Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Repeat. After. Me.

Further to my previous post regarding the health and fitness industry and the questionable advice dished out through advertising agencies to us the 'consumer' I happened to remember a series of documentaries broadcast at the turn of the year on the BBC.  They were of course on later in the evening and generally at the same time as some other distraction television.  It was called 'Food That Makes Billions', a small three part documentary about yogurt- 'Pots of gold', cereal- 'The Age of Plenty' and bottled water- 'Liquid Gold'.

For any one that watched it I am sure they would be shocked by the insight into the way these advertising and marketing firms manipulate us. I would like to think that there are people out there who are aware on some level they are being manipulated but they do not know the full extent.  The rest however are blissfully unaware and feel that ignorance is bliss.

'The Age of Plenty'- the cereal episode exposed horribly the way we have been manipulated by advertising and marketing firms into believing we do not have enough 'time' for a decent breakfast, the most important meal of your day.
Back in the 1950's an advertising campaign was taken up called 'go to work on an egg a day' with a man having a cooked breakfast consisting of egg and toast.  This soon changed with cereal firms taking up the mantle and rolling out a host of adverts where they portrayed people as being too busy to have the 'time' for a cooked breakfast but could get around this by 'simply pouring milk into a bowl'.  An important step was to market this towards children, the children of today are the adults of tomorrow. This gave birth to such gems as 'Tony the Tiger' with his catchy little phrase and the three little rascals known as 'Snap, Crackle and Pop'.  Enticing children with toys plays a huge part also, usually in line with the latest Disney or Pixar release.  The scandalous way cereal was marketed to the children, our parents, is breathtaking.

This kind of advertising generates an emotional link to their products.

The emotional link is what secures the continued sales in future generations, the parents and grandparents affinity to the advertising slogans or catchy jingles or tunes,  continue the tradition of a cereal based breakfast as the memories come flooding back. It is alleged that 97% of people's pantries will contain a box of cereal.  Have a look in your pantry, are you contributing to this modern day success story? Thirty pence??? for a kilo of corn, £3.00 for a kilo of cornflakes? That's some mark up.

Repeat after me..... "they'rrrrreee Great!" or would you "rather have a bowl of co-co pops"?

These cereal firms are making a huge profit on the back of misinformation at best to the consumer.  The health benefits of things such as Bran flakes etc are extremely over stated, and what could be better for you than a bit of carbs and protein for breakfast.  Not to worry however, the breakfast cereal firms have already spied the potential for revenue increase in the breakfast bar market.  There have already been a line of adverts on television now portraying the illusion that we no longer have the 'time' to pour milk into a bowl of cereal.

This constant myth surrounding life styles is a common theme around the marketing and advertising industry.  It is not the product they market, rather the perceived lifestyle that is associated with it.

'Liquid Gold'- the episode about the billion pound bottle water industry highlighted the fact that the bottle water industry is now worth over £2billion a year.  Incredible when you think it all started with a bottle of Perrier back in the 1980's.
My disdain for bottled water is well documented and this episode was another one in a long line of documentaries that exposes the myth behind the bottled water industry.
Lifestyle, as I mentioned earlier, is the key to the marketing campaign.  Perrier focused on the 'yuppie' boom of the 1980's.  The sleek design of the bottle oozed a certain class, a continental way of life and people started to associate this way of life with the bottle.  Restaurants up and down the country rushed to stock the brand and a juggernaut began.
The Health and Fitness industry jumped on the band wagon and marketing teams up and down the country helped to reinforce the message that "bottled water is good for you" by endorsing an endless list of celebrities to pose with bottles, post work out, trying to convince us of the benefits of the bottle over the tap.  More recently the shameless 'bouncing babies' Evian advert tried to reinforce it's message of "evian, live young".

Bottle water is no better for you than tap water.  They created a need that was not there.

Drinking water full stop is good for you.  We are made up of over 70% water to begin with!  It helps to reduce the signs of age by hydrating your skin, it hydrates the brain and drinking water can help to burn fat if you have an active life style.

You can get this water from the tap and a lot cheaper too.

The bottle water industry, in conjunction with health and fitness 'experts' have managed to convince us that if we do not carry a 2litre bottle of water around with us all day we will shrivel up and die.
This is a nonsense.

Creating a need that was not there.  Genius really.

If only Del Boy had of thought of bottling tap water he would have been a millionaire a lot sooner...oh wait, there was a Christmas special one year where he did just that and the UK fell about laughing.  Who's laughing now?

'Pots of Gold'- the episode about yogurt.  Where do you start?  I have referenced the perceived lifestyles attached to products which is the reason why they sell.  Yogurt, and initially in the early days, the brand 'Ski' were brilliant for this, families on the alpines, water skiing etc.  An all action lifestyle courtesy of the goodness of yogurt....or so the myth goes.  The 90's saw the Muller brand going for a sophisticated look, using people such as Joanna Lumley to sell the idea of yogurt with their adverts on their sugar filled pots.

The yogurt industry took a hit recently when certain brands claiming immune system support were put through rigorous health tests courtesy of the pharmaceutical industry.  The cynic in me may think that there was an ulterior motive for the pharmaceutical companies doing this but the end result was that there were no proven benefits from taking certain brands and so the advertising campaigns they had made their name on had to be changed.  The yogurt companies lodged their complaints stating that they should not be tested to the same standard as medicine but if you are claiming medicinal benefits, what is the problem? Unfortunately the damage had already been done.

Repeat after me "Have you had your actimel?"

Yogurt has come a long way since the 1980's and being viewed as a sour after dinner snack.  It is now hailed as the healthy alternative snack, the immune system saviour and a guilt free ride for after dinner eating.
Personally I do not see what the problem is with an apple (or piece of fruit other) or even some cream/ice cream from time to time if you want something after your dinner?  Everything in moderation after all.

Some of the topics mentioned here I have mentioned before.  If you are reading this then you are probably the converted (especially with bottled water)  If not then I have added some video links at the bottom, some adverts, some t.v clips,  take some Earth minutes to view them.
Think about them.
There are also two documentaries on bottled water.  It is important because globalisation is a fact.  We are all intrinsically linked as humans and how we consume, here today, affects people elsewhere and our children of tomorrow.

Do not take my word for it, find out for yourselves and question everything.  The question is how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

It Costs Nothing to be Polite

Early mornings are not most people's favourite part of the day but generally I like it. Fresh start, fresh air, Jimi Hendrix or Marvin Gaye on in the back ground and off to work for a training course (a full 4 day refresher because I had let my ticket run out but never mind) unfortunately this serene jaunt to work was about to be cut horribly short due to the necessity to fuel up at the local BP (before the gulf incident I add)

No problem, 0700hrs, not a soul on the road or at the pumps panicking buying fuel so I darted in and filled up.  Usually travelling to work I refrain from travelling in my uniform but as I was on route to a training course I decided to head up in my usual undress.

This was a big mistake.

A nice young man who would often strike up a decent conversation having previously seen me in various rugby tops, and being a former player himself, saw the crest on my shirt and offered me a coffee because the emergency services get theirs free. I did not know.  Not usually wearing my uniform I was unaware of such things, and was not particularly bothered about free coffee, but accepted his kind gesture after confirming he was sure and said thank you. He proceeded to make my latte, half turning to his supervisor to confirm this and she glanced over and said "yes"....then she made a double take and "oh, no, they have to pay. It's only the police that get free coffee"

Her attitude and tone was quite shocking,  the young lad looked embarrassed, as if he wanted the world to open up and swallow him whole. I was not impressed. I asked her why the police qualified and the fire service didn't and she did not answer. By now my natural calm was dissipating and I snorted something about the police not being able to afford a £2 odd latte on their wages. "no" she snapped "actually they drop in when we women are working on our own on nights to make sure we are alright" convenient.

The gullibility was astonishing "nothing to do with the fact that they know they will get a free coffee at the end of it then eh?" followed by "next time I'm stood waiting outside some property because we have had to break in to check for fire, or put one out, for an hour because the police are all so busy, I will just take Alpha up the road to the wild bean cafe where they are supping on your latte in the name of keeping an eye on you"

I paid the lad the money and swooped my coffee all in one swift movement, turning on a six pence, and exited the shop whilst she scoffed at my comments.  The thirty second rule was now in force and she had lost her right to reply.

The standard of customer service in the so called 'service' industry of late has been nothing short of disgraceful.  Even in the techo-gadgeted Apple store I was greeted by a young man, who may have been confused by my beach attire, as he saluted me with "hey dude".  What?  Another fine example of my customer service 'experience' so hotly on the heels of my previous post 'Freak Out in Aisle 5'.

In future I shall be looking to fill up at an automated station for my fuel and minimise my exposure to this sort of thing.

Friday, 13 May 2011

'Freedom' of Speech

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"
Benjamin Franklin.

Wise words at a time when freedom was but a dream for the vast majority of the world and today in the 21st century we should ask ourselves "Has much has changed"?

At school I remember learning about the slave trade triangle and watched a 70's television show called 'Roots' about a character called 'Kunta Kinte' played by Star Trek's LeVar 'Geordi La Forge' Burton.  As a child learning about the human races numerous crimes against itself throughout 'time' I began to put it down to ignorance and not knowing any better.  
What then is our excuse in the year 2011? 
A question I should have asked 'Mr' Rich back then was "do we still have slaves or slave trades now?"  His answer would have been interesting.  The 'Civilised' world prides itself on its strides towards a more equal and fair society that we allegedly live in.  I would disagree.  
Are there people on our own streets hungry? Without a roof over their heads? Do we still have slave ships out there? Are people being sold off having to pay back their 'debts' through sex or labour?  The answer to these questions are yes.  So what has changed?  For some sections of the human race the slave chains have been cast off in physical form only to be replaced by metaphorical chains. In other sections the harsh facts are that they still literally carry the chains around their necks.

I came across a coin the other day commemorating the abolition of the slave trade back in 1807.  Funny how even 100 years later in 1907 some members of the 'British Society' were still considered second class citizens.  Both sides of the pond have a history littered with examples of this treatment of people as 'lesser humans' based on their colour or religion.  
Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali was famously refused service at a 'whites only' restaurant after winning gold for his country at the Olympics in Rome and subsequently threw it into a river.  He then suffered at the hands of the American Military for refusing to enlist for the Vietnam War robbing him of perhaps his best years in the ring.
On my travels around the Outback I experienced first hand the deluded nature of some people when I met a helicopter pilot who informed me that he thought it was ridiculous that the Australian Government had to pay the Aboriginal people for the right to take tourists on their land at Uluru because it was "not their land"  Obviously this poor gentleman was suffering from sunstroke with his fair skin and blonde hair.  I thought it best not to challenge him directly at the time as I did not have a parachute. 
We should remember this however, not one human owns any part of the Earth.  Not its air, water, land or animals. 

We are our own worst enemy when it comes to knowledge and understanding.  Too few people in the world take the time to find out about something for themselves and make an informed decision on it.  It is easier to be told and led than to stand aside from the masses and form a decision on your own.
For example when it comes to so called Economics, who has ever really sat and tried to understand the mass confusion of it all, a confusion deliberately created so as to deter people from looking into it themselves?  A small minority I would guess.  This is how a Global Currency will be rail-roaded through in the next two years.  The IMF have already touted for a World Currency as being the way forward through this recession and the double dip that is coming up.  
The beauty of it is this, WE will ask for it ourselves.  Without being armed with the knowledge to know any better the 'experts' on SKY News etc will paint a bleak picture of a future in currency wars, followed by trade wars and a referendum will be held. The people will mobilise to vote on an 'Amero' (or some other ponzi scheme) currency that is backed by nothing.  Nothing will have changed.  There will still be the 'haves' and the 'have nots' the 1 percenters will continue to 'profit' from the rest of us and in 50 years time we will be back in the boat we are in now.

The right to free speech is being taken away from us in our own countries and the similarities now between the movie 'Minority Report' and the pre-crime department, have not gone unnoticed as people were recently rounded up prior to the Royal Wedding on April 29th 2011 just in case they dared to air their right to free speech.  
Charlie Veitch of 'The Love Police' was recently arrested in his own home with the 'actors' in hi-vis jackets not even knowing the exact charges they were arresting him under.  These recent attacks on our basic right to free speech was also taken up at a meeting by MP John Mcdonnell, whom I have had the pleasure of sitting and listening to in person, and he too expressed his fears over the way our policemen and women, who are there to protect us, are being used to clamp down on the unrest of recent months, using these intimidation tactics at the behest of the Government.  
(I have attached the relevant clips from the recent round ups at the end)

'Watching you get mugged since the 1980s'
Without being armed with the knowledge to know...different, rather than better, we will continue to allow our liberties to be taken away so as we live in a 'safer society'  and the most worrying thing about it all is we will have asked for it ourselves.  Big Brother is watching....

Friday, 6 May 2011

Lies My Personal Trainer Told Me

In a world where we are driven to constantly compete against one another for higher paid jobs, for a bigger house, better car or fancy clothes and holidays, it should come to as no surprise that the biggest perpetrators of these cons are the health, beauty, fitness and fashion industries.  Together with the help of advertising guru's around this '3rd Mall From The Sun' they have conspired to convince people that they are fat, ugly and unworthy.  This could not be further from the truth.

In any news retailer around the globe you will find a horde of magazines covering all aspects of life, particularly on health and fitness, and beauty and fashion.  Every month there is a new '6 week abs' routine for men or the latest '6 week bikini body' fad, so called 'diet' regime for women.  Surely you would think that one good article/book would cover it all?  This would be so if we did not live in a society that depends on cyclical consumption.  This cyclical consumption ranges far further than just the need to buy new washing machines (or any electrical good you can think of) every 3/4 years as obsolescence is built into their design, but the very nature of our own human bodies. The fact of the matter is this, for all but a small percentage of the world's population the equation for weight loss or a healthy life style is very simple.  Either;
A) use more energy in a day/week than you are eating or;
B) eat less than you are using energy or;
C) swap the chocolate bar for a piece of fruit.
Now this may seem all too simplistic (and yes to some degree it may be because calorie content does not account for fat contents etc) but for the sake of an easy to understand principle it is a good starter.  Nonsense like the 'Weight Watchers' programs do not do enough, if anything, to educate people on the reasons for why they put on weight or how to successfully keep it off.
Here in lies the deception for if they actually educated people properly in the first instance where would they get their repeat subscribers?  Ask yourself this, how many people on a Weight Watchers program have you known (or do you know?) that have run a course to lose weight only to put it all on again later on?  Typically people that follow such 'diet' programs put the weight they lost back on (and in a lot of cases extra too) because they have not been educated well enough in how to have a healthy balance of food.

Now lets take the term 'diet'. Forget it. It is a nonsense.  The English language has been used for many years now to confuse and mislead people from our laws to food.  The need to reprogram peoples thinking needs to start now and a good start, is 'diet'.
Everything you eat is part of a diet.  Your diet.  The only real difference in diet is that of a healthy eating diet and that of an unhealthy eating diet.  We need to cut ourselves free of this term 'diet' that the health, beauty and fitness industries have thrust upon us.  They are using these words only in the pursuit of PROFIT and who are the ones benefiting from this? Not you or I.

A fine example of this in recent times was the hostess of a day time television show called 'This Morning'.  The presenter in question would be described by the fashion world as a 'plus size model'.  She lost a lot of weight and released various DVDs and did a number of articles in gossip magazines such as 'Now' and 'Closer' stating a new found love for exercise after a charity bike ride.  Later on it was reported that she had had an operation where a gastric band was installed.  This undoubtedly aided her weight loss but she still peddled her fitness material to a vast number of fans that believed the weight loss was gained through good old fashioned hard work and discipline.  I am sure she did undertake some level of fitness work with the operation but the dramatic weight loss results were initially credited to her training regime.

On the face of it this is not such an important issue in light of some of the other things that occur in the world, but it is a good example of how PR, advertising and other aspects of this clique operate to CONvince us one way or another over something.

Now the fashion industry. They have a little thing called 'vanity sizing', something that I had heard nothing about (or so I believed) until a few months ago courtesy of a source on the inside.  This is a trick whereby certain retailers have their garments purposely made either larger or smaller than the regular size.  For example you may go into store A to buy a dress and know (or think you know you are a size 12) but it turns out to be a size 10 and fit like a glove, so encouraging you to shop there more because "in (insert blank) I am a size 10" so as to make you feel better.  Once I learned of this a thousand different memories, of different clothes stores with various members of my family from the opposite sex and ex girlfriends where I had heard this saying before.  Sneaky.

These issues again make me think of the Steve Martin classic, 'Father of The Bride' that I recently blogged about (Freak Out in Aisle 5) and the big shots in-charge at different companies making decisions to benefit each other to screw the little man.  Us.
So taking this back to the glossy magazines, if they were to tell us the whole story from the start where would they get their repeat prescriptions?  There is a saying about 'not re-inventing the wheel' that comes to mind....

Pictures taken from CBS News and Mark Gregory Fitness

What Goes Around REALLY Goes around

The hype this week has been about America and it's 'victory' over Osama Bin Laden and Al qaeda with comparisons being made to the capture of Saddam Hussein and his subsequent execution. I began to wonder if people even remembered why it was the Coalition invaded Iraq in the first place?

Some people reading this may be sat thinking 'because of 9/11' or the so called the links between Iraq and Al qaeda. Others may be sat thinking 'the weapons of mass destruction' and the lies that flowed out of Tony Blair's mouth. Some however may be sat thinking 'because Saddam started trading for oil in Euros back in 2000 instead of the Dollar'.

It is true that Saddam Hussein changed from the Dollar to the Euro back in 2000, after which sanctions were imposed and a subsequent invasion. One of the first things that changed after the Coalitions occupation of Iraq was the trading of oil back to Dollars. This was a 'must do' for the then President George W. Bush because there were fears that OPEC would start to trade in Euros also and America cannot print Euros. This would have had a catastrophic consequence for the American Economy that relies heavily on the trade of oil in Dollars.
America has the monopoly of power when it comes to oil, they forged a relationship with Saudi Arabia decades ago and as it stands, the Dollar is the world reserve currency...but it is on it's knees currently.  It has not gone unnoticed that since Iran planned to do the same (in trading their oil in Euros) they have too popped up on America's radar.

Two years ago in 2009 a certain Colonel Gaddafi made a speech rallying North African leaders and other Arab states to start trading their oil in gold effectively setting up a gold standard which had gathered a lot of interest from the people addressed.  It is estimated that Libya has 140 tonnes of Gold.  The UK has twice as much as this but has 10 times the population.
Fast forward to 2011 and the Coalition is again at war with another oil rich country (Libya) citing the need to assist fellow humans on their treatment by a dictator. A dictator that the UK Government has been quite happy to deal with over the years up to and including the current PM David Cameron.  The same David Cameron who flogged a load of munitions to Libya only last year, as I wrote about in March this year, in 'UK Arms Deal, Float that Economy People'.
Of course nothing has been done about Robert Mugabe and the treatment of his people in Zimbabwe, nor is there anything being done or said about Syria and Liberia is but a whisper in the wind. How much the 'free' world cares about your human rights depends entirely on how much oil you have beneath your feet.

To clarify I am not in favour of people like Saddam Hussein nor Colonel Gaddafi, but then I am not the one sending out other people's sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husband, wives, mothers or fathers out to foreign lands to 'liberate' people, where the only benefit is to the energy companies that go in after and plunder the countries resources, making billions for themselves in the process.
Libya also has the largest man made reservoir on Earth. Gaddafi instigated a program to tap into 40,000 yr old water under the desert to get it to where his people needed it most to grow crops and give access to fresh clean drinking water. There are fears that this war being waged is a serious drain on this resource and when it's gone, it's gone. Water of course I have spoken about for many years now as the cause for the next major war once we have bled the world dry of oil.

Mainstream media does not cover stories like this. It upsets the equilibrium that they have fought for so long to control. With 'distraction tv' and the newspapers being owned by only a handful of corporations, the chances of finding out what is really going on rests with the individual. To it's credit 'Russia Today' on SKY 512 has good coverage of all news stories from a different perspective.

I am sure Gaddafi was not surprised by the Coalition Campaign against him, particularly after the events in Iraq and the movie Rango. The question is, when will people wake up and start to question the lies that are being fed to them? Or maybe I should remember 'war is good for business'....

For other info read look at the following links;

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


After an almost hellish journey on the M1 Northbound after a police incident I found myself cruising around the town of Rugby looking for a spot to park at a train station. I was not prepared to take on the actors again or pay 3 of your English pounds for the privilege to drop the car.  So when I spied a Tesco Express sign I thought I would take advantage of some free parking.

When I got around the corner and pulled into the car park my jaw dropped, this was because the Tesco Express building was part of a Travelodge.  Traditionally I had associated Beefeater restaurants with Travelodge but apparently not in Rugby.

I took a look around and spied a new housing development too.  It smacked of 'Tesco deals' whereby they get permission to build a shop in exchange for infrastructure, housing plots etc.  Recently in the news too it has been decided that a Grade II listed building in Wolverhampton has been earmarked to be turned into a Tesco superstore.