Link Dump

Link Dump

Just the usual interesting dump of links from the depths of ye olde internets:

  • AI Movie Posters – Yeah, yeah, I know, Dall-E has the momentum right now (and it’s great), but these AI generated, avant-garde movie posters are fun too.
  • List of Stories set in a future now past – Wikipedia has fun stuff if you know where to look.
  • The Market Basket on Boston Road – This is phenomenal. Not even sure if it’s real or not, but does that really matter?
  • Old Japanese Commercial – I don’t even know what it’s advertising, but it’s absolutely terrifying nightmare fuel.
  • Sam Raimi Defends Horror Films on UK’s Central Weekend in 1987 – TV is not as adversarial these days, this is a hell of a show (and boy do a lot of folks not come off well in their dismissive criticism of films they haven’t seen).
  • Who Ate the Pizza? – Feels staged, but it’s still funny
  • In defense of crypto(currency) – I’ve linked to some stuff that’s been (highly) critical of crypto in the past, but the underlying data structures and technology are interesting. I’ve always thought of crypto as a solution in search of a problem, and while it has solved some problems (i.e. thwarting man-in-the-middle attacks, enabling criminal enterprises, etc…), they’re, um, not all favorable. As currently constructed, these systems aren’t especially useful, but the engineering problems aren’t entirely insurmountable and the amount of money tied up in these schemes (even with recent tumbles) means there’s a big incentive to fix them. Healthy skepticism still warranted though.

And I’ll leave you with the tweet of the week (those poor librarians, but I can’t stop laughing):

Link Dump

The usual spin through the depths of ye olde internets:

  • The Silurian Hypothesis: Would it be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record? – (Wikipedia has a much shorter summary.) Named after the fictional species from Doctor Who, the reality of this situation is much more mundane and boring than you might think. It turns out that not much would actually survive very long (certain plastics or nuclear waste, for example). Ironically, if this theoretical civilization made it to the Moon or Mars and left something there, it’d be much more likely to be intact…
  • Jason lives? The court battle that’s killing ‘Friday the 13th’ – Since another Friday the 13th has passed, it’s time to check in on the legal battles that have kept Jason from the screen since 2009. It turns out that copyright law is complicated and while the original screenwriter technically has rights to the characters and sequels, he doesn’t have rights to the title Friday the 13th or to international distribution. Arguably, he doesn’t even have rights to do a movie with an adult Jason. Ultimately, this thing won’t end until Victor Miller and Sean Cunningham come to some sort of agreement.
  • The Thing That Makes It Work Means It Doesn’t – Ryan Broderick on the paradox at the heart of social media:

…platforms are still stuck in a perpetual state of being terrible and, thus, good. Twitter and Tumblr are both fantastic examples of this bizarre tension, with user bases that are valuable in vastly different ways, but drawn to the apps because of features that make them unmonetizeable. Tumblr is essentially the greatest archive of possible copyright infringement ever created, which has led to an inscrutable and dense remix culture that conversely also drives a lot of what’s cool online. Meanwhile, Twitter is a poorly-incentivized battle royal for rich people, artists, and furries that only works because the barrier of entry for logging on and threatening to kill a columnist you don’t like is low enough that you can do it while still enraged from something you read while on the toilet.

That’s all for now!

Link Dump

The usual collection of interesting links from the depths of ye olde internets:

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

The usual spin through the depths of ye olde internets:

That’s all for now. Still working on the Top 10 movies of 2021 post, coming soon!

Link Dump

The usual spin through the depths of ye olde internets:

  • SR-71 Pilot tells an LA Speed Story – It’s really cool being an SR-71 pilot, great story
  • Juice That Makes Your Head Explode – I’ve explained this before, but back when bookmarking services like del.icio.us were still a thing, I had a tag called “idontknowwhatthefuckisgoingoninthisvideo” and this video would have been tagged as such.
  • Kids more inspired to work harder while dressed as Batman, study finds – One presumes the study breaks down when kids dress as batfleck
  • Loving Lies – Stephen Glass’ biggest lie. I don’t know what I expected, but it was not this level of cosmic irony.
  • The Quorum – One of the fun things about the movies used to be weird horse race analysis of box office stats. This activity has taken two hard hits in the past few years. The obvious one is the pandemic, which makes comparisons and analysis more difficult. The other is that Box Office Mojo was redesigned and isn’t anywhere near as useful as it used to be. The Quorum is a new data site that is based more on pre-release awareness, which is something that is especially volatile now in the pandemic and thus quite interesting.
  • Here’s Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten More Difficult to Understand (and How to Fix It) – Ironically, improvements in sound technology make it harder to do sound better because filmmakers are so used to being able to fix sound in post (and other similar stuff)

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

The great comedown from the Six Weeks of Halloween has begun, so let’s just enjoy some links from the depths of ye olde internets:

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

The usual spin through interesting links from the depths of ye olde internets:

… uncritical acceptance of the lone genius myth is one more cultural force among many that is making it more and more difficult for individuals to do innovative work (and last time I checked, humanity is made up of individuals). In a fast-paced world full of intense economic/scientific/intellectual competition and decreasing opportunities for solitude, it is harder than ever before to justify spending significant time on intangible work that may or may not pay off. You can’t put on your resume – “I spend a lot of time thinking about ideas and scribbling notes that I don’t share with anyone.”

I guess what I want to counteract is the same thing that Stephen Malina, Alexey Guzey, Leopold Aschenbrenner argue against in “Ideas not mattering is a Psyop”. I don’t know how we could ever forget that ideas matter – of course they matter – but somewhere along the way I think we got a little confused. How this happened, I don’t know – you can probably broadly gesture at computers, the internet, big data, etc. and talk about how these have led to a greater societal emphasis on predictability, quantifiability, and efficiency. Ideas (and the creative process that produces them) are inherently none of these things; as Malina et al. remind us – Ideas are often built on top of each other, meaning that credit assignment is genuinely hard” and “Ideas have long feedback loops so it’s hard to validate who is good at having ideas that turn out to be good”. I would also mention increased levels of competition (as a result of globalism, increased population sizes, and the multitude of technologies that enable these things) as a major culprit. For any position at a college/graduate school/job you are likely competing with many people who have done all kinds of impressive sounding things (although it is probably 90% bullshit) so you better stop thinking about crazy ideas (remember, there are no such things as lone geniuses) and starting doing things, even if the things you are doing are boring and trivial. As long as they look good on the resume…

The confounding nature of the film’s inaccessibility has to do with who currently owns its rights. Though the film was distributed by 20th Century Fox, the distribution rights fell into the ownership of pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb. At one point, the company had their hand in buying entertainment properties, acquiring Palomar Pictures International. The production company was originally a subsidiary of ABC but it severed ties in 1969, which allowed Bristol-Myers Squibb to swoop in and take up a majority stake in 1972. Along with May’s The Heartbreak Kid, some of the films produced while owned by the pharmaceutical company included SleuthThe Taking of Pelham One Two Three and The Stepford Wives. But only two years after creating this entertainment arm, Bristol Myers-Squibb dissolved it.

  • Ricky Jay Does a Card Trick – Always worthwhile.
  • Scottish distillery tour guide – I’ve never been to Scotland, but this feels pitch perfect to me and if I ever do go, I’ll be supremely disappointed if my tour guide isn’t equally disaffected.
  • Greatest Ping Pong Volley – It’s amazing and unfortunately not from the Olympics, but then someone in the comments unearthed this absolute gem about an, er, adjacent sport? (Make sure you turn on the sound on that second one, the announcer is doing some heavy lifting here.)
  • In Praise of the Info Dump: A Literary Case for Hard Science Fiction – I don’t think there’s a real rule here – like a lot of things, info-dumps are really difficult to do well, so the general rule seems to be against them. But then, folks like Greg Egan are masters at this sort of thing and his novels wouldn’t work at all if it weren’t for the info-dumps. SF readers are probably much more tolerant of this sort of thing, and there’s almost a different way of reading that encourages it.

What distinguishes this genre isn’t so much plotting, characters, or concepts, but its special relationship to information. In a certain sense, an effective piece of hard science fiction comprises one world-sized info dump. Expert discourse is simply the most efficient delivery mechanism for this volume of information.

Maligned almost universally in fiction workshops, the info dump is a device that supplies a sizable amount of background information or other narrative material in order to make a story intelligible to the reader. Egan is a master of the trick. Yatima’s birth, an enormously complicated process that takes place in the first three pages of Diaspora, may be the most magnificent info dump I’ve ever read.

  • The Coen Brother – Ethan Coen recently announced that he’s done making movies. His brother Joel will probably continue, but what does this mean for the output of some of the most original and interesting filmmakers of the last few decades? Well, I guess we’re about to find out.

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

The usual collection of links I found perusing the depths of ye olde internets:

Q: Jazz critic Ted Gioia recently lodged a complaint that “music criticism has degenerated into lifestyle reporting” because most most critics lack a musical background and theoretical tools. Do movie critics need filmmaking experience or an understanding of film theory to do their jobs?

Gioia’s piece, which was published at The Daily Beast, was the op-ed equivalent of a nun rapping inattentive students’ knuckles with a ruler. It’s mostly an argument in favor of music critics knowing a little bit about the actual process of writing and performing music, and finding a way to work that knowledge into their reviews. “Imagine, for a moment, football commentators who refuse to explain formations and plays. Or a TV cooking show that never mentions the ingredients,” he writes, “or an expert on cars who refuses to look under the hood of an automobile. These examples may sound implausible, perhaps ridiculous. But something comparable is happening in the field of music journalism. One can read through a stack of music magazines and never find any in-depth discussion of music.  Technical knowledge of the art form has disappeared from its discourse. In short, music criticism has turned into lifestyle reporting.”

It’s a good piece worth revisiting because the last four years have probably only exacerbated the issue. It’s funny, because I feel like one of the trends we saw in these last few years is a bunch of critics wanting to write about nothing but politics, while political reporters wanted to escape the partisan tribalism by writing about art, movies, tv, whatever. In any case, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind.

And that’s all for now. I was going to kick off the 1978 Project Kaedrin Movie Awards, but got bogged down with other stuff this week… but it’s coming soon!

Link Dump

Just the usual spin through interesting links from the depths of ye olde internets:

  • How I Beat Boris Becker – Andre Agassi talks about how he spotted Boris Becker’s tell. It’s got a nice Detachment 2702 twist to it as well…
  • Carbon monoxide theory – Your house isn’t haunted, it’s just carbon monoxide poisoning:

Many haunted houses have been investigated and found to contain high levels of carbon monoxide or other poisons, which can cause hallucinations. The carbon monoxide theory explains why haunted houses are mostly older houses, which are more likely to contain aging and defective appliances, and why more hauntings are reported in the colder months. Carbon monoxide poisoning explains many of the occurrences in haunted houses, such as feelings of being watched, hearing footsteps or voices, seeing “ghosts”, headaches, dizziness, and sudden death or illness of people or pets, and also strange behavior in pets such as excessive barking or meowing. The carbon monoxide theory also explains why some ghosts don’t show up on photographs or videos (photographs that do show “ghosts” are usually caused by dust, insects, fingers or camera strap in front of the lens, and multiple exposures).

  • I’m Built Different – So there’s this tiktok where a ridiculously ripped guy says “I’m not going to say this again, I’m built different” and then he puts an egg in his elbow and cracks it by flexing his bicep (then, despite explicitly claiming he wouldn’t, he says he’s built different again). Anyway, it’s ridiculous, and there’ve been tons of parodies (I especially like the first one in the link above, where the girl does this whole Johnny Carson-esque gesture). That link is good, but there’s a couple of other great ones out there too.
  • A Brief History of ‘Looks Like Meat’s Back on the Menu, Boys!’ From ‘The Two Towers’ – It’s a line that has inspired an awful lot of discussion…

That line has confounded and delighted fans ever since the movie’s release, with a good number of tweets and Reddit comments centering on its seeming anachronisms. “Not only is it out of place, it doesn’t even make sense!” complained one confused commenter. “How do orcs even know what a menu is? Do they have fancy restaurants in Mordor? I guess they must.”

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

The usual roundup of interesting links from the depths of ye olde internets:

The “sweater curse” or “curse of the love sweater” is a term used by knitters to describe the belief that if a knitter gives a hand-knit sweater to a significant other, it will lead to the recipient breaking up with the knitter. In an alternative formulation, the relationship will end before the sweater is even completed. The belief is widely discussed in knitting publications, and some knitters claim to have experienced it. In a 2005 poll, 15% of active knitters said that they had experienced the sweater curse firsthand, and 41% considered it a possibility that should be taken seriously.

One of the themes I’ve come back to many times in my writing is the idea that people mistake empirical claims (this is true about the world) with normative claims (this should be true about the world). Nowhere is this more clear than with “hate speech” and censorship. I think hate speech laws are politically and morally wrong, a normative claim, but more importantly they don’t work, an empirical claim – one which if true renders normative claims that hate speech laws are good irrelevant.

The debate about whether we should censor unpopular views such as hate speech is an important one, but also a strange one. In my experience, it operates wholly independent from any consideration of the restraints of reality.

  • SETI Optimism is Human Future Pessimism – Another meditation on the Fermi Paradox, but with more math and some new terminology. Not sure I love the “grabby civilization” phrase, but it captures a useful idea in the discussion.

That’s all for now…