Friday, February 29, 2008
My sister has taken the little dog Tobey away to her apartment for the week. That leaves just Sophia. Allow me to present a graph:
I think it's like pure sugar water. And I'm hooked. (reminds me of my other addiction)
Thursday, February 28, 2008
I haven't heard a good movie soundtrack in a long while. What gives, composers?
Luckily, I've stumbled upon some older tracks that I've always wanted but could never find. (too bad they are on youtube)
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
What Do an Indian, an Ex-Slave, an Explosives Expert, Charles Darwin and The Masked Bandit Have in Common?
Answer: I'm still trying to figure it out.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
"Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life?"
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Over half of Britons claim no religion
I'm not sure. Sounds good, but the possible rising tide of intolerance is a little worrying.
Atheistic Children's Book Facing Ban in Germany
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Both of these films are pretty phenomenal, but I think There Will Be Blood has real staying power. For me, No Country for Old Men ultimately boils down to an experiment in top-notch suspense storytelling that is bogged down by a deeply unsatisfying third act and inessential characters.
There Will Be Blood, on the other hand, feels like a complete package with which I only have very minor grievances. Coming out of the theater, I just had a sense that this film will find a place in theory classes across the globe. And perhaps the true mark of a great film: images from the movie continue to stay with me, weeks after viewing.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT
Actually, I think I will air two of my minor grievances with the film. 1) I was confused about the relationship between Paul and Eli for nearly the entire show. I thought "Paul" was just an alias Eli used. I guess not? 2) [Colin pointed this out to me and it has bugged me since] Plainview makes several threats against a rival oilman, but unlike his other threats, doesn't follow through. Feels like a loose thread.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I'm not even particularly a fan of Star Trek, but I found this ytmnd full of lol.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I hate discovering this stuff. It seems John William's may have lifted a little Dvorak for his ET theme as well.
I know it's not a big deal. But these discoveries take something away for me. Maybe I'm just strange. I've had brief, equally illogic arguments with Colin about photography. For instance, I generally don't like discovering that a photograph has been adjusted or cropped. Personally, a photograph that is composed and exposed beautifully right from the start is somehow more valuable than a photograph that has been tampered.
Meh. There's no accounting for tastes.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I'm officially excited. Mario Kart Wii will feature 32 tracks, 16 old and 16 new, and 12 player online games allowing for 2 player split-screen online and 4 player off-line.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
When you sense something, the response is dictated by electrochemical physics. Receptors in the eye, nose, mouth, etc, send signals along specific paths. As babies, we are sponges, sopping up these signals and making connections. In fact, children begin as a jumble of synaptic connections, which are then culled like the wild pedals off a flower. Over time, this process leads to sophisticated movement, memory, and even consciousness.
Suppose you look at a red apple. A specific, electrochemical response occurs along a path of which you have no control. It just happens as dictated by physics. Now suppose you look at a red barn. The same process occurs, except now the pathway is different. However, there is likely some crossover where the barn-red stimulus excites the same part of the apple-red stimulus pathway. With time and experience, an idea is extrapolated, in this case, "red" or "redness."
I think this pathway intrusion, this analogous thinking, wherein the culling and preservation of electrochemical pathways occurs, might account for human consciousness. Metaphor and analogy may be at the root of what it means to be human!
What appears to be a weakness in this view of consciousness is that it is reliant on outside stimuli. Do I need an outside stimulus to start thinking about "red" or can I just will myself to start thinking about "red"? I'm not sure. But you probably weren't thinking about "red" much before you read this blog entry. And considering the trillions of synaptic connections in your brain, I don't think it's too hard to imagine that a simple stimulus, like a red barn, might cascade into a brainstorm of connections and emergent thought.
It's something to think about.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I found two comics that I forgot to upload to my Depth Deception page.
Check 'Em Out!
p.s. Wellesley is an all-girls college in MA
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Today, a Rottweiler jumped up on a couch to lie beside me and placed her bear-like paws on my lap. From time to time, she leaned her enormous head against my shoulder and she even gave me a big, wet kiss.
I think there are two ways to interpret this gesture. Firstly, I think it is a declaration of ownership. A young Weimaraner pulled the same move on me, which effectively halted the other dog in the house from sharing in my affections. Sophia does it when I let Tobey out. And frankly, I think they also use it to stop me from leaving.
Secondly, I think of the gesture as a symbiotic, protective measure. On the one side, the dog gets affection and builds attachment, and on the other side, I get the safety of knowing no one is going to mess with my Rottweiler and me. At these moments, I get a visceral sense for the thousands of years of co-species evolution; there's simply something transcendental about it.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Farewell Roy Scheider. Thanks for one of the greatest cinema experiences of all time.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I've been training to administer insulin shots to a poor old pup and tonight, I did it for the first time on my own. It all seemed to go very well.
So I guess I can scratch insulin injections off of my "Things to Learn" list.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I just watched a video debate with a seemingly intelligent, religious fellow. His critique of Christopher Hitchens's arguments were fair and, in some regards, convincing.
Then he revealed that he believes in God because he saw a black Labrador dog get hit by a car, spray blood from its mouth, and die. At that moment, he was convinced that there is a benevolent God. (video @ 6:09)
WHAT?!? I'm not sure I've heard anything more vile, immoral, and twisted. It is very discouraging. Here is an otherwise intelligent man who can look at the death throes and suffering of a bloodied (and scripturally soulless) animal and think "Ah yes, there is a God and He is good."
Madness. Absolute madness. And a very scary admission. It is not hard to imagine this same, seemingly bright fellow, might look at a homeless woman dying in the street and feel perfectly all right about the event.
"Oh, look at her suffering -such agony! Yes, God is surely great!"
Just about makes me feel ashamed to be part of the human race.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Back at BU, I starred in a 16mm film about a Zombie who trains for the Boston Marathon, only to learn that the undead are not allowed in the competition.
I wrote a track for the Zombie's bitter disappointment, but I've since lost it. It wasn't anything particularly intricate (it follows my over-used musical pattern: A - variation on A - B - 2nd variation on A - Ending) but it has always stuck with me.
So I decided to re-write and re-arrange the theme song for your listening pleasure! ...okay, more like my own listening pleasure. I like the midi viola, so poo on naysayers. I'm also pretty happy with the 'second variation on A' Have a listen:
Zombie Marathon Theme (scroll down)
GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS GO SEE PERSEPOLIS!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Eerily human, eh? Looks straight out of the Uncanny Valley.
On QI, Stephen Fry presented the little factoid that only humans respond to the pointing gesture. Animals, like dogs, just look at the finger and not where you are pointing.
Well, as any dog owner can tell you, this is balderdash. Sophia has mastered this gesture quite well. And just the other night, I caught a program on dog evolution and intelligence in which a researcher came to the 'surprising' conclusion that dogs, unlike chimpanzees, respond to the pointing gesture.
Well, this is balderdash too! Chimpanzees are orders more intelligent than canines. Not only that, but I have seen Bonobos, a close relative of the chimpanzee, use the pointing gesture. I have no doubt that chimps can learn and use it too.
"Learn" is the key word here. If you point to something for a human baby, I'd bet dollars to donuts the baby will either look at your hand or not respond. A baby needs to be trained just like any other moderately intelligent animal.
In the program, it appeared as if the researchers had spent no time trying to teach their chimpanzees to point and understand pointing. Then they used pet dogs that were no doubt already trained by multiple years of human cultural reinforcement.
I'm not an animal behaviorist, but these mistakes seem infantile. And they annoy me.
Monday, February 4, 2008
In researching the amazing Stephen Fry, I've uncovered his new, amazing show: Qi
Have a look:
Sunday, February 3, 2008
And sometimes I wish I was a scientist. Oh well. I'm not ready to give up on the entertainment business just yet.
Anyway, I was hoping a science-minded person (Ryan? Justin?) could help explain genetics to me.
On the one hand, science eradicates the notion of 'race' with genetic data suggesting human populations are equally diverse. In other words, there's as much genetic variation in Asians as there are in Africans, Anglo-Saxons etc. That makes sense to me.
What I find somewhat incongruous, no doubt a result of my ignorance, is the fact that the dissimilarities between peoples - eyelids, noses, skin color - have a genetic basis which can become isolated in gene pools.
Now, my argument against racism usually amounts to "the gene pools are still accessible, and becoming more accessible, so the differences among populations are small and fluid. The use of 'race' as a categorizing technique is therefore ultimately pointless"
But what I'm trying to ask, is how is it that we can declare there is no such thing as a genetically based "race," yet the small differences we can identify between relatively isolated populations have a genetic basis?
What am I missing?