Monday, December 26, 2005

Ho Ho Who the Hell Cares?

The controversy about whether or not to wish someone a Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays is so overblown. I'm fed up with broadcast pundits and religious leaders and their indignant airs about the so-called controversy. When did holiday greetings become fightin' words, partner? Do these people have nothing better to do? "Jesus," as my teenager would say.

But then, I got caught up in the controversy, too. (sheepish smile)

I'm watching that daytime estrogen-filled talk show, . I love the way these women talk over each other so it's often hard to make out what each is saying. The View is the perfect white noise for working at home.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck says she celebrates Christmas so her cards wish everyone a Merry Christmas, regardless of what they celebrate. Sending another person good wishes has nothing to do with the recipient, apparently. It's all about her. Anyone who is offended should let her know so she can take them off her list for next year. Besides, she's too busy to do anything special. Go ahead and send out your Christmas cards, Lazy...er...Lizzy, because that's not the offensive part. Your self-centered attitude during the holidays is, (channeling James Bond in Thunderball) you stupid twit.

Star Jones says her friends are happy to get a card from her at all, because she's so busy...and self-important, I guess. Awwwww. Viewers? Send your donations to the "My Give A Damn's Busted" Holiday Fund c/o ABC. Star's cards read Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I've heard, due to the war in Iraq, there's a national shortage of available space on card stock. And Americans should always make it clear that Christmas is the only holiday that warrants mentioning by its proper name anyway.

Joy Behar says she sends out both Christmas and cards, because it doesn't take that much extra time. Hear, hear! Presumably, she only has two flavors of friends. (She's a white, heterosexual, middle-aged woman, so maybe so.) One year, Joy sent out holiday cards with both a Santa and a Rabbi. Hmmm. Come to think of it, we did that, too. (Yup, I'm a white, heterosexual, middle-aged woman, so go figure.) I can't speak for Joy, but my recipients were either offended or condescending. No one laughed with us. God forbid anyone should appreciate humor during the holidays.

Meredith Vieira ends the discussion by wishing a Happy to folks who "follow that," as if to dismiss the whole horrible idea as soon as possible. Gee, Meredith, could you add a little more sarcasm next time?

Look, I am happy to make a special effort during the holidays to send out Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or cards, if it's appropriate and I know the person/family well enough. Not everyone gets a gift from me, so it's the least I can do.

I don't expect people to follow my lead on card shopping or cardmaking obsessions. Few people's wallets can handle the extra money drain. Even fewer people have the time or talent to make cards. So here's my solution for you. If all-inclusive off-the-shelf cards seem too wishy-washy, take the time to pen a handwritten note. I've received "wrong holiday" cards with a personal note inside, and that has real meaning...canned Hallmark sentiments be damned. If someone doesn't know me that well and I get a greeting that isn't a fit, without a personalized note, I smile anyway. They thought about me, and for that, I'm happy.

But if your head-in-the-sand excuse during the holidays includes labor or time considerations, you're not off the hook. We're all busy. You're nothing special, Bubba. Neither are those who claim it's too much brain trauma to figure out who celebrates what among one's friends and family. Whatever. Make your choice, but don't you dare complain when others make theirs.

Bottom Line: The holidays aren't about you. The holidays are about spreading cheer to others and being sincerely grateful for receiving them, in whatever form. As for those who whine about acknowledging the diversity of the human race on this planet and in this country, too bad for you! You either care about goodwill or you don't. It's just that simple.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Roads Skolar Neads Inglish Lessin

Just who gets these days? Apparently, selfish backstabbers with bad grammar, if you take the finale of Donald Trump's Apprentice to heart. Randal Pinkett -- last night's winner in the top ranked reality TV show -- made a laughable, but successful argument when asked if Trump should also hire runner-up Rebecca Jarvis.

"," insisted Randal, forever cementing his place in the Verbal Gaffes Hall of Shame, right next to The Potatoe Award for . So let's make it fair and assume the plural of is cactuses.

And as far as Trump's role in the kiss-off? After bragging that he takes hiring very seriously and emphasizing how it's not a game to him, he let someone else dictate a hiring decision on a last minute whim. Mr. Trump? If you really care about hiring the best, you'll find a prominent place for Rebecca in your organization and you won't sweep it under the .

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm Keeping My Day Job

I guess I'm never going to become a helicopter pilot. I'm terrible at navigating a simple Web application that simulates flying up and down to avoid obstacles. But at least it got me laughing.

Fly it for yourself

Saturday, September 24, 2005

You Had Me At Hello

I found HumourNet's list of the "Top 15 and Western Song Titles" -- sure, it's a joke, but I had to stop and read them anyway.

Then I decided to make up my own title parodies. Here's a go...

"You Had Me At Shalom"

"Manischewitz Makes Her Clothes Fall Off"

"Moshe's Got His Purim Goggles On"

"Do You Want Kugel With That?"

"Play Something Klezmer"

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Five Easy Pieces (of Bad Marketing)

My newspaper bill came in the mail today. It's time to renew my subscription to the Arizona Daily Star. Well, I'd like to renew online and save time, money and space, but something is amiss.

Click on each image in order, from left to right, to see my attempts to pay my bill.



I really think everyone in the Star's direct marketing department needs one-on-one training in how to type a URL. Not to mention that some IT manager needs to wake up the yokels in Web support.

You know, it's been a decade since the Web went commercial. You'd think a media outlet would have a clue by now. Aw, heck. It's only a small town newspaper. You can't expect these guys to proofread.

How hard can this be, to get a URL right in 2005? It's not like I'm ordering plain toast, which isn't on the menu.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Spying on Earth

A few years back, one of the "better-known" mapping sites had satellite images. It used to be a hoot to pull up our house and show my daughter.

Everybody and their mother browsed to that site after September 11, just to get a top-down look at the horrible hole in the ground. Then suddenly, one day, the technology was gone. (assumes teenage stance) What a rip-off!

Now the ability to see a bird's eye view of our house is back.

At first glance I'm digging MSN Virtual Earth better than Google Maps: the close up view is closer. The houses are bigger and the pictures are clearer. -- Search Engine Lowdown

To the Moon, Google! To the Moon!

These days, I'm working on a team tasked with putting together a new Web site and along with it, a team blog. So I started to look around the Web at different team blogs and found some very interesting concepts.

Uhhh....wait. That wasn't where I was originally going with this post. (pause)

Well, to make a long story short, I stopped by the Google Blog and read a recent post on a .

After our satellite maps integration was completed, Chikai, a Google engineer, had time to make his lunar dream a reality -- sort of. -- Larry Schwimmer, Software Engineer

Then I clicked through...

In honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we’ve added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface.
Yeppers...Google has gone extraterrestrial. Check it out.

Google Moon - Lunar Landing Sites

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Murphy's Law of Shopping

I have always had a theory -- I call it "Murphy's Law of Shopping." I'm sure you know this one.

Whatever you buy, whenever you buy it, it will go on sale or you'll find an applicable coupon immediately after your purchase.

Imagine my delight when made "Murphy's Law of Shopping" work in my favor.

Date: 16 Jul 2005 21:49:28 -0700
From: "Amazon.com"
Subject: Your Amazon.com Order for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)

Hello from Amazon.com.

Good news! We've just lowered the price of " and the
Half-Blood Prince" from $17.99 to $16.99.

You don't need to do anything to get the lower price--we are automatically issuing you a $1.00 refund. This refund should be processed in the next few days and will appear as a credit on your next billing statement. We'll also send you a follow-up e-mail to confirm the refund once it has been completed.

Thanks again for shopping at Amazon.com. We hope you enjoy your book!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Let It Snow, Let It Snow Let It Snow


The heat of summer got you down? Yeah, me, too.

Try your hand at these games designed to kill time indoors, courtesy of the folks at Look and Feel New Media.

  • Make-a-Flake - snowflake

  • Buddy Lee Hangman

  • Duncan Man - Yo-Yos

  • Kohl's Crowd Control - Lee Dungarees


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    Friday, June 17, 2005

    Como agua para chocolate

    Bloggers and hot water seem to go together these days. Fortunately, I received an email from the Electronic Frontier Foundation announcing its Legal Guide for Bloggers.

    Bloggers have all of the responsibilities of traditional journalists with a third less calories. --
    The EFF covers liability, bloggers as journalists, and other legal issues. Blogging about political campaigns? Blogging at work? A blogger's life isn't that simple anymore. Unexpected bonus: the RCFP's Tape-Recording Laws at a Glance for podcasters, found as a link under Bloggers' FAQ - Media Access.

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    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    Focus on the Feces

    Holy sh*t! It's a slow news day when the front page story of the Arizona Daily Star is about horse excrement. Not that I want to give my local newspaper the business about its editorial policies, but come on! Are we so tired of the piles of depressing news, like roadside bomb attacks in Iraq, the disappearance of an Alabama honors student and , that real caca has caught our attention? I hope this doesn't signal some type of movement in the news media.

    All of a sudden, the cost of doing business has gone up," said Scott Porter, compliance and enforcement supervisor for the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality. -- Reporter Tom Beal, writing about the lack of disposal options
    Between this story and the Star's recent coverage of the $14 million dollars spent unsuccessfully to eliminate the stench from a local waste treatment plant, I guess critics were right. Tucson is a crappy place to live.

    Like most senior citizens, residents are less interested in world-changing events than they are fascinated by bodily functions. --
    So, Tom...the next time someone asks what you do for a living, you can truthfully answer that you write about crap. Yes, I'm sure you've already heard all the bad puns by now. Don't worry. We're dung now.

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    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    Podcasting - Monkey See, Monkey Do

    Wondering how to create a podcast and get in on the craze? Well, you could come to one of my presentations, for starters. Or maybe you're too intimidated by the tools. Ask your young child to do it for you. I'm sure you can copy anything she does. Just watch her dainty little hands work the microphone on your PC and edit the audio file, all without skipping a beat. (sigh) Feeling a bit old, Dad? How degrading.

    Okay, never mind. It doesn't look good to the boss to drag your kids to work anyway. So here's some real help.

    Podcasting, by Todd Cochrane
    Secrets of Podcasting, by Bart Farkas
    Podcasting For Dummies, by Tee Morris, Evo Terra

    While you're at it, check out my previous post, updated with links to podcasting resources and tutorials.

    Come see my next presentation, if you're in the area.

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    Tracking Trends via the Blogosphere

    Now here's something for all you PR fans...a way to track blog trends. Add this to your list of marketing activities. It'll serve you well.

    Want the latest buzz about what's going on in politics, sports, entertainment or other current events? BlogPulse maps trends by mining the hot topics appearing in millions of blogs. -- Search Engine Watch, Jupitermedia Corporation.

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    Blogs Important to Marketing Strategy

    Last night, I spoke at a meeting of the Inventors Association of Arizona (IAA), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individual inventors get their product to market. My topic? An Insider's Guide to Blogs and Podcasts.

    So this little tidbit in my inbox, an off-shoot of the same topic, was timely.

    The blog has exploded. So much so that Merriam-Webster's Dictionary awarded it "the word of the year" in 2004. In that year, the percentage of Internet users who had read blogs spiked sharply from 17% to 27%. In the US, that translates to 32 million adults. -- via WebProWorld Forums
    Now you're reading this blog, and you may be blogging, as well. But what about your company? Does your company have internal bloggers? Why or why not? Comment here.

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    Fodder for the Politically Incorrect

    When I find a Web site I like, I keep visiting it and visiting it until I've worn my browser down to a nub. Case in point: The Uncyclopedia. If you have a weird sense of humor and don't get offended too easily, check out these recently updated pages:



    Monday, June 06, 2005

    Journos Embrace Blogs

    So much for the debate over journalism vs. blogs. Somebody with journalism clout at the LA Times decided it was time to get on board. Yeah, yeah -- I know. Blogs are another "great equalizer" for non-journalist types, so why are the professionals horning in on the action? Believe it or not, blogs are no longer the exclusive domain of the layperson. (Never mind. I guess you've already noticed...duh!) Yep, blogs have evolved into a mainstream tool of choice for opinionated business execs, PR folk, and tech-savvy journos. As a freelance writer, I've got a viewpoint or two to share. You might have some, too, so why wait? Give it a go and start blogging.

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    The Freelancer's Dream

    If you've been virtually "pounding the pavement" for a few months, trying to land your first freelance writing job, you may have become discouraged...at least once, anyway. You may also wonder if there's any place in this competitive world for writers who go it alone, but recent news confirms freelancers are still in demand.

    The poor business writing skills chronicled of late in national media bodes well for freelance writers, says Peter Bowerman, author of the award-winning "Well-Fed Writer" titles., as quoted in a recent news release
    Looks like there are some lunches out there, waiting to be eaten, by freelancers at least. Perhaps the only thing standing between you and your opportunity is experience, and lots of it. Well, what are you waiting for?

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    Job Sites Often Neglected by Freelancers

    Freelance writing isn't just for those pitching magazines and newspapers created by publishers or news outlets. Other businesses need skilled writers to create content, too. On Monster.com, I spotted a job listing for a Freelance Science Editorial Writer. Applicants need science and technical experience, to be applied to writing monthly magazine articles for a nutritional supplements company. I might not have found this lead if I'd restricted my job hunting to journalism sites and freelance forums.

    Among freelancers, generic job sites are often dismissed as not yielding much in the way of quality writers' leads. Well, you might not find an exact match for the "freelance writer" job title, but if you read further, you could uncover new markets...at least ones you never considered. Here's how. Search Monster.com, Yahoo! HotJobs, CareerBuilder, or your favorite job site with the keyword "freelance." Read each result to carefully uncover the phrase responsible for managing freelance writers., or something to that effect. And now you've got new prospects for your freelance writing queries.

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    Saturday, June 04, 2005

    American Idol Voting Conspiracy

    I had almost lost total faith in humanity (not really) when I heard that the American Idol results were fixed. Johnjay and Rich say it's true so it must be. (scoff) On their Tucson-based broadcast -- once noted as one of the top morning radio shows in the country, according to Radio and Record Magazine -- the DJs claimed the Idol album predicted the winners of the show all along.

    Considering the album had to have been cut weeks ago, that would mean the entire show was fixed from the start, right? At least a month to put the album into production, perhaps. Album release date on Amazon.com? May 17, 2005. Huh! Only a week to go before the show ends. Show finale? May 25, 2005. Hmmmm. Could be. Could be.

    I don't own the album, but I decided to test this theory anyway. I compared the Idol tracks listed on Amazon.com with results on the official show site. So here goes...

    1. Independence Day - Carrie Underwood (Winner On 5/25/05)
    2. I Don't Want to Be - Bo Bice (Voted Off 5/25/05)
    3. Best of My Love - Vonzell Solomon (Voted Off 5/18/05)
    4. A House Is Not A Home - Anwar Robinson (Voted Off 4/20/05)
    5. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - Nadia Turner (Voted Off 4/13/05)
    6. Part-Time Lover - Nikko Smith (Voted Off 4/6/05)
    7. My Funny Valentine - Constantine Maroulis (Voted Off 4/27/05)
    8. Total Eclipse Of The Heart - Jessica Sierra (Voted Off 3/30/05)
    9. Everytime You Go Away - Anthony Fedorov (Voted Off 5/11/05)
    10. Against All Odds - Scott Savol (Voted Off 5/4/05)
    11. Knock on Wood - Lindsey Cardinale (Voted Off 3/16/05)
    12. God Bless the Child - Mikalah Gordon (Voted Off 3/24/05)

    I guess if you only looked at the first three tracks, you could claim something was up. But the remaining tracks reveal a much different story than hinted at by DJs and blog gossips.

    A month ago, it became pretty clear who was going to make it to the final three. (Yeah, sure! I say that now! Ha! Great hindsight.) If Constantine had washed his hair more often, he might not have been voted off on April 27. We crossed our fingers that arrogant Scott would soon be put out of his, and our, misery. He cemented his final place in mediocrity on May 4. And we knew shallow American viewers would only let hole-in-the-throat boy go so far, despite his amazing story and fortitude. Anthony's claim to fame vanished on May 11.

    Those critical eliminations out of the way, there was just enough time for RCA, the music-savvy judges and the American Idol producers to collectively decide the album order, if that's how it happened. And that's my theory.

    Well, so much for conspiracies. Back to something more reliable, like my current issue of the National Enquirer.

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    AD: NetTickets.com is your source for hard-to-find American Idols Tickets. Don't miss all your favorite stars on this summer's tour.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    Deep Throat Revealed

    The Number Two FBI guy in the 70s claims he was the infamous "Deep Throat" cited by Bernstein and Woodward in their expose of President Richard Nixon. The Washington Post confirmed that Mark Felt is indeed the whistleblower. The 91-year-old's adult children convinced him it was time to come forward and get the recognition he deserves before he passes on. His daughter is quoted in some news accounts as advising him to capitalize on his historical fame, mainly to pay some bills and/or his grandchildren's education. Okay, so urging Daddy to come forward wasn't so altruistic after all. <sarcasm>Nice.</sarcasm>

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    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Sith Happens

    Whoever said you can't get an education watching Science Fiction was dead wrong. Ian McDiarmid, who plays evil Chancellor Palpatine in the 2nd Star Wars trilogy, narrates a 70-minute recap of the Star Wars series as part of bonus DVD footage. You'll find the DVD with Sony Classical's original soundtrack recording of the movie. If it's been a while since you looked at the likes of Wookie , R2D2 or 3PO, you might want to come up to speed before you see : Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

    On a side note, I stopped by Blockbuster on the way home tonight. The store manager was putting pre-viewed VHS tapes on sale. Buy two, get one free. I just snagged the first original Star Wars trilogy for $10.00. Oh, yeah!

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    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Going Postal for Vonzell

    USPS Web site American IdolRah, Rah, Sis-boom-bah! The US Postal Service supports its own -- American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon is featured on the main page of the USPS Web site today. I saw the banner when I browsed over to check a zip code.

    Too bad the other contestants don't have this type of backing. Is this fair? Well, ask yourself how many text-messaging teens, who vote for American Idol contestants, check the USPS online regularly. The show is riddled with scandals and accusations anyway. At this point, what difference does it make? May the best singer win.

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    Un-Google Yourself

    Had I known everything I wrote on newsgroups was going to be catalogued for future generations, I might have never posted a thing.

    Too late. Too late. Too late.

    Not only are all my good email addresses clogged with spam from freewheeling it online in the early days, but people can find out who I am in a heartbeat.

    It may be too late for me to preserve my Web anonymity, but it may not be too late for you. Blogger Trevor Snyder of "the will to exist" pointed me to this great document at the EFF, titled "How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)." Make sure you stay a while and read other entries on their blog.

    Read it. Absorb it. Take it to heart.
    The rights you save may be your own.

    Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign

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    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Spam Blogs Pollute Blogosphere

    Pay attention to the stats on the growth of the blogsphere and you'll think blog aficionados have a reason to rejoice. Most of the new blogs I find lately are nothing but spam -- call them fake blogs, spam blogs, spamblogs or splogs, as in a cross between spam and blogs. You decide.

    There is a dark underbelly to these numbers, however: Part of the growth of new weblogs created each day is due to an increase in spam blogs - fake blogs that are created by robots in order to foster link farms, attempted search engine optimization, or drive traffic through to advertising or affiliate sites. -- Sifry's Alerts
    What are spam blogs, you ask? Spam blogs can have one or more of the following characteristics:
    1. Embedded ad banners. No content. No commentary.
    2. Endless links to another site designed to sell you something.
    3. Repetitive keywords, no doubt inspired by the top search terms of the week.
    4. Fake blog entries, with keyword links to so-called related content. I fear these are automated. No human actually reads the sites these splogs link to. For example, for a craftsmaking column, I wrote a piece about creating rosebuds from red cellophane and chocolate drops. The article appears on the Paper Crafts site at BellaOnline.com. In the instructions, I mention using jewelry pliers to create a stem. Lucky me! One of those spam blogs actually linked to the article. The blog's topic? Jewelry. That's right. Jewelry...not chocolate or crafts, but jewelry.

    Even more galling is the fact Technorati Honchos keep touting numbers signaling the Blog Renaissance, yet I can't get the oft-referenced site to recognize I updated this blog weeks ago. Oddly enough, in spite of this Technorati logjam, spam blogs don't appear to suffer this fate. Nuts!

    I'm not the first frustrated person to comment on these spam blogs, as evidenced by the links in this post. I know I won't be the last. There may come a time when major search engines decide to ignore blogs from certain blog service providers. If you're hosting your blog on one of those services, you may have to move your blog and start over with all your blog directory listings. I'm not looking forward to it.

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    Friday, May 13, 2005

    Steve Jobs' Executive Temper Tantrum

    In case you missed it in late April -- well, I did -- Apple and Wiley are butting heads over a no-holds-barred book, titled "iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business." (sighs) Whatever. (snores)

    Like J.D. Lasica, author of the blog alerting me to the story, I'm a Wiley author. And I bought an iPod for my daughter, who happens to enjoy hanging out at the local Apple store. Yeah, well, who cares?

    (takes a deep breath)

    Here are the two questions media watchers have been asking:

    1. Now that Apple Computer has pulled Dummies books from its stores, should Wiley brace itself for a boycott among Apple users, regardless of the retailer?
    2. Or will this retaliation by Jobs' mob simply create buzz, thereby fueling sales of the unauthorized bio?

    Nice strong arm tactic, Mr. Jobs. With the book's release only three days away, let's review how this virtual book burning has backfired already. (Note: I like lists...)
    1. John Wiley & Sons moved up the release date of the controversial book by a month, says Wired News. Wiley's CDA site features the book under the banner "iControversy." Wiley has so many avenues of book distribution, this won't hurt a bit.
    2. The controversial authors are making the promotional rounds. They've already been mentioned and/or interviewed on Fox, CNN, NBC, etc. A Yahoo search of the keywords "Steve Jobs" and "Wiley" produces 45,600 hits.
    3. The San Jose Mercury News says no one would have cared about the book if Mr. Jobs hadn't made such a big stink. Now, everyone's curiosity is peaked. Even if the book tanks, or reveals absolutely nothing new or interesting, the authors will have made their mark.

    After suing bloggers, settling with Eminem over a copyright violation and this, Apple's image has seen better days. If there was ever a lesson to be learned in book PR, it's this: any publicity is good publicity. I'm sure authors Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon would like to shake your hand about now...provided you promise not to punch them out.

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    Justin Timberlake's Voice Finally Changes

    Pop stars develop vocal skills that simultaneously launch them to early fame while predisposing them to a major flame-out later on. What skills, pray tell? How about poor articulation and projection, improper breath support and control, and simply put, downright screaming the ridiculous lyrics to unintelligible songs?

    Unfortunately, the sounds that make a fan swoon can also make a singer sick. And let's not forget that lifestyle mistakes, like alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, can cut short a singing career.

    The point? Well, plenty of professional singers have needed vocal surgery, for various reasons. Look, I'm not making any judgements here. Besides vocal abuse, there may have been other reasons why Rod Stewart had the muscle tissue in his larynx repaired back in 2000, as reported by E! Online. E! said the surgery was of "no consequence to his singing voice." (pause) Wait a minute? Rod Stewart can sing?

    And what of little Justin Timberlake and his damaged pipes? On May 5, JRT had surgery to remove benign vocal lesions, reveals E! Online. The erstwhile 'N Sync front man will need three months to recover. Awwww, please don't cry. Meanwhile, visit the official 'N Sync site, if you haven't seen it. The site hasn't been updated in a year, but it's still very cool!

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    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Contextual Advertising Preaches Results

    yahoo group ad sponsorWhat the...? I just updated the description to one of my discussion groups related to media. After enlarging the window to take a screen shot for this blog entry, I noticed the contextual ads displayed on the page were a bit strange. If I understand this ad placement correctly, my naive selection of keywords for my Yahoo! Group description resulted in strategically-placed ads for bible study.

    Geez. Is someone trying to tell me something?

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    Overzealous Stage Mom Shares Video

    My daughter Kaity sings alto in the Women's Chorus at her high school. Last night, she had a solo in the last choral concert of the year. Admittedly, I have no objectivity over the quality of her performance, like I give a damn. In my view, Kaity only had one goal -- face her fears. After a rough couple of years, where we've all had to deal with far too much, this is a personal milestone for her. A little bit of success is a good thing. This summer, Kaity will star in a musical. In another proud moment, she scored a 94% 95% on her last algebra test, and she's taking science in summer school. Take that, Harvard President Lawrence Summers.

    Kaity's Solo
    "The Boy from New York"
    Tucson, Arizona
    May 2005


    If you'd like to experience the moment, click the photo to start the video clip. If you're unable to view it, you may need to download the QuickTime player.

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    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Be Afraid Leg Hair. Be Very Afraid.

    I received another manufacturer's sample in the mail today. This one came unsolicited. It was the Schick Quattro for Women, courtesy of the frequent shopper card I registered at the local Bashas' grocery store. This little goodie runs about $8.99 retail. After dutifully mining Bashas' customer database, they figured a woman was making the buying decisions. I guess my relinquishing the final vestiges of personal privacy is finally paying off. How nice.

    I must have been asleep in between product introductions. At what point did we skip the three-bladed razor in favor of four? Last I remember, I was cautiously shaving in the shower with a double-bladed plastic piece of crap. How come one or two accidental slices across the shin wasn't quite enough? At what point did Schick decide it really wanted to maim women?

    They must be crazy to think I'm going to fall for a ridiculous marketing trap like that. [peels back label] Hmmm. A $2.00 coupon. [thinks] Sure, I could give it a go.

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    Friday, May 06, 2005

    Wanted - Pedophiles with Bad Knees

    When pedophiles get older, it must be harder for them to kneel behind the bushes near their local high school, to sneak a peak at the luscious lovelies on parade. That's why sites like MySpace.com have popped up, mainly as online communities for the teen-to-30 set, but mostly it just feeds the frenzy of older creeps migrating to the Web. If you've never heard of it, it's a poorly designed, 14-million-member-strong portal for blogging and social networking.

    <TV announcer voice>

    Now you can stalk gullible teens from the comfort of your own home. Stop worrying about hurting your back or knees while crouching near the bus stop. Best of all, most parents don't have a clue what their kids are doing online. Log on now and get lonely jailbait to reveal , just by pretending to be her friend.

    Log on within the next 30 minutes and you can use our free teen chat generator to avoid clumsy introductions. Just cut-and-paste this editable text into any IM window.

    Wild_Eros69: Wow! You're a stud/babe. I really like your abs/boobs. My friends tell me I look like Orlando Bloom/Britney Spears. You can see sexy cool pics of me wearing a hot dress/Speedo/nothing right here.
    </TV announcer voice>

    And if it weren't for young girls posting lewd photos on services like MySpace.com, pedophiles would have almost no real content to peruse. Well, except for this enlightening post.

    moms f***ing suck!!!!
    Current mood: pissed off

    my mother f***ing sucks! she took my cell phone away from me!!!! so now if you have get a hold me you can't call my cell (310) 62x xxxx... you have to call the house! (310) 39x xxxx!!!!! oh by the way i'm never really home! i'm soooooo pissed. i can't use my house phone because they took that outta my room! how the f*** does she expect me to talk to my friends and have a f***ing life!??! god i never wanna talk to her again!
    Well, at least this post was more coherent than most.

    [stands up and applauds Mom]

    Not everyone is happy with MySpace's blogging tools, as evidenced by comments of former MySpace cadets. Meanwhile, the PR folks at MySpace.com have been working overtime to inform the public about the site's finer points. In Fall 2004, R.E.M. debuted a new album on MySpace.com. This week, Nixon Nation claimed its records sales have soured soared, thanks to MySpace.com. And Weezer's first album in three years debuts on MySpace this week. (via PRWeb.com)

    As much as I hate to admit it, they must be doing something right.

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    Steer Clear of Drive-By Advertising

    The marketing side of my brain says this is a great way to reach customers, especially outside convention centers or at crowded community events. The cynical consumer side of my brain says this is an accident waiting to happen.

    With distracted drivers making the news daily, it's amazing that rotating billboard trucks are still legal on city thoroughfares. It's not the size of the ad, so much as the motion, that entices you to gaze and watch the ads change. And while I don't mind rubbernecking as an intrigued passenger, it's not the same safe experience when I'm a driver.

    Your ad can't be tuned out, turned down, switched off or thrown away like other conventional advertising. -- Billboards In Action Web Site
    I'll grant them that. For many drivers, the ad can't be tuned out. Take it from me. I was there.

    Click to enlarge these photos, shot by my passenger-side teenager while we were driving between school and home. With panels rotating every few seconds, there's no question this version of mobile outdoor advertising got my attention. But at what cost? I had to remind myself to focus on the nearby traffic instead of trying to sneak a peak at the morphing rectangles. Meanwhile, a teen driver in the adjacent lane was so distracted, he cut off another car when he changed lanes. It was damn nervewracking. I was relieved when the truck took a left turn off the beaten path.

    We're such a litigious society, it's only a matter of time before someone sues the pants off a media outlet like this, or its advertising clients, after he veers off the road or has a related traffic accident.

    A word to the wise. Steer clear.

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    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Jesus Saves, Moses Invests

    Today is National Prayer Day, so what better way to celebrate than to blog about a related bit of minced media?

    This morning, I was surfing through the endless plethora of cable offerings when I came upon a curious infomercial; Reverend Peter Popoff touting the features of his miracle spring water. Not one to ignore an avenue of distribution, Popoff owns a Web site where you can order your own sample of the supernatural liquid.

    Popoff isn't the first religious snake oil salesman to hawk healing water. Back in 2003, Evangelist Leroy Jenkins stopped distributing his version of magic H2O when the Ohio Department of Agriculture revealed it contained a special ingredient -- coliform bacteria. Holy Sh*t!

    Now back to Popoff's TV drivel. Parading an endless supply of satisfied customers past the cameras, Popoff's production crew highlighted folks miraculously cured of breathing problems, joint pain, and being bedridden due to obesity. Okay, forget about that last cure. The woman is still morbidly overweight, so I sincerely hope she prays for credible medical and nutritional guidance soon.

    No word yet on whether miracle spring water cures gullibility stupidity.

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    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Young Man, Now Give Me That Knife

    I've been dreaming about opening up an e-commerce store. Problem is, I don't feel like putting up all that money to buy stuff. What if I sucked at retail and was stuck with a bunch of crap I'd have to mark down eventually? Not that I wouldn't want to make money, but isn't there a legal way I can sell good stuff without having to buy anything? After all, the government is doing it.

    Case in point: If you were stupid enough to go through airport security since 9/11 with contraband in your coat pocket, you remember forfitting that knife your late Dad once gave you. The airport dudes took it away when you absent-mindedly entered the checkpoint without reviewing your carry-ons beforehand. No, the officials didn't care a rats bum about your sob story, dumbass. You blew it and you haven't seen the knife since.

    Are you totally out of luck? Maybe. Maybe not. If you're quick and you search long and hard, you might spot it on eBay.

    Everybody loves an auction, especially the NTSA. The nice thing about seeing the government tap into the benefits of e-commerce? It didn't spend taxpayers' collective monies to launch its impromptu hardware store. Nice, lucrative e-retail business, eh, guys? Damn! Wish I'd thought of it first. (eBay/NTSA link via Boing Boing, via Aaron Engelhart)

    The good news? Now there's more money for the war on terrorism, courtesy of airline travellers who apparently live with their heads in the sand.
    By the way, it could have been worse. You could have lost some prohibited personal hygiene items on your trip, like nail clippers. In that case, if you were planning to be nice and fresh for that job interview in the morning, good luck with that.


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    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Stand-Up Comedy and the First Lady

    When something amazing or outrageous happens in politics, you can count on traditional media to be there first. One thing's for sure. Bloggers took a back seat to journalists on Laura Bush's comedic debut at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner on April 30.

    Take a gander at all the coverage (below)...and I barely scratched the surface. The buzz could outstrip anything we've seen from the White House to date. I have to admit I admire her moxy.

    Quick Quiz:
    The First Lady took comedic pot-shots at her Presidential hubby in an an effort to show:
    1. She's human
    2. She's a smart cookie
    3. There's nothing critics can say about Dubya that she doesn't already know.

    Yep, pollsters. The First Lady gets the joke...or jokes. Or at least she was able to deliver the lines scripted for her by political joke writer Landon Parvin. Admittedly, the veteran presidential speech scribe coached Mrs. Bush on the finer points of stand-up delivery.

    Peruse the various accounts of Mrs. Bush's presentation:
  • New York Times via San Francisco Chronicle
  • Hollywood.com
  • USA Today
  • LA Times
  • Fox News
  • Reuters via Yahoo! News
  • NY Daily News
  • Ad Age
  • Washington Post
  • International Herald Tribune


  • Today, there was no end to headlines that characterized Laura Bush's recent appearance as "comic timing." A former stand-up comedienne myself, I have to scratch my head in wonder. What was the White House thinking? Maybe they plan to pit Laura Bush against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the next run for the White House.

    [Note to Self: Nah! Don't be ridiculous.]

    Kinda reminds me of (once upon a time) Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The future King's popularity was often overshadowed by his gracious and well-loved wife. Sorry, there was no happy ending for the Princess. And the Bush situation is another fairy tale entirely.

    [Note to Self: Check out the coverage on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It should be a hoot. ]

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    Saturday, April 30, 2005

    Tool du Jour - Customized RSS News Feeds

    Today, someone asked for my address so they could snail mail news releases. I replied that I prefer email or RSS feeds. I expect PR folks to offer RSS feeds to their press archives eventually. But I want them now! I'm cobbling together bookmarks for creating my own custom RSS news feeds. Now I can add them to tools like My Yahoo!, Bloglines, Newsburst or Newsgator.

    Amazon.com Product-Specific RSS Feeds (via yaywastaken via blogtricks)

    Suggest your own newsource (Example: mobile marketing)
    NewsXS generates an immediately accessible RSS feed for any search term you use...create a personalized RSS newsfeed based on five "keyphrases." (via Robin Good)

    Wired News: RSS Feeds
    Add the term of your choice after the 'query=' variable and include the '&format=rss' in the query string. (Example)

    Yahoo! News Search RSS URL Generator (via Jeremy Zawodny's blog)
    Enter your own search terms to create custom RSS feeds of Yahoo News stories.

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    Virtual Cup of Coffee

    My cousin Tom emailed me the following link to a silly little Flash application found on Cartoline.net, a graphics and animation firm located in Bologna, Italy. Have a free cup of coffee on the Web!

    1. CLICK ON THE LINK COFFEE MACHINE
    2. PUT THE COIN IN THE VENDING MACHINE
    3. CHOOSE YOUR DRINK
    4. CLICK ON THE CUP WHEN IT IS READY
    5. CLICK ON "APRI" (This one is very important; don't forget!)

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    Thursday, April 28, 2005

    Ultimate Blogger Dangles $500 Carrot

    Calling all reality show fans! Today is the last day to enter The Ultimate Blogger Competition.

    Hello Prospective Ultimate Bloggers! We all loved all the applications that are coming in. We have received over 200 apps so far, so it's gonna be really hard to whittle them down to the 12 who will be in the challenge. Keep 'em coming, we know there are more ultimate bloggers out there. Deadline is 8pm (PDT) on Friday, April 29th 2005."
    They are "promoting the hell out of it," says one of the organizers in a podcast. And no, I can't be accused of shilling for them. I'm not even adding Technorati tags to this post.
    Yes, I entered, not that I think I have a chance, but it was fun to be a smart alec while answering their questionnaire. I was waiting for my hair to dry anyway. Here are my answers, cut-and-pasted from the form before I hit SUBMIT (please forgive my sloppy typos):

    E-Mail Address:
    kimbayne@yahoo.com

    Name (First & Last):
    kim bayne

    Sex:
    yes. um...(lowers head, embarrassed for cliched response)...female, defintely female

    Race:
    used to run 10k...damn! must be in the stand-up comedienne mode. hold on. (switches seats) there, much better. i'm white. i'm soooo white.

    Current Blog (if any):
    Minced Media http://mincedmedia.blogspot.com

    Education:
    masters in computer resources management, but it doesn't matter. i don't remember anything from school.

    Occupation(s):
    a best-selling author on technology and marketing, professional freelance writer, conference speaker, former public radio host, former marketing communications executive, occasional crafts artisan, and cynical nitpicker who shares her thoughts with no one in particular.

    3 Favorite URLs:
    well, this one, of course. then there's slate.com, combover.com and jibjab.com

    Places You Have Lived:
    east coast, southeast, southwest, Germany, Cyberspace

    Do You Have a Digital Camera (what kind)?
    yeppers. 5.0 MP rez KODAK EASYSHARE DX4530 Zoom Digital Camera

    A URL to a picture of yourself (or email one):
    http://pic18.picturetrail.com/VOL927/2165286/4225333/60745570.jpg

    Do you use PC or Mac?
    PC but used to use a Mac. still have it for sentimental reasons. it's a dinosaur.

    Cats or Dogs?
    (cat kat chat Katze gato)
    they don't slobber and they have an attitude, just like me
    .

    How did you Hear about Ultimate Blogger?
    sorry, if i told you i'd have to kill you. ummm. that was a real question, right? can't you check your referral logs.? geez. do i have to do your work for you?

    Are you single? Seeing Someone? Married? Divorced? Other?
    married with teenager daughter. i think he's still hot after all these years.

    Have you ever been in a fist-fight?
    no, not that i can remember. i once punched a guy in the jaw for grabbing my boob. okay. i guess you can call that a fist fight, but it was only one punch.

    Who did you vote for in the last three presidential elections?
    Kerry Clinton...wait that's a trick question to see how old i am, right? DAMN!

    What music is playing in your own personal hell?
    feelings (ewwww i need some Tums just thinking about that song)

    Do you own a car? What kind?
    i gotta red car

    Do you hate anyone?
    no. takes too much energy to do that. i don't want to waste my time. besides i'm a big enough ass at times that enough people take up energy in the hate continuum bitching about ME.

    What do you like on your pizza?
    pineapple 'shrooms

    Do you believe in any G/god(s)?
    depends on whether i'm feeling depressed or not. it's easier to believe in G-d when things are going your way.

    Why are you going to win The Ultimate Blogger?
    i'm a pathological liar

    What other question should we be asking, and what is your answer?
    what's your most disgusting personal habit? i pee in the shower. yeah, i know. too much information.


    Yeah, I know. You could do better on the answers. Just about anyone could do better than I did on the questions, so big deal.

    By the time you read this entry, it will be too late to enter, I'm guessing. But check it out anyhoo, regardless of when you read this, since the competition should be interesting to follow. They're encouraging folks to do some of the challenges on their own, even if they don't make the cut.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    Silly Rabbit. Slogans Are For Kids!

    Now isn't this a cool tool? Tired of racking your brain to come up with something creative? Want some hackneyed but familiar phrases to promote your next product release or event? Try Sloganizer, the slogan generator. Refresh this page a couple of times to see how it changes.

    generated by sloganizer.net

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    Business Blogs Beat Opt-In Email

    How can marketers join the current blog (Weblog) craze by serving, rather than alienating, potential and current customers? Find out at "A Marketer's Guide to Blogging," by Kim M. Bayne, to be presented at the IABC/Tucson Luncheon on May 5, 2005. IABC/Tucson is a local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

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    Sit In My Lap and See What Pops Up

    I've always associated pop-up windows with porn. I'm not talking about windows that appear because the visitor actively chose to click on a link that was labeled appropriately. I'm talking about windows that pop-up without warning and repeatedly pop-up uncontrollably, like a hormonal teenage boy at the beach.

    Most users choose to ignore these interruptions and go on their surfing way. But when the user becomes bombarded, (s)he is forced to close all the extra windows or, in the case of more aggressive sites, CTRL-ALT-DEL. Thank goodness Pop-Up Blockers save the day.

    And yet, some marketers just don't get it. They try to outwit visitors who enable blockers. Independent software vendor AntsSoft just released Wise Popup, software that helps ethically-challenged Webmasters create unblockable pop-up windows. Oh, goody!

    So I went to the site to check it out. [click on image to enlarge, note pop-up window] Funny thing about illiterate marketers. Their mispellings misppellings misspellings are more entertaining than their ridiculous product messages.

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    Tuesday, April 26, 2005

    Don't Bogart That Blackberry, My Friend

    Constant interruptions throughout the day, like emails and text messages, are more detrimental to a person's IQ than marijuana, reports CNN. And to think I was dissuaded from a toke or two after hearing about the health effects of cannabis.

    After reviewing a recent survey on workplace interruptions (completed by TNS Research, commissioned by Hewlett Packard) and the clinical studies of a psychiatrist (at King's College London University), I've decided to scale back the number of times I access my inbox during the day. Instead, I'll just sneak a doobie in the John.

    What?

    Yes, it's for my glaucoma.

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    You Have The Right To Remain Nosy

    I subscribe to my local newspaper's newsletter, made possible by StarNet, the online service of the Arizona Daily Star. Rarely do I have the time to sit down and read the real paper, except on weekends. The daily email is a quick way to keep up with what's happening around town. If a U.F.O. lands in Sabino Canyon, I may miss the actual event, but I'll get to read about it a day later.

    Today, these news snippets caught my attention:

    NewsTalk
    What should be depicted on the back of the Arizona quarter to be minted in 2008? Gov. Janet Napolitano said she wants schoolchildren to be part of the selection process.
    [thinks] Mention to Kaity. She might have some ideas. Deadline? Nah, enough to do.

    Pet abandonment hits peak in May
    Pets are abandoned year-round in Tucson when their owners move away, but in May the problem gets a little worse. That's when departing college students, snowbirds and locals going on summer vacation leave pets behind...
    [thinks] Oh, my God! What's wrong with people? [walks over to cat, pets him lovingly, returns to computer] Tucson!

    New for commuters: Accident reports, live traffic cams and police scanner!
    Before you head out the door, listen to police and fire department radio transmissions while you check the traffic via remote cameras and a list of recent accidents.
    "The live audio feed scans Tucson-area police, fire and other agencies' radio transmissions," reads the blurb on the scanner page. I click through and turn up my computer speakers, focusing in on what appeared to be the police communications. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the different public safety transmissions.

    [thinks] Like listening to the pilot channel on an airplane. Kinda interesting. [yawns] I guess. [yawns, interest peaks, listens] Child abuse investigation. Nine-month pregnant woman having trouble breathing. Car parked in the middle of the road with a male slumped over the wheel. (Some guy) harassing patrons in the parking lot. Morse code? Person with medical problems hasn't been heard from in a couple of days. Huh? Gun shots? 41-year-old male DOA. Morse code? Go down the alley! Go down the alley! Police chase. Cardiac arrest. Walk through schoolyard to make sure bad guy didn't dump a gun in it.

    Just singling out the police broadcasts was amazing enough. I didn't grow up in a law enforcement family. I don't know anyone in law enforcement personally. But I am totally amazed at this unedited peek into their lives. Somehow, the reality is more riveting than the Hollywood versions passed off as entertainment.

    If you listen to a police scanner long enough, in just about any municipality, eventually you'll begin to appreciate the daily stress, never-ending responsibilities and amazing dedication of police officers.

    I kept the Web-based scanner on for a couple of hours while I answered email, researched and wrote, took phone calls, and in general, went about my daily business. Thanks to the Web, I shared in someone else's real-life danger (remotely) and now, I am in awe.

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    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Seder It Isn't So

    This week, we counted a handful of TV programs we wished would've aired later in the day, long after bedtime, if at all possible. We also noted a few commercials that should have waited as well. Counted among the indiscrete ad spots were Rx and OTC products for feminine itch, hemorrhoids, herpes, and (for cryin' out loud) erectile dysfunction.

    [whispers] Did you know China doesn't allow such TV ads during dinner? Okay. I admit, we don't want to model everything they do.

    When our child was younger, these pieces of prime time minced media went "over her head" without much notice. Now that she's a teen, none of this dreck can sneak by without a reaction. When the TV is on -- and when isn't it? -- my husband and I are often jarred with sounds of loud, uncontrolled laughter or rude remarks ad nauseum. Our living room becomes a raunchy nightclub, complete with its own underage stand-up comedienne...all of it thanks to the rocket scientists who schedule embarrassing material when kids are most likely to watch. And while I'm bellyaching kvetching about mainstream TV and our failure, as parents, to teach manners to our tomboy, let's not forget those short mentions of bodily functions on less-noticed shows.

    As Israel prepares to celebrate Passover, even the country's gorillas have gone Kosher. In keeping with the Jewish tradition of not touching any wheat products during Passover, zoo keepers at the (Ramat Gan) Safari Park Zoo near Tel-Aviv are feeding their gorillas a weeklong menu of Matzoh (Matzoh, Matza?). Although the gorillas are accustomed to the annual change of diet, it does bring the unfortunate side effect of constipation. -- Early Today (NBC), Fri Apr 22 2005
    And I wanted to know that because...? In other words -- let's add two and two together here, folks -- every Jew observing Passover is cranky because...


    Oy Gevalt! So, in honor of Passover starting tomorrow at sundown, and the obvious intestinal fortitude of Jews worldwide, whad'ya say? Let's break out the Phillips Milk of Magnesia and drink a toast to the chimps of Safari Park Zoo!


    BTW, the preceding bit of zoo news is much kinder than the one seen on CNN Headline News and MSNBC-TV, about the chimp in an African zoo who chain smokes, much to the delight of the fershtinkiner zoo patrons who throw lit cigarettes to him. Okay. We're done. Stop kibitzing and browse somewhere else.

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    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    The Low Brow Effect

    Lately, I just can't get enough of rich blond bimbos who flaunt their lack of breeding. Maybe it's because it's more lighthearted to hear than the sordid details of an over-exposed (yes, it's a bad pun) 40-something pedophile. Or maybe it's that inescapable need to experience schadenfreude once again. You see, when I'm feeling raggedy and unappealing, I want to know there's someone out there less fortunate than me. And who isn't less fortunate than the well-known exhibitionists starring in "The Simple Life: Interns" (Fox).

    What brought this on, you ask? Paris Hilton just announced that she and Nicole Richie are no longer pals, buds, chums or even peeps. Not that I care a rat's bum about pampered tramps and their pissy catfights. Hilton's future casting plans for the not-so-reality show (um...is Hilton a producer?) include ousting Richie in favor of another equally shallow tart named Kimberly Stewart, daughter of singer Rod Stewart. Can you say co-star trend?

    Okay. I'll retract some of that last statement. In March, when Nicole Richie appeared on "The View" (ABC), she handled herself quite well. She was dressed professionally, poised and articulate. She even appeared humble after taking to the piano to play one of Dad Lionel Richie's songs. She didn't say one bad word, that I remember. So she's not always an ill-mannered twit -- she justs plays one on TV.

    Wait! I feel a song coming on.

    VELMA:
    Whatever happened to fair dealing?
    And pure ethics
    And nice manners?
    Why is it everyone now
    Is a pain in the ass?
    Whatever happened to class?


    MATRON:
    Class.
    Whatever happened to, "Please, may I?"
    And, "Yes, thank you"?
    And, "How charming"?
    Now every son of a b**ch
    Is a snake in the grass?
    Whatever happened to class?

    -- "Class," Chicago the Musical, sung by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah in the movie

    Whoops! I'm getting off track. Back to Kimberly Stewart, who might replace Richie on the show (Fox denies the news, for now). Since I didn't know the new PYT (Pretty Young Thing) by reputation, I searched for Kimberly Stewart on Yahoo! Images. No, I wasn't interested in facts. I wanted to put a face with a name.

    I have to admit I'm a big fad prude. I wasn't impressed when I saw a scantily-clad Stewart posing on the catwalk with both middle fingers extended and a cigarette dangling from her lips. My teenager -- who gleefully pleaded with me to show her the photo -- refers to this common hand gesture as "the cactus," presumably because of a poorly painted picture I once created in a watercolor class. Meanwhile, I can't help but think this rebellious display is the least of Stewart's flaws. By the time she gets into her 40s 30s, the disadvantages of smoking will far outweigh the mindless fashion statement, especially when her face resembles a dried-up apple. Oh, joy!

    Apparently, I'm a big fat two-faced prude with no self-control, too. I had to look at the photo -- a couple of times at least -- like I was rubber-necking at a car wreck during rush hour. I'm a bit amazed at my lack of self-control. It's not like Americans are brainwashed into accepting garbage as entertainment, is it? Nah, can't be.

    Last year, I became more self-conscious in my efforts to avoid tacky programming and related news briefs. The reason? At the very least, I was trying to model appropriate behavior for my daughter. (I've since found out I'm too late.)

    I'm getting really good at channel-fleeing whenever I "accidentally" surf to shows like NBC's "Fear Factor" (known as "Gag Factor" in our house), ABC's "The Bachelor" (a sorry commentary on the state of dating in the 21st Century), and UPN's seemingly-rigged beauty competition "America's Next Top Model." For reality TV, I prefer inspirational stories like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (ABC), which demonstrates there's still good in the world, even when it results in huge endorsement deals for the host (a hottie by some standards) Ty Pennington.

    Finally, I do recognize there's a real market for Peeping Tom entertainment, which is why these awful shows and news reports still dog us, season after season after draining season. The public can't get enough of obscene behavior, beautiful young people with bad attitudes, and the hosts and producers who manipulate them. Oh, the humanity! I guess that's why semi-scripted reality TV is here to stay. Or at least some trumped-up version of it.

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    Did You Remember To Wipe? Asks Google

    Citing its target audience as users with "very good computer hygiene," (gee, nice analogy) Mountain View-based Google just announced its new feature for users who can't get enough of companies prying into their personal habits. My Search History, which just launched yesterday -- yes, yesterday -- allows users to review their surfing, just in case they have a brain fart and can't keep track on their own.

    Okay. Okay. I admit this is a great tool for business travelers who don't have access to their browser history. And if people are careful about separating personal surfing from business surfing, they don't have much to worry about, right? (pause) Strike that non sequitur. Who does that anyway? Whatever.

    None of this matters to me anyway. I use an application that deletes my cookies, files, cache and history. If it's worth remembering, I bookmark it. And I carry a copy of my bookmarks on my USB external drive for easy access on the go.

    Freedom of Curiosity and The American Way
    But unlike me, if you lack the anal retentive gene, just take a whiff of the negative possibilities. Library records are subpoenaed and browser histories are scrutinized more frequently these days, by employers and law enforcement agencies alike. You're not doing anything illegal or immoral, you say? According to whom? It's only a matter of time before the Thought Police tap into this new Google search puppy, exploiting it's potential and misinterpreting stored data. In this Age of Neo-McCarthyism, I just can't see how the benefits of sharing my surfing history with a business entity outweighs the benefits of keeping it to myself. Sure, it's another cool tool to explore, but I'm not seduced just yet.

    Aside from the obvious e-presence benefits for Google, why are they offering this free service? Apparently there's "some value in providing people with visibility into their past activity," so says Marissa Mayer, the company's director of consumer Web products. Gee. Only some value? And how much time did Google spend to develop this? Privacy experts are not amused. Neither are sophisticated users, who are sick of intrusive cookies and spyware. [scoffs] Please get a clue.

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    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Fan Mail From Some Flounder - Blog Flames

    This just in! Some people give you feedback if you blog.

    Today I received email from someone who believes my blogging style needs major improvement. [sigh] I know. I know. Like the majority of bloggers, no one looks over my shoulder and prompts me to revise my prose. It just comes out on the page the way I think and feel at the moment. Currently, I'm not taking any psychotropic drugs to level out the moods, either. And I guess I should be thankful someone is reading this stuff.

    From: [hidden] [symbol] aol [symbol] com
    Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 6:48:22 EDT
    Subject: Minced Media Blog
    To: kimbayne [symbol] yahoo [symbol] com

    Your blog sidebar claims you are a best-selling author. I can't imagine what you could have written that gave you this honor. Perhaps it was a mass market paperback about some vacuous pop star. Why do you write like an illiterate teenager?

    Because I can.

    Addendum: I guarantee my blogging isn't nearly as annoying as Tom Green's.

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    Tools for the Lazy Blogger

    I often play around with other blog hosting services and tools, just to get a feel for them.

    Now isn't the following idea just lame? At Flooble, you can use an Instant Blog Post Generator to create a post so you don't have to think of what to write. And the point of having a blog is...? How lazy can you be? Here's the post it generated for me.

    I think I despise my brother Junior. On weekends he is quite demented, and today he just fascinated me... I asked for his support talking to someone about art in today's cut-throat corporate world, but he was like:

    "Damn! Don't tell me you're into today's cut-throat corporate world too!"

    At first I interrupted "GET OUT!" but just now I just stopped yelling. After all, he *is* my brother and he wants what is best for me...

    Link of the day: WMD Counter Randomly generated by Flooble Instant Blog Post Generator

    This tool is really a joke, right? The folks at Flooble share an ironic edge to their funny bone. (At least, I give them the benefit of the doubt.) If one point of writing a blog is to share one's personality, perhaps a blogger who routinely uses a post generator needs all the help he can get.

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    Sunday, April 17, 2005

    The Shoe's on the Other Foot

    If you want to improve the quality of your blogging, try linking to published articles and other traditional content. When you support your blog points with information found in e-libraries like HighBeam Research, you can link to facts and detailed information your blog readers might not find on other blogs, so they tell me. Imagine that. Traditional media still has a purpose.

    We all know about blogging etiquette and how we provide resource credit to other blogs via links. It's one big community out there. I have my favorite bloggers, just like you. And it's great to share opinions across the blogosphere...to a point. But sometimes opinions on a topic can be formed entirely on the basis of the rumor mill, as in "he said, she said, then he said." In that case, something's missing.

    Sometimes I just blog off the top of my head with no supporting documentation. But sometimes I like to be more thoughtful, show all sides of an issue and raise the blog writing bar. In that case, I often include links to traditional media in my entries. See? Traditional media isn't dead. It's just reinventing itself.

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