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Fake AI

from Common Sense

There Is No Such Thing as A.I. Art

DALL-E compiles, sifts, and analyzes. But it doesn’t dare. It doesn’t take risks. Only humans, our vulnerable species, can. Walter Kirn writes.

by Walter Kirn

(“Picasso style dramatic acrylic painting of a confused young man crafting the perfect tinder bio on his phone” made on DALL-E via Reddit)

I’ve always had problems envisioning the underworld. Sulfurous flames belching up from gloomy caverns don’t trigger existential terror in me. This may be because I grew up in Minnesota, where, for over half the year, fire is inviting, cozy, not forbidding.

But even detailed scenes of suffering in hell have always fallen short, for me, of their awful equivalents on Earth: Real war and real famine horrify me more than paintings of the damned devouring their own arms. Literary evocations of hell, which focus on its prisoners’ inner states—I’m thinking here of Virgil’s Aeneid and Dante’s Inferno—affect me more deeply, but once again the miseries they speak of are also available in life. The only distinctively hellish thing about these torments is that they are said to persist for all eternity. Eternity, which, perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn, I also have trouble imagining.

All of this changed for me the other day when I came across a brief animated video. It struck me, at last, with authentic spiritual dread.

The video was a creation of DALL-E, a new artificial intelligence app from the wizards at OpenAI, which is said to represent a breakthrough in the production of machine-made art. You type in a verbal description of an image—“a tarantula wearing a green scarf,” say—and out of the digital void arrives a picture which reflects your specifications. If you’d like, you can tinker with the image the way you might customize a frozen pizza: You can tell the A.I. to render the tarantula in the style of a cubist drawing or a vintage photograph or a Soviet propaganda poster. (How all this works at a computing level I’ll explain in a moment, or I’ll try.) But when I saw the 30-second video, all I knew was foreboding.

[ click to continue reading at Common Sense ]

Posted on November 5, 2022 by Editor

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Understanding Heaven

from The Wall Street Journal

The Power of a Cosmic Perspective

The way we think about human fate and responsibility has always been bound up with our understanding of the heavens

By Neil deGrasse Tyson

A 19th-century illustration of the Leonid meteor shower seen by Abraham Lincoln in 1833. ALAMY

Every few years, the moon passes exactly between Earth and the sun, precisely covering its luminous surface, darkening the sky and briefly laying bare the sun’s gorgeous outer atmosphere called the corona. No other planet-moon combination in the solar system can match it. The fact that Earthlings today can witness solar eclipses is a pure coincidence: The sun is 400 times wider than the moon and it happens to be 400 times farther away from Earth, rendering the sun and moon about the same size in the sky. This wasn’t always the case, nor will it be so in the distant future. The moon’s orbit is spiraling away from Earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches per year. So let’s enjoy this match made in heaven while we can.

Eclipses top a long list of sky phenomena that irresistibly attract and entangle us. The idea that the sun, moon, planets and stars affect us personally is called astrology, and it goes way back. Some call it the second-oldest profession. How could ancient human beings think differently as they watched the sky revolve around them daily? For example, certain constellations rise before dawn every autumn, just when your crops are ready for harvest—clear evidence that the entire dome of the sky, day and night, lovingly looks after your needs and wants.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on November 4, 2022 by Editor

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Super-mini Machines

from WIRED

The Sci-Fi Dream of a ‘Molecular Computer’ Is Getting More Real

Chemists have long conceptualized tiny machines that could fabricate drugs, plastics, and other polymers that are hard to build with bigger tools.

by MAX G. LEVY

Turing Machine
PHOTOGRAPH: GETTY IMAGES

DAVID LEIGH DREAMS of building a small machine. Really small. Something minuscule. Or more like … molecule. “Chemists like me have been working on trying to turn molecules into machines for about 25 years now,” says Leigh, an organic chemist from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. “And of course, it’s all baby steps. You’re building on all those that went before you.”

In 1936, English mathematician Alan Turing imagined an autonomous machine capable of carrying out any precisely coded algorithm. The hypothetical machine would read a strip of tape dotted with symbols that, when interpreted sequentially, would instruct the machine to act. It might transcribe, translate, or compute—turning code into a message, or a math problem into an answer. The Turing machine was a prophetic vision of modern computers. While your laptop doesn’t rely on tape to run programs, the philosophy behind it is the same. “That laid the foundation for modern computing,” says Leigh.

Leigh now believes that tiny molecular versions of the Turing machine could assemble what we struggle to build in the organic realm, like new drugs and plastics with traits so enhanced and precise that they’re out of reach for current tools. And he’s confident that he can do it. “It’s absolutely clear that it’s possible,” he says, “because there already is this working example called biology.” Nature has given every life-form its version of the Turing machine: ribosomes, cellular structures that slide down sequences of mRNA to churn out proteins one amino acid at a time. No life on earth can function without them.

[ click to continue reading in WIRED ]

Posted on November 3, 2022 by Editor

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lonsdaleite

from CNN

Meet the mystery diamond from outer space

By Madeline Holcombe

(From left) Dougal McCulloch, a professor at RMIT University, with Salek and Tomkins at the RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility in Australia. McCulloch was another coauthor of the study.
(From left) Dougal McCulloch, a professor at RMIT University, with Salek and Tomkins at the RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility in Australia. McCulloch was another coauthor of the study.

Scientists have debated its existence. Tiny traces provided clues. Now, researchers have confirmed the existence of a celestial diamond after finding it on Earth’s surface.

The stone, called lonsdaleite, has a hardness and strength that exceeds that of a regular diamond. The rare mineral arrived here by way of a meteorite, new research has suggested.

What’s more, the natural chemical process through which scientists believe lonsdaleite formed could inspire a way to manufacture super-durable industrial components, according to the authors of the study published September 12 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[ click to continue reading at CNN ]

Posted on November 2, 2022 by Editor

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The Placebo Syndrome

from The New Hampshire Union Leader

Why do you like the music you like? Science weighs in

By Nayantara Dutta Special to The Washington Post

Have you wondered why you love a particular song or genre of music? The answer may lie in your personality, although other factors also play a role, researchers say.

Many people tend to form their musical identity in adolescence, around the same time that they explore their social identity. Preferences may change over time, but research shows that people tend to be especially fond of music from their adolescent years and recall music from a specific age period — 10 to 30 years with a peak at 14 – more easily.

Musical taste is often identified by preferred genres, but a more accurate way of understanding preferences is by musical attributes, researchers say. One model outlines three dimensions of musical attributes: arousal, valence and depth.

“Arousal is linked to the amount of energy and intensity in the music,” says David M. Greenberg, a researcher at Bar-Ilan University and the University of Cambridge. Punk and heavy metal songs such as “White Knuckles” by Five Finger Death Punch were high on arousal, a study conducted by Greenberg and other researchers found.

“Valence is a spectrum,” from negative to positive emotions, he says. Lively rock and pop songs such as “Razzle Dazzle” by Bill Haley & His Comets were high on valence.

[ click to continue reading at the Union Leader ]

Posted on November 1, 2022 by Editor

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Our Prediction-generating Machine

from Nautilus

What Makes Us Lucid Dream?

One question for Péter Simor, a psychologist at Eötvös Loránd University.

BY BRIAN GALLAGHER

What makes us lucid dream?

Lucid dreaming is quite peculiar. We become aware that we are dreaming. In normal dreaming, we lack this reflective capacity. Lucid dreamers report that these experiences are extremely vivid, fantastic, and perceptually immersive, like virtual reality. In our new paper, we wanted to explain these differences in a model using the predictive coding framework. The main idea is that the brain is a prediction-generating machine.

Say I see someone in a dream. She’s probably my sister. No, she’s my girlfriend. No, she’s my mother. My brain is trying to make the best guesses of these images. And there is no constraint, no bottom-up input coming from the external world to fit or to shape these predictions. So the brain is just jumping from one prediction to the other. What we argue is that, in lucid dreaming, this is different. I see someone that speaks, let’s say, in a language that is different from the language that I know she usually speaks. This creates a prediction error. And I’m not changing the identity of the person. Instead, I realize, “Okay, something is not going on correctly here.” This is a momentum for lucid dreaming, this prediction error, that will trigger the insight that I’m in a dream. We call this a superordinate self model: “I am dreaming. I’m lying in bed. But I’m having a dream and I’m having these ideas.” This will create a top-down model to which everything that is strange and surprising will be easy to accommodate.

Lucid dreamers many times observe that they have these extreme experiences, but they are not surprised because they know that they are in a dream. Skilled lucid dreamers can maintain this state, manipulate and monitor their attention. That’s why there’s an important concept called precision weighting, an important part of the theory of predictive coding. Precision weighting reflects the precision I assign to some kind of prediction error. Precision weighting is usually quite low when we are dreaming. We don’t really care if a house is really house-like. Its shapes are sometimes strange. We don’t really have these fine-grain details of the environment because precision is extremely low. In lucid dreaming, it becomes higher. Everything that we experience, let’s say visually, is relevant. We assign strong precision to this information. That’s why we really see the world as if it were quite real. 

[ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

Posted on October 31, 2022 by Editor

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The Tranquility Hilton

from The Daily Star

Inside the ‘Hilton Space Station’ with luxury suites, amazing views, and cookies

Starlab, the replacement for the International Space Station, will have astronaut suites designed by Hilton Hotels – they’ll work on communal spaces, sleeping arrangements, and much more

By Ciaran Daly

Starlab, the replacement for the International Space Station, will have astronaut suites designed by Hilton Hotels - they'll work on communal spaces, sleeping arrangements, and much more
Hilton is set to design crew quarters for the Voyager Starlab space station (Stock image) (Image: Voyager/Hilton)

If you thought a regular Hilton hotel was expensive, think again.

The luxury hotel chain has announced it will be designing the rooms, suites and lounge areas of Starlab, the upcoming replacement for the International Space Station.

Hilton will help design the interior of the private space station, which is due to be launched into low-Earth orbit by 2027.

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Star ]

Posted on October 30, 2022 by Editor

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Ska Therapy

from SPIN

How Ska’s Revival Is Pushing Mental Health

Despite a battle against the memes, ska is back and with a new generation’s message

By Brendan Menapace

At this point, the jokes about ska are about as tired as the jokes about fedoras — which are maybe one of the more deserved of the many digs at ska. It’s got horns. It’s corny. It’s silly. It’s “what plays in a 13-year-old kid’s head when he gets extra mozzarella sticks,” as the internet would tell you.

They’re easy jokes to make, and there are bands that venture into silly territory with costumes and lighthearted songs, but for every Aquabats, there’s a Less Than Jake singing about feelings of failure and anxiety or Reel Big Fish writing songs about feeling like they’re never enough.

For so many, ska is the sound of revolution. Bands like the Specials and Madness have been using the genre to talk about topics like race and class issues. As the genre evolves, that “sound of revolution” echoes the societal changes and cultural shifts. Right now, ska bands are creating another “revival” and re-analysis of the genre by discussing things like mental health, gender, and LGBTQIA+ representation.

“Releasing songs in a style you enjoy, around the internal dialogue that’s haunting you at the time, doesn’t deserve to be boiled down to ‘what you hear in your head when you get extra mozzarella sticks,’” Flying Raccoon Suit vocalist Jessica Jeansonne says. “I wish people would not discount someone’s art just because there’s a little bit of trumpet in it. There’s a whole underlying message of somebody suffering, but somebody hears a trumpet and it’s ‘There’s that cheese.’”

[ click to continue reading at SPIN ]

Posted on October 28, 2022 by Editor

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No Nukes

Posted on October 16, 2022 by Editor

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Mega Art

from The Daily Beast

Billionaire Art Collectors Circle as Megabucks Masterpieces Head for Auction

TROPHY HUNTING – The mega-auction season begins with an expected big-money bloodbath at the sale of Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s collection. Who will buy what remains an intriguing mystery.

by Helen Holmes

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Christie’s

It’s said that the pillars of the art market come down to the three Ds: death, divorce, or debt. It’s in these dramatic instances of transition, financial peril or both that longtime collectors are most motivated to unload their goods, and when they do, the results can be spectacular.

In May, Sotheby’s scored a huge win with the Macklowe collection auction, a sale made possible by real estate developer Harry Macklowe’s splashy split from his wife, Linda. The Macklowes, who had no pre-nuptial agreement, had been married for nearly 60 years and their divorce was bitter: Linda’s legal team claimed her ex, who’d also been shelling out for his French mistress’s Park Avenue apartment, hadn’t paid taxes since the ’80s.

On the strength of the sale of only 65 lots, including a $61 million Pollock and $48 million Rothko, the Macklowe collection became the most expensive ever to sell at auction: altogether, Sotheby’s did $922.2 million in sales. “This sale will… make history as one of the defining moments in the art market,” Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart said at the time.

The Macklowe divorce also produced some hilariously messy rich person behavior. Years prior to the sale, Harry Macklowe paid for 42-foot-high Times Square billboards of his and mistress-turned-wife Patricia Landeau’s faces. If that doesn’t send a message, I don’t know what does.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on October 11, 2022 by Editor

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Art Laboe Gone

from The Los Angeles Times

Art Laboe dies; his ‘Oldies but Goodies’ show ruled the L.A. airwaves

BY ESMERALDA BERMUDEZ

A man inside a radio station

Art Laboe gets ready for his call-in dedication radio show in the KDAY studios in Palm Springs in 2015 (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

When Art Laboe was a child, his mother couldn’t pull him away from the radio.

“I listened to soap operas. I listened to news. I listened to all the announcements,” he told The Times in 2009. “I was enthralled with this box that talked.”

The disc jockey, who got his first radio job at 17, went on to fill Southern California’s airwaves for more than 70 years. He was one of the first to play rock ’n’ roll on the West Coast and was a pioneer in creating a compilation album, calling it “Oldies but Goodies.”

His inviting, baritone voice became a beacon for generations of fans, particularly Latinos.

Behind a microphone until late in life, Laboe died late Friday while battling pneumonia, Joanna Morones, a spokesperson for Laboe’s production company, said. He was 97.

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Posted on October 10, 2022 by Editor

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Nikki Finke Gone

from Deadline

Nikki Finke Dies: Deadline Founder & Longtime Entertainment Journalist Was 68

By Erik Pedersen

Nikki Finke
Nikki Finke / Jen Rosenstein

Nikki Finke, the veteran entertainment journalist who founded Deadline in 2006 and helped grow it into a major player among Hollywood trades, died Sunday morning in Boca Raton, FL after a prolonged illness. She was 68.

The famously reclusive Finke founded her site as Deadline Hollywood Daily, the 24/7 Internet version of her long-running print column “Deadline Hollywood” for LA Weekly. She posted firsthand accounts of how she saw the entertainment business and was unfazed about dressing down its biggest players. Her often biting, acerbic posts called out wrongdoing and wrongdoers as she saw fit — making her a hero to many assistants and below-the-liners while irking many in the C-suites who were not used to anything less than praise.

They pretty much always took her calls, though.

[ click to continue reading at Deadline ]

Posted on October 9, 2022 by Editor

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Cheating At Chess With Your Ass?

from The U.S. Sun

KNIGHT MARE 

Chess ‘cheat’ goes through full body scan at US Championships – including his BUM

by Isaac Crowson

The teen chess champ faces claims he cheated more than 100 chess matches

    A TEEN chess champ accused of cheating got a full body scan — including his bum — before his latest tournament.

    A security guard checked out Hans Niemann and raised a laugh when he got to his rear.

    Niemann, 19, faces claims he cheated in more than 100 chess matches. He was notably accused of using a vibrating sex toy in his backside to pick up messages from his coach.

    After he won his first round US Championships match, he was asked about the “elephant in the room” — a reference to the cheating scandal that has gripped the chess world.

    [ click to continue reading at The U.S. Sun ]

    Posted on October 8, 2022 by Editor

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    Lenny Lipton Gone

    from The Hollywood Reporter

    Lenny Lipton, “Puff the Magic Dragon” Lyricist and 3D Filmmaking Pioneer, Dies at 82

    After the huge success of the Peter, Paul and Mary hit, he founded StereoGraphics and developed an electro-optical modulator known as ZScreen.

    BY CAROLYN GIARDINAMIKE BARNES

    Lenny Lipton, who wrote the poem that became the Peter, Paul and Mary hit “Puff the Magic Dragon” and developed technology used for today’s digital 3D theatrical projection systems, has died. He was 82.

    Lipton died Wednesday of brain cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his son Noah told The Hollywood Reporter.

    While studying engineering as a freshman at Cornell University, Lipton, inspired by a 1936 Ogden Nash poem, “The Tale of Custard the Dragon,” wrote a poem in 1959 on a typewriter owned by another physics major at the school, Peter Yarrow.

    [ click to continue reading at THR ]

    Posted on October 7, 2022 by Editor

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    KGO Gone

    from SFGate

    KGO host talks about Bay Area radio station’s abrupt signoff

    by Amy Graff

    In this 2005 file photo, KGO radio personality Ronn Owens takes a five-minute break during the three-hour show on Oct. 24, 2005, in San Francisco.

    In this 2005 file photo, KGO radio personality Ronn Owens takes a five-minute break during the three-hour show on Oct. 24, 2005, in San Francisco. Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

    American broadcasting company Cumulus Media abruptly announced Thursday during a morning talk show that it’s ending the KGO (810 AM) news-talk format as listeners know it, and company officials told SFGATE in an email that it will be revealing a new brand on the channel on Monday. 

    “The Mark Thompson Show,” which aired Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to noon, was interrupted just after 10 a.m. with a pretaped announcement about the format change.

    KGO talk show host Mark Thompson said he was told just before going on air that the format was changing and his show was being canceled along with all the other regular programming. 

    [ click to continue reading at SF Gate ]

    Posted on October 6, 2022 by Editor

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    Reggae Savior

    from The Daily Beast

    Can This Very Private, Very Rich American Save Reggae?

    UNLIKELY AMBASSADOR – Joe Bogdanovich doesn’t like to talk about his fortune. He doesn’t even like to say how old he is. Instead he lets his passion projects promoting reggae talk for him.

    by Marianne Schaefer Trench

    Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty

    Jamaican reggae music has an unlikely yet passionate ambassador—a white American businessman of a certain age who is investing big energy and even bigger money to spread the gospel of reggae and lure tourists to its source. His name is Joe Bogdanovich. This California native could have invested his fortune anywhere in the world, but he chose the island nation of Jamaica. He doesn’t like to talk about where his money originally came from, but it is well known that he is the grandson and heir of the late Martin J. Bogdanovich, the founder of StarKist Tuna.

    “There’s a lot of poverty here,” Bogdanovich says of the Caribbean island with just 3 million inhabitants, roughly the population of Brooklyn. “But there’s also a lot of talent. Talent means there are a lot of opportunities. It’s a small enough country that you can make a difference. I really believe that, and some people say I already have.”

    Bogdanovich’s investment in Jamaican entertainment remains unmatched and has silenced suspicions that he’s yet another white man trying to exploit the native culture for his own gain.

    Just recently his reggae festival Sumfest 2022 pumped $20 million into the Jamaican economy. It was the culmination of Bogdanovich’s involvement in Jamaica that dates to 1999, when he moved his Los Angeles company DownSound Records to Kingston and began developing local talent that eventually crossed borders, including Nuff Nuff, Ninjaman, Elephant Man and Nanko. In a tale straight out of the hit movie The Harder They Come, Nanko had come from the countryside to Kingston and worked as a squeegee man until his musical talent was discovered. Bogdanovich even made his business tactics and problems public by putting himself in a humorous music video pitting Ninjaman against the upstart Specialist Dweet.

    [ click to continue reading at TDB ]

    Posted on October 2, 2022 by Editor

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    50-Cent Roth

    from Deadline

    Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson & Eli Roth Set ‘BMF’ & ‘Bel-Air’ Writers For Horror Feature Slate; ‘The Gun’, ‘Trackmaster’ & ‘Creature House’ In The Works

    By Rosy Cordero

    50 Cent, Eli Roth
    50 Cent, Eli RothCourtesy/AP

    EXCLUSIVE: Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson‘s expansion in the horror movie space with Eli Roth, as part of their three-feature film deal with 3BlackDot, will feature the following newly announced projects: The GunTrackmaster, and Creature HouseElectromagnetic Productions will now also produce alongside Jackson’s G-Unit Film & Television.

    The movies hail from a diverse group of writers—Kirkland Morris (BMFPower Book IV: Force), Justin Calen-Chenn (Bel-AirLimited Edition), Dallas Jackson (Blumhouse’s Thriller; The System), and Kevin Grevioux (King of KillersUnderworld)—whose stories focus on increasing BIPOC representation.

    Alongside Jackson for G-Unit Film & TV and Roth, producers will also include Regi Cash, Brian Newton, and Caroline Ohlson for 3BlackDot, Roger Birnbaum and Michael Besman will also produce for Electromagnetic Productions, as well as James Frey and Mitchell Lawrence Smith. Jack Davis will produce Creature House for Crypt TV.

    [ click to continue reading at Deadline ]

    Posted on October 1, 2022 by Editor

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    Jean-Luc Goddard Gone

    from France 24

    French New Wave film director Jean-Luc Godard dies at 91

    Jean-Luc Godard, one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century and the father of the French New Wave, died “peacefully at home” on Tuesday aged 91, his family said.

    His legal counsel later confirmed he died by assisted suicide.  

    The legendary maverick blew up the conventions of cinema in the 1960s, shooting his gangster romance “Breathless” on the streets of Paris with a hand-held camera, using a shopping trolley for panning shots.

    He continued to thumb his nose at Hollywood and an older generation of French filmmakers by breaking all the rules again in “Contempt” (1963) with Brigitte Bardot and “Pierrot le Fou” in 1965.

    [ click to continue reading at France 24 ]

    Posted on September 15, 2022 by Editor

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    Not Right

    from AP News

    At $249 per day, prison stays leave ex-inmates deep in debt

    By PAT EATON-ROBB

    AP Photo/Jessica Hill

    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Two decades after her release from prison, Teresa Beatty feels she is still being punished.

    When her mother died two years ago, the state of Connecticut put a lien on the Stamford home she and her siblings inherited. It said she owed $83,762 to cover the cost of her 2 1/2 year imprisonment for drug crimes.

    Now, she’s afraid she’ll have to sell her home of 51 years, where she lives with two adult children, a grandchild and her disabled brother.

    “I’m about to be homeless,” said Beatty, 58, who in March became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the state law that charges prisoners $249 a day for the cost of their incarceration. “I just don’t think it’s right, because I feel I already paid my debt to society. I just don’t think it’s fair for me to be paying twice.”

    All but two states have so-called “pay-to-stay” laws that make prisoners pay for their time behind bars, though not every state actually pursues people for the money. Supporters say the collections are a legitimate way for states to recoup millions of taxpayer dollars spent on prisons and jails.

    [ click to continue reading at AP ]

    Posted on September 14, 2022 by Editor

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    Sarah Thawer

    Posted on September 13, 2022 by Editor

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    Super Moon

    from CBS Sacramento

    Two astrophotographers have captured “the most ridiculously detailed” photo of the moon

    BY LI COHEN

    A viral post has revealed an incredible new image of the moon – but it wasn’t captured by NASA. “The most ridiculously detailed” image of Earth’s lunar neighbor was a two-year project captured by two astrophotographers.

    The 174-megapixel image, which shows the moon’s colors, craters and glowing aura in stunning detail, was first revealed on Reddit on Saturday. Through Reddit and Instagram, Andrew McCarthy, known for his breathtaking astrophotography skills, teamed up with planetary scientist and fellow photographer Connor Matherne, who has been acclaimed for his striking and vibrant photos of galaxies and nebulae

    The two previously worked together to create an incredible glowing and detailed image of the moon. 

    [ click to continue reading at CBS Sacramento ]

    Posted on September 12, 2022 by Editor

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    Awesome

    Posted on September 11, 2022 by Editor

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    Frankenstein’s Volcano

    from Nautilus

    The Volcano That Shrouded the Earth and Gave Birth to a Monster

    Three years of darkness and cold spawned crime, poverty, and a literary masterpiece.

    BY GILLEN D’ARCY WOOD / Illustrations By Wesley Allsbrook

    featured_image

    Two hundred years ago, the greatest eruption in Earth’s recorded history took place. Mount Tambora—located on Sumbawa Island in the East Indies—blew itself up with apocalyptic force in April 1815.

    After perhaps 1,000 years’ dormancy, the devastating evacuation and collapse required only a few days. It was the concentrated energy of this event that was to have the greatest human impact. By shooting its contents into the stratosphere with biblical force, Tambora ensured its volcanic gases reached sufficient height to disable the seasonal rhythms of the global climate system, throwing human communities worldwide into chaos. The sun-dimming stratospheric aerosols produced by Tambora’s eruption in 1815 spawned the most devastating, sustained period of extreme weather seen on our planet in perhaps thousands of years.

    Within weeks, Tambora’s stratospheric ash cloud circled the planet at the equator, from where it embarked on a slow-moving sabotage of the global climate system at all latitudes. Five months after the eruption, in September 1815, meteorological enthusiast Thomas Forster observed strange, spectacular sunsets over Tunbridge Wells near London. “Fair dry day,” he wrote in his weather diary—but “at sunset a fine red blush marked by diverging red and blue bars.”

    [ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

    Posted on August 19, 2022 by Editor

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    A Modern Spiritual

    Posted on August 18, 2022 by Editor

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    Nothing Is Everything

    from Nautilus

    How the Physics of Nothing Underlies Everything

    The key to understanding the origin and fate of the universe may be a more complete understanding of the vacuum.

    by CHARLIE WOOD

    Millennia ago, Aristotle asserted that nature abhors a vacuum, reasoning that objects would fly through truly empty space at impossible speeds. In 1277, the French bishop Etienne Tempier shot back, declaring that God could do anything, even create a vacuum.

    Then a mere scientist pulled it off. Otto von Guericke invented a pump to suck the air from within a hollow copper sphere, establishing perhaps the first high-quality vacuum on Earth. In a theatrical demonstration in 1654, he showed that not even two teams of horses straining to rip apart the watermelon-size ball could overcome the suction of nothing.

    Since then, the vacuum has become a bedrock concept in physics, the foundation of any theory of something. Von Guericke’s vacuum was an absence of air. The electromagnetic vacuum is the absence of a medium that can slow down light. And a gravitational vacuum lacks any matter or energy capable of bending space. In each case the specific variety of nothing depends on what sort of something physicists intend to describe. “Sometimes, it’s the way we define a theory,” said Patrick Draper, a theoretical physicist at the University of Illinois.

    As modern physicists have grappled with more sophisticated candidates for the ultimate theory of nature, they have encountered a growing multitude of types of nothing. Each has its own behavior, as if it’s a different phase of a substance. Increasingly, it seems that the key to understanding the origin and fate of the universe may be a careful accounting of these proliferating varieties of absence.

    [ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

    Posted on August 17, 2022 by Editor

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    The Bird That Can’t Be Killed

    from reason

    The Failed Campaign To Kill To Kill a Mockingbird

    Recent moves to censor the book have come from Virginia, Mississippi, and California.

    by JASON RUSSELL

    Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird banned book
    (Photo: Harper Lee; Donald Uhrbrock/Getty; Illustration: To Kill a Mockingbird (cover detail); J.B. Lippincott & Co.)

    People have been trying to ban Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird since the 1960s. And since the 1960s, they have largely failed. In one early instance, the school board of Virginia’s Hanover County unanimously voted in 1966 to remove the book after board member W.C. Bosher found his son, a high school junior, reading it. The board gave little reason for the decision other than Bosher calling the book “immoral” and “improper for our children.”

    Letters to a local newspaper supporting removal focused on the book’s discussion of rape, wherein white Atticus Finch defends black Tom Robinson in court from a false accusation by a white woman. Lee herself compared the criticism to “doublethink” in George Orwell’s novel 1984 (which the board also removed), yet she wrote that the “problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism” and sent a check to be put toward a first-grade education for the school board.

    Today, campaigns against the book frequently focus on its use of the word nigger. Characters (mostly white ones) use the word 48 times, because that’s how many people talked in 1930s Alabama. The word gets pushback in the book on at least two occasions. When young Scout Finch asks what “nigger-lover” means, her father Atticus says: “Ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.”

    [ click to continue reading at reason ]

    Posted on August 16, 2022 by Editor

    Filed under Literary News | | No Comments »

    ICE Sad

    from The Atlantic

    The End of Manual Transmission

    Stick shifts are dying. When they go, something bigger than driving will be lost.

    By Ian Bogost

    Gear-shift markings engraved in marble
    Katie Martin

    I drive a stick shift. It’s a pain, sometimes. Clutching and shifting in bumper-to-bumper traffic wears you out. My wife can’t drive my car, which limits our transit options. And when I’m at the wheel, I can’t hold a cold, delicious slushie in one hand, at least not safely. But despite the inconvenience, I love a manual transmission. I love the feeling that I am operating my car, not just driving it. That’s why I’ve driven stick shifts for the past 20 years.

    That streak may soon be over. When it comes time to replace my current car, I probably won’t be able to get another like it. In 2000, more than 15 percent of new and used cars sold by the auto retailer CarMax came with stick shifts; by 2020, that figure had dropped to 2.4 percent. Among the hundreds of new car models for sale in the United States this year, only about 30 can be purchased with a manual transmission. Electric cars, which now account for more than 5 percent of car sales, don’t even have gearboxes. There are rumors that Mercedes-Benz plans to retire manuals entirely by the end of next year, all around the world, in a decision driven partly by electrification; Volkswagen is said to be dropping its own by 2030, and other brands are sure to follow. Stick shifts have long been a niche market in the U.S. Soon they’ll be extinct.

    [ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

    Posted on August 15, 2022 by Editor

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    Meta Sad

    from CNBC

    Mark Cuban: Buying real estate in the metaverse is ‘the dumbest’ idea ever

    by Cheyenne DeVon

    Christopher Willard | Disney General Entertainment Content | Getty Images

    Buying digital land in the metaverse may not be the best use of your money, according to billionaire investor Mark Cuban.

    Although Cuban is a well-documented cryptocurrency enthusiast, he called purchasing virtual real estate in the metaverse “the dumbest s— ever” in a recent interview on the Altcoin Daily YouTube channel.

    Despite being an investor in Yuga Labs, which owns popular NFT collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club that has sold digital land plots, Cuban said buying virtual real estate is “dumb.”

    “It was great money for them, but that wasn’t based off utility,” he said.

    In the physical world, real estate is valuable because land is a scarce resource. However, that scarcity doesn’t necessarily apply to the metaverse.

    In these virtual worlds, “there’s unlimited volumes that you can create,” Cuban said during the interview.

    [ click to continue reading at CNBC ]

    Posted on August 14, 2022 by Editor

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    NFT Sad

    from WIRED

    No One Cares About My Framed NFT Art

    Some NFTs are frame-worthy, just like any other photo. What you’re actually framing is still a mystery.

    Gold decorative art frame with TV signal bars inside
    PHOTOGRAPH: FAMIDU/GETTY IMAGES

    STEPHEN CURRY WIGGLES his shoulders on my kitchen counter. No one cares, not even the most devout Curry fans. Occasionally a friend asks what it is, this never-ending loop of Curry successfully launching a bomb from just past half-court in a Golden State game against Dallas in February 2021. Then, the shoulder wiggle. Some movement in the hips.

    It’s a framed NFT, I say. An NFT video, actually. There’s another frame next to it, a pulsing blue jellyfish that resembles a novelty item purchased at Spencer Gifts circa 1994. It throbs on a loop, like a GIF. That one is not an NFT. In between these two acrylic frames sits a third that cycles through digital images from my iPhone camera roll—just regular pictures.

    What do we get when we buy NFT art, unique bits of code that are certified through the exchange of nonfungible token currencies? Do we own the art itself, or the certificate for that art, or both? I have a Steph Curry highlight on my kitchen counter, and I have no idea. I’ve posed the question and can’t guarantee a satisfying answer; this is not unlike the promises of NFT art. This hasn’t stopped hardware makers from capitalizing on the NFT trend, which, at the moment, is in a slump. You might even call these frames token gadgets—sleek, sturdy bits of atoms selling for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, existing just to give you a way to show off your new art.

    [ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

    Posted on August 13, 2022 by Editor

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    Andy’s Benz’s

    from InsideHook

    New Exhibit Revisits Andy Warhol’s Mercedes-Benz Collaboration

    “Andy Warhol: Cars” is on display now at the Petersen Automotive Museum

    BY TOBIAS CARROLL

    Andy Warhol: Cars
    Art and autos converge in a new museum show. / Petersen Automotive Museum

    Over the course of his long career in art, Andy Warhol drew inspiration from a number of now-iconic images, from the face of Marilyn Monroe to a humble box of soap. But Warhol also had a penchant for cars — largely as a muse, but also a connoisseur, despite never having learned to drive. What happens, then, when you juxtapose Warhol’s paintings of cars with some of the vehicles that inspired those works?

    Andy Warhol: Cars  — Works From The Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, a new exhibit at Los Angeles’s Petersen Automotive Museum, puts that side of Warhol into the spotlight. It’s slated to run through January 23 of next year.

    “Although our exhibits are always centered on automobiles, we’re always looking for intersections and overlaps with other aspects of human culture (art, cinema, architecture, fashion, etc.),” Bryan Stevens, the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Director of Exhibitions told InsideHook.

    [ click to continue reading at InsideHook ]

    Posted on August 12, 2022 by Editor

    Filed under Culture Music Art | | No Comments »

    When Dead Whales Are Good Whales

    from Nautilus

    Humans Are Overzealous Whale Morticians

    We hastily dispose of dead whales, ignoring the ecological significance of their carcasses

    BY BEN GOLDFARB

    When, at the dawn of the 19th century, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark traversed western North America, they encountered a wondrous bestiary: the “fleet and delicately formed” coyote, the “bear of enormous size” which we call the grizzly. Yet few creatures impressed them more than the “Buzzard or Vulture” their party captured near the mouth of the Columbia River. The bird was massive, more than nine feet from wingtip to wingtip, and garish, with an “iris of a pale scarlet,” a “pale orrange [sic] Yellow” head, and feathers of “Glossy Shineing black.” Just as striking was the bird’s diet. “(W)e have Seen it feeding on the remains of the whale and other fish which have been thrown up by the waves on the Sea Coast,” Clark reported. Marine creatures, he added, “constitute their principal food.”

    That Lewis and Clark first encountered a California condor by the sea was no coincidence. Once, condors soared across much of the continent, merrily scavenging dead ground sloths, mammoths, and glyptodonts. When human hunters wiped out these giant herbivores during the Pleistocene, condors nearly went extinct themselves. But they never quite vanished. Instead, they survived along the Pacific Coast, feasting on the last megafauna carcasses still available: marine mammals, particularly the blue, humpback, and gray whales who migrate along North America’s western rim.1 That we know Gymnogyps californianus as the California condor—as opposed to, say, the Kansas condor—is the nomenclatural legacy of dead cetaceans.

    [ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

    Posted on August 11, 2022 by Editor

    Filed under Culture Music Art | | No Comments »

    The Ultimate Sportsman

    Posted on August 10, 2022 by Editor

    Filed under Culture Music Art | | No Comments »

    Olivia Newton John Gone

    from TMZ

    OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHNDEAD AT 73

    Olivia Newton-John, who soared to international stardom as both a singer and movie star has died.

    Olivia hit it big in 1971 with songs like “If Not for You,” and in 1973 “Let Me Be There.” She followed that up with a monster hit, “Have You Never Been Mellow.”

    Her huge break came in 1978, when she starred opposite John Travolta in “Grease.” Her role as Sandy was iconic, as were several songs from the movie, “You’re the One that I Want,” “Summer Nights,” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”

    [ click to continue reading at TMZ ]

    Posted on August 9, 2022 by Editor

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