IBM announced this afternoon that it will acquire open-source software company Red Hat for $34 billion. The deal will help IBM expand its reach as an enterprise cloud computing provider.
Red Hat describes itself as a leading provider of open source software and services for enterprise customers, focusing on cloud computing and Linux servers. In 2012, it became the first company providing open-source software to surpass $1 billion in revenue. It will now become a part of IBM’s Hybrid Cloud division.
In its release, IBM says that its services will allow more businesses to shift their operations online, and that the proprietary nature of existing cloud systems means that it’s harder to move and secure data from system to system.
IBM says that the acquisition will allow it to expand its cloud computing offerings. Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty says that “most companies today are only 20 percent along their cloud journey, renting [computer] power to cut costs. The next 80 percent is about unlocking real business value and driving growth.” For its part, Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst noted that IBM will allow his company reach a far wider audience, and that IBM will preserving the company’s “unwavering commitment to open source innovation.”
According to Reuters, the deal is the largest that IBM has undertaken, and CBNC notes that IBM recently reported slowing earnings recently, as it works to catch up to the likes of Microsoft and Amazon’s own enterprise cloud business. Once a major hardware manufacturer, the company has shifted focus since the 1990s to focus on enterprise and web hosting services.
Gab, the controversial social network with a far-right following, has pulled its website offline after domain provider GoDaddy gave it 24 hours to move to another service. The move comes as other companies including PayPal, Medium, Stripe, and Joyent blocked Gab over the weekend. It had emerged that Robert Bowers, who allegedly shot and killed eleven people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, had a history of posting anti-Semitic messages on Gab.
GoDaddy confirmed its decision in a statement to The Verge.
“We have informed Gab.com that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service. In response to complaints received over the weekend, GoDaddy investigated and discovered numerous instances of content on the site that both promotes and encourages violence against people.”
Gab is presently inaccessible through its website, with a message stating that the company is “under attack” and “working around the clock to get Gab.com back online” with a new provider. “We have been smeared by the mainstream media for defending free expression and individual liberty for all people and for working with law enforcement to ensure that justice is served for the horrible atrocity committed in Pittsburgh,” the statement reads.
Yesterday Gab’s Twitter account said that the network would “likely be down for weeks” because of hosting provider Joyent’s decision to pull support, though a more recent tweet today suggests it will be “back soon.”
GoDaddy similarly cut off support for neo-Nazi news site the Daily Stormer following an article that was published about Heather Heyer, who was killed during the protests in Charlottesville last year. Meanwhile, major companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have taken various steps to remove Gab from their platforms.
This new icon, which 9to5Mac says is found within iOS, provides a much better look at the upcoming device, showing off thin bezels, rounded corners, no notch, and no home button. The icon also shows off a the volume buttons on the side, with a sleep/wake button on the top. The site notes that the screen doesn’t appear to be edge-to-edge, but speculates that the bezels could be slightly larger due to how the icon itself is constructed.
This fits with the widespread rumors that we’ve seen pop up this fall: that the iPads will have a larger display, and that it’ll have the Face ID system that will allow you to unlock the device by looking at it, although there doesn’t appear to be a notch like the iPhones. Other rumors include that the new iPads will come with USB-C ports, an updated Apple Pencil, and possibly no headphone jack, following in the footsteps of recent iPhones.
You may have noticed that in the last two months, this column has largely centered on scary movies. That’s because Halloween is obviously the best holiday of the year, which leaves me in a bit of a quandary for November. What am I going to do, focus on really awesome Thanksgiving movies? That’s clearly not an option because there really is no such thing (except for maybe Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but let’s not get bogged down with semantics). So let’s just get down to it.
This month, Netflix easily has the most interesting additions, including the final (and Kevin Spacey-free) season of House of Cards, the Chris Pine historical epic The Outlaw King, and a double dose of Orson Welles: the service will be debuting his long-unfinished-but-now-finally-completed film The Other Side of the Wind as well as They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, which documents the creation of that film. Netflix is also swinging for the prestige fences with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the newest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, and it’s also dialing in on retro nostalgia with the new animated series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
Amazon Prime has its own things to offer, including Homecoming, the new Julia Roberts series from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, the second season of the service’s Patriot, as well as the drama Mirzapur and season 3 of The Expanse. There’s also an assortment of films coming to Prime, including the original Child’s Play, Terms of Endearment, Weird Science, and Kick-Ass.
HBO Now has a much more subdued lineup of new titles for November, including The Truth About Killer Robots, the season premiere of Room 104, and the debuts of new shows Sally4Ever and My Brilliant Friend. HBO Now also has several movies joining the service that are worth calling out, including the new Tomb Raider, Pacific Rim: Uprising, and Annabelle: Creation.
We’ve included the full list of titles for all three services below.
Coming to Netflix
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Bring It On: In It to Win It
Children of Men
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Fair Game – Director’s Cut
Follow This: Part 3
From Dusk Till Dawn
Good Will Hunting
Jet Li’s Fearless
Julie & Julia
Katt Williams: The Pimp Chronicles: Pt. 1
National Lampoon’s Animal House
Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow
Scary Movie 2
Scary Movie 3
Sex and the City: The Movie
The English Patient
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
House of Cards, season 6
ReMastered: Tricky Dick & The Man in Black
The Holiday Calendar
The Other Side of the Wind
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead
Trolls: The Beat Goes On!, season 4
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, (streaming every Sunday, starting October 28th)
Homecoming, season 1
John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons
Into the Forest
The Sea of Trees
Beat Bugs, season 3
La Reina del Flow
Medal of Honor
Spirit Riding Free, season 7
The Great British Baking Show: Collection 6
Treehouse Detectives, season 2
Loudon Wainwright III: Surviving Twin
Oh My Ghost
May The Devil Take You
Ponysitters Club, season 2
Prince of Peoria
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Kominsky Method
The Princess Switch
The Pixar Story
The Last Kingdom, season 3
Kulipari: Dream Walker
The Final Table
Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet
The Christmas Chronicles
Frontier, season 3
Sick Note, season 2
To Build or Not to Build, season 2
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Best Gift Ever
Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross & Dave Attel
Pocoyo, season 4
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
Death by Magic
F is for Family, season 3
Happy as Lazzaro
Spy Kids: Mission Critical, season 2
The World Is Yours
Cruel Intentions 2
Cruel Intentions 3
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Jurassic Park III
Run to me
Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball
The Land Before Time
The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure
The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving
The Lazarus Effect
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Up in the Air
Undercover Boss, seasons 1-5
Coming to Amazon Prime Video
Assault on Precinct 13
Candyman: Day of the Dead
Christmas with the Kranks
Die Another Day
Duck, You Sucker (A Fistful of Dynamite)
Guns of the Magnificent Seven
Hostel: Part II
Leaving Las Vegas
Little Man Tate
Lord of War
Making Contact (Joey)
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
Terms of Endearment
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
The Adventures of Tintin
The Living Daylights
The Magnificent Seven Ride!
The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)
The Red Violin (Le violon rouge)
The World Is Not Enough
Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween
Homecoming, season 1
The Durrells in Corfu, season 3
Thursday Night Football: Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Beat, season 1
Little Big Awesome, season 1b
Patriot, season 2
The Children Act
The Expanse, season 3
Thursday Night Football: Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams
Gymkhana Files, season 1
Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny
Mirzapur, season 1
Creative Galaxy: Arty’s Holiday Masterpiece
Little Women, season 1
Pete the Cat: A Very Groovy Christmas
Box of Moon Light
Wild Kratts: Creatures of the Deep Sea
Thursday Night Football: New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys
Inside Jokes, season 1
Coming to HBO Now
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Extended Version)
Anywhere But Here
Cheaper By the Dozen
Cradle 2 the Grave
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Diez minutos antes
Edge of Darkness
HBO First Look: Bohemian Rhapsody
Head Over Heels
In the Name of the Father
Knight and Day (Extended Version)
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Vampires Suck (Extended Version)
Without a Trace
Tracey Ullman’s Show, season 3 finale
Fifty Shades Freed (Extended Version)
Pod Save America, series finale
Axios, documentary series premiere
The Deuce, season 2 finale
We Are Not Done Yet
Room 104, season 2 premiere
Esme & Roy, season 1A finale
When You Wish Upon a Pickle: A Sesame Street Special
Sally4Ever, season 1 premiere
The Price of Everything
24/7 The Match: Tiger vs. Phil
The Emperor’s Newest Clothes
Entre Nos: Orlando Leyba
Pacific Rim: Uprising
Real Time with Bill Maher, season 16 finale
Sesame Street, season 49 premiere
My Brilliant Friend, series premiere
Chumel Con Chumel Torres, season 3 finale
HBO First Look: The Favourite
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, season 5 finale
Hombre de Fe
Axios, Documentary Series Finale
The Truth About Killer Robots
Leaving HBO Now
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Live By Night
A Sound of Thunder
The Devil Wears Prada
The Door in the Floor
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
In the Army Now
National Lampoon’s Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj
Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian
The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie
We’ve already seen lubricant-infused coatings that repel virtually all substances – such coatings could be used to keep airplane wings ice-free, or to stop bacteria from accumulating in kitchens. However, what if you want to repel all substances except one? Well, Canadian scientists have now got that covered.
Led by Dr. Tohid Didar, a team at McMaster University has created a surface coating that is capable of absorbing a single “target” substance, while causing all others to roll off. Like the previously-developed coatings that repel all substances, this one also incorporates a lubricant, but there’s a special added ingredient.
“We immobilize a very thin layer of an FDA approved lubricant on the surface (thinner than the human hair) and attach some specific bio molecules to this thin lubricant layer that specifically bind to our target species,” Didar tells us. “So the lubricant repels everything and the biomolecules capture the target species.”
Among other things, the coating could potentially be used on medical implants – it would reduce the risk of clot-formation and infection by repelling blood cells and bacteria (along with just about everything else), while simultaneously adhering to muscle, organ or bone cells in order to boost integration and thus lessen the chances of rejection.
The technology could also simplify the testing of bodily fluids such as blood or urine, absorbing only targeted viruses, bacteria or cells.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Nano.
You want to be there for your loved ones — especially those who are up there in age — no matter what, so that you can prevent the worst from happening. When you can’t be there, Walabot Home can serve as your eyes. This smart home device can sense if a person has fallen in their home and will call for help without hesitation.
It’s best to think of Walabot Home as sort of a central nervous system that keeps track of a person as they move throughout the home. The small and slim device uses a sensor system that sends out low-power radio wave technology similar to Wi-Fi signals to determine a person’s location.
This provides a number of advantages. For one, it allows Walabot to sense a person through walls and curtains that would otherwise obstruct a camera. Second, it can monitor areas that other systems can’t, including the bathroom, without requiring any sort of wearable device. Finally, it’s far less invasive than a camera-based system that requires a person to surrender their privacy in order to ensure their safety.
“There are a staggering number of adults who fall in their own homes every year. Most falls happen without anybody else knowing that the event occurred,” Raviv Melamed, co-founder and CEO of Walbot Home manufacturer Vayyar, said in a statement. “People want to feel comfortable in their homes without the burden of needing to wear a pendant or medical alert device, but they still want the security of knowing that they can get help if they need it. Walabot Home is so effective because people can set it up and then relax, feeling secure in the knowledge it’s there just in case.”
The situations that require a system like Walabot are unfortunately rather common. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29 million people over the age of 65 fall every year in the United States. Those falls result in about seven million injuries and can have long-lasting effects on the body. Walabot can’t prevent those falls, but it can speed up the response time to make sure emergency services is alerted immediately and arrives as quickly as possible.
Walabot Home retails for $250 and doesn’t require a monthly payment subscription as most monitoring services do. The device is available through Walabot’s website.
Heatherwick Studio has done a stellar job melding old and new with its latest project, Coal Drops Yard. The firm turned two dilapidated Victorian-era coal storage buildings in London into a large new shopping center crowned by a stunning roof structure.
Coal Drops Yard is centered around two ornate iron and brick railway buildings dating back to around the 1850s. The buildings were originally used to store coal delivered from northern England, which was then transferred around London by barge and horse-drawn cart. Over the years, the buildings were variously used for warehousing and as nightclubs, before becoming partially derelict in the 1990s.
Heatherwick’s design extends the two buildings and two viaducts also on the site with massive new roofs that project outwards and meet in mid-air. The large roofs create additional retail space, as well as a covered outdoor area below. Elsewhere, the shopping center includes restaurants, bars, and cafes.
“The design extends the inner gabled roofs of the warehouses to link the two viaducts and define the yard, as well as creating fluid patterns of circulation,” says the firm. “The flowing roofs, supported by an entirely new and highly technical freestanding structure interlaced within the heritage fabric, rise up and stretch towards each other until they touch. This forms an entirely new floating upper story, a large covered outdoor space and a central focus for the entire site.”
The graceful appearance of the roofs belie their complexity. They feature a support structure comprising 52 steel columns, which were concealed behind old brick and iron. The curved roof sections are made from a steel framework and, in a nice touch, the 80,000 slate tiles that cover the roofs were drawn from the same slate quarry in North Wales used when constructing the original buildings over 150 years ago.
Additionally, a total of 64 panels of structural glass are arranged in a serrated pattern ensure panoramic views from the top floors.
Coal Drops Yard is Thomas Heatherwick’s first project in his native London (Garden Bridge would have been another). It won’t be his last though, and his firm is also collaborating with Bjarke Ingels Group to design Google’s new HQ, the “landscraper,” in the capital.
Virtual reality may be able to transport you to spectacular other worlds, but a large part of its promise is the ability to also put you into the shoes of other people. In doing so, the hope is that VR could help make us more empathetic, since it gives us the ability to literally experience life from another person’s perspective.
That’s what VR studio Embodied Labs hopes to do. Based in Los Angeles — arguably the entertainment capital of the world — Embodied Labs wants to use cutting edge virtual reality to do something more than provide escapism. It wants to use it to promote empathy. And it wants to do it in such a way that can help train tomorrow’s caregivers.
We’ve previously covered Embodied Labs’ work creating a virtual experience intended to simulate the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Called “The Beatriz Lab: A Journey Through Alzheimer’s Disease,” it follow the fictitious character Beatriz, a math teacher in her 60s, as she grapples with the neurodegenerative disease. Now Embodied Labs is back with another virtual training tool, this time designed to function as an end-of-life simulation for educating staff and medical students in hospices, hospitals, and universities. It’s currently being used at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough, Maine, as well as by medical students at the University of New England.
The 30-minute simulation places users in the role of “Clay,” a 66-year-old lung cancer patient in need of hospice care. During the course of the VR story, Clay has important conversations with family, suffers a fall that puts him in the E.R., and eventually winds up in hospice care. Through simulating physical changes in virtual reality — such as how Clay’s skin alters and his senses dull — the user also gets to feel some approximation of what it would be like to experience end-stage cancer. By the end of the experience, Clay’s eyesight becomes dim as his life comes to a close. For anyone who associates VR predominantly with gaming, the effect is surprisingly poignant.
“The embodied experience includes receiving a terminal diagnosis from your oncologist, counseling from your case manager, and care from your hospice provider and family, and ultimately, it involves reaching the end of your life,” Erin Washington, co-founder and COO at Embodied Labs, told Digital Trends. “By embodying Clay, people gain insights into challenges faced by patients and families when curative treatment is not available, learn how hospice care supports loved ones, and explore the physical, spiritual, and mental changes that may occur at end of life.”
Through its painstakingly created and very human VR experiences, the company has cornered the market on a type of next-generation training tool. It provides an experience that caregivers or clinicians cannot get simply by reading textbooks.
“Embodied Labs creates immersive training and wellness tools for healthcare students, and for professional and family caregivers, so they can feel more empowered and confident in having the difficult conversations that surround end-of-life decisions,” Washington continued. “Organizations such as skilled nursing facilities, medical schools, hospice and home care agencies, and assisted-living providers use Embodied Labs to improve outcomes, operations, and culture.”
In addition to creating its experiences, Embodied Labs creates customized assessment questions to be answered before and after staff and students sample a VR scenario. This qualitative and quantitative data can then be used to provide new insights, on the part of professionals, into things such as how conversations about end-of-life are carried out.
But does this actually work, or is this a case of creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t actually exist? In fact, according to a new piece of research, virtual reality really be prove to be a useful tool in encouraging empathy.
In a study published this month in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, researchers from Stanford University compared the attitudes of people who had read a first-person narrative piece of writing about homelessness, those who had experienced a 2D interactive narrative about it on computer, and those who had undergone a perspective-taking VR scenario on the same topic. They found that the people who had experienced the VR simulation were more likely to sign a petition to support homeless populations. Follow-up surveys also found that they experienced longer-lasting empathetic feelings than those who had done the narrative-reading task.
Of course, there are problematic aspects with the idea of building empathy through VR. A 30-minute simulation about end-of-life conversations is not the same thing as experiencing it for real. A person really experiencing the effects of homelessness or discriminatory activity cannot simply take off their headset when they decide they’ve had enough of their life circumstances. Attempts to “gamify” complex scenarios risk inadvertently diminishing them, and carry the chance of turning something intended for good into something exploitative.
However, properly considered, there is room for virtual reality as a teaching tool. Certainly, it needs the proper care and attention of trained professionals, and it shouldn’t be considered a substitute for other forms of teaching. But as something that we’re glad to see being explored? Absolutely. And if it potentially means more empathetic treatment for yourself and your fellow human beings, you should be, too.
Earlier today, a gunman walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and killed eleven people before being apprehended by police. The suspect has since been identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, who appears to have had a history of anti-Semitic speech on the social network Gab. Following these revelations, Paypal banned the site from its payment platform — the latest action taken against the troublesome social network by a major technology company.
In a statement to The Verge, a PayPal spokesperson confirmed the ban, citing hate speech as a reason for the action:
The company is diligent in performing reviews and taking account actions. When a site is explicitly allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action.
Almost immediately after the shooter’s identity was revealed by media outlets, screenshots of his profile on Gab appeared, revealing a slew of anti-Semitic rants. Gab released a statement on Medium, saying that it “unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence,” but it has long been welcoming of hate speech on its platform. It says that it contacted law enforcement officials after it was notified that Bowers had a profile on the site, and that it turned over relevant information to them before suspending his account.
Since Paypal’s action, Gab’s Twitter feed has struck out at Facebook and Twitter, saying that it doesn’t “allow terrorists on our platform,” and dismissed the idea that the rhetoric on its platform translates into real-world violence. But researchers have found that anti-Semitic messaging on online platforms is on the rise, and the attempted bombing of prominent Trump critics in the past week has put a spotlight on the role that online rhetoric has played in recent weeks, months, and years.
I recently got an ad for Solitaire 95 on Instagram. I don’t know what I did to piss Instagram off so much it put me in the demographic of ‘people who play Bejeweled Blitz on non-timed mode,’ but the ad worked, because I downloaded the game. I enjoyed the novelty of the classic Windows 95 tabs and the iconic pixelated palm tree cards for one game before I forgot about it, but the experience did get me thinking about when I moved to New York City three years ago from South Korea, and the first time I saw someone on the subway playing Solitaire on their phone.
Trains in South Korea run with impeccable precision, the subways are spotless, and there’s fast Wi-Fi onboard on every line. Things are different in New York City. One time, a rat came aboard my train and all hell broke loose until someone kicked it so hard it hit the wall and died. It was the most bonded I have ever felt to other New Yorkers — and this happened around Christmas, adding to the holiday magic. The point is, this is the kind of MTA service we’re dealing with here, so of course there’s no Wi-Fi, which makes playing mobile games that need an internet connection hard.
This is actually good in its own way, because New Yorkers use their time on the subway to read or listen to podcasts, and it definitely motivated me to pick up my Kindle again. But sometimes you just want to idly waste time on a pointless game when you’re bored!
In Seoul, I was working in game localization at a mobile game studio, and sometimes I’d see people playing our games on the subway. It was always a thrill, but short-lived, as the mobile game industry shifted so fast that every few weeks, there was another new game that people had already moved on to. Still, it was the fast internet that made playing MMORPGs on the train possible, and for three years on my daily commute, I saw every different kind of mobile game you could think of on the screens I’d peek over at.
Moving back to America after living in Korea was like stepping into a time warp. I couldn’t believe people were still playing Candy Crush, or even worse, 2048. To me, this was like walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet and only eating spoonfuls of ketchup. But now I have become one of the very people I have mocked. I exclusively play Minesweeper on my phone, because I saw someone playing it on the very subway I love to hate on.
I was on the train this week when I noticed a woman playing Minesweeper on her iPhone. There are a ton of Minesweeper games in the App Store, but I’ve never been able to find the right one, and here was someone in front of me, mining away. But she had her AirPods in, so I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt her to ask which Minesweeper game it was. I imagined a scenario in my head in which I would timidly ask her what game she was playing, and she’d look at me like I was a feral animal who’d never had the classic Windows game suite of 3D Pinball and FreeCell (which to this day, I have no idea how to play. Show me one person who knows how to play FreeCell), much less heard of Minesweeper.
So after downloading a bunch of different Minesweepers from the App Store, I finally found the version she was playing. It’s Minesweeper Q by Spica, and it has the best UX you need to play the game on a phone: a quick flagging mode, and a quick open feature when you tap a number next to a flag. I’m glad I didn’t have to ask her for it, because she seemed kind of rude when she was pushing people to leave the train at her stop. But without her, I never would have been reunited with the first game I obsessed over as a procrastinating high schooler. Now I never need to find another game to play on my phone when the train’s been stalled for 30 minutes in a dark tunnel somewhere in Brooklyn. So thank you, rude stranger.
More and more I find myself trying new ways to get lost. Not to disappear, not quite, but to separate self from self — or to create a new, quiet space, the way a mirror does with reflections. There’s no sound in mirrorspace. Just mirrorselves who move silently through an inverted, recognizable world. It sometimes occurs to me to wonder about time there, in the land beyond the silvered glass, but only when I’ve ventured far enough from myself that it occurs to me to check my learned assumptions about the way the world works.
In 1917 a Russian guy, Viktor Shklovsky, came up with a word for this: defamiliarization. His argument, essentially, was that poetic language works as art because it’s more difficult to understand than everyday prose, and that this difficulty in parsing meaning could make the normal unfamiliar and therefore consciously artistic. It forces you into seeing the unfamiliar thing and the language or experience that got you there as art. (Although: if you ask any garden-variety depressive, they’ll tell you just how often their ailment makes normal life seem strange and monstrous.) What’s interesting about this is how it’s been reinvented for the internet, or perhaps been repurposed to fit life online; internet humor, these days, is all Shklovsky.
mysticmoonhigh: “So I was talking to a boy today and called him “dude” and he goes, “Hey, I’m not your dude. I want to go by bro.” And the very first thing that popped into my head was ‘wow, he has preferred bronouns’.
tarntino: “all these fuckboys but who is the fuckfather”; in reply, swansingr writes: “zeus”
cyrodiildo: “i’m like a romanceable npc if you compliment me once per day for a week straight you unlock the dialogue option to marry me”
I could keep this up for a while. This kind of defamiliarized humor works because, above all else, the internet is wonderful at stripping things of context. I couldn’t tell you where or when those posts were made, let alone by whom — I came across them as images in a Twitter thread, posted by a user whose handle I’ve already forgotten.
This happens all the time. It’s why years-old news recirculates periodically on Facebook and Twitter, passed off as current, because why not, it’s plausible. The internet is a mirrorworld of IRL that exists in a continuous present; it’s hard to tell anything’s when, outside of periodic app UI updates.
I’d say depression and anxiety play a role in this, too, as they alienate and defamiliarize as a matter of course. It’s no surprise that the lingua franca of online ranges from depressiongrams, to anxious vagueposts, to textposts, couched in the pinkish language of self-care. That started in online communities buried within Reddit, 4chan, and Tumblr, all powered by teens — which is crucial, because teenage angst feels like the realest, most pressing thing in the world. It’s a lens with which to see the world; it’s a boulder on your chest, making it difficult to breathe. It’s the reason you instantly pull up hundreds of posts and blogs if you search the phrase “euthanize me” on Tumblr.
If the language of depression and anxiety rules the internet, relatability is its cause; relatable accounts and posts — which I’m defining as ideas that mirror your lived experience — tend to earn the most attention. Attention begets followers, which in turn brings more lucrative forms of attention: ask any number of Twitter humorists who managed to parlay their observational skill into TV writing jobs and they’ll tell you the same thing. It’s an axiom of the web that happy people don’t make good posts.
I wonder what this kind of continuous alienation is doing to us — to me. Like most of my peers I’ve been online for what seems like eternity. An eon, at least. And the thing is, time passes faster online because things are happening constantly; all of my friends’ therapists tell them to log off because the human brain isn’t meant to process this much trauma at this much scale at once. They don’t. Either because they can’t (jobs) or they can’t (addiction).
I also wonder sometimes what it means that I feel so comfortable posting online about nearly everything, but that there are certain subjects that I can’t share there. The whole point of posting is to find other people like you, and the promise of the internet is that you’ll come to know the people who understand you better than anyone else. What’s funny about the whole relatability thing is that nobody mentions it’s a racket; nothing does worse online than naked need. The gulf between what you feel and what you can safely post is itself alienating.
To me, the situation seems a little like dating, at least in this age in urban centers: it’s easy to sleep with new people but impossible to ask them to just hold you, to join you in the quiet place where the whole wide world is another person’s touch. Because if you two look at your reflection in a mirror, what you’ll see is a commitment in progress — a bond forming like hoarfrost that is variously permanent. “Even a funky guy like Funky Kong can get lonely too,” you might post afterward, below a screenshot of Funky Kong saying “It’s OK, dude; sometimes I get lonely too!” in a speech bubble. It’s a way of bridging the gap between the world you curate and the one you have to experience in its random cruelty; it’s easier than saying please hold me, I need to be touched, and emotionally safer, too.
There isn’t a solution here. I’m only outlining a problem, trying to give a form to this nameless anxiety in my gut. The one that says I’m drowning, but at least there are people flailing here with me. I sometimes wonder what we look like in a mirror, or from above. Or whether we’d even recognize the water dragging us down.
For the past week or so, virtually all of my time has been dedicated to the sprawling Wild West epic Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar’s latest game is so huge, so all-encompassing, that I didn’t let myself play anything else while reviewing it. In 2018 that isn’t such an easy thing to do. So many of the games I play now are ones that have become fixtures in my daily routine. I feel like I’m missing out not checking in on my Animal Crossing campground, or getting in a few matches of Clash Royale. That sense of FOMO is particularly apparent in Fortnite.
It changes so much, and so fast, that a prolonged absence can make it feel like you’re returning to a completely different game.
Fortnite has always been a game about killing other players, so this adds a completely new dynamic. It reminds me of Titanfall, where even terrible players — like me — could get in some kills by taking out computer-controlled enemies. It’s also really creepy, thanks in large part to the unsettling sound design, which reminds me a bit of the game’s limited-time Thanos event. Even before you can see the monsters, you definitely hear them. It fits perfectly with game’s sixth season, which has largely added a darker and more supernatural feel to Fortnite.
Even more useful to casual Fortnite fans is a fundamental change to how the game is played: now when you fall from a tall structure or jump off a cliff, you can deploy your parachute whenever you want, in all game modes. It’s great for preventing accidental deaths or for players who are typically hesitant to build up high during fights.
There are other changes, too, particularly with the game’s ever-evolving environmental storytelling. When I last left the game, the floating island — which is propped up by my beloved interdimensional cube — was slowly moving around the map, visiting particular spots that were home to cryptic runes burned into the ground. Now, though, the island has floated back to its starting point, and has shattered into multiple pieces, each of which still float in the air. There’s a big purple bolt of lightning that connects the island fragments to an unsettling whirlpool in the sky.
Honestly, I have no idea what’s happening.
When you play Fortnite regularly, you’re able to take these kinds of changes in small doses, which makes them much easier to follow. It’s one of the best things about the game. The way it’s constantly evolving is its own kind of storytelling, one that’s particularly compelling if you keep a close eye on the game. But, as I’ve learned, it doesn’t take long to feel like you’re out of the loop.
Now, to be fair, updates as big as “Fortnitemares” aren’t all that frequent. But that’s the thing about Fortnite: you never know what changes are coming, what they’ll be, and what kind of impact they’ll have on the overall game. (Just ask all of the competitive Fortnite players who are upset about these massive changes ahead of this weekend’s big TwitchCon tournament.) When a whole bunch of new things are added around the same time, it makes the game feel very different.
After a few matches I’m catching up with what’s happened, but it does feel like I’ve missed out on something. I didn’t see how other players dealt with the monsters early on, and I wasn’t able to witness the floating island’s destruction as it happened. There’s clearly something big about to happen with the cube, though, with that strange bolt of purple lightning. And with Red Dead now complete, there’s no way I’m going to miss it.
After rolling out its Version 9 of Autopilot a couple of weeks ago, Tesla has followed up with an additional update to equip its vehicles with its Navigate with Autopilot feature, a driver assistance system that brings the vehicles closer to being able to drive on their own.
Tesla officially released the Version 9 update earlier this month, which included a new dash cam feature, games that can be played while the car is parked, and updates to the vehicle’s navigation settings, and indicated that Navigate would be following shortly thereafter.
In a blog post, Tesla says that with driver supervision, cars equipped with the feature will be able guide “a car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting and making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges, and taking exits.” This isn’t fully autonomous driving: drivers will need to approve lane changes by using the stalk, although Tesla notes that they’ll be able to waive this in future updates. Tesla also says that drivers will still need to pay attention to the road, and characterizes this as “an additional layer of safety that two eyes alone would not have.”
Tesla also released a short video that demonstrates how to use the feature, showing off how to activate the feature and how to approve lane-changes and merging on the highway.
The system uses an array of cameras, radar, and sensors to determine what objects are surrounding the vehicle, and uses this information to help the vehicle navigate, all while sending data back to the company’s vision and neural net system, allowing it to improve its software. Tesla says that since Autopilot was launched in 2015, it’s collected more than a billion miles worth of data.
If there is one thing your apartment never has enough of, it’s space. It’s easy to fill up just about every last inch of square footage in your place — with knick-knacks, with necessities, and especially with furniture. Imagine if you could just make your bed disappear when you aren’t using it so you suddenly have an empty room to host people or to do a workout in. Bumblebee Spaces has found a way to do just that, and it’s showing off the system in a small Seattle apartment.
Walk into the small, one bedroom apartment overlooking the waterfront and you might feel cramped. But wait for the Bumblebee Spaces smart home system to kick in and you’ll see the bed and furniture retract up into the ceiling. By the time the electric motor system pulls the bed all the way up by the industrial-grade straps, you’ll find that the seemingly small apartment has just about all the room you could ask for. We’ve seen plenty of space-saving tech before, especially in tiny homes, but nothing quite like this.
Bumblebee’s system might seem like a pretty simple bit of machinery, but it’s much more than just a modern reimagining of a Murphy bed. It’s all connected to an iPad that serves as a central control panel for the system, which utilizes a variety of smart tech to help optimize your home.
The system is packed with depth sensors that can determine if there are people nearby or in range of the moving furniture. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning algorithms help determine what items have been added or removed to retractable storage spaces and bring them down to you when you need them, according to a report from GeekWire.
One of the smartest parts of Bumblebee’s space-saving smart home system: it doesn’t rely on an internet connection to function. That means that even if your Wi-Fi goes out, you won’t be stuck with your bed tucked neatly against the ceiling while you’re forced to sleep on the floor.
If you want Bumblebee in your own home, well, you’re going to have to wait. The company is still working on building a consumer-ready product and prices are yet to be determined. You can get your hands on the system by renting out the Seattle apartment currently conducting demonstrations of Bumblebee’s tech, though. And the apartment is set to go on the market soon with the system installed, according to GeekWire.
While most of us are perfectly happy with our smartphones, some prefer something a little more compact and pocketable. For those people, Japanese company Kyocera has come up with a device that it’s billing as the “thinnest smartphone in the world.” It’s called the KY-O1L, and it’s built specifically to fit inside a business card holder. For that, the phone has been given the nickname of the “card phone.”
The phone itself comes in at 5.3mm thick and weighs a measly 47g, making it also one of the lightest devices around. On top of that, it boasts LTE connectivity and a 2.8-inch monochrome epaper display. Powering it all is a 380mAh battery, which should be more than enough for a phone with an epaper display.
Of course, there is some debate about whether or not this is really the thinnest phone out there. As The Verge notes, the 2016 Moto Z came in at only 5.2mm — though that excludes the camera bump. Before that, there was the Oppo R5, which came in at a tiny 4.9mm thick. That said, none of those phones offer the same adorable basic-ness as the KY-O1L.
Whether it is truly the thinnest phone or just one of them, it’s still an interesting device. The user interface offers everything a basic phone needs, though there is no app marketplace and as such, this is perhaps only a good choice for those that need something to make calls and text people, with the occasional news reading online. There’s also no camera so don’t expect to get any shots with this device.
The Kyocera KY-O1L comes at 32,000 yen, which equates to around $300. It’s also only available in Japan so don’t expect to get your hands on the phone anytime soon if you don’t live there. Even in Japan, it’s only available on the country’s NTT Docomo carrier.
Smaller phones may be a growing trend. Just recently Palm took the wraps off of a new smartphone that’s specifically aimed at reducing people’s addiction to their phones. It syncs to your primary phone, so you’ll get all your notifications and calls.
The next PlayStation and Xbox are confirmed to be in the works at Sony and Microsoft, but the more interesting upcoming consoles might just be those from 80s relics like Atari and Intellivision. The latter has now fleshed out its plans to get back in the game with the Amico, its new console that, we have to say, is a strange beast indeed.
The company first announced in May that it planned to get back into hardware, but exactly what form that would take remained murky until now. Like Atari’s upcoming VCS, the Intellivision Amico seems to be very much focused on nostalgia while updating it with a few modern concessions.
Although the only visuals so far are sketches and 3D renders, the Amico looks like a sleek, curvy trapezoid with two controllers perched on top. To younger eyes they may look like first-generation iPods, but those who grew up playing Intellivision will instantly recognize the classic controllers. The 16-directional pad returns, but the rows of numbered buttons have been replaced by a 3.5-in color touchscreen. The four buttons on the sides also make a return.
A few new additions give them some of the perks of Nintendo Wii remotes – a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer enable motion control schemes, and force feedback is in there too. The controllers can also be used in vertical or horizontal positions, or flipped around to suit left- and right-handed players. There’s also a speaker and microphone onboard.
Instead of being connected to the console by the curly cords of yesteryear, the new controllers connect via Bluetooth and recharge wirelessly when docked. While that seems like a logical upgrade to make, we’re not sure how (if at all) the controllers will be useable while they’re charging.
But Intellivision may have an interesting workaround – a mobile app can apparently turn phones into extra controllers. Not only could you resort to that while the main ones are charging, but it also allows up to eight players to jump into a game at once.
Speaking of games, the library is firmly rooted in the past, but rather than port over the classics, Intellivision is remaking them. Graphics and audio will be modernized, new levels will be added, and extra modes, like local and online multiplayer and tournaments, will be introduced. On top of that, all of these versions are exclusive to the Amico.
The lineup reads like a Who’s Who of arcade classics. Intellivision’s own titles, like Shark! Shark!, B-17 Bomber, Night Stalker, Astrosmash and SNAFU are all accounted for, as are games from Imagic like Microsurgeon, Atlantis, Dracula and Swords & Serpents. Assorted oldies like Lode Runner, Super Burgertime and ToeJam & Earl are also on the guest list, but the real star of the show is Atari, bringing to the table household names like Pong, Asteroids, Centipede, Breakout, Tempest and Lunar Lander.
But it won’t just be the classics. Intellivision says it plans to release brand new games as well, inspired by the simplicity of old. Rather than come on discs or cartridges, Amico games will be digital downloads only, and Intellivision says that several of its own games will come preinstalled on the console. Others can be bought from an online store for relatively low prices – between US$2.99 and $7.99. Interestingly, the company is promising there will be no downloadable add-ons or in-app purchases, which have been divisive in the video game industry in recent years.
But perhaps the strangest decision is that every game on the Amico will be family-friendly. Although that might limit its appeal to some of the “hardcore” gamers, it’s not necessarily a bad thing – Nintendo has carved out a solid family niche for itself for almost 40 years, but it still lets other companies publish more mature games on its platforms. And given Intellivision’s focus on old-school simplicity, it shouldn’t be too hard to avoid graphic violence and gore anyway.
If all this has piqued your interest, it seems we still have quite a while to wait. The Amico isn’t due to launch until October 10, 2020. When it does, Intellivision says it will be priced at between US$149 and $179.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the Twitch streamer and Fortnite star whose profile only continues to get bigger, announced today that he and his sponsorship partner Red Bull will air a New Years Eve live stream from New York’s Times Square. The event, which will run from 7PM ET to 7AM ET the following day and stream on Ninja’s personal Twitch channel, will feature him playing Fortnite with a series of notable guests as he rings in the new year for various time zones around the world. The news was announced today at TwitchCon, the streaming platform’s annual community convention for streamers and gaming personalities.
“When I started in gaming, I never thought that something like this would be possible. NYE has always been fun for gamers because it’s a night where you have a widely accepted excuse to stay up and game, but there’s never been an event in the mainstream that’s actually built around that tradition,” Blevins told Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in a live Q&A at TwitchCon. “This is just my ultimate NYE Fortnite LAN party with some of my best friends and a few surprises that I hope we as a community can have a lot of fun with.”
All the while, his social media and Twitch following has continued to rise. Ninja now commands an audience of 11 million followers on Twitch, 11 million followers on Instagram, more than 3.5 million Twitter followers, and nearly 20 million YouTube subscribers. A sizable subset of his Twitch following are also subscribers, which mean they pay him a minimum of $5 a month. Although some of that subscriber fee goes directly to Twitch, Ninja also receives donations and makes additional money through apparel, sponsorships, advertising, and appearances, including a recent Samsung commercial.
Today, the FBI arrested Cesar Sayoc, a man from Florida who is suspected of having mailed bombs to a number of prominent critics of President Donald Trump, including Democratic politicians and former officials. Footage from the site of the arrest — an auto parts store, according to The Guardian — shows Sayoc’s van under a tarp. As a news helicopter followed the covered vehicle, the wind blew the tarp off, revealing windows packed with decals of Donald Trump and other Republican figures.
Soon thereafter, several Twitter users tweetedphotos of what appeared to be close-ups of the same van, taken prior to Sayoc’s arrest. Many of the decals were memes that had circulated in right-wing social media spaces. The most recognizable of them: an elaborate portrait of Donald Trump riding a tank with gold-plated treads out of the ocean, holding what appears to be a Barrett M821A rifle, while $100 bills float breezily behind him.
The image has become a popular one in conservative spaces online, having circulated virally around places like Reddit’s r/The_Donald since its creator, Jason Heuser, uploaded it to DeviantArt in 2016. He’s a freelance illustrator who worked in the video game industry for seven years, according to the biography section of his website, but he’s mostly a political satirist.
“The Trump thing, with as with most all the paintings I do is just… they’re painted because they’re kind of relevant at the time,” Heuser tells The Verge in a phone interview. A lot of people at the time had been clamoring for him to paint a picture of the then-candidate, because they thought it made sense with his art style, and Heuser painted it because he thought it would be fun. “I’m apolitical,” he says. “I look at politics like a giant reality show,” which is where he says his art comes from. The Trump tank painting, he adds, wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously.
“It was supposed to be a joke, and I think people are taking it seriously, which is a little nerve-wracking to me,” Heuser says. “In my mind it’s so obviously a joke.” The point, for Heuser, is to walk the line between sincerity and mockery. “Every time I create a piece of art, I want people to think, ‘Wait, is he… is he joking on this? Is this real? I don’t know.’”
What Heuser has created here is a meme, sure, but it’s more than that. To Trump supporters, who enjoy the president’s grinning face stuck to all manner of pictures and gifs — and shirts — Heuser’s image represents how they see the president every day: as an unimaginably wealthy man, casually steamrolling the world on impossibly expensive tank treads. It’s why, on r/The_Donald, you’ll see Redditors refer to Trump as GEOTUS — or God Emperor of The United States. It is a morbid, morally vacant joke.
American leaders have always been mythologized; throughout the country’s history, there’s been a concerted effort by supporters to whitewash political leaders — presidents especially — and minimize the worst actions they took in the course of their stewardship of the country.
This goes back as far as George Washington, who is lionized more for winning the Revolutionary War than for his ownership of human beings, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose leadership through the Second World War overshadows his creation of internment camps for Japanese people living in America. Today, George W. Bush, the architect of the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which claimed the lives of millions of innocent people, is a jolly, elderly painter. On social media, he’s retweeted by liberals when he poses for pictures with Michelle Obama.
With Trump, as Heuser’s picture shows, the impulse manifests slightly differently. His supporters don’t just want him to be leader of the country — they want him to dominate the world. Heuser’s image featured prominently on Sayoc’s van; the rest of it was covered in slogans attesting to Trump’s greatness, as well as images of Democratic figures with cross-hairs stamped over their faces.
What’s funny about Heuser’s image, however, is that it’s not straightforwardly laudatory. Upon closer examination, it pokes as much fun at Trump as possible: Heuser left a “69” joke on the back of the tank; he added a Big Gulp logo on its side near some Trump steaks and Trump vodka, two of the president’s failed businesses; the bumper stickers near the front include the Howard Stern show logo, a New World Order pro-wrestling decal, and a sticker that says “don’t you know who I am?” On the license plate, the frame says, “Taxation without representation,” a phrase that can be read as a dig at Trump’s allergy to releasing his tax returns.
These days, political satire is more difficult than ever, because both the pace of the news is increasing — in part due to the ease of disseminating information across the globe — and because there’s so much ridiculous headlines coming out of the White House itself, every day. It often feels as though The Onion is writing the storylines that happen every week.
The fact that all of this is so ridiculous — the fact that Sayoc unironically loved the image of Trump rising out of the ocean on a gold-plated tank enough to put it on his van, which other people on the road also had to see — obscures a lot of the active harm the Trump administration is doing to the people in this country and to its environment, political and actual. Heuser sees it a little differently: “Donald Trump is doing exactly what he did on The Apprentice, just now at a bigger scale as the president.” President Trump is out to grab ratings and get memed in the process.
A meme is a social virus. Each spreads through a population according to its peculiar viral dynamics — some ricochet through a population and then burn out, while others come and go with the seasons. Every meme is similarly mindlessly replicative. The point of a virus is to replicate, and the point of a meme is to convey a unit of meaning, one that can be easily remixed by anyone.
On the forums and message boards that cater to people who lean politically conservative, though, memes also function as metonyms: Pepe the Frog, a character created by the cartoonist Matt Furie, was claimed by 4chan and has, over the years, gradually morphed into a stand-in for “Trump supporter.” In these spaces, memes also indicate belonging.
But memes don’t hide the children separated permanently from their parents on the whim of a racist deportation policy — in fact, they often suggest it. The title God Emperor is a joke; the people the president’s policies hurt are not. Trump on a tank implies there are ideas, and people, that require running over.
“People love reality TV, but I don’t know that policy should be on the same level as reality TV,” Heuser says. “I mean, like I said earlier, I look at it that way, because that’s how I kind of just laugh it off, and go, ‘All right, well, we haven’t got blown up today.’”
Correction, 6:35PM EST: Jason Heuser is an illustrator. An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated he was also a game designer.
Remaking horror classics is a tried-and-true tradition, but it’s still a little mystifying why anyone felt 1977’s Suspiria was a good candidate. Dario Argento’s giallo classic, about a dancer training in a school that is secretly home to a coven of witches, isn’t influential for its setting and premise, so much as for its bold visual style, its mood, and the hypnotic score by prog-rock band Goblin. Many of the elements that made the original Suspiria unforgettable were the precise things any remake would necessarily lose.
Director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) seems to acknowledge that fact in his remake, which arrives in theaters on October 26th. Set in 1977, the year of the original film’s release, it’s less a traditional reboot than a remix. It replaces all the key elements that made the original film work — its patience, its dread, its haunting music and visuals — with ones of Guadagnino’s own design. In that sense, it feels as if the new film captures the essence of the original Suspiria, even as it explores a new set of thematic preoccupations. The result is unlikely to be as influential as Argento’s movie, and it will test some viewers’ patience, but it’s still a bold, hypnotic work, an example of the richness that today’s generation of filmmakers are bringing to the horror genre.
The film opens with Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz), a dancer from the Helena Markos Dance Company in Berlin, visiting her therapist, Dr. Josef Klemperer (Tilda Swinton, under some extremely effective makeup prosthetics). Patricia has become convinced that the dance school is home to a coven of witches. Later, when she vanishes, Klemperer begins investigating what happened to her, and what’s going on at the school.
Meanwhile, aspiring American dancer Susie (Dakota Johnson) has traveled to Germany to audition for the troupe. When she performs, the mysterious Madame Blanc (also Swinton) recognizes her raw talent — and otherworldly power. Susie lands a coveted spot in the troupe in spite of her lack of previous training or credentials, and she quickly bounds up the pecking order, earning the role of lead dancer. Still, something seems awry with the dance school, and the peculiar behavior of both the women that run the place and fellow dancers like Sara (Mia Goth) increase the sense that something isn’t quite right. Eventually, Susie discovers that she’s at the school to do far more than dance.
Dwelling on plot machinations isn’t the best way to delve into Suspiria, however, because Guadagnino and screenwriter David Kajganich are less interested in the characters and storylines than in the atmosphere and mood. Johnson plays Susie as suitably wide-eyed and naïve when she first joins the troupe, and while she becomes more assured in her skills, the film doesn’t reveal much depth to her as she moves from dance sequence to dance sequence. Swinton’s Madame Blanc is similarly a cipher, which is clearly deliberate when the film begins — the mystery and menace about her helps the unease to bloom — but she also feels underutilized, even as the film reveals hints about what she and the other women in the school are really up to. Swinton’s performance as Dr. Klemperer is the more compelling turn, as the doctor spends his days investigating what’s actually happening in the school, and revealing a moving backstory about the wife he lost in the Holocaust.
But Guadagnino and Kajganich make the most of the film’s setting, leaning into the idea that the physicality of dance itself has power — as a metaphor for Susie’s own growing confidence, but literally supernatural power as well. It’s clear from very early on that the film’s witchcraft is tied closely to the dances the women in the troupe perform, and one particularly gut-wrenching sequence drives that home as Susie’s avant-garde performance literally rips apart the body of a dancer trapped in another room. It’s a nerve-wracking sequence, combining skillful cross-cutting, effects, and the work of choreographer Damien Jalet to create a few minutes that are hard to shake as the film continues.
Those kind of standout, nightmarish moments are threaded throughout the film, with Guadagnino often deploying his horror show imagery in discordant jump cuts, or quick flashes that disorient the audience much as Susie is feeling increasingly off-balance. It’s a far cry from Argento’s blood-soaked, operatic approach — Guadagnino’s film is dour and filled with browns and dark greens, a sharp contrast to Argento’s often garish color palette — and the difference in approach manifests in the score as well. While Goblin’s work in the original film was relentless and full of creepy, chanted whispers, the 2018 film’s score, by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, is delicate and beautiful, stringing together gentle piano lines and fragile vocals.
What the film isn’t, at least in the traditional slasher movie sense, is scary. There’s certainly gore, and the film is remarkably unsettling, but Guadagnino seems most interested in what ideas he can explore within the framework of the genre. This is a story about a dance studio run by witches, but it’s also a film about Cold War-era Germany, which is tearing itself apart over the course of the film. Terrorist attacks by the Baader-Meinhof Group feature prominently in the story, and the conflict between a generation coping with the aftermath of the Holocaust, and a younger generation that wants to forge its own path as a fresh start after those atrocities, runs heavily throughout the entire movie. The visuals and score give the film an added depth and gravitas — even as cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom indulges in frequent 1970s-style snap zooms — that help the different threads feel warranted, in spite of the premise’s potential silliness.
The excess of style can make the 2018 Suspiria feel overstuffed at times, so full of ambition that it’s easy to lose the thread of the story among all the ideas Guadagnino has in play. It’s easy to appreciate the sheer scale of what he’s trying to do, but it leads to an awfully long film — more than two and a half hours, nearly an hour longer than Argento’s original. It’s not wise to judge a film on run time alone, and we’d all be better off if more filmmakers had the ambition Guadagnino does with genre fare. But the new Suspiria does often feel long, like a movie that loses its way at key points. Given that the opening title card announces the film will take part in six acts and an epilogue, it’s easy to wind up wearily counting the acts while hoping for the final, bloody conclusion to finally arrive.
When it does, it is absolutely satisfying, wrapping the many pieces together in a way that’s horrifying, subversive, and legitimately emotional. It turns out there’s a humanity to the darkest characters in Suspiria, an ability to recognize pain and suffering as abominations that should not be tolerated. It’s one final, unexpected twist, one last layer in a film that seems obsessed with adding as many as possible. But it’s perhaps the most important of the entire bunch. If the cost of landing on it is a movie that feels a little too long and as if it’s exploring a few too many things, that’s an easy price to pay.
Researchers just released an update to the definitive list of most threatening volcanoes in the United States. It’s the first update for the volcano rankings, which were originally published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 2005.
“There are a lot of volcanoes in the US, and they erupt more frequently than most people know,” says Angie Diefenbach, a geologist at the USGS and a co-author of the report. “We have a lot of volcanoes and there aren’t limitless resources. It helps to prioritize where we’re going to be working.” The United States has 161 active volcanoes, and it has experienced 120 volcanic eruptions since 1980.
The highest priorities for geologists like Diefenbach are the 18 volcanoes ranked as very high threats. Those haven’t budged from their position at the top of the heap since the original 2005 report. Leading the list are infamous volcanoes, including Kilauea, which has been continuously erupting in Hawaii since 1983, and Mount St. Helens, which erupted dramatically in 1980. The top 18 also include lesser-known peaks, including five in Alaska.
Beyond the top 18, the other 143 volcanoes on the list are rated from a high threat to very low threat, with many of the active volcanoes hovering in the middle. One important thing to keep in mind when scrolling through the rankings is that this doesn’t mean that any of these volcanoes are guaranteed to erupt anytime soon.
“This threat ranking is not an indication of which volcano will erupt next,” says Diefenbach. “The ranking is an indicator of the potential severity of impacts that can result from future eruptions at any given volcano.”
What makes a volcano threatening is a pretty simple formula, explains Diefenbach. Volcanologists rank volcanic threats by figuring out how the volcano might erupt — whether it will likely explode, like Mount St. Helens, or let loose a flow of lava, like Kilauea. Then, they figure out if people, property, or critical infrastructure are located in the potential danger zone. If so, they get ranked as a higher threat. That’s why Mount Rainier, only 59 miles away from Seattle, is considered a very high threat.
Out in the less-populated reaches of Alaska, a different calculation comes into play. While there aren’t many people directly threatened by Alaskan volcanoes, there are a lot of planes that cross through Alaskan airspace. Volcanic ash can severely damage jet engines, so air traffic controllers will often ground or redirect planes during a volcanic eruption, as they did in 2010 when an Icelandic volcano erupted. The risk to aviation, coupled with high levels of volcanic activity, is why five Alaskan volcanoes earned a place in the top 18.
Thanks to our high-flying travel patterns, “there really is no such thing as remote volcano when it comes to hazards,” says Diefenbach.
Hooked, an app that makes “chat fiction” on mobile, is making its first longform story on Snapchat. It’s a hybrid of science fiction, mystery, and thriller called “Dark Matter” that takes place in Silicon Valley, as reported by Variety.
In “Dark Matter,” a South Asian-American college student at Stanford investigates her twin sister’s mysterious death, while discovering that she has the ability to interact with dark matter. There are five installments to the story, and they’ll be released daily starting today and ending on October 30th. The stories will be translated into Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Norwegian. Snap and Hooked will share ad revenue from the series, Variety reports.
Snap is not doing very well as a company. Today, its shares dropped 10 percent to a new all-time low of $6 per share following its less-than-stellar earnings report, which detailed a 2 million daily active user drop attributed to poor Android app performance. In addition to its issues with retaining Android users and the fallout from its disastrous redesign, Snap has also had a number of PR disasters that paint it as a fading fad among teenaged smartphone owners.
Even as Snapchat’s user growth falters, the company is still searching for new revenue streams, which is why it’s homing in on chat fiction and other experimental forms of mobile storytelling. Earlier this month, Snap announced a slate of self-produced programming called Snap Originals that will live in the Discover tab. Some are scripted series, while others are reality shows.
Meanwhile, Hooked hit number two in Top Free Apps in the iOS App Store last year. It works by showing you a series of texts that are part of a story. Once you’re hooked on the story, you might run into the app’s paywall that lets you read more if you make an in-app purchase or if you wait 40 minutes. By now, Hooked’s popularity has waned, and it has already fallen out of the top 200 apps. The story it’s producing with Snapchat marks its first venture into a longer-form story, and it includes a mix of voice narration, illustrations, and the chat fiction it’s known for.
T-Mobile took the gloves off in its battle against Dish Network, urging the FCC to strip the company of its vast spectrum holdings because Dish has no immediate plans to build out much of its spectrum.
Charter said its Spectrum Mobile service, an MVNO offering that runs over Verizon’s network, has so far gained a total of 21,000 lines. The company initially launched the offering in July and expanded it to its full cable footprint at the beginning of September.
The White House issued a memorandum today asking for a strategy around 5G deployment. The memorandum asks the relevant authorities to submit a report on the “status of existing efforts” to work on the technology.
Executive branch departments would need to inform the White House within 180 days about their “future spectrum requirements.” The Office of Science and Technology Policy should report about how emerging tech, such as smart home gadgets, could affect demand for spectrum and how the government should allocate research and development spending to improve 5G efforts.
Within 270 days, these branches and agencies would have to deliver a “long-term National Spectrum Strategy” to the White House that outlines some of these 5G systems and how they will improve the US’s global competitiveness compared to other countries.
It’s essentially a very broad request you might find in a college student’s thesis paper. The FCC meanwhile has been working on 5G all this time, so it’s pretty late in the game for the White House to be coming in with questions.
The FCC provided a neutral statement to The Verge: “We support the President’s spectrum memorandum and applaud his strong commitment to American leadership in 5G. The FCC will continue to work aggressively to push more spectrum into the commercial marketplace, including through our 28 GHz spectrum auction which will commence in November.”
But on Twitter, and in statements to media, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has expressed how behind the White House request is.
The White House announced that late next year it will have a new national spectrum policy. But other nations are moving ahead while we’re headed to study hall–and in the interim we’re slapping big tariffs on 5G networks. This doesn’t speed our 5G leadership–it slows us down.