Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Trump Bubble

I've held off on posting much about my thoughts post-election.  I've never really tried to hide my political leanings here, but I didn't really seek to make it a focus of this blog.  (Heck, I barely post here anyway!)  But while much of this opinion piece is fairly emotionally charged (and hey, I get it!), I thought this ending passage summed up a big part of my reaction pretty well:

I have plenty of sympathy for typical Trump voters. (I exclude the alt-right and other menaces to the public good, such as Rudy Giuliani.) I have written about cultural dislocation and I understand the corrosive effect of diminished expectations. Clinton talked about the glass ceiling, but too many American workers — or former workers — had to contend with a cement one: jobs that were gone and not coming back. We in the bubble understand. Truly, we do. 
But I will not concede that a greater wisdom exists in what is known as “flyover country.” It has voted for a charlatan, a blinged ignoramus who has promised the past as the future. Trump, who lives in a gilded bubble of his own, cannot reverse automation, replace robots with people or blunt American businesses’ compulsive search for the cheapest workforce. 
[...] What I cannot understand is fellow bubble dwellers who tell me, with an air of impeccable condescension, that a vote for Trump was such proof of their own superior wisdom that it eclipsed all doubts about his qualifications, his temperament, his honesty in business and his veracity in speech. These people live in a bubble of their own. It is one that excludes the lesson of history and the demands of common sense. It will burst.  

- Richard Cohen, 'Real America' is its own bubble

Monday, February 01, 2016

On the Tech Sector, Wages, and "Capitalism"

In my second-straight post cribbing a link previously pointed out by John Gruber... this is a really interesting analysis:  Maximum Wage - Steven Johnson

From the sweatshops and rubber factories to the Nike store, your sneakers are pretty much market economics from the first stitch, all the way down the chain. But your iPhone isn’t just made up of startup brainstorming and Foxconn labor; it also has in its makeup open source networks, and academic research, and military funding, and government-subsidized science labs, and whatever strange hybrid of socialism and monopoly capitalism Bell Labs was. Some of those systems increased inequality by making their founders rich; some of them decreased inequality by making a valuable resource free. Indeed you could make a strong case that the most important innovations that drove the triumph of Silicon Valley did not emerge inside traditional private corporations at all.

I'm enough of an occasional-utopian-futurist to really like the idea of Basic Guaranteed Income in a post-scarcity world largely run by our digital and mechanical creations... but some of the conclusions and ideas presented here are much closer to the real-world-of-today.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Film vs. Digital, with Steve Yedlin

I'm going to start out by straight-up quoting John Gruber's post about this in its entirety:

Jim Coudal:
Check Steve Yedlin’s Film vs. Digital Tests, plus this series of tweets from Rian Johnson who is directing SW Episode VIII with Yedlin as DP, and finally this conversation about the matter.
This is a deep rabbit hole for film nerds, but I ate the whole thing up over the weekend.
(and yes, that post itself quotes someone else's post.  Blogception, everybody!)

All three of those links do indeed make for a great rabbit hole to fall into.  It's very interesting seeing such an articulate and well-back-up take from the Cinematographer of "real" films I admire (particularly Brick and Looper).  Overall, I definitely agree;  while there was still a strong argument to be had back when I was in college, high-end digital acquisition not only caught up to, but in many cases surpassed 35mm film in most technical attributes (ability to resolve detail, dynamic range, low-light sensitivity) a few years ago now.  The prevailing argument since then has most been one about the supposedly-innate aesthetic "looks" of each medium, but I think Yedlin makes a very strong case that the malleability of digital image processing makes these sort of argument relatively moot.

That said, I'm still glad he will be shooting Episode VIII on film.  It may not make a lick of difference to the image itself, but the touchy-feely emotional connotations are still real.  (A cynic would call this "marketing," but would still agree...)