Thursday, June 17, 2021

"China's Freedom": aka, Things You Can Do in China

Guangzhou Twin Towers


China’s Freedom” or “Things You Can Do in China (You Can’t Do in America”, posted June 13, 2021, by the Living in China channel, run by a young man from the UK, similar in spirit to the Barrett Channel.

In a relatively small city in China’s interior, he shows you can drink in public (you can’t in the US) even though you can’t carry weapons (you can often in the US). 

He also notes that the public spaces are very clean (like Singapore’s).

He also notes there is almost zero street crime.

But there is no “freedom of reach” with political speech. Chinese society demands more mandatory socialization of everyone.  He doesn’t mention the social credit score.  Or the difficulty of many people in transcending and moving out of rural poverty.   

Wikipedia picture: Guangzhou skyline, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"Occupy Me": two gay men make their encounter a proxy for power and submission


NYC, Chelsea, 2016-9

Occupy Me”, (2017, 15 min) directed by Adam Fitzgerald, present two gay men in a quick “stage play” about who has power in their physical relationship. It stars Jaspar Binning and Max Rhyser.

The film has shown in film festivals in Madrid, North Carolina, Out on Film Atlanta, Inside Out Toronto, Qflix Philadelphia.

The title literally says what the issue is, and this is all definitely about cis masculinity.

Since the video is age-restricted, I’ll embed another one where a therapist talks about the topic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

"The 'Working Together' Riddle": the ultimate "story problem" for algebra tests


Rehoboth Beach, DE 2021/6

The “Working Together” Riddle, a problem that ought to be solvable by "common sense".

This may play out like the classic high school algebra “word problem”.

The important idea is to identify the indivisible work unit to solve for.

This test problem sounds like it was designed for intentional communities or communes that try to get by without any fiat currency at all.

tofu warehouse at Twin Oaks, VA, 2012

Monday, June 14, 2021

"Sign": A hearing young man attempts a relationship with a deaf man in NYC

NYC June 2019 


Sign”, posted June 14, 2020, 7 min, by Bringing Art to Life, directed by Andrew Keenan-Bolger, presents two gay men, Ben (hearing) and Aaron (deaf) building a relationship in New York City, with many scenes on subways.

Then they have a fight, over pride perhaps.  Then they reconcile.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

"What's Delaying First Contact?": There's a simple answer to Fermi's problem


model train world, 2014/12

What’s Delaying First Contact?” from Unveiled, alternate title “4 Reasons Why We Still Haven’t Found Aliens”, or explaining the Fermi Paradox.

My own take:  Intelligent civilization is but a speck of time in the history of the galaxy. Other civilizations could have risen and fallen repeatedly over time and are too far away for us to find evidence of them.

It sounds pessimistic, but escaping from Earth would require my own “Second Epiphany” (or else a real one with aliens).  Check also this Washington Post op-ed Sunday June 13, "Contacting aliens could end all life on earth. Let’s stop trying.  Whatever the UFO report says, it’s time to set some rules for talking to extraterrestrials "

Friday, June 11, 2021

Johnny Harris explains "Why I Left the Mormon Church"


LDS temple Salt Lake, 1940s, family estate picture

Independent journalist Johnny Harris explains, on a 23-minute video today, “Why I Left the Mormon Church”.

He had graduated from Brigham Young University (Wikipedia has just posted personal data which shows him to be 33), and married (Iz) and had a child, and moved to Washington DC.  He had done missionary work, at his own expense, which is presented as knocking on doors and proselytizing, and said he was going through an internal mental review of his own faith, often on bike rides or runs. It struck him one day that he could not commit himself further to the collective cause of the church.  He confronted Iz, who first thought that could end their marriage, but then Iz joined him in the same separate introspection.  They would have to raise their boys to become much more independent thinkers.

He does review the four major ordinances of the Church as baptism, confirmation, endowment (a special ritual) and marriage.   Descendants can do rituals for your soul after you decease. The whole setup (eternal family) imputes a collective solidarity that “takes care of everyone” who has an otherwise rightful place within the church.  But this amounts to a right-wing form of “socialism” or the psyche.  In the distant past, the Mormons were a persecuted group, and could understand the idea of an identity of a lived experience of oppression, with an uncanny parallel to today’s woke Left, but with other groups. Harris does mention the homophobia of the LDS church of the past, and it seems directly related to the idea of social solidarity as expressed in reliable procreation within a family expressing traditional gender roles. 

So Johnny’s journey seems to be one of leaving tribalism for individualism.  He can do this with an entire family.  For an individual like me, it is more problematic.  That’s particularly troubling if I were taken out by someone else’s violence (which I have avoided, turning 78 in July, having avoided HIV and COVID).  With no community behind me, that’s the end.  No funeral, nothing, just erased. Maybe because of someone else’s indignation and anger. You really have to want to be saved.

 I visited the Sal Lake area once, in May 1981. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

"Why British People Can't Donate Blood in America" from Real Science



“Why British People Can’t Donate Blood in America”, from Real Science (May 15, 2021). 

This is relatively little known, but Americans who have spent more than 90 days in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s cannot give blood.

It started with an epidemic of mad cow disease in Britain in the 1980s. It is closely related to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans (or subacute spongiform encephalopathy). 

The cause of the disease is a misfolded protein, which (like a strangelet) causes other proteins it touches to be refolded.

The science of prions (“protein infectious molecules”) became known in a Discover magazine article in 1983, about the time AIDS was a mystery but prions have nothing to do with AIDS (fortunately).  Curiously “prion” chemistry might be significant in extraterrestrial biology if we ever find it (like on Titan’s lakes).

There is a new indirect blood test oft CJD prion proteins in people who may eventually develop symptoms.

Wikipedia embed of laboratory stain or brain of infected animal, click for attribution