New Voynich Manuscript reproduction uses new photos, looks great

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An "authorized" reproduction of the legendary Voynich Manuscript is finally available in print form, published by Yale University from new photographs taken for the purpose. Yale's Beinecke Library owns the document and has taken its sweet time putting out a decent art book. The quality is better than the popular "unauthorized" edition published last year; that one uses older scans widely available on the web, but I suppose was good enough to force the university's hand.

The first authorized copy of this mysterious, much-speculated-upon, one-of-a-kind, centuries-old puzzle. The Voynich Manuscript is produced from new photographs of the entire original and accompanied by expert essays that invite anyone to understand and explore the enigma. Many call the fifteenth-century codex, commonly known as the “Voynich Manuscript,” the world’s most mysterious book. Written in an unknown script by an unknown author, the manuscript has no clearer purpose now than when it was rediscovered in 1912 by rare books dealer Wilfrid Voynich. The manuscript appears and disappears throughout history, from the library of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to a secret sale of books in 1903 by the Society of Jesus in Rome. The book’s language has eluded decipherment, and its elaborate illustrations remain as baffling as they are beautiful. For the first time, this facsimile, complete with elaborate folding sections, allows readers to explore this enigma in all its stunning detail, from its one-of-a-kind “Voynichese” text to its illustrations of otherworldly plants, unfamiliar constellations, and naked women swimming though fantastical tubes and green baths.

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Ambulance arrives quickly after accident

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Emergency response times in Zalgo county are superlative! [via] Read the rest

The post-apocalypse in 5 minutes

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Bora Barroso created a compilation of imagery from postapocalyptic movies, creating the ultimate depressing-yet-curiously-liberating vision of human doom.

A Tribute to the Post-Apocalyptic Cinema.

Films Used: - Mad Max Fury Road - I Am Legend - The Book of Eli - The Road - Oblivion - Priest - Los últimos días - Carriers - 28 Days Later - Children of Men - 12 Monkeys - The Day After Tomorrow - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Terminator Salvation

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An AI wrote a Christmas song

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It's not bad. In fact, this is a triumph: a Christmas song written entirely by an artificial intelligence at the University of Toronto. Yet it has that uncanny neural network je ne sais quoi in spades.

I swear it’s Christmas Eve I hope that’s what you say The best Christmas present in the world is a blessing I’ve always been there for the rest of our lives.
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Verizon store customer insists he is "definitely part of ISIS"

PHOTO: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

A Pittsburgh-area man was charged with disorderly conduct after telling Verizon store staff that he was "definitely part of ISIS" and talking about ISIS on the store's demo handsets.

When asked to leave the store, Fleming said “he wouldn't leave the store and that he was definitely part of ISIS,” the complaint said. He also said that “he was calling to get his posse to get them” and other Verizon stores.

Fleming eventually left the store, but was later arrested wearing a ski mask at a bar. Police said he made statements about ISIS to officers and had a block, which he said “I want people to believe it’s C-4 explosive,” the complaint said.

They have all the handsets right there to play with, but make an international call on one and everyone loses their mind! Read the rest

Saturn's hexagonal pole storm revealed in new Cassini probe shots

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Having settled into orbit around Saturn, the Cassini probe has begun returning new images of the gas giant. The BBC reports that it will be "making a series of daredevil maneuvers" in the coming months, risking doom near Saturn's moons to get better shots of them and the rings.

Cassini began what are known as its ring-grazing orbits on 30 November. Each of these week-long orbits - 20 in all - lifts the spacecraft high above Saturn's northern hemisphere before sending it hurtling past the outer edges of the planet's main rings.

Nasa said that it would release images from future passes that included some of the closest-ever views of the outer rings and small moons that orbit there.

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Atari 2600 emulated inside Minecraft

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Seth Bling built a functioning Atari 2600 emulator in Minecraft. Not just the processor, or the box, but the whole thing, complete with cartridges and a television. The white flashing line you see in it is the television's scanning electron beam being emulated. You can watch dirt blocks turn to stone and back: that's the ones and zeroes in the Atari's memory. You can edit the memory, bit by bit, by punching it!

It takes Minecraft about three minutes to draw each frame, but Bling recorded a timelapse of it in action. Click through to the YouTube for a download of the Minecraft world housing the emulator. Here's a technical explanatory video:

Previously: Extremely Mundane Places In Minecraft Read the rest

Recordings of various dolphin species' calls

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Spectrograms of dolphin calls are closer to written English than the signatures I'm able to scrawl on credit card machines in grocery stores. We really should stop messing with these people—who knows what they might be up to?

Voices in the Sea has recordings of twelve different species. Don't miss the selection of videos of acoustic research. Read the rest

1000 years of royalty: nice map of Europe's nastiest families

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Nadieh Breme's Royal Constellations is a delightful starry visualization of a millenium of familial connections between European royals, and it gets right down to business: "Royal & aristocratic families are known for their fondness of marrying within their own clique."

Pick any two and it draws a line between them, revealing ancestral lines going back to the beginning—from the kings of medieval Wales all the way to the Windsors. Read the rest

NoPhone Selfie: world's most minimal handset now reflects user

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Two years ago, the NoPhone launched to rave reviews as the most minimalist yet secure handset on the market. The NoPhone Selfie is the long-awaited follow-up, adding the ability to picture the user themselves without adding significantly to the unit's price.

At $18, the NoPhone Selfie remains among the cheaper options. Mine has a problem, though: the display seems to be stuck on a hideous morph between Chucky the Killer Doll and Brad Dourif, the actor who voices him.

About the Product • The NoPhone is a fake phone for people addicted to real phones • It has no data plan, no camera, no battery and no Wi-Fi but is completely toilet-bowl resistant • It's the perfect phone for someone who uses their phone too much

The NoPhone Selfie [Amazon] Read the rest

Full body costume made of artificial human teeth

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It appears to be a prop from the show Channel Zero, but I'm going to be spreading it virally with a caption about the plight of children born with supracutaneous dentata.

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List of cookies

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You might not know this, but the editors of Wikipedia maintain an automated list of all the world's cookies. The have everything from Germany's Aachener Printen to Neutrassian Zalgowafers, but somehow missed Mealy Grahams from good old England. [via] Read the rest

Trump rants on Twitter about "$4bn" Air Force One replacement

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Boeing stocks tumbled Tuesday after president-elect Donald Trump tweeted about canceling a $4bn Air Force One order. But it was a typical Trumpism: the number is plucked out of nowhere, and Boeing was forced to publicize the fact it's only got the U.S. Government on the hook for $170m, and that the two planes, if ordered, would be $850m each.

“The plane is totally out of control. It’s going to be over $4 billion for Air Force One program and I think it’s ridiculous," he said. "I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”

The president-elect's most recent financial disclosure form, filed in May and detailing his 2015 holdings, showed that the Manhattan billionaire owned between $50,001 and $100,000 worth of stock in Boeing, a purchase he announced on Twitter in 2013. Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump, said Tuesday morning that Trump sold all of his stocks last June.

Miller added that the exact details of Trump's desire to cancel the Boeing order would be dealt with after he is inaugurated next month.

Boeing's stocks rebounded later in the morning as it became apparent Trump was saying untrue things.

(Maybe he doesn't want to fly on it. Same as not wanting to live in the White House.) Read the rest

ReMarkable e-Ink sketching slate pitched at "paper people"

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reMarkable's 10.3" tablet has an e-ink display with a paper-like texture, a digital pencil with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, and promises to finally replace all that paper in your workspace. The pitch: read, write and sketch, all on one gadget.

Unlike traditional paper, reMarkable connects to the digital world when you need it to. Your thoughts, whether they’re words or sketches, are instantly synced to reMarkable’s cloud service and made available on all your devices. Documents and ebooks are easily transferred for reading and reviewing with pen in hand. reMarkable connects to the internet for easy sharing and collaboration across devices. You can even take notes on one device and have it appear on a second device, in real time.

It's 10.2" by 6.9" and a quarter inch thick. It weighs less than a pound, and the 1872 x 1404 pixel display works out at 225 pixels per inch. It runs Linux (not Android, though) and has an ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, 512MB of RAM and WiFi.

It claims a latency of 55ms and the demo video shows performance similar to the iPad Pro, which they say has 60ms latency. Wacom tablet hardware polls at Read the rest

The screenwriter of Arrival on how hard it was to adapt Ted Chiang for the screen

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Eric Heisserer adapted Ted Chiang's novella Story of Your Life as the screenplay Arrival. Both are brilliant, but in different ways. It wasn't easy.

In all my draft work on the adaptation, I spent the most time on the intellectual and political challenges of the story. But if I ever encroached on the intimate, emotional through-line of Louise’s journey, the story fell apart. Other scenes could be sacrificed, reworked, moved, or cut to the bone. But director Denis Villeneuve and I found a bare minimum of steps to Louise’s personal journey, and that became our Alamo; our hill we would die defending. Denis had a knack for visuals that spoke on an emotional level while also dovetailing with the intellectual challenges our characters faced. Marrying those two, sometimes in a single line of dialogue or image, made the film come alive. It made us feel the story. And at the end of the day, what drew me most to Ted Chiang’s story was the way it made me feel, and above all else we wanted to transport and share that feeling with audiences

It's always fascinating to see how the sausage is made. Screenwriters must write for several audiences--the author being adapted, producers, directors--at different stages of the process, while keeping moviegoers in mind all along. You can see here how a master makes his script align with each on its journey to the screen, somehow without alienating everyone.

Also interesting is the fact Final Draft, the expensive and mandatory screenplay production software package, can't handle images—an unusual but unavoidable requirement for a movie full of alien logograms to be deciphered. Read the rest

Bravo Twitter: company promises not to help create Trump's Muslim registry

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The Intercept's Sam Biddle asked nine tech companies if they would help authorities create a national registry of known muslims—one of president-elect Donald Trump's campaign suggestions. Only Twitter would go on the record to state that it would not co-operate with such a list.
Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Bravo. It takes courage and planning for publicly-traded businesses to take a hostile stand on hot potatoes like this, and Twitter bothered. Compare to IBM, whose CEO wrote Trump a slobbering mash note promising the services of her company.

Seven of the other companies didn't respond at all. Microsoft responded with "We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point."

We're asking if tech firms are going to cooperate. But when it comes to inferring affiliations from the mass surveillance of private data, it's just the sort of thing whistleblowers warn us is already going on. Trump's off-the-cuff blather about official registries isn't about what is known, but about making it acceptable.

That said, Biddle's post was met this weekend by dismissive sneering from the Gilfoyles: a good reminder that Silicon Valley is cynical and willing, and that fatalism is the best policy.

Update: Duped Cory. Read the rest

Psychedelics can treat anxiety and depression, but there's a catch

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Jan Hoffman writes about recent research into the effects on psychedelics such as psilocybin on anxiety and depression: "About 80 percent of cancer patients showed clinically significant reductions in both psychological disorders, a response sustained some seven months after the single dose."

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, and Dr. Daniel Shalev of the New York State Psychiatric Institute are among leaders in psychiatry, addiction medicine and palliative care who endorsed the work. The studies, they wrote, are “a model for revisiting criminalized compounds of interest in a safe, ethical way.”

If research restrictions could be eased, they continued, “there is much potential for new scientific insights and clinical applications.”

Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants.

Moreover, there are few side effects. But there is a catch: the experiences must be rigorously contextualized, written down, analyzed, etc.

Dr. Griffiths noted that patients received extensive support, which may have deepened and secured their life-affirming transformations.

“People will take psilocybin at a rave or at Burning Man” — the art and performance desert festival — “but the effect,” he said, “evaporates like water running through their hands.”

Set and setting and settlement. Read the rest

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