The Null Device
A church in West Sussex has removed a large crucifix on the grounds that it was "a horrifying depiction of pain and suffering" which was also "putting people off". St. John's Church in Broadbridge Heath will replace the sculpture of a suffering Christ on the cross with an appropriately sanitised and inoffensive depiction of the ancient Roman torture/execution implement rendered in stainless steel, much like an Ikea saucepan.
The latest computer science research being funded by the US military includes a bot that will impersonate parents in the service and talk to their children when they're off fighting wars:
The challenge is to design an application that would would allow a child to receive comfort from being able to have simple, virtual conversations with a parent who is not aivailable "in-person". We are looking for innovative applications that explore and harness the power of “advanced” interactive multimedia computer technologies to produce compelling interactive dialogue between a Service member and their families via a pc- or web-based application using video footage or high-resolution 3-D rendering. The child should be able to have a simulated conversation with a parent about generic, everyday topics. For instance, a child may get a response from saying "I love you", or "I miss you", or "Good night mommy/daddy." This is a technologically challenging application because it relies on the ability to have convincing voice-recognition, artificial intelligence, and the ability to easily and inexpensively develop a customized application tailored to a specific parent.
(via Boing Boing)
In the wake of the latest report of the imminent death of Morris dancing, an activity many people undoubtedly imagine to be the alpha and omega of odd English folk dances, the Graun has an article setting the record straight, by listing five even more peculiar-looking (and thus undoubtedly more imperilled) traditional folk dances, complete with YouTube video:
Despite the misleading name, longsword dancing does not involve the use of actual swords. Rather, each dancer holds a length of steel or wood by the handle in their right hand, and grips the point of their neighbour's "sword" in their left. Linked together, they form circles and dance over and under their makeshift swords, flowing through brisk and orderly figures and steps. The centrepiece of the dance is the star-shaped formation made by the circle-weaving and the locking of swords high in the air.From the video, longsword dancing resembles one of the dances in The Wicker Man, though is from Yorkshire, rather than the Scottish islands.
And then there's Molly dancing, which appears to be almost like a Victorian folky version of A Clockwork Orange. Could an updated Molly dancing be the next Gypsy-punk?
This type of dance was performed mainly by agricultural labourers in East Anglia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Disguised with blackened faces and sporting women's clothing, Molly dancers roamed the streets, dancing in exchange for money to supplement their meagre wages. They were often destructive, drunk and disreputable, and social reforms led to the custom dying out in the 1940s. In the 1980s and 90s, young people from the south-east rediscovered and reinvented the tradition from the few scraps of information that had been preserved.