May he come: It doesn’t matter how
Santa comes from far away, from the time he was Greek and his name was St. Nicholas, and lived in a city that ended up in Turkey, until he reached Europe at the time of Christianization of Germanic tribes, which much later would bequeath the trees decorated with garlands, as well as the plump and… Read…
A phone call to your brother in North Korea, or the parable of Lilliput
North Korea is shut to the outside world. No Internet or phone lines connect its ordinary citizens to the outside world. They don’t know how people live outside, how are their houses, how they dress or what they eat. Unauthorized contacts can earn you harsh prison sentences, or worse. That’s why one secret phone call… Read…
Grey Lady Learns New Language
I just tested The New York Times virtual reality app. In a refreshing change, the test was more about expression than technology. The experience says more about the future of virtual reality than any technical review. The app uses Google Cardboard, which the Times sent to my doorstep free of charge for being an online… Read…
The growing popularity of slow photography
After attaining glory, Cartier Bresson abandoned photography for finding it too mechanical. Yet cellphones have turned all of us into amateurs. And very often, as we can see in social media, virtuous ones: it goes on to prove that quality is a function of quantity. Yet it’s true that mechanization has sped things up unnaturally.… Read…
Would you give your robot the car keys?
Google is upset that California requires all driverless cars to have a licensed driver behind the wheels at all times. Is automation being pushed too far? It’s not the fear of robots run amok and taking control of the universe, even though scientists are pondering about creating “good robots” (hint: those that won’t take away… Read…
The fascination with Star Wars
As anticipation builds up on the eve of a new Star Wars release, it’s worth pausing to think why epic movies fascinate us. Aristotle explained in his Poetics that in epics characters were more heroic or more evil than in actual life and waged battles on a gigantic scale and with such logical contradictions that… Read…
Teddy Roosevelt famously detested Churchill, which mystified the latter. Yet Teddy’s daughter explained it: they were so much alike. It’s worth wondering if it’s the same with Elon Musk and what he feels for Steve Jobs, a regular newsmaker long after his death. Even, oddly, for the Syrian refugee crisis: Jobs’ biological father was a… Read…
Cold people in a hot world
What will people think about the Paris pact on climate change, say a millennium later? Its preamble is loaded with references to mankind. We, the talking species that is harming the planet, should remember those without a voice: animals own Earth, too, even if they don’t talk.