Author Archives: cleek

MJP

“I’m going to be called Dr. Marijuana Pepsi!” she declared.

It’s fitting that an African American woman who has gone through life as Marijuana Pepsi chose as her dissertation topic: “Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions.”

Bad Actor

I can’t believe I missed this at the time.

Turns out that the people in the crowd at Trump’s weird 2015 campaign launch announcement (when he descended the gold escalator) were paid actors. Well, since this is Trump we’re talking about, the actors were not paid until they filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, four months later.

Marching Towards Doom

For better or worse, it’s getting easier than ever to doctor video footage, and the latest development in this field is as scary as it is impressive. A new algorithm developed by researchers from Stanford University, Max Planck Institute for Informatics, Princeton University, and Adobe makes it possible to alter human speech in a video, just by changing the text in its transcript.

This method is said to alter the video while preserving the speaker’s characteristics. To accomplish this, the algorithm first reads the phonemes and pronunciation of letters and words from the original video, and creates a model of the speaker’s head to accurately replicate the speaker’s voice and movements.

Once you edit the transcript, the algorithm performs a search for segments containing lip movements that make the words you’ve typed in, and replaces the original phrase. But the replaced part can have a lot of pauses and cuts, because it’s stitched together tiny segments of video from across the clip. So, the algorithm applies some intelligent smoothing to make the edited video appear more natural.

We humans aren’t smart enough to not trust what our eyes and ears tell us. If we see a video of someone saying something, we’re going to believe she said it.

Leon Redbone, RIP

Leon Redbone, the singer who built a career out of performing ragtime, vaudeville and American standards with a sly wink and an unmistakable, nasally voice, died Thursday. He was 69.

A statement on Redbone’s website confirmed his death, though it did so with a sweet bit of humor, joking that he was actually 127 years old.

“He departed our world with his guitar, his trusty companion Rover, and a simple tip of his hat,” the statement read. “He’s interested to see what Blind Blake, Emmett, and Jelly Roll have been up to in his absence, and has plans for a rousing sing along number with Sári Barabás. An eternity of pouring through texts in the Library of Ashurbanipal will be a welcome repose, perhaps followed by a shot or two of whiskey with Lee Morse, and some long overdue discussions with his favorite Uncle, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites. To his fans, friends, and loving family who have already been missing him so in this realm he says, ‘Oh behave yourselves. Thank you… and good evening everybody.’”

He is one of my favorites, always has been.

Leon Redbone – Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone 1977