On election day, I wrote:
It's election day in the United States. If you understand and care about the issues and candidates on your local ballot, remember to vote. If, on the other hand, you don't particularly understand or care about matters being polled, then please don't vote! Your vote is important, but not so important that it must be cast, even randomly/arbitrarily/superficially, if your actual interests lie elsewhere. Choosing not to vote on particular questions, or not to vote at all, is a perfectly legitimate decision, and don't let any "more civic than thou" ninnies tell you otherwise.Do you disagree? In a democracy, should we feel an obligation to vote, even when we know or care little about the issues on the ballot, or when we believe our vote to be irrelevant?
Take issue or contribute your opinion at this QuickTopic discussion.«» (0) comments
You may have seen the new "Do It eBay" TV commercial: it features a middle-aged balding fellow, with a cherubic smile, who sings and dances to an eBay jingle which follows the tune of "My Way." More about the ad campaign, and a streamed version of the 1-minute TV spot, is available at this AdAge story.
Celebrity CEO Impersonations
Am I taking crazy pills here, or does the star of this commercial bear at least a passing resemblance to Jeff Bezos, CEO/Founder of eBay's arch-competitor Amazon.com?
Sure, the "Do It eBay" guy is shorter, balder, and chubby -- but from a distance, with that cheeky smile, that hair pattern, and that blue-and-khaki clothing, the first couple of times I saw this commercial out of the corner of my eye I thought it was Bezos singing and dancing for Amazon.com.
Look for yourself:
Was someone at eBay or their ad agency being impish with this casting choice? Is it a coincidental resemblance? (Or am I just imagining things?)
(Images captured from streamed commercial with SnagIt, which has a DirectX mode which grabs images in Windows Media Player other screen-capture facilities miss.)«» (0) comments
I'm pretty far out there when it comes to speculation about the future. Still, some recent bet offerings at the Long Bets website strike me as peculiar. Bet #88 is a rather transparent marketing effort for an upcoming (but vaguely-described) product. (You can't fault this spammer's grandiose ambition: he expects that 3 billion people will use software conforming to his product's UI metaphor by 2025.)
Department of Defense
My wacky favorite is Bet #86, where a fellow by the name of Alex K. Rubin posits:
By the year 2150, over 50% of schools in the USA or Western Europe will require classes in defending against robot attacks.Rubin offers further details in his "pro" argument:
I predict robots with AI will inevitably be uncontrollable and over power their human masters. Schooling and education is what the children of the future need to fend off these super human robots. Therefore, many schools will offer if not require training in robot fighting. The first wave of these schools to offer the class will be around 2120.The charm of this prediction is how it combines the fantastic (super robots overpower mankind...) with the mundane (...thus kids in the US and Western Europe will have to take a class in anti-robot warfare). I guess that makes it the four R's: readin', 'ritin', 'rithmetic, and repellin' robots.
If Rubin were simply to predict that robots overrun the planet or gracefully succeed/replace humans in the same timeframe, I'd just think, "well, yeah, interesting idea, might happen with runaway technological progress, ok." But instead Rubin's focus on curriculum has me picturing Jimmy, the star quarterback, struggling to pull his grade in 5th-period Robot-Defense up to passing so he can start in the 2124 Homecoming Game.
Of course, if you suspect the robots are already a threat, and you're over the age of 50, Old Glory Insurance offers Robot Attack Insurance for as little as $4 a month!«» (0) comments
"You've got circuitry in my rat brains!"
"No, you've got rat brains in my circuitry!"
Two great tastes that go great together: rat brains and computer circuitry. Scientists at SUNY-Brooklyn have wired a computer into a live rat's brain, allowing the researchers to remotely "steer" the rat, while a researcher at Georgia Tech has grafted rat neurons into a robot, allowing the rat brain remnants to steer the robot.
No word yet on when Comedy Central will televise a Rat-bot versus Robo-rat battle-to-the-death.
Rattus norvegicus seems to have pulled far ahead of us homo sapiens in the race toward intimate mammal-machine symbiosis. We'd better rally, lest we find ourselves ferrying cheese to and fro for our new cybernetically-enhanced rat overlords.«» (0) comments
If Trent Lott was going to endorse anyone in the 1948 presidential election, he should have at least feigned loyalty to his current party. In 1948, Republicans nominated New York Governor Thomas Dewey for President. Dewey had supported, in 1945, the first-ever state law against racial and religious employment discrimination.
Retroactive Endorsements Division
I want to say this about my party: When Thomas Dewey ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if Trent Lott had followed our lead, he wouldn't have had all these problems over all these days, either.«» (0) comments
"Technological self-help" against criminals risks liability beyond a certain point. If you fear your laptop will be stolen, you might add a mechanism where it occasionally prompts for a valid password. It's probably alright in the eyes of the law to disable the laptop if the proper password is not given. It's definitely not alright for the laptop to explode, injuring the user.
Criminal Cutting Edge
But how about a more subtle countermeasure where the unauthorized user's activity is monitored, and perhaps exploited to recover the value of the laptop in cash? Crafty, but still illegal.
Now what if you are yourself a technically sophisticated criminal, and want to let "your" laptop be stolen, so as to steal a greater amount from whoever eventually possesses it -- whether that person is a laptop thief or merely the final recipient of stolen goods? You might try the following:
Tim O'Reilly: Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution
Facing the Music
O'Reilly's observations, together with Cringely's suggestions for a scrappy, long-haul new model for musical artists, make me wonder: why aren't individual bands/acts yet offering subscription services to their entire artistic output?
A yearly subscription might be just $30 and include:
(My tip to any acts that want to try a individualized subscription service: drop the garish designs, pop-ups, flash, tiny type, and sluggish captioning. Just say in big clear letters, "For $X a year you get access to all my music and additional benefits A, B, C. Click here to sign up. Thanks!")«» (0) comments
A friend recently called my attention to the fact that clocks and watches in advertising displays -- at least analog clock faces -- usually show the time 10:10. I suppose the reason is the nice -- although not *too* perfect/perpendicular -- symmetry. However, 10:10 even seems preferred to its mirror time, 2:50. Is this merely a tradition among time merchants?
More variety appears on advertised digital timepieces. A recent TV advertisement for a fast-food Simpsons watch giveaway shows all watches with the time 12:22 -- which fills all digit places and as an added benefit, suggests lunchtime.
On a recent flight, perusing the Skymall catalog, I saw the following digital clock ad and had to wonder, "What are they trying to say with their choice of display time?" When I then read the first line of descriptive copy -- "This full-function clock radio has a secret" -- I chuckled out loud. See for yourself:
Skymall Late Spring 2002 p. 151 (111K JPG)«» (0) comments
Everything that is inevitable has already happened. «» (0) comments