How Not To Sell Me Your Fancy HVAC System

July 20, 2010 35 comments

We have to replace our furnace/ac.  The  AC is dead as a doornail, both are over 20 or 25 yrs old and horribly inefficient. So we’ve been getting quotes. Got two that came in at $6500 and $6800 for 3 ton 100,000 BTU 95% efficient 14.5 SEER variable flow and all that jazz. Third dude came today and did a long presentation after having measured all sorts of shit and went on about importance of proper installation, bla bla, explained all sorts of bla-di-bla about the equipment, how their employees are carefully screened and drug tested and they don’t allow any convicts to work for them because in prison they teach convicts plumbing and HVAC and here’s a picture of brown dudes in prison uniforms studying to come rape and kill your wife in your own home under the guise of installing your new furnace and ac, and you can get a heat pump too to further reduce costs, and bla bla more tech stuff, and voila! four options for your consideration, good, better, best, wow, ranging from $11k to $16k.

And I said, “WTF?”

But wait, don’t answer yet, there are rebates, and we can take this and that off, and discounts, and I can come down on price, and so on, and now the four options range from just under $9k to $11k or something like that.

And I said, “dude, you might want to rethink that one part of your sales pitch where you subtly scare me about the brown prison dudes coming into my house.”

And he said, “well, yes, but Ashton Kutcher’s ex-girlfriend was killed by an ex-con, and there are white guys in that photo too.”

I do not think we will be buying the fancy expensive heat pump furnace from this dude with the laminated pictures of scary brown men in prison uniforms studying earnestly to come rape and kill me in my own home.

Welcome To This New Spot

July 20, 2010 36 comments

Yay!  You found your way over here to the new-ish digs of TSZ.  I haven’t got the place all set up yet.  Posts from the old ScienceBlogs site are imported but there may be some broken links and some doubling of some posts.  Haven’t had a chance to clean the place up yet and decorate properly.  But welcome anyway.

Stay tuned for some posts and maybe some other announcements.

Categories: Announcements

“The Same and Not the Same”

July 9, 2010 17 comments

The Same and Not the Same” is the title of a fantastic book by Nobel Prize winning chemist Roald Hoffman. It’s a great place to get a hearty dose of science + culture. Part Eight of the book is titled “Value, Harm, and Democracy” and has all sorts of interesting stuff in it on chemistry and industry, environmental concerns, chemistry, education & democracy. It does not have a section on what to do when you are running a media empire and your advertisers want you to censor your writers because they are still feeling a bit touchy over that whole messy Bhopal business, but you can’t cover everything in one book.
I have been extremely sad the past few days as I watch the Seed/ScienceBlogs Pepsigeddon nightmare unfold before me. Being part of ScienceBlogs has been extremely important to me, and something I’ve always been proud to claim affiliation with.
In my last post, I sought to draw an analogy between what I thought I saw happening with the now defunct, ill-fated PepsiCo blogvertorial at ScienceBlogs, and the previous struggles Ms. went through in the days it accepted advertising. Feminism and science are uneasy bedfellows at best, but they have this in common: most citizens are ignorant or ill-informed at best about them; are subjected to vast amounts of dis- and mis-information through highly effective marketing and propaganda machines that are better funded that the authoritative sources; and don’t always know where to go look when they do decide they want some reliable information on the topic. In addition, they are not the kinds of topics that advertisers flock to in droves. So funding a witty, attractive, meaningful, public-serving, truth-telling enterprise devoted to either subject is a daunting enterprise.
That’s what’s the same.
Here’s what’s not the same between the editors of Ms. and whatever passes for editorial ethics and guidance at Seed:
Ms., in 1990, at the time of going advertising free:

It’s been almost three years away from life between the grindstones of advertising pressures and readers’ needs. I’m just beginning to realize how edges got smoothed down–in spite of all our resistance. I remember feeling put upon when I changed “Porsche” to “car” in a piece about Nazi imagery in German pornography by Andrea Dworkin–feeling sure Andrea would understand that Volkswagen, the distributor of Porsche and one of our few supportive advertisers, asked only to be far away from Nazi subjects. It’s taken me all this time to realize the Andrea was the one with a right to feel put upon. Even as I write this, I get a call from a writer of Elle, who is doing a whole article on where women part their hair. Why, she wants to know, do I part mine in the middle? It’s all so familiar. A writer trying to make something of a nothing assignment; an editor laboring to think of new ways to attract ads: readers assuming that other women must want this ridiculous stuff; more women suffering from lack of information, insight, creativity, and laughter that could be on the these same pages.
I ask you: Can’t we do better than this?

Seed editor, 2010, as quoted in Guardian article:

We’re not running the bhopal piece, and we’re passing on the Maldive shark ban (a bit late now… Too bad it got caught up in prod week… ). As for Bhopal, it’s a cautionary call on our part as we’re in the midst of advertising negotiations with Dow (who have been inspired by Seed’s photography in their own brand campaigns). RE: the payment, as you’re on a scheduled direct-payment, the bhopal fee covers the Kerry/Carbon trading news piece fee that was outstanding. Let me know if that’s clear.

It’s clear that twenty years later, we really can’t do any better. We’re not just agonizing over toning down a word choice, we’re killing whole articles so that Dow doesn’t get its fee-fees hurt over that whole regrettable Bhopal thingy. Not because we already have an advertiser we don’t want to lose, but one we hope to gain. We’re shutting our mouths before anyone has even asked us to.
Read that Ms. editorial, and see what they went through, what their willingness to speak out cost them in terms of advertising dollars, the contortions they went through to hang on to the few advertisers they were able to coax to the table. Adam Bly, you really couldn’t have tried even half as hard as Gloria Steinem? Really?
Zuskateers, I believe this is my last straw. I’m leaving tomorrow for a week with Z-Mom, and there is supposed to be a conference call this week that will mollify all my concerns. I am ruminating, and will make an announcement when I am back from time with mom about my plans for the future.
UPDATE: response here and comments that follow.

Everything Old Is New Again: ZOMFG!!! Ads Influence Our Media!

July 7, 2010 95 comments

By now, perhaps, you are aware of the uproar about the ScienceBlogs corner of the bloggysphere. PepsiCo has bought started a blog here, called Food Frontiers. Many are unhappy, bloggers and commenters alike. Read PalMD’s take, and commenters there, for one perspective.

One of the potential disadvantages [of a blog network] is advertising and sponsorship. Here at Sb, we’ve been very fortunate in that our content is completely independent. We control anything in the center column. The top and right however belong to Sb, and they use this space to keep the place running. There have been several times when the advertising has been less-than-appropriate, and SEED has responded by altering it, but in this economy, it pays to be flexible. Ad content can serve as blog fodder. There’s nothing preventing those of us who blog here from critiquing the ad content as vigorously as we wish to…PepsiCo’s PR flacks basically own a the center column content on one of our blogs. This is not only a fundamental conflict of interest, it’s also deceptive. If PepsiCo is providing the content, it should, in my opinion, be clearly labelled as advertising.

The only way to be free of any corporate influence over content is to be 100% ad-free, as Ms Magazine so candidly revealed to us at the beginning of the 1990’s in Gloria Steinem’s famous editorial, “Sex, Lies, & Advertising“, with this stunner of an opener:

Read more…


July 1, 2010 13 comments

sbzombies_zuska.png Zombie women of the world, I ask you: why are we content to shamble aimlessly along behind our brethren, following them willy-nilly, eating the leftover brains, and cleaning up after they senselessly destroy some village? Would it kill them to take a turn minding the zombikins for a change? No, it would not. Because they are undead.
There I was just last week, shambling along after Nigel on Shakedown Street. Like he knew where he was going! “Would it fucking KILL you to stop and ask for directions?” I asked him for the eleventy-fucktillionth time. “I’m pretty sure we are shambling away from the Mutter Museum, not towards it.” I am sure you know what happened next. He just zombisplained me about zombie men’s superior shambling gait and kept on in the same direction.
Eventually we shambled into Rittenhouse Square, which is lovely, but definitely NOT the Mutter Museum. About the time Nigel was ready to embark upon the tenth shambling circuit of the park, hoping a sign for the Mutter Museum would appear, it occurred to me that I could just sit down on one of those darling benches in the park. I won’t lie to you: I’d taken notice of all the humans in the park and, feeling a bit famished, I wasn’t fancying another meal of leftover brains. I begged Nigel to stop the shambling and go with me but he just muttered “We’re making good tiiiiiiiiiiiiiime…..”

Read more…

What’s So Great About Your STEMmy Lifestyle Anyway? Inquiring Minds Want To Know!

June 29, 2010 54 comments

Why should any woman get any degree in a STEM discipline? Especially if she has to wade through tons of bullshit courses to get there, and part of the learning, it appears, has to do with learning how to be someone you aren’t? Some other gender, some other race – or some other social class?
skeptifem challenges the female STEM universe thus:

Read more…

This Just In: Scientists Discover True Nature Of Bullying!

June 28, 2010 101 comments

Jun. 28, 2010 10:45 PM ET
Douchey McDoucherson, ScienceBlogs Writers
Scientists have recently discovered that popular bloggers can taunt and gloat over the downfall of unpopular bloggers, and bask in the warm glow of widespread support – but only if proper precautions are taken while engaging in this dangerous enterprise. Most of the relevant research was published in a leading online linguistics journal.
Noted meangirl, petulant whiner, and internet gadfly Zuskaids was quick to critcize the major finding on a blog nobody reads, in the aggressive snark favored by her hellish mob: “These results cannot be generalized to the population at large. They did their study on a population comprised entirely of white males. I cannot believe the government continues to fund studies like this. Even the cress fanciers are bitching about this sort of thing these days.”
At a recent online conference convened to celebrate the discovery, Professor Inoya R. Butwutumi observed,

This is no more bullying than an isolated incident of the most popular kids at school gloating at the least popular kid when it turns out that all the friends he claimed to have are made up.
If they go on an on about it and hound him all over the place and never let him forget it, that could approach bullying, but only then.
Otherwise it is nothing more than a reaction to finding out that someone you don’t like who has been criticising you is a liar and a hypocrite. Just because Greg and Myers are popular doesn’t mean they can’t gloat a little.

Esteemed blogger and skepticod00dtastical Übermensch Haddid Kumingtoim observed that these sorts of dominance challenges from nomadic males naturally provoke a swift and deadly response in kind from the alphas, who must defend their territory and kill or oust those who violate the rules of the tribe. “No mercy,” declared Kumingtoim. “It seems harsh to us, but the herd must be culled of the weak and unfit.”
At press time, it was not yet clear whether the Domestic Sockpuppet Threat Level, currently listed as High or Orange, would soon be reduced to Elevated or Yellow. Dedicated DSTL analysts were tense, yet hopeful, that this terroristic threat to blogging’s credibility might yet be defeated.
ScienceBlogs writer Douchey McDoucherson contributed to this report.

Categories: Uncategorized