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Even before he was Sir Alec Guinness, he starred in The Man in the White Suit:
The Man in the White Suit is an Ealing Comedy, meaning it was one of a slew of comedies produced by Ealing Studios between 1947 and 1957. Guinness was a mainstay in these productions, and is probably best known for starring in Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers.
There were no spaceships or robots in this film; Guinness portrayed Sidney Stratton, an idealistic young inventor who creates a new synthetic fabric that's virtually indestructible and never gets dirty, it repels dirt with a static charge.
The owner of the mill where Sidney works loves the idea, until he realizes that no one will ever need to replace their clothing again, meaning he's out of business. Sidney's co-workers turn against him too, when they realize that they will be out of a job.
That said, The Man in the White Suit is one of the few movies ever to do what classic science fiction is supposed to: imagine a scientific breakthrough, a novum, and then see how it changes everything. (Or how it creates a social backlash, in this case.)
And his quasi-love interest, Daphne (the daughter of the mill owner), explains the dream most succinctly, when she tells Sidney: “Millions of people all over the world are living lives of drudgery, fighting an endless, losing battle against shabbiness and dirt. You’ve won that battle for them. You’ve set them free. The world’s going to bless you.”
But the prediction that “the world’s going to bless you” is sorely mistaken — and in a sense, The Man in the White Suit predicts the dilemmas that we’re still facing today. Technology is poised to eliminate more and more “drudgery” from our lives, by automating jobs that used to be done by hand. But that also means eliminating jobs (including, at this point, a ton of white-collar jobs.) And it turns out, as Sidney discovers, that setting people free isn’t an unalloyed benefit.
The Man in the White Suit takes a certain amount of care to portray a wide spectrum of society, as part of its broad social satire. We get to know some of the workers at the textile mill where Sidney has been hired as a menial laborer, as well as a lot of the rich capitalists who own the mill and other similar ones. Sidney is befriended by his landlady, as well as one of the workers on the textile mill floor, Bertha. Later, when the workers find out what Sidney’s been up to, Bertha insists that he’s being exploited, because in her mind he’s one of the workers. (And Bertha gets a lot of the best lines in the film, about the “dead hand of monopoly” and the relentless logic of capitalism.)
The film is structured as a farce, with lots of people running in and out of rooms and being chased and hiding — but it’s also a very broad look at how technological change threatens entrenched interests, and the ruthlessness with which the system of capital and labor colludes to keep innovation down.
Here's the IMDB page for The Man in the White Suit.
Posted by LongTomH | Thu Jun 11, 2015, 11:34 PM (1 replies)
Margaret Lazarus Dean mourns the loss of the space shuttle, NASA's 40-year embarassment. Author Margaret Lazarus Dean joins the ranks of other authors who've written about America's space program. Her book: Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight, celebrates and mourns the space shuttle years.
Margaret Lazarus Dean, an associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville, loved the shuttle more than most. She loved it so much that she attributed distinct personalities to the individual vehicles. Columbia was “bumbly, a chunky older sister forever dropping crumpled tissues from her sleeves”; Challenger “the fuzziest, friendliest of the orbiters”; Endeavour “a quirky cousin from another country.” She loved the shuttle program so much that over and again in 2011 she forsook her students and husband and young son to drive the 700 miles between Knoxville and Cape Canaveral and witness the surviving shuttles’ final launches. She loved it so much that she wrote a book about these trips: Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight. A memoir of technological obsession, it reminds us that even when a machine fails by all other criteria, it can still succeed erotically.
Like so many obsessions, Dean’s began in pain. After her parents’ divorce, she spent childhood weekends with her father at the National Air and Space Museum, marveling at the high-tech relics and thinking that “despite their long and growing list of appalling limitations, grown-ups had at least done this: they had figured out how to fly to space.” On a film shot by shuttle astronauts she saw Judith Resnik, fourth woman in space, destined to die in the 1986 Challenger disaster, floating asleep and surrounded by the dark ringlets of her hair: “I fell in love.” In a passage that reads almost like Freudian fetish origination, Dean explains that her obsession began there, with “the air-conditioned, musty smell of Air and Space … a space-scarred Apollo capsule, the floating black curls of Judith Resnik, and my father’s calm voice.” Dean grew up, became a writer, and wrote a first novel about Challenger and a NASA engineer’s daughter. When the shuttle’s retirement was announced, she knew what her second book’s subject would be.
I can relate! I've loved the dream of space since childhood. I loved the shuttle when it was just a dream; I listened to NASA films (this was before the days of video) with Wernher von Braun describing the shuttle, rolling his 'r's as he described the orbiter. I was part of an organization called the L-5 Society, inspired by the work of Princeton physicist, Gerard K. O'Neill.
L-5 Members had high hopes for the shuttle and the proposed shuttle-derived vehicles. It was to be the vehicle that opened up space to routine travel. Gerry O'Neill did much of his work on space manufacturing using cost estimates for shuttle-derived vehicles. There were numerous studies about using space shuttle tanks as building modules for space stations and crew habitats.
And we were continually disappointed, sometime tragically. We mourned the loss of the Challenger crew. We were continually disappointed to find that the shuttle didn't really fulfill any of its promises:
Given all that, like Margaret Lazarus Dean, I still loved the shuttle. It democratized space, opening it to a much wider slice of humanity than Apollo, including older Americans like 54 year old Dr. William Thornton, Dr. Sally Ride, our first woman in space, and Col. Guion Bluford, first African American in space.
That large payload bay was never completely filled; it was supposed to carry up to 60,000 lbs. It never carried more than half that; nevertheless, it allowed for historic firsts like the repair of the Solar Max Mission spacecraft in 1984, the Hubble Telescope servicing missions, and construction of the International Space Station.
With all its failings, I loved the shuttle, celebrating its achievements, and mourning the deaths of brave astronauts. The hope of routine access to space lies in the future. Maybe we will finally become the space faring species that we hoped shuttle would make us; but, that's not assured.
Posted by LongTomH | Thu Jun 4, 2015, 06:09 PM (19 replies)
........just as they did with the UN's Agenda 21:
Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.
Agenda 21: The U.N. Conspiracy That Just Won't Die
It’s been called “the most dangerous threat to American sovereignty”; “An anti-human document, which takes aim at Western culture, and the Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions,” that will bring “new Dark Ages of pain and misery yet unknown to mankind,” and “abolish golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads,” in the name of creating a “one-world order.”
It’s been the subject of several forewarning books and DVDs; there are organizations dedicated to stopping it and politicians have been unseated for supporting it. Glenn Beck has spent a good portion of his career making people scared of it.
The Southern Poverty Law Center's report on right-wing paranoia about Agenda 21 exposes some of the groups and individuals responsible for spreading this paranoia. The state legislature of Alabama has passed legislation outlawing effects of Agenda 21. State legislatures in New Hampshire, Tennessee, and (of course!) Kansas have passed resolutions condemning it.
Posted by LongTomH | Mon Jun 1, 2015, 07:05 PM (0 replies)
JFK would have been 98 today; remember him and remember when a president could really talk like this?
"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask "why not?"."
Posted by LongTomH | Fri May 29, 2015, 11:27 PM (5 replies)
From Addicting Info:
Last week France made headlines around the world after they passed an amendment to a larger law that makes it illegal for large supermarkets to throw away edible food. The amendment makes it so that any food that is not yet expired but would normally be thrown out now has to be given to charity, used for animal feed, or turned into biomass. The law itself wont officially be passed until Tuesday, but there isn’t any doubt that the law will be passed in full. Those who violate the law will face stiff penalties or jail time. Now the politician, who helped make that happen, is determined to expand the idea on a global scale. Arash Derambarsh is municipal councilor for the “Divers Droit” which in English translates to the “diverse right.”
M. Derambarsh described his own experiences as a literally starving law student for The Guardian:
“I have been insulted and attacked and accused of being naive and idealistic, but I became a local councillor because I wanted to help people. Perhaps it is naive to be concerned about other human beings, but I know what it is like to be hungry.
“When I was a law student living on about €400 ($437.48 U.S) a month after I’d paid my rent, I used to have one proper meal a day around 5pm. I’d eat pasta, or potatoes, but it’s hard to study or work if you are hungry and always thinking about where the next meal will come from.”
Derambarsh plans on working with ONE, to promote the removal of global food waste at the G20 economic summit held in Turkey this year, as well the COP21 Paris Climate talks.
Global food waste is a global scourge that hurts both the developed world and the developing one. A report from the United Nations released in 2013, found that globally the world wastes about 1.3 billion tons of food each year. That waste costs the global economy about $750 billion dollars every year as well. The amount of waste in the global food system also has terrible consequences for the environment. About 28% of the world’s agricultural lands are wasted on growing food that ends up being wasted. Those wasted crops also drink up an astounding amount of water. The U.N says that so much water is wasted it is the “equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River”. The Volga River is the largest river in Europe. Global food waste is doing its part in wrecking the climate as well, causing an extra 3.8 billion tons of extra carbon pollution to be released into the atmosphere every year.
With the world facing a water crisis as well as an ongoing hunger crisis, this sounds like a damn good idea to me! Food banks, like Kansas City's Harvesters, could use some of this 'waste' food to distribute to the poor.
Posted by LongTomH | Tue May 26, 2015, 02:58 PM (22 replies)
The Icarus Interstellar Facebook page says that Mr. Pernefeldt has been invited to the 2015 Starship Congress; no word yet on whether he has accepted.
The Starship Congress is the convention for the Icarus Interstellar Foundation, a private, international organization dedicated to research on interstellar travel.
Posted by LongTomH | Fri May 22, 2015, 07:29 PM (0 replies)
From Patheos: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2009/11/christian-dominionism-part-1-the-ties-that-bind-extremist-politics-to-christian-patriarchy/
In recent years, most popular culture discussions of the Christian Quiverfull movement center on the charming Duggar family of TLC reality fame. The Duggars—parents of eighteen children with another on the way—are seen by many as a wholesome—if quirky—example of a healthy family with astoundingly polite and well-behaved children. It is nearly impossible to have a discussion with a well-meaning Quiverfull-illiterate without hearing that familiar refrain: “They just seem like such nice people!”
The overwhelming majority of Quiverfull families—who comprise a miniscule percentage of the American population—are followers of an extremist brand of right-wing politics called Christian Dominionism. Motivated by such writers as RJ Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer, they want to establish a militant Christian theocracy in the United States. Not only that, but they have imperialistic designs on the rest of the world.
In this era of Christian Right ascendancy, there are at least three names that those of us who remain committed to transparent democratic processes should know: RJ Rushdoony (intellectual father of Christian Dominionism), Bill Gothard (Quiverfull’s figurehead for stealth political organizing), and Erik Prince (CEO of Xe—formerly Blackwater—and the first Christian Dominionist to amass a private army capable of successfully overthrowing a government). The rest of the posts in this series will show what each of these men is about and shed light on this often dismissed—but increasingly powerful—fringe minority. It appears as though TLC will continue to romanticize the Quiverfull lifestyle for the foreseeable future, and it’s up to those of us who know better to shed a brighter light on its politics.
Born in 1916 to Armenian immigrants in the United States, Rousas John Rushdoony was a Calvinist theologian whose fundamentalist teachings would provide the intellectual foundations for Christian Dominionism—or Christian Reconstructionism—in North America. In his writings, Rushdoony laid the groundwork for the establishment of a Christian theocracy not unlike Calvin’s Geneva in the contemporary United States. Rushdoony’s multi-volume opus, The Institutes of Biblical Law, has provided much of the movement’s political framework.
Rushdoony today remains a popular figure among fundamentalist Quiverfull families. He was an early proponent of the view that Christian families should homeschool their children in order to shelter them from secular schools in the United States. Among other works, his Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum was heard as a rallying cry for parents who shared Rushdoony’s disdain for the evils of secular humanism. For Rushdoony, the Christian homeschool was seen—almost literally—as a military training ground for the children who would become the foot soldiers in this war to replace the secular government of the United States with a fundamentalist one. In defense of these goals, Rushdoony famously wrote that “Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.”
Erik Prince? Remember him? He's the Blackwater / Xe guy:
One thing that has not been widely reported, however, is Xe’s Dominionist allegiance, up to and including the fact that its former CEO—and now chairman—Erik Prince, is the biological heir apparent to the U.S. Dominionist community.
Oh, while you're at it; read the Wikipedia pages on the Quiverfull and Dominionist movements.
Posted by LongTomH | Fri May 22, 2015, 07:17 PM (2 replies)
Great artwork in this article: Oskar Pernefeldt envisions the international flag of Planet Earth.
Wired.com: The Earth now has a flag for when we reach Mars
Oskar Pernefeldt's site for the flag: The International Flag of Planet Earth
The scientific study of flags is called vexillology, and the practice of designing flags is called vexillography. Both of these are an outcome of heraldry. In these practices there are different unofficial design rules/costums, about colors, placement, proportions, typography, and aestethics in general.
This proposal is accurate according to the regulations regarding flags.
Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked. The blue field represents water which is essential for life – also as the oceans cover most of our planet's surface. The flower's outer rings form a circle which could be seen as a symbol of Earth as a planet and the blue surface could represent the universe.
Centered on an azure field, seven circles of silver interlaced, creating a flower.
Posted by LongTomH | Thu May 21, 2015, 08:31 PM (1 replies)
Don't get me wrong; I'm a space geek from way back. In 2013, I sat glued to my PC watching Icarus Interstellar's Starship Congress, especially the third day when Dr. Harold 'Sonny' White and others talked about 'Black Sky' (way beyond Blue Sky) concepts like warp drives.
Dr. White and his Eagleworks Laboratories are the researchers on both his tabletop warp bubble demonstration and 'Q thrusters' like the ones described in the article.
Dr. White's presentation at the Starship Congress:
Here's where I need to advise caution; a lot of people in science remember debacles like:
I remember a NASA researcher expressing caution about the superconducting magnet research; she made it completely clear that she wanted to avoid another 'cold fusion.'
In summary, remain skeptical, or at least tentative until this is replicated. I understand that other NASA centers and university labs are working to get independent verification.
Posted by LongTomH | Fri Apr 24, 2015, 09:00 PM (0 replies)
There was an estimate of 2000 people marching along KC's Main Street and around the University of Missouri KC Campus. I saw signs supporting fast-food workers, home care workers, adjunct faculty and janitors. The rally speakers included KC's mayor and representatives from faith communities.
There were earlier rallies and protests at fast food outlets around the city:
I'm proud to say I was at the rally and the march. My feet are sore, and I know I'll be really sore and stiff tomorrow morning; but, I'm really glad I was there.
Please post pictures from marches in your city!
Posted by LongTomH | Wed Apr 15, 2015, 11:05 PM (2 replies)