The Washington Liquor Control Board Is Mean!

Downtown Walla Walla is absolutely full of winery tasting rooms, my walk to get lunchies takes me past a dozen or so of them. Yesterday though, I noticed something interesting, the "Faces" winery had a huge orange sign posted on their doorway.

Apparently, they haven't been filing monthly tax reports, and if you fail to do that for three months, you get shut down for 10 days. Luckily for them, the 10 days came after the spring release weekend and before Whitman graduation so it shouldn't be a huge economic impact. The sign itself though is kind of masterful. It says why the place is shut down and for how long, but then there's some great fine print. 1) The huge very visible sign can't come down until after the shutdown. 2) You can put any signs over the top of it. 3) You can't put up any other signs saying "We're closed for vacation" or anything like that. You have to clearly show that you're closed because you got shut down.

So, not only is your business closed, but your nose gets rubbed in it. That would definitely make me file things on time.

  

How not to advertise.

Kodak makes a series of filters in the Wratten brand that have been the absolute standard for ~100 years. If you need to filter light (for a photographic or fairly simple scientific use) you go buy a Wratten filter. Since they're a very uniform product, you can just look up the exact spectral response of the filter and away you go.

There are some problems though, the filters are gelatin filters, so they get ruined if they get wet and they fade fairly quickly. Plus, they're a thin layer of gelatin, so they're kind of floppy. Kodak just revamped the manufacturing process to deal with the floppiness and give the filters a 6 month life before fading becomes and issue, and they have an entertaining flash video explaining it.

The part that I love it the "recommendations", which say things like "The filters are sufficient." and "The new filter's spectral response matches the old version." Now, in science lingo, this is pretty big praise... it's a more durable product that still does everything the old version did. It just sounds funny in a marketing video where you expect hyperbole and explosions.

  

Google Taking Over The World

How I long for the good old days, when Microsoft was evil and Google was an inspired upstart we could all cheer for. Well, not so much these days, even with Google's posturing on China... from slashdot:

[Google's] lawyers and security experts have told employees to 'be intentionally vague about whether or not we've given access to end-user accounts,' according to engineer James Tarquin, hinting that Google may be sharing its data with the US government. Perhaps Australia's most hated communications minister, Steven Conroy, could be right in his criticism of Google's privacy record after all."

Maybe all the bad press is the real reason for changing their name to Topeka?

All that said, here's a fun little reminder of what the Big G can do... I didn't know about the calculator bit, that's clever and lazy.

  

Ugliest clothing ever

The other day K was flipping through one of the "spring" Victoria's Secret catalogues when she actually snorted and laughed out loud. I'm guessing that's not really what a hot-knickers-and-bras-and-swimsuits company is going for, but judge for yourself:

This color disaster option seems to be no longer available on the VS website, but fortunately the above picture from the catalogue was archived by TheFashionPolice.net, along with choice analysis:

Here’s a simple test you might want to use if you’re trying to decide whether an item of clothing will be flattering to wear or not. We use it sometimes when we’re interrogating possible fashion criminals, and we call it the Victoria’s Secret Model test. It works like this:

1. Take one Victoria’s Secret model. Any one will do.

2. Force her to try on the item you suspect may be a closet criminal. (No pun intended.)

3. Observe. Is the item flattering on the model? No? Then it sure as hell isn’t likely to be flattering on too many of the rest of us either: test failed!

Clearly it's a coincidence that the item has been marked down, and can now be had for a mere $89 (from $108). You will, however, have to pay full price for the "Silk Cargo Jumpsuit" atrocity (which by the way would be an awesome album name, if albums actually still existed.

  

Olympic Anticipation Concern

[Note, this post got stuck in Drafts and didn't actually post, I only just caught it now. oops]

For my entire life, the Winter Olympics have been my favorite sports season, a marvelous binge of athletic cosmopolitanism, guilt-free patriotism, and the novelty inherent to a non-annual event. As a child, every four years I would spend a 17-odd days lying on the floor of my grandparent's living room, living and dying with the exploits of athletes whom I had never heard of before, and likely never saw again. To me, happiness was waking up to freshly-fallen snow, going sledding all day, then spending an evening of hot chocolate, popcorn, and Al Trautwig/Mike Adamle/etc.

Clearly, my nostalgic expectations for the Olympics are unfairly high, but even recognizing that I can't help but worry about the upcoming Vancouver games. This has nothing to do with uncertainty about the US Men's Hockey team (very young, though nearly not as young as the 1980 team), or whether the Alpine team led by Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn will again underwhelm. Nor am I talking about concerns that the sliding track is too fast , though after a Romanian luger knocked unconscious after slamming into several walls during a training run yesterday, safety worries can't be ignored.

No, instead I am nervous about the way in which I will be allowed to consume the Olympic experience. NBC has been very vocal about the exorbitant cost they paid to secure exclusive domestic broadcast rights (negotiated back when CDO was a meaningless term that only mattered to nerds at Goldman) as an excuse for their decision to cram all the high-ratings events into the "prime-time" package. Fortunately it looks as though the "minor" sports - curling, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, etc - will gain at least some airtime on the cable options (CNBC, MSNBC, USA, and my new favorite channel, Universal Sports).

I worry, however, that the main-peacock-channel programming will be virtually unwatchable - especially for those of us on the West Coast, who will be forced to watch almost everything on a three-hour delay, despite being in the same time zone as Vancouver. The last few Games, Summer and Winter, have witnessed the submission of the Olympic Spirit to the Olympic $pirit. If it can't be compressed into a twelve minute overproduced, self-contained, and overly-scripted segment, it's not worth showing, according to Dick Ebersol. Perhaps envious of Fox's lucrative and repulsive American Idol franchise, I fear we are going to be spoon-fed a three-week dose of Olympic Idol. Hopefully we'll get at least a few bits of actual sporting events in and amongst the reality show nonsense, but I'm not terribly optimistic.

  

Lady Gaga

There was a joke on SNL about the fact that Lady Gaga is the new creative director of Polaroid. "Similar to a Polaroid, you have to look at Lady Gaga for a few minutes before you realize what you're looking at."

We'll ignore the fact that Polaroid is at the absolute bottom so making a gamble on a pop singer probably isn't a bad bet.

The question remains though... is Lady Gaga hot or not? Catchy, yes. Wants to be hot, yes. Actually hot though? I'm kind of leaning towards yes.

  

The next Jose Canseco

Two sports predictions:

First, that in the next 10-20 years, the NFL will be dramatically different from the game/institution that we know today, due to (long-overdue) attention to brain trauma. Concussions will be viewed the way we now view asbestos, where the blithe and dangerous attitude of times gone by will be unfathomable.

Secondly, that Tim Donaghy will eventually be viewed in the same light as Jose Canseco, and that's meant very complimentarily. Canseco was once a 'roided-up crackpot who spouted off random and crazy accusations but in the intervening decade or two has been proving correct on pretty much all counts. As for Donaghy, I present you this:

I worked a Knicks game in Madison Square Garden with him on February 26, 2007. New York shot an astounding 39 free throws that night to Miami's paltry eight. It seemed like Stafford was working for the Knicks, calling fouls on Miami like crazy. Isiah Thomas was coaching the Knicks, and after New York's four-point victory, a guy from the Knicks came to our locker room looking for Stafford, who was in the shower. He told us that Thomas sent him to retrieve Stafford's home address; apparently, Stafford had asked the coach before the game for some autographed sneakers and jerseys for his kids. Suddenly, it all made sense.

Okay, no big deal, a ref gave away one game in exchange for some stuff from a Hall-of-Famer, right? Check this out:

In the pregame meeting prior to Game 6, the league office sent down word that certain calls-calls that would have benefitted the Lakers — were being missed by the referees. This was the type of not-so-subtle information that I and other referees were left to interpret. After receiving the dispatch, Bavetta openly talked about the fact that the league wanted a Game 7.

"If we give the benefit of the calls to the team that's down in the series, nobody's going to complain. The series will be even at three apiece, and then the better team can win Game 7," Bavetta stated.

I mean, wow. Not even the Godfather himself (NBA Commish David Stern) will be able to cover this up, even if he sues both Amazon.com and Random House.

P.S. I have spent the last couple hours trying to figure out whether this is an april fools prank or not, given deadspin's spotty history. But I think this is legit, it just makes too much sense.