The Economist just published a list of the cities with the dirtiest air in the world’s largest economies. But that’s nothing, until you look at the source database from the World Health Organization, which I managed to find for download here. Find your city and compare it to others. I was staggered to find Montreal as Canada’s most polluted city, despite being global leaders in hydro power. The USA has pretty good air quality in just about every city including the giants of NY, and LA.
They say that you are what you do, but lately I’ve heard the expression, “You do what you are”. I like it, and feel that it is a far better way of explaining the mysterious occupations many of us pursue. This also goes a lot farther in explaining how I got into Psychology and to what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years, namely developing a process and methodology whereby people can freely disclose their most frank and intimate beliefs about companies, organizations, vendors, you name it. We called this “product”, Psychmentation, and it has been enormously successful for our firm, used by some of the largest and most successful global organizations to better understand how their customers and employees perceive them.
You might say, I’m in the bullshit or delusion busting business, and times are good…never before has there been so much deception, lies, misinformation, disinformation, and just outright bullshit as in the current age of the internet. In fact, I think if the great historians, Will and Ariel Durant were still working on their Magnus Opus, ours might well be titled, The Age of Bullshit. I really do.
Rest assured however, that I am just as much as you frustrated by how tough it is to get at any semblance of truthful information about ANY topic. It seems that every proposition is immediately and aggressively blasted by competing interests, usually with selective information meant to support their opposing view. Before you know it, protesters are lying on the street blockading the embassy of some offending nation or the offices of some corporation. I’m not saying these actions are unjustified, I’m simply saying that they are usually premature and based on motivated reasoning rather than balanced information, analysis, and judgement.
So where do you go for sound, balanced, responsible, accountable analysis and facts? We used to rely on newspapers and magazines, but many of these have either starved to death or fallen victim to corruption in the unfettered rush to financial salvation in the age of “free” information, selling their souls to the Devil. I’ve got news for you…it’s never really free.
I’ve been looking for somewhere to start, reviewing the ownership profiles, Mission statements, and editorial policies of the various remaining “serious” journalistic outlets. I have decided to begin with the doggedly centrist, The Economist. I’ve been reading many of their articles and like the balanced view. I like the anonymity of each piece, crafted not for the celebrity and glorification of a single person, but reviewed and contributed to by many participants.
Many hands write The Economist, but it speaks with a collective voice. Leaders are discussed, often disputed, each week in meetings that are open to all members of the editorial staff. Journalists often co-operate on articles. And some articles are heavily edited. The main reason for anonymity, however, is a belief that what is written is more important than who writes it.
The About section is a fascinating glimpse into the history and evolution of one of the last remaining serious “newspapers”. I’m also looking for equivalent Left and Right of centre vehicles to complete my efforts to cut through the shit and get to the Shineola! I ordered a hard-copy weekly subscription which also provides access to all digital versions. I’ll keep you posted on thoughts over the next year.
I did a review of Cremo Cream a number of years ago. It fared pretty well, although I found it more suitable to a cartridge razor than a DE, speculating at the time that the thickness of the cream might be clogging up the blade. I remember that, at the time, I loved the packaging and the coconut smell, but found the shave quality just OK. A few weeks ago, the makers of Cremo Cream asked me to do a follow up review, as the product line has changed and expanded. I was pleased to oblige with the usual warning that I could not be bought with a few samples….that would require substantial money in at least the 4 digit range (hey, this is shaving we’re talking about, not smartphones). They didn’t oblige.
The product line has grown nicely with just the right assortment; the makers of Cremo Cream have wisely avoided flooding it with all the crazy shit that high-end brands go for, like eye cream, firming lotion, toner, and a host of other stuff derived from the junk they sell women. Cremo is a straightforward, useful line with shave cream, face wash, and moisturizer. I could see a good clean shampoo and body wash in their future, as valuable line extensions that would fit nicely for men’s grooming.
The main differences between the Men’s and Women’s lines is the scent of the shave cream; Bergamot for men and the original Coconut for women. I liked the original scent and used both in this test series. The Bergamot is very pleasant, as is the Coconut. A nice choice to make on different days (or you could use both, one on each side of your face for a real zing!). The packaging is very distinctive, especially the shave cream, which uses a hefty tube with a good feel to it. Gone is the original red cross, replaced by a crown. Not sure why. Perhaps, the Red Cross complained of brand infringement, or simply having something that signifies a medical emergency might not be creating the best image for a shave cream! I wonder how long the crown will last….perhaps Rolex will complain of brand infringement.
I tend to classify shave products into one of two categories: Modern and Traditional. Modern products tend to be very slick, slippery, and non-drying on the one hand, but they also tend to leave a slight film on the skin on the other. Traditional products tend to be less slick and require a bit more work to get a good lather, but rinse off very cleanly, consistent with their soap base. I use and like both types of products, preferring the Modern when I’m using a cartridge razor; they seem very well mated to each other. I still prefer a good traditional shave soap or cream when using a DE or straight razor. The Modern products are also less drying, a result, I suspect, of the film that is left on the skin. Unlike many who take up traditional shaving, I am not dogmatic. Like good cuisine, I like it all….just because I like Chinese, doesn’t mean I can’t like Greek food equally well. It’s not an either/or situation.
Cremo Cream tends to the Modern, as do the Cremo Wash and the Moisturizer.
The Cremo Wash is effective, although it does leave a hint of film on the skin. On the other hand, it is not at all drying. I would likely appreciate the Cremo Wash more in the colder months where a Canadian Winter will turn your skin into parchment in no time. In the Summer, I prefer a soap as my pre-shave wash because the skin is already pretty oily from the heat and sweat. What I’ve been doing lately, which may sound crazy, is loading up my shaving brush with a good shave soap, and washing my whole face with the brush, prior to reapplying the soap for a shave; a little homemade exfoliation! Works great!
The Shave Cream produces a very nice lather, whether you use a brush or just your fingertips. It loves water and gets very slick. It produces an outstanding shave with a good cartridge razor (my own preference is the Harry’s line; the best of its ilk and close to the DE “feel”). I also used it with a DE and it was fine, although, IMHO, a classic soap or cream still play better with cold steel. I didn’t have the guts to try it with a straight, mainly because I’m still learning and am petrified most of the time. Did I already mention that I really like the scent of Cremo Cream?
The Moisturizer is effective, odourless, goes on easily and dries quickly, It feels in between a balm and a cream, with a slight milky transparency. It’s a very good product, especially if you insist, as I do, on a scentless moisturizer. Clinique’s M-Lotion, my all-time favourite is just slightly better, but I also like variety and would see Cremo Moisturizer as an excellent alternative. Chinese vs. Greek, remember?
Overall, I was very impressed by the evolution of the Cremo line and its performance. It’s a modern line for the traditional shaver. Hey, that’s not a bad tag line. If you eschew the high-end modern stuff as expensive fluff directed at Metros, but want something that offers a taste of the modern while staying close to traditional values, Cremo is a great offering. Enjoy…I’m off to a good Chinese lunch, all this talk of food has made me hungry!
I’ve promised to get some exercise using a new colloquialism I learned this week, “Asshat”, a somewhat more polite version of its better known sister term.
Last year, I had sent out some information about one of our services to senior pharma executives. One guy, a VP with one of the Big 5 pharma companies, responded with a request to meet. I brought along one of our Associates, an MD. We had a good meeting. I subsequently followed up with the potential client, but to no avail. No responses to my emails or phone messages. This appears to be the new standard of discourtesy; just don’t respond until they get the message you’re not interested. It frankly pisses me off. If you don’t want what we’re offering, just say so. We’re big boys (and girls) and can take it. But don’t make me waste my time following up with you because I think you may not have received my email!
Anyway, I just learned that after an illustrious 20 year career with the company, this gentleman has been downsized, and as is typical, has opened his own one-man consulting business (“Consulting” is often a euphemism for, “I lost my job and am ashamed to tell anyone”). His first steps will likely include trying to leverage his network for work. This will likely include other consulting firms. I hope he calls. I will steer him to the dictionary for the term Asshat.
It was raining cats and dogs when we pulled up to my VPN pizza heaven, Viva Napoli, in Toronto last week. There were a few available parking spaces out front and the signage (as far as I could tell since there were several signs each with different messages) seemed to indicate that it was OK to park there. We had a marvellous meal, but on exiting the restaurant I found a yellow plasticized parking ticket for $60 on my windshield. Downer!
I always pay my tickets promptly and attach the receipt, keeping them all in my glove compartment in the event that some cop stops me and claims I have unpaid tickets. I went to the City of Toronto payment web site indicated on the ticket and tried to make my payment. Every time I entered the infraction number, I received the response: “Your ticket has already been paid”. Computer glitch I figured. This morning, I called their customer service number and spoke to a representative, who informed me that the ticket had been cancelled because we were from Quebec and they don’t like to penalize visitors, or to quote the young lady on the phone, “It’s bad for tourism”.
I told my son. His reply was au point: “That’s so Canadian….we give you a ticket so that you’ll learn from the experience, but we don’t want it to hurt”. I laughed. You’d never see that in Montreal. Hell, here they would also slap a boot on your car if you’re from out of town, to make sure you paid the ticket instead of skipping out!
Canada’s new anti-spam legislation comes into effect shortly, and I’ve been receiving quite a few requests from various sites that I interact with, for permission to continue to send me emails. Apparently, the new law carries massive fines for Canadian companies who send unsolicited emails. Suddenly, my own company can no longer send press releases to our massive contact list built over many years. We would have to send each person a formal continuation request, and many will simply ignore it, as I did for many sites that I wasn’t excited about.
All in all, this new legislation will eliminate probably 20 unsolicited emails per month from my inbox. 20. I get about a thousand a day from “other” sources, based in India, Africa, and other places not bound by our laws. What a joke! In reality, I didn’t even mind the emails I was getting from these “marginal” vendors; occasionally they had something that did interest me. But they’re not the ones clogging up the internet morons! God knows how many millions have been spent passing this law and setting up its enforcement. And it eliminates maybe 0.1% of my spam. Yup, my tax dollars at work.
I can rest assured that my daily inundation of emails for testosterone pills, Viagra, Russian Brides, and hair loss supplements will continue unabated. Hmmm….is there a pattern there?
My grandmother used to put a tablespoon of butter in her morning coffee. We all thought it was really weird, but since she didn’t eat much, we saw it as a small peccadillo on her part. She was never overweight. Rarely ate breakfast, had a light lunch and dinner. Never smoked. Never admitted to hospital. Had a couple of small procedures over her lifespan: Removal of a tiny fishbone from her throat in the ER, and a breast lumpectomy under local anaesthesia in the doctor’s office at age 85. Died at age 96 (or more; old Greek ladies tended to lie about their age).
Now comes “Bulletproof coffee”. A couple tablespoons of grass-fed butter and two more of MCT oil (whatever the Hell that is) in two cups of coffee, blended up and drunk down for breakfast. Proponents claim it is a powerful weight-loss tool as well as tasting great. Good summary in this Men’s Journal article. Photo from the article. Seems to be the “next new thing” in dieting and health.
Did bulletproofing her coffee add to my grandmother’s health and longevity? Sure it did. It was magic! Couldn’t have been the fact that she ate very small quantities of food, never smoked, worked physically all day, and rushed to the doctor at the slightest symptom (Mediterranean Syndrome)! Nah….it was the butter and coffee.
Like kidney stones…this too will pass.
Just back from a week out West, 4 nights in Vancouver and one in Regina (Saskatchewan for our American readers). In Vancouver I stayed at the Sheraton Wall Centre, across from St. Paul’s Hospital, where most of my meetings were. The week before I was in Toronto, staying variably at Sheraton, Holiday Inn, and Hilton hotels. Regardless of venue, I noticed one thing: All upper-range hotels have gone the “pouffy” route. They have, for all intents and purposes, been feminized with designs intended to please that gender. The needs of the male traveller seem irrelevant, mirroring the apparent redundancy of men in the general society.
What do I mean by “pouffy”? Here’s a list:
1. Ultra soft beds with layer upon layer of crisp sheets, thick duvets and massive pillows. One feels more swallowed up than supported.
2. Lots of hair conditioner, skin lotions, hairnets, manicure files….but rarely seen shaving cream and body wash.
3. Small toilet bowls incapable of fully supporting the well endowed male arse and family jewels at the same time. Often covered by lids that refuse to stay up (by design).
4. Bathrobes in “one size fits all”, unless you happen to be taller than 5’9” and heavier than 200 lbs. Get the hint?
5. Lovely pastel coloured furnishings and decorations
6. A misty shower incapable of washing off the soap from a large hairy body unless you’re prepared to spend 40 minutes in the so-called shower!
7. Deep jacuzzi style tubs with shelves all around for candles and some roses.
On the last night, I stayed at the Holiday Inn in downtown Regina. A quite town, catering to farm equipment salesmen and oil drillers. The bed was wonderfully firm. No duvet. The shower had a massive head and enough pressure to wash a circus elephant. The morning breakfast buffet had real food. The furnishings were mainly dark woods. The flat-screen TV was massive and the remote worked well. A man’s hotel.
I installed a fully functional trial version of SpamSieve on the recommendation of my friend Leisureguy a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been suffering a literal spam invasion, getting somewhere around 2000 a day from my four email accounts. The resident filter in Apple Mail is completely incompetent (as was the one in Outlook previously); it learns very poorly and continues to deliver the same crap from the same addresses into my Inbox. With both Apple Mail and Outlook, the number of false positives, i.e., good emails that go to the JunkMail folder, is very high, requiring constant monitoring of the JunkMail box; a somewhat self-defeating exercise time-wise.
SpamSieve is easy to install if you are a reasonably competent computer user. I would rate it a 5 on the 10-point difficulty scale compared to most Apple software, which usually installs almost seamlessly around 2-3 on the scale. SpamSieve actually requires you to READ instructions, follow them, and set a few parameters. The problem is that there are so many email programs out there, that the instructions appear vast and intimidating until you realize that you must first pick which email “client” you are using (Apple Mail, Outlook, etc.). The first time I looked at SpamSieve a few months ago, I gave up just reading the initial setup directions. That was a mistake: It’s much easier than they make it sound.
Once installed, SpamSieve is very easy to train and it REMEMBERS. If you have some spam emails in your Inbox or JunkMail, you point SpamSieve to it and it uses them to train itself. It is uncannily good at catching crap, and once you train it on the ones that manage to sneak by, it catches them faultlessly in the future. It also seems to have some form of blocker, because my spam has “dwindled” to about 300 a day.
Overall, I like SpamSieve and will buy it when the trial expires. For $30 it’s a bargain.