Donald Trump is a clown, and his popularity among voters reflects poorly on the electorate and bodes ill for our society. The 2006 movie Idiocracy provides an entertaining view of where the dumbing down of society and politics is leading us. You should watch the whole thing. Meanwhile, here’s one of my favorite scenes: President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho’s address to Congress. The Donald’s got nothing on him!
Are you bothered by articles with headlines like, 21 Euphoric Experiences for People Who Just Love Food, 11 Christmas Cards Only Cubans Would Send or 7 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Get Organized for the Holidays? (These are just a few of the articles on BuzzFeed’s home page as I write this.)
I don’t like them either, and I don’t read them. (Neither should you.) So I thought I would do something therapeutic by explaining what’s wrong with them.
The name for this format is “listicle.” It suggests a popsicle. Sweet, cheap, and with no nutritional value. That should be enough to keep you away.
Most listicles are unoriginal. The writers aren’t experts; they’re just organizing a bunch of other junk they found on the web.
Listicles are a tired format. Maybe you enjoyed the first few. Even the first few dozen. But aren’t you sick of them by now? Or are listicles more like crystal meth where you just can’t stop even if you’re brain literally rots out of your head?
A good writer only needs three reasons to explain something.
You’re a mature person. You’ve learned to avoid jailbait and are probably not even tempted by it. Can you say the same about clickbait? The publishers don’t care if you learn anything from the listicle. They just want you to see the advertising surrounding the piece.
Listicle sounds way too much like a synonym for gonad.
Oh where oh where have my Twitter shares gone? Oh where oh where can they be?
Like most bloggers I have an option for readers to share posts they like (or hate) on social media, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The share buttons at the bottom of the posts also indicate how many people have shared a post on each platform. Usually Twitter is the most popular share for my blog, followed by LinkedIn and then Facebook.
WordPress.com is pretty easy to use but it’s also glitchy. When I scroll down the page on my blog I notice it often stops showing share counts after the first several posts, although if you click on a specific post the share counts will reappear.
So at first when the Twitter counts disappeared a couple weeks ago I figured it was just a WordPress problem and probably a transient one. But after a few days I started to get suspicious and so probed a bit further. Turns out Twitter announced a couple months back that it was removing the share counts. For the life of me I can’t figure out why they would do it. All the other social media sites have kept theirs.
Irritate publishers, bloggers and authors like me who use share counts as a lightweight performance metric
Stick another two fingers up to developers, who are used to it by now
Remove Twitter from being relevant, when it comes to social proof“
I’ve put quite a lot of effort into Twitter over the past five years or so and have a solid following there of over 9500 people. Twitter is easy to use and informative, but this move is a real pain in the neck.
My favorite social network is LinkedIn. I’m proudest of the posts that generate the most shares there and am surprised at how many people read the blog on LinkedIn.
Anyway, you’re still invited to share my blog posts on Twitter. You just won’t know if you’re the first or 101st to do so, and neither will anyone else.
Question: What do obese, middle-aged and older, mute Americans with Type II diabetes do for fun?
Answer: At least according to this TV commercial for Invokana, they wander around waiting for frisbees with alluring images to glide down from the sky, then clutch the discs tight to change their lives.
I was struck by this 2-minute ad, which I saw a couple times while at the gym. The group really does personify the obesity and Type II diabetes statistics you read about. The ad makes the pill sound quite promising –explaining how great it is for glucose control and adding that it can even help patients lose weight.
The actors keep enjoying new frisbees right through the extensive discussion of side effects. It seemed odd to see a woman clutch a frisbee with what looks a lot like a diagram of the female pelvic anatomy at the same time the urinary tract infection and genital yeast infection side effects are discussed. Check it out around 1:07.
At first I thought this was an ironic and unintentional placement but when I watched it again I noticed that during the dehydration side effect around 0:50 the guy pulls down a frisbee with a water bottle on it and packs it up for his hike.
The commercial is somewhat surreal but on the whole I do find it communicates effectively. I bet it will be a success.
As much fun as it looks to have Type II diabetes, I still prefer this video from Virgin America , which takes the boring airplane safety video and turns it into something much more exciting and active than expected. It also includes actors holding on to things from the sky, in this case safety cards.
(And you’ll see there is absolutely zero cast crossover…)
A new study on use of electronic health portals by patients with chronic kidney disease is another example of telling us something we already know: people with lower socioeconomic status don’t adopt healthcare innovations to the same extent as those with higher status. In this case, white, young, married, commercially insured, higher income patients used the portal more.
Here’s what the lead author told NPR about the study:
“Despite the increasing availability of smartphones and other technologies to access the Internet, the adoption of e-health technologies does not appear to be equitable,” Abdel-Kader says. “As we feel we are advancing, we may actually perversely be reinforcing disparities that we had been making progress on.”
Presumably the portal users expected to receive some sort of benefit as a result of logging in. However, from what I can understand from the NPR story and study abstract, the researchers were unable to document the clinical benefit (better blood pressure control) that they were expecting to find.
So maybe a better conclusion is that relatively privileged people with the luxury of time and bandwidth on their hands tend to waste time and resources on a portal that doesn’t provide benefits, while those with lower status focus on more important and productive pursuits.
Ok, that conclusion may not be correct either, but I have real doubts about the usefulness of this research.
It’s ironic that the authors –while bemoaning barriers to access and arguing passionately for policies to address it– published their study and accompanying editorial behind a paywall in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology rather than with an open access publisher such as PLOS. I’m curious about the details of the study but not enough to pay $27 for the article and another $27 to read the editorial. I’m going to spend my $54 on something better.