Attended the play Candide

Today I was very fortunate to attend the final performance of the play Candide at the Calaveras Repertory Theatre. The play is a modern adaption of the novel by Voltaire and was translated, adapted and directed by John Ribovich. There were four actors Maggie Ferrill, Noel Wood, Tim Davis,Gloria Betsy Picart who played all of the various parts.

You could tell that the cast was really having a wonderful time with the material and their roles. I enjoyed the play and if they ever stage the production again I recommend it.


EFF Benefit Reading

Monday evening there was a benefit reading for the EFF in San Francisco. Reading were Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz, Rudy Rucker and Cory Doctorow. All read from either works in progress or recently published works. It was great. I enjoyed it.

After the reading I had the privilege of speaking with Cory for a couple of minutes and telling him that his novel Little Brother was a finalist for the Libertarian Futurist Society Prometheus Best Novel Award. He was very happy. I highly recommend the book. Get it from your favorite bookseller or via download for immediate pleasure
Free Download Link From Cory's Website.

The Full List of Prometheus Award Finalists.



According to various news reports HRP-4C is a walking and talking robot just announced in Japan. The unit is described as being generally female in form with a height of 158 centimeters and a weight of 58 kilograms. The basic robotic framework will be available for sale and software available as open source. Various news articles are available: International Herald Tribute and Engadget (with link to video).

Obviously there is a lot of work to do but I am impressed at what National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan has achieved thus far. I saw Asimo (developed by Honda) demonstrated in 2006 and I was impressed then and I expected to see progress. Based on what I see it will not be too many years until we see more advanced models working a variety of roles. This will be happen just in time since Japan (like many other countries) has an aging population.


Over the weekend I saw the movie Watchmen. It was not bad; actually it was fairly good considering the difficulty of trying to take the vision of a graphic novel and transfer it to a motion picture. One thing which actually helped the movie was how closely it followed the graphic novel; this kept it from wondering off course.

Time will tell about how the movie does financially. I suspect that there were people going to the movie who were not familiar with the graphic novel and expected a typical superhero movie. For people who enjoyed the graphic novel; I recommend the movie if you adjust your expectation appropriately. For people who have never read the graphic novel but can deal with an atypical superhero story with lots of violence and story line which is more complex than average superhero movie then it is worth seeing. Both the graphic novel and the movie will make you think.

The Guardian has an interesting interview with Alan Moore in which Moore discusses the Watchmen graphic novel, some of his views on comics and his take on the movie business. In the interview Moore also discusses Lost Girls. I have not read Lost Girls but the Guardian describes it as "a 320-page, three-volume work of pornography, illustrated by Melinda Gebbie, a veteran of the San Francisco underground and also his wife." The Lost Girls covers the sexual adventures of three fictional women – Lewis Carroll's Alice, Peter Pan's Wendy and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.


Photos, laws and related topics

The are several topics in the news that are somewhat related:
The Canadian Film maker Rob Spence lost an eye in an accident as a teenager and now he wants to have a mini camera installed in his prosthetic eye. And Tanya Vlach in San Francisco also has the same idea. My guess is that one or both of these projects will be successful within a few weeks or months; I would be very surprised if it takes over a year. Thus there would be people walking around taking video on the fly; not great high definition but still video.

Coming on the market are small lanyard cameras such as those in this BoingBoing blog entry.

Now consider what some police and politicians are doing. Cory Doctorow had a blog post in BoingBoing about the bizarre behaviour of NYPD on trying to enforce a law that does not exist; details in this NYT article. And then there is the proposal in the UK about police photos. I suspect that many police and politicians want to watch everyone and have no one watch them.

Surveillance is not a simple subject. The recent case of a Chicago cop beating a bartender is interesting in that the charges against the officer were increased after the surveillance video hit the internet. And there is the role video shot from cameras of the BART police shooting a young man.

These topics are more complex than I can cover in this one post. However as a beginning place to start thinking about these issues I suggest reading Cory Doctorow's SF novel Little Brother which is available as a free download and at booksellers. And there are a couple of sites worth following since they often have news on these topics: BoingBoing and the Reason blog.


Potlatch SF Convention

I spent the weekend at the Potlatch-SF convention held in Sunnyvale. It bounces around between the SF Bay Area and Seattle and once in a while Portland. Potlatch has a focus on SF literature. Having two books of honor this year worked well.

Overall I had a wonderful time. There were a couple of things which could have been a bit better but most relatively minor. Several others have already done blog entries about con and some of the panels so I will just point those who are interested to sites such as:
this one
and here is another
and yet another
and several here.
This list of web resources for Potlatch is not complete but should give those who could not be there a starting point.

Next year Potlatch will be in Seattle. The details are TBD.