Saturday, October 01, 2011

A two-faced cat

Rebecca sent this story (incl. video) of cat with two faces, surviving so far to twelve years. I dunno what we can learn from this, but golly, it's not something you expect to see. It's virtually unique for such a creature to survive.
I like that his name is "Frank and Louie", very funny.
"You can look on this cat at as sort of a bad omen, or as sort of a miracle."

LoveFilm "does a Netflix"

[Note: can you guys tell me which other European countries presently have movie disk rental service by post? And if it includes streaming yet?]

I've just found out that the UK DVD rental service LoveFilm, which I'm already using and have for over ten years (since 2000, when they were called DVDsOnTap), now lets you stream lots of films to your iPad, included free in your subscription, like NetFlix. I honestly didn't really believe this kind of thing would come to Europe. (Update: it works on my Mac too, I didn't really think it would since last I checked they could not deliver pay-per-view to Macs.)

The little bastiches are using it in promotion, but they had not informed us subscribers about it!       :-)

The picture and sound quality is really good, better than DVDs I have ripped. And the selection seems good too, not just b-movies from before 1980. Almost 6,000 titles at the moment.
(I think this will make me forgive that they have animated ads on their site. If I didn't have ad-blocking on my browser, this would test my patience a lot.)

It's really remarkable value for money. Especially since you don't have to be so durn careful and read five reviews before ordering a movie for rental, 'cuz if you don't like it, it'll only take you 20-40 seconds to find and start watching a new one, as opposed to several days with the disk delivery. I'm honestly not sure how big the percentage of the movies are which I am really interested in, it might be pretty small. But this system also allows you to experiment more, for example The Interview is a (in)famous movie which I previously had not bothered with, but now I know what it's like (nasty, but not a bad movie).

This was at the last minute I found out about it too. Between rental as well as purchased DVDs and blu-rays, web videos, and cable subscription, I never have anything to watch!!
But honestly, my purchased-disk shelf is moving rather slowly, I'm beginning to think I'll never get down to the fourth season of the Cosby Show, which I bought... at least two years ago (gawd, it might be three).  Today, entertainment is an embarrassment of riches. I remember the nineties, where one might go to Blockbusters (oops, dead too now, another victim of digital delivery) and stare at the shelves until blood spurted out of the eyes.

And before you had video... one evening the only half interesting movie within range in the cinema was Indiana Jones 4, and it was so bad that even a group of teen girls were making fun of it as we left the cinema after a late-nigh showing one fine summer's eve: "seriously, that was a ridiculous movie, wasn't it?" (Come on, it it had chases on any vehicle which can move, and at one point IJ was walking in a underground passage with gasoline to over his ankles, carrying a torch which was dripping little flaming bits down into the gasoline without effect! Until the plot demanded exploding gasoline, of course.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Debbie Harry (updated) - French Kissin' In The USA

Not my favorite-ever of Debbie's but I just now noticed her voice in a fresh light... it's really amazing, isn't it? Sort of larger than life, a unique quality to it.

And Debbie's (Deborah who?) biggest solo hit, I Want That Man:

"I want to move like what's his name / I'll keep the money, you can have the fame."

Barbie turns fifty

This has probably been around for a while, since Barbie turned fifty in 2009.
Hey, did you know her full name is "Barbara Millicent Roberts"? Holy cow.

I'm always fascinated by megahits like Barbie or Harry Potter. What exactly makes the difference which takes something from Successful to World Domination? Sure, good marketing and such things matter, but there must be something in the Common Public Mind... an archetype they just exactly fit, or something.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazon Publishing and bits versus atoms

Amazon Publishing: How it controls whole book supply chain, article.

Amazon... an innovative publishing partner who gives authors much more control even when Amazon is an actual publisher for them? Or a predatory near-monopoly which gobbles up whole industries on its merciless path?
Or both? ["Dad! Lisa is making me see both sides of an issue again!"]

It's clear though that a key issue is that words and sound and images are inevitably moving to digital delivery. If nothing else, the as the physical delivery gets more marginalized, it will become more expensive, which will marginalize it further. And Net bandwidth just gets bigger and cheaper. The book Being Digital told us about "bits versus atoms" over fifteen years ago! And despite this, many traditional companies had clearly not really realized this, seeming to cling to a sinking ship in desperate hope that it won't sink much more. Borders was not a small chain, but now it is gone.

In the meantime Amazon, which started by just shipping paper books, made a risky and difficult move by starting on the whole Kindle venture. Making such a device and publishing system is far from trivial. But it's becoming clear that they did many, many things right, and they are well on the way to just owning ebook publishing. Even Apple, which otherwise is the kingpin of the tech world right now, has not made much inroads in competing with Amazon, at least not in books, the iBooks store is not much to write home about. And with the new Kindle Fire, Amazon is seriously coming after the other arms of media publishing also.

Some say that the new Kindle Fire 7-inch tablet is a feeler, and that if successful, Amazon might bring out a bigger tablet next year. And it's hard to see why they should not do so, honestly. If anybody has a shot at the "iPad killer", jogging past the dead corporate bodies littered over that battlefield, it's Amazon, simply because they already have the infrastructure in place, not to mention the customers. Something which you could not say about HP or RIM.

But apropos traditional publishing: it's interesting how apparently getting rid of the high expenses of printing and distribution would make it harder to make money for some companies!
But then everybody else got rid of those expenses (barriers) too, levelling the field enormously, almost completely. And I guess when the field gets levelled, those who stand to lose are those who previously had the hill tops.

Bruce said...
I have to tip my cap to Amazon, because they have shown that they can change direction and adapt to what is going on around them. I tend to overlook Amazon's achievements because I'm a big fan of Apple, who are the best at adapting and changing. But Amazon is a strong second place, with most other companies tied for 50th place! :-)
There is also a lot of encouragement to buy more that what I'm looking for. Buying one thing from them leaves me feeling like I have disappointed them because I didn't buy three things.

 eolake said...
Yes, they are *total* geniuses at business. I have bought for tens of thousands of bucks from them over the years, and they've given me no reason to stop.

Just one example is that unlike most companies, especially big ones, they bend over backwards to give extra-extra good service. If somebody breaks the screen of his Kindle, as like as not they'll just send him a new one straight away.

I guess if one thing is regrettable, it's that their low prices and their cut makes it very hard for their partners to make money, from what I hear, yet most feel it's worse to not be on Amazon than to be. At least I've heard this about (paper) books, not sure to what degree it's true of all the other businesses they're in.

Indian summer

We seem to have an Indian Summer here in Northern Europe. I mean real summer weather despite it being late September, yesterday, today, and seemingly for a couple days yet, then they predict a pretty drastic temperature drop.

The weather service said the temperature here in Northern England reached 26 Celcius! Hokey mama. That's ridic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dylan Moran - On The French

One of his best bits. Seems improvised, freewheeling. Inspired for  sure.

Moose hunters

Two hunters got a pilot to fly them into the Alaska wilderness, where they managed to bag two big bull moose.

As they were loading the plane to return, the pilot said the plane could take only the hunters, their gear and one moose.

The hunters objected strongly saying, "Last year we shot two, and the pilot let us take them both...and he had exactly the same airplane as yours."

Reluctantly the pilot, not wanting to be outdone by another bush pilot, gave in and everything was loaded.

However, even under full power, the little plane couldn't handle the load and went down, crashing in the wooded wilderness.

Somehow, surrounded by the moose, clothing and sleeping bags, the two hunters survived.

After climbing out of the wreckage, one asked, "Any idea where we are?" The other replied, "I think we're pretty close to where we crashed last year."

"Rob Liefeld sucks"

The 40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings
Thanks to Pascal, here is a long and funny rant about a guy many considers extremely overrated. It has lots of examples and explanations why the drawings suck.
I think everyone needs to realize that Rob Liefeld was THE MOST POPULAR COMIC BOOK ARTIST IN THE WORLD at the time.  His comics sold millions of copies.  He starred in a Levi’s commercial that was ABOUT HIM.  AND THIS IS WHAT HIS ART LOOKED LIKE.  HE MADE MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM THIS

Yep, the world is not fair, it seems.

Admittedly the author seems excessively upset, and arguably the article is not better written than Liefeld's drawings are drawn. But it's funny I think.

By the way, I wouldn't really blame Rob Liefeld. Let's be honest, if the market wants to grossly over-pay you, how many of us will say no, on the grounds that we are undeserving?
(And if that's not a straight line for dear Anon to hack away at me over, I never wrote one.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dylan Moran

I found him originally in the wonderful series Black Books.

Never worry

Quit worrying about your health. It'll go away.
           -- Robert Orben

The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.
           -- Havelock Ellis

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Normally I update both my monitors's desktop art at the same time, with two images that match. But this time I just updated one. And I just was struck by the odd and funny juxtaposition of the two images, the soft and warm drawing on the left, against my stark and cold photo on the right.


[Thanks to Jim]
(Another one deserving to be seen in HD on youboobs.)

They are remarkable, seen as mechanical flying constructions.

Carl Larsson art

Thanks to Adam for sending me this outstanding drawing by Carl Larsson. I think it's really good considered either as a nude or just as a drawing.
The composition is unusual, at first look it falls apart on the left, but he may be purposefully pushing the envelope, I think I could get used to it. And the world certainly does not want for drawings/paintings with safe and overly balanced compositions.

(If you want an even larger version than Blogger allows, here is a 4.4MB zip file of a 4000 px version.)