giandujakiss: (Default)
of a disabled puppy running on prosthetics printed by a 3D printer:

You're welcome.

Saw Annie

Dec. 19th, 2014 02:12 pm
giandujakiss: (Default)
Mostly harmless, probably entertaining for kids, and certainly for representation alone it's important.

That said, the movie didn't have the courage of its convictions. By which I mean, I feel like in some ways the movie wanted to be kind of like what The Wiz was to the Wizard of Oz, but it wasn't really willing to add that kind of edginess in its desire to appeal to a wide audience, so it ended up coming off bland, and the changes made to the original music did not do much to modernize its appeal - instead, the changes were kind of unnecessary and mostly were for the worse, I thought.

Additionally, the movie lost a lot of what was appealing about the original - the very real poverty of the orphans, contrasted with a conspicuous wealth of Daddy Warbucks. That's a common theme for Depression-era pop culture and which I think the play - and the 80's movie - really do well, but in this case, the movie somehow managed to flatten everything.

The music was ... pretty not good, considering. I guess they had the actors do their own singing, and they aren't particularly good singers, so everything was synthesized to hell with the instrumentals at high volume, to compensate. They weren't fooling anyone.

They clearly didn't want to mimic standard Broadway dance styles but they didn't go all out for anything edgy or modern, which left them doing ... very little, dance-wise.

Absolutely no one can compete with Carol Burnett's virtuoso performance as Miss Hannigan in the 1982 movie. No one.

Also, I saw a preview for Pan, and all I can say is - the Hook/Peter slash will commence about 5 minutes after that movie opens. Peter's a child so they'll find a way to age him, but. Five minutes.
giandujakiss: (Default)
Am immediately reminded of how much I like the earlier seasons ... and I'm steeling myself emotionally for the horror that is the later ones.

...As much as I love the somewhat perfect relationship between Rory and Lorelei, it's really the Emily/Lorelei relationship that makes this show, and how hard it is for them to communicate with each other.
giandujakiss: (brosnan booze)
of watching deeply terrible made-for-TV Christmas romance movies, I just keep thinking ... there's got to be some kind of anthropological/sociological/media criticism paper to be written about these things.

(Oh, Brandon Routh. I'm so glad you've found a home on Arrow.)


Dec. 13th, 2014 11:02 am
giandujakiss: (Default)
via [personal profile] hedda62, I found this great piece about the early days of the "Women's" and "Style" sections of newspapers, and how women reporters refused to let that ghetto-ization keep them from reporting the news.
giandujakiss: (Default)
The Merciless Hours (23720 words) by togina
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Captain America - All Media Types, Captain America (Comics), Captain America (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings, Underage
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes/Steve Rogers, Minor or Background Relationship(s)
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson (Marvel), Natasha Romanova
Additional Tags: Canon Divergence, Angst, Young Bucky

Nobody ever noticed Bucky, in Lehigh. Nobody but Steve. No one else would bring a boy into the war - nobody else would try so hard to carry a broken man home.

This is really more like comics canon.
giandujakiss: (Default)
Military-Style Technology Finds Way Into School District Safety Measures
With a rapid-response team and regular lockdown drills, the school district here, like many across the country, has long been steeling itself for the nightmare scenario of a school shooting.

But over the past two years, a new high-tech approach has been tested at one of the schools here — officials will not say which one — to see whether it is possible to react more effectively.

Engineers from a company called Shooter Detection Systems have installed infrared sensors and microphones that can pick up the sound of gunfire and immediately notify school and law enforcement officials where and when it has occurred. It was installed free of charge, and school officials were hoping they could find the money to put the system, which costs between $20,000 and $100,000, into more schools....

Another company, SST, which makes shot-detection systems for city streets, is rolling out a similar system at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Officials here and at the college emphasized that they used preventive methods, too.

It was easy to persuade the administration to pay for the system, said John Buckovich, the chief of public safety at the Savannah art college. He said the system would hasten the arrival of law enforcement officials in a shooting even if those on campus were scrambling to flee or protect themselves.
So a conference of gun manufacturers lobbies against any restrictions on gun sales to the point where school shootings are a regular occurrence, and then schools are offered to buy a "solution" to the problem in the form of even more high-tech countermeasures.

I think I saw that on an episode of Xena. More than once. Plus other genre shows - you know, the one where the arms dealer intentionally generates conflict so that he can sell more arms to each side?

Fancy that

Dec. 12th, 2014 04:04 pm
giandujakiss: (Default)
AT&T, Verizon Tax Breaks Fail to Produce Jobs
With Congress poised to extend a raft of tax breaks, consider this: One such break has helped AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. slash their recent tax bills by billions of dollars without leading to the intended increase in investment or jobs.

The measure, known as “bonus depreciation,” lets companies offset their income with investments they have made more quickly. It was enacted in 2008 as part of the economic stimulus package with the goal of giving companies an incentive to build more factories or upgrade more equipment, creating jobs and giving a boost to sluggish economic growth in the process.

But that isn’t how it has worked, at least at AT&T and Verizon, whose vast networks of towers and cables make them two of the country’s biggest investors in infrastructure.

AT&T estimated its federal tax bill last year at $3 billion, down from about $5.9 billion in 2007, before the tax relief was enacted. Verizon estimated that it would get $197 million back last year, compared with a 2007 bill of $2.6 billion.

Meanwhile, the companies have kept their capital spending relatively flat since the stimulus was adopted, and their employee count has dropped by more than 100,000 people, a fifth of their combined work forces.

The outcome isn’t a matter of gaming the tax system. AT&T and Verizon appear to be using the benefit as intended, and both are plowing tens of billions of dollars into their networks. It is possible their spending would have been lower if they hadn’t had the extra tax incentive. But the results do raise questions about whether extending bonus depreciation is an effective way to spur growth.
It almost raises questions about whether corporate tax breaks are the best way to spur job growth, no?
giandujakiss: (Default)

giandujakiss: (Default)
One Life for Yourself and One for Your Dreams (23529 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier
Characters: Erik Lehnsherr, Charles Xavier, Raven | Mystique, Moira MacTaggert, Sebastian Shaw, Hank McCoy, Angel Salvadore
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - James Bond Fusion, Alternate Universe - Spies & Secret Agents, Alternate Universe - Still Have Powers, Erik Being Cocky, Charles is a geek, BAMF Raven, Secrets and Tension, Falling In Love

When 00 Agent Raven Darkholme manages to capture the elusive Magneto and bring him in for questioning about a dangerous arms deal involving international criminal Sebastian Shaw, it’s up to Quartermaster Charles Xavier to get him to talk. With time running out, Charles needs to convince Magneto to trust him, but they’re both far too good at keeping secrets, and the growing attraction between them is only making things more difficult.

to memory now I can't recall (102600 words) by Etharei
Chapters: 16/16
Fandom: Captain America (Movies), The Avengers (Marvel Movies)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes/Steve Rogers
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Steve Rogers, Howling Commandos, Natasha Romanova, Tony Stark, Thor (Marvel), Peggy Carter, Sam Wilson (Marvel), Clint Barton, Jarvis (Iron Man movies)
Additional Tags: Time Travel, World War II, Memory Loss, Time Loop, Alien Technology, Identity Porn

While on a mission storming a HYDRA facility, James Buchanan Barnes touches one of the many strange alien devices collected by the Red Skull. He does this, in fact, twice— in the past, and in the future.

Next thing he knows, Bucky Barnes is opening his eyes in the 21st century, which is full of great gadgets and coffee, and at least includes his old pal Steve. (And, inexplicably, a different Stark.) Meanwhile, the Winter Soldier finds himself in the middle of World War Two, helping Captain America hunt down HYDRA (which is at least familiar), pretending to be Bucky Barnes (which is not), and figuring out the very noisy group of soldiers who call themselves the Howling Commandos.

giandujakiss: (Default)
that these days, cell phone area codes are like a badge of personal history/identity?

So, for work related reasons, I've been doing a lot of travel lately and meeting a lot of people, and contacting them through their cell numbers. And universally, no one has a cell area code that matches where they are located now. Often, their cell area code speaks volumes about where they were working/living/attending school prior to their current position.

Obviously, it's easier to maintain a continuity of phone number than to change it whenever you move - you don't have to give people new contact info, etc.

But I suspect people also enjoy that, that their cell area code immediately communicates a little piece of their history.
giandujakiss: (Default)
For those of you who may not have seen the background:

Rolling Stone did a big expose of an alleged fraternity gang rape on the UVA campus. It created a huge stir, especially in light of the growing movement on college campuses to take sexual assault more seriously. There have now been doubts raised - including by Rolling Stone - as to the veracity of the account, and Rolling Stone has stated that it put too much faith in the accuser.

And it's not that I don't believe that sensational rape stories may be fabricated - God knows, there are historical examples to point to (Tawana Brawley, the Duke lacrosse team) - it's just that there isn't enough information to know what exactly the uncertainty is, and whether there are doubts about the story as a whole, or whether it's a case of a victim who gets fuzzy on details of a trauma. Given the perennial doubts about rape accounts in general, I'd like to know exactly what's going on.

Anyhoo, this post kind of covers my feelings - as opposed to the various reports along the lines of "it was all a lie, ha ha!"
giandujakiss: (Default)
So I check back in briefly to post about this issue of black men being killed by police officers, with no linkage because I am lazy.

(My extensive business related travels are mostly at an end; hopefully soon I'll be back online in full)

There are a lot of issues here I think it's useful to unpack.

First, recall what's at issue here - not a trial, but the decision as to whether a trial is even justified. In most American jurisdictions, before a person can be charged with a serious crime, a "grand jury" must indict them - which means, make a decision that there is probable cause to justify bringing charges in the first place. So a grand jury is different than a "petit jury" - the jury who decides guilt or innocence at trial. The grand jury just decides whether trial is warranted at all.

The old saw is that a grand jury is, in fact, entirely in the pocket of prosecutors. This is because the prosecutor decides what a grand jury sees. And most of the time, the prosecutor only puts incriminating evidence before the grand jury, with proceedings not lasting more than a couple of days. In both the Brown case and the Garner case, the prosecutors notably put all evidence before the grand jury - exculpatory and incriminating - over a period of months. Transcripts from the Brown case suggest that the prosecutor went out of his way to challenge witnesses who incriminated Wilson. All of this is alone a serious departure from ordinary practice and suggests that the grand jury decisions were, in fact, manipulated by the prosecutors. So this isn't necessarily about grand juries who refuse to indict - this is about prosecutors who don't want to bring charges against cops, and hide behind the grand jury process instead of owning that decision.

Second, I want to talk about police body cameras. After the Brown jury refused to indict, there was a general call for police body cameras. And then, even with video, the Garner jury refused to indict.

I tend to be somewhat in favor of body cameras, but let me explain my concerns.

The first is that guilt/threat is in the eye of the beholder, and that's equally true when the beholder is a jury or a prosecutor as when it's a cop. So for example, there's a famous psych experiment where people watched video of a fight between a white man and a black man that culminated in the white person pulling a knife. When asked to describe what they saw, most subjects reported that the black man pulled the knife. So there's an inherent bias to the way people perceive black men - black men are viewed as inherently dangerous, and that's going to be true even with body cameras. Body cameras may even reinforce that impression. If you're inclined to see black men - especially large black men - as inherently dangerous, the Garner video isn't going to look like an improper police attack - it's going to look like a reasonable use of force.

The second concern is that when people watch something, whoever draws "focus" appears to be the person most in control of the situation. It's a complicated phenomenon, but here's a simple example. Suppose 5 people are doing a group project, and only 1 person has red hair. People who watch the group work together are likely to report that the redhaired person was "in charge" even if the redhaired person behaved just like everyone else. The redhaired person drew their focus; so the redhaired person appeared to be responsible.

This comes out in police interrogations. There has been a lot of concern over the years about interrogations generating false confessions by unduly pressuring suspects. One experiment found that if you videotape the interrogation and aim the camera at the suspect - so that the suspect draws the viewer's attention - the viewer will conclude that the confession was voluntary, i.e., the suspect was in control. But if the camera is aimed at the cop - so that the cop draws focus - viewers will conclude the cop was in control, and the confession was coerced.

In that situation, the solution is to make sure the camera takes a wide view of the room.

Body cameras, though, might necessarily be aimed at suspects, and leave the cop as a peripheral player. That, all by itself, may alter viewers' perceptions, and lead viewers to believe that the suspect "caused" whatever occurred (be it a beating, or anything else).

At the same time, though, merely knowing they're being recorded may alter cops' behavior. Not simply because they don't want to be caught doing bad things, but because awareness of self forces people to confront the moral dimension of their actions. Like, stores find that putting mirrors up reduces shoplifting; the mirrors increase people's awareness of self and thus causes them to think about their actions in terms of their own self-perception (which generally includes a perception of themselves as good people who don't steal). Prison guards are less likely to abuse people if they wear nametags. Awareness of self reduces misbehavior, which is a point in favor of cameras.

Anyhoo, those are my thoughts, for what they're worth.
giandujakiss: (Default)
that Bradley James had a bit part in an episode of the new season of Homeland? He did an American accent and everything.

(This message brought to you by a marathon catch up between business trips)

Am I wrong for really enjoying Homeland so far? Of course it ended on a cliffhanger before Thanksgiving - I'm very much looking forward to next week.
giandujakiss: (Default)
A movie that desperately wanted to name itself "Gravity" but couldn't, because that title was already taken.

It was ... long.

It was a very long movie.

Stuff happened in parts of it. Some of it was even entertaining. At least one thing made me want to throw a shoe at the screen.

Parts of the plot telegraphed themselves aeons in advance, and then the movie kept ... going. Because it was really long.

No one can complain about the movie minutes to ticket price ratio on that movie, is what I'm saying.

So you know. If you see it in a theater, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'd say just ... settle in. Resign yourself to length.

Perhaps seeing it at home, when you can pause, take a break, etc, is the wiser choice.

Also, not for nothing, but Jessica Chastain and Matthew McConaughey are supposed to be the same age, which - encapsulates Hollywood, really.
giandujakiss: (Default)
Haven't read the books and am intentionally remaining unspoiled.

I really enjoyed it, but it suffered, I think, from the whole push to make it into two movies. Because there's a degree to which I appreciated the slow, measured pace of it, but it also felt kind of undirected - it wasn't clear, just from a narrative standpoint, what we were supposed to be building toward, which gave it a meandering feel. There was also the very distinct impression - which I'd gotten from prior movies - that certain characters were supposed to be more important/prominent, but that their stories were mostly being cut.

I don't even call these spoilers, I'm talking in vague generalizations, but just in case -

Read more )

(as you've gathered from prior posts I'm sure, I've been traveling a lot lately and haven't been able to keep up with FList/DWircle, so if there are things I should have responded to one way or another and didn't, I apologize!)
giandujakiss: (Default)
So I was pretty much loving everything until this morning, when it suddenly crashed and refused to restart. I'm traveling, and no Surface=no computer, which sent me into a panic for an hour or so because I need the computer both for work, and because it's my only source of entertainment on planes.

So I'm frantically trying to figure out if I can get to a repair place while traveling, and googling Microsoft customer support on my phone, when I finally think to use my phone to google about Surface crashing/not restarting. Turns out there's a super special hold-two-buttons-down method for restarting it, and that worked!

So, back in business, but very wary of a computer that crashes apparently for no reason, a week out of the box.

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