The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

George Lucus, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan Brainstorming Indy

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Indiana Jones

While vacationing in Hawaii Lucus, Spielberg and Kasdan are all brainstorming ideas for what would become Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. The entire transcript is available as a PDF - all glorious 90 pages.

Here is a fascinating conversation as the three flesh out Indy’s character:

Lucas - Now, several aspects that we’ve discussed before: The image of him which is the strongest image is the “Treasure Of Sierra Madre” outfit, which is the khaki pants, he’s got the leather jacket, that sort of felt hat, and the pistol and holster with a World War One sort of flap over it. He’s going into the jungle carrying his gun. The other thing we’ve added to him, which may be fun, is a bull whip. That’s really his trade mark. That’s really what he’s good at. He has a pistol, and he’s probably very good at that, but at the same time he happens to be very good with a bull whip. It’s really more of a hobby than anything else. Maybe he came from Montana, someplace, and he… There are freaks who love bull whips. They just do it all the time. It’s a device that hasn’t been used in a long time.

Spielberg - You can knock somebody’s belt off and the guys pants fall down.

Lucas - You can swing over things, you can…there are so many things you can do with it. I thought he carried it rolled up. It’s like a Samurai sword. He carries it back there and you don’t even notice it. That way it’s not in the way or anything. It’s just there whenever he wants it.

Spielberg - At some point in the movie he must use it to get a girl back who’s walking out of the room. Wrap her up and she twirls as he pulls her back. She spins into his arms. You have to use it for more things than just saving himself.

Lucas - We’ll have to work that part out. In a way it’s important that it be a dangerous weapon. It looks sort of like a snake that’s coiled up behind him, and any time it strikes it’s a real threat.

Kasdan - Except there has to be that moment when he’s alone with a can of beer and he just whips it to him.

Patrick Radden Keefe at the New Yorker read through the whole thing and has a wonderful write up:

Over the intervening decades of enormous wealth and success, both Lucas and Spielberg have carefully tended their public images, so there is a voyeuristic thrill to seeing them converse in so unguarded a manner. As the screenwriters Craig Mazin and John August pointed out recently on the Scriptnotes podcast, one delight of reading the transcript is watching Spielberg throw out bad ideas, and then noting how Lucas gently shuts him down. Spielberg, who had sought to direct a Bond movie-and, astonishingly, been rejected-thought that their hero should be an avid gambler. Lucas replied that perhaps they shouldn’t overload him with attributes. (Lucas himself had briefly entertained, then mercifully set aside, the notion that his archaeologist might also be a practitioner of kung fu.) There’s a good reason we seldom get to spy on these conversations: really good spitballing, like improv comedy, requires a high degree of social disinhibition. So the writers’ room, like a therapist’s office, must remain inviolable.

It’s fascinating to read genius at work.

Amazon Kills DPReview

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DPreview will be shutting down an April 10th after 25 years of amazing content and service to the photo community. Devin Coldewey, writing at TechCrunch:

The team’s knowledge, acumen and extensive objective testing contributed to reviews that famously reached near-comical lengths at times, but that was because shortcuts simply were not taken: You could be sure that even minor models were getting not just a fair shake, but the same treatment a flagship model received. Its back catalog of camera reviews and specs is an incredible resource that I have consulted hundreds of times. […]

Somehow Amazon never really found a way to capitalize on this one-of-a-kind asset, and DPReview has carried on over the years more or less untouched, to the point where it seems possible its parent company forgot they owned them. It’s hard not to see the opportunities that present themselves when you own one of the world’s leading expert voices on a major category, but perhaps unsurprisingly, no one thought to invest in and integrate DPReview closely with Amazon’s other properties. It isn’t the first time the left hand and right hand have been incommunicado at that company.

What really upsets me is that Amazon will not be providing an archive of the site. They can easily serve up a static site on S3 that would cost virtually nothing to Amazon.

This Generation's Challenge

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Pulitzer prize winning biographer, presidential historian John Meacham on the pending indictment of former Presidend Donald Trump:

It is incumbent on us to tell a different story. To tell the story than in fact, the constitution matters. The rule of law matters.


This is gong to sound bit grand, but I believe firmly that this generation will be judged our success or failure at standing up to totalitarian impulse in the United States.

The Greatest Generation rose up and faced that challenge on the war torn fields of Europe. Our generation will have to face it within our own country – hopefully through our legal system.

Students Are Turning Away From College

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University of

Douglas Belkin reporting for the Wall Street Journal

Family conversations like the one in Ms. Cruz’s living room are bubbling up around the country as high-school seniors recalibrate their options after the pandemic prompted a historic disengagement from school. The result has been the acceleration of a shift away from the nation’s half-century “college-for-all” model toward a choice of either college or vocational programs—including apprenticeships.

Today, colleges and universities enroll about 15 million undergraduate students, while companies employ about 800,000 apprentices. In the past decade, college enrollment has declined by about 15%, while the number of apprentices has increased by more than 50%, according to federal data and Robert Lerman, a labor economist at the Urban Institute and co-founder of Apprenticeships for America.

Apprenticeship programs are increasing in both number and variety. About 40% are now outside of construction trades, where most have traditionally been, Dr. Lerman said. Programs are expanding into white-collar industries such as banking, cybersecurity and consulting at companies including McDonald’s Corp. , Accenture PLC and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

This is definitely a step in the right direction - there are many jobs that really don’t require a college degree. Most of these can be done by learning on the job. However, there is a danger to this trend. Many young people could be left ill prepared with the fundamental knowledge (mathematics, communications skills, history) needed to progress in their careers. Of course this is what corporations want - a captive workforce that is easy to retain and easily controlled.

I would say for those students who enter college with a clear vision of a profession with realistic ROI on the 4 years and the money spent - college is still the best option. If you are going to college to “find yourself” or as a 4 year right of passage, maybe an internship is the right path for you. You don’t need to go to college to go on drinking binges and all night parties.

The way I look at it - if the path of study you are going to isn’t STEM based or does not require a license of some kind, you might want to consider the apprenticeship path.

Blackberry - Official Trailer

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A fictional story of the rise and fall of Reasearch in Motion (RIM). We all know how it ends - the enitre cell phone industry simutaneously hit an ice berg called the iPhone. Still, it should make a compelling story of how it all went down.

Age Verify Kids Online, but Not at Meat Processing Plants

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In an update to yesterday’s story about new labor laws, the state of Arkansas is requiring age verification for minors to access materials that are considered harmful. Okay, I can probably get behind that one. But at the same time Arkansas’s governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed into law a labor bill to remove age verification for those under 16.

Mike Masnick puts it best:

Too young to see a nipple, but never too young to be put to labor cleaning a meatpacking plant where you can have your own skin burned and blistered.

The Republican way.

Great Art Explained:A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

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James Payne narrates a series of films where he looks at great and important works of art. The latest episode is about the pointillist masterpiece by Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.

The lack of narrative means we really should look to the artist’s obsession with form, technique and theory — which is practically all he wrote about — and not to meaning or subject matter - which he didn’t write about at all. The painting is really his manifesto. His protagonists don’t have faces or body language, neither a history nor individuality. They are reduced to a hat, a corset, or a pet. They are just characters in his frieze. They exist only to give perfect balance to the composition.

Some paintings are designed for the viewer to “empathise with” but Seurat keeps us at arm’s length. We are not invited to “participate” in the promenade, and their psychological distance is clear. Both with their neighbors, and with us. It was ancient art that Seurat looked to — of Egypt and Greece. He once said that he “wanted to make modern people move about as they do on the Parthenon Frieze”, and placed them on canvases organized by harmonies of colour. It is what makes the painting so intriguing.

Highly recomend watching his excellent YouTube channel.

States Using 14 Year Olds to Fill Labor Shortage

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child labor

Combined with an aging population and workers generally deciding that they want better compensation/benefits for their work, the US is facing a labor shortage. Under sane capitalist systems, business would be forced to increase compensation and/or work conditions to attract employees. Leave it to the Republican party to present a novel idea - have kids as young as 14 increase the labor pool.

I have worked my whole life - and I am all for kids taking on jobs. It teaches hard work, discipline, the value of money. All good things. But it is important to recognize that these aren’t the reasons that the Republicans are pushing for these new regulations. It simply to line the pockets of their wealthy donor class.

It is bad enough that we are forcing a young children back to factories, but it is really tragic that the laws are striping worker protections and protecting the employers from liabilities at the expense of child safety.

As Jason Lalljee reporting for the Insider:

The laws take aim at the number of hours that children are allowed to work and protect employers from liabilities due to sickness or accidents. In the case of the latter, those employer protections dovetail with the kind of dangerous industries the bills are looking to prop up: construction in Minnesota, and meatpacking plants in Iowa. The bills come as efforts to expand legal working ages in other states have ramped up recently, and as the US has seen an increase in child labor violations since 2015.

These aren’t the mall/retail jobs or the local small business that many of us worked growing up. These are jobs that are dangerous and require physical labor - leaving little time / energy for what kids should be doing - getting educated and learning the social skills that are required to become a productive member of society.

Besides there is an obvious solution to the current shortage that has proven to be quite effective to fill labor gaps in the past. And the Labor Board research bears it out:

The results indicate that higher wages along with additional non-wage benefits would have expanded the labor supply,

Should be obvious, but the business class in pursuit of the almighty dollar have decided they would rather hire kids then pay a living wage to adults.

From being able to support a family with only the husband salary, to barely supporting it even with two full time salaries, all the way back to child labor. The transformation back into feudalism is nearly complete. Hope you’re happy with the freedom to develop your slave career.

To the parents who are about to send their kids to the factories and slaughter houses, you might want to read The Jungle by Upton Sinclaire.

New Manhattan

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New Manhattan

Jason Barr, a professor at Rutgers, has a plan to expand NYC by building an entirely new borough of the city – “New Manhattan” – by reclaiming 1,760 acres of the surrounding rivers and ocean.

The point is that while such a plan might cost maybe $100 billion to build, the market value of the new buildings can be worth an order of magnitude more by virtue of the new housing, new offices, new retail, new hotels, new museums, new schools, etc.

Now that’s an ambitious proposal - it would be an amazing project if this gets funded.

Archive of Zork Maps

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Zork Map

It is pitch black, you are likely to be eaten by a grue.

I spent the entire summer of 1985 exploring the Zork I: The Great Under Ground Empire on the C64 that my parents had purchased from one of my neighbors. I can’t tell you how many nights were spent getting eaten by Grues and getting mugged by that pesky thief.

Needless to say I had a messy graph paper based map that I had created - although they looked nothing like these. Ah, the good old days!

Motion for a Summary Judgment Against Fox “News”

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Dominion Voting Systems, seeking motion for a summary judgment against Fox “News”:

Finally. Fox has conceded what it knew all along. The charges Fox broadcast against Dominion are false. Fox does not spend a word of its brief arguing the truth of any accused statement. Fox has produced no evidence — none, zero — supporting those lies. This concession should come as no surprise. Discovery into Fox has proven that from the top of the organization to the bottom, Fox always knew the absurdity of the Dominion “stolen election” story. Now, having failed to put in any evidence to the contrary (because no such evidence exists), Fox has conceded the falsity of the Dominion allegations it broadcast.

That concession is no small thing. Thirty percent or more of Americans still believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. The heart of that lie remains the false conspiracy theory that Fox legitimized and mainstreamed starting on November 8 — that Dominion stole the election, using secret algorithms in its software originally designed for a Venezuelan dictator. Because of these lies, Dominion now may be “one of the most demonized brands in the United States or the world.” Dominion employees still endure threats and harassment. So it matters that Fox in private ridiculed — and never believed — the lie. And it matters that Fox has now in this litigation conceded these allegations were false.


Fox seeks a First Amendment license to knowingly spread lies. Fox would have this Court create an absolute legal immunity for knowingly spreading false allegations — lies — for profit, regardless of how absurd the lies are, regardless how many people in the chain of command know the lies are false, and regardless how many people are hurt — so long as the false claims are “newsworthy.” Fox proffers a completely made-up “rule,” contrary to decades of jurisprudence since New York Times v. Sullivan. As Judge Nichols ruled in rejecting MyPillow’s analogous argument that the First Amendment provides “blanket protection” from defamation for statements about a “‘public debate in a public forum,’” “there is no such immunity. Instead, the First Amendment safeguards our ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,’ by limiting viable defamation claims to provably false statements made with actual malice.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if its granted with all of the evidence that has been out in the public.

Ukrainian Postage Stamp: FCK PTN

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Ukranian Postage Stamp says FCK PTN

From The Gaurdian:

The image draws inspiration from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, known to be a black belt in judo, and depicts a young judoka representing Ukraine knocking down a grown man.

The phrase “FCK PTN” in Cyrillic has been added to the lower left part of the new stamp.

And you can purchase your own stamp sheet directly from the Ukraine postal service here - they are shipping world wide! I have ordered mine it will be framed and placed on my office wall.

Republicans Lie - Why Are We Surprised?

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George Santos

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is the poster child for this epidemic in the Republican party. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), Rep. Andrew Ogles (R-Tenn.) are the newest members to be outed for their misrepresentation to voters.

Republicans are no longer just lying about the world around them — about climate change or vaccines or voter fraud — they’re increasingly lying about themselves.


When a party decides to peddle in lies and propaganda, they can expect liars and propagandists to fill their ranks. When the incentive to mislead voters is greater than any incentive to tell the truth, you wind up with a party of charlatans. In other word’s, today’s GOP.

2023 Tech Layoffs

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So you’ve all heard about the massive layoffs in the Tech industry right? Hopefully you are all reading this at work - some of you are quietly quitting, I bet :)  The reasons given are that times are tough and the economy is entering a recession phase. 

With the latest economic numbers this does not make any sense: Market is up over 10% YTD. Lowest unemployment rate in the last 50 years. Consumer demand is strong  (retail, travel, and luxury). The companies that laid off thousands of employees (Microsoft, Meta, Google, etc..) are all making profits.  Quite a few are making record profits. 

So what gives? Why are these companies laying off employees in what appears to be a random / unclear pattern? It really doesn’t matter regarding performance, seniority or group.  Reading LinkedIn posts it appears that 14 year old veterans of Google as well as new hires are being let go.  And let go in the most inhumane, insensitive ways.  You would think a company that proclaims to “Do No Evil” would know better. 

Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, answers this very question in an excellent interview by Melissa De Witt: 

Why are so many tech companies laying people off right now?

The tech industry layoffs are basically an instance of social contagion, in which companies imitate what others are doing. If you look for reasons for why companies do layoffs, the reason is that everybody else is doing it. Layoffs are the result of imitative behavior and are not particularly evidence-based.

I’ve had people say to me that they know layoffs are harmful to company well-being, let alone the well-being of employees, and don’t accomplish much, but everybody is doing layoffs and their board is asking why they aren’t doing layoffs also.

Do you think layoffs in tech are some indication of a tech bubble bursting or the company preparing for a recession?

Could there be a tech recession? Yes. Was there a bubble in valuations? Absolutely. Did Meta overhire? Probably. But is that why they are laying people off? Of course not. Meta has plenty of money. These companies are all making money. They are doing it because other companies are doing it.

Bingo.  In the current business environment, it’s fashionable to dismiss employees.  I can’t help to think 6-12 months from now you are going to see a hiring frenzy by these same companies.  Except this time, future candidates will think twice about drinking the kool-aid.  And no amount of fancy slogans or advertisement will change that.

Which begs the question: Why are CEOs who openly claim responsibility are not facing any accountability?

The cuts will affect jobs globally and across the entire company, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told employees in an email on Friday, writing that he takes “full responsibility for the decisions that led us here.

There is no way you can convince me that any CEO who is worth his job would allow 12000+ people that are not needed to be hired.  That to me is an admission that the CEO neglected his fiscal management duties. 

Copycat Layoffs

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girl against bull

Isabel Fattal in an excellent article called ‘Contagion’ for The Atlantic:

Some argue that, as they wait out this intermission, CEOs are copying one another—laying off workers not simply as an unavoidable consequence of the changing economy, but because everybody else is doing it. “Chief executives are normal people who navigate uncertainty by copying behavior,” Derek writes. He cites the business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, who told Stanford News: “Was there a bubble in valuations? Absolutely … Did Meta overhire? Probably. But is that why they are laying people off? Of course not … These companies are all making money. They are doing it because other companies are doing it.”

This is a trend, a fad, a CEO fashion statement.  You are laying of 10,000, i see you and raise you to 12,000.  Because their investors are asking - “hey all the tech companies are laying off, why aren’t you?"  And they are - Google’s stock went up 5% after layoff of 12,000 employees.

Just Wait. In about 6-9 months they’ll be back on a hiring spree that was even bigger then before - and you know what? All of us tech workers who had chip on our shoulders, well that’s going to grow to a gigantic boulder. 

Personally, I can’t wait.  I am hearing it in the circles already.  Tech people are pissed - the media (which is controlled by the corporations anyways) are dumping article after article of the few who ride the wave, get lucky and are rewarded for being lazy and a drain on the business.  It makes good reading, and infuriates everyone in other industries.  And I don’t blame them - but most people in the tech industry work insane hours, are asked to do crazy things with limited budgets/time frames and are evaluated by the most sophisticated and toughest systems for employee evals.  

Sure tech workers get great perks, benefits and pay.  You know what - you too can join the party.  But you need the discipline to stay on top of the tech sector, work grueling hours, risk your mental sanity and at the end of it all have people telling you that you are spoiled children who need to be sent back to their rooms for a time out.  Shunned as a geek by the cool kids.  So yea.  Go ahead signup.  I dare you. 

See I told you that chip on the shoulder was going to get a lot bigger. 

Did you really think those 10,000-12,000 tech people were just sitting around sipping latte’s and playing video games all day? The hiring frenzy will ensue shortly, and with much greater frenzy.  Engineers are process people with excellent memory who thrive on data and the historical analysis of it.  You think they are going to forget how they were treated?

When those offers start flowing again, those crazy compensations will be back. As the old saying goes - “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”