Thunderf00t vs. Ray Comfort

Oh, I know I exist
Oh, I know I exist

ThunderfOOt: You’re in denialism.  You can know nothing, you don’t even know that you’re here having this conversation.

Ray Comfort: Well, you can know the Truth.  It’s all in the scripture.

ThunderfOOt: Well, yeah, but you don’t even know whether you exist, let alone whether the scripture…

Ray Comfort: Oh, I know I exist.

Takes place at about 5:00

My new favorite thing

Recommended by Columbia colleagues Rob Lagueux and Doug Reichert-Powell:


Buffy vs. Edward

Brilliant editing.


Via RevolutionSF

This will change your life, if you eat bananas.


via Pharyngula

The J McC song.


via Respectful Insolence

The most important film ever made.

Via Pharyngula:


She goes by Deborah Gibson now.

Thunderf00t explains Swine Flu

One of my favorite YouTubers explains the basics of avoiding swine flu, with a bit of epideology too.


Pondering the inequities of race and background

An interesting overlap of two ethical dilemmas.  First, one of my students mentioned today that one of his friends had been murdered recently, shot 47 times in revenge for having stolen something.  As part of our conversation afterward, my students referred to the “no snitching” rule that keeps people from saying anything to the police about the incident:

But there are historical reasons as to why community residents are not talking to the police. One historical reason the no-snitch rule exists in our neighborhood is that in the past the 46th Precinct has served more as the oppressor of the community, rather than the protector. Several infamous cases of police brutality created tension and mistrust that has lasted to this day. …

The no-snitch rule is also fueled by the fear of reprisal. When I first moved to Mount Hope in the early 1990s, it was pointed out to me that another local resident was responsible for the killing of two Jamaican men who lived across the street from my building. It happened at the corner of 179th Street and Creston Avenue. Apparently they had been murdered over a drug dispute. Everyone in the neighborhood knew what had happened, yet no one told the police. The killer continued to live in the community and be involved in drug activity for years to come. Being the curious child that I was, I remember asking my family why the “bad guy” was still around. The response I got was, “Mind your own business.” I was told that if I didn’t mind my own business, then I could put my life and that of my family at risk. I never asked a silly question again.

On one hand, I’m reminded of Kitty Genovese and the bystander phenomenon, and on the other hand of the movie stereotype of the person who avoids testifying to keep themselves safe from harm.  But recognizing my position as a white middle-class man who’s never experienced anything like the conditions in these communities, it’s hard to suggest that the problem lies only in the community–the racist and classist systems of law enforcement and our happy trampling of civil rights haven’t made people any more likely to trust the police than they are now.  So what can we propose as a solution to the “no snitching” problem?

Second, a student (from that class, but also from another) gave me the link to the video below and I’m interested to see what people think.  On the one hand, it’s funny because it remediates the rap battle into something else.  On the other hand, a part of me wondered if it was racist.  The comments reflect a tide of opinion that the video isn’t racist, but rather satire.  I tend to think that the intent of the creators shapes the result significantly, but the New Critics would laugh me out of the academy for that one.  Anyhow, I decided that my own regular “nerdy white boy” self-deprication when we talk about Black culture helped that student see this as something I would think it’s funny, and I do, so here it is:

Oh, NSFW I guess.


Soundtrack, commentary, and YouTube


So off and on, I’ve played around with GameCam Fraps to record games. It’s a cool little app that I spent some birthday money to buy a year or two ago. One game, when I happened to be recording, I had a string of three extremely lucky (not skillful) kills in Counter-Strike: Source, and I posted them (as much to practice video editing and posting as to brag about my crappy skilz). Because the kills were so clearly products of a spray-and-pray play style (coupled with a habit of holding the gun at enemy-head-height), I titled the video “Is it Luck?” and attached a Primus song by the same name to the video.

The other day, a content owner (I presume Primus’ record company) filed a DMCA notice on the video and it was taken down. I don’t really have much defense for using the music — it isn’t really fair use under the current standard — but I’d also argue that I wasn’t taking any monetary value away from Primus. In fact, since I had credited the music, I was actually driving sales (perhaps).

So I used YouTube’s audio-swap service, in which they have some supplied, licensed music that you can have automagically dubbed in. I chose a nice upbeat classical piece to replace Les Claypool’s thumping bass line. The logic of the default was at work here: by using the first piece of music in the first category of choice, I am filing my own little complaint about the draconian enforcement of non-monetary, non-competing use of tiny bits of commercial material.

SCMS roundup

I went to the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Philly this last weekend. A good time was had by all, or by me at least.

1. My paper

My presentation considered my same ol’ shtick, what happens to the detective as we enter electracy. This time I took a run at the discussion through mise-en-scene (the stuff in the movie that isn’t dialogue, plot, or sound). In short, I suggested that the pregnancy of possibility that film noir revels in encourages its detectives to operate differently, not by ratiocination but by intuition (conductively, to use the grammatological neologism).

2. Other people’s papers

Sometimes I’m a conference marathoner, going to oodles of panels. This year, I narrowed the field a bit, attending five or six panels only (out of a total 16 at the event). My highlights:

  • Jonathan Frome did an interesting paper on the paradox of fiction as it operates in one of the Zelda games.
  • Bob Buerkle pondered the odd use of the term “first-person shooter” for an operation that is really “second person” if we use the original meaning of those terms. I don’t entirely buy his argument, but I appreciated it.
  • Zach Whalen did an excellent talk about excavating useful nuggets of knowledge from inside game code. Reminds me a bit of the branch of film studies who look at shooting scripts and the like.
  • Josh Guilford spoke about advertising and the real/sellout dichotomy in early skateboard advertising. An amusing and interesting talk.
  • Rob Jones gave an interesting talk about the evolution of machinimateurs and its shift from free production work toward being a potential career. Interesting implications in conversation with the talks I heard about mix culture and its similar potential for monetary value to its producers.
  • Amanda Fleming did a fan-culture analysis of serial killer fan sites. It was an interesting expose, but I felt the salient issue in exploring these fan cultures is not just to point out what techniques and ideas they share with other fan communities, but also to consider the ethics of their behavior (which she avoided doing).
  • Nic Guest-Jelley’s paper about Chaplin was excellent. I like this notion of the wisdom of the slapstick comedian. Perhaps he will eventually help me understand why the Three Stooges are so popular.
  • My paper was, well, see above.
  • Brian Doan’s always enjoyable writing shone as he wove an entertaining and insightful discussion of The O.C. using the entrypoint of Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows.
  • Joshua Green gave an excellent talk about fan culture and how it needs to change as it begins to wrestle with “produsers.”
  • Patricia Lange’s audience analysis of YouTube videos was great, and fit nicely with conversations I’ve had with my Game Culture students about how our we have to manage our personae online.
  • Peter Decherney gave a very interesting talk about Chaplin and his copyright battles.
  • Abigail Derecho’s talk about the early days of mix culture before the law and the music industry decided that any unauthorized sampling was illegal highlighted how important it is that we understand the law around copyright.
  • Peter Jaszi’s discussion of the Center for Social Media’s best practices documents and their effect on publishing practice with regard to Fair Use kicked ass.  An excellent, inspirational talk.
  • Lucas Hilderbrand led another interesting talk about copyright law, focusing on the Family Copyright Act of 2006, which clarified some weird bits of copyright law that I’ll write about a bit more some other time.
  • The Workshop on Scholarly Writing in the Digital Age was invigorating and excellent.  It highlighted for me, though, the rule that when we move to new media, we take old media forms with us, and they continue to limit our thinking.  We heard several talks about ways to make more interactive books.  Books.  Online books.  Why keep the book model?  To be fair, Jason Mittell did explicitly change his language to focus on “project” rather than book.  The conversation after the presentation was even more conservative in some ways.  Nonetheless, a fascinating and interesting workshop.

3. Philly

I did a bit of walking Saturday afternoon with Brian.  We checked out the Liberty Bell and the outside of Independence Hall (which closed minutes before we got there, darn it).   It was a nice walk and pleasant, but not as organized as some of my other trips.  Nonetheless, I took lots of photos.  You can check out my Flickr Philly set for more about that.