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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Teleportation Video

Here is an example of a teleportation special effect I did up. After hearing about the Battlestar Galactica Videomaker contest, I thought I should hone my video skills. In the next few days, I am going to post a how-to for this video. As a teaser: with Adobe Premiere Elements, this is SUPER EASY.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Free Press: You Get What You Pay For

CFAX today had Jack Etkin on their morning talk show to talk about the plight of the free press. He was complaining that we have lost our free press to the corporate conglomerates. Guest host Erick Thompson (who is on Chum-- er-- Bell Global Media's-- payroll) got all defensive and claimed that A-Channel news staff decide what they will cover and don't get any interference from their national overlords. Maybe that's true; maybe that's hokum. Maybe he doesn't know how a corportation can influence a local outlet through hiring decisions and budget; or through control of their national feed, so the local outlet gets a small list of stories to use for national and international coverage.
Jack Etkin dithered on that we needed an independent media and not media owned by corporations. What an idiot.
  • Any organization of any size has to incorporate and become a corporation to sever the health of the enterprise from the health of the owner. Joe's Weekly News should be a corporation. When a newspaper gets into choppy financial or libel waters, incorporation may be all that saves it from oblivion.
  • Corporations need to keep their costs low. That leaves more cash to dole on their product. When you buy a magazine, you don't buy it because they have their accounting in order or because they really have a crack janitorial staff. You consume media because of what it covers and that coverage comes from what is mined by its editorial and creative staff. If a corporation gets their costs low, they have more money for the key staff and production values. When they get their costs as low as possible, they can only go lower by applying their fixed administration costs to more products. Run two papers out of the same office and you don't need to pay two leases.
Where the free press concept has gone wrong: where the money is going; and what the spirit of the free press is. Instead of spending savings on improving their products and pushing for excellence, media is handing that money back to stockholders who expect more money every year. Last year's record earnings is too low. The media should be spending its money on its product longevity-- or split some money for gaining ground with the public and some money for gaining ground with the stockholders. Instead, media is being raided because we consume it like junk food. It has value and cachet. When a faltering newspaper is bought up, it seems like community spirit in action. When a newspaper slips away, there is little word of its demise. Media doesn't like to highlight the failure of competition: it smacks of schadenfreude, so publications can slip off the map. There is the blogosphere, but old media doesn't like to talk about the 800lb. monkey in the room that does the job as well as they do.
This is what free press is all about.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Those DeWolfes

Two advents:
First, we launched the "Those DeWolfes" site-- a one stop shop of our interests and affairs.

Second, I finally published (on Those DeWolfes), a piece entitled "They Could Be Brothers". Enjoy!
Some actors in Hollywood look so much alike I get them confused. These actors
should be cast together in the same movies. Maybe Hollywood is done with turning
TV shows into movies and it's time they start movies with three brothers or
mother-daughter combos.

Dad and His Two Sons: Treat Williams, Ron Livingston & Colin Farrell

They have the dark-haired leading man thing going on but you could spin it as a former hustler (Williams), his neurotic son (Livingston) and his crazy son (Farrell).


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hold on, Just a Gigasecond!

I've been reading Vernor Vinge. Alot of his stuff. He is super cool.
In the latest book I've been reading, A Deepness in the Sky, he uses seconds extensively for dating: mega-seconds (1 million seconds) and giga-seconds (1 billion seconds). Given that 1 billion seems like such an unreal number, I thought it was interesting to ponder hitting the 1 billion (second) mark. So to calculate when that happened, I did up a script: What's a Gigasecond?
What were you doing when your gigasecond odometer rolled over?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Nelly Furtado Moment

I'm sorry. I'll come back later to kick you... I promiseNelly Furtado is going to return to her home town of Victoria, BC and celebrate Nelly Furtado day on March 21st. She will go on to perform at Save-On-Food Memorial Place Centre Arena (etc.). I thought I would harken back to one of Nelly's concerts here a few years back...

After performing her set, Nelly left the stage. Backstage, there were throngs of people crushing to get close to the pop star. At the top of the stairs was Nelly. At the bottom were adoring fans. In between her and the mob was a dumpy security guard facing the crowd. Nelly wanted through, so she booted the security guard in the ass and sent him flying so that she could continue on.

C'mon, Victorians! Let's all share some choice Nelly moments. Did anyone suffer her in high school drama class? Was she your nightmare date in High School? Dish! Dish in time for Nelly Furtado Day! Leave me a comment with a link to your anecdotes and I will make sure they appear below.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Crab Kalash!

Rather than subtitle Yankee TV shows and movies, Turkish producers remake the shows. Sometimes with terrifying results.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

So Cool-- Screenshots of the Remastered Star Trek

These are seriously cool comparisons of the before and after of the remaster original Star Trek:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cold and Flu Season: Four F*CKING MONTHS LONG!

I have been mostly sick for 4 months. Four fricking months. It hasn't been one thing: it's been a string of things: strep throat, bronchitis, a stomach flu, a fever, a few ear infections. I spent Christmas Day doing a white-knuckle drug-induced haze of 12 hours of cooking and trying not to pass out. I am currently battling a chest cold and the left side of my rib case has been ripped up from coughing-- it leaves me with an average of three solid hours of sleep peppered with waking up to roll over; retch; or try to exhaust myself so that I can't help but sleep.
One solution to this cycle: therapeutic exercise. The problem: I am too sick to walk 50 yards, so I can't exercise to break the cycle. I haven't had more than four days in between illnesses.
My daughter has also spent much of this time being sick as well. These colds have resulted in trucking down to local clinics with some frequency. Why not use a family GP? Our regular doctor was replaced by a locum who shifted between inserting symptoms and leaving symptoms out. Cases in point: my blood pressure was high because of my coughing-- news to me, as I wasn't coughing; I couldn't have strep throat because I had too many symptoms-- luckily I insisted on a swab because she couldn't ignore a test result. She also took to writing prescriptions on tongue depressors. Was she trying to be cute? Maybe they didn't let her use paper-- even a circle of paper.
When my doctor returned, I went back to vainly trying to get through to his office. As a matter of practice they leave the phone off the hook to keep patients from getting through. I've broken through that blockade by going in person to book appointments, much to their chagrin.
My general impression: doctors suck. If I dump this doctor, I am left with no doctor; or a doctor with the same bag of tricks. I remember the overriding reason a friend of mine became a doctor: respect. Most physicians are not in medicine to help.
The batting average of doctors holds true. One third of the time, they help a patient; one-third of the time, they do nothing; and one-third of the time, they cause harm. Imagine if your burger flipper screwed up 2/3 of your orders? You surely wouldn't say they deserved a six-digit income or disproportionate respect. Eventually the light will go on: doctors give a very small net benefit to society, especially in view of the money spent to keep the infrastructure in place. The benefits of the health care system can be attributed to medical research; our current state of illness can be attributed to doctors.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Non-Newtonian Fluids: Fun with physics

This stuff is very cool. Roll it, form it, pour and do it again. The best part: anyone can do it.

  • Big jar or measuring cup (1 qt. or 1l)
  • Bowl - 2 quart (2l)
  • Measuring cup
  • Borax powder
  • 4 ounce (120 ml) bottle of white glue (not school glue!)
  • Water (pref. distilled)

Pour the white glue into the jar. Then re-fill the glue bottle with water, swish it and add it to the jar. Stir. Pour one cup (240 ml) of distilled water into the bowl and add 1 teaspoon of borax powder. Mix well.

Slowly add the glue mixture to the bowl, stirring constantly. Place the thick slime that forms into your hand and knead until it feels dry. (There will be an excess of water remaining in the bowl.) It starts out messy, then it mixes better and becomes less sticky and firmer. Store your slime in a bag in the fridge. Then pull out the bag to have fun.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Clubbing Seals and Reality Crises

I have watched Monday Magazine slide beneath the waves like the Lusitania. Once edgy and interesting. Now, it's a panic-ridden myopic pong match between local lifestyles magazine and edgy lefty-alternative zine. I can see where the split is: in one part of their Broughton St. building offices hip salesdudes (and saleschicks) tour local soft touch businesses who don't like the rate card of the Times Colonist but do like to advertise with Monday magazine. In the other corner, the reporters and editors who are part of this (once) well-respected and (once) eagerly read alternative weekly. They're also hip in their own Don Quixote way, exposing the underbelly of BC stuffy Capital. They're underpaid, they're squeezed to work long sets of unpaid overtime. In short, it's thankless and their output is better than you could expect.
In it's heyday, if I had the choice of getting a copy of the Georgia Straight or Monday, I'd choose Monday in a second. Today, I discovered that when the anything-for-a-buck and the anything-for-a-cause camp collide you get this:

What is pixelated in the bottom right corner on this flyer is one of the most graphic images I have seen. Anyone who wanted to pick up a copy of Monday Magazine and leaf through it and find one of these 10,000-12,000 flyers that "Bruce" at 250-216-9610 had paid to slip into their weekly.
Thanks, "Bruce" for making an attempt to get a visceral reaction out of readers. It's ironic that this is the same category of gruesome imagery used to galvanize people about Iraq or 9/11 or latest Saw sequel.
Monday Magazine has an identity crisis and it's a victim of the media landscape. Ironically, the alternative news leader in the region didn't have the wherewithall to embrace the Internet. Monday has had a website for well over a decade but it was a pale echo of its paper edition until recently. I once thought, "gee, I would like to give them a better website" I tried to broach the topic. The Monday people would fish for compliments and I would try to dole what I could without openly lying (e.g. "it sure is on the Internet" and "almost all of your text runs left-to-right" and "You had something up there last time I looked."). I've heard of their IT situation in-house. Co-op students have it good. Monday is too poor to give them a computer of their own, so they have to bring their own laptop-- likely to be 2x to 5x the speed of what the paid staffers are suffering with. They aren't allowed onto their thready connection to the Internet (last word was 32+ workstations going through ONE dial-up line), they have to use some ubiquitious wifi from another source. What I'm getting at is that Monday Magazine is so in the dark that they have been outmanuevered by alternative press online (The Tyee, Vibrant Victoria, Public Eye Online, VictoriaWood, and hundreds of hapless bloggers) and now they're stuck. The alternative press readers reject grandpa's format (paper) and the environmentalists reject wasting a finite resource (paper); but the sales staff cannot sign deals to web banners-- or, they've tried and it's hard.
So, when someone comes to your offices with 10,000 copies of disemboweled seal photos and says, "I'll pay you to put these in your newspaper," Monday takes the deal because it makes the salespeople happy and it makes the environmentalist types happy. To me: this is how it looks when you indadvertantly put this flyer in between the wrong pages:
British Importers (386-1496) - Gee, do they kill animal to make some of their clothing?
Pasta at the Marina (598-8555) - Hey, I hope you serve only Vegan seafood.
Blunderstones (386-3741) - Those had better be fruit leather boots. I sure hope you didn't harm the cows that hide came off of....
Oak Street Villages (477-5353) - Yep, we'll take anyone's money.
Monkey Tree Pub (727-3550) - Yeah... after that seal carcass, I've lost my appetite for wings...

If you're one of these advertisers, do yourself a favor. This will show that Monday Magazine is tuned out. Click on the links for each of these pieces. Check out where this blog post shows up. Check out where Monday Magazine falls in that list. You paid them money, right? They have a website, so whatever you say in the paper edition should have showed up there. And, as you paid them money and Monday is read by thousands, your Monday ad should show up higher than this ill-ventured blog.

Monday magazine has to make a decision: go soft and let the salespeople run loose; or be an environmentalist lightning rod and drop to the distribution levels and appeal of the Martlet. Otherwise, you end up with pages of food & dining sprinkled with seal guts.

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