Category Archives: film video or TV

DC Environmental Film Festival 2017: “Nuclear Power Play” QA

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, the DC Environmental Film Festival held a program “Nuclear Power Play” at the Carnegie Science Center.  There were two short films, “Nuclear Winter” and “Triad” and “City 40”.  The panel included Kit Roane (Retro Report), Dan Sagayin, and Samira Goetsche.

Generally, there was concern expressed that the US and Russia, following the Soviet Union, tend to make it more plausible that they could use nuclear weapons if they maintain the hardware.  There was concern over making rogue states and non-state actors believe “everybody wants some”.




4  Question from the audience about the character of scientists







(Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 2:30 PM EST)

Cato forum today, “Populism and Nationalism in the Trump Era”

The Cato Institute held a two-part panel today, “Populism and Nationalism in the Trump Era”, link here gives the names of the speakers.

There was a presentation of a report “Stranger in my own Country: Populism and Nativism in America”.  The report had surveyed people near Pittsburgh and in Wilmington NC.  There is a general impression that Trump voters did feel left out in today’s world, and were inhibited from speaking their minds about old-fashioned values, which they see as local and related to faith and not as intrinsically hateful or discriminatory.  The subject of political correctness, identity politics, and campus speech codes came up. 

There was criticism of the extreme vetting and immigration suspensions being discussed now, as not likely to improve real security. 

Some survey respondents felt that Muslim immigrants did work hard but did not seem as interested in assimilating culturally as maybe was the case the past.

There was also mention of the danger of neglecting any working population too long;  history has shown that this can invite fascism and dictatorship.

In the reception afterward, I heard an account that refugee assimilation in Germany had generally gone well with few problems for hosts or volunteers, which contradicts other reports I had heard in September.






(Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 11:15 PM EST)

Cato forum on “Men Without Work”

Today I attended a Cato book forum, about “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis”, by Nicholas Eberstadt, from Templeton Press, from the American Enterprise Institute.

Davd Bier also spoke, about how immigrant males compare in workforce participation compared to naturally-born Americans.

Men with less education, and especially black men, and especially also men with some law enforcement problems, have shown a steady decline in employment, up to about 25% non-participation. The decline has been consistent during economic recoveries as well as declines (2008).

These are men who do not even look for work, but “watch”, on electronic devices, as if doing so were a fake job.  Some live at home with parents as adults.  They tend not to participate in childcare or volunteer work or chores.  They seem lazy.

Immigrant men do not show this problem as much.  Immigrant men (despite the “Trojan horse” issue) have lower crime rates than native men.  Men who are married with children are much less likely to remain idle.  The lecture did not address same-sex marriage, but presumably a male couple with children to raise would perform similarly to traditional couples.  Immigrant men are more likely to be married with kids and follow conventional gender roles more than native men.

Immigrant men are also more able to move around geographically, but this could mean lower home ownership rates.   In higher paying tech jobs, I would think that single men would be more geographically mobile.  When education level improves, the performance of single men starts to compare much better with married men.











(Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 12:30 AM EST)

Northern Virginia International Film and Music Festival, 2016


The film “TRI” (directed by Jai Jamison) about the Nation’s Triathlon, based in Washington DC, aired at the Northern Virginia Film Festival April 29.

Here are three files from the QA




The horror film “Altar” by Matthew Sconce aired on Tuesday April 29.




There are full reviews on Blogger here.

Below is a picture by Terrabass of the countryside in the Sierra near the site of the film (Wikipedia link CCSA 3.0 license).

Sierra Nevada

(Published: Friday, April 29, 2016 at 9 PM EDT)

QA for George Mason University law school forum on films about Ukraine and Chernobyl


The following is sample of the Q and A  from a session Sunday, April 24, 2016 in the auditorium at Founder’s Hall at the Law School of George Mason University in Arlington VA, maybe 70 people in attendance.

The first film was a short “One Story of Basketball: War and Peace” about a Phoenix Suns player emigrated from Ukraine.

The second was about young classical pianists, “Pianino for Peace”, by Max Rydow, about to enter college, who did QA with other filmmakers.

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From audience

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One of the directors of “The Babushkas of Chernobyl”, Holly Morris, spoke very briefly by Skype but did not do a QA. The film is to be distributed by Journeyman Pictures.

A full review of the three films is on my Blogger site (but not all the video is there).


Dmitro Vlasoy of the AP has a story on the remembrance by Ukrainian citizens of the accident that happened thirty years ago today,   and which the Soviet government tried to deny for a while.

Here’s a film (9 min) “Chernobyl New Safe Confinement”, the Apka Shelter for Reactor 4.

Here is a Russian or Ukrainian film “Shooting Inside the Sarcophagus”

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Pripyat and Chernobyl after desertion by Jason Minshull


(Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 1 PM EDT)


QA for “People Are the Sky” at Filmfest DC


Here are some Question and Answer comments from film director Dai Sil Kim-Gibson of the movie “People Are the Sky”,  shown in Filmfest DC on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 3 PM.  The main review is here.

Clip 1   (audience)

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Clip 7 (audience)

Clip 8  (audience)

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(Published Tuesday, April 19, 2016)

A sobering view of North Korea’s labor camps: “Secret Footage: This Is the DPRK

There are numerous such videos on YouTube.

Wikipedia attributionn link for picture of North Korean bookstore with works only by the Kim family, by Roman Harak, under CCSA 2.0.

CBS airs “Faith, Spirituality and the Future”, and I’m in it



CBS News has aired a 25 minute short film “Faith, Spirituality, and the Future”, narrated by Roland Smith, directed by John Blessington, link here.

The film starts with commentary by the new pastor at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC (which shared the link on Facebook) , Julie Pennington-Russell, and Diana Butler Bass.  There is a general idea that churches need to reach people where they are, rather than open the doors and say you’re either “in” or “out”. The documentary covers several groups (including Unitarian) in Washington DC and New York City, including one pastor who also plays as a hip-hop musician.

I appear in this film, sitting in the FBCDC congregation, about four minutes in.

(Published: Monday, April 11, 2016 at 7 PM EDT)

“Poverty, Inc.” Film QA at Cato Institute


The following is some excerpts from the QA of producer Mark Weber of the film “Poverty, Inc.” (2014), shown Monday, April 4, 2016 at the Cato Institute in Washington DC.

The film takes the position that conventional foreign aid programs typically destroy incentives of local businesses and farms overases to produce for themselves, and that what people in other countries need is stable government, “rule of law”, and infrastructure.  A complete review is here.

Here are three excerpts




(Published: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 11:15 PM EDT)

Ellie Hassenfeld discusses “Give Well” for Harvard Effective Altruism

(Added here May 3, 2016).


“Containment” film QA at American University


Here are some videos of the QA for the film “Containment” by Peter Galison and Robb Moss, shown as part of the DC Environmental Film Festival in the Communications school auditorium, 2nd floor, at American University in Washington DC, March 25, 2016.

The film deals with the storage of nuclear waster (main review).

Clip 1

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Clip 4:

(Published Monday April 4, 2016 at 11:30 PM EDT)

Bonus: Tour of Yucca Mountain (2002) near Nye, Nevada (YouTube)

Taylor Wilson talks about the future of Energy at the University of Nevada



Reid Ewing’s recent podcast interview ties a lot of themes in psychology and art together


I found an interesting podcast recorded by Dr. Dave Verhaagen and his Champion of Mental Health award, of actor Reid Ewing.  The article is here, and the podcast, running 40 minutes (worth it to listen to in entirety) here.

Reid was known as the handsome, lanky and goofy character Dylan for some time on Modern Family. He has starred in several comedies, in the horror “Fright Night”, the web sci-fi comedy TV series “The Power Inside”, and has made a number of music videos, like “Traffic Jam”, and an intriguing three-part series of short films “It’s Free” in mockumentary style, but somehow tied up with a company Igigi Studios.

Reid, now 27, got media coverage in November 2015 with his essay in the Huffington Post disclosing a previous issue with body dysmorphia.  He also announced on Twitter, almost as an afterthought, that he is gay, saying “I was never in”, Advocate story.

The podcast is interesting to me for several details.  I’ll leave the reader to listen to Reid explaining his own account of the experience, as well as his situation now as a college student and his circumstances in the film world (toward the end of the interview). If I understood right, his father of the same name is a well-known professor of city planning in Utah.

Also, before moving on with my own perspective, let me note that some of this is not about Reid (or me),  It’s a biological fact it takes until around age 25-28 for the brain to be fully grown.  Chess players reach their biological peak at about age 30.  By the mid 20s, people often wonder how they were taken in and manipulated by others promoting certain ideas (about body image, for example) when they were teenagers.  He even mentions wanting a “conversation with his younger self”, right out of relativity.

Now, I did want to note that as a young man I experienced a kind of dysmorphia, but it was expressed in almost a flip-side manner of what he describes.  While I was sexually attracted to young men who fit a certain cultural stereotype of “masculinity”, I was surprisingly disconnected from awareness of my own personal appearance and of my own body most of the time.  By the time I started paying a lot more attention in later middle age, it was already “too late”, as I had melted away.  Reid’s own report of dysmorphia might seem surprising in light of his MF YouTube video “Imagine Me Naked” (2011), not as well known (also from Modern Family) as his song “In the Moonlight (Do Me)”, which actually works as a music prelude if you play the music alone by ear on a church organ (without the words). The “naked” does have telling lyrics, talking about never having to “fake it.”

His comments bear a certain relevance to the topic of psychological growth, the way it has been discussed at the Ninth Street Center in New York City, now known as a remnant, the Paul Rosenfels Community.  Rosenfels had developed the theory of character specialization or “polarities” (masculine and feminine, power-love, right-truth, objective-subjective, unbalanced-balanced, fun-pleasure, masochism-sadism, guilt-shame, and other axes).  Rosenfels’s analytic writing style follows from Eric Hoffer, and is best known for his 1971 book “Homosexuality: The Psychology of the Creative Process” (earlier review ).   In 1986, the Center made a black-and-white video “The Paul Rosenfels Video Anthology”, of which it printed a DVD in 1998, about an hour of talk-group footage.


The Center opened in 1972 and remained so until 1991, between 2nd and 3rd avenues on E 9th Street in the East Village.  (I think Matt Damon and Anderson Cooper live somewhere in the general area and may be familiar with the history of the place.) The space had two basement rooms.  Originally, there were talk groups on Wednesday and Friday nights, and an acting class on Mondays, and potluck suppers on Saturday.  Over time, the talk groups expanded.


Reid mentions acting as if it were therapeutic, as he can become someone else and leave his own issues with the self and body image.  I have heard other actors (mostly stage) say similar things, especially at the Center in NYC, and later hanging out with IFP-MSP in Minneapolis and later Reel Affirmations in Washington (and even when visiting Mark Parrish [“Jerome’s Razor” and “Mustang Sally”] one time in Boston).  Reid expresses a healthy skepticism of established authority, as to “what truth they are speaking to”.  (Moral “right” is complementary to human “truth” in the Rosenfels polarity system.)


I’ll mention a couple other things.  Reid is passionate about animals, and adopts dogs, and his twitter feed shows life with dogs and at least one very venturesome cat. Actor Jesse Eisenberg is mentioned in Wikipedia as having a similar interest in rescuing cats.  (Dogs and cats both learn to recognize the unique electromagnetic signature of the heartbeat of their owners, and find it stimulating.)  His Twitter feed has always contained a lot of drawings and mentions of literary subjects, and lately has been communicating a lot of material from Japanese manga, especially Danganronpa, where he adopts the names of some characters.   The podcast, toward the end, mentions the Japanese film ( 2000)  “Battle Royale”, which anticipates “The hunger Games” but that has some unusual storytelling structures (my review   has already attracted unusual volume of hits).


With Danganronpa, as with other PlayStation games, people make “movies” or “web series” out of games played out with the characters.  I suppose a movie distributor or theater chain could buy a license to offer some of these in game film festivals.  I’m not a gamer myself, simply because there isn’t time in life for everything.

A lead good guy in “The Event”  Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) is a gamer who doesn’t know that he is actually an extraterrestrial alien with powers and who will not age.

I do mean this as a complement (or complment?)  Could Reid host SNL on NBC?  As Dylan?  As Mikan or Reba?  Maybe do a satire on how so many people want everything in life to be “free”?  But the problem is, that sounds like satire that would please conservatives (or maybe pseudo’s like Donald Trump as well as the “little Rubio’s” of the world).  Or maybe libertarians, best of all.  It’s hard to get tickets to SNL if you do the Amtrak Acela routine.  I’d love to get the same hotel room in the Yotel or Iriquois.

(Published Saturday March 19, 2016 at 11:30 PM EDT; some photos come from my just-moved train set, which is supposed to model the rama-like space station for my own screenplay, “DADT Ephiphany”)