So I watched The China Syndrome last night. It was. . . not particularly good, but like every movie that I watch, it highlighted how lousy movies coming out these days tend to be. It was marvelous, for example, to not have every single dramatic line delivered in front of a screeching orchestral score. I mean, I like musical melodrama as much as the next guy, but if something important is happening, maybe the audience can pick it up from context.
A picture of my dream house:
So in the NYT today, Mayor Mike endorses Barrack Obama in a way that shows him to be a self-aggrandizing jerk who, despite some relatively sensible ideas, doesn’t really have much good to contribute to the political tone of this country.
For starters, look at his complaint about Obama failing to find a non-ideological coalition aimed at resolving Mayor Mike’s (quite reasonable, to be honest) pet issues. Look at that list of issues. Those are not issues that will be resolved by forming a non-ideological coalition. Those are issues about which Republicans love to freak the fuck out. Despite the fact that there has been no gun-control legislation of any kind introduced during his term, the Republican punditry has gone crazy with accusations that he’s about to come for you guns at any second. For Mayor Mike to complain about this issue on a national level with any frame other than dismantling the insane discourse of the Republican Party, then he’s being deeply disingenuous.
Naturally (har), the same thing is true regarding the key issue of the endorsement: the threat of climate change. The Republican record on climate change is utterly non-ambiguous. Commentators have moved to the meta “it has been proved to be a hoax” mode of argumentation, divorcing themselves completely from any sort of engagement with facts or information. Again, the idea that someone should be looking for a bipartisan solution to a problem whose existence is denied by a whole swath of people involved in legislation shows an unwillingness to address where the problem really lies.
In short, in Mike wants progress on the things that he purports to be most concerned about, he should be working on changing the fact that the Republican Party in America 1) has been overrun by its most maniacal elements and 2) completely controls our public discourse. Without changing those facts, gun control and legislation that acknowledges the realities of climate change simply aren’t possible.
In times as desperate as these, I’m reluctant to dabble in their-all-the-same-ism, or otherwise make the perfect the enemy of the good, but the fact is the phantasmal centrism that gets cast about these days is deeply destructive, and has as its object the elimination from the popular political imagination of a real spectrum of ideologies.
So Seven Pillars of Wisdom continues to be very good. I think that I’m finding the character of the melodrama kind of illustrative. It’s interesting to contrast it to America’s current adventurism, provided you already feel like things are fucked, so a little additional grim is neither here nor there.
Also, enjoy this somewhat unconventional take on the difference between the French and the British.
Even in situations of poetry the French remained incorrigible prose-writers, seeing by the directly-thrown light of reason and understanding, not through the half-closed eye, mystily, by things’ essential radiance, in the manner of the imaginative British: so the two races worked ill together on a great undertaking.
So one good thing did come of Prometheus: I started Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I suppose a century is a long time, but even so the changes in the state of the world since it was written are pretty dizzying. So far I am enjoying the purple-ness. We’ll see if I end up getting tired of it. I suppose the events are sufficiently dramatic to absorb a lot of that.
Last weekend I went to SF to dork the fuck out and play Dungeons and Dragons. It was pretty great. It was Pride Weekend, so bus service was worse than usual. If you know anything about SF, then you know that’s a tall order. I guess this is the price of progress, or something.
While disappointing, it isn’t particularly surprising that Prometheus is bad. What is a bit remarkable is how far reaching the lousiness is. In general with something like this you expect some redeeming features, but something (hint, it’s the writing) at the heart of Prometheus is so bad that it taints the acting (characterizations were so flat that nobody had anything to work with) and the direction (script was clearly in a massive hurry, so nothing gets the time it would take to make it compelling). I went in hoping for some scenes or performances that I could really enjoy, but aside from the android watching Laurence of Arabia at the beginning, there was nothing to redeem this slog.
It’s also really a shame that people are saying that this is a movie full of big ideas. The retreat from the interesting that began the 21st Century has become such a success that “What if god was an alien?!?!?” gets to be a big idea again.
Here is a picture of Christopher Reeve in 1978′s Superman.
Here is an article highlighting some costumes for the upcoming movie. We sure love lumpy superheroes these days. I think that maybe there’s an idea that the smoothness that once characterized the source material (now long cross-pollinated with extraneous widgets) was less authentic. Useless doodads somehow represented something more “utilitarian.” I sort of meandered on from this.
Here is a picture of an Apple ][+ computer. . .
and here it is with its case open.
(Actually, that's an Apple ][, but whatever.)
Here is a picture of the Macbook Pro that I use for work. . .
and here is a picture of the scoring caused by the Herculean effort of prying the case open enough to upgrade the fucking RAM.
As the things that we use every day become more opaque and inaccessible, we need some sort of traction material on fictional icons so we can feel like we have access to something. Unfortunately, we’re so far from accessible design that we don’t remember what utility looks like.
Eventually, things change.
I’ve been at Temboo for over 5 years now. I have had a lot phases over the course of them. Sometimes things were good, and sometimes they were very, very bad. I almost left last week, but was convinced to stay by a gradual shift in my role. Basically I’m going to stop breaking things and start making them.
In my recent post about Temboo’s recent all-hands I mentioned that this was a direction that I needed to go in. At that point it seemed like that was going to mean Markov Garden, and whatever projects with which I decided to follow it up. What’s different about doing programming at work as well is that my mind is already going to be engaged that way. Programming is something where you need not only knowledge, but mindset. It’s a lot easier to write code today if you were doing it yesterday. This will be a good facilitator.
Another good thing that this means for Markov Garden is that I don’t have to feel like it’s a portfolio project. While I don’t think that I found that aspect of it particularly onerous, I’m interested to see what it will feel like to come back to it as just an example of personal expression.
At any rate, that’s what’s going on. It’s pretty crazy, really.
Another picture of the HTML representation of the probability table.
Hopefully this makes a little sense. The word in bold is the current word, the word in the left column is the previous word, and the list of words on the right are words that follow, and the number of times that they occur. Thus we see that “Machiavelli was absent” occurs once in the text, while “Machiavelli was sent” occurs twice. This also means that I’m consuming front matter in which I am not actually interested, so there is more tinkering to be done.
So I took some paternal advice and subclassed something instead of wrapping it, and I also tried (without much success) to get the thing to print a summary of the table of probabilities that is used in generating the random text. At any rate, this used Plato’s Apology as input.
Translator: Benjamin Jowett and not far from death. I am almost ashamed to confess that immediately after my departure punishment far heavier than you are mistaken: a man is able to pay, and not to do anything that might pervert the course of his triumph, when he concludes this part of a kind of voice, first began to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you. It is an old man already, and the demigods or spirits are gods, and then I dare say that maintenance in