Friday, January 21, 2011

Pinball Repair Master Adrift in the Age of Modern Marketing

Florida State Highway 33 is a desolate ribbon of asphalt that connects Polk City to Groveland, two places that are little more than speed bumps and never destinations.   It is an artery we must transit when moving between Gainesville and the USDA labs in Winter Haven, FL, as they do a lot of analytical chemistry in association with our projects.  There are no gas stations, mini marts or scenic stops, just mile after mile of pine and palm, broken up only by a toothless goon here and there, occasionally one rolling a tire.

About six miles out of Polk City and 21 miles before Groveland there is a sign hammered into a naked spot on a tree.  It is about eighteen inches wide and twelve inches tall.  It is unpainted wood and features black block letters that say PINBALL REPAIR, followed by a phone number.

Now, what are the odds....   you see where I'm going.

Imagine the almost infinite alignment that needs to happen here.  First, someone has to own a pinball machine.  Next, it has to be broken.  Next, they have to want to repair it.  Next, they could find nobody to do the work.  Next, they have to be driving north on Florida State Road 33 from Polk City to Groveland, during the day.  Finally, they have to actually spy this rather innocuous sign, then be quick with a pen to jot down the phone number.

WTF?  I think you'd be more likely to find Bigfoot walking arm-in-arm with Jimmy Hoffa in the middle of Disneyland, or the Cubs winning the Super Bowl.

Sadly I picture a sixty-something unkept guy, perhaps missing a limb, sitting near an old rotary dial phone in his home near the modest suburbs of (ahhem) Polk City.  Every morning he dons the coveralls, sits down at his work desk by 9AM, on time, every day, waiting for a service call.  He sits among boxes of flippers, bumpers, plungers and tilt lights, maybe rolling a heavy shiny silver ball across his desk over and over to keep what's left of his sanity.

But the call never comes.  Perhaps once in the middle of the night the phone exploded into its song, leaving him only to find a wrong number.

He might wonder what is wrong.  Is his advertising network not connecting with its market?  Maybe he needs  to modernize his marketing strategy, perhaps a note in the church bulletin or maybe he needs to thumb it up to Groveland and put ads under windshield wipers at the DQ.  Clearly the net he has cast is not reaching his potential clientele in broken-pinball-machine space.

To me it speaks to the ambitions of the human spirit and how well-intended ideas die from poor execution.  Next time I'm down there I'm going to get that number and make the phone call.  Stand by for details.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Cause of Mysterious Bird/Fish Deaths Revealed!

Over the last week there have been numerous reports of widespread avian and fish death.  Apparently large swarms of birds and huge schools of fish give up the ghost for no known reason.  Or so it is thought.

The genius think tank over at Natural News has it all figured out.  In his January 4th column Mike Adams applies his usual less-than-rigorous approach to resolve this mystery.  The column speculates based on zero evidence:

For all we know, these 100,000 dead fish are downstream from a field of GMO corn that mutated into something even more deadly than the GMOs we already know. This may not be so far-fetched, actually:Monsanto has a corporate office in Arkansas(in Stuttgart, Arkansas) that's not too many miles from the Arkansas River.

Let me get this straight.  His hypothesis is that there was a mutation in GMO corn that was specific to the transgene, not the 40,000 other genes, and then this corn was magically transported into water and killed fish, because the Monsanto office is a few miles away.

Is it just me, or does this reek of intellectual emptiness?

Adams makes his usual allegations and conclusions without any evidence supporting them.  In other words, making shit up.  Only the scientifically bankrupt could make such leaps.  In typical Natural News/Anti-GMO fashion, the ignorant choose to dismiss real causes and facts to promote an agenda that feels groovy but is scientifically baseless.  This misdirection leads us away from real causes and eventual, scientific solutions.

Yo Mike, what are the "deadly GMOs we already know"?  From the peer-reviewed literature please. Oh, that's right, you can't find it there because BigFarma owns all the journals and scientists, leaving websites and opinions to do the scholarly heavy lifting.

Sadly, the article was also picked up by Google News.  That's how I found it.  The problem is that Natural News isn't about news at all, it is a website dedicated to promoting the naturalistic fallacy.  There is no science, no rigor, no review, just the opinions of a few whack jobs that make money by promoting junk and junk science.

Of course, maybe if the fish and birds were wearing Kinoki Foot Pads or energy bracelets this stuff would not happen.