October 14, 2012
The wonderful Sarah Polley reveals a deep family secret in "Stories We Tell"
I have long admired this under the radar Canadian actress, superb in every film she's been in.
Excerpts from Kempton Lam's October 13 Examiner.com story follow.
Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell" (which opened yesterday) is a documentary that chronicles the story of her family, including the revelation that the filmmaker was the product of an extramarital affair.
Polley's story may be intensely personal but it is also universal, heartbreaking, well-crafted, and both more dramatic and funnier than most feature films these days.
It shouldn't have worked, this manic mix of home movie footage, a Greek chorus of Sarah Polley's siblings and friends, as well as Polley's father himself all sharing this sprawling story about the secrets of the late Diane Polley — wife, actress, and mother of five.
Yet somehow it all hangs together and from the many voices, tears, laughs, and surprises, the audience gets something so much more than just a Canadian actress and director sharing a secret. The film is about all of us: how we remember, how we self-edit our own lives, and what gaps in the narrative say about us.
Polley wrote and posted a revealing National Film Board blog entry when the film opened in Venice. She wrote, "I have spent five years deciding, frame by frame and word by word, how to tell this story in this film."
It is hopeful and inspiring to read that a few decent and ethical Canadian journalists kept Polley's secrets — which gave her time to tell her story in her own way. In the words of one of the journalists, Brian D. Johnson, "If you're looking for evidence that Canada's media culture is a kinder, gentler place than its American and British counterparts, look no further than the case of Sarah Polley. Today the 33-year-old Toronto filmmaker and actress finally went public with a family secret that has been known to certain members of the film community and the media for well over a year — that actor Michael Polley, the man she's called Dad all her life, is not her biological father, and that her mother, who died when she was 11, conceived her during an extra-marital affair."
And in Polley's own words, "I also learned that people can be more decent and ethical than you imagine. Several journalists, including Brian Johnson and Matthew Hays (and more recently Gabe Gonda, the arts editor at The Globe and Mail), have known this story for years. And while they very much wanted to print it, they all respected my wish to keep this story private until I was ready to tell it in my own words. I'm so thankful to them for letting me have the space to explore this on my own, ask the questions I wanted to ask, and let this film come out into the world. I never could have made it if I hadn't had that space and time."
Baseball Glove Oven Mitt
"Colonel Mustard's claim to have invented baseball when he was Brown Owl of the 3rd Reppington Girl Guide Troop may be disputed by Americans — but there's no doubt he invented the Home Run oven mitt. It looks like a traditional leather baseball glove but lets him keep his cool when the cookies are hot."
"It's a long path from the platform to the app" — Will Martin on quantum computing
Below, Will's response to "Quantum Computing Wins a Nobel" on the New Yorker website.
Somehow, this didn't seem all that insightful. It seems to boil down to:
1: Like a computer, a physics experiment has input and output. Future computer engineers might be able to use the physics relationship in order to build smaller, faster computers. This is a bit vague and futuristic, but maybe someone will someday bring this theory into practice.
2: In a computer, humans program this relationship between input and output. In a physics experiment, natural laws create this relationship.
3: In the process of setting up a quantum computer and "programming" it, we might be able to compare input with output and learn more about natural laws. Such a computer could become an ideal lab for this kind of research.
In a way, this is a natural evolution for solving the problems physicists are trying to solve. Early computers required rewiring the hardware for each program that was run, much as each physics experiment now requires a unique physical hardware setup. Later computers had one, more complex and versatile hardware setup that could be reprogrammed to do different things without changing the hardware.
This involves the boundary between data and instructions. A hard-wired computer responds to different input data with different output results, but a soft-wired computer can receive instructions much as a hard-wired computer receives data. Modern computers with documents that include macros blur this boundary further.
I see problems. First, you can't have it both ways. Either it is a small, fast computer with reliable results, or it's a physics lab where you study the currently unpredictable results hoping to discover the math theory that would explain the results. Add that if a quantum computer really does become too impossibly fast for more conventional computers to verify the results, we wouldn't be able to tell which of these types of device we were working with.
Remember the Pentium chip with the unnoticed error burned into it? Most of the time, it worked fine. But....
We could have 99 laws of physics right and use a quantum computer for years to control something like a nuclear power plant before discovering that 100th physical law that we were completely wrong about.
Add that we have enough trouble writing software for computers with known instruction sets, known operating systems, known hardware drivers and known interfaces. How will we write useful software with our best guess at natural laws replacing all of this? Anybody remember assembler language? This goes back farther than that. Human minds need to program this thing.
The research may produce useful spinoff technologies not mentioned in the article that can help conventional computers get incrementally smaller and faster. Don't get your hopes up for new computers that skip incremental evolution by replacing everything all at once. Microsoft still has a C:\_ prompt hidden in Windows for no practical reason except the mountains of legacy code out there that still uses it, and OS X is based on Unix with LOTS of old code dragged along for the ride.
Anything totally new will have to start out small and simple with humble capabilities. Human minds need to understand how the pieces work before they can be strung together into functional, complex systems. It's a long path from the platform to the app. These guys are suggesting a new platform.
Marmite Cuff Links
From the website:
On the one hand, you may love it, on the other you may hate it — and one day you’ll have to put your hand up and say which.
Our Marmite cufflinks let you tell everyone what your tastes are, whether it's simply the best thing ever to spread on your toast or the very last thing to come out of the cupboard.
And because these cufflinks are miniatures of the classic Marmite jar and made from quality enameled metal, they'll go with any shirt.
Live broadcast: Felix Baumgartner ascends to 128,000 feet for The Jump
"6,391,455 watching now."
Modern Stone Age Tools
Their work is the result of an experimental exploration of the realm of tool making, where stone and flint tools were the means of our ancestors' survival for over a million years. They magnify our bodily (teeth, fingernails, fists, etc.) capabilities of cutting and chopping, sawing and pounding.
Using three-dimensional scanning and printing, ancient artifacts are digitally outfitted with custom-designed handles encapsulating the rugged forms in perfectly enclosed cases.
[via Rick Yaeger]