Monday, June 19, 2017

THE UNDEAD

The first attempts to bring people back from the dead are slated to start this year.

This controversial plan was thwarted last year in India.
Bioquark, a Philadelphia-based company, announced in late 2016 that they believe brain death is not 'irreversible'. According to the Daily Mail, CEO Ira Pastor has revealed they will soon be testing an unprecedented stem cell method on patients in an unidentified country in Latin America, confirming the details in the next few months. 

To be declared officially dead in the majority of countries, you have to experience complete and irreversible loss of brain function, or 'brain death'.  According to Pastor, Bioquark has developed a series of injections that can reboot the brain - and they plan to try it out on humans this year.
They have no plans to test on animals first. 

Medical science has tight protocols before experimentation can begin on humans. There must be peer review on research, animal trials, then clinical trials. At each stage of the process, the results are published and reviewed by authorities before permission can be granted to proceed. Here, the company is going straight to the end game without any factual foundation. 


HOW BIOQUARK PLAN TO TRY REVERSING BRAIN DEATH:

1) Harvest stem cells from the patient's own blood, and inject this back into their body.
2) Inject peptides into the patient's spinal cord.
3) Fifteen days of laser and median nerve stimulation - while monitoring the patients using MRI scans.

The patient needs to keep oxygen pumping through the body to  keep the brain stem functioning - for example, by keeping a person on a ventilator. It means that most countries today, including the US and the UK, identify death as permanent loss of brain stem function. The researchers are looking to stop families or doctors from pulling the plug on their brain dead patients.

There is no precedent for what researchers plan to do. It may be a very expensive (the article did not say) method with no chance of success (but some families will pay anything in the hope of getting their loved ones back).  So critics and cynics have raised concerns that the company is not going through normal protocols to test their theories before using human beings as test dummies. That is the reason why the medical boards in India stopped the company from doing work in that country.

The ramifications of re-booting a brain dead patient can be severe. What if it only partially works and the patient only has minimum brain activity (such as in a deep coma state with no communication skills). Is that really a quality life? What if it does not activate brain memories, speech, eyesight or senses but merely pain? Then what happens to the patient? What are the unintended consequences of playing god?

It seems LOST also played fast and loose with medical ethics on the island. It used mind control and chemical weapons experimentation which hit its evil zenith after Ben's coup.  The concept of immortality by regular brain reanimations is in the realm of science fiction. But there appears to be some researchers who dare to try it in real life.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS

The curse of the pharaohs refers to an ancient alleged curse believed by some to be cast upon any person who disturbs the tomb of an Egyptian person, especially a pharaoh or king. This curse, which does not differentiate between thieves and archaeologists, allegedly can cause bad luck, illness or death. Since the mid-20th century, many authors and documentaries have argued that the curse is real in the sense of being caused by scientifically explicable causes such as bacteria or radiation.

When a tomb is opened after hundreds of years, it contains dust and bacteria that have not seen the light of day. Those bacteria or dust can contain pathogens that modern man has no immunity form.

The Book of the Dead contained passages to ward off people from disturbing the tombs. Religious beliefs stated that those possessions in the deceased chambers were needed in the afterlife. Grave robbers knew that the rich were buried with vast treasures of gold, silver and gems.

The curse legend grew in the 1920s and 1930s when Howard Carter's archeology team uncovered the best tomb of all time, King Tut's. After excavating the tomb, several members of the team died mysterious deaths, one from a mosquito bite and one from blood poisoning.

For those who still seek a unified theory to LOST's mythology, the curse theory may be the one.

The island was filled with Egyptian references, including columns of hieroglyphs in the Temple to Jacob's textiles. And if you review LOST's elements as an allegory to ancient Egyptian rituals and practices, you can weave a good theory.

In order to protect a pharaoah's afterlife, he would have gathered loyal subjects, his priests, to make continuous offerings and to protect his tomb from raiders. These priests were powerful men in society. Many were viewed to have magical properties and direct contact with the gods.

When people do not understand what they see, they call it magic or supernatural.  The magicians can use unknown science, illusion or slight of hand to deceive, manipulate or shock people. Some people know that one way to control people is to create chaos, fear or expectation of death.

We have Jacob as the island guardian. He is the high priest of the island. The island contains a temple - - - and temples were created for the specific purpose of burial of powerful people.

The smoke monster could be viewed as the deadly dust that is the manifestation of the curse for those foreigners who came to the island to disturb the temple rites.

Why did Jacob allow people to come to his island? Just as in ancient times, a pharaoh, dead or alive, needed subjects to protect him and his remains. The Flight 815 survivors could be unwittingly recruits for the pharaoh's subjects. They were placed in the way of raiders such as Widmore's men who wanted to take control (and plunder) the island.

One can see that the smoke monster's deaths were not indiscriminate. It killed people like Eko because he did not believe in the island's religion. He was wrapped up in his brother's religion out of guilt. As such, Eko had no role in protecting the temple or the island. Eko was then expendable.

Likewise, converts like Locke were used to try to recruit loyal subjects to return to the island. When he failed, he was killed because he had no value to the island high priest.

The one concept that stood the test of the series was that the island had to be protected (from the unknown). That was the reason and excuse for all the conflicting behaviors and story lines. 

Just as in Egyptian mythology, the smoke monster may have evolved to rival the high priest - - - to overthrow him to create his new cult. That is why Flocke did not kill Widmore's men in mass; he used the alleged conflict between the sides in order to oust Jacob from his position of power. Flocke's background was one of science (MIB was into Roman culture and technology as a young man) while Jacob was schooled in the metaphysics of religious beliefs tied to the island's mysterious past. The theme of science vs. religion was common in the series. It seems that it was tested at various stages in time, from the military coming to the island to challenge the inhabitants to Dharma's uneasy truce with the natives. There were two different views of the island. One was to keep the religious tenets in place (Jacob). The other was to abandon the old ways (MIB) and abandon the island.

In some ways, the latter prevailed just like it did in Egypt. Egyptian cult religion or worship its pharaohs died off to be replaced with modern religions in a secular government structure (with intermittent civil wars and political upheaval.)

Just as modern archeology triumphed over the safeguards of tomb construction, LOST's major change was the loss of the island's long standing structure and purpose.

When it was said that the characters had to "let go" in order to be free, it could mean that they had to let go their own past personal principle structures (which commonly is called religious beliefs) in order to embrace their own free will and their thoughts on morality and mortality.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

DOORS

"There are things that are known and things that are unknown; in between are doors." - - - Jim Morrison.

A good mystery is like a door.

The clues to what lies behind the door (the answers) can be found:

1) by the location of the door;
2) by the type of door;
3) the construction of the door;
4) the kind of latches or knobs;
5) whether it is locked or unlocked;
6) whether it has signage;
7) whether you can hear noises from inside.

Applied to the Island in LOST:

1) it was located in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere north of Australia and west of Fiji.
2) it was a tropical island
3) it contained ruins from past occupants
4) it was very hard to enter the island
5) it was hidden from searcher's view
6) it was so remote that it screamed danger to survivors that washed up on its shore
7) the noises of the smoke monster were loud and horrible.

So what was behind all the island mysteries?

Did we get a clear peak behind the door?

We know the island by its unique physics properties defies both time and space. But we do not know whether it exists in our current earth space-time, or phases in and out, or is another dimension (including but not limited to the afterlife).

We know that throughout the centuries, various people came to the island and built their own structures such as the Egyptian temple to the Dharma laboratories. But we do not know whether these civilizations were necessary to the development of the island or the saving of mankind.

We were told that no one entered the island without the permission of the island guardian. But it is unclear why Jacob would have allowed the US military to come place an atomic bomb on the island then leave it in the hands of power-mad people like Widmore. And if a guardian "needed" people on the island, why were those people's lives so meaningless and subject to frivolous deaths?

We think that the island's defense was the smoke monster and/or the guardian. We are not sure whether the guardian like Jacob was a smoke monster himself, or he had the power to create one. But since Jacob appeared to be immortal (until an unclear change made him give up the guardianship to Jack; perhaps the uncorking of the island), one could presume he was a supernatural being.

We also saw that when Rousseau's crew washed upon the island, the smoke monster was like an attack guard dog - - - killing and possessing them from the moment of landing. However, when the Flight 815 castaways landed on the island, the smoke monster's wrath was tempered to isolated incidents to Ben's "summoning" of the smoke monster by the water device to kill Widmore's men.

Even when the writers opened the door to the island, the interior is still quite dark. Even the answers are shrouded in mystery.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

VOLCANO

The ending of Lost was almost much bigger than what audiences saw. Nothing was that different. The characters and island were always going to be what they ended up being. But, one big addition would have changed things significantly: a volcano.

Lost executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse told the story to Entertainment Weekly. The summary is that Lindelof and Cuse wanted some kind of visual identifier to bring together the idea that this island was like a cork on a bottle of evil. The symbol was going to be a volcano, and it would have been set up in the third to last episode. In that episode, where we learned the backstory of Jacob and the Man in Black, Jacob was going to throw the Man in Black into the volcano, turning him into the smoke monster that debuted in season one.

Then, in the series finale, Locke and Jack were going to fight on the volcano as it got ready to erupt—kind of a natural-disaster ticking clock, with tremors, lava, and, eventually, good triumphing over evil. Lost even set up the idea of the volcano being on the island some time prior, in a third season episode that featured a Dharma classroom. And yet, it ended up getting scrapped.
The reason is simple: money. Producers and executives realized that all the volcano effects and potential location filming were going to be way too expensive for them to handle, especially when another final season set, the temple, ended up being more pricey than expected. So, in the end, the very literal interpretation of the island as evil was cut out and things were left a little more ambiguous. Same ending, Jack vs. Locke fighting on a rocky area, but just no volcano.

Money woes and writing by the seat of their pants.

Jeff Jensen, the waterboy for the series theorists, writes:

Carlton Cuse, Lost’s longtime co-showrunner, got the idea for the volcano in the early years of the show after visiting Hawaii’s Big Island with his family, taking a volcano tour and marveling at the landscape. He thought it would be cool if The Island had a volcano of its own. “We were always looking to cannibalize anything on Hawaii to aid in the visual storytelling of the show,” says Cuse. “We also thought of the island as a character on the show, so we were always looking for things that would give it more personality.” He didn’t have an idea of how the volcano could be used, “but it was something we banked and thought we could use downstream.”

The volcano stayed in the back pocket until the producers started developing Lost’s concluding seasons. The premise that developed over time was that the volcano was a mysterious place that forged the ticking, shape-shifting monster, the billowing black mass known as Smokey. By season 6, the writers had settled on the concept that the island was like a cork that bottled up all sorts of bad stuff, some volatile stew of spiritual dark matter stuff that would rob life of meaning and goodness if unleashed. “The question was always, how do you basically visualize and dramatize the idea that the island itself is all that separates the world from hellfire and damnation?” says Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. “And the answer was the volcano.”

Lindelof and Cuse initially envisioned a finale in which Jack (Matthew Fox) and Smokey incarnate (Terry O’Quinn) would brawl over the fate of the island at Lost’s proverbial Mount Doom. “The volcano had been dormant for the duration of the series,” explains Lindelof, “but based on moving into this endgame, the island had become unstable and the volcano was going to erupt. We were going to have lots of seismic activity, and ultimately, there was going to be this big fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil, which ended up in the series manifesting as Jack and The Man in Black, in the midst of magma. Magma spewing everywhere!”

And so it went that Cuse and Lindelof decided to end Lost by reigniting an actual volcano and spraying their cast with actual skin-searing magma. Just kidding. But they were determined to fake it the best they could. “It would be visually stunning and really exciting for the audience,” says Lindelof. “After six years and around 121 hours of the show, we had shot literally every part of Oahu that we could for island scenes and flashbacks. So the idea that, for the finale, we could go to this new locale that’s going to look new and different and unique, primal and ancient and end-of-the-world-ish, that would be great.”

The volcano wouldn’t have come out of the blue. The producers planned to take us there in Lost’s third-to-last episode, “Across The Sea,” a major mythological outing that revealed the origin story of The Island’s long-lived protector, Jacob (Mark Pellegrino), and his unnamed brother, The Man in Black (Titus Welliver), and dramatized the latter’s transformation into Smokey. You would have seen Jacob drag his mother-killing sibling up the slopes of the volcano and toss him into its smoldering, monster-making crater.

And this is where the people who wrote the checks for Lost put a stopper in Operation: Magma Spew. At some point in all the plotting, planning, and prepping for season 6, ABC calculated that it couldn’t afford the transportation cost. Not helping the cause: The set for the temple, a refuge for Jacob’s chosen ones and a key location in the first half of season 6, turned out to be very expensive. Says Lindelof: “ABC was like, ‘Guys, we love you, and we’re letting you end the show; we can’t let you bankrupt the network in the process.’” And that’s how Smokey’s crucible — Lost’s version of Buffy’s Hellmouth — was re-imagined as a cave of light and the fight between Jack and the monster was filmed on the cliffs of Oahu.

Cuse says The Volcano That Never Really Was speaks to how practical factors, models of production, and s— happens variables affect the execution and finale form of big saga serials. Lost was marked by several such stories. Perhaps the most well-known involved Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, whose Mr. Eko was a season 2 breakout. The producers loved writing for Mr. Eko (his showcase episode in season 2, “The 23rd Psalm,” written by Cuse and Lindelof, is one of Lost’s best) and envisioned a prolonged conflict with John Locke (O’Quinn) that would have made the middle seasons of the series quite different. When the actor abruptly ankled Lost the second season, the producers had to create a new story for Locke and other characters impacted by his sudden departure. (Akinnuoye-Agbaje stuck around for a few episodes to shoot Mr. Eko’s death-by-Smokey exit episode.)

Still, Cuse and Lindelof do think scratching the volcano was for the best. Lindelof says the producers came to believe during the writing of season 6 that it would be better if some ideas about The Island remained metaphorical or mysterious, things to be interpreted, not explained.

>>>> I have to disagree with the notion that Budget Killed the Volcano. You can use stock film footage of an eruption with close up footage of characters panicked reactions; and waves of ash clouds as they flee from the jungle.

The "monster making" volcano would explain how one is made but not WHAT it is. We got some circumstantial evidence of monster creation in Light Cave when Jack "rebooted" the island cork. But that was placed in the context of rebalancing good and evil not creating a monster. (Even though some say that the body of Jacob's brother was washed into the cave, knocking over the cork and thus creating the Man in Black.)

But if the volcano was supposed to be the climatic star of the Series 6 final episodes, why did the production crew spend so much time and money on the Egyptian symbols and the temple if the temple concepts were immaterial to the resolution of the story?

This story shows that the show runners and writers were struggling to find a way to end the series. There were too many ideas but not enough continuity to resolve the series story lines. Instead, it was decided not to answer the questions but create a final "character study" of the cast as they passed into the afterlife.

Monday, May 1, 2017

AUTHENTIC

Janet Louise Stevenson wrote, "Authenticity requires vulnerability, transparency and integrity."

In the fan autopsy of LOST series, there were conflicting results of whether the show runners captured the essence of the LOST experience and mythology to the end. To be authentic means being genuine; made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original.

LOST started off gang busters as a media and audience favorite. The idea of combining the terror of a commercial plan crash and a mysterious island filled with characters with secrets captivated us. The quick pace of the pilot made us comfortable with the large ensemble cast. The foundation of the series was set: every character has a back story, but there are situations where one can erase their past to create a their new future.

In the quest to find a new future, the characters were set against various villains, dangers and unbelievable science bending physics. But we stuck with the characters as the plot lines began to weave, zig, zag and stumble like a 3 a.m. drunk. We felt empathy for the characters because we had glimpses of their vulnerability. We understood most of the them through the flashbacks of events that changed (or hindered) their lives. Many had been on emotional roller coasters, only to wind up on a wilder island ride.

But the writers were not as transparent as most wanted them to be. When you create a mystery, viewers expected an answer. (Note: even if the answer did not make sense.) When a character betrays another, you expect a complete explanation. When a character changes sides, we would like to know the reason why.

 Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction. The 6th season lost most viewers because the show runners had not been fully honest when they boasted from the beginning that they had the story fully worked out to the end. The hard dead lines and tangential plot lines that added confusion instead of Easter eggs led to a vocal minority saying "they are making it up as they go."  That complaint stings when you network has positioned the series as one of the greatest television events of all time.

The fast forward, sideways world still bothers most people. It does not have any unification, pairing or sound construction to the original story line. If you would have eliminated it in its entirety, it would not have had a great impact on the resolution of the island story lines. Instead, it caused more problems than solutions.

LOST was an original series that lost its way about halfway through its run. If the writers had kept to the original story principles instead of shooting for dramatic filler and strange plot twists, it could have been a more authentic classic.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

SUNNY DAYS


In the upcoming horror film “House of the Disappeared,” actress Kim Yun-jin portrays a mother fiercely protective of her children, inside a house that appears to be haunted by uneasy spirits.

She plays two versions of her character Mi-hee -- as a 40-something housewife, and a much older, grey-haired woman who has lost her children through unexplainable causes.

The younger Mi-hee has already been through a lot at the start of the film, having lost her first husband to heart disease and putting up with a second husband who has alcohol and rage issues.

“Simply put, she’s a strong woman,” Kim told The Korea Herald.

Kim animatedly described her role, one that she felt was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“At the same time, I tried to express her younger self as somewhat unknowing, despite her hardships, to highlight the gap between her and her older self,” she said.

Being able to display a rich range of emotions of a multifarious character -- from the confused mother to the terrified woman, and later in the film, an ill, grief-stricken ex-prisoner -- was fulfilling, she said.

“When else would I have the opportunity to lead a film with this kind of female character?”

It has been more than a decade since Kim came into international fame with the character Sun in the smash-hit US drama series “Lost,” which aired on ABC from 2004 to 2010. Since then, she has been among the few Korean entertainers -- alongside actor Lee Byung-hun -- to be active in both the US and Korea.

Kim says she is still in awe of the monumental status that “Lost” came to occupy on American TV. The show was a pioneer, one of the first to shed light on actors of different ethnicities, she said.

“It was a brave, but also very intelligent decision on the part of J. J. Abrams,” she said, referring to the show’s creator and renowned director who has helmed films such as “Armageddon” (1998) and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013).

After “Lost,” iconic multi-ethnic shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Heroes” followed, Kim pointed out.

The Character of Sun on LOST continues to have steady international work but tells of differences between filming roles in the United States and in Korea.



Maintaining a firm foundation in the Korean film scene helped her US activities, in terms of both experience and recognition, she said. Before heading to Hollywood, Kim had taken up significant roles in major Korean films such as “Shiri” (1999). Her filmography has come to encompass thrillers such as “Seven Days” (2008) and family dramas such as “Ode to My Father” (2014).

“Producers have to pay attention to the Asian market as well,” she said, in an age when TV shows are streamed internationally.

Having had the opportunity to work in two countries, Kim noted several differences.

“There are more roles that portray females as strong, warrior-like figures in the US,” she said. “There is a larger scope (for acting).”

But the most prominent difference is the age of the production crew and staff members, she said.

“In the US, my makeup artist was an elderly lady. She would put on my eyeliner using reading glasses. It’s something unimaginable in Korea.”

Kim called for better working conditions on Korean sets for the production crew. “That kind of experience can’t be bought. We need to let people feel like (working on a film crew) is a lifelong job. I think that will lead to the development of Korean cinema as well.”

The tendency to spotlight male characters as leads “is the same everywhere,” Kim said.

Since she was a young student growing up in New York after her family emigrated there in 1980, the actress, now 43, has been ruggedly pursuing the craft of acting.

Desperate for the stage, she would get up at 5 a.m. every day to ride the ferry from her home in Staten Island to Manhattan, transfer to a bus, and then take the subway to attend the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Adhering to a strict schedule has become ingrained in her even when off set.

“I have unlimited energy in the mornings,” she said. “I so wanted to go to that school. It was something that was only possible as a kid completely obsessed with acting.”

With over 20 years of experience, the seasoned actress still goes through grueling auditions when pilot season dawns in Los Angeles -- and she still grapples with difficulties.

“‘La La Land’ is no exaggeration,” Kim said, referring to the recent film on struggling performers. “There have been times when casting directors were talking loudly on the phone right outside the room where I was auditioning,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

But always craving her next gig, Kim hopes to fly back to LA once promotions for “House of the Disappeared” wrap up. “That’s my plan, at least. I still have a lot of hunger for acting and good roles.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

DARK MATTER WAVES

Physics is speeding toward finding theoretical particles and answers to universal questions.

Black holes are the dense gravitational objects that capture to not let light out. Scientists have found the mysterious "god particle," and evidence of gravitational waves (disruptions of the space-time) near black holes. The missing piece is called dark matter, which theorists believe makes up most of the gravity element in the universe. How all three of these things interact with each other is still not understood.

When most people think of time, it is a linear concept. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years . . .  a progression moving forward in an aging process.

When some scientists think of time, they think of it as a coordinate in space which could theoretically manipulated like folding origami paper. The sci-fi community knows this concept as "warp drive."

In order to conquer the vastness of space, physical propulsion will not work because the human life span will not allow deep space exploration. Brilliant minds insist there has to be another wave.

Tapping into the largest "resource" in space would help solve a propulsion question. If the universe is made up of mostly gravity. And if gravitational waves can be equated with waves on our oceans, it is possible that there may be deep space gravitational "currents" which can accelerate ships at great speeds across the galaxies.

Alien seed theorists believe that advanced humanoid races seeded the universe with proto-humans to allow them to evolve into civilizations. One could assume that enlightened elders would give their offspring the tools to solve complex problems - - - by applying known concepts and experiences to hypothetical problems. Therefore, the concepts of ships navigating on ocean currents can be an analogy to solve space travel. You just need to find comparable elements.

For if gravitational waves can be harnessed, then the concept of space time can be changed to artificially elongate human life spans. A human with an average life expectancy of 75 years could go through space time travel hundreds or thousands of years to experience something not possible from his Earth bound existence. Many theorists think that forward space time travel would be possible; but most think it is a one-way journey to the future.

If we look to the symbols in LOST, we can find some off-beat similarities to modern physics theories. The series "dark matter," was the mysterious black cloud of shifting matter. The Swan station's purpose of holding back a large electromagnetic charge from purple flashing the island can be viewed as a "wave" generator which shifts time and space of island inhabitants. The frozen donkey wheel was one such early generator as it took both Ben and Locke back in time and across the globe. And the island itself is symbolic of a black hole, so unique that it could not be viewed with the naked eye. It took an observation station and precise coordinates to find it.

Taken together, the island could have been a massive space-time travel experiment which may have been abandoned because of its inherit inability to be controlled by man.