Monday, June 25, 2018

(Advanced) Dirty John

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Dirty John is a true crime story focusing on the life and exploits of John Meehan. L.A. Times Journalist Christopher Goffard first heard of Meehan when he learned that the police were investigating a possible murder in Newport Beach. Upon investigating, Goffard discovered a bizarre web of deceit and abuse.

 The main focus of the story is Meehan's relationship with businesswoman Debra Newell, who he met via Internet dating, as well her immediate and extended family. The podcast deals with themes of abuse and manipulation, as well as the behaviours of those being abused.

Episode 1: The Real Thing

Debra Newell, an interior designer in Southern California, meets John Meehan on an over-50 dating site. His profile looks exciting: Anesthesiologist, divorced, Christian. She falls in love fast. But her children dislike him and warn her that his stories don’t add up. A psychologist advises Debra to set firmer boundaries with her kids, saying she has a right to be happy.

Dirty John - episode 1 - The Real Thing

Link to whole series on Wondery:

(Advanced) Private fireworks ignites community

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

(Advanced Film / Lit SPIN) Clips from 2001 - A Space Odyssey

 Clip 1 - From Bone to Satellite

Using a bone as a weapon for the first time, an ape beats down the leader of another tribe to reclaim control of a watering hole. Triumphant, the ape tosses the bone into the air which transforms into an orbital satellite, jumping four million years of human history.

Clip 2 - Sketches

Bowman (Keir Dullea) shows Hal 9000 some sketches he's worked on and also discusses the mission.

Clip 3 - Hal 9000

The Hal 9000 computer refuses to obey an order from Bowman (Keir Dullea) by simply responding in monotone, "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Clip 4 - Beyond the Infinite

Having gone from Jupiter and beyond the infinite, Bowman (Keir Dullea) arrives in a strange bedroom with Louis XVI-style decor.

Clip 5 - The ending

Dave is near death. In front of him monolith shows up - some kind of step to a higher evolution level made by aliens. Dave dies and is reborn  - perhaps a metaphor for purity, harmony and love.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

(Student Writing C1.3) Science Fiction Story: "Proxima B – The Journey of Bucephalus", by Nils Afentoulidis

From Gabriel: I have highlighted some minor errors in bold and commented / suggested changes italicised and bracketed.

Chapter 1 – 37 years in space 

“Captain’s log, 10th of December 2067. Today, 37 years ago, the Bucephalus embarked on its long journey to Proxima B. Traversing the J√∂rmungandr nebula, the range ship’s sensors are severely limited and communications to mission control were lost three years ago when we first entered J√∂rmungandr. At 0200 our ship was hit by a meteor shower: 3 Injured, 1 Critical. Damages: Antimatter banks D21 through F47 Jettisoned for safety reasons after irreversible damage; minor damages to the ship’s hull. The affected Energy supplies were merely a redundant reserve but according to the informations currently on hand, we are nonetheless to arrive at our final destination on the first of January, 2069; just as initially planned by mission control. Cherenkov Out.” 

“Attention, All technical officers! Rendez-vous at 0525 in the mess. Repeat: All technical officers! Rendez-vous at 0525 in the mess!” roared the ceiling speakers in a distinct Russian accent. This was the first time I (have) noticed an accent in his (Captain Cherenkov's) voice and it can only mean one thing: Captain Cherenkov (he) is nervous. Perhaps even desperate. Before I leave however, it is crucial I finish inspecting the adjacent Antimatter banks lest we all get atomised merely due to an overlooked defect. 

(Present tense to past tense shift?)

“Torvald and Singh! Report immediately!” boomed the Speakers as I was dashing toward the mess. I felt terribly nauseous as the entrance to the mess came into sight. Was it my lack of sleep or my circulatory system giving up after a 35 minute Sprint in Magnetic safety boots? Or was it my anxiety of seeing an outraged Cherenkov? Probably all of the above. 

Running in a blurred, tunnel-visioned effort, I suddenly found myself on the cold metal floor of the corridor with something slender lying on top of me. “Oh my, please excuse me, Torvalds! We’re late, let’s hurry up” Singh said as she was helping me get back up on my feet. Exhausted and out of breath I didn’t bother replying and simply gave her a nod and followed her to the mess. 

“Your delaying of our meeting is Intolerable, you are endangering the entire mission. You will face severe-” scolded the Commander but (he) was interrupted: “enough, Commander Rohrschach! Let us start immediately” said Cherenkov to a grim faced Rohrschach as we were taking our seats. Still breathless from my long sprint, I took a moment to appreciate the interior of the mess in order to mentally calm down. It was the only place on the Bucephalus where the walls and ceiling were not just flat and white. The room was lighted by oil lamps (needless to say, the flames weren’t real but holographic; odourless and with adjustable luminosity), the walls and ceiling were clad with ebony and the banquet tables were made of hand-forged Damascus steel and so were the chairs. The mess could host had 40 people at once, just enough for the personnel of one shift. 

(Excellent descriptive passage Nils)

But for our captain, our commander, Singh, 5 other officers and me, the mess was empty. With all required attendees seated, we started by reporting the current status as well as our newest calculations and estimations. “Sir, Chief Engineer Torvald reports. The remaining antimatter banks are intact and fully operational. Our maintenance drones will have repaired the ship’s hull by 0800. ” “Sir, Flight Surgeon Singh reports. The damages to the Antimatter (sometimes you spell with cap and sometimes without - be consistent) banks have caused a brief power spike, ending the lives of 30 Cryo-passengers. Apart from this temporary malfunction, our medical service drones report no permanent damages to the Cryo-chamber and its remaining passengers.” “Sir, Commander Rohrschach: Our sensors have detected a massive barrage from outer space heading into our general direction. Estimated time of impact: 29th of December. We need more energy for our thrusters to reach the next moon for shelter.” 

I was so focused on our meeting that I had forgotten about my nausea but now, hearing Rohrschach’s menacing tone and his sharp German accent, I was feeling it again and in to its fullest extent. I had a brief (vague) understanding of where we were and which celestial bodies were within a 30-day range from our current position. None, to my knowledge… “The closest solid orb is 42 days away from our current position… at our current speed that is” Cherenkov uttered, followed by a sigh. “Sir, with all due respect” I said, “we would have to increase our velocity by at least 120%. At this speed, our machines will be far less efficient than they are now. Having lost most of our antimatter reserves, we won’t have enough energy to make it to Proxima B, within the next two decades…” Rohrschach stood up to tell me to calm down before I continued speaking, but I couldn’t help it: “we would have to reduce our remaining energy consumption to 2% of what we are using now. This is madness!” I screeched as my voice failing me. “Chief Engineer, you are dismissed! Come and see me on the bridge at 0745 for a recap of this meeting. Panic is the last thing we can afford in a time like this.” Cherenkov ordered. Nerve-wracked, I left the room and stumbled towards the restroom, where I finally disgorged... 

The next thing I knew was that I woke up in sickbay with Singh syringing me with Stimulants and intravenously infusing concentrated nutrients into my body. When my sight was clear again, she gave me my holographic communicator. With a sad expression on her face, she told me that my meeting with the Captain was cancelled and that I was to look at this recording instead it. 
I switched on the communicator and it projected Cherenkov’s bearded face into mid-air, his head as large as a Swiss ball. This time he was calm and without a discernible accent. He was assigning me my work orders. 

Singh and I were staring at each other in horror. Just as I had feared, I was assigned with the task of shutting down the rotational gravity generator as well as the life support systems (except for the bridge and the cryo-chamber). Singh was worried about the additional psychological stress imposed by zero gravity combined with the need to use breathing devices leading to personnel burning out. 
I was more concerned about the fact that our crew lacks experience in zero G and our indoor drones not being calibrated for zero G either. Furthermore, most of our active personnel will have to enter cryo-stasis to save energy and naturally, a decrease in manpower at an unvaried total work volume will result in an increased error rate. I didn’t mention this to Singh because, as Cherenkov pointed out, panic is the last thing we can afford right now.