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Flaunt Magazine: If You Think This Universe Is Bad, You Should See Some Of The Others

February 25th, 2014 No comments

I.  LONDON

“This is where my place is on the world.”

And he can’t get inside of it. Jared Leto is juggling the contents of his pockets along with a conversation about the universe, lingering in a London hotel hallway, denied entry to his place in the world—albeit a temporary one, for a handful of evenings, until an airplane pulls him back up off the grid and the phone in his pocket is as hidden from the satellites as much as the lint.

“Fuck. Do you have the key?”

II.  LIGHT

Leto has endured multiple 15-hour days, ambling the gloom of British pavements, temporarily red-carpeted for the premiere of Dallas Buyers Club (a film for which he has rightfully been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and likely will have won it by the time you read this). His ability to not blink when a flashbulb shrinks his retinas to pinpoints, is not entirely an instinct, but likely mastered on stages throughout the globe, fronting his wildly popular rock outfit Thirty Seconds to Mars. Here is a man drenched more often than not in luminous floodlight. The lower-lumen sidewalk bulbs for film events are dim to him. One can imagine more evolved future ancestors of Leto’s marveling at how this creature managed to never blink in the face of a bright bulb, or the sun. Or, a challenge, for that matter.

Put another way: the muscles in his eyelids are barely used. Leto always appears aware. His eyes like cavernous wells of clear cerulean through which he can perceive his path; pre-destined and carved onto the parchment of an ancient scroll, the ink dripping down the quill barrel of a coal-black raven’s wing, staining the page like the tattoos that crawl up both Leto’s arms, ending at his neck. He has a map only he can see.

Certainly, this is a bit much. But we stand in the company of an individual entirely inhabiting his moment, and all evidence points to his luxuriating in it. This is a thankful and aware kind of pleasure, though, as a note of gratitude colors his every comment. It is interesting to listen to the soft-spoken Leto casually discuss being awarded over 30 prizes (so far) for his role as Rayon, the transgender AIDS patient who forms a business relationship (and unlikely friendship) with the homophobic and rodeo-rough Ron Woodroof (played by the also-nominated Matthew McConaughey). Leto did not cower recently, in Santa Barbara, when a film-festival attendee spoke out of turn, loudly from the throng, accusing him of  “trans-misogyny.” (Leto responded with his own question: “Because I am a man, I don’t deserve to play that part? So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian—they can’t play a straight part?”) Again, Leto does not blink, inviting the heckler backstage to continue their conversation in private.

So, among the things that have converged upon this place in the world—where Leto now stands, on the wrong side of a locked door in London—also include his recent music video for “Up in the Air” surpassing 17 million views (and counting), his entirely self-made documentary about battling the music industry (Artifact) climbing into the top ten most-watched documentary list on iTunes, and learning there are as many as 30 accolades to collect for a single supporting role, with more to come.

Something is clearly happening. Getting inside of this room is not it.

III.  EARTH

“The way that we think about our position in the world, in relationship to the planet, has changed because of the way we travel from place to place,” Leto says, plunging his thin hands into the pockets of his fur-lined, hooded parka. “We now look down on the planet rather than looking across. I met with the creator of Google Earth and he asked me, ‘What have you learned from using Google Earth?’ And, you know, I gave him some bullshit answer. But, actually, the thing that I learned is that we all see the planet differently now. We look down on ourselves. We used to look across the horizon. Now, we look down. We all have a map in our mind of where we may be and the ability to access that.”

And everyone else knows where he is, precisely, thanks to the phone in his hand. Jared Leto, like the rest of us, is but a pixel on a circuit board created by wealthy pale people in Silicon Valley.

“Exactly!” he exclaims, wide eyes widening more. “Your perspective changes because of location-based applications. Your perspective has now become, ‘This is where my place is on the world.’ Which is interesting. It’s from the top looking down. Which is kind of strange and interesting, that our perspective is from above. From space.”

IV.  STARS

These are odd thoughts coming from a star. A star is a dying thing. When someone is deemed a rising star, they are in fact dying at a faster rate than the ones merely flickering shyly in the deepest black. Where does that leave Leto?

He appears to be both rising and hovering, a kind of firefly that won’t be shooed. His mettle proven by just about every film he makes, primarily because of the great sacrifice—the risk—involved in every cherry-picked role. He knows when a film works or does not. Dallas Buyers Club works. The magical things aligned, fell into place, created a celestial pattern—if you will follow this thought through with us—a solar system, organized, with orbits, nothing colliding but a great story and its two lead actors at the peak of their all-or-nothing, take-me-as-I-am-or-not-at-all mid-career leaps into the wincing face of expectation. Leto once gained over 60 pounds and made a film we all forgot to go see (Chapter 27). He, as much as anyone else, is fine with that aspect of chance too: a risk without dividend.

“I’ve made a lot of films that have fallen short,” he admits. “Films where we had the right intentions. Independent art house films that we all had high hopes for, but fell short. Gaining sixty-seven pounds for Chapter 27. Yeah, I think I’m willing to risk everything. I don’t say that with any conceits. I say that as a fact. I don’t see there being reward in another way. At least any worthy one. So when they connect with people and the films resonate, or the performance resonates—it’s a really wonderful thing to celebrate that.”

V.  DOCUMENTATION

You can see the risk in Artifact. In it, Leto betrays a particular brand of frustration that never crosses over into tantrum. He absorbs information, lays it all out, and determines exactly how he can manage to continue pursuing the things he desires most in his heart. He expects nothing, but appears willing to lose everything. Artifact is a film he edited himself, so without seeing what bits were cut to create this impression, a leap of faith might be necessary. But it’s a simple story that anyone could learn from, and aptly named, because it will likely be studied in the future by anyone left in the music business who cares to know what went wrong in this overlap between the old way and the new.

The film tells the story of how Thirty Seconds to Mars went to battle with EMI over an unfair contract and how the “tiny” band beat the giant corporation. (Sort of. They end up re-signing a contract with the very beast they sought to topple, albeit on somewhat better terms.) The film has the potential for catharsis, but falls short. The beast has been merely wounded. It can still crawl. And, it is still hungry. Which is why it’s worrisome that Leto has chosen the likes of Daniel Ek (aka, the Thom Yorke-battered CEO of the streaming music service Spotify) to appear in his film to discuss possibilities of future fairness.

“Daniel Ek’s participation is really to talk about some of the possibilities in the future and some of the opportunities that are out there,” he says. “I think it’s all one great debate to have. Everyone has a voice. And artists should have more of an opinion and a voice and participate in the digital architecture of tomorrow. So I think it’s great that Thom [Yorke] is speaking up and speaking his mind. I’m all for that debate. I think the biggest issue is probably that Spotify is paying labels and then the labels are not paying artists. It’s back to that same old issue of corruption. Treating artists unfairly. The funny thing is, there’s enough to go around. They could make fair, transparent deals. They could treat artists like partners. And they’d still make plenty of money. But, for some reason, they don’t. Maybe they will. Not everyone is bad.”

VI.  PERFORMANCE

David Bowie has been able to do both, with varying levels of success. Prince can only play himself. Bruce Willis is a terrible harmonica player and Mick Jagger was only good in the 1970 film Performance (as himself). In this regard, you might have to look no further than Dallas Buyers Club to debunk the actor-musician curse. If not for Leto, then for his lover Sunny, portrayed by Deerhunter and Atlas Sound frontman Bradford Cox. The leap from rock stardom to screen stardom would appear, on the surface, to be effortless. They both demand a kind of theatricality, with each profession building up songs and stories as real places to inhabit. (Watch that Thirty Seconds to Mars video for “Up in the Air,” where the crossover is blissfully explicit.) Of course, there is also rock’s long legacy of androgyny for Leto to lean on too.

In the case of Rayon—as played by Leto—she memorably chides Woodroof for not recognizing a photograph of Marc Bolan of T. Rex. If you imagine that Leto might be reluctant to explore this particular area where the seams of his self-tailored suit (of music and film) are most tightly hemmed, you’ve forgotten (again) that Leto does not blink. He addresses the idea head on.

“The Marc Bolan element and the glam rock element of the film was the director’s contribution. I actually opposed that,” Leto says, matter-of-factly, absent any malice or ill will. “There was more of that in the film originally. And I think that for the director [Jean-Marc Vallée], that was his throughway. That was his kind of guidepost into the world that Rayon lives. It was a way for him to understand her. I think it probably made a really interesting aspect of the film, to have that connection and to have Rayon have one of his heroes be Marc Bolan. That’s great. Marc Bolan was an awesome person. But, for me, I made it very clear early on that I saw Rayon as a man who wanted to live his life as a woman, not someone who enjoyed putting on women’s clothing. If they wanted that kind of performance—or anything glam, or anything drag queen-y—I wasn’t the person for the part.”

When Leto speaks of Rayon, you hear the sound of someone recalling time spent with a loved one. Rayon is a person. She is a friend. Herein is what might make him the actor that he is. That Leto can long for a person who exists but cannot be pinpointed, never tied to a coordinate, but living on inside of him, as strong as the memory of a mate whose address has long ago been misplaced, back when people saved envelopes and tucked them in between the pages of overstuffed address books. What an old, cluttered, faraway analog world that seems to us now. A wonderful place, in other words.

“She’s an incredible, empathetic, beautiful dreamer,” Leto says of Rayon. “A heart the size of an ocean. She’s an absolutely one-of-a-kind creature. So, a lot of love and support for her as well. I feel like she became a person, a real person. Especially because I was so deep inside of her. I really feel like I got to know this person. It became like a living, breathing life. It was a once-in-a-lifetime role.”

VII. PATHWAYS

Door unlocked, Jared Leto is reclining inside his hotel room above the streets of London. It is dark. He has fielded questions from strangers and answered each one, from the banal to the belligerent, with nary a blink. Eyes wide, errant locks of long hair occasionally pushed behind an ear to get a better look, angling beneath the floodlights to get a good glimpse of his interlocutor. The fact is: Jared Leto doesn’t do what you are supposed to do and he gets away with it. Makes films when he wants to. Records when the time is right. It might be luck, it might be talent, it could be hard work, or it could just be fueled by the naïve optimism that comes from a once-broke Louisiana kid who was told early on that being creative might not make you any less broke, but it might make being broke a little less shitty. It’s why his eyes are wide and blinking them is a waste of precious time. There’s too much to take in, too much to see. Fuck Google Earth. Technology is a weed. It blocks pathways.

“This is a crazy time in my life, but it’s a focused time,” he says. “It’s not like it’s out of control. You only get to do this once and in this case once may be the only time you get to do it. It’s a funny way to say it, but it’s kind of true. I’m acutely aware of that and very respectful of the path I’m walking down. I’m glad that this happened to me now and not when I first started. It’s a really good thing.”

Article source: http://jaredleto.com/thisiswhoireallyam/2014/02/24/london-light-earth-stars-documentation-performance-pathways-w-flaunt/

Apple store using sniffers to combat B.O.?

February 1st, 2014 No comments

Getting sniffy?


(Credit:
Oliver Eisermann/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

Have you noticed that not everyone cares too much about the odor they emit?

Do you recoil at times when you walk past an apparently pleasant-looking person, as the olfactory experience they incite might call for fumigation?

I confess that one place where this might be an extreme problem is the Apple store.

Apple stores are so full of humanity at most times of the day. One has to squeeze through, in order to venerate a product or two.

A report suggests that Apple is aware of this slightly stinky problem. Rocco Pendola of the Street says that the very nice Apple store on Third Street in Santa Monica, Calif., has a terrible B.O. issue.

He says two Apple store employees confirmed to him that the store is stinky.

The alleged cause? Human beings.

Some will naturally accuse those in Apple stores of excessive excitement, leading to unnecessary bodily emissions. Others will simply suggest that hygiene isn’t what it used to be.

In any case, Pendola says he was shown special sensors in the store that activate ventilation when the stink is beyond the brink.

I have contacted Apple to ask whether the company perhaps sprays Burberry scent into its stores in an attempt to keep the atmosphere fragrant. I will update, should I get a whiff of a response.

Apple stores are surely not the only retail establishments that have to combat the malodorous. Last year, an ATT store was accused of smelling like a locker room.

Some businesses — casinos in Vegas and department stores (especially on the ground floor), for example — are highly adept at creating an atmosphere appealing to most noses.

It would be no surprise if Apple has to combat the pong of the throng in order to make shopping in its stores a pleasant experience.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/ONAKlvoCk7g/

What if Google was just a regular guy?

January 14th, 2014 No comments

What if Google was a person-to-person exchange?


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET)

So we’ve got Santa handling hundreds of millions of gift requests a year, and a tooth fairy who thinks discarded chompers are some sort of biological bitcoin-like currency worth hoarding, but what if Google was also just some overburdened individual handling billions of search?

The comic masterminds at College Humor imagine the horror show that would be Google-the-guy’s day at the office in this short, not-really-safe-for-work video.

I think you’ll recognize several figures from your life in the cast of characters who deliver their search queries to Google face-to-face, like the old guy searching for “gmail.com” or the writer obsessively searching for his name alongside various flattering adjectives.

Actually, never mind. I don’t know anyone who would actually do that.

Enjoy the video below. And now that Google is purchasing Nest, look for the sequel, in which this poor schmuck is forced to sprint around turning everyone’s furnaces down.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/1fCBAz1rFgM/

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Taqueria vending machine? Say hola to Burrito Box

January 10th, 2014 No comments

Until we get Star Trek food replicators and robotic Iron Chefs, foodies will have to settle for Burrito Box vending machines.

Until we get “Star Trek” food replicators and robotic Iron Chefs, foodies will have to settle for Burrito Box vending machines.


(Credit:
Burrito Box)

In Los Angeles, a city full of taquerias and Mexican restaurants, you’d think a vending machine selling burritos at a gas station would be met with eye rolls from foodies and the burrito bourgeois. However, Burrito Box appears to be one of those novelties that even the most jaded hipster can’t help but try. After all, Burrito Box is on Instagram.

The self-proclaimed “world’s first burrito kiosk” (located at Mobile Gas, 8380 Santa Monica Blvd.) sells five kinds of burritos: chorizo sausage with cage-free eggs and cheese; uncured bacon with egg and cheese; roasted potato with egg and cheese; free-range chicken with beans and rice; and shredded beef and cheese. Sour cream, hot sauce, and guacamole sell for extra cost. Burritos are $3 plus tax by credit card.

After ordering the burrito with the touch-screen menu, the machine plays a commercial or music video while it heats up your food at around a minute and 30 seconds.

While this may sound like a tasty twist on an old favorite, reviewers at the site LAist don’t agree. The roasted-potato burrito “didn’t smell like a burrito or anything savory should,” while “the sausage didn’t taste like sausage, and it certainly didn’t taste like chorizo.”

“The bacon flavor came on strong like cheap perfume,” said the reviewer of the uncured bacon burrito. “And when I say ‘bacon flavor,’ I actually mean ‘bacon bits’ flavor.” The free-range chicken burrito came off slightly more favorably: “The cracked black pepper was a nice touch, but generally the filling was bland and it had a sort of canned tomato paste flavor.”

The only positive review was for the shredded beef and cheese burrito. “The other burritos claimed to have jalapenos in them, but this was the only one that had any sort of kick whatsoever.” Overall the burritos were more miss than hits with the discerning LAist reviewers. “Sorry to say, if you’re hoping to get some flavor in most of the burritos, you’re probably going to want to spring for the Tabasco sauce,” one wrote.

While these burritos apparently leave something to be desired, they might still satiate the quick cravings of gas station customers and curious foodies wiling to give Burrito Box a chance. A second Burrito Box is planned for 76 gas station at 10389 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles, according to the locations section of the Burrito Box Web site.

And now that vending machines dispense everything from Mexican food to caviar, steaks, and bike parts, we can’t help but wonder what they’ll be spitting out next.

Here's the Burrito Box in the wild at 8380 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA.

Here’s the Burrito Box in the wild at 8380 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles.


(Credit:
Burrito Box)

(Via Los Angeles Times)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/znX6D3E99K4/

Sleep Number x12 bed with sleep monitor, snore-stopper

January 8th, 2014 No comments

Sleep Number x12

This bed knows more about your sleep than you do.


(Credit:
Amanda Kooser/CNET)

LAS VEGAS — Sleep monitoring has turned into a popular digital activity. You buy a piece of hardware or load up an app and snooze with your iPhone tucked in with you. Or you can drop just under $8,000 and pick up the new Sleep Number x12 bed instead. You’ll get sleep monitoring and whole lot more tech crammed under the covers.

The x12 has the dual-air adjustable mattress system that made the company famous, but then it goes off the high-tech deep end with all sorts of extra goodies. It integrates sleep-monitoring technology from Bam Labs that is much like Santa Claus. It knows when you’re asleep. It knows when you’re awake. It knows your heart and breathing rates. It can capture data from two different people and sends it all to an iOS app that gives you a sleeping score along with the details of each night’s rest (or unrest).

There are some bells and whistles that make this all even more entertaining. A Partner Snore button lets you raise the head of your partner’s side of the bed to banish the nighttime noises. The remote control can be voice-activated to change the bed position or turn on lighting. Speaking of lighting, a subtle under-bed lighting system glows to greet you when you get up to wander at night.

Optional night stands will be available with charging stations for your tech devices. The x12 is easily the most expensive bed in Sleep Number’s line, and it’s aimed firmly at early adopters. Still, Sleep Number says it expects to integrate some of these technologies into its more affordable models in the not-too-distant future.

The bed itself doesn’t look too different from any other Sleep Number bed, but the tech hiding inside is quite an advancement over a regular old mattress. It’s a bit of a sneak peek at where sleep tech is heading.

Sleep Number x12

The headboard and night stands are optional.


(Credit:
Sleep Number)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/1bps4suYenM/

How to better spy on a childhood virus

January 3rd, 2014 No comments

In this microscope image, a cell infected with RSV glows red to indicate the tagged RNA and green to indicate the nucleoprotein.


(Credit:
Eric Alonas and Philip Santangelo)

Influenza, Ebola, and respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV) can be nasty little buggers, infecting their hosts with rash abandon and, especially when they attack young babies, even killing them. And the danger reaches beyond the very young. Pneumonia, for instance, is the leading cause of death in children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and RSV is the most common viral cause of pneumonia.

As imaging techniques advance, researchers are being able to study these viruses in greater and greater detail. Now, according to a team of scientists at Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, and Emory, one new technique for studying RSV in microscopic detail could help them spy on the structure of the virus for days and help them better understand how it enters cells, how it replicates, why some lung cells manage to escape the wrath of the virus, and so on. These discoveries, in turn, could pave the way for better antiviral drugs and even a vaccine to prevent infection in the first place — and the scientists say there’s no reason the approach can’t extend to other viruses as well, including influenza and Ebola.

At the heart of the technique, which is described in the journal ACS Nano, is the ability to tag the virus genome with a probe that does not change the behavior of the virus but still allows researchers to follow and study it for days.

To do this, the researchers turned to a method they developed a few years ago for labeling RNA viruses that uses what they call multiply-labeled tetravalent RNA imaging probes (MTRIPS). These little guys are complex, able to evade cellular defenses, and latch tightly onto the virus’ RNA without actually changing the behavior of the virus. They use multiple fluorophores to highlight the viral RNA for easier visual tracking (thanks to standard microscopy tech) as it enters host cells and as infectious particles exit those cells and spread.

To make all of this possible, graduate student Eric Alonas also had to concentrate the RSV without changing its ability to infect, which in turn could have changed its ability to enter host cells. In a school news release, biomedical engineering associate professor Philip Santangelo said it took a lot of work to concentrate the virus, but now that they got the right techniques down, “we can make lots of infectious virus that’s labeled and can be stored so we can use it when we want to.”

Now that they can store the virus and spy on it at nanoscale resolution for days, Santangelo said the next step is to figure out why some cells are “exploding with virus” while others seem somehow immune. “If you look at a field of cells, you see huge differences from cell to cell, and that is something that’s not understood at all…Perhaps we can figure out a way to help the bad ones look more like the good ones.”

Doing that may lead to not only better drugs to treat infection but possibly even an RSV vaccine to prevent it altogether.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/Dt06ahQjfLU/

The Bit-Tech Christmas Wishlist 2013

December 24th, 2013 No comments


To a man the Bit-Tech team has been nothing but nice this year – honestly it’s true – so we’re just a little hopeful that Santa may pay us a visit and actually gives us what we asked for this year!

So just in the nick of time we’ve compiled our digital wishlists and present them here for Santa’s perusal. And we guess you guys might be interested to see what we’ve been hankering after too. If you’ve yet to send off your list, make Santa’s life easier and add your Christmas wishlist in the comments too.

Edward Chester

Editor and noise maker

The Bit-Tech Christmas Wishlist 2013 The Bit-Tech Christmas Wishlist 2013 - EdEVGA Hadron Air

The whole craze for downsizing our PCs hit something of a zenith with the arrival of the BitFenix Prodigy. It was small, practical to use, cooled very effectively and fitted all the crucial hardware for a performance PC… and yes, I liked the handles! In the intervening 12 or so months little has arrived to really shake the case from its pedestal, until the arrival of this little wonder from EVGA.

The Hadron Air brings performance mini-ITX cases to a new high, or should that be low. It is vastly smaller than anything that has come before that can also accommodate the likes of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti – it really has to be seen in the flesh to be believed. The reason it can be so small is its use of a custom power supply, which does raise a few concerns, but not so much that I don’t really really want one.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti

Yes, I know it’s such an obvious choice but, you know what, sometimes the best things in life are. While I’d love to have the time and funds to tinker with an SLI or CrossFire setup and the performance/price of the R9 290X is exceptional, what I would like right now is simply the fastest single-GPU graphics card currently available. That’s it. Job done.

There’s another reason Nvidia’s card is at the forefront of my mind and that’s because I’ve just spend the last several days playing with G-Sync, and although it isn’t quite the revolution it seemed it might be it is definitely a step in the right direction. We’re also yet to see the sort of monitor I’d like to use it with, but having a card that’s ready to roll when they do arrive would be convenient.

Then again, maybe I should be wishing for the speedy arrival of a universal G-Sync standard for all. Choices, choices…

The Bit-Tech Christmas Wishlist 2013 The Bit-Tech Christmas Wishlist 2013 - EdOculus Rift… with G-Sync and 4K
I’ve actually yet to use the Oculus Rift despite having been at several events with the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately queuing for several hours isn’t conducive to getting other work done…

Regardless, all the reports about the technology suggest it is as revelation, not just providing the novelty of being able to look around a virtual space using the movement of your head but actually giving you a sense of place that no single monitor can ever do. The idea of feeling the scale of a place must add so much to the visceral thrill of playing any game.

Of course wishlists are all about the world of fantasy so right now I don’t just want an Oculus Rift, I want an Oculus Rift with G-Sync, 4k screens and that arrives tomorrow.

Somehow I’ve a feeling ‘I want never gets’ may apply here…

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bit-tech/bits/~3/e8yX-7nwxwM/1


Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/GamingRipplesWeb/~3/6Y1ICb4zZB4/

Sheer genius: Silicon Valley as a separate state

December 21st, 2013 No comments

Radicalism, at last.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

I’m going to give you a choice.

You can have all the nerds or all the wine.

Come on, you’ve only got 30 seconds to decide.

No, I haven’t already hit the Christmas cabernet franc. Instead, I’ve merely been bathing in the frank proposal to split California into six separate states.

As TechCrunch reported Thursday night, this marvel is the brain offspring of venture capitalist Tim Draper. And truly, it’s an excellent idea.

Timothy Draper

Tim Draper, nattily attired. (File photo from May 2009.)


(Credit:
Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

Living in Northern California, it’s hard for us to accept that we’re lumped together with the likes of, for example, Angelenos. Their insipid self-absorption, their puffy lips, and their overly-financed baseball make them troubling kin.

In this proposal, Los Angeles would now be part of West California. Generously, West California would include the fine wineries of Paso Robles, something which I’m not sure Los Angeles deserves.

Waving the Silicon Valley flag
Still, the most intriguing part of this scheme is that Silicon Valley would be its own state — comprising the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.

The suspicious will have a sense of the real result here: the digital controllers of Silicon Valley, some of greater mental stability than others, will begin their quest to create a governmental utopia, where the greatest minds will flourish unencumbered by notions such as privacy or, well, old-fashioned paper government.

There’s more than a slight odor of the feelings expressed recently by Stanford lecturer Balaji Srinivasan: “We need to build opt-in society, outside the US, run by technology.”

You might think we’re already run by technology, but this new state would be a state of technological ecstasy.

But the likes of Srinivasan believe, deep inside their circuitry, that you ain’t seen nothin’ yet: “The best part is this, the people who think this is weird, the people who sneer at the frontier, who hate technology, won’t follow you there.”

So it might be a farewell to many of the residents of Alameda and Monterey, who might prefer a more human life. They, I am sure, will be welcome in the new North California.

This state will have, at its heart, the louche and the addled, the tasteful and the resigned. And yes, the wineries of Napa and Sonoma will be in this one, now idyllic, state. (We’ll be rid of the palatial bed-sits of San Francisco.)

Draper’s proposal — which will reportedly be put before the California state Attorney General’s sober eyes within the next 48 hours — rightly suggests that California deserves stronger representation.

He says that this six-pack of states will promote competition.

If it goes through, though, will some in the new North California be tempted to charge Silicon Valley a minimum of $200 for our worst wine-in-a-box? In turn, will the new state of Silicon Valley attempt to charge the dissolute northerners an extra $1,000 for every new
iPad. (We’d pay, of course.)

I sense a certain genius behind the California six-pack.

All this tech talk of disruption has been sadly confined to industries that were idling on street corners, picking pockets. These were serial offenders, rather than hardened criminals.

Now the vast, stifled minds of the Valley will show just how much — and how quickly — they can change the world for the better. This will surely be the most social, sharing, altruistic region on Earth.

If the new state of Silicon Valley can show us all a brighter, more beautiful future, then the world will be the better for it. And, of course, bow down to it.

Six Californias Proposal

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/bwJDPWJYKqQ/

Bill Gates plays Secret Santa to Reddit user

December 20th, 2013 No comments

Microsoft Chairman and Secret Santa Bill Gates.

Microsoft Chairman and Secret Santa Bill Gates.


(Credit:
CBS)

Bill Gates as Santa Claus? That’s the role he played to one girl on Reddit.

Excited and shocked when she learned the source behind her generous gift giving, Redditor Rachel detailed the exchange in a Redditgifts post Wednesday night. Served up by the folks at Reddit, Redditgifts is an online gift exchange where people become Secret Santas by exchanging presents with friends and strangers around the world.

Rachel unwrapped the gifts from her Secret Santa to discover a stuffed animal that she added to her teddy bear collection and a National Geographic coffee table book entitled “Journeys of a Lifetime.” Also in the package was a donation to Heifer International made on Rachel’s behalf, a gift that she said nailed it since the organization tries to offer an education and other benefits to people in need.

The true identity of Rachel’s Secret Santa was finally revealed when she found a photo of Gates holding the stuffed animal and the signed donation sent to Heifer International. An inscription in the book with a “really nice message” and note from Gates wishing Rachel a Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday was the topper.

“My God. Never in my entire life did I imagine, ever, ever, ever that Bill would get me,” Rachel wrote in her post. “I am SO SO thankful for the time, thought ,and energy he put into my gift, and especially thankful for him over-nighting it :)”

One item on Rachel’s wishlist wasn’t part of the package — an
Apple iPad. But who needs an iPad when you manage to get Bill Gates as your Secret Santa?

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Gingerbread Optimus Prime: Dessert in disguise

December 20th, 2013 No comments

This gingerbread Optimus Prime dessert is the best kind of robot in disguise.

This gingerbread Optimus Prime dessert is the best kind of robot in disguise.


(Credit:
Reddit)

Nothing will impress Santa more than replacing his traditional cookie plate with a giant edible Autobot.

Caroline Eriksson crafted this giant gingerbread Optimus Prime and entered it in a Norwegian Gingerbread House Contest, where she was selected as a finalist.

While the Autobot might even make director Michael Bay think twice before blowing it up, it does make us wonder why more Transformers don’t change into food instead of vehicles.

How cool would it be if we had Ratchet Ramen? Bumblebee Biscotti? Optimus Prime Rib? Devastator Deviled Eggs? Arcee Cola? Megatron Manwich? Soundwave Spring Rolls? Shockwave Shortcake? Starscream Stir-fry? Thundercracker and Cheese?

Sadly, the closest we’ve gotten to food bots were these Changeables Happy Meal toys from McDonalds.

(Source: Reddit)

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