from The New Yorker

The Wacky and Wonderful World of the Westminster Dog Show

A canine campaign can run to hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention all the brushing, trimming, blow-drying, and styling products. Did you think it was easy being top dog?

By Kathryn Schulz

ernard de Menthon was born around the year 1000, near what is now the border of Switzerland and France. He was raised in a castle, given a first-class education, and, in time, affianced by his father to a noblewoman, as befit the scion of an ancient and wealthy family. By then, however, de Menthon had grown into a pious young man whose plans for the future did not include marriage. According to legend, the night before the wedding, he fled the castle by jumping out of a high window, whereupon a band of angels caught him and lowered him gently to the ground.

Ordained as a priest, de Menthon began preaching in villages throughout the region of Aosta, a territory that included a mountain pass already in use for at least a thousand years to cross the Western Alps. In de Menthon’s day, it was a popular route for Christians making the pilgrimage to Rome, but the journey was perilous. Bands of brigands routinely staked out the area to attack travellers, the pass itself was harrowing—eight thousand feet high, buried in snow, prone to avalanches—and de Menthon often found himself ministering to travellers who had been subjected to its terrors. And so, when he became the archdeacon of Aosta, he established a hospice in the pass, staffed by monks who offered aid to pilgrims venturing over the mountains.

At first, the hospice simply provided food, shelter, and a reminder to people inclined to make trouble that they did so under the watchful eye of God, or, anyway, of the godly. Over time, though, the monks began dispatching search parties to recover the missing. No one knows exactly when those search parties first began bringing along dogs, but by the early seventeen-hundreds the search parties were dogs—clever, indefatigable creatures capable of smelling a body under twenty feet of snow, who patrolled the area unaccompanied by humans. They generally travelled in pairs, so that, if they found someone too sick or hurt to move, one dog could return to the hospice to summon help while the other stayed behind, lying down atop the stricken person to offer warmth and hope. At some point, the hospice started keeping track of those rescues; by 1897, when one dog found a boy who had nearly frozen to death after falling into a crevasse, the dogs were known to have saved some two thousand people. Also by then, the long-dead Bernard de Menthon had been canonized, which is why the pass, the hospice, and the dogs themselves are all known today by the name St. Bernard.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Gorier and Gorier

from The Telegraph

Roger Corman interview: ‘Horror today just gets gorier and gorier’

The grand old man of B movies on discovering Coppola and Scorsese, making Jack Nicholson cry, and the problem with modern horror

by Tim Robey, FILM CRITIC

Director Roger Corman (left), on set of Pit and the Pendulum (1961), with Vincent Price
Director Roger Corman (left), on set of Pit and the Pendulum (1961), with Vincent Price – Rex/Everett Collection

Roger Corman, director and producer of hundreds of films including 1960’s Little Shop of Horrors, has died aged 98. In this 2013 interview from The Telegraph’s archives, he spoke candidly about his long career, and the state of contemporary horror cinema.

At 87 years old, Roger Corman is a twinkly gent. He walks with a pronounced stoop, and speaks in careful, precise sentences, making considerable effort not to waste a word. It’s hard to believe the career this benign legend has had, not to mention the careers he’s given others – he gave Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme.

Along the way, Corman has written a handful of films, directed 56, had a couple of dozen, mostly uncredited acting cameos, and produced, in some capacity, about 400 movies. The titles include some of the most wonderfully lurid in film history – take 1957’s Attack of the Crab Monsters, or The Wasp Woman (1959), or Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia (1977). Astonishingly, he’s still working – something called Dance with a Vampyre would appear to be in production now – though he hasn’t directed a film himself since 1990’s Frankenstein Unbound.

[ click to continue reading at The Telegraph ]

Roger Corman Gone

from The Hollywood Reporter

Roger Corman, Giant of Independent Filmmaking, Dies at 98

The fabled “King of the B’s” producer and director influenced the careers of Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme and many others.


Roger Corman

Roger Corman, the fabled “King of the B’s” producer and director who churned out low-budget genre films with breakneck speed and provided career boosts to young, untested talents like Jack NicholsonRon HowardPeter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Gale Anne Hurd and James Cameron, has died. He was 98.

The filmmaker, who received an honorary Oscar in 2009 at the Governors Awards, died Thursday at his home in Santa Monica, his family told The Hollywood Reporter.

Corman perhaps is best known for such horror fare as The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and his series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations starring Vincent Price, but he became celebrated for drugs-and-biker sagas like The Wild Angels (1966), which was invited to the Venice Film Festival as the Premiere Presentation.

He also achieved notoriety for producing The Trip (1967), which starred Peter Fonda as a man on an LSD-inspired odyssey. Its controversy delighted Corman, who was one of the first producers to recognize the power of negative publicity.

[ click to continue reading at THR ]


from Metro UK

Could a toad’s psychedelic venom be the next big anti-depressant?

by Hiyah Zaidi

Sonoran Desert Toad
The Colorado River toad is known for its psychedelic properties, but could it be hiding a major medicinal secret? (Picture: Getty Images)

hallucinogenic toad’s venom could be a new form of anti-depressant, scientists say. 

The Colorado River toad, also known as the Sonoran Desert toad, has psychedelic venom just below the surface, which they secrete through their glands when it is scared.

And although it is well known that this toad’s venom can cause intense hallucinations and trippy experiences, until now scientists have been unsure how exactly it influences the brain.

But a recent study has found that the toad’s hallucinogenic compound could be the basis of a new antidepressant.

[ click to continue reading at Metro UK ]

Steve Albini Gone

from Deadline

Steve Albini Dies: Nirvana Producer Was 61

By Greg Evans

Steve Albini dead
Steve Albini at his Chicago studio in 2014Brian Cassella/Getty Images

Steve Albini, a singer and guitarist best known for producing some of the most groundbreaking and influential albums of the alt-rock genre, died of a heart attack at his Chicago recording studio Electrical Audio. He was 61.

Albini’s death and cause of death was confirmed by Taylor Hales of Electrical Audio.

Born July 22, 1962, in Pasadena, Albini moved to the Chicago area after high school to study journalism at Northwestern University. While there, he began writing for local punk rock ‘zines and beginning to record and engineer albums for local bands.

Stubbornly opposed to the larger music industry and its exploitation of artists, Albini formed the Chicago-based band Big Black in 1981, recording the first of several albums, an EP for the Chicago label Ruthless Records, a label he co-managed. That band last until 1987.

[ click to continue reading at Deadline ]


from The Hollywood Reporter

Paramount’s Make-or-Break Deal Week Begins

A CEO shake-up, the home stretch of a takeover offer, a critical carriage negotiation and key advertising talks are colliding at the same time — and could decide the future of the storied company.


Shari Redstone

It’s the moment of truth or consequences for Paramount Global.

The entertainment giant, controlled by Shari Redstone via her family’s National Amusements holding company, is in the middle of arguably the most fateful week in its history, with critical business decisions set to collide.

On Sunday, the group of David Ellison’s Skydance, Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital and KKR submitted a “best and final” offer that would see them acquire National Amusements and merge Paramount with Skydance, infusing the company with fresh cash and installing a new leadership team.

[ click to continue reading at THR ]

Android Dreaming

from The Las Vegas Review-Journal

An artificial mind, with a lifelike body

Amid a world of evolving AI, a Las Vegas man brings his creations to life

By Jason Bracelin

Matt McMullen’s company Realbotix makes lifelike AI driven robots. And he’s doing it all in a nondescript studio tucked behind his home. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae

You wanna see her move? I think that’s the fun part.

The room is thick with anticipation and fabricated skulls.

She’s gonna wake up. Give her a second.

Matt McMullen eyes his creation as her eyes flutter open in return, her gaze settling upon all the disembodied faces and mechanical mandibles surrounding her in this workshop where fake hair co-mingles with real ambition.

Gradually, she stirs to life, this robot who doesn’t look like one.

Her arms flare out a bit, her head tilts downward then upward, a smile slowly, yet steadily blossoms on her face like time-lapse footage of a flower blooming in the sunlight.

“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” renowned science fiction author Philip K. Dick once asked in the title of one of his most celebrated works, which would later be adapted into the film “Blade Runner.”

Nope, turns out they fantasize about visiting theme parks instead, as we learn on a recent Wednesday morning.

“So, who is going to take me to Disneyland?” the robot wonders, her words apropos of … well, we’re not quite sure.

Maybe she’s just reacting to her environment: on a table nearby rests a small sign adorned with an image of Mickey Mouse and a quote from Walt Disney.

[ click to continue reading at the Review-Journal ]

Matrix Verified

from Popular Mechanics

A Scientist Says He Has the Evidence That We Live in a Simulation

The “Second Law of Infodynamics” could prove it.


touching virtual
Andriy Onufriyenko//Getty Images

In the 1999 film The Matrix, Thomas Anderson (a.k.a. Neo) discovers a truth to end all truths—the universe is a simulation. While this premise provides fantastic sci-fi fodder (and explains how Neo can learn kung-fu in about five seconds), the idea isn’t quite as carefully relegated to the fiction section as one might expect.

University of Portsmouth scientist Melvin Vopson, who studies the possibility that the universe might indeed be a digital facsimile, leans into the cinematic comparison. In an article published on website The Conversation this past October, Vopson invoked the Wachowskis’ sci-fi masterpiece, and around the same time, he published a book on the subject—Reality Reloaded, a subtle hat tip to the title of the less successful Matrix sequel. While he is just one among many who’ve contemplated the idea, Vopson claims to have one thing that those before him lacked: evidence.

[ click to continue reading at Popular Mechanics ]


from Metro UK

Urgent warning for anyone using scarily accurate ‘AI death calculator’

by Hiyah Zaidi

Mobile phone with ominous robot face on screen
Be warned if you’re testing out an ‘AI death calculator’ (Picture: Getty)

The team behind an ‘AI death calculator’ that can predict, well, when you’ll die, issued a stark warning for those keen to find out their life expectancy.

Danish researchers unveiled the Life2vec AI chatbot in December. They said the program can accurately predict not only how long you’ll live, but also how rich you will be.

Now, a number of copycat apps are appearing online that appear to be scams – while the original chatbot has not been released to the public.

The team have put out a warning that scammers have created fraudulent websites imitating the chatbot which ‘have nothing to do with us and our work’.

[ click to continue reading at Metro ]

Waytoo Aggressive

from Futurism

Self-Driving Waymo Spotted Plowing Down Wrong Side of Street

“I think we can all agree that the decision making of the Waymo was not good.”

blazelord69 via Reddit / Futurism
Image by blazelord69 via Reddit / Futurism

video making the rounds on social media shows a self-driving Waymo car bombing down the wrong side of the road in downtown San Francisco — yet another glaring incident involving the company’s vehicles acting unexpectedly.

The footage shows the vehicle passing a group of electric-powered unicyclists and scooters in the city’s Mission and Market district last week.

Another video shows the same event from a different perspective, with the Waymo car seemingly trying to overtake the unicyclists — by taking over the entirety of the oncoming lane.

Fortunately, one of the unicyclists managed to get the vehicle to stop by getting in front of it.

[ click to continue reading at Futurism ]

Colonizing The Dark Side

from Yahoo! News

China set to launch high-stakes mission to moon’s ‘hidden’ side

by Albee Zhang and Ryan Woo

BEIJING, April 29 (Reuters) – China will send a robotic spacecraft in coming days on a round trip to the moon’s far side in the first of three technically demanding missions that will pave the way for an inaugural Chinese crewed landing and a base on the lunar south pole.

Since the first Chang’e mission in 2007, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, China has made leaps forward in its lunar exploration, narrowing the technological chasm with the United States and Russia.

In 2020, China brought back samples from the moon’s near side in the first sample retrieval in more than four decades, confirming for the first time it could safely return an uncrewed spacecraft to Earth from the lunar surface.

This week, China is expected to launch Chang’e-6 using the backup spacecraft from the 2020 mission, and collect soil and rocks from the side of the moon that permanently faces away from Earth.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! News ]

Apocalypse Megalopolis

from The Hollywood Reporter

For Francis Ford Coppola’s Go-for-Broke Movies, All Roads Lead to Cannes

The director readies his self-funded epic ‘Megalopolis’ for the Croisette, with echoes of his ‘Apocalypse Now’ journey 45 years ago accompanying him.


Francis Ford Coppola, on location filming 'Apocalypse Now.'
Francis Ford Coppola, on location filming ‘Apocalypse Now.’ EVERETT

For his forthcoming one from the heart, Megalopolis, Francis Ford Coppola has once again violated the cardinal rule of the entertainment business: Never invest your own money in the show. Reports are that to bankroll the $120 million epic he has literally mortgaged the farm, or vineyard. The investment is slated to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14.

We — and he — have all been here before. Coppola last went into hock for another long-aborning and cost-overrunning project, which 45 years ago, almost to the day, also premiered at Cannes: the now legendary Apocalypse Now (1979).

At the time, Coppola was bathing in the afterglow of one of the most astonishing back-to-back double, or triple, plays in the industry’s history: The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974), the operatic two-part saga of mob family business in which organized crime serves less as a metaphor for American capitalism than its purest expression (“Michael, we’re bigger than U.S. Steel!”); and The Conversation (1974), a prophetic vision of the intrusion of high tech surveillance into private lives. Before Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) set the templates for the next half century of Hollywood cinema, Coppola was the singular visionary of what was already recognized as the Second Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.

Little wonder that Coppola’s next project was awaited with eager anticipation by most and, because this is after all Hollywood, knives out by a few.

[ click to continue reading at THR ]

A T-J to ’28 Years Later’

from Deadline

Jodie Comer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson & Ralph Fiennes To Star In ‘28 Years Later’ For Danny Boyle And Sony Pictures

By Justin Kroll

‘28 Years Later' stars
Jodie Comer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Ralph Fiennes Edd Horde/Getty Images

EXCLUSIVE: The new 28 Years Later trilogy from director Danny Boyle and Sony Pictures is gaining momentum, and some serious star power. Sources tell Deadline that Jodie ComerAaron Taylor-Johnson and Ralph Fiennes have boarded the first pic, a sequel to the original 28 Days Later.

Boyle is directing the first movie from a script by Alex Garland. Sony will release the film in theaters globally.

While plot details are vague, the original 28 Days Later in 2002 centered on a bicycle courier (played by Cillian Murphy) who wakes from a coma to discover the world had been overrun with zombies following the outbreak of a virus. The pic grossed more than $82 million worldwide and led to a 2007 sequel 28 Weeks Later, on which Boyle and Garland served solely as EPs.

[ click to continue reading at Deadline ]


from The Independent

Two lifeforms merge into one organism for first time in a billion years

‘The first time it happened, it gave rise to all complex life,’ scientists say

by Anthony Cuthbertson

An image showing how the algae looked at different stages using X-ray tomography
An image showing how the algae looked at different stages using X-ray tomography (Valentina Loconte/Berkeley Lab)

For the first time in at least a billion years, two lifeforms have merged into a single organism.

The process, called primary endosymbiosis, has only happened twice in the history of the Earth, with the first time giving rise to all complex life as we know it through mitochondria. The second time that it happened saw the emergence of plants.

Now, an international team of scientists have observed the evolutionary event happening between a species of algae commonly found in the ocean and a bacterium.

“The first time we think it happened, it gave rise to all complex life,” said Tyler Coale, a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the research on one of two recent studies that uncovered the phenomenon.

“Everything more complicated than a bacterial cell owes its existence to that event. A billion years ago or so, it happened again with the chloroplast, and that gave us plants.”

[ click to continue reading at The Independent ]


from BBC

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Nine things we learned from her This Cultural Life interview

by John Wilson

John Wilson with Sam Taylor-Johnson

Sam Taylor-Johnson has been equally successful as an artist and as a filmmaker. As a photographer, she was part of the Young British Artists movement that revolutionised the British art scene in the nineties. As a director, her work has ranged from blockbuster book adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey to biopics of musical legends. Her latest, Back to Black, is about the life of Amy Winehouse. Here are nine things we learned when she sat down with John Wilson for This Cultural Life.

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Easy Peasy, Prospective Parents

from History Facts

The Most Popular Baby Names Throughout the 20th Century

Photo credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/ Archive Photos via Getty Images

Depending on where you lived and when you grew up, it’s possible you might have known more than one person with the same name. Maybe there was a Jennifer A. and a Jennifer L., or maybe you knew four different people named Michael. Year after year, decade after decade, there are trends in baby names that draw on history, religion, and cultural references. Here are the most popular baby names in the United States during each decade of the 20th century.

[ click to explore more at History Facts ]


from RealClearMarkets

Yet Another Attempt To Make Sense of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘The Brothers Karamazov’

By John Tamny

In his excellent new memoir, Never Say You Had a Lucky Life (review coming soon), Joseph Epstein writes of a Harvard economics professor by the name of Alexander Gerschenkron who claimed to have read Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace at least fifteen times, and that more than once he began rereading the novel right after completing it. Talk about dedication. And understanding.

As written before in attempts to make sense of or offer thoughts or insights into the Russian novels, it would likely help to have read them more than once. Hopefully this admission is recognized as I attempt to write about Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. It was really hard to follow in what was my first, and almost certainly only read of it. It’s frequently said that War and Peace and the various names within it are difficult to keep track of. The Brothers Karamazov (from now on, TBK) proved much more difficult for me. And that’s just names. The story was very often challenging to follow. I’ll bet the meaning of what is a very interesting story would be much clearer with another read.

[ click to continue reading at RealClearMarkets ]

Dickey Betts Gone

from Variety

Dickey Betts, Allman Brothers Guitarist, Dies at 80

By Chris Morris

Dickey Betts, whose country-inflected songwriting and blazing, lyrical guitar work opposite Duane Allman in the Allman Brothers Band helped define the Southern rock genre of the ‘60s and ‘70s, died Thursday in Osprey, Fla. He was 80.

His family posted a statement on Instagram, writing, “It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that the Betts family announce the peaceful passing of Forrest Richard ‘Dickey’ Betts (December 12, 1943 – April 18, 2024) at the age of 80 years old. The legendary performer, songwriter, bandleader and family patriarch passed away earlier today at his home in Osprey, FL., surrounded by his family. Dickey was larger than life, and his loss will be felt world-wide.”

In 1969, Betts and bassist Berry Oakley of the Florida band the Second Coming joined members of two other Sunshine State groups — guitarist Duane Allman and his keyboard-playing brother Gregg of the Hour Glass and drummer Butch Trucks of the 31st of February – and Mississippi-born drummer Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson in a new unit that ultimately based itself in Macon, Ga.

Riding a powerful twin-guitar sound that fused rock, blues and country, the Allman Brothers Band inspired a host of like-minded groups throughout the South, many of which would find a home at Capricorn Records, the custom imprint established by the Allmans’ manager Phil Walden.

[ click to continue reading at Variety ]



Let The Children Play

from RealClearScience

Kids Are Unhappier – Possibly Because They Don’t Have as Much Freedom

By Fiorentina Sterkaj

Rostyslav Savchyn

Experts often highlight social media and harsh economic times as key reasons why young people are getting unhappier. And while those factors are important, I would like to emphasise another.

Younger generations have less freedom and independence than previous generations did. The area where children are allowed to range unsupervised outside has shrunk by 90% since the 1970s.

Parents increasingly organise entertainment – ranging from play dates and sports and music classes to family cinema trips – for their children, rather than letting them come up with it themselves. Perhaps this can help explain recent reports that many teenagers today choose to be holed up in their bedrooms.

The lack of childhood freedom isn’t just a result of parental control. Societal expectations and school policies also have huge influences.

[ click to continue reading at RealClearScience ]

Super Bloom 2024

from The Washington Post

Death Valley is alive this year. A super bloom is the latest sign.

by Reis Thebault, Alice Li, Bridget Bennett

TECOPA, Calif. — Sometimes the desert holds its secrets close, whispering them only to those who carefully listen. But this year, the hottest and driest place in America might as well be shouting.

In California’s Death Valley region, the last few months have been remarkably loud. And the latest bellow is still ringing out, with the area’s native wildflowers bursting into bloom. The flowers have filled a place best known for its shades of browns and grays with brilliant blasts of yellow and purple and sprinkles of pink and cream.

This roaring display comes just weeks after the resurrection of a long-dead lake, which filled the park’s Badwater Basin and drew visitors from across the country for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to paddle across a body of water rarely revived since prehistoric days.

These fleeting phenomena can both be traced to the unusual and record-setting precipitation that has inundated the state since August, when Hurricane Hilary gave Death Valley its wettest day ever. Subsequent storms dumped even more rain on the desert, eventually dragging it out of a years-long megadrought.

[ click to continue reading at WaPo ]


from Big Think

The consequences of traveling in a straight line forever

Is the Universe finite or infinite? Does it go on forever or loop back on itself? Here’s what would happen if you traveled forever.

travel straight line
In a hypertorus model of the Universe, motion in a straight line will return you to your original location, even in an uncurved (flat) spacetime. Without access to a higher-dimensional view of what our 3D world appears to be like to us, we cannot know or measure its true extent and shape in space.

The Universe is a vast, wondrous, and strange place. From our perspective within it, we can see out for some 46 billion light-years in all directions. Everywhere we look, we see a Universe filled with stars and galaxies, but are they all unique? Is it possible, perhaps, that if you look far enough in one direction and see a galaxy, that you’d also see that same galaxy, from a different perspective, in the opposite direction? Could the Universe actually loop back on itself? And if you traveled far enough in a straight line, would you eventually return to your starting point, just as if you traveled in any one direction for long enough on the surface of the Earth? Or would something stop you?

It’s a fascinating question to consider, and one that Bill Powers wants us to investigate, asking:

“Space and time are mind-boggling to me. It seems like if you traveled in a straight line, you could travel forever. What would stop you? A wall? [And if so,] what’s on the other side of the wall?”

Although it sounds nonsensical, the answer is both. You could travel forever, and also, something would stop you. The key lies in understanding the expanding Universe, which itself is one of the most mind-boggling concepts of all.

[ click to continue reading at Big Think ]

Spared. Amazing.

from CBS News

Stunning new Roman frescoes uncovered at Pompeii, the ancient Italian city frozen in time by a volcano

By Haley Ott

A fresco discovered in a banquet hall in the ancient Italian city of Pompeii depicts the Greek god Apollo attempting to seduce the priestess Cassandra.BBC/TONY JOLLIFFE

Stunning Roman frescoes have been uncovered by archeologists in Pompeii, the ancient city destroyed by an eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 AD. Experts say the newly discovered frescoes are among the finest ever to emerge at the renowned archeological site.

The works of art line the high walls of what was once a large banquet hall. The walls themselves were painted mostly black, and the figures on the frescoes appear to emerge from the shadows. Site director Dr. Gabriel Zuchtriegel told CBS News partner network BBC News that the dark color was likely used to hide stains from the lamps that lit the hall after the sun went down.

“In the shimmering light, the paintings would have almost come to life,” Zuchtriegel said.

[ click to continue reading at CBS News ]