July 2009 Archives

♻ Fake news, real ads

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One virtue of producing a spot-on parody of cable news: nobody objects when you start placing ads in your mockery, since they already do it:

♻ Pathetic Geek Stories

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If you haven’t read Pathetic Geek Stories, you should. (You’ll probably end up reading all of them in the archives, like me.) PGS are small anecdotes of your high-school humiliation, illustrated by former Onion editor Maria Schneider.

I submitted a PGS of my own, but since it hasn’t been drawn, I imagine it would be forever lost in Maria’s inbox if I didn’t post it here, so here goes:

Editor’s PGS

Setting the stage

This happened in Middle School, and I was a fairly small Asian kid in my suburb of Minneapolis. Yes, I had a bowl cut.

Gym class

Like any good embarrassing school story, this happened in P.E. We were all sitting cross-legged in columns on the floor of the gymnasium (divided into our “squads”), and the teacher was out for a minute. A pretty popular cute girl with red hair sitting in the squad next to me turned to me and asked quietly, “Are you seeing anyone?” It was the first time she had spoken to me directly.

I didn’t understand the question. I said, “What?” and she repeated, “Are you seeing anybody now?” in a sort of loud whisper. I still didn’t understand what she meant by seeing. Visually? Yeah, sure, I was. I was seeing our entire gym class. Figuring that this was, well, not what she was asking, and the fact that the gym teacher walked back in, I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and mouthed “What?” and shook my head. She didn’t ask again to clarify later.


It was a few years later in high school that I realized that she was talking about dating. One of her friends must have had a crush on me and asked the redhead to ask me for her. I was simultaneously disgusted with my response, but kind of excited that somebody had a crush on me (especially when I was wearing that stupid bowl cut…).

♻ Mirror displays

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Who knew PARC had an entertaining blog?

A lot of what I’ve seen PARC doing lately is usability studies. This post is not only an indictment of projector manufacturers and operating system designers, but is also hilarious because it comes from a collective societal hatred:

Slasher's got the goods

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Whenever I see the trailer for “The Goods,” I get pissed off because all I see is a fictional remake of a documentary: “Slasher.”

“Slasher” follows a used car salesman who is called in to a dealership in emergency situations—he can move cars. He comes into town with an assistant salesman and a DJ, and, in a week, choreographs a sale by tantalizing the entire city to come out and search for “the $88 car.” The Slasher is charismatic, of course, but is also addicted to nicotine, alcohol, and his family. His sales buddies provide some great comic relief from The Slasher’s tirades (also funny) and despair (not funny, but very interesting).

From the trailer’s appearance, “The Goods” follows the same scenario. But why should I object to another filmmaker’s attempt to spin a story into something funny? I’m angry because people don’t know this character actually exists—he does. A non-fiction film is inherently more engaging (and humorous) because it’s a real guy you might see in your home town one day, hawking Cutlass Ciera’s with a megaphone. A real guy who isn’t just some writer’s idealization of sleaze, but has sleaze at his core. A real guy who loves his family.

At the very least, I hope the producers of “The Goods” had to pay someone for using this story.

While not an apples-to-apples comparison, here’s some footage from both movies for you to judge for yourself. (“The Goods” isn’t released yet, and “Slasher” doesn’t have a trailer, so I just uploaded the “making of” extra on the DVD, because Docurama can’t get their shit together on their website.)

♻ Boooring

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C-SPAN, how can you take something that should be so interesting (my state’s new senator meeting a future Supreme Court Justice), and make it so boring? I have mad respect for what you do, but… damn liven it up: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Meeting with Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

On the flip side, I really liked the new playlist they took the time to upload to YouTube, highlighting public comments Justices have made about cameras in the court:

P.S.: I guess the hearings themselves also aren’t all that exciting.

[via Briggs]

♻ Wipeouts

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I don’t know how I was introduced to this song as a kid, but I remember this being the shit:

The music video epitomizes cheesy 80s rap, and the uploader isn’t far off when he calls it “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.”

And, yes, those backing vocals are by The Beach Boys. Singing with a group whose trademark is obesity isn’t the lowest performance they did, though. Remember, they were also on “Full House.”

P.S.: There are multiple instances of The Beach Boys intersecting with hip-hop; be sure to listen to Brian Wilson’s awful rap single “Smart Girls,” which jarringly pieces together previous Beach Boys hits connected by over-emoted “lyrics.”

♻ Google vs. The world

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Stumbled across OpenStreetMap while checking out an offline map reader for the iPhone. Before opening the site, I was dubious that a wiki would work well for a map as well as it would for text, but I was wrong.

Surprisingly, there’s more detail on OSM than Google’s offering in the region I was interested in. (My parents are going overseas soon for a wedding, hence the sudden interest in Croatia.)

OSM also excels at showing administrative boundaries I usually have to open Google Earth for (and even then, they’re hard to read due to the imagery). Now I know why my friend’s address is in Menlo Park!

♻ C-SPAN can

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C-SPAN comes through again with a comprehensive overview of the debate on cameras in the Supreme Court.

The refusal to let cameras into the Supreme Court deprives the public of great education about the court’s operation, not to mention the vim of the arguments. Oral argument is open to the public to watch, but only about 100 lucky people at a time get to see it. The court lets me listen to the arguments (a year later, no less), but why should there be a prohibition on what I can see when other (more fortunate) members of the public can? C-SPAN has repeatedly offered to supply this service without distracting the operation of the court.

Judges are government officers, and government should be open. Open to everybody, not just those who happen to be in Washington. To permit audio recordings but not video is archaic and weak.