“The Family” from 1974 was Britain’s first reality TV show. No, really…

The BBC’s documentaries are generally top notch–the polar opposite of current US “edutainment” shows that have distilled down formulas to get the highest eyeballs. It’s little wonder that The Family (above–full) from 1974 would be the precursor to reality TV shows–but that theirs would be more “fly on the wall” and genuinely curious about and relatively impartial towards their subject. An American Family from 1971 is its precursor, but I haven’t checked it out yet.

Compare this style to a parody of what masquerades as reality TV in the states, one that’s blatantly geared towards a perceived audience who apparently incapable of paying attention unless there are gongs or trombones to highlight emotional moments, and chopped up, heavily edited dialog that literally spells out the dialog needed to prove a point.

Check out this British parody of what it’s like to watch an American reality show:

[The Family] followed the working-class Wilkins family of six (led by Margaret and Terry, who divorced in 1978) of Reading, through their daily lives, warts and all, and culminated in the marriage of one of the daughters, which was plagued by fans and paparazzi alike. The show was the basis for two parodies: Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in their very last episode which aired 5 December 1974, featured a sketch called “The Most Awful Family in Britain 1974″; and Benny Hill, on one of his 1975 specials, did a takeoff called “That Family.” Margaret re-married (like her ex-husband) and became Margaret Sainsbury; she died of a reported heart attack in Berkshire on 10 August 2008, aged 73.”

Zebra “Pencils”

I was going through pencil lead like mad from working on various sewing projects (I’ll share these soon, promz!) so I went to my IRL Staples for lead and found these guys instead. I find it positively hilarious, and I wonder why they haven’t thought of this before. I have been a long-time fan of Zebra mechanical pencils because 1) they are stainless steel and look pretty techno and 2) they last forever. So, while poking around to look at replacement lead I spotted these and thought I’d give them a shot. I love that they put the little aluminum eraser-binding bit in, but the parts that wear down are completely replaceable.

They’re much lighter than wood pencils, but the length is cool because they feel a bit “used,” as in, you’ve sharpened them enough and they’ve gotten shorter. I’m sure Zebra was just thinking of cost, but the attention to detail is a welcome surprise.

I couldn’t find them online, nor on the Zebra site, but they do have a cheezy childish version here.

RollingJubilee.org: Crowdsourced debt reduction for the 99% by the 99%

Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%. — ROLLINGJUBILEE.ORG

Once I read about rollingjubilee.org and realized how brilliant it was, I laughed alone in my office for like, two minutes straight. Then I went straight to PayPal and sent them funds courtesy of Fractalspin.

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