An ethically challenged insurance lawyer finds himself on a bad hallucinogenic trip that makes him question the nature of his reality, in first-time Director Gille Klabin's psychedelic sci-fi thriller, The Wave.
(Some spoilers below.)
Frank (Justin Long, Galaxy Quest, New Girl) is a lawyer for an insurance company who finds an error in a life insurance claim form for a deceased firefighter that will allow his firm to deny the claim outright. The company will save $4 million, which would put Frank on the fast-track for a promotion. And he seems untroubled by any hardship this denial of claim will cause the fireman's widow and children. His co-worker Jeff (Donald Faison, Scrubs, Ray Donovan) talks him into a night on the town to celebrate ("It's Tuesday, Booze Day!"). And that's where things start to go horribly wrong for Frank.
Grace Harvey reveals the mixed emotions she had after walking for the first time in a robotic suit.
The United States is rich enough, industrialized enough, and far enough from the tropics that the rising temperatures of our changing climate aren't going to make any place uninhabitable. But a side effect of those rising temperatures—rising oceans—most certainly will. Already, an ever-growing list of places is facing what's called "nuisance flooding," in which even a high tide can leave streets underwater. Major storms just make matters worse. And, by the end of this century, the expected rise of the oceans may be over five times what we saw last century.
As a result of this, many areas of the country will simply become uninhabitable, lost to the sea. Well over a third of the United States' population lives in counties that are currently on the coast, and over 10 million currently live on land that will be lost to a sea-level rise of 1.8 meters. They'll have to go somewhere—and people who might otherwise move to the coast will have to find some place else to relocate. All of which will change the dynamics of the typical relocation of people within the US.
A new study released in PLOS ONE tries to estimate what that will mean for the rest of the country. Their results suggest that coastal regions will be far from the only ones affected by sea-level rise. A huge number of counties far from the coast—some deep in the US interior—will see dramatic changes in the number of people relocating there.
Last fall, a prolific photographer who asked not to be named noticed a sharp, unexplained drop-off in earnings on his Patreon page, where fans shell out cash for tiered subscriptions to his photos of well-lit nude models. Then, in December, he received an anonymous email with a link to a website called Yiff.Party. When he clicked, he balked. Thousands of his photos were laid out on the open Web for free.
For five years, the libidinous pirates of Yiff.Party have siphoned masses of paywalled Patreon porn off of the platform and shared it for free. Two years ago, Patreon was determined to shut them down. Instead, the platform has effectively given up, despite desperate protests from affected creators.
Yiff.Party doesn’t look like much: a basic, blocky, white and lavender website with a changelog documenting the latest free art dumps and their respective creators. There might be eight new posts an hour, as well as calls for patrons to help fill out incomplete collections. A lot of it is furry porn—“yiff” is a term in the furry community referencing sexual activity—but Yiff.Party hosts anything that falls under the category of “lewds.” That includes smutty cosplays, vanilla softcore, hentai comics, 3-D sci-fi sex stills, plus whatever Patreon-hosted artstuff pirates dump there. (Patreon’s guidelines on adult content prohibit “real people engaging in sexual acts such as masturbation or sexual intercourse on camera.”)
On Friday, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called on Tesla to adopt "common sense recommendations" in its Autopilot driver assist to "guarantee the safety of its technology." Specifically, he's asking the automaker to stop implying that the system is capable of self-driving and also asks Tesla to fit a proper driver-monitoring system. The senator began his investigation into the company's driver-assist package following multiple reports of drivers circumventing the cars' rudimentary safety controls.
From the senator's website:
Autopilot is a flawed system, but I believe its dangers can be overcome... I have been proud to work with Tesla on advancing cleaner, more sustainable transportation technologies. But these achievements should not come at the expense of safety. That's why I'm calling on Tesla to use its resources and expertise to better protect drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and all other users of the road. I urge Tesla to adopt my common sense recommendations for fixing Autopilot, which include rebranding and remarketing the system to reduce misuse, as well as building backup driver monitoring tools that will make sure no one falls asleep at the wheel. Tesla can and must do more to guarantee the safety of its technology.
This is not the first time that the name Autopilot has come under fire. In 2016, the German transport minister told the company "to no longer use the misleading term for the driver-assistance system of the car." In 2018, two US consumer safety groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to address Autopilot's "deceptive and misleading" branding. In 2019, we discovered that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told the company to stop making "misleading statements" when it comes to safety, and the company repeatedly made claims about the safety of Autopilot that were not supported by fact. (The data showed that Autosteer—a component of the Autopilot suite of assists—actually increased crashes by 59 percent.)
When people talk about elections like horse races, policy doesn't matter—all we care about is who's likely to win. In this fetid theory of elections, governments tend to represent a kind of dissatisfying average of voter opinion. Everyone gets a little bit of the stuff they want, and everyone gets a large dose of the stuff they don't want.
Given this model, is it possible for voter opinion to become, essentially, decoupled from election outcomes? Something like this might be the case, according to an overly general model produced by—you guessed it—physicists.
Elections are unfriendly things to model. Put yourself in the position of the party apparatchik. In an ideal world, you would come up with policy that you think would improve the nation and then present that to the electorate. That is a losing strategy. Instead, policies and candidates are selected based on the opinion of the electorate, which doesn't always know what will improve the nation. That creates a tightly coupled dynamic: the candidates offered are based on the opinion of the electorate, and they, in turn, influence the opinion of the electorate.
A glowing purple meteorite makes life, uh, difficult and gross for an isolated farm family after it crashes in their yard in the new film Color Out of Space. Because the family's patriarch is played by human-TNT hybrid Nicolas Cage and the director is Richard Stanley—who hasn't made a narrative feature since 1996's The Island of Doctor Moreau went so ass-over-teakettle that a whole documentary is devoted to its disaster-ness—you might not expect Color to be an exercise in subtlety. It is not a movie encumbered by "good taste" and does not feel like it was ever brought up in a boardroom full of suits who wanted to make sure it would "play for all demographics" in "all markets."
Yet Color's first half, before everything succumbs to glorious madness while Nic Cage does what we pay him to do, is a surprisingly effective look at a family trying to keep things together.
This new film is based on the short story "The Colour Out of Space" by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), whose short stories often feature rural families becoming isolated, inbred, degenerate, or cannibals. Oh, or turning into fish-people. In Stanley's film, the family's isolation is more emotional than physical. Mom (Joely Richardson) is a workaholic recovering from a mastectomy. The daughter (Madeleine Arthur) dabbles in the occult. The teenage son (Brendan Meyer) smokes doobies behind the barn. And the younger son (Julian Hilliard) eventually makes friends with a disembodied voice coming out of the well. See, America, this is what happens when your town doesn't have a nearby Blockbuster.
Activision Blizzard esports leagues are moving from Twitch to YouTube.
When asked what’s so special about Drosophila melanogaster, or the common fruit fly, Gerry Rubin quickly gets on a roll. Rubin has poked and prodded flies for decades, including as a leader of the effort to sequence their genome. So permit him to count their merits. They’re expert navigators, for one, zipping around without crashing into walls. They have great memories too, he adds. Deprived of their senses, they can find their way around a room—much as you, if you were suddenly blindfolded, could probably escape through whichever door you most recently entered.
“Fruit flies are very skillful,” he appraises. And all that skill, although contained in a brain the size of a poppy seed, involves some neural circuitry similar to our own, a product of our distant common ancestor. That’s why, as director of Janelia Research Campus, part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, he’s spent the last 12 years leading a team that’s mapping out the fly brain’s physical wiring, down to the very last neuron.
Content moderators review hundreds of disturbing images each day for social media sites.
In a world first, Marc Cieslak interviews the creator of Watch Dogs: Legion inside his own game.
Around 1100 BC, during the reign of Ramses XI, an Egyptian scribe and priest named Nesyamun spent his life singing and chanting during liturgies at the Karnak temple in Thebes. As was the custom in those times, upon death, Nesyamun was mummified and sealed in a coffin, with the inscription "Nesyamun, True of Voice (maat kheru)." His mummy has become one of the most well-studied artifacts over the last 200 years. We know he suffered from gum disease, for instance, and may have died in his 50s from some kind of allergic reaction. The coffin inscription also expressed a desire that Nesyamun's soul would be able to speak to his gods from the afterlife.
And now, Nesyamun is getting his dearest wish. A team of scientists has reproduced the "sound" of the Egyptian priest's voice by creating a 3D-printed version of his vocal tract and connecting it to a loudspeaker. The researchers revealed all the gory details behind their project in a new paper in Scientific Reports.
"He had a desire that his voice would be everlasting," co-author David Howard of Royal Holloway University of London told IEEE Spectrum. "In a sense, you could argue we've heeded that call, which is a slightly strange thing, but there we are."
According to a report from CNBC, Apple this week introduced "Apple Watch Connected," an initiative that sees the Cupertino company partnering with major gym chains to bring Apple Watch-related technologies and benefits to members of those gyms. Benefits include workout machines that play nice with the Watch, rewards programs based on workout data collected by the Watch, and special deals on products and services.
The first gyms to participate include Orange Theory, Crunch Fitness, YMCA, and Basecamp Fitness, but more may be added later. Apple doesn't require gyms to pay anything directly to the company to participate, though complying with all the requirements might produce additional expenses for said gyms.
Participating gyms must offer an app for either the iPhone or the Watch that allows members to track their fitness progress or activity, they must accept mobile payments via the tech company's Apple Pay system, and they have to offer some kind of rewards to members for achieving specific goals using the Watch. Additionally, gyms that make use of certain types of fitness equipment must use equipment that supports Apple's GymKit API for tracking workouts. Some gyms, like Orange Theory, are not focused on self-directed workout with machines and thus have slightly different requirements to meet with regard to GymKit, though.
The first Romulan you meet in Star Trek: Picard speaks with a soft Gaelic accent and wears a comfortable, practical cardigan. She is the very model of a classic cozy housekeeper, an archetype made instantly recognizable by her bearing and manner, and yet in the same breath she's utterly foreign and unexpected.
This marriage of familiar with unfamiliar—this attempt to take what you know but then tilt it to one side and jiggle it around a bit to throw you off-balance—is as good a metaphor as any for what Picard seems to be doing. This is not the comfortable, well-worn world of Star Trek I was born and raised in and am now sharing with my own child. This is something different, and based on the first episode at least, I badly want to follow this path and see where it leads.
(Mild spoilers for the first episode of Picard, "Remembrance," follow below.)
In my years writing about games for Ars, I've covered my fair share of surprising glitches, long-secret codes, arbitrary code execution tricks, and deeply hidden content buried within some classic games and hardware. But none of that prepared me for the above Twitch video clip I saw this morning, showing a fleet of flying Arwings from Star Fox 64 invading the world of Ocarina of Time to attack Link.
It's the kind of scene you'd expect to see only in a fan-made animation or in a ROM hack of the type Nintendo is so fond of taking down from the Internet. But what made this clip truly impressive was the fact that it was apparently running on an unmodified version of the original Japanese Ocarina of Time ROM, using standard N64 hardware and control accessories.
I spent all morning tracking down how such a thing was even possible. Explaining it involves a deep dive into the nature of Nintendo 64 machine language instructions, Ocarina of Time memory management, and the mid-'90s development of the game itself. If you're as curious about all this as I was, come and take a journey with me.
An outbreak of a never-before-seen coronavirus continued to dramatically escalate in China this week, with case counts reaching into the 800s and 26 deaths reported by Chinese health officials.
To try to curb the spread of disease, China has issued travel restrictions in the central city of Wuhan, where the outbreak erupted late last month, as well as many nearby cities, including Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang, and Chibi. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, and train, bus, and subway services have been suspended. Collectively, the travel restrictions and frozen public transportation have now locked down an estimated 35 million residents in the region.
So far, all of the outbreak-related deaths and nearly all of the cases have been in China, but the viral illness has appeared in travelers in several other countries. That includes Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the US.
With the goop lab hitting Netflix today, January 24th, we've resurfaced this review (originally published January 17th). And as we originally said, this review contains detailed information about the Netflix series with Gwyneth Paltrow. If you plan to watch the show (please, don't) and do not wish to know details in advance, this is not the review for you. Normally, we would refer to such information as "spoilers," but in our editorial opinion, nothing in this series is spoil-able.
In the third episode of Goop's Netflix series, a female guest remarks that we women are seen as "very dangerous when we're knowledgeable." [Ep. 3, 33:35]
"Tell me about it," Gwyneth Paltrow knowingly replies amid "mm-hmms"—as if she has a first-hand understanding of this.
Police say the short-term deployments will check watchlists of suspects wanted for serious crimes.
The dates are set for Google I/O 2020—Google's biggest show of the year will take place on May 12-14. As usual, the show is at the Shoreline Amphitheater, an outdoor venue located right next to Google's Mountain View headquarters. Google announced the date through a cryptic command-line-driven space game at events.google.com/io/mission/. There is also this tweet:
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) January 24, 2020
Last year's Google I/O was one of the more eventful entries in recent memory, as it saw the return of the Google hardware launch. Google started targeting the midrange smartphone market by debuting the cheaper Pixel 3a at the show, and it launched a bigger smart display, the Google Nest Hub Max. Android saw the release of Android (10) Q Beta 3, a revamped gesture navigation system, and disclosure of the "Project Mainline" update system. Alongside the Nest Hub, there was also major upheaval in how Nest operates. Nest stopped being a standalone company and merged with Google in February 2018, but at Google I/O 2019, we started to see the reality of this change: Nest became a sub-brand of Google, and the "Works with Nest" smart home platform got a shutdown date.
For 2020, there's a good chance we'll see the launch of the Pixel 4a, which has already hit the rumor mill. The phone seems to throw out most of the oddities of the Pixel 4 in favor of a thin bezel. It would be a no-nonsense smartphone with a front hole punch display, a headphone jack, and a rear fingerprint reader. If Google sticks to the typical Android schedule, we should see the next beta version, Android 11 R, debut in March, with a second beta in April and a third beta in time for I/O. You might think a third beta would be uneventful, but last year Google withheld a lot of features to show off on the big stage at I/O.
Media giants such as Google have been outspoken opponents of the legislation.