- 1. What's your favorite Hitchcock film?
- Alfred Hitchcock has an impressive résumé of outstanding films, but Rear Window is my favorite. Like many of his films, it's got great acting, psychological inquiry, shot composition, and suspense building. Rear Window goes beyond the others as a technical masterpiece of storytelling and storyboarding, setting the entire movie in a single room, focused through the titular rear window into an apartment courtyard. While North By Northwest, Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds are more typically Hitchcockian, I smile the most when I think back to Rear Window.
- 2. What programming language are you digging the most these days?
- I like to say that my favorite programming language is the one that's best suited to the task at hand. I really like Ruby's way of thinking, mixing Perl convenience with Smalltalk object orientation, functional programming encouragement, and enough ninjutsu to make execution painless... or very painful. I've felt a bit let down in Ruby's API offerings on topics that aren't related to Rails; things I want to build on seem half baked.
I really wanted to like Scala, but the "tutorial" I read spent a lot more time showing off cool programming modalities and not enough time showing the reader how to do basic stuff like manipulate collections. So when I encountered the section on right-associative operators and list folding, I stomped off in a huff. I suspect this is more a problem with the documentation than the language itself, so I'm willing to give it another try at some point.
I like some ideas in Google's new Go language. I'm interested to see what folks start doing with that. I'm also interested in Haskell, but its syntax is obtuse to the untrained eye. I'd like to go on a few dates with it and see if we're compatible.
- 3. What species of animal would you modify, given the chance?
- What sort of modifications are we talking about? I like to modify chickens by removing parts of their carcass and subjecting them to heat...
Assuming you mean changes to a species' core DNA, I'd like to debug a few human body problems. For one, our backs are pretty fragile, especially when we do a lot of sitting. For another, some of our social instincts are better suited to small groups and tribes and show flaws in urban settings.
It would also be nice to modify certain types of mosquitoes so they don't act as vectors for malaria. While we're at it, we might want to tweak some megafauna to adapt to human-introduced environment change, though I'm not sure what changes you could make to an elephant to survive habitat and food source loss and still call it an elephant.
- 4. What would you miss most if you moved away from Boulder?
- It would probably depend on where I moved. If I moved to San Francisco, there would still be plenty of smart and creative people. If I moved to Norway, there'd still be plenty of mountainous outdoor activity. If I moved to New Mexico there'd still be plenty of sun and nice weather. If I moved to Hong Kong, there'd still be plenty of interesting world cuisine.
What I missed about Boulder when I was living in the Denver suburbs was bikeability. I learned that I'm not very good at motivating myself for recreational bike rides, but when I can ride across town in half an hour, I'm a lot more liable to hop on a bike than drive my car. Plus, there's a weekly excuse to ride around town and bring smiles to peoples' faces. I also missed the college town/intellectual atmosphere. In college, I would plan my semester's social calendar around the International Film Series on campus, but in the past five years I've watched very few movies. So I'm excited to be back around IFS, CWA, and people who work for CU, NCAR, NIST, and other exciting abbreviated entities.
- 5. If you were asked to design a monument, what would it look like and who or what would it be a monument to?
- The most powerful monument I've ever visited is the temple at Burning Man. It combines beautiful craftwork with powerful statements to build a place which simultaneously provides solitude and community and supports grief and joy. It's typically focused on people who have passed from this life, but it's open enough to allow all kinds of release.
I think it would be interesting to apply the same sense of beauty and community involvement to a living monument of changed places. With a key theme of natural areas destroyed by human development, it could feature maps, images, stories, and facts about the way parts of the world used to be and how they're changing today. Participants could add their own memories of visiting a place and stories passed down when their grandparents moved from the old country. People could expand the idea of changed places to talk about the culture of their old neighborhood, the house they grew up in, and BBSes back in the good ol' days of online communication.
I think such a monument should have an interactive component shared over the Internet. People who can't attend in person can submit their stories and pictures. Periodically, someone would create a video tour, exploring some of the many contributions. People could contribute their stories in audio and video, adding oral history to visual and architectural homages.
You can read my previous answers to shower meme interviews. You can participate by requesting five questions in the comments to this entry.