Saturday, July 20, 2019

Recalling "The Matrix" from twenty years ago


Gamespot and David Klein give a half-hour explanation of the three-film “The Matrix” franchise from Warner Brothers, the three films appearing in rather quick succession starting in 1999, so this is the 20th anniversary.

Gamespot gives a pretty good rundown of pre-history, of how the robots won a world war, and created a layered universe where humans were just class instances in one massive OOP reality simulation, which went through various releases.

I remember Neo pretty well (Keanu Reeves), as well as the California freeway pileup in film 2.

I also remember the broken and burned up “real world” surface near the end of film 3.  I think I saw these in the General Cinema (now AMC) auditoriums in the Mall of America upper level.

The “Mobil” – the subway train that connects reality to the simulation, is indeed an interesting concept. The “Mobil” makes little loops and keeps returning to its starting point in Film 2.  I think it was based on the Toronto subway.

Friday, July 19, 2019

"Arrangement": two straight men need help from each other to have girl friends (UK, short)




Arrangement” (Kinoburo), a film by Chadlee Shriker (UK, 6 min), is indeed a bit of a tease. 

Two supposedly straight men need an arrangement meeting in a stall to “initiate” each other before they will be ready for girlfriends.

  
This is indeed a rather odd concept.  That’s what fraternity hazing (or just college hazing, even “tribinals”) used to be for. Matthew Barrett and Laurent de Frontville star as the accidental couple.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

"Klassikko": a Finnish satire where an author becomes the man he wants to be by writing a fictional diary


Since I visited two Finnish museums in Ohio last weekend, I thought I would resurrect the satire movie “Klassikko” (“The Classic”, 2001), directed by Kari Vaananen (Sputnik films), which seems to be an applicable satire about making self-published books sell.  I saw it in a film festival in Minneapolis in the Bell Audtorium at the U in 2002.
A writer, Kari Hotakainen (Martti Suasolo) gets pestered by his publisher when his novels don’t sell well, and he sinks to a midlist author status.  But personal accounts in the form of diaries (like English letters novels) do sell, so he is urged to write a fictional autobiography.  It all sounds pretty self-indulgent.
  
The writer considers buying a used sports car and dickers around with another woman chasing chum who provides the role model for woman chasing he wants to become.  The term MGTOW probably wasn’t in much use in 2001.  He starts becoming the character has has constructed himself to be, almost like he was an actor.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Counting from Infinity": can a documentary about number theory be entertaining? Yes, if the professors are


Monday July 15, Maryland Public Television presented the film “Counting from Infinity: Yitang Zhang and the Twin Prime Conjecture” (2015) from Zalafilms, directed by George Paul Csicsery.

The controversy started with a lecture and paper from the University of New Hampshire in 2013 by the protagonist.


This refers to the existence of a minimum number for which there are infinite prime numbers less than that difference between them. The mathematical proofs (on computers) keep shrinking that minimum to a few hundred now.  The concept is counterintuitive;  you would expect this number to diverge but it does not.

This led to the involvement of the Polymath group at Berkeley, and some papers by young Oxford professor James Maynard from England.
  
I took number theory in my first semester of graduate school at the University of Kansas in 1966.  I can recall the (India-born) professor saying “Is it not?” all the time, not quite used to idiomatic English. I can remember hour examinations in grad school; you can’t solve four problems you haven’t seen before in that amount of time.  Final exams were much easier than hour tests.  (Some of the videos on Harvard student John Fish’s channel get into problem solving on exams.)

Monday, July 15, 2019

"Berlin in 1945": Silent film of WWII destruction of civilian lives


The Berlin Channel presents “Berlin in 1945” in color and HD, silent film, about 7 minutes, from Chronos.


Early in the film, you see people drawing water from wells and passing pails of water in assembly lines. You see a woman still keeping house in an upstairs apartment of a building with a wall blown away, like looking at a dollhouse.

You see the transition from the British to the Soviet Union zone with a picture of Stalin.

Then there is an aerial shot of the destruction near the Brandenburg Gate.

I visited Berlin in May 1999, and went to the Connection Disco, which had a rather sickening concentration camp display downstairs.
  
I would take a night train from Berlin to Cracow and visit Auschwitz-Birkenau the next morning, by cab.

Wikipedia
By KK nationsonline - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Allegro Train Review, and Russian-Finnish Border Crossing"


Since I visited a couple of Finnish cultural centers in Ohio (part of my own book research for the novel) Saturday, I thought I would select a video of the Allegro train that connects Helsinki with St. Petersburg.


The best short video available now is by Ekain Munduate and is called “Allegro Train Review and Russian-Finnish Border Crossing”.

The border check isn’t made to sound like a big deal, and the announcements are in Russian, Finnish, and English.  Russian rail gauge standards is slightly narrower than Finland’s, which causes problems with some freight trains but not with the Allegro, which runs at 220 km per hour, with a 3-1/2 hour journey including border check  (390 km).

Yet I would wonder about tourists going into Russia from the West, if they had made themselves controversial online in social media or even with other writings.
  
I haven’t heard much about this. 

Wikipedia: 
By Otto Karikoski - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Friday, July 12, 2019

"Solar Pounder": a lot of issues covered in 3 minutes in this soft-core LGBT short


Solar Pounder”, a micro short by Body Czech, at least starts out by pretending that selling door-to-door is still viable.

“Decotah”, a tall blond salesman knocks on doors selling solar systems for home roofs.
The homeowner is straight, but his wife is in the other room.


So it sounds cynical. A lot of straight men give a little to make the sale, even to other straight men.
But why does the homeowner have that disfiguring tattoo covering his left forearm?  That seems stereotyped in some of these “shorts”. 
  
It stays _G-13.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

"Memento": Christopher Nolan's early thriller is a delicious plot layering experiment


Christopher Nolan’s early 2000 film “Memento” is interesting to me because it uses different presentations to show flashbacks in different time tracks. The technical term is sujet or syuzhet.


The protagonist Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) has anterograde amnesia, and is faced with solving a mystery of who killed his diabetic wife (Carrie-Ann Moss), from polaroid photos.


The film presents two timelines.  A forward timeline of what he can remember is in black and white. 

 A reverse timeline of what he cannot is reconstructed in color from photos, and the two timelines converge and meet in the middle.

He also pastes photos to his own body, shaving his thigh to get them to stay on like stickypads.
  
In my screenplay “Epiphany”, the current timeline (in an O’Neill cylinder) is in sepia color;  the real past events on Earth are in full color, and the imagined fiction backstories are in black and white.
The film was released by New Market (one of its first releases) but produced by Summit.

Wikipedia: 
By Dr Steve Aprahamian - Picture of a chart created in Microsoft Excel, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Second picture:  somewhat similar color-coded backstory analysis of my own screenplay 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"The Prestige": Christopher Nolan period piece does ask good questions about the work of Nikola Tesla


Of some importance in science fiction is the 2006 film “The Prestige” by Christopher Nolan, with the title referring to the last phase of a magic act which offers a payoff to the audience.  It is based on a novel by Christopher Priest.


It is set in the 1890s in London, with two major lead magicians, the aristocratic Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and the working class Alfred Borden (Christian Bale).


The film invokes a speculative experiment with teleportation when it introduces Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), the inventor (later associated with alternating current and electrical engineering).  Angier spies on Borden and wants to produce the trick of teleportation. Eventually we learn that Borden was a pair of twins but they seem to share an identity.  There is some question in the plot as to whether a “new” Angier gets created by teleportation, or if there is anything in quantum physics or information theory that makes this theoretically possible.

The film was produced with New Market Films, which was normally an indie distributor ten years ago. It was also produced by Touchstone Films and distributed both by Disney and Warner Brothers. But the film tended to be shown in theater chains that prefer independent or art movies.

Picture: Reno, my visit (2018) 

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

"Beloved" was an unusual horror film in 1998 based on slavery-related guilt; recalled by recent film about Toni Morrison


The recent attention to author Toni Morrison in the recent biographical film, reminds many of the 1998 horror film “Beloved”, directed by Jonathan Demme (Touchstone Pictures).


Oprah Winfrey plays a former slave after the Civil War, living near Cincinnati, terrorized by the poltergeist of the child (she believes) whom she had killed years before to prevent the child from going into slavery.  Paul D. (Danny Glover) drives away the spirit from the plantation.

  
I vaguely recall this film at the Mall of America near Minneapolis in the fall of 1998.

Monday, July 08, 2019

"Quantum Immortality" described in a whiteboard lecture



"Werothegreat" presents “Quantum Immortality” (15 minutes)


The speaker writes on a white board, and compares human beings as conscious entities to elementary photons, trying all possible paths in life at once, and living as long as it is physically possible.

In a way, this sounds like a “dangerous” belief.  He gives an interesting diversion where he compare human life to photosynthesis which he describes as a quantum process.

He also describes the plot of the 2006 film “The Prestige” where Telsa makes a quantum immortality experiment out of himself.

Intuitively, it seems to me that I exist simply because I must (the Anthropic Principle) somewhere.  The Earth could have been in any galaxy, it just happens to be here.  Intuitively, it seems hard to believe that once a conscious individual is aware of the self, that “they” can completely disappear. If you know that you are dead, you are immortal.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The E8 Lattice and Lie Group: does this generate "The Theory of Everything"?


Is the E8 Lattice the True Nature of Reality?” Or is this “The Theory of Everything”?


Arvin Ash explains multi-dimensional algebra if the E8 Lie Group.

This looks like a great board game. 

Will the Hardon collider find one of the 24 undiscovered elementary particles?

See also April 26 with similar short by Joe Scott.

Wikipedia:
By derivative work: Pbroks13 (talk)Cyclic_group.png: Jakob.scholbach - Cyclic_group.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Friday, July 05, 2019

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin": an irreverent satire that a decade later seems to have hidden "political" significance


I had done a big writeup on this comedy on my legacy “doaskdotell” site, but I thought I would recap the 2006 comedy “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” by Jude Apatow, originally from Universal (now YouTubeMovies) here.  I remember seeing this in the old AMC Courthouse in Arlington VA before it was renovated.


Steve Carell, then about 42, wrote the script for his own depilation, where he plays a nerdy 40-year-old who has never “gotten laid”, and is challenged by Trish (Catherine Keener).

The famous scene in the middle shows women waxing his chest with various strips, to where he looks like, as the script shows, a “man-o-lantern”.

In fact, this process of violating male body sanctity is shown relatively rarely on camera in film.  There are tacky YouTube videos about the topic, of course, but they are almost never shown in a “dramatic” context in gay short films.

Swimmer and bikers "do it", of course (in competitive situations).  Head shaves as fund raisers showing empathy (cancer) are common and almost expected, but so far they've never gone below the neckline.  You wonder.  In the distant past, this sort of thing could happen in college and fraternity initiations. 

It’s also a good question, why would his (Carell's) girl friend want him to look “less” virile?

The pundits used to weigh in on this.  David Skinner wrote his famous piece for the Weekly Standard “Notes on the Hairless Man” in June 1999.  This topic took a dark turn in 2001 when there were sporadic reports that the 9/11 terrorists had shaved their own bodies that morning (another Skinner article). This supposition was shown in the Discovery Channel film “The Flight that Fought Back” (about Flight 93) in 2005, directed by Bruce Goodison.

The controversy continues with Anthony Weiner’s prosecution, which wound up accidentally affecting the 2016 election, possibly being the “ball four” that walked in the winning run for Donald Trump.
  
It’s also true that about eight years after this comedy/satire film was a hit, the subject of incels took a dark turn (in June 2014) with the spree by Elliot Rodger. It is still viewed as a disturbing topic online.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

"Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser": why improbable events occur and we sometimes luck out



Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser”, an experiment by Eugene Khutoryansky, narrated by Kira Vincent (26 min).
  

This rather intricate animated experiment with quantum waves tell us why being stared at matters. Sometimes you can change something by looking at it.

Others says that this is a way of getting information from the future.

I would say that his experiment explains uncanny coincidences.
  
I have had a few events in my life where the coincidences were so improbable that they seem to have been intentional.  One of them happened when I was working as a substitute teacher. Another was when a woman who was looking after an estate house right after mother died and I was on a business trip was there at just the right time. Other examples seem to happen in sports, like improbable ninth inning rallies in baseball. Others might explain “Clark Kent” like powers.

Arvin Ash has a similar video, and note how it ends

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

"Can You Swim in Shade Balls?" You don't need to peak



Can You Swim in Shade Balls?” from Veritasium.


I guess this is a more light-hearted topic.  A swimmer (not competitive near) swims in a reservoir covered with black plastic shade balls to moderate water temperature in the hot California sun (and discourage algae growth).
  
At leas the doesn’t have to “peak” and shave his bod or something, which is something else someday. 
  
I’ll stumble onto a YouTube video about, if YouTube doesn’t self-destruct first.

Monday, July 01, 2019

"How Stars May Have Just Solved the Fermi Paradox" -- it's common sense, too



Second Thought proposes “How Stars May Have Just Solved the Fermi Paradox”.  That’s been around since 1950.

  
It’s relatively simple.  Stars revolve around the center of the galaxy. At times they get relatively closer just as planets in a solar system do. So an advanced civilization could wait for a “good time”, to quote a good friend from the past on how “bumping frequency” in a large city helps people build relationships. (Or it leads to glances).
  
The short also maintains that If a civilization had visited us before the comet/asteroid strike that destroyed the dinosaurs, all traces of it might have been wiped out.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

"Anxiety": a young women deals with the belief she is not competitive socially (short film)



Aailayh Larson stars and directs the short film “Anxiety”, on Michael Smiegel’s YouTube channel.
  
  
A young woman, PoC, gets a message from her parents that they are going away and she should look after the house.  Then he deals with her interpersonal problems by talking back at her own doppelganger. Those problems center around her belief she is not socially competitive with other people, especially dating.
  
She goes out.
  
The film notes a mental health service called “Better Health.”  Dr. Grande's YouTube channel will like this one. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

"Vegas Nights": soft-core gay film presents nice college kids exploring night life: with some more character narratives it would be a "real feature" for theaters


If you want something a little bit erotic with nice college kids, try Alex Roman’s film “Vegas Nights”, a YouTube gay film in five videos, total about 40 minutes (released end of 2018 by Helix Studios).


Five college boys tour the Las Vegas night and club scene. (In the midst of all the clubs and casinos there is a CVS store, from above)/  This most charismatic is a fast-talking kid played by Julian Bell, who sounds like an expert in card counting (like in the movie “21”). If not, he’s probably something like a pre-med student. He gets an invitation to meet an admirer in a specific hotel room, and you can guess that it could be challenging.  In the bar scenes before, he does act like he is celebrating having turned 21. 
  
The film races toward a Las Vegas style gay marriage in the last video.
  
Starting in video 3 (the hotel room invitation) YouTube requires you to sign in, so at that point it regards the content as rated as a soft “R”.  What the lead character says when he gets into a car after the hotel encounter is catchy: he seems to be bragging about self-effacement, as upward affiliation.  This film could be packaged and released as a DVD as a “real film” in the gay market, maybe by TLA.  You want the screenwriters to tell the audience as much as possible about the backgrounds of the characters.  But some viewers might want the characters to look more diverse.

Vegas may be a bit sensitive about films set in skyscraper hotels after the awful incident on Oct. 1, 2017.  I was last there in 2012 (picture above; also 1985, 1997, 2000).  In 2000, I would then visit the outskirts of Area 51. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"I Am Syd Stone": a bisexual man revisits an old boy friend and discovers, well, real marriage



I Am Syd Stone”, directed by Dennis Thieriault, presents a gay man (Michael Gaty) with an alcohol problem, who receives a visit from an old boy friend Syd (Gharret Patrick Paon) who seems to have gone straight on him and gotten married with a kid,


But maybe marriage was just a stage facilitated by their earlier love, which they trial to rekindle.

Syd runs, and it seems he is ready for a “real” marriage in the woke sense now.  But having a family the natural way as an important step for him. 
The film appears to come from Canada.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

"To Scale: The Solar System": making a model at the site of "Burning Man"


Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet present “To Scale: The Solar System”.
  
In Black Rock Desert in Nevada (site of “Burning Man” aka #NoSpectators” every September) three friends construct a scale model of the Solar System, through Neptune, seven miles in diameter.  Logan Paul is nowhere to be seen. 


The Earth is the size of a marble, and the Sun is a ball with the same apparent size as the real sun at the simulated distance.

Jupiter would have ten times the diameter of Earth’s marble (including the visible atmosphere to the cloud tops), and the Sun would have 100 times that diameter.
  
The Sun comprises plasma;  the outer planets comprise gas that compresses to slushy liquid, then liquid metal hydrogen (at least Jupiter and Saturn), and then a rocky core, probably.

The seven-minute film also shows some footage from Apollo 15. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

"Apollo 11": 70 mm reconstruction of real footage from the first moonwalk


Apollo 11”, directed by Todd Douglas Miller, is a film that recreates the event that put man on the Moon on July 20, 1969, from archival footage only, some of the film in 70mm.


The film was released theatrically by Neon on March 1, 2019 and shown on CNN on Sunday, June 23, 2019 by CNN Films. Universal Pictures released the DVD.


The astronauts wore what amounts to Holter monitors underneath their spacesuits, mostly on the lower ribcages, that transmitted vital signs that were reported on the flight. 

July 20, 1969 was a Sunday. The mission took from July 16 (Wed AM) to July 24.  The achievement marked a major change in attitude toward technology as an instrument of freedom. Stonewall had occurred just three weeks before.

Picture: from NASA Virginia Air and Space Museum in Hampton VA at Langley, Aug. 2012 visit. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

"Song of Parkland": high school students put on a major musical after a catastrophic event


Song of Parkland”, directed by Amy Schatz, is a 29-minute HBO documentary about the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL in a drama and chorus class, taught by Melody Herzfeld.

The students and teacher heard the shots, and Melody sheltered them for two hours in the Feb. 14, 2018 school shooting until police led them out.


Two months later, they resume production of a musical, and students composed portions of it, like a song “Beautiful Things Can Grow”.

Eventually the students perform in Boston, New York, Washington and San Francisco. They win a Tony Award at the end.

Several students appear and talk about the production, like Alex Wild and Cameron Kasky.  Some of Emma Gonzelez’s speech from March 24 in Washington.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"State of Pride": a young "conservative" midwestern gay man learns about different values among LGBTQ+ as he visits Pride events in four cities


State of Pride” (2019), directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, from YouTube Originals and Telling Pictures (71 minutes, 2019), presents (small town) Ohio-born Raymond Braun as an athletic, “masculine” gay man visiting pride in Washington DC, Tuscaloosa AL, San Francisco, and Salt Lake City, and encountering LGBTQ+ people very different from him.  The events seem to come from 2018.

  
Braun says he outgrew his “sassiness” and became a mainstream-valued and athletic young adult man, but “still” gay. He wrote his mother a 16-page letter coming out and was reassured by her response, before he went on the tour to make the film. 

In Tuscaloosa, he met the trans community, and especially POC and underprivileged. He learned about systematic violence against that community, and noted the cultural separation from white gay men, including racial problems in the deep south.  He is told that trans pride should be part of the regular pride weekend, and is often viewed as a “protest” rather than pride.

In San Francisco, he meets a young man who had fled Syria through Lebanon.  It was not clear whether he was a refugee or asylum seeker (or whether he was Christian or Muslim, as religion was immaterial).
  
He also met a young man who had been a gymnast but broken his neck in an accident in 2013. He was now in a wheel chair but had regained some leg use.  He didn’t even realize he was paralyzed for a few moments after trying to get up. He was also Mormon, and had done an LDS mission, and was familiar with the LDS member forced support of Prop 8 a few years before,  Braun accompanies him to a pride march in Salt Lake, where he meets and has dinner with the Mormon family.
This little film has quite a narrative, matching some of the larger films around.

The film is offered for free viewing.  It would seem that YouTube (given the current controversy) could help content creators by offering some films for rent ($3.99) from documentary or news creators affected by current issues.

Picture: Tuscaloosa, May 2014, my visit, in area leveled by 2011 tornado 

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Mandelbrot Set: a secret of life buried in the complex variable plane


I’ve not talked about the Mandelbrot set here before. So here is “The Mandelbrot Set: How It Works and Why It Is Amazing”, by Jimi.


It is a set of numbers c on the complex variable plane for which f-c(z) = z**2 + c does not diverge when starting at z-0.  It is a fractal of self-similarity, which generates amazing shapes with cardioid edges that seem to grow like plants.

This mathematical beauty seems to point to how life would evolve in an organic soup. It’s very existence seems fundamental almost to consciousness and reproduction.

This is a relative short video, but there are much longer ones on YouTube which we can come back to later.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"What If 'IT' Was Gay": new horror short from Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell, making fun of, well, a current social media mess, perhaps


Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell offers the satirical short, “What if ‘IT’ Was Gay”, with Max Emerson, Michael Henry, Tony Directs and Ruba Wilson.


The short film is a satirical skit based on the Clarabelle-looking character from Stephen King’s 1986 novel, made into a miniseries in 1990 and a film in 2017.

If you listen to the dialogue (like “IT’s” lines at around 1:05) you wonder if there is some satire of the Maza-Crowder-gate and Voxadpocalypse.  Ubanell’s films and videos seem non-political (usually about cis male gay life), until you look at the jabs behind the lines (he made fun of Buzzfeed in an earlier film by posing as a prize-fighter).  This little film seems to want to poke fun at how silly everyone has been recently.

I’m also reminded of baseball player Bryce Harper’s meme “clown questions”.

Friday, June 14, 2019

"Titan Revealed": Maybe the best ever documentary on Saturn's moon which may have life on the surface


TexFilms offers maybe the best film about Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, yet, “Titan Revealed” (2018, 35 minutes).


The film gives the most comprehensive picture of the geography of Titan than I have seen, with descriptions and simulated scenery of the large lakes near the north pole as it emerges from Titanium winter.

The film is in even sections, the last two of which deal with what like would be like.  It would involve hydrogen as fuel, acetylene, and methane as a by-product, like carbon dioxide of animal respiration on earth.  Would the methane become a fuel for “plants”?  There has been other speculation that life on Titan might consists of sheets in its lakes that are colonial like slime molds on Earth.
  
I’ve seen animated designs of the proposed submarine to explore the lakes before.

See also “Titan: A Place Like Home”, TV blog, Sept. 20, 2013, BBC.
  
By NASA/JSC - uppper photo; NASA/JPL - lower photo - File:Titan dunes.jpg, Public Domain, Link

Thursday, June 13, 2019

"Interstellar Highway System": why black holes will draw the development of space capital cities


Cool Worlds imagines an “Interstellar Highway System” (31 min).


Is this like the Interstate highway system as Ike imagined it?

In conjunction with the Halo Drive, the speaker imagines a slingshot propulsion system where the traveler “steals” energy from a binary or circular black hole system.

Just as with the US railroad system, interstellar civilization “cities” would develop near the black holes.

Then constant acceleration and time dilation would allow “superman” to traverse the universe in his own lifetime.
  
You would have to accept the idea that people age at different rates.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

"The Big Bang Wasn't an Explosion" (Thaller); the Universe is super round



The Big Bang Wasn’t an Explosion”.  Michelle Thaller says “Visualize It Like This”.
  
  
A good way to visualize this is to imagine you are living on the surface of a Baby Trump baby balloon, and it is constantly expanding. There is no edge to the surface you are living on.  You are living on the surface of a sphere and there is no edge. Sorry, flat earth people.
  
Likewise, the Universe has no boundary in 3-dimensional space.  That is because it is part of a 4-dimensional (or more) manifold. The way this gets experienced as time dilation as your velocity approaches that of light. Think of time dilation as taking a short cut through the interior of the Trump balloon, without making it pop.
  
It’s theoretically possible for a teenage Clark Kent to travel through the universe at relativistic speeds and visit many places, and he might return to where he started from in a normal lifetime. In a sense, the universe is round.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

"Stonewall Forever": what it was like in 1969


Stonewall Forever: A Documentary about the Past, Present and Future of Pride”, from the LGBTCenterNYC. 


A young man starts by saying that teaching the history of Pride is important for future generations.
  
A homelessness advocate talks about undercover gay life in Washington Square Park around 1962, near the chessboard tables (which are still there).

The documentary talks about the strict ordnances against cross-dressing.

Also, it was against the law to exhibit “homosexual behavior in public” (like Russia now). The film says “we were not a protected class” but that isn’t the reason by itself;  it was also a “due process” problem.

There was a culture of safety in numbers.

The Stonewall rebellion was completely spontaneous.

The Atlantic has an article on how Stonewall was reported back in 1969, by Garance-Franka-Ruka. 

Solidarity and “becoming a people” was important then in a way that it is not now, as individualism has broken it up. In the early days, transgender people, although important in the rebellion, tended to be excluded from the "people". 

There is talk about a "non-binary body" in a binary world, as if it were special relativity in physics. 

Saturday, June 08, 2019

"Higher Dimensions Get Really Weird": mathematics for science fiction movies ("My boyfriend is an alien!")




“MajorPrep”, a video channel for math, physics, and CS students largely, offers “Higher Dimensions Get Really Weird: The Mathematics of What We Can and Cannot Imagine


In the beginning he talks about platonic solids (dice), and Euler’s number – and soon migrates to Mobius strips and unknotting numbers. A seaman’s knot in the Navy is based on this kind of topology.

His central object is the Klein Bottle, which has a “hole” in three dimensional space because we don’t live in more than than 3.

I hadn’t realized that academic mathematicians have studied manifolds of up to 256 dimensions.  
  
String theory supposes that there are eleven. 

My screenplay "Epiphany" imagines a Mobius strip (almost, it fractures at one spot) as a subway on a space station, and interesting things can happen if you ride it.   

If your perfect boyfriend at Pride can disappear and reappear at will like Clark Kent, then he lives in four dimensions (and shrinks and expands and contracts when he comes for a visit to your dimension). That's how your boyfriend can be an alien (and get around Trump's travel bans).  This could be how the Ascension happened, too. (But not the birth.) 

Thursday, June 06, 2019

"The Stonewall You Know Is a Myth": New York Times short film




The Stonewall You Know Is a Myth, and That’s OK”, is a short film from the New York Times, produced and directed by “Shane”.
 
The film looks at the gay rights movement back to 1897 and reports it as more substantial than we realize. 

Marsha P. Johnson didn’t throw the first bottle (or brick), nor did Sylvia Rivera.

There was also a story that it was prepped by the death of Judy Garland.

The film maintains that truth in the narrative of a historical event is important for its own sake.  

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

"Starman from Heaven": a coming of age gay musical (short film) from Brighton, England with a teen director and producer



Starman from Heaven” by Elliot Kershaw, starring Jamie Lye and Milo Wilson, bills itself as an award-winning gay short by a 17-year-old director and producer, just published. 
  

The story concerns two friends, one of whom is just now coming out, as they both belong to a boy band in Brighton (Beach), England, not to be confused with the neighborhood in Brooklyn, NYC. 

Much of the 19-minute film shows the band performing in a theater on the beach.

The film stays in PG-13 territory, except that one of the characters is often shown smoking.
  
The original music is by James Grantham. 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

The Constitution of the Spartans: a foreshadow of modern fascism


Historia Civilis explains “The Constitution of the Spartans” (21 min).


The city-state was a diarchy with two kinds.  It was in a constant state of war readiness because it had been set up by foreign invaders who kept the “helots” in slavery.

Young men, when finishing military service, were given land with slaves.  But the complicated inheritance laws resulting in women accumulating a lot of wealth and power over time, as men often died in battle.

The five “ephors” provided oversight. But they were reviewed by their successors, providing a bizarre kind of stability.

There was also a council called Gerousia.
  
Young men were sent through rigorous military training where they learned to endure much pain.  Weaker boys were often executed, so the system had some of the elements of personal fascism.  This was a militant society as authoritarian as Nazi Germany. 

Wikipedia attribution: By Publius97 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Friday, May 31, 2019

"Spaceship Day": artificial intelligence writes a children's sci-fi short film screenplay


Austin M Connell treats us to a short film with screenplay written by animation generated by artificial intelligence.  Call it “Spaceship Day”.


Three kids in school bicker for status as to who gets to ride the spaceship and in what position.
   
Nevermind that the great beyond is undefined.  Will the spaceship use continuous acceleration to generate artificial gravity and use time dilation so that the kids reach the limits of the universe in 50 years?  Well, sorry, space keeps expanding.

This is the screenwriting analogue of Mozart’s “A Musical Joke”.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

"The Loneliness Epidemic": But are we really all that depressed?



The Loneliness Epidemic” (20 min) looks like it will be a lecture on the need for socialization.
    
Matt D’Avella interviews author Johann Hari (“Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope”)


We are a “lonely”.  There was a question: “How many close friends could you turn to in a crisis?”  A few decades ago the answer is five.  Today it is zero.

Like Sebastian Junger he believes humans evolved to live in a tribe, and now the individualists try to disband our tribes.
  
Yet, I am really non-tribal, and tend to admire other non-tribalists (as if that became a new tribe). 

You can always bring up the idea that social media allows us to do without really letting other people be more important in person -- the digital minimalism idea. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

"The Rise of HIV" from SciDoc gives an excellent technical and medical history of how AIDS evolved




SciShow has an excellent documentary “The Rise of HIV”, in two parts, about 21 minutes.

  
The first part explains how HIV may have jumped species from a sick monkey in Cameroon in 1908, when natives ate the meat.  Eventually, through migration patterns, several varieties were carried by prostitutes in various parts of Africa, or were likely spread by reusable syringes in medicine. Because of a complicated migration, the virus settled in Haiti in the 1960s. It is though to have entered the United States in 1969 (Randy Shilts had written 1976, the Tall Ships, in “And the Band Played On”.) But it took more than ten years to affect the gay male community.  There was a particular incident in 1978, my last year in New York City, where I think I might have had a narrow miss.
  
The second video explains how the drugs to control HIV developed, starting with HIV and leading to the protease inhibitors, which have to be taken in combination to avoid the mutations, and they have to be taken faithfully.  The film discussed PrEP. Some people have different surface protein markers on their T4 cells, called CCR5, which makes it harder for them to be infected, which may explain why sometimes partners of people who died never became infected.

Monday, May 27, 2019

"Colonizing Space with Habitats": living in O'Neill cylinders is quite feasible,





John Michael Godier presents “Colonizing Space with Habitats” (13 minutes).


Godier examines O’Neill cylinders, the Stanford Torus, the Bishops cylinder (made from carbon nanotubes, large enough not to require a ceiling), and even the Dyson Sphere.

With the O’Neill cylinder, there is a coriolis effect, but is seems less important in practice than I would have thought.

Godier suggests that most of Earth’s people could leave to live in these “high frontiers” made from raw materials in asteroids (“strip mining”), although eliminating people (as in an earth evacuation to go to another planet). Earth could become a natural park again.
  
But different cylinders could become like countries with political rivalries.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

"What Is Time?": don't try to find out by thinking you can reverse the past



Aperture explains “What Is Time?


The video connects “the arrow of time” with the idea in the universe entropy increases. 

Entropy relates to unpredictability. If you live in a 200 sq ft micro-apartment, you are more certain of the location of an object than if you live in a 5000 sq ft mansion.

The arrow of time also refers to irreversibility. If you’ve committed a crime, you can’t pretend it didn’t happen just to get out of jail.  At a quantum level, however, irreversibility may not hold because of entanglement.  You need a "Theory of Everything" to work all this out. 
  
Entropy may be the reason life must evolve.  Life tends to develop formats that can hold and execute conscious choices to change things.  Choices have irreversible consequences.

Friday, May 24, 2019

"The Last Broadcast" is one of the grittiest homemade horror movies ever



The Last Broadcast” is a quirky and gritty horror film layered as a docudrama that I saw at the Bell Auditorium of the University of Minnesota in 1998.  It was one of the first digitally projected films ever shown in a theater.


The film was compared to “The Blair Witch Project” at the time, which we may return to later.
   
The plot concerns the brutal murders of three young men in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (south of Fort Dix) in December 1995. The young men were documenting the supposed existence of the “Jersey Devil”.  One of their own, Jim Suard, had an argument with the others and left and was later convicted of their death, perhaps wrongfully.


The style of the film is to play the “fact or fiction” question in layered fashion.

The film is directed and written by Stefan Avalos and Mike Weiler.

The film and DVD come from Wavelength Releasing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"Venezuela Embassy Standoff": Ford Fischer documents the confrontation over "Code Pink" and its occupation for Subverse




Venezuela Embassy Standoff”, a film by Ford Fischer from News2Share, for Subverse.

The 25-minute film chronicles the confrontation between Guaido’s new government in Venezuela and the remains of the Maduro administration.  A group called the Embassy Protection Collective and Code Pink tried to hold the fort.


Gradually, food supplies, and water and electricity were cut off.

There is controversy over whether Maduro’s government (essentially communist) was illegal after the end of January.
  
On the other hand, some say that the US’s eventually entering was illegal.

I visited the protests twice.

I like the sign that the embassy is carbon neutral!
  
Here is Part II.  Eventually the activists are arrested.

Ford calls the standoff a proxy for the whole situation in Venezuela itself. Venezuela is starting to send LGBT asylum seekers (was mentioned in a meeting at the Capitol today).
  
There was an odd “threat” made during the standoff which Fischer reports on Twitter. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

"Wrestle": On Alabama, high school students grow through this intimate sport



On Monday, May 20, 2019, PBS Independent Lens aired Suzannah Herbert’s film “Wrestle” (86 min), about a high school wrestling team in Alabama, a tournament, a tough-love coach Chris Scribner, and the challenges that many of the young men face at home and in the community, link
The film has shown in several festivals, like Denver, Hot Springs, and Oxford (MS).


There is a moment of triumph at the end for one of the team members.  The film emphasizes that the sport is both an individual and a team sport. You have to make weight, have discipline. And it can be intimate. It's an unusual sport. 

The film takes place in Huntsville, in the northern part of the state near the YN border, where the NASA space center is.  I visited that in 2014, and earlier in 1989, where there was an underwater training exhibition then.
  
There is a theatrical release by Oscilloscope.