Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cocker at Woodstock -- Best Beatles' cover ever

Joe Cocker at Woodstock courtesy of Hendrick Hertzberg. Extra added bonus: subtitles.

Says Hertzberg:
Sheer genius. Genius twice over, in fact. First, Cocker’s performance, one of the high points of Woodstock and one of the greatest covers ever—certainly the greatest Beatles cover. Second, this subtitled version, which transforms Cocker’s just as comprehensively as Cocker’s transformed Ringo’s.
This has been around a while, but “only” half a million people have seen it—many fewer than it deserves.

Read more

Friday, February 25, 2011

Evolution seeps and sleeps rather than Sweeps

More evolutionary rather than revolutionary findings, but I like it when science starts with an hypothesis and then backs away. Those studies can be more readily believed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh Sportsmanship!

Pass interference for football, diving for soccer (aka football).  Thank the canadians for adding an embellishing penalty to hockey.  This is a terrible way to earn a free kick (love the announcers)-

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Pop!

Letter no. 56
Feburary 27, 1989

February has been a month of rest after a busy January. We are also preparing for a busy March. We did, however, celebrate Mom’s birthday properly. Myk and Sue were over here the Presidents’ Day weekend. On Sunday evening Bethel Park, Harrisburg and Mount Lebanon got together for their final celebration at The Common Pleas. A great time was had by all. Three the eight requested family portraits were presented. She is looking forward to the remainder. Her other present, a family tape you all know about. It was a great success. We have seen it several times already. These were presented at a birthday party at Patty and Bob’s which included the grandchildren, champagne, ice cream and cake, cards, and from Dad a beautiful necklace and bracelet. It was a wonderful 70.  Thank you all!

There are only two family birthday in March:
5 Christopher
8 Mary

Patty and Bob are moving this week. The movers arrived this morning. Bob is in Atlanta and Patty and the children are staying with us. Bob will return Friday and they will all start off for their new home early Saturday morning.

We believe Steve and Joie have purchased land and plan to start building as soon as the weather permits. Steve speculates that the house will be ready for occupancy by Christmas.

We received two letters from Lisa and Pete. We are sending you each copies as we will do with future communications.

The water should be turned on at the shore this week and we plan to be there shortly thereafter. This is surely one of the first signs of spring.

On the way down we will stop in and see Mrs. Nascenzi and help Christopher celebrating his fifteenth birthday. On the way back we will stop in Harrisburg as Myk and Sue have an office retreat and can use our help with the children. We plan to be in Pittsburgh on Palm Sunday. Easter we will spend in Chicago. Further plans will be revealed in the next letter.

We have seen the three top 1988 movies: Mississippi Burning, Rain Man and a Dangerous Liaisons. The first was the most dramatic and Gene Hackman was great. Dustin Hoffman gives another of his unforgettable performances. (We recently saw him on TV and Little Big Man). Liaisons was very well done but we left with a sad feeling about a hollow society where everybody lost.

Jim is still working for AY and is getting ready for MAC Washington. He has the lead in another play. This time its Fool for Love by Sam Shepherd. He reports it a challenging part.  Rehearsals have just begun.

Bill and Maureen are always busy. They were slowed down for a few days with the flu but have recovered.

Mary and Tom continue their interior decorating with paint and paper. James had a foot infection which held him up for a month but is now back in school working harder than ever

We see Mrs. Hignett that from time to time in the library.  She reports all is well in Baltimore.

Bob and Marie had their mid-winter party to coincide with Lisa and Pete’s departure. We could not be there but we heard it was great. The other guests included Sue and Myk and the Long Branch branch. Marie and Bob went to a “Chocolate Party” and won 4th prize with Guess What? Our favorite ice box cake made with chocolate wafers and whipped cream! The other contestants wondered how Marie sliced the cake so thin. We will have more to report from them after seeing them this weekend.
Love to all,
Mom + Dad

Comings and Goings

We had a great time with Bob and Marie and Mike and Isabel and Sean last week end (and invented some exciting new rules for Oh Pshaw), before Mike and Isabel head to Guatemala for a great adventure. We have often had people meet in Paris, but this may be a first if Steve and Mike and Isabel can meet in Guatemala. Also, Patricia has arrived from San Diego—Oh Pshaw may change again.

Way Off Topic: Search for a lost author

As I was helping my dad pack for the big move out of the house, I came upon many treasures from my childhood. One was a Latin phrase book that Pop bought me when I was about 7 (Amo, Amas, Amat, and More - I think I was brain washed from a young age to love the classics, but that's another story). I also found a copy of the N.C. Wyeth illustrated Robin Hood book, pictured here. As I was flipping through the pages (mainly just looking at the pictures) I suddenly wondered who this Paul Creswick was. A quick Google search came up with little. He seemed to have lived during the late 19th century and was possibly an author of children's books. More searching, and still nothing. It's interesting that there seems to be very little information about this author, although his book continues to be reprinted (obviously because of the Wyeth illustrations). So my quest continues to discover the identity of Paul Creswick, what happened to him, and why he wrote his famous Robin Hood book.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Watson Part II

I don't really know this, but I suspect that writer Brian Christian isn't too concerned about Watson's thorough drubbing of Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy. Christian, who has dual degrees in computer science and philosophy with an MFA in Poetry, was a contestant in the Loebner Prize competition. This competition is based on Alan Turing's proposed experiment: several judges each pose questions, via computer terminal, to several pairs of unseen correspondents, one a human and the other a computer program, and attempt to discern which is which. The idea is to see if it is possible to construct a computer so sophisticated that it could actually be said to have a mind -- at least as far as any human could tell.
Christian writes about his experience in a marvelous article in the Atlantic: "Mind vs Machine". I'll not give away what happens, but Christian sees these tests, not so much as an ominous portent of the coming of a machine age, but as a way of helping us to see what real intelligence is, and what is unique about being human. He suggests that raw analytic ability may not be the key to the essence of humanity. As we can see from Watson, machines can out-perform us here. Having as memory is not the same as having a mind. (He quotes Salvador Dali: "The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.”)

Christian sees that the essence of intelligence is the ability to interact. Here is his account of of a winning conversation between the judge and a human confederate:
Judge: Hey Bro, I’m from TO.
Confederate: cool
Confederate: leafs suck
Confederate: ;-)
Judge: I am just back from a sabbatical in the CS Dept. at U of T.
Confederate: nice!
Judge: I remember when they were a great team.
Judge: That carbon date me, eh?
Confederate: well, the habs were a great team once, too …
Confederate: *sigh*
As Christian says, the confederate and his judge "had just discovered that they were both Canadian. They let rip with abbreviations and nicknames and slang and local references. And then they started to talk about hockey." Could a computer ever be mindful enough to pick up on all the cues?

Friday, February 18, 2011


This game trailer is right up there with Cinematic trailers (Via Sullivan's Cool Watch Ad )-

Reminded me of another awesome Commercial (yes, commericials can be awesome)-


Ken Jennings on Watson.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Paris, France 2011

Post mostly for my immediate family not at home and any Édith Piaf fans.  After the video starts, choose 720p quality and full screen to get a sharper video.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Club

Another book/author to add to our nonexistent virtual book club. Gene Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer. It's about a future world where the sun is dying (somewhat in the vein of Jack Vance's "dying earth") and the main character, a member of the torturer's guild, decides to grant life to a victim - an ultimate sin of the guild. Think of a little Borges, a little Tolkien, maybe even some Eco, and overall a extremely well-written fantasy. He's been around for a while, so I am sure some of you at least have read his stuff - his short stories are also excellent.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Medieval Warfare

I've been meaning to post this for a while. Just about every paragraph in this article is fascinating:

Medieval warfare was just as terrifying as you might imagine.

2.5D Effect

Turning still photos into pseudo 3D video footage. Pretty cool, reminds me of the 3D movie effect found in today's theaters. The tutorial for the still 3D motion (maybe I give it a shot).

Desert Motion from XNcreative on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Everything is a Remix, T. S. Eliot, and Oh Pshaw!

There is an interesting film essay called Everything is a Remix (part I and part II). Part I introduces the idea of remix as legal copying. The author, Kirby Ferguson, does not present the term in a flattering way, but uses it to show a lack of imagination and creativity, especially in the film industry (Part II).

He says 74 out of 100 of the top films for the past 10 years are "sequels, remakes of earlier films, or adaptations of comic books, video games, books, etc." Hollywood, to a large degree, relies on the tried and true. I have no argument thus far. But then he says, "Of the few box offices hits that aren't sequels, remakes, or adaptations, the word 'original' wouldn't spring to mind to describe them." Then he goes on to show how films like Star Wars borrowed heavily from earlier works.

Here is where I differ. There is a fundamental difference between 'legally copying' and creating an original and imaginative work which relies on human and literary tradition.

T.S. Eliot wrote a famous essay on literary criticism entitled Tradition and the Individual Talent where he argues that, indeed, the value of an original work greatly lies in the tradition that has come before. He advances "the conception of poetry as a living whole of all the poetry that has ever been written." It is that tradition that gives richness and value to an original work.

This leads me to the game of "Oh Pshaw", a Harvey tradition for many years, that I believe we found, strangely enough, just by reading it in "Hoyle's Complete Book of Games". As fun as the game is, it has an anti-climatic ending. Not only is 'no trump' more boring than the previous 'trump' hands, but it lends to no dramatic lead changes at the end.

At Prince Gallitzin, Peter came up with an imaginative alternate last hand that I think will solve all our problems, and he borrows from bridge. For the final hand, instead of playing "no trump", you bid for trump. You are allowed to have two rounds of bidding and whoever bids highest gets to name trump. We only tried this once, but I vision new imaginative games arising from old traditions.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And once again Pittsburgh shows why it is the most livable city

I could be jinxing Pittsburgh, but this is the predicted severity of the current winter storm that will hit 'everyone.' (Notice the little notch in the storm's path of devastation?)