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This Blog used to be about the question: What is Science?
Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Weight of the Con

It's highway robbery! And it's in your local shopping mall.
I was shocked yesterday to see a blatant con being played out at Musgrave Centre. In the foyer there is a space reserved for beauty pagents, perfume promotions and toyland demos. But now a large sign caught my eye. "Free Health Check" and another proclaiming "Lose weight in 12 weeks!".
I love these health checks. They are designed to persuade people to join some gym or other and I always do them. They can never find anything wrong with me, but always manage to still end with the line stating that I will clearly benefit from their gym contract. When I say that pedestrians don't need gyms and that I use a bicycle for transport or that I do yoga the stock answer is often quite extraordinary. It ranges from gyms being crime free to obscure muscles that I don't use.
But today's free offer wasn't about a gym. In fact these guys have no facilities at all, only a scale.
Their free health check involved telling you something you already know. That you are overweight. Then, for only R350 they offer to weigh you every week for 12 weeks and at the end of that time the person who lost the most weight gets a cash prize. If you gain weight you pay them a R15 fine!
WOW!! The people were lining up. Mothers bringing their children, wives pushing their husbands to the counter, all the while the slimy man behind the desk was dispensing meaningless platitudes about how well it all worked. He even had a live version of the before and after poster. A confused and non-speaking young man who matched the 'after' poster guy was hanging around as eveidence. And guess what? Even better...if you are not already on a programme 'we' can advise you and recommend some diet products. Guess whose products they are?
I am continually amazed at the mass ignorance of people. So much is written about the dangers and uselessness of rapid weight loss and yet they are prepared to give their cash to an arbitrary stranger selling nothing but the dream of being thin. There was no mention of any expertise on their staff. They proferred dietry advice, "Avoid too much meat and eat vegetables." was the best he could come up with, completely ignoring the multifaceted and complex nature of metabolic variations in people.
I considered for a moment giving R350 to this jerk and then just not eating for 12 weeks. That would lose a shit load of weight, but considering how thin I already am, I realized that all it would take is for a fatty to figure out the same ploy and I will have a miserable and dangerous 12 weeks for nothing!
Should I go back and challenge them? Should I embarrass them in front of their doting masses? Should I object to the Centre? Or should I just leave these ignorant philistines to happily throw away their health and wealth on the pitifulness of free enterprize and the human condition.....


In the old radio days when 'Life with Dexter' and 'The Goon Show' competed to see which one could distract me more from my Anchovie toast, there was a game show called 'Money Or The Box!"
Well, it is still alive and well in Gran's kitchen.
Having decided though rigorous and double blind studies that the only thing that guarantees regular and soft bowel happiness is daily cooked oats, I am engaged in a repeated morning conversation with Granny.
Gran: "If you want porridge, half fill the small pot with water and put the stove onto 6, then take the Jungle Oats out the cupboard and add it to the pot as soon as it is boiling."
Me: "There is still some Bokomo Quick Oats. Shall we use that rather?"
Gran: "No, it is not as good. They use the dregs of the oats. Just look at it and you can see it is all small pieces"
Well, this morning I looked at it. Then I made several little piles of oats and presented it to Granny to confirm her statement. Not too surprizingly she came up with a sure fire decision as to which was the better oats...and she was totally wrong. I must admit, I put the cheaper oats into a more classy saucer.
"There you are," I said, "You can't tell the difference! And what's more, the instructions on the quick oats say to cook for 4 minutes and the Jungle Oats says 2 minutes!?"
Gran looked at me like I was mad and replied: "It's not the oats, it's the box! Can't you see that it is easier to use a box than a packet!"
Me: "But then why don't you just pour cheaper oats into a nice glass bottle?"
Gran: "What! That means I have to get another container."
Me: "So, it's actually not the oats, it's the packaging you like."
Gran: "Yes, I like the green box".

(copious laughter in background from advertizing executives)

1 comment:

  1. So do I, I have to agree with Gran.