This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Mind-control Oreos

Posted by: James Lileks under Praise, Technology Updated: October 15, 2013 - 12:33 PM

We’ve moved into the latter half of October now, cool and wet. Days like this makes you regret having a ten-day outlook on your weather app. The 60s are gone and they’re not coming back.

Well, any year when you can hold off turning the furnace on before property taxes are due is acceptable. So there’s that.

YO HO HO People scratch their heads over movie and music piracy, searching for the reasons why people do it. Perhaps because it’s like shoplifting in an empty store? WaPo:

Why does movie piracy persist after years of efforts to stamp it out? A new website called PiracyData.org suggests a simple explanation: people pirate movies because they don't have the option of paying for a legitimate copy online.

Well, maybe. I don’t think there are many people out there who really, really want to see “Pacific Rim” tonight, can’t find a digital rental anywhere, and decided “that’s it, I’ve been driven into the shadowy bazaars of Torrent Country.” One comment says there are three kids of pirates: the people who will never pay for anything ever period good day sir; the people who think digital purchases are overpriced, and a third boring reason that rails against the greedy media companies.

Greedy, as ever, means charging more than I want to pay.

But is Hollywood to blame, really? In a way. It’s not that the pricing is wrong, it’s that the pricing makes no sense. Five bucks to rent from your TV. One dollar from the machine in the grocery store. Of course, you pay more for convenience, but the knowledge that something is worth a buck over there in one format makes you likely to think it doesn’t have to be five, over here, in another.

Also from “The Switch,” which is the WaPo’s Techblog: A few years ago they’d be calling this a “smart shelf,” back when that word was in vogue. It’s a shelf that senses what you’ve picked up and pitches you a commercial, based on its scan of your head.

The shelf, which is hooked up to Microsoft's Kinect controller, will be able to use basic facial features like bone structure to build a profile of a potential snacker, Mondelez chief information officer Mark Dajani told the Wall Street Journal. While pictures of your actual face won't be stored, aggregate demographic data from thousands of transactions will be.
The company expects the shelf to help funnel more of the right products to the right consumers, and even convince undecideds to commit to an impulse buy by offering well-timed in-store commercials or coupons when the embedded weight sensor learns they've picked up an item. The move is almost certain to make it more difficult to resist junk foods.

Let’s look at the assumptions buried in that last sentence. 1. Junk food should be resisted. If you’re a healthy-living time who abhors Doritos, sure, that’s how you see the world. If you don’t care, and regard “junk food” as one of the dependable pleasures in life, then the idea of some stringbean with pursed lips tell you to resist those Doritos is not only annoying, but another example of the busybody betters you’ve dealt with all your life. 2. People who are on the cusp of buying junk food, struggling with their fading will, will be pushed over the edge by a targeted ad. As opposed to, say, your desire to buy the product is reinforced by the offer of a coupon, in which case you’ve made a rational decision based on value. 3. “Almost certain to make it more difficult” isn’t exactly one of those assertions you can measure against an objective standard.

Here’s the headline for the piece:

This snack-food corporation has a creepy plan to watch you in the grocery store

Really? ME? What if I don’t think it’s creepy? What if I think it’s an interesting experiment in marketing that will either capture the consumer’s fancy, or, more likely, irritate people to the point where the units are disabled or the store avoided?

Here’s the subhead of the piece: “And it involves using Microsoft's Kinect sensor to make you buy more Oreos.” Ahem. No one can make you buy Oreos at all. No corporation, however powerful or enormous, no matter how big their advertising budget or marketing strategy, can make you buy cookies. It’s called Free Will.

Anyway, you want creepy? Here’s creepy, from Cracked.

WAR The war in Syria - remember that? - has been broadcast on YouTube, beneath the notice of the mainstream media. The FSA seems to specialize in videos of their guys getting shot, for some reason. Here’s something from Syrian TV. You’ve seen those videos where the reporter’s doing a stand-up, and someone jumps around and makes faces in the background, or runs up and hugs the reporter, or otherwise disrupts a live broadcast? Well:

MOVIES Sly and Arnie are in a movie together. Finally. But it’s not like no one’s tried before.

"The interesting thing really, is that for decades, they've tried to put us together in a movie and the scripts were horrible," Arnold told Access Hollywood's Michelle Beadle as he sat down alongside Sly for an interview at the film's junket in New York City on Monday. "It was like dreadful. We could not have accepted any of that. "One movie wanted us to be undercover agents in drag, and another movie wanted us to change from human beings to animals," Arnold continued. "So he was the dog and I was the cat and we were fighting each other.

No mention of “Stop Or My Mother Will Shoot,” which would suggest Stallone doesn’t have the most discriminating taste in scripts. Then again, the new script seems to have it right; for a while they punch each other and then they team up and punch other people. When you see “Story by” in the credits, that’s what it means. They had to bring in a story doctor to add a twist - at the end, the bad guy comes back to life and can only be vanquished when Sly and Arnie punch him at the same time. That’s the stroke-of-genius moment that earns a fellow the long green.

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