Saturday, July 30, 2011

CAPTCHA Ads Create Zombies

Solve Media has created an advertising method that makes life easier--ads that actually save time as you view them. Remember those annoying CAPTCHA checks on the internet? You click to submit something, and out of nowhere there's a fuzzy mess of alphabet soup saying you must copy ALL the letters EXACTLY, to prove that you're a human being? Well, you're not the only one who has trouble with those. Solve Media thinks that web users would rather copy a brand logo instead of garbled text--and so far 650,000 clicks a day are proving them right.

These captcha ads can be completed twice as fast as the traditional captcha, and they're a lot less stressful. With corporate CAPTCHA, the days of squinting and puzzling through Salvadore Dali scrabble-puke are over!

So now, unlimited posting is only a few slogans away. To prove you're a real human, you'll ironically have to act like a consumer zombie. Mindlessly quote the corporate motto in front of you, and you'll be able to pass safety checks online. As an added bonus, you'll remember the logos without even trying! By requiring you to read and repeat their message, the CAPTCHA slogans implant themselves in your memory 12 times deeper than a regular banner ad. With interactive learning technology this strong, we could be teaching people all kinds of useful facts.

Instead, our information overload may cause the first real consumer zombies; sleepwalkers who stumble out of bed murmuring "There's nothing like a Dr.Pepper...RRRGH," while they roam the dark night, searching for a can of soda.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

America: Stubborn to a Fault?

Why hasn't the Budget committee been able to save us from default yet? CNN reports that political polarization is handicapping the U.S. government. "People have to cooperate for the system to work," but there are too many special interest groups now, all competing with one another. The current rules "encourage small interest groups - including ideologically charged ones - to capture major political parties as well as Congress itself." Anyone who doesn't pander directly to their supporters risks losing funding and votes.

Look at Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, who "gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he suggested that he might further the conservative agenda through an occasional compromise. That provoked a tirade from Rush Limbaugh, which then produced a torrent of angry e-mails and phone calls to Issa's office. Issa quickly and publicly apologized to Limbaugh and promised only opposition to Obama."

Well, Americans don't like compromise, is this really any surprise? We are some of the most stubborn and single-minded citizens in the world. Just look at the original colonists, who created a new country rather than compromise with their leaders. And today look at our high divorce rates; we don't seem to compromise well on a social level either.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mother Nature Raises Hell this Summer

The North-American heatwave has made many cities more hellish than usual. Whether it's Pennsylvania roadways turning into bubbling tar pits or ozone-smog choking people in DC, the last two weeks of summer have been a little challenging.

"In this heat, it's not just about discomfort," said Latoya White, a health worker in the capital. "For many people it's about survival." Indeed, besides heat stroke and dehydration, Harvard recently published research showing hot weather raises the danger of heart attack.

Air conditioning is one way to escape the heat. But what do you do when your AC fails? Many units in Oklahoma have stopped working because "the units aren't really built to handle this kind of heat for this prolonged period of time." I've seen units failing in New York for the same reason. My parent's compressor actually burst even though they only cool to a modest 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don't try to flee to Canada either, because their central countryside is being ravaged by hundreds of wildfires:

These fires are being caused by increasingly hot weather, drier conditions and DAILY LIGHTNING STRIKES. These fires are so bad, they're polluting the air across the Great Lakes in Minnesota.

As if that's not scary enough, this heatwave actually gets worse at night. "While the current heat wave has recorded 12 all-time daily highs so far this month, it also has registered 98 all-time overnight highs," said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA went on to report that "when temperatures overnight do not cool to levels that provide relief, it increases the stress on people without air conditioning, on livestock and on crops" and that this is "consistent with what we would expect in a greenhouse-warmed world."

Given all of the above, it's very hard to accept this weather as "normal climate progression." Instead, it really feels more like Hell-On-Earth.


It's becoming more nightmarish to follow the U.S. Budget Negotiations. The August 2nd "doomsday" deadline is rapidly approaching. (Doomsday is when the Treasury loses borrowing ability and we risk a budget default.) And since bratty Congress hasn't been able to agree enough to pass anything, the "debt ceiling negotiators" have a new solution:

What's so great about Super Congress? Well, they will be able to pass laws super-fast without having to be too accountable to the public. "This 'Super Congress'...isn't mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers." Any new laws they approve will be fast-tracked through both chambers of "Little Congress" (our current House + Senate), where regular "little" lawmakers could not amend their laws, only give each an up or down vote. And those "little" votes are less powerful than today's votes. The proposed Super Congress only ever needs 51% to pass any law, and they don't need presidential approval (i.e. vetos have no effect on them).

So, does this sound like a good idea to you? It's not like the the regular Congress we have now is particularly heroic. I mean, Republicans want to extend the debt ceiling just long enough to have it fail pre-election season, while Democrats want to extend it just a little bit longer, till post-election. That's why they can't agree to pass something before financial doomsday. So now we're being held hostage to create a Super Congress to save us from disaster?

It feels more like a Super-Villain Congress. And I'm not the first person to think lawmakers with unlimited power would be dangerous. You've heard the saying that "absolute power corrupts absolutely?" Well, this whole message board seems to agree that "any new branch of government, especially one with 'extraordinary new powers' scares the hell out me. No thanks!"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cut Wealthcare

As the US tries to balance their budget, we have some words of advice from crazy liberal Senator Bernie Sanders: "The Republicans are suggesting that we balance the budget on the backs of the sick, the children, the elderly, the poor, [this] is morally unacceptable, and economically a very bad policy. Especially at a time when the richest people are becoming richer."

He also states that social security is paid for by it's payroll tax, and does not actually contribute to the national deficit. Is this true? I don't know because I'm not a budget expert. But I DO know that most liberal Americans don't want social benefits cut, they want THESE things cut:

In the words of one Keith Olbermann fan, "CUT WEALTHCARE, NOT HEALTHCARE."