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Burn J.D. Burn

from Yahoo! News

Woman with only known recording of J.D. Salinger’s voice to have tape burned

by Brendan Morrow

J.D. Salinger
J.D. Salinger Holly Ramer / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The potentially last chance to hear J.D. Salinger’s voice on tape is set to go up in smoke, according to the woman who recorded him.

Betty Eppes is in possession of the “only known recording” of author J.D. Salinger’s voice, but she is promising to never release it and has even updated her will to say it will “be placed, along with her body, in the crematorium,” Bloomberg reports.

Eppes was a reporter for the Baton Rouge Advocate in 1980 when she managed to land an interview with the famously reclusive Catcher in the Rye author, who at that point hadn’t given one in nearly three decades. But as Bloomberg explains, Eppes described herself to him as a novelist, not a journalist, and she didn’t tell him she would be taping their conversation using a recorder she had hidden in her sleeve.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! ]

Posted on July 31, 2021 by Editor

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Nuggetopia

from The Wall Street Journal

We Live in a Golden Age of Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets

The ‘fun nugget’ boomlet taught makers to use fewer spikes, leave room for breading; now, perfecting Baby Yoda’s ears

By Ellen Byron

If Mark Tolbert could redesign his company’s Tyrannosaurus rex chicken nugget, he would make the neck slightly slimmer and the head a bit bigger.

“The head slopes down a little too much,” says Mr. Tolbert, a senior manager of the innovation center at Perdue Farms in Salisbury, Md. “But put some ketchup on it and you can’t see it.”

Mr. Tolbert speaks wistfully of the Triceratops, which consistently ranks as one of the most popular dinosaurs but so far eludes nugget-makers. “We’d never be able to make a chicken nugget with three horns coming out of its head,” Mr. Tolbert says. “That’s a three-dimensional shape.”

Major food companies can see a dinosaur-nugget boomlet. Parents buy them to motivate picky youngsters to clean their plates. Young adults eat them to spark childhood nostalgia.

And rising sales during the pandemic have prompted companies to consider what other nugget shapes might catch on—beyond the Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus and Brontosaurus.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on July 30, 2021 by Editor

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Jet Pack Is Back!

from The Sun

LAX ‘Jet Pack guy’ spotted AGAIN flying 15 miles from Los Angeles airport at 5,000 feet as FAA and FBI investigates

by Catherina Gioino

A man in a possible jet pack was seen flying about 5,000ft in the air, similar to a sighting from last year like in this photoCredit: Instagram / @slingpilotacademy

A MAN on a possible jet pack was spotted flying 15 miles from Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday – nearly a year since a spate of previous sightings sparked panic.

The man – who has been dubbed “jet pack guy” – was seen by a Boeing 747 pilot looking similar to Marvel action star Iron Man as he soared at 5,000ft.

“A Boeing 747 pilot reported seeing an object that might have resembled a jet pack 15 miles east of LAX at 5,000ft altitude,” the Federal Aviation Administration told CBS.

“Out of an abundance of caution, air traffic controllers alerted other pilots in the vicinity.”

[ click to continue reading at The Sun ]

Posted on July 29, 2021 by Editor

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Ron Popeil Gone

from NBC News

Infomercial king Ron Popeil dies at 86

Ronco’s Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ, and Popeil’s late-night infomercials pitching it, helped inscribe the phrase “set it and forget it” into the American lexicon.

Ron Popeil, the inventor and infomercial icon whose kitchen and direct-to-consumer products generated billions of dollars in U.S. sales, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Popeil “lived his life to the fullest and passed in the loving arms of his family,” a statement from his spokesperson said.

No cause of death was provided.

Popeil first appeared on television in 1959 in an infomercial for the Chop-o-Matic, and his company, Ronco, founded by his father, eventually went on to produce products including Hair in a Can and Pocket Fisherman.

[ click to continue reading at NBC News ]

Posted on July 28, 2021 by Editor

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Bourdain and a Boner

from Vanity Fair

Bourdain, My Camera, and Me

The photographer behind one of the most indelible images taken of the late chef remembers their friendship—and the way it evolved over time.

BY MELANIE DUNEA

The bone kept sliding out of my hand. I had picked it up at Ottomanelli & Sons on Bleecker Street, overloaded and teetering at the counter, balancing my cameras, my tripod bag, while I explained to the guy what I needed.

“The biggest you’ve got,” I said.

He wrapped it up in paper and I was on my way.

The moment I walked out of the butcher shop I realized how slippery and wide the bone was. I could have splurged for a taxi, or asked for an assistant to meet me, but I was still in the business of proving myself to the world by trying to do it all myself. Besides, I was so close, not far at all to the photo studio in the West Village, and look, all I had to do was place a thumb under the masking tape on the butcher paper and I could hold it all together.

This day, I knew I had to be early. Tony Bourdain might have been known as a badass and truth speaker but he was always early. I was shooting for My Last Supper, my first solo book. Tony’s would be one of 50 images in a project meant to mark a moment in history. All around me, chefs were coming out of the kitchen and becoming hot-shit celebs. I would ask each of them the same six questions and then photograph them. I had imposed no rules upon myself for this project, no must-dos. This was a relief from executing clients’ and art directors’ visions. I only wanted to push myself creatively. My wish was that each photograph reflected who the chef was at the moment they stood in front of me.

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Posted on July 27, 2021 by Editor

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Celebrating Sublime

from San Jose Mercury News

‘Sublime’ at 25: Remembering Bradley Nowell and the SoCal band’s massive hit album

The album sold over 18 million copies worldwide and spawned hit singles including “What I Got,” “Santeria” and “Wrong Way.”

By KELLI SKYE FADROSKI

Long Beach band Sublime released its third album, a self-titled effort, that featured hits like “Wrong Way,” “Santaria” and “What I Got,” on July 30, 1996 through MCA. (Image courtesy of Sublime)
Long Beach band Sublime released its third album, a self-titled effort, that featured hits like “Wrong Way,” “Santaria” and “What I Got,” on July 30, 1996 through MCA. (Image courtesy of Sublime)


On July 30, 1996, Sublime released its self-titled mainstream debut on MCA Records.

Although the Long Beach band had already put out two independent albums prior to this one, “Sublime” was different. It went on to sell over 18 million copies worldwide, spawning several singles including “What I Got,” “Santeria,” “Wrong Way” and “Doin’ Time.” The album was popular on both radio and MTV, thanks to an eclectic sound that intertwined elements of punk, ska, reggae, funk and hip-hop, as well as samples from artists like Bob Marley, George Gershwin, The Specials and The Who.

“I vividly remember sitting with my co-workers at the radio station [KFMA 102.1/FM] in Tuscon, Arizona when we first heard ‘What I Got,’ and we were like, ‘Wow, this is going to be huge,’” former KROQ DJ Ted Stryker said during a recent phone interview. “What did we know? We were a bunch of young idiots, but it was obvious that this band was going to be something great. That band, that album cover, these songs … they are stronger than ever and they still, 25 years later, feel so fresh. It sounds like summer. It sounds like we should be going to the beach. I don’t know if at the time they knew how timeless these songs were going to be.”

For the band and those close to it, Sublime’s breakthrough success also came at a time of great tragedy. Two months before the album was released, 28-year-old vocalist-guitarist Bradley Nowell died of a drug overdose while on tour in San Francisco, leaving behind the band, his wife Troy Dendekker and their 11-month old son, Jakob.

[ click to continue reading at SJ Merc ]

Posted on July 26, 2021 by Editor

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The Maestro of San Francisco

from SF Gate

The curious life of the Bay Area’s 84-year-old bodybuilding rhinestone cowboy artist

by Michelle Robertson

Stills of Maestro Gaxiola from the Criterion Collection. 
Stills of Maestro Gaxiola from the Criterion Collection. Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

In his 84 years, Gerald “The Maestro” Gaxiola has been an artist, a bodybuilder, a philosopher, a writer, a singer/songwriter, a leather worker, a salesman and an aircraft mechanic. 

Above all, he is a Bay Area legend. Gaxiola has lived in Albany for decades, where he became a visible figure thanks to his handmade rhinestone cowboy outfits and “Maestro Day,” a short-lived celebration of art, life and cowboys. 

Gaxiola has not held a day job for nearly five decades. He’s painted an estimated 11,000 works of art, but refuses to sell them. He lives, indubitably, the artist’s life. 

[ click to continue reading at SF Gate ]

Posted on July 25, 2021 by Editor

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Interior People

Posted on July 24, 2021 by Editor

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LouvreHub

from The Observer

The Louvre Is Cracking Down on Pornhub for Turning Classic Art Into Explicit Content

By Helen Holmes

‘Venus of Urbino’ by Tiziano Vecellio at the Gallerie degli Uffizi. Roberto Serra – Iguana Press/Getty Images

Pornhub, one of the most highly visited adult websites in the United States, is reportedly facing legal action from the Louvre museum in Paris and the Uffizi in Florence after debuting a new interactive website and app, “Show Me the Nudes,” that features porn actors re-envisioning classic works of art as jumping off points for sexually explicit content. Pornography is famously difficult to describe, but it could certainly be argued that a clear continuum exists between unclothed Titian muses and 21st century graphic imagery. However, the aforementioned museums are initiating legal action against Pornhub for rights infringements and pushing for the website to take down the content.

“No one has granted authorizations for the operation or use of the art” a spokesperson for the Uffizi told The Daily Beast. “In Italy, the cultural heritage code provides that in order to use images of a museum, compressed works for commercial purposes, it is necessary to have the permission, which regulates the methods and sets the relative fee to be paid. All this obviously if the museum grants the authorization which, for example, would hardly have been issued in this case.” Some of the works featured on the Pornhub website from the Uffizi Gallery include Bacchus by Caravaggio, Spring by Botticelli and Angelica hides from Ruggiero by Giovanni Bilivert.

[ click to continue reading at Observer ]

Posted on July 23, 2021 by Editor

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The Genius of Earl

from PASTE

It Still Stings: My Name Is Earl‘s Incomplete Journey Towards Forgiveness

By Kristen Reid

It Still Stings: <i>My Name Is Earl</i>'s Incomplete Journey Towards Forgiveness

When My Name is Earl was canceled by NBC in 2009 after its fourth season, fans were heartbroken that our final glimpse into Earl Hickey’s life was a simple title card promising “to be continued…” After four years of watching Earl transform his life—and so many others’—it felt like a punch in the gut to see his story end this way.

Starring Jason Lee, My Name is Earl was a show about asking forgiveness and doing what’s right to make up for your past mistakes, no matter how long it’s been. Lee played Hickey, a two-bit criminal with no ambition, no drive, and no motivation to do anything except troll around the fictional Camden County in his El Camino with his equally burned-out brother, leaving a wake of destruction and pissed-off people in their path. But all of this changed when Earl had a particularly brutal wake-up call in the form of a little old lady running him over. Earl, never one to see a win in any way, shape, or form, had just scratched a lotto ticket revealing a $100,000 jackpot. What started as an innocent celebratory dance in the middle of the street led to an extended hospital stay, and while recovering, Earl discovered exactly how he was going to turn his life around.

[ click to continue reading at PASTE ]

Posted on July 22, 2021 by Editor

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Not A Good Year

from AP

US life expectancy in 2020 saw biggest drop since WWII

By MIKE STOBBE

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, public health officials said Wednesday. The decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years.

The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths.

Black life expectancy has not fallen so much in one year since the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression. Health officials have not tracked Hispanic life expectancy for nearly as long, but the 2020 decline was the largest recorded one-year drop.

The abrupt fall is “basically catastrophic,” said Mark Hayward, a University of Texas sociology professor who studies changes in U.S. mortality.

[ click to continue reading at AP ]

Posted on July 21, 2021 by Editor

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Taco No

from CBS News

Taco Bell’s menu hit by nationwide shortages of ingredients

BY KATE GIBSON

The menu at Taco Bell may be a bit limited these days, with the quick-service restaurant chain warning customers that it might not be able to fulfill their current appetite hankerings. 

In an apology offered in an orange banner atop its website, Taco Bell declared: “Sorry if we can’t feed your current crave. Due to national ingredient shortages and delivery delays, we may be out of some items.” 

Those who frequent Taco Bell turned to social media to share their culinary disappointment. 

“Taco Bell has a ‘district-wide shortage of hot sauce…times are tough,” tweeted one patron. “For anyone craving Taco Bell tonight, I’ll save you the drive, they don’t have chicken or beef, national shortage or something. I just ate black beans in a hard shell,” complained another in a separate tweet.

[ click to continue reading at CBS ]

Posted on July 20, 2021 by Editor

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Vidiots Lives in Eagle Rock!

from The LA Times

Beloved video store Vidiots is set to reopen. How Rian Johnson and others are helping

By MARK OLSEN

A man and a woman walk under an Eagle Rock street sign and near a building with a blank marquee.
Vidiots, the long-running L.A. video store, is reopening in Eagle Rock with a restored movie theater. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

When Vidiots, the long-running video store in Santa Monica that had become a cultural cornerstone for the city, closed in 2017, it seemed the end of an era.

Now, on a corner in northeast Los Angeles, Vidiots is on the verge of a new beginning.

Construction is underway at the Eagle Theatre in Eagle Rock for it to become a combination 250-seat movie theater and video store, home to Vidiots’ collection of more than 50,000 titles on DVD, Blu-ray and VHS along with new programming. The project is expected to be completed and the new Vidiots is anticipated to open its doors in spring 2022.

“Even before the pandemic and lockdowns, I think that it is abundantly clear that the need for human interaction around the arts and particularly around film is really paramount to our culture and our sense of health and well-being,” said Maggie Mackay, executive director of the nonprofit Vidiots Foundation.

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Posted on July 19, 2021 by Editor

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‘Big Ass Steamroller’ Cool

from VICE

Police Destroy 1,069 Bitcoin Miners With Big Ass Steamroller In Malaysia

Malaysian authorities did not mess around when they broke up a cryptocurrency mining farm and charged the operators with stealing electricity.

By Andrew Hayward

As Bitcoin’s price surged this spring to a new all-time high, the spotlight shining on its controversial mining process only got brighter. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many other cryptocurrencies use an energy-intensive “proof-of-work” process that makes computers on its decentralized network compete to solve complex mathematical equations to verify a batch of transactions; this makes the network less susceptible to certain attacks, and earns miners crypto rewards.

Given the competitive element in the quest for valuable cryptocurrency, powerful mining rigs—essentially, PCs purpose-built to maximize mining rewards—are the preferred tool of serious crypto miners. They are expensive, and persistent demand and manufacturing delays can mean months-long waits for rigs to be delivered. This week, police in Malaysia crushed 1,069 of them with a steamroller.

[ click to continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on July 16, 2021 by Editor

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Eels

Posted on July 15, 2021 by Editor

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It’s coming…

from VICE

MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule.

A 1972 MIT study predicted that rapid economic growth would lead to societal collapse in the mid 21st century. A new paper shows we’re unfortunately right on schedule.

By Nafeez Ahmed

IMAGE: GETTY 

A remarkable new study by a director at one of the largest accounting firms in the world has found that a famous, decades-old warning from MIT about the risk of industrial civilization collapsing appears to be accurate based on new empirical data. 

As the world looks forward to a rebound in economic growth following the devastation wrought by the pandemic, the research raises urgent questions about the risks of attempting to simply return to the pre-pandemic ‘normal.’

In 1972, a team of MIT scientists got together to study the risks of civilizational collapse. Their system dynamics model published by the Club of Rome identified impending ‘limits to growth’ (LtG) that meant industrial civilization was on track to collapse sometime within the 21st century, due to overexploitation of planetary resources.

The controversial MIT analysis generated heated debate, and was widely derided at the time by pundits who misrepresented its findings and methods. But the analysis has now received stunning vindication from a study written by a senior director at professional services giant KPMG, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms as measured by global revenue.

[ click to continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on July 14, 2021 by Editor

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Casino Twitch

from WIRED

Twitch Streamers Rake in Millions With a Shady Crypto Gambling Boom

The company says it is “closely monitoring gambling content,” but legal experts told WIRED that some promotions may be illegal.

by CECILIA D’ANASTASIO

Illustration of slot machine screens with cryptocurrency symbol
One attorney who specializes in online gambling law says he has recently been fielding lots of questions from US-based Twitch streamers about crypto gambling sites. ILLUSTRATION: SAM WHITNEY; GETTY IMAGES

TYLER NIKNAM WAS getting out of Texas. Niknam, 30, is a top streamer on Twitch, where he’s better known as Trainwrecks to his 1.5 million followers. For hours on end, Niknam was hitting the slots on Stake.com, an online cryptocurrency casino and his most prominent Twitch sponsor, to live audiences of 25,000. He’d been winning big, sometimes as much as $400,000 in crypto in one fell swoop, and he never seemed to go broke. The problem? It wasn’t allowed.

If you visit Stake on a US-based browser, a message will quickly pop up on the site: “Due to our gaming license, we cannot accept players from the United States.” Though Stake doesn’t possess a gambling license in any state, Niknam and other US gamblers easily circumvent this by using VPNs. Promoting gambling sites that cannot operate in the US and making money by referring US residents to them may constitute promoting illegal gambling, legal experts told WIRED.

“Canada needs to happen asap,” Niknam wrote in a private Discord DM to Felix “xQc” Lengyel, 25, Twitch’s number two streamer. Lengyel briefly streamed slots but stopped in June. “You cannot show you’re on Stake at all.” A few days later, Niknam arrived in Canada, where he settled into a routine—gambling in a mostly empty apartment, sometimes more than a dozen hours a day. (Niknam and Lengyel did not respond to WIRED’s requests for comment.)

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on July 13, 2021 by Editor

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Eternal Pregnancy

Posted on July 10, 2021 by Editor

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The Eighth Greatest Invention Ever

from The New Yorker

The Myth of the Cast-Iron Pan

By Jiji Lee and Laura Mishkin

Ancient Grecians reaching in a cardboard box labeled fragile.

Birth

A cast-iron pan is forged in the flames of a volcano, by the mighty god Hephaestus. When the pan is the color of obsidian, and its weight equals that of a mountain, it is carefully placed in a cardboard box, and is ready for shipping and handling.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on July 9, 2021 by Editor

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Mushroom Boom

from Nautilus

Psychedelics Open a New Window on the Mechanisms of Perception

Hallucinatory drugs may allow our brains to let go of prior beliefs.

BY ANIL ANANTHASWAMY

Anathaswamy_BREAKER-1
John Smithson / Public Domain

verything became imbued with a sense of vitality and life and vividness. If I picked up a pebble from the beach, it would move. It would glisten and gleam and sparkle and be absolutely captivating,” says neuroscientist Anil Seth. “Somebody looking at me would see me staring at a stone for hours.”

Or what seemed like hours to Seth. A researcher at the United Kingdom’s University of Sussex, he studies how the brain helps us perceive the world within and without, and is intrigued by what psychedelics such as LSD can tell us about how the brain creates these perceptions. So, a few years ago, he decided to try some, in controlled doses and with trusted people by his side. He had a notebook to keep track of his experiences. “I didn’t write very much in the notebook,” he says, laughing.

Instead, while on LSD, he reveled in a sense of well-being and marveled at the “fluidity of time and space.” He found himself staring at clouds and seeing them change into faces of people he was thinking of. If his attention drifted, the clouds morphed into animals.

[ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

Posted on July 8, 2021 by Editor

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NFT Boom

from The Observer

NFTs Generated $2.5 Billion in Sales in the First Half of 2021, New Reports Indicate

By Helen Holmes

A truck parked outside of Christie’s displays a CryptoPunk NFT on May 11, 2021 in New York City. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

According to new marketplace data, NFTs have generated $2.5 billion in sales in 2021 so far, with monetary interest surging significantly in the second quarter. According to NonFungible.com, buyers of NFTs have clocked in at 10,000 to 20,000 per week since March, and despite the dominance of NFTs on the high-end art market, the most popular NFTs by the numbers are either collectibles or sports-affiliated. A chart from NonFungible.com indicates that in the first six months of 2021, 124,188 NFTs that could be classified as art were sold on the Ethereum blockchain, as opposed to 299,684 sports NFTs and 367,129 collectible NFTs. This data represents a sharp heel turn from reports that emerged in April which indicated that NFT sales were significantly slowing.

According to Reuters, June in particular has been a banner month for NFT sales. $150 million in sales were generated on the OpenSea NFT marketplace in that time; overall, reports indicate that the transaction volume of NFTs has multiplied by more than 25 since December of 2020. Sales overall were indisputably galvanized by the astonishing coup Christie’s pulled off in March when it sold an NFT made by the longtime net artist Beeple for $69.3 million, a sum which sent auction houses scrambling to assemble sales rosters which highlighted the non-fungible tokens.

[ click to continue reading at Observer ]

Posted on July 7, 2021 by Editor

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More Neanderthal Art

from artnet

Scientists Say an Intricately Carved 51,000-Year-Old Deer Bone Is the Earliest Example of Neanderthals’ Artistic Abilities

The bone was unearthed at the mouth of the Unicorn Cave in Germany.

by Caroline Goldstein

A 51,000-year-old deer bone with symbolic carvings. Photo: V. Minkus / Courtesy of Lower Saxony Office for Heritage.
A 51,000-year-old deer bone with symbolic carvings. Photo: V. Minkus / Courtesy of Lower Saxony Office for Heritage.

A 51,000-year-old carved bone fragment may be one of the earliest works of art, researchers announced in a paper published this week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The work, made from a knuckle bone belonging to a hoofed animal (likely a deer), was unearthed at the entrance to the Unicorn Cave in West Herz by a team of German researchers in 2019.

The carved bone is decorated with 10 angled lines in a chevron pattern that are clearly intentional, and not just random or naturally occurring indentations.

Relying on multiple types of testing, including radiocarbon dating, scientists deduced that the bone had to have been carved by Neanderthals, and not modern homo sapiens, who did not come to the area until at least 1,000 years later.

[ click to continue reading at artnet ]

Posted on July 6, 2021 by Editor

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Spoilage Alert

from The Atlantic

The Internet Is Rotting

Too much has been lost already. The glue that holds humanity’s knowledge together is coming undone.

By Jonathan Zittrain

Computer with screen glitching out
Getty / Valerie Chiang

Sixty years ago the futurist Arthur C. Clarke observed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The internet—how we both communicate with one another and together preserve the intellectual products of human civilization—fits Clarke’s observation well. In Steve Jobs’s words, “it just works,” as readily as clicking, tapping, or speaking. And every bit as much aligned with the vicissitudes of magic, when the internet doesn’t work, the reasons are typically so arcane that explanations for it are about as useful as trying to pick apart a failed spell.

Underpinning our vast and simple-seeming digital networks are technologies that, if they hadn’t already been invented, probably wouldn’t unfold the same way again. They are artifacts of a very particular circumstance, and it’s unlikely that in an alternate timeline they would have been designed the same way.

The internet’s distinct architecture arose from a distinct constraint and a distinct freedom: First, its academically minded designers didn’t have or expect to raise massive amounts of capital to build the network; and second, they didn’t want or expect to make money from their invention.

The internet’s framers thus had no money to simply roll out a uniform centralized network the way that, for example, FedEx metabolized a capital outlay of tens of millions of dollars to deploy liveried planes, trucks, people, and drop-off boxes, creating a single point-to-point delivery system. Instead, they settled on the equivalent of rules for how to bolt existing networks together.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on July 3, 2021 by Editor

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Mo’ Ransom

from WIRED

A New Kind of Ransomware Tsunami Hits Hundreds of Companies

An apparent supply chain attack exploited Kaseya’s IT management software to encrypt a “monumental” number of victims all at once.

by BRIAN BARRETT

100 prism
The impact has already been severe and will only get worse given the nature of the targets. PHOTOGRAPH: RL PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

IT WAS PROBABLY inevitable that the two dominant cybersecurity threats of the day— supply chain attacks and ransomware—would combine to wreak havoc. That’s precisely what happened Friday afternoon, as the notorious REvil criminal group successfully encrypted the files of hundreds of businesses in one swoop, apparently thanks to compromised IT management software. And that’s only the very beginning.

The situation is still developing and certain details—most important, how the attackers infiltrated the software in the first place—remain unknown. But the impact has already been severe and will only get worse given the nature of the targets. The software in question, Kaseya VSA, is popular among so-called managed service providers, which provide IT infrastructure for companies that would rather outsource that sort of thing than run it themselves. Which means that if you successfully hack an MSP, you suddenly have access to its customers. It’s the difference between cracking safe-deposit boxes one at a time and stealing the bank manager’s skeleton key.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on July 2, 2021 by Editor

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Hollywood Blockchain

from The Observer

The Hidden Value Hollywood Hopes to Unlock With NFTs

By Brandon Katz

Marvel Fox NFT
Hollywood hopes to unlock the hidden value in NFTs. Pixabay

We live in an increasingly interconnected digital world that has altered the very ways in which we communicate, work, shop, consume entertainment, and live. This digital overhaul has even made standard currency an anachronism in its own time as crypto value such as bitcoin surges in usage, popularity, and widespread acceptance (Kansas City Chiefs tight end Sean Culkin become the NFL’s first player to convert his entire salary to bitcoin in April). As the economy evolves in conjunction with cryptocurrency, it serves as a catalyst of change from within for the surrounding industry.

NFTs, or nonfungible tokens that are impossible to fake and represent unique one-of-a-kind value, have become the latest creation yielded by an ever-fluid online economy. Their surge is perhaps best punctuated by recent blockbuster art sales, including a $69 million purchase of 5,000 all-digital works by Wisconsin-based artist Beeple. The jaw-dropping, eye-opening transaction immediately elevated the decreasingly niche crypto asset to mainstream relevance.

[ click to continue reading at Observer ]

Posted on July 1, 2021 by Editor

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Drinkin’, shootin’, fishin’, bullfightin’.

from Prospect

Busting the Hemingway myth

A new documentary breaks new ground by exploring the American writer’s mental health and gender fluidity—but it still doesn’t go far enough

By Lucinda Smyth

Hemingway and his fourth wife Mary. Credit: BBC

In 1949, Ernest Hemingway took the journalist Lillian Ross on a whistle-stop tour of New York. “Want to go to the Bronx Zoo, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, ditto of Natural History, and see a fight,” Hemingway insisted. “Want to see the good Breughel at the Met.” In the event, they went to almost none of those places. They went to a bar to talk about hunting. They went to lunch with Marlene Dietrich—nicknamed “the Kraut”—to talk about the war. They went to Hemingway’s hotel lobby. They went to a different bar. At the suggestion of Mary, Hemingway’s fourth wife, they went to Abercrombie and Fitch to buy him a coat. Hemingway eyed himself in the mirror. “Hangs like a shroud,” he said bitterly.

Seventy years later, Ross’s irreverent profile remains one of the best pieces written about Hemingway. It shows a different side to the writer who is still so often shrouded in macho myth. Drinkin’, shootin’, fishin’, bullfightin’: we all know the Hemingway legend. The shadow of his legacy is so bulky, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to consider his work without addressing the personality behind it. Reactions to Hemingway the man can be tediously defensive: He might have been a goddamn son of a bitch—but hell! Could he nail a sentence! So how to approach him in 2021?

[ click to continue reading at Prospect ]

Posted on June 30, 2021 by Editor

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Cosmic Cannibals

from NPR

When A City-Size Star Becomes A Black Hole’s Lunch, The Universe Roils

by NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE

An artistic image of what happens when a monstrous black hole collides with — and gulps down — a neutron star the size of a large city. Carl Knox/OzGrav/Swinburne

A black hole swallowing a neutron star — a star more massive than our sun but only about the size of a city — has been observed for the first time ever.

Each of these space monsters is among the most extreme and mysterious phenomena in the universe. The new find, described Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, shows how the very fabric of the universe gets roiled when the two come together.

Researchers found not just one, but two black holes making snacks of neutron stars. Their noshing happened about 1 billion years ago but was so intense that it shook space-time and sent out ripples that only recently hit the Earth, triggering giant detectors built to sense these waves.

[ click to continue reading at NPR ]

Posted on June 29, 2021 by Editor

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NFTs for Good

from Foreign Policy

Are NFTs Always Bad?

The digital assets known as “nonfungible tokens” could help artists make money from their work.

By Diana Seave Greenwald

A Sotheby's NFT sale.
Mad Dog Jones’s “Visor” goes on view as part of “Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale” at Sotheby’s in London on June 4. TRISTAN FEWINGS/GETTY IMAGES FOR SOTHEBY’S

What are nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and when did they come into existence?

The key to understanding nonfungible tokens is the definition of the term “fungible.” A good or asset is fungible when it is interchangeable with a good or asset of the same type; it is not unique. Currency—from dollar bills to bitcoins—is fungible. Therefore, nonfungible goods are those that are unique. An original work of art is a clear example of a nonfungible good. NFTs in their current form represent a collision of these two forms: currency, specifically cryptocurrency, and art. According to an article tracing the history of NFTs, they emerged in their current form around 2014, although there are competing timelines and origin stories that would trace their emergence to 2012. Of course, the current mania for them is much more recent—emerging pretty much within the last year.

The final key component that allows both cryptocurrency and NFTs to function is a technology that records who owns what: the blockchain. This digital ledger is a decentralized system that, because it is distributed across users and not subject to centralized control, indelibly records transactions. This permanence of digital record-keeping is critical to understanding the interaction between the art market and NFTs.

[ click to continue reading at FP ]

Posted on June 28, 2021 by Editor

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Dragon Man

from BBC News

Scientists hail stunning ‘Dragon Man’ discovery

By Pallab Ghosh

Dragon Man Skull
IMAGE COPYRIGHT KAI GENG The Dragon Man’s skull is huge, with a brain size about the same as the average for our species

Chinese researchers have unveiled an ancient skull that could belong to a completely new species of human.

The team has claimed it is our closest evolutionary relative among known species of ancient human, such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus.

Nicknamed “Dragon Man”, the specimen represents a human group that lived in East Asia at least 146,000 years ago.

It was found at Harbin, north-east China, in 1933, but only came to the attention of scientists more recently.

An analysis of the skull has been published in the journal The Innovation.

“In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered,” he told BBC News.

“What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct.”

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Posted on June 27, 2021 by Editor

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Rest In Peace, Madman

from UnHerd

John McAfee: America’s last real wild man

The creator of the first commercial anti-virus software was one of a kind

BY BEN SIXSMITH

John McAfee describes as himself as a lover of women, adventure and mystery.

John McAfee, who died yesterday, was one of the oddest men of our times.

You might have thought Elon Musk was the most eccentric man in tech, with his fondness for memes, crypto-currencies and flamethrowers. Elon Musk was Joe Average compared to McAfee. The creator of the first commercial anti-virus software was one of a kind.

Did he have his neighbour in Belize killed for poisoning his dogs? A court ordered him to pay $25m over Gregory Faull’s apparent wrongful death. How many drugs was he on? He seems to have turned himself into a walking, talking laboratory. Was there any substance to his many tweets about having sex with whales? (“Whale fucking. No joke. Each year, on Feb 1st, in the Molokai Channel, a few men compete in the world’s only whale fucking contest…I competed once. Almost got my ribs crushed.)

Given all this madness, it seems anticlimactic that McAfee was set to be extradited to the US on charges of tax evasion. Then again, that was the charge that brought down Al Capone.

Officially, McAfee is reported to have committed suicide. Understandably, rumours are flying. McAfee himself had said, “Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.” His wife said before his death that the US government was “determined to have John die in prison to make an example of him for speaking out against the corruption within their government agencies.”

[ click to continue reading at UnHerd ]

Posted on June 26, 2021 by Editor

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Lightning Caldwell

from AccuWeather

A lightning strike fueled baseball’s most electrifying performance

By Mark Puleo

Ray Caldwell pitching for the New York Yankees. (Library of Congress)

Nearly 20,000 different men have called themselves Major League Baseball players since the inception of the league, and the vast majority have been entirely forgotten in the immensity of the sport’s history.

Ray Caldwell’s career was heading in that direction. Despite having a page full of unique anecdotes, alcohol abuse and off-the-field troubles had his career on the path toward obscurity.

“I don’t think a guy like Ray Caldwell could exist anymore in Major League Baseball,” Randy Anderson, president of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, told AccuWeather. “He’s a real throwback to when times were much different.”

Ray Caldwell is a name that could win you a few dollars at trivia night. He was the inaugural pitcher to start games at the grand opening of both Fenway Park and Ebbetts Field, he tossed the 91st no-hitter in baseball history, was one of the final 17 pitchers to legally be allowed to throw a spitball and even roomed with Babe Ruth when he played in Boston.

[ click to continue reading at AccuWeather ]

Posted on June 25, 2021 by Editor

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Artificial Rembrandt

from NYT via DNYUZ

Rembrandt’s Damaged Masterpiece Is Whole Again, With A.I.’s Help

Rembrandt’s Damaged Masterpiece Is Whole Again, With A.I.’s Help

AMSTERDAM — Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” has been a national icon in the Netherlands ever since it was painted in 1642, but even that didn’t protect it.

In 1715, the monumental canvas was cut down on all four sides to fit onto a wall between two doors in Amsterdam’s Town Hall. The snipped pieces were lost. Since the 19th century, the trimmed painting has been housed in the Rijksmuseum, where it is displayed as the museum’s centerpiece, at the focal point of its Gallery of Honor.

Now, from Wednesday — for the first time in more than three centuries — it will be possible for the public to see the painting “nearly as it was intended,” said the museum’s director, Taco Dibbits.

Using new high-tech methods, including scanning technologies and artificial intelligence, the museum has reconstructed those severed parts and hung them next to the original, to give an idea of “The Night Watch” as Rembrandt intended it.

The cutdown painting is about 15 feet wide by 13 feet high. About two feet from the left of the canvas was shaved off, and another nine inches from the top. Lesser damage was done to the bottom, which lost about five inches, and the right side, which lost three.

Temporarily restoring these parts will give visitors a glimpse of what had been lost: three figures on the left-hand side (two men and a boy) and, more important, a feel for Rembrandt’s meticulous construction in the work’s composition. With the missing pieces, the original dynamism of the masterpiece is stirred back to life.

[ click to continue reading at DNYUZ ]

Posted on June 24, 2021 by Editor

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29 Peeping Planets

from The Guardian

Scientists identify 29 planets where aliens could observe Earth

Astronomers estimate 29 habitable planets are positioned to see Earth transit and intercept human broadcasts

by Ian Sample Science editor

space
The scientists identified 1,715 star systems where alien observers could have discovered Earth in the past 5,000 years by watching it ‘transit’ across the face of the sun. Photograph: c/o Cornell

For centuries, Earthlings have gazed at the heavens and wondered about life among the stars. But as humans hunted for little green men, the extraterrestrials might have been watching us back.

In new research, astronomers have drawn up a shortlist of nearby star systems where any inquisitive inhabitants on orbiting planets would be well placed to spot life on Earth.

The scientists identified 1,715 star systems in our cosmic neighbourhood where alien observers could have discovered Earth in the past 5,000 years by watching it “transit” across the face of the sun.

Among those in the right position to observe an Earth transit, 46 star systems are close enough for their planets to intercept a clear signal of human existence – the radio and TV broadcasts which started about 100 years ago.

The researchers estimate that 29 potentially habitable planets are well positioned to witness an Earth transit, and eavesdrop on human radio and television transmissions, allowing any observers to infer perhaps a modicum of intelligence. Whether the broadcasts would compel an advanced civilisation to make contact is a moot point.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on June 23, 2021 by Editor

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