Are you sick and tired of pounding neck cramps from decoding the overhead menu at your favorite junk food franchise? Do you gag when asked, "Would you like fries with that?" Have you resigned your membership in the human race after reading Fast Food Nation? Did you just finish cleaning your porcelain friend after watching Supersize Me?
It used to be that the last barely acceptable hamburger chain was In-N-Out Burger. Naturally, they are limited to the West Coast. But, ho! Cyberspace offers an alternative --- Ninja Burger! Not only cyberspace, apparently two franchises exist in Rochester! Our local franchise is Ninja Burger Seventh Boulevard, but orders are only accepted online at www.ninjaburger.com. Ninjas prefer to keep exact locations to themselves, so be wary when traversing city streets. No one wants to run afoul of ninjas in a hurry. The super secret Ninja Burger team is augmented by æthereal FORGE, an artists' collective, notorious for their sense of humor and Tiger Paw Death Clutch.
On the positive side, these covert assassins understand the importance of a hot meal: no more sitting on the front porch and howling at every passing vehicle; no more calling the restaurant every five minutes and asking, "Has the driver left yet?" The fact is, despite those pizza chain promises, little recourse exists beyond an inedible pizza at no cost. Now though, we have a new standard for comparison: "Guaranteed delivery in 30 minutes or less, or we commit Seppuku!"
And the burgers are hand-broiled so you know they're fresh and tasty. As the immortal Nanookanano has written, "A whisper of leaves / Ninja Burger delivers / I will eat tonight." Next time you face the mesmerizing menus of obesity, think back on your last Samurai Chicken Sandwich. With a little effort, you can probably still taste the little bits of samurai.
--- Craig Brownlie
By now, most people are familiar with blogs. Once a term used to describe personal web-logs (read: daily journals), blogs are now all the rage for everyone wanting to get their thoughts out to the world (thanks to Blogger.com and a billion other free services).
One of the best effects of blog "technology" has been to give power to the people to self-publish, be it political blogs, technology/gadget blogs, or art/music blogs, and generally anything really weird and interesting. Granted, like everything on the web, there's also a billion pointless blogs, but that's half the fun, weeding through all the crap to find the gem.
One technology that got a boost from the popularity: RSS feeds (don't worry what that stands for). It's a way for blogs to "push" their new entries to users, rather than relying on users to regularly visit a given site. And now, another explosive technology benefiting from (and benefiting) RSS feeds is Podcasting. Podcasts are essentially subscription-based audio-blogs. People using the RSS technology can download recorded blogs to their portable MP3 player (Apple's iPod is the most popular of these, hence the prefix "pod").
You can subscribe to all your favorite podcasts, sit around and have them downloaded automatically while you're sleeping/eating/working, and then listen to them when you want to. It's like TiVo. Or, you can record a rant, copy it to your website, have an RSS feed reference that file, and subscribers will automatically download your new recording.
There is podcast subscribing support built into the iTunes Store, where you can link to NPR shows, Democracy Now!, Make Magazine, news outlets, music labels, as well as entries from "normal" individuals (Apple has an open submission policy).
And if you're not in the mood for weeding, check out some of these blogs:
art and music
www.commondreams.org (collection-type blog, useful tool)
blog.zmag.org/ttt/ (Chomsky blog)
Science Friday (NPR show)
Adam Curry's Podfinder
--- Joe Tunis