Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Book Review #5

Dune Dune by Frank Herbert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Dune is a compelling landscape of ecology, technology, culture, politics, and ideas. In short, it's truly a masterpiece. That said:

Do you remember lateral thinking problems? They re-entered the vogue, or perhaps just my consciousness about 10 years ago. To be fair, I've never read any of Edward De Bono's books, and maybe I will, but I found those problems really annoying.. Some of the answers were borderline obvious ("he knew he was in Australia because the water went down the drain the opposite direction") while others were merely discarded beginnings of movies such as "Dude Where's My Car" or "The Hangover" (A man wakes up in the desert with one burnt match, frost bite on his left hand, a string of multi-colored hankerchiefs, and half a gallon of margarita mix. What the hell happened to him last night?). I remember that one of the notions [maybe apocryphal) of LTPs that I heard over and over was that computers couldn't do them. Only the unique and powerful human mind could, through yes or no questions, construct the stories that explained these scenarios.

And so I wonder, could a Mentat solve a lateral thinking problem?

The Mentat is simultaneously one of the coolest and most dated of Dune creations. Herbert reiterates several times that Mentat reasoning was more effective than the most powerful computers of Earth's golden age.

Think about it. When Herbert was writing Dune the most advanced computer game was "SpaceWars!" They could not "play DOOM." Packet networks (the interwebs) were a mere theory. Transistors were brand new to the computing world.

So on rereading "Dune" I spend most of the time wondering about the limitations of a Mentat. I imagine a Mentat would have the edge on all of my friends who applied for investment banking positions five or so years ago when interviews asked questions like "How many golf balls would fit on a 727?" But would I enjoy going on a date with a mentat? Or, since Herbert refers to the "golden age," is it safe to assume that a masterful mentat (or at least Duncan Idaho) would be able to beat Deep Blue at chess?

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Jerry Beary's Cherry Cake

Not so much a cake as a shapeless muffin, this is another food product that I have had the opportunity to experience thanks to the GED program at the other end of the office.

As opposed to PB&J whose production is merely shrouded in mystery, or murky, the Beary packaging gives nothing away. In fact, several variations of google searches only served up one matching hit.

Jerry Beary's Cherry Cakes are disappointing. It doesn't have the heartiness I expect from a muffin or the sweetness I want out of cake. Jerry Beary does get some points for having real cherries mixed in with what I've been thinking of as "cherry pearls," though on further reflection that's much too generous. Most disturbing is the texture, which is waxenly-moist, like bread baked with crayons. It's not dry, it won't crumble, but if you eat it plain it sticks to your teeth and lodges itself persistently at the roof of your mouth.

For some reason I can't stop eating them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

And it's for Charity!

Selections from the Music & Entertainment section of CharityBuzz:

Justin Timberlake Personalized Steinway Baby Grand Piano

Meet Lady Gaga at the Concert of Your Choice with Two VIP tickets

I think the piano is the biggest ticket item available in that section, while the Lady Gaga offering is the one where the bids have already most exceeded the estimated value.

Friday, December 11, 2009


No, it's not the Zombie Apocalypse, but it's at least as terrifying:

Time Lapsed Map of Unemployment

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Misadventures in Adcopy #4

Today's misadventure in adcopy is found at GECKO sfx. Okay, so Geico's spokesgecko's more doe-eyed cousin wanted to start a graphic effects company. I have no problem with that as long as he's done his homework and goes full out.

A smaller graphic tells me,

WARNING! Creative Blast Area

I've always got my creative hard hat ready (it absorbs the impact of explosive ideas rather than deflecting them). However, this website is totally stactic. There's not even a single link. I don't feel like I'm in any sort of danger, really, I'd welcome slightly more danger.

But I'm having most difficulty with the adcopy:

Creating Myths and Making Dreams ComeTrue is Our Mission. Switch On Your Creativity. Abuse of it.

GECKO sfx seems a little confused about what they want to capitalize, and there's a space missing between "Come" and "True," but what really throws me for a loop is the imperative, Abuse of it. Any interpretations?

Maybe this is a direct result of fragmentation from the afformentioned creative blast area.

*The accompanying blog has not been updated since 2008, so this pretty clearly a ghost site. I wouldn't have been so interested except that I was googling Artifice Magazine and a site supposedly under construction by Gecko sfx was one of the top hits.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Misadventures in Adcopy #3

What comes to mind when you see this word:

Don't be shy. To be fair, this isn't so much a misadventure in adcopy as it is in brand-naming. The adcopy is fine. But I don't know how anyone could get from the brand-name to the product without the picture.

This is one case where I'd really appreciate the addition of a hyphen, Bump-its, or a bit of well-placed capitalization, BumpIts. Though lacking those things the packaging is much more funny.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Scenic [Root] Canals of Venice

Root Canals of Venice

One of my teeth, which already has a crown, hurts. Dentist appointment today. Not in Venice.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Robodating: Mr. Eset searches for the Wobot of his dreams

Could it be this Svedka model? Yes, she's sexy and cheeky, but it's unclear whether she has the the intellect or gravitas to satisfy him.

Frankly, I think he's more likely to fall for Cameron.