This month marks Dante‘s 750th birthday. In an essay for the New Yorker John Kleiner considers what the poet means to Italy, from the middle schools where his poetry is taught to pre-teens to televised readings of the Paradiso in space.
Writing in the London Review of Books (Reg. Req.), Evgeny Morozov clued me onto how "scientists at UCLA – with funding from the Chinese government – have built an ‘image to text’ system that automatically produces text summaries of what is taking place in captured video." A similar technology was also developed by NYU student Matt Richardson, whose "descriptive camera" can "automatically describe the scene in a camera's viewfinder, which, when the image was uploaded, would make it easier to find." Meanwhile one Twitter is describing typical Instagram shots in 140 characters or fewer.
“If you’re doing an assignment for some Luddite professor who insists on originality – and probably uses typewriter ribbon – keep in mind that I only offer phrases from hard-to-trace sources. Just today I was slipped some primo stuff from an English teacher in Simonton, Iowa who’s been advising the high school literary magazine for decades. This woman, her voice is as smooth as creamed corn.” Confessions of a metaphor merchant.
While East Coasters are still dealing with the wrath of Hurricane Irene, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passed yesterday. NPR has a timely interview with host Michel Martin, musician Irvin Mayfield and Keith Spera, author of Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal and the Music of New Orleans. Likewise, Rivka Galchen's 2009 Harper's essay "Disaster Aversion" bears re-reading.