Creative Destruction

May 1, 2014

Conspiracy with a Dose of Sarcasm

Filed under: Content-lite,Humor,Media Analysis,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 11:36 pm

One the blogs I read and contribute to recently blew up over the subject of conspiracy theories. Among the arguments was the following video:

Skeptic.com purports to promote rational and scientific thinking through the use of humor, but I must admit its approach is not my cup of tea. I have seen several other videos featuring the character Mr. Deity and thought then the tone was high-handed despite the humor (more like sarcasm and ridicule). Whether I agree (or disagree) with the viewpoint presented is quite beside the point.

I wish that various conspiracies could be laid to rest finally, and maybe the authors at Skeptic.com believe they have done so, but there are significant sociological reasons why belief in conspiracy persists. Most examples I discard as not deserving a decision one way or the other, but a couple I believe because I find the evidence convincing and official narrative unconvincing. Yeah, sometimes I feel silly subscribing to ideas others find bizarre, but then, lots of people believed (and still do) that the rush to war in Iraq was justified by disinformation provided by our own government. I didn’t need hindsight to see through that charade.

November 10, 2013

Entrainment in Physics

Filed under: Content-lite,Geekery,Science — Brutus @ 1:39 pm

Saw a curious YouTube video, courtesy of Slipped Disc, Norman Lebrecht’s blog at Arts Journal:

I puzzled for a short while about how independent mechanical devices could sync up. The first commentator at Slipped Disc identifies the phenomenon as entrainment, which is accurate except that the comment refers to music therapy. With metronomes, however, there is no nervous system at work as with entrainment in humans. Rather, this video merely demonstrates a property of physics, also called entrainment, whereby interacting oscillating systems achieve mode lock or sync to the same period. In fact, the Wikipedia link in the previous sentence includes a CBS News report assuring everyone that it’s merely physics. This property was observed 350 years ago. Let me draw attention to the fact that the floating tray on which the metronomes sit moves sufficiently (left and right in the video) to allow the devices to interact. In truth, it took me only a little poking around to uncover the physics of it.

September 27, 2013

Apocalyptic Prank

Filed under: Content-lite,Humor,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 1:27 pm

I see from having searched for this ad that LG has a history of pranking people with the realistic quality of its HDTVs, at least when not paying close attention:

I’m unsure whether such shenanigans ought to be deplored or admired. Scaring the bejesus out of people with intrusions into the privacy of the men’s room, disappearing elevators floors, and now an apocalyptic meteor strike during a job interview seems like crossing over the line. If I were subjected to such pranks, I’d be pissed.

April 17, 2013

The Nature of Man (or Mankind)

Filed under: Art,Content-lite,Environment,Ethics — Brutus @ 2:20 pm

Long time no blog posts. I’ve been fairly active at The Spiral Staircase but not at all here. However, I got hipped to an animator, Steve Cutts, whose style and content fits my thinking. Gotta share it. In a recent video, he shows humanity to be pretty hideous in the way we treat the world (ours to kill, consume, and trash at will) yet blithely ignorant about it right up to the end, when we deserve to get stomped ourselves (like the bug at the beginning):

There are other animations at his website with similar themes. The mixture of truly baleful criticism and jokey tone, with mildly distorted drawings and silly though evocative music, makes them simultaneously entertaining and hard to watch. But we have a vicarious, rubbernecking streak in us, so it’s doubtful anyone will look away to preserve their innocence (if anyone can be said to have any).

BTW, to categorize this as content-lite is undoubtedly a mischaracterization, but since the content comes from elsewhere and requires little analysis, I’ve got nothing much to add.

April 29, 2012

Incredible Traffic

Filed under: Content-lite — Brutus @ 2:05 am

This video was just recently sent to me, but it appears to be at least four years old:

Pretty amazing to watch how drivers cooperate in the absence of traffic controls. The speed of the video has been hastened, so it looks a little bit like a Keystone Cops (var.: Keystone Kops) short, but the essence of the activity on the street is still pretty clear. Try that on an American intersection!!

March 15, 2012

Mayan Calendar Miscount

Filed under: Content-lite,Current Events,Geekery,Navel Gazing — Brutus @ 12:10 pm

This image has been making the rounds:

I admit to being initially taken in by the apparent discrepancy in counting methodologies, but as with so many things, I lack the expertise to fully evaluate the accuracy of the claims. It was no surprise that someone else did, however, as can be appreciated with this YouTube video:

Of course, I never believed in the first place that the Mayan prophesy meant the end of the world. Rather, it was merely the equivalent of the odometer on the car turning over 100,000 back when there was no display for the hundred thousands place, meaning it would reset to 00,000.0.

July 28, 2011

Upskirt Marilyn

Filed under: Art,Content-lite,Geekery,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 7:12 pm

Been absent for a while. Nothing short and sweet to blog about until now, which is a 26-ft. sculpture of Marilyn Monroe’s famous pose from The Seven Year Itch.

I used to work in that building at 401 N. Michigan Ave. in Chicago. The plaza in front has been rebuilt almost continuously in the last decade and has frequently been the site of large, outdoor sculptures. I happened by there today, but the unveiling apparently took place July 15, 2011.

Far be it from me to impose my aesthetic on anyone else, but I can’t not observe how trashy this is, offering passersby the most garish upskirt photographic opportunity ever. And naturally, tacky Americans are only too happy to oblige.

April 14, 2011

Bach on Wood

Filed under: Art,Content-lite,Geekery — Brutus @ 2:44 pm

Something simple and fun, no explanation necessary:

March 25, 2011

Listening

Filed under: Content-lite,Geekery,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 9:24 am

This is pretty funny: an article on “How to Be a Better Listener” in the Chicago Tribune. In next week’s column, learn how to walk on two legs! But in the meantime, listen up! Here’s the set-up:

Did you know that March is International Listening Awareness Month? According to the International Listening Association (ILA), we only retain about 50 percent of what we hear immediately after we hear it, and only another 20 percent beyond that. So how can we get those percentages to rise?

I suspect the author knows nothing about cognition and makes the usual assumption that increasing those percentages means improved cognition. Well, sorry, that’s not the way perception/memory works. We discard the bulk of immediate perception to make room for new stimuli constantly flowing in. If we didn’t, the tank would overflow and nothing new would get in.

If the article were instead about focusing one’s attention, then maybe there would be something useful in it. She gives five suggestions that mostly amount to the same thing:

  1. Don’t take notes at meetings.
  2. Clear your mind.
  3. Absorb the feedback.
  4. Don’t argue, understand.
  5. Body language is key.

All but the last are about eliminating or reducing distractions by getting out of one’s own head and paying attention to someone else. This is good advice all the time. The last is unnecessary: body language is perceived subliminally. Conscious awareness of it is not generally necessary.

January 7, 2011

Things Retired, Not Remembered

Filed under: Content-lite,Geekery — Brutus @ 10:00 pm

From the not-really-news department comes a report of things due to be dropped from use, never to become part of the memories of people just now being born:

  • videotape
  • travel agents
  • separation of work and home
  • books, magazines, and newspapers (and newspaper classifieds)
  • movie rental stores
  • watches
  • paper maps
  • wired phones
  • dial-up Internet service
  • encyclopedias
  • forgotten friends (and forgotten anything else)
  • the evening news on TV
  • CDs
  • cameras that use film

The list goes on, but you get the idea. I doubt pretty seriously that most of these things will go the way of the dodo or that even if they do their prior existence will fail to register on those born after their disappearance. After all, technologies from yesteryear still exist in museums, in films, and in archives that we use and enjoy today. So for instance, books, CDs, and newspapers will simply disappear? Nope. Sorry. They may rise or fall in their prevalence of use, but the sheer fact that libraries collect these media will ensure they will still exist and be useful for a long time yet to come.

Yes, technologies do come and go, but the news of the death of most of these is wildly premature and imprudent. These death notices are predicated on the availability of alternatives that serve the same or slightly updated functions, but the alternatives suffer from their own lack of permanence and vulnerability to failure. GPS is more permanent that a paper map? I doubt it. Encyclopedias will dry up and blow away? Please. They’re moving online, but they still exist. Print media are moving online, too, but the printed page is still valuable and preferred in many instances.

I’m not impressed by techno-Utopian writers who opine breathlessly about the future just over the horizon and how quaint our current technologies will soon be. As recent failures of the iPhone alarm function demonstrate, it might also be premature to embrace every new technology and abandon tried-and-true old tech.

December 13, 2010

Musical Chairs

Filed under: Content-lite,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 2:10 pm

Like many American cities, Chicago has a “thing” about its parking. It’s very difficult or impossible in some neighborhoods to find an available space, and the Loop is pretty much a no-go zone unless one is willing to pay upwards of $15 per day to park. Those who can do without cars opt for iGo or Zip Cars. And then there is the whole bizarre parking meter scandal. No need to go there.

So I was curious to learn of a website advocating Chair-Free Chicago to address the longstanding tradition of protecting one’s snow-shoveled parking space with lawn chairs, two milk crates and a board, or other similar contraptions. On a purely practical level, defying someone’s marking of territory, however illegal wrong it may be to claim public space, is too risky for most. Property damage is too costly and finding another space is prudent.

Of course, the expectation is that one’s neighbors will behave more like criminals rather than neighbors. There is plenty of evidence for that. So while I can appreciate and even applaud Chair-Free Chicago for its advocacy, neighborly behaviors are a luxury that most people abandoned a long time ago, and appeals to our better natures are mostly for chumps. Ironically, when if things totally melt down and civil unrest becomes widespread, forbearance and a sense of community will be the things we most need.

November 29, 2010

Back to the Drawing Board

Filed under: Business,Content-lite — Brutus @ 3:36 pm

Not sure what possessed me, but I had a look at the General Motors website, which has a curious intro movie that says, in effect, “well, back to the drawing board.” I’m unsure whether GM’s failure to ignite the passions of the car-owning public is solely to blame for the company’s collapse and subsequent bailout. I have read at least two analyses that suggest there were structural labor and financial decisions made in the 1950s and 60s that later bore their fruit and killed GM’s profitability. The idea that GM might be able to wipe the slate clean and start again by designing cars people want to buy is the clear affect of the website, complete with shots of ultramodern architecture and designers at the drafting board, as well as a couple artisans shaping body panels.

GM was relisted on the NY Stock Exchange a couple weeks ago at a little above $34 per share, a huge increase (200+ times) over the amount it eroded to before it was unlisted last year. I have no stock advice, but I do find it curious that many would want to play the “fool me once … fool me twice” game with this company.

September 22, 2010

Do Not Want … Yet

Filed under: Content-lite — Brutus @ 11:59 pm

I spotted a hot-off-the-factory-floor Honda CRZ (I don’t care about the damn hyphen!) on the street in Chicago today. I knew they went on sale last month, but this is the first I have seen. As a former CRX owner, Honda’s development of a replacement for its 80s-era econobox (which was built up to 1991) has been of keen interest to me. The presale reviews I read indicated that Honda got some things right but missed others. My desires align almost perfectly with the CRX but not so well with the CRZ:

  • fuel efficient
  • modestly sporty drive
  • lightweight
  • two seats but large cargo area
  • mechanical reliability

By all accounts, the CRZ hits the second and fourth points but fails on the first and third. Reliability is an unknown at this point, but the complexity of hybrid designs pose some obvious risks. For a hybrid vehicle to get poorer fuel efficiency than the CRX with a traditional engine of 20 years ago is pretty telling to me. Of course, the new vehicle has to accommodate a host of new safety and comfort demands, but still ….

Walking by it on the street, I had the impression is was too large. The side-by-side comparison with the CRX reinforces that impression:

It don’t think it’s a mere trick of perspective. Maybe I’ll swing by a Honda dealer and test drive one, but in its current incarnation, I don’t think I’ll be giving up my 10-year-old Acura for a new car payment on this misfit.

September 5, 2010

Driver Reeducation

Filed under: Content-lite,Navel Gazing — Brutus @ 11:29 am

The Globe & Mail reports on a new attempt to enhance traffic safety by displaying a 3D holographic image of a young girl chasing a ball in the street. The image below looks like a parking structure:

Although this initiative is reported to be temporary, it gives rise to all sorts of questions about unintended consequences, such as what happens when someone swerves to avoid the hologram and hits a pedestrian or ignores the supposed hologram and hits an actual pedestrian in the middle of the street. The question I have, which probably won’t be discussed, is why government agencies are using deceptive practices, in the name of presumed safety, to direct public behavior. Can similar deceptions be expected to trick people into paying taxes or voting for politicians, or going to war? Oh, wait. There’s no need to expect those things. We already have them.

December 31, 2007

The Off Colfax List Of Best Books Of 2007 That No One Has Heard Of

Filed under: Content-lite — Off Colfax @ 3:54 am

Well, here we are. Another holiday season gone by, and you were actually fortunate enough for your Great-Aunt Sue Ann to give you a gift card to Borders or Barnes & Noble or Amazon rather than the usual pair of puce and cream macramé socks. But what to get with it?

Here are my unsung, or sometimes sung at too low of a volume, gems of the past year. This won’t be a list with your Skinny Bitches and Looming Towers and Eat Pray Loves and Ann Coulters and Water For Elephants and Oprah Book Clubs and Age of Turbulences and James Patterson’s team of ghost writers and et bloody ceteras. (C’mon. You can’t tell me that you expect a single person to crank out 5 new novels in a calendar year without using ghost writers, even with such incomprehensible twaddle as Patterson usually releases under his name. That’s just crazy talk.) This is for the real book lovers that can venture beyond the best-sellers list.

I know what you’re thinking. Dude. How come this strange OC person could be qualified to judge what could be a good book, much less one of the best books of the year. Simply put, and most of you don’t know this, I’ve been working at the bookstores in Denver International Airport for the past 6 months. So I’m constantly picking up random books and leafing through them. And when I start unconsciously reaching for a handy place to sit, I know I have a good one. (Now all I need is a way to spot my manager before he spots me first.) (And no. I don’t get any kickbacks from these links. So click away without fear of accidentally supporting an anonymous blogger.)

First, for the occasional high-school girl that randomly gets to this page via the Next Blog button while still laughing at the incompetent emo threatening to cut his fingernails, I give you the Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. Gabrielle Zevin brings us the occasional daydream of every high-school student: What if I was able to start here at school all over again? In this one, one high-school junior is is about to do so after falling down some icy stairs and waking up to zero memory of the last four years of her life. Remarkably well-written and highly accessible, even to those odd socialites that insist they only read the Clique series and are very stuck-up about it.

Next up on the list… Hmmm. Let me guess. You’ve heard of the Dangerous Book for Boys, right? And the Daring Book for Girls as well? Good. Now have you read the Dangerous Book for Dogs? I didn’t think so. This is every good dog’s essential companion in the ever-lasting quest to become the bad dog that they always wanted to be. From proper ways to get out of the yard undetected, to cat-chasing tips, to a taste comparison between Dolce & Gabanna leather slides and Kenneth Cole moccasin-stitched loafers, it’s all here. Pay special attention to the etiquette section on crotch-sniffing. Please. Your humans will thank you. (And yes. It is a parody. But I’m still waiting for the Daring Book for Cats to come out.)

Now, for you cooking fanatics out there comes this collection of sordid tales of the kitchen called Don’t Try This At Home. All of us have a war story about when things go horribly wrong in that strange place-where-food-is-put-together-place. (Yes, even when you accidentally microwaved the foil-wrapped leftovers because you were too hungover to notice. That counts.) With little of the pretension of Anthony Bourdain’s ego-stroke known as Kitchen Confidential, this collection of Murphy’s Law-related stories will cheer you up immensely. Whether it is the lobsters that are off or the kitchen is flooded or the cake is in 15 pieces on the Long Island Expressway, it is proof positive that the more (self?)important the chef, the larger the associated screw-ups.

Music lovers and musicians alike will enjoy this book by Daniel Levitin called This Is Your Brain On Music. A former music producer turned cognitive psychologist, Levitin delves into such obscure elements as neurobiology, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, empirical philosophy, Gestalt psychology, memory theory, and neurochemistry; and all in language that is easily accessible to anyone, regardless of whether you can carry a tune in a bucket or not. Read it. Love it. Pass it on. Only try to get it back afterwards. Unfortunately, my copy is still in the hands of my manager’s family in El Paso. Hopefully I can get it back one of these days. (Then again, I’m on my 9th copy of Ishmael, 6th copy of Atlas Shrugged and 3rd copy of Shampoo Planet, so probably not. I have a habit of buying books that migrate.)

For us science-fiction lovers out there, a new release of an old trilogy has hit the shelves. The Chronicles of the Black Company, from way back in the ’80s, has returned to print once more. Not individually, mind you, but in an onmibus edition that will keep you well and truly happy with life for a serious stretch of time. This is one of those books that most of the “professional” booksellers never believe would sell, but it marches straight out of the store whenever new copies arrive, in lockstep with a very happy new owner.

For you current affairs fanatics, I have three words for you: Band of Sisters. With the ever-increasing number of females serving in the military, and particularly in the Iraqi theater of operations, this is one of the first books to chronicle their stories. If I had time, I could wax poetic for hours about this book, but I would run out of metaphors far too quickly for my taste. Pick up a copy at the next possible opportunity. Just don’t ask me for one. I’m sold out.

And finally, for those fiction lovers out there, comes my one extraordinary odd choice: The Gum Thief. Of course, for those that know the Me-Behind-The-Keyboard, any Coupland novel is far from an odd choice. I’ve been a raving fanboy since I first read Generation X in college. It’s practically expected that I love and promote a new Coupland novel, sometimes before I even read it. Which, unfortunately, was what I was doing with JPod, which I tossed aside in disgust at the self-aggrandizing and self-promotion even while chortling at the occasional self-abuse. In the Gum Thief, he returns to what he does best: real people in real situation talking about their real lives… and how much they really suck. Most people wouldn’t expect a novel about a 40-something alcoholic and 20-something overweight goth girl, both working at a Staples, to be interesting. Most people would be sadly mistaken.

So what are you still reading this for? Go and read something with quality for a change. G’wan. Shoo.

[Crossposted]

December 2, 2007

Off Colfax Eats Worms: And Other Phrases Designed To Remind CD Bloggers That They Really Should Title Their Posts

Filed under: Content-lite — Off Colfax @ 12:32 am

Am I the only one that immediately thinks of this Monty Python sketch when this video starts playing?

W: THE CHURCH, IT.. ITS COMING CLOSER! ITS COMING DOWN THE ‘ILL!

M: WHAT A LIBERTY!

W: ITS TURNING INTO OUR LANE! WELL, YOU BETTER GO PUT IT OUT OF IT’S MISERY.

M: WHERE’S THIS MISSILE, THEN?

W: IT’S IN THE ATTIC. PRESS THE BUTTON MARKED CHURCH!

M: ‘OW DO I AIM IT?

W: IT AUTOMATICALLY HOMES IN ON THE NEAREST PLACE OF WORSHIP!

M: BUT THAT’S ST. MARKS!

W: IT ISN’T NOW, LOOK!! OH, ITS OP’NING THE GATE.

M: WHAT? USE THE MEGAPHONE!

W: IT’S OP’NING THE GATE!! ‘HURRY UP, ITS TRAMPLING OVER THE AZALIAS!

(Sound: Missle launch, explosion, bells diminish)

M: Did I ‘it it?

W: Yes, right up the aisle.

Yeah. Probably I am the only one that thought of that. Because I’m weird like that.

[Turn Signal: ITA]

November 16, 2007

Got Abs?

Filed under: Content-lite,Navel Gazing — Brutus @ 12:07 am

This post is truly about navel gazing. (Just trying to push Fuck Jew down the page ….) I learned about a new service called abdominal etching, which essentially gives the appearance of a washboard stomach without the need for crunches, sit-ups, and low body mass index. This WSJ article tells the story. This part in particular is pretty scary:

The procedure takes an hour or two. But pain can persist for days afterward. Swelling can last for weeks or even months. (The after picture was taken a little over a year after the surgery.) And there can be complications, such as infection and bleeding.

Here’s the picture that accompanies the story if you’re too lazy to click through:

abs

The part I really like about this is the obvious (yet unforeseen?) result when the 30-year-old guy who has this done turns into a 45-year-old couch potato with an etched beer belly. I want to see that picture in a few years.

November 10, 2007

Fuck Jew!

Filed under: Content-lite,Political Correctness — Daran @ 6:53 am

I haven’t permanently abandoned CD. Honestly, it’s just that I’ve been struggling to do any blogging at all recently. But while I’m passing through, here’s the first of a couple of quickies for you.

This is old, but probably still current:

Following is a table of the offensive language, this year’s ranking and its chart position two years ago…

WORD 2000 1998
Cunt 1 1
Motherfucker* 2 2
Fuck 3 3
Wanker* 4 4
Nigger* 5 11
Bastard 6 5
Prick 7 7
Bollocks* 8 6
Arsehole 9 9
Paki* 10 17
Shag 11 8
Whore 12 13
Twat 13 10
Piss off 14 12
Spastic 15 14
Slag 16 18
Shit 17 15
Dickhead* 18 19
Pissed off 19 16
Arse 20 20
Bugger 21 21
Balls 22 22
Jew 23 24
Sodding* 24 23
Jesus Christ 25 26
Crap 26 25
Bloody 27 27
God 28 28

The list can be divided into two groups: expletives, such as “fuck!” and “Jesus Christ!”, some of which have acceptable non-expletive uses; and epithets, such as “Nigger”.

But where does “Jew” fit in? I’ve never heard of it being used as an expletive, for Jew’s sake! So it must be an epithet.

But if we can’t call a Jewing Jew a “Jew”, what the Jew can we call him?

October 29, 2007

Daylight Saving Time is a Trap

Filed under: Content-lite — Brutus @ 12:41 am

I got caught this morning by Daylight Saving Time. It’s a public menace. The proper time to reset clocks is always the last weekend of October. So without checking, I shifted my clock last night and missed a 5K run I was meant to do because I arrived 15 min. into the race when I thought I was 45 min. ahead of time. I haven’t made the mistake of forgetting to reset my clocks in years.

The Wikipedia article has more information that I care to investigate. I find the whole business infuriating. The rationale behind DST is beyond me, I guess. It seems like a meaningless anachronism, like the academic year that still has space (summer vacation) for the harvest when only a tiny sliver of the population works in agriculture compared to the late 19th century when upwards of 90% did.

So I pouted all day long and am now taking it out on the blog. Grrr.

October 16, 2007

Velly Interesting… But Stoopid

Filed under: Content-lite — Off Colfax @ 12:00 am

Now that is what I call durability.

My only question to them is:

Will it blend?

[Turn Signal: Teh Insty]

September 8, 2007

Brain Dead Inc.

Filed under: Content-lite — Off Colfax @ 2:54 am

Here I am, going through my bookmarks, and wondering what up with this odd site.

Then I remember… I have posting privileges here.

I’m such a dumb-ass sometimes.

So I’ll leave you with a thought.

The Law Of Teenage Inertia:
An object at rest will remain at rest even  after it is acted upon by an outside force unless that force also opens the blinds,  turns the radio on loud, and takes away all the covers.

August 16, 2007

Mines and Giant Calculators and Videos, Oh My

Filed under: Blogosphere,Content-lite — Robert @ 2:07 pm

These are both pretty funny.

Minesweeper: The Movie

Don’t Stop Believing

August 9, 2007

Welcome to Mississippi

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 3:05 pm

The whole state is like this.

mississippi-signs.jpg

July 16, 2007

Where’s David?

Filed under: Blogosphere,Content-lite — Robert @ 12:56 pm

David plays the “where am I” game. I win…and now I feel like posting the bonus round. Here’s where he is, EXACTLY.

(Image below the fold.)

(more…)

July 1, 2007

Human Nature

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 2:58 am

Sometimes it makes you feel a little down. On the other hand, there is room for optimism.

I have a small writing business that works on an outsourcing basis; you have a project, you contact me, I organize a team and do the job. One of my regular sources of new writers is to go on Craigslist and post an ad for a specific project. Since I don’t know any of these people from Adam, I only do this for projects where there is a way for me to test folks before I commit any work to them, usually by soliciting a small sample (something that might take five minutes to put together).

One recent project involves writing sentences for web content (commercialism at its finest) and for whatever reason, the response was absolutely enormous; I had approximately 2200 initial inquiries in the last week. Of that lot, perhaps 1500 requested further information and were offered the chance to submit a sample (one sentence, although it’s a little more involved than that, but a trivial amount of effort involved). About 700 of them did so, and of that 700 I’ve hired about 100 and sent another 600 “thanks but no thanks” messages.

When I started writing this post I intended to go off on a bit of a rant about some of the responses I got to the “sorry” message. I’m unprofessional. I’m a bastard. I’m a thief, stealing hundreds of samples from people. (Yeah, the 600 bad sentences I got – really, the 300 bad sentences I got and the 300 submissions from people who didn’t put their submission together properly and so got an automatic axe – are so incredibly valuable that I’m going to steal them. Because I couldn’t write 300 shitty sentences on my own.) I’m this, that and the other thing. I was going to talk about how these people are clueless and rude. And of course, they are clueless and rude.

But on reflection, typing this out, it occurs to me – I really didn’t get that many hostile notes. Maybe 10, at most. They had a large impact, emotionally – because I care about what I do, and I don’t like to be labeled bad things that I am not – but really, of 600 people who got bad news, not even 2% of them had negative reactions to the level of writing a “screw you” e-mail. Further, although I did not formally count or keep them, I got at least a dozen “oh well, thanks for letting me try out for the team, coach” messages. There were actually MORE mature and thoughtful responses than jerky ones.

So – sometimes it gets you down. But there is room for optimism, too.

June 29, 2007

Queuing in Scarcity and Abundance

Filed under: Content-lite,Geekery — Brutus @ 3:43 pm

I’ve heard tell that in cultures where scarcity is commonplace, a queue formed outside the doors of a commercial establishment signals the recent delivery of goods. So without even knowing what they’re in line for, people will join the throng waiting patiently to make their purchase. It must be a no-lose situation, where the time committed to standing in line for the purchase of an item one may not really want or need can probably be transformed into profit by immediate resale of one’s purchase to someone in the back of the line whose time may be more valuable than one’s own.

In cultures where abundance is commonplace, a queue formed outside the doors of a commercial establishment signals (sometimes in advance) the delivery to market of goods without a particular perishable date but with a high desirability quotient. For instance, folks will stand in line for hours just to spend the next two hours and $20 watching the latest blockbuster movie. Or the implausible must-have Christmas gift available in limited quantities may spark competition to queue the earliest to be assured of inventory once the item goes on sale to the public. (The Friday after Thanksgiving may be the worst instance, with bargain hunters and sales hounds camped out well in advance of a store’s already ridiculously early business hours, adjusted for the season, of course.)

Today’s release of the Apple iPhone is a fairly unique (if stupid) opportunity to observe supposed scarcity amid abundance, when trend whores scurry and scamper to queue up and camp out in preparation for the first sale of a product that will probably be ubiquitous by, I dunno, maybe the middle of next week. What possible personal advantage, coolness, hipster cred, or bragging rights attach to owning the newest electronic gadget less than a week before everyone else (and by most reports, it will indeed be virtually everyone) is lost on me. Nevertheless, the stories about folks who have been camped out beside the Apple Store since last night in preparation for the 6 P.M. stampede (and trampling, rioting, snatching, scalping, etc.) fall into the can’t-make-this-shit-up category. A true sign o’ the times.

Just in case my attitude toward today’s feeding frenzy isn’t clear, I think it’s pretty pathetic, considering so many other, more important issues competing for our attention other than … shopping. Of course, mea culpa for my bothering to blog about it.

June 24, 2007

Reverse Psychology

Filed under: Content-lite,Navel Gazing — Brutus @ 7:56 pm

I suppose it had to happen eventually. As reported by the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, a number churches have begun to use reverse psychology on billboards to attract attention to their, um, cause (?). The billboards sport quotes attributed to Satan such as these:

“I Hate Victory Family Church — Satan”
“CedarCreek Church Sucks — Satan.”
“Victory Family Church stole my kids — Satan.”

I’m not too sure just yet how smart or stupid it is for churches to be (presumably) quoting Satan. In today’s culture, of course, there is little propriety left that would instruct us to regard quoting Satan as anything other than reprehensible, so I expect that lots of folks would look upon these stunts with the ideology of the day — pragmatism — which is to say, “if it works [to bring people into the church or closer to god], then it’s OK with me.”

June 23, 2007

John Crapper @ 5000 RPM

Filed under: Content-lite — Off Colfax @ 8:57 pm

The new clean electricity! All due to the paperless toilet!

Not even Teddy Kennedy could write this one off.

Are You Queen Anne?

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 3:30 pm

Are you Queen Anne?

Lollipops are Queen Anne, but suckers and candy bars are not. Paris Hilton is not Queen Anne – but Bonnie and Clyde are. (Although Clyde could not achieve it on his own, and needs his partner’s help.)

Barry (Amp) is Queen Anne, but I am not, nor is Daran. Off Colfax is Queen Anne, however. Of my relatives, Jody and Jared are not Queen Anne, but Sammy Ann is.

If you are Queen Anne, or know who and what are Queen Anne, then you may expound in the comments. 😉

(No, I’m not bored. I’m actually frantically busy. But when every fifteen seconds someone asks you to fix the computer or get a sandwich or play with chalk, you find your relief in strange ways.)

June 13, 2007

Funk Update

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 12:53 pm

Stephanie (age 4) hurt her toe yesterday and as a result is in a somewhat grumpy mood. This was heightened this morning when the DVR recording of her favorite show cut off a minute before the end, resulting in a tragic lack of resolution to the exciting saga of Ms. Frizzle and the abandoned lot. To this tableaux, add the entry of my wife, who came into the living room singing “we want the funk, give up the funk” &c.

This was apparently the last straw for Stephanie, who stormed (limped) out of the room shouting “No! No funk! No funk for anyone!”

So if you’re having a non-funky day – this is why. Our apologies, and we hope that normal levels of funk service will be restored when the Funk Princess is in a better mood.

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