Archive for March, 2009« Older Entries |
Yeah, they’ve got to represent SOMETHING, I’m just not sure what.
This is what happens when
your Peeps don’t represent
I don’t quite get America’s fascination with Peeps, the toxic yellow Easter candy that vaguely resembles a baby chicken. Maybe it’s some weird expression of the same impulse that drives the French to eat Ortolan. Or maybe it’s just part of America’s natural appetite for strange-smelling plastic representations of actual foods, like Circus Peanuts. In any case, there’s enough interest in them that Millikin University of Decatur, IL devotes a section of their web site specifically to Peeps Research. Their study is focused more on Peeps behavior; if you’re looking for basic scientific information about Peeps, see PeepResearch.org. Although I’d like to think that Peeps fans would stop eating them if they saw how they were made, they probably wouldn’t. Which may be bacause they’re somehow sacred and have magic powers that inspire blind devotion. After all they’re made in Bethlehem by a company called “Just Born”. Peeps may even have something to do with newspaper failures nationwide. Maybe if papers spent less time on annual peeps diorama contests, they could channel more energy into profitability. So I don’t love Peeps enough to spend hours in the studio photographing them, but I don’t hate them enough to think of 100 ways to kill them either. People who think that way have obviously never seen the horrors of Peep War. Read the rest of this entry »
If you DO read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.
Is This News?
I’ve always loved Mark Twain’s saying “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed“. Sitting down this Sunday morning to not read the Sunday paper – something I used to love to do – I was really struck by this change in my behavior over the years. Living in a town where the local newspaper is failing as a business, I’m surprised by the way people talk about the topic. Some seem almost shocked, as if the news were some public utility, like electric power. I find that level of ignorance strange, because aside from the fact that the trend away from print has clearly been in motion for over a decade (I even used it as a sales pitch on this dated page in 2005 in the sidebar), newspapers in general have struggled since the 1970′s. Those who like to think they’re more informed show an interesting ignorance of their own. They’ll say things like “this is no surprise, the blogosphere has shown that we don’t need newspapers“. Which is a REALLY scary level of ignorance, as this Guardian UK interview with David Simon, creator of The Wire points out. As he puts it: “The internet does froth and commentary very well, but you don’t meet many internet reporters down at the courthouse.” Another argument that Simon (a former crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun) puts forth is that the failure of local newspapers will allow unprecedented political corruption. Which I think shows a certain insider ignorance all its own. The ownership of newspapers by large media companies effectively killed the Woodward & Bernstein style of reporting years ago, as pointed out by journalism professionals themselves in the excellent book The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect, which is a great read, if you’re not familiar with it. In any case, the bottom line is that these days, news is business. In spite of sites like newspaperdeathwatch.com that track the carnage, there are still people who see a business opportunity. And some on line news sources understand that there are things you can do to attract visitors that you just can’t do in print, like photo features on cheerleaders wrestling in Hershey’s Syrup.
AIG stands for Avarice, Insolence, Greed.
Go ahead. Think about butterflies.
As I shopped at a resale clothes shop yesterday, I was mostly thinking about how cool it was that I spent less than twenty bucks and managed to buy 4 shirts and 2 jackets. It wasn’t until this morning – when I was assembling some tax documents – that it came back. There it was, welling up inside me. Righteous Indignation. I’m not going to try to sound intelligent here (something many of my friends would say is a lost cause), because as far as I’m concerned this series of images explains the TARP program well enough. It’s so incredibly obvious that in simple terms, the American public is directly paying for the outrageous speculative wealth-building of a very small group of people. Even the beneficiaries of the current bailout plans know they’re creeps; see this internal AIG memo that advises employees on how not to fall victim to the populist horde calling for their heads. In America, the protests have been a little feeble. Small groups have protested at AIG executives’ homes, and there have been under-reported and isolated Tea Parties across the country. In the UK, things have been a little edgier, with acts of vandalism against bankers’ homes. And although millions protested in the streets in France about a week ago, you have to go to sites like AlJazeera.net to find images and reporting. So tell me. Where’s your indignation? I really want to know what you think. If you want to leave an anonymous comment, use the name “Guest” and the email “email@example.com”. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 27, 2009 by admin in TechnologyFriday, March 27th, 2009
At least the end of civilization will have a nice light show.
Having been a teen during the death throes of the cold war, sometimes I miss apocalyptic visions and doomsday scenarios. Well, it seems we have no shortage lately. Yeah, global economic collapse. Whatever. And that new Internet worm scheduled for April 1st? Frankly, I’m more worried about the day that Bill Gates activates the mysterious trillions of lines of code in Windows that allows him to take over the world. No, we have a much greater catastrophe awaiting us. Remember the Northeast Blackout of 2003? That was like your porch light burning out compared to the civilization-ending effects of the inevitable space storm coming our way. This New Scientist article suggests that after briefly being enthralled with being able to see the aurora borealis over the equator, it’ll be less than a year before millions of Americans will be dead and the nation’s infrastructure will be in tatters. The World Bank will declare the U.S. a developing nation. All because of the electrical effects of a Solar Superstorm. Although that New Scientist piece sounds a bit melodramatic, the scenarios are drawn directly from a NASA report on the subject. On a positive note, it should be pretty to look at.
[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 26, 2009 by admin in Popular MediaThursday, March 26th, 2009
Thousands of hours of media and archived web content in a shipping container
I’m always a little amazed when I mention the Internet Archive to someone who spends a lot of time on the web, and they haven’t heard of it. If you’re not familiar with the site, it’s an incredible archive of film, audio, text, and even the internet itself. The Wayback Machine lets you visit sites that no longer exist, so we can enjoy lost treasures like RubberBurner.com, where you can learn some “FAST and BASIC facts” about Curry, “A slim and handsome race car driver” (a site which later turned out to be one of the first viral marketing campaigns). If you’re the kind of person who accidently spends hours on Wikipedia, the Internet Archive can be dangerous. The Prelinger Archive, for instance, not only has classic feature films like Un Chien Andalou, Night of the Living Dead, and Nosferatu available for download, but a wealth of often hilarious old commercials like the one featured at left from 1956 called Once Upon a Honeymoon, in which a (probably gay) angel descends from heaven to sprinkle fairy dust on the house of a young couple to ensure they have fashionable new phones before they go on their honeymoon. I’m especially drawn to the film section of the site, because of things like Cinemocracy, where they’ve archived 1940′s propaganda pieces by directors like John Ford, John Huston, and Frank Capra. If you’re a technophile, you’ll also find it pretty interesting that they’re moving the entire three petabyte archive into a shipping container, much like Google’s floating servers. Read the rest of this entry »