Monthly Archives: July 2008

HiSciFi – Aaron Golden (or is it Adam Goldman?) and Without Light

This week Irma and Greg get to sit with Adam Gold, writer of Greg Milne’s upcoming feature film Without Light. We start off well, but quickly descend into feelings of elated success, promote the film shamelessly and giggle a lot.

That and news. Hold on to your seats. Time for HiSciFi

Check out Without Light HERE
Or just outright buy it and support our Greg Milne, indie filmmaker, savant and radio personality – to get a copy click HERE

Music provided by James Reyna aka melodywhore – Reyna is the composer for Without Light and you can find more of Melody Whore HERE

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HiSciFi – Aaron Golden (or is it Adam Goldman?) and Without Light

Joss Whedon’s *Dollhouse*

by Irma Arkus

Dollhouse is the latest Whedon creation, and a highly anticipated show by millions of fans who have been left on hold for the last few years. After the wrap-up of Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Serenity, the only thing left with Whedon’s hands in it was Buffy comic book, and a failed screenplay for Wonderwoman. Now he’s back with Dollhouse.

Starring Eliza Dushku, the series is centered on lives of subjects who are reprogrammed to assume identities and functions required for variety of missions. There is a great deal of confusion in whether these are artificial beings, or just people who have had some cybernetic work “done.” In fact, the shadowy origins of the characters make up a great deal of the plotline itself, as the subjects slowly gain self-awareness through the process.

Dushku is the primary focus of the program, stretching her acting abilities to full extent. She is the wanton hotbod, a la Alias, who is to delight us, a la Quantum Leap, or even better yet, Pretender.

Whedon’s Dollhouse is a dip into Blade Runner, an homage to a predicted new world order. Just like Whedon, JJ Abrams’ Fringe, deals with aftermaths of privatized science experiments kept behind the corporate curtains.

Interestingly enough, the comparisons flying between JJ Abrams’ “Fringe,” and that of Whedon’s “Dollhouse” have been mostly dismissed by insiders, as well as themselves, as JJ Abrams explained that he too, is but a Whedon fan.

Another pertinent question is Fox. Rupert Murdoch network known for its tug-and-pull history with Whedon, may be the most curiuos choice for Whedon’s next project. Let’s face it, we’ve all been anticipated for Whedon to be adopted by a different, perhaps more interesting network. After all, as we speak, protests are lining up in front of Fox News network, with accusations of racism. Buffy + racism = odd choice.

Yet, Whedon assures us that this is all working out, somehow. He recently confirmed that yes, Fox is a curious home full of crazy people, but the people are different then the ones he dealt with before.

This also may provide an explanation for the current remarkable efforts by Whedon, to promote the show. It seems that, unlike in the past, this time around Whedon isn’t leaving anything to chance, having a far greater involvement with marketing of the show.

Whedon’s plan is to use the power of the net – not only is he to release the pilot, but will create a series of approximately 12 (number to be confirmed) prequel episodes to be widely distributed online.

Meanwhile, Whedon’s side project, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” an online-musical featuring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion is striking all the right chords by reintroducing Whedon to both old and new audiences. Harris, a beloved youth icon, and a great comedic talent, plays an incompetent, yet likeable villain. Fillion, on the other hand is Captain Hammer, a dreamy, yet mildly annoying superhero.

I was always of the opinion that “the more Whedon the better,” and thus far my wish is coming along.

For Dollhouse trailer see HERE

Paper -Based Transistors

by Irma Arkus

Now that Codex Sinaiticus has proven that religious scribbles are good for one thing, and one thing only – recycling – we also got this amazing report via Slashdot, of (wait for it!) paper-based transistors!

In essence, the Portugese researchers use paper as an interstrate layer, instead of commonly used silicone or glass substrate.

The technology is so successful that tests indicate “hybrid FETs’ performance outpace those of amorphous silicon TFTs, and rival with the actual state of the art of oxide thin film transistors.”

The research was conducted at CENIMAT and led by Elvira Maria Fortunato and Rodrigo Martins.

For more information, visit Roland Piquepaille’s blog.

Codex Sinaiticus Released

by Irma Arkus

The fourth century bible written between year 300 – 350, and the oldest known example of Christian scriptures in Greek, will be available for public viewing as the British Library is to make the valuable pages widely available online.

The bible contains scriptures omitted from the KJ version, including Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. Additionally, scans show that the text has been heavily amended over centuries.

The version of the Book of Psalms and the Gospel of Mark will be available as of July 24th, with subsequent release of the remainder.

The effort to release the text into public domain view is an initiative to make the text internationally available to scholars. Until now, the Codex was only available for viewing to select clerics.

One interesting fact about Codex Sinaiticus is that one of Christian cornerstone beliefs, the story of resurrection of Jesus is not mentioned. Instead, the story simply describes disciples finding an empty burial tomb, and leaving in fear. This implies that the “resurrection” was addended by later generations of followers.

View the Codex Sinaiticus HERE.

Witchblade, The Movie

by Irma Arkus

The comic books-to-movie are currently the latest trend in “sound financial planning” by film studios.

Now, of course, they will do something horrible and produce so much material that we’ll start hating the uber-powerful and damn handsome superheroes that used to reside on paper, only to resemble insanely rich and annoying celebrities (*btw I am sick of hearing about Vanessa Huydgens or whatever her name is…she is a teen who took her clothes off?! Why am I surrounded by stupid quotes from stupid people.)

For now, however, we are all still salivating at the thought of 2+ hours of heartwrenching thrills with some of our favorite heroes catapulted onto silver screen. The latest and greatest announcement is that Witchblade is to be made into a movie.

Michael Rymer is named as the director who will helm the project and bring his vision of turning one of my favorite characters into flesh and bone.

Rymer is well-equipped to deal with Witchblade, as a director of oh-so-pretty-yet-pretty-irrelevant Perfume (2001), Queen of the Damned (2002) – which happens to be an unforgivable creation – and many Battlestar Galactica episodes, including BSG: Razor (2007).

His track record may not be stellar, but is promising enough for Witchblade to shine again.

The script is penned by Australia’s Everett De Roche, who has more than shown his brilliant side when writing Cybergirl and Parallax.

All that is of course, nice and dandy, however, Witchblade drama does not stop at Detective Sara “Pez” Pezzini and her getting acquainted with the greatest weapon in existance. The plot in comics has thickened over the last few years. For one, we have a few Witchblade wearers, and then there are Spears of Destiny and all that jazz…so, I guess the most interesting part of seeing Witchblade produced for live action film will be to see what part of the myth of Witchblade will De Roche choose as his focal point.

More to come…

I am Batman

by Irma Arkus

E. Paul Zehr, a movement researcher, estimated the qualifications of Batman, and stated in his Q&A session on Scientific American, that you too can be Batman…in merely 10 to 15 years time.

Since Batman does not wield any real super powers, rather only years of martial arts training honed by incessant practice, Zehr suggests “decathlon” as a primary training ground for future Batmans: “most of what you see there is feasible to the extent that somebody could be trained to that extreme. We’re seeing that kind of thing in less than a month in the Olympics.” Zehr has a point. We’re slobs who “watch” sports, not “do” sports.

In Zehr’s opinion, Bruce Wayne’s physical qualities can be summarized as following:
“Bruce Wayne started off at about six-foot-two and 185 pounds. I gave him a body fat of 20 percent (slightly below average) and a body mass index of 26. Let’s say after 10 or 15 years, after he’s become the Batman, he’s weighing about 210 pounds and has a body fat of 10 percent. He’s probably gained 40 pounds of muscle. His bones will actually be more dense, kind of the opposite of osteoporosis.”

Apart from physical prowlice, there is also the question of gear. Bruce Wayne, as we all know, is a multi-millionnaire. So, technically, in order to become Batman, you too would need gillions of dollars, and a great R&D team.

Wanna become Batman? Your conditioning starts HERE.

Text Messaging in Canada = Krazy Times in Canada

by Irma Arkus

Spectrum auctions have resulted in some major cash grabs. Apparently, the CRTC pertains that funds from the auctioning of the wireless spectrum will be reinvested into growth of infrastructure in Canada.

Infrastructure? Excuse me? Hmmm. Is that not why we Canadians have been paying exorbitant amounts for our Telco services? So the Telcos can “reinvest” them into infrastructure? Am I mistaken? Sadly, no.

The infuriating news that have rattled the cages came on the heel of release of Canadian iPhone. Inflated pricing finally became the straw that broke the camel’s back, as most have winced at the opportunity to spend hundreds of dollars more a month for the luxury of having the amazing iPhone. iPhone which, I may add, is neither amazing, nor qualifies for such high fees.

To top it off, text messages, traditionally seen as a viable way of reducing traffic and giving something gratis to customers in most EU, North American and Asian nations, are now to fall play to additional fees.

Interpreted as an unmistakeable cash grab, this move struck a cord with most Canadians. For one, text messaging traffic is so comparativel small to that of voice apps, that its usage does not strain existing infrastructure.

Secondly, it is worthwhile pointing out that the fees indicated for text messaging are incredibly high for no particular reason, except for Telcos wanting to make a higher margin of profit, and possibly recoup funds spent on auctions (and fast!). 15 cents per text message is an incredibly high fee. If fees were to be raised to a flat fee of a few dollars, for unlimited text usage, the news would have gone over comparatively well.

Finally, we are faced with 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, BC. Only a year ago has the Vancouver City Council faced a flabbergasting question – what about availability of WiFi coverage during Olympics?

They had no answers, but everything seems to indicate that WiFi should and will be a public service established across the city, provided as a simple public utility, rather than some fandangled privately-owned enterpreneurial abyss of funds and desperation.

We are stuck a la Groundhog Day with our service providers, because we rely on private companies to provide public services. We keep on paying higher fees because we rely on private corporations to develop for-profit services. We keep on building infrastructure that keeps on being handed over to private companies, instead of building accessible and affordable public services. How is Canada going to build an information society, a nation of professionals and enterpreneurs, if the very access to information is being narrowed and excessively growing in costs? This is what I ask. And I would text our politicos too…if I had the money.

To illustrate the cost analysis of text messages, none is better than this one provided by Globe and Mail’s Sarah Schmidt, which clearly illustrates that 15 cents charges are something we could potentially see if we were to communicate with our loved ones…on Mars:

“The consultant with the Toronto-based firm Heavy Computing said that while 45.3 million text messages sent daily sounds like a lot, the amount of space this takes up on a network and related costs to a telecom company are minuscule.

A text message sent via mobile phone can be no more than 160 characters, and each character is about a byte. If 45 million text messages are sent throughout Canada every day and each message is about 100 characters, this totals 4.5 gigabytes. This amounts to about the same amount of gigabytes required to download two or three high-resolution movies from the Internet.

And in comparison to the cost of transmitting a voice call on cellphones, text messaging chews up far less space on a network. “For most cellphones, a voice call is five kilobytes a second to get an average quality call. That’s the equivalent to 50 or 100 text messages,” said Chase.

Chase pointed to a recent study by University of Leicester space scientist Nigel Bannister as a useful reference to show the proposed 15 cent fee is “absolutely ridiculous.”

Bannister compared the cost of sending a text message with the cost of obtaining a megabyte of data from the Hubble Space Telescope. He calculated that if companies charged customers 10 cents per text message, that would translate into a cost of about $734 per megabyte, about 4.4 times higher than the ‘most pessimistic’ estimate for Hubble Space Telescope transmission costs (of $166 per megabyte).”

“Hubble is by no means a cheap mission, but the mobile phone text costs were pretty astronomical,” Bannister concluded in his study.”

For full Sarah Schmidt article please visit Globe and Mail HERE

HiSciFi – Joseph Romm

This week we got to interview Joseph Romm, who is a “big cheese” gnawing at “bigger cheeses” in Washington. Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Joseph Romm runs the blog,, and is an expert in field of environmental sciences.

That, and we get really into Dr. Who and adventures of the fourth season, which is, in my humble opinion, the best one thus far.

HiSciFi – Joseph Romm

Making Babies…In the Future!

by Irma Arkus

Love when Nature indulges in wearing the futorology hat? Well, look no further than Helen Pearson’s intriguing question of human procreation in the decades to come. Similar to that of great biologist and novelist Joan Slonczewski’s predictions, Davor Solter, developmental biologist at the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) in Singapore predicts artificial wombs.

Production of germ lines (sperm and eggs) from pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has already been accomplished (for now, only in case of sperm) allowing for creation of embryos for people of all ages, or better yet, as Solter says: to “give children to those who can’t have them and remove children from those who don’t want them.” Awww, the joys of the great game of life.

Alan Trounson, IVF pioneer and director of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in San Francisco on the other hand, touts extension of the fertility period – something that only recently occured on the science news radars, as apparently, there is no reason for women to be infertile after certain age (or at least, we still can’t think of one). Also, he proposes genetic engineering, an insertion of “genetic casettes” meant to correct genetic abnormalities, such as Huntington’s.

Susannah Baruch, director of reproductive genetics at the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, has a far more conservative view of the future pondering whether “designer babies” will be feasible. Baruch, don’t doubt – I want one. And if I want one, everybody else does too. I’m a trendsetter, you see.

Miodrag Stojkovic, stem-cell biologist at the Prince Philip Centre of Investigation in Valencia, Spain explains (I kid you not): “humans are getting more and more lazy when it comes to reproduction. Male fertility is declining and parents are deciding to have their first child at 40.” My first inkling is to assume that Stojkovic visited the local dating pool – lazy and poor at communication, I might add! But then there is the whole “in order to be a viable member of economy you must finish school, make millions of dullars…and then….only then….maybe you’ll have babies too” – I think he may be right. He too proposes uses of artificial wombs, which, apparently as research goes, is kept hush hush.

I encourage you to read through the article, and think of babies…of the future. And do tell us what the choice of future procreation is for you?

Your Rights: Copyright Surveillance: Moving Closer to Big Brother

by Irma Arkus

The first signs of surveillance to detect “copyright infringement” are showing. A US federal judge recently ruled that Google is to hand over the records of all videos users have watched on YouTube to Viacom, as Viacom is suing Google for failure of censoring posted videos legally owned by Viacom.

In response to this ruling, Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner sent an open letter to Fleischer and Brin of Google. Cavoukian encourages Google to challenge the request, as it advocates surveillance of public in order to enforce copyright laws, chipping away at privacy of its users.

Copyright issues (in Canada – Bill C61, and in US, an already approved Digital Millenium Copyright Act), are very much pertinent to issues of surveillance. As previously mentioned, if Bill C61 is to be approved in Canada, and all these various ways of enjoying, using and exchanging media are to become illegal, the question begs: how are these “illegal activities” to be verified?

In other words, if your computer holds various mp3s suddenly charged to be illegal as of 2008, how are these mp3s to be “found” by authorities in the first place? This implies severe invasion of privacy and increased surveillance of members of public at large.

Most critics have duly pointed out that Bill C61, as frightening and as ridiculous as it may be, is solely serving corporate enterprises rather than the Canadian public. The implementation of the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act seems to already indulge corporate interests at the expense of personal privacy.

What further complicates things, is the undeniable fact that due to blurring of private and public spaces, such as in case of google, myspace, and facebook, our personal information is very much owned by private companies, and thus legally bound by corporate laws and interests.

What about the public Internet spaces? Do we have them? Should we have them?