Thursday, November 20, 2014

Birdman (2014) ****

Original, funny, important, audacious and inventive. The entire cast is outstanding led by a career re-defining performance by Mr. Mom.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Oral History of the Epic Space Film The Right Stuff | WIRED

"PHILIP KAUFMAN: We combined the great NASA footage with pieces that were built on the set. We were pioneering in that kind of insertion of actors into historical events. For example, we combined footage of the real Alan Shepard being loaded into the capsule with Scott Glenn doing it on the stage. We had Scott Glenn shaking hands with Kennedy; they did the same thing in Forrest Gump and made a big thing out of spending a million dollars to do it. We did that in one afternoon."

Moving from film stock to digital, at least so far, has achieved less creative results. All you have to do is animate the scene you want via CGI and show it in near darkness or with extreme short cuts so you can't really tell what is going on and the brain of the viewer fills in the blanks. Sad.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quantum Experiment Shows How Time ‘Emerges’ from Entanglement — The Physics arXiv Blog — Medium

"The experiment involves the creation of a toy universe consisting of a pair of entangled photons and an observer that can measure their state in one of two ways. In the first, the observer measures the evolution of the system by becoming entangled with it. In the second, a god-like observer measures the evolution against an external clock which is entirely independent of the toy universe.

"The experimental details are straightforward. The entangled photons each have a polarisation which can be changed by passing it through a birefringent plate. In the first set up, the observer measures the polarisation of one photon, thereby becoming entangled with it. He or she then compares this with the polarisation of the second photon. The difference is a measure of time.

"In the second set up, the photons again both pass through the birefringent plates which change their polarisations. However, in this case, the observer only measures the global properties of both photons by comparing them against an independent clock.

"In this case, the observer cannot detect any difference between the photons without becoming entangled with one or the other. And if there is no difference, the system appears static. In other words, time does not emerge."

Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin, Says Black Swan Author — The Physics arXiv Blog — Medium

"One of the arguments that genetically modified crops are safe is that it is no more unnatural than the selective farming that people have been doing for generations. However, Taleb and co argue that this kind of farming is different from the current practice because any mistake in the form of a harmful variation will almost certainly be localised and die out as a result. This is the natural process of selection.

"Over many generations, humans have chosen and adapted biological organisms that are relatively safe for consumption, even though there are many organisms that are not safe, including parts of and varieties of the crops that we do cultivate.

"By contrast, genetic engineering works in a very different way. This process introduces rapid changes on a global scale. But selection cannot operate on this scale, they argue.

“'There is no comparison between tinkering with the selective breeding of genetic components of organisms that have previously undergone extensive histories of selection and the top-down engineering of taking a gene from a fish and putting it into a tomato,' they argue. 'Saying that such a product is natural misses the process of natural selection by which things become “natural.”'”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fading Gigolo (2013) ***

An appealing cast, just as long as it needs to be, interesting quirks, and Woody being "Woody" add up to an entertaining 90 minutes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

BBC News - Reagan's apology to Thatcher over Grenada revealed

"The release confirms that President Reagan secretly recorded his discussions in the White House situation room, a habit that was previously thought to have ended with Richard Nixon's departure from office."

I guess some habits are just too hard to break.

via @HealeyParera

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Obamacare Architect Jon Gruber Says Deceiving Americans Necessary to Pass Bill | naked capitalism

"This recently-posted video (hat tip Daily Signal) shows Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber matter-of-factly stating that an honestly and simply described Obamacare would not have passed Congress. Preying on 'the stupidity of the American voter' was necessary to get the bill passed. Of course, Gruber deems that to be a good thing."

It's a shame we no longer prosecute fraud.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Interstellar (2014) **

The two stars are for a half dozen stunning space travel set pieces and some cool robots. Otherwise this is a bloated, heavy handed jumble of some of the hoariest sci-fi plot cliches ever filmed, and some troubling ultra-right messages. Very disappointing.