Entertainment SOI Blog Sports

The NFL Is Not the Corporate Behemoth You Think It Is

On a recent Freakonomics podcast, Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, pointed out that the NFL generates revenues of about 14-15 Billion dollars a year. And that sounds like a lot and to be sure the NFL is a cultural force in America. But when you compare it to other companies that have similar revenues, it’s just not that big. Matheson says that a business with similar revenue is the paint company Sherwin-Williams. “So the typical American buys as much paint from Sherwin-Williams as it does by buying N.F.L. products from the largest league in the world.”

The Freakonomics podcast is currently doing a series on sports that’s worth checking out.

And don’t forget the NFL operates with a special allowance that allows it’s owners to collude with one another, exempting it from corporate monopoly laws. Not to mention that up until 2015, the NFL operated as a non-profit 501c (although the individual teams do pay taxes on their revenue).

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Star Wars Viewing Order

aitoff / Pixabay
I’ve always been a Star Wars fan, but not necessarily a hard core fanatic (i.e. I don’t keep up with everything Star Wars, mainly just the theatrical releases). I have the benefit of having experienced it from the beginning from the first theatrical release in 1977 when I was 11. I enjoy the new films and generally look forward to what Disney has in store for the franchise.

Now with eight episodes (currently early 2018) and a ancillary story (“Rogue One,” with soon to be “Solo”), there seems to be some debate as to what order the theatrical films should be viewed. I found this article on Star Wars Day regarding this.

Granted, as I stated above, I am not a “hard core” SW fan, and would probably lose any argument against said hard core fan, but found the idea intriguing none the less. I liked The Machete Order most of all with the one adjustment by the article’s author (as he calls it The New Order). He adds the ancillary film, Rouge One to the top of the list to start which I thought has a great idea.

Which is this:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

If you’re not up on this debate, you’ll notice that Episode One was completely dropped. I was not really overwhelmed by Episode One when it first came out and my very first remark after the film to the people I went to see it with was, “I’m glad George Lucas doesn’t take himself too seriously.” While I was glad to see the franchise being renewed (at least for film), I found it to be a bit campy to say the least. I didn’t even see the next two episodes in the theater, waiting instead to watch it on DVD. So, I found the reasoning behind dropping this one altogether compelling.

At any rate, you’ll have to read the article to see all the reasons behind this order. I also found another article by definite hard core fans that had other interesting takes. It even had some good reasons not to skip Episode One, but didn’t really convince me. It also goes into the whole discussion of the “enhanced” versions, which I’ve written about on this blog here.

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Copyright Law Weirdness

I’m a big proponent of limited copyright law. I think copyright should have a limited time limit, after which time the work or IP falls into the public domain to be used freely. Currently copyright seems to go on forever. As ranted about by CGP Grey here.

But recently, I discovered that terrestrial or over the air broadcasters only paid the song writers and publishers for playing recorded music. The ones performing the song don’t get anything when their record is played. A loophole the broadcasters have consistently lobbied for.

For instance:
“When you hear Counting Crows’ recording of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on the radio in the US, Joni Mitchell – the composer of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ – is compensated through BMI. But Counting Crows receive nothing for this performance.”

More can be found in this article:
Public Performance Right for Sound Recordings

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Billiard Balls were made of Ivory up until the 1950s

According to this excellent 99% Invisible podcast, billiard balls were made of ivory tusk up until they found a suitable replacement in the 1950s. Think it’s easy to make a billiard ball, check out this video of the process.

Polygoon – Hoe biljartballen worden gemaakt from KNBB – Biljart TV on Vimeo.

Entertainment Everyday Things Media Science SOI Blog

The Vast Emptiness of Outerspace

While browsing to the page of the scale of the universe (previous post) I noticed a related Google search for that page was “if the moon was a pixel.” Of course I had to investigate and I was lead to this familiar interactive display of how empty space really is. This reminded me of a page I posted about a few years ago about the vast emptiness of inner space, that if we made a scale model of an atom where a neutron was only a pixel how far would we need to put the nucleus away from it. Originally the idea was that it would be a few miles away, but seems it wasn’t that easy to display, you can read the author, Dave Grossman’s full explanation here. It appears the Dave created a similar page about the solar system using the same concept, but I think Josh Worth’s work to be much nicer design and much more entertaining. Check it out!

note: even more amazing is the little button in the right hand corner that simulates the moving at the speed of light, it’s seems agonizingly slow!


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Star Wars Despecialized

Here’s a project where Star Wars fans have taken it upon themselves to bring back the original Star Wars movie experience from 1977. I admit to being a bit of a purist, but these guys have gone so far as to add back in odd light flashes that most likely were a mistake and even the color of the clouds behind the 20th Century Fox logo at the beginning. I would align myself to the camp that some of the changes made in the special edition re-release went way too far, especially the Jabba the Hut scene, which I thought looked awful. Maybe now that Disney controls this franchise they may be more agreeable to release an unaltered, original version of the film. For now you can find more info about the “restored” version here.

UPDATE: A new version in 4K is currently in the works, info here. Although the version above is created from various DVD and Laserdisc sources, this one claims to be from an original 35mm print.

In fact, there already is a version that was created from an original theatrical 35mm print called the Silver Screen version. I’ve embedded it below from




Art Entertainment Media Technology

Take the Elevator to Heaven… or Hell.

New York City’s “The Standard” hotel has placed a video art installation in their elevators created by Marco Brambilla. The montage of over 400 video clips rises through stylized scenes from hell to heaven going up or vice versa going down.

Civilization by Marco Brambilla from CRUSH on Vimeo.

High quality version here:

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Star Wars Retold

What if someone who had only seen bits and pieces of the Star Wars trilogy was asked to describe the plot? Now you know.

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn’t seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

Entertainment Media

Planet of the Apes as a Twilight Zone Episode

Planet of the Apes “re-imagined” as an episode of The Twilight Zone. Why? Both were written by Rod Serling!

Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, also co-wrote the screenplay for Planet of the Apes. Which is why the movie plays like a two-hour episode of the show, complete with social commentary and shock ending.

Art Entertainment Internet Media Technology

Animator vs. animation

You don’t have to be a flash programmer to appreciate this fantastic animation.
This was done by Alan Becker, a (then) 16 year old and it took him three months to complete.

Animator vs. Animation by *alanbecker on deviantART