Thursday, October 14, 2021

COLD WAR CREATURES: FOUR FILMS FROM SAM KATZMAN

Recommended Halloween Viewing: COLD WAR CREATURES: FOUR FILMS FROM SAM KATZMAN, a new Arrow Video Blu-ray set that includes Edward L. Cahn's CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN (1955), Fred F. Sears' THE WEREWOLF (1956), Edward L. Cahn's ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU (1957), and Fred F. Sears' THE GIANT CLAW (1957).

Here's Arrow's product description:

"Zombies! Werewolves! Atomic Mutation! Intergalactic Avians! Let this quartet of classic terrors take you back to the golden age of B-Movie Monsters! A mob boss hires an ex-Nazi scientist to reanimate his dead thugs in Creature with the Atom Brain. An auto-accident survivor is used as an experimental subject to create a vaccine for nuclear fallout with hair-raising side-effects in The Werewolf. Treasure hunters get more than they bargained for in the search for a cargo of diamonds that went down with a sunken ship when they discover the zombified crew members are guarding the loot in Zombies of Mora Tau. Meanwhile, an enormous bird from outer-space descends to chow down on the people of planet Earth in The Giant Claw! Four fantastic feature presentations from prolific producer Sam Katzman with a bounty of brand new extras and a raft of new writing by a range of respected raconteurs. These Cold War Creatures are coming for you!"

Click HERE to read Jaime Pina's recent PUNKGLOBE interview with renowned writer/artist Stephen R. Bissette, who contributed bonus material (i.e., a "live" video lecture and bonus booklet text) to this new set.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

POSSESSOR

Recommended Halloween Viewing: Readers of both CRYPTOSCATOLOGY and CHAMELEO will no doubt be interested in the subject matter of Brandon Cronenberg's 2020 film, POSSESSOR.

POSSESSOR TRAILER



Friday, October 1, 2021

Pathology of the Humor Virus

Here's an excerpt from my 8-30-20 SALON article entitled "Making Sense of QAnon: What Lies Behind the Conspiracy Theory That's Eating America?":

"In 2017, a year after Trump’s election, I published a novel entitled UNTIL THE LAST DOG DIES, which was about a young stand-up comedian who must adapt as best he can to an apocalyptic virus that destroys only the humor centers of the brain. After wading through hours of this humorless QAnon material, in which even the most innocuous Disney cartoons are flensed of fun and replaced with dark speculations about the demonic symbols hovering like unholy specters over Uncle Walt’s films, I’m beginning to think that my novel was far more prescient that I could have imagined."

Incontrovertible proof of the existence of the "Humor Virus" can be found in the most recent episode of THE B2T SHOW, a loopy Christian Patriot internet talk show featured prominently in my recent EVERGREEN REVIEW series entitled "If You’re Into Eating Children’s Brains, You’ve Got a Four-Year Free Ride: A QAnon Bedtime Story." If you fast forward to approximately the 33:40 mark, you will witness the host, Rick Rene, believing with not a hint of skepticism whatsoever that comedian Fred Armisen (of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and PORTLANDIA fame) is an actual representative of the Australian government and that a scene from an episode of the TV sitcom PARKS & RECREATION is a genuine news clip. Carefully study the stone-cold expression on Rick's mug as he listens to Armisen's blatant silliness and interprets it as undeniable evidence of imminent martial law in the United States of Amurrrica. Click HERE to watch this extremely bizarre clip (it ends around the 35:00 mark).

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Dr. William Joseph Bryan, Jr. & DEMENTIA 13

The new Blu-ray of Francis Ford Coppola's DEMENTIA 13, just released on September 21, is important from a Cryptoscatological perspective due mainly to the involvement of the notorious Dr. William Joseph Bryan, Jr., a prominent figure in THE ASSASSINATION OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY by William Turner and Jonn Christian. I wrote about Dr. Bryan in the pages of my first book, CRYPTOSCATOLOGY: CONSPIRACY THEORY AS ART FORM. Film historian Tim Lucas reviews this new "Director's Cut" version at VIDEO WATCHBLOG:

"Even with the added material, the film ultimately had to be brought up to an acceptable length by filming a 'DEMENTIA 13 Test' prologue featuring Dr. William Joseph Bryan, Jr., who had been the technical advisor for the hypnosis scenes in the 'Case of M. Valdemar' segment of Corman's TALES OF TERROR (1962)."
 

 
Dementia 13: Director's Cut (1963 Movie) Official Trailer – Francis Ford Coppola
 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

THE ATLANTIC: "Trump's Plans for a Coup Are Now Public"

From Adam Serwer's 9-23-21 ATLANTIC article entitled "Trump's Plans for a Coup Are Now Public":

Last year, John Eastman, whom CNN describes as an attorney working with Donald Trump’s legal team, wrote a preposterous memo outlining how then–Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election by fiat or, failing that, throw the election to the House of Representatives, where Republicans could install Trump in office despite his loss to Joe Biden. The document, which was first reported by the Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their new book, is a step-by-step plan to overthrow the government of the United States through a preposterous interpretation of legal procedure.

Pence apparently took the idea seriously—so seriously, in fact, that, according to Woodward and Costa, former Vice President Dan Quayle had to talk him out of it. Prior to November, the possibility of Trump attempting a coup was seen as the deranged fever dream of crazed liberals. But as it turns out, Trump and his advisers had devised explicit plans for reversing Trump’s loss. Republican leaders deliberately stoked election conspiracy theories they knew to be false, in order to lay a political pretext for invalidating the results. Now, more than 10 months after the election, the country knows of at least five ways in which Trump attempted to retain power despite his defeat.

Serwer then goes on to explain, in detail, those five methods: 1) Trump tried to pressure secretaries of state to not certify, 2) He tried to pressure state legislatures to overturn the results, 3) he tried to get the courts to overturn the results, 4) He tried to pressure Mike Pence to overturn the results, and 5) When all else failed, he tried to get a mob to overturn the results.

At the rally prior to the vote count in Congress, Trump urged the crowd to act, saying, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” The explicit goal of the rally and subsequent riot was to pressure Congress, and Pence in particular, into overturning the election results. Trump told his followers, “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.”

This scheme didn’t work on its own, but it certainly could have helped one of the others: Imagine if Pence had gone along with Eastman’s absurd plan, and a mob had been present at the Capitol to help enforce the decision and menace lawmakers who tried to oppose it—then what? As it stands, the mob ransacked the Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee. Had the mob succeeded at reaching any actual legislators, the consequences could have been catastrophic [...].

Those who attempted to subvert democracy have faced few political or legal consequences. As is typical, some rioters are facing prosecution while the elites who tried to overthrow the election through more bureaucratic or procedural means remain in good standing with their peers. The failure to impose accountability for an attempt to overthrow the constitutional order will encourage further such efforts.

Meanwhile, those rare Republicans who did stand up against this attempt to destroy American democracy are the only ones dealing with real political consequences from their party, facing primary challenges, being forced into retirement, or being stripped of their leadership positions. Republican officials who were unwilling to use their office to overturn the election results are seeing challenges from Trump devotees who will, should the opportunity arise again.

To read Serwer's entire article, click HERE.

Surveillance and Harassment in Portland (Part 4)

From Peter Boghossian's 9-8-21 post entitled "My University Sacrificed Ideas for Ideology. So Today I Quit":

Early in the 2016-17 academic year, a former student complained about me and the university initiated a Title IX investigation. (Title IX investigations are a part of federal law designed to protect “people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.”) My accuser, a white male, made a slew of baseless accusations against me, which university confidentiality rules unfortunately prohibit me from discussing further. What I can share is that students of mine who were interviewed during the process told me the Title IX investigator asked them if they knew anything about me beating my wife and children. This horrifying accusation soon became a widespread rumor.

With Title IX investigations there is no due process, so I didn’t have access to the particular accusations, the ability to confront my accuser, and I had no opportunity to defend myself. Finally, the results of the investigation were revealed in December 2017. Here are the last two sentences of the report: “Global Diversity & Inclusion finds there is insufficient evidence that Boghossian violated PSU’s Prohibited Discrimination & Harassment policy. GDI recommends Boghossian receive coaching.”

Not only was there no apology for the false accusations, but the investigator also told me that in the future I was not allowed to render my opinion about “protected classes” or teach in such a way that my opinion about protected classes could be known — a bizarre conclusion to absurd charges. Universities can enforce ideological conformity just through the threat of these investigations.

I eventually became convinced that corrupted bodies of scholarship were responsible for justifying radical departures from the traditional role of liberal arts schools and basic civility on campus. There was an urgent need to demonstrate that morally fashionable papers — no matter how absurd — could be published. I believed then that if I exposed the theoretical flaws of this body of literature, I could help the university community avoid building edifices on such shaky ground.

So, in 2017, I co-published an intentionally garbled peer-reviewed paper that took aim at the new orthodoxy. Its title: “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” This example of pseudo-scholarship, which was published in Cogent Social Sciences, argued that penises were products of the human mind and responsible for climate change. Immediately thereafter, I revealed the article as a hoax designed to shed light on the flaws of the peer-review and academic publishing systems.

Shortly thereafter, swastikas in the bathroom with my name under them began appearing in two bathrooms near the philosophy department. They also occasionally showed up on my office door, in one instance accompanied by bags of feces. Our university remained silent. When it acted, it was against me, not the perpetrators.

I continued to believe, perhaps naively, that if I exposed the flawed thinking on which Portland State’s new values were based, I could shake the university from its madness. In 2018 I co-published a series of absurd or morally repugnant peer-reviewed articles in journals that focused on issues of race and gender. In one of them we argued that there was an epidemic of dog rape at dog parks and proposed that we leash men the way we leash dogs. Our purpose was to show that certain kinds of “scholarship” are based not on finding truth but on advancing social grievances. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous.

Administrators and faculty were so angered by the papers that they published an anonymous piece in the student paper and Portland State filed formal charges against me. Their accusation? “Research misconduct” based on the absurd premise that the journal editors who accepted our intentionally deranged articles were “human subjects.” I was found guilty of not receiving approval to experiment on human subjects.

Meanwhile, ideological intolerance continued to grow at Portland State. In March 2018, a tenured professor disrupted a public discussion I was holding with author Christina Hoff Sommers and evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying. In June 2018, someone triggered the fire alarm during my conversation with popular cultural critic Carl Benjamin. In October 2018, an activist pulled out the speaker wires to interrupt a panel with former Google engineer James Damore. The university did nothing to stop or address this behavior. No one was punished or disciplined.

For me, the years that followed were marked by continued harassment. I’d find flyers around campus of me with a Pinocchio nose. I was spit on and threatened by passersby while walking to class. I was informed by students that my colleagues were telling them to avoid my classes. And, of course, I was subjected to more investigation....

To read the entire post, click HERE.

Previous posts about surveillance and harassment in Portland can be found HERE, HERE and HERE.

Friday, September 24, 2021

ANALPRINT

From Emine Saner's 9-23-21 GUARDIAN article entitled "The Smart Toilet Era Is Here! Are You Ready to Share Your Analprint With Big Tech?":


For the past 10 years, Sonia Grego has been thinking about toilets – and more specifically what we deposit into them. “We are laser-focused on the analysis of stool,” says the Duke University research professor, with all the unselfconsciousness of someone used to talking about bodily functions. “We think there is an incredible untapped opportunity for health data. And this information is not tapped because of the universal aversion to having anything to do with your stool.”

As the co-founder of Coprata, Grego is working on a toilet that uses sensors and artificial intelligence to analyse waste; she hopes to have an early model for a pilot study ready within nine months. “The toilet that you have in your home has not functionally changed in its design since it was first introduced,” she says, in the second half of the 19th century. There are, of course, now loos with genital-washing capabilities, or heated seats, but this is basic compared with what Grego is envisaging. “All other aspects of your life – your electricity, your communication, even your doorbell – have enhanced capabilities.”

The smart toilet’s time has come and it is a potentially huge market – in the developed world, everyone who is able to uses a toilet multiple times a day. Grego adds that she can “certainly envision a world” in which a toilet that does more than flush excreta “is available to every household”. There are numerous companies working on bringing that to market – a race to the bottom, if you will [...].

Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine have been working on technology that can analyse faeces (including “stool dropping time”) and track the velocity and colour of urine, as well as test it. An article this month in the Wall Street Journal reported that the researchers have partnered with Izen, a Korean toilet manufacturer, and hope to have prototypes by the end of the year. In order to differentiate between users, Izen developed a scanner that can recognise the physical characteristics of whoever is sitting on the toilet – or, in the words of the researchers, “the distinctive features of their anoderm” (the skin of the anal canal). Apparently, your “analprint”, like your fingerprints, is unique [...].

Is all this – your analprint out in the world, the makeup of your bowel movements analysed – a privacy breach too far? “Can it be kept secure?” asks Eerke Boiten, a professor of cybersecurity at De Montfort University in Leicester. “What sort of organisation has this data? Who will they be sharing data with? What data will it get combined with? Will we have any transparency about where the data goes? This is an area where we don’t even know fully what the risks are. We need significant research into this.”

Many people “wouldn’t, for very good reasons, like cameras pointing up their bottoms”, says Phil Booth, the coordinator of MedConfidential, which campaigns for the confidentiality of medical records. That said, under the guidance of a medical professional, “there are not necessarily inherent privacy risks” in using a smart toilet as a medical device, he says. However, it might get interesting if the data created by general consumer use was owned by a company: “You may trust that particular company, but every company is pretty much buyable by Google or Facebook or Amazon. Then, what I thought was something for my own health monitoring has become fodder to business models I really know nothing about” [...].

Information from stool and urine samples could provide all sorts of information – your risk of disease, your diet, your exercise level; how much alcohol you drink and whether you take drugs. Even tracking something as trivial as the time of day you use the loo – regularly in the night, for instance, indicating sleeplessness – could reveal conditions such as depression or anxiety.

Where does it end? Could the police or others involved in surveillance track you by analprint, via the public and home smart lavatories you visit? Might you be asked to provide a print at a police station?

Imagine a world where smart toilets in workplaces were able to tell which employees were pregnant, or taking drugs, or at risk of physical or mental ill-health, with the implication that they were potentially not as productive, or about to be absent from work. “Think about Texas,” says Booth of that state’s recently tightened abortion restrictions. “If you can tell if someone’s pregnant from their poo, then all of a sudden the question is: ‘Are they seeking an abortion?’ That’s Gilead level, that’s science fiction, but it illustrates the risk.”

To read Saner's entire article, click HERE.