Two Updates: Vault In Different Sizes and More On The LaCrosse Stuff

Two Updates Today:

  1. Vault found in different sizes at various stores.I found cans at a nearby Meijers and some litre bottles at a Speedway gas station. So at least there’s some different sizes out there; even if it’s not getting the blanket coverage needed for a possible big explosion.

    But like I’ve said before, the sodapop market is conservative. The problem here is that Coke is still making Mello Yello; the stores would rather market a slow-selling known item (however much it may suck) than try out an unknown that may jump off the shelves — or stay stuck, unable to move either into bascarts or back to the company.

  2. Looks like our LaCrosse “victim” had done the same thing before (charged someone with rape), when she was a YOUNG teenager.While it shouldn’t have any impression on the case, I can’t just push it aside, as we’re talking about the same sort of thing happening again: Three men doing nasty things to her against her will. After all, you’d think she’d have learned how to steer from similar problems from the earlier situation.

    Besides, I’m curious as to whether they had tested the black LaCrosse player. Obviously the woman cried rape, she pegged three northeastern LaCrosse players in a Deep Southern Town (hence my thought that it was the locals who did it then forced her to blame the players — the south may be hospitable, but northerners are outsiders by definition, yankees more so) and none of the LaCrosse Player’s specimens matched. While the police may not have been able to test the black player (no probably cause), I am curious whether there’d be any match there.

That’s it for this moment.


This Is Your University, Desperate for Bodies and The Money They Bring In

Brand U
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Welcome to the new economics of Universities. Schools, desperate for warm bodies to enter their hallways, are now trying to market themselves as something other than what they’re supposed to be: Places where people learn job skills that will take them further and higher than they would have gone straight from High School.

Maybe we have too many schools around. Maybe we’ve overestimated the importance of learning from “professors” and forgotten about the idea of learning from ourselves. Maybe we’re too fixated on that sheet of paper saying the person named upon it has jumped through enough hoops to deserve a look from employers.

Or maybe we’ve gutted our schools so much they feel a need to get bodies in and never mind the actual education.

Remember, the schools have been losing federal and state monies since the 1970s. You can tell this by seeing how many teachers now get Tenure, and what they have to do to get it. You can tell by how many people they pile into auditoriums for classes, and how many classes are now taught by Teaching Assistants. You can tell by all the new buildings for all the schools that bring in money from outside, while the other classes end up living in buildings slowly (and not-so-slowly) falling apart. You can tell when you hear that “UVA now gets only 6% of their money from the state”

I could tell looking at my Pell Grant from the years 1983-1990. Even though it increased from $600 to $766 per term, its coverage shrank down from 14 hours (and a decent weekend’s partying) to ten hours of class credit (with twelve credits needed to get that). Another way of putting it is that per-credit prices DOUBLED during that time.

And the price increases didn’t end when I got out of school. Indeed, you know people are getting desperate when the University Presidents put up a promise to “Keep Increases within the rate of inflation.” Thing is, the promises always included the proper increase in funding, and those never came.

Then there’s the prestige chase. New buildings constantly need to be built, complete with labs, offices (for the High-flying “professors” who need to hide from their students), lecture auditoriums (so the freshmen can be introduced to your classes as cheaply as possible) and other items to show the world you’re a big-time university. Throw in a few classrooms for the illusion of a college hall, and you’ve got yourself a modern-day (post-1960) college building.

And now they need to get as many people in their buildings, or they’ll lose money. And if you’re from out of state, then better (since they can charge more). Price increases keep getting passed on more and more, with students gladly filling in the rest with student loans.

How long will this de facto privatization of post-secondary education continue? Sadly, I expect it to continue to the point of universities and colleges closing down. Not the big names (which have built up endowments to protect themselves from the vagaries of public funding) nor smallish ideologically driven private schools (with their backing and what-not), but the mid-level and branch campuses will end up closing up.In short: Say goodbye, Northern Michigan. Say Goodbye, UofM-Dearborn.

Also, don’t be surprised if the schools figure a way of closing colleges that don’t make money but are presently being treated as sacred cows. As tenure fully dries up and corporate types continue to take over the colleges and universities, certain colleges will be seen as expendable and WILL be expended with when the time comes.

Fact is I doubt many Arts and Letters colleges in Universities will survive, simply because Arts and Letters are nowhere near as important as people think. Every high “Art” has a low art which has fully taken its place, and the main stories that we remember are forever being rewritten and retold. That the most extreme teachers are generally found in the Arts and Letters departments will make their dissolution that much easier, once the University Presidents get enough guts together to do what they want to do.

Gas vs Water: What’s Not Being Said

I don’t know about you, but I get sick and tired of hearing and reading “We complain about gas prices rising to $3.00 a gallon, yet pay a hundred bucks a gallon for a Starbucks coffee.” or X dollars per gallon of bottled water, or something else.

The fact is, your average person can decide to go without the coffee or drink water out of the tap. Ergo, we choose to spend the money on the coffee and water. While I agree we’d be better off if we brewed our own coffee and drank out of the water fountain, the fact is the water or coffee is our choice in this manner.

But try to go without gas for a long period of time. Chances are, you’ll find your car stalled on the road.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Most people don’t live in a place where Public Transit is a viable option. Bus service is crappy, and limited to the poorer areas of town. Trains, where they exist, usually go to and from downtown and, if you’re lucky, are able to go from there to another side of town; but there’s no sane way to loop around downtown. And if you want to go somewhere for the evening, better plan a quick trip if you’re using Public Transit as Mass Transit is usually done before the nightlife. And those places where there’s good public transit usually end up having a bare-boned system made to maximize their market during prosperous years (when those using it either had to or made a statement by choosing it), leaving a system unable to make a suitable change for times like this (when gas doubles over a year and the need becomes obvious).

So people develop a dependence on automobiles (for obvious reasons), and economic development spurs the dependency further. Space becomes automobile-based, shoving businesses back for roads and garages to the front of houses (seen the latest housing developments?). Gas stations become oasis for multiple forms of refreshment, incorporating fast food joints and convenience stores in their (vastly expanding) spaces as well as ample space to drive around the fueling points and up-front parking. The idea of Sidewalks is consigned to bicycle trails that take over old rail lines, cutting off possible avenues of transit expansion while giving the illusion of expanding parkland. Wal-Mart and their Kin (Lowe’s, Office Max and other similar stores, along with the ubiquitous Malls) become out downtowns, controlling how we deal with the world around us. Soccer Moms turn to Yukons and Hummers not so much as a driving statement but for the sheer comfort of being able to sit UP in an SUV instead of down in a Corolla or Probe (and not be subjected to a visual groping every so often by SUV driving men). And, since a lot of time is now spent in a car, you end up eating and drinking a lot in it.And, of course, when Gas Prices go up, you end up with a lot of people unable to cut back on their consumption without compromising their lives. Hence their complaints.But before you tear into them for their complaints, consider the above. And this: how many people were willing to sacrifice for “a more sustainable future?” very few, and usually they were viewed as fools by most of us who bought the cars and bought into the lifestyle implied. They sacrificed, and we got about a cent per gallon break, making it easier for us to buy the cappuccinos and bottled water to fill the cup-holders with. And since we’re talking about few enough people, they end up being packed away in Urban Enclaves where the rest of us can ignore them in our gas-devouring Heavens. Their sacrifice, nothing gained for us.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

And now, when the piper comes due, guess who gets looked at. That’s right, the SUV mom whining about paying more for the gas she has (and we have) been suckled on since the birth of our consumer culture in 1956 (the year the Interstate Highway System was passed, along with the funding).No, I’m not feeling sorry for the SUV Mom. But I’m not sitting on a high horse, either. After all, I’ve made a living off our gas-guzzling culture; usually at the lower realms of the pay scale. And I’ve seen how inadequate our mass transit systems have become. I’ve seen our hyper-low density developments of the past (and even lower density developments of the present) and wonder how we’ll ever adjust to Europe-level prices (double what ours are now). I’ve seen how our lifestyles have abandoned any concept of a town center, focusing instead on corporate-made points where our behaviors all revolve around shopping instead of friendship or talking.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

No, I’m not feeling sorry for the SUV Mom. But I’m not sitting on a high horse, either. After all, I’ve made a living off our gas-guzzling culture; usually at the lower realms of the pay scale. And I’ve seen how inadequate our mass transit systems have become. I’ve seen our hyper-low density developments of the past (and even lower density developments of the present) and wonder how we’ll ever adjust to Europe-level prices (double what ours are now). I’ve seen how our lifestyles have abandoned any concept of a town center, focusing instead on corporate-made points where our behaviors all revolve around shopping instead of friendship or talking.

This has been going on for sixty years. I’m not sure we can reverse it without a total, long-ranging and comprehensive collapse of our way of life.

Vault Still Not Fully In NW Indiana

Well, it’s been over two months since Vault first made it into Northwest Indiana, and so far I’ve only seen it in 20 ounce bottles at POS locations and convenience stores.

Problem is, I’ve seen Black Cherry Vanilla Coke out in cans, 20 ounce bottles and 2 liter bottles, and it came out about the same time. I’ve also seen Berry Vanilla Dr Pepper soda come out in cans, 20 ounce bottles and 2 liter bottles, and that’s about as boutique a flavor as you’ll ever see in that wide a selection. Fresca got a remake with four different flavors and a wide range of choices.

I have seen a couple of 1 liter bottles, but it’s always away from the NW Indiana area.

So what’s my problem? Simply put, if you’ve got something you believe in you don’t put something out in a limited selection; you put it out in as wide a mix of choices as you can, so that people can get what they want when they want it. You don’t put out one computer, you put out a group of four (or more) different types with different specs for different users. You don’t put out one car, you put out four cars, with three or four versions each and a number of choices.

But what choice does one have for Vault in NW Indiana? 20 oz, regular or diet. No other sizes.

Methinks that the Coca Cola Company felt it had to put something out to make it look like it’s competing against Mountain Dew, so they came up with this and did a half-hearted job in some markets. While NW Indiana may be a weak link, it’s still a sign of how much Coca-Cola supports its products.

And apparently they don’t think Vault will be that much of a force. After all, Mello Yello still comes in all formats (except 1 liter) in NW Indiana, and it’s a failed product with a history of image changes that makes New Coke look solid as cement.

I could be wrong…

In Time For An Earth Day Response: Wal-Mart Goes Green?

Wal-Mart has a change of heart?

Yes, I know about Wal-Mart, indeed I had posted a few things I disliked abut the megachain that owns the rural half of the United States. I have a respect for the company (a respect gained when I saw how they made parking easier for handicapped people, at the cost of a few of their own parking spaces), that doesn’t reduce my dislike for them one bit.

Now Wal-Mart’s considering their own “Go Green” movement.

Thing is, even if this company does a half-arsed job, what they will do will spread out over the whole of North America and the world. Remember, we’re talking the 800 pound Gorilla effect: Even if all Wal-Mart does is dictate standards for reduced packaging, make the suppliers take the costs of the efforts and grab up the glory for itself the effects on packaging will spread out throughout the stores and into the homes.

I just hope they go as far as the press releases claim they will. I want to see self-sufficient Wal-Mart stores made from technology that spreads to self-sufficient homes. I want to see innovative packaging that’s sold wherever, not just in Wal-Mart stores. I’d like to see transportation advances make their way from Wal-Mart throughout the whole system.

In short, I’d like to see a positive revolution from this company. Not just an expansion of choices to communities where jobs no longer exist, not just cheaper stuff, all imported from China; but some benefits that extend their reach even to places where Wal-Mart cannot even think of establishing itself — and worldwide, as well.

For once, I’d like to think that that wasn’t too much to ask.

Okay Now, Everybody Say “Duuuh”

Sexy Women Make Men Stupid

Something which everyone knows, if only in a vague way through personal experience or personal observation.

So why do a study on “stupid stuff like this?”

  1. Objective Knowledge. There’s stuff we know, and there’s stuff we both know and can back up. We’re more assertive and certain about knowledge we can back up.
  2. If it turns out what everyone knows is wrong, then it’s time to change what you know, or at least adjust it.

Two good enough reasons, in my opinion. The truths get confirmed, and falsehoods get identified. Overall, everyone’s knowledge is increased or firmed up; which is a good thing either way.

(although you got to admit, it’s more interesting when “Everything You Know Is Wrong!“)

Just Read "Everything Bad Is Good For You"

Everything Bad Is Good For You: The Book

The premise of this book is that the Video Games, Television and other media that we so much fear has actually increased various components of our intelligence. This was done because the media has had to become more complex to hold people’s interest, and those items that have developed in a way to be infinitely interesting and replayable/rewatchable are what’s being emulated by both high and low arts.

An example: What’s more interesting: All In The Family, or The Bachelor. AITF was the groundbreaking in that it dared to look at controversy, whereas Bachelor merely put twelve women and watched them catfight for a man acting like he had money (truly acting: he hadn’t earned more than 30K per year at any time of his life before then). According to the book, if you said All In The Family, you hadn’t watched The Bachelor, as The Bachelor led to talk about who was going to get picked, why a certain woman was (or wasn’t) picked, and how stupid the women were since the Bachelor was becoming obvious in his poorness. AITF merely fed you stuff, The Bachelor gave you stuff to think about. (The author calls this the Sleeper Curve, after the Woody Allen movie where Junk Food was considered more nutritious than “health food” due to scientific findings in the next two hundred years.)

Furthermore, while the various versions of Grand Theft Auto may glorify Violence and sociopathic behavior, it also causes players to think and explore, thereby getting their brains in gear. Whether they’ll turn out to be better rapists and carjackers is up for debate, but that their minds are being lit up is nothing to argue against.

It’s an interesting thesis, although it seems he talks more about mental fitness instead of actual intelligence. He does hit on the idea in his comments on book reading, but to truly figure out things, one needs a sizable bank of knowledge gathered. It’s not enough to be able to figure out everything from a simple set of instructions, you need to develop that knowledge over a period of time, preferably years if not decades. And while working out various games and TV shows may be good mental exercise, you may be missing out on the sheer knowledge and value judgements that real life offers (or learning to dismiss them as you find multiple setups in various worlds).

Still, it’s an interesting read, for the points he brings up. Especially about the rising intelligence of certain forms of media (TV, Video Games).

Duke Lacrosee: Walks and Talks Like a Duck, But It’s Not A Duck

Charges Finally Given In Duke Lacrosse Rape Case

I remember my original reaction, how this case in many ways signified how sports has ruined the university today. That was, of course, before the DNA tests showed that whatever sperm was inside her was from none of the Lacrosse players, and the prosecutor saying he’d prosecute someone anyway.

This has officially gone from story to circus.

Sad thing is that I had riffed on what I saw was a problem with Colleges in the US from the article, based on what looked like truth (College Players Gone Too Wild For Their Britches). Problem is, while my complaints about the College situation still stands, what has happened with this story has sullied my point. Any College apologist could say “They weren’t even guilty, and they were being nice,” and I couldn’t argue with that point.

A bad example doesn’t support a good point, no matter how much it sounds like everything you’ve heard before. That’s why I titled this posting “WALKS AND TALKS LIKE A DUCK, BUT IT’S NOT A DUCK.” replace the words “a duck” with “the truth” and you get the idea.

Anyway, I have a few guesses about what has and will happen:

  1. I believe the woman was raped. The rapists were local boys, sons of heavy-duty Duke Lacrosse Boosters, who were probably invited to the party and took advantage of the place. She, of course, thought they were Lacrosse players, so she acted “logically” and charged the team with rape.
  2. It will turn out that the prosecutor went ahead with the case because he felt he had to. There was proof of rape; some genetic material which wasn’t hers. He also knew whatever was out there would exonerate the Lacrosse players, and thus felt the case had to go to trial in order to get the players (and, by extension, the team) exonerated.
  3. The Lacrosse players will be judged “Not Guilty” in the trial that follows. Some sections of the society will make it a point not to exonerate the boys, and many who do exonerate the boys would have done so ANYWAY, whether they had done so or not.
  4. The real rapists will get away scot-free because of their local connections and the fact that the Lacrosse players were YANKEES and therefore Outsiders despite their sports affiliation. Duke Lacrosse will take the fall for local actions.

And remember, you read them here first (that’s if I’m right. If I’m wrong, remember: I called them guesses; although I believe them pretty accurate).

Is That Stuff Diluted, or Full Strength?

BasketBawful brings you…The Gatorade Conspiracy
BasketBawful brings you…The Gatorade Conspiracy, Part 2

So what did I do? I looked at the bottle and my penis.

And guess what: the bottle of Gatorade looked exactly like my penis. Even down to that slight shift in the top.

Actually, let me correct myself: It looks like a circumcised penis. I haven’t seen that many penises (being straight and not very athletic, after all) but I’m aware that what most men from the US have is not what they were born with. With most of us, doctors were allowed to cut off a small flap of skin that covered the head.

And you need the 32 ounce bottle for the best comparison. Other bottles sizes, while they’re similar, actually follow general “rules” which all bottles share. No, we’re talking about something specifically designed with repeat consumption by men and boys in mind. Something made to attract without being obvious. Something we’d like without making the obvious connection that would raise our hackles.

But…the similarity is obvious and there.

And when you consider that the bottle has a very dilute salt mixture in it…

Just saying.

Rush Limbaugh And The Birth of Participatory Radio

Watching a WTTW show on Eric and Cathy, it hit me just what the real change in Radio has been.

Think of it this way: In the seventies and eighties, would you have heard music on the radio, maybe some wild stuff on the morning shows, but little in audience response, and almost nothing in appearances from the musical stars. Think of it: Would Bad Company (never mind Led Zeppelin) have shown up at the Rock Station you listened to? Highly Unlikely, that was the level of separation between star musician and DJ. DJs communicated with their fans through requests and contests, but the fans rarely talked outside of that. WTRX had a talk-show in the evening (back when it was Adult Contemporary) in the seventies and early eighties, but that ended when the station went all Heavy-Metal in the late eighties.

That change started with Rush Limbaugh. Never mind that you had a conservative voice broadcasting nationwide in the middle of the day (after all, Sunday Mornings had Christian Church shows all over it); what made the show big was the fact that he took (well-screened) calls from a nationwide peanut gallery (aka Dittoheads). Thus, not only did you have a leading conservative voice on the radio talking about his beliefs, but you had thousands of conservative voices making cameos on that show, adding their assent, developing points, making distinctions and generally adding to the shared beliefs of the movement.

Participatory radio, in other words.

Sports radio would take that concept further, allowing for discussions that ranged from blindingly local (Junior High gymnastics sex scandals in the making) to national (Steroids and the Home Run Chase of 1998). Eventually, music radio (in part thanks to one of the few positive effects of Napster and P2P) started bringing in bands to play in the studio, hosting bands in intimate settings (complete with DJs working overtime) and even having working vacations where DJs mixed it up (pun not intended) with a group of fans who came for the privilege.

None of this was seen in 1985. Back then, you listened to radio either for news or for music, and that was it. Minnesota Public Radio had a variety show that was beginning to go national, but that was as much a throwback as anything else. Otherwise, chances to talk on the radio were small and limited, and no one saw the need for change, outside of a few AM stations noticing their audience growing smaller and older.

Now there’s a national dialog going on at various levels, over numerous subjects, over the airwaves. Plus the fans are actually closer to their stars than before, talking with them and spending real time in intimate settings. And guess what: these are the stations which are big, or getting big.

Things have changed.