Statistically, who is the greatest person in history? More to the point, can such a question even be answered? Steven Skiena, a professor of computer science, and Charles Ward, believe it is possible.
And what about religious leaders, scientists, philosophers, artists, and novelists? Can they be ranked as well – in terms of greatness or importance? Might we be able to play some kind of Moneyball with Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, James Joyce, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy? Can cultural figures from diverse fields be ranked against each other? How might we compare Einstein, Plato, Descartes, Hume, Michelangelo, Suzanne Farrell, and Bob Dylan? True, it might be ridiculous, or even a bit crazy, to try. Skeptics might wonder about the point of such efforts: what kind of game is this?
Meanwhile, independent filmmakers have released Mud, The Place Beyond the Pines, Side Effects, Before Midnight, Fruitvale Station, Blue Jasmine, Blue Caprice, Europa Report, The Spectacular Now, Lee Daniels, The Butler, Enough Said, and Don Jon. Between those films and the bigger-budget fare I called out in the previous paragraph, you could fill a perfectly respectable roster of Oscar nominees.
Those residing during Victorian times appeared to enjoy their slang as much as anyone else, in fact, the era was awash with an array of jargon and colloquialisms. And tight pants it seems, that were obviously common enough to be accorded an idiom of their own, “gas pipes”.
By the sounds of it, there are more tunnels of some sort under London than any other city in the world. Sure tunnels are there for the London Underground, sewage, and the like, but beyond those purposes, there are still many more, often little used, or even known of, channels below the British capital.
But why so many? Did someone once believe London’s inhabitants may one day need to live in subterranean caverns on a permanent basis? Actually it may have more to do with the fact that much of London sits atop a clay base, which is ideal for tunnelling through. If tunnels can be built, why not build them then?
London’s congestion created the need for tunnels and its booming economy provided the financing. But what made them feasible was the city’s location. The clay on which most of the city sits provided an excellent tunnelling medium. It is soft enough to be excavated easily, but impermeable enough to stay dry. Once it is burrowed through it will not crumble. It has a “stand-up time”, says Roger Bridge of the British Tunnelling Society; when the first Crossrail tunnel was being built, parts of the section could be bored out and then explored as the clay stayed in place.
Last week I linked to a gallery consisting of impressions of what rock and pop stars, who died before their time, might look like today, were they still alive.
Now The DJ Rio Blog has put together a collection of recent photos of musicians from the 1970s and 80s, including Debbie Harry, Nena, The Human League, Culture Club, Squeeze, and Billy Idol, who are still with us. This, I think, is especially for fans of eighties music.
No sooner does the word “selfie” earn itself title of the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year, than someone digs up what is thought to be the world’s first such photograph, a picture Robert Cornelius, a US chemist, took of himself in 1839.
I get the feeling though this claim may be challenged, but let’s see what happens.
Though only three or so minutes long, the scene we see here was filmed in 342 takes. Further, not all these takes were consecutive… some were filmed, or effectively re-shot, months apart. Chaplin is remembered as a perfectionist, but he was obviously extremely keen to get this scene… just right.
The Australian Infront, a creative and design community I had some part in helping set up in 1999, turns fifteen next year.
I’ve no doubt the Infront crew have a number of events in the pipeline to mark this illustrious occasion, but to get the ball rolling submissions are now open for Visual Response 07, Infront’s long running design-an-image-based-upon-a-single-word challenge, and the theme word this time is, you guessed it, fifteen.
So, read all about it, and get going, you have until Saturday, 7 December, to get something in.
Otherwise, fifteen years is a long time. Over the last week or two, since reading about the upcoming Infront milestone, I’ve found my mind wandering, as my thoughts have drifted back to 1999. It was some year, and the world I live in today differs vastly from the final year of the last century. Then again, it seems nothing has changed at all.
There has been some meandering down memory lane, and recalling of the good old days as it were. I’ve been looking up a few personal websites from the time, that I used to visit regularly. Some are still there, with the same designer, writer, or owner, though they have, needless to say, changed somewhat in fifteen years.
I’ve also been recalling a few old haunts from the day, some of the people I met therein, and recreating, all too vividly at times, some of the situations I found myself in, but hey that’s par for the course for a creative type introvert. It’s really a form of time travel though… if you adhere to the grandfather paradox that is.
This time travel of sorts has not been solely restricted to true-to-life visualisations however. I’ve been quietly rolling the old convertible out of the garage late at night, driving around town, when I’m in town, and going to said places.
I’ve been lucky so far, no one has looked at me like I’m the first Dr Who, or something. So, yes, I’ve been partying, a little, like it was 1999.
Anyway enough reminiscing, maybe there’ll be more another time. We’re back in the present moment now. Carry on.
Stabilised, panoramic, High Definition footage of Abraham Zapruder’s film of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, by Antony Davison.
I also found this article last week about Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, who it is said, as a teenager, used to fire rounds from the apartment block where he lived in the Bronx, in New York City, at neighbouring buildings, with a low-powered air gun.
An interesting addition, to say the least, to what is known about Oswald.