Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive for the 'Humour & Entertainment' Category | back to home

7 March 2010
Filed under:Humour & Entertainment at10:45 am

beowulf book cover

I wonder how many extra copies of Beowulf this ludicrous book cover sold?

30 January 2009

The American Petroleum Institute back in the 1950s produced a piece of propaganda not just about the importance and benefits of oil but about the importance of competition in the economy – ironic since only 43 years previously Standard Oil was one of the biggest and most ruthless near-monopolies until it was broken up by the US government.

14 January 2009

A book by an American who went to Cambridge in the 1840s (available free online). I was just arrested by the address from which the author said he was writing his preface – Horneshook, Hellgate. Turns out there’s a gate to hell in Oregon. Who knew?

9 December 2008

I just heard about the nabaztag (Armenian for rabbit – hello Leslie!) via Jeremy Hunsinger and though I am not quite sure what it does I am sure I would like to get a “digital pet” like this one one of these days. OK it’s a lot of money for what would probably end up being a glorified alarm clock but smart appliances intrigue me.

The Chumby (below) is more capable and flexible but also somewhat more expensive (and less cute). It’s not distributed here either, it seems.

A Chumby

1 December 2008
Filed under:Humour & Entertainment at10:28 am

Earlier I was complaining that writers seemed to use the large number of characters to skimp on character development of individual characters. Now I read that TV producers are making sure there’s a “mini-story” in each episode of an ongoing show because:

The biggest problem networks have with serialized shows is that they’re closed shops: if you didn’t start watching at the beginning of the season, it’s difficult to understand what’s going on.

I would add that if at any point I stop watching (or you have to stop because a series ends) I find it harder to re-establish my enthusiasm when I start again. The only way I’ve managed to get around this problem is by consuming shows some time after they’ve started so I can watch them back to back without big pauses in between.

30 May 2008

Compare and contrast this revelation from the archives of British government in the 50s:

Health minister: We should “constantly inform the public of the facts” of the link between smoking and lung cancer.

Macmillan: “Expectation of life 73 for smoker and 74 for non-smoker. Treasury think revenue interest outweighs this. Negligible compared with risk of crossing a street”

With this from Yes Prime Minister:

Jim Hacker: “Humphrey, we are talking about 100,000 deaths a year.”
Sir Humphrey: “Yes, but cigarette taxes pay for a third of the cost of the National Health Service. We are saving many more lives than we otherwise could because of those smokers who voluntary lay down their lives for their friends. Smokers are national benefactors.”

23 May 2008

This artwork/prank/pr stunt is fascinating. We take the fantastically complex technology involved in webcam chat for granted, but connect two points by fibre optic cable (I’m assuming that’s how this works!) and then let people look down the “telectroscope” using the naked eye and suddenly the experience becomes magical again…

Update: I just found that CNN has de-mystified the device – it’s actually a ‘conventional’ pair of very high definition webcams.

4 April 2008

I’m in the Crouch End Festival Chorus and our upcoming concert – on a Saturday in the evening and repeated on a Sunday at 15:00 in the afternoon – promises to be particularly good. It’s a series of a cappella pieces including the rather tricky Spem in Alium by Tallis which involves splitting the chorus into eight choirs dotted around the church we are performing in.

If you want to hear the kind of singing we are capable of there are several clips of recent performances on the chorus’ MySpace page.
Hope you can make it!

27 February 2008

I am rather amused by my local paper’s story about it with the headline Earthquake Shakes Haringey too which went on to indicate nothing was damaged, nobody hurt and that almost nobody even noticed it happened. For more on the quake from where it was noticed check this out.

1 December 2007
Filed under:Arts Reviews,Humour & Entertainment at4:21 pm

John Patterson in a reviews Southland Tales – the latest in a series of ambitious, clever movies which he compares to Heroes and Lost. He hits the nail on the head when he points out:

It seems that the process of making a movie or TV show ever more fiendishly clever and logic-proof eventually falls subject to the law of diminishing returns. The cleverer they get, the more likely it is that things will eventually turn really stupid. Are they really exercising our minds or just dumbing things up?

This is what I have found frustrating with some of my favourite series – Lost and Heroes among them. It’s fairly easy to hook the viewer by offering what appears at first to be a sophisticated, interlocking plot only to end up revealing that the writers really don’t have any idea where it is all going (and perhaps never did). He goes on:

this is the way many pop narratives seem to be going today. Everything goes in, no matter the impact on coherence or credibility. The ideal viewer is a kid with a laptop, an iPod, a full complement of cable/satellite TV options, a NetFlix subscription, a TiVo hard drive packed with recorded shows, a taste for online gaming within ridiculously detailed game-universes and open-ended game narratives, a demon for channel-surfing and an encyclopedic knowledge of pop-culture.

Now that both academics and marketers love the once-neglected fans, is television (or at least the kind of US drama I tend to watch) going to get clevered to death?

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