The entertainment industry has a new billion-dollar baby. Activision Blizzard announced yesterday its "Call of Duty: Black Ops" video game has racked up $1 billion in sales after just 42 days on the market.
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Alexei Barrionuevo writes for the New York Times:
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VOLTA GRANDE DO XINGU, Brazil — They came from the far reaches of the Amazon, traveling in small boats and canoes for up to three days to discuss their fate. James Cameron, the Hollywood titan, stood before them with orange warrior streaks painted on his face, comparing the threats on their lands to a snake eating its prey.
“The snake kills by squeezing very slowly,” Mr. Cameron said to more than 70 indigenous people, some holding spears and bows and arrows, under a tree here along the Xingu River. “This is how the civilized world slowly, slowly pushes into the forest and takes away the world that used to be,” he added.
As if to underscore the point, seconds later a poisonous green snake fell out of a tree, just feet from where Mr. Cameron’s wife sat on a log. Screams rang out.
John Pavlus writes on io9.com:
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Science fiction has long played with the idea of projecting unified personalities/minds/”souls” into different bodies. The premise is baked into the plots of stories like Avatar and Caprica. But how would it work in the real world?
That’s what the science of “embodied cognition” is all about. The basic idea in this new(ish) research area (which overlaps with cognitive psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, robotics, and others) is this: Your mind is defined by your physical form. Not just in terms of “the mind is what the brain does”-we all are pretty down with that already. This takes it further to encompass the whole enchilada: your mind-your “I”-is a function of a cephalized, bipedal, plantigrade, bilaterally symmetrical body between 1.5 and 2 meters tall with two arms terminating in five-fingered hands with opposable thumbs, two lungs, a warm-blooded vascular system, mostly hairless skin, two front-focused eyes, etc.
Vice-President Joe Biden stopped by MSNBC this afternoon to chat about important domestic and foreign-policy issues with Andrea Mitchell, but he was disappointingly less gaffe-tastic than we'd hoped. Nevertheless, we were delighted by Biden's answer about his pick for Best Picture Oscar, Avatar. "I think one of the odds on favorites ... is um, is uh, this uh, this, this, this new program that I looked at and wished I was seeing it in 3-D, and you sit there and you watch this science-fiction thing unfold in front of you," he said, with adorable wonder and excitement. "The magic of it is kind of overwhelming."
Boxoffice is arguably more straightforward to report than TV ratings. You have this weekly Top 10 list of returns, you compare each movie to the other movies. TV ratings are a murky swamp where one network's hit is another network's flop and context is not just a factor, but often the entire story. Han fucking soloYet one respect in which boxoffice reporting is pretty odd — emphasizing ticket grosses yet rarely mentioning ticket sales. That would be like always reporting how many ad dollars sold off Lost and not mentioning the number of viewers that actually watched the show. With everybody reporting how Avatar is The Biggest Movie of All Time based on grosses ($1.859 billion and counting), it's important to remember how rising ticket prices skew the returns. Here's the Top 10 movies of all time ... by number of tickets sold: 1. "Gone With the Wind" (1939) 202,044,600 2. "Star Wars" (1977) 178,119,600 3. "The Sound of Music" (1965) 142,415,400 4. "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) 141,854,300 5. "The Ten Commandments" (1956) 131,000,000 6. "Titanic" (1997) 128,345,900 7. "Jaws" (1975) 128,078,800 8. "Doctor Zhivago" (1965) 124,135,500 9. "The Exorcist" (1973) 110,568,700 10. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) 109,000,000
Biologist Carol Kaesuk Yoon has written one of the best essays I’ve come across regarding James Cameron’s masterpiece (yes, I really think so), Avatar, for the New York Times:
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When watching a Hollywood movie that has robed itself in the themes and paraphernalia of science, a scientist expects to feel anything from annoyance to infuriation at facts misconstrued or processes misrepresented. What a scientist does not expect is to enter into a state of ecstatic wonderment, to have the urge to leap up and shout: “Yes! That’s exactly what it’s like!”
So it is time for all the biologists who have not yet done so to shut their laptops and run from their laboratories directly to the movie theaters, put on 3-D glasses and watch the film “Avatar.” In fact, anyone who loves a biologist or may want to be one, or better yet, anyone who hates a biologist — and certainly everyone who has ever sneered at a tree-hugger — should do the same.
Avatar may be one of the biggest grossing movies of all time, but it’s got a lot of fans feeling super blue (pun wholly intended). CNN just came out with an extremely detailed report on the intense depression that Avatar is causing among a certain segment of fans, fans who psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser describes as “lonely to begin with. They’re seeing Avatar, they’re lonely people, a lot of them don’t have a lot going on in their lives right now… The movie opened up a portal for them to express their depression.” These fans are turning to online forums — some of which have thousands of posts on how to deal with the cinema-induced sadness — to express their distress. Here’s a few excerpts from the CNN report:
Alessandra Rizzo reports on yet another example of the Catholic Church’s lack of insight as to what people are looking for today, at ABC News/AP:
Unlike much of the world, the Vatican is not awed by the film “Avatar.”
James Cameron’s big-grossing, 3-D spectacle has earned lukewarm reviews by both the Vatican newspaper and its radio station, which say the movie is simplistic in its plot is superficial in its eco-message, despite groundbreaking visual effects.
Perhaps more significantly, the Vatican takes the movie to task for flirting with what it says is the worship of nature as a substitute for religion.
“So much stupefying, enchanting technology, but few genuine emotions,” said Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, which devoted three articles to “Avatar” in its Sunday editions…
As James Cameron's animated sci-fi movie Avatar goes on general release, astronomers point out that the movie's habitable moon called "Pandora" may exist in reality. Although none have been found to date, "exomoons" orbiting exoplanets are sure to exist. Could an exomoon be detected? If so, could that exomoon's atmosphere be probed? Yes and yes, according to today's announcement by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Mass.
James Cameron was asked by a fan at Comic-Con why he’d abandoned plans to adapt the manga comic book Battle Angel Alita to focus on “Avatar”. The director replied “It’s not a great time to ask a woman if she wants to have other kids when she’s crowning.”
But as “Avatar” finally premiers, this article also traces the 21-volume story of the cyborg manga comic which is considered “the Cameron epic that might have been,” and which might still be, about a 26th-century cyborg terrorist reassembling her human memory!