zingmagazine10 autumn 1999







about zing


8 poets making it new
generation z
lutwidge finch
the back of beyond

On Sears hair dryer: Warning: Do not use while sleeping.
On a bag of Fritos: You could be a winner!  No purchase necessary.  Details inside.
On a bar of Dial soap: Directions:  Use like regular soap.
On some Swann frozen dinners: Serving suggestion: Defrost.
On a hotel-provided shower cap in a box: Fits one head.
On Tesco's Tiramisu desert: Do not turn upside down. (Printed on the bottom of the box.)
On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding: Warning: Product will be hot after heating.
On packaging for a Rowenta Iron: Warning: Do not iron clothes on body.
On Boot's Children's Cough Medicine: Warning: Do not drive car or operate machinery.
On Nytol (a sleep aid): Warning: May cause drowsiness.
On a Korean kitchen knife: Warning: Keep out of children.
On a string of Chinese-made Christmas lights: Warning: For indoor or outdoor use only.
On a Japanese food processor: Warning: Not to be used for the other use.
On Sainsbury's Peanuts: Warning: contains nuts.
On an American Airlines packet of nuts: Instructions: open packet, eat nuts.
On a Swedish chainsaw: Warning: Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.
On a child's inflatable pool toy: Warning: Not For Use As A Flotation Device
On a prescription of sleeping pills: Warning: May cause drowsiness.
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On an Aim-n-Flame fireplace lighter: Warning: Do not use near fire, flame or sparks.
On a hand-held massager: Warning: Do not use while sleeping or unconscious.
On a laser printer toner cartridge: Warning: Do not eat toner.
On a spray can of underarm deodorant: Caution: Do not spray in eyes.
On a ladder: Warning: Do not use if intoxicated.
On a cardboard sunshield for an automobile: Warning: Do not drive with sunshield in place.
On a hair dryer: Caution: Never use hair dryer while sleeping.
On instructions for a baby stroller: Remove child before folding. 

The Warning Label Book, by Joey Green, Tony Dierckins and Tim Nyberg, St. Martin's Press, 1999. (http://www.octane.com/warning/index.html)
"On toys. On hair dryers. On compact discs. On take-out coffee cups.  Almost everything for sale today comes with a warning. Why? Now, most people have enough common sense not to take a bath with an electric blender, but thanks to a few morons out there who sued big companies and won huge settlements, products now come with warnings that treat customers like a bunch of slack-jawed yokels."

Let's clear the air right now about a key point: We don't mean to tar all liability suits with the brush of stupidity; obviously there are justified cases when b made products bring harm to the user, and the manufacturer should be brought to task.  We are speaking here, however, of the situations that demonstrate a person's almost willful disregard of common sense.

!TONERTE.GIF (11426 bytes)Hmmm...maybe it DID say that on the box... 

Two groups, in particular, bear mentioning here:

o The Darwin Awards (http://www.darwinawards.com/) - This intriguing organization maintains an archive of authenticated cases where human beings, through the self-selection of stupidity, ignorance, or both, have taken themselves out of the gene pool either through death or the removal of their ability to procreate.  What is fascinating about so many of the accounts listed is that clearly, these people would not have been deterred by a mere warning label.
o The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement  (http://www.vhemt.org/), an organization truly organized around the epithet, "Less is More."  (When there's less of us, there'll be more for those who are left). 

"A Call for More Scientific Truth in Product Warning Labels," by Susan Hewitt and Edward Subitzky,
from the Journal of Irreproducible Results, Vol. 36, No. 1. (http://www.4cities.com/cgi-perl/rfr.cgi?l=http://www..jir.com/index.htm)
o WARNING: This product warps space and time in its vicinity.
o WARNING: This product attracts every other piece of matter in the universe, including the products of other manufacturers, with a force proportional to the product of the masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them.
o CAUTION: The mass of this product contains the energy equivalent of 85 million tons of TNT per net ounce of weight.
o HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE: This product contains minute electrically charged particles moving at velocities in excess of five hundred million miles per hour.
o CONSUMER NOTICE: Because of the "uncertainty principle," it is impossible for the consumer to find out at the same time both precisely where this product is and how fast it is moving.
o ADVISORY: There is an extremely small but nonzero chance that, through a process known as "tunneling," this product may spontaneously disappear from its present location and reappear at any random place in the universe, including your neighbor's domicile. The manufacturer will not be responsible for any damages or inconveniences that may result.
o READ THIS BEFORE OPENING PACKAGE: According to certain suggested versions of the Grand Unified Theory, the primary particles constituting this product may decay to nothingness within the next four hundred million years.
o THIS IS A 100% MATTER PRODUCT: In the unlikely event that this merchandise should contact antimatter in any form, a catastrophic explosion will result.
o PUBLIC NOTICE AS REQUIRED BY LAW: Any use of this product, in any manner whatsoever, will increase the amount of disorder in the universe. Although no liability is implied herein, the consumer is warned that this process will ultimately lead to the heat death of the universe.
o NOTE: The most fundamental particles in this product are held together by a "gluing" force about which little is currently known and whose adhesive power can therefore not be permanently guaranteed.
o ATTENTION: Despite any other listing of product contents found hereon, the consumer is advised that, in actuality, this product consists of 99.9999999999% empty space.
o NEW GRAND UNIFIED THEORY DISCLAIMER: The manufacturer may technically be entitled to claim that this product is ten-dimensional. However, the consumer is reminded that this confers no legal rights above and beyond those applicable to three-dimensional objects, since the seven new dimensions are "rolled up" into such a small "area" that they cannot be detected.
o PLEASE NOTE: Some quantum physics theories suggest that when the consumer is not directly observing this product, it may cease to exist or will exist only in a vague and undetermined state.
o COMPONENT EQUIVALENCY NOTICE: The subatomic particles (electrons, protons, etc.) comprising this product are exactly the same in every measurable respect as those used in the products of other manufacturers, and no claim to the contrary may legitimately be expressed or implied.
o HEALTH WARNING: Care should be taken when lifting this product, since its mass, and thus its weight, is dependent on its velocity relative to the user.
o IMPORTANT NOTICE TO PURCHASERS: The entire physical universe, including this product, may one day collapse back into an infinitesimally small space. Should another universe subsequently re-emerge, the existence of this product in that universe cannot be guaranteed.