Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
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(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   want desperately to be shower radios
Sunday, March 25 2007
I've had an idea for a couple of weeks that it might be fun to make a political attack ad against Barack Obama. The ad would explicitly list the reasons middle class white Americans have for being leery of voting for any African American (a class to which Obama belongs in letter if not really in spirit). Such an ad would lay all the irrational racism out on the table, we'd all have a good chuckle, and then maybe we could all go back to disliking politicians for what they actually believe instead of the fears harbored in some bigotted corner of someone's reptilian brain. The result would be very Colbertian (a thing I've aspired to be since long before hearing of Colbert). Another possible attack ad could remind us of how foreign Obama's name sounds to real Americans. It would focus sharply on something Fox News does in some blurry form in nearly every reference to Barack Obama.
In terms of actual media, my first choice for making such an attack ad would have been through video. But I've never been satisfied with the video editing tools on my Windows machines, and I feel like I'm drowning whenever I try to do anything creative in the cramped screen real estate of either of my two modern Macintoshes. What is wrong with my Windows video tools? Some are freeware and some seem to have drifted in on CDs packaged with webcams or other high tech gizmos. These video editing tools all seem to want desperately to be shower radios, at least judging by appearance. Why can't they live by the normal conventions of Windows applications and have real, explorable menus and get rid of all the unlabled sliders, knobs, and buttons? I want to scream when I see programs trying to pass themselves off as real objects!
In the end I decided to do the ad in Flash, a development environment I know very well. I know how to make timelines, sub-movies, and add sounds. These are the basics of any video production effort. The environment is well-suited to animating still images, and still images of just about anything can be found using something like Google Images. There isn't, though, any good web search engine for tracking down short video clips. Sure, there's plenty of stuff to watch on YouTube, but how do you actually capture those video clips for use in some derivative project? It's not easy. For my Obama ad I needed a video clip of a wholesome white teenage girl in a sundress riding a bicycle, but there was nothing anything close to matching that description in the YouTube Universe. I did, however, find a perfect still image in Google Images, and it was relatively easy to animate it (at least in a comic, South Park sort of way) in Flash.
The big problem with Flash, as I was to discover, is that its video export feature is still fundamentally broken, even in Flash 8. When you go to export a .avi file, you get an animation, but none of the sub-movies are moving! So the clouds behind my McMansion don't race by, and the homies who show up to keep it real during the gangsta rap don't actually bob their heads to the beat! If you design an animation in Flash, you ultimately have to present it in Flash too. As far as I can tell it will never be exportable to a form usable in YouTube, for example.

Gretchen recovered enough today to eat rice, though she still complained about mysterious leg pains and had difficulty sleeping without resorting to Percocet. Neither of us were yet gastrointestinally whole. Though she'd had a bout of illness only yesterday down in Manhattan, I suspected that my problems might be lingering effects from the fever I had when I was bedridden from the flu. Perhaps this had killed off beneficial bacteria in my gut, causing me discomfort and acid reflux when I eating certain sugars (particularly those found in corn).

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