Interpreting advertisements

I’ve noticed a lot of impressions of this Flash web ad for a well known bank:
Well-known bank advert
Obviously they are trying to reassure their customers: “Emigration is a stressful process; let us relieve you of some of that stress.” What caught my eye was the choice of graphic. The airliner sweeping in to land is clearly a Tu-154, a Russian airliner flown mostly by airlines in Russia and other CIS countries. It’s a notoriously uncomfortable plane to fly in, and both the airliner and the airlines that operate it have questionable safety records.
So why would you use this in an advertisement that was intended to reassure? ((Of course the most likely explanation is that they had the artwork done by an agency operating in a country where the Tu-154 is the most common type of airliner.))

Just a little test of a new WP plugin

I tend to use footnotes for article attribution and stuff like that, and realized that there must be an easier way than banging out the HTML markup by hand. ((Of course muscle memory does most of the work.)) So I’ve just installed Simon Elvery’s footnotes 0.9 plugin, and this post is intended to check it out. Text to be footnoted is introduced with “space-openparen-openparen” and ended with “closeparen-closeparen”. ((Obviously I’m not going to simply type in that text, because the plugin would process it. And I’m feeling too lazy to look up the HTML entity codes for parentheses.))
So let’s see what it looks like. (/me clicks “Save and Continue”, and inspects the preview.) Not bad. Ideally the footnote text, and even the numbering style, should be styled using the CSS, but that would involve more installation complexity; right now this is simply a single PHP file installed in wp-content/plugins. I might tweak the markup to add <small> and </small> ((Some HTML entities don’t need to be looked up.)), and to reduce the vertical spacing.
UPDATE: After seeing the author‘s comment here, I upgraded to the latest version ((currently 1.4)) of the plugin, which has all sorts of nice configuration options. Thanks, Simon – and perhaps you could edit the old blog entry to indicate that the 0.9 version has been superceded! Google has a long memory…

Doing the postmodern twist

While reading a piece by Stephen Law on Clarity, continental philosophy, and bullshit, I came across this delightfully succinct analysis by Larry Hamelin:

Your friend is dancing the Postmodern Twist, so beloved by such as Camille Paglia.
Step 1: Invert the narrative and deny the implicit privilege of the original frame (legitimate enough)
Step 2: Since the original frame is not The Truthâ„¢, it must be false.
Step 3: Since the original frame is false, the inverted frame is true.
Voila! Black is white, day is night, the oppressor is the oppressed. You can say anything you please this way: Just find someone who disagrees with you and your point is proved!

Of course it doesn’t actually help in dealing with these types, but then what can? In the meantime, having found Stephen’s blog (via Butterflies & Wheels), I’m now working through the last few months’ entries. I like the elegant way in which he deals with the tedious “atheism is just a matter of faith” argument, here, here and here. Highly recommended.


Spent yesterday evening at the Montlake Ale House, where I met up with Jon and Laura. We were there to hear Mudcat, the band in which my friend Eve Maler plays. Mudcat playingI had a very good time, kicking back to… well, I guess the current term for the style is “roots rock”, but to me it drew upon the rock, R&B, jazz, bluegrass, and blues that I associate with folks like the Jerry Garcia Band, Bill Withers, and Neil Young. For me, the three stand-out performances of the evening were “Deal”, “Use me”, and “Down by the river” (by the three aforementioned artists respectively). Good times, good beer, and good company.
Of course, all of this came about because I’d emailed Eve to see if we could get together to discuss work matters. Obviously last night wasn’t the right time to discuss the finer points of XML and JSON, so we still need to schedule that meeting….
P.S. Oddly enough, I don’t own a recording of “Down by the river”. In fact I only have one Neil Young album in my collection: the powerful, though flawed “Live Rust”, and that doesn’t include “Down by the river” or “Cowgirl in the sand”, or “Ohio”…. I think I’m going to wander across to Starbucks to get my usual quad espresso macchiato, and while I’m there I’ll pick up the new “Live at Massey Hall 1971” CD. It’s all your fault, Mudcat!
P.P.S. I’m back home, listening to “Live at Massey Hall 1971”. What a wonderful recording. With the simplicity of these stripped-down arrangements – solo piano on “A Man Needs A Maid/Heart Of Gold Suite”, acoustic guitar on “Cowgirl In The Sand” – it’s like hearing the songs for the first time. (And it’s been 36 years…..)