Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?

One of the wittiest ads I've ever seen is an Air France full page advertisement that caught my eye a decade or so ago: a handsome business traveler sits on an airplane next to a drop dead gorgeous woman. They are smiling to each other as they clink their Champagne glasses. The caption: as there's virtually no chance this will ever happen to you, you’d be happy to learn we have increased the distance between seats in Business Class by a couple of inches. I'm quoting from memory, totally inaccurate but you get the gist: if you are traveling alone, don’t count on a miracle by which your next seat neighbor will be the person of your dreams.

As you might know, I can relate to the statement above...

Turns out there's a business opportunity here--one that AirTroduction seized.

Here's how USA Today describes their service:
The idea is to connect like-minded fliers--either in the personal or professional realms--who are traveling on the same flights. Here's how it works: Travelers join AirTroductions for free and post personal and/or business profiles. Then, before taking a flight, they enter their itineraries and are notified of other members booked on the same flight. They're given the option of sending anonymous e-mail through the site (at which point a $5 fee kicks in) to determine whether they want to meet at the airport, and, if mutually acceptable, get reassigned to adjoining seats.
But this quote from Newsday captures the idea best:
“It's 14 hours to Tokyo... would I pay $5.00 to sit next to someone who doesn't drool on me?”

Thursday, January 26, 2006

WAAAAAAY Too Highbrow

The Martha Graham Dance Company performed at Stanford yesterday night. The family decided to go; Debora had fond memories from their performance in Tel Aviv eons ago. Usually I'm exempt from attending such events dedicated to cultivated persons. This time however, Debora and the girls were unanimous: "we take the brute with us".

What can I say? The choreography was boring, the symbolisms probably plentiful but beyond my lowbrow grasp, the movement graceless, the costumes ugly, the sets uninspiring, and the music... well it was literally painful. You can tell that I had a ball.

By coincidence, my good friend Levy Cohen and his wife were there too. They did enjoy the show. Something must be wrong with me I guess...

The guy behind us overheard me speaking Hebrew with Emma during the intermission. He engaged in a conversation; turns out he is Stanford's vice provost and dean of research and graduate policy. He too enjoyed the show more than yours truly. Click here and you'll realize he has at least one good reason to like ballet.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Kosher is "the Real Thing"

A letter to the editor as published in the Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2006:

Notwithstanding Coca-Cola's assertion to the contrary, domestic and foreign Coca-Cola taste very different, with the domestic variety tasting syrupy. One can conduct his or her own taste test by comparing regular Coca-Cola with Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola, which can be purchased in late March and April in many cities with Jewish communities. Because corn syrup isn't kosher for Passover, Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola is sweetened with sugar, thus allowing us, for a few weeks each year, to drink "the Real Thing."

Ronald E. Minsk

I don't care - I drink Diet Coke :-)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Got rBST Milk?

In the mornings, I'm too lazy to go out and pick up the newspaper from my front yard before having breakfast; I grab it later on my way to the car. As my daughters don't always tolerate my laptop's presence on the kitchen table, I am sometimes reduced to reading the fine print on cereal boxes...

Yesterday, I read the label on the milk bottle. In the upper corner: "From cows not treated with the GROWTH HORMONE rBST", and in fine print at the bottom of the label: "Federal tests have proven that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST and non rBST treated cows."

While no substantial evidence is available that radiation from mobile phones has any negative effect on our health, authorities do not claim that radiation has been proven to be harmless. So, it is still legitimate to play to the public's fears and market a phone as "radiates less than brand X". But proven is exactly what the milk label says!

Seems to me that cynical marketers no longer try to rely on scientific uncertainty; they now harness to their campaigns even facts proven to be totally irrelevant.

So here is one of my own:

This blog has been produced on a QWERTY keyboard(*)

(*) Federal tests have proven that no significant difference has been shown between blogs produced on QWERTY keyboards and blogs produced on other keyboards.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Idiots and Lunatics

I guess the execution of this policy was not flawless:
The more general Immigration Act of 1882 levied a head tax of fifty cents on each immigrant and blocked (or excluded) the entry of idiots, lunatics, convicts, and persons likely to become a public charge.

(from http://uscis.gov/graphics/aboutus/history/articles/oview.htm)

Monday, January 02, 2006


No more excuses. Armed with Katherine's gift, The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate, I'll pursue peripatetically the tortuous path one takes to provide torturous treatment to indefatigable blathering cacographers.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Cats Aren't Dogs

Among the gifts I got from Richard for the holidays was an amazing little book named Instructoart. It is filled with entertaining colorful pieces of "advice", all aesthetically packaged. As Richard's accompanying note pointed out that this is fodder for my blog, here's an excerpt. Interestingly, I chose to reproduce a part of an atypically verbose and colorless page...
It's amazing to me, that a creature that does its business in a box for everyone to see and smell can act like their shit doesn't stink.


Even cat owners will say, "my cat is so good, he's just like a dog." I wonder how cats got this superior attitude, that they are better than other pets.

Is it because they are part of the cat family and lions are kings of the jungle? Like there is some sort of trickle down effect.

Well, here's a news flash kitties--lions are kings of the jungle because they can kill everyone else. THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU.

Juggling Chainsaws

I did not do anything spectacular to celebrate the new year. I did however catch up on my newspaper backlog and found the one thing I would have done if in Rhode Island yesterday night:

At the Providence Performing Arts Center... is the Passing Zone, a two-man juggling act; they juggle everything from bowling balls to chainsaws.