Breaking Ground

On Being Led by the Nose

by Derek Burch

Have I ever mentioned that I am not exactly a mainstream sort of person? Truth to tell, I don't stay afloat in the water very well, I don't too much like the way it tastes, and I am not always very fond of my fellow swimmers.

One of my least antisocial quirks is a strong dislike for advertisements. (Could this be because, or perhaps why, no one has pleaded with me to be able to advertise on this website?) No one likes junk mail (except the postal service) or spam on e-mail, but my particular hate is for the glued-in sections or even special paper pages that force me to open a magazine at the same place each time I pick it up. Yes, advertising managers, these really do work - except that I take the time to remove the glued in sections and cut out the special paper pages, so that you lose one reader from your audience. Of course, I keep any of the removed pieces that are of any use to me, so count me back in, but at least I can tell myself that I can open the filleted magazine to any page that I choose. These are the little triumphs that make my day.

While on a tear about advertising (no pun intended), may I just bitch a little about the hypocrisy of our local PBS television station? (Of course I can, but you don't have to read it.) At the start and finish of many programs there appears a series of short items featuring companies that I would swear constitute advertising, except that the station assures me that they are not. Then a dozen times a year we have to put up with long sessions of appeals for support (yes, we are members) made more annoying by the fact that the programming during these periods bears little relation to that of the rest of the year. There must be a better way. Perhaps the stations should go private and work in the real world. I'm sure it would improve their programming year 'round, besides freeing us from the tedium of being offered programs for the hundredth time during the appeals that would make us healthy, wealthy and wise if only we could stay awake through them.

Not that advertising by a skilled practitioner is not extremely effective. How else could cranberry juice and baking soda - each of which tastes like industrial waste - have reached their prominent positions in our daily life without masterful advertising backing the companies' ingenious research teams.

O.k., my three faithful readers, back to plant matters.

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