Thursday, May 16, 2013
Improvising with music, improvising with words…
O: So what are you really interested in?
W: People. I like people. I like to talk.
O: Talk about what?
W: I'm a generalist. Any topic. I like to shape talk. Jazz musicians improvise with music. I like to improvise with words. Play with different juxtapositions. I even feel confident that it’s something I can do. But what do YOU like to talk about?
O. Same. Everything. I do general. But sometimes I wonder if I don't focus enough.
W: The gamut is good. You become a person with broad interests. Doesn’t that make you feel good?
O: Do you have this feeling that we are actually interviewing each other on the same subject?
Usually interviews run a Q-A-Q-A-Q-A pattern. This one is a little different. It’s closer to Q-AQ-AQ-AQ. They are interviewing each other.
Second, the questions lead to self-introspection and self-divulgence.
A third feature is that the interviewers are mutually supportive and make each feel good about themselves. This develops into a comfortable conversation. It also leads to greater self-confidence.
And on to a successful exchange.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
|Tango by Alvaro Castagnet|
She: Talking to you is like dancing.
He: Meaning you have to watch out I don’t step on your toes?
She: No, we both seem to hear the rhythm then move together.
He: Doesn’t everyone give and take in conversation?
She: Not everyone by a long shot. Some people don’t pick up on signals. Others have no timing. Some can’t mirror. Some only compete, they don’t cooperate.
A lot of talk is instrumental. Business talk. Getting things done. Production and sales.
And some talk is for fun. To charm. To entertain. Like dance.
But conversation isn’t all about showiness on the dance floor.The virtuosos can dazzle with their pirouettes, prances, pas de deux. Their spins, twirls, and leaps. Their frolics, quivers, and jiggles.
Virtuosos, divas, prima donnas.
But it takes two to tango.
Friday, May 3, 2013
A metachat between a human and a chatbot
Human: Want to talk about scaling language performance?
ChatBot: A scaled language test? Like on a LIkert scale?
Human: Where 0 = no proficiency and the top level…
ChatBot: …means something like educated native speaker proficiency?
ChatBot: Of course. You can be a native speaker, but “educated” implies that the speaker can discuss abstract ideas, make analogies, tell stories, joust with jokes, engage with elegance.
Human: As you are?
ChatBot: Not to be self-deprecating, but I am still learning.
A self-deprecating chatbot? THAT would be something else, we haven’t seen it yet, but it could be just around the corner.
And then we could say the chatbot is someone I might choose to chat at length with. And not feel it was only half listening to me. Which is what happens in half of human-to-human discourse, of course.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
White Rabbit is travelling.
He seeks to be real.
A guru he passes on a tortoise advises him to add “The Velveteen Rabbit”
by Margery Williams to his list of references.
And to note that “becoming real doesn’t happen easily to people who break easily or who have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept.”
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Dr Eric Danell summarises what is needed to protect endangered orchids.
Q: How do we go about implementing procedures for protecting endangered orchids?
ED: Five things are needed.
We need national parks.
We need good laws and law enforcement.
We need to fight poverty.
We need a good education system so everybody in society is aware of their native flora and fauna.
And we need responsible orchid collectors.
Dr Eric Danell is working in Northern Thailand to foster awareness of the native flora and fauna among both Thais and overseas visitors. His knowledge is encyclopedic and his explanations clearly lay out biological processes and what needs to be done to protect our heritage. His work is important not only in his local area but is a global issue affecting life on Earth.
See Endangered Orchids, 2013 at
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Critic: Not quite how we see her in screen roles. But an honest portrayal?
Portraitist: Lloyd did a good job. He said he struggled with the face.
Critic: As well he might. Maggie Smith has a famous gaze. Glaring, she challenges. Unblinking she devastates.
Portraitist: I think what she does with her mouth is equally important. She smiles wryly in irony, purses her lips in disapproval, and squeezes her lips shut in repressing criticism.
There are about 40 muscles in the human face. We use them to project emotions such as happiness, sadness, surprise, dislike, fear, and anger. Part of Maggie Smith’s talent lies in her control of those eye muscles and lip muscles. The difficulty for a portrait artist is to capture one expression to suggest the sitter’s whole expressive repertoire.