Hear Ye! Since 1998.

Archived Posts for May 2003

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
30
May 03
Fri

Target Solver for SMH

Shish has made a program that will solve Target in the SMH, right here. Really good stuff…

Happy Birthday to Me

I’m 22. I didn’t tell anyone this year. Let’s see who remembers.

Neo’s Door

Doc sent me in a screen cap of Neo’s door in Zion:

Neo's Door in Matrix Reloaded

He also remarks: I have a screen cap of that door plate attached. (Not sure why the door looks like flesh…) I don’t know Braille, however a cursory look at the actual plate makes me think that the smaller stuff is indecipherable if it is Braille and the larger dots may be an L, S and I? http://www.brailleauthority.org/alpha.html.

Thanks Doc! Intriguing, but maybe not so interesting after all?

27
May 03
Tue

Matrix-ify Your Desktop

Soon sent me a link to a Matrix screensaver/moving-wallpaper program. It rocks, looks pretty authentic, is customisable (you can use Japanese character sets just like the movies) and doesn’t use a large amount of system resources.

25
May 03
Sun

What the Merovingian Said in the Matrix

“Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d’enculé de ta mère.”

Babelfish says: Name of god of whore of bloody hell of filth of jerk of asshole of your mother. Of course, as we all learnt in Year 7 French, “merde” is not “filth” but “shit”.

Request to Canadians/Yanks

To any Canadian or person who is aware of the Canadian legal system: Could you please e-mail me, or leave a note in the comments, if you know the Court Hierarchy for a civil action arising from the province of British Columbia? (eg: in Australia it would be local, district/county, Supreme, Court of Appeal, and then the High Court). Out of further interest, what’s the hierarchy for American courts? What’s this 9th/10th/11th circuit court of appeals thing – is it a level between a state court and the Supreme court made of state groupings?

20
May 03
Tue

Matrix Reloaded Review

The opinions from people coming out from Reloaded have been quite polarised. There are some people who love it, there are some people who think it’s a steaming load of dung. The primary gripe seems to be the slow pace of the movie during dialogue and the non-exciting lacklustre action scenes. The plot has been criticised as straight-forward and unimaginative. All valid criticisms, depending on what you got out of the movie. Also, if you haven’t seen the movie, there’s a trailer for Matrix: Revolutions after the credits.

Back in English classes in high school, we were always taught to analyse prose by splitting up the material into four attributes: plot, characters, themes and style. For me, the latter two aspects made the movie worth watching. I really enjoyed the action scenes – the Matrix has defined its own style of action, an amalgam of bullet time, Asian-influenced martial arts, sweeping camera angles and visual pyrotechnics all while wearing a trenchcoat. The problem is, it seems, that people have become desensitised to special effects. CGI is now at the point where anything the mind can conceive can be transferred onto the big screen. Because, if you ask the question – what could Reloaded have done better with regards to its action scenes – and the answer is quite honestly, not much. 100 replica actors on screen, actors trained in Kung Fu and the use of an array of mediaeval weaponry, wire acrobatics, guns, a car chase scene with a motorbike, explosions, it goes on and on. So. What more is there? Where to from here?

Of course, action doesn’t leave much to be discussed after a movie besides the obligatory, “Wow, did you see when X happened?! Unreal!” Which is why I think the Wachowski brothers (who are apparently very well read) decided to intersperse the explosions with a series of interminable and confusing conversations that critics have dismissed as a superficial discussion of philosophy, watered down for plebs. I think that is being too dismissive. Half the film was chatter about an array of philosophically-grounded words, thrown up seemingly randomly in the air, causing the audience to instantly tune out. However, I think the unorthodoxy of such cerebral dialog in a guaranteed blockbuster points to an intention by the Wachowski brothers to not produce another mindless action flick, and to try and stimulate the audience into discussing movie themes, in addition to movie plots. In my opinion, the Wachowskis have done a brilliant job with the philosophy. If you’re not interested, that’s cool – not everyone wants to have to think on a Friday night out – and you can stop reading here. Otherwise, it’s time for my analysis. I may or may not be reading too much into this movie, but discussions about a movie don’t have to be restricted to just the movie. I have seen the movie twice. Beware – Spoilers Ahead!

Whilst the philosophical theme in the first Matrix was all about what is reality, the themes in Reloaded were a lot less clear. Many terms were thrown up: control, choice, reason, purpose, destiny and so on. Let’s look at each of the conversations in turn (comments always welcome of course!) and stimulate “the only muscle that counts”.

Neo and the Councilor: Brief discussion of “what is control”? It’s not as clear cut as you would think. Control is sometimes an illusion, whereas interdependence may be often closer to reality.

Neo and the Oracle: This one is juicy. When Neo takes the candy, he accuses the Oracle that she already knows what he’s going to do, an accusation she accepts. Neo retorts, what choice does he have, if she already knows what he’s going to do. She replies that he has already made the choice, and that he’s not there to find out about his future choices, but to find out the reason behind making those future choices. Neo is confused. Neo reasons that if all his choices are already made (pre-determined), then why can’t he see into the future himself? The Oracle again replies that it is because he lacks an understanding of the reasons, that he cannot see into the future.

An interesting idea is developed here. It looks at the concept of destiny/fate and then decrees that choice is irrelevant. The idea is that it is the reasons and motivations that ultimately govern the choice you are going to make. In order to see the future (ie: the choice you are going to make), you have to understand the reasons behind the choice. That is, Neo can’t see the future because he doesn’t understand the reasons. The choice is “already made”, or more accurately, the choice is irrelevant and illusory. It’s a subtle but significant distinction.

Let’s analogise. You buy a magazine at a newagency and walk up to the counter. At this point let’s say you have two “choices”, whether to pay for it, or nick off without paying for it. We would be able to predict what you would do, given your motives. If you were an ordinary person, you’d pay for the magazine – you don’t really have a choice in the matter. Whereas, if you were a kleptomaniac, you’d nick off because the reason for that is that you have an uncontrollable psychological disorder. Hence, if we understand the motives behind a person walking up to the counter, we can predict what choice he is going to make when he comes to make it. In this way we can plan ahead in life by projecting scenarios and making hypothetical decisions based on our internal reasoning. Know the reasons, know the choice.

What use is this though? Predicting reasons is often as difficult as predicting choice. To this, we turn to the Merovingian.

Neo and the Merovingian: The Merovingian rattles off a spiel about causality and how it governs absolutely everything (chain of causality). There is no effect without cause.

Slotting this back into the “choice” ideas above, we can see that choice is no longer a “cause”, for the effects flowing from the choice are not actually initiated by that choice. They are initiated by the reasoning behind the choice. In effect, reason becomes the cause, and choice an effect of reason (and all the subsequent consequences flowing from that).

That still doesn’t really help poor Neo understand why understanding reason is the key, as opposed to understanding choice.

Neo and Agent Smith: Agent Smith gets freed, turns into a virus, and before he attacks Neo, he states that “purpose” is the only thing that matters. Purpose drives, binds, defines and so on.

How can we understand reason then? Following the reasoning of Agent Smith, we are who we are. Purpose drives us in life, and it is our purpose that defines our motivations and reasoning process and thus our choices. The Keymaker also stated this – when he dies he said “it was meant to be” because he was who he was. In the movie, many characters have purposes, whether they are conscious of it or not. Neo, for example, is The One, and his very being determines his life path. So, purpose defines reasons which define choices.

So from this bit of philosophical trickery, we can reason that fate and destiny is entirely pre-determined by who we are. We don’t really have a “choice” over what we do, it is determined by our purpose – something inherently ingrained into our being. I say trickery, because it doesn’t really prove anything. Whether fate or destiny is predetermined or not is really quite irrelevant. The distinction is debated because people like to feel in control (compare with Neo’s comments about fate and “being in control” in the first Matrix). People don’t like the idea that their path is laid out, their choices already made for them. However, all the ideas above dispense with the very concept of “choice”. Choice is illusory, therefore, fate is predetermined.

(Also compare with the first Matrix movie where Rhineheart (Neo’s boss) says to Neo, “The time has come to make a choice, Mr. Anderson. Either you choose to be at your desk on time from this day forth, or you choose to find yourself another job.” Does Neo really have a choice in that matter?)

Neo and The Architect: Less about philosophy, more about plot. This guy’s speech sounded like a textbook with all its big words and gratuitous use of “ergo” instead of “therefore”. Basically he said that the Matrix is a computer simulation that has undergone several versions. The first version failed, despite the Architect creating a “perfect world”. The second version failed, despite the Architect creating a world defined by misery and suffering. He couldn’t figure out why humans kept rejecting the simulation, but the Oracle did. She discovered that human minds rejected a simulation in which they didn’t have choice – even if that choice was merely at a subconscious level, or even merely illusory. The current version of the Matrix therefore gave a measure of “free will” to its inhabitants. However, this only worked on 99% of people. The 1% of people rejecting the simulation (presumably due to them discovering they really didn’t have “choice”) went to Zion. Once this errant population builds to a critical mass (quarter million humans), the machines start to get worried and reset the Matrix (something which has happened five times in the past). Neo is supposedly the “reset button”, whose actions will bring one of these cycles to an end. If he refuses to do so, the Matrix will crash as humans mass reject the simulation, or something like that.

Neo is given a “choice”, which is influenced by his inbuilt affinity for mankind (but especially Trinity), which makes his actions predictable. However, we don’t know how much of what the Architect is saying is bullshit, or who to trust, or whether the “real world” is not just another simulation, or why Neo suddenly has super powers in the “real world”. We’ll find out in six months I guess.

OTHER NOTES
Niobe: Mythological queen of Thebes who had her 14 children killed when she contested Diana.
Persephone: Wife of Hades. Returns to Earth every year and brings about Spring. Implies renewal – symbolising a new cycle of the Matrix?
Merovingian: The Merovingians were a dynasty of Frankish kings (5-8th Century).
– Seraph: The first in the order of angels. The Asian dude who protects the Oracle.
– See also this page.
– A “keymaker” or “key generator” in the computer world is a program that is used to bypass security features on software (eg: disabling shareware nag screens or usage time limits)
– Trinity’s hack into the power plant’s Unix server is as legit as you’ll find in the movies. See this Register article.
– Backdoors, same as in computers
– Lots of religious references: Offerings to Neo (and how one woman says to him something about “Jacob on the Moses”), addressing the masses of Zion, etc
– A lot of people think it’s stupid how Neo restarted Trinity’s heart. But it sorta fits in well. In the first movie, he comes back from the dead. In Reloaded, he resurrects someone else. Now what does that sound like?
– Morpheus’ faith in the prophecy under adversity is interesting. What happens when faith is confronted by something incontrovertible that shatters is? Do the truly faithful keep on believing? Can something that shatters faith be incontrovertible?
– There’s a tribute to Brandon Lee and Gloria Foster. When Agent Smith is walking towards Neo after the Oracle meeting, he walks through a flock of crows which fly towards the camera, just like Brandon Lee in The Crow. Incidentally, Brandon Lee died before filming of The Crow finished (accidentally shot). Similarly, the actress who played the Oracle, Gloria Foster, died before the Matrix: Revolutions completed filming.
– When the Nebuchadnezzar goes down, Morpheus says “I have dreamed a dream. But now that dream is gone from me.” Compare with Daniel 2:3 (King James Bible), “I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.”
– There are a lot of black people in Zion (they dance better?). There are quite a lot of Asians in the movie too.

Update: This page is linked in the comments, but it’s very good, so I’ll repeat it here — http://www.corporatemofo.com/stories/051803matrix.htm. It excellently and astutely links mythology and religion with the movie and has some great insights.

QUESTIONS
– What does the plaque on Neo’s Zion apartment say? It looks like it’s in braille.
– What exactly does the Merovingian say when he swears?
– Surely there are many more tributes to other movies in Reloaded. What are they?
– Ditto for foreshadowing statements and external references.

19
May 03
Mon

About a Year Ago

I was doing some tidying up, when I found this note that was stuck on our door about a year ago.


“Are you moving furniture every night?”

It was somewhat bizarre. We weren’t aware we were making that much noise such that the apartment directly underneath us was being bothered. Anyway, we kept doing whatever we were doing that they claimed was making noise (well, we couldn’t stop making noises that we didn’t know we were making!) and in time they stopped leaving notes.

  11:24pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Life  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (4)  • 
18
May 03
Sun

Matrix 2

Matrix 2. Is great. Orgasmic cake. (Proper geeky analysis of the movie to come when I have more time.)

  11:26pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Movies  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (2)  • 

Colour Blindness Test

Test your sight using dot tests. I found I needed to look closely at a couple that are a little hard to discern, perhaps indicating a lesser degree of colour blindness?

15
May 03
Thu

Archibald

And the Archibald Peoples’ Choice prize goes to a painting by Dalu Zhao of Prof Steve FitzGerald.

FD Fund

Now stands at $370.

14
May 03
Wed

Graduates Face Difficult Job Market

It’s happened/happening in Australia, it’s happening in the US. Graduate recruitment is facing tough times. Feels sort of like buying high (into uni in 1999) and selling low (out of uni in 2003) in the stockmarket. Maybe the best time to start uni is when the economy is in the trough of a recession. Of course though, we can’t really control when we were born.

12
May 03
Mon

It’s a V8. You try stopping it.

I did a one-off stint last Thursday evening at the Kingsford Legal Centre where we practiced interviewing clients coming in looking for legal advice. One common case is where someone gets busted big time for speeding and is looking for a way out. I’m sorry, but if you are caught doing 60 over the speed limit, there really isn’t that much you can say in your defence (save for a medical emergency, in which case the cop probably wouldn’t have fined you anyway). That hasn’t stopped people from trying, though. Some of the excuses are classic: “I can’t wear my seat belt as I have sore breasts”.

Mega-anagrams

Shish, in his quest to write an automated cruciverbalist program, discovered this:

Okay, it’s been a slow day. :) Whether you care in the slightest about this
or not. The following three words:

* acetonitriles (“Compounds in which a methyl group is attached to the cyano
moiety” – don’t ask me)
* electrisation
* intersocietal

are all anagrams of each other, and are all “kinda different” to each other
(by my arbitrary definition of having a Levenshtein distance >= 11). They
are the only three words in the 260,000-word YAWL dictionary that are all
anagrams and are all “kinda different”.

(Levenshtein distance is defined as the minimum number of operations – add,
remove or change one letter – it takes to change word A into word B.)

Shish

Amazing what you can do with a quarter millions words and a computer :)

11
May 03
Sun

Sony Ericsson T610

The Sony Ericcson T610 is the mobile phone I’ve been waiting for. It has everything, except that it’s not a Nokia.

10
May 03
Sat

Matrix Reloaded

This week! Can’t wait! They showed the first one tonight, caught some of it and now I’m all hyped up again. Here’s some Matrix symbolism trivia.

9
May 03
Fri

Graduation

BIT/ISM Class of 2002
BSc (BIT) and BCom (ISM) Class of 2002

Graduated yesterday. The ceremony, the $65-rent-a-gown, the tradition was all pretty ordinary. However, it was definitely a good time catching up with (or at least briefly seeing) friends. I don’t doubt that I won’t be seeing some of them again for years, but we still have the wonder of mailing lists. (And Congrats to Kit for taking out the uni medal!)

4
May 03
Sun

A Night at Tetsuya’s

I officially graduate from BIT this Friday. About 5 weeks ago, Jay, Kit, Pro and I decided to hold a pre-celebratory dinner at Tetsuya’s and thus, taking into account the requisite month-long waiting queue, made a booking there. Its reputation as Sydney’s most expensive, and arguably best, restaurant meant that it would be a unique experience to behold for plebs like us. It’s one of those things you only need to experience once to see, and taste, what others have been talking about. And thank goodness for that, because my bank account couldn’t take much more than one visit to Tet’s.

The day arrived last Saturday. After catching Shanghai Knights at the George St Hoyts (mediocre movie, best part was the outtakes at the end), we walked down to Tetsuya’s, which is directly behind the cinemas on Kent Street. It doesn’t look like a restaurant from the outside. From the street, you’re confronted with a sliding mechanical metal gate which leads through a small 5-space carpark ($20 parking) down to what looks like a security outpost manned by two burly guards in suits. The restaurant itself looks nothing like a restaurant, but would easily be misconstrued for some rich person’s house. By a case of contagious forgetfulness, no one could remember whether our booking was for 7 or 7.30pm, so at 6.30pm, we stood at the gateway debating whether to go in. The security guards opened the gate for us. We stood there for a while, motionless, still deciding what to do. They shut it again. We finally made up our minds and got them to open the gate for us again. After similar confusion with the booking time, Pro eventually arrived at 7.15pm. It’s a set degustation menu (apparently there are two variants of the menu, and which one you get depends upon which room you are seated in), so without further delay, dinner was served.

On the inside of Tet’s is a soothing mix of modern decor blended with a Japanese influence (not unlike the food). Abstract arty sculptures adorn pedestals, and even the male and female icons on the washroom doors evoked dinner table conversation. At 7pm the place was virtually empty, but there was a full house by 8pm.

The bread rolls were ordinary dinner rolls, but the butter for them was laced with parmesan and truffles. The menu contained 8 savoury courses, 4 sweet courses and 2 side dishes, totalling 12 courses. Servings were bite-sized, but by the end we were all extremely full. The meal was balanced, with most dishes being evaluated as “peculiar, but rather nice tasting”. I found it more pleasing than Rockpool, which tended to have a more strong and vibrant taste.

Hard to say what the highlight of the meal was, but Tetsuya’s signature dish, the ocean trout would’ve come close. The apple sorbet was sublime, as was the scallop and foie gras which just melted in the mouth. The taster dish with five servings (gazpacho, tuna, kingfish, venison and marron) was a palatable journey in itself. I don’t think I’ve described a meal like this before, and I feel like a pretentious tit for doing so, but it was quite exquisite. Combining all this with some terrific company, and it made for a terrific night.

The service was decent, though not perfect. For the first couple hours of the night, the waiter responsible for topping up our glasses seemed to be tripped up on speed because he’d liberally splatter a trail of water onto the table from one glass to another everytime, in his eagerness to move on to the next table. We requested a copy of the menu, but we had to remind them a second time to get it. Nonetheless, staff were generally attentive, and the rate at which courses arrived was well paced – enough time to digest and discuss, while not too much time so that we were looking around wondering if they’d noticed our plates had been empty for the last half hour.

It was five hours later, at about a quarter to midnight, when we eventually stumbled out of the restaurant and back into the real world, more than thoroughly satisfied. The standard meal is $170pp, with an extra $7 for the oysters, which were a special optional addition to the dinner on the night. Water is charged at $7pp, and we got a “cheap” bottle of wine (prices are double that of what you would pay outside). Add tip. The total damage was $210 per person.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Go there on a special occasion, just to experience it once. (Because really, at that price you’re not there just for the food, but for the whole shebang.)

Menu

Oysters (from Bermagui and South of Hobart)

Caviar & Snow Egg Sandwich
Beetroot & Blood Orange Sandwich

Gazpacho with Spiced Tomato Sorbet
Tartare of Tuna with Goat Curd & Wasabi
Marinated Fillet of Kingfish with Orange & Soy Jelly
Tataki of Venison with Rosemary & Honey
West Australia Marron Salad with Asparagus

Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout Loin with Kombu, Celery & Daikon

Seasonal Green Salad

Lobster Ravioli with Shellfish Vinaigrette

Carpaccio of Scallop with Foie Gras & Lime

Twice-cooked De-boned Spatchcock with Shitake Mushrooms & Citrus Jus

Selection of Cheese & Fruit

Nashi Pear

Sorbet of Granny Smith Apple with Sauternes Jelly

Hazelnut Soup with Chocolate & Hazelnut Sorbet

Mocha Floating Island with Lemon Scented Anglaise

Coffee or Tea & Petit Four

2
May 03
Fri

Shameless Plug: Yen Industries

Yen Industries has cheap hardware. Really cheap hardware. And I’m not saying that because I made the site and have a vested interest in the business :). (The site is new and probably still has bugs. A lot of the items are currently quite messily labelled, but that’s not my fault, I don’t provide the content. I’m sure it will improve in time though.) If you want to negotiate a better deal on something, just drop me an e-mail, tell me you came from this site, and I’ll see what I can do. If you need OCZ or Corsair RAM, you’ll honestly be hard pressed to find cheaper prices.

(Probably not of much interest to non-Aussies.)

  9:40pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Computing  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
1
May 03
Thu

The Fund

Relatively poor showing tonight, only $30. Brings FDF total to $200.

Keyboard Words

Shish dropped me an e-mail. He’s working on a program to solve Target in the SMH. (With a given set of 9 letters, you must form as many 4+ letter words as possible. The word must contain a specific letter in the set, which is given.) In the process, he decided to divert a little and find out the longest words which can be typed with the left hand (commonly held to be stewardesses), right hand, and alternate hands (commonly held to be skepticisms). A largish dictionary file was used, so some of the words are likely to be quite obscure (findable only in the full Oxford dictionary, for example).

Results were:
Left hand (12): desegregated, desegregates, extravasated, extravasates, reabstracted, resegregated, resegregates, reverberated, reverberates, stewardesses, watercresses
Right hand (8): hokypoky, homonymy, hypopyon, illinium, lollipop, lollypop, millimho, milliohm, monopoly, nonunion, polonium, unholily
Alternate hands (13): neurotoxicity. Also (12): authenticity; (11) enchantment, skepticisms, ototoxicity, proficiency



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