Friday, April 30, 2010
The Golden Age of Television. Great shows like Highway Patrol (1955-1959) starring Broderick Crawford as police chief Dan Mathews. Gripping police drama such as the episode entitled "Radioactive."
A "sneak thief" steals a radioactive oil indicator, a metal box with a couple of dials and a tube sticking out the bottom. After the highway patrol spots him the thief throws the device from his car into a junkpile. A trash picker finds the device and sells it to another junkyard to get a better deal. Later a ham radio operator, interested in all sorts of doohickeys, buys the mysterious unit to figure out what it is.
Dan Mathews and the highway patrol must find that ham radio operator, name and address unknown. If he takes the oil indicator apart, removing and uncapping its long tube, he will be exposed to the radioactive pellets inside.
It turns out the hams in the city have an evening broadcast, a swap shop and information pool, dealing with their hobby. Dan contacts the amateur radio station and has a warning sent out.
In the meantime, the last buyer of the device takes it home and shows it to his pregnant wife. Shortly later he manages to separate the large tube from the rest of the unit at the work bench in his radio shack. He's about to uncap the tube when his wife feels faint, dropping some dishes. He has her sit down in front of the device while he gets her a glass of water. Suddenly recovering from her fainting spell, the wife takes the tube apart, the radioactive pellets falling out on the table. Fortunately the husband runs in and pulls his wife from the room, explaining that the pellets are radioactive, dangerous.
Dan Mathews and a scientist show up. The husband worries that his wife has been exposed to a potent dose of radioactivity. The scientist asks the wife how long she was exposed. She replies a couple of seconds, maximum. By my stopwatch, it's fourteen seconds after she popped off the protective cap and looked inside before she's pulled away. According to the broadcast warning, more than five seconds exposure can be deadly.
So it looks like this young pregnant wife is going to give birth one of the X-Men mutants. But the scientist accepts her two-second maximum exposure story. He smiles. No need to worry, he explains. He gets that much exposure every day when he inserts and removes the pellets. No bother.
If that's the case, then why did everyone act like the device was an atomic bomb ready to explode? Of course, if they didn't, the viewer would've tuned out 25 minutes earlier.
Better yet, why didn't the device have the black-and-yellow symbol for radioactivity painted on it or RADIOACTIVE in bright red letters? That's right. People were stupider in the 1950s -- at least TV cop show scriptwriters.
The 1950s device depicted in this image is:
A. An American-made radioactive oil indicator.
B. A Russian-made personal vibrator.
"So big boy -- you read much Freud?"
Scientist: "You were only exposed for two seconds? Don't worry; I get that much exposure every day. Look at me -- I'm only 25 years old."
"This is Ducky Drake, WIRY Radio. I think the Tea Party should burn down the Plattsburgh Public Library. Is it just me?"
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Why pay a professional to create content when you can get an unsuspecting amateur out there to do it for free?
That is the attitude of some mainstream media organizations with web sites asking for contributions from their readers and viewers. One such example can be found at WPTZ-TV's site, ULocal.
If you read through all the legalese you'll eventually come to this section:
...By posting Material on the Web Site, you grant to Hearst the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive worldwide right and license to use, re-use, assign, sublicense, distribute, copy, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, display, perform, make, sell and export such Material, and create derivative works from such Material, in any and all media or technology now known or later developed, in any manner, in whole or in part, without any restriction or responsibilities or additional compensation or consideration to you or anyone else."
So if you capture a rare event on your camera such as an UFO crashing into Plattsburgh City Hall or a well-known movie starlet running around naked on Church Street in Burlington, VT, you better think twice before submitting it to WPTZ because the Hearst corporation will own it outright. The excerpt above is a blanket copyright grab. If there's money to be made, Hearst will make it, not you, because you gave them all rights to your content.
Let's say your video someone, a person who is a nobody at this point in time. A decade later than person becomes famous or notorious. You think you have a goldmine because you have a rare video of that person that everyone wants. Well, Hearst can step in and say, "Sorry, you gave it to us, we take all the dough."
Notice how the excerpt says that Hearst has all rights "in any and all media or technology now known or later developed, in any manner, in whole or in part, without any restriction or responsibilities or additional compensation or consideration to you or anyone else." So if someone develops cybernetic telepathy, Hearst still owns your stuff and they still get all the money.
Don't be a sap for content parasites. Whatever you create -- text, images or video -- take care when submitting it anywhere. If you want to share your stuff, set up your own blog or web site where you keep all rights to your content. Don't fall into a trap set by shady gatekeepers. Use the web to bypass them.
Greedy corporations are screwing you enough as it is.
NOTE: I'm not an IP lawyer but I know enough to spot a problem. Consult an intellectual property attorney if you have specific questions.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Sea Hunt was a TV series aired from 1958-1961 that followed the adventures of ex-Navy frogman, Mike Nelson, as portrayed by Lloyd Bridges. As watching episodes from this series proves, the late 1950s-early 1960s were an enlightened era.
Take the episode entitled "Killer Whale" -- please. Mike Nelson is out scuba-diving with his friends, a married couple, Doug and Mela Anderson. Suddenly the trio is attacked by a killer whale. Deadlier than any great white shark, the killer whale attacks and eats Doug. Mike and Mela escape.
Mike Nelson declares that all killer whales should be destroyed. He enlists the aid of a harpooner who specializes in explosive shafts, a tough guy named Will. Mela wants to go along on the search-and-destroy mission to get the killer whale that dug Doug but Mike and Will say no, it's no job for a girl. Of course, they're right. Girls just mess things up like when the boys build a tree house and the dumb girls want to put up sissy curtains in the windows.
Mike and Will take off in their boat, expecting to catch the killer whale near some rocks where seals congregate. Of course, Mela follows them in a small motor boat and like a typical girl she gets stuck in some seaweed while a rubber fin -- I mean killer whale -- approaches.
But Mike saves Mela and Will blows up the killer whale with his explosive phallic symbol. The End.
"Gee, I think the killer whale got Doug Anderson. Or maybe it got Doug Jones or Doug Smith or Doug Mxyzptlk."
"There's the killer. Your rubber harpoon..."
"...can blow up that phony rubber fin in the water."
"What did you say? A tiller pail is behind me? I can't understand you; blondes have dumb hearing."
See this classic episode for yourself at this link.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Below are excerpts from the City of Plattsburgh charter dealing with the matter of dog feces. If the city is whining about no money, how about a few fines to balance the budget and also to motivate a few pigs to pick up after their dogs?
The other night I was sitting in a car with a friend across the street from Trinity Park. I noticed someone with a leashed dog in the park.
"Watch this," I said to my friend.
The owner let his dog squat and shit. Then he walked away, leaving the crap for someone else to deal with.
All the city needs to do is have a police officer in an unmarked car sit near Trinity Park and hand out fines to scofflaws. After some enforcement, the word would get out and more people would pick up after their dogs.
I find it interesting that when something goes down you see three, four, even five police cars, lights flashing, speeding along to a scene. What are all of those officers doing the rest of the time? It seems one officer could cover downtown a couple of hours each evening.
Now someone might be thinking: Why didn't you and your friend say something the other night to that idiot in the park? Ain't our job. Also, if we did say something, the guy might create a real scene and file a complaint with the cops against us.
Sounds crazy? Not really. Years ago one mayor told citizens to yell at anyone not picking up after his dog. Shortly later there was a letter in the newspaper from a woman, a concerned citizen, who did that. The woman wrote that the dog-owner complained to the police and she, the concerned citizen, was almost charged with harassment.
There's no reason not to enforce what's plainly written in the city charter. Here are the excerpts; click on the image to make it larger.
And for those of you who don’t think there’s a problem with dogshit in Plattsburgh, check out the ad nauseam examples at http://dogtown12901.blogspot.com .
Friday, April 23, 2010
While Plattsburgh's daily newspaper is Dickless -- it dropped Dick Tracy from its funny pages -- that fine publication is still providing readers with the adventures of the Phantom.
Phantom? That guy running around in the jungle attired with a black mask, purple leotards, and a gun? Isn't he dead? Didn't he die from heat exhaustion from running around in that sweaty not-jungle-appropriate get-up?
No, the Ghost Who Jaywalks lives on. Recently there was a transition between adventures. Suddenly the reader ends up in a office styled in 1960's "modern" where a distinguished gentleman breaks through the fourth wall to address the audience. This mysterious stranger fills in everyone who hasn't stop by lately (Shame on you!) on what has been going on at this point in the Phantom's crime-fighting life. This narrator looks like a British diplomat of the old school (Eton, my good chap), fancy suit, cane and derby. But who the hell is he?
This narrator has an omniscient view of the world, knows everything about the Phantom, his past, present and future.
It's good that God dropped in to the strip to do a segue.
(The April 20th, 2010 sequence, seen above, was found at this link.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Recently Dick Tracy was dropped from the Plattsburgh daily newspaper. The comic strip has been around too long, the creativity of its late creator, Chester Gould, a dim memory. Reading it was checking out a new train wreck each day.
But Dick lives on thanks to the Web. Over at gocomics.com you can read Dick's adventures but with an added benefit missing from the newspaper version: snarky comments from readers.
For example, here's a panel -- the weekly Crimestoppers feature -- from the Sunday, April 11, 2010 strip that announces that a Dick Tracy statue will be on display:
And how do the online readers respond?
JDGGenius_badge said: "Well the statue would be a crime stopper. The pigeons would use it instead of your car!"
jtpozenel said: "Will his statue have deformed hands?"
China60 said: "If the last panel in today’s strip is any indication, his hand will be coming out of his shoulder."
And here's that last panel China60 was referencing, Dick reading some snail mail:
Someone left a comment stating that the readers were being too negative about the latest version of DT as rendered by Dick Locher. But I think the sarcasm is justified when dumb mistakes slip by. In the latest adventure someone throws a note wrapped around a rock through Dick's front window. He unwraps and reads the note one day but in next day's segment the note is still wrapped around the rock.
This causes a reader, a mrbribery, to observe: "So you re-wrapped the rock after reading the message yesterday?"
One online reader sums up the sad state of Dick Tracy online this way:
Dr.Midnight: "…besides, the negative comments are usually more entertaining than the strip itself…."
Friday, April 16, 2010
Guest Editorial By Plattsy The Clown
They're building and renovating in the center of the city, new housing -- but not for young people.
The old Seton Academy / Mount Assumption Institute building was going to be housing for college age students but there was an uproar from the neighbors. Young tenants would bring along all the problems that follow them like stupidity follows Sarah Palin.
So now the old school property is being converted into senior housing. Ya, that's so much better.
Wait until those seniors move in. With their bad hearing and cheap hearing aids they'll be blasting Frank Sinatra records all day. They'll be chucking their soiled Depends adult diapers out the window. And the white-haired guys, all jacked up on Viagra, will be chasing nubile college girls down the street. And the blue-haired biddies will be grabbing young kids by the ears, yanking them hard, because those whippersnappers need a good straightening out now and then.
You won't be able to cross the street safely because the old people with their bad memories will be driving in circles for hours, lost, because they forgot where they live. They'll be too busy squinting at street numbers to notice anyone in the crosswalk.
Wait until an old person calls you over to pick up his slimy false teeth that fell out, diseased dentures on the sidewalk.
Do you want to be around those types? They forget to wash and have that musty old people's smell because they keep their windows shut tight all day.
There goes the neighborhood because no one wanted young people to live in the new housing.
If there's anything Plattsy the Clown hates, it's prejudice!!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Not really when it comes to downtown and clean streets. Here's the evidence:
Don't click on the link if dog feces upsets you.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Here are the details from the PPL Friends website:
The Friends of the Plattsburgh Public Library announce their newest spring fundraiser entitled "Feathered Friends", a silent auction of creative bird-related items such as bird houses, bird feeders and bird baths. The event will run from Wednesday, April 7th through Thursday, May 6th at the Plattsburgh Public Library, 19 Oak Street.
All proceeds will be used by the Friends in their mission to support the library. Please call 518-562-9515, if you have any questions regarding this fundraiser.
For more info via online, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Monday, April 05, 2010
Friday, April 02, 2010
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Why bother with the expense and bother of traditional curtains when flags, towels, and wall-hangings work just as well? A few tacks or small nails and you're done, privacy and light control accomplished in a couple of minutes. And not to mention the added benefit of expressing your own individuality.