Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2103rd Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3551, September 1, 2005.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:firstname.lastname@example.org
|L.A.con IV in 2006!||Nippon 2007 in 2007!||Salamander Press #2586|
Philip K. Dick and Hello Kitty: Separated at Birth?
The lead story in the August 2005 issue of Locus is "Philip K. Dick's Android Dreams", about the construction of a "lifelike, interactive android version of Philip K. Dick" that was demonstrated at an electronics festival in Chicago in June. "This robot publicly represents a remarkable convergence of the world's most expressive robot hardware, natural language AI, and machine vision that will appear in a wide range of applications such as advertising, entertainment and education," Locus quotes the exhibit's press release.
"The android was featured in a booth [...] designed to resemble the living room of a 1970s-era apartment. Some festival attendees were invited to hold conversations and otherwise interact with the robot [...]. Cutting-edge speech recognition software and an 'artificial-intelligence-driven personality' enable the robot to hold conversations and answer questions appropriately, with responses based on lines from Dick's books, essays, and interviews. [...] Cameras in the robot's eyes enable it to track faces, recognize individuals, and even understand facial expressions. [...] The robot was also demonstrated at the 20th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Pittsburgh, July 12". (page 5) For more information, see http://hansonrobotics.com/project_pkd.php.
What I find fascinating about this is that the claims about how the robot works and what it does are almost identical to the claims for the "Hello Kitty" robot that was announced in July 2004 as going on sale on Hello Kitty's 30th birthday in November, for the Japanese equivalent of $3,700. It never appeared, but much of the publicity is still on the Internet and available via a Google search for "Hello Kitty robot". One of the announcements with the best illustrations, including schematics, is at http://www.jengajam.com/r/Hello-Kitty-Robot (text in both French and English).
Presumably it is easier to pack the electronics necessary for such a robot into a human-sized frame than into a 52centimeter tall doll. Also presumably it is easier to construct a one-off robot sitting on a couch (enabling extra electronics to be connected into it from behind) than to mass-produce robot dolls to be purchased over the counter and be carried home by the customers.
To translate the final line from the French-text version of the JengaJam article, "What will they reproduce next? The Terminator?" (The English "translation" has a Chucky reference.)
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
From: Tim Susman <email@example.com>
Sent: Aug 28, 2005 2:26 AM
Subject: Best In Show
Just wanted to let you know that Best In Show is back in print and for sale on the Sofawolf website. Tell your friends! :)
Hooray! This is the third printing for my Best in Show anthology. It should be the same as the second printing, which corrected a couple of typos. Probably all LASFen who want it already have a copy, but if there is anyone who does want it without waiting until next February for the Furry! mass-market edition, go to http://www.sofawolf.com/ to order it. The Furry! edition will omit the interior illustrations and the fine cover art by Ursula Vernon, so get this trade paperback edition if you want the complete book. (If you just want to read it without owning a copy, check it out from the LASFS Library.) In any case, the more copies (presumably 150 more) of the Best in Show edition in existence, the better.
Amazon.com has relisted Furry! under its official release date of February 9, 2006 with a much more accurate (but still exaggerated) blurb:
Usually taking the form of human characteristics given to animals, anthropomorphics have been with humanity from the earliest cave paintings to our modern marketing icons and sports mascots. In the last several decades, the study of and fandom for anthropomorphics (commonly called the "furry" fandom) had been recognized as unique, and deserving of attention. From Watership Down to Redwall, fantasy fans have flocked to heroic tales of furry heroes.
In Furry!, "furry fiction expert" and editor Fred Patten takes readers through some of the best-loved and most memorable furry stories ever written.
This anthology of furry fiction features twenty-six of the best stories from long-running literary magazines such as Anthrolations, PawPrints Fanzine, The Ever-Changing Palace, Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe, and Yarf! Included are stories by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Watts Martin, Michael H. Payne, Gene Breshears, Brock Hoagland, Mel White, Phil Geusz, and many others. This collection also features informative introductions and bibliographies detailing the origins and history of the sub-genre.
This blurb implies that the text will be unabridged (but without the interior art) and it is still listed as 496 pages, but its price has been increased from $7.99 to $12.95. Is that an indication of paperback price inflation between this July and next February? The price difference between the $19.95 first edition and the mass-market edition is no longer as great.
By the way, if you have read and enjoyed Best in Show, you will also enjoy Why Coyotes Howl, by Watts Martin, a Furry short-story collection by one of the authors in Best in Show; also available from Sofawolf Press.
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Michael Burlake drove me to last week's LASFS meeting again. Its highlight was the rum cake that the Nivens brought to celebrate Fuzzy Pink's Patron Saint week. Yum! Nobody bought a parking space to donate to me for September, so I (or my drivers) will have to start finding alternate places to park starting this week.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Cover - (Unknown) I am sure that I have seen this Aussie Christmas card on sale in Southern California, too. Doubtlessly this is a generic image/gag printed by many greeting card companies rather than an Aussie import. Why are we getting it in August, though?
Godzillla Verses #53 - (DeChancie) Gee, the worst that I used to get all over my car hood & roof at my Culver City apartment was dusty cat pawprints. ## What is wrong with an obvious pseudopod? What about Harry Turtletaub? ## The Godzilla Trio (or Quartet) reminds me of the Nairobi Trio, of Ernie Kovacs fame. Or Raymond Scott's 1930s six-piece Ray Scott Quintet, the source of much of the "anonymous" background music in the old Warner Bros. cartoons. (WB cartoon music arranger Carl Stalling was a Ray Scott fan.) ## I believe that you are right about the theories about the "Indo- European language". ## Why shouldn't a well-designed modernistic house be both imaginatively artistic and comfortable? I first thought this about the House of the Future in Disneyland's Tomorrowland when the park first opened in 1955. The House was very futuristic and looked comfortable, except that it was little larger than a dollhouse (doubtlessly to hurry the crowds through it). I remember thinking at the time of the description of the tiny and flimsy futuristic homes in the real- estate trap of Belly Rave in Pohl & Kornbluth's Gladiator-At-Law which had just been published. The attractive Disneyland House of the Future would have been too small to be a comfortable home even for midgets. The most recent futuristic architecture (or do I mean interior design?) that I have admired has been Edna Mode's home in The Incredibles. (For what it's worth, I loved the architectural descriptions of the homes hidden on Krakatoa in William Pène du Bois' The Twenty-One Balloons, and wished that he had described all of the houses.)
Startling Stories - (Cantor) I originally planned to leave my entire collection to the LASFS Library, too. Then I learned that the LASFS Library did not want most of it, even the s-f books. This was mostly due to practical considerations, but I still ended up feeling that by donating my s-f books to the LASFS I would be basically throwing most of them away. There is an obvious reason for you to give your books to Robbie, but I hope that she will consider seriously what arrangement she will make for them when she no longer wants them. (The Merril Collection in Toronto?)
De Jueves #1441 - (Moffatt) It is about time for me to receive a new jury duty summons, which I presume will be forwarded from my old address. Lee Gold, if you receive it as a result of having my mail sent to your address, and you want to fill it out for me as disqualified for medical reasons, please go ahead. ## I am afraid that Gilly Gopher is supposed to represent a Typical Liberal. To be fair, Liberals are not the only Brainless Jerks to appear in Nip and Tuck, although Hayes' example of a Conservative Brainless Jerk is so Neanderthaloid as to make the Scraggs in Li'l Abner look like college professors by comparison. Yes, Zelda is a porcupine. ## "Brusha, brusha, brusha!" I remember Ipana from the '50s, from the Bucky Beaver toothpaste animated commercials on The Mickey Mouse Club. ## Utopia and Erewhon are both imaginary countries created by English authors as settings for didactic descriptions of where civilization should or should not evolve towards. Both have appeared in atlases of famous imaginary lands along with Lilliput and others. ## Speaking of "frozen in the headlights", Scott Kellogg's 21st Century Fox Internet comic strip has just finished a long story sequence about terrorist John Walker Bambi of the First Church of Disney with an appropriate conclusion. ("It's a world of terror, A world of fears; It's a world of horror, And a veil of tears! In our fear, we must trust Someone else to think for us; It's a cult world after all!" "Praise Walt and pass the ammunition!" "In Disneyland I'll make my stand To live and die for Disney ..."). See the strips for March 2 and 18 for the terrorists' goals "of bankrupting our corrupt civilization by destroying our economy so that everyone could live peacefully together in the beautiful forests again", and for July 25 and 27 for the headlights climax. (See also the recent strip of August 22, which is after this story sequence, for a rare example of taking advantage of the Internet to add animation in a comic strip.)
Merrie Maladies #23 - (Castora) Apa L covers by you might not be as pretty as some, but they would doubtlessly be more pertinent. Let's see some. ## S-f like Rocket Ship Galileo and similar Pointing With Alarm mainstream fiction about hidden Nazis creating a Fourth Reich and springing out of secret bases to conquer the complacent Allies were common from just after the War until about 1950. I have forgotten the titles and authors of all except Rocket Ship Galileo, and that would probably be forgotten today if it were not by Heinlein. I understand that while it was published in 1947, it was written during 1945 when the concept of Nazi extremists going underground to create a secret base was still reasonable. But even by 1950 when Destination Moon was released, the ideas of hidden Nazis and corporate-sponsored spacecraft were too far from what was going on in the world to be plausible. ## I am pretty sure I remember Ed Baker delivering a Treasurer's Report in Esperanto. He certainly kept the Treasury records in Esperanto. I have a clearer memory of him giving a report that was an impromptu translation of his own Esperanto notes into English, and being ordered to prepare a complete report in English in advance in the future to save time. ## Even Mel Blanc's critics who accuse him of exaggerating his accomplishments and importance agree that he was a fabulous comedian and a major pioneer of radio and animation humor. Whether establishing the personalities of the Warner Bros. and other animation stars like Woody Woodpecker was his idea or he just created them under the guidance of the cartoons' writers and voice directors (consider the difference in Daffy Duck's personality in the cartoons before and after Bob Clampett left WB), it is impossible to think of them today without the voices that he developed for them. ## Blanc's son Noel was basically forced by Mel to become a voice actor to carry on the family tradition, and got out of it as soon after Mel's death as he could. He really is a good actor, but not as good as Mel; presumably he got tired of being unfavorably compared to his father. He also had his own successful non-acting business career by the time of Mel's death which he did not want to give up. ## Cola is a generic flavor and there are or have been many brands of cola besides Coke: Pepsi, Royal Crown, Shasta, etc. So I see no reason why stores that sell concentrated soft drink syrups in other flavors should not have a cola syrup as well, without having to counterfeit or impersonate a Coca-Cola syrup.
Vanamonde #641 - (Hertz) To quote one website: "Fractional Currency notes, of which there were 24 distinctly different varieties, were issued from August 21, 1862 through February 15, 1876. These notes were authorized during the early years of the Civil War to alleviate the critical trade conditions caused by a serious shortage of coins." The shortage was caused by the hoarding of silver and gold during the Civil War, and the diversion of copper to make weaponry. By the end of the 1870s, due largely to expanded silver mining in the West after the War, there was once again enough small change in circulation that paper small change was no longer necessary. I suppose you could say that printing paper money was cheaper than minting coins during that period. ## So Simeon (II) Saxe-Coburg is no longer Prime Minister of Bulgaria? The "Republic of Bulgaria Council of Ministers Prime Minister" webpage had a photograph of him as Prime Minister dated February 2005 when I wrote my comment two weeks ago. I see that it is now blank except for a UNDER CONSTRUCTION caption; being updated, no doubt. I should have checked just the "Republic of Bulgaria Council of Ministers" webpage, which has already been updated to show that Sergei Stanishev is currently the Prime Minister (http://www.government.bg/English/ versus http://www.government.bg/English/PrimeMinister/Biography/).
Fish Out of Water #133 - (Helgesen) Making a cell phone call from an airplane in the mid-Atlantic is nothing compared to making a call to a spaceship orbiting Sirius, in the beautifully romantic but hardly technologically plausible one-man anime production Voices of a Distant Star, by Makoto Shinkai. The story is set in 2047, and is faithful as to how long it would take cell phone electronic messages to cross such interstellar distances, but ignores how powerful electronic signals would have to become to cross the distance (see my review) or what would be the point of making phone calls that take eight years to arrive. (But It's A Beautiful Romance...)
Long Time, No C #33 - (Zeff) Yes. I was going to suggest that you publish your synopsis in Apa L to get our suggestions for condensing it further; but if it is still 5+ pages, it is probably too long for our attention spans. Maybe in smaller chunks..? ## Thanks for the correction on Harry Potter's birthday. I am not one of those who reread all the previous novels to refresh my memory to all the details before reading The Half-Blood Prince. ## Thanks for the Ozy and Millie strip. Too bad the Apa L deadline cut you off from printing the funnier next day's strip instead, where Millie regrets being unable to find a school notebook cover showing a nuclear cloud covering Utah.
Vampires & The Art Of Magic - (Gold) Have you seen the news reports that many of the viewers of March of the Penguins are dismissing it as a Computer Graphic film like Ice Age (just more realistic) rather than as a documentary filmed on location? This reminds me of the Dwarfs who are determined to not be fooled in Lewis' The Last Battle, and the people who believe that the Apollo Lunar landing was faked on some Hollywood sound stage. ## I agree that Occam's Razor is an admonition to accept what is most likely, but not to the extent of refusing to investigate whether this could be an exception. It is not meant to be taken as a scientific principle that the simplest explanation is always the correct one. ## See my comment above to Phil Castora about Ed Baker's Treasurer's reports in Esperanto. These should be covered in the Menace of the LASFS for the appropriate period. Are any in the LASFS' archives? I had a complete (I think) set, which should be in UCRiverside's Eaton Collection now.
MS Found in A(nother) Klein Bottle #26 - (Shapero) I would not mind at all if my webpage ends up on HareLink. Mark Ashworth in Rowrbrazzle is working on getting me an entry on Wikipedia. ## I currently have as much fiction as I can handle in my hospital room, thanks to Tom Locke and the Moffatts each bringing me two or more books each week. I am currently reading Harry Turtledove's Homeward Bound, loaned by Locke. As soon as I get time for any other books, I will ask you or some other LASFan to start checking out the Lawrence Watt-Evans books from the LASFS Library for me, or to loan them to me from your own collections if the LASFS Library does not have them. (Maybe it should, but does it?)
Oh, All Right!!! - (Lembke) Thanks for the date when the Los Angeles Times' article on the LASFS is supposed to appear. This will save me from having to ask every week if it has been published yet.