Saturday, April 14, 2007

Filming digitally

Here are some interesting observations about the advantages of filming movies digitally.

By the way, for anybody interested in movie quality digital cameras, here is a forum about the Red One camera.

Shooting powder

By "shoot the talcum", I don't think what was meant was this.
(Again thanks to Through The Lens, who despite his self-proclaimed abysmal people skills is very helpful.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Roast Rats On A Stick

From Silvia Hartmann.
My answer to this one surprised myself.
The title for this exercise and the exercise itself derives from a real life situation, where someone was very depressed in the work they were doing and wanted nothing more than being away from all of that, but their family put this immense pressure on them to stay and complete the entire lengthy course of training.

The main reason cited for this was that should "the worst come to the worst", the person would always have their qualifications to fall back upon.

That sounds reasonable, but I remember crying out, "What does that mean, when the worst comes to the worst? After a nuclear holocaust? And there's someone selling roast rats on a stick? There's this huge crowd of starving survivors gathered around, and they're making offers of trade ˆ "I'll give you my virgin daughter!" ˆ "I'll give you a sackload of jewelry!"

And what are you going to shout?

Wave your certificate in the air and go, "I have an IT qualification!"

HOW exactly is THAT going to help "when the worst comes to the worst"?

The person in question laughed heartily and resigned that very day ˆ and is much happier now in a different career altogether.

The point of this exercise is however, for us to consider just what qualities we have that would stand us in good stead "when the worst comes to the worst", such as in the roast rats on a stick scenario.

These qualities are NOT certificates or university qualifications; the qualities you need to survive and thrive are inside you, and a part of you, and the most important part of you, indeed.

What qualities do YOU have that will be your saving grace "when the worst comes to the worst"?

Final Identity exclaimed:
This whole thread bugs me because the proper expression is, "When worse comes to worst." Being grammatically accurate with the comparative-to-superlative progression makes the entire expression make sense. Stating instead, as has happened here, the mindless "worst to worst" progression simply indicates lack of clear thinking. "Worst" can't "come to" something that is ALSO called "worst": it's already there.

Back to Eolake:

It's funny, since my bitching about expressions quoted wrong, I've discovered several wrong expressions that I might use myself without being bothered. I guess it's just being aware of how they're wrong, if they are.

By the way, I try to make it clear which text is quoted, and which is mine. Is anybody ever confused about it?

Jade's pech

One downside of English is that the spelling is not logical. Kids are more logical.

I am visited by Jade, 5 years, today. She drew a picture, and wrote under it: "Jade's pech". I was flummuxed, and asked what it said. It says: "Jade's Picture."
Of course. P-E says pe, and C-H says chu. Pe-chu. "Picture". Logical.

Monsieur Beep added...
Children are very logical indeed when it comes to spelling, and get punished for doing so, in school and at home!!

For example I very often hear 6year-olds using a logical form of a verb, and NOT the irregular form .
For example this child would say "I go-ed home" instead of "I went home".
The same goes for irregular German verbs.

Is it such a major fault for a child to communicate akkording to the rules, and not to irregular hokuspokus?

I know I know education in school wouldn't take so long, and many teachers would be underemployed if the kids wouldn't have to learn all the irregular stuff in a new language.

Indeed. I very much admire the Norwegians for amending their spelling thoroughly decades ago (I think in the mid-20th) to be strictly phonetic.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Millionaire Next Door

[Update: I was prompted to mention my article on money.]

The Millionaire Next Door. I read this book a couple of years ago, very eye opening. Most millionaires don't look like it.

Quote from the article:
"The authors say that one of the most important factors in becoming a millionaire is living beneath your means. Thinking back, I can see that in my own life.
As a former real estate agent, I was used to explaining to people what the largest home they could qualify for was. Most people are barely satisfied with that home."

This ties in nicely with the aforementioned Grand Designs TV series. I have now watched five of the shows. One was a communal project. Two were couple who built quite wonderful homes. Very inspiring.

And two were couples who built wonderful homes which were way, way above their heads financially and otherwise. Those were real cautionary tales.

They started with a mortgage which stretched their means, and then the costs went up and up and up as the house progressed. These people could not talk about anything else but what a nightmare they were living as this went on.

Another quote:
"One of the paradoxes of millionaire status is that those of us who are frugal enough to achieve it are too frugal to enjoy it."

It's funny because it's true.

I am one of those myself, but I still think, when hearing of somebody dying with 20 million in the bank and a 20-year-old car: "what's the point then?" :)

There must be a happy medium.

One of the main things that financial success has gotten me, apart from independence, is freedom from worry about it all the time. But it seems this is a mental thing. Some millionaires worry more than they ever did. And I know people who have traveled with only the shirt on their back, and seemingly not a worry in the world. I'm not there yet.
By the way, like, John Reed's site is living proof that fancy web design is not what makes a site successful. His web design would have been considered basic in 1995! :)

Also, he is a real curmudgeon. But he makes some interesting points, like this on self-publishing. (Self-distribution is the most profitable part? Wha?)

Cocteau Twins

Here's a wonderful band I'd overlooked: Cocteau Twins.
There are videos on U-toobe. One of my fave songs so far is Bluebeard.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Grand Designs

I am renting DVDs with the UK TV show Grand Designs.

I recommend it. (I'm not sure how availability is outside the UK.)
It is well produced, and you see some excellent houses being built by passionate people.
Also the show and the host Kevin McCloud are very warm and positive, there is none of that snide critizism you sometimes see in journalism. It's a big pleasure.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


This is one of mine, I may have posted it earlier in a smaller size.
I like it because it is a composition, based on a purely utilitarian landscape. There is NO life, no plants, no decorations. But still looked at the right way, sort of pleasing.
And then of course the smiley face.

Monday, April 09, 2007


In the future I'll not write quite as much. I'm quite tired recently, and I need to relax. I do it reluctantly, for this is very enjoyable to me, but I think it's right and necessary for me to cut back.

Fish out of water

"If a great musician plays great music but no one hears . . . Was he really any good?
It's an old epistemological debate, older, actually, than the koan about the tree in the forest. Plato weighed in on it, and philosophers for two millennia afterward: What is beauty? Is it a measurable fact (Gottfried Leibniz), or merely an opinion (David Hume), or is it a little of each, colored by the immediate state of mind of the observer (Immanuel Kant)?"

Me, I think beauty is real, but it is something too fine to be measure mechanically, which is also why it engenders so much discussion.

The article linked to above is long, but excellent. Here's a comment to it:

The test of Joshua Bell's impact was not fair: the audience for classical music is very small, for one thing.

1: If the commuters had consisted only of people who regularly listens to classical music, how would it have changed the reaction?

2: If the musician had been Kenny G singing, instead?

3: If the show had been in a park on a Sunday?

I think all those scenarios change the picture radically, and would show that people do indeed have time for art.

A busker (street performer) with a blog (why not!) has this to say.

Mrs. Henderson Presents

I recommend Mrs. Henderson Presents.
It is the most sweet and witty film about the Windmill Theatre in 1930s-40s London, which was the only place in the country to show nudes on stage. It was demanded that they should stand still, that way it could be considered Art.

Subtitles, learning English, and global communication

I think global communication could be forwarded tremendously if countries around the world would get English into schools early, and stop dubbing English-language movies, but instead subtitle them. The latter also helps the young ones learning to read. (I used to teach reading, and a milestone was always: "I can manage to read the whole of the subtitles now before they change!." Big smile.)

[The below was clipped from comments on "on Writing".]

"Scandinavians learn it easier than other Europeans because in Scandinavia TV shows and movies are not dubbed, but subtitled."

Same in Lebanon. It really helped me perfect my English.
Or my American, to be precise. :-)
That was before local TV became so decadent, it is now practically unwatchable. During ad breaks, you forget what you were actually watching! ):-P
Subtitles are a mixed annoyance : at first you're bothered by having to focus on reading instead of the images, and later on you really appreciate being able to follow it in original version, and often grasp all the nuances.

The French dub all their foreign movies and TV shows. As a result, many people there almost take pride in not knowing other languages! Or they behave as if such were the case. :-P
Fortunately, today the youngest generation is more eager to learn. Thanks to Europe. :-)))
Marriages between young Europeans of different countries seem to be increasing exponentially. Bravo.

"And I just feel like English is the best option for global communication"

As much as I care for the preservation of cultural diversity, I fully agree here: we Earthlings should set a single global communication standard, and English has everything vouching for it in this particular case. It's hugely widespread, dominant in the computers field, and globally simple, unless you want to get litterary. Which you can, while it's not mandatory.
For comparison, Japanese is also uncomplicated in structure), but it's nightmarish to learn to write, with thousands and thousands of Kanji to memorize. Chinese is even "worse", so to speak, because added to the even more complex writing, it requires much oral skill to master. Undoubtedly poetic and pleasant-sounding, but not very practical for a world standard, especially one using a keyboard. Lazies and dyslexics, search elsewhere!

TTL put forth:
Eolake proclaimed: "I think global communication could be forwarded tremendously if countries around the world would get English into schools early, and stop dubbing English-languish movies, but instead subtitle them."

Well, I am certainly relieved that in my country TV programs have always been subtitled and never dubbed. But not just because of the learning opportunity. I think dubbing is a terrible form of distortion. I want to hear the actor's natural voice no matter what the language. And even if they forgot the subtitles!

For example, if in KieÊlowski's Trois Couleurs: Rouge when Irène Jacob first opens her mouth out would come some union actor's English, I would probably puke. :-)

But I think you are forgetting two things:

1) Countries like French aren't doing it (dubbing instead of subtitling, and not pushing English early on) out of lazyness, but in a deliberate attempt to save the language. And you could say that they have been succesful at this.

2) Natural languages do not exist just as a method of communication here and now. Their other function is to carry information from generation to generation. The languages of, say, northern Europe are thousands of years old (much older than English). There are reasons why in these languages things have the names they have. The very rhythm and use of phonemes and the resulting associations carry information. We do not normally pay attention to this, but its role is huge.

If all of a sudden all languages of the world disapeared, with the exception of English in which everyone would be fluent, the world would be an infinitely dumber place. And I am not saying this to mock English. I love English. It's just that all our languages serve a purpose as a carrier of humankind's collective wisdom.

Eolake concluded: "And I just feel like English is the best option for global communication"

I agree. Provided you don't have to communicate anything of importance. ;-)

Shakespeare did not say anything of importance? :)

It is not necessary for the French to be protectionistic of their language. Most Danes speak English well, but I don't know a single Dane who has trouble speaking Danish for that reason.

Update: thanks to Mary for pointing out that the first paragraph had the expression "
English-languish"... now that is funny! Especially considering the context.

DreamingWolf exclaimed:
It is funny for me (weeell, not THAT funny) to read these opinions on English as a major language for all of us here on Earth. Though I speak English and I like it, the idea of it becoming the main language for the world sounds great on one side, on the other I think it just contributes to self-importance of Brits and Anglo-Americans (to exclude Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Polish and other American minorities). The fact that English is so widespread is due to the British imperial expansivity and expansionism in the past. They conquered a lot of other countries and cultures. OK. But this doesn't mean those of English origin are super-human, and superior to other nations and cultures...

Eolake said:
You have a good point.
I just think that regardless of the dubious means of how the English-language domination was established, global communication is so important that it supersedes any lingering resentment due to past wrongs. It would be shooting yourself in the foot to refuse this grand a communication opportunity just because you were invaded by the English at some point. Heck, I am Danish, and I don't use a moment's thought on Lord Nelson bombarding Copenhagen some time in the nineteenth century.

It also seems to me that the less reason people have for an inflated ego, the more inflated it is. So no harm can come, at least compared to the benefits.

Update April 10:
Wonko scribes:
One of the reasons for the "success" of English as a de facto international language is because of its origins. English has Scandanavia, Germanic, French and Latin and even Ancient Greek roots, together with a generous sprinkling of terms from other languages - Urdu and Hindi in particular (for example words such as; Pyjamas, Khaki and Shampoo). As a result English has a lot of synonyms - words expressing subtle variations of the same concept - which makes it wonderfully good for describing things. It's also a good technical language for the same reason, hence the take up on the internet/computing circles. Unfortunately this is a double-edged sword and lends towards our problems with spelling. For example think of the words: Slough (a town to the West of London), slow, plough, Brough (another town in Yorkshire), brow, and dough. Some are pronounced the same, some are subtly different, and the spelling doesn't always have a lot to do with it. It's because they're all from different roots.

Learn some 'Old English' from the Anglo-Saxon period of English History, it's not that different from what we speak today. Even more intriguingly if you then go to certain parts of North Holland and Scandanavia you can make yourself understood speaking it. Eddie Izzard did so in his television programme "Mongrel Nation". He asked a farmer if he could see a "brune coo" (brown cow), and the guy understood him. In fact, if you're familiar with the North-East accent in England, at lot of the terms and way people speak are almost pure Norse, even today! Am awee gan ham (I'm away going home, or just: I'm going home).

Post Norman Conquest - the Normans themselves being Scandanavians who settled in France and took on French ways, just look at the ships on the Bayeux Tapistry - a lot of French was introduced into "English". Interestingly, a lot of words to do with violence, war and law came from Norman French.

The key has always been that English constantly changes and adapts, incorporating new words all the time. As a result it has been able to grow and change. Melvyn Bragg's excellent series "The History of English" is a fascinating study of my mother tongue.

I would agree that British schoolchildren (can't speak for USA) would greatly benefit from learning foreign languages, earlier. I learned French at secondary school, and although I studied it for seven years, being honest I was never that good at it. I'm constantly surprised at how well many foreigners speak English, far, far better than I could communicate in their language. It shames me a little, but whenever I travel abroad I do at least try to learn a few key phrases - Please, Thank You, etc. - and I usually find that the person I'm speaking to wants to practice their English with me!

One last point: English is already the standard International language of Radio Communication, and is used by shipping, aircraft and Amateur Radio enthusiasts the World over.

Update April 11:
Wonko expanded:

Thanks TTL for posting that link, it made very interesting reading. Just to pick up on one comment to your list, about the use of "gate" for "street". In Leeds (in South Yorkshire) there are streets called Briggate, Eastgate and Westgate. These are all Norse/Viking in origin. I understand that the word "gata" is used in Norwegian and Icelandic for many streets. Even today Briggate is the road to a bridge that crosses the river. You'll find Norse names throughout North-Eastern and Eastern England, dating back to the period known as 'Danelaw' in the late Saxon period. In this time England was split in two along a line roughly from The Wash to the Severn, with predominently Danes ruling in the North and East, and Saxons in the South and West. Any town names ending in "thorpe" or "by" are Norse in origin.

Interestingly on the subject of seemingly unrelated languages, I have a story involving my Grandfather that you may like. he is now living in a Nursing Home having reached the age of 90. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese at Singapore and survived building the Burma Railroad, being torpedoed in the Sea of Japan and the A-bomb at Hiroshima. He spoke with the other male resident of his home who it turned out used to work for the Foreign Office. Furthermore this man left Singapore on the ship my Grandfather arrived on! This man's background was in studying ancient languages, he spoke and read several easily. One of the carers he'd had over the years was Hungarian and didn't speak much English. He discovered that speaking Ancient Greek to her and she replying in Hungarian allowed them to communicate better than in English! He also claimed to have found some links between Greek and Chinese through earlier Indo-European Languages. It just goes to show that we're all much more closely linked than it would otherwise appear!

In Danish a street is "gade". Due to the peculiar Danish soft D (similar the th in "the"), I never spotted the link the "gate" in English.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Einstein, iPods, and RVs

We had a power outage here this evening, for two and a half hours. According to my neighbor it's the first one since he moved in 16 years ago, which is pretty impressive.

So, being offline and in the dark, I took my iPod and went for a walk, listening to a biography of Albert Einstein. Very interesting, though the book is as much about his theories, which do test those frontal lobes something fierce.

I just watched the Robin Williams movie RV. Very funny. The characters all used MP3 players with white ear buds, they were obviously iPods. But in the commentary, the director Barry Sonnenfeld called them "Sony MP3 players". Lo and behold, the movie was on the Sony label. :)

Anyway, we do need those ear buds.


Almost ten years ago I put some art on an e-card site, care2.

I still like the art.
You can get it bigger on my home page.

Roses are Red

Holy mama, it's been over ten years since Aqua debuted with Roses Are Red, which broke records (and CDs), and it's been five years since the group broke up, and they are still a big name. That's impressive.
Their second album was not as big a hit, but it had at least one good song: Cartoon Heroes (which had a nice high profile video.) ... Oh, and it also had the more subtle, very melodious We Belong To The Sea.

From the wiki article: "The lawsuit filed by Mattel over the song "Barbie Girl" was thrown out in 2002, with the judge refusing Mattel's claims that the song harmed the doll's reputation. The judge claimed that, as the song is a parody of the doll, it is legally acceptable. He also advised the parties involved "to chill"."
Haha. That's excellent. I've often been surprised, given everything, to find that many judges are extremely level-headed, sensible, wise, and down-to-earth people.

By the way, am I the only one for whom YouTube gives up the ghost after watching a few videos? They just stop loading?
(Or this really bizarre phenomenon: in Safari the sound stopped loading on new videos. (The one I had loaded already still played fine.) In Mozilla, the same. But in Firefox, the sound played, but only over the tiny speaker in my box, not my speakers! What the heck? Like I said, computers are weird.)