Wednesday, February 12, 2014

5 Covert Conversational Games

Ever find that you need a challenge? Do you feel that ordinary games just don't cut the mustard? Would you like the entertainment to last a whole day? Well, I might just have what you're looking for.

Here are five challenging games you can play all day long, and nobody else needs to know you are playing them.

1. Song lyric conversations - choose a song for which you know all the words. Try to work every sentence or phrase from the song into conversations you have throughout the day. Double points for saying the lyrics in order. Triple points if nobody catches on. "What time is the party? Um, it's nine o'clock on a Saturday. I'm expecting the regular crowd to shuffle in a bit late." You get the picture.

2. Last letter first - when conversing with someone, make sure the first word you say begins with the last letter of the last word the other person said. This one makes you actually listen to the person talking.

3. Mispronounce me - choose a word that comes up often in your conversations and purposely mispronounce it, even after someone corrects you. Quadruple points if you don't laugh.

4. The multi-joke - find a short, funny joke and see how many individual people you can tell it to in one day. The trick here is that you can only tell it to one person at a time, and the joke has to be in the context of your conversation, such that it would be appropriate to say, "Hey,  that reminds me of a joke!" Some conversation engineering might be required.

5. No questions asked - this one is an old "theatre sports" favorite. During a conversation, avoid asking any sort of question. Phrase everything as a statement. This is more difficult than it seems.
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Why Radio Just Won't Die

Nobody sends telegrams anymore, snail-mail is reserved for wedding invitations, and analog television has seen its last day. But if video killed the radio star, then you can wrap me in plastic and call me Buggles.
Back in the day, families would sit around the wireless, listening to news broadcasts, soap operas, and the football. Radio stars were the royalty of the living room, bringing the great, wide world into every modern home.

To give you an idea of how sophisticated things were back then, cricket commentators (and I assume baseball commentators, too) would simulate the sound of ball on bat by holding a wooden block next to the microphone and tapping it with a stick.

Nowadays, instant replays from every angle, ball-cams, net-cams, helmet-cams, stump-cams, and up-to-the-second on-screen statistics on every aspect of the game render mere verbal commentary primitive, at best.

Back then, random music hissing out of the box in your lounge room was a miracle of modern technology. Today, an MP3 of your favorite tunes is merely a click away. You can access your songs when you want, as often as you want, and wherever you want.

Taking all of this into account, you could be forgiven for concluding that the demise of radio as a popular media should have occurred sometime in the late 20th Century. The BBC did.
Forty-five years ago...Senior management predicted that the BBC might choose to cut its radio networks from three to two, so that television could expand to fill radio’s place. It turned out to be a poor piece of forecasting.
According to www.rajar.co.uk (Radio Joint Audience Research), 91% of adults in the UK listened to the radio sometime during the last quarter of 2013. Pew Research reports that in the US, a full 93% of the population still listen to traditional AM/FM radio. The European Broadcasting Union says:
There are over nine thousand radio stations in the fifteen Member States. More than 210 million Europeans listen to radio each day and we do so for more than three hours on average. In five countries, principally in Northern Europe, people still spend more time listening to radio than they do watching television and almost everywhere, the balance between viewing and listening is fairly equal.
The demise of the radio has been predicted over and over again. In 2008, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article entitled "RIP Radio?" where podcasting was tipped to completely replace traditional radio.

Internet Radio Adaptor CVT i2001
Wrong. No car today is sold without a radio. MP3 players, mobile phones, and even digital televisions come with radio functionality. Seemingly against all odds, radio is adapting well to the new age. Studies have shown that digital radio stations in the UK and US are gathering audiences at steadily climbing rates. So why does a technology invented in 1820 - one that has outlasted kings, empires, world wars, vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, and Tom Jones (almost) - continue to thrive?

A piece on dollywagon.com says that it's all about people searching for companionship and a sense of community:
...people explicitly switch on the radio for ‘company’. Listeners often say it feels like a DJ is in the same room or car with them, and that can feel nice.
However, even when the DJ isn’t speaking listeners feel aware that other people they know are experiencing the same thing, at the same point in time, as they are.
Okay, I get that. But I think that the real reason for the uncanny survival of radio lies in our growing need for background noise, be it while driving, cooking, or folding laundry. The randomness of what we are going to hear is appealing, and listening to the radio only requires part of your attention.

Ever-adaptive, resilient radio will be with us for as long as it provides variety, is easily accessible, and (most importantly) remains free.

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