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present
  • 310188.1026

    Master mathmetician Roger Penrose intersects math, physics, neuroscience and cosmology to attempt to answer "the big question." While he gets as close as anyone could have in 1990, he fails tantalizingly to convince readers that outerspace and the brain's innerspace are integrally related. Like a fundamentalist he begins with Turing and using that as a model for the human brain's A.I., he ventures from algorithm to particle theory to cosmology to neuroscience. His detractors (like Edelman) make mincemeat out of his simplistic computational aspects of the brain, but Penrose is going for the biggest picture possible: space/geologic-time. Like Tipler-Barrow's Anthropic Comsological Principle, which he cites repeatedly, Penrose has built a key foundation for time-travel in multiple dimensions.

    Top: The big-bang eventually splinters into black hole singularity Bottom: Particle-wave theory. Two slits reveal how photons (light) behave like particles AND waves.

     

  • 310187.1040

    The masterpiece of analog cinema, Stanley Kubrick's 2001, simulated all levels of digital through unadulterated waveforms. HAL 9000, circuitry board repairs, guidance simulations, even picture-phone calls, all are imagined digital elements rendered through analog craft. A voice tempered Douglas Rain imitates a digital computer while thousands of hours on animation stands give screens the appearance of digital computation. Its insurmountable visual effects simulating space-travel were also rendered through time-consuming animation stand compositing. Original camera negative was sometimes stored for months as mattes were designed in multiple passes scheduled weeks apart. Never before or since have analog techniques been tweaked to such extremes. Now 2001 has made the crossover into a digital medium for large-scale projection. Museum of the Moving Image is screening the new DCP version of 2001 as part of its new See It Big! series (also making its DCP premiere Apocalypse Now Redux).

  • 310187.0947

    Mark Cuban makes his case in the WSJ that high-speed trading constitutes a new form of hacking. His blogpost in 2010 goes into greater detail.

  • 310181.1731

    Legendary director Chung Cheng Wa presents his two great films Five Fingers of Death and his personal favorite The Swift Knight. Both are in 35MM and are shown at Lincoln Center's part of the New York Asian Film Festival. The master makes personal appearances at both screenings. Chung's mastery of plot compression and action potential is on full display. Humor parallels fortune, music is sung to augment themes, color and darkness are expertly played with. Treachery and righteousness go hand in hand as pre-Bruce Lee Lo Lieh masters baddies as well as his self. Despite his shooting speed (two films per year) Chung kept his visuals meticulous, saving close-ups for monstrous moments. His punctuations are carefully placed. Zooms that open fight scenes are precise. It's his style Tarantino copies predominantly in Kill Bill's kung-fu, but QT can't decide if he's parodying or paying tribute (imagine Kill Bill's MAD Magazine send-up, it doesn't need any new jokes).  Both are must-sees.

     

  • 310177.1952

    The Guardian on Televisa's role in electing the favorited P.R.I. candidate in the upcoming national election. Their exclusive:

    Televisa refused to meet the Guardian to discuss the allegations. It first ignored requests for comment, then proposed a meeting with legal counsel present. When the Guardian submitted a list of eight questions with a small sample document attached, a spokesman cancelled the meeting, saying the documents had not been not been submitted in a "timely" fashion.

  • 310173.0933

  • 310170.2130

    Climatologists predict severely low rivers in the southeast U.S. in Nature. On Thursday Nature publishes article by 22 scientists spelling out dramatic climate changes, and warnings about CO2 explosion effects.

  • 310169.2012

    2-D tablets are a distraction for the next phase of the game, personalized language development. That will be the domain of the 3-D tablet, when keyboard is augmented and finally replaced by Kinect-type field manipulation. Each user will start gesturing a stable language then transform it, personalize it.

    That's where Apple has to go, towards Kinect, they're playing catch-up privately, while Microsoft bungles its tablet prospects. This is long strategy, many are only looking at the next 16 quarters of the tablet. Think a decade.

  • 310165.0628

    There may be a cultural malaise in North America. The idea that we can improvise our way out of any problem suffuses our media, our myths, maybe even our ideologies, and it's spoon-fed unwisely into our children. There was a time North Americans made fun of these qualities more than celebrating them outright (late 1970s/1980s). Now we treat them at times as if they are literal possibilities. The Iraq War had its isomorphs between myth and reality. So does the 2008 downfall of investment banks. A growing ability to ignore facts and hope problems are resolved by accident, luck, or last-minute breakneck improvisation. Depression erasure in real time, with a rising number of adults tasked with solving humanity's problems munching prescribed anti-anxiety meds. A chemical assist. While software and hardware offer us better planning tools that extend much farther into future modelling, we operate spiritually/psychically in the opposite direction. No problem too great, no disaster unsolveable. Our biome and its ecology suffers under this unconscious, psychic desire to solve everything at the last minute, after it's too late, and our media is unusually complicit. Where does this occur visually in fictional media? Pixar is the myth's most successful proponent, humanizing protagonists that may or may not save us, or converting depressives through outright fantasy. There's something suspicious in its CGI euphoria. Sometimes Pixar's films even cause havoc directly. Finding Nemo is a sanitized and sedated version of Bambi. It's been modernized to mitigate human encroachment while the reverse has happened in the time differential between both films. Nemo's human entrance into Eden is portrayed as unintentional, misguided destruction (fish collecting vs. Bambi's hunting). Pixar doesn't address human paradoxes, it manufactures its own: Nemo's success started a mad dash of fans collecting clown-fish, badly depressing the fish's population. Pixar takes credit for its own misguided myths causing mayhem in reality's ecosphere. Sometimes even death is reversible in the Pixar canon. Especially when it comes to reanimating anthropomorphised robots, cars and toys. The joke on us in Wall-E is that Pixar gets us to the apocalypse on time. Human surviveability and Earth inhabitability are shown as secondary to the romantic interests of a robot. 'Life' as background noise. Wall-E begins with biological armageddon as a fait accompli. Children leave the theater assuming the planet is doomed with its rebirth entrusted to an Adam and Eve pair that merely turn away from their computer screens. That's heroism for you. It means that Wall-E is death-mask satire played as lightmare. If you can disengage from the synthetic emotions these myths manufacture, then the themes slowly become visible. Should we teach children through these visual forms of pharmaceuticals? In this link, a transhumanist named Munkittrick mistakes narrative devices for themes and finds hope merely that in Pixar, the animators personify the inanimate or anthropomorphize the non-sentient animal or robot. The essay is unusually skewed to serve the writer's transhumanist needs. He claims Pixar films incorporate no devices of magic, while their biggest franchise is about toys coming to life. Even essayists have to sanitize Pixar's messages to relate them. Consider satirizing Pixar as the animator of a Jim Jones's Kool-Aid commercial and you'll know where they're taking us...

    Selected comments from Munkittrick's essay reveal its message and cultural forms:

    (1)....I think this is a beautiful post. Personally, Toy Story sticks out as the movie most in line with your thesis. I’ve grown up with Pixar movies (Toy Story came out when I was five). Way down deep, it still makes me apprehensive to think that my toys could have lives that I’m unaware of. I think this apprehension comes from the fact that these toys’ happiness and sense of fulfillment comes almost entirely from the approval of Andy. I’m drawn to think, even now, what if the toys I’ve abandoned over the years have felt the same depression and ennui that Woody and Buzz would have felt if Andy callously abandoned them? Of course, given a little deeper thought, it’s ridiculous to think that plastic toys could have self awareness. They’re made of plastic, they don’t have a nervous system. But the thought remains, because it’s found a parallel.
    There is certainly something else, something non-human, which has emotions, happiness, sadness, which is largely dependent on my attention and approval. It’s the family dog. Dogs can be happy, sad, and even depressed. My best friend had a dog who died from depression soon after the dog’s sister died. Doug, from Up, catches the personality of dogs pretty well. And if we start to wonder if dogs can be people, then what other animals might be people, too?
    I’m a vegetarian now, and I don’t think it was due to Pixar movies, but I’ll say at the very least that it’s plausible.

    (2)....Am I the only one who’s noticed that the central conflict in all Pixar feature films is always resolved via fist fight? Except in those cases where fists don’t apply, such as Cars, where fenders are used instead. Let me think about this… Toys=fight with evil toys. Cars=fight/race thing with evil cars. Up=fight with evil explorer and his dogs. Wall-E=fight with evil co-pilot. Monsters=fight with monsters. Why the hell did Up have to degenerate into a fist fight? It started out so promising. The Incrdibles had lots of fighting, but it was a superhero flick after all so no complaints there.

    (3)...Key point that seems to be missed: Pixar makes CGI films.

    Unsurprisingly, Pixar chooses ideas that give life and human intelligence to otherwise inanimate, not-so-intelligent items (cars, toys, rats and so forth). That’s because it plays to the strength of the medium.

    It’s a bit like noting that early Disney films were all fantasies, without observing they were also animated.

     

    On the eve of Pixar's Carsland Amusement Ride's opening, Cory Doctorow picked his favorite maxims of writing by someone named Emma from the cultural intensive-care unit of Pixar.

    #1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

    #4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

    #5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

    #8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

    #9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

    #10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

    #16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

    #17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.

    #18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

    #19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

     

  • 310164.0910

    Why parade Jamie Dimon around a fawning Senate? Basic facts are that hedges grow exponential on key bets or die quick deaths if they make a series of betting errors. Their total loss affects relatively small capital footprints. Banks remain profitable by betting in all markets while selling securities, bonds and mortages. Bank solvency is obviously never guaranteed under these market conditions yet the Fed retains a key role as the 'gambling house's' bank. Banks are members of a class of gamblers, authorized by the S.E.C. Oxymoronically it protects banks (and at one time hedges, see Long Term Capital Management crisis). Can you imagine the Fed stepping in if Harrah's declared bankruptcy on its bad bets? Above, the hedge against losing a bet is insurance, still legal, still dangerous. A key reason Bear Stearns and Lehman are gone.