Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wow! Long-lost Orson Welles’ movie discovered!

Audiences will be lining up to see the premiere of a new movie from one of film’s greatest directors this October – 75 years after it was made.

Discovered last week in an abandoned shipping company warehouse in Pordenone, Italy, the long-lost film

Photo Courtesy of George Eastman House & Cineteca del Friuli

Welles's wife Virginia Nicolson (left), as Lenore Faddish, and Ruth Ford (Mrs. Billings) scream as their men fight. All of the black-and-white movie scenes displayed here were taken from the 35mm nitrate print of Mercury Theatre's "Too Much Johnson," directed by Orson Welles.

“Too Much Johnson” was the last movie Orson Welles’ directed prior to making "Citizen Kane" in 1941.“Johnson” is one of Welles’ first-known professional films. Story here

As It Stands: SNAP! Brains May Have Built-in GPS Systems

Good Day World!

I’ve got some interesting thoughts – and an article – about demystifying how humans navigate.The new study cited below suggests we use location mechanisms similar to those of rats and other animals.

Why do we use rats so often in studies about humans? I’m sure there’s some geeky argument for it, but it doesn’t seem right to me. Yes, I’ve known some Rat Finks (when was the last time you heard that term?), but their anatomy is much larger.

Back to brains and GPS systems. I’ve always been somewhat challenged as to which way was north or south without a compass in hand. I remember one particularly dark night in 1969, when I was going through a night navigation training course at Ft.Leonard Wood Missouri, when I would have given a body part for a GPS device! Of course, they didn’t have them then.

Perhaps before being affected by Alzheimer’s disease I’ll be the lucky candidate for a GPS implant in my skull! I currently know a lot of people who could use an GPS implant. Call me a chauvinistic pig, but most of the women I’ve known in my life are seriously directionally-challenged! Okay! Okay! Take it easy. Now take a deep breath. Okay?

Moving on. I’d like to make a suggestion to the researchers who use rats to learn about humans; “It’s time to come up with something better than rats. This is the 21st century. Design a medical software program that will test human’s ability to accept a GPS implant. Just think of the problems that would solve!”

Here’s that article I promised:

“A type of brain cell known to help animals keep track of their location has been found for the first time in humans, according to a new study.

Researchers discovered the neurons, called grid cells, because they were activated in the brains of study participants exploring a virtual environment. The cells function like an internal GPS system, and may also play a role in memory, the researchers said.

"Grid cells tell a person where they are in their environment," said study researcher Joshua Jacobs, of Drexel University in Philadelphia, adding that in animals the cells provide a kind of measuring stick for navigation.” (Story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, August 9, 2013

As It Stands: Random warnings throughout our life…

    Good Day World!

I wrote a column last week – Let’s Face it: Common Sense is Not a Common Thing – and I’ve been receiving interesting input from readers.

They’ve been sending me stupid warning signs and labels. One alert reader even suggested I check out a blog called Dumb Warnings. Good call! I love sharing funny stuff with my readers. Here’s some examples and a link to the site(below): 

This product must be cooked prior to eating. (This is a frozen food)- Found on Beef Taco flavor Hot Pockets.

Warning: do not use as a floatation devise. Do not ingest. Found on a Blow up Figaro toy from Mickey D’s (about the size of a CD).

Do not turn upside down (Printed on the bottom of the box). Found on Tesco’s Tirimisu Desert

Warning: May cause drowsiness Found on Nytol Sleep Aid

Do not attempt to stop chain with hands. Found on Jonsreds Chainsaw.

Artificially Flavored Real Fruit Found on Dolly Madison Bakery Cherries.

Warning! This program should not be used in flight training! Death or serious injury could result! Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000.

Caution: Ice cream is cold Found on Hagan Ice Cream

Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains Saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Found on Carefree Gum.

This is NOT a life saving device!!! Found on a Life Saving Device.

Warning: This product contains nuts.Found on Sainsbury Peanuts

Check out more Dumb Warnings here.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, August 8, 2013

As It Stands: When the blind seek to lead again, and again…

   Good Day World!

Do you want to know how badly the Republican party is doing after their latest presidential bid defeat?

The man who promised to lead the way for the GOP, and then got his butt kicked thoroughly is back! Mitt Romney’s crawled back under the GOP tent (he’s been hiding out of shame) and he wants another go at the presidency. No really.

What gall you say? Hey, he’s a politician. They can get away with taking pictures of their weiners and still run for office. So, letting Mutt go around and start talking with GOP members again has hardly caused a stir.

Let’s face it, who else does the GOP have to turn to with any experience in high level politics like running for president? The individuals currently jockeying for position are hardly energizing the Republican base – what’s left of it that is. The party is so shattered that it looks like a tribal war with each faction trying to assert dominance.

With no hope at all of fielding a credible candidate, the GOP is on the verge of once again being led by the blind. Romney didn’t learn his lesson as evidenced by his stubborn insistence to NOT CHANGE anything in the GOP’s message! That, despite his monumental loss and the advice of GOP strategists to court Hispanic and African-American voters.

I suppose it’s the rarified air of being a 1 percenter, but Mutt actually believes people will give him another chance at buying the presidency. Can you imagine the damage Mutt will cause the party if some of the GOP loon toons decide to back him?

If that wouldn’t be a case of the blind-leading-the blind, then I don’t know what would be! Here’s a news snippet about Romney’s attempted resurrection:  

“The Presidential election ended almost nine months ago, but Mitt Romney re-emerged Tuesday to continue his fight against President Barack Obama’s policies and assert himself as a Republican Party elder at a time when the party is struggling to find its path forward.

Romney sought to re-establish himself as a force within the GOP with a speech in the politically crucial state of New Hampshire, weighing in on the fractious battles to play out within the Republican Party since last November.Whether Romney's counsel will sway fellow Republicans — including Cruz, who will take his defund-Obamacare message to Iowa this weekend — is another question.” (Story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

As It Stands: Hump Day topic –The difference between optimists and pessimists

   Good Day World!

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Optimists explain positive events as having happened because of them. They also see them as evidence that more positive things will happen in the future, and in other areas of their lives.

Conversely, they see negative events as not being their fault. They also see them as being flukes that have nothing to do with other areas of their lives or future events.

For example, if an optimist gets a promotion, she will likely believe it’s because she’s good at her job and will receive more benefits and promotion in the future. If she’s passed over for the promotion, it’s likely because she was having an off-month because of extenuating circumstances, but will do better in the future.

Pessimists think in the opposite way. They believe that negative events are caused by them. They believe that one mistake means more will come, and mistakes in other areas of life are inevitable, because they are the cause. They see positive events as flukes that are caused by things outside their control and probably won’t happen again.

A pessimist would see a promotion as a lucky event that probably won’t happen again, and may even worry that she’ll now be under more scrutiny. Being passed over for promotion would probably be explained as not being skilled enough. She'd therefore expect to be passed over again.

Understandably, if you’re an optimist, this bodes well for your future. Negative events are more likely to roll off of your back, but positive events affirm your belief in yourself, your ability to make good things happen now and in the future, and in the goodness of life.

Fortunately for pessimists and realists, these patterns of thinking can be learned to a degree (though we tend to be mostly predisposed to our patterns of thinking.) Using a practice called ‘cognitive restructuring,' you can help yourself and others become more optimistic by consciously challenging negative, self-limiting thinking and replacing it with more optimistic thought patterns.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Article Sources:
Peterson, Christopher; Seligman, Martin E.; Vaillant, George E.; Pessimistic explanatory style is a risk factor for physical illness: A thirty-five-year longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 55(1), Jul, 1988. pp. 23-27.
Peterson, C. (2000). The future of optimism. American Psychologist, 55, 44–55.
Solberg Nes, L. S., & Segerstrom, S. C. (2006). Dispositional optimism and coping: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 235–251.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

As It Stands: Transportation Futurism- cars in the sky & flying saucers for all!

     Good Day World!

I’m not sure why, but every time I get on the topic of futuristic transportation I think of The Jetsons! Those flying cars impressed me more than I thought I suppose.

I remember going to Disneyland, Walt Disney's metropolis of nostalgia, fantasy, and futurism, when it opened on July 17, 1955. The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California.

Autotopia was one of the many attractions on that opening day, and I got my first glimpse of futuristic cars! I was wowed! I fell in love with cars on the spot. As the years went by I went from futuristic cars, funny cars, race cars, and back to futuristic cars.

Some nostalgia for today:

Here’ some transportation-related illustrations and concepts from popular science and science fiction magazines - most of them rarely seen examples from unlikely sources, such as vintage Communist Youth magazine illustrations, or fantastic covers from international book editions.

How are we going to get to the future like this? Well, according to The March of Progress published in 1952 issue of Popular Mechanics, it's going to happen.... gradually.

("Science on the March", Popular Mechanics, January 1952 - illustrated by A. Leydenfrost, via)

"The Roads That Glow" seems to be a special safety feature (above), conceived by Art Radebaugh for RCA Transistors Run Electronic Car of Tomorrow (1964)

Or, imagine riding in a highway Family Cruiser concoction like the ones shown below on a Mechanix Illustrated Cover

(image via)

The car above may look like a modified shampoo bottle, but it also projects the ideas of the 1960s optimism and great expectations for future transportation in general.

Flying Saucers for Everybody! Via 1954 – all captions text & photos via Dark Roasted Blend 

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, August 5, 2013

As It Stands: Shmeat isn’t going to replace my meat soon!

           Good Day World!

 So here’s the deal…

There’s been countless studies done that show the way farming is currently done will be simply unsustainable by 2050. Countries like China and Brazil have a growing hunger for meat and Americans aren’t forsaking it for veggie burgers.

There’s groups of people who believe plant-based protein substitutes could be the answer to meet the increasing demand. So far, that isn’t happening.

Enter, Lab Grown Meat Products! Eeeuuuuuu… that’s right. One of those groups in the Netherlands have worked out a system to take stem cells from a living cow, put them into a nutrient solution, and grow them into small strands of muscle tissue. About 20,000 such strands are needed to make one five-ounce burger!

Without being a mathematician, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how much this procedure would cost. In the following story you’ll get a ballpark estimate of what one burger would cost using the current method. Needless to say, I don’t see this catching on soon in the USA: 

It's (not) alive! Franken-meat lurches from the lab to the frying pan

A hamburger that looks like one you'd get at any fast-food restaurant comes with a price tag of $330,000 — and it isn't even made out of natural meat. When volunteers taste it today, in front of rows of VIPs and TV cameras, they'll be eating the first publicly available burger that comes from a laboratory instead of a dead animal.

Lab-grown meat, also known as in-vitro meat or "shmeat" (sheet meat), is just one of the more recent twists in a decades-long effort to develop alternatives to the kind of meat humans have been eating for millennia.” (Story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, August 4, 2013

As It Stands: Let’s face it, common sense is not a common thing

 By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard

 I’m not sure when common sense became a rare commodity in this country. There are always a certain number of people without common sense in any era.

I tend to trace the current epidemic to the infamous hot coffee case against McDonald’s when a woman sued (and won) because she was burned when she spilled a cup of the fast-food restaurant’s coffee on her lap.

This spawned an age where even the most obvious things need to be explained in simple language. “Don’t slide your finger along this new knife,” or “Don’t put your fingers in the toaster” suddenly had to be spelled out for adults.

I don’t know what happened prior to that, but since it became necessary we live without objecting to the simplistic statements that accompany nearly everything we purchase.

I’m just warming up. One thing that really disturbs me is people who don’t use common sense in the heat. Especially this extreme summer. So far this year there have been at least 21 deaths of children left unattended in vehicles, according to a study from the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco University.

Why would you leave a baby unattended in a car regardless of the temperature outside? Where’s the common sense in that? What are people thinking? I’ve read a lot of theories on the dumbing down of America, but when it comes right down to it many people were already lacking common sense.

Nothing too complicated about that. The people who do have common sense are rapidly becoming a minority. Look at Congress. If there are two senators who have common sense, I’d like to know their names! The ideology driven goons currently taking up space in both houses have forsaken common sense long ago.

Common sense is a personality trait that allows a person to discern the obvious from what they see or do. Unfortunately, too many people lack this basic personality trait to make stupid decisions which they pathetically try to justify.

 Common sense should tell people-even children-that TV shows such as "Power Rangers" are not reality. Two eleven-year-old boys, however, tried to re-enact a scene from the above-mentioned show by burying an eight-year-old boy alive in the ground, thinking he would grow back out.

 Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts." Thus, "common sense" (in this view) equates to the knowledge and experience which most people have, or which the person using the term believes they do.

  Common sense is not so common.” according to Voltaire. The problem has been around for a long time and I probably shouldn’t waste my time worrying about the lack of it in our society. Why should I care if people don’t have enough sense to stop texting while walking and end up falling off a pier in broad daylight?

 I’ll tell you why I care; every now and then I have to deal with people who have no common sense. It’s difficult not to say something when someone tugs on a door to a restaurant or store with a sign on it that says “Push.”

 You know what I’m talking about.

In “I Robot Isaac Asimov writes “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say 'It's as plain as the nose on your face.' But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

 There’s an old Proverb that says “A handful of common sense is worth a bushel of learning.” I’ve found that to be true during my career when I’ve dealt with people who have a masters degree, yet can’t seem to understand how the real world works.

 Robert Green Ingersoll wrote, “It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.”

 I’ve met people who believe common sense is an impediment to their lifestyle and go out of their way to do stupid things to prove they’re the salt of the earth. They treat common sense like a drone invading their world of make believe.

I grew up believing common sense was a virtue. I still do. I admit I don’t know why so many people who lack it run our government. Perhaps because of voters lacking common sense, who vote for pretty faces adept at rhetoric. It’s a thought.

As It Stands, my favorite artist Leonardo da Vinci - a man of uncommon good sense -said, “Common sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.”

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...