As I deliver lectures and courses for various organizations, including Penfield Rec’s DEAR program, I post stuff here that might be of interest to students and attendees.

Film Noir Series – Links and other stuff for the series of 7 films noirs I’m showing at DEAR, noon on alternate Tuesdays starting on September 21. The films are:
Maltese Falcon (1941)
Laura (1944)
Out of the Past (1947)
Lady in the Lake (1947)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Touch of Evil (1958)

Royal Game of Ur: A truly Ancient Game – Humans have been playing games for thousands of years, as evidenced by game artifacts found from virtually every civilization. This class presents a brief historical survey of games, describes what makes a game a game, and dives into The Royal Game of Ur, the oldest intact game for which rules exist. We’ll explore where this game came from, how it was recovered, and how to play it. To cap things off you’ll actually play the Royal Game of Ur. Please bring three coins to the class.

Music from the Garden: Butt Music from Hell – Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights has fascinated viewers for centuries. The Hell panel of this triptych features music notation inscribed on the backside of an unfortunate soul being crushed by a giant lute. What did this tune sound like and what could it possibly mean? Al will explore Bosch’s use of musical memes and focus on how he transcribed and rendered the Butt Music from Hell as an asset in a video game inspired by the Garden’s Hell panel.

The Lewis Chessmen – Discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis off the Scottish coast and carved in the 12th century from walrus tusks by Norse craft people, these chess pieces have charmed millions in the British and Royal Scottish Museums and have become part of popular culture (Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Walking Dead, Agatha Christie). This presentation examines the Lewis Chessmen and their place in the history of chess, and it explores their competing origin stories, which include Margret the Adroit, the greatest ivory carver in Iceland.

Friday Forum Fractal Fun – Join Al Biles as he does live coding in p5.js to generate fractals and other animations before your very eyes. Fractal fans will recognize the logistic map and Mandelbrot set (see zoom at left), along with the Gumkowski-Mira fractal. No programming experience is expected, but Al will start from scratch in p5 to hopefully entice some converts to what is likely the most accessible programming environment in existence.

Artificial Intelligence – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere in your everyday life, from driving your car to using your credit card, not to mention doing anything on Google, Amazon or Facebook. AI is also a loaded term whose meaning and impact are highly controversial. This 6-part course will explore what AI is and, maybe more importantly, what AI isn’t. We’ll chronicle AI’s history from the origin of the term in 1956 by focusing on four application areas where AI has achieved some notable successes: game playing, vision, human languages, and creativity. Each application area will introduce us to AI techniques that try to mimic what people do, and we’ll shed light on how those techniques actually work. The primary goal of the course is to disentangle what AI actually is and can do from the dense jungle of popular culture, which often overhypes, demonizes, and otherwise distorts AI’s accomplishments and potential. No mathematical, computing, or other technical skill or experience is expected.

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