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There's bad ads running on Fark lately and we're going to kill the people responsible. We could use your help
Posted by Drew at 2008-11-07 2:35:56 PM (449 comments) | Permalink

We've been getting a lot of reports lately about bad ads running on Fark. Ads that play noise, ads that expand, ads that take over the entire screen, pop-ups, and worst of all at least a couple instances of ads depicting banana hammocks.

Recently we switched ad networks, and in the process we switched google adsense from the old partner to the new. The old partner had a ton of filters installed over the years to keep these crap ads from running on Fark. When we switched ad networks, the filter essentially got reset. The new ad network hadn't been running adsense so they don't have any filters. We're having to rebuild it from the ground up.

For those who don't know how adsense works, here's a short paraphrased explanation: It's essentially a remnant ad network. We don't know who's buying ads on Fark until they actually run. Why the hell anyone thinks that annoying readers is the path to a successful ad campaign I'll never know.

So if you see an ad that makes noise, expands, pops, or is in any other way annoying, see if you can get a copy of the url of the image and the url of the destination. If you could email me either directly or via the submit form (chosing 'bad banner ad' as the subject) and let me know what the urls are, we will kill it with fire. If I can find who is responsible for these ads, they will be shoved up a dog's ass and shot.

PS - I should have the next installment of our previous ban discussion ready to go next week, things have been kinda busy lately with the election thingee.

PSS - I am travelling today and can't respond in the thread so if anyone has any comments or questions feel free to contact me
· · ·

Headlines of the Week, October 27 - November 2
Posted by Drew at 2008-11-03 12:11:07 PM, edited 2009-01-19 4:10:35 AM (44 comments) | Permalink

This went over really well last week, which was great to see, considering that two News Flashes hit the main page just after the Headline of the Week thread. It'll be interesting to see the reaction this week. Hopefully Palin doesn't pull a beaded string from her nose or Obama slips and uses the "H" word or something. Although actually, those would be great too. Have I mentioned I can't wait for this election to be over?

Headlines of the Week, October 27 - November 2, 2008

Scientists find 3,000-year-old Hebrew text, the oldest ever found in Israel -- five lines of text in which a mom asks her son why he never visits anymore

Military families are concerned about the poor salaries paid to new recruits which are barely above minimum wage. It's all very well for the sergeants and the corporals, but it's a nasty blow to the privates

U.S. Army thinks terrorists will use Twitter to coordinate attack. "8:01 - finished making bomb, 8:10 - Eating bowl of Captain Crunch, Allah I love this stuff, 9:15 - Strapped bomb to chest, ready to go through security, 9:17 - UFIA"

Egyptian couple busted in Cairo for hosting swingers' party. At least it wasn't another one of their pyramid schemes

Dogs's ear emits radio signals. You can't be sirius

Crime spree in SF area cemetery -- thousands dead

Man invents new exercise called "laughter yoga," or as your wife refers to it, sex

Car slams into Starbucks, two hurt; backs up, hits another Starbucks

Serial lingerie thief makes fourth huge snatch. Officials hope for big bust soon

Thousands flee violence in the Congo. With pic of the most disorganized Congo line ever

Top Headline for each tab:

Sports:
Fifteen University of North Texas football players fail drug tests. Based on their 0-8 record, they clearly weren't performance enhancing

Sidney Crosby sidelined with "mystery" injury. It's just that there was no box for "vagina" on the form to check off

The New Orleans Saints would like it to be known that the kicker and punter who replaced the ones who were sacked earlier in the season have been sacked, will be replaced with llamas

Business:
If you had Ukraine as the next country to need an emergency bailout from the IMF, step up and collect your free whatever the hell Ukraine makes

Ford Motor execs stop huffing glue long enough to announce they are hiring 1,000 workers to meet an anticipated demand for the new F-150 pickup truck, bet on the Lions in the Superbowl

"Communications majors have some of the same skill sets as English majors and often compete for similar jobs." Would you like an apple pie with that?

Geek:
Teenagers found to be "dumber than a generation ago." Feel free to talk about them here. It's not like they can read

DRUDGE surpasses NYTimes in page views .. [auto-refresh] .. DRUDGE surpasses NYTimes in page views .. [auto-refresh] .. DRUDGE surpasses NYTimes

Man's first barbecue was 790,000 years ago. And yet, we still debate the "Eight buns per pack/10 hot dogs per pack" dilemma

Showbiz:
Peter Frampton is upset that his Obama signs were stolen from his front yard. Waa... waa waa waa waa waa

"Deep Throat" director dead, mourners all choked up

"Saw" is now the top grossing horror franchise of all time, beating out Freddy, Jason, and the Bush family

Politics:
Yes or no: Should not the disallowance of use of misdirecting language not be used to confuse Michigan voters on whether or not to disallow the ban on alcohol sales on Sunday?

Good looks help women candidates more than men. Guiliani once again seen sizing dresses, buying lip liner

Pennsylvania likely going to Obama, while Florida too close to call, as volunteers feverishly decorate voting forms with macaroni art and glitter


(Music and Video headlines are not included)
· · ·

Fark headlines of the week for October 20 - October 26
Posted by Drew at 2008-10-27 3:25:49 PM, edited 2009-01-19 4:10:42 AM (66 comments) | Permalink

We've been talking about doing this for a while, and now we've finally gotten around to it. Each week, we will be showcasing the top headlines from Fark. The top headlines are determined by a proprietary algorithm that is highly classified and soon to be patented. Actually, it's just an amalgam of clickthroughs, link votes, number of comments and blind guessing on our part (it's fixed). The list is in no particular order, except that the tab links go in order of the tabs.

We'll also highlight the best headline from each tab that didn't show up on the main page, because tabs need love too.

Without further ado:

Headlines of the Week, October 20 - October 26, 2008

Ontario appeals court upholds ban on pit bulls. Another victory in the war on terrier

Man accuses NYC police of sodomizing him with walkie-talkie. He could be telling the truth, or he could just be talking out of his ass

A man fell off of a ladder / You'd think that his head would be split / But good luck was with him that morning / He fell in a big tank of ... Shaving Cream

Pizza delivery driver says his car's wireless rear-view camera system shows pornography when he drives on a certain street every chance he gets

Federal agents arrest Mongols after 800-year investigation

Transformer blown by Licking Heights, smokes afterward. Optimus Prime very, very relaxed

Catholic church creates secluded private garden to honor sex abuse victims. Where they can sit and meditate and be comforted by the clergy

Baptist minister calls birth control "murder." Your mom's face now a crime scene

"Heckler inaugurated as VU president," interrupts his own acceptance speech more than a dozen times

Man admits stealing copper from cemetery. Cu later, dumbass

Top Headline for each tab:

Sports:
St. Louis Rams player Richie Incognito fined $35K for penalties, verbally abusing ref, having a totally fake sounding name

Denver Broncos lose LB Boss Bailey for the year, and his brother, cornerback Champ Bailey, for four-to-six weeks. The other brother, Beetle, is doing okay, with Miss Buxley administering tender, loving rubdowns

Unnamed Jets fan spends $400K for the right to watch four-yard-passes on third-and-17 up close, and occasionally have Joe Namath drunkenly hit on his wife

Business:
Move over AIG, Iceland is requesting "several billion" dollars more in financial assistance. Threatens to release several new Björk albums if the world financial community does not comply

Ticketmaster fires 300 employees due to financial crunch, collects 10 percent of their severance in convenience fees

Swiss banking industry on the brink, nation may have to revert to corkscrew & knife-based economy

Geek:
You can Alt+F4 your doors to Win+D your risk but it won't F1. EM emissions from your keyboard can be used to Ctrl+C what you're typing. It's F5ing to know that background interference Ctrl+X's the chances of it happening

Behold the amazing tricks animals use to conceal themselves from predators. Also, there are at least three ninjas in each photo

New research suggests that people will feel better about you when holding something warm. Just don't get too ambitious on your first attempt, ok?

Showbiz:
Heather Mills masterminds the world's most effective diet, loses millions of pounds in seven months

Mariah Carey launches a design contest for her new scent. How do you draw a fart?

Judge at the Phil Spector murder retrial warns potential jurors to disregard prior agendas, Spector's hair

Politics:
Alaska's black population says he has felt ignored by Palin

Ted Stevens fate to be decided by a jury of his peers. Still no word on where they found 12 giant assholes

13 Fake Presidential candidacies including Pat Paulsen, Pogo, Steven Colbert, Bill & Opus, Walter Mondale
· · ·

Discussion of Fark's moderating system - Part I. How Fark is different and exactly what are the goals in moderating?
Posted by Drew at 2008-10-07 3:53:14 PM (2303 comments) | Permalink

I do a lot of thinking when I'm driving around, mainly because when I'm not on the net I don't have to react to randomly-occurring issues needing my attention. At some point on a long drive it occurred to me that a huge majority of issues people have with Fark's moderating process are due to the fact that people don't actually know what we're doing. Fark operates very differently than any other website I can think of, and there's no indication of this in our FAQ or anywhere else. We don't have a discussion of Internet Community Theory anywhere. So in a bid to cut down on a bunch of the false positives we've been getting, here's the first of a multi-part discussion of what we're doing on our end and how it's different from other sites.

Here's our list of discussion topics, we're going to do the first two today. I suspect more issues will pop up later, I'll hit those too. If any questions you may have fall under the other topics, hold them until then.

Do not post questions about the status of individual banned Farkers, either post a hypothetical or email me. Also be aware that hypotheticals don't exist in a vacuum - individuals who claim to have been banned from Fark for no reason either rewrote history or omitted something. For example there's at least one person banned currently with over 50 various infractions who claims to have no idea why they were banned. I believe them too (that they have no idea). That doesn't change the fact that incidents occurred, they were notified at the time, claimed to have understood at the time, then later wiped them from their memory. Some people are like that. In a community of over 4.3 million individuals we see just about every possible combination of personality traits, that's one of them. So it goes.

What kind of community Fark isn't
Our goal in moderating
Internal checks and balances against bad moderating
How to get banned permanently from Fark
Popular misconceptions about Fark that impact moderating
Problems with the current system

I'll begin by explaining what kind of community Fark isn't.

Most online communities (and by most I mean everyone other than us) attempt to be variations of real life societies. Many claim to be some kind of utopian hippie commune where every voice is "important".

Most espouse some kind of anti-censorship bent. In reality this isn't the case at all. Most methods of not-censoring posts involve making sure that while comments won't ever be deleted, no one ever sees them (via voting comments down or 'unpublishing' them). If no one can ever see a comment it might as well be deleted This is silly, just call it what it is. What these other sites do is only technically anti-censorship, in reality it's the same thing as deleting comments but with a different name.

A lot of other communities, mainly news aggregators, try to adopt the democratic model of posting stories and links. This works great until you factor spammers into the equation, then everything goes to hell. You also run into issues with something I like to call "tyranny by well-organized minorities". Note how Ron Paul supporters were able to effectively dominate social news websites during the primary election season.

Fark takes a different approach altogether. Fark isn't attempting to emulate any real world society. Fark is a house party. Everyone's welcome to come and I certainly hope they have fun at the party and enjoy themselves. People who complain that the food sucks, the decor is bad, and the people at the party are jerks will eventually get shown the door. Sometimes people get thrown out of the party, try to get back in and claim that it was perfectly fine because the front door was unlocked.

We run things a little tighter than most people would probably expect given how lax other sites are. Fark is a website though, not a government. I am very much anti-censorship in the real world, but in my own house things are different. Anyone who comes to a party at my place who causes trouble gets shown the door. Anyone who wants to argue that Ron Paul is awesome or that Ralph Nader is great can keep right on arguing that, or any other conservative or liberal ideology they might believe - provided that they really do believe it. We censor, but there is no political motivation behind it. The goal is to allow everyone to have as much fun as possible, and when necessary remove people from the house party who are preventing that from happening.

You'll note that regarding political discussions I said "provided that they really do believe it." How do we know? We don't. We're guessing. And we're not afraid to be wrong because of our next discussion topic...

Our moderating mantra: anything can be undone.
This isn't the real world, we're not sending people to jail or executing them. It's a discussion board. In the event that our moderators can't decide if someone's done something wrong or not, we tell them to pull the trigger anyhow. We'll sort it out during internal discussion and fix it during the review process when necessary. When we're wrong we apologize. The assumption that mistakes will be made is built-in to our strategy.

Our goal: identify troublemakers and remove them from the party
Some people just cause trouble. Some intentionally, some unintentionally. Our entire moderating system is built around identifying people who cause the most work for the mods and dispensing with them. We're not attempting to punish or rehabilitate repeat offenders. Luckily most of the time we can work with folks and get individual issues sorted out quickly via the Farkback form.

Our objective in moderating is the main cause of the misconception that timeouts and bans are handed out inconsistently. People assume that a given infraction has a given penalty no matter how many times you commit it. In the real world, this is more or less how it works. On Fark, the bans and timeouts are assessed on a sliding scale. Repeat infractions for the same thing, even minor ones, earn longer and longer timeouts. Significantly longer timeouts. In the event that someone continues to do the same thing over and over again, eventually the call is made to issue an open-ended ban. There's a series of drop-down boxes on our end to ensure that the sliding scale is consist. An infraction is committed, the mod looks in the individual's history to see if it has happened before, if so, then the next higher penalty level is assessed. This stuff is already hardcoded into the system.

The amount of time that passes between infractions is taken into account as well. Anyone can accidentally threadjack, for example. People go online drunk and do stupid stuff. It happens. If it's a one-off thing, the moderators generally don't worry about it. If it's a frequent thing, such as multiple infractions in the space of days, steps are taken to remove that person from the community. We also take into account how long ago the last infraction was. Fark's been around for almost 10 years now. We have several community members that were constantly being banned from Fark five years ago, but not today. Your outlook on life when you're 20 is vastly different from where you end up at 25. And so on.

We work under the assumption that in the larger world of the Internet, there is a certain small percentage of people who exist solely to sow chaos and disorder, either intentionally or unintentionally. It doesn't take many individuals like this to take down an entire community. Some of you have probably witnessed this firsthand on other sites. Part of the reason that Fark's community works so well is that we take steps to remove these people from it.

Along these lines, the general TotalFark community appears to have two veins of thought on moderating. One segment is happy with how things are currently, the other segment wants to be recognized as consenting adults and generally left alone.

My personal sentiments lie with the consenting adults crowd, but the problem with leaving things completely alone is they tend to drift toward the darker side regardless of people's best intentions. Some have suggested that we create a darker section of Fark and just leave it alone altogether (with warnings when you were about to cross over). I personally have no problem with something like that existing - elsewhere. For example, I don't mind going to the occasional strip club but I don't want to run or own one. Same goes for that kind of community, I have no problem with it existing per se somewhere out there on the Internet, but there are some not-so-good ramifications of it existing inside Fark that I'd rather avoid. So for the consenting adults crowd, I get it, but we can't do it.

I'll be hanging out in the thread for a bit but I'm doing 100 other things atm so some responses may be slow.
· · ·

Ads on TotalFark - TFDiscussion (reposted from 2008-08-13)
Posted by Drew at 2008-08-13 11:29:44 AM (1074 comments) | Permalink

There's a change coming up, and we wanted to give you guys heads-up before we just launch it - ads on TotalFark.

I'm not even going to try to paint this as some kind of advantage. The problem is, Fark is 100% self-funded and run off of zero venture capital. There's no huge ass office, no launch parties where we expense thousands of dollars on strippers and blow, etc and so on (although I wouldn't mind the latter now that I think about it). Unlike pretty much every other major website you've ever heard of, we have to make moves to keep the bills paid. Luckily, the greater draw of TotalFark is access to all submissions, seeing Photoshop / AudioEdit / etc. contests first, and generally to get to the good stuff faster. Not to mention belonging to a small, self-selecting community of Internet cool people. At the end of the day, most TFers likely block ads anyway. Which is fine by me, have at it. It'd help if people didn't block ads but whatever, I know how things work. I'm not much of a fan of them either, see my first point though. Rinse, repeat. Wipe hands on pants.

These days, the deals we work incorporate all of Fark, which includes TotalFark. We realize this isn't going to be popular with some TFers - previously there were no ads, and now there will be some. In discussing this whole situation internally, we realized that TotalFark could be made more valuable. Here's what we came up with:

- Beta access to new Fark features - and there are quite a few coming. You get to see and use the shiny new toys first before we give them to the great unwashed masses.

- Yo­u[nospam-﹫-backwards]kra­fart­lu*com email address for 6 month (and greater) subscriptions (and the email address doesn't expire once your TotalFark does, you get it for life)

- One possible idea is doing a once a year TF-only convention. The details are still sketchy right now but it seems it would work.

If you have any other good ideas, email me and let me know what they are. These may not be the most awesome ideas ever but we can't send naked pics of Bea Arthur out to everyone after all.
· · ·

Politics and political bias on Fark. EVERYBODY PANIC. No not really
Posted by Drew at 2008-07-29 12:41:33 PM, edited 2008-07-29 12:46:11 PM (159 comments) | Permalink

Folks who submit articles to Fark may have noticed that about a month ago we added a politics bias dropdown for politics submissions. I've said for years that Fark is a middle of the road make-fun-of-everyone website, but there wasn't any way to demonstrate the accuracy of that statement. I'm not the only one picking links after all, however the other guys share the same sensibilities and general dislike for career politicians that I do.

Political bias flagging has been running for about a month now. Generally people have been submitting political links with the bias correctly flagged, when this isn't the case we've been changing them on the admin side of things.

The bias refers to the tagline, not the actual article. We may have a commie tagline making fun of a fascist article (or vice versa), and given that the average Fark visitor clicks on 2 or 3 links we can assume that most people just read the taglines. Just like regular news outlets where most people read only the headlines. It's pretty normal.

Our system represents Commie links as -1, Neutral as 0, and Fascist as +1. By summing the bias values across all links, we get a total equal to the difference in number of links posted with a particular slant. For example on 7/28 the Sum is 7, meaning 7 more Fascist links were posted that day than Commie links.

Here are the individual results for the past 25 days (apologies for bad formatting, I'm lazy)

# of Greenlit Links / Date / SumOfPoliticalBias
185 7/29/2008 1
188 7/28/2008 7
157 7/27/2008 4
185 7/26/2008 -3
225 7/25/2008 -4
229 7/24/2008 0
240 7/23/2008 -1
145 7/22/2008 -1
220 7/21/2008 3
131 7/20/2008 -1
128 7/19/2008 1
207 7/18/2008 4
195 7/17/2008 5
223 7/16/2008 3
247 7/15/2008 -7
254 7/14/2008 -2
127 7/13/2008 -3
113 7/12/2008 0
244 7/11/2008 -1
243 7/10/2008 -7
232 7/9/2008 -9
257 7/8/2008 1
231 7/7/2008 -6
168 7/6/2008 -2
133 7/5/2008 -2

Totals
4912 -20

The total indicates we're about 20 Fascist links behind perfect balance over the last 25 days, which ain't bad considering that's less than 1 link per day.

Luckily on Fark it's pretty easy to switch the bias of any submitted political link. For example: [Hero] Bush submits plan to solve Social Security woes. This link would be flagged Fascist, +1. However if we change the Hero tag to [Dumbass], the bias flips the other direction to Commie, -1. Preferably we'd like to attach a better joke to a tagline than just flipping the tag, but in a pinch it does the trick.

Sometime in the next few days we're going to add a running tally on the site so everyone can see where we're at on the spectrum. We're still working out the details as to what this will look like and where it will live, the Politics tab is the obvious choice. Sometimes the overall site bias will change depending on what's going on in the news. Last week, Obama received massive media coverage on his World Tour. On the other hand, Bush hasn't received much in the way of positive coverage in months. Yesterday we were at +7 bias for whatever reason. Many factors will skew the ratios a bit, however we'll keep an eye on them and do our best to approach zero over time. Because my personal political bias is that professional politicians are motivated mainly by their own personal gain.

PS - I'm not the most prolific blogger, but I'll occasionally put something random up on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DrewCurtis. With insightful analysis of all sorts of things, such as how many cougars are at the county fair and whether or not the street value of a tanker truck full of ink is more than a billion dollars. It'll probably make you dumber for reading it but it's funny once in awhile.
· · ·

Drew interviews Battlestar Galactica's Ron Moore
Posted by Drew at 2008-03-18 9:09:12 AM, edited 2008-03-18 1:29:45 PM (205 comments) | Permalink

I don't watch a lot of TV. Hardly any in fact. Mainly because I don't have a lot of spare time. I tend to pass on shows that most people like because they're not great.

I follow very few shows, and Battlestar Galactica is one of them. Its fourth and final season starts on April 4th.

The original BSG was a campy sci-fi show from the late 70s described as a wagon train in space. 12 human planetary colonies are destroyed in an attack by robots (cylons), forcing the survivors head off into space in search of a mythical 13th colony called Earth. Some (most) of the plot elements were highly questionable. For example, in the pilot the survivors decide to go gambling on a vegas-like planet complete with lounge-singing alien women who have too many eyes/lips/ears/etc but still only two boobs.

I loved the show as a kid but like most old sci-fi it doesn't stand up to the test of time. And by not stand up I mean it blew ass.

There was a companion series called Galactical 1980 that tried to address Galactica's arrival at Earth, but it was just more nonsense. There were flying motorcycles, disputes with ranchers in California, and time travel adventures to fight Hitler. I didn't make any of that up.

20 years passed.

I'm not sure when it started but at some point Hollywood realized all you had to do to garner an instant audience was to resurrect an old TV show or movie and "re-imagine" it. This led to a flood of remakes that still continues to this day, and some even stranger derivatives such as Hasbro landing a four-movie deal based on its board games.

It was bound to happen that a questionable show would be remade into something better. Enter Ron Moore.

Rather than attempting to sound like an expert on material I just now looked up on Wikipedia, here's what I know about Ron Moore without doing any research. His credits include:
Star Trek: TNG - didn't watch much of this
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 - didn't watch much of this either
Some other stuff - didn't watch any of it
Carnivale on HBO - pretty freakin good although the plot started to drag when it got popular, which I suspect was not a coincidence. (Actually I did finally look this up, the plot started to drag right around the time Moore left the show, probably not a coincidence either).

Most of what I know about Moore stems from my friend and Fark Mod Emeritus Wil Wheaton who worked with him on multiple occasions and who once told me (paraphrased) "Ron wrote all the good episodes of Star Trek". Of which there were apparently many, regardless of the fact that Ashley Judd remained clothed in her episode. I don't think Moore had anything to do with this, however.

Moore decided to strip out all the dumb stuff from the 70s version of BSG and remake it into a much darker, dystopian vision. Without going into a long description of how it's different, I can sum up thusly: comparing old BSG to new BSG is like comparing Gilligan's Island to Lost. Although you have to also pretend that Lost got better as it went on, because BSG certainly did. Lost, not so much. It's plot resembles its name.

The reason BSG is good is simple: Moore decided to make a show that was a drama first, sci-fi second. Emphasis was placed on character development, not special effects. This is probably why the show works for me, I take a dim view of science fiction shows. I come into a new scifi show assuming they'll rely too heavily on crappy ubiquitous special effects, and 99% of the time that's exactly what happens. Not so with BSG.

BSG challenges viewers to consider what they would do in a similar situation. For example, say you're against torture, something not many people are in favor of outside of the current administration. What about torturing a machine that looked human? What if it was capable of feeling pain, even severe pain? What level of abuse would be profoundly disturbing? And finally, what if this machine belonged to a group responsible for the recent murder of your entire family, all your friends, and for that matter everyone you ever met?

To give you an idea of how far this show can spin your moral compass, during Season 3 I actually caught myself at one point rooting for a character to commit genocide. BSG uses its science fiction setting to highlight the other side of issues you previously thought were settled in your own mind. It does so just enough without becoming preachy or belaboring the point. And it will never tell you which side of the argument is right or not. In BSG, oftentimes characters when make the right choices it turns out to be the wrong decision.

A few months back, someone from the sci-fi channel sent me an updated image tag for our database. I mentioned to them offhand that I was a fan of BSG and wouldn't mind helping with the Season 4 launch. They asked what I wanted to do, I randomly said "interview Ron Moore." One thing led to another, and it actually happened.

I recently had a chance to catch up with Moore, who was kind enough to oblige an interview.

-----

Drew Curtis: Thanks for agreeing to do this. I appreciate it.

Ron Moore: Sure.

Drew Curtis: Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm actually a pretty big fan of the show and that's saying something because I pretty much hate about 99.9% of all TV out there.

Ron Moore: (laughing)

Drew Curtis: I just don't have enough time to waste on it honestly. Luckily my wife does so I can kind of watch over her shoulder and she'll check out pretty much anything. Me, I'm a little pickier. There's only about two shows I'll watch. Battlestar Galactica is one of them. I've been enjoying it since the beginning.

First question for you - what's your favorite show on TV right now?

Ron Moore: That's a good question. I don't watch a lot of TV either in terms of fiction programming. I tend to watch a lot of news and political coverage, so I watch Charlie Rose a lot, and I watch Situation Room on CNN obsessively. Probably the thing I watch more than anything else are tapes of Seinfeld.

Drew Curtis: (laughing) No kidding?

Ron Moore: Yeah, I have four episodes of Seinfeld on my Tivo at any given time and every night I sit down to watch a couple more.

Drew Curtis: my wife has our Tivo looking for Scrubs, that thing's getting like 20 episodes a day.

Ron Moore: Yeah, you just pile them up. I also watch Project Runway, and Top Chef, that's the only reality programming I watch. I'm watching Breaking Bad, that's probably my favorite series right now. I'm really impressed with that show.

Drew Curtis: Since I run a news and entertainment site, a lot of the stuff that we're using is being used as material for the Daily Show and whatnot. I loved the Daily Show but now I can't watch it. Not because it's bad, but because I've heard all the punch lines already by the time the shows air. Is that why you don't watch much in the way of fiction programming?

Ron Moore: Yeah, it's kind of distracting. As much as I like Breaking Bad, there's a part of my brain that's looking at it going "Okay, well that's interesting. I wonder how many sets they have here and that's the guest star and now what's the act break going to be...?"

Drew Curtis: Have you read any of the fan sites for BSG at all?

Ron Moore: A few, but nothing recent. I've traveled to the Battlestar wiki periodically. I've surfed in and out of other sites over time, but I generally tend to not to. When the show is on the air I'll occasionally surf through maybe four or five message board sites to see what reaction is to last night's episode. That kind of a thing.

Drew Curtis: How was it generally received? We've noticed on Fark that if people hate something they'll talk about it all day long, and if they like something they generally don't speak up.

Ron Moore: Yeah, that's pretty much par for the course.

Drew Curtis: Keeps you honest though.

Ron Moore: I'll read a comment like "This is the best episode ever in the series" and I go "Okay, next." The ones that start off with "I hate this episode so much, it betrays everything that is Battlestar Galactica...," then I sit there and read the whole thing.

Drew Curtis: Along those same lines, have you read much online of what people think Season 4 is going to be about?

Ron Moore: I've seen some of it. It's interesting to see what the speculation is and what the rumor mill is saying. I usually try to find out if actual insider information is working its way out there. There are some things that do end up out on the internet, but fortunately they're usually buried with so much bad information that it's not giving anything.

Drew Curtis: Have you ever seen any theories by people who don't know any insider information but yet still got it right?

Ron Moore: Not for the 4th Season - but I can recall in previous years where there were people that were clearly just speculating said "Well, I think it should be this or that, or I hope they do this" and I'd think "Wow, nailed it."

Drew Curtis: I remember reading an interview with J.M.S from Babylon 5 where he was talking about how he was at some kind of a convention and somebody walked up, told him exactly how the five year arc of Babylon 5 was going to end and then just walked off. And (he) absolutely nailed it. J.M.S wrote that he was floored. That would be a little freaky, I'd think. But I guess it's that whole infinite monkeys / infinite typewriters deal. Given enough people and enough time somebody's bound to get it right.

Ron Moore: Absolutely. And we're not curing cancer here, there are certain things that we're obviously not going to do. If you're smart and you're really in the show there's probably some things you can figure out in advance.

Drew Curtis: Along those lines, is there a refresher episode online that people who haven't watched the previous three seasons can check out? I know about the one on Sci-Fi.com, but as a test I had my brother in law who doesn't watch BSG go check it out. It just confused the living hell out of him.

Ron Moore: Which one did he watch, the Battlestar in 8 Minutes thing? That one's not really one for anybody to catch up on the show as much as it is for amusing people who are already familiar with it.

Drew Curtis: That was it. For what it's worth, I laughed.

Ron Moore: As far as summaries go, there is a half hour refresher David Eick and I did but I don't think that one's out yet. I think they're going to broadcast that first, and then it will be online (here). So there's a true catch up show coming soon. I think they're also going to do a marathon on Sci-Fi leading up to the fourth season premiere.

Drew Curtis: From watching some of the earlier shows, one of the things I noticed was that the younger actors would really bring their A-game whenever they were in a scene with Olmos or McDonnell. Which of the young actors has progressed the most in their craft over the course of the series in your opinion?

Ron Moore: I'm not sure if I could pick out any of them in particular. They have all matured and changed as performers. Tricia Helfer was a model before the show and hadn't done much acting at all, now she plays multiple characters in the series. Katee Sackhoff had done one series and a couple of feature things previous to BSG, and the curve her chops is remarkable too.

Eddie and Mary really set the bar high from the very beginning with the ensemble. They're like mom and dad, they lead the ensemble. They're true professionals, Oscar-caliber actors. Every member of the cast always lifted themselves when challenged by Eddie and Mary.

Drew Curtis: Regarding writing and plot lines, I've noticed that I've seen a couple websites debating whether or not you guys had an overall vision for where the show was going to finish plot-wise at the end of Season 4. Did you have some idea of where you were taking this series from the very beginning or did it evolve over time, and if so, how much?

Ron Moore: It certainly evolved over time. When the series started I didn't know where I was going to be by the end. I decided to worry about that later, and to try to just take 10 episodes at a time. I'd finish those then starting working on the direction of the next 10 shows, and so on.

As we got into mid-way through Season 3, I started to really feel that the 4th Season should be the last year. By the time we got to the end of the 3rd Season, I definitely felt like "Okay, next year's it. We're in the third act of the story, we should end the show while we're strong."

Going into the 4th Season, we had various meetings with the writing staff, big sort of conclaves where we said "Okay, what is the end of the series? Let's really break it down and talk about it." We had 3 or 4 of those kind of gatherings where we reevaluated what we wanted to do, tore it apart, put it back together again, and kept refining exactly what the shape of the 4th Season was going to be. To answer your question, all of this year we've had an idea of where we're going and how it's going to end. We really didn't start focusing on the end of the series until it was time.

Drew Curtis: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.

Ron Moore: Absolutely. Thank you.
· · ·

Why would Cuba annouce Castro's resignation at 3am? I'll tell you why
Posted by Drew at 2008-02-19 3:11:30 PM (513 comments) | Permalink

Just a quick hit today. I'm damn near hallucinating. Chance decided to get up just after midnight and partied til about 3am. You can't do anything to convince an 18 month old it's time for bed when he wants to play.

Since I happened to be up so late, I did catch the Castro resignation as it happened. Around 3am EST this morning Cuba announced that Castro was stepping down and they'd be "holding elections" (or whatever they're calling their sham electoral process) sometime this weekend.

I find the timing completely bizarre. Unless the government spokes-agency people had toddlers running around their houses and felt like getting some work done, there's no good reason why the announcement couldn't have waited until the morning. Was Castro up at 3am thinking to himself "damn this job sucks, I really should retire"? Not likely.

The only valid reason to make an announcement like that at 3am was that the government was in a hurry. Something happened in the middle of the night to make them move up the timetable.

I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that Castro is dead.

The Cuban government is getting their house in order before announcing it. They'll "elect" his brother Raoul as Supreme King Hand of God of Cuba or whatever they call it. Then next week they'll announce that Castro suddenly died, peacefully and in a way in no way related to his colon.

If I'm wrong, so it goes. I am also going to go take a nap now
· · ·

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes
Posted by Drew at 2008-02-07 2:14:37 PM (141 comments) | Permalink

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes. It's strange yet cool to have so many people wishing you happy birthday, just wanted you all to know it didn't go unappreciated.

Read a few questions in the thread, here are a few answers.

Yes, Fark's system message thingee wishes me a Happy Birthday on my Birthday too. That's how I usually find out.

I'm 35, which is cool because now I can run for president any anything I say about business sounds legitimate. As opposed to when you're twenty-whatever, where anything that comes out of your mouth is automatically suspect because you're not 30.

No plans to do anything super-awesome tonight. I've got a soccer game later, that's about it.

Thanks for all the BIE today btw.
· · ·

On Dan Brown, Heath Ledger, and Britney Spears' cooter
Posted by Drew at 2008-01-24 12:45:38 PM (139 comments) | Permalink

Dan Brown at the London Free Press wrote a review of my book today. He gets it.

Mr. Brown says he was surprised to find out I'm a news purist. Well not exactly. I like my news to be news, I like my crap to be crap. I don't like them mixed together, kind of in the same way that I don't like seeing Disney characters fight it out in a UFC match. Actually that might be pretty cool. But I especially don't like crap masquerading as news. Maybe that qualifies me as a purist, I don't know.

For example, the other day the lead story on CNN: Heath Ledger died - huge picture of Heath, paragraph of text below it, 72 pt font and flashing lights. Second story: Thompson drops out of the GOP race - one line of text. Which of these two events is more important in the grand scheme of things? In the long run probably neither of them, but as for right now, it's pretty obvious.

Here's why CNN bugs me so much: CNN was news when I was a kid. When the first Gulf War broke out the entire country was riveted to CNN's up-to-the-minute reporting. It was amazing, the first time a network was actually broadcasting a war live as it happened. I want CNN to be news again like they used to be. But it's kind of like an abusive spouse, you keep going back because they say they're sorry and they'll run real news now, then they hit you over the head with a breaking Britney Spears flashed her cooter update. Eventually you realize they're never going to stop abusing you.

CNN needs to make a call. Are they "The Most Trusted Name in News"? Or "It's Not News It's CNN"? CNN claims they want to be a news leader, yet last night Anderson Cooper (who I have great respect for, which is why this kills me) spent a five minute segment on the Is Bigfoot on Mars non-story. Fox News already made the call, kinda obvious which direction they went. Not particularly good for news but great for entertainment value, if for no other reason than waiting for Shep to talk about JLo and blowjobs or other amusing random incidents.

Anyhow, this gives me an opportunity to address one criticism of the book - that I'm biting the hand that feeds me by attacking not-news. Not so. I'm not attacking its existence, I'm attacking its placement. I like knowing what the hell is going on in the world. When I want real news, I don't like having to sift through the crap to find a gem of real news. I want it straight, direct, and informative. Then when I feel like goofing off, I'll go read all about guys blowing up their houses with bug foggers and such.

Brown, by the way, has a great conclusion on where Mass Media should be going with news. I think he's dead on, it's better than my book's conclusion. It's a great example of how it takes someone inside the industry to come up with a good idea how to fix the industry. I'm just a consumer at the end of the day.

P.S. I also particularly liked ABC News' "Could there be a bomb under your house?" article today. Everyone be sure to panic.
· · ·


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