Farewell, Faithful Steed: Veteran Actor (and Sometime Fashion Icon) Patrick Macnee Dies, Aged 93

Patrick Macnee, the actor best known for his work on TVs The Avengers has passed away. He was 93 years old.

Macnee was born in London, England in 1922. His father trained racehorses and was noted for his keen fashion sense, whilst his mother was a niece of the Earl of Huntingdon (which may even have made Patrick a descendent of Robin Hood!). However, such privileged beginnings proved to be only deceptively comfortable for the young Macnee, who saw his father drink and gamble away the family fortune, before leaving the country for India, while Macnee lived with his mother and her Lesbian lover Uncle Evelyn Spottswood. The pair attempted to dress the young boy up as a girl, but settled for a kilt instead, which was how Macnee was dressed every day until he was eleven years old.

Spottswood paid for Macnees schooling, which included boarding school from the age of five, a preparatory school (where he acted alongside a young Christopher Lee in a production of Shakespeares Henry V) and ultimately a spell at Eton, where he joined the schools dramatic society. Eventually however, Macnee was quietly expelled from the school after he instigated a gambling ring and was then caught selling erotic photography and whiskey to his fellow pupils.

By this time though, he had already been bitten by the acting bug and so decided to pursue a career in the performing arts.

Before he could make his West End debut, the young actor was called up for National Service. It was 1942 and World War 2 was in full swing. He began his military career in the Navy as an ordinary seaman, before progressing to sub-lieutenant. Fortunately, a nasty bout of bronchitis caused Macnee to miss the D-Day landings, where the ship he was serving aboard was destroyed and the entire crew killed. He was ashamed of not being present at the battle for the rest of his life. Macnee was demobilized in 1946 with the final rank of lieutenant.

Patrick Macnee learned his craft via a number of small roles, appearing in The Life and Death of colonel Blimp in 1943 and portraying a Spear Carrier in Lawrence Oliviers 1948 production of Hamlet (alongside an uncredited Christopher Lee), amongst other assorted roles. However, as the years passed and his big break failed to arrive, Macnee became depressed and frustrated by his lack of progress.

Eventually, he decided to leave the United Kingdom for Canada, making the difficult decision to leave his wife and two children behind in the process. He arrived in Toronto with just £10 in his pocket. In Canada, Macnees eccentric Englishness made him a genuine novelty and his career began to pick up somewhat. He explored producing and, as an actor, appeared in over 30 televised plays, before finally hearing about a new television series in development called The Avengers.

In The Avengers, Macnee played the unflappable British secret agent John Steed from 1961 to 1969, before reprising the role for 1976 – 77s The New Avengers. Both the series and the character would become an iconic part of British popular culture, creating a legacy that endures to this day. The show made Macnee an international star and proved to be his finest hour as an actor.

The character of John Steed first appeared in The Avengers pilot episode Hot Snow (1961). Here, he was depicted as being an assistant to Dr. David Keel. When Ian Hendry, who had played Dr. Keel, quit the show later that year, Steed became the central character and was partnered with a series of crime fighting accomplices, namely Dr. Martin King (Jon Rollason), Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) and finally Cathy Gale (played by future Bond girl Honor Blackman).

As the series progressed, Macnee extensively re-designed Steeds wardrobe, furnishing his character with the now iconic look of bowler hat, Saville Row suit and gentlemans umbrella. Of course, these garments came to be tricked out with various spy gadgets as the series went on.

It was Steeds debonair, quintessentially British wardrobe that helped the show to become so successful both at home and overseas. In fact, the clothes were so iconic that in France The Avengers is known as Chapeau Melon et Bottes de Cuir – Bowler Hat and Leather Boots.

Macnee also decided early on that Steed should never carry a gun. In later interviews he stated that he was sick of firearms after experiencing “a war in which Id seen most of my friends blown to pieces”.

Besides, a pimped-out brolly is waaaaay cooler.

In 1965, Steed was paired with his most iconic partner (and best, but Im biased since she was my childhood crush) Mrs. Emma Peel. Portrayed by Diana Rigg, Mrs. Peel (designed to have man appeal – hence the name) was smart, self-assured and supremely confident. In a unique twist, Peel often acted as Steeds muscle, being by far the more physical of the two characters. Although he frequently rescued her from harm, their relationship was truly a partnership of equals, making Mrs. Peel, secret agent, martial artist and chemistry genius, a genuine pioneer among female heroines. Macnee was always proud of the strong, positive female characters that were so prominently featured in The Avengers.

Rigg left the series in 1968 and promptly followed her predecessor into the James Bond franchise, while Macnee was partnered with Linda Thorsons Tara King until the series demise a year later in 1969.

ITV revived the Avengers concept in 1976 and Macnee starred alongside Joanna Lumley (Purdy) and Gareth Hunt (Gambit). The show ran for two series, but, despite a positive reception, was scrapped in 1977 due to financial problems.

Away from The Avengers, Macnee appeared in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985) and the classic Rock n Roll mocumentary This Is Spinal Tap (1984), where he portrayed Sir Dennis Eton-Hogg, the somewhat sanctimonious president of Taps record company. He also played Dr. George Waggner in 1981s cult favourite The Howling.

In 1998, Hollywood made a disastrous attempt to revive The Avengers. The movie starred Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Sean Connery and Patrick leant his support in the form of a voice cameo. However, without the twinkle, wit and class of the original John Steed, the idea was doomed to failure.

Finding himself in the enviable position of being a pop culture icon, Macnee was asked to appear in music videos for The Pretenders and Oasis amongst others. He also contributed vocals to a novelty single Kinky Boots with Honor Blackman that was issued three times, the first in 1964, the second in 1983 and the third in 1990, where it eventually became a top 3 hit.

As a television actor, Macnee appeared in such memorable shows as The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Colombo, Frasier, Battlestar Galactica, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, Magnum P.I, Diagnosis Murder, The Littlest Hobo, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and many others. He even played Dr. Watson alongside Christopher Lees Sherlock Holmes.

In later life, Macnee became a nudist. After an infancy spent in a dress, a childhood in a kilt and an adulthood in the finest suits money can buy, why not spend an old age in the nip? For a style icon that brought the suave and stylish John Steed to life with effortless grace, charm and virility, one supposes that it must have felt like the next logical step.

R.I.P Patrick, you will be sorely missed.

In Ear Monitor Buyer’s Guide: Custom vs. Generic Fit

It is understood that ear moulded plugs are far more comfortable and effective than the mushroom plugs, but which ones are the best? The Custom fit or generic fit. This article runs over the positives and negatives of that question and comes to a conclusion, if your debating to get some moulded ear plugs or some from the shelf, you will want to read this first.

Over the past 20 years, In Ear Monitors (or IEMs) have become a near-necessity for live performance.

In years prior, engineers would inevitably have to crank up a venue’s stage monitors loud enough for the musicians to hear themselves over the audience, over the sound coming from the stage, and over the main mix.

This would often lead to an arms race of ever-increasing stage volume, potentially causing feedback issues and compromises in clarity and quality for the live mix.

Custom in-ear monitors from JH Audio, one of the first commercial brands to make a name for itself in the IEM market.

With the advent of in-ear monitors, all this began to change. In the mid-1980s, Etymotic developed the first-ever insert-style earphones, and soon after, a designer named Marty Garcia began making one-off custom in-ears for rock stars like Todd Rundgren.

By 1995, Jerry Harvey, founder of Ultimate Earsand JH Audio, brought some of the first commercially-available dual-driver IEMs to market. All of a sudden, everyday musicians had an option that allowed us to save our hearing, get better monitor mixes, and dramatically reduce the chances of feedback onstage.

Today, IEMs are increasingly being considered useful tools for the studio as well. Their ability to prevent sound leakage can be of tremendous value in helping to control click and instrument bleed, and in saving musicians’ hearing by allowing them to monitor at lower levels.

Some musicians and engineers, such as drummer Rich Pagano of The Fab Faux, will use IEMs to quickly check for phase when mic’ing up a drum kit, while others turn to IEMs as a kind of audio microscope, using them to help check for and remove extraneous low-level noise.

Any modern musician would be wise to consider adding in-ear monitors to their toolkit. But is it worth it to dish out the extra money on custom fit IEMs, instead of saving some money with the generic fit ones?

In testing a variety of in-ear monitors from brands like Westone, Ultimate Ears, Future Sonics, and even Skullcandy (that last of which is not recommended for professional use), I have found that there are cases in which generic fit earphones may work better than their custom counterparts. Making the right decision for your needs comes down to considering the following four factors:

1) Cost

Ultimate Ears custom fit in-ear monitors.

Custom fit IEMs tend to cost more than generic fit ones, as it takes more time and effort for the manufacturer to craft a product designed specifically for the unique anatomy of your ear.

Getting custom IEMs made also requires that you go to an audiologist to make a mold of your ear canal that the IEM company can then use to make your monitors fit as well as possible.

Take note of both of these costs, which can range from $100-$200 or more for a fitting from an audiologist, and $299-$1499 or more for the custom monitors to be made.

2) Comfort & Seal

Custom fit IEMs are custom, so they should feel really comfortable, right?  Well, yes and no.

In my experience, custom fit IEMs can feel a little tight in the ear canal compared to generics, especially at first. Hearing so little acoustic feedback from your performance can also take some getting used to, and the tight seal of custom fit in-ears can feel particularly awkward when signing.

Because of this, my looser-fitting Westone 3 generic IEMs actually feel more comfortable to me on vocal duties, so I often find myself using them over my custom fit Future Sonics when I step up to the mic.

Matt Bellamy from Muse (recently featured in Get THAT Guitar Tone) has been seen using both customUltimate Ears UE-11s and generic-fit Westone UM2s when on tour, and my guess is that he has similar reasons.

Though the tight fit of custom IEMs and lack of acoustic feedback from your performance can be a challenge, it’s worth noting that generic foam-tip IEMs also provide their own tradeoffs: The looser fit of generics can sometimes create a bit of a tingling or “tickling” feeling in your ear when playing at higher volumes, so it may be useful to have a pair of each and go with what feels best depending on the date and venue.

Silicone-based Encore Studio custom IEMs from ACS.

Another option here is the custom fit brandACS, which makes its IEMs out of soft silicone shells.

This softer silicone-based design is meant to offer both better comfort and a tighter fit than the hard acrylic shells used by brands like Westone and Ultimate Ears.

Though these silicone monitors sell for a premium price of $400-$1,200 and up, they may help bridge the gap between the tight seal of custom acrylics and the looser and easier fit of foam-tipped generic IEMs.

3) Hearing Protection

In addition to cutting down on sound leakage to help improve sound quality and reduce feedback, another primary benefit of IEMs is that they can offer considerable hearing protection by helping to block out exterior noise, allowing you to monitor at lower levels.

Some of the best custom fit brands like JH Audio and Ultimate Ears offer NRR ratings of 26dB in reduction, and some of the better generic brands advertise comparable results as well. (Though your results with generics may vary depending on the fit and seal in your ear.)

In the long term, reducing the levels you’re regularly exposed to—even by a few extra decibels—could mean the difference between a long and illustrious career as a “golden-eared” audio engineer and potentialtinnitus and irreversible hearing loss.

Also worth checking out is the REV33 system, which can be added on to your your in-ear-monitoring system to help reduce distortion and ear strain. Many live musicians, including Phil X and Steve Salas swear by the system. According to the company:

“All in-ear monitors and headphones generate damaging, unwanted noise and distortion that forces the ear to shut down and compress for protection. The REV33 reduces the symptoms of tinnitus, ear-ringing, ear-fatigue, buzzing and dampened hearing by preventing in-ear monitors and headphones from producing this unwanted noise and distortion.”

4) Waiting and Time Considerations

After getting my first pair of IEM’s made, I found that the right ear monitor turned out well, but I was not getting a proper seal in the left ear at first. This made the monitors essentially useless for my live sound needs at the time, and so I had to send them back for some tweaking.

When I got them back a couple of weeks later, the seal still wasn’t great, so I had to send them back once again for further modification, and visit my audiologist a second time to take another impression of my ear canal to send in.

Getting the perfect fit turned out to be quite a time-consuming process (as well as an expensive one) so unless you’re on the hunt for a long-term solution with as much acoustic isolation as humanly possible, you might satisfice with generic IEMs, or keep some around as an alternate option.

In that case, I would recommend the generic in-ears from Ultimate Ears, Shure, or Westone.

Ultimate Ears’ generic fit UE900 model sports 4 drivers for $400.

The Ultimate Ears UE900’s are a great sounding 4-driver IEM that only costs $399, while the $99 Shure SE215 single-driver IEMs advertise an astonishing 37dB of noise reduction (more than most custom IEMs) at a great price.

My own triple-driver Westone 3’s (since replaced by the W30 model) are the most comfortable in ear monitors I own right now, and they isolate a lot more noise than most thanks to their foam-tip construction.

Compared to custom in-ears, any of these model can potentially save you time and money, or work as a welcome supplement for those times when the tight fit of custom in-ears feels irksome.

I hope my experiences here help you make the right decision when you go to buy your own IEMs. In short, I found that less-expensive generic foam-tipped IEMs worked better for me in many situations, and the savings enabled me to spend my money on better drivers with a fuller sound.

If you’ve used IEM’s in the past, let us know in the comments below whether you prefer custom fits or generic fit ones, and why.

Can Dirty Headsets Trigger Ear Infection

Technology is improving each and every day, but these advancements have left many of us tightly trapped in the luxuries and comforts, imposing many side effects on our overall health. One such modern advancement in technology that’s affecting our health is the use of headphones. Today, many people use headphones without knowing the kind of negative health issues the devices can cause.

Well, although headphones are an ergonomic, convenient and quite useful hands free accessories, there are various health risks that are associated with their use. Experts believe that prolonged use of headphones can cause great damage to the ears. In addition, headphones cause ear infections, which contributes to hearing loss. Well, some of the risks that are associated with headphones have more to do with their use and maintenance, than with the headphones mechanics.

Ear infections are much more likely to occur amongst the headphone users who wear the devices for extended periods of time, and also amongst those who don’t take good care of their headphones. For example, headphone ear cushions need to be replaced every 2-3 months, and should be treated regularly with the right cleaning agent so as to avoid accumulation of germs and bacteria. Prolonged headphone use also causes aural hygiene issues, hearing loss along with ear canal infections. Recent scientific studies have revealed that wearing headphones for extended periods of time usually increase the humidity and the temperatures inside the ear canals, thereby increasing one’s susceptibility to ear infections. This shows that headphones cause ear infections.

Sharing of headphones is another way headphones cause ear infections. It is quite common for people to share their headphones with others. Sharing headphones with others is not a good idea since the bacteria from other people’s ears will travel to your very own ears and this will cause ear infections. Therefore, the next time you think of sharing your headphones, think again. Do not share your headphones with anyone, not even your friends or family.

Listening to music together is another way headphones cause ear infections. As romantic as it may seem, there are dire repercussions to sharing headphones. In the process of enjoying music together, you will end up transferring somebody else’s bacteria to your ears; this can lead to ear infections. Make sure you sanitize your headphones by thoroughly cleaning them with a clean tissue paper before plugging them in.

Apart from the germs and bacteria you get from borrowing or/and sharing headphones, you can also get germs and bacteria from not changing your very own headphone sponges. It’s recommended you change the rubber or sponge cover of your headphones every 2-3 months mainly because they tend to get covered with germs and bacteria over time.

Some other ways you can avoid ear infections caused by headphones is by always keeping your headphones clean, regularly replacing the old headphones and ear pads, avoiding sharing headphones or using the public headphones, and not sharing earbuds. Also, if your headphones have a sponge or a rubber cover, make sure you change them every 2 months. Finally, remember to give your ears some rest once every 15 minutes, and do not play the music way too loud, for this might contribute to hearing loss.

Musician sues Royal Opera House over ruined hearing

It is quite a common thing that musicians and artists that are exposed to loud noise, will eventually suffer from hearing damage. We have seen many artists suffer from this career threatening damage, the likes of Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Ozzy Osbourne and the tinnitus that is effecting Chris Martin from Coldplay, this is a problem that many more will be affected by. This article from the BBC talks about Chris Goldscheider and his pursuit of damages over his hearing damage. Rightly or wrongly it’s an interesting tale.

A renowned viola player is suing the Royal Opera House for ruining his hearing and his career during rehearsals of Wagner’s Die Walkure.

Chris Goldscheider claims his hearing was irreversibly damaged by brass instruments put immediately behind him.

The Musicians’ Union says hearing damage is a major problem for musicians playing in orchestras.

The Royal Opera House denies it is responsible, but around a quarter of its players suffer hearing illnesses.

In court documents seen by the BBC, Goldscheider claims that in 2012 his hearing was “irreversibly damaged” during rehearsals of Richard Wagner’s thunderous Die Walkure “from brass instruments placed immediately behind him” in the famous “pit” at the Royal Opera House.

The sound peaked at around 137 decibels, which is roughly the sound of a jet engine. The court documents say the noise “created an immediate and permanent traumatic threshold shift”.

Image captionChris Goldscheider played the viola with some of the world’s greatest orchestras

Goldscheider says this amounts to “acoustic shock”, one effect of which is that the brain hugely amplifies ordinary sounds.

Music has been in most of Goldscheider’s life: “For the last quarter of a century I’ve been a professional musician. Music was my income. It was my everything,” he says.

The son of a composer, from the age of 10 he spent in excess of six hours a day practising and rehearsing. He played the viola with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Symphony orchestras, before joining the prestigious Royal Opera House orchestra in 2002.

Career highlights have included performing live with the famous Three Tenors to 100,000 people at the Barcelona Camp Nou football stadium, and with Kylie Minogue on MTV. He has also recorded with artists including the band 10cc.

Goldscheider says the effects of the hearing damage have been devastating.

“Ordinary sounds like banging cups and glasses together is a very painful noise,” he says.

“My newborn daughter last year was crying so much I actually got noise-induced vertigo because of my injury and I ended up in bed for three weeks.”

The musician says he has lost the career he loved and his mental health has deteriorated as he struggles to cope with the impact and effects of his hearing problems.

Life has changed dramatically. To carry out ordinary every day tasks such as preparing food, Chris has to wear ear protectors. Especially upsetting is that he had been unable to listen to his 18-year-old son Ben – one of the country’s outstanding young French horn players.

“Ben is a fantastic musician. I haven’t been able to listen to him play or practice since my injury. I’ve missed him playing concerts and winning competitions. I can’t even bear him practising in an upstairs room when I am downstairs in the house,” he says.

musician has to wear ear protectors to carry out every day tasks

At the time of his injury, Goldscheider was provided with hearing protection capable of reducing the noise by up to 28 decibels, but his lawyers claim this was insufficient. They say he was not given enough training in how to use it and protect himself, and that the noise levels should not have been so dangerously high.

The Royal Opera House does not accept the rehearsal noise caused Goldscheider’s injury, and denies that is responsible.

In a statement it told the BBC: “Mr Goldscheider’s compensation claim against the Royal Opera House is a complex medico-legal issue, which has been going on for some time and is still under investigation.

“All sides are keen to reach a resolution. The matter is now the subject of legal proceedings, and in the circumstances it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

And according to Goldscheider’s solicitor Chris Fry, part of the Royal Opera House’s defence breaks new legal ground.

“Essentially what is being said is that the beautiful artistic output justifies damaging the hearing of the musicians performing it,” he says.

“That’s never been tested by the courts. We don’t think the court is likely to uphold that, in particular where it’s clear steps could be taken to maintain the beautiful sound and protect hearing at the same time.”

he Royal Opera House denies it is responsible for Chris Goldscheider’s hearing issue

Hearing damage suffered by rock musicians is well documented. Years ago The Who’s Pete Townsend went public about his hearing loss and famously said a doctor had told him: “You’re not actually going deaf, but I’d advise you to learn to lip read.”

Brian Johnson of AC/DC and Ozzy Osborne have also been affected. But what is far less well known is that it is a significant problem in the more sedate and sophisticated world of classical music.

There are around 100 players in the orchestra at the Royal Opera House. The BBC has learnt more than a quarter report occasional or mild hearing illness, and that in the 2013/14 season, there were seven cases of sickness absence related to noise problems and a total of 117 weeks of sick leave taken. That’s not music to anyone’s ears.

Morris Stemp of the Musicians Union says there are many reasons for the hearing damage suffered by classical musicians.

“Conductors are allowed to ride roughshod over health and safety considerations,” he says. “They put players on the stage where they will be in harm’s way. And instruments are now louder than they ever were before because of the materials they are now made from.”

Add to that the increased number of live concerts prompted in part by the drop in income from CD sales, and there is a mix of elements that can put the hearing of orchestra players at serious risk.

Chris Goldscheider’s case casts light on a little known or discussed problem, and will be watched closely by all those in the classical music world.

 

Scientists Astounded as Four Legged Fossil Snake Turns up In Museum

A unique species of early cretaceous snake – unique in that it apparently had four functioning limbs – has been discovered in the Bürgermeister Müller Museum in Solnhofen, Germany this month.

The discovery was made by Dr. David Martill of the University of Portsmouth, who was showing a group of students through the museum’s collection when he noticed the specimen’s remarkable attributes.

The snake, which measured about 15 centimetres from nose to tail, is thought to have been a carnivore (a fact borne out by the bones of smaller animals preserved in its stomach) and probably hunted via constriction, like many of today’s snakes. Experts believe that it may even have used its limbs to aid in the process.

Built for burrowing (an activity which likely would not have included its limbs in any significant way), this new discovery lends credence to the scientists who argue for snake evolution occurring on land, as opposed to in the sea.

Fossil snakes with stunted hind limbs are known to palaeontologists – and even today’s boas and pythons have a small pair of spurs where their hind limbs are thought to have once been. However, no snake, extinct or extant, has ever been discovered with four limbs.

Appropriately enough, Dr. Martill named the creature Tetrapodophis, meaning ‘four-legged snake’.

However, some experts are not convinced. In our vibrant, ecologically diverse world, there are a great many species of legless lizards that are not true snakes. European slow worms, for example, are snake-like in aspect, but they are lizards, not snakes. Another example would be the Mexican Bipedidae family, which are serpentine in appearance, but which retain a pair of fully functioning forelimbs.

“Is it even a snake? I honestly don’t think so,” said the University of Alberta’s Dr. Michael Caldwell, an expert in snake evolution, to National Geographic.com’s Ed Yong. According to Caldwell and a growing number of other critics, Tetrapodophis lacks certain distinctive features in the spine and the skull that would label it a snake. The fact that this is the only known specimen in the world and that the skull is only partially preserved will probably see the debate continue until such time as a complete specimen is unearthed.

But Dr. Martill is insistent that his discovery is a snake. Speaking to National Geographic, he pointed out the specimen’s backwards-pointing teeth, single row of belly scales, the connections between the vertebrae and the shortness of the animal’s tail after the hip – all of which suggest snake to the educated observer. Of course, many legless lizards also feature these traits, but none has all of them. This means that even if the animal has been mis-identified, it is still totally unique to science.

Even more mysterious are the origins of the fossil itself, which contains the rather distinctive characteristics indicative of the Crato formation in Brazil. Discounting for a second that this is quite possibly the earliest fossil snake known to have emerged from South America, question marks have been raised regarding how the specimen could have made it to Germany when the trade of such artefacts is illegal under Brazilian law.

Since 1942, it has been illegal for any unlicensed person to dig for fossils in Brazil without first gaining permission from the Brazilian National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM). Last year, a number of people were prosecuted (where they faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison) for the illegal export of Brazilian fossils to museums in Germany and Great Britain. Odds are that Brazilian authorities, as well as the scientific community in general, will be looking into the origins of such an important find with great interest.

Depicting as a method of communication

This is an interesting review of a paid article, depicting which is represent by a drawing, painting, or other art form can be used as a form of communications, the type of depicting is described here in many different forms and that is where we will allow the article to take up the story.

When we think of language, we usually think of words, phrases, and sentences–strings of abstract symbols. In research over the past 50 years, cognitive and social scientists have developed extensive accounts of how people communicate with these symbols. But when people are face to face, they also communicate with actions that depict people, objects, and events. They create these depictions with their hands, arms, head, face, voice, and entire body, sometimes with other props but often without.

In an article recently published Online First in Psychological Review, Herbert Clark argues that spontaneous depictions like these are missing from general accounts of how people communicate, and that is a major failing. Why? Because depicting is common in everyday conversation and depicting things is fundamentally different from describing things. Also, a great many utterances are “composites” of depicting and describing.

Clark’s point is nicely illustrated in a report, from the New Yorker, of Hollywood director WG telling correspondent TF about having to stop filming in New York because of some falcons nesting on the ledge of a building:

“In L.A., they would have–” He leveled a finger at some imaginary nestlings and made a gun-cocking sound.

As Clark notes, WG could easily have described the scene with the phrase “shot those falcons.” What he did instead was depict the scene with his finger, hand, head, eyes, and voice. The result included a depiction (leveling a finger and making a gun-cocking sound) in place of the phrase “shot those falcons.” Traditional accounts are unable to handle composites like this.

What is depicting? In the theory developed in this paper, to depict something is to stage a scene. When WG leveled his finger at the imaginary falcons, he enacted a shooter in L.A. aiming a rifle at some falcons. And he did that so that his listener could imagine the scene vividly. Depicting is much the same as putting on a play in the theater or engaging in make-believe play.

Depicting, according to Clark, is largely complementary to describing. To begin with, many ideas that are impossible to put into words are easy to depict. Tennis coaches don’t describe how to hold a racket or do a backhand return. They demonstrate it, and in living detail. Music teachers often correct their students by playing or singing what the students should have played or sung. And although it takes years for children to tell coherent stories, they have little trouble depicting stories in make-believe play. They readily enact Cookie Monster, Mother, cops and robbers–and play out what they do.

Depicting is also effective for emotion, excitement, and empathy. In telling stories and passing on gossip, people not only describe, but dramatize what the protagonists said and did, often with passion and attitude. And in apologizing, people not only say “Sorry” but add facial gestures that depict their regret.

The idea, then, is that depicting is a method of communication. Without depictions, talk would be flat, lifeless, and sometimes even impossible.

original source of the article can be found here

Faulty communications along U.S.-Mexico border are America’s blind spot

We all know that mission critical communications are vital 24 hours a day and as this article shows that even a tiny lapse in communications can lead to chaos. Even the U.S government can’t keep their radio communications up-to-date on one of the most watched borders in the world, as we can see from the article below.

Put yourself in the shoes of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. You are patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, driving through desolate terrain, and in the distance, you spot movement. You head toward a deep ravine and step out of your vehicle when a shot rings out and you hear the zip of a bullet speeding past your head. With training and instinct, you dive for cover and draw your weapon, reaching for your handheld radio.

And the radio doesn’t work.

There’s no one to call, because you are in one of the many areas of the southern U.S. border that has no radio coverage. Out there in the ravine is a drug cartel “rip crew,” heavily armed and firing on your position, bullets punching into your vehicle until smoke is rising from the hood. If they come closer, you are outnumbered. If they flee, your vehicle is disabled, and they will disappear into the vast emptiness along the southern border, where they will likely fire on one of your fellow agents, should they encounter them.

That is the state of communications along many of the areas on the U.S.-Mexico border. When the U.S. Border Patrol needs it the most, they cannot communicate with anyone. With rising threats and political propositions, U.S. border security has again risen to the top of the public consciousness. There are calls for more border patrol officers and stronger fencing, for aerial and ground based vehicles and other technology. But the lifeblood of the border security apparatus is communication, and in some areas, communication is not possible.

“If there is one thing in securing America’s borders that hasn’t changed since September 11, 2001, it’s the inability to resolve the communications lapses and gaps along the border,” said Ron Colburn, the former National Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. “Here we are almost 15 years into this, and we still have not addressed this problem.”

One reason 343 New York City firefighters died when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed was that their radios could not communicate with the emergency responders outside the buildings, who were warning the structures were about to come down. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission cited the need to create interoperable tools that allow first responders and law enforcement to communicate in the most unforgiving of environments.

And there are few environments less forgiving than the nearly 2000-miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Recognizing this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a massive project to improve the communications capacity of officers along the U.S. border. It failed. In March last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that $945 million in taxpayer funding used to build radio towers and upgrade radio equipment has yielded little benefit and in some cases does not work as well as what Border Patrol agents were using before. The effort cost too much and was taking too long.

Colburn said that the state of communications today means U.S. Border Patrol cannot call for support in some areas. They cannot feed information from the field into the intelligence food chain, and they cannot receive images from manned or unmanned vehicles to know whether they are walking into an ambush or encountering a group of friendly forces.

Likewise, Border Patrol agents cannot communicate easily with other law enforcement agencies (like a local Sheriff’s office), nor can those law enforcement agencies run on-site biometric checks (e.g., fingerprints) of individuals they suspect may have recently crossed into the United States illegally.

“I see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices of the men and women of the Border Patrol,” said Colburn. “They understand the mission and they want to accomplish it, but they feel like they have been abandoned.”

Answering the Unanswered Question

Most Americans own a smartphone, which is a powerful piece of technology. Experts say it’s hard to understand how, in this age of technological innovation and advancement, the United States is not arming its frontline officers with the very basic capacity to talk to one another.

Part of the challenge is that we have not brought new solutions to this long-standing problem.

To advance the effort, the Border Commerce and Security Council (of which I am Chairman and CEO) helped bring multiple stakeholders to the table in December last year in Cochise County, Arizona, to see if an innovative application of several integrated technologies could solve these communications challenges. It was a Proof of Concept test that included the U.S. Border Patrol, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and a group of businesses with tools that can address a range of communications and intelligence challenges. What was tested is called the Field Information Support Tool (FIST).

FIST started in 2006 as basic research at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). NPS Information Sciences Research Associate James Ehlert said in 2010 that the goal was to create “an easy-to-use, inexpensive hand-held solution to achieving communications interoperability and a common physical and human terrain operating picture for both on-the-ground field collectors and tactical decision makers.”

The research question was, how can we use modern technology to allow officers in the field to talk to one another and to their superiors while also collecting and then acting on real-time intelligence?

“The intelligence aspect is that the local and federal law enforcement officers need to look at things from a risk-management perspective,” said Brian Conroy, Business Strategy and Strategic Development Manager at NOVA Corporation, which works with Kestrel Technology Group, the company that has produced the FIST system. “They need to find the high-risk areas [along the border], and if you have a tool that collects data and runs algorithms against it, you can conduct risk assessment and trend analyses. Human intelligence contributes to a holistic common operating picture.”

This is what the FIST system achieves, and it’s what was seen during the proof of concept test. In general terms, FIST uses off-the-shelf communications tools (like an Android device) to gather intelligence from officers on the front lines. With these tools, officers feed information into a larger database compiled from a variety of sources (including other officers) that informs strategic and tactical decision making. This is then passed back to the people working along the border.

The need for this kind of tool is obvious, but it has only been recently that the right technologies and software were put together in a way that makes it possible.

Moving to the Market

Over the last year, there has been a push to transition FIST into the marketplace. Research transition is tough, as DHS has found in many cases over the years. Unlike other agencies and components, such as the military branches, the homeland security and law enforcement marketplace is heavily fragmented and with limited resources. It makes it difficult to take good, workable ideas from prototype to production. As big of a challenge as creating an innovative piece of technology is finding a way to produce it in line with operational and funding realities. A local Sheriff’s office, for example, does not have an endless amount of funding and time to bring in expensive technologies and then train deputies to use them. For that matter, neither does the U.S. Border Patrol.

What’s needed is a simpler, cheaper solution, and based on the proof of concept testing, FIST appears to be that solution.

“It’s ideal for smaller law enforcement agencies because it can unify operations and reporting and scale capability, creating a force multiplier,” said Ivan Cardenas, technical director of the Kestrel Technology Group, which is helping to bring FIST to market. “It is a sophisticated system, but it is easier to use than the complexity suggests.”

There are a few moving parts here. There are applications that allow off-the-shelf technologies to record and report intelligence, such as the location of a breach in the border fence or evidence of people moving through the rugged terrain. There are existing law enforcement and Border Patrol network capabilities (or cloud-based tools) that store that information. The secret sauce, however, is the complex digital architecture that allows real-time control and fusion of multiple information sources in a way that supports the mission. This is the one thing that has been missing from the border communications and intelligence efforts, and it’s why DHS has struggled to address the challenges to this point. The innovation is in the complexity, and FIST makes it simple.

Of course, that complex innovation is for naught if the agents in the field cannot transmit and receive intelligence. Enter SiRRAN Communications, another stakeholder at the proof of concept test in Arizona.

“We often forget that without network access, we’re blind,” said SiRRAN’s Director of Sales Mark Briggs. “Our technology brings that cell network to anywhere that it is needed.”

Briggs describes this technology as a portable, battery powered cell network—a network in a box. It creates a local, closed network that any agent within range can access to communicate and record intelligence. The unit provides local communication in areas where there is no coverage, and if there is no way to access the communications grid, it captures intelligence and transmits it to the larger repository as soon as it finds a signal.

The lesson here is not just that FIST is a workable system to satisfy the mission needs of America’s border security and law enforcement professionals. It’s also that the answer to the communications challenges along the border will not come in the form of $1 billion worth of cell towers built under DHS management. If it were, we would have solved this problem by now. The fact that we have not reveals that the ultimate solution is necessarily complex and multifaceted while also being easy to use and in-line with realistic operating budgets.

Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is that there are real tools that our Border Patrol and law enforcement officers could be using. Right now there are thousands of men and women on the border, and until we give them the tools they need to do their job, it will make border security and the safety of our frontline heroes difficult to sustain.

these are some of the styles of Bluetooth earpieces

Bluetooth technology has been designed for many different purposes and situations. Consequently, when people want to buy a bluetooth ear piece for a specific situation, there are some things that they will need to consider. Specifically, based on their specific situation and circumstances, they will need to review the best style of bluetooth earpiece that is available on the market today. Since there are different styles that have been made for for one or more reasons, it’s important for each individual to do their research to see which style can accommodate their needs. It is also important to note that the kind the person purchases must be comfortable so that they can wear them for an extended period of time and they fit the devices that they will be used for. Listed below are three of the bluetooth styles that’s currently offered by manufactures all over the United States and abroad.

Bluetooth ear pieces for Mobile Phones

Most people take their mobile phones wherever they go. To work, school, church, parties and all kinds of other events that they may attend. Because these phones have become commonplace in many environments, people have a need to handle them and talk to others when their hands are free. This is also a great reason for individuals who work in certain settings to make sure that they are buying the right style that will best fit their needs.

One specific style that some people may choose is the ear cradle style of headphone. In fact, this kind of bluetooth earpiece is idea for people who want to spend their time working out and performing all kinds of other extracurricular activities. People are also encouraged to buy this kind of style because they may be driving when they receive a telephone call from a family member. Or, they may be working at the job typing a memo or walking around taking care of wide hosts of other kinds of activities that are not conducive to holding a mobile phone by hand to the ear. Whatever the situation, this style of bluetooth earpiece technology is great for many different situations and purposes.

Bluetooth ear pieces and Headsets for Music Lovers

In addition to the cradle style for mobile phones, people should also review other styles as well. One specific style that is also functional in many different settings is the DJ over the head headphones. This style has been designed for the serious music lovers, especially those who can appreciate making distinctions in sounds and beats that come from specific musical instruments like the bass, violin, trumpet and other popular instruments. For those who like and prefer this kind, they will also find that this is one of the best styles for keeping out outside noises that normally interfere with a person’s overall entertainment experience. Also, because they are wireless, they are great for people who like to stay mobile during the day instead of remaining in a sedentary position.

Bluetooth Ear Pieces for IPODs

In some situations, people may want to use bluetooth technology with their IPODs. Therefore, they should consider buying an additional popular style bluetooth earpiece technology. This style is known to be very popular, specifically because it is similar to an actual earbud. An ear bud is also another excellent choice for people who want to remain both active and hassle free. Though this is a great choice for people who like to remain mobile in a wide variety of different situations, one of its main draw backs is that they tend to fall out of the individuals ear. Which means, they can also be lost since it lacks additional support to keep them stabilized inside the ear.

How 2 Way Radios Helped A Group Of Festival Volunteers Against Natures Fury

Entrusting security of a large bluegrass music festival to volunteers is an act of faith; handing us 2 way radio equipment gave us the power and connection to do the job right. For the price of a few day shifts and at least one overnight watch until sunrise, we security volunteers got to enjoy some of the finest concerts and classes in a beautiful mountain setting. When disaster struck — twice — we didn’t need extensive training to be effective, just a fully charged battery.

First Challenge: Nice Guys Slide Off Dirt Roads

The first disaster was minor but challenging. A courteous pickup truck driver had moved over for oncoming traffic on a hillside dirt access road and slid off the edge just enough to get stuck. Calling for a tow was a perfect use of our radios that otherwise would have required sending a runner back down to the main tent. As the tow truck positioned itself to lift the truck back onto the road, we found a second radio use: solving problems by committee remotely!

Since no one outranked another, we wound up addressing the problem from several angles: “the road is blocked,” said one, “halt the cars coming up.” “I don’t have authority to control traffic,” said another. “There’s no turning around, so they’ll all be stuck if you don’t,” said the first. In the end, with quick radio communication instead of breathless runners doing a relay, a dead-end country traffic jam was avoided and the truck was rescued.

Second Challenge: Set Them Up and Blow Them Down

As if that wasn’t excitement enough, on another festival day a mountain thunderstorm descended with hurricane-force winds. By the time the blow was over, camping and performance tents were scattered and destroyed, the entire area was drenched, and nearly every portable restroom was knocked over. The practical people running the event organized crews, called the restroom vendor, and went about setting everything right.

The festival proceeded with minimal interruption from the storm: the radios not only made recovery possible, but made getting back on track effective and timely. It’s a good thing we had plenty of radios and volunteers to coordinate the activities. We got updated information to performers and attendees, and responded to issues requiring executive decisions or medical assistance as quickly as possible.

In addition to keeping the festival going, ensuring everyone’s health and safety, and streamlining decision processes, using radio gave the festival a professional appearance with a large contingent of lightly trained volunteers. Event attendees could enjoy their week of mountain music and head home feeling that the organizers had great acts on stage and a team they could trust behind the scenes. Our teamwork contributed to a solid event reputation and growing attendance numbers year to year.

In a remote area where cell phone users had to find a good spot to get a connection, 2 way radios were the perfect solution for making festival volunteers efficient and effective. Bad luck and bad weather was no match for a dedicated crew that could work together over the airwaves. For the lonely overnight watchman role, the radio was a reassurance that he wasn’t alone watching over the festival fans under the starry mountain sky.

Audiology Affiliates Explains the Process of Selecting the Right Hearing Aid Model

When someone start talking about hearing aids and hearing loss, most people run a mile, but as this article shows choosing the right hearing aid can make a difference, using the 4 factors framework listed below. 

Modern hearing aid technology is capable of treating just about any type and degree of hearing loss. This has resulted in a proliferation of hearing aid models that can feel overwhelming to the consumer. Navigating through the maze of hearing aid manufacturers, styles, and advanced functionality can seem like an insurmountable task.

That’s why Audiology Affiliates has release a helpful guide titled How to Pick the Right Hearing Aid Model. The guide describes how all hearing aids work, what makes the various models different, and how to choose among the many options by considering four factors.

The four factors to consider are style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price. These four factors cover cosmetic preference, issues with handling and care, specific functionality based on the type of hearing loss, and financial concerns. With all the hearing aid models available, there is likely a model that will meet all of the criteria for each individual patient.

After reviewing the four factors, the patient is ready to work with a hearing specialist to find the ideal model. The hearing specialist serves three very important roles. One, they can test the patient’s hearing to determine the type and degree of hearing loss. Two, they can guide the patient toward the optimal hearing aid model. And three, once the hearing aid is selected, they can program the hearing aid to amplify sound according to the exact characteristics of the patient’s hearing loss.

Powering Communications Throughout the UK