Sunday, November 15, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jill Andrews - "Cannibal"

We were huge fans of Andrews’ band The Everybodyfields, and the Knoxville, Tenn., songwriter's solo material is just as satisfying. Andrews was kind enough to stop by the Paste studio during CMJ to perform a few tracks from her latest album, The War Inside.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

#ThanksEinstein, #HelloJetman

In 1912, struggling to fashion the equations, he wrote to a colleague that 'Never before in my life have I tormented myself anything like this.' Yet, just a year later, while working in Zurich with his more mathematically attuned colleague Marcel Grossmann, Einstein came tantalizingly close to the answer. Leveraging results from the mid-1800s that provided the geometrical language for describing curved shapes, Einstein created a wholly novel yet fully rigorous reformulation of gravity in terms of the geometry of space and time.

It was a hundred years ago this November, and Albert Einstein was enjoying a rare moment of contentment. Days earlier, on November 25, 1915, he had taken to the stage at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin and declared that he had at last completed his agonizing, decade-long expedition to a new and deeper understanding of gravity. The general theory of relativity, Einstein asserted, was now complete.

The month leading up to the historic announcement had been the most intellectually intense and anxiety-ridden span of his life. It culminated with Einstein’s radically new vision of the interplay of space, time, matter, energy and gravity, a feat widely revered as one of humankind’s greatest intellectual achievements.

Live Science:
Time after time, experiments have proved that Einstein's theory of general relativity, which describes the way gravity behaves, especially when dealing with high speeds and large masses. In the new study, physicists looked at gobs of data on planetary orbits to look for tiny anomalies that couldn't be explained by either Isaac Newton's theory of gravity — in which gravity is a force between objects that depends on their masses — or Einstein's general relativity theory, which says gravity is a warping of space-time itself.

And Einstein's theory holds up, once again.

"They've assembled decades of data of planetary motions to look for deviations from Lorentz invariance, a cornerstone of both [special and general relativity] and the Standard Model of particle physics," said Paul M. Sutter, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University who was not involved in the new study. "If someone finds evidence for this [violation], it's instant Nobel."

More information:
» Popular Science: "General Relativity: 100 Years Old And Still Full Of Surprises"
» The Guardian: "Relativity versus quantum mechanics"
» Smithsonian: "Why String Theory Still Offers Hope We Can Unify Physics"

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Floating Cities are Generally Not Fata Morgana Mirages"


A video is being widely shared on social media (and the "weird news" sections of more traditional media) claiming to show the image of an impossibly large city rising above the fog in the city of Foshan (佛山), Guangdong province, China.

Some have said this is an example of a fata morgana, a type of mirage where light is bent though the atmosphere in such a way to create the illusion of buildings on the horizon. This is utterly impossible in this case, as fata morgana only creates a very thin strip of such an illusion very close to the horizon, and appears small and far away. It does not create images high in the sky.

No expert has actually looked at this video and said it was a fata morgana, and they won't because it's obviously not.

The second and more common type of "floating city" illusions is with buildings that are simply rising up out of clouds or low fog, and hence appear to be floating above them. This has led to "floating city" stories in the past, with this recent example, also from China.

This is simply a photo of building across the river, but when cropped it appears like they are floating, which led to all kinds of wild stories of "ghost cities". This actually came from mistranslations of the original news reports, where local people (who knew exactly what they were looking at) were simply marveling at how pretty the scene looked, with the buildings appearing to float above clouds.

The image actually looks quite like this older image taken from a video published in June 2015.

Here we can see the image is more obviously faked in some way. The "floating" building on the right goes in front of the mountains. This means it cannot be some kind of natural phenomena. The image is either a digital composite, or it was filmed through a window or other sheet of glass.

While the two examples are not identical, there's enough similarities to think that they were faked in the same manner.

Here's an example of someone posting a reflection on Weibo, and calling it a "Mirage" (海市蜃楼) On Weibo it's quite common to see the word "mirage" used to describe a photo of buildings in cloud. i.e. it's generally used figuratively.

Cities in clouds are popular subjects in China. While some videos are obviously just a city in clouds, they are described as "海市蜃楼", or mirage. An image search for this word gives many other examples, largely of buildings rising above clouds, but also some Fata Morgana, as well as many artistic interpretations.


In the decades following “Vanderdecken’s Message Home" in 1821, few other than the most superstitious (or most intoxicated) of sailors actually feared the Flying Dutchman, but real fata morganas made their way into the blossoming mass media of America. In 1871, the Sentinel of Santa Cruz, California reported a fata morgana that made a steamer appear “four or five stories high,” while other schooners played about beautifully in the mirage. Some 20 years later in Buffalo, New York, 20,000 people gathered to witness a fata morgana on Lake Ontario. Though Toronto was over 50 miles away, “its church spires could be counted with the greatest ease” through the mirage, reported Scientific American.

At work here is some basic physics. When the sun heats up the atmosphere above the ocean, it creates a gradient of temperatures: Near the surface, it’s still relatively cool because the water is chilling that air, but sitting above that is a layer of warmer air. Now, light doesn’t always travel in a straight line. When it hits a boundary between two layers of the atmosphere that are different temperatures (and therefore different densities), it bends and travels through the new layer at a different angle. This is known as refraction. The change in the light’s angle of travel depends on the difference in density between the two layers.

How does bending light create a mirage? The rest of the effect is caused by how your brain works. When light hits your eyes, your brain assumes it arrived there in a straight path between you and the object reflecting the light. So if light is bent on its way toward you, your brain will think the object is where it would be if the light’s path was straight. This is why when you are looking down on a surface of water, objects under the surface will appear to be in a different spot than they actually are—just ask a spear fisherman…if you happen to know a spear fisherman. The human brain doesn’t automatically account for the refraction. (Interestingly, the brains of some birds like ospreys do correct for the effect so that when they dive headlong into the water after a fish, they are right on target.)

In the case of a fata morgana mirage, light reflecting from a distant object such as a ship is bent downward as it passes through the colder, denser air near the surface of the ocean (or sometimes cold land, particularly ice). But your brain places the object where it would be if the light came to you in a straight path—higher than it actually is. This bending effect can even work with the curvature of the Earth if conditions are just right, which is why some fata morgana images can actually be refracted cities and ships from beyond the horizon.

The opposite situation is what produces mirages like an oasis of water in the desert. In this case, a hot layer of air just above the surface bends light rays up toward your eyes, causing your brain to perceive things as much lower than they actually are. The desert oasis is actually the sky. This kind of mirage is known as inferior, while the fata morgana, which places objects higher than they actually are, is superior.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Redskins Attorneys: No Trademark Has Been Cancelled for Being Disparaging

"The cancellation of the team’s trademark registrations won’t go into effect until the Redskins have exhausted the appeals process in federal court. Even if the team takes the case to the Supreme Court and loses, it can still use the name “Redskins” and leverage trademark protections under state law. Still, the team has argued that losing its protections could hurt its brand and aid copycats who want to sell unlicensed merchandise."
Washington Post:
Nearly four months after a federal judge ordered the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations for disparaging Native Americans, the National Football League team is appealing with a provocative tactic: listing the names of porn, clothing and beer companies that use offensive language but nonetheless have the support of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“By way of example only, the following marks are registered today: Take Yo Panties Off clothing; Dangerous Negro shirts . . . Midget-Man condoms and inflatable sex dolls,” the Redskins’ attorneys wrote in their opening brief filed Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond. The lawyers later added a footnote with 31 more trademark registrations, many of them unprintable in The Washington Post. On the list: “Party With Sluts . . . Redneck Army apparel . . . Booty Call sex aids . . . Dumb Blonde hair products.”

In their bid to preserve the Redskins’ trademark registrations, the team’s attorneys are making a two-pronged argument: How can the government allow federal trademark registrations for those inflammatory entities but strip the Redskins of their protections? And, regardless of how offensive a trademark’s name might be, how can the government reject a registration without infringing on First Amendment rights?

“A ban on registering ‘disparaging’ trademarks unconstitutionally burdens speech based on content and viewpoint, just as would a ban on registering copyrights for ‘disparaging’ books,” wrote the team’s attorneys, led by Lisa Blatt and Robert Raskopf.

Maury Lane, a spokesman for the team, said in a statement: “In fact, since 1870, over three million trademarks have been registered, and we have found none that have ever been cancelled for being disparaging. We believe that the government’s action tramples core principles of free speech and sets a dangerous precedent for other brands.”

The team is on its third attempt in the past 18 months to save its trademark registrations.
It lost the first round in mid-2014, when the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board declared in a 2-to-1 ruling that the name offends a substantial number of Native Americans and is therefore ineligible for federal trademark registration under the Lanham Act, which doesn’t permit such protection for names that “may disparage” or bring people into disrepute.

The appeal board had been petitioned by a group of five Native American activists, led by Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo Nation member and social worker.

The Redskins sued Blackhorse and the four other Native Americans in federal court in Alexandria to overturn the ruling. But the team lost that round in July, after U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee upheld the appeal board’s ruling.

Most notably, Lee said stripping the team of its federal trademark registrations doesn’t violate its First Amendment rights. He said such protections are a form of government speech carrying the government’s endorsement and are therefore exempt from First Amendment scrutiny.

The Redskins’ attorneys, in their opening brief before the appeals court, contested Lee’s argument.

“No one today thinks registration reflects government approval,” they wrote. “But if this Court holds that it does, how will the government explain registrations like Marijuana for Sale . . . [or] Licensed Serial Killer? . . . Does registration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unconstitutionally endorse religion?”

Attorneys for Blackhorse declined to comment. They are expected to file a response in court by mid-January.

The team is not arguing that the named businesses above should loss their trademark, but that if they can maintain trademark protection in the government's eyes, then the Redskins should as well. "We believe that the government’s action tramples core principles of free speech and sets a dangerous precedent for other brands," a spokesman for the Redskins' legal team said in a statement.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tool/Primus Headline Monster Mash in Tempe, Arizona

"Tool will temporarily step out of the studio to headline Tempe, Arizona’s Monster Mash festival on Halloween (October 31st). It marks Tool’s only confirmed performance of 2015 and return to the stage for the first time since embarking on a brief US tour in April 2014. The lineup for Monster Mash also features Primus and Coheed and Cambria."
Rolling Stone:
Tool's only scheduled tour date of 2015 – a headlining set at Tempe, Arizona's Monster Mash – happened to fall on Halloween, so the dormant group celebrated the occasion by resurrecting their cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" onstage for the first time since 1998. Not only did the Lateralus crew dust off the Houses of the Holy classic, the group did it in full costume as Maynard James Keenan performed the song as Robert Plant, with the rest of Tool similarly donning Zeppelin-era clothing, Stereogum reports.

Tool's Monster Mash gig marked the first show by the full band since March 2014 – the members of Tool did reconvene sans Keenan Friday night for a VIP warm-up gig in Tempe – and the only concert the group has planned for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, Keenan will tour in support of Puscifer's new LP Money Shot, work on his upcoming authorized biography and possibly work on Tool's first album since 2006's 10,000 Days.

"They're working hard in their own way; I'm working hard in my own way, and I've got nothin' for ya," Keenan told Rolling Stone of his band mates' progress on the new Tool album.

AZ Central:
At Tempe Town Lake, the most popular costume of the night appeared to be that of "diehard Tool fan," a point the long line at the Tool merch booth drove home. The Tool sweatshirts and hoodies were sold out even before the anticipated evening temperature drop.

Which was a boon to With Our Arms to the Sun, the local band which shares management with Tool and opened the show. They had some cozy autumnal overgarments left even after their scorching, well-received afternoon set. You've got to give a band props for successfully conveying what they classify as "cinematic experimental music from the desert" in the harsh light of day.

ÆGES never spared the hooks throughout its energizing set which included a new song "Another Wasteland" which Winters claimed was "The first time we ever played that song, in front of 25,000 people." At the merch booth, Josh Breckenridge, frontman for With Our Arms to the Sun, told me there were 30,000 tickets sold for the Saturday show.

Coheed and Cambria's latest material is a complete 180 from the usual prog-rock concept album discography we're used to hearing from Claudio Sanchez and company. The band's new album is (gulp) a non-concept album with nothing to do with Sanchez' continuing Armory Wars storyline, making their set a most schizoid affair, as if you had selections from Rush's "2112" and Queen's "News of the World" on the same mixtape.

When Primus took to the stage with two giant lit-up mushrooms bookending the band, you could still see the stage somewhat. It was then that a lot of the new arrivals had to make an executive decision. Do we stand where we can hear the vocals clearly but can't see anything or sit in the Food Court where you could see the videos clearly but the vocals were only heard from a distance. Since most of Les Claypool's vocals are a mumble anyway, the Food Court seemed the safer bet.

It's undeniable that Claypool wrenches sounds out of a bass that no other homo sapien does (and admittedly, most bass players don't have a bass with a whammy bar to facilitate such experimentation). He's a master technician who has influenced everyone from the kid down the street practicing in his parents' basement to the guy that does the poppin' breaks on every Seinfeld episode. A little Primus goes a long way for most non-musos and as far as watching a craftsman playing a bowed stick bass that looks like a giant toothbrush from far away, you might as well be watching a carpenter sand down a table. And if that carpenter is wearing a Mr. Krinkle pig mask and playing something else in the background, no contest.

By the time Tool took the stage at 10 p.m., you were lucky to find a patch of grass on a hill where you could see a portion of the pentagram that hung above the stage. Tool fans went nuts when they played Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" for the first time since 1998, with Maynard James Keenan allegedly dressed like Robert Plant. I say allegedly because the video feed which allowed us to see every inch of Les Claypool's face earlier was turned off and only offered computer graphics later on.

"Does anyone remember Napster?" our faux Plant exclaimed. After completing this classic rock staple, Maynard said, "Thank you good night!" and three minutes of bass feedback followed.

People on the grassy knoll behind the closed water-slide section were concerned. Was this Maynard's way of getting back at Tool fans who took things too seriously, as his recent New Times cover story claimed? Admittedly doing one song and vacating the premises would've been the greatest Halloween trick of all time but he came back to give us the good and bad news.

"The good news... is it's fucking Halloween. The bad news is... we are not Led Zeppelin."

If Tool fans also lack a sense of humor, as demonstrated by their purported intolerance of Puscifer, Keenan wasn't going to let it ruin his good time.

"When you play shows for tens and thousands of years, it's always exciting when someone really famous shows up," he said, getting everyone's hopes up until he name-checked some dude dressed as The Caped Crusader up front. "It's a real honor, Batman. I'm a great admirer of your work," he said.

The biggest cheers of the night came when Keenan sang "Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona Bay" during his Bill Hicks tribute "Ænema."

Consequence of Sound:
In anticipation of Tool’s performance at Monster Mash, frontman Maynard James Keenan spoke with David Accomazzo of the Phoenix New Times. Understandably many of the questions posed to him were about his three-time Grammy Award-winning rock band. “But as with any time he’s asked about Tool, his answers quickly become curt,” Accomazzo notes, “A hint of exasperation creeps into his voice and he exhales heavily through his nose.”

Asked about the humor found in Tool’s albums, Keenan responded, “Yeah, it’s there, but people miss it because they’re so focused on the other bullshit.” He added, “It’s lost. Insufferable people … It’s just ridiculous, retards. I’m sorry. Can’t help them. Way too serious. Too much. Lighten up.”

In the interview, Keenan also admitted that the rest of the band “had to con me into” playing the Monster Mash performance, and when it comes to Tool’s long-awaited new album, he replied simply, “There’s nothing to say. I can’t.”

Instead, Keenan appears focused solely on his other band, Puscifer, which is set to appear at Monster Mash, ironically enough. In the interview, he also spoke extensively about his burgeoning wine business.

Keenan has given a statement to Billboard magazine: "It is unfortunate that during an interview about Puscifer's Friday release of Money Shot, a comment I made, in the context of a much lengthier discussion about obsessive fanatics, was taken out of context by a few “news” outlets so they could drive up their own readership. It's called clickbait and it's boring. Our core fanbase aren't fanatics. They're music lovers, artists and good people. It's the fanatics that are insufferable."

More information:
» Setlist: Monster Mash at Tempe Beach Park
» Phoenix New Times: "Tool Fans Will Just Have to Wait"

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Frank Beamer Announces Retirement at End of 2015 Season

Hokie Sports:
BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer announced Sunday his intention to retire upon the conclusion of the 2015 season. Beamer informed Virginia Tech officials, his players and coaches today.

“I have always said that ‘I want what is best for Virginia Tech,’” Beamer said. “Because of my love and passion for this great university, this program and our tremendous fans, I have decided after 29 years that it’s time. Today, I informed Dr. Timothy Sands and Whit Babcock of my decision to retire at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

“I was going to wait until the end of the season to make this announcement, but I’ve always believed in being open and honest with my players and coaches. I know Hokie Nation will continue to give our players and our coaches their full support in these last three games, and hopefully through a bowl game. I will be forever grateful to everyone who made these past three decades the best years of my life. It’s an emotional day for me and my family. I am so honored and humbled to have served as your head coach.

“I will speak about my retirement at my regular press conference tomorrow, and after that, my sole and absolute focus will return to coaching these players as best as I can and encouraging our coaches and staff who I care for so deeply.”

Beamer owns a 277-143-4 (.656) career head coaching record in 35 seasons, including a 235-120-2 (.661) mark during his 29 years at Virginia Tech. His 277 career wins are the most of any active FBS coach and are sixth all-time in the FBS. But perhaps two of his most notable accomplishments are the fact that 100 percent of his senior football student-athletes have graduated dating back to 2012 and that 25 different sets of brothers have played for him at Virginia Tech.

A 1969 graduate of Virginia Tech, Beamer was a three-year starting cornerback for the Hokies and was a member of the school’s 1966 and 1968 Liberty Bowl squads. After taking over as the Hokies’ head coach in 1987, he built the football program at his alma mater into a national power. He has guided the Hokies to 22 consecutive bowl games, the longest active streak recognized by the NCAA. A former defensive back for Virginia Tech, Beamer’s No. 25 jersey was retired by the school in 2002. On Aug. 6, 2015 the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors officially renamed Spring Road in front of Lane Stadium as “Beamer Way.”

“Coach Beamer contacted me earlier today with his decision to retire following this season,” Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock stated. “Coach will always remain one of the most beloved figures in college football history. He’s a future Hall-of-Famer, an educator and a role model. His contributions to Virginia Tech and the game of football - both on and off of the field – are unquestionable and beyond measure.

“It’s been an unbelievable honor and privilege for me to work with the winningest active coach in college football for the past two years. Like the hundreds of players and the thousands of lives he has touched and impacted in such a positive and profound manner over his life and career, he has positively impacted mine as well and I am a better athletic director for it.

“He coached the game the right way and no one coached it better, no one. You cannot ‘replace’ Coach Beamer. What an amazing run it was over the past 29 years! He will be missed on the sideline, but he and Cheryl will always be part of the Virginia Tech family.

“Moving forward, first and foremost, we will focus our efforts on supporting Coach, his staff, and most importantly our students who play football, in order to finish this season on a high note. I’m confident the Hokie Nation will rally around them and do the same. Coach will lead our program through the remainder of the season and hopefully in a bowl game for the 23rd consecutive year.

“Today is about Coach Beamer and celebrating all that he and his staff have meant to Virginia Tech. Once the regular season is completed, I will speak about our search and finding the next great leader for our program. That is for another time. Today is both a sad and proud day for the Hokie Family. We will stay strong, together.”

Beamer’s legacy as one of the game’s most influential coaches will be marked by consistently stellar special teams play and exceptional defense. The Hokies have blocked 136 kicks (67 punts, 41 field goals and 28 PATs) during his tenure. Dating back to 1996, no Power Five program has registered more sacks (740.0) or interceptions (335). Since the start of the 1995 season, Ohio State (15) is the only Power Five program that has produced more seasons with 10 or more victories than Virginia Tech (13). A total of 93 Virginia Tech players under his tenure have been drafted by the National Football League, while numerous others have signed NFL free agent contracts.

Beamer guided the Hokies to four ACC titles (2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010), five ACC Coastal Division crowns, three BIG EAST Conference titles, two “major” bowl victories, six BCS appearances and a trip to the 1999 national championship game. Tech won the BIG EAST title in 1995 and 1999, and shared it in 1996. The Hillsville, Virginia, product was voted BIG EAST Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches each of those seasons and was tabbed the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in both 2004 and 2005. Following the 1999 season, he earned eight national coach of the year honors.

“Over the past three decades, Virginia Tech and Coach Beamer have transformed the university and the football program together and have created a legacy on which we will continue to grow,” said Virginia Tech President Dr. Timothy Sands. “Coach Beamer built our football program into a consistent winner through continuous innovation, a relentless work ethic and a commitment to integrity, while Virginia Tech was becoming a major research university with global reach.”

“Virginia Tech and our football team share these values,” Dr. Sands continued. “The spirit of ‘Ut Prosim’ (That I May Serve) and the strong community we call Hokie Nation have created a special bond between our university and its football team, a result that would not have been possible without Coach Beamer’s leadership through his words, but most importantly, through his integrity and actions.

“Laura and I want to thank Frank and Cheryl Beamer for their many contributions and we look forward to celebrating the indelible contributions of these remarkable Hokies.”

Beamer’s illustrious coaching career began as an assistant at Radford High School from 1969 through 1971. Then, after one season as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland, he went to The Citadel where he worked five seasons under Bobby Ross and one year under Art Baker. His last two years at The Citadel, Beamer was the defensive coordinator. In 1979, he went to Murray State as the defensive coordinator under Mike Gottfried. He was named head coach at MSU in 1981 and went on to compile a six-year record of 42-23-2.

He is married to the former Cheryl Oakley of Richmond, Virginia. They have two children, Shane, a former member of his father’s football team at Virginia Tech and now the associate head coach/running backs coach at Virginia Tech; and daughter Casey, a 2003 graduate of Tech. He has four grandchildren, Sutton, Olivia and Hunter, children of Shane and his wife, Emily. Casey, who married former Virginia Tech wrestler Canaan Prater in 2012, had her first son, Hudson, in February.

Beamer was born in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, and grew up in Hillsville, Virginia. At Hillsville High, he earned 11 varsity letters as a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball.

Sports Illustrated:
So what’s next? Beamer has made Tech a high-level job, and the university won’t lack for interest. Rumors have been flying about Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez for months, primarily because of his previous connection to Tech athletic director Whit Babcock. But no one really knows for sure who will be calling the shots next season.

The only thing we know is it won’t be Frank Beamer for the first time since 1987. Hite hopes Beamer is able to end his career with his bowl streak alive. The Hokies have games left against Georgia Tech, North Carolina and arch-rival Virginia. Beamer and Tech have won 11 straight against the Cavaliers.

“I know the guys who played for him, they want to make sure this group takes him out the right way,” Hite said. “They want to see him win these last three games. I think our team will fight their asses off to get him out of here a winner.”