Archive for August, 2013

Other Ten Percent 8/14/13

Aug 14 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Yeah I have more stuff to say about what I said yesterday now and, I think, a more productive way of framing it but I’m saving that for tomorrow. Here, now, are some links for you.
Time and Edges
A whole bunch of New Aesthetic stuff can kinda be summed up as “the internet is a living document and people forget that a lot. Also, drones I guess.”
via The New Aesthetic http://new-aesthetic.tumblr.com/
August 12, 2013 at 08:00AM
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The story of America’s oldest solved cold case
Science Justice! This fall on Fox.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 12, 2013 at 07:13AM
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Space Truffle
You know I thought this was super cool but assumed it was a 3D printing blog post or something and hadn’t realized it heralded the return of BLDGBLOG.
via BLDGBLOG http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/
August 12, 2013 at 11:10AM
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What causes an ice cream headache?
Science has failed us.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 12, 2013 at 09:51AM
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iPhone 6 Infinity
Apple rumors got a lot more fun once we realized that they didn’t have to make even a cursory attempt to conform to reality.
via kottke.org http://kottke.org/
August 12, 2013 at 09:53AM
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First bone tools suggest Neanderthals taught us skills
When A.I. does eventually destroy us I take some sollace in the fact that we kinda had it coming for doing the exact same thing to the Neanderthals.
via New Scientist – Online news http://www.newscientist.com/
August 12, 2013 at 12:00PM
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Rare Vintage Maps From the Prelinger Library in San Francisco
Woah the 1939 world’s fair was on Treasure Island? I…nobody tells me nothing about the history of this town. As far as I’ve ever been informed it’s basically Earthquake——>Hippies—–>Harvey Milk—–> I arrive in town.
via Laughing Squid http://laughingsquid.com
August 12, 2013 at 11:35AM
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Voices Loom
Meanwhile with the very first photo of this post I was like “Oh man, BLDGBLOG is back!?!”
via BLDGBLOG http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/
August 12, 2013 at 09:14AM
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Elon Musk’s hyperloop can’t escape the high cost of infrastructure development
Seeing as I’m in SF my social media channels have been really excited about this and I gotta say….I kinda think it’s bullshit. I mean as MKB says here you could certainly build this thing but Elon Musk’s unwavering certainty that government has no idea what it’s doing and he’s got it all figured out has always raised some questions for me. I mean obviously government projects DO waste time and money but I’ve never been entirely sure why Elon Musk magically won’t do the same. It’s a tempting dream to say that business would magically fix government inefficiency because government is inefficient as fuck but it turns out inefficiencies of scale still exist even for startups when you’re actually interfacing with physical reality. Big projects require a whole lot of moving parts which means a whole lot of opportunities for people to waste time and money. The law of imperfect mobilization of interests rains on the just and the unjust alike. I mean the government at least has a track record of delivering things after they’re due and for too much money a 60 billion dollar train that actually gets me to L.A. seems like a much better investment than giving Elon Musk 6 billion dollars and waiting a decade to see if this’ll actually work out the way he wants it to. If tech billionaires actually were able to outdo the government at building the huge infrastructure they’ve wanted in the past I’d be more willing to bet on the hyperloop but I’d also be doing that on a moonbase we set up from the first round of privately funded space projects 20 years ago.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 13, 2013 at 08:48AM
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The surprising ages of the Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776
History makes so much more sense if you know how old everybody was when it was happening. For instance did you know that Alexander Hamilton was a huge dick AND ALSO barely of drinking age? That really puts some things together doesn’t it?
via kottke.org http://kottke.org/
August 13, 2013 at 08:33AM
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Other Ten Percent 8/13/13

Aug 13 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

So my main plan for the day was to just talk about the Omni Reboot but to be honest I’ve kinda been dragging my heels about it all afternoon because I can’t really figure out what it is I want to say. The actual site itself is…I mean it’s as good as a publication that just launched can be when it’s still feeling out the ratio of homage and striking out on its own it has to do in the shadow of an original print publication.

Claire Evans is pretty awesome of course. There’s a good interview with a DIY biohacker from her for instance. Though I’m slightly more incredulous about transhumanism going anywhere in this specific direction I’ve got to admit that as a subculture they’ve certainly solved the barrier to entry problem of the internet age. It’s too easy for your subculture to get swallowed up in the swirling cultural ethos? Why not make the ante CUTTING OPEN YOUR OWN HAND AND SHOVING A MAGNET IN THERE. That should keep the club pretty exclusive. Serious offers only.

I figured a new Bruce Sterling short story on there would give me plenty to talk about but then it turned out I didn’t actually like the story very much. I always feel vaguely uncomfortable when I don’t really like a Sterling jam. Not because I feel somehow obligated to enjoy everything he does or because I think he’s always right. I mean Sterling’s obviously capable of being wrong, this is a guy who thought we’d be able to fix climate change with the power of good design for the love of God. Most of the time when people proclaim him to be wrong about something they’re loudly and publicly refusing to reassess their own ignorance so now that I’m on their team I’m worried I’m missing something obvious.

My only sollace is that main problem with the story isn’t philosophical (spoiler alert Bruce Sterling would still like you to know that the internet is SUPER ephemeral and is fascinated by the entertainment industry) but literary: there’s a decent alternate history story here and a decent Sterling lecture about the ways we’ve devalued art and culture and a halfway decent love story…though I’m maybe grading on a curve with that last one. Point is they’re all sketched so broadly I find myself wishing I got the full version of any of those things. Maybe that’s the point? The lack of cohesion serving as a way to underline the story’s underlying message that all stories are frustratingly incomplete these days? Or maybe I’m just trying way to hard to find some through-line in a story that just didn’t hit me right.

Honestly the whole project still isn’t hitting me right just yet. In her first post as the new editor of Omni Evans says a lot of smart stuff about the new Omni and its relationship to the old magazine as well as its relationship to the future but I’m not sure its quite living up to that statement of purpose yet. I don’t just mean because a lot of the initial articles seem to be looking backwards rather than forwards. Wallowing in a bit of nostalgia at the start of things seems like a logical way to kick things off, get the original Omni worship out of the system before starting up the new machine. Instead I’m concerned because the visions of the future here seem so…retro-futuristic. I mean we’re still caught in the dichotomy between creating some sort of agrarian past-future and trying to innovate ourself past the looming apocalypse? These are really the best options we’re coming up with? Still?

I could use this to transition to a whole other rant but I’m kinda tired and frankly I feel shitty spending this whole post ripping apart an effort that’s an incredibly promising start because it’s not all the way there yet. It’s just the kind of almost right that bothers me though. The futurist equivalent of a loose thread I can’t help but pull at despite knowing that does me no good.

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Other Ten Percent 8/12/13

Aug 12 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Woah hey guys it’s Monday now. Weekends can get kinda crazy. Anyway there were a lot of things on the internet that I thought maybe you would like to see so I am presenting them here in this newsletter/blog post. Enjoy!
What it’s like to be a bartender in Antarctica
Man I’m now going to be super disapointed if that isn’t the concept for the main character of Helix.
via io9 http://io9.com
August 11, 2013 at 09:30AM
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Could this gloomy song really inspire a person to commit suicide?
I dunno, is it sadder than Evaporated by Ben Folds? Because I don’t care if it’s the best day of my life if that thing comes up on shuffle while I’m on a bridge and I don’t notice and skip tracks before the end I’m probably hopping over the side.
via io9 http://io9.com
August 11, 2013 at 07:00AM
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Mark Millar and Todd McFarlane: Ladies, Comics Aren’t For You
Man I have been saying this for straight up a decade now way before I had the guts to just stop reading mainstream comics: Mark Millar is a dick. I would have said the same thing about Todd McFarlane but I don’t think anybody would be shocked by that.
via io9 http://io9.com
August 10, 2013 at 07:21PM
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Head of DC Comics: “We don’t publish comics for kids. We publish comics for 45-year-olds”
You know what I….just maybe let’s skip actually reading comics for a while, the real action is in superhero adaptations right now.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 10, 2013 at 06:28PM
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How Twitter has changed the way that television is made
I really wish the guy who makes Gravity Falls was included in this because he talks about this phenomenon at length ON HIS TWITTER ACCOUNT. He made a fun animated show that included cyphers and conspiracies as kind of a side thing and within like 2 hours of his show airing people were going crazy trying to decipher everything he’d done kind of on a whim. This was a KIDS SHOW. It’s been interesting to watch the show evolve to awknowledge that with the incredibly long lead time of an animated show.
via io9 http://io9.com
August 10, 2013 at 04:00PM
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Unsupervised AI makes up some pretty funny jokes
This is funnier than pretty much any stand-up I’ve seen in SF except for Nikki’s. It’s basically what I wish my attempts at standup could be.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 09, 2013 at 07:48PM
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Weird Facts You Never Knew About H.G. Wells’ Movie, Things to Come
Starting with “WOAH WOAH WOAH WOAH WOAH, H.G. Wells made a movie!?!”
via io9 http://io9.com
August 09, 2013 at 04:00PM
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Fantasy Features: Every Home Needs A Champagne Buzzer
I’ve never been more upset to see a post was from Apartment Therapy and not Make Magazine in my life. Don’t tease me like this! HOW DO I INSTALL A CHAMPAGNE BUZZER!?
via Apartment Therapy | Saving the world, one room at a time http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/feedburnermain
August 09, 2013 at 07:30AM
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Making of The Private Eye
Okay comics can stick around but let’s maybe just stick to the digital ones for a while to be safe?
via io9 http://io9.com
August 08, 2013 at 12:32PM
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How Upvote/Downvote Sites like Reddit Breed Irrational Herd Behavior
This kind of articulates stuff I’ve been trying to say about how the design of Reddit and the way its moderation is organized actually can and SHOULD be blamed for what a horrible haven for terrible racist/homophobic/sexist/pedophilic awful people Reddit can be sometimes better than I’ve managed in a year of actively ranting against it.
via io9 http://io9.com
August 08, 2013 at 01:10PM
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Other Ten Percent 8/9/13

Aug 09 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Trying to knock this out so I can go do some more writing. Hopefully without going insane like I did yesterday though given how depressed these edits are making me that seems…unlikely.
Person Writes Elaborate Story For Craigslist Missed Connection Ad
I think we can pretty much shut Craigslist down now. It’s all down-hill from here.
via Laughing Squid http://laughingsquid.com
August 08, 2013 at 09:43AM
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Showtime: The Abramovic Method Practiced by Lady Gaga
Between this and the really bizarre leaked single Lady Gaga seems to finally be going for the second order weirdness I was hoping she’d do on her last album. She didn’t switch from Warhol to italian futurism but this is a pretty good substitution there.
via Beyond The Beyond http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond
August 08, 2013 at 05:05AM
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Her, New Spike Jonze Film Stars Joaquin Phoenix As a Man Who Falls In Love With His OS
I can’t quite tell from this trailer if the movie’s going to thread the needle between “a commentary on a manic pixie dream so extreme she was literally created for him” and “actually blowing up the dumb duality between the digitial and the ‘real’ that is a staple of every falling in love with/in a virtual environment story.” I really hope so though and with the news the Arcade Fire did the soundtrack I’m probably going to need to figure that out in person.
via Laughing Squid http://laughingsquid.com
August 07, 2013 at 04:01PM
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Computer-generated music has a soul
One of two seperate stories today that should have been a science-fiction short story 5 years ago. This one was a really out there Rudy Rucker jam about computers figuring out humanity entirely through their mathematical principles underlying aesthetic beauty and slowly awakening to their own aesthetic sensibilities and creating music that inspires themselves rather than humanity.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 07, 2013 at 08:21AM
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If you don’t like Bee and PuppyCat, you are dead inside
Maybe the most accurate headline I’ve ever had in OTP.
via io9 http://io9.com
August 08, 2013 at 12:05PM
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The prisoner’s dilemma, in real life
Turns out prisoners are better than college students. Who knew? Besides anybody who’s had extended contact with college students I mean.
via kottke.org http://kottke.org/
August 08, 2013 at 12:17PM
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3D Printed Hermit Crab Cities
New best use of 3D printing.
via Fabbaloo Blog http://fabbaloo.com/blog/
August 08, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Great debunked scientific theories of yesteryear
People in the past were super stupid. I’m sure we’re not and I’ll never regret saying that.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 08, 2013 at 10:09AM
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Omni Reboot Boots Up
Woah woah woah. The girl from YACHT is behind this? The Omni Reboot just jumped up 30 points on my give-a-fuck-ometer.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 08, 2013 at 10:05AM
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How To Deal With An Old 3D Printer
Here’s the other short story. Bruce Sterling on a start-up in the 2040s trying to “disrupt” the 3D printing space using the spare capacity of a generation of outdated 3D printers.
via Fabbaloo Blog http://fabbaloo.com/blog/
August 08, 2013 at 10:00AM
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Other Ten Percent 8/8/13

Aug 08 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

I wrote a lot of words today which is good because I’ve only been writing a moderate amount of words for a while now and that’s gotten kinda worrying. Unfortunately it’s also bad because now that I’m writing OTP my brain’s like “whaaaaaaaaat More words? You’re crazy!” So when this is like 400 words long and only semi-coherent know that it’s not my brain’s fault and its doing its best.

For instance my brain can’t really distinguish between things I’ve talked about in OTP and stuff I’ve just kinda bullshitted to Nikki or Jane. The Venn-Diagram of those two looks a hell of a lot like one circle so it’s kinda hard to recall where there’s NOT overlap. If I’ve talked at length about Donald Glover as the future of entertainment before then this shit is going to be hella repetitive. Sorry.

Still, now seems like a good time to bring up the topic again considering that he just got his own TV show deal and it’s a deal he only took since it explicitly LET HIM KEEP ANOTHER JOB SIMULTANEOUSLY. I actually saw Donald Glover excitedly retweet somebody saying “the future of entertaining looks like Donald Glover” and I’m not TOTALLY sure that was meant as a compliment. It’s almost certainly true, and that’s exciting if you’re a fan of multi-talented performers who can turn on a dime between different genres or even different media, but it’s also kinda terrifying if you want to BE an entertainer because it implies that the “work 3 jobs simultaneously to make shit work” realities of the new economy are actually trickling up even to even areas that used to just make you super rich if you were halfway decent at them. I certainly don’t think Donald Glover would be hurting for cash even if he decided to ONLY have a moderately successful rap career OR his own cable show but the dude’s relentless drive to EGOT as soon as humanly possible does seem to be as much a pragmatic decision in an uncertain entertainment industry as anything.

There’s a relevant Bruce Sterling quote, as there always is whenever I’ve decided to talk about the future for more than 50 words: whatever happens to musicians will happen to everyone. Making albums is just one of the many jobs for musicians these days, arguably the least important for the vast majority of them. While Donald Glover makes this especially explicit considering he IS a musician and he’s making damn sure it happens everywhere else you can see echos of this in pretty much every other comedian I like. Scott Aukerman has his own show on IFC but instead of using that as a chance to ditch his podcast he seems to have doubled down on it and actually seems to be using the TV show each year as a kind of publicity tool for a yearly comedy tour (that’s totally worth the cash if it’s coming through your town by the way!) and that’s fast becoming the rule and not the exception for comedy shows.

I’d do more of these and some speculation of what that’ll look like when it seeps into dramatic programing (here’s a hint: it’s already started to!) but like I say, brain problems with the words and the sentences. I’m frankly amazed I made it this far. I’m pretty sure I had more on this when I left for the office this morning so possibly more on this on Tuesday. Or those thoughts are forever lost to the aether and it’s knowledge humanity will never regain. Either way have a fun weekend people!

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Other Ten Percent 8/7/13

Aug 07 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Sorry again about spacing out on sending out OTP. This one should go significantly more smoothly.
Voice Tunnel, New York City’s Park Avenue Tunnel Transformed into Sound & Light Installation
New York has really upped its installation art game since I left.
via Laughing Squid http://laughingsquid.com
August 05, 2013 at 11:03AM
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This gadget makes it easy to block a surveillance camera
Just saving this in case anybody’s writing a pilot about the surveillance state in 10 years when it’s reached consumer levels of affordability.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 05, 2013 at 08:39AM
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Bruce Sterling: The Ecuadorian Library
Pretty much the best commentary on the Snowden leak I’ve seen unsurprisingly. Also unsurprisingly the suggestion that the EFF might not be all that well equipped to fight back against these NSA programs drove Cory Doctorow round the bend when this thing came out.
via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net
August 05, 2013 at 08:12AM
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Heard Records Audio In The Background, Saves The Last Five Minutes
I could see this being really convenient if it can actually pick stuff up at a decent quality.
via Lifehacker http://lifehacker.com
August 04, 2013 at 03:00PM
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Star Trek is much sillier when voiced by the cast of Archer
I would watch the hell out of this reboot.
via io9 http://io9.com
August 04, 2013 at 09:30AM
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What happened the night Niagara Falls stopped flowing
How come whenever cool stuff happens in history somebody always thinks it’s the world coming to an end? Do you think that’s just totally blown out of proportion and “some people thought the world was ending” is what they’re going to say about, like, 9/11 in 100 years?
via io9 http://io9.com
August 04, 2013 at 09:00AM
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Inside an Amazon Warehouse Amazon must rely on barcodes and…
Chaotic Storage is my new favorite term.
via The New Aesthetic http://new-aesthetic.tumblr.com/
August 06, 2013 at 08:00AM
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Chelyabinsk Meteor May Be Part of Larger Pack Threatening Earth
So says astronomer Jerry Bruckheimer.
via io9 http://io9.com
August 06, 2013 at 08:00AM
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100 Perfect Books
Awesome kids books.
via The Hairpin http://thehairpin.com
August 06, 2013 at 06:45AM
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Say, ma’am, that’s a pretty good review of a pair of pants.
When I wanted Minimum Viable Wardrobe to be a thing this was pretty much what I wanted it to be.
via Beyond The Beyond http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond
August 06, 2013 at 12:22AM
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Other Ten Percent 8/6/13

Aug 06 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

So I can’t really remember if AVClub has covered this specifically or not, it seems like the kind of thing they should write a For Our Consideration but that column seem to be busy being the the Gen X equivalent of “old man yells at cloud.” Anyway, if they haven’t then they should probably talk about it because it’s super interesting: shows and movies are making back their entire budgets before they’re ever even released with startling regularity these days. Most of the coverage I’ve seen about this phenomenon has used it to complain about how horribly out of control product placement has gotten like this article on how Smurfs 2 got it’s entire $150 million price tag covered by product placement. Presumably the film would have been one of the crowning artistic achievements in cinema this year if it weren’t for all those awkward lines about buying a Prius.
As you might imagine I’m more interested in it as a way to actually finance art that wouldn’t exist otherwise.
CBS’s daring bet on original programming in the summer, Under the Dome, seems a lot less daring once you know that the show had all of its production costs paid for before it ever aired as well every time the show comes on CBS makes money and if the ratings get bad they can make the (pretty reasonable) case to advertisers that ratings in the summer were never going to be GREAT. It’s basically a win-win cash cow so long as advertisers are willing to pay CBS pretty much anything which maybe explains why the show seems to have developed an annoying habit of running in place each week rather than burning through the plot of Steven King’s novel at a decent clip but it’s also the kind of high-concept sci-fi show nerds always complain networks are never willing to pony up the cash for.
Meanwhile, just about the only hour long NBC has that’s worth a damn right now, Hannibal, just got renewed for a second season and while NBC’s holding it up as an example of how they’ll stand behind quality programing (critics generally love it, especially as a way to say they don’t hate violence they just think The Following is a shitty show and people should stop watching it) pretty much everybody agrees that it only avoided the axe because it’s absurdly fucking cheap for NBC thanks to foreign co-production which is not a thing I see much in discussion of the actual show that’s airing since it’s a Brian Fuller jam and like all Brian Fuller jams it’s art directed to the edge of its fucking life (and beyond in this case. Haha serial killers) and is probably the best looking show on TV each week.
Between this and the recent revival of Pacific Rim’s fortunes thanks to a lot of international ticket sales there’s a decent argument to be made that the way popular culture imagines a “successful” piece of mass market entertainment has gotten hilariously out of step with what it actually takes to make a profit. It seems like people are finally waking up to the fact that this is the case in small ways since networks are making a bigger deal out of “time shifted viewing” numbers each and every year to the point that FX now kind of takes it as a weird point of pride that shows like The Americans have double or triple their “ratings” if you consider everybody that Tivo’d it. The film equivalent is probably overseas ticket sales but both of these metrics which are just now reaching any kind of common acceptance are also starting to seem startlingly outdated themselves. I’m not sure I know anybody under 30 with an actual cable box at this point and the weird vagaries of what actually gets people to go to a theater these days could be a whole week of blog posts. Man I wish I had some super efficient solution to this to tie up the problem but I actually think the market may have found its solution already: who gives a crap about the problems of audience metrics in the digital age when you can just make the think profitable before the audience even shows up?

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Other Ten Percent 8/5/13

Aug 05 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

I think we can now officially say that all things being equal OTP will eventually revert back to today’s “10 items with some commentary” format. Everything else seems to either take too much time out of my week or leaves me feeling like I’m morally deficient in some way. 10 entries without any commentary just makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong every time I press the post button and while at first that was the fun kind of rule-breaking like the image in your head of smoking in high-school it eventually just kinda became sad. Like actually smoking in high-school. I’m going to stick to just trying some stuff out on tuesday and thursday because I’d like to have some outlet to break out of this format so I don’t keep eventually snapping because I’ve done it too long but we’ll see. Continue Reading »

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Other Ten Percent 8/2/13

Aug 02 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Alright then. Hey everybody and welcome to Friday where I hope I don’t have jury duty because if not then I’m free. I’ve been enjoying actually writing some OTP again so I’m probably going to try and keep that up and hope that it goes okay. Continue Reading »

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Other Ten Percent 8/1/13

Aug 01 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Welcome to August everybody let’s…let’s hope it’s better than July? I mean even if your July was awesome let’s hope that. My July ended on a pretty strong note with the Killer Mike/El-P concert where Killer Mike was awesome, Kool A.D. was awesome, Despot was pretty great and has a new album produced by Ratatat where I hope “coming soon” actually means it will come out in the near future, and El-P…had some unfortunate song choices and even more unfortunate levels. I couldn’t understand songs I actually knew except insofar as to go “really? That one…hoooooo boy.” He was great when he and Killer Mike were performing together but he was weirdly the low point of the evening. Continue Reading »

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