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Comments Off on Astronomers Are Watching a Black Hole Tear a Star Apart in Another Galaxy

Astronomers Are Watching a Black Hole Tear a Star Apart in Another Galaxy Astronomers detected a massive outpouring of energy from a distant galaxy 10 years ago, which would usually mean a supernova event — the death of a star. The galaxy in question is actually two galaxies colliding, so the region known as Arp 299 is rich with supernovae. However, the signal changed in unexpected ways over the last decade, and scientists now believe this is a result not of a supernova, but of a star being gobbled up by a black hole. In a new study, astronomers claim a star with around two solar masses came apart at the seams when it encountered a black hole with the mass of 20 suns. The original event (about 150 million light years distant) showed up in the sky to be detected by the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands. […]

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Comments Off on The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist

The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist At 2:28 pm on August 28, 2003, a middle-aged pizza deliveryman named Brian Wells walked into a PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. He had a short cane in his right hand and a strange bulge under the collar of his T-shirt. Wells, 46 and balding, passed the teller a note. “Gather employees with access codes to vault and work fast to fill bag with $250,000,” it said. “You have only 15 minutes.” Then he lifted his shirt to reveal a heavy, boxlike device dangling from his neck. According to the note, it was a bomb. The teller, who told Wells there was no way to get into the vault at that time, filled a bag with cash—$8,702—and handed it over. Wells walked out, sucking on a Dum Dum lollipop he grabbed from the counter, hopped into his car, and drove off. […]

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Comments Off on Trump Can’t Block Critics on Twitter. What This Means For You

Trump Can’t Block Critics on Twitter. What This Means For You   On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that President Donald Trump’s practice of blocking his critics on Twitter violates the First Amendment. The practice is unconstitutional, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her 75-page decision, because the @realdonaldtrump Twitter account is a public forum operated by the government, meaning viewpoint discrimination is strictly prohibited. While the case has drawn attention for its ties to the Tweeter-in-chief, legal scholars say it has far-reaching implications, protecting all Americans’ rights to communicate with elected leaders and government entities online. “This is a really important contribution,” says Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and author of the book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace. Judge Buchwald’s decision explains how the case hinges on two crucial questions: Whether a public official can block people on Twitter in response to their political views […]

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Comments Off on The great meal-kit shakeout continues as Kroger plans to buy Home Chef for at least $200 million

The great meal-kit shakeout continues as Kroger plans to buy Home Chef for at least $200 million   A year ago, no meal-kit startups of consequence had gone public or sold to a competitor. As of today, at least five of the startups in the space have, or intend to. The latest: On Wednesday, Kroger announced its intent to purchase Chicago-based Home Chef for $200 million up front. The value of the deal could balloon to $700 million over five years if Home Chef hits certain “significant growth” milestones. Home Chef, the third-largest meal-kit company, grew 150 percent in 2017 to $250 million in revenue, Kroger said. The company has historically been unprofitable, but recently posted two quarters in the black. Home Chef, like others in the space, ships pre-measured ingredients to customers’ homes so they can make recipes that are included in the order. The string of transactions in […]

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Comments Off on Woman sparks bizarre craze crafting creepy ‘WerePups’ selling for up to £1,000 – and celebrities love them

Woman sparks bizarre craze crafting creepy ‘WerePups’ selling for up to £1,000 – and celebrities love them Horror icons such as Alice Cooper and Robert Englund, famous for playing Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street, are said to be on Asia Eriksen’s customer list Click to play Watch NextUnderground four-mile beer pipeline to supply thirsty metalheads at this year’s Wacken Open Air showpiece This horror-loving woman creates creepy werewolf babies that sell for hundreds of pounds and celebrities can’t get enough of them A woman has sparked a bizarre online craze crafting creepy ‘WerePups’ selling for £1,000 – and celebrities love them. Horror fan Asia Eriksen, 34, transforms herself into mad scientist alter ego ‘Dr. Baxter’, before creating her customisable hand-held monsters called ’WerePups’.The bizarre doll-like creations resemble a hybrid of a baby and a werewolf and can take months of intricate work. Bought to commemorate a lost loved […]

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Comments Off on France, China, and the EU All Have an AI Strategy. Shouldn’t the US?

France, China, and the EU All Have an AI Strategy. Shouldn’t the US? If the United States wants a prosperous economy, it needs a national plan for artificial intelligence. HOTLITTLEPOTATO French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to Washington highlighted how differently our two nations are thinking about the future. In March, the French government unveiled a national strategy for artificial intelligence technology that has a clear goal: make France a global leader in AI. In the last year, China and the European Union have taken similar steps. If we’re serious about having a prosperous economy for decades to come, the United States should do the same. OPINION ABOUT US Representative John K. Delaney (D-MD) (@RepJohnDelaney) is the founder of the AI Caucus and is the only former CEO of a publicly traded company in the House of Representatives. The French strategy—ambitiously titled “For a Meaningful Artificial Intelligence”—was outlined in a […]

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Comments Off on Dear White People, The Rachel Divide, and the Hard Questions of Identity

Dear White People, The Rachel Divide, and the Hard Questions of Identity One of Dear White People’s genuine feats is its rejection of easy, comfortable categorizations around black identity.   Let’s begin with the most obvious observation: Dear White People lacks a clear thesis. The second season—released today on Netflix under the tag Volume 2—rattles with welcome confrontation, proudly bearing the face of disquiet in its opening blushes. Creator-director Justin Simien wants to have a conversation with us. So he begins with a seemingly straightforward question: What goes best in grits? Remember, we’re at Winchester University, which means students happily toss up answers like dynamite. Sugar. Salt. No, shrimp! “And a little gruyere—heaven.” There’s conflict. There’s harmony. There’s a natural intensity to the tempo of exchange. One of Simien’s signature cinematic tropes is to ignite debate around cultural emblems, major and minor, and this opening scene is a good example […]

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Comments Off on Beyoncé, Kendrick, Kanye, and How the World Seeks to Limit Black Genius

Beyoncé, Kendrick, Kanye, and How the World Seeks to Limit Black Genius Knowles; West and Lamar  If one were attempting to define black genius in its modern form, the week of April 16 provides no shortage of starting points. We could begin with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter—the singer, mother, and pop maximalist who understands that music can, and should, be a kind of cinema—and her historically transcendent Coachella performance. Or we could just as easily begin with Kendrick Lamar; the Compton, California artist became the first rapper to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for his searing album DAMN. Or perhaps it’s best we start with Kanye West, who reemerged this week on Twitter with a meditative shortform treatise on human existence and the nobility of creative production. Rendered through these three artists, the sweat and gristle of black genius—which is to say, the bone-tough work of black genius—was nearly impossible […]

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Comments Off on The Return of MAD Magazine and Its All-New Gang of Idiots

The Return of MAD Magazine and Its All-New Gang of Idiots MAD Magazine More than 40 years ago this month, MAD Magazine founder William M. Gaines managed to outrage hundreds of his loyal readers, all by barely lifting a finger. For the April 1974 issue of his happily juvenile comedy rag—a mix of pop-culture parodies, political humor, and sound-effect-saturated comic strips—Gaines’ staff went with a cover illustration guaranteed to shock school teachers and parents around the country: A raised middle finger, accompanied by the declaration that MAD was the “Number One Ecch Magazine.” Gaines had casually approved the image, which he didn’t even find that funny. But when some of the magazine’s nearly 2 million readers began complaining, he wound up personally writing letters of apology. “We put it out, and the roof fell in,” Gaines later said of the issue. It’s hard to imagine a similarly outraged reaction to […]

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Comments Off on This is how music producer Oak Felder crafted Demi Lovato’s hit song ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ Felder demonstrated the songwriting process live onstage at Code Media 2018.

This is how music producer Oak Felder crafted Demi Lovato’s hit song ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ Felder demonstrated the songwriting process live onstage at Code Media 2018.   How we live affects what music we produce — and right now technology is the “bridge” between those two things, record producer Warren “Oak” Felder said today at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, Calif. Onstage, Felder recreated the technical process of how he produced the hit Demi Lovato single “Sorry Not Sorry.” Starting from a blank canvas in the music production app Logic Pro X, he said his first job was to create a “vibe” before the songwriting process could begin. “The people in the room are looking at you for the initial spark of inspiration,” he said. “You are the catalyst, you are starting everything up.” After that, he added a “booty shaker” — a low, bass-y rumble often heard […]

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Comments Off on Within Facebook, a Sense of Relief Over the Zuckerberg Hearings

Within Facebook, a Sense of Relief Over the Zuckerberg Hearings Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress this week. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images About two hours, or 20 percent, into Mark Zuckerberg’s marathon testimony before Congress this week, the Facebook CEO had a slightly awkward exchange with senator John Cornyn (R-Texas). Cornyn wanted to know what happens to people’s data when they delete their accounts. Zuckerberg responded that Facebook deletes their data. But Cornyn continued, “How about third parties that you have contracted with to use some of that underlying information, perhaps to target advertising for themselves?” To Zuckerberg, this must have been exasperating. As he has said over and over, Facebook doesn’t sell data to advertisers. Doing so could allow outsiders to build competitive ad-targeting products that would undermine Facebook’s business. And so Zuckerberg patiently explained, yet again, how Facebook works. “We do not sell data to advertisers. We don’t […]

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Comments Off on The Billion-Dollar Hacking Group Behind a String of Big Breaches

The Billion-Dollar Hacking Group Behind a String of Big Breaches   This week, Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th, and Lord & Taylor department stores—all owned by The Hudson’s Bay Company—acknowledged a data breach impacting more than five million credit and debit card numbers. The culprits? The same group that’s spent the last few years pulling off data heists from Omni Hotels & Resorts, Trump Hotels, Jason’s Deli, Whole Foods, Chipotle: A mysterious group known as Fin7. Data breaches dog consumers every day, whether they’re ordering food from Panera, or tracking their nutrition with an Under Armour app. But if you’ve particularly had your credit card number stolen from a restaurant, hotel, or retail store in the past few years, you may have experienced Fin7 up close. While lots of criminal hacking gangs are simply out to make money, researchers regard Fin7 as a particularly professional and disciplined organization. The […]

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Comments Off on The Politics of ‘Black Panther’ Are What Make It Great

The Politics of ‘Black Panther’ Are What Make It Great Marvel Pop culture critic Evan Narcisse was recently recruited to write the Rise of the Black Panther comic for Marvel. Narcisse wrote his story without any inside knowledge of the Black Panther movie, the details of which were kept tightly under wraps. When he finally saw the film, he was blown away.“I was surprised at how political the story was,” Narcisse says in Episode 302 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “How it embedded its meta-narrative of exploring one’s own blackness and black identity. That was basically the text of the movie.”Jesse J. Holland, author of the novel Who Is the Black Panther?, was also pleasantly surprised that the movie got so political. He notes that geopolitics is one thing that really sets Black Panther apart from other superheroes. “T’Challa isn’t worrying about the rent, he’s worrying about […]

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Comments Off on Tech Companies Try to Retrain the Workers They’re Displacing

Tech Companies Try to Retrain the Workers They’re Displacing   On January 16, a new course launched on the online learning platform Coursera with an unassuming name: The Google IT Support Professional Certificate. It promised to prepare beginners for entry-level jobs in IT in eight to 12 months. That day, it attracted the largest-ever group of first-time Coursera users, almost half of them people without college degrees. By February, it was Coursera’s second-most-popular offering. More than 18,000 people have enrolled in the $49-a-month program so far, 160 of whom have completed it. “Even as we were building it, even as it was about to launch, I never anticipated the success of it,” says Natalie Van Kleef Conley, Google’s product lead for the program. Two months later, the six courses required for the certificate continue to get about 1,000 registrants per day. A big reason for its popularity, beyond the certificate […]

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Comments Off on How Atlanta, the Most Innovative Show on TV, Reinvented Itself Again

How Atlanta, the Most Innovative Show on TV, Reinvented Itself Again For Atlanta‘s second season, Donald Glover is shrinking the expanse of his show and turning the camera on the audience. Atlanta is the smartest show on television. I’m unoriginal in that sentiment—for the entirety of its first season, which emerged in 2016 with the marvel and depth of an art-house indie film, it was regarded as such—but that doesn’t make it any less genuine, or true. Depending on how you color it, that view does present its creator-star Donald Glover with a high-stakes dilemma for the second season: How do you reinvent the most inventive show currently on TV? In the lead-up to last year’s Emmy Awards—where Glover won for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series—I wrote about Atlanta‘s expanding narrative parameters. For the whole of its first 10 episodes, Glover introduced viewers to a […]