Amazon unveils homophobic computer software

Over the weekend Amazon seems to have broken through the Turing barrier and unveiled an artificial intelligence that is predisposed to homophobia. At least that’s how I read their explanation for why the sales rankings for books with gay, lesbian and other non-heterosexual “adult” topics.

“We recently discovered a glitch to our Amazon sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed.  We’re working to correct the problem as quickly as possible.”

That’s one highly selective glitch. As Peter Kafka (who is skeptical of both sides) points out: “Amazon’s listing for Annie Proloux’s “Brokeback Mountain” doesn’t have a sales rank. But the author’s newest book does have one.”

The story of the glitch or suppression is one of those twitter-nightmares marketers now live in fear of. #Amazonfail is the #1 trending topic there at the moment.

While the sales rank for Brokeback had been restored by this morning( #18,894 far ahead of “The Shipping News” which I love), the damage has been done and it’s going to be interesting to see how Amazon tries to fix it. As yet no official press release from them on the topic.

If this was an attempt to hide gay content it was doomed to fail. The High School Musical DVDs are the top 6 bestselling DVDs for tweens on Amazon. Nothing could counter that.

Tea leaves not looking promising for McCain

I hesitate to make a prediction but the race for president may not wind up being as close as it currently looks.

First the TV audience:

  1. Hillary Clinton’s speech (26.0 million viewers) had higher ratings than Michelle Obama’s speech (22.3 million viewers).
  2. Almost five times as many people (26 million) watched Day Two coverage in 2008 vs. Day Two in 2004 (5.9 million) when only the cable networks covered the convention

It will be interesting to see the numbers for tonight. But last night’s numbers don’t suck either:

  1. More than 24 million people watched the third night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention — a 7.5% decrease from 26 million viewers on day two of the convention.
  2. Wednesday night’s speeches, which featured Former President Bill Clinton’s endorsement of Senator Obama and Senator Joseph Biden’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for vice president, drew 12.2% of all African American viewers — down slightly from the prevous night when Hillary Clinton addressed the convention (12.7%), but up from day one (12%), when Michelle Obama spoke.
  3. Viewers age 55 and older continue to dominate the DNC’s TV audience, with 18.1% of all Americans in that age group — 12.5 million people — tuning in to Wednesday night’s convention coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, BET, and TV One.

Perhaps most telling is this: The 24 million who watched last night was a third larger than the 18 million who watched day three of the 2004 Democratic snooze fest.

Then the live audience:

According to the Dayton Daily News, Sen. John McCain is still giving away tickets to his Friday rally where he will unveil his running mate. He’s having trouble filling a 10,000 seat arena.

(BTW, all 75K seats seem filled for tonight’s speech at Mile High Stadium by Mr. Obama)

All of which may be caused by the McCain campaign’s astounding ability to say exactly the wrong thing. First there was former advisor Phill Gramm’s “American’s are whiners” reaction to the current economic troubles. This of course was still eclipsed by the candidate himself saying he didn’t know how many houses he had. While nothing will ever top that one there’s today’s wonderful bon bête on how to deal with the health insurance issue:

“The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care. So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved.” — John Goodman (not the actor), president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank, and the person who helped draft. Sen. John McCain’s health care policy.

Best line in the story: “Goodman said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort.” I believe Goodman was quoting a classic solution to problems of the poor originally conceived of a by a Mr. Dickens. Too bad he hadn’t read Mr. Swift.

Suddenly the malaprops of Dan Quayle and even the our current Inarticulator-In-Chief don’t seem so bad.

All that said, the good senator from Arizona is hardly out of it by any account. Should he pick either Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Christine Todd Whitman (former governor of New Jersey and ex-chief of the EPA) as VP he could really make it close. That would get him a lot of Hillary defectors. While the senator has been mentioned as a possible veep it is as the longest of shots, the governor has not even got that close.

BTW, you could save some time and read this stuff at the place I get it: Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire. I  recommend it highly.

Berlin wax museum wants to include Hitler

What part of the phrase INCREDIBLY STUPID BAD IDEA don’t they understand?

Hitler would be featured as a broken man in a dark, bunker-like setting, with panels providing explanations on the dictator, spokeswoman Natalie Ruoss said, adding a figure of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill would be shown in the same room.

Only way Herr Schickelgruber should be included is if they also have a display featuring his victims.

ID protection service fails to protect CEO’s identity

For two years LifeLock has run ads in which CEO Todd Davis touted the security of the service, even going so far as to publish his Social Security number and daring people to steal his ID.

Now, Lifelock customers in Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia are suing Davis, claiming his service didn’t work as promised and he knew it wouldn’t, because the service had failed even him. … Davis acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity, and one succeeded: a guy in Texas who duped an online payday loan operation last year into giving him $500 using Davis’ Social Security number.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS.

Easily foreseen consequence: NYC money give-away results in melee

A video-sharing Web site set out to observe Leap Day by handing out prizes worth up to $29 on Feb. 29 outside Union Square Park. As the clocked toward the event’s scheduled time – 2:29 p.m. – people shouting “Make it rain!” and “Give me my money!” trampled one another and mobbed the costumed representatives of CashTomato.com Some people wrested bags of cash-stuffed envelopes and other items from the CashTomato workers, said Jason Buzi, who identified himself as the company’s senior vice president.

What part of “Duh” don’t you understand?

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Co-branding nightmare: Barbie Rice Krispies Treats

barbie treatWhat part of the phrase “childhood obesity problem” don’t you understand? I guess the underlying message is “eat these and you won’t worry so much about the fact that you don’t look like Barbie.” Gotta say that the pink marshmallow goo looks evil to me.

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Firm launches Lolita brand of beds for young girls … hilarity ensues

The Woolworths chain of retail stores in Britain has withdrawn the sale of beds named Lolita and designed for six-year-old girls after furious parents pointed out that the name was synonymous with sexually active pre-teens.

“Lolita, light of my life, home of my thread count. My Simmons, my Sealy, my Serta. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the Tempurpedic. Lo. Lee. Ta.”

This is what happens when you cut funding to education.

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