Monday, June 29, 2009

you said it, xkcd

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it to you personally, oh blog reader, although I'm fairly sure that I mentioned it in one of my previous blog posts, but one of my pet hates is people complaining about societal decline. Why? Because people having been complaining about societal decline in much the same terms for centuries, if not millenia. Ancient Roman writers talk about the debauchery of the present generation and the lack of respect of youngsters for their elders (and doubtless also about the increasing costs of groceries). If you would like a British example, read Bede. But people go on just the same, complaining as though they were facing entirely new phenomena. Surely society has changed? Well yes, but one of its constant features has been lamenting the current generation and their idle and disrespectful ways.

Why mention this now? Well, today's xkcd really summed up my feelings (even though I do not know this 'Idiocracy').

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

internet exploration

I'm not very good at running a blog I suppose, because I have no intention to write about anything I was talking about last time. I'm sorry, but there you have it.

Instead, I bring to you the pick of the internet, that I have selflessly picked out for you through hard hours of internet browsing, following random links, reading and viewing:

Alice and Kev
If you didn't know already, Sims 3 was released earlier this month, and this site has used it to make a compelling ongoing blog narrative, about the adventures of her Sims, a homeless girl and her father. The expanded personality features in Sims 3 make this more complex, and the amount of free will means the storyline has plenty of unexpected twists and turns. The writer has also put the story together well, with well chosen pictures and good writing, and gathered plenty of followers in the process.

A warning: this story really shows the possibilities of the game and makes it look appealing, after reading it for a while you may feel the urge to go and buy a copy. You have been warned. But I'm enjoying my copy so far... *cough* Although I don't know if I have enough patience to let the sims go and create their own stories, I have goals for them! And so little time to achieve them... *sigh*

You may have seen this in Canon advertising, and it is purely a promotion for Canon cameras, but I think it's also an interesting idea. The point is to make chains of photos, starting with one photo in which something is tagged that inspires the next. There are some good photos out there, and I'll be interested to see where the chains end up.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

long weekends and biographers

What a nice long weekend it was... Now back at work, thankfully it is all less hectic than last week. Last week we were organising an awards dinner for Friday night, and it was all a bit busy. But now the dinner has come and gone, I got to witness bankers dancing to 'I will Survive' (quite an experience) and I see the awards are in the paper today! Well, in a very small article, but they are there, and I was involved with them, so it is a little bit exciting. Other than that, had pretty much a perfect long weekend, I saw some family and friends, was briefly at the Jazz festival in Darling Harbour, saw the art exhibition I wanted to before it closed, and got to watch Twilight and When Harry Met Sally. When Harry Met Sally is pretty much the best movie ever. Twilight is... well... it makes a bit more sense, plot-wise, than the book? Probably?

I would like to rant about the book that I'm currently reading, have also been wanting to write a post about ranting in general, but that can wait. I went to the bookshop the other day, having run out of book, and having no idea what I wanted to read decided it would be interesting to get Agatha Christie's autobiography. By all accounts Agatha Christie had a fairly interesting life, spending some time with her archaeologist husband on digs around the world, and I have an interest in both archaeology and Agatha Christie. Unfortunately, the bookshop did not have the autobiography, but they did have several biographies. At this point I made the mistake of judging a book by its cover, combined with the mistake of looking for the cheapest book.

Now you may think that is silly, but the cheaper book was also much larger, and looked fairly authoritative, and so I fell for it. Some way in I was reminded of Possession and its view of the biography industry, the way that biographers can come to feel they own their subjects. This particular writer has a quirk of telling us what Agatha Christie and her family members would have been thinking at various points. It's a bit grating to me. There is also what seems to be a lack of understanding of the background of the time. For instance, she talks about Agatha Christie's views on women, saying something like this: those views are not very palatable today, but Agatha Christie also had insight and saw that women had power to influence men and thought that this was positive. But if you read literature written around that time, you see those views are not at all unique- for instance they cropped up in Howards End, which I read recently. Also she uses the term 'Victorian' very broadly, without showing much understanding of the Victorian period.

These points bring me to my next issue: she is very judgemental of the figures she is writing about, and judgemental without a lot of regard for prevailing historical attitudes. She is constantly irritated that Agatha Christie had servants and was happy having servants, and that she basically participated in the class system of her day. The author describes Agatha's father thusly: "he was intelligent and charming, but he was a fool" (I have paraphrased, but she does use the word 'fool'). She does not apparently feel the need to justify this remark, but it seems it is because his finances went poorly. He was not backward in spending money, but apparently one of his trustees in America embezzled and one went insane. What a fool to have let that happen?

I will happily rant further if anyone would like to know more. :)