I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Posts in culture:

Palo Alto Named Second-Most-Educated City in U.S.

Camira Powell of Peninsula Press:

An analysis done by the consumer resource site NerdWallet concludes that Palo Alto is the second “most educated” place in the nation. As the home of desirable Stanford University, innovative technology companies like IDEO and Hewlett-Packard, it makes sense that this Bay Area enclave climbs to the top.

Somebody ought to work out in which city you’re most likely to be trampled to death by oblivious, shallow, self-absorbed douchebags. I bet Palo Alto would rank pretty highly on that list, too.

Something Has To Be Done About Our Police

Radley Balko, for Salon:

Sal Culosi is dead because he bet on a football game — but it wasn’t a bookie or a loan shark who killed him. His local government killed him, ostensibly to protect him from his gambling habit.

The poor guy used to enjoy placing low-stakes bets on college football with his friends. An ersatz-Rambo cop decided he’d talk the guy into upping the stakes so that he and his idiot fratboy colleagues could show up at Culosi’s house all SWAT-team style and execute him–he was unarmed, mind you–right on his front lawn.

We live in willful, blissful stupidity under a militarized regime, and every single thing we do is under supercomputer scrutiny. How could that possibly go wrong?

OK, let’s get back to liquefying our brains with TMZ.

State Of California Sterilizes Female Inmates

Corey G. Johnson of The Sacramento Bee:

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not right,’ ” said [Crystal] Nguyen, 28. “Do they think they’re animals, and they don’t want them to breed anymore?”

Umm, yeah, that’s exactly what they think, and that’s exactly what they want.

Brazil Angry at U.S. Over PRISM

Reuters :

Brazil will demand an explanation from the United States over [a] report its citizens’ electronic communications have been under surveillance by U.S. spy agencies for at least a decade, foreign minister Antonio Patriota said on Sunday.

It should be totally cool for our government to spy on every single person alive, right? Why limit the spying to the taxpayers who fund the spying–to citizens formerly protected by our Constitution? Hell, we don’t owe the Brazilians anything. Let’s totally videotape them while they poop, bro.

Handing Out Your HBO GO Password May Land You In Jail

Jenna Wortham writes, for the New York Times, about the growing trend of sharing TV streaming service passwords with friends:

[Last] Sunday afternoon, some friends and I were hanging out in a local bar, talking about what we’d be doing that evening. It turned out that we all had the same plan: to watch the season premiere of Game of Thrones. But only one person in our group had a cable television subscription to HBO, where it is shown. The rest of us had a crafty workaround.

If you truly want to protect your property, mightn’t it make more sense simply to come up with an authentication method more advanced than Cold-War-era solutions like passwords? Or–I’m just spitballing here–maybe realize that some of the people “stealing” your shows are the same people who would pay you for them if you would let them?

Media corporations (let’s talk about legislators some other time) still can’t figure out which century this is. I often hear the argument that they are “attached to their entrenched assumptions,” and that they “simply wish to preserve their existing business model,” etc. I understand the desire to stick to something that works–until it quits working. At that point, maybe it’s time to change your approach. I mean, if you’re not a damned idiot.

Man Creates Symbol for “The”, At Great Expense

Behold the kooky tale of the zany Australian guy who decided he’d just unilaterally change the way our language is written–which will totally work, because he’s the God of the English Language:

Famous Australian restauranteur Paul Mathis has invented a new symbol that he hopes will replace the word “the” in everyday communications. Written much like the cyrillic [sic] letter “Ћ” and pronounced “th,” it’s a typographic ligature of an uppercase T and a lowercase h.

And here’s my favorite part:

Mathis has invested around $75,000AUD (around $68,000) into developing the symbol…

Oh, really? It costs that much money to lay an “h” on top of a “T”? I would have assumed it’d never cost more than $30,000.

I wonder what he’d say if he knew enough about the history of the language–the one he alone can advance with his brilliant and original innovations, mind you–to know that we already have not one but two symbols for the dental fricative: þ and ð. And they’re free!

A Nice Man Showed Him A Chunk of His Vas Deferens

Sam Davies on his vasectomy:

Most long-term birth control involves regularly putting chemicals into a woman’s body. Kat was wary of the side effects that come with different types of female contraception. If there was a pill that I could have taken I would have taken it, but the patriarchy is a bitch. Since we were D-O-N-E done, there was an option that made sense for our family: a vasectomy.

I’ve always thought there was something a little nightmarish about birth control pills–all those uninvited hormones can do weird things to a person. If a couple is sure they don’t want a(nother) baby, there are a lot of ways, other than weird chemicals, to get there. I applaud Sam for taking the ballsy choice.

I’m not sure about that photo of the scissors, though.

What the “End” of the BART Strike Really Means

There are a few things to unpack in this article from The New York Times :

A strike that shut down the commuter train service in the San Francisco Bay Area will end Friday after management and the transit workers’ unions agreed Thursday night to extend the current labor contract for 30 days and resume service in the meantime.

In other words, management understands that some arrangement has to be made. From any practical perspective, a BART shutdown has major effects upon the Bay Area’s economy. The workers are acknowledged to have some power.

more »

“Restore The Fourth” Protests Abound Today

Gloria Goodale, for The Christian Science Monitor:

For most Americans, the Fourth of July means barbecue and fireworks. But this year, a coalition of activists rallying to the cry of “Restore the Fourth” is hoping to use the day, both online and offline, to highlight what it calls serious violations of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

I’m glad to see that there are, in fact, some Americans for whom beer and pork are lower priorities than taking a stand. However–and call me cynical if you like–I wonder if this particular genie is ever going to get anywhere near the bottle ever again.

Inventor of Computer Mouse Passes Away

From John Markoff’s piece on the death of Douglas C. Englebart for the New York Times :

Then it came to him. In a single stroke he had what might be called a complete vision of the information age. He saw himself sitting in front of a large computer screen full of different symbols, a vision most likely derived from his work on radar consoles while in the Navy after World War II. The screen, he thought, would serve as a display for a workstation that would organize all the information and communications for a given project.

It’s hard to imagine anything that has changed the world more rapidly and more profoundly than the seemingly banal computer mouse. Remember, it changed everything about how humans interact with computers: there were no icons before its introduction–no kind of GUI at all, really. It was all text. Talk about leaving a legacy.

I find it hard to believe sometimes just how far personal computing has come in my short lifetime. When I was a kid, you had to program the computer yourself, and it was connected to a giant cathode ray tube. And now we have jerkwads walking around with computers on their faces. Crazy.