How did the new Luc Besson movie “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” compare to the now-two-decades-old film of his, “The Fifth Element“? Both were very funny and action-packed. It would be interesting to ask someone who saw the two movies but Valerian first. With that said, here are my impressions:
Valerian might as well have been played by Keanu Reeves, since the actor is basically channeling him. Actor Dane DeHann will inevitably be compared to Fifth Element’s much-older-than-the-female protagonist Bruce Willis. However, this time it is Valerian’s co-heroine Laureline who feels more like Willis’ “Corben Dallas”, doing both cracking-wise and kicking-ass. Actress Cara Delvingne apparently sang a song for the soundtrack, too, which is always fun. (That happened in a similarly trippy action fest from 2011, “Sucker Punch“, too.)
It has similar pacing, production design, fun dialog, and incredible visuals, just like Fifth Element. However, though the scale is much more grand – Valerian spans planets and thousands of creatures – the movie just doesn’t feel quite as important.
Both films have the process of a character coming to understand the horrors of war. In the Fifth Element, its “Leeloo” who in a heartbreaking scene, experiences it through a super-speed computer history lesson. In Valerian, it’s an entire group of tribal, peaceful characters who explain in a narrative flashback that they, after having their planet exterminated by an unrelated war from space, learned about the self-destructive human race who caused the genocide. It’s the same theme in both films, but Leeloo’s eye-opening scene just felt more important, perhaps because Fifth Element focused on just her individual evolution in that scene.
Leeloo is just more lovable than the tribe in Valerian.
It’s such a powerful paradigm shift for Leeloo that actress Milla Jovovich cries. In Valerian we’re told the same thing about the human race’s penchant for war and hate, but during a flashback about a group of characters, none of whom we really have any attachment to or character development for, so it’s just not as moving. One can still empathize for the tribe’s plight, but by the time the evolution in understanding happens to Leeloo, the viewer is already in love with her character.
In addition to being one of the main protagonists in the Fifth Element, Leeloo is also the title character and essentially the MacGuffin (the object around which the plot centers), all in one. However, as we learn in the film’s climax, the final element is more than just Leeloo – it’s love. Without it, they’d never have saved the world. In Valerian, the MacGuffin is a little creature that can reproduce and multiply whatever you stick in its butt. Besson’s message about love is present however, just in another way. In a movie with more than one self-important government agent character, Laureline is the character who puts love over the law at the climax of the film, in one of the film’s deeper moments. (more…)
Keene Signals its Support for Secession by its Recent Peaceful Civil Disobedience
In case you aren’t aware, the police have their own gang symbol. It’s called the “thin blue line” – a blue line horizontally sandwiched between two black bars. You’ll frequently see it on the back of vehicles presumably containing police or their immediate relatives. Of course, anyone can buy these stickers now, so police have other ways of recognizing their own, like these family “professional courtesy” passbooks, but regardless, the blue line is still seen on their cars, their clothing, and now flags. It helps create the “us vs them” mentality that some police have. Worse still, some people insist on treating the police as though they are better than the rest of humanity. Their word is gold in court, they get special burials when mass calamity happens, deferential treatment in many of the crimes the corrupt officers commit, and more.
In a recent Keene Sentinel piece about multiple city councilors gushing over their recent decision to paint a horribly garish blue line down the middle of Marlboro St, local commenter Johnson Rice points out that the city is actually committing civil disobedience against the federal government: (more…)
Former Police Chief and Convicted Child Rapist Robert K Chambers Sr.
The reason why the government police can be so corrupt and violent is because they have a monopoly on violence. There’s no competition allowed in the marketplace. Worse, you’re forced to fund the police, even if they are doing things you disagree with, like arresting people for possession of cannabis, teens for alcohol, or committing multiple counts of rape against a child.
Many people mistakenly believe all Cop Blockers are against the police. The truth is, I’m not against the police. I’m in favor of when police protect people from real crime involving a victim. I have even assisted the police when they were investigating real crimes. However if police are arresting people for victimless crimes, I will oppose that. I’m a police accountability activist, which means holding the cops to their promise of doing good by reporting on the bad ones. The worst cops are those like Chambers, who are clearly people in search of power over others, as this recent despicable example sadly proves.
It’s of course, not the first time that NH’s top cops have been caught up in ugly news, revealing some of them as corrupt, power seekers. Don’t forget the New London, NH chief who allegedly coerced college girls to take nude photos in the police basement when they were arrested for some victimless crime or another. Or how about the Canterbury, NH chief who allegedly used his position of power to engage in sexual acts with a female teen police explorer? There’s the Haverhill, NH chief who resigned after being busted for DUI. Obviously not all chiefs are low-life hypocrites, but you have to wonder how many of them are corrupt. There’s no way to stop a corrupt officer from rising through the ranks of power, since if you withhold taxes in protest, the very same police will come and attack you and your family. (more…)
For those who haven’t been following the ugly geek war happening behind the scenes of Bitcoin, here’s a recap, oversimplifying a complex situation:
As little as two years ago, Bitcoin’s median transaction fee was as low as $0.02 worth of bitcoin. That means half of all bitcoin transaction fees cost less than $0.02 and the other half cost over $0.02.
With Bitcoin, there are fees to send, not receive. (This is the reverse of credit cards, where the merchant pays a fee to receive.) In the past, if one wanted, one could send bitcoin with no fee and it would go through, just without any priority. As you can see from this chart, the median transaction fee has shot up mostly in the last six months or so, and it has risen has high as $3.00 worth of bitcoin!
That means that had I wanted, in the last few months, to go buy a $2.00 drink at Corner News with bitcoin here on Main Street in Keene, NH, it might cost me $3 just to send the $2, making it a $5 drink! No sane customer would pay a crazy fee like that. This dramatic rise in fees has destroyed bitcoin’s previous usefulness for microtransactions. No more bitcoin-operated snack machines, no more using bitcoin for small online tips, no more Watch-my-Bit micro-donation video streaming service. (more…)
You won’t believe this. Even I can’t believe it. I had to stop investigating this story because the rabbit hole of corruption was so deep that I lost sight of where it began. So let’s start at the end and work backwards…
100,000 Satellite Dishes Confiscated & Destroyed in Iran
In many parts of the world, especially poorer ones, internet access is barely available, and if it is at all, it’s expensive and slow. There also isn’t much in the way of in-home entertainment options as cable TV is non-existent as people cannot afford it. To get their news and entertainment, many people in the world turn to the sky, especially in oppressive regimes.
In places like China, Cuba and Iran, satellite receivers and dishes are illegal. Police even conduct regular raids of homes suspected of using satellite, still people’s thirst for freedom of information persists. In a story from last year about Iran destroying 100,000 siezed satellite dishes and receivers, Al Jazeera reported:
Iranian police regularly raid neighbourhoods and confiscate dishes from rooftops, and under Iranian law, satellite equipment is banned and those who distribute, use, or repair them can be fined up to $2,800…”Reforming this law is very necessary as using satellite is strictly prohibited, but most people use it,” he said. “This means that 70 percent of Iranians violate the law” by owning satellite dishes.
At the destruction “ceremony”, General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the head of Iran’s Basij militia, explained the dangers of freedom of information via satellite:
“The truth is that most satellite channels… deviate the society’s morality and culture…What these televisions really achieve is increased divorce, addiction and insecurity in society…Most of these satellite channels not only weaken the foundation of families but also cause disruptions in children’s education and children who are under the influence of satellite have improper behaviour” (emphasis added)
Countless Satellite Dishes Confiscated and Destroyed by the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq
Yes, he really used the phrase, “under the influence of satellite”! Besides his fearmongering, Naghdi is not admitting the real reason oppressive governments crack down on freedom of information.
Information, in this case delivered via Free-to-Air satellite, is a clear danger to the authoritarian state. They spend so much effort brainwashing their people via state schools and controlling local broadcast media, they can’t just allow all that to be undone by signals they can’t control coming from the sky!
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the message of liberty, cryptocurrency, and peace beamed down to the people under the boot of oppressive regimes worldwide?
The good news is it’s been happening 24/7 for most of this decade, thanks to LRN.FM’s Free-to-Air satellite channels over North and Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa! LRN.FM features dozens of liberty-oriented shows, both in live and podcast form, uncensored, streamed 24/7 online and broadcast internationally via Free-to-Air satellite. Free-to-Air means that no subscription is needed to receive the channels. They are TV or radio channels broadcast “in-the-clear”, direct-to-home.