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Lileks @ Lunch

James Lileks writes about everything - except sports and gardening

Awesome & False, the Internet's fave combo

While researching the exact date when a wine company came to its senses and stopped making whisky, I ran across an old ad for Sandeman. Their logo - sorry, their iconic logo - featured a man of mystery in a cloak, with a Spanish hat. It’s good branding, if used right. Here’s an example from 1965, to show just how utterly Spy Mania had swept the pop-culture world.

Of all the knock-offs and rip-offs of the Bond theme, that’s one of the better ones. The problem with coming up with something different was the sheer perfection of the original; it’s so simple, so exactly right that anything else sounds like an obvious imitation. Which of course it was. The only thing that came close was the “Secret Agent” man theme, which traded the jangly guitar for something more menacing and forthright. It lacked the mystery of the Bond theme, but it was good in its own right.

Since it’s October 1st, the official start to the Month of Halloween, here’s another commercial from the 70s. Alcoholic old ladies: always a larf.

WEB C’mon. Don’t tell me your BS detector didn’t red-line over this.

It’s debunked, here.

APPS In every major city in the land this morn, libel lawyers woke up with a big smile, not knowing quite why they felt so darned good today. Then they read the Verge:

"Peeple is an app that allows you to rate and comment about the people you interact with in your daily lives on the following three categories: personal, professional, and dating," says the company's website. "Peeple will enhance your online reputation for access to better quality networks, top job opportunities, and promote more informed decision making about people.”

It’s Yelp for humans, to make the obvious comparison, except you don’t have to sign in to anything to check out the restaurant down the street and have your poor experience with the unfriendly proprietor and glacial service confirmed. Now, more evil:

However, there's currently no way for users to opt-out of Peeple. Anyone can sign up anyone else if they have their cell number, and although only positive reviews are shown on the profiles of people who haven't signed up, members of the public can't see their reviews unless they join.

And they would know:

Moved to Babylonia? Classic

Humor is subjective and perishable. Once these lyrics convulsed a nation; now we scratch our heads and say “well, maybe they had on funny costumes.”

Now when he was a young man / He never thought he'd see (King Tut) / People stand in line to see the boy king. (King Tut) / How'd you get so funky? (Funky Tut) / Did you do the monkey? / Born in Arizona, Moved to Babylonia

It’s “King Tut,” by Steve Martin, and it was a Craze for a while. Like a lot of Martin’s early comedy, it seems a bit thin today. Yes, I know, blasphemy. I like Steve Martin, especially in different roles like “Pennies from Heaven” - a misfire, but he’s good - and “The Spanish Prisoner.” But having listened recently to some old bits before audiences that had a collective fit of hysteria upon hearing him simply say “I am a wild and crazy guy” AND NO MORE, it’s apparent that there was something in the air at the time - besides reefer - that combined with his diffident mocking of a particular type of sleazy performer to form a style of comedy that didn’t age well. It was funny because Steve was doing it. That was enough.

The wikipedia page for the song says: “The song is the subject of in-depth analysis in Melani McAlister's Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945–2000.” How? Good Lord, how many PhDs do you have to have to assert that the Arizona-Babylonia reference is a symptom of Western cultural ignorance over ancient Mesopotamian culture and history?

Anyway, there’s Tut-related news today. From National Geographic:

Nearly a century after the rediscovery of King Tut’s tomb ignited a worldwide craze for Egyptology, new findings could turn out to be almost as stunning. On Monday, after a group of Egyptian and foreign archaeologists examined the famous tomb, Egypt’s antiquities minister confirmed that they found evidence suggesting the existence of two previously undiscovered rooms.  “This indicates that the western and northern walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb could hide two burial chambers,” minister Mamdouh Eldamaty told the Egyptian state press.

Undisturbed, at that. Intact, with all its jars and totems. And who might be buried there? Nefertiti.



WORK Amazon is going the Uber route, more or less: you can sign up to deliver packages when you feel like driving around and making money.

The drivers, who will be delivering packages ordered through its same-hour delivery product Amazon Prime Now, will be paid between $18-$25 an hour to work for the company, but they have to provide their own car and Android phone.

Amazon advertises the role to potential workers “be your own boss: deliver when you want, as much as you want”.

“You can choose any available 2, 4, and 8-hour blocks of time to work the same day, or set availability for up to 12 hours per day for the future. You can work as much or as little as you want,” the company explained in an FAQ.

Is this bad? Of course this is bad. Again, we rely on the Guardian to set us straight:

It’s going to be a dark day when the helicopters come down and drop the nets to gather the new serfs and force them to delivery packages.

A UPS driver makes about $30 an hour, before taxes, and they can’t set their own hours. The benefits are better but there’s no “oh, I’ll just do it for four hours today” option. Something for everyone, then. Isn’t that good?

No, of course not.

MISC Of all the questions I never thought I’d ask, let alone care a whit about the answer, there’s this contender for #1: Did PETA sue on behalf of the proper selfie-taking macaque?

Some coverage of the monkey selfie controversy last year identified the macaque as female. The photographer David Slater identifies the monkey as female in his book, Wildlife Personalities. PETA’s own president, Ingrid Newkirk, identified the monkey as female in a 2014 essay arguing that the monkey should own copyright in the photos.

Male Sulawesi crested macaques (also known as Celebes crested macaques and black macaques) are about twice the size of female macaques. They also have “enlarged canine teeth compared to females.” The monkey in the famous “selfie” photo does not have enlarged canine teeth compared to juvenile monkeys.

VotD X-Files trailer is out.

Could they explain whatever happened to that alien invasion, and the bees, and the black oil, and the super-soliders, or is it too much to ask? The tired, predictable response is "The Truth is Out there!" or "I Want to Believe." Choose whichever you like. 

Poll: Who, besides Bob Dylan, would you most like to see on a downtown building mural?

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