Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Case for Policing Reform Is Much Bigger Than Michael Brown - The Atlantic

"As a longtime proponent of sweeping reforms to the criminal justice system, I'm extremely apprehensive of the impulse to treat the killing of Michael Brown as a focal rallying point, even granting that the case has mobilized people and attention. His death is a perfect illustration of the need for dashboard cameras on every patrol vehicle and lapel cameras on every police officer in America. The way officials in Ferguson reacted to the protests over his death did illustrate the alarming militarization of U.S. police agencies. But when it comes to the problem of police officers using excessive force, including lethal force, against people they encounter, there are scores of cases that better illustrate the problem."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop | The Nation

"Wanton overpolicing had poisoned relations between the people and their government well before Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown. Less mediagenic than police militarization and far more insidious is law enforcement’s daily harassment of citizens for petty offenses. The local government in Ferguson has been treating its residents and neighbors less like free people with rights than like revenue milk-cows to be exploited to the max. Citations and fines for petty offenses are profligately inflicted on residents, particularly black residents. According to a blockbuster report issued by St. Louis’s ArchCity Defenders advocacy group, over 20 percent of city revenue comes from municipal courts (making them the city’s second-largest source of revenue), which issued enough warrants last year to slap three warrants, $312 worth, on every household in the town."

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Am Love (2009) **

Beautifully photographed with an appealing cast but the central love affair is unconvincing and it's hard to feel for the characters.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Birdman (2014) ****

Original, funny, 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.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Alps (2011) ***

Follow up to Dogtooth is totally different yet very similar. Mind bending premise played out to horrific conclusions. Yorgos Lanthimos is a director to watch for.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Sophia Loren explains her infamous side eye in Jayne Mansfield photo | PopWatch |

"'She came right for my table. She knew everyone was watching. She sat down. And now, she was barely… Listen. Look at the picture. Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate. In my face you can see the fear. I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow—BOOM!—and spill all over the table.'"

Monday, November 03, 2014

Jacques Pepin’s last series for KQED shares his 'Heart & Soul’ - San Francisco Chronicle

"He says it has not been any more emotional for him to film this series, even knowing this is his final one.

"After all, he’s adamant that this is not the last you’ll see of him. He plans to do a book tour next year, continue teaching at Boston University and the International Culinary Center, and appear at Aspen Food & Wine.

“'I’ll do the same as I’ve always done, but just less of it,' he says. 'I won’t become a hermit. There is no retirement. As long as I’m hungry, I will cook.'”

To me, his series are the best TV shows, not just cooking shows, ever.