The Digital Journalist
Meat Cookies
December 2003

by James Colburn

Just where is the Mid-West? If you ask someone from Ohio or Indiana what part of the country they come from they'll probably say "The Mid-West!" They're wrong. Now the geographic center of the country (okay, the contiguous lower 48 states) is about 2 1/2 miles northwest of Lebanon, Kansas so that would place everything to the west of Lebanon in The West and everything east of Lebanon in, er, The East.

This makes for some fascinating thought. Salt Lake City is in the Mid-West, Indianapolis is in the Middle East, Augusta, Maine is in the Far East and the cities of Des Moines, Kansas City and Omaha are in Central America. "Gangsta" rappers from Brownsville and Corpus Christi can claim to be from South-Central and the Mid-Atlantic states should, by rights, be somewhere to the east of Bermuda.

Then there's the concept of the Meat Cookie. No, you don't have to replace those chunks of chocolate in your Tollhouse cookies with ground beef but..... Why hasn't someone made some cookie-cutter like things for the slabs of beef that America loves so much? When you fire up your barbecue grill to celebrate the founding of the Texas Republic (I think it's March 2nd) how about serving up some sirloin in the shape of the state of Texas? A Lone Star? A yellow rose? Order a custom silhouette cutter for your son's birthday party and hand out Ralph-shaped filets? Cross shaped steaks for the church picnic and maybe one of those L-O-V-E things in a square for formerly vegetarian ex-hippies. The possibilities are endless!

I know what you're thinking. "Oh boy. Colburn's really lost it this time."

Nope. Or sort of. Or not at all.

I have just read that a survey by the School of Information Management at UC-Berkeley has determined that, in the year 2002, the world created five exabytes of information. An exabyte is one billion gigabytes. Five billion gigabytes of information. Evidently that's the equivalent to 500,000 Libraries of Congress and 92 percent of all that information is stored on "magnetic media." That usually means hard drives. Lots and lots of spinning hard drives just waiting to crash, most of which probably haven't been backed up.

One piece of good news from the survey is that five percent of all that information is stored as still or moving picture images on film. Film that is only attacked by heat, cold, mildew, rot and curious dogs but NOT by computer viruses, out-of-whack read/write heads or bug-ridden operating system security updates and patches.

The other good news is that, as my first three paragraphs show, most of the rest is crap.

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer