Palka revisits Ohio roots for new book and album – Youngstown Vindicator

Published: Thu, July 21, 2016 @ 12:05 a.m.


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After several years of work, another burst of creativity from Matt Palka has arrived.

Palka is a Toledo-area native, but Youngstown has always been his muse. He has lived here on and off in the past, and it’s always where he comes to create – even though he now resides in Los Angeles.

Palka’s latest output is a novel titled “Baseball Clubbies” and a CD (“Stealing Home”) that serves as its soundtrack, and also a couple of videos (find “Stealing Home” on YouTube). The book and CD (also available in vinyl) are being released today at

They say that life imitates art, but in the case of Palka, life IS art.

The author/musician/filmmaker’s projects are always based on his travels and experiences.

“Clubbies” is no exception. The novel is a fictionalized account of Palka’s five years as a clubhouse manager for the Toledo Mudhens professional baseball team.

The author’s “life as art” ethos began years ago. He was at a crossroads in life after graduating from Ohio University and decided the best course of action was to bicycle across the country, from Ohio to California. The trip became fodder for his first novel, “Moment in the Sun: The Life of Riley.”

“I learned from that bike trip to make your life the highest work of art,” said Palka.

The new project marked the fourth time Palka has returned to the city to record an album or film a movie or video.

“Clubbies” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the daily operation of a minor-league baseball team. What sets it apart from other baseball books is that it’s from the point of view of an outsider who happens to be very much on the inside: a clubhouse worker – not a player or manager – who does everything from washing uniforms to cooking the team’s post-game dinner.

The lead character, Riley Holiday, is a hippie in jock culture. But like the players he looks out for, he is also trying to make it to the Big Leagues – albeit in music. To get there, he occasionally must cross the line of ethics to make an extra buck during one hazy summer of hustling, partying and shooting for his dream.

Palka plans to write the final novel in his “Life of Riley” trilogy in the future.

He has already written, starred in and produced one movie: “VW Bus Tour: Americana Bohemia” (2012). Like his first novel, it also was accompanied by an album of original music, recorded in Youngstown.

“VW Bus Tour” chronicles Palka’s cross-country gypsy-style ramblings in his signature vehicle.

Why does Palka keep coming back to Youngstown to create and record? It seems to suit him to a T.

“The artistic community here is edgy and funky,” he said over a cup of coffee at a downtown Youngstown eatery. “Plus, I love the pizza here.”

On deck for Palka is another film that he wrote, directed and stars in.

Shot in Youngstown in 2013 by local filmmaker Chris Rutushin, it’s titled “Saturday Scout Club” and is set for a 2017 release.

As always, the story is based on Palka’s life.

“A Hollywood actress meets a rambling musician at a show in Youngstown, and a bond is formed,” he said, describing the plot. “But they only have 24 hours.”

The city of Youngstown itself plays a key role in the film, which includes a lot of scenes shot at Cedars West End rock ’n’ roll club on the West Side. Several local musicians play “versions of themselves” in the film, said Palka.

White Sands by Geoff Dyer review – travel and the meaning of life – The Guardian

On his website, Geoff Dyer writes that his new book was nearly called Where Do We Come From, What Are We, Where Are We Going, a translation of an inscription scratched into the top corner of one of Paul Gauguin’s famous Tahitian paintings. Although this borrowed title may have been too long in an industry where hashtag-ability is now a concern, in truth it captures the book’s scope and ambition perfectly.

As well as being a sharp and evocative collection of travel essays that takes the reader to such locations as China, New Mexico, Svalbard and Los Angeles, and various landscapes of Dyer’s memory, White Sands is an examination of some of the fundamental questions of life. It begins with a chapter that bears a shortened version of the Gauguin painting’s title: “Where, What, Where”. In it Dyer recounts a trip to French Polynesia in pursuit of the ghost of the great artist, but visions of an unblemished idyll quickly give way to a grotty reality check, and to reflections on the slick and sickly commodification of place.

Encountering obese locals junked out on sugar, astronomically expensive restaurants and non-existent cultural centres, he tells a fellow tourist: “We are not in Polynesia at all. We are in a casino in Vegas called the Tahiti or the Bounty.” Later he admits being “embarrassed to be in this once-natural paradise … cosmetically improved in order to look perfectly natural.” It is far from the raw Garden of Eden Gauguin was projecting in the late 19th-century when he appropriated the island’s (very) young native beauties, lush jungle, rich exoticism and almost abstract light to peddle his grand, allegorical “truth-through-primitivism” sermons in oils. Then again, as Dyer points out, much of this was myth and construct even then. Tahiti was far from an untouched paradise, least of all by Gauguin, a “syphilitic old lech whose legs were covered in weeping eczema”.

After a sojourn to France, Gauguin returned to Tahiti but complained bitterly about how developed and “un-savage” it had become. He moved on – in protest – to an even remoter outcrop: Hiva Oa. Elsewhere. The escape over the horizon. The endless search down the road. For what, though? Dyer follows in his footsteps to find out and is once again disappointed, dogged by the overwhelming nothing-to-do-ness of so-called paradise islands converted into dream resorts, and the incessant wait for transfers and boats and planes. Then all the frustration leads to an epiphany: “In a sense that is what we’re here for: to wait. We are here to be bored rigid and then wonder how it was possible to be so bored … to feel what we have felt before, albeit only fleetingly: that we are glad we came … We are here to go somewhere else.”

This revelation establishes the tone and trajectory for the author’s playful yet profound explorations of what it is to travel and – by extension – live. Thoughts and cultural reflections are subtly woven throughout the fabric of 10 short essays that describe both staggering highs and desperate lows, where hours of dullness and disappointment are as common as fleeting moments of elation and wonder.

As explained in a note at the beginning, the book is “a mixture of fiction and non-fiction” and this denial of any strict requirement for reality allows Dyer’s stories to really flex and flow. Arriving grumpy and jetlagged in Beijing’s Forbidden City (he describes it as “the size of Cheltenham”), he encounters a woman who may or may not be a tour guide, and becomes utterly transfixed. As they meet up at a party later and flirt – Dyer is a married man – the notion of this “forbidden city” shifts into something different and more novelistic, far more thrilling to him, and alive. “With a little contrivance I could whisper to her ‘Can I come home with you?’ … It was premature to propose such a thing and, at the same time, almost too late.”

Throughout the book, an attentiveness and eye for capturing human detail balances Dyer’s more self-indulgent forays into niche areas such as obscure jazz or the American exile of the philosopher and writer Theodor Adorno, whose house Dyer visits in “Pilgrimage”. At times there is a jazz-like rhythm and construction to his writing; sections are Kerouacian in places, Sebaldian in others; essays establish themes before freeflowing off into other tangential melodies, then returning and unifying all into satisfying resolves. It is a style which echoes that of another great British essayist, Kathleen Jamie.

As a companion on the road, Dyer is surprising, dry, adventurous, lucid, laconic, open to anything and – thanks to a rich cultural knowledge – the type of person who instinctively stitches moments into greater meaning. Seen through the right theoretical or critical filter, even the disappointment of an anticlimactic trip to see the northern lights rewards the reader with a new perspective. And despite a seemingly permanent disposition towards being underwhelmed, he is capable of being extremely self-deprecating and funny.

In the “White Sands” chapter, the location Dyer and his wife Rebecca visit – a blinding desert of gypsum and calcium sulphate in New Mexico – is little more than an aside. As happens in travelling, it is a backdrop for a moment that proves far more memorable. The real story involves picking up a hitchhiker just before passing a sign warning against doing exactly that because there are “DETENTION CENTRES IN THE AREA”. It is a sign Dyer, his wife and their new passenger all read simultaneously, which leads to an ominous silence and a tense conversation, before the couple make a tyre-screeching escape as their oblivious hitcher uses a restroom in a gas station.

Walter De Maria’s
The Lightning Field (1977), which Dyer visited. Photograph: John Cliett

Inspiring and informing almost all of the book’s journeys is Dyer’s obsession with, and considerable knowledge of, art. He visits Walter De Maria’s giant landscape installation The Lightning Field in Catron County, New Mexico; likewise Robert Smithson’s often submerged Spiral Jetty in Great Salt Lake and Simon Rodia’s strange, naive and beautiful towers in Watts, LA. At the root of these pilgrimages seems to be a quest to understand permanence and transience. He seeks to scrutinise and explore what vanishes and what remains. And for a man now in middle age, it is clear these aren’t merely objective considerations.

This becomes doubly resonant in the final essay, ironically entitled “Beginnings”. After moving to California with his wife and starting anew, Dyer’s life changes unexpectedly. While putting some rubbish in a bin his vision alters, the world skews and later an MRI confirms the worst: a stroke, at the age of 55. Cue another adventure, this time into himself, via CAT scans and specialists. The precise nature and cause of the stroke prove elusive, however. “So we kept chasing – smoking it out as if it were Bin Laden in the Tora Bora caves,” he writes, before they all give up. “Shit happens, even in the brain.”

He is soon back to normal, but the experience has undoubtedly changed him. “Life is so interesting I’d like to stick around forever to see what happens, how it all turns out,” he writes.

We may be here to “go elsewhere”, but there are times when we are just grateful to be where we are.

Rob Cowen’s Common Ground (Windmill) has been shortlisted for the Wainwright prize. To order White Sands for £15.19 (RRP £16.99) go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

When Kids Can't Dream – Huffington Post

I have so much to be grateful for. So much! I want to show my gratitude by inspiring you to dream the biggest dream you possibly can, and then work for it.

A really big part of our energy and success lies in our ability to dream. There’s a great line in the movie Grey Owl starring Pierce Brosnan, where the Ojibwe elders tell Archie Grey Owl, “A man becomes what he dreams. You have dreamed well.”

When moms and dads at the ballpark would ask me for advice, I always told them to help their kids dream, and dream big. That’s what I did as a kid. I didn’t know if I could be a professional ballplayer! But I dreamed about it anyway. You see, back then I could dream any dream I liked! I had no idea what a privilege that is. It’s not the same for every kid.

Some of the kids that we rescue from slavery have awesome talents. But those talents have been squandered by the people that were slaving them out. These kids never enjoyed the chance to use their talents or challenge themselves. They didn’t dare to dream, not even small dreams.

Imagine not being able to dream at all! It’s shocking! Instead of dreaming and telling their parents, “Some day I’m going to…,” these kids were saying, “I just want to wake up one day, and not be a slave. I just want to wake up one day, and know that I’m not chained to the floor, that someone won’t come take the chains off just to tell me to go have sex with some guy.”

Think of the children out there who never dream for anything more than release, maybe even death. They are tired. “I’m tired of going in these fields and working hard. Every day I work. I don’t play. I don’t go to school. I don’t see my mother. At the end, I get hooked to the floor in a dark room, and I get a thing of bread thrown in front of me as my food.” Kids. This is happening to kids.

That’s why we have to dream as big as we possibly can. It’s through our dreams and determination that we can rescue these kids from slavery and restore them to their talents and their dreams. These kids are suffering and I promise you that Jesus is with them, waiting for you and everyone else to come and love these kids just the way He did: by saving their lives.

Everyone can help, no matter how old they are.

Jeremy Affeldt, pitcher for the three-time Baseball World Champion San Francisco Giants and Major League Pitcher for 14 years, retired from playing baseball in 2015. His streak of 22 consecutive scoreless appearances in the post season trails Mariano Rivera’s mark by only one. He is an all-time leader in postseason ERA, with a minimum of 30 innings, with an 0.86.

Jeremy is a public speaker, humanitarian, philanthropist, author, and co-founder of Generation Alive. He works to end human trafficking, feed the hungry and end poverty. He is the author of To Stir A Movement, Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball. His second book is expected to be released in 2016. Follow him on twitter, Instagram and Facebook @JeremyAffeldt.

Dream spoil Sparks' shot at historic start to season – Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Sparks were on the verge of history on Sunday. Instead, the Dream closed the book on their remarkable run.

Atlanta took care of Los Angeles 91-74 to snap the Dream’s two-game losing skid. The win also prevented the Sparks from moving their record to 21-1, which would have set a WNBA record for the best start to a season.

“This was a good win for us,” Dream coach Michael Cooper said. “To beat this team, which was playing some great basketball, might jumpstart us into something special.”

Hyosub Shin

June 22, 2016 Atlanta – Atlanta Dream guard Angel McCoughtry (35) and New York Liberty guard Sugar Rodgers (14) go for a loose ball in Atlanta Dream 90 – 79 loss to the New York Liberty after two extra periods at Philips Arena on Wednesday, June 22, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / [email protected]

The Dream (12-11) handled the Sparks (20-2) due in part to Atlanta’s ability to spread the ball around. Nine Dream players scored in the game, with four recording double-digit points.

Angel McCoughtry and Layshia Clarendon were chief among them. They each ended the game with a team-high 17 points.

“We just wanted it,” McCoughtry said. “I told the team this was the game that could be the turnaround for our season. If we can beat them, we can beat anybody in this league. I hope the girls take this win and build their confidence so we can contend in this league and do some damage.”

The game was Atlanta’s first test without forward Sancho Lyttle, who broke a bone in her right foot on Friday. Despite the 6-foot-4 veteran’s absence, the team still outrebounded Los Angeles 42-34 in what was the Dream’s seventh straight win against the Sparks at home.

Rookie Bria Holmes had the challenge of replacing Lyttle but didn’t hesitate in the moment. The team’s first round pick in this year’s draft showed no hesitation, as she tied her career high with 15 points in the victory.

“I just let the game come to me,” Holmes said. “I let my defense create my offense. I went out there and tried to relax.”

It seemed like it would be a matter of time before Los Angeles closed the gap on Atlanta, but it never happened.

The Dream controlled the tempo for most of the 40 minutes of play and never surrendered a lead they grabbed with 19 seconds left in the first quarter. The Sparks’ time ahead was brief and fleeting, as their largest lead was only five points.

Cooper warned his squad about the chance Los Angeles could mount a comeback, mainly because he had seen it happen before. Atlanta hung neck and neck with Minnesota on June 10 before suffering one of the largest losses in franchise history. The Dream had an 18-point lead against the Wings on July 8 that evaporated, forcing the two teams to go to overtime.

There was no relapse this time around for Atlanta. The players had a chance to celebrate winning one of their last games before the break for the Summer Olympics.

So did Cooper, who knows the Sparks’ roster well from the three years he spent as the team’s head coach.

“This wasn’t a blowout,” Cooper said. “This was an ass-kicking.”

Book review: Daughters struggle with love while Mom plans dream wedding in 'Daughters of the Bride' –

Posted: Saturday, July 16, 2016 11:00 pm

Book review: Daughters struggle with love while Mom plans dream wedding in ‘Daughters of the Bride’


This is the second book I’ve read by Susan Mallery and both have taken the same approach, format-wise; three different women, who are either friends or relatives, tell their stories via an omniscient third-person narrator. It’s unusual, but it really works.

In this story, the daughters of a widow are trying to manage their own love lives while their mother plans her dream wedding. Courtney is the tallest, yet youngest, sibling, who struggled academically in the past but holds onto a secret that nearly destroys everything before the wedding. Sienna, the beautiful one, is very successful in her professional life but struggles with personal relationships. And, finally, Rachel is a divorced mother who suffers from a bad back and also can’t seem to figure out what’s going on with her ex-husband.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016 11:00 pm.







In shadow of Cape Canaveral, down-to-earth stories –

In the title story of Patrick Ryan’s “The Dream Life of Astronauts,” an almost-astronaut (the mission was canceled) gives a sparsely attended talk at a public library. A woman in the audience raises her hand to ask a question, but instead uses her chance to point out to the speaker, “God made the Earth for people to live on, not leave.”

The nine funny and sharply observed stories that make up this collection, all set around Cape Canaveral from the 1960s to the present, are about the people who stayed on Earth while the space program made history in their backyards.

Though there’s little interaction with NASA (in “Go Fever” engineers deal with the psychological fall out from their culpability in the Challenger explosion), “The Dream Life of Astronauts” offers plenty of otherworldly moments. Ryan’s characters are witty, strange and immersed in escapist fantasies — not the level of escape going to the Moon offers, but the kind of escape you might find when you imagine winning the Miss America pageant or pretend to be French. In each story, a desire for reinvention and romance scrapes against the disappointment of reality. Ryan’s characters are forced to find a compromise between the fantastical and the unavoidable.

The first half of “The Dream Life of Astronauts” inhabits the perspectives of children. A 9-year-old boy becomes close with his hippie uncle as his parents deteriorate in alcohol abuse and vicious fights. Teenage Frankie falls in love with an astronaut-turned-real estate agent while his mother eats ice cream in bed and his sister wraps her hair in mayonnaise and cellophane. A pregnant high schooler, her mother grieving her failed marriage with copious desserts and self-pity, finds herself drinking from a Slurpee cup with a sketchy talent scout. The world Ryan’s children inhabit is lawless and unsupervised, allowing them to pursue their quirky obsessions but with the threat of sexual violation and trauma ever-looming.

In the latter half, Ryan moves into Florida’s senior citizen condos and assisted-living facilities. Like his child protagonists, these seniors struggle against boredom and powerlessness, craving escape. A woman drops her granddaughter off at the sitter for a nervously anticipated rendezvous with her defensive-driving instructor. A 90-year-old antagonizes her nursing home roommate, who’s cutting up Playboys for collages, and trades her wedding ring for Weetabix. Characters who appeared in earlier stories return, no less feisty or eccentric with age.

It’s the collision of these two stages of life that bring the greatest pleasures in Ryan’s stories. In “Earth, Mostly,” perhaps the collection’s strongest story, Gail’s granddaughter Becca rails against the babysitter she’s just left, wailing “Everyone’s awful!” through mouthfuls of fruit leather.

Her grandmother, fresh from the disappointment of a bad date, is first angry for the child’s petulance and selfishness, then reconsiders. Wrapping Becca in her arms, Gail cries with her. “You’re absolutely right!”

Though there are weaker stories in the middle of the book, throughout the collection there’s a tenderness and attentiveness in Ryan’s stories, each character rendered with vivid compassion. His dialogue is wonderfully observed: Becca who speaks in a French accent (“Moi stomage ez hurt avec poison”), Melissa’s mordant teenage wit and obsession with her weight (“There are people … who only want to get naked with fat human beings. I should find out if they have a club and join it”), Gail’s sarcasm and repeated exclamations of “Jesus on the Cross!”

Ryan has an eye for striking and quirky details that gives the book a rich texture, and allow him to fully inhabit the decades he’s writing in without easy kitsch: Frankie’s Admiral Ackbar and David Bowie T-shirts and how, in the clouds, he sees “seahorses pulling giant ice statues on sleds.” The booger bubble blooming from a child’s nose as he plays with Legos in the bathtub. The quizzes in teen magazines Hannah works through (“I was ‘tempestuous’ according to the quiz, but I didn’t know what ‘tempestuous’ meant”) and her dollhouses made out of saltine boxes.

“The Dream Life of Astronauts” is a collection of small and lovely surprises — a book brimming with humor, compassion, and heartbreaks. Ryan’s characters aren’t great American heroes, but the people around the television and in their backyards while the shuttles launch, looking up.

Kelsey Ronan is the Fiction Editor of River Styx.

“The Dream Life of Astronauts”

Stories by Patrick Ryan

Published by Random House, 272 pages, $26

Bill Gates says machines will outsmart humans in some areas within a decade – Daily Mail

Bill Gates has proclaimed the ‘AI dream is finally arriving’ – despite admitting it could be a major concern for the future of humanity.

‘The dream is finally arriving,’ Gates said, speaking with wife Melinda Gates on Wednesday at the Code Conference in Southern California. 

‘This is what it was all leading up to.’

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'The dream is finally arriving,' Gates said, speaking at the Code Conference in Southern California. 'This is what it was all leading up to.'

‘The dream is finally arriving,’ Gates said, speaking at the Code Conference in Southern California. ‘This is what it was all leading up to.’

Gates said enough progress has been made to ensure that in the next 10 years there will be robots to do tasks like driving and warehouse work as well as machines that can outpace humans in certain areas of knowledge, according to recode.

He also suggested a pair of books that people should read, including Nick Bostrom’s book on superintelligence and Pedro Domingos’ ‘The Master Algorithm.’

Previously he has warned the risk of artificial intelligence software becoming super smart is ‘way out in the future,’  

In the next 10 to 20 years, AI is going to be ‘extremely helpful’ in managing our lives, Gates told CNBC  in a ‘Squawk Box’ interview earlier this year.

Gates said what he called ‘alter-ego software’ is going to deal with day to day emails and other correspondence. 

‘It will look at all the new information and present to you, knowing about your interests, what would be most valuable,’ he predicted, saying Microsoft along with the Google unit Alphabet, Facebook and Apple are making great strides in artificial intelligence. 

In a separate claim while taking part in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) Q&A session on Reddit, Gates said he had doubts: ‘I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence.

‘First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. 

There are mounting fears among the public about the threat posed by artificial intelligence. A new survey has revealed that one in three people now believe the rise of AI computing will pose a serious threat to humanity. A stock image of The Terminator is pictured above

There are mounting fears among the public about the threat posed by artificial intelligence. A new survey has revealed that one in three people now believe the rise of AI computing will pose a serious threat to humanity. A stock image of The Terminator is pictured above

That should be positive if we manage it well.

‘A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. 

‘I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.’  

So it is perhaps not surprising there are now growing fears among the public about the threat posed by artificial intelligence.

A new survey has revealed that one in three people now believe the rise of AI computing will pose a serious threat to humanity within the next century.

More than 60 per cent fear that robots will lead to there being fewer jobs in the next ten years and 27 per cent predict that it will decrease the number of jobs ¿a lot¿ with previous research suggesting admin and service sector workers will be the hardest hit. An illustration of a human working with robots is shown above

More than 60 per cent fear that robots will lead to there being fewer jobs in the next ten years and 27 per cent predict that it will decrease the number of jobs ‘a lot’ with previous research suggesting admin and service sector workers will be the hardest hit. An illustration of a human working with robots is shown above

More than 60 per cent fear that robots will lead to there being fewer jobs in the next ten years.

And 27 per cent predict that it will decrease the number of jobs ‘a lot’ with previous research suggesting admin and service sector workers will be the hardest hit.

The survey of 2,000 people was conducted by YouGov on behalf of the British Science Association (BSA) to mark the start of British Science Week, which begins today.

A quarter of the respondants predicted robots will become part of everyday life in just 11 to 20 years, with 18 per cent predicting this will happen within the next decade. 

Just under half of those polled opposed the idea of robots or programming being equipped with emotions or a personality, meaning that pop culture favourite robots in films such as Wall-E or Ex Machina might prove unpopular in real life. 

Both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have been outspoken about their fears of artificially intelligent machines. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO (pictured) last year described AI as our 'biggest existential threat' and likened its development as 'summoning the demon'

Both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have been outspoken about their fears of artificially intelligent machines. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO (pictured) last year described AI as our ‘biggest existential threat’ and likened its development as ‘summoning the demon’


Claims made by an expert in artificial intelligence predict that in less than five years, office jobs will disappear completely to the point where machines will replace humans.

The idea that robots will one day be able to do all low-skilled jobs is not new, but Andrew Anderson from UK artificial intelligence company, Celaton, said the pace of advance is much faster than originally thought.

AI, for example, can carry out labour intensive clerical tasks quickly and automatically, while the latest models are also capable of making decisions traditionally made by humans.

‘The fact that a machine can not only carry out these tasks, but constantly learn how to do it better and faster, means clerical workers are no longer needed in the vast quantities they once were,’ Mr Anderson said.

For example, a machine can recognise duplicate insurance claims by knowing it has seen a phone number or an address before.

And the public is largely sceptical about whether machines will ever be trusted to take on roles where lives could be in danger.

The poll found that approximately half of those surveyed would not trust robotic surgeons, bus drivers or commercial aircraft pilots.

But they would be happy if intelligent machines could help around the house, with around half of those polled happy to let domestic bots cook and clean for older people.

A similar percentage would be comfortable with intelligent machines flying unmanned search and rescue or military aircraft, with 70 per cent eager for them to monitor crops.

‘It isn’t surprising that many people are apprehensive about the future when it comes to artificial intelligence,’ said Lord David Willetts, Chair of the British Science Association.

‘Innovation is often scary, but it is important to remember that the economy and the world is constantly changing and adapting: the rise of a new technology such as this is simply the newest invention that will take adjusting to and we are infinitely capable of that. 

‘What this research shows is that the public’s fears need to be listened to as we go on to innovate and trail-blaze in this area.’ 

Professor Hawking (pictured) has recently said it is a 'near certainty' that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years

Professor Hawking (pictured) has recently said it is a ‘near certainty’ that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years


Google has set up an ethics board to oversee its work in artificial intelligence.

The search giant has recently bought several robotics companies, along with Deep Mind, a British firm creating software that tries to help computers think like humans.

One of its founders warned artificial intelligence is ‘number one risk for this century,’ and believes it could play a part in human extinction.

‘Eventually, I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this,’ DeepMind’s Shane Legg said in a recent interview.

Among all forms of technology that could wipe out the human species, he singled out artificial intelligence, or AI, as the ‘number 1 risk for this century.’

The ethics board, revealed by web site The Information, is to ensure the projects are not abused.

Neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, 37, founded DeepMind two years ago with the aim of trying to help computers think like humans.

Both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have been outspoken about their fears of artificially intelligent machines.

The SpaceX and Tesla CEO last year described AI as our ‘biggest existential threat’ and likened its development as ‘summoning the demon.’

He believes super intelligent machines could use humans as pets.

Professor Hawking has recently said it is a ‘near certainty’ that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years.

The survey found that women fear the rise of AI machines more than men, with just 17 per cent of women claiming to feel optimistic about the technology, compared with 28 per cent of men. 

Some 13 per cent of men can imagine themselves becoming friends with a robot, compared to just six per cent of women. 

Lord Willets said: ‘People will always want human experiences – robots will not kill the radio star, and we will always want to interact with other people. 

‘In fact, the greater problem is that artificial intelligence cannot quickly enough fill jobs that are going spare.’

Young people, between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most open minded about a future filled with AI machines, with one in four envisaging having robotic so-workers and 10 per cent even open to welcoming them as family members. 

More than half of this age bracket – 55 per cent- also said that intelligent machines could take up the role of servants in a household.

Just under half of those polled opposed the idea of robots or programming being equipped with emotions or a personality, meaning that pop culture favourite robots in films such as Wall-E (pictured above) or Ex Machina might prove unpopular in real life

Just under half of those polled opposed the idea of robots or programming being equipped with emotions or a personality, meaning that pop culture favourite robots in films such as Wall-E (pictured above) or Ex Machina might prove unpopular in real life


It is a ‘near certainty’ that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years.

That’s according to physicist Stephen Hawking who claims science will likely bring about ‘new ways things can go wrong’ for human survival.

But the University of Cambridge professor added that a disaster on Earth will not spell the end of humanity – as long as humans find a way to spread out into space.

Hawking made the comments while recording the BBC’s annual Reith Lectures on January 7.

The lecture explore research into black holes, and his warning was made during questions fielded by audience members.

When asked how the world will end, Hawking said that increasingly, most of the threats humanity faces from progress in technology.

The scientist, who turned 74 last month, said these include nuclear war, catastrophic global warming and genetically engineered viruses.

11 Summer Must-Reads for Young Readers – The Root

Check out these books for young summer reading.
Check out these books for young summer reading. HarperCollins; HarperCollins; Simon and Schuster

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor. Taylor, one of the first African-American children’s-book authors to gain widespread acclaim, later won the Newbery Medal for the book. Her work was pivotal in empowering black children to see themselves in young adult literature—inspiring a modern generation of black writers to believe that our stories could have a place in the world of children’s literature.

“I am a writer because Ms. Taylor wrote this book and I saw myself inside the pages of it,” says writer Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award for her novel Brown Girl Dreaming.

Although children’s literature is still dominated by white authors and white narratives, much progress has been made in the 50 years since Taylor’s first book was published. Check out the rest of her stories featuring Cassie Logan and her family to enter into some of the most powerful writing for black young-adult readers. Then continue enjoying Taylor’s legacy with this list of 11 books by black authors that have been already been published in the first half of 2016—just in time to build the perfect summer reading list for any young readers you may know.

  • 1. Booked, by Kwame Alexander


    This latest addition from the Newbery Medal-winning author of The Crossover is a novel-in-verse set in the world of soccer. This time our hero is 12-year-old Nick, who navigates the world of family, sports, school, friendship and first love with the help of a teammate and a friendly librarian. But most of all, it is the power of words—rhyming and rap music—that helps Nick come into his own and triumph through the pain of his parents’ divorce. A powerful read bursting with energetic, lyrical prose.

  • peas and carrots

    This heartwarming story from the Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author is the story of two girls named Dess and Hope. Dess is the daughter of an absent, abusive father and addict mother. Hope is the treasured daughter of a well-to-do black family. But when Dess’ mother is arrested again and Hope’s parents decide to take in Dess as their foster child, the two girls are brought together to realize that they have more in common then they think.

  • 3. Shiny, Broken Pieces, by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

    shiny broken pieces

    The second book in this already popular Tiny Pretty Things series continues the high-stakes drama of Gigi, Bette and June’s foray into the world of ballet. As each dancer strives to be the best, she must deal with friendship, ambition and intrigue—and determine just how much she is willing to sacrifice to be the best and win the single spot available at the American Ballet Co.

  • tiny stitches

    This endearing picture book brings to life the true story of Vivien Thomas, who overcame racism and poverty to fulfill his lifelong dream of studying medicine—eventually developing the first open-heart-surgery procedure for use on children. An important story, simply and beautifully told.

  • yellow brick war

    Emmy-nominated screenwriter Danielle Paige gives us her third installment in her New York Times best-selling Dorothy Must Die series. Here, Amy Gumm has been swept to from Kansas to Oz by a tornado and tasked with one important job: She must kill Dorothy before Dorothy destroys Oz.

  • keep me in mind

    When Ellia Dawson wakes up in the hospital after a terrifying accident, she has no memory of Liam McPhearson, her boyfriend of the past two years. Instead, she feels much more comfortable with another patient in the hospital who is also recovering from trauma. As Liam tries to win Ellia back, she pulls further away. Will Ellia regain her memory and reunite with Liam? In this touching novel for high school readers, Jaime Reed explores questions of memory, selfhood and connections between people.

  • 7. Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

    two naomis

    When two very different girls, both named Naomi, discover that their parents have decided to date each other, they are pushed into getting to know each other by their parents. Although at first resistant, the two Naomis must find a way to navigate their new relationship and their new family. A compassionate, necessary tale about the real-life act of building a blended family.

  • as-brave-as-you-9781481415903_hr

    On a visit to their grandparents in Virginia, Brooklyn, N.Y., brothers Genie and Ernie decide to determine who is braver than the other. But nothing ever turns out exactly as planned. And as they discover that each of them has a different definition of bravery, the brothers must decide for themselves exactly what it means to be brave.

  • one more dino on the floor

    In this delightful picture book for the youngest readers, dinosaurs stomp, race and roar across the dance floor, teaching lessons in math, counting and reading. This dino dance party is a fun, educational read.

  • spirit week showdown

    Nine-year-old Mya Tibbs is ecstatic to enter the Spirit Week Competition with her best friend, Naomi Jackson. But when Mya is paired with the school bully instead, everything goes awry. Soon Naomi isn’t even speaking to Mya anymore. Can Mya get her best friend back and win the school festival? Here is a spunky heroine that elementary-age students will love.

  • to catch a cheat

    This highly entertaining sequel to The Great Greene Heist finds Jackson Greene and his friends framed for a crime they didn’t commit. And the real criminals are trying to blackmail Jackson as well. Never one to back down, Jackson devises a plan to clear his name and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Did the Devil Really Write This Bible? – Daily Beast

What is the secret to the longevity and brilliance of the largest surviving medieval manuscript? Lucifer himself is said to have made it.

We have all heard that the Bible is the Word of God—but what if it were actually the work of Satan? Sure, there are various heretical groups throughout history that have thought that parts of the Bible were false, but in the case of the world’s largest surviving medieval manuscript some believe that Satan himself is the book’s scribe.

While the technical name for the manuscript is Codex Gigas (literally “giant book” in Latin), it is better known as the ‘Devil’s Bible.’ It is currently housed in the National Library in Stockholm, but it was created in the twelfth century in Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic), possibly at the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice. It was transported to Sweden as part of the booty seized at the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ war in 1648. It would have taken two men to steal it, as the book is around a meter tall and weighs almost 165 pounds.

It’s not just the scale of the book that make it unusual, but also its contents. In addition to the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible), it contains a copy of the Jewish historian Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities, Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies, ancient medical texts, and a copy of The Chronicle of Bohemia by Cosmas of Prague (1050). Ten pages are missing, however, and as all of the works contained in the codex are complete, there’s some speculation about what they contained. Some say they held a transcription of a prayer to Satan, while scholars—the spoilsports—hypothesize they held the rules of the monastic community from which the book originated.

It is known as the Devil’s Bible for two reasons. The first is apparent to anyone who visits it: the recto of folio 290 (that’s the reverse side of the 290th leaf in the book) is blank except for a large half-meter tall illustration of the devil. The Devil is pictured with a green face, talons, and horns, crouching in a squat, almost as if he were in a yoga pose.

The second reason for its name is due to the story of its composition. According to legend, the enormous book was the work of a single monk who had been sentenced to death by inclusion (being walled up alive). In an effort to delay or forestall his execution, the monk promised to produce in a single night a manuscript that would bring glory to the monastery. The task, it is said, was too enormous, and he turned to Satan for help. The Devil completed the manuscript, presumably in exchange for the monk’s soul, and out of gratitude to Satan the monk added the large illustration of the Prince of Darkness. The monk survived but became remorseful and turned to the Virgin Mary, asking her for help. The Virgin agreed, but just as he was on the verge of being freed from his pact, he died.

Legend has it that ill fortune befalls anyone who possesses the manuscript. A nineteenth-century collection of anecdotes tells a macabre version of Night at the Museum in which a porter at the national library where the book was housed was locked in for the night after falling asleep in the main reading room. When he woke up he saw the books moving around of their own accord and dancing. A large broken clock suddenly sprang back to life and started to chime the hours. In the morning the porter was found crouched under a table in terror and spent the rest of his days in an asylum.

Scientific testing of the book revealed that it does appear to be the work of a single scribe: the handwriting is remarkably consistent and uniform throughout. As you might expect, it’s unlikely to have been produced in a single night: a National Geographic study concluded that a single person working 24 hours a day (without the help of a malevolent demon) would take five years to complete it. Assuming that that person also ate and slept, it is estimated that it would take approximately 25-30 years to complete.

The origins of the story of the monk who sold his soul to the Devil are unknown, but it is remarkably similar to the medieval tale of Theophilus the Penitent. Theophilus was a sixth-century archdeacon who, with the help of a necromancer, made a pact with the devil that allowed him to become bishop. He later repented of his decision, beseeched the Virgin Mary for help, fasted for seventy-three days, and died (from joy, or perhaps starvation) once his contract with the Devil was burned.

The story was popular in medieval art from the eleventh century onward and served as the inspiration for the legend of Dr. Faustus. And it’s likely that the same thing has happened with the Devil’s Bible. The application of this legend to Codex Gigas is really a sign of how inspiring the book is: it is so remarkable that people imagined that it must have been made with supernatural help.

Satanic inspiration doesn’t stop here. There are numerous other pieces of art for which he is rumored to have served as a muse. While he has yet to receive a shout-out in an Academy Award speech, rumors of demonic influence often surround exceptional pieces of work. For example, in 1713 the composer Giuseppe Tartini told a friend that his Sonata in G minor was composed after a dream in which he made a pact with the devil. In the dream, he handed the Devil his violin and the Prince of Darkness began to play a haunting melody. Tartini awoke and recaptured the melody on his violin, dubbing it the Devil’s Trill. The Sonata was Tartini’s favorite, but he said that it was vastly inferior to the one he heard playing in his dream.

And depending who you ask, the devil still works in nefarious ways. Artists including Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Paul McCartney have had accusations of Satanism leveled at them. And just a few years ago, conspiracy theories swirled about power couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s relationship to Lucifer because amateur sleuths believed Blue Ivy’s name spelled backwards was Latin for Lucifer’s daughter.

Jo Pavey faces tough 10000m test to realise dream of five Olympics – The Guardian

Jo Pavey’s ambition to become the first British female athlete to run in five Olympics faces a make-or-break test on Saturday night at the Parliament Hill athletics track, London when she competes at the UK 10,000m trials. Pavey, who will be a month shy of her 43rd birthday when the Games begin in Rio, will be automatically selected if she finishes among the top two British athletes and runs the qualifying time of 32min 15sec by the end of July. And while she has not raced in 2016, the whispers are that she is showing strong form in training.

Pavey, who became an overnight sensation at the age of 40 when she won the European 10,000m title in Zurich two years ago, faces a tough test against two 24-year-olds, Kate Avery and Beth Potter, who have already achieved the Olympic qualifying mark. Even so, she is happy to be in the mix.

“I thought I would be retired by now so it is a bonus to still be thinking about competing,” she said recently. “Rio is a massive target, to try to make a fifth Olympics.”

In the men’s race Andy Vernon, who was controversially left out of the British team for last year’s world championships, is a strong favourite to book his place for Rio in the absence of Mo Farah, who will be given an automatic place. Kenenisa Bekele, the world 5,000m and 10,000m record holder, says Farah has a “big chance” to repeat his gold medal winning heroics in Rio but must attempt to break his world records to be considered the best middle-distance runner of all time.

“He has achieved a lot with Olympics and world championships but he needs to take the challenge of the clock to take my crown,” said Bekele, who thinks Farah would have a 50-50 chance of toppling his times if he committed himself to chasing records not medals.

When asked whether there would be something missing in Farah’s career if he did not break either the world 5,000m or 10,000m record, Bekele replied: “Of course. If someone is not beating those records, you have to limit him in the order of great runners. If he doesn’t have the capacity to do that, and if he doesn’t try, something will be missing.”

Meanwhile CJ Ujah says Britain’s 4x100m team are “all sweet” after their spectacular falling out at the world championships final in Beijing. Tempers flared after James Ellington was unable to get the baton to Ujah, which left Britain without a medal or a qualifying time for Rio, but Ujah said a series of training camps has mended fences and put the team in a good frame of mind before their first outing of the season at Loughborough on Sunday.

“Our recent practice in Italy was really good and positive,” Ujah said. “Everyone agreed it was our best camp, so hopefully we’ll put down a marker at Loughborough and see what happens. Our demons from Beijing are gone. We sat down and spoke in January, we’ve come back and we’re all settled now, it’s all sweet.”

Ujah also praised the young sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who missed the national record by 0.01sec as he became only the third Briton to run under 20sec for 200m. The 22-year-old ran 19.95sec representing Louisiana State University at the Southeastern Conference Championships in Alabama last week – just outside John Regis’s record of 19.94sec but ahead of Adam Gemili’s 19.98sec.

“Nethaneel’s an amazing guy,” Ujah said. “I think out of all the sprinters I probably know him best, because I went to the World Youths with him in 2011 and then I went to the European Juniors with him. I know he hasn’t had an easy road with injuries and other things setting him back, it’s good to see him come out and run what he’s capable of running. Hopefully he’ll come over to the UK trials in June and stamp his authority.”