Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Opinion: On FoodTV’s new “Dinner: Impossible”

Monday, July 21st, 2008

So Michael Symon is the new star of the retooled Dinner: Impossible show, replacing “the lying limey” Robert Irvine.

I think they missed the point of the show, shared also by “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”: the host of such shows should be kind of a dick—so you secretly want to see him fail miserably, and when he seems humbled by his ordeal, you’re rewarded. Michael Symon just seems to be having fun. And he’s a nice guy who loves bacon. What kind of person wants to see a guy who makes chocolate-covered bacon fail?

Which is why they need to have that snooty-faced Ice Queen from the Next Food Network Star win that competition, so she can do Dinner: Impossible and have breakdowns and triumph, humbly, in the end.

Opinion: The Spirit of Radio

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

So WORD Magazine has an article about “why records DO all sound the same?“, which has this epic quote:

“Two or three times a year, a company like LA-based Music Research Consultants Inc arrive in town, hire a hotel ballroom or lecture theatre and recruit 50-100 people, carefully screened for demographic relevance (they might all be white suburban housewives aged 26-40). They’re each given $65 and a Perception Analyzer; a little black box with one red knob and an LED display. Then, they’re played 700 seven-second clips of songs. If they turn the knob up, the song gets played. If they turn it down, it doesn’t.” [emphasis mine]

Ponder that. Seven Seconds. That’s the Pepsi Challenge of Music. And we all know where that got Coca-Cola.

This sort of market research is what gets every industry in trouble. It’s like the contest to find the funniest joke in the world. You end up with a joke that’s not really funny, but “[...]the world’s blandest joke–the gag that makes everyone smile but very few laugh out loud.” It’s why software fails, why cars fail. You can’t ask people what they like. You need to observe them and see what they habitually prefer. Otherwise you end up with Windows Vista and SUVs. And Maroon 5.

Now I’m going to go off and listen to some unlistenable Legendary Pink Dots.

Opinion: Notes to Self

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

don’t have time to update this right now, but I’ve three posts “in my head” that I want to note before I forget them completely:

  1. Aleister Crowley, despite his position as a liberal sort of beast, is actually a fair representation of your Victorian-era anglocentric, and his theories and beliefs flow from his predisposition that only the British were in any sort of position to interpret the system of the world. And that those things that seemed most powerful to the late Imperial Britain were exactly those things they didn’t understand. So while he may talk of Egyptology (very popular in the late 1800′s, as britain beats the french out of the middle east) and Hinduism and Buddhism (as Britain expands their Indian Empire), the fact is he’s not a brilliant discoverer so much as a conqueror, an appropriator of the hopes and dreams of the conquered. So, basically, Jimmy Page is a tool for the Man, not a servant of the devil! QED!
  2. Azimov’s laws of robotics seem simple, well-defined, self-reinforcing, and people think about robots in the future as naturally having the Laws as first principles. The problem is that there are pre-requisites for the laws of robotics. Firstly, a robot must be able to discern “human” from “non-human” and even “robot”. While the Laws seem so simple as to be bug-free (beyond the implicit bugs discussed by Azimov himself), the software that must underlie the Laws must be, by its very definition, as complex as the rules that we, as people, apply to differentiate “human” from “other”. And as we all can attest to, people have a nearly impossible time seeing the humanity in others, so what hope can we have for the machines we ourselves design?
  3. Since the Dawn of the Web, as a medium, web designers have had to do everything twice. Netscape and Mosaic. Internet Explorer and Netscape. Netscape versus Itself. Mozilla versus IE. On and On. Now that we have fairly settled standards, things seem to be easier. But the next big bugbear is “DPI”. As LCDs get more and more dense, from 96 dpi, to 120, to 300. The solution is to design for 300 dpi, then style the elements to “shrink down” at lower DPIs. The problem is that 300dpi images will be huge, and take forever to download. Eventually there will be a tiered system, where you develop all of your layouts twice. Once for the rich,w ith their 300dpi 24″ lcds, and once for those poor saps on broadband, with their 96dpi emachines. And then we’ll all start using Web Forms in XML versus XAML. You can’t win. You’ll always do it twice.

Opinion: Things I Wish Linux Had

Saturday, April 15th, 2006
  1. Created Date, separate from ctime, that actually indicated the date that the file was first written, that would be saved across moves. HPFS had it, NTFS had it, allegedly ZFS will have it. This kind of goes with…
  2. File Streams for metadata.Why? Because metadata doesn’t belong with the file, despite what my “Just use EXIF and id3!” ranting friend says. This boils down to the “Database versus Objects” filesystem debate where unix heads complain that if it’s not just a single stream of bytes, they don’t want to dick with it. I really don’t care what they think. Just because your 38-year-old ideas work for you doesn’t mean they make sense in a world where files are complex multi-format blocks of stuff which grow in number every day. Hell, you’ve managed to make ‘name’ ‘directory’ ‘mtime’ ‘atime’ ‘owner’ ‘group’ ‘permissions’ work for you, despite their not being part of your precious stream of bytes. There needs to be a standard for things like ‘author’ ‘summary’ ‘keywords’ ‘icon’ ‘type’. Yes. I’m a firm believer in the Mac-That-Was. Doesn’t mean I’m not right. Things like Spotlight and Beagle and, um, WinFS or whatever, they’re just shims. Hell, they’re basically duplicating metadata based on the bag of bytes. We need a standard, people. Jeebus!
  3. SATA Hotplug. I don’t care if it doesn’t work for old ATAPI or old “pseudo SATA” devices. Just make a framework so drivers can register that they provide hotplug to devices, and which devices might be hotpluggable. Christ. I don’t want a pony. I just want to be able to swap out my backup drive in my server, and you freaks can make it work for USB. Chop chop!
  4. Samba 4 already. To go with my hot-hot-hot file streams.
  5. A filesystem like ZFS that does automatic in-system integrity checking. Copy-on-write is fucking brilliant. I know, I know, “it makes things slower!”. “Why not just use Windows?” …why not indeed. Actually, this brings up the simple question of “Why not use Solaris 10?” …well, when the community edition comes out with the ZFS revision, I do think I shall.

Opinion: Thoughts on food

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

So today I made a fruitcake, based on the “Alton Brown” model, with a few subtle changes to bring it closer to the “pound cake” side of the “cake spectrum”… it turned out okay, though it was too “cake like” and not enough “brick like”. And, oddly, I find that the Alton Brown recipe doesn’t have nearly enough fruit. It needs more candied ginger, and… candied pineapple or something. Again-too much of the “cake” not enough of the “Brick”.

The other interesting thing I learned was that nuts really do taste better when you toast them a bit. When I was a kid, I hated nuts in cakes and such. …I positively abhored them in cookies. And only today did I realize that it’s because Mom didn’t know how to cook–of course, before Food Network, I’m not sure anyone in America knew how to cook, except Julia Child, and people thought she was crazy.

And I think that’s one of the problems with most American’s diets: they don’t have good food, so they simply do with more food. Though, these days, I think I see that turning around. A lot of my friends who have been fat have taken up cookery and things that verge more on cuisine to replace the mass amounts of flavorless junk they had previously been eating. Now, sure… sometimes you’ve got to eat a whole bucket of chicken wings and down a sixer of Pabst. Sure… once in a while. Hell–I just ate 3 no-bake cookies. (I had leftover nuts, so you see, I was obligated to make them!) But all in all, smaller portions of food that is actually worth tasting–not just shoveling in your maw–are healthier. I think maybe that’s the “magical secret” behind the alleged “healthy French” conundrum. Sure, the french may eat butter in everything, including their morning coffee, but since they don’t eat so incredibly much, they don’t turn into huge lumbering monstrosities, like your average midwesterner.

But, back to the cake… I had to subsitute dates for blueberries, and candy my own ginger , but these sort of first tries are my way of just figuring out how the thing works, so I can twist it to my will, and engineer the ultimate Yuletide Fruitwraith. The Fruitwraith will not stop until it has savaged your very taste-buds with its awesome spice-and-citrus punch–until it has consumed all of the space in your stomach–until it has aged to the point of unstoppable power, its dark engine powered by the same awful fuel that powered The Greats: Pollock, Bukowski, Dudley Moore.

This is my way of saying to you “I’ve watched too much of the Lord of the Rings recently”. Speaking of movies… …a friend of mine is judging the 2006 Metro Shorts – Detroit Film Competition/Festival. If you find yourself having produced a movie with an artistically redeeming quality, either by design or by accident ( …long… …drawn-out accident… ), I entreat you to submit it therein. You could very well be the next “That guy who directed Napoleon Dynamite”. Or you could end up being laughed out of the theatre for your animated short based on the secret life of cupcakes. Though, having known a fellow who made a movie about the secret life of a cupcake, I think it’s just that nobody understands your genius. Maybe Stoppard would, or… surely Beckett….

note: my wife hates Beckett, especially “Endgame“. I didn’t mind it, mostly because I enjoy the absurd, but also because I imagined the entire play being performed by muppets. My wife specifically complained that she thought that people living in ash cans was stupid. But… I think we all could name a trash-can-resident muppet.

Magic!