Month: July 2012

What if 2001 had been released as a modern summer blockbuster?

Take a look at the comments. I think this person is on target:

I love the film and find this rehash trailer very entertaining for 3 reasons.

It’s funny because it’s so different than the nature of the real film.

It’s clever because it’s such a obvious comment on the film industry.

It’s fun to watch anyway as it is admittedly exciting.

A Must See Classic Science Fiction Movie

The Transatlantic Tunnel is in my opinion one of the most important pieces of cinematic science fiction ever made. Released in 1935 this movie not only accurately depicts the rise of television and mobile phones it does it in such a way that these devices are never even commented on in the movie. They are merely background props that add a sense of reality. The movie is chock full of these little background details. For instance the best friend of the main character is obviously a gay man but nothing other than a couple of loaded remarks even address his sexuality. There is also a scene where the same character is smoking pot and it is such a subdued mention that you can almost miss it if you don’t listen closely.

I realize I am making this movie out to be a progressive wet dream but I assure you it is far from that. This movie is about hard work and determination by engineers, entrepreneurs, and investors to create a better world while making a profit. Greedy capitalism wins out in the end and everyone is the better for it……what a concept!

The entire movie is at the link please watch it. You will not regret it.

Chris Marker, 1921-2012: influential French director of “La Jetée” – the inspiration for “12 Monkeys”

Influential French director Chris Marker has died in Paris at the age of 91.

From the article in The Guardian, by Ronald Bergan, dated July 30, 2012:

Chris Marker obituary: Experimental French director acclaimed for his post-apocalyptic film La Jetée:

The essay film, a form pitched between documentary and personal reflection, exploring the subjectivity of the cinematic perspective, has now become an accepted genre. Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet, Jean-Luc Godard, Errol Morris and Michael Moore are among its main recent exponents, but Chris Marker, who has died aged 91, was credited with inventing the form. Read the full article.

Marker is chiefly known for his film, La Jetée, which served as an inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s film, 12 Monkeys.

La Jetée is a tour de force science fiction film which deals with a post-apocalyptic world and also involves time travel. It runs about 28 minutes, and is told almost exclusively in still photographs. The dialog consists mainly of voice over narration.

I have seen La Jetée several times and I find it riveting. I have not seen 12 Monkeys but am looking forward to doing so.

Read more about Chris Marker at Wikipedia and IMDb.

You may watch La Jetée on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2


In Honor of the Olympics…I present The Year of the Sex Olympics (Video NSFW)

(note there are some scenes of female frontal nudity)

This year as most of us know the Olympics are being held in The United Kingdom. In honor of that I present a movie made for the BBC back in 1968. The Year of the Sex Olympics has very little to do with the “Sex Olympics” and everything to do with exploring a future Utopia/Distopia where citizens of a world government are placated and made apathetic by a constant stream of television designed specifically to remove any ambition to act and to relieve all tension in society. How do they carry out this feat? By constant and total immersion into a world of reality TV.

This movie is well worth watching and the entire thing is available for streaming over You Tube at the link above. Allow me to direct your attention to some aspects of the movie you may want to ponder.

1. The actors constantly avoid the use of the word “is” or “to be”. In the late 1960’s one of the ideas that had been generated out of a study of General Semantics was called E-Prime. E-prime promoted the idea that the English language should abolish all use of the verb “to-be”.  The belief was that the verb “to be” created a rational imbalance. Objects either are something or they are not and the idea of being was not needed in speech. Removing the word removes all judgement and all that remains is experience. Without judgement there can not be prejudice and people will be less likely to act on incomplete information (at least this was the theory). This is an important aspect of the movie.  People in that society are encouraged to feel and not to think. To experience vicariously through others and not to judge anything for themselves. This lack of judgement creates a lack of action and a lack of creativity.

2. When one of the characters who is an “Artist” begins to create art that has actual meaning, rather than the abstract art which he has been employed to create for the Television show “Art Sex”,  his art creates tension and makes the audience feel negative emotions. I find this particularly interesting looking at the current movement in the arts which stress abstract art in which the viewer creates the meaning and not concrete art in which the artist seeks to elicit a particular emotion in the viewer.

3. The importance placed on the idea that the viewers can be relieved of tension and negative emotion by viewing the mishaps and misfortunes of others on the TV. This idea is at the heart of this movie and it examines the idea that we feel better about ourselves when we consider the failings of others.

4. Take a good look at the chess playing machine. The characters do not play chess against the machine. It plays chess against itself. Again we see that this society favors voyeurism over action. Do not think, do not create, let the machine think for you. Let others do while you watch, Be Apathetic.

Really think about this movie and compare it with our own society. Look at how segments of the population are encouraged to not think, not act, but they are encouraged to harmlessly emote. This is an indictment of our own society where we see the beginnings of all things being derived from the charity of the state. The same state which seeks to placate the masses with bread and circuses. Do we live at the beginning of the Year of the Sex Olympics and not even realize it?

A Review of The Watch

In my opinion a review should both inform the reader about the movie and who should or should not see the movie. The Watch would be absolutely hilarious to people in their teens that find dick and fart jokes the height of humor. That sums up who should see it and what the movie is about. It is basically one long drawn out dick joke. This kind of humor can be funny and South Park utilizes this kind of sophomoric humor to actually make a few salient points about our society. The Watch fails to do that on all levels. I don’t expect more out of Ben Stiller. He has never helmed a movie I found particularly funny but I did expect Vince Vaughn to deliver. Unfortunately the movie is a vehicle for Stiller not Vaughn. While Vaughn is funny and almost makes this movie worth watching, especially his interaction with Jonah Hill. They are not given near enough screen time. Every time the movie is about to take off it switches back to Ben Stiller and the movie falls flat once again. One bright spot is newcomer to the American cinema Richard Ayoade. He manages to deliver some wonderful one liners and is a treat for anyone who watched him in the British Comedy The IT Crowd. His performance helps make an otherwise drab movie bearable.

The main problem with The Watch is that the first hour drags on unmercifully giving us insight into the personal life of Ben Stiller’s character and being utterly boring in the process. This set up would have been fine if the life of this character had been in some way remarkable or even somehow fatally flawed. He was however just a run of the mill guy with run of the mill problems in a run of the mill community doing run of the mill things. That is a great set up for a movie where an average guy is suddenly confronted with and must battle an invasion from space, if that set up is ten or fifteen minutes long. We get so much more of Ben Stiller’s character and his personal life than we get of the Alien Invasion that it becomes boring and repetitive.There is only so much Ben Stiller any one person can take (nepotism is killing Hollywood).  If the viewer can stomach the pedestrian first half of the movie then there is at least a payoff in the last 45 minutes. Once this group of neighbors begin to confront the aliens the movie becomes watchable. Overall I would suggest that if you are over the age of 22 or 23 just wait and watch this on DVD.


An Online Libertarian Comic – we must work to keep these guys in business

An Online Libertarian Comic – we must work to keep these guys in business

Comics that speak to conservative/libertarian minds are few and far between. The best of these are gathered at Big Head Press.

I haven’t been checking the online comics I usually read because last semester I was writing my Master’s thesis. When I did check up on “Escape From Terra” the flagship comic for Big head Press I noticed that they had quit producing and had a disclaimer that they could no longer afford to bring us the quality comics we expect from that site. This is a travesty. There is too little content on the internet that meet the entertainment needs of the rational conservative and libertarian movements. We need to support these guys. I am calling on all my readers to at least look at the site and if you find it in your hearts please buy one of their books.



J. Baird

The Paleo-Diet: Nature’s Most Manly Way to Lose Weight and be Healthy

I have been on The Paleo-diet for 5 weeks. I have dropped 23 lbs in that time. I feel better than I have in 20 years. I have more energy and less joint and muscle pain. I have tried other diets none have worked this well. Adkins dropped the weight faster but I never felt full. The key to the diet is simple. Eat meat( a mix of fish, red meat, pork, and chicken…. eat the fat off that steak), green veggies, and drink water. Staying away from bread, all grain products, potatoes, and don’t fry your foods.
The article linked below from Scientific American is the opinion of biologist  Rob Dunn. He believes that we have the paleo-diet all wrong and that the paleo-diet is not the diet that kept ancient humans trim and fit. While the Dunn is correct in the assertion that proto-humans were often vegetarians, he discounts or at least belittles the fact that those ancestors that survived to become human were meat eaters. He conveniently neglects to mention the evidence that early human ancestors began eating carrion and that this increase in protein allowed us to develop larger brains and differentiated us from our ape cousins leading eventually to modern man.



Let me address point by point why this article is incorrect from the point of view of an archaeologist (me)


1. Dunn’s first point is that paleolithic man often starved to death. This is patently not true. Starvation is not often associated with hunters and gatherers. In fact the few tribes that anthropologists studied while they were still hunters and gatherers, such as the Kalahari Bushmen, were often chubby. These people live in one of the most hostile desert environments on earth and can hunt and gather enough food so that they only work about three hours a day. Mass starvation never becomes a problem until people moved into farming. While paleo people did starve on occasion, it was rare. The article treats starvation as a part of the paleo-diet which is absurd. This statement alone negates the entire argument of the article. Many modern scientists use contemporary hunting and gathering tribes to try and determine the diet and activity of early man. They neglect to consider that these modern tribes live on land that the technologically more advanced agriculturalists do not want or can not use. This forces them to consist on a diet of what little vegetable and meat they can scavenge including insects. The typical hunter and gatherer twenty thousand years ago had his pick of hunting grounds. They occupied the best land with the most game and very little competition. They were able to carry on massive hunts with huge amounts of meat taken in each hunt.


2. Every dig I have ever been on that has been associated with native cultures that predate farming are also associated with massive number of animals bones….cooked bones.


3. Cooked meat is an artificial way to make meat soft like it would be if rotten. This is the reason we digest cooked meat so well because it is like the carrion we evolved to eat.


4. The article suggest we look further back into evolutionary history to find out what our distant ancestors ate. That is rubbish. Chickens are evolved from small dinosaurs like raptors but I don’t see people feeding them live rats. We have evolved and changed since we were in the trees. It is better to see what homo sapiens ate at the time of the emergence of the species rather than distant ancestors to get a sense of the natural human diet.


5. Dunn suggests that we have a digestive system which is uniquely suited to breaking down plant matter. Wow, we have a digestive system that is good for digesting plants. What a revelation. We are omnivores we also eat plants and lots of them, that is part of the paleo-diet as well.


6. Dunn says in the article that if we evolved to eat meat that, “Our bodies would have to have simultaneously have evolved to be less able to deal with more ordinary primate diets.” He goes on to say that there is no evidence we have evolved away from the traditional primate diet  and this is one of the main reasons he thinks we have not evolved to eat meat. Let me draw his attention to a little organ we call the appendix. It doesn’t work anymore because we have evolved away from eating tree bark.

7. Dunn asks someone to show him the evidence we evolved to eat meat? The fact that we have been killing or scavenging animals for meat for the past 3 million years. That our finger tips and tongue have evolved so that they can handle hot cooked foods (meat)  without getting burned as easily as other parts of our bodies. The fact we have meat digesting bacteria in our stomach that have evolved with us.The list goes on an on. We have hundreds of evolutionary traits that allow us to eat meat, where do I begin? In fact if we are so suited to eat nuts which Dunn champions over and over in the article why did Homo Sapiens develop a smaller weaker jaw. Our current jaw structure is unlike other primates in that we would break our teeth trying to break nuts.The evolution of the jaw is the direct result of humans cooking and eating soft meat and vegetables.

8. Dunn seems to believe we have evolved or adapted more since we became agriculturalists than we did for the millions of years we were hunters and gatherers. I guess that is why each and every time a hunting and gathering tribe has been introduced to an agricultural lifestyle the rate of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity sky rockets.

This is another one of those pro-vegetarian people that can’t get it through their head that the vegetarian diet is not healthy for humans. For all humans other than those of pure African descent we carry within us 3-4% Neanderthal DNA. Neanderthals were carnivores almost exclusively. We have evolved beyond the pure vegetarian diet of our distant ancestors. We as humans could not survive on a strictly vegetarian diet in the wild. The fact we can’t survive on a pure vegetarian diet without supplementing protein from non-traditional vegetable sources (provided by farming) is proof enough that this article is worthless. He asks for proof that humans evolved to eat meat… Try to survive without meat protein in the wild.

J. Baird

John Galt Is Batman

John Galt Is Batman

 This review is from my political blog Mainly Political and I thought it fit better here now that this site is up and running.

I normally refrain from doing movie reviews. There are very few movies I truly like and while I enjoyed Batman it has some editing problems that made it hard for me to watch. Most people won’t even notice these. I did however find it to be the most interesting movie on an intellectual level that I have seen in years. In fact I can safely say that the “Dark Knight Rises” is the movie “Atlas Shrugged” aspired to be.

Warning Spoilers ahead.

The movie is one very long exposé on how the Occupy Wall Street movement seeks to undermine and destroy society. Early in the movie the main villain Bane breaks into the stock exchange and causes Bruce Wayne to lose all his money. Not deterred by this Wayne works to keep his company out of the hands of Bane’s financial backers but falls into the intricate web of Ra’s al Ghul’s Daughter. It isn’t revealed until the last 30 minutes of the film that she is one of the villains but it was obvious from the beginning. Why was it obvious? First she had a Russian accent and Hollywood seems to think it is safe making Russians the perpetual villain, but second and most importantly her character constantly spouted left wing rhetoric about helping the poor and making the world a better place to live. Of course Wayne falls for this, thinking that Wayne Industries will be safe in her hands until he can rebuild his fortune. He falls right into the trap.
A secondary plot is the Selina Kyle/Cat Woman story. Bruce is easily able to track her back to her lair after she has stolen his  deceased mother’s necklace and he confronts her in her home. Here she goes off on a long tirade about how the rich steal from everyone and she is taking back what she deserves. She also tells Bruce that the end is near for Capitalists like him and that a storm is coming that will wash them all away and there is nothing he can do…

The Storm does come, in the form of Bane using Wayne Enterprise technology to build a nuclear bomb with which he holds the city hostage. The bomb along with all of Batman’s neat war toys (that have been hidden in Wayne Industries all this time) effectively nullify the government of the city and the federal government. By this point in the movie Bane has broken Batman’s back and left him to rot in a prison. Bane has told Bruce/Batman that his goal was not to kill him but to break both his body and his spirit. Here Bruce Wayne, outside of the Batman persona, shows that he is not just a rich playboy but that he can overcome through hard work any set back. While Gotham city falls into chaos, and Bane and his henchmen murder the “1%” after mock trials, Bruce Wayne works to rebuild his body and soul. He builds and creates where Bane can only break things down.The metaphor is laid on thick so even the dullest will recognize it.

Bane and his people who are obviously the Occupy Wall Street crowd do occupy the city. Bane gives speech after speech about how the rich and powerful have stolen from the poor and how he is giving back to the people what has been stolen. He could have almost been holding a red flag with a hammer and sickle or parroting one of Obama’s anti-capitalist rants.  While the occupiers are looting the city we get a glimpse of the Gotham apocalypse through the eyes of Selina Kyle. She and her hench-woman enter a home. Her side kick is thrilled to be looting but Selina sees what is really happening. They have destroyed what was once beautiful. People had made a life in this home and those who had done nothing to build, but only to destroy, had torn down that life. Selina Kyle had a spiritual awakening in that moment. She no longer wanted to be one of the destroyers of society. She no longer wanted to be a parasite like the throngs who gleefully looted the homes of both the wealth and the middle class. She had transformed from villain to hero.

I will refrain from commenting on any more of the movie and there are quite a few more surprising conservative moments. Overall this was one of the most conservative films I have ever seen out of Hollywood. It highlighted the idea of individual action over government interference. Only the individual doing hard work can overcome adversity. No amount of government interference will help. In fact the government acts only as a menace to the innocent in this movie. It was cathartic to go to a movie and not see one more worthless environmental or social message that is designed to make you fell guilty about being alive. This movie made you realize in the words of Bruce Wayne….”Anybody can be the Batman.”

PS….To answer a criticism about this article from the fans of Atlas Shrugged. I am not making a direct comparison of John Galt and Batman the title is meant to express my belief that the “Dark Knight Rises” accomplishes what the “Atlas Shrugged” movie attempted.

J Baird

Scientists create a solid material six times lighter than air…and all they can think about using it for is batteries?

Scientists create a solid material six times lighter than air…and all they can think about using it for is batteries?–new-lighter-than-air-material-may-be-holy-grail-for-batteries

Ok it is nice that this material could make lighter more powerful batteries but did these guys consider the real possibilities of this material? Obviously not.

I want to bring to your attention a Roleplaying game from the late 1980’s called Space 1889. This was one of the first forays into the Steampunk genre and it included a substance called liftwood which could only be found growing on Mars. Liftwood was different from this material because it had an anti-gravitational property but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used in similar ways.Here are five ways that this material could be used to make life easier and quite a bit more fun.

1. The material is lighter than air and solid……Why not build Sky Ships.

These ships would be made almost entirely out of the new material and be balanced to stay upright. They will need a way to stay aloft because condensing this material increases the weight above that of air but the weight savings for air vehicles using this compared to traditional building materials would be massive. You could sail the oceans of the air with actual sails kept aloft by something as simple as a lawn mower engine driven propeller. Finally I get my flying car.

2. Lighter than air cloth. All those scifi and fantasy stories where characters wore clothing that seemed to float about them or flow from them can be realized with this material. The cosplay aspects of this alone are endless.

3. Balls of this material could be used as packing peanuts. Is that package you are sending across the country costing an arm and a leg to send. Instead of Styrofoam, stuff it full of peanuts made from this material and the package will almost deliver itself. The post office accounting section is going to hate this stuff but the postal carriers are going to love it.

4. Perfectly weighted signs made of this stuff and containing helium will replace balloon advertising. In fact balloons will seem old fashioned and archaic. Anything that a balloon was used for will be accomplished more efficiently with this material but it will be able to be made into any shape you want. Balloons made to resemble dragons or spaceships but instead of being limited to the the roundness of balloons they will have aerodynamic lines. Forget traditional weather balloons when you can use this stuff.

5. The military applications are almost unlimited. I would be surprised if some smart guy at the pentagon isn’t already all over this stuff. Floating spy drones are just the beginning of the military applications. Suddenly the Shield Helicarrier isn’t as stupid an idea as it seems.


Asteroid Mining…Invest now!!!

Asteroid Mining…Invest now!!!


You may think this is a pie in the sky plan…literally. I think however that this is the future. It is just a matter of time before this becomes profitable with unmanned drones and robots. When that happens pennies will rain from heaven. OK enough with the puns. Asteroid mining will be one of the biggest industry around in 100 years. If you want your children and grandchildren to be part of the .001% then you better invest now. I will be.