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Decadent U.

from Esquire

The Secret Oral History of Bennington: The 1980s’ Most Decadent College

Fall, 1982. A new freshman class arrives at arty, louche, and expensive Bennington College. Among the druggies, rebels, heirs, and posers: future Gen X literary stars Donna Tartt, Bret Easton Ellis, and Jonathan Lethem. What happened over the next four years would spark scandal, myth, and some of the authors’ greatest novels. Return to a campus and an era like no other.

BY LILI ANOLIK

image
Kate Aichele/Bennington College; Mark Norris (Tartt and Lethem);
Ian Gittler (Ellis).

What Café du Dôme was to the Lost Generation, the dining hall at Bennington College was to Generation X—i.e., the Lost Generation Revisited. The Moveable Feast had moved ahead six decades and across the Atlantic, and while, of course, southwestern Vermont wasn’t Paris, somehow, in the early-to-mid eighties, it was, was just as sly, louche, low-down, and darkly perdu. And speaking of sly, louche, low-down, and darkly perdu, check out the habitués. Seated around the table, ready to gorge on the conversation if not the food (cocaine, the Pernod of its era, is a notorious appetite suppressant), berets swapped for sunglasses, were the neo F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Djuna Barnes: Bret Easton Ellis, future writer of American Psycho and charter member of the literary Brat Pack; Jonathan Lethem, future writer of The Fortress of Solitude and MacArthur genius; and Donna Tartt, future writer of The Secret History and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Goldfinch. All three were in the class of 1986. All three were a long way from home—Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Grenada, Mississippi, respectively. All three were, at various times, infatuated and disappointed with one another, their friendships stimulated and fueled by rivalry. And all three would mythologize Bennington—the baroque wickedness, the malignant glamour, the corruption so profound as to be exactly what is meant by the word decadence—in their fiction that, as it turns out, wasn’t quite, and thereby become myths themselves.

Every prodigy needs his or her very own Gertrude Stein or Sherwood Anderson—i.e., a mentor and model. Bennington had those in profusion, teachers who were also artists: journalist Joe McGinniss; novelists and short-story writers Nicholas Delbanco and Arturo Vivante; and poet, mystic, and self-chronicler Claude Fredericks. And then there were the supporting figures (and fellow students), so fascinating they threatened to eclipse the main: writers Jill Eisenstadt, David Lipsky, Lawrence David, Reginald Shepherd; Brixton Smith Start, lead guitarist of post-punk British band the Fall; and Quintana Roo Dunne, only child of Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne.

So grab a tray, pull up a chair, and try not to look like you’re eavesdropping.

[ click to continue reading at Esquire ]

Posted on May 31, 2019 by Editor

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Nostrawarhol

from AP

California show explores Warhol’s social, tech foreshadowing

By KATIE OYAN

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Before Instagram and Facebook, before selfies and filters that perfect selfies, there was Andy Warhol, using his art to imbue friends, family, celebrities — even himself — with a certain mystique.

A retrospective of Warhol’s work on display in San Francisco captures the artist’s ability to use paintings, drawings, photographs and other mediums to create buzz-worthy personas the way people do now using social media.

The idea of personal branding, “of how we can be who we want to be,” was something Warhol was trading on more than a half-century ago, said Donna De Salvo, deputy director for international initiatives and senior curator at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, where the exhibit originated . “He had a real understanding of something about American culture, which is now more global.”

[ click to continue reading at AP ]

Posted on May 30, 2019 by Editor

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Alie Rivier Gutman to VP at Andrew Stearn Productions

from Deadline

Andrew Stearn Launches Production Company With Overall Deal At ABC Studios

By Nellie Andreeva

Alie Rivier Gutman

Former Working Title Television U.S. and John Wells Productions president Andrew Stearn is launching his own production company, Andrew Stearn Productions. It will be based at ABC Studios, a division of Disney Television Studios, with an overall deal.

At ABC Studios, Stearn will be joined by Alie Rivier Gutman, whom he has hired as VP for Andrew Stearn Prods. She most recently served as Director of Development and Production for James Frey’s Full Fathom Five, where she worked in TV and film on projects including the series Relationship Status (Verizon Go90),American Gothic (CBS), The Kicks(Amazon) and the feature film Eat, Brains, Love. 

[ click to continue reading at Deadline ]

Posted on May 29, 2019 by Editor

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Scully, I’m on my way.

from Sputnik News

Paging Agent Mulder: UFO Hunter Spies New Underground Base Near Area 51 

The conspiracy buff also directed his attention toward the two fields located near the suspected underground facility, speculating that these crops might be part of some genetic research programme.

While the US Air Force facility known as Area 51 has already become the staple of conspiracy theories regarding extraterrestrial spacecraft and alien lifeforms, famous UFO hunter Scott C. Waring now claims that a new underground installation is being constructed in the vicinity.

According to Waring, who had apparently stumbled upon this discovery while studying satellite maps, the new facility is located 55 miles to the north-east of Area 51’s perimeter.

[ click to continue reading at Sputnik News ]

Posted on May 28, 2019 by Editor

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Nasty Curves

from FiveThirtyEight

MLB Curves And Sliders Have Gotten Alarmingly Nasty

By Travis Sawchik

Cleveland Indians v. Houston Astros
Trevor Bauer has turned to pitch design to create more movement on his breaking pitches. LOREN ELLIOTT / MLB PHOTOS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Major League Baseball seems to be on an unstoppable pathway to more and more strikeouts. After a record share of plate appearances ended in a strikeout last season (22.3 percent), this season is winding up to set another record: If the to-date strikeout rate of 23 percent holds or increases over the season, it would mark the 12th straight year of a record set for strikeout rate.

Fastball velocity is often cited as the source of the strikeout surge, along with hitters willing to trade contact for power. The constantly increasing fastball velocities of recent years are such a concern that MLB is partnering with the independent Atlantic League next year to move the mound back by 2 feet — to 62 feet, 6 inches from home plate. Still, there may be another culprit behind all of the K’s: Breaking balls have never moved more. According to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of PITCHf/x and Statcast data at Baseball Prospectus, sliders and curveballs this season are darting away from bats at their greatest levels in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008).

[ click to continue reading at FiveThirtyEight.com ]

Posted on May 26, 2019 by Editor

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That’s no asteroid, it’s an asteroid with a moon

from CBS News

A massive asteroid with its own moon trailing behind will pass by Earth this weekend

BY BRIAN PASCUS

1999 kw4 nasa
NASA rendering of KW4 1999 asteroid with moon following 

An asteroid nearly a mile wide with a moon of its own is expected to pass by Earth this weekend, traveling at 48,000 mph. The space rock, known as asteroid 1999 KW4, was discovered 20 years ago and is so large that it is orbited by a moon.

On Saturday evening, 1999 KW4 will make its closest approach to Earth. It will be visible until May 27. Because it carries a large moon along with it, the asteroid is technically designated as a binary system. 

A binary system is defined as two celestial objects close enough to orbit each other, according to NASA.

[ click to continue reading at CBS ]

Posted on May 25, 2019 by Editor

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The Jersey Man

from Inside Hook

How the Dean of Sports Uniforms Stitched Together His Online Dynasty

Paul Lukas looks back on 20 years of Uni Watch, the preeminent website for all things jerseys and uniforms

BY EVAN BLEIER

Uni Watch is obsessed with the laundry of sports.

Uni Watch is obsessed with the laundry of sports.

Paul Lukas lives for the laundry of sports.

Lukas is the man behind Uni Watch, a website where fans of sports uniforms congregate to dissect the minutiae of logos and stitches instead of play calls and pitches in an obsessive and informed manner. The 55-year-old, whose first sports fashion/design column appeared in the sports section of the now-defunct Village Voice20 years ago this month (May 26), concurs with Seinfeld’s assessment.

“It’s true because the players come and go,” Lukas tells InsideHook. “They get traded, they retire, they leave via free agency or whatever and we keep rooting for whoever is wearing that uniform, whoever that person is. Your team could be really good one year and really bad another year, but you stay loyal to that team and to that uniform. That’s a really uncommon thing and a really powerful form of brand loyalty, frankly.”

While he may not have realized it when he was worrying about the stirrups of his Little League uniform or doodling team logos in the margins of his notebook instead of paying attention in class as a kid, Lukas already sensed the connection between livery and loyalty.

“I’ve always been interested in uniforms. I guess because it’s really what we end up rooting for,”  Lukas says. “I don’t think I could have articulated it that way when I was a kid or when I was geeking out over my first Little League uniform or anything like that, but I think the seeds of it were there.”

[ click to continue reading at InsideHook.com ]

Posted on May 24, 2019 by Editor

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JG @ DU

Posted on May 23, 2019 by Editor

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The Forever Wrong

from The Atlantic

The Peculiar Blindness of Experts

Credentialed authorities are comically bad at predicting the future. But reliable forecasting is possible.

by DAVID EPSTEIN

NA KIM

The bet was on, and it was over the fate of humanity. On one side was the Stanford biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. In his 1968 best seller, The Population Bomb, Ehrlich insisted that it was too late to prevent a doomsday apocalypse resulting from overpopulation. Resource shortages would cause hundreds of millions of starvation deaths within a decade. It was cold, hard math: The human population was growing exponentially; the food supply was not. Ehrlich was an accomplished butterfly specialist. He knew that nature did not regulate animal populations delicately. Populations exploded, blowing past the available resources, and then crashed.

In his book, Ehrlich played out hypothetical scenarios that represented “the kinds of disasters that will occur.” In the worst-case scenario, famine rages across the planet. Russia, China, and the United States are dragged into nuclear war, and the resulting environmental degradation soon extinguishes the human race. In the “cheerful” scenario, population controls begin. Famine spreads, and countries teeter, but the major death wave ends in the mid-1980s. Only half a billion or so people die of starvation. “I challenge you to create one more optimistic,” Ehrlich wrote, adding that he would not count scenarios involving benevolent aliens bearing care packages.

The economist Julian Simon took up Ehrlich’s challenge. Technology—water-control techniques, hybridized seeds, management strategies—had revolutionized agriculture, and global crop yields were increasing. To Simon, more people meant more good ideas about how to achieve a sustainable future. So he proposed a wager. Ehrlich could choose five metals that he expected to become more expensive as resources were depleted and chaos ensued over the next decade. Both men agreed that commodity prices were a fine proxy for the effects of population growth, and they set the stakes at $1,000 worth of Ehrlich’s five metals. If, 10 years hence, prices had gone down, Ehrlich would have to pay the difference in value to Simon. If prices went up, Simon would be on the hook for the difference. The bet was made official in 1980.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on May 22, 2019 by Editor

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Melina’s Closet

from COVETEUR

WE ONCE RAIDED MELINA MATSOUKAS’ CLOSET 

And it was just as cool as we imagined. Los Angeles. In Partnership with BET.

by Laurel Pantin

Think of pretty much any music video you’ve loved in the past few years, and odds are director Melina Matsoukas is behind it. We’re talking Beyoncé’s “Formation,” Rihanna’s “We Found Love” (for which she was the first female director ever to win a Grammy), Snoop Dogg’s “Sensual Seduction” (yaaas), and Lady GaGa’s “Just Dance.” Matsoukas is the realest of deals, and also the coolest person you could ever hope to spend an afternoon with.

But if you thought directing ground-breaking music videos would be enough for most people, you’d find that “most people” doesn’t apply to Matsoukas. She just wrapped the forthcoming film Queen & Slim, written by Lena Waithe and James Frey, and has garnered much well-deserved praise for her work on Insecure. 

[ click to continue reading at COVETEUR ]

Posted on May 21, 2019 by Editor

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8,000-year-old Lox

from Nautilus

The English Word That Hasn’t Changed in Sound or Meaning in 8,000 Years

BY SEVINDJ NURKIYAZOVA

The word lox was one of the clues that eventually led linguists to discover who the Proto-Indo-Europeans were, and where they lived. Photograph by Helen Cook / Flickr

One of my favorite words is lox,” says Gregory Guy, a professor of linguistics at New York University. There is hardly a more quintessential New York food than a lox bagel—a century-old popular appetizing store, Russ & Daughters, calls it “The Classic.” But Guy, who has lived in the city for the past 17 years, is passionate about lox for a different reason. “The pronunciation in the Proto-Indo-European was probably ‘lox,’ and that’s exactly how it is pronounced in modern English,” he says. “Then, it meant salmon, and now it specifically means ‘smoked salmon.’ It’s really cool that that word hasn’t changed its pronunciation at all in 8,000 years and still refers to a particular fish.”

How scholars have traced the word’s pronunciation over thousands of years is also really cool. The story goes back to Thomas Young, also known as “The Last Person Who Knew Everything.” The 18th-century British polymath came up with the wave theory of light, first described astigmatism, and played a key role in deciphering the Rosetta Stone. Like some people before him, Young noticed eerie similarities between Indic and European languages. He went further, analyzing 400 languages spread across continents and millennia and proved that the overlap between some of them was too extensive to be an accident. A single coincidence meant nothing, but each additional one increased the chance of an underlying connection. In 1813, Young declared that all those languages belong to one family. He named it “Indo-European.”

Today, roughly half the world’s population speaks an Indo-European language. That family includes 440 languages spoken across the globe, including English. The word yoga, for example, which comes from Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, is a distant relative of the English word yoke. The nature of this relationship puzzled historical linguists for two centuries.

In modern English, well over half of all words are borrowed from other languages. To trace how language changes over time, linguists developed an ingenious toolkit. “Some parts of vocabulary are more stable and don’t change as much. The linguistic term [for these words] is ‘a core vocabulary.’ These are numbers, colors, family relations like ‘mother,’ ‘father,’ ‘sister,’ ‘brother,’ and basic verbs like ‘walk’ and ‘see,’ says Guy. “If you look at words of that sort in different languages, it becomes fairly clear which ones are related and which ones are not. For example, take the English word for number two, which is dva in Russian and deux in French, or the word night, which is nacht in German and noch in Russian.”

[ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

Posted on May 20, 2019 by Editor

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Ride Like The Wind, Bodexpress!

Posted on May 19, 2019 by Editor

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Cast Inflatable Haters

from The New York Times

Stop Hating Jeff Koons 

Why “Rabbit,” the perfect art for the roaring mid-80s, continues to speak to us.

By Roberta Smith

Jeff Koons poses with “Rabbit” at the Tate Modern in 2009.CreditCreditDaniel Deme/EPA, via Shutterstock

Jeff Koons is back on top, if on top means holding the highest auction price for a living artist, as hyped by the auction house responsible. Mr. Koons’s 1986 “Rabbit,” a precise stainless steel copy of a plastic inflatable toy — mirror-smooth yet with seams and puckers — sold Wednesday night at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sale for $91.1 million, the highlight of New York’s buoyant spring auctions.

It broke the record set last fall when Christie’s auctioned David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures)” — a 1972painting the size of a small mural — for $90.3 million. But let’s get real. The hammer price for both works was actually $80 million. The “Rabbit” inched ahead by a whisker — about $762,500 — because of a twist of fate: Christie’s increased the fees buyers pay on Feb. 1. The difference was simply a matter of auction house profit-seeking. It recalls the soaring home-run statistics from baseball’s “steroid era” before testing for performance enhancing drugs became routine. The price should have an asterisk or footnote — something that says, hey, the final bids on these two art works were exactly the same. It was a tie.

Mr. Koons, who is 64, set his first living-artist auction record in 2013, when his “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for $58.4 million, also at Christie’s. Then came a precipitous drop: The artist’s big painted aluminum “Play-Doh” went for $22.8 million in 2014. Unlike “Play-Doh,” the “Rabbit,” made in 1986, has been with us over three decades, alternately loved and hated. Some of its most fervent admirers see it as the perfect work of art for its moment, the roaring mid-1980s. I don’t disagree. I also think it continues to speak to us.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on May 18, 2019 by Editor

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Porcelain Ramen

Posted on May 17, 2019 by Editor

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I.M. Pei Gone (at 102!)

from Curbed

I.M. Pei, modernist architect, dies at 102

The pioneering Chinese-American architect won a Pritzker Prize in 1983

By Patrick Sisson

Sygma via Getty Images

I.M. Pei, the Pritzker Prize-winning Chinese-American architect famous for his soaring, lyrical renditions of contemporary architecture, has passed away at age 102. [Update] Marc Diamond, director of communications at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, has confirmed the news. 

Under his direction, Pei’s firm was responsible for a wide range of buildings in the United States and abroad, most famously the glass-topped extension of Paris’s Louvre Museum. The architect was celebrated not only for his great skill as a designer, but for his ability to collaborate with clients and bridge their needs in ways that did not compromise his own striking vision. 

The jury for the Pritzker Prize, which was awarded to Pei in 1983, cited his incredible scope as one of the many reasons for awarding him the profession’s top honor. 

“I.M. Pei has refused to limit himself to a narrow range of architectural problems,” the announcement reads. “His work over the past forty years includes not only palaces of industry, government and culture, but also some of the best moderate and low-income housing. Through his skill he has elevated the use of materials to an art.”

[ click to continue reading at Curbed ]

Posted on May 16, 2019 by Editor

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Taco Bell Hotel

from CNBC

Taco Bell is opening a hotel and resort

by Amelia Lucas

H/O: Taco Bell hotel door 190514
Hotel door at The Bell, A Taco Bell Hotel & ResortCourtesy Taco Bell

Taco Bell’s latest limited-time offer isn’t Nacho Fries — it’s a hotel.

The Mexican fast-food chain is taking over a Palm Springs, California, hotel and resort in its latest move to recognize the brand’s super fans.

Reservations will open in June, and guests can start checking in Aug. 9. The Yum Brands unit didn’t specify how long it would operate the hotel.

The Bell will feature a gift shop with exclusive Taco Bell-themed apparel and an on-site salon with Taco Bell-inspired nail art and hair styling services.

[ click to continue reading at CNBC ]

Posted on May 15, 2019 by Editor

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Pulp Basquiat

from artnet

Basquiat, the Comic Book: See the Rise of Art Star Jean-Michel Basquiat in a New Graphic Novel

Basquiat’s dramatic life story has inspired films, a Broadway musical, and now a graphic novel.

by Eileen Kinsella

Image courtesy of Paolo Parisi.
Image courtesy of Paolo Parisi.

Who needs Captain America when you have Basquiat?

A new graphic novel published by UK-based Laurence King traces the rise of Jean-Michel Basquiat from street-art upstart to international fame. It is the latest graphic novel by illustrator Paolo Parisi, who has previously written and illustrated volumes on the lives of music legends Billie Holiday and John Coltrane.

In a chapter excerpted here, entitled “New Art/New Money,” Parisi takes a close look at the artist’s prolific output and often-contentious relationship with famous art dealers including Annina Nosei, Mary Boone, and Larry Gagosian. All are seen vying to work with the artist as the buzz around him begins to build and the supercharged market machine of the 1980s kicks into high gear.

Basquiat’s dramatic life story has inspired everything from biopics to a Broadway musical. As in other Basquiat-inspired projects, the details in the graphic novel may be exaggerated or twisted—it’s hard to imagine notoriously competitive Larry Gagosian telling Mary Boone encouragingly, “Basquiat has to be the new star, and you with him,” while Basquiat comes off as a bit more naive and far less conflicted then we now know him to be. But if you are looking for an art yarn in graphic novel form, take a look at the excerpt below and decide for yourself.

[ click to continue reading at artnet ]

Posted on May 14, 2019 by Editor

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Trash Even In The Trench

from Reuters

Trash found littering ocean floor in deepest-ever sub dive

by Daniel Fastenberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – On the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine, a Texas investor and explorer found something he could have found in the gutter of nearly any street in the world: trash.

Victor Vescovo, a retired naval officer, said he made the unsettling discovery as he descended nearly 6.8 miles (35,853 feet/10,928 meters) to a point in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench that is the deepest place on Earth. His dive went 52 feet (16 meters) lower than the previous deepest descent in the trench in 1960.

Vescovo found undiscovered species as he visited places no human had gone before. On one occasion he spent four hours on the floor of the trench, viewing sea life ranging from shrimp-like anthropods with long legs and antennae to translucent “sea pigs” similar to a sea cucumber.

He also saw angular metal or plastic objects, one with writing on it.

“It was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean,” Vescovo said in an interview.

Plastic waste has reached epidemic proportions in the world’s oceans with an estimated 100 million tonnes dumped there to date, according to the United Nations. Scientists have found large amounts of micro plastic in the guts of deep-dwelling ocean mammals like whales.

[ click to continue reading at Reuters ]

Posted on May 13, 2019 by Editor

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Silver King Gone

from Fox 5

Wrestler dies during match, but it was so staged, at first no one knew anything was wrong

LONDON (AP) – A well-known Mexican wrestler who co-starred in the film comedy “Nacho Libre” died in London after he collapsed during a match that a witness described as so elaborately staged it wasn’t immediately clear something seriously was wrong.

Cesar Cuauhtemoc Gonzalez Barron, who wrestled with the ring name Silver King, was one of the featured wrestlers of “The Greatest Show of Lucha Libre” on Saturday night. The north London performance venue, the Roundhouse, tweeted just after 12:30 a.m. Sunday that the 51-year-old “sadly lost his life” during the event.

Lucha Libre World, which promoted the Roundhouse event, said in a statement the lucha libre star “suffered what we believe was a cardiac arrest while performing in the show and sadly passed away.”

[ click to continue reading at Fox 5 ]

Posted on May 12, 2019 by Editor

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Melina Matsoukas Rising

from Yahoo! UK

These female directors are changing the landscape of film as we know it

Melina Matsoukas

A music video director who has been behind the camera of some of your favourite Queen Bey, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Kylie Minogue vids, we’re all counting down until Matsoukas’ directorial feature film debut, Queen and Slim, written by Lena Waithe and James Frey and starring Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya, scheduled for release in November 2019.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! UK ]

Posted on May 11, 2019 by Editor

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Dali Deepfake

from The Verge

Deepfake Salvador Dalí takes selfies with museum visitors

By

Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí once said in an interview, “I believe in general in death, but in the death of Dali, absolutely not.” Now, the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, has worked to fulfill the painter’s prophecy by bringing him back to life — with a deepfake.

The exhibition, called Dalí Lives, was made in collaboration with the ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (GS&P), which made a life-size re-creation of Dalí using the machine learning-powered video editing technique. Using archival footage from interviews, GS&P pulled over 6,000 frames and used 1,000 hours of machine learning to train the AI algorithm on Dalí’s face. His facial expressions were then imposed over an actor with Dalí’s body proportions, and quotes from his interviews and letters were synced with a voice actor who could mimic his unique accent, a mix of French, Spanish, and English.

[ click to continue reading at The Verge ]

Posted on May 10, 2019 by Editor

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Ponto Troll Crew Slams Tam

Posted on May 9, 2019 by Editor

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Naked Bookseller Gone

from the Parker Pioneer

Quartzsite’s ‘Naked Bookseller’ Paul Winer dies

By John Gutekunst and Brandon Bowers

Long-time Quartzsite resident Paul Winer died the evening of May 7 at his home. He was 75 years old.

Winer was best known as the owner of Reader’s Oasis Books in Quartzsite, where he gained notoriety as the “naked bookseller.” He was also a professional entertainer and musician. He was even an artist, drawing a comic strip on local events entitled “As the Crow Flies.”

Long-time Quartzsite resident Paul Winer died the evening of May 7 at his home. He was 75 years old.

Winer was best known as the owner of Reader’s Oasis Books in Quartzsite, where he gained notoriety as the “naked bookseller.” He was also a professional entertainer and musician. He was even an artist, drawing a comic strip on local events entitled “As the Crow Flies.”

[ click to continue reading at the Pioneer ]

Posted on May 8, 2019 by Editor

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Bad Alexa!

from ctpost

Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time

by Geoffrey A. Fowler

Would you let a stranger eavesdrop in your home and keep the recordings? For most people, the answer is, “Are you crazy?”

Yet that’s essentially what Amazon has been doing to millions of us with its assistant Alexa in microphone-equipped Echo speakers. And it’s hardly alone: Bugging our homes is Silicon Valley’s next frontier.

Many smart-speaker owners don’t realize it, but Amazon keeps a copy of everything Alexa records after it hears its name. Apple’s Siri, and until recently Google’s Assistant, by default also keep recordings to help train their artificial intelligences.

[ click to continue reading at ctpost.com ]

Posted on May 7, 2019 by Editor

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Maximum Security Robbery

Posted on May 6, 2019 by Editor

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Mona Lisa Fracture

from The Telegraph

Leonardo da Vinci never finished the Mona Lisa because he injured his arm while fainting, experts say

by  Henry Bodkin

The chalk drawing of da Vinci by Giovan Ambrogio Finio has offered new clues
The chalk drawing of da Vinci by Giovan Ambrogio Finio has offered new clues CREDIT: POLO MUSEALE DEL VENETO

Leonardo da Vinci left the Mona Lisa unfinished because he gravely injured his arm while fainting, a new study argues.

The cause of the renaissance artist’s disability has been debated by art historians for centuries, and in recent years partial paralysis as a result of a stroke has emerged as the dominant theory.

Proponents have pointed to da Vinic’s vegetarianism as a clue, arguing that the high-dairy diet he is assumed to have eaten would have made a stroke more likely.

However, two senior Italian doctors now claim to have solved the mystery, having studied a drawing of da Vinci by an obscure Lombard artist.

The blood-red chalk picture by Giovan Ambrogio Finio depicts an elderly da Vinci with his lower right arm at right-angles to his body, swaddled in folds of his clothes as if in a sling.

His thumb, first and second figures are extended, with his fourth and fifth fingers are contracted.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Dr Davide Lazzeri, a plastic surgeon, and Dr Carlo Rossi, a neurologist, argue that if da Vinci had indeed suffered a stroke, it is far more likely his entire fist would have been clenched.

[ click to continue reading at The Telegraph ]

Posted on May 5, 2019 by Editor

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The Birth Of Prime

from Vox

The making of Amazon Prime, the internet’s most successful and devastating membership program

An oral history of the subscription service that changed online shopping forever.

By Jason Del Rey

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos pushing a shopping cart full of books back in 1998.
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle, Washington in September 1998. Rex Rystedt/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

It’s easy to forget now, but Amazon wasn’t always the king of online shopping. In the fall of 2004, Jeff Bezos’s company was still mostly selling just books and DVDs. 

That same year, Amazon was under siege from multiple sides. Some of its biggest competitors were brick-and-mortar chains like Best Buy, which was still in expansion mode at the time, with sales growing 17 percent annually. Toys ‘R’ Us sued Amazon in a high-profile battle, alleging it had violated an agreement the two companies had for the toy store chain to be an exclusive seller on Amazon.com. 

And during the holiday season, Amazon’s website suffered repeated outages, drawing the wrath of customers and the press alike.

Amazon was worth $18 billion at the time. Its online rival eBay, on the other hand, was an internet darling worth nearly $33 billion. If you were an outsider to both companies and you had to pick one as the future Everything Store, it might have been hard to imagine Amazon as the victor.

But 15 years later, Amazon is worth more than $900 billion, compared to just $33 billion for its old foe eBay, which spun off its (more valuable) payment division, PayPal. And the Amazon Prime membership program is perhaps the biggest reason why.

[ click to continue reading at Vox ]

Posted on May 4, 2019 by Editor

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Chewbacca Gone

from CNN

Peter Mayhew, Chewbacca in ‘Star Wars,’ dies at 74

By Kendall Trammell and Jamiel Lynch

Peter Mayhew, the original Chewbacca, has died, according to his agent.

Mayhew, 74, died on April 30 with his family by his side in his North Texas home. He is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children.

The Hollywood icon played Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, episode 3 of the prequels and the New Trilogy, according to a statement from his family.Mayhew, who once used a wheelchair because of a bum knee, stood tall to portray Chewbacca once more in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” He also consulted on “The Last Jedi” to help teach his successor.

[ click to continue reading at CNN ]

Posted on May 3, 2019 by Editor

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The Three Walken Pigs

Posted on May 2, 2019 by Editor

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Moon Race

from The New Yorker

The Race to Develop the Moon

For science, profit, and pride, China, the U.S., and private companies are hunting for resources on the lunar surface.

By Rivka Galchen

Illustration by Allan Sanders

In January, the China National Space Administration landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the side we can’t see from Earth. Chang’e-4 was named for a goddess in Chinese mythology, who lives on the moon for reasons connected to her husband’s problematic immortality drink. The story has many versions. In one, Chang’e has been banished to the moon for elixir theft and turned into an ugly toad. In another, she has saved humanity from a tyrannical emperor by stealing the drink. In many versions, she is a luminous beauty and has as a companion a pure-white rabbit.

Chang’e-4 is the first vehicle to alight on the far side of the moon. From that side, the moon blocks radio communication with Earth, which makes landing difficult, and the surface there is craggy and rough, with a mountain taller than anything on Earth. Older geologies are exposed, from which billions of years of history can be deduced. Chang’e-4 landed in a nearly four-mile-deep hole that was formed when an ancient meteor crashed into the moon—one of the largest known impact craters in our solar system.

You may have watched the near-operatic progress of Chang’e-4’s graceful landing. Or the uncannily cute robotic amblings of the lander’s companion, the Yutu-2 rover, named for the moon goddess’s white rabbit. You may have read that, aboard the lander, seeds germinated (cotton, rapeseed, and potato; the Chinese are also trying to grow a flowering plant known as mouse-ear cress), and that the rover survived the fourteen-day lunar night, when temperatures drop to negative two hundred and seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Chang’e-4 is a step in China’s long-term plan to build a base on the moon, a goal toward which the country has rapidly been advancing since it first orbited the moon, in 2007.

If you missed the Chinese mission, maybe it’s because you were focussed on the remarkably inexpensive spacecraft from SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit organization, which crash-landed into the moon on April 11th, soon after taking a selfie while hovering above the lunar surface. The crash was not the original plan, and SpaceIL has already announced its intention of going to the moon again. But maybe you weren’t paying attention to SpaceIL, either, because you were anticipating India’s Chandrayaan-2 moon lander, expected to take off later this year. Or you were waiting for Japan’s first lunar-lander-and-rover mission, scheduled to take place next year. Perhaps you’ve been distracted by the announcement, in January, on the night of the super blood wolf moon, that the European Space Agency plans to mine lunar ice by 2025. Or by Vice-President Mike Pence’s statement, in March, that the United States intends “to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years.”

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on May 1, 2019 by Editor

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