In the Woody Allen futuristic comedy Sleeper it was discovered that everything which we think is bad for us is actually good for us. We will probably never find out that hot fudge is actually good for us, but there has been growing evidence that at least we can continue to drink coffee without guilt. Several studies have already demonstrated benefits from coffee but new studies continue to get attention from the media.
A new Dutch study showed that drinking coffee and tea can reduce the risk of heart disease:
Those who drank more than six cups of tea a day cut their risk of heart disease by a third, the study of 40,000 people found.
Consuming between two to four coffees a day was also linked to a reduced risk.
While the protective effect ceased with more than four cups of coffee a day, even those who drank this much were no more likely to die of any cause, including stroke and cancer, than those who abstained.
Coffee and tea contain a variety of components and most likely some are beneficial and some might not be. It is encouraging to see that the overall effect is beneficial, although this would not apply to everyone. This study has no impact on those who have problems with arrhythmias which are exacerbated by caffeine.
There’s good reason why, with the exception of Al Franken, we have comedians work in comedy and not government. Two comedians have suggested very bad ideas recently. Woody Allen has suggested giving Barack Obama dictatorial powers (assuming Fox got the quote right):
Woody Allen has a strange take on the democracy that allowed him to become rich and famous.
The “Scoop” director said it would be a cool idea for President Barack Obama to be dictator for for a few years.
So he could get things done without all the hassle of opposing views getting in the way.
In an interview published by Spanish language newspaper La Vanguardia (that we translated), Allen says “I am pleased with Obama. I think he’s brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him.”
But wait – there’s more!
The director said “it would be good…if he could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly.”
As much as I wouldn’t want Barack Obama to have dictatorial powers, I’d want Steve Jobs running things even less. Bill Maher suggested this during the New Rules segment of his show last week (video above):
America needs to focus on getting Jobs — Steve Jobs. Because something tells me that Apple would have come up with a better idea for stopping an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico than putting a giant box on top of it.
In 2001, Apple reinvented the record player. In 2007, the phone. This year, the computer. I say, for 2011, we let them take a crack at America. Our infrastructure, our business model, our institutions. Get rid of the stuff that’s not working, replace it with something that does. For example, goodbye US Senate — Hello Genius Bar! So good luck, Steve — you’ll need it!
No thanks. Ironically Apple, which became big after running the classic ad attacking IBM as Big Brother, has become far more like Big Brother than IBM ever was. I’ve never liked the closed nature of Apple products, and in recent weeks Steve Jobs has received frequent criticism for the restrictions placed on the iPhone and iPad. Jobs defended his policies by offering “freedom from porn.” While I’m more concerned about the non-porn programs which Jobs does not allow on his products, I also do not want someone in charge who thinks their role is to give us freedom from porn.
I realize that many people love Apple products and do not share my dislike of their closed systems. In the marketplace this is fine. We can all purchase the type of products we want. I would not want this attitude in government and therefore will reject Bill Maher’s suggestion.
Lost has benefited greatly from centering the final seasons around telling a story with a definite end point. They have also avoided using the exact same format week after week. This week’s episode got away from telling about one of the Oceanic Six in the flash forwards and instead dealt with Desmond, who is unstuck in time. There was even a brief homage to Billy Pilgrim from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, who was also unstuck in time.
We find that Desmond’s situation isn’t unique. Every episode lately tries to end with a surprise which is consistent with the events of the episode. This week’s ending suggests that Daniel Faraday’s problem is similar to Desmond’s as we see an entry in his notebook saying, “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant.”
The episode also verifies the earlier hints that something strange is going on with time. The helicopter with Desmond and Sayid left the island at dusk and landed mid day, with those on the island finding a delay which did not surprise Faraday.
Jericho is becoming increasingly political, with some aspects of the United States resembling Iraq, and other aspects containing allusions to the Bush administration. We’ve already seen that the Cheyenne government is pushing a new flag, a new Constitution, and even a new right wing history. This week’s episode has many comparisons to Halliburton and Blackwater with Jennings & Rall being involved in everything, including government functions. Meanwhile Ravenwood is being used as a private army. Does it mean anything that the new government and Dick Cheney both come from Wyoming?
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles remains mixed in quality but is doing an interesting job of applying aspects from the original movie series to current plot lines. A new twist is being added as it is unclear if the cyborg Cameron (Summer Glau, above) can be trusted. The final two episodes of the season are being aired as a two-hour episode on Monday.
Torchwood as aired on BBC America remains behind the BBC showings, but delaying SciFi Friday at least allows me to comment on the more recent episodes while avoiding spoilers for episodes which have not aired yet. Last week’s episode, Adam, involved an alien who lives off of false memories planted in others. He gives the members of the Torchwood team false memories of him having been one of them for years, but in the process disrupts their memories and changes them. Gwen loses all memory of her fiancè Rhys and thinks he is a stalker when she finds him in her apartment. Owen undergoes the biggest change, becoming a real geek. The most dramatic actions come when Adam gives Ianto false memories of being a serial killer after Ianto notes that there is no mention of Adam in his diary.
The episode might be most notable for providing information on Jack’s childhood, but those memories, as well as all other memories involving Adam, must be removed in order for Adam to be eliminated. At the end nobody has memories of Adam but there are clues that he had been there. I did find it a little unrealistic that they would not want to investigate the last couple of days which were missing from their memories.
This week’s episode, Reset, works in three different groups which are involved in studying aliens. Besides Torchwood, there’s UNIT which lends a medical specialist, and there’s a medical center which uses aliens in an unsafe manner to attempt to cure human diseases. The UNIT medical specialist happens to be Martha Jones, who finished medical school very quickly after returning from her adventures with The Doctor. The episode ends with Owen being shot, which will lead into the events of the subsequent two episodes which have already aired in the U.K.
Looking at television beyond science fiction, Saturday Night Live has managed to be in the news several times after returning last week. Last week’s episode began with a skit based upon the Texas debate, which Hillary Clinton mentioned during the Ohio debate (video above). There was some controversy over having a non-black cast member play Obama’s role. The episode also included a defense of Clinton by Tina Fey who argued that it is bitches who get things done. Mike Huckabee also had an appearance.
This week they began with another debate in which Clinton argues that she can get the most done by being so obnoxious that people will just give up on opposing her. This is followed by an appearance by the real Hillary Clinton (video here). Rudy Giuliani also had an appearance in which he compared his campaign to a Saturday Night Live skit which starts out strong but goes nowhere. The musical guest was Wilco, a big supporter of Obama.
There’s good news for fans of Scrubs. While NBC has never shown the show much respect, ABC is now negotiating to pick up eighteen episodes to allow the series to be completed as planned.
A high definition trailer for the Sex and the City movie is available on line here. We find that Carrie and Big do get engaged, but things might not go well at the alter. Charlotte is pregnant, as was seen in earlier pictures, and Steve admits to Miranda that he cheated on her once.
The Other Boleyn Girl opened to mixed reviews. Any movie with both Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson can’t be all bad. There’s one minor coincidence I noted in the cast when comparing this with Showtimes’s version of the story, The Tudors. Scarlett Johansson appeared in the Woody Allen movie Match Point with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who plays Henry in The Tudors.
Season two of The Tudors begins on March 30. During season one, Mary, followed by Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer), worked to seduce Henry. Anne always found ways to ensure that Henry would not be satisfied until they married, as can be seen at the end of season one. Video is available here (definitely not safe for work).
One of the things I watched during the strike was the DVD set of Arrested Development. It is certainly understandable that there were a lot of protests when the show was canceled. Plans have now been announced to make a movie version of the show.
Remember that old Woody Allen movie Sleeper in which everything which we thought was good for us turned out to be bad, and everything which we believe is bad, like cigarettes, turns out to be good? I couldn’t help but think of that movie when I heard the news about the outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 infections from pre-packaged spinach. Information from a fax received from the CDC’s Health Alert Network reports fifty confirmed cases as of last night, with CNN just reporting the first case in New York. Normally I avoid politics in the office and medical advice on the blog, but the bottom line here is to avoid eating bagged fresh spinach. In one of the discussions KJ has vetoed my idea of offering spinach to the Notre Dame football team to “strengthen them up” in preparation for the game against Michigan tomorrow.
The BBC announces that Elisabeth Sladen will reprise her role as Sarah Jane Smith, a former companion to Doctor Who:
Set in present-day West London, the programme stars Elisabeth Sladen, continuing her much-loved role as Sarah Jane Smith.
Yasmin Paige will join her as Sarah’s 13-year-old neighbour Maria.
A 60-minute special which will be broadcast in early 2007, with a series following later in the year.
In the special, Sarah and Maria form an unlikely alliance to fight evil alien forces at work in Britain, and against the scheming Ms Wormwood, played by Samantha Bond.
Besides her role on Doctor Who, there was a previous attempt at a show with Sarah Jane in 1981 named K9 and Company. K9 is the robotic dog who was also a previous companion to The Doctor. Doctor Who resumes with the second season soon in the United States, and talk is already in progress about the fourth season in Great Britain. We declared independence so that we’d have to wait an extra year or more to watch Doctor Who?
Battlestar Gallactica 2.5, with episodes 11-20 from season 2 is scheduled for release September 19. There’s just enough time to watch them before the third season starts.
A list of stations is now available which will be carrying the new remastered episodes of Star Trekpreviously reported.
As promised in the title, here’s today’s practical information:
“SIGNS YOUR UNICORN IS CHEATING ON YOU” by Christopher Monks
Seems emotionally distant and uninterested
Wears fancier tail ribbons
Starts working out at the gym
Quickly closes its laptop when you walk into its enchanted den
Credit card bill full of charges to area elf lodges
The “three C’s”: confrontation, criticism, and complaints
Every time you say the word “magic” it sighs forlornly
Is making a movie with Angelina Jolie