Monday, 19 March 2012

Documentary: The U.S. vs John Lennon (2006)

The U.S. vs. John Lennon is a 2006 documentary film about English musician John Lennon’s transformation from a member of The Beatles to a rallying anti-war activist striving for world peace during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The film also details the attempts by the United States government under President Richard Nixon to silence him. The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. It was released in New York City and Los Angeles, California on 15 September 2006, and had a nationwide release on 29 September. A soundtrack composed of John Lennon tracks was released by Capitol Records and EMI on 26 September 2006.

The film explores the political activism that Lennon became strongly involved in with the Beatles and after the band ended. John Lennon is established as being a potential political threat to the American government, and therefore much of the film covers the theme of ‘silencing’ him and other popular figures that became involved in anti-war activism. Throughout the film the audience can see both sides of the situation: the audience sees the protests and events Lennon and Yoko Ono organised, such as the famous “Give Peace A Chance” rally and concepts such as bagism and bed peace.

We also see the increasing fear experienced by the US government and CIA. This build-up of paranoia and fear for control led to the eventual deportation notice sent to John

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Speech: How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries

Adam Savage (the host of "MythBusters" on the Discovery Channel) walks through two spectacular examples of profound scientific discoveries that came from simple, creative methods anyone could have followed -- Eratosthenes' calculation of the Earth's circumference around 200 BC and Hippolyte Fizeau's measurement of the speed of light in 1849.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Research: Kony 2012, Viewed Critically

The recent new media campaign KONY 2012 has gone extremely viral, raising awareness about Kony's horrible actions in Uganda and East Africa but also raising a lot of questions about hidden agendas behind the campaign (supporting military intervention?), about the credibility of the creators (Invisible Children) as a controversial activist organisation, their work and the effects of their most recent viral short documentary.

This post is dedicated to the Kony campaign criticism. I think there is no doubt that Joseph Kony is causing great suffering but that won't justify a campaign with false aims which might be serving hidden agendas. I believe it is something one needs to look more into, before supporting it.


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Article 1 - VISIBLE CHILDREN, Kony viewed critically 
A LOT of information and discussion around the Invisible Children organisation on this blog dedicated to this matter only. The author has been asked (but denied) interviews by Al Jazeera English, FOX, NBC’s Today show and BBC World Service.
NOTE: This blog has been blocked by facebook. Source

Article 2 - The TRUTH behind the KONY 2012 movement
Key facts discussed here: The documentary was filmed in 2003, Uganda Oil Reserves Rival Saudi Arabia's, Says U.S. Expert, CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corp) weighs Uganda refinery, Obama sends 100 troops to combat LRA in Uganda

Article 3 - Kony 2012 Campaign: Too simple, Too dumb
KONY2012's viral campaign shows the effectiveness of new media -- and the problem with over-simplifying a message

The happy story of the Kony viral video obscures the realities of the Pentagon in Africa

There is growing outrage in Uganda over the viral internet film viewed by more than 32 million people in four days that suggests Africa’s longest-running conflict is still raging in the country’s north.

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A quote from a thread in (which can be found here) concerning the organisations financials:
I'd like to bring your attention to the non-profit that is organizing this marketing blitz, Invisible Children.
I went through their financials in the original thread on the front page, and I'd like to share with you my concerns...
Of the $8.9 million they spent in 2011, this is the breakdown:
  • $1.7 million in US employee salaries
  • $357,000 in Film costs
  • $850,000 in Production costs
  • $685,000 in Computer equipement
  • $244,000 in "professional services" (DC lobbyists)
  • $1.07 million in travel expenses
  • $400,000 in office rent in San Diego
  • $16,000 in Entertainment etc...
Only 2.8 million (31%) made it to their charity program (which is further whittled down by local Ugandan bureaucracy) - what do the children actually get?
Source on page 6 of their own financial reportTheir rating on Charity Navigator is because they haven't had their financial books independently audited. ...which is not a surprising given the use of cash noted above.
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Some Videos Following:

Article: Does Cannabis Boost Creativity?

Original Article written by David Jay Brown for Santa Cruz Patch - Monday 12, January 2012

New scientific studies suggest that getting high on marijuana can genuinely make you more creative.

For many years, numerous highly-acclaimed artists, scientists, writers, musicians, and creative people of all sorts have claimed that marijuana holds enormous potential to enhance creativity and inspire the imagination.

Now, new scientific studies are beginning to confirm these claims, and researchers are starting to understand the psychological mechanisms behind how cannabis can improve the creative process.

There’s a common myth, perpetuated by the mainstream media, that people often mistakenly think that they’re brilliant and creative while under the influence of cannabis, only to find that their creations are worthless, or that their insights are meaningless nonsense, upon returning to normal everyday consciousness.

Let’s dispel this pervasive myth about cannabis right now, by taking the many anecdotal reports to heart, and looking at what the scientific studies have to say.

From Charles Baudelaire to George Carlin, Shakespeare to Carl Sagan, Louis Armstrong to Paul McCartney, Norman Mailer to Jack Nicholson, the list of accomplished creative people who have claimed a positive influence from their use of cannabis is truly impressive.

I’ve personally spoken with many accomplished people who made claims about how essential cannabis was for their creative process. For example, when I interviewed the late

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Video: What Does it Cost to Change the World?

Speech: Susan Cain - The power of introverts

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

Our world prizes extroverts -- but Susan Cain makes a case for the quiet and contemplative.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Quote: Disciplined Militancy

"The struggle of those who obey against those who command, when the mode of commanding entails destroying the human dignity of those underneath is the most legitimate, most motivated, most genuine action that exists."

- Simone Weil

The author has written numerous books and articles. This quote is from a collection of essays entitled Oppression and Liberty that was published in the early 1940s. Highly recommended, especially for readers who have the will and time to actually contemplate upon what they have just read.

Speech: Luis von Ahn - Massive-scale online collaboration

After re-purposing CAPTCHA so each human-typed response helps digitize books, Luis von Ahn wondered how else to use small contributions by many on the Internet for greater good. At TEDxCMU, he shares how his ambitious new project, Duolingo, will help millions learn a new language while translating the Web quickly and accurately -- all for free.