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AfroFuturism, the Term and the Work

Admittedly, I have a thing about names. I’ll correct you as many times as it takes before you say mine correctly. I’ll listen to you say your own and try to match it. My undergrad thesis focused on correctly contextualizing the work of Octavia Butler within genre, subgenre and ‘canon’. You see I just put canon in quotes so it shouldn’t surprise you that I had some of my own thoughts about naming a storybundle I curated, Afrofuturism. If you don’t know, there’s a bit of a discussion about the validity and context of this term as well as the power dynamics and agency of naming artistic moments/movements. Instead of rehashing said discussion, I’ll share what interested me as of late: what other authors in the bundle thought about the term. I asked them to define it and to let me know about alternatives they prefer. So without further ado, peep their responses here:  http://www.teneadjohnson.com/2019/05/afrofuturism-power-challenge-naming/

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Near the Levee...

Credit: Mario Tama Getty Images

 

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming


Related spoken word piece: Near the Levee

We cannot exist as a nation without a basic acceptance of common facts. I can't say "2+2=4" and another "2+2=5" and we BOTH be correct!

Abortion: Let's accept hormonal teenagers are likely to do something a little more than "make out" and pet heavily. They have myriad means of gathering information on the sexual act. We can educate them on birth control and responsible sexual behavior as the Netherlands does. Or, we can try "abstinence only" and get abysmal teen pregnancy rates as many red states do.

Climate Change: A sane republican administration accepting the science might use cap and trade policies to make polluting uncomfortable for manufactures financially. Compliance would be a matter of the bottom-line.

A democratic administration did something: The Paris Agreement was landmark policy, involving "an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. The agreement's language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.[4][5] As of March 2019, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 185 have become party to it.[1] The Paris Agreement's long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, since this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change." They might actually spearhead green technologies, spurring economic and job growth.

We're not at a sane point in our republic now.

The $14 billion network of levees and floodwalls that was built to protect greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a seemingly invincible bulwark against flooding.

But now, 11 months after the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of the largest public works projects in world history, the agency says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels and shrinking levees.

The growing vulnerability of the New Orleans area is forcing the Army Corps to begin assessing repair work, including raising hundreds of miles of levees and floodwalls that form a meandering earth and concrete fortress around the city and its adjacent suburbs.

 

After a $14-Billion Upgrade, New Orleans' Levees Are Sinking, Thomas Frank, Scientific American

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The Insistent Center...

Image Source: Facebook

 

Topics: African Americans, Civics, Existentialism, Extinction


NK Jemisin is an African American author of speculative fiction. She's also the victim of a group of trolls on the Internet referring to themselves as the "sad puppies"/"rabid puppies" because of the lack of Euro-centric main characters in her stories, which for the author IS the point.
 

Sonequa Martin-Green, lead on the CBS All Access Star Trek: Discovery was vilified by the same alt-right, racists that could not see anyone other than the clone of Buck Rogers, James T. Kirk, Jean Luc Picard: White Anglo Saxon Protestant, Cisgender (WASP-C)  males as the central "hero" figure and ruminations of fictional "white genocide."

A man who earned his law degree, passed the (ironically) bar and served the nation as Attorney General for the George H.W. Bush administration was also the architect of pardons for key figures in the Iran-Contra Scandal. His 19-page unsolicited memo/job solicitation born of the effectiveness of Rupert Murdoch propaganda cum Fox "News" as he likely regularly consumed that informed his treatise. He was on point yesterday as he dusted off the 80's play book to try the formula on an international audience viewing on cable, Internet and social media. He was immediately labeled a pitiful hack, a caricature of a country bumpkin lawyer and NOT the nation's attorney, but the current president's* Roy Cohn.

William Barr lied. His boss's staff lied. His boss is a prolific liar, telling 8,718 as tabulated January of this year. The Mueller Report - redacted or not - only confirms what we already know and that the hypocrisy of the white evangelical right rises to the stench of dung hills. The institution is the white-washed sepulcher of white nationalism. It is the spur of the exodus with organized religion in the US.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

There are TEN attempts to obstruct justice in the report. Despite lies told to Mueller by his then deputy press secretary  Sarah Sanders, despite the fact the report did NOT exonerate him, his minions, his staff, his fascist cult base will claim total exoneration, because facts and fascism are not on speaking terms. They never have been.

GONE are the halcyon days of Grey Poupon and Tan Suit scandals breathlessly pursued by Sean Hannity et al. President Obama DID golf during his presidency as did his WASP-C predecessors, but his current successor has taken golfing to steroidal levels, greeted by the same right wing propaganda echo chamber...with crickets.

All these intersect in Venn diagram fashion of centrality: of a 400-year insistence that the stories told about our country has one hue, one type of damsel in distress and one repeating, ad nausem conclusion: the hero is white, heteronormal.

And that hero has to be white because our concepts of god is a white male in the sky, judging and damning every aspect of our existence. Therefore the president in tan suit with Melanin is an aberration from the mental ideal we've been conditioned to respect and accept.

Let me be blunt:

1. The POTUS is a crook. As David Frum points out, it may be a choice of the current presidency*, or rule of law.

2. He is a racist. He doesn't have to wear a swastika; a Klan hood or quote chapter and verse of Mein Kamph. As George Will opined, he's barely on speaking terms with the English language. He's an admitted nationalist. He's tweeted against a sitting congresswoman and Somali immigrant that has increased death threats against her. He's too cowardly to do his own violence, but he's pyromaniac enough to light the fire and run.

3. The AG is a hack and a liar.

We’re not a democratic republic; not even an oligarchy or kleptocracy. We’re a kakistocracy: “government under the control of a nation's worst or least-qualified citizens.”

This is what Rome looked like before it fell.

This is what - for our own survival - we have to fix.
 
Gil Scott-Heron: B-Movie, Genius Lyrics (both insightful analysis and prophecy).
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Distant Cousins...

Callao Cave, Luzon Island, The Philippines

Image credits:
Callao Cave Archaeology Project

 

Topics: Biology, DNA, Evolution, History, Research


(Inside Science) -- In a jungle cave in the Philippines, scientists have discovered fossils of what may be a new human species they call Homo luzonensis. The newfound teeth and bones combine primitive and modern traits in a way never previously seen together in one species, and suggest much remains to be discovered about human evolution outside Africa.
 
Image Source: Homo luzonensis

Although modern humans, Homo sapiens, are now the only surviving branch of the genus Homo, other species of humans once roamed across Earth. For example, previous research suggested Homo erectus, the most likely ancestor of modern humans, made its way out of Africa by at least 1.8 million years ago. In contrast, modern humans may have only begun dispersing from Africa roughly 200,000 years ago.

Fifteen years ago, scientists revealed an unusual extinct human species from the Indonesian island of Flores -- Homo floresiensis, often called "the hobbit" due to its diminutive size, which lived on Earth during the same time as modern humans. This finding hinted that other hominins -- any relatives of modern humans dating from after our ancestors split from those of chimpanzees -- might await discovery in Southeast Asia.
 

Researchers Find a New Ancient Human Species in the Philippines
Charles Q. Choi, Live Science

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Ethics of Genesis...

MS. TECH; EVOLUTION: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

 

Topics: Biology, Ethics, Genetics, Science Fiction


Note: The article "went there" before I could.

"Beware the beast man, for he is the devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home, and yours. Shun him... for he is the harbinger of death." Internet Movie Database, Planet of the Apes (1968) Synopsis

 

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Human intelligence is one of evolution’s most consequential inventions. It is the result of a sprint that started millions of years ago, leading to ever bigger brains and new abilities. Eventually, humans stood upright, took up the plow, and created civilization, while our primate cousins stayed in the trees.

Now scientists in southern China report that they've tried to narrow the evolutionary gap, creating several transgenic macaque monkeys with extra copies of a human gene suspected of playing a role in shaping human intelligence.

“This was the first attempt to understand the evolution of human cognition using a transgenic monkey model,” says Bing Su, the geneticist at the Kunming Institute of Zoology who led the effort.

According to their findings, the modified monkeys did better on a memory test involving colors and block pictures, and their brains also took longer to develop—as those of human children do. There wasn’t a difference in brain size.

Su’s monkeys raise some unusual questions about animal rights. In 2010, Sikela and three colleagues wrote a paper called “The ethics of using transgenic non-human primates to study what makes us human,” in which they concluded that human brain genes should never be added to apes, such as chimpanzees, because they are too similar to us.

“You just go to the Planet of the Apes immediately in the popular imagination,” says Jacqueline Glover, a University of Colorado bioethicist who was one of the authors. “To humanize them is to cause harm. Where would they live and what would they do? Do not create a being that can’t have a meaningful life in any context.”

 

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Not to go all Cassandra on you, but...

At the story's heart is Caesar (Andy Serkis), a chimpanzee who gains human-like intelligence and emotions from an experimental drug. Raised like a child by the drug's creator, Will Rodman (James Franco) and a primatologist Caroline Aranha (Freida Pinto), Caesar ultimately finds himself taken from the humans he loves and imprisoned in an ape sanctuary in San Bruno. Seeking justice for his fellow inmates, Caesar gives the fellow apes the same drug that he inherited. He then assembles a simian army and escapes the sanctuary - putting man and ape on a collision course that could change the planet forever. Internet Movie Database, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) Storyline

 

Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkeys—and yes, they may be smarter
Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review

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Event Horizon...

Scientists have obtained the first-ever image of a black hole — at center of the galaxy M87. Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

 

Topics: Astrophysics, Black Holes, Cosmology, Einstein


(Yesterday) At six simultaneous press conferences around the globe, astronomers on Wednesday announced they had accomplished the seemingly impossible: taking a picture of a black hole, a cosmic monster so voracious that light itself cannot escape its clutches.

This historic feat, performed by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)—a planet-spanning network of radio observatories—required more than a decade of effort. The project’s name refers to a black hole’s most defining characteristic, an “event horizon” set by the object’s mass and spin beyond which no infalling material, including light, can ever return.

“We have taken the first picture of a black hole,” the EHT project’s director, Sheperd Doeleman, said in a news release. “This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers.”

The image unveils the shadowy face of a 6.5-billion-solar-mass supermassive black hole at the core of Messier 87 (M87), a large galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth in the Virgo galaxy cluster. Such objects are a reflection of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which predicts that only so much material can be squeezed into any given volume before the overwhelming force of its accumulated gravity causes a collapse—a warp in the fabric of spacetime that swallows itself. Left behind is an almost featureless nothingness that, for lack of better terms, scientists simply call a black hole.

"Gargantua," special effects from the movie, Interstellar, 2014 (Kip Thorne et al guessed right):
Image Source: HDQ Walls dot com

 

At Last, a Black Hole’s Image Revealed, Lee Billings, Scientific American

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Sunshine Fascism...

Source: Ecosia Images


Topics: Civics, Existentialism, History, Politics


"We are a people of different religions, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls... We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity … in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people." (1928) Wikiquote: Religious views of Adolf Hitler

 

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Fascism is a movement that promotes the idea of a forcibly monolithic, regimented nation under the control of an autocratic ruler. The word fascism comes from fascio, the Italian word for bundle, which in this case represents bundles of people. Its origins go back to Ancient Rome, when the fasces was a bundle of wood with an ax head, carried by leaders.

On March 23, 1919, the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento — a group that grew out of a number of earlier movements that had also used the image of the fascio in their names — met for the first time in Piazza San Sepolcro in Milan. At this rally, Mussolini said that membership in the new group “commits all fascists to sabotaging the candidacies of the neutralists of all parties by any means necessary.”

“Mussolini thought that democracy was a failed system. He thought that liberty of expression and liberty of parties was a sham, and that fascism would organize people under state power,” Ben-Ghiat says. “Their idea was you would be freer because you wouldn't have any class consciousness. You’re just supposed to worship the nation. It’s nation over class.”

The corollary of that belief was the idea that anything that might impede national unity had to be gotten rid of, and violently. In fact, violence was seen as beneficial to society.

And “society” was not a loosely defined idea. Rather, Mussolini and those who came after him had very specific ideas about who got to be part of the nation. It followed that those who did not fit the mold were seen as disruptive to that unity, and thus subject to violence.

To set the tone for a dystopian movie, one typically gets a noir treatment: lighting is dark, air is misty; camera angles are stark and weather is typically overcast. The decision to "go glum" is likely due to only having a few hours to make their point and resolve any plot twists to the denouement and conclusion. An in-your-face theatrical release might involve swastikas, goose stepping and nostalgic, feel-good faux patriotism.

Even though there have been decidedly darker days under authoritarian regimes, every day looks like any other day when ruled by fascism. There are for example, photos of Hitler on holiday at his villa in Bavaria. It looked sunny; he (for a monster) looked happy.

Democracy depends on a shared set of facts that can be debated in discussed either in a court, on a congressional floor or near a coffee machine at work. It's affable and seeks a happy medium: no one gets everything they desire, but it does require compromise.

Fascism is nothing at all like that. Like George Orwell's famous novel, "1984," fascism requires and demands power for its own sake. It wants what it wants for the sake of wanting. History has no meaning to it at all. Logic and reason have no appeal or sway in people who traffic in "alternative facts" or its Karl Rove precursor: "created realities."

- It is why you can justify the outright theft of land from First Nations' peoples and slaughter them at will for "Manifest Destiny."

- It is why you can have the transatlantic slave trade with no moral or monetary compensation (reparations) to its African Diaspora descendants.

- It is why they demonize people of color as "lazy, shiftless, moochers and cheats" on all things, particularly academic, and now the SAT college scandal has blown up the previous myth of meritocracy in their faces that they were desperate to maintain for credentials and supremacy. 

- It is why as presidential Manchurian Candidate, can say "WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks," and on the arrest of Julian Assange can say with a straight, orange face "I know nothing about WikiLeaks."

- It is why the same can incite violence of his followers and deny doing so in the same breath.

- It is why the Attorney General can send an unsolicited 19 page memo campaigning for a job to essentially not be the top cop, but the president's personal Roy Cohn and slow walk the Mueller Report to Congress and the public.

- It is why we insist on telling ourselves comforting fables about American benevolence; about being Winthrop's "shining city on a hill" (who himself had no stomach for "the other") so as to not face our own national depravity...

...our own foundation of racism, sexism, homophobia, genocide and fascism.

Giovanni Gentile (not Mussolini) coined the phrase "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." But this is not what access media conglomerates will say about it. They'll pretend there is still a middle ground that only requires compromise and clever arguments. They will still opine for a former, mythological days where things worked if only (typically) democrats gave concessions to republicans' demands.

During the Great Depression, Marine Major General Smedley Butler narced on what was called the Business Plot to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt and install Butler as a dictator compliant to corporate interests. He wrote the treatise "War is a Racket."

There are quite a few American billionaire families with Nazis ties, starting with Ford, GM, Chrysler, IBM, and JP Morgan Chase. The Koch’s father did business with the Nazis and Russians. The Bush’s and Kennedy’s (Prescott and Papa Joe) were Nazi sympathizers.

Ayn Rand provided the fictional cover: behind every massive fortune, there are likely crimes.

 

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To set the tone for a dystopian movie, one typically gets a noir treatment: lighting is dark, air is misty; camera angles are stark and weather is typically overcast.

 

When you tell yourself comforting lies, a liar may ascend to power.


Fascism like weather can change its environs and display its power on blithe, sunny days.

 

Related link:

More Than A Dozen European Billionaires—Linked To BMW, L’Oréal, Bosch—Have Families With Past Nazi Ties
Madeline Berg, Forbes Magazine

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Black Comic Books Aren't Worth A Quarter!

How much do you think the first black comic book is worth?  I picked up "Brotherman #1" at a store for 25 cents.  When I went to the register, the clerk let me have it for free!  How much do you think the first comic book is worth?  In recent years, "Action Comics #1" sold for two and three million dollars?!  As comic book creators, are we expecting too much value from our merchandise? Whoever is supposed to buy our stuff is probably never going to value it beyond its retail price at the vendor's booth.  Since this is the case, then all of our efforts to be remembered end the moment it leaves the newsstand.  I visited Africomics, the premier black comic book portal, recently and found broken links among dead webpages.  Every comic book creator used the free submission link feature rather than banner advertising which no one has ever used according to the site owner.  Was it because they didn't think their comics were worth the ad space or that only search engines would crawl the site?  A fellow named Roye Okupe who created Youneek Studios' Malinka tried to help othe black comic book creative types last year with Creative Biz Launch.  It failed to draw support or fill the need of black comic book creators who are a dime a dozen at fan conventions.  What all of this means is that black comics are only self-serving a need for creative types to feel like they could have made something worth two or three million dollars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quantum Droplets...

For ultracold experiments, atoms are held in vacuum by a glass cell, shown here. The atoms are then cooled to ultralow temperatures to create a Bose–Einstein condensate. (Photo courtesy of Wolfram Scheible.)

 

Topics: Bose-Einstein Condensate, Condensed Matter Physics, van der Waals


In his PhD thesis from 1873, Johannes van der Waals devised a theoretical framework to describe the gas and liquid phases of a molecular ensemble and the phase transition from one to the other. That work resulted in the celebrated equation of state bearing his name. To this day, the van der Waals theory is still the prevailing picture in most physicists’ minds to explain the emergence of the liquid state. It asserts that the liquid state arises at high densities from an equilibrium between attractive interatomic forces and short-range repulsion. Now, a new type of liquid has emerged in ultracold, extremely dilute atomic systems for which the van der Waals model does not predict a liquid phase.

Using the tools of laser cooling and trapping, experimenters can reach the ultracold regime to create atomic quantum gases.1 Quantum interference effects between atoms are an important part of the statistical descriptions of those systems. However, if a monatomic ensemble is simply cooled, any chemical species will form a liquid instead of a gas due to van der Waals forces and the system will never reach the quantum regime. So to see quantum effects, the classical liquid state must be avoided. That requires extremely low densities that keep the distances between atoms much larger than the range of attractive forces that would bind the liquid. But keeping the atoms far apart traps them in a dilute, metastable state. A whole new mechanism is needed for atoms in such dilute conditions to form a liquid phase.

 

Ultradilute Quantum Droplets, Igor Ferrier-Barbut, Physics Today
Igor Ferrier-Barbut is a researcher at the Institut d’Optique and CNRS in Palaiseau, France.

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I am acquainted with a local Emmy award winning filmmaker where I live who is producing a reboot of his tv crime series from 2008.  Although he is black, he writes and produces material that does not come from the Black experience.  Does the fact that if something is written, produced and directed by a black person still qualify as a black narrative?  Out of Darkness: Cleveland is a black crime sci-fi drama about a shadow devouring crime.  Where they used to hide in the shadow, now they are being devoured by it.  So, this is a black narrative that isn't really about black people.

https://youtu.be/GQzDvWXof_4

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Lumpy Neutron Stars...

An artist’s rendition of a neutron star. Credit: Kevin Gill Flickr (CC by 2.0)

 

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Einstein, Gravitational Waves, Neutron Stars


Gravitational waves—the ghostly ripples in spacetime first predicted by Einstein and finally detected a century later by advanced observatories—have sparked a revolution in astrophysics, revealing the otherwise-hidden details of merging black holes and neutron stars. Now, scientists have used these waves to open another new window on the universe, providing new constraints on neutron stars' exact shapes. The result will aid researchers in their ongoing quest to understand the inner workings of these exotic objects.

So far, 11 gravitational-wave events have been detected by the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) interferometers in Washington and Louisiana and the Virgo gravitational-wave observatory in Italy. Of these events, 10 came from mergers of binary black holes, and one from the merger of two neutron stars. In all cases, the form of the waves matched the predictions of Einstein's theory of general relativity.

For the binary black hole events, the passing waves lasted less than a second; for the merging neutron stars, the emissions occurred for about 100 seconds. But such rapid pulses aren't the only types of gravitational waves that could be streaming through the universe. In particular, solitary neutron stars might be emitting detectable gravitational waves as they spin—signals that could reveal important new details of the stars' topography and internal composition.

 

Gravitational Observatories Hunt for Lumpy Neutron Stars
David Appell, Scientific American

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AI, Control and Turing...

Image Source: Comic Book dot com - Star Trek


Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Existentialism, Star Trek


If you're fan enough as I am to pay for the CBS streaming service (it has some benefits: Young Sheldon and the umpteenth reboot of The Twilight Zone hosted by Oscar winner Jordan Peele), the AI in Starfleet's "Control" looks an awful lot like...The Borg. I've enjoyed the latest iteration immensely, and I'm rooting for at least a season 3.

There's already speculation on Screen Rant that this might be some sort of galactic "butterfly effect." Discovery has taken some license with my previous innocence even before Section 31: we're obviously not "the good guys" with phasers, technobabble and karate chops as I once thought.

That of course has been the nature of speculative fiction since Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein: that playing God, humanity would manage to create something that just might kill us. Various objects from nuclear power to climate change has taken on this personification. I've often wondered if intelligence is its own Entropy. Whole worlds above us might be getting along just fine without a single invention of language, science, tools, cities or spaceflight, animal species living and dying without anything more than their instinct, hunger and the inbred need to procreate unless a meteor sends them into extinction. Homo sapien or homo stultus...

It is the Greek word mimesis we translate to mean "imitate" but can actually be more accurately said as "re-presentation." It is the Plato-Aristotle origin of the colloquial phrase "art imitates life."

Re-presented for your consumption and contemplation:

Yoshua Bengio is one of three computer scientists who last week shared the US$1-million A. M. Turing award — one of the field’s top prizes.

The three artificial-intelligence (AI) researchers are regarded as the founders of deep learning, the technique that combines large amounts of data with many-layered artificial neural networks, which are inspired by the brain. They received the award for making deep neural networks a “critical component of computing”.

The other two Turing winners, Geoff Hinton and Yann LeCun, work for Google and Facebook, respectively; Bengio, who is at the University of Montreal, is one of the few recognized gurus of machine learning to have stayed in academia full time.

But alongside his research, Bengio, who is also scientific director of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), has raised concerns about the possible risks from misuse of technology. In December, he presented a set of ethical guidelines for AI called the Montreal declaration at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) meeting in the city.

Do you see a lot of companies or states using AI irresponsibly?

There is a lot of this, and there could be a lot more, so we have to raise flags before bad things happen. A lot of what is most concerning is not happening in broad daylight. It’s happening in military labs, in security organizations, in private companies providing services to governments or the police.

What are some examples?

Killer drones are a big concern. There is a moral question, and a security question. Another example is surveillance — which you could argue has potential positive benefits. But the dangers of abuse, especially by authoritarian governments, are very real. Essentially, AI is a tool that can be used by those in power to keep that power, and to increase it.

AI pioneer: ‘The dangers of abuse are very real’
Yoshua Bengio, winner of the prestigious Turing award for his work on deep learning, is establishing international guidelines for the ethical use of AI.
Davide Castelvecchi, Nature

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Antithesis of Wisdom...

 

Topics: Biology, Civics, Climate Change, Existentialism, Entropy, Mars, Politics


Chimpanzees look up to those they consider to be more prestigious, echoing the way that young people admire celebrities such as David Beckham and Cheryl Cole, according to a new study. Researchers found that apes copy the actions of those they consider to have high status within their group.

Professor Whiten commented, “Teenagers look to pop stars as social models, copying their clothing, mannerisms and speech. Adults are inspired by prominent members of their society, such as successful professionals. Our study shows that chimpanzees are similarly selective in their choice of trend setters.” [1]

 

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Abstract

Humans follow the example of prestigious, high-status individuals much more readily than that of others, such as when we copy the behavior of village elders, community leaders, or celebrities. This tendency has been declared uniquely human, yet remains untested in other species. Experimental studies of animal learning have typically focused on the learning mechanism rather than on social issues, such as who learns from whom. The latter, however, is essential to understanding how habits spread. Here we report that when given opportunities to watch alternative solutions to a foraging problem performed by two different models of their own species, chimpanzees preferentially copy the method shown by the older, higher-ranking individual with a prior track-record of success. Since both solutions were equally difficult, shown an equal number of times by each model and resulted in equal rewards, we interpret this outcome as evidence that the preferred model in each of the two groups tested enjoyed a significant degree of prestige in terms of whose example other chimpanzees chose to follow. Such prestige-based cultural transmission is a phenomenon shared with our own species. If similar biases operate in wild animal populations, the adoption of culturally transmitted innovations may be significantly shaped by the characteristics of performers. [2]

 

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Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica is often referred to as the "Doomsday glacier" because of its sheer size and position as "'backstop' for four other glaciers which holds an additional 10-13 feet of sea level rise." [3] Add the two feet of sea level Thwaites holds and Florida may have a little more to fear than the denials of their republican senators on the impact of climate change.

I've used the term fascism before, not because it's powerful but because it's stupid. The basis of its appeal is fear: fear of the "other," fear of the future, fear particularly of a supposed loss of birth numbers, therefore future voters and numerical power. So-called "white" supremacy has always been a math game of bad algebra and pure ignorance.

But it does not benefit the crowd proudly without Melanin, intellect and possessing MAGA hats: the celebrity chimps with all the bananas above them they worship use the faux demarcation points of politically constructed cultural differences to rob blind the very people that become their shock troops. Rigging elections is not beneath the 1% simians, as they've motivated their rubes that their "white" team won, despite the lack of sharing of spoils after said rigging, Russian interference or not. Socialism is thrown up as demon while demons rob rubes. They ask for "trick-down" bananas" and get feces. Smoking causing cancer must be denied. Humans causing climate impact MUST be denied until the last drop of oil; the last fracking of methane. Then, the royal chimpanzees will wall themselves up as sea levels rise, soundproof beyond "weeping and gnashing of teeth." They'll have extra bananas to live on as the rest of the planet starves. Eventually, their impressive supplies will run out. Perhaps they'll resort to the cannibalism as the Jamestown colonists did in desperation, eating their own children first. Eventually they will see their last sunrise in splendid, decaying mansions atop a canopy of the forest they razed. Currently, their high potentate Orange Orangutan cannot discriminate "orange" and "origin"; that his own father was born in the Bronx and not the Germany and thinks windmills causes cancer.

Homo sapiens, (Latin: “wise man”) the species to which all modern human beings belong. Homo sapiens is one of several species grouped into the genus Homo, but it is the only one that is not extinct. [YET] See also human evolution. Source: Britannica

Entropy - the measure of a system's thermal energy per unit temperature that is unavailable for doing useful work. Because work is obtained from ordered molecular motion, the amount of entropy is also a measure of the molecular disorder, or randomness, of a system. Encyclopedia Britannica

Having stupid citizens also serves a more ‘noble’ purpose. Although most of us want to be treated as intelligent beings, it is also in the interest of ruling parties – be they political or religious – to have an overall stupid population, dumb enough to make them controllable. Education and knowledge are being pushed aside in favour of technical training. Governments are more interested in a highly-skilled labour force than in critical and intelligent citizens. The media feed the population with ready-made entertainment and information, thus forming people’s minds according to what is preferable for the overall functioning of society. Zoereei, Homo stultus

Mars may have been a living world once. We still study it. We wish to terraform it. Mars as a world still takes 687 days to complete its year. It will take 365.25 days for Earth to complete its year...whether we're here, or not.
 

Homo Stultus - foolish man, stupid man: the chimps are exonerated.

1. Chimpanzee trend-setters: New study shows that chimps 'ape' the prestigious, University of St. Andrews, 2010, Phys.org
2. Prestige Affects Cultural Learning in Chimpanzees, Victoria Horner, Darby Proctor, Kristin E. Bonnie, Andrew Whiten, Frans B. M. de Waal, PLOS Journal
3. A glacier the size of Florida is on track to change the course of human civilization. Pakalolo, Daily Kos

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Sagittarius A...

Getty Images


Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Black Holes, Cosmology, Einstein


They've captured our imaginations for decades, but we've never actually photographed a black hole before – until now.

Next Wednesday, at several press briefings around the world, scientists will apparently unveil humanity's first-ever photo of a black hole, the European Space Agency said in a statement. Specifically, the photo will be of "Sagittarius A," the supermassive black hole that's at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

But aren't black holes, well, black, and thus invisible, so none of our telescopes can "see" them? Yes – therefore the image we're likely to see will be of the "event horizon," the edge of the black hole where light can't escape. [1]

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Next week, a collection of countries around the world are going to make a big announcement, and no one is sure exactly what it’s going to be. However, there are some possibilities, and the most exciting one is that they are about to reveal the first-ever photograph of the event horizon of a black hole.

Taking a photo of a black hole is not an easy task. Not only are black holes famous for not letting any light escape, even the nearest known black holes are very far away. The specific black hole astronomers wanted to photograph, Sagittarius A*, lies at the center of our galaxy 25,000 light-years away.

The international Event Horizon Telescope project announced its plan to photograph Sagittarius A* back in 2017, and they enlisted some of the world’s biggest telescopes to help out. The researchers used half a dozen radio telescopes, including the ALMA telescope in Chile and the James Clerk Maxwell telescope in Hawaii, to stare at Sagittarius A* over the past two years.

And while a picture of the black hole itself is impossible, the EHT astronomers were really aiming at the next best thing: the event horizon, the border of the black hole beyond which not even light can escape. At the event horizon, gravity is so strong that light will orbit the black hole like planets orbit stars, and our telescopes should be able to pick that up. [2]
 

1. 'Something no human has seen before': The first-ever photograph of a black hole will likely be unveiled next week, Doyle Rice, USA Today
2. We Might Be About to See the First Ever Photo of a Black Hole, Avery Thomson, Popular Mechanics

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The Talented Tenth Saga----PLEASE DONATE

The Talented Tenth Saga will be an 8 issue, limited run comic book series and film.  This series is unique for many reasons.

  • First of all, it will feature real people versus hand drawn or CGI characters. This is why actors and actresses will be sought.
  • Secondly, the main characters in the world of The Talented Tenth Saga will be diverse as the world we live in.
  • And lastly, all 8 issues will be given out for free and can be read at beauty shops, barber shops, schools, libraries and other organizations in local communities starting in Madison County, Alabama and beyond. The film will be uploaded to YouTube and other platforms for free to enjoy and view.

The comic book can be downloaded on IndyPlanet.com

Please support this project.

https://www.ioby.org/project/talented-tenth-saga

Everyone Deserves Heroes That Look Like THEM

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February Four...

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Founder of Bethune-Cookman University. Bio and link to image below

Topics: African Americans, Civil Rights, Education, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Arkansas Baptist College

History & Mission
Arkansas Baptist College, originally named the Minister’s Institute, was founded in 1884 by the Colored Baptists of Arkansas during their annual convention at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Little Rock. The primary objective of the institute was to raise the educational level within the Negro ministry. The secondary objective was to aid the state in making higher education available to young Negro men and women. Most of the school’s students were trained in the ministry and today, Religious Studies continues to be one of the College’s major areas of matriculation.

In April 1885, the College’s name was changed to Arkansas Baptist College, and the school moved to 16th and High Street where the campus is currently located; however, the formal address is now 1621 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive.

Thirteen presidents have served as institutional leaders of Arkansas Baptist College from 1887 through 2016. In August 2016, The Arkansas Baptist College Board of Trustees selected Dr. Joseph L. Jones as the College’s 14th President. As president, Dr. Jones’ promise to the College is to continue the College’s efforts to remain steadfast in its journey becoming recognized as an outstanding institution of higher education.

Arkansas Baptist College is an urban Historically Black College located in the historic Little Rock Central High District. It also neighbors the Wright Avenue District and the famous Paul Lawrence Dunbar Junior High School. The College is the only Baptist affiliated Historically Black College west of the Mississippi and has a student population close to one thousand from all across the United States. Founded in 1884 as the Minister’s Institute, the College continues to be supported by the Consolidated Missionary Baptist State Convention.

Barbara-Scotia College

Our Mission
"Barber-Scotia College strives to provide a learning environment for the total development of students to realize their potential and capabilities through post-secondary education, gaining marketable skills, aesthetic awareness and recognition of social responsibility and accountability, enabling them to become successful and productive citizens of the counties of which they reside and work."

Barber-Scotia College is strengthening the ties in fulfilling its mission to provide a cadre of educated Leaders. The College prepares students to create jobs.

Our Vision
Barber-Scotia College aspires to be a preeminent leader, recognized for preparing a workforce of "Next Generation Leaders" in the Energy and Business Entrepreneurship sectors.

Benedict College

Founded in 1870 by a woman, Bathsheba A. Benedict, Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution with 2,100 students enrolled in its 34 baccalaureate degree programs during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Benedict College, originally Benedict Institute, was founded 148 years ago under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. As Benedict’s first philanthropist, Mrs. Benedict of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, provided $13,000 towards the purchase of an 80-acre plantation near Columbia, South Carolina as the site for a new school for the recently freed people of African descent. Benedict Institute, operating in a former slave master’s mansion, was established, in the words of its founder to prepare men and women to be a “power for good in society.”

During the first quarter century of its existence, Benedict Institute directed its educational programs to the severely limited economic and social conditions of the black population in the South. The Institute’s original objective was to educate and train teachers and preachers, therefore, Benedict’s first curriculum included reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, and religion. Later, the curriculum was expanded to include traditional college disciplines, which also included an industrial department offering carpentry, shoemaking, printing, and painting.

On November 2, 1894, the South Carolina Legislature chartered the institution as a liberal arts college and the name “Benedict Institute” was formally changed to “Benedict College.”

From its founding, Benedict College was led by a succession of northern white Baptist ministers and educators. However, the year 1930 signaled the succession of African-American male presidents that continued until June 30, 2017, when Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis was unanimously appointed by the Benedict College Board of Trustees as the 14th President of Benedict College. She is the fourteenth and first-female President in the 148-year history of the college.

Benedict College has been highly regarded and exceptionally ranked for its programs by several academic and traditional publications. For example, Benedict College was ranked as one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for creating social mobility, producing cutting-edge scholarship, and research.

Benedict offers several high-demand fields of study in STEM, Cyber Security, Mass Communication, Sport Management, Business Administration, Engineering, Computer Science, Biology, and Education. Benedict has a diverse faculty of which 80 percent are full-time, and 60 percent hold doctorates or the equivalent.

Bethune-Cookman University

Born on a farm near Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875, Mary McLeod Bethune, the 15th child of former slaves, rose from humble beginnings to become a world-renowned educator, civil and human rights leader, champion for women and young people, and an advisor to five U.S. presidents.

Education was the first step in her remarkable journey. The young Mary McLeod worked in the fields alongside her parents and siblings, until she enrolled at the age of 10 in the one-room Trinity Presbyterian Mission School. There, she learned to read, and, as she later noted, the whole world opened to me. She went on to study at Scotia Seminary in North Carolina and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with the goal of becoming a missionary. When no missionary openings were available, she became a teacher, first at the Haines Institute in Augusta, Georgia and then at the Kendall Institute in Sumpter, South Carolina, where she met and married Albertus Bethune. The dream of opening her own school took Mary McLeod Bethune to Florida first to Palatka and then to Daytona Beach, where she started the school that would become Bethune-Cookman University.

On October 3, 1904, a very determined young black woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls with $1.50, faith in God and five little girls: Lena, Lucille, and Ruth Warren, Anna Geiger and Celest Jackson. Through Dr. Bethune’s lifetime the school underwent several stages of growth and development and on May 24, 1919, the Daytona Educational and Industrial Institute was changed to Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute. In 1923 the school merged with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida (founded in 1872) and became co-ed while it also gained the prestigious United Methodist Church affiliation. Although the merger of Bethune’s school and Cookman Institute began in 1923, it was not finalized until 1925 when both schools collaborated to become the Daytona-Cookman Collegiate Institute. In 1931, the College became accredited by the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Southern States, as a Junior College with class B status, and on April 27, 1931, the school’s name was officially changed to Bethune-Cookman College to reflect the leadership of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

In 1936, Dr. Bethune was appointed administrative assistant for Negro Affairs (her title changed in 1939 to Director of the Division of Negro Affairs) of the National Youth Administration (NYA) making her the first African American women to head a federal agency. As of result of this position, much needed government funds were funneled into the school. While traveling with the NYA Dr. Bethune appointed Mr. Abram L. Simpson as acting president from 1937-39. In 1941, the Florida State Department of Education approved a 4-year baccalaureate program offering liberal arts and teacher education. Dr. Bethune retired in 1942 at which time James E. Colston became president until 1946 when Dr. Bethune resumed the presidency for a year.
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February Two...

Image Source: Custom Ink: #StandWithBennett

Topics: African Americans, Bennett College, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Note: Because of the urgency of the of the hour, I am listing Bennett College First. All other colleges will fall alphabetically after today.

Bennett College

Mission

Bennett College prepares women of color through a transformative liberal arts education to lead with purpose, integrity, and a strong sense of self-worth. Bennett provides educational access to students while promoting inquiry, civic engagement, social justice, lifelong learning, and equity for all.

Vision
Bennett College is renowned for its intimate, engaging learning community that produces phenomenal women scholars and global leaders.

Philosophy
Bennett College’s undergirding philosophy is that a high quality college experience should provide its women students with strong academic and co-curricular programs that encourage their personal development, endorse life-long learning, and prepare them to meet the needs of an ever-changing society.

Bennett College values and respects every member of its community. As a United Methodist Church-related institution, the College believes that education should be related to humanitarian ends.

Alabama A&M University

Historic, Student-Friendly, Community-Focused
Reflecting its heritage as a traditional 1890 land-grant institution, Alabama A&M University (AAMU) functions as a teaching, research, and public service institution, including extension. AAMU is a dynamic and progressive institution with a strong commitment to academic excellence. The serene, intimate campus is situated on “The Hill,” only a short distance from downtown Huntsville, the site of the school’s founding.

Our History

  • Founded in 1875 by a former slave, William Hooper Councill and opened as the “Huntsville Normal School” in downtown Huntsville.
  • Taught industrial education and became the “State Normal and Industrial School at Huntsville.”
  • Designated an 1890 land-grant institution by the federal government in February 1891. The school's name was changed to “The State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes.”
  • Became a junior college in 1919, named “The State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute for Negroes.”
  • In 1946, received a “Class A” rating by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
  • In 1948, named the “Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College.”
  • In 1963, became a fully accredited member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
  • In 1969, became “Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.”

Alabama State University

History & Tradition
Alabama State University’s 148-year history is a legacy of perseverance, progress and promise. The ASU movement began with the impetus to establish a school for black Alabamians. The Civil War resulted in not only the end of slavery, but also in the opportunity for blacks to have the right to education. With the Northern victory, black Southerners, with the assistance of Northern white missionaries and the leaders of African-American churches, set out to establish educational institutions for the freedmen. ASU was born in that movement.

ASU is the global entity it is today because of the fortitude of nine freed slaves from Marion, Ala., who sought to build a school for African-Americans previously denied the right to an education. The foresight of these men, now remembered as the “Marion Nine,” created what is now known as Alabama State University.

The Marion Nine included Joey P. Pinch, Thomas Speed, Nicholas Dale, James Childs, Thomas Lee, John Freeman, Nathan Levert, David Harris and Alexander H. Curtis. These co-founders and original trustees, with assistance from Marion community members, raised $500 for land, and on July 18, 1867, filed incorporation papers to establish the Lincoln Normal School at Marion.

The Lincoln School opened its doors on November 13, 1867, with 113 students. In 1873, this predecessor of Alabama State University became the nation’s first state-sponsored liberal arts institution for the higher education of blacks, beginning ASU’s rich history as a “Teacher’s College.”

Vision Statement
Albany State University will be a world-class comprehensive university and a powerful catalyst for the economic growth and development of Southwest Georgia. ASU will be recognized for its innovative and creative delivery of excellent educational programs, broad-based community engagement and public service, and creative scholarship and applied research, all of which enrich the lives of the diverse constituencies served by the University.

Mission Statement
Albany State University, a proud member institution of the University System of Georgia, elevates its community and region by offering a broad array of graduate, baccalaureate, associate, and certificate programs at its main campuses in Albany as well as at strategically-placed branch sites and online. Committed to excellence in teaching and learning, the University prepares students to be effective contributors to a globally diverse society, where knowledge and technology create opportunities for personal and professional success. ASU respects and builds on the historical roots of its institutional predecessors with its commitment to access and a strong liberal arts heritage that respects diversity in all its forms and gives all students the foundation they need to succeed. Through creative scholarship, research, and public service, the University’s faculty, staff, students, and administrators form strategic alliances internally and externally to promote community and economic development, resulting in an improved quality of life for the citizens of southwest Georgia and beyond.

Guiding Principles

Aspire to Excellence
Albany State University will aspire toward excellence in teaching and learning, thus becoming the first-choice institution for students from southwest Georgia and garnering recognition as a premier southern regional university.

Embrace Diversity
As a historically black institution and led by a highly-diverse faculty and staff, Albany State University will embrace diversity in all its forms – including age, gender identity, race and ethnicity, country of origin, religion, ability level, sexual orientation, and veteran status – and seek to foster a similar acceptance and celebration of that diversity.

Expand Access to Higher Education
As an access institution, Albany State University will promote student success for all by welcoming students from varying levels of academic preparation, keeping costs low, offering flexible class times and instructional modalities, and pairing high student expectations with exceptional mentoring, advising, and tutoring.

Elevate Historically Underserved Populations
Albany State University will recognize and address the many challenges that face African Americans and other students of color, adult learners, first generation students, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and others from underserved populations, and form strong partnerships with K-12, government agencies, and community outreach organizations to increase access and success rates.

Promote Economic Development
As part of its commitment to teaching and learning, Albany State University will promote economic development in Albany and throughout southwest Georgia by engaging in applied research, aligning its resources in support of identified needs, developing and enhancing academic programs to meet evolving needs, forming broad strategic partnerships, supplying a trained workforce, and fostering a sense of entrepreneurship.
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