January 25, 2014
From Raw Deal:
I always said I like talking to a sharp guy. You don’t waste breath. Precious thing, breath.
When people think of the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey, they think of Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra, but the soundtrack is suffused with the sound of breathing, which is what I think of. The breathing in the space suits, in the space pod, as Dave decommissions HAL9000, and in the final scene, as the old man Dave meets his end.
August 23, 2012
I visited the Blue Lagoon, one of the most popular tourist spots in Iceland. Fun and nice, but a little weird, as are all hot spring resorts, I think. Eerie blue water that is nice and warm, with pots of white silica clay to slather onto your body. People wading about with clay-white faces, taking pictures of one another.
The pictures below show how it looked in 1998 and how it is today. Gone is that bizarre industrial background that makes it seem like a science fiction set. I kind of wish they had left it that way.
For those who want to avoid the pricey admission fee or the tourist scene at the Blue Lagoon, there is still the possibility of a refreshing soak in runoff from the many geothermal hiking areas around. I don’t know why, but this just brings Chaucer to my mind.
Besides hiking and bathing, there are other amusements in hot-spring land. Here are two people off to boil an egg in the runoff from a steaming borehole.
Much of the landscape around Reykjavik is rather forbidding, but I find it very beautiful. It has large plains covered in black lava flows, with thick, uneven carpets of moss.
I suspect that Iceland may have been featured in the final landing sequence of Kubrick’s 2001.
This one looks like something out of Escher.
December 31, 2010
. . . and into the future, or the past.
I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey again a week ago, as I do around this time of year, and noticed something new. When Dave Bowman is in the pod preparing to blast off the door and enter the main ship through the airlock, he goes through a series of maneuvers and turns his back to the camera. Briefly, he looks partly over his shoulder and then counts down.
Later, when he’s in the space-time-evolution-warp, he breaks a glass, bends down, and looks back over his shoulder to see what is making that breathing noise… It’s him, of course. The movement of the body is the same.
Today, I felt myself making exactly that move as I looked over my shoulder to back out of a parking space, driving my little four-wheeled pod.
Happy New Year!
December 1, 2010
Just yesterday, I happened upon this essay in the NYTimes by William Gibson about the world according to Google – and today, looking at my recent post on Babylonian mathematics what do I see but an ad for Google!! WordPress explains:
Note: To support the service (and keep free features free), we also sometimes run advertisements. We’ve tested a lot of different ad providers and currently use Google AdSense and Skimlinks. We try hard to make the ads discreet and effective and only run them in limited places. If you would like to completely eliminate ads from appearing on your blog, we offer the No-Ads Upgrade.
The upgrade costs about $30.oo per year. I guess the free ride is over, but then, why should I expect to be given a good service for free? Will I pay to be add-free? I doubt it. I’m pretty cheap. Considering the content of my blog, it might be amusing to see how Google et al place ads on it.
BTW, the picture is by Kupperman, and anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love Kubrick and 2001!
October 8, 2010
A video I created as a summer student at NYU using 5-inch tape reels and a very heavy recorder with a bulky camera. Editing resources were extremely crude. I’ve cleaned it up a bit, but the quality suffers from thirty years of sitting in a crate.
Music by Saint-Saens. My world.
August 31, 2010
Michael Kupperman is a funny guy, and pretty weird. His Tales Designed to Thrizzle carries on the madness, but without that vaudeville duo, Snake ‘n’ Bacon from the earlier numbers. This one, however, rises to new heights with its appreciation of DRAINAGE! At last, my voice in the wilderness is finding echoes! The connection with 2001 is beautiful!
In this issue, Kupperman tells the story of a new Broadway show, all about that essential element of civilization, what makes the world go ’round, drainage. The leading lady of the production finds out a little late that it has been reworked into a musical. The show must flow on!
March 9, 2010
In an earlier post on 2001, I wrote:
Some say we will know we have developoed intelligent machines not when they can speak, but when they can read our lips.
Not so fast! Today’s article in the NYTimes on Google’s translator programs raises the possibility that we may get lip reading machines before intelligent ones. Oh well, many people speak before they think already!
It seems that the translators, which are pretty darn good, I think, use models of language that are augmented with, among other things, huge amounts of multi-lingual transcripts from UN meetings. The translators there are among the best – human – ones around, so their work is the gold standard. The massive database of phrases and sentences is parsed and indexed a la Google, and that’s why they do a decent job with text that strays from textbook, factual propositions. What’s to stop the Google folks from feeding in massive amounts of video of people’s mouths speaking words whcih the machine can already process with it’s voice-recognition software? It would build a model of the relationship between mouth configurations and actual phonemes, which it already knows, lip reading.