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Posted on February 29, 2020 by Editor

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Freeman Dyson Gone

from NPR

Physicist And Iconoclastic Thinker Freeman Dyson Dies At 96

by GEOFF BRUMFIEL

Acclaimed physicist Freeman Dyson, who pondered the origins of life, interstellar travel and many other topics, died Friday at the age of 96.

His daughter Mia Dyson told NPR that her father died after a short illness. 

Freeman Dyson was known for groundbreaking work in physics and mathematics but his curiosity ranged far beyond those fields. 

“He never got a Ph.D.,” says Robbert Dijkgraaf, director for the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., where Dyson worked. “He felt he was an eternal graduate student, and so he had a license to be interested in everything.”

Dyson was born in Crowthorne, England, in 1923. He studied physics and mathematics at Trinity College in Cambridge, where he worked with physicists including Paul Dirac and Arthur Eddington. During World War II, he was a civilian scientist with the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command. 

After the war, he came to the U.S. to study physics. Together with physicist Richard Feynman, he was able to reconcile two competing theories of quantum electrodynamics, the study of how sub-atomic particles and light interact. “He was able to show that all these different points of view were one and the same thing,” Dijkgraaf says. “He was a great unifier of physics.”

[ click to continue reading at NPR ]

Posted on February 28, 2020 by Editor

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Bikers Against Child Abuse International

from B.A.C.A.

[ click to support Bikers Against Child Abuse ]

Posted on February 27, 2020 by Editor

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What Do You Say To A Naked Lady

from Inside Hook

Revisiting the X-Rated ’70s Prank Film That Scandalized America

“What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?” was more “Punk’d” than porn, but it still got people talking

BY CHARLES BRAMESCO

The bulk of Allen Funt’s career revolved around his curiosity for reaction. He had a lifelong fixation on creating scenarios and documenting how his subjects responded to their unusual circumstances, but approached what would otherwise be clinical work with a mischievous zeal. He was no methodical researcher and came upon his insights casually, if at all. His earliest gigs, as the mind behind the wackiest stunts on NBC Radio’s Truth or Consequences and a punch-up man for Eleanor Roosevelt on her radio commentaries, hinged on his ability to play the public like a piano. He’d cut out the middleman with his own show in 1947, The Candid Microphone, in which a young Funt pulled a fast one on unsuspecting dupes and a 27-pound mic unit hidden in a park or office captured their flummoxing. 

Funt believed he had happened upon a schematic with tremendous potential, and shopped a televised equivalent to ABC in 1948 with the title’s The dropped, Facebook-style. One year later, he crossed town to NBC and tweaked it once more to Candid Camera, which stuck for the next six decades of broadcasts. The show let the tactfully concealed cameras roll as oblivious marks landed in assorted put-ons, from desk drawers mechanically popping open to more elaborate tomfoolery involving Funt’s squadron of actor plants. (Millennial and Gen Z readers: this was the Punk’d of its time, and the one where they pranked then-former President Harry Truman was that era’s Justin Timberlake crying episode.)

As creator and host, Funt masterminded hundreds and hundreds of ruses, leaning on his yen for amateur psychology and sociology more and more as the years went by. Some segments dispensed with the wool-pulling entirely and chronicled revealing interviews between Funt and ordinary folks. He found the peculiarities of homo sapiens endlessly fascinating. 

The other thing to know about Allen Funt is that, like many red-blooded Americans, he enjoyed looking at people with their clothes off. It was the marriage of these two great passions — quirks of pathology and full-frontal nudity — that yielded the illuminating historical footnote What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? 50 years ago this month.

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on February 26, 2020 by Editor

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Harriet Tubman – Emancipationist Ornithologist

from Audubon

Harriet Tubman, an Unsung Naturalist, Used Owl Calls as a Signal on the Underground Railroad 

The famed conductor traveled at night, employing deep knowledge of the region’s environment and wildlife to communicate, navigate, and survive.

by Allison Keyes

Harriet Tubman, 1870s. Photo: Harvey Lindsley/Library of Congress

Many people are aware of Harriet Tubman’s work on the Underground Railroad and as a scout, spy, guerrilla soldier, and nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War. Fewer know of her prowess as a naturalist. 

At the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park in Church Creek, Maryland, Ranger Angela Crenshaw calls Tubman “the ultimate outdoors woman.” She even used bird calls to help guide her charges, eventually helping some 70 people, including her parents and four brothers, escape slavery. 

“We know that she used the call of an owl to alert refugees and her freedom seekers that it was OK, or not OK, to come out of hiding and continue their journey,” Crenshaw says. “It would have been the Barred Owl, or as it is sometimes called, a ‘hoot-owl.’ ‘They make a sound that some people think sounds like ‘who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?’ ”

That nugget comes to Crenshaw from the park’s historian, Kate Clifford Larson, author of the Tubman biography Bound for the Promised Land. “If you used the sound of an owl, it would blend in with the normal sounds you would hear at night. It wouldn’t create any suspicion,” Crenshaw says.

[ click to continue reading at Audubon ]

Posted on February 25, 2020 by Editor

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Be A Lady They Said

Be a Lady They Said from Paul McLean on Vimeo.

Posted on February 24, 2020 by Editor

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Canine Amor

from Phys.org

What makes dogs so special? Science says love

by Issam Ahmed 

True love: a woman and her Valentine's Day date pose behind a heart-shaped pastry during a February 14 Paris flash mob
True love: a woman and her Valentine’s Day date pose behind a heart-shaped pastry during a February 14 Paris flash mob

The idea that animals can experience love was once anathema to the psychologists who studied them, seen as a case of putting sentimentality before scientific rigor.

But a new book argues that, when it comes to dogs, the word is necessary to understanding what has made the relationship between humans and our best friends one of the most significant interspecies partnerships in history. 

Clive Wynne, founder the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, makes the case in “Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You.”

The animal psychologist, 59, began studying dogs in the early 2000s, and, like his peers, believed that to ascribe complex emotions to them was to commit the sin of anthropomorphism—until he was swayed by a body evidence that was growing too big to ignore.

[ click to continue reading at Phys.org ]

Posted on February 23, 2020 by Editor

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Bad Dog!

Posted on February 22, 2020 by Editor

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Adrian Belew

from The Music Aficionado

Adrian Belew, part 1: 1976-1980

The man who was stolen from Frank Zappa by David Bowie – I give you Adrian Belew.

Stewart Copeland suggested this line in lieu of a resume for the gifted guitar player in a shared interview in 2017. Most musicians would kill to have the two legends in the opening line of their resume, but for Adrian Belew this was only the beginning of a meteoric rise from anonymity to a highly acclaimed musician, performer and sonic sculpture artist. This is a detailed two-part review, looking at the first decade of his unique career, from being discovered in a bar gig all the way to his first solo album and guest appearances on a multitude of musical projects.

At the age of 27 Adrian Belew was playing regional gigs around Nashville with Sweetheart, a cover band that adopted a look of old-time gangsters. Belew remembers: “To be in sweetheart you had to cut your hair 40’s style and wear authentic 1940’s vintage clothing. All the time! Even in the daytime if you were going grocery shopping.” The band members excelled at playing the more interesting repertoire of classic rock radio. However Belew started to get disillusioned with his dream of becoming a musician with a record deal, playing his own material. Doing cover songs in small clubs and bars can only get you that far in the music business.

But all of this changed thanks to Terry Pugh. Terry who, you ask? Fair question, for Terry the chauffeur is responsible for turning Adrian Belew’s career around. Without Terry, Adrian Belew could have been an obscure, unknown and forgotten cover band guitarist, a faith shared with thousands of bar band musicians, playing endless gigs without a hope of being discovered. Terry was a fan of Sweetheart and on the night of October 18th, 1976 he found himself driving a limo around Nashville with none other than Frank Zappa in the back seat. Zappa, on tour with his band, was looking for some live music to watch after his show at the Memorial Gymnasium in Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Frank asks Terry to recommend a favorite music act in town, and Terry tells him about a band called Sweetheart with a very good guitarist playing tonight at Fanny’s Bar. They walk in, Zappa likes what he hears and 40 minutes later, while the band is playing a cover of Gimme Shelter, he walks to the stage, shakes hands with the guitar player and tells him: “I’m going to get your name and number from the chauffeur, and when my tour is over I’ll call you for an audition.” So enters Adrian Belew the Zappa universe.

[ click to continue reading at The Music Aficionado ]

Posted on February 21, 2020 by Editor

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Ryan Newman Crash Yikes!

Posted on February 20, 2020 by Editor

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Wicca Rising

from The Atlantic

Why Witchcraft Is on the Rise

Americans’ interest in spell-casting tends to wax as instability rises and trust in establishment ideas plummets.

by BIANCA BOSKER

Juliet diaz said she was having trouble not listening to my thoughts. “Sorry, I kind of read into your head a little bit,” she told me when, for the third time that August afternoon, she answered one of my (admittedly not unpredictable) questions about her witchcraft seconds before I’d had a chance to ask it. She was drinking a homemade “grounding” tea in her apartment in a converted Victorian home in Jersey City, New Jersey, under a dream catcher and within sight of what appeared to be a human skull. We were surrounded by nearly 400 houseplants, the earthy smell of incense, and, according to Diaz, several of my ancestral spirit guides, who had followed me in. “You actually have a nun,” Diaz informed me. “I don’t know where she comes from, and I’m not going to ask her.”

Diaz describes herself as a seer capable of reading auras and connecting with “the other side”; a plant whisperer who can communicate with her succulents; and one in a long line of healers in her family, which traces its roots to Cuba and the indigenous Taíno people, who settled in parts of the Caribbean. She is also a professional witch: Diaz sells anointing oils and “intention infused” body products in her online store, instructs more than 8,900 witches enrolled in her online school, and leads witchy workshops that promise to leave attendees “feeling magical af!” In 2018, Diaz, the author of the best-selling book Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within, earned more than half a million dollars from her magic work and was named Best Witch—yes, there are rankings—by Spirit Guides Magazine.

Now 38 years old, Diaz remembers that when she was growing up, her family’s spellwork felt taboo. But over the past few years, witchcraft, long viewed with suspicion and even hostility, has transmuted into a mainstream phenomenon. The coven is the new squad: There are sea witches, city witches, cottage witches, kitchen witches, and influencer witches, who share recipes for moon water or dreamy photos of altars bathed in candlelight. There are witches living in Winnipeg and Indiana, San Francisco and Dubai; hosting moon rituals in Manhattan’s public parks and selling $11.99 hangover cures that “adjust the vibration of alcohol so that it doesn’t add extra density and energetic ‘weight’ to your aura.” A 2014 Pew Research Center report suggested that the United States’ adult population of pagans and Wiccans was about 730,000—on par with the number of Unitarians. But Wicca represents just one among many approaches to witchery, and not all witches consider themselves pagan or Wiccan. These days, Diaz told me, “everyone calls themselves witches.”

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on February 19, 2020 by Editor

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Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles

from WIRED

The Secret to Blowing Massive Soap Bubbles

This physicist-approved recipe uses a dash of polymers to create world-record-scale bubbles.

by JENNIFER OUELLETTE, ARS TECHNICA

massive bubbles
PHOTOGRAPH: GETTY IMAGES

EVERYBODY LOVES BUBBLES, regardless of age—the bigger the better. But to blow really big, world-record-scale bubbles requires a very precise bubble mixture. Physicists have determined that a key ingredient is mixing in polymers of varying strand lengths, according to  a new paper in Physical Review Fluids. That produces a soap film able to stretch sufficiently thin to make a giant bubble without breaking.

Bubbles may seem frivolous, but there is some complex underlying physics, and hence their study has long been serious science. In the 1800s, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau outlined four basic laws of surface tension that determine the structure of soapy films. Surface tension is why bubbles are round; that shape has the least surface area for a given volume, so it requires the least energy to maintain. Over time, that shape will start to look more like a soccer ball than a perfect sphere, as gravity pulls the liquid downward (called “coarsening”).

Bubbles and foams remain an active area of research. For instance, in 2016, French physicists worked out a theoretical model for the exact mechanism for how soap bubbles form when jets of air hit a soapy film. They found that bubbles formed only above a certain speed of air, which in turn depends on the width of the jet of air. If the jet is wide, there will be a lower threshold for forming bubbles, and those bubbles will be larger than ones produced by narrower jets, which have higher speed thresholds. That’s what’s happening, physics-wise, when we blow bubbles through a ring at then end of a little plastic wand: the jet forms at our lips and is wider than the soapy film suspended within the ring.

In 2018, we reported on how mathematicians at New York University’s Applied Math Lab had fine-tuned the method for blowing the perfect bubble even further based on similar experiments with soapy, thin films. They concluded that it’s best to use a circular wand with a 1.5-inch perimeter and to gently blow at a consistent 6.9 cm/s. Blow at higher speeds and the bubble will burst. Use a smaller or larger wand, and the same thing will happen.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on February 9, 2020 by Editor

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QUEEN & SLIM’s Daniel Kaluuya on car sex

from Marie Claire

QUEEN & SLIM INTERVIEW: Daniel Kaluuya on car sex, difficult scenes and his chemistry with Jodie Turner-Smith

by SOPHIE GODDARD

Daniel Kaluuya
Getty Images

Queen & Slim star Daniel Kaluuya tells Sophie Goddard why filming one of 2020’s most impactful films left him dazed and confused…

Daniel Kaluuya should be used to starring in huge blockbusters by now (he’s already got WidowsBlack Panther and Get Out under his belt) but his latest project, Queen & Slim has left him somewhat unsteady. The film – directed by Melina Matsoukas and written by Lena Waithe – sees the Oscar-nominated star appear alongside Jodie Turner-Smith in a love story that’s earned comparisons to Bonnie & Clyde (more on that shortly). “It’s very surreal,” he says, when asked how the unanimous praise feels. “It starts off being your secret, but then everyone else is watching it.” Here, he talks us through the filming process, and why he’s still unsure what he makes of it all.

[ click to continue reading at Marie Claire ]

Posted on February 8, 2020 by Editor

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The Bluest Eye

from The New Yorker

Toni Morrison’s Profound and Unrelenting Vision

“The Bluest Eye,” which was published fifty years ago, cut a new path through the American literary landscape by placing black girls at the center of the story.

By Hilton Als

Morrison in 1970, the year that her intellectually expansive, spiritually knowing first novel, “The Bluest Eye,” was published. Photograph from Chester Higgins Archive

Before closing the book on that town and those people, the author has us pause for a few final images and thoughts framed by regret, shame, and horror. The book? Toni Morrison’s début novel, “The Bluest Eye,” which turns fifty this year. As the story ends, one of its protagonists, the blighted Pecola Breedlove, has been more or less abandoned by the townspeople, who have treated her with scorn for most of her life; now she’s left to wander the streets in madness:

The damage done was total. She spent her days, her tendril sap-green days, walking up and down, up and down, her head jerking to the beat of a drummer so distant only she could hear. Elbows bent, hands on her shoulders, she flailed her arms like a bird in an eternal, grotesquely futile effort to fly. Beating the air, a winged but grounded bird, intent on the blue void it could not reach—could not even see—but which filled the valley of the mind.

Spectacular even alongside other early novels bathed in the blood of gothic dread—William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” (1930), say, or Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” or Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” (both published in 1952)—Morrison’s book cut a new path through the American literary landscape by placing young black girls at the center of the story.

Like all the principal characters in “The Bluest Eye,” Pecola lives in Lorain, Ohio, where Morrison, who died last August, was born in 1931. When we meet Pecola, she is eleven years old but already ancient with sorrow. Her only escape from the emotional abuse that her family and her classmates heap on her is to dream. And the dream is this: that someone—God, perhaps—will grant her the gift of blue eyes. The kind of blue eyes Pecola has seen in pictures of the movie star Shirley Temple. The kind of blue eyes that she imagines lighting up the face of the girl on the wrapper of her favorite candies, Mary Janes. Pecola feels, or the world has made her feel, that if she had blue eyes she would, at last, be free—free from her unforgivable blackness, from what her community labelled ugliness long before she could look in a mirror and determine for herself who and what she was. Not that she ever looks in a mirror. She knows what she’d find there: judgment of her blackness, her femaleness, the deforming language that has distorted the reflection of her face. Eventually, Pecola does acquire, or believes she acquires, blue eyes. But in those harrowing final images, Claudia MacTeer, Morrison’s spirited nine-year-old narrator, sees what Pecola cannot, what her madness, the result of all that rejection, looks like to the rest of the town: “Grown people looked away; children, those who were not frightened by her, laughed outright.”

In this short, intellectually expansive, emotionally questioning, and spiritually knowing book, the act of looking—and seeing—is described again and again.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on February 7, 2020 by Editor

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QUEEN & SLIM – Love on the run

from The Guardian

Queen & Slim review – love on the run across the US racial divide

by Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

Bokeem Woodbine and Indya Moore in Queen and Slim.
Bokeem Woodbine and Indya Moore in Queen & Slim. Photograph: Universal Pictures/AP

This arresting debut feature from Melina Matsoukas – Grammy-award winning director of Beyoncé’s Formation video, whose television CV includes Master of None and Insecure – puts new twists on familiar outlaw riffs that can be traced back through Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde to À bout de souffle and beyond. Boasting outstandingly empathic performances from dynamite screen presence Daniel Kaluuya (Oscar-nominated for Get Out) and rising star Jodie Turner-Smith, in a career-making first feature lead, it’s an intoxicatingly lawless lovers-on-the-run romance played out against the politically charged backdrop of racially divided modern America.

Shot in a dreamy natural light by Tat Radcliffe, who did such remarkable work on French-Algerian director Yann Demange’s Belfast-set ’71, and sensuously scored by Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange), Queen & Slimimmerses its audience in an unfolding road-movie fable. While Lena Waithe’s script (on which author/producer James Frey shares a story credit) may veer occasionally into narrative contrivance, there’s an emotional honesty to the central love story that rings true despite the odd note of implausibility – a sense of powerful, magical potential that burns out any first-feature flaws.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on February 6, 2020 by Editor

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Lil Baby Drops “Catch The Sun” for QUEEN & SLIM

Posted on February 5, 2020 by Editor

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Jumbo @ Sundance

from The Daily Beast

The Wild Sundance Movie About a Woman in Love With a Theme-Park Ride

The lyrical French Sundance indie “Jumbo” focuses on a little-known condition called objectophilia in which people develop romantic feelings for inanimate objects.

by Natalia Winkelman

Jumbo may be among the first narrative films to focus on objectophilia—or romantic attraction to inanimate objects—but there have been enough TLC segments on the condition to at least half-absorb one’s attention through a very long flight. Perhaps the most famous of these cases is Erika Eiffel, an Olympic archer who married the Eiffel Tower in 2004. In the media, Eiffel’s case was rarely taken seriously, surveyed instead with raised eyebrows and punny punchlines.

Eiffel’s story was also the inspiration behind Jumbo, which approaches its object romance—between a theme park worker named Jeanne and a ride named Jumbo—with far greater curiosity and generosity than they’re so often granted. The film is writer-director Zoé Wittock’s debut feature, and it’s an impressively realized study, nailing a tricky tone without judging or fetishizing its subject. It’s also a gorgeous film visually, full of dimly lit sequences punctuated with swirls of vibrant color. Throughout, the story spins on an axis of vigorous subjectivity; from its vivid opening shot, in which Jeanne (Portrait of a Lady on Fire’sdazzling Noémie Merlant) stands in a field gazing at the ride, we’re acutely aware that what we’re about to experience belongs to her and her alone.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on February 4, 2020 by Editor

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