Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Super Mario 64 Speedrun

Apparently our world has such specialization that there is now an online community dedicated solely to completing a console videogame from 1996 in the fastest possible time using a copious amount of glitching and tool-assisted speedrun (TAS) software. For anyone familiar with Super Mario 64, this video is mind-blowing, like watching Neo from The Matrix realize he can bend or break the rules of physics.  Here is the current fastest run of the game, just over 5 minutes and without the collection of a single star.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Torture is not an American value

Let me just start by saying that I believe former Vice President Dick Cheney is an evil old man. There is no point in attacking him. I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables so I can be sure to outlive him. He is definitely getting coal in his stocking this year.

What is worth attacking is the ideology he and other neo-conservatives represent, one that continues directly from the PATRIOT Act to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and NSA surveillance programs today. What is worth attacking is the executive branch’s claim to limitless power and zero oversight by other branches of government or international bodies of law. What is worth attacking is the notion that any pretext is grounds for the most aberrant behavior codified into US law, refusing to call intentional infliction of pain resulting in permanent damage or even death what it is: “torture.”

What is worth attacking is the notion that for the USA to remain a safe and free country, the government must “work the dark side” (Cheney’s words on NBC - September 16, 2001) to employ tactics that no future school child should have to learn about as being committed in their name. What is worth attacking are gruesome CIA practices on detainees including involuntary “rectal feeding” (anal rape), mock executions, Russian roulette. threatening to slit the throat of a detainee’s mother, sexually abuse, and threatening prisoners’ children. One prisoner died of hypothermia brought on in part by being forced to sit on a bare concrete floor without pants. About 25 percent of the detainees were found to be wrongfully detained whatsoever. The CIA’s EITs (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) is just fancy bureaucracy speak for the word “torture.”

So this is a debate worth having. It is being had. And Dick Cheney’s recent press appearances represent the cornerstone of denial that the USA has done anything wrong, even confronted by cases in which detainees died as a result of torture. This is a moral stain on the United States and all Americans of any political persuasion should be willing to recognize this, regardless of who our perceived enemies are or what tactics they employ.

The United States is better than this. Whatever the charges against them, it should treat detainees humanely and prosecute those who engage in torture. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask George Washington, who wrote to the Northern Expeditionary Force on Sept. 14, 1775:
“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country... Treat [prisoners of war] with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands.”

George Washington believed that British prisoners of the Revolutionary War should be treated no worse than American soldiers and better in some respects. In doing so, Washington sought to shame his British adversaries and to demonstrate the moral superiority of the American cause. We should never forget this. We live in extraordinary times, but so did Washington. Fear and vengeance should never be the basis for our moral compass.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Documentary Film Ethics

"Seeing is believing" they say. But frequently, audiences are misled, deceived, even outright lied to about what they believe to be "true" on television and on the big screen. What obligation does a documentary filmmaker have to be truthful amidst pressure to be entertaining, sell tickets, and get high ratings?

Filmmaker and visiting assistant professor Danny Ledonne will highlight examples of misleading moments in documentary film history and discuss how a filmmaker might balance subjectivity and bias with objectivity and honesty with audiences.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Episode 9/11: Torture is Awesome!

Darth Cheney has led the American Empire to the Dark Side - a necessary application of the Force to interrogate his enemies.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

George W Bush assured the American people...

"The CIA's harsh interrogations of terrorist detainees during the Bush era didn't work, were more brutal than previously revealed and delivered no "ticking time bomb" information that prevented an attack, according to an explosive Senate report released Tuesday. The majority report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee is a damning condemnation of the tactics -- branded by critics as torture -- the George W. Bush administration deployed in the fear-laden days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The techniques, according to the report, were "deeply flawed," poorly managed and often resulted in "fabricated" information."  [source]

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why Democrats Lost

... because they have candidates like Mark Pryor and ads like this:

Translation: "I'm not ashamed to say I have widely-held yet scientifically unfounded views and their implications on our planet. I read from a book that tells me only its invisible author has all the answers. Thus, I cannot make any statement endorsing the policies or governing philosophies of my leading political party, which might be no better than the other leading party. I orient my life based on a religious book written thousands of years ago and this book guides me in my role in secular government. I'm Mark Pryor and I approve this message because it seems to be the most banal and spineless way to appeal to religious voters without really saying anything at all."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Some Biblical Policy Recommendations!

I read with interest in a recent Valley Courier op-ed that concluded with: "The United States of America can still be a great country. I've seen a bumper sticker that you might consider: VOTE THE BIBLE."

I wasn't entirely clear what this actually meant, so I spent some time poking around the Bible and have come up with the following policy recommendations from the book of Leviticus, citing chapter and verse.

It shall hereby be a criminal offense to: burn any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11), fail to include salt in offerings to God (2:13), bring unauthorized fire before God (10:1), let your hair go unkempt (10:6), tear your clothes (10:6), eat a rabbit or pig (11:4-7), attend church within 33 days of giving birth to a boy or 66 days of giving birth to a girl (12:4-5), have sex with a woman during her period (18:19), reap the edges of a field (19:9), mix fabrics in clothing (19:19), eat fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23), get a tattoo (19:28), work on the Sabbath (23:3), or blasphemy (24:14).

Now, I realize that many of these crimes, as directed by the creator of the universe, are to be punishable by death (public stoning is the method recommended in the Bible) but that seems rather harsh for a first offense.  Maybe I'm just soft on crime.

Anyway, I'm not quite certain how to handle the many directives on trading slaves or properly beating them to serve their Christian masters, but the Bible clearly has recommendations for keeping slaves and never condemns the practice... so this may necessitate another Civil War to truly establish.  It will only be in keeping with these and the many other recommendations found throughout the Bible that America may still be a great country.

...What's that?  Many of the authors of the U.S. Constitution were deists who explicitly rejected religious influence in government or the establishment of a theocracy?  ... The Constitution doesn't even contain the words "God," "Bible," or "Christianity?"  Well, now I'm just confused.  Maybe I should turn to the book of Deuteronomy for answers.  I'll get back to you on that.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Stirring the Pot

In cooking, it is an essential method of evenly heating and combining ingredients. In society, it is a forbidden, offensive act that leads people to consider other points of view and question their own values.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The War is Coming Home

A police officer, surrounded by several others, restrains a struggling, unarmed man in a choke hold as he gasps “I can't breathe” 11 times.  Moments later, he is dead on the streets of Staten Island.  A 2 year old child in Atlanta is asleep in his crib at 3 a.m. when a SWAT team's flash grenade blows a hole in his face and chest during a no-knock raid, leaving the child in critical condition and requiring extended hospitalization.  In Ferguson, a heavily-armed police officer sweeps his assault rifle across a crowd of demonstrators, announcing “I will fucking kill you.”  When asked to identify himself, the officer declines and instead says “go fuck yourself.”  Earlier, journalists are confronted by militarized police units in a nearby McDonald's and ordered to disperse as they attempt to cover the protest.  Elsewhere, a news crew has a police teargas canister thrown directly at their production van.

A typical afternoon in "the land of the free?"  The police and the military are merging into a single force of aggression.

The war is coming home. After decades of zealous U.S. government (deficit) spending (much to the delight of private weapons manufacturers), Americans are seeing more military weapons and tactics from Iraq and Afghanistan on their own streets.  All that surplus military equipment produced for that “War on Terror?”  National Safety Council stats reveal that Americans are now 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist (source).  Americans are not interested in being lectured on why maximum force by their own government is necessary to obtain their “compliance.”  They recognize the difference between paying for an organization to “serve and protect” neighborhoods and a trigger-happy, weaponized force more interested in serving and protecting itself.  Which is why Ferguson residents alleging police abuse are now lining up to file a $40 million lawsuit against the Ferguson and St. Louis PD.

More Americans are finally realizing what the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly asserted: police have “no obligation to protect” citizens.  Increasingly, that seems to be of mere incidental consideration.  The American Civil Liberties Union found of 800 SWAT team deployments between 2011 and 2012, only 7% of SWAT team raids were genuine emergencies (the purpose for which a militarized police force was intended) (source).  Nearly 80% were used for ordinary law enforcement purposes like serving search warrants on people’s homes.  Police apologists will give lengthy rationalizations as to why any possible scenario contains an element of potential danger and therefore justifies aggressive tactics and maximum armament as a matter of standard operating procedure.  Prepare to be unconvinced; it's hard to assure people they are under military-style occupation for their own good.

In the line of duty, U.S. police discharge their firearms more often in a single day than German police do in an entire year; Der Spiegel reports that in 2011, the entire German police force fired 85 shots, most of which were not aimed at anyone (source).  More dramatically, a recent article in The Economist reported, “Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero. In 2012 the figure was just one” (source).  Meanwhile, U.S. police shots fired is not even a number that is tracked; single U.S. police incidents include more weapon discharges than other countries' police fire in a year.

And when they are not being shot at, the American people are also the most imprisoned in the world.  The ACLU found that with only 5% of the world's population, the U.S. has 25% of the world's prison population, which has grown 700% since 1970 (source).  This is a historical record for the U.S. and the world.

Check out the recruiting commercial, “Newport Beach Police Dept - Are You Qualified?”  In 85 seconds (starring only white males), you will see a variety of assault-style weaponry, aggressive close quarter combat, pursuit and confrontation.  Not a single frame of “community policing,” – walking the beat of a familiar neighborhood, establishing trust with residents.  If these 85 seconds are any indication of the “qualifications” necessary for NBPD, the job appears to be one of constant urban warfare.

Most Americans strongly condemn rioting, looting, and other violence.  Yet community outrage such as in Ferguson doesn't occur in a vacuum and it isn't created overnight.  While there is the incendiary incident such as the fatal police shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown, behind the headlines are many residents of color who tell stories of their own sustained, antagonistic relationship with Ferguson police officers—who are almost all white, increasingly living elsewhere, and apparently bringing with them a war-zone mentality to the job.  In training and in practice, police officers are becoming soldiers deployed for combat.

In terms of spending alone, no nation prioritizes warfare like the United States – not even close (source).  And now the war is coming home.  So it is of no surprise that when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  But in Ferguson and elsewhere, the American people are becoming less tolerant of paying their government to be hammered and nailed.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Satanic Temple's Legal Jiu Jitsu

 Turns out that Satanists have religious liberties, too!  We knew after the Hobby Lobby decision that this wouldn't be far behind. This is why the recognition of religious liberties for corporations is a bad idea...  (source)

As I understand it, the Satanic Temple is doing some legal jiu jitsu here; they are identifying a current policy they dislike (states with mandatory informed consent laws that prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion without jumping through state-mandated hoops intended to dissuade them from the procedure) and using the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision to claim their religious liberties are violated by informed consent laws.

I believe informed consent laws are made in bad faith and violate the doctor-patient relationship. I do not believe this is the most effective way to repeal those laws, however I do see value - politically and rhetorically - to both highlight the wrongful SCOTUS decision in Hobby Lobby as well as challenge the legitimacy of informed consent laws. So kudos to another church that I won't join because they'd have me as a member.


Friday, August 1, 2014


The NSA breaks the law every day  /  it doesn't matter who you are or what you say  /  they monitor your phone calls and emails anyway  /  Corrupt Congress and courts paving the way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

San Luis Valley Hemp Project: Growing our Clothes

On June 6th, 2014, the first hemp crop was planted in the San Luis Valley, Colorado for the first time in over 70 years. Will industrial hemp become a successful new product in southern Colorado? Only time will tell...

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Slow Death of Fast Food?

A recent article chronicling the relationship between fast food franchises and the minimum wage brings up the specter of job losses due to rising labor costs.
CKE Restaurants' roots began in California roughly seven decades ago, but you won't see the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's expanding there much anymore.  What's causing what company CEO Andy Puzder describes as "very little growth" in the state?

In part it's because "the minimum wage is so high so it's harder to come up with profitable business models," Puzder said in an interview. The state's minimum wage is set to rise to $9 in July, making it among the nation's highest, and $10 by January 2016.   (source)

But is this really such a bad thing?  Morpheus has a suggestion:

In accordance with the triple bottom line of profits, people, and environment, it's easy to understand why a business model that flunks two of the three categories is no loss to mourn.  What other jobs could be created instead - ones that meet similar demands but do so in a healthy, ethical way?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pictures You're Accidentally In

mister background boy
watch out because you'll still be tagged
because everyone has a means to camera phone
and a motive to snap snap snap away

look like you're not looking
look away or look toward the camera
doesn't matter anymore anyway
because you're an Instagram intrigue
and you'll be uploaded either way

these are the pictures you're accidentally in
from selfies to photobombs
this Vine of Tumblr photo identification
in all those security camera photos
from the Frosted Flakes you bought
or your last TSA-tripping visit to the folks in Missouri

you say you're not good in photos
you don't want your picture taken
but there are more charged coupler devices
than moments in your block/untag/remove/flag world

you've got no reasonable expectation
of privacy in your privvy
you can hire a fancy lawyer
but he'll just tell you that you're silly

so you'd better get used to all
these pictures you're accidentally in
because they aren't going away
they've been uploaded to the cloud
and it's going to stay that way

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Death Penalty Around the World

Countries that still practice the lawful state execution of its citizens are generally not leaders in human rights: Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Syria, North Korea...  Should the USA be embarrassed by the ideological company it keeps on this issue?  More pointedly, why are the conservatives who generally distrust their government in other areas (social programs, healthcare, economic policy) and claim to be "pro-life" tend to be the strongest supporters of government carrying out the execution of American citizens?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hemp Clothing in Alamosa, Colorado

Green Matter LLC opens a clothing storefront in Alamosa, Colorado - a small start of what could be a major new industry in the San Luis Valley: hemp.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Multimedia Assignments: 
Not Just for Film Majors Anymore

My first publication in the Chronicle for Higher Education: I wrote this article to encourage professors of any discipline to consider integrating multimedia production assignments in their classroom - give it a try!

Monday, April 14, 2014

NSA's Heartbleed will go on

The U.S. National Security Agency knew about the Heartbleed security bug for at least two years but chose to exploit it in order to hack as many as two thirds of all websites rather than alert the American people that the security risk exists (source).  One wonders if the NSA is working for the American people or against them...

(click for full version)

Monday, April 7, 2014

High Altitude Face Off 6

High Altitude Face Off 6 - live cage fights in Alamosa, CO! Presented by Nemesis Promotions. Videography by Emberwilde Productions.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Super Danny 64

Being the adventures of a young man whose principle interests are Galapagos Islands, Super Mario 64, and capes made out of towels.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Amaya eat her lettuce

A good way for any parrotlet to start her day, complete with napkin tidying and kisses.  Music courtesy of KRZA.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Be an April Fool

My meta-analysis of April Fools' Day Facebook posts reveal the secluded and hidden desires we harbor.  April Fools functions as a "safe" way to made outlandish claims, unlikely realizations, and contrary observations.  I've had single friends claim to be getting married, Republicans claiming to love Obamacare, and vegetarians deciding to eat meat again.

Try it.  Give yourself permission to BE an April Fool, rather than the usual effort to fool others (what has become known as "trolling" on the Internet).  Try something foolish, walk on the wild side, do something different today.  Just make sure that you will be able to wake up tomorrow and go back to your old self - or don't!

For example, rather than being fooled into a "Rick Roll," at some point I realized that I really LIKE Rick Astley's hit single "Never Gonna Give You Up" and would never give him up. Try it!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I DON'T WANT IT THAT WAY. I came upon home video of my perilous encounter with a Transformer at the tender age of 4. When I can't get the robot to turn into a car, I have a total meltdown and am sent to bed crying. Not much has changed.

I was a huge fan of wearing rain boots all the time. Pants, however, were clearly optional.

"I don't want it that way" - "That's the way it goes" ... story of my life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Politics explained

I have created a simple diagram to help explain the sometimes complex and mystifying political process in the USA.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Too Nice - a true story

It was my junior year of high school and the colored lights were twirling overhead in the typical fashion.  It was a slow song - the kind that obligated every timid teenage boy to find a shy teenage girl and awkwardly maneuver onto the dance floor.  Luckily for me, I found a friend of mine to dance with and she and I were enjoying ourselves, making polite conversation to the music.  It was during this time that she invited me to another dance the following night at her church.

"You should really come" she said.

"It's at your church?" I asked.  This seemed mildly disquieting to me already, but I kept my feet shuffling to the rhythm.

"Yeah, what church do you go to?" she asked.  That, of course, was the question I grew up finding creative ways to answer in America's Bible Belt.

"Well, I don't go to church" I replied.  She seemed to take this thoughtfully but given that we were cheek-to-cheek, it is anyone's guess what her facial expression actually was.

"Don't you believe in God?" she asked.

"No, I'm an atheist."  That was probably one of the first times I responded so directly with that answer.  I had been using the word "atheist" since I learned it in fourth grade but it was only now that I could comfortably identify myself as such.  She stopped dancing and held me at arms length.

"You're not an atheist!" she exclaimed.  I laughed in mild disbelief.

"Oh, I'm not?"

"No" she continued.  "You're too... nice."

It was at that moment that I realized she not only knew what an "atheist" was but also that she had been told what kind of people atheists are.  They are not nice.  And that stigma was the first of many manifestations I would come to experience.  I would learn that the phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 to distinguish the USA from the "godless communists" during the Cold War - the very same phrase I grew so uncomfortable repeating during mandatory incantations that I simply kept quiet for two words out of every Pledge.

I would later learn that polling results of the American electorate frequently rank atheists as the "least trusted" group - lower than Muslims, homosexuals, convicted criminals, and about as little as rapists (source).  Parents frequently state during polling data that atheists are the people they would least like their own children to marry (source) - despite other data that shows atheist couples have the lowest divorce rates of any religious affiliation (source).

But on that evening, during that slow dance, I learned exactly what assumptions many theists hold about atheists: they are not nice.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Boycott Marriage Equality

Too salient not to share:

Because if God really objects to same sex marriage, I'm sure He will just send angels around the world to deliver your principled, faith-based messages anyway. So no sweat.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

We survived Ragnarök!

It has recently come to my attention that we barely survived Ragnarök, the Norse mythology's apocalypse.  So says the mythologist:

If Vikings were here today, the sounding of a distinctive horn in York would have created chaos. The ancient instrument, blown last night, signaled exactly 100 days until the end of the world, according to Norse mythology...  Norse mythology experts have calculated that Vikings believed this will take place on February 22, 2014... There will be huge earthquakes, the sea will rear up and the soil and the sky will be stained with poison.  The sound of the horn is supposed to call the sons of Odin to the battlefield, where Odin will ultimately be killed.  After his death, the Earth was foretold to sink into the sea, paving the way for a new utopian world with endless supplies. (source)
You know, just another failed religious prediction of the end of the world. Nothing new to see here... What's that? ...You just think the wrong religion did the prediction here? Oh... right.

'Then the Awful Fight' by George Wright (1908)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Support Filmmaking in Southern Colorado!

Check out the recent accomplishments of the Southern Colorado Film Commission with a cool highlight video I recently completed:

... and pledge to claim awesome incentives - including a movie poster signed by Harrison Ford or Johnny Depp!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Miss Zuckerberg USA

Who knew the CEO of Facebook had so much in common with Miss Teen South Carolina?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The War on Drugs has failed

A response to a recent op-ed in the local paper (source) - published here.

In all honesty, I also have had three instances with marijuana.  The first was with a few friends on New Years Eve in 2008.  I passed a joint around a New York City apartment building and, despite the best efforts and expertise of my friends, was unable to feel any effects whatsoever.  Aside from the burning sensation in my throat and lungs, of course.

The second time was living with a housemate in DC in 2009.  As a true cannabis connoisseur, he was determined to get me high.  This time we used a water bong and listened to a Radiohead playlist while doing so.  Though I gave it the old grad school try, I again did not manage to feel any altered state but did experience dry mouth and a case of the munchies.  I felt like otherwise good pot was being wasted on me, so I declined further experimentation.  I later learned that the cannabinoid receptors in my brain would likely take another five or more uses of cannabis in order to feel any euphoric effects of smoking marijuana.  I concluded I was already “high on life” and no such further experimentation was necessary.

The last time was in 2011 at a graduation party with a chocolate cake.  The scene was lively and many people, including the graduate's own parents, ate some of this delicious confection.  Only thereafter did we learn it was an “edible” marijuana cake.  High times, indeed!  Nothing of consequence happened to anyone involved – with the possible exception being hang-overs from the copious amounts of alcohol on offer.  Because, of course, alcohol has serious short and long term effects with far greater statistical magnitude than cannabis.  And the Prohibition Era has also given us a history lesson in the failure of government programs to eliminate private habits (and in many ways created a more dangerous environment for their distribution and consumption).

These experiences are the reason I came to conclude that a childhood of Reagan-era “War on Drugs” propaganda was a complete and total lie used to further the costly prison industrial complex – a now privatized network of for-profit incarceration factories that disproportionately target poor and minority communities.  The War on Drugs is really a war by government waged on its own people at their own expense.  The War on Drugs has failed because there are drugs in every city and every state in the Union.

Rather than locking up non-violent drug offenders at taxpayer expense, I am pleased to see an emerging national trend toward the legalization of a plant that has been used for over five thousand years for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes.  If we are serious about living in a free society of self-ownership, we should indeed support the right to choose what we put into our own bodies.  It is not the proper role of government to determine which plants we are and are not allowed to grow, smoke, or ingest.  Responsible citizens should respect this individual freedom and government intervention should only occur when the life, liberty, or property of others are infringed as a result.

Danny Ledonne
a non-user who supports your right to choose