Showing posts with label Dilbert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dilbert. Show all posts

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Marching in step

In French, the expression "noise of boots" (le bruit des bottes) evokes an obsession of Fascist dictators: the desire to transform their people into robots that march in step.


This theme of marching robots is developed in an Orwellian setting in Apple's celebrated 1984 video.


In the following fascinating video, we see a couple of dozen metronomes that start out by beating time in a totally chaotic manner. Then, they seem to get around to obeying an invisible Big Brother, and end up in unison. It appears to be mysterious, vaguely frightening... but there's an elementary scientific explanation for what has happened.


In a quite different domain, the trailer for the movie on Julian Assange is now available.


Benedict Cumberbatch's attempts at reproducing an Australian accent are quite amusing, but reasonably plausible. Meanwhile, there's an interesting interview of the real Assange:


Concerning the tribulations of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, this morning's Dilbert strip offers us an explicit allusion.


Dilbert's mum is a hilarious character. The government files "stolen" by Dilbert were in fact simply company databases generated by Dilbert's employer, which had then been ripped off stealthily by the government. So, Dilbert wasn't really stealing anything at all; he was merely recuperating data that had been created initially by his employer. To understand this setting, you need to consult the Dilbert daily strips over the last week.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Favorite Dilbert characters

The latest version of the Dilbert website contains a growing collection of short animated sequences, some of which are excellent.

Among all the characters invented by Scott Adams, one of my favorites is the brilliant garbage collector, who has solutions for all the great social and philosophical challenges that Dilbert brings along to him, as if the garbage collector were a universal consultant. My sympathy for this personage explains, no doubt, my interest in the newly-appointed premier of New South Wales, mentioned in my recent article entitled Musical chairs in Sydney [display].

Another character of whom I'm fond is Ratbert, whose voice is spot-on in the animation. Basically, Ratbert is nice in an empty-headed way, but he thinks of himself as a dignified creature who deserves more respect than what he currently receives. In this morning's animation, Ratbert makes an audacious resolution: "I've decided to be one of those guys who says whatever is on his mind." Ratbert sits down calmly on the bed, to see what's on his mind, so he can start saying it out loud. Meanwhile, Dilbert is getting ready to leave for work. Seeing Ratbert sitting in silence on the bed, Dilbert asks him: "Still nothing?" Ratbert appears to conclude with amazement that his mind must be a vacuum: "Boy, this is a real eye-opener." You should drop in on the Dilbert website [click Ratbert] to admire this delightful little sketch in animation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No need for talk

In a recent blog post, Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, wrote:

As most of you know, I draw a comic featuring a guy who inexplicably has no mouth, who lives with a cartoon dog that inexplicably has no mouth. And I end up with Spasmodic Dysphonia, a condition that prevents me from speaking.

I'm reminded of an anecdote back at the time, thirty years ago, when I was writing a tourist guidebook about Great Britain. I asked for permission to use a comic strip [display] I'd seen in Paris-Match drawn by the French cartoonist Pat Mallet, who happens to be a few months younger than me. The authorization came by return mail, and the letter included a personal phone number. So I decided to phone up Pat Mallet to thank him. A friendly male voice told me it was a pleasure to collaborate in a book about the folk on the other side of the English Channel (known, in French, as La Manche).

ME: For months, I've been faced with the daily task of finding words to describe Great Britain. In the case of your comic strip, I'm terribly impressed by your skill in describing a typical aspect of London without using any words whatsoever.

VOICE AT THE OTHER END OF THE LINE: I must point out that you're not speaking with Pat Mallet himself. I'm his father, and I handle his phone calls. Pat himself has been totally deaf since the age of nine, and unable to communicate by speech.

I love this wordless cover from a Pat Mallet album of 1985, published by Glénat, called Ainsi est la vie (Such is life):

This marvelous drawing of a poetic dog admiring the sunset from the parapet of a luxurious seaside restaurant, while all the humans are lost in conversation, is a perfect illustration of the frivolity (at times) of speech. [And there I've gone again, adding unnecessary words.]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Amazing song-writing experiment

The blog of Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) is a constant source of surprises.

Recently, Adams evoked the nonsensical nature of the lyrics of many popular songs, including those of the Beatles. He went on to suggest a collective experiment in song-writing. To start the ball rolling, Scott proposed two delightful lines of nonsense:

She had runaway eyes and marshmallow kittens.
My heart heard a dream like ten thousand mittens.

Then he asked his blog readers to submit similar couplets of amusing gibberish, to complete the lyrics for a song. Scott weeded through all the stuff that reached the blog in the form of comments, and ended up with plausible lyrics [display]. A few days later, a German group named Rivo Drei composed music for these lyrics, and recorded the song. As of today, there's even a music video:



Personally, I'm highly impressed by the style and outcome of this amazing song-writing experiment... even though it's imperfect. I'm convinced that it proves something, but I'm not quite sure what.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Influencing people

During my trip out to Australia last year, I was thrilled to receive an unexpected gift from my young sister Jill. In an outdoor market, probably in the vicinity of her home town of Woolgoolga, she had come upon a copy of a book that fascinated me when I was a teenager: Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. I was surprised that Jill, who's much younger than me, would have remembered that her brother had come in contact with Carnegie's famous book. Retrospectively, I imagine that my interest in this book stemmed from the fact that the very idea of trying deliberately to win friends and influence people was most exotic in the backwoods environment in which I had grown up, where quiet timidity, reticence and inhibition were our primary social qualities. My discovery of Carnegie's advice was akin to the parson's daughter opening stealthily a copy of Sex Manual for the Single Girl.

I've already pointed out in this blog [click here to see my Therapy post] that I'm an unconditional fan of the Dilbert comic strip, whose creator, Scott Adams, runs a marvelous blog. From time to time, Scott has alluded with enthusiasm to a book by Robert Cialdini, Influence — The Psychology of Persuasion, whose first edition appeared almost a quarter of a century ago.

Normally, these days, I'm no longer keen on this kind of psychological literature, since I've become more interested in science, computers and dogs than in people. But, based upon my assumption that anything that's good for the creator of Dilbert is good for me too, I ordered the revised edition from Amazon. It arrived yesterday, and my rapid reading confirms that this is indeed Dale Carnegie in overdrive: choice intellectual fodder, in fact a gourmet dinner, for a social critic such as Scott Adams. Cialdini's book is in the same heavyweight category as The Peter Principle. It reveals the ways in which smart individuals have unearthed rules of conduct enabling them to impose their will upon others, thereby achieving power of an economic, political or even religious kind.

If this blog were penned by an out-of-phase literary critic who waits a quarter of a century before deciding that a book deserves to be read, I would say that Cialdini's Influence is a must. In Carnegie's country, the cover says it's a National Bestseller. With a bit of time and perseverance, it could even become an international bestseller.