Six days in September: NFL players seized control as league scrambled

Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham for ESPN:

"And so on Tuesday afternoon, 48 hours after the protests had defined a football Sunday, about 25 team owners entered the league's headquarters at 345 Park Avenue in New York City for routine committee meetings that quickly became anything but. Many barely paid attention during a stadium finance presentation. Finally, in the late afternoon, there was a meeting with owners and league executives to discuss what had happened. By then, Trump had tweeted nearly two dozen times attacking the NFL and its players. Tempers were hot."

I'm not a football guy—or a sports guy of any kind really—but if you're interested in some of the behind the scenes of the NFL players' protests during the national anthem, this is a worthwhile read.

Hollywood’s biggest names are ready to fight the ’liquid diarrhea’ of TV motion smoothing

I've never heard it called "liquid diarrhea" before, but good god, that's perfect.

I briefly sold TVs before I moved to Los Angeles, and one of the other salesmen loved motion smoothing. He'd show it off to potential buyers, praising how 'good' it made movies look. All I saw was artifacting. Artficating everywhere. Motion smoothing, higher refresh rates, smart TVs, and 3D were all gimmicks to try and sell you a new TV.

YouTube tightens rules around videos with external links

Adi Robertson at The Verge:

"Users must now join the YouTube Partner Program in order to add end cards with external links — a common way for YouTubers to point fans toward merchandise or Patreon pages. This limits the cards to channels with 10,000 total public views or more, once YouTube has approved them for the program."

YouTube is shit for creators. It's always been shit and will continue to be shit for the foreseeable future. But now it's especially shitty when you're a new creator starting out.

It’s time for Congress to fire the FCC chairman

Gigi Sohn—who served as counselor for former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler—in an op-ed for The Verge:

"The Senate vote on Pai is imminent. When it happens, it will be a stark referendum on the kind of communications networks and consumer protections we want to see in this country. Senators can choose a toothless FCC that will protect huge companies, allow them to further consolidate, charge higher prices with worsening service, and a create bigger disconnect between broadband haves and have-nots. Or, they can vote for what the FCC is supposed to do: protect consumers, promote competition, and ensure access for all Americans, including the most vulnerable. It shouldn’t be a hard decision, and what we’ve seen over the past eight months makes the stakes clear."

Remember how we thought the fight to preserve net neutrality was over? Ajit Pai is the reason we have to continue that fight.

Meet the internet’s go-to inside source for film’s booming trailer culture

There is definitely a huge part of online film culture that is centered around trailers. I personally would love it if studios would put more effort into making the trailers a part of the story, like the ancillary material that is being released for Blade Runner 2049. These not only deepen the story, they lure you into the world. But, as much as I prefer those, a movie theater isn't going to run a seven minute short film in the universe of an upcoming film during the trailers, not without some form of consideration from the studios. Until that changes, the two minute spoilertastic trailer will remain the norm.

Kneeling for Life and Liberty Is Patriotic

Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic:

"These original patriots risked death and pledged their sacred honor to those truths, for which they are properly honored, even in spite of their serious failures. Now as then, allegiance to those Founding principles is what defines a patriotic American, not whether he or she stands or kneels while an anthem about the flag is performed."

Trump is not a patriot. He is a self-aggrandizing narcissist with racist and fascist sympathies who used race-batiing and fear-mongering to further his own fortunes. He does not care about America, or it's dream. He doesn't care about its people, just himself and select progeny. The real patriots stand—or kneel—in opposition to Trump.

Reading

Growing up, whenever we traveled for vacation, I would inevitably have a bag filled with a half-dozen books in tow. They could be library books or books that I'd read a thousand times, but inevitably, I would’ve made my way through most of the books by the time our vacation was over.

Now, I've never really stopped reading. I spend hours a day perusing various news sites, online tech journals, and reading entertainment industry trades. In all honesty, I probably read as much today as I ever read in the past. The only difference is I stopped reading books.

This has always been one of those odd battles for me. I’ve never struggled with reading, but even as a kid, my mom—ever the teacher and librarian—would struggle to get me to read fiction. She even credits my discovery of Star Wars—and my desire to consume everything related to it—with getting me to read something other than a history book. But after the English classes of middle school, high school and college filled with classic pieces of literature, fiction has once again fallen to the wayside. I would still read, but I wouldn't be shocked if I was averaging only one-to-two books of fiction per year after I transferred to film school. In high school, I would’ve been reading one-to-two a month.

While the internet is a worthy replacement for non-fiction and news, I decided that my reading habits needed a kick in the proverbial behind. So, a few weeks ago, I started reading. A lot.

In the past three weeks, I’ve read the first three books in The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey, two books by John Scalzi (if you are a Trek fan, you need to read Redshirts), and, even though it was non-fiction, I also read Wil Wheaton’s Just A Geek. And because today is Hobbit Day, I’ve also started doing an in-depth re-read of The Lord of the Rings, something that’s been on my to-do list for awhile. Now, much of this reading onslaught is due to me currently enjoying hashtag funemployment, so it’s inevitable that I will eventually slow down. But I hope that this current effort pays off to become a good habit.

 

D&D Reader app brings paper reference books to your tablet

As much as I've wanted digital copies of the Dungeons & Dragons Core Rule books, considering that you have to pay-to-unlock all content for D&D Beyond and that the average player already has purchased physical copies of 5th Edition rulebooks, it's starting to feel like the players are being nickel-and-dimed. 

If Wizards integrated Reader and Beyond—where I could buy the Player's Handbook in one and have access to it on the other service—this would definitely become a instant buy for me. Until then, I have the Fight Club app by Lion's Den and a hardcover copy of the rulebooks.

Gamers like PewDiePie are why I don’t play online

As much as I enjoy some online games, there's a reason I always mute or minimize online chat. The casual racist, sexist, and homophobic language that pervades parts of gaming culture is appalling.

Still Flyin'

Back in 2005, when I first saw the trailer for Serenity, I had never heard of Firefly. All I knew as the trailer played was that I found something appealing about the film. I didn't know what it was, but I knew I wanted to see it. Yet, the world conspired against me, and I never saw Serenity in theaters until last year. But I did have a teacher who wanted to nurture my inner aspiring filmmaker, and he loaned me a copy of Firefly on DVD. I've been a Browncoat ever since.

Firefly came at an interesting time. It came out before the "TV Renaissance", and I was usually quick to judge television as the lesser artform compared to my beloved film. Firefly helped change that. Within a few minutes, I was sucked into a universe the way Star Wars and Lord of the Rings had sucked me in before. It felt real and alive, not stiff and sterile like the Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns on TV. I lurked on the fan forums, I read the comics, I even bought CDs of fan music. Firefly crept into the heart of my creative process, and even now when I'm working on a script, I see little hints of it sprinkled throughout. Firefly is what made me start to take television seriously.

A selfie I snagged with Nathan Fillion at Comic-Con in 2009.

The show may have first aired fifteen years ago, but you can't stop the signal.


Cassini's Final Images

NASA put together a gallery of images that Cassini took before it finally plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn.

Space is cool.

Filmmakers are using AR and Apple’s ARKit to create extravagant short films

Julia Alexander for Polygon:

Duncan Walker, an independent game developer based in London, England, used Apple’s ARKit and Unity 3D to make a short film in his iPhone 7. The film took a weekend to create and edit — something that would have taken weeks, if not longer, to do prior. The visual effect of the soldiers marching through the town are 3D rendered and, most importantly, done entirely on his phone. Moving the iPhone around his neighborhood and using the scenery involved, Walker is able to add virtual effects to the real world setting and produce a short narrative film.

Some of the videos they share are pretty rough, but the potential of AR filmmaking is exciting. It can only get better.

A telemarketer called my elevator

John Timmer for Ars Technica:

After a brief, wonder-filled period when the Do Not Call Registry seemed to be like magic, telemarketers are back. It's now rare for me to go a day without offers to help with the student loans I paid off decades ago or the credit card balances I studiously avoid having. I usually manage to hang up before the recording can finish its first sentence. But in this case, I stepped on to an elevator with a pitch in full swing and had to listen to it for six floors, not to mention the time involved in the doors opening and closing.

Until a few years ago, I never got telemarketing calls on my cell phone, but now I get about two robocalls a week. But a telemarketer calling an elevator? Robocalls are getting even more rediculous.

They Probably Couldn't Even Find It On a Map

Back in college, before I decided to go off and study film, I studied English. I had one teacher who spoke with pride about her dog-eared, note-ridden books. She encouraged the class to take pencils to our books, to underline passages we liked and write notes in the margins. Since we were college students and had to buy copies of the book, she thought that we aught to make the books our own. She wanted our books filled with our questions about character motivations, observations and insights we had, to dig dig deep into the text, becoming active readers rather than passive ones. I never wrote a note in that book. I haven't written anything in any book. For some reason, I never could. It probably doesn't help that my mom worked as a librarian for a bit when I was in middle school, but in my eyes, writing notes in a book was no better than graffiti on a wall (which is one reason why I thank jeebus for ebooks, but more on that at another time).

But, I now admit that I was wrong. If you own the book, writing a note or underlining a passage, all to help your understatnding, that fine. Go for it. But this. This is desecration:

IMG_0469.jpg

On page 21 of an LA Public Library copy of Caliban's War—Book 2 of The Expanse—some dumbfuck decided to spew their prejudice onto the book. I bet this fuck couldn't find Punjab on a map. I could probably hand them a map that has Punjab highlighted with arrows pointing to it from every direction, and they still wouldn't be able to find it. If I said it was a mountainous region shared by Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, as far as they would know, that's right. Because that's totally where Punjab is! Except, it isn't. That would be Kurdistan. Punjab is in India and Pakistan.

"But, that's not fair, Logan!" an imaginary blog reader might cry out. "Just because they're prejudiced, doesn't mean they're geographcially illiterate!" True, imaginary reader, but even with a casual reading and interpretation of the fucking book, I can still safely say that they're a fucking idiot. Why, you may ask? Because one of the major points of The Expanse book series—at least in the 2.25 books I've read so far—is that humanity needs to put aside it's petty differences. Despite that, the dumbfuck still wrote "Fuck Punjabis" in the book. Why? Beacuse he's a dumbfuck.

So, to the aforementioned dumbfuck: Were you paying attention? Were the words too big? Or is your head wedged too tightly up your own ass? I bet that headupassification leads to oxygen deprivation and the hindrance of one's own mental faculties.

But, most importantly, my dear dumbfuck, please don't write it in a fucking library book. Go out, buy a copy, and then go to town defacing that one instead. Acutally, no. Don't do that. Don't write your assinine racism in the book. Just read it. Read lines like this one, from the third book in the series, Abaddon's Gate

"The Ring didn't put us on alert," he said. "It's the Martians. Even with that thing out there, we're still thinking about shooting each other. That's pretty fucked up. Sorry. Messed up."

"It seems like we should be able to see past our human differences when we're confronted with something like this, doesn't it?"

My dear dumbfuck, read and understand what the book was saying about humanity—that despite all our differences, we are still one people. And dumbfucks who right "Fuck Punjabis" in a book are a part of the problem.