Tuesday, October 21, 2003

More stuff... 

iTunes for Windows! Well, it finally did happen. I got the chance to use it at work a bit on friday (I'm running 98 at home), and it looks very nice. While I like tthe concept of selling music online in general, for me it is all about the details..

Not only is there a lot of music availible and a decent price (as well as album princing). They have recommendations from regular and famous people (I'd say Amazon's greatest strength has always been the community aspects of it). They let you give allowances of music to kids and gift certificates to friends. The copy protection is relatively innocuous with fairly easy ways to get around it if you really want to. The quality is greater than 128kbs mp3s. The actual app itself is very nice, with the keyword based system, ratings, and all kinds of other stuff. It is a system similar to the Powermarks bookmarking program, which I don't think I could live without at this point.

It sounds like it is doing very well so far, with a million copies download and a million songs bought (though probably not all on the windows side). It'll be interesting to see how this all shapes up!

Trouble with textbooks: I stumbled on this articleon CNN about how pressure groups and self-censorships are effecting textbooks in America. This led me to looking up the book Language Police on Amazon, and it sounds pretty good from the reviews. I'll have to see if the local library has a copy I can pick up.

I always find it amazing how people can take a good concept and take it so far in the other direction to make it just as bad. Sure, having examples on a test that rely on rules of sports is probably a bad idea since many people aren't into sports (skewing against women, even though not as dramatically as in the past), but not taking oceans into account? If people don't know that, then they should be teaching it. And for removing bad words and racism from texts? Especially with kids these days that seem to have their heads in the real world at an early age, IMO it is much better to tackle these kinds of issues head on...

I have to say that in general I'm against the concept of standardized tests, which seems a little linked to this topic. Besides the obvious fact that a lot of people just don't test well, I think it puts too much power into a limited number of people's hands, and doesn't leave enough room for individual educators to experiment.

I was an honors student for many years and experienced both creatively done things and things that seemly crushed any creativity in the general vacinity. I know a lot of people mean well, but I can't help thinking the testing will do way more harm than good in the end. It strikes me as being way too close to the "no tolarance" policies frequently seen in schools these days, which frequently seem to crush any kind of common sense for the easy way out...

Heavenly Creatures: Sean recently posted an entry talking about Heavenly Creatures and also some of the horror aspects of it.

First of all, I really do love this movie. Sean did a much better job than I could to sum up many of the great aspects of it. The imagination and energy present are really amazing. I'm not sure how much I agree with the horror assessment. I don't want to get into spoilers, but while I agree that the ending does have an element of great horror to it, overall I think I'd classify it more as a romantic tragedy.

It is arguable whether they actually share romance in the traditional sense (or even lesbian sense), but it is certainly a closeness not generally found. Despite the way things turn out, I can't help being at least a little jealous of two people that could be so close and on the same level. Able to escape the real world for a while into a fantasy world, more so than reading a comic or watching a movie.

I'm probably just weird, but I couldn't help but be somewhat uplifted by the overall movie despite the way that it ends. It is perhaps a contrast of fantasy and reality, but the fantasy is oh so interesting...

It is actually interesting that this got brought up at around the same time that I read Summer Blonde, which has a bit of a similar tone insofar as it involves lonely offbeat people who tend to descend into trouble.

But if you want some movies that really did get me down, check out Dancer in the Dark and even more so Breaking the Waves. No one can give you sick feeling in your stomach quite like Lars von Trier...

Oh, and speaking of horrorific movies with odd relationships, it may be worth checking out the Japanese movie Audition. It is about a middle-aged man who does a casting call for a fake movie in order to meet women, who gets a bit more than he bargained for. I don't think this more quite fits "horror" so much as dark fable (especially if you've seen a lot of horror). It has a lot of that twisted not-cut-and-dry feeling of things like Little Red Riding Hood (original version), Hansel & Gretel, etc. I don't think it is quite as cut and dry a movie as a lot of people give it credit for... There's an uncut version on DVD. May not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it.

Camera a success: Well, my new camera is really turning out great. I'm getting a much better handle on how to use it, and have now taken over 250 pictures! That would have taken me a fortune on film and developing, not to mention scanning.

It has been getting me out of the house more, which can only be a good thing, and with it being fall in New England, there is a lot of great pictures to take. I'll try to get some sample pics up pretty soon...

Belated congrats to Dirk! Dirk, I keep meaning to contratulate you on your year of blogging, but my scattered brain just keeps losing it. I've only been following you (or any of the comic bloggers) for a couple of months now, but your site is always amazingly informative and helpful. I can only guess how long it takes to put all that stuff together every day (and difficult to keep up day after day)... Here's to another year!

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