Sometimes I’m just plain mystified by the TV Q&A column in the paper. From today’s edition:

Q: I heard a while back that a biography on the musical group the Cowsills was in the works. I haven’t heard anything about it recently. What is that movie’s status?
A: “Family Band: The Cowsills Story,” a documentary about the group known for recordings of “Indian Lake,” “Hair” and “The Rain, The Park and Other Things,” has been released and has aired on Showtime. It also has been released on DVD.

Who are these people? Picture a couple at home - he’s in the living room, she’s in the kitchen.

Man: Hey hon, do you remember hearing about that Cowsills documentary?

Wife: The what now?

Man: The documentary on the Cowsills.

Wife: The Council’s what?

Man: The singing group the Cowsills.

Wife: Oh, right. I remember hearing something.

Man: But have you heard anything lately?

Wife: I haven’t been paying attention.

Man: It seems they were talking about it and then I didn’t hear anything else. Wonder if it ever came out.

Wife: I think we would have heard something.

Man: If only there was a way to know.

Wife: Well, why don’t you look it up on the internet?

Man: no, I think I’ll write a letter to a newspaper in the hopes they choose my query out of the dozens received, and wait for the answer to appear on the TV page.

For heaven’s sake, it’s right there under COWSILLS in Wikipedia. The other question has to do with a show that went off the air years ago; the writer wants to know if it might come back. Sure. Low-rated shows that ran for a season and a half are ripe for a reboot.

FUN Hey, kids, looks like we’re snowed in and school’s canceled. Who’s up for a game of CHEMICAL WAR?

Yes. Chemical War. From Riowang,  a brief look at Soviet board games.

SCIENCE! The Fast Company headline says that Coke has “Designed Its New Can Around Problem No One Has.” Got that? No one.. So it has to be something like, oh, hundred-dollar bills keep landing in your yard and you have to rake them up and you get thirsty, so there’s a special Coke for that. Right?

There are two types of problems that designers try to solve: problems people have, and problems designers delude themselves into thinking people have. Venerable sugar tonic maker Coca-Cola has just released a new can design firmly in the latter camp: a chill-activated can to visually tell people whether their Coke is cold or not. First released as a 7-Eleven promotion six months ago, the chill-activated can is now available to everyone.

Last week my wife opened the fridge to get a soda, felt the first can, and realized I’d just restocked. There was one can that was colder than the others, having been in a few days. A chill-activated can would have stood out. While I’m not ready to call this a problem, it’s not something I’m going to give the old Blogger’s Sniff of Disdain For People Who Do Things Whose Utility Is Not Immediately Apparent to Me, either.

It should be obvious, but for the most part, no one needs to be visually told when something is cold or hot. There are exceptions, of course

So no one needs it, mostly, except when they do. But no one needs it. Because:

a lukewarm can of pop is not going to kill anyone--a can that shows you when it is cold is like a siren that goes off when it's bright out. It's self-evidently absurd.

If you’re covering marketing and product design, I’d suggest leaving the “X won’t kill anyone” argument alone, unless you’re discussing self-aware nanobot-infused ginsu knives.

ARCHITORTURE This is not from Bizarro World; this is a building proposed . . . for Syria. The only possible tenant for this building would be the German Expressionist Silent Film Association.