Saturday, March 17, 2018

"Hecarim: The Outlaw of the Rift": short is the first of a gamer series

Once Upon a Time: Hecarim: The Outlaw of the Rift”, by “Lulz Lol” (first of a series).

Note the quote of Reid Ewing’s video and song “Traffic Jam” (2012) at the end.  It’s time for me to drive the 405 again (that is, after renting a car at LAX). Reid shared this new video recently on Twitter.
I’m not a specialist on games or Japanese Danganronpa, but the video game does present a tribal, medieval world on another planet, with armies of little characters.  There is a place called “Summoner’s Rift” (as if out of Canterbury Tales).  The name of the chief sounds Roman. A look at authoritarian worlds, to be sure.

  The film reminded me of a sophomore English assignment back in 2004 when I was working as a substitute teacher.  The assignment (after having read a Grimm's Fairy Tale) was to write a short story fairy tale.  They all had to start with "Once upon a time"  Like " ... there lived a banana".  You know that that was. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Lost in Expression": low-key short film about a gay-bi fraternity pledge fending off an old boyfriend (at UNC)

A fraternity pledge (Jace, played by Casey Mills) has to fend off a clinging ex-boyfriend in Bruno Rose’s short film “Lost in Expression”.

The film was shot as a UNC student film in Wilmington NC.  There is a false ending, and the credits start, and then an epilogue with a reconciliation.

I’m not so thrilled about the obesity and tattoos.  But this is a relatively low-key film.

Picture: Mine, on US-17, north of Elizabeth City. NC.  Was in Wilmington myself just once, in 1993, Memorial Day weekend, on the way to visit an uncle in Myrtle Beach SC. But that was a very important weekend in my life (led in some ways to my first DADT book.) 

Monday, March 12, 2018

"Complicit": documentary short provides shocking statistics on sex trafficking

Here is the 2011 short film “Complicit” by Michelle Nehme, mentioned March 9.

The 19-minute film offers many brief interviews with trafficking victims and show some acting in a play. The film was shot in Austin, TX and McAllen, TX (near the border).

There are many shocking statistics presented.  Many victims are runaways who pimps find in public places like shopping malls.  A typical age is 13.  By definition, a crime occurs with the purchaser of sex when the victim is under age of consent, and trafficking would obviously be closely connected to child pornography. The life expectancy for a minor victim can be as low as 25.  80% are US born.  But the statics provided in this short film are shocking.

The film does not go into how the trafficking continues on the Internet on certain websites, but the feature (discussed Friday) may do so.  I’m now told that the feature is due in 2019.

The current bills FOSTA and SESTA in Congress could have a significant downstream effect on Internet users who have nothing to do with this practice personally. Is this a sacrifice many people will be asked to make to protect more victims? 

Picture: downtown Austin, my trip, Nov. 2011  

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"Colonizing Venus": it may be easier than Mars

“Colonizing Venus”, apparently the second film in the Outward Bound series with Isaac Arthur, starts out by proposing floating cities high in the atmosphere of Venus.

The film starts out by reminding us that we didn't know how hot the surface of Venus is until the 1960s. 

But eventually true terraforming of Venus might be possible, and easier than Mars.  The trick is to build shades and place them at Lagrange points for the orbit of Venus. Gradually, with less sun, the atmosphere of Venus cools and the carbon dioxide liquifies into an ocean under pressure. As the atmosphere cools further it might freeze. 

Venus is almost tidally locked.  But mirrors could reflect the sunlight around the atmosphere to simulate earthlike days.

I had a harder time following how you get a livable surface.  The carbon dioxide has to go somewhere. Respected science points out that Venus is so volcanic that the surface is replaced every few hundred million years.  And it’s possible that Venus had a runaway greenhouse effect about a billion years ago, and might have had life before that.  Perhaps a real tragic apocalypse. A warning about our own climate change.

Picture: Model of Venus from Meteor Crater museum near Odessa, TX, my visit, Nov. 2011. 

Friday, March 09, 2018

"American Love Story": film near completion deals with sex trafficking (now a topic in Congress with regards to Section 230)

As Congress nears the passage of controversial legislation that could expose tech companies to more downstream liability when they inadvertently provide a platform for sex trafficking (these the bills known as FOSTA in the House and SESTA in the Senate), a documentary film on sex trafficking moves into post-production.
The film is “American Love Story: A Community in Search of Freedom”, by Michelle Nehme. 
The trailer does seem to call for a total societal or community commitment to stop trafficking, and that could have a real impact on how the laws contemplated in Congress are ultimately implemented, interpreted, and enforced, and could impact speakers who have nothing to do with trafficking.
The link for the film itself is here. 
The director says she also has a short film “Complicit  which I couldn’t find. But the title perhaps hints at the role of the Internet and its permissive culture, which the bills in Congress would attack. 
I’ll review the entire film in detail when I can get it, like on Netflix or Amazon or a screener.  Paying a fair film rental is no problem.  (I hope my site for review doesn’t get taken down some day out of downstream liability concerns!  That’s the irony.  Here’s a detailed discussion explaining why)

Thursday, March 08, 2018

The Arc Gene (and mammalian consciousness, and The Garden of Eden)

Here’s a Facebook video about the Arc Gene, which infected an animal about 400 million years ago. 
The video says that the animal was a mammal, but I don’t know if mammals were around yet (mammals developed after the dinosaurs were destroyed by an asteroid strike on Belize 65 million years ago).

But the viral genes were passed through RNA into central nervous system cells and became essential to communications within the brain and between the brain and the automatic nervous system.

The video gives the virus credit for “consciousness”, which seems to have a quantum aspect in the microtubules inside neurons, gradually integrating for the organism.

A failure of the gene could lead to autism, schizophrenia, or later in life, ALS.
Here’s a similar video called “The Garden of Eden Virus”.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Timothee Chalamet at 18 plays a charismatic sign spinner in a short film by Erik Barnes

The 2014 short film “Spinners”, directed by Erik L. Barnes based on his own short story, written with Cami Delavigne, features an 18-year-old Timothee Chalamet working as a sign spinner, “Jace”, with pal Derek (Ify Nwadiwe), in an economically depressed town in the California Central Valley, on the edge of the desert.

A single mom with a small girl comes by.  The two men try to do a business transaction.  The mother has handguns in the car trunk and the girl finds them.  Things go wrong.
Yet Jace seems up to the challenge.  He certainly tries to do what he can to get the gun taken out of play.  His personality in the film is rather assertive, yet in one scene a passing bully seems to call him a “fag”. 

I believe Chalamet really does play piano pretty well.  I wonder if he could try one of my sonatas. 

Picture: 2012, mine (near Bishop CA on US 395). 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

"Colonizing Mars": very likely with rotating ramas and domes, and maybe cyborgs later

Isaac Arthur for Patreon, in the Outward Bound Colonization Series, presents “Colonizing Mars” (34 minutes).

Colonists would first live in ramas orbiting around the planet, with artificial centripetal gravity approximating that of Mars. People would go down to the surface in nanotube elevators to work.

There are several schools of thought on how to do this.  One is to build domes over many areas (even canyon valleys), where the people live, as well as inside hollowed out “mountain skyscrapers” and lava tubes. Another is to terraform the entire planet, and this might involve bioengineering humans or other life to live in a new environment with much less air.

There is plenty of oxygen on Mars, but finding nitrogen is a problem.
The video pays relatively little attention to the possibility of current microbial life on Mars.
Future videos in the series will discuss the Fermi paradox and address the question as to how common human (or cetacean) intelligence is in the Galaxy.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

"The Shape of Water" wins; Chalamet dazzles with his white tux; other thoughts on the Oscars; Andraka's latest news

Well, “The Shape of Water” won “Best Picture” and a lot else.  I had predicted “Dunkirk”. I had really liked "Three Billboards".  Here's CNN's list of the winners.   (Sorry, Trump, there are no losers.) 

Timothee Chalamet became the youngest ever to be nominated as a leading role actor, for “Call Me by Your Name”.

Chalamet showed up to the ceremony in a white tuxedo with his mom.
His talents range from soccer to piano, to multiple languages. (Although Freddie Highmore has one up on him – Highmore speaks Arabic).  When someone is that precocious – you suspect reincarnation. Nice to get to start over with a young adult’s body and previous lifetimes’ wisdom.
OK, it’s nice that a horror movie wins best picture. 
Someone at the Oscar ceremony touted the virtue of “intersectionality”.  Terrible.  I expect Trump to tweet about that one. You can have inclusiveness and non-discrimination and diversity without getting people to look for groups to pout over with claims of common oppression. . 

On top of all that, I’ll share Jack Andraka’s newest shortfilm – his pancreatic cancer test can detect some other tumors and may be closer to approval.  It’s from CNN as a “Tomorrow’s Heroes” short.
Physically, at 21 a young man usually looks a little beefier than at 17, no matter how precocious. (Bryce Harper knows that.) But Jack sounds like proof of reincarnation (like Taylor Wilson).  It’s nice to have a new body and pick up where you were before. 
Of course, as I ponder this, think how much wild animals know things that we don’t.  If a stray cat, fox (Loki on YouTube) or crow has ever made friends with you, then you know how much knowledge and capability in developed animals (higher mammals and even some birds) really is hardwired.  That’s not to mention the orca.  But I guess hardwiring matters more for humans than I thought. 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

"Amsterdam": gentle gay short film set at a party in Australia

Let March start with the gay short film “Amsterdam”, by Sam Langshaw.

At a party in Australia, with lots of sugary treats and behavior, two attractive young men meet and start a conversation.  One of them is headed for Amsterdam.

The phrase “VFL” (Virgin for Life) is used.
This is “Ninth Street Center” talk stuff.  This gentle film could use a little more of a payoff (11 min). Definitely PG-13. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"Who Would Choose to Be LGBT and Nigerian?"

Who Would Choose to Be LGBT and Nigerian?”, presented by Ifeoma Fafunwa of the Radcliffe Institute.

The speaker of course explains the scapegoating of the LGBT population in Nigeria as a result of corruption and poverty, especially exacerbated by falling oil prices.

The speaker plans to put this material in a stage play and independent film. About 14 minutes of the film is shown here.  Interviews with most random people on the street show shocking tribalist indoctrination, disguised as religious.  LGBT culture is viewed as “western” and anti-African.  The film plans to focus on a particular family.
The film describes the anti-gay laws in Nigeria, as punishing even attempting to enable homosexuals to meet and congregate, as well as same-sex relations, oddly conflated with language about gay marriage.
By Awinda - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Monday, February 26, 2018

"The Real Dragwives of Prevention": short film on HIV prevention on Facebook Video.

The Real Dragwives of Prevention  (Facebook video link, from Impulse United, is a comedy short film set in a “reality show” mansion about HIV prevention with use of condoms (especially for women or “recipient” partners).

Are these women, or drag queens?  (Most transvestites are straight, by the way.)

It stars Trinity Taylor, Gia Gunn, Ongina, Aurora Sexton, Alusia Maygem Miller, directed by Dan Hass. 
I couldn’t find it on YouTube, by “Real Dragwives” has shows in many cities.  I picked out Perth, Australia here.

Friday, February 23, 2018

"The Russians Are Coming" (upside down)

This might be a good day to recall Norman Jewison’s 1966 satire-comedy “The Russians Are Coming” (repeated, with the second time written upside down). It’s based on Nathaniel Bentley’s novel and William Rose’s screenplay.  Almost another Strangelove.

A Russian submarine gets too close to the New England coast, and when they go ashore toward Gloucester, MA, the townspeople decide that World War III has started.

Carl Reiner, Alan Arkin, John Landis, Eva Marie Saint all shine.

Of course, today, the Russians really are coming.  Time for a remake?
The film was produced by Mirsch and released by United Artists; today the DVD comes from Kino Lorber.

Update:  Hillary Clinton warns that the Russians really are coming

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Samson": new film of famous Bible story downplays the potential fetishism of the story, and emphasizes the brutal political tribalism of the time

The Biblical film “Samson” from Sony-PureFlix and director Bruce Macdonald renders one of the most curious stories in the Old Testament, at the end of the period of the Judges before the house of David would be formed.

Samson (Taylor James), born into the Tribe of Dan, and his brother (Rutger Hauer) have long been resisting the Philistines under King Balek (Billy Zane) and the hothead prince Rallah (Jackson Rathborn). Samson is known for his phenomenal, almost supernatural physical strength, rather like a super-hero. He believes it comes from God and from a supposed teaching that he must never cut his long hair.

The plot is complicated by an early marriage, but we all remember from Sunday school the more spectacular parts of the story.  Samson falls in love with Delilah, who brings him down, eventually cutting his hair.  That is, not until Samson carries a temple door out on his back. After a home invasion by the Philistines Samson, suddenly weak,  is captured, tortured and blinded (with some pretty brutal violence for kids to see).  But when the hair grows back, the strength returns, and Samson brings down the entire temple.

The story of Samson has always sounded like a proxy for fetishism. In the movie, Samson is tall, and has conspicuously hairy arms and legs, but no chest hair.  It’s easy to imagine the idea that chest hair could have been the marker for testosterone and strength, rather than long scalp hair.  That gets into the entire body shaming fetish that used to be somewhat common in the gay male community (it is less so today).  Likewise, when people go into the Army, it’s usually only scalp hair (which women can have) that gets the buzzcut.  And this is more likely to matter for Caucasians than other races.
The film plays up the tribal values of Jewish society a millennium before Christ.  It would fit into today’s debates on tribalism.  The film also makes the villages and cities in the ancient world look interesting.  The acting seems overwrought. The prince Rallah seems spoiled, like Kim Jong Un.

The film was shot in the Capetown, South Africa area.
Here is the official site for the film. 
Wikipedia attribution link for public domain painting of Samson by Lovis Corinth. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"The St. Valentine's Day Massacre" Roger Corman's 1967 film about the pre-Depression-era mob seems like a stage play now

I hope it is not too exploitive now to post about the 1867 Roger Corman film, “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”.

It’s about a huge mob hit by Al Capone on a rival Bugs Moran gang on Valentine’s Day in 1929 in Chicago.

I recall seeing it at the Varsity theater in downtown Lawrence in the early fall of 1967, my last semester of graduate school there before the Army.

I was surprised by the constricted look of 1929 Chicago.  The movie seemed like a stage play.  But the last scene, the shootings, is quite brutal.

The Fox film is in Cinemascope but the sound is only mono.  The Deluxe  color is garish.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"It Gets Better": hackneyed slogan leads to irony in this microfilm

Here’s a very short film by David Tjen, “It Gets Better”.

Ellen used to promote this idea on her show in 2010 after the Clementi tragedy. I always thought it was insufficient.

But in this scene, the teen who is “bullied” in the opening scene is already more cis and athletic than the straight boys taunting him.  One of the other boys meets him at a convenience story and is not so straight.' 

As in “Something Like Summer”, this little film then skips five years.  The characters don't age out. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

"Broken Contact": A young man in Amsterdam looks for his lost brother in London after dad dies

Here is a short film by Film Shot “Broken Contact”, by Rico Pel and Jordy Pijper.

The complete film (23 min) is not embeddable but is available here. The trailer above is displayed. 

A young gay man, Jason (Jordy Pijper), 18, is living with his dad in Amsterdam.  When dad gets a brain tumor and dies, Jason, emotionally distracted, starts failing in school.  But he remembers a lost brother in London and goes looking for him.

At one point, Jason says he needs to raise money for his father, but that would not make sense in a European country with single-payer health care, unless dad is on a waiting list and can’t get surgery o time at all.  He is also gay-bashed or bullied in school, which does not make sense in Amsterdam. 

The film (2.35:1) impressive photography of Amsterdam and London.

The film is in English with Dutch subtitles, which make Dutch look very close to English.

Wikipedia attribution:
By Sergey Galyonkin from Berlin, Germany - Amsterdam, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
I have visited Amsterdam in 1999 and 2001.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

"Elephant": Gus Van Sant's disturbing 2003 film somewhat related to Columbine

I do recall seeing Gus Van Sant’s disturbing film, “Elephant” (2003), at the Avalon (non-profit) independent theater in NW Washington DC in early 2004, shortly after I had returned to the area.
The two perpetrators seem to have been bullied, and one is a pianist (he plays Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” in one scene).  I remember some hint that they are gay and intimate, although some commentators think too much is made of that.

What seems so chilling is toward the end as the two kids (played by Alex Frost and Eric Deulen) seem so calculating in their speech.  That is what seems related to the Parkland Florida shooting on Wednesday, February 14.

The film also presents the catastrophe from the viewpoints of several other students, as “cameras”.

This film was very challenging work from the controversial gay director (of “Good Will Hunting”) and, however provocative, it won a prize at Cannes.  The film is shot 1.33:1 on amateur video (it looks like Super 8).  It seems to be filmed in Portland OR.

There are some detailed reviews of this on imdb.  One of the reviews says it is modeled right off of Columbine.  The film has been distributed by Fine Line Features and HBO. 

Wikipedia attribution links: By Alfred Twu - Own work, CC0, Link (Universal public domain). 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Disney's 1996 "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and a modern day casting controversy about a related stage play based on Victor Hugo's novel

The 1996 Disney animated feature “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, based on Victor Hugo’s novel (which we read in French class in 12th grade in high school), directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, has attracted controversy recently.

In Ithaca High School (New York state) a stage presentation of the novel was cancelled after organized protests of a casting decision.  I won’t analyze this here, but Sopan Deb has a detailed story in the New York Times Friday, February 9.  It got all the way to the Daily Stormer stuff.

In YouTube clips, Esmeralda does appear to be slightly darker than other characters, but it isn’t clear what this means. Gypsies could be of any race.

But what I remember is Quasimodo, the deformed character.  I thought his depiction had much more moral significance when I saw the film in a theater when it first came out.
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Cornell by Horoiki, CCSA 3.0.  My most recent personal visit happened in October 1970, as I recall. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

"Thirst": Israeli short film shows gay men playing with catastrophe in the desert to become more intimate

Thirst” is a bizarre short film by Israeli director Guy Sahaf, 14 minutes.

Two gay men hike alone in the Negev desert. One of them seems to be leaking water deliberately, and his companion thinks it is a ruse to get closer physically.

The concept, although it’s supposed to be a study in communication within a couple, seems bizarre, like maybe a ritual walkabout. I was reminded of the tragic feature “Gerry” (2005, set in the Mojave desert).

But the men are “rescued” in due course by a straight couple picking them up in a car was hitchhikers..  Furthermore there are railroad tracks they could have followed to walk out.
The film has played in many European LGBT festivals.  

Picture: Mine, Nevada, May 2012. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

"Love in the Car": experimental gay short suspense film

Love in the Car” (2018) is a curious short suspense film (24 min) on YouTube with no credits.

A young man goes into a gay bar (LA area) and, after dealing with a pushy bartender, gets stood up by a date. He meets a young man who wants to hitch a ride home.  Yup, you know there’s trouble when he asks for a smoke. Yes, this gets to be about drugs. People who don’t behave according to enlightened self-interest and personal responsibility, driven by abstract cognition.

Will the hitchhiker turn out to be another Andrew Cunanan (given the FX series now)?  He certainly make the point that the lead character thinks he is better than other people. “It’s not your fault??” Like in “Good Will Hunting”?  Hardly.

I can say I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker. Too stuck up, too cautious and risk averse. 

Music from Tchaikovky’s 1812 Overture plays in the background.

This film may be a project in development.  It could be blown up into a feature. The writing does create real suspense and the film has some promise. 
The actors seem upper class, like they’d like to play classier characters.  Maybe my screenplay (“Epiphany”) could give them a chance.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

WWE: "The New Day Massacres Tom Phillips's Shirt": what does he have to hide?

WWE, the World Wrestling Entertainment Channel offers a quirky short film “The New Day Massacres Tom Phillips’s Shirt” on May 22, 2016 (before the elections).

Apparently the correspondent Tom Phillips didn’t come prepared well enough for doomsday.  Good clothes were not appropriate. But what was he trying to hide?  Call this boyhood game, "Reveal". 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Max: the"Rescued" Bobcat

Max: the “Rescued” Bobcat” (2011, by Big Cat Rescue) is a narrative about a bobcat sold to a Rhode Island resident as a cub. But when Max was taken to a vet he was reported, and the state took over.

Big Cat Rescue eventually transported Max to a sanctuary near Tampa, FL.  Southwest Airlines was the only carrier that would take him, offering three seats.

Max is “humanized” and seems to recognize and remember people but is a wild animal and would not be a safe household pet when grown (although in South Africa people keep large cats on residents, like cheetahs, who will roam wild and remember their owners and return home.  Servals are sometimes kept as pets and bond to people, but any cat larger than a housecat needs a large  outdoor area for hunting and play.
Attribution link for 2010 photo of a bobcat by Bill Wright under CCSA 2.0 in CA .

Feb. 6

Also note Benji the Bobcat, who grooms a teenage boy.  Again, even if a wild animal, he regards people in a house that feeds him as his "pride".  But he needs acres of outdoor land to hunt on.  

Friday, February 02, 2018

Better-Angels offers video: "Jews v. Arabs" where it gets personal

A young man who calls himself “NAS Daily” provides this short film which a group “Better Angels” shared on Facebook. It seems to be part of a series, “Jews vs. Arabs: Day 664”. I’d add a subtitle, “It Gets Personal”.
A young Palestinian man in his early 20s, physically very attractive, interviews people in Jerusalem very close to the boundary between Palestinian and Jewish areas.

Some people are night, but a Jewish man and his 15-year-old daughter thinks he is out to kill them just because he is Palestinian. 

They speak of Jewish and Palestinian “races”.  There are no such things.  All the people here are Caucasian, white (sometimes slightly darker because of having evolved in a sunnier climate). 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

"The Camp": effective low budget horror (short film) from Britain

The British short film “The Camp” (2014, 16 minutes), produced by Steele and Thomson, produces low budget horror and combines it with personality and drama in a way far more effective than standard Hollywood bigger budget B-movie horror.

Three brothers (or are they friends) go camping in rural England. The youngest of the guys seems the most charismatic has talked the other two into going off the grid.

They pitch tents and seem pretty fluid with their backpacking skills (all the rage back in the 80s when I did it while living in Texas, on a couple of Sierra Club long weekends).  Night comes.  One of the kids ventures out and hears screeching and finds a spider web that has trapped larger animals.

They get through the night but then day brings its own hazards, like holes you can fall into.  And the sounds of a werewolf seem to abound.  Finally, one of the brothers is almost rescued by a friend with a car.  It’s all pretty tragic.

I’m reminded of the early 50s film “The Werewolf”, and also, oddly, of “The Blair Witch Project”.

This is well done horror (4 stars out of 5).  But likeable young men come to tragedy. 

I had trouble finding the film on YouTube by entering the title but it would come up with gay films, although it doesn’t seem to be specifically gay.  I couldn’t find it on imdb.
The boys are played by William and Stuart Thomson, and Alexander Steele.  This seems to be a filmmaking family. 

The brothers should enter this in some short film festivals (maybe DC Shorts in Washington). 

Picture: Bear on Grandfather Mt, NC, 2016. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"Crow Adopts Kitten", short film

Here’s a two-minute short film shot in 2006 in Massachusetts: “Crow Adopts Kitten”.

A crow actually raised an abandoned kitten left in someone else’s back yard. And a crow is a bird, not "even" a mammal, but crows seem to have intelligence comparable to dogs and cats. They can solve problems, like dropping an acorn to break it.  

When I was in an estate house, a particular wild crow, whom I named Timo, often watched me. On the day of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, he twice chased into my garage because he knew a storm was coming.

I had no damage from Sandy.

But a crow could wonder if I could protect his tree and his nest during a storm. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"What Happens When You Buy 1 Million Twitter Followers": videos look at the business of selling the "appearance" of social media influence

Given the recent New York Times expose on the "bot follower" business in social media, I thought I'd look at some videos on the problem. 

Patrick Colucci reports :”What Happens When You Buy 1 Million Twitter Followers?” in 2016, with a lot of emphasis on Trump and Hillary Clinton. 
Patrick’s film is mixed with interviews from Russia Today and Silicon Valley as he traces the results of his experiment. He gets around 100,000 and most of them are bots (empty faces when you click on Followers). None of them engage the content.

YouTubeInsiderSecrets explains how YouTube algorithms will gradually penalize your channel for poor user engagement in “8 Reasons Never toBuy Subscribers”.

Finnish entrepreneur Roope Kiuttu seems to report similar results in highly technical presentation (10 minutes) of “Devumi Review: IsBuying Twitter Followers Worth It? See My Experience!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"Science Fair" at Sundance 2018 shows high school contestants doing world class research

The directors of “Science Fair” (Christina Constantini and Darren Foster) at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival (kids’ section) discuss their film.

This film documents the INTEL ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair).

Many of the kids are doing cutting edge research.  There was one project from Brazil on Zika Virus. 

There was a student who had failed math who still won a prize for a mechanical number theory project.

I don’t know yet whether the film mentions or presents Jack Andraka’s 2013 science fair win in Pittsburgh for his pancreatic cancer test.  His brother Luke also won a prize for a coal mine pollution abatement project.  Taylor Wilson, inventor of a “fusion reactor” had entered that year also.  Here is Jack’s tweet on it. Imdb doesn’t have a lot of information on it.  It would be logical or nice if Jack wound up listed as an executive producer of the film, still listed as in post-production.  (Richard Harmon showed us how to finish movies with his “Crypto”.)

I’ll keep my eyes open for Filmfest DC, Maryland Film Festival  (Baltimore, in May, close to Jack’s hometown) on this one (maybe even DC Environmental Film Festival in March).

I remember we had a Science Fair presentation in the basement of my (parent’s) home on December 9, 1960.  I’ve talked about it elsewhere. But one of the presentations then talked about white blood cells and was a curiously prescient anticipation of the crisis that would happen 25 years later. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

"Hive Minds": could they provide partial immortality?

Isaac Arthur’s “Hive Minds” on Patreon. 

Arthur describes the “Hive Mind” as a step up in shared information from “networked intelligence”, which is simply a community of individuals (they can be animals) with some ability to communicate to a social group (that might be the Internet, or it might be sonar for dolphins).  Networked intelligence (even without the Hive) can keep the work of deceased people in circulation (which we know so well with music), so that might keep a thread of former soul consciousness "alive". 
Arhtur goes through many sci-fi book series, but notes that Hive minds would face limitations of the speed of light.

The most obvious example of a “hive mind” in nature may be a bee or ant colony. The video does indirectly describe what sounds like “honeybee democracy”.
In science fiction there seems to be a practice of conscription, getting individuals to join and gradually experience themselves through the entire hire.

The film "Independence Day" in 1996 presented a mega-ship filled with a hive. Arthur C. Clarke explored this idea in "Childhood's End". 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Logan Paul's redemption video: "Be Here Tomorrow"

Here is Logan Paul’s self-redemption video, “Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow”.

The video includes a testimonial by Kevin, who survived an attempted jump from the Golden Gate Bridge.

He talks about compassion and there is a brief scene where he feeds a red fox in the woods.  (Foxes sometimes learn specific people in their environment, the way cats will.)

The one point that seemed missing is that some people find imposition of a change in their lives by coercion or force from others particularly shameful.  This may happen with bullying (anti-fay or not) or with political expropriation. The heroine of “Gone with the Wind” has to work through this process psychologically. I recall Tyler Clementi’s suicide on the GW Bridge in 2010 after bullying in which his privacy was invaded by a roommate.

One person he interviews notes he was born in Ohio (near Cleveland, ironically in an area where I spent my boyhood summers), a state with the second highest suicide rate in the country (partly because of opioid use in working class communities).
The title “Be Here Tomorrow” reminds me of Ram Das’s book “Be Here Now” from the Lama Foundation in New Mexico (which I visited twice in the 1980s). 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"How Sanctuary Cities Actually Work" by Vox

How Sanctuary Cities Actually Work”, an animated short film by Vox and Dara Lind and Liz Schelterns.

The Facebook video link is here.

Note the step-by-step explanation.  When a police department gets a detainer request from ICE, it does not have to honor it.
But a state can step in and deny local enforcement certain funding, as has happened in Texas. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Will "Floating" (Timo Descamps and his father), an odd sci-fi film, get finished now?

Timo Descamps has tweeted recently that he is “moving” back to Belgium from LA for a time, to Antwerp (I rode through it on the train in 2001). He didn’t say what he was doing, but there is some scuttlebutt that his project “Floating: The Prophecy” based on his father Luc’s novel (Luc writes sci-fi and children’s), a project that has been contemplated since 2012. The video says that the book is a trilogy. 

Three people (two young men and a woman) are stranded on a “paradise” island, and Timo has a chance to act heterosexual. Then the other two are kidnapped or taken, leaving Timo to find and rescue them.

The trailer is in English, with Dutch subtitles. It would sound like it could get filmed in the Caribbean or Indian Ocean or some such location and perhaps also in less expensive European studios in the Czech Republic or Spain, where a lot of indie films are made.  (I think there is a studio in Bilbao.)

The presentation in the trailer reminds me of the decade-old NBC series “Lost” (TV, Oct. 28, 2010). It sounds intriguing.  It would be nice to see a film like this come out at approximately the same time as Richard Harmon’s “Crypto”.  It sounds like “A24 material” (I’m referring to the funky indie distributor.) 

Timo also has a short subject called “More” that starts out with high school bullying and winds up with singing on a disco floor, here.   (“Get your ass off the floor”!)

Today, he tweeted and Instagrammed that he had just finished filming another short (in LA with a Belgian director) for “Max Money Penny”   Not sure I can tell the name of the film from the post (not in imdb yet). 

Picture: My weekend in Ohio
Let’s note the Oscar nominees.  Take note of Timothee Chalomet for best actor (youngest ever nominee) in “Call Me by Your Name” for best picture.  My prediction is that “Dunkirk” wins.   I hope that the nomination is based on a true belief in artistic merit and not on allocating awards to identity groups.  Elio is a lovable character (a rather charismatic pianist). 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Richard Harmon's "Crypto": I did contribute a little to its completion

I generally haven’t written pieces here on movies not yet released for showing (since most of my reviews went to Wordpress) but I thought I should mention Jon Silverberg’s thriller “Crypto”, because I did make a small contribution to its conclusion on Indiegogo. (link

Lead actor Richard Harmon ("The Greatest of all Time" as per Timo) plays Jake, a journalist who has an epiphany in the woods, with backstories shown through the film he develops in a cabin.  The film seems to have been shot off the coast of British Columbia, and possibly some of it in Manitoba.  Harmon is also an executive producer of the film.  Harmon is well known for his role in CW’s “The 100” but also as Danny in “Judas Kiss”.

The plot seems a little bit parallel to my own screenplay “Epiphany”, set on a space station and rama (sort of), but with backstory from my three “Do Ask Do Tell” books.  That’s one reason I took more interest in it.   Is there some commonality with “The Blair Witch Project” (1998) on the other hand?

I hope we’ll find screenings of it my summer. 

Picture: mine, Mount Vernon, Ohio, yesterday. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

"The Pennsylvania Turnpike": You can watch a movie at the Midway Service Plaza

On a weekend trip, I visited the Midway Service Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and noted that a short film plays in the dining area on a plasma screen, “The Turnpike”, giving a history of the railroad in the 19th century and then the turnpike that followed its tracks.  In the 1870s it took a train 22 hours to go from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

Some of the tunnels in the video above were taken out in 1968. Sideling Hill and Rays Hill have been bypassed.


There is also an issue with the service plazas:  you can park on only one side, to eat, and drive only one way to the service gas pumps on the other side, after which you can’t come back and park again. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

"Microarchitectural Incontinence" by Daniel Gruss: the Meltdown (and that doesn't mean Chernobyl)

I'll put this on movies and call it "MicroArchitetural Incontinence" (and "Leakage"), by Daniel Gruss, a professor (31) at Graz University in Austria.  That is, an Intel chip is now like an old man's prostate gland, or bowel.

He hacked his own computer to show the Meltdown vulnerability. Not to mention that he would probably play well as a movie star.  It's at least a half-century before he has to deal with his own nomenclature. Maybe we could see him on AOPS.  

Thursday, January 18, 2018

"What Really Happened to Mars Will Shock You": It was nuked

What Really Happened to Mars will Shock You”, lecture film by Amplex.

The speaker analyses the levels of Xenon 129 on Mars as consistent with past thermonuclear weapons.  There are also dustings of uranium and thorium “glass” on parts of the surface which NASA missions have deliberately avoided.

The speaker says that at least two thermonuclear airbursts occurred over Mars between 250 million and 500 million years ago, possibly destroying a civilization on the planet, and lead to the planet’s loss of atmosphere.

But other explanations include lack of a magnetic field, which allowed the solar wind to strip the atmosphere away.  Had Mars been larger, it would be warmer and have a thicker atmosphere today. Likewise, had Venus been smaller it might be cooler. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Colonizing Jupiter (Outward Bound series)

Another Outward Bound series explores “Colonizing Jupiter”.

The video examines the four major satellites:  Io, Europa (the best known), Ganymede and Callisto.  

 The last of these is the most sheltered from radiation.

The video examines the idea of subterranean ocean life on all four, and there may not be the interaction of a shore which could have helped Earth life get started.

The film has some narrative connection to the previous film on Titan (Jan. 9), as the protagonist was cured of cancer (maybe by Jack Andraka’s nanobots) after downloading a backup of his consciousness on Titan’s quantum computer (no doubt designed by Google Project Zero as well as Graz University’s Daniel Gruss).

At about 14 minutes, the film talks about our lack of knowledge of low gravity living.  It is possible to build a rotating rama to simulate Earth’s gravity, but you have to factor in a Coriolis force added from the moon itself. I have this issue in my own “Epiphany” screenplay.  The film suggests a system of rotating teacups as in an amusement park as a better solution than a typical rama.

The most provocative part of the film deals with colonizing the atmosphere of Jupiter itself, possibly with intersecting bands of rama-surfaces about 1.5 times the radius of the visible planet, to get close to Earth’s gravity.  Then they talk about turning Jupiter into a star (not just a brown dwarf) which Arthur C. Clarke had done with the film 2010.

Wikipedia attribution link for NASA p.d. picture of Jupiter’s clouds. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

"Generation Zapped" will warn consumers about accumulating health risks from cell phone use and surrounding towers and microwaves

There is a new documentary film “Generation Zapped”, directed Sabine El Gemayel, which maintains that microwave radiation associated with cell phone use is causing major health hazards.  
Here is their FAQ on EMF's (electromagnetic fields of radiation). 

The film producers are still asking for screening hosts and don’t seem to have other distribution or DVD’s yet.

Facebook page is here.

The Epoch Times has an article and review here

 A group called Reticare has been warning about a future epidemic of blindness in young adults from retinal damage from screen use. 

Another user Jude Kamel has three-hour-plus video by that name on YouTube.