Dr. Horrible’s horrible ratings

Blastr ran a piece today about the terrible, terrible ratings CW saw for its television broadcast of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” It drew less than 600,000 viewers and was by a significant margin last in its time slot.

I’m not sure why anyone should’ve been surprised by this. “Dr. Horrible” is a fantastic piece of nerd comedy – but it’s also now four years old. It debuted as a multi-part YouTube production back in 2008, and it’s been available on instant view on Netflix for quite a while (where it’s been rated over 1.3 million times, which means its been watched a ton more than that). The official YouTube episodes are gone, but the unofficial reposts have millions of views — including this one, with 3.6 million. It’s out on BluRay. There’s a comic book. There are t-shirts.

The point is, as great as “Dr. Horrible” is, it’s ancient content. The people who love it have seen it a whole bunch of times. I love it, I’ve seen it a bunch of times, and I didn’t give one second’s thought to watching it on TV last night. So you combine old content with the fact that it’s old content targeted at a niche audience of geeks, and I’m not sure what you expect to happen when you put it on broadcast television. The fact that it still drew more than a half-million viewers seems pretty good, and that probably would’ve been considered OK had it been on basic cable and not on the CW.

“22% are dbags”

This tweet from Doug Lederman (@dougledIHE) at Inside Higher Ed has gotten some traction today:

On the surface, it appears to paint about a quarter of college admissions directors in a bad light. And, it led to reactions like this:

But, that’s incredibly short-sighted (and, honestly, Kyle Judah should know better), because that stat — “22% of [college admissions directors] see $30k or more of debt as reasonable” — means absolutely nothing on its own. Absolutely nothing. What’s the current average debt load of students at the colleges where those 22 percent work? If their average students have $50,000 in debt now, then $30k would be a massive improvement and, therefore, entirely reasonable. What’s the tuition at those schools? If it’s $37,000 a year, then $30k in debt isn’t even one year’s tuition. It would be like a state school saying it was reasonable for their students to graduate with $8,000 in debt. It’s all a matter of perspective, and that perspective is entirely situational.

This is another example of a number with no context being used in ways that are at least not entirely appropriate, and at worst are intentionally misleading. When tuition costs vary so radically between different types of schools, painting them all with the same brush is unreasonable.

The study even leads with a qualification that while 22 percent of directors surveyed think debt could comfortably be in the $30,000 range, the number of private-school directors who feel that way is 28 percent; so, the response by the private schools is definitely skewing the overall average upward. In fact, 77 percent of the private-college respondents said that debt above $20,000 was acceptable. That’s absolutely going to inflate the overall average, when two-year respondents agreed to that level or higher at a rate of 43%, and public four-years at a rate of 44%.

Student debt is too important a subject to get tangled up in lazy math.

Incoming: two more Loomis reprints

What I’m Pre-Ordering
Amazon has pre-orders listed for two more hardcover reprints of Andrew Loomis’ art instruction books that were originally published in the 1940s – Creative Illustration coming next week, and Fun with a Pencil coming in April of 2013.  I’ve picked up the first three Loomis reprints so far – Figure Drawing for All It’s WorthSuccessful Drawing, and Drawing the Head and Hands. They’re great books and I haven’t spent nearly enough time with them; I’m definitely going to have to pick up these two newest ones as well.

What I’m Reading
Yahoo! Sports threw down  one of the biggest pieces of publicity Bemidji State football has ever received today when Pat Forde’s column “Forde-Yard Dash” led with “Go Jump in a Lake” – a feature on BSU’s tradition of jumping into Lake Bemidji after a win on Homecoming. It was the lead story on Yahoo! Sports for a time today, and it got retweeted like mad on Twitter and picked up a nice pile of shares on Facebook as well. Huge publicity for one of college football’s greatest unknown traditions. Getting a little bit of national attention for this is probably long overdue; our Athletic Media Relations staff deserves a ton of credit for helping to get this done.

Today’s Warren Ellis kick

What I’m Reading
Through sheer coincidence, I’ve thrown down a ton of plugs for British writer Warren Ellis today. Ellis is a crabby, atheist futurist who has written a ton of comic books, but is currently on hiatus from comics working on a series of crime novels. He’s a fascinating guy, inasmuch as if I were to picture myself as a writer, I’d picture myself as him.

This morning, I retweeted a link to a blog post of his from today called “SPACEGIRL and why your funny webcomics bore me.” Later, I threw a link up on Facebook to another of his blog posts from today, “VICE 04: Your God is Not Strong,” mostly because I tend to like throwing controversial stuff on Facebook to see who bites and comments on it. I’ve got terribly smart friends, existing at all shades of the political spectrum, and when they decide to come out and play it’s pretty fun to watch and participate in. I wish there was more of an opportunity to hang out with many of them in person and not just in virtual space on Facebook, but that’s a problem for another post. The “VICE 04” piece wraps up in a neat little package what I think is fun about Ellis’s writing – he makes no efforts to skirt around the edges of his opinions, he has absolutely no reverence for things other people have tremendous reverence for, and doesn’t really seem to be concerned about insulting anyone. He just decides he has a point he wants to get across, and he charges toward that point with laser focus. I very much enjoy reading the results of those charges. His point of view doesn’t always line up with my own worldview, but I sincerely appreciate his ability to express how he sees things.

To wrap up the evening of Ellis plugs, I threw up a link to his “How to See the Future,” a text version of a keynote speech he gave that he posted earlier this month. Here, the futurist side of Ellis comes out; it’s tough to describe this in any detail, but it’s basically an extended, more in-depth take on the Louis C.K. riff, “everything is amazing and nobody is happy,” with Ellis’ observations about how people are unable or unwilling to see or are simply unaware of the fantastic things that exist in the world around us today. If you haven’t seen the Louis C.K. thing, watch it; then read Ellis’ piece on how recognizing how amazing the present is when people think about the future. It might make you see the world around you in a slightly different light.

What I’ve Been Thinking About
A ton of thoughts racing through my head about things I can’t even talk about.