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Would you film it - or flee?

  • Blog Post by: James Lileks
  • May 21, 2013 - 12:28 PM

This is not something you want to see close-up. But there it is. You have a tiny movie camera. What do you do? 

  

 

Go watch it on YouTube, full screen, sound up. Ask yourself what you’d do: keep filming, or run? In the case of Mr. Cook, who shot the monster with his cellphone, he does what many people would do when confronted with something so enormous, so hypnotizing, so deadly: he stops every minute or so to drive about forty feet away, then starts filming again.

Via Reddit, where the poster notes: “You have to figure out which way it's moving by using landmarks, then assume it can go anywhere 160 degrees in front of it. Don't be there.” Yes. That Arby sign snaps, RUN.

Comments are disabled for the video, which makes you sad: have we got to the point where people cannot be trusted to be decent about these things?

In related news: One might believe that there’s a rich untapped vein of political humor in natural disasters, but best to check the death tolls before you tweet.

"Daily Show" co-creator Lizz Winstead took to Twitter Monday night to say that the deadly tornado earlier that day was actually meant to “target conservatives.”

“This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives,” Winstead tweeted in a failed attempt at humor that triggered an intense wave of condemnation.

At first, Winstead doubled down on her bad joke, as she tried to explain that she was using the storm to refer to recent news that the IRS targeted conservative groups, later tweeting, “If Its not OK to YOU for me to combine news stories to point out hypocrisy AND Im not making fun of victims u shld Unfollow.”

Noted. Also noted is the tone of the news story itself. “Failed” and “bad” are subjective terms - true, in this case, but still subjective - but at least they let you know where the newspaper’s coming from.

 

ZOMBIE NAZIS Zombie Nazis? Please let this be about Zombie Nazis: HOW HITLER’S U-BOATS ARE STILL ATTACKING US. But no. It’s about 13 sunken Merchant Marine ships that might release oil into the ocean. One of the comments says:

Hmmm, the text says that out of 573 ships that are considered "a substantial pollution risk", 13 were sunk by the German navy in WW2. That is less than 3%. Hence, 97% percent of the health hazards coming from sunken ships have nothing to do with the German navy in WW2.

 Why the headline then?

Because Nazis bring in the eyeballs, that’s why.

 

TECH Matt Novak’s Paleofuture blog - not his own, or the Smithsonian one, but the Gawker one; the man gets around - has a piece on something I’ve managed to avoid reading about.

The "Internet of Things" is shaping up to be the buzzphrase of the year as more and more of our machines take off their dunce caps. But as history has shown us, a smarter gadget doesn't necessarily mean an easier life.

If our modern soothsayers can be believed, soon your refrigerator will be snapchatting your garbage disposal raunchy pics of your microwave, while your thermostat consults your lawnmower for stock picks. Or something like that.

But when all our devices are communicating and making plans behind our back to pre-order laundry detergent because the hamper says it’s full and the washer says it’s low on Tide, will this mean live is easier? Matt cites domestic sociologists who said that the standards of “clean” changed along with the machinery - if you can get something cleaner, faster, more often, then you should. Instead of doing the floors once a week, you were expected to do them every other day.

Interesting idea. I don’t completely buy it. The idea that the ease of doing laundry with automatic machines meant you were obligated to do them more often forgets the fact that “doing laundry” now consists of putting them in and taking them out, as opposed to standing over a scrub board for six hours. There’s no way dishwashers have increased household chore-time.

But will any of this make us happier? Not in the sense promised by the advertising, but that’s never realistic. For example: This is a woman dreaming of an electric coil heating element that can be replaced, and gives constant heat at the touch of a button.

 

  

Also a deep-fry component built into the oven itself:

 

 

These things float in front of her, tantalizing, out of reach. She has come to believe that things will ever be out of reach, and her disappointment is profound.

 

 

 

Until she realizes that the new Imperial line from Frigidaire - sold, I might add, by Frigidarians - has all this, and more. These pictures are from a 1956 Frigidaire film shown to retailers, telling them how the new line changes everything. It has Freedom Giving Features like the Brain Center:

 

 

Once she realizes what marvels await, she walks over to the fridge and gives it a loving nuzzle:

 

 

Everything has a scientific. Everything is new. Everything is a miracle of modern technology. Everything that came before was suddenly obsolete. Did it make anyone happier? That really wasn’t the point. The point was to sell appliances, adn if you were happier in the bargain, great! You probably would be happier, too, in a sense - the old oven had a busted door, the clock didn't work, the burners were undependable. The new one has even heat, self-cleans, and the door opens without a hideous squeak. It's not that your life will now go happily-ever-after, but those annoyances are now in the past. There's a new sense of what's ordinary and normal, and it's better. So time to find something else in your life to upgrade and improve. It never ends.

Here you go: from the golden era of corporate propaganda.

 

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