Results tagged “leland purvis”

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 22.16.11.pngHey, do you need the perfect* gift? How about a signed copy of Leland Purvis and my NYT Best Seller The Imitation Game, delivered to your doorstep by someone in a great looking uniform?

Nicola's Books here in Ann Arbor has you covered. Just click right here and you'll be all set for Father's Day, a birthday, or a treat for yourself. You provide the lover of science and/or comics and/or history and we'll do the rest.

*Full disclosure: It's not the perfect anything, but I'm really proud of this book**, and proud to work with Lynn at Nicola's to make this happen.

**You can learn more about the book on my site, read some of the reviews, and download a sample as well.

I'm in town for the MoCCA Arts Festival (signings on both Saturday and Sunday...more details here), and the newspaper of record has welcomed me with this.

Well, not just me, and Batman and Raina Telgemeier are (still) the champions. But it's nice to see Turing on the list of heroes people want to read about.

Back again with a bit more audio in anticipation of the release of our The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decodedwhich comes out Tuesday (March 22). Here are two of my favorite pieces:

If tomorrow you find yourself wondering about the basis for the omnipresent sound effects that run through, over, and under the panels in the second section of the book, wonder no more: Here's what a Bombe sounds like, courtesy of John Harper & the Bombe Rebuild Project team and Graham Ellsbury. Leland liked this one a lot, and found it useful too. As I recall, he tweaked my interpretation of how to render that in text-based sound effects to...well, good effect!

Speaking of sounds, in our book, Turing huffs and groans through many miles as a long distance runner. He was good at it--nigh unto Olympic class, in fact--but not elegant. (This was true of many aspects of his life; he did remarkable things, but unlike some geniuses, Turing didn't always make it look easy.) Here's Alan Garner, talking about running with Turing.

This bit of audio comes courtesy of Wisconsin Public Radio's "To the Best of Our Knowledge." I did a short comic for them a few years ago along with the fantastic artist Natalie Nourigat, that featured bats, philosophers, Stevie Wonder, Dr. Doolittle, and of course, Alan Turing...

It was as much fun as it sounds!
Leland Purvis and my The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded comes out Tuesday, March 22, and I'm excited by that. To warm you up for it, here are two pieces of audio memoir I enjoyed. I'll offer two more that I like even better tomorrow.

Both of these are courtesy of the British Library's "Voices of Science" series. As you can imagine, I relied a great deal on British sources for the research behind Turing, and am grateful that there were so many fine ones to work from.

Libraries really are the best thing since slice bread.

(Note that public libraries predate sliced bread by almost 100 years, and university libraries are even older. Yeah, I looked it up.)
"We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done."

Alan M. Turing (1950). "Computing machinery and intelligence." Mind, 59, 433-460.

If only that future had included many more years of Turing, and the products of his genius.

Posted in honor of The Imitation Game by Leland Purvis and it at, which concludes its online run today. Thanks to Leland most of all, but also Irene Gallo and Chris Lough at, Joan Hilty, Nick Abadzis, and everyone else who made this possible. 
"A British woman officer or non-commissioned officer can -- and often does -- give orders to a man private. The men obey smartly and know it is no shame. For British women have proven themselves in this way. They have stuck to their posts near burning ammunition dumps, delivered messages afoot after their motorcycles have been blasted from under them. They have pulled aviators from burning planes. They have died at gun posts and as they fell another girl has stepped directly into the position and "carried on." There is not a single record in this war of any British woman in uniformed service quitting her post or failing to do her duty under fire.

"Now you understand why British soldiers respect the women in uniform. They have won the right to the utmost respect. When you see a girl in khaki or air-force blue with a bit of ribbon on her tunic -- remember she didn't get it for knitting more socks than anyone else in Ipswich."

Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942, issued by the United States War Department in 1942, published by the Bodelian Library, University of Oxford, in 2004 (ISBN 1-85124-085-3)

"[W]e are not interested in the fact that the brain has the consistency of cold porridge. We don't want to say 'This machine's quite hard, so it isn't a brain, so it can't think.'"

Alan Turing (1952). "Can automatic calculating machines be said to think?" BBC Third Programme, 14 and 23 Jan. 1952, discussion between M.H.A. Newman, Alan M. Turing, Sir Geoffrey Jefferson, and R.B. Braithwaite.

"Don't be misled by the British tendency to be soft-spoken and polite. If they need to be, they can be plenty tough. The English language didn't spread across the oceans and over the mountains and jungles and swamps of the world because these people were panty-waists."

Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942, issued by the United States War Department in 1942, published by the Bodelian Library, University of Oxford, in 2004 (ISBN 1-85124-085-3)

Turing at the time of his election to Fellowsh...

Turing at the time of his election to Fellowship of the Royal Society. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At last! The book was first announced in Publishers Weekly a...while ago. After a whole lot of work, Leland Purvis and my book about Alan Turing has begun to appear at Here's our pitch from way back when:

"The atomic bomb shortened WWII by months, and the whole world knew it, instantly. The code-breakers at Bletchley Park shortened the war by years, but everyone who worked there remained anonymous and everything they did remained secret...for decades. As Winston Churchill put it, Bletchley people were the geese that 'laid the golden egg, but never cackled.'

Flying at the head of Churchill's flock was Alan Turing, the mathematician who cracked the German Enigma code. That alone would be enough to secure his place in history, but before the war he launched modern computer science via his creation of the Universal Turing Machine and after the war he created what is now known as the Turing Test, a benchmark for artificial intelligence. He called his test 'The Imitation Game'.

He was also openly gay in a time and place where gays were treated criminally. And not just metaphorically -- he killed himself with a cyanide-tainted apple after being convicted of homosexuality and forced to undergo estrogen treatment.

Our world is one of computers and secure communications, and Turing's work is at the heart of both. He was an eccentric genius, an Olympic-class runner, a witty and clear communicator about complicated ideas, and open and honest to a fault. The secret he kept to safeguard his country could have saved him; the secret he refused to keep to save himself meant his destruction at the hands of that same country."

We hope you enjoy it! Here's that link again: The Imitation Game.

(I scheduled this post to appear at 10:01:01 local time. Binary and prime: I hope Alan Turing would approve.)

My social media advisor (a.k.a. my wife) says nobody likes a blizzard of tweets, and even if they did I'd be too forgetful to post these and am too lazy to configure auto-tweeting software to schedule them.

And, some of these are no doubt too long...I'm also too lazy to count to 140.

So, here is a large batch of pseudo-tweets in the form of a single blog post. Yeah, a blog. Very retro, which is appropriate since this happened a while back. But now all -- okay, some -- can be revealed...

19May2013: Secret research trip commences. Plan is to post these as Time Delayed Tweets (TDTs) upon successful completion...

TDT/May19-20: Best (not recommended) way to beat jet lag: Board 10:10pm flight at 11:40pm, sit on runway for 4.5 hrs, get off plane, try again next day.

TDT/May19-20: BTW, the above technique assumes you don't do more than doze for an hour or so for the duration.

TDT/May20-21: Took 4 tries to get to Atlanta, on to London 1st try after that. Yesterday: not best day ever. Today: still not great, but not worst.

TDT/May21: Arrived in England, took train to Cambridge, walked from station to room to clear our heads.

TDT/May21: Leland Myrick meets us at end of (our) road. Great to see him, for all the reasons you'd imagine.

TDT/May21: Dinner at former student haunt of our Research Subject.

TDT/May21: The Tickell Inn: Higher end than usual student bar. Doesn't smell like filthy rag soaked in stale beer, for one thing.

TDT/May21-22: Accommodations not luxurious; mattress is a good simulation of thing of same name...

TDT/May21-22: ...but totally fine, and no apparent jet lag. See above for brilliant technique!

TDT/May22: Into the archive. 100s of photos taken, dozens of priceless things held in bare hands. #gobsmacked

TDT/May22: Ruined forever, thanks to friends Malcolm & Anna and CAMRA beer, cider, and perry festival. Weak, unsubtle, and bad U.S. cider will never do now.

TDT/May22: Also, good cider is strong. #typinghardafterhomanypintswasthat?

TDT/May23: More archives. Not all end up being on task, but worth it because...ho-hum, there's A.A. Milne's handwritten m.s. for Winnie the Pooh.

TDT/May23: Ho-hum, Newton's library. As in Isaac Newton's personal library. Right there. I'm now about to pull a book off the shelf. With my own hands.

TDT/May23: Title in question: "The General Delusions of Christians, Touching the Ways of God's Revealing Himself to, and by the Prophets

TDT/May23: "...Evinc'd from Scripture and Primitive Antiquity...

TDT/May23: "...and Many Principles of Scoffers, Athiests, Sadducees, and Wild Enthusiasts Re-futed...

TDT/May23: "...The Whole Adapted, As Much As Possible, to the Meanest Capacity." 

TDT/May23: Oh, Isaac Newton -- you'd have loved the National Enquirer! (And it would love you.)

TDT/May23: Apparently you can tell if Newton actually read a particular book because he turned down corners. The librarian in me blanches, but...

TDT/May23: ...there's the fold, and I'm delighted.

TDT/May23: Into Inner Sanctum. 100s more pictures taken with a stupefied look on my face. #whatamIdoinghere? 

TDT/May23: More than one picture of Feynman on display in Inner Sanctum. #heh

TDT/May23: Appropriate, since Feynman (or rather, Feynman) is in part the reason we're here.

TDT/May23: Into Innermost Inner Sanctum. Wonderful stories (most on deep background) told in a #whatamIdoinghere? setting.

TDT/May23: Great Indian to end the day. Cobra Beer = fantastic. Malcolm & Anna = more fantastic.

TDT/May24: Back to archive and a few 100 more photos, incl. early drafts of The Book. 

TDT/May24: Re. The Book's early drafts: Calista/@01FirstSecond, when time comes, please don't edit me w/chapter-by-chapter letter grades. #kthx

TDT/May24: Run in rain through Cambridge. Can't sneak in for Trinity Court run. Got lost, found way back again. Almost hit by 3 different cars.

TDT/May24: Had a great time, IOW.

TDT/May24: Drinks in Fellows Club before dinner. Malcolm pronounces wine not quite ready. Leland, Kat and I think it's fantastic. #lowbrows

TDT/May24: Dined at Trinity High Table. #whatamIdoinghere? Tried not to think of Hogwarts every few seconds. #failed

TDT/May24: They eat fast at High Table. (Hypothesis 1: To get out of there and leave students to own revels.) (Hypothesis 2: To get to the cheese and port.)

TDT/May24: Cheese and port after dinner -- by candle light -- with Fellows. #whatamIdoinghere?

TDT/May24: Learn that Trinity College has 40-50 year supply of port.

TDT/May24: Given consumption this evening...w/only 7 of us...I imagine subterranean reservoir size of Lake Huron.

TDT/May24: Rain clears after dinner for our stroll through Trinity Court. Magical, and gratified to hear our host is not jaded in the least.

TDT/May25: Work part done. (And per above what a horrible load and burden it was!) Traveling to Wales.

TDT/May25: Caerdydd Castell. Wisgi Cymreig. Da.

TDT/May25: Also, and this time in English: great dinner in Splot. (#notmakingthatup!) Featured 80s techno dance club soundtrack, complete w/New Order.

TDT/May26: Tintern Abbey is not-shockingly sublime. Lovely weather too...

TDT/May26: any impression that after rocky start this trip has been full of good luck is correct.

TDT/May27: London. Churchill's underground War Rooms. Also sublime, but entirely unlike Tintern. (I know, shocking!) #ACTIONTHISDAY

TST/May27: #ACTIONTHISDAY reminds me that "The Imitation Game", by me and Leland Purvis, is almost done. Look for it soon via @tordotcom.

TDT/May28: Onward to Down House to complete our Great Scientists tour.

TDT/May28: The grounds here are even more beautiful than Inner Inner Sanctum's, and the stuff inside is much older. We don't touch it, either.

TDT/May28: Fleshed out closing sequence for the FutureBook™ on Darwin's Sandwalk. #thankyouCharlesDarwin

TDT/May29: Flying home in biz class, thanks to amazing help from amazing friend. Upside: biz class. (#whatamIdoinghere?) Downside: future travel ruined forever.

TDT/May29: 804 miles from home, which is less than the number of reference photos I took on the device I'm also using to write with.

TDT/May29: Signing off from the lap of luxury, in an age of wonders.

Nov13: Did I forget to reveal the subject of FutureBook™? Sorry. (#notreallysorry) More to be revealed tomorrow, via @01FirstSecond and @BoingBoing/

Nov13 ± N months: #writingwritingwritingwritingwriting. Also, #writingwritingwritingwritingwriting.
Leland Purvis does the art, I do the writing, you do the reading. It's great when things are simple like that.

What are the odds?

Just recently I realized that the next two books to come out (written by me, anyway) are both being drawn -- make that beautifully drawn -- by artists named Leland: Myrick for Feynman and Purvis for The Imitation Game.

And that got me to wondering what the odds were of that happening, since these are the only two Leland's I've ever known in my life.

It turns out you can estimate the odds, via! So, at ~0.025% of the US male population being named Leland, the odds are about one in ten million. And that doesn't even take into account that these Lelands had to artists. If you factor that in via NEA figures, where you learn that about 1% of the population are artists, the odds drop to 1 in a 1,000,000,000.

That's how lucky I am.

Updated (28 Jan 2011): A friend commented that I may have erred, and that the Birthday Paradox may apply here. I'm not sure, since (a) unlike birthdays, first names aren't equally/evenly distributed throughout the population, and (b) I'm interested in a specific name coming up twice (Leland/Leland) as opposed to any possible name being duplicated (name_X/name_X).

Regardless, I think he was right to point out that I shouldn't have factored in the "1% of the population = artists" stat. I should have assumed -- for lack of any information to the contrary -- that the artist population reflects the general population in terms of name distribution. (Even though he noted, correctly, that first name and profession are probably not independent variables.) And since artists are the only population that matters in terms of the calculation, that backs the one-in-a-billion down to the original 1/10,000,000. So I'm still quite lucky.


Contents © Jim Ottaviani. Contact Jim via the address in "About Me" above for permissions.  
Site design based on Jim Ramsey's "Mid-Century" template for Movable Type.