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Messages - Crudblud

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Arts & Entertainment / Re: Just Watched
« on: October 28, 2021, 04:14:37 AM »
The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)

This film tells the story of the very early beginnings of the US space programme, from Chuck Yeager's historic breaking of the sound barrier in 1947 up to Project Mercury in the early '60s, which saw the first seven astronauts orbit the Earth. It therefore functions as a sort of prequel to the many media covering the later Gemini and Apollo programmes, which is why it piqued my interest.

I'm glad I watched it, but it isn't actually a very good movie. There are lengthy sequences covering fairly dull moments, such as the extensive and at times confusingly bizarre treatment of the medical tests the prospective astronauts were subjected to, or the seemingly forced insertion of Australian Aboriginal myths without any real explanation of why they were relevant to the story.

Meanwhile, most of the actual spaceflights are glossed over almost entirely, with only the launch and landing being shown, if that. The only significant depiction of time spent in space is John Glenn's Mercury-Atlas 6 flight, presumably because the suspicion of a loose heat shield was considered an opportunity for dramatic tension.

There is plenty of potential here, but this footage simply does not justify its 192-minute runtime. A pity, because it could have been much more focused and engaging if condensed to 90 minutes, without leaving out any important details.
You might be better off reading the book it was based on. I haven't seen this film, but I know Kaufman has a tendency to impress himself upon the subject, and if you aren't into his style it can easily make an interesting subject totally unappealing. Then again, the same can be said of Tom Wolfe, who wrote the original book.

Technology & Information / Re: Hella lit keyboards
« on: October 09, 2021, 11:11:01 AM »

I really like the simple design and classic colours.

I'm using a black (aka unlit) Redragon tenkeyless with off-brand mechanical blues. Inexpensive and probably not very good in the grand scheme of things, but it was a huge upgrade from the cheap membrane keyboard I was using previously.

Technology & Information / Re: The Flat Earth Society official IRC chat
« on: October 01, 2021, 06:57:23 AM »
Getting an error this morning.

* Connection failed (certificate has expired.? (10))

What is their policy on putting food on supermarket shelves?
If you remove all the brown people then there will be more food on supermarket shelves.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Just Watched
« on: August 10, 2021, 03:59:42 PM »
Wheel of Time (dir. Werner Herzog)
Documentary about the Kalachakra, a Buddhist ritual surrounding the creation of a mandala from sand in many different colours. In this documentary, perhaps out of respect for the religion, Herzog does not do his usual thing of inserting bizarre fictional threads into his documentary narrative, and rather stands back and observes. The film includes an interview with the Dalai Lama, which is surprisingly unrevealing. Herzog asks softball questions and does not attempt to prod any further. While it is perhaps disappointingly non-confrontational fare from Herzog, his infectious sense of wonder at the world and at humanity remains a constant presence, and makes the film compelling viewing nonetheless.

The Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (dir. Atsushi Yamatoya)
If the title didn't clue you in, this is a strange film. Low budget, bizarrely assembled and poorly acted, were it not for the film's violence and nudity it would have doubtless been prime fare for MST3k. The basic premise is that a hitman is hired to take out a gang who kidnap young women and use them as victims in snuff films, but the execution is anything but straightforward. With a heaping helping of the worst excesses of the French nouvelle vague, the film's nigh incomprehensible progression of noir cliches, naked women, flying knives and bullets occasionally give way to rewarding surreal images. This is an interesting headache of a film that can generate laughter of a sort which can only arise from the question "what the fuck is going on?" as audience mantra.

Nice substantial topic here.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 10:06:34 AM »
I support the Irish and Northern Irish right to self-determination on this point, as I do the Scottish people on the point of their independence. The only way to know if either is good or not is to do it, I just hope that in both cases they do it better than our circus of a government has.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: We live in a lie
« on: May 03, 2021, 08:06:43 PM »
And this is why you don't raise learning AIs on Nietzsche.

Technology & Information / Re: Building a PC
« on: April 30, 2021, 06:07:12 AM »
You're just going to end up with another paperweight if you try to get something for $200. My advice is to save up or get financing on a more expensive PC, and since you are (if you'll forgive my terrible rudeness) apparently clueless, I'd recommend getting a prebuilt rather than building your own. GPUs are especially difficult to find at reasonable prices right now, but prebuilts with a 1050Ti (a solid budget card from 2016 that can do a lot more than just run Minecraft at a stable framerate) can still be found for around $700.

For example: I found this on Newegg. I'm not saying buy this specific PC, but shop around with these specs and price as a guideline on whatever service you're comfortable with. You may well be able to find a similar or perhaps even better system for less.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Cazazza Dan
« on: March 12, 2021, 06:47:51 PM »

We back again.

mp3 / FLAC downloads are available if'n ye be wishin', and these include a snappy little essay just in case you wanted to know a little something about the background of the piece.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Just Watched
« on: February 05, 2021, 02:10:28 PM »
Manhunt: Unabomber

There was a man, there was hunting, there was a una, there was bombing. That's more or less the story of us all, isn't it? But for those of us who value a more detail oriented approach to the human condition, FBI Special Agent James R. Fitzgerald and Professor Theodore J. Kaczynski are on hand, ready, willing, and able to venture forth into unknown frontiers in search of the answer to that most fundamental of questions, one that has haunted man since the time of Plato: should unas be bombed? But of course I'm joking, ha ha ha. Count the laughs, measure the mirth. Manhunt: Unabomber is the story, in a manner of speaking, of how an experimental linguistic approach to criminal investigation saw perhaps the most infamous domestic terrorist in modern US history caught, serving multiple life sentences in solitary confinement in an administrative maximum security prison.

While most people have heard of Ted Kaczynski, the titular Unabomber, and most people know more or less what his deal is, I might as well indulge in a little padding so I can feel better about my meagre efforts in writing this. Kaczynski's life is more or less characterised by his inability to feel at home in modern society, whether at Harvard, which he attended at the age of sixteen as a child prodigy in mathematics, or in his assistant professorship at UC Berkeley, which he suddenly resigned after just two years in 1969. In the early 1970s he began living self-sufficiently in the woods of Montana, where gradually he became convinced of the effectiveness of letter writing campaigns. Over the course of almost two decades, he sent sixteen bombs to various academic and industrial figures, all with the eventual aim of having his long-form essay “Industrial Society and its Future” (popularly known as the “Unabomber Manifesto”), in which he espouses an anarchistic, anti-technology, ecologically sound way of living, published by a major newspaper, in exchange for which he promised that he would cease his terrorist activities. Ultimately this led to his arrest, after his brother David recognised Kaczynski's ideas and writing style and sent a tip to the FBI.

The show dramatises more or less the whole of Kaczynski's life in bits and pieces, and he is by far the best thing in it. While its attempts to make him compelling and even sympathetic often fall flat, because the show is simply too ensnared in a run of the mill programme of police procedural antics, Paul Bettany's portrayal of Kaczynski is in itself terrific to watch, frequently elevating the cutesy script, occasionally finding anchorage in the deep waters of pathos. Bettany wrenches what complexity he can out of the scenes he has, and it's unfortunate that out of the entire eight episode run he has so little to actually do. Since so much of the show is told from the perspective of his nemesis, FBI profiler James Fitzgerald, and set predominantly within the bureaucracy of the UNABOM task force, it makes sense that we don't spend that much time in the direct company of the Unabomber himself, and yet Fitz, as he is most commonly referred to by his colleagues, is a mediocre character whose psychological links with Kaczynski, the slim dramatic meat of which the show hopes to make a substantial meal, are as fragile as the paper their concomitant dialogue was printed on. It is no coincidence, then, that the best episode of the series centres entirely on Kaczynski qua Kaczynski, framed in a letter of reminiscence that Ted writes to his brother.

The script attempts to present Fitz, who is not the real James R. Fitzgerald but a heavily edited and augmented construction bearing his name, as a highly intelligent but insecure outsider who has some difficulties with authority and feels that he is underappreciated by his superiors, a man similar to Ted Kaczynski himself. When Fitz, who for his insistence that linguistic clues to the Unabomber's identity are the best, indeed only way forward, begins to be perceived as being disruptive of official Bureau business, is taken off the taskforce, he begins working regular hours and is able to spend more time with his family, but he finds himself distracted and increasingly alienated from them. In one scene, Fitz lies awake in bed, unable to sleep due to his awareness of a buzzing electric street light outside his house, he goes outside and trains his service weapon on the light before ultimately resisting the urge to shoot it out. This scene is the first in which the show attempts to sell us on the idea that Kaczynski is inside Fitz's head, and that Fitz is sympathetic to Kaczynski's ideas about the harm that industrialisation has done to humanity. The amount of tension the show tries to build out of Fitz's apparent inner turmoil over this development is not at all commensurate with the actual information we are given, which is essentially that Fitz is annoyed by lights, not just street lights but, quelle horreur, traffic lights and the way they control us by making it safe to cross the road and so forth. By introducing Fitz to us in 1998, two years after Kaczynski's arrest, as a man who has himself retired to a small cabin to live simply and self-sufficiently, the show avoids the comedy that would have resulted from a chronologically linear plot, wherein the much put-upon profiler is driven so mad by electric lights that he simply can't stands no more, and, after munching down a tin of spinach, puts his mightily and meatily embiggened forearms to work building a refuge out in the wilderness.

While it would be easy to take a passing glance at Hollywood tough guy Sam Worthington and sneeringly find executive fault, his efforts are not at all the problem with Fitz. Worthington in fact does a commendable job with the character, building an understated presence through a small, well observed suite of verbal and physical tics. A physically imposing actor, he plays small within the sprawling city of computer desks that makes up the home base for the FBI's most intensely watched taskforce, and convinces as the underdog trying to convince his superiors to take a chance on his unique perspective with appreciable nuance. But the script is too surface level to support Worthington's efforts. While it can occasionally thrill with plot surprises, as in the scenes leading up to Kaczynski's trial, there is so little in the script that convinces on its own, meaning that the characters—so far as they can impress themselves upon the audience as characters—are more or less what the actors bring to the role. With the exception of Fitz and Kaczynski, what we have left to us is a cast of characters bought wholesale from the annals of 2000s police procedurals, all-business tough talkers whose tongues are never not in thrall to the dictates of an unwritten but osmotic style guide, spitting one-liners so slick that they hit the camera and leave a cold and viscous grease trail as they slide down the screen.

The cheapness of much of the supporting cast's and indeed main cast's script, the verbal environment in which Fitz and by extension we operate, is at odds with the show's high production value, surprisingly high when you consider that it was commissioned by, of all things, the Discovery Channel. The series features several well done reconstructions of the Unabomber's attacks. The first of these attacks occurred in 1978, but Kaczynski has maintained in his own correspondence that his decision to begin making bombs and mailing them out came in 1983, when he found a new road had been built by his favourite camping site, which he regarded as an aggressive invasion of his own way of life by the technological society he had rejected. The impact of these bombs varied from minor flesh wounds to loss of limbs, blindness, deafness, and ultimately death. Towards the end of his campaign, Kaczynski had near enough perfected the design for a lethal bomb, and most of the last few of his targets were killed outright. The reconstructions do not shy away from the bloody aftermath of the explosion, and credit must go to the effects crew, who did a magnificently convincing job of detailing the carnage wreaked by these bombs. I can only imagine they, like practical effects workers of the good old days of silicone, chicken guts, and jelly, had a great deal of fun making up the grim spectacle of a shuddering body pierced with long shards of shrapnel. Such shots as these, though tastefully brief, do more to convey the horror and inhumanity of Kaczynski's actions than the script itself can even begin to muster.

I have debated with myself (and I'm sure your mind can supply a suitable prefix to form a relevant homophone there) whether to delve into the many allegations of historical inaccuracy levelled against the show, such as those of former FBI agent Greg Stejskal, who worked the UNABOM case, and even Kaczynski himself, who, though he admits having not seen the show, has received plenty of correspondence about it, and says that what he has read about it amounts to “bull manure”. I could point out also that the real James Fitzgerald, who did consult for the production, disputes Stejskal's account with great vehemence, but ultimately I think that, regardless of its fidelity to the truth of the events upon which it is more or less based, any drama ultimately stands or falls on simple artistic merit, which in fact is not simple at all, but for the sake of brevity let's pretend that it is. I see Manhunt: Unabomber as a frustrating viewing experience, because I can see the potential for a really gripping story about two opposed but similar characters lurking in the periphery of what's there, but that potential is bound so heavily by the workaday writing and overly generic trappings of the often sumptuous production that the two most compelling elements, the performances of Worthington and especially Bettany, can't hope to break out and illuminate the screen with the fullness of brilliance to which they might otherwise have attained. And with that, yeronner, the prosecution rests.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Just Watched
« on: February 03, 2021, 03:32:09 PM »
All Is True (dir. Kenneth Branagh)

Lauded playwright William Shakespeare's famous Globe Theatre burns down after a stage prop cannon used in the première of his Henry VIII ignites a consuming blaze. Will returns home to Stratford-upon-Avon where at last, freed from the yoke of creative life, he comes to terms with the death of his son Hamnet, whose passing he never truly mourned, and devotes himself to the cultivation of a memorial garden, while also dealing with the nuisance of a public who cannot understand why he has now ceased to write. Meanwhile his daughter Susanna struggles in a loveless marriage to a puritan reformist, his other daughter Judith grows old (for a woman of that time) and has yet to marry, and Anne Hathaway can only view her husband, who has spent so much of their married life away from her in his London, as a guest in his own house.

Ben Elton, a writer about whom much could be said, for he can be as brilliant as he oft is shit, wrote the script, and it is somewhat infuriating that he can write an absolute showstopper of a scene one moment then stagger his pen about the page like a weepy drunk. We are treated to a marvellous firelit tête-à-tête in which Kenneth Branagh's Will Shakespeare and Ian McKellen's Earl of Southampton reckon with each other's view of the world and all that's in it, the former's tireless work-oriented life pitted against the libertinous excesses of the latter, capped off with two opposed recitations (which of course must be credited to Shakespeare and to the actors themselves, not Elton) of the same sonnet that sets them so brilliantly apart. Yet the scene in which Judith decides that she will after all marry, the dialogue between the not exactly star-cross'd lovers is as uninspired as it is barely perfunctory. Ultimately, Elton's script is too much in love with Shakespeare, both the dramatist and the man himself, to give all that much to the others, and on that point it is worth noting that the Earl of Southampton appears in only one scene.

The film is passably directed by Branagh, who, though he has no masterpieces under his belt as a filmmaker, does know a good shot when he sees it. Unfortunately, many images that should have great impact are near enough ruined by the most aggressively sentimental, and worse still generic score I have heard in a very long time. What's more, a cardinal sin in my view, the soundtrack to a film set in the early 1600s features a fucking piano. Anachronism's all good and well in a film that partakes, but this one does not, and a composer should have the courage and decency to do the same. Failing that, recordings of Byrd, Dowland, Gibbons would suit far better the English countryside than this lamentable hackwork, or perhaps even Morley, who set Shakespeare's verse contemporaneously. I repeat that the film is infuriating on some level, because it does so well in some parts and so poorly in others, its presentation sometimes soaring, sometimes weighed down under a soggy script and even soggier partiture, but Branagh's central performance is compelling enough to just about get it to work. A terribly uneven film, but one that I can't deny finding overall enjoyable.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Just Watched
« on: January 21, 2021, 08:54:51 PM »
Watched Netflix's Night Stalker documentary. Interesting subject but a pretty cheesy presentation with 3D-ified crime scene photos and the usual tacky docu-muzak playing incessantly.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Just Watched
« on: January 16, 2021, 05:27:57 PM »
Watched Dredd. Pretty fun bit of violent dumbassery.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: FES Book Club
« on: January 16, 2021, 12:11:38 PM »
I am about a third of the way through Jens Malte Fischer's biography of Gustav Mahler. It is most excellent.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: January 13, 2021, 04:49:46 PM »
Just finished DOOM. Pretty good throwback to the arena shooters of yore. I'm not sure that what story there is needed to be there. You are the Doomguy, you must rip and tear, you don't need to know shit about fuck to do that. Still, I guess the story is appropriately B-movie in its shallowness. I don't really have many complaints. As repetitive as the action is it's very satisfying, though the glory kills do get old after a while, and the single healthbar final boss was a bit of a disappointment compared to the bosses with multiple distinct phases earlier in the game. Also I wasn't too fond of the industrial metal soundtrack, it sounded kind of tacky to me. All told, a solid FPS.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: December 24, 2020, 12:11:56 AM »
I have been playing Death Stranding. I'm usually not an "omg the graphics!!!" kind of guy but omg the graphics!!! I'm only a few hours in but it's been weird and hilarious so far, which is exactly what I expect from Kojima, although not necessarily in this way. Unfortunately I encountered some system-breaking crashes early on, but it seems like redownloading drivers and verifying the game files has fixed the underlying issues, whatever they are/were.

Big shout out to junker, the kindest man in human history, who made my playing this game possible!

Arts & Entertainment / Re: FES Book Club
« on: December 14, 2020, 10:01:20 AM »
Recent reads (with ratings out of five stars):
Stephen E. Ambrose/Douglas G. Brinkley - Rise to Globalism: U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1938 ****
David Black - The Plague Years: A Chronicle of AIDS, the Epidemic of Our Times ****
John Banville - Birchwood **
Francis Wheen - Karl Marx *****

Currently reading:
Norman Stone - Europe Transformed 1878-1919

Also I recently bought myself Jens Malte Fischer's biography of Gustav Mahler as an early birthday present. I was going to read the Stone anyway, but it seems like now is a good opportunity to give myself a better sense of Europe in Mahler's time before moving on to the Fischer.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Political compass bingo
« on: December 08, 2020, 04:31:37 PM »
Become a police officer and then punch yourself in the face.

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