Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Do We Live in a Multiverse?" (The Economist, 2015)

Here’s a short from 2015 from The Economist: “Do We Live in a Multiverse?

The video (9 min) presents the theories of MIT professor Max Tegmark.

Space continues to expand, so we can see about 42 billion light years right now from Hubble. 

There are four possible types of multiverse.

The first is simply that space keeps expanding wherever there is minimal gravity (or enough dark energy).

The second is that it breaks off into “pocket universes”, each of which can have its own laws of physics. We happen to live, according to the “anthropic principle”, in a universe where life can work.  It might be that the pocket universes all satisfy different expressions of string theory.

The third is one where universes are separated by time, and where reality may fork off into new universes, and that we personally might progress through them without realizing it.  (But that would imply any parallel universes would have to follow the same laws and constants in physics.) 
The last is simply the “mathematical multiverse”.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"Silicon-Based Alien Life"

The “What-If” and “Curiosity Stream” channel posit “What If Life Was Silicon-Based?

The video (5 min) suggests this may exist specifically on Titan, but then it says it would need to be deep within a planet’s crust where it is hot enough, so that could be any planet.

Silicon, it says, can form long polymers.  But oxygen converts it to rock (unlike the chemically similar carbon, its oxide is solid – sand).  More apt is that silicon, in our minds, is connected to robotics and artificial intelligence, which theoretically might house consciousness, which is more than just “autonomy” but means choosing one’s own goals (the “unbalanced personality” issue). Remember HAL (== IBM) in “2001: A Space Odyssey”?, Oct. 4, 2009)

My science fair project in 1960, for which I gave a talk in my own basement in my Science Honor Society Initiation on Dec. 9, 1960, was about silicon-based life. I had tried some sort of experiment replacing carbon with silicon and it had something to do with acetylene.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

"The State of Denmark": Journeyman Pictures looks at the alt-right anti-immigration sentiment in one of Europe's most progressive countries

The State of Denmark: Understanding Denmark’s Growing Anti-Immigration Stance”, reported by Hamish MacDonald, from Journeyman Pictures, posted recently (28 min).

Hamish tours the country riding with a Turkish Muslim performer Ellie Jokar, and gradually uncovers the growing alt-right and anti-immigration sentiment in the country which has grown since 2014.
But some of it started back in 2005 with the Jyllands-Posten Cartoon Controversy

MacDonald interviews one woman who regrets the law not allowing her to wear a burqa in public.
He also interviews a Turkish woman who owns a wedding planning business for Muslims.  She has been in the country for forty years and fears being asked to leave.

MacDonald views a religious shrine called Bluestone from 965AD as a Christian symbol.

He also interviews a couple of rather tribal, right-wing politicians including Rasmus Paludan, who remains unapologetic about ethnic pride and separatism.
O, Hamish, one thing, please lose the shorts. 
I spent one evening in Copenhagen in July 1972 on vacation and got a bit soused on one Heineken in the amusement park.
Wikipedia attribution:
By kallerna - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Monday, October 28, 2019

"How Would Anarchism Work in Real Life?"

NonCompete, the channel of “American Johnson”, has a three part series (total about 40 minutes), “How Would Anarchism Work in Real Life?”, created in August 2018. 

His political model is combining communitarianism with “anarchism”.

The second video talks about the “individual” and the third talks about the military and security.
I think his idea is related a bit to income sharing.  I have discussed Twin Oaks in Virginia, which I visited for one Saturday afternoon tour in April 2012.
He sees society as organized into communes, founded on the idea of localism. Each community would have about 150 people and people could exert direct democracy through Borda counts or even sortition (like jury duty).  The communes would confederate into larger units but almost all government would be local.

He talks about problems of the nation state as coercive and to his credit talks about the draft and Selective Service.
He thinks that most criminal behavior in poor people happen because they have no incentive to follow the rules and have nothing to lose. He thinks crime pretty much goes away if you eliminate inequality.  Is this Utopian thinking?   He seems dismissive of the idea of individual ego. 

Unrepentent capitalists would still have to be segregated and "rehabilitated" humanely, without revenge. 

Society would ideally be moneyless, and jobs would rotate somewhat, and a typical workweek would be 20 hours or less.  (At Twin Oaks it is 42 hours, as of that visit).  Sloughing would result in some separation after basic needs were met and loss of all privileges. 
But I can imagine a young progressive president and Congress considering allowing autonomous communal self-government in income-sharing communities in the future, maybe by the 2030’s.  The localism would go along with dealing with climate change. Is that what a David Hogg or a Cameron Kasky might actually try to do?

Picture: warehouse for tofu products at Twin Oaks, my 2012 visit, in the middle of the property 10 miles SW of Mineral, VA. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

"People Eat Live Octopus!?" -- Bostwiki's own little horror movie

“People Eat Live Octopus!?  In Korean Culture?”  Bostwiki hand-embeds (from his MacBook) two different scenes of women trying to eat live octopus in South Korea.  This video by this journalist from Kansas (now with a major paper) counts as a “short film” in my book.

The second clip is quite graphic, as the octopus tries to choke the woman with its suckers.  It’s like a horror movie scene.  A few years ago, Reid Ewing had pointed out some similarly graphic video from Japan.

The octopus is a mollusk, an invertebrate, but it is thought to have the intelligence and problem-solving ability of a house cat.  Parts of its brain are distributed into the arms, so it’s hard to imagine what its POV consciousness is like.  People do eat live oysters in the US, also mollusks, but with much less apparent intelligence.

We can wonder about eating live lobsters or boiling them live in supermarkets.  Can arthropods be self-aware and feel pain?
There are videos showing a house cat confronting an octopus on a wharf, and the cat chases it so it dives into the water.  Most people when watching a video like that feel an affiliation with the cat, which has similar intelligence, because it is much closer to use biologically. We don’t see the cat as “alien” but we do the octopus.

Wikipedia attribution:

By Silke Baron - originally posted to Flickr as Veined Octopus - Amphioctopus Marginatus eating a Crab, CC BY 2.0, Link

Friday, October 25, 2019

"Why Did Every Dual Use Stadium Fail?" Symmetrical outfields are boring,

Why Did Every Dual Use Stadium (MLB, NFL) Fail?, from Five Points VIDS.

It's a geometry problem, The shapes of the fields are so different. Give it on a high school math final exam. 

The video points out that Oakland stadium is the last to become baseball only, and most of them have been demolished.
I thought that the symmetrical baseball outfields that became standard in the 1970s were boring.
In 2002, I “volunteered” or was employed, whatever, in fast food at three events at the old Metrodome in Minneapolis, which is now gone (US Bank for football, and Target Field for baseball two blocks from the Gay Nineties). I also went to a filmmaking audience party with Warner Brothers in Nov. 1997 to be an extra in “Major League 3”.
The video gives some interesting history of Camden Yards and MBanks stadiums in Baltimore, enabled by the Colts going to Indianapolis in the middle of the night in 1984. 

The video was sponsored by Manscape, which has also sponsored some videos by Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

"My Beautiful Laundrette": a semi-LGBTQ story from the 1980s and Britain, and comes to mind with "The Laundromat"

The appearance of Steven Soderbergh’s satire “The Laundromat” on Netflix (reviewed by me on Wordpress today) brings to mind an odd “gay” (or sorts) film from the mid 1980s, a British dramedy, “My Beautiful Laundrette”, by Stephen Frears, which I barely remember seeing in Dallas (maybe it was at the old Northtown Mall).  It was distributed by Orion and now the Criterion Collection. 
There’s a “queer” review of it from 2011, here


 The film concerns a young man Omar (Gordon Warnacke) of Pakastani descent, whose well-off uncle Nasser (his father, a journalist, has trouble with the bottle) hires him to run a parking garage and then a launderette (or laundromat machine bank, so familiar everywhere).  The uncle wants Omar to settle down and marry his daughter (is this a good idea biologically?)

The plot becomes complicated because Omar has a boyfriend Johnny who is also part of a “neo-fascist” Islamophobic gang, which attacks. 

The whole setup sounds ironic today – particularly since Britain has to deal with Tommy Robinson (whose very name Tim Pool says he cannot mention on his video channels without being banned).  Some of the concerns about terrorism and political upheaval were going on then, and they seem to get recycled all the time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"The Blob", 1958; it indeed crawled out of the woodwork (or from a spaceship)

Recently I promised an entry on this movie, “The Blob”. 

Steve McQueen led the high school bunny crowd back in 1958 for Paramount, as an amorphous life form (like a slime mold) consumers all in its path, including people.

I seem to remember a scene where it sits on a chair like a cat.

The idea of a siphonophore animal with little differentiation in internal tissue but still able to eat things, is rather fascinating.

There was a remake in 1988 (Cinedigm).

Monday, October 21, 2019

"Blowin' Up": a judge and team of attorneys try to minimize prosecution of sex workers in NYC, pre-FOSTA

Blowin’ Up”, directed and written by Stephanie Wang-Breal (94 min, 84 minutes shown), examines the attempt of some attorneys, social workers, and a sympathetic judge in Queens, to avoid prosecuting young women arrested for prosecution.

The documentary goes back to 2004 and shows many scenes with the judge, the honorable Toko Serita.

The attorneys all say they want to go after the pimps, studios, massage parlors, and later Internet operations that they say victimize young immigrant women.

Pimps often threaten to get young women deported if they don’t go along.

The film, completed in 2018 by Once in a Blue productions and aired (very slightly condensed) on PBS POV Oct. 21, doesn’t mention Backpage particularly, but it sounds in retrospect now like an argument for FOSTA-SESTA, which passed in April 2018, and which has arguably put many sex workers at risk but shuttering the sites that they depended on to avoid looking themselves on the streets.  Some of the workers are trans and usually POC. Many of the other women seem to be from China, Philippines or Vietnam.  Remember that FOSTA targets prostitution “alone”.

Late in the film, the judge visits her native Japan.

When she returns she learns of people who have been picked up by ICE and deported.
The PBS presentation of this Tribeca film was followed by a brief statement by the director.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

"The Information Paradox": it gets explained all kinds of different ways

Kurzgesagt explains “The Information Paradox”.

The subtext is “How black holes could delete the universe”.  Black holes have no hair, like they've been through laser epilation rituals. 

The narrator explains what “information is” – it makes matter useful by describing how it is arranged. Placing information on the event horizon of a black hole seems to resolve the information paradox, but would allow a little bit of it slip away in Hawking Radiation.
The information set of your life could be stored on an event horizon and give you a kind of immortality. Maybe letting the information escape in Hawking radiation would enable you to be reincarnated somewhere (in another being or maybe even a robot). Or maybe it really would end your immortality.

Friday, October 18, 2019

"Are You Smarter than a Slime Mold?" -- maybe a model for extraterrestrial life?

Are You Smarter than a Slime Mold?”, by “It’s Okay to Be Smart”.

Slime molds are usually composed of single-cell amoebas (eukaryotic) that have coalesced to find food, but they are capable of developing fruiting bodies and allowing some cells to sacrifice themselves, called “altruism”.

Actually, there is more than one type of organization. A “plasmodial” mold has a single membrane (multiple nuclei in one “cell”), or cellular.

There have been suggestions that extraterrestrial life is likely to use the slime mold model, and that a “paper thin” mold could live in Titan’s methane lakes (not sure what it would eat).
The movie “The Blob” will deserve a review soon.

Wikipedia attribution:    
By Siga - Own work, Public Domain, Link

Thursday, October 17, 2019

"Visualizing Quaternions" as quarks

Visualizing Quaternions with Stereographic Projection” (4d numbers)

3Blue1brown explains how the basic operations of quaternion algebra work in 4d space, in terms of sequences of multiple rotations.
It looks like I covered this topic on Nov. 28, 2018.  Quaternion algebra is important because it seems to correspond to how subatomic quarks work, and even explains the fundamental forces of nature.
Because there are several rotations inherent in one multiplication, the commutative law no longer applies.  It really doesn’t with quarks either.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

"Golden Boy": will high school football continue to be a ticket to success in life? (short film)

Bobby Pollack’s short film “Golden Boy” seems to be an over-extended tale of sibling rivalry.
When Evan (Dylan Rourke) is offered a football scholarship, others in his life seem unwilling to let go of him.

From Annabelle films, the short (15 minutes) appears to be set in Georgia. Evan seems to be a star student, so his own threatening behavior when drugs are found in his locker seems over the top.

But now people ask if football is putting young men at risk of concussion and disability later in life.

As for the film title, I remember a door sign that one lost autumn at William and Mary, "the golden genius". 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Video Portrait of an independent journalist, composed by a journalism student

Well, this is a real short film.  It, as a "Video Portrait", portrays “News2Share Editor-in-chief Ford Fischer”, filmed by journalism student Andrew Demeter.

Fischer explains the value to the public to see raw footage of conflict in public, not just ordinary protest marches but sometimes violent protests and disorder, such as what occurred in Washington DC on Trump’s Inauguration Day, or in France with the Yellow Vest protests, or some of the Antifa confrontations.

Such journalism means some physical preparation for danger, including helmet, and hardy equipment. 
And right now, YouTube doesn’t seem willing to monetize it, even when it is neutral and shown for documentary purposes.

Monday, October 14, 2019

"Ordinary People" (1980) previewed today's concerns about mental health

I recall the film “Ordinary People” (1980, Paramount), directed by Robert Redford, particularly today because the title reminds me, at least, of a common term for “average joe” voters in a political world of populism.
But the film, which I think I saw at Northpark in Dallas in the fall of 1980, was quite popular with coworkers, and it’s an engaging story of how a teenage boy Conrad Jarrett (Timothy Hutton) has to work through several stages of therapy to deal with his misapplied guilt in dealing with the death of his older brother Buck (Scott Doebler) for which he blames himself.  

Judd Hirsch is the therapist (Berger) and the parents are played by Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore.

The film is set in an affluent suburb of Chicago.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

"Why Do Prime Numbers Make These Spirals?" -- does this affect the Universe?

Can math indeed become visual, as in “Why Do Prime Numbers Make These Spirals?

Here is a pretty math video from 3Blue1Brown, and merges number theory (of primes) with complex variables.

The idea is that you plot the points with a length of a prime number from the center, and a prime number of radians, and as you spread out, you get some predictable groupings of spirals at intervals.
The video also hits on a simple thing we learn in long division in grade school – remainders.

Friday, October 11, 2019

"Cat Opens Freezer and Gets Fish Fillets" and

This is not exactly a formal short film, just a short, “Cat Opens Freezer and Gets Fish Filets” (2011), from dolceluxy

The cat, sitting on a kitchen counter top, figures out how to open a freezing component of a typical refrigerator and get the fish fillets to fall to the floor.

I presume he understands that the fillets will thaw in warm air.

Here’s another video, where a house in a home in Germany opens five doors to let himself out.  He would not understand the concept of a key-locked door. 
When I lived in Dallas (1979), a stray cat would come and try to open the door to my apartment.  He recognized the sound of my car as I parked and would run to the right apartment on a second floor landing. 
Carnivores generally understand spatial relationships and that food can be behind something and be hidden from view (but not from smell).  That’s why campers have to keep food out of tents to keep it from bears.  As a mammal, if you hunt for a living, you have to be able to solve problems and have a point of view, which is why (beyond primates and cetaceans) carnivores generally have some of the intellectual aspects of people.  Cats are particularly aware of the possibility of beneficial relationships with other creatures, rather than eating them.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

"Screenagers" Two documentary films on the effect of "too much" screen time and social media on adolescents, still hard to see the films

ABC Good Morning America today mentioned the 70-minute documentary “Screenagers” (2016), directed, written and produced by Delaney Ruston. In 2019 there is a (franchise) sequel: “Screenagers Next Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience” (69 minutes).  I also see related books on Amazon but not the films.  There was a series of podcasts (one is on youtube) in 2015.  On YouTube I see trailers and interviews but no full movies.

Interested parties can request the film to arrange their own screenings. There is one in Annapolis, MD Oct 9 which is already sold out.  The film seems to have been produced in NYC and surrounding areas.

The filmmakers seem to have limited access to people who will actually organize others into screenings. I would expect to see the films available for normal rental on Amazon or YouTube, or perhaps on Netflix or Hulu, soon. As soon as I can see it or find it for rent I’ll review the full film on Wordpress.

The WQED “commentary” above (7 minutes) and Fox 5 interview (5 min) include the trailer and explain the film. 

There was an experiment with mice showing that when they are exposed in youth to electronic stimuli, they do not develop as many neurons related to normal cognition as do unexposed mice.  The trailer shows the cat scans. 

The trailers show a disconnect between families, which in good faith try to limit screen time, and schools, which teach technology (an English teacher actually taught a unit on “blogging” in 2006).  Pediatricians have long said that small children should not be exposed to the fast moving images of media until ages 2 or 3.

Teenagers who accomplish a lot (like Jack Andraka with his science fair pancreatic cancer test, or Taylor Wilson with his fusion reactor, usually have a strong footing in the physical world.  Jack and his older brother Luke (also very accomplished in environmental issues) compete in international kayaking events. Taylor is used to doing outdoor prospecting in caves and in the desert (in western states).  As kids, in the 1950s, we invented outdoor forms of baseball or softball that could be played with fewer people and actually built physical “stadiums”.  That’s easier in the Midwest where there is more land.

Monday, October 07, 2019

"America": Filial responsibility in Mexico after an elderly woman, neglected, falls (and someone goes to jail)

The film “America”, directed by Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside, was presented on PBS on Monday Oct. 7.  The 76-minute film (Lifelike Docs) was compressed to about 53 minutes.

“America” is the name of a 93-year-old grandmother in Colima, Mexico (on the southern Pacific coast, near a volcano), in the Serrano family.  One day, due to her oldest son’s negligence, she falls and is seriously injured and lies in her own excrement. The older grandson and brother takes care of her, but the youngest grandson returns from his own beach life to care for her.

The Mexican state prosecutes the father and the boys wait for the trial on a charge of neglect of an elder.  This charge is relatively uncommon in the U.S. but can happen. Judging from the film, the laws on eldercare in Mexico seem to be very strict. The older grandson was almost arrested.

The boys offer to take custody of her, as their dad is also a senior citizen.  He had been in jail for eight months.

The directors do a brief commentary, about young men showing intergenerational intimacy that may compromise their independence and sense of masculinity.

The link for the PBS trailer is here.  PBS did not offer a YouTube trailer. But it showed at a ReelAbilities film festival in NYC.

Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. picture 

Friday, October 04, 2019

"Planet 9 Is a Primordial Black Hole" (maybe, and it could be a secret to immortality of the soul)

Scientists Wonder If Planet 9 Might Be a Primordial Black Hole

Anton Petrov, on “Want da Math” explains that a black hole with the mass of our Moon left over from the Big Bang might have survived evaporation until now, and that Planet 9 in the Oort Cloud might be one. There is a microlensing effect and possibly a ring of dark matter.

Such a black hole could “store” digital information on souls on its surface.  And it would be much less than one light year away.  Could it be dangerous? 


Medium offers an interesting essay on what we learn about black holes, especially when they merge. by Ethan Siegel. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

"Could We Live on Mars?" (short)

“Could We Live on Mars?”, posted three months ago by Destiny.

The short gives a pretty good overview of the problems, mentioning that ironically Mars doesn’t have enough carbon dioxide in its surface for easy greenhouse warming.  The loss of the magnetic field four billion years ago to natural causes (quite different from Venus) is also a big problem (and common with exoplanets).

Nevertheless Elon Musk wants to have man living on Mars by 2050. His proposed Martian city looks like a circuitboard from the 1979 Disney film “Tron”.