Friday, April 26, 2013

A potpourri of ironies for the weekend

Baseball fans, here's a unique (true?) tale of how - just after World War II - a baseball team consisting of Stratford-on-Avon actors and ex-POWs would dress in Elizabethan blouses and crush teams from nearby US air bases. "A dream team "with Paul Robeson (Othello) on first base, Sam Wanamaker (Iago) on second, Laurence Olivier (Coriolanus) on third and Peter O'Toole (Shylock) at shortstop. Albert Finney (a utility player) used to catch for me while Charles Laughton (King Lear) was the plate umpire. When Laughton said, 'Strike three, you're out!' nobody argued."  How I hope some time traveler secretly recorded their baseline trash talk and banter.  What a cute moment for a short story setting. Read: The Strangest Baseball Team in History.

And while we're on the Bard… Ah, consistency. Here is a hilarious moment of aha! realization… something we always knew, but without ever putting the pieces together. You will slap your forehead and cry "d'oh!"

== Inspirational ==

JohnCleaseJohn Cleese has a very large brain! This speech about "how creativity works" is incisive and brilliant! "Telling people how to be creative is easy. It's only being it that's difficult."

Also watch Richard Turure on TED: My invention that made peace with lions. An inspiring young fellow.

One public servant I very much admire… retired Defense Secretary Robert Gates… talking about another who I deemed (elsewhere) to have been the "Man of the 20th Century," George C Marshall. There are grownups in this world. Amid all the preening and posturing, take solace in that fact.

Okay, name for me another species that can do this sort of stuff.  All right, I can't do any of it either… still…

InternetWarningBritish humor site The Poke presents The Internet: A Warning from History -- an optimistic vision of the future in which humankind has managed (by 2068) to break free from the shackles of YouTube, Flash plug-in crashes, and even, somehow,  cat videos.

== And disturbing ==

Great big conspiracy flow chart.  It covers almost 15% of the crazy space!

== And scientific ==

DNAAn auspicious anniversary? On 25 April, 1953, Nature published "A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid" by J.D.Watson and F.H.C.Crick, setting out the double helix structure of the molecule of heredity. This year is DNA@60.   Now watch the estimable Roger Bingham interview James Watson in an enlightening Science Channel Show. Or read Watson's The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA.

As the world’s first building powered by algae, the 15-unit Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) House generates biomass and heat with the assistance of 129 integrated glass bioreactor panels (read: micro-algae harvesters). The algae flourish and multiply in a regular cycle until they can be harvested. They are then separated from the rest of the algae and transferred as a thick pulp to the technical room of the BIQ. The little plants are then fermented in an external biogas plant, so that they can be used again to generate biogas.

A stunt, you say?  I know the folks at Heliae, who have announced the launch of their patent pending micro-algae production platform, using sunlight and waste carbon to produce high-value products from algae.

The "Grasshopper" reusable rocket prototype shattered its own record, reaching a height of 820 feet. That's more than triple its previous record.  Oh, and ain't this the way a rocket ship s'pzed ta be?

== Sci fi items ==

DanielWilsonDaniel H. Wilson, the young scientist author of engaging novels such as Amped and Robopocalypse gives a talk at Carnegie-Mellon about robotics in science fiction and how it relates to both real technology and our visions of the future.  Bright and funny.  Also,  he reminds me SO much of myself at that hot new author phase… including the hat!

…and miscellaneous…

Seven billion people on one browser page (one mile long). Don't send this to your printer...

TheGiftAnd finally, compiled by Five excellent Sci Fi short films worth watching.


LarryHart said...

I can forgive Shakespeare the "no traveller ever returns" thing in this manner: that ghosts in popular fiction seem not to be entities who have "returned" from death, but rather those who haven't been able to leave yet.

Ian said...

Funny I thought was all rainbows and candy in Iceland;

"Iceland goes to the polls in a general election expected to punish the ruling Social Democrat coalition over the austerity measures to bring the economy back from the brink.

The last opinion poll published before voting booths were due to open on Saturday showed that the opposition centre-right coalition was likely to make major gains four years after it was ousted over its handling of a dire financial crisis.

Iceland's 235,000 eligible voters will cast their ballots from 0900 GMT to 2200 GMT with first results expected shortly after polls close.

The ruling coalition which dragged Iceland back towards economic viability after the 2008 banking crisis faces backlash amid promise of tax cuts and debt relief by the opposition.

"To me, this election is about whether my daughter will be able to keep her house or not," said Thury Steinthorsdottir, 55, who runs a small bed and breakfast in Laugarvatn, 30km east of the capital, Reykjavik.

"The crash wiped out all the equity on her house and she's now working 70-80 hours a week with three children just to keep up with payments. This can't go on anymore." "

Howie said...

The Postman was mentioned this week on the AV Club in a list of post-apocalyptic product placement.,96855/

The USPS means much more in The Postman than other items on the list relative to their works (Coke in The Road, for example), but it was still fun to see our host mentioned.

locumranch said...

Why watch the interview when you can read the book as 'The Double Helix," written by James Watson, was first published in 1968?

In the finest tradition of satire (often self-satire) John Cleese moonlighted as a corporate shill for many years, giving a large number informative and mockingly perverse lectures on team work, creativity, going to meetings, meeting menaces & stupidity, etc.

Check out his bit on 'The Scientist' at

This is what our culture needs more of, IMO, the ability to laugh at ourselves while simultaneously taking our abilities, accomplishments, heroes & belief systems much less seriously which is a lesson (unfortunately) that many scientists like James Watson have failed to learn.

So, when and if you choose to read the testament to Watson's clever intellect called 'The Double Helix', you also find that it is a vast repository of pompous mean-spirited nastiness that is humanity.


Duncan Cairncross said...

"In the finest tradition of satire (often self-satire) John Cleese moonlighted as a corporate shill for many years, giving a large number informative and mockingly perverse lectures on team work, creativity, going to meetings, meeting menaces & stupidity, etc"

John Cleese created training videos - the finest and most effective training videos I have ever seen (by a long way)
I saw two videos on cash flow and one on delegation
There were incredibly effective as learning tools

"moonlighted as a corporate shill"

Is a terribly shallow way of describing a superbly effective educator

Tom Crowl said...

Dr. Brin,

Via Los Angeles Venture Association I was connected with head of Maverick Angels... (he's also a prof of entrepreneurship at USC)...

I make a pretty good impression generally when I can meet and talk and he is connecting me with attorneys who may be helpful in forming team... (I've been honest about my strengths and weaknesses).

I believe its getting across not only about practicality of the method... but why the political microtransaction capability at least must not be 'split-up'... and certain P2P characteristics of such a network must be included.

In other words (e.g.) why a separate "Democratic" cash card and a "Republican" cash card would inhibit cross-party opinion and further cement a status-quo.

If I can get this across and get this going... I hope as I always have that your thoughts on such a network and its characteristics would be an important part of it.

Political Fundraising: Act Blue, Facebook and the Missing Network Imperative

Speaking of irony... for all the time I've spent trolling amongst the eggheads for support... for this publicly oriented capability...

Its the capitalists that are the most interested in paying attention and will be key in getting it built.

There's a lesson there about a need for finding common ground.

Unknown said...

Tom I have been following your efforts and I wish you luck. Just use "trawl" for fishing for help. "Troll" has bad connotations!

sociotard said...

It's a real shame Rosalind Elsie Franklin died so young. Then she might at least get mentioned alongside Watson and Crick.

locumranch said...

They named a medical/professional school after Rosalind Franklin in Chicago. Back when I embraced the myth of progress, I spent some time toiling there in their basement with a number of educators, teaching assistants, trolls & other superbly effective comedians. Best.