Blade Runner is a detective story set in a sprawling megapolis in the year 2019. To construct the proper setting, the filmmakers had to develop a clear, realistic vision of urban life forty years from now. Directory Ridley Scott was determined to avoid the pristine, antiseptic future often seen in science fiction films.
“Our city is rich, colorful, noisy, gritty, full of textures and teeming with life,” says Scott, “much like a major city of today. This is a tangible future, not too exotic to be believed.”
To help authenticate this picture of the future, the filmmakers enlisted Syd Mead, an international eminent industrial designer who is a specialist in picturing the shape of things to come, from skyscrapers and vehicles to parking meters.
“Blade Runner,” Mead notes, “is not a ‘hardware movies.’ It’s not one of those gadget-filled pictures where the actors seem to be there only to give scale to the sets, props, and effects. We’ve created an environment to make the story believable. The tools and machinery appear only when needed and fit tightly into the plot.”
“I knew that cyberspace was exciting, but none of the people I knew who were actually involved in the nascent digital industry were exciting. I wondered what it would be like if they were exciting, stylish, and sexy. I found the answer not so much in punk rock as in Bruce Springsteen, in particular Darkness on the Edge of Town, which was the album Springsteen wrote as a response to punk—a very noir, very American, very literary album. And I thought, What if the protagonist of Darkness on the Edge of Town was a computer hacker? What if he’s still got Springsteen’s character’s emotionality and utterly beat-down hopelessness, this very American hopelessness? And what if the mechanic, who’s out there with him, lost in this empty nightmare of America, is actually, like, a robot or a brain in a bottle that nevertheless has the same manifest emotionality? I had the feeling, then, that I was actually crossing some wires of the main circuit board of popular culture and that nobody had ever crossed them this way before.”—Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 211, William Gibson (via hirmes)
Auto-reblogged because EVERYTHING WILLIAM GIBSON SAYS IS GENIUS
“Imagine, if you will, a man who, as Speaker of the House, orchestrates the impeachment of a President for an adulterous affair with a White House aide twenty-six years his junior while he himself is conducting an adulterous affair with a congressional aide twenty-two years his junior, having earlier left the first of his three wives while she was hospitalized with cancer. Imagine a man who attributes these behaviors to “how passionately I felt about this country.” Imagine a man who, told he can’t sit in a front section of Air Force One, shuts down the government. Imagine a man who becomes the only House Speaker ever to be disciplined for ethics violations. Imagine a man who, in a country just staggering out of the worst recession of the past fifty years and facing the threat of worldwide economic collapse, proposes to hire small children to work as janitors, mopping floors and cleaning toilets in their schools (or their orphanages, perhaps). Imagine that man as Commander-in-Chief.”—Hendrik Hertzberg (via kateoplis)
We underestimated Japanese military power. So far as military and naval estimates were concerned, Japan had to be judged largely on her past record. Power cannot be gauged solely on strength reports, even if actual strength be known. Japan’s war record was not impressive. She had fought but one great power (if the Russia of 1904-1905 can be so rated), plus a push-over against an isolated German Colony. Most indicative of all were the four years before Pearl Harbor in which she had waged active warfare in China. We knew pretty accurately China’s deficiencies in modern equipment, resources, and training. Our maps and time scales, as we followed the war, clearly indicated a low rating for Japanese military prowess when judged by modern standards.
We had a yardstick. No better measure exists of what a power plant can do, if you cannot put your own gauges on it, than what it has done. We had no reason to doubt our yardstick’s approximate accuracy. Yet it was wholly false.
Sherman Miles, former Army chief of intelligence, reflects on Pearl Harbor in a 1948 issue of The Atlantic. Read more. (via theatlantic)
This is perhaps the strongest argument for flexible, actionable, current intelligence that I have ever seen. Basing our strategic policies upon past history is akin to setting ourselves up for the kind of domestic-soil terrorist attacks we experienced in 1941, and again in September 11 of 2001. It’s encouraging that Leon Panetta is now in charge of the defense budget- one can only hope that he will slash the kind of wasteful ordinance development programs that prevent the military from moving as a streamlined, effective force, and promote flexible squad-level intelligence, spec-ops, and COIN forces.
I made a playlist with some of my favorite new music from the past year. You should listen to it, and then we should be Spotify friends, and then we should trade music. There are some notable exceptions here, most of which are either things that aren’t on Spotify (like “212” or “The Last Huzzah”, two absolutely killer hip-hop tracks), or things that I simply haven’t spent enough time absorbing to confidently place on my best-of list. I’ve also forgotten some things, I’m sure- 2011 has been quite a long year. I’ll be updating this list as I remember more stuff, so be sure to subscribe for the whole experience. Enjoy!
One of my friends wrote a piece on Facebook about the “sissification” of Americans, wherein he made the argument that OWS protestors are part of a larger, more endemic problem; namely, that this nation has created a generation of entitled, spineless whiners who can’t deal with losing. I wrote this response to him, and, after expanding it slightly, I’ve posted it here, in the hope that you will read it.
I agree wholly that our generation hasn’t been well-conditioned for losing. I was actually discussing this a couple of weeks ago with my friend John. While I am predictably terrible at capital-S Sports, my youth was an interminable succession of basketball camps, youth league baseball, karate tournament ass-kickings, and absolutely shameful wrestling losses. What’s important is that I learned about losing: that losing isn’t the end of the game, that there is always someone better or more talented, and that, while hard work didn’t make me a winner, it was a responsibility to my teammates to try as hard as I could and not give up. After a while, losing didn’t feel so bad: it just felt like a part of life. And winning? Winning felt GREAT, far better than it would have had I not lost all the goddamn time.
Since I’m already talking about Sport, let’s use a sports metaphor to discuss this. Let’s imagine that somehow, through some fatal error in judgment on my part, I have found myself engaged in a game of one-on-one with John Wall. John Wall is stronger, faster, taller, and more skilled than I am at the game of basketball. He will undoubtedly win, if no measures are undertaken to make the matchup more even. Let’s extend this metaphor: the official refereeing this game is John Wall’s friend, and has bet a large sum of money on the outcome of this game, assuming that I will lose it. His interest is in making sure that John Wall wins, and if it becomes apparent that there is any contest, he will simply cease to enforce any rules against John Wall- not that any real enforcement would effect the estimable Mr. Wall anyways, since he can win against me without breaking the rules in the slightest. And, let’s deal me a final blow: Blue Jesus and his referee friend wrote the rulebook before the game, more or less ensuring that I would have no chance to win by creating a rule set so byzantine and so skewed in their favor that even a true competitor would have a difficult time competing equitably. Clearly, this is a rigged game.
Simply put, one cannot win a rigged game without altering the rules. What we need in this country is a change in the rule structure: our officiating is bad and rarely is it enforced evenly, our rule book is unimaginably complex and skewed in the favor of the stronger side, and any sort of handicapping to level the playing field is functionally non-existent. Do Americans need to learn how to lose better? Certainly. In terms of financial success, most of us will “lose” anyways, when compared to the richest Americans. That would be like comparing my basketball skills to John Wall’s. However, the cruel reality is that, in American life, we are all engaged in this kind of uneven contest, and the only way to improve the quality of life for the vast majority of our citizenry is to change the rules. As someone philosophically aligned with the idea of the OWS protests, I would offer this suggestion: don’t hate the players, hate the game.