The Din of Inequity

The Din of Inequity

...yes, I spelled it that way on purpose.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Funny, You Don't Usually See it Develop Like This...

When I first got to work this morning, there was a headline on Yahoo! news to the effect that President Bush had requested investigations into price gouging on the price of gas.(1)

Then just a little later, that headline was directly replaced with one that said "Bush Eases Environmental Rules on Gasoline."

I'm not surprised that he's used his new-found concern over gas prices to gut environmental regulations, I'm just surprised to see it play out in headlines like that. Kind of cool, or at least chilling.

Seems like there's no cloud so black for his oil industry cronies that it can't have a silver lining.

To be honest, I'm surprised that he didn't just send an open letter to the oil companies saying, "Cut gas prices right now, before the voters have to drive for summer vacation. We can't afford to lose our majorities in the House and Senate because if we do Congress might do some bad stuff like actual investigations and oversight, and all our pals (and many of you big oil company cheeses) will go to pound-me-in-the-ass prison. We'll make it up to you by cutting some environmental regs or allowing oil drilling in school playgrounds or something."

Then again, maybe that's what this all is.

(1) We'll leave out for the moment the likelihood that this investigation will scapegoat a few independent gas stations or fuel distributors, thus muddying the waters as to whether the oil companies are responsible for the problem, and giving everybody a chance to say the problem was solved, so shut up you naysayers. Or something.


|| Bikeboy 12:27 PM || (1) comments

Thursday, March 16, 2006

That Makes Sense

From Yahoo! News:

Survey: Republicans Happier Than Democrats

Yeah. And I hear that in 1939 Nazis were happier than Jews, Homosexuals and Intellectuals put together.

You can look in the article, and pretty much see that the list of unhappy folks falls right along the lines of those who are concerned about their ever-narrowing acceptance in our fascistic, racist, crypto-theocratic society. Or something.

But hey--why not make those people feel worse by rubbing it in their faces that their mortal enemies are enjoying giving them a right royal fucking?


|| Bikeboy 10:23 AM || (1) comments

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is it any wonder...

...that many many people still believe that there are quality scientific studies that show acupuncture is effective?

Here's a Reuters headline: Acupuncture Shown to Relieve Migraines: Study

Looks like a pretty strong endorsement, doesn't it?

Here's the relevant information from the article, though:
They compared the effects of real and fake acupuncture with drug treatments for migraine and found all equally effective.
And there's more:
"Secondly, sham acupuncture is as effective as traditional Chinese acupuncture," he told Reuters.
So the fake acupuncture, were they don't actually do the treatment, works just as well as "real" acupuncture. Which would seem to indicate that neither of them has any physical effect--it appears that the patient's belief that he or she is receiving treatment is what really gets the job done. Which would also seem to be indicated by the failure of the medicines to do any better--they probably don't do anything either.

I should note that the researcher goes on in the article to subtly mis-represent the result, saying, "What we showed is that acupuncture is effective but we need more research to find out the biological effect behind it." No, you didn't show that. What you've shown is that acupuncture isn't any more effective than A: one thing that's intended not to work--indeed, sham acupuncture is designed specifically not to do what acupuncture does or B: one thing that doesn't work reliably--few people get much relief from migraine medicines, and there seems to be little rhyme or reason to which ones they'll respond to.

Maybe I'm crazy, but it sounds to me like the headline should read something like:
All Apparently-Effective Migraine Treatments Likely Rely on Placebo Effect

I'm sure the pro-acupuncture folks can jump on here and say that it's probably just that the sham acupuncture accidentally stimulates the same meridians or Qi points or whatever, so it still shows accupuncture works. I call bullshit on that. Somebody find me a properly controlled scientific trial of acupuncture for anything that shows a better result than placebo and I'll listen. So far, I haven't heard of any.


|| Bikeboy 10:42 AM || (2) comments

Friday, February 17, 2006

We're also installing screen doors on all submarines...

This, as always, from Yahoo!:

U.S. sends ships to help landslide victims

Uh huh. We're also sending good sturdy boots to people who are drowning. Aren't landslides like, I don't know, on LAND?

Sheesh.

Yes, I know that's not what it's about, but who writes these stupid headlines? Wouldn't something like "US Sends Military to Help Landslide Victims," or even, "US Sends Aid to Landslide Victims" be just as good, and a lot less stupid-looking? Note also the correct, pedant-approved capitalization of my headlines. I usually just fix Yahoo!'s poor capitalization before posting, but this time I just did a cut and paste.

Don't even get me started on the whole "Cartoon Protesters" and "Cartoon Violence" stuff they've been putting up the last two weeks. The images of Mickey and Goofy burning Danish flags and generally busting shit up is more than my poor bewildered brain can take.


|| Bikeboy 3:16 PM || (0) comments

What are the odds?

At my dentist's office, they used to have a receptionist/general thing-doer named Mari.*

Mari was really great. Very cheerful and ready with the right forms and all that, always remembered my name, was polite and generally fun to visit with in that extremely superficial receptionist way. She was also pretty attractive. But, and there's no polite way to put this, she dressed (and wore makeup) like a mid-priced hooker. Loud, undersized outfits with loads of cleavage and plenty of thigh showing, hair frosted or tipped or whatever it is people do within an inch of its life, extreme makeup. And not extreme in an adventure sports way, either.

It seemed to me like she was one in a million, with her apparent dedication to doing a good job, her porn star name and hooker clothes, her indeterminate ethnicity and her cleavage down to there (and out to...oops, almost saw something...or did I? Mustn't...look...too...obviously) which was heavily on display when she was consulting the computer to schedule me yet another hour of oral torture.

But now Mari's gone, and she's been replaced by...wait for it...MANDI. That's right--she's pretty much exactly the same (though not, in my opinion, as "pretty in the face" as Mari), right down to the silly spelling of her name, the clown makeup and the sense that "office-appropriate attire" means "hide your nipples and any baby-making parts, but little else."

Apparently there's some sort of pool of aspiring adult movie actresses who, while they're waiting for a part, moonlight as dental office receptionists. If there isn't such a pool, I have to assume that my dentist has a thing for women like that. Which is kind of creepy since his wife isn't anything like that at all, which I know from all the creepy photos of his wife and far-too-plentiful kids in the exam rooms.


*They're soon not to be my dentist, because they're not on my dental plan anymore, but I'm going there anyway because I have started getting a bridge done by them because they did the supposedly-permanent implant it's replacing. Until all the "needs to know my past history" part is done, I'm sticking with them even though it's costing me more.

Also, Mari appears to have left under some kind of cloud, which is too bad. I heard some staffer there talking to another one about how she'd spoken to Mari and how she was really upset and embarrassed about something and how she'd never do anything to hurt the practice and if she could help train her replacement or anything, and how she was upset that he (who he? The dentist, presumably) had confronted here right there in front of everybody, yadda yadda.

I couldn't imagine what she might have done--she seemed to really like her job, and was very good at it, to all appearances. Given that I've spent WAY more time in that office than I wanted to in the last 6 years, I think it's fair to say I know she was good at her job. And no, I don't think it she was fired because of her...let's say, "sense of style"--I've been going there for 8 years and she's only just gone missing. After 8 years she'd have had to show up wearing nothing at all to get fired for her attire. I'm mystified what she might have done, and I hope she's OK.

But that's neither here nor there in this post, which is why it's here and not there.


|| Bikeboy 1:34 PM || (2) comments

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Still No Cure for Cancer


Headline from Yahoo!: Simple Test Helps Predict Chances of Dying

Riiiiiight.

I'm guessing the test goes something like this:

Test: Are you alive?
You: Umm, yes?
Test: Then you have a 100% chance of dying. Next!


|| Bikeboy 9:31 AM || (2) comments

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

That dude wasn't peppered, he was larded!



Look up larding here.

It's OK. I'll wait.

From Yahoo!:

“The 78-year-old lawyer who was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident has some birdshot lodged in his heart and he had 'a minor heart attack' Tuesday morning, hospital officials said.”

--lodged in his heart !?!?

Yep, merely a flesh wound, much like a heart attack caused by being shot is “minor.”.

That dude was not peppered, and he wasn’t any 30 yards away, either. As I understand it, bird shot doesn’t even go all the way through a bird at 30 yards, and we’re supposed to believe it penetrated this guy’s hunting clothes and body and got lodged in his heart at that distance?

Cheney shot the shit out of that motherfucker, and at pretty close range. No wonder they wanted to keep it quiet. What you wanna bet the whole thing went down TOTALLY differently from how they’re saying? I’d say we’re lucky to even know it was Cheney who did the shooting based on what’s coming out.


|| Bikeboy 3:00 PM || (1) comments

Friday, February 03, 2006

Knock-offs

I just read that Louis Vuitton has gotten really serious about cracking down on people who sell knock-offs in NYC. Or more particularly, since they can't seem to pin down the perpetrators, they're going after the landlords that appear to be looking the other way.

Fine. I'm not really interested in that one way or another. What interests me is knock-offs.

Let me get this out of the way first: I work for a content producer. Our products are home video, but the basic issues are the same. I do not support piracy or knock-offs. Not at all. And I think pirating or stealing (which is what you're doing when you buy from the pirates or download--let's not kid ourselves) easily-afforded items is reprehensible. If you can't afford to pay $20 for a legit DVD of Will Farrell's latest so-called comedy, maybe you shouldn't buy it (There are about 1000 other reasons not to buy it, but let's stick to the economic).

But with that said, I have to point out that it's a little weird when you talk about the situation with Louis Vuitton or the other companies whose products are currently popular to knock-off: Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Burberry, et al. These companies (with the possible exception of Burberry) are in the super-luxury goods business. Nobody in their right mind would pay the prices their bags, etc., list for. They do not sell a lot of units, don't really expect to, and they never lower their prices.

Then the hip-hop world (increasingly) and Hollywood (perennially) seize on one of their items as the thing to have. Demand for the LV bag skyrockets amongst the rich, ostentatious and/or the stupid. More sensible but still media-brainwashed types really want these bags, but won't pay full boat for them.

Enter the knock-off. The knock-off makes the treasured item available to the hoi-polloi, who snap them up, robbing LV of their precious dollars. Right? I'm not so sure.

Here's what I think really happens. The knock-off, at least temporarily, turns the item into even MORE of a must-have. Then more people who have more money than sense run out and buy into the trend: "Even the janitor's daughter has one. I saw it the other day." Only these new soft-heads are buying the real deal--something they might well have never thought to do before they saw the bags everywhere. Hell, there's even a bit of pride to be found in owning the real deal as more and more knock-offs crop up. And as more and more knock-offs show up in styles the real company doesn't make, fake-spotting becomes a sport. One that's way more fun when you're carrying the real deal (indeed, this is probably the only time fake-spotting is emotionally worthwhile).

Sure, eventually there will be a saturation point, when nobody can tell who's got the real deal and who doesn't, or when so many people are carrying identical bags that it becomes uncool to carry them at all (real or not). Nobody wants LV bags anymore, boo fucking hoo.

But here's something else: It's the fad that makes the knock-offs, and the knock-offs that bring the fad into the living rooms of slightly-more-well-off Middle America. The knock-offs (and real items) all over the street in New York and on TV make Sally Creamcheese in Ohio desperate for the cosmopolitan panache and style that ONLY the REAL LV bag that her parents will buy her can give. This would be the same bag that would have languished on the shelf in a Columbus department store, eventually to be returned to LV or the distributor, were it not for the LV bag craze.

These are luxury items, people. There's just not a huge demand for them, because they're so expensive. Even people who can afford them don't think much of buying them. Until the (at least partly) knock-off-driven craze.

As to the knock-offs flooding the market and making the product uncool, well, yeah. But how long did the mucky-mucks at LV really think they were going to be the hot shit? Don't they watch TV? The next award show is going to have some pseudo-junkie Hollywood asshole sporting somebody else's flash, and it'll be their turn.

And once their super-premium product is yesterday's news, the only people still buying that look will be going for knock-offs as an impulse buy, not saving up for weeks or months to get last year's handbag. That is, the only people buying them will be people who would NEVER have bought the real deal.

Yeah, these companies really need, for trademark reasons, to pursue the counterfeiters. But don't kid yourself that they lost a lot of money to them. The knock-off fueled bandwagon was an unexpected windfall for them. If they got addicted to the cash flow and didn't realize it wasn't going to last, that's their problem.


|| Bikeboy 4:21 PM || (8) comments

In Summary: Pot, Kettle, Black



From Yahoo!:

Rumsfeld Likens Chavez' Rise to Hitler's

Read the whole thing--it's like some kind of sick joke. It's like he looked around at his evil puppetmasters, wrote the speech, then changed all the names from Rove, Cheney and the like to Chavez and Morales.

This current government is pretty much one of the worst things to happen to the world since Hitler's rise, and they have the nerve. I swear.


|| Bikeboy 2:44 PM || (3) comments