Thursday, May 07, 2015

2461 Shigella Shake

The world of rock and roll offers up interesting takes on our language sometimes.  I was reminded of that the other day when I read of the emergence of a drug-resistant form of the bacteria that causes what’s erroneously called Montezuma's revenge.  Dude, ease up on Mexico, the disease is linked to traveling to foreign lands generally.  The bacterium is known scientifically by the name Shigella.

I'm not entirely sure how to pronounce it but Shih-GELL-ah seems right.  When you look at the way it's spelled, s-h-i-g-e-l-l-a-, it could easily be SHIH-guh-lah.  Which, you gotta admit, sounds like one of those Thousand Dances in the Land Wilson Pickett sang about.  Right up there with the watusi and the boogaloo. 

Not least because shigella causes various unpleasant symptoms, among them muscular cramps and spasms, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  So going to a foreign land and dancing the fox trots is not out of the question. 

I've also learned from Lorde, teen phenom from down under, that the pronunciation of a word can shift if you need it to.  And I can appreciate that.  Tone and meter sometimes require screwing up the actual language.

Lorde does it in the song Team to the word "reveled."  Which she pronounces rah-VELLed.  Unless she's talking about hair shampooing being the cause for celebration.  Then again, it’s quite possible Reh-VELL is how they say REH-vel down under in the billabong, Mite.  G'day.

The worst rock and roll word screw up I've ever heard is in the old Rod Stewart song, "I was only joking."  Perhaps he was, when he sang about his song being sung for "prosperity" instead of "posterity." 

He was right I suppose.  He did make money on the song. 

Even though you couldn't dance to it. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

2460 Oddible

Do big companies not understand how words connect to alternate meanings?  It's like when I was a kid. I seem to remember the Hostess company, who'd had such a success with its marshmallow spongy-frosting Sno-Ball cupcake, trying to introduce a new color.  They were doing so well with the pink Sno-Ball. It was such a bad idea to try to market the yellow Sno-Ball.

So it is with Amazon.  Not long ago I was attempting to buy something online.  And I was a little dismayed.  Because Amazon has certain default settings for options.  Those selection buttons like "add to my cart," and "check Prime and get it by Tuesday," and "New" and "Used."

The item I was buying was a personal product.  Let's say toilet paper.  Amazon still had the "Used" button as a choice.  Eewww.  I clicked it and there was nothing there, thank goodness.  They've since changed it.  But they still have the button that says "New."  At this point why not just say "Buy"?  Even bringing up New makes you think of the other option.

In the book section, there’s another problematic option.  Because lots of folks like audio books.  And Amazon now gives you two choices.

One choice is just a regular old audio book like you buy at any bookstore.  The other one is a special audio book produced by Amazon.  Unfortunately, the brand name they've chosen for their product is Audible.  Not audible like you can hear the brand name.  The name itself is Audible.  You see the confusion. 

"Yep, I'd like to order an audible audio book."  I should hope so.  If it's non-audible its not a very good audio book is it?

Maybe it's a football thing.  I think Peyton Manning bought the audible book Omaha Omaha. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

2459 Sweatphone

We've heard before that it's highly likely human sweat contains pheromones, those personal chemicals that convey varying degrees of sexiness.  It certainly makes sense, most animals, from bears to bees, exude some sort of scent that sucks in the opposite sex. Why not humans?  We gotta procreate too.  Survival of the species and all that.

Great pick-up line in an off campus bar, "Want to study Darwin?"

Scientists now say that human sweat does even more.  It can communicate whether you are happy or sad.  Researchers gathered a group of men, and carefully vetted them to make sure they didn't have any psychological disorders, weren't smokers, hadn't used alcohol nor engaged in sexual activity recently, consumed smelly food, or had a serious workout. 

You know, ordinary people.

They had the men wash their armpits and wedge an absorbent pad in them.  Then the men watched movies, some happy, some scary, some sad. 

The researchers recruited 36 women, also with the aforementioned prohibitions of behavior, to smell those sweaty pads.

Why the men did the emoting and the women did the sweat smelling wasn't discussed in the research paper.  Either because women are better smellers and men are more smelly, or because women always get the sucky jobs in the male-dominated scientific and tech world, that's the way it went.

In any event, researchers concluded that happy films watched by the men were detectable as happy pads when the women smelled them.  One woman actually said she smelled fried green tomatoes.  Fear and negative emotion were also detectable. 

My conclusions.  Dad was right.  Dogs really can smell fear on you.  And two, how can we harness this in a smartphone?  Sweat communication!  Forget texting.  We can have scented sweat emojis. 


America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

2458 App-liance

I don't really want the internet of things the tech world is predicting.  That's where all of your household meters, appliances, and products communicate constantly with the web.  The idea of an appliance that talks to the cloud, or an app-liance if you will, is supposedly the next big thing.  

Amazon recently made a move in that direction with little product-specific stick-on buttons you stick to places around your house that automatically communicate with your smartphone when you're out of detergent or toothpaste or milk. 

Not sure the milk stick-on would stick out with all the magnets I currently have on my refrigerator.  They may be high tech, but they're still little buttons with product brandnames on them that bear an astonishing resemblance to refrigerator magnets.  My decor is eclectic already, I'm not sure festooning the entire house with refrigerator magnets would be an improvement.

And really, I don't want my detergent bottle to remind me to buy a new one.  That seems so demeaning and pitiful. Hanging around at the coffee shop, getting a vibration on my smartphone, thinking, "Oh cool, someone is texting me."  Then finding out it's my detergent bottle reminding me I haven't yet made my laundry purchase. 

There's some existential angst.  Talk about feeling friendless and isolated.  I only communicate with a detergent bottle.

It's like the digital message that scrawls across the readout area of my microwave.  "Enjoy your meal," it says.  I've always smirked condescendingly.  "Meal, huh?  It doesn't even know I only zapped a cup of coffee."  The internet of things will change that.  The message will probably read, "Enjoy your coffee, now on sale at Fred Meyer, shall I order right away?"

There's nothing that makes you feel more pathetic and alienated than being nagged by an appliance. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, May 01, 2015

2457 Tech-No

Despite what you may have picked up from these essays, I am not anti-technology.  Technology has its place, I'm just wary of technologies that, under the guise of helping ease our frustrations, actually supplant our connection with life.

That said, I'm not so good when it comes to even old technology.  Like I never give my car an oil change.  After all, my oil drips out and I have to replace it.  So I figure I'm just constantly giving it a very slow oil change.  One quart at a time.

Likewise my car has one of those automatic headlight turnoff features if I accidentally leave them on.  It takes about 6 hours.  Then my battery is dead for some reason.

So I shouldn't criticize this company I saw promoting their services in a video commercial.  They apparently provide cellular phone and data service and the commercial showed all the ways that could come in handy. 

The bad thing was the final scene in the ad.  They showed a father figure hooking up a tiny projector of some sort to a smartphone and streaming a movie on the inside of a tent.  The tent wall acted as a screen.

Then the point of view drew back so you saw the tent from the exterior.  The family in question was out camping.  It drew back even further and you could see the glowing tent, glowing because of the movie playing inside.  Sadly, the final scene also showed an incredible background of trillions of stunning stars in a heartbreakingly beautiful sky.  

Which the technology-addicted family inside was completely ignoring.  Because you know, we go camping to get away from it all.  And enjoy the wonders of nature. 

Or is that technology?  "Nature's boring Dad.  Can we stream a movie on our tent?"

America, ya gotta love it.