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Blog, page 2

  1. Casino Royale — How Action Reveals Character
    youtube.com

    Lessons from the Screeplay:

    An action scene, just like any other scene, should help expose a character’s true self. But in the case of “Casino Royale,” the opening action sequence needed to do even more than that. It needed to introduce the world to a whole new James Bond.

    So today, I want to dissect the film’s freerunning chase sequence to see how it uses action to develop the characters, to examine how it forces the protagonist to make choices which reveal his key characteristics, and to demonstrate how its underlying structure brings Bond’s deepest flaw to the surface.

    Casino Royale is the best.

  2. Frustration grows in China as face masks compromise facial recognition
    qz.com

    Ah, the irony. Anne Quito:

    Face masks are mandatory in at least two provinces in China, including the city of Wuhan. In an effort to contain the coronavirus strain that has caused nearly 500 deaths, the government is insisting that millions of residents wear protective face covering when they go out in public.

    As millions don masks across the country, the Chinese are discovering an unexpected consequence to covering their faces. It turns out that face masks trip up facial recognition-based functions, a technology necessary for many routine transactions in China. Suddenly, certain mobile phones, condominium doors, and bank accounts won’t unlock with a glance.

    And beyond quotidian transactions, the technology is a linchpin in the Chinese government’s scheme to police its 1.4 billion citizens.

  3. The Raccoon King of Garbage Mountain
    frankchimero.com

    Frank Chimero writes about the design process for the header navigation on his personal site:

    You’d imagine that a seasoned and soured designer would side-step all of these complications whenever they could. And indeed, most do. Visit many designers’ websites and you will see two links in the navigation: Work and Info. Bully for them. I am, on the other hand, an unsympathetic and frustrated creative. I have a sprawling empire of conflicted uselessness locked into the coordinates of www dot frankchimero dot com. Welcome to my personal website, my empire of shit.

    Oh how I understand Frank’s plight.

  4. Wuhan: The Truth About “Dramatic Action”
    chinamediaproject.org

    Da Shiji (达史纪) reports on the the Chinese government’s handling of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, and the current situation in Wuhan:

    Politics first. Stability preservation first. In such an environment, science can only sit by and watch. The scientific results could not be clearer, and the authorities likely had a decent grasp of the real situation. But nevertheless they could not speak the truth, and they spared no effort in keeping the outbreak under wraps. Front-line doctors who spoke up about the outbreak were taken in for questioning. Eight Wuhan citizens who dared to post about the outbreak online were summoned by the police and singled out in public announcements through official media in order to terrify the public and force people to remain quiet.

    The focus of restrictions was to prevent the truth of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus from getting out.

  5. Shopping Sucks Now
    vice.com

    Casey Johnston tries to come to terms with a problem that I, too, suffer from — if you’re trying to buy the right thing, there’s no longer any limit to the amount of work you can put into research:

    For a long time, our problem was there were not enough things to choose from. Then with big box stores, followed by the internet, there were too many things to choose from. Now there are still too many things to choose from, but also a seemingly infinite number of ways to choose, or seemingly infinite steps to figuring out how to choose. The longer I spend trying to choose, the higher the premium becomes on choosing correctly, which means I go on not choosing something I need pretty badly, coping with the lack of it or an awful hacked-together solution (in the case of gloves, it’s “trying to pull my sleeves over my hands but they are too short for this”) for way, way too long, and sometimes forever.

    The degree to which you feel this problem definitely depends on your income, or at least, being in the privileged position of not having to make do with the only thing you can afford. But for people with even a limited ability to make an investment purchase, if it’s worth it, there’s even more pressure to get it right. Knowing you wasted a big chunk of money on a cheaper, worse thing that falls apart when you could have spent a little more money on a thing that is good and lasts feels like failure. You’ve then wasted your money, wasted your time, you’ve contributed to global warming, and now you have to start the entire thing over again and hope you don’t somehow end up making the exact same mistake.

  6. How Bong Joon Ho Designed the House in “Parasite”
    indiewire.com

    Chris O’Falt interviews Bong Joon Ho and production designer Lee Ha Jun about Parasite’s brilliant set design:

    According to Bong, the challenge he gave his “Snowpiercer” production designer was not only to create a believably “visually beautiful” set, but a stage that served the precise needs of his camera, compositions, and characters, while embodying his film’s rich themes. In an interview with IndieWire, Bong described the home as “its own universe inside this film.” He added that he took pleasure in hearing that the famous directors on this year’s Cannes jury — which included Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Kelly Reichardt — were all convinced that the movie took place in a real home. In truth, Bong asked his production designer to create an “open set,” built on an outdoor lot.

  7. How NYT Cooking Became the Best Comment Section on the Internet
    theringer.com

    Zach Gage tweeted:

    i wish all internet comments were like the comments on nyt recipe pages

    Turns out a big part of why they’re so nice has to do with nomenclature:

    This might be because Cooking’s comments aren’t comments at all—they’re notes, a distinction Times food editor Sam Sifton emphasizes several times over the course of our conversation. “We made the conscious decision not to call them comments,” Sifton tells me. “The call to action was to leave a note on the recipe that helps make it better. That’s very different from ‘Leave a comment on a recipe.’ And the comment might be ‘I hate you.’ ‘You’re an asshole.’ ‘This is bad.’ And that’s helpful to no one. I see that on other recipes, and I’m glad that we don’t have those comments, because we don’t have comments. We have notes.”

    While it’s delightful to think that that could be enough, human moderation is also involved:

    On the internet, moderation is something of a dying art, often outsourced, automated, or even discontinued altogether by resource-strained news outlets. At Cooking, however, every single note is approved or rejected by an actual human being.

  8. 16-Inch MacBook Pro First Impressions: Great Keyboard, Outstanding Speakers
    daringfireball.net

    John Gruber spent some time with the new MacBook Pro:

    It feels a bit silly to be excited about a classic arrow key layout, a hardware Escape key, and key switches that function reliably and feel good when you type with them, but that’s where we are. The risk of being a Mac user is that we’re captive to a single company’s whims.

    Great that they fixed the keyboards, but I’m guessing repairability hasn’t improved. My 2014 MacBook Pro’s battery started expanding recently, and I was surprised to learn that a battery replacement isn’t a simple job, even for this older generation. The battery is glued in place, so replacing it means an entirely new top case, keyboard, and trackpad — and in my case a week without my computer. That’s bad design too, and a side of it that Apple isn’t getting enough flak for.

  9. The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising
    thecorrespondent.com

    Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn:

    It might sound crazy, but companies are not equipped to assess whether their ad spending actually makes money. It is in the best interest of a firm like eBay to know whether its campaigns are profitable, but not so for eBay’s marketing department.

    Its own interest is in securing the largest possible budget, which is much easier if you can demonstrate that what you do actually works. Within the marketing department, TV, print and digital compete with each other to show who’s more important, a dynamic that hardly promotes honest reporting.

    The fact that management often has no idea how to interpret the numbers is not helpful either. The highest numbers win.

  10. Tech and Liberty
    stratechery.com

    Ben Thompson defends Facebook’s recent decision to let politicians lie in ads, arguing that free speech should be considered in terms of culture, not law.

    Here are his concluding remarks:

    Facebook, obviously, is not the government, and thank goodness: the fact that Zuckerberg answers to no one is deeply concerning to me. To be fair, in the case of political ads, this was arguably a benefit: I think he is making the right decision in the face of massive resistance. In the long run, though, it is very problematic that such a powerful player in our democracy has no accountability. Liberty is not simply about laws, or culture, it is also about structure, and it is right to be concerned about the centralized nature of companies like Facebook.

    To that end, the fact that this debate is even occurring is evidence of the problem: those opposed to Facebook’s decision about ads wish the company would wield its power in their favor; my question is whether such power should even exist in the first place. Facebook can close Munroe’s door on anyone, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

    Ben makes a good case, but I have conflicting feelings about it. These last few moves by Twitter and Facebook have left me hopelessly lost in this debate. When does a lie become fraud?