Saturday, January 16, 2016

Who's Better at Social Media?

     Over the past few years, I have kept hearing that ISIS uses social media to attract, recruit, and radicalize young Moslems in the US and Europe. It is a notion that is reported in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, the BBC, and all those British papers that include the words Globe, Mail, or Guardian in them. These bad guys can reach out and influence the thoughts and allegiances of young people crazy things like websites.
     Oh my... what are we to do? How can we ever combat such a dastardly and dastardly evil us of the all these wondrous sites and portals we created?
     Wait. What was that? Hmmm, yes, we created all this infrastructure. Al Gore created the internet based on an idea from, I believe it was, Millard Filmore. Americans created Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube,, Pinterest, Tumblr, and the rest those other icons that populate websites that almost no one know what they are and make us wonder who the heck uses them. We created social media. We spend way too time on our devices tending to things, trying to be engaging, clever, comical, insightful, and sometimes inciteful. It is a world of selfies and foolish observations. It is a world I blog in and about.
     The point is that we invented most of it. We are masters of it. And, we have just sat by and let ISIS beat us at this?  Huh?
     Shame on us. Really. Shame on us for letting them beat us at the game we both created and are masters of? Oh, the shame of it. Oh, the humiliation. We are the masters of internet marketing and we are letting these novices at it beat us at our own game. Where is our counter marketing campaign? Is it unbelievably possible that we simply never thought of it.
   I just googled "social media marketing." The first article that came up was about Chick-Fil-A:
How Chick-Fil-A's Social Media Marketing Translated Into Twitter, Facebook and Instagram Success. This article on the International Business Times website discusses
Forging past 2012 boycotts from an anti-gay controversy, Chick-fil-A honed its social media presence with an engaging voice, original visual content and timely posts, but experts say the Atlanta-based company's grasp of its consumer base is the kernel of its social network mastery. Six days a week, the food chain goes full-throttle on social media, but then, like its restaurants, rests upon the seventh day, going offline Sundays.
     Chick-fil-A does it with simple, but frequent Facebook posts, Instagrams, and tweets like "A couple that eats waffle fries together, stays together" combined with a couple emojis. There is nothing special about their campaign except the
Source: Engagement Labs eValueTM 2015 rankings
of America’s 10 favorite brands for 2015
do it often and effectively.  Their results are impressive. Chick-fil-A was ranked as the "the overall favorite brand of 2015 on social media" beating out the likes of Coca-Cola, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, and Netflix.
     If this can be done for Chicken Sandwiches, why can't a similar campaign, e.g. AntIsis, be run with equal effectiveness.  Of course, there is no way we can let governments be in charge of this.  Heck, our government can't even make the No Call List work.  The US and the European Union would have to fund it, but they just can't run it.  I would hire, Moxie, the social marketing agency Chick-fil-A uses let them at it.  I will give them a couple tweet options gratis while at the same time re-enforcing my complete lack of marketing and advertising skills:
  • Channelling Chick-fil-A:  A couple where neither is a suicide bomber, stays together and lives happier.
  • Dated but still effective:  Take a chill pill.
  • Lennon Classic:  Give Peace a Chance.
  • Subaru Classic:  Coexist
  • I really should stop here:  Have a Chick-fil-Aful and stop feeling awful.
     Clearly, this is not the job for me.  But you get the idea.  I think if done properly we could use one of our strengths to limit the recruiting and radicalization of young people.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Shoes That Wear Themselves Out Just Sitting in the Closet.

Note the crack at the base of the heel but no noticeable
wear on the walking surfaces of the sole.
      The other night I noticed dirt on the tile floor of our laundry room.  When I tried to pick it up it just crumbled in my hand.  So, I got the Dustbuster and vacuumed it up.  As I looked to see if more dirt was about, I noticed that more dirt was being deposited with every few steps I took.  Dang.  I must have picked some mud up while I had gone out to get the mail.  I looked at the bottom of the shoes and realized it wasn't dirt but rather that the heel of the shoe was disintegrating.  It was not dirt but really crumbly rubber.
     I was a little annoyed because, while these shoes were several years old, I did not wear them that often.  There was no reason, or so I thought, that the sole of the shoe should be deteriorating in such a manner.  I googled Ecco, the name of the shoe company, and "shoe sole disintegrating."  There were plenty of consumer complaint sites documenting the exact problem I had experienced.  This was a known issue.
     I called Ecco customer service.  While they did not acknowledge any ongoing problem, they quickly said they would be send out a postage paid envelope that I could use to return the shoes to them.  I was told they would evaluate the issue.  If deemed their fault, they would either send me a new pair of the same shoe or a credit to buy another pair.  That sounded fair.  I figured that even though the shoes were old, I rarely wore them and when I did I wore them on dressy occasions when we had company.  I rarely wore these particular shoes outside.  
     I asked if the shoes could be resoled and that would be fine with me.  The agent said that this was not possible because the sole and heel were made polyurethane which was molded right onto the shoe.
     This was not the first time this happened to me.  The same thing happened last year with a pair of Blundstone boots that I had bought in the early 2000s for snowy days.  The soles of these boots disintegrated in almost the same way.  It was in my office and again, at first, I thought it was dirt.  Those boots had to be thrown out as they couldn't be resoled either. In this particular occasion, I just assumed that the rubber (I did not know they were polyurethane at the time) dried out with age and began to crumble.
     I ran across a website that explained why my initial theory was wrong and why this phenomena actually happens:
The shoes had a moulded polyurethane (PU) sole, which, while being light and comfortable, is prone to a form of deterioration called “hydrolysis”, especially in coastal, humid areas, when not worn. In short, they crumble into a sticky mess.

It seems the act of wearing them puts pressure on the soles and squeezes out the moisture, which would otherwise insidiously break apart the foam-like structure. So it’s possible for a pair of unworn or barely worn shoes to disintegrate.

As I discovered when I Googled the words “PU soles” and “disintegrate”, this is a hot issue, and affects most brands of “comfort” shoes, among them Clarks, Hush Puppies, Green Cross, Scholl, Bass and Ecco.
~ IOL a New Zealand News Site
     Basically, shoes with these kinds soles, which indeed are light and very comfortable, last longer the more you wear them and they wear out faster if you don't.  That sounds oxymoronic.  I will have to remember this if Ecco sends me another pair.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

January 2016: Chidem Inch - The Water Diviner

Ottoman 5th Army Positions April 1915
      I just finished watching the Russell Crowe film, The Water Diviner.  It debuted earlier this year and, typical of many movie promotions, I had no clue what the film was about.  I made a mental note to watch the film at some point simply because I like most Russell Crowe films.  Then I saw some articles in the Armenian press and posts on Facebook slamming the film.  Russell Crowe was called out for starring and directing a film about Gallipoli and ignoring any mention of the Armenians or the Armenian Genocide.   I made a point of not reading the articles until I saw the film. The film was released in December 2014 in Australia.  The European and US releases were in March and April coinciding, not by mere chance I presume, with the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide commemorations.
      If I wasn't Armenian or Greek, I would have probably enjoyed the film more.  The lay reviews on are quite favorable.  One would definitely want to see this film reading those reviews.  Yet, as Sylvia Angelique Alajaji says in her book, Music and the Armenian Diaspora:  "The 1915 Genocide has become the hinge on which all stories pivot."  For Armenians, that is how we approach this movie.  The Armenians weren't mentioned at all.  The Allies made their first landing on April 25, 1915.  Basically, this historic battle lasted the rest of 1915 simultaneously with the first seven months of the Armenian Genocide.  There were Greeks in the film,  But they were portrayed as invaders and their army as evil.  The Greeks were seen shelling an ancient castle in a battle much like the Turks destroyed the Parthenon (for real) by using it for target practice. The film conveniently ended before they had to deal with not talking about what happened in
Native Greek children standing by the bones, in 1919, of
soldiers who died during in Gallipoli in 1915 
    There were many things about the movie that resonated with me.  First off, the story was compelling.  I liked the general plot.  I enjoyed two Turkish melodies that were part of the soundtrack.  I loved hearing an Aussie, or perhaps British officer, saying, "We lost the battle, but won the war."  It was interesting to see how the Australians, Brits, and Turks collaborated after the war to collect the vast number of skeletons and bones on the battle field.  Another Australian or British officer noted that this was the first war they tried to identify those slain and bury them in marked graves.  Previously, they dug large trenches and in which soldiers, horses, and mules were all thrown, covered in lime, and buried en masse.  Hopefully, these were not Hollywood fabrications.  It is hard to tell which parts of such movies are factual and which are from the imagination of screen writers.
     There was a scene at the end that takes place in what they call the "old church" in a village near or around Afyon (as best as I could tell from my watching of the movie).  This would have been a perfect time to provide the origins of the church and the lead Turkish character,  Major Hasan who was a most human and sympathetic character in the film from my perspective, might have given an explanation of what kind of church it was and what happened to the people that once worshipped there.  But, alas, it was just the "old church."
     The casualties at Gallipoli, Çanakkale in Turkish, were staggering.  Almost 57,000 Turkish troops died there.  The allied deaths were about the same number.  Approximately 107,000 Turks and 123,500 Allies were wounded.  It was a significant battle and both sides have rightfully commemorated it over the years, the way Americans, the English, French, and Germans commemorate D-Day.  War is indeed hell whether it was ethnic cleansing as in the Armenian Genocide or an epic brutal battle as in Çanakkale.  This film attempted to address the hellish nature of war through characters on both sides that were human
Captain Sarkis Terossian:  The first
person to sink a British battleship
and humane.  The major problem was with the exclusion.  
      They might have had an Armenian character in the film that served in Gallipoli.  The character might have been based on an Armenian artillery officer, Captain Sarkis Terossian, in the Turkish Army that was decorated and wrote a memoir of the Battle of Gallipoli.
In fact, Captain Sarkis Torossian was personally awarded medals for his courage by Enver Pasha, Turkey’s war minister and the most powerful man in the Ottoman hierarchy.
~ Robert Fisk, in a 5/12/13 Independent article.
     Çanakkale Savaşı (The Battle of Gallipoli) is an important part Turkish history.  Mustafa Kemal was a hero of the battle.  He led the post World War I national movement that resulted in the formation of the Republic of Turkey and the deification of Mustafa Kemal as Kemal Ataturk for founder of the Nation.  Because of this, Çanakkale is not viewed as the last great victory of the Ottoman Empire but rather the first victory that led to the founding of the Republic.  To me, as an Armenian, I see nothing more than a continuum that was first subjugation, second class overtaxed citizenship, Genocide, and, lastly, denial.  Mustafa Kemal was part of that continuum from Ottoman to Republic.  This includes, per the Fisk article, a concerted effort in Turkey claiming that  Sarkis Torosian's memoirs and participation in Çanakkale are pure fabrication... as were the thousands of Arabs and other minorities that fought in the Ottoman Army in that famous battle.
     Crowe is not the first Australian to only focus on Gallipoli and ignore the Armenian Genocide. I suppose the question is whether Australians are remiss by only focusing on this very important battle in the history of their nation? The article quoted from below is by Robert Manne who is "Emeritus Professor and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University and has twice been voted Australia’s leading public intellectual." He claims his country and countrymen are remiss.
And yet, despite the fact that the Armenian Genocide was one of the great crimes of history; despite the fact that it took place on Ottoman soil during the precise months of the Dardanelles campaign; despite the fact that that campaign is regarded as the moment when the Australian nation was born, so far as I can tell, in the vast Gallipoli canon, not one Australian historian has devoted more than a passing page or paragraph to the relationship, or even the mere coincidence, of the two events. Concerning the Armenian Genocide, in the space of two large volumes on Gallipoli, Charles Bean is silent; Les Carlyon gives the issue three or four lines; John Robertson allows half a page. Alan Moorehead, in his mid-'50s classic, is unusual by devoting a full three pages to the Armenian Question.
~ Robert Manne, The Monthly Essays
     Note that these excerpts are from articles, well worth reading, written by non-Armenians.  The Water Diviner got hammered by film critics in much the same way... again by non-Armenians.  Here
are some references and excerpts.

Let me put it this way: If I made a film set in Germany or France or Poland in the 1940s that made no reference to the fate of Europe’s Jewish population in those years – if I appeared unaware that there ever were Jews in Europe, let alone what had become of them – how would that look? What sort of person would you judge me to be, and what sort of point would I seem to be making? Such is the question raised by “The Water Diviner,” a film largely made in Turkey that is being released in the United States on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide – not the approximate anniversary but the precise anniversary, to the day. In a systematic campaign of deportation, starvation and mass murder that began in the spring of 1915, officials of the Ottoman Empire killed between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians, an event that would later be called the first modern genocide and that shifted the course of 20th-century history, not least because it provided a template for the more ambitious schemes of Adolf Hitler. That event is never mentioned in “The Water Diviner,” not obliquely or indirectly or in any other way; you could easily watch the movie and never know that it happened.
~ Andrew O'Heir, Salon
Australian historian Professor Peter Stanley suggests that rather than a deliberate distortion, the problem with the film is most likely that Crowe, like his writers, has "entered a highly contested historical arena … without any idea of what he was getting into. His response was to simply roll over and accept the Turkish version."
Of course, the cynical might suggest that there may well have been commercial reasons for doing so.
The Anzac story presumably has little relevance to Greek or Armenian audience, but a retelling that is more sympathetic to the Turkish view was always likely to fare well in that market.
~ The Sydney Morning Herald
The moral issue at stake is neatly captured in the subtitle of Robertson’s recently published book on the genocide: ‘Who now remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?’ It was Hitler’s comment to his generals on the eve of the invasion of Poland urging them to show no mercy as there would be no retribution. It’s all part of ‘the other side of the Gallipoli story’ that Russell Crowe somehow didn’t get around to even hinting at.
~Anthony McAdam, The Spectator 
Nonetheless, if you strip the movie back to what works, and to what matters, it will, as I suggest, serve its purpose on Anzac Day. It should certainly not have been released yesterday, for that itself marked a harrowing centenary; to Armenians everywhere, April 24th refers to Genocide Remembrance Day, in memory of the many hundreds of thousands—as many as a million and a half, by some estimates—of their compatriots who died under Ottoman rule. Turkey continues vehemently to refute the charge of genocide, but the word is widely adopted, and was even used recently by Pope Francis. Whatever term you choose, why did the distributors of “The Water Diviner” risk insulting an entire community for the sake of one night’s takings at the box office? After all, here is a film that goes to some lengths to retreat from prejudice, to stand back, and to view distant events as an inextricable tangle of grievance and grief.
~Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
     It is worth reading any of these articles.  They all acknowledge the raw nerve that the memories of both Gallipoli and the Armenian Genocide touch to this day.  The Turks looked to have an international commemoration of Gallipoli/Çanakkale on the same day the Armenians were commemorating the start of the Genocide:  April 24.  They figured they would overshadow a part of their history they want the world to forget by making a big fanfare over an event in their history that they embrace.  World leaders were to attend the Gallipoli commemoration.  The event never happened.  World leaders bowed out when, apparently, they realized the ulterior motive of Ankara.  Sadly, Russell Crowe's movie was already produced.  I do not believe they did not have to release the film on April 24th in the US.  Either Crowe was complicit with or duped by his Turkish influencers.  I am going to believe the latter.  
     I had recently read Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul by Charles King. This book covers the history of Istanbul from the end of World War I until the mid 1950s. Professor King's book addresses the Armenian, Greek, Jewish, Russian, and other minority groups very well. While he could not possibly please all people who might read the book, I believe his coverage to be well balanced. The same cannot be said about The Water Diviner.

All photos from Wikipedia.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

July 2015: Potpourri

     In my Desire to Catch-Up: I began writing this musing e-letter in July of 2015. It is now January 3rd and I am just finishing it. There is a lot of negative things I can say about this lack of discipline, effort, etc. etc. But what is the point? I will celebrate instead, in a glass half full way, that I did finish and distribute it.
      Since I am writing this on January 3, 2016 allow me to acknowledge two special birthdays. My sister Nancy is celebrating a milestone birthday that ends in a zero. My grandson, Vaughn Alexan, is celebrating his first. Happy birthday to Nancy and Vaughn!
      Polygamy Cometh? In June, US Supreme Court ruled that Gay Marriage was a constitutional right. Mostly supporters were quite happy. Facebook was full of joy and well wishes. There was an app that many folks used to add a rainbow tint to their cover photos. Amid all of this were also posts where folks felt their religious views trampled on.
      I wrote about this in December of 2010. I pretty much stand where I was then. I am more amazed by what was once taboo is now the norm and what was once the accepted bias is now taboo. This amazes me. I am not so sure why this amazes me and not others. Maybe I am more an observer.
     I do observe that people are happy that they can wed, that they have legal status, and shared benefits. This is good and a long time in coming. Yet, I also sympathize with good decent people who feel that a leg has been kicked out from their belief structure.
     I also observe religions having to come to grips with this. The Wall Street Journal had an Op Ed on June 30th said that this, Obergefell v. Hodges, decision will result in more litigation than even Roe v. Wade. There is a lot of hyperbole in the article but I think the author has a point.
     The title of the December 2010 article was Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – Polygamy. Then as well as now, I am kind of wondering what the social implications of this monumental ruling will have. Then as now, I am suggesting that Polygamy is next in line to, first, become acceptable and then to be the law of the land. I find this logical extension amusing. Amusing? How so?
     Polygamy amuses me because of there is a delicious dichotomy with Islam and Mormonism. Both these religions, and I am spitballing here, probably are against same sex marriage but might view polygamy favorably. How can one not be amused by this? 
     By logical extension, polygamy should be a legal no brainer. We are talking about consenting adults. Marriage used to be between a man and woman. Now, that has been opened to men marrying men and women marrying women. One thing that did not change is that marriage is one-to-one. It was and is between two people.
     You are not allowed to marry yourself which would actually be an intriguing topic for a future blog. You are also not allowed to marry two men and three women. Certainly, there is the well-known fact or belief that people have to put in a whole lot of effort to make work. If this is true about one-to-one marriages, imagine how hard it would be to make a polygamous committee function with any degree of civility.
     The reason polygamy will not gain the legal status of marriage as defined as today. One of the compelling features of marriage is the sharing of benefits. Gay couples and nuclear families can now cover their loved ones just as heterosexual marriages and families have always done.
     Corporations were ahead of the curve on this one. They had established the status of partner to cover gay marriages years before the first legal gay marriage. It made sense for both creating a harmonious workforce but also to avoid the kinds of litigations that were obviously coming. 
     When it comes to polygamy, it is doubtful that the corporate world would want to adopt this. The reason is quite simple: the cost factor. People covered could grow geometrically in the multi-spouse world. People would marry their friends with no sexual benefits just to get them real benefits. Prenuptials could cover the estate planning issues. Because of this, I do not anticipate polygamy being legalized very soon. 
     Hold on, Just a Second: On June 30, the last minute of the day was 61 seconds long. The extra second, referred to as a leap second, was added to keep the atomic clocks in sync with the earth’s rotation which apparently has irregularities.
     Leap seconds are not scheduled on a regular basis as are Leap Years. This is all managed by the International Earth Rotation System and Reference Systems Service (IERS) an international organization established in 1987 and headquartered in Germany. We did not really need Leap Seconds before we established official time as set by atomic clocks. The variation of atomic clocks is apparently less than the variation of the earth’s rotation. So, every once in a while a second must be added or subtracted from the atomic clock so it stays in sync with the earth.
     When I was a kid, this would have bothered me. Leap year bothered me. I expected, wanted, perhaps even demanded that the physical world operate in a fixed and predictable manner. Variation and entropy made no sense to me. I simply did not understand how or why God did not design things in a more orderly fashion.
     Over the years, I have clearly gotten over this. Part of the passage from adolescence into adulthood is to except certain thing as just the way they are. This, of course, included cosmic architecture and design. The universe operates as it does. The measurement and tracking of time is a human invention. Whatever underlying postulates guide our logic and science are not necessarily in sync with the aforementioned cosmic architecture and design. Variation is part of the cosmic architecture and design. 
     All this is so much blah blah where astronomy and theology overlap. In the case of the extra second on June 30th, it was unnoticeable. If it weren’t in the news, I would have been blissfully unaware. 
     ISIS Revisited: I just learned that ISIS executed an Armenian, Hovsep Tomasyan, in Kobane on June 24th. Per
Four ISIS members wearing Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) uniforms shot the 45-year-old father on the morning of June 24, according to Aram [Hovsep’s 14 year old son]. “My father was bleeding from his heart when he fell on the ground. Despite this he still raised his hand and said, ‘Son, run, they are ISIS.’ I ran. If I hadn’t run, I would have been shot too…”
     In this year when we are commemorating the Armenian Genocide, we are watching the last Christians being driven out of Iraq and Syria because of the civil wars. It seems ISIS has earned at the lion share of the blame for their brutal treatment of Christians and Moslems that are not like them. It was inevitable that Armenians living in Iraq or Syria would become casualties. I am sure Tomasyan is not the first. I am simply sickened by all of this and especially this second Genocide of Christians by ISIS. 
     The world really is doing nothing. The US is doing nothing. As I wrote a year ago, ISIS is partly our creation. But, after prolonged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that were stalemates if not outright defeats, we do not have the resolve to go back in. There is some moral outrage. We are providing some air support and military advisors in Iraq. But, there is nothing like Mideast Relief. 
     There were two points of view that resonated with me when I read them. First, we are underestimating ISIS the same way the world underestimated the Bolsheviks when they overthrew Russia. The underestimation is not in the brutality against innocents but rather their military resolve and evolving capability. 
     The meager response of whatever coalition or alliance we think we are in are leaving the fighting to the Kurds and whatever Iraqi Army there is. It is unclear what the result of all this will be in Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, and perhaps even Turkey. I am hoping that ISIS is not part of it.
     Salt Craze: Let’s move from the serious to the truly mundane.
     I never gave salt much thought. It came in a blue cardboard cylinder from the Chicago base
Morton company that mined it from the huge salt mines underneath Chicago. When I was younger, I thought our table sale came from the Detroit Salt Mines. But no, the salt mined from under Detroit is used for rock salt and de-icing products.
     In teaching microeconomics, I use table salt as an example when we cover price elasticity of demand which is the sensitivity of demand to changes in price of an item. My point is that table salt, the Morton blue cylinder, is bought so infrequently that no one ever remembers the price last paid for the product. If you need salt, you buy it and it has almost nothing to do with the price.
     Well… that was the case.
     Now, the table and cooking salt market has kind of expanded into different and more expensive variants. There is Kosher Salt and sea salts of a dizzying variety. A quick internet search yields sea salts from France, Italy, Peru, and the Himalayas. Sea salts are also infused with almost any other spice or flavoring one can think of from roasted garlic to porcini from vanilla bean to matcha (green tea). Samplers of these gourmet salts can be $130 for 24 small 5 oz bottles. This comes to $.82 per oz. The 26 oz cylinder of Morton sells for $2.43 or $.093 per oz. These new salts are getting a 9-fold price premium. It seems crazy to me.
     There are two websites that provided most of the information in this article. Between the both of them, you would get all you need to know about this sea salt craze.
  1. Sea Salt - Tech Insider
  2. Authority Nutrition - Different Types of Salt. This is the source of the table at the end of this letter.
     What is it about sea salt versus regular old table salt. Table salt is processed a bit more. They have anti-clumping agents in them thus allowing for the Morton tag line of “When it rains, it pours.” Generic table salt is also iodized. Goiters caused by iodine deficiency was a bigger problem in the past. In the early 1900s, it was decided to iodize salt and solve this problem. Most sea salts are not iodized nor do they contain the anti-clumping agents. Sea salts are dried and are thus naturally flakier and coarser than the highly ground table salts which until recently were the only standard.
Kosher salt is almost exactly the same as table salt except for a few key differences. While they are both mined from seabeds and salt deposits, kosher salt's individual grains are coarse, asymmetric, and slightly larger than table salts'. That's because it's left to dry naturally after it's mined. It also generally doesn't have any anti-clumping agents or iodine additives, making it the purer cousin of table salt. 
And despite its confusing name, kosher salt is not actually kosher. Rather, it's used in the koshering process. To remove "impurities" from meat, people slather the rough salt onto the outside of a cut to pull blood from surface tissues. The big grains absorb a lot of blood and can be easily washed away after the process without leaving the meat too salty.
~ Tech Insider
      People like sea salt because they are something new, more expensive and hence differentiating, and there is a perception that they are more natural or healthy. OK… according to the two weblinks, they are not any more healthy than regular old table salt. Salt is essential to our diets. Yet, too much salt is unhealthy no matter if it is Morton, Maldon, Indian Black Sea Salt, Celtic Salt, Kosher Salt, or Chicago Street Salt. Salt is one of the top three taste components used in foods. The other two are sugar and fat. In moderation they are good, in excess all three are bad. I never reach for the salt shaker though it is always on the table. Most food is salty enough, especially if it is processed and packaged (read the labels if you doubt me). This is why I am only writing about these exotic sea salts instead of being a consumer of them.
      What makes Pink Himalyan Sea Salt pink and desired by so many gourmets? Rust. Iron Oxide. Yum. It is the trace minerals, or impurities if you prefer, that give the variety of sea salts their distinction. Come to think of it, rust is coarse and flakey too.
      Lastly, this sea salt thing has spread to confections. In our never ceasing efforts to create unhealthy but delicious foods, we now have Salted Caramel. Sweet and salty like sweet and sour seems oxymoronic. Yet, it is everywhere. I do believe regular old caramel candies can still be purchased but for the most part all I see are Salted Caramel this and that everywhere I go.