Archive for the ‘(All Things) CULTURE’ Category

If you happened to enter a hotel lobby or some other location and encountered this receptionist, would you sense anything peculiar about her? Or would she pass as normal?

A humanoid robot ‘receptionist’ recently (a year ago is still ‘recently’ to me) unveiled at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, ‘Nadine‘ is able to function in a remarkably human-like manner, is able greet visitors and remember their names, and even remember conversations they have previously had. She shakes hands with visitors, waves them goodbye, is able to smile at visitors, and possesses the human touch of looking into people’s eyes when communicating. (more…)

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Opponents of US-led foreign interventions and wars may find themselves disappointed by the foreign policy paths the Trump-led White House ends up taking.

It hasn’t taken very long at all for the ill omens to appear. For all the talk of a new, inward-looking protectionism and a backing away from Neo-Con activity in the Middle East, suspicions build that the new administration may be all set to continue the Neo-Con agenda and soon commence hostile activity against Iran.

The accusations being leveled at Iran by President Trump and his Islamophobic National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (the “Islam is a cancer” guy) concerning alleged Iranian violations of the nuclear treaty are likely manufactured to try to mislead the American public into accepting military action against Iran. (more…)

I was recently asked to do a new interview, this one for William Ramsay Investigates‘ You-Tube channel and the Ed Opperman Report radio network.

This is the You Tube video upload on William Ramsay’s main channel. The audio/radio version should be airing on Awake radio at 22.00 tomorrow (Saturday 4th February) and then otherwise available on all channels of the Ed Opperman Report. (more…)

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Didn’t have enough time to properly, fully eulogise concerning the brilliant British film, stage and TV actor John Hurt, who passed away a few days ago after a struggle with pancreatic cancer.

There would be a lot to say about Hurt, whose rich, varied career included any number of memorable or stellar performances. But my own permanent sense of connection to Hurt’s on-screen legacy is a particular performance from his younger years.

While many would regard his portrayal of the Elephant Man as one of the great performances in cinema, John Hurt’s portrayal of the unhinged Emperor Caligula in the classic series I Claudius stands as one of the most compelling television performances there has ever been. (more…)

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I have decided – due to requests from several people – to stop writing negative things about Donald Trump or the Steve Bannon administration that has just come into the White House.

Even though I have serious misgivings about this new administration and its outlook (along with some more positive views on some specific ideas), I will – for a little while, at least – refrain from upsetting anyone any further or bursting any bubbles by asking questions or being too critical about the Trump White House.

Barring any particularly extraordinary event, this will be a Trump-free zone for a while. (more…)

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Torture exists. It goes on in the world. We all know that.
30 years after the UN Convention Against Torture established measures to eradicate the practice, it is in fact still going on in at least 141 countries; including countries that are signatories to the UN convention, according to Amnesty International’s  annual report (the one I’m quoting is from 2014).

The 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights is unambiguous: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

That ruling, as well as the Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, dictates an absolute ban on torture for any purpose; note that there’s no special allowance for ‘times of war’ or ‘urgent matters of national security’ or any other excuse any governments or agencies might offer for their illegal actions. (more…)

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Augustus is without doubt one of the most fascinating figures of history; and also one of the ancient historical figures we know most about because he left such clear marks on the world: politically, religiously, even physically.
He wanted everyone to know who he was, when he lived and what he did.

I started writing this article originally to mark the 2,000th anniversary of his death, which was in 2014: but I was waiting for Rome to restore and reopen the derelict Mausoleum of Augustus before posting it. That was the plan that had been announced by authorities in Rome at the time; but the highly anticipated restoration and re-opening of the Mausoleum never materialised, due to lack of funds.

2016 was then given as a date in which the project would finally see fruition; but so far there have been no announcements of progress – a subject I already covered here.

So, having waited a long time, I belatedly post this article up now: in commemoration of one of the greatest figures of history, a man still being written and argued about 2000 years after he shook off his mortal coil. (more…)

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I’ve been feeling a little weird lately, particularly over the Christmas season. A little off-balance. It was a weird sort of year.

And this feeling was amplified a day or two after Christmas when Carrie Fisher died – something that was not only very sad for me, but also seemed to mess with my sense of reality in a weird way.

I usually like having my sense of reality messed with, by the way – I always find it engaging, because it forces me to think and to also go back to thoughts I’ve had periodically over the years concerning what the real nature of reality is. But no so much this time; not when it involves a sad event or the death of a personal (and, as it happens, massively popular) icon.

It wasn’t the only thing lately, however, that got me thinking outside of the box. And for the first article here this year, I decided to take things in a different direction for a moment. (more…)

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You never forget your first love, they say.

Carrie Fisher was my first crush – and my infatuation with Princess Leia as a little boy was the closest to falling in ‘love’ that a five or six year-old boy is likely to experience.

Princess Leia – to my childhood eyes – was the most beautiful human being that could’ve been conceived of. To my more grown-up eyes now, nothing has really changed. Carrie Fisher in that role is still my absolute standard by which ‘beautiful’ is measured.

And I still retained my crush on Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia all through these years. (more…)