Sunday, May 29, 2016

Referendum conundrum, simplified

If you don't believe in democracy, don't vote. If you do, vote "Leave".

If you think it doesn't make any difference, you will soon be taught a devastating lesson: the EU is already privately tossing around ideas for Britain's punishment:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/house-of-lords-warned-eu-will-punish-uk-if-it-votes-for-brexit/


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Sunday Serenade: Hoffnung's Horrortorio

Listening to Radio 3 (for a change) yesterday I heard an interview with the composer Joseph Horowitz (it was his 90th birthday and they'd made him a cake). He spoke of being commissioned by Gerard Hoffnung to write a Gothic comedy piece with a clever barrister who "knows nothing about music." Dracula's daughter marries Frankenstein's son:



Hoffnung's legendary wit and raconteurial ability are shown in his 1958 address to the Oxford Union:




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Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night: tinkling the ivories

JD writes: More musical delightfulness; this time on the piano. Hard to know what to include and what to leave out but these are some of my favourite pianists.

The piano: King of instruments- "No other instrument has been as important to the history of Western music as the piano. Since its invention in Florence three hundred years ago, the piano has become many things to many people—a bridge between the worlds of classical and popular music and the ultimate composer’s companion." http://www.films.com/id/749

And here are some of the finest players of that 'king of instruments' in the world of popular music-

Duke Ellington, Willie 'the lion' Smith, Billy Taylor:



There is added poignancy to this video by Allen Toussaint in that he died a few hours after the show:



 And here are two of the best from the world of classical music:

- Glenn Gould who, as usual, is so engrossed in the music he sings/hums along with it. He IS the music:



- and Nikolai Demidenko:

-

Enjoy :)


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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Step by step

Foxconn have been working on this for some time. From the Independent we hear

60,000 workers at Apple supplier Foxconn have been replaced with robots, according to reports.

The figure comes from a local government official, who said employee numbers at one of Foxconn's factories in Kunshan, near Shanghai, have been drastically slashed in recent months.


Perhaps the Chinese government has an expanding role for all those dumped workers.

The Chinese government plants 488 million fake comments every year

Harvard Study based on leaked email archives reveals massive astroturfing operation

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

REFERENDUM CONUNDRUM

Someone who supports Remain in the issue of membership of the institutionally undemocratic EU, is happy with the idea that the people's vote shouldn't matter.
So why would they vote in the referendum?


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Monday, May 23, 2016

AI drama

From alphr comes a story about the literary exploits of Google's foray into artificial intelligence.

One of the reasons why the Turing Test continues to be such a steep bar for AI to clear is because artificial intelligences just don’t talk like normal people. Artificial chatter is often grammatically sound, but feels stuffy, formal and just not quite right. Getting artificial intelligences to sound human has been a tough old nut to crack.

Google has an interesting solution to this, and has posted a paper outlining how it taught its artificial intelligence a flair for the dramatic by what I can only describe as cruel and unusual punishment. Inspired, no doubt, by the seemingly endless streams of Mills and Boon style romance novels cluttering up charity shops around the country, Google fed a neural network model 12,000 ebooks, some 2,865 if which were of that much maligned genre.


Here's an example of its output.

“this was the only way. it was the only way. it was her turn to blink. it was hard to tell. it was time to move on. he had to do it again. they all looked at each other. they all turned to look back. they both turned to face him. they both turned and walked away.”

Not impressive, but what if the researchers eventually succeed and we can't tell the difference between human and machine output? I'm not sure, but take another look at the example above. With a few adjustments and a few key words it could easily be turned into an EU referendum argument because the standard is not high is it? 

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Serenade - British light classical music

We start in the country, as it used to be....

"Pastoral Montage", by Gideon Fagan (1950):



Ronald Binge - "Autumn Leaves"



Then it's into the outskirts of town...

Knightsbridge March by Eric Coates (1933):



... heading for the West End...

Robert Farnon - Westminster Waltz (1958):



... and a glamorous night out:

Trevor Duncan - High Heels (1950):



BONUSES

Long programmes...

"A Little Light Music - Friday Night Is Music Night" (BBC):



"A Little Light Music - Music for Everybody" (BBC):



... a 77-track,  4-CD compilation "British Light Music Classics" by the New London Orchestra, conducted by Ronald Corp, can be sampled and bought here: http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDS44261/4 ...

... and finally, there's a specialist blog dedicated to British Classical Music:  http://landofllostcontent.blogspot.co.uk/


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Who's leaned on Paul Dacre?

Today's Mail On Sunday front page - moronline edition:


BUT in the influential hmm-must read-this-again-have you-seen-this print version:


And there's more - much more - of that sort of thing inside.


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Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Empty Brain

This essay from aeon is worth reading.

Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or 

store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer

No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.

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