Big news in the European science community. Scientists this week determined that the core of the earth is 9.2% hotter than measurements taken before, with a margin for error of 8.6%.* The results were reported by a consortium of organizations … Continue reading →
Tuesday night the hospital called to make all the arrangements. The call began oddly, with the nurse/receptionist’s first question, “Can you tell me what surgery you’re having?” Note that she called me, and apparently this question (which I would hear repeatedly before the surgery was over) was a test for me, to see if I was the right person. Once I guessed right, she proceeded to ask me the exact same 5 pages of questions I had answered when I went to the doctor’s office in the first place.
Now, honor compels me to point out my own shortcomings. I don’t always pay attention. I especially don’t pay attention when I think I know what’s what. I once started an online relationship with a lovely young lady from Greenville. It wasn’t until we got to the point of arranging to meet that I realized that she lived not in Greenville, NC (about 90 minutes away) but in Greenville, SC (about 5 hours away). That didn’t work out as well.
Advertising is hard. You have to find that balance between blatantly lying and saying things which don’t sell products.
I thought about this today as I saw a commercial for Kay Jewelers. Their slogan as far back as I can remember is “Every kiss begins with Kay”. A cute little play on words in English. But how does Kay advertise on, say, Univision? They can’t do a straight translation, “Cada beso comienza con Kay”. Because it doesn’t. In Spanish, every kiss begins with “b”. And if you advertise that way, you take the company name out of the slogan, and end up with a spelling lesson, which has been shown to be 63% less effective at selling jewelry.
The current Subaru ad campaign insists that “love” is what makes a Subaru a Subaru. This just makes me think of an auto factory in Japan staffed entirely by sweaty, underpaid Care Bears.
The Syfy Channel’s slogan is “Imagine Greater”. I’m sure someone in Marketing got an award for thinking that one up. It sounds all imaginative and great and stuff. Unfortunately, when you tack it onto the ending credits, you get this: “Next on Syfy — Ghost Hunters. Imagine greater.” By the time I’m done imagining things greater than another fake ghost show, it’s already time for Ghost Hunters International.
As a sci-fi fan, I understand the value of manned space exploration. As a taxpayer, I understand why we can’t afford it right now. But to claim that we can’t discover life on Mars unless we go there ourselves is … Continue reading →
This morning, apropos of nothing, my computer at work issued the following thinly veiled threat:
Cannot open file linux/tmp/…/include/curses.h
My first thought was “Why did you try?” I’m not sure what’s in that file (because it can’t be opened). I assumed it was a list of expletives that the operating system uses to understand what I’m yelling at it. But I’m beginning to think it’s something more insidious (“Your computer sees a plague of festering boils as a series of 1’s and 0’s…”)
I’m starting to look askance at that “Pandora” app on my phone…
If “The Piña Colada Song” was the anthem for dysfunctional relationships of the 80’s, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something might be the anthem for dysfunctional relationships in the 90’s. A few things I noticed on the way to work:
1) If the most logical reason she gives for the breakup is that “our lives have come between us”, she’s not even trying any more. Forget “Oh, it’s you.” She’s already found someone else to enjoy liquids with.
2) It is possible to find relationships based on an Audrey Hepburn movie from 44 years earlier. To wit: Continue reading →
In discussing the bombings at the Boston Marathon, a friend of long standing made an interesting point. I’m paraphrasing, but she said, “I often say ‘I hate people’. I don’t always mean it. Sometimes I say it to be funny, or I say it about someone I disagree with. But when I see people do good things, it gives me hope.”
I’ve been thinking about this all day. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve largely disengaged from Facebook. The guiding principle of Facebook seems to be, “Say mean things to be funny, or to gain the approval of like-minded friends.” Maybe I read more into things than is really there. I’ve made the comment before that communicating via social media or IMs is a lot like having Asperger’s. There’s a ton of social clues that can’t be conveyed with the written word. Emoticons are a poor substitute for facial expressions, tone of voice, body posture, etc. I once had an online argument with a girl I was seeing because she typed the wrong emoticon, accidentally conveying anger instead of amusement. Not my finest hour.
Nowadays, I use a different analogy for Facebook. I liken it to an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where Buffy is accidentally given telepathy, and can hear the dark thoughts of her friends, the ones no one ever speaks out loud. The difference is that people now trumpet their dark thoughts to the world, expecting (and often receiving) approval for things they should be ashamed of. Continue reading →
In 1981, noted singer/musician/social commentator Donnie Iris, after opining on the unreliability of large segments of society (teachers, preachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, paycheck providers, et. al.), followed this up with the following syllogism:
Love can rock you.
Never stop you.
Ah. Ah. Ah. Ah.
Love is like… a rock.
Let’s set aside the tenuous relationship between this argument and reliability for the moment, and deconstruct the logic here, shall we?
We start off with the statement, “Love can rock you.” I can go along with that in a metaphorical sense. Strong emotion is entirely capable of upsetting your core values. But can a rock? Continue reading →
We make it too easy to outsource compassion. This thought woke me up this morning, maybe because I still have to do my taxes today. Every year, I pay the government thousands of dollars to provide me with “government”. Some of it is good, like roads and border control. Some of it is stupid, like cowboy poetry festivals and paying artists to put crucifixes in urine.
And some of it I have mixed emotions about. Some of the money goes to provide people with food, and shelter, and medical care. These are all good and necessary activities, and I’m not going to rant today about how the way governments do this creates a culture of dependency. (Disclaimer: it does.)
But they take away something from people that’s just as important — the opportunity to give.
Not the obligation to give. We have plenty of that. We give because we’re told to. We give because we received when it was our turn. We give “back” because we feel guilty about having too much. But I wonder if we’re losing the ability to give simply because the opportunity arises. Continue reading →