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March 17, 2019

U.S. TV news shows closed caption search engine

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From 2009 to yesterday.

Res ipsa loquitur (silently).

March 17, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What music sounds like through an auditory implant

[via The Conversation]

March 17, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Berlin Brick Museum

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From Atlas Obscura:

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Karl-Ludwig Lange (below) is a German photographer known for his black-and-white photos of Berlin.

Zz

Starting in the late 1960s, he made a name for himself as a restless flâneur with a camera, capturing the architecture and street life of Germany's capital.

Over the decades, he has documented the city’s political and cultural shifts.

But Lange is more than a prominent photographer — he also has one of the biggest brick collections in the world.

The 69-year-old Lange has been stockpiling bricks for almost 30 years.

He says he owns more than 1,800 unique bricks, weighing a good 14,000 pounds.

Each one of the artifacts in Lange’s mammoth collection bears its own design and stamp and resides on specially constructed, floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves (top) in his apartment in Wedding, a district in Northwest Berlin.

The humble chunk of baked clay first captured his attention after a chance encounter in 1990, when he got an assignment with the architectural magazine Bauwelt to photograph an old brick furnace, built in 1868, which sat 22 miles west of Berlin in the state of Brandenburg.

"It's the only faithfully preserved ring furnace in Europe, built after plans by the great inventor Friedrich Eduard Hoffmann," says Lange. "The German government had decided to save it and to use it to make facade bricks for reconstruction of churches and other public buildings in Berlin."

The magazine published Lange’s photos in early 1991.

Soon after, he learned that in Freiwalde, another town in Brandenburg, about 41 miles south of Berlin, there was another working brick factory.

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[Above: most of the bricks made in the Brandenburg area have been stamped with the logo of the brickyard that made them]

He became obsessed with the history of bricks and brick-making around Berlin and in the years that followed, he managed to locate the ruins of hundreds of factories.

He did so using more than 250 Prussian military maps from the mid-19th century, essentially turning himself into an industrial archaeologist.

All in all, over three decades, Lange says he has visited more than 1,300 brick factories in around 350 towns and villages in the vicinity of Berlin.

Only eight of the brick factories were still working when he arrived.

Lange took photos and collected brick samples at every site.

Some of the artifacts in his massive collection date from as early as the 11th century.

In addition to this, Lange produced an extensive library-like catalog for each item in his collection.

Each brick is described on a single card, with a photograph and information about its age and maker, as well as the place and date it was found.

Lange has also amassed a library of rare books about bricks and brick-making, some of which date back to 1765.

[Below: brickmaking tools in a 1765 brickmaking manual]

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But why bricks?

According to Lange, this is the best way to understand how cities, and Berlin, in particular, developed.

Like most medieval European cities, the early secular buildings in the German capital were crudely built, often using flammable materials including wood and straw.

This changed around 1820 when the brick industry started flourishing.

"Due to the large clay deposits in the Brandenburg area, a vibrant brick industry emerged in the early 19th century," says Lange, adding that "the history of brick-making around Brandenburg is essentially the story of people who built Berlin."

A male worker in the late 19th century would produce up to 8,000 bricks a day, working 16 hours.

Women and children were also employed in the industry: female workers would produce about 250 bricks in an eight-hour workday.

"Most of the brickmakers died pretty young, around 45 years of age, due to the hard work and bad living conditions," says Lange.

By 1900, Berlin used about three billion bricks per year, which were transported to the city via its 120 miles of waterways.

Most of those blocks were made by hand in more than 1,500 brickyards within a radius of 55 miles around the city.

Larger buildings, such as the former railway terminus Anhalter Bahnhof, needed 16 million bricks, and the Reichstag required 30 million.

According to German historian Matthias Roch, between 12 and 15 billion bricks were delivered to Berlin between 1850 and the First World War, a time in which Berlin grew rapidly.

Today only a few brickyards can be found, in the Brandenburg area.

After the First World War, concrete from Upper Silesia (in today's Poland and Czechia) and Westphalia (in Northwestern Germany) became more commonly used than bricks because of its lower price.

Concrete has a larger compressive strength than bricks and could also be reinforced with steel, giving it higher tensile strength as well.

Concrete could be poured into large molds on site, making construction faster, while brick structures could only be built one row at a time.

Eventually, the nearby brickyards lost their economic base and the concrete won.

Lange’s obsession has connected him with other like-minded people across Germany.

In fact, he's the leader of an exclusive club of about one dozen self-described brick addicts known as the Brick Hunters.

The group formed 15 years ago and its members meet two times a year at Lange's apartment, where they talk about bricks, architecture, city planning, and more.

Sometimes the Brick Hunters organize exhibitions, hold talks, and publish books on their favorite topic.

Lange's unusual collection currently fills two rooms in his modest apartment, which had miraculously survived World War II air raids.

The space has wooden floor beams, so the bricks are placed around its load-bearing walls.

Just walking into the rooms with walls covered in bricks is overwhelming.

Sadly, his collection remains largely unseen by the wider public.

Lange's efforts to obtain funding from the German state and find a permanent place for it have so far been unsuccessful.

"I wanted to have a private museum and I got one. But I'm nearly 70 years old, so what should I do with my brick collection?" Lange asks rhetorically.

March 17, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The difference between a person and a computer is that the computer has no concepts — Douglas Hofstadter

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In a sprightly Q&A with Deborah Solomon that appeared in the April 1, 2007 New York Times magazine, Hofstadter, the author of the iconic 1979 book "Gödel, Escher, Bach," also said, "I have no interest in computers."

Their exchange follows.

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As a professor of cognitive science at Indiana University who spends his time thinking about the process of thinking, what do you make of Descartes’s famed pronouncement, "I think, therefore I am"? 

Who knows what that means? It's a tiny, little aphorism. You can interpret it any way you want and say, "What a wise man he was!"

You first became known in 1979, when you published "Gödel, Escher, Bach," a campus classic, which finds parallels between the brains of Bach, M. C. Escher, and the mathematician Kurt Gödel. In your new book, "I Am a Strange Loop," you seem mainly interested in your own brain. 

This book is much straighter. It's less crazy. Less daring, maybe.

You really know how to plug a book. 

Well, O.K., I don't know. Questions of consciousness and soul — that is what the new book was motivated by.

You write movingly about your wife, Carol, who died tragically in 1993, and suggest that her soul remains embedded in your consciousness. 

You can imagine a soul as being a detailed, elaborate pattern that exists very clearly in one brain. When a person dies, the original is no longer around. But there are other versions of it in other people's brains. It's a less detailed copy, it's coarse-grained.

You make it sound as if a soul can be Xeroxed. 

You can't duplicate someone exactly. I didn't say exactly. I said coarse-grained and approximate. Lower-resolution.

Aren't you just putting a clever gloss on the phenomenon of memory?

Many people believe that our lives end not when we die but when the very last person who knew us dies. Memory is part of it, yes, but I think it's much more than memory. It's the fact that my wife and I, for example, became so intimately engaged that her essence was imported into my brain.

Why do you think you are still in mourning after all these years?

She died when our children were so young. The chance to watch her children grow up was taken away from her, and that was the thing that absolutely destroyed me.

In your book, you also discuss the souls of animals and your conversion to vegetarianism. 

I don't feel I have the right to snuff the lives of chicken and fish.

What about mosquitoes? 

If a mosquito has a soul, it is mostly evil. So I don't have too many qualms about putting a mosquito out of its misery. I'm a little more respectful of ants.

Your father, Robert Hofstadter, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1961 for his efforts on behalf of neutrons and electrons.

I was 16 when he won. It was a good boost for my shaky ego. I was worried about whether I was a bright person or not.

Did you feel reassured when you yourself won a prize — the Pulitzer, in 1980, for "Gödel, Escher, Bach"? I don't like the idea of prizes, which make too much of a binary distinction between people. But in this case, the prize did me some tangible good. What I gained was academic freedom, the respect of my university.

Your entry in Wikipedia says that your work has inspired many students to begin careers in computing and artificial intelligence.

I have no interest in computers. The entry is filled with inaccuracies, and it kind of depresses me.

So fix it. 

The next day someone will fix it back.

You don’t have any interest in artificial intelligence? 

I've taught a course called "Hype vs. Hope in A.I." Why does this field inspire such nonsense? People who claim that computer programs can understand short stories, or compose great pieces of music — I find that stuff ridiculously overblown.

What does a computer lack that a person has?

It has no concepts.

I know some people who have no concepts. 

They do have concepts. People are filled to the brim with concepts. You don't have to know what a concept is in order to have one.

March 17, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Black OPS Elite iPhone Case

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From the website:

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The Black Ops Elite 2018 for the iPhone is enhanced by increased tactical material and features.

Made with CNC machined G10 and aircraft grade aluminum for the chassis with a rugged foundation and field ready finish.

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Next level DropShock™ technology provides impact-absorbing benefits beyond the corners and across the entire case body.

Already drop tested so you don't have to worry!

It is lightweight and low bulk while delivering the ultimate in covert protection.

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$249.95.

March 17, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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