Friday, December 08, 2017

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017) **

Not as sharp or incisive as we've come to expect from Baumbach and it's hard to care about these characters. Kind of a waste of a very good cast.

Silence (2016) **

Well made but far too long. Or not long enough. May have played better as a 6 part limited television series. Still, resonant and thought provoking examination of faith.

Lady Bird (2017) ****

Stellar cast, terrific screenplay, thoughtful, subtle direction. The coming-of-age film to end all coming-of-age films.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Choosy Eggs May Pick Sperm for Their Genes, Defying Mendel’s Law | Quanta Magazine

His hypothesis – that the egg could woo sperm with specific genes and vice versa – is part of a growing realization in biology that the egg is not the submissive, docile cell that scientists long thought it was. Instead, researchers now see the egg as an equal and active player in reproduction, adding layers of evolutionary control and selection to one of the most important processes in life.

“Female reproductive anatomy is more cryptic and difficult to study, but there’s a growing recognition of the female role in fertilization,” said Mollie Manier, an evolutionary biologist at George Washington University.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

What if consciousness is not what drives the human mind?

Everyone knows what it feels like to have consciousness: it’s that self-evident sense of personal awareness, which gives us a feeling of ownership and control over the thoughts, emotions and experiences that we have every day.

Most experts think that consciousness can be divided into two parts: the experience of consciousness (or personal awareness), and the contents of consciousness, which include things such as thoughts, beliefs, sensations, perceptions, intentions, memories and emotions.

It’s easy to assume that these contents of consciousness are somehow chosen, caused or controlled by our personal awareness – after all, thoughts don’t exist until until we think them. But in a new research paper in Frontiers of Psychology, we argue that this is a mistake.

We suggest that our personal awareness does not create, cause or choose our beliefs, feelings or perceptions. Instead, the contents of consciousness are generated “behind the scenes” by fast, efficient, non-conscious systems in our brains. All this happens without any interference from our personal awareness, which sits passively in the passenger seat while these processes occur.

Put simply, we don’t consciously choose our thoughts or our feelings – we become aware of them.

Martin Short advises Ramis School students to 'go see the greats' | Chicago Sun-Times

Short revealed that he has had long conversations with Martin Scorsese, who is working on a documentary about “SCTV,” the TV spinoff of Canada’s Second City that became a huge cult hit.

“Marty is fascinated with why some comedy is timeless, when certain other comedy and comedians have a short shelf life,” said Short, citing the late Eddie Cantor (“a huge star in his day, but would make you sick if you watched him today”) as an example of someone who faded.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Former teen idol David Cassidy dies at 67 - SFGate

Mr. Cassidy’s stock soared because of his androgynous good looks, but soon because of his vocals as well. Jones, of course, was a veteran vocalist who had starred in musicals such as “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific,” but Cassidy hadn’t been cast because of his vocal abilities. In fact, the show’s producers assumed he, like most of the young actors playing the Partridge kids, couldn’t sing.

The only ones watchable on the show were Jones, Dey and Cassidy. RIP David.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) *

Uninspired, uninteresting remake of a much better original with not nearly the star power. For fans of CGI scenery.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You've Ever Met

Having issued this warning, and having acknowledged that people in your address book may not necessarily want to be connected to you, Facebook will then do exactly what it warned you not to do. If you agree to share your contacts, every piece of contact data you possess will go to Facebook, and the network will then use it to try to search for connections between everyone you know, no matter how slightly—and you won’t see it happen.

Facebook doesn’t like, and doesn’t use, the term “shadow profiles.” It doesn’t like the term because it sounds like Facebook creates hidden profiles for people who haven’t joined the network, which Facebook says it doesn’t do. The existence of shadow contact information came to light in 2013 after Facebook admitted it had discovered and fixed “a bug.” The bug was that when a user downloaded their Facebook file, it included not just their friends’ visible contact information, but also their friends’ shadow contact information.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

How Matter Lost Its Mojo

Modern physics teaches us something rather different, and deeply counter-intuitive. As we worked our way ever inward—matter into atoms, atoms into sub-atomic particles, sub-atomic particles into quantum fields and forces—we lost sight of matter completely. Matter lost its tangibility. It lost its primacy as mass became a secondary quality, the result of interactions between intangible quantum fields. What we recognize as mass is a behavior of these quantum fields; it is not a property that belongs or is necessarily intrinsic to them.

Despite the fact that our physical world is filled with hard and heavy things, it is instead the energy of quantum fields that reigns supreme. Mass becomes simply a physical manifestation of that energy, rather than the other way around.