The Advent fast begins today. May your white lent be fruitful. I wish you the best in keeping the faith in this land of mammon.
Related to the ridiculous consumerism of contemporary society, I present you a funny article on Slate by Rebecca Watson, “The Pseudoscience of SkyMall.” Watson reviews the curious SkyMall catalogue that you find on planes and suggests a game that I shall play on my next flight. She imagines that she wins a contest where she gets to pick one item from each of the catalogue’s spreads. Watson ends thus:
If you’re playing Imaginary SkyMall Sweepstakes, definitely go with the Lord Raffles Lion Throne Chair on Page 91, because nothing says “class” like an ornate replica Medieval throne from an in-flight catalog. Or maybe the Bigfoot, the Holiday Yeti Holiday Ornament, depending on your personal tastes. Totally your call.
We are indeed a tacky people.
Ron Unz published an interesting and disturbing article in The American Conservative last week about the American political and media establishments’ having given a free pass to the pharmaceutical company Merck after its drug Vioxx caused thousands of deaths: “Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison.” Unz contrasts the American media’s handling of the Chinese infant and pet food scandals with how they covered the Vioxx affair. Unz also compares the reactions of the respective governments. Unz notes that eventually the ChiComs executed some of the men who were responsible for the infant formula malefaction that resulted in six deaths and thousands of medical complication cases, whereas no one has really been held accountable for Vioxx, which may have caused the deaths of a half million Americans.
I discovered Unz’s article on Sailer’s site. Some of Sailer’s commentators think that Unz is being too hard on Merck, especially given the amount of people who took the drug and the benefits derived from it. Some even contend that aspirin would not pass F.D.A. approval today if it were a new drug. I do not know, but Unz’s article calls into question whatever journalistic integrity that remains in this country.
Update: Be sure to see Peter Schaeffer’s criticism of Unz’s arguments in the comments section.
A few months ago, I read an interesting article in Forbes by Bret Swanson: “Jobs: Steve vs. the Stimulus.” The backstory of the article is that in his response to Obama’s State of the Union address, Governor Daniels of Indiana stated that Steve Jobs had produced more jobs than the monstrous stimulus act. Paul Krugman, lefty economist for The New York Times, then attempted to school Daniels by comparing the numbers. Contra Krugman, Swanson’s article defends Daniel’s assertion with a fascinating exploration of the dynamism in a free economy.
Athenos is not my favorite brand of packaged hummus, but Kraft’s Greek label commercials are sweet like Melissos’ honey. Enjoy what Yiayia says.
Yiayia on stay at home fathers:
Yiayia on fashion:
Yiayia on cohabitation:
Evidently, the ad campaign began in late winter earlier this year, but I only recently discovered the videos. I want more Yiayia commentary; grandmothers know better.
Leave it to Americans to find a way to combine tastlessness and consumerism in even the most hallowed aspects of life . . . and death. I present Holy Smoke, a company that turns cremated remains into ammunition so that one can go out in a bang. From the company’s site:
Planning a loved ones final arrangements can be a challenging responsibility, one you want to do with care and consideration. Allow Holy Smoke to help you create a tribute to your outdoorsperson like no other.
We provide compassionate personal service, exceptional quality, and a truly unique memorial. Our unparalleled service and overall value are why our loyal customers won’t go anywhere else. We look forward to serving you!
The name you can trust! . . .
Now you can have the peace of mind that you can continue to protect your home and family even after you are gone.
The company is based in Alabama. I shall refrain from additional comment.
I am not a devotee of Malcolm Gladwell, but I did find his article on the mall in The New Yorker quite interesting: “The Terrazzo Jungle.” Gladwell recounts the vision of the mall’s creator, Victor Gruen, as well as his disappointment in what became of his idea. Gruen wanted the mall to be a commercial centerpiece to an extensive, planned development that would create an orderly and beautiful community in suburbia. Such did not occur, though attempts at integrated commercial and residential space continue as the new urbanism refuses to submit before the American cult of the ugly and haphazard. Gladwell also explains how tax policy resulted in ghastly commercial developments largely disconnected from a community’s shopping needs, which thereby facilitated the American wasteland of suburban sprawl. Also of interest is mall designer Alfred Taubman’s commentary on the mall’s commercial strategies. The article is delightful pop anthropological candy. Enjoy.
I maintain an extensive garden list of the species that I have in my yard. It is obviously incomplete, but I work on it when I have free time. I often use Google’s image search to help identify plants, and the pictures often take me to helpful and interesting sites. The quest for cultivars has also introduced me to some weird horticultural zones. This week, I came across one of the oddest—Ty Ty Nursery in Georgia. It is so outlandish that I doubted that it was a real store. However, it seems that the Ty Ty folks really do sell plants, though the web is full of complaints from disappointed customers. I want to ask these disgruntled buyers what possessed them to order plants from a nursery that advertises its stock in such a perverse manner. Ty Ty’s site has the aesthetic of sleazy television commercials that run in the middle of the night. You have to visit the site to grasp just how bizarre it is. Do not forget the videos.
Happy birthday to my father! Many more years to him!
I doubt that Dad would appreciate the following, but when I was looking at ThinkGeek’s Tauntaun sleeping bag, I decided to browse the other products. That is when I found Canned Unicorn Meat; it is an “Excellent Source of Sparkles.” As a vegetarian, it might be odd that I am an enthusiastic supporter of unicorn consumption, but the fantastic animals are fattened “on a diet comprised entirely of candy corn,” and I love candy corn! So, really, it would be like eating processed candy corn, right?
More facts about the Radiant Farms product:
Imported from a small independent cannery in County Meath, Ireland
Crunchy horn bits in every bite - an excellent source of Calcium
Tastes like rotisserie chicken but with a hint of marshmallow sweetness
Sparkly meat lends the unmistakable air of class and sophistication to your parties
Not yet approved by the USDA or FDA, but the nuns have eaten it for centuries and they’re healthy as horses
Pretty soon, Michelle Obama will be lecturing the nation’s schools to offer unicorn meat as an integral part of nutritional reform.
I also found in the Seattle Weekly that the National Pork Board had threatened legal action against ThinkGeek because ThinkGeek used the expression, “Unicorn—the new white meat,” in an April Fool’s joke from which they developed the above product (like the Tauntaun sleeping bag). It is deplorable that an obviously parodic use of the catch phrase would be found to violate copyright protection. Hey lawyers, when are you going to stop letting the scumbags among you defame your profession?
Anyway, I suspect that ThinkGeek’s My First Bacon talking plush toy is more of my father’s slice of meat . . .
Two years ago, I offered my thoughts on the Super Bowl advertisements of A.D. 2009, which included the magnificently crafted “Heist.”
I noted that Coca-Cola usually makes the best commercial of the Super Bowl. I think that Coke offers the best ad this year, as well. Here is “Border.”
While I find most of the game’s commercials base and stupid, Coke charms and embetters the audience. Nicely done. Two years ago, the company offered its gift to geeks with “Avatar.” This year, Coke bestows “Seige” upon the world’s nerds. Not bad.
The other commercial that I really like is a bit cheesy, but I’m a sucker for such things. Here is Bridgestone’s “Carma”:
Of course, I appreciate Volkswagen’s “The Force.” What American man from my generation would not like this ad? It is our destiny.
As a child, I played Luke, though. Still, Vader gets a fun song.
Motorola’s “Xoom” entertains with its ironic mockery of Apple. Those conforming non-conformists . . . Moreover, the girl has a pretty face and lovely eyes.
It’s the Super Bowl; one must acknowledge some silly ads. CarMax’s “Kid in a Candy Store” delights with visual gags (and hippies are funny), Snickers’ “Logging” features Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr after a long absence with their trademark whines (and Jews are funny), and Doritos’ “Pug Attack” satisfies my low brow appetite perfectly without being overly gross or crass (and pugs are funny . . . and the woman looks a lot like Kristen Wiig—she’s funny, too).
Lastly, I have to give credit to Chrysler and Marshall Mathers (a.k.a. Eminem) for the “Imported from Detroit” commercial. I love Michiganders, and I appreciate their undying civic pride. Detroit is an American tragedy, but I don’t mind the fantasy of romanticizing its state.