Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

One of the cool things about keeping myself up to date about the world of cinema is that we’ve actually watched the films that established the career of director Taika Waititi before he hit the big time with this latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having watched both What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it was possible to recognize the director’s voice role in here but also cameos from his usual cast and numerous influences from his native New Zealand.

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Finance and Capital Markets

Another subject that Khan Academy has a lot of videos on is Finance and Capital Markets. None of this is particularly new to me but I thought I’d listen to them while mostly doing something else as a refresher. Looking over this list of topics, I was particularly intrigued in that he covers the more exotic parts of the financial work such as various types of derivatives and collateralized debt obligations which you don’t usually see in beginner level finance courses. There are also videos on more contemporary topics such as the housing crisis and the ongoing issue of Brexit.

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Man of Iron (1981)

So this is the third film we’ve watched by Polish director Andrzej Wajda and this one dates from 1981, before the fall of Communism in Poland. I was aware this is the second of a duology of two films but my wife and I have limited patience for films that require deep knowledge of a country’s history and Man of Iron is the more well known work of the two so I chose to watch only this one. This did lead to some confusion about who’s who but overall it didn’t work out too badly.

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My Life as a Zucchini (2016)

Last week The 18th European Union Film Festival took place in Malaysia though I guess mostly only expatriate and media types noticed. My wife and I heard about it on the radio and so I looked it up. Most of the films scheduled looked uninteresting to me as they are either too new or too obscure to have been reviewed much. We had already watched Fire at Sea. This is only thing that I found that has very high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes so I picked this to watch, if only as a show of support for such events.

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Recent Interesting Science Articles (October 2017)

With the Nobel Prizes being awarded earlier this month, there seems to be a bit of a lull in other science-related news.

  • The most fortuitously timed announcement, in light of the Nobel Prize for physics this year, is that for the first time a collision between two neutron stars has been observed through detection of both the gravitational waves and the electromagnetic radiation generated by the event. Not only did this demonstrate that light and gravitational waves travel at the same speed but it also provided astronomers with a treasure trove of information as the two sets¬† of data can be used to compare against one another. An astonishingly large proportion of the astronomers and astrophysics in the world now seems to be involved one way or another in this endeavor.
  • For a century, average human intelligence has been going up, a phenomenon that is now known as the Flynn effect. Now however scientists have noticed that this trend seems to be reversing. This was first noticed in 2004 but seems to have begun sometime in the mid-1970s. Since the decline in performance seems concentrated in deteriorating working memory the best guess so far is that it has something to do with the average age of the human population as a whole going up.
  • Now that dating websites have been around for a while, scientists have enough data to examine how they have changed society. This study¬†based on US data found that the rise of online dating has resulted in an increase in interracial marriages as well as more stable marriages. The first result isn’t surprising as it is a natural result of people dating outside of their usual social circles and it is a bit of surprise that married couples who know each other online appear to have lower breakup rates.
  • Finally a bit of news that is closer to home. A Singaporean team has sequenced the genome of the durian and identified the genes that are responsible for its characteristic smell. They also announced that the genome of the specific variety they studied, the popular Musang King, consists of about 46,000 genes, nearly double the number in the human genome, and traced the fruit tree’s evolution back 65 million years. Apparently a distant relation of the durian tree is the cacao tree which produces chocolate.

Tower (2016)

Pretty much everything that I watch has been readied for weeks or even months in advance just waiting for me to get to it. Since we usually only watch something like two to three films a week, it can be a while before I get to a title. All this is to say that I had been planning to watch this title way before the Las Vegas shooting early this month but doing so in its wake like this does give the experience some added weight and relevance.

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The unexamined life is a life not worth living