Year in movies

I just took a look at the feature films released in 2018 and ranked by popularity according to IMDb. It is an interesting list, in that it shows that superhero movies are still very dominant, and that there are a lot of releases that I have never heard about.

I have looked at the top-100 movies, and marked the list with following:
Normal text – movie I have heard about, and which I haven’t watched, but might watch
Blod text – movie I have watched (‘-‘ after the movie indicates I didn’t like it, ‘+’ indicates I liked it)
Italic text – movie I haven’t heard about
Strikethrough – movies I don’t want to watch
A * after a title indicates that I plan on watching that movie.

1. Aquaman (-)
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse *
3. Bumblebee
4. Bird Box
5. Mary Poppins Returns
6. Roma
7. Mortal Engines *
8. Creed II
9. The Mule
10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I have only seen one movie in the top 10, and didn’t like it. The rest of the movies I either plan on watching, or are fine with watching. The ones I am least interested in watching are Creed II and the Mule (which i just read about on IMDb).

11. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
12. Venom *
13. Welcome to Marwen
14. Zero (III)
15. Bohemian Rhapsody *
16. A Simple Favor
17. Vice (I)
18. The House That Jack Built
19. Dumplin’
20. Bad Times at the El Royale
21. Grinchen
22. The Favourite
23. The Christmas Chronicles
24. Ralph Breaks the Internet *
25. Mary Queen of Scots

I am doing decidedly worse on the next 15. Here there were quite a few I hadn’t even heard about, and when looking at them, I have absolutely no interest in seeing them. I guess that the algorithms that pushes movies on me must be working.

26. The Predator *
27. Avengers: Infinity War (+)
28. A Star Is Born
29. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
30. Hunter Killer
31. Robin Hood (I)
32. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
33. White Boy Rick
34. First Man
35. Deadpool 2 (+)
36. Ready Player One (-)
37. Peppermint
38. Smallfoot
39. Crazy Rich Asians
40. Widows
41. The Sisters Brothers
42. Green Book
43. Holmes & Watson
44. The House with a Clock in Its Walls
45. Second Act
46. The Equalizer 2
47. Halloween (I)
48. The Meg
49. Blockers
50. Backtrace

There are a lot of movies in place 26 to 50 that I hadn’t heard about, and a lot of movies that I don’t particularly care to see, and a few that I actively don’t want to see. I will say that the only movie on the list that makes me angry is Blockers, which I hadn’t heard about before looking at this list. It is a movie about 3 fathers trying to block their daughters from loosing their viginity on prom night. There are so many things problematic with this premise, that I am not going into it, but it definitely makes for a movie that I won’t watch.

I have indicated that I don’t want to see The Meg, but I might do it as part of a bad movie night.

51. Andhadhun
52. BlacKkKlansman
53. Incredibles 2
54. Black Panther (+)
55. Cold War
56. Dragon Ball Super: Broly
57. A Quiet Place (+)
58. The Little Mermaid
59. The Nun
60. Instant Family
61. Ant-Man and the Wasp *
62. Under the Silver Lake
63. Destroyer
64. Hereditary
65. Mile 22
66. Outlaw King
67. Night School
68. Searching (III)
69. Vox Lux
70. Overlord
71. Solo: A Star Wars Story *
72. Tomb Raider (+)
73. Assassination Nation *
74. The Happytime Murders
75. The Guilty
76. Suspiria (I)
77. Johnny English Strikes Again
78. Ben Is Back
79. Ocean’s Eight
80. On the Basis of Sex *
81. Annihilation *
82. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (-)
83. K.G.F: Chapter 1
84. If Beale Street Could Talk
85. Colette (I) *
86. Alpha
87. The Possession of Hannah Grace
88. Christopher Robin
89. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms *
90. 2.0 *
91. Life Itself
92. Mandy (I)
93. Rampage (-)
94. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
95. Beautiful Boy
96. The Princess Switch
97. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
98. Sorry to Bother You
99. Red Sparrow
100. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Looking at this list, it is surprising to me how many I hadn’t heard about before, but I guess this is due to using the internet as my newssource, including for stuff like movie trailers.

Reading list

As many other readers, my appetite for books is greater than my reading list, and thus I have a pile of to-read books (both physically and virtually). I thought I’d give you a peak into what I am planning on reading until the end of the year and over the holidays. All of the links take you to Amazon Smile, which allows you to purchase books while supporting charity.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum. This has been on my radar for a while, but for some reason or another, I haven’t bought it until recently.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson. A classic science fiction book that somehow had gone under my radar.

Pratchett’s Women: Unauthorised Essays on Female Characters of the Discworld by Tansy Rayner Roberts.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. It has been highly recommended by several people as a must-read if you want to know more about race relations.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink.

Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenbery.

The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Beyond the Phoenix Project: The Origins and Evolution of DevOps (audio) by Gene Kim and John Willis.

Stiletto: A Novel (The Rook Files Book 2) by Daniel O’Malley. I greatly enjoyed the first book of this series, The Rook, but for some reason, I haven’t yet gotten around to read the second volume.

Podcast recommendations

I have come across a few interesting podcasts, that I thought I’d share with the rest of you.

The first of them, came to me via Tony, who recommended it. It is Uncivil, which is described thus:

A history podcast from Gimlet Media, where we go back to the time our divisions turned into a war, and bring you stories left out of the official history.

The second podcast, is really a series of episodes of a podcast. It is the Seeing White series of the Scene on Radio podcast.

Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring. Some of this feels new, but in truth it’s an old story.

Why? Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for?

Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, in this fourteen-part documentary series, released between February and August 2017. The series editor is Loretta Williams.

This was again a podcast that came to me via Tony.

Opening Arguments a podcast by Andrew Torres and Thomas Smith. A progressive podcast, focusing on legal matters. It describes itself thus:

Opening Arguments is the show that pairs a real-life, Harvard-educated lawyer (Andrew) with an inquisitive host (Thomas). Every episode, Thomas and Andrew take on a popular legal topic and give you all the tools you need to understand the issue and win every argument you have on Facebook, with your Uncle Frank, or wherever someone is wrong on the Internet.

Thomas and Andrew have tackled Hillary Clinton’s emails, Jill Stein’s recounts, the Emoluments clause, overtime regulations, Roe v. Wade, the wacky “sovereign citizen” movement, and much, much more!

It’s law. It’s politics. It’s fun. We don’t tell you what to think, we just set up the Opening Arguments.

A few weeks ago, I was at QED in Manchester, where I heard Hannah Fry give a brilliant talk. This made me look up her work, and I was reminded that she is one of the two hosts of The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry, a show that addresses listener questions from a scientific angle.

The Archaeological Fantasies Podcast describes itself thus:

Welcome to the Archaeological Fantasies Podcast. Join Sara Head and Doctors Ken Feder and Jeb Card as they explore the wild world of pseudoarchaeology. They look critically at topics ranging from Transoceanic travliers, Ancient Aliens, and Vikings in America, all the way to archaeological evidence of Big Foot.

Armistice Day – A hundred years ago

Denmark was not part of WWI, except in the lucrative profiteering role, so WWI is not really covered much in history classes – or at least, it was not when I was a kid. I have tried to make up for this, but I feel that I am not as knowledgeable of WWI as I should be.

One thing I know, however, was that it was an absolutely horrible war, with large numbers of young men getting killed. Reading books about life in the trenches, it becomes clear what an absolute nightmare it was to be there.

I don’t think I have ever come across anything that illustrates this better than this recording.

Even knowing that peace was just a minute away, the armies kept fighting, until silence comes, as the agreed upon time is reached.

Why? It is unfathomable to me why anyone would keep trying to kill other human beings once it has been agreed that there will be an armistice. Yet, the sound clip clearly shows that people kept fighting to the very end.

A hundred years ago, the guns fell silent, and people hoped it would be the last great war. This unfortunately wasn’t the case, as everyone knows, and as Putin, Trump, Brexit and other factors are de-stabilizing global politics, it is easy to fear that another “great” war is in the making.

Elections have consequences, so please vote

Back in 2016, US voters had the chance of voting against Trump, and unfortunately failed. The failure came in many forms, but can pretty much be summed up as not voting for the viable candidate running against him – by which I mean, that not enough people voted for Hillary Clinton.

A lot of us warned about the dangers of electing Trump, but many people didn’t take it seriously, so they either didn’t vote, voted 3rd party and in effect throwing their vote away in the presidential election, or even worse, voted for Trump as some kind of protest vote. Of course, many also voted for Trump because they supported him and his monstrous ideas.

Well, two years of Trump has clearly shown that all of worst fears have come to pass – he is a bumbling bigot, navigating the world of politics like a drunken sailor, offending allies, aiding enemies, and pretty much focusing on enriching himself, his family, and his allies.

Now, it is the mid-way elections in the US. This won’t give Americans the chance of removing Trump – for that we’ll have to wait for the 2020 elections – but it will give Americans a chance to reign in Trump, by giving him a political opposition.

So, this election, please vote, and please vote for the Democrats – at least on the federal level. On the state level, I’d also suggest voting for the Democrats, as the GOP generally has done a horrible job at governing states, but there might be the rare exception here and there.

This is the true Republican party

I guess most of my readers have followed the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. I am not going to comment on it here, as there are plenty of other people out there explaining why the hearings clearly shows that Kavanaugh is unsuitable for any judicial job.

Instead I am going to point out that it is worth observing the behavior of the Republican party. Even the so-called moderates among the Republicans are supporting Kavanaugh, even though he is clearly extremely partisan and unsuited for the role. In other words, they are putting politics over the greater good of society.

Democrats are willing to compromise when they are in power, Republicans are not.

Remember this. Remember this, and vote against the Republicans. Not just at the presidential elections, but at all elections.

We need the Democrats to gain enough seats to stop the Republicans from keep harming the country and to undo the harm they have already done. An impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh would be a good place to start (no matter the result of the hearings).

A piece of skeptic history on sale – the Cottingley Fairies hoax pictures

Hoaxes have been around forever, and most of the historic hoaxes have been forgotten by now – one historic hoax which is still remembered, however, is the Cottingley Fairies. One major reason for this, is probably because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got taken in, and defended the pictures.

Now it is possible to buy the historic hoax pictures. Or it is, if you have enought money.

Cottingley Fairies hoax pictures expected to fetch £2,000 at auction

Photographs of what is considered to be one of the greatest hoaxes of the 20th century are expected to fetch more than £2,000 when they are sold at auction.

The two images of the Cottingley Fairies were taken in July and September 1917 by 16-year-old Elsie Wright and her nine-year-old cousin Frances Griffiths, in the village of Cottingley, near Bingley in Yorkshire.

I would think that £2,000 is on the low end – I could easily see skeptics, Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle fans, and others go into a bidding war.

Sometimes simple truths are appreciated

I made a tweet a couple of days ago, that seems to be reasonably popular (more than 400 likes). Thought I’d share it (and the conversation it was part of) here as well

It is not a particular deep point, but apparently, it speaks more to people than my usual tweets.

Lazy linking

A few links to articles and blogposts that I think worth sharing

Laurie Penny has written a long-read article about not debating people: No, I Will Not Debate You

Civility will never defeat fascism, no matter what The Economist thinks.

Professor Julie Libarkin of Michigan State University has compiled a list of know harassers in academia

Rates of sexual abuse and harassment in academic science are second only to the military. It’s estimated that at least half of women faculty and staff face harassment and abuse and that 20 to 50 percent of women students in science, engineering, and medicine are abused by faculty. Those numbers are generally based on surveys, which are an important way of getting a handle on the problem and how it changes women’s career trajectories.

But when it comes to holding institutions accountable and making meaningful changes, naming perpetrators may be even more powerful.

Julie Libarkin has taken on the challenge of creating a database of harassers. She’s a professor at Michigan State University and she heads the Geocognition Research Laboratory. She’s compiled a list of some 700 cases of sexual misconduct in academia.

The human league: what separates us from other animals? by Adam Rutherford

You are an animal, but a very special one. Mostly bald, you’re an ape, descended from apes; your features and actions are carved or winnowed by natural selection. But what a special simian you are. Shakespeare crystallised this thought a good 250 years before Charles Darwin positioned us as a creature at the end of the slightest of twigs on a single, bewildering family tree that encompasses 4bn years, a lot of twists and turns, and 1 billion species.

Republicans hoped voters would forget they tried to kill Obamacare. They bet wrong. by Andy Slavitt

Andy Slavitt described his article thus on twitter:

Do you notice this phenomenon where your MOC behaves differently in odd numbered years and even numbered years? My @USATODAY column this week explains.

There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal-justice system is racist. Here’s the proof. by Radley Balko

This is very relevant to my earlier post about the need for a reform in the US judicial system.