Compound interest applied to learning

>> Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Now for the matter of drive. You observe that most great scientists have tremendous drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He had tremendous drive. One day about three or four years after I joined, I discovered that John Tukey was slightly younger than I was. John was a genius and I clearly was not. Well I went storming into Bode’s office and said, “How can anybody my age know as much as John Tukey does?” He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, grinned slightly, and said, “You would be surprised Hamming, how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years.” I simply slunk out of the office!

What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.” Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity – it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime. I took Bode’s remark to heart; I spent a good deal more of my time for some years trying to work a bit harder and I found, in fact, I could get more work done. I don’t like to say it in front of my wife, but I did sort of neglect her sometimes; I needed to study. You have to neglect things if you intend to get what you want done. There’s no question about this.
~Richard Hamming

(h/t Jason Kottke)


Atomic Blonde

>> Friday, November 24, 2017

When I saw this at the library last week, I thought "perfect timing" because Thanksgiving break was soon. I would have time to watch this. Because this movie requires no brains.

I really liked the first 35-40 minutes. So basically the first act. And at that point I felt like I knew everything about the story. Then I checked to see how much longer it was. I had more than an hour to go. Really?! Yup. That second act was way too long. It really kills the momentum because there isn't much more to the story than what we've already discovered.

The fights are great. I remember reading an article sometime within the past four or five months where someone stated that Charlize's character in Atomic Blonde is what men think women should be in action films rather than what Diana is in Wonder Woman. I don't agree with that at all. I think that demonstrates a very narrow view of women.

Anyhow, this movie would probably be much better all around if the middle was trimmed by about 5-10 minutes. The longer running time isn't adding anything. And, also, I didn't buy that last twist in the last scene. It's not earned, and I find it beyond ridiculous. Like, no way in real life would that possibly happen. Not even close.

And I didn't necessarily buy Charlize's British/English accent in the film. I'm not an expert on accents, but it seemed slightly off to me.


Jennifer's Body

>> Thursday, November 16, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, right before Halloween, I had some time and realized, hey, I've never watched this. It just popped into my head like some blast from the past. I remember when it came out years ago wanting to see it because there were so few films directed by women, and even less horror films. Of course, even today, there are still few films directed by women that get a real release. It wasn't available to watch on Netflix, so I had to check it out from the library. Okay, technically, my local library didn't have it either, so I had to request it on an inter-library loan. Sheesh! It was a lot of work to get my hands on this thing. And then I didn't have time to watch it until earlier this week, long past Halloween at this point.

I'm not going to pretend that this is the greatest movie ever made, but it's a good horror movie, far better than the 43% it has on Rotten Tomatoes. I felt for the characters. I had some genuine squeamish-ness happening when watching some of the boys get trapped, brutally killed, and eaten. And this is by far the best performance I've ever seen Megan Fox give, even though I've only seen her in the two Transformers movies she did. (I know that's not a ringing endorsement, but she's capable of being more than just a pretty face with a bangin' bod.) Watching the scene where her character, Jennifer, is murdered was actually tough to watch. She was just a kid who was brutally murdered. And she was truly terrified of what was happening to her.

It's a shame what she did to her face though. I could totally tell in some scenes that she had lip injections and botox done, particularly the scene where she's swimming in the lake and gets a close-up. Girl, you so didn't need to do that!



>> Sunday, November 12, 2017

This is kind of a weird film to watch, but I still really liked it. It's not weird in the way that The Lobster was weird, but...I'm not quite sure what the exact words should be. It's a drama, but then it has some funny moments that when they happened made me feel as if I was watching some kind of farce, which the movie is most certainly not.

The main character, Michèle, is the protagonist but has some...anti-heroine qualities, perhaps?  I'm not sure how to describe her. She's complex for sure. A real human being, not a cipher. She feels like a real person, multi-dimensional and all.

But this story only makes sense if you consider that people, in general, respond to trauma differently. As has often be said in the last year--at least in what I read--there is no one way to respond to sexual assault/rape. Because Michèle does not respond in a "conventional" way.

And because of that, I cannot see Michèle as anything other than a French woman. American women just aren't allowed to be that complex on a movie screen. Michèle can't be described in three words or less. Watching this depict French social life reminded me of a long, long time ago when I watched Trois couleurs: Rouge for the first time. The way people interact there is so different from here.

And that rape scene is right at the beginning. I figured it would be within the first 10 minutes when I popped the dvd into the player, but I did NOT think it would be the very first scene. With the cat watching. Like, that's one reason I favor dogs as pets, just for the automatic scare factor. Cats rarely defend people; dogs much more likely to.

Am totally going to get a dog some day after I get out of school.


Doctor Strange

>> Sunday, July 2, 2017

Watched this last week while continuing my preference to not pay for another Marvel movie in the theater. (I might make an exception for Black Panther when it comes out next February, but I have 8 months until that happens.) And a week later, I can't really find a whole lot to say about it.

There's such a paint-by-numbers aspect to the story line. Rachel McAdams' character, whose name I can't remember, is the love interest, but that seems perfunctory & pointless, particularly after watching Wonder Woman. Did her character really need to have a romantic angle to it? I think it could have just worked fine if they were very good friends; his asshole quality would still shine through without the love of a good-woman-type thing going on.

The only thing worth remembering is the end fight with Dormammu, and that's only because Strange was able to defeat him using his brain, not fists. Oh, and maybe the, not really. It's a good gag that probably will get used over & over again to fill time because the Marvel machine has a predetermined destination that they've got to get to. No real room to let things breathe & live.

At this point, I'm totally over the end of credits scenes. We all know the release schedule. Anyone can look things up online. Thor meeting Strange over a beer while saying he needs to find his father,, I don't care long term. And finding out that Mordo will clearly be the villain for Strange's next outing...I don't care there either.

It boggles my mind after seeing it how it did so well on Rotten Tomatoes. It's not bad movie, but it doesn't do anything that distinguishable from the other Marvel movies.



>> Saturday, May 6, 2017

Has it really been three years since this was released in theaters? With all the airline shit that has been happening recently, this movie feels completely relevant. Not because it's completely realistic. But because it captures my current feelings of what a shit show it is to be on an airplane because you need to fly. All you want is to get from point A to point B like you planned, but other punks on the plane have different ideas. One wrong word and you're going to be screwed. It kind of reminded me of Speed, where everyone is trapped on the bus; although, it didn't have the element of the protagonist possibly being crazy.

I really enjoyed the who-dun-it aspect of this movie. It wasn't easy to figure out. I'm not sure I buy the motive of the villain/hijacker/terrorist at the end, but this isn't supposed to be a completely realistic movie. Great cast though, which kept me thinking as to who it could possibly be.

This is the first Liam Neeson action-renaissance movie I've seen since he started doing those almost 10 years ago. I've long wanted to see The Grey but just haven't been able to watch it yet.



>> Thursday, May 4, 2017

I remember wanting to see this when it originally came out 10 years ago. (Has it really been that long? Yes...but you know sometimes it just doesn't feel like it.) I think my main reason was because Michelle Pfeiffer was in it. Don't get to see her much at the movies, which is always a shame. She always gives a good performance.

I liked this. I think it's really good, but kind of suffers from a lack of pacing. Everything just seems to happen with equal impact and focus. That and it does seem just a tad long. Like, you could probably trim a little bit more here and there, and it might be better for it. It's not indulgent by any means, but by the time I got to the end I thought everything had taken so long. By the time I got to the end, I had totally forgotten about Peter O'Toole at the beginning because it felt like an eternity. Which isn't to say that I was bored, but...just needed a little bit less of something.

I must say that I was somewhat confused by Charlie Cox's hair in the first half of the movie because it didn't match what was on the poster. It made sense later on, but part of me was slightly mad because it felt like false advertising. Like, it's super flowing, kind of long hair on the poster, and in the first half of the movie he had a normal, non-flowing, short hair cut. Yes, I was disappointed by his hair! And since I'm still nitpicking, Claire Danes lack of eyebrows kind of annoyed me. Like, were they supposed to be super blond eyebrows because she was a star? I don't know. I think she looks better with a little more eyebrow. Otherwise, I really liked her as Yvaine though. And that silver dress she wore at the beginning.

I was kind of surprised that Matthew Vaughn had directed it. I saw Layer Cake so long ago. I've seen X-Men: First Class, which I mostly liked. Sienna Miller pops up in this, and it always makes me think back to 10 years ago when she was the latest ingenue. I remember thinking "why her?" back then. I still think that sometimes when it comes to her, but I think she's much better actress now. But when I saw her in this, "why her?" came to mind once again.


Brangelina: The Untold Story of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

>> Saturday, April 22, 2017

I finished this a month ago. Couldn't bring myself to write about it earlier due to school stress (aka finals). This isn't the most revelatory read, particularly since it was published in 2009. Clearly it's due for an update.

But what struck me the most while reading it was how much I had forgotten. At least half of this book is taken from previously published tabloid material. Material that Angelina Jolie would probably rather everybody forget. And I name her specifically because she is much more the focus of this book than Brad.

I suppose it's a shame that I turned the book back to the library because I can't remember all the shit she did way back when. It's been too long. I do, of course, remember her kissing her brother at the 2000 Oscars. And that was already after she made out with him at the Golden Globes. If I remember correctly, Andrew Morton's biography of her made it seem like she did the kissing out of some kind of revenge strategy since her brother was considered to be more talented than her growing up. Morton didn't seem to address as much of the controversy that happened when AJ did what she did. Or at least not to any extent that I can remember. (And Morton's book has to be one of the most boring considering the star subject. It just droned on and on...)
AJ kissing her bro at the GG

But at least this book took her actions a little more seriously. The author did the somewhat dopey thing of posing with a paid actor at a "sibs" gathering--brother & sister romantic & sexual pairings. Yeah, it's gross, I know. But when I think back to 2000 when all of this happened, this was what most people were genuinely wondering and talking about after it happened in such a public fashion. It wasn't undercover. She did it where all the world's cameras could see.

And why? No one really knows. Some of the "sibs" that the author secretly talked to genuinely thought that AJ and her brother were legitimately getting it on and were going to come out and state it. But that didn't happen. No, she decided to marry Billy Bob instead.

Which was something that this book actually called bullshit on. And that's something worth noting regardless of what kind of journalist you think he is. He noted that no one ever noticed any kind of relationship or romance or affair happening between BBT & Jolie until they were suddenly married. Like, NO ONE bought that it was a real romance or relationship in Hollywood. It was all just a show so that she could seem more stable and normal to land the Lara Croft role in Tomb Raider.

Kissing at the Oscars
Something that makes total sense given that it was well published back in 2000 that she had herself committed to a psych ward for 72 hours. I remember back at the time I found out about it in the tabloids, and the reason given then was that she was upset that she might not be able to be with BBT. This book calls bullshit on that. He established briefly that she was forced to see a counselor back in high school for some unknown reason. She's made reference to it in interviews, but basically was able to swat the question away when it came up and make it seem like nothing. But when you consider that her father went on television and spoke about her needing to get mental help a few years later, quite possibly there is something truly there.

And speaking of her father, the book does a pretty good job, with its cut and paste from previously published material, establishing that Jolie's relationship with her father was fairly decent until he went on Access Hollywood and stated that she needed mental help. The book notes that it was basically Jon Voight's hail mary pass to get her attention since she and her manager (Geyer Kosinski) had already cut him out of her life. On the one hand, what's a concerned father to do? On the other, they're both drama queens.

Strangely this seems slightly relevant given that The Hollywood Reporter published an article just after I finished reading this book--Angelina Jolie's Drug Tests, Harassment and Wacky "Spiritual Hokum" on the Set of 'Tomb Raider'. It's an except from a biography of Paramount Studios chief Sherry Lansing. The book excerpt notes that Jolie's father AND Jane Fonda (!), who happens to be a family friend, both called Lansing to inform her that Jolie was "extremely fragile" back in 2000 before she landed the role of Lara Croft. It makes sense given everything that we know publicly happened--sucking face with her brother in public, past professions of suicidal ideation & wanting to hire a hitman to kill her, multiple statements about past drug abuse.

PDA w/boob squeeze
At this point, I'm somewhat of the opinion that she was sucking face with her brother because she knew she could get attention. She always wants to make things about her. So when it basically backfired after the Oscars, she probably down-spiraled into a pit of despair. She was friends with Billy Bob, and somehow convinced him to marry her to maintain her image as not an actual brother-lover so she could nab the role of Lara Croft. (Condolences were never given to Laura Dern about this.) AJ & BBT then commenced acting all loved up all the time in public to make people believe that their relationship was legit.

It makes the author's point that she knows how to pivot to protect her image the one continuing theme in her life. And she's able to do it so well because--according to the author of this book--she was supposedly diagnosed as a sociopath in high school. Something that sounds really headline-grabbing, but when I think about it, it makes total sense. She has hardly any friends and even admits so publicly. Plus she doesn't seem to have any regard for other people's feelings. Like, even her children. I cannot abide the way she handled her separation from Brad because it seemed purely motivated to trash her children's father publicly, which certainly wasn't in the best interests of her kids. But, she needed to look like she was a wronged woman in some respect so that she could maintain her public sainthood. Whatever...

That's something most people were able to realize given how many people have either been through divorce with children or are children whose parents divorced. Except for Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip. Because she has been--on more than one occasion--posting about the Brangelina relationship or divorce from straight up AJ's ass. And there is no more perfect, recent example than her commentary on the Sherry Lansing biography excerpt titled "Babysitting Angelina."

We've already established that by 2000--where this excerpt takes place--AJ has admitted to past drug use, suicidal ideation, publicly stated that she tried to hire a hit man to kill her, made out with her brother in public, and had herself committed to a psych ward for 72 hours shortly after winning an Oscar. But this is how Lainey interprets everything that could necessitate AJ needing a "babysitter":
Angelina Jolie was 24 years old at the time. She really wanted to the job. She already knew what that job would do for her career – and, you could say, her life, since Lara Croft took her to Cambodia and that’s where she met Maddox. So she was prepared to meet their conditions and do the work. What’s fascinating to me, however, is how in the retelling of this story, all these men were making decisions for her. They were the ones who decided to hire the babysitter, they were the ones who fired the babysitter, like let me tell you what’s best for you, little girl, because we’re concerned about your emotional wellbeing…but, you know, at the same time, we really need to profit from you.
Yeah, it was all about the men keeping Angelina Jolie down. Men like...Jane Fonda? Lainey conveniently forgets to mention that there were REASONS why the studio and those involved in the production had reason to believe that AJ could go off the rails. She committed HERSELF to a psych ward. That was well established back in 2000 shortly after it happened.

AJ in 2016. (The legs are NOT photoshopped.)
And posts like that by Lainey are why I can no longer take her seriously as a gossip columnist. One, she doesn't write much gossip anymore. It's mostly commentary either by her or her contributors. Two, she won't comment on obvious problems regarding people she likes such as Angelina Jolie. AJ has looked pretty damn skeletal for years. But does Lainey comment on the obvious? State why AJ is so damn skeletal? Nope. And according to Lainey, AJ isn't on heroin. Or on any other kind of opiate. And yet how do you explain her legs at the Kung Fu Panda 3 premiere last year? I can explain it with the simple "drugs & eating disorder" answer. But Lainey doesn't bother to ask the question at all now. She would comment on the obvious lack of nourishment 10 years ago but not now. All Lainey wants to do now is talk about how much of a "boss" AJ is, even when AJ doesn't do anything particularly noteworthy like giving an interview to Vogue magazine while promoting a film. Ugh.

I've long been of the opinion that Ted Casablanca was always king of the gossip heap. I've also long been of the opinion that AJ is Fake-à-la Ferocity. I vaguely remember that Ted commented a long time ago--before his column ended--that Brad & Angelina were no longer love birds as of years ago. Lainey, however, has an actual Pitt Porn tag/category for her posts to document the very public affection of Brangelina.

What Ted said & wrote about definitely made more sense after reading this book since the author noted that AJ would yell & scream at Brad when other people were around to see. She can be charming, but then that would just flip and she'd be her psycho self. After seeing how she was able to sell a relationship with BBT for a couple of years, it probably wasn't much of a stretch for her to do it with someone higher up the totem pole, aka Brad Pitt. Ted was right; Lainey is wrong.


The Crown

>> Friday, February 24, 2017

Finally finished this last night. It took me almost a month to finish this because I've been so damn busy. There were two weeks in between the last two episodes I watched last night, and when I watched episode 8. It was almost as if I couldn't really remember where the story was when I started watching again. I guess that's the power of midterms...

Anyway, I think the episodes in the first half are the best. That and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. His episode focused on his portrait was quite excellent. Had no idea that had even happened. Too bad the painting didn't survive. And I didn't recognize Stephen Dillane (aka Stannis Baratheon) as the painter until I saw his name on cast list.

It's really kind of hard to understand or perhaps empathize with some of the drama back in the 1950s though. I mean, Princess Margaret's situation regarding wanting to marry Peter Townsend wouldn't happen today. And it's even harder to understand why the government wouldn't allow it when so many cabinet members and MPs were divorced and remarried. Hypocrites & politics always go together though.

I actually am looking forward to more of the future seasons, particularly when they get to Margaret's scandal & divorce in the 70s and Diana. Can't wait to see how they handle Diana.

I also can't wait until 2060 when the British Parliament can reveal that Prince Philip isn't Prince Andrew's biological father. I always thought it was weird how different Andrew looked compared to Charles & Edward. Now I understand why. Lord Porchester is his biological father. Only four more decades to go before it's officially revealed!


Not sure I agree with this

>> Sunday, December 25, 2016

but she has a valid point.

Q: So much contemporary female writing is accused of narcissism. Have you escaped the charge of narcissism, or have you received it? I’d like to bind this question to your comments about women who “practice a conscious surveillance on themselves” who before were “watched over by parents, by brothers, by husbands, by the community.” You have written that women who practise surveillance on themselves are the “heroines of our time,” but it’s precisely these women—real and fictional—who are accused of the sin of narcissism, as if a woman looking at herself (rather than being looked at by a man) was insulting to everyone. How do you understand this charge?

A: I’ve never felt narcissism to be a sin. It seems, rather, a cognitive tool that, like all cognitive tools, can be used in a distorted way. No, I think it’s necessary to be absolutely in love with ourselves. It’s only by reflecting on myself with attention and care that I can reflect on the world. It’s only by turning my gaze on myself that I can understand others, feel them as my kin. On the other hand it’s only by assiduously watching myself that I can take control and train myself to give the best of myself. The woman who practises surveillance on herself without letting herself be the object of surveillance is the great innovation of our times.
~Elena Ferrante, interviewed by Sheila Heti


I like what he's saying...

>> Monday, December 5, 2016

But Tom Ford is still in there, so he can’t stop himself. So he says this next thing, and it doesn’t come off as lascivious, the way it might have years ago, but thoughtful and aware: Yes, he says, all men should be penetrated at some point. And not as in emotions. He means: All men should be fucked. “I think it would help them understand women,” he argues. “It’s such a vulnerable position to be in, and it’s such a passive position to be in. And there’s such an invasion, in a way, that even if it’s consensual, it’s just very personal. And I think there’s a psyche that happens because of it that makes you understand and appreciate what women go through their whole life, because it’s not just sexual, it’s a complete setup of the way the world works, that one sex has the ability to literally—and is expected to and is wanted to—but also there’s an invasion. And I think that that’s something most men do not understand at all.”
~Tom Ford, "Tom Ford's Wild Kingdom," GQ Magazine, December 2016.


The Lobster

>> Thursday, November 24, 2016

I guess this is a sci-fi movie. Doesn't really feel like it though. It's not super obvious. Seems more like an avant-garde romantic drama, which it certainly is. But people have mentioned it as a sci-fi film. I'm not sure if it's also supposed to be a dark comedy or not too.

It seems like such an abnormal society, but when I was watching it I actually just thought that it was mostly an exaggeration of how society reinforces certain notions of relationships. For instance, it's expected that after you get out of a relationship that you start another one soon after. Like, I remember--a long time ago--when people used to annoy me by asking why I wasn't in a relationship, and I remember answering that it's not like I was breaking the law by not being in one. Except in this society, I would be breaking the law. (It's almost like growing up in Utah.)

It demonstrates all the stupid shit people will do just to still be in a relationship, such as lying about weird personality traits or getting involved with a complete asshole/psychopath just so you won't be alone. And knowingly getting involved in relationships just for the social pretenses, 'cause society says you have to. When David went and joined the loners, I was like, hey, those are my people. Until they mentioned the "red kiss" and you notice that they're fanatics on the different end of the spectrum.

I'm not sure I found the last scene in the restaurant to be romantic. There's something about it that doesn't sit well with me. It makes total sense in the scope of the movie. I just would have thought that by the end David would have realized that being together is the most important thing, not trying to make another artificially forced reason for them to be permanently paired. Maybe it's because I have a clone, but wanting to be like someone else just to be with them seems like a waste.


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