Feedback: Different Meanings of Single, My Car Ownership Status, Inadvertently Promoting McCain and IonCleanse

by Joey deVilla on May 28, 2008

There’s Single, and Then There’s Single

Cover of the soundtrack for the movie \"Singles\"
Can you believe it’s been 16 years since this movie? Weird.

In the article Further Thoughts on “Toronto the Naughty”, I described local nightlife activist and Newmindspace co-founder Kevin Bracken as “single”. My buddy Pete Forde said “no, he’s not single; he’s in a relationship,” to which “yes, he’s single; he’s not married.”

It’s interesting how bits of your language change as you move from one phase of life to another; I recall using the term “single” in the same sense that Pete used it. I’m reminded of an observation in Clay Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations: Only people who have already met their spouse say that cites are dead.

My Car Ownership Status

Red 1998 Honda CR-V
A 1998 Honda CR-V.

In the article Gas Pains, I mentioned that I typically spend the equivalent of US$75 on gas every 6 to 8 weeks. At least four people wrote in via email to say something along the lines of “You have a car?

This isn’t the first time that someone’s been surprised at my car ownership status. A former co-worker of mine at Tucows who used to butt heads with me regularly over developer relations once expressed surprise at my owning a car by saying “You have a car? But…but you’re an anarchist!

(“Bon vivant”, sure. On certain days, you might be right to go with “libertine”. But “anarchist?” Hardly.)

I drive a 1998 Honda CR-V that barely has any scratches or mileage. The car’s 10 years old and has less than 100,000 kilometres (around 60,000 miles) on the odometer. It’s not used for commuting to work, occasionally used for going out on the town and on weekends for shopping trips and over to my sister’s house for our weekly family dinner. It’s good for the environment, but more importantly, it’s good for my health (as I bike to work as well as for small grocery runs) and for my wallet.

But yes, I do have a car.

Those Context-Driven Ads

I run Google’s AdSense ads on both this blog and Global Nerdy. AdSense uses Google’s search engine tech to scan this blog and present ads related to the text of my articles. The idea is that people are more likely to click on ads that a related to whatever they’re reading. The rules don’t allow me to disclose what I make in a very specific way, but I am allowed to say that it covers my wardrobe budget or allows me to take the Ginger Ninja out to a very nice restaurant reasonably often.

There are some downsides. Being software, it has no idea of contextual subtlety and will display ads that send a message or opinion opposite to my own. The Gas Pains article mentions George W. Bush in a number of places, and since John McCain is strongly connected to George Bush as far as Google’s search engine is concerned, guess what ads appeared:

Screen capture of \"Gas Pains\" article with John McCain ads
Screenshot courtesy of Charles Starrett.

Ah, the vagaries of computer-based recommendations. I’ll have to set aside some time to go into my AdSense settings block Republican ads (despite my being based in Canada, about 60% of my readers are from the U.S., so I’d rather show ads for my preferred candidate, Obama, who seems to be the choice of a number of prominent techies). I may not be eligible to vote, but I am eligible to influence.

Thanks to Charles Starrett for pointing that one out!

IonCleanse’s True Believers

Section of the IonCleanse poster showing “before” and “after” photos.
An IonCleanse poster hanging in the storefront of a chiropractic office near my home in High Park.

I’ve received a number of responses, via email, comments and in person, to my IonCleanse article. A number of people believe it’s real. I still think it smacks of quackery. I should check up with Pete and see if he’s raised enough money to take the IonCleanse challenge.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

dbs May 28, 2008 at 2:02 pm

There are tons of articles completely debunking this idiocy. The garbage you’re seeing in the water is just plain rust, pure and simple.

How to tell? Run the IonCleanse without feet in it. It turns brown too! Isn’t that amazing?

James Randi has debunked this sham several times – google on ‘ioncleanse’ and ‘randi’ and you’ll end up with plenty of articles about it.

Pete Forde May 28, 2008 at 5:35 pm

@dbs: No need to worry – the moment I read about the rust there’s no way I would have given them money.

Kevin Bracken May 29, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Oh yeah, I didn’t even notice that!

If you want to get technical, I am in a common-law partnership, which may not be marriage, exactly, but not exactly like “un-marriage” either.

Joey deVilla May 29, 2008 at 12:56 pm

@Kevin Bracken: Well, given that information, I’d classify you as “married” and thus not “single”.

Tucowed June 2, 2008 at 9:17 pm

# “I still think it smacks of quackery.”

Joey, it totally quacks of smackery — like [company name redacted].

Joey says: I feel your pain, but I’m no longer a representative of that company. I suggest you take it up with them. If you email me privately, I can help connect you to the right people.

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