Television Viewership Still Rising; Reading Too?

Television viewership still risingTelevision and Internet viewing versus dwindling attention span…

I was stunned to see that television ogling by Americans, who are over 12 years old, has continued to rise despite the Internet. A census bureau study, published in the USA Today of June 25, 2008, said that since the year 2000, people over 12 years old are watching television 71 days/year, up 8 days, and spending 202 hours more per year (1704 hours vs 1502 in 2000). What’s not clear in the USA Today poll is whether television via the Internet has been included. Then, between video games and Internet, the American adult is giving new meaning to screen capture.

And, it would be interesting to then compare book sales (which of course do not necessarily mean book reading) during the same period. This site, via the Association of American Publishers, says that “U.S. publishers had net sales of $25 billion in 2007; a 3.2 percent increase from 2006 with a compound growth rate of 2.5 percent per year since 2002.” Naturally, this is no indication of whether people are actually reading more (dollar value is not indicative of units; and there is no neutralisation of the population increase). While internet and television can allow for “zapping” behaviour, reading in byte sizes is hardly propitious for a good read; and with reduced time, it seems hardly likely that reading activity will increase. Then again, is reading on the Internet (news stories, stories, blogs, etc.) viable reading?

Double-handed backhand dominating if not dulling women’s tennis

The double-handed backhand: dominatrix of women’s tennis

I read with interest in USA Today, June 25, 2008, an article entitled, “Women’s one-handed backhand becomes mostly a dropped shot.” The article points out there are 7 women players in the top 100 that have a one-handed backhand and the highest ranked is Francesca Shiavone (20th). The ages of these seven players features one 19-year-old and the remainder are between 25 and 34. The precocious retirement of Justine Henin took out the only bona fide champion with a single hand backhand (and a beautiful one at that). A few women have a single-handed slice backhand (Ana Ivanovic, for example). However, the game, its style and creativity, seem to have run the single-handed backhand out of the system. Evidently, the Eastern European machine is fabricating top class double-handed backhanders (Serbia and Russia together own 7 of the top 10 slots). Kudos meanwhile to the Williams sisters for penetrating into that fold and dominating Wimbledon...again. Too bad Serena wasn’t named Mars though. How much more fun would it be to see Venus facing off against Mars? As we know, Mars never dominates Venus.

As much as the double-fisted Jimmy Connors was exciting to watch in the 1970s and 1980s, a double handed backhand in men’s tennis is common currency today–if not the norm as well (13 of the top 20 in the ATP men’s ranking today have a double-handed backhand). There are still many single-handed backhanders in men’s tennis, including Federer‘s; but, trailing Roger in the rankings are six straight double-handers. If it is a less common site in men’s tennis, a “beautiful” [single-handed] backhand has become an exceptional thing to see in women’s tennis.

As a single-handed backhander, I feel nostalgia for the era when single double-handed backhands and net games were common, since it was also when the game was far more varied in style and creativity. Is it possible that tennis, like music, needs some good old fashioned bases? For tennis’ sake, the game will need to find an edge to keep the larger public interested. The general elimination of net and finesse players is doing tennis a great disservice. The thumping 2001 Wimbledon men’s final between Goran Ivanisevic and Patrick Rafter (38 aces and lots of net action) seems to be in the distant past. I, for one, now watch much less professional tennis (would rather be playing, yes). Maybe the uncovering of the [oh so evident] doping among the top players (read: Nadal in particular) will help stem the tide of power. What else can be done? Change the rules? Make the balls lighter?

Marc Jacobs – Welcome to the late late night show

For the latest fashion week in New York, the standout performance has been the pre- and post- tangle surrounding the Marc Jacobs Collection, shown on September 10th. Among other things, I was very impressed by the use of SMS by Jacobs’ Press team to alert [certain VIP] attendees to the retard.

Jacobs’ show was scheduled for 20h30 (8:30pm). An SMS sent out to attendees said the show would be an hour late and to come around 22h (already quite an exaggerated sense of an hour). A second SMS was issued at 21h45, saying the show wouldn’t begin before 23h (11pm).

Nothing like over promising. Now for the delivery.

Per the press reports, Anna Wintours (Vogue) and Suzy Menkes (IHT) both thought the retard stepped over the bounds of acceptable. Here’s the report from WWD. Menkes reportedly said, “I would like to murder him with my bare hands and never see another Marc Jacobs show as long as I live. Where’s the dinner?” Fashion Shows that start on time are such a rarity, you wonder why the agenda proposes a specific minute for the beginning. Why not write: sometime after x pm or not before y pm. New concepts in time management are needed, such as obligatory SMS messaging and pre-show massaging…

There is a historic need for suspense, generating impatience and a stir crazy audience, with ants-in-the-[hot]pants is a modus operandus. This is typically not helped by chairs at fashion shows which are made temporarily for temporary seating. Some fashion designers seem to behave along the lines, “the longer the wait, the bigger rap; and the more hype my show will create.”

Anyway, Jacobs sparred with the powers that be post show (in the press), defying the likes of Menkes and Wintours, and telling them not to come ‘next time.’ Maybe, though, the time after that will be okay?

With all that said–and while I didn’t attend the show–with my Lit background, I can only say that I was extremely interested in the deconstructionist theme to Jacobs’ show, played back to front. Sounded absolutely fascinating. A finale at the beginning (including Jacob’s enthusiastic bow), 3/4 finished dresses, undersized shoes and again shoes with the heels attached to the front. For music, the show was accompanied by non-linear cuts of Ravel’s Boléro. There was a blow by blow writeup in USA Today Blog. Unfortunately, the show may have been missing in content (per le Figaro); but then what’s new for those who don’t like Derridan deconstructionism. Otherwise, seems like Jacobs’ show did its very own auto-destructionism.

See Figaro article: “Le retard de Marc Jacobs déchaîne les critiques

Other blogging the Jacobs’ show:
Fabsugar: NY Fashion Week
NYTimes Runway Blog
Style Dish, Cry me a river…
Hollywood, That other Blog

Facebook going “public”

Looking for the jackpot, Facebook has decided to make its 40 million members public, as USA Today reports (see mashable for more intersting commentary). If Facebook members don’t adjust their privacy settings, they will find themselves unwittingly listed on line on the various mega search engines (Google, MSN Search…). Of course, the idea is to get Facebook to become even more mainstream. Now I can understand why founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has been holding off on going public or accepting any buyout offer. He is aiming for the big leagues, not some piddly $1B or $2B as has been mentioned variously.

Fortunately, one has to assume, Facebook members will be still be able to choose with whom they buddy up with to share the various random functionalities (drinks, vampire bits and more). As far as I am concerned, anything you put on line can be exposed — I have been maintaining that you are or will become your on-line presence. But, for some, this exposure will undoubtedly be a shock — and there will obviously be some fallout. On balance, I expect this move to be a success for Facebook — its internal search function is just going public.

Facebook is a great tool. And the ability to link up with random and/or old friends into sometimes amorphous groups according to your interests is wonderful. The “methods of contacts” (booze mail, zombies, super wall, post-its…) are highly original although surely they will eventually run out of steam. And, it is only logical that Facebook becomes integrated into marketing plans — it is called web 2.0 making money.

So, if you are a member and are scared of having your name on line, change your Facebook privacy settings. Otherwise, sit back and watch Zuckerberg make a handy dollar or two (unless his Harvard classmates manage to eke out some of the dough in a lawsuit for allegedly stealing the idea.)

Rugby World Cup 2007 – Opening Round

I was fortunate enough to attend the France versus Argentina match last night (Rugby World Cup 2007) and was flabbergasted by the host’s performance. The 17-12 victory by the Argentne Pumas was well merited. Despite a French pack that, contrary to the weight inferiority, dominated the scrums and line outs, the game was lost by the backs where the French three-quarters were taken by assault by repeated up-and-unders. Poor receptions and scattered responses made for a poor sight. And, the Argentine pack constantly wrecked havoc on the French set plays. Not least, the Puma tackling was merciless.

So much for the grand opening.

Today, Saturday, saw the Kiwi All Blacks and Aussie wallabies maul, if not massacre, their minnow rivals (Italy and Japan respectively). At 72-14 and 91-3, the scores ressembled cricket scores (granted there are only ten wickets).

The English victory over the USA at 28-10 is a difficult one for me…my split loyalties — brought up in Blighty, I have always supported the English team. But, as an American, haven’t had much opportunity to support a US team — much less at the World Cup.

I would have expected a mauling much the Southern Hemisphere teams did to their Northern foe. Maybe the historical rapprochement between the UK and US makes it difficult for the Limeys want to crush the Yanks? In any event, a more than respectable outing for the Americans. Given a few different quirks and bounces, the game might even have been closer.

Between the French loss, the English middling performance and the NZ and Australian dominance, it’s hard not to call the latter victors in waiting.

Yet, it’s a long tournament. Seven weeks. Injuries, weather and fitness may yet influence the results. Here’s to the occasional upset. At least it keeps things exciting.

A few blogs on the France v Argentina match:
22 drop out
Angie from down under

Since when …

“Ch-ch-changes… Time may change me, But I can’t trace time.”

Not alone to think that the USA Today Top 25 pivotal changes (in honour of their 25th anniversary) makes for quite fun reading, found a few other similarly minded posts (including gadling). Among the changes that seem to have happened so long ago, it was only in 1995 that Delta Airlines [for the first time] banned smoking on all flights. I shake my head when I hear the cabin announcement about “this is a no-smoking flight.” Are there any commercial airlines left allowing smoking on board? Another “change” of note: this year 50% of travel bookings will be done on line.