fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
This is my front page. If you want me to add you, drop me a line here. Or, add me. Either way, I'll check you out. You can also drop me a line here if, for instance, you don't have my email address. All comments here are screened.

This post also includes every tag I have -- this is because my current LJ style doesn't include a tag index. (At least half of my participation on LJ is on my phone. I chose this style because, as bare-bones as it is, it loads quickly and it's still readable on a small screen.)

I'd tell you more about myself, but that's what my profile -- and the rest of my LJ -- is for.
fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
Okay, kids, let's gather 'round the campfire. I'm going to tell you a spooooooky story.

Once upon this time, there were these two camp counselors, named Ace and Gary. They were both full of football, red meat, and passion for their wives, and they loved the little tykes in their care. Anyway, they were at summer camp with a bunch of kids, about to dress up for Halloween...

What? No one trick or treats in the summer? Um. This is in the little town of Gravity Falls, so it's actually Summerween. But they still dress up and collect candy, so my point stands. (Whew.)

Anyway, the little kids were all dressed up as cute, adorable little vampires, ghosts, frankenstein monsters, and whatnot. Gary was dressed up as a seventies cop -- Ponch or Jon, I forget which -- and was just putting on the finishing touch: a seventies wig.

But! Little did he know that the seventies wig he put on was CURSED! Strange unfamiliar desires came over him, and before he knew it, he was undoing Ace's pants with his teeth and sucking his dick! Aaaaaaaaaah!

(This spoooooooky story was brought to you by an overactive imagination, an unhealthy dose of sarcasm, and exposure to this unlikely artifact.)

Item #: SCP-1069

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-1069 is currently stored at Warehouse [redacted], with appropriate warnings of its effects. No further containment is necessary.

Description: SCP-1069 is a wig mimicking a common men's hairstyle in the seventies. Its only anomalous feature is creating strong homosexual desires in adult men who try it on. In other tests (see Log 1069-217-███), it creates compulsive fear of catching cooties from same-sex peers in underage tests subjects. No further testing is authorized.

Dear Amazon,

A gay wig? Really?

[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Dear Christina Hendricks,

Those amazing curves belong to you, and as such, they can be used to sell anything you feel like selling (at the risk of stating the obvious). That said... Johnny Walker Black? Really? You sell yourself way too short. I'm sure that dozens of purveyors of good whiskey would have been ecstatic to have you on board. Many people have never tried Laphroaig, but they'd take one look at you with a double, and... okay, okay, bad example. Laphroaig is very much a love-it-or-hate-it whiskey, and enough people would hate it that it might damage your future advertizing capital. Highland Park or Dalmore are both much safer, and both still excellent. Yes, they're both more expensive than Johnny Walker Black, but anyone seeing them in an ad with you won't care!

[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
So, there's a show about a guy I'd happily shag, a whole bunch of women who make me completely forget that I'd happily shag the aforementioned guy, and a TV network.

The TV network is the real star of this show. It pairs Mr. Beautiful with each of the Ms. Beautifuls, flies them all over the world, puts them up in lavish hotels, surrounds them with excitement and beauty both natural and man-made, and if they were able to beam the song "Love is in the Air" directly into their heads (and ours), they'd do it in a heartbeat. Mr. Beautiful and one of the Ms. Beautifuls might be in love, really -- but they're also high on romance. Doped to the gills on it, to be honest.

Look, I like romance! No, really! February of each year, I frequently end up buying way too much good chocolate, and drinking too much wine (or vanilla whisky, on a few occasions). I definitely appreciate how candlelight makes me feel like the most beautiful man on the planet (at least until I have to brave normal lighting conditions again). On certain occasions, my love of the fast and brutal gets gently pushed aside in favor of the gorgeous and stringy¹. For that matter, one of the reasons I'm learning to make desserts that involve setting fire to things is for the sake of romance! (The fact that I have a bunch of just-friends who enjoy watching me set fires in their kitchens and eating tasty desserts afterwards is definitely a plus, too.)

I guess, in a way, I'm jealous of those people on TV. I have to put work into romance (in all fairness, the people involved with me put work into it as well), and if we liken romance to a drug, I get the equivalent of a bottle of good wine. These people on TV have nearly all the work done for them, and they're getting the equivalent of a truckload of high-quality heroin. The part of me that really loves that bottle of good wine is a little resentful that the truckload of heroin is forever out of my grasp. I admit it.

The more cynical part of me wonders about the day after. Mr. Beautiful has chosen his Ms. Beautiful, and they get married, happily ever after, blah blah blah. The TV network breaks up with them and moves on to new contestants, a bit like that asshole who moves on to a new lady once he's succeeded in bedding the current one... and I think of how much I hated life for a while after I finally quit meth for the last time. I also can't help thinking that I had many people I thought of as good friends that I only knew in the context of drug use, but once the drugs were no longer in my life, we drifted apart. Or moved apart, because we really didn't know each other at all. Or pushed each other apart, since I was suddenly "no fun anymore."

(For purposes of this post, I am making a whole lot of assumptions, some of which may be completely wrong. For instance, the assumption that it's all real people on The Bachelor, as opposed to characters being played by actors. This may be naive on my part...)

Meanwhile, those of us watching are getting a whole different set of messages. We're being enticed with the truckload of high-quality heroin. We're being told that this kind of thing is only available to the beautiful and perfect-bodied, and don't we wish that were us? (I think I remember seeing ads for Weight Watchers on this show, but since I was at the gym and watching five TVs at once, I confess I may have mixed them up a little.) We're being told that this truckload of heroin is the be-all, end-all of romance, and that we should be willing to spend boatloads of money on it.

I really need to start wearing a blindfold or something when I'm doing cardio at the gym.

    1. It's been a while since I've done one of my "you know this piece of classical music" posts. I need to do another soon, and this piece is definitely one of them.

fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
There is something perverse about watching the show "The Biggest Loser" while at the gym. It's more perverse considering that at that late hour, nearly all of us there were already lean and either burning off a little winter fluff, or maintaining their current lack of winter fluff. It's even more perverse when you consider that the ads on this show were pushing a place called Planet Fitness, a competitor of my current gym. The product placement was probably appropriate -- the audience in this case was not. (As skinny as I am by gymrat standards, I'm pretty sure that my current bench would make me unwelcome at Planet Fitness -- if not, my goals certainly would. And at least half of the people on treadmills at the gym that night were bigger than me.)¹

This was my first exposure to "The Biggest Loser," and I hate it beyond all reason. Not that I believe that encouraging exercise and other healthy habits has no place on TV -- I just don't believe The Biggest Loser does anything to accomplish that. I had great respect for Jack LaLanne. I have great respect for Richard Simmons (the fact that I personally find him grating is irrelevant here). My complaint is that neither Jack LaLanne nor Richard Simmons displayed the level of cruelty you'll see in "The Biggest Loser." The Reality TV format seems to be inherently cruel, and it should never have crossed the streams with a show about weight loss.

Also? I've never tried to lose more than that couple of extra pounds we all gain around the holidays, so I could be wrong here, but... losing twelve pounds in a week strikes me as cause for alarm, not celebration. I feel safe in guessing that at least half of that loss is in water, which is bad for one's health. You know, health? That thing they're supposedly encouraging their contestants to pursue by losing weight? Meanwhile, losing a mere (mere?!) four pounds in a week -- which also strikes me as dangerous, but again, I'm not a dietician -- is cause to be sent home.

I hate this show, and I hate everyone responsible for making it.

    1. Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad places like Planet Fitness exist. I may have pointed out the fear of being judged that many people who aren't already gymrats face at certain gyms, and from what little I've heard, Planet Fitness seems to be a safer space in that regard. The fact remains, however, that from what I've heard, I don't belong there. And neither did most of the other people in the gym with me that night, seeing the ad for it.

fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
The higher-ups of the breastaurant chain Hooters are a little dismayed that women, as a group, aren't willing to spend money at their establishments. This is a little understandable, if not necessarily great: every company around wants people to spend lots of money for what they offer (and indeed, many of them seem quite resentful that they have to offer something of value in exchange for said money). The less understandable part is that they are apparently clueless as to why women, as a group, seem disinclined to give them money.

The fine folks over at Consumerist are much less clueless, and some of them are funny. Even the one clueless comment I saw over there illustrates perfectly the perception that Hooters is the food service equivalent of a man-cave, complete with a badly-penned "NO GIЯLZ ALLOWƐD" sign on the door, and seriously, how many women out there would pay to eat in a place like that? Apparently, not many.

(In all fairness, I should add that I've never been to a Hooters. For all I know, the food is okay, but my current regular eating habits exclude it (as they exclude most restaurants). As for my irregular eating habits... from what I've heard so far, the food at Hooters doesn't rate a Fuzzy Pink Law¹ exception for me to eat it even occasionally. Besides, I see plenty of tits already, and those tits belong to people who want to show them to me, as opposed to people who are probably not getting paid anywhere near enough to semi-display them for drooling idiots.)

    1. Fuzzy Pink's Law is named after Fuzzy Pink, Larry Niven's wife. It can be summed up as "don't waste calories." In a little more detail, for me at least, it's a concession that some food isn't really good for my boyish figure, and if I'm going to eat anything that's bad for my boyish figure, I'm going to damn well enjoy it. For instance, I'll have to do the same amount of extra cardio to burn off either a Hershey bar or a chunk of good chocolate, so if I eat chocolate at all, it's going to be the good stuff.

fierynotes: Picture of Discord. (discord)
I'm leaving very soon to see a friend I haven't yet met. But before I go, I offer two movie trailers for a sci-fi that appears to be about alien forces using marketing to invade our planet. Naturally, this movie had me at "hello." I hope it's done well.

fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
Dear subconscious,

one: going into a store to buy condoms is, I suppose, a nice prelude to a dream. As the entirety of the dream, not so much. Even if the grocery store has an entire aisle devoted to condoms.

Two: condoms with the logo for Tide (a laundry detergent) printed on the wrapper? Really? I suppose that kinda makes sense -- using condoms can help keep your dick clean. Apple condoms are a bit more ridiculous -- I'm sure they'd be very good, but I'm also sure they'd cost twice as much, and about a third of men who use them would from that moment forward think they're better than everyone else for using them. Sony condoms would be low-quality, and if you tried to use them with any lube that wasn't also made by Sony, they'd fall apart... and yet, they'd have no end of rabid fanboys.

Three: thank you for your attention to detail, and for realizing that vanity-sizing happens in condom manufacturing. For instance, in the waking world, Nuvo makes an XXL that doesn't deserve an L, let alone the two Xs in front of it. In the dreaming world, for instance, I was amused that Apple minis and Hummer horse-cocks were the same size. On the other hand, McDonald's Big Macs and Apple Big Macs were very different. The ones in vintage packaging, labeled "Small" in Japanese, were amusing, too -- even if the joke about Japan mass-producing extra-large condoms during WWII and exporting them to China in boxes labeled "Small" is likely older than I am. The clerk handing me a ruler in a sterile wrapper, and then letting me punch my dimensions into a computer so that it could spit out recommendations, was also a nice touch.

Four: I hope that all these brand names just crept into my dreams because I deal with technology all the time (and because I have such a knee-jerk negative response to Hummer). If some marketing asshole finally discovered how to do oneiric product placement, I'm afraid I may have to hunt him down and murder him in his sleep.

[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
Smartphones. Those of us who have them, love them... when we don't hate them. I think of mine as my secondary brain, remembering all the little things that I type in so that I don't have to remember them all myself. It's my camera, it's the internet in my pocket, my way to find places both online and in the real world, and it's more things that I don't know it can be, and it's only waiting for me to realize it. Just lately, I downloaded a metronome app, a stopwatch app, and a Latin-English dictionary app. I also tried an app to track my progress at the gym, but I stopped using it because it was too cumbersome. Perhaps someone who actually goes to a gym should develop an app for that...

Still, as wonderful as smartphones are, they aren't perfect. Everyone who has a smartphone has gotten irritated at it at least once. Apple and Google have been working on the various perceived shortcomings of smartphones for years now... and along comes Microsoft. "The smartphone beta test is over," they promised us (Warning: advert). Every smartphone before now has been imperfect, and we're here to lead you out of the woods with Windows 7. Here: check out the Nokia Lumia! Isn't it amazing?

And less than a month after one of my colleagues at work is crowing about his brand-new Lumia, Microsoft is already talking about the Windows 8 release. And the Lumia won't be able to run it. And any new app that's made for Windows 8 probably won't work on it.

The smartphone beta testing continues... much to my amusement. Hype and marketing continue to be bullshit... much to my complete lack of surprise. But my poor coworker. He's going to be screaming "I just fucking bought this!" the moment he reads the news, if he hasn't already started.
fierynotes: Picture of Tarvek, from Girl Genius, facepalming. (facepalm)
This imaginary conversation between me and an overzealous marketing agent is the sort of thing I write when I finally snap from constant overexposure to whatever overhyped crap is trendy this month.

I am Sam, Sam I am! Please, sir, call me Sam I am!
I have something, yes, hot damn! It's better than green eggs and ham!
It's yogurt, but this stuff is Greek! The French would call it magnifique!
You would love it, don't deny it! All you have to do is try it!

The most delicious thing, by far! You should try it in a car!
It makes for wondrous curried goat! You should eat it on a boat!
With a mouse, or with a fox! You should eat it by the box!
You should eat it on a train! Its creaminess will fill your brain!

This kids tried it, ate a lot, and died, contented, on the spot!
This guy tried it -- what a shock! It gave him such a massive cock!
This girl tried it -- revelations! She solved T.O.E. equations!
These monks tried it -- who'd've thought it? Instant bliss as Buddha taught it!

You should try it, it's not scary! Look who's joined us: Ben and Jerry!
It is yummy, most delicious! Also it is quite nutritious!
You should have an open mind! To fail to try it is unkind!
Try this stuff, says Sam I am! I could be worse! I could send spam!

      "I see it here! I see it there!
      I see it fucking everywhere!
      These damned persisitent salesman freaks!
      Their fucking yogurt made by Greeks!
      And though it might tempt you to brag,
      I'm offering a small white flag:
      If I try this viscous crap,
      will you please shut your fucking yap?"

We will not stop until we drop, and even then we'll never stop!
For when it comes to pushing shit, we simply don't know when to quit!

      "I will not try it, Sam I am!
      I'd rather eat green eggs and ham!
      Your marketing is overdone!
      So how much will I eat, sir? NONE!
      You've gone and truly gravely hurt us!
      Made me hate Ms. Jamie Curtis!
      Sir, your ads are dull and crass!
      Shove your yogurt up your ass!"
fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
Do you ever get the impression that a lot of people who have opinions on a given subject are totally talking out their asses?

I ask because I've been reading up on nutrition, and the results are a little depressing. It seems that a lot of people out there -- people with influence -- think that there's this horrible horrible obesity epidemic, and that it exists because those poor pitiable fat people lack either the willpower to eat "correctly," or the knowledge of what eating "correctly" is. Therefore, all you have to do is teach those people that fat is bad, that knowledge of proper nutrition is good, and we'll all be lean and svelte and pretty and live to be two hundred.

It's a nice idea. Warm and comforting, like a hot bath with lots of bubbles. Imagine, if you will, me standing over that bathtub unbuttoning my pants after having had a dozen beers. (I don't normally drink beer, except for metaphors like this. I don't like the flavor, and if I want to get drunk, there are much more efficient ways to achieve that.)

There's a lot wrong with this idea, in that it ignores the role of genetics, the fact that "willpower" is not exactly a useful concept when it comes to avoiding food that's explicitly designed to appeal to millions of years of instincts, the greater expense of healthy food as we currently know it, the greater time and energy investment of preparing healthy food, the presence of large areas where there's no shortage of convenience stores and McShitholes but no grocery stores, and many other things that would make this run-on sentence even more ridiculous than it already is if I tried to name them all. Seriously, I want to stop and catch my breath just reading that.

But let's ignore all that. Let's pretend that this is purely a problem of education, and that by teaching people how to eat, we can solve this problem.

Let's start small. White bread or whole wheat? Easy one, ain't it? Well... not really. The powers that be have flip-flopped on this one a bit, and notice how whichever kind of bread is worse, it's always those other people who are making it or eating it. You should eat white whole wheat bread. You don't want to be like them, do you?

High Fructose Corn Syrup? Awful, awful stuff. But it's no worse than table sugar, is it? Just as the corn lobby... or any political figure who owes the corn lobby favors.

Fast food will kill you, right? Of course it will -- you've seen Super Size Me, haven't you? Well, you might want to watch Fat Head, too -- there are problems with Spurlock's little experiment. There are problems with both movies, actually. Super Size Me is clearly a hatchet job against the fast food industry, and its motivations are probably social issues, some of them having little to do with health. (Not that social issues aren't worthy in and of themselves -- they are -- but not all social issues are health-related.) Fat Head is clearly resentful of people claiming to know what's best for us, and insists that "free will" is a useful concept when we're all surrounded by billions of dollars in marketing. (Seriously, do you think McShitholes would spend so much money on advertising if it didn't work?)

Is it more important to cut calories altogether, cut carbs, or cut fats? You'll find "experts" who make each of these claims. Butter or margarine? Saturated or unsaturated? We've flip-flopped on that, too. The four food groups, then the food pyramid, and now the current model? There were certainly good reasons to ditch the pyramid (the proportions on it were remarkably like the proportions used by farmers to fatten livestock), but for those of us who remember the way things were, this is easy to mistake for yet more flip-flopping. And let's keep in mind that all of these guides for healthy eating come from the government, which means that there are political factors influencing them. (The dairy lobby would have fought against the exclusion of milk in that new model. Meanwhile, vegetarians objected to its inclusion. Again, social issues as distinct from health issues.)

The BMI? Sure, it's useless (I've been "overweight" for a few years now, and I had to get my doctor to tell my insurance company I don't need to lose twenty pounds), but there are lots of people in medicine who take it seriously, and some who swear it need to be adjusted downward. I like that idea -- it'll mean that I'm four points overweight instead of just two.

Some of these changes are due to the fact that our knowledge of nutrition was never really complete, and as our body of knowledge grows, we need to update our education materials. Still, the fact that it changes allows doubt to creep in, and the fact that it's still not complete and will therefore continue to be changed every now and then doesn't help.

Changing the subject for a bit... when I was in school, I learned that drugs were bad. If you so much as smoked one joint, you'd end up on a rollercoaster to Hell that would end with you homeless in a gutter sucking tar heroin off a dead man's unmentionables, with ten horribly deformed children you can't afford to feed, and they'll all suffer, and you'll suffer, and it'll be all your fault because you smoked a joint. Don't smoke joints. When I discovered that this was all bullshit, I tried pot. Then PCP. Then, years later, meth. It's possible that I would have tried drugs anyway if I'd been surrounded by actual education instead of propaganda, but the propaganda didn't help -- I was in fact emboldened by the knowledge that the propaganda was bullshit. And let's not forget that alcohol and tobacco are both in on the War on (Some) Drugs.

Surrounded by a bunch of information, some of it bullshit, and nearly all of it produced with motives that go beyond simple nutrition, we're all in that same position. We're all surrounded by noise. And if you're fat, you hear more noise than if you're not. And even if you try to get good information out there, it's still going to contribute to the overall impression of being surrounded by noise.

My solution is a simple one in theory -- get all the people who don't know what they're talking about, or who do know and are still spouting bullshit, to shut the fuck up. In related news, who wants to put the bell on that cat?
fierynotes: Picture of Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, from Girl Genius.  He looks tired. (tired)
This needs to be said. And in spite of my awareness that it needs to be said, I could never say it in a million years, and if I tried, I couldn't approach the job that Jean Kilbourne has done on it.

(Most of the focus is on women. Still, it's starting to get aimed at men too, and yes, she addresses this.)
fierynotes: Picture of Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, from Girl Genius.  He looks tired. (tired)
(Note: this post wants to be about psychology when it grows up. Unfortunately, I don't quite have the background to do it properly. I'll do the best I can with the tools I have, but I'm bound to make mistakes.)

We are all manipulated every day. As human beings, we have a wide variety of switches and levers factory-installed in our brains, and there are entire industries that exist to flip those switches and pull those levers to achieve various ends. Usually, it's not for our benefit.

I've written about this before. I'm written about the methods of pick-up artists, and how these methods are used by organizations ranging from advertisers to churches. I've written about how the music industry manufactures performers like Taylor Swift¹ by creating an image that a given demographic can easily connect with. Hell, my previous post, for all the clusterfuck it turned into, was about this kind of manipulation².

All these kinds of manipulation, and many more kinds, use our own existing mental attributes against us. The pick-up artist appeals to our existing need for the approval of others. Taylor Swift appeals to our existing need to connect to other human beings who understand us. Mass-marketed food appeals to our existing needs for salt, carbs and fat. All of these needs exist. They make us human. We are never going to conquer these needs, short of putting ourselves in metal shells and shouting "delete, delete, delete" as we fly across the universe.

Nor should we try to. Every good teacher you've had has made you want their approval, and then made you earn it -- if your parents were good ones, they did the same thing. No artist becomes a great artist just because their technique is flawless and their brushstrokes are pretty -- they are a great artist because their creations speak to the human heart. And just as McShitholes is trying to pull those three levers in your brain, your beloved grandmother's most special recipe -- be it borsht, lasagne, or a holiday roast -- probably pulls those same levers as well.

Still, it's good to recognize the tools when they're being used, especially when they're being used by someone who is using those tools to try to separate you from your money, or someone who benefits to your detriment from the status quo and is using these tools to preserve it. I'd like more science in general to be more in the hands of ordinary, everyday people... but if psychology were in the hands of ordinary, everyday people, the world would likely change very quickly.

To this end, I'm going to go through my old posts and add a psychology tag to certain ones. More importantly, whenever I see a post by someone who addresses some way that psychology is used against people (or a subset of people -- I fully expect that race, sex, orientation, and many other spectra that we use to divide ourselves will come into play here), I intend to link to it. If any of you see a well-written post that fulfills these criteria, send me a link -- I can't be everywhere, I can't see everything, and because of my own position on those spectra, there are things that I may not see without having them pointed out. If I get a lot of such links, I reserve the right to save several of them up and link to them all in one post.

    1. As much as Taylor Swift annoys me, I don't want to single her out. In ten years, she'll be a memory, and the machinery that put her on the pop charts will have new pretty faces putting out the same musical pabulum. After all, before she was a name, there was N'Sync. Before N'Sync, there was NKOTB. Before NKOTB, there were the Monkees and the Beatles. And before you start thinking that only lite pop has this kind of machinery behind it, look at how well Gene Simmons has marketed himself over the years, or how many times you've heard a rap or hip-hop performer mention their own name in a song. Whether you're talking about the Kiss Army or Juggalos, it's still all about creating brand loyalty.

    2. As I said in that post, it's easy to criticize Paula Deen. Too easy, really. In ten years, as with Taylor Swift, the machinery that put her in the spotlight will still be up and running, same as it is now. Whether Paula Deen will still be one of the public faces of said machinery is anyone's guess, but the machinery existed before she had a show, and it will exist long after her final expisode, no matter when that is.

fierynotes: Picture of Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, from Girl Genius.  He looks tired. (tired)
So, I've been watching a lot of Paula Deen's video's lately... and you have a good idea where this is going already, don't you? Well, maybe.

Before I proceed, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am discussing food, not body shape. If Paula Deen's food is bad for you, it's bad for you -- period. It does not suddenly become healthy if the person eating it has a six-pack instead of a keg, and the decision to eat it is not any healthier if the person making the decision to eat it has a six-pack instead of a keg. I haven't used this journal to attack anyone for being fat up to this point, and I'm not going to start now. (Unless Chris Shugart (here on LJ, here on DW) suddenly gets fat, in which case I will mock him mercilessly... but since Shugart is an orthorexic asshole who treats fat people with contempt on his website so that they'll feel pressured to buy high-priced supplements, I'll hope that my motives for ragging on him clearly go beyond just him being fat.)

We, as humans, all have these three little lights in our brains that go off when we eat certain foods, labeled "fat," "salt," and "carbs." Way back in human history, these lights kept us alive. Now, we have to use "willpower" to keep them from slowly killing us. I put "willpower" in quotes because those three lights represent instincts that have driven us for millions of years, and the idea that we now need to resist those lights is a fairly new one by evolutionary standards. "Willpower" is not necessarily a useful concept here, any more than it's necessarily useful to expect teenagers to resist trying to trigger that other big light in our brains labeled "orgasms." Sure, you can "expect" it. You can "expect" the sun to glow bright green on Saint Patrick's Day, too. In either case, the real world doesn't give a shit about your expectations.

The amount of power these lights have over us vary by person. For instance, the friend who explained these lights to me in pretty sure that my fat light is defective, or at least miswired -- I'm mostly immune to the charms of bacon and butter. (When I made Crepe Suzette a while back, I used more butter in that one dish than I normally consume in a month.) It's possible my "salt" light is miswired as well. In other words, I'm a mutant.

A million years ago, my indifference (and frequent revulsion) to fats would have meant I'd likely starve to death. These days, my particular mutations are not only not a death sentence, but confer social advantages... but this represents a sea change in our culture and our society, not in our brains. Our brains haven't really changed much. (Just don't tell the Evo-Psych crowd I'm agreeing with their initial premise. I don't want those assholes thinking I agree with the rest of their bullshit.)

Which brings me to why I'm watching Paula Deen make things like Macaroni in a Lake of Cheese, Deep-Fried Cheesecake, and Donut Egg and Bacon Burgers, and why I'm reading her Deep-Fried Butter Balls recipe. I suspect Paula Deen is, like me, a mutant... but in the other direction. Where most people have light bulbs in their brains, and I have one light bulb and a couple of tiny LEDs, Paula Deen has enough neon tubing in her brain to light a street in Las Vegas.

This only explains her cooking -- not the fact that she has a show. It's easy to make fun of Paula Deen's cooking for how it hammers the fuck out of all three of those lights -- it's not so much shooting fish in a barrel as dropping a nuke on a goldfish bowl. Hell, the only show I can think of that's worse is Epic Meal Time, and their whole point of that show is excess for its own sake. But she's far from alone. Most fast food places consider salt, fat, and carbs to be the Three Food Groups. In many restaurants, you could make a drinking game of how many times the words "bacon" or "cheese" can be found on the menu, but you'd have to have a death wish to actually play it. In the frozen and convenient food sections of any grocery store, you'll see the same thing. This food sells, because we humans have those little lights in our heads. Companies make this food because it sells, and if they can make food sell better by hammering those lights harder, they will. If we become unhealthy, and some of us die, as a result of all this? As far as they're concerned, that's our problem, and their problem is only that the handful of people making these decisions, despite being stinking rich, aren't rich enough.

We, as human beings, really need to learn how our brains work. Right now, that knowledge is in the hands of a small percentage of us, who usually use it to exploit the rest of us. If we all understood how these strings pulled at us, we might have a faint hope of resisting them. Not that we'll ever be truly free of these strings, since every good cook alive pulls on them as well, but we can try. (And if you hadn't guessed, I'm no longer talking just about food marketing.)

Unfortunately, it's not really in the interests of anyone with the resources to educate us all about these strings to actually do so. So, we have to do it ourselves... despite the fact that most of us lack the tools.

Ugh. That's depressing. I'm going to watch Powerpuff Girls or My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for a bit to try to cheer up.
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Picture two guys on a beach in shorts, without shirts: one of them with a bit of a gut, and one of them an obviously devoted gymrat. Paunchy is holding a sugary soft drink, and Muscles is holding a diet soft drink. Paunchy is is giving Muscles shit over his choice of drinks: "I'm revoking your man card, you're so obsessive about your girlish figure, what are you queer, and hey, only women drink diet soda!" In response to that line that only women drink diet soda, Muscles says "not anymore," and grins wolfishly as a couple of conventionally attractive women look him over, clearly like what they see, and drag him offscreen. In his eagerness to be dragged offscreen, Muscles drops his diet soft drink. As he departs, the camera first closes in on Paunchy's no-doubt-comical facial expression, then on the diet soft drink, which has conveniently landed right-side-up in the sand, with the label facing the camera. Add voiceovers, then fade to black. Or alternatively, Muscles can respond to Paunchy's insults with equal rudeness -- "look at the shape I'm in, and look at the shape you're in" with a pointed glance at Paunchy's belly -- and then hold the bottle with the label facing the camera, where the camera can get the bottle and his abs all in one shot.

Yes, this hypothetical advert is almost as panderingly douche-tastic as the existing diet drink marketing. It's marketing. Douchebaggery kinda comes with the territory. Dr. Pepper is marketing its diet soft drink as suitable for male action stars (and therefore not for women), and some beer company whose name I forget is marketing its insipid piss-water as suitable for men who've done something unmanly and need to redeem themselves in the eyes of their asshole friends. This one I just came up with also uses some ugly marketing tropes: for instance the implication that you're totally unfuckable, but hey, you should buy our product and it will make you fuckable!

In my defense, though, women are told every day that they could be fuckable if they just do this one thing. And this one other thing. And this one other other thing. And these couple dozen things, and dear gods, woman, you're so hideous, how do you summon the courage to even leave the house looking like that? For the most part, men ignore it because for it's not generally aimed at men, and women have to at least try to ignore it, but it's everywhere. It's background radiation -- most women can't really just ignore it, at least not with much degree of success.

My ad would hopefully be a comment on this sort of advertising, and a way to make it clear to men what women put up with all the time -- possibly with a hint of "just think, guys, what if this sort of shit were directed at you all the time?" Unfortunately, I'm sure that any ad agency that used my idea would end up turning it into just another Axe Body Spray ad, and all the subtle commentary I'd intended to include would end up being filtered out.

And on this note, I have a confession to make. )
fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
Dear Purveyors of Insipid Piss-Water on TV,

One: any given big company -- for instance, one that sells insipid piss-water -- does not get to decide whether I'm a man or not, and I will not buy anything made by any company that thinks differently. Especially if their product is insipid piss-water.

Two: my male friends, much as I love them, do not get to decide whether I'm a man or not. If any of my male friends take it into their head that they get to decide whether I'm a man or not, I won't try to appease them -- I'll get better male friends.

Three: my female friends, much as I love them, likewise do not get to decide whether I'm a man or not. Years ago, I may have made an exception for them and offered to demonstrate my manhood for them privately... but these days, I feel less compelled to prove shit like that, and as with male friends above, I'll simply find better friends.

Four: can you really not think of any reason that two or more men might want to go to the bathroom together? Granted, it's been years since I invited a male friend to join me in the bathroom, but back when I was doing meth, I did it regularly. After all, one doesn't say "hey, I'm chopping a line, who wants one?" in public unless one wants to know what the inside of a police car looks like.

Five: did I mention your ad campaign sucks, your product sucks, and I won't ever buy anything from you?

[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
Old Spice has a good thing going right now. They have Isaiah Mustafa in a wildly successful ad campaign, a fond recreation of their ads with Grover from Sesame Street, and another fond recreation with Chthulhu.

Axe has... well, none of those things. It has skinny emo boys with bad haircuts and an absolutely douche-tastic campaign that implies that their product will make women helpless to resist any man who wears it. (I have yet to hear a woman say that she actually likes Axe. Judging from my limited exposure to it, I think it smells like a mix of urines from various exotic and/or imaginary animals, so I doubt I ever will hear from a woman who likes Axe.) Between the smell and the ad campaign, Axe has become a way for total douchebags to identify themselves to each other in the wild.

And now, Axe is aware that their rival's ad campaign is getting them results. So what do they do?


Good one, idiots.

(Found on Consumerist. The comments are great. There are a few idiots bitching about objectifying men -- it's not the same thing and you damned well ought to know it -- and one idiot who uses it at the gym, but most of the people in this thread are funny.)

(Post title is a reference to this scene from a really idiotic sitcom.)
fierynotes: Picture of Jerry Springer surrounded by the flames of Hell, with the caption 'What the fucking fucking fuck?' (wft)
The last video I posted was amazingly gory. So is this one. You can read all about it here. It's a little piece I like to call "How NOT to do Environmental Activism."

On the other hand, I would love to have one of those buttons, as long as I could recalibrate it for other kinds of targets. Of course, this means I should never be allowed anywhere near one...!


fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)


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