Top TED Talks

TED

You can find my updated Top TED Talks document here (updated 2012-03-22)

If you don’t know about TED talks, you’re missing out. TED is a conference held in California annually, where speakers from various fields such as psychology, music, management, entertainment and developing technologies are given up to 18 minutes to share ideas and knowledge with the audience. Tickets to the conference are pricey, but TED put every talk up on their website for anyone to view free.

Currently there are 1132 TED talks, and I found it a little hard to figure out which ones are ‘must-watch’, so taking a look at Quora I stumbled upon a Ruby script from analytics gurus PostRank that would generate a document with various ranked statistics on them. I updated the script slightly to more efficiently use API calls, and set about updating their out of date document. The new document contains 500+ new talks, and updated statistics on the ones that were already present.

One important thing to note is that my script doesn’t utilise whatever method PostRank seem to be using to weight the sources (which they did not include in the script or their post), so the ‘engagement’ numbers won’t be as high, but the general idea is there.

You can find my updated Top TED Talks document here (updated 2012-03-22)

If you want to generate your own document, you first need to obtain an API key from PostRank which gets you 1000 calls a month (the script uses about 20 at the moment, each time it’s run), and then run the script. If you’re technically inclined enough to want to do this, you’ll also need to ‘gem install’ some of the Ruby Gems required for the script, but that’s beyond the scope of this post. Hope you like it!

 

Album of the Week #1 || DOOM – Born Like This

DOOM - Born Like This

Title: Born Like This
Artist: DOOM
Year: 2009
Genre: Hip hop

Before I begin, I should preface by saying I know nothing about hip hop. I haven’t been following it since it started, I was far too young to catch early stuff by A Tribe Called Quest or Public Enemy, and even modern hip hop has generally left me unfulfilled. But hey, I loved My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, so I’m pretty much an expert now, right?

DOOM, and perhaps more well as MF DOOM or his Madlib-collaborative character Madvillain, is a hip hop artist who began in New York in the late 90s.

The first thing that you notice about this album is that it isn’t your standard Eminem or Drake or Kanye West where everything is more or less spelled out to you (in a horrible novelty voice in Eminem’s case), but rather, a more stream-of-conciousness rapid fire ‘lead pipe languages’ as DOOM so succinctly puts it in dubiously named ‘Ballskin’.

Born Like This is full of dark turns of phrase, loosely centred around a ‘Supervillain’ and a wealth of crime and murderous exploits. But this isn’t your typical ‘gangsta’ rap, popping caps and all that. ‘Rap Ambush’ brings an army-esque feel to slaying with words, and ‘Absolutely’, probably the darkest track on the album, plays off murdering an enemy judge when they ‘get the Villain surrounded’.

The few problems with Born Like This lie more within the moments where DOOM isn’t present. While the production, mostly done by DOOM himself is excellent, with all sorts of unusual samples, including a masterful Christopher Lloyd from Who Framed Roger Rabbit (“You’ll never stop me! You’re all dead!”) at the end ‘That’s That’, the moments where guests appear just can’t match up to DOOM’s frequently ingenious lines.

So at the end of the day, DOOM’s power should not be underestimated. If you have the talent to write like a Villain, and still have a non-hip-hop fan enjoy your record, you must be doing something right.

Purchase Doom – Born Like This.

 
Aside

Intentionally full page.

Can’t help but think that Wikipedia missed a chance at some good old meta-humour:

Wikiblanks

Also, did you know gullible isn’t on Wikipedia?

 

Didn’t even have to use my AK

Today was a good day, for TV at least.

Prepare for an almighty rant. I doubt I’ll do these too often, so be either disappointed or relieved.


Began the day with the season 2 premiere of…

Archer

Archer season 1 episode 1

It took a few episodes into the first season before I warmed to Sterling Archer’s antics, but the powers of espionage and spy movie parody took over, and the season ended up being an unlikely addition to my favourites. I still walk around the house yelling DANGAH ZONE at no one in particular:

Best line:

"That Bay rum really burns on the... OHHHH! Hello razor! Welcome to the party!"

Skins

Not the censored, carbon-copy-minus-the-good-bits US version which is almost certainly doomed but the overall superior, though not without its flaws British counterpart.

Skins is one of those shows that makes me worry. Early seasons, in particular season one, were refreshing and interesting and new (though this could be a side-effect of my age at the time they aired), but as the series has progressed, the cast changes and writing have become considerably more dubious.

After season 4′s dreadful ending, which also happened to be the end of writing duties for co-creator Bryan Elsey, season 5 did not promise much, but the opening episode was not entirely disappointing.

Frankie from Skins S05E01

Franky, the androgynous lead of tonight’s episode played well enough for me to enjoy the episode, while it didn’t completely captivate me. I have my doubts about the supporting cast however, with at least two pairs of friends looking to be interchangeable. All that’s left is to wait and hope the writers pull something special out.

Best line:

"This is my mum, sandwiched between Dickens and Nabokov, but this is the original punk, Charlotte fucking Bronte"

Parks and Recreation

After a lengthy hiatus, Parks came back last week to (my) rapturous applause. Over the break I took the time to rewatch season 2, which cemented its spot far above The US Office’s recent output as NBC’s top ‘mocumentary’.

I struggle to find things to dislike about the show; the characters are distinct and beautifully written and acted, especially Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson and Chris Pratt’s lovable buffoon Andy Dwyer.

Andy Dwyer / Bert Macklin, FBI

Tonight’s episode was stolen by Amy Poelher’s Leslie Knope however. Her antics under the influence of some mighty strong flu medicine were wonderful. If you haven’t seen Parks yet, GO NOW.

Best line:

"Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the computer, and it says you might have 'network connectivity problems.'"


Community

The show that continually pushes the boundaries of ‘normal’ sitcom took a break today with a fairly standard story with a bit of nice character background development. Learning about Pierce’s childhood issues was a nice touch, though it seems like almost every character has some serious parental issues (Abed, Annie, Pierce and Jeff to name a few).

Senor Chang, changry.

The episode centred mostly around a production that Annie stages to portray drugs in a bad light to young children. Perhaps I’m ruined for TV show mock-plays after seeing It’s Always Sunny’s brilliant The Nightman Cometh… episode, but I wasn’t massively impressed. There were some great moments, like the increasing group admiration for Chang after his beating at the hands of scores of angry children while dressed as marijuana clown. Nowhere near Community’s best efforts, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Best line:

"I'm gonna deep fry your dog, and eat your mama's face OMNOM. 
And I'm gonna wear your little brother's skin for pajamas."

The Office

Ricky Gervais guest starred as the original Office’s fool David Brent. For about a minute.

And while it may not have been entirely necessary or plausible or… who really cares? It was a funny, sweet homage and tribute to Steve Carrel’s Michael Scott, whose career at Dunder-Mifflin is almost at an end.

The rest of the episode wasn’t half bad either. For the umpteenth time, Creed comes out with some pearls. The rest of the characters linger in nothingness for an episode (especially Jim, who has been mostly hung out to dry in the writing after his and Pam’s wedding), and the Michael and Holly story takes a tiptoe forward.

Michael and Holly

I can’t imagine The Office without Steve Carell, and I think it’s going to be a Scrubs-season-9-esque disaster, so I’m just trying to enjoy the last few moments left.

Best line:

"Two eyes, two ears, a chin, a mouth, ten fingers, two nipples, a butt, two kneecaps, a penis.
I have just described to you the Loch Ness Monster, and the reward for its capture?
All the riches in Scotland. So I have one question: why are you here?"
 
Aside

Just hanging.

Hello world, as these things usually go.

I’ve decided to setup one of these mostly out of boredom, but also to have a place to release bits and pieces when they’re ready.

The title of the blog is lovingly borrowed from Johnny Foreigner‘s ace ‘Elegy For Post-Teenage Living Parts 1 and 2′ from 2010′s brilliantly named You Thought You Saw a Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears and That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With the Sky So Clear and Sea So Calm, and for which a description of ‘underrated’ doesn’t even come close: