Archive for August, 2011

lessons from the PC era

It’s interesting to consider the history of the PC and learn some lessons. The landscape of computing that we have now resulted from a sandwiching effect of cheaper and cheaper scientific workstations and more and more powerful consumer hobby kits (some say toys). By the mid 1980s, this trend was recognized and efforts were begun from both sides to capture the computing market. Today we know that the hobby kit lineage won, and as a result, most workstation companies eventually folded in the 2000s, though they survived for a while by clinging to the enterprise. (Incidently, IBM and HP did not, because they were large and diversified enough to do something about it.)

But this is not the whole story.
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art history

I’ve been rather ignorant of this discipline, and only saw categorization of historical style progressions as a taxonomic exercise. Over the years as I listened to classical music, I’ve gained at least one understanding of why there is a progression — something rooted in human expectation and its motivic innovation, I suppose (some fascinating papers on the subject of aesthetics here and here). But why this particular progression was never clear. Perhaps there was no rhyme or reason, I thought, just a coincidence.

So lately I’ve been considering whether there is some organization to better understand some milestones of (Western) art history, which get period labels like:

premodern, classicist, medieval, renaissance, baroque, rationalist, romantic, modern, and postmodern.
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Neil Simon plays

Just finished listening to some classical Neil Simon plays. I don’t like the Suites very much, though they have their moments. Simon is best at his craft when he writes personal comedies.

My favorite plays are:

Brighton Beach Memoirs
Biloxi Blues
Barefoot in the Park
Broadway Bound

Some other good but less believable ones:

Chapter Two
Lost in Yonkers
The Odd Couple
Prisoner of Second Avenue

The balance are more slapstick and aren’t so good:

Plaza Suite
California Suite