12.13.11: Kraft Cheese Says Go To Church


My wife can’t figure out why I don’t want to write a Christmas letter, and I say the same thing I say every year: it is not a form in which I excel. Some people do wonderfully imaginative things with their annual letter - poetry, parody, gentle whimsy, everything in pig latin - but mine are just dull and tentative. “Natalie is in 6th grade and loving it! She’s been student of the month in two classes already.” Kill me. If I could say “Natalie is in 6th grade, and so far it’s going smoothly. She starts lots of fires in the house. Piano continues to be a joy and a pleasure, and this year we hope she will learn to accompany herself by using her unnervingly prehensile feet.” You know. Anything but the usual. But no.

Here’s something you may or may not find remarkable, or alarming, or a sign of a better time, or a mark of culture whose assumptions seemed rather narrow. It came at the end of an old radio show from 1949, and it is absolutely impossible to imagine a major sponsor and a major radio show doing anything like this today. The star of the radio show gives a little seasonal message after the commercial for luscious, rich, delicious Velveeta has concluded. (By the way: Velveeta was quite the innovation when it was introduced. Now it’s a synonym for boring bland cheese-goop, possibly made of vinyl, but a hundred years ago, the idea of a cheese that stayed edible in a box after God-knows-how-long was a miracle.) Anyway. Here you go. It’s pre-Thanksgiving, but fits well now. During, you know, The Season.

I don’t believe it put many keisters in the pews, nor do I believe that millions felt called to renew their spiritual journey based on the exhortations of a cheese monger, but still: this was perfectly acceptable civic language. Didn’t raise an eyebrow. Part of the public vocabulary.

Bulbs yesterday, bulbs today:

Uncle Sam and Santa Claus shaking hands in partnership. Max Eckardt had extra reason to include a patriotic motif: he was a German immigrant who made his pile selling imported ornaments under two lines, Shiny Brite and Max Echardt & Sons. (I’m paraphrasing from scripophily’s account.) He switched to American producers in the late 30s, sensing perhaps there might be supply disruptions ahead. After the war his firm became the world’s biggest ornament company. Competition and the rise of plastic ornaments led to the company’s demise in 1962 - which seems rather soon, if you ask me.


Update on that Klindle Fire thing.


I’m trying to read a pdf on my Kindle Fire. Or rather I’m trying to get the pdf on the Fire. If I put it in my Amazon Cloud Locker Storage Place, under “documents,” it doesn’t show up, so apparently there’s no integration there. The homepage for the documents section says I can email it to myself, and an address is supplied. I’ve sent the document twice, and it doesn’t show up. I could upload it directly by hooking up the Fire to the computer with a USB cord - everyone has one of those, right? Except that the Fire uses a miniature plug, and while I thought I had every flavor of USB cord ever produced, I don’t have this one, and at this point in life the last thing I want to buy is another USB cord, for whatever reason. I don't care if it plugs my brain into the Matrix. Use a standard plug or get out.

Spent some time trying to set up mail - perhaps I have to enable mail on the Fire to get the pdf. Well, it didn’t work - and now the big honking MAIL icon is foremost in the carousel on the home page, and will be until I look at other things and drive it deeper into the Recent Items lineup. There’s no immediately obvious way to remove anything from the carousel. Watch a few seconds of a TV show, just to test what the streaming video looks like? Prepare to live with an icon for that show on your shelf FOR ETERNITY.

Hey, maybe if I move it to “Favorites.” That’s the homepage distinction: the carousel on top is everything you have in the Amazon Cloud, plus the things apps you’ve opened, plus web pages. Then there are “Favorites,” things you want to consult on a regular basis. Because they’re the things you want, they’re not the first thing you see, or the most prominent. Make sense? That’s because someone just went gaga when they saw the carousel, and flicked back and forth looking at all the covers, thinking, man, people are going to love this. Wheeee!

Now the New York Times reports there’s an update coming that will allow you to edit the carousel, because that’s what everyone wants. I mean everyone. And they couldn’t see that coming.

But that’s one opinion. Yours may vary. I’m rooting for them to figure this out, because I want to have lots of reasonably affordable color e-readers to sell content on. That’s the future. Get here already! C’mon.

On the other hand: at dinner we got an automated call from the school, informing us that my child was not present for Period (pause) ZERO. I wanted to tell the robot that I would expect nothing less, since I don’t send my daughter to school to occupy a nullity, but it was a robot. I was instructed to call tomorrow to address the issue.

Picked up the phone, pushed the button, told it to remind me to call the school at 9 AM; it thought for a second, and told me it had been added to my calendar.

The great thing about being my age, and seeing these things only as sci-fi fantasies, then watching them approach, then integrating them into your life: it never stops being cool.

Today: Comic Sins. See you around!


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