Greetings from Your Name Here, USA

It may not be long before you can add another stop to next year's California vacation. Not only will you be able to visit Disneyland, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Yosemite National Park, you might be able to stop off in Got Milk? before heading home to torture the neighbors with the 1,247 hours of video you shot. At least you will if the California Milk Processing Board has its way.

In their quest to honor the "Got Milk?" ad campaign's 10th anniversary, the board's advertising agency sent a letter to 20 small towns across California proposing that they change their name to Got Milk?. This is strange since the proper gift for a 10th anniversary is tin, and milk comes in cartons, not cans. Except evaporated milk, which sounds more like what we should call powdered milk, and condensed milk, which should be reserved for drinking while reading Cliff's Notes or Reader's Digest. In return for making their town sound incredibly goofy, the ad agency promised instant notoriety, the honor of being the focus of next year's ad campaign, an undetermined contribution to the school system, and a Got Milk? Museum, which could easily supplant the world's largest ball of used dental floss as a reason to venture out of the house next summer.

The mayor of Biggs was the only one to respond, which isn't surprising since it takes a very special person to want to run a town with punctuation in its name. Someone who perhaps takes after Dick Crow, the mayor of Half.com, Oregon, possibly the only town in the country with a period in its name, even if they do pronounce it "dot."

Now it's true that when the Internet company by the same name contacted them, Half.com didn't have as radical a name change to make as Biggs does, since it had been known for years as Halfway. And it's also true that they probably should have bargained harder, since 20 computers, $75,000 for civic improvements, and "a prize to be raffled at the county fair" was all it took to get them to go along with the Internet company's publicity plan. But they shouldn't feel bad. They can count their blessings that when eBay bought Half.com the town wasn't a part of the deal. And that they weren't forced to change their name yet again, this time to eBay, which would have meant they could never hold an auction there without some high-powered corporate lawyers threatening to beat up their puny municipal lawyers.

The idea to become Got Milk? could yet be rejected by the Biggs City Council when they meet on November 18th. If that happens, the California Milk Processing Board might consider buying their own town. You know, like say Amboy, California. Tim White, who owns Roy's Cafe and Motel as well as the town, has put it up for sale. The town, not the cafe. For a low, low $1.9 million the Milk Board could pick up a town with a population of 10, a gas station, a motel, a church, an airplane hanger, a half dozen houses, and a post office. So what if the self-proclaimed "crustiest, dustiest gas stop on all of Route 66" bakes at 120 degrees during the summer, they'll have milk. I mean, Got Milk?

Hopefully Amboy will have better luck being sold than Otis, Oregon did. A couple of years ago it was put on the market for $2.9 million but no one snapped it up. At the time I proposed buying it and changing the name to Dogestan, then since I'd be emperor I would name Jose Cuervo as the Official Liquor, Converse All-Star high-top black monochrome as the Official Shoe, and of course me as the Official Columnist, but I had a hard time scraping together the down payment. Imagine that.

If Biggs does end up changing its name to Got Milk?--or they listen to me for once in their life and buy Amboy and rename it Got Milk?--this could be the start of a trend. After all, companies have already snapped up the naming rights to stadiums, amphitheaters, bowl games, races, and even World Series inning statistics, so the list of available possibilities is pretty narrow at this point. Don't be surprised if the National Pork Board buys Livonia, Michigan and renames it The Other White Meat, Apple Computers moves their headquarters to Think Different, California, and KFC opens a location in the newly dubbed Finger Lickin' Good, Kentucky. Come to think of it, K-Y Jelly, KY would be a natural for a specialized lifestyle resort. Some names could present a problem, though--if the California Milk Advisory Board tried to rename a town It's the Cheese, I'm sure Las Vegas would file suit claiming concept infringement.

If we do end up with a Got Milk?, California, there's little question city streets, rivers, and lakes will be next. And why not? If you enjoyed your visit to Got Milk? I'm sure you'd love sailing down the Amazon.com River, buying a house on Nightmare on Elm Street (Part X), and fishing on beautiful Land O' Lakes Lake. Just don't forget the video camera.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: www.maddogproductions.com. His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email: md@maddogproductions.com

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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