The web has transformed everyone into their own advertising press. Neil Gaiman's The Sandman has been one of my favorite reads for a while. The somber and gothic genre bloomed from Alan Moore's old works. I find out now that Neil has his own website with promotion material up-the-gazzoo. I guess you can't really blame him because everyone must put their best foot forward to pay homage to the dollar.
A favorite read of mine, Dave Roger's Time' Shadow (which I have been following for quite some time), talks about Individualism. True individualism in America is very difficult. It offers no social rewards and exacts a great amount of personal sacrifice. Its pursuit is more difficult than swimming upstream. We are always bombarded with onslaughts of advertisements and various tools of social manipulations that having even a handful of personal thoughts a day is difficult.
Being situated in Florida (near Cocoa beach, I think), Dave gets to see the eastern sunrise often. Sometimes it's the smallest of things that help us in the road to find ourselves.
"The Quiet American" finally opened in Vegas last week. It only seemed to be playing at the Brendan Theatres inside the Palms. I hurried to go watch it because serious movies don't tend to stay in the theatres long.
This is especially true when it opened near the release dates of Jet Li's new movie as well as DareDevil. I liked the film very much and highly recommend that you catch it if it is playing at your nearby theatre.
The story takes place during the Vietnam war, between the years 1960 and 1966. It presents a snapshot of the political struggles during the period when the French were being pushed out of Vietnam and the entry of the Americans. For the older folks or those who have a sense of Vietnam history, the scenes of the older Vietnam will be very nostalgic. Additionally, there are various perspectives about the Americans, British, and French involvement in the Vietnam struggle.
The filming took place in Hanoi in order to portray some historic scenes. The actual story mostly takes place in Saigon and provides a snapshot of some of the major events that happened during that period.
If you do get a chance to see it in the theatres, please don't miss it. The scenery is wonderful and watching it on the small screen won't be quite the same.
Our quality of life has gone downhill since the beginning of the 19th century. No, I don't begrudge the large amounts of innovations that have claimed to make our lives better. Nor do I resent the fact that we have more leisure time than people in the 19th century. Today, I just want to talk specifically of "fast food" and how it affects our lives in general. The claim is that it will reduce our time spent with food, is produced cheaply, and is available virtually anywhere and anytime. Little do we know what we are putting into ourselves when we consume the McDonalds, Cokes, or Pepsis. Little do we realize that the repeated consumption of excess fat and sugar will end up sitting for years in our bodies, even to the point that we are decomposing deep in the ground. I must admit that after decades of developing the tastes for these foods, they actually tastes semi-decently when consumed. I'm not quite sure whether that is due to habit or craving but I believe that is why we come back again and again despite our better judgements.
Unfortunately we have lost the idea that there are near infinitely many other foods in the world. There are more food besides burger, fries, pizza, and fried chicken. We have calloused our tastebuds and sense of quality down to the point where we can barely discern what is good anymore. Our society wants us to consume "fast food". The more we consume the more we make the franchise owners rich and the more they will in-turn want us to consume. It is a logarithmically downward spiral. Do you get the sense that we are in hell yet?
I am pleasantly surprised to come across a new movement at "slowfood.com". It is a basic perceptual change of thought towards food. It is in contrast to everything "fast food".
I went back to Comdex for a second day. There was still a moderate crowd. There were lots of gee-wiz products especially with Microsoft's tabletPCs. However, I will bet they are quite expensive to use and too delicate to just plop around the house or in the yard. Gee-wiz products of yester-years that managed to survive that have hit the mainstream are coming down in price. For me, this would seem interesting. One product, in particular is the touch-screen. They have become affordable because I am seeing 15" listing for under $300. This is wonderful if you want to create a product that is essentially a kiosk. Living in Vegas, I see a ton of those in the casinos.
There was also voice-recognition but unfortunately the computer still doesn't know what to do with your words. File-manager browsing would be nice.... for the moment, it's just a thought fancy though. DVDs are starting to hit the mainstream because there is an entire section of DVD-writer manufacturers, DVD media suppliers, and a whole slew of DVD software makers. Springing off of the DVD craze are movie making software. Movie making is now consumer territory.
I just got back from the first day of Comdex 2002 at the Las Vegas Convention center. This is my second Comdex and getting there just reminded me of my first one I attended in 1996 when I was working for HP. As I recall, I told myself "never again..." back then. I was so overwhelmed by the crowd and fervor that it was almost the worst experience I ever had. This time, I was hoping for less of a crowd because of the state of the economy this year. In truth, the crowd was thinner than before. However, the show is still like a bazaar marketplace with everyone selling, selling, selling.
I was shooting for attending the Scott McNealy keynote speech. Arriving a little late, I felt bad coming into the filled conference room. The entire front were filled and there was a large screen projection showing McNealy for the people in the back. I wanted a closer look so I just walked to near the front and stood listening. McNealy was bashing Internet Explorer and Microsoft. Then he talked about how wonderfully open Sun was. Then he bashed IBM. Then it's back to bashing Microsoft. Everyone was lapping it up as if it were gospel. Ok, after 30 minutes I was disappointed and slowly walked out of the room. Nothing to learn here.... just more marketing for companies that have more than enough marketing already.
I wandered around the exhibit hall for a while and got more and more lost. That's ok... I figured I would pick up some toys and such since Comdex was known for those. Well, everyone is skimping this year and there were none to be had. Instead, there was advertising literature and CD ROMs everywhere. The candy trays were even skimpier than Halloween. It must be a bad year.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed there was a Forum Discussion event happening. Curious, I decided to poke my head in for a listen. It was Kevin Mitnick talking about circumventing security. (in case you don't know, Mitnick was a famous/infamous hacker that got sent to jail for his hacking in the 80's and was barred from touching a computer) He talked on about social engineering and how all the gadgets in the world won't protect your company's data if it is leaked out by employees. He talked about his start with hacking and the subsequent brush with the FBI and the law. His talk continued on about his book and obviously he was promoting it. Surprisingly, Mitnick was quite eloquent while speaking; I didn't expect that from a hacker. The topics were engaging so I stayed for the entire talk. He mentioned that Kevin Spacey was also in town and they are collaborating on a movie about enterprise security measures. That should be interesting and is slated to come out in 2003.
Last week I spent 3 hours in line to get tickets to the Creed fan appreciation show. The Thomas and Mack is just in front of UNLV so there were tons of college students in line just before their next class. Either that or they cut class for half a day to stand in line. I expect the show to be a packed house on Oct. 29th.
There is a good article on HBO's approach to getting quality back to television: A hit is a hit. This same way of thinking applies to many things in life. The quality in the thing (in this case, television content) doesn't necessarily translate to having the most followers or attracting the most eyeballs. Jerry Springer and the Anna Nicole show sure gets lots of viewers.... but are they quality shows? Most times, quality doesn't necessarily translate to providing immediate gratification. But in the long run, it helps you in some way. TV can be a good mirror of life and can help you in letting you see how others handle certain situations. It can help you connect to the human element of an otherwise cold alienating world. On the flip side, some shows only use it to reflect all the ugliness of life and nothing but the ugly.