Archive for October, 2009

Southland is Dead; Long Live… Southland?

A while ago, I wrote about Southland, the last great straight-up street-cop drama on American network television. It had one of those weird short mini-seasons that seem to have become more common of late, airing just seven episodes back in April-May 2009 on Thursday nights, in ER‘s old timeslot. It did okay in ratings (for a scripted network show, anyway…) and was renewed for a “second season” of 13 more episodes halfway through its original run. That second season was supposed to start back in September. Well, because NBC pinned all their hopes and dreams and money on the revamped Jay Leno Show, Southland got moved to Friday evenings at 9pm, and had its second-season premiere bumped back to October 23 “so the network could promote it better”, or something like that.

You, um, aren’t going to see Southland on television next week, because it got canceled last week, after they’d already shot half the new season, believe it or not. Why? Officially, because it was too dark and “gritty” for the 9pm network timeslot. Unofficially… depends on who you ask. It would have been on right before Leno, and some suspect that the demographics between the two shows didn’t mesh well. (The lineup for the night would have been original Law and Order followed by Southland, which seems a decent enough match, and then Leno.) I kind of wonder if the move of Medium from NBC to CBS was a factor? Maybe it was all about the money – Southland seemed to have a pretty decent budget in its first mini-season… Either way, Southland is gone, and in its place… Dateline NBC.

Never mind that Southland generally drew higher ratings than Dateline, and could (IMO) have been fairly competitive in the timeslot against Ugly Betty and Medium, which I can’t really see as having a huge audience overlap with Southland. (Fox’s feeble attempt at Friday 9pm programming? Dollhouse, about which the less said, the better.) But, no, they’d rather can Southland and get rid of, you know, a new and fairly original scripted show.

Well, there’s a fan site for the show which is urging people to try and get the show saved, one way or another. Right now, there’s a glimmer of hope that TNT might get the show, but there’s nothing official yet.

Anyway, here’s hoping NBC can negotiate something to keep the show alive, somehow. I have my doubts how much shows of public support for the program would actually help, but if you’re feeling particularly activist-ish today, or hate “reality television” game shows as much as I do, go send Warner or NBC (or both!) a nicely-worded email reminding them that there are in fact people out there who watch television who aren’t, you know, developmentally-challenged idiots… and like television with things like plots and writing and acting in it. Please? Kthxbai…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on October 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment »

How to Lie With Numbers, U.S. Army Style

You might have noticed today’s big news that the U.S. Army – and other military branches – met their recruiting goals for Fiscal Year 2009 (FY2009), for the first time in several years.

That sounds like amazing news, and everyone seems to be suggesting the recession is to thank for the quantity and quality of new recruits.

I’m sorry to say, that’s absolutely and completely untrue.

The U.S. Army is once again trying to manipulate the recruiting narrative and improve their public image by. How? “Fuzzy math”, basically. “How to Lie With Numbers 101” sort of stuff.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on October 14th, 2009 | Comments Off on How to Lie With Numbers, U.S. Army Style

Publishing and the ‘Hero Model’

Print publishing, especially in some of the niche markets, is on its deathbed, which is a bit alarming to those of us who enjoy the tactile pleasures of a bound and printed thing, the joy of having a tangible object in exchange for our hard-earned money, and who like to read things that aren’t, currently, on the bestseller list sponsored by your country of choice’s leading newspaper. This is particularly noticeable in – though by no means exclusive to – the manga and light novel industry in the West, where publishers and fans have locked horns in a market-forces suicide pact and are struggling to see who can do the most harm the quickest.

These niche markets are being looked to by the rest of the publishing industry, because if anyone is going to come up with the next big thing to resuscitate the industry as a whole, it’s probably going to be one of the little guys on the edge of the publishing ghetto.

Over the last week, a strange and convoluted idea called the Hero Model has garnered some attention.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 12th, 2009 | Comments Off on Publishing and the ‘Hero Model’

Kwik Hits

Random things of interest from across the internet:

USAF headline, this afternoon: Airmen commemorate 50 years of nation’s preeminent ICBM fleet. Look, I know it’s obligatory for them to be really rah-rah about themselves, but can we just stop and think about this for a minute, please? “Preeminent” means “above or before others, superior, surpassing”, according to the dictionary. What’s this other ICBM fleet the USAF missileers are so superior to, then?

Dumbass of the day: Minnesota’s public safety commissioner wants to spend 2.5 million dollars in federal highway funds to put “sophisticated video cameras” in police cars across the state. The reason? To “fight gangs” by… um, deterring racial profiling by police, apparently. I know that’s undoubtedly going to be a popular move with the “all cops are racist bastards” crowd, but that’s going to do what, again, about the growing gang problem in this state? Stupid politicians…

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turns out to be Jewish, apparently. What can I say? We all hate in others what we hate in ourselves, et cetera.

Britain’s Independent has a list of the supposed world’s most notorious liars. Conservatives will be pleased to note that Bill Clinton is first on the list…

And lastly, a neat story on the secrets of underground Brooklyn.

Published in: General | on October 8th, 2009 | Comments Off on Kwik Hits

Better Living Through Insanely Secure Passwords

I recently had to register on a computer system operated by the United States government, and was quite surprised – albeit in a good way, I suppose – by the requirements set forth for a password on this system. My password needed to:

Be no less than nine characters, and no more than 16;
contain no more than two identical consecutive characters;
contain at least two uppercase letters;
contain at least two lowercase letters;
contain at least two digits;
and contain at least two “special” characters (ampersands, octothorpes, etc).

I mean, okay, that’s a pretty stridently secure set of criteria for a password, don’t you think? I’m not sure who came up with that set of guidelines, but they’ve certainly done their part to protect against weak passwords, in my opinion, at any rate.

But, here’s the really funny thing – guess what the computer system this password criteria is for. Go on, take a guess. Heck, guess the system’s security level.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on October 7th, 2009 | Comments Off on Better Living Through Insanely Secure Passwords