Print Story Yvan Eht Nioj
By TheophileEscargot (Sat May 31, 2008 at 05:31:29 AM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP (all tags)
Watching: Indiana Jones. Reading: "The Letter of Marque", "The World Without Us". Web.

What I'm Watching
Saw "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" at the cinema. Somewhat entertaining, but a bit of a disappointment.

I know people tend to say "it's only a sequel", but there are good sequels and bad sequels. A good sequel has to go beyond the original in some way. Examples: "Aliens" took some of the creepy suspense and body horror of the original "Alien", but added action and war movie elements to make a different movie. "Mad Max I" had a cop fighting gangs in a decaying society. "Mad Max II: The Road Warrior" took that further, to a world where that society has disintegrated completely leaving just gangs and villages; and the protagonist has to get over the trauma incurred in the first movie. The original Star Wars trilogy at least changed the backgrounds to the action: desert planet, ice planet, forest planet; and explored the characters further.

A sequel doesn't have be a retread: it can develop the characters further, introduce new characters, use different exotic background, take the ideas further. "Crystal Skull" doesn't do that. The backgrounds are the same jungles and temples we've seen before. The car chases are the same leap-from-vehicle-to-vehicle stuff we saw with mining cars in the original. The fight scenes are the same keep-slugging-the-big-guy as before. The sidekicks (hotheaded youngster, romantic bickerer) and baddies (cold-blooded mastermind, thick-headed henchman) fill the same roles as before. The one relationship plot twist is heavily telegraphed and predictably uninteresting.

Jonesy gets some lines about things getting harder than they used to be, but in the action scenes he's as inexhaustible and indestructible as ever. Taking the aging thing seriously enough for him to fail or lose sometime, might have made that a bit more credible.

Overall though, it is a professionally-made action movie, reasonably well-balanced, though shading into absurdity sometimes. Maybe worth watching if you don't expect anything more than a repeat.

What I'm Reading
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Covers what might happen if human beings instantly became extinct. Saw a very similar TV show Life After People a while ago, but it doesn't seem to be officially connected, though it covered almost identical territory, down the bridges collapsing and subways flooding in NYC.

The book has a lot more information, and covers quite a few examples not really attended to in the book, like the borderlands in Cyprus and Korea. Also has more of an environmental angle.

On the other hand, this volume isn't heavily illustrated so it doesn't have quite the same impact. Also the prose tends to be a little purplish sometimes.

Overall, pretty interesting, but if you've seen the TV version then you haven't missed that much.

Noticed that the book seemed pretty confident that cockroaches wouldn't do too well in a post-human New York with no heated apartments, while the TV programme seemed to think they had a chance.

What I'm Reading 2
Latest Aubrey/Maturin was The Letter of Marque. Expelled from the navy after being tricked into taking part in stock market fraud, Aubrey takes up as a privateer.

Good one, with some interesting stuff on the transition to the private sector, such as when his crew start singing shanties as they turn the capstan, something that's not allowed in the navy. Has a couple of good actions too , especially a tense cutting-out expedition.

One quibble is that things are made a bit too easy for Aubrey thanks to the wealth and influence of his friends. For one thing he's given immunity from having his men pressed, which could have led to some tension as he has to dodge the navy like the other privateers.

All Kinds of Stuff on cartoon skin vs lumpypants.

Wooden mirror.

Read at work presents books in the form of powerpoint presentations on a pseudo-desktop. Nice concept but limited selection.

Large study suggests boys are not intrinsically better at maths since the gender gap varies strongly with culture. The Register carps unconvincingly, basically saying that boys could still be smarter by a small margin.

Autobiography reviews. Henry Kissenger. The Age of Reagan

He notes that in 1988, conservatives who today claim Reagan as their own for his role in downing the "evil empire" at the time condemned him. Howard Phillips called Reagan "a useful idiot for Kremlin propaganda," and the Washington Times compared him to Neville Chamberlain. When Reagan prepared to negotiate with Gorbachev in Geneva, Tom Bethell wrote that Reagan was "doing what the Soviets want." George Will accused him of accelerating "the moral disarmament of the West," and National Review argued that Gorbachev was ruling in the manner of a "vintage Stalin." Others warned against trusting Gorbachev at all. The Heritage Foundation called him a Stalinist who "brought no essential change in the Soviet political scene."
< At least I got that much right | A brief, half though out, reflection on film >
Yvan Eht Nioj | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
re: cartoon skin by spacejack (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat May 31, 2008 at 09:53:18 AM EST
As they say in animation, the gesture is everything. Practicalities aside, going for highly realistic fabric and folds works against the gesture and action, making things harder to read. On the other hand, here is an over-ambitious failure that I can appreciate.

Whoa by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat May 31, 2008 at 10:38:38 PM EST
I love those freaky hands.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
The Register's take by gazbo (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 02:10:36 AM EST
Having read through it (but not double checked the actual figures), I think that the Register's point is pretty valid.  However, it is probably a different point to what they were intending to make.

What they're doing is shooting down the claim that equality measured by GGI is correlated to maths performance in women.  What is then inferred by them and their readers is that therefore women aren't as good at maths.

Wrong.  All they've shown is that maybe GGI isn't the driving factor.  Perhaps there's some countries that have an education system more suited to women learning, irrespective of whether women are otherwise treated well.  The fact that there are any countries where women perform as well as men is enough to suggest that there is no innate difference in potential between the two sexes - with one caveat:

Without comparing absolute performance of both sexes across different countries, you can't say for sure that a particular country's methods have allowed women to reach full parity with men, rather than achieving parity by increasing women's performance while decreasing men's.  I really can't be bothered trying to do this analysis (because it's hard) but a cursory glance at the data for Jordan and Kyrgyzstan (as trumpeted by the Register) does seem to show that it's a case of both sexes performing as badly as each other rather than women performing as well as men.

Meh. Maybe I should actually read her paper - I might find out she's already covered this.

I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

Annoyingly by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 09:12:57 AM EST
I could only find gated versions of the paper, so I haven't read it. Maybe I ought to boycott articles referring to unavailable papers.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
On bank holiday Monday by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 08:22:11 AM EST
There was a life after people-type programme on Channel 4. It was pretty dire. Repetitive, awful CGI, stating the obvious.

There was a good bit though where it suggested cats would colonise skyscrapers and learn to fly. Lol.

It's political correctness gone mad!

That was the one by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 09:09:25 AM EST
The flying cats weren't in the book. But I liked the flying cats: there ought to be some.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Yvan Eht Nioj | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)