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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cello Wars!

A must see video, in its entirety or "Star Wars" fans and cello players!
Here's a fun musical video with a Star Wars theme. Be sure to stick around for Darth Vader's solo.

Dam Short Film Festival Accepting Submissions and Sponsors!

There is still time to submit your short films to the Dam Short Film Festival in Boulder City. It is a fun festival worth taking part in. Those with companies who wish to market to the filmmakers (a much larger percentage show up and take part than in many other festivals) or local community may also join in very cost effective sponsorships.

The Festival is February 8 to 12 in Boulder City, one valley over, near the Hoover Dam, yet only a half hour from the Strip and downtown Las Vegas!

Annual Student Arts Show

Art Lynch announcing for Boulder City Santa Parade 31ers Float

Thoughts on Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a concept that is widely used and has high visibility in the accreditation and mission statements of businesses across the world. However, many people have difficulty clarifying the concept and knowing how to infuse it as a part of their professional and personal lives. It can be argued that critical thinking is not something that is merely added to our way of doing things, but should be the way we liveo our lives and learn. When critical thinking is as a necessity for everyday life,  learning substantive understanding will naturally result. 

The critical mind is the questioning mind. The extent to which we ask genuine questions and seek to answer them reflects the extent to which we take things seriously and think them through. The problem is that we rarely know how to systematically ask questions that probe content by searching out assumptions, concepts, purposes, information, inferences and solutions, points of view, or implications. We rarely seek out intellectual standards to evaluate the quality of their thought and the thoughts of others: questions that target clarity, depth, relevance, validity, significance, and accuracy. We should work to create a personal culture where we actively, reflectively, and fair-mindedly question concepts, content and each other. 
We need to cultivate important intellectual skills and abilities as well as virtuous dispositions like intellectual flexibility, empathy, humility, integrity, open-mindedness, and perseverance to name a few. There is a relationship between our ability to question and our ability to think critically. 

There is an intimate relationship between what it means to think critically and our success in life.

Guantánamo for US citizens? Senate bill raises questions

The National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate this week could allow the US military to detain American citizens indefinitely. Civil libertarians are alarmed, and President Obama says he might veto it.

Senator and Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and ranking Republican committee member Sen. John McCain. They support a National Defense Authorization bill which critics say could lead to indefinite military detention of US citizens.

Legislation passed by the Senate this week and headed for the House – and a possible presidential veto – could allow the US military to detain American citizens indefinitely.

The National Defense Authorization Act covering $662 billion in defense spending for the next fiscal year includes a provision requiring military custody of a terror suspect believed to be a member of Al Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in attacks on the United States
To read the full story in the Christian Science Monitor, click here.

Will the Dinasaurs return? Cable Companies move into home security, home shopping has a whole new meaning

From the LA Times Company Town Blog, click here for the latest entertainment industry news. 

Will these dinosaurs defy the odds? "Terra Nova," the expensive drama about a family that goes back to prehistoric times to try to save the future of Earth, is ending its first season on Fox this month. While it is averaging almost 10 million viewers and does well with men, a second season is no slam dunk for Fox Television, the studio that makes the dinosaur epic for its sister broadcast network. "Terra Nova" is very expensive and, because it has so many special effects, it takes a long time to produce. That's why there are only 13 episodes this season and why the studio needs to know pretty soon if it is going to get a renewal. Over the next few weeks, studio brass will start making their case to the network for a year two. Stay tuned.

ESPN backlash. The rising cost of carrying ESPN took center stage at an investor conference Monday when Liberty Media Chief Executive Greg Maffei called the sports cable channel a "tax on every American household." Maffei also complained about the rising costs of regional sports networks, according to the Wall Street Journal. I guess that means when the Liberty Media-owned Atlanta Braves negotiate a new TV deal, they'll lower the rights fee and help out the little guy. Of course, this is not a new story. Here's a September piece from the Los Angeles Times about the rising cost of sports programming in which former Cleveland Browns owner said the price tag to carry football games is getting "almost obscene."

We are the world. "Cloud Atlas," a time-travel drama starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, may also provide a road map to how films will be financed in the future. The New York Times tracks the financing of the movie, which includes money from investors in China, Korea and Singapore as well as subsidies from Germany. Producer Grant Hill called the financing an “exotic mixture" of deals.

Would you trust the cable company to guard your family jewels and good silver. Time Warner Cable and Comcast sure hope so. The two cable giants are making an aggressive push to get into the home security business.

The move comes at a time when cable companies are having a harder time holding onto subscribers. A tough economy and the emergence of new competitors means cable operators have to find new ways to keep subscribers plugged in.

Time Warner Cable is offering home security"The industry is increasingly looking to squeeze more juice out of their relationship with the customer," said Rich Greenfield, a media analyst with financial services firm BTIG.

The domestic electronic security industry generates $33.25 billion annually, according to the Gold Book, a publication produced by Security Sales & Integration magazine. About 1 in 5 homes nationwide has some sort of monitored security system, said Don Boerema, chief marketing officer of ADT, the industry leader in home security with 6 million customers, or 26% of the market.

Cable companies already have a pipeline to a customer base. New wireless technology has made entry into the home-security business fairly inexpensive for them.

"All of our research said it was a good business to go after," said Keith Burkley, Time Warner Cable's senior vice president responsible for the company's Intelligent Home security system. "The market is 20% penetrated, and we really believe it is going to grow to over 30%."

For more on how the cable companies want to become watchdogs, see the story in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times.

Hollywood's dark side. In the wake of story in the Los Angeles Times regarding the arrest of a manager suspected of assaulting a child client, the Wrap weighs in with a piece entitled "Does Hollywood Face a Child-Molestation Crisis in Casting?" For those who didn't notice, the reporting on the crisis began here, with the Times' Dawn Chmielewski and Harriet Ryan.

Wait, the media overexaggerates? Turns out your kids may not be sexting with their friends 24/7. The Daily Beast on a trend story that didn't have a trend.

Harry Potter is making his Los Angeles debut on Tuesday.

Executives from Universal Studios and Warner Bros. will unveil and for the first time publicly discuss their plans to build the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood at a late-morning news conference.

Universal announced the event, stating in an email that it would be "hosting a Butterbeer toast to celebrate a very special announcement." People close to the matter but not authorized to discuss the event beforehand confirmed it would be the unveiling of plans to duplicate the massively successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction from Universal Studios Orlando at the L.A. theme park.
Top executives from Warner Bros., which made the "Potter" films and controls licensing rights to author J.K. Rowling's books about the boy wizard, will be in attendance along with those from Universal. They will include the leaders of both companies: Warner Chairman Barry Meyer and Universal President Ron Meyer (no relation).

In addition, demonstrating the significance of what will likely be a huge investment in building the Potter-themed rides and shops, along with the longer-term boost to tourism, California Gov. Jerry Brown will be in attendance.

The Orlando Wizarding World of Harry Potter has brought in more than 7 million people in its first year and was the main driver in a 36% increase at Universal's park there in the first three months of 2011.

The attraction isn't expected to open at Universal's Los Angeles location — right next to its film and television studio in Universal City — until 2015 at the earliest.

Click and buy, right off your television screen.

For years, media executives and marketers have longed for the day when a viewer could be watching an episode of "The Good Wife," say, click a dress worn by star Julianna Margulies and instantly be able to purchase it right from the television screen.

On Monday, that scenario inched a little closer to reality. The cable network History, programming distributor Verizon FiOS and technology company Delivery Agent, which manages online stores for many television networks, unveiled a T-commerce (television commerce) initiative that would enable subscribers to buy items shown the cable network's programs.

Taking part in the T-commerce effort are History shows like "Pawn Stars" and "Ice Road Truckers." During a show, an icon will appear on the screen that the viewer can click on to purchase items.
"The reason the History Shop initiative will work is because it allows viewers to see and buy things at the moment they're most interested, while still being able to watch their show," said Mark Garner, a senior vice president at History parent A&E Television Networks.

For now, service is only available for Verizon FiOS customers, but the plan is to roll it out to other distributors and extend the service to other A&E networks including Lifetime — which seems a natural, given its hit fashion show "Project Runway."

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Is there anything Hugh Jackman can't do?

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter now and I'll waive my pay wall fee.
Photo: A scene from "Terra Nova." Credit: Fox.

This time, the party is getting the big questions disastrously wrong.

I don't agree (not surprisingly) with his policy goals but this is the most articulate article I've read on the current state of the GOP.
Some of my Republican friends ask if I’ve gone crazy. I say: Look in the mirror.

Abortions based on sex or ethncity?

Michael Green shared a link.

thinkprogress.orgFor House Republicans, this year has been the year of outlandish answers to non-existent problems. And tomorrow, they will offer the magnum opus of their 2011 campaign against a woman’s right to choose: the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA). The bill see...

Palin Violated Alaska Campaign Law

Michael Green and Laura Kenny shared a link.
www.huffingtonpost.comNearly a year after she quit her governorship of Alaska, Sarah Palin was found guilty today of another breach of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act involving her so-called Alaska Fund Trust.