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The Social Network 👍

Aaron Sorkin doesn’t get Silicon Valley — case in point — so it is a small miracle that his screenplay about (The) Facebook’s origins works. The Sorkinized version of Mark Zuckerberg bears little resemblance to the real person, if old footage is anything to go by. Yet even this aloof and opportunistic cipher is more human than the soulless privacy-destroying corporate robot that the kind of people who like Sorkin — let’s call them New York Times readers — now see when they look at Zuckerberg.

Much has happened in the 10 years since the movie came out, the least of which is Facebook’s valuation going from $25 billion to $770 billion. I imagine a great deal of the story being depicted differently if it were shot today, including but not limited to the experience of the women involved, the entitlement of most of the protagonists, and Peter Thiel. In fact, with all those culture bombs strung out it’s unlikely it would even see the light of day in 2021, at least not as a David Fincher feature film. In 2010 it had felt too soon for a movie about an internet company that was barely out of infancy. From 2021 hindsight, making it so early seems to have been the right call.

What I learned on Twitter, week of 2/1/21

Chernobyl 👍

Chernobyl became a last-minute entrant for the best show on TV of the 2010s, but it is apparent now that the 2020s are its decade. From governmental incompetence to criminal cover-ups to the bravery of regular humans, the parallels between a 1980s nuclear meltdown and a 2020s societal meltdown draw themselves. Being an 80s baby, I can only count my blessings that nuclear fallout isn’t self-replicating.

But I do hope I’m still around when Wuhan comes out.

What I learned on Twitter, week of 1/25/21

The Mandalorian, Season 2 👍

The Mandalorian is still a series of fantastic action pieces connected by enough plot to make it interesting without requiring you to build your own crazy wall. It’s the good kind of mindless, now with some old favorites.

What I learned on Twitter, week of 1/18/21

What a week…

The Goldfinch 👎

There are pieces of several good movies in these two hours and 30 minutes but none of them last for very long and what’s in between isn’t very good. The novel it is based on has almost a thousand pages in paperback and not having read it I would still wager it would’ve been better served as a TV series than this overwrought film that is narratively, visually, and emotionally all over the place.

The longest stretch of coherence — our young semi-orphan Theo’s coming-of-age in a Nevadan subdevelopment with his new friend Boris — should have comprised the first two acts of a 90-minute three-act movie that would still have had enough different storylines to satisfy the early 2020s fad of too much plot (see also: Soul). This structure would both have prevented Nicole Kidman’s family of emotionally stunted ciphers from contaminating the movie, and given Finn Wolfhard’s adorable pretend-Russian accent more screen time.

Directed by John Crowley, 2019.

The Mandalorian, Season 1 👍

There is a place in everyone’s life for mindless entertainment: things with which to amuse and delight your brain when it can’t handle anything more mentally taxing. But whereas mindfulness is always the same: complex, developing characters, plot twists, emotional range (yawn), there are many different ways to achieve mindlessness. Most shows take the easy route: if there is no “there” there, there is nothing to worry your mind about — just react to what’s in front of your eyes without worrying what came before or what will come after, football in the groin-style.

As you could have guessed from the thumbs up emoji in the title, The Mandalorian does it the hard way. It counts on the viewers’ familiarity with Star Wars and western movie tropes to do the mental work in the background without taxing the frontal cortex. There is a before and an after, but you’ve seen the before and can guess the after so you can focus on the here and the now of blasters firing away and villains monologuing themselves into a stalemate. Familiar but fresh, just what the brain needs after dealing with the stale strangeness of the last year.

What I learned on Twitter, week of 1/11/21

Things I heard were good but was holding out for reasons unknown then wondered why I haven’t tried them sooner

  • The Americans
  • The Mandalorian
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels
  • Peter Thiel’s Zero to One
  • Sam Harris’s Waking Up app
  • Steven Wolfram’s Mathematica
  • The following Mac “productivity” apps: Omnifocus, Omnigraffle, DevonThink Pro, Tinderbox
  • Zettelkasten
  • Apple hardware
  • Electric bicycles
  • Birdwatching

Obviously, I recommend all of the above.

See also: Things I used to like but now wonder what in the world I was thinking.

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