Archive for September, 2010

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Facebook & Skype. Two Great Tastes That Don’t Taste Great Together

[ Comments Off ]Posted on September 29, 2010 by admin in Technology

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I’m not so sure I want audio/video in my Facebook account, but I do have suggestions for some Like Button-like audio widgets I’d like to see.

Great. Now the Numa Numa Guy can video
chat me whenever he feels like it.

I really love sushi. I also really love chocolate. However, I suspect I wouldn’t much enjoy chocolate-dipped sushi. Which was the first feeble analogy that sprang to mind when I learned today that Skype and Facebook have formed a partnership . One that we imagine would inevitably lead to being able to video Skype on Facebook. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, a Luddite, call me whatever you like, but when I want to talk to someone, I call them. And if I need to call someone overseas, or have a conference with or without video, Skype rocks. And if I want to peruse what my friends are up to or engage in some low-key attention whoring or silly banter, Facebook is just the ticket. But something that I really don’t think I need is video calls on Facebook. Or a more Facebook aware Skype. C’mon. One of the first things a Facebook noob learns to do is to set their status to offline so that they don’t get random late night chat box popups from opposite-sex stalker friends of their friends that are barely their friends in the first place. Facebook has reached an almost “MySpace before the fall” feeling anyway; between the privacy changes and the late joiners, most people who are even moderately perceptive are starting to feel a little Facebookworn. Sure, it’s a great way to avoid buying birthday cards, and share pictures of the kids, but we’ve all learned that it doesn’t make more people come see your band, and once you’ve gotten a sense of the banal existence everyone is leading, you’re probably happy to go back to not knowing. Besides, linking the two services will just make it that much easier for the government to spy on you. There is however one improvement I think they could make. Since the “Like” button has removed the burden of ever actually having to make intelligent comments, we already suggested a bunch of “Like” button alternatives. But I think it would be even cooler if they added a little audio widget that would let you add simple comments like a rimshot or a trombone “wah wah wah wah” . Or crickets for when someone obviously agonized over what they thought was an especially clever status post but no-one commented. What do you think? Do you want Skype in your Facebook?

Colour Trademarks: Don’t Get Pantowned

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on September 28, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Cadbury and T-Mobile are probably the only organizations that defend their colors more vigorously than Crips and Bloods.

When you think of the color purple, what do you think of? How about magenta? Well I’d be willing to bet you don’t immediately think of Cadbury and T-Mobile. Which is perhaps unfortunate for them, because they’ve both gone to great lengths to establish colour trademarks . I don’t imagine the telecom company Orange struggles so much with this brand protection problem. Nor does Big Blue, in spite of long ago losing their corner on the market for the actual use of the color. And the massive conglomerate Altria seems to be trying to cover all the bases with their logo . But what sense is there in actually pursuing these kinds of trademarks? In my opinion, very little in most situations. I mean, in this context, if I ask you to think of a brand that’s defined by bright green and yellow, you’ll probably think of BP. Yet in spite of a sixteen year legal battle and their place in the relative no-man’s land of corporate colors (see below) they were unable to claim the color as a trademark in Australia. And if I mention yellow and red, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll think of McDonald’s, but they let the colors speak for themselves, and strangely more often try to protect their McName. Unlike Adidas, which has no color to protect, but defend the “three stripes” so vigorously that they sue whether you’re using two or four stripes. There are situations situations in which defending your color may make sense though, like Dow Corning protecting their pink insulation, or Tiffany defending their Tiffany Blue, which is a private Pantone color (PMS 1837) matching the year they were founded . These non-conventional trademarks can be rather amusing; although we’ve all probably worked with someone who has a “trademark smell”, I’d have to agree with the decision handed down in this case. Read the rest of this entry »

This Headline Is Devoid Of Useful Information

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on September 27, 2010 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Monday, September 27th, 2010

But most media and political thought lately is, due to its blindness to its own self-referential absurdity.

Thanks, Google.

I went down a slightly disturbing rabbit hole today. I’ve been confused a bit lately anyway, what with the profusion of meta-references and the death of irony and satire (bonus point for self-link!) that have been making it impossible to separate reality from the many parodies of itself that we’re presented with daily. Today it started with a Guardian piece called This is a news website article about a scientific paper. Which is basically just a text version of Charlie Brooker’s How to Report the News from earlier this year, or’s Trailer For Every Oscar-Winning Movie Ever (both videos below). This is an old gag; the community blog Metafilter did a “this is a comment thread full of all the comments that would be made if these were actual comments” thread back in 2001. Which all got me pondering things self-referential, and led to the really twisted part of the rabbit hole, and gave me a disturbing sort of brain freeze that I’m worried won’t go away. If – like me – you’re not especially intelligent, but live in an elitist smarty-pants college town, so have to give the impression that you are – you may have a copy of Douglas R. Hofstadter’s book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid on your bookshelf. But what you may not know is that Hofstadter wrote a column for Scientific American for a few years, and that much of it was included in a compilation called Metamagical Themas: Questing For The Essence Of Mind And Pattern. The very first chapter is called “Snags & Snarls”, and starts off with a section called “On Self-Referential Sentences” which you can read on Google Books here. As a launch point he uses The Epimenides paradox. Epimenides is where Spock from Star Trek stole his “everything I tell you is a lie” schtick. He’s the Cretan who said “All Cretans are liars”. Which you can then run with and say something like “This sentence claims to be an Epimenides paradox, but it is lying”. Which Hofstadter proceeds to do for several pages. At the end of the chapter, he rounds things up with correspondences like the one below. Read the rest of this entry »

Kate Moss As New Christian Dior Spokesmodel?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on September 26, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

I think Kate Moss would rock as one of the faces of Dior. Although maybe not for the fragrance line. Her face appearing next to their fragrance “Addict” would be a bit too meta even for my tastes.

The obvious cheap shot.

It has been rumored recently that global fashion giant Christian Dior may have made a deal with Kate Moss to be one of their key spokesmodels. The rumor in fact is starting right here; the source that shared the information with me prefers to remain anonymous, and the best-placed people I personally know at Dior couldn’t confirm the truth of it. But it made for some interesting conversation about whom one would choose to represent a powerful and prestigious brand like Dior. In the case of Kate Moss, this could really go either way. She clearly has a “durable” kind of beauty that adapts well across a broad range – from classy and dignified, to naively innocent, to sultry, or downright vampy. And she certainly has the identity cachet for this kind of role; even after her drug and rehab scandal of 2005, Forbes ranked her amongst their top 100 celebrities, with a “Power Rank” of 77. But if Dior is signing Moss, they might want to do some Googlewashing before they launch the campaign; a quick search of the terms “kate moss dior” just now turned up a lot of stories like this one about the night she trashed a 1930′s vintage Dior gown while out partying. It would also be an interesting move if they put her on their fragrance line; one of their hottest fragrances is of course Addict. I jest a bit, because I for one would laud Dior for signing her as a key spokesmodel. In spite of the public’s eagerness to attack celebrities who have drug problems, addiction has been recognized for some time now as a disease or condition rather than a behavioral problem. I mean, you wouldn’t pass her over if she had a minor bout with cancer for instance, right? It would be a strong statement on Dior’s part, and I’m sure she couldn’t do any more damage to their brand than Sharon Stone did in 2008 when she implied that the earthquakes in China were “bad karma”  for China’s treatment of Tibet. I hope it’s true that they’re signing Moss, myself. Although I admire Natalie Portman, when they signed her on in June of this year, I didn’t really get it. Dior has done a great job of cashing in on Chanel’s brand damage as a result of their heavy association with NY party monsters and rappers (or Snooki) and Portman seems a little too “pop culture” to fit Dior’s prestige vibe in my opinion. More brand ideas for Dior below. Read the rest of this entry »

The Death & Rebirth Of Political Meta-Satire As Quantum Comedy

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on September 25, 2010 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Figures like Stephen Colbert, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin have introduced an uncertainty principle in current politics that makes it hard to distinguish a wave of sentiment from an actual political particle.

The confusion almost makes one
nostalgic for the campy satire of
Pat Paulsen’s
presidential campaigns

Recently I was going to write about the laws in Brazil that prohibit satirical political candidates during election time, criticizing such laws for denying free speech, which many of us would view as a cornerstone of modern democracy. I mean, sure. This can lead to odd results, like porn star Ciccolina being elected to parliament in Italy, but as we long ago pointed out, it’s hard to tell a prostitute from a politician in the first place. But a confluence of recent events has caused me to rethink things a bit. It started when I received an e-mail from a reader referencing my attempt at meta-satire of the Stephen Colbert/Jon Stewart events sheduled to take place in DC at the end of October. The reader – an obvious teabagger – actually said “I’m happy to see that someone in the mainstream media is calling out these socialist Obamanation jokesters for what they are doing, which is obviously ramming there [sic] liberal agenda down America’s throat right before the elections“. Never mind how much it hurt my feelings when they called Dissociated Press “mainstream”, what really was worrying was the fact that they were regurgitating satirist/comedian Glenn Beck’s humorous spin on political commentator Stephen Colbert’s rally in Washington. Oh. Wait. I think I reversed something there. This inability to distinguish the comedians from the commentators and the candidates wasn’t helped any by Colbert’s recent appearance at a congressional hearing. Although you could reasonably argue that Colbert was wasting taxpayer money somehow, or blew a great opportunity to use his clout to make progress on an important issue, I think he did something even more reckless: he not only highlighted how easily the public can be confused and misled, he exposed how easily a politician can be confused and misled. And in the process exposed the American public to something they should NEVER be allowed to see, i.e., the arcane and out-of-touch legislative process in action. It was hard to decide which was more surreal – Colbert’s presence, or the committee’s response. You’ve taken us into dangerous territory Mr. Colbert, the world of “quantum comedy”, in which the frame of observation can completely determine whether an individual is a comedian or a politician. Which now has me thinking that maybe the Brazilians had it right all along. Leave the comedy to the politicians, Mr. Colbert. They do just fine on their own. Read the rest of this entry »

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