Archive for October, 2009

My very first porno: why the industry is suffering

October 30, 2009 Comments off

Ah mainstream media… how clueless you are (and I say this as someone who works in the MSM, as the social networking kids are calling it these days). The folks over at CNN have finally realized there’s a recession going on… in porn.

Here’s the video report, which covers pretty much the main topics - i.e. how the recession has hit the porn industry as well, and how piracy is a big problem:


It’s ironic because the CNN report came the day before everybody in the U.S. was howling over the official end to the recession. It’s also funny because we’ve known about this for ages.

What the report came within a hair’s width of noticing, but still missed, is that the adult industry is in a recession and losing money to piracy because the barriers to entering porn have never been lower. Anyone with a cellphone can now make their own.

To prove the point, may I present to you, my first ever (and unbelievably bad) porno movie:

Categories: internet, sex

KFC sends a delegate to the UN

October 29, 2009 Comments off

And the fast-food hits just keep on comin’. As a bunch of media picked up this week, a man dressed as Colonel Sanders made it in to the United Nations on Monday, getting as far a handshake with UN General Assembly president Dr. Ali A. Treki of Libya.

The whole thing was apparently a publicity stunt by KFC, which was looking to promote its “Grilled Nation” chicken products. What made the whole thing all the more funny, though, was how seriously UN staff took it after learning they had been duped.

“It should not have happened - that I will stress, and very strongly,” a UN spokesperson said, according to the National Post. “The UN cannot be involved in a commercial venture. Period. This is being touched upon by our legal department.”

Apparently Dr. Treki shook the Colonel’s hand and posed for the picture because “he’s a very polite man.” Hey, at the least the Colonel didn’t try to set up a tent in his home country.

Aw come on United Nations, get a sense of humour! You got suckered good, might as well laugh about it!

Speaking of KFC - a colleague sent me a link to this Saturday Night Live skit following my post on the Double Down the other day. Check it out, it’s hilarious. You just know that someone, somewhere is thinking this is a good idea:

Categories: food, kfc, taco bell

Uniformity, not profit, may be key to McD’s pull-out from Iceland

October 28, 2009 Comments off

The big fast-food news yesterday was that McDonald’s is pulling out of Iceland. As several news reports noted, the franchisee who owns the three McD’s outlets in Iceland decided that importing all of the ingredients necessary for Big Macs and the like was simply too expensive - he couldn’t make enough profit to justify keeping them up and running.

There appears to be more to the story, though, which many media reports seem to have missed. As the Globe and Mail story pointed out, Jon Ogmundsson, the franchisee in question, is planning to convert the three restaurants into his own burger chain that will serve “very similar products like McDonald’s.” Burger King also pulled out of Iceland late last year for the same reasons, yet its franchisee also converted restaurants into a localized version.

What’s probably at play here is the big chains’ insistence on maintaining product uniformity. McDonald’s famously revolutionized Russia’s agricultural system when it set up shop in the country in the early 1990s. The chain imported the special potato seeds it needed from the Netherlands in order to get the fries to taste just right.

It’s pretty clear that burger chains can exist in Iceland, but the country’s difficult climate and terrain probably make it impossible to locally grow the sort of ingredients the chains need in order to make the food taste just like it does in the U.S. of A. In the end, it looks like they’d rather pull out than make food with locally produced ingredients that tastes different from what people are accustomed to.

Interestingly, Subway’s fortunes in Iceland would seem to lend credence to this theory. The chain, which is set to soon eclipse McDonald’s as the largest purveyor of fast-food in the world - at least by total restaurant numbers - has 18 outlets in the country. Subway, with its generally fresher ingredients, is far less dependent on the sort of technologically produced and preserved goods made by McDonald’s and Burger King.

By the way, songstress Bjork has nothing to do with this story. But, as with using a picture of the Sydney Opera House to illustrate any story about Australia, her inclusion in any post or article about Iceland is also a semi-official media rule.

KFC doubles down on horror

October 27, 2009 Comments off

My favourite KFC monstrosity till now has been the infamous bowl ‘o food that comedian Patton Oswalt so aptly referred to once as a failure pile. I stand humbled, though, after recently learning of KFC’s latest creation: the Double Down.

I wasn’t aware of the Double Down, probably because it’s being quietly test-marketed in a few U.S. states. The Huffington Post covered it back in August, and you can check that out here.

Basically, the Double Down takes the idea of a chicken sandwich and replaces the buns with… what else? Fried chicken. That’s right - a couple strips of bacon, cheese and sauce are sandwiched between two chunks of chicken. As the ads down in the test markets say, the Double Down has “so much 100 percent premium chicken, we didn’t have room for a bun.”

The Vancouver Sun did a quick health check on this beast and found it contained somewhere around 1,200 calories and about 125% of your daily fat and sodium intake. A KFC spokesman corrected the newspaper’s calculation and said the sandwich only contained about 590 calories. Taking a look at it, that lower number looks somewhat hard to believe.

[This blog post has been slightly modified from the original since, as it turns out, the person who originally made me aware of the Double Down wasn't entirely comfortable being named.]

Categories: chicken, food, kfc

Talking net neutrality on CBC’s Spark

October 26, 2009 Comments off

Last week was a big week for net neutrality, with rulings coming down in both Canada and the United States. I’ve blogged about net neutrality and its importance before. If you still don’t know know what it is, in a nutshell it’s about keeping the internet free from interference by the companies who own the pipes it runs on. That said, I’m on CBC Radio’s Spark program talking about it this week - I’m on around the 32:10 mark, just after Tim Berners-Lee, the fellow who invented the web, and his definition of net neutrality. (The program also has a cool bit about geoblocking and why we Canadians can’t access websites like Hulu - check it out).

I got asked a few times last week what I thought about the different developments in Canada and the U.S. Basically, what happened is that Canada’s regulator, the CRTC, issued a new set of rules that internet service providers have to follow. ISPs must first use “economic measures” to try and control congestion - in other words, they have to build more capacity into their networks or charge customers by how much they download. If those moves don’t alleviate congestion, they can try “technical measures” such as traffic shaping and throttling. In any event, they have to be transparent in what they’re doing and tell customers about it.

A day after the Canadian ruling, the CRTC’s U.S. counterpart, the FCC, approved a process that will ultimately establish similar rules, probably by next summer. The FCC has proposed a bunch of rules and there will now be several months of lobbying from both ISPs and net neutrality advocates before there is a final framework.

So what do I think? Well, the FCC’s proposed rules are considerably stronger than the CRTC’s official rules - they prohibit ISPs from blocking any sort of legal traffic or content. The CRTC rules do too, sort of, but ISPs do get the “technical measures” out - if they can prove a particular application is harming their network, they can effectively cripple it.

Moreover, the intent behind the FCC’s proposed rules is also much stronger - Barack Obama vowed to protect net neutrality during his election campaign, and he’s got ties to big supporting companies like Google. In Canada, our government continues to be mum on the subject.

(On a related note - there is some disturbing news coming from my old colleague Jesse Brown, who hosts the Search Engine podcast for TVO. Last week, Jesse tweeted some highlights from an interview he did with CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein, who admitted he hasn’t seen any studies that have criticized Canada’s broadband situation. That’s pretty shocking. Jesse tells me his podcast will be up on Monday - I’ll post a link to it here as soon as I see it.)

It’ll be interesting to see whether this apparently strong political will for concrete rules in the U.S. will get watered down by lobbying over the next couple of months. Heck, even acknowledged computer illiterate John McCain has joined in on attacking the FCC’s proposed rules.

Meanwhile, here in Canada we’re going to go with that old cliche - only time will tell.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to Jesse’s interview with the CRTC chairman. Some great questions in there.