I used to have an Autotext feature that pasted a canned introduction to random thoughts that weren’t long enough for a column, but need to escape my mind. I forgot the keystroke pattern to use it. We proceed anyway:
• I’m not sure what infomercial technique is more irritating — the black-and-white scenario that shows people struggling to handle simple tasks like cracking eggs, or the interview that takes place in a studio that looks like “Larry King Live” on public access cable.
• For the first time Sunday night, I watched “Secret Millionaire.” The show, which has run on Fox and ABC, shows millionaires posing as average people doing a documentary. A few days later, they reveal themselves and cut a check to those most deserving. It’s become a popular show because people see uplifting stories. I can see that, but I also see a giant loophole ABC has created, whether intentional or not.
If I own a giant business, ABC has presented me with two options. I could spend thousands filming a 30-second ad, pay ABC $300,000 for a single run on “Secret Millionaire,” and hope people stick around for that one commercial break. Or I could be the person featured on “Secret Millionaire,” pay the average of $200,000 to non-profits, have my company mentioned about half a dozen times as ABC shoots and edits a commercial about how great our company is, and fly home in my private jet as my accountant makes the whole thing a tax write-off.
• I think Netflix and Hulu need to invent a new category for old televisions series. We could call it, “Shows With Plots Rendered Useless Had Cell Phones Or the Internet Existed.”
• I highly recommend a new cartoon by Michael Ramirez for Investors Business Daily. Look up his name and “The Budget Pie.” It makes you hungry. But it also tells you that tackling the deficit is a campaign slogan.
• I kind of like the new “Questions” feature on Facebook, which allows any user to create or vote in polls. It’s allowed me to show I know nothing about picking college basketball winners, and tell my Montana friends that it’s pronounced “Creek,” and not “Crick.”
But it looks like a lot of it is going to delineate into popularity contests that ruin so many other elements of social networking. Online and in life, we aim for shared experience, but end up bragging our experience can’t be topped. There’s a question going around that asks users to name the best state, and so far it looks like the most populous states are winning (probably because more voters live in those states; it’s just a theory I’m kicking around).
I would have voted, but there was no option for, “You can’t determine the best state unless you’ve spend time in all 50.” I mean, what if there’s some village in Delaware where there are 20 people, and 18 play baseball while the other two make you hot dogs and lemonade?