07 November 2007

Harold Pinter Nobel Lecture

Art, Truth & Politics (video) Cateva citate:
Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.
I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.' It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US. The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain. What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.
How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London. ... Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.
I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man. 'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'

03 November 2007

Imprimanta 3D

Fabberele, imprimantele 3D (capabile sa construiasca un obiect plecand de la un model virtual 3D pe calculator), exista de cateva decenii, insa sunt extrem de scumpe si nu functioneaza decat cu un singur material. Acum exista insa o varianta open-source: Fab@Home. Site-ul e un wiki in care se povesteste cum sa-ti contruiesti singur acasa un fabber. Exista deja si o firma care vinde (la 3000 de dolari) fabbere aroape complet contruite. Fab@Home poate construi obiecte din aproape orice material, de la ceramica si metal pana la plastic si cascaval. Ideea construirii unui fabber open-source i-a venit unui robotician de la Universitatea Cornell, Hod Lipson, care doreste sa faca roboti care sa se inmulteasca. Din Popular Mechanics:
He just wanted to design a really cool robot, one that could “evolve” by reprogramming itself and would also produce its own hardware—a software brain, if you will, with the ability to create a body. To do this, Lipson needed a rapid-prototyping fabrication, or “fabber.” Picture a 3D inkjet printer that deposits droplets of plastic, layer by layer, gradually building up an object of any shape. Fabbers have been around for two decades, but they’ve always been the pricey playthings of high-tech labs—and could only use a single material. “To really let this robotic evolutionary process reach its full potential,” says Lipson, a Cornell University computer and engineering faculty member, “we need a machine that can fabricate anything, not just complex geometry, but also wires and motors and sensors and actuators.” Lipson and his grad student collaborators, Dan Periard and Evan Malone, decided to put the problem to the people. They developed a low-cost, open-source fabbing system—Fab at Home—and encouraged experimentation by starting an online wiki for hobbyists. People report printing with everything from food (Easy Cheese, chocolate), to epoxy, to metal-powder-impregnated silicone to make conductive wires. A Fab at Home kit costs around $2400. Lipson compares it to early kit computers such as the MITS Altair 8800, which democratized computer technology in the 1970s. At-home fabrication, Lipson says, “is a revolution waiting to happen.” As for that robot? Wait a year, he says, and it really will walk out of the machine.
Cea mai complicata chestie produsa pana acum de fabber e o lanterna - functionala: Video al procesului de constructie. Nu e inca replicatorul din Star Trek, dar suntem pe drumul cel bun! Mi se pare ca povestea asta arata si puterea modelului open-source, in opozitie cu modelul traditional al firmelor obsedate de patentarea tehnologiilor.

Povestea lui Ayaan Hirsi Ali