R.I.P.: John Perry Barlow

Complicated guy. I thought his politics were a mess, and that he got conned by Tricky Dick Cheney (real limits of libertarianism exposed) though he later denounced the heartless creep and others — but why is this system better than being a progressive, man? (I know, I know, the wide-open West, etc etc.) Bob Weird is my least-favorite Grateful Dead member, but I will say he and Barlow did a lot to undercut the hippie-doofus image of the band with frequent passages about guns and violence and murder. There’s some worthy links here. I intend to grab his book in June.

Reflections on Second Life

Interesting update on, yes, quite faded “platform reality.” I stayed away from it not least because it was another way to avoid doing work and because the avatars seemed like such banal caricatures of real persons. And the idea had been around for a long time. I mean, Second Life is almost exactly what was imagined in “The Machine Stops.”

Day of the Doddering Dodo

This morning I think, “Hell’s smells, the last print issue of the Village Voice will hit town today, so why don’t I cruise over to Harvard Square — and specifically Out of Town News — where I grabbed acres of publications when I first moved here — and pick up a copy if any are left.”

So I get there and look around and no nuthin’ nowhere. Adding to my flightless and   clueless condition I ask: “Has the Village Voice sold out already?” Manager looks at me like I’m wearing paisley shorts with hair down to my butt and says “We haven’t got the Voice for four or five years!” “Well, the last print edition was yesterday.” “Ended for us a long time ago.”

So I go to the still-prime Newbury Comics and buy a couple CDs.

I attend an excellent free class on digital marketing of your brand. I am informed that Twitter analytics exists, which is serious news to me. Now I can see what’s going on over there a lot more. Might help me ask question to improve blog traffic,even.

 

 

 

Superb Piece on Myths About AI and Chess

I’m thrilled by this review (and the existence of its subject) for a number of reasons.

First off, I referred to this very topic in a (dare I say) prophetic post early in this blog.

Second it busts forever more the bogus reputation of chess as a game that favors brilliant minds. I grew up soaked in this hooey, which I noticed was most loudly pronounced by chess nurds (which I forgave because almost all of them were stomped like insects in other aspects of their social and intellectual lives). But I also suffered from it because I was lousy at chess (“not really so smart, huh?”). By struggling unsuccessfully to get better, I did come to appreciate that the game had its appeal and virtues, but I’ve never heard them articulated as well as Master Kasparov does here.

Finally I get the thrill of a chill by confirmation, once again, that too many people prefer zippy bullshit to the truth.

End of a TV Era

The last boxlike TV set I will ever own has just been hauled away by trash collectors. My family’s first set, about 60 years ago, had a screen about a third as big and tried very hard to be a boxlike piece of furniture.

I did not see the haul happen, but don’t care I did not get to say goodbye. Damned set had become a pain in the vacuum tube when it was evident we couldn’t get rid of it easily. Nobody wanted a boxlike TV even as a donation.

Movies Ain’t What They Used To Be …

Of the 25 top-grossing films of the 21st century so far, 20 have been visual-effects showcases like “Avatar,” “The Avengers” and “Jurassic World.” (The other five were entirely animated, like “Frozen.”) — New York Times Magazine

I adored animated features as a child and was enormously gratified when they re-found big-hit audiences with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? But I honestly wish there was more variety in movie smashes nowadays. More hints of theater. More emphasis on inspired writing. More grownups less all-ages.

(But like I say, at least the seating has never been better.)