2009-07-29

Moon


We went to see this at the Little Theatre yesterday. It was a good film for a number of reasons:
  • It had the tension and excitement of a thriller.
  • The aesthetic of grubby hi-tech was well done.
  • The technology was believable.
  • Its characters were interesting.
  • The dialogue was well written.

There were flaws though. I had a sense that the plot was a shade unrealistic, or worse, fell short on integrity. For example, it wasn't clear exactly what was happening with the communications to Earth. It's probably that I didn't understand it properly!

As ever with this type of story, the robot is the most interesting character. I think this is because it forces the viewer to think about what it means to be human.

Back Seat Driver



I dreamt I drove a car out of a driveway, but I was driving it while leaning over from the back seat. I could really only steer, although I attempted to operate the pedals with my hands. On the way out I hit two cars. The person whose cars I'd hit saw me and retaliated by ramming my car.

Afterwards I felt guilt and self-reproach for having done such a stupid thing, although I kept telling myself that nobody had been hurt.

Btw, I don't own a BMW, I don't even own a car!

2009-07-27

Who Moved My Cheese?


I love these self-help, motivational, succeed-in-business type books. Who Moved My Cheese? reminds me of the line in the Vicar of Dibley, 'I can't believe I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter isn't butter!'. Who moved Who-Moved-My-Cheese??

The message of the book is, 'just accept change and get on with it'. Well, that's often the best thing to do, but there's a sinister side to that message. What if the change is for the worse? Shouldn't it then be resisted, even if that isn't the most expedient thing to do? What about climate change? What about the resistance in occupied France in WW2?

The Brothers Karamazov


It's astonishing in The Brothers Karamazov (published in 1880) how up-to-date Dotoevsky is with scientific ideas. To whit:
  • Ivan's demon visitor talks of the 10 minutes it takes for light to travel from the sun to the earth.
  • In the same conversation, he talks of the low temperature of space.
  • Ivan mentions non-euclidean geometry.
  • While in custody awaiting trial, Dimitri talks of mind being the product of the activity of nerve cells in the brain, not a soul.
I tweeted my impressions as I read the book. I knew Dostoevsky was an epileptic, but I wondered if he was a schizophrenic as well. The 'brain fever' that Ivan suffers is described so vividly he must have had some first hand experience of it.

In Chapter 6, the pivotal dialogue between Ivan Fyodorovich and Smerdyakov is brilliant. For me, it is one of the great dialogues, up there with Jesus and Pilate in The Master And Margarita.

I like how Dostoevsky zooms in and explains the mundane details of how a great event comes about. It reminds me of Daniel Dennet's discussions of free will.

In the Life Of The Elder Zosima, there's a captivating story of the guilt of a 'mysterious visitor'. In fact I think the overriding theme of Dostoevsky's work is guilt. I feel guilt pretty heavily, and maybe that's why I'm attracted to these books.

Well, another great skill of Dostoevsky is to have high drama and passion, without it being farcical. I did find myself laughing at times though, wondering to myself if his characters were 'emotionally incontinent'.

Kolya Krasotkin: the most insufferably precocious child in all literature? Okay, only when we first meet him. Alyosha does have a moderating effect thereafter.

At the end I shed a few tears. Well, I did.

Lurid green face

I dreamt that I saw a very ill child, a toddler, lying in bed with a lurid green face. I said that he had to be taken to hospital. His mother said they were going to take him, as soon as the father came back. I said NO, the child had to taken to hospital immediately. In hospital the child was treated by doctors. I don't know what happened after that.

2009-07-18

A Mysterious Pattern Of Stick-Like Objects

Previously I told you about the UFO activity that occured in my garden. To update you, the mother ship is still there, but the curious rectangular craft have disappeared, replaced by a mysterious pattern of stick-like objects. You can just about make out the sticks in the photo below:

What does this mean? What are they trying to communicate?

2009-07-12

Metropolis


This has been on my 'list of films to see' for ages, and by heaven it was worth seeing!

This film is prescient about so much:
  • The Human-Machine burning at the stake, revealing a metalic body is pure Terminator.
  • Fredersen demonstrates Skype.
  • The first use of the Human-Machine is as an 'erotic dancer', setting the pattern we've seen ever since of porn and hi-tech advancing together, intertwined, into the future.
This is a silent film, with text giving a narrative. I like this, films should revert to written descriptions of what's going on. It would help me to understand what was going on.

The film is divided up into sections like an opera. We start off with a prelude, then there's an intermezzo. I like that too. After the prelude I paused the DVD and fetched chocolate / coffee bean dragées to eat during the intermezzo. I recommend you do too.

The main idea of the film is that 'the heart must be the mediator between the head and the hands' in the body politic. I take this to mean that capitalism creates wealth most quickly, but it's not distributed fairly. A compromise is to have capitalism, but tax income to fund a citizen's allowance so that everyone can benefit from the wealth that capitalism creates. If it does mean this, then I heartily agree!

Bristol Museum vs Banksy

Queuing to get in. It takes about an hour.


Sign at the entrance.


My nephews are really into Thomas The Tank Engine, so this caught my eye.


I hope you can make out the writing, dear reader.


You make your own mind up.


A touch self-agrandizing.


An animated salami sausage. This is part of a series of pieces where an animated piece of food is shown as if it's the animal it comes from. Eg. battered cod swimming in a fish bowl.


Now, someone who knows about art could tell me the painting that this uses.


This isn't a Banksy, it's a biologically accurate model of the AIDS virus.


See the note about the images of the virus in the media.


This made everyone laugh!


I'm disappointed that Banksy uses MS-Windows.


This animated mechanical riot police officer is disturbingly lifelike when you see him in the flesh.


The way we went through the museum, we saw this at the end.


Ironically, the biggest moral question is posed by the very existence of the exhibition, rather than its content. Graffiti is illegal, and yet here we are celebrating criminality. Would I mind if someone graffitied my house? Yes! Unless it was a Banksy, in which case I'd be rich. So should we change the law to make graffiti illegal _unless_ it adds monetary value? Well no, that would be ridiculous. Can someone tell me what my attitude to graffiti should be? Thank you.

2009-07-11

Memristor Minds


New Scientist has a good article on memristors and their implications for AI.

It seems that memristor circuits make it possible to build cheaper, smaller computers that use less energy. It'll let us build a computer that simulates a human brain, cortical computing. I, for one, welcome our new memristor overlords.

2009-07-03

FISHSUBSIDY.ORG


According to the FAQ on fishsubsidy.org:
For the period 2007-13 the EU is set to spend €4.3 billion in subsidies to the fisheries sector.
This is a gross distortion of the market, and terribly damaging for society. Please stop it!

2009-07-01

Imprimatur 016

New version of Imprimatur out that adds the following feature:

* Can now set a request to follow redirects.

Incidentally, I think I like the new look SourceForge. It could still do with being trimmed back to make it faster, but an improvement nonetheless.