Lightning safety 101

This is all in the National Weather Service’s lightning safety handbook.  Verbatim.

Metal in no way conducts electricity.  So when a lightning strikes a building quickly run towards the lightning-struck building and touch as much of the metal on it as you can.   Rub the metal all over you until you are nice and electricity free.

On an unrelated note, a recent poll shows that 100% of employees who have finally finished their shift and are about to drive home in the dark will, in the case of a sudden natural disaster concerning their place of employment, run back to said place of employment and behold it with fresh eyes, as if said place of employment had just invented the wheel for the first time.

Opinion: if spinning an image of a skeleton “enriches your knowledge like you’ve never imagined,” you are an idiot with an exceedingly poor imagination.

Published in: on 30 August 2011 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How to do everything

…and complete nothing.

I do like the song, though.




[If you are reading this on a Playbook, you should have started doing something else by now.  You have like 30 apps running simultaneously–if you don’t stop reading this you won’t have time to read the tweets or tumbles or any of the other things that you won’t actually finish (or start).]

Uh, hey, Joe… you’re a sociopath.

On the one hand, I’m disappointed that, as a woman, Cher thought it was ok to cover “Hey Joe.”  On the other hand, since her version is as terrible as the lyrical content, I suppose I’ll let it slide.

Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?
Hey Joe, I said where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?
Alright. I’m goin down to shoot my old lady,
you know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.
Yeah,! I’m goin’ down to shoot my old lady,
you know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.
Huh! And that ain’t too cool.

You know what else isn’t cool, Joe?  Premeditated murder.  Attempting to possess another person (“my old lady”).  Fleeing the country to avoid prosecution.

Up front: I think, musically, “Hey Joe” is a brilliant song.  For the sake of this article, I am focusing on the version by The Leaves (as it seems to be the first) and that by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (as it is the most famous).  On both, the guitars wail and the intensity is palpable.  The chord progression is simple and awesome.

However, the lyrical content is appalling.  Watch The Leaves’ video–women clap merrily along as the eponymous Joe takes a gun to his lover and shoots her.  In the Hendrix version (which is the version I’m, in theory, quoting lyrics from), the song contains the line  “Shoot her one more time again, baby!”  So not only is Joe killing his lover, he’s mutilating her corpse.

Of course, it’s ok, because, here in the USA we deal swiftly with music with violent under-/over-tones.  That’s why Tipper Gore was so active about making sure nobody listened to violent or sexual lyricsAccording to her, “this change in popular culture co-existed with the breakdown of the nuclear family. When the nuclear family started to decay, there was also a breakdown in the immunization system to evil. Since children today lack the stable family structure of past generations, they are more vulnerable to role models and authority figures outside established patriarchal institutions. I see the family as a haven of moral stability, while popular music – e.g. rock music – is a poisonous source infecting the youth of the world with messages they cannot handle.”

Oh wait, I forgot.  Gore is mostly focusing on rap and metal in the ’80s, whereas “Hey Joe” came out in the mid-’60s, so I guess the nuclear family hadn’t decayed yet, since she didn’t notice the change for 20 years.  But nevermind that, we dealt with it appropriately by covering it at least 12 times in 1966 alone.  In fact, Wikipedia suggests (quite probably) that it has been covered hundreds of times.  Which is somewhat of an understatement, since it was essentially covered by 6,346 people all at once one day in Poland, earning participants a Guiness World Record.  Amazingly, not a single source I looked at, including Wikipedia, cited any controversy over the lyrics.  Apparently we have no qualms with men who kill women just for sleeping with someone else.

I do not believe in censorship.  I do believe, however, that we should stop willingly and unquestioningly promoting violence, particularly against women.  Not everyone who hears “Hey Joe” will become a murderer.  By the more pervasive the idea is in our cultural consciousness, the more likely it is to manifest itself in reality.

Uh, hey Joe, I heard you shot your woman down,
you shot her down.
Uh, hey Joe, I heard you shot you old lady down,
you shot her down to the ground. Yeah!

Yes, I did, I shot her,
you know I caught her messin’ ’round,
messin’ ’round town.
Uh, yes I did, I shot her
you know I caught my old lady messin’ ’round town.
And I gave her the gun and I shot her!

Published in: on 16 July 2011 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Honesty in advertising

I give credit where credit is due.

For awhile now, Domino’s Pizza has been doing everything in their power to let consumers know the truth about their pizza: it tastes awful.  I was, sincerely, unaware of this (with a cheaper, closer alternative, I don’t ever order Domino’s).  That is, until they ran an ad campaign composed of various segments of the above video.  At that point I learned that Domino’s pizza taste like cardboard, has ketchup instead of marinara sauce, and is not made with real cheese.  (To be honest, the amazed and shocked look on the chef’s face when he sees/smells real cheese is rather disturbing, given his job.)  Also, once the pizza is made, Domino’s doesn’t know how to box and/or deliver the pizza.

Domino’s, in an effort to fix their image and replace it with something hip and trendy, has turned to crowd sourcing.  Send them pictures of your pizza, tell them how awful it is, and, now, come up with “proverbs” to be placed on pizza boxes.

I am going to ignore the proverbs, by and large, since they were made, allegedly, by regular folk and not by a corporation that pays people to handle its public image.  Two exceptions.  One: “Satisfying Fulfillment!”  This did not make the boxes, but is listed as one of the “Top Proverbs.”  This stands out for an amazing number of reasons, given that it is only two words.  First, the redundancy.  Satisfaction and fulfillment are synonymous in some usages, and, ignoring that, how can “fulfillment” not be satisfying?  Well, I’ll actually answer that one, since I asked.  The one instance would be the definition of “fulfillment” as “the process… of handling or executing customer orders,” in which case we have already seen that Domino’s fulfillment is not satisfying.  Second, the interpretation of “proverb.”  Relevant definition: “a short popular saying… that expresses effectively some commonplace truth or useful thought.”  Being the magnanimous gentleman that I am, I will give the author credit for “short.”  I will not, however, give the author credit for what (in my humble opinion) is the more necessary component–“thought” (“useful” being too far beyond the scope of this verbal regurgitation).  And this segues to the third bit of note: the author.  The author is allegedly a “Dr” and one whom I will not be requesting any doctoral services from.

The second proverb of note was a “winner” and is featured on pizza boxes that are actually delivered (someone brought over Domino’s and our box had this “proverb” on it, so I know it’s real):


Most, with the notable exception of the Dr, of the entries simply took well known quotes and substituted in pizza-related verbage.   That is not why this stands out.  It stands out because of the original quote: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” (Alexander Pope).  You’ve probably noticed that Domino’s has equated its product, pizza, with “fools,” and a competing (I guess?) food product, burgers, with “angels.”  I say you’ve probably noticed this fowl up, but if you happened to be associated with Domino’s, clearly you haven’t, as it’s all over your pizza boxes.


Published in: on 30 June 2011 at 6:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Improve your diction and syntax in three easy steps!

  1. Cocaine
  2. Tylenol PM
  3. Alcohol

Helpful information:


There are so many things wonderfully wrong with this website.  I’m going to ignore the fact that participating in D.A.R.E. programs, at least among suburban children, actually leads to increased drug use.

I am not, however, going to ignore the suggestion that parents “check out their [kid’s] MySpace page or their instant-messenger conversations.”  Nothing like a little bit of estalking to maintain trust and respect in the household.  Though, to be fair, this is most likely an empty threat, as most parents do not have the wherewithal to actually check IM conversations (at least not parents in 2007 when the bit was written).

You might be surprised, but I do actually think there is a problem with kids/young adults doing drugs.  According to my doctor, the brain develops rapidly during youth, so altering it can have large, unpredictable effects.  Based on that, limiting drug use as an adolescent seems sensible.  Even with less harmful drugs, such as marijuana, I always recommend moderation if you plan to partake.  So I get the general idea of drug use prevention, even if, in practice, it is nonsensical and worthless.  What I don’t get is this sentence: “A new study from the Caron Treatment Centers analyzed more than 10 million online messages written by teens and found a number of conversations about drinking, taking drugs, and having sex.”  This annoys me, since alcohol is a drug, so unless they are talking about other beverages, there is redundancy.  It baffles me that “sex” is being mentioned at all.  Since when are meth use and sex on the same level?  “Not only was little Johnnie smoking crack, but there was a condom in the trashcan!”  There is no need for sex to be a “problem.”  Everyone gets tested for STD, at least one form of birth control is used, and ta-da!  No problems.

“Often, newer slang for drugs was used to avoid raising red flags among suspicious parents.”  Or, how about, newer slang was used because language isn’t static but rather reflects a moment in time?  I’m pretty sure that it would be obvious in context, regardless of slang used.  Either that, or it would be conspicuous gibberish and worry parents regardless.

By far, my favorite part of the article is this:

But bad information on drugs abounds online. Lucky O’Donnell, a 19-year-old from New York, landed in a hospital emergency room after getting some poor advice about mixing cocaine with Tylenol PM and alcohol. “One site said it was fine, one site said it wasn’t,” O’Donnell said. “I wasn’t able to differentiate the information. You want to believe everything you read.”

You know it’s going to be a great story as soon as you get to the aptronym “Lucky.”  Then you read what the “kid” took: cocaine, Tylenol PM, and alcohol.  Ok, cocaine and alcohol is unsurprising, that seems a plausible party/club scenario, even if you are mixing uppers and downers.  But Tylenol PM?  Why would you take a stimulant (cocaine) and then try to go to sleep?  “You know, I was going to ride out the high of increased energy and euphoria, but screw it, I’ll just take some sleep inducing meds.”  If nothing else, it’s a waste of whatever you paid for the cocaine.  How did Lucky even make it to the emergency room?  The alcohol and Tylenol PM would have had him asleep in no time, who noticed the liver failure?  What kind of 19-year-0ld is using “differentiate” as casually as he/she is mixing drugs?  And I don’t know about you, but if one site says it’s a bad idea to mix the drugs, and the other says go for it, I’m going to err on the safe side and go with the one telling me not to mix.  It’s really not that difficult to just do one drug at at time.

Published in: on 26 June 2011 at 7:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Unintended conversation

You get what you don’t ask for when you use ambiguous/vague phrasings to hide your agenda.

Picture break:

To be fair, this isn’t a specific dig at the Gabriel Project, or at least not to my knowledge.  They just happen to fall under the heading of “organizations using a similar phrase to the one I saw on a sign on the side of the road that also have an image that showed up readily on google.”  That sentence probably needed a large volume of hyphens, but you know.

To the point: some women (and their lovers/spouses/etc…) are pregnant and need help.  They need help with things like preparing for an abortion, finding a skilled doctor to perform an abortion, paying for an abortion, and getting a ride home from an abortion.  They might also need help in the form of information concerning contraception in order to avoid future pregnancies.  I suspect The Gabriel Project would not be particularly willing to provide this sort of help, to put it mildly.  Indeed, their thoughts on the project are succinctly summed up in the sentence “Church communities pray…for an end to the tragedy of abortion.”

My problem isn’t the services provided, or even those not provided.  In fact, many of the services provided by The Gabriel Project are (on paper, anyway) fantastic:

* Friendship, emotional support and prayer,
* Babysitting and rides to appointments,
* Pastoral care and counseling,
* Resources for medical and prenatal care,
* Financial assistance resources and
* Resources for housing, education, adoption and employment.”

In fact, the socialist in me wishes that the government would routinely provide more employment, housing, education, and medical care, as this program does.  What gets me isn’t even the debatable effectiveness of prayer.  I just can’t stand forcing your opinion on someone and calling it “help.”  The suggestion is, implicitly, “you don’t know what’s best for you, so I’m going to tell you.”  I’m not against providing information and education.  I am against doing so in a way that is biased and targets people who are highly vulnerable.  Forgive my skepticism, but I can’t imagine that The Gabriel Project is willing to take on the at least 18 years of child support that would be necessary to not only avoid an abortion but also to make sure mother and child are fed, clothed, housed, and able to work or go to school.

“Yes I’m pregnant and would like help obtaining an abortion.”

“That’s really, we don’t do that, there are better options…”

“I’m 15, homeless, and have no support networks.  If I don’t graduate high school the chances of me being employed and out of jail dwindle significantly.  Not to mention that my child on average, could go 5-26 months between me giving up parental rights and he or she being adopted.  I also have a family history of various congenital diseases.  I really think this is the best option, even if it is not a good option.  So will you help out?”

“…Have you tried prayer?”

Published in: on 18 June 2011 at 5:15 pm  Comments (2)  
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No “good deed” goes unmocked

My neuroticism may have leaked through on this one.

Commercial fixing:

At a basic level, I object to the portrayal of good deeds as surprising and out of the ordinary.  Something that needs to be “caught” as if it were a virus or bacterium.  The more we reinforce “good” as being “strange” the more “bad” becomes “normal.”  This results in entrenched societal habits that are contradictory to the actual desires and ideals of society.  I have the same objection every time I hear “boys will be boys.”  Of course they will, if you keep expecting that of them.  If you expected them to be helpful academics, they’d be that too.  Tabula rasa and all that jazz.

However, the crux of my criticism of this particular advertisement is the last few seconds.  The idea is that the woman is doing a good turn holding the door open to the blind woman.  In theory, this would be fine, but I see three major areas of objection.  Least to greatest:

1.  She’s not using the revolving door.  Not only is this the more exciting option, and everyone needs a spot of fun in their life, but it is the more environmentally friendly option (please note the source is biased, but to my knowledge the concept is accurate and it was the easiest link for me to provide).

2.  She was attempting to use the entrance as an exit.  Leaving through the wrong door and plowing through people is flat out discourteous.  It suggests that you cannot be bothered to pay attention to the flow of traffic and would rather inconvenience everyone coming in through the proper door than walk the ten extra feet to the actual exit (or the five feet to the revolving door).  That a blind woman just happened to be coming through for you to help out doesn’t justify the egocentricity of the original act.

3.  Which brings me to the most objectionable aspect: the impression is given that the blind woman is completely oblivious to her surroundings.  She manages to dress herself smartly, get to the station, and then she won’t be able to get through the door without help?  Even if that were the case, she doesn’t even notice the help somehow, she passes through the door way and immediately veers off in the direction she needs to go.  So, she doesn’t notice the door is open, like she’s never been there and doesn’t know there’s a door there, though she knows where to go beyond the door, or, she’s so callous as to not even appreciate the help with any acknowledgement beyond turning her back on the woman holding the door.  Actually, this is the same problem in the opening scene as well.  Why are there statistically excessive blind people in this commercial, and why are they being treated like they can’t function without the aid of others?  Or, why are blind people portrayed as self-centered jerks who can’t give the time of day to the kindness of strangers?

Published in: on 15 June 2011 at 10:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I vow to use situationally inappropriate music

Let’s equate showcases of strength with music about contemplating suicide.

Commercial broken:

I’m not sure GMC knew what they were trying to say with this.  It’s almost like they wanted to make a wedding reference, but weddings aren’t macho enough for pickup trucks, so they went with sentimental ’90s alt-rock.  Presumably this conflicted with the rough-and-ready voice and images they usually use, so they toned those down a bit too.  The result is something that has neither the toughness of a GMC truck commercial nor the beauty and grace of the Collective Soul song that accompanies it.

They might as well have thrown in some of the lyrics too:

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below.
And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down.
‘Cause it’s the world I know.
It’s the world I know.

I certainly would have to be on the brink to buy a pickup truck, let alone a GMC.  It’s not even a Chevy.  Watching this commercial, I feel compelled to echo the question in the song and direct it at GMC: “Has all kindness gone?”

Published in: on 14 June 2011 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Definitions that Samuel Johnson overlooked

I don’t encourage the use of illicit drugs (nor really licit drugs either).  This is relevant.

Commercial break:

The first thing that strikes me about this advertisement is that it is flagrantly a scam.  “Healthcare Information” and “Advertising” are, in this context, antithetical.  Advertising has one function: sales.  Which is fine.  I have no problem with people trying to sell their products in order to create financial security for themselves.  However, attempting to obfuscate the nature of the commercial by using “Healthcare Information” as a descriptor is ethically reproachable.  The spot is not intended to inform the viewer about anything other than a fictitious “medical condition” and the pharmaceutical that accompanies the condition, which is, shockingly, for sale at local stores.  Not to mention that the issue is easily solved with water, as the guy at one point says, but that doesn’t cure it.  You just end up sipping water again later.  You know, when you get thirsty or whatever.

The second thing that strikes me about this advertisement is the advertisement itself.  Dry mouth?  Really?  We already have eye drops to remove redness, now we have a spray to get rid of dry mouth?  What other side effects of pot smoking are we currently tackling in R&D labs?  Also, why is this not geared towards its intended audience?  I believe the correct term is “cotton mouth.”  Not to mention the old guy and his interesting accent (in the video’s comments, the spelling consensus is “dry moath“).  Though, to be fair, I suppose you’d have to be high to buy into this anyway.  I mean, the guy’s not even wearing a lab coat.  What does he know about medicine, or anything else?

Please make sense and spray

Or: Things that require you to go out and buy a table that will have no other function.

Commercial break:

I love this commercial for two reasons.  One, I think it’s really awesome that they’re now making family-size efficiency apartments.  It’s everything that you might get from the first floor of a house, but in one room!  And they say nothing good comes from tough economic times.

Two, the air freshener gets its own table.  No, not just a table, THE table.  The centerpiece of the house, the first thing you see as you enter the door.  All other furniture has been banished to the outskirts, unworthy to be within 15 feet of the singularly-purposed pedestal, crafted from the finest bits of rain forest so that the air freshener may deodorize unimpeded.

Additionally, from a practical stand point, this setup is not only rather extravagant and space inefficient, but impractical.  The product is designed so that when you walk in front of it, it registers your presence–presumably with a Terminatoresque scan/analysis–and maces you with the aroma of flowers.  However, if it is placed in the middle of the room, you are able to walk behind it, where there is no sensor.  To get around this problem, simply follow the lead of the woman in the commercial and spend most of your day walking in circles around the table.

Published in: on 5 June 2011 at 4:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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