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. 

Update: July 21, 2018

National Geographic will distribute the movie to theater is New York and LA on September 14, 2018 and everywhere on September 21.

The trailer does show Jack Andraka's acceptance of his science fair award in 2013.  Jack is in Sierra Leone for the summer of 2018 on a Truman Scholarship.

Update: August 25, 2018

NatGeo tweeted me a link to the official site which says the film starts in New York Sept. 14, LA on Sept. 21, and in other cities Sept. 28.  It will show at the Landmark West End in Washington Sept. 28.  I spoke to the Parkway theater in Baltimore which did not know yet, but it stands to reason that the Maryland Film Festival will want it since Jack Andraka, who appears in the film trailer, went to high school in the Baltimore-Annapolis area.  I guess with the Orioles and Marlins not doing well, Baltimore can boast of Jack and Luke Andraka as their heroes, just as Miami can offer David Hogg (who will surely be the subject of more festival documentary feature film before long, maybe self-produced). Oh, the Texas Rangers aren't too good, either;  maybe young science documentary videographer (climate change, animals) Dallas Taylor (an appropriate first name) can pick up the slack for that city. 

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.

Update: Oct. 14

The name of the film seems to have changed to "Woodland". 

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. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"So You Want to Own a Fox": Is he (Loki the Red Fox) more like a dog or a cat?

So You Want to Own a Fox: The Instinct” is the first video in a series with Loki the Red Fox.

The video makes it clear that a fox is normally a wild animal, not bred for domestication (although in Russia it is). Foxes normally don't make satisfactory pets. 

Before I sold the house, there were some red foxes that would come into the yard, eat mice and snakes, and take naps.  One or two of them obviously recognized me, probably because there is a fox den on a hill behind a church I have attended.  Foxes in some ways behave more like cats than dogs, having developed behaviors through convergent evolution.

At one point Loki takes the car keys to mark them with his scent.  I had a stray cat in Dallas try to take my car keys once.  The cat would return after several days of hunting.  He knew how to open doors. 

The foxes in my yard stayed very healthy living on what they can catch in the wild. A fox fed human food would probably develop Type II diabetes.

YouTube has videos involving servals and other larger cats. Particularly in Africa, some larger cats stay in human homes and will bond with humans and remember where they are welcomed and get food. But servals, according to the literature, require enormous space and natural space to be kept.  Many wild mammals, especially carnivores, will bond with humans when they have favorable experiences.  You have to be pretty smart to hunt for a living. 

The Wikipedia picture shows a Russian domesticated red fox. 
By Kayfedewa at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Update:  March 17, 2018 

Loki has passed away, filmmaker link here.

Before I sold the house and moved, a red fox whom I named Reid got so he would watch me open the garage and make eye contact.  He was still a wild animal but he definitely understood something about humans and who he liked.  He lived in the woods above a nearby church I had attended.  He probably hunts over a square mile radius.  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Logan Paul: "Real Life Pokemon Go in Tokyo"

OK, here is my token short film from Logan Paul: “Real Life Pokemon Go in Tokyo”.

This reminds me of a Friday night in July 2016 (before the election, before Trump’s convention) when I saw some friends from Town DC near Angelika Film Center in Fairfax VA when the U Street area of DC had a power outage – playing Pokemon.

I don’t have a lot to say about Paul’s insensitive gaffe on Dec. 31.  I tend not to react to these things as much as others. 

The picture above is a source location for a lot of manga and Danganronpa, which Reid Ewing shows on his Twitter feed.  

By ElHeineken - Own work, CC BY 4.0, Link

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Longtime Companion", an obituary euphemism, recalls the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic in New York

I do recall seeing “Longtime Companion” (Samuel Goldwyn Films), directed by Norman Rene and written by Craig Lucas, in the early 1990s, after I had returned from Dallas (where I was living when the epidemic struck) to DC.

The film gets its title from the early refusal of the New York Times to acknowledge gay lovers as partners, but rather called them “longtime companions”.

The film covers the growing awareness of the epidemic in the earliest days, starting in 1981 with the earliest rumors about Kaposi’s sarcoma.  I didn’t actually see the rumors until I picked up a “This Week in Texas” magazine at a screening of “Making Love” at Northpark in Dallas in February 1982, and saw mention of the unusual “cancer”.  By late 1982, there were only four cases in Dallas, but it would explode in late 1983.

The film is set mainly in Manhattan and Fire Island (the Pine and Cherry Grove) which I had visited often in the 1970s when I lived in the Cast Iron Building myself.
Full film link is here
Attribution link for “The Judy Garland Memorial Parkway” between the Pines and the Grove. 
By Dinker022089 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Colonizing Titan ("Outward Bound" series): The solar system's center for AI, where computing is so efficient that people upload their minds to the iCloud

Isaac Arthur offers the 30-minute animated narrated film “Colonizing Titan” in his “Outward Bound” series that has covered Venus, Mars, and will later cover the moons of Jupiter and Jupiter itself.  A spaceship colony called Borman seems to be the focal point of all the colonization.

The key idea is that Titan has enormous resources of hydrocarbons, but also its low temperatures makes the thermodynamics of computing and manufacturing by robots much more efficient than on Earth. 

He proposes tethered columns of ramas with artificial gravity by rotation for livable habitats, but also claims that computing is so efficient that people will be able to live without bodies inside computers once their minds are uploaded.  Titan could become the lodestone of artificial intelligence for the solar system.  I guess the people who keep their bodies (and have access to sex and fantasies of sexual attractiveness) will use Andraka nanobots in their bloodstreams to stay healthy.
If people could be uploaded to AI machines, they could become immortal and not need to reproduce.  Peter Thiel would approve. 

Update: Jan. 24 

New video story on MSN about another planed mission to Titan (robots only). 

Monday, January 08, 2018

"Out of the Cold": Muslims shelter the homeless in Toronto

Out of the Cold” (2014) is a half-hour documentary showing Muslins sheltering the homeless.

This facility is the Jaffari Communitt Center in Toronto. Despite Canada’s welfare and refugee programs, there is considerable homelessness and poverty and many people do not make enough to afford apartments. 

During the Ontario winters, the homeless spend the night on cots along the halls.  Volunteers spend the night.  On the other hand the working poor do not stay there but are fed and use community assistance, which is about 80% local government funded.

One (Gentile) volunteer had been homeless, had Parkinsons, and had lost an apartment when a leasse was not renewed and the landlord wouldn't go month-to-month. 

Many of the recipients are not Muslims.

There are many personal interviews, about walking in others’ shoes as an act of faith. The faith makes considerable demands for service.  The volunteer time and effort here must be considerable. 

There is a lot of emphasis on the role of luck in the lives of the homeless.

One beneficiary was actually a graduate student quite brilliant in mathematics.  Some scholarship money was raised for him.  So this was a striking narrative (compare June 10, 2017 AOPS). 

Wikipedia attribution link 

Related: New York Times article by Abnnie Correal, "How I Approached a Story about the Homeless". 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

"Blow Up": 1966 film anticipates what could happen today with amateur youtubers

I don’t find a review of “Blow Up” on my legacy doaskdotell site, but I recall seeing it while in graduate school at KU, I think early in 1967.

I mentioned it recently on Wordpress so I wanted to give it a nod here.

The film, directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni and produced for MGM by Carlo Ponti, concerns a fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who discovers he may have inadvertently filmed a murder. 

 One of the women in the picture, Jane, Vanessa Redgrave, tries to recover the picture.


This was a big hit at the time with students who saw the movie.

What if you were out filming YouTube today and this happened with you on a digital camera? Zapruder? 

Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Maryon Park in London where film takes place.  I might have been there in 1982 or 2001, ly Le5zek, under CCSA 3.0. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

"Amistad": major slavery drama that took place 20 years before the Civil War

I recall seeing Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad” from Dreamworks at the Mall of America (in the days that the theater complex belonged to General Cinema) in December of 1997.  I think that day a woman’s purse somehow got hooked onto my car and I had to call her to return it.  I think she wound up buying a copy of my book.

And a good friend of mine from the Libertarian Party of Minnesota who would arrange my Hamline speech in 1998 would say that the film was “libertarianesque”.

It’s based on a book by Alexis Pate, who spoke at ReliaStar, where I worked in downtown Minneapolis at the time.

The film concerns a slave ship in 1839, and a rebellion of the slaves (Mende tribesmen) when crossing to Cuba from the United States.  They had been kidnapped into the slave trade. Once in the US, their case wound up before the U.S. Supreme Court, twenty years before the Civil War.  The second president John Adams (Anthony Hopkins) had been instrumental in their release. Djimon Honsou plays the rebel Cinque.  Matthew McConaughey plays attorney Baldwin and Morgan Freeman, his assistant Joadson.

“This Dangerous Book”, by Steve and Jackie Green (who founded the Museum of the Bible), takes up the story in some detail. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

"Pink Triangle": a gay Nazi undercover informant has his own crisis of conscience

Pink Triangle” (2014), directed by Ryan Jeffrey Davis, produced at the University of North Carolina, sets up a covert homosexual Harmon (Jon Parker Douglas) who is enlisted by the Third Reich to entrap other homosexuals.

After he sees one of his contacts executed during interrogation, he must face his own past and is own conscience.  The lead character is quite attractive.  With Bill Moser as the intrusive Colonel and Davis Harper as one of the marks.  

The script refers to the practice of "naming names" which Randy Shilts would describe later when he wrote about gays and lesbians in the US military ("Conduct Unbecoming").

You get the impression that the Nazi elimination of homosexuals was part of the idea of not permitting individuals with any imperfections that could need attention to continue to exist in their reich.