Friday, November 28, 2008

Great Movies... that Predict the Future?

GATTACA is up on Hulu. Seems it's also on Crackle.

This is one of my favorite movies. I could watch it a thousand times and find something new.

I never understood why it didn't get more acclaim. Or even more of a cult following. It rings true on so many different levels, plus it is a great piece of science fiction. I don't see movies like this being made today, and something about that makes me very sad.

Movies about the strength of the human spirit always seem to resonate with me.

Anyway, I was surfing the web, checking out TIME's TOP 50 INVENTIONS of 2008, following some links from DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-A-LONG BLOG (which was listed as # 15). Why, it is considered an invention, I'm not really sure. Don't get me wrong. I like the show. A lot. But an invention?

So of course, that piqued my curiosity as to what else Time was considering an invention -- and wouldn't you know it? The #1, ~~the~~ Invention of the year is none other than...

a $399 saliva test that estimates your predisposition for more than 90 traits and conditions ranging from baldness to blindness.

There is a high degree of "cool" factor for me in all this. I love new technology. I love seeing how our future is divergent from those Disneyland dioramas from the 50s. And how, sometimes, it's the same. And I have this theory that artists tend to be able to tap into some collective unconscious -- that in a way, lets them predict the future. (I'm not saying Nostradamus style, just Art reflects the times, and good art because a voice, an image, an icon of the time).

This is like something straight out of GATTACA.

"Age of the sample?"
"I kissed him 5 minutes ago. Gave him a good one."

"Got yourself a 9.3. Quite the catch."
"Quite the catch."

However, what scares me is --

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein says he is backing 23andMe not for its cinematic possibilities but because "I think it is a good investment. This is strictly medical and business-like." Google has chipped in almost half the $8.9 million in funding raised by the firm, which counts Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch and Ivanka Trump among its clients.

-- a 9 million dollar investment. From some of the most influential businessmen (and women) in the U.S. That seems like more than investing on a new fad.

I find Google's involvement particular bothersome. I don't mean to come off as some chaos conspiracy theorist nut, but Google does have their hands in a lot of different new media. Very wave of the future stuff.

Wojcicki and Avey see themselves not just as businesswomen but also as social entrepreneurs.


With their customers' consent, they plan to amass everyone's genetic footprint in a giant database...


...that can be mined for clues to which mutations make us susceptible to specific diseases and which drugs people are more likely to respond to.

Oh. That's cool.

The real issue here, is this is an incredibly altruistic tact for something that has such potential to reshape society as we know it. -- And it's backed by corporate sponsorship.

Moral decency and the corporate pursuit of the almighty dollar seldom go hand in hand. I wouldn't expect this to be any different. There is a sizable investment that needs to be recouped.

What I find to be something straight out of science fiction is the potential societal benefit controlled by entities larger than our own government. Entities that simply rewrite the rules to fit their quarterly reports.

See Enron.

Only time will tell. But this stuff always gets the gears in the old noggin turning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Are Things Changing?

Election Day came and went.

Strange how the more things change, the more things stay the same.

I am talking specifically about the passing of Prop 8.

Prop 8 takes away marriage rights of gay couples. That is ALL this bill was about. Fear and discrimination.

Prop 8, essentially overturns the a right that was given to gay couples a few months ago. Gays had the right to have their marriages recognized by the state of California for mere months...

Let that sink in. The California Supreme Court already ruled that gay couples not being able to enter into marriage was UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

And yet Prop 8 passed...

What appalls me, isn't that the bill passed. There are multiple appeals and suits filed with the California State Supreme Court arguing that Prop 8 is unconstitutional -- which it is.

What appalls is that a majority of Californians are bigots.

Definitely an eye opener for me. I didn't think Prop 8 even had a chance. I wasn't alive during the Civil Rights movement of the 60's. I always wondered how a large mass of people could not only let racism run rampant, but actually endorse it.

I had this belief that Californians were progressive. That the country followed suit with the example Californians set. I truly hope that isn't the case here.

I have never been more ashamed to be a Californian.

...and I say this as a conservative and as a Republican.

It doesn't matter if you are liberal or conservative -- taking away the rights of another human being isn't only unconstitutional, but it is unconscionable.