Archive for July, 2003

Pirates of the Caribbean

This was really quite lousy, though I enjoyed Johnny Depp as
always, except for the annoying way he spoke from time to time. I
saw a preview and Disney is making another movie based on a theme
park ride, this time The Haunted Mansion. Sigh.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Watching this was interesting, at least provided I was thinking
about not what I was watching on the screen but instead something
vaguely connected to it.

The heroes of the 19th century seem so very dated now. For
instance, Nemo, master of the technology of the time, striving to
create a “better” world while operating under the fantasy that
technology is the important differentiating factor — never reflecting
on, say, his own authoritarian attitude.

I also wondered why a team of individuals, many of whom are
immortal, would bother with this expedition. I suppose it is unfair
to expect a movie like this to try to accurately reflect the attitudes
that one might suppose an actual immortal might take.

If you actually pay attention to the film itself, though… well,
it was what I expected, but that wasn’t much. But at least there
wasn’t an invisible car.

Winged Migration

Today I went to see Winged Migration. This is an incredible film,
and for me a personally moving experience. It is visually stunning
and poetic, as I’m sure all the reviewers have noted. Marcello
Mastroianni once said that he liked nature shows, but not ones about
birds or fish. It’s too bad he didn’t live to see this film, which is
almost like an anthropological expedition into bird society, with both
interesting parallels to and striking differences from human
civilization. Go see it.

Copyright and Morality

Last night on some cable news show — I really can’t stand these
things, so I don’t always pay close attention to the particulars –
there was a discussion about copyright and morality. One of the
hosts was incredulous at the fact that his kids viewed music
downloading as no big deal. “Why don’t they understand it’s a
crime? What’s gone wrong with our culture?”

I don’t really see it the same way. Having something stolen from
you can be a violating experience; I think this probably forms the
basis of most people’s moral stance against stealing. But these same
feelings don’t seem to occur when someone takes a copy of something I
already have. Maybe that guy’s kids are just a little more clear on
the origins of their morality than he is.

Or, maybe he’s got a different approach entirely. There may be
good practical reasons not to copy “intellectual property” without
paying. Examining these tradeoffs doesn’t play to well on TV,
though. It’s easier to reduce it to a black-or-white moral problem,
and then blame the guy you don’t like.

Monotone

I’ve recently looked at monotone.
Monotone is a very cool version control system. It is still too young
to be used for real, but it is definitely a big step in a direction I
like.

It is really different from the “standard” tools we’re all used to –
the ones that work like RCS, or CVS, or their various analogs. For
instance, in monotone there is no central server. In fact, one need
not have one anywhere.

It seems to solve all the problems I have with CVS, including the ones
that subversion doesn’t address (and won’t, as I understand it, in
1.0). Monotone is always distributed. Branches and forks are cheap.
There is no distinction — and this is very cool — between positively
reviewing a patch and committing it. I.E., with monotone you can read
a patch, reply to it (with a cryptographic signature), and it is
immediately accepted into everyone’s tree.