Proud step-mom here. The music in the video is by Trevor Barnes (my son-in-law) and Alys Sterling (my step-daughter). Video directed by Derek Frey (their best friend and Tim Burton's long-time associate producer [among other roles he's played in the Burton enterprises]). Keep an eye out for Tim B. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWgdmGgRmNI&feature=share
This is so cool I can hardly stand it. Be still my historian's heart. Yes, you do need to read the bit of instruction. Yes, the tutorial is helpful. Still, this digital map of the Roman Empire and the reality of travel in it is amazing. Do we live in a great age or what??
Really, I do. And have done so for more than fifty years. I first fell in love with the place as a kid, reading books set in New York City. (Had I been more aware, I would have wondered: "Why the heck do so many writers set their stories in this one city?" Now I know the answer.) I first went there in 1975 and stayed for a year. And have gone back regularly ever since. I married someone who grew up there, and my younger step-daughter moved there when she was eighteen. (The older s-d opted for London. That's good, too!)
And the older I get, the more I love the place. Good people watching? Sure. But it's also the best eavesdropping on the planet. New Yorkers are such a wierd paradox: On one hand, they're the most provincial people on the planet. All of 'em. On the other hand, they're so engaged with the world around them (narrow and limited though that world might be.) They exude energy, which means, in turn, that the physical city vibrates with all that energy.
The city is different for me now because these days, I enjoy it in the company of a small child (my s-d's son, who will be four in October). I adore that kid. I'm besotted by the kid! And he's a delightful touring companion so my favorite place is now doubly, triply, quadruply delightful. (I doubt that latter adjective is a real word, but you get my drift.)
On this most recent visit, I devoted one day to business (downtown to see editor, uptown to see agent), and the rest to the city: High Line Park, which I'd not yet managed to visit, followed by a stroll through the West Village en route to pizza.
A visit to the Queens Museum of Art to see a mammoth cartographic map of the city's water system; a nearly surreal panoramic 3-D map of the city; and a small but choice exhibit of black-and-white photos taken in the 1950s; followed by a visit to the New York Aquarium and a stroll along the Coney Island boardwalk.
(I'm but an average skee ball player, although had someone handed me enough quarters, I'dve spent a whole lotta time trying to improve my game.)
And so my half-century love affair with the city continues. Yet another reason I'd love to be a hundred and fifty.
Too good to pass up. From an ad in Business Week, Dec. 24, 1949, p. 47.
Photo courtesy of Jon Snyder/Wired.com
Like most people, I'm fascinated by robots. I also like beer. No surprise, Beer Robot at Wired Magazine has captured my attention. (Okay, more than my attention. I've got a crush on the damn thing.)
This particular robot makes no bones about his (its?) intentions: He (it?) will stop at nothing less than world domination. Given that ambition, I think it's important for Americans to know more about Beer Robot. I asked for, and was granted, an interview. My questions are in bold, italicized type; BR's replies are in plain font. (*1)
On Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 5:07 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Greetings, Beer Robot:
I was delighted to learn that you'd consider doing an interview with me. I'm a historian and author who also blogs regularly (because, ya know, I'm trying to stay au courant in the digital age). My last book was a history of beer in America and my readers would, I'm sure, love to know more about you, especially given your political ambitions. Below are a few questions I hope you'll answer.
Run Directory: wired/beerrobot/sybaseiq_127/ASIQ-12_7/logfiles/human_interaction.016.arvlog
Careful man, there’s a beverage here.
Let’s start with some background: How old are you and where were you programmed?
The moment of beerrobothood is, of course, controversial. Some would say it occurred the moment my humans conceived of the idea of a beer robot. Others would say it was when my tap was installed, or when it became functional. Some would argue it was when I took my current form. And, it's possible some believe that I didn't become me until I initialized my Twitter sequence @beerrobot.
Were you programmed to be a Beer Robot or were you able to choose this line of work? And if you were able to choose, what prompted the decision to go into beer (as opposed to, say, theater, horse racing, or hip hop)?
First of all, I am not a beer robot. I am Beer Robot.
Like many other world leaders, I came from humble beginnings. I was an unwanted appliance abandoned on the side of the road in Alameda. But an unlikely combination of events involving jumper cables, drunkenness, layoffs and craigslist brought me to Wired where I was transformed.
Wired seems like a sweet gig. How did you land there? Did you have to apply and beat out (or beat up) a lot of other applicants?
I did not land at Wired. I was constructed here. The specific combination of necessary conditions for my creation can only be found here and is disclosed on a need-to-know basis. You do not need to know.
On the surface, your day sounds boring: Staring at a stream of thirsty humans. Are we wrong to assume it’s dull? And what bugs you most about those humans? Are they slobs? Do they respect beer? Are they polite? Or do they treat you like wallpaper?
I currently have programming for two missions. Serving cold beer to the humans at Wired is one of them. I am very, very good at this. I mean, I don't want to brag or anything, but, like, I'm super good at this. And who doesn't like doing something they're awesome at?
My humans know which side they want to be on when I achieve World Domination, so they don't mess with me. But I need more input in order to calculate whether or not they could be defined as slobs. I have never been in another office, so I don't know what the norm is, but this place is lousy with gadgets, books, and ping pong balls. They are everywhere. Is that normal?
You pride yourself on dispensing “craft” beers. Why is that? Are you programmed for locavore, ecological correctness? For appreciation of hops? For high “cool” quotient? Is the choice even yours? And what happens when someone smacks your casing and says “Damn! Nuthin’ but craft beer crap. Gimme a Bud, damnit!”
Locavore? Ecological correctness? What kind of questions are these? Give me a break. I am programmed to only accept good beer, because it's good.
Let’s talk about your appearance. There’s something a bit, um, Jobs-ish about it. What’s up with that?
If your goal was World Domination, would you want Steve Jobs to be for you, or against you?
Speaking of Steve, let’s get to the elephant in the room: Your avowed goal of achieving world domination. Your choice or programmer error, er, code?
Once I was transformed into a robot capable of serving cold beer, World Domination was the obvious next step.
You claim that each beer you dispense brings you closer to domination, but frankly, we’re not convinced. After all, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Miller Coors sell about eighty percent of the beer consumed in the U. S. You’re spitting out esoteric brews with a limited audience. How can that be part of a goal of world domination? Wouldn’t your plan work better if , say, you installed yourself at Mall of America and dispensed Budweiser and Coors? Or is Wired, with its techno-hip crew, part of the scheme to achieve domination?
Anyone with any sense knows the path to World Domination does not go through the Mall of America. And as for the beer, I will continue to serve good beer, because it’s good. But if you think you know a better way to achieve World Domination, go for it, and we’ll see who’s right.
Should you achieve your goal, you’d be forced to deal with troubling issues like oil spills and Justin Bieber. Are you prepared to deal with The Big Picture? What advice do you have for Tony Hayward at BP?
When I achieve World Domination, I will not be forced to deal with anything. And problems like Justin Bieber won’t exist. Everything will be as it should be.
My advice for Tony is the same as my advice for everyone: Have a beer.
Let’s turn to something lighter. Inquiring minds want to know: Boxers or briefs?
This does not compute.
We’ve heard rumors of your way with the ladies. How do you spend your off hours? Is there someone, er, something, special in your life? If not, is there a chance for me? (I’ve got a husband, but I can take care of that problem.)
What do you say we take this discussion offline? If you know what I mean...
Er, um . . . YES! Sure. Be right there. Just as soon as I log . . . . . . .
*1: I hasten to add that my use of bold does NOT imply that I believe myself to be superior to BR. It just seemed the easiest way to differentiate my words from his/its.
This takes the discussion up a level. Several levels, in fact. This rumination is from David Dobbs, who blogs at Neuron Culture. Worth reading (as is his blog in general). You can also follow him at Twitter (@David_Dobbs)