Zoom is an excellent video-conferencing app which turns out to be built on some technical excellence of its own (running WASM encoders and decoders in the browser).
“Really, though, it was the same liberal fantasy, where everyone could laugh together because they were all on the right side of history.”
Despite all the recommendations, I’ve always managed to resist watching Parks and Recreations. I have no time or patience for hopepunk.
The best thing about ContraPoints is that she gives the most charitable possible treatment to in this case Gender Critical people (the other time it was Incels) and then still rips them for all that they are.
Looked up Game of Thrones bastard names and I have to conclude that the surname for a bastard in Germany would have to be Wurst, like Hans Wurst.
Geert Wilders, leader of the PVV —the far right Dutch Freedom Party— had his campaign start today for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Spijkenisse, one of his traditional strongholds.
The eight o’clock news of the NOS (the Netherlands’ state broadcaster) opened with this and their reporter Michiel Breedveld on the scene in the video below said it had attracted ‘an unbelievable crowd of people’.
Other reporters who were on the scene today (1, 2) said the number of people Wilders had attracted was somewhere between 80 to 200 and that the ratio of supporters and press was about 1:1.
Salima Bouchtaoui: ‘Spijkenisse this Saturday morning. Lots of press. And lots of police. Few people.’
Haro Kraak: ‘There were at most 150 supporters of the PVV, probably fewer. And at least as much press, probably more.’
There seems to have been so much press that this was what it looked like most of the time.
This incident is oddly reminiscent of Trump’s inauguration where the actual number of people present was much lower than was claimed by the administration.
But the crucial difference is that Trump was the liar. Wilders could spread the lie that his campaign start ‘had the most people ever’ but why should he if the state broadcaster does it for him?
I strolled through the massive exhibition ‘Welt am Draht’ at Leipziger Strasse this weekend. This is a selection of video art from the massive Julia Stoschek Collection exhibited in the former Czech Cultural center.
Like everybody says the quality of video art in general is extremely inconsistent. That is true in this exhibit as well. There are a bunch of works where it is not at all obvious why somebody finished it, somebody approved it and somebody paid money for it.
The works that were most interesting in this exhibition consistently were not the video ones but those created with a game engine. That may be my own novelty bias at work, but a fully digital workflow like that allows: 1. more and faster iteration 2. fully dynamic products, the combination of which leads to totally new kinds of things that can be produced.
I forget what this was, but despite the concept being more or less ridiculous it has a compelling internal consistency.
RMB City by Cao Fei is a rich and spectacular playground of randomness.
I can’t really argue with any of Ed Atkins’s work which stands out for the pure skill of the renderings combined with spoken word that is not trite (so rare).
Ian Cheng’s Emissary Forks at Perfection is an ongoing collage of elements in a dynamic simulation that looks like an edgy version of the large scale installations Theo Watson makes.
I have a personal log of culture consumed going back to 2003. This year was a particular low on many counts. I have been busy and I don’t ascribe the same value to consuming culture pure for the goal of consuming it anymore. Been there, done that.
I’ve read eleven books (see my Goodreads) which is more than I had expected but nothing compared compared to the bookwormy prowess of people like Hans or Kars.
The Peripheral by William Gibson
Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design by Ernest Adams & Joris Dormans
Play Matters by Miguel Sicart
Surface Detail by Ian M. Banks
The Hydrogen Sonata by Ian M. Banks
Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates
Der Tod des Iwan Iljitsch by Leo Tolstoy
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Certain to Win by Chet Richards
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Bold is recommended. It looks like this year I especially enjoyed non-fiction maybe because my fiction was limited to fairly mediocre genre stuff. I’m resolving that reading should not be painful (Russians were a good attempt, but too boring) and that it should also not be trivial (so no more genre fiction crap for me).
In movies I fared slightly better but did not manage to hit the one movie per week baseline with a meagre 23 of which only two in the cinema. I’m playing catchup now over the christmas break with eleven these views happening in December.
All are in my Letterboxed diary but since sites disappear I’m archiving them here as well. I am immensely pleased with almost all of the movies I have seen except for the two marked as shit.
The Imitation Game
The Raid 2: Berandal
Straigth outta Compton
The Fantastic Four 💩
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Princess Bride
Avengers: Age of Ultron 💩
I managed to avoid going to theater plays and went to one opera “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” in the Komische Oper which was delightful.
I guess I can in part explain this shift by my consumption of games. Even without owning a console there is more than enough stuff to play. Here are nineteen games I played for the first time in 2015. Some of them were played only once and some of them were played for dozens of hours.
I was tremendously hyped for Deutschland ’83 after hearing about it and watching the first episode. Now that it is finally airing in Germany it turns out that it is not doing that well. Viewership started out low and has been declining over the first four episodes.
People are attributing this to the fact that the average RTL viewer is stupid and only used to watch plain episodic series. That may well be true, but the decline of the series’s ratings closely mirror the decline of my appetite for the show itself. By episode four Deutschland ’83 is a slog and the only thing that got me to the finish line was an empty Sunday and stamina.
The plot devolves and loses whatever internal logic and coherence it had. The characters which are enigmatic to begin with become increasingly hard to empathize with and start doing random things. Worst of all, Deutschland ’83 tries to put a neutral spin on one of the most polarized conflicts of the last century which of course fails.
The one message that does come through is that everybody on the East side was evil and psychopathic and that the people on the West side were basically decent chaps. This is a laughable depiction of the world as it was back then (or as parts of the world still are). The violence and surveillance enacted by the Soviet bloc is hardly different from the stuff the Americans did and still do around the world. The only reason we get to ridicule the East Germans in the series is because they lost.
The idea that German television is necessarily terrible has to be reconsidered. I’ve recently started watching Deutschland ’83 which is amazing (more on that later) and yesterday I finished season two of the web series Mann/Frau by BR PULS.
Mann/Frau is a mirror format byte-sized episodic where each installment details the interactions of a man and a woman their relations and lives. It treats most of the themes occupying people around my age living in Berlin but manages to do so drawing more from slapstick than from cliché.
The series is helped enormously by the fact that each episode concludes somewhere under five minutes. Brevity unfortunately is a rare commodity in Germany. The benefits of it here are that it forces them to get to the point quickly, cut rapidly and finish. Episodes of this length also greatly facilitate binge watching. I had never considered you could make a traditional format series with episodes this short, but it works fine.
Halfway through I did develop an intense distaste for the man (Mirko Lang) and the man episodes. This isn’t just because the man character is a huge doofus, but also because it turns out that the man and woman episodes are written and directed by a brother and sister respectively. The woman episodes are more punchy, contain less whining and more action.
In this interview with the brother and sister directors the problem becomes painfully obvious. During the entire interview the brother does most of the talking but doesn’t say anything of substance.
I will keep watching when the next season comes out but I might just fast forward through most of the man’s episodes.
These series may have a catalytic effect on the German television landscape. By their very existence they educate the tastes of an audience that might not have known or expected something like this to be possible. And actually creating something good in turn makes it so that other tv makers can’t hide behind the excuse that the whole landscape is mediocre. Who knows what more may be possible.