June 21, 2010

BNP Paragraphs

"BNP Paribas- The bank for a changing world.
BNP Paribas has been supporting tennis worldwide for nearly 40 years. We sponsor events such as The BNP Paribas Showdown in New York City, The BNP Paribas Open in California, The Davis Cup, and many others."
I've driven past this billboard for the two weeks and had to take a picture of it just to get to the end of the fucking text.  And now that I have, what a letdown. My first impression was that it was a some sort of BP parody protest billboard, or at the least, a random rambling diatribe against unfair wages for union tennis players. Either way, I was fairly certain it was coming from a non-profit company that has a lot to say but doesn't have money in the budget for corporate communications or marketing. But, no, this is the 11th largest company in the world according to Forbes Magazine. It's also the 1st largest block of TL;DR I've ever seen on the side of a highway in my life.

Call me an ignoramus, but I never heard of BNP Paribas until I looked it up on the internets today. That it's a bank certainly doesn't come across the billboard. Yeah, it says "Bank" up top (it's not that washed out in real life), but there are approximately 50 other words competing with it! And a giant tennis racket (or electric flyswatter)! A quick search online teaches me that an effective billboard only contains 4 or 5 words on a billboard... 8 at the most. This is 50 words--IN ALL CAPS--and I still don't understand their point. The BNP Parabis Showdown was back in March. The US Open is coming up soon, but they even don't sponsor that. WTF BNP?

The billboard is located eastbound on Rt. 280 in what I believe is technically Harrison, NJ. The speed limit there is 65 mph [update: it's actually 50] and traffic is very rarely backed up in this direction. Unless your car has broken down at this exact spot (which actually did happen to me here), there is probably no one on foot that will see this. Trains go by as well, but I'm not sure if they're close enough to bother reading the billboard either. Maybe being wordy is a European advertising thing, but here, it's a unattractive misfire. My other theory is that it the ad is designed for a magazine and they just got too lazy (or cocky) to be bothered a redesign for another format.

And now that I've risked FRAT in my own analysis, I'll wrap this up. Sure, you could say that maybe they accomplished something by getting me to pull out a camera and take a photo of their stupid billboard, then go to their website and blog about it to all my friends. Whatever dudes, nobody is even going to read this whole entry because it's got too much text! And I am physically incapable of spelling Paribas the same way twice! Watch--Parabis. Paribus. Palabras. Parabolas. SEE!


June 15, 2010

Your Meaty Urologist

I saw this promo on the TV the other day and thought, "Should I really be getting my health tips from a meteorologist?".  I can sort of understand why a weather broadcast would report on things like pollen count, ultraviolet levels, and smog, but I discovered that Accuweather takes it a step further into the realm of health. In addition to the standard weather maps, they have handy dandy graphs such as the Dust and Dander Forecast, the Healthy Heart Fitness Forecast, and the Arthritis Pain Forecast. Their intentions are great, sure, but I just don't know how scientifically accurate or significant these charts are. When it comes down to it, these are really just predictions based on predictions.

Let's take, for example, the Migraine Headache Forecast. In New York, NY, today rates a 1 on a scale of 1-10, or Beneficial, meaning a "lowered risk of migraine, and will help to make a headache less severe and of shorter duration." This vague description also accompanies the chart: 
Migraine Headaches can occur at any time. The AccuWeather.com Migraine Headache Forecast combines current weather with how the weather is changing to predict the probability of experiencing a migraine headache, as well as how intense it is likely to be and how long it is likely to last.
I am an occasional Migraine sufferer--about one or two debilitating Migraines a year. They used to hit me every summer, then at some point, they switched over to exclusively winter. After more than 15 years of this, I feel like I can't even predict my own Migraine patterns, if one even exists. Migraines are a fairly mysterious affliction, so they've got the disclaimer "Migraine Headaches can occur at any time," but they make little attempt at explaining how they arrived at their predictions.  So far this year, I've had Migraines on January 10th and March 15th, but Accuweather doesn't archive their statistics, so they don't allow me to test their accuracy. As with weather predictions, I don't think these folks have any interest in dwelling on the past.*

Predictions, by nature, also invite the possibility of psychosomatic effect. If I were to see a 10 on the Migraine Index for Friday, I'm probably going to stress out every day until then and actually induce one. You thought Snowmageddon was bad? Wait until Migrainageddon. Blindfolds and shades will be looted from every pharmacy in the country! The psychosomatic reinforcement may not always be negative though.  A "great day for outdoor exercise!" on the Healthy Heart Forecast may actually encourage some people to get off their asses and head to the park for some cardio. Again though, this is a prediction based on a prediction, so if the weather that day ends up being hotter and humid than Accuweather anticipated, it may end up being a 10 on the Cardiologist Pager Activity Forecast instead.

Accuweather is not the only weather organization spreading their wings. The online incarnation of The Weather Channel actually has a Beauty Forecast in their Health Department. Today, there is a chance of frizz and dry skin, and they conveniently recommend Frizz-Ease Hair Serum Extra-Strength and Jergens natural glow Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer. No, seriously:

I recognize that we are in the Age of Information, and I appreciate these weather folks wanting to supply as much data as they can for the impatient, demanding, app-consuming public. Believe me, I eat up colorful maps and cute charts for breakfast. For the most part, I do believe they have good intentions, despite occasionally playing on our insecurities to the benefit of ready sponsors. These information gatekeepers have a power that we need to be skeptical of, and we should still use our best personal judgment in the face of their charisma and enthusiasm.

Speaking of charisma and enthusiasm...

I trust him to give me health tips like I trust Dr. Steve Brule to give me the weather.

* There are apparently some sites that track the accuracy of past weather reports, but I haven't explored them much.  Correctweather.com is one example. Check It Out! For Your Weather.

June 8, 2010

Beware of Being Aware

Last week, the RoBeastress and I spotted this vehicle sporting an unusual Pretzel-Shaped Awareness Ribbon. The license plate has been slightly doctored to reflect my feelings about driving I-95 at rush hour on a holiday weekend.

Even at this close distance, the message on the decal was illegible to me, so I hypothesized that because the design itself is such an endangered species that this Pretzel-Shaped Awareness Ribbon was actually a Pretzel-Shaped Awareness Ribbon Awareness Ribbon. Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, my crime lab isn't sophisticated enough to clean up this zoomed-in surveillance photo, so this is all we have to work with. I must admit that upon closer inspection, I can make out two intertwined, yet distinct colors--blue and pink. I am now led to believe this ribbon may additionally support none or all of these following causes:
  • Transgendered Sodium Freedom
  • Interracial Awareness Ribbon Marriage
  • Heterodizygotic Conjoinedness
  • Blueberry/Strawberry Dough Farmer Harmony
  • The Lexus Nexus of the Sexes
  • Mutated Jesus Fish Stem Cell Research
  • Concession Stand Labor Union Gender Equality
  • Mr. Salty for President 2012
  • Dogs and Cats Living Together
If I'm wrong, then at least The Mars Volta has their next album track listing squared away.  Further research on the internet turned up Motivators.com, a website that sells Awareness Ribbon-Shaped Pretzels...

 ...but no Pretzel-Shaped Awareness Ribbons as far as I can tell. This one from Kim and Scott's Pretzels looks a little more appetizing...

 ...but the seagulls probably wouldn't stop to appreciate the message if I attached it to the back of my car.

Alas, a mystery has been opened and I am now too hungry to solve it. Check out this hook while my DJ revolves it.

June 7, 2010

Quite literally

...this is The Christian Science Monitor:

Apologies for the glare in the window and/or the impending 40 years of darkness.