Tag Archives: Chris Morran

Kenneth Cole Steps In It

Kenneth Cole twitter

Kenneth Cole PR twitter

Katherine Noyes at PC World:

For all those who needed an illustration of how a business shouldn’t use Twitter, Kenneth Cole kindly provided it this week by using the current unrest in Egypt as a promotional tool.

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo,” read the original tweet from Thursday morning. “Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo.”

Widespread uproar was the result, all right, but not as a result of any spring collection. Such was the magnitude of the outcry at Cole’s insensitivity, in fact, that the company hastily removed the tweet that same day and issued two retractions instead.

“Re Egypt tweet: we weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation,” read the first. “We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment -KC”

A second, posted on Facebook soon afterward, read as follows:

“I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”

Erik Hayden at The Atlantic:

And a snapshot of reactions:

  • The Next Web – “Oh dear, we thought that big brands might have learnt that hijacking hashtags isn’t a good idea”
  • Advertising Age – “Kenneth Cole and others in the media and marketing industries not only suffer from a lack of tact, they suffer from a lack of historical knowledge and the ability to grasp that the situation in Egypt could get a hell of lot uglier than it is even at this moment.”
  • Styleite – “Apparently Kenneth Cole knows there’s nothing like a violent political revolution to boost sales!”

Brenna Ehrlich at Mashable:

Cole made a similarly indelicate statement in the past; following 9/11, he told the New York Daily News: “Important moments like this are a time to reflect… To remind us, sometimes, that it’s not only important what you wear, but it’s also important to be aware.”

The Twitterverse, unsurprisingly, is not happy with Cole’s 140-character missive. A fake account — @KennethColePR, à la @BPGlobalPR — has even cropped up, mocking the designer with such tweets as: “Our new slingback pumps would make Anne Frank come out of hiding! #KennethColeTweets.”

Amy Odell at New York Magazine:

Since the Tweet caused mass offense around the Internet, a Kenneth Cole parody account @KennethColePR emerged. Its tweets include, “‘People from New Orleans are flooding into Kenneth Cole stores!’ #KennethColeTweets.” Also: “People of Haiti, fall into our store for earth-shattering savings! #KennethColeTweets.” Not to be outdone by: “Hey, Pope Benedict – there’s no way to fondle our spring shoes inappropriately! #KennethColeTweets.”An hour ago, the pranksters got serious, tweeting that they would turn over the fake account to the brand if they made a donation to Amnesty International or another charitable organization. And still, a quick scan of the Kenneth Cole Facebook wall reveals a lot of people thought that Cairo tweet was funny anyway.

Adam Clark Estes in Salon:

Oh, Kenneth.

Unspoken rule No. 1: Don’t make jokes about tragedies. You’ve donethis sort of thingbefore — mixing up bad puns and profundity. It’s oh-so-tempting to try to make light of grim situations, sad stories and global traumas. Don’t try to make it funny. That’s what comedians are for. Kenneth Cole is a fashion designer known for sharp-looking dress shoes, not sharp wit.

Unspoken rule No. 2: Don’t make marketing gimmicks out of tragedies. This is just like rule No. 1 but more directed at Kenneth Cole. When the world’s attention is fixated on one event, sometimes it’s not the best idea to jump up and down with the “Look at me!” routine. The unrest in Egypt isn’t the Super Bowl. It’s a troubling story with historical implications. Nobody wants to hear about your spring slacks.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

When you think of Kenneth Cole, you probably don’t associate the apparel brand with edgy, topical humor. And you probably won’t ever again, after the company stuck its shiny leather shoe in its mouth with a Tweet referencing the current political upheaval in Egypt.

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Filed under Fashion, Middle East, New Media

If Life Gives You Lemons, Throw Them At The Health Inspector

Helen Jung at The Oregonian:

It’s hardly unusual to hear small-business owners gripe about licensing requirements or complain that heavy-handed regulations are driving them into the red.

So when Multnomah County shut down an enterprise last week for operating without a license, you might just sigh and say, there they go again.

Except this entrepreneur was a 7-year-old named Julie Murphy. Her business was a lemonade stand at the Last Thursday monthly art fair in Northeast Portland. The government regulation she violated? Failing to get a $120 temporary restaurant license.

Turns out that kids’ lemonade stands — those constants of summertime — are supposed to get a permit in Oregon, particularly at big events that happen to be patrolled regularly by county health inspectors.

“I understand the reason behind what they’re doing and it’s a neighborhood event, and they’re trying to generate revenue,” said Jon Kawaguchi, environmental health supervisor for the Multnomah County Health Department. “But we still need to put the public’s health first.”

Ann Althouse

Paul Chesser at The American Spectator:

So whose role is it to protect the public from excessive government? The health department says you can call and register complaints with the Multnomah County Environmental Health Services. Okay, so it’s for food illnesses, but you know, it’s easy to get sick of out of control regulators too. And Lillian Shirley is the head bureaucrat at the Health Department.

As for citizens, they are planning their own lemonade revolt at the end of this month.

Richard Lawson at Gawker:

Though she was using hand sanitizer, 7-year-old Julie Murphy’s art fair lemonade stand was shut down because it didn’t have the necessary restaurant license. People were outraged and anarchists (srsly) are planning a protest. Stay strong, government agents!

Katie Pavlich at Townhall:

The girl, Julie Murphy, was selling the lemonade for 50 cents, which means she would have to sell 240 cups in order to purchase a food license, and in addition 1000 cups to then pay off the $500 fine. I wonder if the government would then tax the girl’s revenues as well.

Moe Lane at Redstate:

Hey, if Blue State/Democratic-controlled governments want to avoid being raked over the coals because their convoluted regulatory schemes keep throwing up scenarios where public sector union employees have to threaten seven year old girls and make them cry, here’s a thought: don’t make the regulatory schemes quite so complicated.  True, doing it that way requires one faction of the Democratic party (public sector unions) to have a fight with another faction (trial lawyers), but why is that my problem?

Don Suber:

The little girl is adorable in the accompanying photo.

Now readers may have figured out that one of my favorite albums is “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It’s the music.

And OK, the cover.

Lemonade very pretty and the little girl is swell.
But the ade of the poor girl is impossible to sell.
Bureaucracy very rigid and you do what they tell.
But the fruits at the health department can all go to…

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

Realizing the error of their ways, county officials have now issued an apology, meaning the little girl’s horribly unsafe lemonade can be unleashed upon the world once more.

In his decision, Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen said that while county health department workers were “following the rule book” when they stopped the girl and her mom from selling lemonade, he asked them to use “professional discretion.”

“A lemonade stand is a classic, iconic American kid thing to do,” he said. “I don’t want to be in the business of shutting that down.”

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Roll Over Johann Gutenberg…

Ray Gustini at The Atlantic with a round-up. Gustini:

Amazon announced Monday that, over the past three months, Kindle book sales outnumbered those of hardcover books for the first time in the company’s history. The announcement comes less than a month after the company slashed the price of its flagship e-book reader from $259 to $189 amidst growing competition from Apple’s iPad. So far, the move seems to have paid off–Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Kindle sales have tripled since the price cut.

Charlie Sorrel at Wired:

As reported by my silver-tongued editor Dylan Tweney over on Epicenter [ED: flattery will get you nowhere], this has accelerated in the last month, with Amazon shifting 180 Kindle copies for every 100 hardbacks, and this is due to the price drop which saw the Kindle go from an expensive $260 to an affordable $190. Breaking the magic $200 mark has caused Kindle sales to rocket. Bezos again: “The growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189.”

While the “growth rate of unit sales” is far too cryptic a metric to go by (note that the actual sales have not tripled) it shows that people are ready for e-books and e-readers, if they are priced right. It also shows that they completely disregard the big advantage of the paper book: buy it and it is yours. Whereas a Kindle book is pretty much still the property of Amazon, and can be deleted from afar whenever it likes, a paper book can be lent, resold and used to prop up a wobbly table.

The same limitations never held up the iTunes MP3 store, however. And the fact that you can read your Kindle books on almost any platform certainly helps to hide these problems. One thing is certain: with the number of e-book-capable screens we carry around today, it won’t be long before the paperbacks also fall into a minority market.

MG Sielger at TechCrunch:

Amazon also says that it sold three times as many Kindle books in the first half of 2010 as it did in the first half of 2009. The store now has over 630,000 books available for the Kindle. And over 510,000 of those are $9.99 or less — one clear advantage over Apple’s iBookstore, which is more expensive. Plus, Amazon has access to over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books for the device.

Also interesting is that there have been five authors now that have sold over 500,000 Kindle version of their books: Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts.

Earlier this month, Amazon also announced that an updated version its larger DX model with a better screen and a black frame.

All that said, Amazon is going to have a tough battle competing in hardware with the likes of Apple going forward. The Kindle, while great for reading, still offers only a fraction of what the iPad can do (and even Amazon highlights this). And I suspect another Kindle price cut down to $99 may be coming sometime in the next year. If Apple stays at $499 for the iPad, that should be enough to differentiate itself for a while. Amazon is also smart to offer its Kindle software on devices like the iPad, iPhone, and Android phones. This ensure that Amazon’s future in the book business will remain intact whether or not they’re the ones in charge of the hardware.

Also, why is Amazon issuing press releases about these numbers? They’ve famously shied away from saying much about the Kindle sales in the past. Of course, they weren’t the subject of a weekly “iPad is killing Kindle” story in the past.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist

Jared Newman at Technologizer:

I hope book publishers are encouraged, not frightened, by the news. They should be converting books into electronic form faster than ever to capitalize on the e-reader craze. But they might also liken e-books to paperbacks — both are less profitable than hardcovers — by delaying the digital versions to drum up hardcover sales.

Delaying the digital version of books is a bad move because there’s nothing comparable to hardcovers available in digital form. If publishers want to charge more for new releases — and they can with the agency model, which allows several major publishers to set their own e-book prices — that’s fine. But as Amazon’s latest numbers show, Kindle owners are determined to build their e-book libraries, and publishers should do everything they can not to hold those readers back.

Megan McArdle:

I now have an iPad and a Kindle, and while I think the Kindle reader for iPad is terrific, the device itself is too fragile for many uses, and the shinyness of the screen is a serious problem, because I can’t easily use it outside, or even in front of a big window.  I wouldn’t want to have just one or the other.

And ultimately, I’m not sure how much Amazon cares how much profit it makes on the Kindle–the machine is a way to sell more content, not a profit center on its own.  So far, Apple is trying to pull all of its profit out of the device, not the content stream, but I wonder if that will last.  The more powerful Apple gets, the more disenchanted the hard-core tech fans become.  Meanwhile, they’re getting stronger and stronger competition from devices like the Droid, which may push their margins down the way they pummeled the margins on the Kindle.

If Apple needs to pull more revenue out of its content stream, it will be interesting to watch.  They haven’t positioned themselves as the low-cost or the high-performance provider in that space; everyone I’ve talked to with an iPad reads their books on the Kindle reader, not iBooks.

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That Missing Ounce Of Prevention

Chris Rovzar at New York Magazine:

The Times takes an exhaustive look this week at the so-called “blowout preventers,” complex devices that wrap oil pipes deep underwater, near where they emerge from the earth, and are designed to shut off leaks in the event of a catastrophe. Specifically, the paper looked at the effectiveness of “blind shears,” contraptions that cut through pipes in times of emergency and seal them off. The shears have to create thousands of pounds of pressure to get through the tough metals of the pipes, and have to create a perfect seal. The devices are incredibly complex and contain many parts that can easily fail and render the enter machine ineffective. It’s not that the oil companies and the government don’t know about these risks — the devices have been tested many times over the past ten years — the problem is that the known problems weren’t compensated for, and in the case of the Deepwater Horizon well currently gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, a commonly installed backup blind shear wasn’t even built.

These blind shears are “remarkably vulnerable,” says the Times, and at 5,000 feet underwater, incredibly complicated to fix. As the oil spill worsened, before the Deepwater rig exploded, engineers frantically tried to engage, and then fix, their own failed shear. There would have been a second shear had the Minerals Management Service acted on one of their own studies, which revealed that two of the devices vastly increased the likelihood of avoiding a major spill. Studies in 2002 and 2004 revealed the following:

When the team examined the performance of blind shear rams in blowout preventers on 14 new rigs, it found that seven had never been checked to see if their shear rams would work in deep water. Of the remaining seven, only three “were found able to shear pipe at their maximum rated water depths.”
The Times study is full of a lot of very obscure facts and technology, and while it casts some blame on the “Obama administration,” it’s impossible to imagine that the president himself, or even anyone in the White House, knew anything about these subjects before April 20. Not that this matters when, as the evidence increasingly suggests, the government has systematically failed to protect us and the environment from exactly the disaster that unfolded so quickly this spring.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig had a man-made cause. We have an eyewitness survivor of the blast now willing to say that the blowout preventer was leaking for weeks before the explosion, and BP and Transocean failed to repair the valve in response, merely shutting it off instead. If they actually repaired it, that would shut down production. The last line of defense, the “blind shear ram,” designed to slice the pipe and seal the well in the event of a disaster, malfunctioned, and BP never had to show proof that the technique would actually work. In fact, the Deepwater Horizon, unlike every new BP well, had only one blind shear ram; two are now standard.

A legitimate Minerals Management Service could have known about the leaking blowout preventer before the blast. It could have acted on the inherent problems with the blind shear ram and the oil industry’s failsafe measures in general (blowout preventers have a 45% failure rate, according to a confidential Transocean report). But we didn’t have a legitimate MMS to deal with this disaster. We have 62 regulators dealing with over 4,000 offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

According to a memo released by Congressman Ed Markey, BP put a top level estimate on the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf at around 100,000 barrels a day. That’s significantly higher than even the current U.S. Government guess of around 60,000 barrels/day.

A rep for BP tried to downplay the numbers in the document by saying that this was a worst-case scenario estimate, which would apply only if the blowout preventer was completely removed: “Since there are no plans to remove the blowout preventer, the number is irrelevant.”

The rep maintains that, regardless of the amount of crude being pumped into the Gulf waters, the company’s position has always been that it “would deal with whatever volume of oil was being spilled.”

Speaking of the blowout preventer, a worker on the Deepwater Horizon, the offshore oil rig whose collapse killed 11 and kicked off the worst spill in U.S. history, says that he and his employers attempted to notify BP of problems with the blowout preventer weeks before the April 20 disaster.

The blowout preventer has two control pods that work to operate the device that should have stopped the massive amount of leakage into the Gulf. But, speaking to the BBC over the weekend, the worker says that BP ignored warnings from those aboard the rig.

“We saw a leak on the pod, so by seeing the leak we informed the company men,” he recalled. “They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don’t have to stop production.”

Marian Wang at ProPublica:

Regulatory reliance on industry, recruitment troubles, and lax enforcement have long plagued the Minerals Management Service, but according to congressional testimony given by the Interior Department’s inspector general, Mary Kendall, the agency’s problems are bigger than that [1]. [PDF]

“The greatest challenge in reorganizing and reforming MMS lies with the culture—both within MMS and within industry,” Kendall told the House Natural Resources Committee in little-noticed comments last Thursday.

Regulations are lacking and are “heavily reliant on industry to document and accurately report on operations, production and royalties,” Kendall said.

A recent example of that? BP’s letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in which the company said that it was “not aware of any MMS practice [2]” [PDF] to demand compliance with a law requiring oil companies to provide proof that blowout preventers’ shear rams could function effectively. (Shear rams are used to stop a blowout by closing off a pipe by cutting through it. But as a great investigation in this morning’s New York Times shows, not only did the shear rams fail on the Deepwater Horizon, but they’ve frequently failed in other blowouts too [3]. The Times cites an industry study showing that in the case of deep-water wells, the shear rams failed nearly half the time. What’s more, as the Times notes, MMS failed too: The agency did not require testing on the shear ram or other key safety equipment.)

The training programs for MMS inspectors are “considerably out of date,” and “have not kept pace with the technological advancements occurring within the industry,” Kendall said.

In the Gulf of Mexico region, there may not be enough inspectors to begin with. According to Kendall, MMS has about 60 inspectors to cover 4,000 facilities, while the Pacific Coast has 10 for 23 facilities. (It’s worth mentioning too, that the frequency of inspections of key safety equipment such as blowout preventers was halved more than a decade ago [4].)

Edward Tenner at The Atlantic:

Remember the Ixtoc I well blowout of 1979, that released about 3.3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over more than ten months? Not many North Americans do — because they were less environmentally conscious, because it occurred in Mexican rather than U.S. waters, because Iran’s Islamic revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan filled the airwaves and the headlines, or even because many of today’s adults were too young to notice, or even unborn.

And that’s one of the big problems behind the BP oil spill. In 1977 the University College London civil engineers Paul Sibley and Alistair Walker published a paper suggesting that major bridge collapses occurred at approximately 30-year intervals as new designs succeeded old as a result of the failure’s lessons, new generations of designers became increasingly confident in the safety record of their innovations, until they finally pushed them over a tipping point, beginning a new cycle. The civil engineering professor and historian of technology Henry Petroski has developed this idea, which last came to the fore in the Minneapolis bridge collapse of 2007, as discussed here and here. My graduate teacher William H. McNeill coined a mordant phrase for such recurrence of disasters partially as a result of confidence in reforms, the Law of the Conservation of Catastrophe.

Bradford Plumer at The New Republic:

“The last time you saw a spill of this magnitude in the Gulf, it was off the coast of Mexico in 1979. If something doesn’t happen since 1979, you begin to take your eye off of that thing.” That was what a senior administration official recently told a McClatchy reporter, in regards to the Gulf gusher. As it turns out, this is a pattern with engineering accidents, be they bridge collapses or oil-platform blowouts. Disaster strikes, a flurry of safety improvements follow, but then engineers get over-confident in their new innovations, and eventually disaster strikes again.

[…]

As long as we stay addicted to crude, it’s hard to see us escaping this cycle—especially since we’re using up all the “easy” oil, and companies need to keep foraging deeper and deeper into the ocean, continually pushing the boundaries of safety technology.

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Filed under Energy, Environment

Who Knew That An Ogre Was So Dangerous?

Jennifer Taggart at The Smart Mama:

You pull in to the drive through at McDonald’s and you place your order. And then you ask for some cadmium on the side.

What? You don’t want cadmium when you go to McDonald’s? Well, then don’t order the French fries (just so you know, fries generally have 0.06 parts per million or “ppm” cadmium). (For reference and before you panic, low levels of cadmium are found in many items we eat. But the most common source of cadmium exposure for Americans is cigarette smoke.)

And don’t buy the new promotional Shrek Forever After glasses at McDonald’s, because, well, the painted decorations have cadmium.

Yep, that’s right. Cadmium.

Not what you wanted or expected, is it?

But it is true. And today the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall of those promotional Shrek Forever After glasses. 12 million of those glasses.

I was one of the people to submit the information to the CPSC. I used my Thermo Fisher Scientific Niton XRF analyzer to test all of the current promotional Shrek Forever After glasses – Donkey, Shrek, Fiona and Puss in Boots. And I found cadmium. The cadmium levels varied with the paint color, which made sense. Historically, cadmium has been used in paint to get yellow to deep red hues.

In the Fiona glass, I detected 1,049 ppm cadmium in the baby’s face. I detected no cadmium in Fiona’s dress (at the sleeve) but did find 10,900 ppm chromium.

In Puss in Boots, I detected cadmium at 1,378 ppm in the red pillow on which Puss rests, 1,048 ppm cadmium in the orange part of Puss, and 1,575 ppm cadmium in the yellow lion on which the Gingerbread Man sits. The Puss figure on the back (in the orange) was 1,707 ppm cadmium and 3,721 ppm chromium.

I detected 1,020 ppm in the green used on the Shrek glass. The yellow on that glass (at the Fiona Wanted sign) was 1,946  ppm cadmium.

Now, since the paint on the glasses is a thin film, it is likely that the cadmium levels are actually higher in the paint because the analyzer penetrates the glass, and the glass doesn’t have any cadmium. And, the XRF analyzer detects total and not soluble levels, which, as we know from the Zhu Zhu pets fiasco, can be a big difference.

The real question is – does the cadmium matter? Well, cadmium is considered more toxic than lead and exposure is linked to a number of health problems. Cadmium is a carcinogen. Ingestion of low levels of cadmium can lead to kidney damage and fragile bones. The CPSC’s recall announcement states that “[c]onsumers should stop using recalled products immediately.”

But can you get exposed from cadmium in the painted decorations on the outside of these glasses? The painted decorations are unlikely to leach into liquids contained in the glasses – the decorations are on the outside. So you might not think it matters. The decorations are also below what is known as the “lip and rim area” – or the area where you put your mouth to drink out of the glass – so you are not likely to actually put the painted decorations in your mouth.

However, you can get wear and transfer from the decorations to your hands. While dermal absorption of cadmium is very low, the exposure occurs as cadmium is transferred to your hands and then your mouth or your food. Think about it – drink out of the glass, eat a french fry or your chicken nuggets. Are you going to wash your hands in between? Nope.

Also, washing the glasses can result in contamination of other dishes. In an automatic dishwasher, the heat and intensity of the water hitting the glasses can cause the decorations to deteriorate. Unfortunately, the cadmium can contaminate other dinnerware placed in the dishwasher – although the rinse cycle may remove all or some of it.

Cynthia Dermody at The Stir:

Yes, cadmium is bad news. It’s the 7th worst material on the CDC’s List of Most Hazardous Substances in the Environment, and kids tend to suffer worse effects. But adults are exposed to cadmium, too, every day. And not just from toys.

Where we get it from:

  • Cigarettes (it’s in smoke, and it’s a known carcinogen, which means it causes cancer);
  • Industrial settings with contaminated air;
  • Drinking polluted water;
  • From foods, especially shellfish and kidney and liver meats.

How can it hurt us:

Low levels have not been shown to causes any major health problems, which is a good thing, because we all probably have some in us. But higher levels from direct exposure, especially over time, can lead to dire consequences:

  • Breathing high levels of cadmium can severely damage the lungs;
  • Eating food or drinking water with very high levels severely irritates the stomach, leading to vomiting and diarrhea;
  • Long-term exposure to lower levels of cadmium in air, food, or water leads to a buildup of cadmium in the kidneys and possible kidney disease;
  • Other long-term effects are lung damage and fragile bones.

While the government has put limits on cadmium in drinking water and in the workplace, there are currently no restrictions on cadmium in jewelry and certain other consumer products.

Should you be afraid? Not really. Just don’t work for an OSHA violator, smoke, eat kidney pie more than once a week, or drink unregulated lake water from a Shrek glass and you’ll probably be fine.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

The total number of recalled glasses is somewhere in the 12 million range. The CPSC advises that if you are the owner of any of these glasses to discontinue use immediately.

Though no incidents have been reported, long-term exposure to the cadmium present in the printed designs on these glasses could have adverse health effects on the users.

There are four different designs available for the 16-ounce glasses, each featuring a different character from the film — Shrek, Fiona, Puss n Boots and Donkey. All four designs are included in the recall.

Go to McDonalds.com/glasses for additional instructions on how to obtain a full refund.

If you feel the need to speak to someone on the phone, you can call McDonald’s toll-free at (800) 244-6227 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

Peter Chubb at Products Review:

This got us thinking as to what other products contain this chemical? We thought we would do a little search and come up with a list for you. There were reports on May 11 that Claire’s had to issue a recall on 19,000 ‘Best Friends’ kids jewelry as it contained high levels of toxic cadmium. More details on this can be found at the Thaindian News

Wal-mart had to pull Miley Cyrus children’s jewelry of its shelves as it too contained high levels of heavy metal cadmium. More information can be found on USA Today

mistermix:

McDonald’s recall of 12 million Shrek glasses containing cadmium was spurred, in part, by an anonymous tip from blogger/author Jennifer Taggert who used a handheld analyzer to zap the glass and read its heavy metal content. Here’s her take on the danger in the glassware.

What’s interesting and amazing about this story is that this device, an x-ray flourescence analyzer, is just a little bigger than a video game controller and works almost instantly. There’s no reason why the responsible government agency can’t just hire a couple of people to use this tricorder to test samples of every shitty little tchotchke that a fast food restaurant hands out.

Perhaps I was the only person who imagined that testing toys for heavy metal levels was a time-consuming and expensive process. The fact that it’s so damn easy just emphasizes the slight importance placed on children’s health versus the all-important free market.

David Knowles at Politics Daily:

This news sent Twitter users into punchline overdrive on Friday. Here are some of the best results.

“McDonald’s is recalling Shrek glasses,” tweeted gaucheboy. “Which means they contain something more poisonous than the food.

“McDonald’s has recalled Shrek glasses because they are ‘toxic,’ now all we need to do is convice DreamWorks that Shrek 4 is toxic, too.” wrote Kim_Kobayashi.

“BP will be putting those McD’s Cadmium-tainted Shrek glasses to good uses, scooping up oil on surface of ocean,” wrote dianagram.

The satirical news magazine The Onion, meanwhile, went for a more deadpan approach, tweeting, “McDonald’s recalls 12 million Shrek drinking glasses after realizing that they’re cheap, toxic pieces of crap.”

Neil Miller at Film School Rejects:

The question becomes: how will this effect the film’s performance? Aside from the perception that the movie is trying to kill your family, the situation does raise public awareness of the film.

Alright fine, that’s all nonsense. This situation has nothing to do with the movie itself. In fact, your kids may have more risk of damage from actually seeing the intensely subpar flick than from the cadmium, which is said to cause kidney, lung, intestinal and bone damage. Seeing Shrek Forever After could cause perceptive film quality syndrome, and that’s much worse.

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Filed under Movies, Public Health

@GettysburgAddress Getting Coffee #libraryofcongress #alltweets #ff #tcot

Matt Raymond at Library of Congress Blog:

Have you ever sent out a “tweet” on the popular Twitter social media service? Congratulations: Your 140 characters or less will now be housed in the Library of Congress.

That’s right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

We thought it fitting to give the initial heads-up to the Twitter community itself via our own feed @librarycongress. (By the way, out of sheer coincidence, the announcement comes on the same day our own number of feed-followers has surpassed 50,000. I love serendipity!)

We will also be putting out a press release later with even more details and quotes. Expect to see an emphasis on the scholarly and research implications of the acquisition. I’m no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data. And I’m certain we’ll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive.

Jennifer Van Grove at Mashable:

Twitter further explains the news in its own announcement. Biz Stone writes that after a six-month delay, “Tweets will be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation.”

The news is quite significant and reinforces the importance of the information we share in 140 characters or less. In many ways history can be relived through tweets, and now the Library of Congress can ensure that not a single character is lost in the sea of real-time information.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

Remember that Tweet you wrote about Tiger Woods that seemed hilarious at the time? Or that night you shared your thoughts on your cousin Bob’s lack of personal hygiene? Good news — all of the world’s most trivial 140-character-or-less Tweets will soon be housed forever in the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress now has its bookish little hands on every public Tweet ever Tweeted in the 4-year history of Twitterdom.

Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway:

Of course, it also includes two-plus years worth of my standing morning tweet, which usually is something like “Awake. Need coffee,” along with late night tweets that I’m sure would rather be forgotten by the people who sent them. Now, they’re preserved for posterity.

When I first heard this announcement, I was more than a little, well, surprised. What possible use could the Library of Congress have for the often inane 140 character statements of 105 million people ?

John Dupuis at Science Blogs:

Needless to say, this is a pretty incredible announcement. It’s great that a major public institution can step forward and do the kind of digital preservation job that only that kind of institution would be capable of.

It would be really great if their next step could be a similar archiving project for, say, Blogger or WordPress blogs. Or perhaps other big national libraries around the world could each pick a site and dedicate themselves to preserving their content for future generations.

Heidi Moore at The Big Money:

The problem: Who says my tweets belong to Google or the Library of Congress? They didn’t even buy me dinner to discuss this. And they won’t buy you dinner, either, even though they are annexing the work that you did with absolutely no logical or plausible explanation of why they should own it.

Twitter’s entire appeal—and how it was sold to its users—was this: short, ephemeral 140-character bursts that were largely completely unsearchable. Twitter’s own search function doesn’t go back more than two weeks, and mostly it doesn’t work properly. Thus, while many tweets were substantive links and discussions of major issues from stock trading (through the Stock Twits network) to agriculture, many more were typo-laden, banal observations about what to eat for lunch. (I, like most smart Twitter users, don’t follow those people. But they’re there.)

[…]

First, let’s not pretend that the Library of Congress cataloging and saving every tweet ever—a capability not even open to private corporations—was a totally foreseeable consequence, outside of the Psychic Friends Network. If you ask anyone who wrote a tweet or anyone who knows what Twitter is, “hey, where do you think your tweets will be in five years?” it’s fair to say that “The Library of Congress” wouldn’t have been the first or the 15th answer. It’s also fair to say that “making money for Google in a vast database created quietly without public knowledge” would be high on the list either.

Twitter had a duty to let its users know—clearly, not in vague terms—that their ephemeral tweets would become permanent and searchable. That’s basic corporate misrepresentation.

Second, let’s think about why Google and the Library of Congress have a right to any tweets. Do you know why they would? I don’t. This isn’t about privacy. It’s about who the content belongs to. And just because something is on the Web, open to all, doesn’t mean it belongs to the government OR to Google. A wide variety of news sources are on Google, but that doesn’t mean that Google owns the right to catalog and republish them in the future, packaged in Google’s own way outside of their original users.

Phoebe Connelly at The American Prospect:

On Wednesday, the Library of Congress announced it had signed an agreement with the microblogging service Twitter to archive all public tweets sent since the service began in 2006. I spoke with Martha Anderson, the director of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program at the Library of Congress, about the project and how it fits into the library’s digital-archiving efforts. She warned me when we got started that her department had a cumbersome name.

[…]

So who came to you with the request, or the idea about Twitter?
Twitter approached us. They were looking around; they are a small business — which happens, quite often. Businesses cannot afford to sustain all the content they create over the life of the business. And Twitter hadn’t reached that point yet, but they were aware of the need to sustain the content someway.

So they began to look around for a strategy for conserving that content in the long term. They knew we had this program at the library, so they called us and asked if we were interested in the Twitter archive.

We do a collection for every Supreme Court nominee — Web sites and blogs and all sorts of things. Well, one of the things they asked us to collect were tweets for the nomination of Justice Sotomayor. So that was the first indication we had that our selection officials were interested in Twitter.

Correct me if I have this wrong, but in the past, you’ve done your Web archiving on a subject basis, and this is the first time you’re grabbing an entire type of content off the Web?
Exactly. And that’s the significance of this. Yesterday [Wednesday, when the agreement was announced], one of my staff came in to tell me that people were saying this was a change from static to streaming. This is first time [on the web] we’re looking at a whole corpus of material from a source.

And I think personally, this is me, don’t quote me as saying this from the library, as librarians we need to think more about our relationships to content creators, content-generating activities, in a way we used to think about things with publishers — we would get a relationship to a publisher through copyright, or that sort of thing. Now, the information base is different, and we really need to work on those kinds of relationships.

Is there anything analogous in Library of Congress history?
Well, the library is accustomed, with analog materials, to collecting everything from a creator — we have in our prints and photograph division all the output from the Department of Interior’s historic American buildings survey. It’s a huge record of American architecture.

A lot of time we will get all the negatives and works of a photographer. So we’re used to a mass of things, rather than a selection in the analogue world. This is our first foray into doing this in the digital world.

When do you start?
The agreement has been signed, but we still have a lot of technical details to work out — how we’ll technically transfer it, and when. There’s a built in six-month window, so we don’t have the live Twitter archive at any given time. There is a window for people if they want to delete their tweets, things like that.

There’s a built-in lag? Yes, so once the transfer is complete, if a researcher comes here, we’ll let them know that it’s 2006 till six months prior. And there’ll be a rolling period of transfers after that.

Can individuals choose to opt their tweets out of it?
You know, I don’t know. I think that’s a question for Twitter. There’s several questions about that which they are still working out. We asked them to deal with the users; the library doesn’t want to mediate that.

What about user information? Have you any thoughts about whether you’re going to keep that or strip that out? Obviously, that gives a lot of context for a tweet.
It does. And I think that’s one of the big issues for us to understand in terms of privacy. And there’s a lot of work going on, especially over at [the National Institutes of Health] about how to anonymize data and still make it useful. We’re really big on partnering with people to learn what they’re learning, so I think that’s an area we’ll look into. In serving it, what can we do to make it useful to research but not identify personal information?

Is the plan to keep all tweets, forever?
Nothing is forever! I think this is a real learning opportunity. We’re embarking on this with the idea that what we receive, we will keep for the long term. That’s about the best we can say.

How much will it cost?
Well, it’s a gift; we didn’t pay for it. But it will be the cost of storing what is, right now, around 5 terabytes, and the staff effort of maybe one full-time person over the years.

UPDATE: Christopher Beam at Slate

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Soon, Steve Jobs Will Come Out With iArteries And We’ll Be Able To Eat This For Breakfast, Lunch And Dinner

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

Last August, we wrote about the “Double Down,” a mysteriously tempting (and potentialy lethal) new food item being tested by KFC. For those coming late to the story, it’s bacon and cheese sandwiched between two pieces of fried chicken. And now, many months later, I’ll finally be able to get my hands on one.

KFC announced the decision to go live with the Double Down yesterday, but we weren’t sure they weren’t playing a April Fools gag. But no, they truly are going nationwide with the delicacy on April 12.

The KFC Countdown Clock

Allah Pundit:

They tested it last year in Nebraska and Rhode Island, just on the exceedingly remote chance that it wouldn’t be received well. As it is, they’re lucky other states didn’t see black markets spring up (content warning). Now that we’ve reached this point, with breadless lard bombs freely available to American adults, there’s really only one frontier left to cross. And that day is coming soon too, my friends.

Exit question: Is this the final, irrefutable reason not to buy an iPad? (Exit answer: Not if you’re already a beta male.)

Robert Quigley at Geekosystem:

Today, KFC announced that the Double Down Sandwich — which consists of bacon and cheese sandwiched between two pieces of fried chicken — is going to be available nationwide starting on April 12th. Below, our thoughts on what the KFC Double Down Sandwich means to us — and why it infantilizes the sandwich as we know it. Read this article for further context.

Danny O’Brien does a very good job of explaining why I’m completely uninterested in buying a KFC Double Down Sandwich — it really feels like the second coming of the Famous Bowl “revolution” in which “nutrition” people proclaimed that they were going to remake food by producing expensive (to make and to buy) products.

The model of interaction with the KFC Double Down Sandwich is to be a “consumer,” what William Gibson memorably described as “something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It’s covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth… no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote.”

I think that the press has been all over the Double Down Sandwich because KFC puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who’ll promise them it’s OK to eat a sandwich which consists of bacon and cheese sandwiched between two pieces of fried chicken.

Sandwiches come and sandwiches go. The KFC Double Down Sandwich you buy today will be human waste in a day or two. But buying a KFC Double Down Sandwich for your kids isn’t a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it’s a way of telling your offspring that it’s OK to eat a sandwich which consists of bacon and cheese sandwiched between two pieces of fried chicken.

With apologies to Cory Doctorow, who we kid and who made us think, and inspiration from TechCrunch.

Rebecca Marx at The Village Voice:

Hey, America! Why pay one angel’s hair of attention to what Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver, and those killjoys at the American Heart Association are telling you when KFC keeps giving us moist, crunchy ways to kill ourselves, one bite at a time? There are now a little more than nine days left until the world’s most loyal consumer of factory-farmed chickens rolls out its already fabled new Double-Down Sandwich, which, by encasing bacon, cheese, and “Colonel’s sauce” between two slabs of deep-fried poultry, promises to double up your daily fat, calorie, and sodium consumption. KFC’s site helpfully posted both a countdown clock and nutritional content on its website, which is a little like being given the chance to see exactly when and how you’ll die. With any luck, the primary ingredient in the Colonel’s sauce is Lipitor.

John Cole:

This is excellent news for… cardiologists.

UPDATE: Emily Bryson York at AdAge

UPDATE #2: Ezra Klein

Don Suber

UPDATE #3: James Joyner

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