True Grit

The Coen brothers' next film is a remake of True Grit. It's just a teaser, but based on the teaser this is going to be my new favorite film.

Letters of Note: You don’t understand "ordinary people"

I never realized that Stephen Wolfram and Richard Feynman had any contact, and this letter confirms many suspicions I've had about Wolfram's research into cellular automata.
"It is not my opinion that the present organizational structure of science inhibits 'complexity research' - I do not believe such an institution is necessary." .... "You don’t understand 'ordinary people.' To you they are 'stupid fools' - so you will not tolerate them or treat their foibles with tolerance or patience - but will drive yourself wild (or they will drive you wild) trying to deal with them in an effective way."
From Feynman's letter to Wolfram.

New Jerusalem

Look! It's a new film starring Will Oldham. I sort of wish he would just make films like Old Joy and what this one looks to be: a slow, somewhat depressing meditation on the human experience. Of course that would take away from his incredible recording schedule. I'm torn, frankly.

That's a lot of Megabits

It turns out that if you come into the office at 8:00 am then you get quite a bit of bandwidth at your disposal. 60 megabits? That's super-ridiculous and incredibly awesome. It makes me wonder what upload speeds are possible and whether I can put this power to a good purpose.

Open Source Might Save Our Social - Diaspora

I want to believe that there's an alternative to Facebook, but I'm very skeptical about this one: Diaspora. They're trying to build an open source, decentralized social networking platform. They have a dream and they're looking for funding:
We believe that privacy and connectedness do not have to be mutually exclusive. With Diaspora, we are reclaiming our data, securing our social connections, and making it easy to share on your own terms. We think we can replace today's centralized social web with a more secure and convenient decentralized network. Diaspora will be easy to use, and it will be centered on you instead of a faceless hub.
I mean, it could work, maybe, but how do you manage security? How do you determine which users can have what data? How do you calculate social graphs and discover new users? These are hard problems, and I'm not sure there are open source solutions to them.

Tron - Internal Narrative WTF?

The new Tron Legacy trailer looks terrific. The graphics are incredible, we get to see old characters in a new setting, and there are mysterious things happening. That's a recipe for success. But what I want to know is why do we see Sam pull out a Tron game (at :45 in)? What is a Tron game doing in a Tron movie? What happens in this game? Was it, itself, about a Tron movie that was embedded in the Tron movie we're watching? Are the events of the Tron movie in the Tron world considered to be real? Did Flynn create the game (and possibly the movie) based on his experience? Is the embedded Tron movie in some way autobiographical in the context of the film? I'm sure the filmmakers included the game at least partly because it was such a mainstay of arcades in the early 80s, but it sure opens a bucket of narrative worms. They should have just called the video game "Light Cycles" or something, because it sure puts the internal narrative of the movie on shaky ground.

Courier

I desire Courier in a way I crave few things. I've decided to buy an iPad because I have clients who are interested in it and it's part of my job to understand what it's like to use one, but I don't dream about using it. I do dream about developing for it, but a lot of what I dream about building is just a slightly different take on what Courier is already doing, or at least demonstrating. I don't think of myself as an Apple fanboy, but I sure seem to use a lot of Apple products. I was the first in my company to use a Mac for my work machine, and two years later almost everyone in my group is using one. My personal life and my career have been moving away from the Microsoft gravity well over the last few years, and I really didn't forsee this changing. I'm as surprised as anyone. And it's really about the notebook aspects. Putting things into a personal journal just seems so final, so insular. Once I write something down how will I search it? How will I find it again? How will I back it up? If what I'm dealing with is paper then the answers to all those questions are not what I want to hear.
With the Courier, though, I'm extrapolating functionality based on a few tech demos and some screenshots, but it looks like I'll be able to create a daily journal that I can add web pages to, that I can copy online photos and paste them into, that I can take pictures with, and that I can draw in. I'm also assuming that I can publish anything I create to... something. Maybe to my main computer. Maybe to a special website that Microsoft hosts. Maybe to my own website. It's obviously going to depend on what the actual device is like. I'm also assuming that the Courier is not going to work very well with a Mac, that there's going to be no crossover between content on the Courier and content in my iPhone, and that there will be massive, deal-breaking problems with the Courier's software that will keep me from buying it. We'll see where all of this goes. Maybe there will be a Courier-inspired app that I can use on my iPad, or maybe Microsoft will come through and build a device that's the first in a truly new category. But either way I want to interact with digital objects in ways that are analogous to how I interact with physical objects. I want to be able to be able to build meaningful digital content in new ways. I don't want to click on fiddly little menus and UI objects that are meant to be clicked with a mouse. I want to live in the future.

Fusion, Humpbacks and Bad Owners

There are a lot of possible ways to create a fusion reaction, but muon-catalyzed fusion is one I didn't even know existed before today. The essential idea is that if you replace some electrons in hydrogen isotopes with muons, then you allow two atoms to get closer than they would otherwise, maybe even so close that the strong force is able to dominate and allow the two atoms to fuse. Neat idea, but lots of problems with it.

There's a lot we don't know about humpback whales, but we now know a few new things. For the first time the mating battles between rival humpback whale males has been filmed. Make sure you scroll down the page for the "making of" video. Free diving in a pod of 40 ton whales? Puts my average day to shame.

If you're going to be a jackass, it's best not to be a jackass in email. At some point one of your employees is going to send your tirade to a popular NYC-centric blog and expose your jackassery to the whole world. I'd quote from the email, but there's more profanity than I feel comfortable cutting and pasting.

Deer, Grapefruit and Ricky Jay

This is a new format for me. For the next week or so I'm going to keep track of what I find on the web that really tweaks my noodle and I'm going to post about it. I guess that's what a weblog is supposed to be - a log of your web browsing - but in the past I've always tried to turn it (unsuccessfully) into a place for long form essays.

Browsing kottke.org this morning I was dazzled by this cover of the Beyonce song Single Ladies by Pomplamoose. It's in a format that they're calling a "Videosong" where everything you hear is shown at some point and there's no lip-synching or pantomime. If someone is playing an instrument, you're hearing what they played.

Constrained art forms like this often yield amazing results. It's as though the harder it is to fit your art into a certain shape the harder you end up working to fit the requirements. Of course, that also means you work harder on it than you would otherwise. Pomplamoose's results aren't typical, but they are incredible.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIr8-f2OWhs]

It's hard to describe exactly how much I love watching Ricky Jay at work. He operates on some other plane that gives him enough insight into other people to bend them to his will. Seeing him relieve this group of unsuspecting marks of their pocket money is like watching a live-action Mamet film.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHxVpRvlCfI]

For years I've been laboring under the delusion that a male deer is called a "hart", which is true, but only if you were born several centuries ago or you're talking about heraldry.

According to the Wikipedia the proper modern name for a male deer is a "stag", but only if they're medium sized. If they're very large they're called a "bull". I'm continually fascinated by the huge portion of the English vocabulary that's reserved for describing animals, especially game animals.

A Plea To Jet Blue

Sure, you're the scrappy upstart that wants to unseat the top-heavy behemoths who can't seem to run a viable business without government bailouts and tax breaks. And who could hate your cute retro ads that evoke a simpler, cooler time? But when you left us stranded in Atlantic City for 4 hours I vowed to never sit in your relatively comfortable leather seats again, and I meant it.

I'm giving you another chance, against my better judgement. I'm flying down to Tampa and back in a twelve hour timespan, and I can't brook any delays. I want to like you, I really do, but 'jetting' doesn't include massive flight delays.

The iPhone, Apps, and Mobile Blogging

I really loved my lost E71 but the iPhone is turning out to be a pretty incredible device. The battery life could be better and I sometimes miss running applications in the background, but I'm really loving it.

The vast array of applications is something you just can't get in S60. Yes, you can get your basic needs met, but Nokia and the Symbian Foundation just haven't put together an offering that's as compelling as what you get with the iPhone SDK.

The biggest thing, though, is that sing the iPhone is effortless. Apps load fast, they tend to not crash, and switching tasks is very quick. I still feel like the HTC Hero might be even better, but it's not an actual option right now. Once the North American version is released I might just have to reassess my options.

This post is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I'm sure that there are options for posting to Blogger on an S60 phone, but a basic Google query didn't come up with anything. With my iPhone it only took 10 seconds in the App Store to find several different options, one of which was exactly what I was looking for.

The programming nerd within me recoils from a closed ecosystem, but there really are undeniable benefits.

Specter Thoughts

Arlan Specter surprised everyone yesterday by announcing that he was switching to the Democratic party. This was received with much happiness by most Democrats, and gave Michael Steele a chance to prove once again that he never should have even been considered for the RNC Chair position.

Watching this video, though, Specter makes it sound like he only switched parties because he was frustrated with the poor campaign strategy that the Republican party has shown in the last two election cycles.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KdcPFd1Edo]

It could be that it was this poor planning that pushed him over the edge, but I can't imagine this video clip is going to serve him very well in the Democratic primaries. Switching parties just because you don't want to run in the Republican primary race isn't going to go very far with voters.

Festo

If what you need is robotic air penguins, Festo has what you need.