"John Scully's" comic strip that has a farewell every day (drawn and written by Ruben Bolling)

"John Scully's" comic strip that has a farewell every day (drawn and written by Ruben Bolling)
"John Scully's" comic strip that has a farewell every day (drawn and written by Ruben Bolling)
September 19 is the last post for this blog. Thanks to all my readers!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

6 September 2015

Birthdays
Rhys Ward b. 1989 (The Strain, The 100, My Babysitter’s a Vampire)
Lauren Lapkus b. 1985 (Jurassic World)
Tehmina Sunny b. 1980 (Extant, Heroes, Children of Men)
Blaze Berdahl b. 1980 (Aliens in the Family, Pet Sematary)
Matthew Horne b. 1978 (Sinbad, Vampire Killers, Fairy Tales)
Naomie Harris b. 1976 (National Theatre Live: Frankenstien, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Dinotopia, 28 Days Later…, The Tomorrow People)
Sarah Strange b. 1974 (ReGenesis, Stargate SG-1, Jeremiah, Dark Angel, First Wave, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Millennium, Sliders, The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, The X Files, Neon Rider)
Idris Elba b. 1972 (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Prometheus, Thor, Pacific Rim, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, 28 Weeks Later, Ultraviolet, Space Precinct)
China Miéville b. 1972 (won 2010 Hugo for The City & the City)
Justina Machado b. 1972 (The Purge: Anarchy, Dragonfly, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Angel)
Dylan Bruno b. 1972 (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Dead Zone, The Rage: Carrie 2)
Betsy Russell b, 1963 (Saw III throught VI, Superboy, The Powers of Matthew Star)
Michael Winslow b. 1958 (Lavalantula, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Robodoc, Lycanthrope, Harry and the Hendersons, Spaceballs, Gremlins)
Patti Yasutake b. 1953 (FlashForward, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Katherine Cannon b. 1953 (Seven Days, Hard Time on Planet Earth, The Hidden, The Incredible Hulk, Battlestar Galactica, Future Cop)
Anne Lockhart b. 1953 (Surrogates, Bug Buster, Bionic Ever After, Quantum Leap, Freddy's Nightmares, Troll, AutoMan, Knight Rider, Voyagers!, E.T., The Incredible Hulk, Earthbound, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Battlestar Galactica, Project U.F.O., The Sixth Sense [1972])
Tommy Lee Wallace b. 1949 (director, Vampires: Los Muertos, It, Fright Night Part 2, Max Headroom, Twilight Zone [1985], Halloween III: Season of the Witch)
Keone Young b. 1947 (True Blood, Men in Black 3, Star Trek: Enterprise, The Invisible Man, Dude, Where’s My Car?, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids [TV], Deep Space Nine, Small Wonder )
Jane Curtin b. 1947 (The Librarians, Cyberchase, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Coneheads)
Swoosie Kurtz b. 1944 (Heroes, Category 7: The End of the World, Lost, Harvey [TV movie])
Carol Wayne b. 1942 died 13 January 1985 (The Girl with Something Extra, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie)
Jo Anne Worley b. 1937 (Wizards of Waverly Place, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, The Six Million Dollar Man, Captain Nice)
Sergio Aragones b. 1937 (writer/artist, Groo the Wanderer)
Jody McCrea b. 1934 died 4 April 2009 (The Monster That Challenged the World)
Paul Naschy b. 1934 died 30 November 2009 (A Werewolf in the Amazon, Night of the Werewolf, Mystery on Monster Island, Night of the Howling Beast, The Mummy’s Revenge, Vengeance of the Zombies, Count Dracula’s Great Love, Curse of the Devil, La Furia del Hombre Lobo, The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman, Las Noches del Hombre Lobo, Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror)
Max Schreck b. 1879 died 20 February 1936 (Nosferatu)

Notes from the birthday list.
1. The Picture Slot. In previous years, I used pictures of Max Schreck and Idris Elba. This year, I had several options, including Sergio Aragones and Naomie Harris, but I decided to go all Star Trek nerd and use Patti Yasutake from her regular role as Nurse Ogawa.

2. Spot the Canadian! Sarah Strange was born north of the border.

3. Nepotism FTW. Anne Lockhart is the daughter of June Lockhart and grand-daughter of Gene Lockhart. Jody McCrea is Joel McCrea's son.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

The Weekly Soapbox: Computers and Artificial Intelligence

Science fiction is often given credit for being prophetic, but the truth is not quite as flattering. Sci-fi is about telling stories, exciting adventures of imagination. Long before rockets were good enough to get us into orbit, science fiction stories had us traveling to other star systems, ignoring the problems of time and distance involved. On the other hand, the trajectory of computers and how quickly they would change, getting smaller, faster, cheaper and more practical, is a major technological advance of the past fifty years that sci-fi didn't quite get. An argument against my major theme might point to Asimov's robots or Frank Herbert's idea of mentats, people who can do what computers did after letting a computer think is made illegal, on the idea that we reached the Singularity and decided to walk away from it. But most of Asimov's robot stories as well as Herbert's Dune universe are set thousands or even tens of thousands of years in the future. Computers are a major part of our lives right now.

Here are my awards in different categories for the predictions about computer we have had on the blog.

Most paranoid
Arthur C. Clarke gets points for seeing how fast the computerized future would come, but nearly everything he wrote is a warning against it. Here I would single out the short story Dial F for Frankenstein and his screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Besides Clarke, the most paranoid depictions of computers come from movies like Colossus: The Forbin Project, the Terminator series and WarGames.

Most accurate or most prescient
Regular readers will know how I love to mock Robert A. Heinlein, but he got a few things right out of many, many speculations in his story The Door Into Summer, serialized in 1956 and turned into a novel in 1957. Most notable is Computer Aided Design or CAD, which he assumed would exist by the early 1970s.

Another very good prediction is from Lee De Forest in 1960, who forecast the development of computers used as medical diagnostic aides. OMNI Future Almanac will get a few mentions in overly-optimistic section, but one of their predictions published a few weeks ago about the computers of writer being connected by some wire over telephone lines to publishers was a very good guess in 1982.

But I give the last spot in this most complimentary category to T. Baron Russell in 1905, who predicted a combined typewriter/calculating machine that could create completely accurate ledgers. I'm sure Russell must have seen it a deluxe calculator, unable to envision computers or screens or spreadsheets or laser jet printers, but no one else from his era has an idea anything quite like this.

Most overly-optimistic
OMNI Future Almanac really went off the deep end sometimes with their computer predictions, falling in love with a fad like bio-rhythms to assume we might well have chips inside out heads by now. At a TED talk last decade, Bill Joy said high end computers would cost $10 in 2020, and while I can't say with complete confidence there won't be some crazy advances in the next five years, I don't hear anyone talking about what a wonderful prophet Bill Joy was these days.

As for the top spot in overly optimistic, Ray Kurzweil is the easy winner with his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines, which made a number of very specific advances that would come to pass by 2009. Kurzweil is tech-savvy enough that almost nothing he predicted is actually impossible, though we are still very far away from reverse engineering the brain, his boldest prediction by far. His best calls are about "worn technology", self-driving cars and voice recognition technology, his worst are reverse engineering the brain and the popularity of 3-D chips, which are hard to build and have bad error rates.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Speaking of OMNI Future Almanac, Monday is their regular turn for predictions.

Join is then... IN THE FUTURE!

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