I’m sure it’s just clumsy writing, but you’ve got to get something of a (cynical) laugh out of the opening paragraph to this USA Today editorial:

The powerful truck bomb that ripped through the United Nations’ headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing the top U.N. official in Iraq and at least 19 others, was the most brazen act of terrorism in the country since the U.S. invasion in March.

(via Atrios)

“Honor the Texas flag, I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.”

That’s the brand-spankin’ new Pledge of Allegiance to Texas, required to be said just after the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States. Classrooms are required to display the flag, which for one school district, becomes a \$50,000 expenditure.

\$50,000 for flags, for an entirely spurious pledge. It’s a good thing we’ve got such ridiculously overpaid teachers and overfunded schools, so that this school district and all the others wouldn’t have any better ways to spend that money.

(via Atrios, via Tom)

It looks suspiciously like Bush’s definition of ‘compassion’ is hanging out with minorities, as it’s something conspicuously absent in the rest of his photo album. As Lis pointed out first in Daily Kos’ comment thread, and then on her journal:

Looking at further photo albums on the site makes it more clear how anomalous the Compassion section is.

But the only non-whites in 15 Homeland Security images and 16 National Security are Powell and Rice, and I think there’s one African American park ranger off to the side in one photo of the 16 on the Environment.

In contrast, of 20 photos illustrating Compassion, 17 prominently show non-Caucasians; the other three are solo photos of Bush, but two of those are before the National Urban League and in front a map of Africa.

(via Kos, Len, and Atrios)

Activision, Inc., a leading developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment software products, today announced that it has filed a breach of contract suit against Viacom. …through its actions and inactions, Viacom has let the once proud Star Trek franchise stagnate and decay. Viacom has released only one “Star Trek” movie since entering into agreement with Activision and has recently informed Activision it has no current plans for further “Star Trek” films. Viacom also has allowed two “Star Trek” television series to go off the air and the remaining series suffers from weak ratings. Viacom also frustrated Activision’s efforts to coordinate the development and marketing of its games with Viacom’s development and marketing of its new movies and television series.

(via Lane)

My first response? It’s about damn time! Trek has been going steadily downhill for quite a while now — I’m less than impressed with Enterprise, I’m being told to forego purchasing Voyager, and there hasn’t been a truly good Trek movie since Star Trek VI (First Contact came the closest, but I’ve got some definite issues with it, too). Whether it’s the fault of Viacom, Paramount, or the people writing and controlling the franchise, the fact is that it’s nowhere near where it was — nor where it likely could be.

However, that said — this seems pretty frivolous. Is it really Viacom’s purported mismanagement of the Trek franchise that is causing problems for ActiVision and their Trek-themed games? Or is it that the games themselves aren’t all that good to begin with? I’m not a gamer myself, and have neither seen nor played a Star Trek themed computer game since NetTrek, so I’m not at all in a position to judge the games. I just question whether the downward slide of the Trek franchise is enough of a contributor to ActiVision’s lack of sales to support a breach of contract suit. I’m sure it was one factor, but that much of a deciding factor? I’m not sure.

Here’s an interesting little marketing technique: Counter-Googling, where companies ‘google’ their customers to offer them personalized services.

With consumers disclosing their most intimate secrets online (voluntarily!), Google has essentially created a ‘domestic database’, i.e. a world-wide database loaded with your customers’ details and profiles, with a depth of information your company’s database can only dream of.

So instead of consumers Googling you before they buy your services, you should Google THEM, and instantly get more personal information than you’d ever be able to capture with traditional 1:1 in an entire life-time. TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed this emerging trend COUNTER-GOOGLING, and the opportunities are tasty!

A real-life COUNTER-GOOGLING example? The Bel Air Hotel in LA already Googles first-time guests upon arrival, based on their reservation details (name and address), leading to personalized services like assigning guests a room with morning sun if Googling shows the guest enjoys jogging early in the day (source: http://blog.outer-court.com).

While some might see this as just another form of spam, I have to admit that I could see it being at least slightly more tolerable than what I’m getting now. Rather than filling my e-mail inbox with ads for generic viagra, penis enlargment pills, or dietary concerns, I’d be getting offers tailored more toward my particular interests and needs.

Now, I still hate spam, and unsolicited offers — even if they are tailored to me — are very likely to end up being dumped straight into my trash folder. However, if there were some form of ‘opt-in’ possibility, then I can see possible applications of this technique that might be workable.

…bloggers, savvy consumers by nature, will no doubt introduce a ‘no unsollicited sales’ seal, the moment they grow tired of COUNTER-GOOGLING, making it clear what’s off limits and what’s fair game. Smart bloggers could even, in a dedicated section of their page or site, list the goods and services they don’t mind getting personalized offers for!

At minimum, it’s an interesting idea, and I won’t be at all surprised to see it in practice before very long at all.

(via Evan)

Daily Kos is trying to come up with three good things Bush has done, and he’s having problems. I can’t come up with three — I can, however, come up with one. Here’s the text of comment I left over at the Go Fish:

Believe it or not, I do have one thing that I can completely seriously thank Bush and his administration for.

Thanks to his blundering incompetence, many people (myself included) are paying far more attention to politics than we used to. Bush’s otherwise disastrous presidency just may be the single strongest argument for people to actually wake up and pay attention to what’s going on in the world around them and to try to do something about it by getting involved than any ad campaign, voter registration drive, or anything else in years. More and more people want Bush out of the White House, and are realizing that for that to happen, they actually have to participate in this democracy of ours.

And for that, from the bottom of my heart, I thank President Bush.

But that’s all I can come up with.

Don’t forget, this Sunday is Howard Dean’s stop in Seattle!

Nipping at President Bush’s heels during his West Coast trip is former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who will drop into Portland and then Seattle on Sunday for a rally at Westlake Park.

In the midst of a four-day, 10-city trip he’s calling the “Sleepless Summer Tour,” Dean will attend a 5 p.m. fund-raiser at the Westin Hotel and a rally at Westlake Park from 6:30 to 8 p.m. before jetting off to Spokane on Monday morning.

[…]

As part of his campaign’s use of the Internet, Dean has solicited commitments from supporters to attend each of his rallies, and so far more than 2,250 people have signed up to attend the Seattle rally, Means said.

(via Mathew Gross)