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Posted by Kyle Orland


I've been told that being present for a total eclipse of the Sun is a life-changing experience. But I wasn't able to get my act together to travel to the path of totality for today's event. Luckily, I am part of the first generation to be able to experience an eclipse vicariously through the magic of virtual reality. While seeing a total eclipse in VR wasn't exactly a life-changing experience, it was one of the best examples I've seen of the power and promise of live, 360-degree video.

I first tried to view CNN's 360-degree Facebook Live video coverage of the eclipse on my Oculus Rift. Despite numerous tries, though, the livestream never showed up as a choice on the list of "New" or "Top Pick" videos available on the Oculus Video app. Without a built-in search function or any way to navigate to a specific URL or some such, viewing the eclipse on Rift was a bust.

As a backup, I dug out the latest Samsung Gear VR headset and a Galaxy S7 Edge. While I waited for some necessary updates to download, I was able to watch CNN's "VR" coverage in a simple Web browser window. I used the mouse to tilt the virtual camera between the people on the ground and the Sun in the sky. Having control of the viewpoint was nice, but watching through a small window on a laptop screen didn't really feel all that different from watching similar coverage on TV.

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The very dirty history of on-demand video technology

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 07:35 am
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Posted by Ars Staff

Enlarge (credit: Wikimedia)

In 1973, a young Roger Ebert reviewed the movie Deep Throat. He was not yet a household name or a Pulitzer Prize winner, but he was a respected film critic. The fact that he and his peers regularly reviewed pornographic films suggested that we’d entered a new era in film—an era in which pornography might be viewed as art.

Turns out that wasn’t the case. More than 40 years later, people are still arguing about whether porn can be art. But that doesn’t mean the early '70s weren’t a turning point for porn. The year before Roger Ebert saw Deep Throat, the Hotel Commodore in New York City shocked the nation by announcing that it had installed a system which would let viewers watch X-rated titles in their hotel rooms. It might not be art, but porn had become a testing bed for new kinds of on-demand video technologies.

The United States was not the nation to lead the world into this new era. Japan got there first. Technology-friendly Osaka had hotels built specifically for many different combinations of sex and video. Some hotel rooms came equipped with video cameras, as well as, presumably, both an overworked technical staff and an overworked cleaning staff. Other rooms simply had a television that picked up the signal of a closed-circuit broadcasting device on the roof, creating an early form of streaming video. In 1971, one hotel's device made contact with a steel safety railing. This considerably increased the broadcast range and gave surrounding houses a glimpse of movies that not everyone appreciated.

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Donald Trump now blind as well as stupid

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 08:04 am
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Posted by Gary Stanton

Following yesterday's solar eclipse, Donald Trump has become the first world leader to be blinded while in office.
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Just how prepared is the UK for the new Government policy of phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2040? According to this article in the Daily Telegraph, there is still some way to go.

They say that electric car owners have been warned that if they attempt to boil a kettle while charging their car it will blow the fuse:

The National Grid have expressed concerns that an average size 3.5kW battery charger would take 19 hours to fully charge a car battery, even when it is 25 per cent full.

A “thought piece” document obtained by the Financial Times warned that a more powerful 11kW device would still take six hours to charge a car battery and during that time, the use of everyday items such as kettles and ovens would blow the fuse.

“The average household is supplied with single phase electricity and is fitted with a main fuse of 60-80 amps,” the National Grid said.

“If one were to use an above average power charger, say 11kW, this would require 48 amps. When using such a charger it would mean that you could not use other high demand electrical items...  without tripping the house's main fuse.”

The National Grid went on to say that most electric cars will require a battery capacity of 90 kilowatt hours (kWh) to make journeys of around 300 miles. It suggests that the ability to travel longer distances without stopping to recharge will be a “must have” if motorists are to abandon petrol or diesel cars.

We await the UK Government investment needed to counter these concerns and to fulfil the vision they have set out.

Chatbot apps help users prepare for death

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 07:25 am
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Silicon Valley start-ups seek to disrupt the death industry with artificial intelligence software.
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Posted by Sebastian Anthony

Enlarge / Look, it's really hard to find stock imagery for "evolutionary algorithm." (credit: Adobe Stock)

With 1.3 billion daily users, the Facebook site and its apps are the most-used pieces of software in the world. Only a handful of software companies have ascended to a similar echelon of ubiquity, including Microsoft, Google, and Apple. For better or worse, that is the world we now live in, where a large percentage our waking hours is spent interacting with software—and Facebook leads the pack, with the average user spending 50 minutes per day mostly watching videos and liking photos of babies. Television is the only leisure activity in the world that receives more attention than Facebook. And don't forget that Facebook now owns Instagram and WhatsApp, too.

It is understandable, then, that Facebook cares a lot about the quality of its software. If Facebook pushes out a new version of its Android app with a crashing bug, millions of users could be affected. Those users might be inclined to switch to another social network, or even worse: put down their phone and interact with the real world. The net effect is the same, either way: Facebook's share of your attention, and thus potential revenue, decreases.

That's why Facebook has some advanced bug-finding tools—including a devilishly clever dynamic analysis tool, initially devised by students at University College London and then acquired and further developed by Facebook's London office. This is the first time they've shown the inner workings of this new tool, dubbed Sapienz, to the press.

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Posted by Peter Bright

Enlarge (credit: Anna)

In the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is removing the ability to create volumes using its new ReFS file system from Windows 10 Pro. Existing volumes will continue to work, but Pro will no longer be able to create new ones.

After rumors in June, Microsoft confirmed last week that it was producing yet another variant of Windows 10: Pro for Workstations. The main features of this build are that it lifts certain limits found in regular Pro: up to four processors (compared to two in Pro) and 6TB of RAM (compared to 2TB). It also has support for certain exotic server-grade hardware, including non-volatile main memory and high-speed network adaptors.

Microsoft is promoting one final feature in Pro for Workstations: its new, modern file system, ReFS ("resilient file system"). ReFS—like modern file systems on other platforms such as Oracle's ZFS and Linux's btrfs—includes integrated checksums to detect data corruption. Combined with Storage Spaces, it can automatically reconstruct damaged data from software-defined arrays.

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Posted by Joe Mullin

Enlarge (credit: 2AM films / Nestle)

Atari claims that a commercial for Nestle's Kit Kat candy bars violates the copyright and trademark rights of Breakout, Atari's iconic 1975 video game.

Nestle's 30-second spot "leverage[s] Breakout and the special place it holds among nostalgic Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even today's Millennial and post-Millennial 'gamers'" in order to maximize the advertisement's reach," say Atari's lawyers in the complaint (PDF), filed Thursday in a California federal court.

"Nestle simply took the classic Breakout screen, replaced its bricks with KIT KAT bars, and invited customers to "Breakout" and buy more candy bars," the complaint states.

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(no subject)

Monday, August 21st, 2017 09:57 pm
skygiants: storybook page of a duck wearing a pendant, from Princess Tutu; text 'mukashi mukashi' (mukashi mukashi)
[personal profile] skygiants
A couple months ago I was talking with my roommate about the new Anne of Green Gables TV series (I have not seen it, she had opinions about it) which led to us reminiscing about Other L.M. Montgomery Books We Had Known, which led to me last weekend rereading The Story Girl and The Golden Road.

I was actually much more attached to these books than I ever was to Anne -- they're about an extended group of cousins who have very wholesome adventures together. The cousins include:

Beverly, Our Narrator, most notable for his mildly purple narration and deeply sentimental soul
Felix, his little brother, who is Fat and Sensitive About It
Felicity, who is Very Beautiful and Very Prosaic and also Extremely Bossy, like Lucy from Peanuts if she also looked like Elizabeth Taylor
Cecily, who is Very Good and Very Serious and probably also Doomed to Die Young Like Good Children Do
Dan, Felicity and Cecily's brother, who is an Annoying Brother
Sara Ray, who lives down the road and cries all the time
Peter, who is But a Hired Boy but Clever and Talented and also In Love With Felicity
and, of course, Sara Stanley the Story Girl, who is not pretty but interesting, and has a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and is prone to stopping in the middle of any given conversation to announce that she knows a story that has some vague relation to the topic at hand and will then proceed to relate that story come hell or high water, which: oh god, of course I imprinted on these books as a kid, because I of course do the exact same thing, except without any vestige of a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and also instead of 'I know a tragic story about our uncle's great-aunt's wedding' my version is usually 'I read a book once in which somebody banged a griffin.' But, much like the Story Girl, once I get started on an anecdote of this kind there is very little chance of stopping me. I apologize to anybody who has suffered from this.

ANYWAY. Fortunately, the other kids (with the occasional exception of Felicity) never get fed up with the Story Girl and are always glad to hear an entertaining anecdote about the minister's cousin's grandmother or whatever the topic of discussion is that day.

The kids also get into normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff, like pretending to be ministers, or freaking out because the local old-lady-who-might-be-a-witch sat in their pew at church, or panicking that it might be the Day of Judgment. Normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff centers very prominently on appropriate church behavior, as it turns out. L.M. Montgomery's world is composed of Methodists and Lutherans and that's about it. I don't remember this being weird for me as an emphatically-not-Christian youth but it is slightly retroactively weird for me now.

Other notable things that happen in The Story Girl and The Golden Road:
- Dan eats poison berries because Felicity tells him he would be an idiot to eat the poison berries, nearly dies, then goes back and eats more poison berries because Felicity made the mistake of saying she told him so
- Cecily the Very Sweet and Very Good is mean to exactly one person in both books, a boy in her class who conceives a terrible crush on her and will not leave her alone despite multiple stated requests until she publicly humiliates him in class, which she ruthlessly does; a good lesson
- The Story Girl gives a great and instantly recognizable description of synesthesia without ever actually using the word
- The Story Girl befriends a desperately shy neighbor who is known as the Awkward Man, "because he is so awkward," our narrator Bev helpfully explains
- the Awkward Man is later revealed to have a secret room in his house containing women's clothing, which, the Story Girl explains, is because he's spent years buying things for an imaginary girlfriend - and, I mean, far be it from me to question the Story Girl! but some grad student could probably get a real good paper on gender and sexuality in turn-of-the-century children's lit out of this is all I'm saying
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Posted by Mike Smithson

I love today’s New York Daily News front page that I thought it would be a good peg to look at what are by far the biggest current political betting markets – will Trump survive a full term and what year will he leave the White House.

These tend to fluctuate sharply and in the past couple of days the money has moved back a notch to Trump’s survival.

In the aftermath of the white supremacist matches and Trump’s initial controversial comments the Betfair chances of him going the full term edged to a 44% chance. That’s now moved back to 47%.

As for the year of his exit 2020 and beyond has now become a stronger favorite following the bounce back. 2017 is now a 9% chance, 2018 27%, 2019 17% with 2020 and beyond 47%.

This is not a market I’ve gambled on. My feeling at the moment is that he will survive but that he’ll struggle to win a second term. I don’t like locking up cash on longer term bets unless the odds are far longer than what we have here. Also I think the betting in the UK is very much driven by the anti Trump sentiment – this is very much a heart over head market.

If you think he will go early and want to bet then now might be a good time.

Mike Smithson

High view

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 12:10 am
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BBC correspondent James Cook views the total eclipse from 40,000ft above the Pacific Ocean.

Chile rejects iron mine to protect penguins

Monday, August 21st, 2017 11:13 pm
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Ministers said plans to extract iron near a penguin reserve lacked sufficient environmental guarantees.

Well, it could've gone better

Monday, August 21st, 2017 07:56 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
I wanted to be there right when the museum opened - missed that by about an hour.

DID get the glasses. Boy, those were something. They seemed completely opaque until you looked up at the tiny, orange, dim sun. (The kids sold theirs to people even later than we were!)

Missed the lecture due to some miscommunication. Didn't see other exhibits, same reason.

But we did enjoy looking at the sun through the (shared) glasses, and the kids really loved making pinhole projectors on index cards. I'd expected they would - they wrote their names and all!

One thing that was not explained to me in the documentation, but in retrospect should've been obvious: The dimmer the light got, the closer the index cards had to be to make a clear image. At the beginning, having one on the ground and one in your hand was good enough. By the midpoint, when it was 70% covered and dark (and when we were done) they had to be right next to each other.

Several people, hearing me launch into another spiel on how "our eyes work the same way" and "the image is backwards and upside down - look, compare it! - but when it happens in our eyes our brains automatically flip it" asked if I was a teacher or a scientist! LOL. Only the former in a very *literal* sense, but this is something I've known since I was six or so. I had a book on the structure of the eye. (I didn't say that. I just said I homeschool and I made the kids listen to me talk to them about it.)

And then on the way back we talked about the Statue of Liberty and all. I heard a tour guide the other day say that the original model for the face was the sculptor's girlfriend, not his mother as in the finished version, but I don't know if that's correct. Still, "she looked too sexy" is obviously a story that's hard to give up!

Happy Eclipse Day!

Monday, August 21st, 2017 07:35 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:

Pinhole Eclipse Projection

I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.

I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.

Solar Eclipse Animation

Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)

Eclipse - Time Lapse

Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Digital life after death?

Monday, August 21st, 2017 11:00 pm
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Start-ups are beginning to swoop in on the death and funerals sector to shake up a staid industry.
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Many female doctors in Pakistan drop out when they start a family. There's a new scheme to help them continue in practice by doing online video clinics on their laptops.
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Posted by Timothy B. Lee

Enlarge (credit: Google)

Earlier today, millions of Americans flocked to a strip of land about 70 miles wide, stretching from Portland, Oregon to Columbia, South Carolina, to view a once-a-decade total solar eclipse.

Now the totality is over, and everyone is trying to go home. And as these screenshots from Google maps demonstrate, it's causing traffic jams on North-South interstates throughout the path of the totality:

This post originated on Ars Technica

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Total eclipse of the Ars

Monday, August 21st, 2017 08:26 pm
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Posted by John Timmer

Enlarge (credit: John Timmer)

Our staff is sharing its eclipse stories and photos from today. The post will be updated as more come in.

OAKLAND, Calif.—Oakland and the surrounding Bay Area are well-known for morning fog, particularly in the summertime. So despite having two telescopes and the helpful staff at the Chabot Space & Science Center, the clouds unfortunately didn’t cooperate. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop hundreds of people from gathering along the observation deck, near the historic telescopes named Leah and Rachel. Most people had brought protective eyewear or had made pinhole boxes, but with the cloud cover blocking the Sun anyway, they quickly figured out that they wouldn’t be able to see the Sun with them on. Attendees squealed and yelped with joy as they attempted to view what was left of the Sun peeking out from behind the Moon and the thick white cloud cover. Your correspondent caught a few glimpses of the partially eclipsed and cloud-covered Sun for just a few moments.

Meanwhile, my sister-in-law, Kelly Guyon, 28, who traveled north from Oakland, California, to Madras, Oregon, to observe totality, has declared herself an “eclipse chaser” now.

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Solar eclipse: See it in 60 seconds

Monday, August 21st, 2017 07:45 pm
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A Nasa telescope captures the total solar eclipse as it passes over the western US state of Oregon.
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Posted by Ron Amadeo

Enlarge (credit: Google)

NEW YORK CITY—Happy Eclipse Day! As the Moon slowly crept its way across the Sun, Google took the opportunity to host an Eclipse-themed Android 8.0 launch event in New York City. Along with eclipse glasses and a simulcast of NASA's eclipse livestream, Android "O" finally got it's full name: "Android 8.0, Oreo."

Like KitKat before it, Android's alphabetical snack-themed codenames have gone commercial and partnered with an actual snack producer, adopting Nabisco's trademarked "Oreo" as the name for this release. The event also came with the traditional statue unveiling: a superhero Android Oreo.

With today's event, Android 8.0 Oreo is shipping out across all the usual distribution methods. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is getting the 8.0 code drop. OTAs will begin to roll out "soon" to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and Pixel C, and system images should be up on developers.google.com soon. Any device enrolled in the Android Beta Program will also be upgraded to these final builds.

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Android Oreo released by Google

Monday, August 21st, 2017 06:47 pm
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The latest version of Android adds new features to help people tackle "notification diarrhoea".
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Posted by Zack Fox, Chief Screen-Watcher

This is all spoilers. Like, so much spoilers. Please don’t read on unless you’ve seen Season 7, Episode 6, “Beyond the Wall” of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t seen it then, firstly, what the hell are you doing here? And secondly, go watch it immediately (and read our recap and review while you’re at it here).

Ready? OK. So, what does the Night King want, and what’s he been up to all this time?

Our theory is that everything we saw in Beyond the Wall, and in fact everything that we’ve seen since Hardhome in series 5 and then The Door in series 6, all points towards a unified masterplan from the Night King which he pulled off (almost) flawlessly. The plan being: to steal Dany’s dragons.

Hear us out.

Surrounded by the White Walkers

We know that the Night King and Bran have some kind of Voldemort-Harry Potter bond going on (we’ll go into the “Bran is the Night King” theory some other time) and we know that the Night King knows that too as he’s branded Bran (lol) and managed to raid the Three-Eyed Raven’s treehouse in The Door (RIP Hodor… still too soon).

Next: Jon and his Dream Team’s plot to venture beyond the wall happened exclusively because of Bran’s vision in the previous episode and the Night King knew that Bran saw them. In fact, he made a point of making sure Bran knew he saw him. Which relates to questions that fans, us included, have ridiculed the show about all season: why didn’t the Night King chase down Bran and Meera after The Door? Why did he make his army of the dead, which is perfectly capably of sprinting (presumably unendingly as they aren’t exactly going to get tired, are they?), very slowly march nowhere in particular? Baring in mind that, since The Door, Bran has managed to travel to Winterfell in a wheelbarrow and Dany has sailed across the actual entire known world, while the Army of the Dead have gone, err, left a little bit. It was all to build up to this, to lure the heroes, and more specifically, the dragons, north.

Notice that the Night King just stood on the hill and watched the Dream Team while they were stranded on the island? He didn’t attack – say, with throwing spears and deadly accuracy – or refreeze the water to help his army across as we know he can do (though the weather sorted that one out). He was waiting for the dragons to turn up! You’d think, as devils made of ice, the White Walkers would be scared shitless of flying dinosaurs literally made of fire but they just stand and wait armed with spears specifically designed to take dragons down. 3 spears in fact! One for each dragon. Notice he didn’t go for Drogon first, the closer, prone target, but instead took a shot at Viserion while the dragon was flying in approach and therefore easier to hit; Drogon was a foregone conclusion for the Night King and his godlike throwing arm so we went for the tougher shot first (though he didn’t account for Dany’s skills as a dragon pilot which is the only way this went badly for him).

Vladimir Furdik as the Night King

We know, or at least very strongly suspect, that the Night King’s goal is to cross the wall and bring the Long Night upon humankind once more, possibly as a continuation of his original purpose (we saw him being “created” by the Children of the Forest last season, presumably as a weapon against the First Men who the children were warring against). The main problem there: crossing the Wall infused with magic designed to keep him out. A lot of people, us included, thought that Bran crossing the Wall with the Night King’s brand would be enough to let them through. But it’s not that straightforward (remember, Benjen said that he couldn’t cross the wall last season and he was WITH Bran, so Bran himself isn’t the game here).

What the brand did gift is some form of psychic bond with Bran, the extent of which we haven’t yet seen. And what does Bran know? Well… pretty much everything thanks to the tree internet! Including the fact that dragons have been reborn in the world. Furthermore, upon returning to Winterfell, Bran discovers that Jon is now with Dany and her dragons which, following this theory, means that the Night King can know too. Now the Night King knows Jon pretty well and has already baited him into a suicide mission to save people before at Hardhome. So what does he do? The exact same thing!

He threatens Eastwatch, slowly, makes sure Bran finds out and relays the message, and then waits for Jon. Anybody else wondering why a splinter force of one White Walker and a few wights were separated? And when Jon killed the White Walker only one wight was very conveniently left standing? I.e. the one piece of gold Jon needed and couldn’t leave behind, the one thing that slowed him down and forced him into a partial retreat requiring aerial support from Dany? Because the Night King planned it that way, all so he could get a hand on Dany’s dragons. Also notice that i) this isn’t the entirety of the Night King’s army (we know from the premiere that he has zombie giants in his employ which aren’t present) and ii) he has preemptively brought the chains he needs with him if any of the felled dragons had sunk into the lake.

None of what happened was an accident: the Night King sent one of his Walkers and group of wights into a gully to draw the Dream Team out; he left one wight alive to weigh them down so they wouldn’t all flee and yet let Gendry out without pursuing him to summon the dragons; a splinter force of his army was then positioned to push the dream-team across the lake and onto the island where they would be stranded and surrounded; then they could wait for the dragons to arrive.


Which brings us back to our earlier point: the Night King needs to cross the Wall but can’t because of the magic. So what can he do instead? Destroy it, bring that thing crashing down! And how’s he going to do that? Well, fire-breathing dragons might do the trick! As we explained in our recap and review for Beyond the Wall, we don’t believe that Viserion has been brought back as a standard wight (as in when the Night King raises the dead in Hardhome). Instead, the Night King re-raised the dragon in the same way he converted Craster’s son in Oathkeeper (series 4, episode 4) with a touch to the head. Viserion is therefore arguably more of a White Walker (White Dragon?) than a standard wight zombie, so we believe that his firebreathing talents will be very much operational.

Ultimately, the only thing that went wrong for the Night King in all of this is that he only got his hands on one of the dragons. For now at least. But regardless, one is all he’ll need to breach the wall – either by flying over it or elsewise destroying a section to let his army through.

One things for sure: it’s going to be dragon versus dragon in series 8. And we don’t think our hearts can handle it.

Read our recap and review for Series 7 , Episode 6 here.

Read our recap & reviews of episodes 1, 2, 3,4, and 5.

The post Game of Thrones theory: what does the Night King really want? appeared first on Gadgette.

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Posted by Zack Fox, Chief Screen-Watcher

Well damn… where do we even start with this one? The heartbreak is just too real, you guys. As Jorah tells himself at the beginning of yet another loveless day: it’s going to be a rough ride…

Dragonstone I

We open with a tracking shot of Dany’s tablemap of Westeros with a blazing furnace framed at the top beyond the Wall… reassuring.

Later, she has a cosy fireside chat with Tyrion about how stupid men can be (preach, sister) with Jon and his dream-team off ranging beyond the wall before Tyrion makes everything mega-awkward by quizzing her about succession. She reminds us that she can’t have children (with babies being a recurring theme in this episode) and again questions Tyrion’s loyalties and intentions. She makes a fair point – that she needs to win the throne before worrying about keeping it – though “what comes next?” is an interesting new dimension to be added to the game. It’s a great scene from a character perspective and Emilia Clarke (who’s generally on top form right throughout this episode, praise be) nails Dany’s burgeoning sense of frustration.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen

Beyond the Wall I

Jon marches on beyond the wall with his merry band of assorted misfits: Beric Dondarrion, a guy who’s died 6 times already; Thoros of Myr, a drunken, dissociated, life-giving priest; Gendry, a royal bastard and gold medal winning rower; Tormund Giantsbane, a barbarian mad-man; Jorah Mormont, an exiled former lord and the officially ordained karmic whipping boy of the entire universe; and Sandor “the Hound” Clegane, a guy who ran out of fucks to give centuries ago.

This is the meat of the matter in this episode and it is excellently well-played. It’s a steady build-up, slow and methodical, with a mounting sense of dread as the troupe of hapless heroes traipse ever further into the bleak, unforgiving icy wilderness. Benioff and Wise are at the peak of their writing game here, chopping the group up into twos and threes for enjoyable bouts of banter and lightning-quick exposition, the highlight of which being the Hound and Tormund’s particularly magical discussion about Brienne. Most significantly however is Jorah and Jon’s discussion about Longclaw – Jorah refuses to take it back, saying it belongs to Jon now and then his children after him. So there’s that baby klaxon again!

With all of this chatting we’re reminded why we like each and every one of these characters so when the cold winds start to rise, and the snow starts to fall, and they see a shadowy figure in the distance, we really feel that sick sense of fear and rising dread. We know that something bad is coming, but nobody ever expects – A MOTHERFUCKING ZOMBEAR.


This thing is terrifying as it tears through a couple of the wildling redshirts and lays siege to the Dream-team, eventually getting its teeth into Thoros after he saves the Hound and ragdolling him all over the damn place. Beric sets the thing on fire with his firesword (oh yeah, they have fireswords now) but Zombear don’t care, Zombear don’t give a fuck, and the tension is sickening as the Hound has a Theon/Reek moment, frozen in fear facing the flaming eldritchian horror, before Jorah finally kills it with a dragonglass dagger to the skull. You assume that’s the end of Thoros but he goes full Revenant and Leo DiCaprios that shit before staggering on with the rest of the survivors. Champion effort.

A little further on and they finally encounter what appears to be a splinter force of the undead army led by a White Walker. The Dream Team go for the surprise attack and Jon comfortably dispatches the White Walker with Longclaw. All of the other wights but one spontaneously die along with it (suspicious… read our theory here) and they capture it – hooray, mission complete! It looks like everything’s going smoothly enough…all the while the episode laughs malevolently in the corner, smiling its Littlefingerest smile.

Suddenly there’s rumbling, then undead screeching, and in the blink of an eye the real army of the dead is upon them. Jon commands Gendry to run back to Eastwatch and get a raven to Dany for support while the rest retreat and find themselves stranded on an island in the middle of a frozen lake, the zombie hoard surrounding them on all sides while the Night King and his beardy bitches watch on.

Gendry sprints the entire way back by nightfall (endlessly rowing for four series gives you killer stamina clearly) before he collapses dramatically at the gate and asks Davos to send the raven.

Joe Dempsie as Gendry, Rory McCann as Sandor "The Hound" Clegane, Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont


Arya and Sansa have an awkward chat overlooking the courtyard – Arya tells her sister about how she trained with a bow as a child and their father watched her before confronting Sansa about the letter she found in the last episode. Sansa argues that she was forced to write it but Arya isn’t having any of it, confident in her belief that Sansa has always put herself before her family. Sansa points out she’s pretty much responsible for winning the Battle of the Bastards while Arya was off gallivanting around the world and it becomes painfully clear that, with everything they’ve experienced, there’s now an ocean of difference between the sisters. It’s a strangely stilted and sterile confrontation, particularly from Maisie Williams who’s ordinarily a terrific actress, and if anything it just breaks the pace of the action kicking off elsewhere.

There’s no Bran in this episode because he’s too busy getting jiggy in his tree fort, so we’re next given a scene between Sansa and Littlefinger who keeps stirring the pot with Arya. He seems to suggest that Sansa could use Brienne to rid herself of her Arya problem…but Sansa goes in a different direction in a later scene when she sends Brienne south to King’s Landing (honestly, how many air-miles has she racked up now?) following a summons from Cersei. Quite why Sansa feels the need to listen to Cersei at all is perplexing but at least the show has set up a(nother) reunion for Brienne and Jaime. Furthemore, it’s clear that Cersei isn’t just sitting around waiting for Dany to turn up with her deado and has been busy plotting – will this relate back to the Dragonpit (basically an out-building for dragons that the Targaryens built way back when) that’s been referenced a few times this season?

We’ll find out in the finale, but let’s not forget that the last time Cersei was responsible for multiple characters in one place everything got a little explodey…

Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark

The final Winterfell scene is another sibling argument after Arya catches Sansa snooping around her room. She finds Arya’s bag of Scooby-Doo masks – sorry, faces – under her bed (well, where would you keep your bag of faces?) and justifiably asks “what the actual fuck is this??” But Arya’s in full creeper mode as she threatens to take Sansa’s face too. Dude… The scene ends with Arya giving Sansa the catspaw’s dagger (which Littlefinger gave to Bran who gave it to Arya, keep up now).

For every way in which the action beyond the wall is fantastic in this episode, the Winterfell scenes are a big hot mess. We’ve joked before how Game of Thrones is often more than a little soap opera with its character melodrama but these scenes are Hollyoaks level poor. When you have sisters bickering over LITERALLY NOTHING intercut with game-changing narrative beats it seems majestically petty and exceptionally strange from a narrative and pacing perspective. This has to be part of a bigger ploy by Arya to bring down Littlefinger otherwise it just doesn’t make sense. I.e. she threatens Sansa, plays perfectly into Littlefinger’s trap, gives him the show he needs to convince him he’s winning, and then gifts Sansa a weapon – it’s a message: “use this on the real enemy.” We hope anyway, otherwise… ugh.

Dragonstone II

Dany has received the call for help and mobilises her scaly children, dressed in one of the most impressive costumes the show has ever put together, a thick, fur-lined white winter dress with a strong dragon motif. Costume designer Michelle Clapton has really outdone herself with this and deserves all of the plaudits and rewards she’ll inevitably receive.

Tyrion begs her not to go, saying she’s too important, but she refuses to listen and takes off on Drogon’s back, with Viserion and Rhaegal following close behind.

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark

Beyond the Wall II

The Dream Team have survived the night stuck on their island, though Thoros has passed away from his wounds. He died as he lived – drunk and on fire, surrounded by friends. So far as Game of Thrones deaths go it’s practically a party… ignoring the fact that they’re stranded on Death Island in the middle of Death Lake surrounded on all sides by literal death.

Thoros as the sole (named) Dream Team casualty in the episode seems a tad strange in its singledom. This is Game of Thrones and we were all expecting three of four to snuff it (redshirts notwithstanding) but it does have symbolic depth: there are no do-overs anymore. Thoros was the reset button with his Lord of Light wizardry and his death is a starting bell for the endgame; from here on out if you’re dead, you’re dead (or brought back as an ice zombie). A quick thing to note here that we enjoyed is that Thoros is kind of responsible for everyone else surviving the fight: he saved the Hound from the zombear, meaning the Hound was around to save Tormund from being dragged under the ice, which in turn meant Tormund could save Jorah when he fell off Drogon. In other words, the three guys who haven’t died and been resurrected (like Beric and Jon) are each saved from certain death to live again thanks to Thoros. It’s a subtle narrative touch and gives Thoros’s death a sense of poignancy it might otherwise have lacked.

The Hound, being the Hound, decides to taunt the undead hoard by throwing rocks at them – but one misses and skids across the now very much re-frozen lake. Well… shit. Now it’s a party and the wights waste no time by sprinting forwards and swarming the island. We aren’t ones to mince words here: this battle is fucking terrifying. There are zombies flying everywhere, it looks like anybody could die at any second, and is there any sequence in GoT history as harrowing as Tormund being swarmed and dragged to his icy doom? (Well yes actually, it came about 10 minutes later…). The Hound saves him, thankfully, and they regroup. Jon has one of his “slo-mo-dramatic-realisation” sequences as the undead close in and then STOP – it’s dragon time.

Dragons attacking the white walkers

Dany swoops in and eradicates the wights like so many ants under a magnifying glass. But this isn’t the sort of triumphant dragon raid like we’ve seen in Spoils of War and The Battle of the Bastards – it’s dark, foreboding, melancholic, despairing, hopeless; they’re losing this battle and scrambling to survive and composer Ramin Djawadi shows off how much of a master of the craft he is with his epic score.

Jon being the hopeless martyrphiliac he is goes chopping away to buy the others enough time to climb up on Drogon’s back (and secure their captive wight) but then it’s time for the real heartbreak. With the sort of emotionless calm and poise that Robert Patrick would applaud, the Night King retrieves a vicious looking ice-spear, takes aim, and launches it a good 500 metres at Viserion (don’t fuck with the guy who’s had 8000+ years to practice his throwing arm). His aim is true. And brutal. Practically tearing Viserion apart mid-air. Dragons are fire-made-flesh we’re told, but that doesn’t stop torrents of blood dousing the battlefield below as Viserion crashes into the lake. He sinks to the bottom as Dany watches on, utterly devastated, Drogon and Rhaegal crying for their fallen brother. But there’s no time to mourn. The Night King grabs a second spear and takes aim. Jon tells Dany to get the fuck out of dodge as he’s dragged under the ice. And she takes off, narrowly dodging the Night King’s attack, as Tormund saves Jorah from falling off the dragon (goddamit Jorah, can you stop being so tragic?)

It’s not over yet as we watch with bated breath to see if Jon reemerges from the lake. He does! And then – HOLY SHIT WHAT WAS THAT! Did…did the wolf-head pommel on Longclaw just open its eyes?? It’s most likely a trick of the lighting or from the splash Jon makes pulling himself up – but that’s less fun than madly theorising! It could be that Bran, or at least something, was watching out for Jon (the pommel is made of weirwood after all) which culminates with – Deus Ex Uncle! Just as it looks like Jon is actually doomed this time, good old Uncle Benjen comes racing to the rescue with his flaming chainball flail thing. He gives Jon his horse and sacrifices himself to make sure Jon gets away safely; Jon’s plot armour is a chunky old thing at the moment.

And breathe. Goddamit Game of Thrones. You’ve officially broken us this time.

Everything about this sequence was outstanding – the pacing, the narrative (shut up inner pedant, it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t really make any sense and it’s totally unrealistic that Dany got there so quickly), the CGI, the stunts and the action, the performances, particularly Emilia Clarke when Viserion is downed. Just, bravo, bravo to everyone. We hope you all enjoy your Emmys.

Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion

The Aftermath

Everyone is pretty fucking miserable – especially Dany as she watches from atop the Wall as Jon returns. Davos gets him out of his frozen clothes and into furs to warm him up, but not before Dany sees the brutal scars Jon earned “For the watch.”

Down on the beach, or “blistering frosty sealine,” the Hound and Tormund acknowledge each other as equals as the Hound packs the wight into a rowboat to bring back to King’s Landing (we’re assuming he isn’t rowing the entire way in his little boat, but by the way the show is going he could make the journey by lunchtime). More significantly however, if the Hound is returning to King’s Landing then CLEGANEBOWL IS ON Y’ALL! Get hyped!

On the boat back to Dragonstone, Jon and Dany have a strong (slightly incestuous) bonding moment. Dany is ravaged by the loss of her child and Jon apologises sincerely. She rebuffs it – now she’s seen the real danger, now she knows the real fight, and she’s willing to join him in it. Jon repays her by saying he’ll bend the knee. This is a powerful moment, excellently portrayed by Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington, and for the first time their blossoming relationship feels less like teenage fan-fiction and more like a narratively and emotionally significant development.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow

We’re also brought back to the issue of babies and succession as Dany mourns Viserion. We assume Dany can’t have any children because that’s what we’ve been told, but pulling us allll the way back to series 1 when Dany was pregnant with Drogo’s child but inadvertently sacrifices him to save Drogo and becomes barren in the process, the actual words from Mirri Maz Duur are “only death can pay for life.” Well she’s had a death: one of her dragon children is dead, so has she “paid” for a new child?

Beyond the Wall III

Bah, did you think we were going to end on that semi-cheerful note? WHERE HAVE YOU EVEN BEEN?

The Night King has equipped his wights with chains and, slowly but surely, they drag Viserion’s corpse out of the lake where the Night King confirms our worst fears and brings the dragon back as a blue-eyed demon. It’s been hinted at before and it’s made eerily clear here – the wights are no run-of-the-mill Walking Dead zombies. They’re SLAVES. Their ability to sprint when needed, to stand to attention at the lake edge, to overwhelm and swarm, and even form a functioning labour force using the chains, has to be some form of mind control from the Night King. Which makes the White Walkers, and the Night King in particular, a whole new level of malevolent evil.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Night King re-raised Viserion as a White Walker (White Dragon? Someone get Yu-Gi-Oh over here!) with a touch to the face as we saw him doing to Craster’s baby in Oathkeeper in season four, not as a wight as we saw him doing in Hardome with his “Come at me bro” stance. White Walkers are far more resilient to fire than their shambling henchmen, so for those of you who think that Zombie Viserion will either kill itself with it’s own firebreath or alternatively have icebreath, think again.


Significantly, Viserion is now destined to follow the path of his namesake, Dany’s brother Viserys; where he was once Dany’s protector, he’s now her greatest threat. We’d applaud the poetic storytelling of it all if we weren’t still curled up on the floor recovering from emotional annihilation. Finally, while the “three heads has the dragon” theory has gone out of the window somewhat, things are set up nicely now for Jon Targaryen to ride upon the back of Rhaegal, his father Rhaegar’s namesake.

Well, if you managed to read through all of that then power to you, it was a bit a marathon. We’re desperate to hear your thoughts on this and we can’t wait/live in all-encompassing fear of next week’s series finale.

If you fancy a bit more reading material, check out our theory on how everything leading up to and including this episode was all part of the Night King’s evil master plan…

Read our recap & reviews of episodes 1, 2, 3,4, and 5.

The post Game of Thrones Recap & Review Season 7, Episode 6 – “Beyond the Wall” appeared first on Gadgette.

Solar eclipse: Watch it happen

Monday, August 21st, 2017 05:48 pm
[syndicated profile] bbc_science_news_feed
The US witnesses the spectacular effects of its first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in 100 years.

what i saw August 21, 2017 at 10:10AM

Monday, August 21st, 2017 05:10 pm
ironymaiden: (beholder)
[personal profile] ironymaiden

Eclipse progress tripping light sensors at port of seattle. something i saw

Killer robots are coming, and Elon Musk is worried

Monday, August 21st, 2017 04:44 pm
[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Timothy B. Lee

Enlarge (credit: Carolco Pictures)

Dozens of AI-focused technology executives, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, are urging a United Nations working group to push forward with a plan to ban killer robots.

"Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare," the group of CEOs and CTOs wrote in an open letter organized by the Future of Life Institute and released Sunday. "Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways."

It's easy to imagine the potential nightmare scenarios here. You only have to think about the Terminator's Skynet, or that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Enterprise crew members are hunted down by an automated weapons system that turns out to be a sales demo by a long-defunct arms merchant.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Is ‘centrist’ being used more often now?

Monday, August 21st, 2017 04:03 pm
[syndicated profile] whatyoucangetawaywit_feed

Posted by Nick

Following on from my Prospect article, I’ve been wondering about a perception that we seem to be using and discussing terms like ‘centrist’ and ‘centrism’ now, though there’s also the chance of it being selective perception on my part, given my PhD topic. So, as evidence that it’s not just in my head, here’s what Google has to say about it.

In all of these graphs, the blue line represents how much people are searching for ‘centrist’, the red line how much they’re searching for ‘centrism’. ‘Centrist’ is almost always the most searched of the two terms. The global graph is quite jittery (indicating it’s not searched very often so small ups and downs in the number of searches make big changes in the graph) but has two clear early peaks around the end of 2004 and 2008 (possibly connected to the US Presidential elections then) and then rises as we get closer to the present day.

Breaking it down by country…

We see the 2004 and 2008 peaks on the graph for the US, which are a bit more prominent than they are in the global trends, and the rise towards the present day isn’t as big as it is globally, but still above the 2004 and 2008 peaks.

The UK graph has a much more pronounced rise in recent months, with the only noticeable peak before that in February 2005 – and no, I can’t work out why that might be.

Canada gives us a slightly different picture, with a generally higher average trend than the US and UK, but still with the current rise. There is an earlier peak there, around the end of 2005, which might be linked to the Canadian federal election that took place in January 2006.

I’ve done those three as an example, but there definitely does seem to be a rise in searches for ‘centrist’ and ‘centrism’ over the last year or so, which is interesting, though for now I’m just going to leave it at presenting you with the data and seeing what theories you come up with to explain it, rather than putting forward my own.

[syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

Posted by Attitude Magazine

These days it seems like everybody’s espousing the benefits of yoga, but seriously guys, you know what’s better than actually doing it? Watching it.

Namely, watching two shirtless Olympic-level acrobats try and manoeuvre themselves into the most convoluted positions possible as part of an ‘Extreme Yoga Challenge’.

Thankfully, Tom Daley’s latest YouTube video involves that very spectacle, as the Team GB diver teams up with gymnast Nile Wison to try out some extreme yoga positions that will leave a lasting impression.

The clip sees the pair take requests from a vast array of celebrity friends, including former Attitude cover stars Adam Peaty, Stephen Fry, Gus Kenworthy, and even Dustin Lance Black, who has a very specific request for his husband.

“This a position I saw at Cirque le Soir – this circus that comes to town occasionally,” Dustin says.

“What is interesting about this position is that one of you is going to have to decide who’s reclining, and who’s erect.”

So who ends up where? You’ll have to watch the video to find out…





[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Kyle Orland


Last night's pre-Gamescom Microsoft press presentation was light on major announcements. But the event did include some details about how current Xbox One owners will be able to move their games and settings over to the new, 4K-capable Xbox One X when it launches on November 7.

The easiest way to get all your games to the new system, as outlined by Microsoft Vice President Mike Ybarra, will be to just put them on an external USB hard drive and then plug that drive into the new console. "All your games are ready to play" immediately after this external hard drive move, he said, and user-specific settings can also be copied via external hard drive in the same way.

If you don't have an external drive handy, "we're going to let you copy games and apps off your home network instead of having to manually move them or redownload them off the Internet," Ybarra said. It's unclear right now if Microsoft will mirror the PS4 Pro and allow this kind of system-to-system transfer directly using an Ethernet cable plugged directly in to both consoles.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Day 5 Reveals 2017

Monday, August 21st, 2017 10:49 am
paraka: A baby wearing headphones and holding a mic (Default)
[personal profile] paraka posting in [community profile] pod_together
Luckier than other people in that respect (My Chemical Romance, Bandom)
written by [archiveofourown.org profile] ermengarde, performed by [archiveofourown.org profile] dapatty
Summary: I cannot do any better than the summary which I sent Patty way back at the start:
So, I'm feeling Mikey, I think - something back in Frank & Mikey cohabiting days?
Maybe their apartment gets rats or something distressing so they have to move in a hurry and end up in the attic of a converted big house, which is creepy af, but (a)cheap and (b)Frank likes creepy (and bonus (c)Gerard wants to draw all of it and Ray thinks cheap is good and Otter thinks they're all f'ing ridiculous, seriously, and why is it he has to carry all the boxes of shit so no one dies) ...

Hangover (Dragon Age II)
written by [archiveofourown.org profile] Jaden56, performed by [archiveofourown.org profile] RsCreighton
Summary: "How do I keep waking up like this?" Hawke groaned.

"Cause I know I'm good for something (I just haven't found it yet)" (The Flash (TV 2014))
written by [archiveofourown.org profile] Arabwel, performed by [archiveofourown.org profile] litrapod
Summary: “It won’t be forever, Bear,” Joe says as he hugs Barry goodbye. “We’ll get a new hearing, get you to come home with us.”
Barry nods, clutching his backpack to his chest, keenly aware of the impatient sniffing of the woman who will be fostering him in Joe’s stead. He wants to believe Joe, but more than that he wants Joe to believe him, believe in the man in the lightning and the fact that his dad is innocent.
There never is a second hearing.

The Therapeutic Importance of Frozen Treats (Captain America (Movies))
written by [archiveofourown.org profile] dapatty, performed by [archiveofourown.org profile] Akaihyou
Summary: Bucky has a nice day. Involving ice cream. All the ice cream.

Can't Stop the Signal (Jupiter Ascending (2015))
written by [archiveofourown.org profile] somnolentblue, performed by [archiveofourown.org profile] silkylustre
Summary: Glimpses of the birth, life, and rebellion of Gemma Chatterjee, a synthetic lifeform in Aegis service. Or, four times Gemma listens, and one time she speaks.

an end, a start (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015))
written by [archiveofourown.org profile] lady_ragnell, performed by [archiveofourown.org profile] knight_tracer
Summary: After the war against the First Order ends, everyone seems to want something from Rey, but all she wants is time to figure out what she wants. Finn and Poe propose a marriage that will keep everyone at bay until she's ready, and it seems like a good idea. The only danger is that she's really in love with them.

Back to the Source (Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch)
written by [archiveofourown.org profile] Jadesfire, performed by [archiveofourown.org profile] Sunquistadora
Summary: An anonymous tip off, a suspicious household and a lost magical item. Peter can't help but think that there's something fishy about this situation.

The Binding Ring Job (Shadowhunters (TV), Leverage, Jewish Legend & Lore)
written by [archiveofourown.org profile] Hagar, performed by [archiveofourown.org profile] Poetry
Summary: When the Leverage team runs into a mark with a very distinctive ring, Eliot has a phone call to make. On the other side of the country, Magnus’s night just got Interesting, the headache-inducing way.
[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

No post election poll has matched the CON election share which itself was seen as a disappointment

It was noticing the photograph above of the Conservative battle bus at the general election that reminded me what a huge gamble the blue team made at the last election by putting everything on Theresa May.

Notice that on the bus the words Conservative or Tory don’t appear. The election was going to be all about Theresa but as it turned out by polling day this was no longer a positive but a significant negative.

This was brought home to me by a recent conversation with a regular non-posting PBer PB and Lib Dem canvasser who was working hard throughout April May and early June for his party. He noted that in April and early May often when they knocked on a Conservative supporter’s door they were likely to get the response that people will be voting for Theresa. It was she that was being named and not her party.

By the end of the campaign the tone was completely different. When voters specifically mentioned the PM the term they used was “her” who they were defiantly not voting for.

Since June 8th the Tories have yet to poll above 42% which is 1.5% below what they achieved at GE17 and markedly below what most final polls were saying.

Given the way the polls were in early May backed up by superb Conservative local election results you can understand why the “Brand Theresa” strategy was evolved. Unfortunately as people got to know her better her personal rating declined and now they are in deep negative territory.

Can she pull it round? That’s hard to say but it doesn’t look good and the widespread assumption is that GE2017 was her first and last as leader.

Mike Smithson

[syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

Posted by Will Stroude

Just when we thought we couldn’t be any more excited by the prospect of a new Miley Cyrus record, the singer’s actual fairy godmother Dolly Parton has come to sprinkle some extra gay glitter on the project.

The iconic country star has teamed up with goddaughter Miley for a brand new track, ‘Rainbowland’, which features on the former Disney star’s sixth studio album Younger Now.

The LP’s full track-listing has been unveiled ahead of the record’s release next month, and given Miley’s return to a more country-pop sound on singles ‘Malibu’ and the recently-released ‘Younger Now’, it seems now’s the perfect time for the 24-year-old star to team up with her ‘Jolene’-singing godmum for some original material.

Meanwhile, Dolly is gearing up for an album release all of her own after announcing the first children’s album of her 50-year career, I Believe In You.

“My first album was released 50 years ago and it’s been an amazing 50 years since then,” the 71-year-old said. “I am very excited that now I’m coming out with my first children’s album in all of those 50 years.”

Still no word on that gay dance album, sadly.

The 71-year-old added that all proceeds from I Believe in You will go to her charity The Imagination Library, which offers children under the age of five a free, hand-chosen book each month.

Miley Cyrus releases Younger Now on September 29. Check out the full tracklist below:

1. Younger Now
2. Malibu
3. Rainbowland feat. Dolly Parton
4. Week Without You
5. Miss You So Much
6. I Would Die For You
7. Thinkin’
8. Bad Mood
9. Love Someone
10. She’s Not Him
11. Inspired

More stories:
Aaron Carter says he’s not interested in dating men
Celebrity Big Brother’s Chad Johnson left exposed while getting intimate with Sarah Harding

[syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

Posted by Attitude Magazine

In 2009, homosexuality was decriminalised in India. In 2013, it was made illegal again, which is how it remains today.

Overnight, anyone identifying as gay in the country was forced to once again renounce themselves under a law that was initially passed in 1860. But London-based art dealer Amar Singh has made it his mission to turn this back around – quietly funding a private army in India to spread a message of love in support of LGBT+ and women’s rights.

“Someone messaged me on Facebook recently, and told me that his parents threatened to kill him after they found him with a man,” Singh, whose heritage can be traced back to 1772 India, when gay laws were but a glint in the Indian Penal Code’s eye, tells Attitude. “This goes against common sense, shows no moral compass; how can you kill someone for who they love?”

The impassioned owner of Amar Gallery in Islington, London – who does not in fact consider himself a royal – promotes the works of LGBT+ people and women (or both) in the art world. He is, by day, a champion of diversity in the arts, but is an activist against India’s back-tracking laws on the side.

Amar Singh, 28, is desperate to change attitudes towards homosexuality in India

“Half the country – more than half the country if you count women too – are being suppressed! Imagine an India if they championed that amount of people – the country would thrive! There would be hundreds of millions more people working towards progression”

Somewhat surprisingly given his clear determination for the cause, Singh isn’t gay himself – and yet his separation from his heritage has allowed him to look, from the outside in, at the situation; and his position has enabled him to actually do something about it.

“I’m not gay and I’m not a woman. But it’s about people,” he says. “I have always looked at India as a country that can proposer. The population, the wealth of national resources – we should be one of the top three leaders and we’re not because too many people are suppressed.”

It’s these staunch beliefs that have led to Singh taking on this fight, off his own back. He has spent time and effort quietly financing his network to champion for LGBT+ in his native country. He’s had setbacks, but Singh is nothing but persistent, constantly pumping time, passion and money into this army of love.

Singh was born in Paddington, London, and raised in Windsor; his family descend from the Kapurthala State of Punjab. The now-28-year-old has made it one of his missions in life to make a difference.

“We have a serious problem when people are being repressed for their love choices,” he muses. “Who cares about peoples’ relationships? It’s a sad state of affairs when Indian law puts people in prison for years for being gay. And living in fear is worse than being dead!”

Sexual activity between people of the same gender is illegal in India


The country sparked global outrage in 2013 when it overturned a ruling that had previously decriminalised gay sex

Singh first “became aware of the situation” when he was 16, and was drawn to helping out. He started on a humble scale, seeking out smaller LGBT charities, speaking to, rallying and championing people to support the cause.

As he went from school to university (Harvard) he frequented India on the side to speak across the country about legalising homosexuality which, during this period, was decriminalised only to be reinstated as illegal once again five years later.

“I was receiving death threats for offering emotional support to a cause I believed in,” Singh says with a sadness in his voice – not for himself, for those he was trying to help. “When I was in India there were some times I was afraid for my life.”

Singh struck up a friendship at the time with Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil – the first openly gay prince in the world.

The once-married (to a woman) royal, now 51, came out in 2006, after a public nervous breakdown due to having to hide his sexuality. Between 2006 and 2009 he was consequently disowned by his family yet revered by millions, prompting Oprah Winfrey to fly him over to America to meet her.

But Prince Manvendra still had to live in fear – despite being celebrated by the likes of Oprah and her following.

“People told him they were going to burn down his palace and kill him,” Singh says of Prince Manvendra. “I knew him at this time, and I was just 20. It scared me because I was then threatened by association. I wasn’t in India insulting a political party or professing radical ideas. I was just supporting people who want to love who they love.

“I was younger and more gregarious and had less of a regard form my own life. But admittedly, it made me a bit less vocal for a while and I was scared to go out in public and give a speech. But it only made me want to fight harder for the cause. Manvendra continues to inspire me to this day.”

Singh didn’t let this stop him – and in fact, he was able to get creative with his activism. It seems he took the initiative to enlist multiple people to spread the word on his behalf. Singh was creating this private army of love.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is the first openly gay prince in the world

Of course, when the law went backwards in 2013 (something Singh labels as “infuriating”) his army of love not only needed to remain undercover, but was even more necessary.

“These people need to be discreet, but I recruit people from all walks of life. We need people in the right positions in India to champion these rights,” Singh says, alluding to the high profile people he has on side. “We make speeches that have to be a bit clandestine but we hold rallies with thousands of people. Even if we influence one person from that, I’m happy.”

On the sadder side of things, he also admits that there are some regions of the country he will never be able to go anywhere near. “We avoid problematic areas, where tradition prevails above all else,” he explained.

And culture is the crux. Many will, in this time of extremity and suicide missions, play the religion card, using God as the reason India, like many other places, hold these views. But Singh asserts that this isn’t the issue.

“Hinduism and buddhism are very spiritual religions,” he points out. “This isn’t the problem. Look, culturally I am very proud of my heritage. It’s the country of Ghandi. But this is a culture that still has servants. A caste system prevails and culture is used to allow the repression of LGBT+ rights. A force is used by those in political and social power to win people over on these issues.”

Singh remains hopeful that the law will change for a second time

This being said, India broke ground when it elected it’s first female Prime Minister. It’s the gay regressiveness and suppression of women that frustrates Singh beyond belief.

“I receive hundreds of messages on social media from people being attacked by their families for being gay, and they are allowed to do this. All because being gay is against the law,” he laments.

“We face real threats. Terrorism, climate change. People are shutting down airports while planes are in the air. My mother was in the Taj hotel in Mumbai days before there was an attack there in 2008. This is what leaders need to focus their energy on, not impeding upon other peoples’ love lives!”

So – will the law change, again?

“Damn right. And it will happen in my lifetime,” Singh insists. “If they abolished it in 2009, they’ll do it again. We live in dangerous but amazing times. The Prime Minister of Ireland is a gay Indian! I once told a table of people that a gay Indian female will one day lead the country. People walked out and cursed at me. But I believe it will happen, mark my words.”


Words: Andrew Bullock

Outlander Forum -- new community!

Monday, August 21st, 2017 09:55 am
jo: (outlander)
[personal profile] jo posting in [site community profile] dw_community_promo
Calling all fans of the Outlander books and/or TV series!

I don't have any clever graphics because I am not a clever-graphics person, but with the season 3 premiere fast approaching (September 10!), I invite all Outlander fans to join [community profile] outlander_forum, a discussion community for fans of the Starz TV adaptation and/or Diana Gabaldon's books. Please note that at this time, this is aiming to be purely a discussion forum, not a forum for fanworks (icons, fanfic, etc.) as there are other venues for that. This might change down the road, but for now, the focus will be on discussing the show, the books, and related issues.

All welcome!

[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Ars Staff

Enlarge (credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Higher and widescreen resolution. Redone character portraits. Real-time lighting. Less compressed audio. That's about the long and short of what's new in StarCraft: Remastered. For $15 you can bolt these nicer-looking and sounding features onto your existing copy of the 1998 classic. (Which, even if you somehow avoided buying a Battle Chest compilation for nearly 20 years, is now free in its unaltered form.)

I'll admit that this latest excuse to play the original StarCraft and its expansion, Brood War, appealed to me. Maybe it's because I was eight years old at the time, but the campaign's dark, sometimes comedic, sometimes horrific tale of space rednecks fighting giant bugs and psychic plant people has stuck with me like few games of the era. It certainly made more of an impression than the nonsensical science-fantasy soup that the series became across the StarCraft 2 trilogy.

Part of the StarCraft competitive scene is in the same boat, albeit for different reasons. "Quality of life" improvements, like better hotkeys and user interface options, made SC2 a fundamentally different experience than the first game and its expansion. It's more accessible for casual fans (like me), but high-level players have long expressed frustration that the sequels automate too much of Brood War's hands-on design. There's resurging interest in the original game among pro players and casters as a result.

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple's 'hidden' job ad found online

Monday, August 21st, 2017 01:13 pm
[syndicated profile] bbc_technology_news_feed
The advertisement for "a talented engineer" begins with the welcome: "Hey there! You found us."
[syndicated profile] bbc_technology_news_feed
Ricafort Gamboa is jailed for crashing while trying to reach 100mph to film Snapchat footage.
[syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

Posted by Will Stroude

Two Leicester City fans have been arrested on suspicion of “homophobic related offences” following the football club’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday (August 19)

Police confirmed that two arrests had been made after a group of supporters were ejected from the King Power Stadium during Leicester’s 2-0 home win over the Seagulls on Saturday (August 19) for homophobic chanting.

According to witnesses, a group of Leicester City supporters began chanting homophobic slurs at Brighton supporters around 20 minutes before the end of the match.

One fan, who did not want to be named, said the scenes harked back to the football hooliganism which marred the game during the late 20th century.

“We’ve encountered abuse over the years, but it’s all but gone from the game,” the fan told the Leicester Mercury.

“However, a group of around 20 to 30 Leicester City fans close to Brighton supporters suddenly started chanting vicious homophobic abuse and making homophobic gestures.

“It was like something out of the 1970s, and this sort of bigoted, small minded behaviour needs to be stopped and those involved ejected from the ground.”

A 44-year-old man has been charged with indecent chanting under Section 3 of the Football Offences Act and is due to appear at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (August 24), the BBC reports.

A second man aged 21 was arrested on suspicion of making obscene gestures was given a caution.

Leicester City have been quick to condemn the fans’ behaviour, and praised stadium stewards for swiftly removing those responsible.

A spokesperson said: “We are committed to creating a passionate, inclusive, welcoming environment at King Power Stadium, in which everyone is free to enjoy the matchday experience.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to educate our staff, senior King Power Stadium stewards undertook specialist training during the summer in effectively identifying offensive behaviour, including contributions from Leicester’s LGBT Centre on recognising homophobic abuse.

“While disappointed that such abuse took place during Saturday’s match, we are satisfied that our stewards reacted swiftly and appropriately, which led to the responsible minority being ejected from the stadium and reported to the police.”

More stories:
Aaron Carter says he’s not interested in dating men
Celebrity Big Brother’s Chad Johnson left exposed while getting intimate with Sarah Harding


On the Doug Anthony All-Stars

Monday, August 21st, 2017 02:21 pm
danieldwilliam: (Default)
[personal profile] danieldwilliam

I went to see the Doug Anthony All-Stars for my birthday. It was emotional.

Read more... )


About This Blog

Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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