Saturday, August 30, 2008

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of The Dark Knight a week after watching it is the great role played by Heath Ledger. The scene where he talks about his drunk father had me involuntarily touching my face, in anticipation of the gore that mercifully remains off-camera. All in all, a great villain. Pity we won't get to see him again.

Batman, in contrast, is not so great. He is overshadowed in so many scenes; can't blame him really, when you have folks like Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman as co-stars (not to mention The Joker).

The movie may be topical for an American audience, in that it explores things like how too much focus on security could lead to fascism, what people are willing to sacrifice for their personal safety [*], and so on, but these things are of not much interest to somebody who is just looking for a good action movie.

One thing that strained the credibility a bit was the power wielded by the Joker, and how he gets access to all the resources that he commands. Would have been easier to believe if he were a traditional comic book villain with superpowers or a super-weapon.

Oh, I've mentioned this before, but what's with these superhero movies where people are not able to put two and two together and figure out that the caped crusader bears a more than passing resemblance (mask notwithstanding) to the well-known local billionaire?

[*] The denouement of the ferry scene, while inducing the intended swelling of hearts in the audience, seemed a trifle contrived. Maybe it's just the cynic in me.

P.S. The high-tech kidnap scene in Hong Kong would have looked more natural in a Bond movie or in an MI sequel, IMO.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I received this in an email from Citibank (italics mine):
Dear Customer,

When did you last abandon the boardroom in pursuit of play? Forsaken corporate schedules in favor of a holiday itinerary? Swapped your starched suit for a glowing tan?
Dear Marketroid, if you click on the 'Profile' link on the top right hand corner of this page, you will see my picture. Please note that I am a dark-skinned Indian, and that a 'glowing tan' is the last fricken thing on my mind. Considering the fact that the email was sent from '', you guys will have to either a) stop mindlessly using copy from your international marketing *ahem* collateral or b) kindly remind your copywriters that, while they are enamoured with all things western, it wouldn't hurt them to reflect once in a while on the fact that they are in India, where people buy Fair and Lovely, not Coppertone.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lisp or Smalltalk?

I have been thinking about doing all my side projects in Lisp -- due in no small measure to taking the time to finally read Practical Common Lisp cover to cover -- and have been playing around with the various Lisp environments and libraries. Impressions:
  1. Programming in Lisp makes one feel good (I know, this is about as touchy-feely as you can get). The constant effort to abstract things away, looking for ways to automate repetitive code fragments, and so on brings with it a real sense of progress (at least from a programming perspective).

  2. Though Lisp shares the concept of an image with Smalltalk, this is not as readily apparent and IMHO as powerful as Smalltalk; for example, I need to load packages through startup files each time I start the environment.

  3. The Lisp environments are not as friendly as the Smalltalk IDEs where everything hangs together, so to speak.

  4. Library support also seems more cohesive in Smalltalk. asdf-install does provide a way to pull packages easily, but there is no way to see what packages are currently installed in the image, what *are* the 'right' packages to install, etc. Not to mention the need to load packages every time using the startup file.

  5. File-based development seems like a regressive step after programming in Smalltalk. For one thing, I don't know if there is an easier way to load the code from all my files than calling load every time I start the environment.

  6. I have a small homegrown wiki application running in VisualWorks which I wanted to see if I could redo in Lisp. After googling a bit and searching the Common Lisp web sites, two frameworks seemed worth pursuing: WebActions (modelled on Struts) and Weblocks (a Seaside-like continuations-based framework). Weblocks seems the more promising, no doubt owing to the advantages of using continuations.
From a programming perspective, I guess it does not really matter whether I choose Lisp or Smalltalk (unless I run into a situation where the use of macros is the only way to get something done), but Smalltalk does score from a convenience perspective. I think I'll stick with ST.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Joke of the day

From a Slashdot comment:
Where did you get your php info? foreach was introduced in PHP4...
I get mine from phpinfo();

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Can you spell 'frame-up'?

From an article in The Hindu about Aafia Siddiqui:
...Ms Siddiqui was arrested by Afghan police in July along with her son — the date is unclear — after they found them loitering outside the compound of the Governor’s house in Ghazni. They questioned her, and on suspicion, checked her bag, in which they allegedly found “suspicious” liquids in glass containers, a bomb-making manual, and some material on New York and its landmarks. She was handed over to the U.S. authorities on July 17.

On July 18 , Ms Siddiqui is said to have fired at American soldiers who were present at the Afghan facility where she was being held, with a rifle that one of the soldiers had left lying around. A soldier fired back, wounding her. Charged in a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York with one count of attempting to kill U.S. officers and employees and one count of assaulting U.S. officers and employees