Thing:Some Thoughts On The Three Amigos from A VC. Very many great things have been written about this week’s LeBron James sideshow — if you missed it, let’s just say it combined all the most spectacular elements of a two-year-long infomercial, a Derby horse auction, and Alexander’s invasion of India. It’s become almost cliche, but it’s true: the problem isn’t what he did, it’s how he did it. Not since Ron Burgundy has a city so unmistakably been told to go **** itself. But let’s get beyond the question of whether we’re mad at LeBron or just disappointed.
The freshest piece on the matter (the one linked to at the beginning of this rambling) frames LeBron’s decision as an experiment being conducted by LeBron. It’s like nothing we’ve seen in the sports history of America, though the word sports is superfluous — a household-name for-profit organization’s labor has taken total control of its own factory.
In X’s and O’s terms, it’s not likely to work. The team won’t have any money to afford depth, James and Dwayne Wade don’t complement so much as duplicate each other, and this might be the biggest foursome of egos since… I don’t know, the Beatles (?), if you count Heat general manager Pat Riley. But let’s say it does work… will sports ever be the same? (ht Rafi Kam.)
Thing: As a Gentile, it’s hard to know how to approach this video. A Holocaust survivor, his daughter, and two grandchildren tour former German concentration camps and Holocaust memorials — where they dance to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
After watching, people tend to either feel goose-bumpy or uncomfortable. Rationally, the presence of an able-minded-and-bodied Holocaust survivor should dissuade any concerns of whether the montage is tasteful and appropriate — if he’s ok with it, you should be too. But it’s still unsettling.
And it’s all because of the song they’ve chosen. It’s an instantly mockable karaoke throwaway, for whatever reason. If they’d gone with a traditional Hebrew song, any traditional Hebrew song, even one we’ve never heard of, the video would be cool but unremarkable. Or you’d expect something like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, whatever — no problem (since apparently men with guitars know more about the joy and power of survival than an African American woman born in the 1940s).
But because “I Will Survive” somehow has become the definitive disco song, it feels like it’s not just the wrong song, it’s almost blasphemous.
But, of course, it’s the best possible song. This man is almost literally dancing on his own grave.
Last year, high school science teacher Ron Dantowitz of Brookline, Mass., played a clever trick on three of his best students. He asked them to plan a hypothetical mission to fly onboard a NASADC-8 aircraft and observe a spacecraft disintegrate as it came screaming into Earth’s atmosphere. How would they record the event? What could they learn?
For 6 months, they worked hard on their assignment, never suspecting the surprise Dantowitz had in store.
On March 12th, he stunned them with the news: “The mission is real, and you’re going along for the ride.”
THING:The Making of OutKast’s Aquemini from Creative Loafing. If you’re me, then you barely made it through that headline before clicking on it. However, please report back on how long it took you to click if you are, in fact, not me. Big Boi’s debut solo album drops this week, and at least one-fourth of our staff is very excited about that.
Bonus Patriotic Bonus
Via SBN, the best fake documentary trailer you’ll wish was a trailer for a real movie all season:
I’ve always tried to discover where it is that these fans feel all the money should go. Major sports leagues make billions of dollars — if athletes are making, like, $90,000 a year, does that mean the other 99.9% of each billion should should go to team owners? It’s gotta go somewhere. Might as well go to the people who provide the entire product, right?
It’s hard to avoid thinking it might be a race issue, as we’ll all get worked up about a guy named Rodriguez earning $25 million for 162 games, yet nobody complains about Tom Hanks making $25 million for doing one movie.
What’s the hardest thing in the world to market?
It can be difficult, elitist, inaccessible, and as if this weren’t enough, it’s in a foreign language.
What do you do?
If you are the Opera Company of Philadelphia, about a month ago, this is what you do.
Google announced their API and directory on May 19, 2010. On Thursday, May 20, 2010, a Drupal module was released that gives you all the tools you need to display Google Fonts on your Drupal website. Time to market - one day. In the first week after its release, the module has already been installed on over 50 websites, kick-starting the virtuous cycle of testing and feedback that is the hallmark of open source software …
The lesson here is clear: you can move at web speed by using open source tools. Stop waiting for your proprietary vendor to add it to their product, Drupal let’s you use tools like Google Fonts today.
Elsewhere in new, efficient, and agile vs. old, wasteful, and sluggish:The Government Wants To Save Newspapers And Media Moguls from Silicon Alley Insider (via Rafi Kam). A recent FTC report on how to save journalism ignores blogs and other independent media, instead cooking up schemes that basically amount to newspaper industry bailouts. (What else can you call “a 5% surcharge on consumer electronics to raise $4 billion for public funding of news”?) There’s too much astounding stuff to summarize in a short space; go read it for yourself.
Like There’s Not A Bonus Section
Cell phone in microwave. Yes, it’s worth watching. With your speakers on.
D.C. Open Government Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing government transparency, hired us to redesign their Drupal site. They had been using a theme very similar to the stock Drupal theme and needed a visual identity that also helped tell the story of what they do.
Using the colors most commonly linked with the United States government seemed like the right idea — with the most space devoted to white to take advantage of the obvious associations between clean and open. We also used rocket-glare red to draw attention to the Report a Violation item, creating a call to action that stands out without stealing the show.
To streamline the experience for both visitor and editor, we also modified several content types and consolidated some navigation items. For example, combining several of the site’s dynamic content avenues (News, Announcements, etc.) into a single Blog cuts down on clicks — plus readers are much more likely to use RSS when looking at something that acts like a blog instead of a news section.
As a side note we’re very proud to be a part of this project, as we wholeheartedly support efforts to increase government openness.