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June 18, 2006

Amazon Sells Groceries Online, Again

Article here, user review here.

I took a look and I'm already disappointed. There are a bewildering array of brand names you never, ever heard of, and some strange absences.

I looked for Skippy Low-Carb Peanut Butter, which is hard to find in supermarkets but kicks all kinds of ass for Atkins dieters. It wasn't there. Okay, fine. But then, neither is regular Skippy Peanut Butter. There are Skippy Peanut Butter products, like Skippy Peanut Butter bars and Skippy Peanut Butter in squeeze bottles (???) and Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread, but no normal Skippy Peanut Butter.

So Skippy apparently agreed to supply Amazon, but only with test-market sorts of products. Odd.

You'd think that an online store would give you access to just about every brand-name you could think of... but you'd be wrong. From the review:

On the other hand, the selection is impressive but still a bit limited. If you want crunchy peanut butter, it's a Gourmet item and shipping will cost ya. Among 146 varieties of ground or whole-bean coffee, there's not a single Guatemalan offering, and if you want a case of energy drinks, say hello to HOOAH! Soldier Fuel and Pimpjuice, because Monster and Red Bull are nowhere to be found.

Pimpjuice? Pimpjuice? Okay, I might just break down and order a case of Pimpjuice. But as a general rule, Amazon doesn't look like a normal supermarket. If you walked into a market selling these odd-ball brand-names, you'd think you'd blundered into some kind of Bizarro World, or maybe accidentally wound up in an old but still running Russian Potemkin village, where everything seems sort of American, and yet... not quite.

Correction: Now Amazon's front page is offering me normal Skippy Peanut Butter. Not sure why a search for "Skippy Peanut Butter" didn't turn it up, but they do seem to have it. And reduced fat versions, too.

Not that that helps me. I want the fat, I just don't want the carbs.


Thanks to DDG.

Brave New World Update: Videogame makers cautiously enter the pornography market, with "games" in which you get to do things like, say, pretend you're having sex with an image of Jenna Jameson on your computer.

Hell of an innovation. Previously, when I'd wanted to pretend I was having sex with Jenna Jameson on my computer, I would have to download something called a "pornographic mpg or wmv file," play it, and then abuse myself with the repetitive mechanical fury of a misfiring industrial robot.

And now-- well, I can run this "game." And really "immerse" myself into the virtual world of Jenna Jameson, who looks increasingly strange as she surgically alters her face every three years, and looks stranger still as a computer-generated character, like an albino Drow elf with pneuamatic hooters.

So, I don't know. There doesn't seem to be much of a market for this; the market for beat-off products is already pretty well-saturated, isn't it?

I guess this game does offer the inducement of power-ups, and everyone will want to be the first pervert on his block with a +5 Holey Avenger and a Dick of Many Things.

Thanks to Allah, of course, for that one.

And then it gets really weird. Because a clothing line -- "Shai," whatever that is -- is now marketing its clothes online through (NOT SAFE FOR WORK, or MAYBE EVEN FOR HOME) actual full-hardcore, see-everything, to-completion pornography. It's like a normal online ad, with the models showing the clothes off, and with little buttons for you to click to find out about this jacket or those pajama pants, except that, you know, they're meanwhile having graphically-depicted sex.

Not at all safe for work, and the loading times are a bitch and a half.

The Internet seems to be bringing a single standard of sexual morality to the world, and that standard is, let us say, not overly concerned with being family friendly. In Europe, of course, you can see hardcore porn on free basic cable stations past 10 or 11 at night; heck, I think it might even be on broadcast stations. America is more resistant to that, and laws will probably forbid it, but the Internet is an end-run around the FCC, and almost everyone is in favor of keeping it an unregulated Wild Cyber West. It's already overtaking TV as the public's favorite entertainment venue; so, America will have free porn, at all hours of the day, constantly, ubiquitiously. While TV continues to show eight episodes of My Name is Earl in a row.

I wouldn't buy up media stock right now.

I got a Blade Runner* vibe watching this, imagining the world just ten years from now, when hardcore porn was used to sell virtually anything at all on line, even innocuous consumer products. Like, say, Skippy Low-Carb Crunchy Peanut Butter.

And I was thrilled.

No, really, I actually think that porn is going to grow increasingly boring as it becomes increasingly ubiquitous. People might just start having actual sex again.

Thanks to Jake for that one.


* Actually, it was more of a LOOKER vibe, Michael Crichton's terrifically fun movie about virtual actors, cosmetic surgery, increasing alienation from the real in favor of the digitially idealized, pornography, and advertising, featuring the coolest frickin' sci-fi gun ever (the Light-Optical Oculo-Kinetic Emotive-Responser, I think). The movie was made 20 years too early. Now this stuff seems right around the corner; some of it's already happening.

It continues to be available only on VHS, which is criminal. I don't know if it's truly a good movie, but if you were my age when it came on HBO, you probably still have fond memories of it. It was the "thinking man's Runaway."

They need to put this out on DVD. Heck, they need to remake it. I don't know if they'll top the casting of Albert Finney and James Coburn, but they could at least try.

Has to be more interesting than Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.



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posted by Ace at 01:37 PM

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