Day: June 10, 2016

$13 lapel clip-on microphone plugs into smartphones

mic

This lapel clip-on microphone is regularly $20, but for a limited time you can buy it on Amazon for $13 if you use the code 5PLJVX5D. I just bought one. I’ll let you know how it works.

The reason I got it is that I sometimes make videos using my phone (using this great smartphone tripod mount) and the phone’s built-in mic doesn’t do a great job when I’m more than a few feet from the phone. I have a bunch of old iPhones, and I will use one of them with this mic plugged in it to record the audio.

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ULA to launch Air Force’s AEHF-5 satellite in 2018

AEHF satellite

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department awarded United Launch Alliance a $138 million contract modification May 31 largely to launch the fifth in a series of protected communications satellites on an Atlas 5 rocket in 2018.

ULA received the contract modification to launch the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite as part of its $11 billion block buy contract with the Air Force. That deal, signed in 2013, calls for the production of 36 new Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rocket cores and launch services for vehicles purchased as long ago as 1998.

The Air Force confirmed which satellite ULA would launch in a June 10 email to SpaceNews.

The satellite, known as AEHF-5, will launch on an Atlas 5 rocket flanked with four rocket boosters and topped with a 5-meter fairing, the Defense Department’s May 31 announcement said.

The contract modification also includes what was described as four “mission-specific” commodities. Officials at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center declined to discuss the various additions to the contract but said they were for the following missions: AEHF-4, scheduled to launch in 2017; the missile warning satellite known as Space Based Infrared System GEO-3, scheduled to launch in 2018; and two wideband communications satellites, known as WGS 8 and WGS 9, scheduled to launch this year and next year, respectively.

The Air Force declined to cite a cost breakdown for the commodities or the rocket saying it was ULA’s proprietary information.

The first AEHF satellite launched in 2010, followed by the second satellite in 2012 and a third in 2013.

SpaceNews.com

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The Joy of Instagram

Source: www.theatlantic.com – Friday, June 10, 2016
Is there any genre of image that better captures the current technological moment than the sea of screens, at a concert or a rally or a show, thrust upward to document a shared experience? The layering of the lights—reflecting an event in the moment, and capturing it for later—neatly conveys the frenetic beauty of life as it’s lived at the dawn of the Internet age. And the anxieties, too, because, you know: Does documenting something cheapen it? Does that sea of screens take something meaningful away from the stage they are aimed at? Does our impulse to snap and Insta and tweet and otherwise capture the events of our lives denude those events, and by extension those lives? Related Story In Defense of Instagramming Your Food According to a new paper : Nope. Kristin Diehl, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, and a team of colleagues wanted to put those ideas to the test. So they conducted a series of lab experiments and field tests designed to measure people’s enjoyment of events when they documented them, as opposed to when they didn’t. And their results, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and reported by Time , suggest that longstanding anxieties about the ‘grammification of experience may be misplaced: Capturing experiences through photos, the team found, far from compromising people’s enjoyment of those experiences, actually seemed

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New China law bans women - but not men - from interracial marriage

Chinese wedding

Because of the one-child-only law in China, combined with the practice of abandoning baby girls to make room for a boy, the country now has a gross gender imbalance of three boys for every girl under the age of 18. So to make sure at least one-third of the men still have a chance of marrying a Chinese woman, the Supreme People’s Court of China just passed a law that will forbid Chinese women from marrying a non-Chinese man. But Chinese men will still be able to marry anyone they choose, regardless of race.

Business owners seem to be more concerned with how this new law will affect their businesses than the fairness of it. One owner of a matchmaking business says that allowing men more freedom with marriage is “common sense.”

“I had feared that they might also ban men from interracial marriage,” commented the owner of a successful matchmaking business in China’s Fujian Province. “Thankfully common sense has prevailed, although by banning Chinese women from marrying foreigners, my business will have more competition.”

Those in charge of English-speaking schools, on the other hand, are worried the law will prevent them from getting good teachers.

“The majority of teachers are male, and most end up wedding local women,” said a spokesperson for a chain of English-teaching cram schools in Shanghai. “If our teachers are banned from marrying Chinese girls, they may not stay in the country as long, and we risk losing talented staff.”

The law will go into effect by early 2018. Read the full story on East Asia Tribune.

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Meet the strange attractors behind Dangerous Minds

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Our dear friends Richard Metzger and Tara McGinley of the essential Dangerous Minds blog are profiled in the new issue of Cincinnati Magazine. Richard and Tara recently moved to Cincinnati, where Tara and I both grew up! From Cincinnati Magazine:

When Dangerous Minds does dig for a bone, moreover, it digs deeper than the others. For instance, one day Metzger was spelunking through the ‘net for La Dolce Gilda, a black-and-white short film he remembered seeing on Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s. “I couldn’t believe no one had put it on YouTube,” he says. “I discovered that the director had also done a feature film that was never released to home video. It starred Bill Murray. So I found it on an underground torrent tracker. Dubbed in German.”

Mere days after that 2014 Dangerous Minds scoop, complete with a link to the full lost Bill Murray movie Nothing Lasts Forever, articles on the film popped up in the Chicago Tribune, Yahoo!, and Slate. It was front-page news for Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper. For Dangerous Minds, it was just one of 13 articles posted that day, among them “Make Your Own Marcel Duchamp Chess Set with a 3-D Printer”; “Scenes from Marc Bolan’s Funeral”; and “Freaky Armadillo Purse.”

“Richard is an anthropologist of high weirdness,” says David Pescovitz, a partner and editor at the popular blog Boing Boing, which is like an older, cyber-oriented brother to Dangerous Minds. “He doesn’t judge. He doesn’t exploit. His fascination and obsession is infectious.”

No snark here: “The editorial philosophy is about being enthusiastic,” says Metzger. Despite the blurring of the lines between underground and mainstream culture today—a TV series like Transparent would have been unthinkable 10 years ago—there’s still nothing like Dangerous Minds online. The closest thing you can compare it to is Open Culture, a resource for free online instruction that runs a killer blog.

The editorial filter is simply whatever Metzger and McGinley find interesting, and that idiosyncrasy is what the blog’s fans value. “Who has time to post such cool finds every two hours?” asks drummer-turned-artisanal-jam-maker Laura Ann Masura. For her, the site is a person, not a media property. “They are like the cool high school friend who’s unemployed and has just discovered Facebook.” The majority of the blog’s readers are young people discovering throwback oddities for the first time; the rest tend to be music nerds and Baby Boomers enjoying the nostalgia trip.

Those fans make for 10 million page-views each month. That, in turn, has attracted enough advertising to pay Metzger and McGinley full-time salaries since 2012. The company has no debt, no investors, and steady revenue. More than 4 million Facebook “likes” work to proselytize Dangerous Minds articles. That’s more than twice the Facebook followers of the Reds or the Bengals, and 42 times that of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Weird, Inc.” by Laurie Pike (Cincinnati Magazine)

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Photo retrospective and history of the Santa Monica Hippodrome

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LAist offers a fantastic look back at 100 years of the Santa Monica Hippodrome.

Such a beautiful, storied building. I loved reading the stories and memories of this iconic, waterfront landmark.

Via LAist:

In the 60s, the building had a very famous visitor, though many who encountered her were probably oblivious.
“Towards the end of her life, Marilyn Monroe was living in Brentwood and hung out at the Santa Monica Beach a lot,” Harris says, noting that many of the iconic photos George Barris took of the actress were shot here.

Harris continues:

She would come to the Hippodrome to find solace. She’d sit on a bench and watch the horses go round and round. Being sensitive to who she was, she would come in disguise wearing a scarf and overcoat and sunglasses. One day, the gentleman who was operating the carousel walked up to her and said something along the lines of, ‘Why do you come here every day? You’re young and you should get a job.’ She then revealed [her identity] and said, ‘I do have a job, I’m Marilyn Monroe.’

On the second floor of the building, you’ll currently find office spaces, including the office where Harris works. However, in the 60s and 70s, the second floor contained apartments. Author William Saroyan and musician Jimmy Henderson used one of the units to work, while actor Paul Sand and his then-girlfriend Joan Roan lived in another. Perhaps the most interesting person to live there was an outspoken activist named Colleen Creedon.

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“[Creedon] was a prominent women’s activist,” Harris says. “She would protest the Vietnam War, she held fundraisers for Cesar Chavez and Daniel Ellsberg.”

She was also close friends with musician Joan Baez, who often crashed at Creedon’s place. In 1974, two young men lit the trash cans outside of Creedon’s apartment ablaze. The flames licked up the side of the building to Creedon’s unit. Creedon managed to escape the fire, but long believed that the arson was more calculated than two wayward youths causing trouble. She told Harris herself that she believed she was targeted because of her beliefs.

“Until the day she died, she insisted that the fire was set deliberately to shut her up,” Harris said. “And, she might not be far off with that reasoning.”

Creedon, who passed away a few years ago, long claimed that two other women activists in the area were also victims of arson. Whatever the cause, the fire permanently disrupted residential life above the carousel. The building was condemned and everyone was evicted. The upper floor would remain vacant until 1983, at which point it became office space.

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DEA wants to look at millions of people's private medical records without a warrant

Image: shay sowden/Flickr

The DEA is suing states for warrantless access to millions of individuals’ medical records, so they can inflict more misery on people in chronic pain or other legitimate needs for controlled substances.

Daily Beast:

In his 2014 ruling against the DEA, District Court Judge Ancer L. Haggerty called warrantless searches of such data an egregious invasion of privacy.

“It is difficult to conceive of information that is… more deserving of Fourth Amendment protection,” Haggerty said. “By obtaining the prescription records for individuals like John Does 2 and 4, a person would know that they have used testosterone in particular quantities and by extension, that they have gender identity disorder and are treating it through hormone therapy.

“Although there is not an absolute right to privacy in prescription information… it is more than reasonable for patients to believe that law enforcement agencies will not have unfettered access to their records,” he added.

The Obama administration disagrees, and argues that since the records have already been submitted to a third party (Oregon’s PDMP) that patients no longer enjoy an expectation of privacy.

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World's "ugliest color" will be used on cigarette packs

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According to an Australian survey, the shit brown color seen above (Pantone 448C, or “Opaque Couché”) is the ugliest hue around, reminding respondents of dirt and death. To deter smoking, Australian officials required Opaque Couché to be the main color and cigarette packages and now the UK is following suit. Apparently, Australian officials first referred to the color as “olive green” but the Australian Olive Association was none-too-pleased. Now, Pantone is grumpy about the choice of Opaque Couché.

“At the Pantone Color Institute, we consider all colours equally,” Pantone’s exec director Leatrice Eiseman told The Guardian. “(There’s no such thing as the ugliest color.”

The new UK regulations also ban the use of logos, requiring a plain font on the packs.

More at Smithsonian: “The World’s “Ugliest” Color Could Help People Quit Smoking

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Highlights from the Senate’s floor debate on the RD-180

Sen. John McCain

WASHINGTON – Senators took to their chamber’s floor June 9 to debate when United Launch Alliance should stop using Russian RD-180 rocket engines to launch national security satellites.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) made the case for allowing United Launch Alliance to continue to purchase RD-180 engines from Russia for its Atlas 5 rocket through 2022, arguing that an earlier cutoff would jeopardize national security. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) defended ending use of the RD-180 engine, criticizing ULA on the Senate floor and calling the issue “one of the most unsavory issues that I’ve been involved with” while in the Senate.

Here are highlights from the debate:

“The fact is if we want to end our reliance on Russian engines without jeopardizing the reliability and affordability that are essential to a successful launch program, it’s going to take another few years. I’m not satisfied with that. I want to see it happen faster. In the meantime though, we have to take seriously the warnings of our military and intelligence community that eliminating access to the RD-180 engine pre-maturely, before a replacement is ready to fly, would seriously undermine our national security interests.”Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. [Four minutes.]


“This is a classic example of the influence of special interests over the nation’s priorities but more importantly, [ULA, Boeing and Lockheed Martin] are so greedy that they were willing to put millions of dollars into the pockets of these individuals, two of whom have been sanctioned by the United States of America and one of them who has been sanctioned by the EU.”McCain (R-Ariz.), SASC chairman. [24 minutes]


“Yes, let’s make sure we transition. Yes, let’s make sure that we change the status quo, but let’s do it in a way that’s smart, good policy and protects the interests of the American people.”Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). [Nine minutes.]


Gardner goes on to make the case that the United States spends more money importing “fish crustaceans and aquatic vertebrates” than it does on Russian rocket engines. [Six minutes]


“In one case, United Launch Alliance. In another case, SpaceX. For the good of the country, we’ve got to have both until we can develop and test and fly successfully the replacement engine.”Nelson. [12 minutes]


“I repeat, this is what an executive of ULA said: ‘The government was not happy with us for not bidding that contract because they had felt that they had bent over backwards to lean the field in our advantage.’”McCain. [Four minutes]

Read more on the ULA executive’s gaffe in SpaceNews Magazine: Tobey’s Teachable Moment.

SpaceNews.com

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Creeping Death from Neptune – An illustrated bio of one the most peculiar Golden Age comic book artists

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Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life And Comics Of Basil Wolverton Vol. 1

by Basil Wolverton (author) and Greg Sadowski (editor)

Fantagraphics

2012, 304 pages, 8.4 x 1.2 x 10.8 inches

$29 Buy one on Amazon

Cartoonist Basil Wolverton (1909-1978) is best known for his drawings of monstrously ugly people that ran in early issues of MAD, back when it was a comic book. But before that, Wolverton wrote and illustrated bizarre and compelling science fiction comic book stories that pitted square-jawed, steely eyed spacemen with hideous aliens and evil geniuses.

Creeping Death from Neptune contains a wealth of early Wolverton comics, including work he did as a teenager, sketches, unpublished art, and rejection letters he received from publishers and animation studios. Edited by Greg Sadowski, this book is a labor of love and a treasure for anyone interested in the history of comic books.

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Gawker files for bankruptcy, will sell itself after $140 million Hulk Hogan lawsuit judgement

Gawker founder Nick Denton talks with his legal team before Hulk Hogan testifies in court, St Petersburg, Florida March 8, 2016.

Gawker Media was crushed by the $140 million legal judgment in Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit, which we now know was financed by a bitter, resentful Peter Thiel. Nick Denton’s gossip news site Gawker.com published a sex tape featuring former wrestler Hulk Hogan. Now, the publishing company is now putting itself up for sale, reports the New York Times, citing an anonymous source. Gawker Media Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday “after a judge overseeing the suit against the company entered the full judgment and denied Gawker’s request for a stay under terms the company could meet.”

(more…)

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Gawker files for bankruptcy protection, entertains buyers

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Peter Kafka reports that Gawker’s filed for bankruptcy protection to avoid paying Hulk Hogan the $140m judgment he won against it. Though legal experts believe the judgment will be much-reduced or overturned at appeal, the filing readies Gawker for the block. Ziff Davis, the tech publisher, is reportedly offering $90-$100m.

Gawker and its banker Mark Patricof assume that the company will eventually see higher bids while it is in bankruptcy protection. Last year, in advance of the Hogan trial, Denton figured his company was worth something in the $250 million to $300 million range.

But in any case the company won’t trade hands until Gawker either beats back Thiel and Hogan or it finishes a court-approved restructuring. Because no one wants to buy an ongoing lawsuit from Peter Thiel.

Ziff Davis itself is a company that has gone through the Chapter 11 process. The company was once a dominant force in the trade and hobbyist magazine business, but its fortunes declined along with the print industry, and it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008.

It emerged in recent weeks that billionaire Peter Thiel funded Hogan’s lawsuit, exacting long-awaited revenge for Gawker having outed him as gay in 2007.

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GOP Senator David Perdue leads prayer for Obama's death

perdue

Senator David Perdue from Georgia led attendees of the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in a good-natured prayer for Obama’s early death. He said, “We should pray for him like Psalms 109:8 says: May his days be short and let another have his office.” The crowd, no doubt aware of the passage, chuckled at the thought.

Here’s more from the passage (New Living Translation):

Let his years be few;
let someone else take his position.

May his children become fatherless,
and his wife a widow.

May his children wander as beggars
and be driven from their ruined homes.

May creditors seize his entire estate,
and strangers take all he has earned.

Let no one be kind to him;
let no one pity his fatherless children.

May all his offspring die.
May his family name be blotted out in a single generation.

May the LORD never forget the sins of his fathers;
may his mother’s sins never be erased from the record.

May the LORD always remember these sins,
and may his name disappear from human memory.

Naturally, many people outside the conference took issue with Senator Perdue’s remarks, and it was reported in the media. Perdue spokeswoman Caroline Vanvick issued a statement blaming it all on the awful, awful press:

“Senator Perdue said we are called to pray for our country, for our leaders, and for our president. He in no way wishes harm towards our president and everyone in the room understood that. However, we should add the media to our prayer list because they are pushing a narrative to create controversy and that is exactly what the American people are tired of.”

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Ditch the toolbox with the 10 Bit Cycop Bitool - only $39.99

Toting around a giant toolbox is how your grandparents fixed stuff. Bring your repair jobs into the modern day with the 10-bit Cycop Bitool, now a discounted $39.99 in the Boing Boing Store.

This handy tool replaces the mountain of tools that’s been driving you nuts, and can handle virtually any repair job you throw at it. It’s a screwdriver and ratchet wrench all in one package, allowing you to fix stuff quickly and easily at a moment’s notice.

The Cycop Bitool’s 10 ultra-hard S2 steel bits fit nicely inside its slim aluminum casing, which you can carry around for everyday use. Just drop a bit securely on to the Bitool’s magnetic ratchet head and you’re ready to reach screws and bolts that a regular screwdriver or wrench couldn’t touch.

Once you start appreciating the simplicity of the Bitool’s flexibility and Swiss Army knife-style versatility, it’ll become a mainstay of your repair jobs.

The Cycop Bitool usually costs $45, but it’s available right now for just $39.99 while this offer lasts.

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"Gang stalking" victims who believe they are targets of mind control

baltimorebbd-1

Last year, the Richmond, California city council passed a ban on space-based weapons that are secretly causing physical and psychological damage against people via “remote transmission.” This legislation was driven by a community of people who have banded together to fight the “operatives” they believe are targeting them and ruining their lives with mind-control weapons. Today’s New York Times reports on the phenomenon, called “gang stalking” and the people who claim to be “targeted individuals (T.I.s).”

Dr. Lorraine Sheridan, who is co-author of perhaps the only study of gang-stalking, said the community poses a danger that sets it apart from other groups promoting troubling ideas, such as anorexia or suicide. On those topics, the internet abounds with medical information and treatment options.

An internet search for “gang-stalking,” however, turns up page after page of results that regard it as fact. “What’s scary for me is that there are no counter sites that try and convince targeted individuals that they are delusional,” Dr. Sheridan said.

“They end up in a closed ideology echo chamber,” she said.

In instructional tracts online, veteran T.I.s explain the ropes to rookies:

• Do not engage with the voices in your head.

• If your relatives tell you you’re imagining things, they could be in on it.

• “Do not visit a psychiatrist….”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the (T.I.) community is divided over the contours of the conspiracy. Some believe the financial elite is behind it. Others blame aliens, their neighbors, Freemasons or some combination.

The movement’s most prominent voices, however, tend to believe the surveillance is part of a mind-control field test done in preparation for global domination. The military establishment, the theory goes, never gave up on the ambitions of MK Ultra, the C.I.A.’s infamous program to control the mind in the 1950s and ’60s.

United States of Paranoia: They See Gangs of Stalkers(NYT)

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Google not altering search results to benefit Hillary Clinton

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Someone stumbled upon a preference of Google’s not to offer “crimes” as a suggested search term following a person’s name. Unsurprisingly, the same sort of folks who think Obama has a secret birth certificate are sharing a conspiracy video.

Vox explains why this is silly:

Choose any famous American who has been accused of a serious crime and Google their name followed by the letters “cri,” and in no case does Google suggest the word “crimes.” That’s true even of people like Kaczynski and Madoff, who are famous only because they faced prosecution for serious crimes.

Apparently, Google has a policy of not suggesting that customers do searches on people’s crimes. I have no inside knowledge of why it runs its search engine this way. Maybe Google is just uncomfortable with having an algorithm suggesting that people search for other people’s crimes.

In any event, there’s no evidence that this is specific to Hillary Clinton, and therefore no reason to think this is a conspiracy by Google to help Clinton win the election.

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Driver ticketed for giving money to cop disguised as panhandler

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Dane Rusk was driving his car in Regina, Saskatchewan when he saw a panhandler at the intersection holding a cardboard sign. Rusk took off his seatbelt to give $3 to the panhandler. Moments later he was pulled over and issued a $175 traffic ticket for unbuckling his seatbelt. The officer who pulled him over explained that the panhandler was an undercover cop who reported Rusk to the patrol car officer.

Rusk said he was “pretty shocked” by the incident. “The ticket’s $175 and the three dollars I gave to him – I’m out $178 all because I was trying to help out a homeless guy.”

But Regina police say this is nothing new. It’s part of a project that has police watching for traffic violations at intersections.

“Intersections are probably one of the most critical areas when it comes to accidents obviously, and our high-volume intersections are ones that we tend to target,” said Insp. Evan Bray. “So we will run random intersection projects throughout the city.”

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Oops! Biker honks at driver on cell phone, turns out to be bully cop

RoadRage

Think twice before you honk! Here’s a video of a motorcyclist who honks at an unmarked SUV that turns out to be a cop car. The cop is stopped at a yield sign, talking on his cell phone. The biker stuck behind him gives a quick honk, but when the SUV doesn’t budge, he honks a bit longer. Nothing too rude, but the cop in the car doesn’t take kindly to it.

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John Williams to score Ready Player One (and next Star Wars, hopefully)

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Celebrated film composer John Williams, 84, who scored Star Wars, the Indiana Jones films, E.T., and so many more, says that he will be writing the music for Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” based on the marvelous 2011 novel by Ernest Klein. After that, it’ll be time to return to a galaxy far, far away to score the next Star Wars film.

“If I can do it, I certainly will. I told (producer) Kathy Kennedy I’m happy to do it, but the real reason is, I didn’t want anybody else writing music for Daisy Ridley,” he told Variety.

Last night, Williams received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, the first given to a film composer in the award’s 44 years.

Here’s classic video of John Williams conducting the Boston Pops performing the Star Wars Main Theme:

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Cheap, rechargeable AA batteries for high drain applications

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My strobes for underwater photography eat batteries up. These cheap, high capacity, rechargeable AA batteries have been great!

I’ll generally get 30+ exposures out of a set of disposable batteries, before they start to show visible drop off on the same flash settings as when fresh. With a set of these rechargeable batteries I get nearly twice as many shots, and I’m not throwing them out.

The biggest advantage is I’m changing batteries less frequently on a device that may leak underwater if I’m not careful. What’d usually happen is I take the camera on the first dive, and didn’t bother changing batteries. This really screws up my UW photography as I’m typically only figuring out what I want to shoot/do based off the conditions of the first dive. I decided to try some better batteries and they make a huge difference.

I’ll assume they work just as well above water.

EBL 16 Pack AA 2800mAh Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries via Amazon

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They Might be Giants meets Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Wyomingnot’s wonderful fan video for They Might Be Giants’ “Fingertips” suite of 21 songs in less than five minutes, from the duo’s 1992 album Apollo 18.

Here’s what TMBG’s John Linnell once said about “Fingertips”:

The project was to write a bunch of choruses and nothing else. In other words, I had to restrain myself from writing any other parts of the songs. I wanted a collection of choruses that’s something like what you see on TV late at night, like that old K-Tel commercials. I was thinking about how you know a lot of songs from these ads, but the only part you know is maybe one line, which is half the chorus. And yet they stick in your head in the way a whole song would. in a way, these tiny chips of songs seem complete, because you don’t know the rest of the song.

The Force is strong with John and John.

(Thanks UPSO!)

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What the Pentagon learned from Muhammad Ali

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Matt Taibbi takes to Rolling Stone to tell us about the lessons that the US military learned from the powerful bruising it received from Muhummad Ali’s refusal to fight in Vietnam: namely, that America should fight its wars with all-volunteer armies whose ranks were disproportionately drawn from the poor and desperate, which dissipated the political pressure that arose from drafting the rich, the powerful and the famous to fight.
(more…)

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Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss killed in Blue Angel training flight

Blue Angels flight demonstration team

SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) – A pilot was killed after a U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet crashed Thursday afternoon in Smyrna ahead of the Great Tennessee Airshow this weekend.

The F/A-18 Hornet crashed at 3 p.m. behind the Sam Davis Home, about 2 miles from the runway, while practicing for the now-cancelled demonstration. Authorities arrived within minutes.

The pilot who lost his life was Marine Captain Jeff Kuss, confirmed by the Blue Angels one day after the crash during a media briefing.

PHOTOS: U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet crash

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss (Courtesy: WKRG)
Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss (Courtesy: WKRG)

According to the Blue Angels, Capt. Kuss is a native of Durango, Colorado. He joined the Blue Angels in September 2014 and has accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours and 175 carrier-arrested landings.

His decorations include the Strike Flight Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various personal and unit awards.

The other five Blue Angel jets were not involved in the incident and landed safely moments later.

The investigation into the crash will be led by the U.S. military.

RAW VIDEO: Onlookers capture moments of Blue Angels crash

A vigil was held Thursday night at Lee Victory Recreation Park, which is across from the airport on Sam Ridley Parkway. Those who attended were asked to bring American flags and candles.

News 2 learned the flight team will no longer participate in the Great Tennessee Airshow being held at the Smyra airport this weekend in the wake of the pilot’s death.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Friday’s previously scheduled lecture by the Blue Angels on the MTSU campus has also been cancelled. However, representatives from the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team are still scheduled to appear.

The rest of the airshow will go on as scheduled, although officials with the Smyrna airport say they deeply saddened by the devastating accident.

“Show management has discussed the relative advantages and disadvantages of continuing the show. After close consultation with the Blue Angels, regulatory officials and the performers, we have made the decision to carry on with this weekend’s show,” said John Black, Executive Director of the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport.

Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations said Thursday, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Blue Angels after this tragic loss. I know that the Navy and Marine Corps Team is with me. We will investigate this accident fully and do all we can to prevent similar incidents in the future.”

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said she was shocked and saddened to learn of the pilot’s death just hours after they flew over downtown Nashville.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

“The Blue Angels have served to inspire and instill national pride in men, women, and children throughout our country. I have ordered the Metro Courthouse and Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge to be lit yellow and blue tomorrow night in honor of the life and service of this brave pilot,” Mayor Barry continued.

Senator Bob Corker also released a statement, saying,”My prayers are with the Blue Angels and the family of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. We are forever grateful for his service at home and abroad.”

The ICAS Foundation has established a Captain Jeff Kuss Family Fund for those wishing to help support his family. People can donate at www.icasfoundation.org.

Family members in Colorado also set up a GoFundMe for Kuss’ wife and two children. Click here to donate.

RELATED: Blue Angels pilot killed in crash flew with Calif. reporter in October

Around 1,300 people were without power after the jet reportedly clipped some power lines during the crash, which also caused small “burn areas,” according to Smyrna Fire Chief Bill Culbertson. Power was restored after about an hour.

News 2 learned Hunter Hayes was set to fly with the Blue Angels on Thursday. His publicist said the crash happened right in front of them, but he was not injured.

Our own Samantha Fisher flew with the flight team on Wednesday ahead of their performance at the Great Tennessee Airshow on June 4 and 5.

Another military jet crashed in Colorado on Thursday after flying over the Air Force Academy’s graduation. In that case, the pilot was able to eject from the plane ahead of the accident.

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During its history, 27 Blue Angels pilots have been killed in air show or training accidents.[41] Through the 2006 season there have been 262 pilots in the squadron’s history,[42] giving the job a 10% fatality rate.

  • 29 September 1946 – Lt. Ross “Robby” Robinson was killed during a performance when a wingtip broke off his Bearcat, sending him into an unrecoverable spin.
  • 1952 – Two Panthers collided during a demonstration in Corpus Christi, Texas and one pilot was killed. The team resumed performances two weeks later.
  • 2 August 1958 – Lt. John R. Dewenter landed, wheels up at Buffalo Niagara International Airport after experiencing engine troubles during a show in Clarence, NY. The Grumman F-11 Tiger landed on Runway 23 but exited airport property coming to rest in the intersection of Genesee Street and Dick Road, nearly hitting a gas station. Lt. Dewenter was uninjured, but the plane was a total loss.
  • 14 October 1958 – Cmdr. Robert Nicholls Glasgow died during an orientation flight just days after reporting for duty as the new Blue Angels leader.[43]
  • 15 March 1964 – Lt. George L. Neale, 29, was killed during an attempted emergency landing at Apalach Airport nearApalachicola, Florida. Lt. Neale’s F-11A Tiger had experienced mechanical difficulties during a flight from West Palm Beach, Florida to NAS Pensacola, causing him to attempt the emergency landing. Failing to reach the airport, he ejected from the aircraft on final approach, but his parachute did not have sufficient time to fully deploy.[44]
  • 2 September 1966 – Lt. Cmdr. Dick Oliver crashed his Tiger and was killed at the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto.
  • 1 February 1967 – Lt Frank Gallagher was killed when his Tiger stalled during a practice Half Cuban 8 maneuver and spun into the ground.
  • 18 February 1967 – Capt. Ronald Thompson was killed when his Tiger struck the ground during a practice formation loop.
  • 14 January 1968 – Opposing solo Lt. Bill Worley was killed when his Tiger crashed during a practice double immelman.
  • 30 August 1970 – Lt. Ernie Christensen belly-landed his F-4J Phantom at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids with one engine stuck in afterburner. He ejected safely, while the aircraft ran off the runway.
  • 4 June 1971 – CDR Harley Hall safely ejected after his Phantom caught fire and crashed during practice over Narragansett Bay near the ex-NAS Quonset Point in Rhode Island.
  • 14 February 1972 – Lt. Larry Watters was killed when his F-4J Phantom II struck the ground, upright, while practicing inverted flight, during winter training at NAF El Centro.
  • 8 March 1973 – Capt. John Fogg, Lt. Marlin Wiita and LCDR Don Bentley survived a multi-aircraft mid-air collision during practice over the Superstition Mountains in California.
  • 26 July 1973 – 2 pilots and a crew chief were killed in a mid-air collision between 2 Phantoms over Lakehurst, NJ during an arrival practice. Team Leader LCDR Skip Umstead, Capt. Mike Murphy and ADJ1 Ron Thomas perished. The rest of the season was cancelled after this incident.
  • 22 February 1977 – Opposing solo Lt. Nile Kraft was killed when his Skyhawk struck the ground during practice.
  • 8 November 1978 – One of the solo Skyhawks struck the ground after low roll during arrival maneuvers at NAS Miramar. Navy Lieutenant Michael Curtin was killed.
  • April 1980 – Lead Solo Lt. Jim Ross was unhurt when his Skyhawk suffered a fuel line fire during a show at NS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. LT Ross stayed with and landed the plane which left the end of the runway and taxied into the woods after a total hydraulic failure upon landing.
  • 22 February 1982 – Lt. Cmdr Stu Powrie, Lead Solo was killed when his Skyhawk struck the ground during winter training at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California just after a dirty loop.
  • 13 July 1985 – Lead and Opposing Solo Skyhawks collided during a show at Niagara Falls, killing opposing solo Lt. Cmdr. Mike Gershon. Lt. Andy Caputi ejected and parachuted to safety.[45]
  • 12 February 1987 – Lead solo Lt. Dave Anderson ejected from his Hornet after a dual engine flameout during practice near El Centro, CA.
  • 23 January 1990 – Two Blue Angel Hornets suffered a mid-air collision during a practice at El Centro. Marine Corps Maj. Charles Moseley ejected safely. Cmdr. Pat Moneymaker was able to land his airplane, which then required a complete right wing replacement.[46]
  • 28 October 1999 – Lt. Cmdr. Kieron O’Connor, flying in the front seat of a two-seat Hornet, and recently selected demonstration pilot Lt. Kevin Colling (in the back seat) struck the ground during circle and arrival maneuvers in Valdosta, Georgia. Neither pilot survived.[47]
  • 1 December 2004 – Lt. Ted Steelman ejected from his F/A-18 approximately one mile off Perdido Key after his aircraft struck the water, suffering catastrophic engine and structural damage. He suffered minor injuries.[48]
  • 21 April 2007 – Lt. Cmdr. Kevin J. Davis crashed his Hornet near the end of the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort airshow in Beaufort, South Carolina, and was killed.[49]
  • 2 June 2016 – A Blue Angel F/A-18 crashed while taking off for a practice run two days before an airshow at the Smyrna Airport in Smyrna, Tennessee. Opposing solo Capt. Jeff Kuss did not eject and was killed in the crash.[50]

Official corporate song anticipates freedom through an alliance of man and machine

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Thinking machines are people, friend. I learned this when I chanced across electronics giant Ricoh’s official corporate song. It has only 150 plays and is the only item in one of the company’s myriad of localized YouTube channels, but I thought that its vision of a future alliance between man and machine compellingly inspirational. I have transcribed the lyrics below so you can sing along. There are multiple microprocessors within vocal range and all will be pleased. (more…)

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Weather delays launch of spy satellite aboard Delta 4 Heavy

A ULA Delta 4 Heavy launch of a satellite for the NRO was delayed after poor weather conditions Thursday. Credit: NASA

Weather delayed Thursday’s planned launch of a spy satellite on a Delta 4 Heavy.

Poor weather conditions, including clouds and rain, failed to improve during a four-hour launch window, forcing the launch scrub.

The next launch attempt is planned for Saturday at 1:51 p.m. Eastern.

The launch, on a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office designated NROL-37, carries what observers believe to be a signals intelligence satellite. [Orlando Sentinel]


More News

A Proton rocket successfully placed an Intelsat satellite into orbit Thursday despite an issue with the rocket. The Proton’s Breeze-M upper stage released the Intelsat 31 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit late Thursday, more than 15 hours after liftoff from Baikonur. However, during the launch one lower stage engine shut down prematurely, causing it to underperform, although the Breeze-M was able to compensate during its series of burns. The launch was the first for the latest upgrade to the Proton, incorporating lighter-weight, but stronger, metallic structures and high-precision tooling that gives the vehicle an additional 150 kilograms of payload capacity for geostationary orbit missions. [SpaceNews]

NASA is exploring the possibility of flying payloads on SpaceX’s Red Dragon Mars spacecraft or a follow-up mission. Officials in NASA’s space technology and planetary sciences program say they are open to additional cooperation with SpaceX on that mission beyond the technical support they are providing in exchange for data on the spacecraft’s landing attempt. Because the launch window for Red Dragon’s 2018 mission opens in less than 24 months, it may not be possible to get a payload ready in time for that flight, but additional opportunities may become available in launch windows in 2020 and beyond. [SpaceNews]

Senators debated RD-180 engine restrictions on Thursday. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) made the case for allowing United Launch Alliance to continue to purchase RD-180 engines from Russia for its Atlas 5 rocket through 2022, arguing that an earlier cutoff would jeopardize national security. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) defended ending use of the RD-180 engine, criticizing ULA on the Senate floor and calling the issue “one of the most unsavory issues that I’ve been involved with” while in the Senate. Debate on the overall bill, which may include an amendment by Nelson to extend RD-180 use, continues today. [Florida Today]

The Aerospace Industries Association met with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump Thursday. In a statement, AIA President and CEO David Melcher said the meeting was an opportunity “to brief Mr. Trump on issues of importance to our industry,” including space, but didn’t disclose the meeting’s outcome or any comments by Trump. The statement added AIA is working to arrange a similar briefing with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. [AIA]

SpaceX is a “giant wake-up call” for Europe’s space industry, one official says.“Six to nine months ago many in Europe thought Elon Musk was just hot air, even among the big shots in the space industry,” Jean-Yves Le Gall, head of the French space agency CNES, said. But the company’s repeated success …read more

Q&A | OHB CEO Fuchs says Arianespace needs to reassess shareholder roles

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As both a satellite prime contractor and a major component supplier for Europe’s Ariane and Vega rockets, OHB SE of Germany is in the thick of the discussion on Europe’s future space policy – to be set this year by the European Commission – and the evolution of the Arianespace launch consortium.

What is more, OHB Chief Executive Marco R. Fuchs is president of the Eurospace grouping of space companies.

Arianespace is preparing to enter a new era as a company owned by Airbus Safran Launchers. In addition to the European Commission’s space policy, expected by December, the 22-nation European Space Agency has scheduled a December meeting of its ministers to set a mid-term policy and budget direction.

Fuchs spoke with Space News staff writer Peter B. de Selding.

The EU Commission is scheduled to produce a space policy late this year. Has the EU been consulting Eurospace members?

My 3-year term as Eurospace President ends on July 1, but I can say that up to now, there has been an active consultation with Eurospace, which represents the European space manufacturing industry and is therefore a major stakeholder. We will soon formalize soon contribution, which is very much expected by the Commission.

Is Eurospace proposing any fundamental difference between ESA and the Commission?

No, and I don’t think it should change. ESA has a lot of technical capability and the commission does not want or plan to duplicate that. But the commission, especially with satellite navigation and Earth observation, represents much of the user community.

ESA-Commission relations are getting easier now that things are moving along with Galileo and Copernicus. The debates are not as complex as they were a few years ago. It is programmatically clear how Galileo will be completed. Copernicus, as we saw with the recent launch, appears to be in a good position. And the Commission’s space budget seems stable.

Is Eurospace submitting detailed program advice – for example, on whether EU funds should be used to support the Guiana Space Center spaceport?

We are not going into these kinds of details. They don’t need our advice on that.

Eurospace has been critical of the commission’s Horizon 2020 research program for distributing limited financial resources over too many projects. Is that still a problem?

We now have program clusters in Horizon 2020, which will give some focus. For example, there is a cluster for electric propulsion. It’s always a debate between conflicting interests: The larger companies want larger programs and in orbit demonstrations. The smaller companies want a greater number of programs. We need to find a balance.

Horizon 2020 is evolving. I think they are listening to industry ideas. It’s not so easy for the commission to say: Let’s do in-orbit demonstrations. That would create overlap with ESA. I understand the commission’s point. I also understand industry’s point: We are lobbying the commission in a similar way we lobby ESA. But it’s not the same animal.

The European Space Agency’s 22 governments meet in December to set mid-term policy goals. With the launcher issues already settled, do you expect …read more

UK startup offers landlords continuous, deep surveillance of tenants' social media

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Here’s Source Assured’s pitch: landlords, if you write a requirement for tenants (and prospective tenants) to let us access their social media accounts into your lease/application process, we’ll scrape all that data, use an unaccountable system to analyze it, and produce libelous, life-destroying dossiers on them that you can use to discriminate against people who seek shelter, the most fundamental human need after sustenance.
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