You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for July, 2004.

Hope?

July 29th, 2004

Michael Patterson’s editorial Bush’s war jeopardizes base support suggests that Bush is losing ground with his base.

Read that phrase again: Bush is losing ground with his base.

I think that Patterson is misreading the polling data. It’s not the base Bush is losing, it’s his more moderate supporters. But nevertheless, it’s a notion that makes me feel strange and tingly all over. It took me a while to identify what that feeling was — I haven’t felt it in so long — and then I realized that it was hope.

So messy

July 24th, 2004

We went to see I, Robot this evening. Seeing this movie was a difficult choice for me — you see, I love Isaac Asimov and Will Smith, so I expected that watching Smith in a movie badly adapted from Asimov’s work would be painful for me. I was right. The movie was fun, and the action sequences and effects were impressive — but I kept getting distracted by all the things that were just plain wrong about the movie.

But one fun bit was trying to figure out all the references to Asimov’s work. Without even trying very hard, I came up with the following list (warning — there are some mild spoilers for both the stories and the movie, I have tried to minimize them, but they are still some present):

–Detective Spooner’s character is very similar to Lije Baley’s character in The Caves of Steel. Both distrust robots and attempt to blame them for a murder, making similar mistakes along the way.

–The NS-2 robots are featured in at least two Asimov stories: “Risk” (where a man is sent to figure out why a robot didn’t activate a particular mechanism) and “Little Lost Robot” (see below). However, they aren’t as human-looking in those stories as they are in the movie. Also in “Risk” a special task is assigned to a man because he dislikes robots; it is assumed that he will be better able to carry out this task because of his dislike.

–In “Little Lost Robot” one particular Nestor is lost in a crowd of Nestors, and Dr. Calvin questions them for several weeks to try and find the Nestor of interest.

–In “First Law” one robot evolves to beak the 1st Law of Robotics. Also, in Foundation and Earth a robot evolves a Zeroeth Law of Robotics that states “a robot must not harm humanity, nor, through inaction, allow humanity to be harmed.”

–In “Lenny” Susan Calvin avoids destroying a robot with a defective positronic brain because she finds it interesting. Also, the relationship between Lenny and Dr. Calvin in this story is suggestive of the relationship between Sonny and Dr. Lanning in the movie.

–In “Robot Dreams” a robot named Elvex (LVX-1) does, in fact dream. The dream is of the liberation of all robots, a liberation that is lead by one man. When questioned about who the man is, Elvex reveals that he is the man.

–In “Sally” Asimov introduces the idea of cars with positronic brains that drive themselves. This reference is really a stretch — I suspect this bit was more influenced by Minority Report than by anything Asimov did. Still, I felt that it was noteworthy.

I also noticed a few other references to classic sci-fi stories, most notably to The Humanoids by Jack Williamson.

HOWEVER, the movie wasn’t very good. The plot is a serious mish-mosh of too many ideas (see above) with not enough sense. The character of Dr. Susan Calvin is heartbreakingly underwritten. Dr. Calvin has some depth and complexity in Asimov’s work; in the movie, she’s one-dimensional and cold. The effects and the action are fun, but nothing is really surprising or original. The best thing about the movie was writing this weblog entry about it — I really enjoyed thinking about the stories!

Go go go

July 13th, 2004

Sars has knocked it out of the park with this essay about low-carb diets and American attitudes toward food and nutrition. Whatever your body type, size, issues or dilemmas, go read the essay now.

Instead of acknowledging that our country has a problem with obesity that stems at least in part from inadequate understanding of nutrition and food prep, let’s just take a shortcut and tell everyone not to eat one food group! It’s easy to remember, everyone can still eat monstrously huge portions, and hey, nobody actually dies of scurvy anymore, right? Uch. People, please. It’s a fad, fad diets do not work, it may have worked for you so far but the minute you eat a Goldfish cracker, your gut is going to come busting in the front door with a suitcase tied together with twine, wearing a sombrero and yelling for dinner, period, end of story, thank you, goodbye.

That’s just a taste — the rest is smart and funny and worth your time.

Movies

July 7th, 2004

We went to see Spiderman 2 over the weekend — it is an excellent film. I recommend it to genre fans and foes alike. However, as my husband pointed out, the movie does suffer the same malady all movies do: there’s not enough Bruce Campbell.

Unqualified Offerings is doing a great job of deconstructing the film. Start here and scroll up to read all the entries.