Jul 17, 1995	Newspapers and magazines are busting my balls
Jan 15, 1996	Whomever pointed the BBC at RSS, cease and desist please
May 31, 1996	Re: American Sports (was:  Re: Stupid Sports Writer)
Jun 11, 1996	A modest proposal

Subject: Newspapers and magazines are busting my balls
From: mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: July 17, 1995

The other night I was doing a little offline newsreading when the phone rings.

"Hello I am Ms. telesalesperson,  calling on behalf of the Los Angeles Times.
We are currently..."

"Excuse me,  do you have an electronic version of the newspaper?"

"I'm sorry,  I'm calling to ask if you are interested in a free trial..."

"I hate to interrupt,  but I am interested in an electronic version of the
L.A. Times,  do you offer one?"


"Yes,  you know,  I would actually buy the sunday Times just for the chess
column,  but the whole thing comes in at about five pounds and it really seems
a little silly to piss away our children's forests in this manner,  don't you

"I'm sorry,  I don't understand you.  Are you interested in a free trial
subscription?  You are free to try the paper for two weeks and..."

"Listen to me.  I understand that our economy has hit the skids and you have to
keep repeating these things to me ad nauseaum,  but I am trying to tell you
something.  If you can sell an electronic version of the Times you can get
paid a lot more than $5/hour."

"I'm sorry,  I've never heard of an electronic(?) version of the newspaper."

"Look,  your paper is shit.  It does not cover futbol,  it does not cover
chess,  it gives political views more rancid than last year's butter.  Your
chess column,  however,  is very nice,  and if I could download it every week
I might even 'subscribe'."

"So I take it you are not interested in a free trial subscription?"

Rather than ask her what,  how,  and where else she took it,  I hung up and
logged on.

So I think that you don't need to complain about your newspapers and sports
magazines.  Forget them as they have forgotten you,  they are obsolete and
will soon be extinct.  As far as you're concerned,  they're already extinct.
You are now the reader of the greatest newspaper in the history of mankind.
And we don't even use paper.

So forget them.  Post something intelligent and well-written instead.  To
those of you that actually complain about the fact that you must get your news
via RSS...    well at least your pattern-recognition hardware functions
to first order.  It is only a matter of working on those more abstract layers.

Cable people raping you with extort-per-view?  Local cable providers tell ya
that there is no interest in Prime Deportiva while feeding ya 3 shopping
channels?  Buy a descrambler box.  Or better yet,  watch as little TV as
possible.  Read a good book,  read some good posts,  write some good posts (I
know I ask a lot).  Go watch a game at a stadium.  Go play at the park.  Buy a
newspaper only if it makes an effort to inform you (if you are in LA,  I can
honestly recommend La Opinion).  If doing this means that you need to learn a
"foreign" language,  remember,  most of the world is foreign,  no matter where
you are.

And please,  please stop posting articles that sound like you are complaining
about being born.  Here we are in the late 20th century and,  intellectually
speaking,  we are just coming out of the womb.  The next time you find
yourself typing a sentence like "Why do I have to find out about this through
rss" change it to "Of course it was all over rss well before xyz deigned to
print a vanilla version".

The day is not far when watching a futbol game is analogous to ftping a file,
and if the announcer is an incompetent fool you can flame him or simply listen
to a better one on another 'file'.  Don't beg the likes of ESPN and the LA
Times,  they are beneath you.

Subject: Re: Whomever pointed the BBC at RSS, cease and desist please
From: mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: Jan 15, 1996

hm@custard.bnsc.rl.ac.uk (Huw Morris) wrote:
>Ariel Mazzarelli wrote:
>> Why is television such a putrid medium? Could it be the fact that you
>> advertise garbage over and over again, and when the moment comes to deliver a
>> substantive comment, you repeat the same ad?

>Ariel, while I sympathise with your views on TV in general (and from what 
>I've seen, US TV is worse than most). But you're missing the target here
>wrt the BBC. Have a go at them about the endless repeats, the crappy sitcoms
>and new drama, the "internal market" and Birtspeak. Fortunately, there
>are no adverts on the BBC - it's paid for by a flat-rate licence fee.

I was referring to the fact that suddenly, in several (five? six? I lost
count) threads, some poster from the BBC repeated the same ad for a TV show
where they were going to use questions from email (and newsgroups I guess).
And that, my friend, is EXACTLY what ads for upcoming TV shows do.

Ok, BBC is not like that when it's on the air, and may in fact be better than
usual because of it (in general, if there's a chance at all that you'll get a
quality show on the tube, it's either futbol or public TV giving you
Beethoven's 6th symphony). But here, RSS is ours, not theirs, and they do not
have the right to just walk in here and start advertising an upcoming show on
every "relevant" thread. 

It's ironic, isn't it?  In a medium deluged with commercials, BBC acts as a
counterexample (putting the quality of their programming aside, putting the
notion that your public shillings would be better spent elsewhere aside, they
exclude commercials). Here on RSS, they are among the first TV broadcaster to
do this abomination. Fortunately they did indeed cease and desist.

Perhaps we should let the broadcasters know what constitutes proper or
improper advertisement of their shows. A single post per show is certainly
acceptable, and maybe we can raise that to, say, once in the preceding week to
let us know, and maybe once in the preceding month. Then, and this is key,
they better reply to followups. If all they see in this newsgroup is a blank
billboard, we need to let them know that they're wrong.

Remember when Bob Ley would post here? Maybe we discouraged him (although ESPN
is far more discouraging), but we did not flame him off in the way that this
recent BBC thread deserves; the reason was that Bob, along with a plug for an
upcoming telecast, would actually engage in dialogue about the situation.
Granted, he wasn't just another fan (he gets paid to be a fan of this or
that), but he was participating in the newsgroup activities in a manner more
consistent with the newsgroup than TV advertising.

Subject: Re: American Sports (was:  Re: Stupid Sports Writer)
From: mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: May 31, 1996

I just want to jump into a small portion of this thread, so I'll snip off
mercilessly the rest of the previous reply.

john@afterburn.com (John Bierwagen) wrote:
>"Cerebrally drained television addicts"?? My that's creative...I think it 
>only fair to point out that as far as intellectual complexity is concerned, 
>soccer can't hold a candle to American football. I suggest that any person 
>who disagrees should take a look at an NFL playbook some time. 

Come now, you would not hold a higher regard for someone that could recite 
two pages from a phone book than for someone that could write down

"subgroups of free groups are free"

and offer a proof on demand.

btw you are aware of the truth behind the man's words regarding television,
aren't you? It is a serious problem. Here on the net we're hoping that the
damage is not irreversible, but I can assure you, it is really disturbing to
see so many newbies hop exponentially on the Information Superhighway and 
demand commercials, bland language, talk-show polemics, and obeisance to the 
same defunct idols. What is the reason for their diminished sense of smell, 
that does not let them sense the putridness in the air? Television is quite 
high on that list, and the metaphor that gave rise to your indignation was in 
fact a bit on the creative side, and rather well on the mark.

Does it offend you that he implied that the phenomenom was more serious, more
virulent in the US? It shouldn't. For lots of reasons, TVs have been around
longer and more pervasively here than anywhere else. We will soon get to the
third generation of tv-heads: those that were raised by TV, because their
parents found that that was a very easy way to keep the kids quiet. What that
means is that we'll soon be getting children whose parents and grandparents
were raised in this manner; I worry that in these families, simple activities
like reading, eloquent speech, and critical thought will be completely gone.
If we can find among them those that can spot a sound syllogism from an
unsound one, we are doing well. What portion of the population does this refer
to? Hard to say, but it would not surprise me if it was well over half. When
it comes to TV, the rest of the world has about a 10+ year lead (i.e. they've
had it for 10+ less years).


PS: I like the "10+ less" phrase.

Subject: A modest proposal
From: mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: June 11, 1996

You are watching a futbol game on television.

There are no logos on the screen. Every 15 minutes, you are shown the score.

One commentator restricts his comment to mentioning the name of the player
with the ball. When the referee stops the action, this commentator announces
the type of infraction that the referee has sanctioned.

Another commentator analyzes the strategies being used by both teams, as well
as general cultural comments about the game, while the ball is not in play.
The first commentator may also participate in the analysis during this time.

Whenever a violent foul is committed, neither commentator praises the player
committing the foul, nor casts aspersions on the referee for having shown the
offender a yellow or red card.

When a confusing situation takes place on the field, both commentators refrain
from asserting an opinion about what took place until they have enough facts
together to make an informed opinion.

If we are watching a dreadful game, we are told that we are watching a
dreadful game.

If neither commentator has something interesting to say, then neither one says
anything, and the crowd at the stadium is allowed to give the background

If a team of executives is being paid millions of dollars to determine the
above parameters, they demonstrate at least the same level of expertise as
amateurs that simply donate their expertise for free. In particular, they
assert, in practice, that salaries serve a greater purpose for merit than for