Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

Suspended Animation….. now

Suspended Time  You have been involved in a severe accident. You are on the brink of death. Surgeons don’t have time to save your life – that should be it. Patients in Pittsburgh may find themselves the guinea pigs of a revolutionary experiment that involves replacing their blood with chilled salt water, a process that sounds more Sci-Fi than Sci-Fact

 

Medical researchers are experimenting with a process called induced hypothermia. The method involves draining a patient’s body of blood (if s/he hasn’t already lost a lot of it through injury) and pumping it with a chilled saline solution, so cooling it by more than 20C below the normal body temperature. It thus protects against the potential damage caused by blood or oxygen loss. The process places the patient in a state where s/he he is neither dead nor alive, buying surgeons time.

 

Once the injury is fixed, blood is pumped back through the veins, and the body is slowly warmed back up.

 

However, at the mention of the phrase, “suspended animation” one would likely think of Buck Rodgers, Aliens, (perhaps Austin Powers….) Though, if the process still sounds more Sci-Fi than Sci-Fact, it is about to begin medical trials in the USA on patients where no alternative exists. If all goes well, then scientists behind it hope to export the process globally.

 

 

Read the full article on the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140704-i-bring-the-dead-back-to-life

 

Image from: http://www.artpalestine.org/2011/03/taysir-batniji-suspended-time/

Taysir Batniji’s Suspended Time (2006)

July 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Science Fiction in Architecture and Design

Foundation-Building-by-Oscar-Niemeyer

I lifted this one from the blog of one of the best known Science Fiction Dark Fantasy authors around today, David J Rodger. Architecture has fascinated me for years and as time goes on, I see the cityscapes envisaged in Blade Runner and other Sci-Fi movies and William Gibson novels coming closer to reality. Architects have been building the skylines of the future, whether they are the high-tech concepts of Sir Norman Foster and others, or the concrete of the late Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. For me at least, there is something of a Frank Lloyd Wright influence in Niemeyer’s work, at least in his exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of reinforced concrete. Lloyd Wright is a favourite of mine, and not just for the Guggenheim in New York: Google the Fallingwater or Kaufmann Residence).

 

If you want to relax for a few minutes over the last hours of the weekend, see some photos of Niemeyer’s work: http://www.yellowtrace.com.au/brazilian-architect-oscar-niemeyer/

 

If you are interested in Science Fiction & Dark Fantasy, go to this link: http://davidjrodger.wordpress.com/

 

 

July 13, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Uber strike

uber   I’ve just returned to Madrid from a business trip to Barcelona, having suffered the chaos that is normally caused by a strike. This time it was taxi drivers who decided to strike; not over pay, but over an App called Uber.

 

Car sharing has existed for many years; many of us have done it, whether to cut down on fuel costs, or to do our bit for the environment. A point of thought and empathy (although not much given the day I’ve had) for taxi drivers is that Uber is far from a few colleagues looking to save money by car sharing or looking for somebody to give them a lift, and pay him the cost of the fuel. According to its website (www.uber.com), it now serves over 100 cities in nearly 37 countries. Uber has professionalised the car sharing business and is making a lot of money from it (latest valuation of the San Francisco based company is 17 billion US dollars). Behind the App are some high-profile backers. But is this really at a cost to taxis and is it really a bad thing? Are the users of Uber really regular taxi users? Or are they bus or train users who are looking for alternative and more comfortable means of getting from A to B? Taxi drivers are complaining of a drop in customer numbers; are there though other causes for this? As the economic crisis has kicked in, and as people have lost their jobs, have more taxi licences been handed out? A drop in revenues for taxi drivers may be due to more licences being given in an already tough environment, and admittedly falling passenger numbers.

 

Uber is viewed as unfair competition and a threat to taxi drivers. Others would view this as consumer choice, as innovation. But there is often a price to innovation: just as machines and mechanisation threatened and replaced people’s jobs during the industrial revolution, so it created opportunities for others. Innovation helps make things easier for us. Uber is a threat to taxi drivers, and a help to others. As consumers, we must decide whether we want more choice, or whether we want to protect existing industries. Do we blame digital print and online news for the decline of newspaper or paper book sales?

 

I had never heard of Uber before today, and this may present an ironic outcome to today’s strike: having seen that taxis were unavailable in Barcelona, I logged into Uber, to check it out. As luck would have it (for taxi drivers) I could not find an Uber car where I wanted it, but this will no doubt change. Maybe due to the pan-European strike, Uber would have experienced more users today, due to the fact that normally loyal taxi users, who were unable to find a taxi, decided to look for alternative means to get to their destination, and discovered Uber.

 

 

Image: http://www.uber.com

June 11, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Sarcastic drawings that make fun of our world

FB periscope  It is difficult not to appreciate the creativity involved in these images by Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski, whether or not one agrees with the messages behind them. Pawel specialises in thought-provoking images that question our everyday lives. In my exploration (often critical) of postmodern society, perhaps it is time to use the information available to us, rather than simply take everything at face value and accept it as true.

 

Link for more of Pawel’s images:

http://news.distractify.com/culture/satirical-paintings/?v=1

 

Pawel’s website:

http://www.pawelkuczynski.com/index.php

May 25, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

(Some) People Nowadays

People nowadays

May 11, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My internet went down for 5 minutes

My internet went down for 5 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postmodern family life for some?

May 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Google Translate

Here’s the deal: you have just got off the plane at a foreign destination, checked in to your hotel, you arrive to the restaurant, open the menu, and it’s all in a foreign language that you do not speak. You can either open up a chunky dictionary, and scan through until you find out the local translation of “chicken”, “vegetarian”, or “bangers and mash”, or you can break out your iPhone, go to Google translate, and search much quicker (and without the need of bringing the dictionary with you).

 

Google translate, the online translation that many (if not most) of us have used at some point, is celebrating its eighth Birthday. According to the company’s own blog

(http://googletranslate.blogspot.com.es/2012/04/breaking-down-language-barriersix-years.html), here are some stats:

 

-Google Translate has more than 200 million monthly active users on translate.google.com.

-More than 92 percent of their traffic comes from outside the USA, showing its global reach.

-Google’s service translates (more or less) as much text as that contained in one million books! Or as the company explains: what all the professional human translators in the world produce in a year, their system translates in a single day.

-The service is available in 80 languages, and working on new ones.

 

I remember a customer service manager who seriously considered using an online translation service to answer customer queries (reducing native speakers). Google translate, by the company’s own admission, is not for such “mission-critical translations”. Right now, in 2014, nothing quite beats a human being, a native speaker, to deliver a report, a web page, a business presentation, or an answer to a customer. However, if we are looking for help with our language studies for a word we cannot remember, if we are lost in Moscow, or Paris, Austria, or Basel, and we need a helping hand, raise a glass of local wine or beer for the folks who gave us Google translate (in the local language naturally).

 

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Lovers

Mobile Lovers  If, like me, you have strong connections to Bristol, you will be used to seeing the creative mind that is Banksy all round the city. In his latest piece, the artist captures a common postmodern image: A loving couple enjoying a romantic dinner for four (the two of them, plus their respective Smartphones).

 

Well done Banksy, once again.

 

 

 

 

Image: Mobile Lovers – Banksy

April 17, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Rebuilding Manhattan

Whenever I walk out of the terminal at JFK or Newark airports and see the familiar line of taxis, whenever I exit the Lincoln Tunnel and ark my neck up at the impossibly high architectural masterpieces that still cause me to awe, I know that I am back in Manhattan. It is as though NYC was built and designed to put on a show, not just on Broadway, but on an architectural, cosmopolitan, cultural, and urban level. Which leads me to an article I found on the BBC a while back: What if we could rebuild New York City?

 

The article posed that very question:  NYC has become one of the most intensely packed cities on the planet – 8 million inhabitants, skyscrapers building up, since the width and length don’t allow for any horizontal expansion, and around a zillion cars crammed into the wide roads. This of course is also part of NYC’s charm – and I personally wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

But let’s just imagine for one minute that we could rebuild it. How different would the new NYC be? How different would we want it to be? To keep the essential layout and feel of being in NYC, we would probably want to keep the street grid layout. The city would become instantly cleaner by factoring in smarter car use, giving priority to green vehicles and better, varied and more free-flowing public transportation, as well as vertical agriculture to line the streets. The new NYC would be intelligent, sensors built in to monitor every component of our lives in the new metropolis, from water and waste storage, consumption and recycling, to transport flows. NYC is already filled with millions of minds – the new city would allow for a greater interaction and connectivity between these minds. New and more self-sufficient living spaces would be built, each with independent renewable energy sources.

 

If this all sounds a little too hypothetical, New York is already trying. On my last visit, just over a year ago, I visited the High Line, a public park built on an old and abandoned rail track, elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. (see: http://www.thehighline.org/ ).

 

The BBC’s article provided more than a dream of what we-could-hypothetically-do,-but-would-never-be-able-to-in-the-real-world. Aside from the High Line, it was refreshing to see that there are a number of ideas of make the city greener, cleaner, and step it up to the challenges placed on a 21st century city. Among the ideas:

The Low Line – http://www.thelowline.org/ – An idea to use solar technology to illuminate a historic trolley terminal, creating an underground park, to providing respite from above.

Vision 42 – http://www.vision42.org/ – a citizens’ initiative to re-imagine and upgrade surface transit in Midtown Manhattan, with a low-floor light rail line running river-to-river along 42nd Street within a landscaped pedestrian street.

Million Trees NYC – http://www.milliontreesnyc.org/html/home/home.shtml

 

Some of these initiatives are only concepts. For now, I’ll still love my favourite city just as it is.

 

 

Original article: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140402-a-vision-of-new-york-in-2050

April 13, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Technology and evolution

Darth Tape

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment