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E.B.

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Hurricane Dorian hit The Bahamas hard last weekend killing at least seven people at last count.  The Prime Minister described the category five storm that stalled over the islands for more than 50 hours as the worst storm to ever hit his country.  Dramatic rescue efforts are underway due to massive flooding and destruction. As the hurricane finally moved westward passed the islands, toward the US, it was downgraded from a category five to a category three storm. Still a powerhouse, preparations for Dorian’s arrival are being made on the East coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in anticipation of a storm track that’s expected to bend northward as it approaches Florida.  Even the Orlando resorts, on Florida’s West coast, are closing down as is Orlando’s Airport.  The governors of Georgia and South Carolina have ordered over a million people to evacuate the coastal areas. Already 1.5 million people have fled for safety. In Florida, the evacuation orders are for low-lying areas, flood prone areas and mobile homes. Dorian will make a very long week for the American Southeast.

September is big video game release month – sports games, especially, release in time to take advantage of the beginning of the football, basketball and hockey seasons.  But there are many video games for every interest.  Here’s a quick list of what’s coming out this month.

September 3rd

  • Catherine: Full Body (PS4)
  • Children of Morta (PC)
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Last Oasis (PC)
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PC, Switch)
  • Torchlight II (PS4, Switch, Xbox One

September 6th

  • Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (PS4, Xbox One)
  • NBA 2K20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Stadia)

September 10th

  • Caravan Stories (PS4)
  • eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Gears 5 (Xbox One, PC) Note: Early release for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.
  • Greedfall
  • Utawarerumonou Zan (PS4)

September 13th

  • Borderlands 3 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Daemon X Machnina (Switch)
  • NHL 20 (PS4, Xbox One)

September 17th

  • AI: The Somnium Files (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Lego Jurassic World (Switch)

September 20th

  • The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
  • Untitled Goose Game (Switch, PC)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Switch)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (PS4, PC)

September 24th

  • Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear (PS4, Switch, Xbox One
  • Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Contra: Rogue Corps (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Planescape Torment: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • The Surge 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

September 25th

  • Mario Kart Tour (iOS, Android)

September 26th

  • Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch)
  • Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS4 – Japan only)

September 27th

  • Code Vein (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Switch)
  • FIFA 20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Memorrha (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mac)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Switch)
  • Tropico 6 (PS4, Xbox One)

Ariana Grande is suing fashion retailer Forever 21 for $10 million.  Her accusation is that Forever 21 has stolen Grande’s “name, likeness and other intellectual property.”   This comes after Forever 21 has tried to reach an endorsement deal with Grande, who deemed the deal not good enough. Grande also claims the company hired a look-alike model to wear sports clothes and accessories that appear just like those worn by Grande in her videos. A Forever 21 spokesperson said that the company will dispute the lawsuit, but because the company is still after an agreement with the pop star, they also added they’re huge supporters of her.




Actor Kristen Stewart (famous from the Twilight series) has faced pressure to hide her lesbian identity in order to advance her career. Stewart has said that after she broke up with co-star Robert Patterson, she wanted to focus on enjoying life rather than protecting it, an attitude that allowed her to be open about her sexuality despite concerns about career implications.

Stewart described her previous attitude as being old school, one focused on preserving one’s career, success and productivity to the detriment of happiness. A turning point may have come when someone in Hollywood asked her to not hold her girlfriend’s hand when going into a Marvel movie. What does this story tell us about the culture of Hollywood?  Perhaps, it’s reflects an ambivalent American culture on social tolerance.

Lot’s of tennis drama has unfolded at the US Open. This year it’s Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal’s defense of Novak Djokovic, who was booed by the crowd in his final match. Though Nadal and Djokovic have been tennis rivals, it was Nadal who came to Djokovic’s defense saying he’s “a super athlete” who doesn’t deserve to be booed.  Djokovic’s career is ending because of a shoulder injury he sustained while playing Stan Wawrinka at the US Open.

Nadal used the tremendous respect he has earned from US Open fans over the years to express his gentlemanly respect for a rival.

Novak Djokovic does not have the best of relationships with crowds. In the past he has sworn at a crowd and threatened to go after a spectator during a practice session. Although, Djokovic later claimed he was only going to hunt him down to buy him a drink. Djokovic is only the latest feisty tennis star. Russian tennis star, Daniil Medvedev is another current player with a dicey reputation and then there is beloved, but temperamental John McEnroe.  All of this brings to mind a single question, is tennis actually a bad boy sport?  Probably not.  Of all the players who have risen to tennis fame, only few have behavior as part of their story.

Recommendation systems – the systems that help services from Amazon to Netflix suggest things you would might like based on your past choices – have a bias problem that is largely because the data comes from users who put their biases into action when interacting with streaming technology. To combat it, more than a decade ago, Netflix announced The Netflix Prize to attract scientists and programmers to write predictive algorithms with the goal of making the company’s recommendation engine 10% more accurate.  The winning prize was $1 million. Team Belkor was the winner due to their inclusion of new factors that recognized a film’s popularity might change over time and that users have certain biases causing them to rate movies differently at different times. The frequency at which people rate movies was also added as a factor. Addressing bias issues to make recommendations better will continue to be a major goal for many in the tech world as it has since The Netflix Prize was awarded.




Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, including good things like stunning movies on Netflix. September will see several great movies leave the service. Here’s a quick list of five great films to check out before they disappear.

1. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The futuristic, dystopian crime film.




2. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

About an LA cop struggling with his loyalties when he encounters the world of street racing.




3. Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

A humorous, high-quality musical which follows a murderous London hair cutter.




4. The Dark Night (2008)

A Joker centered movie about Batman’s worst enemy.




5. Carol (2015)

Already classic drama about an aspiring photographer’s relationship with an older woman.

 




In a significant increase, Netflix has announced that it will release ten films in theaters this fall with the intention of competing for the Oscars. The service has made movies for the Oscars before including well respected films Beasts of No Nation in 2015, then Roma, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Mowgli in 2018.  The schedule for 2019 follows (First Date is Theatre Date, Second Date is Netflix Date):

  • The Launderette with Meryl Streep  – Sep 7  | Oct 18
  • Dolemite Is My Name with Eddie Murphy – Oct 4  | Oct 25
  • The King with Robert Pattinson – Oct 11 | Nov 1
  • Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman with Robert de Niro – Nov 1 | Nov 27
  • Earthquake Bird with Alicia Vikander –  Nov 1 | Nov 15
  • Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson – Nov 6 | Dec 6
  • Klaus -animated – Nov 8 |Nov 15
  • I Lost My Body – French animated – Nov 15 | Nov 29
  • Atlantics – French drama – Nov 15 | Nov 29
  • The Two Popes with Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce – Nov 27 | Dec 20

 

American Airlines has just launched facial recognition technology as an alternative to boarding passes. They are not the first to use the technology. According to the Washington Post, as of 2018, 14 airports were using facial recognition technology for the boarding process.

It’s being used by Lufthansa at Los Angles’ LAX, at Singapore’s Changi airport and London’s Heathrow. Lufthansa commented that it provided “faster and more convenient processes for guests to move through airport.”  While Heathrow Airport claimed that after its 2018 trial, it could be used to “reduce average passenger’s journey time by up to a third.”

American Airlines is using facial recognition as an option at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.  Passengers will still need a boarding pass and an ID to get through security. Currently the technology is only being used for international flights at Terminal D. The airline called the new service an “additional convenience during the departure process,” though if you still need your boarding pass and ID, how is that more convenient?

Beyond convenience, many people have expressed concerns about the technology’s potential for violation of privacy rights. American Airlines said that the photos of people’s faces won’t be saved, but that scanned images will be sent to US Customs and Border Protection. Alarm bells. Debates about the technology will continue as it further integrates into our lives.  Laws that limit potential abuses will be part of the debate

In the never ending search for kid-safe products, the Amazon Echo Dot Kids’ Edition seems to be one that’s carefully designed and surprisingly attractive. This model comes with parental controls, games and skills designed to encourage young imaginations to run wild, but with everything under control.

The $70 Echo Dot Kids Edition is the same device in all respects as the third-generation Echo Dot, but it includes an annual FreeTime subscription, Amazon Parental Service, thousands of audible books, hundreds of Alexa games and child-friendly skill-development tools, as well as Amazon Music without the advertising. The FreeTime package costs $36 for Prime members and $60 for non-members. Considering that the standard Echo Dot costs $50 before discounts, you get more for the money with the Kids Edition. Also, note the books and movies available through the FreeTime subscription can be accessed on an Amazon Fire, Kindle, iOS or Android device. The Echo Dot Kids Edition is guaranteed for two years compared to 90-days for the standard Echo Dot.  Good deal.