Author Archives: Philip Berne

By day, Philip Berne works for a major mobile technology manufacturer. At night, he dons his Batman cape and cowl, pours himself a dram, and sits in a dark room contemplating the intersection of culture and technology. His opinions were originally his own, but have since been digitally enhanced by George Lucas.

Movie Review – Tron: Legacy

Movie Review – Tron: Legacy

Driving home from the midnight screening of Tron: Legacy, I realized that I should have been disappointed by the movie. It's very difficult to leave Tron and drive home on a deserted highway at 2:30 AM, with the streetlights stretching out before you and the waxing moon rising in the west, and not push the accelerator far in excess of the speed limit. I kept checking behind me to see if I was leaving a trail. Also, looking out for cops. No on both counts.

Continue Reading...

Why TIME Got It Right

Why TIME Got It Right

In a controversial move, TIME magazine declared Mark Zuckerberg its Person of the Year. Only TIME magazine can do something controversial by avoiding controversy. I'm speaking, of course, of the more obvious pick for Person of the Year, Julian Assange. With the WikiLeaks dump still fresh and flowing, there is certainly an argument to make that Assange had more effect on the world than Zuckerberg. But I think that Time magazine got this one right.

Continue Reading...

Five 80s Tech Movies That Deserve a Refresh

Five 80s Tech Movies That Deserve a Refresh

With Tron: Legacy rebooting the aging 80s sci-fi film, I started thinking about other movies from the 1980s that could use a refresh, if not a long-awaited sequel. These were usually a mix of fantasy and technology, some with a vision of the future, and others with a bent perspective on what was technologically possible. None of these have ever had a feature film sequel, though there may have been occasional TV spin-offs and such. Here's my list, in no particular order.

Continue Reading...

Movie Review: Tron (1982)

Movie Review: Tron (1982)

In the run-up to the new Tron sequel, which opens nationwide this Friday, I decided to dust off my old copy of the original 1982 film to see what I'd forgotten, and to determine if the original movie still holds up after almost 30 years. In some ways, the original was groundbreaking. It was infamously excluded from Oscar consideration for the best visual effects category because the use of computer animation was considered cheating. But in many ways Tron is quite derivative of some of the more popular sci-fi movies of its age, most notably the Star Wars movies that had been released by then. Still, it's a fun film to watch, and it offers an interesting preview into what the new sequel might hold.

Continue Reading...

Time To Buy a Blu-Ray

Time To Buy a Blu-Ray

Consider this my official holiday gift guide column. I'm not going to do a round-up of all my favorite gift ideas. I'm not going to recommend which phone you should buy, which laptop, which Lexus, or whatever. There are plenty of great gift guides to tell you all that (and I've even worked on some of those, myself). I'm not even going to recommend a specific product. I'm just going to tell you to buy a Blu-Ray player. I don't really know which one to buy, and I don't even have one myself. But it's become the number one item on my list, and it should be for you, too.

Continue Reading...

Movie Review: Black Swan

Movie Review: Black Swan

For fans of Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan engages some of the director's best tropes. It is thankfully more Pi than The Wrestler, more Requiem for a Dream than The Fountain. Throughout the movie, I had the vague feeling that I should be bored by what I was seeing, but instead I was constantly engaged. Even some of the mundane and tired aspects of this genre felt fresh and new under the hand of Aronofsky and the panicked eye of Natalie Portman.

Continue Reading...

A Cartoonish Way to Prevent Cruelty

A Cartoonish Way to Prevent Cruelty

In graduate school, I mostly studied –isms. Feminism. Marxism. Racism. I got a Master's degree in Cultural Theory, which is sort of an intersection between philosophy and deep analysis of English literature. Mostly, I read philosophers who talked about literature and wanted to change the world. When I started my course of study, I thought I would get a PhD. I thought I would become a professor. But over the course of two years of graduate study, I realized that all we were doing was reading and talking. The authors we read were writing mostly in terms so abstract that you could hardly divine what they were talking about, let alone what they wanted to accomplish. It seemed a terrible way to change the world, talking but not doing anything. So, I left.

Continue Reading...

Twitter Power and the Hobby Lobby

Twitter Power and the Hobby Lobby

Yesterday an old friend posted on Facebook: "XXX dislikes craft stores (and all stores for that matter) that say, "no nothing Hannukah in here - we are a Christian store. We only celebrate Christmas." Nice." How old is this friend? I used to babysit her and her brother when they were kids. She still lives in our hometown, Columbia, Md. Columbia is a fantastic place to grow up. It is often rated one of the best cities in which one could live, along with neighboring Ellicott City. Columbia is a planned city, and a progressive city. It is zoned to be integrated, in terms of socio-economics, and most schools have a racial and religious mix that is far more diverse than the rest of the country. It is the sort of place I'd like to raise my own children, and the open-minded upbringing I had in Columbia certainly shaped my worldview for the rest of my life.

Continue Reading...

The Freedom of WikiSpeech

The Freedom of WikiSpeech

I've had a lot of trouble wrapping my mind around the whole WikiLeaks affair. My first instinct was conservative, to say the least, and perhaps even jingoistic. I agreed with the sentiment that WikiLeaks, and its founder Julian Assange, was directly attacking the U.S. I hadn't felt this way about the previous WikiLeaks revelations, but something about this recent information dump struck me differently. In the past, the revelations had always been about the wars the U.S. is fighting abroad. I have some complicated views on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I won't get into them here. But regardless of whether you are in favor of continuing the fighting abroad or withdrawing all of our troops, I think we can all agree that war is the most dire situation in which a country can find itself. It's not a decision to be made lightly, or ignorantly. That is why I was supportive of previous WikiLeaks actions. Americans should know the truth about the wars we are fighting, and that means the entire truth.

Continue Reading...

Happy Birthday To You Who Won’t Read This

Happy Birthday To You Who Won’t Read This

Today is my wife's birthday. She isn't sentimental about birthdays or most holidays, so I won't get in trouble for not remembering to wish her a happy birthday before she ran out the door, rushing to get our son to pre-school on time. I'll probably get in trouble for how much I spent on her present. She asked for a spa day. A massage and a facial. I'll never understand why women like to get their faces poked at as a gift, but she doesn't understand why I sit in front of the television twiddling my thumbs for hours at a time.

Continue Reading...

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17