Sunday, October 15, 2017

Triggers for altruism: Guido Verbeck

At a book signing…
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Guido Verbeck
Author: He did a lot of things: moved from Holland to America, became an engineer, resolved to become a missionary, moved to Japan, became a teacher, learned the language, established universities, became an advisor to the government; some of his students became prime ministers. He was a hard worker.
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Reader: I'm curious how Verbeck was motivated. Were there triggers in his life?
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Author: I'd say there is evidence for that. When he was an engineer in Arkansas he saw the effects of slavery, and he nearly died of cholera. He even said these things made him look for a more spiritual path.
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Reader: I liked your book. Would you sign my copy?
__________
Voice-over

Altruism, first proposed by Auguste Comte, is the doing good for the benefit of others without expectation of reciprocity. One reason is that the giver may feel some intrinsic satisfaction. But there may be other reasons. Verbeck moved from Holland to the United States and then to Japan. Becoming a missionary may have provided him with the means to explore a fascination with cultural exoticism. Whatever the reasons, he achieved much, did good works, and was fortunate in the students he taught.
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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Flower clock

A mechanical metaphor…
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Herbalist: Tokeisou (時計草). Clock flower.
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Botanist: You mean flower clock?
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Time to wake up...
Herbalist: A passiflora caruelea… it looks like a clock.
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Botanist: Sorry. I was thinking of Linnaeus. He used the term Horologium flora or “flower clock” to mean flowers that opened in the morning and closed the afternoon or evening.
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Herbalist: So you wouldn’t need a mechanical clock. Just go to the garden to know the time.
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Botanist: Not dependable though. Problems of season, weather, and animals that would eat the flowers.
________
Voice-over

Linnaeus proposed a garden of flowers that would tell time in his Philosophia Botanica. For example, Hawkweed (Hieracium umbellatum) that would open at 5 AM and close at 6 PM. White waterlily (Nymphaeum alba) that would open at 7 AM, Ice plant (Cryophytum nodiflorum) at 10 AM, Day lily (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus) that would close at 10 PM.
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Sunday, October 1, 2017

White - Rabbit Foot Fern- Rabbit

WHITE RABBIT WHITE RABBIT WHITE RABBIT
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Rabbit plant in a rabbit pot
A white rabbit pot holding an epiphytic rabbit foot fern, classified scientifically as Davallia fejeensis Named because its rhizomes resemble rabbits' feet
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Rabbit pot, rabbit plant.
Maybe October will bring double helpings of luck!
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WHITE RABBIT WHITE RABBIT WHITE RABBIT
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The rabbit foot fern pictured I’ve had for 26 years.
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Friday, September 29, 2017

Japanese Aesthetic Garden

At Korakuen in Tokyo…
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Sam Po: It’s a promenade garden, designed to be strolled through, the winding paths revealing something new around each corner.
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Aesthetic rice harvest
Vizzie Torr: It certainly surprises. Mountains in miniature, rivers, lakes, forests, teahouse, pavilion, and at the end, a rice field.
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Sam Po: Where they actually grow rice. Aesthetics combined with pragmatics.
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Vizzie Torr: Well, I’d have to say that the rice-growing is more for show than to take to the market.
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Sam Po: But all this in the heart of Tokyo, outside the wall are hotels, schools, a baseball dome, an amusement park.
___________
Voice-over

Korakuen checks a lot of boxes in evaluating a Japanese aesthetic garden: miniaturization, concealment, scenery-borrowing, asymmetry. Japanese parks to be strolled through show the best of nature in a limited space.
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Monday, September 25, 2017

Visual Vignettes from Incredible India

An attempt to capture a festival on film…
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Anil: Take any pictures?
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Tara: Four hundred photos. Forty footage clips. That’s after pre-editing and throwing out the failures.
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Anil: Is there a theme? Is there a message? Is there a story coming through?
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Tara: That’s the trouble. Shooting randomly at a festival. Lots of tiny vignettes but no story running though them all. And not many audible comments.
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Anil: It was an Indian festival. In Tokyo. Multiculturalism?
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Tara: Indian dances with Japanese dancers. Food, culture, music, people. And parrots. A lot of fun.
___________
Voice-over

Festivals may seem rich seams for filming. Leaving aside the difficulties of shooting in crowds, the blurs, the interrupted shots, it is possible to create short stories told in images and short takes. A series of visual vignettes.
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Film editors need librarian skills

The film editor shares her organizational insight…
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Amanda: There are a couple of things that slow up film editing workflow. One is having total familiarity with the editing software. Example: you waste a lot of time going looking for the voice-over option on the menu. Or how to change the color on a text font.
Amanda Fix
Whitmore College
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Intern: So you need to have it down pat.
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Amanda: It’s got to be second nature.
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Intern: And the other thing?
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Amanda: A consistent filing system for all the footage and stills in the Library.
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Intern: A classificatory system like Dewey?
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Amanda: Known to the editor and his or her assistants. Date, time, place, subject. Unvarying.
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Voice-over
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Editing, for all the art in it, also benefits from the skills librarians have. Such as knowing where to go in the library and being able to immediately pull a book from the stacks. Maybe that’s why the place where footage and stills are kept is actually called “the Library”.
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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Storyboarding on Whiteboard and PowerPoint

A documentary film director explains story generation…
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Intern: How do you draft your story?
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tabula rasa beginning
Documentarian: Two ways: first I scribble the plan on a big white board using words and arrows in different colors.
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Intern: Brainstorming?
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Documentarian: Stream of consciousness more like. I like to stand, walk around, I like the space of the white board to write on. A strong coffee, like Nespresso’s Kazaar, helps.
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Intern: It’s then refined?
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Documentarian: Here’s where I go from to analog to digital. When I’ve got the flow, I open PowerPoint and start pulling in pictures. One slide, one picture. Photos, sketches, diagrams.
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Intern: No words?
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Documentarian: The narrative goes in the comments window at the bottom of each slide.
___________
Voice-over

A visual conceptualizer evidently. The process has merit. A PowerPoint plan can be saved as a movie to be played as a pitch for the project. It could even be used to base the film trailer on.
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