Posts Tagged ‘Asimov’

Letter From New York 06 23 15 Of Confederate Flags and Media moves…

June 23, 2015

I am sitting in an office in New York that I use once in a while. Outside there are streams of sunlight bouncing off the building across the street but my weather app has warned that severe thunderstorms have a strong chance of occurring this afternoon.

This will likely be a pretty short Letter as I am due at a reception being held by the Producer’s Guild here in New York for East Coast members and I’m heading there in a few minutes. It has been a bit of a solitary day as everyone in Todd’s office is out on a shoot and I’m the only one around so I’ve had the run of the place. Have had a couple of conference calls today but no real interpersonal reactions except for the doorman and the newsvendor.

There has been a fair amount of media news today.

Changes are starting to happen at 21st Century Fox as the company prepares for Rupert Murdoch to give way to his son James. David Hill, a major executive there, is leaving to form a production company, standard procedure in Hollywood when you are being exited from a big job.

Verizon has completed its purchase of AOL and my friend who works there will now receive a discount on his phone service as well as a small rebate on Verizon Fios plus a tablet. Now for the integration…

I spent some time today researching environmental issues out of curiosity after a friend sent me a response to one of my Letters. I have more of that to do tomorrow.

James Horner, who was an Academy Award winning composer, died yesterday in a small plane crash near Santa Barbara. He composed the music for “Titanic,” “Braveheart,” “Avatar” and many others.

Dick Van Patten, a Hollywood child star who grew up to play the beloved dad in “Eight is Enough” passed away. He also starred on “The Love Boat.” He always seemed a decent fellow.

Everyone involved in the Greek Debt Crisis is, of course, scrambling to avoid default at the end of the month. The Greeks put forward a plan that “needs work” according to Angela Merkel but there might be something here they could work with…

Amazon has decided it will no longer sell Confederate Flags as have some other retailers and Governors in three Southern states are working to remove the Confederate flag from their states’ license plates following the Charleston shootings.

I have a fondness for robots, at least conceptually, since I read Asimov’s “I Robot” years ago. Yesterday, a thousand robots were offered for sale at about $1600 in Japan and sold out in less than a minute. They are designed to be emotional companions.

My emotional companionship will come from attending the PGA reception so I must close and be off.

Have a good evening.

Letter From New York 04 22 15 From robotics to singing in the rain…

April 22, 2015

Last night, on a balmy New York spring night, I went at 5:00 to Junior’s Deli on 45th Street in the heart of New York’s theater district and met Cathy, my middle niece, her husband and their two daughters, Clare and Isabel, for a pre-theater dinner. They were off to see “Matilda” and I was off to see “It’s Only A Play.”

Cathy and Michael live in Portland and my brother is there watching after their two sons who had just accompanied he and his wife to Machu Picchu. I don’t get to see Cathy and her family very often so it was a cheery visit and then we went off to our respective performances.

Amazingly, after the performance, as I threaded my way through a hideously congested Times Square, I ran into them on the corner of 44th and Broadway. We laughed and hugged and then moved on.

I curled up in bed and started to read a Peter Wimsey mystery but soon feel asleep, Kindle in hand, only to wake later to turn out the lights.

This morning I had breakfast with David McKillop, who recently stepped down as GM of A&E and stepped into the role of Chief Creative Officer at a new production company called Propagate, which is being funded by A&E. He’s partnered with Howard Owens who used to run Nat Geo.

It was a glorious spring morning and we walked around Union Square for a while after breakfast, strolling past all the vendors that form the Union Square Farmer’s Market, then walked over to 7th Avenue where we parted. He off to a meeting and me to day of talks called “Imagination,” being held in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival.

The morning was devoted to robotics. While Elon Musk is terrified of intelligent machines, all these speakers were gung-ho enthusiasts of artificial intelligence and robots, as long as every one followed Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics.

It was fascinating. The demonstration of Watson, IBM’s Supercomputer, was impressive. The video they showed reminded me of “Star Trek.”

Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, spoke in the afternoon about the technology advances they are making in serving ads and video content to their 250,000,000 users and that was impressive, too.

After the 3-D printing talk “Eating Your Way Into 3D Printing” I had to leave to go view a cut of a sizzle reel my friend Todd’s company is working on.

While I was involved in all these fun and rather joyful activities, the world ticked on.

Yesterday the Saudis said they’d stop bombing Yemen but this morning bombs were still falling there, with the country lurching toward a humanitarian crisis as supplies are floating out at sea because of the Saudi embargo.

When I was in India there was lots of news about a land development law that the Modi government is attempting to pass. It would ease the government’s ability to expropriate land belonging to farmers for other uses. It is hugely controversial and hotly debated and stridently opposed by the Congress Party, the opposition to Modi’s BJP.

Today there was a rally in Delhi protesting the bill. At it, an Indian farmer committed suicide, hanging himself from a tree. He left behind a suicide note saying the recent extraordinary rains and hailstorms had ruined him. Rahul Gandhi raced to the hospital and the PM, Modi, is said to be “shattered” by the incident but probably not so much that he will withdraw the law.

Britain, which is facing elections on May 7th, is working overtime to figure out what is going to happen if the Tories lose. If the Scots become the power brokers in the formation of a new government, there is a concern about the results. “Constitutional crisis” is on the lips of a few.

Thousands of Ethiopians have taken to the streets to march in protest against IS’s killing of thirty of their countrymen for being Christian.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan paid slight attention to Japan’s wartime responsibility in a speech in Jakarta, which raised the ire of Japan’s neighbors but not so much that Xi of China wouldn’t meet with Abe. The two had a thirty-minute meeting and stressed their determination to continue working on their relationship. It almost sounded like an estranged couple continuing their therapy sessions.

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis would stop in Cuba while en route to the US for his visit here. Cuba will probably go mad for the Pontiff.

The bright spring morning turned to afternoon clouds and rain, which has now stopped though the grey continues. I am off to dinner tonight with my friends David and Annette Fox, celebrating my return from India with take out from Indus Valley, our favorite neighborhood Indian restaurant. Will be a good time.