Monthly Archives: March 2007

KFC Seeks Blessing from Pope

Kentucky Fried Fish for Lent? The KFC corporation has contacted the Vatican, asking the Pope to bless its new Fish Snacker sandwich, thinking it will be popular among Catholics during Lent. If His Miter-ness grants the blessing, it will bind one of the world’s largest religions to one of the world’s largest fast food establishments, in an unholy union straight outta Compton. And the beginning of a trend that will result in churches handing out fast food menus during service, with sanctified items specially marked with circles and arrows and Google Maps mashups with driving directions to participating franchises. Corporate kickbacks could generate enough revenue to replace tithing.

Music: Bongwater :: His New Look

News Flash: Biorhythms Are Bogus

Back in the 70s, you could hardly walk into a strip mall or pizza joint without encountering a “biorhythm machine.” The theory is that we all have these cyclical waves running through our lives for physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being. The waves start at birth, and, running on slightly different frequencies, go through periods of both synchronous harmony and chaotic intersection. As a 10-year-old, I was obsessed with these things, and would drop a quarter every time I saw one, walking home with a freshly minted sheet of green/white striped printer paper sporting a dot-matrix layout of my life cycles for the next few months.

Biorhythm Lately feeling like I’d reached an all-time low – exhausted, sick, stressed, imbalanced, under-excercised, just out of sorts in every way. Then it hit me – my biorhythms must be off! Haven’t seen one of those machines around for years, but knew there had to be a software version out there somewhere. Struck gold with the Bedrock BioRhythms Dashboard widget. Tapped in my birthday and was treated to – horrors! – stark evidence that biorhythms are total bull. Something is wrong – this can’t be my chart! My waveforms are peaking right now, should be top of my game. But reality is the opposite. How can I never have realized this as a child? How could I have been so naive? How could my parents have allowed me to go on wasting my money like that?

Guess this explains why you never see the machines around anymore.

Man, what a rip.

Music: Squarepusher :: Tundra

Our New Dryer and The Patriot Act

Our clothers dryer crapped out last week, and the washer’s not doing so well either. Repairs expensive, time to replace them both. Home Depot offering a honkin’ pile of rebates, and has the unit Consumer Reports likes. Once there, learned that if we open a Home Depot credit card, we could get an additional 10% off. No penalties, what’s not to like?

Read recently that financial institutions cannot legally require you to provide a social security number, so decided to see what would happen if I entered all zeroes in that field. The application was spit back in seconds. Explained my position to the employee, who rang up credit central at HD. The guy I talked to wasted no time in invoking … wait for it … The Patriot Act in defense of the requirement. He didn’t have specifics, but claimed that the act required them to store this information, and that a separate taxpayer ID would not suffice.

I was incredulous. Either Home Depot is hiding behind the war on terror for capitalistic reasons, or the Patriotic Act is more frightening than I thought. I suspected the latter, but realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere in this round, so, with a four-year-old growing quickly impatient, forked over my SS# and took the discount. Tonight did a bit of research and found this at askquestions.org:

If you’d just like to open a bank account or engage in another banking transaction, can a bank force you to provide your social security number? How about fingerprinting you? Are either of these strictly required by law? Not exactly – although if you do not wish to provide your social security number you will have to obtain an alternate taxpayer identification number.

So if their reading of the act is correct, Home Depot was not within their rights to require this information. A little late now, but am curious just how hard a person would have to fight to get Home Depot credit approval without a valid social.

Music: Nino Rota :: L’Harem

Short Attention Span Radio

Guitar solos are self-indulgent. The bridge is always boring. Verses are repetitive. Everyone knows four minutes is way too long for a song. What we really want is the hook – the essence. Give me a meaty riff, and ditch the rest. Radio SASS (Short Attention Span System) “creative editing” to the rescue.

Short Attention Span System takes the playlist and musically condenses songs to their essence. Through time compression, you get the memorable heart of each song, with an average length of aproximately two minutes with NO self indulgent guitar solos, NO long intros, NO repetition of choruses again and again. Radio returns to the snappy song length of the 1960s.

In other words, everything long is bad. Because time is an inconvenience, and self-absorbed artists with no respect for your fast-paced lifestyle are wasting it. Ummm… ewwww? So what happens to Hot Rats? Cosmic Charlie? Fool in the Rain? Mothership Connection? Born Under Punches?

But look on the bright side — nobody cares!

Radio SASS starts out with the memorable beginning, followed by the best verses, best chorus and then wraps it up just as you remember … Will listeners object? The answer is no. Several focus groups conducted by Harker Research show that most people don’t even notice.

Also interesting here is the name of the service: “Short Attention Span System.” Since saying that someone has a short attention span is generally considered a bit derogatory, this represents a sea change. SASS must think that people are not only aware of the fact that they have short attention spans, but also don’t think of that as a bad thing. The marketing here is aimed at the heart of what has traditionally been considered a human weakness, or a negative aspect of media snack culture. Kind of like selling potato chips under the name “Obesity Chips.”

And, oh yeah – the new protocol is patented. You can patent butchery?

Music: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan :: Yeh Jo Halka Halka

Combinatorial Media as Self-Expression

Loose notes from SXSW 2007 panel: Combinatorial Media as Self-Expression

Sean Uberoi Kelly, eTonal
Lili Cheng, Microsoft Research
Alice Marwick, New York University
Rick Webb, Archenemy

Discussion about the zillion ways multiple media are being mashed up and re-presented, or being presented in formats that make it super-easy for consumers to remix. Implications for creativity, copyright, fun.

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The Future of the Book: Dead or Alive?

Loose notes from SXSW 2007 panel The Future of the Book: Dead or Alive?

Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive
Terri Ducay, Cheskin
Eileen Gittins, Blurb
Peter Merholz, Adaptive Path

What is happening to the traditional publishing industry? How long before there’s no room in the economy for paper books? And what happened to the push for e-book readers in the 90s – why haven’t they taken off? Just in time publishing is taking off, and there’s still room for blockbuster books, but what about all of the barely profitable middle ground books?

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