Archive for the 'Fiskings' Category


Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Via the DFLL, a half-press-release-half-article about “PageMorph”, by a company named EyeWonder.

Here’s EyeWonder’s demo. It waits a minute or so before the ad fully deploys, for maximum caning-you-in-the-back-of-the-head effect.

Following quotes are from the aforementioned article.

Taking attention-seeking to a whole new level, rich media company EyeWonder on Wednesday debuted a new home page-takeover ad that appears to manipulate a surrounding Web page by shrinking, stretching, crumpling or otherwise animating a real-time screenshot of the page.

Shit like this is why I have JavaScript turned off in my browser.

“Attention-seeking”. More like grabbing viewers by the shoulders and shaking them while yelling into their ear.

Thoroughly immersing audiences in an ad experience, …

Similar to how you would immerse a lobster in boiling water, with about the same amount of screaming.

… the PageMorph takeover format is just what marketers and publishers are looking for…

And viewers are running from.

Also, I dispute that publishers are looking to piss off their readers. I generally think publishers like to keep people looking at their content.

“Publishers are looking to create premium placements to sell to advertisers while also keeping ad clutter off their home pages,” said Quist.

Of course. It keeps ad clutter off your page by ripping your page in half and showing the ad through it.

Here’s my own preview of the technology. (NSFW.)

EyeWonder reports that these ads often see a higher-than-average total time of interaction — some placements nearing the one-minute mark.

During which time, readers are going “ARGH WHAT THE FUCK I JUST WANTED TO READ THIS ARTICLE”.

Rich media ads accounted for 7% of online advertising during the first half of 2008, according to a study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Is it just me, or is “rich media” a euphemism for “slapping readers in the face”?

Last year, EyeWonder reported that revenue increased 67% year-over-year, although the privately held company declined to provide specifics.

They had three customers and now they have five?

“Certainly display advertising has taken a hit during this recession and is a concern for everyone in the ad industry,” CEO John Vincent said earlier this year. “However, EyeWonder invested in 2008 in our service and product offerings…”

EyeWonder invested in… itself!

Meanwhile, today, Peter Hosey invested in my lunch. By making myself a sandwich.

Translation from marketing-speak to English of selected portions of the FAQ for “Disney’s FastPlay”

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Disney’s FastPlay & EasyFind Menus FAQs:

1. What is Disney’s FastPlay?

  • Disney’s FastPlay is a new technology that puts you in control of your viewing preferences.
  • You can choose to use your remote and navigate through our user-friendly EasyFind menus, or you can simply put in the disk and go sit down and relax and the DVD automatically begins. You don’t have to push a button!
  • You can watch the feature presentation just like you would in theaters. After the trailers and feature, stay tuned for an exciting selection of Bonus Features.

We just start the movie without putting you through a menu.

[Emphasis mine in the above quote.]

2. What benefit will I receive from viewing a Disney DVD with Disney’s FastPlay?

2. What good is it?

  • Disney’s FastPlay takes away the extra steps that most DVDs require in order to watch the movie or Bonus Features.
  • If you don’t want to navigate to start the movie, Disney’s FastPlay navigates for you.
  • Disney’s FastPlay also gives you a look into the great Bonus Features that Disney DVDs offer.

Like we said, we just start the movie without putting you through a menu.

3. Why is Disney’s FastPlay not available on all Disney Titles?

Disney’s FastPlay technology was designed with families in mind. Many children under 8 years old aren’t able to easily navigate a DVD. It also gives parents the option to put a DVD on for their child/children without having to wait and navigate through the Menu.

Wait, did you ask us a question?


11. What are EasyFind menus?

EasyFind refers to enhanced menus. The Main Menu, Set-Up Menu, and Bonus Features Menus have been enhanced to provide a consistent location for set-up options and Bonus Features on all Disney DVDs. …

We put the buttons in the same place every time.

Making fun of CS3 news stories

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

All these are from MacCentral—not because I have any particular hatred for MacCentral; it’s just that I have MacCentral on My Yahoo! and I’m too lazy to seek out more stories. It’ll just be a bunch of quick hits—one or two comments per story.

Dreamweaver CS3 integrates Spry framework for Ajax

… the integration of Dreamweaver with the rest of the Creative Suite has improved dramatically.

Yes. Previously, Dreamweaver was not part of the Creative Suite. Now it is. This is, indeed, a dramatic improvement in integration.

With Creative Suite 3 designers can select any portion of a design in Photoshop—even across multiple layers—and paste it directly into a Dreamweaver page. … If, at some point, the image needs to be edited, double-clicking on the original layered PSD file opens in Photoshop for editing.

It’s like LinkBack, only without working with any other LinkBack-enabled apps!

Illustrator CS3 adds Live Color


As with the other applications, Illustrator features tighter integration within the suite and it also has some new features.

New features? Really?!

More importantly, did they add Rubber Band yet?

Premiere Pro CS3 to feature Blu-ray output

Somebody wanna explain how that’ll work when there aren’t any Blu-Ray drives on the Mac?

(Yes, yes, Windows. Who uses Windows? ;)

The new Export To Encore feature in Adobe Premiere Pro encodes the content of your timeline and sends it directly to Encore …


InDesign CS3: An evolution in design


In building the new version of InDesign, company officials said they watched the evolution of the market and figured out how they could best help their users.

That’s a good plan.

… Standards-based XHTML export to Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 from InDesign CS3 …

Ha ha, too late!

Creative Suite 3 largest release in Adobe’s history


Creative Suite 3 largest most bloated release in Adobe’s history

Fixed that for you.

“Over the past 25 years our technology has redefined industries,” Caleb Belohlavek, Adobe’s Director of Creative Solutions, told Macworld.

25 years… that’d be 1982. Somebody wanna tell me what Adobe software ran on the Apple II+?

“Our mission has been to revolutionize how the world engages with ideas and information. Our goal is to continue to be on the cutting edge of innovation and drive more powerful solutions to our customers.”

And here’s the same quote with the buzzwords removed:


So, CS3 is finally here. I, for one, intend to continue using CIFH and Lineform.

Just out of curiosity, though, I’m serious about the Rubber Band question. Have they finally added that to Illustrator yet?

A caption contest, sort of

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Sam Javanrouh’s Daily Dose of Imagery brings us this photo of a Windows Vista promotion:

Photo of a “brick” wall made of ice. Through it, we see the Office 2007 logo and a coat hanger on the opposite side.
Exterior shot of an ice house made on Dundas Square to promote the launch of Windows Vista.

So, your task, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with a tagline, slogan, or other quick advertisement-style summary that explains how an ice house promotes Windows Vista.

Good luck. I know you’ll need it…


Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

The Independent, “A guide to email etiquette”:

When John Debrett founded his eponymous toffs’ “Bible” in 1769, he didn’t have to contend with such modern delights as the e-mail, text message and video-conference. Yet if the legendary expert in Georgian manners had been born 250 years later, you get the feeling that he’d have used digital technology in the nicest possible fashion.

No, he’d be using holographic technology. 1769 + 250 = 2019.

With this in mind, the publisher of Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage has dragged itself kicking and screaming into the 21st century…

Would someone please explain how it is possible to drag oneself kicking and screaming?

(That part is what the title refers to. It was originally the entirety of this post, before I realized that the entire article was worth fisking too. ☺)

For longstanding Debrett’s readers, who might normally use the book for advice on addressing the wife of a son of a baron, it is likely to be quite an eye-opener.

How can it be an eye-opener if for it to open your eyes, you must read it, and you cannot read anything without your eyes opened?

Next to a chapter on how to address a King or Queen (“Your Royal Highness” for the first time and subsequently “Sir” or “Ma’am” as appropriate) lies a beginners’ guide to text-messaging: “A quick and efficient method of communication, usually sent from one mobile phone to another.”

This is one poorly-organized book.

The advice offered by Debrett’s covers everything from the mundane to the potentially explosive.

Do not bring this book onto an airplane.

Fisking the State of the Union, 2006

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

I watched some of the 2006 State of the Union address on ABC News. I decided to fisk it, so I got the full transcript from C-SPAN, edited it, and interspersed my comments.

I’ll also keep a count of certain events in the speech. These things will be counted:

  • Applause
  • References to 2001-09-11
  • References to fear

Thank you all. Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Technically, wouldn’t “fellow citizens” cover all of those people?

Every time I’m invited to this rostrum, —

Fancy word. Makes him seem smart.

— I’m humbled by the privilege, and mindful of the history we’ve seen together. We have gathered under this Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement.

And to hear the state of the Union. That more than the other two, I think.

We have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our history — and it has been my honor to serve with you.

Buttering ’em up, so he gets even more applause.

In a system of two parties,


  • Libertarian Party
  • Green Party
  • American Freedom Party
  • American Independent Party
  • Reform Party

And those other two.

— two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger.

It shall be prohibited.

To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of goodwill and respect for one another — and I will do my part.

Are you surprised by this statement? What’s the alternative?

“… and I refuse to take part in this. In fact, there are tanks bearing down on the Capitol right now. Good-bye. [dashes away and locks the door behind him]”

Tonight the state of our Union is strong — and together we will make it stronger.

<Catfish_Man> “At some point during the speech, the President usually says “The State of our Union is strong” or a very similar phrase (however, in 1975, President Gerald Ford said that the state of the Union was bad).” —Wikipedia

In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom — or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy — or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity.

And you know something? He can’t be wrong! One of those things will happen!

In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting — yet it ends in danger and decline.

Fear is the path of the dark side.

Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.

The only way to protect our people, the only way to secure the peace, the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership — so the United States of America will continue to lead. (Applause.)

We need to lead so that we can continue to lead?

Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal — we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On September the 11th, 2001,


— we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country.

Was that Afghanistan or Iraq?

Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror.

Democracies… like Iran!

… In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies in the world. Today, there are 122. …

We should form a lonely-democracies club.

… At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half — in places like Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran — because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom, as well. (Applause.)

So the Axis of Evil admitted a couple new members? I don’t remember Burma and Zimbabwe being on that list.

… Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder — and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder.

Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear.

Fear is the path of the dark side.

Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.

When they murder children at a school in Beslan, —

Eh? What does the hostage situation in Beslan have to do with it?

— or blow up commuters in London, or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it. (Applause.)

In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat.

“No honor in retreat”. Little did we know, George W. Bush is secretly a Klingon.

… America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, —

Or the prisoners therein. The camps themselves were emptied.

— and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire.

Which one was that?

… We’re on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory.

What is it?

“Well, we can’t tell you that, or the terrorists would know how to work around it.”

… Fellow citizens, —

But not the Speaker, the Vice President, the members of Congress, the members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, or the distinguished guests?

— we are in this fight to win, and we are winning. (Applause.)

The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels — but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

Aren’t you the Commander-in-Chief?

… Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices — and showing a sense of duty stronger than all fear.

Fear is the path of the dark side.

Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.

Our nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country. We’re grateful to all who volunteer to wear our nation’s uniform —

Uniforms. There are more than one kind of uniform in the US military.

— and as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America’s military families. (Applause.)

Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear —

Fear is the path of the dark side.

Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.

— by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East.

Huh? Broader than what?

I guess he means in addition to Iraq.

The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election — and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. (Applause.)

Or else.

The same is true of Iran, a —


— nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon — and that must come to an end. (Applause.) The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. (Applause.)

Are they illegal or something?

America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.

To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, and fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands.

“To do this, we must first build a giant spreading-knife.”

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, —


— and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life.

Sounds like a commercial.

“The United States. A partner, for a better life. Join the United States now! 1-800-JOIN-USA”

… We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack — based on authority given to me by the Constitution —

The Fourth Amendment?

— and by statute — I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, —


— and federal courts have approved the use of that authority.


… If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again. (Applause.)

Then get a warrant.

In all these areas — from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions — we need the support of our friends and allies. To draw that support, we must always be clear in our principles and willing to act. The only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world. Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values that gave us birth. American leaders — from Roosevelt —

Which one?

—to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan — rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.

Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy — a war that will be fought by Presidents of both parties, —

Forecasting the defeat of the Republican candidate, are we?

— who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours. …

… In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs — more than Japan and the European Union combined. (Applause.)

Where do they get this statistic? And what does the job growth of other countries have to do with it?

The American economy is preeminent, but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors, like China and India, and this creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people’s fears.

Fear is the path of the dark side.

Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.

So we’re seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy — even though this economy could not function without them. (Applause.)

But this implicitly refers to illegal immigrants, who are here illegally. If our economy is dependent upon these people, then it is thoroughly messed up.

All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction —

To the dark side.

— toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.

Tonight I will set out a better path: an agenda for a nation that competes with confidence; —

We don’t want confidence to win out.

— an agenda that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future, —

Fear is the path of the dark side.

Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.

— because we intend to shape it.

Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

Didn’t he say this last year?


I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. (Applause.) And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto. (Applause.)


Didn’t Clinton get this? And didn’t it get struck down in the Supreme Court?

We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad’s favorite people — me and President Clinton. (Laughter.)

C-SPAN didn’t do this, but when Bush said this, ABC News cut to a shot of Senator Clinton in the audience. She had the dirtiest scowl on her face.

Frame-grab of Hillary Clinton's scowl.

(It doesn’t look as bad in the frame-grab — it was much worse on TV.)

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security — (applause) —


— yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. (Applause.) And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.

So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission …

Ah, create a commission. That’ll help.

… With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker. (Applause.)

Except maybe those people in the Third World who work for a dollar a day. They look pretty good to the American companies looking for cheap labour.

… And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, —


— allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, —

If they seek the jobs legally, why do they need to be temporary?

— and reduces smuggling and crime at the border. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. (Applause.) Our government has a responsibility to provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. (Applause.)

I didn’t see any such responsibility named in the Constitution. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness — nothing about health care.

For all Americans — for all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, and help people afford the insurance coverage they need. (Applause.)

Pay my insurance!

We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors.

As opposed to non-dangerous medical errors?

We will strengthen health savings accounts — making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get. (Applause.) We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. (Applause.) And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice — leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB/GYN —

Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country. —GWB (full transcript of that speech)

— I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources — and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative —

An initiative! yay.

— a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research — at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)

… We’ll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. (Applause.)

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.)

I.e., “after my term”.

By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. (Applause.)

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people — and we’re going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, —

Another initiative?


— to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation’s children a firm grounding in math and science. (Applause.)

… We’ve made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, —



— which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country.

Test scores mean nothing. They examine the test as much as the child tested.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful nation.

War… terrorism… bird flu…

Yeah. Real hopeful.

Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth —

Define ‘youth’.

— is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America —

Over what time period?

— than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row. (Applause.)

Again, over what time period?

Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They’re concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, —

Like snooping?

— and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage.

What? Huh? When did marriage enter into this?

They worry about children in our society who need direction and love, and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster, and about suffering caused by treatable diseases.

Treatable diseases… lead to suffering.

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. …


(Presumably, this is some sort of reference to cloning, but taken literally, it doesn’t make much sense.)

A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction and love. Through the Helping America’s Youth Initiative, —

Another initiative?

— we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child — and this good work is being led by our First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.)


A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African Americans.

Why is the African-Americans statistic important?

I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act, and provide new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicines in America. (Applause.) We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African American churches —

Why only African-American churches? You don’t think all the other churches will help with this?

— and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when there are no new infections in America. (Applause.)

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage.

By books, you meant ink. Or more accurately now, magnetic storage followed by toner.

Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom’s advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward — optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victories to come.

And the counts:

Applause: 62.
2001-09-11: 2. Yes, that’s right, only two.
Fear: 5.


Monday, January 16th, 2006

From an AIS commercial on the radio: ‘More than 30 insurance companies compete for AIS clients’ business.’

Taken literally: duh. AIS is an insurance company. Insurance companies compete for each others’ business. Otherwise they wouldn’t run commercials.

But if you read into it a little bit: Why would insurance companies be so keen to compete for AIS clients’ business specifically? The only reason I can think of is that AIS clients are more willing to pay more than clients of other companies, making them more desirable objects of competition.

Not a good inference. you might want to rewrite that one, AIS.

UPDATE 2006-08-27: Filed under “Fiskings” on the theory that this is something of a mini-fisking.

Fisking p2pnet #1

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

Looks like both sides of the music-downloading debate have their stupid moments. Consider this lame article from p2pnet, which I shall fisk below.

p2p news / p2pnet: Sony BMG, Vivendi Universal, Warner Music and EMI, the Big Four Organized Music cartel members, aren’t the only ones to have New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer breathing down their necks.

So far, so good.

“A trade group for digital-music services said Tuesday that its members have now also received information requests,” says CNET News, quoting Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association, which represents companies including Yahoo, Apple Computer and America Online.

AHHH! Run-on sentence!

Potter says the inquiry could become, “full-blown” —

Oh noes!

— and, “Everybody expects to be contacted, and some already have been”.

At this point in time, there’s no viable corporate online music business.

What? Huh? What about iTunes?

This reality is surprising given that hundreds of millions of people around the world regularly and routinely use the p2p networks —


— and independent artist and download sites for their music fixes, —

How many of those hundreds of millions do you figure are going to the independent artist sites? Not to diminish the independent artists, but I honestly don’t believe the percentage is all that high.

— and that thousands of new music lovers are logging on and tuning in every day.

Thousands every day? For that matter, hundreds of millions? Care to back these figures?

Reading Big Four Organized Music cartel press releases, always faithfully reproduced as-is, and without question or verification, by the mainstream media, one could be forgiven for thinking significant numbers of people are hitting the various sites backed and supported by the Big Four, and paying handsomely for the privilege.


So, who exactly are the Big Four Organized Music cartel?

However, it’s all pure PR baloney.

New from Oscar Mayer.

Organized Music —

— is wholesaling identical, —

(as opposed to illegally-downloaded songs, which vary widely)

— low-fidelity, heavily compressed versions of songs —

That NEVER happens on P2P networks.

— its owners have already created for CD releases to the same companies, such as Apple, RealNetworks and Napster, —

Wait, huh? CD releases to the online music stores?

This forces Apple, et al, to try to off the tracks for a dollar and more each, depending on which countries they’re selling in. And the Big Four apparently want to introduce variable pricing with something in the region of $1.50 for ‘premium’ product at the top end.

Worth more, costs more. I’m not seeing the flaw in this plan. (FTR, I do prefer the flat 99-cent price.)

No one in his right mind is going to pay upwards of $1 for lossy, inferior quality, cookie-cutter corporate ‘product’ drawn from tightly limited catalogues —

Yes, no-one.

— when for pennies, they can —


— tap into not only everything the Big Four have to offer online, but also millions of other tracks, new and old, from and similar sites.


They can also buy from the many independent sales pages set up by new artists as well as established star performers who’ve discovered they can do much better for themselves and their fans online and off without the “help” of the major labels.

Name ’em.

Meanwhile, nine times out of ten, —

More made-up statistics.

— music industry ‘premium’ product, going out at $1 and more, isn’t worth a light, —

Candle-light? Incandescent light? Halogen light?

— which is one of the reasons OM is reporting plummeting sales. …


Currently, the Big Four spending most of their marketing resources on a bizarre sue ’em all campaign through which they’re trying to blackmail people into buying ‘product’.

Actually, they’re trying to punish them for stealing “product”. If you don’t steal music, you don’t get sued, whether you buy the music or not. Also, I haven’t heard of the RIAA withdrawing a lawsuit because the defendant turned around and legally bought the music that was stolen.

I agree that the tactic won’t work in the long run, but this characterisation of it is inaccurate.

They’re doomed to fail on all fronts …

Tell me more about your crystal ball.

The Big Four have already been found guilty of numerous dirty tricks designed to boost sales and keep prices high.

They have? Please cite cases.

Also, um, isn’t boosting sales kind of the idea? Same with keeping prices as high as the market will bear. I believe it is called “making a profit”, and it is the end goal of every business.

Stay tuned.

Same bat-time. Same bat-website.

My main problem with this article (and others like it on p2pnet) is that the site bills itself as “news”, but it is really just an editorial platform. Serves to remind you that this is the internet — take everything with a grain of salt.

Food is bad for you; stay away from it

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

So somebody on IRC said that rich-chocolate Ovaltine causes pancreatic cancer. This was news to me, and rather important news, as my dad likes Ovaltine.

So I Googled. This was the first hit for “ovaltine cancer”: – Stealth Foods

run by a man named Dr. Andrew Saul.

The first and most obvious warning sign is the text “World’s Largest HEALTH HOMESTEADING Site” under the banner. This bears several red flags:

But wait, there’s more…

The first ‘past winner’ is:


More caps.

You’d expect Food, Drug and Cosmetic Blue #1 to be an ingredient in marshmallows, right?

Actually, I wouldn’t… marshmallows are white, last I checked. (Maybe they do contain Blue #1, but I wouldn’t expect it. [This is actually his point, but, whatever.])

…And “Quaker’s Life” cereal contains artificial Yellow color. Do we dare ask what real Quakers would think of putting yellow paint in little Mikey’s breakfast bowl?

“It’s Latex-Licious!”

But the Doctor Yourself Tarnished Silver Award for this month’s STEALTH FOOD goes to OVALTINE! Yes, “Ovaltine,” the health food of my youth, can no longer be trusted: “Rich Chocolate Ovaltine” in fact contains not one but all THREE chemical colors: Yellow #6, Red #40, and Blue #1!

Y6! R40! B1! BINGO!

When I called them up (you can too: 1-800-442-0099) —

This is the phone number for a pizza parlour in the Bronx. (Just kidding.)

— to say that it is just a tad inappropriate for a product with a long reputation for quality to have THREE artificial colors on it …

If it had no reputation for quality, this would be all right.

… The only part of “Rich Chocolate Ovaltine” that is “rich” —

If you’re paying attention, you noticed that he mixes smart quotes and dumb quotes.

— is the profit that Himmel Nutrition is making at the expense of consumers that don’t read the fine print on the label.

If they weren’t making a profit from it, this would be all right.

Give ‘em a call and tell them you will not buy it until they drop the food paint.

Do you imagine some factory worker dipping paintbrushes into all the cans of Ovaltine?

Also, wouldn’t dropping paint just make a mess everywhere? Certainly bad for sanitation.



Children who eat hot dogs once a week double their risk of a brain tumor.

Who were they comparing against?

Youngsters eating other cured meats, such as ham, sausage and bacon, had an 80 percent higher risk of brain cancer. This study was done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He doesn’t really cite it properly. This article by Ralph Moss covers it better.

… But here is the very important good news: Children who ate hot dogs and other cured meats, but who also took supplemental vitamins, had reduced cancer risk.

Doesn’t this suggest that the problem is not with too much cured meat, but with not enough vitamin intake?

(Jean Carper’s syndicated column in Lancaster, PA Intelligencer-Journal, Weds., June 22, 1994.)

Do you recall ever hearing anything in the media about this?

Well, it was in the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal in 1994.


“AHHH! He knows what my kids are brushing with! RUN, CHILDREN! RUN FROM THE EVIL DR. SAUL!”


Hey! Your caps lock is still on!

— and —

There you go.

— it has been bought off, all right.

Any proof for that statement?

A substance that can cause cancer has no business being allowed, ever, in the food supply.

That would be a “no” then?

If you question this, ask yourself: How many drops of rat urine would you accept in your next glass of lemonade? Twelve? Five? Two? Even half a drop of rat urine? Yet no case whatsoever can be made that rat urine causes cancer.

So, um, what’s your point?



Any dentist will tell you that saccharin chemically does nothing to prevent tooth decay.

Why is the word “chemically” in here? Because saccharin replaces sugar, which causes tooth decay. So preventing tooth decay is not a chemical action of saccharin, it’s an effect of replacing sugar with it.

(I agree with his point, but he’s basing it on faulty logic.)

If they brush every day, that’s 365 small doses of a carcinogen a year.

Worse, children who brush during leap years have a higher risk of cancer than those who don’t!


At first I thought this was supposed to say ‘DIY’. Then I realized: Oh well.

Those little candy hearts with “I LUV U” and “BE MINE” on them have a special, super secret: they make great children”s paints!

I wonder what gave him the idea to try this.

… Grind them up, combine equal parts water and powdered candy, and stir. Get out a model-sized paintbrush and white paper and have the children write their names in food paint. It works all too well. Then ask the kids what it does to their stomachs. Listen carefully to their answers and insights.

Probably something along the lines of “I dunno. It’s candy, it’s good, right?”. I don’t think you should be relying on children for information pertaining to biochemical action.

But I am not convinced that we should voluntarily EAT paint.

Why not? “It’s Latex-Licious!”

So read every label and vote with your dollars.

I tried this in the last election. They kicked me out. “Legal tender”, my foot.


Right. It’s not like they’re FDA-approved or anything.


Okay, nobody is likely to consider a frozen pepperoni pizza to be a health food, —

No kidding? Wow.

— but even junk food eaters deserve simple honesty in packaging, just as cigarette smokers deserve an ingredients list on a pack of smokes.

Try some variety at your next dinner. Smoke a pizza.

… Only problem is, the fine print on the side of the box very quietly tells us that the number two ingredient in the pizza’s topping is “cheese substitute.” You have to read very carefully to find this statement, and even then, many folks do not realize that ingredients are listed by weight, largest to smallest. So the second ingredient is a huge one.

Dr. Saul fails at statistics.

The fact that it is ranked second means nothing as to its proportion of the product, except relative to the other ingredients. The fact that it is second means only that it accounts for the second-highest amount of the product — nothing else.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that the first ingredient is 90% of the product. (This is unlikely, but I’m being dramatic.) So it cannot possibly be more than 10% of the product — already far below my definition of “huge”. If there are a total of 11 ingredients (for the sake of arithmetical simplicity), and the last ten are equally divided, that’s 1% of the product for each of those last ten. Definitely not huge.

… And while you are at it, you might want to read up on each of the no fewer than SEVEN artificial preservatives in this “Pizza for One (TM).”

Fine, what are they?


Hens by the thousands raised in such claustrophobic, crowded cages that the birds will literally peck each other to death. To reduce prison-yard aggression in chickens, red tinted contact lenses are now marketed for poultry workers to slip into the birdy’s eyes. It takes a trained operator just a few seconds per bird, the manufacturer claims. I do believe I have my nomination for the World’s Worst Job.

Uh… what does any of this have to do with food safety?

The Doctor Yourself Award for STEALTH FOOD Manufacturer of the Decade goes to GENERAL MILLS, INC.

I wonder if he shouts every brand name he says aloud. Imagine him in a supermarket.

… FLEA POWDER CHEERIOS are the flavor you probably have not heard about… even though you may have already tasted them back in 1994.

It was a limited edition.


Shout it again. I didn’t hear it the last two times you said it.

… The chemical chloro-pyrifos-ethyl (which also kills ticks and termites) was sprayed on oats used to make no less than 16 different General Mills, Inc. cereals. Not 16 boxes, but 16 varieties, amounting to 160 MILLION BOXES, …

If you shout the word ‘million’, it sounds like even more!

… and LUCKY CHARMS (“Ooh, now look at what they ‘ave in wit’ me Lucky Charms: pink dead fleas, yellow dead ticks, and blue dead termites!”)

Hey, not everybody can pull off cereal with meat in it.

Of course there are precious few insects in General Mills’ cereals, because they check for them.

So then that last statement of yours was just hyperbole.

But in 1994 General Mills (with annual sales of about 9 BILLION dollars) …

If you shout the word ‘billion’, it sounds like even more!

Who cares how much revenue they make?

… said, “One of the things bothering us about the General Mills incident is it went on for an extended period of time, and they didn’t know. …”

So, uh… they didn’t know about the residue? Why are you blaming them, then?

So what happened next? A massive product recall? … No such luck. “We didn’t want to raise an alarm for no good reason and scare people, but we didn’t want to fail to warn them either.” said Dr. Lynn Goodman, assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances at the Environmental Protection Agency.

OK. so General Mills didn’t recall the pest-killing cereals. But the government also didn’t push them to do it — if this was a real public-safety issue (and if it was, how come there wasn’t a rash of child deaths from it?), the government must share in the blame for not pushing a recall.

UPDATE, 2005-12-25 5:17 AM: I decided to Google this too, and found an Environmental Working Group article that mentions the Cheerios incident. The whole article (which covers a lot of things, not just the Cheerios matter) is highly critical of FDA, but praises General Mills for (a) stopping sale of the tainted cereal (though it doesn’t say that they recalled it) and (b) aggressively pursuing the people who contaminated the oats.

General Mills now checks for pesticides. Good. But who checks General Mills? If a company can sell 110 million boxes of contaminated cereal, and nothing at all happens, what does this say about our government’s real interest in food safety?

So you started out bashing General Mills, and now you’ve switched to the government. Make up your mind, please?

And by the way, I didn’t find anything suggesting that Ovaltine causes cancer. In fact, I found one webpage that suggests that Ovaltine is fine, and another that suggests that Ovaltine is good for cancer patients. So much for that.

The archetypal fisking

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

After my last post, I remembered this post by Ernest Miller, fisking Orrin Hatch’s statements on the INDUCE Act. Best. Fisking. Evar.

Fisking the RIAA #1

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

RIAA Lauds Senate Passage Of Measure To Stop Russian Intellectual Property Theft

I liked the digg posting for this, too. Anyway, the quoted statements are from “Chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol”.

“With the passage of this resolution in the Senate, the entire U.S. Congress —

? Aren’t there two houses of Congress?

— has made clear that the Russian government must significantly step up the fight against piracy as a condition for both its acceptance into the WTO and for receiving preferential trade benefits from the United States.

Being the Right Thing has nothing to do with it.

“The U.S.-Russia relationship must be built upon a mutual understanding of shared obligations and the application of the rule of law.

E.g. blackmail.

The effective protection of American intellectual property has been sorely lacking in Russia.

Wow… it’s almost like they don’t have the same laws that we do!

Next thing you know, the RIAA will be telling us that Russia has decided to secede from the United States.

This resolution is significant because it expresses the will of the U.S. Congress —

(half of it)

— that Russia must take effective action against those who would steal America’s knowledge-intensive intellectual property-based goods and services.

Knowledge-intensive? American pop music? They must be kidding…

We must not enter into political arrangements with countries ill-prepared to adequately protect our greatest economic assets.

So, let me get this straight… we’re going to pay them to not steal our stuff? Doesn’t this sound just a little like protection?