Thursday, 31 January 2008

Great Is The Enemy Of Good

This is a phrase that I've been using for quite a while, though I tend to put it "Perfect is the enemy of good". Over at Coding Horror they've found that Steve Martin, whose prior funniness does indeed forgive him any number of Father of the Brides, shares a very similar opinion:
The consistent work enhanced my act. I learned a lesson: it was easy to be great. Every entertainer has a night when everything is clicking. These nights are accidental and statistical: like lucky cards in poker, you can count on them occurring over time. What was hard was to be good, consistently good, night after night, no matter what the circumstances.

Coding Horror recasts this as: strive to be consistently good, and the greatness takes care of itself. I don't know, though, I think it actually comes out as: Great happens, good takes work.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

That Explains So Much

Via Boing Boing comes an article in Fast Company that attempts to refute Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. I've sort of avoided the Tipping Point as it just seems like one of those books that has one central, easily expressed, marketable idea that it then expounds for 300 pages, so I'm not entirely sure how this article succeeds. What did strike me, however, was the study looking at how pop hits happen:
Nor did there seem to be any compelling correlation between merit and success. In fact, Watts explains, only about half of a song's success seemed to be due to merit. "In general, the 'best' songs never do very badly, and the 'worst' songs never do extremely well, but almost any other result is possible," he says. Why? Because the first band to snag a few thumbs-ups in the social world tended overwhelmingly to get many more. Yet who received those crucial first votes seemed to be mostly a matter of luck.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Understanding Art for Geeks

Via the commments in Making Light I found this page, Understanding Art for Geeks. It's clever, funny and, yes, geeky in varying amounts. Some pictures I laughed at and others I frowned at until I think I figured the joke out. I liked the one below in particular:

Thursday, 24 January 2008

The Youth Of Today

Some times you despair:

Third of teens 'drink to get drunk'

The other two-thirds presumably just don't know what they're doing.

Mums, eh?

As Lou Reed once had it, you can't always trust your mother, but it worked out fine for the Little Baby Cheeses.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

New Poster

For our second Weyer gig at the Café Adabei they let me use the "South Park" Blueberries logo. I've got rid of some text compared to the last one and next time I think we'll be confident enough to get rid of the left-hand bar as it's just text and people are beginning to know who we are. I think this is nicely bold, though.

It's Always Tease Tease Tease

Star Trek XI Teaser Trailer. You know you want it.

Update: Huh?

Monday, 21 January 2008

The Distance Between Fantasy And Reality

A site called West Virginia Surf Report has tasked itself with documenting ads vs. reality when it comes to fast food. Comparing what they got out of the box with the photo the fast food place wanted you to believe it would look like. Like many good ideas this is obvious, yet fascinating.

Also, it made me feel hungry...

Via Accidental Hedonist

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Putting the Mental into Fundamental

Charlie Stross has uncovered an uncovering of fundamentalist wisdom. The examples he gives are all funny, but this one made me laugh out loud:

"One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn't possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it."

Indeed they would.

Free Graphic Novels

Via TMN comes news of a page that does exactly what it says on its headline 17 Sensational, Free and Downloadable Graphic Novels. I've not really read anything on here, but Sandman and Y: The Last Man are both highly regarded (and I've downloaded them for later perusal). I have though read a later edition of Sandman and some other Neil Gaiman stuff so if the rest of the freebies here are of that standard then there's some worthwhile reading here.

One thing. You can get more freebies on a link from the Sandman page. If you go here, Vertigo have a catalogue of what looks like their whole range, and those with a "#1" next to them have downloadable first issues and there are any number of well regarded (again, I've not actually read but I know them by repute) comics including The Invisibles and Preacher. So now's my, and your, chance to find out if these things are any good.

Alan Shearer: Black & White Widow

I try to avoid footballing matters on this site (I'm a Leeds fan, so insert your own punchline here), but the seemingly farcical goings on at Newcastle are reaching a fever pitch at the moment. Hilariously, it seems that they've retreated to the past and given Kevin Keegan, that old Donny Rovers reject, a chance to re-live former glories by making him manager again. A move that may be inspired, but more likely will end in yet another televised melt down. I'd love it, I'd really really love it...

Anyway, Alan Shearer seems to be attempting the interesting juggling trick of appearing to stay out of it while, at the same time, presenting himself as a man of influence. Over at the Guardian, Michael Hann asks whether this influence is, or was, a good thing. He comes down on the side of bad:
His behaviour over the course of this season has been, frankly, cowardly and cruel. He allowed Sam Allardyce to be hung out to dry in his name, without ever saying a word about his own intentions or feelings. He's displayed breathtaking arrogance in his apparent belief that he has nothing to learn from any more experienced managers. And his failure to discuss any of this in any meaningful way has displayed incredible contempt for his employer, the BBC, and Newcastle's fans. And still he is fawned over. It's baffling beyond belief.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Face of Boe Speaks

Yes, I have finally seen all of Torchwood (not quite the finished article, but I found it quite charming) and Doctor Who season 3 (gets better every season, I think, lots of fun but with the requisite scariness), as you can tell by my title reference.

John Barrowman, Captain Jack Harkness himself, gets interviewed over at Off The Telly and comes across as charming and honest. Just as you'd probably expect:

JOHN BARROWMAN: I'd play Jack for the next 10 years if you asked me to.

OTT: You're always going to be identified with him, aren't you?

JOHN BARROWMAN: Of course I am. And that's not a bad thing. You know, to be driving my car and to have my window down on a nice day and kids at a bus stop go, "Look, it's Capt Jack!"

Monday, 14 January 2008

Anthony Bourdain Has A Weblog

Via Bookslut comes news that Anthony Bourdain does, indeed, have a weblog. I don't really know that much about him, but I know a few people who admire his stuff, so this link's for them. Reading his blog, though, I do feel I ought to at least borrow some of his books.

Here's his response to commentors on his blog who feel he isn't "keeping it real" because he no longer works in a professional kitchen:

My instinctive reaction to this kind of inverse snobbery is normally a raised middle finger and a "I had twenty-eight years of standing behind a stove - while you were arguing over bundt cake recipes in a chat room, motherfucker! Now, kiss my ass!!"

But the fact is, there's a little voice in my head that completely agrees with their point of view.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

American Beer Culture

Boing Boing is many things. It's claim to be an expert on beer, though, has just taken a pounding. Using the American launch of a Heineken draught system to make some points about how not all beer is great, Joel Johnson, obviously worried that he wasn't getting enough comments on his blogs, added:
The United States has the richest, most exciting beer culture in the world.

No, really. Click the link above. He really said that. Ok, so he added "Discuss." afterwards to suggest that he didn't actually believe what he was saying and was just throwing out provocative statements to get the ball rolling. Still...

The comments instantly get in to arguments about number of breweries in various countries and states and how you have to know just the right bars if you want to find the true culture, etc, etc. One commenter uses one curious bit of logic:

Something to chew on: The US population is 303 million. Germany, the largest European country, is 82 million. Even if far fewer people as a portion of the population are enthusiastic about real beer, you still end up with an enormous culture, capable of some great beers.

That is also an explanation for all those great Football teams coming out of America in the last few years, I guess.

Anyway, the argument is simple. Once the US starts large scale production of a session beer anywhere near as good as a fresh pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord, then they might have a culture. Whether it becomes rich and exciting is entirely up to them.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Clarkson Puts Money Where Mouth Is. Loses It

Jeremy Clarkson. Loathe him or hate him, you have to admit that he's on the telly quite a bit. Especially when Dave has Top Gear days when they're not showing Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

He also writes for the Sunday Times. And for those who have always assumed that he really doesn't know what the heck it is he's talking about this story in today's Guardian will brighten your day:
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has admitted he was wrong to brand the scandal of lost CDs containing the personal data of millions of Britons a "storm in a teacup" after falling victim to an internet scam.

The outspoken star printed his bank details in a newspaper to try and make the point that his money would be safe and that the spectre of identity theft was a sham.

He also gave instructions on how to find his address on the electoral roll and details about the car he drives.

However, in a rare moment of humility Clarkson has now revealed the stunt backfired and his details were used to set up a £500 direct debit payable from his account to the British Diabetic Association.

Monday, 7 January 2008

End of The Wire

Over at The House Next Door they devoted Sunday's "Links of the Day" to the Wire and there's so much good stuff there that, rather than just steal a couple of links, I thought I'd send you there to find out for yourself.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

It's One Louder

Rolling Stone have an article that's at once intriguing and obvious. It's called "The Death of High Fidelity - In the age of MP3s, sound quality is worse than ever" and it's about how music is being manipulated to sound good on a iPod (or whatever) at the expense of just about everything else:

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered — almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. "I think most everything is mastered a little too loud," Bendeth says. "The industry decided that it's a volume contest."

(Via Robot Wisdom)

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Back and Busy

You know how it is. I get back from Holiday to find every one is Korea has spent the whole time wishing me a merry Christmas and a happy big penis.

It's touching, in a way.

The Silvester gig at Gasfhof Blasl went very well, by the way. I tried not to spoil too many peoples' dinners and my between song banter had to be changed a little because of the presence of children. The first set was very strong. My voice seems to improve with every gig as I try and iron out the bugs from the last ones. After a tip from my Bro' I'm trying being confident of my note even if it's wrong (which gets less and less), it seems to work. The second set wasn't quite as solid as my timing was a bit off, apparently, and then the fireworks started.

Literally, thankfully. We did a whole bunch of news songs after that died down, which was slightly hit and miss though we ended really strongly with Hesitation Blues, Hoochie Coochie Man, My Baby Don't Wear No Panties and Crazy 'Bout Automobiles. Good stuff indeed.