The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, January 13, 2000

And this is your government on drugs

I just have to wonder how far out government will go on the “War on Drugs.” It seems now they're willing to pay for anti-drug friendly TV programming in addition to regular advertising.

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this. On the one hand, come on, it's TV. The networks are out to make money and if someone were willing to pay even more for pro-drug programming, we'd get more pro-drug programming (remember: always follow the money). And doesn't this also following along with the “Don't Drink and Drive” campaign? I wouldn't consider the “Don't Booze and Cruise” campaign to be that bad—heck, I like that better than the Prohibition we in the United States had in the 1920s. And it applies social pressure to solve a problem than legislative pressure which to me is always a good thing.

But this is “The War on Drugs” here (or as some of my friends would say, “The War on Some Drugs”). And the government. Where does this fervor for anti-drugs come from? Certainly not from the majority of my friends. Perhaps we should follow the money?


There are drugs, and then there are drugs

The United States has this small drug problem—the government wants to outlaw the use of drugs (well, some drugs), but watch TV for any length of time and what will you see?

Advertisements for drugs.

Okay, so it's not advertisements for marijuana or cocaine or even nicotine, but if you ever feel achy, stuffy, feverish, coughy, congested, constipated, asthmatic, pimply or just plain blah, there's a pill, elixor, syrup, patch, serium, drop, spray or inhalent to make you feel all better.

I remember as a kid taking medicine to help with the achy, stuffy head, fever and coughs for all the colds and flus I got. The one thing that I distinctly remember is that no matter how much medicine I would take, I would never feel as good as quickly and for as long as the ads said I should. Over time (and for a variety of reasons) I stopped taking all those medicines when sick and just let nature run its course (except for the rare times when I would get bronchitis—then it was run to the doctor to get antibiotics).

Now I rarely get sick and when I do (usually once a year or so) it's rarely bad enough to take me entirely out (but I feel lethargic for about a month as it works its way around my body). But a few years ago I did get a nasty flu while visiting Dad out in California.

Dad gave me some over the counter medication and I was amazed that it actually seemed to work like it said it would in the advertisements.

The reason I think it worked then and not before was that I had lost any resistance I may have had to the drugs. Take drugs all year round, and your body will build up resistance to it. Forsake them, and when you need them, they'll tend to work. I suspect the ads are true for those people who have never taken drugs (or so rarely take them).

It seemed to be that in my case.

But getting back to what I was talking about. You have a slew of advertisements saying drugs are bad. Then you have another slew of advertisements saying drugs are good. Is it any wonder we have a problem here?


“Hi, I'm an annoying computer program calling you to sell … ”

Ring.

Ring.

I pick up the phone. “Hello?” I croak. See, I'm still sick.

“Hello. Did you receive a computer over the holidays?”

“No—” but even before I can finish that …

“Do you need help in setting it up?”

“No, not—”

“Let me help! My name is Mark and I'm available at your convienence to set up your computer, teach you how to use it. I can even back up your harddrive on CD. My rate is—”

Click.

This was the second solicitation I received today over the phone.


The Chairman is dead … long live the Chairman!

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but Gates resigns!

Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, stepped down, with Ballmer replacing him.

Was this prompted by the DOJ investigation? Possibly, but not in the way you think. Gates has been, for pretty much the late 80s and 90s, Microsoft. The two are one. Microsoft, Gates. Gates, Microsoft. Given the way Microsoft botched the DOJ trial, I almost think that this was orchestrated from the beginning as a way to allow Gates to retire from Microsoft without the stock tanking once he left.

Gates is nothing if not a brilliant (if not outright ruthless) businessman who's entire fortune is tied to a huge paper tiger. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't liquidate his stocks fast enough.

Then again, if Gates said they were splitting the company, he could pull it off without the hold DOJ thang to blame it on. He pulled the company around 180 degrees several times in the 90s to make up for missed opportunities without so much as a pause so maybe the whole DOJ thang was a blunder on their part.

I don't know.

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