My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Archive for May, 2015

In 31days…

May 31st, 2015 | Category: Life

So, in 31 days, I’ve managed two good posts? Three, maybe?

Win!

No. No, I failed May.

We try again in June.

2 comments

Okay, I can’t let this go (Turing spoiler)

May 30th, 2015 | Category: Opinions

Okay, I don’t generally post spoilers, however, I feel like I have to make an exception. Alan M. Turing’s good memory is involved. See, I worry that The Imitation Game is going to be how pop-culture is going to remember him. I mean, it’s a fucking “biopic,” right? If you saw a critically acclaimed film about Alan Turing, that’s pretty much the same as reading his biography, isn’t it? No, it’s not. Not in this case. I figure, if at least one person who saw The Imitation Game and thought it was the last word on Alan M. Turing stumbles onto this post, I did one good thing in my stupid life.

Now, all that said, if you haven’t seen The Imitation Game and you want to be shocked by its shocking ending, okay, STOP READING RIGHT NOW. REALLY, NOW, RIGHT NOW. I’M NOT FUCKING KIDDING, STOP FUCKING READING FUCKING NOW. Also, if you’re going to read his biography, do stop reading.

Alan M. Turing was a genius… That’s pretty much the only aspect of The Imitation Game that’s 200% dead on accurate. Most of the film is fiction, mostly harmless. Mostly. The end is not harmless. The end is an astonishing disservice to his memory, so that’s where I’m going to focus.

Yes, Alan was gay, but aside from his WWII working life, he was openly gay. For the times, he was courageously, or perhaps naievely openly gay, but open nonetheless. This worked out okay during his Cambridge years, a pretty liberal place in the 1930s, 40s, and even 50s, but after Alan left Cambridge for life in “the real world,” 1950s Manchester, it caused problems. Being gay in the 50s was not easy, in fact, it was illegal. Being outted could mean prison, even hard labor… or worse. See, in the post-WWII world, people looked to science to solve society’s every ill, and science answered the call. Homosexuality was gaining favor as a mental illness, not just a moral weakness, something science felt especially equipped to solve. The lobotomy was proving to be an inelegant solution, and the physical castration that was popular in America didn’t actually guarantee an end to sexual activity, but the world of chemistry seemed to offer a world of solutions. One particularly promising solution was chemical castration, the injection of estrogen in males seemed to eliminate the sex drive so long as it was regularly administered. Awesome. Yay junk science!

So, in 1951, Alan, having gained self-confidence in his early 40s, picked up a fellow, and soon enough, took him to bed. The fellow told some friends Alan was a spectacular target for burglary, being fairly wealthy, and gay. Being gay made one very open to blackmail, as being gay was a crime. However, when Alan’s lover said, yeah, I told some people about us and they probably robbed you, Alan went straight to the police and reported the crime. He left out the affair, of course, but didn’t fear the law. Unlike in the film, Alan’s neighbors didn’t report the robbery, while Alan tried to get the police out of the house as quickly as possible. The police also figured out the other “crime” pretty easily, and Alan promptly confessed, writing a five page statement. Alan was an adamant believer in personal honesty. He kept state secrets, but never personal. Of course, his five page statement rendered his defense impossible. His friends stood up for him publicly, and he was ultimately offered a choice between one year in prison or one year of “organotherapy” (hormone therapy/chemical castration). Yes, he had friends. He definitely wasn’t a social-butterfly. He loathed social fakery, and would easily walk away from someone mid-sentence if he found them intellectually lacking. Nobody would ever say he wasn’t really eccentric, but he had several close-friends, he wasn’t the socially incapable, extreme Autism-spectrum loaner as he was in his “biopic.” At any rate, he chose the organotherapy.

See, this is the part of the film that really upsets me. In The Imitation Game, Alan Turing in the midst of his hormone treatment is depicted as a doddering, weepy shut-in, delusionally building a computer named, Christopher, that he was teaching to be “so smart.” He had muscle spasms so severe he could barely hold a pen, and ultimately committed suicide because he just couldn’t stand the pain. The thing is, none of that happened! It’s such a shabby way to remember someone so brilliant. A tireless visionary, a kind and able friend.

Hormone injections had many possible side-effects, but Alan didn’t seem to suffer them. He joked in letters to friends that he grew breasts, but otherwise, he maintained his usual English stiff upper-lip. He survived the year apparently unscathed. He never stopped working, never stopped thinking.

Yes, his first true friend and unrequited-love was a school-mate named, Christopher, but he never built any such computer. Alan designed a theoretical computer, a “universal machine,” later coined the “Turing Machine,” that would ultimately be akin to the computers of today. He talked about computers being governed by “programs,” believed that it would be possible to create a machine that could approximate human behavior. He is the father of Computer Science, he envisioned things that we are only just starting to achieve today. He believed in “thinking machines,” but had no misconceptions about the computers of his day, he knew they weren’t yet capable of what he created on paper. Still, he pushed the technology of his time as far as it could go.

Yes, Alan committed suicide, in 1954, well after his organotherapy. The truth is, nobody knows why he did it. There are theories, but really, none seems more likely than another. I only know it didn’t happen as depicted in The Imitation Game.

Alan Turing was very much the Steve Jobs of his generation, he knew computers would change everything. His vision would eventually became reality. His story isn’t sad because of weakness, because society broke him. It didn’t. It isn’t sad because almost none of his accomplishments were recognized in his lifetime. He didn’t care about recognition, you don’t get into top-secret war work for the accolades. The sadness of Alan Turing’s life is that the Empire he helped save from annihilation treated him as “abhorrent,” labeled him as filth. It’s sad that he couldn’t love and be loved in every sense of the word, freely, without risk of punishment. It’s sad that, unlike Steve Jobs, technology was 50 years behind Alan’s ideas, not ready to explode around them.

Don’t remember Alan Turing weeping over some imaginary computer, think about him smiling from ear to ear knowing that his ideas would be the foundation for entirely new branches of study, knowing that I typed this on what could easily be called a Turing Machine. Maybe he can see such things from where he is, maybe, if he’s anywhere. I hope he is, he thought about such things too. Like I said, his mind was endlessly in motion.

3 comments

I’m just so…

May 29th, 2015 | Category: Life

I’m just so fucking tired, uneasy.

Loneliness and bad dreams.

1 comment

Alan M. Turing: More than a maths brain

May 28th, 2015 | Category: Life,Opinions

I’ve certainly noted before right now that I am astonishingly bad at math. It’s absolutely not my bag. The problem below is all smoke and mirrors, fancy looking, but easy enough for a chimp to figure. I’m not a maths brain, not by any stretch of the term, not like a true maths brain, Alan M. Turing. Though, after reading a biography by Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma, it’s plain that Alan Turing was so much more.

Alan Turing recently resurfaced in the public spotlight due to a highly acclaimed film adaptation of his life, The Imitation Game, which I really enjoyed… until I read The Enigma and realized his life was so much bigger than manufactured Hollywood drama.

I actually don’t want to say more, knowing nothing about his life only makes the discovery of his accomplishments all the more profound.

5 comments

Random math fun!

May 27th, 2015 | Category: Life

As below, so below

May 26th, 2015 | Category: Life

Emp-ty

May 25th, 2015 | Category: Life

I just didn’t feel like writing today, I didn’t finish my drafts.

I don’t feel like me, I feel empty.

1 comment

For tomorrow

May 24th, 2015 | Category: Life

I have posts in the pipe for tomorrow.

No comments

Ti-r-ed

May 23rd, 2015 | Category: Life

I’m tired, kind of down. I went to a movie and freaked out, heart pounding, struggling to breathe. I calmed myself down, but that sort of thing hasn’t happened since… pre-2005.

I’m uneasy.

1 comment

Pre-digital chaos

May 22nd, 2015 | Category: Life

So, people have been asking to see my Letterman portraits, and I’d be happy to oblige, but they’re currently unavailable. Remember, they were shot amidst the pre-digital chaos of 1995. I have a roll of film, a few slides converted from negatives, the original prints, and the signed, framed prints. However, since we still haven’t totally unpacked from The Move, I really have film in a box, slides in a box, prints in a box, and signed, framed prints… in a box. I did have a few 600 dpi scans from an $1800 scanner back in 1997, but I can’t find them to save my life. They’re likely on some long-dead hard drive. We take it for granted that every photo we shoot will safely land in iCloud or Dropbox right after we take it, but that has only been the case for a scant few years.

I’m going to make it a priority to find my prints, make fresh scans, and safely back them up to everywhere OS X sees fit to send them.

Then, I post!

2 comments

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