Film review: Arrival (2016)

I just watched this critically acclaimed film and have to admit that I was highly disappointed. The central plot line is something that really appealed to me, as to how the world might react if spaceships were to suddenly arrive on Earth. What would the extra-terrestrials look like? What might their intentions be towards us? How could we communicate to find out? What science and technology do they have that enables them to overcome the massive barriers to interplanetary, let alone interstellar, travel that we face? This is a topic that is a staple of science-fiction writers, in classics like Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End.
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If it tastes good, it is good

A couple of recent posts on tea (see here and here) generated lively discussions about the many myths surrounding how to make a good cup of tea. I have also in the past mentioned that there are a lot of similar myths surrounding wine, compounded in that case by an order of magnitude greater level of pretentious vocabulary surrounding the topic. One thing I have noticed is that people who fancy themselves as connoisseurs of tea or wine or anything else refuse to be swayed by studies that suggest that the fine distinctions they claim to detect have no objective basis. Persuading them otherwise seems to be harder than persuading religious believers that there is no god.
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Well, that was awkward

Just before the Federation Cup tennis match played between the US and Germany in Hawaii, the version of the German national anthem associated with the Nazis was sung, instead of the current version.

A male soloist at the match on the Hawaiian island of Maui sang the verse beginning with the lines “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles, uber alles in der Welt”, which translates as “Germany, Germany, above all, above all in the world”.

Although the words were written long before the Nazis ruled Germany, they became closely identified with Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich in the period before and during the second world war.

The offending verse, which traditionally began the anthem, is now considered anachronistic.

The third verse of the 19th century Deutschlandlied, the words of which were written in 1841, is the only one performed in modern-day Germany and is officially classed as the national anthem.

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Trump is already bored and frustrated with his job

The Trump administration has its first casualty with his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn being forced to resign amidst charges that he lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. He must be feeling pretty aggrieved since his boss lies brazenly and repeatedly and he must have thought that it was ok for him to follow his lead. What is extraordinary is the flood of news leaks leading up the resignation that, to me at least, suggested that leaks have become the weapons of choice in the Trump administration’s bureaucratic warfare. Robert Mackey says that the leaks by current and former intelligence officials are also aimed at Trump himself and that he is finding it increasingly irksome.
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Trump vs. Truth

John Oliver dissects Donald Trump’s lies and the sources of those lies. Don’t omit to watch at the 21:00 minute mark where Oliver produces a series of ads to be actually aired on the cable news shows that Trump watches, where the actor in a pseudo-commercial provides Trump with accurate information.

Transgender spotlight

The ACLU of Ohio has come up with a set of videos where members of the transgender and gender non-conforming community tell their own stories. They have also provided a page that lists resources that are available. It says that there are “approximately 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States, but only 22% of Americans say they know someone who is transgender, compared to nearly 90% who know someone who is lesbian, gay or bisexual.”
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Saturday Night Live goes full Trump

It looks like Saturday Night Live has decided to portray as many male members of the Trump administration as possible with women, knowing that this gets under Trump’s skin. In addition to Melissa McCarthy reprising her role as press secretary Sean Spicer, yesterday saw Kate McKinnon as Jeff Sessions. Can Rosie O”Donnell as Steve Bannon be far behind?
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