Sunday Reads: Typing an Artform?

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Good Morning!

Well, after having a good evening, watching a couple of Italian films last night, Life is Beautiful and Miracle on Madonna Street, I have a few links for you this morning.

The New York Post has an article about the battles being fought in Africa: A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads From Africa’s Wars to Iran

The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. The ammunition bore no factory code, suggesting that its manufacturer hoped to avoid detection.

Within two years other researchers were finding identical cartridges circulating through the ethnic violence in Darfur. Similar ammunition then turned up in 2009 in a stadium in Conakry, Guinea, where soldiers had fired on antigovernment protesters, killing more than 150.

For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.

When the investigators’ breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa’s usual suspects. It was Iran.

Read the rest at the link, it is a long article.

In other news, this time out of Brazil: Fast New Test Could Find Leprosy Before Damage Is Lasting

A simple, fast and inexpensive new test for leprosy offers hope that, even in the poorest countries, victims can be found and cured before they become permanently disabled or disfigured like the shunned lepers of yore.

American researchers developed the test, and Brazil’s drug-regulatory agency registered it last month. A Brazilian diagnostics company, OrangeLife, will manufacture it on the understanding that the price will be $1 or less.

“This will bring leprosy management out of the Dark Ages,” said Dr. William Levis, who has treated leprosy patients at a Bellevue Hospital outpatient clinic for 30 years.

[...]

Even more important, he said, it is expected to detect infections as much as a year before symptoms appear. And the earlier treatment begins, the better the outcome. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae, related to the one that causes tuberculosis, but reproducing so slowly that symptoms often take seven years to appear.

This new test requires just a drop of blood and the results are given after only ten minutes.

The disease has historically been hard to diagnose, despite the popular, but inaccurate, image of fingers and toes dropping off victims. As the bacteria kill nerves, muscles atrophy and those digits curl into claws. After disuse and repeated injuries, the body reacts protectively by absorbing the bone calcium in the bones, shrinking the digits.

For centuries, some observant doctors have noticed early signs: the numb skin patches, missing eyebrows, drooping earlobes, bulging neck nerves, the flat “lion face” caused by nasal cartilage dissolving.

Since nothing could be done for them before the age of antibiotics, victims lost the use of their hands and had to beg. Some also went blind as the blinking muscles degenerated and their eyes dried out. In the Middle Ages, some towns banned lepers, while others required them to ring bells to warn of their approach. Religious charities created “leper colonies.”

And they still exist, even in the United States. A few elderly residents have chosen to stay on in Carville, La., and Kalaupapa, Hawaii, despite having been cured. Several thousand live at one in northeast Brazil, said John S. Spencer, a leprosy researcher at Colorado State University who has worked there. “People say things like ‘People outside won’t understand what’s wrong with my face,’ ” he said.

Nowadays, he said, most patients are cured before their faces are severely disfigured. Still, he said, he had read a survey in which health experts asked Brazilians whether they would rather have the human immunodeficiency virus or leprosy. Most chose H.I.V. — even though leprosy does not kill, can be cured, and does not make a victim risky to have sex with. “The stigma is that strong,” he said.

Wow.  Dr Lewis says he hopes the Brazilian test becomes available in the US so he can test the families of his patients. It takes many antibiotics given over 6 months to a year to cure the disease…these new test provide doctors with more time to could help diagnosis leprosy before permanent nerve damage is done.

I guess my PAD is getting the best of me, I just don’t have the energy to give you more than these…and instead of posting links to more of the same news, give a look at some of the artsy reads below.

With the Academy Awards later tonight, I have two links about film and films.

Two films on Israeli occupation in Oscar race

Hollywood is getting ready to hand out the industry’s most prestigious film awards: the Oscars.

Among the contenders for best documentary is a film directed by an Israeli, and another by a Palestinian.

Both the Israeli The Gatekeepers and Palestinian 5 Broken Cameras tell the same story, but from two quite different perspectives.

Video at the link, and…

For more of Al Jazeera’s extended interviews with Dror Moreh, the director of The Gatekeepers, and Emad Burnat, director of 5 Broken Cameras, click here. Q&A: Dror Moreh and Emad Burnat

Film is finished – this could be its last Oscars

Digital is taking over Hollywood, but celluloid’s fans intend to fight on

They are some of the most powerful people in one of the most powerful entertainment industries in the world. And when Hollywood’s grandest gather at tonight’s Oscars there will be no end of smiles and handshakes. But they are also fans, and like all fans, they are given to apparently arcane squabbles. The latest is whether films should be shot on, well, film.

Some of the most successful directors, such as James Cameron and George Lucas, are so obsessed with having the best special effects that they have spent millions embracing computer-generated imagery and abandoned 35mm film. Others, such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, are wedded to traditional celluloid, which is becoming the film equivalent of the vinyl record.

Epics such as Les Misérables and Lincoln – both shot on 35mm – and digital creations such as Life of Pi have all made millions at the box office. While film buffs may talk about the “feel” of film, with all its subtleties, the reality is that pixilated perfection is winning – the whirring of 35mm film projectors silenced by the hum of digital machines.

Just take a look at the films nominated for best picture:

Although many love a sharp, digital picture with high definition, others prefer something a bit less “real”. The split among directors is highlighted in the nominations for Best Picture. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were shot on film. While Argo, Amour, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty were shot on digital. As was The Hobbit nominated in three technical Oscar categories.

David O Russell, director of Silver Linings Playbook, said: “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m superstitious, maybe I’m romantic – I love film and it has a magic quality, it has a warmth. I may use digital cameras in a pinch because they are small and fast but I like film for its humaneness.” He is one of a number of directors determined to continue shooting on 35mm. Another is Nolan, who made the Dark Knight trilogy: “I am now constantly asked to justify why I want to shoot a film on film,” he said. Nolan likens digital to an “amazing” cookie until you realise “this is some horrible chemical crap that’s giving you this bad illusion that fools you at first.”

You can read more about what actors, cinematographers and directors think about digital vs film at the link up top.  I tend to agree with the folks who love film…and think that digital sucks.

Another archaic form of technology that gets lost in this day in age is the typewriter. Take this woman’s use of the typewriter:

Keira Rathbone’s Incredible Typewriter Art

As romantic as the idea of working on a typewriter now seems, in reality they’re rather clunky and temperamental things. Writing with one would probably take us an age – and if we made a mistake? Well, forget it.

So imagine trying to draw with one.

London based artist Keira Rathbone, originally from Dorset, does exactly that; clustering together marks made by letters, numbers and symbols, to make brilliant, one-off images.

Keira Rathbone Makes Art At The Stroke Of A Key (PHOTOS)

The English artist clusters letters, numbers and symbols from a typewriter keyboard to composite images; from portraits of friends and celebrities to landscapes and still life. A closer look at what looks like a sketch of Wimborne Minster, a church in East Dorset, England, reveals swirls of ampersands and the ticks of quotations marks.

[...]

Watch the video below to see the artist at work, and click through the slideshow to see examples of her typewriter art. Visit keirarathbone.com for more examples of her work.

 

Be sure to take a look at the pictures, Rathone’s art is impressive…

Another obsolete form of technology is shown below…Keypunch Orchestra: 1937 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive

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June 1937. “Baltimore, Maryland. For every Social Security account number issued an ‘employee master card’ is made in the Social Security board records office. Testifying data, given on the application blank form SS-5, is transferred to this master card in the form of upended quadrangular holes, punched by key punch machines, which have a keyboard like a typewriter. Each key struck by an operator causes a hole to be punched in the card. The position of a hole determines the letter or number other machines will reproduce from the master card. From this master card is made an actuarial card, to be used later for statistical purposes. The master card also is used in other machines which sort them numerically, according to account numbers, alphabetically according to the name code, translate the holes into numbers and letters, and print the data on individual ledger sheets, indexes, registry of accounts and other uses. The photograph above shows records office workers punching master cards on key punch machines.” Whew. Longest caption ever? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.

That is all I have for you this morning. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday, see ya later on tonight…should be quite a show.

So what are you all reading and blogging about today?

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20 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Typing an Artform?”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    I’m with you, mink. TMC has presented an entire month devoted to Oscar nominated movies and it has provided an escape from the baloney that is politics today.

    I watched “The Contender” last night and the performances of Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, and Gary Oldham, along with a stellar cast of supporting performances, was captivating. Thank heavens we have film to turn to as a diversion from the reality.

    I also have been reading quite a bit and would recommend “The Dinner” as a great read.

    Anything but to have to listen to the dire consequences of the possibility of “sequestration” and who is to blame when the nation collapses under its own weight.

    The only alternative left is “escapism” into another world as gay cardinals, golfing matches, and Kim Kardashian’s baby just aren’t doing it for me.

  2. janicen says:

    I went to an Earth, Wind and Fire show last night and it was great! After 41 years of performing they haven’t lost a step.

    The story about tracking the bullet casings was fascinating, but I wish I could trust it. The fact that it appeared in the NY Post makes me suspicious.

    Thank you for all of these interesting reads, JJ.

    • Fannie says:

      Janicen, I bet you enjoyed them…….they had 8 or 9 members in their band, and their rival was funkadelic back in the day. Shining Star – won them a grammy and I think they won another, forget which one. After 41 years……….sounds like book in the making……….

      • janicen says:

        There are only three of the original performers left but they have put together an awesome ensemble of artists to duplicate the original sound. We danced at our seats and thoroughly enjoyed them. What a show!

  3. RalphB says:

    NYT: Court Finds No Right to Conceal a Firearm

    DENVER (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that permits allowing people to carry concealed weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment.

    In its ruling, the three-judge panel cited a Supreme Court ruling that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons.”

    “In light of our nation’s extensive practice of restricting citizen’s freedom to carry firearms in a concealed manner, we hold that this activity does not fall within the scope of the Second Amendment’s protections,” the judges ruled.

    This involves states honoring the concealed carry permits of other states but, at least, it reaffirms the 2nd Amendment still isn’t absolute.

    • janicen says:

      Who needs concealed/carry when 44 states have “open/carry” laws. A panic ensued in a Charlottesville, VA supermarket when some a-hole walked in with his rifle slung across his shoulder. People ran for the exit, called 911, etc. I would have soiled my drawers before I took off running but no arrest was made because the idiot did nothing illegal. Kroger responded by banning the guy from their store, but did not ban firearms from their stores. WTF is this world coming to?

      • RalphB says:

        There was a time when we could count on people not doing crazy stunts like that. However the days of courtesy and concern for others are now so over that legislation is needed for even idiotic stunts. It’s a shame really.

      • RalphB says:

        Since we know out people Texas is one of the states where it is not legal to open carry a weapon, unless you are on your own property.

  4. quixote says:

    That article about Iran and the bullet casings: amazing. First I’ve heard about it. Given all the jerks in power, the information will probably be used to drone Iran instead of stop some of the killing in Africa and around the world. But still, at least now there’s a chance to choose door number two.

  5. RalphB says:

    voxeu: Panic-driven austerity in the Eurozone and its implications

    Eurozone policy seems driven by market sentiment. This column argues that fear and panic led to excessive, and possibly self-defeating, austerity in the south while failing to induce offsetting stimulus in the north. The resulting deflation bias produced the double-dip recession and perhaps more dire consequences. As it becomes obvious that austerity produces unnecessary suffering, millions may seek liberation from ‘euro shackles’.

    Nice analysis of austerity effects by Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji.

  6. RalphB says:

    Under trivia, it took Grampy McCrankypants all of eight weeks in 2013 to appear on all five beltway Sunday shows: ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and CNN. He’s such a hermit.