Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

The Onion takes on location-based social networking tool Foursquare, media

The Onion, always a fountain of mirth, has a great article taking shots at both Foursquare and media coverage of new media.

Excerpt:

"Although it recently hit the million-user mark, Foursquare has yet to approach the vast subscriber base of Facebook and Twitter. But that all could change as people become increasingly reliant on the…okay, here, here, let me sum up this whole 'news' story for you: Aging, scared newspapermen throw themselves at the latest mobile technology trend in a humiliatingly futile attempt to remain relevant."

As usual with Onion articles, not for those easily offended.

New Social Networking Site Changing The Way Oh, Christ, Forget It

(Oh, and that's a real photo of Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley. Seriously.)

If you're interested in checking out a more straightforward story about Foursquare, you can do so with this New York Times article.

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Parabola now in bottles

Earlier this month Firestone Walker Brewing Co. announced the release of Parabola, their barrel-aged Russian imperial oatmeal stout. It's part of the brewery’s Proprietor’s Reserve Series, which consists of bottled draft-only barrel-aged beers.

Reports say the 22-ounce bottles will retail for about $16, which is in line with Firestone Walker's other special releases and anniversary ales. This stuff should not be on the shelves for too long – their Buellton taproom reportedly sold out in 20 minutes.

Parabola, listed as 13 percent alcohol by volume, has earned an A-average from reviewers at the Beeradvocate website. One review, out of a total of 47, describes Parabola in the following way:

The nose is a stellar blend of roasted malt, molasses, and caramel. A light roast of coffee is well integrated and a low level of oak is present. Vanilla wafts from the glass, and the chocolate is a slightly bittersweet blend of milk and dark. Balance is superb and alcohol is mild. I'm enthralled by the caramel transcending the molasses, coffee, and chocolate.

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Ben Folds, Pomplamoose at San Francisco MusicTech Summit

The San Francisco MusicTech Summit is taking place today. I had a chance to catch the Rebirth of Video panel streaming online, featuring a couple of my favorite musicians, Ben Folds (who played Los Angeles just last week) and Jack Conte of YouTube sensations Pomplamoose. They played clips showing the ways that these artists were pushing the boundaries of video online.

Folds' most recent bit was a riff on Chatroulette. There was a guy named Merton who looked and sounded a bit like Ben Folds and did improvised piano bits about people he would see through the random video chat of Chatroulette.

Merton:

So, Folds took that to another meta level and did the same thing on stage at one of his concerts.

Ben:

Folds talked about the empowerment that the new medium gives to artists. He said that there was a time when, to get your music out, you had to convince bigwigs at a record label. "Now there's no convincing anyone at the top about anything."

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Facebook calls all-staff privacy meeting

Apparently the powers that be have recognized that something is rotten in the state of Facebook, as numerous users, bloggers and other commentators have spoken out over recent changes in Facebook's privacy policies. They've called an all-staff meeting on the subject of privacy for this afternoon at 4 p.m. Pacific time.

Facebook users are in a weirdly intimate relationship with the company, as they give Facebook more and more personal information which Facebook is leveraging more and more for its own purposes. There are compelling reasons to be on Facebook, most notably its ubiquity and ease of use when it comes to keeping track of members of your social circle. Facebook makes it difficult to opt out, and still holds onto users' information if they deactivate or even delete their accounts.

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Google's attempts to save journalism

People in the journalism world have been panicking about the dire straits the industry is in right now. The Atlantic has a great article by the esteemed James Fallows called "How to Save the News." It's the latest in a long run of these kind of articles, in part because a lot of those writers are by nature close to the subject matter, but it's important not just for journalists but to all of us who want to be informed about our world.

One point the article draws out is that Google has been a big part of what's killed journalism, making it easy for people to find the exact information they want without wading through a newspaper or magazine. "Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life."

Some of the minds at Google believe that good journalism is good for Google, as it means they have more interesting content to link to. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about how Google can help newspapers, and Google has set up ways to deliver more money to news organizations.

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