Advertising to a Post Consumerist

Deter­min­ing what I real­ly want is hard.  Adver­tis­ing tries every day and fails mis­er­ably.  It’s even hard for me and thus down­right impos­si­ble for my close fam­i­ly and friends.  Occa­sion­al­ly, my fam­i­ly mem­bers will make an unusu­al­ly inspired choice.  Some­times this amounts to an item that I didn’t know I want­ed but actu­al­ly real­ly need.  Oth­er times this amounts to some­thing for which I’ve been pin­ing for some time (either overt­ly or uncon­scious­ly).  Maybe they got it just to shut me up…

Watson on Jeopardy

Wat­son on Jeop­ardy

A fair ques­tion would be: Do my fam­i­ly and close friends “get” me more than Google and oth­er deep-think­ing data­bas­es of the Inter­webs?  This empir­i­cal evi­dence would sug­gest that they do.  A win for per­son­al rela­tion­ships over deep data, I sup­pose.

In a sim­i­lar vein, I get real­ly annoyed with most adver­tis­ing.  I would go so far to say that most adver­tis­ing makes me feel empa­thy embar­rass­ment for the cre­ator or object of the adver­tise­ment.  Regard­less of how I feel, though, adver­tis­ing takes up time and resources for lit­tle prac­ti­cal use, in my case.

How do I find myself in this sit­u­a­tion?  I don’t want what “peo­ple” appar­ent­ly want.  I say, “appar­ent­ly” because I def­i­nite­ly don’t under­stand what peo­ple want and the evi­dence, giv­en by adver­tise­ments direct­ed at me, is that I’m expect­ed to want some­thing else.  There may have been a time when I shared some wants with the mass­es, but they have def­i­nite­ly left me some time ago.

Personal Luxury Submarine

Per­son­al Lux­u­ry Sub­ma­rine

My wants tend you come from two schemas: the prac­ti­cal and the mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal.  In prac­ti­cal things, I eas­i­ly show my diver­gence from the norm.  I don’t want a “new” car.  I research the crap out of most pur­chas­es.  Most of my pur­chas­es prob­a­bly rep­re­sent a long tail process where I fer­ret out a fair­ly unique prod­uct from a rel­a­tive­ly unique ven­dor.  In many cas­es, right­ly or wrong­ly, I con­clude that doing it myself is the answer.

For the mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal, see Per­son­al Lux­u­ry Sub­ma­rine.

So, About Advertising

So what’s this about adver­tis­ing in the title?  Sim­i­lar to my family’s dilem­ma each Christ­mas, it’s real­ly hard to effec­tive­ly adver­tise to me.  I’m just not talk­ing about the ad block­ers and “no script” that I run in my browsers… And I’m not just talk­ing about my thumb hov­er­ing over the “skip” but­ton or scrolling past the loud ani­ma­tions.  I’m not even direct­ly talk­ing about how googling any saleable prod­uct  is near­ly use­less if you are look­ing for real infor­ma­tion.

Wix YouTube Advertising

Wix YouTube Adver­tis­ing

I’m not even talk­ing about the com­plete mis­fires like YouTube try­ing to push ‘WIX’ (web site cre­ation web­site) on me.  That’s just com­plete­ly ridicu­lous, although it may have played some part in my deci­sion to write this piece.  I have been telling peo­ple they need web­sites since 1995 — so long that it’s no longer, iron­i­cal­ly, true any­more.

I’m talk­ing about the fact that most of the things I want are either not adver­tised and/or that they will require research to locate.  In either case, a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of my bud­get is spent on items that are not or can not be adver­tised.

A Non-Advertising Example

I’m excit­ed to be get­ting into 3D print­ing, but this is also a great exam­ple of my the­sis. If you search for 3D print­ers or read about 3D print­ers for awhile and then look at the ads that will be thrown at you, your first take will be that 3D print­ers cost about $1500 and that there are many more expen­sive and fan­cy ones.

Since the ini­tial hype sur­round­ing 3D print­ing has large­ly passed, there exist arti­cles and videos that will help you find out that 3D print­ing can be had on a small­er bud­get.  You may even find some adver­tise­ments regard­ing 3D print­ers in the $300 to $600 range and you may even find adver­tise­ments for supreme­ly cheap 3D print­ers now.  That is not to say that cheap is good: but rather to intro­duce that the adver­tise­ments are of lit­tle inter­est to me.  At best they can rec­om­mend fur­ther research.

Prusa Mendel 3D Printer

Prusa Mendel 3D Print­er
No Adver­tis­ing

Giv­en my stat­ed inter­est in 3D print­ers, you might assume that I would then be hap­py with adver­tise­ments of 3D print­ers in my price range.  In this case, you would be wrong.  More intense research led me to reprap.org.  The idea that 3D print­ing was about mak­ing things: real things; things like 3D print­ers.  Why can’t 3D print­ers print them­selves?

Large­ly, they can (and do).  Know­ing this can save you mon­ey.  Know­ing this can lead you to under­stand­ing your 3D print­er at a deep­er lev­el.  In the end, I sourced most of my parts from a local indus­tri­al fas­ten­er store for $60.  I sourced a num­ber of oth­er items on eBay and the remain­ing from anoth­er some­what-local 3D print­ing enthu­si­ast.  Adver­tis­ing didn’t lead me to any  of these con­clu­sions.

Indeed the 3D print­er I have cho­sen has no adver­tis­ing.  I could be due to the fact that the plans for the print­er are avail­able on github.  I could be do to the fact that besides a few 3D print­ed parts, all the parts required are avail­able from sources that have lit­tle or noth­ing to do with 3D print­ing — and for a frac­tion of the price of retail.

Advertising, I Fart in Your General Direction

There exists much crap in the world. We buy crap because it’s made to look nice and it’s con­tin­u­al­ly pushed in our faces.  Like cor­po­rate polit­i­cal dona­tions, adver­tis­ing is large­ly a neg­a­tive influ­ence on the world.  Both exist due to the psy­cho­path­ic dis­po­si­tion of the mod­ern cor­po­ra­tion.  Both will con­tin­ue to exist until we beat them into sub­mis­sion.

The vast major­i­ty of peo­ple are not well served by adver­tis­ing: they just don’t know or real­ize it.  Adver­tis­ing, is, of course, in the inter­ests of the adver­tis­er.  We even have laws that appear to force the adver­tis­er to “tell the truth.”  Some­how in this mad­ness we call cap­i­tal­ism, though, con­sumers have lost their pow­ers.  So few of us now research our pur­chas­es prop­er­ly or we assume that the adver­tis­ing is large­ly true.  So few of us actu­al­ly act in our own inter­ests.

The EU, as a counter exam­ple, has recent­ly pro­posed that durable goods be man­u­fac­tured such that they are repairable and last much longer. This new item, along with many oth­ers I’ve heard in the last few months regard­ing the EU give me hope that some peo­ple are reject­ing some adver­tis­ing.  In gen­er­al, the peo­ples of the EU are exposed to few­er hours of adver­tis­ing than those of us liv­ing in North Amer­i­ca.  This is healthy for peo­ple and, in turn, it will be healthy for the plan­et.

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Factorio Nuclear Reactor Thoughts

Factorio Nuclear Reactors

Fac­to­rio Nuclear Reac­tors

Fac­to­rio Nuclear Reac­tors are a new pow­er source in Fac­to­rio 0.15.  For those that have played Fac­to­rio, late game setups have includ­ed either thou­sands of steam engines or tens of thou­sands of solar pan­els.  This ends up tak­ing both sig­nif­i­cant pro­duc­tion and sig­nif­i­cant game world space.  While mass pro­duc­tion is part of the game, the space tak­en by the pow­er sys­tem often dwarfs by orders of mag­ni­tude the oth­er game activ­i­ty.

With 2 off­shore pumps,20 steam boil­ers, and 40 steam engines, and a big belt of coal you can get neigh 60 megawatts. As you can see on the left, here, It’s a pret­ty large set­up. It’s enough, gen­er­al­ly, for the first stage of the game… upto mak­ing all the potions, but it starts get­ting dicey at that point. You cer­tain­ly want to also be using coal for smelt­ing as this will not pro­vide that lev­el of pow­er.

Factorio Max 2 Pump Steam Setup

Fac­to­rio Max 2 Pump Steam Set­up

A sim­i­lar set­up with Solar Pan­els would already be sev­er­al times larg­er (and would con­sume bat­ter­ies and steel to a much greater extent).

My sim­ple Fac­to­rio Nuclear Reac­tor set­up (shown above) pro­vides 40 MW with one Reac­tor, 160 MW with two, 280 MW with three and 480 MW with four Reac­tors con­fig­ured.  I rec­om­mend shoot­ing for the two reac­tor set­up to start because the bonus­es are just so high.

But… I’m jump­ing ahead of myself.  You need to get there from the start of your game.  You can’t even mine Ura­ni­um until you have a source of Sul­fu­ric Acid.

In the last few attempts at 0.15 Fac­to­rio, I’ve found that one trick is to start min­ing ura­ni­um as soon as you have Sul­phuric Acid.  There is often a patch that will be cov­ered by one or two min­ers near your spawn and I run that into a chest. Con­tin­ue read­ing

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The Social Inequity of Keurig and Other Cartridge Systems

I’ve been try­ing to decide what it is that so annoys me about the Keurig and oth­er Car­tridge Sys­tems.  At first, one could eas­i­ly decry the Keurig for envi­ron­men­tal waste.  Giv­en their mar­ket, how­ev­er, it was inevitable that they would mit­i­gate this prob­lem.  Too many crunchy-gra­nola types like their fan­cy cof­fee or tea.

Social Coffee

Social Cof­fee

The prob­lem with Keurig has been hov­er­ing around the periph­ery of my  mind for ages… just out of reach.  I saw a car­tridge based bread mak­er for sale in a fly­er some time ago, and still draw upon it as an exam­ple of what is wrong with soci­ety.  I see restau­rants serv­ing Keurig and I fur­ther decry the demise of life as we know it.

But what is wrong here.  At first blush, it seems to be a solu­tion look­ing for a prob­lem.  It’s cer­tain­ly not dif­fi­cult to make cof­fee.  Even the dif­fer­ence between mak­ing bread, oper­at­ing a tra­di­tion­al bread-mak­er and using the car­tridge-based bread mak­er are not that large.

Car­tridge based cof­fee sys­tems were becom­ing pop­u­lar in offices more than 10 years ago.  If any­thing, Keurig took it’s sweet time to appear as a con­sumer prod­uct.  Even before that, cof­fee machines man­u­fac­tured swill to order.  If any­thing, the car­tridge-based sys­tems should be hailed as a step up from those efforts.

If you haven’t yet guess from the title, my the­sis is that the real cost is social, not envi­ron­men­tal.  Cof­fee is a social bev­er­age.  If I put on a pot of cof­fee, I am pro­vid­ing a ser­vice to the rest of the office while ful­fill­ing my own need.  From the pot, I can pour sev­er­al cups of cof­fee and enjoy a moment with oth­er peo­ple shar­ing cof­fee.  Even those who drink tea are com­ing to the same area.  I don’t live in Eng­land, but I sus­pect some bet­ter work estab­lish­ments must have a com­mu­nal pot of tea around.

But the Keurig would have me self­ish­ly make my own cup of cof­fee — to not share with any­one.  The time it takes the Keurig to brew, while short, pre­cludes the inter­ac­tion over the fresh hot bev­er­age as I will move on after get­ting my cup of joe — not want­i­ng to appear lazy by wait­ing for a coworker’s cup to brew.  Most impor­tant­ly, Keurig denies me the sim­ple plea­sure of mak­ing a pot of cof­fee for oth­er peo­ple.

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Seats, Feet and Righteous Indignation — Judgemental Treatment of Others is Unjust

I haven’t been com­pelled to write some­thing in awhile, but this pic­ture and the accom­pa­ny­ing sto­ry at the star moti­vat­ed me. From the arti­cle, it seems it’s gone quite viral.  It seems top­i­cal in ref­er­ence to my last arti­cle “Life is not Fair.”  Here we have a woman (the arti­cle fur­ther points out a “white” woman) impos­ing her views on shared eti­quette on a man (the arti­cle points out a man of non-white skin) with right­eous indig­na­tion.  This is ever-so-exact­ly the type of Fair­ness Nazi that I was annoyed with.

Feet On Her Seat, Righteous Indignation

Feet On Her Seat, Right­eous Indig­na­tion

To both inform and save you from the details, the arti­cle and atten­dant viral video, so a young man with his feet on the seat of a appar­ent­ly most­ly emp­ty sub­way car in Toron­to.  Enter a woman who sees this and decides to “teach him a les­son” by sit­ting on his feet.  Then this all esca­lates.  He push­es, she press­es the pan­ic stop for the train, secu­ri­ty comes.  Enter­tain­ment for the mass­es and appar­ent­ly val­i­da­tion of right­eous indig­na­tion and judge­ment for some who view it.

It’s not that she may not have a point (she may).  It’s also not that the pow­er dynam­ic maybe skewed (it may).  There’s a prin­ci­ple here.  Tak­ing from my Chris­t­ian back­ground (and I“m not well versed enough to know how ubiq­ui­tous this con­cept is, but I choose to believe that it is shared), Jesus teach­es that it is not our place to judge. Con­tin­ue read­ing

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Life is not Fair

Life is Not Fair

Life is Not Fair

Humans have a strong sense of fair­ness. To be fair is to be in bal­ance with one’s fel­low humans. Like any met­ric involv­ing humans, how­ev­er, fair­ness suf­fers from hav­ing too much just as much as hav­ing too lit­tle.

To lit­tle real fair­ness exists in the world at large. Protests, vio­lence, injury and death mark the chasm between black and white, rich and poor, man and woman, priv­i­leged and com­mon. It can accu­rate­ly be said that life, tak­en in aggre­gate, is more unfair now than at any time in human his­to­ry.

But this arti­cle aims to talk about the issue of too much fair­ness or being fair when it is uncalled-for.  This is the point where peo­ple look at their fel­low human and want to take an action to make things incre­men­tal­ly more fair between them.  Said this way, it seems like med­dling.

In defense of my the­sis, I’m not writ­ing about a protest to change a company’s poli­cies towards groups of peo­ple.  We must protest for fair­ness among large groups of peo­ple.  It is fun­da­men­tal to our health as a soci­ety that we con­tin­ue to cor­rect these issues.  Rather I’m con­sid­er­ing the urge, in humans, to change sin­gu­lar oth­er humans’ behav­ior. Con­tin­ue read­ing

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Day Break Mill: Searching for Red Fife Wheat…

Day Break Mill

Day Break Mill

I’ve been search­ing online for places to buy Red Fife flour and my search lead me to the page of Day Break Mill.  I imme­di­ate­ly hit the “con­tact us” but­ton so that I could deter­mine where they were.  While I get the pic­ture: it’s in Saskatchewan, still.. did some­one think this was a good con­fig­u­ra­tion for the google wid­get?

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SlowCooker: Pulled Pork: Sauce Made of Sauces.

Pulled Pork Almost Done

Pulled Pork Almost Done

I was leaf­ing through recipe ideas the oth­er day and came across Pulled Pork for the Slow­Cook­er.  The slow­cook­er is great for soups and stews and I always enjoy find­ing anoth­er recipe for it.  Pulled pork is tra­di­tion­al­ly a south­ern bar­beque dish where an oth­er­wise tough cut of pork is slow­ly cooked in var­i­ous juices until ten­der and then ripped apart or “pulled.”

In our case, we had a pork loin (not nor­mal­ly a can­di­date) that was mod­er­ate­ly freez­er burnt (per­fect).  The long cook­ing and hydra­tion of the sauce com­pen­sat­ed per­fect­ly for the freez­er burn. Con­tin­ue read­ing

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Truthiness: of Rights and Wrongs

Truthiness feels good

Truthi­ness feels good!

Truthi­ness.  I love this word.  It encap­su­lates all that is wrong with the Amer­i­can Reli­gious Right.  I’ve been think­ing around how to talk about this scourge and received insight from a com­mon (for me) source: The Econ­o­mist has a book review of “The Bat­tle for Yel­low­stone” by Justin Far­rell. The essence of this book, accord­ing to the review (I real­ly need to read the book), is to talk about the prob­lems with pol­i­tics in Amer­i­ca with­out actu­al­ly talk­ing about pol­i­tics in Amer­i­ca.

It is absolute­ly true that the best ways to talk about a dif­fi­cult top­ic is by talk­ing about some­thing else entire­ly.  I’m not just talk­ing about avoid­ance (a viable strat­e­gy — a head in the sand is worth two in the bush), but about the sub­sti­tu­tion inher­ent in most good fic­tion and espe­cial­ly sci­ence fic­tion.

The book, accord­ing to the econ­o­mist, dis­cuss­es how each group in the vari­ety of dis­putes sur­round­ing Yel­low­stone frame their argu­ment as truth against false­hoods while they are real­ly argu­ing moral right ver­sus moral wrong.  The Wikipedia arti­cle on Truthi­ness echos this point where Col­bert (wide­ly con­sid­ered to have coined the term in com­mon usage) dis­cuss­es the way each fac­tion desires to bring it’s own facts to the polit­i­cal debate, rather than all fac­tions argu­ing the cor­rect action against an accept­ed set of facts.

I had actu­al­ly cho­sen the word Truthi­ness before I had read the Col­bert quotes and cog­i­tat­ed on how they meshed with the theme.  I’ve been cog­i­tat­ing for some time on the inap­pro­pri­ate­ness of Truthi­ness.  I see the prob­lems: that things have become com­plex enough; so far beyond most people’s edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­ence that they are eas­i­ly duped by those who would manip­u­late their views.  The prob­lem is not that some peo­ple will attempt to manip­u­late oth­er peo­ple — that will always be true.  The prob­lem is that so few peo­ple in soci­ety as a whole have any qual­i­ty of horse­hock­ey fil­ter.

The stat­ed goal of pub­lic edu­ca­tion is to pre­pare each child for the life of a cit­i­zen.  In gen­er­al­ly avoid­ing class­es in civics, they have failed this task. The Huff­in­g­ton Post has a good primer on the sub­ject of pub­lic school pol­i­cy.

How did we get here, or more per­ti­nent­ly, how do we get out.  For good or for ill, large groups of politi­cians and vot­ers dis­trust sci­en­tists.  Has the dai­ly bar­rage of issues become to fierce for san­er heads pre­vail­ing in inves­ti­ga­tion and debate?  How did it come that argu­ing about right and wrong was not enough for some to invent new “facts” so as to be able to argue about what is truth?

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Rack of Lamb: Moroccan Spice

Moroccan Rack of Lamb on Plate

Moroc­can Rack of Lamb on Plate

A lit­tle cook­ing diver­sion: A Moroc­can Spiced Rack of Lamb.  I have some more stand-mix­er bak­ing to do, but my most recent attempt was lack-lus­ter.  More about that when I get it right.  This arti­cle is about our new year’s eve meal.  I want­ed to do some­thing fair­ly spe­cial withtout being too expen­sive.  As these “french cut” rack-of-lambs were on spe­cial, they fit the bill.

A stock attempt at lamb … rose­mary, maybe some dill, olive oil … it seemed below these won­der­ful cuts.  I spent some time talk­ing with my sis­ter about this and she google-texted me a recipe from some­where — I can’t exact­ly tell, but it sound­ed won­der­ful.  How­ev­er, it was new years eve and it want­ed pome­gran­ate juice.  I don’t keep that around.  Look­ing at the recipe, I decid­ed that the juice was used for it’s sweet­ness.  I decid­ed to sub­sti­tute “Water­loo Dark” … which is a Cana­di­an beer with a sweet almost can­dy-like taste.  I also had some “Mad Tom IPA” that I’ve been try­ing to find recipes to get rid of it in — but it has a decid­ed­ly bit­ter fin­ish, so I expect­ed it wouldn’t be appro­pri­ate here.  While I don’t like Mad Tom, Musko­ka Cream Ale is the defin­i­tive Cream Ale for me. Con­tin­ue read­ing

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Stand-Mixer #2 White Bread

Stand-Mixer White Bread

Stand-Mix­er White Bread

Since the stand-mix­er cheese bis­cuits were such an unqual­i­fied suc­cess, we man­aged to pick up some yeast to facil­i­tate some bread mak­ing.  First up is some “plain old” white bread.  Besides the fact that I am actu­al­ly white, ango-sax­on and (some­what) protes­tant (depend­ing on who you ask), I real­ly enjoy fresh white bread.  It’s like sug­ar or a good light beer; melt but­ter on hot fresh white bread and it’s an expe­ri­ence.

Right after I removed the bread from the oven, I cut off the crust, but­tered it and cut it in half to share with my wife.  In part, this cements the use­ful­ness of the stand-mix­er in the kitchen; and it part it also cements it use­ful that I use it to make yum­my things.  The crust on a fresh­ly hot loaf is crunchy and won­der­ful.  You should try it when you make it! Con­tin­ue read­ing

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