Wednesday, June 30, 2021

"Click, Print, Gun": documentary from Vice about Cody Wilson and 3-D Printed weapons (2013)


Austin, TX, 2011/11

Click, Print, Gun”, a March 2013 documentary from Vice Motherboard, by Erin Lee Carr, also having the alternative title "3-D Printed Guns".

The film traces the work of Cody Wilson near Austin, Texas to develop the capability for manufacturing guns by 3-D printing.  But the license to do so is tied to a particular location, he says.  His company is called Defense Distributed.

There have been bills in Congress (as Sem Ed Markey has just introduced for the 117th) to ban 3-D printing of weapons and even distribution of blueprints. These could lead to more Internet censorship issues because the information itself is normally lawful. 

The film notes the political climate of the time, after the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021




“MATH + QFT” – “The Bridge Between Math and Quantum Field Theory”, by Quanta Magazine.

Quantum Field Theory is less rigorous than mathematics (which cannot prove it is “complete”), but its use adds to what we know about mathematics, probably most of all topology in higher dimensions.

Gravity is expressed in a field that allows the mass of objects to have effects at a distance.

Monday, June 28, 2021

"Motion Detected", horror short embedded in security camera footage


NYC 2021,6

Buried Hatchet Productions presents a short horror film “Motion Detected”, March 2, 2021, directed by Vincent Dormani, acted by his (apparent) brother Frank Dormani.

A young man comes home from a business trip where he has gotten warnings from his home security company.  As he goes through the video, he sees various ghosts coming into his place at 9 PM each night. 

Then the security mini-console says that a virus was found in its firmware, and to restart the device. 

Nevertheless, some entity is after the young man (7 minutes).

There is sort of am embedded story within the footage.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Unherd event: "Has Lockdown Changed Us Forever?"


NYC outdoor dining at Pride 2021-6

Freddie Sayers of the Unherd Channel conducts a 60-minute panel discussion “Has Lockdown Changed Us Forever?” I’ll count this as a “movie” for purposes of this blog.

This discussion comes from the UK, which has delayed full reopening until at least late July because of the Delta Variant. 

Freddie notes at the beginning that people have accepted a “reduced way of life” personally and may have to accept a more collectivized, authoritarian society.

One speaker immediately talked about forced separation from loved ones for very long periods.

Another speaker referred to “what nature could do to us?” Or was it Communist China? There was mention of China’s culture of absolute “compliance”. One speaker and then Freddie note that Covid suggests what a “war with China would look like; we’d lose.”

One speaker notes the shock that the churches closed down. We are at the "Death knell of the liberal order".  The World was already a strange place at the end of 2019.  They were also concerned about "back and forth" lockdowns. And finally believing that a new moral order (constraining individualism and personal agency) may be coming. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

"How to Break into the Film Industry": Tyler Mowery interviews Dominic Morgan


Angelika Film Center, Fairfax VA 2019-10

How to Break into the Film Industry with WGA Screenwriter Dominic Morgan”, as interviewed by Tyler Mowery.

Dominic comes from northern Ireland, apparently, and came of age near the violence and shelling.  He describes his entry into the field, with a deal where he was assigned to write another person’s concept and idea as well as his own, and then to travel to Brazil and learn what the people affected by the drug trade were like.  All down to earth.

He says if you have an agent, you need to produce one or two good pieces a year to keep their attention. What sells is a portfolio of screenplays, possibly interrelated and some of them smaller, not a single blockbuster.

The interview mentions Michael Hauge’s screenplay structure, which is a little more complicated thant the Harmon story circle. 

My own “do ask do tell” book series at one time generated three long screenplays (one was called “Make the A-List”) and tended to be long with several critical transition points rather than one (where getting what you want costs you something).  They were based on the world as it was in early 2000’s, immediately post 9-11. Their length and complexity might be more appropriate for a mini-series. More recently, I’ve written “Second Epiphany” which presents the material, well, from a space ship environment, where the backstories fit into various parts of the script, more or less.

I am looking into simpler stories to make that are more in line with normal expectations.  The problem is that the philosophical conflicts, while genuine and maybe captivating to some, require a lot of expository background before they become understandable.

Tyler offers a “Writer’s Mind” YouTube series, half of it free, half of it requiring Patreon support.  One of his most important episodes, about “personal high agency” (#16) is on the Patreon portion but is set up by earlier free videos like “First Principles”. Tyler also offers a course on Practicalscreenwriting

Thursday, June 24, 2021

"Eden": a lone space scavenger gets a chance to start a planet all over again, but with a robot?

Triton moon mosaic Voyager 2 (large)


Eden”, directed by Kristian Bakstad (12 min), new on the Dust channel, presents us with a Scavenger (Christoff Lundgren) exploring desolate earth-like planets alone in his spaceship. He encounters a planet looking like Pluto or Triton (Wikipedia embed above).

He goes inside an abandoned mine and first finds a woman (Brandi Alexander) as if he could restart civilization Adam-and-Even style (but no garden).  But then he is led to a Mad Man (Mackenzie Gray) who seems only to lead a religious cult.  Inside a “Box” however there is some mysterious stone artefact.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

"Is There Life Inside the Gas Giants?" (Unveiled): Maybe something like a jellyfish floats

Hubble Ultraviolet View of Jupiter


Is There Life Inside the Gas Giants?” from Unveiled, June 21,

The upper atmosphere’s of gas giants like Jupiter are thick enough that complex life forms might float (like jellyfish) or even “swim” (which could become predators hunting floaters).

There is also a question as to whether there is too much “entropy” for life to organize as it did on Earth.

What’s more interesting is what happens as you fall into the atmosphere, and eventually reach a layer of liquid hydrogen and even metallic hydrogen.

NASA ultraviolet image of Jupiter, click for attribution, p.d. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

On the Shores of Endless Worlds? or, "What NASA Discovered on Ganymede"

Galilean moon Laplace resonance animation 2


Astrum presents “What NASA Discovered on Ganymede”.

That is the largest moon in the Solar System, larger than Mercury and Titan, and the largest of the four “Galilean” moons of Jupiter.

However it’s density is much lower than Mercury’s.

The Moon has an unusually deep ocean layer dozens of kilometers deep, with a hundred times (or more) as much salt water as Earth’s oceans.  And there are several unusual ice layers.

But Ganymede is also the only moon in the Solar System with its own magnetic field, which might be produced by tidal forces.  Because of the extreme depth of the ocean, in comparison to Europa’s, it is considered unlikely that forces from the interior would create enough energy to trigger simple life.

Wikipedia diagram:   Galilean moon Laplace diagram, click for attribution (animated gif).

Sunday, June 20, 2021

"Communist State": Zachary Denman plays the "social distancing police" to have an easy life

Open Happiness Piccadilly Circus Blue-Pink Hour 120917-1126-jikatu


Zachary Denman walks his beat as the social distancing and mask police in “Communist State”, a dystopian short film, only 6 minutes.

The sky is orange.  Some London streets are deserted.  Others have people pretending to be happy.

He says the point is to make life easy, while killing self-expression. 

Picture: Piccadilly Circus in London, SoHo, Wikipedia embed, I visited it in 1982 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

"In the Woods We Can Be Together", two appealing men develop a relationship in the woods.


Ohio near Mt Vernon, 2012

In the Woods We Can Be Together”, directed and written by Ryan Schneider, posted in Oct. 2018, is a “long short” at 41 minutes but a good example of straightforward storytelling of a gay male short-term relationship.

Alex Little plays an appealing, clean-cut, non-nonsense med student living in an immaculate apartment near a state park in hilly southern Ohio. He likes to run every morning, and one day he passes by a tall construction worker played by Taylor Riebel.  The encounters repeat, and soon conversation begins. Riebel doesn't like social media or exchanging numbers, and wants the interaction to stay local, in the real world. 

The med student is gay, the construction worker is straight, usually, but strongly attracted to intact men. The discussions of medicine lead to a kiss attempt.  Riebel backs away, but comes back to the park and eventually the pairing continues.  It eventually leads to, well, Little’s apartment.

The Riebel decides he wants to go to college himself and escape his world, and moves away, leaving a memento.

The film was shot entirely on an iPhone 8 Plus, with some glare once in a while.

So is this a good example of straightforward screenwriting?

Thursday, June 17, 2021

"China's Freedom": aka, Things You Can Do in China

Guangzhou Twin Towers


China’s Freedom” or “Things You Can Do in China (You Can’t Do in America”, posted June 13, 2021, by the Living in China channel, run by a young man from the UK, similar in spirit to the Barrett Channel.

In a relatively small city in China’s interior, he shows you can drink in public (you can’t in the US) even though you can’t carry weapons (you can often in the US). 

He also notes that the public spaces are very clean (like Singapore’s).

He also notes there is almost zero street crime.

But there is no “freedom of reach” with political speech. Chinese society demands more mandatory socialization of everyone.  He doesn’t mention the social credit score.  Or the difficulty of many people in transcending and moving out of rural poverty.   

Wikipedia picture: Guangzhou skyline, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"Occupy Me": two gay men make their encounter a proxy for power and submission


NYC, Chelsea, 2016-9

Occupy Me”, (2017, 15 min) directed by Adam Fitzgerald, present two gay men in a quick “stage play” about who has power in their physical relationship. It stars Jaspar Binning and Max Rhyser.

The film has shown in film festivals in Madrid, North Carolina, Out on Film Atlanta, Inside Out Toronto, Qflix Philadelphia.

The title literally says what the issue is, and this is all definitely about cis masculinity.

Since the video is age-restricted, I’ll embed another one where a therapist talks about the topic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

"The 'Working Together' Riddle": the ultimate "story problem" for algebra tests


Rehoboth Beach, DE 2021/6

The “Working Together” Riddle, a problem that ought to be solvable by "common sense".

This may play out like the classic high school algebra “word problem”.

The important idea is to identify the indivisible work unit to solve for.

This test problem sounds like it was designed for intentional communities or communes that try to get by without any fiat currency at all.

tofu warehouse at Twin Oaks, VA, 2012

Monday, June 14, 2021

"Sign": A hearing young man attempts a relationship with a deaf man in NYC

NYC June 2019 


Sign”, posted June 14, 2020, 7 min, by Bringing Art to Life, directed by Andrew Keenan-Bolger, presents two gay men, Ben (hearing) and Aaron (deaf) building a relationship in New York City, with many scenes on subways.

Then they have a fight, over pride perhaps.  Then they reconcile.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

"What's Delaying First Contact?": There's a simple answer to Fermi's problem


model train world, 2014/12

What’s Delaying First Contact?” from Unveiled, alternate title “4 Reasons Why We Still Haven’t Found Aliens”, or explaining the Fermi Paradox.

My own take:  Intelligent civilization is but a speck of time in the history of the galaxy. Other civilizations could have risen and fallen repeatedly over time and are too far away for us to find evidence of them.

It sounds pessimistic, but escaping from Earth would require my own “Second Epiphany” (or else a real one with aliens).  Check also this Washington Post op-ed Sunday June 13, "Contacting aliens could end all life on earth. Let’s stop trying.  Whatever the UFO report says, it’s time to set some rules for talking to extraterrestrials "

Friday, June 11, 2021

Johnny Harris explains "Why I Left the Mormon Church"


LDS temple Salt Lake, 1940s, family estate picture

Independent journalist Johnny Harris explains, on a 23-minute video today, “Why I Left the Mormon Church”.

He had graduated from Brigham Young University (Wikipedia has just posted personal data which shows him to be 33), and married (Iz) and had a child, and moved to Washington DC.  He had done missionary work, at his own expense, which is presented as knocking on doors and proselytizing, and said he was going through an internal mental review of his own faith, often on bike rides or runs. It struck him one day that he could not commit himself further to the collective cause of the church.  He confronted Iz, who first thought that could end their marriage, but then Iz joined him in the same separate introspection.  They would have to raise their boys to become much more independent thinkers.

He does review the four major ordinances of the Church as baptism, confirmation, endowment (a special ritual) and marriage.   Descendants can do rituals for your soul after you decease. The whole setup (eternal family) imputes a collective solidarity that “takes care of everyone” who has an otherwise rightful place within the church.  But this amounts to a right-wing form of “socialism” or the psyche.  In the distant past, the Mormons were a persecuted group, and could understand the idea of an identity of a lived experience of oppression, with an uncanny parallel to today’s woke Left, but with other groups. Harris does mention the homophobia of the LDS church of the past, and it seems directly related to the idea of social solidarity as expressed in reliable procreation within a family expressing traditional gender roles. 

So Johnny’s journey seems to be one of leaving tribalism for individualism.  He can do this with an entire family.  For an individual like me, it is more problematic.  That’s particularly troubling if I were taken out by someone else’s violence (which I have avoided, turning 78 in July, having avoided HIV and COVID).  With no community behind me, that’s the end.  No funeral, nothing, just erased. Maybe because of someone else’s indignation and anger. You really have to want to be saved.

 I visited the Sal Lake area once, in May 1981. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

"Why British People Can't Donate Blood in America" from Real Science



“Why British People Can’t Donate Blood in America”, from Real Science (May 15, 2021). 

This is relatively little known, but Americans who have spent more than 90 days in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s cannot give blood.

It started with an epidemic of mad cow disease in Britain in the 1980s. It is closely related to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans (or subacute spongiform encephalopathy). 

The cause of the disease is a misfolded protein, which (like a strangelet) causes other proteins it touches to be refolded.

The science of prions (“protein infectious molecules”) became known in a Discover magazine article in 1983, about the time AIDS was a mystery but prions have nothing to do with AIDS (fortunately).  Curiously “prion” chemistry might be significant in extraterrestrial biology if we ever find it (like on Titan’s lakes).

There is a new indirect blood test oft CJD prion proteins in people who may eventually develop symptoms.

Wikipedia embed of laboratory stain or brain of infected animal, click for attribution 

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

"Ark": time dilation affects a couple in an "Interstellar-like" short film


Fireplace in "Therapy" NYC

In the short film “Ark” (8 min on Dust, directed by Sona Helmi, 2021), a young woman has returned from an exploratory visit to Earth 2, where people will relocate.

She has aged only 5 years, her husband 45 years and is now 79.

He doesn’t want to go, but she is willing to “freeze” him.

Monday, June 07, 2021

"Why Is Russia so Damn Big?", according to Johnny Harris

Map of federal subjects of Russia (2014)


Johnny Harris, now with a rather large independent journalistic video channel, talks about a lot of subjects we should know more about.

This one, from late March 2021, is “Why Is Russia so Damn Big?

The original founding of “Muscovy” had a lot to do with pushing back the Mongol invaders, beyond a mountain border the Urals (remember the intermission of “Dr. Zhivago” in 1966/)

Later czars (starting with Ivan) just wanted to go past the Urals because too porous in the South, so they gradually infiltrated the lightly settled tribal areas in Siberia and “invited” the tribes to join. Eventually, they took Alaska, which the US bought for a steal in 1867.  What if Russia tried to take it back?  (the 1982 TV movie “World War III”). 

Harris mentions that Russia is divided in 22 republics, many of which are almost autonomous except international affairs. So Russia is a federation, not a unary state like China.  That contrasts to the USSR which added 15 other semi-autonomous “Republics” which were unloaded into the CIS when the USSR broke up at the end of 1991. Particularly visual is is coverage of Sakha and icebox capital Yakutsk, with all the diamond sinkholes in the permafrost (which if it melts means a catastrophe for global warming). 

He mentions Chechnya and barely notes the serious problems there (not explicitly mentioning the extreme fanatical homophobia) and also the Navalny case.

Despite its decentralized nature, Putin is trying hard to repopulate Siberia and is very sensitive about low birth rates, which probably explains the Russian anti-gay propaganda law of 2013.

Wikipedia map of “federal subjects”, click for attribution.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

"How to Be Hopeless": Hour-long video by Carlos Maza would seem to refute the idea of personal agency



NYC, 2016/9

Here is Carlos Maza’s 56-minute trope from April 9, 2021, “How to Be Hopeless   There is also a longer, 2-hour livestream.

He bases his commentary on the 1947 book “The Plague  (“La Peste”), by Albert Camus, about a hypothetical pandemic in Oran in French Algeria and a man’s “escape” from it, so to speak.

He starts out by noting that most people believe they are the “protagonist” of their own “novel”, literally like The Protagonist of Christopher Nolan’s film Tenet.  This sort of intrinsic self-centeredness is really what of we could call “personal high agency”.  There is a belief that a successful, or at least a competent person, stays in control of things that can affect him, doesn’t make mistakes, and doesn’t contaminate himself by associating with losers.  (I’ll drop pronoun courtesy for the moment.)  Taken literally when faced with a pandemic, that could mean you are fit enough to overcome it if you get it. It sounds not like Darwin but probably Herbert Spencer. It isn’t hard to imagine the danger of this philosophy – by focusing on individual fitness as the moral indivisible, it invites fascism (and the era of Trump, culminating in January 6, which this video includes some footage of).

That’s not to overlook the idea that whole groups (starting with race) were designated as less fit by those in charge. At the other end, there is the idea of accepting your own ego-loss but to keep on fighting for the vulnerable, in solidarity with them because you admit you are no better than them. 

Then what happens to optimism with so many other personalities on YouTube (Tyler Mowery, Max Reisinger, John Fish) who seem to be in a position to take charge of things with enough care and acceptable distance from ruinous risk.  The far Left will insist this happens only with exploitation (“capitalism”) and so the individual is left to “pay his dues”, except that critical theory will throw him into a group anyway.

Maza made the video in April.  Physically, he looks good and has apparently avoided the pain of the disease personally and would certainly be vaccinated now. Maza, in fact, is said to be well-off despite his “socialism”.  He has done great work in the past for Vox (his interview of David Hogg was a masterpiece).  But then this feud with Crowder took everyone else down on YouTube with him in mid 2019, two years ago today, eight months before pandemic.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Chaos Theory: (Why a skipped heart beat doesn't kill you, and more, like why a faucet drip can be irregular)



Chaos! “This Equation Will Change How You See the World: The Logistic Map”.

Johnny Hymen, on Versatium, explains how natural systems (even heart rhythms) become chaotic and then recover.  He plots the behavior of systems under the equation x sub (n+1) = rx (sub n) times (1- x sub n).

equation in text 

He also explains the Feigenbaum constant approx.. 4.669, as shown in this embedded Wikipedia diagram.

It is a constant of nature that is derived strictly from math. Related to all this is the Mandelbrot set in complex numbers. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

"Why Do Terrence Malick's Movies Look Like That?" (Flight)


Roadside America, PA, 2011

Thomas Flight asks “Why Do Terrence Malick’s Movies Look Like That?”

He discusses Malick’s long hiatus from filmmaking, to do things his way, to connect his characters and stories to a deeper process within the environment.

He often uses wide angle lens, low shots, and back lighting, and his storylines may seem arbitrary, and more about circumstance and setting.

A couple of my favorites are “Knight of Cups” (March 17, 2016) and “Tree of Life” (June 3, 2011).

I suppose that his approach could work with the present day scenes in my own screenplay “Second Epiphany”, on the spaceship; they would not work with the backstories, which have to be very precise.