Today: The $400,000 helmet, Google's RankBrain, mow-to-own, Homeland's propaganda, wet-bulb temperatures and Broadway in your living room

Welcome to @TheNewsNomad

A daily list of news and views that excite the imagination.

Curated by
James Porteous
28 October 2015

Read my contributions at RYOT for more stories that fly below the radar

F-35 helmets cost $400,000 - Each
[Air Force Times]
"The helmet is much more than a helmet, the helmet is a workspace. It's an interpretation of the battle space. It's situational awareness. Calling this thing a helmet ... we've got to come up with a new word." The $400,000 helmets are "built to match the measurements of the pilot's head to ensure it fits comfortably and snugly. The article states further that "If each helmet costs $400,000 and each of the 2,400 F-35s has a pilot, the bottom line cost for helmets is $960 million — not taking into account that pilots retire and are replaced by pilots with different-sized heads."

Google Turning Its Lucrative Web Search Over to AI Machines
"For the past few months, a “very large fraction” of the millions of queries a second that people type into the company’s search engine have been interpreted by an artificial intelligence system. Nicknamed RankBrain it uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities -- called vectors -- that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries."

Another City Turns to Mow-to-Own Program
[Route Fifty]

Memphis will soon become the latest city to adopt a 'mow-to-own' program. Many residents have been mowing vacant neighboring land for years, but now City Council will credit mowers '$25 per cut for three years.' As long as the "lots costs between $500 and $10,000 and the resident pays the $175 administrative fee and any difference remaining, Memphis will deed them the land at the end of that period." The city of Memphis and Shelby County currently spend $8 million annually maintaining about 3,500 vacant lots in the county land bank—97 percent of the parcels falling inside city limits. The city owns around 200 lots.

Homeland, Snowden and fictional defences of the CIA
[The Conversation]
The use of CIA, FBI, NSA and other alphabet soups as the basis for 'fictional entertainment' has become so prevalent to plot lines in TV and movies that we barely even notice it anymore. But notice we should. The shows almost anesthetize viewers to what appears to be a 'commonplace' world of torture and government authority. If that was happening in Russia, we would call it state-sponsored propaganda. We call it 'Hollywood.' In this article the writer looks at Homeland's part in this not-so-subtle indoctrination. 

"Should carbon emissions and global warming continue to rise unabated, parts of the Persian Gulf region could be hit with "unprecedented events of deadly heat" within this century, according to new research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change." The study found that "many major cities in the Middle East "could exceed a tipping point for human survival, even in shaded and well-ventilated spaces. That tipping point involves a measurement known as "wet-bulb temperature." The human body may be able to adapt to extremes of "dry-bulb temperature" (commonly referred to as simply temperature) through perspiration and associated evaporative cooling—provided that the wet-bulb temperature (a combined measure of temperature and humidity or degree of 'mugginess') remains below a threshold of 35°C. But it got close this summer in Bandar-e Mahshahr, Iran, where the wet-bulb temperature hit 34.6°C—or a heat index of 165°F—in July. "

Broadway on Demand? New Streaming Service Aims to Bring Stage to Screens
Broadway in your living room. BroadwayHD is selling monthly and yearly subscriptions to watch Broadway plays on a variety of devices. They have over 100 in their library and will be adding more each month, including “Memphis” and “Jekyll and Hyde” — as well as product from BBC Worldwide North America and public television station WNET, including London performances featuring the likes of Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench and Daniel Craig.The new site  will take advantage of a trend in the UK, where it is commonplace to watch plays featuring the National Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company and elsewhere on movie screens.

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Original Artwork and Writing
© 2015 

James Porteous 


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