Attention, 7-Eleven. Your movie tie-in promotions are officially out of control.

I understand when you use beloved properties from my childhood to peddle your greasy wares, and for the most part, I don’t take any offense. This is just business, after all, and properties like Transformers and G.I. Joe wouldn’t exist if not for the need of certain segments of our society to sell poorly constructed plastic action figures to certain other segments of our society in an effort to keep the wheels of commerce turning contentedly. That in mind, it seems like a disingenuous splitting of hairs at best to complain about Optimus Prime selling Slurpees.

But there is a fucking limit, people, and it shall here to fore be known as the Sherlock Holmes Line.

If you are going to have Sherlock Holmes hock a product for you, said product must live up to a certain standard of, for lack of a better word, coolness. If you want to use Sherlock Holmes to sell pipes, say, or deerstalker hats, then by all means, go for it. If you want to push cocaine in little baggies emblazoned with the image of the greatest detective in the history of fiction, then you are an awesome genius.

But in the interest of maintaining the integrity of the character for respectable enterprises like haberdashery and cocaine sales, some rules must be set, and I am hereby setting down the first one.

Sherlock Holmes DOES NOT shill fucking taquitos.

This is not an issue for negotiation or a matter of opinion. It is a fact, and I will state it again in the interest of making crystal clear this unequivocal point.

Sherlock Holmes DOES NOT shill fucking taquitos.

End of goddamn story. There will be a test on this material later.

Kudos to Procter and Gamble, ConAgra and Progressive Insurance, just some of the advertisers who have bailed on racist crybaby shitbag Glenn Beck in the past few days as advertisers evacuate the show like rats off a sinking racist crybaby shitbag. Of course,considering that they’re caught between people boycotting companies who leave continue advertising with Beck and people boycotting companies who pull their advertising from the show, it’s something of a lose-lose situation.

But if you’re going to take flack for giving money to a hateful, idiot wingnut and not giving money to the same wingnut, you’ve got to give credit to the folks who will take the hit for not being associated with him, right? I mean, sure, it’s sad that this is how little we’ve come to expect in the way of corporate accountability these days. The  again, I’ll take what I can get.

For those who aren’t aware, I have been a Washingtonian for long enough that, aside from a few loyalties in the sporting world that are so deeply ingrained and despair inducing that they can safely be considered genetic disorders, I have pretty much gone native. It’s a mostly laid back corner of the country, which suits me just fine, because I tend to be a fairly tense sort of chap, and the green and grey backdrop and relaxed atmosphere cut that just enough that I’m not intolerable to those around me. For the most part.

Which is why it was a touch off putting to hear material concerning my mostly sleepy state all over the news today, starting with the big business story of the day out of Redmond. Microsoft and Yahoo have finally consumated their on again romance, and like so many drawn out courtships, the moment of truth was a touch anti-climatic. Microsoft, unsurprisingly, gets the sweet end of the deal, with Yahoo bowing out of search and to handle advertising sales as Microsoft takes over search and data analysis for both companies, with the recently launched bing powering Yahoo searches from here on out. And while the deal moves Microsoft into the clear number two position in the  search industry, it’s a distant number two, in which the competition, whose name is synonymous with finding information online, has a stranglehold on 70% of the market.

In other words, Microsoft is right now in the best position it’s ever going to be in to challenge Google’s online search and advertising supremacy. But with the Chrome OS launching in just a few months on netbooks, Google is giving as good as it gets. And if this thing turns into a two front war for domination of operating system software and online technology, I’d put my money on the more nimble young ‘un from Santa Clara County.

And while Steve Ballmer and company might not be at the top of their game, they’re still faring better than the killer whales of the Puget Sound. Harassment by whale watching vessels looking to give tourists that perfect close up is hampering efforts to help the regions fragile orca population recover, so federal regulators are proposing doubling the distance that pleasure boats must stay away from the whales to 200 yards. Which is a nice thought, until you realize that the main problem seems to stem from ships that are not obeying the current guideline that aims to keep a 100 yard barrier between whales and whale watchers. With that in mind, it’s hard to see how doubling a barrier that no one is acknowledging helps preserve orca populations.

Shane Aggergaard, who heads the Pacific Whale Watch Association, a group of whale watch tour companies throughout Washington and British Columbia, may have demonstrated the attitude of tourism companies earlier today, when said in an interview with KUOW that “…we love to educate people regarding these animals so they can further protect them. It will be much more difficult to do that at 200 yards…” Again, this sounds good until you think about it – it’s more or less like arguing that we can’t outlaw shooting people in the face, because if we do, then how will people know that being shot in the face is a terrible, terrible thing?

And oh yeah, the anarchists are up in arms in the Evergreen State, as the anti-war organization Olympia Port Militarization Resistance accused a civilian employee of Washington’s Fort Lewis of COINTELPRO style shenanigans. The group, made up of members of groups like Students for a Democratic Society, Wobblies and self styled anarchists claim that a man going by the name John  Towery posed as an anarchist for two years, reporting back to military sources on the groups members and planned activities, such as staging port blockades.

And as these so called anarchists try to peacefully resist and do some good in the world, 38 year old Jeff Monson is keeping it real, doing all the things a good lone wolf anarchist should do. Like cage fighting. And spray painting anarchy symbols on the state capitol building. And then posing with the graffiti for ESPN The Magazine.

But hey, it could be weirder, I guess. I could live in Alabama, where they taser deaf people, don’t they?

And oh, yeah – Dave Reichert is an idiot and a jerk – more on that tomorrow.

Glenn Beck freakout remix, featuring the local boys concerns over the all too real vampire problem we have here in the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks to Crooks and Liars for this.

Kindle owners beware – that electronic copy of a book you thought you purchased and, thus, owned? Not so much.

As it turns out, the publishers to whom Amazon is so beholden for Kindle content still own the content. That’s why they can decide at a whim to give you back your money and have your copies of books erased from your digital device without notifying you until the deed is already done.

That’s what happened to hundreds of Kindle owners who thought they had purchased safe, legal copies of George Orwell’s novels 1984 and Animal Farm. Copies of these novels were erased from Kindles under cover of darkness last night. This morning, Amazon sent affected users a form e-mail, noting that there had been a “problem” with their digital copies of the book and crediting their Kindle store accounts, the digital equivalent of a “Had a nice time, call you soon”  note left on the end table by someone slinking out of a one night stand.

The gall of invading peoples privacy  this way aside, Amazon’s caginess on the matter sets a troubling precedent for similar issues in the future, as does their refusal to define just what the “problem” with the books was. Were they riven with typos? Were they illegal copies, and if so what were they doing on the Kindle store in the first place? Were they alternate texts that were never meant to see the light of day – a copy of 1984, for example, that culminates in Winston Smith’s flamethrower rampage through the heart of London?

Why, in other words, is it okay to access and erase user data without notification or permission, but out of bounds to discuss why it was done?

I understand that going to the Olympics is expensive, and that athletes mostly pay their own way, which still seems kind of weird. As such, I’m generally sympathetic to the ways that the world’s finest athletes make their nut for travelling and competing on the most improtant stage in sport.

But New Zealand tae kwon do competitor starting a brothel to pay his way to London in 2012 seems like a little much. I know, I know, it’s legal in New Zealand, but still – you couldn’t hold a bake sale or something, man?

The two most notable technology firms in the world look set to duke it out on pretty much every front in a battle of nerdy, nerdy titans. This should be fun to watch.

Microsoft’s less than overwhelming launch of it’s new search engine, Bing, was a direct challenge to Google’s search supremacy. All anyone really had to do was wait and see how the big, friendly giant of the Internet reacted.

Well, the wait is over. Google responded to Microsoft’s encroachment on it’s territory in kind yesterday, announcing plans for a spanking new operating system that essentially swats Redmond across the face with a big white glove.

While some netbooks are already using Google’s open source Android OS, it’s proven not quite adequate for everyday computing. But the plan for the new, full fledged OS is more an extension of Google’s Chrome browser(which, full disclosure, I started using at it’s launch and have continued without looking back). For the Chrome OS, Google is looking to make a svelte operating system without a lot of bells and whistles. It will open directly to the web browser, where all of the applications will run. That sort of leanness in an OS may seem like a risky proposition, and it probably is. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s Google, whose extant online programs are steadily gaining popularity.

It’s come to my attention that some grad student at the University of Portsmouth has been assigned for months now to tickle a variety of apes – bonobos, gorillas and orangutans, for instance – and help determine if the noise they are making is actually a primitive form of laughter.

I put it to you that this person has a damn racket going. Even if everybody at their first job, upon being introduced to them, ends the conversation with “Oh, you’re the monkey tickler! Welcome aboard.” I’m just saying, there are a lot worse jobs to be had.

For example.

Being a pharmaceutical company, and therefore mostly evil, Pfizer could use all the good PR it can get. And it seems to have hit the jackpot with Maintain, it’s recently announced program offering free drugs to victims of the latest round of layoffs. The short version is that anyone who has been on one of the drugs on Pfizer’s list for at least three months and can prove they’ve been laid off can get a year’s supply of the drug for free, courtesy of Pfizer.

And while the newly unemployed can get drugs for conditions from high blood pressure to diabetes and even antibiotics through the program, it’s become most notable in the media for providing the recently jobless with that most important of pills – free Viagra.

Depending on what version of the story you believe, Duke Nukem Forever was the most difficult to develop game, most bizarre marketing stunt, or most intricate and expensive practical joke in recent memory.

Whatever it was, the long strange  trip that was the twelve year development cycle of  the saddest running gag in video game history came to it’s fittingly anti-climatic close today when developer 3D Realms went belly up

Though the development rights for the much maligned shooter remain in the hands of Take Two Entertainment, one wonders whether the company would be better off just washing it’s hands of the whole project, which by this point in it’s terrible unlife seems to be a sort of digital bogeyman, sustained by the lunatic ravings of warped minds. Like Dagon, it exists only because of the devotion of it’s tainted servants, who dwell in dark places, whispering ancient curses in dead tongues and waiting for their unclean master to rise.

And really, is that the sort of project you’d want to be associated with?

Making robots cute isn’t a simple proposition, and the industry just took a step backward. The company behind Pleo, the cuddliest piece of artificial life since Teddy Ruxpin appears to be among the latest victims of the global economic suckapalooza as Ugobe filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy today. That means we can probably bid a fond farewell to the best bet in pet robot technology to come on the scene recently. I mean, come on, how can you not love this little guy?

The worst bit of it is that a recent experiment in New York by the Tisch Interactive Telecommunications Program has demonstrated that cute, lost, orphan robots capture the hearts and helping hands of bystanders. The so called tweenbots were released on the streets of New York City, travelling towards a pre-programmed destination. The trick is, they can only travel in straight lines, meaning that to get where they’re going, people need to notice the little guys and then set them on their path, indicated by a flag attached to each machine. The surprising result is that people not only went out of their ways to stop and help the wayward bots, they would even point them away from their destinations to help them avoid dangerous situations.

People suffering from fibromyalgia are big winners this week, thanks to wonder drug naltrexone. Usually used in the treatment of alcoholism or heroin addiction, the drug has recently proven effective in treating kleptomania by numbing the giddy high associated with compulsive theft. Recent studies indicate that naltrexone, which acts on receptors in the brain, may also be effective in treating the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia and may also strengthen evidence that the disease is one of the brain and nervous system, rather than the musculoskeletal condition it has previously been understood as.

While Hulk Hogan is more famous for dealing out pain than suffering  from it, he’s a winner this week, too. Why? Because he didn’t brutally murder his wife and her lover! And according to an article in Rolling Stone this week, he really goddamned wanted to. But you see, he didn’t! You know why?  

Hogan, proudly sporting the Not Killing My Wife Championship Belt

Hogan, proudly sporting the 'Not Killing My Wife' Championship Belt

Because he is a Real American! Gold Star, Hulkster!

Americans who don’t drive are also among this weeks winners, thanks to a spate of stories, the most notable being the Obama administrations new plans for connecting America with high speed rail lines.Life may be getting more convenient and safer for pedestrians with the introduction of a collision system for cars that acts like an airbag for pedestrians. Even people who want to be pedestrians but can’t could be getting in on the act, thanks to Honda’s Robolegs, which will not only be a mobility assisting boon to the elderly or disabled, but provide a completely unfair advantage to users in dance contests. Unless it’s a dance contest against this guy.

Though Seattle is a winner in getting a piece of the planned high speed rail system, the Emerald City has more than it’s fair share of losers this week, starting with the city’s skyline. While buildings constructed after 1994 will probably not crumble and slide into the Puget Sound in the event of a serious earthquake, those built prior to the more strict building codes will probably not be so lucky when a major quake hits the region. Seattle’s buildings aren’t the only things in town whose stability is being called into question, as the city continues to feel the economic pinch with Seattle based companies Onvia and Targeted Genetics both being threatened with delisting by the NASDAQ Stock Exchange.

I know it’s not nice to pick on people who can’t defend themselves, but hey – fetuses aren’t people. And thanks to the prenatal effects of Hong Kong flu and methamphetamine on the developing brains of fetuses, people getting dumber with each passing generation might go from a myth bandied about by the elderly to science fact.

Despite promising results from an electrical implant that could provide relief from a lifetime of embarassment, the incontinent find themselves once again lumped in with the rest of the losers. Because they’re incontinent.

But hey, things could be worse. They could be small, hairy, flightless birds who are getting eaten en masse by weasels imported to New Zealand in the 19th century to combat the plague of rabbits the island had unwittingly unleashed upon itself. Then they’d be kiwis.

Kiwis who pee themselves.

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