Friday, January 21, 2005

Why? Do I look tired?

The other day, after another long ride home from the office, DS asked me:
"Daddy, why do you have red cracks in your eyes?"

Try explaining that to an almost-four-year-old!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Love love love my iPod

It all started three months ago, when my favorite brother in law brought his iPod with him to my parents' house. At that point, I had read many reviews of the various MP3 players out there and thought it would be neat to be able to tote our entire CD collection around with me, but I couldn't quite justify the cost. When I was finally confronted with how small the 40GB iPod really is and with how cool the click wheel is in practice, however... the true lusting began. I told everyone that what I really wanted for Christmas was cash towards purchasing one of my own. Add to that a very generous birthday advance from my parents, and I was finally able to lay out the necessary $400. I did have a moment of hesitation over the price tag (am I really going to spend $400 on a music player?) but my technopile id won out and soon the little white & chrome gadget was mine.

I've had my iPod for about two weeks now and I can definitely say that it is the best extravagance I have ever fallen for. Thanks to the Monster iCarPlay adapter my sis and her hubby got me for Christmas, I can enjoy my purchase during my 1¼ hour commutes to & from work. Once I get to work, I put on my headphones and can listen to music all day on a single charge. Several small scratches have started to appear on my iPod, so I'm thinking about getting a case for it, probably an iSkin evo², 'though I can't quite decide on the color.

The iPod has a very bright backlight, so I could still select albums during my (dark) commute home. Instead, I have been putting the iPod in Shuffle mode, where it randomly selects from the 1800+ songs currently loaded on it. Some interesting observations:
  • I'm much better at identifying the artist than the song title – largely a symptom of having traditionally listened to entire albums rather than individual songs.
  • You can actually listen to Billy Joel followed by Kittie followed by Garth Brooks followed by Bif Naked without having your brain explode.
  • Songs stand out much more when they're not played in the context of an album. It seems fairly evenly split between whether this is a good thing vs. pointing out that the song was really just cr@p filler.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

[www] Les Chronicles du Shrek

Three of the more recent videos we've rented:

Le Pacte du Silence - Yes, this one's in French. And I suppose it might be intended as a suspense-thriller, but I didn't find it very much of either. Just an overwhelming feeling of ambivalence. If you're a Depardieu fan or want to exercise your comprehension Français... no, on second thought, you're still better off renting Jean de Florette and forgetting this one even exists.

Chronicles of Riddick - Okay, I really wasn't expecting much from this one and yet, still I was disappointed. There was the foundation for a classic sci-fi movie and yet it seemed to stumble at every turn. Don't get me started on the fact that this sequel contains another fire & ice planet with a breathable atmosphere. I've long enjoyed seeing Karl Urban extend his career, but the flat character of Vaako can't have helped him much. And Judi Dench? She apparently needed the paycheck. The "King Conan" ending screams that we haven't seen the last Riddick movie but, much like the second installment of Highlander, I'm not sure anything could rescue this franchise.

Shrek 2 - Funny movie, but Dreamworks is no Pixar. My first beef with Shrek is that it has no style, no soul. The animation is technically impressive, but it tries too hard to look "realistic"; the result is that you are continuously jarred by the bits that they don't quite get right -- particularly the facial expressions and lip movements. It's animation, stupid! The second failure of this movie was its plot, or rather lack thereof. Shrek 2 is really just a string of jokes loosely glued together; rather than injecting humor into the story, the writers injected story into the humor. And, as my dear bro-in-law* noted, the humor is very culturally centered; many of the jokes will be lost even just a few decades from now. My final beef is with the scene where pinocchio is revealed to be wearing women's underwear, a thong, in fact. This was simply not appropriate for the target audience, particularly given the duration and prominance that the joke was given.

* who can turn a phrase much more adeptly than I

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?

Given some of the heavyweights who responded to this question, I am (for once) not going to add my own 2 ¢. There are, however, a lot of interesting contributions to mull over. Some of those that stood out for me were:
  • Oliver Morton's statement "as far as knowledge goes I'm a consumer, and sometimes a distributor, not a producer" rings very true for me.
  • Paul Steinhardt comments about some physicists embracing artifacts of the mathematical models they use to descibe the universe as "fact".
  • Fellow atheist Tor Nørretrander's statements about the importance of having faith (and his use of the word ineradicable!)
  • Charles Simonyi's discussion on the "complexity inflation" prevelant in software development (a topic close to my heart).
  • Margaret Wertheim's statement "that there will always be things we do not know".
  • Esther Dyson on modern life: "It used to be that machines automated work, giving us more time to do other things. But now machines automate the production of attention-consuming information, which takes our time."
  • Lee Smolin's comments on quantum theory (another topic close to my heart).
  • Kai Krause's assertion that "It is about the anticipation of the moment and the memory of the moment, but not the moment."
  • The number of conjectures about the nature of consciousness including Daniel Dennet's belief that acquiring language is a "necessary precondition for consciousness".