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March 8 to 14, 2004
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Special Obesity Issue
Preventable deaths from obesity are overtaking tobacco - this was a pretty big news item last week:
But I always enjoy the European take on these news items - "Fat of the land is killing more Americans than cigarettes":
And remember one of the core facts of human nature (now scientifically proved) - when people are presented with more, they will take more, consciously or not: here's a pill that allows you to do it - it speeds weight loss and helps smokers kick the habit at once:
Modern Life
Encyclopedias, whether printed or digital, are becoming less popular:
Intellectual Property and You
Those who do not learn from history... The amazing Lawrence Lessig wrote a nice piece on how Hollywood, radio, cable TV, and the music industries were all born from content piracy:
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is suing the FCC on "overbroad regulation of next-generation televisions and related devices". Left unchallenged, anything you watch on TV or computers in the future cannot be copied without express permission:
New Tech
The Belkin iPod Media Reader
Attached to your iPod, it will take any of six different digital film media types and store the photos on your iPod so you can reuse the card. Now you can use your iPod as a bootable backup drive, a portable music device, AND a digital photo storage device when on the road or traveling!
A new DVD recorder from HP burns silkscreen-like labels on the entire side of the disc:
Writing a screenplay? Here's a catalog of "narrative tropes and idioms". Learn about character archtypes such as the Anti Hero, the Evil Twin, and the Green Skinned Space Babe:
These fake tattoo sleeves look pretty cool - would be great for Halloween, parties, or fitting in at the local biker bar:
Topps' "Wacky Packages" (satirical stickers from the 1970s) are making a comeback, and will be updated for the 21st century:
And have you seen their old "Mars Attacks" series from the early 60's?
The most comprehensive picture even taken from the Hubble Telescope was unveiled. It shows nearly 10,000 galaxies. They offer super-high resolution pictures, suitable for printing on large canvas at Kinko's and covering a wall:
Hit Song Science (HSS) analyses music for its "hit" potential, comparing a song's qualities to millions of others:
HSS claims to have already scored a hit on the charts with the single "Left Outside Alone" by Anastacia. I admit it's catchy:
Check out this video clip on HSS from NBC - it shows how musical desirableness is analyzed visually in a 2D graph of 2.5 million songs:
Elcodrive's debut album "Somewhere Between Now and Then" was enhanced with HSS technology. One critic says "Elcodrive has not put forth any newfangled ideas in their release, which translates into music that is uninteresting and hopelessly mundane." Another says "They write real choruses and melodies that are more than merely memorable... highly recommended." Who to believe?
A new sonic "construction set" has been released freely online which contains clips art and samples and breaks from the hip-hop artist Jay-Z. This allows people to create their own albums based on Jay-Z's work and could represent a new revenue stream for existing musicians:
George Michael will offer his songs freely online from now on, a music industry first for an established artist. Actually this is a great strategy for someone with an already popular back catalog:
There's an interesting architectural trend towards "green roofs" - creating mini-ecologies in unused urban areas, mainly, roofs:
Here's a photo of the eco-roof of Chicago's City Hall:
You Heard It Here Folks!
It's officially true! Thanks to confirmation from China's first astronaut, you CANNOT see the Great Wall from space!
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