Forensic Linguistics: Finding a Murderer Through Text Messages

Mal­colm Coulthard teach­es Foren­sic Lin­guis­tics at Aston Uni­ver­si­ty, Birm­ing­ham. And, in case you’re won­der­ing what this means, foren­sic lin­guis­tics is all about “tak­ing lin­guis­tic knowl­edge, meth­ods and insight, and apply­ing these to the foren­sic con­text of law, inves­ti­ga­tion, tri­al, pun­ish­ment and reha­bil­i­ta­tion.” Or solv­ing crimes, in short.  This may sound rather dry, but when Pro­fes­sor Coulthard talks about his work we get a fas­ci­nat­ing glimpse into what foren­sic lin­guis­tics looks like in prac­tice. In the video above, an excerpt from his inau­gur­al lec­ture at Aston Uni­ver­si­ty (watch the full ver­sion here), Coulthard explains how the analy­sis of text mes­sages helped solve a recent mur­der case. This puts him on the new fron­tier of police work.

Mean­while, in an inter­view with the BBC, Tim Grant, Deputy Direc­tor at the Cen­tre for Foren­sic Lin­guis­tics at Aston Uni­ver­si­ty, explains how his team’s analy­sis of doc­u­ments and writ­ings can help police with their inves­ti­ga­tions. The video does not work in all regions, but there is a tran­script below the video.

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

Jackson Pollock 51: Short Film Captures the Painter Creating Abstract Expressionist Art

In the sum­mer of 1950, Hans Namuth approached Jack­son Pol­lock and asked the abstract expres­sion­ist painter if he could pho­to­graph him in his stu­dio, work­ing with his “drip” tech­nique of paint­ing. When Namuth arrived, he found:

A drip­ping wet can­vas cov­ered the entire floor. Blind­ing shafts of sun­light hit the wet can­vas, mak­ing its sur­face hard to see. There was com­plete silence.… Pol­lock looked at the paint­ing. Then unex­pect­ed­ly, he picked up can and paint­brush and start­ed to move around the can­vas. It was as if he sud­den­ly real­ized the paint­ing was not fin­ished. His move­ments, slow at first, grad­u­al­ly became faster and more dance­like as he flung black, white and rust-col­ored paint onto the can­vas.

The images from this shoot “helped trans­form Pol­lock from a tal­ent­ed, cranky lon­er into the first media-dri­ven super­star of Amer­i­can con­tem­po­rary art, the jeans-clad, chain-smok­ing poster boy of abstract expres­sion­ism,” one crit­ic lat­er wrote in The Wash­ing­ton Post.

But Namuth was­n’t sat­is­fied that he had real­ly cap­tured the essence of Pol­lock­’s work. He want­ed to cap­ture Pol­lock in motion and col­or, to focus on the painter and paint­ing alike.

Above, you can watch the result of Namuth’s sec­ond effort. The ten-minute film, sim­ply called Jack­son Pol­lock 51 (the 51 being short for 1951), lets you see Pol­lock paint­ing from a unique angle — through glass. The film achieved Namuth’s aes­thet­ic goals, but it came at a price. Appar­ent­ly the film­ing taxed Pol­lock emo­tion­al­ly, and by the evening, the painter decid­ed to pour him­self some bour­bon, his first drink in two years. A blowout argu­ment fol­lowed; Pol­lock nev­er stopped drink­ing again; and it was down­hill from there…

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

MoMA Puts Pol­lock, Rothko & de Koon­ing on Your iPad

John Berg­er’s Ways of See­ing: The TV Series

Steven Spiel­berg Admits Swal­low­ing a Tran­sis­tor to Andy Warhol

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James Taylor Gives Free Acoustic Guitar Lessons Online

James Tay­lor has start­ed to offer free gui­tar lessons online. He is, after all, your Handy Man.

Now let’s get this out of the way: The jury is still out on whether these video lessons will offer seri­ous guid­ance or not. The first video offers a some­what detailed primer on … car­ing for your fin­ger­nails. And it comes cou­pled with a short les­son, “Lit­tle Wheel” in e minor, that is decid­ed­ly short on ped­a­gogy. More lessons will be com­ing soon though. Sign up for JT’s email list, and they’ll ping you when new videos are post­ed online.

What to do in the mean­time? Well, you can always turn to YouTube, which fea­tures a sur­pris­ing num­ber of free video tuto­ri­als. If you sift around, you can learn how to buy an acoustic gui­tar, tune it by ear, play stum pat­ternsfin­ger pick, play var­i­ous chord pro­gres­sions and so on. For more lessons, you can start rum­mag­ing around three help­ful YouTube chan­nels: Rock­on­Good­Peo­pleWatch & Learn Music Lessons;  and Mar­tyZ­songs. They pro­vide lots of free tuto­ri­als (while also try­ing to pro­mote paid prod­ucts on the side).

via metafil­ter

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OK Go Covers The Muppet Show Theme Song (Stream New Album Online)

Today marks the offi­cial release of The Green Album, a new com­pi­la­tion fea­tur­ing con­tem­po­rary rock and indie artists cov­er­ing clas­sic Mup­pets songs. OK Go, Weez­er, Andrew Bird, and My Morn­ing Jack­et, they all con­tribute to the album. And, thanks to the good peo­ple at NPR, you can stream the com­plete album online for the remain­der of the week.

Mean­while, if you want to indulge in some more Mup­pet nos­tal­gia, don’t miss the Mup­pet ren­di­tion of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, or Jim Henson’s 15 Minute Primer on Pup­pet Mak­ing from 1969.

Jerry Leiber, Writer of Enduring Rock Classics, on What’s My Line? (1958)

Jer­ry Leiber died yes­ter­day at the age of 78. Leiber was­n’t a house­hold name dur­ing most of his career. But his com­po­si­tions are known world­wide. Along with his part­ner Mike Stoller, Leiber wrote “Hound Dog,” “Jail­house Rock,” and “Treat Me Nice,” among oth­ers songs made famous by Elvis Pres­ley dur­ing the 1950s. They also com­posed “Stand by Me,” a tune sung by Ben E. King in 1960, then cov­ered count­less times. (We par­tic­u­lar­ly like this ver­sion.)

The clip above takes you back to 1958, when Leiber and Stoller appeared on the long-run­ning tele­vi­sion show What’s My Line?. If you’ve watched some of these vin­tage episodes, you’ll know that the pan­el usu­al­ly wore blind­folds lest the iden­ti­ty of the guest be imme­di­ate­ly revealed. But there was no risk of that in the case of Leiber & Stoller. And, by the way, it’s worth men­tion­ing that Vin­cent Price made a spe­cial guest appear­ance on the pan­el that night.

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The Guardian’s Guide to Opera (and Free Opera Until Sept. 12)

“Opera is thrilling, vibrant, ver­sa­tile – and thriv­ing. In fact, there has nev­er been a bet­ter time to fall in love with the art form” — Simon Cal­low.

This week­end, The Guardian pub­lished a handy mul­ti­me­dia guide called “How to Enjoy Opera,” and it coin­cid­ed with the stream­ing of a live per­for­mance of Ben­jamin Brit­ten’s The Turn of the Screw. If you missed it (we men­tioned it on our Twit­ter stream), you can still watch the per­for­mance online (and for free) until Sep­tem­ber 12th. In the mean­time, we would hearti­ly rec­om­mend spend­ing time with The Guardian’s accom­pa­ny­ing primers. They start you off with a list of The Top 50 Operas from 1607 to 1978, and then give you a tuto­r­i­al on how to sur­vive your first opera; a look at opera in the mod­ern age; and Simon Cal­low’s take on why “opera has nev­er been more alive.” All worth a look…

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Klaus Nomi: The Bril­liant Per­for­mance of a Dying Man

Bill Bai­ley’s Remark­able Guide to the Orches­tra

All the Great Operas in 10 Min­utes

Learn Ital­ian for Free. Part of Learn 40 Lan­guages for Free

Destino: The Salvador Dalí — Disney Collaboration 57 Years in the Making

In 2003, Dis­ney released a six minute ani­mat­ed short called Des­ti­no, final­ly bring­ing clo­sure to a project that began 57 years ear­li­er. The sto­ry of Des­ti­no goes way back to 1946 when two very dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al icons, Walt Dis­ney and Sal­vador Dalí, decid­ed to work togeth­er on a car­toon. The film was sto­ry­board­ed by Dalí and John Hench (a Dis­ney stu­dio artist) over the course of eight months. But then, rather abrupt­ly, the project was tabled when The Walt Dis­ney Com­pa­ny ran into finan­cial prob­lems.

Now fast for­ward 53 years, to 1999. While work­ing on Fan­ta­sia 2000, Walt Dis­ney’s nephew redis­cov­ered the project and 17 sec­onds of orig­i­nal ani­ma­tion. Using this clip and the orig­i­nal sto­ry­boards, 25 ani­ma­tors brought the film to com­ple­tion and pre­miered it at The New York Film Fes­ti­val in 2003. Des­ti­no would receive an Oscar nom­i­na­tion for the Best Ani­mat­ed Short Film, among oth­er plau­dits from crit­ics.

The clip runs 6+ min­utes and fea­tures music writ­ten by Mex­i­can song­writer Arman­do Dominguez and per­formed by Dora Luz. You will find the video housed in the Ani­ma­tion sec­tion of our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online, which now lists 420 films.

NPR has more on the Dis­ney-Dalí col­lab­o­ra­tion. Lis­ten to their audio report here. H/T Con­stance for the good tip on our Face­book page.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sal­vador Dali Appears on “What’s My Line? in 1952

Alfred Hitch­cock Recalls Work­ing with Sal­vador Dali on Spell­bound

Un Chien Andalou: Revis­it­ing Buñuel and Dalí’s Sur­re­al­ist Film

How Walt Dis­ney Car­toons Are Made

Walt Dis­ney Presents the Super Car­toon Cam­era

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The MIT “Checker Shadow Illusion” Brought to Life

The video you’re watch­ing is a real-life demon­stra­tion of an opti­cal illu­sion devel­oped in 1995 by Edward Adel­son, a pro­fes­sor in MIT’s Depart­ment of Brain and Cog­ni­tive Sci­ences. The Check­er Shad­ow Illu­sion, as Adel­son calls it, shows that our “visu­al sys­tem is not very good at being a phys­i­cal light meter.” But more impor­tant­ly, the opti­cal illu­sion offers impor­tant insight into how our visu­al sys­tem tries to break down “image infor­ma­tion into mean­ing­ful com­po­nents, and there­by per­ceive the nature of the objects in view.” Adel­son’s full expla­na­tion of the illu­sion and what it reveals appears below the jump (or here). H/T 3 Quarks Dai­ly


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.