Another busy week, another week without a lot of links. I'm traveling next weekend, so it may be a couple weeks before we're back to normal.
----- 3 stars -----
'This Place Is Crazy' / Esquire
Joe said he was sentenced to two years. Attempted robbery in the second degree carries a minimum of three and a half years; the judge must’ve allowed him to plea to a lesser charge and given a “skid bid”—a short sentence. For most, that would mean time served in one of the state’s thirty medium-security facilities. But Attica is maximum-security, arguably New York’s toughest. Its notoriety mostly stems from a 1971 uprising that erupted over long-simmering complaints by prisoners of mistreatment. They took control of the prison, killing one CO and three prisoners in the process; five days into the standoff, under Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s orders, state police stormed the fortress, killing thirty-nine, including ten hostages. The whiff of distrust between COs, mostly white, and prisoners, mostly not, still lingers. “Why’d they send you here?” I asked. “Bro,” Dave cut in, “he’s a bugout.” Prisonspeak for someone with mental illness. “What’s your diagnosis?” I asked. “Schizoaffective disorder,” Joe said, a form of schizophrenia. He asked what I was in for. “Murder,” I replied. In 2001, when I was twenty-four and living in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, I’d shot a fellow drug dealer to defend my turf; six years into my sentence—twenty-eight-to-life—I was shanked six times by his friend in retaliation. Ambulanced to an outside hospital with a punctured lung, I didn’t snitch. In this upside-down kingdom, my backstory gave me cred. “Oh, man—you don’t look like a murderer,” Joe said as if this were the first time he noticed the hard cases who surrounded him. “Bugout” was the label Joe carried, just as “murderer” was mine. Here, where bugs were considered bottom-feeders, I wouldn’t want to switch places.
----- 2 stars -----
Climate Change Can Be Stopped by Turning Air Into Gasoline / The Atlantic
A team of scientists from Harvard University and the company Carbon Engineering announced on Thursday that they have found a method to cheaply and directly pull carbon-dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere. If their technique is successfully implemented at scale, it could transform how humanity thinks about the problem of climate change. It could give people a decisive new tool in the race against a warming planet, but could also unsettle the issue’s delicate politics, making it all the harder for society to adapt. Their research seems almost to smuggle technologies out of the realm of science fiction and into the real. It suggests that people will soon be able to produce gasoline and jet fuel from little more than limestone, hydrogen, and air. It hints at the eventual construction of a vast, industrial-scale network of carbon scrubbers, capable of removing greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere. Above all, the new technique is noteworthy because it promises to remove carbon dioxide cheaply.
New Mars discoveries advance case for possible life / AP
Scientists reported Thursday that NASA’s Curiosity rover has found potential building blocks of life in an ancient Martian lakebed. Hints have been found before, but this is the best evidence yet. The organic molecules preserved in 3.5 billion-year-old bedrock in Gale Crater — believed to once contain a shallow lake the size of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee — suggest conditions back then may have been conducive to life. That leaves open the possibility that microorganisms once populated our planetary neighbor and might still exist there. “The chances of being able to find signs of ancient life with future missions, if life ever was present, just went up,” said Curiosity’s project scientist, Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Curiosity also has confirmed sharp seasonal increases of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Researchers said they can’t rule out a biological source. Most of Earth’s atmospheric methane comes from animal and plant life, and the environment itself.
Deep Video Portraits - SIGGRAPH 2018 / YouTube
We present a novel approach that enables photo-realistic re-animation of portrait videos using only an input video. In contrast to existing approaches that are restricted to manipulations of facial expressions only, we are the first to transfer the full 3D head position, head rotation, face expression, eye gaze, and eye blinking from a source actor to a portrait video of a target actor.
The Impossible Landing - United Airlines Flight 232 - P3D / YouTube
A flight simulator reconstruction of the crash (and heroic manoeuvres) of UA 232 in 1989
----- 1 star -----
What Do Kids Do on Private Jets? / Bloomberg
Like everything else staged in the back eight seats of the Global 5000 Bombardier business jet—including games of dominoes and croquet—it’s part of an extravagant (and expensive) tea party produced at a turbulence-free 45,000 feet. Up in the front section of the plane, three adults sip Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Champagne while checking email, completely undisturbed by the action a few rows back. They can’t even hear the children’s squeals of delight when it comes time to eat the chocolate truffles they made themselves by hand. Welcome to the world’s first official Alice in Wonderland adventure in the sky.
An AI learned to see in the dark / Kottke
Cameras that can take usable photos in low light conditions are very useful but very expensive. A new paper presented at this year’s IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition shows that training an AI to do image processing on low-light photos taken with a normal camera can yield amazing results.
Why this skateboarding trick should be IMPOSSIBLE ft. Rodney Mullen / YouTube
Skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen teams up with Physics Girl to explain the unusual physics behind skateboard tricks. Filmed with a phantom high speed camera at 1000fps, see Mullen's tricks like never before.