Friday, October 20, 2017

"Why We Built a Cat House"

“Why We Built a Cat House”, by Ministeading.

A young man, apparently in Minnesota, explains how his family captures and neuters cats and releases them.  They defend the territory and reduce the population of wild cats.

But the family built them a house for shelter and gives them about have their needed calories, and lets them hunt for the rest.  The cats tend to bond to them and remember them and return. 
  Why We 

But in South Africa, even larger cats (servals, cheetahs and even sometimes leopards) will behave this way. 

By David Shankbone - David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Weinstein scandal, bad for indie films

The Harvey Weinstein scandal certainly has rocked the movie world, as for how far back it goes, how many women were allegedly abused.

Does the scandal undermine the continued future of TWC, The Weinstein Company, which succeeded Miramax (the remains of the day, so to speak, went to Disney). 

In the long run, this not a good development for independent film.

 Some younger women are saying that he was an "older, unattractive man" only interested in youth. Like a straight Oscar Wilde. There are also reports that he could undermine the careers of women who complained. 
Here is the New Yorker story from October 10, 2017 by Ronan Farrow. 

Oliver Stone reportedly said let's be patient in judging Weinstein, MSN story

Oct. 14: Update:  Harvey has been expelled from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, link here

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Black Holes: The Arks of the Universe": Can you live inside one, where no one can ever find you?

Life Under a Black Sun” narrated by Jack Daniel of Strange Mysteries, examines the idea (proposed in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”, Nov. 2014), that a planet could revolve around a black hole and derive life from the energy difference between the cold black hoke and the ambient cosmic radiation.

In a supplementary video (3 min) for Patreon subscribers, "Black Holes: The Arks of the Universe",  Daniels explores the idea that solar systems could exist inside a black hole, shielded from normal existence, revolving around the singularity at he center.  he video also shows what a Dyson Sphere around a black hole might look like.

The universe will be kaput in a few hundred trillion years.

If you look inside a black hole, you might fall in.  Be careful.  
By Tetra quark - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Sunday, October 08, 2017

"Brokeback Mountain": a brief retrospect

I wanted to recognize here one of the most important LGBT films of all time, that was the 2005 nominee for best picture, “Brokeback Mountain”, directed by Ang Lee. (Focus Features)  it's based on a novella by Annie Proulx. 
In 1963, two young men go to work in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming as sheep herders, complete with horse and bedrolls.  The get to know each other pretty quickly, and twenty minutes into the movie, passions erupt.

Later, Jake Gyllenhaal’s character will utter the famous line, “I wish I could quit you” – a monument to upward affiliation (not, as a reviewer said about my own book, a “monument to convolution”). With t  Heath’s character is married with a kid, and eventually the wife (Michelle Williams) observes them together back in Texas, and he winds up a single dad.

With the stunning scenery, I wondered why Lee stuck with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
I saw this at Landmark’s Bethesda Row on a Sunday night, and shows were indeed selling out. 
By Montanabw - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Saturday, October 07, 2017

"The Bachelor" warns people who inherit wealth about "the dead hand"

This is a good time to recall the 1999 satire of family values, “The Bachelor”, by Gary Sinyor, from New Line Cinema, based on a play by Roy Megrue Cooper in turn based in a 1925 play “Seven Chances” by Jean Havez.

Chris O’Donnell, looking less than a real man in the bod realm, finds himself, as he approaches 30, compelled to get married, procreate, and stay married and stay home for ten years to get an inheritance.  Talk about “the dead hand”.  There is even a moral lecture about sacrificing the self for future generations.

It used to be more common for recipients of inheritances to be required to get married and produce kids than it is now;  in fact we rarely hear about this today. But the film is a warning that inherited wealth can come with real strings attached. 

It's more common that unmarried or childless people have to raise grandchildren or siblings' children ("Raising Helen"). 
This has nothing to do with the 2002 indie film of the same name by Mike Fleiss, about serial dating, which I have not seen.

See an earlier very brief summary on Sept. 19, 2007. 
I have read a screenplay set in Minnesota called “I Hate Speed-Dating.”  Wonder if it will get made.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

"Will Sirius B Supernova Destroy Earth"? (Patreon)

Anton Petrov in “What a Math” for Patreon asks “Will Sirius B Supernova Destroy Earth?”

Sirius B is a White Dwarf rotating around Sirius A, the Dog Star, the brightest star in the sky, 8.3 light years away.  If Sirius A got large enough, Sirius B might acquire enough mass to blow up as a supernova.

On Earth the sky would brighten, but the atmosphere of Earth would be fried away by radiation in about 70 years.  Think of it as a really super solar storm.

But Sirius A really won’t enlarge enough to make Sirius B gain mass any time soon. We’ll die of the usual things first. 
By NASA/SAO/CXC - CHANDRA X-ray Observatory CXC Operated for NASA by SAO, url=, Public Domain, Link

Sunday, October 01, 2017

"Chicken Little": Disney animated film has surprising warning about online reputation pre-Facebook

I thought I would re-visit my old review of the animated Disney 3-D film, “Chicken Little”, written and directed by Mark Dindal in 2005.  I remember seeing it at the old National Entertainment complex in Merrifield before it was torn down to build the Angelica Mosaic complex (centered around the new Target, with huge apartment complexes).

In the film, Chicken Little (voice of Zach Braff) gets hit by an acorn falling from a tree. When he posts that the sky is falling on the Internet, it goes viral (from Google, in the pre-Facebook days) and his online reputation suffers, as does his family’s.  Chicken little redeems himself in a baseball game by hitting a pop fly that goes for an inside the park home run when the opposing team falls asleep out of lack of respect for him.

What a lesson in how (not) to draw attention to yourself with passive marketing.

In the Army, at Fort Eustis, they called me “Chicken Man.” 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"The Backpage Case and CDA 230" and "Section 230 Exceptions"

Raines Feldman Cyber Liability with “The Usual Suspects”:, present “The Backpage Case and CDA 230”.  

This was actually a criminal case that got to the California Supreme Court.

This is user-generated content – but is Backpage allowing the illegality “knowingly”?

They also talk about Airbnb’s use of Section 230.  

They talk about the owners of the “tools of criminality” not being liable if there are legitimate uses of what they sell (WhatsApp);   Somehow this reminds me of Paladin and "Hit Man" in the 1990s. 

Also watch Brad Thomson discussion “Section 230 Exceptions”, which are four in number.  He presents two important cases.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

"What Would Happen If You Fell into Jupiter?"

What Would Happen If You Fell Into Jupiter”, from Patreon’s “Answers with Joe” series.

Joe starts out with footage from the May 3, 1999 tornado inMoore, OK, which produced winds of 318 mph. 

That’s a typical wind speed high in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

After you pass the ammonia ice layers, you are in hydrogen that gets thicker and hotter, and pretty soon you are fried and crushed to death.  That’s not to mention dealing with the magnetic fields or “Van Allen” belts. 

Joe then explains the supercritical state of matter, between gas and liquid, before metallic hydrogen is reached.

Joe's comment about Van Allen belts is interesting because there has been recent literature suggesting an EMP attack (as from North Korea) could affect the Earth's Vam Allen belts (Australian source).  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Pay It Forward": recent project by Jon Bon Jovi recalls the 2000 movie

CNN on Saturday morning ran a story about Jon Bon Jovi’s soul kitchen in Philadelphia with a “pay it forward” option for diners, and sweat equity for the needy.  It sounds like a worth project for someone with the social initiative to set it up, CNN story here.

That reminds me of the 2000 film “Pay It Forward”, from Warner Brothers, directed by Mimi Leder, based on the novel by Catherine Ryan-Hide.

A social studies teacher Eugene Sisomert played by Kevin Spacey comes up with the idea to challenge his students, especially Trevor McKinney (Trevor Joel Osment) to do something to make the world better. Specifically the plan should really help people with things they can’t do for themselves, but that requires them to extend cooperation with others.

The first beneficiaries include an alcoholic mother (Helen Hunt) and a drug addict (James Cavaziel).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Video: "Homosexuality: it's About Survival, not Sex"

I’ll let this Ted Talk (or “Ted Tallaght”) video shared by Don Kilhefner, “Gay Tribal Elder”, count as a movie.  (Maybe, as in the Minnesota comedy “Great Lakes” James Byrne), it counts as a job interview.)

James O’Keefe (17 minutes) explains “Homosexuality: It’s About Survival, not Sex”. 
O’Keefe explains the well known epigenetic mechanism that raises the probability that a son will be gay by 30% with each successive son after the first from the same mother.  This is partly a measure of population control.  It also provides an altruistic backup, that will help raise the other children and provide more personality variety for the entire tribe.  He compares this to social ants. The queen controls the personalities of workers by the way she treat the eggs, to get various kinds of traits.

O’Keefe talks about heterosexism and “second class citizenship”.  But his theory would tend to demand that a gay person stay home around the family as a spare caregiver rather than establish his separate independent interaction with the outer world.  My own experience is that it is difficult for me to get involved with the physicality of other people's lives if I didn't have my own kids (social capital) but I'm an unusual case as an only child. 

O’keefe looks at men but says the theory would work the same with women.
The theory would really work with sibling transplants, as with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America recently. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

"4th Generation Nuclear Weapons": and these could matter right now

“EnigmaHood” gives us a 15-minute video “4th Generation Nuclear Weapons

The weapon with the spinning top from “Inception” in fact has an anti-matter trigger.  The basic concept is to replace fission triggers for the thermonuclear fusion, and anti-matter triggers would allow for extreme miniaturization (beyond even the “suitcase nukes” widely speculated after 9/11).
The  presentation gives a history of all generations of nuclear weapons, including 3rd (neutron and cobalt weapons). 

It’s possible that bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons could be used against North Korean missile sites, or so it would sound from this video. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"The Blacklist: How an Underground Script List Changed Movies"

The Blacklist: How an Underground Script List Changed Movies”, a seven-minute short by Vox, explains The Blacklist.  No, that’s not the Blacklist that trapped Dalton Trumbo, nor is it the NBC series with Kevin Spacey.  This is a list of scripts, submitted to WGA (the Writer’s Guild West”) that have gone unnoticed, but occasionally somebody bothers to read some of them. 

Mel Gibson picks up “The Beaver”, a 2011 comedy by Kyle Killen, whose script had appeared on this “list”.

Other films that came from the Blacklist include “Argo” (Oct. 14, 2012) and “Juno” (2007).

You can look at some of Kyle’s blog posts, such as one in 2008 about the Blacklist and another one about personal embarrassment in Austin.

I have one script at WGA, a horror sci-fi script "Baltimore Is Missing" (2002), which means literally that.  A wormhole (caused by a rogue brown dwarf approaching the Solar System) consumes an Amtrak train approaching Baltimore as the protagonists (me) find themselves to be puppets in someone else's model railroad layout.  There's even a straight marriage of some sort, maybe something that would have satisfied Babbitt.  And there's one Wal-Mart in the layout.  Familiarity breeds contempt. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hillary Clinton Interview Movie by Vox Media ("What Happened") .

Call this a movie if you like (51 minutes).

Ezra Klein of Vox media interviews Hillary Clinton about her book ("What Happened") which I will be reviewing on Wordpress soon.

Hillary talks about universal basic income in the beginning.

Later she says that the hard right wants a constitutional convention to make the government friendlier to business and to inculcate come elements of Christianity into public life, possibly to clamp down on gay rights (by inference).

She sticks to her guns on universal health care coverage.

She talks about the ironies of the Medicaid expansion and the Supreme Court's sabotage of it.

Hillary also mentioned Trump's playing the "zero sum game card", where Trump's base of supporters believe that advances by non-white or non-straight or non-male people came at their expropriated expense. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

"Gliese 710: The Star that Will Enter our Solar System"

Gliese 710: The Star that will Enter our Solar System”, by Anton Petrov, of What Da Math, presents a video diagram of the path of this star, a bit smaller than the Sun, that will pass less than one light year (actually 77 light days) from the Sun and Earth in about 1.35 million years.

The star would pass through the Earth’s Oort Cloud  and could deflect comets and asteroids, causing Tunguska like events (like the explosion over Siberia in 1908). The star could bring its own planets and Oort Cloud.  It would not approach closely enough to raise the temperature on Earth.

Wikipedia attribution link for Oort cloud diagram 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Can Jupiter Ever Become a Star?"

“Can Jupiter Ever Become a Star?”, short film by Anton Petrov.

60 masses would make a brown dwarf, which would be smaller in volume but denser.  It takes 78 masses to make a red dwarf star.

What’s more interesting is to wonder what Jupiter’s hydrogen ocean would “look like”, or, for that matter its layer of metallic hydrogen.

Remember how in “2010” Jupiter turns into a star. Not possible.  (See also July 30 post.) 

Wikipedia attribution link, NASA, p.d. 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

"The Atomic Cafe": get ready to "duck and cover" again

With all the furor over North Korea, maybe this is an opportune time to recall the film “The Atomic Café” (1982), directed by Jayne Loader, Kevim Rafferty and Pierce Rafferty.  I remember seeing the film in Dallas in the 1980s at the Inwood Theater on Mockingbird Lane.

The documentary (86 min) is a collage of news reels, old aspect, black and white, about surviving a world of mutually assured destruction, particularly the inadequate and laughable “duck and cover” drills underneath desks in grade schools.

And, oh yes, there is a café somewhere in New Mexico called this.
The film seems to belong to Journeyman Pictures;  it originally came from Libra Films.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

"Mars One Way": five people who would enter their afterlives early

Would You Go to Mars If You Could Never Come Back to Earth”?  (short title “Mars One Way”), from Vita Brevis Films and NatGeo. 

Well, not if you have kids.  Once you go, you’re already in your afterlife.  One female would-be astronaut says she still has ten years to live it up, but then that last day here comes. 
But if you’re special (not just different) you might well go. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Black Lives Matter Has a List of Demands for White People": video critique of Helm's "manifesto"

Black Lives Matter Has a List of Demands from White People” by Red Pill Black (Candace Orens), Channelle Helm.

The speaker does not support Chenelle’s demands for generational reparations. The speaker gives her own critique at the end of the film.

But if you read them (Breitbart article or Leoweekly manifesto) they’re pretty shocking.  People who inherit homes they don’t live in should give them to families of color.  People without descendants should also will their homes to non-white families.  She says white people can make back their money because of inherited privilege.

I do remember how the People’s Party of New Jersey back in 1972 wanted to get rid of inherited wealth (“heiristocracy”). 

I do think that privilege comes with responsibilities, but I don’t see it as parceled along lines of color or any group identity.

See "Dear White People" here on 2014/11/4.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"The Nuclear Requiem": 70 years of nuclear weapons

Robert E. Frye’s film, “The Nuclear Requiem: The Nuclear World Project” (2016), originally 90 minutes, was shown tonight in abridged 56-minute format tonight on PBS Maryland Public Television in Annapolis.

The film summarizes the history of nuclear weapons starting with the Trinity test in 1945, over 70 years ago.  The son of a survivor from Hiroshima describes the event and the burns from radiation.

The film moves through the Cold War, with Russia and China, and barely mentions the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It eventually cover’s Reagan’s approach to Gorbachev to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Later it mentions the possibility of terrorists making dirty bombs, and then covers the recent history (up to 2015) of North Korea’s building nuclear weapons and missiles. 

The music is by Alain Kremski.

The official site is here

Sunday, August 27, 2017

"Alien Megastructure Around Tabby's Star": maybe this really is a ringed Dyson Sphere

Alien Megastructure Around Tabby’s Star”, by Suspect Sky.(10 min)

The speaker, who is very articulate, argues that the comet swarm and debris theories are unlikely to account for 22% dimming at irregular intervals.  A ringed partial Dyson Sphere could account for it.  Imagine a hotel room on one of the rings, with artificial gravity.  But it would take 1400 years for your Facebook post to arrive back on Earth.

The speaker also explains Dyson swarms, which would cover many stars in a galaxy, and speculates on Civilization types, one of which might have swarmed out a whole area of galaxies leaving “Fuyt’s Void”.

Here’s a good article on Futurism as to Humanity’s capabilities.

NASA Bernal Sphere colony illustration, public domain, wki.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"My Life in North Korea v. South Korea" by Jacob Laukaitis

"My Life in North Korea v. South Korea", is a stunning video (15 minutes) by  23-year old filmmaker JacobLaukaitis, who speaks to the audience (English) in a very slight accent (sounds German).

Jacob tours modern life in free, capitalist South Korea after giving a brief history lesson of the country, especially the 1950-1953 Korean War.  He tours super modern Seoul, rides a bullet train, and hikes in fog-shrouded mountains.  Sometimes he rides on a motorcycle with a local friend (I don’t recommend riding between lanes anywhere).  He often intersperses pictures from the South.

Then I found his earlier film “My Daily Life in North Korea (7 Day Mystery Trip)” (link) which he took apparently in late 2016.  He had fallen off a bike in Vietnam and had a left arm in a cast.  He explains how the tour is closely guided and activities are supervised, as “the proles” put on shows for visitors behaving in unison like zombies worshipping Kim Jong Un. There is a unison musical performance, a film (remember “The Flower Girl”, which I saw in New York City in 1974 at Washington Square Methodist Church)  He rides one roller coaster in Pyongyang. He also stays in the notorious island hotel where Otto Warmbier had stayed, and he briefly gives the tragic history of Warmbier’s supposed “crime” (photo proof seems questionable), imprisonment, coma and death.  The forbidden fifth floor had housed the DPRK police.

He also gives the narrative of one man who was smuggled to China and worked as a peasant for 3 years before being able to come to South Korea.

Americans can no longer visit North Korea as tourists (as of Sept. 1).
These are technically outstanding videos, recently published, and ought to be shown in film festivals.  I don't know how he got a cameraman do do all those shots legally in North Korea.  

Jacob's second film does seem to be a kind-hearted warning to the US that it would put all of South Korea of into a target to be ravaged by war should Trump strike North Korea pre-emptively.

He seems to be a filmmaker to watch, very aware of the politics and people both.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of train at Incheon by Minsoeng Kim under CCSA 4/0 

Monday, August 21, 2017

"MILO Meets James Damore" turns out to be a real feature movie

MILO Meets James Damore, Author of the Google Memo” turns out to be a nice 62-minute interview film. I am reminded of "My Dinner with Andre".  

Milo does most of the talking.  Damore’s answers tend to be brief.  Both have an appealing physical presence for the interview, which I believe was shot in a New York City hotel.

Very early Milo talks about punditry and his own role as a provocateur.  Some people give their opinions for a living. That is what I am trying to do in retirement (or, as in a baseball game, “in relief”). 

Toward the end, Milo asks if tech companies (starting by kicking off Daily Stormer) are going to “snitch” on politically incorrect pundits and try to drive them off.  Milo says that that now speakers have to “pay their dues to the social justice industry.” 

The interview explains how Damore’s “manifesto” was stripped of some of its references before its circulation on the web, to make it appear more prejudiced (when it is not).

Milo also said that Google search results are biased deliberately toward diversity when presenting people, rather than by mere notability (as Wikipedia defines the idea).

Milo also explored the idea that Trump won the election because the “elitist” Left kept trying to drag everyone into its own bubble.  He noted that many Republican voters live in rural areas and are less interested in tech and live the way we did before the Internet. 

The tone of the remarks in the interview tended to resemble those of my third “Do Ask Do Tell” book, especially the “Epilogue” of the non-fiction part.  I tend to see the right to be heard in terms of individualized karma, not in terms of (an oppressed) group membership.

Where will Danore go to work?  Wikileaks?  Breitbart?  Will Milo be invited back to Breitbart now that Bannon has returned? 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

"Washington Fiddles While a Debt Ceiling Crisis Looms": video consists mostly of charts -- but Sept. 29, 2017 can be doomsday

Washington Fiddles While a Debt-Ceiling Crisis Looms”, posted by Manec074 in mid-July 2017, warns about the current looming deadline on Congress’s raising the debt ceiling, by Friday, September 29, 2017.

To say the least, the Trump Administration is completely distracted.  Steve Mnuchin, the current Treasury secretary, has been pressured to resign by his Yale crowd over Trump’s recent insensitivity on race.  Mnuchin has argued that Congress should get this done without a partisan poltical fight or bickering.
There is another rambling video by Alice Lake that goes into this, but tangentially.  Interesting here is the discussion of housing costs in San Francisco, where workers pay $1900 a month to live in communal bunk-bed housing, almost like in China.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Did Political Correctness Cause Fascism in the US?" looks at "Kill All Normies" and "Capitalist Realism"

“Did Political Correctness Cause Fascism in the US?” by Zero Books, challenges a view that Angela Nagle’s “Kill All Normies” makes such a claim.  It does get into the idea that modernity leaves a lot of young men behind as individuals, so some will try to look to authoritarian structures to give meaning and make everybody play.

The short film presents a clip from “West Side Story” and then presents the arguments from Mark Fisher’s “Capitalist Realism”.  Finally, it talks about realism in turns of the two sides of a spinning coin as a whole, rather like the thimble in “Inception”. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Titan: Possibility of Life" and it may be vaguely like earthly jellyfish

Titan: Possibility of Life” is an engaging 2017 documentary (43 minutes) by Aerospace Engineering.

The film shows the internal structure of Titan which, like Europa, has am underwater ocean. But the now famous thick atmosphere, with a surface of lakes and mountains that can erupt with ammonia water, is explained by violence in the Solar System about 4 billion years as outer planet orbits expanded, throwing a lot of objects into the atmosphere of Titan (as well as Earth).

The chemistry of the atmosphere is explained, as an organic chemistry lesson.  A post-doc fellow proposes how protein chains could develop and organize themselves into a helix similar to DNA.  
Then a proposal for metabolism is suggested, where energy is released by hydrogen reacting with acetylene. Indeed, there are studies suggest this chemistry might enclose a cellular structure.  One scientist suggests that life forms on Titan might be like large sheets of paper with little suckers to get food from the environment, maybe analogous a little bit to jellyfish on Earth (not exactly “Free Fish).

The film presents a lake of host asphalt in Trinidad that may 

NASA picture of Titan's structure, Wikipedia link

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"Unbelievably Strange Planets in Space" include Titan

Unbelievably Strange Planets in Space” by Ridddle, starts out by exploring some very hot planets, including a couple where it rains glass, and where winds are many multiples of the speed of sound. 

It explores some hot Jupiters, and planets with multiple suns, and a planet around a blue giant, before it suddenly switches gears and looks at the practice of “BARE” air surfing, and then imagines moving to Titan.

In a reducing atmosphere, acetylene would be the fuel of choice, and cities or space stations might float in the thick atmosphere because of low gravity (1/7 of Earth).  But it also proposes a rail transit system.

Actually, it might be possible to building floating cities around Venus, because 30 miles altitude the temperatures are Earth-like.  Get over surface-ism.

Wikipedia link for NASA p.d. chart of Kepler exoplanets. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

"Mysterious Activity on Saturn's Moon Titan": group claims military-style building spotted on surface

SecureTeam10 presents "Mysterious Activity on Saturn’s Moon Titan" (10 min)

The film shows a small isthmus in Titan’s second largest methane lake, which disappears and reappears.

Later (at 7:36) the film shows what looks like man-made military buildings, square shaped, on one of the plains near a lake, claiming aliens built them, and then it shows images of cylindrical UFO’s called “RingMakers” around Saturn.

Astronomers have found vinyl cyanide on Titan, which is capable of making cell membranes, as explained here in Popular Mechanics.

Russians claim to have made an artificial cell which can self-replicate with this kind of membrane and various other methyl compounds (like crystal meth) without water.

The video mentions the film “Oblivion” (4/23/2013) as where Earthlings fled to.

Wikipedia attribution link for Titan-Earth Polar Clouds, p.d., NASA 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Is VidAngel Legal?" I think this does belong in DC Shorts

"Is VidAngel Legal?" is indeed an interesting meta-short film "about" legal skullduggery in Hollywood.

Here is the company's own version of the legal fight with Hollywood.

The narrative involves a "secret" contract in Hollywood to block all user filtering, which was apparently discovered by North Korea's Sony Pictures hack;  there followed Congress's "Family Movie Act" which tried to make the service (for parents to filter objectionable content from movies) legal.

See also my "filering Internet content" blog for coordinated post (see Blogger profile). It's conceivable that VidAngel's legal issues could become relevant in the fight against Section 230 motivated by the Backpage controversy.  

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

"Where Your Cat Goes May Blow Your Mind" from NatGeo, from North Carolina

Where Your Cat Goes May Blow Your Mind”, from National Geographic, is a short film documenting a cat-tracking project in North Carolina among cat owners who allow cats to roam.

The idea is to assess the effect of the cats on wildlife.

When owners went away for one weekend, the cat navigated toward a house he used to live in a mile away, and returned when the owners returned. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

"Jack Andraka: The Hidden Innovator" talks about bullying and then science and nanobots

Jack Andraka gives a talk in September 2015, “Jack Andraka: The Hidden Innovator” for Wired for Wonder.

In the early part of the video he addresses anti-nerd and ant-gay bullying (the latter may follow the former) in middle school. 

He presents many illustrations from his progress toward his pancreatic cancer test, which won a big science fair award in Pittsburgh in 2013 when he was 16. 

Toward the end he presents ideas, which he works on at Stanford where he now enters his junior year, toward using naontechnology to deliver anti-cancer drugs or to even detect early cancers.  One can imagine, from the illustrations, his getting together with Reid Ewing and making an animated film using manga or Danganronpa characters interacting with nanobots inside the human body 

By LPS.1 - Own work, CC0, wiki link

Sunday, August 06, 2017

"Could the God Particle Wipe Out the Universe?" That is, the Higgs Boson

Jack Daniel asks “Could the God Particle Wipe Out the Universe?” in another Strange Mysteries video.

The video concerns the Higgs, Boson, an elementary particle which is theoretically capable of causing “vacuum decay” which spreads through the Universe at the speed of light. It would cause existence to fail. But since space expands faster than the speed of light, it might never reach us even if it formed.
The videos is in SM’s usual 4-part format.  (See earlier film March 21, 2014 about Higgs.) 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Ashton Kutcher addresses Congress on sex trafficking (video from C-SPAN)

For the first “movie” this month (major reviews are now on Wordpress), I’ll embed 15 minutes of  (actor, film producer)  Ashton Kutcher’s passionate testimony about sex trafficking before Congress early this year.

Kutcher ties sex trafficking to unintended consequences of other policies, especially reluctance to provide more help to refugees.  He also says that 70% of those in prison and 80% of those on death rom have been in the US foster care system.

He also attributes sex trafficking crime to a sense of marginalization and purposelessness in a competitive society.  He mentions the Dark Web, but does not directly mention regular websites, hosting providers, downstream liability and Section 230.  I have a posting on my main “BillBoushka” blog today (see the Profile) about a new Senate bill that reduces Section 230 with respect to trafficking and the controversies associated with Backpage.

Mr. Kutcher had the Thorn Digital Defenders of Children project in Los Angeles. 

Kutcher (“@aplusk” on Twitter) coined the phrase “Real men don’t buy girls”.
In 2012, Kutcher tweeted an invitation to his followers to a party in the Hollywood Hills the week I was there staying on the 405.  I didn’t try to go.  

I'm struck again with wondering why the presidency attracts someone like Trump, but not Kutcher (now 39), who is so obviously fit for office.  Public office is attracting the wrong people. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"If Titan Were a Moon of Earth", and the same for Europa; remember how "2010" ends with a leprous Jupiter blowing up

If Titan Were a Moon of Earth”  is a nice little short film (4 min) by Dreksler, imagining what would happen to Titan (the largest moon of Saturn) were moved to an orbit similar to our own Moon.  It might become habitable, after the hydrocarbons evaporated and the ice melted. 

The only thing is that Titan is a pretty interesting place where it is (or "as is", as realtors say).  It does have a subsurface ocean under the ice (like Europa), which could give it another place for life, in addition to its hyrdrocarbon-lakes surface.  Maybe good for some pretty interesting alien politics.
There are similar hypothetical videos by this publishers, including “If Europa Became a Moon of Earth” here. Remember that Arthur C. Clarke's  (MGM, director Peter Hyams) "2010: The Year We Make Contact"  (1984) imagines Jupiter becoming part of a binary star and Europa becoming a habitable planet to be left alone. (We're seven years late already.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

"What Happens When You Die?" on Strange Mysteries

Here’s a “Strange Mysteries”, “What Happens When You Die?” with Nathan, a little longer than most of them at 14 minutes.

The segments (five of them, as with all films in the series) talk in some detail about other concepts related to the end of life and what happens to your consciousness.  These include microtubules, the substance DMT manufactured in your pineal area that seems to connect to other realities (it’s illegal as a substance).  There is also the “life review”. 

The film does have a lot of attractive graphics and images of attractive people. (See related film May 15.) 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Yale Students Sign 'Petition' to Repeal the First Amendment" (Fox short)

From Fox News, a short film “Yale Students Sign ‘Petition’ to Repeal the First Amendment”. 

This short film was embedded in a (conservative) Intellectual Takeout article reporting that early half of all Republicans want to repeal freedom of the press, and that many people want to close down media outlets that report fake news.

The ignorance of much of the American public, especially Trump’s base, about the First Amendment, is rather shocking.  So is the desire to be protected from offense by “safe spaces”. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Shalom Italia": three brothers revisit a cave in Tuscany where they hid out during the Holocaust

Shalom Italia”, directed by Tamar Tal, one hour, aired on PBS POV on Monday July 24, 2017.  The official site is here.

The film shows three Italian Jewish brothers, now in their 80s, who revisit an area in Tuscany containing a cave where they hid during the Holocaust.

They stop at a rural home for dinner and recount memories before finding the actual remains of the cave.

They note living on one or two sardines a day, and developed allergies to it. Family members would go into a village and sell silver pieces to buy them food which was snuck up to the cave.  This was a story of survival.

At the very end, the brothers go back to a desert area in Israel, maybe near the Dead Sea.

Wikipedia attribution link for Tuscany landscape by Norbert Nagel, CCSA 3.0.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"In the Mind of Plants": can plants "think" and do they have some level of deliberative consciousness?

In the Mind of Plants” (2016) is a 50-minute documentary by French documentarian Jacques Mitsch, narrated by  Sharon Mann.

The film starts with die die-off of certain herbivores in northeastern South Africa, when they consume the leaves of a certain bush that has developed unusually high concentrations of tannic acid, which compromises the digestive systems of the animals.

The film looks at how vines of the pea plant (or wild grape) finds surfaces to warp vines around, but growing stems at a fractally lower rate on the concave side.

BIt also looks at how some carnivorous plants work (indeed, “Plants Behaving Badly” from PBS). 
Finally, the documentary looks at how the cells of the root tip of most seeded plants have certain chemical messengers resembling those of animals’ central nervous systems, which may explain how plants root themselves.  It could also help explain how some small wild cherry trees near a house are hard to eliminate just by cutting them off.

The film shows botany conference in the mountains in Solvakia.
The YouTube copy had 20 extra minutes at the end with some repeated material from the documentary. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Why the Ocean Is Getting Louder", especially for marine mammals

Today, Ezra Klein of Vox Media posted a link to a 10 minute short documentary film by young reporter Dallas Taylor. “Why the Ocean Is Getting Louder”, link .

Taylor says this is his first time scuba diving ever, but gives an impressive “Al Gore-like” presentation of the inconvenient truths about the science of ocean sounds and how they can affect animals, most of all marine mammals like whales and dolphins.

Searching for fossil fuels creates some of the loudest blasts.  There were studies of ocean health after 9/11 when flights stopped and other activity in the North Atlantic stopped. Trump’s increase in offshore drilling was mentioned.

Picture: Crisfield, MD (mine, recent)

Monday, July 17, 2017

"Proxima B: Our First Step Beyond": fascinating short about what may be our closest habitable planet (not counting Mars, Europa, Titan)

Proxima B: Our First Step Beyond” is a fascinating 23-minute documentary by Parallaxity presents the only recently known possibility that we have a habitable planet, somewhat larger than Earth, circling Proxima B, the closest star.

Proxima B is a red dwarf, connected distantly in a multiple system with Alpha Centauri, a binary system of 2 sun-like stars, but right now Proxima B is slightly closer (at 4.2 light years).

Any planet is likely to be tidally locked.   If in an elliptical orbit, it could have night and days each about 11 “days” long or it may have one side always facing its sub if in circular orbit, with a habitable “twilight zone”.  It would need a strong magnetic field to resist the red dwarf’s coronal mass ejections, but it is possible that convection in its core could give the planet such.  The greatest danger might be runaway greenhouse effect if there were too much carbon dioxide or hydrocarbons.
Plants would probably absorb all light and look black.

There is a Russia businessman, comparable in wealth to Elon Mush, who claims he can fund a light sail spaceship to reach the planet in 20 years.

Much more about the planet should be known from a new European telescope in about five years.  But the video gives hope that the planet could be habitable.

Since the Sun will become unstable in 600 million years and kick us out, a planet around a small M Star would be stable for hundreds of billions.  In his film series Prometheus, directly Ridley Scott has suggested that aliens could colonize M-star planets as a stepping stone to galactic conquest. 
The film shows a “rama” colony as an intermediate step.
If a “Clark Kent” as in the Smallville series really exists, could he come from Proxima B (as Krypton)?  Would he have the full legal rights of a human?

Picture:  hypothetical highway and city in a “micronation” on this new world. 

Second picture: ESO, CCSA 4.0, link

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet": actually, it's several towns

Helo films, along with Grey and Norton Symantec and director Daniel Junge present British journalist Heyden Prowse globetrotting to explore “The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet: Where Cybercrime Goes to Hide”, a 21-minute short film.

The word “dangerous” of course is also the title of a book by another British journalist, Milo Yiannopoulos, and here Prowse dominates the film with his own Milo-like cis-male charisma, as he explores data cellars set up to be impenetrable.

He starts out in Sealand, the micronation in the North Sea near Scotland, and moves on to the Netherlands, Sweden, Malaysia, and Singapore, exploring data centers that are unusually nuke-proof, EMP-proof by Faraday cage shields, and also unbreachable.  These places are indeed popular with cybercriminals on the Dark Web, but also by governments.

One issue is that cybercriminals route their transactions through several countries so it is difficult to stop them.

Toward the end of the film some specific clients, like Wikileaks and Anonymous get mentioned.  The misuse of the Internet for terrorist recruiting by ISIS is briefly explored, and the question as to whether a host should be held morally or legally responsible comes up.  That is what the Section 230 debate in the U.S, is all about.
Second picture: My own little micronation.  Baby play? 

Saturday, July 08, 2017

"Alone: 180 Days on Lake Baikal"

Alone: 180 Days on Lake Baikal” by Sylvain Tesson (with Florice Tran, co-director) in a series by Teletravel, is a 51-minute documentary where Sylvain lives alone on the shares of Russia’s Lake Bailak (the largest freshwater lake in the World) like a hermit from a Thoreau book.

As the film begins he drives from Irkutsk, 300 miles, including across a frozen lake, in February, with temperatures as low as -20 F.  He reads books, writes by hand, analyzes chess positions, splits wood and lights coal fires.  Is this “doomsday prepper” stuff?

In March, as about the time the ice starts to thaw, he makes a 30 mile journey by sled to visit a couple in another cabin, a wildlife biologist and his wife.

Spring comes, the days grow long, and he enjoys frying “free fish” by the Lake.  He also has two dogs.

In late July, he rows across the lake to his car and returns.

Wikipedia attribution link for Baikal picture under CCSA 2.0 ,

Sunday, July 02, 2017

"Transgender, at War and in Love": NY Times short about transgender USAF personnel at Kandahar

Transgender, at War and in Love”, directed by Fioma Dawson. Is a very important 2015 short film (13 minutes) sponsored by the New York Times op-ed desk.

The film maintains that 15,500 transgender troops serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The film focuses particularly on the story of Logan, serving in the US Air Force in Kandahar, female-to-male trans.  His first sergeant has his back and allows him to wear male Blues.   He looks male, and is shown giving himself a hormone shot in the thigh.  (Why the tattoo on the upper surface of the forearm?)

The film also shows Daila, male to female, who has a much harder time.

As of late June, 2017, the Pentagon wants to delay allowing openly transgender people to enlist in the Armed Forces (see LGBT blog July 1, 2017).

The film also interviews Logan’s parents.

By US Army - Department of Defense - Photo link Also available at isafmedia (Flickr), Public Domain, Link

Update: July 27.  We're reeling from Trump's Twitter announcement of a ban on transgender personnel (see GLBT blog today). 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Destination: Titan": BBC film of a Kent University's team and the Cassini-Huygens landing on the largest moon of Saturn in 2005

Destination: Titan” is a 2016 BBC TV film (58 minutes), giving a chronicle of the work of a team of British scientists at Kent University from about 1990 all the way to the time of the Cassini launch, journey to Saturn, and release of the Huygens spacecraft to the surface.

The film starts off with the UK’s early reaction to the Soviet space program, including Sputnik, leading to the building of aerospace teams in the 1970s. The Berlin Wall falls, and then a team from Kent joins the European Space Agency in designing and building the Huygens probe.  They almost lose the contract one time around 1992 when the device breaks

The film spans so much time that you can see the aging of the scientists.

The suspenseful conclusion of the film, following a mathematical adjustment for synching meaning Huygens is released later, shows the best images of Titan’s surface, ever seen in media.  This ought to be reworked for an Imax movie.  It rather looks like a California desert through orange smog.

Wikipedia attribution link for NASA Titan surface images, p.d.