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Friday
Dec282012

Ultraviolet - The Gift That's Already Stopped Giving

Another day, another blockbuster, another Ultraviolet post. We've once again passed a widely observed gift-giving holiday and I've been given a movie that I'd very much like to own, but Ultraviolet is once again making it difficult. But there's a light at the end of the tunnel - it seems our complaints are paying off:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruh Roh!

Yes, it seems SO many people are complaining about Ultraviolet misusing the term "digital copy" after they get home and realize they've been duped that they've been forced by the market to take on the scarlet letters proclaming the absence of an "iTunes file". Not only is this an overall positive for the consumer (we know which movies to avoid) but it's actually actively promoting the competing format! Find my translation below:

"Please don't buy this disc, it doesn't have the format you want, you should really goto iTunes instead. Or really, find a movie studio that isn't trying to be douchey about it since many others that aren't us (Warner Brothers) actually inclue both ultraviolet and real digital copies and let you decide. Wouldn't you prefer a movie from one of them?"

The fight continues.

Friday
Dec142012

You are wrong, and you should hate yourself

Much like evolution, climate change, gay marriage, don't ask, don't tell, and women's reproductive rights - gun control is an issue that only has two sides - the right one, and the shitheads.

If you think the dirty government is trying to take your guns, let me tell you something- YOU ARE RIGHT! Run! Hide! In fact, you should probably take a cyanide pill and shuffle off to the next world you claim to be so excited to get to, but never seem in that big a hurry to approach when the chips are down. They won't take your guns up there, I promise! We need less of you clouding the issue so if you can't do that, at least sit down, shut up and let the grown ups talk for a bit.

The pro-gun lobby is now, as of December 14th, 2012, the "pro dead kids" lobby and to say differently is so shockingly dishonest you can probably smell it wafting out of your cable modem. And if that doesn't sicken you to your very core, there is no hope for you.

And let me say something to the one group that is actually worse - the "moderates”. Yes you, Mr. "Now's not the time to talk about gun control, please let the families grieve". Let me tell you something. You don't know these families. They aren't your Facebook friends and they don't follow you on Twitter and even if they did, I promise you that they are too busy counting the weddings they won't attend, the graduations that will never come (KINDER-fucking-GARDEN graduations you waste of oxygen), the first dates they will never see and the grand kids they will never cradle to give two shits about your holier than thou bullshit right now.

The time for real talk about getting these machines whose only purpose is to hurt and kill off the streets is immediately if not sooner. PERIOD. If you don't think so, then by all means, don't participate in the conversation. I'm not sure you have much to contribute anyway that we haven't heard a million times already.

If you think gun control is wrong, or worse, you think it's even possible for there to BE a wrong time to even TALK about it (hint, it's probably not the week there were not one but two mass shootings) then I have one thing to say to you...

You are wrong, and you should hate yourself.

Saturday
Dec012012

Recipe: Daddy's Mean Mac and Cheese

No, this is not a joke. I'm a dad, and I make a mean mac and cheese. Hence: Daddy's Mean Mac and Cheese. I'm not one to toot my own horn but whenever the words "mac and cheese" are uttered in my house, they are followed with "but can daddy make it?" So without further ado-

Daddy's Mean Mac and Cheese

Feeds: 

  • 1 six year old
  • 1 four year old
  • 1 two year old
  • 1 daddy (mostly)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Annie's Shells and Aged Cheddar
  • 1 box Annie's Shells and White Cheddar
  • 3-4 Hebrew National reduced fat beef franks
  • Butter (between 1/4 and 1/3 a stick)
  • Whole milk (between 1/2 and 3/4 cup)
  • Miceli's natural shredded mozzarella (about a handful)
  • 365 shredded parmesan (more than a pinch)
  • Frozen peas or green beans (optional)
  • Italian seasoning (optional)

Recipe:

1) Begin boiling water

As with any pasta recipe, this one begins with boiling water. However, as this is more than just "Kraft Macaroni and processed cheese product meal substitute", there is a slightly more involved preparation process while that water is coming up to temperature. One big part of this recipe is using as few dishes as possible so your water will be doing double (maybe triple) duty.

2) Cut the hot dogs into bite-sized morsels, set aside.

3) Prepare cheese sauce.

You probably noticed that there are two different types of boxed mac and cheese included in this recipe. Madness? OR GENIUS?! The key to making this recipe work, is preparing the cheese sauce ahead of time:

3a) Put the milk and butter in a pyrex measuring cup

3b) Microwave for 20 seconds (to melt the butter and warm the milk)

3c) Mix the 2 pouches of cheese powder into the milk and butter, set aside.

4) Cook Pasta

By this point, your water should be boiling. Dump both boxes worth of pasta into the boiling water, but this is not a "set it and forget it" kinda recipe.

5) Cook Hot Dogs (and vegetables)

Pay close attention to how the pasta is coming along. When it's about 2/3rds of the way done, it's time to add the hot dogs (and peas or green beans if you are going the healthy route). Just throw it all right in there. YES, the same pot! (sheesh, did I stutter?) Adding frozen vegetable will slow the boil down but it should rebound in fairly short order so don't panic.

6) Drain everything

Once the pasta and hot dogs are cooked, pull out your colander and drain off that hot water. Then dump everything right back into the pot.

7) Add cheese sauce

Since you smartly prepped your cheese sauce ahead of time, you can just dump it in and start stirring.

8) Add real cheese

What takes this recipe from "good" to "mean" is, of course, the extra cheese. Throw that handful of mozz and more than a pinch of parm into the pot. There should still be enough residual heat to make everything melty but if not, you can always just put the pot over heat again. Just be careful not to singe anything.

9) Add italian seasoning (optional)

This is going to depend on your kids. A dash of mixed Italian seasoning can give this dish an extra something special.

If you've followed the directions, at this point you've probably got a pot of something almost, but not entirely unlike tea. We've found that the extra cheesyness makes this a big winner in the under-10 crowd.

To keep the cheese from getting too solid before it's time for seconds (which will be demanded) it's usually a good idea to keep the pot covered, possibly on very ,very low heat.

Spoon into bowls and watch your kids gobble it up with big smiles.

Thursday
Nov292012

The Distribution At The End Of The Universe

Back when the original episode went out, I responded a bit to Marco Arment's position concerning piracy. Well he's mentioned it again this week, and as is my wont, I'm responding again.

At issue this week is a string of responses to responses regarding whether consumers are "forced" into piracy because distribution models are still clinging to the past. Most of the arguments arrive at the conclusion that people are NOT being forced to pirate but this I fear is based on too limited a definition of the term "force". The implication is that consumers believe that they have an insatiable desire for content and the ravenous bugblatter beast within them is literally forcing their hands. While this is indeed an over simplification, it is a manifestation of a very real phenomenon - market forces.

When Instapaper first launched, it was $9.99. Sometime later, Marco chose to lower the price to $4.99. Was he "forced" to do this? Did someone show up at his house and beat him about the head and neck until he lowered his price? Of course not. Because market forces are not (usually) violent, but they are forces none-the-less.

iTunes created a profitable sales channel that made paying for digital music more attractive than stealing it because it didn't ignore the very real market forces at work. Digital distribution (of music first, but now of video) removes one of the main market regulators effecting pricing and availability - scarcity. Scarcity is what drives the price of something like a Wii to 300% it's retail price on Ebay. Since content doesn't work by the same rules of scarcity (nor has it ever), delivery mechanism and timing became the stand-in for scarcity giving rise to release windows. 

Asking consumers to ignore the reality that there is no scarcity in content distribution is misguided because this is a situation where both the distribution and the consumption side have to deal with the new reality. This has already happened in music. Producers realized that the way to deal with the lack of scarcity was to get out in front of it and offer a better downloadable product. The market force that was driving people to download illegally was the same force the music industry turned to their advantage - convenience. 

Video content producers are trying to use their own market forces to keep consumer behavior within the old distribution model. "We want to drive sales of our monthly cable subscriptions so we artifically limit availability outside that channel." Whether you consider a downloader to be a "dirty pirate" is really a secondary issue. If people are willing to break the law rather than participate in the prefered sales channel, then there is a very real market force that is going to shape the distribution of video content, whether the producers like it or not.

Now this may very well create a market where quality programming is no longer sustainable. It may also make it harder for smaller networks to compete and lead to far less content being created. This too is a real market force. But saying people should just "be an adult and wait" is missing the point. On the face of it, what that is essentially saying is - "We have customers who want our stuff so badly that they are willing to break the law. Instead of taking their money, we would rather just lecture them."

Maybe ask Lars Ulrich how well that worked out.

Tuesday
Nov132012

Despicable Them

How is it that so many "big business" types are SO bad with numbers? I honestly thought I had heard all the good reasons for not hiring Romney but this week a new one has emerged -

Business people apparently have no clue how money works.

The most obvious example this week is "Big Poppa" John. A month ago, health care was too expensive to provide to Papa John's Employees. This week, it can be had for only 20¢ per pizza apparently. And while most intelligent people who had made the comment "The good news is, we're all going to have health care" would simply pass this on by raising prices, content in the knowledge that this country will get healthier - Big Poppa's thoughts appear to be "20¢ per person, that I don't even have to pay, just so my indentured servants can be healthy enough to work? -

THIS TYRANNY WILL NOT STAND!"

What a grade A asshole. And if only he were the only one.

Take the coal company that fired 56 and explicitly stated the reason was Obama's re-election,

or the Vegas employer who fired 22 of 114, citing the same reason,

or the Georgia employer who fired 2 full-timers to get under Obamacare's 50 employee limit, and cut hours for the remaining part-timers.

Well I've got news for the "Party of personal responsibilty" - you can either run a business, or you can't. Stop blaming Obamacare for your inability to run a profitable business. If health insurance is too expensive, and someone comes along and presents you with a simple way to make it affordable - so simple in fact that you know exactly what you would have to do to your prices to afford it - and your response is "oh yeah - well FUCK YOU, IMMA BURN THIS HOUSE TO THE GROUND BEFORE I LET MY PEOPLE HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE", then you are not a businessman, you are a petulant child.

We have listened for 4 years about how we "47 percenters" just want government to give us stuff. Well I say to you now - you are no better. In fact, you are far worse. You not only want government to give you stuff (like the right to keep your employees below your boot, and apparently unhealthy) but until now, you've been willing to hold people's lives and livelyhoods hostage. I say "until now" because what has happened now? You've decided it's ok to shoot the hostage.

You make me sick and you should be ashamed.