The well-known fantasy artist Dave Dorman paints an Alien queen live on Facebook.

Lately, one of my favorite things to do is to check out art demo videos on the internet.

It’s always fascinating to watch someone who’s an expert at something do their thing in real time, particularly in creative pursuits. Often, when a person encounters a work of art, it’s in the context of a final, finished work. Perhaps it hangs in a gallery, or appears on a book cover, or perhaps in a magazine or in an advertisement. And of course, I always enjoy seeing finished works. But it can obscure the fact that reality has a surprising amount of detail, and just having a look at the finished work (particularly if it’s a reproduction, and not the original) doesn’t reveal the process by which the work came to be. Why did they make this decision? How did that detail get made? Where were the mistakes or the false starts?

When I was a kid, the only time you’d ever get to see artists actually producing work was if you took a class, or you watched Bob Ross (or his many imitators) on PBS. Thankfully, in this day and age, we can often get a much richer experience of an artist’s creative process.

A quick YouTube search turns up a zillion tutorial videos on any number of topics, in whatever medium you like.  Like this fellow doing a portrait in oils:

Or maybe you like digital paintings? I know I do. There is a whole genre of videos called “Speed Painting,” which can be amazing; you get a time-lapse of a whole work coming together:

Painting not your thing? Why not check out a sculpture video?

Maybe you’d like to hear the artists talking about the techniques as the work unfolds?

Perhaps there is a particular style or artist you are fond of, and you’d like to learn more about how they made their works.

No matter what kind of art you’re into, there’s someone making videos showing off how they do it. That’s why it’s become one of my favorite ways to spend some time; you can get art lessons from all across the world, in any style or medium you like, at a moment’s notice. The whole world is your art teacher.

Do this: Right now, take out your smartphone (presuming you use one that runs iOS or Android.)  Go to your app store of choice (or just follow this link) and install an app called Signal.  It’s free.  It costs you nothing.  But one day, it may help you in ways you cannot yet foresee.

Signal is a privacy and security app that replaces your built-in SMS/text message software.  It seamlessly handles your text messages for you, just like you’re used to now.  But as an added bonus, it automatically encrypts texts that you send to other Signal users.  The software uses end-to-end encryption to ensure nobody can eavesdrop on your texts.  That includes the people who make the software, the NSA, the FBI, the phone company, your tricky hacker kids, the people sniffing your wi-fi at the Starbucks, and everyone else in the world.  It means you can rest assured your private communications STAY PRIVATE.

In addition to encrypted texts, you can also use Signal to make encrypted phone calls, video calls, and picture messages.  It’s open-source, so it’s been peer-reviewed by the cybersecurity community.  It’s dead simple; easy enough that anyone can use it effectively.  And did I mention that it’s free?

Look, it’s 2017.  Donald Trump is going to be inaugurated as President of the United States on Friday, at which point, the controls of the most sophisticated surveillance apparatus in the entirety of human history will be at the disposal of a thin-skinned, sociopathic demagogue.  18 months from now, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you you’re asking, “Why didn’t I think of encrypting my communications sooner?”  And even if you’re a straight shooter who never does a single thing wrong, and never wants to privately express controversial opinions, you should still use Signal to secure your communications.  What if you are, or know, a journalist, an activist, or a protester who fears being targeted for retribution or censorship?  What if you need to pass sensitive financial information to your accountant, or your lawyer, or your family?  Are you going to PGP-encrypt your emails?  If you’re like most people the answer is no; PGP-encrypted emails still frustrate even sophisticated techies.  Don’t make it hard on yourself, when Signal is so easy to use.

Edward Snowden recommends using Signal, and he’s the kind of guy who has to worry about assassination attempts by state-level adversaries.  World-renowned security researcher Bruce Schneier recommends it.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation recommends it.  I recommend it.  It costs you nothing, and it could one day protect you from fraud, scams, and theft.  It may one day save your life or the life of someone you care about.  Go install it now.  Seriously.

 I’m about 400 pages deep into a book about rationality and improving your cognitive functionality, so I figured, what the heck, let’s look at what contemporary christians think are their most convincing arguments. Also, I was out of horror movies to watch, and I had a few drinks in me.

So the story is essentially thus: A kid is a freshman in college, and signs up for an introductory undergrad philosophy class. The teacher of said class, as he is passing out his syllabus, says that everyone has to sign a piece of paper saying that “God’s Dead”, or else suffer dire consequences. Everyone signs except for our hero, who is then told he has to convince his class of 40 or so kids that god exists, or else he fails (or, as the movie repeatedly insists upon, “commits academic suicide”). Add in a few insipid side stories, and you can imagine how plot goes from there.

I was extremely disappointed in this movie, I have to say. I mean, it’s just a jumble of weird christian fantasies about what they imagine atheists must be like. The epistemology is not just flawed, it’s more like a melange of lousy justifications for a foregone conclusion — oh, gosh, doesn’t the Big Bang theory sound just like the account of creation in Genesis? No? Well, here’s an appeal to authority. Not buying that? Maybe you’d prefer to believe that atheists are all just secretly angry with God. Etc.  It’s like a 90-minute live-action Chick tract.

Every character a caricature. Every plotline a melodrama. And the whole thing ends with all the newly-saved freshmen attending a christian rock concert en masse, where they all text everyone in their phonebooks with the message “God’s Not Dead”. As the credits roll, the audience of the film is encouraged to do the same. Because, you know, get on the bandwagon.  From beginning to end, it’s a cavalcade of bad logic, fallacious reasoning, wishful thinking and offensive stereotypes of all kinds.

But ultimately, it comes down to this: I’ve been in my fair share of undergrad philosophy courses. I’m fairly confident that nobody involved in the making of this movie can say the same thing. Philosophy professors are really, really lousy villains in real life.

“God’s Not Dead” on IMDB.com

Good stuff.

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On a warm day in April 2013, I was sitting in a friend’s kitchen in Paris, trying to engineer serendipity. I was trying to get my…

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New Cannibal Ox track from their upcoming “Blade of the Ronin” album. Featuring MF DOOM, too. Pretty good, I have to say!

Purchase “Blade of the Ronin” on iTunes Now: http://bit.ly/1Cez3MB As Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, collectively known as Cannibal Ox, prepare for the release of their highly-anticipated sophomore alb

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Liquid Slam?! AWESOME!

Liquid Slam’s ad campaign for their “Big Game” line of snacks and sugary beverages was pulled almost immediately. Directed by – Dez Dolly Follow: @dezdolly E…

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Just mail in your photos. They’ll post them for you.

Television commercial for The Facebook from the mid-90s.

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He Took His Skin Off For Me from Ben Aston on Vimeo.

More romantic than you’d expect.

Back in 2013 we posted about “He Took His Skin Off For Me,” a strange short film by Ben Aston about a man who removes his skin in an effort to please his girlfriend. At the time, the film was in pr…

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Taken from ‘Sour Soul’, the new album by BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah. Released February 24th US & CA / February 23rd UK on Lex Records & Eone Music (Can…

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Oh, man, I wish there was some kind of portable rig for this kind of thing. So interesting.

We have featured Nobumichi Asai’s real-time face tracking an projection mapping in the past. Asai and his team are back with yet another fascinating video. Mapping a highly detailed projection on to any surface can be a challenge…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGI4oz1QnZo

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