Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

I’ve had social accounts that share words and pictures, and I’ve tried to be diligent about tagging them with appropriate little nuggets of text so that when others click on them, they will get to enjoy a vast collection of perfectly curated Instawhatevers or Flickapics or Twitterverbs.

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that some people:

  • Have a different idea of what a three letter acronym or a short word means when I do, or…
  • Simply are sloppy with their tags, plastering the same chunk over a vast number of pictures that may or may not be relevant to anything.

They may simply be younger, hipper, or live in a very different universe than the one I inhabit. But hey, any world that I’m welcome to is better than the one I come from (thank you Steely Dan.)

Let’s start with one I tagged when I shot a distinctive pavement marking just the other day:

  • ZFS. Every right-thinking computer geek knows this is a file system for (primarily) UNIX-based machines. Instagram seems to have a lot of pics related to the ‘Z Fit Studio’ which offers power weights and zumba.
  • VTR. This stands for Videotape Recorder. You know, those large things that..uh..record television on videotape? The big brother to VCRs. But again Instagram seems to be burdened with a bunch of pictures of something called a Citroen C4 VTR. The VTR brand doesn’t even show up on Citroen’s Wikipedia page, but an Irish car blog says “VTR is simply a Citroen trim level, and indicates a car in the middle of the range — well-equipped, but not the most expensive version.” Yeah, well, that’s not this:
  • Sohio. Ladies and gentlemen. This is the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, accept no substitutes. Sohio stations absolutely saturated the Ohio landscape in the 1960s and 1970s, until the early 80s when they were subsumed into BP Oil.
    Yet, annoyingly, a country-ish band based in Ohio decided, har de har har, to call themselves ‘Sohio,’ and subsequently, a brewery in Columbus, the state capital, put out some kind of beer called Sohio Stout, both of which sound like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Thus, the Instagram tag page has all kinds of odd stuff including italian olives (!?) and hip-hop dudes and, well, it’s a mess. Please, please, think of the Sohio-seeking children. Or late-night-surfing geezers trying to reconnect with the 1970s. Please.

I’ll spare you most of the others, but suffice it to say that Penn Central is a defunct railroad, Chyron and Vidifont are two pieces of ancient TV technology to put words on the screen (NOT the lower third banners themselves!) and GVG is a brand of video switcher. They deserve their uniqueness in the tagosphere.


Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

The vast, vast world of the streaming contentverse. So many choices. So many chances to see antiheroes, vast ensemble casts of unlikable protagonists, and the maiming and the martial arts kicks and the vehicular chases that defy the laws of physics…phew.

In other words, I’m not finding a lot for us to watch.

The easy answer is: we’re aging out of the demographic. But hey, wait, we have disposable income! We’re in the market for cool things, not just Medicare supplemental insurance! Those numbers people should be wanting to target us even now!

Eh, maybe not. I’ll just have to sift more diligently through the trailers and the pre-rolling app blipverts and mentions scattered throughout the web for possibles.

@jcburns January 20, 2020 at 8:31 am


Rainbow connection.

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

My dear partner of some 30 years and my fellow blogger Sammy would handle a day like today in a concise, vivid way. She would discuss that we went on a walk in the neighborhood on a day that was very cold (especially in the shadows) and very windy pretty much everywhere we weren’t sheltered by tall structures.

One of the best places to be wind-sheltered and still outside is the Old Fourth Ward Park, just south of the Ponce City Market, which in turn is just across Ponce from our Whole Foods and Home Depot, which in turn is just a fence and a parking lot south from the Trader Joe’s we frequent. There, in a nutshell, is a lot of our Frequently Accessed Infrastructure, and the Atlanta BeltLine runs down the eastern edge of all of it, and on a weekend, that means we commune with our neighbors as we stroll and are passed by hurtling bicycles and prancing joggers aplenty. A-plenty.

So, as I said, Sammy would cover this in a tenth as many words, and she’d poetically call your attention to the visual highlight of the day, which would probably be this fine rainbow viewed from the south edge of the O4W Park fountain, spattered into a fine mist by the winds that made it into the recesses of the park’s ponds/lakes/drainage.

But today, it was our walk and thus our shared rainbow moment. Nice.


Saturday, January 18th, 2020

The cool thing about old analog video switchers was that they offered these incredibly inappropriate visual transitions between one source and another. And in the shorthand of American control rooms, they had distinctive names. A barn door wipe! A clock wipe! A corner wipe! A diamond wipe! A star wipe! A purple modulated football wipe!

You don’t see these employed much these days for obvious reasons of taste and style, unless, of course, you’re trying to evoke an earlier era, as in…the Star Wars films.

But at the trade shows where these mammoth vision mixing panels (as they would say in Europe) were displayed, the upper right corner with these buttons implied power and versatility…versatility that might have been a bit more ideal than real, once you sat down behind one of these things and tried to get a newscast on the air.

Broken but not silent.

Friday, January 17th, 2020

As the amount of impeachment-related news surges out of Washington, I’m feeling the need to grab my official J-school Dropout Blue Pencil™ and begin slicing through cliché-ridden tweets, copy, posts, the stuff of reporting on-air and on the printed page.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday broke nearly 72 hours of silence over alleged surveillance and threats to the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, saying he believed the allegations would prove to be wrong but that he had an obligation to evaluate and investigate the matter.

Yes, it’s the Associated-freaking-Press with this “broke his silence” crap. Matthew Lee, the AP’s State Department reporter.

Mr. Lee, Pompeo simply “spoke.” He emitted a statement sufficiently on the record to be reported, and that’s really all that needs to be done. Report it. Report when he has no comment. Report when he does. Your job is not to hold a stopwatch, tapping your foot, putting your personal expectations out there amidst the political hoo-hah.

Until he spoke, the State Department had declined repeated requests to offer any public defense of Yovanovitch, drawing fire from many.

This isn’t a firefight. It’s not a competition, a battle, or a prizefight. Characterizing this stuff as trading blows, or lashing out, or taking fire, or lobbing “bombshells” does nothing to further the cause of the free flow of information, and does everything to dilute the streams of reporting with so many clichés that they flow by uncomprehended. I’m quite sure this practice has the “crying wolf” effect that makes us just that much more numb every time you casually toss one of these not-so-bon mots into a piece.

And he drew fire “from many”, eh? That’s as bad as the President’s contrived use of this anonymous “many” in his tweets.

Yes, I most definitely think that the White House, the State Department, and all the various parts of the extremely disturbing Trump administration should be speaking daily, hourly, on the record, backed by documents. And if that doesn’t happen, that fact should be reported. But the moment that a statement is made, be it by a Washington politician, a British royal, or a Hollywood celeb, that is not “breaking his/her/their silence.”

That is “talking.” That is “saying something.”

I don’t think it’s the press’s job to referee Washington. It’s the press’s job to report on Washington (and elsewhere on the planet.) As I’ve said other times, I admire those who do it well. It’s often not at all fun. I’m sure it’s tedious. But no matter how long you do it, unless you’ve been specifically assigned to write an opinion piece consisting of your very own opinions, just leave your opinions out of your work.

You could always pour them into a blog post, I suppose.

Muted messages.

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

We are both, in our home, fairly fast on the mute button even as we consume what is probably an above average amount of commercial TV in real or real-ish time.

Yes, we have Netflix and Amazon Prime, but there are nightly news broadcasts and various other shows that have commercials embedded. And when you’ve muted them you can still see them. So there are a lot of commercials that I have seen—many times—yet never heard.

Does that count (in the world of ad buys and ratings) as an ‘impression’? I don’t know. In the aggregate, the impression I get from these is that there are a lot of older people who are enjoying their golden years (literally, cavorting in heaps of golden sunlight) out in the park or in a beautiful back yard with family and friends, and a fair number of dogs and cats.

Obviously, that’s not a very complete message. Maybe I’m tuning out the, ah yes, there’s type on the screen. There’s a product logo for some sort of mysterious thing: Elena, Humira, Yahwehanda—and there’s a more complex word, a name in tiny type that looks like a cat has taken a tumble on the keys. Huminiacronababatab! Zinfoldamawrapodun! There must be software that comes up with these names. And then at the bottom is three or four lines of type, changing throughout the commercial that, if you take a moment to read it in detail, lists warnings of side effects and possible consequences so dire that I would probably not be willing to take the risk, no matter what the drug did. Death is one of the lesser consequences!

And what does the drug—yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s a drug—do? Well, with the sound off, it’s really hard to tell. It seems to restore the ability to enjoy life in a golden light. It brings smiles, and romance, prosperity, security, and good, good health.

Just as long as none of that stuff enumerated at the bottom happens. Yee-gads.

These are long, expensively-produced commercials. I suppose I should be able to get more out of them than that.

But I think we like our mute button more than that option.

@jcburns January 15, 2020 at 9:59 pm

The @maddow interview is excellent. And I think one of the reasons it’s so good is it’s NOT live. It’s tight, it’s sober, it’s super-smart, and it doesn’t have all that live faux hoopla and “can you stay with us?” “We have 30 secs.” @npr please note!!

Posts published on January 23