From Patrick Whittle for AP: “Roger Payne, the scientist who spurred a worldwide environmental conservation movement with his discovery that whales could sing, has died. He was 88. Payne made the discovery in 1967 during a research trip to Bermuda in which a Navy engineer provided him with a recording of curious underwater sounds documented while listening for Russian submarines. Payne identified the haunting tones as songs whales sing to one another. He saw the discovery of whale song as a chance to spur interest in saving the giant animals, who were disappearing from the planet. Payne would produce the album “Songs of the Humpback Whale” in 1970. A surprise hit, the record galvanized a global movement to end whale hunting.”
If AI software creates a new episode of Seinfeld, is it copyright infringement?
Aharon Schreiber writes: “On December 14, 2022, a new season of Seinfeld debuted on the streaming site Twitch, airing continuously, 24 hours a day, every day for a few months. Ok, not really. The AI generated Seinfeld parody “Nothing, Forever,” did run 24 hours a day until February 6, 2023, but the show was completely procedurally generated via artificial intelligence. While the show was pretty well received, with even the official Seinfeld twitter account linking to the Twitch channel, “Nothing, Forever” opens up a series of new questions regarding the intersection of copyright law and artificial intelligence. Most importantly, does Seinfeld, Jerry, the actors, NBC, or any other person or entity with rights to Seinfeld the show have a copyright claim against “Nothing, Forever?”
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Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova challenged American stereotypes
Matthew Wills for JSTOR Daily: “The first woman in space was the cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who launched on June 16th, 1963. Her craft, Vostok 6, orbited the planet forty-eight times over three days. Tereshkova’s achievement was one of great pride and propaganda value for the USSR—and confusion and consternation for the USA. For one thing, she didn’t fit American’s Cold War-era stereotypes of Soviet women. One such stereotype was the “graceless, shapeless, and sexless” Russian working class woman. Many Americans imagined female Soviets as miserable and shabby, suffering from bad clothes and makeup, thanks to their inferior form of government. According to Griswold, by the late 1950s, the “American conception of Soviet working class femininity became a way to reassert the boundaries of proper womanhood” which, after World War II in the US, no longer had a place for “Rosie the Riveter.”
Why Nahua pilgrims carry thousands of papers up sacred peaks
Alan and Pamela Sandstrom write for Sapiens.org: “In a small Nahua community, situated in the foothills of northern Veracruz, Mexico, preparations were underway for a major ritual event. A circle of busy ritual specialists folded sheets of paper and cut elaborate figures with scissors, piling their creations on decoratively cut paper beds. For a pilgrimage of this magnitude, the skilled paper cutters produced well over 10,000 of these miniature figures with their human-like forms. The participants then carefully wrapped the paper cuttings in a palm mat to carry on their pilgrim’s trail. Like many members of other Nahua communities, residents of Amatlán undertaking pilgrimages to the summits of venerated mountains to express religious devotion.”
WB Yeats’ live-in spiritual medium
Emily Ludolph writes for JSTOR Daily: “Deep in the birches and oaks of Ashdown Forest, William Butler Yeats and his new bride Georgie Hyde-Lees were having a miserable first few days of marriage. Mere days into their honeymoon at the Ashdown Forest Hotel, Georgie (renamed George by her husband) must have had a ghostly suspicion—or perhaps simply seen the poorly hidden fact—that Yeats was still writing wistful letters to a previous bride. Playing on their mutual interest in spiritualism and the occult, George tried a novel approach to saving her marriage. “On the afternoon of October 24th 1917, four days after my marriage,” wrote Yeats, “my wife surprised me by attempting automatic writing. What came in disjointed sentences was so exciting and so profound, that I persuaded her to give an hour or two day after day to the unknown writer.”
How Italians first invented espresso
Ian MacAllen for American Domani: “Coffee was first cultivated in Africa around modern Ethiopia. It spread first into the middle east and then Venice, a major trading city-state, and coffeehouses spread across Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. The primary methods for brewing coffee were boiling in the Turkish Style or steeping in the French style, but in 1901, Luigi Bezzera of Milan created a new machine, which forced steam through a small compact of grinds similar to modern systems. But Bezzera lacked the capital to mass-produce his system until 1903, when Desiderio Pavoni worked with Bezzera to refine the machine. They expanded production, and at the 1906 Milan World’s Fair, the two debuted ‘cafe espresso,’ brewing single cups in just seconds.”
Your DNA could stretch from the sun to Pluto and back 17 times
from Massimo on Twitter