This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.
And you'd trust them completely, right? Well, if you’re bothered by too many telemarketers, it’s your fault. Lifehacker has a piece by someone in the business:
I've worked for a telemarketing company for two years and made a lot of unwanted calls. I have to keep making them because most people don't know how to get rid of us
No, no, no, no: you choose to keep annoying people so you can make money. The responsibility is yours and your employers, not the person who lacks the ability to “get rid” of you.
- but the right approach can make all the difference. Here's how you can get rid of telemarketers like me and save us both a lot of time.
The piece has tips and hints like this:
Remember, the computer chose your lead, not the caller. If you scream at them because you've gotten called before, this will not make them sympathetic to your case. It's likely they'll just put you back into the lead pool to torture you.
This confirms what you may have suspected: being a telemarketer is a job that drains people of all human empathy. This is in a section called “How You’re Making it Worse,” as if the dillweeds didn’t start it in the first place.
If the telemarketer is being rude, you can ask to speak to a manager. Despite what they might say, every campaign and business has a supervisor in the call room.
Whose sympathies will of course be with you, the aggravated party.
HISTORY Atlas Obscura looks at the “Forgotten Ghost Stations Of Berlin” - reminders of its day as city divided between free and slave. This, however, needs clarification: "Having endured two World Wars, being divided by the Iron Curtain, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and rapid gentrification — all in the scope of a century — the German capital is drenched to the proverbial bone in history."
Which proverb would that be? Are there any proverbs about soaked bones? No. You can use “proverbial” when referring to something that was actually in a proverb, or maxim, or piece of folk wisdom. The proverbial stitch in time. The proverbial look before one’s leap. But “drenched to the bone” is just a description.
Small carp. It’s a great piece, and a reminder of what East Berliners endured.
HEY YOU Today’s stupid second-person headline comes from the ongoing aesthetic train wreck that is the HuffPo: YOUR TV SERIES FINALE SUCKS (Even Though It Probably Doesn’t) This may interest all the people who have TV series finales, but most of us don’t.
The page also has a “weird” ad, in this case a “weird food that kills blood pressure.” That would seem to be a bad thing. Hey, link to a 10 biggest product failures! Great, it’s a slideshow:
It scrolls out and has a cellphone ad and something else and covers up a Miley Cyrus SHOCKER - You Won’t Believe What Happened - and then offers a chance to vote on whether your city has the Best Food Truck. Because everyone has such broad experience with food trucks in other cities. It’s just a sinkhole.
And it’s not the only one. On my daily ramble over the web I come across more ad-stuffed upworthy-buzzy clutterfests than I ever thought existed, and they share one trait: utter irredeemable ugliness. Modern advertising is turning the web into a garish maelstrom of howling banality.
Or maybe I’m just in a glum mood. It’s not as if there was a golden era of web perfection, but i swear it’s worse now, and those “one weird trick” and “Is this new Fat-burning pill too effective?” boxes make me want to start a new internet somewhere.
VotD Two days, 1.5 million hits.
People have already turned this into a GIF, becuse 19 seconds is too long a wait to get to the good part.
As far as I know this is the only video of the destruction of the Merchants building. Even worse: it’s not a video but a GIF. On the other hand, they’re very compact. As videos, they weighed in at half an MB, tops; as a GIF with no compression they waddled in at 13 MB. Thanks to Gfycat, they’re down to half an MB again.
If you can see it, then it works. The Merchant building was next to the Rand Tower; there’s a parking ramp on the space today. The site also included the Thorpe Building:
Both buildings are long forgotten. If you're curious what the block looked like:
The little bank in the middle survives as a facade on the ramp; it was the Marquette Bank, which chose an Egyptian style because people were just nuts about all things Tut at the time it was built in the 20s. Odd choice, but a nice addition to downtown.
Anyway, GFYcat drastically compresses GIFs and saves the world untold gigs of bandwidth. It’s free and you don’t have to sign up. They not only compress your GIFs into versions that can be slowed down or paused or reversed, they host them.
What nice folks!
What's in it for them, you wonder?
GAMING This game review makes it sound like a bowl of spinach, no? “ENCOURAGES PLAYERS TO LEARN ABOUT TYPE BY EXPLORING A WORLD OF FONTS, MARIO-STYLE.” Another review has a warning: “The game freezes if you try to read a recently captured asterisk entry while in the process of dying.” So it’s ultra-realistic! Hard to describe, really - you’re pushing two dots along a landscape made up of letters while atmospheric music lends an otherworldly air. I’ve never liked side-scrolling games that make you jump. I love this thing. You can get it here. I got it free from a Starbucks promotion; you'll have to pay $3 or see if Starbucks still has cards left with a free code.
In related news - art and architecture, that is - here are some buildings made to look like the work of famous artists. For some reason. This one's easy:
This one's a bit more challenging.
Many many more, here.
FOLLOW-UP Wednesday I put up that Schlitz ad to show the difference between the real thing and the one going around the Internet. I was paging through an old Life from the same era, and found another from the series that shows a guy screwing up as well. In fact, "beer as compensation for screwing up" was the point of the entire campaign. So:
See? Guys in beer ads were stupid too.
Everything melts in March, right? No. I think there was a March a few years back where it all went by the end, and the snow never came back. But it’s the norm to come back from Spring Break, if you are lucky to take such a thing, and find vestigial drifts still marring the land. It all depends on a memory that gets lodged and sets the standard - filing your taxes on the 15th and seeing the last remains of winter gurgle down the gutters on their way to the drains, for example. That seems too long to bear. The idea that there will be snow around for another month - well, snap that icicle off the eave and plunge it into my heard pls thnx. You realize that our current consolation is “the probable end of subzero temps” and you realize it’s not done. It’s not done at all.
On the other hand, Oreos are now available with pastel-hued filling, which is an undeniable sign of spring. It’s the little things that keep you going.
ADVERTISING BuzzFeed has another one of those “Sexist Ads from the Past” that remind you men were brutes and women were supposed to stay home and make food and perhaps pith themselves with a hatpin in case they felt they were getting “too smart” for their own good. It’s fun to play with old ads, but it helps if you can add commentary that’s something other than OMG WTF You guys/ Anyway, I guess I have to do this again. The last time someone did the Sexist Ads piece, they used this:
It doesn’t seem to occur to the people who post this picture that the words were added. The typeface, the space between the quote mark and “Don’t” - no alarm bells go off? Granted, it’s a paraphrase of what the original ad said. This is the real thing.
Granted, the sentiment is the same, but A) it's a joke, and B) it's part of a series of Schlitz ads based on compensating for domestic strife with beer. They were all bad and Schiltz never tried this approach again. The percentage of ads that insulted women was quite low, because most ads in, say, Life magazine inthe 50s were aimed at women. They did most of the shopping. Didn't make sense to tell them they were hapless ninnies.
Please adjust your Pinterest pages accordingly.
ART A picture of a homeless man. It’s the source that makes this shot different.
It’s a screenshot from “Grand Theft Auto,” rejiggered in Photoshop. More here.
THE WEB Let it go, man, let it go:
After allegedly finding a cockroach in his sandwich at a Subway franchise in Sudbury, Ontario, Patrick Balfour took to Twitter to voice his complaints against the sandwich giant. He’s sparing no expense in the process: He even bought two anti-Subway promoted tweets for $90. His story is a testament to the power of social media to affect sweeping change—or the power of a near-obsessive-compulsive desire to shame a sandwich chain.
Twitter is good for things like this, but when you find yourself spending almost a hundred dollars to complain about a beastie in the hoagie, you might want to reconsider your life's goals. Never go full Ahab, man.
Related: This piece asks why “we” keep “buying into” the “Franchise Dream.” Have you been buying into it recently? No? Me neither. Apparently owning one isn't a guarantee of riches, and the parent company can make you do things. And here I thought the contracts people signed said "Money will be delivered in large sacks every Tuesday, and feel free to change the name of the store to 'McDilland's,' if your fancy is thus suited."
Just checked the forecast: 43 on Sunday. The melt begins. Die, winter. Die.
The term “DRM” doesn’t really fit here, but helps explain the concept. So: will the next-generation of Keurig coffee makers forbid the use of third-party pods? And is there such a thing as a second-party pod? The story appears to originate with this site, but when I tried to copy a quote I got this:
Okay, well, then we’ll just link to someone else, then. Canada Business:
One of the things that accelerated the pod-coffee craze was the 2012 expiry of Green Mountain’s patent on the “K-Cup” design. That freed up other companies to start making generic pods that would still work in Keurig-brand coffee brewers—and those clones typically sold for 15-25% less than the brand-name pods sold by Keurig directly.
It’s been a boon for the consumer, but the company no doubt wants us to buy its machines. They look nice. They cost a lot. People like having other options, though. Different blends at cheaper prices with less plastic. But the company says the new units will be so INCREDIBLE people will be happy to give up the freedom of choice, and choose a new technology that locks them into a particular product.
Because that’s worked out well so many times in the past.
Perhaps the headline made you think of the novel, then. I remember reading it when it came out, and thinking it was flat and empty. I suppose that’s the point! Flat and empty people make for flat and empty novels. Everyone was looking for another Jay McInerney, since the original item wasn’t up to the task. Anyway: perhaps the headline made you think of the Elvis Costello song from which the book takes its title. Which brings us to another bit o’ imdb “trivia”:
In a surreal twist, the sequel novel, 'Imperial Bedrooms', has the original novel's characters aware of the film version of "Less Than Zero”.
Well, now, I wouldn’t say that. Perhaps something like this would be more apt: In a surreal twist, the sequel novel, ‘Empty Donkey Melting Scream” took its name from colliding mollusks on a train that stretches to the horizon but is forever moving.” That’s surreal. Naming a sequel after another song on another album is called “continuity.”
As for Elvis Costello’s song, no doubt he played it on his first appearance in Minneapolis at the Longhorn in 1977. Where is that bar now, you ask?
It turned into Zoogie’s, then closed up, and reportedly it’s just parking-ramp maintenance storage now. The history is left behind is sparse, but a few handbills can be found here, along with recollections of the heyday; the Minnesota Historical Society has some ephemera as well.
Now, let us flashback to those innocent halcyon days of 80s. Prescient moment from Robert Downey towards the end.
ART Photog Tom Nguyen got up early to take pictures of the early hours of bone-rattling March, and we’re glad he did.
SCIENCE! Speaking of the cold, here’s great news: There was an ancient giant virus found in 30,000-year-old ice, and they brought it back to life! Resurrected viruses. I think that’s what everyone’s been clamoring for.
In what seems like a plot straight out of a low-budget science-fiction film, scientists have revived a giant virus that was buried in Siberian ice for 30,000 years — and it is still infectious. Its targets, fortunately, are amoebae, but the researchers suggest that as Earth's ice melts, this could trigger the return of other ancient viruses, with potential risks for human health.
Another researcher quoted in the piece says this is nonsense. There’s a frightening picture of the virus, which makes me think of “The Andromeda Strain” - a fine movie that still manages to terrify with the most rudimentary special effects. The moment that virus moved half the audience came out of their seats.
You have to marvel at the wy the world works: even amoebas have their own viruses. Nothing's safe from those meaningless demons. If there's something to eat, Nature will devise a way to eat it. Speaking of which: time for lunch. See you around.
I was vaguely aware you could call a phone number and get movie information, but why would I do that when the listings are in the paper? Things changed; now I think why would I check the listings in the paper when I have Fandango? Sometimes it’s a race between myself and my wife; she checks the paper, I whip out the app, and we see who can get the information first. She usually wins because the print version of the newspaper does not display a holographic 3D trailer of a movie and require her to search for the NO THANKS button.
Which brings us to Moviefone. AOL bought it for $400 mil back in 2001. Brilliant. This week they announced they’d drop the “fone” part and move the service to app-only, where it will compete with everything else. Does this NYT story resonate with you?
For 25 years, residents of America’s biggest cities have been able to call 777-FILM to receive movie listing information and buy tickets. The service’s goofily booming greeting became a cultural catchphrase: “Hello, and welcome to Moviefone!”
Never used it. Never called. Well, let’s go to YouTube . . . Nope. Can’t find it. But I did find a clip, where the Voice of Moviefone - Russ LEATHERMAN - is interviewed on . . . this show.
There’s a whole series. You wish it was bad enough to be one of those discoveries that suddenly get famous after someone on Reddit plucks it from obscurity, but it's not.
DIG IN Friday may be half-over, but I believe this is the most memorable sentence of the day:
“Curiosity piqued, I headed over to the site, which explains how it plans to cultivate edible meat from cloned celebrity tissue samples.”
More here. The company says they’re quiteserious about selling dried, aged, cured and spiced lab-grown celebrity meat.
SCIENCE! Here’s something incomprehensible, from Discovery.
This cluster, named RX J1532.9+3021 (its friends call it RX J1532), is 3.9 billion light-years away and extremely massive – about a thousand trillion times more massive than our sun (and about a thousand times more massive than our entire galaxy.)
Inconceivable. You don’t know where to start figuring out how much you cannot understand the dimensions at work here. Anyway, that’s a story about a black hole that “Blasts Galaxy-Sized Gaps in Space,” but that’s last month’s news. This month has this: “Monster Black Holes Can Kill Galactic Star Formation.” That’s if you’re unlucky enough to have a supermassive enormo-gigantic ultra-honking black hole in the center of your galaxy. If you do there probably isn’t a you in the first place. Point is, the headline accurately sums up the story. This isn’t how you get hits these days. Let’s look around the rest of the page and see if it’s possible to recast good science news in Upworthy-BuzzFeedy headlines.
A powerful NASA telescope has found not one, but 10 supermassive black holes. And it did so by accident!
That’s okay, but the exclamation point makes it look like you’re trying too hard. The ideal formation would be NASA pointed its telescope at the wrong place and no one guessed what they’d see next” or some such drivel.
Dnews: Why Sitting Too Much Can Kill You!
Much better. But let me show you how it’s really done. This popped up on a page the other day.
That’s how you do it. Macro photography of some hideous beastle that may be living inside of you. Who could resist?
TECH How do we preserve old games? It’s possible, thanks to emulation and dedicated hobbyists, but it also requires enough time, money, and people. This article discusses the problems facing the preservation effort, but it doesn't address an ephemeral aspect of gaming: the experience. You can save the game, but no one who plays it in 2050 will understand how it felt to play it in 1996, for example. Just as it's hard today to understand how movie audiences in 1921 experienced a new type of FX. I played a little "Hexen" the other day, and it was claustrophic, jerky, blocky, and flat. Almost unplayable, and hard to enjoy. At the time? Cutting-edge and addictive.
NEWS Finally: this. A simple account that gives you an idea of what they want in Ukraine. Besides the Russian boot, of course. It's short, and worth a read.
That's it for this week; thanks for the patronage. See you on Monday.
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