Movies

Thoughts on Disney and Star Wars

I am a bit late to today’s news of geeks and I don’t really have anything interesting or intelligent to say. But I do have some boring mundane things to say.

1. I’m cautiously optimistic about more Star Wars movies. I don’t know why George Lucas didn’t make more movies sooner with how much money the prequel trilogy made. In middle school, I enjoyed reading some of the Star Wars novels (only have five still sitting on my bookshelf), so I imagined there were plenty of possibilities. It will be interesting to see Star Wars in the hands of different writers and directors, because, with the prequel trilogy, George Lucas proved to be rather lacking in certain areas.

2. It will be weird to see a Star Wars movie not scored by John Williams.

3. It would be awful to see a Star Wars poster with that childish curly Disney logo degrading the coolness of the rest of it. (I have no idea how they’re going to brand it.)

4. After buying Marvel not too long ago, it’s weird to see Disney gobble up another proven money-making franchise. It’s so fat.

5. With the deal, Disney owns LucasArts, which means they own Monkey Island. Ick. But seeing as how Monkey Island was inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, perhaps it’s strangely appropriate. Still, I don’t like the thought.

6. The Star Wars Holiday Special would fit right in with the rest of the Disney Channel’s programming! It even already has singers! Maybe just add a laugh track.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

The Hobbit music

Oh boy, I can’t wait for the movie The Hobbit! I especially look forward to Howard Shore’s new musical score. I was surprised and happy to see this little behind-the-scenes video about the music. Oh boy!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

HUMPTY DUMPTY OF DOOM

I finally found this clip on YouTube! I thought it would be too obscure.

When I was four or five years old, this Humpty Dumpty scared me to death. I could rarely bring myself to watch it. Even now, there’s something sinister and demonic about the way he smiles. It’s like he knows he’s going to fall and thinks pain and death is funny. Look at him, smiling even when his head is cracked off. He is the devil.

And if that knowing perverse smile and those big out-of-sync eyes don’t remind you of all that is dark and deathly, just hear that deep voice of doom as it recites Dumpty’s fate, bellowing as if out of the depths of Hell itself.

This was my nightmare. Oh, Humpty Dumpty, how evil you are.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Philosophy

Average

As humans, we often do not judge things based on what they are.  Instead, we judge them based on how they compare to other things.  “How smart is this man?  Well, let’s consider how he compares to other people.”  “How special is this person’s talent?  Well, let’s compare it to other people’s.”  “How good was that movie?  Eh, I’ve seen better.  I’ve seen worse.”

Say there’s a business owner who hires people to package and ship books.  He finds that an employee can, on average, package and ship 250 books a day.  So he gathers the workers who consistently ship less than average and fires them, hiring faster workers in their place.  But then the average obviously rises as the sample set changes; now the average is 270 books a day.  The employer continues to go through the same process, firing the “below average” workers and hiring faster workers.  From his point of view, he’s maximizing profits.  The more books he can ship, the better, so what does he care?  But the workers are the ones who will suffer; they will be forced to worry about not making ever increasing quotas.

The same principle goes with any system of judgment which measures “success” in numbers and values people by relating them to others.

There’s a moment in the Pixar film The Incredibles in which a mother with super powers tells her son with super powers: “Everyone’s special, Dash.”  To which her son pouts: “Which is another way of saying no one is.”  The movie leaves it there.  Unfortunately many stories and movies glorify the “specialness” of the main characters, the talents and gifts they have that nobody else get to have as if that’s something to be celebrated in and of itself, inviting audiences to daydream the satisfaction of knowing they’re in some way better than everyone else.

That’s right, Dash, you’re not special, and how dare you base your self-worth on the worth you place on others!

Now, who else is looking forward to the Olympics 2012?!  Yeah!!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

“The bored game” card game from a dream

I was on a train without a ceiling or walls, watching the vast beautiful landscapes pan by.  Miraculously there was no wind.  Sitting across from me was my good friend whom I had never met before.  He invited me to play a card game to pass the time.

Each card was about the size of an index card, 3 inches by 5 inches.  The man had a stack of what seemed to be hundreds of them.  They were brown, faded with age and use, yet did not in any way seem fragile.

I already knew how to play.  It wasn’t a game that you win or lose, it was just an activity game to help pass the time.  On the front and back of each card was written some sort of suggestion, some sort of instruction on what to do, but they were simple things that you could do quickly and right away.  For example, one said: “If you get a drink, your friend will probably want one too” – telling me to go get two drinks.  One said: “Think about the ocean and smell the salty sea air.  Draw a picture of it for your friend.”  Those are the only two I quite remember, but they were all sort of silly and stupid like that, and most included doing something “nice” for the other person.  (I suppose it might make a good “get-a-long” game for kids?)

Anyway, the game worked like this: you drew a card, read it, and then could either decide to do what was on it, or do what was on the back of the last card someone else drew (which was a mystery).  Of course, they were all “nice” things.  The cards never told you to do something embarrassing or cheesy or anything, like “smell your feet” or “slap yourself” or “say a nice thing about your friend.”

So that’s the strange card game my subconscious invented in my dream.  Perhaps I’ll put it in one of my books.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Chatbots pass Turing Test!

While most of the world was watching TV and surfing the web, scientists achieved the unthinkable: a pair of chatbots that can pass the Turing Test.  A recorded conversation was posted to YouTube just a few days ago.  Forgiving the digital voices, the content of the conversation is remarkably human-like.  This feat is both exciting and scary.  What will come next?  When and how will this technology start changing the world?  These are truly exciting times we live in!

(OK, yes, it’s an older viral video I just now came across.  But it was way too funny not to post.)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Genius draws circles and lines!

I saw this report on Nightline a few hours ago.  I thought it was too funny to not comment on it.

Padgett doesn’t have a PhD, a college degree or even a background in math.

Because it’s long been believed that one cannot draw or even understand geometric shapes without a vast mathematical background.

“I see bits and pieces of the Pythagorean theorem everywhere”

If you really want to seem like a genius, it shouldn’t be hard to get on Wikipedia and find some less commonly known theorem names to name-drop.  Like “I see representations of Pappus’s theorem everywhere, mixed with Levi graphs and Cremona-Richmond configurations.  Oh, sorry, is my genius blowing your mind?  I just can’t turn it off.”

Padgett can draw a visual representation of the formula Pi, that infinite number that begins with 3.14.

So… he can draw a circle with some lines through it.  Amazing.  (Also, pi is not a formula.  And since when is “infinite number” an acceptable description of an irrational number?)

Anyway, aside from the fact that the products of “genius” here are not very impressive in and of themselves (reports of musical genius savants are far more interesting), what really annoys me about reports like this is that they make it seem like a desired skill set is out of one’s conscious control.  It makes genius-ness seem like a “gift” that you either have to be given or can never get.  And I believe this is a very bad notion for the world to accept, because it results in a lot of people missing out on their potentials because they’ve been taught that they don’t even exist.  Which is complete rubbish.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

A farewell to blogging

Well, life has many twists and turns.  Sometimes we look at the path we’re on and decide it’s time to change courses.  I sure know my life is changing, and, boy, it’s been a fun ride.  Everyday I’m thankful for having the opportunity to do things and learn so much.  This blog has chronicled my thoughts and ideas for a long time.

I always knew I’d stop blogging someday.  And today I say farewell.  Farewell blogging.

You might ask: Why?  My answer: Because I thought this blog was going to make me rich and famous, and my dreams did not come true.  I tried to make this blog the ultimate destination for everyone.  I did everything in my power to try to make everyone love me.  And what did I get?  Indifference.  Neglect.  Sure, there were some good times.  But c’mon, were they as good as I dreamed better times would be?  No.  No, they weren’t.

So I have to say goodbye to blogging.  I know I won’t be able to do it anymore.

You might ask: When?  My answer: When I die.  I have no idea when that will be.  Until then I’m going to continue blogging as normal, of course.  But I just wanted to go ahead and say goodbye in advance while I had the chance.  Some people have the chance and never take it.  And then we’re left wondering if they ever even really meant to say goodbye.  I think everyone should say farewell to their blogs right now if they haven’t done so already.  Because you can’t take blogs with you to the afterlife, probably, maybe.

You might be thinking: Hey, Sean, I can take over your blog for you after your demise, just leave it to me!  To which I say: Blasphemy!  Blasphemy on high!  Only I can write this blog!  How dare you admit such hubris and arrogance!  Oh, woe upon you!

OK.  I’m glad I could get this farewell out of the way.  It was really bothering me because for a long time I thought I had to blog in chronological order.  And I do, for the most part.  But when saying goodbye to a blog, it seems best to step out of the temporality of nature and give a respectful nod into the blurry fog of the future, because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that an end to blogging lies somewhere in those clouds of dust.

By S P Hannifin, ago