Archive for December, 2010

Rain Causes Cancer!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

… But Only In California

Even rain water cannot meet California’s proposed limits on hexavalent chromium ( aka chromium-6, Cr(VI), “Erin Brockovich Chemical” ).   The .06 ppb ( part per billion ) limit is more stringent that the .08 ppb actually present in rainwater.  ( See Kieber et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2002, 36 (24), pp 5321–5327 )  In fact, certain areas have rainwater which greatly exceed the the proposed standard, with 10 to 30 times higher concentrations.

Let the Enviro-Scare Begin

In the shadow of California’s announcement, various environmental groups and the Water Purification Industrial Complex have jumped on the bandwagon.   The EWG’s report makes it sounds as if most municipal water supplies are unsafe, cause cancer, and so on.   They disclose their bias with the cover of the report:

From this pipe, to your baby's sippy cup.

And on the landing page for their chromium web site:

"You may already be dead!"

But read the report.    With the exception of Norman, OK the highest levels detected were within 10 times the amount found in rain water.   So if this is such a ghastly toxin, its practically everywhere in comparable amounts.   If its in the rain, its in your vegetable garden.


I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Change is Difficult

And the Attachmate – Novell merger is no exception.   There are two types of people who will emerge from this transaction.   The first is those searching for relevance in a changing environment:

One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

And the second being the rest of us, who hope that out of the chaos will emerge a vendor I still want to do business with, offering product I want to buy.   Or an an employee, to survive potential bloodshed, strife, and uncertainty.    Attachmate, playing the role of the ants, provided us with a glimpse of the future, in so much as is possible prior to “the close of the transaction.”


Outrageous, and Oddly Specific Fortunes

Monday, December 13th, 2010

After an exhausting day of Christmas preparations, we went to our local Chinese Buffet for lunch.   Of course when the bill came, it was 60% higher than we have ever seen.  To enhance their customer’s experience, they made Sunday “Dinner All Day, Day” and so instead of the usual $8 or adults and $4 for kids, it was more like $13 and $7.   So after that little Ancient Chinese Secret spoiled the meal, I popped open my fortune cookie and got this:

Its like they know me.

I felt pretty stupid overpaying, that’s for sure.  But to have it confirmed in writing is entirely different.  The best part of the fortune is its ominous and universal nature.   The Greatest Danger… compared to cancer, global warming, nuclear winter… could be my stupidity.    Cool!

Pigeon Superstition and Myth Marketing

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

B. F. Skinner - Thinking In The Box

Psychologists call a non-causal belief that an action leads to a reward a “pigeon superstition.”  The birds can be so suggestible that the last thing happening at the moment of a favorable outcome is strongly associated with the outcome.  If the bird was standing on one leg, cooing, flapping its wings, and accidentally food appears, it will repeat that behavior over and over assuming the action caused the reward.

Since the bird is now engaged in these behaviors more often, the random event of food appearing will eventually coincide with the ritual – reinforcing the association.  Eventually the bird is convinced that only the dance brings the food.

Corporations develop their own marketing rituals.    And evolve belief systems which can lead to a situation where the products and customers are less important that the act of marketing itself.   But without measurable performance criteria, it cannot be known if a good outcome is strategy or accident.