Friday, October 31, 2008

Simon Amstell, take a bow

Email from Simon Amstell:


Tonight's 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' was due to feature a comedian and broadcaster who has recently let himself and his country down.

The damage he has done is frankly irreparable and in order to punish him and anybody who likes his kind of louche filth, this tainted episode will not be shown tonight.

We are however very grateful to be able to broadcast something more appropriate and slightly less entertaining for these difficult times.

Guests will now include James Cordon, Gabriella Cilmi and Germaine Greer.



Thursday, October 30, 2008

SecondLight is amazing

The press release on Microsoft's SecondLight did not do it justice:

"The brainchild of Microsoft Researchers, SecondLight is a rear-projection technology that extends and enriches the Microsoft Surface device through the ability to project images both through and beyond the surface display, such as onto a translucent piece of plastic. With SecondLight, the translucent piece of plastic can also function as a “magic lens.” For instance, if it is” passed over an image displayed on the primary surface – suchas a car – it provides a view of the “inner workings” behind the image. In another application of this so-called “layering effect”, the transparency could register images of constellations when passed over a surface displaying the night sky. The technology also permits gesture-based interactions with the surface from farther away than rear- projected systems allow."

Trust me, watch the video.


Almost Transformers

A classic from Merrick and Rosso.


What happened to the British sense of humour?

I am very disappointed that 21,000 people complained about Russell Brand's Radio 2 show.  I doubt more than 2% of those people actually listened to the show.

Your football team may be rubbish, but at least you had a sense of humour ... well you did until now. Come-on England, what happened to your sense of humour?

I know Brand tends towards band taste and occasionally steps over the line, but that is the zone where British humour is at its best.

If you missed the incident, read about it here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Glassdoor is a site that gives insider reports on salaries and the zeitgeists of more than 11,000 companies.

Glassdoor's goal is simple: To make salary and workplace-quality information as public as possible. The service is free, but in order to get information users have to provide information. If a user wants to find out how much, say, a midlevel engineer at Microsoft makes, he or she has to provide information about his or her current job and company. It's anonymous, and Glassdoor screens information that seems bogus or plain-old axe-grinding.

It's a cool idea and is packaged in a user freidnly way. Check out the site here.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The end of reason

Almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a humbled Alan Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending. "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief," he told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

During the hearing, last Thursday, Mr Greenspan came in for one of the harshest grillings of his life, as Democratic lawmakers asked him time and again whether he had been wrong, why he had been wrong and whether he was sorry.

"You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others," said Representative Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the committee. "Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?"

Mr Greenspan conceded: "Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact."

Mr Waxman noted that the Fed chairman had been one of the nation’s leading voices for deregulation, displaying past statements in which Mr Greenspan had argued that government regulators were no better than markets at imposing discipline.

"Were you wrong?" Mr. Waxman asked.

"Partially," the former Fed chairman reluctantly answered.

Since Mr Greenspan’s testimony, a plethora of scathing attacks on his chairmanship of the Fed have emerged. Many commentators blame him for the financial crisis. Much of the attention is devoted to the irresistible dichotomy of blaming Mr Greenspan for the current turmoil, having previously worshipped him as the god of all things shiny and bling.

Following the attacks on Mr Paulson, Dr Bernanke, every CEO on Wall Street and now Mr Greenspan, it appears that the Government and the media’s appetite for blaming people for this crisis is insatiable. Don’t get me wrong, I have little sympathy for investment bankers or government officials. What is intriguing is that apparently, while Mr Greenspan and other officials were blundering about the Fed and investment bankers were indulging their narcissistic desires, every senator, journalist and media blog commentator could see the crisis coming and was waiting for the recession to hit.

If I had a dollar for every time I read a phrase like “one doesn't need a Nobel prize to know what brought about the collapse of the markets”, I would have enough money to prop up the economy myself.

Is the answer really that obvious? Ignoring the actual mechanics of the crisis, yes the answer does seem pretty obvious. Did most people see it coming? I think people knew it could happen, but the conclusion was too repugnant for most to accept.

So what was the cause? Mr Greenspan says it himself, we misjudged human behaviour. Mr Greenspan, Wall Street and the supporters of capitalism are guilty of failing to grasp, and possibly even denying, three key tenants of human nature: the primacy of greed, our tendency towards sheep mentality and a predisposition to panic.

Now that these traits have come to the fore, officials and the media are calling for a total rethink of how the financial sector operates and how Government’s interact with the economy.

What is not being discussed, however, is that these behaviours paint a very dim view of human nature. If we accept these notions of ourselves, then the implications go well beyond rethinking the economy. We should also consider the role of government and the design and purpose of social policy.

Is this really what be believe about ourselves? Historically, we have characterised the distinctive qualities of human nature in terms such as egalitarianism, independence and rationality. I suspect these qualities are still very relevant.

Surely one overreaction should not be addressed by another.

To: The citizens of the United States of America

A friend in the UK emailed this to me. Pure gold.

To: The citizens of the United States of America

From: Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years of electing incompetent Presidents of the USA therefore not be able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.
(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas , which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (Look up 'vocabulary'.)

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as '' l ike' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U . S . English. We will let M i crosoft know on your behalf. The M i crosoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist,then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. Australian beer is also acceptable, as Australia is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There are only three kinds of proper football; one you call soccer, Australian Rules and rugby. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

Inspirational pumpkin carvings

The LA Times has a photo essay on inspirational pumpkin carvings. I've never really been interested in Halloween, but I respect the effort people have put into these pumkin carvings. Check it out here.


Sustainable Clubbing

This is such a cool idea: Watt, a new dance club in Rotterdam, has a dance floor that harvests the energy generated by jumps and gyrations and transforms it into electricity. At Watt, which describes itself as the first sustainable dance club, that electricity is used to power the light show in and around the floor. "For this first club, we thought it was useful for people to see the results," said Michel Smit, an adviser on the project.

Watt is in large part the creation of the Sustainable Dance Club, a quirky company formed last year by a group of Dutch ecological inventors, engineers and investors now headed by Mr Smit. More than a year in the making, Watt is a huge performance space with not just the sustainable dance floor, but also rainwater-fed toilets and low-waste bars. Its heat is harvested in part from the bands’ amplifiers and other musical equipment.

"Our idea is that there’s enough energy in this world, you just have to use it the right way," Mr Smit said. "If you have a full dance club, there’s lots there, you just have to turn it into a usable product."


Monday, October 27, 2008

Bloodbath in the markets continues

Asian stocks plunged today, for the fourth day in a row, on concern (panic) economic stimulus measures (bumbling government policies) will fail to stop a global slowdown (recession).

Japanese shares fell to their lowest level in 26 years and the Hang Seng had its biggest one-day decline since 1997, closing down 12.7%. Meanwhile, trading halts were triggered in the Philippines and Thailand after the country's benchmark gauges lost 10%.

Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at Banco de Oro Unibank Inc, described the day’s trading as “a bloodbath”.

Japan's Prime Minister, Taro Aso, said he'd draft measures to help counter the financial crisis. For some reason, Mr Aso’s clear and definitive plan had no effect on the sell off. Perhaps Mr Aso should have threatened to write a strongly worded memo?

Yoshinori Nagano, a Tokyo-based senior strategist at Daiwa Asset Management Co, noted that “in this kind of market that's moving without sensible reasons, only God knows what's going to happen tomorrow.'' Very insightful. Mr Ngano also announced his appointment as Sarah Palin’s financial advisor.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, the Bank of Korea slashed its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points to 4.25 per cent and said it would buy up to Won10,000bn ($7bn) of bank bonds to provide more liquidity to the banking sector. The action came as President Lee Myung-bak said the local currency was stable and the country was far from repeating the Asian financial crisis a decade ago … ops, did he say that out loud? Mentioning the fact that South Korea required a $57bn bail-out from the IMF to avoid a national default during ’97-’98 Asian financial crisis was probably not the best way to calm the markets.

In response to a question about the Bank of Korea’s actions, Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, noted that the rate cut “won't make much difference right now." His reasoning, which I think is on the money, is that “they're really in the middle of a complete panic and probably part of the panic has been created internally by making a kind of ad hoc policy. They don't seem to really have a coherent game plan.” I pretty sure Prof. Hanke’s comments apply to all the economies in the region at the moment.

I think it is time to start selling my patented integrated futon-safe invention. You heard it here first.

(Bloomberg and FT)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My favourite election videos

These are my five favourite election videos for your viewing pleasure.

5. McCain Accidentally Agrees with Murtha About Voters in PA

McCain beats Biden at his own game.

4. Mos Def on being the President

Entertaining, with a surprising number of genuinely good ideas thrown in.

3. Ron Howard / Opie / Richie on voting for Obama

The Fonz really makes this video.

2. If Hollywood Directors Made Campaign Ads

I'm somewhat partial to the Wes Anderson video.

1. The dance off

The people who made this video deserve a medal.

From the makers of Baconsalt ... Baconnaise

I agree, everything should taste like bacon.  Thank goodness for Baconnaise, the ultimate bacon flavored mayonnaise spread. Read more here.


Microsoft hacks the Gibson

Microsoft has expanded its latest WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) initiative to China. The programme they are using turns the screen of computers running pirated Windows black every hour. Unsurprisingly, since a large number of Chinese computer users run unauthorized copies of Windows, they're fairly upset.

My favourtie quote in response to Microsoft's actions is from Dong Zhengwei, a lawyer from Beijing. Mr Zhengwei describes Microsoft as "biggest hackers in China". Big call.

For a change, I'm siding with Microsoft on this one.

(Reuters via Gizmodo)


Although I have a shoe cupboard in the entrance of my apartment, it lacks the sophistication of Kickit. Kickit is basically a giant brush, which catches your shoes when you kick them into it. Brilliant.

(CrunchGear via Gizmodo)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You rock Colin

Respect to Colin Powell for speaking out against the Republicans' racist undertones towards Barack Obama and anyone else not from a small town that went for W.

C. Powell: "I'm also troubled not with what Senator McCain says but what members of the party say and it is permitted to be said, such things as, "Well, you know Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is that Mr. Obama is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is: What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no. That's not America."

Read a great commentary on Powell's comments here.

MacBook Nano, iPhone Slate - NYT & Giz speculate

An unidentified Apple device has been detected in the traffic logs of some web sites. Check out the related articles by Gizmodo and NYT

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Par Wars

This week's Guardian Viral Video Chart provides a round-up of Star Wars videos. Check out the chart here.

1 Star Wars Kid
The original.

2 Star Wars: A Clone Apart - Trailer
For a computer game, the force is weak in this one.

3 Darth Vader being a smart ass
Classic cut to make Vader pull a prank on a lieutenant.

4 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - launch trailer
Another game trailer, better than this below.

5 Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager (episode 1)
If Vader ran a small local supermarket.

6 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Trailer
See above.

7 Darth Vader Cheats at Golf
Jedi-like Tiger Woods may be his only equal.

8 Star Wars according to a 3 year old
Does what it says on the tin, but funnier.

9 Star Wars: A Cardboard Hope
Very clever shoe-string re-creation of the death star's demise.

10 Blues Darth Vader
Poignant death scene hijacked for harmonica solo.

Special Mention: Star Wars - Episode IV - Trailer
Genius original trailer from 1977.


Should I boycott Borders?

io9 has an article about Borders' decision to stop stocking many scifi titles, which is very disappointing. I appreciate that Borders has to make commercial decisions about what books it sells.  From now on, however, I will be making my book related commercial decisions elsewhere.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Brokers With Hands On Their Face Blog

The name says it all. Check out the blog here.

(The Brokers With Hands On Their Face Blog via Boingboing)

All Day I Dream About Sneakers

'All Day I Dream About Sneakers' is a new collaborative project from Adidas Originals and Lifelounge, inspired by the brand’s avid creeds of ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ and ‘Celebrate Originality’. The project showcases the story and kicks created by the world’s original sneaker freak, Herr Fritz Träumer – a mythical and enigmatic sneaker designer who dedicated his lifetime to constructing the most original range of sneakers ever seen.

Check out the full gallery at Lifelounge.

Makes you feel proud to be a kiwi

Man who mooned police while car surfing badly hurt.

(via NZHerald)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Half awake and half asleep in the water

I came across this fantastic photo at Notcot. It was taken by Asako Narahashi and is titled "half awake and half asleep in the water" (2003).

The 39 Steps

On Friday night, I ventured into the Lyric Theatre at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts to see Maria Aitken’s production of "The 39 Steps". As I was walking into the venue, I realised how long it had been since I’d last attended a theatre production – my last outing in memory was going to see Sir Ian McKellen play King Lear in Wellington more than a year ago. It's not that I don't like going to the theatre, quite the opposite. Rather, when it comes to making a decision about how to spend my free time, theatre suffers from a serious image problem.

Faced the prospect of booking tickets for the theatre, my immediate assumption is that it will be a dull, cerebral affair – an unfortunate result of being dragged to far too many post-modern, 'high brow' productions in my youth. My preconceptions are not helped by theatre reviewers, who typically start their reviews with some sort of esoteric comment about the director and his/her use of "human props" or by commenting that the play "transforms its characters into archetypal puppets of destiny". Yawn … theatre reviewers need to take a leaf out of their 'low brow' movie reviewing counterpart's book: Say what you actually thought of the play in the first paragraph. I read the first paragraph of a review and if it doesn't grab my interest I move onto something else.

I've digressed. As noted above, on Friday I made my long-awaited return to the theatre, by going to see The 39 Steps. I'm pleased to say that the play was an absolute pleasure to watch, and was a much better choice for Friday night than M&Ms and a car chase movie, which was the alternative plan. The 39 Steps is light-hearted and somewhat silly, but the result is charming without being grating. The four cast members skillfully perform a vast range of characters and at times play several different people in the same scene.

The 39 Steps reminded me of how fun theatre can be. As a result, I’ve challenged myself to overcome my prejudices and go to see more live productions. Stay tuned.

(The 39 Steps)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fallout 3

One of the things I really like about the Fallout series is the beautiful jazz-age, 1950's style the games have. I'm pleased to see that this style has been retained for Fallout 3, the latest installment of the series. Check out these fantastic posters for Fallout 3, care of Bethesda Blog, which have be put up in Metro Center in Washington DC. I wish they would put some of these posters up in my local MTR station.

I recommend checking out the trailer, which features some in-game video footage. I'm not convinced about Fallout 3's move to first person perspective, but I'll demonstrate uncharacteristic restraint and reserve judgement until I've actually played the game.

(Bethesda Blog via Superpunch)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Excellent Politics Blog

I recommend reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' sophisticated and down-to-earth politics blog on Check out his blog here.

(via New York Magazine)

Park Gate

The Jumeira Gardens is a mega development in the heart of Dubai, which will include the proposed Park Gate complex. Park Gate comprises 6 mid-rise towers facing each other to form a garden space and create a shaded micro climate.

The shade is accomplished by linking the towers with a vaulted canopy structure. The space beneath the canopies is transformed into a verdant grotto. Vegetation is enmeshed with the canopies and exterior balconies of the towers, creating a highly sustainable 360 degree garden.

Robocop Riding A Unicorn

Check out this fantastic romance-novel inspired image by Olav Rokne. It's part of the Robocop Riding A Unicorn gallery.

Ni no Kuni: The Another World

Game developer Level5 has teamed up with Studio Ghibli to produce a Nintendo DS role-playing game called Ni no Kuni: The Another World.

Ghibli is producing the in-game animation footage. Apparently, the game's unique feature will be the “Magic Master” book that will come bundled with it. Within the story, a 13-year-old boy is transported to another world with the Magic Master book; the player references the physical copy of the book to learn magical spells while playing the game.

I’m interested to see how this collaboration works out. The development art for the game looks fantastic and the trailer is interesting (see below).

Ni no Kuni is due for release in Japan in 2009.

Anime News Network, design:related via Notcot)

World famous landmarks replaced by cheap souvenirs

Michael Hughes, tourist / photographer, recently unveiled his extraordinary holiday snaps of the world's famous landmarks - perfectly blended with cheap souvenirs. Check out some of his photos here.

(Mail via Notcot)

Dork Talk

If you’re in the market for a clever, entertaining, informative and acerbic technology blog, look no further than Dork Talk. Dork Talk is a weekly column written by Stephen Fry for the Guardian.

Check out Dork Talk here.

McCain Error: Reboot Plz

Oliver Burkeman has posted his blow by blow coverage of McCain's reboot speech. Check it out here. I think it’s too little, too late from McCain.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jewelry City

Mike Chan has taken a fantastic series of photographs of Hong Kong. Check them out here.

(Mike Chan via notcot)

“I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power”

Check out the full coverage from the Guardian and the NYTimes.

J.J. Abrams needs more Star Wars in his Star Trek

Check out Farks photoshop thread to help J.J. Abrams add more Star Wars to Star Trek.

(Fark via Superpunch)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cutting straight to the Chase

How do you advertise a bank at a time like this?

Is our children learning?

Maureen Dowd can do no wrong:

“I had hoped I was finally done with acting as an interpreter for politicians whose relationship with the English language was tumultuous …

“There’s W.’s gummy grammar, of course, like the classic, “Is our children learning?” And covering the first Bush White House required doing simultaneous translation for a president who never met a personal pronoun he liked or a wacky non sequitur he could resist …

“We could, following [Sarah Palin’s] strenuously folksy debate performance, wonder when elite became a bad thing in America. Navy Seals are elite, and they get lots of training so they can swim underwater and invade a foreign country, but if you’re governing the country that dispatches the Seals, it’s not O.K. to be elite? Can likable still trump knowledgeable at such a vulnerable crossroads for the country? …

“With her pompom patois and sing-songy jingoism, Palin can bridge contradictory ideas that lead nowhere: One minute she promises to get “greater oversight” by government; the next, she lectures: “Government, you know, you’re not always a solution. In fact, too often you’re the problem.” ...

“When she was asked by Couric if she’d ever negotiated with the Russians, the governor replied that when Putin “rears his head” he is headed for Alaska. Then she uttered yet another sentence that defies diagramming: “It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there.” ....

“She dangles gerunds, mangles prepositions, randomly exiles nouns and verbs and also — “also” is her favorite vamping word — uses verbs better left as nouns, as in, “If Americans so bless us and privilege us with the opportunity of serving them,” or how she tried to “progress the agenda.” …”

Read more here.


So greed isn't good?

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article written by Stanley Weiser, one of co-writers of Wall Street, on the infamous words "Greed is good". In the article, Wiser comments that:

"… if director Oliver Stone and I had a nickel for every time someone uttered the words "greed is good," we could have bought up the remains of Lehman Brothers.

"As the years have gone by, it's heartening to see how popular the film has remained. But what I find strange and oddly disturbing is that Gordon Gekko has been mythologized and elevated from the role of villain to that of hero.

"… In developing the character of Gordon Gekko, I formed an amalgam of disgraced arbitrageur Ivan Boesky, corporate raider Carl Icahn, and his lesser-known art-collecting compatriot Asher Edelman. Add a dash of Michael Ovitz and a heaping portion of, yes, my good friend and esteemed colleague Stone (who came up with the character's name) -- and there you have the rough draft of 'Gekko the Great.'

"Gekko's dialogue actually was inspired by Stone's own rants. Listening to Oliver's early morning cajoling and sarcastic phone calls (I write at night) exhorting me to work: "Where the hell are you? Out having a gourmet breakfast, playing with the kids in the park?" Or: "The one thing you don't do is everything I tell you to do; next time write a note and pin it on your . . . forehead." Other unpublishable barbs proved to be the precise varnish with which I needed to coat Gekko."

What, Gekko is based on Oliver Stone? Well that’s that sacred cow dragged down. Perhaps the hordes of MBA 'well I guess I'll just join an ibank and become an egotistical megalomaniac' graduates, will now start lining up to be film directors?

Weiser’s thrust is that people have misunderstood Gekko, which is true. Weiser, however, seems to undervalue the fact that Gekko, despite being underhanded and despicable, also displays ‘admirable’ qualities, for example he’s smart, decisive and charming. I find the most memorable villains are the ones I grudgingly respect and admire. This is often because the villain is very similar to the hero, but circumstances have led them down a different path. I like the Gekko / Fox relationship not just because Fox is one step away from being Gekko, but also because Gekko is only one step away from being Fox (although this sentence reads like a truism, I think you get what I mean).

This villain/hero crossover is what Mr Lucus tried to reverse engineer into Star Wars, but ended running a master class in character assassination. Lucas needs to spend a quiet afternoon watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Mr Nolan did an excellent job of tackling this whole issue by mixing villainous and heroic qualities across all his characters. My favourite character is the Joker, who yields a knack for strategy and guile not seen since Homer unleashed Odysseus (I acknowledge this may be hyperbole).

Weiser concludes by noting: “Several months ago, I was at Stone's office and I saw him autograph a "Wall Street" poster. Above his name, he wrote, "Greed is a bummer."”

Los Angeles Times)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Joshua Middleton

I came across Joshua Middleton's site on Notcot. I really like some of his work, particularly the NYX stuff. Check out his wesite here.

I think I'll wander down the comic shop this weekend and see if I can find issues #1 - 4 of NYX.

The case of the $3m overhead projector

During Tuesday night’s Presidential Debate, Senator McCain chastise Senator Obama over earmarks, in particular for an exorbitant earmark for an overhead projector.

“[Obama] voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel earmark projects, including, by the way, $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois.”

That must be one hell of an overhead projector.

Fortunately, to save me and others from our curiosity, Gearlog did some investigating and found out that appropriation was requested by the Adler Planetarium to replace an awesome (but obsolete) 40-year old Zeiss Mark VI star projector with a newer model (pictured above).

Adler Planetarium Press Release: "The Adler's Zeiss Mark VI projector - not an overhead projector - is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler's projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler's 78 years of operation."

The earmark was not approved. McCain triumphs over science again!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wow - Little Big Computer

Amazing, this deserves a wider audience.

(via Notcot)

Money for nothing

Like Sarah Palin, I read the New York Times. However, on Sunday, while Ms Palin was reading about Mr Ayers, I was reading about the brilliant Laura Gilbert.

Ms Gilbert, a Manhattan-based artist, is employing her creativity to protest what she calls “the current economic calamity.” Ms. Gilbert plans to stand on Wall Street this week and give away signed and numbered originals of “The Zero Dollar,” a slightly downsized rendering of the $1 bill with zeros in place of the ones.

Ms. Gilbert, who began working on the print after the fall of Bear Stearns earlier this year, sees the dollar bill as “symbolic of America’s stature in the world.” As a reflection of the crisis in the financial markets, she has tried to lower the monetary value of the print itself to zero by creating a very large edition of 10,000.

(NYTimes and Notcot)

It must be a sign

This certainly isn’t the reassuring sign the markets currently crave: The National Debt Clock near Times Square in New York (I know, to most people its obvious, but we have a Times Square here in Hong Kong as well), has just run out of spaces to add more zeroes to its running count of US national debt. The recent debt digit expansion is due to the one-two punch of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and the $100 billion used to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Given the way things are heading, it might be worth adding space for a couple more digits.

(WKYC via Gizmodo)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Top 10 Films

Everyone loves a good list and sleepyanimal is no exception. Inspired by this month's Empire magazine, which features The Greatest 500 Movies Of All Time, sleepyanimal has challenged me to come up with my top 10 films.

I find it extremely difficult to come up with these sorts of lists. Inevitably, as soon as I’ve draft my top 10, I’ll come up with 10 other films I wish I’d put on the list. There is then a period of self-doubt – should I pick films I like to re-watch or films that have inspired me? Art-house v popular. Comedy v action ... Ultimately, the process dissolves into a bitter inner struggle, as I try to debate with myself on the comparative strengths of each film …

Notwithstanding the difficult process outlined above, I have managed to come up with my top 10 films. You can find it below, under Empire’s top 10 and sleepyanimal’s top 8.

Empire’s top 10 films

10. Fight Club
9. Pulp Fiction
8. Singin’ In The Rain
7. Apocalypse Now
6. Goodfellas
5. Jaws
4. The Shawshank Redemption
3. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
2. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
1. Godfather

sleepyanimal’s top 8 films

8. Ferris Bueller
7. Iron Man
6. The Prestige
5. Spellbound
4. Lilo and Stitch
3. The Royal Tenenbaums
2. Lost in Translation
1. This is Spinal Tap

Si’s top 10 films

10. Ying Xiong ("Hero")

9. Spirited Away
8. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. Blade Runner
6. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
5. The Princess Bride
4. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
3. The Matrix
2. Life Aquatic
1. Lost in Translation

(Empire and sleepyanimal)

Monday, October 6, 2008

io9: Ridley Scott Confirms He's Making Brave New World

io9 has reported that Ridley Scott will be directing an adaption of Aldous Huxley's classic dystopian novel Brave New World. Read the article here.

Leonardo DiCaprio's production company is behind the project and it sounds as though Leo himself with be heavily involved.

I'm a big fan of Brave New World. I've also had a long held belief that Brave New World could not be successfully adapted into a movie. However, with a Ridley Scott - Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration behind it, it just might work.


Can we really trust their judgement?

If their running mates are anything to go by, I don't think we should trust either Obama or McCain's judgement.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden claimed in a recent interview that President Franklin D. Roosevelt calmed fears in a TV address at the beginning of the Great Depression. There was no TV in 1929 and Roosevelt wasn’t president at the time. Solid pick Barack.

Not to be outdone, in a speech on Sunday, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin called Afghanistan “our neighboring country”. I'll acknowledge in John's defence that at least Palin fulfils the function of making him look good.