Another Link Dump

I try not to make a habit of just throwing up a bunch of links, but when time grows short, it's difficult to give certain subjects the thought and attention they deserve. I've started a couple of posts, but they're both turning out to be monsters. One is a review of Neal Stephenson's latest novel, Anathem, which I finished this week and have been thinking about a lot. It might take me a bit to sort through it all. The other is a discussion of ratings systems for movies - a subject that seems relatively simple at first, but which grew more complicated the more I thought about it. Unfortunately, I was traveling for most of this weekend, so I didn't have much time to devote to either of these ideas... and this week promises to be busy as well. In the mean time, here are a few things I've run across lately that are worth watching or reading:
  • The Website is Down: This is a hysterical 10 minute video that featues a bunch of supposedly true stories from tech support hell. Supposedly a sequel is in the works, but this one is pretty funny in itself.
  • The Last Lecture: Ostensibly a talk about achieving your childhood dreams, this talk wound up being much more (the childhood dreams angle is what he'd call a "head fake"). It's actually quite heartbreaking when I think about it. The talk is given by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who specialized in Virtual Reality. He was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer about a year before he gave this talk, but during the presentation, he is extremely upbeat and humorous, choosing instead to focus on his message rather than his medical situation. He died this past summer, which is why watching this video now is a bit heartbreaking. It's a long video, but it's well worth a watch.
  • Authors @ Google: Neal Stephenson: While promoting Anathem, Neal Stephenson stopped off at Google for a Q&A that turns out to be quite interesting (as usual)... Another long video, but interesting if you're a Stephenson fan.
  • The Dukes: A new indie heist movie? Why have I not heard of this until now? It sounds great though... Consider this near the top of the list I posted about the holiday movie season. Hopefully, I'll find some time to go see it this week...
  • Crosstalk: The state of horror cinema: Noel Murray and Scott Tobias of the Onion A.V. Club discuss the state of horror cinema as of October 2006. Things haven't changed too much, but I've been thinking a bit about the state of modern American horror films (another potential post that I haven't spent enough time thinking about and researching), so I found this discussion interesting.
So there's at least two and a half hours of compelling video content there as well as some light reading. Light posting will probably continue through Wednesday's post (which I believe will be a recap of a ridiculous discussion I had with my friend Roy at a discussion board - let's just say it involves aliens and breakdancing)... Next Sunday's post may be a bit light as well, but we'll see. That's all for now.