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March 31, 2009

Any TV commercial not on YouTube might as well not exist

Jeez, even a brain-dead anesthesiologist knows that if you don't buy a lottery ticket, you can't win.

So how is it that ad agencies and the companies that pay them up the wazoo to create their TV commercials don't automatically post them on YouTube from the time they begin running on TV?

Because someone like me might take a fancy to a commercial — like the one for Symbicort that I mentioned yesterday — and post it on their website or blog, with nothing but good things to say about it.

But when the commercial's nowhere to be found on YouTube — as is the case with the Symbicort spot — well, what's a blogger to do except put up a blast from the past (top) that is?

It's hard to go viral without a vector.

And you can quote me on that.

March 31, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Giant Cheetos — They're Here


The snack experts at taquitos.com reviewed them as follows.


Giant Cheetos

Each piece in this bag of Cheetos was quite large, as you would expect from the Giant Cheetos name, with a tube-like shape, kind of like a marshmallow, though somewhat irregular, with rounded-off ends. Each tube was about an inch and a half in diameter and about an inch and a half long. The bag said that snackers probably can't get one entire piece into their mouths at once, but I had just minimal trouble trouble doing so. (Maybe that makes me a bigmouth.) Once I got it in there, it was definitely a lot of Cheeto. There was a pretty good cheese taste, plus a lot of corn puff taste from the vast cheeseless interior. The crunch level was somewhere between the level of Cheetos Puffs and Cheetos Crunchy. Eating a piece all at once was a bit of a challenge, so for some of the puffs, I went with the gnawing method. Cheese levels varied from one piece to the next, but the ones with a lot of cheese were pretty good. Our tasters were quite impressed by the size of the Giant Cheetos, and they liked the taste and texture. So even with quite a bit of food in a single Cheeto, they kept coming back to the bag for more.

March 31, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Plea Deal Includes Resurrection Clause: 'Mother to testify against alleged cult and to go free if son rises from dead'


Above, the headline over Dan Morse's article in today's Washington Post, which begins, "Accepting a plea bargain that her attorney described as unprecedented in American jurisprudence, a 22-year-old Maryland woman [above and below] yesterday agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of other defendants in the death of her son [above and below] under the condition that charges against her be dropped if the child rises from the dead."

Here's the Post story, along with photos that accompany the online version.


Plea Deal Includes Resurrection Clause

Mother to testify against alleged cult and to go free if son rises from dead


Accepting a plea bargain that her attorney described as unprecedented in American jurisprudence, a 22-year-old Maryland woman yesterday agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of other defendants in the death of her son under the condition that charges against her be dropped if the child rises from the dead.

"It also is specifically noted," Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Timothy Doory said in court as he described the plea bargain to the boy's mother, "that if the victim in this case, Javon Thompson, is resurrected, as you still hold some hope he will be, you may withdraw the plea, and the charges will be nolle prossed [withdrawn] against you."

The boy's mother, Ria Ramkissoon, is shaping up as prosecutors' star witness against a 40-year-old Baltimore woman named Queen Antoinette. Prosecutors allege that Queen Antoinette led a small cult, called One Mind Ministries, based in a West Baltimore rowhouse [below].


In early 2007, prosecutors say, Queen Antoinette instructed Ramkissoon and others to deprive Javon of food and water because he didn't say "amen" before breakfast.

Queen Antoinette has been charged with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death, as have three of her alleged followers. Any trial is expected to be at least two months away.

In yesterday's hearing, prosecutors said they would drop murder charges against Ramkissoon. She pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death. If she testifies truthfully against the other defendants, according to yesterday's agreement, prosecutors will recommend that she be released from jail, placed on probation, and provided treatment that could include "a process of deprogramming."

A spokeswoman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office said that in recent weeks, as prosecutors and Ramkissoon's attorney discussed the plea bargain, prosecutors made it clear that Ramkissoon could not get out of her obligations if she asserted that Javon came back as anything other than himself.

"This would need to be a Jesus-like resurrection," Margaret Burns, the spokeswoman, said after the hearing. "It cannot be a reincarnation in another object or animal."

Ramkissoon, listed in court records as five feet tall and 100 pounds, was led into court wearing jeans, a bright yellow shirt, leg chains and handcuffs.

She displayed little emotion, walking past friends and relatives without appearing to make any prolonged eye contact. Her mother sobbed in her seat, both before the plea and while prosecutors read aloud the facts as they see them.

Prosecutors said Queen Antoinette concluded that Javon had developed a "spirit of rebellion" and should not be given food or water for at least two days. Fearing that his mother, Ramkissoon, might "break down and feed the child," Queen Antoinette ordered that the child be given to another group member, prosecutors alleged yesterday.

After Javon died, he was placed on a couch while everyone knelt down and prayed. Ramkissoon also danced around her son, prosecutors said. The boy's body was later moved to a back room.

At one point, two members measured Jason's body and bought a suitcase. Members believed that if the body could travel with them, it could be resurrected at a later date, said Steven Silverman, Ramkissoon's attorney. The group members left the suitcase with a man they had befriended. Police eventually discovered it in his shed in Philadelphia.

Also during yesterday's hearing, Queen Antoinette and another defendant, Trevia Williams, indicated that they had attorneys but didn't say who they are. Queen Antoinette said little during the hearing. She talked quietly with courtroom security officials during breaks.




the child's grandmother, Seeta Newton, who  "... tried to save her daughter and grandchild after they became immersed in 1 Mind Ministries...."



she "...places a kiss as well as two flowers on the grave of her grandson, Javon Thompson. She says one flower is from her and the other is from the boy's mother. 'She is still waiting for the resurrection,' Newton said."

March 31, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bubble Wrap Wall Calendar


I hate to pop your bubble — much more fun for you to do it yourself.

And think of the craziness when it arrives and you have to catch up to that day's date.

"Great gift for that special designer/obsessive/compulsive in your life."

Measures 4 feet high x 1.5 feet wide.

In English, German or Japanese.

$20.09  —  get it?

I didn't at first.


But take a moment to consider who's writing this....

March 31, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

So you want to be a first responder — 'Zero Hour: America's Medic' was made for you


Long story short: The National Emergency Medical Services Preparedness Initiative (NEMSPI) last week unveiled a video game called "Zero Hour: America's Medic" to let emergency workers — or anyone else who can pony up $14.95 for the download — practice their skills on the virtual scene of large-scale crises.

Here's Kathleen Hom's informative story from today's Washington Post.


Sober Game for First Responders


Imagine being a first responder heading toward a major explosion or chemical spill with memories of Sept. 11 flooding your brain. Now think again, with the benefit of having played out those scenarios and your response to them.

That's what the leaders of the National Emergency Medical Services Preparedness Initiative hopes paramedics and EMTs will be able to do. The institute, part of George Washington University, last week unveiled a video game that will allow emergency workers to hone their skills on the virtual scene of large-scale crises.

Using a $4.8 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security and taking a cue from a Defense Department game called America's Army — which shows soldiers what life is like in battle — NEMSPI spent two years designing the game.


Target users include paramedics and EMTs, whose training varies greatly across the country, as well as interested citizens, says Gregg Lord, NEMSPI's associate director.

Players go through four scenarios that get more complex as the game progresses. It starts with an emerging pandemic, moves to an earthquake and a sports complex explosion and culminates in the accidental derailment of a train carrying chemicals.

These are all plausible situations, Lord says. "We took that [pandemic] scenario from SARS in Toronto . . . and something similar [to the derailment] happened in South Carolina with a chlorine leak," he says. Players learn about equipment, what questions to ask victims, triage and treatment.


Lord says developing the game cost a fraction of what it takes to implement a four-day practice scenario, which can cost as much as $40 million. He says he hopes to get more grants to improve the game, which can be downloaded at www.nemspi.org for $15 after registering on the site.

March 31, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paper Towel


"High quality 100% cotton tea towel designed to look like a sheet of lined notepaper."

Designed by London's I Saw It First studio.

[via pulp]

March 31, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Denomination Effect


Long story short: To save money, carry big bills.

Here's Alex Mindlin's "Drilling Down" feature on the psychology behind the behavior, from yesterday's New York Times Business section.


A Reluctance to Break the Large Bills

A paper soon to be published in The Journal of Consumer Research investigates the so-called denomination effect — the additional tight-fistedness people exhibit when their money is tied up in a few large-denomination bills, as opposed to many small ones.

In one study, college students who had been given four quarters were more likely to buy proffered candy — and bought more of it — than students given a single dollar bill. In another, 20 percent of Chinese women given a single 100-yuan note ($14.66) chose not to spend the money on an array of shampoo, bedding and other household goods — but the rate of abstention was only 9.3 percent among women given the same amount of money in smaller notes.

“People overvalue these large bills,” said Joydeep Srivastava, a professor of marketing at the University of Maryland and one of the study’s two authors. “It’s partly a self-control mechanism — I want to hold onto it, because if I do break that big denomination, I lose track of my spending.” Professor Srivastava said his findings were especially relevant to “places like China or India that are predominantly a cash-based economy.”


Co-author Priya Raghubir's NPR interview has more.

March 31, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

OK Thumbtacks


Russian or




Set of 10: $11.54.

March 31, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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