Father on BBC interrupted by his children: an analysis

Ben Thompson (of the solid tech analysis blog Stratechery) has written a detailed breakdown of the most viral moment of the week: a father getting interrupted by his child while on live national television:

Here’s the deal with these TV spots: you don’t get paid a dime. Why, then, does the BBC, or CNN, or MSNBC, or all of the other channels have an endless array of experts on call willing to call-in from their home offices not just get guests, but also convince them to put on a suit-and-tie and arrange books just so? BECAUSE YOU’RE ON TV!

Here’s the deal: the male ego is both remarkably fragile and remarkably easy to satiate. Tell said ego he will be featured as an expert in front of a national or global audience and he will do whatever it takes — including 12 years of academia and wearing a suit at home—to ensure it is so.

The flipside of said ego-soothing, though, is a potential level of embarassment that is hard to fathom. In this case Kelly is fulfilling his self-selected destiny: he is appearing as an expert across the world on the BBC. But it’s not going well! His daughter has appeared, and while he certainly loves her, he must, MUST, keep up appearances. Thus the hand, and not the overt affection.

(via Rira)

Louis C.K. Defends Tracy Morgan

Slate has an interview with comedian Louis C.K., who took to Twitter recently to defend fellow comedian Tracy Morgan’s recent homophobic remarks. After much reflection, I have to side with C.K. on this one, based on the very limited information I have. C.K. himself routinely makes outrageous statements that provoke laughter from his audience (and me), so it did not surprise me to see him taking a stand for free speech on the comic stage.

The overarching question in this whole ordeal is: is there anything that is in such poor taste it should never be made a topic of comedy? C.K. thinks the answer is no, and I’m inclined to agree.

[Update: Ta-Nahesi Coates chimes in with a measured, even-handed take on C.K.’s defense. Coates does not agree with C.K. And he’s really convincing! (If you can’t tell, this is a topic I’m pretty torn about)]

Conan O’Brien’s Amazing Commencement Speech at Dartmouth

Conan O’Brien’s commencement address at Dartmouth College this year is a thing of beauty. Not only is it laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it also contains meaningful lessons from Conan’s (relatively) recent late night wars. Many of the topics that Conan discusses resonated with me deeply, such as the value of trying new things, ignoring the fear of failure, and understanding that even if our dreams change, they aren’t worse for it.

Highly recommended (via Sara):

Graduates, faculty, parents, relatives, undergraduates, and old people that just come to these things: Good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth Class of 2011. Today, you have achieved something special, something only 92 percent of Americans your age will ever know: a college diploma. That’s right, with your college diploma you now have a crushing advantage over 8 percent of the workforce. I’m talking about dropout losers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. Incidentally, speaking of Mr. Zuckerberg, only at Harvard would someone have to invent a massive social network just to talk with someone in the next room.

The Death Star Doesn’t Make Economic Sense

The Death Star is pretty badass until you pause to reflect on its practical and economic implications (via John Gruber):

Doesn’t the Empire take a huge economic loss from the lost productivity of an entire planet? They were presumably paying taxes and providing resources to the rest of the Empire. Presumably the loss of that planet’s output would have to be made up by increased output from other planets that were either slacking in productivity due to rebellion or threatening to rebel and withdraw from the Empire altogether. It doesn’t seem to make good economic sense.

The Problem With Theater Concessions

Dustin Rowles drops some wisdom on the current debate over the healthiness of theater food:

The problem with theater concessions is not entirely healthy vs. death-by-heart-rupture — it’s about offering something substantive. How many people running late end up at the theater looking to substitute a meal with popcorn only to walk out of the movie 2200 calories heavier and still hungry? Is that gravel-tasting Odwalla bar really going to satiate that hunger? Theater chains have to stop limiting their options to things I can buy at 25 percent the cost at a gas-station convenience store. I’m not looking for a meal meal — a lot of these theater chains already offer crappy personal pan pizzas and chicken fingers, if you’re willing to stand at the concession stand and wait for 20 minutes and then ask the guy sitting next to you to hold your shitty pizza while you take off your jacket. If I’m going to pay $14 for a snack and a beverage, it’d be nice to have the option of something I want to eat, not something I choose because there’s nothing better available.

What It’s Like To Let Down Humanity

Legendary Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings writes on what it’s like to lose to a machine (via Linda Holmes):

Indeed, playing against Watson turned out to be a lot like any other Jeopardy! game, though out of the corner of my eye I could see that the middle player had a plasma screen for a face. Watson has lots in common with a top-ranked human Jeopardy! player: It’s very smart, very fast, speaks in an uneven monotone, and has never known the touch of a woman. But unlike us, Watson cannot be intimidated.