A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for May 2006

[META] On hiatus

I’ll keep track of what’s going on elsewhere in the blogosphere, and I may even make comments. Until I’ve something worthwhile to say here, though, I’ll be putting this blog on hiatus.

Later,
Randy

Written by Randy McDonald

May 30, 2006 at 11:01 pm

Posted in Assorted

[BRIEF NOTE] What’s the point?

Looking back to this post by Angua, I wonder if she’s right. Is blogospheric discourse functionally impossible?

Your thoughts, please.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 28, 2006 at 10:43 pm

Posted in Assorted

[BRIEF NOTE] On the East Timorese violence

As angel80 notes, the ongoing civil violence in East Timor was precipitated by the sadly typical of newly-decolonized states, with tensions between factions of the ruling party and a profoundly dysfunctional economy encouraging violence and rancour.

You know, we on the outside had a chance to help East Timor avoid this fate, both in 1976 and in 1999. What a pity for the East Timorese that we opted to do nothing, or–at best–not enough.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 27, 2006 at 2:51 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] What use is Wikipedia?

This discussion at alt.history.future on the future uses of Wikipedia seemed a bit off-base to me. When I’m looking for a quick and easy link, yes, I do normally turn to Wikipedia. I don’t do so because I think that the Wikipedia article is necessarily good: Wikipedia articles are frequently quite good indeed, and can often cover obscure areas, but, as The Miami Herald‘s documentation of the controversy over Cuba’s wikipedia article demonstrates, hot-topic issues can frequently distort articles.

Why, then, do I use Wikipedia if its articles can be prone to error? Although there can be distortions and lacunae, only a few of the articles tend to be as contentious as the Cuba article described above. Besides, almost as important as the actual content of the article are the articles links, to other Wikipedia articles and to external websites. For all of its stiff competition with the Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia for me isn’t an encyclopedia so much as it is a portal. Expecting it to be something different, given its open-source model, is unrealistic.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 27, 2006 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with

[REVIEW] Crash

Crash was a bit of a frustrating film for me. Certainly there’s plenty of sociological insights, though since I’ve never been to Los Angeles I can’t tell if it’s true or not that whites don’t like Hispanics who don’t like Asians who don’t like blacks who don’t like Iranians (who aren’t Arabs). The script of Crash just seemed so contrived, from the opening line about car crashes as a substitute for human relations to the convenient choice of the blanks. There’s still more than enough watchable material in the film for me to have enjoyed the viewing experience, even for me to think fondly of it in retrospect. But would I have given it Best Picture? Hardly. Brokeback Mountain gave the attention to the fine detail of lived reality that Crash didn’t.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 27, 2006 at 9:08 am

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with ,

[REVIEW] Resident Evil: Apocalypse

One of the most enjoyable things about Resident Evil: Apocalypse is that the part of Raccoon City is played by a quite recognizable Toronto: Raccoon City Hall is the same Toronto City Hall that I pass by on a regular basis, the skyline in outline and in detail is the same one that I know, the Bloor viaduct and Don valley make a good perimeter for the doomed city, and Pizza Pizza has apparently managed to make it to the region of the Arklay Mountains. There’s something amusing about seeing zombies ravaging my city in daylight, just before the mushroom cloud of the five-kiloton tactical nuclear weapon obliterates everything.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a by-the-numbers movie, entirely predictable in the manner of all horror movies. As I said last night to G., I knew that Dr. Ashford’s expression of concern for his daughter’s well-being would shortly thereafter be followed by a scene showing his daughter’s endangerment in the course of the Umbrella Corporation evacuation. Even though its depiction of a corrupt and managerial technoculture that is capable of unleashing, by accident, the worst possible catastrophes is something that was done already and better in the first Resident Evil, I still had an enjoyable hour and a half in front of the Samsung widescreen. I just really like the zombies overrunning Toronto–that’s classic.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 26, 2006 at 11:18 am

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , ,

[URBAN NOTE] The prophets among us

Passing Nathan Phillips Square last evening, I saw two people standing at the City Hall’s Speakers’ Corner, a podium set aside on the southwestern corner of the City Hall grounds, in an area where the grass sods are being broken up by pedestrian traffic.

Speakers’ Corner exists, I suppose, as a hommage to Hyde Park’s own Speakers’ Corner, perhaps also as a vague recognition of Anglo-Canadian links. Last night was the first time I’d seen a single person there. Instead, there were two people: one, a man, standing on the podium and singing nonsense (“Hey na na, na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na-nuh”), the other a woman who danced with a bored expression on her face.

“It’s falling, it’s falling, falling, falling,” he sang as I walked out of earshot. I didn’t think of stopping to ask him what was falling.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 25, 2006 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with ,