Ex Machina – Review

Every once in a while I am truly blown away by a new movie. This was the case with Ex Machina.

The movie follows the story of a coder, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), working at a large corporation who is chosen to stay a week with the elusive head of the company, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), who lives in a remote research facility in the mountains. During his visit Caleb is tasked with running a Turing test on a new artificial intelligence, Ava (Alicia Vikander) that Nathan has created.

Ex-Machina-Domnhall-Gleeson-600x300

The film is shot with a very minimal cast to great effect. The story is mostly told through a series of dialogues between Nathan, Ava, and Caleb which propels the plot through a few good twists. The part of the movie that I personally liked the most is how it raises the question of how we define intelligent life and what rights an AI might have. The cinematography on display here accents the near-future science fiction perfectly with an immersive soundtrack to match.

While I would highly suggest this movie to anyone who has an interest in the subject of AI or science in general it also appeals to those who simply like to think. I have a weekly movie night with my friends at my home which generally devolves into us making fun of the crappy movies that we watch and I was pleasantly surprised when the room fell silent as everyone started focusing on this movies dialogue, hanging off every word.

If you have not had the pleasure of viewing this movie yet I suggest doing so at your earliest convenience.

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Wayward Pines – MidSeason Review

I am a fan of TV. Anybody that knows me knows that I spend a lot of time watching and then talking about the TV shows that I watch. I have not been in the habit of sharing my thoughts in too much detail online. I am going to change that starting now. "Butter Rum"

Thanks to a suggestion by a close friend I have started watching the TV series Wayward Pines. I am 5 episodes into this show now and I must say I am completely blown away by it.

I am going to avoid spoiling anything in this quick review but my friend summed it up best, it is like all the plot twists of a full season of Lost in each episode. The show is constantly challenging your perception of the reality that it is presenting in the most delightful ways possible. As soon as you think you have a handle on what is going on with this shows story you quickly realize you are absolutely wrong as the story shifts constantly. If you like plot twists, science fiction, or mystery I highly suggest this show.

Now, on I go to finish watching this season. I will likely have to check out the books as soon as I am done 🙂

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Why Aaron Swartz still matters.

Outrage. That is the only word that came to my mind when I got an email two days ago from the the White House staff.

I have trouble even writing this right now because I kind of want to scream when I think about it. I was going to make a video but then I decided that would just end up being rather belligerent and would not really convey the point of what I really think about this.

Perhaps I am jumping ahead a bit here.

This all began back in 2010 when Aaron Swartz made a decision that would end his life. He suffered from one of the most deadly traits a human can have, idealism. His story serves as a chilling reminder of how good intentions can reveal the horrors of humanity.

See.. here I go again being all dramatic. Even when typing this out and putting thought into each word I am having a hard time bottling my anger about this in.

If you are not already familiar with the story the decision that would end up being so fatal for Aaron was deciding to download academic papers from an MIT computer that he had access to at the time. It was the type of thing you would do as a student and not think twice about it. Why would anybody care if you took knowledge that was freely available and made copies of it?

Aaron broke the terms of service of the system he copied those papers from. Yes, he had the legal right to download any of those papers but the way in which he did so technically was not allowed. It was a truly victim-less crime. Those who wrote the papers wanted the knowledge to be shared, those who ran the computer systems did so with the intent to share those papers.

So how did this all go so wrong? If nobody was hurt by Aaron’s actions and his only crime was breaking the TOS of the computer he was on then what factor made this story have such a dark ending?

Carmen Ortiz.

In 2011 Carmen decided to take Aaron to court. She was a federal prosecutor that clearly felt it was her duty to make sure that no breach of a terms of service would go unpunished. I would love to say that Carmen was an elected official and that we, the people, had any sort of say in this matter but that would be far to idealistic. Carmen went forward and pressed charges against Aaron in federal court for theft.

Yes, theft is a pretty strong word to use in this case. It would be hard to find anyone outside of our government that would say Aaron deserved anything more than a stern warning for his infraction. The school the papers were taken from declined to press charges, those who owned the system the terms of service were breached on also declined to press charges. Even the state prosecutors who reviewed the case decided to drop all charges. Normally that is when a story like this would end. Aaron would have been arrested and then let free with no charges pressed. However this story is not normal and Carmen just could not let this go.

After the state prosecutors dropped the charges Carmen decided to use her power as a federally appointed prosecutor to supersede that decision and add nine more charges of theft on top of the ones already present and moved forward with the trial.

Aaron was facing up to 50 years in prison and up to 1 million dollars in fines all because he circumvented the computer system he was on and breached the terms of service in order to share papers that were intended to be shared by those who created them.

Like all of you reading this I too have made stupid mistakes in my life. Thankfully for you and I our mistakes did not take the notice of a federal prosecutor looking to make an example of us. Aaron simply wanted to share knowledge and for that crime he was facing a life in prison.

I have never personally wanted to end my own life it is hard for me to imagine a situation where death would seem like the best option. However I cannot blame Aaron for taking his own.

We are all raised in this country to believe that truth and justice are the American way. I learned that this was not the case in my own life at fairly young age. Aaron learned this lesson the harshest way imaginable when his country turned its back on him and decided that the just thing to do was to demonize him for the crime of sharing academic papers.

I still have not gotten back to that email from the White House staff yet have I?

During the build up to the last presidential election President Obama launched a new version of WhiteHouse.gov that included a rather interesting new feature which was an option to create a petition on the site for anything at all. If the petition you created got enough clicks on the site then the Presidents very own staff would be required to formally make a statement on the petition. At the time this seemed like a novel way of finding out what the President and his staff really thought about things. In reality this was Barack doing what he does best and it was all for show. It became quite clear after a few petitions reached the threshold for a response that anything that the president did not think was important would be casually dismissed while the things that fell in line with his politics would be given serious consideration.

Then in 2013 came this – https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-states-district-attorney-carmen-ortiz-office-overreach-case-aaron-swartz/RQNrG1Ck

Of course I clicked the button on this one. It was insane that this case spiralled out of control like it did. There was no reason for any of these charges to be filed, let alone pressed with such fervor. I had completely forgotten I had even clicked on that petition since then as time slipped by and it seemed likely that the White House simply did not have the balls to admit they made a mistake in appointing Carmen to the position of federal prosecutor.

Then, two days ago (in 2015) I received this message.

Aaron Swartz’s death was a tragic, unthinkable loss for his family and friends. Our sympathy continues to go out to those who were closest to him, and to the many others whose lives he touched.

We also reaffirm our belief that a spirit of openness is what makes the Internet such a powerful engine for economic growth, technological innovation, and new ideas. That’s why members of the Administration continue to engage with advocates to ensure the Internet remains a free and open platform as technology continues to disrupt industries and connect our communities in ways we can’t yet imagine. We will continue this engagement as we tackle new questions on key issues such as citizen participation in democracy, open access to information, privacy, intellectual property, free speech, and security.

As to the specific personnel-related requests raised in your petitions, our response must be limited. Consistent with the terms we laid out when we began We the People, we will not address agency personnel matters in a petition response, because we do not believe this is the appropriate forum in which to do so.

Casual fucking dismissal is what I read here.

Aaron Swartz may have ended his own life but only after being betrayed by his country who then backed him into a corner and demonized him for something no sane man would consider a sin. Carmen Ortiz was the one backing Aaron into that corner and Barack Obama is the one that enabled her to do so. Aaron Schwartz deserves a better response than “no comment”.

I am an atheist but there are times where I can sympathize with christians. I would love to believe that hell exists so that I could rest assured that Barack and Carmen would burn their together someday. Unfortunately I do not get that comfort as I do not believe in fairy tales any longer. My only comfort is my outrage and in this case I welcome it with open arms.

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Behind the Emotional Wall

Earlier this week I was watching an episode of the show Fringe with a friend of mine when I found myself in tears. Surprisingly TV shows and movies move me to such emotional extremes quite often. I suppose I had never really thought about it much in the past but I never get as emotional over real people. I begin to realize that I have a much easier time connecting emotionally to fictional characters than I do real people.

As somebody who prides himself on being as self-aware as possible I began to dig into this within my own mind.

After giving it some thought (in the shower, of course, where all good thinking happens.) I realize that this is likely related to the general dis-associative issues that I have had since childhood. As a child, due to issues that I am not going to detail here, I spent a lot of time hiding out from the world inside my own mind. My outward self developed into a hardened shell that felt no pain and could not be hurt. Meanwhile in my mind great universes exploded with life allowing me a safe place to explore and interact with others that was all my own.

Inside my mind, in a world of imagination, is where I actually developed emotionally. So it is not shocking that I feel a stronger connection to characters that are not real than I do to real people. I have always felt more comfortable in my mind and to this day I still prefer the worlds that exist inside of me to the real one. It is difficult to let real people in because despite my attempts I have still not completely deconstructed that wall I built around myself as a child, but with characters in TV Shows, Books and Movies it is safe to let them in. Such characters walk right past my emotional barrier as if it was not there at all.

Such are the challenges of a broken mind. Many people frown upon watching too much TV but I can honestly say that having some emotional connection is better than none. If you could only feel life when experiencing it through fictional characters you may begin to understand why people get so obsessive with TV shows, and why people like me get so upset when they are cancelled.

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Comcast is Full of Shit – As Usual

Recently a representative from Comcast had this to say;

No ISP in the country has been a stronger supporter of the Open Internet than Comcast.”

Now, if you are following the news at all concerning Comcast and net neutrality you may be thinking to yourself “hey, wait a minute, I thought they were absolutely opposed to the open internet” and you would be correct.

Comcast has never been in favor of net neutrality which would make it clearly opposed to an open internet (as net neutrality is all about maintaining the open internet.)

For the best example just read a bit about the court case where Comcast opposed the FCC’s decision to stop Comcast from prioritizing certain traffic on their network over other traffic;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast_Corp._v._FCC

Being a normal human being I felt it was my duty to at least call out this representative for blatantly attempting to lie to people in her blog post, unfortunately it appears all comments are censored by default pending approval from Comcast.  I have no hope of my comment actually making it on to that post. As such I am calling it out here.

 

http://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices/comcast-response-to-netflix

My Reply:

“What?

I would love to get whatever drugs you are smoking that make you this delusional. They must be amazing. Comcast clearly has a policy of being opposed to the open internet. They even spend money on lobbyists to fight net neutrality, they even fight in court to make sure they can charge people for priority bandwidth on their network.

You either have no idea what the company you work for is up to or you are simply full of shit.

I am going to assume the latter, because most people at Comcast are full of shit (for verification of this just talk to ANY person in Comcast customer support, they will all demonstrate this for you.)”

Comcast, get a life and stop peddling bullshit to everyone you think may be buying it.

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Meat is Murder, and So Are You!

There are a lot of things in the world that do not make sense to me. Most of all I am confounded by other people.

Throughout my life I have come across a variety of people that simply act in ways that seem to contradict who they claim they are as a person. This can be the alcoholic who insists they do not drink, or the christian who judges other people. There are reasons why people trick themselves, usually because they are ashamed of admitting to themselves who they really are. Whatever the reason may be, it is delusional and it gets under my skin.

Lately I have spent a lot of time trying to find out if I too have such delusions. I do, I think we all do to a certain extent. I have a much higher opinion of myself than I rightfully should and I convince myself that I am healthy when I clearly am not. I have made strides to try to be more honest with myself and as such I have this to say;

I am a murderer.

No, I don’t kill humans (yet, at least.) However I do support the murder of humans in slight ways (I pay taxes) and I certainly support the wholesale murder of animals in many ways.

Is murder a strong word to use when describing an animal being killed? Maybe. I am of the belief that all life is equal, but I also understand that it is only natural for animals like us to eat other species of animals. So I accept it. I love to eat meat so I must own up to the fact that I not only condone the murder of animals but I also actively promote it by spending my money on animal products.

This is where a lot of people stop themselves though, and I refuse. If I truly want to be accepting of my cold blooded nature can I  be offended when animals are mistreated or abused? Why does one feel okay with a cow being tortured and killed for a meal but cannot stand the thought of dogs being made to kill each other for entertainment?

There is a certain level of hypocrisy, I find, in letting yourself be offended by the torture and murder of any animal when you are actively contributing to such acts for other animals. Let us not kid ourselves, if you go to the grocer and you buy a pound of roast beef you just funded animal torture. So if you then go online and start getting angry about whales being killed for food in Japan, or seals being killed for clothes by the Inuits while you have a pack of hotdogs in your refrigerator you are likely delusional about your place in this circle of life.

I would say that every time you eat a lunch meat sandwich you are just as bad as those who kill for sport. Let’s face it, in this age there is no reason any human NEEDS to eat an animal. We just prefer to get our protein that way as it is tastier than the alternatives. If you truly care about the dogs in Russia being killed ahead of the Olympics think about the animals you killed for your meal tonight. Before you judge a football star for getting his kicks by having dogs battle each other please realize that you are not any better of a person.

I am done lying to myself about this issue. I love meat, I am a murderer. Most of you reading this are murderers too.

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2014 – A New Year, A Fresh Start

While I realize I say this every year and never actually follow through, I am going to say it again.

This year will be the year I start working on my life goals.

I had initially planned to present you all with the new show I am working on for the new year, “The Ian Show”, however due to some complications in recording this show that has been delayed. I do not expect that delay to last forever as I will be ordering some new equipment this week which should solve the problems I was having. The idea is to do the show bi-weekly for at least 6 months. This will get me 12 episodes which is enough for a first “Season”. The show is going to be a very basic talk/variety show that will start out very crappy but will help me hone my skills. I am very out of practice with video production so this show will get me used to talking on camera again as well as give me practice with basic lighting, audio, and editing techniques.

Expect more “Ian Show” news soon.

I am also working on re-starting Paint Comic. The older versions of this will be re-branded as “Paint Comic Classic” and the new ones will start back at #1. The reason I am starting this fresh is that I am actually giving each of the characters their own personality. Before each character simply reflected my own personality and they were all inter-changeable. There was not distinct characteristics outside of their visual design. Starting fresh will allow me to give each character a new backstory, improve the art style and hopefully open the doors for more interesting storylines. This is a huge departure from what Paint Comic was before but I think I can preserve the random/insane spirit of the original while still lending it some artistic integrity.

As far as the rest of my life, I would like to get myself in shape but I am not going to prioritize that over my creative endeavors. If I can find a way to make small changes that impact my overall health I will. If not, then I will remain the slob I am for now.  Perhaps if I actually complete some creative works I will get a big enough boost to my self confidence to actually want to improve my physical appearance. We can only hope.

That is all I have for now, just a quick update. Keep it lovely out there my sweet delicious readers from the internet.  🙂

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The Depths of Imagination – Exploring an Infinite Universe

The human mind is an amazing thing, almost everyone can agree with this statement. The shear wonder of what is can create is astonishing. I have been wanting to write about how my mind works for a long time now. I am sure that mine works the same as many other peoples but as I am not a student of psychology I do not have a lot of information on the subject. Either way, here we go.

I find myself very separated from reality in general. Introverted would be the common way to describe this and from my understanding this would be a very apt way to describe my interactions with the world. I do not relate to, or find emotional attachment to other humans.  I am sure this is a very common thing but not something I hear many people openly admitting to. I spend much of my time staring into space, most likely looking very vacant to the common passerby. Vacant is the worst way to describe my mind however as it is anything but.
Inside this head of mine is multiple universes of my own creation. Characters, stories, locations, and timelines that stretch for thousands of years. Sometimes these people and places have detailed histories, sometimes they are just set decoration. There are stories in my head that have been cultivated for decades. Fantasies that have started small when I was just a wee lad and have grown in complexity over the years.  On any given day at least a few of these fictional universes are running simultaneously in my mind with the rest being put on pause until I come back to them later. Each of these stories gets a few more key plot points each day, the characters interact and learn life lessons.

I do not know for sure how many other people have such vivid fantasies or worlds in their heads but I am willing to bet most people do even if they are not always aware of it. For me these worlds are much more interesting than the one in which I actually live. Through my entire life I have been able to enter these worlds myself, it is not something I can easily describe to be honest. It is like being able to step through a portal and join the fictional characters directly. To me these worlds are as real as our own and when I step into them I living in a realm of my own creation. I am not actually sure what is happening with my own body when I do this. From the few times my parents had walked in on me in this state of mind as a child I remember it being described as looking like I was ‘dancing’. I have always been embarrassed to enter my mind in this way when other people are around as I truly do not know what actions I am taking with my physical body, it is not something I am directly controlling when I enter into these planes of imagination.

I wish I knew if other people entered their minds in this way like I do. I feel as if this also might be something common, but I am not sure as nobody ever seems to describe this.  The entire reason I am writing this now is because I really would like to know if this experience is something I have in common with my fellow humans or if this is something more unique.

Either way, I love the way my brain works. The depth of my imagination has always been the favorite part of myself.  Exploring the depths of my mind, living in fantasy worlds and having adventures is thankfully something I have never had to give up upon growing older. It is something I would never want to give up as well, I could not imagine living a life in just one plane of existence. I am sure I could describe this in more detail but that would require many more words than I care to write at the moment. If you are still reading this, thank you for your interest in the madness that is me. I wish I could bring other people with me on my adventures, maybe someday technology would allow such a thing.

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