Interesting people disagreeing about inequality

Here is a fascinating series of four articles.

 

It starts with Paul Graham’s recent essay Economic Inequality. (Many readers of this blog will know Graham from his many fascinating essays, including Why Nerds Are Unpopular, What You Can’t Say and The Age of the Essay; and from his excellent book Hackers And Painters [Amazon US][Amazon UK].) Graham is broadly in favour of inequality as he sees it largely an honest signal of different ability and willingness to create value for society.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 22

Saga of the Swamp Thing — Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Toteben

I re-read this as part of my Alan Moore phase — following on from his Watchmen and Complete Future Shocks, and Andrew Rilstone’s Who Sent The Sentinels?, last time. It’s a fascinating read, having more in common with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics than with Moore’s usual work, with its dependence on supernatural themes and general feeling of being more horror than fantasy.

Swamp Thing had been a moderately successful DC Comics character from 1972 and 1976. Continue reading

The Good Life (1975-1978)

The Good Life is the archetypal 1970s British sitcom: a pleasant story about likeable people doing nice things. The story is negligible. (90% of it happens in the first episode, where Tom quits his job on his 40th birthday to go self-sufficient with his wife, Barbara.) When there is conflict, it’s quickly resolved.

Cast of The Good Life. Left: Tom and Barbara Good (played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall). Right: Jerry and Margo Leadbetter (played by Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith).

So it ought to be dismissable fluff; and in a way, it is. But it’s delightful dismissable fluff, and that makes it very easy watching.

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Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection

I watched the first episode of this program tonight. Verdict: disappointing. It’s clear that Blumenthal truly is an extraordinary chef, and must have unique and valuable insights into how cookery works; but In Search of Perfection doesn’t tell us what they are.

In the first episode, he cooks bangers and mash (followed by treacle tart). There is a lot of messing about visiting pig farms and suchlike before we get down to business. He makes his own sausages by what seems a ludicrously over-complex method that involves toast stock. There is lot going on; but we never find out why any of it is going on.

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An in-depth critical analysis of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Don’t bother. It’s rubbish.

It’s like someone in late 1992 thought “What if we made a film like Wayne’s World, but with all the charm boiled out of it and the lead character made into an entitled jerk?”, then slipped through a time vortex back to 1986 and made it.

(Admittedly, a more parsimonious explanation would that someone in the early 1990s thought “What if we made a film like Ferris Bueller but with wit, charm and all-round good-nature?”, since that doesn’t involve time travel.)

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Watchmen (2009 movie), ultimate cut

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ self-contained twelve-issue comic Watchmen was released by DC Comics in 1986-1987, though it takes place in a completely separate fictional universe from their mainline characters. It’s been pretty universally praised since its release, but was considered “unfilmable” for a long time, having been so described both by its writer Alan Moore and by putative director Terry Gilliam.

So it proved through a long series of failed attempts to make a film version. But it was finally done in 2009, in a film directed by Zack Snyder and featuring a mostly unknown cast — an excellent decision to my mind. The last thing we needed was be constantly thinking “Oh, look, Johnny Depp” when we should be seeing The Comedian.

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Rebooting Linux with every new kernel

Back in the early 1990s, when I was working on Sun’s Unix boxes, it was routine for them to be up for multiple years at a time. A reboot was a big event.

Now here we are in 2017, and every single update to the Linux kernel — of which there are several every week — requests a reboot.

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