We are like machines?

Cover of "The Cyborg Experiments: The Ext...

Cover via Amazon

I am writing a 10,000 word Dissertation about the cultural and psychological effects of technology [Embodiment, Prosthesis, Cyber Culture]. I’m adopting the attitude of an author, just acting like I’m releasing a book soon, and my publisher has tightened the deadline. And who knows, maybe if it’s good enough at the end I can make it an Internet PDF eBook that you’d like to download?

On my reading list, number 8), the author Joanna Zylinska, is the lady I met last week to discuss my writing. She will be personally supervising my Dissertation, so it’s nice to know I have the advice of a well published author. Her topics on our relation to technology, as well as the ethics and issues, are completely relevant to my interests. But I want to attempt a fresh angle, not mimic the authors below.

My reading list so far:

1) Materializing New Media: Embodiment in Information Aesthetics (Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture) – Anna Munster

2) Facebook and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy) – Dylan E. Wittkower

3) How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics – N. Katherine Hayles

4) TechGnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Age of Information – Erik Davis

5) Internet Culture – David Porter

6) The Body (Key Concepts) – Lisa Blackman

7) The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future – Marquard Smith and Joanne Morra

8) The Cyborg Experiments: The Extensions of the Body in the Media Age (Technologies: Studies in Culture & Theory) – Joanna Zylinska

9) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man – Marshall McLuhan

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

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£92.40 for charity in just one day

This baby is one month old.

Image via Wikipedia

Well, I counted up all the coins and notes I collected on Monday, plus some of my own donation fund, and it adds up to £92.40. Which is absolutely amazing for one day of fundraising on my own. There was another £25 people already donated online, which means I’ve exceeded the £100 target.

Here is why I’m doing it:

Harlequin-type ichthyosis is the most severe form of congenital ichthyosis. Swelling to the eyes, ears, and other appendages, mean that the babies born with this skin disease have difficulty seeing, breathing, or even moving.

The texture of the skin means it cannot bend where soft skin usually can, it’s cracked texture is agonising and means the babies are prone not only to infection from the bleeding exposed cracks, but from hypothermia also.

Medication such as Isotrex, which improves their quality of life, are essential. But with your help, further treatments can be found, and you will be contributing to the life-time care that Harlequin sufferers require.

Please click here for more info: http://www.justgiving.com/RNoakes

Censoring the Internet? Now?

The eye for the final series of Celebrity Big ...

Image via Wikipedia

China have been slated internationally for their harsh censorship of the Internet; blocking sites for hours at a time, and some completely, when it suits their political or “ethical” agendas. Google has been at the epicenter of these disputes, with the US company defending against China’s over zealous censorship. But this time the US are responsible. The Senate proposes a law which forces Internet service providers to block certain websites. “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA)”

Due to the vague nature of the law, pertaining copyrighted material, and insinuating that the list can be added to at authorities’ discretion, even sites such as Youtube could be targeted. This stinks of bad karma, seeing as Youtube recently won a court case against Viacom. This means that Youtube can operate, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), providing they remove any copyrighted material they are informed of, and regulate accordingly. Fair is fair.

Copyright isn’t the real issue here though, I am not arguing the ethics of crediting owners, or intellectual property theft. My point is that blocking whole sites, just because a few people misuse them, is complete censorship, Internet Tyranny, as oppose to appropriate regulation.

Are we all going to be subject to Green Dam censorship software? Is Big Brother watching our every move? Is censorship going too far, and will it spread like an epidemic?

All these questions are things we will eventually need to consider, literally or not. I remain cynical about the motives of complete censorship, and doubt that ethics are the main factor, rather political reasons. I agree more with justifiable regulation that does not breach our personal freedoms. Read more and help out using the link below.

Sign the online petition please, it only takes a few seconds: http://demandprogress.org/blacklist/coica

I killed your partner, so The Tournament begins

After watching The Tournament(2009) I am left mostly unaffected. But the film wasn’t trying to be emotionally powerful, so I suppose this near impartiality is acceptable.

It’s what you expect an average gun-slinging assassin movie to be; without any of the awesomeness the Kill Bill movies had, but with a prompt pacing, vendettas, and a slight twist. Despite being predictable, and not exceeding any expectations, it was nicely cast, acceptably made, and there were no drastic errors.

DON’T watch if you’re looking for something stylistically new, emotionally/intellectually engaging, or rivetting enough to hold you on the edge of your seat.

DO watch if you appreciate guns, lots of them, and explosions. Also if you’re familiar with The Vampire Diaries, you would be pleased to know that Ian Somerhalder plays an assassin called Miles Slade. I do genuinely think he’s a really good actor, and of course Kelly Hu and Robert Carlyle are great.

Erm dude, where’s your skin? Cabin Fever 2 and American Movie

American Movie

Image via Wikipedia

Cabin Fever 2 was just what I expected; boring, amateur, and dragged on too long. That having been said, the animation/cartoon snippets in the title sequence and at the end were very good. I also liked the gore, and enjoy seeing bratty High School teens die (who doesn’t?).

The best part by far was Mark Borchardt as Herman the cab driver. At first I thought I was going mad imagining that it was him, but no it’s definitely Borchardt from American Movie (you have to see it if you haven’t already, truly one of the most hilarious films).

In Cabin Fever 2 he just basically plays himself, he is such a character in reality. “Dude” being the most heavily used word in his vocabulary. He belongs in way more movies, don’t you think?

She got a blog at last!

Hands in the air - in concert

Image by marfis75 via Flickr

http://geminibe.wordpress.com

My old school friend Rebecca (more commonly referred to as Bexy) finally got herself a blog. I say this not just as her friend; her writing is really easy to absorb, uplifting, and above all genuine. She’s really one of the most decent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. So it’s cool to know that even though we live far away, and hardly see each other anymore, I can stay connected to her on here. I’m really excited to see her next post, her first is so rich and full of free thought.

So, to my very few readers, and even fewer commenters, go and check her out! You won’t regret it.

You think Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is just hype?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Image via Wikipedia

I deliberately resisted reading the whole book before watching; I read enough chapters to love the book, but avoid clouding my judgement of the film. I was hoping for another Swedish gem, something I could enjoy as much as I loved Let The Right One In (not the remake).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (“Män som hatar kvinnor“), was directed by Niels Arden Oplev and based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I loved the story telling within the film, the tale itself is irresistible, as is the heroine Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace). But again that is mainly credit to the book, not necessarily the filmmakers.

I admit the film was atmospheric, held my attention, and the story seduced me. But some chunks of the tale felt like they were included only to appease the book’s fans. For example, we probably didn’t need such routine intervals of Lisbeth’s past. Her past is vital of course, it grants context, but so much of it added nothing to the plot, and felt like it was there just to break the pacing between sub-plot and main-plot.

We could have instead been teased with briefer hints and flashes to her past. But I suppose they wanted to find a balance between her tortured past and tortured present. It felt too prescribed, too calculative, trying too hard to force us to see everything of what she is, rather than letting us interpret. I suppose I found it mildly patronising.

I was not offended by the more graphic scenes, which I won’t reveal as I don’t like spoilers. I actually liked the fact that she was portrayed as a strong, independent female. Her dynamic with the journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Michael Nyqvist) was effective, and there wasn’t anything startling wrong with the film. It just wasn’t everything I had hoped for.

I should refer back to the film I mentioned before. Hoyte Van Hoytema was responsible for the cinematography in Let the Right One In, his style is subtle but irresistible. Whereas The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, despite not being poorly filmed, certainly had no distinctive style or anything visually new to offer.

I think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is living proof that the books are always better than the film. But I am glad they made it into a film, because it means more people are encouraged to read the books, which I have found to be excellent. I would recommend watching this film, but don’t do so if you’re expecting something groundbreaking or revolutionary.

Eat shit? The Human Centipede

Promotional poster for The Human Centipede (Fi...

Image via Wikipedia

One of my best friends, Marie, stayed over this week and watched The Human Centipede (directed by
Tom Six) with me.

The worst (best) part was Dr Heiter, played by Dieter Laser. He was truly creepy looking, and his acting made you feel like perhaps he was this scary in reality too. The film was about his being a surgeon; he used to separate conjoined twins, but then becomes fixated with joining living things.

Naturally, this leads to his ideal of a human centipede, connected by sewing their mouths to each others butts, so that they share one digestive track. Implausible in the long-term, and hilarious, so I was glad when one of the three victims died from infection. That was the most medically accurate part.

The film was not scary, but hilarious. I just couldn’t stop laughing at what idiots the characters are. One of the two female leads had the chance to escape, but hides instead of smashing the window to escape straight away. And the Japanese guy, played by Akihiro Kitamura, who is also a captive, actually stabs Dr Heiter with a scalpel, but only in the foot and leg. He goes crazy and bites him, but instead of using his chance to kill the crazy Doctor, or knock him unconscious at least, he chooses to just attempt to run away (difficult with two girls surgically attached).

I had no real sympathy for the characters because their survival instincts were poor, I like it when characters truly try their best and are beaten down, but these three were mainly moronic and therefore deserved it. The very few chances they had to escape they wasted completely.

As ridiculous as this film was, it’s worth watching because it’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time, and wasn’t too badly shot.

The Collector, watching alone in the dark :(

About to watch it, then will fill in a review here.

Dear John, sob stories don’t ensure a great movie

Cover of "Dear John (Limited Edition Blu-...

Cover via Amazon

Despite my reluctance, I just watched Dear John (2010), directed by Lasse Hallström. This is because my friend Katie insisted.

It’s not entirely fair for me to slate the filmmakers just because I did not enjoy it at all. My lack of enjoyment came mainly from the fact that I’m not a stereotypical girl who falls for the lead male every time, or dreams of that kind of thing. I have everything I need in that department. I do like films about love, but they must have something more to offer.

So, aside from getting people to relate to the smushy love scenes, what else does this film have to offer?

Well, my favourite aspect was John’s father, played by Richard Jenkins. He has always had an affinity to play loner roles, and fatherly ones. Six Feet Under, the Television series which ran from 2001-2005, is a good example, with his role as Nathaniel Fisher.

I loved his fragility, it evoked more feeling from me than Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried‘s love scenes ever did. His coin collection made a great metaphor throughout the film, and was like another character.

Sympathy tactics are not enough to make a great movie for me though, it did not change the fact that the film was predictable, relatively shallow, and did not fully convince me. Despite all-round acceptable performances, Richard Jenkins was the only fully convincing part.