Friday, 26 August 2011
Sunday, 21 August 2011
It was a pleasure to find a story written in 1928 so enthralling and atmospheric in a distinctly contemporary way, and a delight to realise that the praise heaped on Lovecraft from various horror writers (there's a quote on the cover from Stephen King) is thoroughly justified. The modern sensibility of the horror is no doubt a reflection of the massive influence his stories have had on modern horror and fantasy. It's quite palpable.
Lovecraft is clearly writing at a time in the early 20thC when modern science as we understand it was coming to the fore, yet there still lingered a residual 19thC sense of the mysterious and ineffable, hidden corners of our world full of ancient magics. His skill lies in melding together these visions of the world, so that ancient sacrifices and demon creatures from other realms but up against scientific analysis of mysterious objects that reveals chemical elements with heavier atomic weights then thought possible. As such, Lovecraft's over 80 year old stories, provide us with a bridge between those two worlds and gloriously provoke the imagination. It's a chilling and satisfying experience.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
I've been having fun with Google plus this last week, while getting my head around the hybrid Facebook/Twitter structure of it. I found a great post by John Tropea on the differences between Google+ and Facebook/Twitter, and he sums up my initial confusion on how sharing with circles works. Essentially, when you post something to a circle, that whole circle won't see it in their stream unless they are all following you back, which is necessarily the case. I agree with John that this isn't very intuitive.
So, @Google, here's my simple suggestion to make it a little more intuitive: the little grey circle graphic next to each of your circles could represent what percentage of that circle follow you back - like a little circle graph. So if only half the people in one of your given circles follows you back then, then the circle outline is half red, half green (or some other colours), if 90% follow you back, then 90% of the little circle would look green, while a little 10% sliver would be red. I think this would be a quick, simple way for the user to see roughly how much of their intended audience might actually see their post.
Friday, 27 August 2010
Listening to an Economist podcast recently, I was interested to learn how China has been trying to develop its soft power on the international stage. They have been trying to promote Confuscianism, and values of hierarchy and authority. Basically, 'wow, look how good authoritarianism is!' and there definitely are some benefits - the govt can make quick and sweeping decisions in response to large problems, such as the gfc and the environment according to the Economist. It strikes me that when authoritarianism and popular consent (through democracy) are juxtaposed in the context of govt achievements, the former is better at getting things done, while the later is better at accountability, ie ensuring the right problems are addressed, in the right way, and that they are actually completed and successfully.
The reason China can interact successfully with countries that are supposedly diametrically opposed to their fundamental values, is that liberal democracies act as authoritarian govts, they simply do it for short periods between elections. Australian has appallingly short federal terms, and I wonder if it wouldn't be in the electoral mess it's in currently if the federal terms were longer. It's ludicrous to expect any govt so substantially solve problems like global warming or the gfc in just 3 years, or in fact to take an unpopular but necessary course of action so close to the constant threat of losing office. While Australia doesn't want a govt permanently in control like in China, I do think it needs to govts longer terms to more confidently exert their power.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
It was quite exciting to see the US federal court strike down Prop 8 the other day, even if that does feel a little premature given that it was going to be appealed to the Supreme Court and that could take a few years. What made it so exciting though was how emphatically Judge Walker struck down the ban, in his 138 page ruling - calling out all the nonsense spouted by the anti-gay marriage brigade.
What infuriates me is the level of response in the media from the loosing side. I want to scream every time I see another idiot claim that the will of 'seven million Californians' was ignored, it's the end of democracy, blah blah blah. Of course it was ignored, that was will was prejudiced and bigoted. Do people not understand why we set up political systems that protect all people's rights, and that we don't subject the rights of a minority to a popular vote. That is one of the reason the federal and supreme courts exist - I know this and I'm not even American. It seems all the right-wing pundits claiming Judge Walker is a left-wing "activist" judge don't even know what a trial is. He was presented with facts and evidence from both sides - if one side utterly failed to provide and facts or evidence to support their claims, then a judge ruling against them is not proof that he (or she) is biased, it just means you're wrong. To the anti-gay marriage bigots in the US out there, you had plenty of opportunity in a court of law to prove why you are right, and you absolutely and completely failed - you have no one to blame but yourselves.
The other point of this that I find so frustrating is that American conservatives are so insistent on not only being allowed to lie in the media, but by refusing to accept their outright lies, somehow that's oppressing them. I'm glad that the fact that they are just outright lying was finally pointed out, although not directly by the press, but by David Boies, one lawyers in the case, in a CBS article:
Perkins [from the Family Research Council] said the judge ignored "a lot of the social science" about the affects of same-sex couples on families ...
Boies disputed Perkins on the evidence: "It's easy to sit around and debate and throw around opinions that appeal to people's fear and prejudice, [and] cite studies that either don't exist or don't say what you say they do.
"In a court of law you've got to come in and you've got to support those opinions, you've got to stand up under oath and cross-examination," Boies said. "And what we saw at trial is that it's very easy for the people who want to deprive gay and lesbian citizens of the right to vote [sic] to make all sorts of statements and campaign literature, or in debates where they can't be cross-examined.
"But when they come into court and they have to support those opinions and they have to defend those opinions under oath and cross-examination, those opinions just melt away. And that's what happened here. There simply wasn't any evidence, there weren't any of those studies. There weren't any empirical studies. That's just made up. That's junk science. It's easy to say that on television. But a witness stand is a lonely place to lie. And when you come into court you can't do that.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
I was pleased to see Katrin Bennhold's 'Feminism of the Future Relies on Men' in the NY times, and I continue to be surprised the point of view she put forward isn't more common, as it has seemed damn obvious to me for sometime. It seems commonly acknowledged that previous feminist movements 'pushed women into the world of men' (as stated in the piece), which would seem to imply the logical question 'Where do the men go?'. If feminism has failed in achieving the equality it had hoped for, it is surely because it made the men's world very crowded, and didn't give the men there anywhere else to go. In her booked 'Stiffed', which I must admit I never finished reading, Susan Faludi interrogated the 'crisis' in modern masculinity, which is surely a result of the lack of progress in redefining the role of men in a society in the wake of attempts to redefine the role of women.
While for the mainstream of many liberal-democratic societies, it has become social acceptable for a woman to be a bread-winner or a home-maker (to over simplify the dichotomy), in fact, she is empowered by having this choice of two equally valuable roles, men are still stuck with only bread-winner. If they aren't, they gain little respect or value in the mainstream perception. Is it any wonder some men still push back on women entering their realm, when there is nowhere else they are legitimately allowed to go. While there is a desire for men to be better fathers, more nurturing, stay at home dads, those men are still perceived as novelties, as somehow exceptional, rather then being embraced as the norm, or standard that others should aspire too.
There is an episode of Sex and the City from a few years ago where Charlotte seems to find the perfect man, caring, intelligent, good-looking, sensitive and understanding, yet he squeals at a mouse, just like her, and reveals he doesn't like killing things. Charlotte had to dump him then, revealing that the only true value of a man is to be fearless, take charge, even brutal, and any other qualities are merely accessories. The essence of the problem of redefining and mutually valuing different ways of being a 'man' is highlighted perhaps best in that male dominated action genre. In the past the protagonist was usually a man, and in the end he got the girl, usually after saving her. In today's films, while there are still plenty of old school male leads (although the girls are perhaps a bit feistier), it seems men and women also enjoy watching female protagonists kick ass, but if she is going to get the guy in the end, she has to be really careful not to save him. Why? Because no-one, male or female, could possibly like a guy that needs to saved, that's just pathetic. How could a kick-ass woman be attracted to that? Until a mainstream audience can root for a non comedic male lead who is saved by a woman, feminism will sadly find it difficult to progress further.
Thursday, 6 May 2010
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
I've never really liked Rufus Wainwright much. I know he is one of the celebrity darlings of the gay community because he is so out, but I've always found him a bit of a twat. That opinion was only helped by his rather stupid opinion that gays don't need marriage, or at least he doesn't want one, so you can go marry your dog for all he cares. I'm always a bit flabbergasted when out celebrities claim they are against gay marriage, like Karl Lagerfeld. Do they really mean it, or are they only saying it for the attention, to be perceived as edgy and rebellious? Either way it stinks. You can be an anti-bourgeoisie, heteronormative capitalist system disrupting rebel gay if you want, but don't try to force you're way of being gay on others by removing their choices, or you're just as bad as the christian right.
Now Rufus has changed his mind and decided that he does want to get married after all, so suddenly he thinks that the bans on it are unfair. How utterly devoid of integrity. Guess what Rufus, it wasn't that hard to figure out the bans were unfair before you wanted to get married, but I guess you've just effectively demonstrated an inability to look past yourself. If it doesn't directly affect you, then it doesn't matter. Let's just hope the rest of our society is better then you at determining if injustice ought to be righted, because for the majority of people, the straights, don't want a gay marriage, just like you didn't, but you're going to need their help if you want one. What a twat.
Friday, 19 February 2010
Ah, what LOLZ. So glad that I follow @mariekehardy on Twitter, that's how I stumbled upon the conversation between her and @MyfWarhurst discussing the disturbing but enthralling Chatroulette. Basically it's a random webcam chat program - you login in are and randomly connected to someone else somewhere in the world, usually via webcam. If you get bored, just click next and go to the next person. It has already sprung up an amusing blog called ChatrouletteLOLZ. The speed with which an internet meme takes off is amazing. In this case I think it's due to the simplicity of the concept, although perhaps that is always the case. While it is still just an interesting gimmick at this stage, I'll be interested to see what uses people come up with for Chatroulette... it's never what you expect. I guess if nothing useful emerges from it, then it will likely die pretty quickly after the gimmick wears off. I wonder how long it will last....
Sunday, 5 July 2009
2. The way she treats Chuy.
3. Ketel One vodka.
4. The way she gives the comedians on her panel shit.
5. The way she gives the celebrities on her show shit.
6. My Horizontal Life.
7. Her silver fox.
8. She loves arcade games and has a Ms Pacman in her living room.
9. Kaslapis and pink tacos.
10. Gay Comedien: "OMG, can you imagine if you got to have lunch with Star Jones and Rosie O'Donnell, it would be amazing. They said you can ask them anything!"
Chelsea: "What, like 'Why are you eating all my fries?'
Sunday, 24 May 2009
This article in the LA Times is a great reminder of just how stupid Hollywood studios are. They are shocked to learn that DVD sales, one of their main sources of income is declining, and the more terrifying is that its the poor quality titles that are the ones with the steepest drop off in sales. You know despite the media blitz trying to flog crap, people seem to have better information from other sources about said crap and are refusing to buy it.
"...alarming, especially for studios that have thrived on seducing moviegoers into seeing mediocre product, is the realization that audiences are becoming more quality conscious. In the past, if a forgettable action film hit pay dirt at the box office, it would perform correspondingly well in DVD, allowing studios in greenlight meetings to provide a conversion rate -- i.e. that if a movie of a certain genre made $100 million in the theaters, that would equal X millions of units in DVD. But judging from recent DVD sales figures, films that had poor word-of-mouth were underperforming in DVD, even if they had enjoyed lofty box-office numbers."What's a poor multi-billion dollar studio supposed to do? Change it's business model and actually make decent films? Don't be silly, let's blame the internet. Damn that word of mouth! They should prosecute their customers for telling each other that films are schlock. Clearly that's the solution.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Newspapers are dying apparently. There is various analysis and commentary floating around on the webs to suggest so: Wall Street Journal about to go bankrupt, Chicago Tribune times, etc. The fear from this, to summarise from what I've read elsewhere, is that it will mean the death of quality in depth journalism. The traditional business model provided the resources, through classifieds, advertising, entertainment info, etc to fund the expensive but socially necessary investigative journalism. Of course, the content that supplied the income had little relationship to the important political, social and cultural content of papers, which was in a sense free. We've only tweaked to this since new technology has broken apart that model, striping out the revenue sources and providing them cheaper and better through other means (ie eBay, Craigslist, online personals, entertainment directories, etc). So who pays for the good journalism now? Only governments and corporations have the money to subsidise such an endeavour, but given that they are often the target of such journalism, it's hardly a sensible solution.
I want to jump to a separate concern relating to modern 'news', something of a non-sequitur. That's the beauty of blogging, you can just explore ideas and see if they connect, you don't have to make an argument. I've found myself disliking the tone of mainstream news, in print and on TV for sometime now, though I didn't realise it so distinctly until I asked myself, 'Why do I prefer blogs, and comedy news, like Jon Stewart or even Good News Week (in the good old days) to regular news?' All reporting is inherently biased, influenced by the personal experiences and cultural contexts of those who produce it. To be considered a 'public good' though, news needs to impartial, balanced and fair. Journalists strive to be unbiased, but they can never really be. The pundits, comedians and blogs however make no such claim to the 'public good', and wear their bias on their sleeve. Yet in doing so they have inadvertently become the more valuable source of information. My distaste for mainstream news is that it has devolved into, for want of a better term, 'Meta-news'. That is news that just describes the surface of things and doesn't describe anything deeper for fear that it requires making a value judgment and hence not being seen as impartial. Consider political commentary, particularly around elections. Rather then report on the merits and implications of the speeches, ideas and proposals of the politicians, what we get instead, in order to preserve 'impartiality' is reports of how popular this or that speech is, how this or that idea is playing out in the media or who is getting the most air time. Pundits spend more time discussing the perceptions of politicians (what does the latest poll say, what does that mean) rather then the actual ideas the politicians stand for. So frequently journalists hosting panels and debates never actually engage the arguments made, follow them through, rather they simply act as moderators, ensuring the 'right' topics are covered and proportioning 'equal' air-time to opposing voices. This format allows equal coverage of nonsensical, irrational, factually-incorrect hyperbole as it does well-grounded, considered opinions. After all, a reporter wouldn't want to seem 'biased'.
Anderson Cooper seems like a pretty intelligent guy, likable and charming, but watching some of his Youtube discussions on same-sex marriage for example, you have to sit through people making sensible arguments and then people spouting utter non-sense. (That's not to say there aren't some potentially valid arguments against same-sex marriage, just that all that is heard is the fear-mongering lies) They can disagree with each other, but as host all Cooper does is allocate time, and doesn't demand that his guests, you know, actually make sense. (Cooper is not the only one to do this, in fact he is better then most) In contrast, when Jon Stewart has guests on his show, it's known he has an opinion, and this gives him license to actually challenge what his guests say, force them to follow through on their logic. It doesn't always make good sound-bites but its always entertaining. In a sense, Stewart is popular for the same reason O'Reilly on Fox is, they both are willing to challenge their guests from a set point of values. Stewart uses patience, logic and wit to highlight the flaws of what they are saying, whereas O'Reilly postures 'openness' then just yells people down until he takes their silence for agreement. The same qualities are true of the blogosphere. Blogs, by their nature personal accounts, take the news of the day and slant it to the personal tastes and values of the individuals blogging. It's what makes them more enjoyable and relevant then traditional news sources.
Newspapers and other media outlets need to learn that today's audiences don't need to spoon-feed a notion on impartiality. That's not say that reporting shouldn't still strive to be unbiased, just that it needs to accept the bias too. Newspapers need to leverage the personal 'brands' of their reporters, presenting the news from their well understood value standpoint. I suspect it would vastly improve the popularity of their content, which can be translated into advertising revenue to fund the type of quality journalism that contemporary culture will continue to need.
Sunday, 17 May 2009
So I, err, 'obtained' a copy of S. Darko, and now aren't you glad that I did, because you don't have to wait your turn. I mistakenly presumed that Richard Kelly, written/director of the original Donnie Darko was involved somehow, I imagined that perhaps given the less then stellar performance of Southland Tales (neither a critical or box office success), that he had returned to the Darko universe for a little comfort. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I actually thought Southland Tales was good.
Once again its fascinating in an amusing/irritating/disappointing way to see big movie studios completely miss the point and not get what makes a film good. The Blair Witch was not popular because it featured shaky, hand-held footage from the characters POV. Donnie Darko was not the brilliant movie it was because it included a rising hollywood (Ed Westwick can't hold a candle to Jake anyway), or retro-chic period music, or strange-ghost characters, or scary rabbits. It was the beautifully intricate narractive, constructed with delicacy to line up like a rubix-cube at the end, around a core of superbly performed characters we care about. None of the humour, which gave the orginal depth and made the pathos more affecting, made its way into this hack-job of a sequel. The only positive of this film is, in taking all the superfical qualities of the original and turning them into something completely insubstatial, it has inadvertantly laid bare where the true depth and mastery of Donnie Darko is.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Aah, Tuesday night television. First there is Two and a Half 'men'. What crap. It disturbs me that this show is popular, and it's just ruined Holland Taylor for me now, I used to like her in The Practice and Ally McBeal. Then there is the absurdly awful 10 Years Younger in Ten Days. Why do I feel that the show was made in Sydney. Maybe because the goal seems to be to make real people look plastic and fake, and possibly make the yuppy aging producers feel better about themselves. One of the few make-over shows that makes me want to vomit when they do the reveal at the end. Perhaps I just don't watch enough of them. Turning people into alien latex heads might be amusing, if it wasn't so depressing that they are so willing submit themselves to such hideous humiliation.
So are the contestants on Hell's Kitchen, which is somehow supposed to justify Ramsey's behaviour. Oh, they chose to be treated like shit, so it's ok. Never mind the fact that he is a fucking awful human being. There is no logic or consistency to what he says, it's just pure arrogant vitriol and abuse intended soley as a power game, to psychologically destroy his victims. There are two possibilities, he either plays up how horrible he is for the cameras, or he is actually like that, but either way it is loathsome. Does no one notice the hypocrisy, after screaming obscenities at people, when one person dares reply curtly, he yells 'How dare you be rude. I won't stand for rudeness!'... moments after having called someone a fat, useless sack of shit. Or when he yells hysterically at everyone, then tells them to fucking calm down.
He doesn't know how to complement or encourage anyone, the few times vaguely positive comments filter through his insane nasty hyperbole, they are patronising back-handed compliments to himself. The argument that this 'training' is somehow necessary to be able to work in an elite kitchen it complete and utter bullshit, espoused by people trying to justify appalling behaviour. It's just food for god sake. Yes, you can be a perfectionist about it, but the end doesn't justify the means. Nor does the supposed 'high pressure' environment. Do they train teams of surgeons by screaming hysterically at them? It's nothing but complete ego indulgence for a puffed-up, arrogant asshole. Ramsey ought to realise that not giving a shit what people say about you doesn't actually make you right, it just makes you a narcissist. I hope Gordon Ramsey gets tongue cancer and drowns in his own bile.
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Dear my Blog...
I'm sorry. I've neglected you this past six months, and I want to apologise. You deserve more attention. There are so many things I want to share with you. So much has happened since I was last here... There is a global financial crisis. I was clumsy and broke my heart. I finally finished reading 'Red Harvest'. America is going to have a black President for goodness sake!
I promise I will make a better effort to keep you up to date from now on!
love Me. :)
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Given how stupid the world is these days, is it any wonder SNL is so funny. Gotta love Amy...
Friday, 10 October 2008
Thursday, 9 October 2008
I've been meaning to post a few of these vids from Jeffery Self on YoutTube ever since I came across them. They are hilarious and adorable. It's the sort of humour that is only funny because they deliver it so well. They have a small show in New York now, wish I would love to see, you can find a brief clip of in on YouTube, where you should check out the rest of Jeffery's clips.
That's right 5 videos in one post... deal with it! :P
Monday, 6 October 2008
How could I miss this?