Bruce Schneier discusses Liars and Outliers

Bruce Schneier is discussing his latest book Liars and Outliers on The WELL.

The discussion is still open for the next couple of days but has been very enlightening so far. I particularly like the notion of cooperators and defectors to describe individuals in relation to systems.

Also — and this is the final kicker — not all defectors are bad. If
you think about the notions of cooperating and defecting, they’re
defined in terms of the societal norm. Cooperators are people who
follow the formal or informal rules of society. Defectors are people
who, for whatever reason, break the rules. That definition says nothing
about the absolute morality of the society or its rules. When society
is in the wrong, it’s defectors who are in the vanguard for change. So
it was defectors who helped escaped slaves in the antebellum American
South. It’s defectors who are agitating to overthrow repressive regimes
in the Middle East. And it’s defectors who are fueling the Occupy Wall
Street movement. Without defectors, society stagnates.

I’m a great fan of Schneier’s writing and how his analyses has grown beyond that of computer security to the fundamental notion of what security is and how group within societies embrace or reject aspects of it.

Man of Steel teaser trailers

Not one but two teaser trailers for Man of Steel have been released, essentially the same trailer with different voice-overs. From the look of the trailers the movie feels more like Terence Malick’s Man of Steel than a Zack Snyder film. Nice use of The Bridge Of Khazad Dum from the score to The Fellowship of the Ring and I love the visual of him breaking through the sound barrier.

Russell Crowe as Jor-El

Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent

The Burning Wire

The Burning Wire (Lincoln Rhyme, #9)The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this the ninth outing for Lincoln Rhyme he is up against a killer that has turned New York city’s electricity grid on its inhabitants. Not only that The Watchmaker has been spotted arriving in Mexico and Rhyme is offering his assistance in capturing the most dangerous and elusive of his foes.

This is a more personal tale than the last few Lincoln Rhyme novels and he is having thoughts about whether he should remain in his current condition. I enjoyed this book a lot, Jeffrey Deaver rarely disappoints, but it is not one of my favourite Lincoln Rhyme books.

View all my reviews

Review: Waiting for Superman

I recently saw the film Waiting for Superman, which despite the title is not a comic book film but a documentary about the US education system.

It had received rave reviews but I think it was deeply flawed, it oversimplified the problem and was emotional manipulative.

Basically it poses the question why is the US no longer top of the world when it comes to education league tables?
Comparing the 1950s with today the US seems to have dropped from #1 to around #20

One of the reasons offered is that part of the issue is that the rest of the world has simply caught up with the US economically in the intervening period. The film covers this entire aspect in less than a minute and spends a large proportion of the film attacking the teacher’s unions.

Bad teachers lead to poor teaching and poor teaching leads to a cycle of educational underachievement for many students.

Bad teachers stay in their jobs due to their union-secured contracts which guarantee them tenure (which unlike tenure for university professors is apparently automatic after just a number years of service) and tenured teachers are virtually impossible to dismiss.

This is probably part of the problem but it ignores the larger socio-political issues.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Jeff, Who Lives at Home 4 stars

Amy and I decided that we should try to make a real effort to watch more films because it is something that we both love to do that we somehow fell out of the habit of doing. To think back in the days of working at the cinema I was watching around 100 films a year.

We started with a quirky comedy that my brother recommended to me called Jeff, Who Lives at Home.