Friday, 22 December 2006

My lists of things

It's a tiny bit hard for me to get my hands on new books out here. (Read: my South African credit card was stopped because of lack of activity.) So my list, which I felt pretentiously obliged to contribute is made up of stuff I found noteworthy in the Year of the Canine.

In this particular order, but not from best to worst:
www.linerider.com: I wish I'd though of that when I was actually making Flash movies for a living.
Orbiter! A space flight simulator. It represents all that is best in humanity: firstly you can recreate historical space missions to any degree of detail you care to imagine, and secondly it's free. Which leads me to:
The Attention Economy, which fits in nicely with the Hacker work ethic and that old Cathedral and Bazaar metaphor. This phenomenon needs scrutiny especially as it pertains to the future of China.
And looking up the above link to Wikipedia reminded me that, here in China, I am cynically prevented by a bunch of old men to do so, hence www.proxify.com also needs to be on my list.

Old books I got my hands on, and found fascinating:
The Russians by Hedrick Smith (1976)
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (Don't knock it. [2004])
Also got around to The Life of Pi (Yann Martel) and Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson.
Whatever. I do what I can.

Other 2006 timewasters included a 2D physics simulation programme called Working Model with which you can build mechanical systems and then watch them do devious things to unsuspecting pixels. Spent a lot of time simulating a bullet hitting a body. Half-Life 2 did that pretty well too: very playable and engrossing. Finished it in under ten hours. How disappointing is that! I still tinker with the physics engine though.

I got my iPod this year too, so that counts. And the surprise entry must be my bicycle. She brought me great joy, despite my best efforts to stay in my room for the rest of my natural life.

Music in no order except this one:
Wilco's album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
TATU & Rammstein's remixes. (Ya soshla suma, baby!)
Aterciopelados from Colombia... dunno why... just like.

Nothing else is worthy of getting more attention. Attention, after all, is like money. I'm going to be very selfish with it from now on.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Thespian's 2006 lists

Hello uit Melbourne. Okay, ek het hard gedink, en vorendag gekom met die volgende tentatiewe lysies van 10. Hulle is glad nie exhaustive nie, en dis moeilik sonder dat ek my boekrak en stuff voor my het. Maar here goes - in no particular order (en sonder links):

Movies:
  • Capote
  • The Squid and the Whale
  • Little Ms Sunshine
  • Hell
  • Happy Endings
  • Down in the Valley
  • The Chumscrubber
  • The Proposition
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • An Inconvenient Truth
Books:
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
  • The Exception, Christian Jungersen (dink ek)
  • The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
  • The Highest Tide, Jim Lynch
  • The Story of the Night, Colm Toibin
  • The Brightwater Lighthouse, Colm Toibin
  • Saturday, Ian McEwan
  • The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  • Ideas, Peter Watson
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

Monday, 11 December 2006

Multiple feet in as many mouths

Wired Blogs has requested nominations for the 2006 Foot-in-Mouth Award, to find the most inane and idiotic statement about technology. A few nominations arrived involving Bush and Republicans and a political flame war erupted. The foot-in-mouthness of some comments should qualify them for their own award. The main nominees are Bush and "the Google," the Internet "as a series of tubes" comment, some stuff about Windows viruses on Macs and... not much else. For laughs, here are the two main contenders, if the flame war does not make the whole thing disappear:

Viewing the Bush from above (George W. Bush):
"Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see — I’ve forgot the name of the program — but you get the satellite, and you can — like, I kinda like to look at the ranch. It remind me of where I wanna be sometimes."
Link (via Wired Blogs)

Net Neu(read: tube)trality (Senator Ted Stevens):
"Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got... an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material"
Link (via Wired Blogs)

Pollen's 2006 lists - #1

This time of the year I usually catch up on all the stuff I missed by trawling the net for other people's best-of lists. Before I do that and get all confused, I will start my own here, in the hope that my co-bloggers/ -horts will follow suit. It's not yet the definitive list, and as I remember things I will add them. Let's start off with 2007:

Most unfortunate disappointment:
The new Grinderman album, to be released in March '07. I was very excited, but it wasn't to be. I've heard it and it has patches of promise, but it is not overall good.

Best releases of 2006:
  • Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
  • Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
  • Current 93 - Black Ships Ate The Sky
  • DeVotchKa - Curse Your Little Heart
  • Kokeshi Doll - Tantalus Rhythm
  • M. Ward - Post-War
  • Mono - You Are There
  • This Will Destroy You - Young Mountain
  • Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
  • Woven Hand - Mosaic
  • Xiu Xiu - The Air Force
Disappointing release of the year:
  • Asobi Seksu - Citrus
Movies I enjoyed most:
I can unfortunately not give an authoritative view of 2006 releases as I missed a helluva lot of movies and watch a lot of stuff on DVD. This is more of a list of movies I watched in 2006 and liked:
  • Children of Men - those perfectly crafted, endless shots, the intelligence and the hyper-reality while stuck with a great anti-hero made this a winner.
  • Everything is Illuminated - I admit being biased because I watched it partly for Eugene Hutz as Alex (who was excellent), but it's a good watch.
  • The Proposition - Nick Cave's script was fresh because you could sense this was his first time and he wasn't constrained by the typical movie-making-by-numbers crap out there. I only realised how violent this was when I watched it for a second time. Excellent performances from all.
  • Tom-Yum-Goong - my DVD version doesn't have English subtitles and it doesn't matter - it's that kind of movie. For great fighting sequences and stunts, this was pure pleasure. Honourable mention should also go to Banlieue 13 and Fearless in this category.
  • Bin-Yip (3-Iron) - this was good enough to buy on DVD. The lack of dialogue works great. Best of the three Kim Ki-duk movies I saw (also Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring and Samaria).
  • Samehada otoko to momojiri onna (Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl) - an old (1998) movie, the inane and surreal conversations among the different yakuza members in various stages of waiting makes it very funny.
  • Sennen joyu (Millenium Actress) - I don't know why I waited so long to watch this. The scenes are beautifully constructed and animated.
Hmmm.... I need to think some more... this can't be all. And then there are still books to come...