Sunday, August 31, 2014

Notable robots from science-fiction movies and TV shows

Of the 30 robots so far inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame, 14 are fictional robots from science-fiction movies and TV shows.
They include R2-D2 and C-3PO from “Star Wars”; HAL 9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey”; Astro Boy from the Japanese series; Robbie the Robot from “Forbidden Planet”; David from “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”; Gort from “The Day the Earth Stood Still”; Maria from “Metropolis”; Lt. Comdr. Data from “Star Trek”; Dewey, Huey and Louie from “Silent Running”; Terminator T-800 from “The Terminator”; Wall-E from the Disney Pixar movie of the same name.
But there are many more notable robots who deserve to be inducted. I agree with IT World writer Christopher Nerney who argued that Robot B-9 from the “Lost in Space” TV series needs to be included pronto.
Here are some lists of famous fictional robots:

21 Hotshot Movie Robots (Entertainment Weekly; Feb. 13, 2014)

Guillermo del Toro: My 10 Favorite Robots (Entertainment Weekly; July 29, 2013)

Top 10 Favorite Film Robots (Geek Tyrant; June 2014)

Photo: “Synthespians. Robots. Cyborgs. Holograms. Computers” by artist Scott Park. You can buy a print of this artwork at

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Robot Hall of Fame hits another rough patch

Every two years, the Robot Hall of Fame chooses a new class of inductees. And as with recent induction years, the virtual hall of fame is having trouble getting its act together.
I recently corresponded via email with Shirley Saldamarco, a faculty member with the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center, who is involved with the Robot Hall of Fame.
“To paraphrase our past president, here we go again,” she said on Aug. 22. “Although the RHoF is still around, we are struggling.”
This year’s class of inductees is in a “holding pattern” because of finances and a leadership change at the CMU School of Computer Science, which created and oversees the Robot Hall of Fame, she said.
“I feel cautiously optimistic that we will continue,” Saldamarco said.
It’s a shame that the Robot Hall of Fame doesn’t get more corporate sponsorship. It’s a great way to honor robots from science and industry that have helped mankind and fictional robots that have inspired future engineers and scientists.

iRobot’s PackBot military robot, inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2012 (top); 
Robby the Robot from the 1956 sci-fi movie “Forbidden Planet” and as seen at the Roboworld exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, inducted in 2004. 


Robot Hall of Fame page on Wikipedia.

Robot Hall of Fame page at Carnegie Mellon University.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Women who deserve to be in the Bikinis Hall of Fame

The other day I expressed my disappointment that the Bikinis Hall of Fame is really more about celebrating large breasted celebrities than honoring the pop culture significance of the bikini bathing suit.
Last year, the Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill chain made actress-dancer Carmen Electra the first inductee into its Bikinis Hall of Fame. The decision likely was more about the availability of a female celebrity to mark the seventh anniversary of the Texas-based restaurant chain than honoring someone famous for wearing a bikini.
Electra was a star of the beach drama “Baywatch,” but I can think of a lot more women who would be more bikini-hall-of-fame worthy.
Film stars like Brigitte Bardot, Ursula Andress and Raquel Welch helped popularize the bikini in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Then there are all the supermodels who have graced the cover of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue over the years, including Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley and Elle Macpherson.
Wikipedia has a section on the “Bikini in popular culture.”
A bikini hall of fame could easily have scores of well-known inductees. A proper shrine would have the original bathing suits or at least reproductions.
What follows are lists of famous bikini wearers from movies and TV shows.

20 Classic Movie/TV Bikinis (Entertainment Weekly: May 24, 2014)

Top Ten Bikini Movies of All Time (Bikinis Blog; July 31, 2014)

The Most Memorable Swimsuits Ever (InStyle)

Top 10 Bikinis in Pop Culture (Time; July 5, 2011)

Relive the Impossible Hotness of 17 Top Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Models (People; Feb. 3, 2014)

List of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover models (Wikipedia)

Photos: Jessica Alba on the cover of the May 30-June 6, 2014, issue of Entertainment Weekly; and Cheryl Tiegs on the cover of the 1975 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bikinis Hall of Fame still a one-off

In July 2013, the Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill chain announced actress Carmen Electra as the first inductee into its Bikinis Hall of Fame.
Doug Guller, founder and CEO of Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill, created the Bikinis Hall of Fame to mark the seventh anniversary of his restaurant chain. Bikinis is known for its scantily clad waitresses, who wear bikini tops, denim shorts and cowboy boots. Guller even holds the trademark for the term Breastaurant.
To celebrate the chain’s anniversary, Electra had a cast of her bikini-covered chest made for the Bikinis Hall of Fame. A plaque on the cast reads “Bikinis Bust of Fame.” (See coverage by the Daily Mail and the Superficial.)
Last week, I emailed Guller to get a status report on the Bikinis Hall of Fame. I asked him whether last year’s induction of Electra was a one-off.
“There will be many more inductees!” Guller replied. “We were trying to get Dolly Parton this year but the timing didn’t work out.”
It’s pretty clear that the Bikinis Hall of Fame is more about honoring famous breasts than bikini wearers. That’s unfortunate.
A museum honoring famous bikini models and actresses is a lot more interesting than an exhibit devoted to ladies with big boobs. Bikinis evoke images of summer, vacation, fitness and sexuality. Without that context, boobs are boobs.

Photos: Carmen Electra is inducted into the Bikinis Hall of Fame; country music singer Dolly Parton graces the cover of Playboy magazine in October 1978.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tumblr gives me a ‘final warning’ a year after deleting my blogs for supposed copyright violations

Seriously, Tumblr?
You terminate my account abruptly more than a year ago for “repeated uncontested notifications of copyright infringement” and NOW you send me a “final warning”?
That’s like a cop shooting someone and then saying, “Stop or I’ll shoot” … a year later.
If there was any way of getting back the three blogs you deleted because of two complaints from one photographer against one of those blogs, despite my fair use argument, I’d be all ears.
But you never responded to my appeal and I doubt you will now.
Sending this email is obviously just another screw-up on your part. Thanks for rubbing salt in an old wound.
P.S. It’s nice that you’re paying at least some lip service to users’ rights now.

Here’s the text of an email message I received yesterday evening from Yahoo-owned Tumblr:

Tumblr Copyright Violations- FINAL WARNING


We're writing to let you know that, due to repeated uncontested notifications of copyright infringement against one or more of your blogs, your Tumblr account is one more uncontested notice away from termination. PLEASE CONSIDER THIS A FINAL WARNING.

As a reminder, Tumblr, as required by US law, implements a strict policy of terminating the accounts of repeat copyright infringers. It's important for all creators that our users respect copyright, and so we ask that you take greater care in what you post to your Tumblr blogs. You can review Tumblr's Terms of Service ( and Community Guidelines ( for more information on our copyright policies.

Also, if you believe that a copyright infringement notification has been incorrectly submitted against you (in other words, that you have the legal right to post the content), you can contest the notice and file a counter-notification according to the procedure found here:

For more information on US copyright law, you can visit the following sites:

Thanks for your consideration.

Tumblr Trust & Safety

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Best songs of summer

Billboard magazine officially crowns each year’s song of the summer after Labor Day. But often those tunes don’t stand the test of time.
Others have tried to compensate for the shortcomings of the Billboard list in choosing the song of summer by coming out with their own lists. What follows is a few of them.

Best Summer Songs of All Time (Rolling Stone)

The 44 Most Summery Summer Songs of All Time (E! Online)

Top 30 Summer Songs (Billboard)

Photos: Album covers for “Heat Wave” (1963) by Martha and the Vandellas.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Forget ‘Fancy’, here are my picks for song of summer 2014

Summer is nearing an end, so it’s time to crown the “song of summer.”
Based on its dominance on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart, “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea and featuring Charli XCX looks like a lock to be the song of summer for 2014. It was No. 1 for seven straight weeks.
Billboard ranks the most popular songs across all genres from Memorial Day through Labor Day, based on cumulative performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart. It factors in radio airplay audience impressions, sales data and streaming activity for the chart.
Last year, Billboard crowned Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” as song of the summer. It was No. 1 for 12 weeks.
Basically the official song of summer is objective, based on popularity, rather than something more subjective, like a tune that captures the feeling of a particular summer. It doesn’t even have to be about summertime activities.
Music has the ability to take people back in time in their memories. Certain songs make me remember where I was when a track was popular, especially summer songs.
Just check out this Billboard list of the top 10 songs of summer from 1985 through 2013. Many haven’t held up very well. And often lower-numbered tracks get more airplay today than the No. 1s from summers past.
For me, “Fancy” is a faddish track that’s more about swagger and attitude than melodies.
Songs that best capture the summer of 2014 for me include “Summer” by Calvin Harris, “Am I Wrong?” by Nico & Vinz and “Turn Down for What?” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon.
To those chart toppers I’d add an Internet meme tune – “Apparently” by the Gregory Brothers. Seriously.

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