Thursday, March 30, 2017


Several theories describe the possibility that LOST was merely a technological construct of digital ties in the brain or brains of the main characters. A neuro-network fused together to share dreams, memories, fears and nightmares. The island story was merely the expunged data of a wired community in a bizarre experiment.

These theories may not be that far fetched after all. Science is continuing to press computer technology to new limits. Currently, it is trying to be integrated more into every person's daily life. From powerful hand held smart phones to wearable technology (like fit bracelets), humans are being merged into data collectors.

Google's Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, who has made 147 predictions since the 1990s and has a success rate of 86 per cent, stated recently in a Daily Mail (UK) article that within the next 12 years the human brain will be directly connected to computers.

Kurzweil says when we live in a cybernetic society we will have computers in our brains and machines will be smarter than human beings.  He claims this is already happening with technology - especially with our addiction to our phones - and says the next step is to wire this technology into our brains.

Technological singularity is when carbon and silicon-based intelligence will merge to form a single global consciousness. "By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence," Kurzweil said in the  interview with SXSW.

He believes that implanting computers in our brains will improve us."We're going to get more neocortex, we're going to be funnier, we're going to be better at music. We're going to be sexier," he said. 

But once computers are integrated directly into a person's brain, people can be networked like machines. The fantasy world of Ghost in the Shell seems to be the premise of this scientific research.  People will have the option of swapping their internal organs with sophisticated machine parts. 

But this begs to ultimate question: would this end our humanity?

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Albert Einstein wrote, "The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."

Monday, March 20, 2017


LOST had many controversial elements. One was that so much of the criminal activity on and off the island was not punished. One could literally get away with mass murder.

In civilized society, the rule of law, a code of right and wrong, is necessary to stop the general public from turning into aggressive savages. In some ways, the island was its own uncivilized society where the normal rules did not apply to the characters.

It is possible to equate this element with a new scientific study which attempts to map "criminal intent" in the brain activity of potential criminals. In order to convict a person of a crime, the prosecution must prove mens rea, or the "intent" to commit the crime. It is done mostly by circumstantial evidence and common sense. For example, if you carry a gun into a store and demand money from the clerk, you are intending to rob the store. Judges and juries often have to gauge a defendant's mental state at the time he or she committed a crime in complex cases or where the defendant may have mental impairment. They have to decide whether a defendant committed a crime "knowingly" or "recklessly." In some cases, the difference could be a matter of life or death.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has turned to the brain to find a basis for this distinction. The researchers were able to find distinct brain activity patterns that revealed whether participants knew they were committing a (virtual) crime or were recklessly taking a risk.

“All the elements of the crime being the same, depending on which mental state the court decides that you were in when you committed the crime, you can get probation or 20 years in jail,” said the study co-author Read Montague,  a neuroscientist at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. “I can't think of anything more important than loss of your liberty, so understanding these distinctions or the subtleties in them is important.”

For this study, 40 participants played a game inside a brain scanner. They had to decide to carry a suitcase that could contain sensitive documents through a maze where they could encounter one or more guards. The number of suitcases and the guards were altered in each round of the game to play with the level of risk the participants had to take.

The researchers used a machine-learning method of data analysis that looks at activity across the entire brain to find patterns. This revealed two activity patterns that corresponded to the conditions in which participants knowingly decided to carry a suitcase containing contraband, or the conditions where the participants made an uncertain but risky choice.

The distinct brain patterns they found suggest that these two legally defined mental states—knowing and reckless—are not arbitrary, but indeed map to different psychological states.

Montague is quick to point out that this study is not something you could use to avoid harsher punishment.

“It has no implications within a courtroom, and probably won't for quite a while,” Montague told  “This is a proof-of-principle study that informs the idea of mental-state distinctions.”

In fact, what neuroscience in general could potentially offer in a courtroom is heavily debated.
Our relatively recent ability to scan the brain and look for otherwise undetectable injuries has raised the idea that neuroscience could be used to inform the circumstances of a criminal case. If you have a brain lesion, after all, your behavior could be profoundly affected.

Taking this scientific study to the LOST world, Dharma was interested in various aspects of brain activity. From manipulation to brain washing, Dharma and Ben used methods to control the Others and the survivors. But it is unknown whether the original Dharma researchers had more civil aspects to their experiments such as finding clues to criminal behavior through tests and brain scans.

In order to get samples from various types of people, it makes sense for the island scientists to bring various people to the island and let the boundaries of civilized society be negated in a new world where basic survival is the only thing that matters. Call it a grand experiment to determine how normal people react in an abnormal environment. And if it was an experiment on how humanity is changed under those circumstances, it would appear the verdict would be that normal people mostly fail both their own moral codes with increased criminal behavior.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


The demise of Charlie was a puzzling development.

Dominic Monaghan’s character was killed off in Season Three by drowning in what amounted to a suicide mission. He died bravely aiding his fellow castaways in their never-ending attempt to get off the bizarre island. Why was this important character killed off?

As with other actors in the series, there may have been contract issues, popularity conflicts or actor's seeking other opportunities. Or, the writers needed to create "drama" to keep viewers watching from week to week. A cull of the main characters was a necessary evil.

When LOST started, Monaghan was in a relationship with his co-star, Evangeline Lily. Lily was a model. She had little acting experience when she was cast as the principal female lead in the show. As it was told from insiders, the original premise of the show had her character, Kate, being the leader of the survivors. Jack was supposed to have been killed off at the end of the pilot episode in order to grab the audience by the throat so prove the island was a dangerous place.

But the producers found Jack's character too appealing to let go so he was given a bigger, the focal role in the show. But Kate was always hanging around Jack as the principal female lead.

During the show, Lily broke up with Monaghan. Some believe it was due to Charlie’s lessening importance as the main character; he had been receiving much less screen time in the season before his demise. It could also stem from jealousy as Lily was receiving much more attention in the press from the beginning than he was - - - and the sudden popularity of the show must have added pressure to succeed.

But how Charlie had to die was maddening plot twist. The hokey idea that the underground station's code was musical notes (which apparently Charlie figured out quickly on his own) made Charlie the main character in that episode. He had to overcome his fear of swimming to dive deep below the water to get to the station. Then he had to fight off dangerous Others to send out a rescue signal. But when he got the message out, an explosion rocked the control room flooding the compartment. Everyone saw that Charlie had time to escape, but he locked the door to prevent the station from flooding or harming Desmond. The last thing Charlie did was receive a message he wrote on his hand: NOT PENNY'S BOAT.  It was a heroic demise when the waters engulfed him at the portal.

But Charlie could have opened the door to let the water rush into the very large open space of the station. He could have made it back to the open hole and swam out of the station. Most fans believed at the time it was an unnecessary character killing. Thus, there is a level of fan suspicion that there was another reason why Charlie left the show.

The character of Charlie had hit a dead end. The relationship with Claire, while special at the start, turning a boring pull-take romance that never got off the ground. Charlie's quest of having a trustworthy family blinded him from his true friendships. He never contributed a major "eureka" moment in the story lines. He was another downtrodden character, the LOST equivalent of a Star Trek red shirt.

We will never know the real reason Charlie got written out of the show. File it under the numerous "more questions than answers" bin.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Korea's LOST TV series, The Missing 9, is a critical panned and low rating series which the reviews continue to gripe about slow plot lines and very little information per episode. Television series are often copied but rarely reproduced to the original's glory.

Now that the American series has been off the air for a long time (and not in syndication), what are the nine characters you miss the most? What character stories have we missed out on?

In no particular order:


There is something about a really good villain. Ben's character had the psychotic twist that made him the most memorable character in the series. Michael Emerson played the role to perfection.  He made a short guest appearance into a long running fan favorite. It also garnered him steady work in subsequent network series (though not to the level of fame as his LOST character).


Locke was the original fan anti-hero. The Locke character was the beaten down average Joe who was looking to something more important to break out of his miserable life. His abandonment and loneliness led to dead end jobs which many people can relate to on a personal level. Terry O'Quinn was able to change his character's emotional state from season to season. He was able to adapt an evil character, Flocke, in order to try to get the series to the finish line. Locke's fate at the hands of Ben was probably the most shocking scene in the series.


Hurley was the comic relief and the audience's eyes and ears in the series.  For a loner, he got along with everyone. But underneath his friendly but shy demeanor lurked his psychological demons, also fed by abandonment issues. Jorge Garcia was the most fan interactive actor in the series, communicating directly with the fans through his blog posts. Hugo could have been a much more complex character, but in an ensemble cast he was the most charismatic of the second tier characters. His centerpiece episodes had tragic comedy aspects.


There are two stark camps on Kate: some loved her and others loathed her. But most would agree that she embodied the spunky, independent, funny, tomboyish girl-next-door woman that most men find extremely appealing - - -  to the point of being hurt by her selfish betrayals. Kate was the most attractive character because her charm, guile and persistence made her the best at the game of survival. Evangeline Lilly may have not been the most accomplished actress in the series, but she maintained a level gritty determination that made her a likeable character. The problem some people had with her character was the poor to unbelievable story lines (especially once she left the island).


Eloise Hawking may not be on the top list of main characters, but we miss the point that she always knew more about what was happening than we, the viewers, would ever be told. In that regard, we miss the opportunity to learn more about the island mythology and secrets. Fionnula Flanagan played her mysterious mean character in a subdued fashion which increased her evil quota by ten fold. We only got a glimpse of her back story when she was a young islander. She should have had a flashback to explain her relationship with Mr. Hawking and Daniel's upbringing to be sacrificed for the island. One could easily suspect she could have been the continuation of the Crazy Mom who stole Jacob and MIB from their mother or an advanced smoke monster  - - - which would have answered one of the confusing mysteries: what is a smoke monster?


Sawyer was the protagonist who got under everyone's skin. He was the charming con-man who had a cruel streak. He had a sense of humor, but usually directed at the flaws of other people (like Hurley). He was one of the few characters that actually changed during the course of the series. His growth into a competent adult from a bitter, vengeful child was a testament to Josh Holloway's ability to evoke emotions by mere facial expressions. His character's story had the most open ended possibilities, especially when the plane took off with the final survivors. Instead of the flash sideways world, we missed out on what would have happened when Sawyer returned home - - - what would he have done, and who would he have partnered with?


For a minor character, flight attendant Cindy is still the major prize in the claw machine that we cannot capture. Cindy is like a codex to unravel the island mysteries. She gave Jack the extra liquor bottles which were important to him after the crash to be an antiseptic to his wounds. She was also the one who gathered and protected the children from the Others and later, Flocke's killing spree. Kimberly Joseph's portrayal of Cindy was subdued but important clue. Was she an Other planted on Flight 815 in order "mark" the survivors for Jacob? This would mean she would have had direct access to Jacob which Ben did not. Or was Cindy merely a nice woman who quickly adapted to an unbelievable situation with maternal instincts so strong that she kept Emma and Zach from harm. Or, like Eloise, was she a continuation of Crazy Mom, an island smoke monster or a different guardian angel?


 Walt's ticket off the island was a growth spurt in real life. Malcolm David Kelley  literally outgrew his part! But Walt had abilities that were not fully developed or explained in the series. He could have had a major role (even more important than Hurley being the fan's representative in the show). Just as the Others were interested in Walt and his abilities, so were we. We saw Walt adapting to a "normal" life as a student living with his grandmother. It was a sense of normalcy that Locke could not bring himself to try to get Walt back to the island. In another story flaw, the rule was that everyone had to return in order for the mission to succeed. Without Walt, everyone did get back to the island. But if Walt was supposed to be the keystone - - - who took his place in the final showdown. Apparently, it was Desmond, whose anticlimax "superpowers" was a final season head scratching moment.


Of the Other 48 characters, Eko had the biggest presence. A contract dispute with producers led to Adewale Akinnoye-Agbaje's early departure from the show. Eko's character had the inner conflict between redemption and rage. If there was a character who was living in a recognized purgatory, it was Eko. We got a good understanding of his character's pain with his gangster flashback which caused the anchor of guilt on his brother's murder hanging over his head for the rest of his life. Eko's complex emotional state of adopting a religious penance while defiant in accepting his fate was perfectly exposed when he was killed by the smoke monster. If Eko had stayed on the show, it would have missed a great show down between Eko, Jack and Flocke for the leadership of the island survivors.

Now, some may ask why not any of the other main characters like Jack, Desmond, Charlie, Michael, Sun, Jin, Claire or Shannon? Everyone has their opinion on how important each character's story and development was to the overall affect on the series. But in this column, the idea is simply which characters and their story potential do you miss the most. In my view, if you had to re-boot LOST with just nine (9) characters, I would choose Ben, Locke, Hugo, Kate, Eloise, Sawyer, Cindy, Walt and Eko. It would make a dynamic, complex character driven show.