Search Results For turing

Picturing Prufrock

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 11 2014 @ 2:32pm


Julian Peters creates comic-book adaptations of poetry, with subjects ranging from Keats to Poe to Rimbaud. His latest is T.S. Eliot’s classic, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” In an interview, Peters explains why he chose it:

First off, because it is one of my very favourite poems. The language is incredibly beautiful, of course, and lord knows I can relate to Prufrock’s indecisiveness. And it is one of those poems that has always spontaneously created a multitude of vivid images in my mind’s eye. I also think it is just the sort of poem that works best as a poetry comic. First because it lays forth a narrative of sorts, and second because it is not too concrete in its imagery, so that in converting it into visual form there is little risk of being too straightforwardly illustrative. …

[U]ltimately the most challenging aspect of making poetry comics for me is getting the pacing right. There should be a rhythmic flow to the comic that captures the corresponding flow of the poem. Achieving this is mainly a matter of how to break up the text between the panels, how to arrange the panels, how to pace the visual narrative, and where to place the text in relation to the imagery. Of course, these aspects can be judged the most successful the less the reader is immediately aware of them.

Last month, a Boston Globe profile of Peters’ work underscored the connection between comics and poetry:

“[O]nce people realized that comics are a medium that can be used to express any number of things,” Peters says, “there was no reason they couldn’t be paired in a more serious way with poetry.” In 2007, the Poetry Foundation furthered the connection with an intriguing series called “The Poem as Comic Strip,” in which cartoonists interpreted some of the poems in the foundation’s archives. The comics are still online at the foundation’s website.

Peters’s work is a great argument for the commonalities between poetry and comic books. The lines of poetry and his comic panels hang together with an unexpected ease, as if their forward rhythms are in synch. Both the words and the images unroll across the page, visually, with the panels sometimes matching the line breaks or stanza breaks. Poetry, unlike most prose, can involve leaps of thought from line to line, which jibes with the way comics leap from panel to panel.

(Hat tip: Micah Mattix. Drawing of Prufrock’s opening lines courtesy of Julian Peters)

Belated Justice For Turing

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 30 2013 @ 7:35pm

Alan Turing, the great British mathematician who cracked Nazi codes and later killed himself after the government chemically castrated him for being gay, received a posthumous royal pardon last week, 61 years after his conviction (NYT). Peter Tatchell wants the pardon extended to everyone convicted under the “gross indecency” law, which remained on the books until 2003:

Why him alone? Singling out Turing for a royal pardon just because he was a great scientist and very famous is wrong in principle. The law should be applied equally, without fear or favour, regardless of whether a person is a well-known high achiever – or not. Selective redress is a bad way to remedy a historic injustice. At least 50,000 other men were convicted under the same ‘gross indecency’ law from the time it was first legislated in 1885 until its repeal in 2003. They have never been offered a pardon but deserve one, equally as much as Turing. An estimated 15,000 men of these men are still alive. It is not too late for them to receive a measure of justice in the form of a royal pardon.

Ally Fogg is on the same page:

Turing should be forgiven not because he was a modern legend, but because he did absolutely nothing wrong.

The only wrong was the venality of the law. It was wrong when it was used against Oscar Wilde, it was wrong when it was used against Turing and it was wrong when it was used against an estimated 75,000 other men, whether they were famous playwrights and scientists or squaddies, plumbers or office clerks. Each of those men was just as unfairly persecuted, and many suffered similarly awful fates. To single out Turing is to say these men are less deserving of justice because they were somehow less exceptional. That cannot be right.

Back in July, David Allen Green suggested an alternative to pardoning Turing:

A recent statute – the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 – provides a scheme where those who had been convicted of the section 11 offence (and similar offences) can apply for their entire criminal records to be removed if the facts of the case would no longer count as a crime.  It would be as if the offence had not been committed at all.  These are not pardons – they go much further: the 2012 scheme removes the taint of criminality altogether, and with no fussing about not affecting the conviction or the sentence.

But the 2012 scheme is only for those still alive.  However, there is no good reason why it cannot be applied retrospectively.  It would have the merit of consistency.

Cass Sunstein warns us against congratulating ourselves on our current enlightenment:

In much of the world, same-sex relations remain a criminal offense. Just last week, the Ugandan legislature passed a law that would impose life imprisonment for homosexual activities. It wasn’t until 2003 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex acts couldn’t be criminalized. Most states continue to forbid same-sex marriages. In other domains, even democratic nations authorize practices that will be seen a few decades from now as cruel and unjust, prompting future generations to ask: How could they have done that? This week’s long-overdue pardon was a good way to pay tribute to Alan Turing. An even better way would be to scrutinize our own practices with that question in mind.

Capturing America’s Conflicts

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 11 2013 @ 6:00pm

In honor of Veterans Day, the Washington Post has created Portraits of War, a portfolio of some of the greatest war photography of the last 150 years. Among the ten featured photographers is Mathew Brady:

dish_bradyBrady remains the single most famous photographer of the Civil War. His name came to overshadow those of other photographers, causing some mistakenly to believe that Brady had almost single-handedly created the immense photographic archive. Brady deserves credit for envisioning the possibility of using photography systematically to document the war. He would send teams of photographers – and occasionally go himself – to create images of battlefields and important leaders. His public display of “The Dead of Antietam” was the first time the American public viewed images of dead soldiers on the battlefield.

Brady’s efforts to document the Civil War pushed him into a series of bankruptcies. In the years after the war, he campaigned to get Congress to buy his collection of negatives and prints. In 1875, Congress finally bought the rights to his work for $25,000.

See the full tribute here.

(Photo of Union soldier by gun at US Arsenal, Washington DC, 1862, by Mathew Brady via Wikimedia Commons)

Fisher passes along the above interview with war photographer Goran Tomasevic:

Tomasevic, who is Serbian, began working for Reuters in 1996, covering political instability in his native Belgrade. He has since become one of the best-known war photographers currently working. If you’re in the Washington, D.C., area, you can see some of his photos at the Corcoran Gallery, which is hosting a wonderful war photography exhibit through the end of September.

Capturing Egypt’s Killings

Patrick Appel —  Aug 21 2013 @ 5:13pm
by Patrick Appel

Max Fisher has an interview with Egyptian photographer Mosa’ab Elshamy. He reflects on “how significant events really end up taking seconds”:

As a photographer you always have to keep the shutter on — we call it the burst mode. I have full sequences, and sometimes it starts with somebody standing, but in the sixth or seventh photo, he’s got a bullet through his head, and it all took less than a second.

The consequences of that moment, of this guy getting shot or avoiding a bullet that killed someone else — it’s a very significant thing, and more often that’s becoming lost. I try to focus on that in my pictures, I try to include as few people as possible; just a man sitting with a killed friend of his, or a mother mourning next to a daughter. It’s a very individual act, one person killing another person.

Check out a Flickr gallery of Elshamy’s work here.

Capturing Closeness

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 13 2013 @ 9:07pm


Alison Barker muses on The Art of Intimacy, Stacey D’Arasmo’s treatise on intimacy’s successful portrayal in literature and art:

[U]nexamined assumptions about something as powerful as intimacy make for stories that are full of stereotypes and stereotypical behavior. This is depressing. And it’s not art. By continually rearticulating how she conceives the different types of intimate relationships wrought by the best writers in this and the last century, D’Erasmo cleverly prepares us to accept that intimacy, necessarily, is a bit of a mystery, and that it is only when writers question their received ideas about intimacy that they are able to transcend sentimentality and produce stories that better illuminate this powerful, mysterious, frequently shape-shifting human experience.

(Photo from Nan Goldin’s Scopophilia exhibit, currently being shown at the Matthew Marks Gallery, “which pairs intensely personal portraits of Goldin’s friends and lovers with classic images from the Louvre” and is featured prominently in The Art of Intimacy. © Nan Goldin, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.)

Two days ago, Richard Deitsch wondered aloud how many of his Twitter followers have photos of their happiest moment ever. Megan Garber observes that the outpouring of responses is a testament “not only to Twitter’s power as a platform for sharing, but also to cameras’ increasing ubiquity in our lives”:

We may plan to take pictures at weddings, or during proposals, or after the births of babies; many of life’s happiest moments, however, are unexpected and random and weird. The fact that more of us are regularly carrying cameras around with us means that we are newly able to capture those moments–to make the ephemeral newly permanent. And, then, shareable with Sports Illustrated writers.

Many more excellent pictures sent to Deitsch are below:

Capturing Confessionals

Andrew Sullivan —  May 26 2013 @ 8:23pm


For her series Reconciliation, Billie Mandle photographs American confessional boxes:

These photographs were made in confessionals, the small rooms found in Catholic churches where people confess their sins. Almost all religions have theologies of repentance; the confessional is unusual because it acts as a physical manifestation of an abstract idea. …

I was raised Catholic and so the traditions of these rooms are familiar to me. Photographing the confessional has become a type of ritual: I use a large format camera and available light, lifting the curtain of the confessional and looking into the darkness, just as I lift the dark cloth of the camera. The confessionals contain contradiction: darkness and light, corporeality and transcendence. They are rooms where people confess their sins and ask for grace surrounded by the traces of past confessions. In making these images I approach the confessionals as metaphorical spaces — rooms that suggest the paradoxes of faith and forgiveness.

(Photo: Saint Christopher by Billie Mandle, from Reconciliation)

(Hat tip: Pete Brook)

Capturing Carbon In The Wild

Andrew Sullivan —  May 15 2013 @ 9:31am

Lawrence Krauss wants more research into extracting existing CO2 from the atmosphere as a way to address climate change. He notes that, unlike other forms of geoengineering, “direct air capture would treat the disease, not merely the symptoms”:

First, one removes CO2 from the air by using a sorbent, which is a material that can absorb gasses. Next, the CO2 has to be extracted from the sorbent and sequestered, presumably by pumping it deep underground at relatively high concentration or by binding it to minerals—a bit like how we handle nuclear waste. But another possibility includes actually converting it back into fuel. One particularly attractive possibility that has been proposed involves using an “exchange resin” sorbent which binds CO2 when dry and releases it when wet. In this way the evaporation of water could actually be used to help reduce the energy burden associated with binding and subsequently extracting the CO2.

Scott Rosenberg wonders whether geoengineering, through either carbon dioxide removal or solar radiation management, is “a slam-dunk no-brainer or a regrettable last resort”:

Unfortunately, the slam-dunkness of geoengineering turns out to be illusory at best. We really don’t know if any of these schemes can or would work. How much time, energy, and money should we put into finding out? That was the theme of a debate on geoengineering that I moderated last week, and here’s the lesson I took from it: If we expect new technology to save us from the mess old technology has made, but don’t also fix the broken political processes and social dynamics that made it impossible to avert that mess, we’re just inviting a bigger mess.

Akshat Rathi cites literature indicating that multiple types of geoengineering will be necessary to avoid climate change:

Several geoengineering initiatives plan to tackle climate change by cutting incoming sunlight, through methods such as spreading reflective aerosols in the stratosphere. But without also removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, such plans would fail to fully mitigate change in rainfall in the tropics, a study published in Nature Geoscience last week (21 April) suggests.

The Turing Tetris

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 25 2013 @ 3:41pm

Computer scientist Thomas Murphy has designed an artificial intelligence, PlayFun, that can figure its way through videogames by relentlessly testing strategies that lead to high scores. Gary Marcus explains further:

The program proceeds by automating trial and error. It records everything in the Nintendo’s memory, and correlates every simulated press of a joystick with particular memory locations in the game that represent a player’s score. Any action that increases the score gets weighted more heavily; actions that decrease the score become less likely. In essence, Murphy aims to overpower the Nintendo through sheer brute force, not by what humans would consider actually playing the game. He writes that the “central idea … is to use (only) the value of memory locations to deduce when the player is ‘winning.’ The things that a human player perceives, like the video screen and sound effects, are completely ignored.”