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Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

The Outer Limits, “The Sixth Finger” (Oct. 1963)

I think everyone's familiar with the Outer Limits, the science fiction television series in the 1960s. This series is required viewing if you want to study the 1960s because many of the plots were metaphors for societal problems of the times.

In another thread someone mentioned the meme about AI art mis-drawing hands with six fingers and it reminded me of this episode, which itself, speculates about super intelligence.

As with most sci-fi at the time, a lot of the science facts in this show are wrong, but the philosophical examination isn't far off. The machine that the scientist uses in the film and the premise is really just there to provide a platform to think about what it would be like to have an intelligence that was so far beyond current human capabilities.

I highly recommend this one.

(Note: Some copies of The Outer Limits that are on streaming services have spoilers right at the top of video, so you might want to skip the opening segment.)

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accessible video description:
the video shows an shortened version of The Outer Limits introduction; then it shows a young woman walking into a laboratory and talking with the scientist in the laboratory; then it shows the same woman in a pub with a young man who is filthy from working in a coal mine and the woman’s mean sister tells her to deliver another loaf of bread; then it shows a scientist controlling a lever pushing it toward the position marked “forward” and the man is inside a chamber, he is all clean, but he is affected by the machine somehow; then the scientist opens the door and the man is covering his face with his arms so the audience can't see what he looks like and a scientist looks at him astonishingly and it fades out.

(fair use, unauthorized trailer)

TruthBeTold Spoiler 


This one is 100% true. By wording this TruthBeTold this way and showing a picture of a salamander playing the keyboard of a musical organ, it deceptively makes the words “electric organ” sound like the musical instrument, but in this case “electric organ” means a biological organ (electrical organ) in some aquatic species used to produce an electric charge that is used for navigation, to stun prey, or for defense, like in the electric eel. Electric eels belong to the a genus under the taxonomical infraclass teleost. By capitalizing the word “Teleost” in connection with the Ancient Egyptians, that word appears, to those unfamiliar with that infraclass, to be referring to some esoteric civilization predating the Pyramids.

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Electric organs were one of the first things to make use of electricity. They were used hundreds of years before Franklin wrote about his lightning kite experiment. In fact, the Teleosts used them even before the Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids.

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= A statement that is logically or literally true (or partly true), but seems to imply something that isn’t true or is just plain weird. (for rhetoric, logic or propaganda studies… or just for fun)

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Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Her (2013)

This one's about an ambiguously gay man who interacts with an AI through his mobile device. This is a really boring movie – practically the whole thing is just this guy talking to the AI in his mobile device. It's supposed to be set in the future but there aren't many sci-fi techie devices and the cars look like they were made 10 years before this movie was made.

This film has essentially an all white cast. There's only one very minor bit part at the very beginning of the film played by a black actor, Lisa Renee Pitts. This technique of literally marginalizing black actors in movies, placing them at the very beginning or very end of the film has been used by pro-racist Hollywood for a very long time, at least since the 1980s.

There’s one Chinese character who is the girlfriend of the character played by Chris Pratt. That character, a minor supporting role, is played by Laura Kai Chen.

Because of the racial bias in the composition of the cast, I'm not recommending this film at all. Also it's just a boring movie. I’m including it here in the Film of the Week series because AI is a popular topic right now.


12 Monkeys spoilers, Patsplaining 

There were also three bit players in this unauthorized trailer; Irma St. Paule, who plays the woman reading poetry, Fred Strother, who plays the crazy guy from Pluto, and the guard at the elevator, whose name I’m unsure of because the credits are unclear.

The magical realism in this film comes from the very subtle or ambiguously unreal things that happen. Magical realism doesn't include things that are acknowledged to be unusual by the characters or the narrative. The filmmakers of 12 Monkeys used magical realism to create a feeling of unease or confusion in the audience.

In this trailer, there are three examples; the bear suddenly appearing behind the guy in the hazmat suit (there wasn’t enough time for the bear to walk into that position), the woman’s shoes changing from black to silver, and the guard’s face changing at the elevator. They could easily go unnoticed by the audience. (Although I suspect women are more likely to notice the woman’s shoes changing color than men would.)

When Willis looks at the guard after the guard’s face changes, he appears to be looking suspiciously at him, but the motivation for the look is ambiguous because he could be questioning why the guard is not trying to stop him from escaping, or he could be questioning why the guy’s face changed. (The first face looks like it may be the same as the face of another character from the future.)

There are a lot of weird and unusual things that happen in this film that are not magical realism because they are part of the narrative and the characters of the story acknowledge that they're weird and unusual, like all of the animals running around in the city, or the crazy actions of Pitt’s character. Or time travel itself, which is unreal in this film, but is a main part of the narrative.

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>"I'd much rather watch a real movie than some ai hallucination with 6 fingers on a hand, tyvm"

The Outer Limits, Episode 5, October 14, 1963

(Hint: you need to actually watch it to understand)

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"ChatGPT, please produce and show me a romcom about a laid-off writer and an actress set in early 21st-century Hollywood. Begin playing the movie when I get back in the room with the popcorn."

12 Monkeys spoilers, Patsplaining 

***** spoilers *****

A little bit more on the economic and political situation around the time that this film was made... There was a deep recession in the early 1990s, and then the Rodney King beating and riots occurred during the recession in 1991. So Hollywood, which had pretty much excluded black people from their films up until that time, changed things up very quickly because they were afraid of a revolution. So they started putting more black people into their movies, and this film, 12 Monkeys, was one that had a lot more black people in it than many mainstream Hollywood movies.

I don't know if the title of the film relates to that or not. It's possible. If I knew for sure that it did, I would not recommend the film at all for that reason alone. But I’m not sure, thus the ambiguous sarcasm in the original post.

Also of note is that Frank Gorshin played a supporting role in 12 Monkeys. Gorshin was a guest star on Star Trek in 1969 in an episode titled, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, which was one of the more memorable episodes of the original series. The narrative of that episode, which featured aliens who were black on the left half of their bodies and white on the right half, and vis-a-versa, was a naked metaphor for the absurdity of racial prejudice, which was a top issue during the revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the US. This indicates to me that race was on the minds of the producers of 12 Monkeys, and they wanted to send a hint to that effect to their audience. Also in the film was a quick image of a TV screen showing news coverage of the riots – another hint about the undercurrents surrounding the making of the film.

This type of major change in the way that Hollywood treats black people in film has happened at least three times in history that I know of. It happened near the end of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s; it happened after the Rodney King beating and the subsequent riots; and it happened most recently again in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. But in between those inflection points, Hollywood has been really racist. The racism got even worse during Obama’s presidency.

This film is also partly about animal rights activists, which were very active during the time the film was made. I think some of the people involved in the film are supportive of animal rights. Even though the activists were portrayed as crazy people (along with just about everyone else in the film), ultimately in the story they were mostly benign, and were not the ones who released the deadly virus which caused the pandemic.

Both the fight against racism and the animal rights movement share a common philosophical core tenet, which is opposition to the oppression of individuals for who they are – speciesism and racism are cut from the same cloth. Alice Walker has written some about this and there is a book on the subject titled, “The Dreaded Comparison” (1988; Marjorie Spiegel, Alice Walker), and some more recent titles, too.

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More people died last week in the US from COVID-19 than were killed in the 9/11 attack. Every week, another 9/11 attack.

Please wear your respirator when you are around other people.

Do a seal check on your respirator when you wear it.

It is more dangerous to be in public without a respirator than it is to drive without a seatbelt.

A properly worn respirator, like a N95 mask, prevents infection and spread of disease from all variants of the flu and COVID-19.

(right image: attribution Ryssby, CC-BY-2.5)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with George Orwell's Animal Farm here's a quote from Wikipedia about the novella...

"It tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy. Ultimately, the rebellion is betrayed, and under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon, the farm ends up in a state as bad as it was before."


Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

12 Monkeys (1995)

Magical realism and unrelenting dysphoria characterize this '90s time-travel sci-fi about a guy who tries to go back in time to help correct a massive pandemic that happened in the future. The attention to detail in this film is extraordinary. The writing, the acting, cinematography, the score, special effects, art design; everything in this film is so tight; very well done. Terry Gilliam deserves praise for his direction, for which he had great creative latitude during production. In fact it's so effective at creating a feeling of unease I think it requires a content warning for people who are under stress or who otherwise may be vulnerable to unsettling content. But there’s plenty of comedy for those who enjoy demented humor.

Brad Pitt had the most demanding role, I think, with lots of rapid dialogue playing an over-the-top delusional crazy guy. Bruce Willis, the main protagonist, also played a guy who is losing touch with reality. Madeleine Stowe, who plays a psychiatrist opposite Willis' character, is absolutely flawless. All the actors in this film did a very good job even in the minor rolls. I saw only one flawed bit performance in the whole film.

There were two societal phenomena happening when this film was produced in the 1990s – animal rights activism was at its height, and the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots had just occurred. Pitt’s character plays the leader of an eponymous underground animal rights group (Army of the Twelve Monkeys), which is apparently planning a horrendous act.

The film features a lot of black actors, which was unusual for films in the early 90s. I think filmmakers at the time were intentionally trying to correct for past racial bias in the film industry in the wake of the Rodney King beating. However, none of the black players in this film had major roles, only minor parts. None of the black players played any of the many scientists and doctors in the story, they played mostly cops, orderlies and such. I counted twelve credited black roles in the film, which I’m sure was a coincidence and the producers had no intent to denigrate. (ambiguous sarcasm)

The film presents overshadowing stereotypes of people who have mental illness, a trend that continues to this day in filmmaking. The single female protagonist is also stereotyped as a mostly weak and submissive character even though she plays a psychiatrist which should be an authority figure in this context. (In all fairness, her character evolves considerably.)

However, in spite of it’s gaffs on political correctness (which were common in the 1990s), I think it’s such a well made film that it’s well worth watching.

Accessible video description:

a man (Willis) in a hazmat suit in a winter environment stoops down near some equipment, a bear startles him and he panics. Cut to a closeup of the central arch in Fre Carnevale’s “The Ideal City” as a woman’s voice reads Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the camera slowly zooms out to show the full painting and an old white woman reading to a small group of people seated on folding chairs in Walters Art Museum, a subtitle says, “Baltimore April 1990”. A beeper goes off as a white brunette woman in a little black dress looks at her beeper message, stands up and fumbles as she awkwardly walks out. As she walks by a man wearing silver shoes, her shoes inexplicably turn from black to silver. Then Willis and Pitt are in a mental institution and a black man with a gray beard wearing formal attire talks about not being from outer space with goofy looks on his face. Cut to old black and white cartoons with crazy characters. Then a guard at a desk reads a newspaper with a man on stilts in the background changing lightbulbs in a hallway as Willis stumbles to an elevator, the guard tell him it’s not working, but the guard’s appearance subtly changes from one face to another, his newspaper’s headline says, “Bat Child Found in Cave” with a scary photo. then Willis and Stowe are in a car, Willis has sad expressions while Stowe has incredulous expressions. Fade to Pitt with long hair wearing dark clothes and a black stocking cap as he explains his theory of predictive neuro-analytics, he grabs his crotch in a funny gesture, tosses a globe to the floor and walks around the room making exaggerated gestures. then a small logo for the film appears and the camera slowly zooms in, it is red silhouettes of monkeys arranged in a circle with the title “Twelve Monkeys” over it.

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(fair use, unauthorized trailer)

Some US senators claim that they need 60 votes to overturn the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision which reversed Roe. They don’t. They can do it with a simple majority.

- None of the justices who voted to overturn Roe got 60 votes in their confirmation hearings when they were appointed to the court.

- If you add up all of the confirmation votes by senators for justices who favored keeping Roe, it totals more votes than those from senators who voted for justices who opposed Roe.

Right now, there are 55 senators who claim to be pro-choice. They could overturn the SCOTUS decision today if they wanted to.

NEWS FLASH: They don’t want to overturn the SCOTUS decision and make abortion legal.

They are lying to you.

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Senators voting for SCOTUS nominee at confirmation:

Votes for justices who support Roe
total = 296

Votes for justices who oppose Roe
total = 266


My toots don't seem to appear in threads on at all. Are they completely blocking qoto?

I follow several accounts there but even when I respond to someone I follow, my toots don't in appear in the thread and I don't even think they are seeing them.

Oh, and by the way, while all that was happening we landed the first astronauts on the moon.

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The Beatles song "Revolution" was released amid the revolution that occurred in the US during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The revolution resulted in:

- the removal from office of Richard Nixon, the 37th president;

- the ratification of the 27th Amendment in 1971 lowering the voting age to 18;

- Establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency

- ending the Vietnam War;

- large scale integration of schools in the South;

- and many other substantial changes.

"...the hashtag symbol # originated as a stylized abbreviation of the Roman term libra pondo, written as ℔."

"libra ponda" is latin for "weighing a pound" (# is also used to abbreviate the unit of weight, pound)


Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has received more than $3 million in book advances from Knopf Doubleday Group. The first advance, more than $1M, came as she was seated on the court.

I wonder why the media are not talking about that.

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