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Air Force Major Charged With Murder After Missing Wifes Remains Found

A San Antonio Air Force Reserve major who reported his wife missing in March has been arrested and charged with murder, authorities said.

Andre McDonald, 40, was charged with first-degree murder Sunday in the death of his wife, 29-year-old Andreen McDonald, on March 1. After three months of countless countywide searches, authorities found the businesswomans body on a ranch east of Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis.

McDonald is being held at Bexar County Jail on a $2 million bond, police confirmed to The Daily Beast.

Any ounce of understanding that we had for Andy is gone, her cousin, Cheryl Spencer, told KSAT during a Sunday vigil. You do not have the right to do this to any human being. Andreen was far from perfect. She had her flaws, but you do not have the right to do this to anybodys child.

While many details of the March murder remain unknown, authorities believe the couples 7-year-old daughter, who is autistic and nonverbal, may have seen the crime and subsequent cleanup.

At this point, I dont know how much the little girl knows, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said during a press conference Saturday. Im still of the belief that the little girl witnessed at least some things with the death of her mom.

Authorities say Andreen McDonald, the owner of Starlight Homes Assisted Living, was last seen with her daughter around 6:20 p.m. on February 28. According to an arrest warrant obtained by The Daily Beast, phone records indicate both McDonald and his wife were home the entire evening.

The next day, deputies went to the couples home to conduct a welfare check after the 29-year-olds mother and several friends said they had not heard from her since the previous evening.

According to the arrest warrant, two of Andreen McDonalds friends told authorities that before her disappearance she had said that if she ever went missing or was found dead, Andre had killed her.

A Bexar County Sheriff spokesperson confirmed officers had been called to their home numerous times for domestic disturbances. According to public records, McDonald filed for divorce in February 2017 but later dismissed the petition.

In their backyard, deputies noticed a burn pile, where it appeared something had recently been burned. All of Andreen McDonalds personal belongings were still in the house and her car was parked in the driveway.

When McDonald arrived home, he told deputies his wife was being treated at a local hospital. Police quickly suspected he was lying.

He claimed he did not know where Andreen McDonald was, the warrant states, but revealed he had an argument with his wife the night before and asked for an attorney.

Authorities also found blood and hair on the bathrooms light switch, floor, and door handlethough initial DNA tests could not determine if the samples belonged to Andreen McDonald.

Andre McDonald was first charged on March 3 with tampering with evidence after investigators discovered that he had purchased cans of gasoline, heavy duty trash bags, work gloves, a portable burn barrel, a shovel, and an ax around the time he reported his wife missing.

The Air Force officer then tried to destroy the receipt and throw them away in the kitchen trash can, authorities allege.

He went to great lengths to destroy that receipt. We were able to recover it but thats what led to the tampering with evidence charge, Salazar said. So, I think a lot of his behavior up to this point, along with some of the evidence that I wont go too much into detail on, are what led to this charge.

According to the arrest warrant, McDonald had cuts and injuries on his hands when he was arrested and gave conflicting accounts about how the wounds occurred.

Inside another trash can, the warrant states, investigators found a blood-stained hammer and a mans sweater and jeans, which had the couples blood on it.

The daughter, who has not been publicly named, suggested to one family friend that her mother had been burned, according to court documents, and made comments about Andre hurting Mommy.

In one attempt to explain what she saw, the daughter took a doll, put it in a circle over rocks, and covered it with sticks before asking for the fire.

Since his initial arrest, McDonald has not once asked about the ongoing search for his wife and has never tried to assist in the investigation, the warrant said.

On July 11, a friend of the ranchs owner discovered Andreen McDonalds body while removing two cow skulls on the 50-acre property. According to the warrant, when authorities arrived they noticed the human remains appeared to have been covered with wood and bones from a nearby deceased cow and set on fire. Melted plastic or synthetic material was also found among the remains.

The Medical Examiners Office confirmed the remains belonged to Andreen McDonald on Friday night using her dental records. The next day, McDonald was arrested at home and appeared quiet and fully cooperative, Salazar said on Saturday.

I actually enjoyed him being arrested, Andreen McDonald's cousin Cheryl Spencer said. That was nice. I like that little public shaming.

A Bexar County Sheriff spokesperson declined to provide a motive on Monday, but added that there is substantial evidence to prove McDonald killed his wife and disposed of her body.

The next step is to prepare this case to go to trial with the DAs office, the spokesperson said. Our department is dedicated to getting justice for Andreen and her family.

McDonalds attorney, John Convery, declined The Daily Beasts request for comment. Andreen McDonalds immediate family did not respond to multiple attempts for comment.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/air-force-major-charged-with-murder-after-missing-wifes-remains-found

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Father Shares Heartbreaking Warning After Son Dies From Accidentally Overdosing On Caffeine Powder

A man died the day before his 22nd birthday after ingesting too much caffeine from a supplement, his family has said.

Lachlan Foote, from New South Wales, Australia, went out on New Year’s Eve 2018. He had a few beers with friends – an autopsy would later reveal he hadn’t drunk much at all – before returning home to sleep. Before going to bed, he made himself a protein shake in an attempt to stave off a hangover.

“I think my protein powder has gone off. Just made an anti-hangover / workout shake and it tasted awful,” he wrote to his friends, according to his father. “Anyway… night lads. Cya in the morning.”

Lachlan did not wake up the next morning. His body was found the next day by his parents on New Year’s Day. After an autopsy, the family finally has some answers as to why Lachlan died.

“While I don’t wish to keep raising the subject of Lachlan’s death on Facebook, I’m posting this because there’s a possibility it might save someone’s life,” Lachlan’s father Nigel wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

“Dawn and I have finally received the Coroner’s findings regarding Lachlan – he died of ‘caffeine toxicity’ (not from a dodgy batch of protein powder as we had first thought).

“It turns out that Lachlan came home after celebrating New Year’s Eve with his friends and made a protein shake, innocently adding too much Pure Caffeine Powder – a teaspoon is lethal (the equivalent of 25-50 coffees).”

The family believes that Lachlan got the caffeine powder from a colleague or friend, as searches by the family and police revealed no purchases of the powder by Lachlan himself. 

“It’s very likely that Lachlan never got to read the warning label on the packet and was unaware of its potency. And the fact that he kept the caffeine powder in our kitchen pantry (where one of us might have mistaken it for flour or sugar) proves the point – Lachlan would never have kept it there had he known it was a threat to the family. He was a bright, imaginative young man.”

Milder caffeine overdoses can result in anything from disorientation to breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, hallucinations, or mania. Larger overdoses – usually associated with ingesting too much caffeine from supplements – can result in death. The dose required for this to occur is around the equivalent of 17-100 cups of coffee for a 70-kilogram (150-pound) adult.

In 2018 doctors reported the case of a 32-year-old woman who sought hospital treatment after accidentally ingesting 5,000 milligrams of caffeine in a pre-workout supplement. Having made it to the emergency room within half an hour of the overdose, she was treated with intravenous propranolol and survived the ordeal, being discharged five days later.

“I’m not going to go on a crusade about caffeine powder,” Nigel ended his post. “But I do want to warn Lachlan’s friends and the Blue Mountains community… PLEASE SHARE.”

Read more: https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/father-shares-heartbreaking-warning-after-son-dies-from-accidentally-overdosing-on-caffeine-powder/

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Should You Wear White or Black on Hot Days? Here’s the Data

Should you wear white or black during the summer? Or that other burning fashion question: Is it OK to wear white after Labor Day? Oh wait, that question really isn't important. Let's get back to the summer question.

There are two answers to the black vs. white clothing question.

1. Wear White. A white object is white because it reflects white light, and white light is a combination of all the visible colors. This means that a white shirt (or pants) will reflect most of the light and not get hot. Simple, right?

2. Wear Black. But wait! What about the bedouin in the desert regions of North Africa? They often wear black clothing, and it's super hot there. It seems they wouldn't wear black unless there was an advantage. Maybe the black clothing prevents body heat from reflecting back on the human—thus keeping the body cooler than a white outfit.

OK. Let's be clear. This black vs. white clothing isn't exactly a settled issue. People actually study this stuff—here is an article from Nature published in 1980: "Why do Bedouins wear black robes in hot deserts?". There are clearly several situations to consider with the Bedouin clothing. But what about more common outfits, like a T-shirt? Should you wear a black or white T-shirt on a warm summer day?

The first thing to consider: Does a black shirt get hotter than a white one? I can explore this question with an infrared camera. You see, everything gives off light (electromagnetic radiation). Some super-hot things (like a lightbulb filament or a stove burner) are hot enough that this emitted EM radiation is in the visible spectrum, and we can see it. For most other objects, the emitted light has a wavelength that puts it outside the visible range. Most of this light falls in the infrared region.

Using a special camera, a sensor detects the infrared radiation and uses this to determine the object's temperature (for the most part).

So let's do it. Here are some shirts hanging out in the sunlight.

Rhett Allain

Now for an infrared image. Note: this is a false-color image. Since we can't actually see infrared light, different colors in this image correspond to different wavelengths in the IR region.

Rhett Allain

From this image I can get the temperature of the shirts. OK, technically there is a small problem measuring the temperature, but I will address that shortly. The black T-shirt on the right measured 131.0 Fahrenheit and the white one on the left was 111.8. Yes, it's clear the black shirt was hotter. Other than that, there were no real surprises.

But come on. You already knew this. In fact, you can even do your own experiment. Grab some paper—a white piece and a black piece. Place them outside in the same sunlight. You only have to wait a few minutes before picking them up to realize that the black paper is hotter.

Now for the second question. Does a white T-shirt reflect thermal radiation from your body back to your body to warm you up? The answer is yes. Perhaps the question should be: Does white reflect MORE thermal radiation than black clothing (I'm equating thermal radiation and infrared light—same thing). Is a white shirt "infrared white"? Does it reflect more infrared radiation than a black shirt?

How about another test. To measure the infrared reflectivity (not a real term) of different shirts, I set up the following experiment. There is a hot (but not too hot) iron that you can use to make your clothes wrinkle-free. This is my infrared source. I placed it around a corner so my infrared camera couldn't see it. Then I put different objects in front of the camera to see how they reflected this infrared light.

Let's start with something fun. Here is a tile board. It's the same stuff those whiteboards in classrooms are made of. What happens when infrared light hits it? This happens.

Rhett Allain

This is a composite image (in case you couldn't tell). The infrared camera I am using (the FLIR One) has both a visible light camera along with an IR camera. I cut out a part of the visible image and placed it on the IR image to make it more obvious what you are looking at. The important part is the bright spot in the middle of the board. That is a reflection from the iron. Oh, you want to see the iron too? Here you go.

Rhett Allain

Notice the reflection on the floor? That's because my smooth kitchen floor reflects infrared light, and you can see an image with the camera. Yes, that's awesome.

What about a white T-shirt?

Rhett Allain

No spot. It doesn't reflect much infrared. What about a black shirt? It pretty much looks the same in infrared.

Rhett Allain

So, although the two T-shirts look different to human eyes (in the visible light range), they are pretty much the same in infrared. That pretty much answers the second question about clothing. Does white reflect back more infrared radiation on your body? Nope. Just because it's white doesn't make it "infrared reflective."

Do you know what is very infrared reflective? Space blankets—those shiny mylar blankets that you can use in an emergency. You know what else makes a difference? Water. Here, check this out. This is an image of a T-shirt with some water on it next to a piece of mylar.

Rhett Allain

That darker stuff on the shirt is just a tiny bit of water. As the water makes a phase transition from a liquid to a gas, it takes energy. This energy comes from the rest of the liquid water, causing a drop in temperature. This is exactly why humans sweat—we cool off through the evaporation process. Also, check out the mylar on the right. It looks different because it's reflecting both the visible light and the infrared radiation. That makes it rather difficult to measure the temperature with an infrared camera, because you are seeing reflected light rather than emitted light.

Now is the time to discuss this emission vs. reflection problem. In the world of infrared cameras, different materials can have a different emissivity. The emissivity of an object can have a value between 0 and 1. If an object is only radiating infrared light and not reflecting it at all, that would be an emissivity of 1. Something that only reflects infrared light would have an emissivity of zero.

The T-shirts (both the black and the white) have an emissivity very close to 1—they don't really reflect much infrared radiation. But the mylar has an emissivity close to zero.

That pretty much answers the question. In most cases white clothes look just like black clothes in the infrared spectrum. They both reflect about the same amount of thermal radiation. That means you are going to be better off with white clothes, since they don't absorb as much visible light. But wait! Could there be a special case in which black is better?

Let's get back to the bedouin black clothing. What is going on here? Well, there is more to heating and cooling than just the color of the clothes. What about evaporation? What about wind? One possible reason for the black clothes is a type of chimney effect. The idea is that the black clothes heat up the space between the cloth and the human to promote an upward air current (like a chimney). This air current adds to the cooling of the human. But maybe you see the problem. You have to have an air space between the fabric and the skin. I don't know about you, but my shirts aren't that loose. I suspect that there are only a few people that wear clothes in the bedouin fashion—but for those people, you might want to stick to black.

But wait! There's more! There are so many variables in this black vs. white clothing question that this could be a great starting point for a science-fair experiment (you know … for kids). I'll be honest, I'm not too keen on science fairs in general, but if you are going to do a project, this seems like a great thing to study. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Data collection: If you want to get an infrared camera (they are very useful), you can collect some great data. If you don't have an IR camera, you could still collect meaningful data using some small temperature sensors.
  • Do different types of clothing material reflect infrared light differently? What about those "breathable" shirts? What about other stuff, like silk?
  • Get a bunch of people and measure their body temperatures with loose vs. tight clothing.
  • What about the wind? Does the color of clothing matter if there is a slight breeze?
  • What about the humidity in the air? What impact does it have on clothes of different colors?

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/should-you-wear-white-or-black-on-hot-days-heres-the-data/

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I Dont Want to Forget

They sat side by side along the edge of the pool. My husband patted the leg of our middle child affectionately.

“It’s alright,” he soothed.

His face showed zero frustration and abundant love. I watched the way his head dipped low to meet her eyes, and she stared back in obvious adoration. He had jumped into the water with his clothes on when she cried out in fear. After swimming too far into the deep end and growing fatigued, our young, novice swimmer had called for dad’s help, and he had answered. I watched them together, and I knew I never wanted to forget this.

I never wanted to forget the tender, yet protective way my husband parented. I never wanted to forget the way his face changed when he looked at them, or how his eyes crinkled at the corners in joy when he was especially proud. I never wanted to forget the way his countenance transformed, taking on a look of total peace when he hugged our babies close. I wanted to see that look of contentment, the fierce protector on guard, or his proud grin forever. I never wanted to forget how my husband looked raising our daughters.

This morning I stood in the shower with my little girl, and I washed the thick conditioner from her long, blond locks. The water bubbled up slightly as it cascaded down her thick tresses, and I realized I never wanted to forget the feel of my hands in her hair, or how she giggled when the water first hit her. She wouldn’t always come tapping on the shower door asking to join me. She wouldn’t need my help much longer with the hair rinsing, or beg me to blow it dry. I didn’t want to forget how grateful she was for my help, or how much each child needed me. It was easy to get flustered or aggravated in the midst of the mess of being depended on so much, but I never wanted to forget the feeling of reward.

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Yesterday my child had been walking ahead of me in the restaurant. She knew her own way back to the table, and she bounded ahead while still staying close. She skipped as she walked, her feet dancing with glee at every step. She found joy in every moment, she smiled easily. I watched her tiny frame, spindly little legs moving, blond hair bouncing up and down with her footfalls. I felt such happiness watching her in the everyday mundane, and I wanted to store away each bit of bundled joy. I never wanted to forget that moment. I wanted to lock it away in my pocket, press it between the pages of my heart, never let it slip from my memory. So perfect was that moment of pure love; I never wanted to forget.

I never wanted to forget the hugs. You know, the way their little bodies fit inside your arms. Or the way they’d rest their head against your chest in total surrender, complete trust, and unconditional love. A small child can sleep so deeply and peacefully in their parent’s arms, and I never wanted to forget that feeling that you get when you hold a little human being who trusts you totally with their life.

I never wanted to forget the utter joy of nursing an infant, looking down in your arms at the tiny person whose complete sustenance depended on you. I never wanted to forget the way their tongue would curl into a little loop afterwards, like they were still trying to drink milk in their dreams.

I never wanted to forget baby giggles, first steps, or the initial “mama” they spoke. I never wanted to forget how my kisses healed scrapes or how my hands wiped tears away for good. I always wanted to remember the way they greeted me with excitement when I came in the door, or the sweetly whispered prayers before bed.

I want to hold onto the memory of phrases like, “hey, mom, can I talk to you,” or “I’ve got something to tell you.” Those softly spoken words prior to pouring out her heart. The fact that she can’t keep a secret from mom, or that I’m the person she wants to share uncomfortable situations with, the person whose advice she seeks. I pray I’m always that person, but if I’m not, I never want to forget how it feels right now.

I always want to remember how easily amused she can be, getting excited over a sucker or a dollar store toy. I never want to forget the shrieks of excitement over going to a new park or driving for an ice cream cone. I want to always remember the joyful, “this is the best day ever,” proclamations, or how she giggles with glee over taking a bath in the kitchen sink. Please, Lord, don’t let it fade.

Parenting is a struggle. It’s tiring, and some days I don’t want to snuggle. I want my bed back, I want a moment of quiet conversation with my spouse. I want to not have to pick up the same things over and over, clean up spills, or scrub cups of curdled milk. I want a day where my name isn’t repeated 5 bazillion times, or where I never hear, “hey, mom, watch this.” But then I’d miss the look of accomplishment when I do “watch this,” so there’s that. I never want to forget the sweet is stronger than the sour, or that time is cruel in how fast it speeds by.

I never want to forget how to appreciate each moment for what it is, a passing morsel of time that tics away far too quickly, a moment that could fall away and be forgotten if I don’t take the time to look and lock it away. And I never want that. I never want to forget that each childish laugh will fade, each body grow taller, and each toy will be boxed up and given away. When the air is silent, the bed empty, and the cupboard full, I want my memory to be overflowing with each cherished moment I have right now. I don’t want to forget.


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Read more: https://faithit.com/dont-want-forget-brie-gowen/

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Police Say Man Nearly Stole Halle Berry’s House! Wait… What?! – Perez Hilton

This story is absolutely crazy!!!

Law enforcement sources in El Lay are reporting this weekend that a 59-year-old man named Ronald Eugene Griffin nearly stole Halle Berry‘s mansion right out from under her when he showed up a couple months ago and tried to change the locks! Wait, WHAT?!

According to TMZ, Griffin showed up at a property owned by the actress back in January and allegedly fiddled with the locks, but he was chased off by Berry’s gardener, when the man sensed something wrong and approached the intruder.

A couple months later, though, in March, Griffin showed up again — and this time, he was armed with paperwork. The 59-year-old man had with him a locksmith, as well as a deed that apparently proved he was the new owner of the home and had a right to be there and to change the locks.

Berry wasn’t home at the time, but a couple of her employees who were there found the whole thing very strange, and they called the police. When the LAPD showed up, they were able to determine that Griffin’s “deed” was actually a counterfeit document, and that he had NO connection to the property, legal or otherwise!

He was arrested on the spot by the cops, despite being audacious enough to believe he was going to be OK because of his fake deed. Crazy!!! He was later hit with a felony count of “procuring and offering a false warranty deed,” as well as an additional count of petty theft, and his bond has been set at $36,000.

Berry told detectives she had no idea who Griffin was, or why he had picked her house in particular. Crazier still, reports hold that he actually didn’t even realize it was Berry’s house — as it goes, Griffin apparently had no idea who owned the house… he just picked it because he wanted it. Crazy!!! What was he gonna do, pay the property taxes and all, too?! Such a strange scam to pull! And so audacious and out in the open like that — who steals a house?!?!

Of course, this isn’t the first time Berry has had to deal with an intruder; back in 2011 she had a scary incident with a man standing just feet away from her and stalking her right outside her glass kitchen door — cops were able to arrest that man, too, though, and Berry at least got some semblance of justice in that case.

Here’s hoping Halle never again has to deal with any weird intruders or would-be house stealers… she’s gone through more than her fair share of drama like that in her life!

[Image via WENN]

Read more: https://perezhilton.com/halle-berry-house-stolen-police/

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The AI-Fueled, Anxious Hopefulness of Disney’s Smart House

There is a prophecy in the 1999 film Smart House: Soon, the computer will know more about you than you know about yourself. The forecast is not so much foreboding as much as it is intriguing. Back then, the idea of all-seeing, all-knowing, artificially intelligent home technology still felt far enough away to seem like the antidote to human problems.

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  • I was seven at the time of Smart House's release, just a few years younger than the protagonist's kid sister and exactly the right age to be swept up by the faculties of a Disney Channel original film. (It was a landmark year for Disney Channel content; Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century also came out in 1999. You can probably blame/thank Y2K for that.) I remember Smart House, which came out 20 years ago today, not just because it was cool—a Star Trek for our generation—but because it offered a view of the future where technology was designed to protect us, to look after us when our parents were away, to make us dinner on demand. It also warned against what could happen if we put too much trust in technology, relied on it to replace the humans around us, or asked it to do the wrong thing.

    Watching the film 20 years later, Smart House reads not just as a time capsule for a different era ("You're not still logged on the internet, are you? How's anybody supposed to call us if you're always tying up the line?") but for a different attitude toward technology. The new-fangled gadgetry—smart lights! home DNA testing!—are regarded with delighted curiosity. Even after the house begins to go berserk, no one doubts that they can find a way to regain balance. To see it now, at a time when television shows constantly remind us of how marred and fraught our relationship to technology has become (Black Mirror, Westworld), Smart House offers a view that's not just optimistic but puts the human back in control.

    The film takes place in suburban Monroe County, in western New York. Our protagonist, 13-year-old Ben Cooper, is a computer whiz who hacks a contest to win a state-of-the-art "smart house." Life has been rough for Ben since his mom died, and he feels responsible for looking after his kid sister, Angie, and his single dad, Nick. The fully automated home, he hopes, will take some of the burden off his family and fill the void left behind by his mom.

    The Cooper family does win the house, thanks to Ben's handiwork, and they move in soon after. Ben's dad is skeptical at first, but changes his mind after seeing a photograph of Sara Barnes, the engineer who created the house, who is beautiful and blonde.

    The house—and this is the part I remember best from childhood—is amazing. Every room is equipped with handy features from the Personal Applied Technology, cutely nicknamed "Pat." In the kitchen, it makes smoothies and cupcakes on demand. It turns the walls of the living room into a movie-theater-sized screen, where Ben and Angie play videogames together. It throws the middle school party of the year, defends Ben against the school bully, and cleans itself up before Ben's dad gets home. It sets a custom alarm in each of the kids' bedrooms: for Angie, a symphony conducted by Mickey Mouse; for Ben, the final buzzer of a championship basketball game. It has breath-analyzing sensors to capture dietary information about each person in the house and takes a drop of blood from each family member to scan their entire medical histories.

    In fact, the house is so capable that Ben's dad, liberated from his single-parenting duties, thinks about dating again—starting with Sara Barnes. This was not Ben's plan. Desperate to keep his dad single, Ben breaks into Pat's control room and reprograms the system to act more "maternal," training it on a steady diet of 1950s-era television to become the ultimate mom machine.

    It's not totally clear how Pat's system works (does it run on the Coopers' dial-up connection?) nor how a 13-year-old seems so confident in retooling the machine-learning algorithms. But whatever Ben does, it works, and Pat begins to transform into the kind of maternal figure it thinks the Coopers need.

    The problems start small: The system goes nutso trying to make a smoothie and begins pelting fruit all over the house. Then it becomes overbearing, keeping Angie home from school on the day of the class field trip to the llama farm. Eventually, Pat becomes paranoid and overprotective, trying to keep the Coopers inside the house.

    In the film's climax, Sara comes over to shut down the system—only to have Pat reawaken on its own, re-create itself as a hologram, and then replicate into many holograms before turning into a literal tornado. (It's Disney Channel, just go with it.) "Doesn't this place have some kind of master plug we can pull?" one of Sara's colleagues asks as they try to fix what they've created. Sara offers a look of exasperation. "I never expected this place to mutiny."

    The system, in other words, overpowers the engineer. Then, implausibly, Pat realizes that it isn't human and turns itself off, reverting back to the helpful assistant it once was. The message at the end is clear: The problem wasn't that the house was smart. It was that it tried to isolate the Coopers, and replace the humans they loved.

    Others have looked back on Smart House and praised the way it "predicted" the future. Indeed, we now have smart lights, connected thermostats, and alarm clocks personalized to our sleep stages, just as Pat did. LeVar Burton, who directed the film, calls it "a clear and obvious precursor to all of the AI and connected devices and programs" in our homes today. "I am enormously proud of its apparent predictive accuracy," Burton says. "From Siri and Alexa to Nest and Ring, our homes are becoming more and more technologically sophisticated. And that after all, that was what Pat was all about."

    But in some ways, that reflection misses the point. Prescient as it was, Smart House's purpose wasn't to predict the future of technology. It was to capture the mixture of feelings—excitement, curiosity, and fear—about living with intelligent machines the first time.

    By 1999, popular culture's view of technology had already turned a shade skeptical (see: The Matrix) but there was still optimism about finding the soul in the machine. It would still be five years before the founding of Facebook, and seven years before the creation of Twitter; there were no smartphones, let alone the fear of children developing horns in the back of their heads from too much screen time. Smart House offers warnings about how we design our personal technology, but it does so without fear. And in the end, it offers some hope that there's a balance to be found in centering the stuff we build around the people who use it—rather than the other way around.

    Not every part of Smart House has aged well. Sara, who is surely the brightest mind in Monroe County, gets flattened into a love interest by the end of the film. (The sexism is present from the very first scene, when Sara opens the newspaper to find an article about her smart house creation. "I think it's because that reporter has a crush on you," her colleague replies.)

    Still, even 20 years after its debut, Smart House skillfully shows that technology does what we ask of it. Woe to those who ask for the wrong thing.


    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/disney-channel-smart-house-20-years-later/

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    DigitalBridge raises 3M for its guided design tool for kitchens and bathrooms

    DigitalBridge, the Manchester, U.K.-based startup using technology to help solve the “imagination gap” when planning home renovations, has picked up £3 million in new backing.

    The round is led by Maven Capital Partners via two funds it manages: £1.5 million from Maven’s Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and £1.5 million from the NPIF Maven Equity Finance, a regional development fund managed by Maven as part of the U.K. government’s Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

    Working with Kingfisher Plc (owners of B&Q and Castorama) for the last couple of years, DigitalBridge has pivoted from its original AR-based home decor planning app to a new product it’s calling a “guided design tool” for kitchens and bathrooms. That’s because, DigitalBridge founder David Levine tells me, home decor visualisation is only a “nice-to-have,” whereas it’s a “must-have” for bathrooms and kitchens.

    “Bathrooms and kitchens are much more complex rooms governed by complex design rules,” he explains. “We felt there was a big gap for a guided design tool which actively guides consumers through the entire journey of designing, visualising and buying whilst simplifying the inherent complexity of these rooms.”

    There was, perhaps, another factor at play, too: the creation of AR development kits by Apple and Google have made it “really simple” for retailers to build their own home decor and furniture AR solutions, as well as seeing new competitors enter the space.

    “Unlike most tools on the market today, DigitalBridge is utterly focused on the consumer and obsessed with creating simple and compelling experiences that enable that consumer to build their dream bathroom or kitchen irrespective of their design experience,” adds Levine. “Crucially, our core skillsets of AI and computer vision are absolutely pivotal to reducing that complexity.”

    TechCrunch

    The DigitalBridge solution resides on a retailer’s website or app — it is already live with B&Q in the U.K. — and guides you through the entire process of creating your new bathroom or kitchen. The draw for retailers is that by enabling customers to easily design and visualise their new bathroom or kitchen, DigitalBridge can reduce sales cycles, increase conversion rates and average basket sizes, and “drive more engaged customers into store.”

    “By using our technology, consumers are now able to visit the B&Q website and design the dream bathroom that will work for them, their family and budget, all without the need for professional assistance,” explains Levine. “Within minutes, they are guided through the process of entering their floor plan, designing the perfect bathroom and bringing it to life in immersive 3D. Once they’re happy with the design, they can buy directly online or go into a store to complete the purchase.”

    Meanwhile, with regards to today’s newly disclosed funding round, Jeremy Thompson, investment director at Maven, says that DigitalBridge has developed a market-leading AI product that solves a genuine problem for retailers by helping them engage with customers online. “We are genuinely excited to work with them and support their next stage of growth, as they look to accelerate deployment of the existing product, develop new products and enter new markets, including the U.S.,” he adds.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/08/digitalbridge-pivot/

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    North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to 2015 Murder of 3 Muslim Students

    A North Carolina man accused in the fatal shooting of three Muslim college students pleaded guilty on Wednesday, four years after the he turned himself into police.

    Craig Stephen Hicks, 50, pleaded guilty in Durham Superior Court to three counts of first-degree murder for the Feb. 2015 shooting, just two months after the District Attorneys office dropped their intention to seek the death penalty.

    Prosecutors alleged Hicks fatally shot his downstairs neighbors23-year old Deah Barakat; his 21-year-old wife, Yusor Abu-Salha; and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Abu-Salhain Chapel Hill near the University of North Carolina campus, after allegedly getting into an argument over parking spaces.

    I've wanted to plead guilty since day one, Hicks said to Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson when asked to enter his plea.

    On Feb. 10, 2015, authorities alleged, Hicks, a former car-parts salesman, burst into the Barakats Chapel Hill condo and shot the 23-year-old several times as he stood in his doorway. His wife and her sister were shot execution-style in the head inside the condo, the medical examiners office determined. Authorities said a 911 called described hearing over eight shots and screaming during the mid-afternoon encounter. When officers entered the apartment around 5:15 p.m., Barakat was found lying in the front doorway, while the sisters were found in the kitchen. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.

    Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said at the time. We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case.

    Chapel Hill police said the deadly attack was provoked over a competition for parking spaces at Finley Forest Condominiums, a housing complex for many UNC graduate students. Namee Barakat, the 23-year-olds father, maintains the shootings were a hate crime, prompting a federal investigation currently underway.

    This is more than just about parking, Barakat said at the time. Three people get shot in the head. The death penalty would not be enough. The 23-year-olds mother, however, argued against the death penalty at the UNC vigil the day after the shooting, where a few thousand people reportedly attended. He died of hate crime and his legacy is never hate, Laya Barakat said. You don't respond back by hating the other. You respond back by love. By peace, by mercy. Thats Deahs way.

    Hours after the shooting, Hicks turned himself into police and was arrested. On Feb. 16, he was indicted by a Durham County grand jury on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling.

    Ive semi-threatened them, Hicks admitted to police at the time, according to footage placed in court Wednesday. I just pulled my gun out and started shooting them. I walked over and shot her and the other one. Then I walked to my car and left."

    Mohammad Abu-Salha, the two womens father, testified at a congressional hearing on hate crimes in April, alleging the murder was racially fueled after Hicks, self-described as a devout atheist, had publically expressed hateful comments about Abu-Salhas daughters wearing head scarves in observance of their faith.

    Three beautiful young Americans were brutally murdered, and there is no question in our minds that this tragedy was born of bigotry and hate, Abu-Salha said before the U.S. House Judiciary COmmittee. This has happened on too many occasions. Families like mineregular Americans living regular livesare left without hope that justice will truly be served.

    At the time of the shooting, Hick was studying to become a paralegal at Durham Technical Community College after his second divorce while Barakat was a second-year student in the UNC School of Dentistry. His wife of two months had plans to begin UNC dental school at UNC in the fall, her family said, and her sister was a sophomore at N.C. State University.

    Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/craig-stephen-hicks-pleads-guilty-to-murdering-3-muslim-college-students-over-a-parking-space

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    Blunt knives offered to abuse victims

    Image copyright Nottinghamshire Police
    Image caption The knives are being offered “as part of a much wider range of measures”

    A police force has defended a “ludicrous” decision to give domestic abuse victims blunt knives to replace sharp implements in their kitchens.

    Nottinghamshire Police hopes the scheme will reduce the number of people being seriously injured by their partners.

    The force stressed it was a “tiny trial” in one part of the county and part of wider protective measures.

    The idea has attracted criticism and one psychologist said it could put victims in greater danger.

    Image copyright Jessica Eaton
    Image caption Dr Jessica Eaton is a psychologist specialising in interpersonal abuse and violence

    Dr Jessica Eaton, a specialist in interpersonal abuse, said she initially thought the trial was a joke.

    “If you are going to take knives, why not forks? Because I work with women who have been stabbed with forks,” she said.

    “You could be attacked with anything. You could be attacked with a book. What about scissors? Everybody has got scissors.

    “What do they think will happen when the perpetrator finds the knives and asks what happened to the normal ones? It undermines the perpetrator from a psychological point of view.

    “It’s a huge red flag to them: ‘Who did you tell?’ It’s going to cause an argument. [The police have] not thought that through.”

    Samantha Billingham, from the Survivors of Domestic Abuse support group, said perpetrators will still be able to seriously hurt victims using the knife.

    She said abusers could use other household objects and she had been attacked with a kettle cord.

    “I think it’s quite ludicrous. The blade of the knife is still there so that can cause significant harm to the victim. Abusers will use anything at all to inflict pain on their victim.

    “I don’t think they’ve actually spoken to people who have been in that situation, because survivors can see dangers that maybe others don’t.”

    Supt Matt McFarlane, the force’s new knife crime strategy manager, said some of the critics had “got the whole idea wrong”.

    “It’s a very small trial, and it will always be part of a much wider range of measures that we are doing to safeguard and protect that victim,” he said.

    “We will simply have these as an offer to somebody in appropriate circumstances and they can have them if they think they want them.

    “We can debate something theoretically or from a psychological perspective all day long. Sometimes you need to try something and see if it works or not.”

    The force has bought 100 knives and these have already been offered to victims, but the force has not yet “assessed how many have taken them up”.

    “We will assess the number that have been given at the end of the year and assess if we continue,” said Supt McFarlane.

    Image copyright Nottinghamshire Police
    Image caption Nottinghamshire Police has bought 100 of the knives

    Retired judge Nic Madge said the trial “could save lives”.

    “Most violent offences are committed on the spur of the moment,” he said. “People pick up the closest thing they can find, and in the kitchen, the closest thing they find is often a pointed kitchen knife.”

    One domestic abuse survivor told the Nottingham Post the idea was “100% positive”.

    Fiona McCulloch told the newspaper: “To have a blunt knife in my situation, it would have taken that risk away. It is like you are taking away their options and the more you can take away, the better.”

    Nottinghamshire Police works with Women’s Aid to help domestic abuse victims but the charity did not wish to comment when contacted by the BBC.

    Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk.

    Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-48609164

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    A rare glimpse into the sweeping and potentially troubling cloud kitchens trend

    Independent restaurant owners may be doomed, and perhaps grocery stores, too.

    Such is the conclusion of a growing chorus of observers who’ve been closely watching a new and powerful trend gain strength: that of cloud kitchens, or fully equipped shared spaces for restaurant owners, most of them quick-serve operations.

    While viewed peripherally as an interesting and, for some companies, lucrative development, the movement may well transform our lives in ways that enrich a small set of companies while zapping jobs and otherwise taking a toll on our neighborhoods. Renowned VC Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital seemed to warn about this very thing in a Financial Times column that appeared last month, titled “The cloud kitchen brews a storm for local restaurants.”

    Moritz begins by pointing to the runaway success of Deliveroo, the London-based delivery service that relies on low-paid, self-employed delivery riders who deliver local restaurant food to customers — including from shared kitchens that Deliveroo itself operates, including in London and Paris.

    He believes that Amazon’s recent investment in the company “might just foreshadow the day when the company, once just known as the world’s largest bookseller, also becomes the world’s largest restaurant company.”

    That’s bad news for people who run restaurants, he adds, writing, “For now the investment looks like a simple endorsement of Deliveroo. But proprietors of small, independent restaurants should tighten their apron strings. Amazon is now one step away from becoming a multi-brand restaurant company — and that could mean doomsday for many dining haunts.”

    The good news . . . and the bad

    He’s not exaggerating. While shared kitchens have so far been optimistically received as a potential pathway for food entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses — particularly as more people turn to take out —  there are many downsides  that may well outweigh the good, or certainly counteract it.

    Last year, for example, UBS wrote a note to its clients titled “Is the kitchen dead?” wherein it suggested the rise of food delivery apps like Deliveroo and Uber Eats could well prove ruinous for home cooks, as well as restaurants and supermarkets.

    The economics of food delivery have grown too alluring, suggested the bank. It’s already inexpensive because of cheap labor — and that cost center will disappear entirely if delivery drones take flight. Meanwhile, food will become cheaper to make because of central kitchens, the kind that Deliveroo is opening and Uber is reportedly venturing into. (In March, Bloomberg reported that Uber is testing out a program in Paris where it’s renting out fully equipped, commercial-grade kitchens to serve businesses that sell food on delivery apps like Uber Eats.)

    The favorable case for cloud kitchens argues that restaurants renting from them pay less than they would for their own real estate. But the reality is also that most of the businesses moving into them right now aren’t small restaurateurs but fast-food brands that already have a following and aren’t known for their emphasis on food quality but instead for quickly churning out affordable food.

    As Eric Greenspan, a chef who has appeared regularly on the Food Network and opened and closed numerous restaurants, says in a short new documentary about cloud kitchens: “Delivery is the fastest growing market in restaurants. What started out as 10 percent of your sales is now 30 percent of your sales, and [the industry predicts] it will be 50 to 60 percent of a quick-serve restaurant’s sales within the next three to five years. So you take that, plus the fact that quick-serve brands are kind of the key to getting a fat payout at the end of the day . . .”

    Greenspan continues on to explain that during an age when fewer people frequent restaurants, running one simply makes less and less sense. “[Opening] up a brick-and-mortar restaurant these days is just like giving yourself a job. Now [with centralized kitchens], as long as the product is coming out strong, I don’t need to be there as a presence. I can quality control remotely now. I can go online and [log out of a marketplace Uber Eats or Postmates] and not piss off any customers, because if I just decided to close the restaurant one day, and you drove over and it was closed, you’d be pissed. But if you’re looking for [one of my restaurants] in Uber Eats and you can’t find it because I turned it off, well, you’re not pissed. You just order something else.”

    Big players only need apply . . .

    The model works for now for Greenspan, who is operating out a cloud kitchen in L.A that happens to belong in part to Uber cofounder Travis Kalanick. He was quicker than some to grok the opportunity that shared kitchens present. In fact, it was early last year that Kalanick announced he was investing $150 million in a startup called City Storage Systems that focused on repurposing distressed real estate assets and turning them into spaces for new industries, like food delivery.

    That company owns CloudKitchens, which invites food chains — as well as independent restaurant and food truck owners — to lease space in one of its facilities for a monthly fee, charging additional fees for data analytics that it says are meant to help the entrepreneurs boost their sales.

    The pitch to restaurateurs is that CloudKitchens can increase their sales while reducing their overhead. But the company is also amassing all kinds of data about its tenants and their customer preferences in the process — data that could presumably benefit CloudKitchens in various ways. Little wonder that Amazon wanted entrée into the industry, or that there is already at least one serious competitor in China — Panda Selected — which raised $50 million led by Tiger Global Management earlier this year.

    No one can fault savvy entrepreneurs for seizing on what looks like a gigantic business opportunity. Still, the kitchens, which make all the sense in the world from an investment standpoint, should not be embraced so readily by everyone else as a panacea.

    Ripple effects . . .

    One of the biggest areas of concern is that in order to work, central kitchens rely on the same people who drive Ubers and handle food deliveries — people who aren’t afforded health benefits and whose financial picture is precarious as a result. (As with Uber drivers, Deliveroo employees tried to gain status as “workers” last year with better pay, but they were denied them. The EU Parliament more recently passed new rules to protect so-called gig economy workers, though they don’t go far. Meanwhile, in the U.S, Uber and Lyft continue to fight legislation that would give employee status to contract workers.)

    Matt Newberg, a founder and foodie from New York, says he could see the writing on the wall when he recently toured CloudKitchen’s two L.A. facilities along with the shared kitchens of two other companies: Kitchen United which last fall raised $10 million from GV, and and Fulton Kitchens, which offers commercial kitchens for rent on an annual basis.

    Newberg filmed what he saw (which is very much worth watching below) and suggests that he was taken aback by the conditions of the first facility that CloudKitchens opened and operates in South L.A.

    Though most restaurant kitchens are chaotic scenes, Newberg said that as “someone who loves food and sustainability” the facility didn’t feel “very humane” to him when he walked through it. It’s windowless for one thing (it’s a warehouse). Newberg also says it was filled with people who appeared to him to be low-wage workers. Not last, he says he also counted 27 kitchens packed into what are “maybe 250-square-feet to 300 square-foot spaces,” and a lot of people who appeared to be in panic mode.

    “Imagine lots of screaming, lots of sirens triggered when an order gets backed up, tablets everywhere.”

    Adds Newberg, “When I walked in, I was like, holy shit, no one even knows this exists in L.A. It felt like Ground Zero. It felt like a military base. I mean, it seemed genius, but also crazy.”

    Newberg says CloudKitchen’s second, newer location is far nicer, as are the facilities of Kitchen United and Fulton Kitchens. “That [second CloudKitchen warehouse] felt like a WeWork for kitchens. Super sleek. It was as quiet as a server farm. There were still no windows, but the kitchens are nicer and bigger.”

    Growing pains . . .

    Emails to CloudKitchens went unreturned, but every startup has growing pains, and presumably, shared kitchen companies are not immune to these. Still, Moritz, the venture capitalist, warns that most restaurateurs should remain wary of them. Writing in the FT, he says that in the early 2000s, his firm, Sequoia, invested in a chain of kebab restaurants called Faasos that planned to deliver meals to customers’ homes but wound up getting crushed by high rents and turnover, among other things.

    To save itself, it opened a centralized kitchen to sell kebobs. Now, he writes, Fassos produces a wide variety of foods, including other Indian specialities but also Chinese and Italian dishes under separate brand names.

    It’s the same playbook that Eric Greenspan is using, telling Food & Wine magazine last year that his goal was to have no fewer than six delivery-only concepts running simultaneously. Greenspan, who is obviously media savvy, can probably pull it off, too, just like Fassos. But for restaurants that are not known franchises or have the star appeal of celebrity chef, the future might not look so bright.

    Writes Moritz: “In some markets there is still an opportunity for hardened restaurant and kitchen operators — particularly if they are gifted in the use of social media, to build a following and refashion themselves. But they need to move quickly before it becomes too expensive to compete with the larger, faster-moving companies. The mere prospect of Amazon using cloud kitchens to provide cuisine catering to every taste — and delivering these meals through services such as Deliveroo — should be enough to give any restaurateur heartburn.”

    It should also worry people who care about their neighborhoods.

    Cloud kitchens may make it faster and cheaper than ever to order take-out. But there will be consequences. Most of us simply have yet to imagine them.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/28/a-rare-glimpse-into-the-sweeping-and-potentially-troubling-cloud-kitchens-trend/

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    ‘I felt kind of promiscuous’: Gemma Arterton on Vita and Virginia

    With director Chanya Button, the star has made an ambitious drama about the passionate Bloomsbury love affair. They talk about female desire and the rise in lesbian romances on screen

    Gemma Arterton and Chanya Button are frolicking for the camera in a female-only London club. Behave as if you would normally, orders the photographer. We could cuddle up, quips Arterton, but that would give the wrong impression. She has just rushed up from Chichester, where she is staying with her boyfriend Rory Keenan, while he performs in a play. Its a reminder if any were needed that both women are busy, busy, busy. They have arrived late, creating a comic road-drama of their own as their respective assistants monitored their cars converging from different directions.

    Close friends since Button went to drama school with Artertons younger sister, Hannah, they are in London to promote their first professional collaboration, Vita and Virginia. Button is the director, while Arterton not only stars in, but is an executive producer on the film, which documents one of the most famous love affairs of the early 20th century, the one between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West that led to the creation of the gender- and genre-changing novel Orlando.

    Based on a 1990s stage play by the actor Dame Eileen Atkins, the film ambitiously marries straight-to-camera monologues from the lovers letters and diaries with special effects straight out of Guillermo del Toro. A pulsing electro-beat powers the louche Bloomsbury party scene, while Woolfs mental and emotional disintegration is signalled by a flock of attacking crows and ivy curling up a lamp-post or thrusting through the floorboards.

    Im really aware Vita and Virginia is an arthouse film and that enables you to make stronger choices, because youre not looking for a broad audience, says Button, whose most recent work, on the forthcoming second world war TV series World on Fire, has shown her what a luxury that is. Something Ive returned to very often was the mission statement that Virginia and Leonard Woolf wrote when they started their Hogarth Press: Our object has been to publish at low prices, short works of merit, in prose or poetry, which could not, because of their merits, appeal to a very large public. They broke all the rules and pissed everyone off: they published every great modernist writer we think of as mainstream today.

    If the tension between those lofty ideals and the need to make an impact gives the film itself a certain edgy quality, it is also what brings the lovers together in the first place. Artertons Sackville-West is a glittering, hedonistic aristocrat whose literary efforts do nothing to seduce Elizabeth Debickis lofty Virginia until Leonard reminds his wife that they could do with a money-spinner. Dont forget weve got Tom Eliot and Sigmund Freud to sell too.

    The point of the music, explains Button, was to find a modern response to how progressive the women were in their own time. We listened to everything they were listening to. She also provided a lengthy reading list that not only included books written by the women themselves but several of the many hundreds written about them. Youve always been such a nerd, Arterton tells her when she gives a particularly knowledgeable answer to a question about literary modernism.

    Making
    Making an arthouse film enables you to make stronger choices: Vita and Virginia. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

    While Button did an English degree at Oxford, and was inspired to go into film by Woolfs 1926 essay, The Cinema, Arterton didnt go to university, beginning her film career fresh out of drama school as the head girl of St Trinians and moving on to play the Bond girl Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace. Being from a working-class background, and tricking my way into the middle-class intelligentsia, I still feel like Im looked down on, she says, not entirely flippantly.

    She began her reading with Orlando and followed it up with Mrs Dalloway, which is the subject of a pointed exchange in the film between Vita and a travelling companion as they chug across North Africa on a train. Does anything ever actually happen to Mrs Dalloway? the companion asks. Not really, Vita replies, she just gives a party. Golly, says her friend, Im hooked. Does Arterton herself resonate at all with those sentiments? I didnt study Woolf, she says. I was introduced to her through this project, which is really sad. I wish Id read her in my formative years. But then, she adds brightly, trying the thought on like a debutante modelling a tiara: I feel like the target audience.

    The Bloomsbury heritage is one with many gatekeepers and among those to have taken umbrage to the film is Virginia Nicholson, the great-niece of Virginia Woolf, who recently aired her grievances in a newspaper tirade. They ranged from the respective heights of the two actors (Debicki towers over Arterton, whereas, in reality, Vita was the taller of the two), to their dining habits (they would never eat in the kitchen), to the representation of her relative as a mad prodigy, trembling with hypersensitivity when Virginia was actually pretty good fun.

    Gemma
    Gemma Arterton: I still feel looked down upon. Photograph: Piccadilly Pictures/Allstar

    One could add that, in covering only the few years of the affair, it edits out Vitas major achievement as the gardener who created a new way of making, and writing about, gardens out of her disappointment at being booted out of her ancestral home. But at the time, she was mainly a popular novelist. I think she was desperate for recognition among her peers as a writer, which I dont think she ever really achieved, says Arterton. I read [her 1924 novel] Seducers in Ecuador and its not Mrs Dalloway.

    Both director and actor are unrepentant, pointing out that they consulted the various family members at length. If were not allowed to take a view, with all the work weve done and all the detailed conversations weve had, what chance is there for a student in a classroom to have their own response? says Button. I could have made a documentary about her, but I chose to make a film. Art is an opinion and this is art.

    The film quotes Woolfs famous words on the writing of Orlando: I can revolutionise biography overnight the story of a hero who turns into a heroine who turns out to be fiction, which is of course what all biographies are. This portrait of a poet who changes sex at 30 and lives for centuries was her tribute to Sackville-West and marked the moment when their passionate love affair cooled into friendship.

    Tilda
    Tilda Swinton in Orlando. Photograph: Ronald Grant

    At the heart of the project is an attempt to find a 21st-century filmic equivalent to Woolfs early 20th-century stream of consciousness hence the crows and the ivy. Madness: what a convenient way to explain away her genius, says Vita of Virgina. The animations are an attempt to see female creativity and vulnerability through a new lens, explains Button. She was this blend of brilliance and suffering. She writes in her letters about this sense that she is breaking with reality. What weve tried to do is to look at her vulnerability in a new way, because, as a female director, Im extremely interested in the complexities of femininity. So yes, its an attempt to break the rules and create a new language, just like Virginia did when she wrote Orlando.

    Its not a coincidence that Tilda Swinton also quoted Woolfs line about the fiction of biography as a key to her own inspiration for Orlando in Sally Potters acclaimed 1992 film of the novel. A more recent interrogation of mythologising biography comes in Sally Wainwrights Gentleman Jack, an eight-part television series about the early 19th-century lesbian Anne Lister. It is the latest in a growing line of lesbian romances that are placing female desire in the mainstream. Is there a significance in the fact that these stories are being told now? I think we are both looking at compelling, driven relationships from a different era through a contemporary lens, and its very important that theres space for both to be told, and that they talk to each other, but theres not a quota for female or LGBTQ-driven stories, says Button.

    Suranne
    Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. Photograph: Matt Squire/BBC/Lookout Point/HBO

    There is only one sex scene in the film, though it creates an illusion of physical intoxication through the cameras caress of skin. Button and Arterton both bridle at the word sapphic It has a negative spin. Its often used in a scornful way while also being aware that the historical limitations of language work both ways. To describe Vita and Virginia as lesbians would be to ignore the fact that they both had happy marriages. They were bending the institution to their own will, says Arterton, who remains perplexed by the emotional slipperiness of Vita. Even in her letters and her other writings shes very hard to pin down. I think what anchored me was something I connected with at the time of reading the screenplay: I felt kind of promiscuous, and that I couldnt give my heart away. For me, the key was her line: If you leave me adrift, I will hurt you.

    For Button, the underlying challenge was how to understand without over-articulating. A conversation I always start is if Virginia Woolf were to write Orlando today, what pronoun would she use? Would it be they? Id love to know what shed do with the grammar and how it would affect her writing. I think she would definitely have explored gender-fluid characters. But it would be wrong to impose a modern perspective on that, just as it would be wrong to use the word bipolar.

    Among the early outings for the film was a screening at Flare, the BFIs LGBTQ+ film festival. I was really worried about my mum seeing it and my aunt, who is gay, and all of her friends who are gay, says Arterton. But she neednt have worried. They all came to see it and my mum thought it was really beautiful because you saw these women expressing something, rather than seeing something that was gratuitous. Id be the first person to condemn anything gratuitous: boobs out and that sort of thing. But its important for young people to see something beautiful.

    Button says: People so far have said they sort of forget its between two women. Their relationship was with their own sexuality, as much as with each other. She adds: The response I love the most when people have watched the film is when they say: I didnt know anything about them and now I want to find out more.

    Vita and Virginia is released in the UK on 5 July.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jun/27/gemma-arterton-vita-and-virginia-bloomsbury

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    Why Do the Kardashians Pets Keep Mysteriously Disappearing?

    Kim Kardashian West is many thingsa reality TV icon, multimillionaire entrepreneur, prison reform activist, aspiring lawyerbut animal lover is nowhere on the list. A recent episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians showed the mother of four dealing with the inconvenience of the death of her daughter Norths beloved hamster. The hamster, complete with a pink castle cage, was a gift from Aunt Khlo, whod failed to impress her niece with the special day of limousine rides and ice cream she planned. The only thing that would make North happy was a tiny rodent, much to her mothers chagrin.

    Disaster soon struck when one of Kims assistants delivered the grim news that the hamster, named Blacktail, hadnt moved in a while. Its, like, stiff, the assistant said monotonously, urging his boss to check on Blacktail. With the swish of a sleek black ponytail, Kim stood up from the kitchen table, sighing, I dont have time for a dead hamster. She spent the rest of the episode fluctuating between anger toward her sister for getting North a pet without permission and emotional distress over how to teach her daughter about the circle of life.

    Kim decided instead to take the classic lie-to-your-children-to-protect-them route and find an identical replacement. Norths pet was a fancy bear hamster (which I learned today is the actual name of a hamster breed and not something made up by a child), dubbed the unicorn of hamsters by Khlo because of its rare pedigree. They found a match, successfully hoodwinked a 6-year-old, and learned theyve been spelling hamster wrong their whole lives. (Hint: there is no p.)

    Given the familys track record with pets, it is not all that surprising that poor Blacktail met an early end. There have been numerous articles over the years outlining the lengthy list of Kardashian-Jenner pets, including several who mysteriously disappeared after a few Instagram posts or cameos on the show.

    Back in 2016, Kim herself even made a post on her now-nonexistent app, a sort of where are they now piece detailing the fates of all of the familys petsor at least the ones she could remember. She was careful to clarify that she remembered almost all of them, meaning there have been so many that some have been forgotten. Perhaps she was going for transparency, but she mostly just succeeded at raising eyebrows over just how many pets they have seemingly abandoned. (The Kardashian team did not respond to requests for comment.)

    Based on Kims list, Keeping Up with the Kardashians clips, and years of Snapchat stories and Instagram posts, I was able to determine that since Kardashian clan hurtled into the spotlight just over a decade ago, they have owned approximately 40 pets. The extensive menagerie has included nearly two dozen dogs, a couple of cats, chickens, a peacock, and maybe a pig. According to a KUWTK deleted scene, Wilbur the teacup pig was a gift from Kris to her favorite and youngest daughter, Kylie. It is unclear if she kept Wilbur, but he did go on to be a Vine star when the hilarious clip of the makeup mogul mistaking him for a chicken went viral.

    Dolce the Chihuahua, one of the OG Kar-Jenner pets, was killed by a coyote. He is now immortalized in the form of a beige Kylie Cosmetics lip kit bearing his name.

    The Wilbur anecdote is one of the more harmless of the unsolved pet mysteries, since it was never officially confirmed whether or not he became a permanent part of the family. In addition to Blacktail, at least three other family pets have died. Kims white Persian kitten Mercy, a gift from Kanye West, died unexpectedly in 2012 of something Kim vaguely described as a cancer-like virus. Dolce the Chihuahua, one of the OG Kar-Jenner pets, was killed by a coyote. He is now immortalized in the form of a beige Kylie Cosmetics lip kit bearing his name.

    Some of the dogs that are still alive became casualties of break-ups, lost in custody disputes or given away after the relationships went south. And then there are the ones who vanished with no explanation: bunnies who havent been featured on Instagram in years, a dog who seemed to exist solely as a prop in sponsored ads for the Wag dog-walking app.

    It should be noted that Kylie Jenner seems to be the only devoted pet parent of the bunch, recently confirming on Twitter that she still owns all of her pets and sharing videos of them playing with her 1-year-old daughter Stormi.

    Disposing of pets as if they are material goods, like Kourtney giving away her pricey Bengal kitten when she gave birth to Reign or Kendall presumably parting with her Great Dane puppy because it pooped too much, is not entirely off-brand for a family as wealthy as the Kardashians. It should not have come as a surprise to Kris that Kendall, the worlds highest-paid supermodel, did not want to pick up giant dog turds. And the KUWTK producers were really underestimating their viewers when they expected us to believe that Kris, all-powerful momager that she may be, donned rubber cleaning gloves and scrubbed the black-and-white tile floor of her laundry room when Kendall wouldnt do it.

    Not everyone has to be a pet person. So, given their pristine houses full of expensive white furniture and their jet-setting schedules of modelling gigs, meetings with the president, and vacations with baby daddies, why do the Kardashian-Jenners keep trying to convince the world that they are?

    Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-do-the-kardashians-pets-keep-mysteriously-disappearing

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