Sunday, August 10, 2008

There's a trend I'm amazed at. It began with giant pharmaceutical companies airing commercials about how they've got a special brightly colored bus driving from city to city across the United States (I think they specifically say it goes to every state). With a well-known talkshow host who has medical problems that are also known, the commercials have "ordinary folks" saying that if it wasn't for this free pharmaceutical distribution program from the drug companies, they don't know how they would make it.

I don't know if it's a law that the pharmaceutical companies have to give away a certain tiny proportion of medicine to those who need it and can't afford it or just a well-thought-out publicity campaign. If it's a law, they are certainly reaping PR benefits from complying.

Then, there were a series of commercials about how British Petroleum asked people about their carbon footprint. People were puzzled and guessed it had something to do with how much energy they use.

So the trend is to disguise questionable corporate behavior with a veneer of environmental awareness and human compassion. Someone had already thought of the term carbon footprint, but it hadn't entered the public consciousness, so the television commercial made it seem as if the oil company had invented it and was concerned about the environment.

The latest non sequitur I saw last night was how oil company ExxonMobil is educating the public on the importance of mosquito netting in Africa to stamp out malaria. What does charging so much for gasoline that the companies are breaking all records for profit ever recorded have to do with the need for cheap, effective mosquito nets?

The need for distributing mosquito nets to counter malaria and their effectiveness in saving lives has already begun entering public awareness, but hasn't reached everyone yet. By explaining the problem, they seem like they're at the forefront when they are really hooking onto what's already in motion.

The only thing disturbing about these commercials is that they are effective. People don't realize how their attitudes toward these corporate megaliths are affected by these commercials. They sometimes feature a young, sincere employee explaining how they are working hard for you and your family. And listen to the music tugging at your heartstrings in these ads.

I shouldn't be cynical about corporations using music in commercials. I did an informal check and found virtually every commercial has a music soundtrack! It's so pervasive, just like in movies, that you don't even notice it. Next time you see a commercial, listen explicitly for the music. In fact, only one product had no musical track. You apply it directly to the forehead.
Monday, August 04, 2008
How the mind works.

We perceive the world as a sequence of visual panoramic bitmaps and our mind constructs a mental map of things with boundaries from these inherently meaningless blobs of color.

Babies work hard to put together a mental picture of what things are and how they work. I saw a documentary about babies that said they sometimes pour liquids on the floor to watch and learn about the fascinating phenomenon of gravity.

I don't remember if that's exactly what the documentary said, but that's my point. We compose a complete understanding from fragmentary sensory input.

My favorite thing about how my mind works is when I've misplaced my glasses or keys and have searched everywhere for them. Sometimes a picture forms in my mind of where I put my glasses down, and I go to that shelf or table or appliance top and sure enough there they are.

So I think that memory is stored in terms of sensory perceptions. I can remember the smell of roses in the neighborhood when I was a youngster.

An example of how people fill in the details of missing pieces with what they expect is that only recently did I realize that English was not my mother's first language.

This is not a trick statement where I was adopted or raised by an aunt. My mother was the child of immigrants from Russia (Lithuania really) and I remember when she would talk to her sister on the phone, sometimes they would start talking excitedly in Yiddish.

So it dawned on me that Yiddish, the common spoken language of European Jews, had not only been my grandmother's only language, but also the language my mother and her siblings first spoke until they went to school.

I knew she spoke some Yiddish phrases and would sometimes tell us a Yiddish proverb or expression, but I didn't realize until very recently that that was her first language and English came later.

It dawned on me recently that my last name of Avrashow must've originally been Avrashoff or Avrashov. And indeed a Google search showed that there are people with the last name Avrashov.
Words about people and things and ideas that you might find useful, interesting and enjoyable.

December 2003 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / March 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / February 2009 / March 2009 / May 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / December 2010 / September 2011 /


Paste this into in your newsreader URL and choose "Subscribe":

Powered by Blogger