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Messages - Its Rita

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1
News / <VITAL> Stop patent trolls by supporting the SHIELD Act.
« on: February 28, 2013, 10:30:20 AM »
Patent Trolls are attacking Wifi at coffee shops, Scanning documents at small businesses, and now podcasting. They must be stopped and you have a chance right now to help out.

http://boingboing.net/2013/02/27/sheild-act-a-bill-to-stop-pat.html

2
Doctor Who's upcoming 50th-anniversary bash is so shrouded in mystery that everyone's afraid to say a darn thing about it. Including former 10th Doctor himself David Tennant, who says that the BBC is "terrified" he'll reveal Who 50th spoilers.

http://blastr.com/2013/01/tennant-says-the-bbc-is-t.php

3
News / Tobe Hooper on Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D (and how it all began).
« on: January 07, 2013, 12:23:53 AM »
"I was holiday shopping at a mall in Sears or Montgomery Ward," reveals the legendary filmmaker Tobe Hooper about the origins of his famed film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. "I hate the crowds and shopping. I saw that wall of people. I was in the hardware department and there were a lot of chainsaws in front of me. ..."

http://blastr.com/2013/01/original-chain-saw-direct.php

4
Kindle and e-book news / The Alien that Ate Christmas!
« on: November 16, 2012, 08:01:36 AM »
A startling seasonal short story showcasing Santa, slay-bells and some shocking sci-fi screams!

UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00A6EH8PK

USA - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A6EH8PK

5
News / SpaceShipTwo on track for powered flight this year.
« on: October 20, 2012, 01:52:41 AM »
The team at Scaled Composites have installed SpaceShipTwo’s oxidizer tank, a key component that puts Virgin Galactic on track to make the spacecraft’s first powered flight by the end of the year.

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/10/spaceshiptwo-oxidizer-tank/?utm_source=YourMom

6
National writers' organizations representing authors of books in a variety of genres believe a secret deal between Google and major book publishers may encourage Google to digitize, use, and sell copyrighted books illegally. The writers' groups ask the Department of Justice to review whether the terms of the secret deal may violate Federal antitrust law.

Google and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced October 4 that they had signed a settlement agreement that means the publishers no longer are litigants in an ongoing suit against Google for copyright violations. Since early 2005, Google has been scanning library books for use in its Google Book Search project. Some 20 million books have been scanned, all without permission.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the National Writers Union (NWU), and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) all opposed two attempts to settle the suit -- as did the Department of Justice, myriad individual authors, organizations, attorneys general of many states, and even foreign governments. We now stand with the Authors Guild in believing Google violated authors' copyrights. This new, secret settlement with Google may do writers further damage.

We call on publishers to make the settlement terms public: Which books are included, and how much money is changing hands?

"Writers are partners with publishers in the joint venture of royalty publishing. We are contractually entitled to full disclosure of a deal that affects our books, rights, royalties, and livelihoods," said ASJA President Minda Zetlin.

We have written to the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice today to ask that they re-open their investigation of this case, and review the terms of the settlement for possible violations of federal law.

"Settlement negotiations should not be allowed to serve as a cover for otherwise-impermissible collusion by parties to litigation against the interests of other stakeholders, such as the writers of these books, who were excluded from those negotiations," said NWU President Larry Goldbetter.

Copyright law declares the creator of a work retains all rights not spelled out in the publishing contract. Until very recently, book contracts had no language whatever about e-books or digital rights. So when a publisher agrees to give Google access to its backlist of books, it's very likely that the publisher is taking money for rights it doesn't own. The authors own them.

Our organizations believe many publishers, including some of those who settled, have been engaged in the systematic theft of writers' electronic rights and e-book revenues where digital rights were never assigned by authors to publishers. They have been licensing e-book editions of works to which they hold only print rights. The industry needs an open process whereby authors can challenge ownership of any rights in question.

Whether Google Can Legally Copy Millions of Books Is Still in Question

With 20 million books already scanned, Google continues scanning books daily. In The Authors Guild, Inc. et al. v. Google, now before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, writers say this is illegal, since those who hold the rights to the books haven't given permission. Whether the publishers' settlement with Google will affect the lawsuit is unclear.

We are concerned that this new, secret agreement will give Google erstwhile permission to ramp up its illegal scanning. Even for those books to which publishers can legitimately license e-book rights, many questions remain. The secrecy of the deal lends itself to abuses.

ASJA, NWU, and SFWA urge Google, the AAP, and the publisher litigants to do the right thing: disclose the complete terms of this settlement immediately. If the parties won't do so voluntarily, the Department of Justice needs to use its authority to investigate this agreement.

7
Screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver will pen fourth film in dinosaur series based on Michael Crichton's novel; Steven Spielberg will co-produce the movie but won't direct it.

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/jurassic-park-4-fast-tracked-universal-rise-planet-apes-writers-tapped-report-article-1.1099869

8
Press Releases / The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey... plot details
« on: December 14, 2011, 10:22:16 AM »
From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of two films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The second film will be The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

Both films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever...Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities ... A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins. Also reprising their roles from The Lord of the Rings movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

The ensemble cast also includes (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, John Bell, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O'Gorman, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, and Aidan Turner.

The screenplays for both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Jackson is also producing the films, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Ken Kamins, Toby Emmerich and Zane Weiner, with Boyens serving as co-producer.

Under Jackson's direction, both movies are being shot consecutively in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Filming is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.

Among the creative behind-the-scenes team returning to Jackson's crew are director of photography Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah, conceptual designers Alan Lee and John Howe, composer Howard Shore and make-up and hair designer Peter King. The costumes are designed by Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor. The score is being composed by Howard Shore.

Taylor is also overseeing the design and production of weaponry, armour and prosthetics which are once again being made by the award winning Weta Workshop. Weta Digital take on the visual effects for both films, led by the film's visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri. Post production will take place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are productions of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production. Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television licensing, being handled by MGM.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released beginning December 14, 2012. The second film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is slated for release the following year, beginning December 13, 2013.

9
BioWare is making final preparations for the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic in stores on December 20, 2011 in North America and on December 15th in Europe. BioWare also revealed today that Early Game Access for players who pre-order the game will begin on December 13, 2011 at 6:00 AM CST, giving some players as much as a seven-day head start to their personal Star Wars™ saga. To participate in the Early Game Access program, customers must pre-order any version of Star Wars: The Old Republic and redeem their code at www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com/preorder before the official launch of the game.

Pre-orders are still available in limited supplies at most participating retailers and via Origin.com.

Die-hard MMO gamers and passionate Star Wars fans worldwide are gearing up for the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic. During the weekend of November 25 – November 28, 2011, over 725,000 unique gamers participated in a Beta test for the game, logging in 9 million hours of gameplay. With two weeks to go until launch, more than 78,000 guilds have participated in the Pre-Launch Guild Program and over 2.4 million players are registered on the game’s official web site www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a go for launch on December 20,” said Dr. Greg Zeschuk, Co-Founder of BioWare and General Manager of the BioWare label’s MMO Business Unit. “We are extremely humbled by the surge of players who have joined us on this journey and participated in the Beta Weekend. Their participation has given us the opportunity to stress test the game and allowed us to tune the experience, ensuring that we deliver the smoothest possible MMO launch later this month."

Set thousands of years before the classic films, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a story-driven, massively multiplayer online game challenging players with epic quests, featuring dynamic combat across iconic worlds in the Star Wars galaxy such as Tatooine, Alderaan, Hoth and more. Each of the game’s eight primary classes will enjoy their own unique storyline, all of which are fully voiced by a huge cast of actors and features a sweeping musical score.

Included with the purchase of every copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic is 30 days of access to the game, after which players can continue to play through subscribing at either $14.99 per month, $41.97 for 3 months ($13.99 per month), or $77.94 for six months ($12.99 per month).

For more information on Star Wars: The Old Republic, visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com

10
This I find truly condescending, the notion that people who like Steampunk are only doing it to be different, not because they are actually passionate about it.  That what's more important to people who like Steampunk is that they are quirky and different, not the Steampunk itself.

http://ididntchoosethis.blogspot.com/2011/12/steampunk-tuesday-response-to-gawkers.html

11
Press Releases / Aye Aye Mr (Higgs) Boson!
« on: December 13, 2011, 10:26:02 AM »
In a seminar held at CERN today, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson. Their results are based on the analysis of considerably more data than those presented at the summer conferences, sufficient to make significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the elusive Higgs. The main conclusion is that the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, is most likely to have a mass constrained to the range 116-130 GeV by the ATLAS experiment, and 115-127 GeV by CMS. Tantalising hints have been seen by both experiments in this mass region, but these are not yet strong enough to claim a discovery.

Higgs bosons, if they exist, are very short lived and can decay in many different ways. Discovery relies on observing the particles they decay into rather than the Higgs itself. Both ATLAS and CMS have analysed several decay channels, and the experiments see small excesses in the low mass region that has not yet been excluded.

Taken individually, none of these excesses is any more statistically significant than rolling a die and coming up with two sixes in a row. What is interesting is that there are multiple independent measurements pointing to the region of 124 to 126 GeV. It's far too early to say whether ATLAS and CMS have discovered the Higgs boson, but these updated results are generating a lot of interest in the particle physics community.

"We have restricted the most likely mass region for the Higgs boson to 116-130 GeV, and over the last few weeks we have started to see an intriguing excess of events in the mass range around 125 GeV," explained ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti."This excess may be due to a fluctuation, but it could also be something more interesting. We cannot conclude anything at this stage. We need more study and more data. Given the outstanding performance of the LHC this year, we will not need to wait long for enough data and can look forward to resolving this puzzle in 2012."

"We cannot exclude the presence of the Standard Model Higgs between 115 and 127 GeV because of a modest excess of events in this mass region that appears, quite consistently, in five independent channels," explained CMS experiment Spokesperson, Guido Tonelli. "The excess is most compatible with a Standard Model Higgs in the vicinity of 124 GeV and below but the statistical significance is not large enough to say anything conclusive. As of today what we see is consistent either with a background fluctuation or with the presence of the boson. Refined analyses and additional data delivered in 2012 by this magnificent machine will definitely give an answer."

Over the coming months, both experiments will be further refining their analyses in time for the winter particle physics conferences in March. However, a definitive statement on the existence or non-existence of the Higgs will require more data, and is not likely until later in 2012.

The Standard Model is the theory that physicists use to describe the behaviour of fundamental particles and the forces that act between them. It describes the ordinary matter from which we, and everything visible in the Universe, are made extremely well. Nevertheless, the Standard Model does not describe the 96% of the Universe that is invisible. One of the main goals of the LHC research programme is to go beyond the Standard Model, and the Higgs boson could be the key.

A Standard Model Higgs boson would confirm a theory first put forward in the 1960s, but there are other possible forms the Higgs boson could take, linked to theories that go beyond the Standard Model. A Standard Model Higgs could still point the way to new physics, through subtleties in its behaviour that would only emerge after studying a large number of Higgs particle decays. A non-Standard Model Higgs, currently beyond the reach of the LHC experiments with data so far recorded, would immediately open the door to new physics, whereas the absence of a Standard Model Higgs would point strongly to new physics at the LHC's full design energy, set to be achieved after 2014. Whether ATLAS and CMS show over the coming months that the Standard Model Higgs boson exists or not, the LHC programme is opening the way to new physics.

12
The Diogenes Club / Justin Bieber, Macy’s co-opt steampunk subculture
« on: December 13, 2011, 04:20:21 AM »
Nothing quite kills the ethos of your punk-inspired subculture like a mass-market purveyor of UGG boots — or worse, a tween singing sensation — adopting its aesthetic. That’s why fans of steampunk, the Victorian-era sci-fi cosplayers, may be fleeing en masse to another form of dress-up.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/justin-bieber-macys-co-opt-steampunk-subculture/2011/12/12/gIQArrewpO_blog.html

13
Bradford was going back to the future today as a six-month exhibition devoted to the growing movement of steampunk gets under way.

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/local/localbrad/9414381.Steampunk_exhibition_gets_underway_at_Bradford_Industrial_Museum/

14
News / NASA Mars Rover finds mineral vein deposited by water
« on: December 08, 2011, 12:22:31 AM »
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has found bright veins of a mineral, apparently gypsum, deposited by water. Analysis of the vein will help improve understanding of the history of wet environments on Mars.

"This tells a slam-dunk story that water flowed through underground fractures in the rock," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for Opportunity. "This stuff is a fairly pure chemical deposit that formed in place right where we see it. That can't be said for other gypsum seen on Mars or for other water-related minerals Opportunity has found. It's not uncommon on Earth, but on Mars, it's the kind of thing that makes geologists jump out of their chairs."

The latest findings by Opportunity were presented Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union's conference in San Francisco.

The vein examined most closely by Opportunity is about the width of a human thumb (0.4 to 0.8 inch), 16 to 20 inches long, and protrudes slightly higher than the bedrock on either side of it. Observations by the durable rover reveal this vein and others like it within an apron surrounding a segment of the rim of Endeavour Crater. None like it were seen in the 20 miles (33 kilometers) of crater-pocked plains that Opportunity explored for 90 months before it reached Endeavour, nor in the higher ground of the rim.

Last month, researchers used the Microscopic Imager and Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer on the rover's arm and multiple filters of the Panoramic Camera on the rover's mast to examine the vein, which is informally named "Homestake." The spectrometer identified plentiful calcium and sulfur, in a ratio pointing to relatively pure calcium sulfate.

Calcium sulfate can exist in many forms, varying by how much water is bound into the minerals' crystalline structure. The multi-filter data from the camera suggest gypsum, a hydrated calcium sulfate. On Earth, gypsum is used for making drywall and plaster of Paris.

Observations from orbit have detected gypsum on Mars previously. A dune field of windblown gypsum on far northern Mars resembles the glistening gypsum dunes in White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

"It is a mystery where the gypsum sand on northern Mars comes from," said Opportunity science-team member Benton Clark of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. "At Homestake, we see the mineral right where it formed. It will be important to see if there are deposits like this in other areas of Mars."

The Homestake deposit, whether gypsum or another form of calcium sulfate, likely formed from water dissolving calcium out of volcanic rocks. The minerals combined with sulfur either leached from the rocks or introduced as volcanic gas, and was deposited as calcium sulfate into an underground fracture that later became exposed at the surface.

Throughout Opportunity's long traverse across Mars' Meridiani plain, the rover has driven over bedrock composed of magnesium, iron and calcium sulfate minerals that also indicate a wet environment billions of years ago. The highly concentrated calcium sulfate at Homestake could have been produced in conditions more neutral than the harshly acidic conditions indicated by the other sulfate deposits observed by Opportunity.

"It could have formed in a different type of water environment, one more hospitable for a larger variety of living organisms," Clark said.

Homestake and similar-looking veins appear in a zone where the sulfate-rich sedimentary bedrock of the plains meets older, volcanic bedrock exposed at the rim of Endeavour. That location may offer a clue about their origin.

"We want to understand why these veins are in the apron but not out on the plains," said the mission's deputy principal investigator, Ray Arvidson, of Washington University in St. Louis. "The answer may be that rising groundwater coming from the ancient crust moved through material adjacent to Cape York and deposited gypsum, because this material would be relatively insoluble compared with either magnesium or iron sulfates."

Opportunity and its rover twin, Spirit, completed their three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of extended missions and made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. Spirit stopped communicating in 2010. Opportunity continues exploring, currently heading to a sun-facing slope on the northern end of the Endeavour rim fragment called "Cape York" to keep its solar panels at a favorable angle during the mission's fifth Martian winter.

NASA launched the next-generation Mars rover, the car-sized Curiosity, on Nov. 26. It is slated for arrival at the planet's Gale Crater in August 2012.

15
Jackelian chat / Re: Just read Kingdom Beyond the Waves
« on: March 06, 2010, 11:10:19 AM »
I would go for any order, too. The world is the same, some of the same bods, but there's not much in the way of plot carry-through between the novels.

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