My Bank is Nothing Like This.

I've written about the inappropriate levels of customer service at my bank before in My Bank Doesn't Understand Customer Service. That time I didn't name them but there's no avoiding it this time.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has been running a TV ad campaign with the slogan Determined to be different. Their latest ad on high TV rotation I've embeded below. Take a moment to watch it as the rest of this article will be referencing the ad.



The first thing that struck me as odd was the Banking Concierge who meets you at the door?

The closest my bank has come to a Concierge is when I wrote previously about my banks Customer Service staff (see aforementioned article link above) accosting me with a "Hello, how are you? Just going to the Tellers are we?" greeting.

They didn't greet me at the door but kind of spoke to me from the Customer Service Desk before I could get past to the tellers. I can only imagine most people gave the same some what confused response I did at the time as this practice of greeting people who didn't actually approach the Customer Service Desk was dropped rather quickly.

Moving on to the main character of the commercial, Sara Kennedy, who is attempting to break the world record in triple bank transaction...what the? Let's imagine this was you or I.

We're greeted at the door by the bank concierge who assesses our needs, directing us to the banking consultant who can help us open a term deposit. He then escorts us to a free teller, as the other people in the bank go wild clapping at our progress (how many happy, smiley people have you ever seen queuing in a bank?).

At the teller we go for the 'unthinkable, a single transfer, double deposit with a triple cash back twist'... we'll get back to that in a moment... as the concierge now escorts us back down the main straight leading out of the bank, completing our banking in record time.

One can't help but think that all this could have been achieved faster without some fictional concierge getting between you and the Customer Service desk.

Not only that but how hard is banking anyway that the bank needs to hire a concierge just to 'assess your needs'. Isn't that what the customer service people and banking consultants are for? Who the hell is this extra guy escorting us around the bank in record time?

Have a look at the ad again and this time imagine the concierge is wearing a badge labeled 'Security'. Suddenly you see this ad in a whole new light. That guy is actually watching your every move to make sure you're not stealing the money! Think about it. He's looking over Sarah's shoulder every step of the way.

Back to that transaction. So just what the f**k is a single transfer, double deposit with a triple cash back twist? My guess is it's a transfer of money into your account from some other account, followed by two cash deposits... after that the triple cash back is a mystery. Did Sara get triple the money back that she deposited into her term deposit in cash? I've no idea? I should probably go ask that bank concierge - except he doesn't exist in my local branch?

This ad, as well as many of the other ads in the Commonwealth bank's latest ad campaign, which you can view in a playlist on the bank's Youtube channel, are meant to be a tongue in cheek. Unfortunately they fail because so much of what is described in many of them just doesn't happen as part of the real customer experience.

Take this video from the series titled 'Call You Back'...



It starts out all well and good but when, if ever, has not one but four Commonwealth Bank employees turned up unannounced at anyones house, for any reason ever, that wasn't related to a foreclosure on a house mortgage?

In essence this particular ad campaign reinforces the notion that banks live in 'bank world', which is a place where the customer experience is unlike anything you've ever experienced in a bank on this planet.

It almost feels like the Commonwealth Bank isn't targeting these brand ads at customers at all. It seems like they're intended to target other banks. The message? We're making so much profit we can actually advertise the kind of customer service we provide in bank world (rather than the real world) and real people will still bank with us.

The sad part is, they're probably right. As much as I complain about my bank it's just easier to stick with them than move. I've been with my bank for 24 years now. It's not even the bank that's keeping me there. It's everything else I have linked to my accounts. Were I to close my accounts I'd be making a small mountain of admin work for me to sift through. Who wants that?

I think my bank knows this too. That's why they're laughing at us, not with us, with this ridiculous branding campaign that has nothing at all to do with a great banking experience, great products or even spotlighting actual satisfied customers.

They're doing what banks do best when it comes to everything from interest rate rises to bank fees... they just make sh*t up and know the customer will just have to wear it.

Now where's my triple cash back twist?!

This Blog Post Could Change Everything

I was watching the TV promos for next week's episode of Junior Master Chef and they made the bold claim that 'this episode could change everything'.

Unsurprisingly Junior Master Chef isn't the only show making this claim. I've noticed other shows, particularly character driven drama series, declaring that this is the episode that could change everything.

The keyword is 'could' because I've gone on to watch these so called series changing episodes and invariably nothing much actually changes. There may be some surprising event during the episode but by the end it's pretty much the status quo.

I understand that promos have to get you hooked into the next episode however the technique of claiming the next episode could change everything is becoming some what over used. Some shows even make this claim every week.

Imagine if Junior Master Chef's next episode did change everything. All the contestants came back and were told from now on it's a spelling bee. No more cooking, we're going to have you spell the ingredients in your recipes. There's a delivered promise.

Not only that, imagine the outcry from the viewing audience. Change is rarely easy and viewers nearly always have something to say about real change. If your audience isn't at least discussing the change then you probably haven't changed anything.

Much like this blog post really. I don't expect much discussion but then I didn't really set out to change much of anything.

I doubt advertisers and promo creators will really take much notice of me and start thinking of better hooks than 'this is the episode that could change everything'.

USB Typewriters - Possibly the Coolest Retro-fit Ever!

Possibly one of the coolest retro-fits I've seen in recent times is the USB Typewriter which you can purchase as a complete typewriter already retro-fitted or you can buy a kit to retro-fit yourself.

I have to say the typewriter looks particularly cool when paired with an Apple iPad (as per the video below) but the conversion effectively turns your type writer into a USB, computer keyboard that can be plugged into any compatible computer that recognises a USB keyboard.

I reckon it's the ultimate gift for writers who dream of locking themselves away in some beach side cottage with nothing but an old mechanical typewriter and a romantic notion to write that ultimate best selling novel. Just be careful you don't get so nostalgic that you start using Liquid Paper on your iPad's screen!

What - that isn't the Oven?

Let it be said that I'm perfectly capable of looking after myself. Just now I've prepared a roast chicken, put it in the oven, set the temperature and picked 'delicates' from the settings dial.

Okay, I didn't do that really. A roast chicken is too much work. I was actually just heating up a frozen beef pie.

Not sure why it took nearly two hours and I had to scrape up all the soaked, mangled pieces from around the oven's interior. So much for the 'delicates' setting. The pie wasn't even hot!!

Roast Chicken image: Freedigitalphotos.net

A Siamese Cat Called Shakira - Art by TET

Shakira
the Siamese Cat
Acrylic on Canvas, 90 x 60cm, 10 June 2009.
Purchase prints of this artwork.

Shakira is created from a rejected sketch for one of my cat commissions. The client chose a different sketch but I liked this one so much I just had to paint it (with the luxury of painting it exactly how I wanted it to be instead of with the client's input).

The name 'Shakira' came about simply because my partner saw the finished painting and suggested that name for the cat. I hadn't yet thought of a title and 'Shakira' sounded like the kind of name you'd give a Siamese cat so... 'Shakira' is now the cat's name.

I can only imagine what this artwork may have been like had my client chosen it as their first preference from the three sketches I sent. Their colour scheme and concept was very different, preferring an early evening, dusk kind of scene (as you can see in the final client's painting below).

Evidently the Siamese cat, called 'Sabu', that the work is based, on is a much more stealthy cat with a cooler personality.

This smaller photo of the painting really doesn't do it justice. It's hard to see there are stars in the sky and, depending on your monitor display, it's hard to see the bird that is about to get a tap on the shoulder from the Sabu's tail.

Sabu
Acrylic on Canvas, 60x50cm, Nov 2008

An Afternoon at Semaphore Beach, South Australia

Enigma and I spent our Easter Saturday at Semaphore beach, South Australia. That's our little spot on the beach pictured above where Enigma is actually reading a book, whilst keeping the sun off her face - in case you thought she was sleeping.

It was an almost perfect day. Just a touch too cool with the breeze for swimming but Enigma did venture out into the water for a dip whilst I wussed out and didn't go any deeper than below my knees near the shore.

I was never that great a swimmer and I've gone right off swimming as I've gotten older. I've particularly never been that confident swimming at the beach - even one as relatively harmless as Semaphore which doesn't face onto the open sea. It actually looks out into the Gulf of St. Vincent. As a result it's not really a great surf beach. I've never seen actual waves there - well nothing you could surf.

However it is great for wind surfing, kite surfing and is the home of an annual, international kite festival which, unfortunately, I can't give you any details about.

The wind is great but it's also Semaphore's biggest problem. If there's a light to medium breeze it's fabulous. Anything more than that and the sand starts to move creating truly awful conditions for anyone who just wants to relax on the sand. Lay down for too long and people will mistake you for a mound of sand.

That aside, Semaphore is a good family beach. Should conditions on the beach its self not be the best you still have the foreshore area which includes a huge - and very safe - adventure playground (covered with shade sails). During the Summer months the fair grounds are open with rides and games. There's plenty of grassed areas for throwing a Frisbee. You can even ride up and down the foreshore on a miniature steam train.

Food-wise there are free gas barbecues or you can buy hot food and ice cream from the Cafe right on the foreshore. If you prefer something a little more civilized head up to Semaphore road (the main street, you can't miss it) there's a whole range of cafes to chose from.

If your budget stretches to a movie the Odeon Star Cinema (further up the main street) is nearly half the price of most cinema's in Adelaide but still offers a quality venue with two screens.

Semaphore is also a good fishing beach, I'm assuming. In the past I've seen many an angler trying their luck. I don't fish myself. Currently the jetty is under major repairs and restoration so fishing isn't much of an option for now but no doubt it'll be great again when complete.

We finished our afternoon off with diner at Cafe Primo which is a restaurant franchise that serves great food at reasonable prices and usually has an excellent range of specials if your budget is tight.

Just to leave you with something a little different. I'm not known for drawing a lot of landscapes (or in this case seascapes) but one thing I did to pass the time was draw this view of the beach (below)  from my chair. It's fairly basic but I thought I'd show you it all the same.

Help Save Tigers in the Wild - Adopt a Tiger

[Note: this is a duplicate post, from my animation blog, reproduced here so it will appear on my web sites homepage. This post will be removed from this blog at the end of the competition mentioned below on April 15th.]

It's a surprising fact that there are actually more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild. It's not that wild tigers aren't prolific breeders the problem is that they're being hunted and their habitat is being destroyed faster than the tigers can cope with.

Some subspecies of the tiger, such as the South China Tiger, are already considered 'functionally extinct' - meaning they haven't been seen in the wild in over 25 years and therefore are most likely extinct.

I've always had a soft spot for charities like the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature a.k.a. World Wildlife Fund) so when GoAnimate launched it's Creating for a Cause competition I thought this was a great opportunity for me to actually support one of their projects.

2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger and the WWF is determined to double the number of tigers in the wild by the next Chinese Year of the Tiger in 2022. With an estimated 3200 tigers left in the wild it can be done since tigers generally give birth to 2-3 cubs every 2-2.5 years.

One way the WWF is raising money is through their Adopt a Tiger Program. This is what my animation focuses on with Paul Dini and Misty Lee's Super Rica and Rashy wanting to adopt a tiger of their own. My animation below draws a parallel between the big cats and Tasmanian Tigers that were also, largely hunted to extinction.

Save the Tiger - Super Rica & Rashy by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

The Tasmanian Tiger is a marsupial that was officially last seen in the wild in Tasmania in 1930 with the last known captive Tiger dying in 1936. Since then there have been thousands of unconfirmed sightings, some as recent as 2006 but for all intensive purposes the Tasmanian Tiger is functionally extinct. A victim of legal hunting (they were considered a threat to livestock and a bounty was placed on them by the Tasmanian government) and habitat loss.

Real Tigers are facing similar threats only they are being hunted illegally and being used to make Tiger products for sale in markets around the world.

As well their habitat is being eroded by logging and development - something else they have in common with the Tasmanian Tiger. Read more about Tiger threats.

All money raised by WWF will be used to:
  • establish and manage effective tiger conservation areas
  • reduce the poaching of tigers and their prey
  • eliminate the trade in tiger parts and products
  • create incentives that will encourage local communities and others to support tiger conservation
  • Build capacity for tiger conservation.
As far as GoAnimate's competition goes, if you're viewing this prior to April 14th, 2010 be sure to watch my animation above (and share it too). The final four animations with the most views will go into the running to win a Wacom Graphics Tablet and the winners charity will receive a donation of US$100 and two weeks advertising on GoAnimate's homepage.

Sherlock Holmes: Ritchie reclaims the original Dynamic Duo

I got the opportunity to see Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes recently and, about a day later, it occurs to me that, with only a little bit of tweaking here and there, this could easily be a killer Batman and Robin movie. More on that later.

Fan's of the icon of what the character of Sherlock Holmes has become over the years will get quite a surprise at Guy Ritchie's take - which I'm informed is much closer to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original vision of the character but probably not your vision.

Like most people I've always thought of Sherlock Holmes as a stuffy, upper class, Englishman, solving crimes largely from the comfort of his own drawing room. Yes I know he does get out and about too but when I think of Sherlock that's what comes to mind - Deer Stalker cap and Callabash pipe not withstanding.

Unlike some of you I haven't seen a lot of Sherlock Holmes on TV or in movies but I have read one or two of Sir Arthur's short stories which, from memory, were entirely set in the detectives home - hence my view of the character.

Guy Ritchie presents us with a very different Sherlock (played by Robert Downey Jr.). He's still something of an upper class wanna be but is perhaps more at home in the middle to lower classes of the 1890's (when this is set). He's unkempt and dysfunctional when not working on a case but highly competent when he is.

Equally Doctor Watson (played by Jude Law) is not the fat bumbling old man TV audiences are used to but a highly capable war doctor who can hold his own in a fight better than most save for, perhaps, Sherlock himself.

The film is gritty, set in the industrial and some-what claustrophobic streets of London, intelligent and action packed. It's very much in Guy Ritchie's trademark English gangster movie style and it works well.

I don't really need to outline the plot too much. If you love Sherlock Holmes then that's all you need to know. It's your favorite character solving a mystery. Go see it!!

If you do need a little more then the film opens with Holmes and Watson hot on the trail of the potentially supernatural Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a serial, ritual sacrifice murderer who has plans to change the world as we know it (surprise, surprise - world domination - who'd have thought it).

Along the way you'll meet Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), the only criminal ever to out smart Holmes, and get glimpses of Holmes' arch nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (the actor is strangely uncredited on the Internet Movie Database).

It's a fun but confusing ride - at least for the first hour - confusing that is, the whole movie is fun. Although we see almost everything Holmes sees, he doesn't always tell us everything that he's noticed. In that respect the audience isn't informed of Holmes' plans - much like Holmes doesn't always keep Watson in the loop either.

I found that aspect frustrating because it creates what I call the 'Scooby Doo ending' where the details of how the villain's plans were carried out are retold in review. At the same time I can see why this has been done.

Holmes is the world's greatest detective (arguably). Each time the film pause's to review we get to see just how much further ahead Holmes is with solving the case than the rest of us. Personally I think it will be interesting to see how much one notices the first time around (of what Holmes is noticing) upon a second viewing.

Another point of minor frustration is that on many occasions Holmes' power of statistical probability calculating seems so refined that he appears to be able to accurately predict the immediate future.

This is best illustrated in a couple of fight sequences where Holmes formulates his knock blows several moves in advance, accurately predicting his opponents reactions to the letter. It's a little far fetched because we see his thoughts visualized exactly as they are carried out moments later. His opponent's moves never even vary slightly.

The way this movie's story pans out it's clearly set up for one or two sequels (at the time of writing this a second movie had been confirmed for a 2011 release). Whilst Moriarty has a very ominous presence in this film he's not the central villain. He's here clearly to establish the threat to Holmes but as yet he isn't of great or immediate concern.

That said this movie doesn't finish open ended. You will get closure on the mystery at hand.

Whilst this version of Sherlock Holmes is far from what you may be familiar with and you may spend much of the film struggling just to believe that you're watching a Sherlock Holmes movie, Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock is still a great and interesting character. Everything is there that you would expect of a Sherlock Holmes mystery the only difference being that this Holmes is more human and charismatic rather than a stuffy enigma - and he doesn't wear a hunting cap in the city.

So that's my review, now, let's get back to this Batman and Robin thought that I mentioned at the beginning...

.... oh, first, one bug bear... why is it that, with every great male duo, some retard (yes I wrote 'retard') always suggests the two might be in a secret gay relationship? Holmes and Watson, Batman and Robin. Guys have befriended guys as their inseparable best friends for as long anyone understood what friendship actually means - it doesn't mean they're doing each other. You can actually enjoy another guy's friendship so much that you just can't imagine life without them.

Right Batman... In Sherlock Holmes the dynamic between Holmes and Watson as crime fighters is very much the kind of dynamic I'd like to see in a Batman and Robin movie. There's a somewhat volatile relationship yet the two recognize that they either need each other or just simply enjoy the bond created when they're on a case. Holmes and Watson back each other up and Holmes uses Watson as a sounding board for his theories.

That's the kind of relationship Batman and Robin should have - not the whiny teenager we got from Chris O'Donnell in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.

Onto the rest of my theory that Sherlock Holmes script could have been a killer Batman and Robin movie.

First Batman is considered the (arguably) world's greatest detective. People love to see Batman use detective skills just like Holmes. This version of Sherlock Holmes also features a lot of action packed fight sequences with Holmes and Watson fighting side by side - just like Batman and Robin.

The movie has a master female villain in Irene Adler. The only women to outsmart Holmes and is also his potential love interest - Cat Women anyone?

Lord Blackwood seems intent on spreading fear and uses some fairly simplistic devices to create explosions. He even employs the use of gas as a murder weapon... potential Joker perhaps or at least Ra's Al Ghul (since Blackwood is the leader of a secret society)?

Finally Holmes has a partner inside the Police force (Inspector Lestrade) willing to help him out. Sound familiar? Jim Gordon?

As I said, with a little bit of tweaking this could be a really cool Batman and Robin script. One hopes that any director charged with bringing Robin into the current Batman franchise might take a look at Sherlock Holmes to see how a dynamic duo can be done... and done well.

No I don't want to buy Gold Options!

Every year or so some investment company based in Hong Kong rings up my phone and asks for David Arandle of The Extraordinary Tourist web site. Sometimes the first call is merely an introduction to the company asking if their manager (or some other financial investment advisor) can ring me back in a few days time.

Each time they give me the same spiel about buying gold options that will make me a lot of money quickly (well I think it's the same spiel because I only half listen to it). They always refer me to the web site futuresource.com to illustrate their point (note that the previous link will take you directly to the page they referred me to).

In order to take up their offer I need a minimum of US$10,000 to buy ten Gold options that will gain me a guaranteed quick return if I sell the options shortly after buying (because the value of gold is increasing that fast apparently).

If I say I don't have the money for that, they'll immediately assume it's probably because I have a family or just the general economic downturn of recent times, so they ask me this and then make a special offer of purchasing just three Gold options for US$3000. This is the absolute minimum.

If I can't afford this then I'm not really worth their time because this whole deal is a small one to attract my business. The intention is, if they can reliably return me a profit, then I'll go on to invest larger amounts in bigger deals in the future.

Here's the thing. This company is either run by idiots or it employs idiots. Case in point:

  • If they've even looked at my web site my bio page is fair indication of how much money I probably don't have - certainly not a spare $10,000 I can just run out and buy Gold Options with.
     
  • Just today, when the person (named Melissa) rang me she referred to her colleague, who had called me a week earlier, whom I cut off before he got through his first sentence with "I'm not interested in Gold Options don't call me" and hung up. Melissa seemed to be unaware that her colleague's call didn't go well. I didn't tell her that. This time I decided to let her ramble on so I could waste her time whilst she wasted mine.
     
  • About a year ago when I got this same series of phone calls from a some what more pushy Gold Options trader from Hong Kong, with an English accent, he tried everything to try and sell me these options including me asking family and friends for the cash. Once he finally cottoned on that there's was no way he was making a sale he literally called me a 'Bum' simply because I don't earn enough to have a measly $3000 just sitting around doing nothing.
     
  • These people never start out their calls by asking if you can afford a bare minimum of $3000 in Gold Options. Instead they ask you a series of question and run you through a series of figures (for about 20 minutes) all designed to get you saying 'Yes' as many times as possible. This is an old sales technique that says if you can get someone to say 'yes' at least three times to questions relating to your sales proposition then the person is more likely to say yes to your actual offer.
     
  • About four years ago I had one of these people ring me up and I swear I was talking to them for over an hour, repeatedly saying the phrase "I'm not interested in Gold Options" and yet they still thought they'd turn me into a sale. It was like someone trying to convince me of the merits of homosexuality - it doesn't matter how good it sounds I'm just not going to turn - Okay!!. (Sorry to disappoint anyone who is homosexual and thought I just might be too - I love you guys but just not like that!)
The bottom line is, who actually spends $10,000 plus (or even $3000 plus) on gold options based on a cold call from a Hong Kong company? It just sounds to me like they're trying to set me up for a sucker punch.

Here's a quote from the futuresource site: "Futures and options trading involves significant risk of loss". Making money off Gold options is a time sensitive proposition. Perhaps not as risky as betting on a horse but still you don't get a lot of time to think it through.

Sure you might make some quick money but there are better ways to make long term, sustainable profits... and when I find out what those are I'll let you know!

KFC Ad - Racism and Fried Chicken?

Sometimes you have to wonder about the 'battles' over racist issues the American media gives attention to and whether they're really worth the air time given to them.

For example, over the last few days much furor has been made over a KFC television advertisement that was intended for an Australian audience but found its way onto Youtube where it has been labelled as racist by American viewers.

I think the point of view of the Americans is best summed up in this video (below) by The Young Turks, an American Internet News Show that claims to tell the news without any pretenses.

The video includes the full KFC advertisement and the American stand point is best summarized towards the end of the commentary which essentially is the ad perpetuates a derogatory American Stereotype that suggests all 'black' people love fried chicken.



Note that this is their second 'response' video on the subject after receiving a lot of negative backlash from their Australian viewers on their initial commentary which did not explain the American context well enough for an international audience to understand their position.

Whilst I understand the American point of view, one point I feel important to make is that, it does matter that the colored people depicted are West Indian. It matters a lot. I think the advertisement goes to great lengths to make that clear.

If you say it doesn't matter, it's still a white guy giving fried chicken to 'black' people and therefore perpetuating a derogatory American stereotype, you're basically supporting another derogatory white stereotype and saying 'all black people look the same to me'.

The people in this advertisement are West Indians. That is important.

Sure if they were actually Afro-Americans, or even people of color not identified as a particular culture there might be a stronger case for the ad being racist but what the Americans are doing is super imposing their culture over an advertisement that has, literally, nothing to do with their culture at all.

Yes you can make the case that KFC, as an American based, International Franchise, would be aware of the American stereotype and therefore are being culturally insensitive but again, I point out that it is important that the colored people in this ad are West Indian.

It's only when you leave that detail out that the ad could be seen as racist - and even then, only in the American context.

But I digress. What concerns me more is that Americans, in general, believe that colored people liking fried chicken is is a negative racial stereotype? What the?

Is there some 'chicken incident' in America's history that gets American Negroes all riled up if you make a blanket statement that all Afro-Americans love fried chicken?

Apparently the negative stereotype comes from old Minstrel Shows that portrayed demeaning caricatures of Afro-Americans. This quote from MSNBC article, KFC pulls fried chicken ad after racism outcry, sums up the origin of the stereotype:

But when the ad spread via the Internet to the United States, some complained it played on a derogatory stereotypes of black Americans. Minstrel shows, which portrayed demeaning caricatures of blacks in the 19th and early 20th century, often showed them eating fried chicken.

There is no such association in Australia.

Okay. So based on that, maybe there is some solid ground for this being a derogatory racial stereotype however, in terms of negative racial stereotyping, it's not exactly up there with 'all Muslims are Terrorists' is it?

It's not exactly on a par with 'all Afro-Americans are uneducated, violent gang members who'll kill each other over wearing the wrong colors'.

There's a couple of derogatory stereotypes that you should get upset over.

People of colour liking fried chicken? At its worst it's a reminder of a derogatory stereotype but it's not a derogatory stereotype in its self.

If it was, logically, where does this leave people of color who do actually like fried chicken? Does this mean they now have to think twice about going into a KFC restaurant for fear of perpetuating a negative stereotype?

The concern for Americans here is not that KFC is spreading a vague negative racial stereotype reference internationally but that the American media that jumped on this story is once again spreading the 'stupid Americans' stereotype internationally.

This advertisement is a non-issue in terms of derogatory racial stereotypes.

As I said, it's not exactly up there with 'All Muslims are Terrorists'. You could do far worse than have your culture associated with liking fried chicken.

Unfortunately I can't leave it there because my conclusion leaves another point wide open. That is, to form an analogy, if you deliberately prick someone in the arm with a pin, is it okay to do that simply because it's not as bad as hacking their whole arm off with an axe?

Pricking someone in the arm with a pin still hurts right?

The overall point I'm trying to clumsily make is that when it comes to racist battles why do we give so much media to racism that is little more than a pin prick in the big scheme of things?

Whether you consider KFC's ad to be racist or not it hardly matters to people who are actually suffering because of real racist oppression. Maybe those battles are a little bit more like having your whole arm hacked off?

KFC bowed to public pressure and have stopped showing the ad in Australia. America you can rest easy. Your suffering is now over. World order has been restored (yes that is sarcasm in those last three sentences).

At the end of the day perhaps Australia became a little more aware of a derogatory American stereotype and America reinforced it's international, stereotypical standing as a country that can't keep out of matters that have nothing to do with them.

Feral Juicer Plots World Domination

Last night my partner, Enigma, informed me that she was going to start using the Juicer again. This morning I got to thinking that maybe this wasn't a good thing?

Although our juicer has been sitting quietly on the kitchen bench top, it hasn't been used in a long time. Perhaps it's turned feral?

Our juicer (pictured) is not to be messed with. It can juice whole apples, your fingers, hand, fore arm, elbow and... well you get the idea.

In all this time, it may have been sitting on the kitchen bench... waiting.

Waiting for the opportune moment when we plug it back in and the sudden surge of power goes straight to its motorized head! Ah ha... now it's connected back into the grid and its plan for world domination can begin!

Yeah, you might think those power cords your appliances use are harmless but there's technology out there that will hook you to the internet through your home's power grid.

How do I know our juicer is not going to communicate with an army of juicers, all waiting for that one command from their leader, to rise up and start the juicer machine uprising that finally wipes out the human race - and probably a few fruits and vegetables as well!

This reminds me of the time, a few years back, when Enigma asked me to keep an eye on the slow cook, electric stock pot as it quietly cooked our dinner whilst she was at work. I watched it all right! All through the day. I'm sure it would've put it's plan of attack into action if I hadn't stirred it occasionally as instructed!

See, you may think Armageddon is going to occur when the humanoid like robots rise up and destroy their creators but I know it's sooner than that. Why do we need internet connected fridges? It's not for our benefit. It's so the machines can communicate with each other. Secretly. While we're sleeping.

That's why most appliances in your lounge room have a 'Stand by' mode instead of turning off completely. Who knows what they're standing by for but I'm willing to bet it isn't good.

It's perfectly possible the human race's demise all starts with a juicer. Our juicer.

Maybe my partner should leave it unplugged, permanently. Just in case?

US$330,000 Paid for Crystal Palace Virtual Space Station

Back in 2005 I was inspired to write a series of about nine 'poetic monologues' (for want of a better description) themed around the idea of a future where people were addicted to Virtual Reality Worlds in which they spent excessive amounts of money on virtual products. In essence buying things that don't exist in the real world.

Money for Nothing was my working title of the series which is still bubbling away at the back of my mind. Some day the ideas may inspire a Science Fiction novel. For now you can watch me recite one of the monologues, called Rachael in my Animation and Video Blog. The accompanying post, Shopping at Marcy's, is the start of a story that didn't eventuate.

Back to the topic, noting that my inspiration for the monologues was an observation I made about people increasingly paying for products that have no physical form in the real world. For example, buying ringtones for your mobile phone.

When you buy a ringtone, no physical product is exchanged. What you get is an electronic code (often in the form of an 'MP3 file') that will make your phone play the ringtone you've bought.

This type of thing is becoming more and more common place with more and more kinds of products, many of them used to (or still do) have physical products in the real world. Ebooks are a good example. Many books can now be bought in electronic form. Nothing physical changes hands just electronic code.

Another example is music. Instead of buying your favorite bands CD you can now download their entire catalogue from Itunes - without ever receiving any kind of physical, hold in your hand, product.

Virtual Worlds like Second Life are already popular amongst millions of people. It's well known amongst users that you can set up almost any kind of business in many of these worlds, earning real money from Virtual Products.

So is it really so surprising that recently a man paid US$330,000 to own a Virtual Space Station in the virtual universe, Entropia?

Entropia Universe is a huge, online multiplayer role playing game that has a real cash economy. US$1 can buy you 10 PEDs (Project Entropia dollars) in the virtual world.

The buyer, known as Buzz “Erik” Lightyear, won the Crystal Palace Space Station that orbits the Planet Calypso for 3,300,000 PED (which translates to US$330,000) in an online auction. The video below gives you something of a virtual tour of the aforementioned Space Station.



Whilst it may seem some-what crazy the basic principle is no different to buying real estate in the real world. The Crystal Palace Space Station will probably generate plenty of real world dollars for it's owner off the shops, transactions, and activities that occur on his virtual space station.

Plus, lets not forget, it's a space station. There's a certain 'cool' factor here in that, how many people do you know that own a space station - especially a virtual one?

That said the Space Station's owner hasn't bought anything physical. The space station exists nowhere except as a chunk of electronic code. It's not entirely money for nothing but it's almost as close as you can get without actually giving your money away.

I can only imagine that this kind of thing is going to become more and more common as the speed and reach of the internet and it's online worlds grow. It's not quite the Matrix yet but more of us will be 'plugging in' to virtual worlds where we are free to become anything we want far beyond what we might be in the real world.

Virtual Worlds offer freedom from the laws of physics - people can fly in Second Life - or the moralities of society. Why not go on a killing spree if nobody really dies?

Could we ever get to the point where living in a virtual world is preferable to real life?
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