Thursday, July 26, 2007

The continuing crisis...

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I have long held the belief that people today are far too angry, and that if people could simply be a little more patient (and a little less quick to anger), most of today's problems would go away.

As if to underscore this belief, this story appears in today's news.

A total stranger in Texas calls another total stranger (a sailor in the US Navy, stationed in Virginia) a "nerd", on an internet forum (one where people routinely poke fun at each other.) In response, this sailor flips out, and threatens to kill the guy from Texas. He then drives halfway across the country, locates the Texan, and sets fire to the trailer he was living out of.

Clearly, the arsonist here is mentally deranged, is a threat to society, and should be locked away for a long time in the most oppressive prison cell allowed by law, but that's not my point. I've been seeing a lot of stories like this in the news recently - people who get murderously angry over trivial nonsense. What I wonder is: Are things like this happening more often than before? Or has it always happened, but without national publicity?

The arsonist blames the internet. Of course, that's a BS answer - the internet didn't make him do anything, but it allowed a stranger over a thousand miles away to trigger his rage. Without the internet, he'd probably have ended up following a stranger home from a local bar, movie theater or sporting event, committing his arson closer to home. Fortunately, he plead guilty, so we won't have to deal with the possibility of a jury unable to come to the same conclusion.

Anyway, getting back to my main point, is this a new phenomenon? When I was growing up, I occasionally heard news stories about crazy people committing crazy acts of violence, but I didn't hear stories like that happening all the time. Today, I hear of stories like this almost every month.

The more I observe the world, the more I want to move to northern Alaska and live out of an igloo or something.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Learn to read between the lines

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Sometimes is funny how a scam-artist can become really goofy when sued by the government.

Hi-health, a shady company that sells pills, has long been advertising a product they call "ocular nutrition". This product is basically a multivitamin, nothing more. The manufacturer (advertising on nationally syndicated radio programs, like Paul Harvey) has historically made the most outrageous claims about this product. They claimed that it could cure age-related macular degeneration, remove "floaters" from vision, and even cure cataracts.

Well, they were sued, and they settled out of court by paying the FTC a $450,000 fine. A slap-on the wrist, IMO, but that's not the point of this article.

After the FTC fine, Hi-health did not stop selling ocular nutrition. They still advertise it on Paul Harvey's program, but now their product claims are much weaker. They now point out the fact that, in controlled studies, 25% of the people using it found the progress of their macular degeneration had halted or slowed.

In other words, 75% of the people taking it saw no effect or saw their degeneration progress faster! It doesn't take very much intelligence to see what they're really saying, but it does require you to pay attention and think about what was said.

Unfortunately, the elderly population - who this ad is targeted at - generally do not think critically when it comes to scam-artists promising miracle cures. And when the message comes from a friendly voice, like Paul Harvey (who actually reads the ad-copy during his broadcasts), they will tend to trust it more than if it was a random ad prepared by an ad agency.

If you know someone who is considering (or actually using) ocular nutrition, please show them this article, the FTC statement, and have them get real advice from an ophthalmologist. At best, they are throwing their money away. At worst, they may be making themselves sick, from overdose and possible drug-interactions.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Updated blogger template

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Google recently updated their template system for Blogger. Not wanting to be left behind, I upgraded to the new system. None of the pre-built templates were formatted exactly as I had this blog originally (which isn't surprising, since I customized the template I used originally), but I think I managed to make everything look the same.

If you notice anything broken, let me know so I can fix it.