Entries Tagged 'Technology' ↓

Still Greedy, Still No Good: In New Teaser for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Gordon Gekko Shows He’s Still Got A Lot of Lizard In Him.

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wall_street_money_never_sleeps_ver2What absolutely thrills me about the teaser for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, right, Oliver Stone’s follow-up to his 1987 classic, Wall Street, are two hilarious sight gags that take place near the 1:00 mark. Both have to do with the release of corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) from prison. (Lovers of the first film, below right, know that it ended with Gekko’s protegé, Bud Fox [Charlie Sheen], turning over information to the Feds that would put Gekko away for a long time.)

Of course, the short’s best visual effect—Douglas’ nearly quarter-century older face—isn’t one, and in a powerful close-up, above, Stone and the actor put it to tremendous use, to convey both the unrecoupable passage of years, Gekko’s great humiliation, and his desire for infinitely lucrative revenge.

wall_street_filmOne of the most fascinating aspects of revisiting definitive works is learning, as one inevitably does, how fungible they were when created. Few, now, could imagine anyone but Michael Douglas as the oily and sinister Gekko, and, ultimately, Douglas was given an Academy Award for his portrayal.

But as noted in Wikipedia, referencing James Riordan’s Stone: A Biography of Oliver Stone and other sources,

the studio wanted Warren Beatty to play Gekko but he was not interested. Stone initially wanted Richard Gere but the actor passed, so the director went with Douglas despite having been advised by others in Hollywood not to cast him. Stone remembers, “I was warned by everyone in Hollywood that Michael couldn’t act, that he was a producer more than an actor and would spend all his time in his trailer on the phone”. But the director found out that “when he’s acting he gives it his all”. The director says that he saw “that villain quality” in the actor and always thought he was a smart businessman.

In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Shia LeBoeuf co-stars as Jacob “Jake” Moore, a Wall St. trader on the come-up, engaged to Gekko’s daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan). From the looks of things, this apparently gives Gekko more than usual parental concerns. Check out the teaser, then the trailer, below.

Also, as a special bonus, watch the original trailer for the first film, also below. When you do, keep an eye out for the very first, brief image after the logo and, realize, yes, that was a different world.

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The “I”s Have It: What Tiger Woods Really Said At His Press Conference.

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You don’t have to go very far into reading the text of Tiger Woods’ apologetic press conference statement, made earlier today, to realize that either he, his handlers, or both, knew the word the disgraced athlete needed to say most, in order to win back public trust, was “I.”

However, it’s only with a textual analyisis of the statement, such as the one I put together, above, courtesy of IBM’s Many Eyes software, that it becomes clear how much Woods was relying on conveying a repentant, personal account.

He used the pronoun “I” 105 times in the short, 13 1/2-minute statement, or an average of about once ever eight seconds. Looking at his most common subjective couplet, “I have,” below—said 16 times—it appears that Woods was attempting to forge an empathetic bond with those listening to his statement by affirming the words they had probably said about him in his absence: You bitterly disappointed us…you brought this on yourself.

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Or check out Woods second-most frequently-used couplet, “I am,” below, where he talks about his present state.

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Finally, study Tiger’s mentions of his wife’s name, Elin, and the complimentary contexts within which Woods praised her.

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Verbally, at least, it seems like Woods knew what he had to say about what he did, how he feels about it, and how he feels about his wife. These were the most important statements for him to make, it can be argued. (He certainly seemed to think so: He only mentioned “golf” twice.)

Though you heard it, and read it in the statement, the Many Eyes software, with this straightforward formatting, creates a slightly better sense of how Woods’ words were organized, and to what end. Indeed, IBM calls Many Eyes “a bet on the power of human visual intelligence to find patterns.”

Funny: That’s what Woods has got to apply, now, towards his own transgressive behavior and missteps.

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The 2012 Delta Wing Concept: Out To Destroy Known Automotive Notions, Checkered Flags, and Human Sanity.

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The first time you see it, especially from this angle, above, your impulsive, random thought is, “That can’t be real.”

2012-delta-wing-indycar-race-car-concept_100306147_lWell, it’s about to be real, baby. The 2012 Delta Wing Concept car, shown, right, from a high angle, and designed by DeltaWing CTO Ben Bowlby

for a consortium of team owners and investors including Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, is supposed to answer all the faults of the existing car, while improving safety and efficiency.

“Today marks a fundamental shift in how race fans and the general public will view all racing cars in the future; this is a game changer” DeltaWing CEO Dan Partel said on the IndyCar Web site. “This radical prototype takes open-wheel racing to a new level from both an engineering standpoint and the overall spectator experience.”

350010167772150storieslarge20100210dranfix96554809The car is startlingly composed of “a rocket-like fuselage, a narrow front track, a very wide rear end, and no wings, front or rear,” say press reports. Debuting this week at the Chicago Auto Show the car caught the eyes of not only the media, but of a number of Indy drivers at the show, including former champ Scott Dixon and current champ Dario Franchitti, above

Bowlby, also a chief engineer for Chip Ganassi Racing, and once a Lola chief designer, said

the car’s reduced aerodynamic drag and lighter weight would offer high performance on the racetrack with only half the engine power of its recent predecessors, and thus increased fuel efficiency.

He expects that the finished car, including engine, will hit 235 mph and cost about $600,000. That’s fast money.

Bombs Away.

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320px-ringmaster_goldenstateEver since I was was in 4th grade, watching the older kids in our suburban grade school fly control line model planes, like this one, right, before class, I’ve possessed a soft spot for the sport of flying scale fueled aircraft. I’ve never had the money or the spare time to commit and truly learn, not to mention master, the art, but I’ve always thought, and think, I might, one day, hunker down and do so.

Imagine my surprise, though, when, peeking into the field several years later, I learned of the astounding levels to which skilled would-be flight jocks and plane builders had taken this pastime. See that B-52 in video still, above? Most people, upon spying the image, would conclude some lucky fan had squeezed off a shot of the U.S. Air Force’s workhorse, off on another mission.

Continue reading →

The Dream of the Blue People.

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avatar-james-cameron-interviewjpg-670a6289770f7c9e_largeThroughout his career, writer/director James Cameron, right, has pushed an insistent, technologically-demanding style of filmmaking seemingly up a cliff. From seeing Star Wars, as a 22-year-old truck driver in his native Canada, to becoming creator of the highest-grossing film in history—1997′s $1.8 billion Titanic—he has taken hold of the film industry by sheer force of will. Meanwhile, with each advancing step, the creator has fought off naysayers and second-guessers, each expecting his next outrageous vision to be his final folly.

With the release of his latest work, Avatar, above, however, Cameron has shattered expectations, as well as creative and financial barriers, to make what is, after five weeks, already the second-highest-grossing film in history, with eyes on its older sister’s No. 1 position.

116347_keegan_rebeccaWho is James Cameron, and what makes him the man and artist he is? In her new book, The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron, author Rebecca Keegan, right, works to get inside his life and thinking. By interviewing Cameron, his family, and his numerous collaborators, the journalist gives a detailed, never-before-seen picture of this remarkable, often confounding auteur; the drive behind the driver, so to speak.

Rebecca Keegan is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 15, at 2 pm ET.

That conversation, though, will be preceeded by a discussion of the crisis in Haiti. This week’s devastating 7.0 earthquake, which killed an estimated 45-50,000 people, deepens the woes of the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation. We’ll examine the disaster, and the forces at work, globally, that keep the country in its troubled state.

You can hear Rebecca Keegan’s thoughts, and others, by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

UPDATE: These are links to the Haiti pieces from which I read during today’s NONFICTION broadcast:

Why We Are Partly Responsible for the Mess that is Haiti by Thomas Fleming

Haiti: the land where children eat mud by Alex von Tunzelmann

Also recommended:

Catastrophe in Haiti by Ashley Smith

Homegrown 3D.

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If the success of Avatar and other theatrical spectacles don’t signal that 3D has crossed an important line in the public consciousness, this upcoming HDTV setup from Panasonic, debuted at the recent CES 2010, seems to certify it. As noted on Designboom, the VT25 series, above, out this spring

comes with a set of 3D glasses that create three dimensional images using the LC shutter system. This technology works by darkening and lightening the left and right lenses on the glasses in synch to the display, which  correspondingly shows the right and left eye images. these flashes are so quick that the human eye cannot perceive them and instead creates the illusion of three dimensions. Panasonic also debuted an accompanying 3D blu-ray player and a 3D video camera.

Of course, fifty bucks says the killer app in home 3D will be porn.

[via designboom.com]

Computerized Racist Cold Shoulder.

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In this great clip, above, now cresting the web, two store employees join across “racial lines” to show that Hewlett-Packard needs to go back to the drawing board. That is, they better if they want their machines to work on a predominantly Black planet.

Visions of a Gorgeous, Green Future.

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That’s “The DoChoDo Zoological Island,” above, a fantastic rendering of an environmentally neutral structure, designed by Brussels-based JDS/Julien De Smedt Architects, from the retrospective of their work, Agenda.

[via bldgblog]

Ronald T. Takaki, 1939-2009

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“He couldn’t deal with it anymore.”—Troy Takaki

In January, I spoke with historian Dr. Ronald T. Takaki about his  book, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, for my WBAI radio show, NONFICTION. Specifically, we talked about the new Obama administration, and especially the president’s inaugural address, which he’d given mere hours earlier.

Almost exactly four months later, on May 26, Takaki, 70, ended his own life. He was, as his son said, above, seeking a way out of the pain and debilitation of multiple sclerosis., having suffered with the degenerative neurological condition for 20 years..

Had I known that I would never talk to Ron Takaki again, would I have spoken to him longer, more penetratingly, or differently, in some other way? Certainly. But, more, I’m honored that I had the chance to speak with him.

9780316022361_154x233I’d heard him talk in-person once before, at an otherwise middling race conference hosted by Michigan State University, about a dozen years earlier. He gave an explanation of the term “master narrative”—the history of the U.S. popularly held to be true by most people, and that our powerful institutions overwhelmingly support and reinforce.

For the most part, the master narrative is the story of white people, their victories, conquests, and supposed brilliance. Other people are attached to that tale, from time to time, like appliqués to a jacket. But the amazing race dominates the conversation.

Then, after explaining this concept, Takaki told his own version of the nation’s history. What I remember most is how, as he traveled through time in his story, different groups would appear, act, diminish, then reappear and repeat, over and over. It was almost like watching a master weaver, but one whose fabric was temporal and societal, not material.

With his sad and unfortunate death, our nation lost an irreplaceable educator and innovator. (Deeper, still, was his family’s loss of a husband, father, and grandfather.)

Thankfully, still, we have his ideas, in the form of his many books, and we also have his voice: Ronald Takaki is a guest today, on this encore presentation of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, November 27, at 2 pm ET.

shemekia-copelandHe’s preceded by blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland, right, and director Joe Stevens, co-creator of the 2008, sound-systems-on-BMX-bikes short, Made in Queens.

You can hear their ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Lady Gaga’s Bathrobe.

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Imagine if you wore this to, say, the Oscars…and someone else showed up in the same dress?

According to 1 Design Per Day,

The Galaxy Dress by designers Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz is made up of 24,000 2mm x 2mm color LEDs and 4,000 Swarovski crystals. It can glow for 30 minutes straight before needing to be recharged.

And, when you put it on to go pee in the middle of the night, you don’t have to turn on the lights.

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