April 21, 2000
The other day I happened to look at a bottle of bottled water, on the off-chance that I might see something that would make me want to pay money for it, or even possibly drink it, and I noticed that it had an expiration date. Why does bottled water have an expiration date? After a certain time does it start to break down into hydrogen and oxygen? Do the minerals carried by the fresh mountain faucet that provides this water start to settle to the bottom and become toxic? Or is it simply that, because water falls, more or less, under the category of food and drugs, it has to be assigned an expiration date? Here are a few other things that you’d never expect to go bad that also get expiration dates:
Batteries. Why batteries need an expiration date is a mystery. They’re certainly not food (unless you happen to have a cadmium deficiency). Scientists have in fact conducted tests to find out what happens to batteries after their expiration date has passed, although their recording devices merely stop working. A couple of television networks are currently working on "When Good Batteries Go Bad" specials.
Beer. Beer has an expiration date but doesn’t need one because it never stays around long enough to expire. It’s not like wine which improves with age. The fresher beer is, the better it tastes. In fact, putting expiration dates on beer is simply encouraging people to drink.
Soda. Soda has the same food value as batteries. But unlike batteries, it never really goes bad. When future archaeologists are digging the remnants of our culture out of our own landfills, they’ll find vending machines and be able to enjoy the refreshing fizz and caffeine rush that is actually the only thing that gets 90% of the human race out of bed in the mornings.
Cigarettes. A lot of sweaty-faced CEOs have, while tugging their collars and stammering like defendants at the Nuremberg trials, stated that tobacco is not a drug. Despite this, cigarettes have an expiration date. Now this is a good idea. With the increasing number of non-smoking areas, the higher prices, the addition of strange and lethal chemicals to tobacco, and the generally bad press, smokers are getting pushed around a lot lately. I’m glad that something is being done to look out for them. That is, of course, unless those expiration dates actually refer to the smokers themselves.
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
Gullibility Virus Spreading over the Internet!
WASHINGTON, D.C.-The Institute for the Investigation of irregular Internet Phenomena announced today that many Internet users are becoming infected by a new virus that causes them to believe without question every groundless story, legend, and dire warning that shows up in their Inbox or on their browser. The Gullibility Virus, as it is called, apparently makes people believe and forward copies of silly hoaxes relating to E-Mail viruses, get-rich-quick schemes, and conspiracy theories. "These are not just readers of tabloids or people who buy lottery tickets based on fortune cookie numbers," a spokesman said. "Most are otherwise normal people, who would laugh at the same stories if told to them by a stranger on a street corner." However, once these same people become infected with the Gullibility Virus, they believe anything they read on the Internet. "My immunity to tall tales and bizarre claims is all gone," reported one weeping victim. "I believe every warning message and sick child story my friends forward to me, even though most of the messages are anonymous." Internet users are urged to examine themselves for symptoms of the virus, which include the following:
- the willingness to believe improbable stories without thinking
- the urge to forward multiple copies of such stories to others
- a lack of desire to take three minutes to check to see if a story is true
T.C. is an example of someone recently infected. He told one reporter, "I read on the Net that the major ingredient in almost all shampoos makes your hair fall out, so I’ve stopped using shampoo." When told about the Gullibility Virus, T.C. said he would stop reading e-mail, so that he would not become infected. President Clinton has been advised by the National Health Council. He has had an emergency session with former presidents Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, and Lincoln. All agreed he should not quarantine the country. This is not being reported in the major news media to avoid panic. Anyone with symptoms is urged to seek help immediately. Experts recommend that at the first feelings of gullibility, Internet users rush to their favorite search engine and look up the item tempting them to thoughtless credence. Most hoaxes, legends, and tall tales have been widely discussed and exposed by the Internet community (see, for example, the web site www.snopes.com, which dispels a lot of so-called urban legends). Many companies have internal support groups to help employees minimize the impact of this terrible virus.
Forward this message to all your friends right away! Don’t think about it! This is not a chain letter! This story is true! Don’t check it out! This story is so timely, there is no date on it! This story is so important, we’re using lots of exclamation points!!! For every message you forward to some unsuspecting person, the Home for the Hopelessly Gullible will donate ten cents to itself. (If you wonder how the Home will know you are forwarding these messages all over creation, you’re obviously thinking too much, and believe Bill Gates, Disney, and President Djibouti of Farentonia will send you $5000 for helping them test their new e-mail system.)
Is the Horse really Dead?
Indian tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in business we often try other strategies with dead horses. See if any of these look familiar:
- Buy a stronger whip
- Change riders
- Appoint a committee to study the horse
- Move the horse to a new location
- Provide status reports daily on the dead horse
- Rename the dead horse
- Create a training session to increase our ability to ride
- Add more managers/supervisors per dead horse
- Hire a consultant to give their opinion on dead horses
- Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position
- Terminate all live horses to redefine productivity
- Arrange to visit other sites to benchmark how THEY ride dead horses
- Provide an incentive bonus for the jockey Schedule a meeting with the dead horse to discuss his productivity problems
- Do a cost analysis study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper
- Hire another consultant to refute the first consultant’s opinion that the horse is really dead
- Bring in a motivational speaker to see if you can’t get the horse to rise from the dead
- Form a team, positioned to shift the horse’s paradigm
Finally, if all else fails,
- Prop the horse up, put ribbons in his mane & tail, and see if you can’t find a buyer!!