Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sleepwalking Into Recession

So I opened up the latest issue of National Geographic magazine to read my favorite items--the long lists of side-effects which follow all those glossy pharmaceutical advertisements--and was not disappointed.

Though I am parodying the drug's name and the name of the company which is hyping/hawking it, the following is reprinted word for word from the side-effects "medication guide":

After taking AmbientSP, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night.

Reported activities include:

driving a car ("sleep-driving")
making and eating food
talking on the phone
having sex

Call your doctor right away if you find out that you have done any of the above activities after taking AmbientSP.

So I should tell my doc if I make and eat a huge meal, call someone up and arrange to have sex with them and then walk around whistling afterward, all while I'm still asleep thanks to AmbientSP? Well, who's going to tell me what I did if my "partner" for the evening stays mum?

(Notice that the grammar and wording of this disclosure is clearly aimed at the 5th grade reading level--in essence, if you can read English at the lowest possible proficiency, you're our target audience.)

The advert came with a handy coupon for a week's free supply of AmbientSP, just in case you didn't want to bother hectoring your doctor into giving you a prescription.

Further disclosures were even more astounding:

Other reported activities include:
Driving your car to the late-night neighborhood drag-races and challenging the young driver of a souped-up Mustang to race "for the pink slip" (oops, you lost)
Talking on the phone to set the fee you'll accept for having sex with an unknown person--and then having sex with him/her
Going on broadcast TV and announcing that the U.S. is not in recession and the economy is just fine (note: this is functionally equivalent to the behavior described above)
Signing escrow documents to buy a house because the TV pundits told you "this is the bottom in the housing market"
Driving to the fast-food part of town and gorging yourself on all those treats you've been denying yourself--and then waking up in the emergency room

That's when it hit me: the entire U.S. is sleepwalking into the recession, completely oblivious to the reality that we're walking off a cliff. If you're loaded up on AmbientSP or equivalent--which millions of people are thanks to Snuffi-Avarice's relentless, ubiquitous ad campaigns aimed directly at consumers, not medical professionals--then you literally don't even know what you're doing much of the time.

And so you act like the good times are still rolling: bidding on foreclosed houses, convinced they're a great bargain, buying stocks hyped by pundits, planning this year's vacation on the old credit card(s) (one of the 14 probably has some credit left, but who knows what you charged while sleep-walking/sleep-driving/sleep-shopping, etc.)

It made me wonder if the stock market might yet experience a "sleep-walkers' rally" in which traders who aren't even aware of what they're doing bid stocks up to new highs. (please go to www.oftwominds.com/blog.html to view the chart)

As many technical types have long noted, the four-year chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average sure looks like a classic "head and shoulders" top, which suggests that the U.S. stock market is in a Bear Market downtrend in which every rally will fail and lead to lower lows.
But with so many "regular" folks amped up on AmbientSP and other drugs, who's to say that sleep-walkers can't dash the Bears' plans with a completely heedless-of-reality rally to old highs?
Look, if you can make phone calls, prepare meals, have sex, go on TV and declare the U.S. economy is sound, etc., all without knowing what you're doing, then what's to stop you from buying huge blocks of U.S. stocks?

After all, if your sex partner or broker never tells you what you did, you'll never even know what you did in those "lost hours."

It would be remiss not to note that until relatively recently, drug companies were not allowed to market/push their drugs directly to consumers. It is obvious such ads should once again be banned as a public nuisance/endangerment. If you really need AmbientSP, then how about letting your physician do his/her job?

As noted here last Thursday ( The VERY DANGEROUS Book You Must Not Read), sleep aids like AmbientSP don't work as well as cognitive therapy, and the supposed benefit is minimal (you fall asleep 15 minutes earlier than you would have without being sedated/drugged.) Not to mention these drugs can be addictive, if not physically then psychologically. Is it really worth sleep-walking through life to fall asleep 15 minutes early?

If you have trouble sleeping, here is the sure-fire cure: work very hard all day long in a physically active job: moving furniture up and down stairs, busting up concrete, lugging boxes of freshly picked fruit around the orchard, etc. You'll fall asleep the moment you lay down on the earth, never mind a bed.

Thank you, Grant P. ($20), for your much-appreciated generous donation to this site. I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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