Sunday, July 5, 2015

Miscellaneous Complaints

I was going to write a few separate posts on various matters that are bothering me, but decided instead to just post them all as short sound bites in this single post. So, without any additional introduction, let me offer my complaints for the day.


I was lstening today to the progress on nuclear talks with iran, and was reminded that back in the Bush administration, the experts on foreign policy all told us Bush was a cretin for pretending Iran had a nuclear weapons program. Yet, even now that it is frighteningly clear they were pursuing nuclear weapons, we rely on those same nominal experts, forgetting how they either completely misread the situation which was obvious to everyone else, or else allowed their politics to taint their analysis. In either case, why have there not been massive changes in Foggy Bottom thanks to this fiasco?


When I brought this up, my mother made some offhand comment about the WMDs in Iraq. That too made me wince, since we found over 500 rounds loaded with various chemicals, numerous "agricultural chemicals" that were also chemical weapon precursors (and stored in bunkers on military sites), and much besides, and yet, to this day, the world still thinks there were no WMDs. How many decades will it take before someone notices we found a whole lot of WMDs that were happily explained away by a news media with a definite agenda?


On vacation, I was assaulted by dozens of horrid anti-smoking commercials. Now, I may be a bit annoyed that the multi-state settlement forced tobacco companies to advertise against their own product (what other company is forced to run down its own product at its own cost?) but that is not my complaint here. First, I am a bit offended at the attempt to use the ugly disfigurements of disabled people to "make a point", but even more, I am upset at the use of the most unlikely consequences of smoking, in ads which treat them as inevitable. For example, stomach and colon cancer from smoking is about as likely as the same from eating beef. Similarly, the circulatory issues mentioned, the amputation fo extremities and the like are also incredibly rare consequences. Outside of respiratory and cardiac issues, the only real consequences from smoking are mostly dental. Sadly, for advertisers anyway, these leave no "interesting" disfigurements, so instead they concentrate on really unlikely consequences, making terribly misleading ads.

In one way, I think this might backfire. Just as those horrible drug movies in high school failed to get their point across by making their message so over the top that everyone laughed rather than listened, by exaggerating incredibly unlikely consequences, these ads may also fail to make an impact.

The other thing that struck me when seeing these ads is how much we have made smokers into villains. Given the unlikely consequences they pointed out, we could make equally horrible ads for almost any activity. Show promiscuous people with their faces rotted by syphilis, or emaciated by AIDS. Show drivers with brain damage from collisions, or limbs lost in accidents. Why any activity could support a combination freak and horror show of this kind given the relatively remote risks they highlight in these ads.

In short, disgusting ads with misleading messages which highlight how much we have come to treat smokers as something less than human.


I was also thinking this weekend about how strange we are when it comes to alcohol. My hotel had a poolside bar, which also abutted on the Ocean City boardwalk. As a result, people could sit at tables a foot from the boardwalk itself and drink. However, the law said that, should they carry that drink onto the boardwalk, they would commit a crime. This one has always puzzled me, the laws against "drinking in public", which somehow exclude from "public" sidewalk cafes, front yards, sports arena, open air festivals and a host of other venues. It all makes so little sense. Either public drinking causes problems (though I doubt it), or it doesn't. Yet the law says it causes trouble, except in a few hundred excepted places. I can't figure it out. It all seems to be so inconsistent and simply absurd, especially after visiting nations where alcohol is not so strictly regulated, yet which seem to have no additional issues with public intoxication.


There are probably a few things I forgot, or about which I might write later (such as the ban on smoking on beaches in Ocean City MD, not quite as absurd as the ban in Camden Yards, less than a mile from a garbage incinerator, but still worthy of comment), but for now, I shall sign off here. As I wrote earlier this weekend, I will try my best to finish off a few of my outstanding posts today, or, if not, during the following week.

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