miscellaneous commentary

Archive for August 2011


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George Lucas just can’t help himself. The upcoming Blu-ray release of the original Star Wars trilogy will now feature new and completely unnecessary dialogue as Darth Vader lifts the Emperor during the climax of “Return of the Jedi”. Further incentive for me to go out and buy the original films on regular DVD while I still can.

It was already such a perfect moment.  As Luke, dying under the Emperor’s torrent of force lightning, calls out to his father to help him, Vader stares quietly, looks at his son, then at the Emperor, and makes his decision.  And he DOESN”T FUCKING SAY A THING.  That’s what makes it so powerful.  You could almost see the thought process behind the mask, as Vader slowly comes out of the fog of 20+ years of evil.  It’s a grand, amazing moment and the pinnacle of the trilogy, in my opinion.

And George Lucas just ruined it.

[h/t AICN]


Written by camcarlson

August 31, 2011 at 10:43 PM

Powers of Ten

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Written by camcarlson

August 29, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Posted in Science


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Look At This Puppy-Dog-Eyed Dog of the Day: Maggie’s owner was on his way out when he turned around and saw this.

Needless to say, all non-fetch-related plans were immediately canceled forever.


Written by camcarlson

August 27, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Steve Jobs’ Patents

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Check out this fantastic NYTime page on Jobs’ 313 patents. The ‘miscellaneous’ category is especially interesting.

Written by camcarlson

August 25, 2011 at 10:26 PM

Posted in Apple

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Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

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The only news that could trump this for me is if I found out Obama wasn’t running for re-election, or if Roger Ebert retired as a film critic.

Yes, he’s been on medical leave since January, his third medical leave-of-absence since being treated for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and receiving a liver transplant in 2009, and the wheels of the company haven’t come off yet. Yes, COO Tim Cook will most likely do a fine job as the new CEO. Yes, Apple’s product road map has been set for the next 2-3 years, so there’s nothing to worry about.

In fact, on that last point, All Things D breathes a bit of relief into Jobs’ influence on future products:

Extremely well-informed sources at Apple say he intends to remain involved in developing major future products and strategy and intends to be an active chairman of the board, even while new CEO Tim Cook runs the company day to day.

Still, today’s news is a bit unnerving. One of the most innovating and successful CEOs in corporate history is voluntarily leaving the helm of one of the world’s most valuable companies. I can’t help but wonder if this decision was influenced by his shaky health.

I’ve been using Apple products on a near-daily basis since the days of the ALPHA room’s Mac Performa (and Denny’s Performa 631CD). I have only ever owned Apple computers — the ’99 second generation iMac, the sunflower iMac, the iBook G4 and (currently) the unibody MacBook (now discontinued). As long as Cook and Jonathan Ive keep rolling out the quality products, I have no plans to switch to a Windows machine.

I am now more than ever looking forward to Walter Isaacson’s upcoming biography on Jobs, set for release on November 21st. Word on the street is that it will be updated to include Jobs’ resignation.

Written by camcarlson

August 24, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Posted in Apple

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The soil of Burma is red, and so are its rocks…

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I watched “The Burmese Harp” on Sunday, a powerful and moving film from 1956 about a Japanese army unit captured by British and Indian forces in Burma at the end of WWII. One soldier in the unit, Mizushima, is asked to climb a mountainside where another Japanese unit is in hiding, to persuade them to surrender or face death. The second unit fights to the death and Mizushima is seriously wounded. He is nursed back to health and as he journeys south to rejoin his unit at the POW camp he is awakened spiritually by the sight of hundreds of dead, unburied Japanese soldiers. He becomes a monk and devotes himself to burying the war dead. However, this breaks the vow he and his unit made that they would all return to Japan together. Mizushima is torn between his loyalty to his troops and his newfound purpose in life.

The film is a drama but it proceeds rather light-heartedly until the scene on the mountain. The tone shifts dramatically when Mizushima encounters the first corpses on the battlefield. It is a shocking, grisly image, heightened by the musical score and the stark black/white camerawork.

My favorite scene occurs early in the film: the Japanese soldiers take refuge in a village and suddenly become aware that enemy forces have surrounded them. Rather than take up arms, they begin singing “Hanyu no Yado” in chorus (the unit captain was a music instructor and taught his soldier how to sing as a way to pass the time). The British soldiers hiding in the outskirts of the village, recognizing the tune as an old British folk song (“Home Sweet Home”), and respond by singing it (in English) in return.

And so last night I re-watched “Letters from Iwo Jima”, Clint Eastwood’s 2006 companion piece to “Flags of Our Fathers”. LFIJ is the Japanese side of the battle at Iwo Jima in February-March 1945. Facing an insurmountable American force, the Japanese resign to their fate and fight to the death – of the nearly 22,000 Japanese soldiers who fought on the island, only 216 were captured, the rest dying in battle or committing ritual suicide.

I like this movie because it takes it time introducing each character and in detailing the futility in fighting for control of the island. The acting is superb and the cinematography is beautiful – most scenes look as though they were filmed in early morning light, with hard black shadows cast over the actors’ faces. Lots of well-framed backlighting, especially in the cave and night scenes. Juxtaposing General Kuribayashi’s memories of visiting the United States with his letter-writing drove home the point that he, like everyone else on the island, was just a soldier who thought of his family’s well-being and longed to return home.

Written by camcarlson

August 24, 2011 at 6:59 PM

The Future of Light

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One idea why CFLs haven’t caught on —

Evolutionary biologists believe that human lighting preferences are the result of our trichromatic vision—rare in nonprimates—which makes us particularly suited to daylight and the perception of primary colors. There’s an anthropological component as well: For 400,000 years, humankind has been banishing darkness with fire. And Edison’s bulb is, at its core, a burning filament that casts the glow of a flame. Abandoning incandescent bulbs means abandoning fire as our primary light source for the first time in human history.

Written by camcarlson

August 22, 2011 at 11:34 PM

Posted in Science

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