Company That Makes Wristbands With Holograms Forced To Admit That Their Scientific Claims Are Bunk

from the truth-in-advertising dept

If you've seen those hologram-adorned wristbands advertised that are supposed to give you "balance" or some other such nonsense, you probably were smart enough to know that they were the modern equivalent of snake oil. However, for the gullible folks who believed in the claims of the manufacturer, Australian officials have forced the company to admit publicly that there's no scientific basis for their claims about the properties of the wristbands, and that the company "engaged in misleading conduct." What amazes me is that anyone believes the claims in the first place. The idea that a bracelet with a hologram improves your balance, enhances muscle response and increases stamina and flexibility just seems so obviously ridiculous. Even if you believed it might work via a sort of placebo effect, you'd have been better off believing in the magic powers of a basic rubberband and wearing that on your wrist. Nice to see regulators (in Australia, at least) forcing the company to admit that its product claims were based on nothing but a desire to sell cheap bracelets at a tremendous markup.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:30am

    Don't you just know...

    From their statement: "If you feel you have been misled by our promotions, we wish to unreservedly apologise[sic] and offer a full refund."
    There will still be people who swear that these things actually work and will continue to wear them and defend them. I'm waiting to overhear a conversation around my office on how one of these snake-bands change their life!!!

    Damn you P T Barnum.

     

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  2.  
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    John Doe, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:30am

    Sounds like the copper bracelets everyone use to wear

    Remember the fad of the copper bracelet? I never understood how that was supposed to work since they were coated so they wouldn't turn your wrist green. Could have been any metal at that point so why would copper have any benefit? But people are always looking for the fountain of youth in a bottle rather than admit diet and exercise are the only way to being fit and healthy.

     

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  3.  
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    Erno, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:36am

    Well what do you expect...

    ...those stupid bloody Australians will believe anything :-P

     

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  4.  
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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:48am

    Nice work

    Next on the docket: ruin Santa Claus for children everywhere.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:59am

    Re: Don't you just know...

    The placebo effect is a real thing.

    If the person believes it, they may actually be healthier. My father in law has some magnet belt he wears. He's in constant back pain without it.

    I know it doesn't work, but I don't want to argue with him. It actually improves his quality of life.

    When you are desperate for help, and something seems to work, you know how you feel. Just because it's completely in your head doesn't make the experience less real.

     

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  6.  
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    I.M. Elff, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Santa?!

    Santa... isn't.... real?!

     

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  7.  
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    Miles (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:03am

    I can't resist!

    "What amazes me is that anyone believes the claims in the first place."
    I'm amazed you're amazed given the number of years TechDirt's been dishing out the dirt.

    "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."-Albert Einstein

    I know people claim he's a genius because of his knowledge in Physics, but I tend to think it's because of this infamous quote.

     

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  8.  
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    Black Patriot (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:12am

    Re: Well what do you expect...

    Hey... we don't believe everything...

     

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  9.  
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    NullOp, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:20am

    Scam?

    You mean there's someone out there that didn't know this was a scam?

     

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  10.  
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    Snake Oil Salesman, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    Snake Oil

    Sorry to correct you mike, long time lurker but your comparison with snake oil is incorrect.

    In Actuality Snake oil has been proven to have pain relieving properties when used with its original intent, to be rubbed onto skin at the point of joint pain.

    Early western Pharma companies trying to sell patented medicines led a campaign to discredit snake oil, so that people would purchase their much more expensive medicines.

    Wikipedia has more information.

    Therefore if they were the equivalent of modern day snake oil they actually do what they say, its just Pharma companies are discrediting them. This I doubt.

     

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  11.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    Re: Snake Oil

    Thanks for bringing this up - I forget where it was that I first learned it, but it's a fun fact. It was the days of ridiculous (and dangerous) tonics cooked up by western hawkers in their bathtubs, full of alcohol and cocaine and iffy extracts, when the Chinese snake oil hit the market. Though no miracle cure, it does have positive effects and its chock full of stuff that's good for you. The derogatory term "snake oil salesman" is, as you say, the result of a widespread campaign on behalf of the true hucksters.

    Nonetheless, today the term "snake oil" has become (incorrectly or otherwise) synonymous with a sham cure.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:41am

    The funniest part I took from this post is that TD over estimates the intelligence of the general public. It is easy when you life surrounded by well off people, university graduates, and high flying business people to forget that the average slob (aka, the consumer) isn't exactly as sharp as the top 10% you typically deal with.

    It is why spam mail still generates reasonable rates of return on investment, and why these guys can sell millions of these things. There are more than enough people out there, functional in society, who are suckers for this sort of thing.

    Perhaps you need to spend some time in the real world, outside of the small circle of friends, and get some real world perspective. No, that doesn't mean taking a trip to Europe and staying in a 5 star hotel and speaking at a new music conference.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Well what do you expect...

    At least not all at once.

     

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  14.  
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    vastrightwing, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:55am

    .. but have you tried this?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:56am

    Re:

    Shucks, we don't need no big shot a-comin' out here and talkin' wit us. We'd all jes make 'em squeal like a pig.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:59am

    Re:

    But.. But.. my favorite sports stars all wear them and talk about how great they are. I put it on and I turn into Micheal Jordan.

    Its that same stupidity that causes people to buy things like insider badges and crystal balls. Didn't you know that buying an insider badge makes you a more insightful techdirt reader? Easy way to buy your way to credibility, slap on the insider badge an you are an instant genius.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:59am

    Re:

    I don't see how that changes anything. A lot of ppl not very well off are very street smart and smell schemes like this a mile off.

     

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  18.  
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    average joe, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:06am

    Re:

    I love how you imply that university graduates are all so intelligent. I work in research and develepoment and most of our university graduates have no common sense or intelligence, beyond thier degrees.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    Doctors con patients, IT guys always con their bosses, everyone is a slob dude, you, me and the rest of the world.

    We are just not capable of knowing everything from every field.

     

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  20.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re:

    "But.. But.. my favorite sports stars all wear them and talk about how great they are. I put it on and I turn into Micheal Jordan."

    Does that mean you suddenly start doing Hanes commercials while sporting a wierd Hitler mustache (by cracky)? Because that probably isn't the best idea....

     

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  21.  
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    felixthecat, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Placebo works, indeed. Even when the patient knows...

    So just say it. It's the placebo effect!

    Who will be honest next? C'mon Homeopathy! Get out of the closet!

     

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  22.  
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    Greevar (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    Re: .. but have you tried this?

    It's funny that there are 5 star reviews of the product. It just shows that people can be made to believe anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re:

    Its that same stupidity that causes people to buy things like insider badges and crystal balls.

    Wait, you mean my insider badge isn't curing my sciatica? Mike Masnick the charlatan snake-oil peddler lied to me about its miraculous healing qualities! I specifically remember when he launched the RtB offerings, it said right there: "$5 - Insider Badge - cures all diseases and makes you smarter". I took that at face value, and boy do I have egg on my face now! Thanks for enlightening us AC: you've done the community a huge favour and exposed our insider badges as the sham that they are, no better than faith healing, homeopathy or Flowbees.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:21am

    Weird that this news comes out at the same time I've been seeing TV ads for a similar product for the first time here in the US.

    I can't recall if it's the same thing...seen the ad several times and can't remember its name. Possibly because it's so ridiculous.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:21am

    This doesn't look like a US judgement. When will iRenew be run out of town?

     

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  26.  
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    interval (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:33am

    Woah, huge suprise for everyone, I'm sure

    Any product pitch that employs an odd "balancing" demonstration should be scrutinized. I don't know what was going on in other parts of the world where these bracelets were pitched but here in the states a 30 second spot featured a huckster demonstrating some kind of corrective balancing that could be gotten by wearing the wrist bands. I guess there was a crying need for the hundreds of thousands of people across the world who were losing their balance (?)

    I have no medical knowledge whatsoever (I'm in IT) but even I could smell this scam coming. Of course you can't discount the people who may have been thinking ahead to join in on the massive class action this thing would surely generate. But then again I don't have THAT much faith in people.

     

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  27.  
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    JTO (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: Snake Oil

    Likewise:
    To be "gyped" (gypsies)
    To "welsh" on a bet (the Welsh)
    The "heebie-jeebies" (I mean, aren't Jews just the most scary thing you can think of?)
    "Cop" (police officers couldn't afford brass buttons, so they used copper ones instead)
    "Yankee" (yes, just like it sounds)

     

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  28.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    Re: Sounds like the copper bracelets everyone use to wear

    Diet and exercise you say? I think the snake oil people are going to enjoy their lives, shorter or not, a lot more than fit and healthy people. Now excuse me while I go get a second pot of coffee started and roll a cigarette.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    I use these wristbands and am quite happy with them. I have not once been attacked by a bear while wearing them. Not once.

     

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  30.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Re: Well what do you expect...

    And from the same country that gave us Darrly, no less.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: .. but have you tried this?

    Or that they are the seller's friend.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    shawn smith, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:34am

    Placebo Effect

    I think you should make clear that people don't even have to believe in the Placebo effect to work. The reason for this is that it makes the false claims even worse. And they are. This company and the people who created it should be put in a hole in the ground.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Snake Oil

    Cop is short for copper, yes, but not the metal. Copper was derived from the English verb cop, meaning to catch/nab/capture/etc...

     

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  34.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    Are you kidding? You have read Darrly comments, yes?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Snake Oil

    I've read both that it came from copper badges they wore as well as the latin word "capere", which means "to sieze"....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Snake Oil

    Nod nod. The English verb came from a French word (I forget and don't feel like looking it up) which came from the latin capere. The copper badges and buttons is an urban myth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 10:44am

    Now only if Australia could allow grown taxpaying adults to make the decision to play whatever videogames they want I'd be congratulating them as well.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re:

    You may be interested in my shark-repellent anklets, guaranteed to fend of 99% of all shark attacks*. 3 easy payments of $39.95!






    *Offer void while in the water

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Brian, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:01pm

    Hmmmm

    I just don't understand why people believe this crap. Okay the simpletons and unintelligent I can understand. But I have seem some fairly intelligent people wearing these glorified rubberbands. It doesn't take much looking to see that they are just bands with stickers....

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    pr, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re:

    My shark-repellent anklets are three easy payments of $39.95 and they're 100% effective! If you get your legs eaten off we'll give you your money back! And if you call now I'll double the order at no extra charge.**

    But seriously, folks, at what point do we stop trying to protect stupid people from themselves? I get mad when I see stupid scams like this one, but is it because I really care about the poor stupid people, or am I just envious because I didn't think of it (and have enough gumption to execute it) first?




    * Sole recourse is refund of the price paid, less shipping and handling.
    ** You just pay shipping and handling of three easy payments of $39.95 per extra unit shipped.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Re: Don't you just know...

    Just because it's completely in your head doesn't make the experience less real.

    That's why some of my acid trips are my fondest memories...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, right. Just like an insider to miss that I said buying a badge was stupid and think that I said that an insider badge had healing qualities. Nice one Marucs, I expect nothing less than you getting it wrong. Thanks for proving me right, you are a genius.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:30pm

    Re:

    AHA! That's the one I was thinking of above you!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    midofo (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:03pm

    Start sportsman support

    Glad to see that Shaquille O'Neal, Scott Kazmir, Teemu Selanne and Rubens Barichello are putting their names behind the Power Balance bands in the US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 7:45pm

    Re: Re: Well what do you expect...

    Right!

    Thats just about enough from you... Or I will send Darryl to your place for a whole month

    Muwahahahahahahaha

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    roughryders2407, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re: Don't you just know...

    I can personally attest to the power of the placebo effect. I played baseball for years as a catcher and I wore Phiten wristbands and necklaces claiming a similar effect as the Power Balance bracelets. I had arm pain to a point of taking 10-12 ibuprofen before a double-header. Wearing the Phiten merchandise helped to reduce my arm pain to me only having to take 3-4 ibuprofen. As well as pain, stiffness and soreness decreased due to the placebo effect. Pain is a psychological feeling and something that psychologically is meant to reduce pain will work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    roughriders24, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:28pm

    PLACEBO EFFECT

    I can personally attest to the power of the placebo effect. I played baseball for years as a catcher and I wore Phiten wristbands and necklaces claiming a similar effect as the Power Balance bracelets. I had arm pain to a point of taking 10-12 ibuprofen before a double-header. Wearing the Phiten merchandise helped to reduce my arm pain to me only having to take 3-4 ibuprofen. As well as pain, stiffness and soreness decreased due to the placebo effect. Pain is a psychological feeling and something that psychologically is meant to reduce pain will work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Snake Oil

    Actually, I do prefer the "Jan Kees" origin theory on yankee:

    Most linguists look to Dutch sources, noting the extensive interaction between the colonial Dutch in New Netherland (now largely New York state, New Jersey, and much of Delaware) and the colonial English in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Dutch given names "Jan" and "Kees" were and still are common, and the two sometimes are combined into a single name, "Jan-Kees". The word "Yankee" is a variation that could have referred to English settlers moving into previously Dutch areas.[4]

    Michael Quinion and Patrick Hanks argue[6] that the term refers to the Dutch nickname and surname Janneke (from "Jan" and the diminutive "-eke", meaning "Little John" or Johnny in Dutch), Anglicized to Yankee (the Dutch "J" is pronounced as a "Y" in English) and "used as a nickname for a Dutch-speaking American in colonial times". By extension, the term could have grown to include non-Dutch colonists as well.

    H. L. Mencken[7] explained the derogatory term "John Cheese" was often applied to the early Dutch colonists, who were famous for their cheeses. An example would be a British soldier commenting on a Dutch man "Here comes a John Cheese". The Dutch translation of John Cheese is "Jan Kaas", with the "J" sounding like "Y" in English; the two words thus would sound somewhat like "Yahn-kees" and could have given birth to the present term.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yankee

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:37pm

    OK so the power bands are pieces of Dren, but the iRenew is just fine right?

    /s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    wristbands, Feb 22nd, 2011 @ 10:03pm

    Re:Re:

    Ahaha,snake oil. This is very interesting. I think the crazy has been the end.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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