In the post Bibimbap is the shizznit a while back I posted about the unfortunate practice of ‘affinity scams’, where a member (or pretends to be) of an ethnic, religious or professional group takes advantage of perceived and expected trusts to defraud a member of the same group.

On a recent visit to one of the local Asian markets in San Diego I picked up one of the fliers for a particularly heinous scam that targets the Asian community using the social and cultural pressures inherent to an affinity scam. In this post is a real advertisement for a ridiculously expensive miracle rubber that the seller claims will cure whatever ails you. I changed the name of the product, the logos and removed the inventory numbers because I don’t want some poor fool looking this quack garbage up and buying it through any leads I might provide.

“Uber Chicle” (as I call it) is basically the rubber of the kind you would find in any wetsuit. In fact, the seller even admits that a wetsuit manufacturer supplies their materials. From the samples I’ve seen the rubber is clearly mass-produced and bears the typical quality control issues one would find in long sheets of this material such as smeared cement on the edges, seams and frayed threads. While I find the rubber indistinguishable in any way from similar wetsuit material stock the seller claims the Uber Chicle is special in some way. The advertising materials make the usual unsubstantiated nonsense text-salad claims that the special rubber (made from rocks) enriches human cells and recycles the magnetic waves the human body emits (mostly in the infra-red range) all to enable the body to retain the natural biological rhythm. Whatever that means.

This is an example of a woo-woo claim that is clearly immoral if not criminal. These pieces of rubber are sold at high prices using questionable claims of efficacy and healing powers or functions that are nothing short of magical. I worry that people with real illnesses are spending money on this junk believing and hoping it will help cure them of their afflictions. This is a very real concern as sales tactics vary depending on the customer. I have experienced this first-hand. Sales reps will variously ignore, treat with hostility or suspicion or deflect any inquiries I have based on what I presume is my race and a few other factors. Without missing a beat the very same salesperson will pounce upon my wife with spiels about miracle cures and awesome magical properties of whatever device is being sold. Often, it happens while I am standing right beside her.

Keep in mind that the average price for neoprene sheeting is about $25 dollars a yard. There is no shortage of the gullible and desperate. If I was evil, I’d be rich.

Click the picture to mark up 1000%

Sadly, it is very difficult to shut predatory scams of this nature down. This a little fish kind of problem in a very big pond and often the most that would happen is that false advertising charges would be levied, a small fine would be paid and business as usual would continue even if under a different name. Caveat Emptor rules the marketplace. Administrations that should protect consumers often look the other way or are toothless in the face of huge profits and influential dollars flowing into political coffers. The few victims that realize they are scammed are reluctant to file complaints or eagerly go on to the next quack-cure convinced that the next one or the next or the next will work as promised. Attempts by private individuals and Governments to educate the public is a slow process and feels despairingly futile sometimes. Unfortunately for every rational warning there are 500 attention-whoring celebrities praising the magic healing power of a pill, book or magnetic shoe insert.

The fact is, if any of this crap worked as advertised the world if not our marketplace would not be recognizable as it is now. This special knowledge and technology, if it was real, could not be contained or controlled by a select, special or powerful few. As most of the advertising claims the knowledge is everywhere, part of everyone and can be manipulated and touched. It is natural and miraculous and cures all ills. There would be no need for specialists or sales reps as every person on Earth would be at their ultimate potential of health just by common everyday exposure to these natural fantastic elements. Medical science, Doctors and hospitals would exist only so far as to ensure each individual died without pain and with dignity, though a comfortable hospice with a bucket of crystals in each room would conceivably replace the function of the physician in regards to the transitioning soul also. Keeping what is claimed to be so reportedly fundamental out of the hands of the average layman would be like trying to control the secret of making fire 10,000 years after the first bonfire was built and used to cook Mammoth steaks.

Please. If you are sick, visit a Doctor. A real one.

Caution: Children at Play

These installations of silhouettes on the median fencing of a busy street in San Diego isn’t an April Fool prank but it certainly gave me pause the other night. I was heading up the hill when a descending car coming down turned onto the street. The other car’s headlights back lit the figures just as I passed by them. For a second I thought a group of kids was playing in the center of the street and I imagined that one kid was going to run in front of my car, thereby making me swerve in avoiding hurting one child instead cause me to run over the jaywalking pregnant woman and her toddler.

That these silhouettes are installed in this location makes a bit of sense as there are several schools nearby and there may be the intention to cause drivers to pay more attention to their vehicle operation when they are in the area. I do wonder however if the figures are serving instead to desensitize drivers, particularly ones that frequent the vicinity, to any actual pedestrians who may be walking in the street illegally.