Jay Hoffmann

Books, movies, and code

Weeknotes #1



I saw an interesting parable in a recent entry in Cory Doctrow’s Pluralistic blog. There’s a story that goes around that in the midst of his progressive reforms, a labor activist was pushing on new federal discrimination laws. According to some accounts, he responded with “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.” It‘s also possible the story isn’t entirely true. Either way it’s pretty cool.

Finally got through Ronan Farrow’s huge profile / takedown of Elon Musk in the New Yorker. It’s scary and unnerving in all the usual ways and is such an indictment of America’s major political failings it reads like satire sometimes. This about sums it up:

In the past twenty years, against a backdrop of crumbling infrastructure and declining trust in institutions, Musk has sought out business opportunities in crucial areas where, after decades of privatization, the state has receded

Simon Willison put up a written post of a talk I saw at WordCamp US. It’s brutally practical, which is kind of good.


Bleak House chapters 22 through 31, where the threads are beginning to come together. In a much longer aside from the narrator, Mr Guppy starts to put the whole thing together and Lady Deadlock realizes that Esther is indeed her daughter. Richard casts off after an argument with Mr Jarndyce and Esther become ill.

Dickens appears to excel at weaving together a compelling story and social commentary so that one never lives without the other, and so that each is made better for it. And it keeps you in.

On to Chapter 4 of Sculpting in Time,Cinema’s destined role where Tarkovsky begins to pick apart the trajectory of cinema by viewing it through the prism of his own experience in the industry. He talks about his transition from film school to the wider world of filmmaking, and the way in which mass appeal has shaped the way in which people respond to film. But he comes back to the universal truth of cinema, that it was a tool invented to record facts, actuality, and time:

Cinema came into being as a means of recording the very movement of reality: factual, specific, within time and unique; of reproducing again and again the moment, instant by instant, in its fluid mutability-that instant over which we find ourselves able to gain mastery by imprinting it on film.


Started Solaris to keep up with Tarvovsky.