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New Kickstarter Campaign for “Arts and Minds” Promotes Liberty Through Art

A new liberty-oriented project in Portland, OR recently launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for a summer project that will use “creative energy to spotlight Oregon’s criminal justice system and activate change.”

Arts and Minds (a project of the non-profit Spark Freedom) plans to host a block party where members of the community come together for a day to paint a collaborative mural that tells the story of the criminal justice system in Oregon. United by a passion for freedom and criminal justice reform, attendees will engage in a city-wide “experiment in grassroots artistic activism.”

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The LEGO Batman Movie: Death of a Police Commissioner, Birth of a Batgirl

(Spoilers below? Oh yeah.)

A few years back there was a Lego movie. It’s name escapes me right now. Anyway, the Lego movie was thought to promote collectivism and criticize capitalism. The makers of the Lego movie (whatever it was called) denied an anti-business agenda BUT… the bad guy in the film was named “Lord Business.”

Well, a few years have passed and now we have The Lego Batman Movie on our hands. Perhaps to bring a Ra’s al Ghul-ish balance to the cinematic Lego-verse, this film asserts a strong critique of police policies largely revealed through the Barbara Gordon character. Her shedding of the commissioner’s uniform (Don’t get excited, it’s a PG film) in favor of her Batgirl costume formalizes her abandonment of supposedly enlightened law enforcement policies.

In the first reel Police Commissioner Jim Gordon finds himself in a crisis: The Joker has assembled a huge bomb to blow the literal floor out from under Gotham City. Gordon does what the G.C.P.D. does best: Call BATMAN!

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They Live! Movie Review

By Stevie Wang

In “They Live!,” a drifter stumbles upon a conspiracy about aliens who secretly rule over the human race. By wearing a pair of sunglasses, the drifter is able to see that aliens are disguising themselves in positions of great power such as company owners, police officers, and politicians and are essentially governing the human race and working for their own interests. Humans are completely oblivious to their rulers and are kept from seeking the truth due to consumer goods and materialism.

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Would MLK have Attended the Women’s March?

I did not attend the Women’s March on Washington this past Saturday. And not because I am not persistently subject to ridiculous sexism. Just last month a male superior at my office instructed me to “hold this paper like a good little girl.”

Not because I don’t care about equal rights either—as much as a buzz term as it has become. I have listened to women in the West Bank, Kenya and Amsterdam’s Red Light District talk about severe violence inflicted upon them because of a severe lack of equal rights.

Neither am I a stranger to the deep struggle of single motherhood (one of the surest difficulties for low-income women in America today). I was born when my own mother was seventeen and unemployed; she has, for most of my life, been the sole breadwinner for our family.

Plus I certainly have plenty of my own reasons why I did not vote for Donald Trump. To name one, there are peaceful, productive Muslim immigrant women and men in my family (my father and grandmother for starters).

My reason for abstaining was rooted mostly in the reality that I could not figure out what, exactly, the march was for. Even among discussion between the march’s potential participants about their purpose, I saw only an echo-chamber for a certain kind of woman: a kind that less than half of American women identify with.

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Who You Should Vote for NEXT Election!

If you are anything like me, the 2016 Presidential Election has grown into something akin to a trip to the dentist. Physically traumatic, emotionally scaring, and the momentary relief experienced upon conclusion, is rapidly replaced with a burning feeling of dread deep within my gut reminding me that I have to do this all in a few years. That was this election. Our collective angst and displeasure prior to the 8th of November, was rapidly replaced with even greater feelings of anxiety and discontent following the election. Our Nation has evolved into a media circus that is Trump, protests, and recounts. Then, in four years, we get to do it all over again! The only person I know truly ecstatic about the candidate they voted for was my friend Matt, a self-absorbed, egomaniac with sociopathic tendencies who decided to write himself in as President on his absentee ballot. Much like the other candidates on the ballot, he was more concerned with title-leadership and self-meriting than actually serving or finding solutions to make the world better.

Look at the two major Presidential Candidates. Both were accused of criminal activities by their opposition. One candidate possessed all the admirable qualities of a school yard bully. He spent most of the campaign placing blame and infighting, and barely seemed to embrace the ideals of his party. The other candidate was the candidate who was pre-ordained by the party elites and big donors to be the victor of the primary (despite popular support for her challenger) and she didn’t seem to understand how to work this thing we call “email”. You could not realistically place your hopes on Gary Johnson, after a few slip-ups his campaign fizzled out faster than a can of pop left open in the fridge.

Even after the election was over, the madness never stopped. With recounts, underway in key swing state, we are doomed to continue living the horrors of the 2016 elections for another month. We knew that no matter who won, we would all lose – our time, our brain cells. Eating raw shrimp left outside on a hot summer day is less nauseating than this past election. Most voters felt trapped between a rock and a hard place, as they were forced to pick the lesser of two evils. America, we could have done better. We should have done better. We need to do better. Today, let’s beginning grooming a unifying candidate for the 2020 election.

America, I have found the solution.

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Why Trolls Was the Perfect Movie to See on Election Night

I don’t know about you, but I had absolutely no desire to be in the world while election results were coming in on Nov 8. So instead, I went to my favorite “escape from the world” place: a movie theater. A friend and I decided on Trolls. An hour and a half of bright colors and rousing musical numbers just seemed like a good idea before finding out who gets to screw up the country over the next four years.

Trolls was actually a pleasant surprise though. It wasn’t just good in a fun kids movie sort of way, it actually made me realize some important things I needed to remember as my country becomes as divided as I’ve ever seen it. [Spoilers below].trolls

Lesson 1: We can still be happy without shitting on other people

The antagonists of this movie are the Bergens, unhappy creatures that believe the only way to be happy is to eat the trolls. What makes the dynamic of Bergentown especially interesting is that any Bergen under the age of 20, including the king of Bergentown, has never actually tasted a troll, as the trolls escaped captivity 20 years before the primary plot arc of the film. So your primary villain isn’t someone who is just straight up evil, it’s someone who has been socialized to believe a lie, and that belief inspires him to do evil things. The movie isn’t a story of good triumphing over evil, it’s a story of good teaching evil the error in their ways.

Unlike some, I personally do not believe all Trump supporters are just straight up evil. I do however, believe many view the world as a false dichotomy. They have trouble seeing how immigrants and native-born citizens can live in peace and even benefit from each other’s presence, and instead believe one group can only benefit at the expense of the other. They believe that the rights of Americans are more important than the rights of people born elsewhere, even though such people are equally human. And I think for many, those beliefs were instilled in them at a young age. They voted for Trump not because they’re just terrible human beings that Satan sent to destroy America, but because they genuinely believe that was the only way to restore their own prosperity after other systems have failed them. Sad!

Trolls is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be “us vs. them” even when the world around us constantly tells us that it is. There are ways to be happy and successful without infringing on the rights of others. (more…)

photo by @Kmeron

#FreeMilo: Twitter’s Stance Against Freedom of Speech

Whether you’ve seen it or not, you at least know of the female Ghostbusters reboot that has hit theaters.  You probably also know about the divisiveness it’s created within the ranks of moviegoers.  Don’t worry though, this isn’t yet another review of the film, but a look at what it’s exposing in the social media landscape.

ghostbusters-2016-625x324After writing a negative review on Ghostbusters, Breitbart’s tech editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, kicked off a Twitter firestorm between himself and the film’s star, Leslie Jones.  After receiving a slew of messages from haters, Jones fought back, retweeting the comments and singling out the trolls.  It was then that Milo joined the feud, reminding Jones that everyone gets hate mail.  This spurred an argument between the two, which eventually resulted in Jones blocking Milo.  While Milo did throw some cheeky insults at Jones while defending his position, none of them compared to the death threats and racist remarks she received from the trolls.  Despite this, Milo was soon permanently banned on the grounds of violating Twitter’s abuse policy.  Since then, he’s been on the offensive, attacking the social platform for seemingly deporting him for no reason.

In a statement made on Breitbart, Milo said, “Twitter is holding me responsible for the actions of fans and trolls, using the special pretzel logic of the left.  Where are the Twitter police when Justin Bieber’s fans cut themselves on his behalf?”

Milo’s outspoken “cultural libertarian” view, which opposes the idea of culture as a corrupting influence, has been challenged by many liberal groups, including feminists, whom Twitter favors, argues Milo.  He said: “With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.”

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – It Will Be On Facetime

Unless you were living under a rock, you will recall the foiled coup d’état attempt in Turkey. The Turkish military attempted to seize control while President Tayyip Erdogan was vacationing on July 15, 2016. The President took to Facetime to encourage the populace to take to the streets in support of the elected government. Now if you are well versed in Turkish history, you will remember that military coups are not uncommon. The military intervened in 1960, 1971, and 1980. In 1997, the Turkish military executed a “post-modern coup”. The military – the secular defenders of the constitution – has initiated coups to restore order and to protect the secular nature of the republic created by Ataturk.

SEDAT SUNA / EPA
SEDAT SUNA / EPA

This is one of the reasons why many find this attempted coup so suspicious. The Turkish government continues to point the figure at Erdogan’s longtime rival, an Islamic Cleric living in Pennsylvania. Yet, accusations that the secular military would support radical aspirations to overthrow the government seem unfounded giving its institutional history. Furthermore, the hasty and unplanned execution of the coup which failed to lockdown national media, the presidential palace, and transportation centers seems out of character for a military which successfully orchestrated 3 previous military coups. For this reason, accusations continue to fly of Erdogan’s knowledge and even orchestration of the coup. Now, the President has the opportunity to imprison his opposition, implement centralized control, and even dismantle the military, the one institution threatening his authoritarian ambitions. This also portrays the longtime Islamist Erdogan as the secular defender of the Turkish Republic, creating an ideal scenario where he can maintain his agenda under the guise of defending secular democracy from elements (in the media, military, and education systems) which he feels threaten the will of the people.

Other theories have circulated that Iran is behind Turkey’s instability, as a means to destabilize western relations with their longtime neighbor. Some argue that Iran is simply trying to set pieces in motion to bring about the Islamic Republic of Turkey. While a secular, democratic Turkey with strong ties to the west and NATO may not be in Iran’s best interest; the creation of a Sunni Islamist government in Anatolia could rise to challenge Iranian interest as well. Either way, all the facts regarding the attempted coup remain a mystery.

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The Original Ghostbusters: More Than Just Busting Ghosts?

ghostbusters_ver3_xlg-2It’s hard to believe a full-fledged Ghostbusters film hasn’t been in theaters since 1989, but it’s now 2016 and they’re back…sort of.  Whether or not you’ve embraced the franchise’s reboot, it’s worth paying tribute to the fact that many consider the original 1984 film to be one of Hollywood’s most libertarian blockbusters.

After losing their jobs at Columbia University, paranormal investigators, Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler start their own extermination service known as the “Ghostbusters.”  Naturally, no one takes them seriously, until a rise in paranormal activity begins to threaten New York.

As their service becomes more in demand, the Ghostbusters do what any successful business does: expand.  They purchase an office in the form of a firehouse, make a cheesy advertisement, and hire extra staff: receptionist Janine Melnitz, and a fourth buster, Winston Zeddemore.  The Ghostbusters new found fame and success, however, is short lived when the Environmental Protection Agency has them arrested and their business shut down for operating unlicensed waste, deactivating their spirit containment system and inadvertently releasing hundreds of ghosts, who begin terrorizing New York.

The situation escalates even more when the ghosts successfully summon Gozer, the god of destruction, to bring about the end of the world.  The government, having no means of combating the supernatural threat, releases the Ghostbusters from custody to battle Gozer.  When our heroes finally come face to face with the god of destruction, it allows the Ghostbusters to choose the form of the destructor.  Trying to think of something completely harmless, Ray envisions his favorite corporate mascot, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, which arrives in giant form and begins to destroy the city.

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Sexy Panties and Prison: What Orange is the New Black Can Teach Us About The Regulatory State

Orange is the New Black

Warning: The following post contains Orange is The New Black spoilers.

If you are a fan of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, you already know that far too much of Season 3 was spent telling the tale of Piper’s Prison Panties. As a fan of the show, I was a bit sad that the screen time invested in this plotline was not spent on some of the more interesting ones. But as a libertarian, I must say that the way this story concluded in Season 4 provides a great parable for how regulation hurts people in the real world.

Let’s start with a quick recap of what happened in Season 3: The fictional intimate apparel company Whispers made a deal with Litchfield Prison that allowed them to use inmates as cheap labor. As one of the inmates selected to sew the sexy underwear together, Piper figured out that by cutting the fabric differently, she could actually make more panties than what Whispers asked of her. This inspires a new business venture: wearing the surplus underwear for a few days and then selling them to people who are into that sort of thing. By the end of Season 3, Piper has established an entire supply chain: numerous inmates wear the underwear, a naive prison guard sneaks them out, and Piper’s brother sells them on the outside.
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Dallas Buyers Club Reminds Us That The FDA Is Trying To Turn Everything Into An Illegal Drug

DBCRon Woodroof fought for the right to use non-FDA approved drugs as a means of treatment after he was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s.  As a result, he began distributing experimental drugs to AIDS patients who were unable to acquire them at hospitals.  Woodroof’s legacy lives on in the 2013 film, “Dallas Buyers Club,” directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.

The film opens with Woodroof’s diagnosis; he’s given 30 days to live.  Thinking he’s a homosexual, his friends and coworkers ostracize him.  When Woodroof finally seeks treatment, he is put on AZT, the only FDA-approved drug in America at the time, but this only worsens his condition.  Woodroof eventually travels to Mexico to find help, and there he’s treated with ddC and peptide T, drugs not approved by the FDA.

After three months on these new drugs, Woodroof’s condition improves and it occurs to him that he can make money smuggling ddC and peptide T into America for other HIV patients.  He teams up with Rayon, an HIV positive trans woman, who helps Woodroof get inside the gay community.  Together, Ron and Rayon form the Dallas Buyers Club, which provides the non-approved drugs to HIV patients at a price.  The club becomes very successful, but is short-lived, as the FDA is constantly trying to find ways to shut them down and make it harder for Woodroof to sell his own drugs.

Woodroof attempts to sue the FDA, seeking the right to take peptide T, which at this point has been proven to be a non-toxic drug.  Although he loses the court case, it is stated at the end of the film that Woodroof was eventually able to take peptide T for his own personal use up until his death.  He was also one of the main reasons that hospitals in America would eventually reduce the dosage of AZT it would administer to its patients after the drug was found to be toxic.

Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story about what can happen to American patients when their health care system is fraught with bureaucratic roadblocks.  The government spends more than 50 per cent of all health care dollars and costs have been driven up by the FDA’s actions and deprived Americans of much-needed treatments.

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Have you seen The Man in The High Castle?

Man In CastleThe beloved holidays, perfect for spending time with friends and family. So naturally, I saturate mine with all the series I failed to keep pace with during the rest of the year, among them Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle.  I caught the pilot when it premiered back in the beginning of 2015 and was anxiously awaiting November for the release of the rest of the series.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The shows premise is a simple one – imagine the Nazi’s had won the Second World War.  Interested yet?  You should be.

The show is based upon a novel with the same name by Phillip K. Dick.  Now, there are a variety of difference between the book and the show, and I am not really interested in contrasting the two mediums.  I will however add that I have found the shows creation of the character the SS Obergruppenführer John Smith (played by Rufus Sewell) is really a brilliant addition.

The show is very different from most of the other shows on television.  The show is deliberate, in its decisions to create characterization and unravel the plot, something that is a real treat in this era of ADHD inspired storytelling and contrite characterization that is modern television.  The period nature of the show, makes it different and memorable.

What I found most I enjoyed most from the show, was the not-so-subtle political dialog unfolding on the screen.  The show presents three separate interpretations of the United States as it could have been and in doing so forces the viewers to consider many of the most pressing political issues of today.  Characters find themselves living in a surveillance state, robbed of their right to bear arms, and deprived of their freedoms of speech and assembly.  Some of these themes are concepts which Dick explores in his original work; but liberty minded individuals cannot help but recognize that many of these issues are the same political issues with which libertarians currently grapple.  The show is worth a serious look (if you have seen it already it is worth watching again) as it has just been renewed for a second season.  For liberty lovers everywhere, defenders of natural rights and the rule of law, you cannot afford to miss it.

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Colin Quinn Unconstitutional is Ratified on Netflix

colinVeteran comic Colin Quinn’s one-man show, Colin Quinn Unconstitutional, debuts on Netflix and offers an often doting and hilarious look back on the creation of the U.S. Constitution by the founding fathers.  Quinn never masks his love for the Constitution and is brilliant at placing himself outside of the traditional red-state vs blue-state mentality that, as he puts it, is tearing this country apart.  The comedian has no problems using the 1st Amendment to go after the trigger warning crowd that can’t take a joke, or reminding you that before it existed, talking crap about a king or dictator anywhere else in the world in history would get you killed.  The bulk of the show deals mostly with the writing of the articles of the Constitution and why and how the government was intended to operate.  Being the classic Irish-American that Quinn is, he uses a bar room analogy to explain how the government is supposed to operate.  As mentioned, Quinn tackles 1st Amendment issues, as well as a bit on the 2nd Amendment, but leaves the rest of the Bill of Rights for another time.

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University-Style Notions of Race Creep Further into Popular Culture

In this modern collegiate age where every possible sub-division of the human race has to have a “safe space” in which to properly commiserate with those of like hue, various arenas of popular culture are following suit.

This past week, for example, it was announced that the new comic book version of Marvel’s Spider-Man will be a biracial — black Hispanic — teenager.

This isn’t all that big an announcement by itself, of course (the character, Miles Morales, was established already as an alternate reality version of everyone’s favorite wall-crawler); what was most interesting were the comments of his co-creator, Brian Michael Bendis:

The enormity of Miles Morales’ place in comic book history didn’t really hit Bendis, a father who has two kids of color among his four children, until recently. His 4-year-old adopted African-American daughter found a Miles Morales Spidey mask in the toy aisle of a department store, put it on and said, “Look daddy, I’m Spider-Man!” he recalls.

“I started crying in the middle of the aisle,” says Bendis. “I realized my kids are going to grow up in a world that has a multi-racial Spider-Man, and an African American Captain America and a female Thor.”

Many kids of color who when they were playing superheroes with their friends, their friends wouldn’t let them be Batman or Superman because they don’t look like those heroes but they could be Spider-Man because anyone could be under that mask.

“Our message has to be it’s not Spider-Man with an asterisk, it’s the real Spider-Man for kids of color, for adults of color and everybody else.”

This is very intriguing for two main reasons.

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Making Comedy Safe for the World

Don’t let the system fool you/All it wants to do is rule you[.]”

Bruce Cockburn

Many American colleges are insular freak shows resembling the Duggar family – except the incest is intellectual. And their Duggar-like offspring, political lobotomees untroubled by self-doubt, want to save the world. Justice is their business, and business is good.

And so we have San Diego State University’s Anthony Berteaux, catechizing the uninstructed Jerry Seinfeld for complaining that college students are too politically correct:

We need to talk about the role that provocative comedy holds today in a progressive world.

It isn’t so much that college students are too politically correct (whatever your definition of that concept is), it’s that comedy in our progressive society today can no longer afford to be crass, or provocative for the sake of being offensive. Sexist humor and racist humor can no longer exist in comedy because these concepts are based on archaic ideals that have perpetrated injustice against minorities in the past….

So, yes, Mr. Seinfeld, we college students are politically correct. We will call out sexism and racism if we hear it. But if you’re going to come to my college and perform in front of me, be prepared to write up a set that doesn’t just offend me, but has something to say.

borg queenOh, would that Political Correctness could Borg the world, submitting everyone to a frictionless, unified consciousness while actualizing our individuated diversities.  As Arthur Allen Leff observes, “[w]hat we want, Heaven help us, is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free, that is, at the same time to discover the right and the good and to create it.”  Until that deliverance, we must ensure the progress thus far made. Doing so requires domesticating comedy, proscribing jokes that “can no longer exist” because they reprise the hateful past. Moreover, comedy can’t simply amuse; like propaganda, it must improve us (Read Nick Gillespie’s excellent take-down of such “[d]idactic [a]rt.”)

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The Southern Hazzard of the Rebel Yell

In the wake of the horrific and senseless murders in Charleston, SC last week, national debate has sprung up once again about a flag.  The Civil War era Confederate Flag.  Not unlike the German Third Reich’s Nazi flag, for many, seeing the South’s Rebel Stars & Bars conjures up equally horrific memories of the vile treatment of scores of innocent human lives.  I get it.  Perhaps there are those that would seek to re-redefine the symbol of the swastika with the pre-Nazi factoid, that due to its original use as an ancient decorative symbol in eastern cultures, we shouldn’t allow the Nazis to commandeer such a worldly historical symbol.  Those that may make that argument will lose.  We will never be able to bring back those ancient glory days of when seeing a swastika was pleasing to the eye.  Unless you are a nazi sympathizer, Hitler & Co. have ruined the swastika or any incarnation or variation of it forever.  You can’t “un-see” the horrors its appearance summons, so to speak.

To many, the Battle Flag holds the same sad memories of murder, enslavement, and loss of human dignity.  However, because some Southerners (white or black) are simply proud of being from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina or any other of the former confederate states, they like the image and feel proud to display it as prideful modern day Southerners.  This does not immediately qualify them as a racist.  Sadly, some opportunists use the flag as a political weapon to paint broad strokes on those who fly it to cause divisiveness for their own benefit.  If you make such judgements you are part of the problem, not the solution and not a very intelligent person. Outside of the personal use, if you ask me, the flag does not deserve to fly above any State building of these United States of America for the same reason we would never fly the Union Flag (or Union Jack) above a government building.  All y’all lost the war. ‘Merica!

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College Campuses are too PC, Even for Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld, who’s most famous stand-up comedy bits usually revolve around socks, pajamas and clothing in general, spoke to ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd on the state of doing stand-up comedy on college campuses around America.  Seinfeld admits he doesn’t perform at colleges, but offers an insight into what college students today consider to be sexist, racist, bigoted or any number of the other SIXHIRB words that are bandied about without any rational thought.

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Tomorrowland: Where daring optimism meets crushing reality

I hoped to like Tomorrowland a lot more than I actually did.

love Brad Bird. Iron Giant and The Incredibles are both two of the finest animated films ever created. When he announced that he was directing a secret Disney project, I was intrigued. When we found out that it was going to be called “Tomorrowland”, I was thrilled. When I saw the first trailer, I had no reason to doubt that this would be an exciting and original piece of Asimovian science fiction. And parts of the movie are definitely that.

Without spoiling anything, here’s the set-up:

TOMORROWLAND
Britt Robertson as Casey Newton.

A brilliant, optimistic, yet rebellious young adult, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), is given a mysterious pin which transports her mind to a fantastical futuristic utopia (“Tomorrowland”) where anything is seemingly possible. When the pin stops working, she goes on a mission to discover where it came from and find out how she can get back to the place she saw.

At first she heads to a novelty shop in Texas, where her questions about the pin’s origin wind up getting her attacked by androids with laser guns. She’s rescued by a 12-year-old girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and ultimately dropped at the doorstep of Frank Walker (George Clooney), an exile from Tomorrowland with a clock counting down the end of the world.

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Joe Haldeman’s ‘The Forever War’ Ready for the Big Screen?

(Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.)

It looks like Warner Brothers has outbid everyone else to bring Joe Haldeman’s classic The Forever War to movie theaters hopefully within a reasonable time-frame.

The Hollywood Reporter notes:

Making the package go supernova was the involvement of Prometheus and Passengers screenwriter Jon Spaihts and producer Roy Lee. Producing with Lee are Tatum and his Free Association execs as well as Film 360.

The package started to heat up last week but went fiery Thursday when Warners, Sony and another studio were all ready to write hefty checks. Warners won the project late afternoon paying low six figures against seven for the movie rights. Spaihts’ deal to write the script topped seven figures.

Haldeman’s 1974 novel offers a perspective on his experience as a Vietnam veteran. In it, humans have discovered how to use collapsars (mini-black holes) to travel instantaneously to other parts of the galaxy and beyond. However, the time spent traveling to various destinations (excluding collapsar-to-collapsar), most especially that at, and around. the black holes, makes our protagonist, William Mandella, a “man out of time” as a member of Earth’s fighting forces via the Elite Conscription Act.

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Lessons from Motown: How music smashes cultural barriers and unites us all

After 7 years in college and grad school studying the subject and almost 20 years learning to be a performer and composer, I am still completely fascinated by music and its impact on society.

It’s a necessarily abstract art form, yet it can evoke vividly specific emotions and memories. It can be entirely wordless, yet effortlessly tell elaborate stories and carry incredible drama. It’s inherently ephemeral, yet a single concert can haunt a person for a lifetime.

I’m not usually one to quote poets, but in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Music is the universal language of mankind.”

Well said.

I think it’s because of this universality that music fosters a level of inclusiveness far ahead of every other aspect of human culture. Unlike the visual, film & television, and other types of performing arts, creating great music all but requires a blindness to everything that isn’t about the sound.

To make this point a little more meaningful, I want to play a little game. I’m going to ask you to listen to some great music. Then I’m going to ask you what may seem like a few really dumb questions. Okay?

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Remembering Jefferson: Beagle, Friend, Terror

April 25th marked one year since I lost Jefferson, beagle and beloved terror. I write to remember him. Doubtless some of you are thinking “It’s only his fourth column and he’s already eulogizing dead pets. Spiraling into narcissism are we?  And isn’t this supposed to be a culture blog?” Fair enough. One defense: My dogs have been an education in politics and economics:  When two dogs get new the exact same toy, each still wants the other’s; that a toy may be abandoned for months, but as soon as one rediscovers it, the other demands it; that the keeper’s love and attention are always a zero sum game; and that my basset hound, like a French royal unwary of the guillotine, can laze about while demanding my servitude. Another defense: Life is often hideous and crushing; appreciating its blessings softens its blows. Jefferson and I shared plenty of both, and I’m better for it.

Jefferson was a beagle’s beagle (with possibly a little foxhound mixed in): avid hunter, neurotic demander, chaos on four legs. A definitive anecdote: One afternoon, two dumb-dumb tourists picnicked in a favorite dog park upon ground perpetually befouled by urine and feces. They took a few minutes to retreat, but not before Jefferson indulged multiple drive-bys, snatching their food in perfect glee.

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8 Episodes of The Twilight Zone That Any Friend of Liberty Would Love – Part II

twilight-zone-movieIn Part I, we began our countdown with four episodes of The Twilight Zone that touched on fear of the unknown and how human’s natural instincts react to each other under a veil of suspicion.

For Part II, the list explores futures which are rooted in history, where oppressive states wield their power because they know what’s best for you and for the collective.  Rod Serling, the series’ creator and writer of most episodes, was a decorated WWII veteran and joined the military hoping to fight the Nazis. Serling instead was sent into the Pacific theater to fight against the Japanese.  Having witnessed death and the horrors of war so often, Serling returned to civilian life a strong opponent of military force, and even more opposed to fascistic governments as evidenced in the top three episodes.  But first, we continue with #4 and it’s study on neighborly responsibilities and self-reliance in the face of a looming crisis.

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Psychological Attack!

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I’m making my way through the Vampire Hunter D series of novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi.  This series is as pulpy as it comes, replete with an invulnerable hero, who is by the way devastatingly handsome and experiences the misfortune of having a different busty seventeen year old girl fall in love with him in each novel.  Perhaps the English translation is the cause of the Stilton-like essence emanating from the prose, but I kind of doubt it.  That hasn’t stopped my  enjoyment of the series either, which I find to be imaginative and action-packed.  One of the key elements that I love about it as an inspired piece of vampire literature is something it shares with the most awesome vampire story of all time, Hellsing, and that something is my favorite vampire attack: the psychological attack!  The exclamation point is needed because often the psychological attack is the last thing you’d expect, though what you should have expected all along.  What I love most about this attack is that ultimately, its kind of real.

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Fortress to Frontier

What Can Best Improve Healthcare For All? The Fortress or the Frontier?

 

Thought y’all might be interested in checking out this new video from the Mercatus Center.  Bob Graboyes’s metaphor of the Frontier vs the Fortress is a really insightful tool to look at ANY heavily-regulated industry, not just healthcare.

In debates about ideology, left or right, what’s often missed by both sides is the narrative, the emotional and experiential realities of policy.  When we let fear of failure dominate our thinking, we are inexorably led to protecting ourselves and others from those failures.  We often miss the fact that this protection, which seems a costless benefit, keeps us locked in a kind of creative prison.  In order for creatives to use their imagination to solve problems and promote growth, opportunity and prosperity, we have to be ok with risk, and by virture of that risk, failure.  While that may seem dangerous in areas like healthcare, where failure can mean death, we have to hold in our minds that putting our society’s creative minds in a prison also leads to death.  As the FDA onerously tests drugs for years (saving people from bad drugs that could harm them), people suffering from conditions who are denied those drugs during the testing process experience harm and death while waiting.  The notion that the fortress protects us is an illusion.

While it may be difficult and seem dangerous, we have to believe in the human capacity for creative thought.  The innate human drive to the frontier, to exploration and achievement, is ultimately the only resource that can generate solutions that revolutionize life for all.