Terrifying Beauty

Tonight’s disquisition is a trip down memory lane, following connections as they come. I watched Sunshine State, a film by John Sayles on Friday night. I frequently forget to mention Sayles when someone asks me about my favorite movies or directors. His work is extremely good, but often understated. He almost always uses an ensemble of characters to create a portrait of a particular place at a particular time. Among his best are Matewan and City of Hope.


Well Pinky and the Brain is now out on DVD but I’m just sitting around reading: Way Station by Simak, Sign of Four by Conan Doyle, Lord Jim by Conrad, Refuse to Choose by Sher.

More to come tomorrow. A real topic - anniversary and historical combined into one.

The Cool Down

The heat wave has broken, at least here in Michigan. A cold front finally moved through earlier this morning. Yesterday the temperatures were in the mid-90s and the humidity was high. Even at night the lows were only into the 70s and the dewpoints stayed high. I had hoped to watch some of the lightning and thunderstorms roll through last night. But the storms were moving west to east, just north of Ann Arbor.

Visualizing Income Distributions

Clive Crook describes a very interesting visualization exercise for understanding income distribution. The article is in the latest, September 2006, Atlantic Monthly. An excerpt is available on the website. Here’s a long quote that starts the story and describes the visualization. In 1971, Jan Pen, a Dutch economist, published a celebrated treatise with a less-than-gripping title: Income Distribution. The book summoned a memorable image. This is how to think of the pattern of incomes in an economy, Pen said (he was writing about Britain, but bear with me).

Cosmos and Carl Sagan's Legacy

Over the weekend I decided to rewatch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, in addition to the fascinating, but depressing, movies about war that I’ve been harping about recently. Sagan is one of my personal heroes and television show Cosmos was one of the formative viewing experiences of my youth. I remember hearing people imitate his voice on ‘billions and billions’ or seeing him on Johnny Carson with my grandmother. So last night I sat down on my couch and watched the first episode of Cosmos, “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean.

July Readback and Update

July is coming to an end and it’s hot, hot, hot. The weather service has issued a heat advisory for Michigan from now until Tuesday. According to the NWS the heat wave began on Saturday and is going to continue while high pressure locks in over the southeast and low pressure over the plains combine to send southwest winds my way. So it is time for another meta post. Since I returned to the daily blogging routine in mid-June I’ve been thinking about what weblogging does for me.

Lords of War

Even the movies I’ve been watching, not to mention the news I’ve been reading, have been about violence lately. This weekend it was two approaches to the same problem: the industry of killing. First up was Lord of War, a recent Nicholas Cage flick about a young Ukrainian man who emigrates to the United States and becomes an arms dealer. What better way to make money, huh? America is, indeed, the land of opportunity.

Technology, Theory, and Education - Interpolations on a Review by Geert Lovink

Via Anne Galloway at Purse Lip Square Jaw I come across some interesting reviews of Utopian Entrepreneur, a book by Brenda Laurel. Anne points to Geert Lovink’s review in particular. It might be true that, for instance, Derrida is in need of mediation. On the other hand, why is there no self-educated working class reading Deleuze? Why has the ‘educated proletarian’ become such an unlikely, even funny figure? I know this is a weird, untimely consideration.

Richard Florida and the Cato Unbound Series

Back in June the Cato Unbound web site ran a short debate between Richard Florida, of Rise of the Creative Class fame, and three other economists called “The Future of Work.” Strangely enough the exchange didn’t force me to start pulling my hair out because of unwarranted claims about the utter brilliance of the free market, something I expect whenever I come into contact with the Cato Institute. Florida basically summarized his major thinking in four points.

Time Travel in Art

I’ve been prompted to think about time travel by two recently read novels and a movie. The novels were The Time Traveller’s Wife and Slaughterhouse Five, the movie The Lake House. Is there any difference between the treatment of time travel in these works and more conventional science fiction genre works, such as H.G. Wells The Time Machine. The Lake House and The Time Traveller’s Wife are both mainstream works that use time travel to illuminate character and emotion, especially love.