Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, July 11, 2021

In response to the bemused dismay over the studio jockeying over film rights to “Asteroids”, Topless Robot is running a contest for the most ridiculous pixels-to-celluloid pitch imaginable:

I’m the moronic hollywood exec with a nose full of blow and a head up my ass, and you’re the producer — sell me on the most ludicrous movie adaptation of the most inappropriate videogame you can think of. You don’t have to include potential cast members, but you’re welcome to. I’m not sure whether I’ll be looking for a terrible pitch that could genuinely get made into a movie, or if I’m looking for the most ludicrous idea in the entire world, but you might as well shoot for either.

I’m only a little perturbed that, as of this writing (and with an entire day to go for submitting entries), already there have been three pitches for Atari 2600 proto-porno cartridge “Custer’s Revenge”. And none at all for “Robotron: 2084″.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/11/2021 06:56pm
Category: Comedy, Movies, Videogames
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Everyone blames the Internet for false-death reports, which were piled on especially high during the recent cluster of celebrity demises. But websites only disseminate such rumors more quickly and easily than in the old days, when the same disinformation was being spread:

Nicholas DiFonzo, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who studies the psychology of rumors, said that the mass confusion over [Michael] Jackson’s sudden death probably left people craving a feeling of control. “People spread rumors when there is some uncertainty or anxiety that they are trying to calm,” he said.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945, caused similar morbid ripples, according to Alex Boese, who wrote a book about historical hoaxes and founded an online Museum of Hoaxes. Back then, rumors spread that Frank Sinatra, Babe Ruth, Al Jolson, Errol Flynn and other notables had suddenly expired as well. “This has been going on for hundreds of years,” Mr. Boese said. “It’s the people, not the Internet. You can’t blame Twitter.”

I’m betting part of the dynamic is declaring a preferred celebrity death: You didn’t want Michael Jackson to die; you’d rather see Jeff Goldblum bite it. Pathetic grasps at “control”, but we are only human, after all.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/11/2021 02:28pm
Category: Celebrity, Media, Society
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What does Michael Jackson’s death by prescription overdose say about our culture of sanctioned pill-popping?

Even the nation’s new drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has called Jackson’s death “a wake-up call.” More Americans die from overdoses of legal drugs each year than from gunshot wounds, he told CNN on Thursday.

It’s a complicated problem. There is no bright line separating use from misuse. And a constellation of circumstances is nudging us toward chemical solutions to the struggles of everyday living.

An ever-expanding list of mental illnesses means almost anyone can be diagnosed with a treatable malady. Pharmaceutical ads — with butterflies flitting through bedroom windows and happy, prosperous families — promise pills that can make you happier or more social; help you stop hurting and get to sleep. And doctors have been pressed by patients, plied by drug reps and squeezed by insurance companies until a 10-minute visit gets you a refillable prescription.

Yet pharmaceutical advances have allowed schizophrenics to hold down jobs, insomniacs to get a good night’s sleep, and people with depression to go about their lives.

My resistance toward acquiring a regular pharmaceutical habit has everything to do with the lack of comprehensive oversight over the whole process. Doctors have been failing miserably at their roles as healthcare gatekeepers, prescribing name-brand drugs on request and regardless of actual medical need. And nobody seems to care about the cumulative effect of taking multiple drugs — pharmaceutical companies and physicians are content to set off barely-predictable chemical reactions in peoples’ bodies and worry about the consequences later.

I doubt even Jackson’s high-profile death will do anything to change the attitudes in place. It’s not like they’re new. The pharmacy-fueled habits started in the middle of the last century, and has accelerated to the point where the very young (Ritalin) and the very old (pick a drug), and everyone in between, are hooked. Unhooking won’t happen until some other substances (presumably non-chemical based) are developed that deliver the same results. And just like now, the consequences won’t be factored in.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/11/2021 11:50am
Category: Science, Society
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