Kinect: Trojan Horse for Marketing

xbox spy The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Microsoft’s new Kinect video game extender is a means for increasing the spying capacities of corporate marketers:

Dennis Durkin, who serves as chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Microsoft’s Xbox video game business, told investors Thursday that Kinect – which allows users to play video games without so much as a joystick – presents business opportunities for targeted game marketing and advertising.

Kinect is a camera peripheral that plugs into the Xbox 360 console and allows players to control games with only body movements. The system uses facial recognition technology to sign in players and match them with their avatars and profiles.

But the technology can also be put to use beyond those purposes, Durkin said in a presentation at an investors conference sponsored by BMO Capital Markets.
“We can cater which content we present to you based on who you are,” Durkin said. “How many people are in the room when an ad is shown? How many people are in the room when a game is being played? When you add this sort of device to a living room, there’s a bunch of business opportunities that come with that.”

Such a system also could raise questions about privacy. In the past few months, targeted online advertising has been facing increasing scrutiny, and the use of cameras and facial recognition would push such technology into a new realm.

And dig this attempt at spin Microsoft sent to the WSJ after it broke this important story:

UPDATE: Microsoft emailed the following statement about its current policies regarding privacy and Xbox: “Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes. Microsoft has a strong track record of implementing some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry. We place great importance on the privacy of our customers’ information and the safety of their experiences.”

Does Microsoft say it is not and will never be selling such invaluable, long-dreamed-of marketing data to any parties? No. In fact, it doesn’t even say Microsoft isn’t now collecting and using them. It merely says “Xbox 360” (whatever that is beyond a name for a machine) and “Xbox Live” “do not.”

The rest, of course, is the usual laughfest of jive-talk and improper comparison: “some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry.” ROFLMFAO.

ROFLMFAO of the Day

jessica sternThe New York Times today features a book review of Denial: A Memoir of Terror, by Jessica Stern, pictured at left, a faculty affiliate of the Belfer Center’s International Security Program and a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University.

It isn’t directly related to big business marketing, but in this review, Ms. Stein utters one of the most remarkable lines I’ve read in a long time, a line that speaks volumes about the totalitarian, Big Brotherian nature of this society and its elite-training institutions.

After attributing terrorism against “us” to a string of psychological and cultural factors she apparently doesn’t connect to politics or history or the distribution of world power (such are the requirements of maintaining Harvard and NSC connections), here is Stern’s epic howler:

“Harvard is a humiliation factory, and yet we don’t produce a lot of terrorists.

OMFG. I mean, really? WOW! I almost fell out of my chair.  Seriously.

I won’t waste your electrons reciting the marathon list of torturers and war criminals trained and housed at Harvard. You can do that yourself with a bit of internetting.

But permit me two items, won’t you?

1) Neo-Harvard-Man poster-boy Barack Hussein Obama is presently commander-in-chief of two wars, both pointless, one patently illegal. He has substantially increased the rate of drone bombings and military assassinations in both these festivals of mass death.

2) From Wikipedia:

Henry Kissinger received his B.A. degree summa cum laude at Harvard College in 1950, where he studied under William Yandell Elliott. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University in 1952 and 1954, respectively. In 1952, while still at Harvard, he served as a consultant to the Director of the Psychological Strategy Board. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Peace, Legitimacy, and the Equilibrium (A Study of the Statesmanship of Castlereagh and Metternich).”

Kissinger remained at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government and at the Center for International Affairs. He became Associate Director of the latter in 1957.

Kissinger played a key role in a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia to disrupt PAVN and Viet Cong units launching raids into South Vietnam from within Cambodia’s borders and resupplying their forces by using the Ho Chi Minh trail and other routes, as well as the 1970 Cambodian Incursion and subsequent widespread bombing of Cambodia. The bombing campaign contributed to the chaos of the Cambodian Civil War, which saw the forces of dictator Lon Nol unable to retain foreign support to combat the growing Khmer Rouge insurgency that would overthrow him in 1975.

The CIA provided education for the military officers directly involved in the coup against Allende,[33] and funding for the mass anti-government strikes in 1972 and 1973; during this period, Kissinger made several controversial statements regarding Chile’s government, stating that “the issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves” and “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.”

On September 11, 1973, Allende [was overthrown in a US-backed coup led by] Army Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet, who [appointed himself] President. A document released by the CIA in 2000 titled “CIA Activities in Chile” revealed that the CIA actively supported the military junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet’s officers into paid contacts of the CIA or US military, even though many were known to be involved in notorious human rights abuses.

On September 16, 1973, five days after Pinochet had assumed power, the following exchange about the coup took place between Kissinger and President Nixon:

Nixon: Nothing new of any importance or is there?
Kissinger: Nothing of very great consequence. The Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.
Nixon: Isn’t that something. Isn’t that something.
Kissinger: I mean instead of celebrating – in the Eisenhower period we would be heroes.
Nixon: Well we didn’t – as you know – our hand doesn’t show on this one though.
Kissinger: We didn’t do it. I mean we helped them.

Kissinger took a similar line as he had toward Chile when the Argentine military, led by Jorge Videla, toppled the democratic government of Isabel Perón in 1976 and consolidated power, launching brutal reprisals and “disappearances” against political opponents.

During the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002). Kissinger supported FNLA, led by Holden Roberto, and UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) insurgencies, as well as the CIA-supported invasion of Angola by South African troops.

The Portuguese decolonization process brought US attention to the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which lies within the Indonesian archipelago and declared its independence in 1975. Indonesian president Suharto was a strong US ally in Southeast Asia and began to mobilize the Indonesian army, preparing to annex the nascent state, which had become increasingly dominated by the popular leftist FRETILIN party. In December 1975, Suharto discussed the invasion plans during a meeting with Kissinger and President Ford in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Both Ford and Kissinger made clear that US relations with Indonesia would remain strong and that it would not object to the proposed annexation. US arms sales to Indonesia continued, and Suharto went ahead with the annexation plan.

In an April 3, 2008 interview by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution, Kissinger re-iterated that even though he supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq he thought that the Bush administration rested too much of the case for war on Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

Insofar as it produces historic personages, Harvard produces almost nothing but terrorists.

The Wages of Deregulation

Back in Jimmy Carter’s days, the overclass started really demanding deregulation, a further weakening of the always pathetic regime of public inspection and limitation of business activity, and quickly got it, with a “consensus” from both major political parties that continues right to the present moment and, barring a popular uprising, beyond.  The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion is a direct consequence of this 30+ year indulgence of the core claim of capitalism, the assertion that unrestrained private profit-seeking yields the best possible results.

bp blastTurns out, the supposedly out-of-control and business-oppressing government didn’t bother to conduct half its 2008 inspections of Deepwater Horizon, and sent rookies to do some or all of the others.

The Minerals Management Service, the “regulatory” agency that not only does the “inspections” but was about to bestow its top safety award on BP the very month of the rig explosion, has one inspector for every 636 wells operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

And this is NOT just the oil industry.  All “regulation,” as every e coli hamburger victim knows, is a systematic joke in this market-totalitarian nation.

It’s time for the public to step and and render the obvious verdict on this disastrous social experiment.  Corporate capitalists and their purchased politicians must go.  We need public, not-for-profit enterprise and real, hardcore regulation of the private enterprises we choose to tolerate.

Dawn of Death: The Apex of Shamelessness

Partly for intellectual/political reasons and partly because I grew up on the habit, I still watch some television. Last night, I nearly choked on my frozen yogurt when I saw this especially stunning mind-rape come on:

Now, I’m no greenhorn when it comes to the mega-chutzpah that goes into the planning and production of corporate marketing campaigns, which, with the possible exception of organized monotheism, are far and away the most carefully considered and lavishly funded form of dishonesty in human history.

But this just takes the fucking cake, here, folks.

What is the point of de-oiling animals after they have been exposed to petroleum leaks? The Procter and Gamble (Dawn is a P & G brand) ad above would have you believe that it is a simple rescue mission that yields lovely, happy-bunny outcomes. Wash the oil off the feathers or fur, and the critter goes home just fine and dandy. Maybe even cleaner and better!

Let’s leave aside the obvious question of going home to what — the same ecosystem in which they just got oiled, the one to which they were born and are adapted?

At the level of the animal itself, petroleum-soaked feathers or fur, serious as it is, is only the secondary problem. The primary problem is oral ingestion or dermal absorption of oil. Swallowing or soaking in petroleum is a catastrophe to the organism:

Because birds preen themselves meticulously to maintain their insulating air layer, external oiling almost always leads to some oil ingestion. Once oil is ingested, it can cause direct damage to the gastrointestinal tract, evidenced by ulcers, diarrhea, and a decreased ability to absorb nutrients. If the volatile components of the oil are inhaled, it can lead to pneumonia, neurological damage, or absorption of chemicals that can lead to cancer. Metabolism of the oil components by the kidney and liver can lead to extensive damage to those organs as well. Lastly, oil (and the stress of being oiled) can cause birds to have significant anemia and the lack of blood cells that combat infection.

The impact on bird eggs and bird and animal babies is worse.

p and g hq
P & G HQ

So, what is the above advertisement for Dawn dish soap? It is a knowing lie, designed to get people to pay a premium for Procter and Gamble’s heavily advertised brand of liquid soap. As all marketing planners know, “a sure-fire way to get consumers to pay more for our products even in these difficult times is to make some ‘green’ claims.”

In reality, then, the above ad is nothing more and nothing less than this: the use of the gargantuan, heart-rending, only-just-begun biological destruction from the Deepwater Horizon blowout as a photo-op for raking in more profits for P & G shareholders, all while sowing Satanic disinformation about the very reality troubling the very victims of the scam.

And, of course, it gets worse. Serious studies of bird survival after petroleum exposure show that “rescuing” birds ranges from being somewhat helpful to being utterly futile and inhumane.

And guess which organization is working to sell the rosiest possible view? That’s right: The International Bird Rescue Research Center, the very group to which P & G sends money as part of this marketing scheme.

The very group whose executive director writes letters of praise to P & G.

The very group that says this on its FAQ page:

Q: What do you use to wash birds?

A: We use “Dawn” dish washing liquid. IBRRC has conducted research on most of the commonly available cleaning agents and “Dawn” meets all the criteria we have established for appropriate cleaning agents. Those criteria are the ability to remove most oils, effectiveness at low concentrations, non-irritating to the skin and eyes, rapid removal from feathers (rinsing), and is easily accessible. Procter and Gamble now donates all “Dawn” detergent to IBRRC and other rehabilitation organizations.

The very group that answers another key FAQ thus:

Q: What is your survival rate?

A: The survival rate will differ with each oil spill because of all the factors that effect it. Some of those factors are the toxicity of the oil, how rapidly the birds are collected and stabilized, what condition the bird was in before it was oiled, and the species involved. We have had release rates as high as 100% and as low as 25% in the early years. We now average about 50% to 80%. Again, it depends on many variables and cannot be predicted.

Did you catch that liar’s shift? What is your survival rate? We won’t say, but here are some statistics about our RELEASE rate.

In other words, the IBRRC is a Procter and Gamble front, a mere pimp for P & G’s “cherished strategy of introducing increasingly sophisticated — and increasingly costly — household staples.”

By the way, a regular 24.0z bottle of Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent presently sells for $5.49, or 22.9 cents per ounce on drugstore.com. I guarantee you that the dollar stores my grandmother frequents sell an indistinguishable product for one dollar.

I can only quote, once again, from the late Robert L. Heilbroner:

At a business forum, I was once brash enough to say that I thought the main cultural impact of television advertising was to teach children that grown-ups told lies for money. How strong, deep, or sustaining can be the values of a civilization that generates a ceaseless flow of half-truths and careful deceptions?

Cato is Clown Central

clowns The mighty journalistic flagship USA Today carries a story about yet another preposterous effort by medical experts to pretend that the people who run the United States are going to consider making the nation’s built environment friendly to exercise.   The delusional proposal in question is, in the credulous description of  USA Today, a “comprehensive, wide-ranging strategies outlined in the new U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, which is being released today by an expert panel representing influential health organizations. Among groups involved are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.”

The “comprehensive” plan is, as always, a melange of quarter-measures and rote incantations, none of which, puny as they are, stands a ghost of a chance of getting funded:

• Make sure roadway spending includes money for “complete streets,” accommodating cars, bikes and pedestrians.

• Have doctors assess patients’ physical activity levels at appointments and discuss ways they can meet the activity guidelines.

• Encourage early childhood education programs to have little ones as physically active as possible.

• Provide access to and opportunities for physical activity before and after school.

• Encourage school officials to find ways for children to walk and bike safely to school.

• Provide tax breaks for building owners or employers who provide amenities in workplaces that support active commuting, such as showers in buildings, secure bicycle parking, free bicycles or transit subsidies.

• Increase funding and resources for parks, recreation, fitness and sports programs and facilities in areas of high need.

Of course, for “balance” in its reporting on this piece of hopeless liberal special pleading, USA Today must turn to “conservatives,” who, of course, refuse to admit that any environmental discouragement of health exists in corporate capitalist America.

Cue the blithering clowns of the unintentionally hilarious Cato Institute:

“Most people are overweight not because there isn’t a sidewalk in their neighborhood but because we like to eat and we don’t like to exercise,” says David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C.

And the price of the changes could be high. “Everything costs something,” Boaz says. “Every action has a cost, and when it’s government-involved, whether it’s federal or local, they are generally less efficient with money. This is the elite planning for how the masses should live.”

Only in America, folks, only in America:  Choices exist independently of environments.  Government is always less efficient than mega-corporations, no evidence mentioned or required.  And, despite the fact that big business marketing is the largest and most sophisticated program of behavioral control in human history and something that receives twice as much funding as all forms and levels of schooling combined, “elite planning for how the masses should live” can only come from the government or their evil dupes and shills, worried public health researchers.

Why Know Your Credit Score?

exploitation spiderweb If you watch TV, you’ve probably seen Nixon speech-writer and militant irrationalist Ben Stein pitching freescore.com, with the proposition that “knowing your credit score” is somehow a step to improving one’s economic circumstances.

What deceptive crapola.  Knowing your credit score is analogous to balancing your checkbook.  If you need to do it, you are already fucked.

Except, of course, that there’s actually one rational reason to balance one’s checkbook.  Doing so might keep you from incurring your bank’s super-usurious “NSF” fee-rape.

Credit scores, meanwhile, are credit scores.  They are portraits of one’s wealth level, and purely ex post factoKnowing your score is utterly irrelevant to changing your score, which requires increased income, not knowledge of what has already happened.  For the vast majority of struggling citizens, the only conceivable reason for trying to know your score I can think of is to avoid the minor embarrassment of being denied a car loan or a cell phone contract.  But, even then, if you’re worried about that happening, you almost certainly are right to be worried, and don’t need to throw salt on your own wounds by ensnaring yourself in exploitative dirtball schemes like freescore.com.

By the way, Ben Stein, surely drawing on his exquisite, religion-informed sensitivity to the plight of the common household, says “The economy is still very strong.”