2006-04-23

Bottled water = Snake Oil

Image hosting by PhotobucketI went into BiLo across the road and noted down the softdrink, fruit juice and water prices (23 April 2006), dropped them into a spreadsheet for a quick comparison of what the various liquids cost per litre (the last column). The cheapest beverage was BiLo softdrink at 52 cents per litre. The most expensive was Evian at $2.96 per litre. That is Evian spring water, no juice or carbonation. This has to be one very magical spring. Certainly the shareholders would think so.

Rough median price for softdrink is $1.17/L, juice is $1.35/L and water is $1.54/L.

I think that we can extrapolate and say that by adding sugar and flavour to water, then carbonating the mixture you have actually devalued the water. A farmer growing fruit for juicing may well consider letting the damned plants dry up and just filter his quota of water, bottle it and sell it as "Farmer Joe's Purified Fruit Water".

Why would I note down prices? Aside from being a nerd, I am NOT a trainspotter. I was going to the stupid football to watch my idiot team get beaten by the bottom of the ladder team, grrrrr. Anyways, my girlfriend, who is full of great practical ideas always insists that we take in our own snacks, seeing as the food at the football is two to four times more expensive than reasonable standard pricing. Aside from twisties and chocolate we also get water. I was checking the water prices and noted that the softdrink was cheaper in the same volume. I wanted a 1.25 litre bottle of water. It was less than half price for me to buy some 69cent BiLo softdrink, pour the contents on the ground and fill the now empty bottle with my filtered water from home than to buy the cheapest ($1.49) 1.25 litre bottle of water. It was then that I felt a blog article coming on.

I like water. Often when I am out and about on this little ball of dirt, I become thirsty and require hydration. I like my water to be taste free and filtered if possible which means that occasionally the local tap water just doesn't cut it. Bribie Island leaps to mind; I'm thinking they pipe their water straight from the swamps.

Fortunately, shops are everywhere that sell a range of water products along side the fizzy sugar laden beverages, fruit juices and occasional pseudo-milk drinks. Unfortunately, these retailers want a premium for their plain old water.

The marketers would have us think that the water comes bubbling up from mystical pure springs found high in the mountains, either straight from a melting glacier or filtered through tonnes of dirt before being scooped up, dumped into handy plastic containers and shipped to your local shop. Naturally these springs contain some minerals and such - Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium. Oh and probably more Aluminium than you really should be consuming (thank you Coca-Cola; owner of Peats Ridge / Neverfail / Mount Franklin). Also various FDA tests in the US have reported harmful levels on Nitrates, Arsenic, Chloroform, Bromodichloro-methane, Phthalate (hormone disrupter and carcinogen) and Lead.

So is bottled water better than tap water? No, no, no, no, hell no.

Is bottled water better than filtered water? Well our friends at the The Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) would have you think that water filters are poisonous traps for people-killing bacteria. The conclusion of the ABWI
"Because of the problems and costs associated with water filter use, the ABWI recommends bottled water as a safe and reliable alternative."
So putting my filtered water in a bottle that used to contain softdrink is unsafe, unreliable because my water filter system has problems!
"By purchasing water from an ABWI accredited bottler, you can be guaranteed every drop you consume is safe and sanitary."
I think this statement equals "please sue me if our water is ever found to be unsafe". Nice one. I wonder if Tony Gentile, Executive Director of ABWI, can cover the legal liability, if the ABWI organisation has any funding or insurance to cover law suits when one of his members starts poisoning people with some arsenic or heavy metals.

The Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) would like to remind you "that human blood is 95% water" or maybe "Blood is 92% water", it seems the ABWI are not that certain. Most other sites quote 83%. I imagine the folks at the ABWI have more dilute blood than the rest of us. I don't trust any of the sites as they are all non-medical and do not site sources. I'm happy to go with: there is a lot of water in our blood ... so if you're really thirsty then ... no, let's not go there.

The ABWI claim the products of their members are a "chemical free alternative". They should be VERY nervous about making that claim for a variety of reasons. I also like thier claims under "Benefits of Good Hydration" one of which is "Protection - Cancer Research!" ... so water protects you from cancer research? Sweet. Those cancer researchers are a menace.

The hippies over at The Earth Policy Institute have a great little essay on bottled water.

If you want to kill off bacteria in water then SODIS method sounds like an exceedingly easy method to follow. Basically, just put the water in a clear bottle on your roof for six hours of daylight, heat and UV radiation kill the bugs.

Choice have an article on bottled water that has a more comprehensive list of bottled water prices taken from a number of stores around Sydney in March 2005. The median price is reduced somewhat to about $1.15/L. Assuming there has been no recent price rise, this brings water into line with softdrink pricing ... which is still freaking insane for something that the company adds so little value to. Frankly I don't think pricing is worth more investigation other than collusion for price fixing.

More recently PBS have an article about bottled water looking at just how safe the water is and where it all comes from. Mmm, can you say SCAM.

Conclusions: Bottled water has a very high stupidity tax on it, that is being collected by the beverage companies. It is OK to be stupid every now and again; forget to bring your own water once in a while, but you have to learn to BYO or you'll just be funding the next Beverage Company junket.

My recommendations:
  • Get a water filter.
  • Change your water filters regularly.
  • Avoid buying bottled water where possible, BYO.
  • Don't buy softdrink in cans.
  • Buy Pepsi instead of Coke, Pepsi-Max instead of Coke-Zero
  • When BiLo has 2L Pepsi-Max on special for $1.27 then buy them all!

And remember "that human blood is 95% water" (or maybe 83%), the other 5% is pure evil.

Bottled Water Lobby’s Misinformation Campaign Oct 2008

Bottled-water sales begin to dry up Aug 2009

2006-04-20

YouTube

YouTube is a phenomenon. Anyone can post their video up on the net for anyone else to watch. 99% of the content is complete rubbish, there are only a couple gems, ah but what gems they are.

And the Evil Easter Bunny is just a great tribute to amatuer film. Kevin Smith did a great spoof of the junk on YouTube included in his Clerks II Behind the Scenes Special which should be rated not suitable for people to watch (this Special not the movie).

Search for your favourite people like Bill Gates and get great videos like Bill Gates & Napoleon Dynamite (helps a LOT if you have seen the movie "Napoleon Dynamite").

Seek and ye shall find.

Actually that's about it.

So what is the attraction to YouTube? Well. Boredom I guess. Seeing what other people do when they are bored. Damn this completely discovered world! You need a double PhD to do any real exploration these days. With no excitement of discovery we could watch YouTube or spray paint a building. These are the choices.

I have heard some rumours that good people at PhotoBucket are moving towards a YouTubesque interface and there are claims from certain podcasts that I listen to that Photobucket have a similar upload rates to YouTube but all I see is a new option to upload video.

2006-04-11

Poetry

When you're feeling mellow and creative and you don't have a camera then poems can be an easy outlet for those creative juices or even a distraction with the sweet endorphin burst at the end when you think you have done something particularly clever with words.

Throw in some math and you get things like poems based on the fibonacci sequence and more rules to better "fibs". Slashdot it and the nerds provide a plethora of good examples. Kind of like haiku except to a different beat.

Then there is the poetry based on spam. I've always wanted to do that, the trouble is that I would actually have to read the spam, so my brain is having a war with itself and unfortunately the clever side just makes the "read the spam" side forget.

This is a good way to point at the now unupdated SatireWire which held an annual spam competition. SatireWire also has gems like "Australia gets drunk, wakes up in North Atlantic". Rather than being creative at this point, I am going to reproduce a spam poem here:
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
He leadeth me beside the still waters,
He restoreth my credit and consolidateth my debts,
For as little as $1,750,
If I act now.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me,
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
And can now be 50 Percent Larger in Three Weeks.
Guaranteed.
There are plenty of other examples of spam poetry if you want to google around like Spam Haiku and Kristin's site.

The logical progression of this is the combination. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my original work (stolen from the subject titles of spam email that I have received):

Spam Fibonacci Poetry
Stock
Buy
Invest
Dollar falls
Great portfolio
Education is not needed
Says so much doesn't it?
Shriek
Alert
Bedroom
Pharmacy
All your online meds
Chemical assisted lifestyle
Viagra, Cialis, Xanax, Valium, Soma
That hurt as much to write as it does to read.

This is not to be confused with the spammers attempting to use poetry to get past spam filters.

So all of this is really an attempt to give you the background for another comic I created. You'll notice the dramatic changes to the background are similar to the dynamic range of the characters' physical expression. You probably read the comic first right? Unless I have put so much text in here that it scrolled of the bottom of the screen. Sweet!

2006-04-08

Make your own comic online

StripGenerator.com

Back in the days when we were first thinking about POP1, we wanted to have a cartoon featured. None of us had even a modicum of artistic skill but we all thought we were fairly witty. This simple online tool Strip Generator allows you to create very basic comic strips without much fuss. There are some shortfalls, like you can't change facial expressions and there is only a very limited set of "items" but you can usually still get across what you want and damn if it aint fun. Just look at my example - it is the same image in each frame; minutes to construct. I made two more comics based on almost the exact same background unchanged. Creative.

Of course you could do a similar thing using clip art and whatever graphics package you might have. People have recommended Comic Life for the Mac which takes your digital images and lets you arrange, title and balloon them like a comic (I am tempted to try it out).

Well it is either use something like this Strip Generator or I am going to have to buy a Wacom Graphire4 and get my drawing skills up to muster. I may still do that.

Also check out Pixton.

read more | digg story

2006-04-05

Interesting Links

Image hosting by PhotobucketJust browsing about and realised I should share the links I think are interesting. Places I regularly go to and new places that seem fun.

Digg
Sign up for this. It is a tech (etc) oriented news site that is user driven. One of the really neat features is that you can "digg" an article and it adds it to your digg bookmarks which you can later go back and investigate in more detail. Since using Digg I have read the venerable "Slashdot a lot less.

Questionvile
Very new site where users can pose questions and answers. It is under development but kind of fun to browse through and add your own opinion. Amusing for a while.

PopURLs
A quick mash up of the popular news/tech sites, giving you headlines and some neat images. A great way to get introduced to the sites that it references.

Whirlpool
Absolutely awesome site for selecting an ISP in Australia. You can also get involved with their forums where users discus ISPs and other IT/comms related subjects. Very informative.

SMSPup
These guys will spam you in a very ordered way, you respond to the spam and they will allow you to send SMS messages from their web site. Very handy!

Blogger
Sure you can set up your own server at home and fiddle with software until the cows come home, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous ISP connections. Or you can blog your stuff at Blogger which is owned by the Google people and let them worry about bandwidth and such.

Performancing
These guys will monitor your websites / blogs for you and tell you about the people who visit your sites. You simply copy their script in to your template / page code and wait for the stats to roll in. Ah yes, people keep reading my "Microwave Popcorn Kills" article for some reason.

GMail
Gmail rocks so very hard. I have email accounts all over the place and GMail's interface is the best. Spam filtering, message sorting - very very nice. You need to be invited tho, so email me and I will get you in (this implies that you ALREADY know my email address). You should never use the free email account provided to you by your ISP. It ties you to your ISP. You should also not use your work email address to message friends, because you may change jobs and/or work may be monitoring your mail.

Pandora
Pandora is an excellent way to discover new music by groups who make similar music to the groups that you like. It is free, sounds excellent and gives you that buzz of delight when you think "That sounds great - never heard of them before!"

List of links
Then there is my list of links which should contain everything above and more. Of note is the list of stores which has price comparisons. Under misc are weather forecasts, tv guides, trans info (schedules for public transport), etc and so on.

Podcasts
Recommend: Ask a Ninja, Dr Karl's Great Moments in Science, Dr Karl on triple J, Engadget, Inside the Net, Late Night Live, Ockham's Razor, Security Now, The Health Report, The Science Show, The Spirit of Things, this Week in Tech, What's New Now.