Angry Robot

The Men Who Made ABC’s ‘Lost’ Last

Darlton interview in the NY Times

Kindle 2.5 hands on: social networks, passwords, and more

sounds like a decent update

Are We Really Dumb Zucks?

Facebook CEO’s private IM now circulating; shows massive disregard for privacy.

Yes, the Internet is rotting your brain

review of a book from the author of the essay “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”.

Sir Ian McKellen mistaken for tramp outside theatre

in costume for “Waiting for Godot”. Excellent.

Lost Season Six Episode Fifteen, "Across the Sea"

What’s the deal with the magic cave? What happens if it’s destroyed? Who were the proto-others? Who built the statue, lighthouse, etc.? What the fuck is dude’s name already? Did Smokey pre-date the Man in Black (and was released by his insertion into magic cave, and then took his form as he did with Locke etc.), or did the Man in Black become Smokey?

After some reflection, though, I am quite happy with the episode. It could stand on its own as an hour-long story, yet it fits in perfectly with the themes and back story of the show. It functions as myth, structurally for the story of Lost, and formally as a piece of myth – it has myth’s openness to a multiplicity of viewpoints. You can argue that Jacob is right, or that Smokey is right, or some other view, and find evidence for your case. Really, that’s one of the strong points of Lost as a whole.

The lack of answers is something we had best get used to. In Lost as in life, there is no all-knowing deity to provide all the answers. There are other people, like Allison Janney here, whose knowledge is always partial, and you can believe them, or not. She is just one in a line of island protectors, and this was not an island origin story. Judging by the Latin, the statue had already been built. So we don’t know why the fuck there is a Magic Cave / Waterfall, but we know it is the source of everything. It can be tapped – can make you immortal, turn you into smoke, travel in time & space, change dimensions. But I wouldn’t expect to learn too much more about it. It’s a MacGuffin, and its definition or lack thereof will not redeem or ruin your Lost experience.

Moving on, then. It was interesting that the MiB is allied with science (certainly with skepticism), what with the use of ingenious “wheels” to tap the power of the island and whatnot. So that puts him firmly in Dharma Camp, making the Dharma vs. hostiles dispute a Smokey vs. Jacob proxy war. Once the ‘others’ took over – the purge, courtesy Ben – theoretically Jacob would be in charge of the island again, but I’m starting to wonder if Smokey hadn’t “gotten free” by then, imitated Jacob, and caused the entire purge. So when Widmore was trying to get to the island, Ben was following Fakob thinking it was Jacob… phew.

A lot of fans and critics (what’s the difference again?) reacted quite negatively to this episode. To generalize, the argument is that not enough questions were answered, and that the show isn’t going to answer everything, therefore they didn’t really know what they’re doing. It’s a species of Lost Finale Angst, and I certainly understand it – I’ve had my doubts about this season, and my initial reaction to this ep was similar. However, I think it’s too hard to judge until the finale ends. But I certainly don’t think info-dump question-answering sessions make for very good television, and I don’t want everything wrapped up in a bow. Again, one of the strengths of this show is the multiplicity of viewpoints it supports and the discussion it engenders, and I hope the end of the show still leaves some room for that.

Next week: well, if you don’t know the episode title, I won’t spoil it for you. And then the two and a half hour finale on the following sunday… It’s gonna be huge. I hope.

Some further reading about “Across the sea:”
AV Club writeup and discussion
Cultural Learnings writeup

Bike share plan gets a green light

Bixi on its way to Toronto. Nice!

Why I Hate 3-D (and You Should Too)

Ebert has some bad points, some good ones. I’m not a big fan of 3D either: the fake conversions suck, as do the headaches and the higher prices. But the idea that 48 frames per second will be 4x better is foolishness.

Banksy leaves his mark on Toronto

4 works, possibly more

FP Tech Desk: Rogers unveils data pricing plans for Apple's iPad

“Canadian iPad users will be able to purchase a 250MB data plan for their iPad for $15 per month, while a 5GB plan will cost $35.”

STEPHEN HAWKING: How to build a time machine

go very fast.


not yet complete open source facebook replacement

Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative

this one’s for Steve.

The Secrets of Sleep

there is a type of insomnia that’s deadly.

Lost Season Six Episode Fourteen, "The Candidate"

The dangerous thing about this season has of course been the sideways flashes replacing the flashbacks or flash forwards of past seasons. The flash sideways at the beginning of the season felt like “hey what would happen if the plane never crashed” speculative time-wasters, which contrasted poorly with the tension and action ol’ smokey was causing in the “real”(?) storyline. The pacing was just too different, and we weren’t told why we should care, as we had no idea about the ontological status of the sideways world. Things felt better with the Desmond injection the sideways received a few eps ago, which projected the alterna-plot forward at a satisfying clip. But this one felt like a touch of a regression. It’s impossible to have a scene like the one with Claire & Jack be satisfying, as it had no apparent purpose or relationship to the main story, and its touchy-feely vibe was an unwelcome break from some machine-gun battlin’, balls-to-the-wall suspense and action on the island.

Do I think the flash sideways are a waste of time, then? Not at all. The writers are doubling down on sideways, and there will be a payoff, which we can at least hope will cover the dramatic debt they have incurred with us by keeping the purpose of this strange universe completely hidden.

So what were the themes, then? A lot of things recurred:

Essentially, Sawyer killed three main characters tonight. His decision to attempt to defuse the bomb was obviously the wrong one. It contrasts with Jack’s decision at the end of season five to detonate the bomb, which cost Juliet her life and earned Sawyer’s rage. Sawyer’s decision was motivated by mistrust, whereas Jack’s was motivated by trust (in Faraday’s theories, and that he could ‘fix’ everything).

I do think Jack’s theory, that the MIB cannot kill the candidates, is sound. The mysterious kid who appeared to Locke and Sawyer said as much, and frankly, if he could kill the candidates, he’s had plenty of chances. Also, it fits in perfectly with MIB’s dim view of humanity, as seen in the finale of season 5: “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt.” Humans are so ready to kill each other that he need only gently nudge them in the direction of self-interest, as Jacob does the opposite way. “Live together, die alone.”

And wow, the death count: three, maybe four characters massacred in one go. In an interview that was published quickly after the episode, Darlton state that the point of the slaughter was to establish that Smokey is the villain: “There is no ambiguity… He is evil and he has to be stopped.” While I wish poor Sayid had a few more violins playing him out, it was ultimately as redemptive a death as a character like him can aspire to.

So, the view from here. Next we get “Across the Sea,” reputedly the Jacob/MiB flashback-origin story and certainly the episode I’ve most been anticipating. After that comes the alluringly-titled “What They Died For,” which I hope will contain some more backstory for some deceased characters, especially Daniel Faraday, whose time in Ann Arbor with Dharma in the 70s seems crucial for more than one strand of narrative. And then, we end with two and a half hours of “The End,” which could theoretically pick up right where The Candidate left off. Damn son, not a long way to go.

PMO Issues The Order: Canadian DMCA Bill Within Six Weeks

a step backward for copyright law in Canada

Tim O'Reilly: The Oracle of Silicon Valley

“Money is like gasoline during a road trip,” he says. “You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.” Amazing quote.

Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook

I’ve been thinking a lot about doing exactly that – this list is a good summary of the main points against The Book of Faces.

Jane McGonigal Lives the Game

The Escapist profiles the world’s most prominent ARG designer

Millions of Americans cancelling or cutting back on cable

“One in eight Americans will cancel or cutback their pay TV service — either cable or satellite — in the next year, because it’s getting so expensive, according to a major new study.”

The Halo Reach Multiplayer Beta

Halo is Halo, and what works works, so the Bungie crew have been rightly reluctant to mess with their formula. The first Halo was groundbreaking for many reasons. Most importantly it showed that consoles could provide a good shooter experience. It was, despite being a linear game, quite open. Many shooters at the time were about maze-like hallways, and Halo was suddenly out in the open, giving players many possible ways to approach an encounter with the enemy. Vehicles were added to the mix, and have remained there. Finally it was just a hell of a lot of fun, thanks to a finely calibrated shield-weapon-grenade-melee cocktail.

But gameplay evolves. Halo 2 and Halo 3 added very little to the formula (dual-wielding and equipment, respectively), whereas other shooter franchises like Gears of War and Call of Duty were successfully adding new elements to the experience, like cover and various RPG tropes like levelling and character specializations.

Halo Reach has many changes, which may seem radical in the context of Halo, but not so much in the grand scheme of things. Playing matchmaking games earns you credits and rank, but the credits can only buy you cosmetic changes. Quite a number of gametypes allow for different loadouts, which theoretically could mean different starting weapons, but right now only change your ‘armor ability’, briefly deployable features like invisibility, jet packs, sprinting, or brief invincibility.

The armor abilities are a great addition: they’re fun, and well balanced. The cloaking device also scrambles radar, so it’s quite effective. The invincibility doesn’t last long and requires you to remain stationary, but it also gives of a li’l explosion when it ends. Sprinting can be a lifesaver on certain maps, especially if a skilled sniper is beating the shit out of you. And hey, who can argue with jet packs. What’s great is that you choose your loadout every time you spawn, so if you realize you’ve chosen the wrong one you’re not stuck for the whole game.

The traditional Halo weapons mostly remain, but many have been heavily tweaked, and several new ones have been added. The pistol has a scope and seems effective at long range, but it also has crazy recoil. Seems like it would be more challenging to master than the legendary Halo 1 pistol, but just as dangerous once you had your PhD in pistolery. There’s a weird zooming Needler rifle, plus some crazy-ass Covenant missle launcher equivalent.

There are additions to the gametypes, too. Stockpile is a form of Capture the Flag with multiple flags that plays like a cross between CTF and Slayer. In Headhunter, when you are killed you drop a skull, which can then be collected and deposited at drop-off points. It adds some tactical thought to the otherwise run-n-gun Slayer gameplay.


The sound, as per usual, is killer. Now when a grenade detonates near you there is a concussed-silence effect that certainly adds to the sense of danger. It also goes silent when you trigger your cloaking device, reminding you that a) you’re invisible! and b) you’re a magical ninja!

The downsides? There are only two maps. One of them isn’t great. Apparently more will be added over the course of the beta, though. Also, it’s only matchmaking, no custom games – same as with the Halo 3 beta, so not surprising, but something that will certainly limit how much time some of us spend in the thing.

Regardless of the beta’s limitations, the substantial successful departures from the Halo formula indicate the game itself will be top notch. I’m looking forward to it.

I Need Instapaper for Video

So if I see something online I want to watch, it gets saved somewhere so I can load it up on my TV. Or possibly my portable device.

That would be nice.

I use Plex, so a plugin for that would be great. But I’m flexible. The important part is, I’d mostly rather not sit at my computer to watch things – it’s best to watch things in the best place for watching things, my couch & TV. As instapaper is to reading…

This post is brought to you by the alternate reality where the internet is standing by to take my stupid ideas and make them happen.

How Tracked the iPhone Finder

nerd P.I.

Ken Loach Films

on YouTube. He is going to add his entire filmography. (via MeFi)

ReBirth Arrives for iPhone

Damn. Always have a 303 in your pocket, in case of… acid house emergencies?