It's been a while since I featured some mailbag gems. Here they are with slight editing:
The opening post here is a sad commentary on the state of a lot of things.
Will replies: Is that a serious post? I have to say, I'm facing the possibility of a new TV for Christmas and I'm exhausted by the amount of research involved to catch up on what's out there.
I am a big gamer and as a gamer I have been anticipating the arrival of the PS3, but I am somewhat reluctant now due to this article. That is why I am very much looking forward to getting in on this action at Amazon. It is only the core system (which means no wireless controllers or HD readiness), but you can't beat a deal like that.
There was one more site that I wanted to make sure you would see. This is an awesome charity site. I want to build up a photography site just so I can donate. Well, I hope I let you in on something that you did not see already. Keep up the good work.
Binary explosive appears to be real
Will replies: This makes plane security seem that much more ridiculous. I don't know how exotic these ingredients are, but I can't think of how any security could effectively screen for this stuff.
Do you have any information on cyber Monday? Are there any websites that track specials?
Will replies: I don't have any right now, but with your query posted here maybe someone will write in.
I couldn't say for sure what the fluid in the video is, but a great homemade example of a non-Newtonian fluid is cornstarch mixed with water, until it's a goo. Poke it and it's solid; rest your hand on top, and it get sucked in.
Endless hours of entertainment!
Will replies: Jen's letter is typical of a pile of mails that came in on this subject. Apparently I'm the only one whose science class never played with this or whose grandmother never made little balls of it and tricked us into thinking we could hold them. What I still don't understand is why it's not more popular in pop culture. Why aren't there "walk on water" vats of this stuff at Spring Break parties? I would love to try to walk across a pool of liquid. I wonder if it's especially dangerous if people fall in over their heads and struggle to get out.
The opposite of Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day. Link to Buy Nothing Day.
Will replies: Not only will I link to Buy Nothing Day, but I'll add one for Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.
That weird robot movie - Okay seriously... how??? why??? and how long did that take?????
Will replies: And what does he put on the toast? To answer your how question, I have two answers other than the obvious stop-action answer. One is that it could have been shot with digital video and had frames removed in post production. Some editing software may make that easier than splicing the whole thing together shot by shot. The other thing it reminds me of is this piece we had on MSNBC.com the other day. It looks like the guy used his camera's burst mode and then put every shot into a moviemaker program.
Dunno about that list, but here's a list of my own.
- Just because someone wrote something on a website doesn't make it universally true. In any event, truth is subjective and ephemeral. Facts are forever.
- People will believe any damned thing at any damned time, for no damned reason.
- Emotional people always think reason and logic involve making decisions in an emotional vacuum. Ridiculous.
- Who buys cars or houses because of the way they make one feel? Well, not me. Especially with the car. For both purchases, I made lists of factors for inclusion and exclusion, and then found the best match for the list. None of the factors was "makes me feel good."
- Lists needn't necessarily contain 10 items.
- "Strong emotions are a source of strength and power. The stronger your emotions and the better your ability to focus your emotion, the more creative and powerful you are." And, oftentimes, the greater your ability to deny the obvious. "Denying your emotions creates weakness and vulnerability." Hey, if believing that gets him through the day.... This has the same ring of truth as a statement once made to me by a smocked Wal-Mart employee, who assumed that because I was in jeans and a T-shirt that I wasn't college-educated: "Those college-educated people don't have any common sense." Well, maybe not, Bertha, but my wife and I draw down a nice six figures a year and you're making minimum wage and wearing a smock. Rather be me than you, sister.
- "All the Personal Development gurus I've seen are clean cut, positive thinking, deeply spiritual, entrepreneurs awash in wealth." Sure. 'Cause left-wing hippies keep giving them good money for nothing. Duh. If it's "self-help," why do you need someone else to do it with you?
- No, really, lists needn't necessarily contain 10 items.
Will supplies: Here's the link jbm is making fun of above.
I've been doing webpages for years, and I thought I recognized the paragraph from long ago... like IE 3... and sure enough, it's still there.
Apple has an equivalent provision as Paragraph #5 of its agreement for the "Get Quicktime" web badge, and it's a safe bet that its boilerplate that appears in its ITune logo licensing agreement, too, although I haven't seen that document.
The suits in Legal at both companies had to pass the same bar exams. So, using these standard contract clauses to spin either Microsoft or Apple as more Electronic-Frontier-Friendly than the other is just plain bogus. I have a personal opinion as to which one probably is, based solely on a guess, since there's been no real evidence presented in this little tempest in a teaspoon.
How to fix shows like 'Lost.' I hadn't really thought of Lost as being in need of fixing, but I can see how these shows with no end are a problem as they drag on and on. I think spin-offs are a good solution. Maybe instead of simultaneous story lines, run them as separate shows.
Perhaps the writer of the article already knew this, but Japanese television has been successfully using this formula since the 80's. In Japan, dramas rarely come back for a second season, and if they do, it is usually with a different story line. Each season comprises about 13 to 26 episodes with a running storyline that completes at the end of the season. Popular shows will usually have an epilogue episode at the tail of the series.
The formula is more similar to Fox's 24 than Lost. Jack Bauer wins at the end of each season.
Viewers are going to get pretty tired of shows like Lost, Prison Break, and The Nine (even the Sopranos) when they are denied any type of resolution. I suppose Greed won't allow a network to let a good show end, they need to squeeze every last dime out of the concept. A shame, really.
Hey Will. I really enjoy your reading blog. It's great. I just wanted to send you a link to a short documentary I made...I think you'll like it. It's called Are You Anybody's Favorite Person? If so, maybe you could mention it on your site. Thanks for you time.
I'll make it quick since you get a ton of links. Found one where 2 guys are hitchhiking all 50 state capitals in 50 days and updating using their blog and Google Maps. Here's a link if you are interested. Kinda neat stuff.
Dave, GIS SITES
Will replies: Hi Dave, cool site you have. I love map blogs. I saw those hitch hiking guys on TV the other day. Their official site is here. I'll be interested to see how the heck they're going to hitch a ride to Hawaii.
I thought I'd send you a link to a couple more cover songs. These were created by C. elegans (soil worm) biologists Dr. Morris Maduro and Dr. Curtis Loer and were presented at the 2005 International C. elegans Meeting at UCLA. In the past four years, five C. elegans biologists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, including two this year. The contributions of this nematode to health and medicine have been severely overlooked by the general public, which might stem from the fact that worm biologist don't get out of the lab enough. These videos might demonstrate the point.
Will replies: Wow, that is some deep nerdery. I would almost think the videos are too esoteric for Clicked, but I happen to know from the response to some cell animation I posted a while ago that Clicked had a substantial life science buff readership.
More from the Book of Job.
Re: your statement about the Andrew Sullivan link to the Republican ad showing a darker-skinned hand over a lighter-skinned face. You wrote: "I'd say that it's showing the PC interests of dark skinned minorities silencing the voice of the white majority."
Fine – then why didn't they have a female hand covering the white female face? The hand in the ad is fairly obviously male. Not to mention the wide-open, some might say startled and fearful, eyes?
Or, maybe taking this in isolation, I might concede your point. But taken in conjunction with the Harold Ford/Playboy ad, or Willie Horton (in other words, the real world, not an academic exercise), I can't quite imagine an innocent interpretation of the hand-over-the-face ad.
By the way, since the term "PC" was always meant to be pejorative, why do you label the interests of "dark skinned minorities" as "PC" rather than as simply, say, "interests?" Why are the interests of minorities bad, and the "voice" of the majority good? Or, is that what you say the Republicans are saying?
Anyway, thanks in general for the very interesting blog you do.
Will replies: The link in question is this one. Your point about the context is well taken. I was indeed talking about viewing the image in isolation, but of course in the middle of an election campaign that misses the point. My interpretation sentence was meant to be a channeling of the person who made the image, but still, I'm not sure I agree that PC is always pejorative. It's true that it's often said with a sneer, but I'm pretty sure its origins are sincere.
Someone sent me a link to the oldie but goodie George Lucas in Love. If you haven't seen it, it's a fun viewing.
I finally got around to checking out a reader's new blog called The Daily Geek. He's got a great story there about accusations that the tobacco industry has redirected its marketing efforts to kids through YouTube. I believe it. You'll have a hard time convincing me that this isn't an ad.
Highlights from press releases:
I wanted to let you know the 2006 Best of the Blogs ended Saturday night. For the first time, an English Weblog won the jury's award for best overall Weblog with the award going to the Sunlight Foundation.
PaidContent.org convinced the jury for best English Weblog honors and in an online vote, Black Looks won the best English Weblog user prize.
MediaShift's Mark Glaser and BlogHer's Lisa Stone were the two English-language judges for the contest's third year.
All the other winners and info can be found at: TheBoBs.com.
I've been getting a few notes from the folks at Go Fish, which is a video sharing service. While there I clicked this little documentary on the hand painted Dewar's ads. I'm not a fan of the ads, but this, which I assume was produced by the Dewar's people, almost had me convinced they're cool.
I also clicked this Modern Day Robin Hood video. Somewhere in my notes I have a link to a story about these guys causing a riot. They walk around New York City passing out real money. They're not looking for poor people though, they're just throwing it in the air or passing it out to random people. I'm wondering if we'll see some larger goal revealed eventually.
I got a press release from NPR announcing a new news quiz from the "Wait! Wait! Don't tell me!" show.
ZapTXT is a new site that lets you enter a watch word and be notified when that word comes up in blogs or news sites. I think Google News has something like this, but this is the only site I can think of with this breadth of offerings.
I also heard from the folks at HitTail.com. It's a free service that shows what search terms are driving traffic to your blog so you can write more about those terms. I'm not a fan of using traffic as a primary motivation for blogging, but it's still an interesting idea.