Definitely a Pick-Me-Up

The not-always-helpful WebMD has an interesting headline today: “Swim With Dolphins, Cut Depression”.  Now, I'm not a doctor, but isn't that a little… well… F–KING OBVIOUS?  Why are you wasting my time with this crap?  And where the hell am I supposed to find a dolphin, anyway?  Someone's definitely on crack over there.  Yeesh.


Hey, That Thing Looks Coo… OUCH!

I just found a cool design-related blog called Sensory Impact. They link to a cute new product design called the Syringe Button, which won first place in the 2005 Design Innovation Award for Product Design.

What it is: “This project offers a universal solution allowing patients to make injections on their own, safely and without any special training. It is enough to apply the syringe to the skin and press it from above with a finger.”

It's a great idea, but it looks a little too cute for its own good. Also, it's not real (yet). But keep an eye open!


China: Enter at Your Own Risk

Today Chinese officials shut down water flowing into Harbin, China, because it contains massive quantities of pollution – a slick, containing carcinogenic benzene, dozens of miles long. Millions of people who live in Harbin will have no tap water for days.

Holy —-.

But China has always been a site of major disasters. This is at least partially a function of statistics – China has so many people that it's going to get a disproportionate number of deaths. But still… according to the Disaster Center, over thirteen million people died in natural disasters in China during the 20th century. 3,700,000 people died in floods in 1931. Earthquakes, epidemics, droughts – China has seen it all. Geographic size also matters, of course, but the Soviet Union had far fewer disasters like this, and with the exception of Stalin's engineered famine, which killed five million people in 1932, a much lower death toll. That famine was a result of evil, murderous public policy – anything but natural.

Anyway. It's also currently the most polluted country on the planet – reflected by the current nightmare. Read the report on China by Energy Information Administration (which, as a subdepartment of the Department of Energy, provides “Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government”). In 1998, the WHO reported that seven of the world's ten worst polluted cities were in China. Or, according to The Economist, which quotes the World Bank, sixteen out of twenty.

The Chinese government appears to be committed to remedying the pollution problem, but clearly, there's a LONG way to go.

So, unfortunately, as fascinating, unique, and ancient as the Chinese culture is, it is clear that visiting China is a risky endeavor. If you go there, be aware of the serious environmental problems, and try not to breathe too deeply…



p.s. Stuff like this makes W look like a tree-hugger, huh?

Oh Yes, Ligers Are Very Real

Some of you may remember Napoleon Dynamite, the sleeper hit movie about a nerd in rural Utah.  You may also remember his favorite animal – a “liger” – half-lion, half-tiger.  Well, the creature exists.  Yesterday, KRNV in Reno, Nevada, reported that Sierra Safari Zoo in Reno was looking for donations.  Of their “selling points”?  A liger.  Don't expect the zoo to deny their secret monster creation program.  In fact, they are quite proud of it.

Now, millions of questions popped into my mind as I read this story.  Would the phrase “jungle fever” be appropriate here?  Do the parents need “beer goggles”?  How does “Liger Facilitator” look on your resume?  Does the job come with “Mauling Insurance”?  Can I ask a question without “quotes”?

These are questions that the biased, complacent media just aren't asking.  We the people must be kept informed of this new threat, before they complete the triumverate of Lions, Tigers, and Bears.  My inside sources tell me that the only reason this super-monster hasn't been completed yet is that they couldn't come up with a name that doesn't sound stupid.  But once they do… I can't think about this anymore.  Buy more duct tape.


p.s. What's next? Bearacuddas?  Leopirhanas?  Iguacodiles?  I have more, if you want…
p.p.s. “Very Real” doesn't make sense.  Something is real or it isn't.  I only put it in to make fun of it here.  And because it adds a sense of gravitas.  Quite true.

Sayonara, Sleazy Sony

There has been quite a ruckus about Sony's downright idiotic decision to install software that modifies Windows at the deepest level, hides itself, and secretly spies on your computer. It does this with something called a rootkit, examples of which have names like T0rn, FU Rootkit, and my favorite, SuckIT. Even more bizarre – it makes use, illegally, of Open Source software to do some of its dirty work. This is ironic for two reasons – first, the Open Source software model is designed to foster sharing and cooperation, and second, that this particular software has been written by “DVD Jon“, famous for hacking DVD encryption. Whew.

I'm not particularly surprised that the music industry is taking the most heavy-handed, brute force approach to the problem of file sharing, despite the fact that there are several creative alternatives to the problem. iTunes, for example, has done incredibly well, even its customers can easily get their hands on the exactly same merch for free.

The problem is that the whole business model is now flawed. The music industry has three parts – production, marketing, and distribution. Production is everything related to creating the album. Marketing is done by the labels, who take a hefty percentage for their efforts. Distribution is done by a handful of companies, including Sony, and involves getting the physical CD's into retail stores. They take about 50% of CD profits for this service/racket. File sharing (legal and otherwise) is a direct threat to the distribution model, since the physical CD's are rapidly becoming obsolete. iTunes gives me the music without the crap or the guilt. In fact, the only thing artists need these days is a studio to get their music made, and a marketing company to get their music heard. And if they're concert-friendly, they could even distribute recorded stuff for free, and make their money doing shows (which many artists do anyway – they can get a lot more from a tour than from CD's).

So it's no wonder Sony Music is freaking out. The joke is that moves like this only serve to push customers away from physical media – why should I put this malware-ridden crap in my pristine PC? As I said, I'm not surprised, but I'm not particularly worried. This is an act of a desperate company in its death throes. Boo-yah!


p.s. I should note that I have a good friend who works for Sony Music… sorry, dude :-/

Coke and Israel: Chilly Relations?

Yitz points out that on the new Coca-Cola website, Worldchill, which has maps of each country and a “chill factor”, Gaza and the West Bank are listed as “Palestine”, and the Golan Heights is listed as part of Syria.

I don't agree with Yitz's conclusion that Coca-Cola is “backing terrorism”.  I'm pretty sure it's purely a money thing – Coke doesn't want to miss out on the Middle East markets by calling those areas part of Israel.  Also Yitz claims that he can't see Jerusalem, but that's just because it's covered by “push pins” – where people can leave comments.  Interestingly, the only “push pin” in “Palestine” says “Dude, we're not a country”.  Looks like someone already got annoyed by this site.  Was it you, Yitz?

Anyway, I try not to get too upset by stuff like this – it's basically a sleek, asinine marketing ploy, that made a silly political decision that every map app has to make – Google Maps, NASA WorldWind, etc etc.  Whatever.


p.s. I know that Coke has a very cozy relationship with the O-U, if that makes you feel better…
p.p.s. It's good to stop drinking Coke (and almost every other soda) anyway – that stuff is poison.

Mazal Tov!!!

My good friend just got engaged!  Yaaaaaay! :-)

Head over to his site and wish him well!


p.s. Are you still here?  is waiting…