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Old Film, Transformed

Two cities, each on the other side of the world, captured on old film which has been digitized, colorized, and upscaled using neural networks to 4k and 60 frames/second.

Tokyo 1913 – 1915
New York City 1911

Some of the technical details about what Denis Shiryaev, a YouTuber known for restoring vintage videos does to achieve his magic:

4k upscale – Each frame can be upscaled using specifically-targeted data that perfectly aligns with your footage. Our neural network will “redraw” the missing data and increase the frame resolution 4x or more.

FPS boosting – A neural network trained via slow-mo movies will artificially generate additional frames for your footage. Even 14 fps films can easily be boosted to 60 fps.

Denis also ran his algorithms across the famous Trip down Market Street film (recorded just days before the 1906 earthquake). As he narrates, over the course of half a month, he upscaled the origianl and transformed it into a 50,000 frame, 380 gb file, using the algorithms to fill in information that was not captured in the original.

More examples of his work and services at https://neural.love/

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Current Events

Nike – Can’t Stop Us

My kids are sick of me showing them Nike’s latest commercial which was just released this morning and already has almost 5 million views on YouTube and over 50k retweets on Twitter.

It’s just so good.

Not only does Nike tap into the deep longing we all have to get back together and enjoy sports, it also cleverly brings together two sides of our divided world into a message of unity. The message is that unity brings strength with the underlying theme being that we need to work together to fight the challenges we face.

The campaign is for a Nike’s membership and is by Wieden + Kennedy, the Portland agency that does all of Nike’s commercials. More details here.

Earlier spots in the series include LeBron narrating Play for the World

Play for the World

and the iconic, For once, Don’t Do It

For once, Don’t Do It
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Context

An on-going collection of layout blunders. If you have some to add, link them in the comments.

Contextual targeting a bit on point.
The photo editor is just having fun
Real Estate Irony
When the crime and lifestyle desk don’t talk to each other
Absolutely placed their on purpose

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Current Events

Our New Future

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Current Events

Masked

City council meetings give us a glimpse into the soft underbelly of the American democracy. I remember having to sit through a Pennington, NJ neighbor debate at length with a Verizon representative who wanted to place a cell tower on top of the local firehouse. “Make it a ziggurat,” he said to the perplexed Verizon rep as I walked out the door.

Streaming video technology has opened the proceedings to the rest of the world. What used to be only open to those attending in person is now available for everyone to see. And mock.

Which brings me to Provo, Utah where they recently held a meeting to go over the state’s mandate that everyone at school must wear a mask.

Utah meeting on masks is canceled when residents without masks pack room

“A public meeting in Utah about a mask policy for schoolchildren was abruptly adjourned when people without masks packed the room.” This is how the NBC news report started out. If you watch the video above, the County Commissioner of Provo, Utah opened the meeting with, “This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing,” and was met with a chorus of boos from the packed gallery.

“Science should not stand in the way”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

This the where we are today in America. The rest of the world is on the other side of the curve, they worked together, looked out for their fellow citizens, wore their masks and are now on the road to recovery.

They are winning while we’re still arguing over the rules.

Italy, remember how bad it was there? Just 230 cases yesterday. Here in the US, we are setting new records with over 70,000 new cases today and convoys of refrigerated trailers are making their way to Arizona and Texas hotspots to serve as mobile morgues for the anticipated surge in deaths.

Yet people insist on their freedom of choice.

No one wants free masks in Huntington Beach
Bummed out tourist

Meanwhile, as people try to take their attitudes elsewhere, they are being dealt harshly. Americans are blocked entry into many European countries, and Hawaii has strict rules demanding quarantine for any arrivals from outside the islands. Check out the tourist from Utah who has to spend his Kauai vacation behind bars because he didn’t think the 14-day quarantine applied to him. Boy does he look bummed.

Like Tom Hanks says – it’s simple – “do your part, we’re all in this together.” Wear a mask for the your house, your work, your town, and society as a whole.”

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Death as Art

These are the times we live in. Artist James Beckwith plotted each death from January thru June along a timeline, on a map and set it to music, “each country is represented by a tone and an expanding blip on the map when a death from Covid-19 is recorded” says Beckwith on his YouTube page.

This work was emotionally a difficult piece to write and may be upsetting to some people. I created it to highlight the terrifying spread of this virus and to try and understand how frightening its exponential growth has been. There seems to be something much more real and chilling about these numbers when you hear them, as well as seeing them.

James Beckwith

Beckwith took his inspiration from an earlier piece by the Japanese artist (and former foreign exchange dealer) Isao Hashimoto who created 1945-1998 an audio/visual representation of nuclear proliferation which you can see below.

“1945-1998”
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Current Events

Deep Fake Chaff

There’s a thing called chaff that fighter aircraft use as a counter-measure against radar. It’s basically strips of aluminum foil which, when deployed in a cloud behind a plane as flies through the air, confusing the enemy radar with multiple targets.

I think of chaff when I think of how a Boston University team has figured out how to add invisible visual noise to images to throw off Deep Fake algorithms. Clever!

Source images on top row, distorted images below

The BU team’s algorithm allows users to protect media before uploading it to the internet by overlaying an image or video with an imperceptible filter. When a manipulator uses a deep neural network to try to alter an image or video protected by the BU-developed algorithm, the media is either left unchanged or completely distorted, the pixels rendering in such a way that the media becomes unrecognizable and unusable as a deepfake.

Protective Filter Defends Images and Video against Deepfake Manipulation
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Current Events

Europe puts up a wall

The headline said, Alabama students throwing ‘COVID parties’ to see who gets infected but the reality is so much worse. It was a contest – they would invite someone they knew tested positive and threw parties as some sort of dare. And they did it multiple times.

They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot.

This is why the European Union has put a ban on travelers from the United States. No country that’s trying to get a handle on the pandemic is going to risk the possibility of letting one of these wing-nuts in.

Which brings me to the now infamous Palm Beach city council meeting. The meeting went on for hours to make time public comment about a mask-wearing ordinance and provided many choice highlights of unique American craziness. Thankfully the City Council voted 7-0 in favor of requiring masks to be worn in public but the public debate was as ugly as it was ridiculous.

This is how democracy works in America, you open things up in an effort to be transparent and listen to the concerns of your citizens and constituents and the only people that show up are those that have enough time on their hands to fall into YouTube and Reddit rabbit holes and wait for hours for their 2 minutes at the mic. The great American Experiment has gone off the rails. The Dream is a nightmare. We have become a parody of ourselves.

Heh, Tyler passed this on to me – I’m not the only one who’s made the connection.

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Current Events

Dock Ellis and the LSD No-Hitter

On June 12th, 1970 Dock Ellis, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates threw a no hitter against San Diego – while high on LSD. The story has so many twists and turns that make it even more incredible including one tidbit I only learned about later – Dock woke up the next day and didn’t even recall he pitched or threw a no-hitter.

“I’m as high as a Georgia pine,” Ellis said.

Dock Ellis’s no-hitter on LSD, 50 years on

Would you believe some yarn from a puckish ball player who claimed he “couldn’t pitch without pills” and was known to pull a leg or two (look up the curler incident)? Dunno. There is no footage of the game so any visual evidence has been lost to the sands of time. But it’s a great story and, as a comment on the YouTube video above notes that Dock’s entry in the box score would have been, “Ellis, D.”

Watch the video above to hear the story in his own words.

The story of the no-hitter was told by Ellis in an interview on NPR. That audio is used for the animation by cartoonist James Blagden above.

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Current Events

Little Big

Anybody who thinks that the Russians have no sense of humor has not seen Little Big, Russia’s entry in this year’s Eurovision contest.

With over 125M views, Little Big’s Uno video is the most watched video on the Eurovision channel. The annual contest was unfortunately cancelled this year due to the pandemic but there’s plenty more to see on the Eurovision YouTube channel.