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Clarissa Graffeo
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Follow-on to the Pete and Pete article, this one takes a look at the production of Clarissa Explains it All and has a brief interview with the creator.

As much as it spawned years of annoying people making jokes they thought were clever about my name, I really loved this show. Would be nice if we could have more TV for and starring girls like it.

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Cost of living keeps going up, wages for most of us stagnate or go down, while the large corporations are doing absolutely fine.

What this leaves out is that this is a key tool in corporate strategy to kill off smaller businesses and reduce/eliminate potential competitors. Only major corporations can accomplish economies of scale and outsourcing to push prices lower and lower. This means that as long as they can keep wages low (via lobbying against minimum wage regulations, union busting, etc.) they can price everyone smaller out of the market due to consumers' limited budgets. Take local bookstores vs. Amazon as an example: I and other people I know would love to support local bookstores but Amazon always has the lower price and for most of us those extra few bucks actually mean a lot; therefore, we end up going with Amazon and the other booksellers die out. This means not only more immediate market share for Amazon but limits the growth of potential competitors, allowing Amazon to then reduce quality of service while strong-arming publishers - because where else is everyone going to go?

Amazon is an easy example and came to mind due to constant piracy debates recently, but this has been an issue for much longer in home goods, groceries, clothing, etc. Essential goods are the biggest because people can't just choose to abstain from buying them entirely as they might with entertainment. Product quality and customer service are worse than they've ever been, but the offenders continue to do business because they've effectively locked up the market. Of course, this breaks the idea of self-regulating capitalism because customers no longer have purchasing choice as a weapon or defense against abusive/poorly performing companies. Voting with your wallet becomes either impossible or meaningless for most.

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Really interesting look at how The Adventures of Pete and Pete was able to come about due to Nickelodeon taking risks with new people and quirky ideas. Quite sad near the end when they discuss how the entertainment industry refuses to do that anymore; so the formerly "anti-Disney" Nickelodeon has become basically the same as their competitor.

I can totally understand wanting to broaden appeal to enlarge audience, and in some cases (see US superhero comics) it's needed. But you have to balance that with things that can make you stand out against your competition.

Maybe it's better now that these sorts of things can be done cheaply and with less restrictions online. Good cameras are affordable, lots of distribution possibilities, even Kickstarter to supplement funding. Still, then you're struggling with the discovery problem and might lose the big thing about those quirky Nick programs - the ability to reach a big chunk of a generation AND to introduce new/innovative stuff to people not exposed to cool things by virtue of where they live. We caught these shows due to watching other things on Nick, or channel flipping; online, too often you have to already know what you're looking for or be connected to folks 'in the know.'

tl;dr, things were so much better back in my day prematurely old fart angrypants

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I want to play this, but I think what I'm really looking forward to is the inevitably hilarious reactions and let's plays, hopefully from at least a few people who have no idea what to expect.

Someone should cover Minmay - "My Boyfriend is a Pigeon"

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Dwarf Fortress is one of those games that I think is awesome and fascinating but I am absolutely terrible at playing. Just could never seem to get a decent settlement going.

Maybe after I'm done with my Masters I'll take another run; should be interesting to see the new features from this update.

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May be useful for anyone who's bought this, or is planning on picking it up.

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SF author Diane Duane got her card skimmed, and could use some funds while she waits for the bank to straighten things out. If you've been thinking about picking up any of her stuff in ebook format, you might want to do it now. She's provided a 20% off coupon.
Whoopee, our bank account has been cleaned out... (*ETA Saturday, Jan 14: please see below for an update.*)

So I was expecting a payment into the joint account that Peter and I share, and logged into online banking to see if it had come in yet. And saw:

Available balance: 0.00

Uhh… No, not really possible. Something a little over 0.00, something a little under 0.00, sure. But this? No. Possibly a system hiccup of some kind. So I call the helpline and ask what’s going on.

And surprise! What do they find, but, between Tuesday and today, a number of transactions that aren’t mine. Road toll payments (when we don’t have a car: amusing). Movie tickets from a Dublin-area omniplex (when we haven’t left the house since last Friday: I’m still fighting with this sinus infection and haven’t been out a lot.) And then a transaction at a point-of-sale somewhere in Ireland that emptied out the account. (There wasn’t a vast amount in there right then… but it’s all gone now.)

W. T. F. My bank card has been skimmed.

It’s toast now (thrown in the fire a few minutes ago, a new one ordered over the phone). But so much for the bills that needed to be paid this week. 2012 had better start getting its act together, as this is not an auspicious beginning.

The bank will cover this expense when its fraud department has digested all the details. But meanwhile, the household is skint. So: if you feel inclined to spit in the eye of the nameless rogue(s) who’ve briefly ruined the domestic tranquility around here, I invite you you to go over to the Ebooks Direct store and buy something using the discount code DDGOTSKIMMED, which will give you 20% off whatever you buy.

If you feel inclined to share this around, it’d be appreciated.

(mutter) Miscreants.

(oh, sorry, forgot the URL for the store. (You can judge my mental state from that, I bet...)

ETA: Just very briefly, wanted to send everybody who's shared this, or responded to it, a most heartfelt THANK YOU. The response has been utterly astonishing, and the immediate problem has been well and truly handled. :)

I'll be putting up a much more comprehensive thank-you on my blog, and also here -- but just wanted to let everybody know quickly that things are now looking way up. I'll also keep people posted, as this continues unfolding, as regards how things go with our bank.

Once again, friends, _thanks so much. _

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