Sunday, September 14, 2014

movie notes : mirror movies

Ever notice how sometimes vaguely similar movies are released within a short time of one another? I suppose the idea is to piggyback on the publicity of the other movie.

Some examples (not an exhaustive list) :
Abyss (1989) vs Leviathan (1989) vs Deepstar Six (1989)
1492 (1992) vs Christopher Columbus : The Discovery (1992)
Volcano (1997) vs Dante's Peak (1997)
Antz (1998) vs A Bug's Life (1998)
Armageddon (1999) vs Deep Impact (1999)
Mission to Mars (2000) vs The Red Planet (2000)
White House Down (2013) vs Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

for your consideration :
Prometheus (2012) vs Small Apartments (2012)

comparing the Engineer from Prometheus to Matt Lucas' character Franklin Franklin in Small Apartments
Prometheus vs Small Apartments - So far my list of  similarities includes that they both have a pale, hairless character who is a "big fella" and runs around nearly naked(the skintight underoos of the Engineer in Prometheus and the white underpants of Franklin Franklin played by Matt Lucas in Small Apartments)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hecho en EUA

recently seen on a popsicle (freezer pops or whatever the correct terminology is) :

Sqwincher Sqweeze packaging (front and back)

Sqwincher Sqweeze packaging detail

"Hecho en EUA" is Spanish for "Made in the USA." (EUA = Estados Unidos de America.) Nowhere on the packaging does it say made in the USA or give the address in English.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

how sponge-like can a sponge be?

Using Fluorescent Dye To Show How Sponges Filter Feed (video at link)

at 1:40 :
"These ghostly exhalations are proof that the sponge is actively pumping. With no mouth it sucks water directly through its spongelike body walls which are shot through with millions of narrow canals and tiny chambers"
Were some viewers were expecting it to giraffe-like? I would have assumed that a sponge would be about as spongelike as anything is possible to be.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A defense of the United Nations

The United Nations UNinvolved In Africa

(This is a somewhat long, somewhat ranty, counterpoint to Bingbing's post mostly written around 2010.)

The UN can't change.  If the UN didn't exist then someone would invent it. Or they would have continued the League of Nations. Or invented a new version with a name like "The Legion of Places Where People Live" or "The Guild of Unicorns and Good Intentions." As a meeting place (and to a much lesser degree a debate hall) the UN has value. This is not to say the UN should be respected or even listened to.

 The UN, like the League of Nations before it, is inherently broken.

 The United Nations was founded upon corruption and the debasement of principles. In order to get the USSR to join, the Soviets were given 3 votes in the UN General Assembly : one for the USSR and one each for the Ukraine & Belarus (at the time, both were component parts of the USSR). The USSR had asked for 15 votes and after carefully pouring gasoline on their principles and burning them the world's diplomats stepped over the ashes and negotiated the Soviets down to 3 votes. It was a victory for the diplomacy of low expectations but a defeat for numeracy.

 n.b. the USSR had been kicked out of the League of Nations December 14, 1939 because of its invasion of Finland – the invasion started Nov 30, 1939; bureaucracy moves more slowly than tanks. But the vision of the UN as a meeting place of all nations would be a joke if it lacked one of the largest countries in the world so despite its previous behavior the USSR was invited to join. The penalty for invading Finland? Roughly, a 5 year, 11 month timeout and they could keep the Finnish territory seized during the invasion. However, consider that the League of Nations itself suspended its operations on the same day and did not restart until after WW2 and then only to transfer authority to the UN. The Russians must have been teary eyed when they were informed they wouldn't be allowed to attend any League meetings and, by the way, that the League won't be having any meetings for about 5 years and 11 months.

 One great thing about the UN is that a UN member who is a disinterested third party can take a fresh look at an issue and make a decision in dispassionate way.

 Of course, this also allows the uninvolved third party to ask "What's in it for me?" Like China did in 1997 when, after over 30 years of war, both sides of the Guatemalan Civil War agreed to make peace but the Chinese vetoed the UN resolution to end the civil war. Why? Because Guatemala received foreign aid from Taiwan and in return Guatemala supported the idea of recognizing Taiwan in the UN. (Wait, Taiwan was bribing countries in the UN to gain support? Yup.)

 Taiwan and mainland China have been distinct entities since 1949. Until 1971, the UN recognized Taiwan as China but pretended mainland China didn't exist. In 1971 the UN General Assembly voted to replace the Republic of China with communist China. (Now isn't that a potentially seismic precedent) Obviously, the UN can't have two Chinas. It is almost impossible to imagine what it would be like if the UN had two Germanies or two Koreas or two Congos. If they didn't somehow differentiate between the names of the two then there would be mass confusion on the floor of the UN. It would be Abbott and Costello level chaos.

 The UN knows that people can't just declare themselves to be a country. Actually, it turns out that the Republic of Macedonia can declare itself independent from Yugoslavia and quickly be recognized by the UN. I'm hoping the Free and Independent Republic of Milquetoastistan's admission to the UN will be approved as quickly.

 How unprincipled is the UN? Yasser Arafat's PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) was given observer status Nov 22, 1974 only days after a PLO group had committed murder and the PLO continued to murder people.

 One country, one vote (except for the USSR's 3 votes). Not exactly democracy is it? Tuvalu with 10,000 people has a UN vote equal to India's 1.1 billion people. Most of China's 1.3 billion people aren't represented by the controlling Communist Party of China and therefore they aren't represented in the UN either. The 23 million Taiwanese aren't represented either. The Western Sahara and the Gaza Strip are also not members of the UN.

 How representative is the UN?
  • Out of 192 UN member nations 101 members have smaller populations than New York City.
  • The 34 smallest UN member nations' populations combined are still smaller than New York City's population.
  • Of 192 members, the 160 smallest UN members combined have a population nearly equal to China — the largest member.
  • Six UN members states together have a majority (50.4%) of the world's population (China, India, US, Indonesia, Brazil & Pakistan)
  • The five economically largest members by GDP make up 52% of the world's economy (US, Japan, China, Germany, & France). The top 10 countries makes 67%. The top 20 countries makes 81.5%.
  • With a world population of 6.8 billion, there is an average of one UN representative for every 35,416,666 people. Not that a UN representative cares what regular people think. That's not their job.
104 of 192 UN members have a Freedom House ranking of Not Free or only Partly Free. A full 46 UN members (2.3 billion people) are on the Not Free list. 1.3 billion people are on the Partly Free list. 88 are listed as free but in the UN, the Sudan's vote is equal to Norway's.

The obvious question is why are they voting on anything?  Each country can (and does) make treaties or form organizations with any other. For example, the Universal Postal Union was founded in 1874 with 22 members. Why concentrate power with the UN?  To lend credibility to crap and to leech credibility from the good.

An open ended organization of all nations will always have various people/governments/agencies vying for power, control and anyway to manipulate the organization to their interests. If the UN were considered competent and could actually do something about the Sudan then imagine the mad rush there would be to twist that power into a mechanism of control. Everyone would try to invade Belgium at once.

By putting Cuba, Libya and China on a Human Rights Council the UN is willing to prove its level of corruption despite the UN's usual problems with conventional transparency. 

I'd prefer the UN exist in its natural, incompetent and self-neutering state as meeting place, a pointless debate factory and for it to be recognized by everyone for the cesspool that it is. Basically the same as it is now but with less wasted money, less child rapeless rape in general and fewer UN peacekeepers trying to score with goats.

New, more accurate, United Nations Logo (The United Nations always doing something without doing anything)
The UN's motto

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Outburst of Beethoven

via David Thompson

I think this is marvelous.

notice at 3:50 the blue shirted French horn player who, unlike his fellow French horners, is not playing his instrument. It is very possible he had a reason but it seems like instruments are played in unison so I think he might have gotten caught on camera loafing.

one of these things is not like the others

notice at 5:21 I obsessively watched this looking for the cameramen once I realized that there were multiple views but I hadn't noticed the cameramen. There are a couple cameramen. One in dark clothing in the upper left and another in a white shirt going across the front of the crowd. I think a third one is in a white shirt next to the building  Editing away the cameramen makes the people's reactions seem more authentic despite the reality that there were guys with big camera pointing them at people's faces.

I'm not sure if this was edited in a linear way. the white shirt cameraman running in front of the crowd at 5:21 can also be seen running in front of the same crowd at 5:16. Did he do it twice or did they use the footage of the same event twice?

Also notice the little girl at 1:01 who sits next to a boy and she seems to be trying to mimic his way of sitting. And there is the little conductor at 3:35.

Update June, 6, 2014
Hmmmm, at the woman with dangling earrings is watching and then at the next scene at 2:14 she teleports so she is talking to a guy with a newspaper.

Likewise, at 2:30 the sunglasses guy is seen in the crowd behind the bassist and at 2:33 (the next scene) he teleports to the cafe area.

Monday, May 12, 2014

satyr tripod

"A tripod with ithyphallic Pans; the sinuous and virile Pans balance a basin upon their heads as they gesture caution. This object was very influential and was used as a model by many neoclassical designers." from the book The Lost World of Pompeii (2002)

ithyphallic : the prefix ithy- means straight or erect

Perhaps the designer wanted to give people who approach the basin plenty of hooks for them to hang their purses or whatever while they wash their hands.

The elongation of the satyr's legs is a distotrtion that seems to work probably because they aren't human.

Temptation of Saint Anthony by Salvador Dali (1946)