The Confessions of Samuel Little

from The Washington Post via San Francisco Chronicle

How America’s deadliest serial killer went undetected for more than 40 years

by Wesley Lowery, Hannah Knowles and Mark Berman, The Washington Post

Samuel Little guided his car to a stop in a secluded area off Route 27 near Miami and cut the engine. Before long, Mary Brosley had straddled his lap. He started playing with her necklace.

He’d met her at a nearby bar, drinking away the final hours of 1970. She was a tiny, beautiful mess of a woman, about 5-foot-4 and anorexic, barely 80 pounds. The tip of her left pinkie finger was missing, sliced off in a kitchen accident, and she walked with a limp from hip surgery.

Brosley said she had left a series of lovers and two children in Massachusetts after endless confrontations about her drinking. Estranged from her family, struggling to survive, she was the kind of woman who might disappear from the face of the Earth without attracting much notice.

Little admired the way the moonlight illuminated her pale throat.

“I had desires. Strong desires to . . . choke her,” he would later tell police. “I just went out of control, I guess.”

By New Year’s Day 1971, Mary Brosley, 33, had become the first known victim of a man since recognized as the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. Over more than 700 hours of videotaped interviews with police that began in May 2018, Little, now 80, has confessed to killing 93 people, virtually all of them women, in a murderous rampage that spanned 19 states and more than 30 years.

[ click to continue reading at Chron ]

Darth Vader Gone

from The Verge

Darth Vader actor David Prowse has died at 85

The 6-foot-6 former bodybuilder played the Star Wars villain in the original trilogy

By Kim Lyons

David Prowse as the Green Cross Code Man in 1981 Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

David Prowse, the actor who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars films, has died, the Associated Press reported. He was 85. 

George Lucas asked Prowse to audition for Star Wars after seeing the 6-foot-6 actor in the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange. Prowse had his choice of playing Chewbacca or Vader, and opted for the latter because, as he told the BBC, “you always remember the bad guy.” Plus, he added, he didn’t fancy wearing Chewbacca’s fur suit.

Prowse played Luke Skywalker’s erstwhile father in Star WarsThe Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, but famously, his voice didn’t make it into the films. He said all Vader’s lines, but the voice of James Earl Jones was later dubbed in.

[ click to continue reading at The Verge ]

A51 Why?

from CBS News

What is Area 51? And why is it so secretive?

BY JESSICA LEARISH

Revellers Descend On Nevada Desert For "Storm Area 51" Gathering Men dressed as aliens dance at “Alienstock,” a  “Storm Area 51” spinoff event, on September 20, 2019 in Rachel, Nevada. GETTY IMAGES

It’s been a perennial American obsession for more than 50 years. It’s provided a shadowy backdrop for shows like “The X-Files” and movies like the 1996 summer blockbuster “Independence Day.” And in 2019, this well-known but little-understood location took over social media when one jokester inspired millions of people to RSVP “yes” to trespassing.

The place: Area 51, a remote patch of desert some 83 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas, next to a salt flat at the foot of a mountain. This military outpost — and what’s happened inside it — is so top-secret that its very existence was disputed until 2013.

In short, Area 51 was created during the Cold War to help America peek in on the Soviet Union. But, because of its clandestine beginnings and cutting-edge tech, many Americans came to associate the base with extraterrestrial ships and little green men. 

[ click to continue reading at CBS News ]

Monolith Returned

from artnet

A Mysterious Steel Monolith Was Discovered in the Utah Desert. Is It a Work of Art—or the Work of Aliens?

Theories about who or what is behind the object have started circulating online.

Cue Also sprach Zarathustra

A mysterious steel monolith has been discovered deep in the red rock canyons of southern Utah. And no one seems to know who—or what—is behind it.

Officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) eyed the object from a helicopter last week while counting bighorn sheep in the area. The spotters were quick to posit two theories about the polished steel block: it’s either a work of art, or the work of aliens. 

“I’m assuming it’s some new-wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ fan,” Bret Hutchings, the helicopter pilot, told the Utah news outlet KSL 5 News

[ click to continue reading at artnet ]

Maradona Gone

from GOAL

Maradona: The making of a footballing legend

by Daniel Edwards

The Argentine hero celebrated his 60th birthday shortly before his untimely death on Wednesday, and Goal looks back on what made him such an icon 

A legend, a man whose every word and action is headline news.

Diego Maradona passed away on Wednesday at the age of 60, though the Argentina and Napoli idol seemed to pack in enough action into his six decades to fill 10 regular lives. 

From the mop-haired prodigy that first took the Primera Division by storm, through his adventures in SpainItaly and on the international stage, Maradona has rarely been away from the public eye.

[ click to continue reading at GOAL.com ]

Mushies Going Mainstream

from The Observer

The Hunt For The Other Magic Ingredients In Magic Mushrooms

By Chris Roberts

Harvesting Mazatec psilocybin mushrooms from their growing tubs May 19, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Joe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

In the late 1980s, Jochum Gartz, a chemist at the Institute for Biotechnology in Leipzig, Germany, noticed something intriguing about magic mushrooms.

There are more than 200 species of fungus that produce psilocybin, which was then and now thought to be the “active ingredient” in psychedelic mushrooms. Those different mushrooms, found all over the world and grown in different conditions, were not at all the same. And what they did to the humans who ate them, Gartz observed, was definitely not the same.

Gartz noted 24 cases of “accidental” hallucinogenic mushroom ingestion. In every case, the users all reported intense euphoria—all positive vibes, with no anxiety, dystopia, or unease. No bad trip.

All 24 of the “good trippers” had eaten a species of mushroom called Inocybe aeruginascens. That species has relatively high levels of a compound called aeruginascin, one of several chemical compounds identified in psilocybin-producing mushrooms.

[ click to continue reading at Observer ]

The Genius of M B-W

from Real Clear Politics

Margaret Bourke-White’s True-to-Life Gift

By Carl M. Cannon

Eighty-four years ago today, a shiny and sophisticated pictorial publication hit the newsstands. The brainchild of Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, two prep school friends who ran the college newspaper at Yale, this glossy magazine would change the way Americans looked at their world. It was called, fittingly, Life.

Although Briton Hadden may be an unfamiliar name to you, he was a singular and pivotal figure in 20th century journalism. He and Luce had burst onto the scene in 1923 with Time, the nation’s first modern weekly newsmagazine. Its very conception was Brit Hadden’s, as was its distinctive voice, dubbed “Timestyle.” It was also Hadden who raised the money to launch it. All this was known in the 1920s, including by Time’s readers. In his authoritative account of those early years, scholar Isaiah Wilner produced an unpublished letter-to-the-editor from a reader who said, flatly, “Briton Hadden was the presiding genius.”

[ click to continue reading at RCP ]

Herzog’s Fireball

from Inside Hook

What Does Werner Herzog Think About Trader Joe’s, Texas and Meteors?

BY NADJA SAYEJ

In 1954, a woman was hit by a grapefruit-sized meteorite while napping on the couch. Known today as the Sylacauga meteorite, this asteroid flew in through the ozone layer, through the Alabama sky and hit Ann Elizabeth Fowler Hodges in her farmhouse. She was bruised on her torso but survived to become the subject of much publicity.

This story and more is featured in Werner Herzog’s latest documentary, Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds, a far-reaching portrait of the fascinating world of meteorites premiering Friday on Apple TV+ Considering that this cosmic dust falls on the planet every day, the film, co-directed by Herzog and scientist Clive Oppenheimer, helps us better understand the phenomenon of meteorites, from their history to how we track them today to their cultural significance.

The duo traveled to over 10 countries, from Saudi Arabia to India and Australia, visiting places where fireballs and massive meteors have fallen — like the Chicxulub crater, the largest asteroid ever known to hit the earth in Chicxulub Puerto, Mexico. They interviewed countless experts on meteors, from geochemist Nita Sahai to Cambridge University’s Simon Schaffer and even the Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA, which protects the earth from incoming asteroids with giant telescopes at the SJ Pan-STARRS Observatory in Haleakalā, Hawaii.

It isn’t all science, however, as it taps into the poetic beauty of meteors and their symbolic meaning, as with a tribe on Murray Island off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where locals have a traditional fireball dance.

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Brain Decoder

from NextGov

Army-Funded Algorithm Decodes Brain Signals

The algorithm is part of an effort to eventually establish a machine-brain interface.

By Mila Jasper

But researchers funded by the U.S. Army developed a machine-learning algorithm that can model and decode these signals, according to a Nov. 12 press release. The research, which used standard brain datasets for analysis, was recently published in the journal Nature Neuroscience

“Our algorithm can, for the first time, dissociate the dynamic patterns in brain signals that relate to specific behaviors and is much better at decoding these behaviors,” Dr. Maryam Shanechi, the engineering professor at the University of Southern California who led the research, said in a statement. 

Dr. Hamid Krim, a program manager at the Army Research Office, part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, told Nextgov Shanechi and her team used the algorithm to separate what they call behaviorally relevant brain signals from behaviorally irrelevant brain signals. 

“This presents a potential way of reliably measuring, for instance, the mental overload of an individual, of a soldier,” Krim said. 

[ click to continue reading at NextGov.com ]

Stupid Asteroid

from CNN

Dinosaurs would have continued to thrive had it not been for the asteroid, researchers say

By Amy Woodyatt, CNN

An artist’s interpretation of the asteroid impact that wiped out all non-avian dinosaurs

Dinosaurs were doing well and could have continued to dominate Planet Earth if they had not been wiped out by an asteroid, new research has found.

After emerging during the Triassic period some 230 million years ago, dinosaurs occupied every continent and were dominant in most terrestrial ecosystems, until they were rendered extinct by the asteroid impact 66 million years ago. 

Some scientists believe the creatures were beginning to lose their edge and were already heading for extinction when the asteroid hit Earth at the end of the late Cretaceous period.

But researchers from the UK’s University of Bath are hoping to put this theory to bed. Gathering diverse and up-to-date data, researchers used statistical analysis to assess whether the dinosaurs were still able to produce new species up until their untimely demise.

[ click to continue reading at CNN ]

B.E.E. Serial

from MovieMaker

Bret Easton Ellis Serializes New High School Serial Killer Story — on His Podcast

by Tim Molloy

Bret Easton Ellis serializes new serial killer novel The Shards on his podcast

For the last six episodes of his podcast, American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis has held readers rapt with an early 1980s story of Los Angeles high school kids who become entangled with a handsome new student named Robert Mallory — and a serial killer known as The Trawler.

Adding to the intrigue: Ellis says everything in the story really happened to him and his friends.

Ellis, a frequent critique of Hollywood and literary censorship, explained early on that he was releasing the podcast to his paid subscribers in part because he isn’t sure anyone would publish it, given its sometimes horrific contents. He has also wondered if his most successful works – including American Psycho and Less Than Zero — would find publishers today, given the sensitivities of 2020.

The new story, which Ellis has alternately described as a novel and a memoir, is full of details that might migraine the minds of modern-day publishers: a killer who trawls home before his murders (like the Manson family once did), learning their blueprints and stealing pets; underage sex; and ghastly violations involving dead fish. The working title is The Shards.

Ellis is, as he explains on the podcast, completing a new installment every two weeks in time to read it at the start of each B.E.E. Podcast. He has no editor, no notes from a nervous publisher, no corporate board worried about potential fallout. He has changed names and other details, he says, but sometimes friends from Buckley, his Sherman Oaks private school, will contact him after an episode to make minor corrections.

[ click to continue reading at MovieMaker ]

Kid Groupie

from Vulture

Our ‘Lost’ Weekend With Van Halen

A couple college dudes won an MTV contest to tour with Van Halen. Then all hell broke loose.

By Chris Lee

On an overcast morning in the spring of 1984, Kurt Jefferis and Tom Winnick, a couple of college-age bros of no particular renown, departed the world of normalcy in a stretch limousine to embark on a rock-and-roll fantasy. Their destination: Detroit. More accurately: oblivion. Jefferis, a 20-year-old department-store stock clerk, had bested more than a million other competitors to win the MTV contest “Lost Weekend With Van Halen.” He and his plus-one, Winnick, a childhood buddy, would in a matter of hours find themselves backstage with the legendarily hard-partying Atomic Punks on a two-day bender that ticked every box of rock debauchery synonymous with the Big Hair era. “You’ll have no idea where you are,” Van Halen’s vainglorious front man, David Lee Roth, said in a promo for the contest. “You’ll have no idea where you’re going and probably no memory of it after you go.”

That turned out to be partially true. As Jefferis and Winnick tell it now, nearly 40 years later, in the weeks following Hall of Fame guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen’s death, certain elements from the Weekend remain fixed points in their lives — the private jets, the Champagne and lobster, the cocaine, the onstage chugs of Jack Daniel’s, a woman named Tammy — while other details have been lost to the fog of time. The contest becamesomething of Van Halen folklore in the intervening years; it was the subject of a short film, Lost Weekend, which screened in competition at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, as well as a dedicated chapter (subtitled “MTV and Van Halen Team Up to Nearly Kill a Super-Fan”) in the 2011 book I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. The events surrounding the contest unfolded just as Van Halen was first ascending the heights of multiplatinum superstardom but only months before Roth would quit the quartet for a solo career. What took place in front of MTV’s cameras served as a primitive precursor to reality television: loosely scripted situational intrigue that wound up far beyond anyone’s control.

[ click to continue reading at Vulture ]

The Oracle Returned

from The New Yorker

Wikipedia, “Jeopardy!,” and the Fate of the Fact

In the Internet age, it can seem as if there’s no reason to remember anything. But information doesn’t always amount to knowledge.

By Louis Menand

Is it still cool to memorize a lot of stuff? Is there even a reason to memorize anything? Having a lot of information in your head was maybe never cool in the sexy-cool sense, more in the geeky-cool or class-brainiac sense. But people respected the ability to rattle off the names of all the state capitals, or to recite the periodic table. It was like the ability to dunk, or to play the piano by ear—something the average person can’t do. It was a harmless show of superiority, and it gave people a kind of species pride.

There is still no artificial substitute for the ability to dunk. It remains a valued and nontransferrable aptitude. But today who needs to know the capital of South Dakota or the atomic number of hafnium (Pierre and 72)? Siri, or whatever chatbot you use, can get you that information in nanoseconds. Remember when, back in the B.D.E. (Before the Digital Era), you’d be sitting around with friends over a bottle of Puligny-Montrachet, and the conversation would turn on the question of when Hegel published “The Phenomenology of Spirit”? Unless you had an encyclopedia for grownups around the house, you’d either have to trek to your local library, whose only copy of the “Phenomenology” was likely to be checked out, or use a primitive version of the “lifeline”—i.e., telephone a Hegel expert. Now you ask your smartphone, which is probably already in your hand. (I just did: 1807. Took less than a second.)

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

The Largest Astronomy Book In The World

from National Geographic

Why the Nasca lines are among Peru’s greatest mysteries

The lines drawn in geometric patterns and distinct animal shapes across the Peruvian desert have inspired many theories over the years. Here’s what we know—and what remains to be seen.

BY JASON GOLOMB

AS A PLANE soars over the high desert of southern Peru, the dull pale sameness of the rocks and sand organize and change form. Distinct white lines gradually evolve from tan and rust-red. Strips of white crisscross a desert so dry that it rains less than an inch every year. The landscape changes as lines take shape to form simple geometric designs: trapezoids, straight lines, rectangles, triangles, and swirls. Some of the swirls and zigzags start to form more distinct shapes: a hummingbird, a spider, a monkey.

These are the renowned Nasca lines—subject of mystery for over 80 years. How were they formed? What purpose could they have served? Were aliens involved?

The lines are found in a region of Peru just over 200 miles southeast of Lima, near the modern town of Nasca. In total, there are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs, also called biomorphs. Some of the straight lines run up to 30 miles, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1200 feet in length (as large as the Empire State Building).

[ click to continue reading at Nat Geo ]

Tower Records Reborn

from Deadline

Iconic Tower Records Returns As Website Selling Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs

By Bruce Haring

YouTube

One of the most iconic retailers in entertainment has returned in a new incarnation. Tower Records, which closed its stores 14 years ago and declared bankruptcy, today announced it has come back as an online service.

The new Tower Records has online events, the return of its Tower Pulse! magazine, a merchandise section, and, of course, music, music, music, including vinyl and cassette selections in various genres.

Founded in Sacramento in 1960 as a section in a drug store, the chain grew to an international success behind the savvy of the late Russ Solomon, who was memorialized in a 2015 film, All Things Must Pass, which studied the chain’s rise and eventual demise, save for a giant store in Tokyo that retained the name and remains open.

[ click to continue reading at Deadline ]

Banksyangelo

from The Wall Street Journal

Was Michelangelo a Renaissance Banksy? 

Scholars consider whether the master was behind a wall carving; ‘Who would ever say it is by my hand?’

By Kelly Crow

Tour guides in Florence, Italy, have long claimed that the small outline of a curly-haired man carved into the stone wall of the city’s town hall, known as the Palazzo Vecchio, was covertly chiseled by Michelangelo. 

Some versions of the legend say the Renaissance master caricatured the face of a heckler. Other versions say he documented the face of a stranger headed for execution.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Fiddy Roth Frey

from Deadline

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Partners With Eli Roth, 3BlackDot For Three-Pic Deal

By Greg Evans

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Eli Roth / Mega

Producer and recording artist Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is partnering with Eli Roth and entertainment studio 3BlackDot for a three-picture feature film deal. The deal expands Power player Jackson’s G-Unit Film & Television in the horror film space.

Jackson’s G-Unit will team with the Arts District Entertainment, Roth’s banner with Roger Birnbaum and Michael Besman. The deal, according to G-Unit and 3-BlackDot, involves an “8-figure investment in 50 Cent and G-Unit Film & Television from 3BlackDot.” The latter will act as financier and studio across all the films.

The three entities will collaborate on each film, while utilizing 3Blackdot’s in-house resources in gaming, publishing, and merchandise to build out entertainment properties. A statement announcing the deal says the film IP will be leveraged using Jackson, Roth and 3Blackdot “to platform into a 360-degree experience across video games, publishing and merchandise.”

[ click to continue reading at Deadline ]

Great Tits Gone

from The New York Post

Great tits could be wiped out by climate change in near future

By Ben Cost

The great tit could soon go the way of the dodo.
The great tit could soon go the way of the dodo.

We mean the birds, dirtbags.

The unfortunately named great tit has joined a long list of species that could soon disappear due to Earth’s rapidly warming climate.

“If the changes happen too fast, species can become extinct,” said Emily Simmonds, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s department of biology. She authored an article in the journal Ecology Letters detailing how the food supply of the great tit — a colorful songbird endemic to Europe and Asia — and other bird species can be impacted by a premature season shift caused by rising temperatures. 

Simmonds argued that warmer winters and resultant early springs prompt plants to leaf earlier, causing tree-eating larvae to hatch ahead of time, Science Daily reported. This can prove problematic to birds like the great tit that depend on the spring bug bounty when they’re babies.

[ click to continue reading at NYP ]