Monthly Archive for April, 2011

Black Swan movie review

Last night we watched Black Swan. That was one of the most disturbing moving that I’ve ever seen. A slasher movie would be less disturbing. What made it so disturbing was the self-inflicted pain that Nina Sayers caused, and the audience associates more with this main character than with those characters from a slasher movie.

Mila Kunis’s character, Lily, was the breath of fresh air in this movie. Although she was a darker character than Nina, Lily obviously knew how to handle it better, while the same darkness practically destroyed Nina. Watching Natalie Portman’s performance made me feel nervous.

The movie was a very good exploration and portrayal of what it takes for an artist to truly feel artwork. Such a deep dive can be very taxing. I’d probably want to own this movie and watch it again and again.

Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made

A post on entitled Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made is a very thought-provoking post that explains that cancer virtually did not exist in antiquity.

One could argue that people did people did not live as long in the past as they do today, thus we live long enough to encounter cancer in our lives. Unfortunately, this is debunked because many monarchs lived in a very old age, especially Egyptians, and only one mummy of the hundreds uncovered had the disease. Cases only began to spike during the 17th century, and in child cases after the Industrial Revolution.

The conclusion:

Yet again extensive ancient Egyptian data, along with other data from across the millennia, has given modern society a clear message – cancer is man-made and something that we can and should address.

The King’s Speech movie review

I just watched The King’s Speech for which Colin Firth won an Academy Aware for Best Actor. The was nominated for dozens of other awards, and I can see why. It was a very intriguing story about King George IV who overcame his stammer through the help of an unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue who is played by Geoffrey Rush.

The film depicts many obstructions through which Albert, the Duke of York before he became king, lives through before and during he becomes king. Never being expected to be king, he becomes a king when his older brother, King Edward VIII, chooses to marry his lover Wallis Simpson. So, not only was Albert made fun of growing up for his stammer, but he then becomes a king who main purpose is to speak for a nation. The personal difficulties through which Albert lived are heart-warming and relatable, and just watching him overcome his obstacles as much as he could, stand up to his responsibilities with his best intentions, and grow through all of that and gain confidence is inspiring.

The special features are definitely worth watching the producers and director wanted to make this film as accurate as possible, and listening to how the actors prepared for the roll really shines a new appreciation from me for these actors. What really stuck to my mind was how methodical and passionate the director Tom Hooper was in making the film, and even though the film won so many awards, the director did not speak with much confidence recalling just how lucky he felt that he managed to get the cast that he got. I guess things sort of aligned for him, but it also sounds like he was very tenacious. I also should mention that this film was important to make for Hopper because he is half Australian and half English, so the Anglo-Australian relationship between the king and therapist was very important for Hopper to display.

It is also important to state that the writer of this film, David Seidler grew up with a stammer, and managed to overcome it. This inspired him to write this story because Seidler regarded King George VI as his hero because …

if the he could overcome his stated stammer with the entire world listening to every syllable that he utters, then [he] could overcome his stammer too.

The special features contain a public service announcement from The Stuttering Foundation.

I think that I could own this movie because I have a feeling that watching it many times over will reveal a new depth or nuance that was not previously uncovered.

Transcendent Man movie reivew

When I first heard that Transcendent Man will be released, I was very excited. I had its release dates marked in my calendar for months ahead of time. This movie was the only one of two things that I ever pre-ordered in my life, the other being the JoMoX MBase 11.

The film impressed me by illustrating so well in the video medium all of the things that I’ve read about Ray Kurzweil’s predictions. The film covered equally between who Ray Kurzweil is, his technological prediction about the technological singularity, and his longevity efforts. This is certainly a good film for anyone who is new to Ray Kurzweil’s concepts, but the film may fall short for anyone well acquainted with Kurzwiel’s writings and is trying to learn something new and deep.

The most interesting parts of the film for me were about the history of Ray Kurzweil’s life and how he lives today. I thought that it was very interesting how Kurzweil allowed his opponents state their opinions while Kurzweil provided virtually no direct rebuttal.

Be prepared to hear the word “exponential” and “exponentially” more times than you have ever heard in a 83 minutes.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ray Kurzweil’s ideas, begin in this order:

  1. Watch Kurzweil’s talk at TED from 2005.
  2. Read the The Ray Kurzweil Reader, a collection of essays published from 2001 to 2003 on virtual reality, artificial intelligence, radical life extension, conscious machines, the promise and peril of technology, and other aspects of our future world.
  3. Check out website Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence and subscribe to the newsletter.
  4. Then read one of his books, most notably The Age of Spiritual Machines1 and The Singularity Is Near.

1available as a free e-book, but I read it by checking out a free copy from my local library.

The Fighter review

We watched The Fighter on March 19th, 2011. It was a good movie. I’d recommend watching it, at least once, especially because it’s based on a true story. After watching the special features on the DVD, I learned just how much work was put in keep the story authentic, and I respect that quite a bit. Christian Bale did a great performance. It’s a movie that makes one compare one’s family situation to the one on TV (hopefully short of the drugs).

The River that Caught on Fire

Today at work, we had Green Fest, and as part of the Green Team committee, I volunteered to help set up for the event. After my shift, I walked around the exhibits, and I stopped by the Blue Thumb booth. At first, I was just being friendly to our vendors because the Blue Thumb project focuses significantly on amphibious biology, which is not particularly interesting to me. However, I was astonished how it related to our everyday lives in Tulsa.

Blue Thumb is a not for profit organization that uses volunteers to wade in streams and collect samples of little larva, bugs, leaches, and other gross looking creatures to determine the health of the water. When the proportion of the species is disproportionate or some creatures are missing altogether, then Blue Thumb reports the findings the state, which appropriates money and effort to find the root cause of the problem and corrects it.

Much of the Blue Thumb project is education of the public, and this is where it became interesting for me. I did not know that storm drains drain directly into creeks and are not processed by water treatment plants. So, for example, it is bad to wash one’s car in the driveway because the soap runs directly into creeks and hurts fish. Commercial car washes, on the other hand, are required to collect their drainage, process it, and then dispose of it correctly where part of the waste is handled by solid waste management, and the liquid it tied into the water treatment plant. So, using a local car wash is not only more expensive but good for local economy and washes one’s car a little better because it provides warm water, but it’s also greener.

I was glad to hear that most of the streams in Tulsa metro area are in great shape, but the Arkansas River, which is out of scope of the Blue Thumb project due to dangerous conditions and bacteria, has room for improvements. However, the Arkansas River is significantly in better shape than it used to be in the 1970s when it was at its worst. All the refineries and industrial parks along the river, starting in Colorado, used the river as a trashcan. Things only first started to turn around when the Ohio River was so polluted that it actually caught on fire and burned for a week.

This prompted environmental laws on the matter. The refineries around Tulsa did start using a landfill instead of dumping for some waste instead of dumping everything into the river, but they put heavy metals and toxic waste into these landfills that were designed for municipal waste. Furthermore, the landfill was used for 10 years, instead of 4 years, as designed. Eventually, the landfill caught on fire inside of itself and smoldered indefinitely causing locals to complain from related illnesses. So, the waste was moved to a new location around Sand Springs and was sealed off. Yet, the new site has pipes coming out to allow the decomposing gases, which continue decompose to this day, to escape.

I may need to drive by there one time to check it out. I learned very interesting history today.

Let Me In review

On March 11th, 2011, we watched the film Let Me In. This was a movie about the torture of growing up as a child in school. Even though this in the horror genre, and although there is some violent scenes, the most horrific scenes of all are when the boy, the main character, gets bullied at school. We also learn to sympathize with the vampire, who has a horrible but sad life style and who befriends the boy and becomes his guardian. It really makes one reflect at one’s own childhood and the difficult moments one had and the assistance one wished one had at the time.