Sunday, May 21, 2006

They call it pollution... we call it LIFE!

That's the punchline of two utterly fucking stupid ads from the bullshit-sounding "Competitive Enterprise Institute" designed for American TV. "It" here is Carbon Dioxide, or CO2 for short. It's good for you because you breathe it out, but it's even better for trees! Ad #1 tries to argue that CO2 gives us energy, because otherwise we'd all be living in poverty. Ad #2 tries to contrast Time Magazine (the glaciers are melting!) against some scientific articles (no, they're not!).

They're crap, and not just because they're trying to interest the uninterested in journalism versus peer review. Both ads are narrated at great, unenthusiastic length for a minute by the same woman, who probably would be using the same voice for life insurance, or possibly an personal accountant. If only they'd learnt from my personal benchmark in the field: the classic Toyota "Bugger" ad of Australia. Only one word in the dialogue, repeated a few times: "Bugger". Now that was effective advertising - it never got stale to watch. If only CEI had learnt from this, but I'm glad they didn't.

But are the ads effective? I doubt it. They're not going to convince anyone with firm conviction about "global warming" - for or against. As for the unaligned middle, I doubt the advertisement will stop them taking a quick pottie break when it's on the tellie. It's unclear what the ad is trying to sell except no change in purchasing behavior. (That's pretty unique, when you think about it.) People will continue to drive cars because they want to, until the price of petrol becomes $2 AUD a litre. Or $3. Or another category 5 hurricane from the Gulf of Mexico wreaks destruction on their suburb. And then they're fucked.

Nor are the ads bad enough to be satirised. Now if they had used that basso profundo voice they use for movie advertising for the voiceover (you know, the guy who reads lines like "In a world where darkness reigns..." while you are waiting for the main feature) then the ads would be worthy of parody. But they're not even that wretched.

The kicker is that the assumption of the first ad (pollution versus poverty) is negated by the experience of the "Third World". Here, pollution and poverty often go hand in hand, such as in this country. Vietnamese people aren't stupid. They know pollution is bad for you: foul smells, coughing lungs, dirty eyes, runny nose, and oily, acne-prone skin. Not only that, but they are quite aware of where these symptoms come from: factories and vehicles - both large sources of CO2. It would have been instructive for the CEI to use a small sample of locals as a "test audience" for the ad. Very polite people, but they have a way of cutting through the bullshit. They would not have been impressed with the ads, not at all.

Link source found courtesy of Peak Energy.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dystopian Review

If you want an entirely conceivable picture of the US after an economic collapse, you don’t have to subscribe to anything as internally contradictory as Kunstler’s Long Emergency, just look at much of the Third World today. As anyone who’s spent any time there knows, for the most part it bears little resemblance to the hell of brutality and rat-eating barbarism that fires the middle class imagination with terror, it’s mostly a place of long lines, limited mobility, less physical comfort, hard work, and larger scale poverty. Unfortunately for Kunstler, it is not “intensely local” in the pure, bucolic, Jeffersonian way he imagines, as elites still manage to wreak local havoc through crony capitalism, and millions of people must shift about the globe continually in search of work. The idea that some of them might be white Americans in the future is the only new thing about the scenario.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It… A Review of Some Current Speculative Thinking on Collapse

Sunday, May 14, 2006

We got cable

...and with cable comes World Wrestling Entertainment. Think of it as soap opera designed for teenage boys.