October 23, 2013

Josh Freeman has a concussion – Christian Ponder likely to start against Green Bay

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 15:37

Can this season get any more convoluted? This afternoon, it was announced that Josh Freeman is suffering from concussion symptoms from Monday night’s game and probably won’t be able to play against the Packers on Sunday night. If he can’t go, Christian Ponder will be back at quarterback for the Vikings.

Reactions have been unkind:

QotD: Popular fiction

Filed under: Books, Business, Humour, Media, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:46

[…] it’s almost as if there’s a demon whose special job is maintaining the inverse relationship between quality and sales when it comes to runaway bestsellers. E.L. James would be an example, surely, but her prose isn’t much worse than Stephenie Meyer’s, which is middlin’ horrid, while their joint plotting is pretty much entirely horrid, not to mention largely incoherent and ethically vacuous.

Or there’s Dan Brown, who wouldn’t recognise a grammatical sentence or a plausible sequence of events if they each wrestled him to the ground and sat on his head. Which I dearly wish they would, if only to keep him away from any keyboard whatsoever and preserve a forest or two from dying all in vain.

By any criterion other than sales each of these bestsellers is plainly a badly inferior example of its genre and of the writer’s craft, yet they explode while far better things that are no less available (though often less advertised) do modestly. Some of it is a bit like talentless boy bands, an almost purely commercial phenomenon, but one still has to wonder why those particular publishers’ pushes go so viral. And weep.

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU) (Goodreads blog), posting to the Lois McMaster Bujold Mailing list (http://lists.herald.co.uk/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/lois-bujold), 2013-10-22

The most dangerous shipwreck in the Thames Estuary

Filed under: Britain, History, WW2 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:45

Uploaded on 16 Aug 2010

A documentary about the SS Richard Montgomery. The remains of this second world war Liberty ship lie semi-submerged in the Thames estuary. There are currently over 1500 tons of explosives left on board. This documentary looks into the danger the wreck still presents.

I’m mildly amused that they frequently mis-name the vessel as the “USS” Richard Montgomery (she was never a commissioned ship of the US Navy, so it should be just “SS” not “USS”). If you watch to the end of the documentary, they’ve included a “blooper reel” of voice-overs for the last minute or so…

Perhaps the “starve the beast” plan is working

Filed under: Cancon, Economics, Government — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:05

In Maclean’s, Stephen Gordon provides an updated look at the Harper government’s ongoing “starve the beast” policy:

Canadian federal government revenues and expenditure, 1960-2013

Canadian federal government revenues and expenditure, 1960-2013

As I’ve written before, the Conservatives have applied the “starve the beast strategy“: First, cut taxes; second, cut spending in order to match lower revenues; third, obtain a balanced-budget for a smaller government. As the red line in the chart shows, the Harper government was temporarily thrown off this past by the financial crisis, which required emergency stimulus spending. They are, however, back on track.

Once again though, we need to be careful to see that the government’s revenues are back above expenditures (so the yearly deficit has been reduced over time), but the government’s outstanding debts are still quite substantial: $892 billion for 2012-13. As long as interest rates stay low, the debt should start to decline, but if-and-when interest rates rise, so will that big pile of accumulated debt.

Game company provokes a massive Streisand Effect

Filed under: Business, Gaming, Gaming, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

In Hit and Run, Scott Shackford explains how Wild Games Studio learned (the hard way) about the Streisand Effect:

The game [Day One: Garry’s Incident] is getting terrible reviews, and YouTube is host to a ton of them. The reviews may actually be a little bit of a challenge to find now thanks to Wild Games Studio’s response to one particular review. A gentleman by the name of TotalBiscuit (no, really, that’s his … okay, fine, his real name is John Bain) is probably one of the most successful video game critics on the Internet. His YouTube channel boasts just shy of 1.3 million subscribers. He sampled the game on October 1 and did not find it enjoyable (Sample of response to the game: “Screw everything about this!”).

Video game reviews on YouTube allow critics to do something they can’t do through blog posts or print reviews: They can actually play and demonstrate the game in action in the video. This is a boon for consumers looking to spend their game money on a quality product as the game market grows and grows and grows. It’s also a boon for good game developers, as there’s nothing like the sight of a reviewer with a big audience enjoying your product to push folks off the fence in your favor. For bad games, though, it has the potential to devastate more than those old-fashioned reviews, as video watchers can actually see how terrible the problems are.

Wild Games Studio made their problems even worse by trying to retaliate against Bain. They made a copyright claim against him on YouTube, using a flimsy excuse that he monetizes the videos with advertising (Bain manages a living with his game journalism and announcing) and thus cannot use their assets without their permission. The studio succeeded. YouTube yanked the review. Furthermore, YouTube’s copyright-protection system threatens users that their channel will be deleted if they get three of these takedown claims. In Bain’s case, that would result in the removal of hundreds of videos.

I first encountered TotalBiscuit’s YouTube channel during the Guild Wars 2 beta period, and quite enjoyed his iconoclastic views of the game. I’m happy to hear that this particular thuggish attempt to shut him down has failed, and largely due to the response of gamers and his channel subscribers.

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