Ears and Links

About two years ago, the Barbarienne jammed her finger in my ear. Because of her age, her finger was just the right size to get into my ear canal; because of her strength, she jammed it in far enough to scratch my eardrum.

The resultant infection was so painful and persistent that I thought I might actually lose some hearing. It took weeks to clear up fully, but I was back hearing noises in that annoying 16-20K frequency range again in no time.

Which is a propos of nothing except that I recognized the problem sooner this time and didn’t let the infection go too far before going to the local “urgent care”. (Less than $100 and 30 minutes, with almost no paperwork.)

That, and I’ve been accumulating links from around the web but have been unable to cobble together much in the way of coherent posts. So here’s a round-up.

A reprint of a massive 1981 article on Love Canal, and a 2004 follow-up, both at Reason. Massive government screw up plus hysteria equals bad law.

Co-D&D creator Dave Arneson died. It doesn’t surprise me that there’s some rancor and controversy over who did what. Even if TSR hadn’t been dominated by a fairly shady couple, that might’ve arose. I’m glad the two did what they did. Of course, Gygax died at 69 and Arneson at 61, which might suggest the peril of too much gaming.

Vodkapundit tweeted this cute ad for–hell, I don’t even know. Sabre? Saber! Still don’t know what that is. One of these new “body products” they’re pumping out for men. I’m bad at this stuff. I have no products. (I kind of thought “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” was not awful, but I can’t imagine personally being more uncomfortable than had I been in that situation myself.)

These body product commercials amaze me, because there seems to be a common thread. In particular, there’s some severe exaggeration of the (formerly subtle) trope that women will pursue you if you spray this crap on you. (Pheremones! Science! 60% of the time, it works 100% of the time!) Like the Axe one where hundreds of women chase one guy on a desert island.

So, here they’re saying, well, you know this isn’t going to happen. What with the shortage of midichlorians on this planet and whatnot. You’re too smart to believe this stuff, right? But, you know, maybe it works a little. Can you afford to take that chance?

Reverse-double-secret psychology? If I thought they were aimin’ it at me, I’d probably be insulted. But, as noted, I don’t buy “product”.

Speaking of sexism, a bunch of people were tweeting this Naomi Wolf article on porn and pubic hair, blunting men’s appetites for sex. First of all, I swear I read this years ago. Turns out, Althouse was blogging how old it was two years ago. And its was just as dumb then. The only thing that can turn a man off “the real thing” is a woman. And she has to work hard at it. (Womens’ studies classes can give a gal all the ammo she needs, tho’.) And then the man is mostly not going to want sex with her in particular. That is, a man has to experience a lot of women like that to really be turned off sex. (I can only assume Naomi Wolf doesn’t know very many men.)

Well, okay, in fairness, entire cultures can probably gear down their people’s sex drives, by interjecting politics between Man and Woman. That might be what’s going on in the developed world. Then again, it might be some other physiological factor.

In any case–with all due apologize to FARK–it ain’t guys going, “She’s got pointy knees,” which is all Wolf’s argument boils down to. Guys put Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth up on their lockers 60 years ago, but they still got busy with Betty and Rita next door.

Twitter doesn’t allow you to tweet that much, so I just linked this delightful commercial. I almost expected a flame or two, but I’m not really on the radar of the perpetually outraged. (Advanced social studies study group question: Compare & contrast this commercial to the previous one, with special emphasis on how “personal products” are marketed to men versus women.)

Frank J asks the critical question of our day: Who is the more perfect leader? Obama or Kim Jong Il? The answer may surprise you. Then again, it may not.

Somebody I follow on Twitter, probably @thecardioexpert, linked this article on cholesterol. I like these kinds of things because the way our media presents things, it’s all “OMG! THIS IS DEADLY! AVOID IT OR DIE!” And it doesn’t matter if it’s salt or asbestos or alar or what. You don’t get a sense of the mechanics. And then you die because they didn’t warn you against eating broken glass.

I haven’t played with this site yet, but it’s about musical instruction and resources. What I really want is to be able to score a piece on the computer–full orchestra–and have it come out with those instruments. I’ve seen a few things that do this, but the output embarrasses me, it’s so bad. Obviously, there’s a limit to how good it can be, but there should be moments when it sounds like something other than a fleet of DX7s.

Then there’s the freaky bird here. Giant eyes–I mean, really giant eyes–are freaky. Reminds me of this guy who has remade Homer Simpson and Super Mario into their human selves. Also Jessica Rabbit, who doesn’t look that freaky. At first I thought, “Huh, typical guy.” Then I realized she’s not nearly as humanized as the other two, plus her eyes are mostly closed reducing the freak out factor.

Lastly, there’s this kinda-SIMS-y, kinda-The Movies-y, kinda-Playskool-y site where you can make your own 3D movies very easily. I haven’t tried it. But I’ve seen worse animation and voice-acting on TV.


My Stance On Reckless Driving

Speaking of bad advertising, I passed a billboard by the perennial Ad Council, with a sort of ‘50s-by-way-of-the-’80s man grinning at you saying


I’m boggled by the sequence of events that had to occur in order for this billboard to come into being.

  • First, reckless driving had to become en vogue enough to attract someone’s attention. This is possibly the most phenomenal part in the series of events. Seriously, given the dangers of reckless driving, one has to wonder how it could ever get to be very popular.
  • Second, someone had to say, “I must do something about this!” That’s not so hard to find, especially among branches of the government that constantly cast about for things to do something about.
  • Third, someone had to decide that the problem was, the driver of reckless driving, as it were, was popular acceptance. That is, the reason people drive like maniacs and risk their lives is because of peer pressure. That’s kind of an astounding conclusion to come to, when you think of it.
  • Fourth, someone then had to decide this could be handled by putting up a billboard.

Anyway, I guess I should do as the sign says. So, let me say that I think, with some caveats, that reckless driving is bad. You really shouldn’t do it. Being all nuance-minded, I have to say that if you’re a NASCAR driver or in a monster truck rally, you probably need to drive recklessly.

And, frankly, if you want to drive recklessly somewhere away from public roads, I think that’s pretty much your right.

I hope this doesn’t reduce the power of my denunciation.

So, yeah, I expect those reckless driving rates to start dropping shortly.

Bad Commercial Alert

Let California Ring has a stupid, stupid commercial on. You can see it at their website.

If you don’t know what it’s about, you wouldn’t know what it’s about, which I think is probably the hallmark of bad advertising.

Basically, it’s a bride trying to get to the altar, and things are in her way. Mostly, it’s the sort of coincidental vicissitudes that happen to us all–stuff in the road, clingy children, etc.–although at the end, some old lady swings her cane out and trips the poor dear. The groom rushes to help her up but his groosmen hold him back. The bride sits there in the aisle, looking forlorn.

Figured out what it’s for? How about if I tell you the stinger?

What if you couldn’t marry the person you loved?

Got it now?

Personally, I married for tax reasons. I didn’t really think much of it at the time. And despite many warnings to contrary, it changed nothing on a personal level. (I think because most couples who are living together are hedging, whereas we were just too busy to do the paperwork until it became a serious tax liability. The previous year it had been a huge tax benefit not to be married!)

Of course, at this point, I’m pretty much barred from marrying the person I love, what with the bigamy laws. So I guess I should relate?

But back to the commercial. LCR proclaims that it puts the viewer in the shoes of gays and lesbians who want to marry.

I was more sympathetic before I saw the commercial. No, not really, it’s just a poor analogy. It trivializes the issue. My mom faced far worse when she remarried and catered her own reception.

I’ve detailed my position here, and maybe this commercial will work in their favor. I found it off-putting.

And now, a good list.

Mahalo has a list of the best fictional brands, starting (resaonably) with ACME and including an assortment of advertisers both memorable and obscure.

Mooby’s, Hudsucker, Brawndo….

But they are all recent. I think the oldest ones are Hudsucker and, oh, there’s Soul-Glo from the ‘80s movie Coming To America.

Spoofing advertisers pre-dates the ’80s, though. I imagine it dates approximately to the, uh, first advertisers.

Heaven Can Wait (the original) featured the Strables who were…pork kings? There was a jingle for “Strable on the table” that Don Ameche liked to mock. Or his grandfather did, perhaps.

Rod Serling liked to skewer advertisers, though he never really paid them back for trashing his shows. I remember distinctly the contempt dripping from Static, where inane commercials for chlorophyll accompanied equally inane programming. (The protagonist rushes to his magic radio, which plays 20 year old radio programs. Heh. Radio commercials were awesomely stupid, too, but nostalgia is nostalgia.)

Just off the top o’ my head….