why turning around?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #56
Turning around
What’s happening in this scene? Why are the two kids turning around?
    Simply 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.]


ennis house sunrise

The idea to recreate the House on Haunted Hill in Minecraft haunts me since months. Well, Kevin Shull already did it back in November 2011, complete with custom texture pack and all:

House was created “block for block” as close as I could get with the photographs I found. Some areas were unclear in photos if photographed at all. House is 3x minecraft dimensions. Doors are six blocks tall instead of two. Thirteen textures created for textile blocks. Thirty additional “ice” blocks were created (that won’t melt) for windows and doors. Not enough blocks to do window designs or the gate and iron work. Interior lighting by transparent “glowstone” . For interior and exterior views of the house, two models were created to allow for different block surfaces on walls and placement of windows. Single player control mod was used to control sun and turn off rain that has become a constant problem. House is so large the MC cam creates a lot of distortion. Thought I’ld never finish it, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. Hope you like it.

Oh yes, I do like it, indeed—if you do, too: Besides Ennis House Kevin also did Frank Lloyd Wright‘s other ‘textile block’ houses: Freeman House, Storer House, and Millard House.


who is eddy?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #55
Who is Eddy?
    Simply 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 (17 January 2013):
Clink Wharf
All right, here’s a strong hint: The carriage in the screencap is on its way because of Eddy.


einstein on sts

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
These quotes by Albert Einstein (1879-1955) are a fine follow-up to poincaré on sts:

We have thus assigned to pure reason and experience their places in a theoretical system of physics. The structure of the system is the work of reason; the empirical contents and their mutual relations must find their representation in the conclusions of the theory. In the possibility of such a representation lie the sole value and justification of the whole system, and especially of the concepts and fundamental principles which underlie it. These latter, by the way, are free inventions of the human intellect, which cannot be justified either by the nature of that intellect or in any other fashion a priori. [...]
    The natural philosophers of those days were, on the contrary, most of them possessed with the idea that the fundamental concepts and postulates of physics were not in the logical sense free inventions of the human mind but could be deduced from experience by “abstraction”—that is to say by logical means. A clear recognition of the erroneousness of this notion really only came with the general theory of relativity, which showed that one could take account of a wider range of empirical facts, and that too in a more satisfactory and complete manner, on a foundation quite different from the Newtonian. But quite apart from the question of the superiority of one or the other, the fictitious character of fundamental principles is perfectly evident from the fact that we can point to two essentially different principles, both of which correspond with experience to a large extent; this proves at the same time that every attempt at a logical deduction of the basic concepts and postulates of mechanics from elementary experiences is doomed to failure. (Einstein 1933)

EINSTEIN, ALBERT. 1933. On the method of theoretical physics. The Herbert Spencer Lecture, delivered at Oxford University on 10 June 1933.

poincaré on sts

Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912)
Well, it’s not really Henri Poincaré (1854-1912)—eminent mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher of science—talking about science and technology studies (STS) proper. Rather he talks about the fundamentals of epistemology, the position of the natural sciences, and their relation to reality. And here we are at the core of STS. Wherever you read about STS it is stated that STS are founded on the sociology of knowledge and the sociology of science stemming from the former. The great achievement, absolutely indispensable for STS, was to relativize scientific knowledge and to look at it from a social constructivist vantage point. To put scientific knowledge on a par with other kinds of knowledge, and thereby stripping it of the nimbus of being something special, of being apart, of being absolute.
    Enter Bruno Latour, heavily influenced by, and fond of social constructivism. But at one point he feels that the relativizing trajectory of constructivism has gone too far. Especially when it comes to the things of the natural sciences. He feels the need for STS to backpedal a bit from the constructivist extremes. And here I wholeheartedly agree.
    But at least one question remains for me: Who exactly was, or still is it, who without any reservation whatsoever believes in that all-encompassing absoluteness of scientific knowledge? The natural scientists? The wider public, impressed by the overwhelmimg success of science and technology? Well, for sure not the great grandmasters of science.
    Below is an excerpt from the introduction to Poincaré’s ‘Science and hypothesis’ (1905 [1902]), a book written for the wider public. In this snippet from the opening pages we already find all the foundations of STS, up to Latour’s recalibration.
    Here is the great Henri Poincaré’s healthy, justified epistemological relativism bolstered by sound arguments and expressed in clear-cut, direct, and understandable language:

To the superficial observer scientific truth is unassailable, the logic of science is infallible ; and if scientific men sometimes make mistakes, it is because they have not understood the rules of the game. Mathematical truths are derived from a few self-evident propositions, by a chain of flawless reasonings ; they are imposed not only on us, but on Nature itself. By them the Creator is fettered, as it were, and His choice is limited to a relatively small number of solutions. A few experiments, therefore, will be sufficient to enable us to determine what choice He has made. From each experiment a number of consequences will follow by a series of mathematical deductions, and in this way each of them will reveal to us a corner of the universe. This, to the minds of most people, and to students who are getting their first ideas of physics, is the origin of certainty in science. This is what they take to be the role of experiment and mathematics. And thus, too, it was understood a hundred years ago by many men of science who dreamed of constructing the world with the aid of the smallest possible amount of material borrowed from experiment.
    But upon more mature reflection the position held by hypothesis was seen ; it was recognised that it is as necessary to the experimenter as it is to the mathematician. And then the doubt arose if all these constructions are built on solid foundations. The conclusion was drawn that a breath would bring them to the ground. This sceptical attitude does not escape the charge of superficiality. To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions ; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.
    Instead of a summary condemnation we should examine with the utmost care the role of hypothesis ; we shall then recognise not only that it is necessary, but that in most cases it is legitimate. We shall also see that there are several kinds of hypotheses; that some are verifiable, and when once confirmed by experiment become truths of great fertility; that others may be useful to us in fixing our ideas; and finally, that others are hypotheses only in appearance, and reduce to definitions or to conventions in disguise. The latter are to be met with especially in mathematics ,
and in the sciences to which it is applied. From them, indeed, the sciences derive their rigour ; such conventions are the result of the unrestricted activity of the mind, which in this domain recognises no obstacle. For here the mind may affirms because it lays down its own laws ; but let us clearly understand that while these laws are imposed on our science, which otherwise could not exist, they are not imposed on Nature. Are they then arbitrary? No; for if they were, they would not be fertile. Experience leaves us our freedom of choice, but it guides us by helping us to discern the most convenient path to follow. Our laws are therefore like those of an absolute monarch, who is wise and consults his council of state. Some people have been struck by this characteristic of free convention which may be recognised in certain fundamental principles of the sciences. Some have set no limits to their generalisations, and at the same time they have forgotten that there is a difference between liberty and the purely arbitrary. So that they are compelled to end in what is called nominalism; they have asked if the savant is not the dupe of his own definitions, and if the world he thinks he has discovered is not simply the creation of his own caprice.(1) Under these conditions science would retain its certainty, but would not attain its object, and would become powerless. Now, we daily see what science is doing for us. This could not be unless it taught us something about reality; the aim of science is not things themselves, as the dogmatists in their simplicity imagine, but the relations between things; outside those relations there is no reality knowable. (Poincaré 1905 [1902]: xxi-xxiv)

(1) Cf. M. le Roy: “Science et Philosophie,” Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 1901.

And as a bonus, here is a one-sentence definition:

The method of the physical sciences is based upon the induction which leads us to expect the recurrence of a phenomenon when the circumstances which give rise to it are repeated. (Poincaré 1905 [1902]: xxvi)

POINCARÉ, JULES HENRI. 1905 [1902]. Science and hypothesis. London, Newcastle-on-Tyne, New York: The Walter Scott Publishing Co., Ltd. Originally published as La science et l’hypothèse. Paris: Ernest Flammarion.

nasa johnson style

NASA Johnson Style is a volunteer outreach video project created by the students of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It was created as an educational parody of Psy’s Gangnam Style. The lyrics and scenes in the video have been re-imagined in order to inform the public about the amazing work going on at NASA and the Johnson Space Center.


stan lee cameos

Two days ago, on 28 December 2012, Stan Lee celebrated his 90th birthday:

In collaboration with several artists, most notably Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, and many other fictional characters, introducing complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books.

Above is a montage of his cameo appearances in Marvel superhero movies. A belated happy birthday to Stan Lee and many more cameo appearances to him!

via entry at slashdot

who is diving?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #54
Who is diving?
Who is diving down into the big blue?
    Simply 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 1 (02 January 2013):
On board.
We had some fine guesses until now, but no direct hit yet. The above screencap, showing our hero before diving into the sea, hopefully helps. What we know so far: The character in the diving suit is played by an actor of maximum stardom. It’s a 1960s movie, neither a French nor Italian production, so the odds are good that it is American. Notwithstanding there is a touch of Italy in it. The diver is searching for something beneath the sea. He doesn’t find it, but something entirely different. This gives him and his posse, seen in the new screencap, an extraordinary idea …

UPDATE 2 and solution (07 January 2013):
Frank Sinatra in 'Assault on a Queen' (Donohue 1966)
And again Mona did it—congratulations! It’s Frank Sinatra in Assault on a Queen (Donohue 1966). My hint towards ‘something Italian in the movie’ was twofold: First Sinatra himself was the child of Italian immigrants, second the female lead was played by Italian beauty Virna Lisi, maybe best known for her role alongside Jack Lemmon in the comedy How To Murder Your Wife (Quine 1965).
    When diving as pictured Sinatra as Mark Brittain searches for Spanish galleons, supposedly containing a treasure. Instead he finds a sunken German U-boat stemming from World War II. This gives his gang the idea to reactivate the old submarine and use it to pull a heist on the ocean liner Queen Mary

DONOHUE, JACK. 1966. Assault on a Queen [motion picture]. Hollywood: Paramount Pictures.
QUINE, RICHARD. 1965. How to murder your wife [motion picture]. Los Angeles: United Artists.

morgan freeman hoax

‘Write something insightful. Say Morgan Freeman said it. Win at Internet.’ Just found that quote, attributed to actor Morgan Freeman, on Facebook. I do not know if Freeman did say this or if he did not. But I know that the quote comes in the wake of another quote attributed to him. This latter quote currently runs through the social media like wildfire, but Freeman definitely never stated its contents. Here is a snippet:

You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.
    It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody [...]

Compare this to what the planet’s most prominent film critic, Roger Ebert, wrote back in 2003:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.
    The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”
    In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.