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  • 309152.1153

     http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/the-banality-of-googles-dont-be-evil.html?hp&_r=0

    The non-google google: https://ixquick.com/eng/

  • 309145.1111

    Lee Smolin's great, all over the place pursuit of current theoretical implications in physics (particle, wave, and of course quantum). Smolin edges us towards the possibility "space" is an illusion and that "time" is an evolving word that may house the eventual meaningful measuring of 'now.' Right now though, it seems illusory. His book is more than a clearinghouse of recent research into a pivotal tangent inside physics. It's also a warning that as we destroy mathematics in our physical world, we deform it psychically in parallel realms like academia and worse, media. That by distorting equilibrium to make a buck, we may be proving equilibrium wrong in other fields. From the epilogue:

    "Neo-classical economics conceptualizes economics as path-independent. An efficient market is path-independent, as is a market with a single, stable equilibrium.  In a path-independent system, it should be impossible to make money purely by trading, without producing anything of value. That sort of activity is called arbitrage, and basic financial theory holds that in an efficient market arbitrage is impossible, because everything is already priced in such a way that there are no inconsistencies. You cannot trade dollars for yen, trade those for euros, back for dollars and make a profit. Nonetheless hedge funds and investment banks have made fortunes trading in currency markets. Their success should be impossible in an efficient market, but this does not have seem to have bothered economic theorists."

    - pg. 260

    What Smolin suggests, without stating, is that our markets are eccentric, they thrive and die on minute eccentricities that traders pounce upon, like tears in reality.

    Here's James Gleick's review in NYRB.

     

  • 309139.0602

     This monumental 9 hour, three-part 2003 documentary observes the effects of China's switch from communist to state-capitalism, as the northern Shenyang region's once mighty industry collapses. It could be one of the greatest films of the documentary genre. Factories are closed, families disperse, misery expands and the area reveals long term effects of failing infrastructure in the face of competition from a newer, rapid-growth China. Bleak, unsettling, remarkable. All shot in DV. It may change the way you look at the environment, capitalism, and the human impact on earth. Parts 1 & 2 shown as a part of MoMA's Chinese Realities/Documentary Visions.

     

  • 309128.0924

    A devastating take-down of the Iron Lady

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/may/23/maggie/

    From it:

    "Margaret Thatcher’s main achievement, you might say, was to move the spiritual headquarters of the Conservative Party from the Carlton Club to the working-class housing estates of Britain. She always slightly hated England’s elite, or hated the idea that you couldn’t have an elite of shopkeepers, and by the end she left Britain a greedier and seedier place. Despite the pomp and circumstance of her funeral and the many plaudits she has garnered since her death, her great experiment actually didn’t work: the people who could get rich got richer, of course, but she and her followers had no plan to relieve the economic misery that befell the others, the people who were now forced to live on state benefits, which continued to grow. It is the communities of the other—where no new investment took hold, where no new jobs came to replace the ones that were scrapped—that continue to fester in modern Britain."

  • 30983.0858

     

  • 30982.1622

  • 30977.0940

    The Pew's site Journalism.org analyzes the Lynch myth June of 2003.

  • 3090.1721

     

    A foreign entity destroys a mirrored sky-object, The Twin Towers, and attacks a pentagonal building. A war of symbols with terrible human carnage. This film is the psychic reaction of that assault. It's our assemblage of the 'symbol-destroyer's death. ZD30 reveals the U.S. psyche open to self-deceipt in order to engage with history.

    Unlike Dragnet, names have been composited to create semi-mythic personas.

     

    From a declassified CIA manual. Magicians advise spys how to boost their tradecraft.

    We don't get a proper glimpse of international boogeyman Usama Bin Laden (UBL) in the entire two hour, forty seven minute Zero Dark Thirty (ZD30?). We see faces on walls fill out a roster of his underlings, but the big man remains elusive to the narrative. Like a ghost, he blurs by in the final minutes in nightvision, as if we're watching a globalized version of Paranormal Activity. It's the first indication we're not merely in a semi-fictional film but in a technocult's ritualized sacrifice, a kind of U.S. pagan-myth bloodrite divined through electronic means of capture. Guilty of the massacre of thousands, Bin Laden's image is nonetheless hidden from us intimating it's forbidden (is it sacred to their discovery process?). It's one of many quirks that takes the hunting of one man and turns it into a singular event for the culture hunting him. To keep our attention, semiotician, Leni Riefenstahl heiress Katherine Bigelow teases us with screenshots from a SEAL's digital point-and-shoot; he takes one, two, maybe three images of the body and all of them look roughly the same, yet they're one screen away from our screen. The image is illegible.  When UBL hunter Maya (Jessica Chastain) finally stares down at his body, we're only allowed a downwind shot that catches his nostrils and beard. Anyone unfamiliar with the visual history of 9-11 would escape the film with only the barest idea of what UBL looks like. The witholding is measured, and has a pairing. Like UBL, we're denied an opening glimpse of the media's talisman of 2001, the impact/collapse of the Twin Towers. In its place is an audio montage of news, responders and a wrenching back and forth between two women, a 911 dispatcher and someone on the verge of dying in the flames of the upper floors. It's a sly choice in a film about a woman that spends twelve years hunting the ultimate ghost. Both images are carefully left out of the film.

    The film's problems extend along all axii. Its limpest moral error is grafting torture into the success of the hunt and it turns the film into a Frankenstein-like story in which the means justify the end. Do the filmmakers realize they've committed a seductive form of deceipt? By linearizing the hunt, by localizing it around one archetype they color it mythic. It's how Law & Order compresses its tales. It's how news media condenses events. It's the just the result of the process of simplifying the story for its telling. It's locked into the strategy both Bigelow and Boal chose to tackle the film with. This is a film without any real hint of ambiguity, designed to take the place of actual history and submerge the U.S.'s ideology with its wartime practices. When are audiences going to laugh off the 'based on actual events' intro as the first illusion of many to come? (Maya means illusion in Hindi).  Mark Boal's presence lends the faint respectability of journalism and the film is structured like a bravura multi-page magazine piece. Alternately inane and sharp titles bridge major scenes like sequences in new journalism (the weakest labels the U.S. embassy in Islamabad after we're shown the embassy's entrance signage). Its mid-range error is its compression of facts with fiction. Hurt Locker suffered much graver dislogic, but Bigelow still rushes to tell a story that any spy warrior would probably laugh at. At the embassy's entrance sits a green Mercedes, and as Maya emerges in her white sedan, gunmen pop out and riddle her car with automatic fire. In which fantasy would a checkpoint become a parking zone? It's like the bomb spotter in Hurt Locker's opening sequence, hiding in plain sight as if he wants to get shot. It's all an outsider's imagination of revolt and insurgency reconditioned for western audiences and it reinforces our sensations of superiority in the dark. Whenever I got around to talking about Bigelow's last film, a Freudian slip reoccured: Hurt Logic.  This same thematic failure happens in Bigelow's mixing and matching torture subjects and rendition sites under the pretense of logical pursuit. Any inquisitive mind can watch a few Frontlines and realize torture became more than just a hunt for data, it was also an element in the triggering invasion, and the invasion then bred its own byproduct of the torture game (see Abu Garaib). We're not in a past era where Hitchcock is making the mistake co-opting Ed Gein as a source for Psycho, he only claimed to be scaring people. Bigelow is claiming the veil of reality and using documentary and news techniques to underline the story to scare us. In the pursuit of the audience's raw nerves she implies the most dangerous outcome is Bin Laden's escape, ignoring the other really scary things hiding in the material. Humans caught in our wake: mistaken identities and innocent bystanders to the CIA's path, even the continual reimaging of the U.S. as a virtual and actual colonizer. She doesn't even play with the chaotic possibilities in gathering data from humans, all men, under duress. Here the regret of torture is shown solely in the tight face of heroine Maya, who squirms only for the film's first few minutes, then vibrates angrily every time a terrorist strike occurs. Her arc becomes just a mechanical ploy to seduce us. The problem lies in the film's 'composite' method. Maya, like her torture subjects, like her fellow agents, are all composites of an extensive cast of hunters and targets. The choice of composite characters is a critical failure, it obscures the moral compass so badly, not a single person remains human enough to question even the final act, sending a team of killers from an occupied country into a soveriegn nation without even a moment's pause. The world appears to be the U.S.'s canvas to paint with blood, as long as we can evade detection long enough to escape. Only the SEALs know their potential fate might be rotting in a Pakistani prison and it's the only sober moment of the entire film.

    Its gravest error remains Maya. Training a red-haired, pale skinned white woman (read as Northern European descent) through series of violent purifications while she remains sacred (using the abstentions from social and sexual needs) means the film is no more than amped, adrenalized Riefenstahl. This view into a logically falsified blood-rite is the closest thing to zealotry a 'political' film could allow before becoming pure comedy. Maya is the ultimate mythic warrior dressed up for western consumption. She dons her best suit for her first torture, calls intimacy how she sees it ("fuck"), swears when she hears her high value operative is dead and buried ("fuck"), and clears a room of men who wonder how the Abbotabad compound was discovered ("I'm the motherfucker who found it."). The choice of wording is apt and creepy, the Oedipal expression robs her of her gender and turns her into any one of the men in the room. It shows off Maya's performance mask in a single word. There are no uncomfortable come-ons by men in the film, and her most intimate sit-down is with James Gandolfini's Leon Panetta in the main canteen of the CIA. Probably like Bigelow, this isn't someone who wants to be taken for an equal, she reads everyone as inferior and the film complies by subtly grading every other character's weakness in comparison. She's played as a rare case of female Asperger's and her emotionless tagline haunts the film, she announces her own myth: "I believe I was spared to get Bin Laden." The mystery of fate enters the procedural when Bigelow needs dramatic pause. Only the SEALs show up on her viewmaster history of the events, they're like her dogs, and dogs and collars are shown to infer pecking order. They share a common target with differing levels of 'tradecraft'. She's got their leashes, they've got the triggers and the technology. Like the audience, the bureacracy and government and even her fellow agents are saddled with human frailty she lacks and that's the key issue. She's inhuman. In a film carefully showcasing real-life error, she's pure. Faultless. All the other cast-members are fodder in her plan.

    The most disconcerting thing about the film isn't the film. It's the reaction. Reviewers all seem drugged by it. The hyperbolic praise it's been granted is obviously filtered through reviewers' memories of watching and rewatching the entire decade long attack/invasion cycle that's been playing on their widescreen TVs. Bigelow cleverly co-ops TV journalism as a prelude to the grand finale.  Major set-pieces are begun with fictional London buses and fictional Islamabad Marriott dining rooms and seemlessly finished by news footage of London bombings and fiery craters outside the hotel. Over years, cable news set these reviewers up and Bigelow knocked them all down in the screening room. The whole fiction-reality op blinds them to the film's simplistic 'Maya vs. the CIA' fantasy that's been magnetized to the 'kill Bin Laden raid' without any profound emotional crossover between them, and of course, the raid doesn't invite Maya along. Audience members were so taken at my showing that when a SEAL called out "Usama" up the last staircase, they began shouting angry epithets. A reaction similar to The Exorcist's ending. By entering the inner sanctum of the world's most diabolical villain (essentially the first flesh and blood Bond baddie), Bigelow finally gets to graft her fictional composite into our memory of reality. The movies goes component. It's a propagandist's master-stroke, the same way Oliver Stone used Zapruder, or Woody Allen tooled Zelig to make their point. Slipping between near pitch-black and nightvision, the film takes on a 'you are there' style to brilliant effect.  You never know when the fiction ends and the factual begins. The whole film seems to be an aesthetic rehearsal for this nighttime scope killing sequence. The dragged zooms, the jab moves, the off center frames in tight focus suddenly occur without even moonlight to enhance the edges. The murkiness works the edges of the 4K projector's limitations and massages our craving for visual references. Some of the darkened flying shots are the only adventurous moments in the film, and they recall early special effects because they seem so unreal, so impossible.  Maybe it's the first film of a medium that no longer needs 35MM, obviously the digital capture with its abstractions of ASA gives the filmmakers a truly undefined threshold between the theater's reflective screen and the homes backlit one. Bigelow's even clever enough to save the film's only subtitles for this end darkness. It's all an 'improved' version of the reality illusion Hurt Locker delivered. The soundwork is likewise stunning, Bigelow isolates the most discrete noises (like the straps to hold torture subjects) to the sides while their breathing stays centered.  After the big rub-out of UBL, the fiction returns quickly and Maya spends a brief intimate moment with her body-bag. Then she climbs aboard her jet-fueled chariot, a wide-open military cargo C-130 on which she's the only passenger. She's the only one listed on its manifest. And of course, the filmmakers pretend she controls her destiny, the pilot asks her where she wants to go as if she has any real choice in the matter. It isn't a spiritual question he's asking yet they want us to think it is. The coda seems to be a taunt at her ex-husband James Cameron; Maya's sitting in her lonely wall-mounted seat seems to be the flipside of Sully's arrival on Pandora. She has to leave the occupation behind. It makes you realize you've just watched a nearly three hour custody battle over a Best Picture Oscar she already owns.

  • 310362.1744

    This was to be Tarantino's homecoming. As a son-of-the-south, QT has slipped his homestate Tennessee among thousands of other references in his now extensive library. Tennessee is Butch's escape haven in Pulp Fiction, Aldo Raines (Inglourious Basterds) is a descendant of Tennessee persona Jim Bridger. Like another southerner, D.W. Griffith, Tarantino visits the antebellum at his own peril. And where Griffith plowed into a fantasy revenge on behalf of the owners of the south, Tarantino charts a revenge brokered by the other side. It has the beats, all the verbal wit, the endless exploitation riffs, all the logical fury of canon QT, what it lacks is Tarantino's knack for emotional bonding carried by carefully plotted visuals.

    There are glimpses. Only few moments bring back the narrative dementia of days of yore Quentin: in a cabin of mumbling trackers, a kerchief-masked Zoe Bell peers into an 1800's stereogram viewer. As she slips it in, the focus narrows and we get an unsettling sensation of 3-D as the images combine. In the view is an early photograph of the Parthenon, in the foreground are what appear to be slaves. The image serves a few purposes: it's an indictment that savagely skewers our current 3-D technology, a wry director's statement to the audience: "I'm not going 3-D, but I'm going to doctor this image and make you think it's real using a 3-D effect." And the image isn't merely a technological comment, it historicizes the film's themes by placing slaves in the ruins of a culture that became powerful through the economics of slavery. Even better, it's a comment on the greek revival in antebellum architecture, Candie's plantation bears a passing resemblance to the Parthenon. That hint is: slavery will soon be history. That's about 8 seconds of screen time. Bruce Dern as the owner that sends Django and his betrothed into the open market, carries the only other moment of sheer brilliance. He peers down on Django like a demonic billboard high above Times Square. He's the real monster to slay.

    Surrounding these moments is an overwritten, underacted retread of themes already broached in the more developed Inglourious Basterds. Want to know why Django Unchained isn't up to speed? Try reading Rene Girard's Violence and the Sacred. He knows the how-why-what of violence coded in ancient myth. The basic gist is: spilled blood, sacrifice, revenge are all elements of basic human rituals. QT is a director who specializes in modernizing ancient bloodrites (as well as spotting and raiding B-movies that did the same). All that tension and release we've been experiencing in his films isn't merely bloodlust. It's the control of bodies, of imminent fears, not merely the rage of revenge.  Until Django, Tarantino's main characters were validated semi-mythic, experiencing death (Kiddo in Kill Bill), defying death (Vincent and Jules in Pulp Fiction, Shosanna in Inglourious Basterds) and dying to serve mythic requirements (Vincent in Pulp Fiction). The most realistic myth of his is Resevoir Dogs, where impending death sanctifies Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) so much so that Mr. White (Keitel) is willing to kill for him. There, and before Django, the emotions are symmetric. In Django, death comes down to earth as merely a plot mechanism that decides how the next scene will be written. It breeds no symmetry either visually or emotionally. Where the death of Vincent and the escape of Butch work hand in hand to fashion the offscreen myth (literally the "pulp fiction") that Marcellus is forced to create to save face in Pulp Fiction, in Django no circle of logic levitates the film's body count into an unknown, metaphysical arc. The bonding forced on the heroes of Django is lifted entirely from Basterds yet it has none of the lyrical urgency of the earlier films. The label "charade" is applied by Christoph Waltz's characters in both films, even a brief German language scene inverts the English spoken in the LaPaditte farmhouse in Basterds. It's too similar without breaking new ground. But there are glimmers. For brief moments we're shown the film he should've made. They're earlier reminisces of Django as he relives escape and capture. The sequences are vivid off-exposure nightimes, chases out of B-movie hell, and a garish daytime POV of Bruce Dern. That was the real film, where Dern was the real plantation owner, and Django feared both life and death.

    The pivotal scene of Django, its 'philosophical moment', is the "Skull War" scene (see the book Skull Wars about Harvard's 1800s "race science"). Here Candie exhibits, then saws the skull of his father's houseboy, ostensibly the skull of Stephen's (Samuel L. Jackson) father. The soliloquy is handled with an almost apologetic fury, and it shows Tarantino blowing his best hand. Even though the skull is the wittiest of his visual parallels (to the white cake - both are cut - both are served after dinner - both are 'made' by African-Americans) it doesn't freak the audience enough, it's not truly demented. Problem is there's no relish, no surety in the ethnic science Calvin's preaching. It's all screamed by the boy-plantation owner as DiCaprio plays Candie. Tarantino's Nazi's were much more threatening because they remained urbane, calculating. Here the charade remains only a parlor game. The drama comes from a too mechanical sudden shift, a left-field reaction by Waltz (Tarantino has to force his hand with a cheap memory insertion - the unwilling mandingo fighter's death-by-dogs). The comedy comes from the audience's realization the father figure of the house isn't Candie, it's the skull's descendant, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson). He's breached protocol, already seated in the library, warming himself a brandy when Candie enters for his fatherly talking to. The man charged with observing everything is really in charge, yet he's a slave outside this library. Both Stephen and Django have inner/outer performance masks. Outside, Django is a terror to his own ethnicity, pretending to be the Mandingo trading expert, while Stephen is standard issue Uncle Tom. In the privacy of Candyland's closed doors their masks come off: Stephen becomes the brutal father-figure, Django the lovelorn softie.  When revenge comes, Django doesn't even shoot the the skull he's compared to indirectly, he just blows Stephen up along with the house. It's a bruiser's version of Tarantino, he's finally begun making the films he imitates. The former slave walking away from the same type of house Zoe Bell stares at in her stereoscope. This is the first of his films without any grand pulp fiction. Still worth seeing. Better than 99% of films in release.

  • 310293.2214
    Louis was a king, and our republic is established; the critical question concerning you must be decided by these words alone. Louis was dethroned by his crimes; Louis denounced the French people as rebels; he appealed to chains, to the armies of tyrants who are his brothers; the victory of the people established that Louis alone was a rebel; Louis cannot therefore be judged; he already is judged. He is condemned, or the republic cannot be absolved. To propose to have a trial of Louis XVI, in whatever manner one may, is to retrogress to royal despotism and constitutionality; it is a counter-revolutionary idea because it places the revolution itself in litigation. In effect, if Louis may still be given a trial, he may be absolved, and innocent. What am I to say? He is presumed to be so until he is judged. But if Louis is absolved, if he may be presumed innocent, what becomes of the revolution? If Louis is innocent, all the defenders of liberty become slanderers. Our enemies have been friends of the people and of truth and defenders of innocence oppressed; all the declarations of foreign courts are nothing more than the legitimate claims against an illegal faction. Even the detention that Louis has endured is, then, an unjust vexation; the fédérés, the people of Paris, all the patriots of the French Empire are guilty; and this great trial in the court of nature judging between crime and virtue, liberty and tyranny, is at last decided in favor of crime and tyranny. Citizens, take warning; you are being fooled by false notions; you confuse positive, civil rights with the principles of the rights of mankind; you confuse the relationships of citizens amongst themselves with the connections between nations and an enemy that conspires against it; you confuse the situation of a people in revolution with that of a people whose government is affirmed; you confuse a nation that punishes a public functionary to conserve its form of government, and one that destroys the government itself. We are falling back upon ideas familiar to us, in an extraordinary case that depends upon principles we have never yet applied.