March 21, 2021

March 20, 2021

Prospect has that look, the industrial, aged, space junk of our 1980s future. There’s only three days left before this system is going to be abandoned by civilization, but there’s riches to be found on the surface first. We begin with Damon and his teenage daughter, Cee. Damon is a drug user, a hustler, and broke. Their pod is broke. He’s pushing to do this one last job in the small amount of time they have left.

They land on a lush forest world, the Green, whose air is full of a particulate dust that makes for a beautiful reflective haze over all things. We learn that Damon can remove a gem from dangerous, living deposits found in the Green, and although they quickly find one worth plenty to change Cee and Damon’s fortunes, it’s not enough. They’re in the Green because Damon has been hired by mercenaries to dig up a cache that will make everyone rich.

In comes Ezra (Pedro Pascale) and Number 2, also diggers in the Green who stumble upon Damon and make clear that life in the Green is not just dangerous because of the elements. Without getting too deep into spoilers, the remainder of the movie is 2 parts Western, 1 part survivalist, including meeting settlers and the mercenaries.

This movie does all the things I love about smaller sci-fi. It lets its characters live and act in the world authentically, not explaining every step of the way but instead just showing us what crude space living is. The tension is there— can they get back on time, will they get back with their bounty, and what will it take out of them— but so is plenty of time to appreciate the beauty of this world. The contrast of our Earthly, almost fairy-like forrest with the gas giant that dominates an open vista above, we get the best of first contact/colonist/new world space exploration alongside the Ridley Scott-like set design for all things industrial, including extensive use of simple machines with clean lines, dirty nylons, small single-purpose screens, ruggedized parts, and a foreign glyph for writing.

What can I say? I love Westerns and I love this kind of low budget sci-fi about a dirty, industrial, hard space. Prospect was a movie that was made for me.

Jason Becker

March 19, 2021

It feels strange to watch Call Me By Your Name post the revelations about Armie Hammer. I know why this movie was so acclaimed. The cinematography is magnificent. The setting, idyllic. I spent much of my time while watching this movie fantasizing about a world where you summer in a gorgeous Italian countryside home within a fruit orchard, swimming, riding your bike into town, reading, and playing music, without, of course, the internet.

I was drawn to a few scenes in particular. In our opening, as Oliver (Hammer) pulls up to the villa, he’s exhausted from jet lag and travel and collapses into bed in the late afternoon only to emerge the following morning. I found myself wistful for international travel, knowing that loopy feeling of a long flight with little sleep, walking out into a time that feels all wrong, in a brand new place that feels as foreign as it is. There’s something special about that tired first 24 hours in a new country. It’s a feeling I’ve missed in this long pandemic year.

When Elio (Timothée Chalamet) reveals his feelings to Oliver around a World War I memorial, the camera work is perfect. Looking up and down just like an unsure teenager’s head would bob around as they fearfully reveal a deep truth. Elio and Oliver are set across from each other, far apart as confessions are made, with the camera following their circling of the monument, allowing the monument to obscure them both just as they are out of sight with each other.

Overall, this movie is just too long. It’s well-paced, but it’s beauty cannot overcome the fact that I don’t feel the fear, or the heartbreak, or even the elation of the young love. I saw it, but I didn’t feel it, and so Call Me By Your Name was beautiful, but flat.

I wish there were more movies like this one, but I didn’t like this one very much.

Jason Becker

March 18, 2021

Look, testing this year is likely to be a disaster. The option to wait until the fall is an especially good one. But anyone who doubts there’s value in any testing happening should look to everyone who says that schools will be “overfunded” with the latest round of ESSER/ARP money.

They will be “overfunded” only in the sense that they have an actual increase in money to spend. A generation of students whose schooling has been interrupted and/or disrupted are going to need extra supports to get back on track, and that is going to take extra resources. Without the achievement data that shows this, the (largely right wing) commentariat are out in force to say that schools have too much money that they will surely waste.

Forget about extra expenses related to COVID-19 that have already occurred. There are new needed supports that require resources to make sure a generation of students get the education they deserve. Frankly, we weren’t doing that great on that measure before the pandemic.

Jason Becker

I have to say, the saga of Mission ImPASTAble on The Sporkful was a joy to listen to. Bought many boxes at the end.

Jason Becker

March 17, 2021

A late lunch deceives, you think, “Maybe I won’t eat dinner. Maybe I won’t get hungry, or I’ll just get a little hungry later.”

Then it’s 8 PM and your body says, “I still want your normal calorie intake, you lump.”

Jason Becker

March 16, 2021

The internet has fun communities that find empowerment in their neurodivergences, but there’s no community for me, guy who routinely forgets basic facts about the people I care about, forgets things that have happened to me, and is generally oblivious.

Jason Becker

March 15, 2021

The most douchey white guy techie thing I’ve ever done just happened. I realized that because of people being dumb, the free Stellar Lumens I got from KeyBase were worth over $500. So I sold them and used the money (minus withholdings) to invest in Gumroad and Backstage Capital.

Jason Becker

March 14, 2021

The three best music videos of all time, in no particular order are:

  1. Knights of Cydonia by Muse
  2. Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  3. Judith by A Perfect Circle
Jason Becker

News of the end of didn’t really surprise me. I thought, “Yes, this is a great example of trying to have all the advantages of the VC label and the Indie label and it’s going to match no one’s pattern and may not even make sense.” But this week, with more of the results and challenges revealed, I have swapped to the same disappointment others have expressed.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned working at a start up, it’s that our capital markets are an irrational mess, and successful more by chance than strategy.

As I shared this frustration with a friend and LP, they replied “you’re playing a value hand in a growth game”. They were absolutely right. The way the startup game is played, even compelling fundamentals take a distant back seat to how much money companies are raising, at what valuation they are raising it, and which top-tier firm is leading the raise. This is not a knock; rather, an acknowledgment that those are the rules. I tried to play by a different set of rules and got burned.

I’m sorry– this is should be a knock. We’d have a better, richer world [^richer] if we could get the capital markets to play a value hand rather than the illusory growth hand every single time. The growth hand only works for a small number of investors with a small number of companies focused narrowly on a particular type of problem and solution.

[^richer}: By which I mean we’d have better products, solving real problems, from people other than white Stanford dropouts.

Jason Becker

I’ve decided I like my burgers to be 6oz, with two pickles. Add charred onions, cheese, ketchup, and hoagie spread hot peppers.

A delicious homemade burger.
Jason Becker

The Child Tax Credit changes in ARP are great, but Romney’s plan was probably better, and we should be working right now to make this a permanent cash transfer for American families.

Jason Becker

Japanese zoning is so sensible. I wish America was as obsessed with government doing a good job as it is with local control, i.e. <10% of eligible voters selecting local busybodies to exercise absurd authority over other people.

Jason Becker

Fear and backlash about cancel culture comes from cis white men, because the thing they sacrifice to be on the internet is the right to make mistakes. And that does suck, because making mistakes is a part of learning and normal. But also, everyone else sacrifices so much more.

Jason Becker

Every time I remove my huge scleral lenses with a literal plunger from my eyes I think, “Some people can just see without this shit.”

Jason Becker

March 13, 2021

I decided it’s summer and rode my bike to the grocery store and made this bounty on the grill.

Rainbow trout, charred cabbage, tomato salad, charred sourdough, and chorizo sausage.
Jason Becker

Cherry was almost certainly a better book than a movie. It’s told in parts, including an epilogue, and it feels rushed in film. Do all the essential notes of a complex story of young love, war, poverty and PTSD, self-destruction, and reemergence get hit? Yes. But it ends up feeling like many movies I’ve seen before put together in one place, each executed well, but with the whole just coming up feeling a bit dull.

There’s nothing dull about Tom Holland or Ciara Bravo, who are electrifying together and apart. At the start of the movie, I felt like their love and the point of view of Cherry (Tom Holland) was too obsessed with the male gaze and a fucked up version of masculinity that I’m just over with. But I came to really enjoy their relationship, for all its toxicity, and was wrapped up in their life and their struggle. It was a bit hard for me to believe everything about them, adorable as it was, prior to Cherry going off to war, but once he returns, their relationship becomes the most real thing in the film.

I’m glad to see Tom Holland in a different light, but I already liked him. Ciara Bravo is new to me, and I hope I will see her for a long time. She seamlessly transitioned from an adept, if tired, manic pixie dream girl to trying to be supportive wife to full on heroin addict. Each transition is only one scene, and if it weren’t executed with her considerable skill, it would have broken the film.

Jason Becker