Screening Misinformation

Jul. 23rd, 2017 10:38 pm
deckardcanine: (Default)
[personal profile] deckardcanine
Everyone knows that movies and shows
Play fast and loose with what’s true,
But certain bluffs are repeated enough
That they can be hard to see through.

If you’re not one to have fired a gun,
You’re in for a big surprise,
As once you’ve found how it looks and sounds,
You’ll reflect on a pack of lies.

Of greater concern is the treatment of burns,
Among other bodily harm.
Know that CPR goes only so far
And some die from a broken arm.

Alas, there’s more: You’ll find dangers galore
From animals out in the wild.
A swan or deer might just break you in fear,
And monkeys are seldom mild.

It’s clear that we must take care not to trust
Our Hollywood inspirations.
I advise you to get a look on the Net
For further information.
kevinjdog: (Default)
[personal profile] kevinjdog
So about four years ago, Dave and Joel introduced me to "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Every time I visited them we would watch about two episodes, which made the story go rather slowly. Then, one Christmas, Joel got me my own copy (go Joel!). By this time I hadn't seen it for a while, so my enthusiasm for it had died down. I told Tim we could watch it together but he'd have to see the first season by himself, and I'd join him at the second season, where I'd left off. Slowly my enthusiasm for the show grew again, until midway through the third season I discovered I was rapt. Right now I've just finished with "The Boiling Rock," and I realized what a good thing this recent viewing of the series has done for me.

It has been very hard to say goodbye to Newshounds once and for all. The three-volume set is my "bow" on the story (I didn't call it "complete" for nothing) and a self-inducement to move on. Maybe "Newshounds" wasn't a person, but I was still in mourning over it. Sure, I've got some other projects on the horizon, but I'd put my heart and soul into this for so long, and I loved the characters and stories so much. I still do. And I still don't want it to go, even though there's nowhere else to take this story. (It doesn't help that it didn't become the massive success I still believe it should have been.) Somehow, I had to work on disengaging from it; I had to FIND a way to let it go.

Avatar has been helping. I'm amazed at how well-done some of the turns in the third season have been. Admittedly, it's a flawed show. Characters are inconsistently portrayed (lookin' at you, Sokka kid; also, I don't believe Zuko and Mai as a couple) and some of the goofy faces get on my nerves (especially in the first season). I do have to remind myself that the clunky expository dialogue is there because it's targeted to be a kid's show.

But it's got so much going for it. The painstaking martial arts awareness and mythology-building are just a bonus buttressing the interconnected stories and the sense of wonder with every new episode. There was so much thought put into the series that I wouldn't be surprised if it spent more than five years in development. It's magical, it's amazing, and it's thoroughly engrossing.

And to make that mean a little more, be aware I don't actually LIKE a lot of things, apart from music. This is an admission I make freely. I'm somewhat engaged with Star Trek TOS/TNG; I like my friends' webcomics; and I enjoy some of the classic, zanier Britcoms. It really takes a lot to get me into something, because most of the time I'll just get impatient and want to get back to making my own stuff. Passive entertainment does nothing for me. I want to create, create, create... and the only reason I don't do it more is because DAY JOB BARELY MAKES RENT.

Avatar has broken that barrier. Once I finish the series I may move heaven and earth to get the sequel series, "The Legend of Korra." I'm not going to be super-fanboyish about it (I do not want a bunch of Aang maquettes for my cats to knock over) but I do think it's an excellent - maybe even transcendent - series worth watching once, even twice. And for once, I've thought to myself, "Well, if I didn't make it, that show DID, and that proves to me there is good in the world somewhere." That attitude is helping a lot in disengaging myself from my own failure. (Oh, did I say "failure"? I shouldn't say that. I meant "failure.")

In the future, I may make more detailed posts about plot points and characters I liked and disliked. We shall see.

daf bit: Sanhedrin 2

Jul. 20th, 2017 08:55 am
cellio: (talmud)
[personal profile] cellio

We begin a new tractate, Sanhedrin, which discusses court cases. Unlike in many secular court systems, the judges are active participants (they're the ones who question witnesses) and the ultimate decisors; there are no lawyers or juries.

A court is made up of some number of judges, depending on the type of case (at least 3, sometimes 23 or 71 or occasionally other numbers). Here are some of the cases listed in the first mishna of the tractate (this is not a complete list):

  • Various types of monetary damages are judged by three.

  • Rape, seduction, and libel require three according to R' Meir, but the sages say libel requires 23 because it could involve a capital charge. (A note suggests this comes up with adultery but doesn't connect the dots. Also, rape and seduction can involve capital charges too, so I don't know why they only call out libel. Perhaps it's addressed later in the g'mara.)

  • Capital cases, as implied in the previous bullet, require 23.

  • Cases for which the punishment is flogging require three, but according to R' Yishmael, 23.

  • Calendar decisions (witnessing the new moon, adding a leap month) are judged by three, though R' Shimon b. Gamaliel describes a more complicated scheme.

  • A tribe charged with idolatry, a false prophet, and a high priest can be tried only by a court of 71.

  • The following require 71: authorizing wars of free choice, adding to the temple courtyards, establishing small sanhedrins (of 23) for the tribes, condemning a city, condemning frontier towns.

Why is a great sanhedrin 71? Because Moshe was commanded to gather 70 (other) men. And why is a small sanhedrin 23? It's complicated. (I don't completely follow their math, sorry.)

This is all from 2a. The mishna continues onto 2b before the g'mara starts there.

(Today's daf is 4.)

almost helpful

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:52 pm
cellio: (house)
[personal profile] cellio

My (Android) phone alerts me when traffic is bad near me. This can be handy at the end of the day because I work downtown. Except... it's telling me about traffic on roads I don't use to get home. Sure, there's spillover so it's not unhelpful, but it'd be great if I could tell it -- maybe by gesturing on a map -- what paths I care about, so it could tell me about those ones.

Does anybody reading this know of an app that does that, or a way to get Google Maps to do it? It needs to be fire and forget; I don't want to have to open the map app to look for red lines on it.

It feels like all the information is already there, if only my phone were making use of it.

(This would also let me know before I leave in the morning if traffic is still bad at the other end. At that time I don't really need extra information about traffic near my house; I need it 3-5 miles away.)

Another Super Alphabet

Jul. 16th, 2017 10:18 pm
deckardcanine: (Default)
[personal profile] deckardcanine
A’s for Apocalypse, brainwashing troops.
B’s for Bizarro, reversal of Supes.
C is for Catwoman, expert at stealing.
D is for Deathstroke, who’s good at self-healing.
E’s for Electro, whose origin’s tragic.
F: Felix Faust, who knows plenty of magic.
G is for Grodd, who’s a psychic gorilla.
H is for Heat Wave, a flame-throwing killah.
I: Iron Monger, all covered in steel.
J is for Joker, who laughs like a heel.
K is for Kraven, who loves a good hunt.
L: Living Monolith, hard to confront.
M’s for Mystique, who can take any form.
N is for Nimrod, who’s far from the norm.
O is for Owl, who can glide through the air.
P: Poison Ivy, with plants in her hair.
Q’s for Queen Bee, who shoots poisonous darts.
R is for Rhino, who breaks walls apart.
S is for Scarecrow, who causes a fright.
T is for Two-Face, who’s only half right.
U is for Ultron, a man-hating droid.
V is for Venom, whom all should avoid.
W: Wendigo, great savage brute.
X is for Xorn, whom you’d better not shoot.
Y’s for Ymir, who’s a giant of frost.
Z is for Zod, who gets deadly when crossed.
Comic book heroes, more often than not,
Call for strong villains to make a good plot.

embedded geek

Jul. 13th, 2017 09:58 pm
cellio: (B5)
[personal profile] cellio

A friend shared this with me earlier today and I literally laughed out loud:


The second-last column is about a famous Zulu leader. The last one is about walled cities under fire.

"Shaka, when the walls fell" is a key phrase in a rather unusual episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, named "Darmok". The famous universal translator doesn't work when the Enterprise encounters these particular aliens, because their language doesn't work at the word level. They speak in what the crew calls metaphor. I've seen discussions of this over the years ("could that really work?" "improbable, because..."). The post about the Jeopardy episode links to this Atlantic article about the episode that argues that we're looking at it all wrong. I found it an interesting read.

Also, Atlantic does in-depth articles about episodes of SF shows? Who knew?

(I don't have a Trek icon. Here, have one from one of my favorite shows instead.)

daf bit: Bava Batra 172

Jul. 13th, 2017 08:56 am
cellio: (talmud)
[personal profile] cellio

The mishna teaches: if there are two men in the same town and both are named Yosef ben Shimon, neither may produce a bond of indebtedness against the other. Further, nobody else may produce a bond of indebtedness against either of them. And if a man finds among his possessions a quittance showing that the bond of Yosef ben Shimon was discharged, it applies to both of them. So how should they proceed, since we want Yosef to be able to borrow money? When writing the documents (both bond and quittance) they should write the names to the third generation (e.g. Yosef ben Shimon ben Reuven). If their names are the same to the third generation, then they should add a description (e.g. Yosef ben Shimon ben Reuven, the tall one). And if those are like too but one is a kohein or levi and the other not, they should indicate that. (I can't tell if they keep the description in this last case.) (172a)

Neither the mishna nor the g'mara here addresses the case where Yosef ben Shimon was unique and then another one moved into town.

I assume we're talking about small towns here, where it's not implausible for names to be unique and for people to know that. I'm a little surprised that a description (which could be subjective or mutable) has higher precedence than kohein/levi status (which is neither).

When I shared this at minyan this morning, somebody told me that one of her family members has a last name that means "limp" (as in "has a", not as in "floppy"), which seemed peculiar to her. She said she was going to go teach him this mishna.

Book Review: Wyrd Sisters

Jul. 12th, 2017 10:23 pm
deckardcanine: (Default)
[personal profile] deckardcanine
I last said I was reading Hyperion, but after about 180 pages, I found it too dreary to continue without a break. Maybe I'll never finish it. Regardless, I picked up what promised to be the funniest book on my shelf that I hadn't read yet.

Given how much I enjoyed two Discworld novels (I'd read three, but the first was merely OK), you'd think I wouldn't wait nearly four years to pick up another. Granted, Terry Pratchett's collaboration on Good Omens may have tided me over.

Cut for length )

Feeling up for another tome, I'm trying The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. So far, it hasn't shown any fantasy premises, only fictitious geography.

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