The “Nielsens Better Climb” network

Daniel Greenfield, noting that the Peacock finished seventh in prime time last season, asks: “Is NBC going to be the first network to die?”

First question: How much have you watched the DuMont network lately? Unless you have a very distended concept of “lately,” the answer is no, since you’ve seen nothing on DuMont since 1956. Fifty years later, UPN and the WB were put to death, and the corpses were sewn together to produce the CW. Many early cable networks have long since expired, or have been reanimated as something else entirely.

Still, Greenfield is very likely right about this:

Attempts to get Nielsen to turn Twitter mentions into ratings are pathetic and advertisers won’t fall for it.

“But Breaking Bad!” you say. Um, no. Actual viewers outnumbered tweets by eight to one. The season finale of Pretty Little Liars had more tweetage and the series wasn’t even ending.

Networks are scrambling over demographic percentage points. They’re celebrating ratings wins that would have once gone to infomercials.

Network television is dead. Cable is a hive of repetitive lowest common denominator programming. Younger viewers have abandoned both.

I’m not by any definition a “younger viewer,” but I’ve pared my viewing down to exactly two programs, and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only person to do so.

The title here was actually spoken by announcer Gary Owens to introduce an episode of NBC’s Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, back in happier TV times; for about a year Owens came up with backronyms for NBC, including the immortal “Never Been Censored.”

Say goodnight, Dick.

Comments (12)

Press Hwæt to continue

Which is more difficult to read: Beowulf, in Old English, or a Google EULA, in whatever the hell they write EULAs these days?

Scientists have found that the internet giant’s user agreement is more difficult to understand than the saga, which features the lines “Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings/Leader beloved, and long he ruled.”

Well, of course. There were no lawyers in the days of Beowulf.

Researchers used a browser plug-in called Literatin to compare the agreements with more established works — looking specifically at word and sentence length.

However, they failed to consider the cultural understanding required to interpret the texts.

And this, I’m afraid, indicts our entire culture. Quoting Ewa Lugar, a researcher at the University of Nottingham:

Fifty Shades of Grey is the ideal level,” she told The Times. “In terms of readability, it uses very simple language and a very simple sentence structure.”

O, boned are we.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

Comments (2)

Strange search-engine queries (403)

Inasmuch as the local feed is about three times busier than usual this week, perhaps now is the time to explain this particular feature, which acknowledges the fact that around a third of its traffic comes from random Googlers and Bingers and such — and then looks to see why they were here in the first place.

what it’s the hol d on mazda:  The D, the whole D, and nothing but the D?

Joules mug best price:  Have you seen James Prescott Joule? I wouldn’t give you a nickel for his mug.

jailbait nude twerk:  Going for the trifecta of trouble, are you?

crank/meth. whores experiencing nymphomania & non-stop masturbation: This is the guy from “jailbait nude twerk,” two years later.

www.Gigger Bites and Megger Bites:  And if you’re really lucky, Chigger Bites.

car auto gear brain box cable pulled off:  Well, push it back on. Geez.

40plus busty women:  Careful. Those babes will pull the cable right off your brain box.

monaural hearing stereo:  Unless you’re deaf in one ear — or have a single ear in the middle of your face, which is less likely.

2014 Infiniti Q50 putrid odor inside?  It’s the air of smugness. 3-series Bimmers have had it for years.

Making a poster abont yourself “Learn me Better”:  It’s to be hoped that you know yourself before you start doing a poster.

warehouse operative job descriptions at fiskars:  It’s like working in a warehouse anywhere else, except that when the bell goes off, you Finnish.

Comments (1)

You’ve heard catchier tunes

This is a rebuilding year for Utah, or so we’re told, and with a mostly-new lineup, the Jazzmen may have a tough time of things once the season starts on the 30th. It’s bad enough that Trey Burke, the rookie originally slotted for the starting point-guard slot, is on the bench with a finger injury; the able but inconsistent John Lucas III started tonight, and while Lucas’ ball movement was good (five assists), his scoring was less so (three points on 1-7 shooting). This is not, I am sure, why Scott Brooks started Andre Robberson at the three and Steven Adams in the middle. However, the Thunder led by nine, 23-14, after the first period, and Kevin Durant, shooting guard du jour who wasn’t having a wonderful night anyway (five points), wasn’t needed for the second half, though the Jazz mounted a decent 11-3 run towards the end before falling 88-82 to the Thunder.

One area where the Jazz shone was the Gordon Hayward-Andre Robberson matchup. Hayward basically pwned Roberson all night, where “all night” means “through 24 minutes,” after which Roberson retired with six fouls. Hayward finished with a team-high 18 points. Then again, Andris Biedrins, backing up Enes Kanter in the middle, fouled out in twelve minutes. And this is going to be a rough year for the Jazz if they keep missing free throws at this rate: of 32 tries, only 18 fell.

Neither side shot over 40 percent. The Thunder did well on the boards (49-39), led by Adams with 12. Reggie Jackson led the team with 18 points, with Serge Ibaka right behind at 17. (Serge blocked four shots, which seems almost ordinary for him.) What we’ve learned from this, we’ll have to put to use in ten days, when the Thunder open their season at Utah. For now, though — hey, it’s preseason.

Comments off

Synaptic dump

No wonder I feel out of sorts now and then:

The conservation of sleep across all animal species suggests that sleep serves a vital function. We here report that sleep has a critical function in ensuring metabolic homeostasis. Using real-time assessments of tetramethylammonium diffusion and two-photon imaging in live mice, we show that natural sleep or anesthesia are associated with a 60% increase in the interstitial space, resulting in a striking increase in convective exchange of cerebrospinal fluid with interstitial fluid. In turn, convective fluxes of interstitial fluid increased the rate of β-amyloid clearance during sleep. Thus, the restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system.

I need hardly point out that I read this between one and two in the morning.

(DOI: 10.1126/science.1241224. Via this Joseph Hertzlinger tweet.)

Comments (1)

Citizen Alkane

Roberta X is in the midst of a series called “Life Without Gas,” which began with this particular incident:

Gas company showed up with a sniffer and pro-grade bubble soap (it’s the touch of corn syrup that does it). De nada. So he did a pressure test.

Yep. Pressure drop. He shut off the gas. That’s the bad news.

Now I do know how sucky this is:

So I’m out mowing the back yard, and the stuff (actually, the stuff they put in it so you can smell it) hits me square in the face. I call the gas company, and they dispatched a chap who duly traced a direct path from the meter to the house and found no trace of gas. “It wasn’t along there that I smelled it,” I insisted, and eventually the truth of the matter was discovered: the gas line isn’t where your geometry teacher would have put it, but dog-legged like the 12th hole at Southern Hills, if nowhere near as long.

Next step: they dig up the old line, install a new one. (I have been told that the gas meter will be relocated closer to the house.) How long this will take is anybody’s guess, so until then: cold showers.

This was 12 September 2007. Gas service was restored on the 17th. Of course, a weekend was involved.

Comments (2)

Return of the car-killing spiders

The last time the arachnids attacked our motor vehicles, they mounted a low-level campaign against the Mazda6, blocking the evaporative-canister vent line and causing 65,000 cars to be recalled.

Flush with success, they’ve gone after the biggest target of them all: Toyota. Our old friend Cameron Miquelon reports at TTAC:

[T]he cause of your airbag going off was spiders, which you find out later that day when the local news reports that Toyota has issued a recall (again), affecting 870,000 vehicles including the one now residing in an insurance salvage yard that you, no doubt, are going to have a hard time collecting anything upon.

According to CNN Money, the 870,000 Toyotas are Camrys, Venzas and Avalons screwed together and sold for the 2012 and 2013 model years, hybrids included. The recall notice states that the webs spiders make within the confines of a drainage tube attached to the car’s AC unit could force water to drip onto the airbag’s control module, creating a short circuit followed by the airbag warning light (and the driver’s side airbag itself) going off. To make matters worse, the same issue can lead to loss of power steering, as well.

This is much, much worse than merely having part of your fuel system blocked.

Still, this is one more way in which, as Mlle. Miquelon notes, nature is so fascinating.

Comments (3)

Instant incentive

I usually fill up at the same C-store every other week: it’s about halfway between my house and one of my preferred supermarkets, and unlike some others I could name, has not imposed a surcharge for premium beyond 30 cents per gallon. The posted price for regular yesterday, as it was two weeks ago, was $2.999, so I expected to find premium for $3.299, and sure enough, that’s what it said on the pump.

There were signs all over the place promoting V-Power, Shell’s version of premium, which was nothing unusual. What I didn’t expect was the pump to reset itself to $3.249 before I started.

On the bottom of the receipt tape:

You received 5cpg off today’s purchase just for buying Shell V-Power! Shell V-Power actively cleans for better performance.

And hey, if they’re going to let me keep 59 cents out of a $38 fillup, that’s fine with me. I just hope they didn’t take it out of the retailer’s hide: they make next to nothing on gas as it is.

Comments off

A fitting tribute

Yesterday morning Norm Geras died, and I struggled to say something appropriate about the man, a fixture in the blogosphere for a decade, and one of the last of a dying breed: the Thoughtful Partisan.

An example of that thoughtfulness: his legendary normblog profile, which he sent to select members of blogdom at all points on the political continuum. The instructions contained the following:

Please NB that you should not answer all 50 questions, but (as requested on the document itself) just 30 of them — enabling you to select those questions most congenial to you and leave out any that aren’t.

The wisdom of this practice really didn’t dawn on me until I’d submitted my answers, when I realized that this was how Norm knew what you really valued above all else.

I mention this here (1) to correct my previous article, which claimed that there were 48 items in the questionnaire, and (2) to point you to normfest, a celebration of normblogging and a tribute to the man who made it a word of its own.

Comments (1)

Knock sensor

Joe Sherlock didn’t quite hear that song correctly:

Recently, I was losing myself in the sublayers of a Google search, when I came across the lyrics to “Let ‘Em In,” one of those trite but can’t-get-it-outta-your-head ditties from the mid-1970s. By Wings. You know the one. With the McCartneys warbling, “Someone’s knockin’ at the door …” I always thought it was some kind of bizarre religious/political statement:

“Sister Suzie, Brother John,
Martin Luther, Falun Gong …”

Well, Google informed me that there is no reference to the China-outlawed spiritual group, Falun Gong. The correct phrase is “Phil and Don” — a nod to the Everly Brothers, who were an inspiration to Paul in his early years.

So, to Phil and Don Everly, my sincere regrets.

Mr Sherlock should not feel bad. Some of us are starting to hear pony names in that same song.

Comments off

Another line of defense

Akismet, which routinely screens all incoming comments here for spam, has intercepted 27,700 such items since its installation five years ago. This is, of course, a Good Thing, but spam comments, even if they don’t appear on the site, still take up space in the database, and have to be weeded out now and then to keep things running with some semblance of speed. To assist with this matter, I have been taking note of repeat-offender IPs, and have banned them outright.

How much difference does this make? It probably adds a little bit of overhead to each call to the server. On the other hand, one single range of IPs — through — is responsible for 25,900 attempts on the premises. (The log shows over 195,000 visits from banned IPs.)

This process, too, can be optimized: instead of just appending the newest offenders to the list, I spent half an hour yesterday putting them in numerical order. And it’s a good thing, too, since some of them were in the list two or even three times.

Comments (1)

How easy is it?

The curse of the 21st-century Webmaster is to be on the receiving end of every marketing scheme in the Alpha Quadrant. I am low enough on the totem pole to miss most of these, but now and then something reaches my inbox, and occasionally I’ll even check it out.

It is, apparently, the 50th anniversary of the Easy-Bake Oven, which was introduced by Kenner in 1963. (The absorption of Kenner, Parker Brothers and Tonka Toys into Hasbro is a tale for another time.), which vends appliance parts online, worked up a nifty infographic for the occasion, of which I’m showing you one section. (Click to see the whole thing.)


I was sent this because I’d done a short take on the EBO last year, citing its new unisex (or something) design.

Apparently some Amazon merchants still sell the old, light-bulb-driven version — for about twice as much as the new machine with the actual heating element. Finding a 100-watt bulb, though, is your problem.

Comments (1)

Taylor, maid

Point: Taylor Swift is the soul of innocence in this promotional picture she did for Keds, arguably the least-sexy shoes this side of your old worn-out Chucks.

Taylor Swift for Keds

Counterpoint: A bit of exposition from Man of Veal, the Superman parody in MAD #524 (December ’13), written by Desmond Devlin. Says Snor-El:

The MacGuffin carries the historical genetic record of every Kraptonian’s birth! It must be kept out of Generally Odd’s hands! That’s why I will steal it, dissolve it, and encode the data inside my son’s body. He’ll contain more different DNA samples than Taylor Swift’s bedsheets!

Steal before Odd!

We’ll give Taylor herself the last word. In her InStyle cover story (November ’13), the interviewer says in seeming disbelief: “You’ve never been in love?”

I don’t know. I think that you can love people without it being the great love. Ed [Sheeran, her tour mate] said something that really resonated with me. He says there are different kinds of love. There’s physical attraction, mental attraction, and emotional attraction; there’s also comfort and obsession. You need to have all of those things in one person. You have to mentally respect them, be physically attracted, and have a comfort level. You’re obsessed with them, yet you also know they’re going to stay. I’ve never had that in one person.

I know the feeling. And if her next album contains a song titled “Bite me, Ed” — well, no explanation required.

Comments (4)

Raised by wolves

Local Wolves is a print and online magazine based in Southern California, founded by photographer Cathrine Khom. Their ninth issue is just out, featuring a selection of “Autumn Beauties”; Rebecca Black’s BFF Alexa Losey is on the cover.

Rebecca Black in Local Wolves magazineAnd if you dig down thirty-odd pages, there’s RB herself, photographed in some places that may not actually remind you of her Orange County origins, including an actual pumpkin patch. The text included with those pictures, it appears, is intended to bring you up to date, in case you hadn’t heard that she was still around and still doing whatever the heck it is she does. (Of course, if you read these pages, you already know that, after a fashion; I’m starting to believe that I have written more about Rebecca Black than has anyone else on the face of the earth.) RB posted a shot from the session to Instagram; you can read the whole issue of Local Wolves from their Web site, which will take you to Issuu, a nifty-looking online publisher with a prodigious variety of available content. (I probably need to keep up with SwimSuit Illustrated, if only to see if they have an annual Sports issue.)

For her regular Friday video, RB churned up something called “Everyday Makeup Tutorial,” which is of course nothing of the sort — but she’s deadpan enough to make you believe it, for the first minute or so anyway. She then tweeted:

RT if you think i should do an ACTUAL everyday makeup routine ;)

Seriously twisted, this girl.

Comments (2)

Think of the load time

Did you ever say to yourself, “You know, Self, BuzzFeed wouldn’t be half bad if it weren’t for all those goddamn graphics?”

Me neither. But there is an answer. If nothing else, it will show you just how much actual text there is in one of their mega-sized pages.

Then again, they could be worse. (One word: “slideshow.”)

Comments off

Approved by the Second Deputy Under Assistant Pirate

The Karma Police obviously haven’t come close to being shut down:

The latest indication of the haphazard way in which was developed is the uncredited use of a copyrighted web script for a data function used by the site, a violation of the licensing agreement for the software.

The agreement calls for, among other things, a GPL or BSD license, either of which requires that the copyright statement be included in the source code.

A representative for the company said that they were “extremely disappointed” to see the copyright information missing and will be pursuing it further with the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that runs the site.

On the upside for HHS, this bit of chicanery does not affect their nonprofit status: the sea of red ink isn’t about to subside — which bureaucrats consider desirable, since they think it supports their incessant demand for additional funding.

Comments off