Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pass it on

Any Blog worth its salt has recurring features; we all know this. In the coming days we'll introduce at least two and it's a safe bet that at least one of them will actually wind up being a recurring feature. This one's called "Pass it on."

Katherine Heigl, 29, used her real vagina for the birthing scenes in Knocked Up, stating "I'm the type of person who does my own stunts. I think this sends a message to people that birthing is not something to be ashamed of." Judd Apatow's film, which debuted at #1, has been criticized for its shocking depiction of a realistic birth. However, Malosi Leonard the stunt coordinator for the film disagrees, saying "Katherine's brave decision to insert a watermelon-sized fake baby head into her vagina and then push it out on camera is a tribute to mothers across the globe." (Quarterly Might, July 2007 Interview)

Hmmm... I didn't hear the press raving when Tom Cruise (who always does his own stunts) used his real vagina for the Gatling gun scene in "The Last Samurai" but I guess that's a typical double standard. Rim shot.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Top bad puns for a hair salon I will never start, thought of today (with some serious assistance):
  • Bloods and Clips
  • Perms of En-shear-ment
  • Total E-clips of the Part (online salon)
  • Raising Hairizona
  • Kiddie Shorn (kidz cuts!)
  • The Brother's Trimme Hairy Tales (doubles as gonzo niche porn title)
  • Trim and Crop-her
  • His Curl Friday
  • Bosnia-Hairzegovina
  • 'Fro Momma from the Mane
  • Last Tangle in Hair-is
  • Thou Shalt not Commit Adulthairy
  • The face that launched 1,000 clips
  • Take me down to the Hairadise city where the 'stache is clean and the curls are pretty

I hope they all make you groan. I'll probably think of 5 worse ones tomorrow morning and edit this. Perhaps some suggestions as well...

In other news:

Pentagon confirms it sought to build a "gay bomb" (real.)

Small funny Gif of Conan dancing like a maniac with Andrew WK.

Chomsky to Dennett: suck it. (this isn't hard-core tech reading, but you might want to know something about science history or the philosophy of the mind before jumping in.)

How to get an iPhone for $99 without getting friend referrals or signing up for 2,123 offers.

At the end of this post I will explain to you how you can save $300-$400 on an iPhone. If that's all you care about, start scrolling.

I want an effing iPhone so badly that I have become completely irrational about it. I am emotionally committed to a gadget I have never seen in person. I don't know anybody that has seen it, and chances are it will barely even function where I live. (no AT&T in Montana)

$599 for the 8GB model doesn't even make me flinch. I typically have buyer's remorse after any purchase over $40 (even dinner) and I am ready to shell out $600 for a product that I really don't know anything about at this point. (other than what the almighty Steve Jobs has told us)

Financial analysts seem to think I'm not alone. Equity research analyst Mike McCormack has estimated that nearly 1 million customers will leave their cellular provider in order to get an iPhone with AT&T wireless (the wireless company formerly known as Cingular). Research and investment firm PiperJaffray has predicted iPhone's yearly sales to grow into a 45 million unit per year business by 2009. And in their 13th biannual study of teen shopping behavior and brand preferences, PiperJaffray found that 84 percent of the students surveyed had heard of Apple's iPhone and 25 percent said they would pay $500 for the iPhone.

So what is so great about the iPhone? Who cares. It's an iPhone, it's made by Apple. It has really cool marketing and they are releasing it at 6pm (local time) on a Friday night so you can show up at your favorite watering hole with your semi-charged iPhone.

Seriously though... the lack of GPS or 3G doesn't bother me. The iPhone could run on diesel fuel and I wouldn't hesitate. Whatever Apple decided is fine with me. After all, I have been listening to Steve Jobs since I was a kid. Everything he has told me to buy has made me happy and cool. (and my friends jealous- at least until they bought their own)

Some of you may remember that the other contributor to this blog is not an apple user. Yes, he says he's a "PC guy". Well, except for his iPod he's a PC guy. Earlier this year Apple dropped "computer" from its name. Apple is a consumer electronics company and most "PC guys" and girls I know are "Apple" users in one way or another. (ipod, itunes, or an apple computer)

Matt is probably calling himself a PC guy because he is smart And it turns out the most famous PC Guy is extremely smart. (and not-surprisingly a "mac guy") In fact, the "PC Guy" kinda sorta has ties to the name of our blog. (in a round-about kinda sorta way) He is a contributor to

Anyway, smart guys like Matt are not going to line up on June 29th to buy an iPhone. They don't make emotional commitments to buy things without ever reading a review or trying one out first. However, guys like me... well, we do. And like anything, there is a smart way to do it, and a not so smart way.

I am going to keep you all updated on my iPhone purchase from now until I have used the product for a few months (and reviewed it on this blog). I know you are thinking there is nothing to report right now, as I can't purchase one until June 29th.... however, the process has already begun. There are several obstacles I must overcome to get an iPhone, and I'm going to tell explain to you how I do it.

Obstacle #1: I live in BFE and AT&T does not provide service here

Because Montana does not have AT&T service, I am living in the state that Apple forgot. Montana is CDMA territory and Verizon has a pretty good hold on the cellular business around these parts. Fortunately, there is a company that is changing all of that. Chinook Wireless has been building a GSM network that will allow AT&T customers to roam in Montana. (or Montanan's to buy Chinook Wireless service- without the iPhone)

So if I can get AT&T service using an out-of-state address I can roam in Montana. Unfortunately the AT&T coverage map shows that while they have roaming coverage in Montana, the "EDGE" network (high speed network) does not work in Montana. I can only hope this is not true as I know Chinook's GSM network is an EDGE network, although it may be that AT&T customers don't have access to the EDGE capabilities while roaming.

Obstacle #2 - Out of state phone number

With an out-of-state address listed as my primary use location, I will be stuck with an out-of-state phone number. This wouldn't matter except that my place of employment would probably question my logic. They pay for my cell phone, and I highly doubt they would want to pay for me to have a long distance phone number. (and business cards printed up with a California number)

This is where VOIP comes in. I can port my current local # to Vonage and then set up Vonage to forward all calls to my new California #. I have to sign up for Vonage service (at $25/month) and then forwarding and long distance is free. That way my clients/friends/etc. can call my current local Verizon # and they will actually be calling my future AT&T California #.

Obstacle #3 - No contract/upgrade discount on the iPhone (how to save hundreds of $$$)

$599 with a 2 year service agreement. You know how when you sign up for a 2 year contract you typically get a huge discount on your phone? Yeah, well not with the iPhone. AT&T is selling it at full retail price, so that 2 year contract gets you nothing. Customers who qualify for an upgrade and customers who don't will all pay the same exact price.

So if you are planning on purchasing an iPhone, and you either qualify for an AT&T upgrade or you will be a new AT&T customer, you must take advantage of their discounts. Most of their phones are offered at significant discounts with a 2 year contract, and this can be transferred to the iPhone.

All you do is purchase a phone, like the Blackberry Curve ($99 with a new contract through Amazon) and sell it on Ebay "new in box". You can then apply your $300-$400 profit towards the iPhone. So if you profit $400, and you buy the $499 iPhone... that's an iPhone for the low price of $99!

I ordered my Curve and new AT&T service yesterday and I expect it to arrive on Wednesday. I'll keep you posted on how things go and what my final cost is for my 8GB iPhone.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bad Credit? I know why...

There are many rites of passage for a given generation some common to all (like having a photo taken of you as kid where it looks like you're drinking a beer) and some which are more specific (trekking across the dust bowl so pa can find honest work.) Our generation had a significant one, and one that nobody brings up- even though it explains everything. What is this magic commonality?

I'm talking about ripping off Columbia House and/or BMG. You fill out the little 12 CDs for a dollar card, you send it in, get your 12 CDs and then ignore everything else you ever get from them. Based on an informal survey I recently conducted, 100% of people in the US between 20-30 have done this. 98% have done it more than once and 45% have used a fake name to do it a second or third time. I mean, how could you not? 12 Cds for 1 cent? Add that to the fact that you've got a nice little checklist that's demographically targeted to you (based on the magazine you found it in) and all you have to do is check the box and drop it in the mail. I remember filling out those checklists for fun sometimes- it was like rehearsing your fully paid shopping spree.

Well first let's acknowledge that however BMG and Columbia House thought they were going to make money, they had the stupidest business model outside of rent-a-sex-toy. Let's set aside for a minute the millions that BMG has been losing and focus on what in the hell they could've been thinking. Can you imagine walking into a furniture store and having the guy go "well you can have 12 free pieces of furniture- go ahead and pick them out and you can take them home today. BUT I gotta tell you that we're going keep shipping random furniture items to your house, and it's up to you to send them back. Eventually we're going to ask that you pay for one of the items." It'd be amazing! You pick out all 12 items and you're about to leave but suddenly the guy stops you and says "Woah woah wait a sec. We can't just let you walk out of here- do you think we're stupid? We're going to need you to write your name down on this here piece of paper. No no, don't worry we don't need to check ID. But we're gonna need that name. And WRITTEN."

That's Columbia House/BMG's (they are the same company now actually) entire business model. Of all of the people who got the CDs, didn't send back the CDs they got in the mail every month, and never paid a single dime (i.e. 100% of the 100% of the people I talked to) nothing ever happened to them*. I don't even remember a threatening letter!

Between you, me, and everyone reading this we probably owe Columbia House and BMG $100,000. Don't worry though, I won't tell. Do you feel like you got away with something though? Don't be so sure. I think a good case can be made that our formative experiences with Columbia House/BMG has had a lasting effect on our collective generational psyches, as follows:

  • Our generation has bad credit. What else would you expect from a generation who's first experience in Corporate credit (because that's what it was, if you think about it) was a company that just handed out your favorite stuff, kept sending you other stuff it thought you'd like and never asked for anything in return? Is it any wonder that we think that ignoring credit card bills will just make them go away?
  • Our generation has a music downloading addiction. At a young age we were conditioned to just expect that we could get our favorite CDs for free (or more accurately 1/12th of one cent.) Is it a big mystery that we've created large peer-based networks to ensure we keep getting free music?
  • Our generation has a deep ambivalence toward corporations. On the one hand they seemed to give you free stuff, but on the other hand there was still an aftertaste of opportunistic evil. Why was it so easy to throw the Columbia House letters in the trash? Why was it so easy to sign up with BMG after you'd already ripped off Columbia House? Thinking back, I remember kind of disliking the companies because they seemed to be trying to trick you- why else would they send you a CD you didn't ask for and ask you to pay for it? That's not a good excuse I know, but it's true.
I have a request for the comments. After you picked your 12 CDs you'd always get a few "CDs of the month" and I know you didn't send them back. You kept them in the packaging for 2 months, anxiously feeling guilty that you let the 1 month return deadline pass but eventually going "well screw it, I guess I have no choice." Because you were young enough that every CD seemed at least a little intriguing, you listened to it once, at least partially. What was it/ What were they? I'll go first (in the comments.) If anybody else got the same one as you, I highly recommend using the hi-five emoticon (the only tolerable emoticon, really) as follows:

Commenter Leah: Ropin' the Wind
Commenter Morgen: Ropin the Wind too! o/
Leah: \o

Hey speaking of free stuff. I've got a little reward for your people who check this blog frequently (because this link won't be up forever) and who've continued to check it, despite a little dry spell (it's hard to follow up a post as long-in-the-making and popular as Wet Wipe Manifesto was.) Since you've made it this far, you can download the new Al Gore book "The Assault on Reason" for free here (pt 1) and here (pt 2).

And for those who don't like Al Gore (hey, that's understandable I think) here's a leaked Kanye West track from his forthcoming album graduation that samples Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster Stronger" (which makes it awesome.)

Kanye West- Stronger

*And I mean nothing- they have all led blessed, problem free lives thanks to the divine guardianship of the BMG rip-off angel. Okay, no.