HMS Black Joke Seems Like A Hollywood Film Waiting To Be Written

HMS Black Joke (1827).jpg
via Wikipedia

I read about this historic ship today, built in Baltimore in the 1820s, used to transport slaves to Bahia, Brazil for a few years before the British Navy captured it. It was a fast, small and fierce ship, so they kept it in service as a slaver catcher.
From 1828 until it was decommissioned in 1832, HMS Black Joke freed thousands of slaves by capturing the boats transporting them.

When the Royal Navy ordered that Black Joke be burned, Peter Leonard, surgeon of HMS Dryad, wrote that she was the ship “which has done more towards putting an end to the vile traffic in slaves than all the ships of the station put together.”

Doesn’t this sound like the plot of a good movie? Maybe starring Idris Elba? Or someone like him in any case. In the Hollywood version, Elba is a slave, but freed, joins the crew, and rises through the ranks, yadda yadda. Who should the captain be? Russell Crowe already did a film based on the Master And Commander books, but maybe he’d make another navy epic? Maybe someone younger, like Robert Pattinson?

I’ll add it to my notebook of “Film Treatments I Really Should Write”, along with all the others…

Terrorism Movie Plot Idea Number 7

Things you probably shouldn't eat
Things you probably shouldn’t eat

Following up on the recent discussion of where germs reside in airplanes and airports, especially this part:

People get bunched up in lines, where there is plenty of coughing and sneezing. Shoes are removed and placed with other belongings into plastic security bins, which typically don’t get cleaned after they go through the scanner.

A National Academy of Sciences panel is six months into a two-year study that is taking samples at airport areas to try to pinpoint opportunities for infection.

With limited resources, airports and airlines have asked researchers to help figure out where best to target prevention, said Dr. Mark Gendreau of Boston’s Lahey Clinic Medical Center who is on the panel.

Check-in kiosks and baggage areas are other prime suspects in addition to security lines, he said.

what about a film plot that basically works off of this fact? Imagine – Christian evangelicals develop some deadly bacteria or virus, some variant of Ebola, for example, and these Christian End-of-Worlders smear their shoes, coats, and computers with it. When they take their shoes off and place them through the security line, the deadly toxins spread, and infect the next 200 people who go through this same security line. Can you just imagine if a whole plane full of people died mid-flight?

The hero could of course track the source back, but what then?

Immigration at Heathrow
Immigration at Heathrow

Tangentially related, Charles Mann and Bruce Schneier think the TSA is a joke:

To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost. And directed against a threat that, by any objective standard, is quite modest. Since 9/11, Islamic terrorists have killed just 17 people on American soil, all but four of them victims of an army major turned fanatic who shot fellow soldiers in a rampage at Fort Hood. (The other four were killed by lone-wolf assassins.) During that same period, 200 times as many Americans drowned in their bathtubs. Still more were killed by driving their cars into deer. The best memorial to the victims of 9/11, in Schneier’s view, would be to forget most of the “lessons” of 9/11. “It’s infuriating,” he said, waving my fraudulent boarding pass to indicate the mass of waiting passengers, the humming X-ray machines, the piles of unloaded computers and cell phones on the conveyor belts, the uniformed T.S.A. officers instructing people to remove their shoes and take loose change from their pockets. “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this—and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”

(click here to continue reading Does Airport Security Really Make Us Safer? | Culture | Vanity Fair.)

Glimpse Into the Future

I usually don’t discuss my own dreams publicly, but this particular scene has stuck in my mind for a few days now, and I might as well add it to the Aether.

Blue Ball

I was walking downtown, in some urban environment. Could have been Chicago, or New York, or even San Francisco, none of the buildings were familiar, just typical office buildings of glass and steel. The sidewalks were crowded, and people in business attire were exiting one of the buildings, wearing suits, or business casual attire, talking to each other and jostling and acting as if it were a typical summer day in the city. I noticed however that one of the guys had his pet on a leash, and then noticed that his pet was actually a seal.

The streets were filled with water, this was slightly in our future, and global climate change meant the oceans were now encroaching into the cities. Seals had become the trendy pet, and this gentleman was about to take his seal, and let him frolic in the former street, before returning after his lunch break.

Prude News from 1935

Amused by this historic tidbit:

Because the same dances she gave nightly in Chicago without police restraint were “too shocking” for Parisian tea guests at the Bagdad Restaurant, Joan Warner, twenty-two-year-old Pennsylvanian and only American nude dancer in Paris, was forbidden by police Wednesday from further appearances in the nude. Miss Warner came to Paris to do a series of dances with a large feather fan, which, after seeing the Folies-Bergère and a few other shows, she considered superfluous. She has been dancing at various theaters and cabarets. “I never thought that, if the Chicago and Milwaukee police thought my act sufficiently modest to allow it on the boards when all the other fan dancers were prohibited, I should have any trouble in Paris,” she said yesterday [Jan. 10]. Officials at the Prefecture said yesterday that, while nudes are permitted in stage shows, they are not welcome in restaurants.

[Click to continue reading From the International Herald Tribune – 100, 75, 50 Years Ago –]

All Hail

Her Wikipedia entry is sparse, and as far as I can tell in a brief Google search, there are no photos of Ms. Warner online. Pity.

Warner was raised in Washington, D.C., studying there and in New York. She was three years of age when she began dancing. She was slender, quite tall, very blonde, with blue eyes. She danced in Hollywood in 1933 before moving on to Chicago. where she entertained at the Royal Frolics. Warner made appearances in Miami, Florida, Palm Beach, and New Orleans. In the latter city she was persuaded to go abroad by an English producer.

She danced unimpeded in Paris music halls and cabarets beginning in the spring of 1934. She encountered legal difficulties when numerous imitators of her shows began to perform at different venues. Warner mostly appeared nude solely in dim lighted cabarets where she was not especially close to her audience.

She wore a fan and sometimes a pair of iron bracelets during her performances. She appeared at the Bagdad, a tea-dancing restaurant in the Champs Elysees. She was arrested there and the club was forced to close for a day before its license was restored. She soon obtained an engagement at the Alcazar and received top billing at Bal Tabarin

Warner appeared in a French court beginning in July 1935 on a charge of offending public modesty. The suit was brought by the Association for the Increase of the French Population. She was cited for a violation of Article 330 of the French code. It dealt with the extent to which a person could be legally undressed in public. It was also contended that during one dance she came came too close to the floor space designated for spectators.

Warner argued for the art in her dance routine. She said she was covered from head to foot with white makeup and an invisible lavender silk cloth covered me in my absolutely correct positions. Her defense was supported by noted aviators, novelists, a zoology professor, and a painter, Maurice Devlaminck. The latter read a text about artistic nudity and said that he was not shocked by nakedness.

On July 18 the Tenth Correctional Chamber fined Warner fifty francs. The judicial body ruled it is against the law of the French Republic to dance in the nude, however artistically one may dance. The small fine imposed implied that the court was lenient. It mostly took exception to the dances being advertised as nude when actually they gave an impression of complete nudity. Specifically, the court elaborated that it was hard to distinguish between what was art and what was lewdness.

[Click to continue reading Joan Warner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Wonder if there are any options on her biography? Sounds like a fun film treatment to write. I imagine Ms. Warner being played by whatever hipster tart is popular at the moment, an actress who wants to to spread her artistic wings a bit, but doesn’t mind exposing her body, in the name of art, of course. Someone with more talent than whats-her-face Megan Fox, in other words.

DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated

Fracking hell, Mikey!

DNA Bricks

Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases.

The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

“You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”

[Click to continue reading DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show –]

So how long until this fabricated DNA appears as a plot point in a film? How long before it gets used in a police procedural drama? Months? Who’ll be first out the gate? Ooh, what about court-ordered DNA tests to get a wrongfully accused death-row murderer out of jail, and then the DNA turns out to be fake? Better start typing up my film treatment…