May 2018 news

May 2018 newsletter with 3 essays, links on genetic engineering/heritability/human evolution, politics, psychology, advertising, and 1 book and 1 movie review.
topics: newsletter
created: 10 May 2018; modified: 08 Jun 2019; status: finished; confidence: log; importance: 0

This is the May 2018 edition of the newsletter; previous, April 2018 (archives). This is a summary of the revision-history RSS feed, overlapping with my Changelog & /r/gwern/; brought to you by my donors on Patreon.





  • The Cat in Ancient Egypt, Malek 1997 (some nice full-color images; Malek’s accounts are fairly speculative, and could have used a basic discussion of the conventions of ancient Egyptian art, which he often appeals to in interpreting the cat images and explaining why something is/isn’t important, but never explains.)



  • Conan the Barbarian (Got around to watching after reading an amusing tweet summary: “An underappreciated thing about the Conan the Barbarian movie is how low-key informed it is by 1970s California beach culture. It’s basically about a Muscle Beach bodybuilder & his hapa surfer buddy doing drugs, having casual sex & battling a cult that exploits rich hippies.” Having already watched Pumping Iron, which shows Arnold Schwarzenegger not long before while still trying to transition from bodybuilding to film and his milieu, I was intrigued by the comparison. And Stentz’s summary is… dead on. It’s so easy to see them as Californian bodybuilders bumbling around, having a good time, distracted by a hippie Californian Asian/human-potential cult—complete with longhaired acolytes twirling flowers and meditating, and hilariously homoerotic dialogue, which as “The Power and the Gory”, takes pains to remind us, was a big part of the bodybuilding scene as even straight bodybuilders would whore themselves out to gay men for money or access to controlled steroids/drugs. I was further surprised by how slow-moving and mild it is—it repeatedly pulls punches and takes more peaceful ways out than its bloody reputation would suggest (even the Seven Samurai-homage set-piece features possibly less bloodshed than the original), right up to the climax. Of course Thulsa Doom is going to transform into his giant serpent form and fight Conan, right? Nope! And then all the cultists just quietly disperse.)



  • “Leonardo” (Il Giardino degli Specchi; Oltremare {2018}) [post-rock]