Archive for November, 2009

London Olympics logo - is it child porn?

November 30, 2009 1 comment

We begin this week with a touch of the bizarre. While we Canadians get ready for our Olympics in a few months, the Brits look like they’ve got their hands full with their own games, which are still two years away. It seems the games’ logo is causing quite a stir. Have a good look at the image at right.

Okay, now what was the first thing you thought of? If your answer was “child porn,” give yourself a gold star!

Yes, it’s true. The London Olympics logo, which I think is admittedly a little strange, has already taken its share of criticism, but now some people are saying it’s child porn. To be more specific, they’re saying it looks like Lisa Simpson performing oral sex.

Here’s a Facebook group with more than 250,000 members (as of Sunday night) who seem to agree. The group has also taken the liberty of colouring the logo to make it more explicit. Adult entertainment news site Xbiz is citing some unnamed critics who say the logo may violate U.K. child porn laws, and that a formal complaint is sure to come.

Funny or outright ridiculous? I can’t decide…

By the way, the logo is supposed to depict “2012.” I’ll be damned if I saw it.

Categories: britain, sex

KFC’s grilled chicken most memorable new product of 2009

November 27, 2009 Comments off

Just how ingrained is fast food in our brains? Extremely, according to a New York Times article. KFC’s Kentucky Grilled Chicken menu item was the most memorable new product of 2009, according to the eighth annual study conducted by Schneider Associates, IRI and Sentient Decision Science, which was released the other day.

Moreover, five of the top 11 products (there was a tie for 10th place) were fast-food items. They were McDonald’s McCafe coffees (#2), Quizno’s Torpedo sandwich (#6), McD’s again with the Angus Burger (#7) and Taco Bell’s Volcano Nachos (#8). A couple of non-fast-food items made the list too, including the Blackberry Storm and the Beatles Rock Band video game.

The story indicates that the poor economy was to blame for the lack of memorable new products in 2009, and from my experience that’s probably right. Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, which I’ll be covering. I’m expecting it to be a pretty exciting one after last year’s, which was pretty morose because of the economy.

Last year, the big electronics companies held back on introducing fancy new technologies because they knew no one would have the money to buy them. Now, with things looking up, I suspect they’re going to let the new stuff rip.

But the survey, which may or not be based on dubious methodology (read the NYT article), nevertheless highlights more than just economic problems. It also shows how effective fast-food advertising is, which means the companies involved put a lot of effort and resources into making people aware of their new products. Food is, after all, the biggest industry there is (more than $4 trillion in annual global revenue) and it is fiercely competitive. It’s no wonder some of the products are memorable.

In the end, it’s probably a good thing that KFC’s grilled chicken - which is considerably healthier than just about anything else on its menu - was the most memorably new product of 2009, and not the Double Down.

Categories: CES, chicken, food, kfc, mcdonald's

Hookers for Jesus meets God’s heavy metal

November 26, 2009 Comments off

I got word this week that I’ll be heading down to Las Vegas again in January to cover the Consumer Electronics Show, so it’s only fitting that I share a story about possibly the best Sin City event there’s ever been: a wedding between the guitarist of Christian heavy metal band Stryper and the founder of Hookers for Jesus.

Oh yes, it’s true - Oz Fox, guitarist for Stryper (which apparently stands for Salvation Through Redemption, Yielding Peace, Encouragement and Righteousness) has married Annie Lobért, an ex-prostitute who gave up her profession after finding Jesus and now tries to get other ladies of the night to do the same.

Now, this monumental event happened back in June and I’m somewhat ashamed for not having this back then, but I only learned of it the other day when a friend (and former band mate from our university metal band Evilution) brought it to my attention.

First up, let’s deal with Stryper. I simply never could get into a heavy metal band that loved Jesus. It just seemed… wrong. With Iron Maiden singing about 666, the number of the the beast, and Motley Crue shouting at the devil, Stryper just seemed like a big bunch of pansies. It’s like they were missing the point of the music. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself - if this isn’t the wimpiest metal you’ve ever seen or heard, I don’t know what is:

Then there’s Hookers for Jesus. On her website, Lobért talks about her 11 years as a prostitute and stripper and how she became a sex slave and drug addict because of it. She says she got out of it because of the strength she found in God, and all that stuff, yadda yadda yadda. Don’t get me wrong - if it helps people get out of a terrible life, more power to them… it’s just that I tuned out all that religious stuff at the age of six.

Hookers for Jesus is Lobért’s way of saving others from the same fate. ABC’s Nightline did an interesting piece on it back in March, which you can watch here. The one thing I found unsettling about the situation is that Lobért is getting help from a fellow named Pastor Benny in Las Vegas, who has given her group use of one his church’s houses, which they’ve dubbed “Destiny’s House.”

What’s always bugged me about organized religions is the fact that they have assets, such as property. I really don’t think Jesus intended his preachers to be dealing in real estate. In fact, I’m pretty sure he would have been against it. Come to think of it, I’m not too sure Jesus would have been all that into heavy metal either.

Nevertheless, how can you not like a story about hookers, heavy metal and Jesus?

Categories: sex

Universal Soldier 3: More Van Dammage

November 25, 2009 Comments off

It was with mixed emotions that I watched a friend’s link to the trailer for Universal Soldier 3 on Facebook the other day. On the one hand, I really like bad action movies (I can’t wait for Ninja Assassin, starring Korean pop star Rain - you know that one’s gonna be great!) I’ve also always kinda secretly pulled for Jean Claude Van Damme, and perhaps even a little bit for Dolph Lundgren. After all, the man who brought us Ivan Drago deserves so much better.

On the other hand, I can’t understand why this movie is being made. It’s not like the previous one did mondo box office. Have fans been clamouring for another sequel? Somehow I doubt it. Maybe Van Damme is about to undergo a Mickey Rourke-like resurrection after his acclaimed performance in JCVD, a movie that was about… him. (I won’t even make the obvious joke about how he did well in it because he didn’t have to act… wait a minute, I just did, whoops!)

Here’s the Universal Soldier 3 trailer - check it out, it’s full of Van Dammage:

I suppose the reason I sort of like these movies is because they reinforce what I’ve been talking about on this website for almost nine months now - that it’s the military that drives technology. Van Damme and Lundgren are technogically enhanced soldiers in the movie, and while real-world troops aren’t exactly emotionless cyborgs yet, there is definitely a push to move them that way.

UPDATE: Oh yeah baby, Ninja Assassin is getting panned across the board - it’s got a 33 on Metacritic. Looks like I’ve got to go see it this weekend before it disappears.

Categories: army, bionics, war

Child porn: shouldn’t the police do the policing?

November 24, 2009 Comments off

The big news of the day is that our federal government here in Canada is set to announce new legislation that will require internet service providers to help authorities nail purveyors of online child porn. It’s an issue that has, not surprisingly, provoked visceral reaction from Canadians in several ways.

Firstly, nobody in their right minds supports child porn - it’s sick, horrible and the people who peddle it should rightly go to jail. Something definitely needs to be done about it - the question is what. As many commenters on the CBC story (which was written by a colleague of mine) pointed out, the government’s proposed rules may not be the answer.

The legislation will force ISPs to alert authorities if they come across any host sites linked to child porn, and it will force them to guard any evidence of sites that may have used one of their servers. ISPs would also have to report any “tip” provided to them about potential child porn sites to police.

There are a number of questions that arise from this approach. What happens if your computer is infected and recruited to be part of a botnet, which automatically spreads the offending material without you having an inkling that it’s happening? Also, what’s to stop abuse of the “tip” system? If somebody doesn’t like you, what’s to stop them from reporting your personal blog to the ISP, who then sics the police on you? One commenter on internet guru Michael Geist’s blog summed up the issue quite nicely (and somewhat emotionally) thusly:

Child porn is a lever which is used to pry away our privacy. Yes, child porn is wrong, but those who made it already committed crimes. The act of creation is alone illegal. What’s scary is that child porn is ephemeral and suddenly when you are in possession of this ephemeral illegal information you can go to jail. Have fun proving you didn’t know it was there because your PC was being used as a node in a botnet.

As the commenter said, child porn is indeed a lever - and at the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, if we allow the government to intrude in this sense, where does it end? During the summer, I posted about how a British ISP blocked access to this blog through its McDonald’s hotspots, presumably because it had the word “boobs” in its URL (alas, rest in peace “boobs”) or because I occasionally discuss sex and porn. Anyone who has read this blog knows that the most risque or offensive things that ever appear here are pictures of the latest fast-food monstrosity, yet it’s already enough to get blocked.

I’m not sure what the answer is to stop child porn, but the Canadian government’s approach seems like a fairly lazy one. Rather than trying to get the RCMP to do its job, the government looks like it’s trying to offload the work of policing the internet from, y’know, real police to ISPs. The RCMP supposedly has a cyber-crime strategy - or at least they were working on one last year - so shouldn’t they be in charge of finding and preventing this stuff?

Categories: britain, censorship, internet, sex