Tag Archives: movies

The Future is Now

There is a “new” movie out starring Colin Ferrell called “Total Recall.”  I say it’s new, but in reality it is a remake of a 1990 movie named the same, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that is neither here nor there.  For those who may not know it is a science fiction movie filled with all sorts of fanciful technologies and some of the hazards that could come about as a result of those technologies.  That is about as short and lacking in detail plot summary that one could give this story — I don’t really want to ruin it for those who haven’t seen either iterations of this movie.  One of the things in this, and other sci-fi movies, are some sort of animatronic, or holographic “people” that are there to assist the living people in some fashion or another.  I remember in 1977 watching Star Wars and R2-D2 projected a hologram of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) saying, “Help Me Obi Wan, you’re my only hope,” and as a young child way back then I thought that was something pretty cool, but even though the technology was real back then the thought of it being a part of our everyday lives still seemed light-years away.  Well, it appears that the future is now.

Meet Marie, and she is the newest “employee” at New York LaGuardia International Airport.  The thing about Marie though is that she is not a real person; I can only presume that she is based on a real person.  Marie is essentially a hologram, though her creators call her an avatar (thinking of another sci-fi movie right now?).  Marie’s “job” is not to ward off invaders or plead for the help of an aged Jedi, it is decidedly less dramatic, she is there at the entrance of LaGuardia to greet passengers and inform them as to where they can find such things as baggage claim, check-in, and other boring, but useful airport like information.  So, while it isn’t as fascinating as a sci-fi thriller, it is fascinating none-the-less, but that is coming from a guy who is old enough to have seen Star Wars in the theater way back in 1977, so maybe I am just dated (obsolete)?

Supermassive Black Holes and Hot-Dogs Uncovered by WISE

“Space; the final frontier . . .”  Yes, those are the four opening words to the sci-fi franchise, Star Trek, and for the hugely loyal fan base of that long running and multi-generational franchise, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if upon hearing those four words, they don’t get that tingly sensation running down their spines.

Star Trek, as well as other famous sci-fi franchises, have done many things towards the inspiring of future scientists, astronauts, and other space related fields, which is a good thing.  This, and other, space related sci-fi movies, TV shows, and books have allowed countless people to indulge in the wonderment of what might be out there beyond Earth, and her solar system.  Most of the time these movies, shows, and books focus largely on the possibilities of and encounters with life forms that are obviously not of this world and that is a very cool possibility, to be sure.  However, there are “things” out there in outer space that are known, and yet not very much is known about them.

These things are supermassive black holes and super-hot galaxies, which are called Hot Dogs, believe it or not.  Well, scientists have suspected the existence of these things, and recently confirmed their existence, and now are trying to understand their creation, development, and how they have aided in the formation of galaxies.

Thanks to the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) they are now getting some valuable information, and discovering that supermassive black holes, as well as their “smaller” kin, are not so hard to find anymore, leading one astrophysicist to declare, “We’ve got black holes cornered…”  The hot-DOGs have been decidedly more shy however, requiring this precise instrument called WISE to literally scan the entire sky to find just 1,000 of them; some of which can outshine the sun, “by a factor of 100 trillion.”  But, unfortunately there is still no evidence of ET’s flying around the cosmos — but then again, neither are we.

 

Movies with Smoking in them Should Get an “R” Rating

By now I think we all know that smoking is not exactly what one can call a healthy habit.  I mean you are inhaling smoke for crying out loud!  If that was not bad for you then why do firefighters wear a breathing apparatus?  All of that being said though, I think that if you wish to smoke then that is your business.  The question that hangs out there though is what should be done to discourage young people from smoking?  Many believe that once tobacco and its insidious sidekick nicotine gets their grip on our young people then they will be hooked FOREVER.

Okay, that is a little cynical hyperbole on my part, and I really do not want to down play the serious health consequence of smoking, nor do I want to make out like I don’t think steps shouldn’t be taken to discourage not just our youth, but anyone, from picking up this bad habit.  However, I think that some steps people are willing to take towards discouragement border a little on the despotic side of things.

For example there is a recent study that showed a statistical link between scenes with smoking in movies and the increased likelihood of children 10 to 14 years in experimenting with tobacco; which lead Doctor James D. Sargent to push for all movies with scenes of smoking in them to receive an automatic “R” rating.  Umm, okay, but seriously?!  First of all these kids are only 10 to 14 years old, so the question that needs to be asked is who in the hell is buying these cigarettes for them?  Now I am not naïve enough or too old to know that kids have ways in getting things that they aren’t supposed to, but there is your deeper problem right there, not the film industry.  Maybe it is an older sibling that buys these kids their smokes?  If it is I am willing to bet that that older sibling smokes too, and presto there ladies and gentlemen is the real culprit, not Brad Pitt.  Again, I understand the sentiment and want to prevent young people from smoking, I do, I really do, but putting an “R” rating on all movies that shows someone smoking is not going to have a sizeable impact on the issue.  Besides, kids in that age group routinely see rated “R” movies, so it isn’t like doing this would prevent them from seeing those smoking scenes.  Short of putting all our youngsters on a pristine secluded island, where they would be isolated from all of the ills of society, I really don’t think we are going to see much of a change in their behavior — oh wait, that would be very much like “Lord of the Flies;” and that turned out oh so well.

 

For $17.3 Million You Can Buy a James Bond Style Secret Base

I love the James Bond franchise of movies, sure if you are a cinema snob then you more than likely pull your nose up to many, if not all of the films in this long standing series; however if you simply enjoy a fun, and at times campy piece of escapism then more than likely you enjoy the James Bond movies too.  There are few (if any) franchises that have spanned as many years as James Bond, and because of this long span there has been a need to “update” (replace) who plays the title character of these movies, and thus far there have been six James Bonds in the history of these movies:  Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and the current Daniel Craig.  Because of all those different actors playing the titular role of these movies there are debates amongst many Bond fans as to who is the best 007.

I myself like Sean Connery the best.  This is because many of the Bond movies he was in created a fanciful world with apparently well financed evil organizations bent on world domination, such as SPECTRE.  The evil organizations had secret hideaways and bases that were elaborate and so big that it is hard to imagine that no one knew where they were, even with the technological limitations of the 1960’s; but the movies weren’t necessarily about realism, as they were about escapism.  I don’t they were ever meant to be too thought provoking or to provide any more of a message than the simple good versus evil.  As a kid watching those early James Bond movies I used to think it would be totally cool to have a base similar to those portrayed in the Bond films; not because I wanted to take over the world, but because let’s face it, they were damn cool; as were all of James Bond’s cool gadgets.

Well, apparently if you were like me and thought that having your own “secret” base would be just too awesome, then your dream may have just come true.  For a mere $17.3 million you can purchase a retired, now not so secret submarine base in Norway.  Looking at the pictures it totally reminds me of many of the secret bases Sean Connery’s James Bond had to infiltrate back in those early Bond films.  Too bad I already spent my (fictional) $17.3 million on other things, but I am sure there will be someone more than willing to pony up the cash for this “secret” base.

Radioactive Tuna Caught, No Signs of Godzilla … Yet

If you are a movie fan, particularly the so called “B” movies, then you are no doubt familiar with and more than likely a fan of the Japanese “Godzilla” monster movies.  I remember watching them as a kid and thinking that they were pretty damn cool, even though I could tell that the giant lizard and his foes were obviously dudes dressed in rubber suits.  Combine the decidedly less than “Star Wars” special effects with the poorly dubbed dialogue, and less than stellar acting, these movies never were, and never will be considered “Oscar worthy” creations, but despite all of these faults they were and are still a lot of campy fun.

For those of you not familiar with these movies, the gist is this.  Godzilla was the result of a mutation caused by nuclear radiation, which caused this lizard to grow to its gargantuan size and enabled it with the ability to shoot a concentrated radioactive beam from his mouth; and due to these mutations he wreaks havoc upon Tokyo leaving a swath of destruction before eventually being repelled back into the sea from where he came.  The movie is supposed to be a parable showing the dangers of nuclear technology, though that message tends to get lost in the mentioned crappy dubbed dialogue, bad scripts, and equally bad acting.

Now, what if I were to tell you that radioactive creatures have been pulled from the sea recently as a result of the Fukushima nuclear reactor leak caused by the massive earthquake off the coast of Japan last year?  Fishermen off the coast of California have caught Bluefin tuna that have measurable levels of cesium-134 and cesium-137 in their flesh, leading one scientist to say that, “We are frankly kind of startled,” by this discovery.  However we are told that the levels of radiation in these fish are in small enough amounts to where they can still be cooked and eaten…  Um, I think I will pass on that, because I don’t want some angry mutant lizard seeking revenge for his fallen mutant fish friends to come ashore and destroy a city.

 

Bionic Eyes are Straight out of Star Trek

Star Trek, that television show (and Movies) as well as its various spin-offs are among the most popular science fiction enterprises ever.  I myself as more of a Star Wars fan (only the original three though) but that is largely because those movies came out when I was most impressionable, and I enjoy the actual theme of them; you know the whole good vs. evil thing.  That theme was essentially absent in the Star Trek universe.  It was more of a peacenik-y, non-judgmental theme.  Even the supposed bad guys, the Romulans and the Klingons were given justifiable reasons for their actions.  Every episode and almost every movie seemed to want to teach a lesson in “can’t we all just get along?”  While, Star Wars followed the age old black and white struggle of good guys against bad guys.  I know there is no way to convince a Trekkie that Star Wars is better, and vice versa, to me Star Wars is just more entertaining.

All of that personal opinion stuff aside, there is one area where I think Star Trek trumps Star Wars though, and that is in the realm of techy type stuff.  What I mean by that is that Star Trek has always had this almost predictive quality with most all of its gadgets; Star Wars is kind of lacking in that area.  Sure the light saber is cool, but can you honestly tell me that in the Star Trek universe they couldn’t build one if they wanted one (aside from possible trade mark infringements)?  What I am referring to is the fact that in the original television series Capt. Kirk and the gang used a lot of stuff that later pretty much became a reality.  Things like flip phones, mobile medical examination equipment, and computer disks all eventually came to market.  In “The Next Generation” we are still waiting for some of the things to arrive, but we have already got some things, like our Bluetooth devices are close to Picard’s Star Fleet insignia/communicator, and we have Geordi LaForge’s eyes.

Yep, Doctors in England have successfully put bionic implants in two blind patients thus restoring their vision — kind of.  While Geordi’s eyes were far more capable than the human eye, these new bionic eyes are less capable than the human eye.  What the recipients of these bionic eyes get is a grainy black and white image, but according to the patients they are more than satisfied with being able to see anything again over the world of darkness they were in.  It will be no time what so ever before the technology improves and maybe eventually these eyes will be better than the human eye.  Now if we can only get those whole warp engine and teleporter things working…