Monthly Archives: April 2014

Star Wars Episode VII: Disney estimates a $200 Million Budget

Star Wars Episode VII: Disney estimates a $200 Million Budget

By Reid Joneson  April 23rd, 2014 
Star Wars: Episode VII

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Disney Chairman Alan Horn spoke about the progress on the development of the budget for the film.

We actually don’t even have the completed budget yet, but it will be in that range. These large, tentpole kinds of movies, on the expensive side, are in the neighborhood of $175-200 million, that kind of a number — some are more, some are less. We need to give the audience, essentially, a full meal in return for their affection and devotion and love for these properties.

$200 Million is a very big budget, one that is higher than the average budget for Disney’s current biggest source of blockbuster income: Marvel Studios. Disney obviously has high faith in the success of this film, and feels safe in using this kind of money on the franchise.

Granted, this is Star Wars which can guarantee even the biggest disaster to be a success, however Disney has made this kind of gamble before with John Carter and still come out on the short end of the stick.

Last week, it was confirmed that parts and scenes were already underway with filming and initial production.

Star Wars: Episode VII will hit theaters next year on December 18th, 2015.

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Freedom of Speech in America

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At the end of this discussion I have printed out the so-called “Bill of Rights” which are the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, passed all at once in 1789.  The American constitution is unique in that it is written to limit the government, not the people.  After passage of the initial articles, it was agreed more specificity needed to be added to things the government can’t do.  You see the Constitution says anything not expressly given to the federal government to do, is reserved for the states or the people.  Of course, this increasingly ignored and violated.  You can simply read them below and see what I mean.

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Today though, the First Amendment…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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So do we really have free speech?  If you have a right, it cannot be taken away.  Why say you have a right to free speech?  Because many people don’t want you to say things they disagree with.  In early America, you could be flogged and jailed for saying you disagreed with the King, thought taxes were too high, wanted more representation, or simply refused to toast the King’s health.  Freedoms and rights ONLY matter when what you say is offensive, divisive and unwanted by people in power.

Recent evidence shows the federal government targeted through the IRS groups whose speech it disagreed with.  Reporters who said things that were not popular with the President were investigated, wire-tapped and initially charged with crimes.  A person who did some stupid internet video trashing Islam was jailed and had disappeared without trial.  Now we know from recent emails that the administration knew Benghazi had nothing to do with the video.  Where is the guy?

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In France, Brigitte Bardot was jailed for saying there were too many Islamic immigrants in France.  Recently, a candidate for office in England was arrested for quoting Winston Churchill’s early views on Islam in a public setting.  Hate speech, political correctness, racist comments and offensive people are best allowed to spew their hate and receive the consequences.

We can have websites that mock Christianity with the Great Spaghetti monster, but we can’t mention Al Queda on the 911 Memorial even though they took credit for the attacks.  We can have Starbucks criticize the Second Amendment, but we can’t have Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A express their beliefs on homosexuality or abortion.  We can have sex education and explicit books in schools, but not prayer and a kid pulls out a Bible on recess and has it confiscated.

Don’t get me wrong…  When people say things you disagree with, I support YOUR freedom of speech to criticize them, boycott them, etc.  I am not defending racists, homophobes, hateful people, offensive people or any of those.  I am only saying that they should be allowed to spew their thoughts and others should be allowed to react so that they bear the responsibility for their actions.  However, neither the government, nor institutions should be in the business of punishing anyone who disagrees with them.

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Recently we have the experience of an 80 year old racist.  He owns the LA Clippers.  A known gold-digger received over $1.8 million in gifts to have sex with him.  She taped over 100 hours of their conversations.  After his wife sued her for return of the gifts, she reveals 15 minutes of him complaining that she, his kept mistress, is posting pictures of black men on Instagram and taking them to the games.  Notably, Magic Johnson and Terrell Owens.  He yells at her that she can like them, have sex with them, or whatever, but it is embarrassing to him for his friends to see her out with them.  Is he racist?  Hell yeah!  Now the freedom of speech does not protect him from the NBA taking action, only the government.

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The head of Mozilla was fired for making a political contribution for a man and woman only marriage initiative ten years ago in California.  That proposition passed 2-1 and was the official position of Barrack Obama during his campaign at the same time.  Now, the CEO gets fired for it.  Is he anti-GLBTQ?  There is no evidence of that in his work record.  But he had a different viewpoint, so he has to go.

Universities now stifle the ability of freedom of speech.  Can they do that?  Well, the Courts say since they get federal funding they can’t have religious rules or discriminate, but despite that, they say they are private when it comes to freedom of speech.  Only freedom to repeat what is politically correct at that moment.

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The problem with all this is that by suppressing speech and punishing those you disagree with, bad things happen.  1) you won’t know the racists and assholes because they will go underground; 2) political donations will go undercover to protect donors; 3) one day it will be you that has an unpopular idea; 4) do you want a world where you can be fired at any time in the future because of any opinion you expressed anywhere in your past?  The point of freedom of speech is to protect people who say stupid, outrageous and offensive things.  No one limits people from saying “groupthink.”

We should all hesitate before inflicting restrictions on others when we may very well be next.  It is the same with the other rights below.  Why tell the government we have the right to bear arms?  Because governments don’t want the populace armed.  Unarmed people can’t fight back against government exceeding its authority and violating their rights.  At that time, it meant having weapons for the express purpose of being capable to overthrow a corrupt government.  Our Declaration of Independence says we have a responsibility to overthrow government that ceases to represent the people.  It does not mean a national guard, or shotguns, or registration.  It means a right, a freedom.  Don’t like it?  Then repeal the amendment, don’t ignore it.

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What about the 10th Amendment?  Why do we have national healthcare, national education standards, national drug laws, etc.?  Those were never given to the federal government, they are for the states or the people.  Each day your rights are being eroded and just like the frog cooking in the pot, if you turn up the heat slowly, it will boil to death and never jump out.  The hard part is to defend the rights of your fellow citizens to do things you completely hate and disagree with, so that you can live your life with liberty as well.

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The Bill of Rights: A Transcription

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the “Bill of Rights.”


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.


Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

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Cute Dogs for Your Monday Blues

More pictures of cute dogs to help start your week off with a smile…

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Book Review – Mac & June – Love in the Time of Oil

This is a book review I completed for a magazine, but with their ongoing permission I also post some reviews here on my own blog site.  This book is so awesome that I recommend all of you go out and buy it.  You will not be disappointed. (following the review is the Amazon Link to buy it online).

Mac & June – Love in the Time of Oil

By James David Nicol

 Book Review by Michael Bradley

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Mac & June – Love in the Time of Oil is one of the best slice of life books I’ve read in my lifetime.  Written by James David Nicol, it details the love story between Mac, an America sent over to Scotland in 1974 during the North Sea Oil boom, and June, a local Aberdeen woman with a uniquely Scottish fisherman family.  Nicol is himself a native of Scotland, though he has since lived in such exotic places as Hong Kong, Australia, and now Phoenix, Arizona.

There is so much to love about this story it is hard to know where to start.  The overall story line is similar to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, in which an American deals with the culture clash and interesting characters of his love interest’s Greek family.  It is also reminiscent of Polish Wedding, starring Claire Danes and Gabriel Byrne and Lena Olin which gives similar insight into the Polish traditions.  In Mac and June, you will definitely learn about family and life in seventies’ Scotland.

The language, the humor, the pathos and the challenges are all laid out smoothly and as a reader you grow to love each and every character.  The Grandpa of June really steals the show though and his parts of the story alone are worth the price of the book and the time to read it.  As a first novel, James David Nicol shows a mastery of prose and fiction rarely seen even in much more experienced authors.

Nostalgia fans will also appreciate the 1970s references including language, music and other trends.  Mac and June is similar to American Graffiti in its use of time and locale to tell the story of ordinary people facing situations men and women have faced throughout time.

I give my highest recommendation to read this novel.  The two notes I must make is that the book is so good you might read through it all at once and be left wanting more.  My understanding is that Nicol is working on a sequel, so let’s hope that is not to far out to wait.  Second, the salty language and adult situations of real people living in Scotland in a blue collar town may be too much for a younger audience.  As a result, this is probably a book for those eighteen and above.  Neither the situations nor the language are inappropriate to the story, but a realistic part of it.

http://www.amazon.com/Mac-June-Love-The-Time-ebook/dp/B00GS8J50E

James David Nicol

James David Nicol

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Interview with Cosplayer Sara Moni

My Interview with awesome Sara Moni, coming up in an upcoming issue of The WOD Magazine.  If you need a cosplayer at your upcoming con, or a great model, you can’t beat having Sara Moni.  Please, no creeps, or I will find and will Liam Neeson your butt!  She is a professional and sweetheart.

Sara Moni Interview

MB: Today our interview is with Sara Moni, an outstanding young cosplayer. How long have you been into cosplay now, and what got you started?

SM:  I started really cosplaying in 2010, but I was making costumes and T-shirts before that. I’ve always liked superheroes and sci-fi and I love dressing up in costumes. It was inevitable.

MB: What are some of your favorite characters to cosplay?

SM:  I play so many that I love, but if I had to name two favorites, it would be Wasp and Sailor Pluto.

MB:  Do your cosplay choices match those you read and watch, or are there some differences?

SM:  Every character I cosplay I am a fan of, or the series that they came from. I never pick costumes just based on how they look.  Every time I dress up it’s as a fan.

MB:  I know you started as a Marvel girl. Are you all Marvel, or you like them all now?

SM:  I love Batman like everybody else LOL, but I just find that Marvel has more intriguing characters that I like and identify with. I’m starting to read more DC now though. I also like some Image and Dark Horse comics.

MB:  How many cons and events/photo shoots are you doing per year?

SM:  About ten or so cons and even more shoots!

MB:  What are some of your favorite events or locations?

SM:  Phoenix will always be number one!

MB: Do you make all your outfits and make-up or do you have some preferred helpers?

SM:  Yes I make it all, unless otherwise specified as a collaboration, and I do all my own make-up as well.

MB: You have a very exotic look. Does it help that you can pull off so many different looks?

SM:  Absolutely.  It helps being able to pull off whatever I need. It’s nice being a ringer for a character, but it’s in even more fun challenge to tackle something that is totally different, like my female frost giant.

MB: What are some of your best cosplay moments?

SM:  There are so many. My most recent was in Salt Lake City where a girl with autism said that I inspired her to cosplay. It almost made me cry!

MB: Do you cosplay just for fun, or do you have a store and blog site we can plug for you?

SM:  I definitely think you can do both as long as the fun dominates. My prints are at saramoni.storenvy.com and all of the proceeds from that go right back into my costumes. You can also find me on Facebook at Sara Moni Cosplay.

MB: I see you have worked with charities. Do you have a particular memorable experience from helping others?

SM:  I am an active member of the Arizona Avengers and when we have events for foster children or sick children there is nothing that can top seeing them smile.

MB: How safe do you feel at cons now? Is it safe to walk from parking lots in costume? Are the bigger crowds bringing out “touchy” people who break barriers they shouldn’t?

SM:  I feel very safe. I don’t put myself in sketchy situations in or out of costume. I always walk in a group and I do carry physical deterrents with me! Ha that’s the nice way of putting it.

MB: What advice do you have for people starting out?

SM:  Always remember why you started and don’t forget. When it stops being fun, it’s time to stop.

MB: Who would you like to give a shout out for being someone who helped you get started and friends you look forward to seeing at cons?

SM:  So many! The Arizona Avengers of course – my friends from high school that were cosplayers and any new people I meet that share the same fandoms that I do!

MB: Any upcoming projects or events we can see you at?

SM:  On Free Comic Book Day I will be at Drawn to Comics – and I am scheduled for several upcoming conventions.

MB: I saw a tweet from Nathon Fillion (Captain Malcom “Mal” Reynolds from Firefly) commending you on your cosplay of Inara Serra, his love interest on the show , was that an awesome moment? Are you planning to get a photo with him at Phoenix Comic Con?

SM:  It’s still surreal and I’ll still get twitter alerts from it now! I saw him at FanX but wasn’t able to talk to him. Hopefully at Phoenix I will!

NOTE:  Blog link to Inara Serra cosplay article on Sara Moni – http://www.bloglovin.com/viewer?post=2559828447&group=0&frame_type=a&blog=3888164&link=aHR0cDovL2Zhc2hpb25hYmx5Z2Vlay5jb20vY29zdHVtZXMvYS1nb3JnZW91cy1pbmFyYS1zZXJyYS1jb3NwbGF5Lw&frame=1&click=0&user=0

 

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How does a $50 3D-printed hand match up to $42G prosthetic?

How does a $50 3D-printed hand match up to $42G prosthetic?

Published April 23, 2014·
FoxNews.com

Jose Delgado, Jr., 53, was born without most of his left hand and has been using prosthetic devices for decades. His current device, a myoelectric prosthesis, is valued at around $42,000.

Due to the high cost of prosthetics, groups like e-NABLE, comprised of a global community of volunteers, have been formed with the goal of providing free 3D-printed devices and parts for people in need.

Jeremy Simon, an e-NABLE volunteer and founder of 3D Universe, had an idea: make a 3D-printed mechanical hand using $50 worth of materials and see how it compares to the $42,000 prosthetic. The results were shocking.

“Certainly we’re not making an apples to apples comparison — these are entirely different kinds of devices — but the comparison I was trying to draw with Jose was strictly in terms of day-to-day functionality what’s more useful,” Simon told FoxNews.com. “It turned out [the 3D-printed] one was.”

Delgado Jr., who tested the device, told Simon the grip of the 3D-printed hand made it more functional in many cases than the more expensive prosthetic.

“It’s useful for carrying boxes,” Delgado Jr. said. “These are more grip and won’t let go of much.”

Simon found the design for the 3D-printed via e-NABLE.

“We’re talking about 3D designers, university professors, occupational therapists, medical professionals, all sorts of people are in this community and they all give completely freely of their time and efforts,” Simon said.

Simon hopes the 3D printing movement will continue to grow, and hopes philanthropic efforts like those of e-NABLE will thrive.

“As long as there’s still people willing to do this kind of work, the technology is going to continue to get more accessible and more affordable,” Simon said.

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Cosplay Pictures for Your Saturday

Cosplay Pictures for Your Saturday enjoyment!

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