Archive for January 2013

Laugh tracks are contemptible

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Canned laughter is dispiriting.  I don’t get angry when I hear it, I just sort of retreat into my head, exhausted by the world.  And I’m not exactly sure why.

I could argue it’s insulting to the viewers’ intelligence to remind us when to laugh, or that it allows lazy writers to avoid crafting good jokes, or that it means we’re reminded the show isn’t real after every joke, or that mimicking human joy responses with a machine is creepy.  All of those play some part in my thinking, but I feel like these are post-hoc justifications for a gut feeling.

I think maybe it reminds me of the unthreatening lowest-common-denominator sitcoms of the fifties and sixties.  Whatever the reason, I’m happy the smartest TV comedies today (Arrested Development, Parks & Recreation, The Office, Peep Show) have abandoned it.


Edit: “In Defense of the Laugh Track” is worth reading, including the comment by Scotto.  Single-camera shows (like all the ones I named) are basically short movies, but multi-camera shows are more like televised plays where audience laughter is appropriate.  This view doesn’t invalidate my criticisms though: I would feel uncomfortable if theaters planted paid agents gin up laughs.


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January 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm

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I’m impressed.  You managed to be the first person to respond to an article on the Internet.

No, seriously.  You should be a a paramedic.  A real first-responder.  You could rush to the scene of accidents and yell “First” and the bleeding victims would crack the faintest of smiles.  And they could die satisfied, having met someone so prompt.

Written by pinkocrat

January 24, 2013 at 7:45 am

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Short thoughts, January 2013

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-I don’t care for sports or whether strangers do drugs.  Forming an opinion on Lance Armstrong feels wrong, like taking a side in a theological dispute of a religion I don’t practice.

-I am equally indifferent on gun control.  I have no faith that any measure strong enough to reduce gun violence is politically feasible.

-Gun advocates sometimes point out that more Americans are killed by cars than by guns.  This is an excellent argument against cars.

-I am not impressed by mountain climbing.  My first instinct, upon beholding the majesty of a mountain, is not to spend lots of resources conquering it.  I certainly don’t want to see a movie about mountain climbing.

-Or about horses.  Horses are obsolete and their mouths are scary.  I like horses even less than I like mountains.

-There are about five non-human animals I care about.  Not species, I mean individual animals.  They are all cats or dogs.  I would promptly give them away if I ever became responsible for their care.

-That said, it bothers me that we’re continuing the H. sapiens tradition of slaughtering the brainiest Others, like cetaceans and our fellow great apes.  We’re snuffing out the only known alien intelligences so we can eat them.

-Yet for some reason people think cannibalism is gross!  To me it’s really sweet to lovingly eat your dead relatives, to accept their final gift to you.  I wonder if cannibals ever insulted the cook with “I said roast, not cremate.”

Written by pinkocrat

January 18, 2013 at 12:53 am

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Three reasons feminism is in my self-interest

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1)  I don’t want to live in a shitbag world of murder, terrorism, and arbitrarily stunted lives.  Misogyny is an antihuman malignancy to which feminism is the cure.

2) The feminist critique of masculinity frees me to express the full range of human emotions without fear.

3) Feminism doubles the number of my potential friends and allies.  Women are not an alien race I lust after but contemn; they’re people.  This makes the world a lot less frightening.

Written by pinkocrat

January 17, 2013 at 4:55 am

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Same-sex marriage over time in the USA

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greg stollCheck out this awesome map by Greg Stoll.  You can see the evolution of same-sex partnership laws in the United States since the early 1990s.  Also has a cartogram option!

Cartograms rock.

Written by pinkocrat

January 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm

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Beat your friends to a job

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Millions of people like you struggle to find employment, a scarce but vital resource.  Instead of working to remove one of those adjectives, use these tactics to get the jump on your brothers and sisters.

That’s the tone of a lot of “job search tips” articles, and it’s fucking insufferable. Look at this one:

New college grads are not known for their copious amounts of spending money. However, there are a few things you will need to spend money on to be prepared for those first interviews. Think of these items as long-term investments in your future. They are as necessary as your new degree to score a good position out of college.

As good as my degree, eh?

For men, this means at least one pair of nice dress slacks, which fit you well and look expensive. … White, royal blue and silver are the hottest fashion colors but are also classics that make any many look sleek, professional and sexy.

Pretending to be rich: a reasonable requirement for entry-level positions.  Also be sexier.

Ladies, you will need a similar job interview wardrobe, but you may do a knee-length pencil skirt instead of slacks. You may also want to swap the suit coat for a hip-length blazer. Choose simple dress shoes without the sexy details. A sleek peek-toe or Mary Jane with a one to two inch heel is ideal. Avoid boots, high-heels or strappy sandals which can appear too sexy and backfire.

But not too sexy!  Try mind-reading to find the sweet spot that fits the interviewer’s arbitrary prejudices.

Next, purchase one package of nice resume paper with a watermark. Add a package of letterhead and envelopes which match the color. If you get cream resume paper, you should get cream letterhead. Avoid extreme yellows which can look cheap. Go for a subtle off-white tone.

The kicker is that none of these tips would work if everyone followed them.  The message is exclusive–follow these tips so that you, individually, can avoid the rest of your generation’s sorrows.

The average job search can take more than six months, and this is especially true for recent college graduates seeking their first entry-level positions.

Searching for unemployment is unpaid, unpleasant, unproductive labor.  Expecting people to do this for six months for the privilege of paid work is not a rational way to run an economy.  And encouraging young people to see their peers as rivals in an arms race of conspicuous consumption can’t be healthy for a culture.

Written by pinkocrat

January 16, 2013 at 6:32 pm

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Alternate universes

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dino cage

when I talk of alternate universes
I refer to an awful specific set of close cousins
where Hero meets Babbage meets Hofmann
and Tesla rigs zeppelins for the Commune.

But looking at this image
liquefies the lead blindfold
of atomic understanding and material demands
just enough to make out a far grander panoply of worlds;
One where Sumerian gods are real
and pissing their names in a river gives you control of its flow.

At the warmest edge of this multiverse is Paradise
For there the beauty on the T. Rex is my Bride.

Written by pinkocrat

January 7, 2013 at 7:25 pm