log.nikhil.io

The Rhythm Section · 2020 · IMDb · C+

Am a sucker for a good revenge story. This one was very slow and kinda haphazard. But I didn’t think it was bad enough to deserve this:

The film received negative reviews from critics and was a box-office bomb, having the worst wide opening weekend of all-time, the biggest drop in theaters, and is projected to lose Paramount $40 million.

Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

Good grief Basel! Blake Lively put in one of those “triumphant” performances 👏💯🏅

The Outsider · 2020 · IMDb · B-

Jason Bateman directed the first few episodes of this show and appears to be on a roll (saw this right after the third season of Ozark.) It was a 10-episode miniseries that was 5 episodes too long. Everything about the antagonist was either laughable or inconsistent. Cynthia Erivo was magnificent as the wicked-smaht and quirky Holly Gibney whose savant-superpowers remained largely unused by the plot.

Gary Oldman as Dracula

by the incomparable Herb Ritts. Not the same Dracula, but seeing these made me think of one of my favorite things: “Horrible Tragedy” by Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet for the 1931 movie.

Gary Oldman as Dracula - One

Gary Oldman as Dracula - Two

Always be leveraging

On tech culture’s obsession with quantifying and optimizing every single moment of one’s existence1:

I hate this framing. It is pressuring, dehumanizing as it contextualizes human endeavor in transactional terms, usually in a market.

I know this goes against the ethos of high-tech, but humans don’t have an imperative to be as productive as possible. They don’t have to make the most use of their time. They don’t have to get as efficient as they could. These are metrics that work fine for our machines, our code. But humans are not machines. Sure, we shepherd the machines, and sure sometimes we are in rivalrous dynamics that increasing efficiency has a payoff, but it is never the goal in itself.

The real “currency” we have, if we are using the term in the sense of denoting essentialness, is our humanness, our mortality, our psyches, our connection with other people and seemingly mundane but meaningful parts of our lives. I mean, look how many of us started baking their breads and enjoying it. It is not a wise use of the “currency of time”, but it is part of life very well spent, as our internal reward mechanisms have been telling us.

@acituan on HackerNews, commenting on this article

  1. With corroboration via sophomoric interpretations of stoicism and objectivism, all aimed at summoning this latent, dispassionate übermensch whose sole purpose is to “leverage” and deliver value. ↩︎

Vivarium · 2019 · IMDb · B+

An entertaining, unsettling, dissatisfying Lovecraftian allegory for suburban life and child-rearing (esp the teenage years.) Dragged on for a bit: I imagine it would’ve worked great as a Black Mirror episode. Jonathan Aris and Senan Jennings were supremely creepy and magnificent and perfectly cast for their roles 🙌

That '70s Typeface

Spent a few frustrated hours over the years trying to identify this typeface I’d see on restaurant menus, photocopied class handouts, movie titles (even Indian ones from the early 80s), and a lot of books. I now know what it is and am quite happy the mystery’s resolved.

It’s Souvenir! Designed in 1914, super-popular/overused in the 70s, and much derided by designers in later decades (“A terrible typeface. A sort of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ typeface wearing tight white flared pants.”)

ITC Souvenir Sample

The Official Response

WOOLEY. What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
SIR APPLEBY. Then we follow the four-stage strategy.
WOOLEY. What’s that?
SIR WHARTON. Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.
SIR WHARTON. In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
SIR WHARTON. In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we can do.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now.

A political manual for the ages.

The Tornado Omelette

I have found a new thing I’m going to turn into scrambled eggs repeatedly until I get it right.

See also: more omelettes.

Tanhaji - The Unsung Warrior · 2020 · IMDb · C+

Another jingoistic saffron shitshow a la “Padmaavat1. Quite the visual spectacle: like walking through a racist and revisionist Amar Chitra Katha. Saif Ali Khan’s Uday Bhan is the only interesting character. Of noble Rajput blood, he succumbs to eating crocodile meat, sexual assault (of chaste Hindu women who need protection), comical levels of bloodlust, a fuckton of kohl, and villainous-looking sartorial choices.

Because that’s what hanging out with evil Muslim foreigners will do to you 🤷‍♂️

Prof. Ruchika Sharma’s take on its historicity is worth reading for these things called ‘facts’ your WhatsApp relatives won’t appreciate. ProTip ✨: Please don’t make the mistake of suggesting that the “India” depicted in the movie did not exist until independence, three centuries later #swaraj

Gender Roles

Sofia Tolstoy, at 19, after the first of their thirteen children:

I am left alone morning, afternoon and night. I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture. I am a woman. I try to suppress all human feelings. When the machine is working properly it heats the milk, knits a blanket, makes little requests and bustles about trying not to think — and life is tolerable. But the moment I am alone and allow myself to think, everything seems insufferable.

At 25:

I am so often alone with my thoughts that the need to write in my diary comes quite naturally […] Now I am well again and not pregnant — it terrifies me how often I have been in that condition. He said that for him being young meant “I can achieve anything.” For me […] reason tells me that there is nothing I either want or can do beyond nursing, eating, drinking, sleeping, and loving and caring for my husband and babies, all of which I know is happiness of a kind, but why do I feel so woeful all the time, and weep as I did yesterday? I am writing this now with the pleasantly exciting sense that nobody will ever read it, so I can be quite frank with myself […].

And:

I have served a genius for almost forty years. Hundreds of times I have felt my intellectual energy stir within me and all sorts of desires - a longing for education, a love of music and the art. And time and again I have crushed and smothered these longings. Everyone asks, “But why should a worthless woman like you need an intellectual or artistic life?” To this question I can only reply: “I don’t know, but eternally suppressing it to serve a genius is a great misfortune.”

Here’s more about her life and her diaries.

Chill Midwesterners

When I see a carefree runner in I-did-not-need-to-see-that shorts in windy, 5-degree weather.

By @artbyjuliet.

COVID-19 Map

Found this map when Googling “coronavirus india”. Looks like it’s maintained by the WHO and is pretty up-to-date. They have a daily update page.

At the time of this writing, there are 110,029 confirmed cases, with 3,817 deaths in 105 countries. China, South Korea, Iran, France, and Germany account for 95% of the total number of cases and in that order.

Optotypes

Optician Sans is a free optotype 1 based on the Sloan letters2.

  1. I had no idea this was a thing. There’s a lot to learn here about the eye charts I see once a year. The earliest chart appears to go all the way back to 1862 (!) Those little "C"s are called Landolt C. The one most optometrists use these days is called a LogMAR Chart which measures visual acuity as a log function of the smallest visual angle your eyes can resolve. ↩︎

  2. Which you can download here with “noncommercial research” in mind. ↩︎

The Master of Plastic Chairs

Bryan Ropar is a plastic chair connoisseur and expert. Here’s his ranking of the Top 100 Plastic Chairs (couldn’t find the ranking criteria.)

The Song of Seikilos

This is the "the oldest surviving complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world" and dates from “either from the 1st or the 2nd century AD.” It was found engraved on a tombstone and was “dedicated by Seikilos to Euterpe, who was possibly his wife.” (Wikipedia)

While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and Time demands his due

😭 💗

Arundhati · 2009 · IMDb · C

“Hey Sonu, we’re gonna need you to do some PCP before you show up to the set. Certainly before the dubbing. Go for that Nandi bro.”

Sayaji Shinde as Anwar was the MVP. Ode to The Exorcist and The Ring.

The Foreigner · 2017 · IMDb · C

Ireland. Liam. Mick. Belfast. Mary. IRA. Patrick. Belfast. Liam Hennessy. Sean. Sinn Féin. “You should try a real whiskey. Two Jamesons, Single Malt.” Belfast. Belfast.

Also Jackie Chan. But watch for Orla Brady 🇮🇪

The Unborn

“The unborn” are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It’s almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

Dave Barnhardt, Methodist pastor

and

They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fucked.

– George Carlin, Back in Town

Functions, Monoids, Functors, Monads

Started with this blog post about why one would need a monad (from a typing standpoint.) Then watched “What the 𝒇 is a Monad” which made a lot of things clear. Then watched this excellent, excellent talk on Lambda Calculus (with JS and Haskell code!) by Gabriel Lebec.

Finished with a quick practical, toy example by @mpjme and this Scala horror-show (to me.)

Mondegreen

A mondegreen /ˈmɒndɪɡriːn/ is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to clearly hear a lyric, substitutes words that sound similar and make some kind of sense.

Never been able to follow the lyrics to most songs and have done this for as long as I can remember. Things can be misheard but there are intentional mondegreens as well:

A similar effect was created in Hindi in the 2011 Bollywood movie Delhi Belly in the song “Bhaag D.K. Bose”. While “D.K. Bose” appears to be a person’s name, it is sung repeatedly in the chorus to form the deliberate mondegreen “bhosadi ke” (Hindi: भोसडी के), a Hindi expletive.

Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia

I couldn’t finish this gripping yet harrowing podcast about the Black Dahlia murder and, whether or not he was complicit, an absolute monster of a human being.

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood · 2019 · IMDb · A

Saw with PLG. Plan on doing things around the house to the soundtrack. When they hand him his second Oscar, DiCaprio should just stare at the glitterati, play the trailer scene, and walk away 💯 🙏 🙌

There Will Be Blood · 2007 · IMDb · A+

Finally saw this with PLG. Daniel Day-Lewis’ best performance IMO. Astounding, really.

Mr. Day-Lewis’s outsize performance, with its footnote references to Huston and strange, contorted Kabuki-like grimaces, occasionally breaks the skin of the film’s surface like a dangerous undertow. The actor seems to have invaded Plainview’s every atom, filling an otherwise empty vessel with so much rage and purpose you wait for him to blow. It’s a thrilling performance, among the greatest I’ve seen, purposefully alienating and brilliantly located at the juncture between cinematic realism and theatrical spectacle.

– Manohla Dargis “An American Primitive, Forged in a Crucible of Blood and Oil

Paul Dano is great as an ageless vampire-pastor 😑 The excellent soundtrack was written by Jonny Greenwood (!) and features works by Arvo Pärt and Brahms.

Nine Pints of The Law

by Lawson Wood (more work here.)

I first saw this when I was about 10 and tried my first jigsaw puzzle with my little sister. We were quite mesmerized by the painting. We found the puzzle too difficult and lost the pieces. 26 years later, I found a complete puzzle on eBay and can’t wait to put it together with her 😃

Googling revealed that a certain David Lewis recreated the painting with real officers of the Royston Police Station in Hertfordshire in 1990.


Image via Herts Past Policing