Monthly Archives: August 2015

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Black Lives Matter Inspired This Chilling Fantasy Novel Laura Hanifin N. K. Jemisin is one of the most exciting fantasy authors to emerge in recent years, with popular books like The Killing Moon and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which feature diverse characters and non-traditional settings. As a black woman, Jemisin’s life experience differs greatly from that of most fantasy authors, who are overwhelmingly white and predominantly male, and that’s given her a much different view of authority figures than you’ll find in authors like Tolkien. Episode 165: N. K. Jemisin Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe on iTunes Download free MP3 “I was raised to be very wary of the police,” Jemisin says in Episode 165 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I was raised to stay away from them unless you absolutely have to. Because they’re dangerous.” Her new novel The Fifth Season is set in a world […]

The Battle of the Best Savings Accounts There are two banks that pay 10x the interest of most others, but how do they stack up against eachother? Continue reading to find out which one of them truly earns the title of best savings account. It’s a well known fact that interest rates on savings accounts are incredibly low. In fact, the average savings account is hovering around 0.06% according to the FDIC. 0.06%? That’s such a far cry from pre-crisis times, it’s shocking. At rates that low one might ask, why even have a savings account? Why don’t I just place my hard-earned money under the mattress? I can’t blame you. However if you did that, you’d be leaving money on the table (or under the mattress). There are much better options out there; savings account options that earn 10-15 times the average rate of 0.06%. We’ve scoured high and […]

High Tech High Tech | How Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are rushing to cash in on cannabis. A clone of the Charlotte’s Web strain, developed by the Stanley brothers, crossed with another strain of industrial hemp. PART 1 Like many people in San Francisco, Sasha Robinson is working on a startup out of his home. His living room is a riot of wires, battery packs, pliers, and metal casings. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was a bomb maker. But these are just the raw materials for a new gadget he’s creating. It’s something revolutionary, he thinks, and he should know. In the 2000s, Robinson ran software development at industrial design firm Moto, where he oversaw new product development for the Flip HD camcorder. Before that he was at Juniper Systems and Silicon Graphics, two of the Valley’s foundational tech firms. His cofounder, Mark Williams, has also bounced around […]

What is dark matter? Physics is unique in the scientific world, in that its reliance on math means it can come to a broad consensus on matters with very little evidence available. In Earth science, a veritable mountain of evidence can’t fully bury the issue of global warming, and even with the vast majority of scientists now convinced, a vocal minority still dissent. Yet in the case of physics and dark matter, a substance defined as being virtually immune to observation, there are no meaningful dark matter deniers left standing. So what is dark matter, and how has physics come to such a powerful agreement on the idea that it makes up the vast majority of matter in the universe? Matter, the regular kind that makes up the atmosphere, the Sun, Pluto, and Donald Trump, interacts with the universe in a number of ways. It absorbs, and in many cases emits, electromagnetic radiation in the […]

Listen Up America: You Need to Learn How to Recycle. Again. Donina Asera/Getty Images Recycling is one of the first post-industrial successes that mixed environmentalism with business. Instead of being buried underground, certain types of waste stream from consumer’s homes to special facilities to be sorted by type, broken down, and shipped off to manufacturers to begin life anew. Recycling makes environmental and economic sense. Or at least, it did. Sure, Americans are recycling more than ever before, but the business side of things is in a lull. Some recycled goods just aren’t worth as much as they used to be, and the downturn has hit the industry hard. Companies have reported losses in the millions, some have shuttered facilities, and several are talking about renegotiating contracts so cities help foot the bill. There’s no easy solution. But it sure would help if Americans relearned how to recycle. Don’t believe me? […]

Straight Outta Compton Is Missing One Thing: Self-Reflection Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Straight Outta Compton is by no means a comedy, but it has its share of laugh lines, and the biggest one comes right around the movie’s halfway point, as N.W.A is on tour for the first time and enjoying the fruits of their newfound fame. An angry dude shows up to their hotel-room afterparty looking for his girlfriend Felicia; after a brief hallway standoff, our heroes and their companions for the night head back into the suite. Everyone, that is, except for Felicia, who Ice Cube (portrayed by his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.) pushes out of his way and out of the celebration with a single line.“Bye, Felicia.” The theater I saw the movie in erupted—as will most theaters. It’s the canniest moment of the film: a young rapper (Jackson Jr. is also an emcee who performs under the name […]

Meet 5 of the Most Powerful Supercomputers Around From missile defense to stoplight operations, you would need an insane mental capacity to run the world. Here’s five computers which qualify. 1. Trinity How’s this for responsibility: Trinity is tasked with ensuring that America’s nuclear arsenal remains in safe, working order. Beyond that, the details are classified. So what is it doing with its massive processing capabilities, which are estimated to be in the ballpark of 30 petaflops? According to one source, virtualized testing and diagnostics are two of its possible functions. 2. NASDAQ Running behind the world’s second-largest financial exchange in the world by (by market capitalization and trading volume) is a three-pronged computer system which matches buyers and sellers, provides quotes and serves as the electronic brain of the whole exchange. It’s work is so vital to the working of the U.S. economy that even a brief outage can […]

The EPA Accidentally Turned This River Toxic—And Orange People kayak in the Animas River near Durango, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in water colored from a mine waste spill. Since Wednesday morning, a ribbon of bright orange water has been making its way down the Animas River in southwest Colorado. The cause? A million gallons of gunk pouring out of an abandoned century-old mine. The Environmental Protection Agency is already on the scene, though. Because, well, they caused it. Yeah, oops.It’s a classic case of good intentions backfiring. The abandoned mines in the area have long been a problem, filling up with acidic wastewater that leaches heavy metals out of rock and leaks into the river—a slow-motion environmental debacle. And the EPA has been trying to designate the mines a Superfund site for years, only to come up against local resistance. The mines still aren’t on the Superfund list, but the EPA has been […]

How VR Filmmakers Can Make Classics in Their All-New Medium Prototype of the new consumer Oculus Rift being used to watch Henry. Many filmmakers have expressed excitement in virtual reality’s promise for the future filmmaking. George Lucas, it seems, isn’t one of them.In January, Lucas appeared at the Sundance Film Festival for an onstage conversation with Robert Redford to discuss the importance of independent cinema. The two men have roughly 100 years of movie-making experience between them; in fact, Lucas all but invented the future of film when he founded Industrial Light & Magic in 1975. So when moderator Leonard Maltin asked, “What is the new frontier in cinema? How do you think new technology will change the industry? 3-D, virtual reality, all of these things?” people were very interested in the answer.Lucas was the first to bite. “Well, a lot of the [air-quotes gesture] ‘hype’ on new technologies, I […]

The Science of Bad Music Playlists Streaming music services give us tracks we like. But we need tracks we’ll love. Tavis Coburn Back when 15 bucks was a lot of money to me, I bought Led Zeppelin’s debut album after listening to it on in-store headphones at HMV—every day for a week. The first play, though, is one of my most powerful musical memories: I felt those first two chords roll into my head and watched my arm raise up, hand in an autonomic rock-fingers salute. When I finally brought the CD home, I was so excited that I broke the jewel box trying to breach the security sticker.By college—aka the Napster era—I was no longer shelling out for music; but if time is money, I was still paying. I’d hear a song and get curious about the artist. Then I’d steal some tracks. A song could take an hour […]

From Brothels to Luxury, Mapping 400 Years on One NYC Block Red markers show the locations of brothels in 1870 and 1880. G.W. Bromley & Co. Walk down Greene Street in SoHo today and you’ll pass an Apple Store, a Ralph Lauren store, and a variety of other high-end retailers. A hundred forty years ago, you’d be walking by brothels. The street has been up and down (and up again) several times in its 400 year history, as a fascinating new website illustrates with maps, graphics, and historical photos. There’s a ton of data behind the flashy graphics, pulled from the US Census Bureau, city directories, and other sources. Economist William Easterly of New York University and colleagues made the site to accompany a research paper they’re getting ready to submit to a journal. “It’s a very wonky paper full of academic jargon,” Easterly says. “This [website] is meant to […]

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