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This Baby Sloth Totally Thinks This Teddy Bear Is His Mother

Random Musings

TIME

The London Zoo has released photos of its seven-week-old, two-toed baby sloth Edward hugging a stuffed animal.

The sloth is named after Johnny Depp’s role as Edward Scissorhands because of its four-inch-long claws.

It is being hand-reared by a zookeeper, Kelly-Anne Kelleher, after its mother, Marilyn, stopped producing milk. According to the zoo, “To help build up the muscles that Edward would normally use holding on to [mom], keeper Kelly-Anne customised his sloth-teddy with carabiners so that it can be hung from a branch, enabling the youngster to climb on and strengthen his little limbs.”

[time-gallery id=”3319170″]

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How to Find Out Which Paintings Were the Most Creative of Their Time

Random Musings

TIME

From Picasso’s The Young Ladies of Avignon to Munch’s The Scream, what was it about these paintings that arrested people’s attention upon viewing them, that cemented them in the canon of art history as iconic works?

In many cases, it’s because the artist incorporated a technique, form or style that had never been used before. They exhibited a creative and innovative flair that would go on to be mimicked by artists for years to come.

Throughout human history, experts have often highlighted these artistic innovations, using them to judge a painting’s relative worth. But can a painting’s level of creativity be quantified by Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

At Rutgers’ Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, my colleagues and I proposed a novel algorithm that assessed the creativity of any given painting, while taking into account the painting’s context within the scope of art history.

In the end, we found that, when introduced…

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Wanderlust

Wandering Wanderlust

Book Reviews

We all make snap decisions, and whoever says otherwise is a liar. When UK novelist Adam Millard reached out to me to review his eclectic piece Wanderlust, I was a bit taken aback. Not because of his brave use of strong imagery, but because his sheer willingness to bring the world’s attention to that of steampunk. One of the first and truest forms of subversion, steampunk is the perfect blend of technology and industrial aesthetics that gives Millard’s work a sense of modernity but also a tinge of nostalgia.

Millard’s Wanderlust is energetic and refreshing in its portrayal of suspense in turn of the century London. The story finds the self-aware and agile Abigale Egars, infamous art thief, is a heroine for the ages. She’s unapologetic and intelligent, quite literally, up for anything. Egars is soon kidnapped by the faceless The Guild, an organization that wishes to extract the wisdom from Egars’ mind via an implanted device. Egars is then forced to embark on several quests by The Guild, throwing her life in danger and enabling her to question the true value of art in the new world order.

Wanderlust

The short life of Strangers’ Hospital on Avenue D

Random Musings

Ephemeral New York

Strangershospital2015Built in 1827, the brick building at 143-145 Avenue D, at Tenth Street, is the oldest structure in Alphabet City.

The many-times-remodeled building served first as the Dry Dock Banking House, then as a laundry, cigarette factory, clothing store, even a squat.

But for three years, from 1871 to 1874, it was the Strangers’ Hospital, an institution built by John Keyser, a manufacturer turned philanthropist who had already funded a lodging house called the Strangers’ Rest on Pearl Street.

In a benevolent-minded, Gilded Age city, he established a home “for the relief of suffering” for the “deserving sick poor.”

Strangershospitalbook

It was not intended, “for the benefit of the wealthy, who in times of sickness can command the comforts of a well-ordered home and the attendance of a skillful physician of surgeon,” said the president of the Strangers’ Hospital on opening day in February 1871.

“Nor yet for…

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What Brooklyn looked like in summer 1820

Random Musings

Ephemeral New York

Landscape artist Francis Guy painted “Summer View of Brooklyn” in 1820 from the vantage point of 11 Front Street in today’s DUMBO.

That means this collection of tidy barns and houses would be located under the Brooklyn Bridge. That even looks like a nascent Manhattan skyline, with steeples, in the distance.

Francisguysummerscene

Things have changed a lot in 195 years. A summer view of today’s Brooklyn from Front Street would look more like this, with crowds sweltering on line at Grimaldi’s pizza.

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Guy painted the same scene from Front Street in winter 1820 as well. The winter scene is more detailed, with various residents working and going about their day.

Who were the hardy Brooklynites he depicted? This key from the Brooklyn Museum decodes their names and which house belonged to who.

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Should I Eat Pretzels?

Random Musings

TIME

4/5 experts say no.

You might think pretzels are the best nutritional choice from the vending machine, since they’re typically free of (or low in) fat. But here’s a twist: pretzels aren’t a healthy pick, according to most of our experts.

“Pretzels are a snack food made from enriched flour which provides very little fiber and overall very little nutritional benefit,” says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian in the preventive cardiology nutrition program at the Cleveland Clinic. They might be low in fat, but they’re also low in protein, low in fiber and high in sodium—a typical one-ounce serving has 352 mg of sodium, almost 15% of the total daily limit recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. For snacks that are more nutrient-dense, Patton says, nuts, seeds, roasted edamame or popcorn would be better choices.

Another thing pretzels have in abundance are carbohydrates and they’re high on the…

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All Your Dreams of Witnessing an Exorcism Live on TV Are About to Come True

Random Musings

TIME

It’s been more than 40 years since double Oscar-winner The Exorcist arrived in theaters in 1973, but the abundance of exorcism-themed films in the ensuing years have made it apparent that moviegoers’ fascination with the phenomenon hasn’t waned. To that end, Destination America, a cable channel owned by Discovery Communications, is readying itself to make television history on October 30, when the network will air what it is calling the first-ever live televised exorcism in U.S. history.

The event, appropriately dubbed Exorcism: Live will not be without a proper sense of history. Destination America is planning on returning to the story—and house—that inspired the William Friedkin film, 66 years after the exorcism of Roland Doe in the suburbs of St. Louis. However, instead of performing the exorcism on a person, the program will focus on exorcising the house itself.

“As we step into one of the most haunted and well-known…

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Nouveau Haitiah

Club Nouveau

Book Reviews

The speculative fiction genre is a sneaky one. It tends to coalesce the ever-popular Science Fiction genre with fantasy and horror, often with an end result like a weird fusion of Star Trek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  New novelist Donald McEwing takes this all-encompassing genre and spins it to meet his own literary agenda as illustrated in his work Nouveau Haitiah.

The novel itself acts as a cerebral massage; though containing characters that have popped up in literature over time, they are bold and original in their intents and overarching plans. The main characters in “Haitiah” are a motley crew of sorts in terms of literary themes. There’s the strong heroine, the sucker who wants to stay young forever, and the witch. Each of the aforementioned jointly embark on the sordid quest of historical preservation and ultimate redemption. Along the way of these concurrent quests, McEwing masterfully documents the existence of an organic, exciting, and exotic world that is described in ways that enable the reader to envision its existence.

Nouveau Haitiah

Finders Keepers

What Went Wrong in Stephen King’s “Finders Keepers”?

Book Reviews

I’m pretty confident when I say that when Stephen King stops writing, the world of literature will never be the same. His uncanny ability to pump out wholly original stories every single year is astounding to me. What makes it even more remarkable is that King manages to subvert genres right when they are on the precipice of extinction, breathing new life into staid conventions all the while infusing ever so subtle flourishes of the supernatural. In recent years, King has seemingly devoted his interest to writing straight-up crime thrillers. There are no menacing clowns hiding in the sewer grates, nor are there any invisible domes encapsulating a small town in Maine. Instead, the monsters are not so literal.  Nope, King’s new style of monster is the omnipresent kid at the local Best Buy who also happens to be a serial killer. He’s the granola carnie at the local amusement park who is all pimples and teeth but is a pulsating maniac underneath the surface. In more ways that not, King’s new type of monster is more terrifying than the ones that have popped up in works from IT and Needful Things in that the creature is not an inaccessible being but someone, quite literally, in your own backyard.

Finders Keepers