Tag Archives: Dr Who

Shooting At The Queen, Torchwood, AI: Cheap Books

In Tooth and Claw, Season 2 Episode 2 of Doctor Who 2.0, we see the formation of The Torchwood Institute and the banishing of The Doctor (and Rose) from the United Kingdom. Fat lot that does. Anyway, we also see Queen Victoria make mention of the multiple attempts at her assassination. I suppose it is understandable that some eight or nine (nine if you count the werewolf) attempts were made on her life. She was a women in charge of men in the most patriarchal culture ever (the White West generally, not just UK). They also said “Lock her up!” All the time, and there was a never ending investigation of her use of postage stamps, which by the way she freakin’ invented.

Anyway, I’ve been rewatching the new series, and saw that episode just today. I did not know about all those attempts on Her Majesty’s person, but by the way the fact was written into the script in DWS2E2, I suspected it was for real. So I looked it up. And, I cam across a book on it that was marked down to two bucks in Kindle form!

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy

During Queen Victoria’s sixty-four years on the British throne, no fewer than eight attempts were made on her life. Seven teenage boys and one man attempted to kill her. Far from letting it inhibit her reign over the empire, Victoria used the notoriety of the attacks to her advantage. Regardless of the traitorous motives—delusions of grandeur, revenge, paranoia, petty grievances, or a preference of prison to the streets—they were a golden opportunity for the queen to revitalize the British crown, strengthen the monarchy, push through favored acts of legislation, and prove her pluck in the face of newfound public support. “It is worth being shot at,” she said, “to see how much one is loved.”

Recounting what Elizabeth Barrett marveled at as “this strange mania of queen-shooting,” and the punishments, unprecedented trials, and fate of these malcontents who were more pitiable than dangerous, Paul Thomas Murphy explores the realities of life in nineteenth-century England—for both the privileged and the impoverished. From these cloak-and-dagger plots of “regicide” to Victoria’s steadfast courage, Shooting Victoria is thrilling, insightful, and, at times, completely mad historical narrative.

For two bucks, we also have Thinking Machines: The Quest for Artificial Intelligence–and Where It’s Taking Us Next by Luke Dormehl.

When most of us think about Artificial Intelligence, our minds go straight to cyborgs, robots, and sci-fi thrillers where machines take over the world. But the truth is that Artificial Intelligence is already among us. It exists in our smartphones, fitness trackers, and refrigerators that tell us when the milk will expire. In some ways, the future people dreamed of at the World’s Fair in the 1960s is already here. We’re teaching our machines how to think like humans, and they’re learning at an incredible rate.

In Thinking Machines, technology journalist Luke Dormehl takes you through the history of AI and how it makes up the foundations of the machines that think for us today. Furthermore, Dormehl speculates on the incredible–and possibly terrifying–future that’s much closer than many would imagine. This remarkable book will invite you to marvel at what now seems commonplace and to dream about a future in which the scope of humanity may need to broaden itself to include intelligent machines.

The Doctor on Netflix

“Dr. who?” you might ask. And that would be funny.

I am not an expert on the old Dr Who’s by any means, but it has come to my attention that a lot of people are unaware of the recent addition of Dr. Who shows on Netflix, even though I did post something about this on my facebook page. Try to keep up, people.

Here is the specially designed Netflix page which provides many of the important details.

And here is a cool blog post I found that covers the larger issue of access to all/many of the Dr. Who episodes.

So there you go.

Van Gogh’s Cowboy Boys Shakespeare’s Pot

ResearchBlogging.orgAlthough one can not be certain, all the evidence points to the fact that William Shakespeare smoked pot. This is not a new story. My good friend and colleague, Dr. Francis Thackeray, who has never smoked pot in his life but who has acted in Shakespeare’s plays numerous times, led a research team that put 2 and 2 together and came up with narcotic literary munchies. In Shakespeare’s time, land owners were required to grow pot in order to provide fibers for making the rope needed hoist the sails and flags over the increasingly powerful British Navy and merchant vessels. One of the better depictions of Shakespeare’s face shows the well known smoker’s mark, a feature that forms when one habitually smokes with a kaolin tobacco pipe. Thackeray masterfully identifies numerous passages in Shakespeare’s work that strongly indicate that he partook of the weed but not of stronger narcotics such as cocaine. But, that was all mentioned in code; Elizabethan England did not exactly have “drug laws” as we know of them today (though substances were controlled, legal, or not legal, depending). The main problem was that drug use was considered Witchcraft, and even though smoking various things was either legal or not depending on which Monarch was in charge, Witchcraft was always going to get you … well, stoned. As in crushed by them. (Or hung or burned at the stake, though rarely the latter … why waste good fuel.)
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Even Better than a Halloween Costume: Life Size Cutouts!

i-5416f37bac4a14e72a0f7ce2d58a80fa-Justin_Beiber.jpgI went to graduate school to study Anthropology, so naturally, there was very little funding. Some semesters, I paid the bills working as an administrative assistant for one Harvard Muckimuck or another, often at the Kennedy School of Government, but for a while, at the Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. There, I was the assistant to the director, a man named Marvin Kalb. There is a chance you’ve heard of him as well as his brother, Bernard. Kalb was the Shorenstein Center’s original director and Edward R. Murrow Professor of Press and Public Policy. His brother Bernard is a journalist as well.

Working for Kalb was a blast.
Continue reading Even Better than a Halloween Costume: Life Size Cutouts!