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So, in case you’re wondering, I’m here at office h0urs.  It’s Friday, and almost nobody is even in the building, never mind in this room looking to talk to me.  I’ve done my Blackboard update.  I’ve corrected all the papers I can correct.  I’ve played a PopCap game because, you know, eventually this gets boring  I’ve got a book on me, but I can’t read very well in this office.

So I decided to do something constructive instead.  A friend of mine sent me this article:


which is a report on yet another Healthy Initiative coming out of the First Lady’s office.

In this case, the HI is concentrated on getting people to drink more water, and the article says everything that needs to be said about it better than I could. 

But although the writer is completely confused about why the HI is not doing things like saying you should substitute water for “sugary drinks” and being so relentlessly “positive” that you begin to think everybody involved has been lobotomized–

I think I know what’s going on here.

I think that the White House has heard enough criticism, and outright anger, at all the other HIs, the new school menus, the constant hectoring about “being healthier” and “fighting obesity,” and they think the problem is that the advice has been too “negative.”

So they’re trying to give advice that’s entirely “positive.”

Somebody needs to tell them that nobody cares if the advice is positive or negative.

They don’t want any advice at all.

This keyboard sticks, and it’s driving me crazy.  I’m going to go back to looking hopeful that somebody will walk through the door.


Written by janeh

September 13th, 2013 at 11:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

13 Responses to 'Pointless'

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  1. This comes from the Atlantic article.

    As Kass put it, “Water is our original energy drink. It’s a really exciting, fun, and positive campaign that will inspire people to drink more water.”

    I’m not aware of any evidence that drinking water provides energy.


    13 Sep 13 at 2:09 pm

  2. Well, I suppose water provides energy in the sense that if you’re on the edge of heatstroke from dehydration, drinking water would give you the impetus to stay upright, walk to the refrigerator, and get something to actually provide calories.

    It’s close enough for marketing, apparently. Given that every other person you see has their cellphone in one hand, balanced out by a bottle of water (or in eco-aware mode, a plastic reuseable bottle of water) in the other, I’m not sure how much MORE water we can afford to drink.

    Me, I’ve gone to filtered water from one of those Britta carafes, and I manage to get by with perhaps 4 cups per day. Any more and I’d live in the bathroom, running up the water bill with flushing. Unanticipated consequences, anyone?


    13 Sep 13 at 6:44 pm

  3. But our lords and Masters have to keep poking and prodding us about SOMETHING. How else will we know they’re in charge?

    Notice it’s especially bad with “celebrities” broadcast media people–really, can we honestly call them personalities?–and First Ladies? That is, the people who weren’t elected to anything and have no legal authority?


    13 Sep 13 at 6:52 pm

  4. Yeah, maybe they don’t want advice.

    But for mere money, corporations have managed to convince people to buy bottled water.

    Back somewhere, in the 70’s I think, it was a comic’s joke that a company would sell you drinking water in a bottle and charge you for it – sort of like selling snow to an eskimo or sand to desert nomad.

    Yet here we are. With the safest drinking water on the planet flowing out of taps for almost nothing – and spending, according to bevnet.com just shy of TWELVE BILLION dollars on it.

    For no good reason. Of any kind. At all.

    And for some other fascinating stuff, check this out . . .


    So maybe ya’ll are right.

    Marketing only works when the thing being sold is a useless waste of money that only servers to make someone else rich for doing nothing.

  5. They’re not selling nothing. They’re selling convenience as well as water that tastes better and is safer than your local supply, and the association with the goodness of nature. The ‘safer’ claim may well be false in most towns and cities (although possibly not if you are hiking), but the other things may are may not be false, depending on the location and schedule of the buyer. Whether buying bottled water for convenience or because the local water tastes or looks peculiar is buying for a good reason depends on the buyer.

    I use other liquids for convenient slaking of thirst when away from home, and am not much bothered about the claimed health benefits of drinking some amount of water, do not substitute any other liquid, per day, but I once lived in a place where the town water was, to my taste, undrinkable. It was safe, well, the put enough chlorine in it to kill bacteria, but there were those rumours that the chlorine combined with the particulate matter to produce trihalomethanes which are carcinogenic, but that risk is much lower than that of drinking untreated water. Nevertheless, the stuff looked like tea and tasted much worse, especially after rain.


    14 Sep 13 at 5:40 am

  6. “… water that tastes better and is safer than your local supply…”

    –Possibly it “tastes better”, as yes there are some locations where the water has enough sulfates or is so hard as to affect taste, – But that is not, of course, 90+ % of the country.

    So “the local water tastes terrible” is not really going to support a 12 billion dollar industry.

    lets move on to more objective points;

    “Bottled water manufacturers are not required to disclose as much information as municipal water utilities because of gaps in federal oversight authority, according to reports released yesterday by government auditors.

    Bottom line: The Food and Drug Administration oversees bottled water, and U.S. EPA is in charge of tap water. FDA lacks the regulatory authority of EPA, John Stephenson of the Government Accountability Office told a House panel.

    The Safe Drinking Water Act empowers EPA to require water testing by certified laboratories and that violations be reported within a specified time frame. Public water systems must also provide reports to customers about their water, noting its source, evidence of contaminants and compliance with regulations.

    By comparison, GAO said, FDA regulates bottled water as a food and cannot require certified lab testing or violation reporting. Furthermore, FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water came from, how it has been treated or what contaminants it contains.”


    In other words, there is no way you can support your claim, and substantial reason to call it nonsense.

    Oh, and:

    “, the Dasani water brand, which is owned by beverage giant Coca-Cola, is one such bottled water counterfeit, if you will, that contains purified tap water dressed in fancy-looking bottles. Like many other bottled water brands, Dasani is sold at a premium price, and many people perceive it to be superior to tap water, even though it actually is just tap water.”

    — I could go on. And on and on and on, because the simple fact is that any claim that bottled water is “safer” than the local municipal water supply is, pure and simply bullshit.

    And occasional convenience also does not account for 12 billion dollars spent on a fungible good that comes almost free from any tap connected to a municipal water supply.

    I will grant that as bottled water HAS become basically ubiquitous there is a real convenience factor for occasional outdoor activity in just buying some bottled water for the occasion vs. buying a durable bottle you then need to store someplace between uses. But that’s only because the stuff is already ubiquitous, and I rode a bicycle tens of thousands of miles using my own water bottles and my own (leaving home) or whatever other source of tap water I could find.

    So, in the end, the only thing that explains a 12 billion dollar market in an almost free commodity is human gullibility manipulated by advertising.

    Which is the absolute opposite of what Jane is claiming. It’s not that people don’t want advice, you just have to wrap it up in the right kind of bow.

    Then you can sell them god damned near anything, including greasing the path to hell for them. So to speak.

  7. Uh, Michael? You might want to contemplate the difference between “purified tap water” and “just tap water.” Nor would I regard “tested by the government” as the ultimate guarantee of safety and pleasure.

    Should you? You keep telling us with every assurance of confidence, how much the corporations influence the government, and you’ve already given us your opinion of corporations.


    14 Sep 13 at 9:34 am

  8. I grew up in Detroit, which has (had) some of the best-tasting tap water in the US. It’s basically Lake Huron water with the fish crap filtered out and minimal chlorination. Then I moved to Los Angeles, where the water is….gah. Not so good. It’s not actively bad, but only good enough to take a pill or spit out after brushing one’s teeth.

    However, run through a Britta filter, it’s quite palatable. Unlike Dasani, which tastes like CRAP. Many bottled waters do, I find. My usual, when I need a portable, easy water, is Arrowhead, which is genuinely bottled from a mountain spring. My favorite is Fiji water, which tastes delicious, but is, it seems to me, an ecologically unsustainable indulgence.

    It is a sort of marketing genius to take a necessity of life and make it fashionable and expensive. What’s next, designer salt? Oh wait….


    14 Sep 13 at 10:50 am

  9. “Uh, Michael? You might want to contemplate the difference between “purified tap water” and “just tap water.”

    Why? It’s phrase conveying exactly zero information.

    E.g., “hardened steel” actually conveys *some* information. There are generally recognized technical definitions of what qualifies as “steel” and what “hardening” steel is and how it is accomplished.

    If someone were to sell a product with the claim that it was made of hardened steel and it turned out to be ductile iron with a clear coat of polyurethane they could end up deep legal trouble.

    But what, exactly, is it to “purify” already clean, sanitary, drinkable water? What exactly does one to do to further purify an already arguably pure substance?

    If you can explain it, perhaps I can contemplate it.

    “Nor would I regard “tested by the government” as the ultimate guarantee of safety and pleasure.”

    –Do you have any data suggesting that municipal water suppliers/testers are incompetent or dishonest, on any meaningful scale?

    Given the spectacular, albeit foreseeable, failures of self regulation, how else in this technological city centered civilization where people we don’t know deliver goods transported and handled by people we also will never know after being produced in parts unknown to us personally by yet more people we will never know personally – how else do you propose that we guarantee the safe delivery of safe products?

    I’m all ears.

  10. I do actually agree that a lot of the bottled water sold isn’t sold because of convenience, the incorrect assumption that a lot of water is necessary for health or the bad taste of the local supply. It just doesn’t bother me much that other people spend money in ways I think are wasteful, whether or not they do it because the company selling the water says they should.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “any meaninful scale” when it comes to incompetant and dishonest municiple water testers, but the Ontario provincial government’s efforts to download things that had been their responsibility to another level of government, to be paid for by that government’s budget, resulted in the Walkerton tragedy. They were lucky – only seven people died. The water testers were untrained and also understood their job so little that they saw nothing wrong with reporting the results that they should have gotten from their tests rather than the ones they actually did.

    Unintended consequences of policy change, again.


    14 Sep 13 at 5:45 pm

  11. Michael, much tap water is purified river water, but I don’t think you’d argue the term has no meaning in that contest.


    14 Sep 13 at 7:10 pm

  12. “Michael, much tap water is purified river water, but I don’t think you’d argue the term has no meaning in that context.”

    In that context, taking muddy, bacteria laden water and processing it to be drinkable, then no, there’s no problem identifying what “purify” means.

    When you take that already purified product, however, and then calm to “purify” it — what, exactly, is one is claiming to be doing?

    Other than using a marketing buzz word.

    E.g., “de-mineralized ” at least has some meaning, if no standards. “Chlorine free” is straightforward enough, if unimportant except to those deluded enough to think the trace amounts of chlorine left in municipal water is a problem.

    And slightly lowering or even eliminating the mineral content and removing the last traces of a chemical initially used to purify the water and which presents no risks to human health in the amounts left is most certainly not to “remove contaminants from”.

    But you can’t fix stupid.

    What COULD be fixed, to a great extent, are lies and/or extremely misleading characterizations in corporate advertising/”press releases”.

    Like “purifying” already pure water.

  13. Well, technically, drinking water isn’t pure water, so removing trace elements from it is purifying it. This is perfectly accurate and not at all misleading. An implication or statement that the process has any effect on the health of those drinking it might be misleading, but simply trumpeting one’s produce as ‘pure’ isn’t.

    But it’s the responsibility of the consumer to decide whether or not they want to pay for this additional bit of purifying.


    15 Sep 13 at 4:37 pm

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