Thursday, 1 August 2002

Jazz, Minority Report and long-term wagers

Listening to:

Ella Fitzgerald singing Just squeeze me, on the album Ella Fitzgerald day dream: best of the Duke Ellington songbook. Apparently a recent American TV series about jazz reckoned that Louis Armstrong was jazz’s Bach, and Duke Ellington was its Mozart. I can’t remember who got to be Beethoven. As the account I was reading pointed out, this is a neat metaphor, but it breaks a little when one realises that Louis Armstrong was alive for about two thirds of all of jazz’s history. Bach lived a long time, but he didn’t manage to do quite that well!

A recent movie:

I saw Minority report last night. I was quite impressed. The plotting was pretty good, and the extrapolations built on top of the sci-fi background didn’t seem too ridiculous. Some of the cinematography was quite stunning too. Philip K. Dick wrote the short story that the film is based on, and it’s his title. I haven’t read the story, but in the film, the fact that minority reports are possible isn’t actually that significant (it doesn’t happen at all that we see, though the possibility that it might have does motivate the hero).

I never used to take bets. One particular friend was always keen to brow-beat by saying things like “Bet you five bucks that X”. I’d always decline the bet, while still maintaining that I was right, and that he was wrong of course. More recently, however, I’ve amused myself by making wagers based on predictions of how the world will be in some number of years. These haven’t even had a stake decided, but I'm intrigued by the possibility of being in a position to write them down, and come back to check on them. Lots of futurology makes crap predictions that are never checked up on, so I don’t want to be all mouth and no trousers.

So, here it is, my long-term wager book. You’ll have to trust that I won’t alter it to make my predictions come out OK.

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