Reviews for September 2023

Updated on Friday, September 22, 2023

Spoilers!

Movies

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Review:Movies:Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Very nearly skipped this as the Crystal Skull installment was atrocious. The dial is the Antikythera mechanism which is cool, although it's a toddler proofed version with a very different function than the original. The film's heart is in the right place and it's much closer to the originals, but the CGI young Indie kind of sinks it. Harrison Ford is showing his age but better than any plausible replacement (definite Joe Biden vibes) and I wish they'd stuck with that. Instead there is a lot of flashback to fake young Indie which would make for an impressive demo but doesn't work in a major movie. Maybe the technology will get there one day, or maybe we should hand the baton on to a new generation of heros (again with Joe Biden parallels).

Operation Napoleon

Review:Movies:Operation Napoleon

Fun Icelandic thriller about a Nazi plane that crashed with a mysterious cargo.

Music

America

Haunting music and video by London Grammar. Keeps growing on me.

Podcasts

FiveThirtyEight Politics

Review:Podcasts:FiveThirtyEight Politics

In the run up to Trump's first election I started listening to the NPR Politics Podcast. It was hard to keep up, and the opening with the hour and minute where the content would still be relevant was on the nose. It's since got tired, and they unfortunately switched to a daily update which doesn't have much depth. Safe to say if I'm listening to a politics podcast I know the headlines already. Luckily I also started listening to FiveThirtyEight Politics. Nate Silver might be gone, but it's still great, diving into nerdy detail on the tiniest little thing. This goes to the top of my queue each time it's published, mostly twice a week at the moment.

Intrigue Burning Sun

Review:Podcasts:Intrigue Burning Sun

Disturbing reporting on K-Pop, rape and the Koran legal system.

Intrigue Mayday

Review:Podcasts:Intrigue Mayday

A dead British soldier, the White Helmets and fake chemical attacks in Syria.

Intrigue Tunnel 29

Review:Podcasts:Intrigue Tunnel 29

Yes I will be listening to the entire back catalogue of Intrigue this month. Tunnel 29 is the story of a tunnel under the Berlin wall. It's the best from Intrigue so far.

TV

Good Omens Season 2

Review:TV:Good Omens Season 2

The archangel Gabriel shows up naked at Aziraphale's bookshop, hijinks ensue. Great sequel.

Kaleidoscope

Review:TV:Kaleidoscope

In principle Kaleidoscope is very clever because you can watch most of the episodes in any order, and Netflix says that everyone gets a random shuffle. In practice though it's a heist and so you already know every detail, only the specific macguffins and flourishes need to be added. I enjoyed it.

Special Ops Lioness Season 1

Review:TV:Special Ops Lioness Season 1

A little soapy. I'd rather watch Jack Ryan and Grey's Anatomy separately rather than mashed up together like an experimental ice cream flavor. Has its moments though.

(All images included with ITHCWY reviews are the property of their respective owners and are used to illustrate reviews only.)

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Reviews for September 2023 #reviews #indie #video Reviews for September 2023 )

Wave

Beautifully lit wave at Fort Funston

SONY DSC-RX10M4 220mm f4.0 1/2,000s ISO100

A nicely lit wave at Fort Funston (GGNRA) in San Francisco.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Wave #photo #wave #fortfunston #sanfrancisco #pacific Photo of a beautifully lit wave at Fort Funston, San Francisco, California. )

Global Cloud Cover 48 Hour Video Updated Hourly

Updated on Saturday, September 23, 2023

Global IR Cloud Cover

The video below shows the past 48 hours of global cloud cover, 6 frames per second. It's HD so view full screen to get the most detail. The video is updated hourly.

 

The source is the Global IR product from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center. I process their image to be equirectangular instead of spherical mercator (full details here) and then generate a video.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Global Cloud Cover 48 Hour Video Updated Hourly #etc #clouds #satellite #earth #h5v Video showing 48 hours of global infrared cloud cover in HD, updated hourly. )

Blue Marble 2 Animation

One frame showing the Amazon from a Blue Marble 2 Animation

This animation shows twelve sections from the highest resolution version of NASA's Blue Marble Next Generation image for December 2004.

Can you guess all twelve locations? Answers below.

I use a lower resolution version of this image in Catfood Earth. The full version is 86,400 by 43,200, or 3.7 gigapixels. I've always wanted to do something with all this data, and decided to just follow some random paths and animate out the results. It's a little like watching the view from the ISS, if the ISS could randomly change location and direction.

The sequences in order are:

  1. Passing over Madagascar and then across central Africa. 
  2. Along the Aleutian Islands and into Alaska. 
  3. Across South America and the Amazon. 
  4. Up the Eastern seaboard of the US into Canada. 
  5. Following the Nile through North Africa. 
  6. From Siberia to Denmark. 
  7. Up Baja California and then California USA. 
  8. Philippines, Taiwan, China, Mongolia. 
  9. Following the Caribbean to Florida. 
  10. Across Australia. 
  11. South South America, focused on Chile. 
  12. Koreas, Japan.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Blue Marble 2 Animation #etc #video #nasa #bluemarble #earth #satellite 4k 60fps video from high resolution satellite imagery, can you guess all twelve locations? )

Is Sortition Having a Random Moment?

Generated image of some random politicians with good hair.

I have long been a proponent of Legislative Service, a specific flavor of sortition where the upper chamber in a bicameral system is replaced by a randomly selected 'jury' on a per-bill basis. You'd serve for a couple of weeks and act as a check and balance on professional politicians who propose the legislation. It might also work well if you find your country in need of a revising body (Bibi, call me). The British government didn't bite, and the concept rarely gets much press, until this week.

In the New York Times, Adam Grant suggests sortition to randomly select politicians:

"In ancient Athens, people had a choice about whether to participate in the lottery. They also had to pass an examination of their capacity to exercise public rights and duties. In America, imagine that anyone who wants to enter the pool has to pass a civics test — the same standard as immigrants applying for citizenship. We might wind up with leaders who understand the Constitution."

Having aced the US citizenship test I'm not sure it's a particularly high bar. I do take the point that we couldn't do much worse than we are now, at least for the top job, but I think there is still a role for professional representation.

Bruce Schneier organized a conference on rethinking democracy. The whole debrief is worth a read, here's the section on sortition:

"Sortition is a system of choosing political officials randomly to deliberate on a particular issue. We use it today when we pick juries, but both the ancient Greeks and some cities in Renaissance Italy used it to select major political officials. Today, several countries—largely in Europe—are using sortition for some policy decisions. We might randomly choose a few hundred people, representative of the population, to spend a few weeks being briefed by experts and debating the problem—and then decide on environmental regulations, or a budget, or pretty much anything."

Much closer to my vision, including having a system of briefing people on the issue. I'd make this adversarial, like a jury trial.

But before this in the US: demolish the electoral college, and then diversify our choice of politicians - either by ranked choice voting or like this.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Is Sortition Having a Random Moment? #politics #politicalreform #democracy #legislativeservice #sortition Reform democracy via lottery: Sortition covered by Schneier, NYT, Legislative Service. )

Washington Post Misleads With Statistics On First Republican Debate

Washington Post illustration of poll results for first Republican Debate

The photo above is how WaPo decided to illustrate their poll results after the first Republican debate. They say:

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came out on top Wednesday night, with 29 percent of Republican voters who watched the debate saying he performed best."

And his head is much much bigger so it's clear who won. Except buried in the small print this is a three percentage point difference in a small poll with a +/- four percentage point margin of error. In other words, flat.

To be clear I want neither of these gentlemen installed in the White House. But this is pretty crappy data reporting.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Washington Post Misleads With Statistics On First Republican Debate #politics #election A three percentage point difference on a four percentage point margin of error is not a win. )

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.22

Updated on Saturday, September 23, 2023

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.22

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.22 is available to download. This release updates the webcam list.

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Catfood Earth for Android 4.30

Updated on Saturday, September 23, 2023

Catfood Earth for Android 4.30

Catfood Earth for Android now supports random locations. The slice of Earth displayed will change periodically throughout the day. You can still set a manual location or have Catfood Earth use your current location. Install from Google Play, existing users will get this update over the next few days.

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Reviews for August 2023

Updated on Sunday, August 27, 2023

Spoilers!

Movies

Brooklyn 45

Review:Movies:Brooklyn 45

Both a sensitive movie about coming to terms with the transition from war to peace at the end of WWII (as well as foreshadowing some other transitions) and a really average seance horror movie. Overall I don't regret watching it but this didn't need the hokey special effects (down to an actual shot of a photo with its eyes moving a little bit).

Heart of Stone

Review:Movies:Heart of Stone

80% Mission Impossible, 20% Minority Report. Nothing new to see here, but it's a fun enough ride.

Luther The Fallen Sun

Review:Movies:Luther The Fallen Sun

Luther hits the big screen. Really not the same without Ruth Wilson. It's fun and over the top but more silly than dark.

Paradise

Review:Movies:Paradise

Scientists figure out how to transplant literal years of life from the poor to the rich. What could go wrong? Lots of twists and turns, this was pretty good.

The Pope's Exorcist

Review:Movies:The Pope's Exorcist

Russel Crowe shows off his Italian, retcons the Spanish Inquisition and shows the devil the door. It's OK.

Music

Where is my mind

Amazing performance of an incredible song.

Podcasts

Search Engine

PJ Vogt's something turns out to be Search Engine, which so far has consisted of idiosyncratic deep dives that remind me of another podcast that died too soon...

TV

Hijack

Review:TV:Hijack

Two hours of thrills unfortunately packed into a 7 episode show. A couple of episodes in I was rooting for the Hijackers. By the fourth, I just wanted the plane to be shot down. They spend three episodes figuring out the guns are loaded with blanks, although to start with they insist the guns are fakes which is a different proposition entirely and then it turns out that they also have real bullets. That's about 3 hours of plot. Feels like it was written in one sitting and then never checked for continuity or tension or interest. When Generative AI is making TV shows on demand this is what I imagine they'll be like.

Jack Ryan Season 4

Jack Ryan Season 4

I've got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that you get to make one more season of Jack Ryan.

The bad news is that we really had to scrape the barrel to fund it. Your primary sponsor is the State Tourist Board of Myanmar. Their goal is to keep people away so you only get to include shots that look like the suburbs of LA and the plot can't do anything to upset the Junta. Other than that you have complete creative freedom. Although Jeff insists that one scene can be summed up as "No, Mr. Ryan, I expect you get to wrapped up like a cucumber".

We also got a few bucks from JLR so every third shot has to be a Range Rover looking awesome. Have fun!

Silo Season 1

Review:TV:Silo Season 1

Foundation was a big disappointment to me, de-Azimov'd generic SciFi, so I was pretty nervous about Silo. It's an adaptation of the first few installments of Hugh Howey's epic Wool series. The TV version doesn't dare to be quite as good as Wool, but it's pretty decent with a great cast and spot on production design. Looking forward to the next series already. If you haven't read the books then you're missing out.

The Outlaws Season 2

At this point it's Breaking Bristol. It's rare to get dramedy right, this is great.

The Witcher Blood Origin

Review:TV:The Witcher Blood Origin

Ever wonder where Witchers came from? Me either, but they're going to tell you anyway. This has an awesome cast - Michelle Yeoh with Lenny Henry! And the special effects and production values are similar to the main series. It's not that good though. Four episodes is a really awkward canvas. It might have been a tight film or an entertaining series but it's both not enough and too much for the space available.

(All images included with ITHCWY reviews are the property of their respective owners and are used to illustrate reviews only.)

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Reviews for August 2023 #reviews #hughhowey #video Reviews for August 2023 )

Red Swamp Crayfish

A Red Swamp Crayfish at Stow Lake in San Francisco

Google Pixel 6 Pro 7mm f1.9 1/320s ISO44

A Red Swamp Crayfish at Stow Lake in San Francisco. It is confronting an 85lb lab and is not interested in backing down despite being only six inches long.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Red Swamp Crayfish #photo #stowlake #sanfrancisco #crayfish Photo of a Red Swamp Crayfish (crawfish, crawdad)  at Stow Lake in San Francisco, California. )