Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Reading Took A Hit This Year

A review of my Netflix activity suggests why...



Seems having a DVD player, a TV monitor, and an iMac will ruin a fella's literary intentions and pretensions. My Reading Challenge at Goodreads has not lived up to expectations (31 of 48 for 2014) while my Netflix queue has never been more expansive, eclectic, or low brow. Movies in theatrical release were mostly watched at the Picture Show in Prescott, AZ. Among my viewing treats, classics, and mistakes:

6 Souls

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Absentia (Review)

All Is Lost

American Mary *





Frankenstein's Army *

Frozen

Fury

Galaxy Quest

Game of Thrones

Godzilla

Grabbers

Guardians of the Galaxy

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

Haunter

Helix: Season 1: "Pilot" *

Hellbound?

Her (Review)

Hobbit III

Holy Mountain

House of Voices

Ice Spiders *

Iliza Shlesinger: War Paint

Interstellar

Iron Sky: Director's Cut

Jodorworsky's Dune

John Dies at the End

John Wick 


Joseph Campbell: Suhkavati

Jug Face

Kathleen Madigan: Madigan Again 


La Belle et la Bette (Review)

Lewis Black: Old Yeller: Live at the Borgata

Limitless

Lone Survivor

Lovelace

Lucy

Machete Kills

Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell *

Mama

Melanie Comarcho: Hello!

Mockingjay I

Monique Marvez: Not Skinny Not Blonde

Monster on the Campus

Morgan Murphy: Irish Goodbye

Mr. Nobody (Review)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Attack of the Giant Leeches

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Crash of Moons

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Devil Fish

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Gamera vs. Barugon

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hamlet *

Mystery Science Theater 3000: I Accuse My Parents

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Jack Frost

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Lost Continent

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Manos: The Hands of Fate

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Mitchell

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Mr. B's Lost Shorts

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Parts: The Clonus Horror

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Pod People


Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Teenage Strangler

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Teenagers from Outer Space

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Beast of Yucca Flats

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Beatniks

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Brain That Wouldn't Die

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Giant Spider Invasion

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Girl in Lovers' Lane

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Indestructible Man

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Wild Rebels 

Sin City II

Snowpiercer

Solomon Kane

Sommore: Chandelier Status

Son of Frankenstein / Ghost of Frankenstein

Splintered

Star Trek: Enterprise: Season 4: "These Are the Voyages..."

Star Trek: Season 1: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"

Tammy Pescatelli: Finding the Funny

Thale

The Amazing Transparent Man

The Artist

The Bay

The Colony

The Conqueror Worm

The Cosmic Man

The Deadly Spawn

The Dreamers

The Eternal *

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (Review)

The Gift

The Gorgon / Scream of Fear

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Homesman

The Host

The Island at the Top of the World

The Lair of the White Worm

The Land Unknown / The Deadly Mantis

The Last Days

The Last Days on Mars

The Legend of Hell House

The Lego Movie

The Machine

The Numbers Station

The Prophecy 2

The Prophecy 3: The Ascent

The Prophecy: Forsaken

The Prophecy: Uprising

The Reeds

The Wall (Review)

The Warrior's Way

The Wildest Dream

Tiny: A Story About Living Small

Trance

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil 

Twixt *

Under the Skin *

Upstream Color (Review)

Val Lewton: I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher

Val Lewton: Isle of the Dead / Bedlam

Val Lewton: The Leopard Man / The Ghost Ship

Violet & Daisy

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

We're the Millers

White Zombie

Wings *

Wings of Desire

Women Who Kill

X-Men: Days of Future Past 


Zombies of Mora Tau / The Werewolf

I also watched Seasons 1-3 of Game of Thrones (no spoilers for seasons 4-5 please!), Season Five of The Walking Dead and Archer. There were a variety of episodes of MST3K, Rifftrax , The Film Crew, and Cinematic Titanic as well.

There are worse ways to escape a rough day and the prospect of a sleepless night, but the classics are certainly collecting more dust on the bookshelf.


[Update: I'm concerned that someone might consider this a list of movies that they should see. No, not true at all. Thus, those now tagged with an asterisk may be skipped without risk.]


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Near Death Experiences: The Only Thing Missing Is "Death"

More fun from Unbelievable...


The good folks at Unbelievable from Premier Christian Radio in the UK had an interesting episode Saturday the 6th of December. The topic was Near Death Experiences (NDE). The True Believers were represented by Eben Alexander, a physician who recovered from a grievous illness with an interesting story, and Graham Nicholls, who claims to be able to have Out of Body Experiences (OBE) at will, complete with veridical accounts no less. Defending the scientific view was neuroscientist Dr. Jane Aspell, PhD, MBPsS (Dr. Steven Novella of Neurologica blog and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, was originally slated to participate but did not). Host Justin Brierly was evenhanded, even favoring the science side of things, perhaps because his evangelical outlook is cautious of non-biblical mystical experiences. These are my comments on the show sent to Justin via email and posted under the show notes:


When it comes to the Near Death Experience (NDE) the first and most important thing to remember is that they don’t involve death. The brain is not dead. It may be poorly oxygenated and operating well below normal levels, but the reason there are reports of NDEs is because the resuscitation effort was both continuous and effective. When does the brain stop perceiving stimuli and stop laying down memories? We don’t know for sure, but the brain doesn’t quit the moment we close our eyes and remain dormant until the moment we open them again. As in dreams, we have no reason to believe “reality testing” and our sense of elapsed time are accurate while in a coma. The more we learn about the limitations of eyewitness testimony the more we realize that memory is a highly mutable thing. If the ability to lay out events accurately and in their proper sequence is challenging in a waking state, imagine how the brain might conflate images, memories, wishes, and stimuli while its body fights for its life. 
Apart from 20th century quantum mumbo jumbo, the allegedly new pseudoscience of non-local consciousness is essentially a rehash of ancient theological, philosophical, and pre-scientific intuitions regarding the body, soul, spirit, life, death, the cosmos, and the nature of reality. Except for the minority of those whose NDE takes them on a visit to hell, the beatific visions frequently share some common features, but are also wildly divergent in the fine details. As with mystical religious experiences, newly minted true believers promptly cleave to their holy books and discard their former commitments to science, logic, and critical thinking. Among the first things a new pseudoscientist does (other than to write a book) is ask that long accepted standards of evidence be relaxed. There is no such thing as “materialist science,” there is only science. There is of course rigorous science and poorly done science. Most studies of NDE and OBE necessarily take the form of phenomenology - evaluating reports of subjective experience - which is not science in the way we normally think of it. Randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded studies that can be duplicated remain the Gold Standard of scientific evidence. True Believers would insist on it if it supported their case, until then they will rely on special pleading. 
Spiritualists, mind readers, and faith healers are notorious for the number of hucksters in their ranks. Then there are the credulous wishful thinkers who no longer recognize their confirmation bias. As for those who claim veridical experience, there is precious little evidence for it and none of it is good. While we can all agree that creating NDEs in the lab is unethical, those who claim the ability to have OBEs at will (like Graham Nicholls) ought to be able to prove their claims, using criteria established in advance. That hasn’t happened, even though there’s a million dollar prize on offer for anyone who could actually do it. The few names - Greyson, Parnia, Sartori, Van Lommel - repeated over and over by Alexander and Nicholls are just about all the big names in this pseudoscientific parapsychological field. Alexander touts four books (two of them his; buy them for the details), but the overlapping fields of neurology, psychology, psychiatry, cognitive science, neuro-imaging, etc. publish thousands of papers and hundreds of books each year. 
NDE and OBE effects can be duplicated by stimulation of the temporal lobes, hallucinogens, meditation, breath control, hypoxia, brain injury, certain forms of epilepsy, extreme emotion, virtual reality machinery, and other stressors. As with other mystical experiences, several of which have given rise to whole religions, there is no reason to believe these events occur anywhere but within our embodied brains.

UPDATE: Dr. Novella did debate Dr. Alexander earlier this year.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In the immortal words of John Candy in Splash "They published my letter!"  Justin read about half of my email during the comments sections the following week.


When it comes to the Near Death Experience (NDE) the first and most important thing to remember is that they don’t involve death. The brain is not dead. It may be poorly oxygenated and operating well below normal levels, but the reason there are reports of NDEs is because the resuscitation effort was both continuous and effective. When does the brain stop perceiving stimuli and stop laying down memories? We don’t know for sure, but the brain doesn’t quit the moment we close our eyes and remain dormant until the moment we open them again. As in dreams, we have no reason to believe “reality testing” and our sense of elapsed time are accurate while in a coma. The more we learn about the limitations of eyewitness testimony the more we realize that memory is a highly mutable thing. If the ability to lay out events accurately and in their proper sequence is challenging in a waking state, imagine how the brain might conflate images, memories, wishes, and stimuli while its body fights for its life.  
Apart from 20th century quantum mumbo jumbo, the allegedly new pseudoscience of non-local consciousness is essentially a rehash of ancient theological, philosophical, and pre-scientific intuitions regarding the body, soul, spirit, life, death, the cosmos, and the nature of reality.  
NDE and OBE effects can be duplicated by stimulation of the temporal lobes, hallucinogens, meditation, breath control, hypoxia, brain injury, certain forms of epilepsy, extreme emotion, virtual reality machinery, and other stressors. As with other mystical experiences, several of which have given rise to whole religions, there is no reason to believe these events occur anywhere but within our embodied brains. 

Image credit: Ascent of the Blessed by Hieronymus Bosch

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Or MST3K for those of you in a hurry...


Mystery Science Theater 3000, at once low-brow and witty, cynical and hilarious, is the main reason I first paid for cable.

"Welcome to the Satellite of Love, the orbiting home of legendary hosts Joel Robinson and Mike Nelson, along with their robotic companions: Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo and Gypsy. Join them in this cult favorite series as they embark on a journey of gut-busting riffs on the classic cinematic missteps of yesteryear." - Shout Factory MST3K page

Of the 197 television episodes broadcast from 1988 to 1999, I've seen 71 - some of the best 6,390 minutes of my life. Another 22 are in my my Netflix queue. Others pop up here and there from time to time. There are but a few episodes in which the source material was so execrable that even Gypsy, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and Joel Robinson or Mike Nelson could not keep me glued to the tube (I'm talking to you, Episode 1009 - Hamlet!)

I've caught the few episodes of The Film Crew. These days the Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax are pretty good too, though none feature the Satellite of Love.

This last Thursday I enjoyed much of the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon for the first time. I hope to never miss it again.

Have I ever forgiven Sci-Fi Channel (SyFy, puh-leeze!) for canceling MST3K? No. Will I ever? Nope, not never.

[UPDATE: Best Joel vs. Mike essay ever!]

Hey, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

Might! Not! Suck!



There's plenty of press regarding the first trailer, released a mere 13 months before Star Wars: The Force Awakens actually arrives at your favorite movie house.  

I must admit I am skeptically, reservedly, cautiously optimistic.  It' nice to feel that way about the series again.

Even if you promised yourself you'd never watch another Stars Wars movie again as long as you lived, don't miss the Lego version of the trailer.

PS, Mr. Abrams, If I see any sign of Jar Jar Binks, anywhere but an epitaph on a tombstone that is, I am going to be very, very disappointed.  Oh, and if there are any Ewoks, they better have shaved, started wearing pants, and taken to toting blasters...

UPDATED: Not everyone is so sanguine. Star Wars "Expanded Universe" nerd-dom is freaking out like Wookies in a Holiday Special.

Friday, November 21, 2014

We're Back, Pitches!

I have guilty pleasures...


And a sequel to one of them, Pitch Perfect 2, is on the way to a theater near you...us...me...whatever!

Four syllables, pitch pipers: Anna Kendrick

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mr. Nobody

Is about everybody...


This 2009 science fiction fantasy by Jaco Van Dormael and starring the exquisitely talented Jared Leto evokes Sliding Doors and It's a Wonderful Life.  It's langorous pace and revisiting of the protagonist's life choices with variables changed again and again might distract the average moviegoer, but the patient and attentive viewer will be rewarded with a film that is thoughtful, kind, wistful, and sad.  Mr. Nobody is about memories, first love, second chances, third choices, regret, and satisfaction.

"As long as you don't choose everything remains possible." - Nemo Nobody

If only that were true.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

According to IO9

These are 30 Cult Movies That Absolutely Everybody Must See...



I've seen all but one*, two are on my list of favorite films, only three are horrible, and I've seen 17 more than once. Hmm, guess that makes me a cultist.


30) Zardoz >1


29) Tremors >1

28) The Warriors

27) Lost Boys >1

26) Born in Flames queued up*


25) Sharktopus horrible


24) Tales from the Hood

23) Death Race 2000 >1

22) The Hunger >1

21) Plan 9 from Outer Space horrible, 
>1

20) Dark Star

19) Slither

18) Buckaroo Banzai
favorite, 
>1

17) Time Bandits
 
>1

16) Evil Dead 2

15) Night of the Living Dead
 
>1

14) Brother from Another Planet

13) Cherry 2000
 
>1

12) Altered States
favorite, 
>1

11) Repo Man

10) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
 
>1

9) They Live
 
>1

8) Primer

7) Naked Lunch

6) The Man Who Fell To Earth
 
>1

5) Re-Animator
 
>1

4) Big Trouble in Little China
 
>1

3) Eraserhead horrible

2) Donny Darko

1) Rocky Horror Picture Show 
>1

http://io9.com/30-cult-movies-that-absolutely-everybody-must-see-1538502596


*UPDATE: Watched Born In Flames (after a DVDNetflix Short Wait).  Not horrible.  There, I've seen the whole list...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Still Written In The Scars On My Heart

Recommended by a fellow displaced Minnesotan via Twitter...


Right from the start
You were a thief
You stole my heart
And I your willing victim
I let you see the parts of me
That weren't all that pretty
And with every touch you fixed them.

Now you've been talking in your sleep, oh, oh
Things you never say to me, oh, oh
Tell me that you've had enough
Of our love, our love.

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit's enough
Just a second, we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It's in the stars
It's been written in the scars on our hearts
We're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again.

I'm sorry I don't understand
Where all of this is coming from
I thought that we were fine.

Oh, we had everything

Your head is running wild again
My dear we still have everythin'
And it's all in your mind.

Yeah, but this is happenin'

You've been havin' real bad dreams, oh, oh
You used to lie so close to me, oh, oh

There's nothing more than empty sheets
Between our love, our love
Oh, our love, our love.

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit's enough
Just a second, we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

I never stopped
You're still written in the scars on my heart
You're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

Oh, tear ducts can rust

I'll fix it for us

We're collecting dust
But our love's enough

You're holding it in

You're pouring a drink

No nothing is as bad as it seems

We'll come clean!

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit's enough
Just a second we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It's in the stars
It's been written in the scars on our hearts
That we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again.

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit's enough
Just a second we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It's in the stars
It's been written in the scars on our hearts
That we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

Oh, we can learn to love again
Oh, we can learn to love again
Oh, oh, that we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec

Or as we say in America...


The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, is a 2010 film by Luc Besson, based upon a French comic of the same name. Starring Louise Bourgoin in the title role, Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec is set in 1911 Paris and features a lady adventurer, her unlucky twin, a fortunate dog, a pterosaur, an eccentric scientist, a posse of revitalized mummies, a smitten grad student, an evil nemesis, a clueless police detective, and a bumbling professional hunter. Yeah, it's that good. It riffs on Tin Tin, the Indiana Jones saga, and the Brendan Frazier Mummy movies, but its dialogue is more witty and its production values are stunning. Available as a NetFlix watch instantly option, the PG-rated The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is must see for anyone able to read the subtitles.





Saturday, September 20, 2014

I Read Some Blogs Too

When time permits...


Here are some interesting recent posts from my reading list.

BPS Research Digest - Blogging on the Brain and Behaviour

The 10 most controversial psychology studies ever published

NIOSH Science Blog

Accurate and Efficient Assessments of Working Posture

Mind Hacks

Problems with Bargh's Definition of Unconscious


The Aviationist

F-15 Eagle vs CF-18 Hornet vs F-16 Fighting Falcon: a Pilot’s Perspective

NeuroLogica Blog

How to Be a Science Denier

Safegrowth - Inspire Neighborhood Futures

What's Happening to our Police?

Universe Today

SpaceX Commercial Resupply Dragon Set for Sept. 21 Blastoff to Station – Watch Live

Oh Say, Can You See

That Canadians observe the bicentennial of the War of 1812 differently that we do...


CBC Radio's, Ideas, with Paul Kennedy, is one of my favorite podcasts. From time to time over the past couple years they've presented episodes examining the War of 1812. Their September 15, 2014 show, Oh Say, Can You See? is a fine piece of radio journalism. The detailed story of Francis Scott Key and the experiences that lead to his writing the poem, "Defence of Fort McHenry" which in time became our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, alone is worth your time.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight, 
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? 
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, 
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. 
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? 

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep, 
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, 
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, 
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? 
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, 
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream: 
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore 
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion, 
A home and a country should leave us no more! 
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. 
No refuge could save the hireling and slave 
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave: 
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand 
Between their loved home and the war's desolation! 
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land 
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. 
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, 
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust." 
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

Play ball!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ignore The Netflix Movie Poster

Absentia is a thoughtfully creepy horror film...



Due to mixed reviews and a three stars Netflix rating I wasn't expecting much from the 2011 horror film Absentia. I was pleasantly (or is that unpleasantly?) surprised. The acting by Courtney Bell and Katie Parker was genuine, production values were real world. The pacing was measured, slow but never plodding. The story builds patiently toward a shocking and sad resolution. What I found most compelling is that Absentia can play as a psychological thriller dealing with the unexplained loss of loved ones, or as the worst sort of horror film, in which families, relationships, and lives are shredded through no fault of their own by merciless and implacable forces against which there is no defense. Absentia is not for everyone, but serious horror fans will enjoy it.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Heart of the Matter

One of the three best songs on End of the InnocenceDon Henley's best album...


"I got the call today, I didn't wanna hear
But I knew that it would come.
An old true friend of ours was talkin' on the phone
She said you found someone.

And I thought of all the bad luck and all the struggles we went through
How I lost me and you lost you.
What are all these voices outside love's open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?

I've been learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes.
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning them again.

I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore.


These times are so uncertain, there's a yearning undefined
And people filled with rage.
We all need a little tenderness, how can love survive
In such a graceless age?

And the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
Are the very things we kill, I guess.
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work they put between us, you know it doesn't keep me warm.

I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby.
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I'd figured out, I have to learn again.

I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter
But everything changes and my friends seem to scatter.
But I think it's about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore.

There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down, you know they hurt your pride.
You better put it all behind you babe, 'cause life goes on
You keep carryin' that anger, it'll eat you up inside, baby.

I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me.

I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter
Because the flesh will get weak and the ashes will scatter
So I'm thinkin' about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me.

Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if you don't love me anymore..."

Yeah, it's been a very long weekend.

PS, The other two great songs on the album were New York Minute and The Last Worthless Evening.  Back in the day I had no idea these three songs would become part of my life's soundtrack.

Her

Is totally authentic...


And terribly sad.

Not at all the right movie for me this weekend.  No, not at all...

Update: Feeling better now.  Her is brilliant and surprisingly subtle science fiction, the sort that carries the viewer from his or her current time and place into a nearly imaginable and fully realized future.  I'm impressed by Spike Jonze' writing and directing, and even Joaquin Phoenix' nuanced and understated performance. Scarlett Johansson was adorable  heartfelt, incredible as Samantha, but who wouldn't fall in love with her, even over the phone?

See it...when you're not sad about your relationships.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tell Me a Story

An old friend asked if I'd been doing any writing...


The sky was gray, thick with threatening clouds.

“I need you to talk to our daughter,” she said.

“I’ve been seeing someone since I got here,” she said.

I'd left first. Moved to Arizona. To start over.

“It’s been a couple months now,” she said.

She left after I did. Back to California. With the dogs. To stay at her dad's. To find work. To start over. We were still working on the divorce.

“You need to tell her it’s okay, that people move on,” she said.

“I’ll tell her,” I said.

Lightning flashed, thunder crackled, only a half tick apart.

“Is he good to you?” I asked, stupidly.

“Do you mean is he interested in what I say? Does he want to do things with me? Is he funny? Does he make me laugh? If it was all over tomorrow, would it have been worth it?” she asked. “Is that what you wanted to know?” She paused. “Yeah, he’s good to me that way.”

“I deserved that,” I said.

“You didn’t have to ask,” she said.

The rain came.  The pines outside the window dissolved into a gray mist.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Safety Not Guaranteed

A pleasant surprise from Netflix...


Safety Not Guaranteed is a 2012 independent film by director Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly.  It stars Aubrey Plaza as Darius - an aimless 20-something magazine intern, and Mark Duplass as Kenneth - a small town grocery store clerk who is either a little mad or an imminent time traveler.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a clever, gentle, funny, and wistful examination of longing, regret, first times, and second chances.

Does Kenneth save Belinda? I recommend you watch Safety Not Guaranteed so you can tell me...

Friday, July 25, 2014

I Have a Commute Again

Therefore I can listen to podcasts...



When I first arrived in Prescott I lived in an apartment all of five minutes from work. My drive-time podcast listening took a major hit. Now that I have a place about 15 miles and 30 minutes from school I can get some serious listening in.

iTunes U


Humanity and Sin Dallas Theological Seminary

"A study of angelology, the doctrines of the unfallen angels, the fallen angels, and Satan; anthropology, a study of the creation of humanity, the material and immaterial aspects of humanity, and the Fall of humanity; and original and personal sin."

Evolution of Mind, Brain, and Culture Emory College

"An Overview of the Latest Discoveries in Biological, Cognitive and Cultural Studies of Evolution. Scholars of evolution gathered at Emory University for the Evolution of Brain, Mind and Culture conference on November 12-13, 2009. The talks give an overview of the latest discoveries in biological, cognitive and cultural studies of evolution. Emory's Center for Mind, Brain and Culture hosted the event. Speakers included science writer Matt Ridley, Emory primatologist Frans de Waal, Richard Passingham and noted anthropologist Joe Henrich, among others."


Witch-Hunts and Persecution La Trobe University Australia

"In this course, we will use the anthropological approach and methodology to understand witch-hunts and persecution. We start by looking at magic, witchcraft and sorcery and explaining the persistence of related beliefs and practices. As we will see the basic idea of witch persecution is that we have an image of a witch (or sorcerer) and then we pin it on someone. We analyze this image in greater detail. Pinning this image on someone is a process of accusation; we analyze among whom, why and how accusations occur. Finally, we look at some “witch-hunts”—including the Great Witch-hunt, the Salem Trials, and McCarthyism—in greater detail."

The New Psychology of Depression Oxford University

"We live in a world filled with material wealth, live longer and healthier lives, and yet anxiety, stress, unhappiness, and depression have never been more common. What are the driving forces behind these interlinked global epidemics? In this series, Professor Mark Williams (Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at Oxford University) and Dr Danny Penman discuss the recent scientific advances that have radically altered our understanding of depression and related disorders. Also discussed is the latest treatments and therapies that are offering hope to those suffering from depression. Professor Williams co-developed Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a treatment for anxiety, stress and depression that is at least as effective as drugs at preventing new episodes of depression. It's now one of the preferred treatments for depression recommended by the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The same technique, based upon an ancient form of meditation, can also help us cope more effectively with the relentless demands of our increasingly frantic world. Professor Williams and Dr Penman co-authored the bestselling book Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World."

Environmental Psychology UC Irvine

"How are people affected by overcrowding, traffic congestion, and noise? Why do people litter or vandalize their environments? How do buildings affect their occupants? Does the architectural design of apartment buildings influence patterns of neighboring and friendship formation? Why do people consume scarce environmental resources? Can residential, work, and neighborhood settings be designed to reduce stress, increase productivity, and promote physical activity? These are some of the questions that have concerned environmental psychologists. Environmental psychology is the study of human behavior and well-being in relation to the large-scale, sociophysical environment. The term, large-scale environment, refers to places such as homes, offices, neighborhoods, and whole communities. These places can be described in terms of several physical and social dimensions, including their geographical location, architectural design, membership and social organization. The term, sociophysical environment, reflects the assumption that the physical and social dimensions of places are closely intertwined. The architectural design of a housing complex, for example, can exert a subtle but substantial impact on the friendship patterns that develop among residents. This course emphasizes the interdependence between physical and social aspects of places, rather than viewing these dimensions as separate and isolated."

Podcasts

My podcast listening has remained much the same, but having access to iTunes on my new iMac has restored access to several old favorites:

Reasonable Doubts

"Reasonable Doubts takes an informative and humorous look at religion from a freethinking perspective; offering news and commentary of interest to skeptics, atheists, agnostics, humanists, courageous religious believers looking for a challenge and freethinkers of all persuasions. In addition to interviewing the top minds in skepticism (former guests include Christopher Hitchens, Susan Jacoby, Paul Kurtz, Edward Tabash, DJ Grothe) RD offers regular segments on counter-apologetics, biblical criticism, creationism intelligent design and church state issues. RD also examines the psychology of religion, reviewing recent and exciting research you won't hear about anywhere else. Tune in for a hard-hitting critique of religion balanced by plenty of humor, a fair-minded attitude and a commitment to critical thinking. Check out our website at doubtcast.org for information, episode links or to email questions, comments and challenges. Reasonable Doubts...for those who won't just take things on faith."

Quackcast

"A review of Quacks, Frauds and Charlatans. Oops. Thats not right. That should be Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine i.e. SCAM's. Winner in 2009, 2010, and 2011 of The People's Choice Podcast Awards for Best Health Podcast. A side project of Pusware LLC, home of the Infectious DIsease Compendium: A Persiflagers Guide, your uber hyperlinked guide to Infectious Disease, the Persiflagers Infectious Disease Puscast and a Gobbet o' Pus."

Hmmm! Brain food. Life is good.