Monthly Archives: January 2010
by Irma Arkus
Do you know what is the largest civilization on Earth?
First, let me first assure you, it is not human, but rather a recently discovered ant colony.
What was touted as a first confirmed “supercolony” were related ants living in colonies that spanned miles across North and South America, Europe and even parts of Asia. Scientists determined that the ants are part of a larger body because they “recognized” members from different colonies as relatives, rather than engage in war-like response reserved for those who were considered other.
But now, the scientists say that it is not only nickel particles that once assembled start to behave like a rather predatory organism. The supercolonies too behave in these patterns, resembling a living biological organism.
When conducting an analysis of some 168 species of ants at University of Florida, it has been found that while members maintain a certain “individuality” as a collective group, a colony, they tend to organize themselves in such a way to suggest a “superorganism.”
What is a super-organism anyways?
Well, according to the researchers, these superorganisms very much correspond to life, development and behaviour of an individual. Essentially, if one is to undestand the actions of colonies that have captured our imagination for millenia, then perhaps undestanding them as a singular is the key (and this is where I fondly harken back to Greg Bear’s “Slant”)
Once more, the research applies to not only ants, but bees, termites, and wasps. The findings will be offering a new, fresh perspective on how societies evolve and develop, perhaps most importantly, giving us new tools to learn about humans, or…that superhuman organism? ([ufl]
It is obvious that 3D technology has captured the imaginations of many theatre viewers. But recent announcements indicate that the success of Avatar in 3D is about to quickly translate to numerous productions offering their films in the three-dimensional format.
From the ticket sales viewpoint, selling $15 dollar tickets instead of $12 tickets may be enough of a differential to gain an edge in the market and introduce something novel to the audiences.
Avatar’s ticket-box success also translates to lower, or inconsequential rates of piracy, as most flock to see Avatar in 3D rather than in conventional 2D mode.
But latest announcements, such as the recent question on IMDB “Right at this moment, Warner Bros. is considering whether to release the upcoming Clash of the Titans remake in 3D; do you think they should do so?” implies that many films are not offering the same kind of experience that James Cameron has provided for his fans.
Or for that matter, what does releasing a film in 3D mean anyways?
For one, Cameron invested in CG that would make the use of the technology highly sophisticated and realistic, resulting in some remarkable after-effects, including recently reported creation of false memories, and in some cases even depression on the part of the viewers who suffer after the realization that the world of Pandora is but a fantasy.
In a thorough examination of Avatar’s production, Cameron admits to millions of dollars spent in preparation specifically for this
unique, and novel format.
In an interview with Popular Mechanics, for example, Cameron admits to delaying the release of the film, awaiting for more theaters to install 3D equipment. Moreover, Vince Pace and James Cameron experimented with 3D relatively recently when capturing “Ghosts of Abyss” in 2003, and their experimentation with the format led to a creation of a specialty High-Definition 3D camera system, that allowed for multiple cameras to be fused 2 1/2″ apart in order to create an image that would be captured by our two eyes.
The very definition of a 3D movie is “a motion picture that provides the illusion of depth perception. Derived from stereoscopic photography, a special motion picture camera is used to record the images as seen from two perspectives” [wikipedia: 3D films].
In Avatar’s case, the 2D releases of the film would simply eliminate the second “eye,” but that begs the question: are all films shot in 3D technology and we simply never get to see them?
“We all knew that James Cameron, is a Canadian, and a total jerk, threatening the film industry,” explains a concerned 36-year old executive, James Smith. What Smith is referring to is the latest concern of major film studios: “Theaters play all kinds of films. The Tooth Fairy, Legion, Extraordinary Measures, Alving and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and my favorite, The Book of Eli, a film about a supernatural bible that kicks the asses of all unbelievers. But all people wanna watch is Avatar!”
The treatment of these mediocre productions by the public, executives say, is unfair. And they see Cameron as a major threat to the film industry overall.
“We thought we had an agreement,” says Roger Browne, a major film investor. “We made concerted efforts to make Avatar dumb, and resemble Dancing with the Wolves as much as possible. But the public is just eating it up.”
The executives and the investors agree that Cameron’s Avatar is something that should never happen again, as it represents a security threat to the entire film industry. Rumours are, the film industry has gone as far as Pentagon to ask for assistance: “We are talking with some very important and powerful people. More powerful than Spielberg.”
According to the US-based Argonne National Laboratories, these self-assembled magnetic “snakes” very much emulate biological life, and do follow Markovnikov’s rule:
“Nickel particles float peacefully in a liquid medium until a giant snake seems to swim by and snatch several particles up, adding to its own mass. The self-assembled “snakes” act like biological systems, but they are not alive and are driven by a magnetic field. The research may someday offer some insight into the organization of life itself.”
by Irma Arkus
Every once in a while, television and the Internets conspire in an unholy alliance to produce something so vile that it can only be called irresponsible. I present to you Martha Stewart “pole dancing” video.
Yes, what is itching your lobes is tucked expertly between Yarn Cards and How to Choose a Lamp Shade. If we weren’t into horror, it would have stayed there, but every once in a while, I need to feel a few chills too.
Here comes brrrrr.
Fox is officially the bane of my existence. Not only is Fox responsible for mowing down some of most fan-beloved shows, but its eagerness to remake everything into a watered-down version of its former self is starting to eat at my soul. I present to you the latest attempt to murder us in our stupor while sitting in front of the screens: remaking Torchwood.
I am not saying that it’s a bad idea. In fact, I can see Torchwood in an international setting – a sort of US arm of the specialty unit dealing with all alien threats. But I do ponder at why?
If you are not familiar with Torchwood, a Russell T. Davies show that sprung as a companion piece to Doctor Who, then let me do the introduction. Meet Captain Jack Harkness, an immortal man who wears a coat two sizes larger, and flashes a smile that will seduce every living thing, is in charge of Torchwood, a unit that combats all those dangers that aliens present, while the Doctor is away.
The unit is lovable, sexy, and more than mildly steamy. It’s like X-Files meets Saved by The Bell, but one in which everyone is doing it with everyone else.
In other words, it’s genious fun for grown-ups. And I do mean the kind that US television has failed to produce for decades.
So, my question is: why? Do they really think that the grave injury represented by unruly and flop hems around Jack’s ankles would be a forgivable sin if worn by anyone else?
Do you really see another Jack? Do you see too many gay romances? Do you see? Do you see? I don’t. Naaah. [The Hollywood Reporter]
by Irma Arkus
Of all the machiavellian moves to engage in censorship and control over Internet traffic, none is more insidious than the proposed ACTA, an international treaty designed as a draconian move to protect the interests of corporate copyright holders.
Thus far, most of ACTA has been deemed illegal – disconnecting users based on a detection of certain traffic suspected of copyright infringement does not translate into a solid proof of such infringement- and that is only the tip of an iceberg that is ACTA.
Either way, ACTA is a purely American invention, designed to provide optimal protection for corporations struggling to survive in a data-rich era.
The idea of course, is to create not only an environment in which Internet users are keenly aware of not only the legality of their own actions, but are exposed to continuous loss of any anonymity and sense of privacy.
The video enclosed is provided by Google DC talks, and it contains some very valuable insights, running at whopping 1 hour and 24 minutes.
One of the disturbing aspects of ACTA is that it is also designed to be kept a secret – as in, in order to protect corporations, the protections themselves will be kept out of the public sphere.
This stratagem of a legalistic maneuver is explained by the corporate sluts below:
First “real” look at the A-Team film remake.
This week’s True Blood announced the added casting of Kevin Alejandro, a familiar face to viewers of Ugly Betty, Southland, and the now defunct Drive.
Alejandro will be joining the show but he will be playing an unusual addition to an already exciting storyline. Alejandro will play none other than Lafayette’s love interest, a move that will potentially change the face of homosexuality and solidify presence of homoerotica in North American media.
You see, Lafayette is unlike other gay characters which have graced the television screens of North American audiences.
Past shows featuring prominent gay characters, such as the long-running sit-com “Will & Grace,” tended to play into LGBT stereotypes, providing a way for the audiences to accept and connect with homosexuality through familiar, albeit often homophobic concepts.
Clip below showcases Will and Jack, who are an example of two male gay characters who display not only amazing interior design abilities, but also practice law and acting, two relatively soft, white-collar professions. They also braid each other’s hair!
But Lafayette’s presence is one that does not follow this familiar pattern in terms of behaviour, instead showcasing a much different, more complete personae, rather than the carboard(ish) stereotypes easily found in popular shows from “Sex in the City” and “Ugly Betty” to “The Office.”
They tend to be feminized to an extent that they serve as best friends of female protagonists who seek their council on everything from what to wear, to how to manage their lives and relationships. We almost never see their background stories, or see them in actual relationships, something that many LGBT communities actively complained about in the past.
Wonderfully depicted by Nelsan Ellis, Lafayette is unlike those characters. In some ways he is an embodiment of discriminatory patterns. He is a gay, black man, residing in a relatively stagnant, small town of southern Bon Temps.
But that is where the distinguishing qualities of Lafayett are showcased. Though flamboyant in his attire, he is also an individual aware of his strengths and abilities, as well as his physical capacity.
A mover and a shaker, Lafayette is a rare fish in a small pond, and he often supplements his income by engaging in variety of legal and illegal schemes. Highly intelligent, provocatively well spoken, and a natural charmer, he wheels and deals to the best of his ability. He mostly trades in drugs, in particular V, named to represent actual vampire-blood used by inhabitants of True Blood universe as a hallucinogenic and a short-term metamorphic substance; but he also engages in potential prostitution, and runs operations such as various internet businesses, including one in which he allows online viewers to pay for dancing in his own living room.
His main source of income though, is a string of low-skilled, low-paid jobs, and that includes being a line cook at Merlot’s, and occasional work in construction. This separates Lafayette from the usual glamour paved over the streets of New York or other major metropolitan cities, and instead allows us to identify him as part of lower-class, working America.
What Ellis brings to the show is an undeniable physicality to the character of Lafayette. Lafayette is keenly aware that he is an exceedingly attractive male, a quality that he takes full advantage of – after all, he wears a lot of makeup and even satin turbans that in any other setting than the kitchen would allow us to tap into Dior or Haute Couture – but he is also aware of his physical, masculine strength, and he seems very much prepared to use it to defend himself or his principles, displaying a kind of savage nobility that usually falls to heterogenous male protagonists.
Watch what happens when Lafayette’s cooking is rejected with a hefty dose of homophobic remarks:
While the discussion on whether Lafayette is confronting in this scene just another set of stereotypes, in this case, a group of three, lower class, unnecessarily patriotic men in fatigues, who also display a great deal of cowardice despite their outspokenness and initial impetus for aggression, Lafayette does succeed in aggressively confronting them, physically defending and proving his masculine superiority.
Thus, Lafayette represents not the kind of gay man who engages in traditionally feminine roles, which would allow the patriarchal, heterosexual audiences to easily dismiss him. Instead, he presents us with a homosexual character who explicitly showcases his masculine strengths.
Lafayette can very much be understood to be a new type of gay character in American media, one that departs from the acceptable stereotypes, and physically threatens the established status quo.
Lafayette’s character is also very much beloved by female and male audiences. While thus far Lafayette has been clearly depicted as a strong homosexual protagonist, the lack of any romantic involvement on his part has also somewhat slightly diminished his open display of homosexuality. In other words, he has been merely a supporting character that most noted as lively, and interesting, but one that still does not display his sexuality in an fully open fashion.
Now, however, with the announcement of Alejandro joining the cast as the Lafayette’s romantic interest, audiences would be given a chance to consume a relatively new type of gay romance, with undeniably homoerotic tendencies.
This very much invites the question of whether True Blood is acting as an introduction, or gives rise to, a type of “yaoi,” a popular sub-genre of manga comic books predominantly consumed by women in Japan.
Yaoi has thus far largely been ignored by the North American consumers, but the general excitement over Lafayette amongst the female audiences is undeniable, as is the excitement over what is to come in the upcoming season of the show.
Perhaps True Blood will pave the way for more than unexpected characters, but open us to a wider, cultural acceptance as well as the unlikely consumption of homoerotica on a much bigger scale.