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Ms Niamh advances towards Bethlehem

Friday, 10 November, 2017 0 Comments

“And except on a certain kind of winter evening — already dark and bitter with a wind off the river, when I would be walking very fast toward a bus and would look in the bright windows of brownstones and see cooks working in clean kitchens and imagine women lighting candles…” That evocative image of New York City is from Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a famous collection of essays by Joan Didion published in 1968 that takes its title from the poem The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats.

Today, Niamh O’Brien advances towards our modern Bethlehem and we wish her luck in her ventures and with her adventures in New York. A pair of mother’s gloves and a prayer to Saint Anthony will ensure her well-being in the Big Apple, no doubt.

Niamh

“And except on a certain kind of winter evening — six-thirty in the Seventies, say, already dark and bitter with a wind off the river, when I would be walking very fast toward a bus and would look in the bright windows of brownstones and see cooks working in clean kitchens and and imagine women lighting candles on the floor above and beautiful children being bathed on the floor above that — except on nights like those, I never felt poor; I had the feeling that if I needed money I could always get it.” — Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem


From Kathmandu to Paris, the selfie

Thursday, 9 November, 2017 0 Comments

Sometimes, a headline is more baffling than illuminating. Example: “Oppo to launch selfie expert F5 in Nepal”. Oppo? And who is the “selfie expert” known cryptically as “F5”?

It helps if one knows that OPPO Electronics Corp. is a Chinese electronics firm based in Guangdong that’s intent on grabbing a share of the Asian smartphone market, and its new F5 model is being marketed as the device that “takes camera phones to the next generation.” Then there’s this: “It defies the paradox of marrying Artificial Intelligence technology with organic beauty to create the most natural and stunning of selfies.” How does it do that? Time to revisit our headline about Oppo, the F5 and Nepal. It’s from the Kathmandu Post and, quoting from the press release, the writer notes that “the AI will utilise information from a massive global photo database to beautify a selfie shot taken by the Oppo F5.” Is that “massive global photo database” Getty? Or is it a Chinese venture using surveillance photos for commercial purposes? There’s a story there.

Meanwhile, London-based creative Daniel McKee notes that more than six million people visit the Mona Lisa at the Louvre each year and “Many share their visit on social media.” Using images found on Instagram, he created this:


This time, this night last year

Wednesday, 8 November, 2017 0 Comments

Clinton to win


Stone Head by Viscount Lismore

Wednesday, 8 November, 2017 0 Comments

What is now called Glengarra Wood is a part of County Tipperary that was granted by Charles 1 to Sir Richard Everard in 1640. In the ensuing Cromwellian wars, Sir Richard supported the royalist cause, which resulted in the confiscation of his property and its transfer to the Lismore family, who held the lands until 1940.

Glengarra head

In the latter part of the 19th century, Viscount Lismore built a hunting lodge in the wood and planted the banks of the river and road leading to it with many native and exotic trees, including Cedars of Lebanon, Sequoiadendron, oak, spruce, laurel, birch, alder and Scots Pine. Today, Glengarra Wood is home to some 60,000 threes and the lodge, which is being refurbished as a youth hostel, is guarded by fearsome stone creatures.


Information I need to remember

Tuesday, 7 November, 2017 1 Comment

Ben Bajarin, who describes himself as a “Student of the intersection of human behavior and technology,” focuses on global consumer technology at Creative Strategies in Silicon Valley. From his firm’s smartphone photography study on the things people like to snap, “Information I need to remember” is impressively popular. The smartphone has become an extension of human memory.

smartphones


What to wear to the ‘Dump Trump!’ march

Monday, 6 November, 2017 0 Comments

As the world prepares, somewhat reluctantly, for Wednesday’s celebration of Donald Trump’s election as US President, some members of the grieving Left remain unsure of what to wear. Not to worry. Barneys of Fifth Avenue in The Donald’s home town has the comrades covered for just $375 per M-65 Anarchy Cotton-Blend Field Jacket.

Barneys of NYC


I hear lake water lapping

Sunday, 5 November, 2017 0 Comments

Killarney

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

W. B. Yeats (1865 – 1939)


Singularity approaching

Saturday, 4 November, 2017 0 Comments

What will life be like when the the predicted “singularity” arrives? Visual Suspect, a video production company based in Hong Kong, has come up with a depiction of what, for many, is a terrifying prospect. It’s terrifying because the “technological singularity” is the notion that artificial super-intelligence will trigger rampant technological growth, resulting in revolutionary changes to civilization.

The starting point for those wishing to learn about the singularity hypothesis remains The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology written by the futurist Ray Kurzweil and published in 2005. Three years later, Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis founded the Singularity University in California. It offers educational programs that focus on scientific progress and “exponential” technologies, especially AI.


Kick started

Friday, 3 November, 2017 0 Comments

Congratulations to Hoodman Blind on exceeding their Kickstarter funding goal for the recording, mixing and mastering the band’s debut EP. Drive on!

Hoodman Blind


All our Souls’ Day

Thursday, 2 November, 2017 0 Comments

“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

All Souls' Day

All Souls’ Day

Let’s go our old way
by the stream, and kick the leaves
as we always did, to make
the rhythm of breaking waves.

This day draws no breath —
shows no colour anywhere
except for the leaves — in their death
brilliant as never before.

Yellow of Brimstone Butterfly,
brown of Oak Eggar Moth —
you’d say. And I’d be wondering why
a summer never seems lost

if two have been together
witnessing the variousness of light,
and the same two in lustreless November
enter the year’s night…

The slow-worm stream — how still!
Above that spider’s unguarded door,
look – dull pearls… Time’s full,
brimming, can hold no more.

Next moment (we well know,
my darling, you and I)
what the small day cannot hold
must spill into eternity.

So perhaps we should move cat-soft
meanwhile, and leave everything unsaid,
until no shadow of risk can be left
of disturbing the scatheless dead.

Ah, but you were always leaf-light.
And you so seldom talk
as we go. But there at my side
through the bright leaves you walk.

And yet — touch my hand
that I may be quite without fear,
for it seems as if a mist descends,
and the leaves where you walk do not stir.

Frances Bellerby (1899 – 1975)


All our Saints’ Day

Wednesday, 1 November, 2017 0 Comments

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
— Saint Francis

Our saints

Note: All Saints’ Day was initiated by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon to the Virgin Mary and the martyrs on 13 May 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls’ Day, which follows All Saints. The choice of the day may have been intended to co-opt the “Feast of Lemuria,” which the Religio Romana used to placate the restless spirits of the dead. The Christian holy day was established on 1 November in the mid-eighth century by Pope Gregory III as a day dedicated to the saints and their relics.