Behold, online advertising’s absolute bottom: the ransom note.

Let’s get people to pay not to see ads. You don’t want to? Fine; sit through this 30 second ad before you see something that the site snatched off YouTube and slapped their watermark upon. That’ll build customer loyalty and many repeat clicks.

DEEP THOUGHTS Today’s editorial page has the Monday illustrated-quote cartoon by L. K. Hanson, whose Farley at the Fair cartoons are still missed every year. He usually picks a provocative statement; today has a Baudrillard quote: “Deep down, the US, with its technological refinement, its bluff good conscience, even in those spaces which it opens up for simulation, is the only replaining primitive society.”

Hmm. Well. Of course, he means figuratively so, because you have to be rather blind to believe that the US is literally primitive. He must have meant that the US culture channeled some primal forces other cultures had smothered or covered with the trappings of civilization.

Actually, with this guy, there’s no literal or figuretive. That’s far too jejune an idea. Baudrillard was a post-modernist and a post-structuralist, although you suspect he would have been a modernist and a structuralist if he’d been born a bit earlier. Wikipedia gives us a sample:

In Baudrillard's view, the (human) subject may try to understand the (non-human) object, but because the object can only be understood according to what it signifies (and because the process of signification immediately involves a web of other signs from which it is distinguished) this never produces the desired results.

I am looking at a coffee cup right now. It’s white; the style is mid-century Diner; it has a Krispy Kreme logo. Thus are the generic elements of his style immediately given locality and specificity by the corporate logo, signifying both the commodification of donuts and the evanescence of franchise agreements, which have the illusion of permanence but can be severed by legal means. There was a Krispy Kreme store in Eden Prairie. Now it’s gone. Life is futile. Why try?

That’s one way of looking at it. The other way is to point out that I have no trouble understanding my coffee cup, because it is a coffee cup, and that’s all there is to it. No one is paralyzed by uncertainty when they consider their coffee cup. The only people whose minds skitter off on a web of other signs are people who are paid to sit in nice rooms and think about things.

We continue:

The subject, rather, becomes seduced (in the original Latin sense, seducere, to lead away) by the object. He therefore argued that, in the last analysis, a complete understanding of the minutiae of human life is impossible, and when people are seduced into thinking otherwise they become drawn toward a "simulated" version of reality, or, to use one of his neologisms, a state of "hyperreality". This is not to say that the world becomes unreal, but rather that the faster and more comprehensively societies begin to bring reality together into one supposedly coherent picture, the more insecure and unstable it looks and the more fearful societies become. Reality, in this sense, "dies out”.

The job of many social philosophers is to point out how unhappy and delusional other people are. Especially the ones that seem happy and consider themselves well-adjusted. There has to be something wrong with them.

Oh but there’s more.

Baudrillard progressed beyond both Saussure's and Roland Barthes's formal semiology to consider the implications of a historically understood (and thus formless) version of structural semiology. The concept of Simulacra also involves a negation of the concept of reality as we usually understand it. Baudrillard argues that today there is no such thing as reality.

No man who has ever stubbed his toe against the leg of a table could say something so stupid, but Baudrillard’s career consisted of saying ridiculous things in a prose style designed to bluster the rubes into admiration.

n other unrelated news, WaPo Wonkblog:

There are roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, and about 14,000 McDonald's restaurants. But combined, the two chains don't come close to the number of museums in the U.S., which stands at a whopping 35,000.

More museums than McDonald’s? C’est impossible!

ARCHITORTURE Via Things, a story about a building complex designed to host the G8.

The former Arsenal, partly planned by Stefano Boeri on the island of La Maddalena for the G8 in 2009, is one of the darkest moments of Italian politics in recent years - a polluted, abandoned and inaccessible site. The story of a disaster, symbolizing one of the largest financial and environmental squanders in recent years.

The trailer for a movie being made about the ruins:

VotD That’s a lot of geese.

Reminds me of “The Flood” level in the first Halo game.