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Friday, December 27, 2013

Eliot's Year in Review

This is the only reference to Ms. Cyrus in this article.
But, as they say: made you look!
2013 - cliché end of year list - things I care about. Winning combination, or whining combination? Let's find out!

Ah, 2013. You are ending, and so much has happened. Maybe it's because I don't have children, but while everyone else seems to lament how much time has passed so quickly, I look back and think "I did all that?!" Seriously, each day seems like two for me, and when I look back on the year, a lot of what happened seems like more than a year ago.

Congratulations, 20-something
nerd boys. The mothers of your
children await you.
What, then, do I remember (and want to remember) from 2013? Well, 2013 seems like it was "the year everyone decided they gave a crap about Doctor Who." That's not to say that Doctor Who's 2005 return wasn't a big deal, or that there wasn't good reason for more people to pay attention. But where were all these folks when I secretly discovered the Doctor, my Doctor, on PBS all those years ago? With the horrible make-up and practical effects, the impossibly long scarf, and the snarky, holier than thou chastising of various folks that could only be found on Sunday mornings when the only other things on were church sermons, Davy and Goliath, Felix the Cat, Hercules, and some show called Get Smart, which my youthful brain assumed was some kind of self-help show, so I refused to even let the TV go to that station. Oh yeah, most of you weren't born yet.

Still, I was with the Doctor before most folks knew who he was. That isn't to say that the new enthusiasm is undesirable. And let's face it; it's decidedly more feminine. Welcome, all you 20-something female sci-fi fans. Apparently I'm too old to date any of you, but maybe you can convince your aunts that Doctor Who is cool.

We might have been better off if
this room looked like this
the whole year.
This was also the year of politics going nut-balls, and while I'm the first to take the devil's advocate position on most things, this definitely seems like the year the Republican Congressional minority went crazy, and the Democratic majority almost let them. It's not like I really want to remember this, but I feel like we're obliged to, because when has a US political body been deemed less able to do their job? Never? And the other branches aren't getting off so easily, either. I'm looking at you, "couldn't get a web site up in a country that invented them," and you "overturned the Voting Rights Act." I guess, though, this was also the concrete beginning of "who cares where your genitals go?", so we have that to look forward to.

Why haven't I eaten you?!
Food has had some interesting things happen. Vitamins are apparently useless, may even hurt you; while this guy says you don't need regular food all of the time (I'm still awaiting my batch). Did you know you can also print food? Yep, that's happening. Then there's the Cronut, which I have yet to try; the mini cupcake craze seems to have lost some of its zing; I also haven't tried a ramen burger, although I'm amazed I didn't think of it myself (I'm always swapping out starches for each other, just to see what happens. Udon noodle spaghetti, anyone?). Food trucks abound in Los Angeles, and now it's apparently ok to make fun of people who take pictures of food, especially food they made (Oh really? You made some food? All by yourself? Well, yes, I certainly should see a photo of it. I'll just print it out and slap you with it while letting you know "my mother made fantastic meals like that three times a day for 30 years you twat!")

Then, there's Kickstarter and its copycats. Apparently "Kickstarter" is now a business plan. I should know, I'm actively working on at least three of those right now. Oh, and here's an "it's obvious, but so what, I'll tell you anyway" service announcement. You can destroy your life succeeding at Kickstarter.

This is perhaps the least truthful
image representing Bitcoin.
And let's not forget Bitcoin. Maybe you haven't heard of it, but if you're reading this, you probably have. Money is fake, it's entirely based on credit, and in the process of trying to figure out what Bitcoin actually is, I came to realize what money really is, and it's frightening. What's more, now every time I see a commercial for a credit card I realize: when I was a kid, only wealthy people had credit cards, because only they could afford the convenience of them. Now, it's like when pharmacy drugs started advertising; it's as though everyone can and should have a credit card. Why? To buy things you don't need with money you don't have? Don't get me wrong, if you need a car or can plan for a home, I get it. But isn't it about time we woke up and realized that credit enslaves us? Or, if you prefer, indentured servitudes us? Shame on you, Samuel L. Jackson.

I didn't say 3D printing
wouldn't be creepy.
I'm super excited about 3D printing, and 2013 has been for me the year of the 3D printer. I don't have one yet, but it's coming. And there are so many things you can print. Food (as mentioned above), stone, wood, metal, plastic (of course). How much longer before all that crap we buy from China comes instead from our living rooms? They have full color, recyclable (as in, when you're done with it, you melt it to make something else), so much more. Or guns. that was a big story this year. The only downside I can see so far is how long the printing takes. Mark my words, in ten years or so, a new industrial revolution will occur, and in 30, whatever passes for a car in 2043 will be printed for you at your local showroom. And people will tell their kids stories about something called a "toy store".

What's in the box? WHAT'S IN
THE BOX???!!!!
What's that up in the sky? It's drones. I have one, it works ok. The military has them, and they can shoot people (although only, so far, by order of human soldiers). Amazon is teasing using them for deliveries, and they shoot video all over the place. Can't wait to see what happens when the government lawmakers catch up with that bit of technical wizardry.

The cast of Duck Dynasty takes
a group photo.
Finally, let's have a look at TV. This is the year binge watching became a marketing plan. Netflix led the way with House of Cards. Then there was Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development, and a few others that didn't do so well.,, Apple's iTunes store, and others are also contributing to this phenomenon, by either releasing new series, or packaging old ones. Appointment television, beaten up by the DVR, is now on its death watch by everyone except those who are sports fans. Thankfully, the shows themselves are still being made, it remains to be seen for how long. Now a TV show's season can be around a dozen episodes, sometimes only six! As for online video? It's still not there yet. Sure, there are quality shows, and some even earn enough to pay their creators a decent living. But every time YouTube and the like try and go national, they seem to screw it up. Which is inevitable, in my view, because they fail to realize: just because you have a million views doesn't mean you have a million viewers. And even if you did, that's it. The rest of the country isn't interested, so be happy with what you have. In fact, TV has become even more like magazines. Whatever your demographic, you can find something out there targeted almost directly to you that your neighbor has never heard of. Sure, plenty of people know about Mad Men, but as many people haven't seen it as haven't seen Duck Dynasty. Which, in a way, is a good thing. Hopefully, eventually, every type of person will be represented in popular culture. Equally? Probably not. But potentially fairly, and in a way that fulfills the desires of the audience.

Make no mistake, then: 2013 has seen a lot of things change. I for one am interested to see how this all plays out next year.

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