Archive for April 2020
Over the course of 400 years, from 1500 to 1900, the interaction between Europeans and Native Americans changed enormously. Initially, the new arrivals stepped off of their boats into a maelstrom of local events. By the end, events would be entirely dominated by European settlement, with native cultures fighting for their survival on the margins. In this review, Rutger and Gil look at three snapshots along the way of this process. We begin with Apocalypto (2006), where the Europeans almost don't matter at all. Then, in Pocahontas (1995), the native people and the settlers are roughly even-keeled and the latter are even temporarily rebuffed. By the end, in Dances with Wolves (1990), autonomous native life only exists in the remote prairies, which are set to change forever as well.
The HBO series, The Plot Against America, whose last episode aired on Monday, April 20th, depicts the political rise of a Trump-like figure in the US during the early stages of WWII. In this episode, Gil and Rutger discuss why this series hit us so hard. Family stories, our worries about the present, and the fragility of democratic systems come together in this review.
Hollywood's disaster movie industry has created the sub-genre of biological apocalypse movies, which are now more relevant than ever. In this episode, Gil Kidron and Dr Rutger Vos talk about movies that depict scenarios that were once farfetched but are now mostly just exaggerated. In 12 Monkeys (1997) a deadly virus wipes out 5 billion people, 28 Days Later (2002) follows a "rage virus" that we gave to animals and then they infected us with is which led to a total breakdown of society, and Contagion (2011) famously depicts how the Chinese animal industry got us all into lockdown and social distancing.
Both nature and computing are at certain levels digital. Code organized in discrete symbols (DNA bases, bits) can be understood, decoded, and manipulated. But do we understand these systems well enough to meddle with them? In this episode, Dr Rutger Vos explores this question in a review of three movies: The Imitation Game (2014), Jurassic Park (1993), and Independence Day (1996). And, how will our ability to manipulate these codes affect our fight against the coronavirus?