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  1. Ready or Not

    Watched 5 December 2019

    Very fun but not one for the ages. I feel like it could either have been campier or more grandiose, but it kept to a more normalized middle ground, never truly defying expectations. I keep imagining that had this movie been made in the 1980s (with all the differences that would entail) it would most likely be a cool as heck cult classic.

  2. Ad Astra

    Watched 5 December 2019

    2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my favorite films, yet I found this one very boring.

    Started out interesting — exciting even — but the story kept shrinking on itself, the ideas growing smaller and smaller. By the end, and much like the sad astronaut, I felt nothing. Please allow me to narrate to you how empty I feel, I’m such a sad sad lonely astronaut help me daddy

    Yeah this would have been a two star review if not for the moon rover chase sequence. That part was cool.

  3. The Lighthouse

    Watched 21 November 2019

    That scream really did it for me. This film could have been bad and that scream would have saved it. But no, the whole thing was excellent. Sets itself up as an incredibly precise and fastidious formal exercise, only to break with expectations in very unfamiliar, surreal ways. Rule-breaking cinema.

    And meeting real-life Willem Dafoe not within one minute of the credits starting to roll was also a surreal experience. That’s two for the price of one. (Humblebrag, I know.)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. This essay is just Harry Potter for people who think comparing things to Harry Potter is stupid
    theoutline.com

    Rosa Lyster:

    “Fight club is just the matrix for incels.” “Big Thief is just Fleetwood Mac for sad bois.” “The Handmaids Tale is just Harry Potter for middle aged liberals.” “Otessa Moshfegh is just Mary Gaitskill for girls who talk too much about how they sometimes miss their periods due to being so waifish and slender.” “Bob Dylan is just Joni Mitchell for men who beat their wives.” “American Psycho is just the Joker movie for older white perverts.” “ABBA is just Fleetwood Mac for middle-aged suburban housewives whose drug of choice was cocaine instead of marijuana.” “Billie Eilish is just Avril Lavigne for girls who have too many cups in their bedroom.” This is fun to do, and definitely hilarious for people who love zingers, but it also sucks, and replaces the flash of real insight with the far cheaper thrill of recognizing things. It turns a constellation of possible meanings through which we might better know each other and ourselves into a vast Extended Universe.

    Damn, that’s pointed.

  9. Super Mario World

    Replayed 22–28 October 2019 on Switch

    As fun and timeless as ever. Nostalgia factor is huge with the new wireless SNES controller. But I’ll never rate this game five stars because I was a Sonic kid during the 16-bit era. No matter how many times I play it, Super Mario World will always feel somehow foreign, as if I’m still only allowed to play it for a little while at a friend’s house.

    I played more as a tourist this time. I wanted to explore more than to be challenged, and I wanted to get to 100% completion (which I’d never done before). So I used the rewind feature in the Switch emulator liberally. It’s funny how “lazy” you get once you can instantly fix your mistakes. It deeply changes the experience for some games.

  10. Succession, Season 1

    Watched 9 September – 20 October 2019

    Watching Succession I often found myself at one of two extremes: either laughing and cringing at the sheer debauchery of it all, or depressively contemplating how the real world is probably even worse.

    This duality seems to be the show’s core mechanic. The writers know that now, seemingly more than ever, reality is stranger than fiction. If you want to satirize it, you have to take it down a notch first — like putting on those special glasses so you can look at a solar eclipse. So Succession is a very impressive oxymoron: a satire that is also a toned-down version of reality. It’s gripping, though-provoking, hilarious entertainment. I just don’t understand why Connor is there.

  11. One-Punch Man, Season 2

    Watched 9 May – 24 October 2019

    One-Punch Man is lost. The charm, variety, and incredibly kinetic animation that set the show apart are nowhere to be found in season two.

    The writing has no redeeming qualities to offer. It’s all over the place. The outrageous premise of the series was fun for a while, but it doesn’t seem strong enough to sustain being prolonged like this. The writers compensate by spending way too much time on a huge number of underdeveloped characters and subplots that I couldn’t care less about. In the end, none of those plots and characters even get any resolution; if there is a cohesive thematic undercurrent to this season at all, I was too bored to notice it. Meanwhile the main characters get so little airtime that I struggle to piece together what happened to them over the course of a dozen episodes. They are on screen only just enough for you not to forget what show you’re watching. It’s maddening.

    This series has clearly been kicked into a lower gear, setting itself up to coast on the merits of season one for as long as possible. I won’t be sticking around.

  12. AI Is Coming for Your Favorite Menial Tasks
    theatlantic.com

    Fred Benenson:

    When people talk about the effects of automation and artificial intelligence on the economy, they often fixate on the quantity of human workers. Will robots take our jobs? Others focus instead on threats to the quality of employment—the replacement of middle-class occupations with lower-skill, lower-wage ones; the steady elimination of human discretion as algorithms order around warehouse pickers, ride-hailing drivers, and other workers.

    What’s less understood is that artificial intelligence will transform higher-skill positions, too—in ways that demand more human judgment rather than less. And that could be a problem. As AI gets better at performing the routine tasks traditionally done by humans, only the hardest ones will be left for us to do. But wrestling with only difficult decisions all day long is stressful and unpleasant. Being able to make at least some easy calls, such as allowing Santorini onto Kickstarter, can be deeply satisfying.

    “Decision making is very cognitively draining,” the author and former clinical psychologist Alice Boyes told me via email, “so it’s nice to have some tasks that provide a sense of accomplishment but just require getting it done and repeating what you know, rather than everything needing very taxing novel decision making.”