Surprises/No Surprises

Back from vacation and the first day back at the office, here are a few quick reviews and observations:

Surprises

  • Casino Royale: Best Bond ever? Maybe. Certainly a re-invention of the formula, with actual character development and relationships. Frankly, it was awesome. I was marking out the whole time. “OMG he ordered the drink for the first time.” And there was poker — a bit of a modernization from the old Baccarat days, but I’m sure it got the attention of casual ESPN2 viewers such as myself.
  • Firebug: If you’re making any sort of attempt at all to learn anything about CSS and designing/developing pages for the Web, this is the Firefox extension for you. Stop acting like you don’t think you need it and download the thing now.

No Surprises

  • Transcending CSS: Because I have yet to meet a CSS book that I don’t like, it was no surprise to find Andy Clarke’s book a useful and attractive tool and point of reference. He explains how to do a bunch of simple stuff that I figured could be done, plus provides essential bits of workflow organization for those of us new to the business of design, but not necessarily the act of designing.
  • Star-Tribune sold: Knight Ridder was a big whale to swallow, so it’s no shocker to see McClatchy selling off some pieces of their kingdom for cold hard cash. Good luck, Minneapolis.

Not that you asked for my opinion*

*In which I make another disingenuous attempt at a regular feature, reviewing several items that have come across my desk/eyes/ears in the last little while.

  • The Departed: Best Scorsese flick since GoodFellas, although some might debate the merits of this one vs. Gangs of New York.
  • This year’s Santa Cruz Marching Band Review: Substantially more peaceful than last year’s, as far as my block was concerned. Also, we left the house for most of the day, which helped. (We live right across from the high school field where the buses start dropping bands off at the crack of dawn. Then they start working through their scales. Even the bass drums get warmed up.)
  • Bay Photo ROES, the online photo printing service my local lab runs: Once you get the Java applet running, it’s simple, relatively intuitive, and most importantly, the prints are perfect.
  • New Morning, an old Bob Dylan record: Contains “The Man in Me,” which you heard in The Big Lebowski. The whole thing is just as good.

That’s all for now. If you have opinions of your own about any of these, drop ’em in the comments.

All your snakes are belong to us

It works on so many levels…

This is the part where I’m supposed to make some intelligent comment about how the nature of the Web, social networking, cheap bandwidth, and digital video are encouraging content creation and remixing on an unprecedented scale, but I think I’ll skip that in favor of snaking about the snakes that are out there snaking somewhere.

As long as the sequel isn’t called Snakes 2.0, no one gets hurt.

For the uninitiated, the Wikipedia entry on All Your Base Are Belong To Us.

Making the inconvenient accessible

We finally made it out to see An Inconvenient Truth last night.

Remind me again why Al Gore isn’t running for President in 2008? Sorry, but I haven’t heard a good enough reason.

Personally, I’d like to see him grow his beard back, put on a flannel shirt and a pair of jeans, and go on a “No Bullshit” tour of the country where he gives the global warming talk, and then goes ahead and gives us some data on poverty, hunger, war, crime and health care, where he applies the same passion and attitude we see in Inconvenient Truth to issues that lots of different folks will see as “their” issue.

Oh, and screw the Democrats, Al – you don’t need a party. Just run. I’ll vote for you.

In other words, the movie is great and informative and digestible, and everyone should go see it. I worry that he’s preaching to the converted, but I still left the theater with a clearer understanding of the science behind the issues, and places like Mother Jones will give me all the political background I need to understand.

So, friends, go see An Inconvenient Truth, and then tell two friends about it. And then blog about it. In fact, you probably already did, and I’m late to the party.

Hotel Rwanda

We watched Hotel Rwanda last weekend. We skipped it on the big screen – sometimes we let movies slip by, even though we know we want to see them, especially when we know they’re going to make us sad or angry in the end.

I’ve been having a hard time all week putting into words what I felt, what we felt, watching the all-too-true story of what went on in Rwanda in 1994.

Genocide is just a word.

When you see a dead bodies piled up as far as the eye can see, something breaks inside you.

There are certain horrors in this world which defy all rational thinking, and genocide is on top of the list.

We kill each other because we are different, because we are jealous, because others have exploited our differences to their advantage. In Rwanda, white colonists turned the light-skinned, tall, thin-nosed Tutsi minority into the elite of the country, then left the citizens to the wonderful freedom of democracy. The majority, darker-skinned Hutus took power in an election. Then they began to kill the Tutsis. The Tutsis fled to neighboring countries. In 1990, a Tutsi army invaded Rwanda with the mission of liberation. In 1994, the signing of a peace agreement was quickly followed by the death (cue suspicious plane crash) of the Hutu President. Hutus blamed the Tutsis. The Interahamwe militia and the military began to carry out the genocide against the Tutsis. Rape, murder, destruction. Machine guns, rockets, machetes.

Estimates of how many Rwandans died in 100 days in 1994 generally fall between 500,000 and 1,000,000.

If you haven’t seen Hotel Rwanda yet, and you think you have any interest at all in journalism, government, sociology, race, human nature, economics, Africa, or basic ideas of right and wrong, I recommend you sit down and watch this movie.

In case the question doesn’t pop directly into your mind on its own: How does a nation decide which genocides are worthy of our intervention?

More reading:

[tags]Hotel Rwanda, Rwanda, genocide[/tags]