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Posts Tagged ‘pencil

“Life is about using the whole box of crayons”*…

 

How Crayola Crayons Are Made

* RuPaul

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As we muse on Mango Tango, we might recall that it was on this date in 1895 that Frederick E. Blaisdell of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was granted U.S. patent No. 549,952 for a paper pencil, (self-sharpening pencils, on which the tip could be renewed by peeling away some of the paper barrel– the type better known as “china markers” today), as well as patent number 550,212 for a machine for manufacturing pencils.

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Written by LW

November 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it…*

 

Buzzfeed’s intrepid Kate Aurthur dove into a full week’s output from Nielsen, searching for the bottom of the television ratings barrel.

There are many channels in the United States, from the massive (USA, CNN, etc.) to the tiny. So many, in fact, that it does seem possible that at some hours of the day, no one — as in zero humans — is watching them. It’s also possible, of course, that this is where the problems of Nielsen Media Research, which has a monopoly on quantifying ratings, show themselves. If 324 ordinary Joe Shmoes — or 4,000 — did, in fact, watch one of the shows below, but none of those Joe Shmoes is in a Nielsen household, then those viewings do not register. Or, as Nielsen put it when I posed this question to them recently, the shows at the very bottom of the weekly cable list, the ones that get 0.0 total viewers, do not meet “minimum reporting thresholds.”

And yet, it does stand to reason that with hundreds and hundreds of available channels, there could be instances every week when not a single soul is tuning in to certain shows. When there are no longer broadcast networks and cable channels, and everything is digital and on-demand, we can look back at this period and marvel at its ridiculous economics.

I took a random week (Feb. 25-March 3) and delved into what sorts of shows — and cable channels — are members of the Zero Club. I excluded paid programming. And that left 35 shows that got zeros. You did not watch them. I did not watch them either. But here they are…

#1-13 

“WPRA Today,” RFD (Feb. 25, 6:30 a.m.). And 12 other shows on RFD.

What does WPRA stand for, you ask? Why, it’s the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. And there is a show about it. Having not previously known about channel RFD, which bills itself as “Rural America’s Most Important Network,” I am now obsessed with it. (If you are curious what RFD stands for, it’s “Rural Free Delivery,” and as for what that means, it’s so complicated there’s a whole explainer about it on the website.)

RFD focuses on agriculture, equine issues of the day, lifestyle, youth, and livestock auctions. Unfortunately, my cable provider, Time Warner Cable, does not feature RFD — like I needed another reason to hate Time Warner Cable. (Dish and DirecTV customers, I am jealous of you, and I am coming over, k?)

But RFD may want to reconsider their programming mix, because there were 12 other RFD shows that also got zero viewers: FFA Today (Feb. 27, 4 a.m.), Ken McNabb (Feb. 28, 6 a.m.), All Around Performance Horse (Feb. 27, 6 a.m.), Presleys’ Country Jubilee (Feb. 28, 3:30 a.m.), Dennis Reis (Feb. 27, 6:30 a.m.), Julie Goodnight (March 1, 6:30 a.m.), Voices of Agriculture (Feb. 27, 4:30 a.m.), US Dressage (Feb. 27, 3:30 a.m.), Little Britches Rodeo (Feb. 27, 3 a.m.), Ren’s Old Time Music (Feb. 25 and 26, 5:30 a.m.), Chris Cox (Feb. 26, 6 a.m.), and Campfire Café (Feb. 25, 3:30 a.m.). Nielsen families! I call to you to watch these shows! In the middle of the night!

Check out chokes from ESPN, VH-1, Fox, and the rest of the list at “The 35 Least-Watched Shows on TV.”

* after George Berkeley‘s famous thought experiment: “But, say you, surely there is nothing easier than for me to imagine trees, for instance, in a park […] and nobody by to perceive them. […] The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived; the trees therefore are in the garden […] no longer than while there is somebody by to perceive them.” From A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710).

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As we prepare to dive, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that the first U.S. patent for a combination lead pencil and eraser was issued to Hyman L. Lipman, of Philadelphia, Pa. (No. 19,783).  Lipman’s design reserved one-fourth of the pencil’s length to hold a piece of prepared india-rubber, glued in at one edge; the balance, conventional graphite “lead.”  So, sharpening one end prepared the lead for writing, while sharpening the other exposed a small piece of the eraser.

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Written by LW

March 30, 2013 at 1:01 am

“Originality is nothing but judicious plagiarism”*…

 click here for dynamic zoom

Readers seemed to enjoy Simon Raper’s diagrammatic history of philosophy (see “Who’s Hume“), so may also appreciate Brendan Griffen‘s even more ambitious visual essay– a depiction of the connections between every important thinker, ever: “The Graph of Ideas.”

He fields it at two levels of detail; the first (pictured at the top of this post, with a link to a zoomable version) treats roughly 850 thinkers, clustering those most closely related and showing how each is connected.  For example:

The second treats his entire set of 4,200 thinkers; it is here (it’s a 50MB file, so takes a while to load– but it’s worth it).

Read the backstory– the method used and the iterative attempts to avoid a Western bias– here.

[TotH to CoDesign]

* Voltaire

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As we honor our ancestors, we might send carefully-scrawled birthday greetings to Nicolas-Jacques Conté; he was born on this date in 1755.  While Conté was an accomplished painter, balloonist, and army officer, he is best remembered for his contribution to the later contributions to the charts above: the invention of the modern pencil.

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Your correspondent is off for a period of deep and serious study of the smoked and fried foods of the Low Country.  Sticky fingers being the impediment to keyboarding that they are, regular service will resume in mid-August… Y’all have fun!

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