The Angry Consumer


martin-luther-king-anger-quote1The conventional wisdom about anger is that it’s bad for both mental well-being and physical health.  It’s something to be avoided, managed or suppressed.

Clearly, that’s not true in either war or sports.  Hatred of the opponent motivates willingness to work harder and take a higher level of risk than one would normally.  The huge difference is whether actions are hastily crafted or carefully designed.

The “revisionist” literature in psychology that talks about the need for anger to achieve a higher level of performance and success.   One writer describes 6 key benefits of anger:

  • Anger motivates
  • Angry people are optimistic  (really?)
  • Anger can help relationships  (clearing the air?)
  • Anger nurtures self-insight  (really??)
  • Anger can reduce violence  (or cause it)
  • Anger can be a negotiating strategy

These are things that can be true, but aren’t necessarily true.  They only work if anger is controlled and channeled.  If not, you have a loose torpedo, capable of sinking anything in reach.

We saw the power of anger in the recent election.  The fact that it worked in the recent election is being taken as proof that anger should be an emotional component in advertising.  Are we now going to see a stream of ads designed to stimulate anger?

What we don’t know is the other side — what happens when angry people are disappointed.  We may be about to find out.


  1. Blasevick, Denise, “Should your advertising anger your audience?” S3 Agency.
  2. Frenay, David, “The Importance of Emotions in Advertising,” EMOLYTICS, 11 July 2016.
  3. Matilda, Benita, “Anti-Smoking Ads Using Anger More Effective and Persuasive,” Science World Report, 30 April 2014.
  4. Oetting, Jami, “Emotional Advertising: How Brands Use Feelings to Get People to Buy,” Hubspot, 9 April 2016.

Cellphone Insecurity


Apple takes great pains to secure its phones against intrusion.  So in theory does Google.  It turns out, that might not be such a big deal.

What do government agencies want to know from your cell phone?  Top of the list is who you are calling or texting.  Makes sense, right?

Well, it turns out that call data is being backed up on the cloud.  In Apple’s case, the iCloud.  Same difference.  A “cloud” is just a fancy name for a set of computer servers whose location is unknown to you.  These servers are used to store data from a large number of different users, and perhaps millions have access to these devices.

That includes, it seems, government agencies and some of the bad guys.  (Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference.)

Anyway, Russian software company, Elcomsoft, announced this week that it can download call records from the Cloud or iCloud.  All it needs is the user name and password, and there are software programs to break passwords.  So all it really needs is the username.

So, the government doesn’t need your phone, and it doesn’t need to pay some hacker $1 million to hack the phone, to get most of the information it wants.  They don’t have to subpoena the phone company.  Anyone who wants the phone numbers of your family members or contacts doesn’t have to do that either.  They can just do it.

What’s not clear from the article is how detailed the calling information is.  Does it show your location when you place the call?  I imagine there are divorce attorneys who would love to get their hands on that.

This makes a strong case for using prepaid, “burner” phones.  Burners aren’t just for dealers anymore.


  1. Brant, Tom, “Russian Software Downloads Call Records From iCloud,” PC Magazine, 17 November 2016.



thmywnvasdThis is from ComputerWorld, a tech journal.

“According to the Post report , fake news writer Paul Horner is taking credit for Trump’s winning the election, saying, ‘I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up.'”

The question roiling social media circles is what to do with lies posted as news.  Zuckerberg (CEO at Facebook) has posted that 99% of news reported on his site is truthful, but he is not bringing in fact-checking organizations to look at what is posted.  How that is going to play out is unclear at this point.  Will there be something like a “Good Housekeeping Seal” for news posts that can be validated?  Will he ban sites that consistently post false information?  He mentioned seven ideas about how to deal with it in his most recent blog.  Zuckerberg closed his post by writing:

“Some of these ideas will work well, and some will not. But I want you to know that we have always taken this seriously, we understand how important the issue is for our community and we are committed to getting this right.”

However, critics point out that Facebook has consistently trended fake news since the firing of its human editorial staff and their replacement by software.  Zuckerberg hasn’t indicated a willingness to reverse that decision.

Fake news is biased news.  PCWorld, a publication of the IDG media conglomerate, ran a test on the content of fake news and found it massively directed at Trump supporters, by a ratio of 129 to 41.

In the meanwhile, it’s reader beware.  What you read on social media may or may not be worth the electrons used to display it.  (That’s exactly why this blog provides sources, so that readers can check the information being reported.)


  1. Dewey, Caitlin, “Facebook has repeatedly trended fake news since firing its human editors,” The Washington Post, 12 October 2016.
  2. Gaudin, Sharon, “Five things to know about fake news on Facebook, Google”, ComputerWorld, 21 November 2016.
  3. Hachman, Mark, “Just how partisan is Facebook’s fake news? We tested it.”  PCWorld, 21 November 2016.
  4. May, Ashley, “How Facebook plans to crack down on fake news,” 20 November 2016.
  5. Wadhwa, Vivek, “Fake news is just the beginning,” The Washington Post, 21 November 2016.







Watching the weather satellite launch this evening took me back to my childhood.  It felt just like watching the early Mercury launches.  The old sense of wonder and awe was there.

If Elon Musk gets his Mars program together, I’m sure I’ll feel the same about that.


(NASA photo)


Discrimination in Healthcare


45% of patients with advanced rectal cancer don’t receive the recommended treatment for this disease.

Rectal cancer is a problem.  Forecasts call for 39,000 new cases of this type of cancer in the US by the end of this year.  Rectal cancer is the largest subcategory of colorectal cancer, and is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US (roughly 15,000 deaths per year).

Colorectal cancer is most common among African-Americans.

Minorities (African-American, Latino and Native American) are less likely to receive regular screening for rectal cancer, which means that when the cancer is identified, it is usually at an advanced state.

The gold standard for treatment is neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy (NACRT) before surgery.  This approach uses three complementary approaches to treating rectal cancer, and produces better results than chemotherapy or surgery alone.

However, almost half of Americans with advanced rectal cancer don’t receive the recommended treatment for it.  Why?

A statistical analysis of advanced rectal cancer cases treated between 2004 and 2009 identified the following factors as related to whether patients received the optimal treatment or not:

  • Age
  • Presence of comorbidities (e.g., other disease conditions)
  • Primary tumor size
  • Lymph node involvement
  • Non-Hispanic white ethnicity
  • Lack of private insurance
  • Being treated at a non-high case volume facility

In plain English, if you are white or have private insurance, you’re more likely to get the NACRT treatment.  If you’re minority, have other serious illnesses, don’t have health insurance, or are being treated by doctors who don’t handle a large volume of these cases, you’re much less likely to have NACRT offered to you.

Most of these characteristics are related to ethnicity, wealth and where you live.  Minorities, the poor and those living in rural areas are less likely to get the best care.

Why does NACRT matter?

The five year survival rate for persons with advanced rectal cancer (Stages II and III) treated with NACRT is 72%.  For those treated with surgery alone, it’s 45%.  For those treated with chemo alone, it’s 49%.  So the course of treatment can make a huge different for the patient.


  • Regular screening is a must.  You may want to go beyond normal guidelines, because rectal cancer is becoming more common among younger adults.
  • Second opinions are a must.  The first doctor you see may not know the best course of treatment.

Finally, one oncologist I know swears by a smoothie that is a mix of kale or spinach (2 cups), one green apple and a one-inch-thick ring of pineapple.  One of these a day may keep cancer away — for than one can help the consumer lose weight.

Finally, as a society, we need to decide:  does the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” enshrined in the Declaration of Independence include a right to healthcare?  Can you in fact use any of your other rights without some reasonable level of health?


  1. Cho, Stephen, “Substantial Increase in Use of Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy for Rectal Cancer”, Oncology Nurse Advisor,  14 April 2016.
  2. National Cancer Institute, “SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Colon and Rectum Cancer”.
  4. 2016 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, “Changes in treatment patterns for patients with locally advanced rectal cancer in the United States over the past decade: An analysis from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB),” 23 January 2016.

Older Men and the Women Who Love Them, More


Cleaning out my mailbox, there was an article on this in Science Daily from earlier this year that’s important for oltestosteroneder men and the women who love them to know.

Low testosterone levels complicate recovery from hospital stays, according to a study from the University of Texas.

Testosterone levels fall in men after age 40 as part of the aging process.  However, some see sharper declines than others.  I know of cases in which men in their 30s have been diagnosed with this condition.

Testosterone is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland and affects a large array of body functions.  Levels are measured by an inexpensive blood test.  This test is not part the normal lab work with a physical exam and has to be requested separately.

Other symptoms of low testosterone include

  • Fatique
  • Depression and mood changes
  • Loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction
  • Weight gain and fat distribution
  • Loss of bone density
  • Lower production of red blood cells
  • Lower sperm production
  • Loss of muscle mass and strength
  • Hair loss

Put simply, low testosterone is a big deal.  The other problem is that men may be under treatment for other issues when testosterone is the real issue.  That includes men who are taking antidepressants and products like Viagra.

If someone is taking these other medications and  not getting the desired results, that may be a sign that a testosterone check needs to be run.  Treating the wrong problem is a waste of both money and time.  That’s how I found out.

You need involvement by a competent doctor.  There may be risks associated with testosterone therapy among men who have a history of heart disease.  The therapy is by prescription and some health plans do cover the costs of medication.  (There are non-prescription products advertised on TV, but there is no indication that they work.  My guess is that people reporting success with them were people who really didn’t need testosterone therapy.)