12-12-08 - Friday Randoms

It's really fucking annoying how macros are not namespaced. I've got the same macros in cblib, Galaxy, Oodle, etc. etc. and sometimes they conflict. Even worse is macros that have the same name but aren't identical; it's standard practice to either just undef the old one or not define the new one and god knows what the side effects of that are. The macro processor is one of the things that would actually be useful to fix in programming languages, instead we get a lot of shitty languages where they just get rid of the preprocessor completely, which is a huge step backward IMO. *Yes* you should make it so that I don't have much reason to use the preprocessor (by making inline functions actually work, by improving metaprogramming, by improving switches on constants and such to not even generate unreachable code) but that doesn't mean you should kill something the user likes.

Using "#ifdef" for toggles is really bad. I've always known that, but I keep doing it. The big problem with it is if you put in the wrong name to check for ifdef, it just returns false with no error. That hits you in two ways, one is just if you put in a typo in your ifdef it will never be true. Perhaps worse is when you change the name of the thing that you are toggling, all the old checks just fail. Of course what you should do is just "#if " for the toggle.

Musicians cover the wrong thing. Listen up musicians, let me straighten you out. They tend to do covers of songs that are good songs to begin with, or that are popular. This is the wrong criterion; you should cover songs that you can make *better*. In particular, songs where doing a different version would show the original song in amusing new light (the semi-comedy cover is okay, like Macha's "Believe" or Luna's "Sweet Child of Mine") , but mainly songs where the original execution was flawed and the true beauty of the song was not expressed through the first performance. Some good examples would be pretty much any Bob Dylan song or any Steve Merritt song because god those guys are awful singers, but they write great songs, so there's a lot of potential for covers. In any case, the new MGMT covers album is the epitome of what not to do. The original versions of the MGMT songs are the perfect expression of those songs. The best a cover can do is come close to the original, but mainly they just leave you unsatisfied and frustrated that you're not just listening to the better original version. (yes, I know that this is mainly due to stupid record companies; the cover albums are just created because the original sold well and the producer is trying to make some money off that)

I can easily be guilted or pressured into doing things. Not because I actually feel guilty or want to please the person (in fact, quite the opposite, when somebody tries to make me feel like I "should" so something it makes me want to *displease* them or just ignore them). Rather it's because I just find it so unpleasant I want them to stop and go away, and usually the easiest way is just to give them what they want.

I don't believe that people who claim to like super-snobby things actually like them. Examples - noise techno like DJ Spooky or Matmos. In movies, for example Igmar Bergman or Akira Kurosawa. With all of those I can recognize the high level of execution of what they're doing, but it's just so unpleasant, I can't imagine actually enjoying it. Anyway, I just assume that when someone says something like "oh, I adore Kurosawa" they're just lying to try to seem cultured.

I just came up with the perfect analogy for Popcap games today. They're like Television. Mildly amusing, somewhat engaging, not at all challenging or surprising, cute with lots of stimulus, but they let you turn off your brain and zone out. Most people love television. Most people love Popcap games.

One of the big problems with the Netflix ratings in practice is still selection bias. For example, the more obscure a movie is, the higher it gets rated, because the only people who rent it are people who probably know it or love it. Really old movies pretty much all have 4-5 star ratings, but that's only because the people who wouldn't like them don't rent them! In fact this isn't exactly a flaw in the ratings, because the ratings do not actually predict what you would think if you saw a movie - they predict how you would rate a movie *if you rented it*. It's a Bayesian kind of problem - their prediction is for the rating that you would make, given that you chose to rent it and rate it.


Dan S. said...

"I don't believe that people who claim to like super-snobby things actually like them."

As long as we are ranting, this attitude annoys the hell out of me. Whenever anyone tells me "you don't really like Pynchon/Schoenberg/Beefheart/Dogfish Head/etc., you're just pretending to so people think you're cool," my blood boils. There must be stuff that you genuinely like a ton that other people don't; why is it so hard to imagine that the converse could be true too?

MH said...

Really depends on how you take the 'actually'.

A large number are probably just apeing other members of their social group for some form of acceptance. Statistically I think Ide hand it to CB. However,

Stripped of its social context, there is still a temporal context that would seem to dominate what we like or dislike. I believe this is related to how our mind determines things like novelty and whether it should pay attention to new info.

Keeping this in music for a bit. If you're young you (usually) havent heard a lot of music, so much of its structure is novel. May as well like the crap they put out.

After you've existed for a bit, hearing the same chord progressions or other musical structures just gets tedious; we get bored.

Which is a long winded way to say, I think you could like it cause youre friends do, or because you just happen to be at a spot in your life where thats interesting.

Course, noone is going to admit (even to themselves!) that they like something only for social reasons (cause thats not acceptable socially, hahaha). So their mind will work overtime coming up with valid reasons theyre in the second group.

That said, this Schoenberg fella seems pretty good, what little Ive heard on youtube, more listenable than jazz for sure.

And to not lose my social standing with Charles, I just finished a huge binge of.. Avril Lavigne. Oh wait, that'd be Moo. I just finished listening to a huge binge of ... (looks up recent music mentions by CB...) ahh fuck it (ir is that just to (or is that (or ... )))

All hail Muse.

Sean said...

I find Bergman pretty tedious, but Kurosawa's stuff is pretty good. Intellectually I'm pretty sure that not only is none of this snobbishness, but even ignoring my self-opinion, by splitting Bergman and Kurosawa it seems like I must be undercutting your thesis regardless.

Obviously tastes vary, so it really is possible that other people derive enjoyment from stuff you don't, right? Like, some people do like Pushing Daisies.

And in particular I can appreciate things aesthetically *for* their high level of execution. Citizen Kane is probably the best example I know of where it tends to leave people cold but I don't care. Even if the only reason I like it is for the execution, the great execution is on so many levels.

But that doesn't even cross my mind with why I like Kurosawa. Something like Ran has the beautiful imagery you mention for Hero, but in service of a more reasonable story. Obviously there's crazy experimental stuff like Rashoman, but that didn't really do much for me either.

cbloom said...

Obviously people have different tastes. Most of those people are wrong. Just like they're wrong about science and politics and religion and driving and how to shop, cook, eat, walk, dress, speak, and just about everything else (such as when I'm being completely serious).

AK said...

You should really mention your movie theatre concentration camp. People who like "Pushing Daisies" probably should be herded in there as well.

old rants