Monday, August 31, 2009

The truth is out there

A quick follow-up to Friday's post on - a reader brought to my attention that not every mainstream producer is allowing porn companies to riff off their intellectual property. 20th Century Fox has issued a cease-and-desist letter against porn producer New Sensations over its upcoming spoof of The X-Files.

The film features everybody's two favourite paranormal investigators and promises to, as put it, fill "in some of the blanks many X-Files fans had previously left to the imagination."

New Sensations decided last week that discretion was the better part of valour and said it "does not believe that its intended product infringes on the rights of Fox. However, in the spirit of cooperation, the company has decided to respond to Fox’s concerns by adapting the title to The Sex Files: A Dark XXX Parody.”

The characters names have also been changed although viewers shouldn't have any trouble figuring out who's who. Judging from her picture at right, porn star Kimberley Kane is pretty much the spitting image of Scully.

I wonder if they tried to cast David Duchovny to star in the parody? The guy certainly has the resume for it - not only did he get his start on Red Shoe Diaries, a soft-core cable show, he's also a well-known sex addict.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Porn parodies proving to be a "gold rush"

You may remember a little while back I posted about the trend in porn regarding sitcom parodies. Well, it looks like Newsweek has picked up on the phenomenon too. The magazine's Pop Vox blog has an interview with Jeff Mullen, who writes and directs parodies under the oh-so-clever porn name Will Ryder.

Ryder is turning out to be the go-to director of the porn parody world, having helmed spoofs of The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, Three's Company, Bewitched and even Married With Children. He's quoted as saying that porn parodies are the current "gold rush" of the business. You know he's got a point when even is being turned into a porno.

Here's a trailer from Ryder's version of the Cosby Show (completely safe for work). Check it out, as it's completely hilarious - Thomas Ward (whoever he is) does an awesome Bill Cosby:

Newsweek's interview addresses the burning issue I've had in mind: why aren't these parody makers getting sued by the original series' producers? Here's what Ryder had to say:

There are tons of legal precedents for this type of speech. But really, the truth of the matter is, the mainstream companies are too damn smart to sue us. Because they know if they sue us, they are going to draw this huge mainstream spotlight on us, which I want. But they’re too damn smart to do it.

As I said back with the Saved By the Bell post - I've never seen one of these parodies but I must admit they are pretty intriguing. Not so much for the sex, but more for the sheer audacity of taking such a sacred American cultural institution - the sitcom - and turning it completely upside down. I mean come on, we all knew Jack wanted to do Janet and Chrissy, but to actually see him do Janet and Chrissy? That's just something you never thought you'd see but always kinda secretly wished you could, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Viagra in an ice cream cone

So far we've got Viagra in a pill and we could soon have Viagra , but are you ready for Viagra in a cone? The Icecreamists, a weird group of people that have something to do with ice cream, seem to think so.

On their website, the Icecreamists describe themselves as "an anonymous troupe of provocateurs and iconoclasts with a background in staging dramatic high-profile events." Okay, so pretentiousness aside, what they really do is serve ice cream.

The group will be opening a short-term ice-cream stand at London's prestigious Selfridges Ultralounge department store starting on Sept. 11 and running till Nov. 1. Other than selling what will undoubtedly be over-priced ice cream (given the locale), they'll also be peddling a flavour designed to boost the libido.

The "Sex Pistol," as they're calling it, will contain ginkgo, biloba, arginine and guarana, all of which are supposed to boost sex drive, as well as a shot of La Fee Absinthe, which is booze that is supposed to... well... mess you up. Never ones to give up a good pun, Australia's Daily Telegraph has dubbed this particular concoction "vice cream." Not bad Aussies, not bad.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not tonight, bzzzz, I have a headache

There's no end to the wonderful studies that scientists will perform. From the recent research into what would happen if there was a zombie outbreak to figuring out that cows naturally face magnetic north, scientists have for years been finding out the things that we as a people really want to know.

Well now they've discovered that male fruit flies, like their male human counterparts, are hornier than females. Yes, it's true - Swiss researchers have found that after about a minute and a half of mating, female fruit flies start kicking and struggling. Apparently, if the action goes on for any longer it limits the amount of time the female can mate with other males. Ouch. Boy, those female fruit flies sure are slutty.

What makes the study even more bizarre is that researchers somehow managed to prop up dead female flies to look alive - as National Geographic puts it, "Weekend at Bernie's style" - to see if it would make a difference. It did. Sex with dead flies lasted 1.5 times longer than with live ones. Who knew male fruit flies were sicko necrophiliacs?

One expert, not involved in the study, said the flies are similar to humans in that it's all about the foreplay. "I don't know you could say human females want longer copulation, per se," said one. "It's really the foreplay, not the actual act of copulation. In the insects, prior to that, there's courtship going on, and that's like foreplay in humans."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Increase the peace; have a burger

Time Magazine has an interesting article/series on food up on its website. If you've read books like Fast Food Nation and The Omninivore's Dilemma or seen documentaries such as Food Inc., of Time's coverage will be familiar to you; i.e. people should start eating organic food for a host of reasons, including saving the environment, preventing animal cruelty and avoiding abuse of human labour.

Those are all good reasons to eat organic and I'm not going to disagree with them but every bit of media I've seen on this issue seems to trumpet the same anti-food-technology point of view and ignores a very basic fact: without food technology, the world would be a bigger cesspool of war and disease than it already is, and scores of people would be dropping dead from food poisoning all over the globe every day. Indeed, the biggest motivating factor behind war and terrorism in the world is not politics or religion, it's poverty and hunger. The absolute best way to spread world peace is to feed people, because well-fed people are generally happy people.

Unless, of course, they're North Americans. On the one hand, anti-food-tech documentaries like Food Inc. make me mad because they gloss over that important fact. On the other hand, I'm also pleased that we live in a society where we have the option to buy higher-price organic groceries or stick to the cheaper mass-produced stuff. That's an unthinkable luxury for much of the world. I think Chris Rock says it best:


Time's food feature does one excellent section to it - a photo gallery of 15 families from around the world showing off what they typically eat in a week. It's an amazing comparison of what different people eat and what it costs them. There's the Italian family with a table full of produce and breads versus the American family proudly displaying their pizzas and potato chips. Or the family from Chad that spends $1.23 U.S. on its weekly meals versus the British family, which spends $253.15. I've rarely seen a better example of the old adage, "a picture tells a thousand words." I highly recommend checking it out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Who's your daddy, China style

A short blog post today on account of the fact that I spent much of last night celebrating some birthday action. On the one hand, it was my homeboy Kenny Yum's birthday - we went to school together, started a magazine together and have worked in like a half dozen places together. On the other hand, I was also secretly celebrating my own birthday. What can I say - we're both Leos born in the Year of the Tiger (1974). We are totally awesome!

The highlight of the night came towards the end. It turns out that my official Member of Parliament, Olivia Chow, who is the wife of NDP leader Jack Layton, was as the bar we were at. One of our cohorts, Globe and Mail reporter Colin Freeze, tested out his weird dance/Judo moves on Olivia, and she also gave Kenny a lesson in how to properly say "Who's your daddy?" in Cantonese. Overall, I have to give her credit - she was a lot of fun and obviously has a great sense of humour. I don't know too many MPs who would let Colin touch them, much less try to perform martial arts on them.

Here's a picture of Olivia and Kenny (taken on a cellphone camera):

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Turning the book into television

I'm pleased to announce that yesterday I signed an option to turn Bombs, Boobs and Burgers into a television documentary. The deal has been in the works for months and these things, I'm told, move very slowly. I didn't want to spill the beans until the i's were dotted and the tee's were crossed, so I had to wait.

So what is an option? Well, it's certainly good news but it's definitely not a reason to go out and fork over a down payment on a Ferrari. The option I signed is with Cream Productions, a documentary company here in Toronto. Cream basically has a year (with a possible extension of a few months) to come up with a way to transform the book into a documentary, and then sell that to a broadcaster/distributor. They've got a preferred client in mind and I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to talk about that, so mum's the word for now.

Anyway, if Cream can't sell their treatment within the allotted time the rights revert back to me, whereupon I can try to sell them to someone else. So Bombs, Boobs and Burgers is still long way away from TV, but it certainly has taken a step in the right direction.

Cream has done some cool stuff and some of it is tangentially related to the themes of my book. There's , which is about the "perilous journey of a human sperm," to my personal favourite, How William Shatner Changed the World. It's all about the origins of Star Trek technology, hosted by the man himself. Here's a clip:

So far it looks like Cream envisions Bombs, Boobs and Burgers as being in the same humourous-yet-informative vein as the Shatner documentary, possibly with a Seth Rogen-like host. I like the approach but I also think a female host could pull it off, possibly even a porn star. In particular, Jesse Jane could work - she certainly knows porn, comes from a military family and has to be very careful about what she eats. Combine all that with a talent for performing in front of the camera (!) and you may just have the perfect host!

UPDATE: Whoops, in my exuberance I got some details wrong. How William Shatner Changed the World was actually produced by Montreal-based Handel Productions, not Cream. The director, Julian Jones, is who Cream has in mind to helm Bombs, Boobs & Burgers. My bad.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mega-Tamago = mega-vomiting

I thought I'd keep today's blog post simple. As they say, a picture says a thousand words. Here's the "Mega-Tamago," which is available through McDonald's in Japan for a limited time. It has three burger patties, two strips of bacon and that egg thing found on McMuffins. I like my McBurgers as much as the next guy but I've got to ask: who in their right mind would eat this thing? And how many calories does this thing pack? Eight-thousand?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A (nearly) life-long goal achieved

Today I turn 35 - a relatively joyous birthday as it's a landmark for me. I grew up in a single-parent family, raised by my mom, a hairdresser. Needless to say, we weren't exactly rolling in money during my childhood. As the latter years of high school ticked away, I had to decide on what I was going to do with my life, on what I would be when I grew up. I knew I didn't want to end up pumping gas or working at McDonald's, the best fates that many kids from poor, broken families can hope for.

I had two options. I could draw, so I could have opted to work towards becoming some sort of artist. I also had the ability to string sentences together plus an impeccable sense of spelling, cultivated by years of misbehaving in grade school and thereby writing out vocabulary lists again and again. Perhaps a career as a writer beckoned?

When you grow up poor, you tend to think in practical terms. There probably wasn't much of a living to be had by drawing pictures of Iron Man (my specialty at the time), except maybe by drawing them for Marvel, but let's face it, I wasn't that good. Writing, on the other hand, promised a number of options: if not books, then journalism or, at the very least, that lowest of low professions, public relations (just kidding to any PR people reading this). Writing was clearly the smarter option.

Even at that tender-yet-ultimately-decisive age of 17, I knew that writing a book was my end goal - and it would be one I'd try to achieve by the time I turned 35. It was an arbitrary age, but it was a nice round number that would come a decade or so after finishing some sort of post-secondary education. Ten years ought to be enough to get to my goal, I thought.

Journalism would be a waypoint on that journey. I got into Ryerson's journalism program and took out a heavy student loan to finance my education. My reasoning was simple: I had enough faith in my writing skills to wager that I'd find a decent, well-paying job after getting my degree. And so it went. I first ended up with a low-paying gig at a computer trade magazine (where I worked with some other excellent up-and-coming journalists, including my current boss), but I was only there for a few months before sneaking into the big time with a copy-editing job at The Globe and Mail (business section copy chief Greg O'Neill gets my eternal gratitude for helping me score that one). The Globe's generous salary helped me repay my loan relatively quickly, fulfilling that part of the grand plan.

Along the way, I started an ill-fated science-fiction magazine called Realms with a few friends. The first version was felled by a lawsuit (the story of which is too long to get into here), the second of which was ended by our total lack of business acumen. After six-plus years at the Globe, I headed overseas to work in China and New Zealand and had the experience of a lifetime. Coming back, I landed at the National Post and then the CBC.

Truth is, I did all of it to build up the credentials often needed to land a book deal, which ultimately happened last year. It's very satisfying to be able to say that on the day I turn 35, with lots of hard work, help from some great people and a healthy dose of luck, I've fulfilled a goal I set for myself more than half my life ago.

Yesterday, I met with my editor at Penguin to go over some of the stuff that will need smoothing out in my second draft. The final version will be due in early October and the book will likely go to print in December for a March release. Indeed, this birthday is going to be a little bit sweeter than previous ones.

I'm going to enjoy the day, then think about where I want to be by the time I'm 40. Maybe I could write an issue of Iron Man? Now that would be awesome!

Monday, August 17, 2009

We need to find a way to Mars

It's no secret that Republican governments in the United States have generally spent more on defense than Democrats - that's certainly the case with the current administration, which is looking to at least spend more wisely than Bush did, if not considerably less overall. Interestingly though, Republican governments have also tended to spend more on space exploration, and it looks like that's turning out to be the case now as well.

Over the weekend, a government review panel headed by a former Lockheed chief reported that the United States can't afford its plan to go back to the moon by 2020. As for Mars? Forget about it. With existing budgets, the only thing the U.S. can afford is some upgrades to the International Space Station.

It would appear that this report is designed to pour cold water on previous plans to greatly expand the U.S. presence in space, which is really too bad. An entire chapter of my book is devoted to the spin-off benefits we, the general population, have seen as the result of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Early space exploration was pretty much a proxy war between the two superpowers. The race to get rockets that could escape the Earth's atmosphere was not really about getting into space; it was about creating missiles that could reach an enemy on the other side of the planet. The Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik, and thus getting to space first, was perhaps one of the most important events in U.S. history - it was a serious blow to the U.S. psyche and created the very real possibility that the country could be destroyed by long-range nuclear missiles.

NASA and DARPA, the advanced technology research lab, were both created in response to Sputnik. If you've been reading this blog, you know just how important DARPA has been to technology (they invented the internet). NASA has been no less important - the space agency has created everything from grooved concrete for safer driving to super soaker water guns. NASA has been particularly important to food technology; the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety system, a set of standards used by just about everyone involved in the global food chain, was created for NASA in the sixties by Pillsbury. If it wasn't for NASA, we might be having a healthy portion of salmonella and E. Coli with every meal. Mmm... salmonella...

It'll be interesting to see how Obama reacts to the review. To me, this sounds like a bunch of negative Nellies whining about what can't be done. But that's crazy talk - the United States went from scratch to the moon in just ten years (under a Democrat, JFK, no less). If there's a will to put a human on Mars, surely a way can be found. Humankind stands to reap untold of riches from the technology that will be developed along the way. That should be reason enough to spend the money.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Taco Bell goes green with no natural ingredients

The Onion strikes again, this time with a video news report that spoofs food technology. Taco Bell, according to the satirical website, is joining the green trend by moving to a menu that uses absolutely no ingredients found in nature. By synthesizing all of its food, the chain is minimizing its effect on the environment.

It's funny stuff. Check out the video below - it has some hilarious quotes from a company "spokesman," like this explanation: "We have a long tradition of taking as little as possible from the natural world... Our ground beef for example... it's always had 4% meat. With Taco Bell's new Green initiative we've actually been able to replace that 4% with a simple chemical adhesive."

Or the chain's upcoming initiative to recycle all of its packaging back into edible food: "You will actually be eating the garbage you produce."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Porn money too dirty for breast cancer

Here's a really bizarre story. It looks like the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation is too good to take money from porn. The organization has turned down at least $5,000 from Kiwi porn king Steve Crow, who had planned to donate the money if he got 100 women to take part in his upcoming "Boobs on Bikes" parade in Auckland in September. Crow planned to raise the donation to $7,500 if 100 men also signed up.

According to New Zealand's 3 News, the organization said it takes care "to avoid events/projects that might be inappropriate or do not support our intentions, messages or have relevance to our stakeholders."

Crow, not surprisingly, was livid. "Is the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation so flush with cash that it does not need money to help New Zealand women combat and/or live with this horrible disease?" he wrote the organization. "If not, then who the hell are you to take a moral high-ground that could deny one or more New Zealand women a better life?"

Crow also criticized the foundation for taking money from SkyCity and the Lion Foundation, which make most of their income from alcohol and gambling.

I will always have a very soft spot in my heart for New Zealand, given that it was my home for more than a year. I had some amazing times there and made some great friends. There is no country in the world as beautiful and no people as fun, welcoming and offbeat - which completely explains what happens next in this weird story.

Rather than donate to the Breast Foundation, Crow has decided to give his money to Clitoraid, an organization set up in the United States by the Raelian movement to help people living with genital mutilations. The Raelians are, of course, a UFO cult started by Claude Vorilhon, a Frenchman who currently lives here in Canada. Oh man, check out the Clitoraid video:

"Yes, it IS possible to rebuild a clitoris!" Holy crap, could this story be any more bizarre? I doubt it. God I love those crazy Kiwis (and alien worshippers).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chinese netizens creating their own vigilante justice

My former CBC colleague , now continuing his Search Engine podcast for TV Ontario, has a wickedly interesting installment up this week. It's all about China's "Human Flesh Search Engine," and it's not about what you'd think (a.k.a. a porn search engine). The term actually refers to a type of online vigilante culture that has sprung up among internet users in China.

The podcast details a few examples of how Chinese "netizens" have used the internet to exact their own form of justice on others and, in some cases, take the power back. One example given involves the whole Green Dam porn-filtering software that Chinese authorities on every new computer sold in the country. To support the move, the state-run CCTV ran a report that featured a young man talking about how his friend had become addicted to online porn simply by using Google to find it.

Well, according to the podcast, the Human Flesh Search Engine didn't buy the report and discovered that the young man in question was actually an intern at the TV station - his whole testimonial was obviously a load of bull. Netizens then dug up every bit of information they could find on the intern, as well as his girlfriend, and posted it online, then proceeded to harass the hell out of him. The dude and his girlfriend had to delete their blogs and the government banned his name as a search term. The Green Dam, meanwhile, has been indefinitely delayed.

This is all only tangentially related to porn but fascinating nevertheless. It's amazing to see how Chinese users are developing their internet into something resembling a democratic medium despite the best efforts of the government to stop them. It's perhaps the best example of the ideal that the internet does truly want to be free and democratic. If the Chinese government can't stop it, no one will.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Military gets invites to use Google Voice

Here in Canada, we often get shafted when it comes to technology. New and cool stuff just about always comes out in the United States first, leaving us Canadians salivating at the thought of getting our hands on it. Such was the case with the iPhone, such is currently the case with online television website Hulu and such will be the case for as long as we are denied Google Voice, the awesome new internet-based calling service from, of course, Google.

Google Voice looks to be pretty amazing. Basically, you get a phone number from Google which you can then give out to everybody you know. You can then set your various phones - cell, office and home - to answer to that number, which means you never have to miss a call again since those calls will follow you depending on how you set up the service. There are also tons of other features, such as voice mail, call forwarding, directory assistance and so on. Best of all, like just about everything from Google, it's free.

Here's of what Google Voice does while here's a video that explains the basics:

The service is only available in the U.S. and by invitation only so far. Last week, invitations were extended to all American military personnel, a group of people Google feels will particularly benefit from the service because they are often highly mobile.

Military personnel are already fans of the service. Army Sargeant Dale Sweetnam, writing on Google's blog, said it's like "a care package in audio form." "Loved ones can call to leave messages throughout the day, and then when that service member visits an Internet trailer, all the messages are right there," he said. "I know when I return to combat, Google Voice will help make life a little more manageable."

This is yet another example of a company testing out a technology with the military before rolling it out onto the public at large. I, for one, can't wait.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jenna Jameson takes on McDonald's

Howdy folks! I'm back from my two-week vacation/journey into northwestern Canada, and what a trip it was! Forest fires, salmon-eating bears, freezing nights in a tent... ah, the great outdoors. It'll probably take me a few days to adjust back to city life. At least I came back to find the garbage strike over.

I hope everyone enjoyed the previous two weeks of trivia. Now that I'm back, I'll be resuming the usual fare here of news and views on various aspects of war, sex and food. With no further ado, let's get to it...

In today's post, we're fortunate to have one of those oh-so-rare crossovers between sex and fast food. It appears that Jenna Jameson, perhaps the world's most famous porn star, is giving McDonald's a piece of her mind. According to Fox News (translation: take this with a grain of salt), Jameson found time in between having kids and doing a Playboy shoot to film a commercial for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In the 30-second ad, which is part of PETA's McCruelty campaign and which Fox says will begin airing in the fall, Jameson takes issue with the inhumane way that McDonald's chickens are slaughtered. Here's some of what she says in the commercial:

Chickens killed for McNuggets are slammed into metal shackles. Spinning blades meant to cut their throats often tear through their wings or bodies instead. Many birds survive this terrifying, painful process, only to be scalded to death in defeathering tanks. There’s a less cruel method of slaughter that renders chickens unconscious, but McDonald’s chooses to allow birds to be mutilated and scalded instead.

Jameson says she is a strict vegetarian, which is not surprising given that few other occupations require such close attention to diet. Porn stars are stereotypically considered to be none too bright, but they certainly are smart enough to watch what they eat.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Trivia day 10: Silicon Valley founder was a crazy racist

There's been a lot of debate over the years about what was the most important invention of the twentieth century. Jet engines, nuclear power, the internet... all are definite contenders. Many technologists, however, give the title to the transistor, the little electronic chip that made just about everything else possible.

The man who invented the transistor, William Shockley, was by all accounts a difficult person to work with. He came upon his invention, along with two fellow engineers, in 1947 while working for Bell Labs in New Jersey. The invention won the trio the Nobel Prize but Shockley returned to his home in California in 1953 after clashing with his co-workers. He eventually found himself running his own company, Shockley Semiconductor in Mountain View, which is where Google is based today.

Shockley did well but refused to listen to a suggestion from a number of his engineers that silicon might make a better semiconducting material than the gold and germanium they had been using. Infuriated, the engineers, dubbed the "traitorous eight" by Shockley, left and formed their own company, Fairchild Semiconductor. A number of engineers eventually left Fairchild and formed Intel and AMD, which are now the biggest computer chip makers in the world. All of the companies together formed the backbone of Silicon Valley. The transistors and integrated circuits they pumped out were golden to the military, who needed them for all their various computers and weapons systems.

In his later years, Shockley started getting into eugenics and ended up saying and doing some shocking things. He said black people were less intelligent than whites and that by reproducing at higher levels, they were going to end up making the overall human race stupider. He advocated paying people with IQs under 100 to undergo voluntary sterilization and even donated his own sperm to a bank devoted to preserving humanity's best genes.

Sigh. Why do so many geniuses have to wind up as utter nutjobs?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Trivia day 9: Jumbo food grown from space seeds

If genetically modified crops make you nervous, China's giant space vegetables may outright shock you. As you can see from the picture (courtesy of The Telegraph and Rex Features), Chinese scientists are now growing super-sized vegetables such as pumpkins from seeds that have been cultivated in space.

The seeds, which were initially launched into space in 2006 aboard a satellite, have sprouted up some impressive specimens, such as two-foot-long cucumbers and 21-pound tomatoes. Twenty-one pounds! That's a lot of tomato! Moreover, the space produce appears to also have higher vitamin concentrations, which means these fruits and vegetables may not just solve food-shortage problems, but also malnutrition issues.

The alarming part, though, is that scientists aren't quite sure why the space seeds are producing such big plants. They think that cosmic radiation, micro-gravity and magnetic fields may have something to do with it, but they're not positive. Very reassuring.

Nevertheless... one of the themes explored in my book are the contributions of NASA to improving food here on Earth. As other countries develop their space programs, so too will they match NASA in providing technology that affects all of us. This China story is a great example of that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Triva day 8: Francis Ford Coppola, the Pornfather

It shouldn't come as a surprise that many of the biggest actors and directors in Hollywood got their start in porn. After all, the genre has historically had very few barriers to entry and provided an easy way for budding stars to pay the bills.

Sylvester Stallone's involvement is pretty well known. Sly filmed a porn movie in the early seventies that was released by an opportunistic producer after Rocky cleaned up at the box office and at the Oscars. Trust me, you owe it to yourself to watch this hilarious promo for the porn, called The Italian Stallion:

Not as well known, however, is fellow Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola's involvement in porn. After veteran war photographer Russ Meyer hit it big in 1959 with his film The Immoral Mr. Teas, there was a stampede into the genre of "nudie cuties," which were essentially the soft-core porn films of the day. Coppola's first three professional films, The Peeper, Tonight for Sure and The Playgirls and the Bellboy were all nudie cuties that the director, after achieving fame, expressed some shame over. Indeed, in later interviews Coppola said that he was uncomfortable shooting nude scenes because it made him feel a little dirty.

Nevertheless, when you're looking for a break, porn can be the easy way to go. Like Stallone said back in the 70s: "When you're hungry you do a lot of things you wouldn't ordinarily do."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Trivia day 7: Right Guard, the choice of Chuck Norris and, possibly, the Third Reich

The other day as I was putting on some deodorant, I started wondering where it came from. I did a little reading and was somewhat surprised at its back story.

Right Guard was originally created as a spray-on deodorant by Gillette back in the early sixties. It eventually morphed into the tube form that most deodorants come in. In 2006, Procter and Gamble acquired Gillette and was forced to sell the Right Guard brand, presumably because the company held too much power in the deodorant market.

The buyer of Right Guard was Dial Corporation, which is a subsidiary of Henkel, a German company based in Dusseldorf. Henkel, like many older German companies, was pressed into Nazi service during the Second World War. The company made use of prison camp labour and after the war had to pay heavy restitution to the people it helped victimize. Given that the company collaborated with the Nazis, that kind of makes the deodorant's name a little offputting, doesn't it?

Mind you, it's hard to have a problem with a product that is endorsed by no less than Chuck Norris himself:

Make no mistake, about it - the typical household is full of this sort of stuff. I've got a Panasonic TV and home theater system, for one. Panasonic is the main operating brand of Osaka-based Matsushita, which is a company that was nearly busted up after WWII because of its heavy involvement with the Japanese war effort. It's ironic how companies on the losing side nearly got taken out while many of those on the winning side immediately went on to become titans of industry.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Trivia day 6: Java inventor was busted for trying to have sex with a 13-year-old

If you work in an office, chances are good that at one time or another you've tried to download some software onto your computer, only to be rejected by your company's firewall. You probably got a message saying that some faceless administrator somewhere would have to approve whatever it was that you were trying to download, whether it was some kind of video-viewing software or a video game.

In the early days of the web, this was a big impediment to innovation. After all, if you were a software engineer or computer programmer, you wouldn't want to waste your time designing neat stuff for the web if nobody was going to end up using it because their employer blocked them from doing so. Companies, meanwhile, didn't want to run the risk of employees putting unapproved software on their machines because the stuff could be full of viruses or other maliciousness.

Luckily for everyone involved, the good folks at Sun Microsystems invented Java, a computer language that allowed, among other things, software applications to work within your web browser, thus avoiding the need to download stuff and thus bump into a firewall. Java was one of the web's key inventions because it allowed all sorts of multimedia stuff to happen within web browsers such as Netscape and Internet Explorer. From online crossword puzzles and other games, to media players and maps and so on. Hurray for Java!

There's always a dark side though. In 1999, Patrick Naughton, one of the main Sun engineers behind Java, was nabbed by an FBI sting at the Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles where he arrived for what he believed would be a sexual rendezvous with a thirteen-year-old girl he had met online. Naughton, who at the time was overseeing Disney’s internet content, was convicted of travelling across state lines to have sex with a minor but avoided jail time by brokering a deal to help the FBI capture pedophiles online.

Since then, some within the software community have wondered just what Naughton's real motivations were for creating Java. The software language's firewall-circumvention ability cleared the way for a lot of innovation, but it also made it harder for an employer to see just what their employees were up to online.

With that said, is it a coincidence that approximately 70% of all porn is viewed during the 9-5 business hours?
Newer Posts Older Posts Home