Nov 26

Fire on all cylinders

We saw Catching Fire today.

Much, much better than the first film, and it had interesting things to say about how totalitarian regimes operate that even so-called “serious” films have never said on screen: namely, that the very rules that they establish as their modi operandi are also their weaknesses, for if they violate those rules in an obvious-to-the-rabble manner it undermines their very existence.

Of course, they will and do violate their self-set rules all the time in an unobvious and obfuscated manner – however, the point is and was if they do so apparently, they demolish their own foundations because “rule” like money is just an idea in a bunch of people’s heads more than it is anything physical.

Much more could be said about that for the film both handles this point subtly and capable and better than the books, but I also want to keep this post finite in length and I have to tell you about the character Johanna Mason.

Jena Malone (whom I didn’t even recognize) burns off the screen with this character. She’s a wild animal, utterly feral and unleashed by anything, and even though she’s fighting on the side of right she’s as scary in her wounded intensity and unpredictability as anyone I’ve ever seen on film.

I told my partner I was going to write a love song to her called, “Johanna, I love You – As Long as We’re Far Apart and You’re in a Cage.”

She said that was not very romantic.

The film was just filled with great performances, really, and subtle ones –  for instance, how Elisabeth Banks humanizes Effie Trinket without breaking character is just absolutely masterfully done.

And of course Jennifer Lawrence is Jennifer Lawrence – normally, someone like Jena Malone’s brilliant Johanna Mason would’ve upstaged her, but that’s not really possible.

Catching Fire corrected nearly all of the flaws of the first film, and even bested the book in some areas – something not often done. I highly recommend seeing it in the theater as it’s a movie that nearly cries out to be seen on a big screen.

Nov 24


It’s extremely odd to me that people criticize the premise of The Hunger Games as being outlandish when far worse things have occurred in our very recent history, and in fact throughout history.

I think this reaction occurs for a few reasons – people simply don’t want to believe that a society similar to theirs can possibly do not only such things but worse than what occurs in the novels. Another reason is that anything aimed at younger readers is automatically dismissed.

And yet another of course is that YA fiction features in their view too many female heroines and characters in general, as most people perceive a discussion to be female-dominated if it has above 30% female participation.

One of the fucking reasons I read YA so much is that women aren’t treated as sub-humans in the genre – and the writing is often a lot better and tighter.

It’s funny also that The Hunger Games premise is seen as ridiculous yet having 12,000+ people die of firearm homicides a year in this country is seen as normal, and having 50,000+ people perish because their medical care is inadequate – well, that’s just how things go.

People tend to ignore the horrors all around them, it seems, while concentrating on milder fictional ones.

Nov 23


Wikipedia is a great resource, with the caveat that approximately 10-15% of everything on there is either wrong or highly misleading.

This is better than conversations with most people, though, where 90% of everything stated is wrong.

A well-researched book in my experience probably contains about 5-10% incorrect information, so Wikipedia is certainly worse but not hugely so.

Nov 23

Whistle stop

Julie Fowlis while a great singer was originally known for her whistle playing. This video shows why, at about the four minute mark. Such precision yet with variation. I am wondering if her whistle playing didn’t lead to her singing style which is also incredibly precise.

Towards the end when she’s doing that really complex fingering..holy crap.

Like a lot of great musicians, she gets “impossible” notes out of her instrument – that is to say, she makes it produce notes that it normally could not in the standard course of playing by using mouth resonance and the like, which is needless to say extremely difficult.

Nov 22


This is true, but it won’t matter.

We all deserve offices. But it gets worse: We’ve been told that our small squat in the vast openness of our open-office layouts, with all its crosstalk and lack of privacy, is actually good for us. It boosts productivity. It leads to a happy utopia of shared ideas and mutual goals.

In the current climate, it’s very easy for some MBA to prove they saved x amount of dollars by eliminating offices, thus fitting more employees into a certain space. But it’s harder to prove productivity loss and it takes more time.

It’s just as real, mind you, and devastating. But harder to quantify.

Thus, the MBA gets a bonus for saving $200,000 rent a year, but meanwhile your best people leave over the next few years to go to places that have private offices, and your other employees – those who choose to stay – their productivity drops 20%, losing you $500,000 over 10 years.

But hey, the company “saved” $200,000!

Nov 21


I’ve been using WinAmp since sometime in 1998 or 1999. Very sad to see it go.

I’d vote it as probably the best piece of software ever written as it is completely stable, does exactly what it is supposed to do, is very customizable and uses few resources.

Back in the late ‘90s it was the only player that could decode an MP3 without issues on low-end hardware.

No matter that it won’t be developed anymore; I will keep using it until (as will inevitably occur) user-installed programs are made illegal, and even then I will break the law and use it anyway.

AOL bought WinAmp and pretty much ruined what could have been but it is still perfectly suited for what it does and as long as it works I will keep using it.

Nov 21

Luck and age

I lucked into an IT career. My other possible path was journalism, and if I’d done that I would’ve been totally screwed now.

It’s also lucky that I look much younger than I am, as IT has a lot of age discrimination. Judging by family history when I am 50, I’ll still look about 35-38 or so. Right now, people usually guess my age as about 26-28 though I am actually 37.

A few weeks ago, a woman who I talk with occasionally at work while discussing our jobs said to me, “It’s pretty cool someone so young as you is up so high up on the org chart.”

And I said, “How old you think I am exactly?”

She said, “Maybe 26?”


It was a curse when I was younger, as people thought my sister (four years my junior) was older than me. And I was carded at R-rated movies until my late 20s and accused of having a fake ID while buying alcohol one time (I was 25).

But now I quite like it. There is also evidence that people who retain a youthful appearance live longer, so there’s that.

Nov 18


What the hell is up with all the Obamacare defenders and apologists? I just can’t understand it. Are people that accustomed to servitude and kowtowing to their corporate masters?

It’s like someone punching you in the face repeatedly and thanking them since at least they didn’t kill your dog and burn down your house.

Nothing will ever change in this country until people are willing to say “fuck you” to such treatment instead of, “Thank you, may I have another?”