Sunday, August 23, 2020

Flying Trains

Time’s Arrow Flies through 500 Years of Classical Music, Physicists Say Scientific American

Australia’s biggest bats fly thousands of kilometers a year—farther than wildebeest and caribou Science

And if prepping doesn't save you, remember the sage words of Josey Wales "Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is."


  “Taking your dog for walks twice a day for at least an hour in total could soon become the law in Germany.”  And: “A spokeswoman for the agriculture ministry said it was very unlikely private dog owners would receive police visits to check whether they had taken their pooch for a walk.”  And: “The French have the unfortunate distinction of being the European “champions” for abandoning pets that have become too cumbersome for their summer trips.

James Bond gets a subscription to New Scientist in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet

 The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jiří Kolář's A User's Manual, which Twisted Spoon Press brought out in a nice edition last year. 

       Lots of Kolář-collages to this, but it's well worth looking around the internet for more examples of his (art) work -- these pieces at Everything Czech and Apollo are a good place to start. 

The Flying Train

MoMA has published a two-minute film from 1902 of a German suspended railway called the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. It presents an almost drone-like view of a German city at the beginning of the 20th century, in contrast to the ground-based and stationary films that were far more common in that era. The film is also extremely crisp and clear because it was shot in 68mm:

The Flying Train depicts a ride on a suspended railway. The footage is almost as impressive as the feat of engineering it captures. For many years our curators believed our Mutoscope rolls were slightly shrunken 70mm film, but they were actually shot on Biograph’s proprietary 68mm stock. Formats like Biograph’s 68mm and Fox’s 70mm Grandeur are of particular interest to researchers visiting the Film Study Center because the large image area affords stunning visual clarity and quality, especially compared to the more standard 35mm or 16mm stocks.

My favorite bit is the kid on the swing at about the 25 second mark — a casual unstaged moment that allows the viewer to imagine themselves in that place and time, almost 120 years ago.

And as the latest instance in a trend that I am increasingly irritated by, this film was immediately run through an AI program to upscale it to 4K, stabilize it, and colorize it. The result is….. I don’t know, cheesy? It just looks worse than the original, which is so vivid to begin with. And the added sound is distracting. But the worst thing is that this “restored” video has almost twice the views as the original. *shakes fist at cloud*

For his Roman Emperor Project, Daniel Voshart (whose day job includes making VR sets for Star Trek: Discovery) used a neural-net tool and images of 800 sculptures to create photorealistic portraits of every Roman emperor from 27 BCE to 285 ACE. From the introduction to the project:

Roman Emperors Photos

Artistic interpretations are, by their nature, more art than science but I’ve made an effort to cross-reference their appearance (hair, eyes, ethnicity etc.) to historical texts and coinage. I’ve striven to age them according to the year of death — their appearance prior to any major illness.

Can robots keep humans from abusing other robots?

A German university is offering “idleness grants” to applicants who are seriously committed to doing sweet nothing.”  Is this news?  Why don’t they at least make them walk some dogs?

NYT covers Donald J. Harris, economist

More on Oumuamua

Are older, more classic books less likely to be manipulating you?  And is that good or bad?