Archive for category Entertainment

Explore The World Through Radio

Radio Garden

This is a really great idea I wish I’d had. It’s called “Radio Garden” and let’s you sort of Google radio stations from around the world. Next best thing to short wave radio, which I wanted, but never had as a kid. Mostly music though. Sound quality is decent, so put on your good headphones.

You can use the + and – signs on the bottom left, or your mouse wheel, to zoom in or out, and spin the world around by holding down the left mouse button and moving the pointer, or just click once on any of the thousands of dots to check them out.

Thought people could use a vacation from the worst election in American history.

Click on the image to begin!

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Matt Harding Checks In

We had a visit from Matt in 2012, out at the Great Salt Lake where we got to dance in the lake. Salt Lake City didn’t make the cut for the final video, but we were included in the out-takes. Maybe we can get him to come back?

I dance with people all over the world and put it on YouTube to show that the world is safer and friendlier than we’re led to believe.

If you’ve seen my videos and they’ve meant something to you, I hope you’ll support my new project. Here’s the Kickstarter page:

This time, YOU tell me where to go. Your pledge will count as a vote for where you live, and I’ll come out to dance in the cities with the most backers.

I look forward to dancing with you soon!


More info:


‘Tyrant’ Season 2

Season 1 of the FX series “Tyrant” was focused on some naive and ham-handed efforts to bring American-style democracy to the fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin, leading up to an attempted coup d’etat covertly backed by the U.S. embassy. The second season raises the stakes even higher.

Dominic Patten:

As the newly installed President of Abbudin, Jamal Al-Fayeed (Ashraf Barhom) was by far the most interesting thing about the first season, even as the focus seemed to be on his estranged, Americanized and now-returned brother Bassam aka Barry (Adam Rayner). Well now, with Barry’s coup plans having failed, Jamal has sought new powers and new allies, which has put pedal the dictatorship metal – all of which makes for a better show.

Tyrant Jamal starts off this season by using chemical weapons to wipe out the local anti-government insurgency, but co-producers Gideon Raff and Howard Gordon have introduced a new threat, in the form of a certain extremist jihadist group based in… Raqqa, Syria and led by the shadowy Abu Omar. They call themselves “The Caliphate,” and their pickup trucks fly red flags, but these guys are just as bloodthirsty as ISIS.

It will be interesting to see how successful the American-supported Abbudin military will be in defending the regime. And whether the show can keep from getting bogged down in soap-opera sub-plots.

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Because a Policy is Wildly Unpopular in America Doesn’t Mean It Won’t Happen


Consumerist’s Worst Company In America for 2014 (you guessed Comcast, didn’t you? – right on!) is trying to get bigger and more powerful. Where is democracy when we need it?

Comcast is trying to merge with another of America’s largest cable and Internet providers, Time Warner Cable. The proposed Comcast-TWC merger would create a juggernaut of a company that almost no one would be able to compete with. The merged company — which will be named Comcast — would control more than two-thirds of all cable television subscriptions in the country, and some 40% of the home Internet market.


Survey after survey shows that Americans wholeheartedly oppose the proposed merger. The latest survey, by Consumer Reports, finds nearly three-quarters of Americans believe it will result in higher cable and Internet rates, while two-thirds say it will likely have a negative impact on customer service and that Comcast would have no incentive to improve.

Let’s recall that Comcast is an enemy of net neutrality, which they underscored by the Netflix shakedown last summer. They are notorious for throttling your Internet connection. Comcast is currently trying to turn user home routers into publicly-accessible hotspots without telling customers. Their prices are too high (but it’s a local monopoly controlled by nobody). And of course their customer “service” is totally evil.

Will the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice roll over and play dead, letting this merger go through? Stay tuned.

More info:
You Thought Comcast Couldn’t Get Any Worse? Think Again
When Your Cable Company Attacks: Why Comcast Abuses Its Customers
Insults directed at consumers are proof that Comcast is rotten to the core.


Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’

Gargantuan black hole

“Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan’s ninth film, is the most ambitious thing he’s ever done (this is the director of “Inception” we’re talking about here). It’s a $165 million visual masterpiece about an ambitious attempt to save the human race, trapped on a dying Earth. The science is shaky to say the least, and there’s an excess of melodrama IMHO. But it’s well worth seeing. Features include:

  • Big ideas
  • Terrific cast & acting
  • Plenty of plot twists
  • No sound in space (like “2001: A Space Odyssey”)
  • A wormhole to another galaxy
  • Time dilation
  • A gargantuan black hole (which doubles as a plot hole)

And Matthew McConaughey gets to say, “We don’t have time to argue about relativity right now.”


‘Daylight Saving’ – Movie Trailer

This November, they call it Daylight Saving but the thing that needs saving…is us! (via Nacho Punch).

“Daylight Saving” will not be in theaters (I think). So many movie trailers beg the question, “Is this an actual movie or a joke?” The first time I remember thinking that was when I saw the trailer for “The Postman” (1997). More recently, to cite some random examples, trailers for “Snakes on a Plane” (2006), “Battleship” (2012) the movie based on the board game, and “Casa de mi Padre” (2012) made me wonder.

Daniel O’Brien offers this thought:

Some filmmakers are embracing this idea of movies being designed to be consumed ironically, while other filmmakers are just making shitty movies. And the frustrating thing is that there is no observable difference between the two. Once upon a time, I could finish watching a trailer and my only thought would either be “That was good” or “That was bad.” Now, I watch most trailers and I just scratch my head, thinking, “Hey, filmmakers: Did you really mean that? …Is any of this a joke?”

What are your favorite “is this really a movie” trailers?


“Fury” – Best Tank Movie Yet

“Fury” is the best tank movie Hollywood has done to date (“Fury” is the crew’s name for their later-model M4A3E8 Sherman, also known as an “Easy Eight”). Of course, it’s still a Hollywood production; when Brad Pitt takes off his CVC (combat vehicle crewman) helmet, every hair on his head is neatly combed! And while the plot has elements of realism (how many lieutenants have made the mistake of putting their own tank at the head of the column?) it’s way too melodramatic. This film is very violent, as you might expect. Warfare can be horrifying, that’s why soldiers get PTSD.

Like a lot of movies today, the special effects are the best part. The actors do a credible job, especially Brad Pitt as SSGT Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, and Logan Lerman as Norman Ellison, a clerk-typist newly assigned to the crew of “Fury” (and the guy the audience can identify with, because like most people he’s never seen the inside of a tank before). One thing that’s definitely NOT a special effect is the real German Tiger tank that makes its Hollywood debut (up to now, the “Tigers” you have seen in contemporary feature films have been modified Russian T-34 tanks). This one is an actual Panzerkampfwagen VI.

I had the somewhat bizarre experience of leading a tank platoon across Bavaria as a member of the 2d Armored Division’s 66th regiment (the same unit the fictional Wardaddy was assigned to). Except I did it in 1978, not 1945. We didn’t ask any Germans what they thought of us, because the answer to that question would have to be complicated and hard to understand. As Wardaddy says in the film, “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.”

More info:
Fury (2014) – IMDb


Half of the Country Hasn’t Taken a Vacation Day Yet In 2014

The Go-Go’s – Vacation from Dan Hunter on Vimeo.

h/t Think Progress.

From the travel website Skift:

We asked Americans, using Google Consumer Surveys, “Heading into Fall, how many vacation days have you taken so far this year?” The majority, almost 51 percent, say they haven’t taken a single vacation day in 2014 so far.

About 15 percent of Americans say they have taken more than 10 vacation days this year, while the rest is split between those who took fewer than 5, and those who took between 5-10 vacation days this year.

The other topline result from the breakdown, as you will see in the charts below: Women, young, old,and the lower-income Americans are the ones taking the least amount of vacations.

Of course, nearly 1 in 4 US workers don’t get any paid vacation days.

Nearly a quarter of the American private-sector workforce, some 26 million workers, doesn’t get paid time off, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — compared with less than one-fifth in the 1990s.The United States is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation and one of only 13 countries in the world not to do so, according to the World Policy Analysis Center at the University of California Los Angeles.

The American middle class was great, while it lasted.


‘Game of Thrones’ is Back

Game of Thrones

Season 4 of the best show on TV, “Game of Thrones,” began last night. Normally-evil Comcast actually let their customers watch the premiere episode, “Two Swords,” without having to subscribe to HBO. HBO’s online service, HBO GO, crashed.

The story picked up with the melting down of Ned Stark’s heirloom Valyrian sword “Ice,” and ended with Arya Stark recovering “Needle,” the sword that was stolen from her. In between, we caught up with Dany’s dragons and her army marching towards Meereen. Jaime Lannister is back at King’s Landing, but he’s a changed man and it’s not the same as when he left. His brother Tyrion is trying to cope with the arrival from Dorne of Prince Oberyn (aka the Red Viper), seeking revenge. Jon Snow has returned to Castle Black, carrying a warning of imminent attack by the wildling army of Mance Rayder.

If you haven’t seen “Game of Thrones,” you’re missing one of the best TV series ever.

More info:
Everything You Need To Know For ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 4

Recap: ‘Game of Thrones,’ Season Four, Episode One: “Two Swords”


Right-Wing Loves Inequality in RL But Not on Movie Screens


“Elysium,” Director Neill Blomkampf’s dystopian vision of a 2154 where the poor (including Matt Damon) are condemned to live on the planet-wide shantytown on the Earth’s surface, while the rich dwell in comfort on an orbiting space station is inspiring a right-wing freakout.

Newsmax attacked the film for being “sci-fi socialism.” Rush Limbaugh denounced “Elysium” as “a full-fledged anti-capitalist, pro-socialism movie.”

Breitbart News claims the movie is chock full of decidedly 2013-era liberal propaganda on issues including illegal immigration and universal health care.

“Particularly towards the end, the political messages are just so overt, I don’t know how you can watch it without thinking of current events and connecting the dots that the director obviously intended to connect,” says Breitbart’s Christian Toto.

“It’s not just hypocritical to say this movie isn’t political, it’s hilarious,” Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, told Faux News’ 411. “Filmmakers wear their politics on their sleeves, but it helps their careers to push liberal agendas.”

Roger Schlafly of Eagle Forum argues that both “Elysium” and Brad Pitt’s “World War Z” “seem to be saying that the Earth is being overrun by barbarians, and the only way to preserve a civilized society is to build walls to keep out the intruders, and to kill them when they try to invade.” He claims “Elysium” is “a warning against unrestricted immigration.” He suggests that “World War Z” has a similar message and that its zombie invasion is an allegory for immigration.

Entertainment Weekly opined, “If you are a member of the 1%, ‘Elysium’ is a horror movie. For everyone else, it’s one step shy of a call to arms.”

Sci-fi fans will tell you, good science fiction isn’t really about the future. Like Blomkampf’s first film “District 9,” “Elysium” is a reflection of the present.

UPDATE: Media Matters:

Conservatives aren’t angered by the political subtext they see in Elysium. They’re angry that it’s an accurate portrayal of the world their ideology will ultimately create — and that is a reality they cannot confront.


World’s Fastest Liars/Losers

Glenn Beck vs John Fund collaborate before the Obama win in 2012.

Who won the contest? There were – state of the art – roving cameras covering the event.

Who were those other guys at the keyboards?

Whose skull was that in the Oval Office – looking – scene?

Why, OH WHY, does George Soros keep letting Donald Duck vote?


Kathryn Bigelow’s Torture Movie #1 At Box Office

Zero Dark Thirty

It’s the height of irony that after the CIA illegally destroyed nearly 100 video recordings of torture sessions to avoid being held accountable, the number one movie in American theaters this weekend devotes most of its first hour to a Hollywood re-creation. Director Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-nominated film “Zero Dark Thirty” [Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the film and don’t intend to] turns torture into entertainment:

Those scenes …show terrified, disoriented and bloodied detainees kept awake for days on end by having their arms painfully suspended from the ceilings of secret jails; stuffed into tiny wooden boxes when they don’t cooperate with their inquisitors; and waterboarded on soiled mattresses while interrogators bark questions.

Bigelow ignores both the illegality and immorality of using torture. As if that’s not bad enough, “Zero Dark Thirty” delivers the message that it was CIA torture that led to finding Osama bin Laden’s hiding place in Pakistan. This is factually wrong. The statement “based on first-hand accounts of actual events” is deceptive because it causes the viewer to think the story is accurate, when what it really means is “based on CIA propaganda.”

In reality:

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program concluded that the CIA did not first learn about the existence of the bin Laden courier from CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques and that the CIA detainee who provided the most accurate information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin have requested information and documents related to the CIA’s cooperation in the making of this film, which lies to the American people about one of the most critical issues of the Bush administration: the criminal use of torture by the CIA, for which no one has ever been prosecuted. We know that on many occasions, detainees were tortured to death in secret CIA prisons.

Sony Chairman Amy Pascal tried to refute criticism of “Zero Dark Thirty” by a member of the Oscar voting academy on Friday, saying her studio’s movie “does not advocate torture.” No one has claimed that it does – only that it lies about torture.

UPDATE: Kevin Gosztola on FDL:

[I]t is impossible not to conclude that this film is the kind of production that greatly pleases the national security state especially because it does not question what they do.

…This is the hunt for Bin Laden told with information from officials in government, who have no objection to America’s increased reliance on secret war or covert operations. Bigelow and Boal wanted the information necessary to tell the version of the story that they believed to be true in a way that would garner them high praise. The CIA gave them that while at the same time manipulating them into presenting torture tactics used to create learned helplessness in prisoners as part of the timeline of events that eventually led to Bin Laden. They showed the NSA intercepting communications and the dolly shot past hardware with wires and cords popping out is made completely innocuous and acceptable. A scene shows a video screen with imagery from a drone striking a target and Maya looks on coldly, completely numbed by the lethal use of force.

The filmmakers played their part. They were given access and what Americans are flocking to this weekend is nothing that would alienate the officials they collaborated with and nothing less than a conventional story of revenge on an American enemy.


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