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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Reassessing The Big Lebowski

Even having seen the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski three or four times, I really did not like the film too much. I was annoyed by Lebowski’s unconsidered and Hollywoodified Zen posture. I didn’t find the dialogue particularly funny or memorable. I took the recent NYT article Dissertations on His Dudeness as yet another sign that English departments are way past the point of irrelevancy.

A few responses to my MeFi comment and a Netflix Instant View later, I felt a little different about The Big Lebowski.»

the shot

the Dude, Donny’s ashes on his face

my reaction

I think Donny’s ashes in Lebowski’s face is FUNNY!

end of article

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Demise of Naiveté

This time of year is always a mixed bag for me. I grew up in a largely Korean household which practiced no distinct holiday traditions. Christmas gift-giving was limited mainly to adults giving gifts to the children. The season holds little of the spiritual meaning so important to other families, and the emotional bonds that keep families close during the holidays are in my family thin. My brother Houston’s birthday is the day after Christmas. Houston died fourteen years ago, so the season surrounding his birthday is emotionally complicated for me and my mother.1

This year has been one of enormous change. Pam and I returned to our home state, me leaving a career and profession I no longer loved enough that I could devote my life to it.» Last week, Pam and I went to Lady GaGa’s Monster Ball concert which, for me, was partly a chance to experience (and to collectively bring into being) an icon of superpostmodernity, one that advances postmodern excess and fatalistic irony past the sublime, rewriting them as a posture legible as posture. GaGa’s pose is openly contrived and open about its contrivance. A partial bulwark against cynicism, GaGa’s self-construction in plain sight hints at a possible end to susceptible credulousness, the other side of Lyotard’s defintion of the postmodern as credulity toward metanarratives.

Last night I watched Eric Steel’s The Bridge,spoiler »

Frank Rich considers the scandal du jour and notes such scams depend on the fact that people wanted to believe what they wanted to believe. The media suppression of the conflict between Tiger’s picture-perfect family life and his marathon womanizing depends on a willingness to be deceived that is similar (for Rich) to the susceptibility of government bureaus and the energy industry to the Enron deception, similar to the credulousness of the mortgage industry and financial sectors to the fantasy of endless real estate growth, and similar (for me) to the unquestioning belief that everything will be OK.

Depressing as all get out, I know. I think I’m trying to get at the possibility of hope. You see, if we retain the lessons of postmodernism, put to use our knowledge that manufactured media identity is benign fantasy at best and active deception at worst, we can reserve our trust for things evidenced with our own senses. By interpreting much of what we are presented with as probable illusions that, if believed, produce dangerous consequences, we render these objects instances of the superpostmodern, mirages dispelled by likelihood and probability.

end of article

1 He would have been 40 this year.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega Should Be Fired

Ralph de la Vega begs AT&T shareholders to fire him

Not just Ralph de la Vega, but the whole layer of management that reports to de la Vega regarding corporate strategy, public relations, product development, and consumer sales should be fired.1 Besides the obvious hint at a future grab-for-cash dropped in recent remarks, de la Vega and other high-level AT&T managers don’t understand that AT&T’s primary business is to sell network services. If they did, why in the name of all that’s true and good would AT&T want to throttle their most active network users? Silly me. I forgot AT&T thinks their business is milking the cash cow.

Potty-mouth Dan Lyons (language NSFW) masquerading as Steve Jobs makes the point humorously and effectively when he writes

So let’s talk traffic. We’ve got people who love this goddamn phone so much that they’re living on it. Yes, that’s crushing your network. Yes, 3% of your users are taking up 40% of your bandwidth. You see this as a bad thing. It’s not. It’s a good thing. It’s a blessing. It’s an indication that people love what we’re [Apple and AT&T] doing, which means you now have a reason to go out and double or triple or quadruple your damn network capacity. Jesus! I can’t believe I’m explaining this to you. You’re in the business of selling bandwidth. That pipe is what you sell. Right now what the market is telling you is that you can sell even more! Lots more! Good Lord. The world is changing, and you’re right in the sweet spot.

end of article

1 To the extent that they cannot be made to understand their core business.

Thursday, 03 December 2009

Problems with Snow Leopard Finder File Sizes

With Snow Leopard, Finder started reporting file sizes in base-10 rather than base-2. This means that when 10.6 users install a 500 GB hard drive, Finder will report that there are 500 GB available on the drive. The practical aspect of this is that everyting is bigger by an order of 24K per 1000. Hard drives are bigger but so are the files that they hold.

This wouldn’t really even be noticeable if 1) this were not the age of the Internet and 2) if every other utility in 10.6 did not continue to use base-2 file sizes. /usr/bin/du reports base-2 file sizes. When Apache gets a directory listing and serves it up to an http client, it reports base-2 file sizes.

Finder reports in base-10

Apache reports in base-2

I’ve been especially vexed by these discrepancies during a recent filing project which involved tens of millions of files totalling in the low terabyte range. I’d occasionlly run to Finder for a quick heads up on size totals only to receive a completely different total when using /user/bin/du.

Apple should reconcile these discrepancies. Not only do they complicate and disrupt workflow, but in some cases they lead web developers to report erroneous information.1 2

end of article

1 Where by “erroneous” I mean base-10.
2 I filed a bug report with Apple this morning.

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