Weird corners of YouTube #37

Screw television. I mean, really: why do we need self-appointed ‘opinion leaders’ deciding what we the proletariat should see when we can cater to every last niche via our own labours?
Take, for example, the corner of YouTube I’m going to label “Amateur
choral arrangements of Bear McCreary’s version of Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.”

Example #1, Sac State Jazz singers:

Awesome. Example #2, Fife High School Jazz Choir:

Shame the audio recording is ropey, it’s a spectacular rendition.

Example #3, Vocal Velocity AKA Folsom High School Jazz Choir:

A bit heavy on the beatboxing and emoting for me, but there is room in this brave new world for all perspectives.

If you wonder what all this is referencing… well, you’d pretty much have to watch three seasons of Battlestar Galactica to experience the complete hairs-on-back-of-neck nature of its use at the end of season 3. Then you’d have to watch season 4 to find out how the song isn’t just in the frakkin’ ship, it’s woven through the whole damn series.

But for a taste, here’s actor Katee Sackhoff trying to remember how to play it with McCreary. That she almost can’t is pretty much what the story was about:


Great post by Genevieve Valentine over at io9, on the Jonny Lee Miller/Lucy Liu Sherlock Holmes update ‘Elementary’ for CBS. It’s very different to the BBC’s Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman update, and it would be wrong to regard it as a cheap knock-off. While I still don’t warm to Liu, Miller is outstanding and the show’s scripts, while patchy, had moments of brilliance. Long moments. Even entire shows.

I particularly liked the late-series episodes which were allowed to find their own languid pace. This isn’t an action-procedural show where everything has to happen quickly to squeeze in the next plot reversal before the ad break: it’s (mostly) more thoughtful.

Also check io9’s previous piece lamenting recent portrayals of Irene Adler. It predates Elementary’s unorthodox take on the character, but is worth a read for those of us who liked, you know, the book version.

Tumblr, blogging, and all that jazz

Where Tumblr Came From – Anil Dash

many of us who were familiar with blogs already saw tumblelogs as “just a simple blogging template”, similar to what we were already doing on Movable Type or WordPress at the time, rather than a fundamentally different medium.

Despite that myopia, there was a lot of momentum around simplified, media-rich blogging at that moment in history.

Just read the whole thing. Blogging: it’s not as simple as it seems, and history is littered with the corpses not just of dead blogs, but of dead blogging systems.

(– via everyone)

The Distributed Me

High time I noted here: I’m also blogging (again) in a few other places, notably:

  • StoryCog, mostly work/video/scicomms/public engagement stuff, and

  •, a revival of an old failed wiki site by a small group (yet to be fully revealed, and maaaaaybe taking applications) who really care about demonstrating science: the demos themselves, and the issues around them.

Meanwhile, I’ve cobbled together a hub of sorts at

The Police > News > Revolver

Terrifc article reproduced from Revolver circa 2000, interviewing The Police:

Copeland: You are absolutely correct. I remember when we did our first album, I only wrote these punk songs so we’d have something to play, then I realised, ‘Ah… lyrics…’

Summers: Stewart and I were jumping on the bandwagon. Totally insincere! But I wrote all of ‘Omegaman’. Can we talk about ‘Behind My Camel’ some more?

Revolver: Oh shut up. One World is the most ‘old-school’ Police song on the album.

Copeland: And it was my favourite song at the time because it did have that early Police vibe, where we jammed on one chord for hours.

Summers: Unfortunately, I never did find out what that one chord was.

Hilarious, fiery, oddly moving — the interview both traces and mirrors the arc of the band’s career. Also:

Sting: No, no, I’m a simple man. A simple man in my huge Tuscan villa, so piss off.

See also the thread at MeFi trying to work out whether it’s an April Fool or not. Consensus: it’s good enough that everyone’s going to claim it’s real anyway.

Everything’s moved

One of the disadvantages of being an old-time blogger is that I signed up, long ago, to the idea that good URLs remain stable. See, it must have been a long time ago: we still called them ‘URLs’.

Turns out, pretty much everyone reneged on that pact. Looking back through my archives, I’m stunned by how many links are broken. Usually, the linked-to article still exists, but the address has changed and there’s no redirect in place (or the redirect is itself broken).

Given how hard I’ve worked to maintain stable URLs for my sites — including, at one point, manually coding 400+ rewrite special-cases from a particularly crazy CMS-from-hell — I’m disappointed. You hear me, internet? I’m disappointed in you. All of you.