Tuesday, November 19, 2019

"The Golden Age of the Internet Is Over" by Glink (it looks like it really is)


Glink presents “The Golden Age of the Internet Is Over”.
  

The golden age lasted between about 1999 and 2009, and maybe reached its nadir in 2007.

Myspace, the film says, allowed more creativity (an anonymity) than Facebook does today.

Facebook emphasized using real identities and social connections, rather than just content publishing.

The Internet became corporatized. Remember the days of the dot-com boom and bust?

He covers the censorship and sensitivity to mobs and cancel-culture (and vulnerable to left-wing tactics) as a natural result of too much consolidation and not enough competition, like there used to be.
  
At the end, Glink sings and performs and Internet song and tastefully shows himself off.  I believe I have seen him in DC before (but the film seems to be shot in Arizona and probably California judging from outdoor shots).  This short film (26 minutes) gets 5 stars.  He should enter it into DC Shorts (film festival every fall).

Monday, November 18, 2019

"How to Think in a Foreign Language"



Stop Translating in Your Head: How to Think in a Foreign Language”, by Luca Lampariello.

  
He compares Italian to Spanish, and then his native Italian to Japanese.
  
He advises using translation at first, and then learn to think in short sentence fragments, and then immerse yourself in conversation in the language.
  
I took four years of French in high school.  I can remember we read a lot the last three years (Les Miserables) and the final exams were mostly answering essay questions in French. In college, I took German, and we had an audio lab with tape recorders and 1962 technology.
  
German is easier to understand when spoken, even if the language is seen as a little harder to learn from English.
  
Madrid Spanish (in the movies) is easier to follow than Mexican Spanish.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

"What If We Could Build Wormholes?" Maybe the Lorentzian model is possible


“Unveiled” on YouTube has some videos about wormholes, and a good introduction is “What If We Could Build Wormholes?


The video explains the difference between Lorentzian and Euclidean wormhole.  The former is considered more likely to be possible to build in the future (and later we’ll look at a video on building one).

The technology could be like an Internet on steroids, but capable of moving people among various nodes, and it offers limited time travel, back to when the nodes were set up.

Mankind probably has a few hundred million years to do this before natural global warming (from the Sun getting hotter, not just human activity now) makes the Earth uninhabitable.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

"Masked": short film from Australia festival circuit on a female-to-male trans teenager



Masked” (15 min, from Momentum Films) is a short film (15 min) from Australia, about a trans teenager Zoe (Kelsie Schultz) who wants to transition from female to male.


A birthday arrives, and her mother still thinks this is something she will outgrow.  On social media, she gets some brutal messages (“you can’t make it as either”).  She already wears a patch on her wrist.

Some contemporary friends seem more supportive.

The film is directed by Michael Jay Haredinge and Jay Beckenleg.
  
The short has been aired in a trans film festival (it premiered in January 2019).

Friday, November 15, 2019

"Shisak": India's first silent gay film



Shisak”, by Faraz Arif Ansari, bills itself as “India’s First Silent LGBTQ Love Story”. There are no words.


The film says it is commemorating the final decriminalization of sodomy in India, where homosexuality is very much a taboo, still.

A young man, maybe 20, keeps playing eye candy with a well dressed business executive on repeated commuter train trips. 

Somehow this film (15 min) reminds me of Alfred Hitchock's "Strangers on a Train" (the opening, with the footsie playing). 
  
Will they ever meet?
Wikipedia: By Nikhil B - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Thursday, November 14, 2019

"Fracture": Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins faced off in 2007 crime film


Recently I reviewed “Fractured” on a Wordpress blog about a broken reality experience associated with an accidental death.  But there is a 2007 movie called “Fracture”, directed by Gregory Hoblit, based on a story by Gregory Pyne, from New Line Cinema.  It turns out I had seen it then and reviewed it briefly on a legacy site.


Anthony Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, a structural engineer, who discovers his wife is in an affair with a cop (Billy Burke), and shoots her (Embeth Davidtz).

  
Crawford matches wits with a rising prosecutor Willy Beachum (Ted Crawford), and even tries to represent himself.  Beachum is trying to move into civilian corporate practice.  Crawford gets himself off on a technicality, but later becomes involved with taking his wife off life-support, losing his right to protection from double jeopardy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

"Bad Boy's Group Session": Screenwriting lessons for gay comedy?


Artie O’Daly has a series of short films called “Bad Boy”, whose subject matter seems elusive.


Film #10 (like a Symphony #10) is called “Bad Boy's Group Session”.  An African-American woman counsels a young screenwriter (think “Adaptation” with Nicholas Cage playing twin screenwriters) in a group session with other characters, including another guy who is the screenwriter’s would-be boy friend.

There is a lot of word salad, with some alliterations, puns and metaphors, one referring to the scene in “Fargo” where one of the villains falls into a wood chipper (making an ending "piece-ful"). 

But the idea here seems to be that the writers have to come up with what will really sell to agents. Comedy writing for series is very hard.

I remember that a guy in Minneapolis had a script called "I Hate Speed-dating".  I heard a table reading of it in 2003.  (Remember the Jungle Theater, near Lake Street.)  This film reminded me of "Brent". 

Monday, November 11, 2019

"What Would You See Staring at a Black Hole?" (or entering a really large one, if you want to commute among universes)


Riddle has an interesting speculative experience, “What Would You See Staring at a Black Hole?
  
  
Some of the video explores the ideas of the movie “Interstellar” (Nov. 2014).
  
The video maintains that if you entered a very large black hole, like at the center of a particular galaxy 50 million light years away, you might not experience much. Time would slow down.
An observer would see you spaghettified and burned to ashes (maybe by heat from Hawking radiation), but a separate quantum copy of you would exist inside the black hole.
  
As long as the same observer didn’t see both this doesn’t contradict reality (at 7:00).  
  
Once you reach the singularity, you might be expelled to another universe through a white hole.
   
Theoretically, you could live there and then return here from a black hole in that universe.  But it might take so long that Earth would be long gone as the Sun had lived out his life and become a red giant (think about climate change then). But if somehow you could speed the process up, conceivably you could commute between universes and seem like an “alien” with your supernatural abilities, even to your friends.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

"Me, Myself and I: Dissociative Personality Disorder": can one person house multiple point-of-view identities?


SciShow Psych presents “Me, Myself and I: Dissociative Personality Disorder” (DID)


The speaker mentios Ed Norton (“Fight Club”) and Jim Carrey (“Split”) as way off the mark.

There is a confusion with “borderline personality disorder”.

Does the mind really harbor separate point-of-view identities?  Possible, but probably not always. 

This used to be called multiple personality disorder;  it’s not the same as schizophrenia.
   
Todd Grande explains the controversy over “Trauma or Iatrogenic”.  

Saturday, November 09, 2019

"No Safe Spaces": new documentary on erosion of free speech on campuses and in big Tech as Marcuse-like ideas become popular in some young adults


No Safe Spaces: You Have the Right to Remain Silent”, is a new documentary about the “cancel culture” and erosion of free speech on campuses, particularly.  It started limited theatrical release on Oct. 25, 2019.


The film is directed by Justin Folk and written by John Sullivan.

Adam Carolla, Dennis Prager, and Jordan Peterson appear.

Carolla appeared on Smerconish on Saturday, Nov. 9 and discussed today’s young adults as having inappropriate self-concept and lack of respect for the idea that they should prove themselves in life, the way “we” are used to the idea. That is true with some people, but certainly not at the very top of students. Carolla expressed concern that this "right not to be offended" view was metastisizing to tech companies. The lack of free expression defeats the purpose of a university. 

Some students (like in March for our Lives) may have very “progressive” policies on some issues like gun control but don’t try to interfere with the online speech of other individuals.

You can “demand” that the movie be shown in your city if it hasn’t yet with this form.   I have done this myself.

Note video "Adam Corolla's White Privilege". 

Friday, November 08, 2019

"2019 Green Race Hightlight Reel": kayaking, from the Andraka brothers, a fall break from work and grad school


For today, a real treat and something unusual.  Here is the “2019 Green Race Highlight Reel” (Vimeo) for a recent kayaking whitewater race apparently near Saluda, NC.


Luke Andraka (Jack’s brother – Jack is known for his new test for pancreatic cancer as in the “Science Fair” movie) appears and is shown at times.  I believe Jack is in here once, and apparently raced in Europe (Croatia) last summer.

The company that markets this race is “Amongstit” and has an odd link, “Stop making videos”, where it urges organizers to do other things besides produce content.

But this is a spectacular 16 minute short film (many shots of the narrows crowded with spectators), and could well be good festival material, maybe for DC Shorts next year.  

The picture above is near Brown Mountain, my trip, 2016

Thursday, November 07, 2019

"Swimming While Black": why PoC kids don't learn to swim even today


Swimming While Black: Why So Many Black People in the U.S. Can’t Swim”, from Al Jazeera (Qatar, yes).


While leisure time increased after WWII, prevailing attitudes feared men and women of different races meeting in an intimate space.  Other problems, including segregation and the remants of Jim Crow laws, kept pools segregated.

An incident in the 1960s, where acid was thrown into a pool, may have helped prompt the Civil Rights Act.

In the 1970s, especially in some larger cities in the South, white flight to distant suburbs increased, and suburban communities had private clubs for pools that could restrict access.

A woman in South Carolina, Genesis Holmes, vowed to change this after a drowning in 2014, with a Generis Project to bring swimming lessons to her small town.

I did not learn to swim as a boy.  My father tried to get me to at a local pool in Arlington VA when I was a teen.  In PE in high school, we did not have a pool in 1961 so you didn’t have to pass swimming in high school.  You did in college, and I managed to dogpaddle across a YMCA pool (at GWU) but somehow lost the skill later.
  
Private pools were not common in the 50s when I grew up, but a friend in Falls Church had one.
One friend told me that at Duke, she was expected to pass a water survival course and stay afloat for an hour. 

In competitive swimming, shaving down and peaking would curiously be a psychological issue for only white swimmers. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

"Better Left Unsaid": documentary in progress, interviews Norm Chomsky (and he is asked to comment on Jordan Peterson)



“Better Left Unsaid”, a film in progress, interviews Noam Chomsky.


He talks about Jordan Peterson, Post-Modernism, Foucault, and Ali – and the changes in the Left, away from classical liberalism now to identity politics and intersectionality. He sees Peterson is on the far right. He seems to have some interest in leftist anarchy (like NonCompete channel’s).

Ironically, he says, however, the most extreme from of identity politics is white nationalism. 

The Right, he says, is committed to destroying human life.

The talks about concepts like “bureaucratic affinity”.

He also says that the typical hourly workplace is more oppressive than political authoritarianism, since it regiments the individual practically into slavery. Yet a Maoist would want everyone to have to take his turn at this.

Chomsky is now 90 and lives in Arizona.

At the end he is asked “did you clean your room?”

The film is to be directed by Curt Jaimungal and there is an Indiegogo funding page here

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

"Decade of Fire": a documentary of the redlining and subsequent burning of the South Bronx in New York City in the 1970s.


Decade of Fire” (2019), directed by Gretchen Hildebran and Vivian Vazquez, documents the history of the failure and gradual burning of the South Bronx in New York City, most of all in the 1970s.
  

A 60-minute abridgement of the 76 minute film aired Monday November 4 on PBS Independent Lens.
  
The official link is here or PBS
  
I can remember an Amtrak ride back from Boston that gave a complete tour of the burned out area back in 1975 (after seeing a baseball game in Fenway).

The film depicts a fire not far from Yankee Stadium during the 1977 World Series with the Dodgers.

The problem started in the 1930s with deliberate (anti-black and anti-Latino) redlining by banks, leading to a corrupt system where landlords had a perverse incentive to neglect buildings, often not having heat and running water.

Also, the buildings were poorly wired, and as residents bought more modern devices, they could not hold the load.

By the early 70s it became common to let buildings burn as part of insurance fraud.  NYC endured its financial crisis in the 1970s, with the famous “Ford to City, Drop Dead” when I lived there (1974-1978).
  
Now there is a problem that gentrification and rehab is chasing poor people out.

Monday, November 04, 2019

"Are You a Robot?!?" A captcha comes alive


A lighter film for today.

Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell’s “Are You a Robot?!?


Sometimes those captcha’s come out of your computer.

Why do companies make the target items so hard to see?

On the other hand, why do some security experts say captcha’s don’t work?
  
The next film could be, is my robot conscious of itself? 

When I was in the Army (1969), I was called "chickenman", and the short film would be "Are You a Rooster?!?"   That could make a short film. 

Sunday, November 03, 2019

"First Week of Medical School": diary vlog


Here is “KharmaMedic” and “First Week of Medical School Vlog”.

Kharma start out his third year of medical school in London, which means he would become a doctor under the National Health System if he stays in Britain.


His video filming style is similar to that of John Fish.

He really has quite a high tech setup in his apartment in a London flat, with a wide screen presenting the lecture video and various slides and text notes.

It’s easier to attend lectures remotely in the library than in person.  

Occasionally I find a “day in the life of …” type of video interesting, to see what others go through.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

"Jordan Peterson: Truth in a Time of Chaos": 2018 featurette with a long interview of the controversial Canadian psychologist


Jordan Peterson: Truth in a Time of Chaos” (2018), 50 minutes, presented by Rebel Wisdom, a UK-based media group that focuses on psychology, growth, and society.


Jonathan Pageau (is he from Britain or from Quebec?) directs the film and comes to Peterson’s suburban Toronto home in the fall to interview him, after Peterson has been challenged by “students” at the airport because he won’t yield to their demands on being willing to use gender-neutral pronouns.

There is a newer film “The Rise of Jordan Peterson” (2019), which is controversial and caused protests where it has been screened and is now on Amazon.  I expect to review it soon on Wordpress.
  
Peterson starts with the premise that self-interest is natural, and even some degree of psychopathy may be natural.  Most people are potential “losers” or helpless people born into difficult circumstances and know they will die.  But it is nevertheless everyone’s personal responsibility to overcome this impulse toward nihilism and fix their own lives (rather than count on recruiting others to solidarity with neutering the past, even though the past has summarized into systematic inequality).  
He has no objection to people’s own differences and their handling them personally their own way, even trans.  He says he has a problem with making an ideology out of using it to control other people or extract group revenge for the collective sins of the past.

He mentions the corruption of our idea of logos, and the idea of “the shadow” in horror films.

He also mentions the idea that masculinity itself is under attack.
  
He also echoes the idea that “all learning is remembering”, which sounds like something I said in high school senior AP chemistry class in January 1961, “all learning is memorizing”, and the class gasped.  The Inauguration Day blizzard as to arrive shortly.

Friday, November 01, 2019

"The AIDS Virus: Patient Zero", short documents the terrifying early history of AIDS which older generations remember


“1985: The AIDS Virus: Patient Zero” (2016) from the Documentary Channel, 8 min, tries to trace the origin of HIV (or HTLV-III) and the AIDS epidemic among gay men in North America.  The first cases of Kaposi’s Sarcoma, and then Pneumocystis pneumonia, in this cohort were documented in the press from the CDC in the summer of 1981.



People today don’t remember what things were really like then.  The number of reported cases was doubling every six months. By the mid 1980s, people whom I knew personally in Dallas were showing up in forums with forearms shaved from a couple weeks of IV mainly for pneumocystis.

Politically and prospectively, the consequences seemed dire.  Reagan at first was indifferent (although the cause was announced in the spring of 1984 and a test in 1985 – with activists retorting “don’t take the test”). In Texas, as early as the spring of 1983, a very dire anti-gay extension of the sodomy law was proposed on the theory that the gay population could incubate a disease the speculatively might be spread by insects later (mentioned in the documentary).  Even the New York Native, Charles Ortleb’s paper, played up the Plum Island and arbovirus theory. Fortunately it didn’t go that way.

The film focuses on the history of an Air Canada flight attendant, Gaetan Dugas, said to have had over 2000 sexual partners in the few years preceding, who would get KS.

There was some theory that the virus came into the US in the summer of 1976, when “The Tall Ships” (which I attended) celebrated the 200th anniversary of the US in July on the Independence Day week.

Randy Shilts had documented these theories in his book “And the Band Played On” which became an HBO documentary. Later “The Normal Heart” became a major film and play.

Today, protease inhibitors and PrEP have hidden the disease from sight among more prosperous gay men (usually white or Asian) and the disease disproportionately targets remaining POC.

Health insurance funding for these treatments could be a political issue with “Obamacare” reform, and public health concerns leads us to hope that they are covered.

But there are theories that AIDS may have occurred sporadically as early as the 1950s or even 1920s, but never ignited (in times of more strict social mores).  But it is also true that it exploded in low-income heterosexual populations in Africa in the early 1980s, and was spread by untested blood transfusions and by the birth process.

It is thought that the virus might have spread from primates to humans in Africa in remote country by eating infected primate meat, which would not be acceptable in advanced countries today (New Scientist).

A 2014 article in the New Republic examines why the virus hit American gay men so hard in the early 80s.

But personally the real kicker is that, on December 9, 1960, one of the other Science Honor Society speakers (in my own basement) discussed “lysing leucocytes” in a project that seemed prescient in announcing that a disease like AIDS would some day appear.