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22 Jul 22:03

Climate Change Is Very Real. But So Much of It Is Uncertain

by Matt Simon
Researchers bring new clarity to a key measure of climate change, which could help the fight to save our planet.
22 Jul 22:03

A New Stranger Things 3 Tease Points to a Surprise Return in Season Four

by Kate Gardner

the kids of stranger things s3

**Spoilers for Stranger Things 3 to follow**

At the end of season three, Stranger Things appeared to kill off fan favorite Jim Hopper (played by David Harbour) as Joyce Byers closed the portal to the Upside Down that was being opened by Russian operatives. However, we saw no body or remains, which is TV code for “he’s not really dead.”

Harbour himself teased season four on his Instagram after that devastating finale. He posted a series of numbers as his profile photo: 618-625-8313. Dial that into your phone and you’ll get a voicemail from the character Murray Bauman.

The voicemail says “Hi, you have reached the residence of Murray Bauman. Mom, if this is you, please hang up and call me between the hours of 5 and 6 pm as previously discussed, ok? If this is Joyce, Joyce, thank you for calling, I have been trying to reach you. I have an update. It’s about … well, it’s probably best if we speak in person. It’s not good or bad, but it’s something.”

He then launches into a tirade that is decidedly not relevant, but the Joyce bit is the most important. There’s only one thing that Murray could be talking about: Hopper’s fate and if he survived or not.

Some have theorized that the American prisoner being held in the mid-credits scene in episode eight is Hopper, though others have theorized it’s Doctor Brenner (Matthew Modine) from season one. My personal theory is that Hopper is not the American prisoner (though I might be wrong), but that Hopper is somehow trapped in the Upside Down.

We know Hopper visited the Upside Down in season two, and he got sprayed in the face with some goo by some weird Upside Down plant thing. Could he be able to survive the Upside Down because he’s been exposed to biological material from the weird parallel world?

The update being neither good nor bad somewhat lends credence to this theory. If Murray discovered Hopper was being held prisoner by Russians, that trends more towards being a bad thing, since the Russian operatives are feeding prisoners to a Demogorgon. Hopper giving signs of life from the Upside Down is more of a “something.”

While I don’t necessarily want Hopper to return (sometimes killing off characters is better), having him not be the obvious prisoner and being a surprise trapped in the Upside Down would be the best way to bring him back. After all, he wants Eleven to leave her door open three inches. That could be a great way to tie his return to that emotional letter Eleven found in his pocket.

Hopper’s return is almost guaranteed at this point. The big mystery surrounds how he will return. I would almost prefer it if Netflix and the Duffer brothers confirmed that he was returning before the season even airs so that, much like how Patty Jenkins revealed Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor would return for a Wonder Woman sequel, the discussion is less about the obvious fact that he’ll return and more about how he gets back.

How do you want Hopper to return, or do you want him to return at all? Do you think he’s trapped in Russia or is he stuck in the Upside Down? What mysteries do you want to see solved in Stranger Things 4, if it is ever confirmed?

(image: Netflix)

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22 Jul 21:52

Immigrants are good for business, and this study proves it

by Melissa Locker

45% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their kids.

While the Statue of Liberty still stands in New York’s harbor welcoming newcomers to American shores, the Trump administration has made it clear that most immigrants are not welcome.

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22 Jul 21:04

We Have Theories About the ‘”Mind-Melting'” Ending to Star Wars

by Rachel Leishman

Rey readies herself for battle in the first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Finally, Jar Jar Binks is going to be revealed as the true Sith Lord that he is! At San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Smith decided to talk about Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and gave us a bit of information that many were probably not expecting. While he didn’t know exactly what the final set of the movie looked like, Smith did let IGN know that it was apparently so good that even J.J. Abrams told him not to go look at it.

“There was a scuttlebutt about the set there at Pinewood. They’re like, ‘You have to see this. When you see it, it will melt your mind.’ So I ask J.J., ‘They keep telling me I should see the set.’ He’s like, ‘Don’t. It’s the last shot of the movie. You don’t want this spoiled. You want to be in a theater when this happens. Trust me.’”

First of all, Kevin Smith continues to live my nerd dreams because who wouldn’t want to go on the set of the latest, top-secret Star Wars? I might even let myself be spoiled just so I can enjoy thriving in the world of Star Wars for any amount of time. Second, what was so “mind-melting” that even Abrams told Kevin Smith not to be spoiled?

There is so much about the Star Wars franchise that we know very little about. Throughout the years, we’ve been getting more and more information on the former Jedi Order and the fall of Anakin Skywalker, but there is a lot that remains a mystery to us. So, is this going to be something so much bigger than what we’ve seen before? Or is this just a ploy to get us excited about a movie that we’re, arguably, already excited for?

Here’s my theory: Jar Jar Binks is standing on a pile of carcasses. All our favorite characters are dead. He reigns supreme. He is the ultimate Sith.

But, in all seriousness, where could they possibly go that would be a surprise to us as fans? Alderaan was blown up by Darth Vader but was that a lie? Can Princess Leia finally go home? Or are they somewhere completely new? Truly, I can’t even think of where they could possibly go that would be so out there that we, as fans, would be screaming. If anything, I feel like we’ve been given all our favorite locations in this trilogy except for Tatooine but even then, I don’t think that’d be a ‘mind-melting’ development.

That’s what gets me so much about this. It isn’t that Smith shouldn’t see who is there, it is the set itself. So it is clearly a location that we are going to instantly recognize and that is maybe what is the scariest part about this reveal. What could it possibly be?

This delights me, frightens me, and turns me on so can’t wait to see what Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is going to do to my heart.

(via Slashfilm, image: LucasFilm)

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22 Jul 20:08

A Library of Photo Books Reveals the Texture of Location

by Megan N. Liberty
Installation view of Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

PHILADELPHIA — Once upon a time, we would document our travels to new places with photographs we’d paste into albums. Nowadays, this practice has migrated to the screen; Instagram and Facebook are our primary means of collecting and sharing pictures of our adventures. Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, curated by Josh Brilliant, explores the capacity of photographs, specifically those in photo books, to capture the texture of a location. The exhibition includes works by such luminaries as Daido Moriyama, Roni Horn, Viviane Sassen, and William Eggleston. In addition, it features books published by commercial presses and nonprofit publishers, as well as self-published books.

The books, from locations around the world, are displayed on shallow wood shelves with their covers facing outward. Vinyl wall texts throughout instruct viewers to “Feel free to remove books from their shelves.” A rare allowance in an art exhibition, even one centered on books, it transforms the show from an experience of distanced viewing into an active reading room. A table in the gallery is scattered with copies of a reference guide that lists all the titles, organized by artist, with a screenshot of a map indicating the location documented in the books’ photographs, along with excerpts from press releases for more information on the titles.

Installation view of Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
Oliver Hartung, Iran, A Picture Book (Spector, 2016)

The titles offers glimpses into different locations with the slow and detailed pace of that comes with reading books. Oliver Hartung’s Iran, A Picture Book (Spector, 2016) is an oversized floppy book with matte photographs printed in a dreamy CMYK color palette. From 2011–14 Hartung photographed political monuments as well as domestic settings filled with posters of Western celebrities, granting foreign readers access to the everyday life and landscapes of a country Americans often see only as a tragic site of war and destruction. Iran, A Picture Book rests on a shelf near books like Andreas Gursky’s glossy Bangkok (Steidl, 2012), which features photos of the Chao Phraya River’s waters that resemble abstract paintings.

Such abstracted representations expand what it means to capture a place through photographic representations. In Bottom of the Lake (Koenig, 2015) Christian Patterson records the character and texture of his hometown, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, by superimposing images of matchbooks and scraps of paper into the seams of a facsimile of his family’s telephone book, like they got stuck. He also inserts photographs of the landscape, such as a lake and two-story houses in the snow. These interventions create a picture of the place through Patterson’s eyes.

Installation view of Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

I applaud Brilliant’s positioning of widely accessible books as art object — most of the titles are available in bookstores and online. But the exhibition also includes unique books, such as Laura Barrón’s Absentia (2019), a self-published artist’s book composed of seven booklets stored together in a sleeve. The books have the texture and color of heavy-weight cardboard, yet are fragile, with slips of smaller typed text pages sewn into the bindings between full-page pictures of water, brick walls, parks, and other nondescript but specific markers of place. Each booklet serves as travel journal, cataloguing the artist’s journey through Cali, Buenos Aries, Quito, Lima, Havana, La Paz, and her final destination, Mexico City, which marks her return to her home country.

By grouping the books according, apparently, to aesthetic affinities rather than place or publisher, Brilliant heightens the sense of travel that characterizes them. The exhibition’s mixed presentation makes it feel like the best type of reading room, one where browsing leads to unexpected discoveries, and one that reflects something about why many people travel to new places.

Installation view of Thinking of a Place at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
Laura Barrón, Absentia (2019)

Collectively, the books speak to the myriad ways that photos can share our travel the stories, especially when seen in sequence. These images offer a temporal and intimate viewing experience, at the reader’s own pace, one encouraged by seating area at a table or a comfy chair. Like a friend or family member’s travel album, these photos are intensely personal documents of each artist’s journey. But unlike a travel album, the artful book designs and photographic methods and compositions can produce a sense of restless unease — a feeling that what we are seeing is just a slice of what’s out there — potentially leaving us with a desire to experience the full picture of place.

Thinking of a Place continues at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (1400 N. American Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) through July 27. The exhibition was curated by Josh Brilliant.

The post A Library of Photo Books Reveals the Texture of Location appeared first on Hyperallergic.

22 Jul 18:40

#Erica2020: Stranger Things’ Erica Sinclair Has Earned My Vote for President

by Stefania Sarrubba

Erica in Netflix's Stranger Things 3 says, "You can't spell America without Erica."

**Warning: Spoilers for Netflix’s Stranger Things season 3 ahead.**

Stranger Things has blessed us all with more Erica Sinclair this season.

Lucas’s little sister has stolen the show on more than one occasion during this third installment of the ’80s-inspired sci-fi Netflix drama. Portrayed by young actress Priah Ferguson, Erica has quickly become a fan-favorite ever since she was introduced in season two.

Delivering one-liners and witty comebacks, she has more of an active role this time around, and we’re here for it. Also, we found out more about her personality.

As much as she wouldn’t like to admit it, Erica might be just as nerdy as her older brother and his friends are. And for being ten, she’s surprisingly politically savvy—so savvy, in fact, that she would make a great political leader 35 years into the future.

If Hawkins were an actual town in real-life Indiana, Erica Sinclair would be 45 in 2020, which would make her a great fit for the next presidential run.

#Erica2020 has such a nice ring to it, eh? And she herself provided us with the catchiest, most patriotic slogan a future POTUS could only dream of: “You can’t spell America without Erica.”

In the new episodes, Erica joins the Scoops Troop, made up of ice cream parlor employees Steve (Joe Keery), newcomer Robin, (Maya Hawke) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). The gang needs someone small enough to pass through the air duct system and infiltrate a Russian science facility. Feisty Erica seems to be just the right girl for the job. After being promised free ice cream for life, she helps the group in their breaking and entering.

This proves she’s able to successfully negotiate a deal as only a seasoned politician would.

Of course, she may need to make an effort in order to be a little less selfish, but she ultimately understands when it’s worth putting the greater good before her own interest. And she has years ahead to acquire even more experience. Moreover, her fine analysis of the international political scenario is remarkable.

The ’80s were a delicate decade due to the tensions between the US and the Soviet Union, and Erica is well aware of how things can escalate quickly. Despite the difficulties, she is confident, optimistic, and constantly one step ahead of both her allies and opponents. A fierce, ambitious woman of color who is knowledgeable about international affairs? That sounds like golden presidential candidate material, along with a quality rare to find in any politician: Erica knows when to step aside and let others jump in to do what’s best for the community.

Upon realizing it might not be safe to go back to the warehouse, she doesn’t turn her back to the group, but stays to guide Hopper and Joyce through the duct system over walkie-talkies.

Some might argue that, as president, she would have to deal with worse matters than mint chocolate chips cones and tight air vents, but the rise of far-right movements sounds just as scary as the horrible, vile creatures hailing from the Upside Down. Oh, if only we could close that gate, too.

(image: Netflix)

Stefania Sarrubba is an Arts and Culture journalist based in London. When she is not adding movies she will probably never see to her infinite watchlist, she likes spotting urban foxes, making plans and engaging in passionate conversations about women’s rights. Read her annoying tweets on @freckledvixen.

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22 Jul 17:15

The Energy Transition Is More Than Another Moonshot - It's Harder

by Brian Murray, Contributor
The energy transition is a technological challenge like Apollo, but the economic and social dimensions make it even tougher.
22 Jul 17:14

Google Maps 101: how we map the world

The world is a beautiful, messy, constantly changing place—roads are added, buildings are built, and new businesses are opened all the time. Our role on the Google Maps team is to accurately model and reflect this ever-evolving world, and we’re often asked how we make a map that does that. The answer is, it takes a number of different steps, and the right mix of people, techniques and technology.

In a series of posts over the coming months, we’ll give you a closer look at how we build our map—diving deep into each of the elements we use to help more than one billion people navigate, explore and get things done. Today, we’ll start with an overview of the basics.

It all starts with imagery 

Street View and satellite imagery have long been an important part of how we’re able to identify where places are in the world—it shows us where roadways, buildings, addresses and businesses are located in a region, in addition to other important details—such as the town’s speed limits or business names. In 2007, Street View launched to help people virtually explore the entire world, from the depths of Antarctica to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. In the 12 years since then, our Street View car and trekker operations have collected more than 170 billion images from 87 countries. Thanks to our newest trekker that is equipped with higher-resolution sensors and increased aperture, we’ve significantly improved the quality of imagery we capture. 

SV trekker

A Street View trekker

Then you add data

Authoritative data brings the map to life. Our data comes from more than 1,000 third-party sources from all over the world. Some, like the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) in Mexico, provide information about an entire country. Others are specific to smaller regions, like data from a local municipality, an NGO or a housing developer. Our teams carefully vet every authoritative data source to ensure that we have the most accurate and up-to-date data available. And recently, we introduced a new tool to make it easier for local governments to upload dataabout new roads and addresses in their area, right to Google Maps. 


Road outlines from one of our data partners, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.

A human touch 

Data and imagery are key components of mapmaking, but they’re static and can’t always keep up with the pace of how quickly the world changes. This brings us to the third piece: the people that help us tie everything together. We have a data operations team staffed all over the world that plays a role in just about every aspect of mapmaking, from gathering Street View images and vetting authoritative data sources to correcting the map for inaccuracies and training machine learning models (more on that in a second). 

We also have our community of Local Guides and Google Maps users, whom we empower to correct the map via the Send Feedback button in Google Maps. Our team reviews the information and publishes it if we have a high degree of confidence that it matches the roads, businesses and addresses in the real world.


Our data operations team at work

Speeding things up with machine learning 

Imagery, authoritative data and human input have gotten us to where we are, but we want to make our maps more useful to more people even faster. To increase the speed of our mapping, we turn to machine learning. Machine learning allows our team to automate our mapping processes, while maintaining high levels of accuracy. 

Let’s look at how we map building outlines as an example. Previously, an algorithm that tried to guess whether part of an image was a building or not resulted in what we dubbed “fuzzy buildings”—amorphous blobs that didn’t look like real buildings when you draw them on a map. And this was an issue—buildings are more than just buildings—they’re landmarks and a key part of how someone knows where they are when looking at a map. To fix this, we worked with our data operations team to trace common building outlines manually, and then used this information to teach our machine learning algorithms which images correspond with building edges and shapes. This technique proved effective, enabling us to map as many buildings in one year as we mapped in the previous 10. 


Fuzzy building outlines on Google Maps.

clear buildings

Clear building polygons outlined on the map.

We’re in it for the long haul 

Maps are critical to helping communities thrive. They connect people with each other, help grow economies as people discover new businesses and restaurants, and help people get things done. Although we’ve come a long way, with maps in more than 220 countries and territories to date, we know that our work is far from over. Different regions have different needs, and their own mapping challenges. In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at how one component—imagery—helps us overcome these challenges.

22 Jul 17:13

Alaska's Engineering Colleges Prepare To Slash Programs, Lay Off Faculty

by BeauHD
In response to Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy's dramatic budget cuts to the state's only public institution of higher education, the University of Alaska's engineering colleges in Fairbanks and Anchorage are preparing to cut faculty members and slash a number of programs. "Dozens of engineering faculty, researchers, and staff could see their positions eliminated, and even tenured faculty members could lose their jobs. Students may not be able to finish their degrees in the programs or locations in which they started," reports IEEE Spectrum. "Many engineering students have already lost merit-based scholarships promised to them via the Alaska Performance Scholarship program." From the report: On 28 June, Gov. Dunleavy vetoed US $130 million in state funding for the University of Alaska system for the fiscal year that began on 1 July -- a step he said was necessary to contend with the state's $1.6 billion budget deficit, inflicted in large part by sluggish oil prices. Those cuts came on top of a $5 million reduction proposed by Alaska's legislature. Overall, state funding for the University of Alaska has been reduced by $136 million [PDF], or 41 percent, for the fiscal year that began 1 July. That translates to a 17 percent reduction to the University of Alaska's total operating budget. Citing reputational damage caused by these cuts, the University of Alaska's Board of Regents expects tuition, grant funding, and charitable donations to also drop, adding to a total loss of more than $200 million [PDF] in funding for the current fiscal year. The University of Alaska is now widely expected to declare financial exigency [PDF], an emergency status that would allow administrators to take extreme measures to reduce costs by closing campuses, slashing salaries and programs, or laying off tenured faculty. However, closing the university's flagship Fairbanks campus would still not be enough to cover the shortfall. In response to budget cuts in previous years, the university has already suspended or discontinued more than 50 degree programs and certificates, including its MS in Engineering Management program.

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22 Jul 17:05

A free, accessible, hyperlinked version of the Mueller Report

by Cory Doctorow

The Internet Archive, the Digital Public Library of America and Muckrock have released a version of the Mueller Report as an Epub with 747 live footnotes, fully compliant with both Web and EPUB accessibility requirements.

The Mueller Report is arguably one of the most important documents in American Politics. However, when the report was made available to the public, by the Department of Justice (DOJ), on the morning of April 18th, 2019, the formatting left much to be desired. For one thing, it was initially published as a PDF image file with no text, which meant it could not be searched. That version of the report can be found here. An updated version of the report, with searchable text, was published by the DOJ on April 22nd, at the same URL and with the same filename (report.pdf). More importantly, while the report had 2,390 footnotes, only 14 of those referenced links to live web pages. In addition the report suffered from many formatting issues that made it less than accessible to reading disabled people and was not compliant with US federal law “508“accessibility standards.

The Internet Archive hoped it could help make the report more useful, by adding links to as many references in the footnotes as possible, as well as help make it more accessible to the reading disabled community. To do this, we teamed with MuckRock to crowdsource the identification of web-based resources referred to in footnotes. Later we worked with a team of interns to carefully research every footnote and, in some cases, the multiple references each one contained. We identified 733 external resources (added to the 14 available in the original report, for a total of 747 links) which we archived via the Wayback Machine, the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive, and uploaded to its collections. We included links to archived webpages to guard against the ephemerality of web-based resources. In particular referencing archives guards against link rot (when URLs go dead, e.g. return a status code 404) and content drift (when the content associated with a URLs changes over time.)

The Mueller Report – Now with Linked Footnotes and Accessible. [Mark Graham/Internet Archive]

22 Jul 16:55

Microsoft Demos Hologram 'Holoportation'

by EditorDavid
Microsoft "continues to plug away at making holoportation possible," reports ZDNet: In a new demonstration, officials showed off a scenario where a life-sized holographic representation of a person could be beamed into a scenario with real-time simultaneous language translation happening -- a communication scenario on which Microsoft has been working for years. At Microsoft's Inspire partner show (which is co-located with its Ready sales kick-off event) on July 17, Microsoft demonstrated such a scenario on stage during CEO Satya Nadella's keynote. Azure Corporate Vice President Julia White donned a HoloLens 2 headset and [demonstrated] a full-size hologram of herself translated simultaneously into Japanese and maintaining her speech cadence and patterns. [Microsoft later said that the life-sized hologram was created at Microsoft's Mixed Reality Capture Studios.] Microsoft pulled off the demo by combining a number of its existing technologies, White said, including Azure speech-to-text, Azure Speech Translation and neural text-to-speech. The text-to-speech from Azure Speech Services allows apps, tools and devices to convert text into natural human-like synthesized speech. Users can create their own custom voice unique to them. In a video of the demo, White first appears to be holding a smaller version of her hologram in the palm of her own hand. She jokingly telling the audience, "Let me introduce you to Mini-Me."

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22 Jul 16:41

Atlassian's Changes Annual Performance Reviews To Stop Rewarding 'Brilliant Jerks'

by EditorDavid
Australia-based Atlassian"has implemented a new performance review strategy designed to give their workers a better evaluation of how they're performing," reports Business Insider, adding that Atlassian's global head of talent said the company wants to measure contributions to a larger team effort. "We want people to get rewarded for what they delivered." In 2018 it soft-launched a strategy where most of its performance review process will have nothing to do with the skills in an employee's job, but more to do with how well they are living with the company values. Now, the strategy is being rolled out permanently and will be tied to employee bonuses... "We want to be able to evaluate a whole person and encourage them to bring their full self to work and not just focus on skills itself, but really focus on the way they do their work," said Bek Chee, Atlassian's global head of talent. She added that while workforces have changed over the past 30 years, performance reviews, for the most part, have stayed the same... With this performance review system, Atlassian aims to throw out the idea of the "brilliant jerk", which Chee describes as someone who is technically-talented, but perhaps at the expense of others. Instead it is focusing on how an employee demonstrates the company values, how they complete their roles and how they contribute to their team. "We really want to enforce the way that values get lived, the way that people impact the team and the way that they also contribute within their role.

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22 Jul 16:40

The Best CPUs Ever Made

by Joel Hruska

We’ve already covered the worst CPUs ever built, so it seemed time to flip around and talk about the best ones. The question, of course, is how do we define “best?”

In order to qualify for this article, a CPU needed to do more than just introduce significant new features or support a new instruction set. The Pentium Pro, for example, was a very important chip. It pioneered features still in use today and demonstrated that out-of-order execution and micro-op translation were viable techniques for high-end, next-generation processors. At the same time, however, the Pentium Pro had issues. It was slow when running 16-bit code and its FPU performance was only about half of comparable RISC cores at the time. The Pentium Pro was a very important CPU core, in other words — but it doesn’t meet our criteria when making a list of the best CPU cores ever invented.

To see which cores do measure up, check the slideshow below. We’ve taken a broad look at the industry over the past 40+ years, with mobile, server, and desktop CPUsSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce all represented. Our selections were based on a variety of factors, including feature set, market impact, total strength of the product, and long-term performance.


Celeron300A AMD_Duron_D600AUT1B (1) BAE-RAD750 Core_2_Q6600_G0 Intel Core i7 2600K CPU top view Opteron-275 Pentium-M-Banias Snapdragon800 Apple_A9_APL0898

Honorable Mentions

Writing a “Best CPUs” list means that inevitably, a lot of really good CPUs are going to get left off the list. CPUs like the Intel 8086 or Motorola 68000 are often regular staples of articles like this, because of how they transformed the computing industry (launching the IBM PC in one case, and launching the Macintosh as well as the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in the other). We address many of Intel’s chips in more detail in our history of Intel products, parts one and two.

Honorable mentions for great chips that didn’t quite make our list would include the original Intel 4004, Pentium Pro, Pentium III, Intel’s Pentium 4 Northwood, AMD’s original K7, and CPUs like the Core i7-8700K.

Last, but not least, there’s AMD’s recent Ryzen launch. I didn’t want to try to pick a single CPU model to put in this list — third-generation Ryzen CPUs have only been on the market for a matter of weeks. But one of our criteria for CPUs is that the CPU needs to have transformed the market — and while we may not have a specific Ryzen model listed above, the family’s competitive standing has forced Intel to dramatically overhaul its product positioning. Prior to the launch of the Ryzen 7 1800X, an eight-core CPU from Intel would have cost over $1,000. Today, an eight-core Core i7-9700K is $365, while the 8-core / 16-thread Core i9-9900K runs ~$485 – $500.

Given that market impact is one of our major criteria, we wanted to acknowledge Ryzen’s collective impact.

Now Read: 

19 Jul 19:55

Trevor Noah Hits the Nail on the Head on Scarlett Johansson’s Bad Diversity Comments

by Rachel Leishman

Scarlett Johansson, garbage, casting, trans, transgender, responses, memes

Scarlett Johansson made some upsetting comments about diverse casting in an interview that she has since fought back against, saying that the way they sounded wasn’t her intent and that her comments were taken out of context. Even when Johansson explained herself, it still wasn’t great, because it showed that she’s either deliberately ignoring a huge part of the conversation on diversity, or she just doesn’t care to see why it’s important that we have these conversations at all.

Stating that she shouldn’t be held back by “PC” culture in art (essentially) shows that she doesn’t understand what it feels like to not be represented onscreen. While many have commented on that, it was Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, who pinpointed the problem with how Johansson was addressing the discussion at all. Noah pretty much hit the nail on the head while explaining what Johansson was misunderstanding about diversity on his show, stating,

I understand why you might want to get defensive as a person. I can even understand why some white people might feel like they’re under attack in and around these conversations. But I think what’s often lost is when Scarlett goes, “I should be allowed to play an animal or a tree or anything,” and it’s like, yes, but that’s exactly what people are saying: For so long, Hollywood and the people who define storytelling in America have defined it as stories to be told for and by white people. And so the roles that have generally been reserved for black people have been the stereotype of criminal, maid, slave. That’s pretty much it.

Later, he pointed out that that we are looking at representation in a strange light, taking for granted what it can mean for other human beings because we, as white performers and audience members, have never had the time to not see ourselves onscreen.

“We take for granted how much representation means to human beings, I think in two ways. One: in an inspirational front, and two: just how it shapes society.”

What I love about this is that Trevor Noah isn’t slamming ScarJo for her comments; he’s pointing out what she’s misunderstanding about the conversation. It’s something that needed to be said, and in a way that wasn’t just putting someone down.

You can watch Noah’s entire commentary here:

I’m someone who thinks we can all learn from our mistakes, grow as people, and realize why people are upset with something we’ve done. Hopefully, Johansson sees this video and can understand the harm that her statement could have done and how she needs to change as a performer and vehicle for change in Hollywood.

(via IndieWire, image: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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19 Jul 19:53

Why Amazon cares about open source

by Arun Gupta

Arun Gupta discusses the reasons why AWS is committed to open projects and communities.

Continue reading Why Amazon cares about open source.

19 Jul 19:50

Where’s the Outrage That the Trump Administration Just Defunded Women’s Health Providers?

by Kylie Cheung

Pro-choice activists, politicians and others associated with Planned Parenthood gather for a news conference and demonstration.

Welcome to The Week in Reproductive Justice, a weekly recap of all news related to the hot-button issue of what lawmakers are allowing women to do with their bodies!

Last week, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration’s domestic “gag rule” could take effect, and within days, the Health and Human Services Department announced its intent to implement and enforce the policy. This tends to be the sort of news that gets buried in a news cycle that’s seen a sitting U.S. president tell four congresswomen of color to “go back where they came from,” but it’s important nonetheless. Thousands of low-income, disproportionately women of color could lose access to key reproductive healthcare because of this policy, with an estimated 40 percent of all women on Medicaid reliant on Planned Parenthood for preventive care.

Despite ongoing lawsuits filed in response to the Ninth Circuit’s decision, there is currently no legal obstacle to prevent the Trump administration from enforcing this policy, and this week, reproductive health providers across the country were formally put on notice. Unfortunately, none of this should come as a surprise. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump (and just about all Republican candidates) vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, which has been one of the most salient conservative talking points for years.

And that’s probably because it works: The majority of their base froths at the mouth at the thought of women forced to be pregnant and give birth—generally women who are unable to afford the most basic healthcare they need to prevent pregnancy in the first place. What’s frustrating about the gag rule and the minimal coverage it has received is, like the ongoing wave of state-level abortion bans, the appointment of anti-abortion Supreme Court justices, and all the other horrors that were promised by this administration from day one, women and activists warned of what was at stake, only to be ignored but ultimately proven right.

Sure, there was some meaningful coverage, conversation, and collective national consciousness of the War on Women in the wake of abortion bans in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri in May and June. But where has all of that gone, since? Where has that energy and passion and awareness gone, now that, effective immediately, reproductive healthcare providers across the country could lose key funding, leaving the most vulnerable members of society without access to key healthcare?

So many challenges to reproductive rights and justice arise constantly, all but on a daily basis; it’s understandable that not everyone, everywhere is going to know every single thing going on, but this—the defunding of women’s health providers—is huge. If we, as a nation, lack the collective attention span to be aware of and care about this, that’s a problem.

In case you’ve missed it in the news cycle in the last several months, the gag rule refers to a policy that would strip Title X funding from all organizations and healthcare providers that offer abortion care or abortion referral services. Yet, in a dangerous twist of irony, these organizations often rely on Title X funds to offer access to the very birth control resources that prevent the need for abortion care in the first place, in the only effective way: by preventing unwanted pregnancy. These resources include contraception, sexual health education, breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD testing, and more. According to some estimates, Title X funding helps prevent 1 million unwanted pregnancies annually.

Under the gag rule, healthcare providers would effectively be censored and banned from offering or even talking about abortion care as an option with their patients—or lose Title X funding. This coming from an administration that frequently bemoans purported censorship of right-wing and anti-abortion activists, and endlessly praises its own self-serving definition of the First Amendment. It’s healthcare providers’ job to tell patients about the healthcare options available to them. The insinuation here, in blocking healthcare providers from speaking about abortion, is that abortion is not healthcare.

The implementation of the domestic gag rule is nothing short of a national emergency, but the very lack of urgency around it speaks to a greater problem of issues regarded as “women’s issues” being erased from public consciousness.

“Women’s healthcare” is understood as less important and lesser, in general, than healthcare itself. Liberal men will point out that birth control isn’t that expensive, despite how the most reliable forms can cost more than $1,200, and the $10 to $50 monthly cost of birth control pills can make all the difference for women in poverty. Liberal men may also argue that it’s okay to prevent taxpayer funding from going to organizations that offer abortions since some taxpayers may oppose abortion, and there’s so much wrong with that logic that it’s hard to even know where to begin. (For example, abortion is life-saving healthcare, and access to it shouldn’t hinge on socioeconomic status or public opinion; everyone in civilized society sees their taxes pay for things they may not like—be that wars where actual, living people and children die, or anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers.”)

But none of that is the point. The point is that, with hundreds of state and federal anti-abortion laws passing in the last few years alone, and maternal and infant death rates soaring, often disproportionately in states with more restrictions on abortion, the state of women’s health in the U.S. has never been more precarious in recent history. It’s time to start paying attention—and taking action.

Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!

(image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

19 Jul 19:47

Stephen Fry explains the vast superiority of UK healthcare to America's omnishambles, which Brexiteers hope to import

by Cory Doctorow

After Brexit, Tory leaders are hoping to strike a bilateral trade agreement with the USA that will begin the dismantling of the NHS, starting with a ban on price-controls for pharma and open doors for America's wasteful, cruel, useless health-care insurance mega-corporations. In this video, national treasure Stephen Fry explains how the UK and US systems compare, and how American media lies about the state of the NHS to credulous, mouth-breathing Fox News zombies. If you want to keep the NHS out of any UK-US trade deal, sign the petition here. Learn more about Brexit here.

19 Jul 16:46

Seismic Soundoff Episode 54: A guide to the past and future of geophysics with John Etgen

19 Jul 16:40

AAPG Explorer: Making the Case for Exploration

11 Jul 18:00

AAPG Explorer: Making the Case for Exploration

11 Jul 17:59

The Oldest Book Printed with Movable Type is Not The Gutenberg Bible: Jikji, a Collection of Korean Buddhist Teachings, Predated It By 78 Years and It’s Now Digitized Online

by Josh Jones

The history of the printed word is full of bibliographic twists and turns, major historical moments, and the significant printing of books now so obscure no one has read them since their publication. Most of us have only the sketchiest notion of how mass-produced printed books came into being—a few scattered dates and names. But every schoolchild can tell you the first book ever printed, and everyone knows the first words of that book: “In the beginning….”

The first Gutenberg Bible, printed in 1454 by Johannes Gutenberg, introduced the world to movable type, history tells us. It is “universally acknowledged as the most important of all printed books,” writes Margaret Leslie Davis, author of the recently published The Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book’s Five-Hundred-Year Odyssey. In 1900, Mark Twain expressed the sentiment in a letter “commenting on the opening of the Gutenberg Museum,” writes M. Sophia Newman at Lithub. “What the world is to-day,” he declared, “good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg. Everything can be traced to this source.”

There is kind of an oversimplified truth in the statement. The printed word (and the printed Bible, at that) did, in large part, determine the course of European history, which, through empire, determined the course of global events after the “Gutenberg revolution.” But there is another story of print entirely independent of book history in Europe, one that also determined world history with the preservation of Buddhist, Chinese dynastic, and Islamic texts. And one that begins “before Johannes Gutenberg was even born,” Newman points out.

The oldest extant text ever printed with movable type predates Gutenberg himself (born in 1400) by 23 years, and predates the printing of his Bible by 78 years. It is the Jikji, printed in Korea, a collection of Buddhist teachings by Seon master Baegun and printed in movable type by his students Seok-chan and Daijam in 1377. (Seon is a Korean form of Chan or Zen Buddhism.) Only the second volume of the printing has survived, and you can see several images from it here.

Impressive as this may be, the Jikji does not have the honor of being the first book printed with movable type, only the oldest surviving example. The technology could go back two centuries earlier. Margaret Davis nods to this history, Newman concedes, writing that “movable type was an 11th century Chinese invention, refined in Korea in 1230, before meeting conditions in Europe that would allow it to flourish.” This is more than most popular accounts of the printed word say on the matter, but it's still an inaccurate and highly cursory summary of the evidence.

Newman herself says quite a lot more. In essays at Lithub and Tricycle, she describes how printing techniques developed in Asia and were taken up in Korea in the 1200s by the Goryeo dynasty, who commissioned a printer named Choe Yun-ui to reconstruct a woodblock print of the massive collection of ancient Buddhists texts called the Tipitaka after the Mongols burned the only Korean copy. By casting “individual characters in metal” and arranging them in a frame—the same process Gutenberg used—he was able to complete the project by 1250, 200 years before Gutenberg’s press.

This text, however, did not survive, nor did the countless number of others printed when the technology spread across the Mongol empire on the Silk Road and took root with the Muslim Uyghurs. It is possible, though “no clear historical evidence” yet supports the contention, that movable type spread to Europe from Asia along trade routes. “If there was any connection,” wrote Joseph Needham in Science and Civilization in China, “in the spread of printing between Asia and the West, the Uyghurs, who used both block printing and movable type, had good opportunities to play an important role in this introduction.”

Without surviving documentation, this early history of printing in Asia relies on secondary sources. But “the entire history of the printing press" in Europe" is likewise "riddled with gaps,” Newman writes. What we do know is that Jikji, a collection of Korean Zen Buddhist teachings, is the world’s oldest extant book printed with movable type. The myth of Johannes Gutenberg as “a lone genius who transformed human culture,” as Davis writes, “endures because the sweep of what followed is so vast that it feels almost mythic and needs an origin story to match." But this is one inventive individual in the history of printing, not the original, godlike source of movable type.

Gutenberg makes sense as a convenient starting point for the growth and worldwide spread of capitalism and European Christianity. His innovation worked much faster than earlier systems, and others that developed around the same time, in which frames were pressed by hand against the paper. Flows of new capital enabled the rapid spread of his machine across Europe. The achievement of the Gutenberg Bible is not diminished by a fuller history. But "what gets left out” of the usual story, as Newman tells us in great detail, “is startlingly rich.”

“Only very recently, mostly in the last decade” has the long history of printing in Asia been “acknowledged at all” in popular culture, though scholars in both the East and West have long known it. Korea has regarded Jikji "and other ancient volumes as national points of pride that rank among the most important of books.” Yet UNESCO only certified Jikji as the “oldest movable metal type printing evidence” in 2001. The recognition may be late in coming, but it matters a great deal, nonetheless. Learn much more about the history, content, and provenance of Jikji at this site created by “cyber diplomats” in Korea after UNESCO bestowed World Heritage status on the book. And see a fully digitized copy of the book here.

via Lithub

Related Content:

The World’s Oldest Multicolor Book, a 1633 Chinese Calligraphy & Painting Manual, Now Digitized and Put Online

1,000+ Historic Japanese Illustrated Books Digitized & Put Online by the Smithsonian: From the Edo & Meji Eras (1600-1912)

See How The Gutenberg Press Worked: Demonstration Shows the Oldest Functioning Gutenberg Press in Action

Oxford University Presents the 550-Year-Old Gutenberg Bible in Spectacular, High-Res Detail

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Oldest Book Printed with Movable Type is Not The Gutenberg Bible: Jikji, a Collection of Korean Buddhist Teachings, Predated It By 78 Years and It’s Now Digitized Online is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

11 Jul 17:45

Seismic Soundoff Episode 58: Understanding signals & The Beatles' connection to Fourier Analysis

06 Jun 18:24

Why It Pays to Play Around - Issue 73: Play

by Andreas Wagner

The 19th-century physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared his progress in solving a problem to that of a mountain climber “compelled to retrace his steps because his progress stopped.” A mountain climber, von Helmholtz said, “hits upon traces of a fresh path, which again leads him a little further.” The physicist’s introspection provokes the question: How do creative minds overcome valleys to get to the next higher peak?

Because thinking minds are different from evolving organisms and self-assembling molecules, we cannot expect them to use the same means—mechanisms like genetic drift and thermal vibrations—to overcome deep valleys in the landscapes they explore. But they must have some way to achieve the same purpose. As it turns out, they have more than just one—many more. But one of the most important is play.

I don’t mean the rule-based play of a board game or the competitive play of a soccer match, but rather the kind of freewheeling, unstructured play that children perform with a pile of LEGO blocks or with toy shovels and buckets in a sandbox. I mean playful behavior without immediate goals and benefits, without even the possibility of failure.

AN EASY GAME TO PLAY: Paul McCartney has said he dreamed…
Read More…
06 Jun 18:23

Learning Chess at 40 - Issue 73: Play

by Tom Vanderbilt

My 4-year-old daughter and I were deep into a game of checkers one day about three years ago when her eye drifted to a nearby table. There, a black and white board bristled with far more interesting figures, like horses and castles. “What’s that?” she asked. “Chess,” I replied. “Can we play?” I nodded absently.

There was just one problem: I didn’t know how. I dimly remembered having learned the basic moves in elementary school, but it never stuck. This fact vaguely haunted me through my life; idle chessboards in hotel lobbies or puzzles in weekend newspaper supplements teased me like reproachful riddles.

And so I decided I would learn, if only so I could teach my daughter. The basic moves were easy enough to pick up—a few hours hunched over my smartphone at kids’ birthday parties or waiting in line at the grocery store. It soon became apparent, however, that I had no concept of the larger strategy. The chess literature was dauntingly huge, and achingly specific, with several-hundred-page tomes devoted to unpacking single openings. The endgame literature alone could drown a person.

unfair advantage?: My daughter en route to another victory.Francesco Izzo

So, time-starved and not wanting to…
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05 Jun 18:33

A Lack of Accountability at Artforum’s Panel on “Art, Activism and Accountability”

by O.K. Fox

"The contradictions are becoming clear: an art institution famously bad at accountability decides to host a panel on the topic."

How Soon Is Now: Art, Activism and Accountability with panelists Claire Bishop, Tania Bruguera, Nan Goldin, Tobi Haslett, and Anne Pasternak, and moderated by David Velasco (photo by the author)

“When is art a space for improving the world, and when is it a cover for nefarious activities?” asked the press release for Artforum’s event How Soon Is Now: Art, Activism and Accountability, held at the New School last Thursday. Considering Artforum’s involvement in an on-going defamation lawsuit filed by former employee Amanda Schmitt against Knight Landesman, I find this question to be bonkers. Schmitt’s case, now being appealed, details the sexual harassment she experienced from her former boss, a partial owner of the magazine. The press release is almost too knowing; perhaps editor-in-chief David Velasco is making a nod to the criticisms of any transformations at Artforum being merely surface level.

I worked for Artforum International Magazine for four years in their circulation department, and held the same position as Amanda Schmitt. While I was not at Artforum while Schmitt was there, I was loudly opposed to their mishandling of Schmitt’s sexual harassment-related case, and was eventually encouraged by my supervisors to quit. Knight Landesman’s resignation as publisher did not change the fundamental problems at the publication; management continued to foster an unsafe work environment.

In fact, in the panel’s introduction, Velasco did reference his magazine’s issues with accountability, but decided to shelf it in the context of bygone problem addressed over a year ago: “Someone official asked me as we prepared this panel: ‘How can you point fingers?’,” he told the audience. “My answer is simple: I can’t. And right now that might be the best thing I have to offer.” With “accountability” firmly off the table, and the news cycle currently focused on the museums, it seems the audience is in for that typical, tired discussion contrasting “art” and “activism.”

Luckily, panelists Nan Goldin and Claire Bishop brought the fire. Goldin’s group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) has gotten several institutions to refuse all future Sackler funding, and is planning to work with Vocal New York, a grassroots organization that helps build power with people affected by the war on drugs, to hopefully make a difference in harm reduction as well: “We shamed some people, and we got museums to stop taking money. But, ultimately, PAIN is not just about shaming filthy rich bastards — it’s also about trying to address the crisis in a real way.”

During the panel, one of the panelists and director of the Brooklyn Museum, Anne Pasternak, was forced to reconcile with Elizabeth A. Sackler, founder of the Center for Feminist Art at her museum. Pasternak contended that there is such thing as a “good” Sackler, but Goldin says she believes they are all complicit. As a trans person in the audience, I was going mad, but my immediate thought was addressed when Goldin suggested Elizabeth A. could change her last name if she was really serious about severing ties with her family.

When Warren Kanders, the Whitney Museum of American Art board member and tear gas baron, was invoked by Goldin, Velasco asks the director, “Why do people join boards?” Pasternak admitted there is money and influence in the position, she also believed “they care about the mission of the museum” — as though those two reasons aren’t diametrically opposed. She declared the crisis at The Whitney “complicated” and refused to make a direct comment on the situation.

Claire Bishop, a British art historian, tagged in with a question about the protests led by the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network aimed at Pasternak’s museum for hosting 2015 Brooklyn Real Estate Summit — but if you are still trying to find accountability at the “accountability” panel, keep looking. Pasternak’s response reads like a parody of liberal platitudes: “We have to look at the larger issues of how our institutions have supported or played a role in systemic injustices and that our institutions lean into this present moment and do better. We must do better, and that’s the conversation I’m most interested in.” For many, “doing better” would include an actual apology for hosting an expensive brunch for the real estate speculators responsible for the displacement of vulnerable populations the Brooklyn Museum is supposed to serve, but go off queen!

Excuse me for being rude, but I feel like we are stuck in a time loop. Is that what a complete lack of progress feels like? Again, from the panel’s press release: “How can artists and the systems that support them rise to the occasion? Are museums places of enlightenment, and if so, should they be held to higher standards than other organizations?” These are such basic questions that they are actually regressive compared to the institutional critique recorded at the first Open Hearing by the Art Workers Coalition in 1969. This is a losing framework that throws away the groundwork already laid out by historical leftist organizing.

What if art wasn’t a glorified tax write off for the wealthy and instead was treated as the public necessity we all know it to be? The contradictions are becoming clear: an art institution famously bad at accountability decides to host a panel on the topic. The people in positions of power at these institutions live extremely privileged lives. They are constantly rubbing elbows with the highest echelon power: your politicians, oil execs, Saudi royalty, all of the cartoon villain versions of rich people that are real and supporting the arts. Perhaps this is why the middle managers of the art world refuse to position themselves as part of the problem. We need them to understand their placement if they are serious about accountability. The globalized neoliberal hell market has fully realized the flexibility of art, but we can use that flexibility as well. We cannot hold those in power to account without a redistribution of that power. It will take risk and effort, but we can build institutions that are glorious examples of what an accountable workplace can look like.

Furthermore, redistribution from a third party bureaucracy is not sufficient; a certification or legal process are not sustainable forms of accountability. I am skeptical of Nan Goldin’s announcement of a board guidelines project with Hito Steyerl (Steyerl’s recent show, Power Plants at London’s Serpentine Sackler gallery, addressed PAIN’s demands by removing the Sackler name in its augmented reality feature). This idea is similar, as an audience member pointed out, to W.A.G.E.’s aestheticized testimonial process. Guidelines on a pretty website do nothing to address systemic power imbalances, especially without the people power to uphold them. These ideas are far too ethereal and individualistic to make a tangible impact.

Left out of the panel entirely were the major wins and expansion to art and cultural workers’ rights made by unions, and worker cooperatives (MEANS TV, The Glory Society). Workers need to take control, power must be evenly distributed, and there must be an outside movement to demand the same of all institutions. There is hope in new art workers unions being formed all the time, as well as in the important museum worker salary share document that has been circulating since Friday.

These are among the points I tried to synthesize in my comment to the panel, which I ended by saying; “To an editor-in-chief or museum director, $500 is a new shirt to you, but to your lowest-rung workers, it’s life or death.” That disparity allows exploitation to thrive, and it is incumbent on us to demand nothing less than a redistributed society.

Most importantly, I would like to thank writer Valerie Werder, one of the women named in the lawsuit against Landesman, for doing the extremely brave task an entire auditorium at The New School were too afraid to do, and directly call out Artforum’s complete failure to take responsibility for their role in harboring and covering up abuse of power.

“As you know, rather than taking accountability for harboring a known sexual harasser, Artforum moved to dismiss Amanda Schmitt’s lawsuit against the magazine,” Werder said. “She recently filed an appeal to the court’s decision to dismiss the case, and Artforum‘s response is due in two weeks. Does Artforum plan on finally taking accountability for Landesman’s sexual harassment of hundreds of people over many decades, or will the magazine move to dismiss Schmitt’s appeal again?”

These are the moments where change can actually happen, and was such a relief after such a sad display of liberal fecklessness. Artforum leadership owes Valerie Werder, all of the people abused by Landesman, as well as their former and current staff a proper response.

The post A Lack of Accountability at <i>Artforum</i>’s Panel on “Art, Activism and Accountability” appeared first on Hyperallergic.

04 Jun 23:17

Neil Gaiman Shut Down a Troll Who Whined About Good Omens’ “Forced Diversity”

by Kaila Hale-Stern

Good Omens and its diversity twitter trolls

Author Neil Gaiman (and attendant fans) had the perfect response to a Twitter user who complained about the diversity shown in the first few minutes of Good Omens’ TV adaptation.

Welcome to the Internet in 2019, where anything that’s not about you or your image of a thing is construed by a certain league of trolls as a direct attack by, I imagine, a dastardly multicultural queer lizard-person cabal bent on bettering representation in media.  This sounds like a rather exhausting way to go about one’s day-to-day existence. We multicultural queer lizard people are everywhere, and it’s useless to resist our agenda.

But it’s your loss if you turn off Good Omens because—in a program about an angel and a demon who are best friends in love, Sir Derek Jacobi as an absent God’s mouthpiece, stuck-up hosts of Heaven, and a cuddly hellhound—it’s just a little too much to imagine a diverse deviation from Westernized Biblical imagery.

The bit of early Good Omens that some people on Twitter took umbrage with is likely two-fold: first, Frances McDormand, a known woman, a confirmed female, begins the narration as the voice of God. Then there’s the Genesis sequence we see kick off the story. Adam and Eve are played by black actors, and these amassed affronts were a step too far by the fell reptilian forces of social justice.

That there would be people upset about a black couple playing the first man and woman on Earth—which is about as scientifically accurate as an interpretation of the Bible is likely to be—is sad and infuriating. If they’re angry about Frances McDormand as God, I have bad news for them regarding Alanis Morisette.

Imagine turning off the joyful experience that is Good Omens within minutes because the sight and sounds of casting diversity send you into a fit. The world must be difficult indeed for this sort of person to navigate. I can’t imagine it, but then again, I am but a humble lizard borrowing the shape of a person.

Good Omens co-author and adapter Neil Gaiman is closely engaged with his fanbase on social media, and the run-up to Good Omens has been no exception. So it’s not surprising that he saw this remark and was unwilling to let sleeping hellhounds lie:

It turns out that Gaiman has expanded on this theme in the past. In response to a question from /Film, he said:

Do you expect the black Adam and Eve to ruffle some feathers, since some devout people still assume they were white?

You’re talking here about a drama predicated on the idea that the antichrist might actually be a nice kid in which a demon and an angel are working against the orders of Heaven and incidentally Hell in order to stop the apocalypse from happening and save the world. On this basis, I think a black Adam and Eve is a nice way of letting anybody who would be significantly offended by any of those concepts know that they can stop watching this now. It is safe to turn off.

Then Good Omens fans arrived on the Twitter thread with snarky flaming swords in hand to do battle.

Really everyone else could now go home, since the fatal wound was delivered; but we have more delights in store.

Truly the whole thread in response to the troll tweet is a thing of glory, and I encourage you to peruse it. We end on perhaps the very best use of a fantastic reaction image in its long and illustrious history:

(via Neil Gaiman on Twitter, image: BBC/Amazon Prime Video)

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

04 Jun 23:14

Why is there so much antitrust energy for Big Tech but not for Big Telco?

by Cory Doctorow

I'm 100% down for the trend toward trustbusting, and I'm very glad to see it applied to Big Tech, because, like Tom Eastman, I'm old enough to remember when the Internet wasn't a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four. I'd like to have that Internet again.

What's more, I think many of the Big Tech trustbusters are there because they understand the companies, the economic context, the promise and the peril of industrial concentration: people like Tim Wu, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

I think that the right wing case for busting up Big Tech is much less principled and much more parochial, driven by a desire to force the platforms to let their Nazis stay, and give far-right harassers extra leeway, while pwning the libs.

But that all said, Karl Bode raises an excellent point when he asks why there isn't the same kind of energy to break up the telcos, whose routinely deplorable behavior make them the most loathed industry in America, and whose monopolism has cost America its competitiveness.

Bode points out that Big Telco is the enemy of Big Tech, and has -- since the days of the Bell System -- sought to monopolize 100% of the profits from the use of its wires (the latest version of this being the Net Neutrality fight).

Bode sees Big Cable's hands working behind the scenes to manipulate and mainstream the debate over monopoly and Big Tech, using conservatives' distress at seeing the "free market" turn into a monopolized communications world that is increasingly hostile to them to get them to overcome their 40-year commitment to permitting monopolies (which are a godsend to the investor class, which is also the political donor class).

There may be some truth to that. Certainly, Big Telco is the consummate lobbying machine, second only to Big Military Industrial Complex, and they're very, very good at leading the political classes around by the nose. That said, I don't think Tim Wu or Liz Warren or AOC or Casey Newton or the Open Markets Institute arrived at their trustbusting ideas because they were duped by cable lobbyist. For one thing, they all want to break up Big Telco, too.

And that's the thing: even if Bode is right and there's a bunch of hidden Big Cable money pushing for the Big Tech trustbusting movement, they're playing a very dangerous game. Once the precedent is set that America is the kind of company that breaks up monopolies, they're not going to stop with Big Tech. Once the Overton Window is resized to allow trustbusting through, it's going to be very hard to slam it shut again.

Yet again, notice how telecom gets a free pass by the Trump administration? Notice how Silicon Valley is demonized, but telecom's surveillance and anti-competitive gambits see zero backlash? I don't think it's happenstance that this new Trump "big tech" antitrust push comes as big telecom has asked for just such a push to aid its own competitive agenda. A lot of folks on both sides of the political aisle who'd like to see more done to rein in "big tech" seem a touch oblivious to the possibility that this new antitrust push may not be entirely in good faith.

There's a good chance these antitrust inquiries into Google, Facebook, and Apple are little more than partisan fever dreams co-driven by telecom lobbyists, yet a lot of outlets and experts are acting as if market health and consumer welfare are genuine motivators. It's entirely unclear what the Trump administration did to suddenly earn this blanket trust, but as the net neutrality fracas made pretty clear, it sure as hell isn't its several year track record on coherent tech policy.

If 'Big Tech' Is a Huge Antitrust Problem, Why Are We Ignoring Telecom? [Karl Bode/Techdirt]

04 Jun 23:13

I assembled a Clockwork GameShell. It's very cool

by Mark Frauenfelder

Rob recently wrote about the Clockwork GameShell (an open source, Arduino-friendly, Linux-based handheld game console that runs all sorts of new and old video games). I got one this weekend and put it together. It took about an hour to assemble. Everything was modular and snap-together. No screws. It's very well designed. As I was putting it together I gained a lot of respect for the designer . The only tools I needcd were some flush cut clippers (to remove the plastic parts from the sprues) and some nitrile gloves (to prevent smearing the display and the clear plastic parts).

Here's the box:

And the contents:

Controller buttons and tightening pins on sprues:

Flush cutters came in handy for neatly removing plastic parts from the sprues:

Here are the sub-components inside their clear modular cases:

Fully assembled:

And a quick tour of the menu:

I'll write more about it after I use it for a while.

03 Jun 18:35

My Journey to Self-Love, Sponsored By the J.M. Smucker Company and Its Major Subsidiaries

by Grace Perry

Two years ago, I was at an all-time low.

Sure, I had everything on paper: the dream job, a loving partner, a gorgeous little apartment just a half-block from a bodega stocked with over seven flavors of Smucker’s jams, jellies, and ice cream toppings. But even with all those luxuries, I wasn’t happy. I was never satisfied, never present; I was so busy building the perfect life that I hadn’t given myself the opportunity to actually live it. I didn’t realize something that, now, is so obvious: self-love and real, lasting happiness go together like JIF creamy peanut butter and Smucker’s Squeeze grape jelly.

I vividly remember the moment I decided to change my life for the better. I was sitting on a bench in Union Square, having lunch with my lifelong friend, the Uncrustables mascot, a six-foot-tall, sealed, crustless PB+J pocket with crimped edges, eyes, and blue limbs. I offered Uncrustable a bite of my lunch, like I always do: “Want a dip from my JIF-To-Go creamy peanut butter cup? They’re ideal to share with friends and family.” Uncrustable does not speak, but gave me a look that communicated something I’ll never forget: “You’re always thinking of others,” said my dear friend’s wordless glance. “For once, why don’t you share the JIF-To-Go creamy peanut butter cup… with yourself?

Those words from Uncrustable the Uncrustables mascot lit a fire within me. I realized I’d spent so much energy shirking self-love that I’d barricaded myself from joy. I’d covered my true self in a Smucker’s Magic Shell topping that had created a candy-coated shell over my emotions, just like it does on ice cream: in under five seconds. I realized there was only one spoon strong enough to crack me open. And that spoon? Was me.

Change didn’t come overnight. As they say, life isn’t a Folger’s French Vanilla Instant Cappuccino Packet. Change comes in small increments, one ground of Folgers Classic Roast coffee at a time. But I cultivated small changes in my life, and stuck with them. Soon enough, I had a 38.4oz canister of self-love stored up, and ready to brew in an instant.

I began by practicing mindfulness on a daily basis. I slowed down, got out of my head and took in the sights and sounds of the wild, weird, wonderful city around me. I’d been so consumed about my career and the future that I never really smelled the magnolia outside my apartment, or really listened to the church bells down the block, or stopped to talk to my bodega guy, Ronnie, who told me of a three-for-one promotion on Meow Mix Paté Toppers with real whitefish topped with flakes of tuna now through June 30.

One of the hardest things I did on my journey was write a list of 10 things I loved about myself. My ex with whom I’m still close, Snaucrates the Snausages dog, is a bit of a self-love philosopher himself, and insisted I try it out. Now, I could write a million things I love about my friends, especially about Snaucrates. But, lovable things about me? I thought those were like pineapple-flavored Snausages: non-existent.

But I tried it out. I picked up what I thought was a pen but was actually a Snaw Somes! beef and cheese stick (I do not own a dog). Then I picked up a real pen and started writing: I like my hair. I like my sense of humor. I like the way my hands feel after I bathe them in Crisco for 24 hours straight. Soon, I discovered a whole laundry list of things I loved about myself! There are almost as many great things about me as there are recognizable brands that fork over a portion of their annual profits to their impressive and lucrative owners, the J.M. Smucker Company.

I even created a mantra. Every morning, I look in the bathroom mirror and say, “I am a jar of Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest Red Tart Cherry Preserves. I am a premium line of all-natural snacks perfect for everything from brunch with the gals to Thanksgiving dinner. And I deserve to be treated as such.” After 15 times or so, my partner inevitably knocks on the door and asks me if I’m doing “that thing” again, and you know what? I am. No shame.

Now, I thank myself every day. For the big things, like working hard enough to get that promotion; and the little things, like brewing my Dunkin’ At Home coffee in the comfort of my own kitchen, instead of going through the hassle of buying it at a Dunkin’ location. I root for myself. I give myself the space I need to really feel my emotions. I even spoil myself from time to time. (Trust me, your morning vitamin tastes so much better inside a Pup-Peroni Pill Pocket!)

I know I’m not perfect at practicing self-love. Far from it! I still have days where I get down on myself, where loving me for me seems less possible than zucchini bread sticking to a loaf pan that was thoroughly coated in Crisco before usage. But all I can do is try my best. That’s life. Or, as they’d say on the Smucker’s Canada website… c’est la vie.

22 May 20:02

Scientists Go Back in Time to Find More Troubling News About Earth's Oceans

by Matt Simon
A clever study finds communities of foraminifera, a hard-shelled kind of plankton, have transformed dramatically since the Industrial Revolution.