First up is a collection of retrofuturisitic artwork from Eastern Bloc popular science magazines. Even though I don’t believe I’ve seen any of these pieces before, many of them seem strangely familiar. The sensor antenna or weapon aimed at a distant galaxy, the tree within a bubble within a frozen waste, the astronaut with the raygun.

Next, we have a cartoon that I think about now and then. I first encountered a slightly different version of in an old computer science textbook. (How old? It had a few pages on core memory.) Some of the artist’s embellishments are good additions, particularly the easy chair suspended from the tree, and some I agree with a bit less (perhaps I’d switch "as documented" and "as supported".) But the lesson remains the same: the customer wants a tire swing. She wants to go forward, backward, left, right, and around in circles. She does not want to hold the swing and run back and forth, no matter how many seats it has. And while a stationary seat beneath a moving tree may be a clever solution and an impressive engineering feat, it’s kind of like a whistling dog story. Like a whistling dog, it’s astonishing that the thing can whistle — but it doesn’t actually whistle very well.

And speaking of which, Toyota has unveiled a violin-playing robot. Does it, I wonder, have a MIDI interface?

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