What Skyrim taught me about wealth

A few years ago, I got into playing Skyrim on our XBox 360. There are many wonderful things about Skyrim, including its immersive sense of place, its vast and varying geography, its brooding landscapes and complementary atmospheric music, its epic scope, its interesting NPCs, its endless range of ways to power up, and so on.

Early in the game, when cash was scarce, I got into a routine that each dungeon I entered, I would carefully loot every vase and chest, and strip every monster I killed of its weapons, armour and valuables; then when I was done I’d return to civilisation and sell off the spare armour, weapons, etc. Continue reading

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 31

Breakfast at Tiffany’s — Truman Capote

I went back to read this source text after having been fascinated by the film. The novella is perfectly written: terse, just as descriptive as it needs to be, and economically outlining a Holly Golightly who is more to be pitied than envied or held in contempt. In both book and film she is an enigmatic figure, always holding contradictions in tension, and Capote was completely mad to think that Marilyn Monroe should have been cast for the role. Having read the book, I now see Audrey Hepburn as even more perfect for it than I already did — she has a combination of elegance, haughtiness, playfulness, shamelessness and insecurity that no-one else could have nailed so precisely.

Well worth reading the book first, then seeing the film. Continue reading

Revisiting my issues with git, nine years on

Nine years ago, I wrote Git is a Harrier Jump Jet. And not in a good way, then followed it up with Still hatin’ on git: now with added Actual Reasons! Both posts evidently resonated with a lot of people, but also attracted a lot of constructive disagreement.

Prodded by a new comment from MiB this morning, I found myself writing a response that I think is worth reproducing and amplifying here.

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Hulks (five different ones). Part 4: the 2008 proto-MCU movie

I have much less to say about 2008’s The Incredible Hulk movie than I had to say about 2003’s Hulk, because the film is much less ambitious. It’s a strange thing to say about a superhero movie, but it feels … conservative. Safe.

It’s not a bad film. Apart from making Betty Ross a cipher, a love interest and nothing more, it really doesn’t do anything wrong. It makes a series of competent steps from its premise — that Banner has been living with his condition for five years — to its conclusion. You can’t criticise any of them; but you can’t really get excited about them either.

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Major releases are disasters, and should be avoided whenever possible

If you use semantic versioning in your project — and you should — then you fix bugs in patch releases (e.g. going from v2.4.6 to v2.4.7), and add new features in minor releases (e.g. from v2.4.6 to v2.5.0). These are both unambiguously good things to do: downstream projects that use your project can happily and blindly upgrade to your new versions knowing that everything is compatible and nothing will break.

But when you issue a new major release (e.g. from v2.4.6 to v 3.0.0), that’s because you made an incompatible change. Now the maintainers of downsteam packages have to stop and think and read your release notes before they can be confident whether it’s safe to upgrade, or whether (as with all the various React-related libraries’ major versions) they’re going to have to rewrite their code first. Most often, they won’t have the time or energy to do this for all the many dependencies their project has.

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How strange the change from major to minor … in Beatles songs

One of the characteristic tricks that crops up in Beatles songs is the use of major and minor chords on the same note. A lot of the Abbey Road album is built on movement between C, its relative minor of A minor, and its tonic major of A major. For example, George Harrison’s gorgeous song Something is mostly in C but modulates to A when the distinctive six-note guitar riff lands on a C# (the third of the A major chord) instead of C natural (the root of the C chord) to go into the middle section (“You’re asking me, will our love grow?”).

Today I want to look at two songs from the Rubber Soul album that both use the same trick of shifting directly from a major chord to its tonic minor, and see how they use that trick similarly and differently.

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Hulks (five different ones). Part 3: the 2003 Ang Lee movie

My friend and colleague Matt Wedel is not a fan of the 2003 Hulk movie. In an email exchange back in 2008, he classified all the then extant superhero movies into four bins and concluded: “You won’t be surprised to hear that I put Ang Lee’s Hulk in the fourth bin”. I was interested earier today to re-read my own response:

I don’t think it belongs in any of those bins. It belongs in bin i, which is at right-angles to the real-integer bins you’ve designated here.

And I think that verdict stands up pretty well. Hulk is simply not trying to do the same thing as other superhero films, and it’s a mistake to judge it a failure on the basis that it doesn’t do what other superhero films do.

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