Friday, December 21, 2007

The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality

The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality. Article by David Pogue.
Now he has me worried.

Update: I was being a little tongue-in-cheek here, just a little. I'm not all that worried. Things will always find a balance, and the bulk of people are willing to pay for what they get, given that they can pay easily and the price is fair.
Personally I keep sharing within reason, and if my customer/visitors do the same, I don't attack them. I have never attacked anybody for sharing a few dozen images from my sites, not even a few hundred. On rare occasions it has ventured into the thousands, and then I have addressed the poster or the host with a polite request to remove them. I think that's reasonable.

Domai sculpture

Nine months in creation, the specially commissioned DOMAI sculpture "Inviting Joy" is finally ready!
Victor Issa created this based on my wishes and on Domai models.
I am over-thrilled with the result, it really embodies what I want DOMAI to express, and it is a gorgeous fine-art piece too, and of the highest quality.

This is the page about it on Domai.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Internet wine delivery

It seems France is way ahead of the rest of the world in nanotechnology.

Ridley Scott, smoke and mirrors

Ridley Scott's commentary (apropos those) on Bladerunner is brilliant. It's a whole little primer on how to make films.

One example: on shooting the city scape miniatures... you need a very small aperture, otherwise the small depth of field will give away that it's miniatures. So every frame needs to be exposed for a full second or something like that. So you need a motion control camera, since the camera is moving extremely slowly.

And he wanted much smoke to give the atmospheric perspective. And also to aid the models, because since they were comparatively small due to budget, and so they could only be so detailed and no more.

But the thing is with smoke and the filming with one frame per several seconds, the smoke will move, and flicker!

So they devised a system with many smoke detectors in the room metering the level of the smoke, and a system for small nozzles adding a little at various places, thus keeping it constant over the whole room, over the whole day. And it worked!

Bet you didn't think of that when you watched the movie!

Update: Even Ridley repeats the commonly-heard assertion that Deckard's mental image of a unicorn (which was missing in the original release) means that Deckard is a replicant. I never got that, how's that logical?

Update: I'm amazed at the level of collaboration they did on this film. Ridley Scott says that Harrison Ford came up with the blood in the glass of water. And apparently on the very last night of the shoot, Rutger Hauer wrote one of the best speeches in movies ever, his own "all those moments" speech. Fantastic.

Rutger also invented the hairdo he had. And Darryl Hannah invented her missing eyebrows and her black-painted area around the eyes, inspired by the vampire in Nosferatu.

Update: (blogging is great, I can just keep adding thoughts as they occur.) The five-disk Blade Runner (I thought it was called "Bladerunner") collection includes an excellent making-of documentary. At three and a half hours! Amongst other tidbits it includes a glimpse of a more graphic love scene between Deckard and Rachel. Hot stuff.

Ridley Scott is a very intelligent man. He talks about how love (read: sex) scenes are always superfluous. Gratuitous. And he always keeps them out, or at least short. And I understand what he means. They usually do stop the action, and are not often very interesting. But I don't see why they have to be like that. A scene with the main character riding his bicycle down the road can also be gratuitous and boring, but it does not have to be. It's just a matter of whether it adds to the film, in terms of story, or character, or mood, or whatever. See? So if a sex scene tells us more about the characters or the story or the world it's in, then it's good.

Topfree in Scandinavia

In Sweden and Denmark there is a new movement for women to bathe topless in swim baths. They sure have my support.
The article is in Danish, but the gist is that they stage topless bathe-ins as a protest against rules demanding tops. And they seem to gather sympathy, at least in Denmark. Sweden tends to be a bit more conservative, so I don't know how the movement goes there. (Though it started there.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bladerunner, picture quality, and engineering

It's funny, no matter the brilliance of new hardware, so much depends upon the soft side of things, on coding. Example: I watched Ocean's 13 on HD-DVD. It looked dreadful. The image was grainy, and the colors were off, way off. The first time Al Pacino entered the frame, I thought his character had been in a tanning-booth accident (seriously), because his face was all orange!

In contrast, I just now watched the first two minutes of the HD-DVD version of Bladerunner. What a picture! I swear it looks better than anything I saw in the cinema. Crystal clear, sharp, perfect, living color. Everything you could hope for, for the most visually rich of all movies since Metropolis.

It is weird about Bladerunner: three decades on, it still has not been matched in design and visual depth and beauty. How can this be?

What I really love about Bladerunner is the huge cityscapes, exemplified by the first two minutes. That huge model of future L.A., with thousands of tiny window lights. And the detailed buildings, like the immense Tyrell Corporation building (with the slanted side buildings). If that building was real it would house maybe 200,000 people. And the design of it is just beautiful and intricate.

Update: Apart from the visuals, my opinion is that the "magic ingrident" of the film is Mr. Rutger Hauer and his amazing delivery of his lines. His pauses are genius. "Men? ... Police... men?"
And of course those lines themselves.
"All those moments/will be lost in time/like tears in rain."

Has Hauer done anything else as great as this?

The fake mirror

Most hidden camera pranks are pretty dumb, but this one is ingenious. I could have thought of building the mirror room, but including the identical twin actress is just genius.
I would have liked to have seen how I would have reacted myself, and how soon I'd have figured it out.

I like the lady who in a depressed voice states: "Ich bin unsichtbar." ("I am invisible.")

D3 samples

Nikon D3 image samples.

Parotting my dad: I've told you before, and I'm telling you again with tears in my eyes: this is a revolutionary camera for low-light photography, and I can't wait until we get this kind of performance in a camera which is not so dang big and heavy. And I think both Nikon and Canon may come up with something like that before long.
ISO 3200 pictures look fantastic, and even ISO 12800 is very usable in my view. This is something entirely new.

Update: the official D3 pages.
I love the term the "proprietary FX format". It is like by shaving one tenth of a milimeter of the 80-year old 35mm format, they suddenly have created their own brand new format, which is revolutionary, and we forget that Canon has had full frame cameras for four years already! Very funny.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

HP One

I'm watching Harry Potter One on HD-DVD. It's a good film. Looks great, and I can't imagine how they could have done a better job translating the books into movie land.

I am still sometimes rankled, though, by the imcompetence of the Wizard Leadership. For example: the students are not allowed in the Black Forest, because it's dangerous. And they are not allowed roaming the castle after dark, because it's dangerous. So what is the punishment if they are found around the castle after dark? They are sent into the Black Forest! Come on! That's insanity and buffoonery, and not worthy of a "great leader" like Dumbledore.

I greatly enjoy the stories, but there are just a couple of examples like this, where I think Rowling is being illogical for the sake of creating suspense. She could have done that more logically with just a little more thought.

... Anyway, one of the things I love most about movies these days is the amazing designers and concept artists who work in them. Take for example the giant chess set in The Philosopher's Stone. What an amazing design. Both in terms of the basic design of the individual pieces, and in terms of the weathering and aging they have applied to them.

Tryk på

Just because I'm in an exuberant mood today, I'll be cantankerous and post these lyrics in their original Danish.
They are from the song Tryk på by the Danish band Shu-bi-dua.
The band were huge in the seventies and eighties, and recently I bought all seven CDs of theirs from then.
That by the way is another small miracle of modern economics: each CD cost me only about, call it, eight dollars or so, which was about the same as the LPs cost back then, and this is not compensating for 30 years of inflation. Nice.

Jeg ta'r til Hillerød
og køber morgenbrød,
og henter min avis.
Så ta’r jeg hjem igen,
for at læse i den,
og glæder mig naturligvis.
For der er meget godt,
og det er trykt så flot
det er s'gu billigt til den pris,
og når kaffen er klar,
så ta'r jeg en 'gar
og læser hat i min avis.
Og der er tryk på, sensationen tryk på,
du kender tonen, lidt dur. og lidt mol,
lidt kys og lidt vold.
og en splitternøgen kælling side tolv.

Der er en fed kronik
om ny barok musik,
og en leder at Karl Baj,
som siger kernekraft
og solbærsaft,
må isoleres hver for sig.
En nekrolog om Ho,
der siger han lever endnu,
og en rubrik om vildt begær,
og en fotokonkurrence,
hvor ingen har en chance,
for dommeren har fået stær.
Og der er tryk på...

En mand med guld i mund,
og hus ved Øresund,
vil bytte guld og gods,
for en gammel kælk,
og en halv liter mælk,
og et billede at Stirling Moss.
Og så på sidste side
får du alt at vide,
om Lucky Luke og Barske Bill,
og når du er træt af mosten
i morgenposten,
kan du svøbe den omkring din sild.
Og der er tryk på...

Another small phenomenon: I remember an interview with Shu-bi-dua (sometimes spelled Shubidua), where this song was mentioned, including the mention of Stirling Moss. They commented that "these days maybe nobody knew who he is". And this was 25 years ago! (I guess the song is 35 years old.) Well, thanks to the miracle of the web and wikipedia, I was finally able today to find out who he was. (I was just a child back then, so they were right in my case, I did not know him.)

... I just know somebody will try a machine translation, so I beat you to it. Warning, it is completely off!

I ta'r to Hillerød and buyer morgenbrød , and get my paper. So ta’r i homes again , to read through to the , and i am pleased naturally. By there's highly good , and it is printed so in a big way it is s'gu cheap to the terms , and catching the coffee is distinct , so ta'r i a 'gar and locking hat to my paper. And there's depress , the sensation depress , you recognizing the tune , awhile dur. and awhile mol , awhile kiss and then some bank. and a splitternøgen kælling paper twelve. There's a boldfaced features about novel grotesque music , and a administrator that Karl Baj , that says kernekraft and solbærsaft , can isolate individually. A nekrolog about Ho , there says he liver yet , and a blank about savage appetite , and a fotokonkurrence , where none has a alternative , by the judge has got strong. And there's depress. A gentleman by gold to mouth , and cottage known Øresund , vil barter gold and goods , by a aged kælk , and a half litre milk , and a portrait that Stirling Moss. And so at last paper gets you all ascertain , about Lucky Luke and Gruff Beatle , and catching you are tired of mosten to morgenposten , can be you svøbe the round your herring. And there's depress.


Well, I'm starting to feel a lot better.
I've long prided myself on my "fierce independence". Which is in some aspects pretty idiotic, and it took a serious crisis like my back condition this month to make me reconsider it for real. I was in such pain I begged for help from everybody and anybody. I've had help from nurses and doctors, healers, spiritual teachers, physio therapists and homeopaths, angels, and probably mice and cockroaches. And it's all helped.

All through it I felt that it was basically just a blip on the curve of what is otherwise a time of big expansion for me spiritually, the further development of which I'm much looking forward to.

Camera guide

Need to find a good camera without days of research? Look at Imaging Resource's Quick Recommendation Guide.

Monday, December 17, 2007


[Thanks to Joe]

Jules Feiffer, in his book on comics, put it like this:

Comic books, first of all are junk. To accuse them of being what they are is to make no accusation at all: there is no such thing as uncorrupt junk or moral junk or educational junk—though attempts at the latter have, from time to time, been foisted on us. But education is not the purpose of junk. Junk is there to entertain on the basest, most compromised of levels. It finds the lowest fantasmal common denominator and proceeds from there. It’s choice of tone is dependent on its choice of audience, so that women’s magazines will make a pretense at veneer scorned by movie-fan magazines, but both are, unarguably, junk. If not to their publishers, certainly to a good many of their readers who, when challenged, will say defiantly: “I know it’s junk, but I like it.” Which is the whole point about junk. It is there to be nothing else but liked.

Hmmm. Yeah. I can see that argument. But how about "comics" like Art Spiegelman's Maus, or Alan Moore's From Hell? They are both indisputably in the comics medium, and they are both indisputably about as far from "junk" as you can get.

Update: OK, the book was published well before these examples. And before most heavy weigth comics I know. Still there was The Spirit for example.

But junk is as junk does. The problem with the term is that it can mean "meant for entertainment mainly", which is true is 99% of comics, but it can also mean "beneath serious consideration", which is a grave mistake, especially if considered across the board.

More from Feiffer via Joe:

The particular brilliance of Superman lay not only in the fact that he was the first of the super-heroes, but in the concept of his alter ego. What made Superman different from the legion of imitators to follow was not that when he took off his clothes he could beat up everybody—they all did that. What made Superman extraordinary was his point of origin: Clark Kent.

Remember, Kent was not Superman’s true identity as Bruce Wayne was the Batman’s or (on radio) Lamont Cranston, the Shadow’s. Just the opposite. Clark Kent was the fiction. Previous heroes, the Shadow, the Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger were not only more vulnerable, they were fakes. I don’t mean to criticize, it’s just a statement of fact. The Shadow had to cloud men’s minds to be in business. The Green Hornet had to go through the fetishist fol-de-rol of donning costume, floppy hat, black mask, gas gun, menacing automobile, and insect sound effects before he was even ready to go out in the street. The Lone Ranger needed an accoutremental white horse, an Indian, and an establishing cry of Hi-Yo Silver to separate him from all those other masked men running around the West in days of yesteryear.

But Superman had only to wake up in the morning to be Superman. In his case, Clark Kent was the put on. The fellow with the eyeglasses and the acne and the walk girls laughed at wasn’t real, didn’t exist, was a sacrificial disguise, an act of discreet martyrdom. Had they but known!

And for what purpose? Did Superman become Clark Kent in order to lead a normal life, have friends, be known as a nice guy, meet girls? Hardly. There’s too much of the hair shirt in the role, too much devotion to the imprimatur of impotence—an insight, perhaps, into the fantasy life of the Man of Steel. Superman as a secret masochist? Field for study there. For if it was otherwise, if the point, the only point, was to lead a “normal life,” why not a more typical identity? How can one be a cowardly star reporter, subject to fainting spells in time of crisis, and not expect to raise serious questions?

The truth may be that Kent existed not for the purposes of the story but the reader. He is Superman’s opinion of the rest of us, a pointed caricature of what we, the noncriminal element, were really like. His fake identity was our real one. That’s why we loved him so.

Now any Superman readers here will point out that this is no longer the case. Superman's origin was revised in 1986 (and has recently been revised again, adding in old elements, like his cousin Supergirl) to make Clark Kent the real guy, and Superman the put-on. It doesn't work as well that way, I think it was better in the old days. I do get a kick out of those old Superman comics where he was godlike in power and could, for example, decide to spend an afternoon in the 31st century and casually, as though he did it all the time and it was no big deal, "pierce the time barrier." These days, in the days of trying to make a "realistic" superhero, a lot has been lost. They aren't fun anymore.

eolake adds:
Have you read Alan Moore's superheroes? Like Supreme and Tom Strong? They do this beautifully. Like one character who is *so* powerful that he can run across the galaxy by just taking a few steps on each planet along the way!

Amazing Grace, Meryl Streep

Amazing Grace, Meryl Streep.

HIgh School

I just ordered this TV show on DVD, based on good reviews.
A reviewer wondered why it was no hit. I think it's obvious looking at the cover: no attractive people. It's just unamerican.

Don't you think "freaks and geeks" are usually more interesting people than the "popular" ones?

Is it just me, or are many Americans stuck on high school? In Europe, school is a preparation for life. But it seems like in America, school is life, and everything else is just an aftermath. What really matters in life is how popular you are in high school. The only reason you work hard to become successful is to be able to go to your high school reunions and rub it in the faces of the people who used to stuff you in your locker.