If you’re getting on in years you may have noticed that a lot of web advertising these days consists of pitches for supplements that are supposed to improve “brain health” and prevent things like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The industry that makes these products pulls down $3.2 billion every year showing that there’s lots of folks worried about falling victim to these conditions as they age. There’s just one problem with these products: None of them have been demonstrated to do a damned thing other than drain your wallet.
“This $3.2-billion industry … benefits from high-penetration consumer advertising through print media, radio, television and the internet,” the neurologists wrote. “No known dietary supplement prevents cognitive decline or dementia, yet supplements advertised as such are widely available and appear to gain legitimacy when sold by major U.S. retailers.”
It’s bad enough that these bullshit products are sold alongside legitimate medicines at your local pharmacy, but apparently there are also licenced medical personnel that are pushing pseudo-medical treatments:
“Some of these practitioners may stand to gain financially by promoting interventions that are not covered by insurance, such as intravenous nutrition, personalized detoxification, chelation therapy, antibiotics or stem cell therapy. These interventions lack a known mechanism for treating dementia and are costly, unregulated and potentially harmful,” the article states.
There are a lot of companies out there that are eager to cash in on your fears. According to the MarketWatch article, the FDA ‘issued a statement saying it posted 17 warning and advisory letters to domestic and foreign companies that illegally sell 58 products — many of them dietary supplements — that claim to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease and other serious health conditions. […] “These products may be ineffective, unsafe and could prevent a person from seeking an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.”’
Unfortunately, the MarketWatch article takes a nosedive in the latter half by talking with a naturopath who proscribes Homeopathic treatments which is another big woo-woo bullshit industry. To her credit she agrees that using dietary supplements that aren’t backed by solid research is a problem, but that’s about the only credit she deserves. Homeopathy is an even bigger batch of nonsense than the dietary supplement industry. At least the supplements contain actual ingredients.
Don’t fall for the bullshit. The causes of Dementia and Alzheimer’s are complex and promising research is ongoing, but so far nothing has been shown to be an effective preventative of these conditions. Not only are brain health supplements just a waste of money, but they’re also potentially harmful and could end up interacting with other prescription drugs you may be taking in negative ways.
Hell, this is true for dietary supplements in general. Most do nothing other than cost money. Some are dangerous when taken with other prescription medication. Vitamin supplements are arguably useful, but only when your doctor says you actually need them. If you’re already getting all the vitamins you need from your diet then you will literally piss away anything extra you get from a supplement.
I’ve said before that I do appreciate it when the Trumpsters self-identify because it makes it easier to know who to avoid talking to, but you can overdo it:
Dude, we get it. You’re a raging asshole who is apparently willing to risk traffic tickets to tell the world whose dick you’d be more than happy to ride on for a few hours, but you could’ve saved time and money with just a couple of those on your bumper. That’d be all it would take to insure anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together would leave you alone.
Perhaps you should consider taking up a hobby. May I suggest meditation? In a straight-jacket?
In January of 2015 my brother chatted with me on MSN Messenger (remember that?) about a mailing he got from an organization calling itself Saint Matthew’s Churches. They had sent him the amazingly wonderfully amazing Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug which, they promised, would perform a legitimate miracle by opening its closed eyes if you just stared at it long enough and prayed.
The idea was that “Jesus sees your needs” and all you had to do to be financially blessed by the Son of God was say, “Yes, Lord Jesus, I do need Your financial blessings upon me and my family’s finances!” and then send a “seed gift” to the folks at Saint Matthew’s Churches along with the prayer rug. Afterall, you have to spend money to make money, right? Apparently the same rules apply with God. Though you’d think you’d get to keep the prayer rug. I guess they didn’t have enough to go around even though it was clearly a cheap printing on low-quality cloth.
They also had a big form to fill out where you could check off what things you were struggling with and then they’d pray for God to help you with those things, but the big thing they kept emphasising in the package was just how much money other people had been “blessed” with. One woman got $46,000 after praying to the rug and sending it back with her seed gift and another person got $10,000. You can read my original blog post about it here.
Fast forward 14 years and I come home from work to find this envelope waiting for me in my mailbox:
When I saw it was from Saint Matthew’s Churches I knew I recognized the name and as soon as I opened the envelope I knew why. It’s the same scam as my brother got almost a decade and a half ago.
Well, not quite the same as there is no amazingly wonderfully amazing miracle Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug this time. No, this time it’s a Prosperity Handkerchief. Production values have definitely gone down over the years as the Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug was printed on something resembling cloth whereas this Prosperity Handkerchief doesn’t perform any miracles and is clearly printed on a standard 8×11 sheet of copier paper. Seriously:
The spiel, however, is very close to the original. Using this amazingly wonderfully amazing Prosperity Handkerchief has resulted in folks having all manner of Spiritual, Physical, but — most important of all — FINANCIAL blessings rained down upon them from the Good Lord above. God sees you need money and He’s willing to be most generous so long as you’re willing to be generous first with Saint Matthew’s Churches.
As you look through the scans of the brochure then sent me below, note the lack of specificity of the rewards compared to 14 years ago. Clearly the number of folks complaining about this scam to the BBB and various charity watchdogs has had an impact. Instead of “this woman got $46,000” it’s now “I used this [Prosperity] Handkerchief and … I received [a huge financial blessing].” I guess so long as you make the testimonials vague enough and put shit in brackets with lots of underlines then it’s A-OK.
I also find it amusing how so much of the artwork and styling looks like something crapped out in the 1950s. They claim to have been established in 1951 so I suppose that’s not surprising, but you’ll note that in that last scan above there’s a very modern roll of hundred dollar bills and a Cadillac SUV that has been crudely photoshopped in. Sure, folks got jobs and raises and just plain old happiness, but LOOK AT THE MONEY AND CARS!
“But,” I hear you say, “what about the miracle?” Well this time they have something even BETTER than a miracle! They have a PERSONALIZED PROPHECY! You may remember seeing something about that on the back of the envelope up above. You’re not supposed to open it until after sunset the day after you get the mailing for reasons that are never specified. Additionally, you shouldn’t open the prophecy until after you have sent the paper handkerchief and your “seed” money back to the church. If you’re not going to send the money then you must DESTROY the prophecy without reading it!
Ha! Yeah, I’m not sending them shit and I am reading this supposedly highly personalized prophecy that God dictated to them to send to me even though He could’ve saved on postage if He’d just show up and tell me Himself. I wonder why “He” doesn’t just do that?
Wow, that was, underwhelming. Lots of generic talk about a “greater purpose” that I “haven’t discovered yet” and “the power was IN YOU ALL ALONG” bullshit. I’ve seen phony psychic readings that were more specific than this claptrap.
Lastly, we have the final page that has the “what other shit other than money do you need us to pray for you which we totally won’t do” form. I particularly like how personalized the opening is: “Dear … Someone Connected with This Home, Who Needs Prayer and God’s Divine Help and Blessings… In the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. ” Yeah, that’s totally not my name.
So, yeah, 14 years later and they’re still at it with a few tweaks to the message to stay just this side of legal. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised as they were at it for longer than that prior to my brother telling me about them.
When I first wrote about them in 2005 I mentioned that Saint Matthew’s Churches made $26 million in 1999, which was the last year they made their tax records public. As of 2007 it’s estimated they were pulling down $6 million a month. That’s a lot of sheep being fleeced. Mostly elderly sheep too. They construct their mailing lists specifically to target older believers many of whom are the least likely to be able to afford sending along money and you can bet your ass that those who do will find a whole lot more prayer scam letters showing up in their mailboxes.
In that original post about these asshats I said that I was torn between feeling angry that the religiously gullible are being taken advantage by an unscrupulous organization and feeling that they’re getting what they deserve for being gullible sheep to begin with. That hasn’t changed much over time and neither has the tactics of Saint Matthew’s Church. So I suppose the only thing to say is: buyer beware.
Pete Hegseth has prompted me to start a list of people whose hands I should avoid ever touching, along with anything those hands have touched. A list I didn’t think I would need until he admitted on air that he pretty much never washes his hands because, and I quote, “Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them. Therefore, they’re not real.”
Not being one who watches FOX News I had to look up who this yahoo is and, according to his Wikipedia profile, he’s a graduate of both Princeton (BA) and Harvard (MPP) so his views that germs don’t exist because he can’t see them is surprising. I suppose he must not have taken any science classes in his time in school. Unsurprisingly he considers himself a Christian, which implies that his need to see things in order for them to exist has some exceptions.
On the plus side, if he sticks to his resolution to “say things on air that I say off air” then chances are he’ll be unemployed before too much longer. Which is a shame as his lack of hygiene may be our best bet for bringing down FOX News.
I’ve been writing up TMFWMYC articles for years now and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from them it’s that when Jesus speaks to you, nine times out of ten, you’re probably better off ignoring him.
Take the example of James A. Mucciaccio Jr. who did about $50K of damage to his 2000 Ferrari coupe when he heard the call to drive it off a Palm Beach dock into a lake from none other than the Son of God himself:
Police said Mucciaccio told them he was waiting for a friend to pick him up by the dock. When the officer told Mucciaccio he couldn’t park on the dock, Mucciaccio reversed toward the road but then suddenly switched into drive and drove into the inlet “at a high rate of speed,” the report says.
Police said Mucciaccio, who Palm Beach Fire-Rescue said was uninjured, “was able to exit” the car before it sank and was eventually helped onto a boat by a passing fisherman.
After reaching shore, Mucciaccio walked back to the officer, police said, and said Jesus told him to drive off the dock “and into a 6-foot window.” Mucciaccio also told police, “Money is going to be irrelevant in two days; remember to smile,” according to the report.
The passing fisherman who helped Mucciaccio to shore told police that Mucciaccio said he drove into the inlet because the “officer on the dock was Egyptian and he did not believe in Jesus.”
Now it’s possible that Jesus just doesn’t understand how cars are supposed to be utilized — it’s not like they were around in his time — but that seems like some really questionable advice.
Now I can already hear you furiously typing in the comments about how clearly this guy was nuts and Jesus didn’t actually tell him to drive his car into the lake, but the news article notes that the police haven’t stated if Mucciaccio had or would be charged with any crimes even though he did $1K of damage when he sideswiped a metal ladder that was town property on his way into the water. Clearly the police accepted his claim as God’s honest truth and who are they to stand in the way of an order from Jesus even if it doesn’t make any sense?
So I spend about 20 minutes in this video trying to articulate why I hate Fortnite that has nothing to do with how the game itself plays (I’ve never played it) but the bad influence on monetization it’s having on the rest of the industry. This is completely unedited, badly argued, probably riddled with factual inaccuracies, and plenty of profanity, but, hey, it’s content!
The following bit of idiocy has shown up on my Facebook wall twice now and it has annoyed me to the point of insomnia. So here I am, awake at 1AM when I should be asleep, writing a blog post about it because I’m not dressed enough to vlog it.
Also, not sure I could vlog about it without losing my temper.
The second person to have shared this is a family member, I won’t say whom, that I normally would assume would see the flaw in that statement. Being the sort of person I am, I couldn’t let it pass by without commenting on it. My reply in both cases was: “America isn’t a race so it’s not a racist statement to make. Unless what you really mean is that you’re proud to be a “White American” which is what a LOT of people mean when they say this. In which case, yes, it’s racist as fuck.”
A few hours later I saw I had a notification of a reply to my comment. It was from a friend of my relative who tried to keep her comment simple. It read: “Les Jenkins see shut up”.
My, but what a compelling counter-argument that is. This reply to me is what has me so annoyed that I’m up at a ridiculous hour in the morning typing away at my keyboard when I should be asleep. Hell, if the original message had simply read “I’m proud to be an American, share this if you agree” then I’d probably would’ve let it pass without saying anything. The addition of the “they are scared to be called a racist” bit is just baffling when you take the statement at face value. The only people who could possibly be worried someone would see that statement as racist is someone who actually meant “proud to be a white American”, which is exactly the unspoken intention many on the Far Right mean when they say it.
For whatever reason when I woke up around 12:30AM to use the bathroom, my thoughts while sitting in the dark came back to this post and the barely coherent reply to my comment I got. The more I thought about it the more questions I had. Questions like:
What, exactly, makes you proud to be an American?
Is it that you were lucky enough by random chance to be born here? Is it that we have the largest military? Is it our economy? Our criminal justice system? Our legislative system? What, exactly, is it that you think is worthy of pride for the simple status as a citizen of this country?
Is it the self-aggrandizing, narcissistic, callow former reality-show host of a President that makes you proud to be an American? Because, honestly, I find that to be a bit of an embarassment. We’ve put an inept, self-absorbed ass in the White House whose biggest motivation is cultivating unwarranted praise and some of us are gleeful about the damage he’s doing. That’s nothing to be proud of.
Is it our policy of family separation of migrants looking for asylum that you’re proud of? We pulled upwards of 12,000 kids 18 and under — 2,400 of which are 12-years-old and younger — from their parents and put them in cages. We then did a piss-poor job of reuniting them with their parents even after a court order to do so. We still haven’t completed the task in spite of being well past the 30 day deadline. Some of them may never be reunited having been sent into the foster/adoption system where the government lost track of them.
Are you proud of how our current Administration has managed to alienate long-standing allies? How about the trade wars that are causing everyone from Harley Davidson and GM to America’s soybean farmers having to make hard decisions about what to build where or, in the case of the farmers, allowing their crops to rot in the fields because the countries that used to buy them have slapped them with high tariffs in retaliation? The trade wars have impacted our farmers so much that Trump has promised to bail them out with taxpayer money when they could’ve just made money by selling their products as they had been. How is that something to be proud of?
Maybe you’re proud of how out of the 35 major countries that comprise the OECD, we rank 32nd in the mortality rate of children under-5 years old? Only Chile, Turkey, and Mexico are below us. In the CIA’s list of 223 nations our under-5 mortality rate puts us at the 56th spot. Fucking Cuba is in the 43rd spot.
Maybe you’re proud because of the rampant wealth inequality in this country which was only made worse with the massive Trump tax cuts that were passed in the last year? The tax cuts that were supposed to “pay for themselves” and result in “higher employee wages” and which haven’t done either thing, but has exploded the deficit to record levels which the Republicans are now trying to use as an excuse to cut Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. I suppose if you’re part of the 1% that might be reason to be proud to be an American. That’s assuming you pay much in taxes in the first place.
Perhaps you’re proud of how we’re ignoring the growing climate crisis and the resulting shitty world it’s going to leave for your children and grandchildren once you’ve kicked the bucket? Hell, we’re not just ignoring it, we’re actively rolling back policies that would help to mitigate it while trying to hide or destroy any science that suggests it’s an actual problem. But at least you won’t have to drive one of those sissy Prius cars, am I right?
Personally, I love my country, but I’m not very proud of it most of the time as of late. The above are just a few of the reasons why. None of the above is anything to be proud of.
Every year the national coffee chain Starbucks puts out a holiday themed cup and every year, for the pastseveralyears at least, it ends up pissing Conservatives off for either being too inclusive or not “Christmasy” enough or some other stupid reason. Now that it’s November they have unveiled this year’s design which will be available in stores starting today and it’s clear they’ve gone the extra mile to keep their new cups as inoffensive as they possibly can. I present to you, this year’s Starbucks Holiday cups:
So, yeah, those are about as pseudo-Christmassy as you can get. Got a couple Christmas sweater looking ones, some holly and berries, and… gift wrap? I guess? Not sure about what the red stripy one is supposed to be. No reindeer, no Santas, nothing to definitively tie it down as Christmas, but also no doodles that might suggest a SECRET GAY AGENDA!
That should be pretty inoffensive, yeah? Well, there is the fact that Starbucks made the mistake of calling them “holiday” cups and not “Jesus’ birthday cups” like any decent patriotic American company would. I kid, but I bet that the word “holiday” will be the thing Conservatives latch onto this year because 1) they’ve done it in the past and B) there’s little else here to complain about.
That said, the Conservatives are a little late getting started on their annual WAR ON CHRISTMAS bitch-fest this year. Perhaps they’re too busy adoring Trump and got distracted, but I’m sure they’ll get to it sooner or later. It is, after all, a true Christmas tradition for them.
It’s almost Halloween which means there’s a lot of parties taking place both at home and at work. It also means there’s a lot of poor decisions on what would make for a good costume being made. For some folks the old standbys of vampires and werewolves and Freddy Krueger are just too passé these days. So they try to come up with something really unique.
Take this dad for example. He and his young son are history buffs and so they teamed up for a historical costume, but he might have wanted to spend a little more time thinking things through before deciding to dress himself as a Nazi officer and his son as mini-Hitler:
According to reports, the dad from Kentucky tried to justify his decision to dress his child up as the Nazi leader, and criticised those who ‘threatened’ him and his son at a local trick or treat event on Thursday.
He wrote: “Tonight grown adults threatened a child over his costume. Threatened his mom and dad as well. Threatened to rip his outfit off of him screaming obscenities, scareing (sic) a small child.
“Anyone who knows us knows that we love history, and often dress the part of historical figures,’ he wrote in a post that has since been deleted.
It would be easy to jump to conclusions about the motivation Nazi dad had in deciding this was an appropriate father/son Halloween costume, but I’m the sort that’s willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the two of them really are history buffs and were just trying to express that love with a really bad choice. He goes on to say:
“Tonight as we walked we saw people dressed as murderers, devils, serial killers, blood and gore of all sorts. Nobody batted an eye. But my little (son) and I, dress as historical figures, and it merits people not only making snide remarks, but approaching us and threatening my little 5-year-old boy,’ he wrote in the tone deaf posting.
“First off, its none of your business. Second, how dare you! I mean How dare you threaten a child. Me, its one thing, but my child? You are messing with fire.”
I also agree that if anyone did threaten his kid that that would be way out of line… but, dude! Seriously? You didn’t for a single moment stop and think that maaaaaybe this might be a bad idea? Here’s the thing you may not be getting here: There are still people alive who somehow managed to survive the Holocaust and, even though we’re talking about something that ended 73 years ago, it’s probably still a little soon to be an appropriate Halloween costume. You want to dress up as a historical figure responsible for untold slaughter? Try Genghis Khan.
On second thought, that’s probably a bad idea too.
Anyway, Nazi dad has since taken down his FB rant and apologized saying: “I think it was in bad taste for me to let my child to wear that, probably for me to wear that. It didn’t occur to me. I thought it was a bad decision on my part.” I could probably accept this as just some clueless dude who didn’t think his costume idea all the way through. That was until I saw the full content of his rant on Facebook which concluded with: ‘Yes, liberalism is alive and well. And we had the dis-pleasure of dealing with the fruits of the so called “Tolerant Left”‘. Now I’m not so sure it was as much cluelessness as it was someone upset they got called out for letting their Nazi freak flag fly.
Then we have this woman in Iowa who maybe might want to be a little more skeptical of Halloween costume ideas from Megyn Kelly:
Linda Hayes, vice president of the district’s school board, told the Quad-City Times that the decision to do blackface — and then have the photos shared online — is harmful for minority students.
“I cannot clearly articulate how offensive and appalling it is to people of color,” she said, according to the newspaper. “In light of our recent developments within the district, this was in very poor taste, not to mention totally out of line with regard to professionalism.”
Ms. Luloff didn’t not respond to a request for comment on her costume choice so, again, I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she just really loved the character of Lafawnduh. I’ve never seen Napoleon Dynamite so I have no idea what the character was like. It’s also possible she’s ignorant of the racist history of blackface.
That doesn’t excuse her thoughtlessness, but it’s sounding like she may end up paying a high price for her ignorance so I’m not going to heap too much criticism on her:
“The district strives to provide a quality education enriched by our diverse community, in a fair and supportive environment for all,” the statement read. “The images run counter to the respect, values, and beliefs the district promotes and should not be a reflection on the District as a whole.
“This situation is not taken lightly by any member of the board,” it continued. “The district will determine how to best address the matter after further investigation.”
I admire your bravery, Ms Luloff, if not your reasoning ability. The last person to pull off blackface in recent history was Robert Downey Jr. in the movie Tropic Thunder and it was a risky move that only worked because the film actually satirizes it.
I get that everyone wants a unique and clever costume for Halloween, but you could save yourself a lot of trouble if you just stuck with the classics. At the very least, you should stop to ponder if there’s any chance your choice might offend a significant portion of your fellow humans either because it perpetuates racist caricatures or draws inspiration from one of the worst genocides in human history before committing to it.
Help me out here, the year is still 2018, right? I only ask because apparently the folks at FOX & Friends First are very alarmed by the fact that smartphones have cameras on them. Cameras that can record video clips. Cameras that can record video clips of police officers. Almost like, *GASP!*, BODY CAMERAS!
To be fair, they’re freaking out over a shortcut some dude came up with for the iPhone that makes recording an encounter with the police very easy by simply saying “Hey Siri, I’m being pulled over.”
Here’s why this is stupid: First, cell phones have had cameras capable of recording video since at least 2005, though video recording capabilities wouldn’t become commonplace until a few years later. The original iPhone, for example, had a 2MP camera and couldn’t record video. Still, it’s easily been doable for over a decade now.
Second, being able to start recording a video with a voice command has been a thing since at least 2014. With my Pixel 2 in my shirt pocket all I need to say is “OK Google, record a video,” and it will launch the camera app in video mode and start recording immediately. In most of my shirt pockets the phone is just tall enough to peak over the top of the pocket. This makes it trivally easy to start a recording without making it obvious that I’m doing so. At least so long as the target is out of earshot as I have to issue the command and the phone acknowledges that it’s launching the app. Once I stop recording my phone is set to immediately back it up to my Google Photos account. The one drawback to this is that if it’s been awhile since you unlocked the phone then you may need to unlock it before it’ll start the app, but with the fingerprint reader that’s pretty easy to do.
Third, this isn’t something that can only be done on the newest iPhones as the report above suggests. It’ll work on any iPhone running iOS 12 and the Shortcuts app. It’s not even the only shortcut that’ll do this. The I Got Pulled Over shortcut is also available.
The big innovation here is that the Police shortcut pauses music you may be playing, turns down the brightness on the iPhone, turns on “do not disturb” mode, starts recording with the front facing camera and sends out a text message to a friend letting them know where you are and that you’re recording a police encounter. Guess what? There have been apps that will do similar things for quite some time now.
On Android there’s Legal Equalizer which will text a contact of your choice, record the encounter and upload it to cloud storage, advise you of your rights and what to say, and even help find a lawyer.
Also, there is the Mobile Justice app developed in association with the ACLU which has been around since 2012. There are multiple versions of this app as each is specific to a state (here is the link for Mobile Justice: Michigan on Android and here’s the iPhone version). This app is more for activists as in addition to recording video and uploading straight to the local chapter of the ACLU, it has the ability to let you know when someone else is involved in a police encounter nearby so you can act as a witness.
That’s just two examples of dozens of apps. The point being that this isn’t anything new. So why is FOX acting like this is some shocking new affront to the police? Well, it turns out that lots of news organizations are reporting on it because the shortcut has shot up to become the third most popular one available at the moment. Business Insider did an article on it where they even show you how to make the shortcut yourself, USA Today wrote about it, Car and Driver got in on it, etc. and so on. The difference here is that FOX & Friends First decided to play it off as something bad because it’s FOX News: Propaganda Arm of the GOP since 1996.