Hysteria: Great, Now Whole Foods Is Making You Broke And Fat

Let’s have a means test based on the consumer’s weight and body fat index to determine not only how much salad they can buy but also what kind of dressing they get, if any. Uh yeah, personally I think we should simply stop trying to tell people how to live their lives.

The New York Sun says that salad and prepared food bars (at Whole Foods, for example) are making you fat. Why? Supposedly, the containers they give you are huge and lead you to unwittingly buy “supersized” portions of food for lunch.

[From Hysteria: Great, Now Whole Foods Is Making You Broke And Fat]

On a related note, California’s government hasn’t passed a budget (due by law on July 1) yet but they did have time to take up the pressing issue of hybrid vehicles not making enough noise so that vision and hearing impaired people can hear them coming. Before anyone jumps in and comments about how this is really an important issue, please consider that I am not unsympathetic to the hearing and visually impaired, in fact I was on the board of directors for the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired up until a few years ago, but are these the real priorities we should be setting as a society… salad bars and cars that don’t make enough noise?

Widgets at the DNC

Even though I am officially on vacation this week, I did want to blog about some cool stuff we are doing at the DNC in NewsGator’s hometown this week. The Big Tent stuff is getting some great coverage, and our widget is aggregating feeds from a whole bunch of blogs that are covering the event. Check it out, install it, follow the activities.

You might be interested to know that the Big Tent Widget consolidates feeds from nearly 200 bloggers, new media journalists and nonprofit leaders credentialed for the Big Tent, the 9,000 square-foot new media center hosted by Progress Now, Daily Kos, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, and is sponsored by Digg, Google, NewsGator, and others.

[From Two Innovative, New Widgets Are Launched Widgets Provide Dynamic Blog/Qik Content from DNC: NewsGator Widget Blog]

Secondly, I am really excited to hook up with the team at Qik to offer a video widget featuring their user generated mobile streaming video right from the convention floor and surrounding activities. The two offerings can be summed up as a true “pros vs. joes” with professionally published blogger content, as well as the semi-pro stuff as well, and the user generated video that is aggregated from anyone using Qik who is in Denver.

What’s next? Just aggregating content is useful but I’d like to see us layer in our related content tools to offer a more semantic take on the content offered up with other non-linked content that is similar in subject and possibly even with sentiment analysis thrown in. Maybe dynamic persistent search on any key entity extracted from a post. We’re just scratching the surface with what is capable with these widgets and the back end platform services. Stay tuned.

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Lowering the Drinking Age

UPDATE: I forgot to post this link to a post on PETA that I really liked, sent by a frequent commenter who shares my head shaking disbelief at PETA’s tactics.

At first my reflexive response was against the idea of lowering the drinking age to 18 but after some thought I think I can support this initiative. Consider the facts, we treat 18-20 year olds as adults in every other capacity, why not on this point as well? Prohibition of alcohol for 18-20 year olds hasn’t worked any better than for the broader population in the 1920’s and it may well be resulting in unintended consequences like binge drinking.

Unfortunately, MADD appears to be taking a dogmatic scorched earth approach to this idea instead of engaging in objective debate, reinforcing the notion that these groups are not simply in favor of beneficial social change but are simply put, anti-alcohol in any form. PETA is simply about better treatment for animals, they are hostile to anyone who likes to eat meat, and a wide range of environmental groups are not simply for enhancing the environment, they are anti-human contact with environment. The Brady Campaign also comes to mind, having strayed from simply preventing gun violence to being completely anti-gun.

Ultimately these groups become their own worst enemies because their anti-fill-in-the-blank approach results in their political currency being depleted. Witness the Brady Campaign, despite two decades of work they have little to show for it and this generation of politicians don’t even want to talk about gun control, especially following the Heller decision. MADD risks being ejected into the same political wilderness by taking on the opponents that they have.

What happens when presidents from more than 100 of the nation’s best-known colleges call on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18? Well, a brigade of hyperbolic mommies start screaming at them, that’s what.

[From Let’s chuck the drinking age – The Denver Post]

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$1k a Square Foot for Affordable Housing

Can you imagine dropping $300,000 plus another $3k a year in HOA fees for 250 square feet of living space?

A San Francisco design and development firm has begun marketing 98 tiny condominiums – ranging from 250 to 350 square feet – at the Cubix Yerba Buena building in SoMa.

[From Home, small home: 250 square feet in SoMa / New condo development targets young first-time buyers without too much stuff]

Driving Hazards

He apparently was using his cell phone in hands free mode… no word from Californian State Senator Joe Simitian on when he will be introducing new legislation aimed at this dangerous new trend.

On the evening of July 30th, Boppre fell off the wagon in a serious way. It started out with booze and ended with Boppre crashing into a parked car, speeding, drunk, high on crack, and masturbating naked with a similarly nude hooker, who was also masturbating.

[From Offbeat News: Drunk, High, Naked Driver Crashes Into Parked Car While Masturbating… But Wait, There’s More!]

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Embargo Breakers: Old Topic, Move On

I wrote about PR embargoes over a year ago and my opinion has not changed, this is a stupid PR industry practice that outside of a very small niche serves very little utility. The small niche you ask? Take the New England Journal of Medicine as an example, they rely on embargoes to enable mainstream journalists to come up to speed on complex subjects. Okay, totally see why the practice is of value here.

The embargo process is broken but considering that it is currently the equivalent of sending me free stuff unsolicited and then expecting me to pay for it after the fact, well it’s no surprise that it’s broken. What is more broken, IMO, is the entire PR process that leads up to an embargoed press release, there simply has to be a better way to do PR in this market. I can’t recall the last time I responded to one of those emails, much less wrote about the substance.

So I have decided to share my own thoughts on the problem – even though I see it from a little different perspective. My idea is that breaking an embargo often results in damages that could very well outweigh the value that the embargo breaker receives by doing so. And the damages are beyond how the announcement can be spoiled for the company by being announced earlier than it is supposed to. And this is why it is not particularly fair to look at an embargo as only involving two parties: a company and a media person (be it a blogger or a journalist).

[From Embargo Breakers: Who Exactly Do You Write For? | Profy | Internet news and commentary]

Intel Debuts Wireless Power

This could be huge but before we get too frothy about it we should take a breath and realize that not only will device makers have to build this into their hardware designs, and pay Intel for the privilege of doing so, but with a range of a couple of feet us consumers won’t be completely untethered. Having said that, this is a welcome innovation.

The Times said Intel, which employs 6,000 in Folsom, will demonstrate using a magnetic field to broadcast up to 60 watts for a range of 2 to 3 feet and lose only 25 percent of the power.

[From Intel looks at way to wirelessly recharge electrical device – Sacramento Business Journal:]

CRM Takes A Beating

Ouch. It is interesting that analysts are now criticizing the company for focusing too much on enterprise deployments when just a year ago that is exactly what the company said they were going to do.

Meanwhile, sales and marketing expenses continue to take a huge bite out of the company’s income statement.

The San Francisco-based company, which sells subscriptions to business software hosted on the Internet, said net income for the second quarter ended in July rose to $10 million, or 8 cents a share, from $3.74 million, or 3 cents a share in the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile revenue rose 49% to $263.1 million.

[From Salesforce.com falls on disappointing outlook – MarketWatch]

Despite having their gains for the YTD blown out today, you would still have done better by going long on CRM than either SAP or ORCL:

200808211223.jpg

Fair Use: 1, RIAA: 0

While I am pleased with this decision to allow a lawsuit against Universal to continue, we’re really not that much closer to achieving clarity about Fair Use in the 21st century.

The saga of the copyright-infringing toddler continues as a California court refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Universal Music had filed an improper takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA provides a mechanism for copyright holders to demand the removal of infringing material on the web, but it also allows lawsuits against those who abuse that authority. Universal claims that it has no obligation to take fair use into account before sending its takedown notices, but Judge Jeremy Fogel rejected this argument—and with it, Universal’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

[From Fair use gets a fair shake: YouTube tot to get day in court]

More concerning to me is the way that content owners, aka studios, are pressuring cable and satellite companies to impose use restrictions on video on demand content that effectively locks down content to a single device. Directv is doing this with their set top boxes, which don’t allow you to move content to other boxes in your own home, much less alternative devices for viewing.

The bottom line is that Fair Use is being rewritten not by the Congress or the courts but rather by content owners who are forcing their distribution partners to adhere to far more restrictive usage terms and to do it at the hardware level.

Never before in the history of technology has so much money been spent on developing a technology, DRM, who’s sole purpose it is to restrict consumer behaviors, choices, and ultimately the experience.

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