URLs du Jour


  • Since I like both movies and computers, this NYT article was pretty interesting. It's about Netflix's contest to improve their "recommendation engine", the software that analyzes the ratings Netflix customers give to movies, and tries to predict accurately what unseen movies they'd like. The prize for a 10% improvement is a cool $1 million; as you can tell by that fact alone, it's a very tough problem.

    "Quirky" movies are especially hard. For example, even given a lot of data about a customer's past preferences, it's very tough to predict whether they will like Napoleon Dynamite. (Via GeekPress.)

  • The University Diarist marks up a recent student newspaper article about classroom laptop use at a University Near Here. It's not pretty.

  • Here's a sentence I wish I'd written:
    If I could change one thing about myself it's the way I'm the embodiment of all that is wrong with America and the human species more broadly.

Last Modified 2017-12-05 3:52 AM EDT

Kung Fu Panda

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

This is a pretty good Dreamworks animation release, aimed at kids who can stand PG levels of (as the MPAA puts it) "sequences of martial arts action" and (as Pun Salad puts it) a "pretty scary bad guy." Dreamworks animation is clocking in at about 0.85 Pixars, and that's pretty good. It's sweet, funny, and adult-watchable.

The story: Po, a panda who kind of sounds like Jack Black, is obsessed with Kung Fu, though he is but a lowly assistant in his father's noodle shop. But one day, through a series of bumbling pratfalls, he finds himself anointed as the prospective "Dragon Warrior", destined to save his homeland from the evil Tai Lung. Everyone greets this with extreme skepticism, including his reluctant master (a red panda who sounds just like Dustin Hoffman), and the "Furious Five", a group of warriors (Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane) idolized by Po.

And Jackie Chan is in it, voicing Monkey. His performance is, as always, Oscar-worthy, even if there isn't exactly a category for it. ("And the winner for 'Best Jackie Chan-like supporting performance in an animated feature' is… Jackie Chan!")

One drawback: if you're like me, you will be unable to get the song "Kung Fu Fighting" out of your head for a couple of days.

Last Modified 2012-10-09 8:24 AM EDT