I am a UX professional living in Austin Texas.

Published: 2 months ago

Durst & Rumsfeld & Morris: No One Tells the Whole Truth

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

If you’re not watching HBO’s documentary on Robert Durst, The Jinx, you should. If you do, you probably had to manually close your jaw after Andrew Jarecki (the director) interviewed him present day and Durst was caught with a hot mic during a break, repeating to himself (on the subject of his murder trial in Texas), “I did not knowingly, purposefully, intentionally lie. I did make mistakes.” He seems to be rehearsing for how the conversation will pick up after a break. His lawyer advises him that the mic is on and that the cameras are getting all of his self-talk.

Durst’s lawyers then came over to tell him that his mic was still on and that they were able to hear everything, but he did not seem to care at all. He doubles down and confirms he meant what he said: “I did not tell the whole truth. Nobody tells the whole truth.”

“I did not tell the whole truth,” Durst told one of his lawyers. “Nobody tells the whole truth.”

The moment is shocking, and many viewers undoubtedly heard that as, “Of course I lied on the stand” or maybe even “I probably killed this guy, and others, because clearly you see I have no problem lying.” But I do think the point Durst is making — albeit inelegantly — is that human brains just don’t tell the whole truth. The premise that we can is false. Coming from Durst (partnered with his famous twitching and squirming) this fact feels dark and ominous. But philosophers have known this forever.

I was struck when Errol Morris, in his recent interview with Grantland, addressed the nuance of this seemingly-terrifying-but-truly-human notion thusly:

“One of the reasons I hate the idea of lie detectors is that we think of the brain as being a recorder, a memory recorder, so you can go back in there and find out what happened and what didn’t happen, and whether the person is lying or telling the truth. Well, maybe you can figure out whether they’re misrepresenting what they know or think they know, but we all can fabulate, we’ve all lied, we all change things in innumerable ways. It’s just part of being human. And part of our job is to try to struggle through this nimbus of confusion and error and get to something that approximates what’s out there in the world. The fact that someone misremembers something, or that there’s an element of wishful thinking in what they remember, am I surprised by that? Not really. Am I horrified by it? Not really. I’m horrified by a lot of stuff. Not so much by that. Or let’s put it this way: I’m horrified by it when it just leads to truly terrible stuff.”

Morris is talking about his film, The Unknown Known, about Donald Rumsfeld. Completely difference topic, not at all related to Durst or that case or anything on HBO. He’s discussing how Rumsfeld is somehow able to get through life without noticing nuance, without really addressing the dark and ugly shit that (probably) makes him a war criminal. He just grins and tells the story and seems perfectly comfortable in his truth, no matter how absurd it might be. Perception is everything, and in many cases, the truth is almost irrelevant when telling our stories. How can any one human being really tell the whole truth? We take this for granted every time we say things like “Well I heard Sally’s side, I wonder what Tom says.” It’s only scary when someone scary says it.

Even more so when we talking about the truth from an individual’s perspective. What Morris argues above is essentially, “Part of being human is probably not being capable of The Truth, capital T, that’s just how we manage and function.” I believe that’s exactly what Durst meant too, only, that lack of nuance delivers a significant Rumsfeld-like detachment that startles us.

Anyway, there might not be a parallel between Durst and Rumsfeld, but there is a very good argument to be made for Durst’s terse and matter-of-fact “No one tells the whole truth.”

Published: 2 years ago

Follow Shows!

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I was just thinking the other day that it would be amazing if there was one central location to identify the shows you like to watch, then see a list of when, where and how to watch them. With so many different options (paid and free or illegal), it’s hard to manage TV if you don’t have cable and oodles of time. Luckily, Yewknee tipped me off to Follow Shows, a service that does just that. Awesome!

I wish you didn’t have to use Facebook to login (I hate in general when that’s the only option for any app or service), but I’m definitely giving it a try because I know it will come in handy.

Published: 2 years ago

Hostile, Ugly, Sexist

“Movies, and what women do in and to them, are better than the Academy seemed to realize. The same could be said about a lot of women in a lot of jobs. And women can’t forget it.” –Amy Davidson

Published: 2 years ago

Glenn Gould on Television: The Complete CBC Broadcasts 1954-1977

Sizzle reel created by Mark Selby promoting CBC Radio’s 75th anniversary and historic Gould box set, featuring 10 DVDs packed with rare material from the CBC vaults: performances, discussions, and interviews with the legendary figure, all broadcast on CBC Television. “From his earliest existing TV appearance on a 1954 kinescope to a series of programs on twentieth-century music from the late 1970s, it’s an unprecedented collection, made possible by Sony, CBC, and the Gould estate.” Read more at CBC’s Gould site.

Published: 2 years ago

Law & Order Database

I have to thank Lee for tipping me off to this amazing article at Overthinking It. Back in 2010, they started an initiative to log how every single episode of Law & Order ended. Now that it’s all finally out on DVD, they’ve been able to track jury verdicts through 456 episodes. They track guilty and not guilty and everything in between (implied win, hung jury, plea bargain…) and it’s an incredibly exhaustive collection of data about the show. It’s amazing to see the trends over the show’s long history, over time and by season. If you’re a Law & Order obsessive like I am, this research is invaluable and amazing!

Published: 2 years ago

Movies @ Vimeo

This is very cool: you can now watch movies at Vimeo. The setup is extremely smart: buy an affordable movie online, then sync it with any number of devices (we use Roku, it’s been great) to watch however you prefer. Filmakers can upload and price their own work (not unlike Bandcamp, a nice model to work from), and have Vimeo’s great platform for uploading and viewing, both in user experience and quality. Nice work, Vimeo!

Published: 3 years ago

Wolcott on TV and Film

After I fell out of love with movies (new movies, that is—classic Hollywood I still adulate), I realized during my rare visits to the multiplex that what I missed wasn’t the big screen, that Mount Rushmore larger-than-lifeness, but the short vacation in the receptive dark, the comfort and calm of the blinds being lowered on the city outside. But even that respite is too often tattered by the cell-phone compulsives texting and checking their messages, whatever spell the filmmakers attempted to cast spoiled by these mousy little screens flashing their gray pallor. As movie theaters switch from film to digital projection, home flat-screens take up a wall, Blu-Ray discs exhume masterpiece-painting volumes of color and intricate detail from popular releases, and the unholy moviegoing experience cries out for human-pest control, cinema has lost its sanctuary allure and aesthetic edge over television, which as a medium has the evolutionary advantage. Movies will never die, not as long as a director like Terrence Malick can make every green blade of grass sway like the first dance of creation, but TV is where the action is, the addictions forged, the dream machine operating on all cylinders. As I write this, the Academy Awards are a few days away, with The Artist the odds-on best-picture winner. Does anyone think The Artist is better than Mad Men?

Read the rest…

Published: 3 years ago

Rob Sheffield: Thanks for Trying, Billy Crystal

“Once again, they censored the applause-o-meter in the dead-people montage. (Liz Taylor would have aced that shit, and don’t think for a minute Liz didn’t spend years daydreaming about all the applause her Oscar memorial clip would get.) Why? So Esperanza Spaulding could sing the eternally icky “What a Wonderful World,” a sentiment rarely expressed by dead people. But was that the dumbest moment? No, no, no. That would be the Cirque De Soleil interlude with all the mimes. Mimes! On trapezes! Not even a mimes-in-the-movies montage! Miiiiimes! Complain all you want about The Artist, it wasn’t about mimes. And when Chris Rock hosts next year (please?) there won’t be any mimes.”