No, Don’t Ask Your Doctor About Abflubimadab

You’ve Seen the Drug Ads … Everywhere

Do you know why prescription drugs cost so much? No, forget about development costs. Just turn on your television and look at all the glossy commercials requesting that you ask your doctor about their pricey pharmaceuticals. You’ll see a whole lot of healthy looking older couples doing fun things together while a voice in the background warns that if you take Abflubimabad (I invented this drug name, so don’t try to buy it or even ask your doctor about it), you may suffer from St. Vitus Dance, rickets, premature ejaculation, memory loss, Ebola, a moist handshake, heart failure, or death. But you’re not listening to this voice droning on, and those old couples look so happy.

Wait until you find out how much Abflubimabad costs: Just finding out may cause St. Vitus Dance, rickets, premature ejaculation, memory loss, Ebola, a moist handshake, heart failure, or death. It costs a whole lot of cash to place ads on prime time TV, especially the cable channels that old people like to watch for their retro programming.

For one thing, the U.S. is only one of two countries that allow this type of advertising. (The other is New Zealand.) Could this be why American drugs are so much more expensive than Canadian or Mexican equivalents?

Whereas the market for TV advertising in general has been flat for the last few years, the direct-to-consumer drug ads have grown 62% since 2012. The pharmaceutical industry is one of those industries where marketers could call a meeting at the beginning of year and pretty much decide what their profit is going to be. (The insurance industry is in the same category.) So it doesn’t matter what these drugs cost. They want to create a buzz, so that viewers will directly participate in their doctors’ decisions, which, of course, they are clearly not qualified to do. Then Big Pharma just raises the prices by astronomical amounts.

Guess who pays for it in the end.

 

Monetize This!

Don’t Worry: I Have No Intention of Succumbing

At least once a day, I get a spampost asking why I don’t attempt to “monetize” my website and make tons of money. Give me a break! If I give in and allow advertising here, then I am no longer in charge of its contents. The advertisers would be.

These days, whenever I go to a news website like CNN or NBC (Fox was never on my list), I am not only surrounded by ads: I also have to close the ones that pop up in the middle of the screen or encroach from the sides. I hate having to close or minimize all the ads that prevent me from getting at the news. What is worse is that interspersed with the news is so-called “sponsored content,” which is nothing but advertising that attempts to fool you into thinking it’s news instead of mere clickbait.

I hate that! Advertising is becoming so all-pervasive that I have given up on many websites where it is particularly intrusive. When you come here to watch me rant and rave, that’s all you get. No links to what Phoebe Cates looks like now or why you should stop taking Metformin. Then there’s “12 Smart Travel Hacks” or free shipping with some CPAP mask, whatever that is.

So if you’re more interested in some huckster’s false promises than what I provide here, I have a great bridge for sale that might be right up your alley!

 

The Trivialization of News

Corporate Advertising Is Making It Difficult to Distinguish One from the Other

What, really, is news? According to one definition, it is “newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.” But the question is, important to whom? The news media themselves are owned by corporations, many of which have entertainment divisions. So suddenly, one finds the latest Game of Thrones episode is newsworthy. Is it perhaps that the news medium is owned by the same corporation that creates Game of Thrones.

Then, too, one finds “sponsored content” that is vaguely news-like and interspersed with real news stories about the happenings of the day. For example, the following “sponsored content” comes from today’s NBC news website:

  • Deliver native mobile apps seamlessly
  • The airline miles trick that airlines don’t want you to know (this phraseology is a dead giveaway)
  • Collaborate in the classroom with OneNote
  • Born before 1967? Don’t miss out on these exclusive benefits
  • Experience the best-selling third-row SUV
  • These river cruises are the cream of the crop
  • Play this for 1 minute and see why everybody is addicted

There is a close relationship between sponsored content and clickbait: The act of suckering you into clicking by promising you a lot more than will ever be delivered. The classical attempt sends you to a long video which doesn’t get to the point for up to twenty minutes, if it ever does.

None of the above refers to a newsworthy event. All are attempts to get you to buy into a product or service. When sponsored content is interspersed with real news stories, the hope is that you will be more interested in what is being marketed. One easy way to tell the difference is that real news tends to make one feel nauseated, whereas sponsored content merely makes one feel uneasy for missing out on a good deal.

 

 

Yes, Vote, But …

Democracy Can Be a Bitch!

Democracy Can Be a Bitch!

We have a local election coming up on Tuesday, March 7. I will vote, of course, but I will not make any political canvassers deliriously happy. In fact, I might avoid answering the phone at all. There will be strange invitations to “town halls” from Judy, my “personal assistant”; there will be oddly inopportune “surveys”; and there will be young volunteers claiming to represent people running for the School Board, the City Council, or referendum issues financed by lying bastards from the real estate developers’ interests. If I pick up the phone at all, it will be to swear at telephone volunteers, or, more likely, at robocalls which stand no chance of being heard in their entirety by me.

Don’t people know that all democracy has given us this particular four years is a bonehead real-estate developer with tiny hands and a  mind and penis to match. Politics is unspeakably foul; and anyone involved is suspect as far as I’m concerned.

My mailbox is jammed on a daily basis with expensive four-color pleas for my vote. Actually, they are helpful. Anyone candidate or issue that spends what I consider to be too much money is probably taking money from nefarious out-of-state interests, like the Koch Brothers and their ilk. I assume that most of what I hear or read will be outright lies, and that ultimately I am being romanced out of my God-given rights.

I can hardly wait for March 8 to roll along.

 

How to Stop Autoplay Videos

Yes, You Can Retain Control Over Videos

Yes, You Can Retain Control Over Videos

Last summer, I wrote a blog posting entitled Streaming Agony in which I bewailed the tendency of websites to push streaming videos in your face when you open websites—particularly prevalent among news websites. Most of these streaming videos are controlled by Adobe Shockwave. Using your Internet browser, you could request that the video be grayed out, as in the three examples in the above screen shot from the Buenos Aires Herald, and activated only when you specifically request it. By clicking on “Activate Adobe Flash,” you can see the video once, or grant blanket permission to the website.

Because I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser, I will reprint the instructions by Lincoln Spector from the February 2015 issue of PC World on “How to Stop Autoplay Videos” using this browser. If you should be a user of Google Chrome or Internet Explorer, reply at the bottom of this post and I will post the equivalent instructions for your browser. If you use Safari, you are out of luck.

Here are the instructions for suppressing autoplay videos on Firefox:

  1. Press Ctrl-L to go to the address bar and type in the local URL field: about:addons.
  2. Click Plugins in the left pane.
  3. Find Shockwave Flash in the list of plug-ins.
  4. Click the Always Activate pop-up menu on the right, and select Ask to Activate.

The article in PC World continues:

When you visit a page with an embedded Flash video, the video window will be in a box, but this time it will be white with Adobe’s Flash logo (a stylized letter ‘f’ in the center). A gray bar at the top of the page will give you options to continue blocking or allow the flash.

If you click Allow, you’ll get options to Allow Now or Allow and Remember. If you want to allow it at all, I recommend Allow Now.

Hopefully this will protect you from loud NSFW (Not Safe for Work) loud ads and most autoplay videos.

 

Spare Me the Fame

Why Would Anyone Want My Help in Setting Up a Blog?

Why Would Anyone Want My Help in Setting Up a Blog?

Mine is not a particularly striking looking website, yet each week I get numerous requests for information on how I put it together, together with questions as to whether I would link to their website. The odd thing is that I don’t believe these people, especially since:

  1. Their e-mail address indicates they are in some dubious business, such as selling designer knock-offs.
  2. Instead of referring to a recent posting, they seem to be linking to my media file, especially to photographs from postings of several months ago.
  3. They never say anything that would indicate they actually read what I write—never any link to any actual content.

You never see these requests because I erase over 99% of the entries identified by WordPress’s Akamai (means “smart” in Hawaiian pidgin) Spam filtering system, and that’s where these usually end up.

Another group of pseudo-comments wants to see me get a lot more hits and to be at the top of Google searches. Why? Obviously, I’m not into blogging for the fame. If thousands of people daily visited Tarnmoor, my life would turn to crap: Imagine having to filter through hundreds of comments.

If you found this site because it was on page ten of a Google search, and you like what I do, you are most welcome. If you want to tell the world what a great blogger I am, I would think you would be doing me a disservice. If I have to spend all my time tending to this site, I would just as soon give it up.

In fact, I like to write. I like to use the process to think things through. And I like interacting with my friends. So don’t offer any suggestions how I could crud up this site by using clickbait the way that Weather.Com and most news websites do. There’s no clickbait here, and no advertising. If you like what I write, well and good. If not, there are other places you can go.

Support Our Troops in Garcinia Cambogia

It’s Somewhere Between Krung Thep and Aguas Calientes

I Think It’s Somewhere Between Krung Thep and Aguas Calientes

It’s all over the internet: You can lose weight, lengthen your dingdong, make the power company mad at you, date luscious Asian women, save money by buying stuff you don’t need, and taking advantage of Obama’s secret super-special refi plan.

The upshot is that, sometime over the last twenty years, we’ve let our brains drain out our ears or accidentally given ourselves lobotomies while on the way to the fridge to get more beer. Bring up any major news website, and you will see links to Motley Fool directing you to a twenty-minute video that purports to (but doesn’t actually) tell you why the Chinese economic miracle is over, or how you can make trillions by investing fifty cents in some odd 3-D printing stock for a company out of Liechtenstein.

Here they all are: everything that everybody really wants. Who cares about ISIS taking Baghdad or the Russian convoy to Ukraine being full of atomic waste? You can never be too rich or too thin—or too sexy, which I guess is a combination of both. (I mean, if an aging, decrepit troll like Donald Sterling can parade around with hot babes, so can you!)

We have become a nation of cheapsters. We don’t care about anything but massaging our pleasure principle, or, better yet, having our pleasure principle massaged by Girls Gone Wild.

What is Garcinia Cambogia anyway? Whatever it is, it sounds as if we should have boots on the ground there.