Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"Why Humans Are Obsessed with Cats" (they domesticated themselves)



Here’s a Facebook shortWhy Humans Are Obsessed with Cats” (6 minutes).

The domestic cat domesticated itself about 4000 years ago, self-selecting to be welcome around humans. It seems to be the only animal that can survive on its own in the wild and yet invite itself into a human home, and remember every home it has ever been in.


The short is based on the book “The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World” (2016, Abigail Tucker).

  
Some slightly larger wildcats, like the bobcat, cannot legally be kept as pets and safely live in a home, but will befriend humans and return to homes where they have been fed, even days later after hunting miles away.  Cats (apart from cetaceans) may represent the apex of mammalian evolution (you could include bears) without developing bipedalism, which gives primates the ability to use their hands to make tools and becomes an enormous advantage, giving reason for a larger brain to develop.

Monday, June 18, 2018

"False Negative": curious gay Italian short film that starts out in a straight disco



Domenico Sarsco (Luca) and Emanuele Gampa appear in the 23-minute Italian short film “False Negative” (“Falso Negativo”), written and directed by Dario Lauritano


Luca and a younger friend get in to a straight disco in Milan after waiting in line. The younger friend tries to come on to Luca in a restroom (unusual behavior in bar). Luca tells him to go away but has to drive him home anyway.

One the way home, they’re caught in a drag race or road rage situation with some hooligans but manage to get away. Then Luca suddenly decides he is interested in his younger partner after all.

This is a rather strange story concept.  I though that the title would refer to HIV.

Luca is particularly appealing physically.  Both men speak English as well as Italian and can sing to 80s music on the radio.  I thought he spoke Spanish to one guy in the bar.
  
I have yet to go to Italy. Picture, from Winstar in Oklahoma.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"What If?" Trump shows Kim Jong Un propaganda film



Donald Trump and the White House had a propaganda film called “What If” produced to show to Kim Jong Un, four minutes.


The Huffington Post examines how it was wrongly connected to a real Hollywood company, “Destiny Films”.

The film sounds like an obvious sales pitch intending to manipulate an audience. It is possible, of course, to imagine a unified Korea (but what about the communism?) 

Trump says the buttered up Kim Jong Un at the meeting (to the great offence to the victims of his regime) because he doesn’t want Americans some day have to deal with nuclear explosions on their homeland (he didn’t mention EMP specifically, but he knows about it). Trump has given credit to the sacrifices of the Warmbier family. 
   
Trump had been coached starting in late winter to tone down the rhetoric against Kim.
   
The “What If” could be continued:  :What if my own blogging and writing output (and music) is one lifelong process piece that gradually gets less bad?  The jury is still out.
  
By Zubin12 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"A Colony on Titan": short



Dreksler Askal’s “A Colony on Titan” (6 minutes) offers an animated view at what Titan really looks like if you actually land there.


Admittedly, it is ten times as far from the Sun as Earth (Mars is 1.5 times as far) and it may take a century or more for humans to even envision going there.  I think Huygens took about eight years to get there.

Gravity is 1/7 of earths, and climbing 12,000 mountains of ice and sand would be easy (in a space suit).

But what would a live colony there look like, at almost -300 F.

The hydrocarbon chemistry is there to support maybe some kind of prokaryote-like cell, if it can find an energy source.  Maybe there is something like a slime mold.  And there is a subsurface water layer, heated by gravitational tug from Saturn, which could have life, in comparison to Europa.
There will be volcanoes with ice as lava.

It’s rather interesting that the fictitious company on “Days of our Lives” is called Titan.
  
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of cryovolcano 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"Standing on Ceres": with 3% gravity



Standing on Ceres: Closest Dwarf Planet to Earth”, by Drexler Astral.


Gravity would be only 3% of Earth’s.  The dwarf planet is 584 miles in diameter, so the horizon is very near.  There are salt flats, and a 12000 foot mountain of salt, almost Biblical.
  
It would seem to take very little effort to function there, until your bones got weaker.

By NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / Max Planck Institute for Solar System Studies / German Aerospace Center / IDA / Planetary Science Institute - http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA20350 (see also http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news-detail.html?id=6168), Public Domain, Link

Saturday, June 09, 2018

"Harley": a gay bodybuilder teachers his lover self-defense after a gay bashing




Harley” (12 minutes), is a short film set in San Francisco, by Bea Schreiber and Blinking Dog Pictures. 

A bodybuilder Harley (Lars Slind) grieves when his male lover Lucas (Caleb Hoffman) is brutally beaten and in a coma for a while.

Harley’s former girl friend (Hannah Elder) and roommate counsels him that if he doesn’t control his desire for revenge, he could wind up in prison.


But when Lucas recovers, Harley starts to teach him karate and self-defense. In one scene, Harley tells Lucas that he is fascinated with him (Lucas) because he (Lucas) is “feminine” – right out of Rosenfels.

The photography could use a little more consistent definition in spots. 
  
Wikipedia attribution link for San Francisco skyscraper picture, by Harmonywriter, CCSA 3/0

Friday, June 08, 2018

"Japan's Baby Drain": demographic winter



SBS (Australian) presents “Japan’s Baby Drain” (16 min, 2013), now five years old, presents rather bluntly Japan’s “demographic winter” of low birth rates.


The film starts in a mountain village of 2000 people, Nanmoku, which has a big school that used to have 2000 students and now has just 37.  A first grader is taught by a male teacher all by himself.
  
The young adults move to the cities, where the problem is less obvious.

As in western countries, women have their own careers and approach men in earnings. They postpone marriage and having babies.  Long hours in the Japanese workplace are said to be part of the problem.

A young woman, who plays the harp in an orchestra, is interviewed, and says at 32 she is still “picky” about men.

The film also looks at the eldercare problem.  Japanese assisted living or nursing homes depend on foreign labor, but immigration laws make that very difficult (to pass the language exams).

The Japanese government has implemented policies to encourage marriage and procreation.
  
The film doesn’t mention LGBT issues, which would obviously be pertinent to the birth rate.
  
Wikipedia attribution link for baseball stadium in Japan picture, by DX Broadrec, CCSA 3.0 

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

I did see "The Last Picture Show" one time; it looks like Thalia, TX never even had one



I do remember seeing Peter Bogdonavicy’s “The Last Picture Show” (1971, Columbia), with Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges, early in my own young adult working career.


I recently drove through the town of Thalia, Texas not far from Vernon, in the north Texas prairies. Indeed, it looks like a ghost town, with a few broken houses and no businesses.


This is Trump country, but Trump hasn’t done anything for this part of his base. Other towns, like Seymour (a county seat) are in bad shape.



 Lake Kemp has a small state-run observation deck but is private land, a good place for hidden intrigues.


Sunday, June 03, 2018

"You're Not Edgy, You're Just Lazy": a conservative college student takes on a "cultural Marxist"?




You’re Not Edgy, You’re Just Lazy” (4 Minutes) from College Humor.


Checking your mail is “invisible labor”?  Is checking Facebook labor? 

Is the rentier class really lazy?

Is “she-he” socialist, communist, anarchist? 

Is cultural Marxism just a front for personal laziness?
  
Conservatives will love these videos.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

"Wild Bobcat in my House": what we learn by communicating with a wild animal



Wild Bobcat in My House indeed ends with the cat playing with the family dog.

  
Bobcats, even raised from kittenhood, become wild animals.  They need zoo-like (or preferably acres of) natural man-free space to hunt in. They cannot become reliable indoor pets.   Nevertheless, it appears that, when living free, they remember humans who treated them well and will return for visits.

In this very short video from Vancouver, WA, this bobcat returns and greets a young man he remembers before going off.   But he wants the man to accompany him and learn how to hunt. 

Likewise, in a short video linked on the Feb 5 posting, Benji shows his “love” for a teen boy, perhaps 14.  The cat is marking the boy as part of his “pride”.  This can be dangerous to the boy if the cat gets careless.  But the cat wants the boy to go out and learn to hunt and survive on what he can catch.  The cat is the ultimate “doomsday prepper”.  The cat believes he is superior to the humans in his world because he (Benji) can survive by himself, and humans ought to do the same.
   
It would seem that for a teen, this is indeed a valuable, character-building “life lesson”, to communicate with a wild creature of high individual consciousness and problem solving ability, but whose view of the world is very difficult from a human’s.  Cats are both like us and different from us, but at the top of their own food chain.   Young adults who have learned these kinds of communication skills early tend to do very well in life.

The cat apparently understands that humans, like them, grow from infancy to adulthood and that it takes longer for humans to grow up than it takes them. 

Update: June 1

 Apparently the state (PA) forced the owners to give up Benji, QA video. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Spielberg's "The Sugarland Express": a chase across Texas starts in the Houston bayous, now after Harvey



Sugarland, TX lies on state route 6, SE bound from the west side of Houston, eventually leading down into Galveston County and passing through Alvin and then Santa Fe, whose high school had the recent shootings in May 2018.  The culture and appearance of the area is homogenous, with stretches of little businesses broken up by bayous.  There is a “Grant Lake” park visible from Route 6.

In 1974 Steven Spielberg filmed “The Sugarland Express”, (Universal) based on a 1969 incident. Lou Jean (Goldie Hawn) wants to get her husband Clovis (William Atherton) out of jail.  With some gender bending the plot starts, with kidnapping their child in foster care, but soon as complications develop they take a police officer (Michael Sacks) hostage, and pretty much “Waltz across Texas” as the police caravans march.

This would be a very grave kind of situation to be caught up in as a civilian.
 
  
I think I saw this in New Jersey in the summer of 1974 before I moved into “The City”.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

"How Many More?" or "We Didn't Sign Up for This"




How Many More?” aka “We Didn’t Sign Up for This”.

The film comes from Giffords, with the alternate name “Vote Them Out”.


The 8-minute film, shot 2.35:1, invites several Parkland High School students to tell their experiences Feb. 14, 2018 – Valentine’s Day – in first person.

Of course, as to “signing up” – one could have said that if you were a young man drafted during Vietnam (as on CNN’s special tonight “1968”). 

This sounds like the “skin in the game” problem: for some people to have the absolute right to defend their property with minimal possible risk to themselves, then members of the public – especially students in public schools – are put at risk by the sheer volume of guns in circulation compared to other developed countries.
  
David Hogg listed this film on his own Twitter feed.  A good question would be, should ordinary citizens become active in getting other people to register to vote and come to the polls when they are afraid to come.  That's what happened in Mississippi in 1964. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

"Among Us: Interacting in Real Life": social experiment "on the beach" (almost)



A Facebook short, “Among Us: Interacting in Real Life” experiments with forced social interaction.  My own late mother would use the term "real life". 
  
People assembled and walk slowly on a boardwalk (looks like Southern California) and are prompted through headphones to interact with each other.


Some of it seems a little bit like staring or scoping, but then the talk group begins.

The film mentions the depression that follows for many people with indiscriminate use of and addiction to social media.
  
YouTube does offer a horror feature “Among Us” for rent that looks worth looking into another time.

Friday, May 25, 2018

"What Politicians Do to Our Kids" from "DavidHogg111"




David Hogg made a great 23-minute live video of how he and a friend set up a “die in” early this morning at a Publix store in south Florida. 

The best name for this video is “What Politicians Do to Our Kids” (which is actually a shorter video on another tweet).


The demonstrations worked.  Publix has suspended contributions to an NRA-backed politician in Florida, Adam Putnam.

Nassim Taleb would say such politicians don't have their own "skin in the game". 

So maybe Hogg is now the NRA’s worst nightmare.  He is quick-witted and articulate and can outmaneuver right-wing zealots who fall for his honeypot.
  
In Oklahoma City today, a mentally ill man shot three people in a restaurant, but two “good Samaritans” killed the suspect and prevented a cranage.  Is this a “good guy with a gun” scenario?

There was an incident in a middle school in Indiana today, and a science teacher was the hero. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Why Do We Boil Lobsters Alive?" Even at home!




Tech Insider asks “Why Do We Boil Lobsters Alive?” Ask a cooking school. 


Turns out it is because a dangerous bacteria that is hard to remove with cooking grows quickly after the lobster’s death.

But can lobsters feel pain?  They are arthropods.  Like insects.

Switzerland and New Zealand have outlawed the practice.

I can remember a friend who moonlighted at the Giant in the early 1970s, and one time when I went to meet him there he was tending to the lobsters  (In DADT III book chapter 2).
  
Yorgos Lanthmos (“The Lobster”) would approve.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"Could You Land on Jupiter?"



Could You Land on Jupiter?” (or “What Would Happen if Humans Tried to Land on Jupiter? (4-1/2 min) , from Tech Insider, gives us an almost definitive animated look at what the rapidly increasingly dense layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere look like a fictitious astronaut passes through them.


The pressures and particularly temperatures get hotter than the surface of the Sun. 


Eventually you get to a layer of metallic hydrogen (rather like mercury) where you bobble up and down.  The illustration of what you might “see” is indeed interesting.

Patreon has a similar video “What Would Happen If You Fell into Saturn?” (8 min).  Saturn, while smaller, still probably has the metallic hydrogen layer, and everything dissolves in it.

This is not the same video about Jupiter's internals as Joe Scott's on Sept. 24, 17.

By Kelvinsong - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"What Will It Take to Stay Healthy in Space? Practical Artificial Gravity": short


“What Will It Take to Stay Healthy in Space?: Practical Artificial Gravity” (with Fraser Cain).


Cain takes up the O’Neill Cylinder, but also looks at the idea of smaller centrifuges for astronauts to spend time in.

Differential gravity, where you feel more gravity in your feet than head, causes nausea.
Astronaut Scott Kelly could not walk or function very well for several hours after he got off the space station when it landed.  Exercise alone would not do the trick.

What happens when you stand still inside an O’Neill Cyclinder habitat and drop an object?  What happens if you try to play baseball?

The film says you need at least 20% Earth’s gravity on a moon to function well.
  
Titan’s gravity is only 14% of Earth’s, because it is not very dense.  For Mars it is 38%.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Two Faces": German short film looks at "unit cohesion" of a soccer team with a gay player



Two Faces” (“Zwei Gesichten”), 2014, directed by Christian Slater, is a 22-minute short about a soccer player coming out as gay, eventually to his team.


Jonathan (David Bruckner) has been dating Hannah, who is being to suspect because of his inattentiveness.  Pretty soon the team starts to wonder, and some intolerance breaks out toward the end.

There is some reassurance during the closing credits.Yet, 2014 sounds rather late for this to be an issue in Germany. 

In the middle of the film, the coach talks about unit cohesion for the team, playing as one man.  Sound familiar?

Olympic Stadium picture in Berlin, 
By Chrisgj6 at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5, Link  I recall seeing this in 1999 on a visit. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"The Celluloid Closet": When did Hollywood get comfortable with homosexuality?


I do barely recall seeing the 1995 documentary “The Celluloid Closet” (Sony Pictures Classics), by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, about LGBT actors (actresses) and gay characters in cinema (right off the bat, the 1993 film “Philadelphia” about AUDS comes to mind).The movie came out (pun) about the time I started working on my first book. 


The closet door was getting pretty transparent by the time Clinton took office, which could have helped push the debate on gays in the military.  “Serving in Silence” and “Coming Out Under Fire” and “Any Mother’s Son”.


“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Suddenly Last Summer” get excerpted, as well as the love-in at the end of “Spartacus”.
 
The complete film can be rented on YouTube for $2.99.
  
The two directors recently did an award winning short about a hospice, “End Game”.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"Faking Gravity in a Spaceship": Let's start learning how artificial g's really work



Faking Gravity in a Spaceship” (4 minutes) is a typical YouTube video showing how artificial gravity would work for inhabitants of a rotating space station.
  

Asa you climb a ladder you feel “lighter”(until you reach the center, where you feel nothing).  As you run faster you may feel “heavier”.
  
What I wanted to see is what happens if you drop something. It would seem to more horizontally, I think/  What happens when you pour coffee for dinner?
  
The video does mention the Coriolis effect.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"This Anti-Sex-Trafficking Law Could End Internet Freedom": Vox has hard-hitting short film about FOSTA



Danush Parvaneh of Vox has a short film, largely animated, explaining the harm that FOSTA (also coupled with SESTA) can do, leading to self-censorship on the Internet.  It does explain the box it puts platforms in by weakening Section 230.  The film has the shocking title "This Anti-Sex-Trafficking Law Could End Internet Freedom". 
  
  
Backpage was seized even before the bill became law so, despite Bob Portman’s statement, it calls into question why the law was necessary.

The law could lead to some platforms shutting down other services or certain kinds of customers who don't seem transparent. 
    
The film also delineates prostitution from trafficking, consensual activity from underage.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

"Breaking Bitcoin 2017: Cash Attacks on SGX" with Daniel; some mischief with blockchain



Continuing from yesterday, Daniel Gruss (and Michael Schwartz) have a (mischevious) “film” lecture “Breaking Bitcoin 2017: Cash Attacks on SGX”, from Graz University in Austria.


It strikes me that any attack on the blockchain technology (which I have not yet taken the time I should to understand) is conceptually very serious.

After all, any successful alien civilization (like around Tabby’s Star) will use blockchain and digital currency.
  
The talk is well illustrated with charts and pictures. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Daniel Gruss XWDSkate -- the same as in the "ethical hacker" who broke Intel at Graz University?



I’m curious (yellow).  Is Daniel Gruss of XWDSkate in Bavaria the same as the Daniel Gruss at Graz University who did a lot of work on Spectre and Meltdown, the Intel vulnerability?
  
  
In the extreme sports video it rather looks like the same guy.

The skating stunts are impressive here, but I guess Shaun White comes to mind.
Is this the same guy?

I am reminded of Shane Nelson's "A Film in Three Parts" (2002), which I saw at Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. One of the three parts comprised skateboarding on stair railings. 
  
Logan Paul should try this.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"The Existential Horror of Logan Paul": nice collage outdoes the vlogger's own work



The Existential Horror of Logan Paul: A Video Essay” (18 min) is a nice collage biography of Logan Paul, for starters.  The filmmaker is Big Joel, who says he is about the same age as Paul, and the quality of film is impressive.  (By the way, some of David Hogg’s teenage film work, before the incident, is outstanding technically; look at it on YouTube.)
  

Paul, with his “vlography” is presented as the new reality-video entertainer who is part Seinfeld, and part Apprentice for Donald Trump, while under age 25.  

The video really focuses on his body; and straight men sometimes want to outdo gay men in looks on videos (gay videos these days show too many tattoos, which is not representative of who is in the discos).  He is always clean cut, extremely muscular, pretty much the Quezacoatal arrival.

At around 12 minutes into the film, Big Joel gets into the subject of salesmanship, selling these little socks and clothes and banners.  I’m reminded of “Blogtyrant” and the idea of building a fan base and mailing list of “leads” to sell to (life insurance companies do that, however).  All the sudden, Paul’s world is not just about a masculine style (Rosenfels-talk) of entertainment and manipulation; it is about getting you to buy something.  Isn’t that what capitalism is about?  Isn’t that what supports the Internet?

Something funny shows up – just a little chest hair, above the middle, onto the pecs.  Had he been shaving all this time, or is he just getting older (now 23)?  Body versatility really goes on in the soap operas these days (see TV blog, May 10, and what happened to Will on “Days”).  And then, the Satie music comes back. French satire.
  
Whatever his behavior in Japan, when Paul travels overseas, he is the show, not the place he visits.  If you go to Dubai, give me a tour of the Burj and of the “Palms”, not just of yourself.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Marijuana: An Unbanked Industry", short film by the Federalist Society, at Cato Institute today



The Federalist Society and the Cato Institute presented a short film today, directed by Matt Wood: “Marijuana: An Unbanked Industry”, about 11 minutes (short).


  
I could not find a YouTube for the film, but it starts at 2:20 on this Facebook video
  
The panel discussion that follows will be posted on my “Bills News Commentary” page today.

The film explains briefly why, in the numerous states in which medical and now even recreational marijuana is legal, the retail businesses that sell them must remain all cash.  Federal rules against money laundering scare the banks away from offering any connection at all to these businesses.
  
Reason TV has a 4-minute embeddable video from Feb. 2015, "Protecting Marijuana’s $2.7 Billion Cash Industry when Banks Won’t".

  
There is a review on the Major Issues Blog July 30, 2017, of the CNBC film “Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush”.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

"Moldylocks and the Problem of Tribalism": Us v. Them



Moldylocks and the Problem of Tribalism” (10 min) by Micah Curtis, lays things on the line for violent campus protesters. 

  
The sponsor is “Rayce Riot Apparel, T-shirts for shitlords”.  Well, maybe, king-sized beds are not needed.
  
Micah talks about some demonstrations in California, following Charlottesville, and somewhat equates Antifa to communism. But he makes a very simple criticism of tribalism as simply “us v. them”.  Milo gets mentioned.  Moldylocks seems to be the name he assigned to a female demonstrator who got punched back.
  
Indeed, Jesus’s teaching of “turn the other cheek” seems like a four-word answer to tribalism.
   
I have started reading Jonah Goldberg’s “Suicide of the West”.

Monday, May 07, 2018

"The Religion of Identity Politics": animated short




Sam Harris has a 5-minute animated short, “The Religion of Identity Politics” (2016, before the election.
  
  
He makes the point that an argument from a disinterested party is more likely to adhere to facts and lead to well thought out policy than an “argument” – rather a plea – from a victim of oppression or discrimination.
  
A major exception to this would be when the previously engaged or victimized speaker actually can recite facts from his or her own experience.

Harris believes that people affected by a problem are often less objective than others.  For example, some parents of children with autism are more likely to believe unfounded theories about vaccines and autism.  Out of work coal miners may believe that climate change science is a hoax of the elites. 
  
I think this video is significant because many people, especially on the Left, want to reduce “the privilege of being listened to” to those who actually have engagement in being responsible for others.  In this new era of private censorship and takedowns of objectionable sites, this idea could become significant.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

"1000 Cut Journey": virtual reality experience at Tribeca in being racially profiled



I didn’t get to the Virtual arcade that shows “1000 Cut Journey” (12 min) at Tribeca. 


I am not sure if Tribeca will offer a VR mobile version similar to the NYTimes series from Annapurna Pictures with its iPhone app, but it isn’t there now (for pay).  The tickets were pricey.

Here is the link (and detailed link)  for Tribeca’s Immersion project with ATT 
  
Stanford University’s link for the film.    Tribeca’s own film guide link
  
Engadget has a review explaining how the VR film shows the hidden structure of racism. 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

"Kokolores": 1920's film part of "No Spectators: Burning Man Exhibit" at the Renwick in Washington DC



Today’s little film is called “Kokolores”, a mock 1920s German vaudeville film in Black and White that has apparently played at the Burning Man artificial city at Black Rock City (150 miles E of Reno) every early fall.

It is presented free at the Renwick Smithsonian museum across Pennsylvania Ave from the White House, as part of the “No Spectators: Burning Man Exhibit”.. It has two acts with bizarre characters in contorted physical exercise positions.


The film purports to come from “Obscure Pictures”, and before the film starts, the pre-credits invite you to meet your moviegoing neighbors, some socialization that would please David Brooks.

There is also a “pre-show” with some more acrobats.

Logan Paul has video about how he lost everything at Burning Man (14 min).  Not his body, which is impressive.   

Here is the actual “burning” of “The Man” in 2013.  


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

"Populism Is Reshaping Our World" (from The Economist)



Populism Is Reshaping Our World” (from Economist films, 15 minutes):


The film starts with the rejection of a referendum in Italy, but soon gets into the basic causes of populism. While today it is often related to protectionism and restricting immigration, as cause of the loss of jobs, as well as anti-intellectualism, the film maintains that it is fueled by the way technology can destroy jobs, but that has always been true. It’s also understandable that an individualistic culture, which has been particularly focused on gender economic equality, can drive a “winner takes all” economy;  if people don’t give back on their own, you’ll see the rise of authoritarianism.

What Is Populism and How Is It Shaping Global Politics from ThinkProgress makes similar points (5 minutes).  Populists tend to state solutions in very simple terms.
   
Both short films come from early 2017, shortly after Trump took office.

Let me also point to this 90-minute inteview in Britain about Brexit, "The Rise of Populism and the Backlash Against the Elites", here (2016). 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

"The Five Tallest Skyscrapers by 2021", really Six; four are in Asia



Here are “The Five Tallest Skyscrapers by 2021”, a short video, posted by B1M in late 2017.


I got into this after seeing a film “On Borrowed Time” set in Dubai at FilmfestDC.

This short maintains that there are two more super towers in China planned, both over 2000 feet, as well as one in Bangkok, Thailand and one more in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that will be taller than the Petronas Towers.

But the largest of all will be a tower of one kilometer, over 3000 feet, in the port city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, by 2021.

That is as great a vertical drop as the distance from base to summit along much of the Blue Ridge in Virginia and North Carolina.

But there are also reports that there will be another tower in Dubai by 2020, taller than the Burj Khjalifa.

Authoritarian countries still want to put on the pretense of living well. And people in Asia and the Middle East certainly seem interested in creating this artificial luxury in challenging environments.
 
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Tianjin, site of one of the towers. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

"Shanghai: Life in the Megacity" makes authoritarian capitalism look impressive


Shanghai: Life in the Megacity” (25 minutes, 2018), a "DW Documentary" narrated by Mario Schmidt, is an impressive look at daily life in China’s new upper middle class (mostly) in China’s largest port city.

  
The city looks clean and the air clear in this promotion of statist capitalism. The famous financial district sparkles at night, with modern city (24 million) on both sides of a meandering river. 
  
There is a lot of attention to family life in high-rise apartments, which typically cost about one million euros for 800 square feet.   Families often hesitate to have a second child, which is now legal (see WSJ story today )
   
The film tracks the lives of some average people:  a package delivery man, who makes about $1000 eu a month and often delivers to workplaces, and a tattooed female food blogger who tries all of Shanghai’s trendy restaurants and follows all of Blogtyrant’s recommendations in growing her following. 
   
The film points out that young adults from the country have to get permits to live and work in the big cities. 
    
There is also a stage show, which is popular but a but prudish by western standards.

Picture: 
By Architect (Jin Mao Tower): Adrian SmithArchitect(SWFC): Kohn Pedersen FoxPhotographer:Jakub Hałun - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Sunday, April 29, 2018

"What Really Separates the Rich from the Poor" (from Primed)





“Primed” offers us “What Really Separates the Rich from the Poor”
  
  
Here we go, with personal responsibility.  The rich invest in themselves.  They don’t buy lottery tickets, which they understand is a tax on the poor (something that angers the Left).  They have several passive income streams, rather than trading their time and labor for money (but that’s what the Marxists see as exploitation). 
  
The short is animated, with different forearms drawing Tommy (lazy) and John (industrious). John is drawn as “of color” and Tommy is Aryan, to dispel all the stereotypes.
  
Tommy, as my father would have said, has “no ambition.”  But Macbeth had too much. Looking a few films back, all of the "gifted young adults" (most recently David Hogg) have plenty of ambition.

Friday, April 27, 2018

"Burj Khalifa: Tour and View" in Dubai



"Burj Khalifa: Tour and View from the 148th Floor" (“at the TOP SKY”) gives a stunning tour of Dubai (United Arab Emirates) from the observation platform, after serving you phantom wrap meat rolls and taking you up the elevator with a virtual ticket.


Note the ponds at the base of the building, and the stunning array of architecture below,  It appears to be about a mile to the sea, the Persian Gulf with the “Palms”.

This city certainly gives an impressive experience of modern Arabia, but it is still an authoritarian place. 

There is a review on Wordpress of “On Borrowed Time”, set in Dubai.

Here's a 45-minute documentary on how the Burj was constructed (2016).


Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Burj by Donald Y Tong, unders CCSA 2.5  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

"Pizza Math": Matt and Dan host an AOPS session to order the right pizza for everyone



The YouTube channel “Matt and Dan” offers the nice little comedy short “Pizza Math”.
  
  
At a party in a ritzy highrise apartment, some young adults make a math problem out of how to order the right pizza to fit everyone’s dietary restrictions.  This really gets into stuff like UCLA's Art of Problem Solving (AOPS). 
  
Everyone is white, and the gay couple is very cis. 
   
It’s a little odd to see 70s style teletypes in the 21st century, as well as 60s style graduate school theorems on a white board.

Somehow this film reminded me of a recent "Crypto Party" in Philadelphia. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"David Hogg Is the NRA's Worst Nightmare": a short film




“David Hogg Is the NRA’s Worst Nightmare and He’s Just Getting Started” (9 minutes), a “short film” from the Outline.


This is the “profanity interview” a bit before Hogg’s 18th birthday (April 12). David Hogg does lay out a policy solution toward the end of the interview.
  
The National Review has its own account of Hogg’s policy proposals.  Hogg will have a book out June 5. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

"Look and See: Wendell Berry's Kentucky": a poet returns to the family farm and laments the corporatizing of agriculture



Look and See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky”, directed by Laura Dunn (and Jef Sewell) with Terrence Malick and Robert Redford as executive producers, aired Monday April 23 on PBS Independent Lens (link). 
  

Berry, after teaching in New York, resettled in his home of Henry County, KY (SW of Cincinnati), on the edge of the Bluegrass area. The film appeared to show tobacco farming early, to demonstrate the manual labor of farm life.  But soon he talked about soybeans and corn.

The film goes on to cover consolidation of farms.


Later Earl Butz, secretary of Agriculture under President Ford after Nixon, appears, who would get into a public fight with the poet over the corporatization of American agriculture.

As the film progresses (following the chapters of Berry’s book) there is more questioning of falsely individualistic values, the idea that if you stayed on the farm you weren’t “smart” enough to become a salaried professional, or a licensed one. In the meantime, in the tone of the film, corporations make the farmers into indentured servants.  Is this film an ode for socialism?  Or is more along the lines of “The Survival Mom”, about real self-sufficiency and localism.

But it was during the Reagan years that I recall that farm prices dropped and started forcing farmers to sell to big companies.

The brief  film has a pace and music score that reminds one of Mallick’s “Tree of Life”. 
   
The film as shown seems to be a condensation of “Look and See; A Portrait of Wendell Berry” (82 min).

Remember how the "Dick and Jane" series starts with "We Look and See". 

Picture: March for Science

Friday, April 20, 2018

"O'Neill Cylinders: Islands in Space": what "Rendezvous with Rama" would look like if filmed



O’Neill Cylinders: Islands in Space “, by Isaac Arthur, in the Outward Bound series, examines the possibility of humans living inside rotating cylinders (or other structures) with artificial gravity, such as described in Arthur C. Clarke’s 1979 novel “Rendezvos with Rama”, which Morgan Freeman has shown interest in producing as a film.


The inspiration for the concept seems to be Gerald T. O’Neill “The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space” (1976), written about the same time as the first Mars Viking landing, when Dan Fry was having multiple Understanding conventions out west of Phoenix in his saucer city at Tonopah (no longer there – now a cotton farm).


An O’Neill cylinder could be strong enough if as long as 20 kilometers and wide as 5 km, and they could be strung together with connectors.  They could be best placed at Lagrange points around the Earth and Moon, especially L4 or L5.  This was a proposal of Keith Henson, also known for controversial legal battles with Scientology (where he wound up sentenced to jail).  

There have been many other proposals in science fiction, such as Babylon 5, and truly large structures like the Bishop’s Ring, or Millendrec Cylinder.

Artificial gravity can make the cylinders livable, and artificial skies and topography can be constructed. Politically, they might become like quasi-sovereign city-states. They might become common when the cost of living there is less than the cost of living in a big city – maybe in a few hundred years or less.
  
My own screenplay “Do Ask Do Tell: Epiphany” describes one building and rotating upright on Titan (moon of Saturn) but with much stronger internal gravity than Titan’s.  It would look interesting in a movie.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Bill Nye: Science Guy": Feature film on PBS POV



PBS POV produced “Bill Nye: Science Guy” itself as a feature film (85 minutes), aired Wednesday April 18 at 10 PN EDT, with a brief director interview afterward (directors are David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg ).
  
The documentary showed Nye as a science teacher, well known for his 30 minute show, and family man. Before it visits the Genesis Ark Encounter theme park in Williamstown, Kentucky, south of Cincinnati, setting up a confrontation with creationism.
  
Neil de Grasse Tyson (from Columbia) appears, and Carl Sagan is sometimes shown in clips.


Later Nye shows footage from a solar sail “space ship” driven by photons.


Nye claims it is morally irresponsible to teach religious doctrine alone as if it replaces science.
  
The film also examines the climate change debate, using Greenland ice core samples to make the point.  The deniers simply view their world differently, more in terms of immediate visible experience controlled by social structures around them.

Picture: March for Science rally, Washington DC, April 14, 2018.