Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, March 06, 2021

call me now!
Funny how fleeting fame is. While viewing an MST3K episode taped off TV from five years ago, I spied an old commercial for the psychic pride of Jamaica, Miss Cleo.

Miss Cleo’s commercials were on the cable airwaves for a short period of time, but their cheesy vibe and ubiquitousness were enough to make their star a recognizable, in-the-know punchline. There was something about the drawn-out tarot demonstrations and Miss Cleo’s slightly bombastic announcements that just hit the right chord.

Alas, Miss Cleo turned out to be much less than what she appeared. She was born Youree Harris, in Los Angeles — not Jamaica. She was outed as a fraud, and promptly disappeared as soon as the heat turned up. I clearly remember seeing what must have been her very last commercial, wherein she indirectly addressed her naysayers, using language about how she couldn’t control what others were saying about her, but that she’d remain true to her mission nevertheless.

I wondered about that 1-800 number pictured above. Could it still be in service, by some illegitimate successor to Miss Cleo?

I went ahead and dialed it. It came up with a canned recording for Miss Cleo’s former employer, Mind and Spirit (their old website, as shown on the TV spots, seems to be taken by someone else, and I can’t find another online home for them). Very disappointing; I was hoping it would yield something like “Miss Cleah, Cleo’s cousin”.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/06/2021 10:04:16 PM
Category: Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

This may not be anything new, but it’s new to me… The following is a snippet of HTML code from this Internet Movie Database page (edited some for better display here):

[table border=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ background=”http://posters.imdb.com/
[a href=”http://www.nostalgia.com/”][img src=”http://i.imdb.com/Icons/
poster_under_licence.gif” border=”0″ width=”192″ height=”143″ alt=”Image courtesy nostalgia.com”][/a]

Notice the “background” qualifier nested under the TABLE tag. Usually, that qualifier is used for background color. In this case, it’s being used to display the actual image that’s being placed.

What’s more, there’s the “poster_under_license.gif” image placed over that TABLE background. If you do the standard right-click “save image as” maneuver, this will download that .gif image, which turns out to be a transparent placeholder. Instead of grabbing the intended image — the movie poster — anyone trying to save that image to their hard drive gets junk.

So instead of using a standard IMG tag to put an image on the page, IMDb is using this slightly more elaborate TABLE setup to effectively “bury” the image, but still make it perfectly viewable. The intent is to foil hotlinking and copying, and doing it without resorting to JavaScript or other iffy tricks.

It’s pretty clever. It won’t stop more sophisticated Web users from getting at the image, if they really want it — they can figure out how to get beyond the right-click path. But it’ll stop most people, and that’s the point. I can’t see doing this on a largescale Website design level, incorporating background images and such (cascading style sheets take care of a lot of that as well), but for specific image placement, it’s a dandy idea.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/06/2021 09:28:54 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Only on the Internet can a six-year-old voicemail about a bunch of little old ladies beating the hell out of a road-rager become a comedic sensation.

Snopes provides an mp3 of the audio (you have to save the file to your hard drive, then play that copy in your audio player; Snopes doesn’t seem to let you play it from their server), along with an incomplete grade regarding its authenticity.

Personally, I find the eyewitness account, allegedly from one Mike Childs while he was working as a construction manager for Jack in the Box, to be only mildly amusing. I have no reason to think it’s a hoax. However, right at the 3-minute mark of the playback, I could swear I could hear another person laughing in the background. It could be my imagination, but if anyone else detects that, let me know.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/06/2021 08:43:46 PM
Category: Internet, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Marxism points to the theory of alienation as a damaging condition of living as a worker in a capitalist society.

Silly leftists! I guess their historical dialectic didn’t foresee that industrial-themed musical productions are the perfect corporate tonic for any feelings of extreme separation from the products of one’s own labor. Spending ten hours in a canning factory is a breeze as long as you have a toe-tapping revue to look forward to at the next company meeting!

Not to get too carried away with the sociological significance of these audio artifacts, but [industrial musical collector Steve] Young believes that the recording of industrial musicals helps shed some light on the inner workings of modern-day corporations.

“They say things at these shows that they don’t say in public,” Young said.

Among the “sinister corporate chatter” Young has detected is a lyric in a 1979 Coca-Cola bottlers show that talks about sending “the OSHA guys straight to hell.” And a 1957 Ford show predicted that, in the sales realm at least, “we’ll beat the hell out of Chevy!”

Bygone corporate culture to a three-quarters beat. I love it! In fact, I think it would behoove today’s corporations to adopt this all-singin’ all-dancin’ human-resource approach. Here are some motivational song proposals, appropriate to each company:

Microsoft: “Fire That Fox“, “Pluck That Penguin“.

Halliburton: “We Know Dick“, “That Petrol Emotion”.

Wal-Mart: “Big-Box Stores, Big-Box Hearts”, “Zoning-Board Blues”.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/06/2021 03:02:32 PM
Category: Political Theory, Business, Creative | Permalink | Feedback