Samstag, 27. Dezember 2008

TV-Guide Descriptions Of History Movies

Hollywood movies on world history events are often criticized for their historic inaccuracies. Many of those inaccuracies, at least when they are of a minor kind, are fine for me as long as it's clear they are intended for some good reason, e.g. a better storyline.

I noticed that kind of criticism lately in Austria's most widespread tv-guide. "Director A did this wrong, Director B did not adhere to historic facts", and so on. Which is kind of ironic, given the fact the same tv-guide tends to mess up facts as well. Major facts. And they do so without any logical reason.

Two recent examples:

Movie "The Gladiator" (2000): The tv-guide's movie description referred to the battle scene at the beginning as "Battle of the Teutoburg Forest". But the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (AKA "Varusschlacht" in German) took place in the 9 A.D. when Augustus was emperor. Marcus Aurelius, the dying emperor in "Gladiator", reigned from 161 A.D. to 180 A.D., and was involved in the so-called Marcomannic Wars at this time (he actually died in the city of Vindobona, today's Vienna). The movie at no point mentions the Teutoburg Forest.

Movie "Alexander" (2004): Here they talked about Anthony Hopkin's role as Ptolemy, and state that "he was Alexander the Great's teacher". That's nonsense. As everyone and his sister knows, Aristotle was Alexander's teacher, a fact that is shown and repeated several times during the movie (Christopher Plummer plays Aristotle). Ptolemy was a childhood friend, then one of Alexander's most capable generals, and ended up being Pharao in Egypt in the political and military turmoil following Alexander's death. This was the foundation of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, with Cleopatra among its most famous members.

Sonntag, 30. November 2008

Yeah, Right

Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
(Isaac Asimov)

Dienstag, 28. Oktober 2008

Philosophy Podcasts

My passion for history is a means of ensuring a kind of healthy work-life-balance, a distraction from my daytime job in software development. I am doing a lot of reading on history, podcast listening, plus I visit museums and watch TV documentaries.

However I decided I needed a second branch of interest so that not all of my sparetime gets soaked up by musing on the importance of the cavalry in Napoleon's Russian campaign or stuff like that.

I did some basic reading on philosophy several years ago, and I am planning to continue on that trail. Here are several great philosophy podcasts that I recently started to listen to on a regular basis:

Sonntag, 17. August 2008

See How Fast You Can Type!

I don't consider myself to be a good typist. I am not really very fast, and what's worse I often make mistakes, most of the time swapping adjoined characters (I am sure there must be a mental or fine-motoric explanation for that ;-) ). Furthermore I need to gaze at the keyboard every 10 seconds or so - maybe just to calibrate my fingers on the keys, I don't know.

So what I do is trying to compensate for those shortcomings by applying as many keyboard shortcuts as possible when coding, which probably makes me gain some time again.

It's funny because I had taken typing classes back at school (those were the days of electronic typewriters), but for one reason or another did not apply the ten-finger system when writing code for the first several years (I'd rather call it some kind of 6-finger freestyle ;-) ). This seemed ridiculous after a while so I bought one of those typing tutor software packages and relearned how the ten-finger system worked on a PC in the mid-90s.

But hey, I just scored 363 characters per minute on this speed typing test. I candidly admit I had one advantage though: Being a history buff I recognized the predefined text (Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address).