Saturday, September 24, 2016

Digital magic paper?

Is paper disappearing like a Houdini trick?

A few weeks ago  a magician told me that he would be delighted to send me a publicity photo, but that everything he has is now digital. A publisher of a new book on magic history told me the same, as did a magic prop seller yesterday.

With a blog to my name, I can hardly call myself a Luddite. But beyond the charm of paper publicity material, how long will a digital ad or photo be kept online? Friends own paper photos that are more than a century old.  What about material that were on cd-roms?

What will future historians do?

How will future performers know what current ones did?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Moses, Hoover, and power.

The power to destroy neighborhoods to build a bridge, the power to punish people for their beliefs. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and New York City Parks and Transportation head Robert Moses were both accused of taking on destructive projects, and both were accused of intimidating politicians in order to stay in power. In _The Power Broker_, Robert Moses is portrayed as an almost tragic figure in his last years, unable to understand why people were not more appreciative of the good work he had done.

It is thanks to Moses that New York state has many of its parks, and some of Moses early highway projects were quite beneficial. It is just as easy to forget that Hoover, when he started at what was not yet called the FBI, was almost single handedly responsible for making reforms that helped everyone, except for the drunks he fired and the bad guys he caught. Okay, _he_ didn't catch the bad guys personally, the Carpas publicity stunt not withstanding. But in his early years as director, Hoover improved the morale and efficiency of those who did (occasionally) face literal gunfire.

I'm suggesting that late career mistakes can overshadow past accomplishments, and that power corrupts. There is a good reason that after Moses, the Bridge and Tunnel Admin was separated from the MTA, and both, of course, from the Parks Department. Moses was in power for decades, Hoover for about half a century. There is a reason that the FBI director now serves a maximum of, I think, ten years.

Is anyone capable of maintaining power for that long without abusing it more as time passes?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hidden mathematical figures

Who knew that women mathematicians worked for NASA during the cold war? One of these women was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom recently, and she and three others are featured in a new book called Hidden Figures by someone named Shetterly.

Taxing tampons and pads as "non-essential" is another set of "hidden figures"--for those of you who've never bought them, they are expensive. Well, thank you, NY, for becoming the 11th US state to now not charge tax on them. Aren't periods awful enough without having to pay extra for it? And does anyone who has periods, or loves someone who does, really think that tampons or pads are "non-essential"?

Women are making progress.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Art & science

I treasure times when the "two cultures" of art and science can meet, and a November play about Hollywood star and "frequency hopping" co-inventor Hedy Lamarr will be exquisite, based on the workshop version I saw a few months ago, which was funny, thoughtful, and even a bit moving; one of the best shows ---maybe the best--- that I've ever seen.

It won
Outstanding Actress in a Staged Reading 
in the 2016 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

Here's a link to the  show's website:

It will be performed in New York City on November 9th at 7:30. The time of 7:30 is important because TICKETS ARE ARRANGED BY SHOW TIME, not by show name.  This long link below will take you there directly:

And if anyone would be so kind as to support the show financially,  Heather is doing this mostly by herself. Donations are fully tax deductible.

She needs to raise $10,000 and every dollar counts.

But the more important thing is to buy a ticket, as the show deserves a second performance and only gets a second if the first one sells out. 

She was Jewish in Austria, which she escaped after Naziis visited her home, made it big in Hollywood, stood up for herself at a time when that was unacceptable, and Ms Massie's interpretation of her life was hilarious too. 

Join me in seeing it.