Day: April 29, 2017

Leonardo DiCaprio used a standard, office file folder for his climate march sign, lol

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Look, let me start by saying Leonardo DiCaprio has done a lot to combat climate change. 

He produced a climate change documentary titled Before the Flood that dropped in 2016. He has a foundation “dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants.” The foundation has given $61 million to causes that align with that mission statement. He talks about climate change all the time. And, also, he was among the ~200,000 people in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to protest a White House that very much does not share his (scientifically valid) concern for the damage people are doing to the climate. Read more…

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Merriam-Webster thinks Apple lovers are sheeple

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Merriam-Webster defines its new word, “sheeple,” as those who are “easily influenced.” 

I’m sure plenty of groups of people qualify as said “sheeple.” I, for example, am easily influenced by any shop selling doughnuts, and I’m sure many people are like me. But the dictionary chose Apple fans as its mental image.  

Here’s their example:

Are you an iPhone owner with a battery case worth about $100? Then you, my friend, have made it to the dictionary. 

Perhaps it’s not the greatest accomplishment, but please take solace in knowing we are all sheeple in our own ways.  Read more…

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Wikipedia has been blocked in Turkey

 Wikipedia, the online user-generated encyclopedia, has been blocked by the Turkish government. News of the blockage was first reported by the website Turkey Blocks, at around 1AM Eastern this morning. Confirmed: All editions of the #Wikipedia online encyclopedia blocked in #Turkey as of 8:00AM local timehttps://t.co/ybFolRmsOs pic.twitter.com/hI9tn4bHe5 — Turkey Blocks… Read More

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Review: High-Rise (2016)

High-Rise, directed by Ben Wheatley, brings J.G. Ballard’s classic novel to the screen after a long wait.

It’s set almost entirely in a residential tower, a massive brutalist edifice inhabited by thousands of early-1970s Britons eager for a new life. The ultimate product of mid-century urban planning, the concrete building is designed to take care of all its occupants’ needs: there’s a supermarket, a swimming pool, even a primary school, all tucked away deep within its forty stories.

Robert Laing, an introverted young doctor, moves in hoping to become an anonymous nobody amid this monument to the bland excellence of modern life. But he commits the critical error of making friends, and is slowly consumed by the building’s odd psychic character, its microcosmic reflection of the divisions in society at large.

He notices that the lower levels are first to suffer when the power fails; then that the higher echelons enjoy special amenities of their own. And then, when the lights go out, everything goes to hell.

A little awareness of British life in the 1970s helps contextualise details that might otherwise baffle—in particular, skyscraper-happy Americans should know that residential towers there were always a controversial novelty, that garbage collecters were perpetually on strike, and that in British engineering, corners are always cut. But Ballard’s sinister geometry of modernity, hiding an emotional suppression ready to explode into violence, is a language universal to all employed westerners.

It’s an intriguing, sophisticated and handsome movie made excellent by Wheatley’s skill and its cast: Tom Hiddleston as the skeptical middle-class everyman driven to madness by his environment’s awful sanity, Jeremy Irons as the tower’s vicious yet uncannily humanist architect, Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men, The Handmaid’s Tale) as society’s hope, and Luke Evans (Bard from The Hobbit) as the agent of chaos.

But there are some conceptual misteps, I think, that garble Ballard’s anxieties—and the power of his storytelling.

In particular, the movie counterposes superficial social realism against dreamy surrealism in an attempt to triangulate the novel’s hyperreal quality with its period setting and the presumed ironic sensibilities of a contemporary audience. Clever as this is, the result has a weird 1980s artsy zaniness to it, as if directed by Peter Greenaway or Ken Russell or (sorry) whoever did the Pet Shop Boys movie. Ballard is about games that turn deadly serious, but this is just a deadly game. Among other things, it makes its cruelties (which often involve animals) seem self-satisfied and spiteful.

Wheatley also tries to achieve too much though implication; even as a fan of the novel, I felt a little lost and could have done with an establishing vignette to establish the scenario. Motivations are often unclear, too. Though this is rather the point, the depraved psychic hygiene of the tower’s world is only lightly sketched before it erupts. It’s as if the movie is only interested in people who already understand its message.

Ballard’s writing is cold and sharp, yet lurid in how it draws out the entrails of our discomfort. This movie’s script is just drawn out. I like the film, and it’s full of arresting images. It is a tribute, a floating world of its own, but a metaphor too distant and too arch to draw much blood.

Thumbs up, ish.

High-Rise (2016) [Amazon]

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Crunch Report | Elon Musk’s Tunnel Vision Gets Rendered

Elon Musk shows off a video about his tunnel boring company, The Boring Company, a self-driving Apple test vehicle is spotted in the wild and Cloudera and Carvana each price their IPO at $15; one does well, the other not so much. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Trump's big EPA website change should make you furious

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Yet another fear among scientists and climate activists has become reality in the era of Trump.

Years of research and data about carbon emissions, other greenhouse gases, and more was hidden from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website by the Trump administration Friday as the climate change webpage goes under “review.” 

Adding insult to injury, this comes on the eve of the People’s Climate March

Climate change activists have been wringing their hands ever since Inauguration Day, fearing that the new administration would do something just like this. The EPA has been chipping away at climate change mentions on its website since January, but Friday’s takedown seems to be the biggest step yet.  Read more…

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