Category Archives: Opinions

“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. 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 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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Leaf Blowers: Are you kidding me?

Leaf blowers

I realize I’m going to become like that old man who screams “Get off my lawn!” but this subject is just one that has to be addressed.

I love my neighborhood. I’m lucky to live a few short blocks away from a segment of the the brilliantly designed Boulevard System. I love that I can stand up from hours of computering, stretch, and then put the long leash on my dog and go for a long walk and relax among natury-things. Pretty hot. I’m not alone in hating on them.

Leaf blowers, though. I just don’t get it. Why assault our ears and waste fossil fuel when you can just bend over and rake those dead leaves into a bag? Seriously.

“Glowfest” .. or “what to be aware of”

Sexy video, right? So, Glowfest is basically a campus-touring electronic music marketing event, geared to snare in young people and capitalize on their attention for other means. By “other means” they’ve attached a job fest to it (actively seeking startups to participate, mind you), to seduce these young people who they feel are attracted by the emotions created through electronic music to then pursue careers in their highly technical fields. Oh, and I’m sure they’ve done the numbers and expect to make bank on it.

So you probably are wondering why I would even spend typing time on such a thing if I don’t want it promoted. Consider it a warning lesson to those of us in the industry: anything can be commodified and its original purpose subverted to the wills of people with less of a pure intention. Be aware and wary, and remember to always act to preserve the intention of your original work, if that’s what you’re after.

Sure, these traveling-festival-producers have made a sexy product–they clearly have great people on their team who do their jobs to perfection, and part of that attention to production will draw people in. I can only just shake my head at it, be aware of it, and then go back to my work sorting through other projects that deserve elevation and respect.

As a counter-example (and I know the metaphor might seem weird), I am a CSA member (Community Supported Agriculture), and this is a great feeling model to me, especially when it comes to “sourcing” “talent.”

UPDATE 10/27/12:
Marc from Meiotic Promotions had a great insight (via a Facebook thread, copied here with permission):

“Anything can be commodified and its original purpose subverted to the wills of people with less of a pure intention” – This pretty much hits it on the head.

As much as I’d like to think there’s a bright side – i.e. the usual arguments of “exposing electronic music to a wider audience/getting kids excited about electronic music” – it’s just blatant and obvious; a byproduct of whole the “EDM = homogenization of electronic music” discussion that we’ve had amongst our peers.

Where this thing takes the cake though is the “rave” branding. Oh to have been a fly on the wall when they had the meeting/conference call to discuss tour branding (“hrmmm… how can we name our festival so we capitalize off this EDM/Rave thing? Ravefest? Ravedancefest? Glowstickdancingfest? GLOWFEST! = $$$$. Oh yea…. we better throw in a job fair so we look collegiate about this.”)

You can’t hate on artists for wanting to get paid either… so the fault lies with the approach of the event producers. It’s not that they’ve lost perspective; it’s whether there was even a sincere perspective to begin with. Sadly, the latter sentiment has prevailed here… again.

What’s really going on in debates over issues these days

Why are we even discussing gay marriage any more? Just yesterday this issue started being thrown around accompanied by intense debate, and suddenly our current president, Obama, vehemently takes one side all of a sudden when four years ago after he was elected he was silent.

Isn’t it funny that every so often a certain emotional issue will pop up in the news that creates such a flurry of heated debate? Have you noticed? First there’s something in the news about the role of government in one’s personal life, as in things like “jobs” “healthcare” “human rights” and so on: things that appeal to your basic sense of security as an individual. Without a job you can’t sustain yourself, and you might get sick and then have no way to pay for treatment, and you might even not be considered a human with basic rights to be treated as such when you need help! Oh no!

Now, did you wake up yesterday thinking, “Today I will focus the majority of my thoughts on MARRIAGE,” or did you read or hear something that provoked a strong emotional reaction in you that prompted you to say something about it?


I’m going to guess you did not wake up thinking about MARRIAGE until you heard someone else mentioning it and then fervently taking a stand on it. Now it seems you can’t look anywhere in social media land without people taking sides on it, passionately.

Am I right?

So, what’s going on, here?

Here’s something that’s going to show you what’s a major factor in this US election year.

Sit down first.

Here you go.

Letter to Lego: “Why you still have sausage party?”

[Emailed to Lego on 5/2/2012 since they have a charlimit on their comment form]

Hey guys,

I’m a woman who has been a Lego fan since I was a little girl. I loved cars, and I loved hotel rooms, and I made the coolest spaceships and space stations from the random Lego sets my parents bought me. My style was “Airstream meets 2001: A Space Odyssey, plus Holiday Inn” (because, c’mon, every space cruiser needs a pool!). It was super fun building vehicles for imaginary adventures. Luckily, I still create stuff as an adult even though they aren’t space Winnebagos.

I gotta say though… I have yet to see one girl represented in your “Cool Creations” shout-out spread where you feature works by kids.

Granted, I may have overlooked some issues, but this kind of layout is typical.

And yet, your advertisements for your Legolands have a pretty fair split between the sexes.

What gives? It’s 2012 already, and we should be beyond this gender-skewed thing.

I’m guessing it’s one of two things. Either you’ve got a photo editor who favors boys’ creations, or you’re just not getting enough girls to submit the stuff they’ve made. If it’s the latter… that’s kind of disturbing, and I’m perplexed why you haven’t addressed it.

I love what your company represents–creativity, architecture, engineering, “building worlds” all that. But as I flipped through my last issue, I did notice it’s emphasis on superheros and cartoon drama. While that’s necessarily not a bad thing, you’ve created the heros as males, and since the viewer is supposed to identify with the protagonist, you might be turning off girls who “can’t see themselves” in that situation.

Don’t you think girls should be welcomed into fields of engineering and creating? It might be a bigger question that you as a company can simply answer and solve, but I’d really like to hear your thoughts on these issues.

Thanks for your time,
Liz McLean Knight