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July 17, 2012

Overnight Open Thread (7-17-2012)

"The Obama Effect": Not a Parody

Okay when I first watched this trailer I thought it was just a fairly lame SNL attempt at parody but's for reals - as in people are actually going to the theater tonight and paying money to see it without men with guns or kidnapped children in vans down by the river being involved.

Charles Dutton wrote and directed this movie where he plays man in his 50's who has a heart attack and then develops a obsessive man-crush on the presidential candidate, Barack Obama. He dedicates his entire life to Obama's campaign but then realizes - thanks to the guidance of Saint Obama - that he's also neglected his family and friends. Luckily thanks again to the 'Obama Effect' he gets his life back on the right path just as Obama sweeps to glorious victory in the 2008 election.

Yep there's 83 more minutes of maudlin agit-prop where this came from. Even Twilight-loving Mrs. Justin Bieber-signature-practicing middle-school fan girls would find this movie just a bit heavy handed. And before you watch the trailer below be sure and read King Shamus' epic take-down of it here.

Oh and the black Republican character is supposed to be an over-the-top caricature but I'm betting that a movie about him would have been a lot more entertaining, interesting and profitable as well.

According to this movie Democrats quit their jobs, have uncontrollable man-crushes on their presidential candidates and annoy their neighbors.  In the meantime, Republicans get to be rich and have a lot of sex.  Was the script written by Ralph Nader? 
Conclusion:  What is the point of "The Obama Effect"?  Seriously, what story is this flick supposed to tell?  I think everybody knows Obama won the 2008 election.  We needed a feature length motion picture to fill us in on that?

...Apparently "The Obama Effect" means people should sacrifice their time, money and livelihood so that their dreamy puppy-dog crush can live in a nice house and rule over us all in an imperious fashion. 

If that's the case, then we've all been living The Obama effect for the last three years, whether we wanted to or not.

Of course as a convicted felon Charles Dutton couldn't actually vote for Obama himself in 2008 so I guess this movie falls under fantasy-prop as well.

Ah Those Thoughtful Columbia, GA Code Enforcement Officers

Because if you don't hear them knock at the door, they'll even come inside and wake you up.

A woman got the shock of her life when she woke up to find a stranger in her bedroom, yelling at her to wake up because her grass was too long. Erica Masters was asleep when Columbia County Code Compliance Officer Jimmy Vowell entered her Martinez, Georgia, home without permission to serve a violation notice for her overgrown lawn. After knocking on the woman's door a few times, Vowell let himself and made his way into her bedroom, which was captured on surveillance video.

Ten Conspiracy Theories for Nerds

For the nerd-types who prefer smarter theories and less conspiracy involving <shudder> other human beings.

Of course the details don't really matter since this is all just a simulated universe where entities like you and I can imagine simulated universes. Oh and the NSA has had quantum computers since the late 70's. Computers capable of simulating smaller universes.

The Simulation Argument. This is legion in popular culture from "The Matrix" and "Inception" and other sci-fi, so we'll just refer you to Nick Bostrom's formulation of it. In theory we could tell the difference if something happened in the manner of The Truman Show where a light labeled "Sirius" falls from the sky. But are there any such events?

We offer one complexity-related observation. Although it is routine to say that classes like P and BQP have universal simulation, this isn't strictly true. The universal function for P doesn't belong to P  - if it did, then P would be in some fixed polynomial time bound, which it isn't. Although proving this is technically murkier for "random" or "promise" classes like BQP the essential idea holds for any reasonable complexity class. Thus a universal simulation involves dropping down to a lower grade than the resources on which you draw. If our universe is convincingly universal, perhaps this is a well-motivated reason to reject the argument.

Heh: "You Got Laid Last Night? That's Nice, But . . .somebody else made that happen. Sport."

"If you are healthy, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great doctor somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American medical system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in bikepaths and broccoli. If you've got a healthy body - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. Cyclosporine didn't get invented on its own."


Getting Star Trek on the Air Was Impossible

From a series of letters between Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry on the difficulties of creating an entertaining sci-fi tv series and trying to be scientifically accurate at the same time.

Quoting Ted Sturgeon who made his first script attempt with us (and now seems firmly established as a contributor to good television), getting Star Trek on the air was impossible, putting out a program like this on a TV budget is impossible, reaching the necessary mass audience without alienating the select SF audience is impossible, not succumbing to network pressure to "juvenilize" the show is impossible, keeping it on the air is impossible. We've done all of these things. Perhaps someone else could have done it better, but no one else did.
June, 1967

Dear Isaac,

Wish you were out here.

I would dearly love to discuss with you a problem about the show and the format. It concerns Captain James Kirk and of course the actor who plays that role, William Shatner. Bill is a fine actor, has been in leads on Broadway, has done excellent motion pictures, is generally rated as fine an actor as we have in this country. But we're not getting the use of him that we should and it is not his fault. It's easy to give good situations and good lines to Spock. And to a lesser extent the same rule is true of the irascible Dr. McCoy. I guess it's something like doing a scene with several businessmen in a room with an Eskimo. The interesting and amusing situations, the clever lines, would tend to go to the Eskimo. Or in our case, the Eskimos.

And yet Star Trek needs a strong lead, an Earth lead. Without diminishing the importance of the secondary continuing characters. But the problem we generally find is this-if we play Kirk as a true ship commander, strong and hard, devoted to career and service, it too often makes him seem unlikable. On the other hand, if we play him too warm-hearted, friendly and so on, the attitude often is "how did a guy like that get to be a ship commander?" Sort of a damned if he does and damned if he doesn't situation. Actually, although it is missed by the general audience, it is Kirk's fine handling of a most difficult role that permits Spock and the others to come off as well as they do. But Kirk does deserve more and so does the actor who plays him. I am in something of a quandary about it.

Got any ideas?


Read the rest to see how Asimov resolved the Kirk/Spock plot quandry.


The 7-Way Venn Diagram

Seven hawt sets walk into a bar. How many ways can they hook up?


First World Problems: There's Now Plastic Surgery for Fat Toes

Because women don't have enough of a perfection complex in our culture, now comes the latest plastic surgery craze: toe-slimming surgery, for those with toe-bese phalanges. Apparently plastic surgeons are seeing a rise in people requesting toe-shortening and slimming procedures. Surgeon Oliver Zong says the operation was born out of patient requests.

...But ethical or no, people are doing it. People like E.R., who was stricken with an ultra-large big toe. "I always had issues with it," he said. "It was one of those things that you're just not comfortable with and try to hide it." So he had the toe shaved down.


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Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.

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