Best Comment Ever?

Soooo… actor Rob Lowe, inexplicably a fan of the Indianapolis Colts and either a friend or acquaintance of team owner Jim Irsay, tweeted today that Peyton Manning would retire. Sports website Deadspin covered the story… and the very first comment on the story was one of the funniest responses to a blog post I’ve ever read:

“This isn’t the first Brat Packer to let an ugly Rumor pop out.”


The first twenty replies to that comment were all either “+1”, “Wow”, “hehehe” or “nice!”

SOPA Resources

By now you’ve almost certainly about today’s “Internet Blackout” in opposition to SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act (and its Senate cousin, the Protect IP Act, or PIPA). I was going to write up a rant about the whole mess, but in the end I decided it was kind of pointless. Many, many sites have SOPA pieces that are far more eloquent than anything I could write, and few would listen to what I had to say anyway. It’s not that my opinion doesn’t count, it’s that I’m just one guy in a small town in North Carolina. People with doctorates and huge followings online have done it better, so why not just link to those pieces instead?

If you have no idea what SOPA actually is, head on over to Wikipedia’s page about it (they’re not blacking out this page today). I’ve read the article, and it’s pretty balanced and comprehensive… although it lacks information about many of the small details that actually make SOPA so awful. If the Wiki article confuses you, or if you’re just not that technically inclined, check out this post at Lifehacker, which explains SOPA in easy-to-understand, non-technical terms.

Although the first two links tell you how SOPA would work, they don’t tell you why it’s bad. The jist of it is that the law would allow rightsholders to cut off financial support for sites they claim are infringing. The entire site doesn’t have to infringe on someone’s intellectual property… just a single blog entry or comment is enough. The EFF has this page, which lists why popular sites like Etsy, Flickr and Vimeo would be in danger under SOPA, even though none of them are what any reasonable person would call a “pirate site”.

And remember, SOPA doesn’t just target sites that host “pirated” content – it would allow companies to go after sites that “misuse” their trademarks as well. You’ve probably heard of Monster Cable, the company that sells vastly overpriced cables and has a history of suing anyone who tries to use the “Monster” name (including the Boston Red Sox). This post on Monster’s own website lists companies it considers to be “infringing” on its trademark. And while “” probably does sell fake Monster products, take a close look at some of the other sites on Monster’s list: eBay and Craiglist (neither of which sell anything directly), FatWallet, PriceGrabber and ComputerShopper (none of which sell anything at all: the first is a popular “deal” site, the others are price comparison sites), and Costco and Sears. Wait – am I saying that Monster Cable could, under SOPA, shut down the websites of giant retailers like Costco and Sears? Yes they could. In this case, it’s not about “protecting trademarks”, it’s about using a piracy law to control distribution of a lame product.

But don’t take my word for it. Read this piece from Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media. Or this piece by Tim Edwards from PCGamer. Or this piece by Ken Fisher at Ars Technica Or this piece by Elliot Noss of Tucows, which is not only extremely blunt, but also addresses the international chilling effects the legislation would have:

The Internet is a global creature. A “Made in the USA” solution will no more work to stop the problems talked of than would one made in any other single nation state. Worse, the US has been at the forefront of ensuring that the Internet has remained free and a platform for innovation for the last fifteen years. With SOPA, or ProtectIP, that leadership will effectively end and Syria, China, Iran and others will not only use the US as a role model, they will also use these actions as further evidence of US control of the Internet and justification for trying to turn it over to the UN/ITU.

Worse, the legislation itself is fundamentally corrupt. It is bought and paid for by big media, trying vainly to protect anachronistic business models. This has been demonstrated clearly in all of the hearings and the very conduct of the debate. Listening to how deeply uninformed those being asked to legislate this issue are has been nothing short of scary. Watching how support and opposition has lined up has been disheartening. This is the worst example of the kind of fundamental corruption that is at the heart of the US political system currently and is well defined by Professor Larry Lessig.

Sure, Big Content are jerks… but do you think you can trust the government? Ha! Ever heard of a hip-hop website called It was seized by the US government under “Operation In Our Sites”. I’ll let this article at TechDirt tell the rest:

Imagine if the US government, with no notice or warning, raided a small but popular magazine’s offices over a Thanksgiving weekend, seized the company’s printing presses, and told the world that the magazine was a criminal enterprise with a giant banner on their building. Then imagine that it never arrested anyone, never let a trial happen, and filed everything about the case under seal, not even letting the magazine’s lawyers talk to the judge presiding over the case. And it continued to deny any due process at all for over a year, before finally just handing everything back to the magazine and pretending nothing happened. I expect most people would be outraged. I expect that nearly all of you would say that’s a classic case of prior restraint, a massive First Amendment violation, and exactly the kind of thing that does not, or should not, happen in the United States.

But that’s exactly what happened to Dajaz1, only substitute “blog” for “magazine” and “domain” for “printing press”. This is your government folks, the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. And In Our Sites was conducted under existing federal law. For the love of all that is holy, please don’t let things get worse. Big Content is a dying business model, and they’re trying to buy our politicians to protect it. Destroying the entire Internet so that record company executives can keep their private jets isn’t just repulsive, short-sighted and illegal… it’s downright un-American!

Mad Men returns!

Woo-Hoo! Mad Men, the greatest show in the history of television ever, returns on March 25, 2012 with a two-hour season premiere!


The downside is that I will be very busy with something else around that time. I had been on the fence about doing recaps for season 5. It takes 8-10 hours to do each recap… and that’s just for the recap; that’s not including time wasted on Facebook or Twitter! It’s a lot of work, but something I love. But don’t kid yourself – it’s work. And while I still envision myself doing them, I’d hate to fall behind due to “real life” and then just kind of give up after an episode or two.

I’m sure I’ll still do them, but I’ll keep you posted about the recaps as the season approaches.

Morley and Me

The history of television advertising – and especially product placement – is kind of interesting.

In the 1940s, shows were often sponsored by companies, so viewers could tune in to The Philco TV Playhouse or The Texaco Star Theater or The Voice of Firestone. Full sponsorship fell out of favor in the 1950s, to be replaced by “in-show” commercials, where actors would suddenly break out of character to endorse a product. For instance, two neighbors might go to the backyard to start a grill for a cookout, and one character would observe how fast and evenly the charcoal fired up. The other character would agree, then turn to the camera and tell the audience it was because he used Kingsford Charcoal, “the very best money could buy”. He’d pitch the product for 20-30 seconds, and then return to character.

This, too, had fallen out of fashion by the 1960s, when the standard 30 second commercial we know (and hate?) became the norm. But this put prop masters in a pickle: advertising often wouldn’t be sold until after a show had been filmed. Prop masters had no idea if Coke or Pepsi would end up buying ads for the show, so it didn’t make sense for a character to prominently use either drink. After all, if Beaver Cleaver was seen enjoying a Pepsi, Coke probably wouldn’t want to advertise on the show, right?

The solution was fictional brands. Since these fake products only existed in films and TV, there was no need to worry about irritating potential advertisers. Fake products also, in a way, liberated creators of movies and TV: although in most cases companies didn’t mind having their products used in the media, negative portrayals of their product could trigger a legal case over trademark use. For example, a TV show about a serial rapist and killer who loves Pepsi might anger Pepsi executives enough to sue for making their product look bad. So, by using fake products, this issue is avoided completely. And, in some locales, “product placement” might be banned completely. Until recently, Canada and the UK prohibited the practice on television, so fake products weren’t an option; they were the only option.

Some of these fake products were totally original, and looked different from any actual product on the market. Usually, however, the products looked a lot like a popular product. And no fake product ever looked more like its real-world counterpart, and was used in more productions, than Morley cigarettes.

*     *     *

Philip Morris introduced the Marlboro brand in 1924 as a cigarette for women. Like most women’s cigarettes of the day, Marlboros had filters. In fact, Marlboros originally came with red filters to disguise lipstick marks! Since only women’s cigarettes had filters, men shunned them. So, for a long time, men only smoked unfiltered cigarettes and women mostly smoked filtered cigarettes.

Continue reading “Morley and Me”

Top 10 Tunes

From the home office in London, here’s this week’s list of Top 10 songs!

1) Lana del Rey – “Video Games”
2) Marsheaux – “Pure”
3) Marsheaux – “The Promise”
4) Nina Gordon – “Straight Outta Compton”
5) Marsheaux – “Summer”
6) Marsheaux – “Stand By”
7) Marsheaux – “Destroy Me”
8) Joy Division – “Disorder”
9) Freezepop – “Pop Music is Not a Crime”
10) Marsheaux – “Faith”

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-01-15

  • Let's go Falcons! 🙂 #
  • @Ihnatko POWs get due process now? #
  • And, once again, Ike Taylor screws over the Steelers. That guy is approaching "The Quarterback Who Must Not Be Named" status. #
  • @john_simm Welcome to Twitter, John! #
  • There's a difference between losing and getting your ass beat. LSU, you just got your ass beat. Bad. #
  • Caught a bit of NPR today and remembered why I don't listen to them any more. (more) #
  • Heard a story about [fake French accent] "Nee-ko-lahs Sahr-koh-ZEE" and [fake German accent] "Ahn-gel-uh Mehr-Khul". (more) #
  • I GET what they're tryong to do, but you come off sounding like a pretentious college douchebag instead of a serious reporter. #
  • My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Saint Etienne (21), Marsheaux (15) & Cocteau Twins (14) #
  • Almost caught up with #HellOnWheels #
  • @ginnygoodwin Thick can mean "In with or with deep". Thieves tend to stick together due to their profession, hence "thick as thieves". #
  • No, Google… I'm searching for BETTY BOO, not BETTY BOOP. Idiots. #
  • @DrPizza hehehe It was one of those "wonder what the hell this person is up to" moments! 🙂 #
  • Let's go Aints! #
  • Hate that SF won… But WOW! What a game! #
  • I'm 40 years old. You'd think I'd have learned that musical guests sound like crap on SNL. But no. #
  • Woo-Hoo! #MadMen will premiere on March 25 with a 2-hour episode! Can't wait! #
  • @1outside Yep, it's official! The downside: I'm having friends fly in from NL a few days after that, then we're going on holiday. #
  • @1outside I dunno what'll happen to the recaps! 🙁 #

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Introducing Marsheaux!

I’d never even heard of the Greek electropop band Marsheaux until the middle of last November. But since then I’ve listened to them 304 times according to, an average of five songs a day. Heck, I’ve even become one of their “top listeners” on

Marsheaux LastfmSo… what’s the appeal? Well opinions about music vary, of course. But if you’re a fan of female-led, throwback 80s electropop, Marsheaux is Leonardo Da Vinci, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Albert Einstein all rolled in to one. Check out “Summer”, the track that initially caught my ear:

Beats, beauty, atmosphere… it’s all there! The music… almost seems like a musical security blanket. Or a pair of comfy slippers. Or a favorite old sweater. Or a hot bowl of chili on a cold winter’s night (substitute your favorite soup as needed). Check out this tune, “Stand By”, also from the album Lumineux Noir:

Cool, hip, beautiful… what more is there to say? The band also does a few covers, too. Here’s their version of When In Rome’s “The Promise”:

Here’s one last tune, an older song of theirs called “Dream of a Disco”, which sounds like a beautiful, updated Flock of Seagulls:

The band, whose name comes from the first syllables of the band member’s names – Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou – really is all kinds of awesome! Check out their MySpace page here and their page here.

RIGHTING THE WRONGS: The “Twinkie Defense”

Growing up in the 1970s, vicious rumors abounded about Twinkies snack cakes. If one ate 10,000 Twinkies, so the schoolyard story went, you’d go crazy and kill someone! The story changed a bit later on: if one ate 10,000 Twinkies, he or she would be considered “legally insane” in the state of Georgia (or California, or Texas, or…). This later rumor was obviously a riff on the old “seven hits of acid makes you insane” urban legend. But where did the story come from in the first place? Why Twinkies? And did it have any basis in fact?


Actually, the story was born out of a great tragedy.

Daniel James White was born in Los Angeles on September 2, 1946. The second of nine children, he was expelled from Riordan High School for violent behavior in his junior year. He subsequently transferred to Woodrow Wilson High School, where he graduated as valedictorian. After a stint in Vietnam in the Army, White worked as a security guard at a school in Anchorage for a couple of years. He then moved to San Francisco and became a police officer. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, he quit the SFPD after squealing on a fellow officer who beat a handcuffed black suspect.

White transferred to the San Francisco Fire Department, where he became a hero after rescuing a woman and her baby from the seventh floor of a burning apartment building. White used this fame to get elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (San Francisco has a unified city-county government, so a “supervisor’ is the equivalent of a city councilman and county commissioner). Although a Democrat, White was pretty conservative, and often defended his mostly white, middle-class district against what he called “homosexuals, pot smokers and cynics”.

Continue reading “RIGHTING THE WRONGS: The “Twinkie Defense””

Top 10 Tunes

Here are my Top 10 songs for the week, courtesy of the good people at

1) Lana del Rey – “Video Games”
2) Ambra Red – “Killer Princess”
3) Marsheaux – “Stand By”
4) Marsheaux – “Summer”
5) Blouse – “Videotapes”
6) Ambra Red – “She’s a Model”
7) Ambra Red – “Game Over”
8) Marsheaux – “The Promise”
9) The Sound of Arrows – “Into the Clouds”
10) Ambra Red – “It’s Just A Dream”


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-01-08

  • Go Giants… Beat the Cowgurls! #
  • How 'bout them Dawgs! #
  • @lastfm My fav album of 2011 is Washed Out's "Within and Without". It's just BEAUTIFUL and celebrates youth without being melancholy.(more) #
  • @lastfm It's like an Ubran Outfitters catalog come to life, and I mean that in the best way possible! #
  • Just watched the new ep. of #Sherlock – amazing as usual! Didn't know Lara Pulver was in it… RAWR! #
  • LeBron James got engaged! At least ONE of them has a ring now! #
  • Last night I dreamt I was dating Tina Fey. She was really cool, and I got to hang out at the SNL and "30 Rock" sets. #
  • Bear Bryant was once asked to contribute $10 to help pay for a sportswriter’s funeral. Per the legend, he said, “Here’s a twenty, bury two.” #
  • Jeez – at least GT showed up for their bowl… what's your excuse, Climpson? #
  • Finally watched #TreasureIsland with P. Glenister, D. Mays, Eiljah Wood and Rupert P-J. Really good, if broad interpretation! #
  • @ired33 Been a fan of yours since you first put on a Steeler uniform. Now's your time, man. Take it! #
  • "Big Shrimpin"? Someone at the History Channel has a sense of humor! #
  • Update: Steelers Running Backs Coach Kirby Wilson Is In A Medically Induced Coma #
  • Get well soon, Kirby Wilson! #
  • @catdeeley NITPICK: it's Little Five Points, or L5P. Five Points is a different place! Love ya! – Jim #

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