Lego of course is predestined for constructing ↑Rube Goldberg machines, and there are quite some fine specimen in existence, but ↑Akiyuky‘s beautiful creation ↑featured at gizmodo is as fantastic as it is gigantic. [There are bigger ones, but they are built by teams, like ↑the world record one.]
As the faithful reader might have noticed, I am, among other things, fond of early science fiction—of course always on the hunt for elements of ↵the cyberpunk discourse, and for entries to my ↵according list, where I strive to furnish downlod links as far as technically and legally possible. Now, in the wake of a recent panel on Victorian and Edwardian science fiction at ↑Chicon 7, over ↑at Wondermark there’s a list of according science fiction with download links. The post also hints us at the fine anthology ‘Science Fiction by Gaslight’ (Moskowitz 1968), and a commenter added the two anthologies ‘Before Armageddon’ (1975) and ‘England Invaded’ (1977), both edited by ↑Michael Moorcock.
zeph’s pop culture quiz #42
Who is riding his bike through the rain?
Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a comment' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.]
UPDATE and solution (20 September 2012):
After ↵the last one took a while we’re back to normal business and ↵Alexander Rabitsch solved #42 immediately: It’s the character Roger (Vincent Gallo) cycling during the opening credits of ‘↑Metropia‘ (Saleh 2009). The movie is notable not only because it’s wonderful noir dystopian ↵cyberpunk, but because an animation technique based on real life actors was employed. By computer powered alteration of real life digital video æsthetics were achieved which are somewhat reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s ‘Monty Python’ animation sequences. The technique obviously is kin to ↑rotoscoping and ↑motion capture. The former has been put to fabulous cyberpunk use by Richard Linklater for ‘A Scanner Darkly’ (2006), and without the latter contemporary sci-fi movies and high-end computer games seem to be unthinkable.
Earlier this year his collection of non-fiction texts, ‘Distrust That Particular Flavor’ (Gibson 2012), was published—now there are some fresh interviews with ↑William Gibson around: the one with io9 above, and a ↑three-part interview at Wired.
Although the main plots of the ↑‘Assassin’s Creed’ games have historical settings—during the Third Crusade (Ubisoft Montreal 2007), the Renaissance (2009), and the American Revolution (2012)—the narrative as a whole bows down to ↵the cyberpunk dicourse. The story which delivers the framework decidedly is cyberpunkish: In the present day, or 20 minutes into the future, the evil corporation ‘Abstergo Industries’ abducts one Desmond Miles. In a secret appartment hideaway he is made to connect to the ‘Animus,’ a computer able to revoke ‘genetic memory.’ That way Miles is able to experience the lifes of his ancestors as interactive virtual realities bridging the gaps of time and space. One nice consequence of this narrative strategy is that all ‘artificialities’ of the gameplay, like e.g. the ↑HUD, are perfectly explained within the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ universe.
Just recently I hit on ↑Jack London‘s novel ‘↓The Star Rover‘ (1915). I haven’t read it myself yet, but the ↑synopsis from Wikipedia strikes me:
A framing story is told in the first person by Darrell Standing, a university professor serving life imprisonment in San Quentin State Prison for murder. Prison officials try to break his spirit by means of a torture device called “the jacket,” a canvas jacket which can be tightly laced so as to compress the whole body, inducing angina. Standing discovers how to withstand the torture by entering a kind of trance state, in which he walks among the stars and experiences portions of past lives. [...]
The accounts of these past lives form the body of the work. [...]
The jacket itself was actually used at San Quentin at the time and Jack London’s descriptions of it were based on interviews with a former convict named Ed Morrell, which is also the name of a character in the novel. For his role in the Sontag and Evans gang which robbed the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1890s, Morrell spent fourteen years in California prisons (1894–1908), five of them in solitary confinement. London championed his pardon. After his release, Morrell was a frequent guest at London’s Beauty Ranch.
zeph’s pop culture quiz #41
Who is coming towards us through the fog?
Just leave a comment with your educated guesses—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a comment' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.]
UPDATE 1 (18 September 2012):
All right, I won’t solve the riddle today, although it’s overdue—it’s just to much fun for me that for once you don’t solve it at once. Here’s a recap of what has been found out till now: The silhouette approaching is the impersonation of a Western hero of days gone by. You may be able to identify the impersonated by the close-up above. The plot of the movie has something to do with what we are doing here: Playing a movie quiz … now go ahead!
UPDATE 2 (19 September 2012):
This proofs to be an incredibly hard one :) But this new screencap should give it away—who is sitting in the cinema, done up as a vampire Bela-Lugosi style? It’s the same man who impersonated Hopalong Cassidy above.
UPDATE 3 and solution (19 September 2012):
Seems like the last screencap indeed gave it away, and ↵Alhambra solved the riddle—congratulations! It is Eric Binford (Dennis Christopher) who impersonated Hopalong Cassidy and who sat in the cinema as Count Dracula in ‘↑Fade to Black‘ (Zimmerman 1980), which meanwhile has cult status.
Binford is at the fringe of society and has a lowly-payed job within Hollywood’s movie industry. Nevertheless he lives for the movies, or in the classics of American cinema, knowing virtually everything about them. He is unbeatable at movie trivia. When his hope for personal happiness shatters, or seems to, something snaps within Binford’s soul. He begins to murder those who tormented him and stages every homicide as a famous scene from a silver screen classic.
As a teenager I saw the movie on late night television and for once was satisfied with the title the German distributors cooked up: ‘Die schönen Morde des Eric Binford’ [The Beautiful Murders of Eric Binford].
By the way, in the middleground of the first screencap, the one with the silhouette coming through the fog, you can see two black figures. A minute later one of them is shot by Binford as Cassidy, because he always bullied him at work. The bully Richie is played by Mickey Rourke.
At least parts of the personal diary of ↑Thomas Harold Flowers (1905-1998) soon will be on display at ↑The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park, ↑reported the BBC two days ago. Flowers was crucial in constructing ↑Colossus—for the whole story see Randell 1980 and the excellent book edited by Jack Copeland (2006) including texts by Flowers himself (2006 a, b).
The story of the Colossi—all in all ten of them were at work at Bletchley until the end of the war—not only illustrates the outstanding relevance of electronic computing technology, but is also an example for the needed fusion between formal mathematics and the hands-on applied science of engineering. Mathematician ↑Peter John Hilton (1923-2010), during the war also on duty at ↑Bletchley Park, wrote:
↑Alan Turing contributed to the thinking in developing these machines, as did ↑Max Newman and several others, but an enormous part of the credit for designing Colossus, and all the credit for building it, goes to Tommy Flowers. ↑Jack Good pointed out that in a 1998 article I exaggerated Turing’s role in the designing of Colossus. I am happy to have this opportunity to do full justice to the contribution of Flowers. (Hilton 2006: 192)
The ever-modest Flowers in turn:
In our war-time association, Turing and others provided the requirements for machines which were top secret and have never been declassified. (Flowers cf. Randell 1972)
In ↵omega legend I argued that the infestation of the zombie-genre by the ↵cyberpunk discourse is a further mosaic-tile in showing that said discourse gathers more and more momentum. In this Richard Matheson’s novel ‘I am Legend’ (1954) is a keystone, a pivotal point, if you will. At ↑iamlegendarchive I just stumbled upon the very ↑first review of ‘I am Legend,’ published in the same month as the book itself. It contains quite some water on my mills:
Most rewarding of 1954′s new novels this month is Richard Matheson’s ‘I Am Legend’ (Gold Medal, 25¢), an extraordinary book which manages to do for vampirism what Jack Williamson’s ‘Darker Than You Think’ did for lycanthropy: investigate an ancient legend in terms of modern knowledge of psychology and physiology, and turn the stuff of supernatural terror into strict (and still terrifying!) science fiction. Matheson has added a new variant on the Last Man theme, too, in this tale of the last normal human survivor in a world of bloodsucking nightmares, and has given striking vigor to his invention by a forceful style of storytelling which derives from the best hard-boiled crime novels. As a hard-hitting thriller or as fresh imaginative speculation, this is a book you can’t miss. (Boucher 1954) [bold emphasis mine]
The project of anthropology is to understand objective empirical phenomena which are the consequences of the fusions of highly subjective experiences. For a preliminary sorting of these phenomena the congeries society and culture have been invented.
It took me ten years, but now here it is (above) … the definition of anthropology ;)
The role online media played and do play in the so-called Arab Spring is not an easy one to understand. Anthropologists are at it and a student of mine currently prepares a thesis—and from what I have seen till now he already produced interesting insights. The ongoings around Amber Lyon’s segment of the CNN-documentary ‘iRevolution’ adds a new layer. You can read the whole ↑backstory of CNN suppressing its own documentary at the Guardian.