“Days before Kennedy arrived in Dallas for his Trade Mart visit, the Friends of Humanity had campaigned among locals for his impeachment. According to the group, the Missile Crisis was the least of Kennedy’s sins in a list of treasons including “mutant love” and “conspiracy to dilute the human race with ungodly blood.”
I missed this during JFK retrospective/Thanksgiving week until Ted of The Late Adopter passed it along: The Magic Bullet is finally explained. In short, there was no second shooter — just a bullet-bending mutant master of magnetism on the grassy knoll. Seems like a good reason to authorize the Sentinel program, and no mistake.
“Tuschman began by building the dioramas. Apart from an occasional prop taken from a dollhouse or toy train set, Tuschman builds everything to a scale about big enough for his cat, Smithers, to fit inside. He then photographed his models (he used two women and cast himself for the male character) on gray, using Photoshop to create the final image.”
Also by way of The Late Adopter: With Edward Hopper as his (original) inspiration, photographer Richard Tuschman conjures up evocative Hopper-style photos using dioramas and Photoshop. “I have always loved the way Hopper’s paintings, with an economy of means, are able to address the mysteries and complexities of the human condition,’ Tuschman wrote in his statement about the work.”
“Anyway, this was a lot of fun to cut together. While I don’t expect that you’ll agree with all of my choices (given that this is a ranked list of 25 films, it would be really strange if you did), I hope you enjoy watching this all the same.”
As per last year, Film.Com’s David Ehrlich has once again spliced together an entrancing Supercut of his top 25 films of 2013. As always, my own year-end list will arrive at the end of the month, but I will say that I’ve seen most of Ehrlich’s (wide-release) choices, I generally agree with what he’s got going on here, my current top two films are in his top five, and I have very high hopes for his #3.
As a short companion piece to Gravity, the film’s co-writer (and director Alfonso Cuaron’s son) Jonas Cuaron offers up the other side of the howling conversation with Aningaaq. Not terribly essential, but no harm, no foul.
As part of the general fiftieth anniversary festivities, artist Bill Mudron
creates an Bayeux Tapestry of the Doctor’s many adventures (to date)
. “A larger version of the illustration can be found on Mudron’s Flickr, and prints are available to pre-order online.”
Also in recent Who news, Steven Moffat offers up another anniversary minisode (tho’ it’s not nearly as cool as McGann’s recent return) and Io9 has ranked every televised Who story from best to worst. (Along the same lines, if you’re a Whovian of any sort, you should definitely be checking out Cryptonaut-in-Exile’s extensive Doctor Who Index.)
“‘The effect can only be surrealistic if the channels are realistic,’ says Vania Heymann, the video’s 27-year-old Israeli director. ‘In reality, channel-flipping is a very passive act. You’re sitting back in your house, doing nothing. We wanted to make it an active thing, reediting the song itself to make a new version.’
As making the rounds today: Forty-eight years after that trademark snare-shot first “kicked open the door to your mind,” as Bruce Springsteen once put it, Bob Dylan’s seminal “Like a Rolling Stone” gets a spiffy official interactive video. I clicked on this yesterday and didn’t even notice the lip-syncing on every channel. In my defense, I may have gone to the finest schools alright, but I only used to get juiced in them.
“The ASRG program was created to help extend the life of the remaining Pu-238 supply. It uses a Stirling engine to generate electricity at four times the efficiency of a regular RTG. This means more missions to these harsh places using less Plutonium. While NASA has started to generate Pu-238 again, it won’t be ready to use until 2019, and even then the Department of Energy will only produce about 1kg – 1.5kg per year. The New Horizons mission to Pluto used about 11kg, which would take anywhere from 7 – 11 years to generate under the current plan.”
Because of sequestration and other budget cuts, NASA is forced to cancel its advanced spacecraft power program, threatening future missions past the asteroid belt. “ASRGs had been under development by NASA for over a decade, and had been planned for use by 2016 in the next low-cost planetary exploration missions…Because of the limited cost cap imposed on these missions, they’re now essentially limited to the inner solar system. Missions with bigger budgets that could afford regular RTGs will be bottlenecked by the production rate of Plutonium to maybe once or twice per decade. Goodbye, outer planets.”
“Before now, the record for storing quantum data at room temperature was two seconds. One. Two. Done. But researchers in Canada announced they’ve now hit 39 minutes. That’s right — they’ve raised the bar from 2 seconds to 39 minutes…The advance clears a major hurdle in developing powerful new supercomputers and has outside experts excited about the not-so-distant future of the field.”
(Our work is never over.) In more promising future-tech news, scientists figure out a way to store quantum data for much longer than ever before. “Though surviving for 39 minutes may not sound like very long, it only requires one-hundred-thousandth of a second to perform an operation on a single qubit. So theoretically, over 20 million operations could be performed before the qubits’ data decayed by 1 percent.”
“If You Like It, Don’t Put a Ring on It.”
By way of Hal at Blivet
, a decently funny collection of Middle Earth PSA and propaganda posters
“As you probably heard, the onetime juggernaut of a video rental chain formally pulled the plug on most of its remaining retail stores this week. Just think of all those abandoned storefronts where people used to rent ‘Wall Street 2′ or ‘Pain and Gain’ or whatever; just think of what Bruce Springsteen, the bard of economic collapse, might have done with such a…well, I was about to type ‘catastrophic occurrence,’ but..it was more like a sector of the marketplace realigning itself with technological reality after years of denying the inevitable.”
Down in South Carolina, back in 1993, I wore the blue and yellow, got ten free films a week. I built up some movie knowledge, right near the Florence Mall. Now those tapes have been taken away, lost amid the suburban sprawl. After mining the Internet hivemind, Matt Zoller Seitz gathers odes to the end of Blockbuster in the style of Bruce Springsteen.
Mowing neighborhood lawns notwithstanding, Blockbuster was actually my first job. And, while I never cottoned to their Republican-leaning ways or their ridiculous drug test policy, it was a pretty good gig for a high school kid, all in all — if you could withstand the same twenty trailers and episode of Duck Tales playing ALL THE TIME. Like I said, ten free movies a week. As an 18-year-old just working to raise beer-money for college, you can’t beat that with a stick.
“I knew that Handford had placed Waldo in each of these illustrations, and in my experience, all people—even people who make a living hiding cartoon men in cartoon landscapes — have tendencies, be they conscious and unconscious. True randomness is very difficult to achieve, even if you want to, and according to Handford he does not necessarily aim for unpredictability…Knowing this, is it possible, I wondered, to master Where’s Waldo by mapping Handford’s patterns?”
In Slate, Ben Blatt uses pattern mapping to pre-determine Waldo’s whereabouts. But don’t think all the conundrums are solved just yet. “[This] leaves a more intriguing question left unanswered: Why is Waldo there? Why, Waldo? Why are you so likely to hide in these two narrow bands? Why are you rarely at the edges of the page? Why are you rarely in the middle of the page? Why, Waldo?”
“JPMorgan’s bankers are getting used to business deals with young men who communicate in emojis and text-message abbreviations…Yet, when the bank devised the promotional Q&A, it may not have fully grasped the extent to which new media has transformed how people share information, and how this has tipped existing structures of power.”
Er…let’s not overdo it. Existing structures of power haven’t changed at all, and, after a bad week’s press, JP Morgan is still laughing all the way to the bank. Still, I was proud to get in early on the co-opting of JP Morgan’s inane #AskJPM forum on Twitter last week, which got tweets of mine mentioned in BusinessWeek, WaPo, The New Yorker, and various other venues — undoubtedly the strangest being a somber tweet-reading by the venerable Stacy Keach. In any case, if any of those links have led you back here to GitM this week, welcome, and thanks for dropping by.
It’s November 15th again, meaning that, as of today, Ghost in the Machine
is now 14 years old. [0
Obviously, the blog’s been progressing in fits and starts this year, and the readership has definitely suffered as a result – This is more of a Google-trap than a blog on most days. (I’d also like to have finished the time-consuming re-archiving project by now, but I’m only 2/3rds done – 2006-2009 still need going over. But, hey, at least Uphill All the Way is now up all the way.)
In any case, hopefully a ghost of the old Ghost is still glimmering, and you never know what magic this bucket still has left in it — There may be life in the ole blog yet.
Either way, if you’ve been coming by for well over a decade now or just fallen down a Google hole today, thanks, as always, for stopping by.
In anticipation of the upcoming 50th anniversary special
, ten days away, Stephen Moffat offers up a lost tale of Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor
— who only appeared once
, in the 1996 Fox movie
— and the origins of John Hurt’s new ninth incarnation. Which makes Nine
(Christopher Eccleston) Ten, Ten
(David Tennant) Eleven, Eleven
(Matt Smith) Twelve, and Capaldi
a (potentially retconned
) Thirteen. In any event, giving McGann some more run is a classy and well-done bit of fan service — here’s hoping they’ve found a way to get the other living doctors involved as well.
…but when I do, there’s probably in-line skates, skateboards, Segways, or Ranger the Australian sheepdog (Berk’s neighborhood nemesis, the Joker to his Batman, snake to his mongoose, etc. etc.) involved. I put this up on Twitter/Facebook
last week, but for the GitM-inclined, here’s Berkeley
, nearing 14 this February, cultivating his Most Interesting Dog in the World cachet. Stay thirsty, my friend.
“In just a few weeks, the 12-year rule of the powerful oligarch Michael Bloomberg over this bustling city of 8 million people will come to an end. Though much of the population enjoyed relative prosperity and social stability during his years in power, critics questioned his authoritarian and increasingly eccentric leadership style.”
In its second installment, Slate’s new must-read series If It Happened There — which covers US events like our media covers other countries — chronicles the end of Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor. “Bloomberg has made no secret of his ambitions for higher office, though experts believe he has limited appeal in America’s less-developed but politically influential agricultural regions, where powerful armed groups have bristled at his suggestions for limiting their access to advanced weaponry and munitions.”
“Artist Jeff Bennett has invaded the cloying world of Thomas Kinkade with the full might of the Galactic Empire. In a series Bennett is calling Wars on Kinkade, the Painter of Light’s ethereally bland landscapes come under the iron fist of Star Wars storm troopers, Imperial Star Destroyers and Hoth-crushing AT-ATs.”
General Veers, prepare your men for a surface attack: The Empire Strikes Kinkade
He’s the hairy, hairy orc who runs amok on dwarves. Lately he’s been overheard in Orgrimmar. You better stay far back, he’ll rip your lungs out Jack. Huh, I wonder if he leveled tailor.
Aaahoo, Warlords of Draenor
, aahooo. And, yes, that song’s been in my head
since, over the past weekend, Blizzard announced the fifth and most recent Warcraft expansion
. I was in for Outland
, the Cataclysm
, and Pandaria
— I’m up for another tour.
As going around the Interweb of late, Colombian artist Dicken Schrader has formed a Depeche Mode cover band with his children Milah and Korben, where they sing about deviant romance, the world’s incurable propensity for greed, and the usual DM smorgasbord of heartbreak, depression, and regret. The kids are alright.
“‘I think that there is a great sense of frustration and a sense of injustice that the laws have not been enforced in the way most Americans think they should have been,’ said Miller, who wrote the report’s chapter on regulatory enforcement. He notes that 79% of Americans ‘think more bankers and other financial executives should have been criminally prosecuted for their role in the financial crisis.’”
A welcome new report drafted by Americans for Financial Reform and Mike Konczal and championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren makes the much-needed case for further financial reform.“Today, the four biggest banks are 30% larger than they were five years ago. And the five largest banks now hold more than half of the total banking assets in the country.”
At the moment, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 ascendancy to the Democratic nomination, and subsequently the presidency, is looking like a virtual lock. But if Clinton really wants to nip a serious 2016 primary challenge in the bud, she’d start moving to the left on these matters. I’m not holding my breath. (Striking Guy Fawkes Day “Million Mask March” pic above via the OWS Twitter feed.)
“Because there was no still photographer on the set during the filming of the last Twin Peaks episode, Richard Beymer (aka Benjamin Horne) was given permission by David Lynch to shoot some pictures on the set. The resulting ‘behind the scenes’ photos are nothing short of stunning.”
Cinephile Archive offers a smattering of rare Twin Peaks arcana. Worth a look-thru if you’re Peaks-inclined…Alas, it still doesn’t answer the real question: How’s Annie?
“12 Years a Slave is an easy landmark. It’s a rare sugarless movie about racial inequality…[A]t several points an audience is free to remember that most movies about the Civil War and slavery have been appeals to our higher, nobler selves. They’ve been appeals to white audiences by white characters talking to other white characters about the inherent injustice of oppressing black people at any moment in this planet’s history…McQueen and Ridley turn that dynamic inside out.”
In Grantland, Wesley Morris ably discourses on Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, thus far the movie of the year (and I say that as someone who didn’t think much of Hunger or Shame.) As I said on Twitter, this film should come as a free digital download with any Lee Greenwood CD (or, for that matter, any Gods and Generals DVD.) “A different movie might have taken this story and turned it into a battle between Epps and the white men who feel a duty to free Northrup…The power of McQueen’s movie is in its declaratory style: This happened. That is all, and that is everything.”
“‘It’s clear that in the name of national security, the military trumped (the Hippocratic Oath), and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice,’ said Gerald Thomson, a retired Columbia professor of medicine and coauthor of the study.”
A new report by Columbia’s Institute of Medicine examines doctors’ (continuing) complicity in our recent torture regime. “Putting on a uniform does not and should not abrogate the fundamental principles of medical professionalism…’Do no harm’ and ‘put patient interest first’ must apply to all physicians regardless of where they practice.”
“[I]f you’re like the average American, here’s a fact you don’t know: in 1953, the United States sponsored a coup in Iran, overthrowing a democratically elected government and installing a brutally repressive regime that ruled for decades. Iranians, on the other hand, are very aware of this, which helps explain why, to this day, many of them are gravely suspicious of American intentions…This is the way the brain works: you forget your sins (or never recognize them in the first place) and remember your grievances.”
In a long piece at The Atlantic, Robert Wright ponders recent arguments about the biological basis of morality. “If Greene thinks that getting people to couch their moral arguments in a highly reasonable language will make them highly reasonable, I think he’s underestimating the cleverness and ruthlessness with which our inner animals pursue natural selection’s agenda. We seem designed to twist moral discourse — whatever language it’s framed in — to selfish or tribal ends, and to remain conveniently unaware of the twisting.”
“‘The construction with the intersecting connections is based on the principal of the Möbius ring,’ explains architect Michel Schreinemachers. ‘On the other hand it refers to a Chinese knot that comes from an ancient decorative Chinese folk art,’ adds colleague John van de Water.”
In the “Cool Things We Could Build Too If We Weren’t Addicted to Austerity” Department, architects plan to build a nifty Mobius-inspired bridge near Changsha. “The pedestrian bridge is 150 metres across and 24 metres high, spanning the river via a number of different spaghetti-esque pathways at different heights.”
“‘Its long-time popularity, especially among the Irish diaspora in America and Britain, has made it a bonding agent for exiles,” adds Brian Mullen. ‘It is a way for them to recognise themselves, and others to recognise them, as a group.’”
Among them, of course, Leo O’Bannon: On its 100th anniversary, BBC surveys the enduring popularity of Danny Boy. “All the flowers are dying, and they will be for a long time, but then they’ll bloom again and Danny will still be on the road. You never know, because somewhere the pipes, the pipes will be calling.”
“Just as sure as the birds are flying high above, life ain’t worth living without the one you love.” Speaking of quality music
from Coen corners, the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis is now streaming
. Below is the song from the trailer
(and quoted above), Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford’s rendition of the 1908 traditional, Dink’s Song (Fare Thee Well)
“Americans are, like Walter White, a self-justifying sort. We see ourselves as exceptional. Often times we behave as if the rules that apply to the rest of the world, rules we want constraining them, don’t and needn’t really apply to us…Take it from The New York Times, our paper of record. Other nations forcing water into a prisoner’s lungs is torture. When we do it? Enhanced interrogation. America doesn’t torture. We’re the good guys!”
A late but welcome reassessment from Conor Friedersdorf: Breaking Bad as an analogy for post-9/11 America. “The world dealt us an unfair blow, and we used it as an excuse to break bad…We became inured to the selfishness of our actions. We slid predictably down the slope upon which we stepped, and the farther we go the uglier it gets. We haven’t hit bottom yet or anything close to it.”
. “‘Oh, it’s horrible!’ he told Vulture. ‘This is a perfect example of where it all goes wrong. That music became the blueprint for all action movies, really. And if you get too many imitations, even I get confused!’” BWOMMP
scorer and BWOMMP
creator Hans Zimmer would like to apologize for the BWOMMP
Update: “[R]eading [the Zimmer article] and seeing someone on the inside, who knows exactly how everything happened, outright lying, that bothered me. I just feel the truth on the whole process should be explained once and for all.”
And now we have a BWOMMP-troversy: Inception sound designer Mike Zarin says Zimmer is full of it regarding the origins of the BWOMMP. Having watched all three iterations of the trailer in this link, I’d argue Zack Hemsey’s “Mind Heist” really captures the first BWOMMP in all its glory.
“Understand, Frodo, I would use this Ring from the desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”
Frodo wasn’t the only one who failed
: Artist Benjamin Collison imagines a Gandalf the Black
, in thrall to the One Ring. Rather than a simple wraith, I think he’d be more of his own unique evil, a la Fritz Lang’s Galadriel
. But to each his own.