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Last night, Mykala and I watched the Academy Awards in glorious high definition. During her eloquent acceptance speech, I did notice that Lupita Nyong’o’s elocution is so refined that if she were a violinist, my own speech would be that of a rubber band stretched around a kleenex box


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5 Things About Television

  1. “Your 1920x1080 TV takes a 1920x1080 signal, chops the edges off it and then stretches the rest to fit the screen because of decisions made in the 1930s.”
    Matthew Garrett

  2. “120Hz and 240Hz TVs have the potential to show you each 24p frame for exactly 1/24th of a second, perfectly replicating The Way Movies Look, and that’s great. The problem is, it’s hard to make them do that, because of awful motion-smoothing settings that are On by default.”
    Stu Maschwitz

  3. “‘Can I choose?’, Beatrix asks. She’s still confused. She thinks this is like home where one can choose from a selection of things to watch. A well organized list of suggestions and options with clear box cover shots of all of her favorites. I have to explain again that it does not work that way on television. That we have to watch whatever is on and, if there is nothing you want to watch that is on then you just have to turn it off. Which we do.”
    Patrick Rhone

  4. “You know those [unskippable] FBI warning messages that appear at the beginning of DVDs and Blu-ray discs? They’re getting an upgrade—and they’re multiplying.
    The US government yesterday rolled out not one but two copyright notices, one to “warn” and one to “educate.” Six major movie studios will begin using the new notices this week.”
    Nate Anderson

  5. “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent [television],” he said. “[Apple is] not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
    — (Inspired by) Ed Colligan

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Down Time

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus is an important article, mostly because of this clear, sad fact:

So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project—every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in—that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it’s the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that’s 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads.

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“Since I rarely hug, I’m relying on your expertise for duration.”

Sheldon Cooper, Season 3 Episode 15 “The Large Hadron Collision” of The Big Bang Theory.

3D TV is Stupid

Three dimensional television is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. It’s not the glasses that bother me. It’s the fact that the extra dimension is superfluous: two dimensions are perfectly evocative of reality. I believe that adding a third dimension just gives the TV networks and movie studios an opportunity to charge more for their broadcasts and films.


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TV News is Broken

Charlie Brooker, in “How To Report The News” helps us realize that the news produced all around the world everyday is just a parody of a tired format:

“He unfortunately was boring, so to wake you up: this is an animated chart, this is a silhouette representing the average family, and this is a lighthouse keeper being beheaded by a laser beam.”


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Late Night Shake Up

Jay Leno wants to move his show to the Tonight Show’s time spot, bumping Conan a half hour into the next day (12:05). In wonderfully well-written letter, Conan O’Brien Says He Won’t Host ‘Tonight Show’ After Leno - NYTimes Media Decoder Blog:


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Elmo is on Emeril right now. He’s wearing a Christmas cumberbund, and his hair is combed. This is the most adorable thing I have seen today. How can I study when Elmo is on Emeril?


Anthony Bourdain’s show on the Travel Channel continues to amaze me with its fantastic writing (does he do the writing for his voiceovers? I think he does…) and exotic locales. In the Spain episode, Bourdain visits his close friends, the father and daughter team who run the world class restaurant Arzak. A good quote from the father:



Back in 2003, during the final months of my high school career, I clipped a picture from the newspaper and placed it under the smoked glass that sits atop my Dad’s Infinity Column II speakers. This wasn’t a time that I really had anything straight in my life, but something in me wanted to save that piece of history. The picture is an AP photo of Fred Rogers, arms resting on model trolley tracks, on the set of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.


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Archuleta Sings Lennon

I’m not a bit American Idol watcher, but Mykala just pointed me towards this fantastic cover of Lennon’s “Imagine.” It’s this 17 year old David Archuleta, and he’s just spot-on perfect with every note. I think we have a winner!

Steal This Idea

Consider this: one month after only part of a song called “New Soul” by Yael Naim backed the first commercial for Apple’s Macbook Air, the song debuted at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Disregarding its precipitous tumble down the charts after that, it is easy to see that featuring music on TV can have a profound effect on sales. This brings me to my idea: illustrated radio.


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Lorelai on speed

This interesting tidbit about TV syndication is brought to you by lonelysandwich, who originally read it at neonmarg:

A lot of TV shows when run in syndication are sped up slightly and voices pitch corrected to sound normal (this lets the station get more commercials in). We observed that this is an unwise techinque when applied to the fast-talking Gilmore Girls.


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Star Trek

Star Trek

Katy checked out the Star Trek seasons from our local library — they look really great remastered. This is the title card for an episode from season 2.

Mid-Century Television Sets

An interesting introduction to the world of set designing for TV: you get 8500 square feet of space and 8 weeks during which you have to assemble a convincing (and in this case obsessively accurate) reproduction of a 1960’s office. Read more about this project at Dwell Blog - “Mid-Century Madness .” What I find particularly cool:


Paul Potts

In this video, a mobile phone salesman on “Britain’s Got Talentsings Nessun Dorma. I won’t spoil the results, though you may have seen this one already.

TV Corner

TV Corner

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Simpsons Reviews

An update from Metacritic, on the eve of the release of The Simpsons Movie: it is slotting in between Hot Fuzz and Knocked up, sporting a strong rating of “82.” This is high enough to merit the movie “universal acclaim.”


Let’s geek out: sulfur hexafluoride

Mykala and I saw some great science demos on Jay Leno; they were centered around a chemical called sulfur hexafluoride. Heretofore, I hadn’t heard of it. It has some really unique properties - for one, it’s a super dense gas, and so it flows like an invisible liquid. You can float boats (well, makeshift aluminum foil rafts) on it when it’s in a fish tank, and it puts out fires like no one’s business (which is the reason it is used in electrical installations). It is extremely non-reactive, not unlike Teflon or other perfluorinated hydrocarbons (though, it’s a sulfur compound). Anyhow, I got to looking it up on Sigma Aldrich, which is the chemical company I ordered chemicals from when I worked organic synthesis at St. Thomas. So, the 99.75% pure form of sulfur hexafluoride clocks in at a smidge over a dollar per gram. Mykala estimated the fish tank filled with the stuff was about 50 liters. So, let’s see… at STP, one mole of an ideal gas takes up about 22.4L… which means they probably used about 3 moles of the stuff. It weighs about 146 grams per mole, sooo that’s north of $450 in sulfur hexafluoride. I guess they don’t skimp for Late Night science demonstrations.


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