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3 June, 2003

Radio is Dead...

As far as I'm concerned, radio has been dead for a long time. I simply can't stand to listen to the mediocre music presented in between the commercials. The recent FCC decision that relaxed media ownership in the U.S. probably put the final nail in the coffin. Soon, every radio station will be just like every other radio station.

Here's a humorous article about this issue: FCC to be acquired by Clear Channel

In announcing the deal, FCC Chairman Micheal Powell said "This transaction will greatly expedite the demise of the antiquated concept of local ownership of media outlets. Critics of deals such as this need to understand that Clear Channel embodies all that is good and decent in the broadcast industry, and anyone that believes otherwise clearly isn't listening to the news."

And Radio is Reborn...

For the past three months, I've been listening to a new kind of radio. Specifically, I spend 5-6 hours each day listening to the world's best webcast: Whole Wheat Radio. I've mentioned WWR many times in the past, so if you're getting tired of reading about it, just skip down to the next item.

Whole Wheat Radio originates from Alaska, and is on the "air" 24/7. WWR is actually a paradox: It's a down-to-earth station, but it relies heavily on technology. So much so, that it can run itself with no human intervention. The music (which happens to be great music, for the most part) is programmed in advance, but the playlist can always be over-ridden by listener requests. Most of the time, there is a live human being lurking in the background. Throughout the day, Jim Kloss grabs the mic and adds his personal touch to the broadcast.

You never know when Jim (or his partner, Esther) will make an appearance. However, if you tune in on a weekday at 12:00 noon (Pacific Coast time), you're almost always guaranteed to hear a live show: Jim's daily rants and raves. Sometimes it's serious, sometimes it's a laugh riot. But it's almost always entertaining.

The best way to listen to WWR is with their listener console web site handy. Here, you'll find an ongoing chat, info about the current song, a steady stream of photos, and even a list of who's listening.

I think about 5% of the population can actually appreciate Whole Wheat Radio -- and this small niche is largely responsible for its appeal. Over the past few months, I've become acquainted with Jim, Esther, and many of the WWR listeners. It's probably the most rewarding Internet "find" that I've ever made. It's what radio should be like.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

The Kabalarian Philosophy

Before you go to the Kabalarian Philosophy site, you'd better put on your virtual rubber boots. The BS is pretty deep. If you'd prefer to listen to the BS, click here.

So what is the Kabalarian Philosophy?

The Kabalarian Philosophy is dedicated to the service of humanity through dissemination of the wisdom of life, a scientific, practical knowledge based upon definite divine laws clearly understandable and applicable, teaching the individual's relationship to the two basic laws of life -- mathematics and language -- and teaching how everyone can greatly benefit through this wisdom.

Uh... yeah, right. In a nutshell, they are saying that "your mind is created by your name." And they have the mathematics to back it up! Dig a little deeper, and you'll see that they are essentially selling a bunch of stuff to gullible people.

One of their services is to sell you a name report (only $39 -- it's a "June special"):

20 to 25 pages of in-depth description of the influence of your inner potential and your names. The Name Report includes access to the Name Report Support Site and a free half-hour phone consultation with a senior consultant to answer any questions about your Name Report.

This name report will probably show that "your names are not in harmony with your inner potential." Therefore, you'll want to order a Balanced Name Recommendation for an extra $120.

And, you'll definitely want to enroll in Life Analysis Training, and maybe even take the giant step of becoming a "Senior Student."

But these guys aren't just in it for the money. They also offer a free name report (first name only). And this disclaimer:

Note: Changing your name or altering the spelling is a serious step. It will affect your personality, health, personal relations, and personal and business success.

Here's the free name report for me, John. My comments are in bold:

The name of John has made you serious-minded [hardly!], responsible [Yes], and stable. [Yes] You love the security of a home and family [who doesn't?], you are fond of children, and, as a parent you would be fair and understanding. [Like all parent, I agree with that] Although you have good business judgment, you are not aggressive in your dealings because you do not like to create issues. [No, I'm not aggressive in my business dealings because I don't really like business] You would be successful in any position dealing with the public as you have a diplomatic and tactful manner and possess a charming, easy-going nature which puts people at ease .[Easy going, yes. But I would absolute hate any job that involves dealing with the public] People are drawn to you because they feel that you are patient, kind, understanding, and responsive. [Perhaps] You would be effective in a career or in volunteer work where you are handling people and serving in a humanitarian way. [No way, Jose]  While you are honest and responsible [Yes I am], one weakness that is paramount in your life is your lack of self-confidence and initiative, which causes you to put things off and avoid facing issues. [Absolutely and positively wrong. I am the complete opposite of that] Generally speaking, you have few problems with your health [true]; however, there is a weakness affecting the fluid functions of the body. [Yep, I need a stiff drink after reading this nonsense]

So, just like a horoscope, this name report consists of general statements and vague mumbo jumbo that most everyone would agree with. Throw in some pseudoscience, set up a storefront, and you've got the Kabalarian Philosophy.

On second thought... maybe I should order a Balanced Name Recommendation.

(Thanks to Jan Nordgreen for turning me on to this amusing site)

Posted on 3 June, 2003

A Costly Spreadsheet Error

More accurately, a costly error by a human using a spreadsheet. This article has the details.

A slip of the hand in a computer spreadsheet for bidding on electricity transmission contracts in New York will cost TransAlta Corp. $24-million, wiping out 10 per cent of the company's profit this year.

Someone preparing the electronic file of bids that TransAlta submitted at the end of April misaligned the rows of information in the spreadsheet... "It was literally a cut-and-paste error in an Excel spreadsheet that we did not detect when we did our final sorting and ranking of bids prior to submission."

So let that be a lesson.

(Thanks to Steve Yarde)

Posted on 3 June, 2003

Mail Order Husbands

You'll find thousands of sites on the web designed to help men find a mate. Now here's one for the ladies: Mail Order Husbands.

You'll find a wide assortment of eligible bachelors, waiting to hear from you. Like this guy in Illinois:

My name is Daryl. I am 17, but will be turning 18 in September. I figure by the time we get to know each other I will be legal tender and we can marry. My parents are kicking me out after December and I'd like to meet a woman with a lot of money so we can have fun. I like women between 18-45, but would consider older if we do not have to touch a lot.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

The Woman Behind rent-a-negro

You may have seen the rent-a-negro website. It's satire, and it's very well-done. The Washington Post recently did an article about the site's creator, damali ayo, who considers it "performance art."

Ayo says she got the idea for the piece after years of being in all-white settings, fielding questions from people wanting to touch her hair, and playing the role of cultural ambassador.

Since rent-a-negro went online late last month, ayo -- who eschews capitalization in both her and the site's names -- says she has been e-mailed hundreds of rental applications, from both whites and blacks. Some play along with the satire. "Some people will say, 'I need a Negro to come talk to me and teach me to sing like Aretha Franklin,' " ayo says. But some are obscene or angry; "They say I'm a disgrace to my race or they can't believe a black person would actually be selling themselves and I'm re-invoking slavery," ayo says.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

Medicine and Madison Avenue

The Medicine and Madison Avenue project...

...presents images and database information for approximately 600 health-related advertisements printed in newspapers and magazines. These ads illustrate the variety and evolution of marketing images from the 1910s through the 1950s. The collection represents a wide range of products such as cough and cold remedies, laxatives and indigestion aids, and vitamins and tonics, among others.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

Scary Signs

More good stuff from Worth 1000. This time the topic is Scary Signs -- signs that you don't want to see.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

Luxury to Die For

The Luxury to Die For is (apparently) a spoof site.

Introducing Fisher and Son's Funeral Home's Luxury range of long-lasting afterlife beauty accessories.

The product line is a bit limited, and consists only of embalming fluid, wound filler, lip lock, and a prestige coffin.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

Real Beer

You'll find lots of web sites devoted to beer. But there's only one Real Beer site.

There's a lot to see and read at this well-designed site -- including a daily BeerLog.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

Museum of Safety Razors

I'm often amazed by the type of stuff you can find on the Net. For example: The Internet Museum of Safety Razors.

What you will eventually find here is a a comprehensive catalog of over 300 safety razors, related items, their photos, markings, and some of the history behind the razors. At least that is the goal. I am currently about a third of the way through documenting my personal collection.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

Speed Traps

The Speed Trap Exchange collects information about speed traps in the U.S.

You see them everyday, Speed Traps. The police may be out in the open, hiding behind bridge abutments, or passing overhead in an airplane. As is obvious from the traffic flow, the speed limit is grossly under-posted and universally ignored.

I'm impressed. There's a speed trap right near my house, and it's listed here.

Posted on 3 June, 2003

America's Five Worst Flights

This article describes five airline flights that you might want to avoid.

These are the routes where you encounter the rudest passengers, the most indifferent crew members, substandard (or nonexistent) meal service, rough flying conditions or, often, all of the above.

Specifically:

  • New York (La Guardia) to West Palm Beach, Fla

  • Los Angeles to San Francisco

  • Chicago to Orlando, Fla

  • Washington, D.C. (Dulles) to Newark, N.J

  • Las Vegas to Baltimore

Posted on 3 June, 2003

The Sky at Night

Is it dark at night? The Night Sky in the World site has lots of night time satellite images.

The interest for the protection of the night sky from light pollution is growing every day. A global scale periodic monitoring of the situation is necessary.

Posted on 3 June, 2003