Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010: Happy New Year.

One can hope, I suppose.

My end of the year list: Bad Advertising!

Everyone seems to make a list at the end of the year. I would guess it is now part of those internet traditions that everyone is aware of. Books, movies, bad celebrity dresses, stupid quotes, etc. So, in keeping with this tradition, here is my list of deceitful, manipulative, stupid or annoying television commercials that I hope to never see again in 2010.

1. Capital One Credit Cards: This series of commercials have to be one of the weirdest ways to promote a credit card whose fine print is no doubt littered with landmines that will increase your loan rate at the drop of a hat. Visigoths ransacking villages, a dumbass in front of a computer whose dog is much more intelligent than he is and survivors of an airplane crash who are stuck on an island trying to get off are the spokesmen and women for Capital One. But the big selling point for this particular credit card is you can put your own picture on your card! Absolutely fu*king amazing! Let’s order a couple and one for little Sally as well, even though she is only six years old! What a STUPID selling point. Anyone who actually orders one of these credit cards on the basis of being able to put your picture on it deserves whatever happens to them.

2. Free Credit Reports Dot Com: This one has been in the news a lot, so this isn’t going to be much of a surprise. But advertising something “free” if you buy their service and is something that you can get free anyway from another source anyway is not really “free” in my mind. That’s like telling someone that they can get a free car jack, as long as they buy this car. No, that’s not even a good analogy, because to be a true analogy, you would need to be able to get a car jack for free somewhere. This is a commercial put together by lying SOB’s that do not care they are lying. “Free”, my ass.

3. The Big Head “Burger King”: These commercials, to their credit, are not deceitful. They are just weird and creepy. In these commercials, Burger King comes off as some sort of creepy stalker guy who never says anything. He’s just there. The ad agency behind these ads obviously figured that the Jack In The Box commercials are such a big hit that they would make their own! The only problem is, they failed miserably.

4. Ads for health insurance companies: Now, these aren’t all for the same company. This one is more of a category or genre. All these commercials are trying to accomplish is to make you feel all warm and cuddly about your insurance provider who is STILL going to find any reason they possibly can to drop your coverage if you get really sick and need it. One commercial that comes to mind actually doesn’t even really mention insurance. It’s just some kid talking about her mom who donates her piano, which she had as a kid and really loves, to a school or some other kind of organization that really needs it. Heartwarming. *Sigh* How nice… The problems are, of course, this has absolutely NOTHING to do with health insurance and it never addresses the fact that the CEO of this company will probably make about 85 mil this year while dropping coverage for anyone who might come down with a cold.

5. Verizon “Maps”: These commercials are annoying on their own. I especially disliked the one with Santa and his reindeer, which mercifully is not shown anymore since Christmas is over. But the point here that I haven’t seen anyone make is the colors of the maps. Verizon’s is red, and boy, it covers almost the entire U.S.A. A.T.&T’s map, on the other hand, is blue and barely covers anything. Yeah, this is deceitful on its own merits, since they are implying that ALL cell phone coverage provided by each company is what is shown, not just the 4G variety. But red vs. blue? That’s an interesting choice, especially when you look at the politics behind Verizon. I wonder what target audience these commercials are aimed at?

6. Jewelry commercials: This again is more of a category than a specific series of ads, because all the big jewelry chains do this. I wrote about this one before Christmas. But it’s not just Christmas. Valentine’s Day is also a biggie. I’ll just repeat what I said before.

The Christmas ads that really burn me are the ones for jewelry. I really dislike ostentatious displays anyway, and big, fat diamonds are about the best way to show that. Talk about a totally worthless expenditure of money to support an industry that has a corner on the market. That aside, I am really annoyed by the implication that buying someone a really bright, shiny bauble is the ultimate in romance. All these people in these commercials are young and beautiful, and they act like they came out of a romance novel. Tell me, what guy in his right mind would go out in the middle of the forest and wrap a living tree in lights, just so he can spring a diamond necklace on his girlfriend? And that assumes that he has a REALLY long extension cord or lugged a car battery out there as well. I think that these ads are really targeting the lazy bum who really isn’t normally too keen on keeping his wife’s or girlfriend’s feelings close to his heart and sees that buying jewelry would be a nice, easy (albeit expensive) way to immediately get back in his wife’s or girlfriend’s good graces. The women in these commercials always, without fail, are just awestruck and have this look on their faces that they would do absolutely anything for this guy who just bought her this piece of junk.


7. Geico Insurance: I admit I kind of liked the caveman commercials and the ones with the gecko are tolerable. But the ones with the stack of money with googlie eyes are weird and don’t even make a lot of sense.

8. Mixed message ads: This, again, is a category. It seems very trendy now to have commercials that are about two things at once. Sometimes, tie-ins are evident, such as toys of the latest Disney movie at McDonalds. But sometimes, there doesn’t even have to be an obvious tie-in. They are just trying to ride the latest wave of popularity. One playing now is about a bunch of guys eating a Big Mac that has something to do with James Cameron’s latest film, Avatar. I just do not get that one.

9. Miracle Whip “We will not tone it down!”: I won’t say much about this. Just watch it. Miracle Whip, the ultimate in rebellion!

You have any nominations? I may promote good suggestions from any comments received into this post itself. Boy, won't that be a thrill for YOU.

Friday, December 25, 2009

What did I learn from 2009?


I suppose I learned the lesson that Stupid is now not just acceptable. Being Stupid does not disqualify you from anything. In fact, in many cases, being Stupid is very helpful. It endears you to “common folk.” It shows that you are one of them. It reinforces their Stupid beliefs when they hear someone famous espousing the same Stupid things that they also believe in. Being Stupid can elevate an unemployed plumber to celebrity status. Being Stupid can make common folk believe you are doing something great when you quit your position as an elected official and somehow try to turn that into a selfless and noble act. Being Stupid can get you a program on a major cable “news” outlet where you can say whatever Stupid thing that pops into your mind and the audience eats it up. Being Stupid seems to actually be a requirement to become an elected official from the state of Oklahoma. Being Stupid results in joy when the U.S. loses a bid for hosting an Olympic Games and anger and resentment when the President of the United States wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

Being Stupid is no longer a cause for shame. Being Stupid is something to be cultivated and celebrated. When you say something Stupid, or even Really Stupid, you are no longer required to remove yourself from the public limelight for a suitable period of time. No, the correct response to being caught saying something Stupid or Really Stupid is to either pretend you never said it, even when your Really Stupid remark is one of the most highly viewed You Tube videos of the week, or become offended that the liberal elite media took your statement out of context or is so liberal and elite that they are obviously out of step with the rest of Stupid America.

Stupid is now so routine that most Stupid things rarely even get noted anymore, other than at some of the liberal blogs, who are obviously loser teenagers in pajamas who work from their parent’s basement. Being Stupid didn’t disqualify George W. Bush from being President of the United States, although most people in the country probably didn’t realize how incredibly Fu*king Stupid he actually is. However, we may be reaching the point that being Stupid may be the thing that gets someone like Sarah Palin elected President.

STuPid. Get yours today!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sarah Palin makes even less sense now she’s a climate change denier.

From the Washington Monthly, here is one of her tweets on Twitter about her new favorite subject, the Great Big Climate Change Hoax.

In a late night posting on her Twitter feed, Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin continued to blast climate change believers Friday, calling the talks in Copenhagen, Denmark a representation of man's "arrogance," for believing people have an impact on nature.

"Arrogant&Naive2say man overpwers nature," Palin tweeted.

"Earth saw clmate chnge4 ions;will cont 2 c chnges.R duty2responsbly devlop resorces4humankind/not pollute&destroy;but cant alter naturl chng," the former Republican vice presidential nominee wrote.



Uh huh. It’s “arrogant and na├»ve to say that man overpowers nature.” I guess she is unfamiliar with things like the Chernobyl accident which has rendered huge amounts of land in the former Soviet Union uninhabitable for centuries, mountaintop removing mining, clear cutting of forests, or having rivers and lakes so polluted that, not only can’t people actually go in them, but they actually used to catch fire.

Maybe she’s talking about a global scale, not just localized impacts on the environment caused by mankind’s activities, although I would argue that chopping down the Amazon rainforest is having a global effect. Maybe she thinks that the Earth is so huge that it will be able to absorb anything that mankind chooses to do.

This is the same kind of thinking that Americans held in our early history, which lead to the slaughter and near extinction of what used to be vast herds of buffalo. They are there for the taking. Mankind is the master of the planet, and what self-respecting master of anything willingly puts rules on himself? We can do anything we want! We can overfish the oceans so that the population of jellyfish has exploded due to lack of predators. Rules are for wimps and liberals. After all, photographic evidence of receding glaciers is easy to ignore when you have "Climategate" to talk about.

It’s all part of the conservative thought process. No restraints on anything that they want to do, and to fight tooth and nail against anything that their perceived enemies are for. I don’t know if this attitude comes from what they think are the teachings of Christianity or not. It seems likely to me. We are, after all, God’s chosen people. We’re special. I saw one quote sometime last year about God and climate change. Some person (I wish I had kept this quote) said something like, “God won’t let the Earth be destroyed.” I thought THAT statement was the epitome of arrogance. God will save us from anything that we choose to do. Except when God Himself chooses to destroy the Earth in Armageddon. Or maybe, this perspective on the universe is more rooted in the deep psychology of conservatives. I don’t know the answer.

There are two things that spring to mind when I see something like Princess Sarah’s statement above. One is that she is somehow one of the leading lights of the new conservatives. This person doesn’t even seem to have enough on the ball to qualify as a third grade teacher.

She is also so lacking in science that she doesn’t know the different between an eon and an ion. But I suppose that’s about par for the course for someone who has stated that living in a place where you can see Russia somehow gives her credibility in international diplomacy, and that Africa is a country.

God, this country is so screwed up.

Friday, December 18, 2009

So, this is what it is like to live in a parallel universe.


Huh. Interesting. I thought there might be more time warps or cities whose entire population consists of people who look like Winston Churchill. Of course, there is Lady Gaga. And the fact that the absolutely most important story of the year is the fact that Tiger Woods apparently screws around a lot. I guess this must really be a parallel universe.

Because, you see, in the universe that I thought I lived in, people act in a rational way and do things because they are in their self-interest. This universe I find myself in is in no way rational. Everywhere I look, people are acting like they have been infected with the Franz Kafka disease. Nothing makes sense anymore. The richest and most powerful country on earth has been brought to its knees by some unknown force that renders it incapable of doing anything remotely intelligent.

Affordable healthcare that can’t be cancelled just because you get sick and need it for once is the same thing as the Holocaust. The President of the United States is a fascist, a communist, a socialist, a non-America Muslim with a crazy Christian pastor who is actively trying to destroy the country. Protesters with signs within 100 yards of a Republican president is enough to get you arrested, but carrying a loaded gun to a town hall meeting where a Democratic president is speaking is just exercising one’s right to freedom of speech and to carry guns anywhere you might want to. It’s fine to invade another country that was absolutely no threat, where over 4000 Americans have died and trillions of dollars are spent, but spending money on propping up an economy on the brink of collapse and millions of people are out of work is a cause for angry mobs wearing Lipton tea bags on their hats to come out and carry racist signs. Television news picks up rumors and treats them like the Watergate break-in, but politicians spouting untruths on television that anyone with a computer and 15 minutes free time could easily demolish are invited back on next week’s program. Things such as filibusters that were the epitome of evil three years ago are now acceptable. Science is now on par with palm reading and phrenology. Hard scientific data showing our globe is heating up at an alarming rate is a plot to destroy capitalism. Everything that your enemies do is either sinful or a crime, but when you and everyone else that thinks just like you do does the same thing, that’s O.K.

Nothing makes sense. Our society has decided to play by the rules of Calvinball, and no one is willing to point it out.

So, this is a parallel universe… I don’t particularly like it much, but I suppose it is better nothing at all. I just wonder how I got here and whether it’s possible to find my way back to the universe that I thought I knew, where things made sense and people acting rationally. Probably not. Wormholes only work in one direction, as far as I know.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Here’s my annual “bah, humbug” post.


Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am not bashing the Christmas holiday itself. I am what you might call a “non-believer”, but I really have no problem with celebrating what is supposed to be a purely Christian holiday. I have said before that if I were a Christian, I would probably be a tad annoyed at what the holiday has become as well. And that is what I am really annoyed about.

Pressure. That is really what this holiday has become. There’s pressure to find the perfect gift, to bake the perfect pie and cookies, to have the perfect Christmas with your perfect family. Why? Because corporate America wants to sell you stuff. And not just ANY stuff. A lot of stuff and most of it expensive.

I remember when Christmas commercials were a lot about kids toys and maybe a commercial for an electric razor thrown in for good measure. (“Even our name says Merry Christmas!”)

What are the predominant Christmas commericials these days? From what I see, they are for luxury automobiles and a lot of very fancy and expensive looking jewelry. How many people really go out and buy luxury cars for themselves and their spouses at Christmas? And this is at a time when it is estimated that one in 8 kids in America is getting support from food stamps. Where unemployment is running in the double digits. Luxury cars for Christmas? I guess the well off will buy their gifts no matter what else is going on around them, and that this advertising is aimed at them. People without jobs or getting assistance from food stamps aren’t going to have much purchasing power, so the advertisers seem to have acknowledged that fact and just about abandoned the lower and part of the middle class altogether.

The Christmas ads that really burn me are the ones for jewelry. I really dislike ostentatious displays anyway, and big, fat diamonds are about the best way to show that. Talk about a totally worthless expenditure of money to support an industry that has a corner on the market. That aside, I am really annoyed by the implication that buying someone a really bright, shiney bauble is the ultimate in romance. All these people in these commercials are young and beautiful, and they act like they came out of a romance novel. Tell me, what guy in his right mind would go out in the middle of the forest and wrap a living tree in lights, just so he can spring a diamond necklace on his girlfriend? And that assumes that he has a REALLY long extension cord or lugged a car battery out there as well. I think that these ads are really targeting the lazy bum who really isn’t normally too keen on keeping his wife’s or girlfriend’s feelings close to his heart and sees that buying jewelry would be a nice, easy (albeit expensive) way to immeidiately get back in his wife’s or girlfriend’s good graces. The women in these commercials always, without fail, are just awestruck and have this look on their faces that they would do absolutely anything for this guy who just bought her this piece of junk.

My favorite holiday, I think, is Thanksgiving. It hasn’t been completely taken over by crass commercialism. This is mostly because there aren’t any gifts involved. If there were, you can bet that Corporate America would immedialely jump in there. Christmas should be like Thanksgiving, with maybe a few gifts but witbout any pressure. Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Emphasize the “merry” and “little.” Celebrate family. And your religion, if that is part of it for you. But do not pressure yourself into living up to some ridiculous ideal concocted by Madison Avenue to sell you an every increasing array of very expensive crap that you probably can’t afford.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Robbie the Robot falls on hard times.



It's sad to see when big movie stars hit rock bottom.

Uh, you missed a spot over there by the front tire.

Out of control Russian rocket, or something else?



From MSNBC:

A spectacular spiral light show in the sky above Norway on Wednesday was caused by a Russian missile that failed just after launch, according to Russia's defense ministry.

When the rocket motor spun out of control, it likely created the heavenly spiral of white light near where the missile was launched from a submarine in the White Sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that a Bulava ballistic missile test had failed.



However, it is my firm belief that this is all a gigantic hoax involving the governments of a multitude of countries.

In reality, I have proof that the sighting over Norway was actually of Gamera, the giant, rocket powered flying turtle.










You decide.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Amazing photos of physics in action.





Kopp-Etchells Effect

When helicopters pass through dust storms, contact of the particles with the rotating blades produces either sparks or static electricity.

The phenomenon has been observed during combat operations in Afghanistan; Michael Yon has documented the effect, and has named it after two U K Soldiers who died there. "Kopp-Etchells"

When operating in sandy environments, sand hitting the moving rotor blades erodes their surface. This can damage the rotors; the erosion also presents serious and costly maintenance problems.

The abrasion strips on helicopter rotor blades are made of titanium, which is very hard, but less hard than sand; so when a helicopter is flown near to the ground in desert environments abrasion occurs, and at night there is a visible corona or halo around the rotor blades, caused by the sand hitting the titanium and causing it to spark and oxidize .

Note that these photos are under copyright by Michael Yon.