The most important thing the United States needs right now.

What is the biggest and most prevelent tool of the largest religion in the US ? Well, that religion is consumerism, and that tool is Television.

Some characterize TV as an information, entertainment and pleasure source, others as a distraction. It can be, and is all of these things depending on who you talk to, and what you watch.

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District 9

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This film is a a violent, shattering and horrifying look into a mirror reflecting our past human rights abuses and projecting them into a future where we are no different and treat moribund alien voyagers with the same illegal and repressive actions.
Neil Blomkamp & Peter Jackson’s District 9 assumes a spliced feel of documentary and action thriller that works very well on its mission to keep you gasping and reeling with horror and conflicted feelings for many of its well depicted characters.

I love this movie because its a sci-fi movie that brings reality and mind bending fiction very close together. (It also felt a little like half life 2 ūüôā who’s story was not that dissimilar, except humans are getting the raw end of the deal)

Obviously being a South African movie it is heavy with perceptions and memories of aparthide by design, but the other main theme apart from segregation is the “military industrial complex” and its savage pursuit of new alien weaponry and the ability to use it effectively.
The way this is horrifyingly portrayed with no regard for life, alien or human, in my opinion is pretty close to reality if this scenario actually played out.

Technological and monetary gain over morals and rights is a running theme in our current reality and this film takes a logical progression and applies it to alien visitors rather blithely weaving in references, tactics & similar images to current real life scenarios.

The cycle of discreditation of a “fugitive”, lying to the public and key figures is all too familiar, the old addage knowledge is power holds very true in District 9’s universe and the aliens are either too nieve or on a completely different plain of being to recognize evil human motives

I highly recommend you see District 9, it is the first film I’ve seen in theaters in probably 3 months and I only heard of it 2 weeks before I saw it. All I needed was Peter Jackson+Sci-Fi that was enough for me. The Weta guys really worked up some fantastic imagery for this movie.

See a trailer here.

Written with current sunlight.

Just got finished changing the oil in my car. Drving 60 miles a day for 2 months (roughly 3750 miles, my service interval) adds up quick ūüė¶ my last 2 tanks of gas also varied widely, 35.7 and 26.4 mpg respectively. Ouch. Talk about a pendulum. (something odd going on, but it averages out.)

So, last night I watched a very good movie, suprisingly so also. I didn’t have high expecations of it, but its on a subject I am pretty obsessed with; climate change. “The 11th Hour” is Leonardo Dicaprio’s take on the subject and I was highly impressed. It is a very human movie; it differs from Inconvenient Truth somewhat because it is not filled with a slideshow presentation with graphs and animations (which is also very good and packs punch) but it is a continual interview style film running through many many scientists, professors and concerned academia who really lend a great personal touch to the message they are conveying.

This really let the film collect momentum through various educated perspectives, one of which I liked a lot, mostly because of its unbelievable simplicity and the fact it stressed that climate change is not the planets problem, it is ours.

It went something like this: Way back when the human race appeared our population flatlined at about just under a billion people, this continued for many centuries, farmers, craftsmen, builders and laborers all worked from “Current Sunlight”. All the energy used to grow food and resources used in day to day life was energy directly from the sun; current sunlight. Therefore there was only enough energy to support a certain amount of people.
As human life progressed we developed tools, we progressed to eventually become chemists, miners & engineers, very good chemists infact, we developed a way to extract energy (hydrocarbons) from something that had captured sunlight from a long time ago; dead plants and animals in many forms.
The fossil fuel age had begun, and our population balooned from something like 2 billion in the 30’s to 3 billion in the 1960’s (just 49 years ago !) and slowly it has risen to the 6.5 billion today.

This sized population can exist because we are harnessing ancient energy, which as it happens is not being replenished. Now, I’m not saying all the progress the human race has made is bad, today we have some mind boggling technologies that have helped us as a race survive, and some have made the Earth a better place. But, the current trend cannot continue.

I’m not going to get into all the peak oil stuff and when thats going to happen (some say the peak was already reached a few years ago) But all our ways of going about life on this planet currently rely on something that could dissapear and is not going to reappear for another few million years.
Take oil away, and we’re in a nasty situation.

We have to, and will most likely be forced to go back to living off of current sunlight as our primary energy source. When I heard this is was an absolute shot in the arm. It makes so much sense !
In today’s world, we have many solar technologies to generate energy directly from our current sunlight, and this energy: Electricity.

We just have to convince everyone on the planet. That, there is the problem.
We could reduce humanities carbon footprint considerably if every house that gets sun year round (like in Arizona, California, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Mexico, Florida, Texas, Bermuda, the Phillipines, Hawaii, Many pacific islands, Spain, France, Portugal, China etc.. etc..) had some way of getting thier energy directly from the sun.

Now, I mentioned that this is our problem. It is, if we don’t want to see our population drastically & violently drop to sub 2 billion person levels when we run out of carbon based fossil fuels (remember, in 1960, only 49 years ago, the population was only 3 billion, the reverse could happen just as quickly, if not, faster.)
If we want to survive as a species and not become some post-apocolyptic warlike race scavenging for energy, then we have to adapt NOW.
And as climate change happens, keep in mind that things on this planet will make life here very difficult.
The planet will school us pretty well in inhospitible environment survival.

My favorite quote from the movie “The 11th Hour” was definately this:

The planet will survive this, the planet has all the time in the world; literally. We as a species, do not.

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Written with current sunlight; a very literal blog post title. My laptop is currently plugged into my “solar battery box” as it’s midday and the battery is charging; this is more efficient as more energy is being pushed to the battery, I can use this and still have the battery almost fully charged. Well, thats my opinion anyway ūüôā but it was formed from empirical evidence; my battery is dying a bit and lasts a lot longer if I do most task that are required of it, while its charging. If I wait till the sun goes down and the battery starts to hover around 12.7 volts and below (used to be it would hold 13v for a fair amount of time) then the work that can be done by it drastically deminishes.

So, alot has changed.

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year to all.

I had a good time this holiday, fun and educational.
I took delivery of a 2002 Impreza WRX wagon late December. Turbos are fun, on the occasion I have had to use it to pass or get on the freeway in a hurry, otherwise I keep it out of boost and I’ve managed to get 25.6 and 26.6mpg on my last 2 commuting/general use tanks of gas.

I’ve been gleaning all information I can get my hands on about Ethanol and E85. Pretty interesting, in the next 6 months or so I am considering a conversion if I can get my head around all the parts I need, neccessary and less neccessary. (ECU piggyback, new spark plugs, new fuel pump ? I don’t know.) Also, I need to know if Cellulosic Ethanol is really going to take off domestically.

My interest in electric cars has not wained though, despite selling my other older subaru; I know I can probably find something better to convert in the next 2 years. I need to save money.
I attended a local electric car meeting and was stunned at the turn out, there are alot of people locally who own EVs ! I also got to see my first EV, a late 90’s chevy S10, with Li-Ion batteries to boot. It was a really clean conversion.

I also learned a bit about solar trackers in the last month. I learned I need one. With less sunlight available in the winter months, due to cloud cover and a bit of rain, you need to make the most use of the sunny days you get (although its warming back up now) I am in the process of attempting to mount my solar panel to a home made tracker, haven’t figured out exactly where I’m going to get the mechanics and electronics to enable said tracking, but the frame and pivot I can get started right now. (wood and plastic are my friends; I need to learn to weld.)

Netflix RULES. I joined just last night and watched my first movie online (“Dan in real life” I highly recommend it, and I also watched another movie about a columnist at the theater, Marley and Me, that I recommend also, but bring a box of tissues if you own a dog!)
Sitting infront of my solar powered laptop watching movies for 9 bucks a month sounds good to me !

How small are we?

Monologue from Wener Herzog’s film ‘The Wild Blue Yonder’ performed by the Alien from Andromeda, Brad Dourif. This movie examines just how small and alone we are and this monologue illustrates it perfectly.

“I could have told them, I know all about it.

We traveled all the way from the outreaches of the Andromeda galaxy.

Do you have any clue of how far that is?

No you don’t.

 

Let’s get this clear from the start, the closest star to this planet

or should I say spec of dust, is only four and a half light years from

here. And may I say that Alpha Centuari is a couple million degrees hot,

which I don’t want to exaggerate, could be unpleasant.

 

Now, how fast is the speed of light? Using conventional fuel and I mean

rocket fuel to accelerate to 30% the speed of light wouldn’t take all the fuel tanks on planet earth or say the equivalent to the rocky mountains, it would take all the mass in the universe¬† visible to the naked eye.

That’s the earth, the sun, the solar system the milky way, all the stars in our galaxy, all the stars in the surrounding

galaxies.

 

Now how fast have you gone so far? the fastest speed achieved to date

was by your voyager space probe which was accelerated to about 55,000 mph

and is currently headed out of your solar system and into deep space.

Now let’s suppose that that is a space ship and you are an astronaught on that

ship and you are headed towards alpha centuari, which I will remind you is

4.5 light years from here.

 

Now Lets assume you started your voyage 20,000 years ago, this is the time of

Cro-Magnon man paelilithica, cave paintings in the south of france, they’re

hunting bison, rhino, wooly mammoths. And you’re speeding along at 55,000 mph

for another 10,000 years, now you’re at neolithic, mankind begins agriculture,

domesticated animals, sheep, horses, goats and pigs, now when I say pigs I mean

domesticated pigs, this was mankind’s first arch sin, do you know why, because in order

to domesticate and breed animals you need to become sedentary, this begat settlements

which begat towns which begat cities which begat all the problems which will

become mankind’s destruction.

Breeding dogs is not a sin because they’ll go with you on your nomadic hunts,

but pigs, that was a sin. I have diverted.

 

The ship continues on its way for another 6,000 years, ancient Egypt, pharos

pyramids, a few thousand years more past ancient Greece, ancient Rome and into

the middle ages and more arch sin, an Italian poet decides it would be fun to

climb a mountain, just for the fun of it, the Swiss didn’t do it the sherpas didn’t

do it till bored 19th century Englishman paid them and then they robbed the mountains of their dignity, that was a sin.

 

The ship moves on, the declaration of independence, world war one, communism, world

war two, Marylyn Monroe, Elvis Presley to the present day. Now how far have you come?

You’ve accomplished just 15% of your journey to Alpha Centuari.

You have in pro-creating gone through 500 generations, how could you have avoided

in-breeding, rebellions, murders, would you not just become grotesquely mal-deformed freaks with no idea where you came from or why you began the journey to begin with ?

and might I add that the closest star which might be considered non-lethal is not 4.5 light years from here, it’s more like 200,000.”

A movie worth writing about.

I warned you I’d write about movies occasionally. Well, this is a movie worth writing about: The Dark Knight.¬†It is the latest in the tide of comic book inspired adaptions, and the second from Chris Nolan who is bringing a nice dark tint to an already dark set of characters and ideas.

This movie is one of the best of its kind I’ve seen in a¬†while. It is tough, hand over the mouth intensity that keeps delivering.¬†It is also unbelievably depressing;¬†a cerebral¬†blockbuster that¬†gets into your head and won’t let go. It touches on terror, morality, conspiricy and even ‘big brother’.

It is depressing not only with its content of unbrideld, uncontrollable un-apologetic terrorism, which is common in most comic-book movies, delivered by Heath Ledger’s Joker, but also depressing knowing that the brilliant performance you are seeing is his last.

And it is a brilliant performance, aided by fantastic fear building¬†sound and cinematography Ledger brought such¬†full bodied intensity¬†to the Joker’s socipathic¬†character, playing god in the face of all Gotham.

See this movie and look past all its comic book imagery¬†and certain unnecessary CG effects and¬†re-think how you think about the world around you today. Why you aren’t shocked about certain things because ‘its all part of the plan’ and how our world can easily be set on its head with little effort in some situations.¬† And also how the heros of today are shunned or thanked depending on¬†our fickle uneducated or unexperienced¬†feelings.

Just my opinion, but this movie made me think, it resonates with the world of today and transports its message with style and force. See this film, you won’t be dissapointed.

Most of what I say about this movie ‘doesn’t amount to a hill o’ beans’ because I have not been a long term Batman fan, I don’t know the history behind all of the movies characters or imagery. And also, I’m not that good at reviewing movies. Maybe if I buy this when it comes out I’ll have more to say.

Theres also an interesting CGSoc. article out there that talks about all the effects shots for the film, 80% of which you won’t even notice and 20% of which you’ll probably have to try and ignore. (yes Harvy Dent’s face… which interestingly isn’t discussed.) Read it here.