Sunday Reads: It’s a Fluff Piece!

Good Morning!

As the title suggests, today’s morning reads are going to be mostly fluff…

Late last night I was sitting in our local Banjoville Mickey D’s, it was around midnight and the only people in the joint were a group of cheerleaders from the night’s football game and my family. What a scene…On the TV screen was Fox News, which is no surprise given the conservative “Christian” clientele…the TV was on mute, the CC subtitles were on, but the sound system was playing a medieval Gregorian chant.  And they had that music turned way up!

They must have it going for a reason…perhaps to make sure the good ol boy country folks won’t linger after they eat their burgers. So here we sit in this empty fast food restaurant, and my mother begins to talk about the book she is reading, The Brothers Karamazov. Only she called it The Brothers Kamikaze, and she didn’t catch the slip.

It was like a surreal episode from an early Twilight Zone…I felt completely detached, as if I was watching the scene like a spectator. And all the while, the monks are singing in Latin, Fox news has this guy with way too much Botox in his brow and forehead…jabbering on about the difference between Mormons and the real Jesus loving Christians, and my mother going on about the cruel nihilist characteristics of the Kamikaze brothers…

That is a perfect description of how I feel about this morning’s post, it is going to be a mix of links that don’t really add up to anything substantial.

First let’s get the soundtrack started, no not monks… but piranhas. New Study Finds Piranhas Talk To Each Other via Barking | Geekosystem

Red-bellied piranhas are already scary enough, but it turns out that these hyper-aggressive carnivorous fish are also quite the talkers. Using hydrophones to record the fish in captivity, Eric Parmentier from Belgium’s Université de Liège recorded a series of sounds that suggest the fish have a lexicon of audio signals produced in a rather unique way. The study has recently been published in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

The researchers were able to identify three distinct sounds, or “barks,” produced by the fish. In their research, they found that these barks were repeated in similar situations, suggesting that the sounds carry some kind of meaning. For instance, a low grunting sound seemed to signal other piranhas to keep their distance from the barking fish. A rhythmic thud bark, the researchers found, was associated with circling and fighting other fish. Lastly, chasing and nipping fish seemed to be the final level of signaling with a soft creating sound produced by their gnashing their teeth.

But here is the kicker, the fish are using their swim bladders to produce sound…for some reason when I read this I immediately thought of a beginning bag pipe player.

Previous piranha projects had revealed that the fish’s swim bladder — the organ that allows fish to adjust their boyancy in the water — was used to produce sound.

Using the swim bladder as a starting point, Parmentier’s team found that stimulating the muscles around the organ produced sound. Once the stimulation ceased, so did the sound. This is significant since it showed that the muscles were creating the sound and the bladder was not resonating, in which case the sound would have continued after the muscles ceased moving. It also showed that the frequency and pitch of the barks were determined entirely on the muscle contractions.

There is a link to a National Geographic video of the fish making the sounds…neat stuff.  I especially like the subtitles…Get away…Let’s Fight… I’m gonna kick your ass…and Hey Baby, let’s get it on.

On to the latest study that asked the question:  Did Columbus Cause Europe’s Little Ice Age? | Informed Comment

This story is irresistible for a world historian interested in climate change. Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford, argues that the European advent in the New World, which killed 90% of the 80 million native Americans, caused the Little Ice Age.

The native peoples of the New World burned a lot of wood. When they largely didn’t exist anymore, because they suffered high mortality from a host of European diseases to which they had no immunity, they stopped putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Instead, forests grew rapidly since they weren’t being chopped down anymore, and land wasn’t being cleared for agriculture. Forests take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, plus they fix some carbon dioxide in the soil. They are what is called a “carbon sink,” though not a really efficient one, since much of the carbon they take out of the atmosphere eventually finds its way back there. I suspect the dramatic fall-off in the burning of fossil fuels was the much more important cause here.

Less carbon dioxide reduces the “greenhouse effect” making the earth cooler.

An alternative theory is that reduced solar activity contributed to the cooling in the 1600s and 1700s. And the warming period of 900-1300 may have already been reversed in part by the Black Death in Europe and the Middle East, which wiped out one third of the population and would have reduced carbon emissions. Of course all these causes could have operated together.

And when you think of what the little ice age caused, it is clear that climate does affect out history and our future.

During the Little Ice age in Britain, people used to go ice skating on the Thames in the winter. Agriculture was badly hurt by shorter growing seasons, causing famines and violent competition over resources– i.e. wars and revolutions. Scandinavia, which had been a major player in world affairs during the warm centuries 900-1300– ruling Ireland and Sicily (where Vikings fought Arabs) and discovering North America– rapidly declined in significance as it froze over. Famously, there were bread famines in France in the 1780s that likely contributed to the outbreak of the French Revolution.

Give the article a read, Cole goes on to discuss other historical wars and famine and exploration that may find its sources in climate changes. I remember when the Egypt rising was taking place, there were articles talking about how the age of a population relates to various uprisings, wars and revolutions throughout history. It makes me think of this young group of people who have started a global occupation protest against austerity and big banksters. Interesting isn’t it?

Moving on from global warming and cooling, to salt.  Decadent Meal Made Entirely From Salt | Geekosystem

This monochromatic tableau is part of a new exhibition featuring the work of Ken and Julia Yonetani called Sense of Taste, currently on display at the GV Art gallery in London. Modeled after a traditional still life painting, this sculpture presents a decadent meal of cheese, fruit, wine, fresh fish, and lobster. However, it is made entirely out of salt.

Beautiful…what a picture. Click that link for some more cool images of sculptures made of salt and a quick description of how they do it.

I have more gorgeous images for you, this time pictures of movie legend Carole Lombard.  She Blogged By Night: Carole Lombard


Lombard really was beautiful and compelling, wasn’t she?

Oh yes, she sure was. More pictures at the link above.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  Sticking with the movie theme, some of you may have seen The Ides of March this weekend, here is a review that I thought many of you would appreciate.  The Ides of March Has A Woman Problem | Mediaite

I went in to The Ides of March wanting to like it. I really wanted to! It has West Wing-esque political drama, following a candidate and his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President. It boasts a stellar cast including George Clooney and (feminist!) Ryan Gosling. It has already garnered significant Oscar buzz and is seen as a potential Best Picture contender. But five minutes in, it became glaringly obvious that even the combined star power of Clooney and Gosling couldn’t save this film from its major problem: the women.

In a cast full of all-star talent, there are two women in this movie and both characters are vapid, one-dimensional, and function only to prop up the male characters. As the film opens, the first female character (Evan Rachel Wood) is bringing coffee to a team entirely of men – she’s an intern. From what I can see in the film she is the only woman working on the entire campaign – was it really necessary to make her an intern?

Comparing this movie to The Social Network, which I thought showed women in a negative light, this movie is about a subject that is definitely a mans world, but the ceiling has received a few cracks in the last election…

And while American politics is still largely dominated by men – it has come a long way in the last several years, farther than the all-dude environment in Ides would lead you to believe. There have been dozens of prominent women running for office and even more working on campaigns in the last few election cycles: there have been Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, and countless others. Patti Solis Doyle ran the Clinton campaign in 2007 and Donna Brazile ran the Gore campaign in 2000, to name just a couple. Yet nowhere in do the writers even consider the possibility that women may have had something worthwhile to contribute to politics.

Yes, wasn’t there a female president on West Wing? Maybe I am just thinking about something else. Even this election cycle, it seems plain to me that the US still isn’t ready for a female president. And if the war against women escalates, it will only make it harder for us to have that Madame President in the White House.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  This article in Salon really spoke to me, and since we’ve been talking about moving pictures…it is the perfect way to end this fluff post.  R.I.P., the movie camera: 1888-2011 – Salon.com

Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille  (Credit: doctormacro.com)

Major manufacturers have ceased production of new motion picture film cameras; cinema as we once knew it is dead

We might as well call it: Cinema as we knew it is dead.

An article at the moviemaking technology website Creative Cow reports that the three major manufacturers of motion picture film cameras — Aaton, ARRI and Panavision — have all ceased production of new cameras within the last year, and will only make digital movie cameras from now on.  As the article’s author, Debra Kaufman, poignantly puts it, “Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”

This is heartbreaking, and makes me think of the time when vinyl records went with the wind…

…Cinema is not just a medium. It is a language. Its essence — storytelling with shots and cuts, with or without sound — will survive the death of the physical material, celluloid, that many believed was inseparably linked to it. The physical essence of analog cinema won’t survive the death of film (except at museums and repertory houses that insist on showing 16mm and 35mm prints).

But digital cinema will become so adept at mimicking the look of film that within a couple of decades, even cinematographers may not be able to tell the difference. The painterly colors, supple gray scale, hard sharpness and enticing flicker of motion picture film were always important (if mostly unacknowledged) parts of cinema’s mass appeal. The makers of digital moviemaking equipment got hip to that in the late ’90s, and channeled their research and development money accordingly; it’s surely no coincidence that celluloid-chauvinist moviegoers and moviemakers stopped resisting the digital transition once they realized that the new, electronically-created movies could be made to look somewhat like the analog kind, with dense images, a flickery frame rate, and starkly defined planes of depth.

But let’s not kid ourselves: Now that analog filmmaking is dead, an ineffable beauty has died with it. Let’s raise two toasts, then — one to the glorious past, and one to the future, whatever it may hold.

Well, that is all I can do this early morning. (It is almost 3 am here in Banjoland and I am barely keeping my eyes open.) So what are you reading about today? I bet there is some real hard news in this cycle, let’s hear about some articles you have found this morning…

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25 Comments on “Sunday Reads: It’s a Fluff Piece!”

  1. seagirl says:

    Good morning Minkoff Minx! As always, you put together a bunch of interesting articles of human interest. Thanks for all your efforts. Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate Dakinikat, and also welcome Peggy Sue (I often read her thoughtful comments at J. Smart) and Quixote (hope he writes more).

    Thanks too for covering OWS – BB’s recent post was brief but encapsulated my thoughts and feelings on the matter. It’s been disconcerting to read how dismissive others have been, and I just can’t help thinking some people seem to prefer wallowing in their hatred rather than be pro-active, now that there is an opportunity. (BTW I’m not pro-Obama but a Hillary fan). It took me some time to understand the methods of OWS – but now that I do I have become more hopeful. I am outside the US but we are just as concerned here in Asia because this financial crisis is hitting everyone. (well the 99%).

    I apologize for this long post, as I can hardly write because of the time difference. But I really love love SKY DANCING!

  2. seagirl says:

    I’m sorry – that was Dak’s post I was referring to! (good thing I went back to check before going to bed). But this is what she wrote which should be repeatedly said to all who doubt:

    I dare any one associated with the Tea Party to compare the size, scope, and level of independence shown in this movement to their own. Clearly, this is not being orchestrated by (but) genuine outrage against the excesses of the modern financial system and the few people that are rewarded by the funds it leeches from the real sector of the economy.

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    There is an article over at WSJ that you all may find interesting, personally I am too apathetic this morning to actually give a damn. Maybe it is because I woke up to another crappy day in the neighborhood? Perhaps I need to focus more on the possibilities this Occupy movement could bring. Anyway, you can decide:
    The Weekend Interview with Mortimer Zuckerman: The Exasperation of the Democratic Billionaire – WSJ.com

    We are sitting on the 18th floor of a skyscraper the day after protesters have marched on the homes of other Manhattan billionaires. It may seem odd that most of the targeted rich people had nothing to do with creating the financial crisis. But as Mr. Zuckerman ponders the Occupy Wall Street movement, he concludes that “the door to it was opened by the Obama administration, going after the ‘millionaires and billionaires’ as if everybody is a millionaire and a billionaire and they didn’t earn it. . . . To fan that flame of populist anger I think is very divisive and very dangerous for this country.”

    This doesn’t mean that Mr. Zuckerman opposes the protesters or questions their motives. When pressed, he concedes that the crowd in Lower Manhattan may include some full-time radicals, but he argues that the protesters are people with a legitimate grievance, as the country suffers high unemployment and stagnant middle-class incomes.
    [...]
    Mr. Zuckerman says that when you also consider the labor-force participation rate and the so-called “birth-death series” that measures business starts and failures, the real U.S. unemployment rate is now 20%. His voice rising with equal parts anger and sadness, he exclaims, “That’s not America!”

    He also had this to say about Obama’s jobs bill:

    “Even if you want to do this to revive your support in the base, to revive your credibility on the issues of the economy and jobs, which has fallen off the table, this isn’t going to accomplish it. Another speech from this guy? The country knows this is just another speech. They understand it almost instantaneously, and his numbers have continued to go down for that reason. What the country wanted was some way of coming up with a solution.”

    Oh, as Dak has pointed out repeatedly, to the point of exasperation…there is a solution, it is just a matter of doing it, which I feel will never happen because that would mean going against the money men who put the politician in office.

    Ironic how that is one of the issues the occupiers are fed up with.

    I just have to say that when I see that picture of Cecil B DeMille it makes me think of that line in Blazing Saddles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_B._DeMille

    Gene Wilder’s gunslinger character says of himself, “I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille.” This was in reference to DeMille’s disregard for the safety of his actors.

  4. Minkoff Minx says:

    OpEdNews – Diary: Don’t Reward Betrayal: Dump Oligarch Obama

    Obama has done nothing whatsoever to foster the well-being of the people of the United States. On the contrary he has served solely the interests of those who have profited enormously from the collective misery of the majority of Americans. Obama represents the low-point of the American presidency. I implore Americans of conscience and self-repect to reject this imposter unequivocally.

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    And one more, From the fringe to centre stage, the Occupiers may yet change US politics | Michael Cohen | Comment is free | The Observer

    So what exactly is happening here? In a nutshell, Americans are ticked off. Millions are struggling financially; many are out of a job or are underemployed. They can’t pay their bills. They are falling deeper into personal debt. They are losing hope that things will improve in the foreseeable future. Worst of all, while they are falling further behind a small minority appears to be leaping further ahead.

    Wall Street and the big banks caused the market crash that cost millions of jobs and plunged the US economy into near-depression. Yet three years later, the country’s financial elite continues to prosper while the other 99% suffers. Meanwhile, Washington, due mainly to the unceasing obstructionism of the Republican party, seems completely incapable of arresting America’s decline.

    In some ways, what’s most amazing about OWS – and the support it’s receiving – is not that it happened, but frankly why the hell it took so long.

  6. Fannie says:

    Not all the vinyl albums went to the wind………….I have a collection over 1,500. And I have one place that I take my albums and leave them there, and when I visit bar, I just go and request my vinyls to be played……….like Proud Mary.

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    In charging diocese, prosecutor takes rare step | Reuters

    The first indictment of a bishop for failing to report child pornography would have been groundbreaking in itself but legal experts say a second charge — against the diocese — is almost as rare.

    It is about damn time someone took the diocese to court…

  8. Peggy Sue says:

    Nice roundup, Minx. And not so ‘fluffy.’

    The comments and bemoaning about the switch from film to digital reminds me of the endless discussions I’ve read and participated in with writer friends about the switch from the physical book to e-readers. Even my one son who has just made the switch to a Kindle has said he can’t imagine regarding the device better than an actual book in hand–dog earing pages, the smell and feel of paper and ink, the way the eye reacts to screen vs page. I share some of that nostalgia. And, of course, books have not disappeared off the scene. But . . . when I read that Ikea had pulled back on the number of bookshelves they once offered and sold like hotcakes, I know the days of a beautifully bound book are numbered and will eventually fill the slot of Illuminated Texts. The cost of e-publishing and traditional publishing isn’t even in the same ballpark. So . . . the switch is happening quicker than many people can get their heads around.

    Btw, I saw ‘Ides of March’. I actually enjoyed the film though it’s a dark storyline about politics behind the scenes and how you can quickly lose your soul to the process. But you’re right–the women [interns] are ‘not’ portrayed in anything but the traditional, cream or sugar, sir?, sexually accommodating, ever supportive role. In this arena, things are changing but ‘not’ quickly enough.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Peggy, I agree with your son about the books, my husband has a kindle and I feel the same way about it. But we have a different view of books. I hang on to mine and will not sell or get rid of them. They are so personal to me. Dan on the other hand, will read a book and easily toss it aside.

      I hope Outis comments on the film article.

      I see the Sunday shows are getting their usual play. I found this intriguing. Feinstein Uganda Syria | Dianne Feinstein Uganda | Video | Mediaite

      Wallace asked Senator Feinstein about President Obama sending roughly 100 U.S. troops to Uganda to target the Lord’s Resistance Army, and if she supported the move. Feinstein was quick to point out that the action was taken as a result of a resolution that was voted on during the previous presidential administration. She described in somewhat vivid details the actions the LRA has engaged in, but Wallace wanted to know why Uganda was suddenly benefitting from a U.S. presence when there were plenty of other countries forces could have easily been lent to.

      “Why send troops there, but we won’t send troops to try to end the slaughter in Syria?”

      Feinstein seemed to be caught somewhat off-guard, and said Wallace’s point was a good one. She framed Syria and Uganda as “two entirely different circumstances,” where one was borne from the Arab Spring and the other has been going on for almost a hundred years, engaging in the slaughter of “large numbers of people.”

      I don’t think that was a good enough answer…what do you thing Peg?

      • Outis says:

        Minx, you are so kind to remember me. I’m usually later than everyone else here so refrain from commenting. But I read at least once a day.

        But I admit, I cried when I read that article about the death of film. Still wiping off big fat tears. I already knew it, and with Kodak going bankrupt, the bells have been tolling, but it’s still hard to read those words.

        I started my career at the advent of “digital” (not the same as video) and have, as the majority of my community has, hoped that somehow, some way, digital and film could find a way to co-exist. What it comes down to is the same as we encounter in every facet of modern life: profit. Producers and bean-counters believe that digital is cheaper than video. Well, I’m here to tell you that time after time I’ve found that in most cases it’s not really cheaper at all–and on big productions the cost of film is minimal compared to the cost of finishing and CGI. But producers and malignant narcissist executives love the fact that they can get same-day dailies so they can give us their moronic notes even FASTER. And don’t forget we must eek out every damn penny of profit right? They don’t care that films shot today on this inferior technology will be obsolete in less than a decade, that it will be laughable the way we look at early stop-motion movie monsters and flying saucers on strings. But watch a perfectly shot film from 40 years ago and it looks just as good today.

        Many have argued that film still had a future as an original negative and as an archival medium. By shooting on film, and then scanning it into the digital realm, you still get a chance at achieving that warm, sensuous film look. Because film is ALIVE. Its particles are excited by light. They dance in light. They also overlap to give that smooth texture. Digital is ones and zeros on square pixels; that gives a hard look that we must use any number of cheats to mimic the quality of film. Is it possible the one day digital will be just as good as film? Perhaps, but it sure isn’t yet. Studios now argue that because people spend so much time watching crappy reality television, their tastes have been degraded enough to be able to tolerate digital even for high-end movies. Plus we’re all proles who don’t know the difference between beauty and junk which if the box office is any indication, sadly has a ring of truth.

        But even more distressing is the fact that there is currently no way of archiving digital movies reliably except on film. Because technology is ever-changing, software programs 10 years from now might not be able to even read something shot this year. Movies I made five years ago on digital look awful in the current hi def. Plus, disks fail all the time and the components inside the hardware decay surprisingly quickly. Producers will be appalled when they find out just how much extra it will cost to update and store their archives where before you could store the film reels and they would last 100 years. Scorsese was a huge champion of film as an archival medium.

        And likening it to the death of vinyl and now printing is very fitting. I now know that marking what is lost in the passage of time is the burden of every generation. I will try to assuage my grief by drinking a toast to the great cinematographers who were lucky enough to create so much beauty.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          Oh Outis, I am so glad you commented. I know what you mean about the sadness in the death of film. And like you said, it is a death…because film is alive. To read that article and see companies like Panavision is stopping all production of film cameras…the company that gave us the David Lean lens, when he filmed Lawrence of Arabia…That is just so distressing to me, and I am no where near as connected to the medium as you are. There will never be a way to create those images of candlelight in film like Barry Lyndon…talk about alive!

          Just yesterday my son was talking about how 3d is ruining regular film making. He said that people are going to lose the ability to create a dimensional image with texture and lighting…because everything in 3d is in your face…and he hates it. He is right. Film students will lose touch with the art of making a true film. And like you said, all the technical things…archive and storage and obsolescence…I just can’t believe that it has come to this. I would have thought some in the industry would protest it…sad, sad, sad.

          I am so glad you commented and gave us an inside look at the production and work involved in making a film. I always appreciate your replies about film. Thank you for that…-JJ

      • Peggy Sue says:

        Well, I agree with you: Feinstein was caught flat-footed on the response. I guess my feeling is–are we suppose to be everywhere? Can we even afford to be everywhere? The stories I’ve read about the Lord’s Resistance Army are ghastly. But I seriously question why the US is always the world’s policeman in these matters. And the cynic in me wonders: what’s in the area for corporate exploitation? I know that sounds wicked. I want to believe we’re there to right a wrong but . . . too often after the dust settles there are ulterior motives driving these things.

        So, color me not entirely persuaded. Guess we just keep reading and watching.

  9. foxyladi14 says:

    good round up MM,and you asked wasn’t there a female president on West Wing?
    seems that was Martin Sheen. :)

  10. foxyladi14 says:

    Gena Rowlens was President in her show.am wracking my brain for the name of it.
    Commander in chief is popping up????? :(

  11. dakinikat says:

    Herman Cain is a whack job. You heard it hear first.

    Cain on Abortion: No ‘Exceptions for Rape and Incest’

    http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com//david/cain-abortion-no-exceptions-rape-and-incest

  12. Minkoff Minx says:

    Obama likens civil rights to economy fight at memorial | Reuters

    Echoing a theme from his speeches for the 2012 campaign, Obama said it was important to remember that King’s successes did not come easily and required a great deal of persistence.

    “When met with hardship, when confronting disappointment, Dr. King refused to accept what he called the ‘is-ness’ of today. He kept pushing for the ‘ought-ness’ of tomorrow,” he told the crowd on the sunny, crisp autumn day.

    “And so, as we think about all the work that we must do — rebuilding an economy that can compete on a global stage, and fixing our schools so that every child … gets a world-class education, and making sure that our health care system is affordable and accessible to all, and that our economic system is one in which everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share, let us not be trapped by what is,” he shouted into the microphone.

    “We’ve got to keep pushing for what ought to be, the America we ought to leave to our children, mindful that the hardships we face are nothing compared to those Dr. King and his fellow marchers faced 50 years ago,” he said.

    POLARIZED POLITICS

    The speech was warmly received by the crowd, many of whom thought it was fair to link the civil rights fight with today’s political wrangling over jobs, deficits and the national debt.