Jun 092010
 

Boy and Moose

See? So nobody tell me I’m wasting my time on WoW, dig? I’m learning valuable life skills….

Hans Jørgen Olsen, a 12-year-old Norwegian boy, saved himself and his sister from a moose attack using skills he picked up playing the online role playing game World of Warcraft.

Hans and his sister got into trouble after they had trespassed the territory of the moose during a walk in the forest near their home. When the moose attacked them, Hans knew the first thing he had to do was ‘taunt’ and provoke the animal so that it would leave his sister alone and she could run to safety. ‘Taunting’ is a move one uses in World of Warcraft to get monsters off of the less-well-armored team members.

Once Hans was a target, he remembered another skill he had picked up at level 30 in ‘World of Warcraft’ – he feigned death. The moose lost interest in the inanimate boy and wandered off into the woods. When he was safely alone Hans ran back home to share his tale of video game-inspired survival.

source

Mar 292010
 

appletabletb99Looks like the iPad might make it to our house on or before the release date of 0403! Oh and hey, that’s a grand thing as it’s Dan’s birthday! I guess the early adopters will get their new toy on schedule.

Mar 162010
 

OSHey Corporate America. Read or Listen to this segment on NPR. It’s all about how if you trust your employees to run their own lives that they’ll become more productive – FOR YOU. Really.

A public agency in Minnesota is engaged in a cutting-edge experiment with flexible work schedules. It’s called a results-only work environment, and it gives everyone in an office ultimate freedom to do their jobs — whenever and wherever they want — so long as the work gets done.

Feb 232010
 

cypressThough gulf coast wetlands face serious threats from coastal land loss and development, widespread clear cutting of cypress forests is also a very imminent danger.

In the past cypress mulch used to be a by-product of lumber mills. This is no longer true. The mulch purchased today comes from wide spread clear cutting of entire eco systems.

Loggers are operating with little to no oversight. No state laws exist to protect Louisiana’s state tree; some that are more than 1,000 years old.

A mixed message: State and Federal Officials are asking our nation for billions of dollars to restore Louisiana’s coast. However, it’s not clear whether our cypress forests, which help to combat coastal erosion, are adequately protected from logging under current state and federal laws.

So people, don’t buy the cypress mulch. Buy pine bark nuggets instead or use pine straw. Really. Do this please.

Find out more @ saveourcypress.org

Feb 092010
 

nighthawksThe Hopper Project

WNEP Theater brings to life a mosaic of characters inspired by the paintings of American realist artist Edward Hopper.  Presented in a series of vignettes and short moments written by WNEP company members, a cast of seventeen actors follow Hopper’s New York from dawn to dark and thrust the audience into the quiet desperation and dark comedy of the city.

Written by Mary Jo Bolduc, Jen Ellison, Bob Fisher, Tom Flanigan, Don Hall, Merrie Greenfield, Joe Janes, Cholley Kuhaneck, Rebecca Langguth

Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper, Directed by Don Hall
January 15 – February 21
Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m.
No performance on Friday, February 12, due to the holiday
Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph Street
Tickets: $20 general admission; $15 for seniors and students

www.dcatheater.org or (312) 742-TIXS (8497)

This project is presented in association with Chicago DCA Theater

Feb 032010
 

carwashMark Barret over at Ditchwalk penned an astute article on advertising. What he reveals in it is something so obvious that I’m thinking it gets overlooked. Anyway, I found it interesting even though I really do like the western bacon cheeseburger over at Carl’s Jr.

You’re watching TV. A commercial comes on for a product that is in no way related to sex. Despite the obvious disconnect the commercial itself is entirely about sex. You’re not surprised, of course, because there’s nothing new about this. Sex has been selling products other than sex since products other than sex have been sold. The current sex-obsessed Axe body spray commercials are simply an updating of the Hai Karate commercials of yesteryear. Granted, today’s commercials demonstrate a greater corporate tolerance for pseudo-pornographic content, but that’s primarily a function of the increased difficulty of attracting eyeballs in the digital age. We’re not looser than we used to be: we’re just more desperate for attention.  

So sex sells. That’s nothing new. But the use of sex to sell nonsexual products is also a tell. To understand what you’re being told when you see sex in a commercial for a nonsexual product, you need to know Barrett’s First Law of Marketing:

When your product is indistinguishable from the competition, add sex.

Carl’s Jr., for example, feeds dead cows to their customers — as does Wendy’s, McDonalds and Burger King, to name the leading competitors in the beef category of the fast-food industry. In order to differentiate their brand and distract customers from the grisly reality of their business, Carl’s Jr. could tout the fact that they use a specific kind of dead cow, as with the Black Angus commercial war that broke out recently, or they could call attention to some other aspect of their food service. But all such product-related marketing choices would be shades of gray in a market category dominated by gray.

To get real brand recognition for an indistinguishable product in a generic market you need to do something radical — like mate a partially nude, gyrating, grinding, blond bimbo to a bucket of suds, so nature can take its course with whatever demographic (dad and his wallet) you’re trying to attract. That’s how everything from toasters to antiperspirant to shoes to cars to dental floss to insurance to fast food becomes steeped in curves and innuendo. It’s not that sex sells everything, it’s that sex helps sell stuff that otherwise cannot compete on its own merits.

Which leads us to the inverse of Barrett’s First Law of Marketing:

If sex is used to market a nonsexual product, that product is generic.

Any time you see sex added to a product that is not inherently sexual, you are being told by the company that makes the product that their product is not special or unique in any way. Axe body spray is no better than any other body spray. Carl’s Jr.’s dead cow is no better than anybody else’s dead cow.

This inherent revelation of mediocrity holds for all products in all markets. This includes movies, music, computer games and books.

Jan 282010
 
Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose book “A People’s History of the United States” became a million-selling leftist alternative to mainstream texts, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 87 and lived in Auburndale, Mass.

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn said.