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What’s wrong with Hollywood?

Gravity is mediocre. The Internship is a commercial for Google. This is the End is a disaster. These are all getting high scores from IMDB. When the bad things get good reviews and high scores, it means the whole industry is at risk — the trust is lost. When movie watchers know the hard earned money and precious time are spent on manipulated reviews and scores, they will stop going to movie theaters. What’s coming next Hollywood? Depression.

Don’t watch Gravity

Gravity’s score and reviews on IMDB is dubious. For a stunning high score of 8.7 and over 48 thousand votes, I thought this movie must be very good. However, the result is disappointing. I will just give this movie a 6.0 for its visual effects but the story line is very simple and hurried to the end.

The inflated score on IMDB, just like it is on Taobao, will hurt the whole movie industry as the disappointed audience will no longer pay to watch movies with good reviews, knowing that the scores have been rigged. The good movies will suffer because they will not get the attention they deserve and are easily drowned in the noises created by illicit promotional activities. The individual’s voice will not be easily heard, although they supposedly have an equal vote with the movie ticket they buy.

In a digital age, the public opinion can be easily created and swung by a few key strokes and clicks — the monopoly of media tycoon can manipulate the statistics and the masses will buy into it and buy the mediocre products — the best ones do not even have a chance.

Some notes in the aftermath of Breaking Bad

OK, I was wrong about the finale of Breaking Bad and Heisenberg did die. The most unforgettable line in the last episode is, when talking about why he did what he did, “I liked it. I am good at it”. This explained why he wasn’t successful as chemistry teacher, because he didn’t fulfill his destiny — to do the things he is good at. The scene when the hidden machine gun in the trunk mowed down all the gang members is a cathartic outbreak of revenge. It is well done. However, it could be even better if he used his chemistry skills to deal with the gangs.

Now here is some new information I found about Breaking Bad. Bob Odenkirk performs the lawyer role brilliantly in the movie. He grew up in Naperville, Illinois. From his biography on IMDB, he is “three credits shy of graduation” and wrote extensively for comedian shows. He also won a few Emmy awards. One day, I perhaps need to write a book to list the successful college dropouts and the unsuccessful college graduates. Bryan Cranston certainly know the importance of sticking to it. I think when he was at the lowest point of his career, he had thought about quitting and became an insurance salesman. However, he didn’t. Here is what he said about why he didn’t give up: “You know, this business is pure luck. It truly is. There is a tangible amount of luck that is necessary for a successful career, and the only way that luck happens is if you’re prepared for it and you stick with it. If you drop out of the scene, your opportunity for luck diminishes greatly. No one’s going to say, ‘Hey you’re an insurance salesman. Come and do this movie.'” “I don’t need to work, but I love to work and I will make the movie if I would want to go and see it. ” “It is also interesting to learn he drove motorcycle around the US. It was just two confused boys running away. My brother was on the verge of becoming a deputy sheriff, and I was grappling with whether I wanted to be a police officer or an actor. So we got on our motorcycles and just left California with no plan. I had $70 in my pocket, and that soon ran out. We got odd jobs wherever we could. We worked at cafés, in carnivals, at beachfront hotels selling suntan lotion, earning just enough to get back on the road. We camped everywhere, the cheaper the better. Just a patch of grass was all we needed. A few times we stayed at midnight missions, in Texas and Louisiana, and those were always scary.”

Walter White will not die

I haven’t watched the last episode of Breaking Bad, but I am pretty sure Water White did not die in the finale. The producers and script writers have two choices: one is letting Mr. White put up a good fight and kill all his enemies and died a heroic death. The rationale behind this ending is Mr. White has late stage cancer and he will die anyway. The second ending is Mr. White will kill all his enemies and walk into the setting sun as Heisenberg — with his tell-tale hat.

I think the second ending will be favored because if Mr. White is dead, there won’t be opportunities to produce a possible sequel and even a movie on this brilliant story again. The death of Heisenberg means the loss of commercial interests, so he will not definitively die in the denouement.

In all circumstances, Mr. White will join hands with Jessie and annihilate the new meth cooks in a violent way. After the revenge, he will reclaim his money and leave for good, leaving behind the suspense that he would come back one day in a sequel TV series.

The focus of the last episode will be his revenge with the gangs, reconciliation with Jessie, temporary reunion with his family, and most of all, the redemption of his name — he is still Heisenberg!

Is this comment about Harvard true?

The image of Harvard is subverted in my mind when I watched the documentary The Inside Job. Now I read this comment somewhere on the web:

Harvard is one of most snobbish college that taking applicant’s parents social status  into consideration in admission process. Harvard has a lot of criminal politician/businessman’s kids.

Is it true that there is a seamy side under all the glamorous images?

Maybe a GRE vocabulary site one day

Maybe I will lauch my first ‘commerical’ site dealing with GRE vocabulary in the spring semester. Knowing a lot of words and be able to use them properly is something I want to do, and it would be wonderful I could teach and learn those words at the same time.

Guess what, I already found a good theme for that GRE site. It is called jQ developed by http://devolux.org/. What’s cute about this theme is that it can toggle between the post titles only or the whole content of the posts. Besides, it has a handy indicator for visitors to adjust font sizes easily.

jjQ theme.jpg

The site could also come with a handy forum, and bbpress seems to be a good choice.

Getting things done with To-Do Desklist

So often does the computer become a lonely person’s companion rather than a tool to process information. I found myself aimlessly clicking my time away hither and thither on the computer without focusing on what I am supposed to do in this electronic box. Making a to-do list is one way of prompting action and avoiding procrastination. Unfortunately tools such as Tudomo, Task Coach and the popular web-based NXT are overkill for this purpose if they are not distractions themselves. Today, I found a nice tool called To-do Desklist and it does the exact thing as I expected: you create a list of things on your desktop and mark them as done when you finish them.

to-do desktlist.gif

Finally there is something better than the pen and paper to make a to-do list and get your things done.

Migrating this site to a new place

I am choosing a new place for this site. That’s means probably a few days downtime. I’ll restore this site once I find another vps. I will keep writing.

Update: my communication with the the vps provider of this blog does not work well. The provider refunded me a month’s fee for the preposterous downtime of September and ignored my request to refund a whole years fee and close my account.
Considering I have no time to migrate and configure a new vps at the moment, I’ll have to use this arrangement and bide my time for the next year to get another provider.

Capitalism and freedom explained in one minute

The following is a comment made by Gabe at Engadget. I like the incisive insights, so I gleefully copied it here:

Constant conflicts (economic or warfare) is necessary to maintain stability in our society. Capitalism necessarily expands to avoid collapse. It’s what Joseph Tainter called a “runaway train”.

The amount of attention given to, dogmatization of, and religious adherence to the idea of “freedom” might as well be philosophical slavery – anything that does not conform to an arbitrary set of criteria that defines “freedom” is automatically “evil” and rejected, regardless of any practical benefits it may have.

Knowing half of the truth and thinking you know the whole is far worse than knowing nothing at all. We can at least acknowledge and deal with our ignorance in the second case, whereas in the first case we become so secure in our biased perception of the truth it “becomes” the truth.

Who is Joseph Tainter

From wikipedia:

A professor in anthropology. His best-known work is The Collapse of Complex Societies. This 1988 book examines the collapse of Maya and Chacoan civilizations, and the Roman Empire, in terms of network theory, energy economics and complexity theory. Tainter argues that societies collapse when their investments in social complexity reach a point of diminishing marginal returns.

My take

Hope I can know more about Dr. Tainter’s theory. I would question his theory by asking this question: can a study of three civilizations be enough to prove the correlation between the burden of complexities and the collapse of a society? How would this theory be applied to the longest sustained civilization in China?