I wasn’t going to say anything about Mickey Rooney dying …

… because I figured everyone knew who Mickey Rooney was, so why even bother?

And then I saw this:

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

And this is why I don’t watch television news anymore. I can see maybe one person confusing Mickey Rooney (famed child actor and legendary movie star who died April 6, 2014) with Andy Rooney (famed old curmudgeon and irritating television guy who died Nov. 4, 2011). … No, strike that. I can’t see anyone confusing either of them.

This is Mickey Rooney:

This is Andy Rooney:

Jeez. I know who Lady Gaga and Ella Fitzgerald are.

But one thing for sure. Andy Rooney unlike his television brethren, knew who Mickey Rooney was.

Welcome To Doha Timelapse

It’s best to view this fill screen. (From Vimeo):

“Welcome To Doha,” takes us on a spectacular journey through the remarkable city of Doha, Qatar. Located on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, Doha entices our curiosity and excites the imagination. We behold some of the most magnificent architectonics in the world, while by contrast peer into an infinite desert terrain and a thriving Middle Eastern nation.
With the ever-growing cityscape, Doha continues to be one of the most unique settings to experience. “Welcome To Doha,” illustrates the persistent blooming of this marvelous metropolis, the evolution of it’s history from the old and new world, and the quintessence of the countries culture; all of this captured through the art form of Timelapse photography.

Where is Ukraine?

That’s what 2,066 Americans were asked in a survey.

This is where they put it:

Ukraine_Full-1024x535

In case you can’t figure it out, the red dots are closer to Ukraine than the blue dots are. What’s really unbelievable is that some people put Ukraine in the middle of the U.S. I really hope they were joking.

But how could this get any worse? Political scientists from Dartmouth and Princeton tell us (from the Washington Post):

On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans (fielded via Survey Sampling International Inc. (SSI), what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force.

So people who were the most unlikely to know where Ukraine is were more likely to say we should intervene militarily in Russia’s takeover of Crimea. Yeah, let’s send American troops to battle the Russians on the Russian border. I wonder how that would end?

TIme Machine: Charlie Chaplin (1914)

Charlie Chaplin started making movies 100 years ago this year, including this one:

It’s called “Making a Living,” and Chaplin isn’t the Little Tramp in this one. He’s the Swindler. It’s possible the Little Tramp hadn’t been created yet, but the slapstick quality of that character is seen in this one.

I don’t know much about the West Coast, but I’m guessing this is Los Angeles. My limited knowledge of streetcars and Los Angeles comes from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” though. But then I saw the palm trees and the Fremont Hotel, though the hilly streets threw me off and made me think of San Francisco. I guess I have no idea where this is.

Anyway, as I usually point out in these Time Machine posts, look at the technology. The automobiles are essentially new. The mode of mass transportation is the streetcar. Roving photographers appear to have been pretty common, and it seems newspapers were printing photos at the time. Plus, we get a chance to see the movie world’s perspective on how a newspaper was put together in 1914.

By the way, the police in this movie? Those are the Keystone Kops.

2014: The year of Scarlett Johansson

It looks like Scarlett Johansson is becoming the superhero of 2014. She’s in the new Captain America movie:

She’s a space alien in “Under the Skin”:

And this summer, she’s going to be some kind of super smart, strong, deadly character in Luc Besson’s “Lucy”:

That’s three movies to look forward to in the coming months.

The theory of inflation and Marilyn Monroe

Ripples-from-the-big-bang

OK, here’s one of those complicated science stories that make sense to maybe three dozen people on the planet. The chart above represents a confirmation of a hyphothesis on the Big Bang theory. As the chart says, physicists have been studying this for the past decade, and the result is one of those things that end up winning the Nobel Prize for Physics, but I can’t understand it any more than I can explain the theory of relativity. However, if you ever saw the movie “Insignificance,” you saw Marilyn Monroe (played by Theresa Russell) give a pretty good explanation of it to Albert Einstein (played by Michael Emil):

Anyway, the theory of relativity and the Big Bang theory are two of the most important findings in physics. In the scientific community, the discovery of the waves shown in the chart above is huge. According to the Washington Post:

Yet the theory of inflation has an even more profound implication. It suggests that the universe we can observe, everything we have seen or known on Earth and in the sky and ever will, is just an accident, and that the forces that caused inflation — whatever they may be — might have created other universes elsewhere, forever hidden from us by the laws of physics. What “elsewhere” means in this context, though, is uncertain.

But the theoretical physicists who posited the theory of inflation, an explanation that the universe went from nothing to … the universe in “a billionth of a billionth of billionth of a millionth of a second,” was overwhelmed to find his theory was proved.

Again, the physicist and his wife hear what was only random numbers to me, but they realize “discovery.”

So, why do I believe this, even though I don’t understand it, but I can’t believe the creationist concept that the world was created 9,000 years ago and man roamed the land with the dinosaur, which is a hell of a lot easier to understand?

I’ll quote an architect here. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said:

“God is in the details.”

He was talking about restraint in design. The physicists who gave us relativity and Big Bang and inflation are what “intelligent design” should stand for … a meticulous examination of science and physics delving into billions of years of possibility. A theory is presented and they test it and test, in this case over decades, it until it’s either proved or disproved. That’s the epitome of restraint in design.

And the result of scientific discovery is that we live in a world where our everyday luxuries are things that would have been designated as “magic” a century ago. Think of smartphones and iPads. Things that weren’t even conceivable 40 years ago. These are the products of physics and chemistry and science.

But the “intelligent design” of creationism boils down to: “I can’t figure this out, so let’s just say God did it. After all God is all knowing and all seeing, and I’m not God, so why should I worry my beautiful mind about it.” And what do we get out of that? At its high point, witch burning. At its low point, an embrace of ignorance that has set us back centuries in development and brought us closer to extinction.

I posted a few days ago on the mistake Bill Nye “The Science Guy” made in going to the Creation Museum in Kentucky to hold a debate on evolution. Today I read something that boiled down in fewer words what I meant to say in that post:

The choir hears someone saying “Hey, can you believe that in 2014, some crazy person still believes the earth is flat?” But someone else hears, “Some people still believe the earth is flat. Others call them ‘crazy.’ ” Every time the Round Earthers resoundingly win a debate, you perpetuate the notion that it’s a debate, not a set of facts that are simply not up for discussion. This is probably making a mountain out of a little good-natured Twitter fun. Still, it’s worth considering every time you “win” an argument over a fact that you SHOULD NOT EVEN BE ARGUING ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

So the way to win arguments is to make discoveries like the theory of inflation. And don’t “debate” the matter with people who are unwilling to examine their own theories because their belief system encourages them to to ask questions.

Transformation: Michael Bay and ‘The Birds’

The nightmare begins:

After successfully remaking several 80s slasher films, Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes banner look ready to remake one of the master of suspense’s classic films alongside Peter Guber’s Mandalay Pictures.

Platinum Dunes, Mandalay Pictures and Universal have tapped Dutch filmmaker Diederik Van Rooijen to direct the remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

As a longtime Hitchcock fan, I am so ready to hate this movie. This is the trailer for “The Birds”:

This is the trailer for the next big Michael Bay extravaganza:

The only thing that could make this worse is Michael Bay decides to cast Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the lead roles for “The Birds.”

‘My Love from the Star’: A Korean hit in China

According to a major news outlets, the following Korean soap opera is the most popular show in China, much to the chagrin of Chinese officials:

The show’s called “My Love from the Star.” If I have this straight, a guy from outer space who’s 400 years old is hanging out with a pop star. And that’s putting half the world in a frenzy.

Chinese officials are upset because, it seems, China can’t put together entertainment that’s popular enough to keep its citizens enthralled. For example, the Washington Post says:

It’s not the first time popular foreign entertainment has led to hand-wringing in China. In 2008, when Dreamworks’ “Kung Fu Panda” became a runaway hit in China, it led to similar soul-searching. Why did it take American producers to find the drama and humor in a fat panda learning kung fu in China, many asked.

I didn’t know “Kung Fu Panda” had created an international incident.

Oh, for the full first episode of “My Love from the Star,” click here.