July 2005 Archives

Plug: Salivating Dog

In case you haven't noticed, there's a new link in the blogroll section of the sidebar. I recently found out that my friend and erstwhile coworker J LeBlanc has a blog of his own, and I've been missing out on his clever and offensive witticism for these past few months.

I turn your attention to today's entry on Salivating Dog because of the answering machine message he recorded and posted online. He's going on a little nature trip with his kid, and the message foretells the experience he's going to have with the natives. When I listened to the recording, I laughed for 2 minutes and 38 seconds straight. And then I chuckled a little more after that.

Go look, go listen, and don't come back until you've laughed so hard milk is coming out of your nose. Unless you're not drinking milk right now. In which case, if white stuff comes out of your nose, go see a doctor immediately.

EchinaceaGoogle News has been culling stories all afternoon about the study published today on the effectiveness of Echinacea. The study, as reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, all but confirms what most rationally thinking people have known since Echinacea was first introduced in suppository form and given to Native Americans as a practical joke: The only effect of the drug is that it makes your wallet lighter.

Now would be a good time to confess I have, in my medicine cabinet, a bottle of Echinacea, right next to the bottle of St. John's Wort for those times when I'm feeling suggestively depressed, and these strange little pills I bought from a street vendor in New York who promised me they would increase my liver function by like 2400%.

Before you label me a hypocrite, which you appropriately should do, I'd like to say that I'm a firm believer in psychosomatic medicine. The cited study just compared the healing response of people who received Echinacea to those who received a placebo. But what about comparing these two groups to a group that received nothing at all ? Do you think that both groups who received something would have fared better than a group that received nothing at all ?

I suspect this would have been the case.

Believing in the healing powers of something goes a long way in helping the body do what it's perfectly capable of doing on it's own. If you think you're taking the necessary steps toward healing, and maintain a positive attitude about it, you're much more likely to become well than if you don't.

"But Scott," you say, "you already doubt the effectiveness of Echinacea, so how can taking it be beneficial to you ?"

Glad you asked. Because medical science is just a bunch of speculation, informed guesses, and late night pillow fights with supermodels. These are the people who told us butter was good for us, then bad, and then good again. So you never know. I'm holding out for the possibility that Echinacea actually has the power to heal my sniffles, and possibly also somehow cure cancer and prevent Anna Nicole Smith from ever getting near a camera again.

Artist Wastes Water To Save It

I would expect this kind of thing out of an American hippie, but this guy caught me off guard.

Mark McGowan went into the tiny backroom kitchen of a south London gallery three weeks ago and flipped on the cold water. He didn't turn it off, and doesn't plan to for an entire year. The Running Tap, as it's called, is McGowan's effort to protest against wasted water in London by blatantly letting it go down the drain.
Asked how he justified sending that much down the drain, he said: "Everyone else is wasting water - mine's art."

Next time I make a poor decision, I have the perfect excuse prepared. "It's in the name of art!" And you jerks just don't understand it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go murder a clown to protest senseless killing.

Atkins Revisited

Bacon ChurnerA late entry into the TGI Friday's Menu Prank has renewed my interest in (mostly) harmless corporate mischief.

For those of you not familiar with Rob Cockerham's work, his website at cockeyed.com (safe for work) captures the photostory of a brilliantly entertaining series of science "experiments," pranks, and creations. Although best known for his "How Much Is Inside" adventures, some of the most clever things Rob is responsible for are his public shenanigans.

My favorite of which was the aforementioned switch-a-roo of a restaurant menu page. Check it out. The Atkins menu was replaced with an Atkinz menu, looking like a unlicensed knock-off of the Atkins plan.

The nature of these pranks necessarily prevents us from knowing the outcome, but I can easily imagine the reaction of someone reading about a menu item described as "So delicious, you'll want to throw up and eat it again."

If you haven't seen the linked website before today, I apologize for inadvertently causing you to waste the next couple hours browsing through the content.

Happy Photo Day


It's been brought to my attention that you would rather look at girls dancing than read my rants about the current state of the world. Although I was just preparing another update on how awesome George Bush is, I'll instead give you pictures from last weekend's house party.

Four months since the last Photo Gallery update, and this is what we get.

Stop wasting time. Go look now, you ingrates !

Religion Strikes Again


I'm not an insensitive person. Really, I'm not. But when something happens so far away, it's hard to grasp the reality of the situation.

Another terrorist attack in London, two weeks after the first one that resulted in the loss of 56 lives. Preliminary reports are indicating this incident isn't nearly so bad, with only one injury on record. Also no word on the responsible party, but I think we can see where all the fingers will be pointing.

Now I'm watching my stock portfolios go all red and I'm cursing the terrorists for disturbing my finances. Selfish, fine. But it's the most direct way I've been affected.

What surprises me is the difference in culture on the other side of the pond. When nasty things like this happen in the US, there's widespread panic and disruption of schedules. But in London, the news stories show people scrambling to get to work by other means of transportation! I'm not sure, but I think the boss would understand if you were late because some whackjob detonated a bomb on your train.

Personally, I'm going to side with the Western culture on this one. If I narrowly avoid being turned into Kibbles 'n Bits, I think I'll just take the day off work and count my blessings. Maybe go enjoy the serenity of a cemetery, the only place where everyone is truly at peace, and when differences in religion finally don't matter.

The War on Terror, if indeed this event is again related, has been going on a lot longer than I would have expected. I used to think that war was an obsolete concept. In a day where we have weapons capable of removing a moon-sized chunk of the planet in mere seconds, it seems silly that we would send soldiers on foot into far away lands. Fortunately, public scrutiny demands this discretionary warfare. Our enemy is interspersed with the innocent whom understand the true meaning of their religion. Hint: if you believe your God condones the wanton killing of disbelievers, you may be interpreting the scriptures wrong.

Then again, innocent is a very subjective and misleading word. This is true wherever you look. We like to think in terms of black and white. We good. They bad. But only in children's stories is the protagonist without fault.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

We've been poking around with our big stick a lot lately.

Grand Theft Morals


You'd think that it's been a slow news week or something. What started out as an insignificant rumor about the newest Grand Theft Auto video game has turned into an insignificant reality. By going through a detailed hacking effort, an owner of this game can enable a feature which allows your poorly drawn male cartoon character to play Hide The Sausage with a poorly drawn female character.

This is only being mentioned because some asshats think that this aftermarket modification to the game warrants an ESRB rating of Adults Only instead of the Mature rating it is currently being sold with. Primarily behind this effort is California assemblyman Leland Yee who, having already solved all of California's other problems, is now ranting for the change.

I'm not going to post the so-called "Hot Coffee" video on here--not because I'm morally opposed to linking to a pornographic cartoon... wait, no. That's exactly it. I'm morally opposed to linking to something as stupid as a pornographic cartoon.

Just in case you're not familiar with the gameplay, GTA allows you to participate in a host of criminal activity while maintaining just enough of a plot for it to still be called a legitimate game. Steal cars and run over innocent bystanders; shoot police officers; pick up prostitutes, kill them, and steal their money; and commit all kinds of other unsavory and illegal acts. None of this stuff should be restricted to adults only, but Good Lord, we can't allow minors to be exposed to adult-on-adult consensual sex.

I read that there was a one page scene in MAD Magazine back in the 90's with a comic that went something like this:

Movie production studio. Guy rushes into the boss's office:

Guy: "Hey, RJ, I got the ratings people to give the movie an R instead of an X!"

RJ: "Great! How'd you do it?"

Guy: "Remember that scene where Brad takes Michelle home and makes wild, passionate love to her?"

RJ (looking excited): "Boy, do I!"

Guy: "I changed the script. Now he kills her!"

Nutty !

I'm Ready To Retire


Following Rory's example, my worst job was working as a Telephone Harassment Flunky, otherwise known as a Market Researcher, at age 18. It wasn't the telephones we were harassing (although they probably didn't enjoy it much either), but the people on the other end of the line who were trying to eat microwave dinners in front of the TV with their broken families.

With such a glorious title as "Market Researcher" (I'm a scientist!) you would expect this job to have been rewarding and fulfilling, where I could go home and sleep well at night knowing I made a difference in the noble field of aggregate (made-up) consumer preferences. Reality was of course more like ruing my decision to commit myself to public disturbance for a meager paycheck.

The gist of the job was this: we would call people from a list of profiles and read to them survey questions, usually about commercial products, while goading them for truthful responses. The idea was to talk quickly and get a question in before they had a chance to say anything after "hello." Once we got started, people were less likely to refuse to participate. And with a question dangling in from of them, they'll usually just answer it.

Usually the questions were given to us on old WYSE dumb terminals with a fancy monochrome screen (all green letters on a black background, with the splash screen lettering firmly burnt into the phosphors). This was easy, as we could just key in the response and it would go to the next question automatically. But then there were the times when the computer network was broken (which was often), so we had to do the surveys the old-fashioned way--with pen and paper. Write down the response and turn to another page based on that response. You see, if the victim^H^H^H^H^H^H respondent hadn't used Colgate Extra Super Minty Professional with Bleach, we couldn't ask them if they liked how it made their gums glow in the dark, and how much they liked it measured on a scale of 1 to 10. All of this skipping around made it sort of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books. "If you'd like to call the respondent an asshole and hang up, turn to page 89!"

Every so often, I would get a person on the line that was very concerned with how I got their phone number, as if it were a secret code known only to them and Donald Rumsfeld. Although I had in front of me their name, address, medical history, and various other bits of personal information, we were told to say we were just dialing random numbers and theirs came up. Never mind that I might have asked for Mr. Yablome at the opening of the call. I don't think anyone ever noticed.

So what was your worst job ?

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