The 1939 Smoking Robot is Finally Home
- Blog Post by: James Lileks
- March 21, 2013 - 12:50 PM
Elektro has a permanent resting place. This is the feel-good story of the day. From Atlas Obscura:
Elektro could smoke, talk, and walk, all controlled with voice commands. The golden automaton was so popular that he returned for the 1940 World's Fair and then toured the country as a promotional tool for Westinghouse. However, his casual smoking, calling people "toots," and tired jokes eventually made him seem dated, not to mention that new innovations had made him obsolete.
Here he is; I think this might be from the movie “The Middletons go to the World’s Fair."
As for the fate of Elektro’s dog Sparky, we may never know.
(Picture via Matt Novak's Paleofuture tumblr.)
CRIME The penalty here seems rather difficult to enforce.
Screaming "bingo" was his shame-o.
Comparing the act to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, a police officer cited an 18-year-old man for falsely yelling "bingo" in a Covington, Ky., parlor, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Austin Whaley was slapped with a disorderly conduct charge and then ordered by a judge last week to refrain from uttering the word "bingo" for six months.
Anywhere? You know the guy goes in the basement and shouts BINGO BINGO BINGO just to get it out of his system. Maybe mutters it as he walks around in public, because he’s a rebel.
The link is the HuffPo. I tried to go to the Cincinnati story, but I got a car ad. It told me I could continue to the story in 5 seconds. I skipped the ad because I am not going to Cincinnati to buy a car. Then it dumped me on the home page. Forget it.
FOOD HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT BUZZFEED WRITERS NOW WRITE IN CAPS WITHOUT PUNCTUATION ICK YOU GUYS
It’s a piece about breakfast cereals. I think they’re trying to imitate idiots on Twitter. That’s the charitable explanation. Or they're trying to come up with a trademark style that sets Buzzfeed apart from sites enjoyed by adults. Example:
For that to work, it has to be funny. It should also make sense.
It's not bad oatmeal, by the way. And you don't make it in the packet. You pour it in a bowl, and - sorry, this is the internet. YOU POUR IT IN A BOWL BECAUSE REASONS
ARCHITECTURE I remember talking to someone who’d been on a building project in China; he had opened a space in the wall to check some wiring, and everything was a nightmarish tangle, a Medusa coiffure that defied all codes, all logic, all sense of safety. He wasn’t willing to extrapolate that all the new shiny skyscrapers had problems, but wouldn’t have been surprised if a corner was cut here and there.
Well, the second tallest building in the world might fall over:
Concrete made with unprocessed sea sand has been found in at least 15 buildings under construction in Shenzhen – including what will be China's tallest building when completed – putting them at risk of collapse.
An industry-wide investigation made public last week discovered that 15 buildings in the city were partly constructed from concrete made with sea sand instead of river sand, including the 660-metre-high Ping’an International Finance Center, expected to be the second tallest building in the world.
Here it is. TImmmmmberrrrrrrr
TECH The Daily Dot’s headline is accurate: “How a ‘big dongle’ joke brought out the worst of the Internet.” Which partyou regard as the “worst” may vary. Be prepared; the story has quotes like this: “The forking joke set the stage for the dongle joke.”
That it did. Even though the context was inferred incorrectly, and the comment was not intended for the author to hear, the dongle utterance surely meant that young women in tech would be discriminated against, in the future. Right? There’s really no other lesson you can take from overhearing someone else’s conversation. Read the piece and you'll see what I mean.
The story ends with the usual attack of anonymous nerd-furies screaming things on Twitter and elsewhere; all tech stories that have to do with women pointing out anything ends up like that. So you click something else, and lo, a documentary on male "My Little Pony" fans is being attacked for sexism. Let’s listen in.
Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony could have been a look at the customs, language, and trends of the brony fandom, which has evolved its own subculture and gotten a huge share of media attention. Instead, it’s racked up controversy for its narrow view of the fandom and for what many members of the fandom have seen as propaganda. One fandom news site wrote an extensive two-part criticism of the documentary, and a group of female fans are planning to produce their own documentary in response to what they view as the documentary’s blatant exclusion of women.
That would seem to be a problem, were it not for the subject matter. To repeat: Bronies. Male persons who like My Little Pony.
The documentary fixates entirely on male bronies, taking a full hour before it even seeks out a female fan on the floor of a fan convention—an oversight difficult to justify given that the franchise was explicitly created for girls.
No, it’s easy to justify, given that the movie’s subject matter is explicitly about males. How can it not fixate on male bronies? That’s what the term is about. Bro + ponies = bronies. I know, I know, there are supposedly Female Bronies, older fans, but no one hears the term "Bronies" and doesn’t think “older males who watch a show aimed at 12-year-old girls.”
The film hinges on the idea that adult male interest in a cartoon for girls is remarkable. It’s not, especially when viewed on a broad spectrum of fans engaged in sci-fi, fantasy, and anime fandoms whose stories prominently feature female characters.
Well, yes and no. There are guys who like certain types of anime because they are impelled towards the illustrations by some inner tweak. It’s the uniforms, the big eyes, the childishness, the long legs, whatever. Also, tentacles. Don’t ask. Comics and games are another story; different type of female. Usually exaggerated physiques with aggressive personalities. “My Little Pony” fandom among males is different, because these are, well, ponies, and yes yes it's a clever reimagining of a cloyingly sweet old plastic toy, but c'mon.
Society already associates nerd culture with an image of a white man in his early 20s—a demographic the film fixates on from its first frame in a series of deep, unavoidably awkward close-ups of young male bronies. From the beginning, Bronies wants you to be painfully clear on a single point: This is the straight, white male face of My Little Pony fandom.
Because that’s what the documentary is about? It's possible.
TECH Google has launched an Evernote competitor, Keep. Om Malik speaks for many:
Google today launched Keep, an app that allows you to save things, clip stuff from the web, hoard notes and what not and put them all onto your Google Drive. Yup, you guessed it — it is an imitation to Evernote and many other such applications. It is a good thing that Google has decided to compete with the likes of Evernote — it validates their market.
It might actually be good, or even better than Evernote. But I still won’t use Keep. You know why? Google Reader.
If they can shut down Reader, they can shut down Keep some day. After all, Westinghouse built this guy, and they just threw him away when the Fair was done.
© 2013 Star Tribune