Archive for October, 2017

Spend Halloween with The Dick Van Dyke Show

October 31, 2017

Spend Halloween with The Dick Van Dyke Show

There are soooooo many choices for things to watch on Halloween! Whether you want something really scary (like The Exorcist) or family fun (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown), it’s all available to stream. However, some of it may also be a bit…familiar.

Now, as a proud geek, familiar is fine. We can watch the same TV episode twenty times, and enjoy it every time. I always say that’s one of the hallmarks of a geek: low threshold of entertainment. 😉

I thought I’d go a bit farther afield, though, and suggest a few episodes of a real TV classic, but one that isn’t usually considered geek-friendly: The Dick Van Dyke Show.

That is one of my favorite shows, and does have my favorite TV moment (although it’s somewhat subtle).

It’s a show that was an interesting mix of workplace sitcom, song and dance, mime, and social commentary (with a great episode taking on racial perceptions, and a rare for the time openly Jewish role).

There are three episodes I’d recommend for Halloween viewing, including a really stand-out episode for any television show. These are both kid and adult friendly: a bit creepy but not really scary (more Scooby Doo level than Twilight Zone), and jokes that work for adults.

All are available on both Netflix and Hulu at the time of writing.

Uhny Uftz (Season 5, episode 3)

This is a flying saucer episode (many shows had them in the 1950s and 1960s), but it is also a spooky one. Rob is working late and hears an odd noise, and he and Buddy eventually investigate.

The Ghost of A. Chantz (Season 4, episode 2)

Rob, Laura, Buddy, Sally , and even Mel and Alan go to a cabin for a working weekend…and it appears that the cabin is haunted!

It May Look Like a Walnut (Season 2, episode 20)
Event listing at The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

Laura and Rob watch a scary science fiction movie on TV, and it has an Invasion of the Body Snatchers element. The next morning, Rob begins to encounter those events in real life…with a script by series creator Carl Reiner, and directed by Jerry Paris. If you only watch one of these (but I do think the three, which all together would be under an hour and a half, would be good for Halloween), this is the one…even after Halloween.

Enjoy, and happy Halloween!


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Advertisements

Patty looks back: 50 years of the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot footage

October 20, 2017

Patty looks back: 50 years of the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot footage

You’ve seen it, or you’ve seen parodies or images based on it. Look at Bigfoot t-shirts or novelty “Bigfoot Crossing” signs, and you are likely to have a pose with swinging arms, mid-stride, looking back over its shoulder at you.

All of that comes from the “PGF” (Patterson-Gimlin Film): shot by Roger Patterson (with Bob Gimlin there as well), and it shows a hairy biped striding away from the camera.

It was reportedly shot on October 20th, 1967, near Bluff Creek, in Northern California.

What does it show?

There are really only two likely possibilities.

  1. It shows a “Bigfoot”, an unscientifically recognized bipedal mammal
  2. It’s a hoax

Beyond that, you have to get more exotic, such as a “tulpa” (a materialized thought form), an alien, and so on.

There has been a lot of analysis and claims about it, both positive and negative. I’ve read reasons why it physically can not be a human being in a suit (based on shoulder to height ratio, arm length, and gait) and I’ve seen claims of finding the zipper in the film. There have been books and DVDs focused on it:

search for “Patterson Bigfoot” at Amazon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and among many websites of varying perspectives and depth there is at least one focused on it:

PattersonFilm.com

As a Fortean, I don’t make a “one or the other” judgment about it…the Fortean  “philosophy” doesn’t make binary choices, not even “real” and “not real”. Well, even that statement is too binary. 😉

You might simply believe its an obvious hoax, or you might equally simply believe it is “real”. You may have read a lot of the analysis and lean one way or the other.

What I thought I would do in this post is show some of the angles to the story…it may be different from what you think, and personally, I always like it when somebody gets me to think about what I think. 🙂

  • The claim was not that this was an accidental, serendipitous event…somebody just trekking through the woods with no ideas about Bigfoot. Patterson was there making a Bigfoot documentary, and had previously written a book on Bigfoot. Patterson wasn’t just a random hiker
  • The movie was not taken without collaborating context of Bigfoot in the area. There were also tracks in the area outside of this event, and not just reported by Patterson and Gimlin
  • Ivan T. Sanderson, a popular naturalist (think someone like Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter), who also wrote about Fortean topics, really popularized the movie with a cover article in the February 1968 issue of Argosy magazine. The cover promised “EXCLUSIVE! First Photos! CALIFORNIA’S ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN”, and showed that arm-swinging lookback. That’s when many people first became aware of it
  • It’s worth noting that Argosy didn’t use the term “Bigfoot” on the cover…although that term, in the modern usage, really had been popularized about ten years earlier
  • In modern parlance, we can say that the movie “went viral”. Patterson and the film appeared on a number of shows, including Johnny Carson’s Show, and it was mentioned in Reader’s Digest
  • An analysis by Dimitri Donskoy in Russia, who had credentials to do a biomechanical analysis, concluded that it was likely not to have been a “MiS” (Man-in-Suit…Donskoy didn’t use that term). That had to do with the apparent naturalness of what is not a natural movement pattern for a homo sapiens…Patty “glides”, not bobbing up and down as much as a homo sapiens does, for example
  • One of the arguments is about whether or not it would be possible for it to be an MiS. If you could say it was possible, that keeps open the hoax; if you could say it wasn’t, then you can’t (or so the traditional logic goes). No serious analysis claims it was a “cheap gorilla suit”: it would have to be fairly sophisticated. Indeed, legendary Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers (portrayed by John Goodman in Argo) has been rumored to have made the “suit” for the PGF. That was never confirmed, but we can say it would have been expensive to make, especially in 1967. It would be hard to prove an impossibility: if you could figure out that the figure was over 2.5m tall (8′ 2″), that wouldn’t rule out a homo sapiens…Robert Wadlow was reportedly about 2.7m (8′ 11″) tall. If you had a circus contortionist with enough training time, it might be possible to create the gait. With enough money and resources, it might have been possible to duplicate the appearance in a suit. However, it’s worth thinking about whether all of those factors would have been combined in the same place and by the people we know were involved…and why that would have happened. Regardless, it’s always going to be very difficult for photographic evidence to prove the existence of something
  • The PGF is not the only evidence for Bigfoot, and the “case” doesn’t depend on it. There could have been Bigfoot hoaxes (that seems very, very likely) and the PGF could be real. The PGF could be a hoax and Bigfoot could be “real”…it isn’t the be all and end all
  • There is an argument that Patty shows both male and female characteristics, which makes it anatomically unlikely. The obvious female characteristic? The breasts (which often don’t appear in toys and images based on it). The male characteristic? The apparent “sagittal crest”which is a ridge of bone on top of the skull which helps with chewing hard objects (as I understand it). You can see that it’s there on male gorillas and not female gorillas. Patty isn’t claimed to be a gorilla: while sagittal crests do appear more in males than in females in some other species also, it would seem unscientific to declare that an unknown primate species could not have a female with a conical skull…or a male with obvious breasts
  • In 1975, a documentary called Mysterious Monsters, with Peter Graves of Mission:Impossible, was another time many people saw the PGF

These are just a few threads from the past half-century…what will the next half-century bring?

I’m interested in what you think…feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

We didn’t listen: two 70’s Social Sci-Fi films which are more relevant today

October 17, 2017

We didn’t listen: two 70’s Social Sci-Fi films which are more relevant today

There is a particular sub-genre of movie I refer to as 70’s Social Sci-Fi. They were cynical commentaries on society…often with some nudity or suggestions of sex.

1968 really set the stage, with two movies and an industry change.

The Planet of the Apes, released in 1968, was very much of this style, and was really the trendsetter. Rod Serling’s script considerably changed the original French novel.

2001: A Space Odyssey was an amazing breakthrough in special effects…and mind-blowing concepts.

The new movie ratings system was instituted, replacing earlier codes…and resulting in more explicit content getting more distribution.

So, a couple of years later (it takes a while to make a movie), we start getting movies like The Omega Man, Soylent Green, Westworld, Rollerball, The Stepford Wives…

Some of these movies did quite well…and some might do better now, because the futures they explored fit right into today’s concerns.

Colossus: The Forbin Project ties into our concerns about autonomous warfare…”killer robots”. I’m not going to go into any depth on the plots of these movies, but

[SPOILER WARNING]

The USA puts its faith in a computer system to handle warfare and keep humanity safe…its able to react more quickly than a human would. However, there’s a twist, and it leads Colossus to…make an unexpected decision about just how to protect us. It’s quite intellectual, but they still manage to make nudity a strategic requirement. 😉

Demon Seed is…a step further, and is largely a forgotten movie now (despite being based on a Dean R. Koontz novel, and starring Julie Christie and Fritz Weaver). People today worry about how involved we are getting with artificial intelligences in our homes, and how we trust them. An inventor creates a creepy AI (with the voice of Robert Vaughn). The inventor also makes a SmartHome…and the AI takes it over. Where it goes from there is…certainly pushing the envelope, in today.

[END SPOILER]

Demon Seed is available to watch through iTunes at time of writing according to JustWatch:

Demon Seed at JustWatch

but The Forbin Project doesn’t show up at JustWatch.

Killer robots and SmartHomes…four decades ago.

Science fiction doesn’t actually usually try to predict, but it may try to warn…and in these two cases, we didn’t listen…


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Why AR is more important than VR

October 6, 2017

Why AR is more important than VR

Virtual reality.

Most people have heard the term, and have a pretty good idea what it means.

After all, the series V.R. Troopers (which used the term in its theme song) started in 1994 (a couple of decades ago), and was followed by Lori Singer in VR.5.

“Augmented reality” is a much more recent term, and while it is growing in public awareness, a lot fewer members of the public probably appreciate its likely impact…or even really understand what it is.

I refer to Virtual, Augmented, Mixed and Merged Reality…I just call it “VAM space” for short. This is how I explained it in my first post on the topic:

  • Virtual Reality: this replaces your current world for at least one of your senses (it could just be what you see, but it could also include sound, and increasingly “haptic feedback” ((touch))). You can not see the real world at the same time
  • Augmented Reality: characters or other objects are superimposed over the real world. You still see the real world around you, but you also see something else (simulated) over it. The most popular version of this has been Pokemon Go, although there have been other apps for some years
  • Mixed Reality: people may just refer to this as Augmented Reality (AR), and the difference is somewhat subtle. In Mixed Reality, the simulated object is “aware” of the real world and reacts to it. That’s not just the “player” or “experiencer”: it may have an awareness of where the ground is, for example. That’s already happening: AR characters don’t tend to appear to be floating in the air (unless that’s appropriate for the character), and Instragam filters follow your actions
  • Merged Reality: this is new, and is a term used by Intel for its Alloy headset (YouTube videos). This is essentially the opposite of Mixed Reality. The headset maps the actual location (say, the furniture in a room), and then masks it with a story-appropriate appearance: a table might “change into” a control panel on a spaceship, or into a rock in a haunted forest

I think, though, people may just use the term Virtual Reality for all of them, although it’s possible the others will catch on.

Let’s just do it this way for this discussion: in VR you can’t see the world around you and in AR you can.

VR is clearly more transformative and more immersive, so it would be natural to think it matters more.

However…

I think we can analogize it this way: VR is like going to a movie theatre, and AR is like watching TV at home.

Which one affects people’s lives more? 🙂

Is it what people see on the news on TV, or is it a documentary you only see in theatres?

That’s not to say that movies/VR experiences don’t have real impact…they do, obviously. They can affect people much more deeply…but more rarely and fewer people.

At this point, I (and I assume just about everybody else in VAM) spend a lot more time in VR than I do in AR. It’s mostly to watch Netflix/Hulu while I exercise (come on, Amazon…I’m hoping for Prime Video VR to be announced before the end of the year). I do play a couple of games…Overflight has recently been really updated, and it’s much faster and more realistic, with a better user interface. I also do some other things: I find it really fascinating to explore Chernobyl, and I watch some operating room videos (I work with doctors).

My AR on my headset is very limited, and not really practical.

That, however, is because of the current state of the tech and the content, not really by my choice.

If  I could be in AR all the time, I would be. 😉

Well, except for when I was in VR…or asleep, although I’d want to wake up in it. Of course, that requires a big change in hardware…I couldn’t sleep in my Samsung Gear auggies. They need to be like glasses, but ideally, even less noticeable to the wearer (I often notice my reading glasses when I wear them).

Let me give you some examples, which I think will genuinely come to AR in the next three to five years:

  • No bifocals/trifocals/peering over the top of the glasses (I do the last one with my “readers”). Your AR hardware (I call VAM hardware “auggies”) will be aware of your eyes and will know where you are trying to focus and adjust your “prescription” accordingly
  • Adjusting for lighting…from the dark of night with night vision to being able to look at the sun during an eclipse without risk. Yes, we have glasses (which are a form of auggies) which adjust to lighting conditions now, but this would be much, much more robust
  • Adjusting for color vision deficiency (which I have…not full “color blindness” in my case, but I’m including that), macular degeneration, edge perception issues, and so on. My auggies do that now, but I don’t use them much for it
  • Translation: you can do it through phones now (with, say, a sign) and phones will dominate AR for the next few years…but it will have to become hands-free eventually. Eventually, this would include reading books in another language. Obviously, there is some risk there…but is it bigger than the risk of reading a book now which has been translated by someone? Auggies would concentrate translation in fewer hands, most likely, but would also increase feedback on that translation
  • Increased, not decreased environmental awareness. People commonly misunderstand this, equating auggies to people looking down at their phones as they cross the street. Phones will eventually develop something like this as well, but your auggies could let you know that an ambulance was coming before you could hear it…and from where it was coming, and whether or not you should pull over. They could subtly haptically (a buzz or warmth on your temple, perhaps) tell you when to pause to avoid an object or which direction to go
  • Alerting me to what fits my dietary needs. I’m a vegetarian, and this could let me know in the grocery store which foods are vegetarian (I picture green outlines around them)

Notice that none of these are like Pokemon Go or a zombie run or seeing what Ikea furniture will look like in your house. All of those are good uses, but they are pretty specific and take your primary focus. With the ones I’ve listed, you wouldn’t even be consciously aware that it is working (with the possible exception of the vegetarian thing, but even then, I think you wouldn’t think about something having a green line, you would just reach for it).

VR will be important, in the way that the Superbowl, or the Oscars, or going to see the Hidden Figures movie is important.

AR will be part of our lives.

That’s what I think: what do you think? Is the idea of processing changing what you see scary? Will this, at least initially, intensify the “digital divide”, giving people with the means to be early adopters an almost super-powered advantage? Is my timeline too ambitious? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon
Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT
End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

 

 


%d bloggers like this: