Monday, December 25, 2006

They know when you're sleeping. They know when you're awake. And they want YOU!

Recently, while searching for some Cold Hard Facts, I came across a facebook page advertising the CIA. Apparently intelligence has shown that this is the most effective recruiting technique the CIA could come with.

Careful sleuthing revealed the ad was for this website. Notice the https://; that 's' means secret, a sure sign we're on the right track. And after examining the website with a fine-toothed comb, I concluded it's purpose was to recruit new CIA agents. Actually the motto on the bottom, "Today's Youth, Tomorrow's Assassins" was a dead giveaway.

So what can you do on a CIA website? Well for one you can take a personality test, with such questions as "Can you stomach our horrible flash intro", "What form of transportation do you prefer", and "What kind of dweeb doesn't pick Jetpack?" There is also a testimonial section, where agents codenamed things like FRED and SUSAN reveal the rewards and benefits of CIA work. "I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you afterwards", is a common theme.

But most, importantly the people at the CIA want you to know that the CIA is just an ordinary company. Sure every employee owns a phaser and a jet-pack. And sure even the janitor learns how to kill someone with her index finger. But the CIA want you to know it also pays decent wages and gives benefits. And sometimes, you can even take your daughter to work. Just not normally.

So I think I'll join the CIA. They'll hire me for sure. And I bet passing security will be a breeze. What's not to like about the Supreme Dictator of the Fanatical League of Chemical Terrorists, who uses Stalin as his avatar?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Legendary Exploits

One thing I have always wanted to do is to start my own urban legend. It can't be all that difficult, because it seems to me that people will spread almost any rumor they hear. I mean take this one. It’s clearly utter rubbish, but it made it to Snopes.
Grim Note

On the issue of consumer protection and hazardous warnings, here's a new one, I think. Those yellow sponges with the green plastic fibers on the back for scrubbing pots — "Pot Scrubbers" — should be kept far away from our birds, fish, reptiles, cats and dogs, hamsters and whatevers.

Proctor & Gamble, in its continuing search to make America look clean and smell great, has a new "improved" version of the sponge on the market that kills odor-causing fungi that get in the sponge after a few uses. They make a big deal out of this innovation on the outside packaging. A friend of mine used one of these sponges to clean the glass on a 200-gallon aquarium. The abrasive backs are good for removing algae and smutz that collect on the inside of the tank. He refilled the tank and after the water had time to condition and rid itself of chlorine, he reintroduced his tropical fish collection of some 30 fish. Within five hours of putting the fish back in the tank, they were all dead! Some began to die after only 30 minutes. He removed the survivors to another tank but they all died.

Retracing his steps to clean the tank, the only thing that was different was using that new kind of sponge - he'd used the regular old Pot Scrubbers for years. Lo and behold I discovered on the back of the packaging in about the finest print you could put on plastic a description of the fungicide in the sponge and the warning in tiny bold-face letters, "not for use in aquariums. keep away from other pets."
Thanks for the warning, Proctor & Gamble. It seems the fungicide is a derivative of the systemic pesticide-herbicide, 2-4-D, more popularly known as Agent Orange, the chemical we sprayed all over Southeast Asian during the Vietnam War that many veterans and war refugees say did them permanent damage to their lungs and nervous systems.

The package warning goes on to say they fungicide cannot be washed from the sponge even if it is placed in the dishwasher (in which case Agent Orange is now all over your dishes and drinking glasses). And, if you think its there to kill disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella from contaminated chicken meat, think again - it's not an effective enough bactericide to kill those kind of bugs.

I called P&G to register a complaint and told them I'd never use their products again because I couldn't trust what they were putting in them. By the way, the same chemical in the sponge is used now in many of those popular anti-bacterial, anti-viral disinfectant liquid soaps and hand cleaners that are flooding the market. Don't buy that poison and warn your friends as well.

This legend jumped from inbox to inbox, spreading at an exponential rate*, and it doesn't even make any sense. Right off the bat I can find five or six issues with it. First off, the author didn't even bother checking the spelling of the corporation he was defaming. I suppose Proctor and Gamble is the company that manufactures Ivery Soap and Tyde Detergent. Furthermore, sponges happen to be the one thing Procter and Gamble doesn't sell. And even if the sponges did exist, 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic_acid is the non-toxic component of Agent Orange. (Well comparatively non-toxic. You probably shouldn't eat the stuff.) But none of that mattered. The baseless rumor was chock-full o' holes, and yet it was successful.

So I think we should give it a try. All we have to do is write a stupid, yet outrage provoking, story. Then every reader will send it off to about twenty friends, and then bang, we're famous. We could even hide an acrostic of the blog in the rumor, or work in a reference the Ghost of Jamesburg, so people will know we were behind it. In fact, why don't you readers go create a bunch of them right now, and I'll select the best one and publish it.

I bet most of you think I could write a decent enough urban legend by myself, and get it published on Snopes by next Tuesday, and maybe I could. But it will be much more fun (for me), if I don't have to bother. If someone else writes the urban legend, I can do much more productive things over my break, such as teaching myself Simulink. Thus, I am announcing the second Cold Hard Facts contest. Submitted legends will be harshly graded on a twelve-point scale, taking into account fourteen separate criteria, the most important being the fact that no one will bother to submit any entries at all. However, one the off-hand chance that someone does bother to submit an urban legend or rumor, I will publish it here and start it on its way. Good luck, and get cracking

*Fine. The growth couldn't have been exponential, cause there is only a fixed reservoir of people with e-mail addresses. But who asked you, anyway?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's Hammer Time

The big news story today is Tom DeLay's new blog. Normally I would laugh at any former congressman, who tries to salvage a crumbling career with a blog, but I think Tom DeLay can make a go of it. DeLay's life contains the right blend of tragedy, controversy, corruption, and skeletons in the closet, to make great reading. A window into DeLay's soul would be quite disturbing, but also fascinating, and I can't wait to see what he writes about.

Wait, stop the presses! This just in. Tom DeLay does not actually write his blog. He has a ghost blogger write the blog for him. Apparently DeLay doesn't consider himself a very good writer, and so he hires some one else. DeLay did claim that the ideas are his, but judging by the content, I wouldn't be too surprised if he had someone ghost-think for him, too.

Well, if DeLay is gonna use a ghost-blogger, I have some advice for the guy. No, I am not volunteering to write his blog. As a matter of fact, I can't write very well either, so I also hire a ghostwriter. Rather I am recommending this, Mr. DeLay if you can't write, please don't try. I know how concerned you are about the the fact that liberal bloggers far outnumber conservative bloggers. But your talents are clearly not suited to writing a conservative blog. Leave the writing in the hands of those who can write.

Play to your strengths, Tom. You are really good at out-manuevering those in power, and destroying all who would dare stand in your way . So why don't you stop hiring someone to wallow in shame fo you, and use those talents constructively? Engineer a hostile take over of a liberal blog. I even have the perfect blog, the Daily Kos. Once you muscle out the current editorial staff, you could change the name to the DeLay Kos. (Get it? It's a pun. Oh, right you're not very good at puns either. Well ask your ghost-punster about it.) Then you can hire a ghost-blogger, while you move on to take over another blog. It's the perfect strategy, Tom. You'll have the whole blogosphere cowering in fear, in no time flat. Think about it.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Slymen' Sprite

company, and its "bold" advertising tactics. Please do not buy anything from this company solely on the basis on this blog post. I repeat, do NOT buy anything from this company solely on the basis of this blog post. If you like its products, and already gulp them down, go ahead and drink, but don't drink them, cause I made fun of the company's advertising, as that defeats the purpose. We do not want encourage further ad campaigns in the same vein, and we do not want to generate free, positive, publicity. If you have not seen the ads, they are available here. However, these ads have been known to induce schizophrenia, and extreme caution is advised.

Recently, the Cold Hard Facts, received a complaint from one of our readers about one "SubLYMONal Advertising" Campaign for some drink called Sprite. After doing an informal survey of reactions to the commercial (Are you Sure big, sweaty, sumo wrestlers do not make you think of refreshing beverages?), we decided to have a word with the man behind this campaign.

Cold Hard Facts: Greetings, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
Alex Bogusky: No problem. Actually, after the Sprite ads, I found myself with a surprising amount of free time.
CHF: I'm not surprised. I wouldn't hire you, either. Those SubLYMONal ads are beyond creepy.
Alex Bogusky: Well you're not our target market. At 20, you're an unhip oldie. We're aiming the ads at young teens.
CHF: Be that as it may, what did give you the idea to associate sumo wrestlers with sprite?
Alex Bogusky: Well one sumo wrestler represents a fat, sweaty, juicy lemon, and the other is a fat, sweaty, crisp, refreshing lime. Put them together, and you get Lymon.
CHF: Actually sumo wrestlers make me sick, and I wouldn't touch, let alone drink, anything associated with them.
Alex Bogusky: That's because, at 20, you're an old fogy, over the hill. Market research indicates that to teens, this is an arresting advertising that cuts through the monotony of ordinary commercials. Because the 'SubLYMONal' campaign overtly parodies the concept of subliminal advertising and acknowledges up front that the commercials contain hidden content, we are sure that people will want to interact with this advertising.
CHF: Not me. I don't want to get anywhere near those Sumo Wrestlers. Since your commercials aired, I have found myself drinking a lot less sprite. And as far as parodying the concept of subliminal advertising, I happen to be an expert on parodies, and you strike me as a parodyee, not a parodier.
Alex Bogusky: Well, I already said you're an old guy. Your opinions don't matter to me. Trust me teens will interact with this. I mean SubLYMONal is a totally integrated marketing message that focuses on Lymon, Sprite's proprietary lemon-lime flavor formula, which makes Sprite among the world's most thirst-quenching soft drinks. What's not to love about it? I mean, look at the website! It combines the coolness of seizures, with the hipness of wikipedia, and the groovyness of automated text readers. Kids will love it.
CHF: As far as coolness goes, I am more and more convinced that it is you who lacks it. And as far as your ads go, I think most people are smart enough to see how stupid your ads really are. Embedding Lymon, come on! That doesn't even make sense.
Alex Bogusky: I already said you're an old guy. You haven't been with it for 3 whole months. What do you know about coolness? But even if an old curmudgeon, like you, consciously hates my ads, and me the true power of subLYMONal advertising is on the unconscious. The sumo wrestlers, the Volkswagens, the spas, the automated electronic defibrillators, they're all Freudian images for refreshing beverages. Loath the commercials all you want, one day, you'll find you have an overpowering craving for Lymon. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day you will give in, and on that day I will win. POWER IS MINE! Muh HA HA HA!
CHF: Not if I can help it.
Alex Bogusky: It's too late; the Lymon has already begun. It's only a matter of time now.
CHF: Ok, ok. But, what if somehow you are right? What if my brain does connect CPR to Sprite? And, when someone has sudden cardiac arrest, instead of resuscitating him, I go buy a sprite, and he dies. You'll have a death on your hands! What will you do then?
Alex Bogusky: I'll have sold a Sprite.
CHF: Changing the subject, I believe you are also the guy responsible for the Fantanas. Let me tell you, I loathe them almost as much as your subLYMONal campaign.
Alex Bogusky: Ah the Fantanas, a brilliant marketing ploy. The colorfulness, the catchy tune, the hot babes, it's the best work we've ever done. You may hate it, but how else do you expect us to sell a drink that looks, tastes, and smells like carbonated cough syrup?
CHF: Ok... And what about "Give, Live, Love?" What is that supposed to mean?
Alex Bogusky: Our special holiday message of Give. Live. Love. Coke. Reminds people to come together and share the magic of the season and the spirit of generosity, just as our Polar Bears, penguins and Santa do.
CHF: No I think your "special holiday message of Give. Live. Love. Coke," indicates you've completely lost your mind. But I can help with that. Stay still for just one second...
Welcome to
trans-orbital LYMEbotomy
. Don't worry. It will only affect your brain.
Embedding Ice Pick. Embedding Ice Pick.
Trans-orbital LYMEbotomy complete. Obey!

And so, thanks to the Cold Hard Facts, another patient has been cured, and is well on the way to a quick recovery. Case Closed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Wash away the troubles with crude oil.

Spas, they take the most disgusting things, mud, cocoa butter, prune juice, and sell baths in them for outrageous prices. But now one company is topping all the others.

Yes that's the Cold Hard Facts, you can take a cool, refreshing shower in crude oil, and you come out smelling like a fresh, clean, gas station. Even better, not only are you showering in crude oil, but you're showering in crude oil that someone else already showered in. Better still the stuff is very, heavy, crude oil, so it has the consistency of hot tar. Ahhhhhhhhhh, so relaxing.

Seriously though, why crude oil. I mean, why not use something way more soothing, like say rotting, fish guts. And we're chemists; we can make things even nastier more energizing and desirable. How about a nice warm, sensual, massage in fragrant Cyclohexene? Or maybe the right mixture of tension-relieving Thiols would do the trick? I heard they exfoliate the skin for a slimmer, firmer, healthier new look. Or relieve the tension with a warm soak in soothing Alinine. Or why not cleanse, buff and hydrate yourself in a sauna filled with the delightful aroma of Hydrogen Telluride The only problem is that these chemicals might be deadly carcinogens, but then again they just might be the cure for rheumatoid arthritis, or at least we can say they might be.

Actually we may well be able to generate a market for this kind of thing. I can see it now, NotElon Chemical Spa and Resort, "So relaxing, we'll have tocarry you out on a stretcher". So who’s with me?