Aziz Ansari, an extremely funny standup comedian, has just released "Dangerously Delicious," a comedy special that follows Louis CK's Live at the Beacon Theater DIY, DRM-free concert video, which netted CK over a million dollars. Ansari, who was an outspoken critic of SOPA and PIPA, is also asking for $5 for his DRM-free download, and has a very good ecommerce setup for buying and downloading the video, and is also using it to promote an upcoming tour.
Ansari isn't the only comedian who's trying this. As Mike Masnick notes on Techdirt, Jim Gaffigan is also following suit. Masnick laments that both Ansari and Gaffigan are slavishly copying CK's exact methodology, and wishes that each would experiment some with pricing, delivery and so on, in order to learn if there are ways of improving on CK's experiment.
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The one thing that concerns me a little about this is the fact that the deal terms are identical. I can understand why they're doing this. It's basically "don't mess with what worked for Louis." But I worry that the message people are getting is "$5 direct offering off a website is the secret." I don't think that's it. Lots of people have offered up a product for download off their website for a variety of prices. The key to making it work is not just the pricing. It's the way the offering is presented. I think it would be even cooler if some of these comedians experimented a bit more with branching out creatively around this business model.
Last week's 108th annual Explorer's Club dinner at NYC's Waldorf-Astoria featured the customary assortment of weird, gross and tantalizing food, starting with cow eyeball martinis (see Paul Adams's photo, below, of the eyeballs). Popular Science has the whole menu. Here's what the canapes were like:
Pineapple towers with scorpion, pea pods, strawberry slices, melon balls and green grapes
Sweet cherry peppers, cucumber flowerets and cherry tomatoes filled with assorted creamed fillings: durian paste, herbed and spiced cream cheeses, and garnished with crickets, mealworms and scorpions
Two varieties of seaweed with mild spices and olive oil
Sautéed and deep-fried earthworms
Orchids (edible) with a honey-sweetened creamed dipping sauce
Chon and Kopi Luwak coffees, made from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of small mammals
Jenny Lawson, creator of the Bloggess blog, has posted a long and extremely funny excerpt from her forthcoming book Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir). The excerpt, from chapter 15, details Lawson's bizarre experiences working in a corporate HR department, coping with the terrible behavior of the employees, the awfulness of the corporate bureaucracy, and the absurdly bad job applications she received.
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When I was in HR, if someone came to me about a really fucked-up problem, I’d excuse myself and bring in a coworker to take notes, and the employee would relax a bit, thinking, “Finally, people are taking me seriously around here,” but usually we do that only so that when you leave we can have a second opinion about how insane that whole conversation was. “Was that shit as crazy as I thought it was?” I would ask afterward. It always was. Sadly, HR has very little power in an organization, unless the real executives are on vacation, and then watch out, because a lot of ass-holes are going to get fired.
There are three types of people who choose a career in HR: sadistic assholes who were probably all tattletales in school, empathetic (and soon to-be-disillusioned) idealists who think they can make a difference in the lives of others, and those of us who stick around because it gives you the best view of all the most entertaining train wrecks happening in the rest of the company.
People who aren’t in HR always assume that people who are in HR are the biggest prudes and assholes, since HR is ostensibly there to make sure everyone follows the rules, but people fail to realize that HR is the only department actively paid to look at porn.
A large crowd of protesters, between 2,000 and 5,000 by various estimates, are marching through the streets of New York right now to draw attention to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The Florida teen was shot to death last month, in a case that has generated widespread outrage online.
Tim Pool has been running a live video stream of the march.
Here's a quick link to the relevant Twitter hashtag (#millionhoodiemarch), to follow tweets from people who are there. Seems like a lot of youth are present at this one, perhaps more so than at recent Occupy marches in New York. People are wearing hoodies, carrying bottles of iced tea and throwing Skittles in the air: Trayvon was wearing one, and holding that candy and beverage when he was shot. So far, police presence is high, but interactions are peaceful, and the crowd is doing its thing without much NYPD aggression. That could change before the night is through.
The parents of the slain teen are present, and addressed the crowd earlier.
Heard that a local news outlet claimed that there were dozens of people out here. There are thousands. #millionhoodies— EBONY Magazine (@EBONYMag) March 21, 2012
"In 2009, when I was guest-blogger at Boing Boing," he writes, "I helped get the ball rolling on the Royce and Marilyn craze." Indeed he did. His post today on the sad news includes many more videos and links.
Back in 1999, the LA Weekly ran the definitive profile on Royce and her comic partner Marilyn Hoggatt. A great loss to Weird Culture. These women were basically real-life versions of Absolutely Fabulous meets Norma Desmond, shaken up with a little Englebert Humperdinck samba. More great videos here. Read the rest
An anonymous MD has a guest-post on John Scalzi's blog describing her/his medical outrage at being asked to perform medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds on women seeking abortion, in accordance with laws proposed and passed by several Republican-dominated state legislatures. As the doctor writes, "If I insert ANY object into ANY orifice without informed consent, it is rape. And coercion of any kind negates consent, informed or otherwise." The article is a strong tonic and much-welcome -- the ethics of medical professionals should not (and must not) become subservient to cheap political stunting, and especially not when political stunt requires doctors' complicity in state-ordered sexual assaults.
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1) Just don’t comply. No matter how much our autonomy as physicians has been eroded, we still have control of what our hands do and do not do with a transvaginal ultrasound wand. If this legislation is completely ignored by the people who are supposed to implement it, it will soon be worth less than the paper it is written on.
2) Reinforce patient autonomy. It does not matter what a politician says. A woman is in charge of determining what does and what does not go into her body. If she WANTS a transvaginal ultrasound, fine. If it’s medically indicated, fine… have that discussion with her. We have informed consent for a reason. If she has to be forced to get a transvaginal ultrasound through coercion or overly impassioned argument or implied threats of withdrawal of care, that is NOT FINE.
Our position is to recommend medically-indicated tests and treatments that have a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio… and it is up to the patient to decide what she will and will not allow.
McNaughton Fine Art is selling "One Nation Under Socialism" by Jon Naughton starting at just $345 for framed, signed, numbered Giclée prints. I was going to link to this artist's statement generator, but realized his *actual* artist statement is even better: "When I paint a patriotic painting...its like throwing a stick of dynamite in the pond!" [sic]. I don't know how serious this guy is about the patriot business, though: the word "Giclée" sounds pretty unamerican to me. (via @texasinafrica) Read the rest
I disagree with the approach taken by Invisible Children in particular, and by the White Savior Industrial Complex in general, because there is much more to doing good work than "making a difference." There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them.
Read "The White Savior Industrial Complex" at the Atlantic.
Revealed! Kony 2012's sinister Musical Comedy roots Kony 2012 screening in Uganda results in anger, rocks thrown at ... Kony 2012's Visible Funding: Invisible Children's anti-gay ... Leave Kony Alone Medical aid worker on Kony 2012: "The aid industry has just been ... African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign ... Invisible Children co-founder detained for vandalizing cars, public ... Read the rest
Earlier this week, I blogged the Pirate Bay's announcement of a plan to set up mirrors of its servers in high-altitude aerial drones with wireless Internet links. TorrentFreak has a discussion of Electronic Countermeasures, a project from Tomorrow's Thoughts Today, a London thinktank. Electronic Countermeasures does much of what TPB proposes, creating an "aerial napster" that uses autonomic swarm formation to create, disperse, and reform high-throughput temporary networks in the sky.b
Liam Young, co-founder of Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, was amazed to read the announcement, not so much because of the technology, because his group has already built a swarm of file-sharing drones.
“I thought hold on, we are already doing that,” Young told TorrentFreak.
Their starting point for project “Electronic Countermeasures” was to create something akin to an ‘aerial Napster’ or ‘airborne Pirate Bay’, but it became much more than that.
“Part nomadic infrastructure and part robotic swarm, we have rebuilt and programmed the drones to broadcast their own local Wi-Fi network as a form of aerial Napster. They swarm into formation, broadcasting their pirate network, and then disperse, escaping detection, only to reform elsewhere,” says the group describing their creation.
FoxxFur, the brilliant, pseudonymous design critic and scholar of Disney themeparks, is back again, with the first post in a series of long analyses of the use of lighting fixtures in the design of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park. FoxxFur matches the attention-to-detail of the original Imagineers, unearthing a design sensibility that is incredibly subtle, and making a strong case that this subtlety isn't wasted -- rather, it all contributes to an overall sense of consistency and immersion that is the secret of the Disney park success.
One of the best light poles in the entire park, these tall lamps manage to represent Main Street, Adventureland and the Hub all at once. They span the bridge leading from the Crystal Palace to the gateway to Adventureland.
The Hub features much more utilitarian lamps overall, very similar to those seen outside the train station amidst the turnstiles. I think these were selected to create a garden-like atmosphere throughout the Hub, which benefits in Florida greatly from her meandering waterways, sloping lawns, and expansive flowerbeds, recalling the European gardens which inspired Disneyland. Their frosted globes link the entry area, Main Street, and the Hub in a single unified organically flowing movement.
Our tall lamps, above, are unique and occur only at the Crystal Palace bridge. While their tall shape mimics the castle and their frosted globes remind us of Main Street, notice the details of leaves, fronds, and lion heads - hinting at what will be seen nearby in Adventureland.
Writing in The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann describes the popping of the "law school bubble," which saw large numbers of law-school enrollees who hoped to graduate into six-figure salaries but instead are facing "six figures of crushing debt and murky career prospects."
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These new statistics are the latest evidence that young Americans are getting the hint that the market for lawyers is perhaps not what it once was. It wouldn't matter that fewer people were taking the LSAT if the same number of young folks were ultimately showing up for their first year of law school each fall. But that total seems to be dropping, too. According to the LSAC, the number of students who accepted admission to a law school dropped 8 percent last year, from 49,700, to 45,617 -- the smallest incoming class since at least 2002. (Last year's number isn't published on the Council's website yet, but was provided to me by a spokeswoman). The number of applications also dropped dramatically, which could force law schools to ease up on their mind bogglingly expensive tuition.
One might argue that the drop-offs in test takers and applicants are just the result of an improving economy. After all, more people go to law school when the broader job market is weak. But America's slowly brightening employment picture doesn't seem like a likely cause in this instance. At the AmLaw Daily, Matt Leichter forecasts the size of this year's final applicant pool per law school, and compares it to the trend in the United States' employment to population ratio.