"indecision may or may not be my problem."
possibly of very limited interest to most readers, i have put my thoughts from a month of reading about acting onto paper. h.r.i: four lessons from acting method is an informal paper describing some points of inspiration that robot designers might take from the way actors prepare and work. it is free-flowing, speculative, and forward-thinking. but after three days of tinkering around, i think it's in a distributable form, while admittedly not nearly finished or perfect.
Robot design should consider tearing down the implicit barrier between the motor system and the behavior system and think afresh about a combined architecture where both are sides of the same behavior. Motion should not only influence thinking (as it sometimes, but rarely, does), but should be the decision process.
rumour has it that in their freshmen year, more than two thirds of harvard students estimate that they're in the bottom half of their class, while by the time they graduate, more than two thirds estimate that they're in the top half of their class. now that's what i call an education.
things out of my immediate control have led me back to re-open my shut down account on that site, and i immediately remembered why i loved that site in the first place.
here's one of the handful of questions they ask you when you join:
In your opinion, which traditional wisdom is more true? (a) don't put all your eggs in one basket or (b) women can't control their emotions
haaretz's main headline says abbas expects hamas to disarm after joining the palestinian authority, stating
When a movement or militia is transformed into a political party, I would say that there will then be no need for them to possess weapons. There will be only one authority, one law, and one legal gun. The issue is very clear, and this has been common practice throughout history.
while this seems pretty straightforward and logical to the appeasing liberal that i am, what is surprising is that this move is apparently following, among others, american pressure.
isn't it a little weird that this is the american position, when one of the big prides of the local political system (at least to a large part of the population) is that the populace should always be armed and ready to take on the government, in case the government becomes too corrupt or oppressive?
that it's a basic human right to form a militia?
i wonder how the american right, who is running things these days reconciles these two approaches. that is under the false hypothesis that reconciling double standards was part of their philosophy to start with.
kar-ben publishers pulls together american culture and judaism. my favorite is 'matzah ball: a passover story'. the picture says it all.
Because Aaron is invited to the baseball game during the week of Passover, he must bring a bag lunch of matzah and tuna to the stadium. But while his friends are off at the concession stand, something wonderful happens.
via ayelet (links to hebrew page).
tomorrow i will have another stab at my legendary version of harosset. if it works out well, i will post the recipe here soon thereafter.
the delocator helps you find non-corporate cafés by zipcode. i mainly liked the name and the logo, although i do agree with their message, too.
Each [Starbucks] store is designed to deliver the authentic coffeehouse experience. The only way to accomplish this and be profitable and competitive is by making all of the stores identical: the same beverages, food, ambient sounds and smells, even the same simulated coffeehouse interior wall treatments. Their products, services and spaces are quantified: eliminating any subjectivity or variance in their business practices, making all things measurable; homogenized: reducing the entire range of experience to one particular form; and commodified: everything is either directly for sale or in the aide of selling.
conceivably standardized cafés are not really such an affront to the american taste, what with the usual coffee interaction ending in a paper cup that is being drunk while racing to the parking lot, but i personally really like café culture. maybe for the sake of demonstration it would help to imagine that all the bars in boston would turn into mcPubs with big backlit menus over the bar, and beer dispensed in paper cups coming in three sizes 'Good Ole'™ Pint', 'Meadow o'England™ Mug', and 'Royal Crown™ Pitcher'.
cute rant alea sent me about gambling drunk christians in vegas.
Oh, but if we could just tax hypocrisy in this country we wouldn't need any other taxes... all the atheists could afford to build science centers and the churches would go broke because all of their members would owe the government and have nothing left to tithe...
for an unrelated media lab experiment, i was ranked on the big five. i've never heard of those before, but then that's true for a lot of things.
here's how i ranked on a scale of 0-100 compared to 250 business school students on the following five dimensions:
of course the sponsor of tennessees marriage protection act is facing divorce because of his alleged relationship with a senate aide.
guess his act was too late to protect his own marriage.
i've just about had it with hypocritical religious sexuality in america.
for an assignment i am doing, i happen to be recording some of my (and my friends') conversations and then transcribing them with the goal of eventually analyzing the interaction. this is turning out to be much more interesting than i thought at first.
at times the recursive thinking i get into is almost enough to drive me crazy. for the most part, however, i manage to not think about the recording and be pretty natural. but when i get back home with the voice recorder and the text editor it turns out to be surprisingly intense to look deeper inside the way you act and react to other people. powerful stuff.
you don't often have the opportunity to go back and see what you're like with other people in such an objective way. i found that writing it down, specifically transcribing, is the real key, because just listening doesn't really make me feel so lucid. maybe only the act of putting it to paper makes you be real honest about it. especially the parts on which you have the uncontrollable urge to cheat, to change your phrasing every so slightly. to omit just this one remark or word.
another thing i realized is that it's a perfect screenwriting exercise. i've taken a lot of screenwriting classes, but nobody ever told me to record conversations and write them down verbatim. it really opened my eyes about how dialog really works. and let me tell you, it's nothing like what comes out when you try to write something that's supposed to sound 'natural'.
strongly recommended - and try to choose emotionally intense interactions, not just you asking to renew a library book.
"my friend is losing his mind for fear of going insane."
pressure drop, "my friend"
i couldn't find a picture of them online (so consider this somewhat of a web exclusive), but i managed to sneak a shoot of m.'s last pack from the quickly diminishing carton that he brought back with him from tokyo.
walking down the infinite corridor i was passing by a prominently (and perpendicularly) labeled men's room when a bunch of geeky high school students exited en masse underneath the big 'MEN' sign, putting on the best of their manly behavior, the kind that can only be displayed by teenagers in a slightly intimidating college surrounding.
if real life had slow-motion and bad disco music this would have been a wes anderson moment.
doug hofstadter gave a charming talk at the media lab today, and aside from the fact that i felt like he thinks a lot like i often do (the presumption!), he used transparencies, which made his talk so much more fun to listen to.
this weekend i've re-watched polanski's 'bitter moon'. this is my third viewing of the movie, with the last one being almost a decade away.
in my early twenties i thought that 'bitter moon' was the sexiest movie i could imagine. and yeah, it was also a little sad. today i find it less sexy and very very sad.
the acting and editing is getting a little outdated, but it's still one of the most powerful narratives about sex, love, lust, greed, matrimony, and desire that i can think of.
polanski is true to an artist's calling: taking our truths to extremes; not merely looking at the fire, but stepping in, coming back and showing us the burnmarks.
'bitter moon' also reminded me of a time when i felt that films were the highest form of human behavior. but i'm assuming it's only because it reminded me of the mid-nineties.
from "metal performance: humanizing robots, returning to nature, and camping about", by steve dixon, The Drama Review 48, 4 (T184), Winter 2004.
Although robots may not yet be self-aware, they are quintessentially "self-conscious" entities, calculating and computing their every move.
ok, what the hell is this, and who approved this script for public broadbast?
at one point gondry said (relating to the fact that he doesn't like to do too many commercials) that whenever he does something he tries to think what his high-school buddies with the punk rock mentality would think about him, back then. he imagines that he goes back to show them and he couldn't stand them "telling" him in his mind that he betrayed them. "i only want to feel that i didn't betray them". call it immature or naive, but i think it's a pretty good measure to keep as you grow up. maybe not your high school buddies, but i do think that there's no happiness in succeeding through a betrayal of the basic things you believe in.
yeah, i know the currently popular system makes it easy to present talks, but it makes it pretty unbearable to listen to them.
bill maher writes about abstinence in christian american teens with an abundance of puns, and really hits the nail on the head regarding the whole warped way many north-americans view vaginal intercourse.
Is there any greater irony than the fact that the Christian Right actually got their precious little adolescent daughters to say to their freshly scrubbed boyfriends: "Please, I want to remain pure for my wedding night, so only in the ass. Then I'll blow you." Well, at least these kids are really thinking outside the box.
boston metro has a scoop today: 'finding fulfillment in life, when money's so important, takes effort'.
Her colleagues in financial planning recount many a story of successful people, whose ambitions got them where they are, but whose habits of always needing and wanting more made them so restless that they couldn't enjoy their affluence. In an ironic twist, the very factors that allow for material success can and sometimes do undermine the ultimate goals: personal fulfillment, good health, strong relationships and other things that make life worth living.
no, really? this reader is shocked. honestly - sometimes i, too, feel like i'm surrounded by enormous [...] children.
but fear not, a solution is at hand. the groundbreaking philosophical findings of the metro weren't just leftist propaganda, but actually a lead-in to a piece about the new and blooming business of 'life planning', which is considered a sort of new-and-improved financial planning:
[They] ask clients: What is the purpose of money? Do you acknowledge the limits of what it can achieve? How much money is enough, anyway?
About 450 planners have taken a two-day workshop in "life planning," where the California-based Kinder Institute of Life Planning teaches them to probe what clients crave most deeply and then brainstorm creative ways to finance it.
Yup, that really gives off the sense that they learned the lesson taught by not being happy in the rat-race. And no -- as much as I wish I did -- I'm not making this up.
is it just me or does it seem to everyone that the war in iraq has pretty much ceased to interest the headlines, giving way to more feeding-tube related deaths?
the last thing i really heard touted by the media (and admittedly, i'm not following the news too religiously) was how democracy was on the roll in iraq and the middle east.
hey, that reminds me, wasn't there news from syria and lebanon a few weeks ago that was all historic and world-changing? that, too, has been kind of 'eh'ified in the last few weeks?
strange how these things go.
checking up on iraq i found the following surprising:
apr.3: Two Iraqi police, one army officer killed in Mosul... Marine killed in Iraq blast... Iraqi prison attacked by insurgents, one killed... One of the biggest private security firms in Iraq has created outrage after a memo to staff claimed it is 'fun' to shoot people... Britain to pull 5,500 troops out of Iraq...
apr.2: Car Bomb Kills Five Iraqis North of Baghdad... Marine Killed In Ramadi... Insurgents attack Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison...
apr.1: Three US soldiers killed in Iraq unrest... U.S. Soldier Convicted of Killing Iraqi Walks Free...
mar.31: Suicide Attacks Kill Seven in Iraq... One Killed as Gunmen Fire on Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq... Marine Killed In Iraq... U.S. Soldier Killed In Baghdad... American soldier died from wounds... Attacks on American forces are down 25 percent from last fall...
and just in case you're paying taxes this month, the war in iraq cost the united states $160,644,700,000 + change so far.
it goes on like this for the previous days too. you get the point. all stuff that would be headline news before the elections, now that it's over people are like: 'hey, we tried. whatever'.
or maybe repetitive news is just not really news anymore.
But more than anything I couldn't help but notice how much fun the crew must have had making the movie. It is chock-full of just random jokes and ideas, some so psychedelic that they make no sense in the script except that someone was like "wouldn't it be cool if" and then the director and producers were just 'hey - go ahead and do that, if our employees have fun (and not just in the mission statement), the movie will be fun'.
This as opposed to pixar movies (including the great 'incredibles') that really give off a sense of hard work and a tight-run ship more than anything else.
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content here by guy hoffman .. as seen times since march 2004