Here is what Conan O’Brian thinks a video iPod commercial should look like…
The U.S. budget deficit widened in November by more than analysts had expected as spending surged, a government report showed on Monday.
The Treasury Department, in its monthly budget statement, reported a $83.06 billion deficit last month. That compared with a $57.90 billion deficit in November 2004, and was the largest deficit on record for November.
Economists were expecting a $76 billion deficit in the month.
This is what the highways in the West will look like a few years after “Peak Oil”. It is one of a series of intriguing images taken by a businessman in N. Korea.
North Korea is a land of vast motorways, some with as many as 10 lanes. But they are always empty. Very few people own cars.
Pedestrians and cyclists zig-zag across them as they are so unused to traffic.
But even though these roads host few vehicles, they are beautifully tended. Every Sunday, the people who live close by can be seen dusting down the gutter and pruning the shrubs on the road. Some might be visible in the distance here.
When large container ships can contain or ship no more, they’re sent halfway round the world to so-called “breaking yards,” where they’re dismantled (basically by hand), their metal is salvaged, and their intact structures, down to the doors and toilet seats, are put back onto the global marketplace.
Today, these yards tend to be in Bangladesh or India – but location is just a question of cheap labor and (nonexistent) environmental regulations.
It’s toxic work.
(click the link, there’s more info and pictures…)
Copy in Polish reads: “Free Speech to Belarus”. For Amnesty International by Saatchi.
A car bomb explodes, detonated by U.S. troops after it was discovered at the scene of the double car bombing in Baghdad, Iraq, in this April 14, 2005, file photo. (AP Photo/Samir Mizban/FILE)
If the Walt Disney Company has its way, McDonald’s Happy Meal toys could be replaced with portable media players that hold Disney movies, music, games or photos, according to a pending patent application. Users could add files to the devices by earning points with food purchases.
The plan could work something like this: A customer enters a restaurant and buys a meal, receiving the portable media player and an electronic code that authorizes a partial download of a movie, video or other media file, which can be downloaded while in the restaurant, according to a United States Patent and Trademark Office application filed by Disney. Then, with each subsequent return, the customer earns more downloadable data, eventually getting an entire movie or game.
and they got a patent on that? WTF?
I’ve got a suggestion for the first movie to distribute this way.
The use of product placements has increased 84 percent on television in the last year, according to the WGA’s call for regulations. “There is no clear line separating a TV show from an advertisement anymore,” said Carrie McLaren, editor of Stay Free magazine.
In a recent episode of the NBC series Medium, writers had to work the movie Memoirs of a Geisha into the dialogue three times because of a deal the network made with Sony earlier in the season. They even had the characters go on a date to an early screening of the movie and bump into friends who had just viewed Geisha to tell them how good it was.
Another product placement intruded a touching scene on ABC’s soap opera, All My Children, when writers were forced to incorporate a line about a new Wal-Mart perfume into the dialogue as a character, Greenlee, sat at the bedside of her husband who was suffering from a fatal gunshot wound.
Some writers are so angered by the process of appeasing advertisers they have begun to strike back with a website called Productinvasion.com that pokes fun at embedded products.
I could say a lot of things about this, but there’s this comment on slashdot that does a pretty good job. It’s in reply to somebody claiming “make advertisements worth watching.” was the solution:
The real solution is so simple, it may be beyond the grasp of marketers: make advertisements worth watching.
You’re approaching this from the wrong direction: making advertisements worth watching is an action to be undertaken by the advertisers and their customers. This presumes they are the people with the problem. They aren’t; they’re making plenty of money already; PVRs and other changes in the market are crimping their ability to make more money, but they’re doing fine as it is. Being greedy isn’t a “problem” for the greedy individual but rather a never-ending series of opportunities to make more money at your expense. Your comment assumes that finding one way to solidify or increase the revenue stream is sufficient but in fact the media companies are satisfied only when they exhaust all possible such schemes. So in fact the viewer is the one with the problem; without a PVR you have to watch more ads today than ever before, and even with a PVR you get less content than ever before. Either way, you’re going to get more product placement as well, because even if the advertisers made “advertisements worth watching” and no one ever edited them out, you can bet that to sustain their revenue growth the advertising agencies and media companies will continue to increase the number of impressions they can sell per 30 minutes of airtime; having more effective advertisements just allows them to charge more, which is great, but they aren’t getting their money’s worth until every possible second of airtime is sold somehow to someone. The content is the worm, the ads are the hook, and you are the fish. No fisherman cares how good the worm is as long as it covers the hook well enough to tempt the fish. Fish seem willing to overlook a giant, flaming-orange hook so long as it contains the tiniest fragment of long-dead worm or worm substitute, and TV viewers, who live longer than fish and seem to develop a tolerance to “hooks”, are no different. The media companies know this and that, as a fish, er, viewer, sucks.
So there are actually two solutions, one which is realistic and one which is not. The unrealistic solution calls for a contract made between viewers and content producers for a certain amount of ad-free content in exchange for a certain amount of money – the way cable TV was originally set up, in fact. This is unrealistic because, as happened with cable TV, the media companies, never satisfied with merely making a tidy profit, realised that you’ll pay just as much for TV with ads as without, so they can actually make money both ways. So much for that. We’re left with the REAL SOLUTION that actually works and is guaranteed not to require watching any kind of TV ad, ever, and as a side bonus penalises the greedy bastards who are forcing the issue: DON’T WATCH TELEVISION AT ALL. There’s no law (yet) requiring you to consume what the media companies produce. The worm fragments are small, not especially tasty nor healthy, and in virtually all cases unattainable without being hooked anyway. You’ll find after a few weeks of altered evening routine that you don’t even miss them, and you’ll do a boon for your own mind, the economy, and our civilisation’s collective future just by not doing something. Why wait? You can solve your problem right now, without any help from anyone, and all you have to do is not do something that seems to be causing you a lot of grief anyway. It’s easy, it’s free, and it takes no time at all. What better solution could you seek?
Seems that we don’t learn from mistakes (as if that should be a revelation to readers of this list)!
Trouble began Thursday morning, when Mizuho Securities tried to sell 610,000 shares at 1 yen (less than a penny) apiece in a job recruiting firm called J-Com Co., which was having its public debut on the exchange. It had actually intended to sell 1 share at 610,000 yen ($5,041).
Also at http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Japan-Botched-Trade.html and many other places.
As this problem sounded rather familiar, I searched the RISKS archive, and found it in RISKS-21.81. That posting, almost exactly four years ago, included the following excerpt:
Before the Tokyo market opened Friday, a UBS Warburg trader entered what was intended to be an order to sell 16 Dentsu shares at 610,000 yen ($4,924.53) each or above. Instead, the trader keyed in an order to sell 610,000 Dentsu shares at 16 yen apiece …
That was also on the day of a “public debut” (aka IPO). However, it was a bargain – it cost UBS Warburg about $100M vs. about $235M for Mizuho Securities.
I assume it’s just coincidence that these two failures were both on the Tokyo Stock market.
[I knew the new case sounded familiar! Perhaps the 610,000 is a default number for an erroneous field? That's quite a coincidence. PGN]
San Jose officials are still wondering how a miniature golf course landed on a federal list of the most attractive terrorist targets.
North Carolina is being called to account for its decision to certify electronic voting machines made by three companies that refused to comply with the state’s election transparency rules. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Thursday filed a complaint against the North Carolina Board of Elections and the North Carolina Office of Information Technology Services, asking the Superior Court to void the recent “immaculate certifications” they awarded last week (complaint, PDF). North Carolina law requires the Board of Elections to rigorously review all voting system code “prior to certification.” But last week the state’s Board of Elections certified voting systems from Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Election Systems and Software without bothering to do so (see “Election transparency law damn near invisible“). “This is about the rule of law,” said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “The Board of Elections has simply ignored its mandatory obligations under North Carolina election law. This statute was enacted to require election officials to investigate the quality and security of voting systems before approval, and only approve those that are safe and secure. By certifying without a full review of all relevant code, the Board of Elections has now opened the door for North Carolina counties to purchase untested and potentially insecure voting equipment.” Keith Long, a North Carolina voting systems manager, defended the state’s decision, telling News.com that reports from “independent testing authorities” were sufficient for certification. But that comes as poor reassurance. Because if the “independent testing authorities” to which Mr. Long refers are as impartial as he is, North Carolina is in big trouble. Long, you see, worked for Diebold Election Systems as recently as Oct. 1, 2004. And between 1983 and 1992 he worked for Sequoia.