Being a climate scientist is a pretty depressing job these days, since it involves predicting disaster and being ignored even when you’re not getting death threats and legal harassment. So to blow off a little steam, climate researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Southampton decided to create the scientific equivalent of fan fiction. The consequence is a climate model of the world in which Game of Thrones takes place.
Scouring the books for every weather reference they could find (rather a lot in a series obsessed with the coming of winter), the authors have created a climate model so detailed it explains the flight-path of Targaryen dragons across the Narrow Sea.
Sensing that a boring commitment to “fact” might make it hard to get such a paper published in the peer-reviewed journals of Earth, the authors have submitted their work to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of King’s Landing. Modestly, rather than publish under their own names, they attributed the work to Samwell Tarly, who has a particularly acute familiarity with how important the Westeros climate can be.
To ensure the widest dissemination, and because too much geekery is never enough, the work has also been published in Dothraki and High Valyrian, although Tarly complains that the Dothraki not being sailors have no word for “isobar”. There is also a twitter account where citizen scientists wishing to collaborate with Tarly can contact him.
Tarly observes that, despite the different lengths of the seasons, the climate at the Wall resembles that of Lapland, while Casterly Rock is similar to Houston – a warning the Lannisters are unlikely to heed. The season length, which others have attributed to everything from sunspots to the ridiculous notion of “magic”, Tarly explains as the consequence of chaotic tumbling of the planet’s axial tilt. Although Tarly is forced to guess the continents of the Southern Hemisphere, his work matches the books closely.
Chaotic axial tilt does little to alter climate sensitivity to greenhouse gasses, so emissions from dragons and deforestation for the purposes of shipbuilding may soften future winters. Desirable as this may be to keep White Walkers at bay, Tarly notes the consequences it would have on the low-lying parts of coastal cities, particularly Kings Landing. Consequently, Tarly calls on the rulers of the seven kingdoms to install windmills and use dragons sparingly.
The work follows in the footsteps of less challenging efforts by Radergast the Brown to simulate the climate of Middle Earth, noting the rainshadow of the Misty Mountains, the climatic similarity of The Shire to Leicestershire, and Mordor’s likeness to west Texas. Tarly and Radergast want spoilsports to know their work was unfunded and simulations run in their spare time.
After being fed all seven Potter tales, a predictive keyboard has produced a tale that veers from almost genuine to gloriously bonkers
JK Rowling must be thanking Dumbledore that she has her Cormoran Strike series to fall back on, after a predictive keyboard wrote a new Harry Potter story using her books and it became the funniest thing on the internet.
Magic: it was something that Harry Potter thought was very good. Well, thats not wrong. And the following sounds plausibly Pottery: Leathery sheets of rain lashed at Harrys ghost as he walked across the grounds towards the castle. Ron was standing there and doing a kind of frenzied tap dance.
So far, so Ron. But then:
He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermiones family. Rons Ron shirt was just as bad as Ron himself.
If you two cant clump happily, Im going to get aggressive, confessed the reasonable Hermione.
It continues in this vein: almost making sense, but mostly just gloriously bonkers, like: To Harry, Ron was a loud, slow, and soft bird. Harry did not like to think about birds. And my favourite: They looked at the door, screaming about how closed it was and asking it to be replaced with a small orb. The password was BEEF WOMEN, Hermione cried.
Botnik describes itself as a human-machine entertainment studio and writing community, with members including former Clickhole head writer Jamie Brew, and former New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. The predictive text keyboard is its first writing tool it works, Botnik explains, by analysing a body of text to find combinations of words likely to follow each other based on the grammar and vocabulary used. As this New Statesman feature says, the results are: at once faintly recognisable and completely absurd.
We use computational tools to create strange new things, says the company on its website. We would like, selfishly, not to replace humanity with algorithms. instead, we want to find natural ways for people and machines to interact to create what neither would have created alone.
As well as the Potter chapter, Botnik has also created incredible TV scripts for Scrubs and Seinfeld (Dating is the opposite of tuna, salmon is the opposite of everything else. Im sure you know what I mean, says Jerry). Its tried romance (Hot guy Jeff is devastatingly sexy and steamy. Hes got a really simple rule: be the ultimate playboy and get through one day without crying), Halloween safety tips (The Bible says that children love when we dress them like pumpkins and eat their regular clothes) and teenage advice columns as well. All are fabulous.
Dan Rather was a defining voice of his generation, and he took to Facebook on Monday to voice his concerns over the state of the nation, calling it an “era of moral rot and the defiling of our communal, social, and democratic norms.”
In his post, the 86-year-old veteran television journalist wrote an impassioned takedown of the Republican Party’s tax bill.
“Wealth can never be a measure of worth,” Rather wrote, going on to describe working-class Americans he said exemplify his vision of the U.S.
“I have seen the librarian reshelving books, the firefighter, police officer, and paramedic in service in trying times, the social worker helping the elderly and infirm, the youth sports coaches, the PTA presidents, and in them I see America,” he wrote.
Rather’s post, which had garnered 62,000 reactions four hours after he posted it, was a response to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). On Monday, the senator defended repealing estate tax by saying it “recognizes the people that are investing.”
“As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” Grassley said.
The tax bill the Senate passed on Saturday would not eliminate the estate tax, also known as the “death tax,” which taxes 40 percent on estates worth $10 million or more. But many of the measures actually contained in the bill have been criticized by Democrats for their potential to help the very wealthy—and rely on trickle-down economics for middle-class people to reap any benefits.
Rather, who spent more than 40 years as a correspondent and anchor for CBS News, said the “power brokers in Washington today seem deaf” to the wants and needs of the types of people he described, from public school teachers to immigrants to science students.
“These, and so many other Americans, have every bit as much claim to a government working for them as the lobbyists and moneyed classes,” Rather wrote. He also directly attacked Grassley’s statement.
“What is so wrong about those who must worry about the cost of a drink with friends, or a date, or a little entertainment, to rephrase Senator Grassley’s demeaning phrasings?” Rather wrote. “Those who can’t afford not to worry about food, shelter, healthcare, education for their children, and all the other costs of modern life, surely they too deserve to be able to spend some of their ‘darn pennies’ on the simple joys of life.”
Rather called the tax bill and Republicans’ viewpoints “top-down class warfare run amok.”
How Practical is it to live off of Bitcoin?
“Grassley’s comments open a window to the soul of the current national Republican Party,” Rather wrote, “and it it is not pretty.”
The essence and meaning of transcendent love between two people—the kernel of human existence—is often found in the crucible of war. Such was the love between Bosko, a Serbian boy, and Admira, a Bosnian girl, who were caught in one of the most barbaric and brutal periods of the last century: the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2AdQOCr
Indie Reader Review:
CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is a novel about enduring love in impossible circumstances. Bosko is a handsome and charming Orthodox Serb. Admira is a Muslim Bosnian with gypsy blood running through her veins. In spite of their religious and ethnic differences, when they meet at a New Year’s Eve party and share a kiss they know that it’s fate. As Yugoslavia begins to splinter and lines are drawn between ethnic groups, the couple will have to fight to stay together — and alive.
CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is meticulously crafted, drawing on ample historical details to bring to life one of the most horrifying events of the 20th century: the siege of Sarajevo. Based on the real-life love story of Bosko Brkic and Admira Ismic whose heart-wrenching tale captivated the world in the 1990s, Victor Harrington’s novel is a powerful reminder that love can prevail in even the most brutal conditions.
While it is a love story, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is also very much a stark examination of the cruelty of war. In its pages, we see the best and the worst of humanity. As Sarajevo is under attack, life comes a matter of day-to-day survival. Serbs and Bosnians are pitted against each other, but Bosko and Admira refuse to let their love become another casualty. Rather than allowing their relationship to dominate the narrative, Harrington uses it to contrast their grim surroundings, highlighting the senselessness of war and the resilience of the human spirit.
Superbly written and well-researched, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL portrays one of the most ruthless periods of modern history in haunting prose. Harrington does not hold back in his depiction of the ethnic cleansing that took place during this tumultuous time and reminds us through Bosko’s friend, Matko, of our responsibility to safeguard life. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” says Matko; these words remain relevant today.
Ultimately, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is a tribute to that most powerful of emotions which rules us all: love. Admira and Bosko are vivid characters who stick with you long after the final page has been read, almost as if they are begging you to remember that, in the end, love must triumph over hate.
~Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon for IndieReader
Author Victor Harrington has the quintessential writer’s family history. The adventure began in 1850 when Edward, an Englishman in the British Army, fell in love with a Muslim princess whose family lived in Agra. Victor’s American paternal great-grand-mother was the daughter of a Presbyterian pastor from New England. The author was born in India in 1958, and his family immigrated to Canada in the late 1960s.
For Victor, New York remains a city that creates its own temporal distortion where a writer can observe, for a moment, the many worlds past, present, and future that make up the space-time continuum of his city.
Charmer Boy, Gypsy Girl is Victor Harrington’s first novel, and he has recently completed his second.
Who doesn’t want their own secret room to escape to when all the worries of the world become too much?
Nobody, that’s who. Besides being infinitely cool, they bring out our inner children and promise a private hideaway where no one can find us. That’s why a fair number of people take on the awesome project of building their own, complete with sneaky bookcase and all. Redditor whiteboywasted took it a step further when he bought his first home and built a “magic mirror” with an old PC monitor, two-way glass, and a Raspberry Pi 2, which is a tiny, single-board computer.
Whiteboywasted found the perfect spot for a secret doorway between the master bedroom and an extra room that can only be accessed one way. First he removed the old door and frame, making room for the new one.
Here’s the view from the other side, where whiteboywasted installed a middle panel that drops down, revealing the screen. He also attached a metal strike plate, as he plans on adding an electromagnetic lock in the future.
People on Twitter declared the lengthy document, which named migrants who had died journeying to the continent since 1993, “heartbreaking” and “shameful.”
But the worst part is, the list of thousands likely reflects less than half of those who have actually died trying to get to Europe in the last couple of decades, said Geert Ates, director of the nonprofit United for Intercultural Action, which created the list. The list is also nothing new ― United has been compiling and releasing it to the public annually since the 1990s.
“We had thousands of cases in the 1990s. We thought media would care, but nobody was interested when we published the first list, nor when we published 10,000,” Ates told HuffPost on Wednesday. “Now we have 30,000 names and all of a sudden everybody jumps on the list. I don’t know why.”
“Once a year, we publish the list. Once a year we make the call: People are dying at our borders, and no one does anything to stop it,” he added.
Why the list is only a fraction of those who have actually died
It’s a difficult task to track all of the migrants who have died while traveling to Europe, whether they perished while crossing its borders on land or while traveling to its shores by sea. Hundreds of thousands journey each year across the Mediterranean alone, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Tracking those who have drowned is particularly difficult.
What’s more, United’s list doesn’t even account for migrants who have died on the African continent, many of whom may have been journeying across countries toward Europe but perished before making it to the Mediterranean.
“Most probably thousands more are never found,” Ates said. “Many are frozen in mountains, or boats disappeared or smugglers let the boat sink.”
“When a boat sinks, the survivors estimate how many they were on the boat, but that can well be wrong,” he added. “And their families will have no idea.”
Even when a body is found, it’s another challenge to identify it, as many migrants travel without documents, with fake names, or have lost papers along the way, Ates noted. Just a cursory glance at United’s list shows just how hard naming the dead can be: The vast majority are listed as “N.N.” ― or “no name.”
One line from February 2016, for instance, lists the deaths of a 14-year-old girl and a 40-year-old woman as “N.N., Iraq, froze to death after crossing the river from Turkey to Bulgaria.” Another line from April 2017 records the deaths of an 8-year-old boy and a pregnant woman as “N.N., unknown, died on sea from Libya to Italy.”
“We get calls from family in Africa,” Ates told HuffPost. “‘Do you know where my brother is? He went to Europe and disappeared.’”
As the number of migrants dying has grown, efforts to account for them have gotten better
So far this year, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) has counted more than 3,000 migrants who have died journeying across the Mediterranean or in Europe, fleeing war or persecution or simply seeking a better life.
Over the past few years, the number of migrants dying on their way to Europe has swelled, from more than 3,200 in 2014, to close to 4,000 in 2015 to a record of more than 5,000 last year. The vast majority die in the Mediterranean as smugglers take them on dangerous trips in boats unfit to carry so many across such distances.
United has been keeping track of migrants who have died while traveling to Europe since 1993, counting those who perished at sea, on land while crossing borders or in detention centers. For decades it was one of the only groups compiling a systematic list of migrant deaths in Europe. A handful of volunteers would release the list each year, compiling it by scouring local news reports, collecting information from the group’s now-550 partner organizations across 48 countries, and enlisting help from journalists and researchers.
While the numbers on United’s list ― and in IOM’s reports ― are staggering, neither group can possibly capture every single death, Ates said.
For us the figure is not the most important. Each unnecessary death is one too many.Geert Ates, director of United for Intercultural Action
Ates estimates that United’s numbers from its early years in the 1990s accounted for only about 30 percent of actual deaths. Their network of partners was smaller then, and Google alerts didn’t exist, making tracking local newspaper reports of deaths harder.
In recent years, as governments and international organizations like IOM have also started efforts to track, Ates estimates the figures are closer to capturing information on 80 percent of those who have died.
“It’s hard to give a figure, but surely 50,000 [have been uncounted] since 1993, and probably 80,000,” Ates wrote HuffPost by email. “For us the figure is not the most important. Each unnecessary death is one too many.”
This is what happens when countries close their borders
A few years ago, I was asked to work on a book project for a blogger and internet entrepreneur in the finance space. This was a person with an enormous list and a very successful business. They had more than 100,000 email subscribers, and from the paying subscribers they had created a business worth several million dollars annually.
As I sat down and read the emails and articles that this site created, looking for the bones we’d build a book around, I quickly ran into a problem: this person was not actually saying anything at all.
The emails were very compelling, don’t misunderstand. They sucked me from sentence to sentence, paragraph break to paragraph break, and then from one article to the next. They were in fact brilliantly written. I just could not figure out what this person was actually selling. The best I could come up with, after really digging into it, for hours and hours, was that the entire premise of this person’s pitch was: Buy options on stocks that go up in value.
Now, I’m certainly a proponent of simplicity and I will grant that often the most powerful messages are the most obvious ones, but that’s not what was happening here. Skilled copywriting and marketing was covering up an undeniable fact: There was basically nothing there. And as a result, it didn’t matter how big the email list was, how great a marketer the owner was, there was not much in the way of a book there. Because a book is about something.
In the short term, this had worked well for him. It kept people coming back subscribed to the emails, thinking that eventually the secrets were going to be revealed. In truth that was never going to happen. It was one of those situations that Gertrude Stein famously said, one where there is no there there.
It’s great to know your why, but if you haven’t nailed down your there, as in, what the hell is this?, that’s a big problem. One that you can only cover for with marketing or being ahead of the curve technologically for so long.
Much of the work that’s created online falls into this category. It’s not that Lele Pons or Amanda Cerny or Logan Paul aren’t funny. Humor is subjective. It’s that there is genuinely nothing there. When one watches their work, you can’t help but feel, as Marc Maron perfectly described, that you are actually being assaulted by a lack of talent. To paraphrase a burn from a classic New York Times piece, while it’s true that less is more, some sadly set new standards of lessness, and actually bask in the void of lessness.
This critique is not limited to art, it’s true for people too. The person who says their passion is social entrepreneurship but builds nothing and cares about no one. The person who pontificates about every political and cultural issue they can but never departs from a party line or leaves a virtue unsignaled. There is nothing actually there. And they wonder why they never accomplish anything. One of the ironies of Donald Trump, of course, is that a portion of the population responded to him because he seemed authentic and real and stood for things. In fact, he was a crazy mess of contradictions and this allowed him to provoke that reaction from all sorts of different people on different issues. But he was able to win because his opponent, someone far more qualified for the office, could not, for the life of her, give a compelling answer to the question: “Why are you running for president?”
Without a there, what is there? There is nothing.
And yet this is the strategy that most people allow to guide their work and their lives.
Pete Carroll, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, talks often about the moment that he realized that he didn’t actually have a coaching philosophy. He had, up until that point, just been winging it—doing a little of this, a little of that, changing for each situation. How old was he when he figured that out? 49! (Thank God he did figure it out—and within 14 years he’d won a national championship and a Super Bowl).
It’s essential that we cultivate this ability to stop and look objectively at our own work. One must step back from it and say: Am I really doing good work here? What do I stand for? Am I actually moving towards mastery? Is there any substance to what I am doing?
I know this is not easy to do. I’ve resisted it too. There’s a story I’ve told before, but I’ll do it again: Early in my career, a piece I did on Stoicism took off and I got some interest from a small, hybrid publishing house about turning it into a book. “This would be a great book,” they said, “Many of our clients turn articles like this into books and then speaking careers.” Of course, I was flattered and excited. It was only by the intervention of Robert Greene, a real writer and a mentor of mine, who pushed me to decline. “You’re not ready,” he said. “Put in the work to develop yourself and in a few years you will be capable of actually doing this book at the level it deserves to be done.” He was right. There was not much there there, for me yet. When I looked at the material, I saw that I only had enough for a few chapters.
People often think that ego is helpful because it makes people ambitious. It makes them confident that they can succeed where so many others have failed. This might be true, but more often it’s toxic for precisely the reasons that I have outlined above. To make work that actually sells—that is perennial and important and meaningful—requires humility and dedication. It requires the objectivity and awareness that is made impossible with ego. Ego wants big numbers, not hard work. It wants to be everything for everyone, and often ends up being nothing for nobody.
The client above thought I could slap together a book—but I couldn’t. No one could. And he didn’t like hearing it when I told him that to succeed as a writer outside of his niche (where he was admittedly quite successful), it would require real work. It would require abandoning the crutches of medium. They didn’t, and that’s fine. Their choice.
But if you want to do meaningful and important work you have to push yourself toward substance, stretch your capacities until they are no longer such a stretch. If you want to be a person who people respect, you have to stand for something. Not everyone will like it, but if it’s sincere, they will respect it.
Announcing the change, justice minister Dominic Raab said: “Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.”
A new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is also to be created.
‘This is something serious’
A woman who lost her partner to a driver distracted by his mobile phone believes a life sentence may be the deterrent needed to make drivers take more care.
Meg Williamson’s Australian boyfriend Gavin Roberts, 28, died after his BMW was hit by a Vauxhall Corsa driven by Lewis Stratford on the A34 in Oxfordshire in June 2016.
Stratford, who was speeding and having an argument with his girlfriend over the phone, admitted death by dangerous driving and was jailed for three years and eight months in March.
Ms Williamson told BBC Radio 5 live that if a harsher sentence had been in place at the time “it might have prevented Lewis from doing what he did”.
She said: “It’s about re-educating people now. I think it might just take that one person to get the life imprisonment if some fatality occurs then people will start to realize this is something serious.”
Ms Williamson met Stratford, who was also badly hurt in the crash, before he was sentenced at Reading Crown Court.
She said the meeting had been difficult but had helped them both move towards “closure”.
She said: “In time I think I will forgive him. It’s something everybody has got to live with.
“He now has to live with the guilt of what he has done and we are all dealing with the fact that somebody is missing from our life on a daily basis.”
The changes follow a public consultation in December 2016 which generated 9,000 responses.
Of them, 70% backed increasing the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving from the current 14 years to a life term.
Death by careless driving carries a maximum term of five years, increasing to 14 years if alcohol or drugs are involved.
Last week a man who killed a nine-year-old boy while driving at more than double the speed limit was jailed for four years.
Atif Dayaji, 27, had admitted death by dangerous driving after hitting Adam Imfal-Limbada while travelling at about 67mph (108kph) in a 30mph (48kph) zone in Blackburn, Lancashire, in August 2016.
Department for Transport figures show that while three in five killer drivers are jailed, the average sentence is four years.
In 2016, 157 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and 32 were convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence, the MoJ said.
Brake has argued that penalties faced by drivers who kill and injure are “grossly inadequate” and cause added anguish to their families.
Jason Wakeford, Brake’s director of campaigns, said: “We applaud the government for at last recognising that the statute books have been weighed against thousands of families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have flagrantly broken the law.”
Mr Scott argued that the announcement was a “crowd-pleasing gesture” and that life sentences “should be reserved for the most serious offences”.
He told BBC Radio 5 live: “Bad though it is and wrong though it is, taking out a mobile phone while driving without any intention to cause death, I don’t consider that is the sort of behaviour that could possibly justify a life sentence.”
“Many years ago, when Scripps, which also owns Food Network, signed Rachael Ray, they didn’t think about Rachael starting a magazine, launching product lines, getting endorsement deals and her books selling millions of copies. And so while Food Network turned Rachael Ray into a star, she made tens of millions and Scripps got none of it. After Rachael, they made sure no talent deal would ever put them in that situation again. Since the Gaineses were relatively unknown when they started, they signed the general Scripps talent contract.”
The source went on to add:
“Scripps talent contracts are very restrictive. The talent can’t do anything without their approval — any appearance, any publicity, any endorsement, any product — you have to ask them for permission. It is awful. And on top of that, Scripps takes a big percentage of everything you make — books, appearances, endorsements, products. If you make money, they take most of the money.”
So it sounds like the Gaines’ are ready to take their talents elsewhere for more money and more control:
“As Chip and Joanna grew more famous and popular over the years, the HGTV conceded to a few changes to their contract — like not taking a percentage of their Target collection — but they still wanted the Gaineses to shoot long days, promote the show and just work their butts off. So they are using this end of their contract as a total renegotiation to get the deal they really want: more money, less work, more control. The timing of Discovery buying Scripps worked well in their favor. With Discovery hopefully now about to own Scripps, they are rolling the dice thinking the new owners will come running after them and give them the deal they really want.”
Considering Chip and Joanna’s popularity, we can’t imagine Discovery not wanting to hop on board!