In honor of our trip to New York … I am running a picture of…. Racine. Es Kewpies!
File under blast from the past. My son and I are going to be in NYC and we're hoping to see John Ruetz and the OneTwoManyBand at Cornelia St. Brusha and Paul DeMark told me about this band. I am psyched. Will AIM high. With mustard and pickles.
Note: Kewpies used to be hunkered down under a public parking garage when I was a kid. Who would have known it was so breathtakingly streamlined? One wonders if Zippie ever went here. Kewpee: A buddha-like doll baby committed to Food for the folks. It's next to what was Reihls there. Thrifty Sandy used to be in the garage too. Smell of mustard on hamburger still brings back the time...Dave and [Bob H., John C?] ditched me and Jim. Ran into Norman of Soulville with his family there too much later on.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
In honor of our trip to New York … I am running a picture of…. Racine. Es Kewpies!
Page One’s Missing Characters takes him back to his young career and the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago. “The golden age of Chicago journalism was just then coming to an end” he writes by way of exposition. [If this was still the golden age of the Internet I could link to it and you could see for yourself, but, alas, and, alack, the op-ed page is now premium content.] Different classes met. The reporters spanned all class, and had to misplaced sense of the noble poor. They probably worried about declining circ and agate dollars, but they didn’t blog in response.
The Billy Goad scene described resonates for me because it is something of a world I’ve seen glimpses of …. Ben Hecht, who he mentions, after all, was from my home town Racine. The pubs I’ve frequented where everybody knows your business. The Billy Goat place where journalists went out and found stories about regular people .. they didn’t make heroes of them ..in fact, putting communism aside, they were ready to really see these people as groveling Social Darwinians. A book I cherish is Hecht’s 1001 Afternoons in Chicago, and I surely had it in mind as I worked with Sunnyland to write Sunnyland Blues. When Brooks was in Chicago..there was a dedication still to telling the story. In Chicago it was a story about corruption of the prairie. Hecht, Dreiser, Sandburg told it. And newspapers were lively.
This type of journalism was formative for me. And you can still see it today. But as Brooks says, the Billy Goat has changed. The tone of the town and is representation on pulp has changed. TV and web and cable buzz. Funnily, perhaps the Times on Sunday July 23, 2006 ran a story about how major cities are more than ever becoming places without middle classes. Do the poor read? Do the rich read about the poor? Questions asked now on Traveler St and Morrissey Blvd. in Boston.
Let’s say it’s a summer afternoon, and the beer is cold, the Billy Goat might be the place to be! I have a sense that Dusty Baker has to go.
In 1956, Marvin Minksy, Claude Shannon, John McCarthy and others gathered at the Ivy League school and started the long formal trek to Artificial Intelligence [AI], although machine intelligent may be the better term. Kubrik’s movie 2001, much more than is posthumous film, AI, gave artificial life to some heady machine notions, but after Cambridge’s AI Alley [a home for several commercial ventures aimed at harnessing young AI] went sour, the AI egg had a great fall.
Fuzzy logic and Neural Nets did not carry the baton much further. The intelligence of a three-year-old human is still an elusive goal. David Stork, in his introduction to Hal’s Legacy  suggests that the makers of 2001 had – in terms of predicting futures, not in terms of making a great movie -- had an inadequate understanding of the limits of software, and that the AI community had similar shaky notions.
No unifying theme has marked AI over the years, although Minksy tried with The Society of the Mind to bring things together. To connect many small processes. The book had its followers, but it didn’t seem to help the AI case. Now much later in his career, Minksy is preparing The Emotion Machine, due this fall. He talked with Technology Review’s Wade Roush on the 50th anniversary of the Dartmouth Conference, which had commemorative 50th anniversary sessions. Looking toward the next 50 years. Done so at a time when a naïve spirit is afoot that wants to test the notion that some rough set of network algorithms working on highly distributed systems might start the intelligencer percolating.
Common Sense seems to be on Minksy’s mind; I guess I should of known that, having attended a session he moderated on A Calculus of Common Sense not too long ago.
He tells Wade:
“ … the kinds of AI projects that have been happening for the last 30 or 40 years have had almost no reflective thinking at all. It's all reacting to a situation and collecting statistics. We organized a conference about common-sense thinking about three years ago and we were only able to find about a dozen researchers in the whole world who were interested in that.”
Researchers uninterested in common sense. Who’d a thunk it. Says Minksy of the upcoming book:
“The main idea in the book is what I call resourcefulness. Unless you understand something in several different ways, you are likely to get stuck. So the first thing in the book is that you have got to have different ways of describing things. I made up a word for it: "panalogy." When you represent something, you should represent it in several different ways, so that you can switch from one to another without thinking.
The second thing is that you should have several ways to think. The trouble with AI is that each person says they're going to make a system based on statistical inference or genetic algorithms, or whatever, and each system is good for some problems but not for most others. The reason for the title The Emotion Machine is that we have these things called emotions, and people think of them as mysterious additions to rational thinking. My view is that an emotional state is a different way of thinking… we happen to have a hundred names for emotions, but not for ways to think.”
Dissolution, pessimism; was the fear of HAL AI’s greatest moment? Minsky scared me in the Society of the Mind days. But I am looking forward the The Emotion Machine. [Just as a footnote, Marvin Minsky lives a round these parts. On a sunny day, I recall seeing him carefully trying to navigate an intersection [in what I recall was a Volvo].
Technology Review article - Marvin Minsky on Common Sense and Computers That Emote Online version of The Emotion Machine in manuscript
The Dartmouth AI at 50 home page
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Monday, July 24, 2006
Back in the day signals were electronic, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic –but not yet a memory web for a robot insect army. I heard feedback. And echo. On many nights the Zenith like a fireside. I would star through the holes in the radio’s backside. I saw feedback, wondering at tubes -- the glass vacuum tubes, were golden with hot filament lights radiant.
The Midnight Special would come in from Chicago …
Sunday, July 23, 2006
On April day in 2000, in Boston, they again put the needle in the groove, the cannon of orchestra salvoed, and the pensioners, Brahmin and punters heard the master voice. He said ‘I was alive on the Earth and here is what it was like.’
Beethoven world’s is somewhat like Mars to us now. Or we are Mars, I don’t know. The message I was heard was as if from space, or, I thought, this would be a worthile message to send spaceward in case the planet needs to be reconstructed from a few small existent artifacts. Like sea monkeys from sponge grindings. Carl Sagan set up some of these notions with his Voyager record.
Listening has attuned Shroud the Latter. For years, drive time Boston, WCRB has been playing Mozart [only a portion, though]. This Guy Mozart didn’t have guns and history in his music as far as we know. But had a unique human diction overlaid on nature. Send him in the Sagan machine, too we say. To the stars, Alice. So, when Atlantis blows up, they can reconstruct us better some day. When I hear the WCRB Mozart Block, I always stop for a minute and try to get on the wave length of the genius. The player piano roll across an eon.
Yesterday, a sweet winded evening in hot July, wine and reading on the vacationing summer porch…reading New Yorker magazine, Alex Ross. One of Shroud’s original resources to leave Wisconsin: The New Yorker. Ross describes Mozart and The Storm of Style. He set about to get with Mozart big time. As part of that process he transferred the Philips complete Mozart edition [180 CDs] to iPod [9.7 gigabytes]. So he groks on his iPod on and on and basically get through the whole Mozart in 3 months. “I got the feeling,” writes Ross, “that Mozart’s brain contained an array of musical archetypes that were connected to particular dramatic situations or emotional states – figures connoting vengeance, reconciliation, longing, and so on.”
For example, “the idea of forgiveness apparently triggered certain sounds in his mind.”
Sounds in the mind are still lost on the AI machinery. Last week was the 50th birthday of Artificial Intelligence. Did Geri Miller jump out of a cake for Marvin Minsky as for Mick Jaegger? If I have seen anything, I have seen one of its offshoots, neural networks; did sink in the morass of hype. The same could be said of AI generally, featured in a somewhat recent film of the same name, but it is more complicated than that. As recent post indicates, if it works, it aint AI, anymore. I suspect ‘archetypes’ is what they AI crew is moving at, as is the ‘what is consciousness’ bunch.
Archetypes haunt me. Learned first about them as part of comparative religion studies. Archetypes seem an apt description for the grey chimera that chunk-like hover in the mind at night. When the life and times meld in networked signal clusters. The tough thing about this part of Shroud’s life ... they begin to corner you. I find myself like the kid suddenly alone in the department store that moves from joy, to worry, to the edge of panic, as the situation becomes apparent.
But when I go, at least I know, Marvin Minsky will be as far away as I am from an accurate model of the human nogginworks. Very small gratis.
[But that’s not what I came here speak to you about]
Introducing: The Anvil of Civilization
When I first got to this town, honey -- I had a library job at night.
I would take the last Red Line train out of Boston South Station.
Would run like the devil -- to make my connections. I had to catch that train.
Had to make the South Shore all right.
And the Second-Shift Postal Workers from South Station Annex
They’d be getting on too. And I came to befriend Fred - Mail Sorter 1st class.
He carried the Boston Herald American going south to Nantasket.
It was midnight run, mind you, and his Herald was becoming
Yesterday’s news. I knew no one. And found a friend in Fred.
Tired. We would speak. In short sighs. As workers do. Devoted as much attention to the streaming landscape. Eyeballing it in stupor. World where halogen lights were passing car lots. As much our minds on that than on over-simmering Watergate imbroglio.
An archetype formed. Fred on the train. This was 1974.
During the making of this blog, found interesting site knows as The Celestial Monchord http://www.celestialmonochord.org/2006/04/john_cohen_and_.html
By Jack Vaughan
Let me tell you - Live .. in joy; people, Love - in a world of hate
Let me tell you – Live.. in joy; people, Love - in a world of hate
Don’t worry bout tomorrow. Tomorrow may be too late.
The wars bring hate – who can say who really wins?
War brings hate – who can say who really wins?
You may sort it out in Valhalla, but in Nirvana your wheels will spin.
Don’t walk with a fool – his road is dark and blue
Don’t walk with a fool – the road will be too blue
The moon walks through the stars – it casts a better light for you.
For five years – my TV on the blink
For five long years – my TV on the blink
Now it-s back on - exploding - and I struggle when I think
I was in my bed sleeping - boys what a dream!
I was in my bed sleeping - boys what a dream!
Had the TV Dharma blues – all about exploding screens.
Let’s live in joy – let’s love in a world of hate
Let’s live in health – love, and work for change
Cant wait until tomorrow – tomorrow may be too late.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Lampson: “The reason philosophy is always in a mess is the same way AI is a mess. Anything that becomes successful gets spun off. For example, machine vision. [AI] will continue to have successes and continue to have a mess.”
Lampson then mentioned intelligence amplification and Doug Engelbart [who was a former colleague] but I really couldn’t pick up his drift.
Then he turned attention to Google and The Big Scan. People worry about the book scanning, and if humans are turning into cyborgs, he indicated, or that human centered cyborgs are arising [Think: “I was a teenage quant!”], but “We are already cyborgs,” he said
“You haven’t been able to function in world without add-ons for quite some time,” he said.
Course, the Wooden Ship People and People in Trees might differ.
Intelligence amplification on Wikipedia
Doublas Engelbart on Fleabyte
Microsoft's Lampson at Usenix: Write software that expects to fail!
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The Application Development Media Group had an outing to commemorate K's departure for Barcelona and it was the Milky Way Lounge in J.P. and they had bowling [candlepin] and pizza and karoke.
I did Hard to Handle by Otis Redding. A boast song. Think I did You Dont Miss Your Water once in Madison..but never did Otis live before. He was like one of my music gods since I first saw him in the movie Monterey Pop. Crushed when he died in Madison plane crash. Got to his memorial their by the lake. Hard to Handle is hard to sing! Here is to you Big O!
Monday, July 17, 2006
Sunday, July 16, 2006
But Gordon is more than just fascinated. He can write hundreds of words about this. Check out his Ben-Hur Epic on BrightLights Film. He zeros in on the author of Ben Hur, Lew Wallace, and Indiana cat.
Lew Wallace appears to have been one of those great American eccentrics, a loner interested more in proselytizing than in cranking out mainstream product, but who knew his fat sermon would sprout such legs? The Ben-Hur films could be seen as archetype for the whole sword-and-sandal genre that survives in Hollywood to this day — the revenge-motivated story arc serving projects like Braveheart and Gladiator surely originated with Ben-Hur — yet, when it was published in 1880, Wallace’s novel nearly sank without a trace.
Read Gordon's take on 'this vampy Egyptian business...
It all gets a little silly, this vampy Egyptian business in the ’25 picture, and Wyler was wise to drop it, but Iras, in the novel, gives the story a real shot in the arm. Final events may reveal her to be a crass opportunist — and Messala’s girlfriend — but Iras remains the most interesting character in the book. In sly rebellion against her aging wise man father, she presents a demure front to the world as she privately strives for everything the old man is against, i.e., worldly wealth and power. Alone with Judah, she acts surprisingly modern: forthright, witty, and demonstrative with her sexuality. She actually asks him out, and, with a pretty little lake in the Orchard of Palms providing an excuse for a boat ride under the stars, mans the rudder. Ben-Hur, sensing something amiss in the gender politic, comes off as simply inadequate, not morally superior to, this smart, powerful woman. In the epilogue-like last chapter, when the unredeemed Iras appears bedraggled and diseased in front of the smiley-faced, Christianized Hurs, the reader might feel like bitch-slapping Wallace.
Do better go read Gordon's complete opus.
For better, but usually for worse, Rousseau lived in a time when the byproducts of French colonialism, aided by new means of mass reproduction, seem to have provided the folks back home with some of their most popular, titillating forms of entertainment. Wild beasts, people and adventures were depicted in pulp novels, postcards, photographs and tabloid magazines like Le Petit Journal, whose color covers depict, pre-Barnum and pre-Hollywood, a dazzling stream of rampaging tigers, damsels in distress, bloodthirsty natives and embattled explorers and animal trainers. Real animals could be seen in the city’s zoo... writes NYT's R.Smith, as National Gallery show opens.
This conflict of '1st' and third world of dream [with nobody on] was coming to a bad end. How would R. measure his dreamworld's muckening?
Thursday, July 13, 2006
The local department store has given way, just like the local grocery store, the local appliance store, or local shoe store. The tipping point was a long time ago. Several years ago Filenes became part of Federated stores. The Filenes stores that survive will become Macy’s stores. The central HQ on Washington St in Boston will close. The caravan moves on.
Just as surely, small bits and pieces of the world we grew up in fade away. Commercial mergers and bankruptcies happen – but, in turn, small parts of the civic fabric are rent. Does the manager of a national chain take less interest in the doings of the Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau or the Civic Improvement Association than does the president of the local department store? Since it has no point it is not the kind of question we tend to ask anymore.
The Filene’s Bros., R.H. Stearns or the Jordan Marsh of Boston were in their times barons of sorts – of no more interest now than Charlemagne and his barons. In their days, they were lords of the city, forming a merchandising class with distinct social oblige.
Unique among all was Edward A. Filene. His family came to this country as part of the Prussian-German exodus of 1848. And, like a lot of those folk, he inherited some innovative ideas about man and society. He was eager, as the Filenes store succeeded, to improve the lot of Filene’s workers, and of the city of Boston. This reached a culmination of sorts when, at Filene’s request, muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens came to Boston in 1909.
Filene and Steffens formed an inspired partnership, with civic duty as the bond. Filene influenced the Merchant’s Association to hire Steffens, at a salary of princely $10,000 per year, to uncover corruption in Boston.
He hired Steffens to write the “Boston 1915 Plan.” Within six years it would be a better town. Steffens would uncover corruption of police and politic as he had elsewhere, most notably in NY during Teddy Roosevelt’s term as police commissioner.
By the time he came to Boston, Steffens had refined his investigative methods, which required the reporter to find the individuals that most influenced the life of a city, to ascribe their motives, and to examine the areas where one group’s interests conflicted with another’s.
Filenes and Steffens were not out to revive abstract ideals. Instead they were -- in the thrall of some trends of the day -- interested in finding a new model for society that worked within the reality of the times. Boston was corrupt. This wasn’t a surprise to too many; to Steffens the muckraker, it was very familiar, and, ultimately, he tired of the Boston assignment. But, for a time he lived on Beacon Hill, and summered, with Filene, in Marblehead, and went about copiously inspecting the city and its phalanxes, all the time on salary.
New England, Steffens described, as ‘darkest America.’ Worse, he said, then Philadelphia. By describing the vices of the town, and the links that had formed between the police and business interests and the vice mongerers, he thought he could lead the way to removing corruption from the principality. This came at a time in Steffens life when he was as interested in effecting change as he was in disclosing corruption.
Steffens found plenty of material, most especially in a series of interview sessions with ward boss Martin Lomasny. During his Boston days, he came to influence two future journalists of note, John “Jack” Reed and Walter Lippman, both Harvard students at the time.
For his part, Filene believed in a sort of controlled socialism, influenced as well, perhaps, by the writings of his friend Louis Brandeis. He offered his workers profit sharing, and company incorporation papers foresaw a day when the employees might vote to take over ownership of Filenes. It didn’t happen. Filenes himself was booted along the way. The idea of a merchant like Filene as patron to an investigative reporter like Steffens would be odd to day -- it may have been odd in the early 20th Century, but it happened!
Like an Internet millionaire of today, Filene promoted the vision. Here it is as described by Justin Kaplan in his biography of Steffens: “Shuffling through the Filene’s Exposition in Copley Square … the citizens of Boston were treated to movies, an Italian marionette show, statistical charts, displays of model housing of the future, and a demonstration, put on by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of advanced methods of garbage collection.” All still matters of interest!
Filene’s notions did not turn into a Chamber of Commerce-backed social movement. What he is best known for is the Automated Bargain Basement, where the prices on items were reduced each day of the month, until what was left was hauled off to the Salvation Army.
Certainly the manager of the Boston’s Macys that takes the place of Filenes can become an exceptional figure in Boston’s civic life. But a national chain seldom has a local sensibility. And the sensibilities of ethics may be ones best monitored locally.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
He won’t talk. He is executed.
He is still alive. The French Resistance colonel is happy
to meet him in his coffin.
A sea plane across the clouds. A steam locomotive is
superimposed on a map of state-divided America.
He meets the head of the SS asking for a match
near Waterville Junction.
After the fight, the Spysmasher is saved by his
twin brother Allen, who wasn’t killed
in a plane crash over France.
The Corby Estate.
Someone just came into the drive.
Allen approaches in a a plane, goggles, leather skull hat.
Spysmasher jumps out – parachutes.
The two gangsters attack the head of Naval Intelligence.
“Open the safe”
“I’ll do noting of the sort.”
“Good going dad”
“Shall I work him over?”
“I’ll open it”
Spysmasher ballet moves into the house
- like a leaping lizard.
Jack is there to thwart the hold up
The mine chart of Shark Bay…
Through goggles he looks at the speedboat.
Until he’s fouled his propeller.
The gangsters smoke cigars as
the buoys of counterfeit money are loaded.
The boys are in the cove – cellar.
With electronics on the wall, and they
drop down the pole to the sewer.
A mustachioed dude runs things.
As Spysmasher gets a clue.
The two brothers go to Admiral Corby
- a roast beef sandwich and a cup of coffee.
How’s everything downstairs?
We brought enough of that stuff to blow all the tea in China.
A case of grenades are put in the car…
Making the other guy blink.
Like a fly to flypaper,
Spysmasher jumps to the roof of a flying car.
To battle a wrestling man until
he jumps off just before the crash.
The chase is interminable.
Two men grab motorcycle handle bars
as they head across back projections.
We all have characters with no charities.
We peek through the windows at the gold.
The criminals talk well
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