“Star Wars” as seen in a galaxy close, very close, to home

Wednesday, 29 October, 2014

Toronto based photographer Thomas Dagg brings the “Star Wars” universe right into our world by blending characters, devices, and craft, into a series of what are otherwise day to day photos.

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An oral history of “The Wonder Years”

Wednesday, 29 October, 2014

I didn’t see enough of The Wonder Years, a TV series set in the suburbs of a US town during the 1960s and 70s, that ran for six years. Time to track down a DVD box set I think. In the meantime I’m settling for this informative oral history of the show, published by Rolling Stone magazine:

We knew that the success or failure would rest on the shoulders of finding a phenomenal 12-year-old kid. Every casting director we interviewed said, “Whether you hire us or not, you really need to see this kid Fred Savage in Chicago for the role of Kevin.” We flew him out and read him with the other actors – and it was a no-brainer. We had seen some kids who were pretty good, but whether the series would have been anything like what it turned out to be with Fred… I suspect not.

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“2001: A Space Odyssey”, a trailer for 2014

Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

I’ve seen 2001: A Space Odyssey a thousand times, yet feel like I’d be watching it for the first time after seeing this brand new trailer, which is for the United Kingdom only, sadly, re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 classic.

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The pixel art like painting of Ian Davis

Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

US artist Ian Davis’ “Little Men” works remind me of pixel art. Of course they’re nothing of the sort, but that doesn’t make them any less fascinating.

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Choose the public wi-fi networks that you access with care

Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

I often work from cafes and other public places, but am usually reluctant to tap into the free-for-all public wi-fi networks that are on offer, unless I’m forced to for some reason, preferring to use my private mobile broadband account.

After reading Maurits Martijn’s account of the ease with which some of these networks can be comprised, as it were, you might want to think twice about your use of public wi-fi networks:

We see more and more visitors log on to our fictitious network. The siren song of the little black device appears to be irresistible. Already 20 smartphones and laptops are ours. If he wanted to, Slotboom could now completely ruin the lives of the people connected: He can retrieve their passwords, steal their identity, and plunder their bank accounts. Later today, he will show me how. I have given him permission to hack me in order to demonstrate what he is capable of, though it could be done to anyone with a smartphone in search of a network, or a laptop connecting to a WiFi network.

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Listen to the crickets, they’ll tell you what the temperature is

Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

Crickets are synonymous with summer, that goes without saying, but did you know that it is possible to gauge the temperature from the rate at which they chirp?

Listening to the crickets in a meadow outside his home, Dolbear made a series of three observations: At 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the crickets chirped at a rate of 80 per minute, at 70 degrees, they chirped at 120 per minute, and at temperatures below 50 degrees, “the crickets had no energy to waste in music,” and retained a rate of 40 chirps per minute.

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How easy it is not to comply with the voice of (apparent) authority?

Monday, 27 October, 2014

Compliance (trailer) was one of the more disturbing movies I saw last year, for a number of reasons, mainly because it was based on actual events.

Then there were the depictions of a young woman, who worked at a fast food restaurant, being sexually assaulted, and the blind adherence by her manager to various instructions being issued by a man on the telephone, claiming to be a police officer.

To make matters worse, it transpired that the man was behind no fewer than seventy similar such incidents, usually targeting US fast food industry workers. In other words, no one had realised he was a serial perpetrator, and tried to issue any sort of warnings about his behaviour, or so it would seem.

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Some of the best film adaptations of books

Monday, 27 October, 2014

If you think that the hit rate for films that have been successfully adapted from books is low, then this list of features that are regarded as such, might change your line of thinking, offer some hope, what have you.

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How much fiction is in fact based on non-fiction, or actual events?

Monday, 27 October, 2014

It is widely assumed that the work of many fiction writers is in some way autobiographical, or based, in part at least, on their personal experience. Why then go to sometimes elaborate lengths to disguise their writing as fiction?

Eager to find a form of expression for ideas or feelings that would upset a status quo we are all heavily invested in, writers have often invented stories quite different from their own biographies or from the political situation in which they find themselves, but that nevertheless reconstitute the play of forces, the dilemmas and conundrums behind their own preoccupations.

So there’s some actual doubt, I’d say. You never know how useful that might be one day.

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Curmudgeons, able to see what the rest us can’t?

Monday, 27 October, 2014

Curmudgeons may not be the most popular of people, but they have a way of getting what they want. They’re also not half bad at honing in on the smaller details that other people, those usually in a more positive frame of mind, tend to miss.

Feisty personalities, although unpleasant, can be tremendously effective. The psychological agility we’re advocating here would expand your repertoire to give you access to the tougher, more direct, and sometimes more effective approach. You’re probably avoiding this strategy because you think that being negative is, well, negative. You may think that aggressive, hostile, or downright mean people are generally jerks and you don’t want to run with that crowd. The good news is that a whole range of negativity – of beneficial negativity, mind you – has nothing to do with being a jerk.

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