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:

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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 Inda 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.

Rotten Tomatoes ratings don't hurt box office returns, study says

From John Horn's interview with Yves Bergquist—a data scientist who studies the entertainment industry at University of Southern California—for The Frame. 

I think the elephant in the room is innovation. We're in the post-"Game of Thrones," post-"Breaking Bad" world of entertainment, where studio executives know that they need to innovate in the way that they tell film stories. And a lot of my research is focused on finding out mathematically where in the film they can innovate and where they have to stick to the canons. The main issue with this is, "How do we innovate in a film that is a billion dollar or two billion dollar bet?" If we innovate too much, it's going to miss its audience. If we don't innovate enough, it's going to be boring. So there's this median point which, believe it or not, we can actually calculate mathematically, and that's where a lot of my research is going.

The whole piece is five minutes, and worth a listen.

How "Game of Thrones" plans to avoid leaks of season 8's ending

From Mike Hirsch of the Morning Call, a small Pennsylvania newspaper that somehow landed this exclusive:

“'I know in Game of Thrones, the ending, they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that nobody really know what happens,' HBO’s Casey Bloys said. 'You have to do that on a long show. Because when you’re shooting something, people know. So they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that there’s no real definitive answer until the end.'”

The real twist: All the endings they shoot make it into the final episode, confusing everybody.

Radiorama

Good news, everyone! The team at Nerdist worked with Matt Groening and David X. Cohen to put together an acutal, factual Futurama radio drama with the entire cast reprising their roles from the oft-canceled show.

Bernie Sanders Just Released His Single-Payer Health Care Plan

From Patrick Caldwell's article for Mother Jones:

On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced an ambitious proposal to transition the country away from a system of private health insurance, with the government instead offering a beefed up version of Medicare to every person in the country. “Health care in American must be a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said. ‘Today, we begin the long and difficult struggle to end the international disgrace of the United States, our great nation, being the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all of our people. As proud Americans, our job is to lead the world on health care, not to be woefully behind every other major country.”

The healthcare fight is far from over, but I'm glad we have someone like Sanders fighting that fight.

Notes on the Apple TV 4K HDR UHD with Super DolbyVision

Lots to digest in Apple's latest update to the Apple TV. But, first, we need to come up with something less tech nerdy than 4K. And HDR. And Ultra High Definition. I know what they all mean, and I still feel like I'm about to go cross-eyed. Just think, these are phenomenally worse than Super Retina Display, and Super Retina Display is bad. But, I digress.

As I noted on Twitter, if Apple truly needed to use a Dolby Vision theater projection system to show off the device's full capabilites, an Apple TV coupled with the right display would rival the screen at your average theater. Having seen a film projected in Dolby Vision, I can assure you that the image quality is immaculate. If the Apple TV is even close to delivering that same quality, the dream of a high-end home theater is becoming even more obtainable.

Where the Apple TV might falter compared to the theater is a question of compression. Compare the 1080 HD iTunes version of film to it's Bluray counterpart, and the Blu-ray looks better. So the question now is how do the iTunes 4K HDR films compare to the 4K HDR Blu-rays that have started to hit the market. If the quality is close, Blu-ray might be the format for cinephiles, and digital the format for the masses.

But two other things to note:

  1. Apple got (some) studios to agree to the $19.99 pricing. Disney being the notable holdout.
  2. Films previously purchased in HD will be upgraded to 4K for free.

Personally, I think the biggest problem Blu-ray faced—and the problem 4K content will face soon—was people didn't necessarily want to shell out and buy a new copy of a movie they already own. For many, a DVD is good enough. Hell, I still have a bunch of DVDs that I have no intention on shelling out the money to replace them with a Blu-ray. Good on Apple and the studios for putting this update into place. This alone makes purchasing movies through iTunes more compelling. 

Now, if the same thing applies to Digital Copy, it'll be even better. Buy once, 4K everywhere.

It's pronounced 'iPhone Ten'

You'd think they'd finally learned their lesson when they dropped the "X" from macOS. But, no! They just had to bring it back for the new flagship iPhone Ex. *facepalm*.

A Pain in the Head

I don't normally wake up with a headache, but when I do, it's as if my day gets sucked away. My eyes have trouble focusing, the world seems to spin, and I am overcome with the desire to sleep. The energy and will to do anything is almost non-existant, yet somehow I always seem to power through it. Anything that needs to get done, will get done, and only a full-blown migraine will knock me fully out of commission. But I still feel like a sluggish bore, ranked only slightly higher in mental abilities than a potato.

Today was an unfortunate day where I did wake up with a headache. I've had a nap, laid about, and still somehow managed to finish an episode of Lights. Camera. Reaction! that should be live later tonight. But all I want to do is lie on the couch and do nothing. I hate feeling like I'm just there, waiting for the annoying throb to dissapate. Hell, this entire post is essentially me trying to avoid the alluring call of my couch's siren song. I have no idea how the hell my mother—whose genetics I blame for 78% of my headaches—put up with an ADD-riddled terror and a half-hobbit sized brat when she had headaches that would often send her to bed soon after she got home from work dealing with twenty-five to thirty snot-covered, screaming kindergarteners. That would give me a headache; my mom would handle it with one.

And I still just want a nap.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" director addresses Episode IX rumors

From Julia Alexander at Polygon:

“It was never in the plan for me to direct Episode IX,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with it. I was entirely focused on Episode VIII and having this experience and now I’m just thinking about putting the movie out there and seeing how the audience responds to it. So now I’m not really thinking about that right now."

It's not a no, but it's also not a yes.

You Are the Product

John Lanchester in the London Review of Books:

"...Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads."

If you have the time, this is definitely worth the read.

Apple, Amazon Join Race for James Bond Film Rights

As much as MoviePass wants to be the industry disruptor, the big disrupter right now is all the tech money pouring into content.

As a Bond fan, I'm also interested (and, to be honest, a little worried) by these lines in Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit's pice for The Hollywood Reporter:

“ 'In the world of Lucasfilm and Marvel, Bond feels really underdeveloped,' says someone familiar with the bidding process."

And:

"Some observers feel that the franchise, by only limiting itself to theatrical movies, remains vastly under-utilized by 21st century standards..."

The bidding war for Bond just got more interesting.