Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jim Carey, Charlton Heston and Fox News

Jim Carrey got himself into some hot water on Fox News.  From what I understand, he made a spoof country-music video about guns.  In this video, one "funny" joke was that Charlton Heston couldn't get into heaven because St. Peter could not pry the gun from his "cold, dead hands".  (and I guess we are to assume Heaven has a "check your guns at the door" policy, also funny)

To some people, this is humour.  But to Fox News, apparently this video is not funny.  So they accused Jim Carrey of being a meddling foreigner, who is getting into the gun debate.  By foreigner, of course they mean he was born in Canada.

It seems this whole idea of being "born in the USA" is starting to become a central idea in the Republican propaganda.  I'm not sure why they have taken this stance, as some conservatives happen to be foreign born also.  (just one off the top of my head, was Senator McCain who ran for President opposite Barack Obama in 2008).

Anyway, coming back to Jim Carrey. He made a Youtube video which is equally accessible to all countries. (I think)  Anyway, I saw it in Canada, and I'm Canadian.  So I assume it was not targeted to the USA exclusively, as this video was funny to me, and we do have our own gun debate in Canada.  Our gun debate is pretty much the same as the USA, with gun nuts claiming to never give up their guns until we pry them from their cold dead hands.

In the final analysis, Jim Carrey made a video for the US website "Funny or Die", and it is available on the world wide web. It's really a low blow to accuse him of being born in Canada, especially since this video is equally available to Canadians and Americans, and applies equally to both.  Technically, I could have made the very same video, and put it up on Youtube.  Does that mean I would be accused by Fox News of being a "foreigner" and interfering in US politics?

In a related note, the Republicans are quite annoyed to find out that Ronald Reagan was in favour of universal background checks for gun owners.  Seems quite natural, as he was a victim of a shooting himself.

Picture: Charlton Heston's gun collection. Go ahead and click on the picture, in case you need a blow-up (not literally of course).  Could somebody who needs that many guns really be happy in heaven?

P.S. Would it cancel Jim Carrey's video if a Canadian-born actor came in on the other side of the gun debate?  Here is William Shatner on why we should not have gun control

I think that evens things up.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Social Consequences of the Theory of Evolution

There will be gradual changes to the broader civilization as we move away from the religious ideas of biblical Creationism and toward scientific ideas of Evolution.

The Bible has a story of creation that you can believe literally, or allegorically.  Either way it has the power to influence our behaviour. To begin with, it tells us that Men are the dominant sex, and that women were an afterthought, taken from man.  Also, man was created by God in the image of God, once again giving us the idea that men are more important than women.

Another aspect of the creation story is that Man is different from all other animals. In the the story of creation, only man was made in the image of God.  All the other creatures were crafted to look different from God. We are also to understand that Man's morality comes from God, as told in the story of Adam and Eve.  Furthermore we are told that man actually has no innate morality, and is born a natural sinner who needs to obey God, or will suffer punishment.

There are a few other ramifications to this religious story.  It becomes easy to believe that God prefers men to women, and it is also a small step further to believe that one type of man is preferred over other types of men. For example, white men over black men.*   And there is also a very strong support that whoever believes in the "true" Biblical account has the support of God, and anyone of a different faith should be converted or enslaved or killed.
* Although it is not specifically stated in the Bible, white people seem to believe that God is also white.  I can't really prove that of course, but just how many movies, paintings, drawings, have to be made before it's quite clear?

Now what happens to a civilization that is based on such a story of creation, when it finds out that humans were not directly created by God?  That maybe we are not so different from the animals.  Does it mean that now we have no morals any more?  That there is no punishment for being bad?  That our culture and race have no claim to a god-given superiority over any other culture, race, or religion?  That we can't even insist that men are superior to women?

Some people, without fear of a magical all-seeing being overhead, may get a little (or a lot) crazy.  For the vast majority of people, though, I think we will gradually find out that is was not really religion that was stopping them from becoming mass murderers, it was something else built deep inside the human brain.  You can say God put it there, if you wish,or that it evolved that way if you are more scientific.

If you need some proof of this, you should look at animals more closely.  You will notice that animals are capable of kindness.  But you do have to look carefully, as animals, of course do not have exactly the same sense of morality as humans.  But nature is full of heartwarming stories of animals doing good.  And human history has enough examples of religiously motivated people doing unspeakable evil.

Can we predict what will happen to individuals and societies as these scientific ideas spread?  I suspect that we may indeed have more killings and bad behaviours, but I think it is tied more to increasing populations, and new technologies facilitating mass murder, and greater access to information.  I suspect that there is not much real difference in the amount of bad behaviour today or in the future, from what there was a thousand years ago.  No matter what desperate religious conservatives have to say on that subject.  (for example blaming Darwin and the evolution of species for the Nazi holocaust)

But as these ideas of science spread, we will probably find that there will be less religious conflict in the future.  Much more freedom of religion and free thinking.  More equality between women and men.  Less racism.  More kindness to animals, and possibly more care for the natural environment.  Fewer missionaries trying to convert people.  And not a whole lot of difference in average levels of cruelty and violence in society- because it seems more and more apparent, that good and kind behaviour never was a function of religion alone.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Take a Peek: The Weather from One Year Ago

Here are the daily high and low temperatures for Kitchener, this time last year from March 14, 2012 to March 23, 2012.

This was taken from the weather network

From looking at the temperatures, most people would never guess that it's the same geographic location, one year apart.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Modern Waterproofing Technology for Dummies

One more area of technology that is not so simple any more is waterproofing.

The first thing to understand is that "waterproof" does not mean what it used to mean.  It used to mean "water will not get through this material, ever". Unless you tore the material, or unless the water came in through the open neck or cuff, or front zipper.  It was not completely idiot-proof, but the idea had remained the same for hundreds if not thousands of years, so the human mind could grasp it.

Today, we still have that type of old-fashioned waterproofing, in plastic material.  You can also get it in fiber material (cotton, or man made fibers) if the material is treated with oils, waxes, or tar.  Rock and steel can be  waterproof too, but we rarely make waterproof clothing out of them.

In the good old days, if you wanted to go for a walk or ride in the rain, you put "waterproof" clothing over your other clothing, and went out in the rain. If you still got wet, you at least had a chance to understand why.

So what technology do we have today to make our lives more complicated?  Now we have a new type of material called "waterproof breathable".  The problem with the old fashioned "waterproof" was that it did not breathe, meaning that if you didn't take it off when the rain let up, you would quickly be soaked in water condensing on the inside of the garment, and almost as uncomfortable as if you had simply let the rain hit your normal clothes (which were breathable).

Unfortunately "waterproof breathable" is often called "waterproof", which obviously is the first step in the road to confusion.  Actually, something that is breathable is never truly "waterproof" in the old sense of the word.  Because if you add enough pressure to the water, it will get through a "waterproof breathable" material.  Also, the level of waterproofing decreases with time, so as you get the material dirty, or wash it, the amount of pressure required is reduced.  In a relatively short time (say one season), the waterproof pressure may be so low that rain hitting your jacket at 50 kph can be enough pressure to get through.  Or even just falling rain.

Understanding how this can happen may help you stay dry, but it's complicated.  So I'm going to skip all the mathematical formulas that I don't understand anyway, and say it's due to some kind of magnetic repellency.  In other words, some materials repel water (or vice versa), and other materials attract water.  Some repel really strongly, other weakly.  So your breathable garment is either made of woven fibers that naturally repel water (rare), or the fibers of cotton, polyester, leather etc. are coated with a material that repels water.  These water-repelling substances are called "hydrophobic" which means they are scared of water, or water is scared of them, I'm not sure which.  But you will see water ball up and roll away on a very hydrophobic material, just as though it had seen a ghost.

About ten years ago, there was a spray called Scotchguard that would make ordinary fabrics waterproof-breathable.  It apparently has been withdrawn from the market.  The maker decided that it did not biodegrade in a safe manner, and so stopped promoting and selling it.  The leading sellers of waterproof breathable today are Gore-tex and Nikwax. (and others like them)  I guess their formulas are secret or something, so I don't know any more about them.  Goretex is a specially woven material, which apparently is treated or embedded with hydrophobic material, and the Gore-tex layer is sewed into the garment.  So you probably cannot add Gore-tex to a given garment after it is manufactured.

Nikwax is a spray on, or wash-in material that will work on ordinary non-waterproof fabrics.  For example, Nikwax can work on a polyester shell, ordinary leather boots and gloves, or a pair of cotton jeans, down feathers, or even a paper map.  Now some of these fabrics are not very waterproof to start with, like cotton.  So when you treat a pair of jeans with Nik-wax (even using the proper procedure), they will not be truly waterproof.  But they will not absorb water anywhere near as quickly, and they will dry out faster than natural cotton.  Nikwax is more waterproof on materials that have some degree of natural waterproofing already (like tight weave, or small spaces)

One neat feature of Nikwax is that it is water-based, not oil based.  So it smells better, and feels better when dry.  It's easier to clean and less toxic, much like water based paint vs. oil based paint.

Nikwax has developed a whole range of products that can be quite bewildering, and make you suspect this is all a scam to get more money.  It's not a complete scam as you can actually see that the water will bead up and run off your jeans or boots, for example.  But in the real world, if you are riding in a rainstorm on the 401 with only Nikwaxed jeans, you will get wet.  Also, this treatment wears off quite fast, so you may treat your jeans, then never encounter a rain storm before it wears off, which can happen if you need to wash them again.

Picture: An insect walking on water using hydrophobic feet.  This is not a trick or a miracle, I'm sure you have seen this on many ponds in the summer.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Long Way Round: My Second Review

Since my first viewing of "The Long Way Round", Mary Ann and I have gone on a trip together to B.C.  The picture is our first night camping last summer.  Now might be a good time for a re-review of "The Long Way Round", which helped inspire aspects of our trip.

These days, just getting my motorcycle to the end of our street is a chore.  We're having a colder than normal wave of weather over southern Ontario right now, and once again I'm itching to get out on my bike.  To make matters worse, I've caught a cold and don't I want to go out at all, on foot or in a car.

So with Mary Ann away visiting her aunt for a couple of days, I dragged out the old DVD "The Long Way Round" with Ewan MacGregor and Charley Boorman.  I've seen it already, twice I think. Although I rarely like to watch movies more than once, I can make an exception for motorcycles.

I have not finished going through it yet. Yesterday I got as far as the "Road of Bones" in a marathon session.  But I will confess to taking a few short cuts over the bits I am not too fond of. I might as well list them here.  I fast-forwarded the wrestling, the gasoline in the eye, the naked massage, the eating of the animal's testicular parts, and some scenes of the orphanages.  That doesn't mean I'm heartless, or squeamish... or does it?  Anyway I was sick, and I had a lot of time to kill, and I can't ride my bike, and this video managed to make me forget all those things even though it's the third time through some of it.

To break up my TV watching, I checked up on reviews on the internet.  I can't agree with some of the strongest criticism.  Namely, that these are spoiled rich and famous guys getting free stuff, taking a nice vacation with fully staffed and equipped support vehicles, and they were still whining endlessly about everything, and anyone could do it.  On top of it all, they are accused of rushing through the countries they visit, barely seeing anything or talking to anyone along the way.  That is not my criticism, but it seemed to be a theme on the negative internet reviews.  (I should mention there were many more positive reviews.)

This quote is from  (Hearts and Tears Motorcycle CLub, Pokhara Nepal) starts off with

The Long Way Round has been a blessing and a curse. Sure, it has created interest in adventure riding, but the programme gave a melodramatic impression of life on the road. Millionaire BMW salesman (and actor) Ewan McGregor had free bikes and equipment, an office full of support staff, a back-up truck for mechanics and groupies, and diplomatic contacts to smooth the way. The Wrong Way Round perhaps?
This is a relatively mild criticism.

You know what? I think I like to hear Ewan and Charley complaining.  Hey, I do enough complaining myself, so I can tell some genuine heartfelt complaining when I hear it.  It seemed to ring true, and also often had an element of humour thrown in.  To me it is not realistic to hear just the happy stuff on a trip that includes Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine.  I think Ewan and Charley made a good choice to complain on camera when they were feeling down, and the production crew were right to leave that much of it in the final cut.  (I'm sure some was edited out or even I probably couldn't have got through it.)  The things they complained about seemed all pretty real, and things that anyone might encounter.  Well, what about complaining about all the adoring attention they got in Kazakhstan then?  They were given police escorts, treated like celebrities, weren't they?  Actually, think about it for a minute.  The alternative to being treated like a celebrity is to be blocked at the border and get turned away. The alternative to a constant police escort is to have any car come beside you on the road and point a gun at you.  That was a tough place to get through, no matter who you are.  They also were being held up at endless formal ceremonies and performances when they were tired - we never got to see all those performances because it would be too much even for us TV watching couch potatoes to live through.  So I'm going to cut Ewan some slack there and agree that Kazakhstan could have been more interesting if it was a safe country that they could have travelled through on their own. It seemed like a vast majority of people would have been genuinely warm and welcoming.

And what about some of the sharper Internet attacks?  In one case it was by a KTM rider - OK I understand that, the KTM incident in episode one did not look good for the KTM company.  In another case it was by a fan of fantasy films like "Lord of the Rings".  I think anyone who really really likes Lord of the Rings, while directing sharp barbs at "The Long Way Round", should probably stick to more fantasy films. I think most people who have actually ridden a motorcycle (other than a KTM) should be at least able to sympathise a little with Ewan and Charley's difficulties.

Speaking of Kazakhstan, I find it kind of remarkable that Ewan and Charley made the entire round the world trip without a gun for self defence, while many Americans insist that you can't even go to the corner store or sleep in your bed without a firearm.  Actually, remarkable might be the wrong word, if remarkable means "strange or unusual".  But remarkable means to me "Something worth taking note of".  Actually, Ewan and Charley also did "The Long Way Down" through Africa without guns for self defence.  And it rings true with me, as I rode in Africa for a couple of years without a gun, I have done a bit of riding in Mexico, and lots of places in Canada and the USA with no gun. Except for one incident where someone pulled a gun on Ewan and Charley briefly, there was no need for guns. (And there has not been a need for me yet either) And even that incident in Kazakhstan would not have been made any safer with a gun, unless they were ready  to pull their own guns and kill everyone in the offending car.  But Ewan and Charley did nothing, the gun was put away and the car drove off.  So I score one point for a gun-free defence.

Those who accuse Ewan of being a "coddled" millionaire movie star, really need to take a look at their own "coddled" lives.  Chances are, they  can afford a bike (maybe three or four), and enough food to eat, and have a secure home.  If so, they are effectively just as coddled as Ewan, compared to 2/3 of the world.  And I think Ewan and Charley did a good thing to bring up the plight of orphans in their travel documentary.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Self Defence With Guns Lesson 2: Be Prepared

This is lesson 2 in the Public Service education series "How to defend yourself with a gun".  To recap lesson 1, in brief "Do not threaten to shoot people with your gun unless they are actually trying to kill you in the extremely near future."

Now for lesson 2, how to defend yourself with a gun:  "Be Prepared".  In this lesson, I am going to assume the worst is about to happen.  One or more men armed with assault rifles and handguns are planning to burst into your home or car, or maybe just attack you on the street in order to kill you and take your money and your women.  These men are clever, good shooters, and have the element of surprise.

Given the scenario above, how do you prepare yourself?  I'm not talking about learning to aim correctly, that's lesson 3.  In this lesson we are going to learn how to have your guns at the ready at all time.  The strategy is based on the fact that you will have only 4 seconds advanced warning between detecting the attackers and getting your gun out, with a full clip, pointing in the correct direction.

Preparedness starts while you are asleep.  You should have a loaded handgun under your pillow at all time, but don't place your finger on the trigger.  That will come when you are awakened from your sleep by several armed men breaking in through your window with the intent to kill you, and more.

Next, time to wake up.  Depending on your morning ritual, you will probably be in the bathroom at some point.  Make sure the door is locked, and keep the gun loaded and ready at all times, except don't take it into the shower with you unless it is waterproof.  If you are on the toilet, I suggest placing the gun on a nearby shelf.

I am going to assume you can at least wear a quick draw holster with a loaded handgun when eating, driving, or at work.  Some problems will arise if you are involved in sports such as water polo, speed skating, and dog racing.  Actually, let's just include every sport known to man except jogging.  For jogging, you can actually wear the holster. But for other sports like water polo, you will need to disarm for a while.  I suggest a buddy system.  Find another gun aficionado like yourself, who also likes to play water polo.  You offer to guard him while he enjoys the sport, in return for him guarding you while you enjoy the sport unencumbered by a loaded gun.  The buddy system will work fine for basketball, hockey, baseball, football (European and American).  And all other sports except hang gliding, bungee jumping, and water skiing.  It may just be best to avoid those three sports altogether, as there is no known way to defend yourself with a gun while engaged in those pastimes.  If you have some ideas, please leave a comment below.

So now having decided on a strategy to protect yourself from your assailants, it's time to think about protecting your loved ones while you are not near them.  There are three basic ways to do this.  Hiring armed guards is one way.  Another way is to train your loved ones to use a gun just like you do (sleep with the loaded gun under the pillow), and their own buddy system (not using your buddy, but they find their own buddies for water polo or ballet lessons etc.)  The third method is for you to never leave their side, and to keep them in a tight group for defense purposes at all times.  The third method in many ways is easiest, but only for families that have bought into the notion that they may be attacked by armed killers at any time.  Otherwise, they will be difficult to keep together in one place where you can best defend them.  The first method is good, but you will need to be quite rich, and keep in mind you will have to hire another armed guard for each of your family members, the costs add up quickly.

Before I summarize, I am going to discuss the threat evaluation.  If you think the chances are very good of being attacked by armed men, say at least once a year, my methods are appropriate.  However when the threat level drops to one attack in 50 years or more (average), then it may be worth while considering some alternate form of defence that does not involve guns.  The reason I say that is that if you are attacked only once in 50 years, on the average, you may end up losing several loved ones during that time, just from accidental discharges, or gun malfunctions.  I'm just saying that, given the spotty history of gun safety, it would not be practical to keep on such a high state of readiness for more than a year.  But if you're pretty sure you will be in for a shootout within a year, let's continue to lesson 3.  Next time: Lesson 3, how to shoot accurately.

Research for you: On the web blog "Blasphemes", it is reported as a proven, peer reviewed, fact that American use guns once on an average of every 13 seconds to defend themselves.  And that 65 lives are saved for every life lost in gun play.  Considering that about 10,000 lives are lost a year with guns, then it means that in the last ten years, guns have saved 3,200,000, or equivalent to a city the size of Chicago.  And that's in just ten years.  Imagine the carnage if Americans didn't have guns to defend themselves.  (you need to scroll down to "Some Stats on Guns" September 25, 2009.

Picture: Although this picture came from the website above, it is found all over the Internet, for example it is also on t*ts'n'  It is an excellent illustration of just how a typical person would be defending themselves from an armed assault, and it has some propaganda value too, in stirring up hatred against those bad guys who are always trying to kill people like this cute young woman (who I just assume is a "good guy").  I did have to air brush it a little as unfortunately the original pic was too risque for this blog.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Again the Question, Why are Universities so Liberal?

Why are university professors mostly liberals?  If this question is being asked at all, that may be a sign there is something wrong with our thinking patterns.  I always thought it was pretty obvious.  But not so obvious to someone who does not understand the traditional role of a University, or the traditional role of liberals in society.

Here is an article in the National Post, where again this question comes up.  Why so many liberals at universities?

Let's just go over the basics again.  Liberal is not a dirty word, at least not before Rush Limbaugh and Fox News made it so.

Definition of liberal

lib·er·al  (lbr-l, lbrl)
a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

Now lets just check what a conservative is:

con·ser·va·tive  (kn-sûrv-tv)
1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.
2. Traditional or restrained in style: a conservative dark suit.

Finally, can I let someone from the early part of the twentieth century explain the traditional role of a University?

Essays: English and American.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
The Idea of a University. I. What Is a University?

John Henry Newman

IF I were asked to describe as briefly and popularly as I could, what a University was, I should draw my answer from its ancient designation of a Studium Generale, or “School of Universal Learning.” This description implies the assemblage of strangers from all parts in one spot;—from all parts; else, how will you find professors and students for every department of knowledge? and in one spot; else, how can there be any school at all? Accordingly, in its simple and rudimental form, it is a school of knowledge of every kind, consisting of teachers and learners from every quarter. Many things are requisite to complete and satisfy the idea embodied in this description; but such as this a University seems to be in its essence, a place for the communication and circulation of thought, by means of personal intercourse, through a wide extent of country.

Based on these definitions, and the idea of a university being people of diverse backgrounds coming together to exchange ideas and/or learn new ideas, I think I can come up with a theory.  A liberal is, by definition, a person open to new ideas, a person wanting to learn.  A conservative is by nature a person opposed to new ideas.  The highest aspiration of a University is to encourage new ideas.

All through history, every time people who were interested in learning came together to form a university, ideas have been exchanged, new ideas have flourished.  Sometimes the authorities did not like what they saw, and shut down the universities.  Sometimes the authorities were tolerant of new ideas, and allowed the university to exist. Sometimes they even gave money to the universities.  History provides a number of examples where societies supporting free-thinking universities flourished in arts, social justice, and in technology. Those that suppressed freedom of thought in universities tended to be held back in those areas.

A modern North American conservative's idea of higher learning is really either "job training", or a place for indoctrination into some religion.  Conservative places of learning tend to have predefined goals, and encourage conformity.  For example, a conservative think tank, or a bible study college.  Conservatives are more interested in money, so they are more likely to go straight into business, using their father's connections to guarantee a good job.  If they do go to a free-thinking traditional "University" it is often just a recreational interlude, with spring breaks, wild frat parties, drugs, football and such.  After four years of being wasted, then they collect their degree and get a high paying job using their father's business connections.

So that is the answer to the question "Why are there so many liberals at university?"  It is because a true university favours the open minded approach to learning new things.  It is not because universities deliberately try to exclude Republicans, the very wealthy, the conformists, the racists, the bigots, and the religious fanatics. It is because the basis of higher learning is to be open minded, and that's the only way to have a true university. Conservative "universities", rarely generate any new ideas.  In fact their entire raison d'etre tends to be the opposition to new ideas. (Like Evangelical universities, still fighting to suppress the Theory of Evolution.)

The picture is from the University of Minnesota at Duluth, the Unfair Campaign against racism.  This (very likely liberal) poster has drawn criticism from white conservatives in the U.S.A., who do not think that white Americans are racist.  An example of how liberals seem to dominate university campuses.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How "Brandwashed" Applies to Motorcycles

I'm going to explain first the humour in the picture at the left, in case you don't get it.  A long time ago, we did not have brand logos plastered over every available square inch of space.  So I took a picture of a long ago motorcycle, and updated it by plastering brand names on it with Photoshop.

I am reading the book "Brandwashed: Tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy" by Martin Lindstrom.  Martin says this book "picks up where Vance Packard's bestselling classic "The Hidden Persuaders" left off more than half a century ago."  (Note, this is not a final book review, just my pre-emptive first thoughts about the book)

Coincidentally, I did read The Hidden Persuaders about half a century ago. I felt like it opened my eyes to the tricks marketers used at the time (and still use), and it also made me aware of the high powered science and research that goes into marketing.  So over the years I have been on the lookout for new marketing techniques, and although I consider myself a brand skeptic, I also understand that just like everyone else, I can still be fooled by newly invented tricks that I may not see coming.  And I can be fooled by old tricks that I am simply powerless to fight.

Before really getting into the book, I started to wonder about the definition of branding. After all these years of being on the lookout for marketing techniques, I would like to know just how deep I am in the consumer culture.  Martin Lindstrom's definition of branding is quite open. On Page 2  "In my line of work I look at life through a particular lens:  one that sees everything on Earth ... as a brand".

Lindstrom says the band Abba is a brand.  He liked them when he was young, and still likes them now.  But what I find very telling, about Lindstrom's mental state, is that he apologises for listening to Abba.  In my opinion, if you are apologising for some "brand" you like, you are responding to brandwashing just as much as if you were boasting about a brand.  Again, it's only my opinion, but someone who truly does not respond to brandwashing, should neither boast nor apologize for a brand they have.  Boasting and apologizing are simply two sides of the same coin.  That coin is to manipulate your feelings about brands.

Lindstrom says "by the time I was five I was already preoccupied with a handful of brands. Lego, Bang and Olufsen, James Bond, the pop group Abba (I hereby apologise).  .... and later... All right I confess it, I still listen to Abba every now and again.  In my defense, I am Scandinavian."

I should suggest to Lindstrom, that if he ever wants to rid himself of brandwashing, a good place to start would be in not apologizing for listening to Abba.  Not that I am a fan of Abba myself (oops there I go, now I'm apologizing for listening to Abba).

In my own life, I can easily identify a handful of things that I like, I might even say I am obsessed with. Let's start with motorcycles, there are lots of brands involved in motorcycling.  You have the motorcycle manufacturer's brand, then you have brands involved in the accessories, in the fuel, oil, helmets, jackets, boots, accessories of all sorts, tools, magazines, movies (I saw Easy Rider and have the DVD), and owners' clubs.  I am not particularly brand loyal about my motorcycle.  I'm riding a Kawasaki Vulcan, which I'm not even sure that Kawasaki is proud of, as there are very few places you see the word Kawasaki on the bike, compared to Harley Davidsons. The Vulcan is still a motorcycle, but not a highly sought after brand - at least not for that type of motorcycle (i.e. Harley lookalikes).

Although my helmet is a Scorpion EXO1000, I have peeled the logo off it. But that may be a case of brandwashing too, because if it was a really expensive brand like an Arai, I might have left it on.  I also have a Scorpion brand jacket, that is another hint that I might be brandwashed, in that I went back to the same brand for a jacket, thereby showing some brand loyalty.

The way I see it, branding is only a part of the overall consumer culture, where people mindlessly go out and buy things that they don't really need. But when you buy things with a brand name, that are advertised, and sell for a premium price, that you really don't need, then I guess you are really "Brandwashed".

I don't really need a motorcycle either, but I have one or three.  I'm probably brandwashed to some extent, and that motorcycle is the evidence.  It (or they) may not be the top brands like Harley-Davidson, Triumph, BMW, etc. but that does not really matter.  On the other hand, I have not put myself in debt to buy them, and they help keep me from buying Rolex watches and getting obsessed with various other consumer items like winter cruises, big houses, yachts, and Ferraris.  So it's like fighting fire with fire. I buy motorcycle stuff that I don't need instead of more expensive non-motorcycling stuff that I also don't need.  It saves money.  Or so the argument in my head goes.  (arguments in my head are another hint I may be brandwashed)

One thing about motorcycling, that is an anomaly in the marketing world, is that motorcycles are not much of a status symbol outside of the community of motorcyclists themselves.  The many normal North American consumers consider motorcycles something to be ashamed of, not to boast about. Motorcycling itself is counter-cultural, even though it can also be considered a culture of its own.  So maybe that's why I didn't see much about motorcycles in Martin Lindstrom's book.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Is This Really Criticising Jesus?

Quentin Tarantino's latest movie is Django Unchained, a revenge flick set in the times of southern slavery. On February 16, 2013, Saturday Night Live, hosted by one of the stars of Django, did a spoof on the film called "Djesus Uncrossed", where Jesus (or Djesus, or Jesus H. Christ with the H silent), came back from the dead to wreak vengeance on the Romans.

Was the SNL skit a spoof of the movie, or was it a spoof on God, or was it the most blasphemous skit ever in their history?  I'm sorry I missed that episode, but this skit is posted on the internet, here is one link.

In my opinion, this was not really a criticism of Christianity, it was first and foremost a spoof of the film.  And I have seen almost the exact same theme in a Jesus skit done on "Family Guy" in the episode "North by North Quahog" in the skit "The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This".  However, "Family Guy" has done a lot of other things the fundamentalist Christians hate.

For example (from this web page, showing how Family Guy is blaspheming Jesus)
A standing gag is that Jesus drives a Cadillac Escalade.
 In "North by North Quahog", he is seen in the car in an action trailer for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This and is portrayed by Jim Caviezel opposite Chris Tucker.
According to the National Gun Association's pro-guns film in "And the Wiener is...", Jesus  and Moses used guns to defeat the Romans.
During his second coming, shown in "Stewie Loves Lois", Jesus's stature is found to be short since science has proven that people were shorter in biblical times.
He also makes use of his powers to assist his golf game, as seen in Holy Crap. Although he is "Employee of the Week" at Happy-Go-Lucky Toys, he is on the golf course going for his fourth Birdie. He makes his swing, and the ball lands extremely close to the hole, on the verge of going in. Using his power, he gets the ball to go in.
In Go, Stewie, Go!, Jesus is on the side of the jocks in a dodgeball game against the meek.
So the basic line taken by Sean Hannity on Fox News is that Liberals are too chicken to take on the Muslims, so it's open season on Christians who don't fight back.

If that were true, I suppose it would be a valid point against all these "attacks" on Christianity.  But none of these skits are attacks on Jesus or Christianity.  They are all attacks on the perverted form of Christianity that is "Born Again Christianity".  The Born Again Christians have basically undermined true Christianity by turning all the teachings of Jesus upside down, preaching hate, not love; war, not peace; wealth, not social justice.  If you are satirizing a perverted form of "Christianity", you are in reality speaking up for Jesus.

And, by the way, Fox News, "Family Guy" is a show on your own network, so how about attacking yourselves for blasphemy, instead of Saturday Night Live on NBC.