Friday, October 27, 2006

The Lightning Round:
French Kiss-Off

This week we begin with a travelers' advisory, especially to those who value their joie de vivre.

FORGET PARIS. You think the French are nasty towards Americans? Hear what they're doing to the Japanese. About one dozen Japanese tourists need psychological treatment every year for the so-called "Paris Syndrome."

From Reuters:
Already this year, Japan's embassy in Paris has had to repatriate at least four visitors -- including two women who believed their hotel room was being bugged and there was a plot against them.

Previous cases include a man convinced he was the French "Sun King", Louis XIV, and a woman who believed she was being attacked with microwaves, the paper [Journal du Dimanche] cited Japanese embassy official Yoshikatsu Aoyagi as saying.
The problem seems to be a clash of perception versus reality, the idyllic vision of France versus the on-the-street experience. Darn those travel guides!
"Fragile travelers can lose their bearings. When the idea they have of the country meets the reality of what they discover it can provoke a crisis," psychologist Herve Benhamou told the paper.
I know a lot of people in America going through that... and they're not travelers.

RUSH TO JUDGMENT. Rush Limbaugh, who I used to listen to regularly before his show became a partisan amen corner, suggested actor Michael J. Fox was faking the effects of Parkinson's disease when he trembled in a serious of ads supporting stem-cell research. Fox defended himself in a sit-down with Katie Couric.

He also disputed Rush's implication that Democrats use victims of diseases to advance their political agenda.
"I'm not a victim. I'm someone who’s in this situation. I'm in this situation with millions of other Americans, whether it’s like I said, for Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s, or ALS, or diabetes or spinal cord injury or what have you. And we have a right, if there’s answers out there, to pursue those answers with the full support of our politicians. And so I don't need anyone’s permission to do that."
Rush says he never said Fox was "faking it." True, he never said those two words. But the implication was there, and it's close enough. As Rush has said himself, "Words mean things."

As for Fox, watching him shake from the combination of disease and medication sinks my soul. He's a decade older than me, but he easily looks my age. I still remember him from Family Ties and Back To The Future. Judging for myself, he's no act. Maybe Rush is, but he isn't.

DOLLARS AND SCENTS. That smell from the coins in your wallet is not dirty money, but dirty hands, according to LiveScience.
A new study finds that the smell of iron is, ironically, a type of human body odor, created by the breakdown of oils in skin after touching objects that contain the element.
So how come my piggy bank isn't a Level 3 Biohazard?

I'D WALK A BLOCK FOR A STARBUCKS. I remember a gag in Shrek 2, where people ran from one Starbucks to another across the street. Now the fiction is turning fact.

From the AP:
The coffee chain’s aggressive growth also hinges on what the company calls “infill” — adding stores in cities where its mermaid logo is already commonplace. In some cases, that means putting a Starbucks within a block of an existing store, if not closer.
Part of the rationale is long lines. Another part: market forces.
Sitting in Starbucks’ Seattle headquarters a day after the company announced that it had increased its projected store count by a third, to 40,000 stores, company Chairman Howard Schultz said he thought the company had been vastly underestimating the worldwide demand for its coffees, teas, CDs, coffee mugs and other items.
I tell you, it's the caffeine, for crying out loud. Starbucks is addicting us in its plot to control the universe! Run for detox!

RADIO, RADIO. Clear Channel, regarded by many of my broadcast brethren as the Axis of Evil, is up for sale. I agree with Jeff Jarvis, who says CC ran out of stations to gobble up. Now it's collapsing under the weight of carbon-copy formats and bad karma, even though the company took the radical step of reducing commercial breaks.

People love to think of radio and TV stations as cash cows. Well, yes, but that cow eats a lot of feed -- electricity for the transmitter, programming costs, maintenance, and huge salaries for top talent. Even a station like KCDX in Florence, AZ, with no DJ's and no sales staff (because there's no commercials) still burns through about $200,000 a year. I'm amazed station "guru" Ted Tucker willingly hemorrhages such money.

I'm betting whoever buys CC will start piecing its 1,200 stations out, unloading them onto whoever thinks they have a shot of making money in the broadcast business. And then those buyers can see how much milk they get from CC's cattle.

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