Caveat Emptor

Monday, 24 May 2010

There are end­less things we can and have learned from na­ture that have daily, prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion in our lives. Velcro was in­vented by a guy who took a close look at the burrs that stuck to his dog’s fur. It wasn’t given to us by Vulcans. I’m sure my mom has a spe­cial place in her heart for those things, since there were in­nu­mer­able times that my socks went through the wash com­pletely cov­ered in them. Velcro is use­ful, and it is kind of dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out how it could be mis­used.

Marketing, on the other hand, is some­thing that na­ture has in­grained into us, and learn­ing to use it as a tool for just about any job means it gets mis­used all the time. The most bla­tant form of nature’s mar­ket­ing is used for sex­ual se­lec­tion. Think pea­cocks, or Irish Elk. Pretty harm­less, specif­i­cally tar­geted mar­ket­ing. That eas­ily ex­plains the mar­ket­ing phrase “sex sells.” Properly mar­keted, you can sell any­thing. With prod­ucts, this has been age old; there were huck­sters sell­ing snake-oil and hoof grease to dirt-farm­ers in Ur. I’m sure the mar­ket­ing of ideas dates to an­tiq­uity as well, but the pro­lif­er­a­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the in­for­ma­tion age com­pounds this into a se­ri­ous prob­lem.

With proper mar­ket­ing, you can sell any idea. There’s a sucker born every min­ute. What sucks about the suck­ers is that they’re more likely to be­lieve the hype than due the dili­gence. So you can sell cre­ation­ism, fas­cism, racism, and that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslin and folks will take the good mar­ket­ing as gospel.  It’s Colbert’s truthi­ness. Facts are hard things, and think­ing re­quires thought. Since we’re hard-wired by na­ture to buy good mar­ket­ing, it’s eas­ier to buy in­tel­lec­tual snake oil (es­pe­cially when it goes with our pre­con­cep­tions) than put forth the ef­fort to test facts for scratch, in­den­ta­tion and re­bound hard­ness.

Caveat emp­tor, and if you don’t, God help the rest of us.

Iraqi Stereotype

Monday, 7 April 2003

i’ve found some­thing dis­turbing. when­ever i catch a bit of news re­gard­ing the war, which is not much be­cause as long as peo­ple are dy­ing i don’t care for it, but when­ever i catch a bit of news con­tain­ing a pic­ture of a mous­ta­chioed Iraqi, they all look like Saddam Hussein. It is quite hard to tell one mous­ta­chioed Iraqi from an­other, and i’m pretty sure this is pur­pose­ful. every­one knows about Saddam’s dop­pel­gangers. every­one knows that Saddam is crazy. every­one knows Saddam has a mous­tache. but if it ap­pears that every Iraqi has a mous­tache and looks like Saddam — does it not fol­low that all Iraqis are crazy? This is how racial pro­fil­ing pro­lif­er­ates. Even if it is un­in­ten­tional, the abun­dance of mous­ta­chioed evil Iraqis will cre­ate a stereo­type that all Iraqis are evil and mous­ta­chioed.

Politricks and Fencing Championships

Tuesday, 18 March 2003

at 6 this evening i’m dri­ving out to Colorado Springs, CO and the USAFA for the NCAA fenc­ing cham­pi­onships. It is about a 19 hour drive and at the end of it i still might not be able to watch my team com­pete for the cham­pi­onship. i had to sub­mit my so­cial se­cu­rity num­ber, driver’s li­cense num­ber, etc. in or­der to get se­cu­rity clear­ance to get on the base. at all times i must have two forms of pic­ture ID. but once the war starts not even that will get me on the base. i’m still go­ing out dammit.

what a stu­pid ul­ti­ma­tum from Dubya. yeah like that is EVER go­ing to hap­pen. might as well re­quire the im­pos­si­ble so we can start bomb­ing on sched­ule. any­thing for the war. even if the ulty did work i’d still be creeped out be­cause the US would be able to co­erce a coun­try into es­sen­tially giv­ing up its sov­er­eignty. jee­bus.

what the in­ter­net needs is a bes­tiary of myth­i­cal beasts. and a good one at that. the only ones i’ve found have been crap. maybe i could start my own if i had some time. mea­gan will you draw the crit­ters and creepy crawlies?

Trogdor the Arcade Game!

I’ll be back some­time next mon­day un­less NORAD and the USAFA get nuked by Iraqis.

Unamerican

Tuesday, 8 October 2002

i sup­pose i’m un-American. i don’t want war with Iraq. I see no mo­ti­va­tion for it apart from a fa­mil­ial grudge held by the man cur­rently rec­og­nized as our the American pres­i­dent. i think the days of ram­pant die-hard na­tion­al­ism are past. i be­lieve it is time to fo­cus and con­cen­trate on a more global scale. i’m not talk­ing about cor­po­rate glob­al­iza­tion which in my opin­ion is noth­ing more than American im­pe­ri­al­ism un­der a dif­fer­ent guise. i’m talk­ing about global hu­man­i­tar­i­an­ism which of course is way too ide­al­is­tic at this point. I do think, how­ever, that it is high time we Americans at least start mov­ing in that di­rec­tion. Lord knows, much of the rest of the world is at­tempt­ing to. i read some­where that our the American gov­ern­ment has a $400 bil­lion bud­get for mil­i­tary spend­ing. i’m pretty sure that is more than would be re­quired to pro­tect our America’s own bor­ders. Instead, it is fo­cused on pro­tect­ing American ‘in­ter­ests,’ a con­ve­nient term which can be molded to jus­tify our American in­volve­ment any­where. America could be a re­spected part of the world com­mu­nity in­stead of feared be­cause of its power if we it could just stop be­ing trig­ger-happy and re­al­ize that help­ing out oth­ers will help us America out in the long run.

Bad Karma and America Bashing

Friday, 5 July 2002

it would have been bad karma to bash the amer­i­can me­dia about pa­tri­o­tism yes­ter­day so i held off un­til to­day. on my shift wednes­day night i was glanc­ing through a Time and Newsweek and mar­veled at the amount of pro­pa­ganda that was present in the pub­li­ca­tions. This is eerily like the de­vel­op­ment of the fas­cist sys­tem in Orwell’s 1984. every ar­ti­cle and many of the ad­ver­tise­ments pro­moted a sort of blind un­ques­tion­ing al­le­giance to­ward new pol­icy and other gov­ern­ment ac­tion. Patriotism it ap­pears, has reached the point where ei­ther you must sup­port every as­pect of gov­ern­ment or be in league with ter­ror­ists. i imag­ine the mc­carthy era was like this ex­cept in­stead of be­ing a pinko com­mie, you are help­ing out Islamic fa­nat­ics. the last time i checked, there wasn’t a law against this but now it ap­pears that the Patriot Bill and of­fice of Homeland Security have changed our civil lib­er­ties in some very fun­da­men­tal ways. That is scary enough, but when our source of ‘free’ speech ef­fec­tively con­demns all naysay­ing I feel a lit­tle claus­tro­pho­bic. Why for in­stance do we need an­other gov­ern­ment over­sight ad­min­is­tra­tion for the cit­i­zens, if the FBI and CIA aren’t work­ing well, then make them bet­ter, don’t cre­ate a new sys­tem. its like tak­ing a car to the junk­yard be­cause it has a flat tire and then ask­ing the GM to build you a new one from scratch. as far as i can tell, the US is los­ing the war on ter­ror­ism, be­cause the US isn’t quite the land of the free that it used to be.

as for the whole pledge of al­le­giance mum­bo­jumbo, will the sep­a­ra­tion be­tween church and state reach the point where ‘God Bless America” is banned and re­li­gious lob­by­ists are pre­vented from ex­press­ing their de­sires for new leg­is­la­tions? will re­li­gion end up be­ing banned al­to­gether since the USA as an en­tity al­lows churches on her soil. i can see it com­ing. dubya’s gov­ern­ment is a scary scary thing.

i’d bet­ter hop on my plane to Pakistan now since it is ob­vi­ous from the pre­vi­ous para­graphs that i am a cause of the prob­lem and not just an American ex­er­cis­ing my right to free speech. omy­god they are here al­ready, bang­ing on the door! i haven’t even posted yet.! big brother is every­where!

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Sunday, 26 May 2002

5.26.02 EXT. MOD QUAD. 6:03pm DAY

i think the ex­treme con­ser­vatism here at Notre Dame has made more of a lib­eral out of me. the hypocrisy, bu­reau­cracy, and op­pres­sive na­ture of ‘tra­di­tion’ that i am con­stantly faced with has slowly forced me from my rather apo­lit­i­cal fence­sit­ting into a slightly more rad­i­cal stance where i wel­come ef­fec­tive change and re­bel­lion against blind, stag­nant, pa­tron­iz­ing au­thor­ity. per­haps i am wrong and my lib­eral arts (even though it isn’t called that here) ed­u­ca­tion has changed me…

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a good read. i wasn’t ex­pect­ing to be con­fronted with the ex­ten­sive philo­soph­i­cal dis­cus­sion that it con­tains, but it was much eas­ier to un­der­stand than say, Descartes “Discourse on Method.” The sto­ry­line is very good and i could have used more of it, but i un­der­stand that it merely func­tions as a frame to con­tain and di­rect the in­quiry into val­ues. i would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend that you read it, but be pre­pared to have your ways of thought chal­lenged on a fun­da­men­tal level.

there is a new link in ‘peo­ple’ to some rat­bas­tard and an­other one in the ‘other’ sec­tion to all my po­etry (which sucks and you’ve al­ready read be­fore).