Archive | December 2013

Non-science meets non-science

Some clever individual thought it might be funny to put a science writer on the mailing list for the Southern Evangelical Seminary, home of one of the leaders of the intelligent design movement. The regularly bombard me with things that are badly off target, but few so far amiss as this one.

Southern Evangelical Seminary Conference Speaker Dr. Craig Mitchell Discusses Why Christians Should Care About Economics

SES Says It is Important That Christians Are Equipped to Answer Questions About the Morality and Science of Economics

CHARLOTTE, N.C.— Why should Christians care about economics? Are there moral or biblical principles related to economics?  Furthermore, why is it important to contemplate whether or not economics is a science?  The answers lie within what Dr. Craig Mitchell, a world-renowned economic apologist and speaker this past October at Southern Evangelical Seminary’s (SES, ses.edu) 2013 National Conference on Christian Apologetics, has studied, researched, written and presented in his lectures.

Dr. Mitchell points out that what we call science today used to be known as “natural philosophy.”  The social sciences all began under the field of moral theology and moral philosophy, and economics, law and politics – the social sciences – were all sub-disciplines under the philosophical and theological fields.  As such, all of the first economists included a view of the nature of man, morality and God in their systems. While economics is the most scientific of the social sciences, it is not a science like physics.  More and more economists are beginning to realize that you cannot divorce morality from economics, law and politics. They also realize that you cannot separate these disciplines from each other.

Mitchell comments, “Despite all of the mathematics in contemporary economics, there is no getting away from the fact that it is still moral philosophy. Consequently, every economic decision is value laden.  A good economic decision reflects the use of phronesis (or practical wisdom), which is both a moral and intellectual virtue. The man of character is one who normally acts in accordance with virtue. Consequently, one who is a good man will generally not allow himself to make many bad economic decisions.

“The man of character will normally be influenced by virtue of the moral, intellectual or political type. The Christian is guided by the theological virtues of Christian faith, Christian hope and Christian love…”

Aristotle argued that a government’s expenditures should be less than its revenue. He understood that debt was an evil that should not be undertaken lightly, especially by governments. Adam Smith, who was also a moral philosopher argued that government should only spend money on three things; national defense (the first duty of a sovereign), a legal/ judicial system, and public works. Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers of the United States would agree with both Aristotle and Adam Smith.

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary stated, “Apologetics – or defending one’s faith – is one method of evangelism. Economic apologetics, which employs logic and rationality combined with the tenets of the Christian faith, is necessary as a method to reach a group of individuals who have a way of intellectually thinking that may preclude them from being open to a higher authority when it comes to something as worldly as money and the economy.  In light of the current state of our economy and in light of the division among fiscal and social conservatives, now is the time that Christians must be equipped to be able to discuss why these fiscal and social precepts are intertwined and should not be separated, either in practice or in sound thinking.  Therefore, it is also imperative that Christians are practicing the biblical principles of economics so that their witness has substance.”

Craig Vincent Mitchell, PhD is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) where he also serves as director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement. In addition, Dr. Mitchell is also a Research Fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and he serves as a part-time lecturer in economics at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Dr. Mitchell has completed seven degrees. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electronic engineering technology/ mathematics from Savannah State University and a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. In addition, Dr. Mitchell holds master’s degrees in engineering management and information systems, both from West Coast University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern. In 2011 he completed a Master of Arts degree in economics from the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Mitchell holds a PhD in Christian ethics and philosophy of religion from Southwestern and is the author of two books: Charts of Christian Ethics and Charts of Philosophy and Philosophers, both published by Zondervan.

PR goes to the dogs. Or comes from them. Or something.

It’s not so much the spirit behind this — helping owners find their lost pets seems like a great idea — as the idea of doing so by giving your pet a website and tag that’s “personalized to fit your pet’s stylish needs”. Also, the whole “why not send this to someone who doesn’t ever write about pets?” thing.
Hi [redacted]!
Dog Tag Art has created the first ever “Virtual Leash” which allows you to maintain a unique website (a.k.a. online profile) for your pet with unlimited emergency contacts that can be instantly notified. The website can send you, and your emergency contacts, messages through email, Twitter, text message and voice mail when your pet is found. Virtual Leash also uses Google Maps to show potential finders a safe place for your pet. You can change this address easily and at anytime.
Your pet’s unique website is printed on a tag, (along with your phone number), that can be personalized to fit your pet’s stylish needs. Your pet’s website can be updated as you move, travel or even when they are at a pet sitters for the weekend.  Would you like samples of any of their fabulous customizable pet tags or more info on Virtual Leash for a possible feature? Release and images are below and be sure to check out their website.

A PR pitch that will leave you needing a drink

It’s a deep recursion into the blogosphere. Sent to the science editor of a news and culture blog, asking for publicity for a story at a science blog site. All about a “scientifically proven” method of getting a bartender’s attention.

Hi [redacted]-

There you are—waiting at the bar, dying for a drink, but you can’t seem to catch the bartender’s attention. What’s your next move? Wait patiently? (Yeah, right.) Panic? Forget the drink and just pretend to your date that you’re way drunker than you actually are?

Well, lucky for you, Discover magazine’s Seriously Science? blog reports today on a technique that is scientifically proven to help you get a drink. All you do is this: Yell “BEER ME! NOW!” as loudly as you can while pointing your finger at the bartender.

No, just kidding. Don’t do that. (Though it might actually work in some cases.)

But seriously, here’s what you do:
Step 1) Position yourself directly at the bar counter.
Step 2) Look at a staff member.
Step 3) Receive your drink and enjoy!

For more info on the study, you can read the Discover blog post here:

[link removed]

I hope you consider sharing this news item.

Thanks for your time. I hope these tips help you have a great (thirsty) Thursday!

A tortured pitch for torture-free holidays

For starters, we’d be badly remiss if we didn’t include the image that was plastered across the top of this pitch:

704

 

With that out of the way, the pitch itself had a great opening line for its recipient, a science writer who doesn’t actually have a show:

GUEST FOR YOUR SHOW

The guest, naturally, wasn’t going to talk about science at all.

Happy Torture-Free Holidays!
The Top 5 Ways We Torture Ourselves at the Holidays and
The Simple Ways Not To
The Answers to Finding More Peace, Ease and Genuine Joy at Holiday Times!
Sue Elliott, Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Law of Attraction Magazine and Creator of “Heartfelt Holidays”

Dear [redacted],

Why do we feel so depressed, anxious, fearful, irritated and upset from Thanksgiving to New Year’s? It’s not always the annoying relatives and pressures to meet end-of-year deadlines at work. In fact, our unhappiness seldom comes from outside… Most often what makes us craziest at the holidays is OURSELVES.
Sue Elliott, the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Law of Attraction Magazine and a leading transformation and power activator coach, says there are five key ways that we torture ourselves at the holidays!
Mastering these are the first steps in making your holidays the joy they were intended to be, and relaxing into peace, ease and fun. Your listeners will learn to watch for these hot buttons, and Sue will offer the shifts they need to make in their attitude in order to regain their equanimity and joy.

Torture #1: Comparing our real families – and the memories of holidays with them – with the “perfect” families we’ve seen in movies and on TV.
Torture #2: Beating ourselves up over gaining weight at the holidays.
Torture #3: Keeping score in gift-giving.
Torture #4: Getting upset every time we have to stand in line.
Torture #5: Trying to buy the “perfect” gifts for people.

And the pitch wrapped up with perhaps the finest closing I’ve yet to see from any PR.

Happy Torture-Free Holidays

Make gardens, not war

Sent to a prominent journalist and book author. There’s really nothing to add to the pitch itself.

Hi,

Since early eighteenth century the shotgun has been used for hunting and in warfare. Countless deer, rabbits and birds has been killed, and Countless soldiers, from the trenches of Verdun to Bagdad have experienced the deadly blast of led shots. No more.

My name is Per Cromwell. I’m a designer/inventor at ST-labs.
Today we’re launching a product I worked REALLY hard with for a long time: “Flower Shell” a shotgun shell loaded with flower seeds instead of deadly led.

• Transform any 12 gauge shotgun to a life giver instead of a life taker.
• Make gardening more FUN!
• Comes with 12 different seeds. (Columbine, Cornflower, Daisy, Poppy, Sunflower, Peony, meadow flowers and more)
• Each shell is hand made with love.
• The amount of gunpowder has been reduced and adjusted to fit the different seeds.
• More info on http://www.flowershell.com

If you want more information, piuctures or anything, don’t hesitate to ask me.
This is my dream project.

Best wishes from a foggy autumn Sweden.

Why me?

This, for reasons that are completely beyond my comprehension, was pitched to a science writer.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UNA Pride of Dixie Band, Drum Line Earn Highest Honors at Prestigious National Competitions

By Terry Pace
Communications and Marketing

FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama’s nationally renowned Pride of Dixie Band program earned highest accolades and honors – including a championship trophy for its outstanding drum line – during performances last week at the Bands of America Grand National Championships and the Percussive Arts Society International Conference (PASIC) in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“It was an extremely successful two days of performances by UNA band students at two of the most prestigious band-related events in the United States,” according to Dr. Lloyd Jones, UNA’s director of bands. “Not only did these valuable opportunities serve to greatly enhance the awareness and reputation of UNA on a national level, but I am confident that this experience will serve to create opportunities for other performances as well as recruitment.”

The piece goes on for quite some time about the band competition and what this win means for the students and university. The only thing I really got out of it is the fact that “percussive circles” doesn’t only mean a bunch of hippies getting together in a park, but can also mean the musical community that focuses on percussion instruments.

Never trust a PR agent with an AOL email address

Contrary to rumors, most science writers don’t live on the streets, so technically we are part of the target audience that owns windows and doors. But did it really make sense to send a press release about a specific company’s doors and windows to a science writer?

News Release
Contact: Kathy Ziprik

Therma-Tru Doors and Simonton Windows Poised to Meet Consumer Needs as Housing Market Recovers

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Following more than a year of housing market recovery, Mark Savan, president of Therma-Tru Doors and Simonton Windows, sees 2014 as a year where the companies are well positioned to meet consumer needs by producing quality products in a timely manner and offering strong service at all customer levels.

“Our focus is on meeting the desires of everyone who ‘touches’ our products, from distributors to building industry professionals to homeowners,” says Savan. “For 2014 we will continue our focus on marketing and training support for professionals and on education related to product knowledge for consumers.”

Savan reports that providing a wide variety of door styles and selections is important to the end purchaser of doors. For windows, energy efficiency elements remain a critical desire because so many homeowners are continually looking for quality windows that help lower energy costs in the home.

“We feel our companies are the premier brands in their respective markets,” says Savan. “We are very confident that if we are in a customer’s consideration mindset we will ultimately be regarded as their best purchasing decision.”

It goes on, providing both the consumer and construction perspective on these windows and doors. 

To be honest, my audience probably hasn’t pondered that

A helpful reader writes: “I work for a peer-reviewed monthly medical specialty magazine. …your guess is as good as mine.”

Dear [redacted]:

Don’t we all know somebody who is a good and faithful Christian, but whose life is a disaster? Why does this happen to some people and not others? Your audience has probably spent more than a little time pondering this question ― now you can give them some answers. Author Virginia Hull Welch offers practical suggestions for people of faith, and will charm your audience while she’s at it.

Please read the press release below and let me know if I may schedule an interview with Virginia Hull Welch, or send a copy of What to Do When the Blessings Stop ‒ When God Sends Famine, for consideration of a review. Thank you!

The release helpfully informs us that Ms. Welch’s next book, The Hiss from Hell Only Women Hear, will be coming out soon, too. It also offers a “tip sheet” that consists of excerpts from Amazon reviews.

No, I actually do not like that

The presumptuousness of this one gets me. It’s off target, sure; I write about science, and this is about music. But the PR person marked the email as “high priority”, and then helpfully informed me that she knows I like to receive her PR. How, exactly, does she know this?

Dear [redacted],
We know that you always like to receive our latest news at the earliest possible date. Please find below our new media alert which we are sure will be of interest to you and your readers.
As always, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would like to review any of our products.


MEDIA ALERT

IK Multimedia adds SampleMoog™ Mobile Edition
and Inter-App Audio in SampleTank
for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch


New version of SampleTank for iOS adds availability of the SampleMoog™
collection of instruments – the most sought after vintage
and modern Moog synthesizers of all time

November 26, 2013 – IK Multimedia, the leader in mobile music-creation apps and accessories for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, is pleased to announce a new version of SampleTank, the premium virtual instrument and sound module for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that gives mobile musicians access to the SampleMoog™ – Mobile Edition collection of instrument sounds, plus adds Inter-App Audio features allowing SampleTank to run as an instrument app for Inter-App Audio compatible recording apps like GarageBand for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Well, it’s a revolution of a sort…

Earlier in November, we mentioned the output a company that claimed to have a “revolutionary automated system [that] is changing the face of PR.”  The revolution seemed to involve trying to convince science writers to cover a shipping company. As we went through some of our other off-target pitches, we began to realize that the revolution was much bigger than that, and involved convincing science writers to write about nearly everything but science.

Here, for example is an offer for an interview with the man behind what appears to be a Netflix-style service for neckties:

Hey [redacted]!

I have a great feature idea for you! How about a feature about “How to dress your man for the Holidays” or “The Perfect Gift for a Man this Holiday”??! Finally there is a way for men to look their best without spending so much money! My client, FreshNeck is changing the fashion world… one tie at a time. The company provides it’s members with ties, bow ties, pocket squares and cufflinks…. all for a monthly premium… with no purchase necessary. The founder, lawyer David Goldberg, is an entrepreneur with a flair for fashion and business. The story behind FreshNeck is an interesting and engaging one and David makes a great interview…. plus this makes a perfect Holiday gift! Please let me know if you are interested in interviewing David. I’d be happy to set it up!  🙂

And shortly after, we got another pitch for a company that’s trying to bring back the handwritten note, though without the handwriting part:

Hi [redacted]!

Working on Valentine’s Day yet? Well, this Valentine’s Day do something a little different ! A KindNotes jar is the perfect gift to give, and it brings back the appreciation of a written note(remember those?!). KindNotes are jars of messages that are enclosed in mini envelopes. Each envelope contains a different message you can select from their extensive library of messages, have personalized messages written for you or you can request blank papers to write your own!  Would love to send over a sample for feature consideration! Let me know what you think! 🙂

[Links removed from both.]

Remember, these pitches are referring to a science writer by name. Either this company’s automated system has some serious bugs, or it’s revolutionary in the sense that giving a howler monkey some meth and setting it lose in my apartment would be revolutionary.