Sen. James Inhofe breaks the stupid meter

The title isn’t mine. It’s from this article by Charles P. Pierce. Watch James Inhofe toss a snowball on the Senate floor to “prove” climate change is a hoax.

We are doomed if idiots like Mr. Inhofe are in control of our future. I wouldn’t trust Mr. Inhofe to walk my dogs. I understand that Mr. Inhofe can’t be an expert on every subject (neither can I). That does not excuse is continual statements regarding climate change that are at odds with the scientific consensus.

#Cinequest Film Festival day four

I’m amazed that after ten movies there have been no major-league assholes who insist on fondling their phone during a movie. I’ve only had to ask someone to turn their phone off three times and in each instance they did so promptly with no backtalk. This is an improvement over last year.

Film #8: “Clew” explores the topic of synthetic humans who do not have full human rights. This topic has been used in many films; most notably “Blade Runner”. This is one of the few films in the festival from the United States and I’m happy to say was interesting and not predictable (even for someone like myself who is an avowed S.F. fan). I rate it 4 of 5 stars.

Film #9: “Eadweard” explores the life of Eadward Muybridge an early photography pioneer. He is known primarily for his studies of motion using still cameras in a manner similar to that of the Wachowski’s in “The Matrix”. He also laid the groundwork for motion pictures and created the first device that we would recognize as a movie projector. The cinematography and performances are outstanding. This is my second movie in the festival to receive a 5 of 5 stars rating (the first being “Apples From The Desert”).

You can learn more about Eadward Muybridge at which I highly recommend if you have even a passing interest in how photography became film making.

Film #10: “Drift” is from Switzerland and explores the aftermath of a tragic accident. An automobile street racer kills a young girl and spends four years in prison. Upon release his path crosses that of the mother of the girl he killed. The film explores the feelings of remorse by the driver and the feelings of loss and vengeance by the mother and what happens when their paths cross. Again, a theme that has been explored many times in film. This film does so in a unique way. I rate it 4 of 5 stars.

#Cinequest Film Festival day three

Film #5: “For Some Inexplicable Reason” uses the well trodden story of a thirty year old male, Aron, who has been drifting through life and loses his girlfriend. Yet this film from Hungary manages to make the story feel fresh. This was mostly due to the imaginative ways used to show the tension between Aron’s desire to move on from the old relationship while still longing for his old girlfriend. It was a delightful 90 minutes. A strong 4 of 5 stars.

Film #6: “Three Windows and a Hanging” is from, and set in, Kosovo and explores the aftermath of the rape of four women in a small village by enemy soldiers. The cinematography is magnificent. It was submitted for an Oscar and deservedly so. The behavior of most of the men in the film is shameful on multiple levels. First is the fact that several of them knew the rapes were taking place yet hid and did nothing. Second, after the crime they pretend it never happened. Third, once one brave woman tells the world what happened (without naming the other three women) all of the men in the town spurn her for “bringing shame on the town”. This film deserves an encore screening on the last day of the festival. I’m giving it a rating of 4 of 5 stars rather than 5 of 5 because certain aspects such as the behavior of the husband of the primary female protagonist wasn’t sufficiently developed.

Film #7: “The Hamsters” explores the secrets of a dysfunctional family. The husband is 50 years old and has lost his job and is desperately seeking a new one yet hasn’t told his wife or family. Which doesn’t fool the wife since creditors are now calling the home about unpaid debts. The wife is afraid her youthful beauty is fading and longs for an affair with her personal trainer at the gym. Yet as soon as the trainer makes a pass she chickens out. The son will soon be a father and after telling his family in a moment of mutual stress says “just kidding”. The daughter is regularly skipping school and is bi-sexual. I enjoyed it but rate it only 3 of 5 stars.

#Cinequest Film Festival day two

“Life In A Fishbowl” is an interesting exploration of how three peoples lives affected by the 2008 financial crisis intersected after that event. It is set in Iceland which was particularly hard hit by the crisis due to unwise decisions by the bankers in that country. So it is no surprise that several bankers play a role in the film. What is a surprise is the pivotal banker was a former sports star hired by the bank central to the story seemingly solely for his name recognition and personal charms. He was not hired because of any great intellect regarding economics or finance. Which I think is the most powerful message of the film. I gave it a 6 of 10 score because it so badly muddled the backstory of one of the three protagonists and why he was now an alcoholic; otherwise, it deserves a 8 of 10 score.

“Beast of Cardo” was the second film I saw today. I liked it but it has some major flaws (at least for an American audience). First, it doesn’t ever establish or explain adequately why the protagonist is forced to return home from her post-graduate education in America. Second, there is a major plot device (the killing of a dog, presumably the “Beast of Cardo”) which is inadequately set up and seems to have little significance to the broader story arc. What I did like was the use of two dream-like episodes. The first appears early in the movie and is initially confusing. By the time the second appears at the end of the movie you both understand the first scene and appreciate how the second dream-like sequence is the perfect close to the movie.

Cinequest Film Festival day one

Today I saw two films. The first was “Apples From The Desert” set in present day Israel. It is a marvelous portrayal of a young woman, 19-years old, still living at home with her ultra-orthodox Jewish parents. Her aunt makes an early appearance that hints that the women in this family may be less bound to Jewish religious traditions than the father. The daughter decides to run away after learning that her father intends to “give” her to a middle-age widower with three children. I won’t say anymore to avoid spoilers but will hint that the women decide they’re tired of the patriarchy. For anyone who is secular or even just religiously liberal who wishes to gain a better understanding of the tensions between the previous and current generations in devoutly religious communities this is a must see.

The second was “Children of the Arctic”. It was a fascinating look into the culture of native Alaskans and how the teenagers handle the clash between their ancestors culture and modernity. The movie suffers a bit from an unclear timeline (the temporal relationship among the scenes isn’t always clear). Nonetheless, if you want to see an honest portrayal of what life is like for present day Eskimos I highly recommend this film.

Deepak Chopra is aging despite his mind-over-matter B.S.

Deepak Chopra (aka “Deepity* Bullshit”) has made numerous statements such as

Contrary to our traditional notions of ageing, we can learn to direct the way our bodies metabolise time.

Julia Sweeney hilariously discusses this in her book “Letting Go of God”. If you haven’t listened to the audiobook version of her book I strongly encourage you to do so. This picture concisely captures the issue:

Deepak Chopra Getting Old

It appears to me that Deepak Chopra is aging at the rate we expect of normal humans. That is, humans who do not know how to “direct the way our bodies metabolise time”. The fact that this charlatan and huckster appears on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) so often, especially during “pledge drives”, is the main reason I no longer donate to that organization.

  • This is the definition of “Deepity” from Wikipedia:

Deepity is a term employed by Daniel Dennett in his 2009 speech to the American Atheists Institution conference, coined by the teenage daughter of one of his friends. The term refers to a statement that is apparently profound but actually asserts a triviality on one level and something meaningless on another. Generally, a deepity has (at least) two meanings: one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false or meaningless and would be “earth-shattering” if true.

Glenn Greenwald vs Sam Harris on Chapel Hill Murders

I’ve been a fan of Glenn Greenwald for over a decade. He was the primary reason I was a paid subscriber to Salon. I’ve purchased most of his books on politics. I still value his views on politics and think his new venture, The Intercept is extremely valuable. But I have lost all respect for his views on religion and have therefore “unfollowed” him on Twitter. I have disagreed with Mr. Greenwald about religion in general and Islam in particular for several years. This post by Sam Harris and monologue was the tipping point.

Sorry, Glenn, but you’ve sided with the idiot Islam apologist Reza Aslan one too many times.

Tom Kirby, Georgia legislator and defender of cell clusters

Tom Kirby, Georgia representative district 114 has no idea what the phrase “human life” means but is still willing to legislate on the topic:

Ethical treatment of Embryos

We in Georgia are taking the lead on this issue. Human life at all stages is precious including as an embryo. We need to get out in front of the science and technology, before it becomes something no one wants. The mixing of Human Embryos with Jellyfish cells to create a glow in the dark human, we say not in Georgia. This bill is about protecting Human life while maintaining good, valid research that does not destroy life.

He appears to be against stem cell research. Which tells me his knowledge of biology and science in general is equivalent to the 2000 year old goat herders who wrote the book he venerates. What I find more disturbing is he appears to believe scientists are trying to create glow in the dark humans. Mr. Kirby may not be a danger to himself or others, and therefore not meet the legal definition for forced psychiatric commitment, but you’ve got to wonder how he manages to find his way home.

Anyone care to place a bet on whether or not he is for or against state sanctioned death penalty? Does he believe society should provide support for the brood mare, sorry, pregnant woman, and her children? I’m betting he’s for the former and against the latter. In other words: A typical know-nothing misogynistic “god fearing” asshole Republican.

H/T: Charles P. Pierce

Last Week Tonight tackles Big Tobacco #JeffWeCan

I’ve known that the tobacco (aka cigarette) industry was evil incarnate since I was a teenager in the mid 1970’s. I’ve watched the movie “The Insider” a couple of times. After watching that movie I though tobacco companies had been defanged.

So I was appalled to learn that tobacco companies like Phillip Morris International (PMI) are actively suing entire countries for implementing common sense labeling laws about the danger of smoking tobacco. This excerpt from “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Tobacco” explains why I, and hopefully you, are angry. It makes me wonder why the USA does not impose the death penalty against these companies given that they are mass murderers and considered “people” by our judicial system.

If you know someone killed by the tobacco industry tweet #JeffWeCan.

How to connect with anyone (youtube video edition)

This short (five minute) Youtube video about eye contact and intimacy almost made me cry. This is the summary for the video:

Studies say that 4 minutes of uninterrupted eye contact can increase intimacy. To test this this theory out, we brought in six pairs in different stages of their relationship and had them try it. How do you stay connected? Check out the NYT article that inspired the video: