Stephen’s Statements A little bit of everything from Stephen Duncan Jr, a Software Developer in Portland, Oregon

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Spurs vs Nuggets, Game 3

The Spurs grind out a good win over Denver, taking back home-court advantage. So, so far the San Antonio Spurs have: lost by only 6 playing badly, especially Duncan, won by 28 points playing well, and then had Duncan play badly and still win by 8.

Manu Ginobili played excellently, stepping up his game with Tim having an off-night. But the guy who never gets enough credit is Bruce Bowen. His continued success completely thwarting Carmelo Anthony is just another sign that he absolutely deserves to be Defensive Player of the Year for 2005.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Bringing Up Baby

I just wanted to make some quick comments on one of the movies I recently watched: Bringing Up Baby. The movie was a fun, fast-paced, screwball comedy. But, more importantly, Katherine Hepburn was utterly charming in this movie as a hyper, nutty, self-centered, earnest young woman trying desperately to win over Cary Grant's character. Actually, her character reminded me of a very exaggerated version of my wife, Diane. So, of course, I loved the movie. If you're looking for fun and silly, definitely watch this movie.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Unless Closed

Unless Closed
Saw this in the Atom feed for photos from Flickr tagged with "Lawrence Kansas".

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ann Althouse on Readability

Ann Althouse writes about readability:

The real question is how sophisticated your ideas are. If you are saying simple things in convoluted prose, you're a terrible writer who doesn't deserve to be read. Point me to the writer -- like Mark Twain -- who's saying striking, new things in clear prose! Blogs, especially, should be easy to read. But blog posts should contribute something new to the mix. Do you seriously think you're doing a better job if you're writing something harder to read? Don't you think Mark Twain worked over his prose to make it readable?

Frankly, I'm disgusted by the atrocious writing I have to read every day as part of my job. Frequently, reading judicial decisions and law review articles, I struggle to get the point, I take the time to decode the eye-glazing verbiage, and when I get it translated into plain English, I see it's a pretty simple point. This kind of writing is a product of laziness, the lack of genuinely interesting ideas, a careerist effort to seem smart and high-level, and a selfish lack of consideration for the reader.

I couldn't agree more. I just hope that I'm successful in my attempts here at writing clear prose. It'd be nice to be considered interesting too, but I know I'm fully succeeding at that yet...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

TV and Movie Moments That Get You All Choked Up

Now, I've never cried during a movie. Anyone who knows me would say that I'm not all that emotional of a guy. But there were two video-moments that I recently watched that did choke me up a bit. Both these scenes were both extremely well acted, in addition to be about quite difficult, emotional issues.

The first comes from an unexpected source: a sitcom. Mother Wore Stripes, from that tremendous comedy, Wings. Joe, played by Timothy Daly, confronts his mother, who abondened him and his family when was young (pre-teen?), and left him to take care of his of father (who was crazy), and his younger brother. The combination of Joe's anger, his expression of all the things he's lost, and how his life and who he is was changed by her decision to leave, as well as Daly's perfect acting make this an extremely potent scene. Daly's voice control is what really carries this scene.

The second moment comes from a more expected place: a classic movie. This time the incredible acting comes from Bogie, in The Caine Mutiny. When Bogart's character, Lt. Cmdr. Queeg, breaks down and shows his insanity during his cross-examination for the mutiny trial. Here it's Bogart's facial expressions that make you feel an immediate, overwhelming pity for the character.

So, do you have any movie or tv moments that you found particuarly powerful? Ones that choked you up, or made you cry (that is, if you're not the sort that cries at everything...)?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Movie Blogging: Music and Movies

I've got quite a back-log of TiVo'd movies to blog about. We started to watch Funny Face, but turned it off quickly, reinforcing the conclusion that I really don't like musicals. In fact, I can only think of two musicals off-hand that I've enjoyed. The first is The Wizard of Oz, though I think it's more in-spite-of it's being a musical. The second is the absolutely brilliant South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut. In fact, my fondness of South Park is almost entirely due to this movie: I'm not nearly that big a fan of the TV show.

More recently, I watched a couple of supposed "classic" films that I don't really get the reasons for the acclaim. First up: The Untouchables. I thought this movie was simply awful. It was a movie that didn't quite know what it wanted to be. Plus, Kevin Costner was more wooden than a log-cabin. But most awful of all was the music. Not only did it never seem to fit the current mood in the movie, but it was unpleasant to listen to at the same time. It's a lot easier to forgive ill-fitting beautiful music. Sean Connery was pretty good, but the poor script that couldn't decide if it was story, character, or action based dampened his performance.

Last night we watched The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Diane didn't like it all, and quit watching part way through. I, on the other hand, stuck through it mostly for the quality of the music. The score for this movie was extraordinarily well done, and kept me watching the full two-and-a-half hours. This just goes to show how movie music can make all the difference. Though the acting was better here than in the Untouchables as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Eclipse and XULRunner/Firefox

Over at Peer Pressure there's a post on asking for an Eclipse-like IDE for XUL apps to be written on top of Firefox (or XULRunner to be technical). I agree with Alex's post, however, that it would be better to do Eclipse plug-ins for XUL.

However, this leads to the idea of the competition between XUL and Eclipse as platforms for writing cross-platform rich-applications, which interests me. Let's compare them as fair as my limited knowledge (not having written any apps in XUL or for Eclipse) can allow. Basically, in terms of flexibility and power of the widgets provided, Eclipse wins, hands-down. Especially useful to me, as a user, is the flexibility of the tabs and layout in Eclipse. However in terms of footprint, Firefox is the clear winner. The difference is simply enormous. An Eclipse-based web-browser, for isntance, would almost certainly be an unacceptable download size for your average user, and the memory usage would be killer too, most likely.

Going back to the tabs in Eclipse though: man, what I wouldn't give to have that ability in Firefox. I could essentially open the tabs and sidebars any way I like, and see as much stuff at once as desired. Sure would be handy some times. Oh well, just random musings...

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

Thanks to TiVo and Turner Classic Movies, I've been able to watch a lot of movies, especially movies from 1940's and '50's. I figure maybe a lot of people haven't seen these, so I should blog about ones I liked.

Tonight my wife and I watched The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, starring Cary Grant and Shirley Temple. If you're like me, you probably only think of Shirley Temple as the singing-dancing child-star. In this movie, however, she plays a 17 year-old high school girl, in love with an older man, who's not interested, but has to date her by court-order. If you can't tell by that plot summation, this is a very silly comedy story.

I bring up my ignorance of this aspect of Shirley Temple's career, because I was surprised at how truly excellent she was in this movie. Her screen prescense and ability to play the best stereotypical, dramatic, silly high school girl with a crush I've ever seen in a movie. She really carries the film. Beyond the movie was a successful and fun light comedy. I find, at the moment, that a light comedy is really something I enjoy, and very little in current television or movies deliver. It's all generally over-the-top, or heavy on the "feel-good" emotion or drama.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

On Unexpected Consequences

On Unexpected Consequences. Jane Galt writes a post vaguely addressing the issue of gay marriage, mostly by making lots of points about unintended consequences. While I can't see any conclusion coming out of this (and neither can Jane), it's absolutely essential that you read this and keep the issues in mind. It's a very valuable truth, even if it makes things harder to decide.

Is this post going to convince anyone? I doubt it; everyone but me seems to already know all the answers, so why listen to such a hedging, doubting bore? I myself am trying to draw a very fine line between being humble about making big changes to big social institutions, and telling people (which I am not trying to do) that they can't make those changes because other people have been wrong in the past. In the end, our judgement is all we have; everyone will have to rely on their judgement of whether gay marriage is, on net, a good or a bad idea. All I'm asking for is for people to think more deeply than a quick consultation of their imaginations to make that decision. I realise that this probably falls on the side of supporting the anti-gay-marriage forces, and I'm sorry, but I can't help that. This humility is what I want from liberals when approaching market changes; now I'm asking it from my side too, in approaching social ones. I think the approach is consistent, if not exactly popular.

Read the comments section too. Lots of good arguments. Here's some of the best points:

Friday, April 1, 2005

Google Gulp

Check out Google's newest product: Google Gulp. I especially like how the labels indicate that it's a beta product...