do you know what's CGI? (web history personal story)


Xah Lee

some extempore thought.

Do you know what is CGI?

Worked with Mathematica for 5 hours yesterday. Fantastic! This old
hand can still do something! lol. My plane curve packages soon to be
out n am gonna be rich.

....gosh what godly hours i've spend on Mathematica in 1990s. Surprised
to find that i even Unproctected builtin symbols to fix things. (get
rid of asymptotes in ParametricPlot) (Draft notes as i go: Mathematica
Version 3 to Version 7 Conversion Notes)

.... i recall, i stopped doing Mathematica in 1998 because it's a
career dead-end as a programing lang, and dived into the utterly
idiotic Perl & unix & mysql world. (See: The Unix Pestilence â—‡ Xah
Lee's Computing Experience (Impression Of Lisp from Mathematica).)

Well, dead-end just as Emacs Lisp i'm spending my nights with in the
past 4 years. LOL. And on that note, same thing can be said with
haskell, OCaml.

Though, fringe langs are picking up these days. Remember Python, ruby,
in year 2000? Who'd imagined they'd become mainstream. But it took 10+
years. (See: Language, Purity, Cult, and Deception.)

Also got reminded my age recently. Someone on stackoverflow is asking
about what are those “A:†and “B:†drives on Windows. (anyone heard of
floppy drives?) In another incident, i was chatting to a friend, and
the topic went to internet tech in 1990s, and i was telling him about
how PHP (aka Pretty Home Page) came about, then naturally i discussed
CGI. After a while, i realized, those who are around 20 years old
today were under 10 in the 1990s. They wouldn't know what was CGI, and
no amount of explanation can tell them exactly it was like, because it
has become HISTORY — if you didn't live it, you can't feel it.

Xah ∑



Captain Obvious

XL> ... i recall, i stopped doing Mathematica in 1998 because it's a
XL> career dead-end as a programing lang, and dived into the utterly
XL> idiotic Perl & unix & mysql world. (See: The Unix Pestilence â—‡ Xah
XL> Lee's Computing Experience (Impression Of Lisp from Mathematica).)

I guess you're calling "idiotic" everything you're too lazy to understand.

XL> today were under 10 in the 1990s. They wouldn't know what was CGI, and
XL> no amount of explanation can tell them exactly it was like, because it
XL> has become HISTORY — if you didn't live it, you can't feel it.

CGI is still used in some places today, hello?
If spawning a process for each request is what you want to do, it is a way
to go.

inetd is quite similar to CGI and, guess what, it is still used.

Grant Edwards

That's Xah for you.

Yeah, James Cameron made a *ton* of money using it to make Avatar.

Too bad he couldn't have used it to make a better movie.

Did we really need "Furngully" avec 3D sans funny?

Martin v. Loewis

CGI is still used in some places today, hello?
Yeah, James Cameron made a *ton* of money using it to make Avatar.

He used compacted graphite iron in Avatar? I didn't know that.



Too bad he couldn't have used it to make a better movie.

I don't LOL very often but i must say that i was ROTF after this
comment. Avatar was very disappointing (Both in graphics and story)
but maybe i expect too much...? I found the look and feel of Beowulf
to be more lifelike. Actually if you appreciate great rendering then
you may want to check out "Despicable Me". The story was utterly
atrocious (although slightly interesting at moments) but the render
quality rivaled the best Dreamworks i have ever seem!



Emile van Sebille

He used compacted graphite iron in Avatar? I didn't know that.

Is that what "unobtanium" is?

Did anybody else thing Unobtainium was a blatant ripoff of Upsidasium
from Rocky and Bullwinkle?

No -- I figured he took it directly form the name of the material used
to make the MotoGP bikes...


Alice Bevan–McGregor

That's Xah for you.

It's a bad sign when people use your name as a running joke in multiple
mailing lists (outside the ones regularly posted in, specificaly I
noticed this in one of the web framework lists) to mean "silly/stupid
comments with no basis in reality".

— Alice.


I found the graphics impressive; the "blue people" was merely an effort
to avoid a more clear representation of the Na'vi as North American
indigenous people.

The story was clearly "Pocahontas… in Space!", which was very disappointing.

I have to disagree.. without writing
a dozen pages of my thoughts on Avatar,
I think this comment from Metafilter
sums it up best:

<a href="



Xah Lee

Avatar was very disappointing (Both in graphics and story) but maybe i
I have to disagree..

Loly. At this point, i must voice Xah's Point Of View.

〈Avatar and District 9 Movie Review〉

Avatar and District 9 Movie Review

Xah Lee, 2010-01-07


Went to watch the movie Avatar (2009 film) in theater today.

Boo. On a scale of 1 to 10, i'd say this is no more than 7. This movie
is totally predicable, stereotypical, intellectually shallow. The 3D
effect isn't impressive at all, and about the only thing that is
positive about this movie is the imaginative flora and fauna.

This movies garnered raving reviews, both by critics as well as being
a highly successful money maker. But it's so disappointing to me that
i have to think about where to begin.

3D Effect

Ok, lets begin at some easy criticisms, the 3D tech. I recall, back in
late 1970s or early 1980s when i was about 10 or so, my mom's mom took
me to see one of the first 3D film, in Taiwan, a kung fu film. I
vividly recall that i physically dodged when the weapons swung towards
me from the screen. Yeah, a lot people did that. That, is the effect
of good 3D on you. But now, after 30 years, one'd suppose that the 3D
tech has improved vastly, which it has. However, watching Avatar, i
hardly get ANY 3D sense at all. In fact, i absolutely don't feel any
3D sense, perhaps a little, if i force my self to feel it, thru its 3D
glasses. (I did not watch it on iMax)

What's wrong? I don't know. Perhaps the 3D tech is different. I don't
remember which 3D films i've watched back 30 years ago, but am
guessing that some 3D tech are designed to have a exaggerated
perspectivity, and am guessing the 3D tech used in this movie is
designed to be more mellow or wide angle. But over all, i say bah.


Ok, now i might disclose some of this movie's plot, and so here's your
“spoiler†warning, but, the movie is so formula driven and
stereotypical that it doesn't matter much.

The movie, in one sentence, is about Western powers with high tech
wanting to take over gold from some primitive, indigenous people, for
their riches in their land. Yeah, that's it. And, yes, there's a hero,
who gradually realized that this isn't right, and fell in love with
one of the beautiful chick from the indigenous people (you guessed
right, the daughter of a chieftain!), and saved the tribe, with the
help of local animals and magical nature.

The movies runs 2.5 hours. I didn't particular cry “move on alreadyâ€
at any point, but nor did the long movie had my attention wholly

There are no characters. All are shallow. The bad guys, in this case,
the corporation head and the head of marines, are just what they are.
The corporation head has eyes on gold, and that's his only concern.
The marines head has bulky muscles, and is all about toughness. The
hero, is just that, with good heart, and handsome to boot, courageous,
always miraculously succeeds against all odds, and gets his girl. The
heroin, in this case a alien race chick, is of course beautiful as
much beauty we can put on a feline humanoid. And what's she like?
Well, a beautiful woman, with concerns of loyalty of her man, love of
her family, her people, a caring of nature. Actually had sex with the
half-human half-alien hero. (inter-species porn anyone?)

Where is the Science in Sci-Fi?

What about the story line? Well, the human animals want this million-
dollar land inhabited by primitive tribes. The human animals created
what's called a “avatarâ€, which is a humanoid creature grown from bio-
tubes that has mixed DNA from humans and the native feline-like
humanoid aliens. The avatar is connected and controlled by a sleeping
human. When one is awake, the other goes to sleep. Thru the avatars,
it is thought that they can persuade the feline humanoids to move out.
But the diplomatic cunning didn't work out, of course, and violence is
resorted to. The hero fell in love with the heroin, and grew the sense
of American Justice, and defended the primitive feline-humanoids with
the help of miracle nature.

The Sci-Fi aspect of the avatar concept is all interesting. How does
the avatar work? How's it grown? How long does it take? How's the
technology to control or connect it? What's the biology of the alien?
What they eat? Well, this movie isn't concerned about these things,
only that these settings qualify it as Sci-Fi flick.

Another interesting aspect of sci-fi is that the plants and animals on
this alien place have some sort bio-wire grown from their body, that
allows direct animal-to-animal communication or animal-to-plant. For
example, the feline-humanoid can connect her bio-wire grown from her
head, with the bio-wire on a 6-legged horse or a flying-saurus,
similar to how you connect 2 electric wires. Also, the plants form
some kinda neural network by some bio-chemical means. (see
Biocommunication (science)) Again, all this is used as plot-devices,
you don't get to whiff them.

The Message?

You can't help but think about American Indians when watching this
movie, which the US American Disney proudly showed you in Pocahontas
(1995 film). A history of genocide shown as one big, happy, tale.
(See: Hollywood and Disney's Rape of Culture.)

What can we say about that? Is it just a coincidence that this movie
made you think of American Indians? The alien race is named “Na'viâ€.
The tribe is called Omaticaya. They worship their tree deity. They
mumble some prayer after killing in hunt, presumably to thank mother
nature and bless the deceased prey. They tame wild alien beasts the
likes of 6 legged horse and flying-saurus as a warrior's rite of
passage. They do their face war-paints. They use bows and arrows...

I'm not sure how much of all these is connected to real American
Indian, or pop beliefs in Primitive Culture. What is Primitive culture
anyway? Wikipedia doesn't help much except saying it's controversial.
One thing for sure, is that the movie isn't shy of perpetuating the
primitive people concept.

So is there a message in this movie? Maybe i think too much. Maybe it
is simply a visual treat of special effects and explosions. But you
can't help thinking how shallow it is, how it reinforces a simplistic
picture of Colonization and backwater savages trying to defend it. It
is a insult to anthropology educators.

Enjoyable Parts

I give this movie 6 out of 10. So, it's a bit above average. What i
liked is watching the weird-looking, feline-like humanoid alien race.
Of course, especially the female heroin. (Yeah, i'd totally do her.)
The exotic flora and fauna, based on exotic rain forest things, are
enjoyable to look at. The imagined bipedal mech, the vertical take off
chopper, are all well done. The final battle, i wouldn't say
spectacular, but still, enjoyable.

If you love sci-fi and is a movie-goer, yeah sure by all means go
watch it. If you watch movies just 4 times a year, then i'm not sure.

Wikipedia says with references, that the director acknowledged and
some critics thought this movie carries anti-imperialism message. But
i think, if anything, it is another black vs white, good vs evil, US-
American-justice driven, brainlessness, that is likely to do more harm
than good, as far as human animal's moral progress is concerned.
Suppose, after watching this movie, viewer came out persuaded by the
film and filled with the brainless zeal of JUSTICE. That IS American,
and is where the problem is.

Avatar movie trailer.

District 9


Watched movie District 9. Fantastic. Much better than Avatar. Both
movies are science fiction. Both involve aliens. Both have mechs. Both
involves human animals as a group needing to deal and interact with
alien animal. Both are successful, either by movie critics as well by
profit. However, the Avatar is the most stereotypical Hollywood
brainlessness. No intelligence, no content, no creativity, but plenty
of big expensive computer graphics and explosions. The District 9, is
just the opposite in every way. The aliens there are quite novel, and
i really loved them. They have distinct, idiosyncratic, character. The
mecha is also quite interesting, far more so than the one in Avatar.
The alien mecha, somehow is integrated biologically with the aliens,
and would puke, and when it being shot, hurts the alien inside too.
The computer graphics is so well done. The overall movie content,
unlike Avatar, doesn't contain some anti-this message or pro-that
message, but makes you think, about deep ugly human nature, african
history, history of race treatment. The only negative part about
District 9, i would say, is that the beginning 30 min is quite boring.

I'd give this movie a 9.

District 9 Official Trailer 2

Xah ∑

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question