Thursday News Chum: ATM PINs, Olympic Mascots, Looney Tunes, McDonalds, and Jewish Single-Malt

I was hoping for a theme, but alas, that was not to be. Here are a few items that caught my eye from skimming the papers the last few days over lunch:

  • From the “He Made It Too Easy” Department: The Chicago Tribune brings the obit of John Shepherd-Barron, the inventor of the ATM machine. We all know how we are stuck with 98.6 as normal human temperature because the inventor’s wife had an illness when the calibration was done. It turns out there is a similar story on why ATM PINs, and PINs in general, are a relatively insecure four digits: “Shepherd-Barron originally planned to make PINs six digits long, but cut the number to four after his wife, Caroline, complained that six was too many. “Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard,” he told the BBC.” The first ATM machine was installed in 1967!
  • From the “Hidey, Howdy, Izzy, Syd, Ollie, and Millie” Department: And the question is: “Who were some of the worst Olympic mascots?” The National Post has a nice article today looking back on some of the worst Olympic mascots, including photographs.
  • From the “They’re All A Little Looney” Department: The New York Times has a nice article on the upcoming reincarnation of the classic Looney Tunes on CN. It includes a nice history of other attempts, including Tiny Toons (which was somewhat successful), “The Loonatics Unleashed” (which was horrid), and “Baby Looney Tunes” (the mind just boggles). No mention of “Duck Dodgers”, tho. It will be interesting to see how the new incarnation fares.
  • From the “A Force for Good” Department: That’s how McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner characterized Ronald McDonald, who isn’t going anywhere despite protests calling for his abolition. What is going away is the McDonalds physical look, as the chain is introducing an updated look that is significantly more modern. Out will go the iconic red mansard roof and cafeteria-style lighting, and in will come a stone or brick exterior and more modern furniture. There will be zone-seating areas, so the customer has the opportunity to use the restaurant in the manner that fits their lifestyle best, and playlands may disappear from some stores.
  • From the “Yet Another Reason To Drink” Department: The Jewish Journal has an interesting column on the changing Jewish relationship with wine, and how single-malt scotch is now the drink of choice. Why is this happening? The poor quality of Kosher wine, combined with the higher quality with no kashrut issues (except during Pesach) of single-malt.