Jurassic Chocolate Factory

There’s no earthly way of knowing
which direction we are going –
there’s no knowing where we’re rowing
or which way the river’s flowing –
not a speck of light is showing
so the danger must be growing
for the rowers keep on rowing
and they’re certainly not showing
any signs that they are slowing ….

I just finished watching Camp Cretaceous, an excellent animated spinoff series “for kids,” from Netflix, of the Jurassic Park/World franchise. (And yeah, I know, the Jurassic and Cretaceous are completely different eras, but whatever.) This trailer –

– makes the show seem more kiddified and comedic than it is. In fact, apart from some slight kiddification (mostly in the early episodes), it’s just as serious and intense, on the whole, as the live-action movies; despite the “for kids” branding, any kid who finds the movies too scary will likely find this too scary as well – and I suspect that no one (of whatever age) who enjoys the movies will find this series too tame, or not dark enough. I mean, it’s willing to go pretty dark. I would show a clip to make my point, but spoilers.

MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW:

The basic premise of the series is essentially a mash-up of Jurassic Park/World with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (I say Willy Wonka rather than Charlie because there’s a subplot about kids being bribed to perform industrial espionage that resembles a similar subplot in the first Wonka movie [Willy Wonka] that’s absent from the original book [Charlie].)

The similarities to the Wonka storyline are straightforward: six kids from different backgrounds win a worldwide contest for a behind-the-scenes trip to Jurassic World. But when they get there, they immediately start doing dumb things that would put them at risk even if the park itself were operating normally. (Plus there’s a scary boat ride through a tunnel that’s reminiscent of the Wonka one – and which seems likely to get incorporated into a real-life theme park ride at some point.)

But of course the park isn’t operating normally, as this series takes place simultaneously with the sanguinary events of the fourth theatrical movie, Jurassic World; and there’s no all-powerful Willy Wonka to help them out. Instead there are a couple of well-meaning camp counselors; but once the events of Jurassic World begin to unfold offscreen, the Cretaceous kids get separated from the counselors pretty quickly, and end up trying to make their way across the dinosaur-infested island alone. (They do adopt a cute baby dinosaur along the way – one of the few bits of kiddification to make it into the later episodes.)

While the Cretaceous kids don’t systematically map on to their Wonka counterparts (they hardly could, since there are six Cretaceous kids [at least to begin with] and only five Wonka kids), the earnest main protagonist Darius, the wealthy and arrogant Kenji, and the social media celebrity Brooklynn are somewhat reminiscent of Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt, and Mike Teavee respectively. None of the Cretaceous kids, however, is as one-dimensional or as unsympathetic as the spoiled brats in the Wonka tale; despite their various imperfections, each one has a solid core of decency that makes their perils especially riveting and suspenseful for the viewer. (One might think “how suspenseful can it be? it’s not like they’re going to kill the kids off.” Well, while watching it I felt pretty confident that they weren’t going to kill all the kids off, but I felt increasingly less confident that they weren’t going to kill any of them. How things turn out I’ll decline to say. However, the series has been picked up for a second season – from which you may be inclined to infer that the first season doesn’t end with either everyone dead or everyone rescued. I’m not telling, though. After all, the second season might involve all new characters. Don’t watch the teaser for season 2 until you’ve finished season 1.)

The idiocy of the “these ones are herbivores, so not dangerous” line from the original movie (written by someone evidently unfamiliar with bulls, moose, rhinos, etc.) also gets lampshaded here, so that was nice.

Anyway, I recommend.


Who Is Sheldon Richman, and Why Does He Hate the Constitution and American Greatness?

In Part 1 of this 2-part interview, I chat with Sheldon Richman about his youthful enthusiasm for the Swamp Fox and his guerilla fighters; the Constitution as a betrayal of the American Revolution and the Articles of Confederation; defying YAF with Karl Hess at the March to the Arch; the positive externalities achievable by sitting next to Dave Barry; using Koch money to fight big business; Robert Bidinotto’s dark anarchist past; the perils of publishing Kevin Carson; going crazy for Thomas Szasz; the identity of Filthy Pierre; how to smoke like Gandalf; an atheist’s favourite Bishop; and which prominent Austrian economist experimented on Sheldon’s newborn infant.


The Fountain Dries Up

[cross-posted at POT]

So here’s a mystery. It seems that Amazon no longer carries The Fountainhead (except secondhand copies). This link, which worked last month, no longer works:

They still carry Atlas Shrugged; and Barnes & Noble still carries The Fountainhead.

Hmm. Well, I’ll ask my contact at ARI (yes, I have one!) if they know what’s up.


Decaffeinated Philosophy: The Existence of God; or, Apophat Boy Slim

[cross-posted at POT]

It’s long been the custom of the Auburn U. Philosophy Club to hold a public meeting at a local coffee house – generally either Mama Mocha’s or the Coffee Cat – where a panel composed of both students and faculty from the department give brief presentations on some philosophical topic of general interest, followed by Q&A.

In light of the Current Unpleasantness, this semester’s panel will be online via Zoom rather than in-person, which will sadly mean no access to the venue’s excellent coffee. But we must soldier on with a decaffeinated, or at least less gloriously caffeinated, version of our usual caffeinated-philosophy event. And the positive side is that folks not physically present in Auburn will be able to attend.

The topic for this semester’s panel is “The Existence of God.” I will be one of the speakers (and my contribution will of course decisively settle the theism vs. atheism debate once and for all! – although in my experience neither side tends to be very fond of my solution). It will be held on Wednesday, October 7th, at 7:00pm Central (8:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific). The meeting is free and open to the public; but please register in advance at https://auburn.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIvce6gqjguGdJC7olVpoP-TnWgaZtUCkKr. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Be there or B2!


From Pico to Nano

In my latest Agoric Café video, I chat with biologist James T. Bradley about the future of, and ethical issues surrounding, biotechnology and nanotechnology; global and civic responsibilities of scientists and of laypeople; intimations of immortality from William Godwin to Ray Kurzweil; the importance of interdisciplinary education, and of instruction in evolutionary biology; the 15th-century (trans)humanism of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and the perils of invoking the Pope; Bradley’s three-week plan for solving a pandemic; the potential parallels between central planning for sociopolitical systems and central planning for ecosystems; the cosmological theories of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; that time the National Science Foundation awarded Bradley and myself a $200,000 grant (but we had to spend it all on, like, course stuff); how the universe uses stardust to become self-conscious; and the waning allure of cricket ovaries:


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