UCE?! Naw, spam!
The makers of that fine spiced ham product filled in a mysterious gap for me
Use of the term “spam” was adopted as a result of the Monty Python
skit in which our SPAM meat product was featured. In this skit, a group of
Vikings sang a chorus of “spam, spam, spam . . . ” in an increasing
crescendo, drowning out other conversation. Hence, the analogy applied because
UCE [unsolicited commercial email] was drowning out normal discourse on the Internet...
Today's teens and young adults are more computer savvy than ever, and the
next generations will be even more so. Children will be exposed to the slang
term "spam" to describe UCE well before being exposed to our famous
product SPAM. Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming
public asks, "Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk e-mail?"
Of course, they're worried about protecting their trademark— “Xerox” almost
fell into the public domain because the term was used interchangeably with
“photocopy;” that is until they launched a vigorous campaign to
convince people to stop using the term that way... the result: people have
The SPAM folks are a little more circumspect... they'd just prefer that you
write about unsolicited e-mail in all lower-case (spam), and their delicious
luncheon meat in all upper-case (SPAM) — which is, after all, their official
trademark. Oh, and they'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't use an image
of the product to suggest the notion of junk e-mail. They've even posted
paper explaining it all. Reading it was entertaining and informative: I
had no idea that SPAM was actually a “family of products.”
Wow! Another great mystery resolved... Thanks to Bill
Barol for pointing me in the right direction. It looks to me like Bill
stopped blogging in 2002. Too bad. His stuff still reads nicely now.
Bill also pointed me to spamradio.
It's worth a listen, especially if you're a webhead. What is it?, you ask.
Think spoken-word source code over beats:
Spamradio is serving up delicious helpings of spam each hour of every day
to all who are hungry.
Using a complex arrangement of pipes and funnels we turn the junk mail that
we receive into a streaming audio broadcast that can be enjoyed from anywhere
Like the spam it speaks, it gets a bit monotonous after a while, but it might
make poetic background music in a retail store.
I've meant to write about this for a little over a week now. On Thanksgiving,
I know of one guy who was probably thankful to be alive, if he remembers anything
from a few nights before.
Denise and I were getting off the train at the De Kalb stop, when a guy bolted
off the train and ran between us from behind, brushing Denise's shoulder. He
got to the other side of the platform, leaned over, and started puking onto
the tracks. A second later, he pitched forward and fell onto the tracks!
on the platform looked on anxiously. Thankfully, there was no indication
of an approaching train. The guy got up on all fours, facing the third rail.
He seemed to stare at it for a moment as if he was facing a
Then, he got
up, turned around, and started trying to hoist himself up onto the platform.
and I and another onlooker or two grabbed various parts of him and his clothing,
and helped haul him out of the pit. He walked (or maybe wobbled would be
a better word) away from us, and leaned on some railing under a nearby set
Denise and I turned toward the exit, took a few steps, and heard a thud. The
guy had fallen onto the tracks a second time! This time, a subway worker was
there to help him up. The subway was not the place to be for a person in his
Thinking back to that event reminds me of two other times I saw evidence of
someone having been struck by subway trains. It's an unreported statistic.
Every once in a while, the papers make hay over someone being pushed. It gives
them someone to vilify, and that sells papers. Recently a girl won a big lawsuit
against the MTA because she was struck by a train when she bent down to pick
up her bible. That's a hot ticket. It's much more rare to hear that someone
threw themselves in front of a train. I guess that's old-school suicide. And
then there are the ones that were just unfortunate enough to lose their balance
at the wrong time, or who somehow ended up on the tracks despite warnings.
They're probably recorded in a log book somewhere, but got little notice other
She Killed Kenny!
Ken Jennings' exit from Jeopardy wasn't as over-the-top as the episodic demise
of the South Park character (lucky for him), but it was dramatic. After all,
he'd racked up $2,522,700 and
amazing slew of records along the way. H&R block is giving Ken free
tax and financial services for life. They figure he'll owe about $1.04 mil
in state and federal taxes, leaving him with about a $million-four eighty-two
Get out your notebook, and write
down the name Nancy Zerg. She beat Ken by $1, ending his 6-month stay on
the air. Chances are, those bits of trivia may be the makings of three
in a future edition of Trivial Pursuit. Another piece of trivia: they tape
5 episodes of Jeopardy a day. That means he only spent about 15 days on
the set, racking up his 74 wins. That's like a short run of jury duty, except
now Ken gets to decide whether he'll bother going back to work at all. In New
York, jury duty pays at the early-retirement-inducing rate of about $40/day.
Ken actually concluded
his stint on the Jeopardy set in early September. Not long
ran a story
on September 9, and Jay Leno made a joke about it around the same time. He
just got his air dates wrong — saying that Ken would be off the air in October.
Will Sony Kill Jason?
Ken was already the stuff
of myth, as Jason Kottke fantasized back in July. Today, Jason's got a
mega-corporate headache because Sony's pit-bulls found that he'd posted an
audio clip of Ken's final moments on Jeopardy.
It gets worse, because after he removed the audio clip, they didn't like the
transcript he posted. He's thinking
about bagging the blogosphere, because of the threat of litigation.
Now that corporate news organizations have their own blogs, I wonder if we
won't see a bunch of litigation aimed at driving out all the amateur bloggers,
or at least making sure that they only write about their pets, dating problems,
and macramé projects. Remember RIAA's
lawsuits against 13-year-old music downloaders? Bush's “frivolous lawsuit”
reforms won't protect the Jason Kottkes of the world from big biz.
... And Tom Brokaw gave up the anchor seat at NBC News last night. Not such
a big deal, now that I'm mostly weaned from corporate nightly news.
You could call this story a bit of Thanksgiving leftovers. :-)
... although some folks eat turkey at Christmas, too.
A guy named John got a problem parrot as a gift. The bird had a bad
attitude and an even worse vocabulary — Every word out of his mouth was
and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude
by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything
else he could think of to clean up the bird's vocabulary, but nothing seemed
Fed up, John even yelled at the parrot, but the bird just yelled
back. Then, John
parrot and the bird got angrier and even ruder.
In desperation, John grabbed the bird and shoved him in the freezer.
Maybe the chill would shock some sense into the crazy animal. For a few
he squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet.
The bird didn't utter a peep for more than a minute.
Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John
quickly opened the door to the freezer. The bird calmly stepped out onto
John's outstretched arm and said “I
believe I may have offended you with my rude behavior. I'm sincerely
remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything
I can to be a model pet from now on.”
John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to
ask the parrot what brought about the dramatic shift, the
bird continued, “I have just one question... May
I ask what the turkey did?”