Sexless Monday

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For decades, no big-box-office, adult-oriented Hollywood movie was apparently complete without a sex scene, from Don’t Look Now to Basic Instinct. Yet it appears that erotica is now dying out in mainstream cinema.

A critical analysis published in the Washington Post last week noted: “Sex is disappearing from the big screen, and it’s making movies less pleasurable.”

It said that a new summer pattern has emerged: the release of several European-produced festival and arthouse films – often, like this year’s French drama Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo, heavy with action – followed by a season of sexless Hollywood action and family films.

Lost between those two options is the classic sex scene. So no more Don’t Look Now with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland; no 9½ Weeks with Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke; no Dangerous Liaisons, The Postman Always Rings Twice or Mulholland Drive … the list goes on.

“Once a staple of high-gloss, adult-oriented, mainstream movies,” the Washington Post wrote, the sex scene “has been largely forgotten and ignored, recommitted to the very esoteric margins it sprang from generations ago”.

But why? According to academics and close observers of Hollywood culture, the reasons are multifarious, and suggest that the movie business is going through a profound realignment of priorities backed by broad cultural, political and legislative changes.

Edward Helmore @ THE GUARDIAN

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Fathers’ Space Sunday

RECORD-SETTING NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: If you’ve never seen a cloud of frosted meteor smoke, now is the time to look. 2019 is shaping up to be the best year for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) … maybe ever. Normally confined to near-Arctic latitudes, NLCs have been seen this month in most US states. On Friday morning, June 14th, Don Davis saw them, astonishingly, from the city of Joshua Tree not far from Los Angeles CA:


Noctilucent clouds over Joshua Tree CA on June 14, 2019

“They were dim but distinct,” says Davis. “I photographed them easily using a 4 second exposure at ISO 400.”

Davis’s sighting at +34.1 degrees sets the record for low-latitude observations of NLCs, breaking the previous record set only five days earlier by Brian Guyer at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico (+35.1 degrees).

“I’m shocked to report that I saw the noctilucent clouds while venturing outdoors for a weather observation shortly after sunset,” says Guyer, who is a senior meteorologist. “When I noticed the faint blue wavy tendrils far off to the north, I asked myself, ‘am I really seeing noctilucent clouds from here?’ I’m happy to see that other folks are also seeing these beautiful spectacles of nature at lower latitudes.”

Noctilucent clouds form every year when wisps of summertime water vapor rise to the top of Earth’s atmosphere and crystallize around specks of meteor smoke. The season typically starts in late May, peaks in July, and peters out in August. If NLCs are being seen in California and New Mexico in June, the season’s peak in early July could be very special indeed.

Noctilucent clouds have been creeping south for years–a possible result of climate change and/or the solar cycle. 2019 has broken all the old records for southern sightings, bringing the clouds into the mainstream of mid- to low-latitude sky watching. Now everyone should be alert for NLCs.

Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset (or before sunrise) when the sun is just below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.

 

 @ SPACEWEATHER

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Old Toker Saturday

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Oldest evidence of cannabis smoking found in ancient Chinese cemetery.

Scorched wooden incense burners unearthed at an ancient burial ground in the mountains of western China contain the oldest clear evidence of cannabis smoking yet found, archaeologists say.

Residues of high potency cannabis found in the burners, and on charred pebbles placed inside them, suggest that funeral rites at the 2,500-year-old Jirzankal cemetery in the Pamir mountains may have been rather hazy affairs.

Scientists believe the stones were heated in a fire before being transferred to the wooden braziers and covered with cannabis, which duly billowed psychoactive smoke. With music as an accompaniment, the heady fumes may have prompted those present to attempt to commune with nature, spirits or the dead.

Researchers have found remnants of cannabis at ancient sites in Central Asia before, but the latest discovery points to the intentional use of plants with high levels of the active compound, THC, and to cannabis being inhaled rather than ingested.

Ian Sample @ THE GUARDIAN

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PHWRYdae PHUNNeze

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Truthout Thursday

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Follow the Money

Confronted by activists during a fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party over the weekend, DNC chairman Tom Perez insisted it would be impractical to make one of the dozen scheduled 2020 presidential primary debates solely about the global climate crisis and candidates’ proposed solutions.

“A lot of young people say we should have a single debate focused on climate change,” Perez told activists after delivering a speech at the gala. But, the DNC chairman added, “once you have one single issue debate, then every debate leads to become a single issue debate in order to address the concerns.”

“So these debates, and we will have issue areas in debates, including but not limited to climate,” Perez said, “but it’s just not practical for us to have one debate on democracy reform, one debate on voting.”

@ TRUTHOUT

Um, let see, the whole World’s climate is at stake imperiling our existence but it is not important enough for one debate? Dump Perez!

 

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Wall Street Wednesday

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Protesters march during a rally against the extradition law proposal in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Chaotic scenes erupted in Hong Kong on Wednesday as tens of thousands of demonstrators stormed key roads next to government offices to protest against a proposed extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Thousands of protesters rallied in and around Lung Wo Road, an important east-west artery near the offices of embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, as hundreds of riot police warned them to stop advancing.

Some protesters erected barricades to block traffic in the heart of the Asian financial center, with many defying police calls to retreat, in scenes reminiscent of pro-democracy protests that rocked the city in late 2014.

The government advised staff to avoid driving to government buildings because roads were blocked.

Lam has defiantly vowed to press ahead with the controversial legislation despite deep concerns across the Asian financial hub that triggered on Sunday its biggest political demonstration since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

@ REUTERS

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Marge the Barge

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Work in Progress

Introducing; Marge the Barge, in all her rolling glory.

Pray for me, and pray for Marge that she keeps rolling along nicely.

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