"The man threw the bone in the cart, also an old shoe that had been brought to him by another dog."

“The man threw the bone in the cart, also an old shoe that had been brought to him by another dog.”

Horse and cow bones were scattered all over Brooklyn in the 1870s. In its July 21, 1877 edition, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle used its customary sensitivity in a profile of one bone collector who made his living from such refuse. An excerpt:

“A seedy looking German, with tangled hair and beard, propelled a small handcart slowly up Flatbush avenue on Thursday. At his sides were three large dogs of mongrel breed. When near the corner of Dean street the man spoke to the dogs, and they immediately quitted his side and began running through the gutters of the neighborhood streets. Soon one of the dogs returned with a large bone in his mouth, and this he deposited at the feet of his master. The man threw the bone in the cart, also an old shoe that had been brought to him by another dog. It commenced to rain and the man and his dogs sought shelter under a neighborhood shed. An Eagle reporter had his attention attracted to the man, and after considerable trouble engaged him in conversation.

The man gave his name as Herman Groschel, and said he resided in the Sixteenth Ward. Picking up a large bone from his wagon, Groschel said, ‘Bones like that are very best. I can get about a dollar and thirty cents a barrel for them. That is what is called a shank bone, and they are much sought after by bone dust manufacturers. When it is made into dust the bone is sold to sugar refiners. Rib bones are not good for making bone dust to be used in refining sugar; when they are burned they cannot be worked into as fine dust as the shank, head and back bones.’

‘Are the bones of all kinds of animals made into bone dust?’ queried the reporter.

“In neighborhoods where there is a large poor population I do very well.”

‘Do you find many bones by traveling through the streets with your dogs?’

‘In neighborhoods where there is a large poor population I do very well. Take them wards where there is a large tenement population and a great deal of refuse is thrown into the streets, as the poorer classes very seldom enjoy the luxury of owning ash barrels.’

‘Do you pick up anything else but  bones?’

‘Old iron or bottles,’ replied Groschel. ‘I used to do a little in rags, but some years ago I brought home some rags which were infected with smallpox and my girl caught the dreadful disease. Since then I haven’t picked any rags.’

‘What do you do with those old shoes I see in your wagon?’

Groschel smiled. ‘I burn them,’ said he. ‘They do me instead of coal.’

The stench arising from old leather when burning is almost unbearable, yet many of the rag pickers and bone gatherers use no other fuel. Without exception the bone and rag gatherers are either German or Italians. They live cheap, are generally saving, and many of them have accumulated considerable sums of money.”

Robert Evans, who’s made some great movies and some bad mistakes, did an Ask Me Anything at Reddit. A few exchanges follow.



What was it like to be involved with such an iconic film, The Godfather?

Robert Evans:

It was the first mafia movie written, directed, and acted by Italians. Coppola’s hungry brilliance as its director, was cinematically operatic. But nobody wanted to make it. They only offered 6 million to make it and said it would never be a hit. I got the rights for $12,500 and they weren’t even impressed with that. Sometimes you have to go against the tide. Nothing is easy in the business. A lot of layers from distribution, down to set decoration, casting, music. Each one is a battle.



I don’t really have any questions, I just wanted to tell you that Chinatown is my all-time favorite film, and I couldn’t be more grateful for everything you did to bring that film into existence. Everything about Chinatown is perfect.

Robert Evans:

Thank you very much. I want you to know that everyone at the studio did not want me to make it. It was my first independent movie as the head of production at Paramount, and everyone there thought i was crazy. Nobody understood the script. But i knew Robert [Towne[ was a great screenwriter, i had Jack Nicholson as a lead, and Faye Dunaway, and Roman Polanski. I decided to bet on my artists, not my executives.


Do you and Roman [Polanski] still talk?

Robert Evans:

Yes we do often. He’s a very close friend of mine. We’ve been through thick and thin together.



I’d like to ask what you think is different about the industry today compared to when you started? Specifically in regards to starting in the industry.

Robert Evans:

its much larger, more corporate. The American film has grown to be our countries number one export to the world. It flies the American flag higher all around the globe, more than any other product we manufacture. We should be very proud of it.



Has anyone been a bigger prick to you than Frank Sinatra?

Robert Evans:

Frank was great to me – i was a prick to him. And it wasn’t right. But it had to do with the casting of Mia Farrow, and Frank divorced Mia and our friendship over it. It was a friendship i really treasured because he gave me an opening in the business when he took the detective book i optioned as a young producer, and said “I want to make this film”. When it comes to a woman, all rules change. Especially an actress.



How many pages does it take to get excited about a screenplay?

Robert Evans:

When its over. A screenplay is re-written, re-written, and re-written. Its a never-ending fight, and very subjective. I’ve made mistakes, and hit the ball out of the park…



What do you look for in a script?

Robert Evans:

Lean dialogue. The more the dialogue, the more amateur the writer. A movie is called a moving picture. Its not a play. Theres a big difference to being a screenwriter. One can be a screenwriter and brilliant at it, yet not a book writer, or a stage writer. A triple threat writer is a very rare jewel. And overestimated by his agent.



Why has it taken so long to do another Popeye movie and which modern day actor would make a good Popeye?

Robert Evans:

[no answer].•


From a post at Failed Architecture by Margaret McCormick about the complicated past and present tense of a former mental institution in Washington D.C.:

“In 2007, the announcement came that a long abandoned former mental institution was to be renovated in order to create a headquarters for the DHS (the agency which oversees immigration, customs, border control and the secret service, along with several other federal functions). Aside from sounding like the plot to a bad action/horror movie, the site was a bit of an odd-duck: an enormous campus, fifteen minutes drive from the White House and full of old buildings barely anyone had ever heard of. For its own part, St. Elizabeths Hospital was founded in the 1850s as ‘The Government Hospital for the Insane,’ hosting generations of doctors, nurses and patients. Some of which having been infamously linked to the powerful of DC, including: Ezra Pound, brought there on charges of treason in 1945; John Hinckley Jr., for shooting President Reagan in bizarre attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster in 1981; Richard Lawrence, who attempted to shoot President Andrew Jackson in 1835, failed, and was then beaten mercilessly by the President himself and Charles Guiteau, after killing President Garfield in 1881.

Unsurprisingly most of the campus was shut-down in the mid 1980s due to a Reaganite distaste of government dependence and dilapidating facilities. The staff argued, perhaps correctly, that the campus was simply not fit to successfully treat patients in a post-industrial society. Perceptions of mental health had changed and the enormous facility had become obsolete. For years afterwards, the campus served as a kind of spooky albatross with old, now homeless, patients still lingering around the grounds. Indeed the cost to maintain it was so great that in 1987, the federal government transferred responsibility of the eastern portion to the District of Columbia, hoping the city would make something of the land. They didn’t.

A foreboding shadow in an already violent part of the city, St. Elizabeths seemed to haunt governments both national and local: too big to be ignored and too old to be torn down, it was a comatose behemoth. That is until its need arose almost twenty five years after its abandonment.”


Two Hunter S. Thompson commercials: One for his 1970 campaign for Sheriff of Piktin County, Colorado, in 1970 and another for Apple Computers in the 1990s. Oddly, the former, a low-budget production, is far more effective.

The new technologies have chosen winners and losers with little regard for fairness. If you were a really good travel agent or bookstore owner, your livelihood is gone. But Major League Baseball owners, not exactly innovative people, have become mega-rich because they happened to have endless hours of content that’s not likely to be time-shifted, in an era when regional cable exploded. And low ratings–or no ratings–haven’t thus far made much of a difference.

Technology, however, isn’t likely the sole factor in the new wave of income inequality. Politics plays a vital role. From Paul Krugman’s New York Review of Books piece on French economist Thomas Piketty’s new volume on haves and have-nots:

“Capital still matters; at the very highest reaches of society, income from capital still exceeds income from wages, salaries, and bonuses. Piketty estimates that the increased inequality of capital income accounts for about a third of the overall rise in US inequality. But wage income at the top has also surged. Real wages for most US workers have increased little if at all since the early 1970s, but wages for the top one percent of earners have risen 165 percent, and wages for the top 0.1 percent have risen 362 percent. If Rastignac were alive today, Vautrin might concede that he could in fact do as well by becoming a hedge fund manager as he could by marrying wealth.

What explains this dramatic rise in earnings inequality, with the lion’s share of the gains going to people at the very top? Some US economists suggest that it’s driven by changes in technology. In a famous 1981 paper titled ‘The Economics of Superstars,’ the Chicago economist Sherwin Rosen argued that modern communications technology, by extending the reach of talented individuals, was creating winner-take-all markets in which a handful of exceptional individuals reap huge rewards, even if they’re only modestly better at what they do than far less well paid rivals.

Piketty is unconvinced. As he notes, conservative economists love to talk about the high pay of performers of one kind or another, such as movie and sports stars, as a way of suggesting that high incomes really are deserved. But such people actually make up only a tiny fraction of the earnings elite. What one finds instead is mainly executives of one sort or another—people whose performance is, in fact, quite hard to assess or give a monetary value to.

Who determines what a corporate CEO is worth? Well, there’s normally a compensation committee, appointed by the CEO himself. In effect, Piketty argues, high-level executives set their own pay, constrained by social norms rather than any sort of market discipline. And he attributes skyrocketing pay at the top to an erosion of these norms. In effect, he attributes soaring wage incomes at the top to social and political rather than strictly economic forces.”

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When I put up the post about the coin-operated computer, it reminded me about ads I’d seen for two other bygone coin-op machines.

The first contraption, revealed to the public in that pre-disposable razor year of 1940, was an electric-shaving machine which allowed guys to buzz their beards in train terminals and office buildings. Between each customer, the machine automatically sterilized the blades, and, most likely, the men who used it. 

“My wife and I can’t have children, but my face is so smooth.”

The second one was a post-office booth introduced in Holland in 1940, which allowed customers to quickly make a voice message (of 100 words) on a phonograph record and mail it out to their loved ones or the family of the person they had taken hostage. 

“We’re sending your son’s ear in a separate parcel.”

This machine had a precedent, which was made for amusement’s sake and had debuted eight years earlier. It was the voice-enabled “Phototeria,” which placed an image of the customer at the center of a record that had also captured his or her speech. It was the hands-free proto-selfie.

“Check the flip side of platter for a dick pic.”

From the December 24, 1899 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Newtown, L.I.–One of the most neglected spots on all of Long Island today is the old town burying ground on Court Street, in this village, and it is a common remark hereabout that it is a disgrace to the City of Greater New York. Here are buried its former governors, its statesmen and its mayors. Headstones once marked their resting place and once upon a time their graves were kept in order, but now the place is a running ground for hogs from a nearby piggery, and they root for their sustenance in the old graveyard. Chickens scratch for their food on the graves of those once beloved, and the whole  place presents a scene of neglect and decay.”

Paranormal Items – $500

My items are small objects that have been known to be associated with paranormal activity. These items do not pose any harm or malice to their owners. objects may move from time to time and voices or whispering may be heard. These items can only be given to another individual with the knowledge of their past. New owners must want them. DO NOT give away to someone that does not know they are associated with paranormal properties.

The Xerox Alto, ground zero for modern personal computing, on display in a 1979 ad.

Cuban baseball is a strange thing these days. It’s minor-league level, but there are a few amazing players mixed in, like Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig, who are capable of thriving in the MLB. It’s generally thought of as rundown, impoverished and hopelessly mired in the past–like Cuba itself during the age of Mighty Castro at Bat–but advanced analytics have found an unlikely home in the island nation. The opening of “Béisbol Prospectus,” a new SI piece by Eric Nusbaum:

IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT in Havana’s historic Estadio Latinoamericano. Bottom of the 12th inning of the second game of a doubleheader. The hometown Industriales and Holguín are fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot in Cuba’s Serie Nacional.

Everyone still in the park—fan, player, coach, food vendor—is worn down to raw nerve. This game has seen a pivotal interference call, a runner thrown out at home and another doubled off second after tagging up early. Down 5–3 in the bottom of the eighth, the Industriales took a 6–5 lead, which they blew in the ninth.

Alejandro Aldama, 25, clings to a few rolled-up sheets of computer paper like they are a map to hidden treasure. He paces in the underground section of stands behind home plate. Watching the game from here, sunk below the infield grass, is like watching from a foxhole.

Aldama is cofounder and vice president of the Independent Group for Baseball Investigation (GIIB), Cuba’s first official sabermetric organization. The treasure map in his hand actually contains rosters and advanced stats. This year the GIIB is working with Industriales manager Lázaro Vargas, providing advanced statistical analysis, a first in Cuba for any team.

Four glaring light towers lean forward over the empty outfield bleachers and shine on Industriales outfielder Stayler Hernandez, who walks to the plate flirting with a .200 average. The fans above him whistle and blow noisemakers. Aldama wipes sweat from his brow. Vargas sits comfortably in the dugout as Hernandez settles into the lefthanded batter’s box.

SABERMETRICS—THE ADVANCED, computerized and occasionally counterintuitive analysis of baseball statistics—is beginning to take hold in Cuba.”

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Drones aren’t a unilateral technology, and eventually those pilotless planes are going to be aimed at the U.S. They’re a pretty attractive weapon for terrorists, capable of carrying a payload of explosives without a need for human recruits or faked passports. That development, of course, will lead to an American military industry protecting us from terror drones, tracking and destroying them. We’re just at the beginning, and people-less deliveries of books and pizzas will have that dark counterpart. The opening of “The Next Drone Wars,” a Foreign Policy essay by Sarah Kreps and Micah Zenko:

“During World War II, a top commander in what was then the U.S. Army Air Forces, General Henry ‘Hap’ Arnold, developed a new way to attack U-boat stations and other heavily fortified German positions: he turned old B-17 and B-24 bombers into remotely piloted aircraft and loaded them with explosives or chemical weapons. ‘If you can get mechanical machines to do this,’ Arnold wrote in a memo to his staff, ‘you are saving lives at the outset.’ The missions had a poor track record, but that did not deter Arnold from declaring in 1945 that ‘the next war may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all.’

Nearly seven decades later, Arnold’s prophecy is slowly being realized: armed drones are starting to rule the skies. So far, the United States has had a relative monopoly over the use of such drones, but it cannot count on maintaining that for much longer. Other states are quickly catching up. And although these new weapons will not transform the international system as fundamentally as did the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, they could still be used in ways that are highly destabilizing and deadly.

Countries will not be deterred from launching drone attacks simply because an adversary has drones in its arsenal, too. If anything, the inherent advantages of drones — most of all, not placing pilots or ground forces at risk of being killed or captured — have lowered the threshold for the use of force. Spurred by the United States’ example, other countries are likely to threaten or conduct drone strikes in ways that are harmful to U.S. interests, whether by provoking regional adversaries or targeting domestic enemies.”

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At some point in time, our descendants will look back in a shock at the sort of diet most Americans had during this era. GM foods probably shouldn’t be feared any more than what we’re eating now. From look at the future of genetically engineered foods at Kurzweil AI from Daniel Berleant, author of The Human Race to the Future:

Beans don’t taste as good as meat to many people. Yet there is no reason they can’t be engineered to taste like small chicken nuggets. Processed fungus protein called mycoprotein, sold in grocery stores, tastes like chicken already. But why stop there? Potatoes with small hamburgers in the middle sounds good — let’s call them ‘hamburgatoes.’

There is no reason hamburgatoes can’t be grown once genetic engineering gets further along. Carrots are crunchy, as are potato chips. So why not grow carrots that taste like potato chips, but retain the nutritional advantages of traditional carrots? Kids would want to eat more veggies.

Sunflower seeds come in packages at many supermarkets, but the ones with the seeds still in their shells seem less popular as snacks because they are harder to eat. You have to bite off the shells to get to the rather small seed inside.

Yet the sunflower seed market would almost certainly grow dramatically if the seeds were ten times larger or more. Imagine eating an enormous sunflower seed the size of a small egg … hefting its weight in the palm of your hand … cracking off its shell to reveal the rich, tasty meat within … and finally sinking your teeth in to savor its nutritious and distinctive flavor. A future sunflower could produce just a few seeds like that, instead of dozens and dozens of smaller seeds like the sunflowers they used to grow back around 2020.”


Drought has always made people desperate, so rain-making was a profitable-if-inexact science in the 1800s. Those contracted to bring rain to an area fired cannons at clouds (the “concussion theory”) or used contraptions of all manner to try to make atmospheric conditions amenable to precipitation. And often they did nothing and hoped for a lucky shower so that they could collect their money. Three tales of rain-makers follow.


“The Rain Maker Failed” (August 18, 1894): “Mexico, Mo.–George Matthews, self-styled rain maker from Kansas, has failed to fill his contract here. He agreed, for $400, within six days to give Audrain County a good shower of rain. His time was up last night and he failed to deliver any rain. He packed his machinery and returned to his home in Wichita. He claims that he succeeded in producing ice clouds daily, but that the moisture clouds could not be gathered on account of the unfavorable condition of the atmosphere.”


“To the Credit of the Rain Maker” (July 28, 1894): “Lincoln, Neb.–Welcome rain fell here to-day. It will be of great benefit to corn, which was in great need of rain. Dr. Sunsher, a ‘rain-maker,’ will doubtless claim the credit for the showers. He signed a contract a few days ago to produce rain within four days. He was to have a price varying from $150 to $500 for an inch of rain. The chances are he will claim the $500 as probably an inch of rain has fallen.”


“Rainmaker Melbourne Is Frank” (June 28, 1895): “Cleveland, O.–Frank Melbourne, the erstwhile Western rain king whose services were in urgent demand in the West two or three years ago, is located in this city. In speaking of his experiences as a rain maker, Melbourne admitted that the whole thing was humbug, and that he never possessed any more power in that respect than any other man. He says the American people like to be humbugged, and the greater the fake the easier it is to work it. Melbourne made a fortune in the business and spent it like a prince.”

B.F. Skinner, the famed Behaviorist who plays a central role in one of my favorite-ever New Yorker articles, Calvin Trillin’s “The Chicken Vanishes” (subscription required), is responsible for these two videos: 1) A 1954 demo of his pre-personal computer Teaching Machine, which provided automated instruction and 2) Boids playing ping pong.

In the big picture, tearing down a system where power to disseminate information was in the hands of the relative few is a good thing, but revolutions are rarely bloodless. The death of print was in the works for decades, but no one has yet figured out the new landscape. Two quotes:

From Stewart Brand in 1972:

“One popular new feature on the Net is AI’s Associated Press service. From anywhere on the Net you can log in and get the news that’s coming live over the wire or ask for all the items on a particular subject that have come in during the last 24 hours. Project that to household terminals, and so much for newspapers (in present form). Since huge quantities of information can be computer-digitalized and transmitted, music researchers could, for example, swap records over the Net with ‘essentially perfect fidelity.’ So much for record stores (in present form).”

From Michael Wolff in 2014:

“[Politico] did usurp The Washington Post, so they took what was essentially a 2 billion dollar business and replaced it with a business that does 25, 30 million dollars in revenue. So that’s kind of the paradigm. You take these businesses that were real businesses, incredibly valuable businesses, and you create that same function with businesses that are essentially trivial.”


Quantification means that third parties are granted access behind company firewalls. Example: A vending machine business can tell remotely when more Sprite is required, but it’s also a security risk to hackers who want to walk in a backdoor. When things are “smart,” when they have information, they pose a threat. Just like people. From Nicole Perlroth at the New York Times:

“Companies have always needed to be diligent in keeping ahead of hackers — email and leaky employee devices are an old problem — but the situation has grown increasingly complex and urgent as countless third parties are granted remote access to corporate systems. This access comes through software controlling all kinds of services a company needs: heating, ventilation and air-conditioning; billing, expense and human-resources management systems; graphics and data analytics functions; health insurance providers; and even vending machines.

Break into one system, and you have a chance to break into them all.

‘We constantly run into situations where outside service providers connected remotely have the keys to the castle,’ said Vincent Berk, chief executive of FlowTraq, a network security firm.”

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Glenn Gould, on a 1969 episode of Telescope, already retired from the concert hall, predicting sagely that new technologies would allow for the sampling, remixing and democratization of creativity. Sort of stunning for someone to see the distance so clearly.

In video-game parlance, members of the Heaven’s Gate cult who committed suicide 17 years ago, hoping in their collective delusion that their well-calibrated deaths would enable them to hitch a ride on Hale-Bopp’s tail, weren’t choosing “Game Over” but trying to get to the “Next Level.” The gaming lingo is particularly apt because those shrouded, Nike-wearing true believers earned a living (until their dying) in the nascent field of website design. From Claire Evans at Vice:

“On March 26th, 1997, 39 people in matching black sweatsuits and Nike sneakers were found dead in a rented mansion in a San Diego suburb. They were members of a religious group called Heaven’s Gate, and they had committed suicide, cleanly and methodically, by ingesting large doses of phenobarbital and vodka. In each of their pockets, authorities found a five-dollar bill and three quarters—interplanetary toll fare.

Their motive was to hitch a ride to the ‘Next Level’ on a heavenly spacecraft hidden behind the rapidly-approaching Hale-Bopp Comet. They didn’t believe they were committing suicide. Instead, they were abandoning fallible physical ‘vehicles’ in order to progress to the ‘Next Level’ above human, a commitment they’d honed while living in isolated compounds in Salt Lake City, Denver, and the Dallas Forth-Worth area, before moving to their final resting place in Southern California.

Beyond the spectacle of their exit from this world, what’s most interesting about Heaven’s Gate, looking back, is their complicated relationship to technology. While we remember the Nike sneakers, the purple shrouds, and the bunk-beds meticulously lined with bodies, what most people don’t know about these 38 devotees and their leader, Marshall Applewhite (known to them as ‘Bo’ or ‘Do’), is that they paid for their lifestyle by building websites.

Yes, Heaven’s Gate were web designers. The group ran a firm called Higher Source, and counted the San Diego Polo Club, a local topiary company, and a Christian music store among their clients. In the heady early days of the World Wide Web, this crew of androgynous roommates in matching close-cropped haircuts and baggy, modest clothes practiced what they called ‘Higher Source-computer programming’ in Java, Visual Basic, SQL, and C++.”


“You’re only chance to evacuate is to leave with us”:

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We are a green building company seeking baby diapers. Urine is ok. No poop.

We use them as a base in our green roofs.

The diapers hold huge amounts of water and the urine is good fertilizer.

Turn the world green! Keep those diapers out of the landfill and help make green roofs!

From film blogger Justin Bozung’s interview with mime Dan Richter, a passage about how he came to be cast as “Moon-Watcher” in 2001: A Space Odyssey and how he prepared for the role:

Justin Bozung:

So for those that haven’t read the book, could you tell me how you came to work on the film with Stanley Kubrick?

Dan Richter: 

I had a friend at the time, a book publisher named Mike Wilson and he was working with Arthur C. Clarke on a series of books about diving. Arthur and Stanley had been discussing the ‘Dawn Of Man’ sequence because they had almost finished the live action shooting on 2001, but they still didn’t have an opening. They had tried a few different things but nothing seemed to worked right. They decided that maybe they should talk to a mime about some of their ideas. Arthur mentioned this to Mike Wilson, and because Mike and I had been friends, he said ‘I know a mime. His name is Dan Richter, and he’s great.’

So consequently, I was asked to go and meet with Stanley at Borehamwood Studios MGM outside of London. I figured he’d pick my brain, and I’d offer some suggestions. So I drove up to see him and we started to talk. Stanley started to explain to me some of the ideas they had had for the sequence that didn’t work. Thinking about it, I didn’t see his problems as having to do anything with acting, but rather as something to do with movement.

The ‘Dawn Of Man’ was for the opening of the film. The problem with the opening of a film or a play or a book is that you have to go and get your audience. You have a very short amount of time to get the audience involved, literally seconds of minutes. So it was important that we made the man-apes come to life.

Justin Bozung:

So you didn’t really go into the meeting thinking you were going in for a job interview with Kubrick?

Dan Richter: 

I truthfully thought I was just going in to talk to him. I thought Stanley was just going to pick my brain, and I thought I’d just offer up suggestions to him in regards to how a mime could be of assistance to him in terms of solving his problems for the sequence. I didn’t know I was auditioning for him. I went in there acting cocky. I wasn’t worried about saying anything wrong to Stanley, because I wasn’t looking for a job. I was busy with other work in London at the time. I just thought I was there to give Stanley some pointers or whatever. I thought I was meeting with Stanley to explain mime movement to him.

Stanley and I hit it right off, and I think he liked my approach. After I was done talking Stanley asked me to show him what I was talking about. He wanted to see how to move as I had explained it to him. Then he offered me the job. So I told Stanley I’d have to do all of the choreography. I told him I’d help develop all of the man-apes costumes. The costumes initially were completely unworkable. You couldn’t move in them. Then I told Stanley that I’d cast and then train the people myself. I didn’t think he’d actually agree to my terms, but he said ‘yes’ to everything. So suddenly, I found myself with a immense job, and it was a job creating something that had never been done before. I was given an office, a rehearsal studio, assistants, and my name on a door and I was just this cocky kid. I had to deliver.

I mean, I had no ideas or plans to play ‘Moon-Watcher’ in the film. I thought I was there to just help with the research and the choreography of the actor’s movements. I never had any notions that Stanley would want me to play ‘Moon-Watcher’ in 2001.

Justin Bozung:

Then there was the enormous amount of research you did on apes.

Dan Richter:

I spent a great deal of time researching at the London Museum Of Natural History. I was granted access to their back stacks, and got to examine and study various skeletons and bones in their collection and all the early journals and research work the museum had acquired to that point.. I spent a lot of time talking to scientists with specialization in the Australopithecus era. Which of course, was the era that we were planning on setting the opening of the film in.

I also went to various zoo’s around England. With the zoo research I was studying the apes to develop a choreography. So I studied the apes at the zoo, so I could see how they interacted with each other in a tribe. How they moved, how their bodies reacted. So I began to study Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and Gibbons. Before my first trip Stanley had handed me a 8mm Bolex camera and told me to film everything. So I just went and filmed everything I observed. I was looking for the truth of it, I needed to know how they interacted with each other.

As we got closer to shooting, we were having a difficult time figuring out exactly how the man-apes should move. When I was at the zoo I filmed this Gibbon ape in slow motion coming down a tree and once he got down he began to just walk around. When I went back and watched the film I discovered this specific way in which the Gibbon walked. The Gibbon moves with their legs slightly bent with their knees pointing outward. Then, with the Chimps we decided it would be best to move our hands and arms in the same way that they moved theirs, which was at particular angle as well.”

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From the February 3, 1890 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

San Francisco, Cal.–The following is given by a correspondent in Santiago, Chile: ‘Bo Perez, accompanied by Enrique Bello, 7 years of age, left Valparaiso to travel on foot for Santiago. Upon their arrival at the railroad tunnel near San Pedro, Perez seized the boy and undertook to eat him alive. He ate the fingers off one hand and part of one foot and bit pieces out of his cheek. He then commenced sucking the lad’s blood and the latter fainted. The guard of the tunnel surprised Perez in the midst of his feast, but the cannibal fled up the mountain. The boy was taken care of and Perez was subsequently captured.”

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As David Letterman heads into the victory lap of his TV career, I think back on Brother Theodore, one of my favorite guests during the host’s early great years, when the brilliant tandem Steve O’Donnell and Merrill Markoe were working their magic behind the scenes. Theodore had previously guested on many other talk shows–Merv Griffin gave him the “Brother” moniker because of a collared shirt the performer wore–but it was with Letterman that the stand-up tragedian left his most indelible impression.

If the mad monologist Theodore Gottlieb’s biography was true, he a had enough drama for ten people: a prisoner of the Dachau concentration camp, a chess hustler in Switzerland, a friend of Albert Einstein (who reportedly was his mother’s lover) and a stage performer unlike all others in New York. He passed away at 94 in 2001.


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Ethics, let alone laws, can’t keep up with the accelerating pace of science and technology. Growth is exponential and often unexpected, and different nations have varying rules of engagement. It’s difficult to come up with any universal policy. Biotech, in particular, will be messy and dangerous. From a post about the implications of synthetic yeast by Julian Savulescu at Practical Ethics:

“Back in 2010, I blogged about Craig Venter’s creation of the first synthetic organism, Synthia, a bacteria.

Now, in 2014, the next step has been made by a team at John Hopkins University, the use of synthetic biology in yeast, which, whilst still a simple organism, has a similar cell structure to humans (and other more complex organisms): a nuclei, chromosomes and organelles. The engineered yeast has been reproduced to over 100 generations, passing on its new DNA.

The pace is breathtaking. Moore’s law describes a phenomenon in computing, where computer capacity (so far) doubles every two years. Kurzweil uses Moore’s law to predict the: a state where humans no longer control, or even comprehend, the progress that technology continues to make.

It’s difficult to measure scientific progress in the same way as computer power, but it’s clear that leaps in progress are now measured in years, not decades. Yet still we wait until technology is upon us before we act.

Consider a parallel technology: cloning. The earliest intimations of cloning were perhaps in 1885, when Hans Dreisch successfully divided sea urchin embryos. Yet it was not until Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1998 that we began to become concerned and consider deeply thoughts on human cloning. A moratorium on human cloning research was put in place in the US, and a ban in Europe. In industry, cloned animals are used in farming already, yet the EC and UK governments are apparently at loggerheads about whether to allow this to continue.

Synthetic biology, I believe, has far greater potential than straight forward cloning. But this potential includes great harms as well as great benefits.

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Ray Bradbury reportedly wrote Fahrenheit 451 on coin-operated typewriters in the early 1950s. As the San Francisco Chronicle points out, coin-operated computers became a thing three decades later in the Bay Area. No dystopian masterpieces seem to have emerged, but it was an interesting experiment nonetheless. The opening of the above article:

“Patrons of the San Francisco Civic Center library may now buy time on a coin-operated computer–a $1 token pays for 20 minutes–to help figure their household budget, manage a small business or learn to type.

The computer comes with an instruction book written on a third-grade level.

The library’s first Franklin Ace 1000 computer was wheeled into the main library by Kim Cohan, its 18-year-old marketing entrepreneur, who said he has ‘taken an expensive piece of equipment and brought it to a level where it’s affordable for a large number of people.’

Cohan has taken a $4500 computer and wired it to a coin box and a printer. Librarians will sell the $1 tokens–which are restamped slot machine tokens–and take reservations from the public for up to an hour on the computer.”

For those moments when it seems we’re being fed bread and Kardashians nonstop, when the culture has have never been so dumb, let us refer back to 1979′s Playboy Roller Disco & Pajama Party, which aired in primetime on ABC. The show starred Richard Dawson, the Village People, Dorothy Stratten, Wayland Flowers and Madame (and a crudely racist puppet), the San Diego Chicken and lots of good, wholesome cocaine. Meanwhile, the hostages in Iran waited for help.

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