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THREE THOTS ON YOOTOOB
Jun 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey
  1. Last Friday evening, a long line of excited but patient teenage girls gathered outside the Showbox. They were going to something called “Digitour O2L” (Our 2nd Life). That isn’t an electronic dance music ensemble, but a package tour of hot looking young men who simply post “video diary” monologues onto YouTube. These six idols (ages 15-21) don’t sing; they don’t dance. They just talk about stuff. And, with the nurturing attention of a couple of hotshot promoters, they’re raking in the bucks.
  2. YouTube itself, and its Google masters, are trying to make monetizable sense of a big part of the streaming video site’s offerings. One tactic is a subscription-based music service, to start some time this year. The company’s reached contracts with the Big Three (formerly Big Six) record companies. Smaller labels, though, are balking at YouTube’s proposed terms. As CNet describes the situation, “the massive video site requested the smaller labels automatically give up their royalty rate if a major label agrees to something lower.” YouTube is threatening to remove all videos from its main site by musicians whose labels don’t sign on for the subscription service. This could effect affect as much as 5 percent of all the music tracks on the site. There are plenty of other streaming-clip sites out there where these acts and/or their fans can place clips; but none of them has YouTube’s recognition or market share.
  3. Those other video sites also don’t have the massive inventory of clips YouTube can offer on its “Recommended For You” page, where so many users/viewers first find so much new and/or intriguing stuff. Why, just the other day that page referred me to Two Breaths To…, an educational film produced by Hanna-Barbera for a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor. Hanford, Hanna-Barbera, the late beloved Casey Kasem narrating, and gruesome animated deaths—what’s not to love?

Two Breaths To…

WORDS ABOUT PICTURES SUBSTITUTING FOR WORDS
Jun 19th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

There’s an international committee that creates standards for online typefaces. It’s called the Unicode Consortium.

It recently announced a new set of more than 250 pictographic symbols (also known by the Japanese term “emoji”). They’ll be available in a chat room or on a smartphone near you as soon as Microsoft, Apple, Google, et al. get around to adding them.

The consortium’s announcement listed some of these new symbols with verbal descriptions. They include:

  • Thermometer
  • Black Droplet
  • White Sun
  • White Sun With Small Cloud
  • White Sun Behind Cloud
  • White Sun Behind Cloud With Rain
  • Fog
  • Wind Blowing Face
  • Hot Pepper
  • Fork And Knife With Plate
  • Heart With Tip On The Left
  • Musical Keyboard With Jacks
  • Studio Microphone
  • Level Slider
  • Control Knobs
  • Beamed Ascending Musical Notes
  • Beamed Descending Musical Notes
  • Film Frames
  • Admission Tickets
  • Sports Medal
  • Weight Lifter
  • Golfer
  • Racing Motorcycle
  • Racing Car
  • Snow Capped Mountain
  • Building Construction
  • House Buildings
  • Cityscape
  • Derelict House Building
  • Classical Building
  • Desert
  • Desert Island
  • National Park
  • Stadium
  • White Pennant
  • Black Pennant
  • Waving White Flag
  • Waving Black Flag
  • Chipmunk
  • Eye
  • Camera With Flash
  • Film Projector
  • Portable Stereo
  • Lower Right Shadowed White Circle
  • Upper Right Shadowed White Circle
  • Notched Right Semicircle With Three Dots
  • Dove Of Peace
  • Right Speaker
  • Right Speaker With One Sound Wave
  • Right Speaker With Three Sound Waves
  • Bullhorn
  • Bullhorn With Sound Waves
  • Ringing Bell
  • Book
  • Candle
  • Mantelpiece Clock
  • Black Skull And Crossbones
  • No Piracy
  • Hole
  • Man In Business Suit Levitating
  • Sleuth Or Spy
  • Dark Sunglasses
  • Spider
  • Spider Web
  • Joystick
  • White Touchtone Telephone
  • Black Touchtone Telephone
  • Telephone On Top Of Modem
  • Clamshell Mobile Phone
  • Back Of Envelope
  • Stamped Envelope
  • Envelope With Lightning
  • Flying Envelope
  • Pen Over Stamped Envelope
  • Linked Paperclips
  • Black Pushpin
  • Lower Left Pencil
  • Lower Left Ballpoint Pen
  • Lower Left Fountain Pen
  • Lower Left Paintbrush
  • Lower Left Crayon
  • Left Writing Hand
  • Turned Ok Hand Sign
  • Raised Hand With Fingers Splayed
  • Reversed Raised Hand With Fingers Splayed
  • Reversed Thumbs Up Sign
  • Reversed Thumbs Down Sign
  • Reversed Victory Hand
  • Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended
  • Raised Hand With Part Between Middle And Ring Fingers
  • Black Hard Shell Floppy Disk
  • White Hard Shell Floppy Disk
  • Soft Shell Floppy Disk
  • Tape Cartridge
  • Wired Keyboard
  • One Button Mouse
  • Two Button Mouse
  • Three Button Mouse
  • Trackball
  • Old Personal Computer
  • Hard Disk
  • Screen
  • Printer Icon
  • Fax Icon
  • Optical Disc Icon
  • Document With Text
  • Document With Text And Picture
  • Document With Picture
  • Frame With Picture
  • Frame With Tiles
  • Frame With An X
  • Black Folder
  • Folder
  • Open Folder
  • Card Index Dividers
  • Card File Box
  • File Cabinet
  • Empty Note
  • Empty Note Page
  • Empty Note Pad
  • Note
  • Note Page
  • Note Pad
  • Empty Document
  • Empty Page
  • Empty Pages
  • Document
  • Page
  • Pages
  • Wastebasket
  • Spiral Note Pad
  • Spiral Calendar Pad
  • Desktop Window
  • Minimize
  • Maximize
  • Overlap
  • Clockwise Right And Left Semicircle Arrows
  • Cancellation X
  • Increase Font Size Symbol
  • Decrease Font Size Symbol
  • Compression
  • Old Key
  • Rolled-Up Newspaper
  • Page With Circled Text
  • Stock Chart
  • Dagger Knife
  • Lips
  • Speaking Head In Silhouette
  • Three Rays Above
  • Three Rays Below
  • Three Rays Left
  • Three Rays Right
  • Left Speech Bubble
  • Right Speech Bubble
  • Two Speech Bubbles
  • Three Speech Bubbles
  • Left Thought Bubble
  • Right Thought Bubble
  • Left Anger Bubble
  • Right Anger Bubble
  • Mood Bubble
  • Lightning Mood Bubble
  • Lightning Mood
  • Ballot Box With Ballot
  • World Map
  • Slightly Frowning Face
  • Slightly Smiling Face
  • Hollow Quilt Square Ornament
  • Solid Quilt Square Ornament
  • Leftwards Rocket
  • Upwards Rocket
  • Rightwards Rocket
  • Downwards Rocket
  • Very Heavy Solidus
  • Very Heavy Reverse Solidus
  • Checker Board
  • Reverse Checker Board
  • Triangle With Rounded Corners
  • Prohibited Sign
  • Circled Information Source
  • Boys Symbol
  • Girls Symbol
  • Couch And Lamp
  • Sleeping Accommodation
  • Shopping Bags
  • Bellhop Bell
  • Bed
  • Hammer And WrenchOil Drum
  • Motorway
  • Railways Track
  • Motor Boat
  • Up-Pointing Military Airplane
  • Up-Pointing Airplane
  • Up-Pointing Small Airplane
  • Airplane Departure
  • Airplane Arriving
  • Satellite
  • Oncoming Fire Engine
TODAY IN OWN-TAIL-EATING, INTERNET STYLE
Jun 19th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Apparently, there are deliberately annoying (male) online “trolls” (in the days of dial-up bulletin board systems, we called them “twits”) who have conspired to promote fake “feminist” Twitter slogans. Their idea was to make feminists as a whole appear to be just as stupid and sexist as these trolls themselves are. They (or at least many of them) got caught.

But also, apparently there are also Twitter trolls who have conspired to promote a made-up meme about “bikini bridges” (defined as an open space under the top of a bikini bottom, between the hips).

But what makes this operation even dorkier is that the same trolls, under a variety of online pseudonyms, are orchestrating fake “grassroots” comments both promoting and denouncing this supposedly “viral” hashtag obsession.

Some people, clearly, have just too much time on their hands.

RANDOM QUESTIONS
May 26th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

sony pictures tv via wellesley.edu

I’m still not back to posting Random Links posts (at least not without re-thinking their whole format).

But today, I have some random questions:

  • If you know that advertising/media images about people like you are lying, why would you ever believe such images about anyone else?
  • Why do most “do what you love, the money will follow” books presume that everybody already has money?
  • If “not all men” are rude or violent creeps (which is true), how can those who aren’t convert (or at least disarm) those who are?
  • If “content is king,” the thing that gets and keeps people going to one website instead of another, why do so many dotcoms pay six-figure salaries to programmers but expect writers and artists to work for free?
  • Could I ever deserve to be the man of a woman as smokin’ smart as Jeopardy! champ Julia Collins?
RANDOM LINKS FOR 1/15/14
Jan 14th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

funhousedocumentary.com

  • Some folks have made a documentary about the Funhouse, that greatly-missed bastion of DIY loud n’ live music. It should screen some time this spring.
  • Buried in a list of various cineastes’ top 10s of ’13 is the announcement that SIFF will indeed return to the now-shuttered Egyptian Theater for this year’s festival, and is working to reopen the festival’s traditional “home base” for year-round screenings.
  • Norman Durkee, 1949-2014: Teatro ZinZanni’s original music director was a musical polymath. He produced early punk 45s, put out TV-advertised new age piano LPs, worked on stage musicals and dance performances, and performed recitals of jazz and modern classical tuneage.
  • Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was seen in an online video clip with local pompous homophobic/sexist pastor Mark Driscoll. This does not mean Wilson necessarily endorses anything Driscoll says.
  • King County will move forward with Plan C (at least) to save Metro Transit from drastic cuts, declining to wait for the professional Seattle-haters in the State Senate to become sane.
  • Meanwhile, in state-politician-friendly transportation (i.e. cars and roads only), the Waterfront tunnel project has a lot more problems than just a steel pipe in the way.
  • The long-delayed Tacoma Amtrak station now, thankfully, won’t replace half of the Freighthouse Square mini-mall.
  • Finally, a practical use for those “tiny houses” you sometimes see pictures of, cute micro-cottages usually depicted surrounded by pristine countryside with no humans or other buildings in sight. In Olympia, 30 of them are being used as transitional units for the previously homeless.
  • Misadventures in Clickbait Dept.: Two companies supply most of those often-silly “Around the Web” or “Recommended for You” link boxes on otherwise “serious” news sites.
  • Is “Net Neutrality” (the policy that service providers can’t give preferential speed/access treatment to certain websites) really “dead”? No. The FCC simply has to rewrite its rules around the technicalities of a court decision.
  • Fox News anonymously created its own pro-Fox News blog. Yes, it’s hilarious and chock full O’ stereotypes.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 1/6/14
Jan 6th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

the columbian

  • A “lost roll of film” depicting Mt. St. Helens just weeks before its 1980 eruption, by a newspaper photographer who died while covering it, was found. The paper had to go to a Portland lab, which had to further outsource it to a freelancer, to get the b/w images processed.
  • The Illinois company now calling itself Boeing gets gazillions in Wash. state tax breaks. Workers lose pension protections. The state government’s financial/tax structure became even more un-reformable. This might have been the best we could get. (Now to get some real competition by inviting Airbus to our state.)
  • What’s been stalling the tunnel digging machine on the waterfront? As a certain French painter wouldn’t say, “This actually is a pipe.”
  • Who would pour gasoline down the stairs at Neighbours on Broadway on New Year’s, attempting to destroy Seattle’s “anchor” gay dance club and some 750 revelers? Oh yeah, some heartless bigot (not yet found) who probably thinks it was the “Christian” thing to do.
  • Longtime, legendary, local street trumpeter Richard Peterson has announced his “last day on the street.” For at least the fourth time.
  • The anonymous “trio of mouthy broads” behind local blog Seattlish offers “a retrospective on how Seattle treated Mike McGinn.” Their essential premise: we didn’t deserve him.
  • After winning RuPaul’s Drag Race and starring in a hit production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jinkx Monsoon’s next big thing will be a bio-documentary film.
  • A self described “straight male” fan of first-person-shooter video games says the term “gamer,” and the often-sexist-jerkish subculture it represents, have got to go.
  • National Political Punditry Dept.: Margaret Flowers and Kezin Zeese at Truthout claim the populist-Left movement of “winning over the hearts and minds of the American people” is progressing along just fine; Valerie Tarico at Alternet sez the to-do over a “reality” TV celeb’s homophobia/racism helps prove “religious fundamentalism is going down”; and Mary Bell Lockhart at OpEdNews deconstructs a few of the lies that “ultraconservatives think they know for sure.”
  • First Roger Ebert goes. Now one of the longtime contributors to RogerEbert.com, local film critic and all around good guy Jeff Shannon, succumbed to pneumonia following years of various illnesses. A quadraplegic for most of his life, following an accident during his younger years, he was an advocate for the disabled and once wrote that “Happiness is a choice.”
RANDOM LINKS FOR 12/3/13
Dec 3rd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

RANDOM LINKS FOR 12/2/13
Dec 1st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

A long-delayed batch of randomosity (the first in more than a month) begins with the discovery of the newest local “mainstream microbrew.” Underachiever Lager appears to have begun as a promo vehicle for Tacoma designer-casual-wear company Imperial Motion, but is now being rolled out as its own thang in select local bars.

  • The countdown to the possible decimation of King County Metro Transit continues, with professional Seattle-haters in the Legislature officially not giving a damn.
  • Could the Seattle Monorail Project really be brought back from the dead?
  • About eighteen years past due and not a moment too soon, there’s finally a local music show back on local TV. It’s Band in Seattle, and it airs at 11 p.m. Saturdays on the once-mighty KSTW (which hasn’t had any local programming in ages).
  • Dj and promoter Derek Mazzone offers a fond remembrance of Ace Hotel/ARO.Space/Tasty Shows/Rudy’s Barbershop entrepreneur Alex Canderwood.
  • We must also say goodbye to Dee Dee Rainbow, a longtime Meany Middle School art teacher, a fixture at just about every jazz show in the region, and a figure of joy and celebration wherever she went.
  • As has been expected, a mega-developer is buying the old “Fairview Fannie” Seattle Times HQ. The 1930 art deco façade features might be retained.
  • Monica Guzman has seen one of Amazon’s new “webisode” sitcoms and finds it to be a dreary dude-fest with female characters decidedly de-emphasized.
  • Sinan Demirel at Crosscut remembers homeless-housing projects of the past, and ponders whether they contain any lessons for today.
  • Is there really such a thing as “The Seattle ‘No,’” depicted as a passive-aggressive copout response? I’ve certainly had few problems saying a firm “No” to questions just like this one.
  • City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant isn’t even in office yet and the carpers, local and national, are already circling.
  • The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is in severe financial straits and might not survive.
  • One of my fave hangouts, Bill’s Off Broadway at Pine and Harvard, closes Monday nite. Yep, redevelopment strikes again. The pizza/pasta joint and sports bar has already opened an exile location on Greenwood Avenue, and should be back in the rebuilt corner in 20 months’ time.
  • To the surprise of very few, David Meinert and his partner Jason Lajuenesse are taking over the Comet Tavern.
  • Matt Driscoll at Seattle Weekly describes Boeing’s single, unacceptable, set of take-it-or-leave-it demands for labor givebacks as the “dick move of the week.” But don’t worry; billionaire CEOs have made plenty of dick moves just in the two weeks since then.
  • Lemme get this straight: A local ad agency is trying to convince other ad agencies to make ads here in Wash. state by playing on the image of this as a place where people don’t like being advertised to. Or something like that.
  • KIRO-TV salaciously described the sidewalks surrounding City Hall Park and the Morrison Hotel as “The Most Dangerous Block in Seattle.” A local merchant there begs to differ, and asks that the down n’ out be treated with “your hope, not your contempt.”
  • We’re learning that every time there’s a closed subculture run by leaders who demand total obedience, there’s apt to be child abuse. Latest example: NYC’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/27/13
Oct 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • It’s easy to really admire Jim Vallandingham’s project “Mapping Seattle Streets.” It’s harder to describe it. I’ll just say he’s using street grids and other map details to explain the city to itself.
  • You know I love the Clark Bar, and am eternally grateful to the NECCO people for saving the historic candy brand. So yes, I’m amused by the brand’s current ad campaign, in which women of various ethnicities say inexplicable things in foreign languages followed by a brief product plug in English.
  • Jonathan Franzen has become, alas, the very model of a modern get-off-my-lawn crank. Fortunately, Mallory Ortberg at The Toast has a lovely antidote, “The Rage of Jonathan Franzen”:

He is angry because Salman Rushdie uses Twitter, and nowadays people can buy books on the Internet, and the Home Depot, and he had to go to Germany one time, and also some women exist who have not had sex with him.

  • I wish NYT contributor Tim Kreider’s “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” was actually about organizing a crusade against dot-coms that expect artists and writers to work for them for free. Alas, all Kreider offers is a prepared statement you can use when you reject their “opportunities.”
  • Is long-term unemployment a “good” thing? Perhaps to Wall St. speculators.
  • The “Lofgren Corollary.” It’s a fancy term to describe how Republicans destroy government from inside, then proclaim how government isn’t working.
  • Lou Scheimer, 1929-2013: The cofounder of the Filmation cartoon studio broke through to the bigtime with a Saturday morning Superman cartoon show in the ’60s. It led to dozens of series over the next two decades. All but a few were based on established character “properties,” and almost all were considered to be factory-produced schlock. But they were all made in the U.S. by unionized staffs, with no outsourced animation. Thus, a disproportionate number of today’s top animation figures got their start under Scheimer.
  • My favorite “intellectual joke”: Rene Descartes goes into a bar, orders a drink, and drinks it. The bartender asks if he’ll have another. He says, “I think not,” and disappears.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/22/13
Oct 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

I mourn the Comet Tavern for what it had been. The un-upscaled hippie hangout; the dive that remained a dive when most of the other dives in town cleaned up their acts. I don’t mourn what it had become—a hangout ruled by an oft-violent aggro gang called Hate City. (A good friend, a petite female, was once roughed up by bouncers there, badly.) Could any new owners make it an inviting place again?

  • My ol’ pal Steven Shaviro uses a lot of highly obscure intellectual-left lingo in this essay about the futility of “transgressive” art/film/music in today’s world. I believe he’s saying you can’t be a “rebel punk” anymore, because the hyper-corporate society you’re rebelling against is “punker” (more offensive, aggressive, destructive) than you’ll ever be.
  • David Byrne has stopped pretending not to be white, long enough to notice one-percenter real estate speculation and Internet “disruption” (i.e., not paying content creators) as twin menaces to the arts and creativity.
  • Meanwhile, our ol’ pal Tom Frank claims pundits who talk about “the creative class” are really just talking about corporate players who like to imagine themselves as “creative.”
  • The e-book revolution has become a surprising boon to traditional big publishers. But it’s a hassle to libraries, which often have to pay more to provide e-books than physical books.
  • A husband-and-wife music duo in Arizona came to a sudden end. The wife died in a hospital; the husband then killed himself—after posting each death to the wife’s Facebook page under her name.
  • America’s biggest export to China was recycled plastic. But not anymore.
  • Gay men don’t have the right to grope women without consent either.
  • A British historian claims Jesus was a made-up character, invented by the Romans in an attempt to encourage conquered Jews to become more passive. Needless to say, there are many who disagree with this premise.
  • Is Cinemax really discontinuing its late-night softcore shows, unofficially nicknamed “Skinemax”? From the sound of this story, it’s more likely the cable channel’s just preferring to promote its primetime originals, in which sex takes a decided back seat to violence.
  • Andrew Fischer at GeneralForum.com has two lists (with a third promised) of “Really Annoying Facebook Friends We All Have.” Not included (yet): the one who posting vaguely-worded links to vaguely-headlined articles, attracting all vaguely-worded responses.
  • Elsewhere in snarkland, there’s a blog entry all about ridiculous traveler complaints:

We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/21/13
Oct 21st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

patchesofpride.wordpress.com

During our three-week-plus blogging absence, one of the events we failed to note was the demise of one of the unsung pop-culture greats, Samuel W. Petrucci. A logo and packaging designer, he worked on everything from the Charleston Chew candy wrapper to a Lassie lunch box. But he’s best known for the logo and box art on the original G.I. Joe dolls, often using himself as a model for Joe’s face. His daughter Lisa Petrucci is a prominent local “pop surrealist” painter and co-owner of Something Weird Video.

  • Don James, R.I.P.: He may have been the last great Husky football coach to date. He was certainly a figure of respect and sportsmanship, prior to the “Scoreboard, Baby” era of win-at-any-cost that ended up ruining the program.
  • A former contract worker at Google’s obscure Bothell office has mixed feelings about her time there; including, but not limited to, the paucity of female higher-ups.
  • Yes, there are (even in this climate of starved social needs) alternatives to “boarding” the mentally ill.
  • Alas, the extremely expensive manufactured crisis that was the govt. shutdown probably isn’t “the Tea Party’s last stand.” There will always be something else, real or made up, around which to ferment faux-outrage.
  • Meanwhile, Michael Lind at Salon sez the extreme-right-wing tactics so visible these days are simply old Southern white-right politics, ramped up by local/state operatives afraid of changing demographics permanently ruining their historic privileges.…
  • …and Daniel Goleman at the NYT says we face not only an economic gap but an “empathy gap.”
  • You can run all the exposes of the Koch brothers’ extreme-right-wing funding machine you want. It won’t persuade the conservative follower who only knows what right-wing “bubble media” tell him and who, therefore, has never even heard of the Koch brothers.
  • No, Cosmopolitan: The women who perform in hardcore porn vids indeed are “real women.” They’re just playing unreal characters.
  • As some of you know, I hated loudmouth alpha-male San Franciscans before it was cool.
  • Hollywood has successfully shut down a big BitTorrent index site.
  • Let’s close with some seldom-seen Edward Gorey art from long out-O-print satiric verse books by the undeservedly forgotten Felicia Lamport:

via brainpickings.org

RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/20/13
Oct 20th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

charter construction via ronald holden, cornichon.org

Gosh, has it really been more than three weeks since I’ve done this? Time flies when you’re desperately looking for paying work (i.e., absolutely not “for the exposure”).

Anyhow:

  • The prefab apartment units (above) recently craned into place next to Dan’s Belltown Grocery on Third are not really “apodments.” They’re from a different developer than the company that owns that name. And they’re about 425 square feet each, a “regular apartment” size that’s much larger than those micro-apts.
  • Meanwhile, the residents (many of them elderly) of a Ballard apartment complex are standing their ground and refusing to be evicted from their longtime homes in the name of upscaling.
  • Use It Or Lose It Dept.: The current owners of Scarecrow Video say they’re in desperate fiscal straits. If enough former loyal customers don’t resume renting/buying “physical media” at the U District institution, “the world’s largest collection of movies” will go away forever.
  • Tom Foley, 1929-2013: The Spokane liberal (yes, there really are such) and former U.S. House Speaker thrived in a disappeared age of gentler, more cooperative politics (i.e., two-way backroom dealmaking). The end of that era was the end of his political career; he was ousted by a corporate Republican who promised to limit his own terms of office, then promptly forgot that promise.
  • As another baseball season reaches its last round, Steve Rudman claims the Mariners’ bosses don’t even know how clueless they are.
  • Stop the coal trains! (Besides, I always liked Thelonius Monk better.)
  • Great moments in market segmentation: Rave dancers now have a bottled water “made” just for them.
  • Of course, Sean Hannity’s “victims of Obamacare” were all fake. But you knew that.
  • Charles Simic at the NY Review o’ Books has harsh words for inequality deniers and other right-wing goons:

We have forgotten what this country once understood, that a society based on nothing but selfishness and greed is not a society at all, but a state of war of the strong against the weak.

rocketnews24.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/26/13
Sep 26th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

pelican bay foundation via capitolhillseattle.com

First, another “sorry folks” for not getting something up to the site lately. I know some of you enjoy these li’l linx, even when I don’t have a major essay about something.

For now, back to Randomosity:

  • The mural at the Kingfish Cafe’s building on east Capitol Hill (see above) dates back to the ’70s and to a noble experiment in cooperatively-run artist housing. Read the comments to learn how it collapsed.
  • A Bloomberg commentator decries Amazon’s South Lake Union “geek zone” as a swath of real estate “cursed by dullness.”
  • Amazon’s newest Kindle Fire tablet has one “killer app” selling point: live, human, tech support!
  • Getting the Rainier Beer “R” logo back up on the ex-brewery building will be nice. It would be even nicer if the brand’s current owners would make it here again, instead of at the Miller plant in the L.A. exurbs. There’s gotta be enough excess microbrewery capacity in Washington to make that possible.
  • (Rhetorical) question of the day: Would the local Caucasian model who donned black body paint for a fashion shoot make a good (rhetorical) question for the blog Yo, Is This Racist?
  • As discussed earlier this year at EMP, the likes of Miley Cyrus are, no matter how superficially “transgressive,” still the product of a star-maker machine that subjects female pop singers to a “packaging process.”
  • When it comes to regressive taxation against the poor, we’re (still) number one! (But Washington’s still a “progressive” state because we love gays and pot, right?)
  • A local grocery strike looks more likely.
  • An “adjunct professor” in Pittsburgh died a horrid death, without savings or health insurance. This is a facet of the status quo the Obamacare-bashing right wingers so desperately want to preserve. (Another facet: the cuts to mental health services that leave the dangerously untreated on the streets.)
  • No, Huffington Post,“Generation Y” folks don’t particularly feel “special” or “entitled.” Poverty-stricken and opportunity-deprived, yes.
  • Could “Internet workers” be subject to minimum wage laws? I sure hope so. And the same goes for other freelance and “for the exposure” workers, who are workers indeed.
  • I don’t need to view condom-free porn videos because, unlike apparently a lot of self-describing “straight” men, I’m indifferent toward the sight of other men’s parts.
  • And to help you politely refute specious “comment trolls” online and in “real” life, here’s a handy li’l Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments.

ali almossawi

    RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/4/13
    Sep 3rd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

    satoshi kon's 'paprika' (2006); via film.com

    • The following are not among Film.com’s list of the all-time “Ten Most Beautiful Animated Films”: My Little Pony: The Movie, Bebe’s Kids, The Croods, Wreck-It Ralph, Gnomeo and Juliet.
    • Microsoft buys Nokia’s cell-phone business: Is it really the end of MS as predominantly a software company? Is it the end of software as a stand alone industry?  Nah. Code shall always be needed, as will be upgrades and bug fixes and adaptations to said code. What it’s the end of is MS relying on outside hardware vendors (aka PC manufacturers), a marriage of convenience that left the hardware companies racing to the proverbial price-point “bottom” (and to overseas subcontractors).
    • Nicklesville breaks camp and breaks up, to relocate three far-flung new sites.
    • For infotainment at its most baffling, it’s hard to top “Strange Bloomberg Headlines.”
    • Not even the song of Mothra‘s miniature princesses can save Japanese rubber-suit monsters from the onslaught of computer graphics.
    • Big Freedia, the “Queen of Bounce,” says Miley Cyrus doesn’t know how to “twerk” properly.
    • There’s no shortage of tech grads coming out of U.S. colleges. There are, however, scads of U.S. tech companies eager to legally bring in as many low-paid immigrant techies as they can.
    • In news that comes as shocking to almost nobody, corporate pop stars and actors willingly perform for free (plus expenses) at Walmart shareholder meetings.
    • Kim Messick at Salon explains, in terms of history and demographics, specifically “How the Republican Party Lost Its Mind.”
    • Music history note: The legendary kitsch cover art for Devo’s debut LP, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!, came from a merchandise display with golf star Chi Chi Rodriguez.

    clubdevo.com

    BALLMER IN GILEAD
    Aug 29th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

    ballmer at we day in keyarena, 3/27/13

    In its 36-plus years of existence, Microsoft has had only two CEOs.

    But no longer.

    Steve Ballmer’s calling it quits, effective some time next year.

    Fret not for the big guy with the big voice and the big body language. He’ll get a retirement-severance package bigger than the economies of several Third World states.

    It’s what will happen to the empire of code and copyrights in Redmond (with tendrils worldwide) that’s at stake.

    As all good schoolchilden know, Microsoft began in the primordial-ooze era of pre-personal computers, when tiny startup companies made build-it-youself electronics kits which, when assembled, could perform some of the functions of “real” computers (except, you know, for the function of performing real, practical work).

    Bill Gates and Paul Allen made a stripped-down version of the BASIC programming language; then (more importantly) they established the notion that software should be paid for. They backed up this concept with copyrights and patents and lawyers.

    With Ballmer at their side, Gates and Allen bought an operating system, re-sold it to IBM, and kept the right to also sell versions of it to other computer makers. MS would let hardware makers battle it out among themselves while it controlled the “platform” their products all ran.

    This led to the DOS near-monopoly, which segued into the Windows near-monopoly.

    It also led to Office and Internet Explorer.

    It led to SQL Server, and to other high-end business software and related services.

    Most everything Microsoft makes money from can be traced directly back to its early DOS-era dominance.

    The company’s tried to get into other things. But those other things have had mixed results.

    Remember MSN.com’s “online shows” concept? (The last survivor of those sites, Slate, is now among the Washington Post Co. properties not being sold to Jeff Bezos.)

    Remember WebTV, HD-DVD, Mediaroom, Bob, Clippy, Hotmail, Actimates toys, the Encarta CD-ROM encyclopedia, Sidewalk.com, and Zune?

    It’s probably easier to remember the Surface RT tablet device, the one the company recently wrote off to the tune of $900 million.

    The company’s most successful new consumer-product line, the XBox game platform, is built (at least marketing-wise) on Windows’ gaming clientele. And even this realm has had its duds (XBox One, anyone?).

    The jury’s still out on Windows Phone. Is there room for a third smartphone platform?

    Microsoft could afford all these failures. Yes, even the Surface RT.

    It could afford to keep an unsuccessful project going long enough to learn every little thing about why it failed.

    And it could keep a successful project going long enough to watch its trajectory as the times, and the industry, pass it by.

    So: Is today’s tech-universe passing Microsoft by?

    Some analysts and pundits are making that claim.

    They say the age one-size-fits-all personal computer has peaked.

    There aren’t enough reasons for people or companies to keep replacing them as fast as they used to.

    Especially with tablets and smart phones, and their hordes of specialty-function “apps” that make everything-for-everybody software like Office seem like lumbering beasts of prey.

    So what should the next MS-boss do?

    For one thing, he or she (and how come no women have been named as potentials?) could dump the notorious employee “stack ranking” system, that causes percentages of workers in each unit to be labeled as inferior no matter what. It’s horrid for morale and for productivity, and does nothing to improve products or services. If Ballmer really deserves to be called the “worst CEO ever” (he’s not, not by a long shot), it would be over this.

    Next: Windows and Office still have many lucrative years left in them. That means there’ll be enough cash on hand to re-steer the company.

    But to steer it where?

    I say, away from Windows as the “one ring to rule them all.”

    Even before phones and tablets, Windows had become an unwieldy thing, needing to perform the same functions (or at least most of them) on umpteen different hardware architectures, from sub-laptops to server arrays; for use by everyone from sophomores and shopkeepers to hospitals and factories.

    Word and Excel have similarly undergone years of mounting “feature bloat,” hindering their everyday use at all but the most complex tasks. (Both are also based on a printed-page visual metaphor that’s increasingly obsolete as more people do everything on screens.)

    What people increasingly need are simple ways to do specific things (preparing specific kinds of texts or crunching specific kinds of numbers, say), and to bounce the resulting documents around between different machines (their own and other people’s).

    Think modular.

    Think “apps,” to use the modern parlance.

    The New MS could supply a basic ecosystem for modular software, which could be supplemented by developers large and small working in file formats (but not underlying code structures) compatible across different devices running different OSes in different screen sizes.

    There’s plenty of space in that for all kinds of software puzzle pieces and building blocks. And for developers and template-scripters to build them.

    And there’s no reason (other than entrenched corporate culture) why a lot of those builders couldn’t be at Microsoft.

    Think even more “micro,” even more “soft.”

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