DVD: Stranger than fiction (2006)

I just watched Stranger than fiction on DVD. Great movie. It does a lot with its fantastic premise without losing sight of character development. Will Farell is convincing enough in a "serious" role and Emma Tompson and Dustin Hoffman tone it down; so they don't distract from the movie too much.

Tip: I'm usually not too much of a sucker for extras, but this DVD's "deleted scenes" contain good improv material and scenes that actually give the movie more depth.

Paul McCartney on YouTube

I've recently found out that Paul McCartney even has an official YouTube presence. Among other things, it features two recent videos of his (see below). Impressive that after all those years, his music still feels fresh (compare this to Stevie Wonder or Prince, whose music has disappointed me for quite a while now).

"Dance tonight": Directed by Michael Gondry, stars Natalie Portman!

"Ever present past".


Still no Java 6 on Mac OS X

This is getting annoying. I don't mind waiting; what I don't understand is that Apple does not tell the outside world anything at all about their Java plans. If you are a Mac user and want Java 6, then you should read Henry Story's blog post about 2 ways we can do something about it.
Ah, I forgot: 13949712720901ForOSX


An omni-directional treadmill

The omni-directional treadmill is an important piece towards Star-Trek-holodeck-style virtual worlds. With virtual reality goggles, you could already convincingly move around in a (flat) computer-generated landscape. [Source: doggdot.us]

Upcoming movie: "Defiance"

Defiance is a new movie [source: whedonesque.com] currently in the works that stars Daniel Craig and others. It is based on the book “Defiance: The Bielski Partisans” by Nechama Tec:
Powerful account by Holocaust survivor Tec (Sociology/Univ. of Connecticut; In the Lion's Den, 1989, etc.) of the operations of a Jewish partisan group in WW II Belorussia. Seeking to counteract the widespread conception of European Jews as victims who went meekly to their deaths, Tec researched the extraordinary story of the three Bielski brothers and their partisan group, using interviews with group survivors in Israel, the US, and elsewhere. Led by the oldest brother, Tuvia, the partisan group had grown to more than 1,200 Jews by the time Russian forces liberated them in 1944. The Bielski brothers, Tec explains, determined early on to save not only themselves and their families but every Jew who would join them. Resisting efforts to limit their group only to fighters, Tuvia accepted any Jew until more than 70% of the group was comprised of women, children, and middle-aged and elderly men. A charismatic leader of limited education but great intelligence and diplomatic ability, Tuvia maintained good relations with a variety of other partisan groups, some initially hostile. Putting his emphasis on saving lives rather than on killing Germans, he nonetheless acted ruthlessly against those collaborating with the Nazis, and in so doing saved many Jewish lives. At the end of the war, with Stalin's control of Belorussia becoming more oppressive, Tuvia and his brothers escaped to Romania, traveling on to Palestine and then the US--although Tuvia never again gained the recognition or prominence that his leadership qualities might have justified. A remarkable story of a great leader, as well as of a neglected aspect of WW II. [Copyright Kirkus Associates, LP; via Amazon.de]

Why am I posting this? I’ve read the story and thought it was remarkable, it’ll be interesting to see how the movie turns out.


Music video: "Here it goes again"

The group OK Go has done a nicely choreographed video:

Wayne Liquorman explains Advaita

Advaita is a very sober Buddhist-like Indian religion that is so radical in its abstractness that maybe philosophy is a better word for it. I like it, because it has a lot of helpful ideas. There is an "Introduction to Advaita" on YouTube by Wayne Liquorman that I can recommend:

Part 1:

Part 2:


Linklater's "Boyhood"

How is that for a cool movie idea?
The movie ["Boyhood"] tells a story of two divorced parents (Hawke & Arquette) trying to raise their precocious child (Salmon). It will span 12 years, beginning when the child is 6 years old and ending around the time he graduates high school. [1]
Director Richard Linklater started shooting in 2001, but the movie will not be out until 2013. That will make the aging effects very realistic, because, well, they are real.

[1] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyhood_(film)


"But you have to believe in something!"

The Zen aphorism "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional" has been borrowed as the title of the book "Suffering Is Optional. Three Keys to Freedom and Joy" by Cheri Huber. I have not read the book, but the summary mentions three interesting rules:
  • pay attention
  • believe nothing
  • don't take anything personally
These strike me as very clever. The suffering-inducing opposites would be:
  • Run away from everything, complain constantly.
  • Have an opinion, defend it. I am not quite sure why that is, but the human need to "believe in something" is very strong and an advice that is frequently given to desperate people. Often, it seems not much more than the proverbial carrot that makes the stick bearable. But beliefs are only in your head. As an aside, most, if not all, wars would be impossible without beliefs or abstractions.
  • Take everything personally. "You" are the strongest reference point that you have, thus not to take everything personally is practically impossible (as is being selfish, but that is another post...). But, when you feel hurt or threatened (e.g. when somebody criticizes your work), it is still a good guideline to distinguish what is you and what you just identify with.


Cognitive dissonance

Article on NPR: Why It's Hard to Admit to Being Wrong

The article explains why people often value something more if they had to go through a lot of pain to get it: it is often too hard to accept that the pain might have been meaningless.
This explains to me why some parents make their kids go through things that were very painful for themselves (some aspects of school come to mind). They believe that in the end, it was worth it. Mind you: that may well be true, but the kicker is that they believe this because of the painful experiences and not despite them.


Pictures on a map

FlickrVision shows on a map where someone has uploaded a picture, along with the picture itself.
Source: fscklog

USB stick with capacity meter

Nice: an 8GB USB stick with a small display that shows how much of its storage is occupied.