Exploring the intersection of creativity and technology.

Written and collected by Ryan Catalani (@magicofpi).

  1. The first sunrise of 2013 here on Oahu’s east coast was rainy, but not gloomy — such showers are considered a blessing in Hawaiian culture, and seemed not to signal an ominous new year, but one filled with nourishment and growth.

    These photos are also on Flickr.

    Posted on January 1, 2013
  2. The Impossible is a new film, just released to general acclaim, depicting the true survival story of a family during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

    But what struck me about the trailer was its focus on white people. The movie’s protagonists are Spanish tourists. And there was only a fleeting shot of non-white people — yet the disaster killed over 200,000 people in Southeast Asia, mostly in Indonesia.

    I haven’t seen the film yet, but apparently this dearth of indigenous people continues in the full version. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott writes:

    Virtually everyone shown suffering after the tsunami is a European, Australian or American tourist, and the fact that the vast majority of the dead, injured and displaced were Asian never really registers. … And the terrible effects of the tsunami on the local population are barely acknowledged.

    I don’t mean to discount what apparently is an incredible work of acting and directing. But it seems somewhat disingenuous not give more attention to those who were actually affected by the tsunami.

    Posted on December 30, 2012
  3. bookmania:

Judging a Book by Its Lover. It is one of the coolest book trailers I’ve ever seen online. Going through it is such an experience. Thanks, Golda for sharing. Check it out: Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere.

    bookmania:

    Judging a Book by Its Lover. It is one of the coolest book trailers I’ve ever seen online. Going through it is such an experience. Thanks, Golda for sharing. Check it out: Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere.

    Posted on November 18, 2012
  4. berkeleybeacon:

Thanks to Houston Yang for creating this meme.
And you should take a few moments to fill out our political poll, and show how you feel about important issues this election season. It’s completely anonymous, and the results will be released November 1.

    berkeleybeacon:

    Thanks to Houston Yang for creating this meme.

    And you should take a few moments to fill out our political poll, and show how you feel about important issues this election season. It’s completely anonymous, and the results will be released November 1.

    Posted on October 24, 2012
  5. An astounding endorsement for Romeny

    The Orlando Sentinel, central Florida’s largest newspaper, endorsed Mitt Romney:

    Other presidents have succeeded even with the other party controlling Capitol Hill. Democrat Bill Clinton presided over an economic boom and balanced the budget working with Republicans. Leaders find a way.

    With Obama in charge, the federal government came perilously close to a default last year. Now it’s lurching toward another crisis with the impending arrival of massive tax hikes and spending cuts on Jan. 1.

    It is absolutely incredible how this editorial conveniently disregards the previously unimaginable levels of Republican obstructionism in both chambers of Congress. (“Democrats held strong majorities in the House and Senate during his first two years,” it argues, ignoring the GOP’s unprecedented use of the filibuster.)

    And “leaders find a way”? Obama did indeed find a way — to, among other things, rescue GM, pass an economic stimulus bill, add millions of jobs, and reform healthcare, despite consistent and nearly complete Republican opposition.

    It continues:

    Romney is not our ideal candidate for president. We’ve been turned off by his appeals to social conservatives and immigration extremists.

    Well, it’s a good thing, then, that Romney’s economic plan makes so much sense.

    If he doesn’t produce results — even with a hostile Senate — we’ll be ready in 2016 to get behind someone else who will.

    Yeah, what could go wrong in four years?

    The Sentinel’s endorsement of Romney isn’t itself bothersome — newspapers are, of course, free to support any candidate they’d like. But the editorial makes no mention of how Romney would specifically help Florida residents, and its reasons for supporting Romney in general are disingenuous or misleading. It’s disappointing to read.

  6. So you want to log into WebCT?

    People using the newest version of OS X, Mountain Lion, might see this warning after logging into WebCT:

    This stems from a new feature called “Gatekeeper,” meant to protect your computer from untrusted and possibly nefarious apps. But that doesn’t matter – the main problem is that you can only seem to press the “Deny” button, since “Java will not allow any access to this applet.” So how are you supposed to access WebCT?

    Clicking on “Show Details” offers more information:

    A certificate, in essence, is cryptographic file that verifies someone’s or something’s identity, and provides one of the most foundational elements of security on the Internet. With digital certificates, we know that facebook.com is really Facebook, not steal-your-facebook-info.com, and that your data is passing safely between your computer and Facebook — or in this case, that WebCT is really WebCT, not a malicious third-party.

    In this case, the certificate exists, but expired over five months ago: this means, in theory, that the certificate could be invalid or stolen. They can expire by mistake, though, and Emerson is trustworthy, so it’s probably safe to trust this certificate. It’s not really obvious, but the only way to do this is to check “Always trust ‘BlackboardInc.’”

    After entering your computer’s password and clicking “Allow” in the Java prompt, you may face another warning:

    This browser is unsupported? But it’s the latest version of Safari (6.0.1) on the latest version of OS X. Checking what browsers are supported identifies the issue:

    The page hasn’t been updated since the days of OS X 10.6 and Safari 4 – which were released more than three years ago, and are two versions outdated. I managed to track down a more recent version of the page, though:

    The penultimate OS X release is at least mentioned, but every browser tested is “unsupported,” or, according to the page’s glossary, “either impossible or not tested.” Since WebCT seems to work, it’s probably the latter. The page also says that “Google Chrome is not supported” — which might make sense, if Chrome wasn’t the most popular browser in the world.

    Maybe some these problems stem from the fact that this version of WebCT was initially released in 2005 — the year President Bush started his second term, YouTube was founded, and Pope John Paul II died. At least it still works, though — if a little slowly.

  7. The Sept. 3 New Yorker has an excellent article about Elgin James, a former Boston gang leader turned Hollywood star. The full story is hidden behind the New Yorker member paywall, but here are some choice quotes:

    In L.A. – that cradle of reinvention – [James] discovered that he had the essential qualities of a writer-director: charisma, determination, and a deep well of sorrow. “Something is broken inside of me,” he says, “and it’s easier to try to fix it in other people.”

    He was arrested by the FBI for attempted extortion as he was raising money for his film, “Little Birds.” He pleaded guilty, and just as his movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year to a captivated crowd, he was sentenced to a year in prison. To overcome his frustration, he took to (mentally) writing:

    "Prison filled me with all these thoughts I need to use in my writing, thoughts about not wanting anything to do with people because of how terrible we are, how selfish and greedy and rotten and beautiful."

    Yet even with his widely-recognized talent, he finds it hard to make money (after doing “Little Birds” for free, he’s really only earned $80,000 for a script rewrite) and stay true to his voice:

    Many in Hollywood have warmed to the Elgin James story because it fits one of the town’s stock narratives: the triumph of the human spirit. … [But the] industry reckons success by the box-office: as you bring in more money, you get paid more; and as you get paid more it become hard to preserve the authentic voice that made you desirable.

    It is hard for any filmmaker to escape this effect; Hollywood softened Scorcese voice from the intense “Mean Streets” to the tempered “Gangs of New York,” and it too will try to apply a mass-appeal varnish to James:

    When a talented outsider comes to Hollywood, he soon learns to temper his rough edges. … “They want ‘flavor’ and ‘unique point of view’—the sense of authenticity,” [said David Ayer]. “They take your madness and make it pop-y and shiny by supplying it with arcs, stakes, and ticking clocks.”

    Finally, something that struck me as a student at Emerson College, a school where “networking” is as common as partying, and the “Emerson Mafia” refers not to mobsters but the school’s strong alumni connections:

    People skills are Hollywood’s currency. Stacey Snider, the C.E.O. of DreamWorks studios, explains, “To be a bad-boy Hemmingway, you just need a computer, but film has real barriers to entry. You have to convince someone to put up millions, or even hundreds of millions, and then you need to get two hundred people to work together. So if you’re antisocial you’ll flame out.”


    Photo sources: Top, via The Daily Beast / Millenium Entertainment; bottom, via The New York Times / Millenium Entertainment.

    Posted on September 30, 2012
  8. A study in sensationalist science journalism

    According to The Telegraph, a recent study showed couples that share their housework are more likely to divorce – a finding characterized by the writer as “a slap in the face for gender equality.” A co-author of the study, Thomas Hansen, says that “the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate.”

    Yet midway through the article comes this paragraph:

    But the deeper reasons for the higher divorce rate, he suggested, came from the values of “modern” couples rather than the chores they shared.

    "In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially," continues Hansen.

    Another article admits:

    Researchers found no, or very little, cause-and-effect. Rather, they saw in the correlation a sign of “modern” attitudes.

    In other words, sharing housework is only correlated to higher divorce rates. Specifically, “modern” couples are both more likely to share housework, see marriage as less sacred, and have wives with more economic mobility – but it is probably only the last two factors that actually cause higher divorce rates.

    It’s the typical cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy – correlation does not imply causation. Unfortunately, sensationalist headlines, not logic and reason, often drive clicks to websites.

  9. cheatsheet:

The Guardian wins for best poll-tracker of the day. 

    cheatsheet:

    The Guardian wins for best poll-tracker of the day

    (via thedailyfeed)

    Posted on September 26, 2012
  10. berkeleybeacon:

    President Pelton had his inauguration ceremony on Friday, where he officially became the college’s 12th president — and during the ceremony, #Pelton2012 became a trending topic in Boston. See more photos and read the story here.

    Photos by Ally Chapman / Beacon Staff.

    Posted on September 16, 2012