Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Unintended Consequences

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Sep 04, 2015 @ 9:14 am PST

userpic=im-with-stupidThe process of clearing out the accumulated links continues, although I’m getting close to caught up. This groupa-three deals with some unintended consequences:

  • Unintended Consequences of High Definition. Bloomberg has an interesting article about how the growth of high-definition video has made the prop master’s job harder. Simply put: the detail now visible means that props have to be stunningly believable, although that can create problems with things like realistic fake money. Wood has to look like wood, not plastic. Words on printed items need to be sensical. Logos of products need to be believable. What used to be visibility to a 2″ circle is now down to a ⅛” circle. Dust, dirt, and paint chips are visible.
  • Unintended Consequences of Answering Your Phone. Have you ever gotten a phone call, answered it, and … nothing. NPR explains how this simple act of answering your phone can be the start of phone fraud. This is how fraudsters determine there is a human on the other end and the number is a valid number. From there, it escalates…
  • Unintended Consequences of Conserving Water. The LA Times has an article about how all the water saving during the drought is creating a big problem. Sanitation districts are yanking tree roots out of manholes and stepping up maintenance on their pipes to prevent corrosion and the spread of odors. And when people use less potable water, officials say, there’s less wastewater available to recycle. Water suppliers, meanwhile, say the dramatic decrease in consumption has created multimillion-dollar revenue shortfalls. Shorter showers, more efficient toilets and other reductions in indoor water usage have meant less wastewater flowing through sewer pipes, sanitation officials say. With less flow to flush the solids down the system, those solids are collecting and can eventually damage pipes. [I’ll note there are similar problems with power districts as people move to self-generated solar: suddenly, they don’t have the revenue to pay for all their power plants.]



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A Collection of WTFs…. And Why You Should Clean That Cat Hair….

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Sep 03, 2015 @ 12:07 pm PST

userpic=don-martinStill working on clearing the links: as quickly as I clear them, I find new articles… This is a collection of “What The Fucks” — things that just totally surprise me:

  • A Hairball Where? This one came across one of the link collections I see, and was marked NSFW. Here’s the subtitle, which should give you an idea of the tease: “I went to see my gynecologist about aches in my lower abdomen. I never could have guessed that my cats would be to blame.” Curious? Read on at your own risk. I have no idea if this is true.
  • A Matter of Perspective. The news has been filled with the breakup of Kermit and Miss Piggy. People are taking it far too seriously — for example, feminists are upset that Kermit’s new girlfriend is too thin. But here’s the thing that creates the WTF — more so that you never thought about it. Kermit was right to leave Piggy — she was a domestic abuser, constantly beating up her loved one. Now, think about all the times you saw Piggy beating up Kermit with her purse, hard enough to knock him over. Why didn’t we see it?
  • Neti Pot Worries. From time to time, I use a neti pot (always with salted water) to clear my sinuses. All the reports about brain eating amoebas have me worried? Is the salt sufficient? After all, I don’t go swimming in freshwater lakes. Let’s add to the WTF worries: the normal level of chlorination in domestic water supplies is insufficient to kill the amoeba due to biofilms.
  • Mathematics in Real Life. We’ve all seen motorcycles do those turns with an incredible leans. Here’s an article on the math behind those turns, and how motorcycles somehow come up with a coefficient of friction greater than one. Some are as high as 1.7. Don’t try this at home.
  • Judeo-Christian is a Bad Term. This one is courtesy of my daughter, who posted it on her tumblr yesterday: the common term “Judeo-Christian” is an extremely poor term and exclusionary. Quoting from the article: “… it’s almost always erasing and inaccurate! most of the time, what the person means is “abrahamic religions” – this is the group of religions that share the story of abraham. it includes but is not limited to judaism, christianity, and islam. ¶ “judeo-christian” is a term used by the christian right to a) purposefully exclude muslims from the abrahamic tradition, b) align christianity and judaism together as “western” (i.e., white) religions, when these religions are neither practiced primarily or exclusively by white people nor united by any kind of ethnic identity, and c) erase their own ongoing antisemitism. they create a narrative of being allies of jews, when in reality they actively work to promote christian culture, religious beliefs, and moral codes over all non-christian ones, including those of jews.”
  • Cassette Tapes as a Business. With all the digital downloads, we probably think that the cassette business is a dead business. After all, when was the last time you really made a mix tape on tape. But it turns out that the one company still making cassettes has a booming business. About 70 percent of the company’s sales are from music cassettes while the rest are blank cassettes.  You want that analog sound and need something portable? Cassettes. Then again, you could try this portable vinyl player.

Music: “Mahna Mahna” (Mahna Mahna & The Two Snowths) from The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem & More!

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Logos: Successful and Unsuccessful Changes

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Sep 03, 2015 @ 11:34 am PST

userpic=corporateAnd the process of clearing the accumulated links continues…. this collection looks at logos: those graphical elements that represent a company. It looks at some recent changes, some successes, some failures, and some what-ifs:


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Things That Are Going Away… But Maybe Not

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Sep 02, 2015 @ 9:35 am PST

userpic=zombieAnd the process of cleaning out the links continues…. this collection brings together a number of stories about things that are going away… but then again:

  • Maui Potato Chips. As I’m on the island of Maui right now, let’s start with something that I’m craving, that used to be easy to find, but now is very difficult to find: The Original Maui Kettle Cook’d Potato Chips. When I was out here 30 years ago, they were everywhere (and you used to ship them back to the mainland). Today? You’re lucky to find a small bag for $7.99 in a few stores. They’ve been replaced by a knockoff chip from the state of Washington. Washington?!?!? But if you know where to look, they are still available. (but of course, I can’t eat them — I’m watching my weight and blood pressure :-( )
  • Renaissance Costumes. I’ve written before about how  the theatrical landscape in Southern California is changing due to the machinations of AEA. Many theatres have retrenched in various ways, and this is now starting to have ripple effects. AJS Costumes, a large theatrical and renaissance costumer, has started a GoFundMe to help them survive the ripple. As they write: “As you may or may not be aware, the live theater scene in Los Angeles has been going through an upheaval for the past several months.  Changes in the local 99-seat theater community are causing many theater companies to be very conservative in selecting their projects.  To avoid collapse, many theater companies are doing smaller productions, with less costume design needed, and fewer period plays. The rental business and costume design services of AJS Costumes has slowed to a trickle. This downturn has been sudden.  It has been unforeseen.  It has been devastating.   Despite this crisis, we are continuing to serve our clientele and assure you that all outstanding orders are being fulfilled.   But in order to survive, we must explore and secure new income options for our shop.”
  • Verizon Contract Plans. You may have heard that Verizon was getting rid of subsidized phone plans. That’s actually not true — it is only true for new customers. Old customers — as long as you keep renewing or have phones on the old plan — you can keep it.
  • iPod Classics. Well, they aren’t going away. You can even do as I’m thinking of doing and put in a SSD. But, alas, Apple is declaring them obsolete as of Labor Day. I’m sure you can still get them repaired, although some parts may be harder to get.


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Life as a Theme Park

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Sep 01, 2015 @ 8:23 pm PST

userpic=eticketAs we continue the process of cleaning out the links, today’s three-theme brings together articles related to current and former theme parks, although the term is used loosely:


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I Don’t Have a Good Feeling About This

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Sep 01, 2015 @ 10:46 am PST

userpic=theatre2Continuing the process of cleaning out the accumulated links, as themed link three-sets form like hurricanes in the Central Pacific…. This collection all relates to upcoming theatre productions that don’t leave me with a good anticipatory feeling:

  • Jordanian Adaptation of Oliver!. Lionel Bart’s musical, Oliver!, is a well known adaptation of Charles Dicken’s “Oliver Twist“. One of the more problematic features of Oliver Twist (a story I happen to like) is the potentially antisemitic portray of Fagin, the old man who runs the gang of thieves. The musical version made a distinct attempt to tone down the antisemitism (especially when it came to Broadway — if you contrast the original version from the West End). So naturally, hearing that this show will be done in an Arab country — an area where antisemitism isn’t only common but encouraged — doesn’t bode well.  Adding to the fear is the following note from the article: “Working with a local community center in the Jordanian capital, the story has been updated to a modern Arab city.” Let’s see: Lovable Jewish merchants running a gang of thieves in a modern Arab city. What could possibly go wrong?
  • K-Pop Adaption of In The Heights. Lin Manual Miranda’s musical In The Heights, was a hit when it reached Broadway in 2008. It brought a hispanic flavor to inner-city hip-hop with a language that theatre hasn’t seen before. Theatremania is reporting that the show is soon to open in Seoul Korea, with some footage already available. The musical will play the Blue Square Samsung Card Hall in Hannam-dong beginning September 4, with a cast led by several K-pop stars including Key of SHINee and Jang Dong-woo of INFINITE sharing the role of Usnavi. Mixing K-Pop stars and hip-hop. What could possibly go wrong?
  • I Can’t Hear You. There are loads and loads of shows planning to open on Broadway., from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s School of Rock to a musical version of American Psycho. But the mind boggles when it hears about another production planning for the Great White Way: The SpongeBox SquarePants Musical. Yup, and no, this isn’t a kids theatre show.  Nickelodeon will make its Broadway debut as a producer on the musical, with a score provided by a mixture of classic and contemporary rockers. The full list of composers was announced Aug. 31:  Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of the band Aerosmith, Tony winner Cyndi Lauper, They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton, Dirty Projectors, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, and T.I., with an additional song by David Bowie and additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. The plot is as follows: “The end is near. Only one sponge can save the day. But he’s going to need help from some of the greatest songwriters in rock and pop music history.” Again, what could possibly go wrong?

P.S.: I can’t resist adding a non-theatre item that also strikes fear in my heart. In Los Angeles, Metrolink has indicated they are purchasing some state-of-the-art locomotives to replace their well worn engines. These Tier 4 locomotives are powerful, fuel-efficient vehicles designed to slash potentially harmful releases of nitrogen oxide and fine particles of diesel exhaust. They also have never been used in passenger service — and heavy service — before.  Metrolink officials say the Tier 4 engines have up to 1,700 more horsepower, use less fuel, have longer service lives and are more reliable than rebuilt engines.  However, Paul Dyson, president of the Rail Passenger Assn. of California, was concerned the new engines could have “plenty of teething problems” as they go into service, as they are so new they don’t have any service history for passenger use. Some Tier 4 engines are being tested for freight service at Union Pacific Corp. and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., two of the nation’s largest carriers. Lena Kent, a spokesperson for BNSF, said the railroad’s prototypes have “experienced operating issues,” but she declined to elaborate.

Here’s where I get worried. McCarthy, Metrolink’s deputy chief, disagreed with Dyson, saying all Tier 4 components have been tested successfully. “We are not concerned,” he added. “It’s a tried-and-true locomotive.” This reminds me of the High Assurance Brake Job; in particular, the process people. They may never have done a brake job before, but: “Well, no, but we’ve done other mechanic-type work before, and our processes are designed to be adaptable to all situations. We’ve got processes for making sure bolts and stuff are loosened and then tightened later. We’ve got processes to check that we don’t have left over parts when we’re done with the job. We got processes for…”

They’ve never run the locomotive in passenger service before, but all the components have been tested successfully. What could possibly go wrong?

P.P.S.: If you haven’t read the High Assurance Brake Job, you really must. It’s a classic (PDF).

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On The Move: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Aug 31, 2015 @ 9:46 am PST

userpic=travelContinuing to clear out the links… here’s a collection of news chum all being related by the theme of travel or travelling:


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Older Technology Revisited: PDP/8s, Wingdings, and Space Jam

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 29, 2015 @ 11:00 am PST

userpic=cyborgContinuing with our “clearing out of the links”, here’s a collection about older technology that is still going strong, in some way, shape or another:


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