Saturday, August 25, 2007

Auquafina and the Meaning of "Pure"

Aquafina has been outed -- it is just city water in a plastic bottle. But we are assured it is pure. Or are we? I have just come downstairs from a Boston - Chicago baseball game where I have seen a TV ad that said its water was filtered, filtered again, purified, then filtered and filtered again and filtered and then purified and then filtered and maybe filtered again. The word "pure" means to me "free of all impurities -- period." And "purified" being a causative verb in this usage would have to mean (to me) "cause to come to be free of all impurities." But if Aquafina isn't lying through its teeth, it is being quite redundant. One purification should have been enough.

And what is their method of "purification?" The one I have in my house that Kinetico installed and services (now 3 times a year given my increased use of water making soda pop for my wife and me that I know the ingredients of), namely a reverse osmosis system and "other filtering methods."

Now wait a damn minute. If reverse osmosis is another filtering method, then they are doing no purifying at all. They are simply engaging in multiple filterings of their water. My water filtering company does not claim to give me pure water. It can't because there is no filtering method alive that will get rid of bacteria (correct me if this is wrong). Sadly, it is bacteria that can make water dangerously impure. Any filtering method that got out all the bacteria wouldn't be able to let water molecules through if my impoverished knowledge of biology and chemistry is correct.

Years ago, before most of you were born, I worked at an Air Force lab where I created deionized water. That was what we used in the lab. Fortunately we were doing inorganic chemistry because our friendly neighborly encyclopedia tells us that deionized water cannot rid water of some organic. Even distilled water is not guaranteed pure. But I am pretty sure that bourbon and scotch are pretty safe. You might drink that if you are desperate not to be poisoned by your liquid. It could be bad for your liver. And lead you to do stupid things.

Any time someone says they do something twice, they may not do that thing once. I'm in a hurry. I have to get back to my game.

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Blogger Hagit said...

I just learned something about water this week, too. A friend pointed out that the water I have been drinking for the last two years is labeled "drinking water - mineral-rich" (in Hebrew), as opposed to "real" mineral water which is labeled, "Natural Mineral Water", or "Spring Water". So yes, who knows what I've been drinking. Thank god it's "drinking water", but it amazes me that I hadn't noticed this or even thought bottled water could be something other than mineral water.
(Your blog only allows Blogger users to post. Well, my relevant blog link is hagitrozanes.wordpress.com - and not my google account one).

6:31 PM

Blogger Kathy said...

I just noticed the new Aquafina commercial today. Gee, can they say "filtered" one more time. I knew right away the marketing folks are responding to the recent admission that they have been filtering tap water all along, which is one of the reasons I just bought a Brita pitcher and now filter my own. Glad to be off bottled water, but I do wonder a little whether my filter is filtering enough out.


7:41 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

hagit, you got through. I gather you figured out that you could just create a Google account and use that identity. People in commerce and advertising will dazzle you with their verbal distinctions.

Kathy, when our reverse osmosis goes out, we use Brita too. When I was in Brighton, England, they used it for their tea water since the water was so chalky. I thought it was an English product and was shocked to see it in my stores.

8:07 PM

Blogger Kathy said...

I can't believe I've been without my Brita for so long. I've been buying bottled water forever and lugging it around (store to car, car to house, house to work). What was wrong with me? Geesh. The thing that finally got my husband to stop buying it was that he heard a news report about Aquafina being filtered tap. He finally realized we could do the same thing, only a heck of a lot cheaper.

Love your blog. I don't remember how I got here, though. Sorry!

8:40 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

I'm glad you do, Kathy. You might also want to look at a home reverse osmosis type of filtering device. They are expensive and aren't cheap to service. I wonder if there might not be DIY units that would work as well.

8:38 AM

Blogger Ripple said...

I've worked in the filtration industry for a little while. I know reverse osmosis is just a special way of running the water through the filters, but basically what you need is a Giardia/Cryptosporidium rated filter (if I remember right, that's about 0.2 microns). If you want good taste, you have to run your water through a carbon/mineral filter. That's basically all there is to it. The only way to be garanteed that no bacteria still exists in the water would be to boil it for a certain amount of time.

2:11 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Yes, Paul. Getting pure water ain't easy. But we humans have been drinking impure water all our lives as a people and have so far survived. But the end of our days is near. We will destroy our planet or each other directly, I suspect. I will already be dead.

7:42 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

I'm trying to be an optimist & have some faith in the human race & that comment was really depressing.

Do you really see that as mankind's only future?

If you do, you might as well be a Christian. If you are one then that's where that kind of thinking comes from.

10:02 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

I am an atheist with a knowledge of the history of the planet (thanks to the Discovery Channel). There are various ways human life might end. We might cause a total ice age. There has been on non-human made ice age that created an ice and snow cover over the entire planet. Or, a meteorite shower could turn the surface into a cauldron, as has happened with bacterial and perhaps other life surviving between the magma below and the cauldron above. Or, Yellowstone could erupt sending up a cloud of debris that might cover up a good part of the earth, killing off all of our sources of food. Some of us might survive. The universe is not a friendly place.

10:11 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

I believe all that is possible (I watch discovery channel too) IMO there is no sense in even thinking about it negatively, though.

The trick is to embrace existentialism.

11:02 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

The best part about existentialism is you get to kick out all those meddling gods.

11:20 AM

Blogger Kathy said...

The bacteria in my water isn't going to kill me. It'll be my poor eating habits and the fact that I despise exercise (at least this month).

As far as the planet goes, I'm trying to do my little part, assuming it all helps. I actually think I've done one of the best things I could possibly do to save the planet. My husband, too. We never had kids :)

12:44 PM

Blogger Ripple said...

These comment took an interesting turn.

I figure the best thing I can do is to not have children, right?

2:14 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

paul, I can do that. Hell, I do do that. I was very fond of Sartre and the other existentialists back in my philosophy days. Ultimately, it is the only philosophy that makes sense. Well, maybe "Plan for the future and live in the moment." One doesn't want to end up 65 and broke.

2:27 PM

Blogger Kathy said...

Paul -- I work with a self-described tree hugger and we often have friendly debates about what we can all do to help the environment.

From a purely numbers standpoint, I'm doing more for the betterment of the environment by not replacing myself in the system, than anything else I do to minimize waste. When my husband and I are gone, we will have removed two resource-consumers from the equation. So I can do all I want to recycle, use less fuel and waste less energy now, but the biggest thing I can do to minimize waste in the future is not to add more humans to the population.

I have other reasons for being childless by choice, but when someone asks me what I'm doing to help the planet, my stock response is "I'm not replacing myself."

Great discussion here!


6:54 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Thank you, Kathy. I am thinking of what "I am not replacing myself" means. I, as boss, quit but before hand decide not to replace myself leaving the company headless. I hope you don't replace your husband. I guess he isn't replacing himself either.

Another way to look at it is that you are smart and are not contributing to the gene pool and may thereby cause greater damage than the good you are creating by your collectively not introducing a new human. New humans are, by the way, quite fun. So, the dummies are multiply contributing to the gene pool but you are not. Isn't that a huge net loss.

7:19 PM

Blogger Kathy said...

I expect my husband won't replace himself either :) That is, unless I go first, and he decides to remarry, lose his mind, and have kids after all.

I appreciate your comment about what happens when you let idiots reproduce. This is exactly what my friends tell me. They say I'm doing the world a disservice by not putting people like me back into the world. What a fine compliment!

A huge net loss? Probably, but like most, I'm thinking "in the now" and that's what works for me.

ps. I stumbled on your blog when I searched for linguistics blogs. I'm not sure that my own blog is quite about linguistics, though I'm currently describing it as such (well, part of it is). My point is that I'm looking for a way to describe language issues, proper use of grammar, and the importance of good writing in business and academia. I'm not sure linguistics is the right word to describe that, but it's the closest I can get right now. Maybe a general "communications" would be more appropriate.

I work at a university, and the kids graduating from here are being sent out in the world knowing more how to text and IM people in shorthand than knowing how to construct a proper business letter, proposal, etc. It's become a huge issue the last couple of years, and it's important for me to spread the word about the value of good writing. Fortune 100 companies take our grads almost sight unseen, but the have given us feedback about the poor writing skills and we are tasked with changing that in short order.

Sorry for the rambling. I guess I got off topic. Just wanted to say how I made it to your blog and that I'm glad I found it!

8:01 PM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

Smart people being smart by NOT reproducing more smart people.

Dumb people being dumb, breeding like rabbits.

Not much of a solution for the environment.

maybe if smart people just had 1 kid & raised them to be responsible human beings that cared about the environment & the rest of the human race?

11:20 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

That's a plan, concerned, but it leaves you hopelessly outnumbered, at 2 or 3 to 1.

Almost no one will help his or her fellow citizens so long as it costs them money.It is not an accident that the socialist countries have almost all died out. Sadly we seem genetically to be something pretty awful, namely libertarians.

11:24 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

Ha ha! but I'm not ready to give up on the human race just yet.

Sadly we seem genetically to be something pretty awful, namely libertarians. Libertarianism is not bad.

My mother is a fundimentalist Christian who has spent her life putting down the human race as hopelessly flawed. I decided I wouldn't be like that.

I decided, instead of seeing the human race as inherently bad, I'd consider us as basically well meaning. I've always believed we are capable of evolving into a higher consciousness, anyway.

11:01 PM

Blogger Ripple said...

I think I can invent a soul filter that can purify and cleanse a soul, assuming we even have a soul. I'm just not sure if a carbon element will make it taste better or not.

1:15 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Hmm, werewolves eat people. vampires drink our blook. What eats,drinks, or inhales our souls?

Concerned, the evidence as to the unworthiness of the human race to inhabit the planet is proved throughout the world as we visit unspeakable horrors on each other. Only with serious amounts of education can we improve them. But its like mowing the grass. The job is never really done since the next generation has to be given serious amounts of education. Humans are minutely improvable over time. That I will give you. Virulent racism has died out in the US but don't for a minute think racism is gone. Its just repressed.

7:20 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

Well you paint a bleak picture. There certainly are some problems with how human beings relate to each other. But, so much of that depends on how we see ourselves. Take the belief in a soul for instance. Until recently, well after I started deconstructing & examining everything in my mind, I took my world view & how I perceived myself as a person with a soul (in the western philosophy sense) as a given. Imagine my surprise when studying world philosophy that my western view has not been the only world view & still isn't in some places. Even our linear concept of time is not a given, I found out.
My point is that nothing is written in stone when it comes to human beings. Even regarding racism & other evils, if we have potential for much bad then we also have the potential for much good. You & I know racism is wrong thinking, so potentially so does everyone else.

You know how I feel about the destructive powers of religion. I'm pretty sure that it (religion) & the people that adhere to it are not just going to be raptured away. But, I think it can be put into the proper perspective. "Disarmed" in a sense. Don't you think that all the focus on religion & it's fallacies now is our collective way of doing this?

I agree with you that education is the key, I don't know if we mean the same thing though. This is where existentialism comes in for me, when I started reading Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre & the other existentialists, I got real excited because i could see where the key to realizing our humanity resides in each of us. It has to do with seeing & accepting our individual selves. It's self education, & it's understanding humanness(?) on the level of foundational philosophy, sans religion.

2:30 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Sadly, concerned, you are too rare.

Humans have hated others different from them from the beginning of time. There is survival value in that. We will never give it up. Unless we are taught proper valuesn -- yours, for instance.

2:36 PM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

I give in. You are hopelessly cynical.

3:56 PM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

I'm taking that last comment back, OK?
I can't admit defeat(or allow anyone else to) because, so far as I know, we haven't discovered anything in this universe for which we could ultimately say there is no reason or purpose, because WE are not done yet. Only when human beings reach the end of the road & we know it is the end of the road can we really give in. Even if we come to the end individually, collectively we continue.

8:29 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

We have to keep struggling because we are here and might as well make the best of it. That is true.

7:34 AM

Blogger Stephan Clark said...

I was reading one of these bottles just today and it said triumphantly...bottled at the source!
I suppose that could mean anything from a mountain spring to the local sewer, or even (more likely in my opinion) the kitchen sink

3:42 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Ah, what would we do without ad men who try to confuse us. That is, by the way, an great example of something that seems true but couldn't be further from the truth. I suspect that the source would be a lake, but that would probably be fed from something else. They may not know what the source is. Right now on AMC, we have a nice TV show called Mad Men about ad men in the 50's. Like so many other cases, the best TV is on the cable channeles, HBO, Showtime, AMC, FX, TNT, etc.

7:16 AM


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