UniquelyGeneric's recent activity

  1. Comment on Movie Monday Free Talk in ~movies

    UniquelyGeneric
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    There's been quite some time since the last Movie Monday discussion, so here's a few unrelated movies I've seen that I felt like putting out there for those interested: Do the Right Thing (1989) -...

    There's been quite some time since the last Movie Monday discussion, so here's a few unrelated movies I've seen that I felt like putting out there for those interested:

    • Do the Right Thing (1989) - written by Spike Lee, this movie starts off with seemingly slice-of-life character vignettes in Brooklyn on a hot summer day, but the tension between characters intensifies over time, highlighting the racial issues that the US has seemingly not been able to overcome nearly 30 years later. The climax of the movie seems like something we could have seen at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, and made all the more real/tangible by initially introducing characters with human flaws at the beginning.
    • Y Tu Mamá También (2001) - from the same director as Roma, this movie is marketed as a sex-comedy, but really has a more indie spirit to it. The main characters are a pair of teenage boys who are sex-obsessed, and a woman who gets them to take a road trip. While it certainly has some more lighthearted elements, it's not a superficial comedy about sex. Indeed, it has a more authentic aura around the characters, where it feels less like acting, and more like two friends who have known each other their whole lives.
    • Battleship Potemkin (1925) - Heralded as one of the greatest films of all time during its release, this movie made landmark achievements in filming techniques and is still visually stunning even today. Pioneering early styles of propaganda, the film has been banned in many Western countries at some point in time, including the US (the plot centers around the historical account of a mutiny on a Russian navy ship).
    • The Kid With a Bike (2011) - For once, a French film that doesn't focus on existentialism and sex. Jokes aside, it's about a young semi-orphaned boy who develops a relationship with a hairdresser who attempts to provide some level of stability in his formative years. Not quite a coming of age film, the movie instead focuses on compassion and care for others despite familial relations, and the unending desire for acceptance.
    • The End of the Tour (2015) - A reporter follows David Foster Wallace during his book tour of Infinite Jest. In doing so, he gets to see a little bit of the behind the scenes views of the author's day to day, sprinkled with his musings on life. Jason Segel is a great fit for the role and captures a melancholic everyman in a very natural way.
    • Raising Arizona (1987) - The Coen brother's first, and probably least serious, movie. It's entertaining to see Nic Cage in a goofy role that isn't consumed by memes at this point. While not the most refined of the Coen brothers, it certainly still has their style baked in throughout.
    • Cinema Paradiso (1988) - An Italian filmmaker recalls his childhood friend, a projectionist, who gave him a love of film. The movie captures a long gone time of censorship and difficulties using film as a medium. It's a heartwarming tale that shows that even simpler times were not immune to their own unique problems.
    • Midnight Cowboy (1969) - Made famous for the improvised line "I'm walkin' here!", this movie is a common tale of a bright eyed youngblood travelling to NYC to try to make it big. In this story however, the youngblood was intending to become a hustler, but instead gets chewed up by the city and exposed to its gritty underbelly. The relationship with Dustin Hoffman is the real magic of the movie, teetering from friend and foe throughout.
    • The Tribe (2014) - Wow, what a unique film. A new take on a silent film, the movie does have audio, but no words are spoken as nearly all characters are deaf and communicate only in sign language. A boy tries to fit in to a new boarding school where he is an outsider to "the tribe" of boys who tend to be the troublemakers around town. While amazing for a foreign film to engage an audience so well without having a single line of spoken dialogue, it's grip does not let go as it takes you into Eastern bloc depression and dark realities.

    Anyways, I've got plenty more, but those are the most recent ones I can come up with for now without making this entire post a massive list.

    3 votes
  2. Movie Monday Free Talk

    Warning: this post may contain spoilers

    We haven't had one of these in a while, and given the amount of time people are spending indoors, I figured it might be good to share some movie recommendations.

    I will post my own comment regarding some movies I've seen recently, but I wanted to also share some quarantine / pandemic movies that might be interesting given the strange times we find ourselves in. Warning: they are probably not a great way to take your mind off things, if that's what you are searching for, hence why I'm separating them from my other comment.

    • Contagion (2011) - Probably one of the more relevant movies, and certainly on people's minds. It's an interesting worst case what-if scenario, and actually tackles some of the political struggle with organizing around a pandemic.
    • Perfect Sense (2011) - Overshadowed by Contagion, which is arguably the better movie, but I liked the premise of this one: a disease that slowly takes away your 5 senses, one at a time. I didn't like the ending, but for a thought experiment it captured my attention. It threw in a love plot line which may or may not have been necessary when the reaction was more interesting, but it does help provide a ground floor experience of a more terrifying epidemic.
    • It's a Disaster (2012) - I have somehow managed to miss watching this movie, despite it being on my watch list for some time. A comedy, which may come in use in this trying time, it centers around a group of friends who invariably become part of a self-quarantine at their house.
    • Rear Window (1954) - A Hitchcock classic. Jimmy Stewart is confined to his NYC apartment due to a leg injury, and has all the time in the world to spy on his neighbors, where he becomes obsessive over a potential domestic dispute between a couple across the way.
    • The Lighthouse (2019) - Superb acting by Willem Dafoe. Two men, a seaman fresh to the trade and a seasoned veteran, are servicing the sole lighthouse on a tiny island as part of a contract. They are forced to stay longer than either imagined due to a storm passing through them. They get at their wits end with each other and their sanity slowly falls apart. Beautifully shot in black and white and with authentic vernacular, it really transports you to a different time period.
    5 votes
  3. Comment on Trump has signed a $2,000,000,000,000 stimulus bill, along with many other leaders in their respective nations in ~finance

    UniquelyGeneric
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    This statement only holds true as long as the economy is in the gutter. There will indeed be something to recover the economy, whether it be military/industrial production (à la WWII defense...

    No. There is nothing that will save the economy

    This statement only holds true as long as the economy is in the gutter. There will indeed be something to recover the economy, whether it be military/industrial production (à la WWII defense post-depression) or (imho) legitimate innovation and production of value. There's too much inertia for the economy to just throw its arms up in the air and give up. The current downturn is the assumption that everyone else is going to lay low while the world turns around them...we've yet to see the world where stocks turn upside down in a panic. That being said, the timeline to recovery is unknown, and I am willing to bet it's over a year from now.

    the US economy will falter

    I think this is basically guaranteed at this point. The question yet unanswered is how long, which I don't believe there is a single expert opinion to rely on at the moment. My guess/assumption/preparedness is that in July we will see an element of "normalcy" but it will cause an infection uptick that causes Quarantine 2: Electric Chat Boogaloo.

    Will jobs shift? Of course. Will people go back to normal? We live in the wake of the Black Plague, H1N1, HIV, etc...I think this will be temporary as well (but that shouldn't be comforting). It's the actions we take now that define us.

    From what I can predict, most countries will employ a period of isolationism, which will cause them to realize their reliance on foreign supplies is unsustainable in times of need (I doubt the US will come to the same conclusion). Whether this leads to an increase in national/social industrialization of essential services is yet to be seen (the US seems dead-set on private healthcare), but an economic contraction will force every economy to make sure it's counting what matters.

    3 votes
  4. Comment on Trump has signed a $2,000,000,000,000 stimulus bill, along with many other leaders in their respective nations in ~finance

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I don't think anyone can claim to be an expert in predicting the future at this point, so everyone's opinions are somewhat valid (perhaps to our collective chagrin when Trump claims we'll be over...

    I don't think anyone can claim to be an expert in predicting the future at this point, so everyone's opinions are somewhat valid (perhaps to our collective chagrin when Trump claims we'll be over this in a matter of weeks).

    That being said, I think Canada had a better plan to provide monthly payments, which will be much more important in the later months of the pandemic as second order effects start to show their face. A single check will help those in need today, but what about a month from now? Those people still need to eat and there are no indicators they will be back at work in April/May...so what do we do then? I think it's short sighted to only account for a single month of need, and we'll see the government squabbling over how to save the economy in just about one month from now.

    How does this play into international politics? It's tough to say. Most nations are going to be quarantined/isolated for the foreseeable future, lest they allow the pandemic to spread all over again, so I don't know if countries will truly get a leg up since this is a global issue that creates dependencies on other countries to solve their internal spread first.

    5 votes
  5. Comment on What are the best, most interesting TV shows from outside the US? in ~tv

    UniquelyGeneric
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    So it may be a bit biased because I work in advertising, but I find Gruen to be both highly entertaining while also interesting/informative. They pick apart marketing and advertising, show the...

    So it may be a bit biased because I work in advertising, but I find Gruen to be both highly entertaining while also interesting/informative. They pick apart marketing and advertising, show the tricks they are employing on their audience, and actually have given me a deeper appreciation for the effort taken to make an ad. They also showcase bad ads and quickly demonstrate how the right ideas with the wrong execution can be a failure.

    The name originates from the Gruen Transfer, wherein a shopper entering a mall gets disoriented, forgets what they came there for, and immediately becomes an impulse buyer. Named after the architect of the first malls.

    You can find many episodes on YouTube as well. My favorite segment is when they give a pitch to real advertising firms to "sell the unsellable" and it's interesting to see the different techniques they employ to grab attention and make a call to action.

    Oh, and it's Australian so they have a lot of cheeky humor and aren't afraid to curse, which as an American, makes it all the more enjoyable.

    4 votes
  6. Comment on Why don't we just ban targeted advertising? in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I used to work in a Behavioral Economics lab, where most of our work regarded economic decisions around insurance, the environment, and privacy. However, I did spend part of my time helping in a...

    I used to work in a Behavioral Economics lab, where most of our work regarded economic decisions around insurance, the environment, and privacy. However, I did spend part of my time helping in a Food and Brand lab, which I thought would have more quirky food insights, but instead it was mostly serviced around the 4 P's, particularly place and promotion.

    While I certainly empathize with the desire to avoid advertising, I think my gripe with the sentiment of banning all targeted ads is the impotence of enforcement. It gets really grey once you peel back a layer or two of advertising before you realize that advertising is everywhere. It's cloaked in the innocuous and functional tape for Amazon packages you bought while quarantined. It's printed on the car you drove to the grocery store with the big sign outside, selling the food you eat with a sticker on top...and just about every other object you touched along the way. People themselves choose to advertise "their brand" whether consciously or unconsciously for career growth or social acceptance. Yet these aren't even new phenomena, as birds and flowers have learned the power of advertising for that age-old business of sex.

    I'm not condoning targeted ads as a good thing because they are inevitable; in many ways advertising has perpetuated an anxiety of inadequacy for generations across geographies. Instead, I challenge that if banning targeted ads will be infeasible, what is the true solution? I think for the individual it's education and constant vigilance against persuasive techniques, but to make true progress there should be a systemic shift. The current industry shifts towards privacy are moves in the right direction, but I think a formalization of standards and an agreed-upon framework to leverage personal data is the only way you will gain industry acceptance, and have a glimmer of enforce-ability.

    7 votes
  7. Comment on Why don't we just ban targeted advertising? in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Age, gender, and zip code are likely enough to personally identify a large portion of the United States. While the back-of-the-envelope calculation I linked isn't exact science, per se, I work in...

    Like, how personal is your zip code?

    Age, gender, and zip code are likely enough to personally identify a large portion of the United States. While the back-of-the-envelope calculation I linked isn't exact science, per se, I work in the field and I can assure you every data point counts. While systems today haven't all been built to cue off of the minutiae of each individual's browsing patterns, it's definitely heading that way as the industry responds to increased scrutiny, and the need to perform targeted advertising grows.

    While there's a lot of talk about Differential Privacy, there aren't as many business cases for it because the usefulness of the data only goes so far before becoming unusable due to the level of anonymity provided. Many businesses cannot sell/share this data because of the large margins of error introduced (albeit, by design). It's a neat way to do internal analytics, but I haven't seen it as a silver bullet for privacy advocates.

    IMHO, while there are ways to target larger segments of the population, the monetary incentive for more granular targeting will keep this privacy cat and mouse game going for a long time.

    7 votes
  8. Comment on Recommend classic games you feel everyone should play at least once in ~games

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I don't know if it's in the same vein of the intended question, but Black Mesa was released recently, and it's been a welcome treat during these trying times. It's a recreation of the original...

    I don't know if it's in the same vein of the intended question, but Black Mesa was released recently, and it's been a welcome treat during these trying times. It's a recreation of the original Half-Life, but with Half-Life 2 grade textures and models to back it up. It doesn't change the fact that the original game is over 20 years old and so the mechanics aren't as smooth as we would expect today, but it's a faithful recreation that gives you the essence of playing the original, without requiring you to put rose colored glasses on to appreciate it. TheJorro does a far better job describing it, so don't take my word for it.

    7 votes
  9. Comment on Can I cycle outside? in ~health.coronavirus

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Just be smart about it. I don't know if it's any consolation or the right thing to do, but I've been biking a lot more recently. I find that I have a lot more pent up energy having sat in the same...

    Just be smart about it.

    I don't know if it's any consolation or the right thing to do, but I've been biking a lot more recently. I find that I have a lot more pent up energy having sat in the same room for hours. I also have a lot more time without social obligations. I generally stay to the main bike paths and while there's some concentration of runners at a few bottlenecks, for the most part I'm relatively alone for most of my ride.

    I know I'm in a high risk area (NYC), but I think my low touch exercise is one of the only ways to be outside without being a problem to others. While there's a chance it spreads through the air, many of the people on these routes are also exercising and wouldn't be symptomatic (I know that's not required to spread). I would be more worried about the air in midtown (which is fairly empty nowadays...).

    I don't know if I'm really putting myself at increased risk or not, but I feel better doing it, and being healthy with a strong immune system is exactly what you want right now. If I contract covid-19, then I will self quarantine, but without biking feels it feels like solitary confinement. Getting a few hours of daylight is good for mental health as well :)

    4 votes
  10. Comment on Tilderinos with experience in job-hunting/hiring for programming roles: What am I doing wrong? in ~comp

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I graduated with a degree in ECE (minor in CS) because I realized too late what I wanted to do, and now I work as a product manager in a data/software company. My closest peer from school went to...

    I graduated with a degree in ECE (minor in CS) because I realized too late what I wanted to do, and now I work as a product manager in a data/software company. My closest peer from school went to work at a defense contractor after graduation and now works as a SWE at a finance firm. My point is, neither of us do anything HW based today, so I wouldn’t feel too pigeon-holed into those roles.

    That being said, it’s all about how you can spin your experience. You probably won’t get a job out of the gate as a SWE at a big tech company, but there’s many other companies that ask for “CS or related engineering degree”. An unspoken rule is that job postings almost always ask for more experience than they’re willing to accept, so don’t be afraid to apply to places you might not meet all the qualifications of. Just try to hit buzzwords when you can (as silly as that sounds), and speak in an active voice in your resume, since your first filter is HR. Once you get to a phone interview, it’s up to you to highlight your strengths (don’t bring up the fact that you’re not interested in EE unless directly asked).

    4 votes
  11. Comment on Your thoughts regarding the media coverage? in ~health.coronavirus

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Super cool tool! Very fun to compare with, it seems the exponential rise is inevitable, but the plateau is less clear. I am curious why Japan hasn't seem to grow exponentially nearly at all.

    Super cool tool! Very fun to compare with, it seems the exponential rise is inevitable, but the plateau is less clear.

    I am curious why Japan hasn't seem to grow exponentially nearly at all.

    3 votes
  12. Comment on Life during the outbreak in ~talk

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I too have gotten a spurt of energy from the past few weeks. Perhaps it's the break from routine, or the existential awareness everywhere you go, but I've been trying to direct the energy to...

    I too have gotten a spurt of energy from the past few weeks. Perhaps it's the break from routine, or the existential awareness everywhere you go, but I've been trying to direct the energy to something more productive.

    Since I've started WFH I've spent more time in my room and with my desk than I usually do, and it's gotten me to see areas of improvement, which is helping me envision my new apartment when I move in a few months. I've also gotten around to doing some digital housekeeping and taking care of the odds and ends that drive my hobbies and projects online. I even did my taxes today!

    The only left to do is to try to write some more music, but sharing an apartment with others 24/7 has made me more conscious of the noise I make, so unfortunately I have not made much progress on that front.

    6 votes
  13. Comment on Silver lining to this pandemic? in ~health.coronavirus

    UniquelyGeneric
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    There's also the fact that conservative voters tend to skew older. There's already theories that voter suppression due to long lines caused lower turnout of certain demographics, and now primaries...

    There's also the fact that conservative voters tend to skew older. There's already theories that voter suppression due to long lines caused lower turnout of certain demographics, and now primaries have already been delayed, although it's unclear what the situation will be like at that time. With the US general election in November, this could very well be one of the most unpredictable elections we've seen in a long time. An election that was already bound to have global implications.

    9 votes
  14. Comment on Silver lining to this pandemic? in ~health.coronavirus

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Similar to how my grandmother would save, reuse, and conserve everything due to growing up in the Great Depression, I imagine we might adopt some more hygienic habits and routines. However, if the...

    Similar to how my grandmother would save, reuse, and conserve everything due to growing up in the Great Depression, I imagine we might adopt some more hygienic habits and routines.

    However, if the extent of our reaction only lasts a few weeks/months, I fear we will slip back into old patterns of behavior when it’s all over. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, and if we manage to flatten the curve we’ll enough, there won’t be a noticeable crisis to imprint on people the importance. The Great Depression lasted years and extended poverty/lack of food could certainly leave an indelible mark on our collective psyche.

    I suspect the biggest takeaway would be improvements to the CDC and handling of infectious diseases. The coronavirus is acting as a stress test of our systems, exposing vulnerable points we have not adequately prepared for. Due to the relatively small death rate compared to more aggressive diseases (3% for coronavirus vs 60% for avian flu), hopefully we can recover from this better prepared to handle “the Big One”.

    6 votes
  15. Comment on Silver lining to this pandemic? in ~health.coronavirus

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I think it’s specifically the “wet” markets that need to be shut down. Open air slaughter and intermixing of species is the main vector for these viruses to cross species lines. As it was the case...

    I think it’s specifically the “wet” markets that need to be shut down. Open air slaughter and intermixing of species is the main vector for these viruses to cross species lines. As it was the case with SARS, China did nothing about the markets, and I’m not hopeful they will change anything since they are claiming a victory in controlling the spread in Wuhan (without addressing the source of the issue).

    7 votes
  16. Comment on Is this unprecedented? in ~health.coronavirus

    UniquelyGeneric
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    NASCAR is still going to run, albeit without fans. Given the part of the US that was claiming initial reports of the coronavirus was "fake news", it seems to me like they're not taking it as...

    it seems like most US opposition to taking it seriously has collapsed?

    NASCAR is still going to run, albeit without fans. Given the part of the US that was claiming initial reports of the coronavirus was "fake news", it seems to me like they're not taking it as seriously as liberal cities and corporations avoiding risk (Broadway cancellations and Disneyland shutdown).

    10 votes
  17. Comment on TV Tuesdays Free Talk in ~tv

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Checked out Devs last night. It has an interesting dark and enigmatic vibe, very reminiscent of Ex Machina, which makes sense given the fact that the writer is the same. Curious to see where it...

    Checked out Devs last night. It has an interesting dark and enigmatic vibe, very reminiscent of Ex Machina, which makes sense given the fact that the writer is the same. Curious to see where it goes after these two episodes. The fact that it’s a mini-series gives me hope it will actually have an ending that gives closure.

    Better Call Saul delivers, as always, with the latest of Season 4. I’m excited to see its entry point into Breaking Bad, which feels like it’s coming up soon. Saul is in full swing now and it’s sad to see him completely give up his morals, but it’s also so much fun to see him scheme.

    High Maintenance has had some great episodes this season. Their latest was one of the first times I got stressed while watching it, though. It showed some moments of awkward confrontation, which is not typical for the show. That being said, after hearing their panel at the 92nd St. Y gave me a better appreciation for what they are going for with trying to capture authentic moments from life.

    Haven’t seen it yet, but looking forward to the second season of Cosmos kicking off. While I preferred the Sagan series better than the first season of the reboot, I enjoyed both.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on Are you giving up anything for Lent? in ~talk

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Yes, masturbation counts...according to a friend who grew up Catholic. It's also what drove him to discover that Sundays don't count during Lent.

    Yes, masturbation counts...according to a friend who grew up Catholic.

    It's also what drove him to discover that Sundays don't count during Lent.

    2 votes
  19. Comment on TV Tuesdays Free Talk in ~tv

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Seconded for Better Call Saul. I’ve been waiting for it to reach the point that Breaking Bad had where it went from bumbling around with chemistry to hardened criminals unafraid of using violence....

    Seconded for Better Call Saul. I’ve been waiting for it to reach the point that Breaking Bad had where it went from bumbling around with chemistry to hardened criminals unafraid of using violence. I haven’t seen BCS hit that point yet and I’m not complaining either. Bob Odenkirk maintains the same fun atmosphere of shady lawyering that he had from the beginning. The Gus Fring storyline progresses at a steady pace and provides more depth to the interactions we see in BB. Overall, one of my favorite current series and glad to see it back.

    3 votes
  20. Comment on Silicon Valley ruined work culture in ~life

    UniquelyGeneric
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    In The Idea Factory it’s argued that the main reason for Bell Labs’ success (aside from the 10% R&D fee collected as part of the monopolistic Bell System) was due to the organizations physical...

    In The Idea Factory it’s argued that the main reason for Bell Labs’ success (aside from the 10% R&D fee collected as part of the monopolistic Bell System) was due to the organizations physical structure. The building and campus in Murray Hill was so highly regarded that the likes of Google and other SV types took campus tours to emulate the design. In many ways this was potentially another cargo cult mentality, and that Bell Labs also uniquely had some of the smartest minds on the verge of the greatest technical revolution of the modern age.

    If my memory serves me correctly, there were three main qualities of the Bell Labs design that lead to innovation:

    • Long hallways that force people to walk past each other to get to other offices, increasing cross pollination
    • An open door policy for offices, this egalitarian policy allowed junior employees to feel more comfortable approaching senior leaders with new ideas
    • Movable walls within the cafeteria. Everyone ate together, so multiple departments could sit at the same table and discuss what they were working on. The movable walls could create an impromptu conference room where they could write on a blackboard to work through new ideas

    These cross pollination opportunities was the crux of creatively combining new and disparate ideas. However, management consultant probably equate “open doors” with “open office” and miss the point entirely.

    11 votes