Setapp Apps

A year has passed and I find myself once again in possession of the question: should I renew my setapp? Unfortunately, the question comes at a very busy time in my life, so I let it auto-renew rather than parcel out what I use and buying licenses for just those. However! This year! I promise I will get through these apps and write reviews on them! And then you can see if Setapp is right for you, too.

Windows users need not apply. (Sorry.)

Obligatory, here’s my Setapp referral link – you get a free month, I get a free month. I’ll tag this series as ‘Setapp Reviews”.

the desert

You swim from the afternoon to the evening. It’s not a city known for its beaches, but there is a harbor, and you can get out the beach towels, the sun hats, the big dark glasses. You can sit on the dock and you can watch the water.

You’re better at swimming this time around, and the water is in your ears, and your hair, and you taste salt and seawater. Vildas is here, and you can understand him, abyssal words filtered through to understanding in your pointy ears. You talk about beginnings; when you were growing up in the desert, in the temple. There are no insects in the desert; here in the city, gnats and flies are everywhere, clustering where people are, to leach from them, a closed ecosystem. In the city, it’s short grasses and flies and people, all sorts of people, and an occasional horse. There are rocks, but they’re all hewn and made into something; there are no ancient things here.

At home, there are cave systems — you explain the differences between stalactites and stalagmites, and it’s a little hard navigating between Common and Abyssal here, especially while you’re trying to concentrate on swimming. Rocks all have a story to tell, and you only have to pick one up to learn it. 

Anyone who isn’t looking might think the desert is barren and empty, but you know all of the desert’s rumors. Shifting sands reveal different plants; be careful where you step because you might be smashing a burrow, full of a fennec fox or scorpions. Fifty-fifty, really.  

When the fog passes over the mountains, the nets above the temple take the moisture in, and condense into water that you used to grow your crops, to drink from, to take showers with. A luxury! Cities form around water, around rivers, but in the desert there is only the moon, and the fog over the mountains, and the sand. Cacti are more hydrated than the soil they grow in, and that’s how you learned to live.

Vildas listens to your beginnings, your environment, and tells you, a little haltingly, of his: my city has no name. My beginnings have no name and it takes you a little to realize that it means that — they don’t exist anymore, that they have — died? Disappeared? You don’t know, and it’s not something you want to ask. He talks about an underwater city, of how he got the scar on his face, raised and — You wouldn’t call it ugly. Just — It is a painful memory. But it is not even that anymore — sometimes you take trauma, and you try to sort it out in your mind, turning it over and over again in your head that the edges become worn, until it is less painful. Not that it hurt any less, but that it doesn’t hurt any more. My father has no name: I have my family still. My beginnings have no name: I look toward the future. 

The moon is the same in all the skies. Lights up the desert and the ocean the same. In your temple, there is a — sacred sentence for this, a proverb. “The future is bright, and it is shining, and it is for everyone.” A year ago, you could hardly believe that there were things beyond the desert. Today, you have gotten used to the green, and you yearn for the yellow of the desert. Not everyone is the same, not everything is the same. But there is a kernel of likeness in all of us: all things strive to go forward.

In the desert, storms can be dry; no rain, just lightning and thunder. You see the lightning first; sparks up the sky. And then you wait, measuring your breath, nice and easy. To see how far away the storm is; you can always feel the electricity on your skin, goosebumps sparking to life. In the ocean, the lightning strikes more powerfully: more amperes per strike, more dangerous if you’re on the surface. In the desert, it starts wildfires. But it lights up the sky the same. The moon is the same in every sky. 

Ann Arbor District Library Essay

Have you been to your local library lately? Maybe you don’t think it has very much to offer you. Maybe you’re weighed down by the memory of long-overdue books and library fines. Or you never even got a library card! All you need to get a library card or to erase your library fines is to walk into any of the Ann Arbor District Library’s five branches and talk to a librarian. For those who don’t think there’s much for them at the library, let this essay convince you otherwise.

Our library offers a myriad of events for the public. Just in the next week, there’s Drawing for Adults on Sunday, an ongoing event series where you can try out different styles of art. It’s at the Downtown Library in the Secret Lab from 3pm to 5pm, and the topic is watercolors. Or, if you’re not quite in that age range, you can head over to the Westgate Branch for Preschool Storytime for stories and songs fro 11am to 11:30am, as long as you’re two to five years old and accompanied by an adult. If you or someone you know is learning English as a second language, there’s a conversation group to help you out on Monday, meeting at the Pittsfield branch from 1pm to 2:30pm. Or maybe you’d like to do a craft on Monday — check out Polymer Clay Gnomes at Traverwood. It’s a craft best suited for elementary school students, says its event page, and it’s from 2pm to 3pm. Or there’s Frostings, Icings, Fillings and Glazes with Keegan Rodgers, a hands-on workshop from 7pm to 8:30pm at the downtown library — it’s a craft that you can eat! You can always find a calendar of upcoming events at whatever local library is closest to you, or you can check the constantly-updating! On the website, events are searchable by location, age range, and type of event. There’s also series of events, such as the Emerging Writer’s Workshop that meets every other Monday at the Westgate branch from 7pm to 9pm, that has been going on for years. There’s computer classes and author events and contests — and the best part is, they’re all free, with supplies provided! 

Everyone knows that you can check out books from the library, but there’s so much more that you can check out at the Ann Arbor District Library. There’s a collection of 3657 free music downloads you can get at the library, for example! The library also has audiobooks — 13358 of them, to be exact, perfect for reading in the car on a long road trip or for when your hands need to do other things than hold a book, or for blind or dyslexic patrons, or people who learn better when they listen. You can also check out art prints from the library — they’re already framed up and ready to go, all you have to provide is the wall to put them on. Choose from 662 different art prints, and if you can’t pick just one, put another on hold. Looking for a little less variety? The library also has 18 different board games available to check out, including giant Jenga, giant  chess and checkers, and a miniature ping-pong table. Do you need a specialized tool to measure something but hate spending money on something you only need to use once? Check out the library’s collection of 276 tools to see if they have it first. They’ve got a thermal leak detector, an energy meter, and an indoor air quality meter to start you off with. AADL’s tools are divided into four categories: art, home, music, and science. Lastly, if you just don’t have space for real books right now, or if you keep losing them and racking up huge library fines, you can check out ebooks and e-audiobooks from the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services — just sign into the website with your library card number and start checking out whatever you like. You can even download books for your Kindle! Or, if you prefer to read on your phone, which is terrible for your eyes but very convenient, you can also download the app Libby for reading — via your ears or your eyes! — on the go. 

Lastly, the library itself provides free study spaces and meeting rooms for people who need to get out of the house or don’t have a quiet place available to them. There’s meeting rooms for study groups at the Downtown and Westgate libraries, and there’s study spaces available at all branches – whether in the main library itself or as sectioned-off spaces in the library. At the Pittsfield branch, there is a big science exhibit in the center of the library explaining how the Bernoulli effect works. There are vending machines at all library branches, and the Westgate library even has Sweetwaters cafe there. There’s computers available for anyone to use at all libraries, all you need is a library card or a guest pass. Or if you’ve got your own device, the Ann Arbor District Library has the fastest internet in town due to its fiber-optic connection, and it’s free! A librarian can help you with a research paper, a job application, or they can just teach you how to use the library.

In conclusion, there’s so many different things that the Ann Arbor District Library can offer you. For some you need a library card, which is free, but for most, you can just show up. There are many different sorts of events for all sorts of people. There are so many different things to check out at the library, so that you are no longer limited to merely books. Additionally, there are many services that the library and your local librarian offers. I hope that this essay has opened your eyes to the many different ways you can use your library!

Trolling Online Thoughts

Why have trolls emerged?  What does their existence say about our culture as we watch, follow and “retweet”?

Trolls have emerged because online, social sanctions that humanity has relied on and developed for centuries, exist less. On the internet, there is a screen of anonymity, as well as less immediately visible consequences for your actions. Trolls themselves might not be the worst, but the way they present themselves online is. Their existence says that we feel freer to take on a persona online, to temporarily step into someone else, because there are no consequences ‘in the real world’. Additionally, trolls invoke ‘shock value’, and occasionally become popular because of their trolling. Which seems like a pretty negative part of our culture.

Milo Yiannopoulous, who was recently banned from Twitter after trolling SNL’s Leslie Jones, made the following statement about the role of trolls on the internet. “The space we’re making for others to be bolder in their speech is some of the most important work being done today.  The trolls are the only people telling the truth.”   Do you agree or disagree?   Use one of the examples from the article in your answer for support.

I think that the space we are making for people to be bolder in their speech is some very important work. The most radical of ideas can only come when people can speak. However, there is a difference between a rape/death threat and saying something like, “Trans people also deserve rights”. It is the responsibility of the moderators of a service to police and sieve out which bold speeches are valid and which should be banned. Saying a that Leslie Jones is a “black dude” and telling your fans to go harass her, is certainly a bold type of speech, that can only be done in a space such as Twitter. But should that space be protected? No.

With freedom of speech being one of the bedrocks of our democratic republic, how do we a nation reconcile and police the borderline hate speech rants of some trolls with one’s right to freedom of speech?  Use one of the examples from the article in your answer for support.

Free speech is the right to express any opinions without censorship from the government. First of all, hate speech is not protected under free speech, and the inability to use and access an internet service such as Twitter or YouTube is not a violation of this amendment, because Twitter and YouTube are not the government. I’m really glad that the article repeatedly refers to Twitter as a ‘service’ rather than a platform. 

What is one of the counter-trolling strategies suggested in the article?  Do you believe it is or can be affective?

One of the strategies as outlined in this article suggests sending messages of kindness to people who are being subjected to trolling. I don’t think that this is very efficient, because the human brain always picks out the things that went wrong or were bad about an experience (in order to avoid making those same ‘mistakes’ in the future). Another counter-trolling measure proposed by Emily May with her service Hollaback!, posts photos of men who harass women on the street in order to name and shame them, is a more effective strategy. I think that people who attend Nazi rallies should be photographed and the internet should publish their names, so that they can be avoided. 

thoughts on Supreme Court judges

The best advantage for supreme court judges is that they are uniquely positioned to defend the constitutions and help overcome the tyranny of the majority. Because they are not elected, just appointed by the Senate, they cannot make decisions based on the wishes of the public; as the right decision is sometimes neither easy nor popular. Federal judges also don’t have to worry about raising campaign money to fund their re-election and to keep their jobs, due to their appointments.

Some disadvantages for supreme court judges being appointed rather than elected is that judges are selected ‘behind closed doors with no accountability’, or so it can feel like to the public. The news following our most recent appointment of judges happened very publicly, although with not much accountability. Life appointments mean that a judge, once elected, decide when their job ends, not anybody else. If a judge is appointed to the Supreme Court, the only way to get rid of them is to impeach them because of those lifetime appointments. Lastly, a disadvantage of having lifetime appointments for Supreme Court judges is that the world changes, and the judges do not change with it.

Disruptive Technology: A Blessing and a Curse essay thoughts

I read the essay “Disruptive Technology: A Blessing and a Curse”, by David Sweanor. This essay is about three pieces of disruptive technologies that changed the world to be as we know it today. Those three technologies are the automatic cigarette rolling machine and the refrigerator, and following in the same vein as the former, e-cigarettes. The essay highlights that the rise of the automatic cigarette rolling machine killed many people via the rise of lung cancer while the refrigerator saved many people via the significant drop in stomach cancer, and that the author thinks that the e-cigarette might save people much in the same way refrigeration and the automatic cigarette rolling machine did, by disrupting the face of technology as we know it.

This essay successfully uses ethos, an appeal to credibility, by using a lot of facts and numbers and statistics, such as in this sentence: “Combusting (i.e. burning) of tobacco is the culprit in the vast majority of tobacco deaths, with inhaled toxic smoke and carbon monoxide projected to kill 5.8 million US children alive today and 480,000 adults annually.”. This essay successfully uses pathos, an appeal to emotions, with this: “While it might be hard to envision a nicotine market that is not dominated by cigarettes, it is really no different than, pre-Bonsack, envisioning a market that is. Or, indeed, a world where phones are not attached to wires, books don’t necessarily involve paper, messages are sent without the need for postage stamps, taking pictures does not require film and automobiles can run without burning petroleum.” Since we now live in a world where all these technologies are possible and commonplace, the author tries to appeal to our sense that soon it will be silly to not think of e-cigarettes in the same way; an appeal to our humor. 

Since I am a person who was born after the 1990s, cigarette smoking has never been a cultural part of my life, and I don’t remember a time when everybody was smoking cigarettes. Anybody still talking about cigarettes seems very old to me; all my friends who smoke use e-cigarettes, so this essay’s speculations already seem like a foregone conclusion to me. 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari thoughts

“The Unchained Camera” episode of “Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood” uses clips, narration and interviews to provide us with a sense of German cinema from the late teens to the late 1920s. What are the particular strengths of German cinema of that period?

Instead of dealing with ‘outer’ conflict, like war or divorce or being kidnapped, expressionist films deal with ‘inner conflict’. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari deals with madness, or insanity. It doesn’t show the world as it is, but rather as how it’s perceived. Or not even how it’s perceived, but as the main character’s inner state is. The mood of Germany in the 1920s was one of anxiety, dread, and horror; the government was in shambles and the country was crushed by the debt of reparations for World War I. Expressionist cinema narrows in on self-reflection and identity, something lots of Germans were thinking about at the time.

 The textbook and lecture consider “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” to be a prime example of German Expressionist cinema.  Describe some of its Expressionist elements.  

First of all, the set looks like the background of the painting The Scream. Everything is disjointed and crooked, to put the viewer on edge. It’s an “emotionally intense creative distortion” (Mast and Kawin) of the world. It’s not just that the people are acting strangely; it’s that the world itself is out of sorts. German expressionism explored the Feelings of Germany at the time, including isolation (helped along by Germany banning all non-German films!), alienation, madness, and betrayal. Francis feels alienated and isolated because of his conclusions about Dr. Caligari, and the entire narrative betrays us about whether or not the film’s plot is true!

The acting style of the film is often discussed. What do you think of it, especially that of Caligari and of Cesare?

I have a lot of trouble reading facial expressions, so I’m not sure how helpful I’ll be. Since the lighting in the film makes faces appear very bright and white, any darker elements on the actor’s faces are highlighted and seem exaggerated. Cesare has dark circles painted under his eyes and he’s usually under-lit, making his expressions, even when they are neutral, seem monstrous but also performative. Francis always seems over-eager or nervous in everything he does, but there is foreshadowing? in the way that he seems to go everywhere with his coat hanging over him, instead of with his arms in the sleeves; he’s not all the way put together. 

Do you know any later films that seem influenced by “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”? If so, cite specific influences.

This is probably indirect or unintentional, but The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari reminded me a lot of Coraline. The set design, the everything-slightly crooked or slightly-weird, reminded me of the Coraline Other Mother sets. It also reminds me of Pi (1994) because of its use of ‘zooming in’ on parts of the screen to emphasize scenes or expressions. (An ‘iris shot’!) Further research says that this is an old-fashioned way of filming, even by 1920, but this was really my first encounter with it. Also! While I’ve never seen Edward Scissorhands, even I am familiar enough with it to realize that Cesare and the titular Edward share many visual similarities. Long and gangly and dark.

 On pages 106-108, the textbook explains the screenwriters had written an ending showing a less kindly Caligari and were displeased with the film’s ending. What’s your view?

If Francis is really the insane one, why, when we return to the ‘real’ world, does everything not assert itself into a pattern of normality? If the distortion and crookedness of the world is the same in both the fantasy and the reality, what’s the truth? Why did they build their insane asylum to be so crooked? I like the idea of the ‘twist’ of the film, but I kind of think it’s a way to wiggle out of the consequences of the movie. The story doesn’t really matter, like in Alice in Wonderland, because ‘it was all just a dream’. So why is it being told? When I watched the Cinema Europe clips of the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and it told me the twist ahead of time, that Francis was the insane one all along, I thought he would be the killer as well. If none of it was ‘real’ within the context of the film… it just seems pointless. Like there’s no consequences. 

Have you any other thoughts about “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” you’d like to share?

I watched this film twice so I could stop repeating “it was just really cool”. The sets!!! The sets are my favorite thing.  (If you couldn’t tell.) Also, “Cinematic Mistake” is the name of my next band. I finished watching this for the second time about an hour and a half ago and I still feel kind of anxious in my heart and throat. If the ‘point’ of film is to elicit emotion, “the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” definitely did for me.

thoughts on early films

Hey everyone! My name is Lat, and I’m studying computer science. I like film a lot, especially weird art films that my friends fall asleep during. My favorite film of all time is “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”. It’s an Iranian film styled after my favorite director, Jim Jarmusch, except with less weird sexism.

I’m not sure what I expected from early films, honestly. I kind of knew that early film would have been based off of theater productions, with the fixed-in-one-place shot/view. I didn’t expect that so many things had been made already that were film-like. When you’re looking back on how technology has progressed, it seems natural that it has progressed that way, but when it’s new, it’s very shiny and magical. Of course all of these inventions like kinetiscopes and such happened and then film-as-a-medium happened, of course QWERTY phones happened and capacitative touch screens were used frequently before the iPhone was made. I also thought it was really cool and unexpected that people frequently hand-painted their films!

The Lumiere brothers contributed their combination camera and projector called the Cinematographe in 1895. Auguste Lumier and his brother, Louis, drew inspiration from Thomas Edison’s Kinetiscope camera, which had been invented in 1891. However, their Cinematographe cut down on the time needed to make a film. It was also lighter and more compact than the Kinetiscope camera. The Lumiere brothers also made a film, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory which they screened publicly at L’Eden.

One of the terms I didn’t know about in film was the word ‘diegetic’, which is sound in a film that can logically be heard by a character within the film environment. It might be background noise, traffic, or regular dialogue. Nondiegetic noise is sound which can not be logically heard by a character within the film environment. The most-often cited example of this is a musical score. Lastly, there’s internal diegetic, which is sound which only one character can hear, while others cannot. The best example of this is when Harry Potter was hearing the Parseltongue of the Basilisk speaking to only him in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The Lumieres’ films tended towards more everyday occurrences, similar to home movies. Edison’s films seemed to be based more around a more artsy play. The Lumieres’ films were filmed outdoors, whereas Edison’s films were mainly indoors. Edison’s films were High Art, Serious Feats of Engineering. The Lumieres’ films were for everyone. 

I’m excited to start this semester and learn more about film across decades and continents. I want to learn about the history of film that I might otherwise miss as a casual film viewer. Most of all, I want to talk about films with other people and Think about them harder. Also, I intend to eat a lot of popcorn over the course of this class. 

Inquiry Project

Hello! Welcome to my Inquiry Project presentation. My project is about stories about children who do not look like the Pevensies (white, able-bodied, living in England during World War II) going on magical adventures in magical lands. It’s important for children of every sort to see themselves in fantasy books and imagine themselves going to fantasy worlds, even though the sliding glass door in this case might have to stay firmly as a fictional one.

In this project, I would have students break into five groups (possibly divided by reading level, or have them choose which book they wanted to read) and read one of five books: Aru Shah and the End of Time (yellow), Dragons in A Bag (purple), Breadcrumbs (green), Midsummer’s Mayhem (blue), or Furthermore (red).

In Aru Shah and the End of Time, the titular Aru Shah goes on a magical journey through the Kingdom of Death with her soul sister, Mini, to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers from the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata. I compiled some questions to ask during the book club, and a project to do before or after reading the book; a presentation about Who’s Who in Hindu mythology!

In Dragons in a Bag, Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady who turns out to be a witch, who needs his help transporting baby dragons to a magical world, using the magical Guardhouse, which can take you anywhere in space or time. There’s some questions for the book club here, and at the end of the book club, there’s a short project based on imagination about what might be in your own bag (including but not limited to dragons).

In Furthermore, Alice goes from one magical world to a wholly different magical world, Ferenwood, one that is only a myth, to find her father. In the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be right and very, very, wrong, Alice learns how to find herself, and how to be different in a way that she can live with, never mind everyone else. After the book club, students will learn how to make an origami fox (the villain and/or helper from Ferenwood) and discuss what role the fox played in the story, as well as inventing their own Furthermore village.

In Breadcrumbs, Hazel goes on a magical adventure in the woods to rescue her friend Jack, in a reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”. There’s a number of projects for students to choose from after reading this book, including reading the original Snow Queen and making a chart of the connections between the Snow Queen and Breadcrumbs.

In Midsummer’s Mayhem, Mimi is drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, and these woods seem more magical than usual. In a retelling of Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mimi uncovers the mystery behind the magical woods and the mischief that’s going on in her own life. This book has a strong emphasis on food, and one of the activities after is to make the recipes from the back of the book, and to use descriptive words to describe those treats or your favorite treat.