Among the Clouds

January 15, 2016 New York City Comments (0) 206

432 Park Avenue in the Clouds

If you come to New York City, you can pay $100 million to live above the clouds. My friend calls it “The Bespin Penthouse.”

That’s 432 Park Avenue, the second-tallest building in New York City at present, and the tallest residential building in the world. It’s apartments all the way up, and the penthouse is actually higher up than the spire of the Empire State Building. The view is incredible, according to published photos–although on a day like this, I don’t imagine you see much except the clouds.

 

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If you’re a Comcast customer, your WiFi is probably open to the whole neighborhood.

January 15, 2016 In The News Comments (0) 543

Comcast SUX VanI noticed something strange the last time I was home visiting my parents in the Philadelphia suburbs: They suddenly had a public wifi hotspot in their home. 

My parents’ house is far enough from public utilities and any neighbor houses that they often have difficulty just getting cellular service, so a public wifi network with a signal as strong as their home wifi seemed impossible.

But this was shortly after Comcast, their ISP, cable, and phone provider, forced my mother to switch out her modem and router (which I’d chosen and installed for her) for a new Comcast-owned 2-in-1 gateway. 

That part of the story is questionable enough. For years I had insisted they own their own equipment, both because it ensured better quality hardware and less tampering from Comcast and because they could avoid the nonsense monthly rental fee that meant they’d essentially be purchasing the crappy Comcast hardware anyway. Continue Reading

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“13 Hours” is about to make our politics much, much stupider

January 15, 2016 In The News, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 575

"WHY DOES HILLARY HATE THE TROOPS SO MUCH??"

“WHY DOES HILLARY HATE THE TROOPS SO MUCH??”

If you’re like me, you have zero intention of seeing 13 Hours, Michael Bay’s new right-wing fantasy porn flick. Maybe, like me, you’ve sat through four incomprehensible Transformers movies (owing to a borderline masochistic need to stay up on pop culture) and thought, “The only thing that could possibly make these worse is if they carried a more overt and deceptive endorsement of Republican conspiracy theory.”

However, like me you might have concerns about the effect it might have on our upcoming election. So I give you a handy guide to the coded messaging of 13 Hours, from Matt Gertz at Media Matters, the hero who watched this thing so we won’t have to. Continue Reading

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The Big Short is my favorite movie of this year’s awards season.

January 15, 2016 In The News, Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (1) 873

bigshottrailerThe Big Short is my favorite movie of the 2016 Awards Season*. I feel a little bad saying that, in light of yesterday’s Oscar nominations and their slate of white, white (blonde) faces, and the fact that The Big Short is, well, short on both women and minority actors. But the fact is I watched it through twice, and would happily sit through a third viewing. The film is alternately funny and gutting, the cast is pretty much universally brilliant, and the directing–from Adam McKay, who brought us films like Anchorman, Anchorman 2, and Funny or Die’s The Landlord–is impressive, avant-garde without being distracting, and making a complicated subject accessible.

* Okay, it’s tied with Mad Max: Fury Road, but since that came out over the summer it doesn’t really feel like an Awards Season movie.

Not too accessible, mind you. Despite the sidebar scenes in which celebrities like Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain, and Margot Robbie (in a bubble bath) break the fourth wall and explain complicated financial structures in layman’s terms–one of the film’s more unique and amusing contrivances–I frequently found myself leaning in so I could follow the fast-paced dialogue about derivatives, mortgage-backed-securities, credit swaps, and so on.

The Big Short is far from the first film about the 2008 Financial Crisis, but it might be the best combination of sweeping and accessible. Too Big to Fail captured the moves and conversations happening inside the banks and the Federal Reserve, and films like 99 Homes capture the human cost across the nation, but The Big Short takes a wider scope and time period to show the viewer what happened, through the eyes of a handful of professionals who predicted the crash. Continue Reading

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Surface Pro 3 Follow-up: When it all goes bad

January 13, 2016 Blogging, Personal Comments (0) 342

Yesterday, my Surface Pro 3 was working great, just as it has been for the last 9 months.  It’s not my primary computer, but I basically use it for two things: Drawing cartoons and taking notes in meetings.

(OneNote is a fantastic program, if you’ve never given it a chance. I want so badly to prefer Evernote, but I just can’t.)

I was taking notes in my first meeting of the day when I noticed it didn’t want to scroll. A strange sort of problem, because the pen input worked perfectly, but the touch (ie, finger) input, which one uses to scroll in the virtual notepad, was generally unresponsive, particularly in a roughly 2-inch by 3-inch section square in the center of the touchscreen. Continue Reading

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The Revenant is a stunning movie about Leonardo DiCaprio pursuing an Oscar

January 12, 2016 Pop Culture Comments (5) 1374

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It’s no secret at this point that The Revenant involves a bear attack, and the film is almost worth watching just for that sequence. I have never seen such a visceral and realistic animal attack on film, and though I know it involved some combination of trained bear and CGI effects, I still can’t figure out how they did it. Most of the attack is one long shot, as the bear bites and mauls DiCaprio’s character, Hugh Glass. At one point she lifts him entirely off the ground and shakes him like a human dog toy, and the camera never shies away–it’s so close, at one point the bear’s claws appear almost to touch the lens.

It had to trigger some instinctive terror for DiCaprio, being beneath a massive grizzly bear trained to feign killing him, and it looks incredible on camera. When it ended, though, I felt worse for the bear than for Glass. Continue Reading

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Conservative Activism: “We’ve Had Enough Smut!”

January 4, 2016 New York City Comments (0) 388

Liz and I made our first visit to the Museum of the City of New York this afternoon. It’s a great museum and I recommend it–we especially enjoyed the exhibits on protecting New York City landmarks and about the history of activism in New York City.

Speaking of that latter exhibit, the section on Conservative Activism in NYC was amusing. A few photos below for your enjoyment.

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