild victory on the forces of pseudoscience. They have also sunk their tendrils into the last bastion of truth, Wikipedia, where the word "remedy" has menacing quotation marks surrounding it like a pack of wolves. Things fair even worse for "potentization" which gets slammed by the scourge of sarcastic italics. You know you're in a bad place when even Wikipedia is making fun of you, or rather through a series of debates and multiple rounds of voting has decided that the appropriate tone for your article is derision .
One of the skeptics' arguments is that things which aren't medicine have no business being marketed to idiots as medicine. Or that by applying a tiny asterisk to say that they haven't been subject to evaluation by the FDA they can skirt all sorts of practical regulations and ingredients. Or that the entire concept of "molecular memory" is irreparably flawed and flies in the face of both chemistry and modern medicine. Even the most favorable scientific evaluations of homeopathy have yielded results on par with the placebo effect, that is to say no discernable effect, but so what? Sugar water is delicious, and isn't drinking water not unhealthy? Unless it's from one of those plastic bottles which are actually quite dangerous and not very environmentally conscious either. The Amazing Randi has come a long way since he publicly embarrassed a man who was already claiming to bend spoons with his mind, but trying to prevent idiots from wasting their money seems like a fool's errand. And last I checked, the placebo effect is still better than a no placebo effect. As his minions have proved, the pathies clearly aren't in any real danger of overdose in anything except magical thinking.
So far, it's hard to tell if Randi's campaign has been more or less effective than his attempt to convince AOL users that there aren't actually 1000 hours in a month. His million dollar grand prize and beard remain untouched and bushy, respectively. It's unlikely that a demographic which believes an elementary school teacher can successfully moonlight as an apothecary will really listen to a reasoned argument about the merits of statistically measured double-blind trials. These are the same idiots who think taking a megadose of vitamin C will prevent anything but scurvy. Contracting pirate-face is a persistent fear of mine, so I'm not going to correct them, but I'm also not going tell them about all the factual inaccuracies present in the film Jurassic Park. I love that movie and whoever has been driving that custom Jeep around Eugene is my personal hero, but tearing it apart takes away some of the industrial light and magic.
While Randi rages against superstitions and magical thinking, ostensibly for noble purposes, he also belittles the whimsical belief that we have some control over our lives. Taking a homeopathic remedy probably isn't going to prevent a cold, especially if you're trapped on an airplane, any more than me wearing my favorite shirt for a chemistry exam will imbue me with the mystical power of three wolves howling at the moon, but I'm going to do it anyway because it a little silly hope is better than nothing. Of course, I know I'm using the shirt as a placebo effect, rendering it moot, and it’s a little ill fitting. It also has a full moon and a new moon would probably be more potent. Regardless, the cold facts say that exposure is the only true path to immunity. With a significantly varied diet, a multivitamin isn't going to be beneficial either, but I'll still take those because they make them look and taste like gummy bears now. But unless I gorge myself on them, a probable scenario, I probably won't experience any negative consequences from taking them.
Certainly these people are missing out on legitimate medical knowledge and resources that might save lives, but should we correct them? No, because they don't want to be. And also because we need them to die. They are diluting the gene pool.
Monday, January 03, 2011
Monday, February 08, 2010
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Dick Van Dyke
Friday, January 01, 2010
Once again I failed to see the green flash.
Aside from the decade not actually being over yet, I felt I should share an epiphany which was revealed to me last night. We've been pronouncing the year wrong for the past ten years! All other four digit dates have been processed as two separate numbers (eighteen ninety-two) rather than a single numeral (one thousand eight hundred ninety-two). It's a small quibble but twenty o' one feels different than two thousand and one. At least we've mostly stopped calling it "the new millennium," which always makes me think of m&ms and vague messianic prophecies.
I got two out of ten predictions fulfilled on last year's dead pool: Les Paul and Patric Swayze. I will post the my new list after I've finished composing it.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I know this guy through a friend, by which I mean that I haven't yet actually met him but may vouch for his intentions in this ad. It is in no way authorized or endorsed by Pepsi. The guy just likes making amateur videos for the internet the same way I used to record myself hosting a radio show into a cassette player. The fact that it is still available on YouTube is likely due only to his low view count (50 at time of posting). If it were to become viral, which I sincerely hope it does, it would likely be pulled. Nevertheless, after each viewing, I feel an inkling of lust for a refreshing beverage.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Three weeks ago I went to a zombie/vampire film festival. Among the sponsors was PopCap Games and this advertisement began the short film block:
I typically ignore video game advertisements, but this one took me to awareness, then interest, and ultimately action once I tried the free demo a few days later. I enjoyed it so much I bought it once and then again as a gift. PopCap used an excellent mix of humor, gameplay exhibition and target-specific advertising here that really worked. It doesn't hurt either that they have a history of fun/addictive games to garnish their reputation. Plants vs Zombies is no different in this respect. I feel compelled to warn you not to try the free demo until after finals week. You can also make a "zombatar!" on their website.
Friday, April 17, 2009
This is a super bowl ad from 2007 which I took a particular liking to. Interesting about this video is that its upload date on YouTube actually predates the game, the expected premier of most of the year’s cutting-edge advertising. Due to cost and time restrictions, the ad is only thirty seconds, but an expanded music video was created that may be viewed here. I recommend viewing this version as it more fully lists the features and benefits of the product. The song is a logical extension of the typical jingle and, I would contend, even more memorable (and an incredibly persistent earworm). The Free Credit Report songs are an excellent recent example of this as songs can be used almost equally well on radio and television spots. Although it probably wasn't necessary to create the longer video, but I suspect Garmin (as many gadget companies do) has a devoted and technology-oriented fan base which would enjoy it and the accompanying interactive features that can be found on their company blog where this advertisement is featured with trivia contests, behind-the-scenes and in-character interviews, and even a MySpace page for Garmin Man. It tells a creative narrative drawing on the Japanese giant monster/hero concept allegorizing the frustration of using conventional maps with the utility of a GPS system. And it rocks pretty hard.
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