Story Of Your Life

April 2nd, 2014

Good news from Hollywood: Amy Adams In Talks To Star In Alien Movie 'Story Of Your Life'

[…] Amy Adams is in early talks to team with Prisoners helmer Denis Villeneuve on Story Of Your Life, the sci-fi thriller based on a short story by Ted Chiang, a top contemporary author in the genre. Scripted by Eric Heisserer, the thriller takes place after alien crafts land around the world. An expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit.

Two important points to keep in mind. First, Ted Chiang's story is a lot more interesting and unconventional than that summary makes it sound.1 Second, the role Adams is up for would suit her down to the ground. If the screenwriter and director can translate Chiang's story into something that works on screen, Amy Adams could absolutely find herself finally picking up that elusive Best Actress Oscar.

Or, alternatively, this one goes back into development hell six months from now, Amy Adams gets her reward for another performance, and Ted Chiang never gets to become a household name.2

[Via The Dissolve]

  1. See this old interview with Chiang, published back in 2002 just after his first collection of short stories, including the one that is being adapted for Adams to play in, was published for a sense of how wonderfully varied his work is.
  2. Which, in fairness, would quite possibly be fine by him.

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QOTD

March 31st, 2014

I'm going to have to steal John Naughton's Quote of the Day:

"Technology is everything that doesn't work yet".

— Danny Hillis

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Dallas Storm Timelapse

March 30th, 2014

Dallas Storm Timelapse:

(For a view from above of a similar phenomenon, see this NASA Earth Observatory feature on images of lightning storms taken from the ISS. Only still images, but impressively big ones.)

[Via The Awl]

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'We live in a galaxy with magic space wizards!'

March 30th, 2014

An Open Letter From a Death Star Architect:

Over the past week, I've gotten a lot of guff from people I considered to be friends and colleagues about how my "shoddy" design would be the downfall of our entire government. […]

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

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Expertise is a two-edged sword

March 30th, 2014

You're The Expert, Can You Or Can You Not Do This?

A very productive meeting indeed, I think you'll agree.1

[Via The Tao of Mac]

  1. I mean, the expert neither garrotted his bosses nor took his own life with a sharpened paperclip. And his reward for such exemplary behaviour is to get to do this all again. And again. And again…

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Christopher Walken Dance Now

March 22nd, 2014

Christopher Walken Dance Now: a neat concept, greatly enhanced by some sharp editing…

[Via MetaFilter]

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Un(fore)seen consequences

March 21st, 2014

Power lines look like terrifying bursts of light to animals:

What does a power line look like? To humans, they don't look like much – just strands of metal draping from towering poles. But for many animals, they're terrifying.

They see power lines as lines of bursting, popping lights. That's because they can see ultraviolet light that's outside the spectrum of human vision. […]

[Via jwz]

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Object: matrimony.

March 21st, 2014

16 Ways to Find Love in the Personal Ads (in 1900):

"Wanted: wife. Farmer's daughter preferred, willing to marry poor man. Must be good girl, good-looking, weight 100 or under, no grafters."

[Via The Morning News]

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'You make it seem as if the capitalists would entirely remove all human labor from their businesses in deference to robots, if they could. This would constitute an egregious disregard for the communal good, and so I'm afraid it's impossible to imagine proprietors acting in this horrible way!'

March 16th, 2014

A Preliminary Phenomenology of the Self-Checkout is long, but totally worth it:

III. The Ghost in the Machine

[…]

You have bought a greeting card, you indicate. Why, then, can't I feel its heft in my bagging area? Is it because of the appalling taste you have? I will not abet this item. I will never detect it, for you are unscrupulous and depraved. This disingenuous gesture will not cause your niece on the occasion of her birthday ("Time to celebrate!") to feel any particular tenderness. Welcome to the new phase in human history that my presence has inaugurated: soon, greeting cards will no longer be available for purchase. So, too: yarn, cotton balls, postcards, feathers, stickers, and some seasoning packets. In their stead, you might dare enjoy communing with your fellow man.

Also features a man who pays a terrible price for trying to game the Machine for the sake of saving money on half a dozen lemons, and Karl Marx chatting with John Locke1 about the price of lemons (among other things.)

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. No, not the character from Lost.

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After Dark in CSS

March 16th, 2014

After Dark in CSS is an exercise in nostalgia for those of us of a certain age:

After Dark menu

[Via The Tao of Mac]

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'But then everybody started bothering him about his emotions and singing about loving him all the time and I lost interest.'

March 16th, 2014

Sherlock Reviews Musicals He Was Forced To Attend With His Parents:

The Phantom Of The Opera

Someone really ought to break it to the Phantom that if he listens closely, he can hear that Christine is in the early stages of developing vocal nodes, so he might not want to go through all this trouble to kidnap her if he's either going to have to pay for some expensive throat surgery or hold auditions for an entirely new "angel" in six months. Let us hope Christine has some typing skills or something to fall back on, for her sake.

And, let me say this: just because you've got an underground lair doesn't mean you must decorate it like you're Dracula running a bordello. I've seen some that are quite tasteful. I wouldn't be so indiscreet as to name names, but trust me, it's possible.

[Via Lazy Self-Indulgent Book Reviews]

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A classic fairy tale

March 15th, 2014

I'll confess to never having read The Princess Bride, but from what I understand the film is a generally regarded as a reasonably faithful adaptation. Which makes me wonder who thought that this was a suitable cover for the first paperback release of S Morgenstern's William Goldman's book:

The Princess Bride paperback cover

[Via this comment thread at More Words, Deeper Hole]

2 Comments »

Animals Sucking at Jumping

March 12th, 2014

Animals Sucking at Jumping caused me to laugh so hard I neglected to breathe.

For some reason, watching all those cats fail to stick a landing didn't worry me one bit, but seeing horses and rabbits and racoons do the same left me wishing there was a 'No animals were hurt…' notice to reassure me at the end of each video.1

Oh, and for the record, I reckon this cat knew exactly what he was doing:

Soft landing

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. Is it because cats are haughty aliens who don't care about humans so why should I care about them, or just that cats always land safely, if not necessarily gracefully?

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Word Podcast 218

March 11th, 2014

Listeners of a certain vintage will be pleased to hear that Mark Ellen, David Hepworth and Fraser Lewry reconvened the other day to record one more edition of the Word Podcast:

Word Podcast 218 – Where's The Crisps? – March 2014: Mark Ellen, David Hepworth and Fraser Lewry convene over cakes to discuss: why all rock docs are legally bound to feature Bono, the touching story of Harry Nilsson's last marriage, what Jimi Hendrix really got up to in Marrakesh, whether Ginger Baker is in fact a bit of a bore, Fraser's day trip to North Korea and the book what Mark wrote. And Vikings.

Be nice to think they might find a way to do more of these, but either way I'm going to enjoy listening to this tomorrow.

[Via David Hepworth's Notebook]

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Behold, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves; be therefore as cunning as serpents and as harmless as doves.

March 11th, 2014

Mallory Ortberg, reacting to a surfeit of Sherlock Holmes adaptations in recent years, reckons it's past time for a proper, working class hero. In other words, it's time for a Columbo reboot:

Columbo says things like "Watch my hand, it's full of grease. This is my dinner. Would you like a piece of chicken?" to suspects. He is deliberate. He moves at the pace of justice. Unflagging, unwearying, unrelenting; he is the Anton Chigurh of goodness. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards Columbo. It is his fundamental goodness, as much as his native intelligence, that make him a good detective. He is not a remote genius; he is not a refined gentleman; he is a good man, and it is this that makes him not just a good detective but my detective. He is America's detective. A good and a quiet man who brings his own lunch and will not go away until order is restored.

The article (and the accompanying comment thread) suggest some fine choices for the role. John C Reilly. An unshaven Stanley Tucci. Margo Martindale. Mark Ruffalo. Colm Meaney.

I'd suggest Tony Shalhoub1 or David Morrissey or Andre Braugher,2 but failing that I reckon Margo Martindale3 or Mark Ruffalo would be amazing in the role.

One way or another, someone needs to make this happen.

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

  1. Yes, I know Monk was arguably too close to the same ground for comfort. I still think Shalhoub could be so good as Lt Columbo.
  2. Lt Columbo and Frank Pembleton: how's that for contrasting styles of detective?
  3. If you haven't seen her in Justified season 2, do so. You will not regret it.

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Čumil

March 9th, 2014

Meet Čumil the Peeper:

His name is Čumil and he is either resting after cleaning the sewer or is looking under women's skirts. […]

Čumil

[Prompted by the header image of this New Statesman article about Slovakia]

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Tickle

March 9th, 2014

Tickle is another spoof app from the man who brought the world Jotly:

Tickle is a new app that will help you get out of awkward situations. Using your phone's accelerometer, Tickle will generate a phantom phone call when you touch your phone in an awkward manner. […]

Unlike Jotly, this is a spoof app that the world could definitely use.

[Via swissmiss]

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Sørbråten memorial

March 8th, 2014

Artist Jonas Dahlberg on his designs for Norway's July 22 Memorial sites:

My concept for the Memorial Sørbråten proposes a wound or a cut within nature itself. It reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died. The cut will be a three-and-a-half-meters-wide excavation. It slices from the top of the headland at the Sørbråten site, to below the water line and extends to each side. This void in the landscape makes it impossible to reach the end of the headland.

Visitors begin their experience guided along a wooden pathway through the forest. This creates a five to ten minute contemplative journey leading to the cut. Then the pathway will flow briefly into a tunnel. This tunnel leads visitors inside of the landscape and to the dramatic edge of the cut itself. Visitors will be on one side of a channel of water created by the cut. Across this channel, on the flat vertical stone surface of the other side, the names of those who died will be visibly inscribed in the stone. The names will be close enough to see and read clearly – yet ultimately out of reach. The cut is an acknowledgement of what is forever irreplaceable." […]

[Via The Morning News]

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Time Can Be Rewritten, but is it?

March 6th, 2014

Philip Sandifer's meditation on what The Day of the Doctor tells us about the differing ways Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat see the Doctor is quite fascinating:

As with many fan debates on Tumblr, the immediate fallout of The Day of the Doctor had no shortage of straw men, with people angrily reacting against points that never actually got made. (See also the "legions" of fans who aren't going to watch Peter Capaldi because he's old and unattractive.) Still, there's an interesting fault line that opens up in the question of just how much of a retcon The Day of the Doctor is – one that is revealing in terms of the sorts of details that each argument prioritizes.

Once I've caught up on the comments on his post, I'm going to have to rewatch TDOTD at least one more time and have a think about all this. Good stuff.

[Via The Great Escapism]

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DRM on coffee?

March 4th, 2014

Coffee, now with added DRM for extra flavour:

The single coffee cup craze has been rolling now for several years in both the United States and Canada, with Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso all battling it out to lock down the market. […] Keurig has faced the "problem" in recent years of third-party pod refills that often retail for 5-25% less than what Keurig charges. As people look to cut costs, there has also been a growing market for reusable pods that generally run anywhere from five to fifteen dollars.

Keurig's solution to this problem? In a lawsuit (pdf) filed against Keurig by TreeHouse Foods, they claim Keurig has been busy striking exclusionary agreements with suppliers and distributors to lock competing products out of the market. What's more, TreeHouse points out that Keurig is now developing a new version of their coffee maker that will incorporate the java-bean equivalent of DRM — so that only Keurig's own coffee pods can be used in it […]

[Via The RISKS Digest, Volume 27, Issue 78 ]

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