Unplugged

Friday, 27 November 2009 14:34
I've more or less stopped following the news. A couple of weeks ago I unsubscribed from NPR's daily five-minute news-summary podcast, after four years of listening, and that basically severed me from the world of regular general-interest updates. Through the internet, and through internet-enabled friends, I find that most things I care about will filter their way to me through other channels quickly enough, while things I don't care about stop competing for my attention.

The danger here lay in shutting myself away from serendipitous discovery. You benefit from information that, while of no obvious value at first, nonetheless takes up residence in your brain, mingles with with other whims and fancies for a while, and eventually dope-slaps you with a freshly synthesized new Idea one day, while you're walking down the street. I live for this phenomenon, and I don't want to endanger its frequency in my own head by narrowing the flow of my information intake.

But I'm willing to wager that the time and attention I'll save avoiding non-genre news outweighs the risk that I'll miss any gems buried in the garbage heaps of trite infojunk. So long as I'm careful to stay plugged in, and keep my list of active info-channels well groomed, I think I'll be OK.
For some reason it never occurred to me to try using my iPhone's iPod app without headphones plugged in. I was momentarily mystified this morning when I didn't plug em in all the way, making my Tuesday-morning dose of Dan Savage play out of the device in my hand rather than into my ears.

I have wished in the past that I could sometimes listen to podcasts without having to wear headphones (or be seated in front of my desktop Mac), so this is pretty cool.
By the way, NPR's Planet Money podcast has really hit the ground running. They've been publishing multiple episodes per day (at least on weekdays) as things develop, and interviewing all sorts of interesting people across a broad spectrum.

If you want to become at least as angry well-informed as me about this, I encourage you to subscribe.

Edit: The link above leads to the show's (also excellent) blog. The actual podcast's RSS feed, as [livejournal.com profile] daerr points out, is here.
Adapted from a comment I just left in [livejournal.com profile] colorwheel's LJ, but which more of y'all may be interested in:

NPR just launched a new blog-n-podcast called Planet Money whose topic is what you'd expect. I find it strangely reassuring that they figure that now's as good a time to launch the thing as any, what with all the everything going on.

The new show is itself kind of a spinoff of an excellent This American Life episode called "The Giant Pool of Money" from last spring, which did a great job explaining the crisis' core catalyst (the housing crap) in grokkable language and metaphor.

Hurr

Saturday, 3 May 2008 18:25
I totally just heard a letter from [livejournal.com profile] lediva read aloud by Brooke Gladstone on On the Media. (Unless it was someone else with her name who also likes comics, video games, and NPR podcasts.)

I love StarShip Sofa

Thursday, 1 May 2008 14:48
I am loving StarShip Sofa, a new (recently re-launched, actually) SF audio magazine-format podcast. Its first issue features "Likely Lad", a wonderfully fun info-pirate adventure tale by Kage Baker, with an amazingly good reader. I am grinning like a maniac while walking around listening to it.

I hope the show can keep it going every week. As much as I like Escape Pod, to which I've been a continual subscriber for three years, I have been yearning for more variety with the SF media on my iPod. EP is a fine show, but it has a single editor, who definitely lets his single voice shine through in his story selections, editorials, and show formats. I welcome and encourage more voices.

(I have liked Escape Pod less since the editor's started closing each program by reading selected forum posts, all of which sound exactly like posts on a forum I don't care to read. Why, yes, my iPod does feature a skip-track button. It still detracts from the show's overall quality, and also means that the files stay on my iPod until I manually delete them in iTunes, since files don't vanish from my new-podcast playlist unless I listen to them all the way through. Boo.)

Burn

Wednesday, 16 May 2007 10:35
I am listening to an audio version of James Patrick Kelly's Burn. It's a really nice story so far, and I'll go ahead and make a premature recommend if you wish to risk it turning emabrrassingly horrible halfway through. I don't think it will, though; I've also enjoyed the other Kelly I've read, and trust him.

Cory Doctorow has been having loud sex in public with this novella since it's not just entirely free to download - in both text and audio formats - under a Creative Commons license, but it just this month won a Nebula award, the first CC story to do so.



Thinking about the title of this story - which begins on a sort of Amish-analog community living on planet "Walden" in the distant future - reminds me of all the ads for BUUURNNN CYCLE, an adventure game from like a dozen years ago for the Sega Saturn. Remember those? With the hippie guy on the bus? Crazy. I don't think I've ever met anyone who ever played that game. (Or who owned a Sega Saturn.)

Oh, right. Taxes.

Thursday, 8 March 2007 12:29
I got my first more-or-less Jmac's Arcade fan mail today from the fellow behind a video podcast called Coin-Op TV. I've so far only watched the most recent episode, which features interviews with stuntmen and T-shirt vendors at a J-pop convention. Scrolling down the page I see a lot of more game-related stuff, though. Wow, there's an interview with PONG's creator?! Cool. I shall watch it more later.



Feeling really deflated today. I'm objectively aware that there's interesting stuff for Volity on the horizon but right now all I can see is business crap that nobody told me about, until it happened to come up in conversation recently: oops, yes, I probably should have distributed tax information to people a month or two ago, eh? At least I'm on it now instead of a month from now, but I could still hear our accountant's eyes rolling at me over the phone yesterday. I am going to meet with him next week, which I predict will be me saying "Dude, whatever. You do it. I'll pay you." repeatedly. I loathe this shit.



One of the horizoney things: I'm tentatively scheduled to present about Volity at the April 10 Boston Perl Mongers meeting, at 7:15pm at MIT, E51-376. I'd love to see some familiar faces there! I haven't been to a Boston.pm meeting in years, but will probably attend next week's (Tuesday, March 13, same time & location) to get a feel for it.
Why didn't I know that there was an embedded This American Life reporter within Dr. Awkward, the team that won this year's mystery hunt?

Link to full show: http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/podcast/326.mp3 The hunt bit starts at 0:31:58. It's a great story (in a great show, as usual) and briefly includes [livejournal.com profile] hahathor yelling about Gilligan's Island.

I still owe y'all a catalog of my current podcast playlist, don't I.
James Baker has the same accent as Wichita Rutherford('s assumedly exaggerated stage accent). I do not know what this accent is called.

Ulla

Friday, 8 December 2006 10:46
This week's episode of Escape Pod features the short "Ulla" by Daniel Schwabauer, and it's totally awesome. It uses the trope of retelling a classic story from the villain's point of view to stunning effect, in part because it also employs a separate and quite unexpected narrative convention that I won't spoil for you. The reading is very well done, too (though I dunno about all the reverb).

Link to Escape Pod page on the story | Direct link to MP3

Steve's been doing the pre-show WARNINGs less often, too, which I think is an excellent trend. I seriously yank the buds right out of my ears and do a fifteen-count when he starts into one, so deep is my aversion to spoilers. (Though if he now only does them for stories with sex /cussing/bloodnguts in them, the very presence of a warning becomes a spoiler. Pfui.)

iPod

Tuesday, 5 December 2006 13:28
Anyone local have an old iPod they want to foist off on me for some reasonable price?

I am half-considering bopping down to the Galleria and getting myself an Xmas prezzie of a "real" iPod today, to replace the Shuffle that I guess [livejournal.com profile] colorwheel ate. I don't think I need a Video.

I am missing so many podcasts! Argh

The Diner

Friday, 6 October 2006 12:51
Is it wrong for me to like James Lileks' stuff again? After it earned a rec-in-passing from a reality-based podcast that I enjoy, I subscribed to The Diner, and... it's great. His warm and funny writing style mixed wonderfully with mid-20th century audio ephemera, which I (much like you) am a sucker for.

And Lileks has a really nice radio voice, too! I suppose that's not surprising, given what I know about him, but boy, it's just a well-produced show, all around.

It's good enough that I can almost shake off the feeling that the act of ticking his subscriber count up by one is emboldening the enemy. He still drops enough hints - probably not even intentionally - about his political orientation that makes me set my teeth. But still, when my stupid iPod Shuffle ate his podcast halfway through my commute this morning, I was pretty ticked off.
I've launched a new video podcast, Jmac's Arcade, or "My Life as a Series of Video Games". My name is in the title because it's deeply personal even though it's ostensibly about video games. I think it is very different than other game podcasts.

Google video, downloads, iTunes subscription links, and all the usual fixins on its homepage. It's also available as an audio-only podcast.

There's one episode up, and if I've already shown the show to you, then you've already seen it, except that I corrected the URL at the end.

I'm already kind of feeling sick of the idea, for the usual self-deprecatory reasons: wow, a podcast wanking nostalgic about old arcade games by a male Gen-X type. Someone give him two, no ten nobel prizes for best internets. But I bet I'll want to do more in a week or three anyway.

Interrupt

Saturday, 12 August 2006 18:51
Am supposed to be starting to attend to my end of the revenue model implementation now, but wound up spending the afternoon fixing a hairy problem in the Perl libraries that has hung up another Volity hacker, a fellow chugging along with a Hearts implementation. It was a conscious decision: getting developers psyched is a top priority for us, and having broken libraries is not the way to do it. Furthermore, I am really excited about having a well-known game like Hearts on the Network.

I did the right thing but I really can't punt any more with the revenue stuff. The Andys will look at me badly if I haven't made progress by Monday night. But there's also all the RSS stuff that needs to get done... eek.



I didn't feel like doing anything last night so I worked on the G*mesh*lf for about three hours, enough to throw together a rough draft out of the footage from last December. It is not our best work - the guest players are great, but the host bits are a bit too dorky if you can believe that - but I wanna get it done. I can't start thinking about where to take the show next when I have this eight-month-old undigested bolus sitting on my hard drive. Gotta poop it out. I think you'll like it anyway, when it's done.



Speaking of poop, I dropped Tom Vasel's The Dice Tower podcast after listening to a few episodes. It's an all-right show - I especially like what he does with guest-produced content - but its overall attitude about games and maybe about life in general is just different enough from mine to irritate me.

I finally dropped the feed when a recent show featured a top-ten list of worst themed games, and I thought that every "worst theme" they mentioned was actually pretty awesome. They hated all the Cheapass Games themes for being either boring ("Who wants to pretend to be in a ren faire?!") or absurd ("'Devil Bunny'? That doesn't make any sense!"), and dismissed other games on bogus perceptions, like calling Funny Friends a game about "being a cool teenager" - though I'm sure that if they knew more about the game they would have hated it anyways. As far as I can tell these guys just don't like either sort of below-the-waist-based humor, and as far as I'm concerned that makes them aliens. (The kind of aliens that don't go to the bathroom and reproduce via budding, I guess.)

Speaking of aliens, I have picked up [livejournal.com profile] taskboy3000's Pseudocertainty, a news podcast covering the world of pseudoscience and bizarre phenomena. I have only listened to the first ten minutes of the most recent show so far, but I like what I've heard, and now I won't be able to prompt jjohn for further mock outrage about how I never listen to his show.

It sort of fills the void left by Skepticality, which I stopped listening to when (and believe me, I feel like a jerk about this) Derek came back from hospital and I found it just too igry listening to him trying to communicate through his recent brain damage. Maybe he and the show are better now... I suppose I could give it another listen sometime.

PKD on TOE

Monday, 24 July 2006 10:22
This week's Theory of Everything is all about Philip K. Dick. Host Benjamin Walker gets a Ubik tattoo, and then phones someone else with a Ubik tattoo. Then PKD practices a speech for people who have Ubik tattoos.

(no subject)

Friday, 19 May 2006 19:25
Escape Pod is now airing, with subsequent shows, the nominees for the 2006 short-story Hugo. I think this is great. He's done two stories so far, and as always you can listen to them as you like for nuttin.

So far Steve's aired Tk'tk'tk by David D. Levine, which I liked, and Seventy-Five Years by Michael A. Burstein, which I couldn't get five minutes into because I found that it quickly becomes annoying, and then simply incorrect.

Steve's gotten into the habit of putting a spoken MPAA-style rating bumper at the start of every podcast. I was hoping he'd stop this when he spun off a separate "Escape Pod Classic" podcast that contains only the stories that he's run on the main show that don't contain swearing, sex or anything else to upset parents. I find it grating, and annoying even when I skip past it, because (a) I don't want to be "warned" of any content of the story I'm about to encounter (where I come from, we call those spoilers) and (b) I have philosophical problems with the entire idea anyway. I mean: would Steve put MPAA stickers before every story in a short-story collection, warning of squishy content that each contains? If not, then would you instead restrict minors' access to the fiction section of bookstores and libraries?

I cynically assume that, as a non-parent, I have a reduced voice in this matter. But I am a listener and I should tell him anyway.

(no subject)

Tuesday, 11 April 2006 15:48
BoardGameSpeak is back, more or less. They posted a brand-new show a few weeks ago, but didn't explain where they'd been since last fall, and have posted a year-old misplaced recording since then.

The show is OK, and no better. I actually don't really like the hosts' style too much. I bet they're personally good guys and I'd like to meet them some day, and certainly they have done a great job running the boardgamegeek.com website for many years now... but on-air they come off as a bit, um, off, to me. The lead host seems deeply Libertarian, right-leaning and rather smug about it. Now I'll be the first to say your kink is OK, but he lets this flavor much of what he says, and in their last show of last year he made a terribly unfortunate comment about New Orleans. When the show vanished thereafter I imagined any number of terrible voodoo-related fates that he might have brought down on himself, but here they are again.

Also there are no women on the show ever. This isn't entirely their fault, of course; it's well-known that the game-fan and game-production worlds have gender-balance issues. But they act as if there aren't any women to be found anywhere in gaming, whenever the subject is approached. Once or twice they've had phone conversations with someone's game party and upon hearing a female voice in the background chatter the hosts are all WAIT YOU HAVE A WOMAN THERE?!?! WTF HA HA Other than that the show's a sausage party, which is unfortunate and igry.

(no subject)

Tuesday, 11 April 2006 02:53
A newish podcast I have come across is Benjamen Walker's Theory of Eveything. Short, weekly bits and pieces that this guy and his friends find interesting. So far I'm right there with them. I have downloaded all the shows currently available through iTunes, which only span a couple of months though apparently he's been doing this on the radio for much longer.



After a heck of a lot of AJAX hacking today for volity.net (just some sysadmin doodoo to perform with [livejournal.com profile] daerr before its first draft is presentable), I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which has been soaking on my TiVo for a few weeks. I liked it a lot and could recommend it to anyone. I think Zarf admonished "Do not see this movie if you've been in a relationship, or if you are in a relationship now, or if you ever plan on being in a relationship", but really, it doesn't reveal anything worse than things you've already spent a lot of time reflecting on in any of those situations. And it does it very cleverly.

Am I a cad for kind of hoping that the credits would roll at the moment that Kate Winslet's character gets kicked out of the car near the end? That would have been stunning, a stunning blow, and I was steeling myself to take it. But as much as I would have enjoyed the shock of a flaming wreck, I did not fail to appreciate the sort of willing pessimism of the given ending. I do like my film romances with a delicate hint of cyanide.

I smiled to recognize some resemblances between me and Jim Carrey's character, the possible existence of which I was warned about. Actually he certainly dresses a lot like me, at least for winter. Though his coat may be a little nicer. And as always I wish my hair would behave like that.

Then again I don't know how I feel that people have twice now said they I resemble the lead character in a Charlie Kaufman-penned mopefest. (The other was "Adaptation", and, sigh, yes. If only for the scene where he types one sentence of his overdue writing project and then has a lengthy internal monologue about getting a muffin.)

(I think I'm going to go to the CVS for a coke.)

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