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MARTHA SEZ: Snake oil and politics. Yuck! Giving up TV for 2018? Maybe.

January 5, 2018
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Since I wrote the last installment of this column we have entered a new year. Yes, it is now 2018, and yet certain things have not changed. Various aspects of daily life which I had hoped would be different continue on, just the same as before. I hate to complain. Still.

Take television ads for example. Last year I watched a lot of political commentary on MSNBC which was constantly interrupted by advertisements, some more irritating than others.

I enjoy Geico ads, for example, but others, particularly the ones targeting the elderly, are maddening.

Among the worst are "Funeral Advantage" (Are you between the ages of 40 and 85?), the one for catheters that makes me physically cringe (some old coot usually manages to croak out the words "If you use catheters," before I can push the mute button on the remote), the ads for medications with lists of horrible side effects as long as your arm, and those that ask "How much have you saved for retirement? Are you sure it's enough?"

No, I'm not. I will never be able to retire. Leave me alone! I scream at the television set. Then I have to go and take one of my nervous pills to calm down. In case you haven't noticed, these particular ads are played over and over again.

The worst of the worst, though, is the endlessly repeated ad for an orally administered dietary supplement called Prevagen. I complained about Prevagen advertisements in this column last year, and the situation has not improved.

We are told that Prevagen contains "a protein found in jellyfish" that has been clinically shown to improve memory loss caused by aging. This "message from our sponsors" is insulting; it is so obviously snake oil. "You might take something for your heart...why not your brain?"

The protein in question, apoaequorin, is isolated from the luminescing jellyfish Aequorea victoria. Who says that jellyfish, even luminescing jellyfish, have such great memories, anyway? Maybe we are supposed to think that our brains will light up, like a light bulb turning on, if we take Prevagen for 90 days at 70 dollars or so a bottle.

Even if apoaequorin had properties that promote good brain health, because of its structure, taken orally, it would be broken down in the gut during the digestive process, and so has no chance of ever reaching the brain at all.

The ad is carried by Fox, CNN and NBC. If you are a television viewer, it is inescapable. When I learned that Quincy, the manufacturer of Prevagen, was being sued for fraudulent advertising by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as well as by the Federal Trade Commission, I was appeased somewhat.

Oh well, I thought, as the ad came on for roughly the 50th time that morning, I won't have to put up with this for too much longer, because New York state and the feds will have this supplement taken off the market.

Yet the advertising became if anything more aggressive. Why would ethical-or at least self-righteous-commentators allow themselves to be sponsored by these jellyfish protein scammers? I asked myself that question, and I still do. But

Now I learn that the suit against Quincy and its very lucrative product Prevagen has been dismissed by a federal judge. Go figure.

I am starting to think that I bring a lot of this aggravation on myself by watching too much television. I know I watch "Morning Joe" way too much. I let it get to me.

"Mika!" I hiss at the screen. "What makes you think anyone will take you seriously as a superior moral force when you let that junior-high mean girl vibe get in the way?"

Yes, I am talking about Mika Brzezinski bullying Donny Deutsch. The other panelists sometimes join in. It isn't funny. Maybe that will change in 2018.

But probably not.

Maybe my New Year's resolution should be: Give up television for 2018.

In other ways as well I notice that life goes on in 2018 much as it did in 2017. This frigid weather, for example. And our president's comment on it: a tweet remarking that perhaps what we need is some more of that good old global warming. I think this kind of thing is beginning to wear on everyone's nerves. People don't really want to talk about it anymore. Sorry.

As I was saying, I hate to complain.

Have a good year!



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