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Valerian film review: Lost (and confused) in space, but still a blast

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Enlarge / Valerian and Laureline, seen here looking like they're trying their best to imagine a romantic plotline that makes more sense than what they were given. (credit: STX Films)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets could be the most enjoyable 2017 film destined to win a Razzie award. Some of its disparate elements deserve a "bad," "poor," or even "embarrassing" rating. The film strays so far from its comic source material that you might call it treasonous. And it co-stars Rihanna, which, let's face it, has yet to work out well for a Hollywood production.

Even with those issues, I still had a blast. I went into my Valerian screening hoping to get "Luc Besson sci-fi," with elaborate, beautifully illustrated sequences, tongue-in-cheek schlock, and a weirdly French skew on high-octane cinema. Those expectations were met. I laughed, cheered, and roared both at and with the film. Valerian comes packed with just enough Fifth Element flavor to make it worth a solid, low-expectations trip to the movie theater.

Multipass?

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jhamill
3 hours ago
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Haven't read. Commenting on title.

That can be said about any Luc Bessson movie because Luc Beson.
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fxer
4 hours ago
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Bend, Oregon
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Trump wants a talk-radio host to be the USDA’s chief scientist

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Enlarge / Sam Clovis, then newly appointed national co-chairman of the Trump campaign, speaks during a news conference with Donald Trump. (credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images)

Yesterday, the Trump administration formally named its candidate for the Department of Agriculture's undersecretary of research, education, and economics, a post that serves as the agency's chief scientist. Its choice? Sam Clovis, who has no scientific background but is notable primarily for having been a conservative talk-radio host. If approved by the Senate, the US' attempts to understand climate change's impact on agriculture will be led by someone who called climate research "junk science."

Clovis, who has also taught economics and management at an Iowa liberal arts college, was an early supporter of Trump's candidacy. He's been working at the USDA as a White House advisor since shortly after Trump's inauguration. Suggestions that he'd be nominated to this position have been circulating for a while, but his official nomination only came yesterday.

While the USDA doesn't have as prominent a role in science as, say, the Department of Energy, its Agricultural Research Service (ARS!) has over 1,000 permanent scientists and over 100 research facilities. It and other components of the research, education, and economics group are responsible for research in areas like nutrition, agricultural productivity, pathogens that affect agricultural animals, and non-food agriculture, such as forestry.

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jhamill
3 hours ago
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At least he nominated someone but, holy hell, what the actual fuck, we are being led by a 5 year old child that can't think beyond his own private reality. Trump's thought process seems to be, "Did they support me? Then they're good people" - instead of "knowing the best people".
California
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Dinner Surprise

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jhamill
4 hours ago
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I love a good fart joke.
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New Beats headphones are ugly

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Apple partnered with Balmain for these new headphones. I’m guessing Jony Ive and the Apple design team must be on vacation.

∞ Read this on The Loop

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jhamill
1 day ago
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The ladies who saw these at the warehouse this week really liked them. Maybe Jim isn't the target audience?
California
MotherHydra
21 hours ago
Only bearded ladies coalesce with Jim's preferences. Jim is a curmudgeon in the classical sense.
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Cop didn’t know his body cam was on—footage shows him planting drugs

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In May, we published a story about how police body cams can be employed in the worst way—for planting evidence, or staging a crime scene. In what was among the first instances of its kind, we revealed that a Colorado cop had staged the body cam footage of the search of a vehicle in which he is seen finding drugs and cash. Pueblo prosecutors dropped the drug charges, and the Pueblo Police Department said it disciplined the officer, as an internal matter. No charges against the officer were lodged.

Now there's word of another such incident in Baltimore, related to video from a January drug arrest. The officer's trickery was revealed by the fact that his body cam, by default, retained footage for 30 seconds before it was activated to begin recording. During that time, according to the footage and the Baltimore public defender's office, officer Richard Pinheiro puts a bag of pills in a can in an alley and walks out of the alley.

The Axon cam's initial 30 seconds of footage, by default, doesn't have sound. After 30 seconds, viewers of the video can both see and hear the officer looking for drugs in the alley. Lo and behold, he finds them in the same soup can that he placed them in, according to the footage, which was released Wednesday. Pinheiro can then be heard yelling "yo" to his fellow officers, telling them he found drugs in the alley.

Smile, you're on camera

The Baltimore Police Department said Wednesday it was investigating the matter, and the three officers seen in the video. The Baltimore public defender's office discovered the incident when reviewing body cam footage while preparing to defend an upcoming drug prosecution.

The footage paved the way for the authorities to drop charges against the drug suspect, who had remained jailed since January on $50,000 bail he could not post. The Baltimore public defender's office said the officer in question is a witness in as many as 53 other active cases, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland said that the officers involved in the alleged drug plant "have single-handedly destroyed the credibility of every piece of video where the BPD officers find contraband."

According to Baltimore police policy, deputies are required to turn on their body cams during confrontations and "at the initiation of a call for service or other activity or encounter that is investigative or enforcement-related in nature."

Body cams are flourishing in police departments across the US in the wake of some high-profile shootings. The surveillance devices are intended to protect the integrity of the police, and to provide public accountability. That said, like the Pueblo incident, the Baltimore episode underscores that the cams are not a panacea. While cameras can be critical evidence in revealing the truth, they can also be manipulated to mislead.

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sirshannon
1 day ago
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We need 2 more seasons of The Wire with Adnan and Freddie Gray. There should be a happy ending this time: Bunk and pals and superiors all in jail at the end.
jhamill
1 day ago
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police body cams should record the officer's entire shift and it should not be possible for an officer to turn them on or off.
California
toddhealy
1 day ago
I agree in concept, but there needs to be some provision for the officer's privacy. There is no need to record them using the bathroom or calling their spouse on break. Perhaps there should be a presumption of guilt on the officer's behalf if the camera was not recording?
acdha
1 day ago
I would like cameras to be linked to the officer's official duty status: turn it off when you're taking a dump, sure, but you're giving up your official powers and shield law protections until you turn it back on (or maybe it's always on but excluding footage prevents any official action during that time period)
jhamill
4 hours ago
@acdha is correct, the video should always be rolling on official duty and stop for potty breaks as @toddhealy points out. But, in the absence of automatic ways to stop recording in those instances, the cameras should always be rolling when officers are on the clock. Citizens shouldn't have to rely on officers to turn on their cameras because they are people and people can error.
acdha
1 day ago
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Washington, DC
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★ Public Service Announcement: You Should Not Force Quit Apps on iOS

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The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using. The idea is that apps in the background are locking up unnecessary RAM and consuming unnecessary CPU cycles, thus hurting performance and wasting battery life.

That’s not how iOS works. The iOS system is designed so that none of the above justifications for force quitting are true. Apps in the background are effectively “frozen”, severely limiting what they can do in the background and freeing up the RAM they were using. iOS is really, really good at this. It is so good at this that unfreezing a frozen app takes up way less CPU (and energy) than relaunching an app that had been force quit. Not only does force quitting your apps not help, it actually hurts. Your battery life will be worse and it will take much longer to switch apps if you force quit apps in the background.

Here’s a short and sweet answer from Craig Federighi, in response to an email from a customer asking if he force quits apps and whether doing so preserves battery life: “No and no.”

Just in case you don’t believe Apple’s senior vice president for software, here are some other articles pointing out how this habit is actually detrimental to iPhone battery life:

This thing about force quitting apps in the background is such a pernicious myth that I’ve heard numerous stories from DF readers about Apple Store Genius Bar staff recommending it to customers. Those “geniuses” are anything but geniuses.

It occurs to me that one of the best examples proving that this notion is wrong (at least in terms of performance) are YouTube “speed test” benchmarks. There’s an entire genre of YouTube videos devoted to benchmarking new phones by running them through a series of apps and CPU-intensive tasks repeatedly, going through the loop twice. Once from a cold boot and the second time immediately after the first first loop. Here’s a perfect example, pitting a Samsung Galaxy S8 against an iPhone 7 Plus. Note that no apps are manually force quit on either device. The iPhone easily wins on the first loop, but where the iPhone really shines is on the second loop. The S8 has to relaunch all (or at least almost all) of the apps, because Android has forced them to quit while in the background to reclaim the RAM they were using. On the iPhone, all (or nearly all) of the apps re-animate almost instantly.

In fact, apps frozen in the background on iOS unfreeze so quickly that I think it actually helps perpetuate the myth that you should force quit them: if you’re worried that background apps are draining your battery and you see how quickly they load from the background, it’s a reasonable assumption to believe that they never stopped running. But they do. They really do get frozen, the RAM they were using really does get reclaimed by the system, and they really do unfreeze and come back to life that quickly.1

An awful lot of very hard work went into making iOS work like this. It’s a huge technical advantage that iOS holds over Android. And every iPhone user in the world who habitually force quits background apps manually is wasting all of the effort that went into this while simultaneously wasting their own device’s battery life and making everything slower for themselves.

This pernicious myth is longstanding and seemingly will not die. I wrote about at length back in 2012:

Like with any voodoo, there are die-hard believers. I’m quite certain that I am going to receive email from people who will swear up-and-down that emptying this list of used applications every hour or so keeps their iPhone running better than it would otherwise. Nonsense.

As Fraser mentions, yes, there are exceptional situations where an app with background privileges can get stuck, and you need to kill that app. The argument here is not that you should never have to kill any app using the multitasking switcher — the argument is that you don’t need to do it on a regular basis, and you’re not making anything “better” by clearing the list. Shame on the “geniuses” who are peddling this advice.

And don’t even get me started on people who completely power down their iPhones while putting them back into their pockets or purses.


  1. The other contributing factor to believing that force quitting is good for your iPhone are the handful of apps that have been found to be repeated abusers of loopholes in iOS, such that they really do continue running in the background, wasting battery life. Most infamously, Facebook was caught playing silent audio tracks in the background to take advantage of APIs that allow audio-playing apps to play audio from the background. They called it a “bug”. In those cases force-quitting the apps really did help, and I see no reason to trust Facebook. So if you want to keep force quitting Facebook, go right ahead. But don’t let one bad app spoil the whole barrel. The Battery section in the iOS Settings app can show you which apps are actually consuming energy in the background — tap the clock icon under “Battery Usage” and don’t force quit any app that isn’t a genuine culprit. ↩︎

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jhamill
1 day ago
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While it might be correct that you don't need to force quit apps or power down your phone or whatever. The bigger problem here, to me, is the people who feel the need to tell other people that they're using the device wrong. It's my device, I'll use it how I want, no matter what you say.

Quit wasting time writing the you're using your device wrong stories.
California
arnabocean
1 day ago
There's two sides to this, isn't it. There's one group of people who do things thinking "this helps me with whatever". With this, you can demonstrate that their actions don't achieve their goals, and then they change their actions. The other group of people are different. For example, they might choose to open Safari, type "google" into the search bar, click the first link to "google.com", type into the search bar in google, and *then* see their actual search results. You might show them there's a better way, and they might say, "well this is my phone, and I'll use it how I want, no matter what you say". Well, they're right, and in that case, you just walk away knowing they're idiots. But it doesn't mean you stop showing other people that there is indeed a better way. :-)
tewha
6 hours ago
I have no problem being told I'm doing something wrong and could be doing it in a way that's better and easier, but I guess you do? That's unfortunate, but don't worry: Nobody will ever force you to be rational. You can use the device however you like. Just don't be surprised when there's people pointing out it's not only unhelpful but actually counter productive. And try not to get angry; they have every right to talk about such things.
jhamill
4 hours ago
Congratulations everyone, we've "Well, actually" on the internet. That's just as good as the 'you're doing it wrong' article.
tewha
4 hours ago
And congratulations, jhamill, for being an ignorant and aggressive asshole.
jhamill
4 hours ago
Sure, okay @tewha I'm not the one calling people assholes on the internet but, you do you.
popular
11 hours ago
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tdknox
1 day ago
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The one app I do force quit regularly is Waze, because if you don't it continuously monitors your location even when you're not driving or using it.

iOS 11 makes that much more clear with a giant blue bar at the top of the screen 'Waze is using your location', which miraculously goes away after I punt Waze.

But otherwise, Gruber is completely correct.
Cupertino, CA
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