Outstreched arm

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mini-review of "Fracture"

Fracture had a really cheesy script and poor Anthony Hokpins gets to play, like, Hannibal Lecter Lite(tm), but there's a lot to like about it too. Some of the smaller scenes are really well done, and Ryan Gosling rolls in with his Half-Nelson hangover and steals the heck out of the movie.

By the way, Gosling's vulnerable confidence (or what do you call it? Casual weltschmertz?) may get old very soon, but right now it's a very enjoyable new piece of acting.

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On Hofstadter's "I Am A Strange Loop"

I wrote this in an email to my friend Bill:

Speaking of books, I just finished Hofstadter's new work, I Am A Strange Loop. It's a strange book, indeed, though I guess that's just par for Hofstadter's course. His wife's death seems to have affected him quite a bit (most obvious sentence ever written?) His books following it are noticeably lacking in humor and wit. That's understandable, but also unfortunate.

It has many intriguing and entertaining parts, and he advances a novel idea or two, but it feels a little slapdash. It's puzzling to read a book of his that doesn't feel all that well... "organized", shall we say. Or perhaps that's the most Hofstadter thing about it. GEB certainly suffers from a similar lack of focus and outline, but it works in its charming, funhouse way.

Long-time followers will find much to appreciate but if it's your first book by him, you might go, Who is this guy and what's the big deal?

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Business ethics

It's awful to read a philosophy paper and walk away from it with nought but a joke, but I assure you that I got more than the following from Daniel Dennett's "Cognitive Science as Reverse Engineering: Several Meanings of "Top-Down" and "Bottom-Up". And even if I hadn't, one horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms, right?

The philosopher Samuel Alexander was hard of hearing in his old age and used an ear trumptet. One day a colleague came up to him in the common room at Manchester University and attempted to introduce a visiting American philosopher to him. "THIS IS PROFESSOR JONES, FROM AMERICA!" he bellowed into the ear trumpet. "Yes, Yes, Jones, from America," echoed Alexander, smiling. "HE'S A PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS ETHICS!" continued the colleague. "What?" replied Alexander. "BUSINESS ETHICS!" "What? Professor of what?" "PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS ETHICS!" Alexander shook his head and gave up: "Sorry. I can't get it. Sounds just like 'business ethics'!"


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Twitter is a harsh mistress

Oh, Twitter. How easy you are to both love and hate.

Has there been a more polarizing application/service/webthingy lately? You love its simplicity or you hate its pointlessness. You appreciate its brevity or you laugh at its minuteness. I tend to swing between the two, or sometimes - honestly, sometimes - I find myself just sitting there, contemplating how I feel about Twitter.

It's like those memorable ads which some say are insanely viral and entertaining, and others put down because they don't sell the freakin' product. Or do they, in some roundabout way? Who knows! That's how Twitter feels inside my head: it's a cute, bouncy ball of goodness which I sit across and ask, why? What are you for? And even when the answer is the zen cliche nothing, the fact is still that I sit there and ask the question. Twitter wins virally, but is that virally like ebola or virally like Dick In A Box?

I really like using Twitter and its sidekick, Twitterrific. It's fast and it feels fun for that half a second of typing, but then what? Here's the one thing I know I dislike about Twitter right now: there's no payoff. No satisfaction, no gratification. No comments, views, or any type of feedback. I send off short little bits of wit and rant as they come to me during the day, and they just disappear into the bureaucratic-like file that is my Twitter. I don't read them, but neither does anyone else, it seems. I have no friends on Twitter. If I did, perhaps the idea of Twitter as "social IM" would make more sense. But no one I've shown it to has wanted to use it. They ask that question again - why? Why would I want to use it?

So with no one to read and then tweet back (tweetback? is that a word yet?) what do I do? Send links to my tweets to friends? But then I might as well IM or email the tweet sentence itself - they're so short. It's not at all like blogging where I might put together a longer piece which it's useful to just link to for my friends. Sometimes those even get found by googling strangers. No such luck with tweets.

For me, though, the question is not why should I use Twitter? Too late for that - now its, why DO I use it?

I just don't know.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Dear John Gruber,

Dear John,

I really like Daring Fireball. So much that when you ran your 2007 membership drive, I felt a pang of guilt about reading without supporting and decided to chip in. You've entertained and informed me - that's worth more than the $19 membership donation, but that's all I could throw in. When you announced that we cheapskates could also upgrade to one of your snazzy new t-shirts, I opened the wallet that tiny bit more.

But here's the thing, dude - I haven't received my membership key or any confirmation from DF. PayPal sent me receipts, sure - but nothing from you. I emailed you (using your support and comment addresses) and no word yet. I used your "lost membership key" thingy on DF and nada. But hey, I understand you're busy. I saw the thing on your Twitter about drowning in email. And maybe someone got blacklisted somehow - you did for me or I did for you - so emails are ending up in the land of hiccups and lost socks. I've emailed you before with little comments about DF and you've replied.

It's no biggie. I'd like my cool DF feed and with the summer approaching, the shirt would be pretty sweet, but it's not an emergency. Sorry to blog this. Keep typing up mini-storms.


UPDATE: Got an email from Mr. Gruber saying that some users' emails have, indeed, not been reaching him. All is well!