Archive for July, 2003

the definition of humor

July 31st, 2003

What occured to me today was how humor is all about acting younger than your actual age. When you're being funny, you're being juvenile. Because only a juvenile person would make fun of something instead of being serious. Children will mock the most stupid things because they don't know better. And people who make jokes sink to a lower level, trying to entertain other people. And that's why there's a risk there, if the person doesn't think you're funny, he/she automatically sends you a message saying "I am not as childish as you are, this is not funny, I take this seriously". All the way from the lowest level, like South Park, up to the dizzy heights of Frasier, it holds true. The main difference is what exactly you base the comedy on. As such it's very easy to understand how South Park would appeal to the masses, the material is hard not to understand. More sophisticated humor, however, is much higher quality but also demands a lot more from the recipient. Watching Frasier, you have to know something about courtesy, about art, culture, language, human relations etc to understand the flow, otherwise you'll switch back to South Park. But to draw the concept further, humor is also analogous to programming. When you're a kid, you make silly jokes based on observations that you make. If someone is short, you'll make fun of them for that, if someone is chubby, that's another good reason, maybe one of your friends has a father who's a garbage man, yet another fine pretext. And that's sort of like low level programming, you don't know that much and you just use what you know to put something together. You send messages to the monitor, you write to the hard drive, you play with the components.

Once you grow up a little, hit the puberty, there's a whole other platform of humor on a platter. Now it's largely about sex but good portions of that juvenile toilet humor made it through in one piece, you still have that at hand. Now you're also one step forward in the programming hierarchy, you know have an operating system, a larger base of functions to use. But since you can still access the toilet humor, you still have a window into that past of yours, sort of like the old dos games when programmers would use dos system calls for some stuff but they would also hardcode for specific hardware in special cases.

When/if you grow up, you learn more about life, and there's a lot more material out there for potential jokes. Just have a look at the sections at those jokes sites, you have law, government, police, taxes, computers, human relations, marketing, dating, politics, sports, medicine and more. Now obviously, if you're not familiar with these concepts, if you don't have an understanding of them, even a basic one, there is no shock in discovering you don't get the jokes, because those jokes are aimed at people who do have that understanding. In programming terms, that's like having an IDE to code in, you have a framework as a spring board for your own material but you have to understand the framework to be able to create anything meaningful.

Gradually, as you climb these steps, the comedy becomes more and more specific, suitable for a rapidly decreasing public. Because it takes a considerable amount of base material to understand the comedy, few people will be able to get it, because we all go our separate ways and no human being can master every field. In programming terms, the more specific and advanced a program becomes, the fewer people will find use for it.

terningkast

July 25th, 2003

Det er på tide å ta opp et grunnleggende irritasjonsmoment fra vår alles hverdag. Det er ikke noe mer vi liker mer enn å bedømme alt mulig rart etter "terningkast". Opprinnelsen av konseptet er ikke kjent men jeg kan forestille meg at man ønsket å finne en generell platform til å sammenligne ting på. Når vi sier terningkast trenger vi ikke å spesifisere verken skalaen eller inkrementalstørrelsen, en terning er indirekte definert i vår generelle oppfatning som en kube med homogent fordelt vekt. Vi kjenner alle parametrene og konseptet er veldefinert. Man skulle tro det er grunnen til at vi bruker det så ofte.

Men! Her finnes også en uheldig selvmotsigelse... ettersom vi alle kjenner til terningen, vet vi også at utfallet av terningkastet per definisjon er ukjent! Når vi får høre at Matrix Reloaded har fått terningkast 5 i Aftenposten så betyr det egentlig at uansett argumentasjon i teksten så er karakteren helt tilfeldig.

Le retour

July 22nd, 2003

Due to circumstances outside my control, this year I was forced to get home through Gdansk airport, which represents no form of convenience for travellers from Lodz. My ticket was a round trip proposition, via Copenhagen, so far it doesn't sound too bad. But it turns out the outward flight was at 7 am and getting to the airport at that hour turned out to be tricky. First of all, the Gdansk airport is tiny, they have about 10-20 flights a day, to 3-4 different destinations. As I was informed, the airport is closed at night, as is the railway station in Gdansk where I would be exiting the train just before midnight. So much for taking the 4 pm train from Lodz, turns out there's a night train from Warsaw at 11.30 pm.

Getting to the capital should constitute no paramount task, but it would be too good be true had the time tables evened out. Thus at 7.30 I got on the train for Warsaw, there I would be stuck for 2 hours. Meanwhile I had been told countless stories about how insecure the trains are these days and how people who have fallen asleep (and some even conscious) have been mugged. Getting on that first train I was nervous already but the ride is just an hour and a half. Incidentally, I found a 24h net cafe in the Warsaw railway station to kill an hour before my next departure. Strange as it sounds, apparently two trains head for Gdynia/Gdansk at 11.30 pm on a Monday from Warsaw. The one I was about to board turned out to be a sleeper and 5 minutes later my train arrived. Amid all the stories about crime (the guy in my carriage had plenty of them), the 5h journey was boring and eventless. Nothing wrong with that. At some point we did stop at a bridge for a good half hour just after passing Malbork, god knows why. Meanwhile I was nervous about missing my flight, when there's plenty of time to spare, lots of things seem to happen to dramatically cut down on the margin. I did in fact fall asleep on the train, I'd given up on staying awake but it was the lightest kind of sleep, when you're trying to get some sleep but you're not getting any cause your seat is uncomfortable. In that condition however, that is a big help and an hour of sleep gives passing to the most intense tiredness.

It seemed I was in luck, the train was marginally late and I found my bus ride immediately after stepping out of the station. At that point I was quite relieved. Once I got to the airport, however, things started to go wrong. I was informed that my reservation had been deleted, guy at the counter told me I hadn't shown up for the inward flight, which was true, and thus I wasn't entitled to a place on the outward flight. I was told I would get on if someone didn't show up. Meanwhile, all the other flights for Copenhagen (2 or 3) that day were fullbooked as well. I spent a very anxious 45 minutes of waiting but then I did get on thankfully. In a worst case scenario, I would not have gotten on any of the flights that day, the ticket would have definitely been invalidated and I'd have to dish out for a new one and do hours and hours of more waiting at the airport. Phew.

I was delighted to be on that flight, my day suddenly seemed a lot better, despite it being 8 am and not having slept through the night. Good old SAS again, I was on my way now. It's funny the slogans that they have on the condonments in the planes. The sugar packaged reads "as sugar dissolves, it spreads happiness". This isn't just regular sugar, this is special sugar. I also recall the salt and pepper bags had some kind of slogan like that. It's funny how they're trying to enhance your flying. First they charge you, then you come to cash in and they want to make themselves look good. And fair enough, here they drove all over town trying to find the smallest food products ever, instead of just getting beer for the whole airline, that's responsible airline policy. What I found less responsible was how the door to the cockpit was wide open through most of the flight, I would think that with everything we've seen, security would be upgraded not downgraded. They did screw me on the coffee refill they always have though...

Yes, they do try to make everything as pleasant as they can for us on the plane. The stewardesses have to smile all the time, they talk slow and try to be helpful, it's kind of nice to be catered to after making sure you get to the airport on time and not invalidate your ticket. One thing I did find a little distressing was that the stewardess wore high heels. On a plane. Meanwhile it was a small rotor propelled jet that took in a lot more turbulence than a larger one would. The stewardess was trying to steer the cart in a straight line on the floor and the heels were not helping. Are these women requried to wear heels, does that improve our flight experience?

But what's with the captain though? Everytime you get that little safety demonstration, the stewardess will read the text from some piece of paper and they've done this so many times they're quite good at it. I understand the safety instruction in English, it's fine, I don't have a problem with it. But everytime the captain wants to tell us something, I can't hear shit. It's the least legible language of all, somehow his voice blends so well with the noise from the microphone, it's impossible to make out whole sentences. I think they should have it all down on paper and practice it, like the stewardesses do. The stewardesses probably practice at home too. "Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belt and fold your chair into an upright position". "What's that, honey?", "nothing, it's just work stuff, you wouldn't understand". But that's what the pilots need too, practice. And sorely I might add. They should have another pilot talk through the intercom and try and understand the words, it's like they're talking to themselves. In which case Jerry Seinfeld's theory comes in handy, they're only doing it for their own benefit, it makes sense now. Well it still doesn't but a little more perhaps.

All in all, the flight is alright, I get to where I'm going and that's what counts, they even put me in first class, otherwise I probably wouldn't be entitled to that yoghurt. And the orange juice had pulp, a pleasant surprise. But why do we have to be strapped in our seats until the aircraft comes to a stop? We're not doing anything, the guy is doing 20 on the tarmac yet we're "advised to keep our seatbelt fastened so long as the indicator lamp tells us to". This guy, like any other 17-year-old with his first car, is trying to impress the chicks by taking this baby for a spin around the block, why else would he drive in circles instead of going where he has to go right away?

Of course when you get on another flight it's the whole thing over again.. but I notice that the people who have been flying a little are very fluent in the routines. I'm in the aircraft, they gave us some lunch and they guy next to me knows the exact moment for starting to prepare his little plastic cup to get coffee. Sometimes I see Norway as a nation of conformists, people are so quick to fall into a pattern, follow the rules and just exist in that state. I'm hard pressed to say whether I consider it a good quality but conformism definitely offers a lot of upsides, people obey the law, they live within certain ethical norms, it's all kinda structured. There is that lack of innovation and originality but you never get something for nothing so maybe it's for the best?

I finally get to my destination and realize I don't have a dime on me, how the hell am I gonna get home? God bless the ATM! I get home and it's 1 pm. Had I not made that first flight in Gdansk, I still would be at the airport waiting...

Taxi 3: no good from Luc Besson

July 16th, 2003

Unfortuantely, Luc Besson's third (and final?) installment of "Taxi" is a letdown for the fans of the first two pictures. The storyline starts off in a familiar manner, packed with action but soon enough the plot dies down to be dominated by imbescile dialog and a general lack of direction. The James Bond-like intro would have us believe "Taxi 3" is special, well it's not. Little can be done to cover for a very thin plot (somehow it seems the writer ran out of ideas after 30 minutes) and the general standard of actors is by no means impressive. In the forementioned earlier releases, the storyline would eradicate those unpleasant moments to some extent, but this time nothing can save the picture from falling into obscurity, by part thanks to its lousy cast.

Incidentally, one would think this release would be, as it has been no less than 3 years since the sequel hit the movies. A solid Samy Naceri works alone to keep up the tempo put the picture resembles a work in progress rather than a release. Shame, I think more people than just me looked forward to this one.

4/10

Rob Dougan fuoriclasse

July 2nd, 2003

There is something so captivating about Rob Dougan's "Furious angels". The album is packed with quality tracks. I don't quite know how to account for the phenomenon, his vocals are questionable and if it wasn't for the magnifique tunes I wouldn't like it at all. But the clean, melodic tunes make it a big hit. I was first stunned by his blockbuster track from "Matrix reloaded", entitled "Chateau" and I still think it's his finest to date. But "Furious angels" carries more of the same, I see a strong influence of classical music (if I was more of a classical buff I would be able to recall the actual pieces) used to good effect. "Furious angels" - the title track carries that well known theme from "Matrix reloaded", coupled with Rob's vocals. It opens with a slow crescendo to include a slightly more spectacular vocal bit than Rob's own and finally builds up to disintegrate into a bunch of chaos.

"One and the same" opens quietly, and very pleasantly. Rob takes on a U2-like style as regards the vocals and I dare say his resemblance to Bono is noticeable.. Both a choir and an orchestra in the background fuels the track throughout.

Track list:

1. Prelude

2. Furious Angels

3. Will You Follow Me?

4. Left Me For Dead

5. I'm Not Driving Any More

6. Clubbed To Death

7. There's Only Me

8. Instrumental

9. Nothing At All

10. Born Yesterday

11. Speed Me Towards Death

12. Drinking Song

13. Pause

14. One And The Same (Coda)

15. Clubbed To Death 2

Fortunately, the entire album is available online for listening pleasure @ www.rob-dougan.com.

8/10