The man accused of plowing into a group of people at the South By Southwest festival has been charged. "A man suspected of drunken driving is charged with capital murder in the deaths of two people at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas." (Via NBC) KCEN reports police attempted to pull over 21-year-old Rashad Owens around 12:30 a.m. Thursday for not having his vehicle's headlights on, but Owens allegedly took off. (Via KCEN) ​"Police say Owens sped up as he drove through the crowd on Red River Street then got out of the car and ran." (Via KHOU) According to KSAT, the police affidavit states Owens admitted to seeing flashing lights in his rearview mirror, but he was scared to pull over because there are warrants out for his arrest and he did not want to go to jail. The Daily Texan reports Owens allegedly injured 23 people and killed two others, 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr and 27-year-old Jamie West. The police affidavit reads, ​"Victims were reported to have been flying everywhere as they were being struck by the Honda." According to KXAN, Owens was allegedly driving under the influence. "Police say Owens took a breath test and blew a .114. The legal limit in Texas is .08." The Austin American-Statesman reports this would not be Owens' first DUI. "Public records show Owens pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2011." According to KVUE, Owens' penalty is not yet clear. "A judge set Owens' bail at $3 million. Even if the the district attorney's office does not pursue the death penalty, he could spend the rest of his life in prison." WFAA says six people are still in the hospital. "Tonight we know Deandre Tatum is still listed in critical (condition) in the ICU. His girlfriend, Kartisha Davis, is listed in good condition." KVUE added there is a long legal process facing Owens due to the large number of victims and witnesses involved in the incident.
I live in Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City, adjacent to the Camanava district in Northern Metro Manila. Early morning, Friday, August 18, the Northern Police District was wrapping up their overnight drug sweep of Camanava that yielded 24 deaths, and 36 arrests. That same Friday, at around 1:30 am, I went home later than usual because of a deadline at work as a news researcher/producer. Our street is almost pitch black. The light post has been broken for nearly a year. The feeling of uneasiness is always there every time I go home especially with stories about our neighbors being robbed in front of their houses. I shrugged off the thought because I do not have a choice. My work shift is late; I go home late. That night was unusual. As I was getting off the tricycle, I saw from my periphery, silhouettes of two men carrying one rifle each. Riding a motorcycle, they stopped at the intersection in front of our house. I ignored them since our street is a designated Mabuhay Lane to Regalado Avenue and a lot of vehicles use this as shortcut. With our closed van parked in front of our house, I lost sight of them. I went straight to our gate and rang the doorbell. A few moments after, blinking lights from their motorcycle flashed on me. They were close to our truck. I continued to ring the doorbell, pressing it repeatedly as hard as I can. My mind went blank and next thing I knew, I was running towards the adjacent street near the light post. On that street, another man riding a motorycle passed me by as I slowed down to stop, catching my breath. “Bakit Ka Tumatakbo?” He asked me, “Bakit ka tumatakbo? At bakit takot na takot ka?” (Why are you running, why are you so scared?) I told him that there were men with guns so I ran towards a lighted street. That’s when the armed men approached us. On their t-shirts it said: “NCR POLICE.” The man who asked me why I was running introduced himself to the policemen as a BPSO or Barangay Public Safety Officer. “Sir, BPSO po ako. Nakita ko ‘to tumatakbo.” (Sir, I’m BPSO. I saw this one running) The BPSO left me with the armed cops who demanded that they inspect my bag. I opened my bag, not letting them touch it. While showing them the content, I got my media ID. “Sir, kakauwi ko lang po galing trabaho,” I told them. (Sir I just got home from work.) “Yung bulsa, patingin din.” (Let me see the pocket.) I emptied my pocket to fulfill their demand. The other police asked, “Bakit ka tumakbo?” (Why did you run?) “Sir, marami na po kasing na-hold-up sa street namin sa tapat ng bahay nila. Akala ko po mga holdupper kayo kasi may mga baril po kayo e. Kaya tumakbo po ako,” I explained. (Because people have been held up in this street in front of their houses. I thought you were going to rob me because you had guns. That’s why I ran.) “Bahay ko po ‘yung dino-doorbell ko.” (That’s my house, where I was ringing the doorbell.) “Bahay mo ba ‘yun? Samahan ka na namin.” (Is that your house, we’ll take you there.) We walked towards our house as I called my mom to open the gate for us because there were policemen with me. The cops inquired about my work in media and asked why I didn’t recognize that they were policemen. I stayed silent. I didn’t want to risk raising their temper. But in my head, I was explaining. I was trembling as I went inside the house. I sat at the dining room thinking about what happened. Then it began to hit me hard. “Bigyan Mo ng Baril” On Wednesday, August 16, two days before my encounter, the Caloocan police picked up 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos as he was closing up their small shop in Barangay 17. The police claim he shot at them. But witnesses and CCTV footage from the barangay tell a different story. Kian was supposedly dragged into a dark alley and then given a gun, told to fire it. He was told to run. He did. And that’s when they shot him. See I also ran, in the same week that the police held simultaneous anti-drugs raid that have killed almost 90 since Monday, August 14. Called ‘one-time, big-time’ operations, the raids are criticized as an incentive-laced operations by cops with a quota to reach, emboldened to pull triggers by a President who had vowed to always protect them, no matter what. In a speech last year, President Rodrigo Duterte told the cops: ‘If he has no gun, give him a gun.’ TokHang I do not want to accuse the policemen but the circumstances haunt me. What if the roving policemen were part of the overnight sweep that same morning? What if when they saw me running, they also shot me? I can’t help but think that it was my Media ID that saved me. I almost left it that morning; I even had to go back for it. What if the BPSO did not pass by that street? But why did the barangay officer even leave? I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of me being dead, part of the rising death toll in the administration’s ruthless war on drugs. It has made people paranoid. It made me paranoid. I should be safe in front of my house. But when two men with high-powered guns stop in front of your house, behind you, would you feel safe? Would you have stayed there or would you have run like I did? In the wake of 90 deaths this week, people are enraged. Some are starting to be cautious. I have been receiving messages from friends to try to avoid going home late. The lyrics of the song ‘Tatsulok’ is spreading online as a reminder: Totoy makinig ka, wag kang magpa-gabi. Baka mapagkamalan ka’t humandusay diyan sa tabi. (Boy, listen to me, don’t stay out late, you might be mistaken and lie dead on the street.) How can you trust policemen who have created terror in this country? Ironic that they want to stop drugs and curb crime so Filipinos feel safe. But no, Mr. President, I do not feel safe. [Entry 238, The SubSelfie Blog] About the Author: Serafin Gozon is the head researcher, segment, interview and field producer of GMA News TV’s State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. Advertisements
McLaren morale dropped again today with news that frustrated Fernando Alonso has bought himself a Mercedes engine. ‘Mercedes sell customer engines, so Fernando has become a customer,’ explained a source close to the Spanish driver. ‘It’s being delivered tomorrow and then he’ll insist the team fits it to his Mp4-30, even if it makes the engine cover a bit lumpy.’ The installation of a Mercedes engine to Alonso’s McLaren is certain to change the tone of radio messages the former champion relays to his pit wall during the race, moving from ‘there’s a funny noise and everything’s stopped working’ and ‘What do you mean save fuel? If I go any slower I’ll be stopped’ to more upbeat communications such as ‘It’s saying mode 2, could you look in the manual in my bag in the motorhome to see what I do next?’ and ‘There’s a blue light come on with, like, a picture of a desk fan or something, can you run down to the Merc pit and ask them what it might mean’. Meanwhile, beleaguered Jenson Button has yet to follow his team mate in buying a Mercedes engine but is said to be more optimistic about his pace in the next Grand Prix having just picked up some Toyo R888s off eBay.
Louis van Gaal has issued a robust defence of his managerial approach at Manchester United, insisting “I am not a dictator”, after confirming that Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick raised concerns over morale within the playing squad. Van Gaal, whose team face Liverpool at Old Trafford on Saturday evening, has seen his methods subjected to intense scrutiny this week following revelations of the dressing-room disharmony which prompted Rooney and Carrick, United’s captain and vice-captain, to speak to the manager last month. But in a passionate and detailed response to question marks over his management, Van Gaal claimed that the concerns raised by his players were a positive development, highlighting the trust he feels from the squad. “All the players are communicating with me,” Van Gaal said. “They are coming to my office. Believe me, it is like that, but I am not a dictator, I am a communicator. “Rooney and Carrick came to me and said the dressing room is flat – they told me because they wanted to help me. They try to warn me. “I then went to my dressing room and discussed with my players and we discussed a lot of aspects, but I think I have a superb relationship with my players. “In my career as a manager, I didn’t have so many who come to say something about the atmosphere in the dressing room or the way we train, or something like that. It is very positive that they are coming to you and that they trust you. “But it was Carrick and Rooney and that was alarming for me because they are the captains. That’s why I went to the dressing room.” • De Gea's deal is good for United - but he could still end up at Real While Van Gaal insists that Rooney and Carrick simply expressed concerns over the “flat” dressing room, rather than suggesting discontent with the Dutchman’s training methods, the manager conceded that he has since made changes to his approach and insists he will continue to show flexibility. “The players have to explain why [we should change], and how, and then I’ll listen,” Van Gaal said. “Not only I will listen, also my assistants are listening, and then we discuss it and then I have to change it. But, yes, if you come with strong arguments, I adapt.” Van Gaal was unrepentant, however, on his insistence on several meetings during the week with his players. “I have read there are a lot of meetings, but that’s the philosophy,” he said. “You have to analyse opponents, then you need a meeting to show that. Then you have to make a game plan, then you have to hold a meeting about the game plan. “Then you have to practise, then we have to discuss with the players, on the pitch, how they feel. Then you have to evaluate a performance. Maybe we then have to change – and when they have good arguments, we change.” Despite concerns among some players and supporters over United’s uninspiring style of football, Van Gaal claims that his squad are given an input into how they play. “I have changed the way that I say the game plan to them,” Van Gaal said. “Now, I ask in advance and they can say what they want. Most of the strategy is always the same because they like the way we have done it.” Van Gaal, who insisted he has increased the number of days off for his players due to the off-field demands of playing for the “most commercial club in the world”, believes that the “flat” atmosphere described by Rooney and Carrick was due to the uncertainty of the transfer window and large-scale overhaul of the United squad during his year-long reign. “The whole dressing room has been changed,” Van Gaal said. “Can you imagine when your friend must leave? What are your feelings then? “Friends are going away, and then we have problems with [Victor] Valdés, then we have problems with the transfer of David de Gea, who has a great influence in the dressing room. That is why it was flat. “But I am pleased that they come to say that to me, because I can communicate about that, and then we can change or not change. It’s dependable on the arguments. “When I went to the dressing room, after that the atmosphere was much better and after that we won again. “We have managed the Champions League, which is also not bad I think, and then we have managed the transfer [new contract] of De Gea. “Some players are coming to me to apologise about what has been said in the papers, but the fans are shouting every week ‘Louis van Gaal’s army’. They are very satisfied and the players are satisfied.”
Cuando dos hermanos crecen viendo películas juntos, haciendo comentarios sobre esas mismas películas, analizándolas, desmenuzándolas e incluso imitándolas, terminan casi inevitablemente desarrollando un lenguaje propio. Un idioma que puede llegar a resultar impenetrable para el resto de la humanidad, repleto de unas referencias que sólo ellos entienden y de un sentido del humor indescifrable, de una visión particular del mundo basada en unos cánones construidos desde cero por esos dos hermanos en el oasis de sus infancias. Normalmente, la revelación de esta idiosincrasia queda reservada para las personas allegadas a ellos, salvo que, como en el caso de Ethan y Joel Coen, terminen dedicándose al cine. Es entonces cuando remodelan y atemperan su universo particular, haciéndolo más comprensible, adaptándolo para que otras muchas personas y no solamente ellos dos puedan echar un breve vistazo a su interior. Quizá por ello el trabajo de los hermanos Coen sigue teniendo ese toque levemente surrealista, esos ocasionales momentos de sinsentido propios de dos hermanos que redefinieron la cultura en sus propios términos desde el sofá de su casa. A través de sus películas podemos echar un vistazo a su microcosmos particular, aunque nunca estaremos completamente seguros de entender el 100% de lo que estamos viendo. Basta con contemplar o leer algunas de sus entrevistas: los Coen, cuando se encuentran cómodos ante el entrevistador, hablan intercalando frases el uno en el discurso del otro, dándose continuamente la alternativa para darle vueltas a las referencias comunes y causando la impresión de que comparten una única memoria común de la que ambos se alimentan por sus respectivos cordones umbilicales. Provenientes de una familia con un elevado nivel cultural —los padres de los Coen eran un profesor de economía en la Universidad de Minnessota y una profesora de Bellas Artes—, Joel y Ethan no eran los únicos niños en la casa. De hecho, había también una niña, la hermana mayor, Debbie Coen. Aunque la verdad es que resulta fácil imaginar que Debbie se sintiese con frecuencia desinteresada respecto a las extravagancias de sus dos estrambóticos hermanos pequeños. Es probable que no se sintiese especialmente fascinada por el microcosmos de Joel y Ethan, secuestrados por ese efervescente amor al cine que los hizo rodar sus primeros cortos con una cámara de Super-8, pintando al hijo de unos vecinos como un nativo del África para filmar grandes aventuras situadas supuestamente en el corazón del continente del misterio. Imaginación infantil: el caldo de cultivo de los grandes creadores. Sabemos que esa hermana mayor, Debbie estudió medicina y se mudó a Israel. Todo muy judío, se dirán ustedes en un giro a lo Woody Allen. Ahora Debbie es la doctora Coen; estaría bien preguntarle sobre lo que recuerda de sus dos hermanos. ¿Qué pensará ella sobre sus películas? ¿Verá en esos filmes un reflejo de las extravagancias adolescentes de las que fue testigo tantos años atrás? Porque puede que incluso ella quedase fuera del microcosmos de celuloide de Joel y Ethan, pero aun así debe de tener una perspectiva única, conociendo muchos detalles que a los demás se nos escapan. Ah, y sobre las influencias del judaísmo sobre los dos hermanos poco diremos por ahora, ya que pasaron muchos años antes de que ellos mismos decidieran plasmar la naturaleza de esa influencia en pantalla, con todo el ácido sarcasmo propio de los hijos descreídos hacia la religión de sus ancestros. Todo llegará. Pero mientras podemos decir que nacieron y crecieron en Minneapolis, una de las ciudades más educadas de los Estados Unidos. De hecho, incluso el propio nombre de la ciudad fue ideado por un profesor, aunando un topónimo indio con la terminación griega “polis”: el teatro y la música, desde el jazz a la clásica, tienen gran importancia allí, así como las artes plásticas; no en vano uno de los grandes museos estadounidenses está radicado en la ciudad. Las influencias cinematográficas de los jóvenes Joel y Ethan fueron diversas, pero creciendo como crecieron a finales de los sesenta, desarrollaron una extraña fijación hacia las comedias ligeras de Jerry Lewis, Tony Curtis e incluso las de Doris Day. Muchas de estas películas eran sencillamente infumables, pero los propios Coen recuerdan con cariño el tono surrealista que inevitablemente terminaban adquiriendo en su atropellada ligereza. Un tipo de comedia intrascendente e inofensiva que, sin pretenderlo, a menudo bordea la psicodelia. Muchos de los admiradores del cine de los Coen quizá no soportamos ese tipo de película, pero así es la infancia: una piedra filosofal que convierte la basura en oro, y para aquellos dos niños, tan funestos filmes constituyeron una influencia que daría frutos inesperados. Los niños tienen mejor vista y mejor oído que los adultos, pero además poseen una mirada limpia y desprovista de prejuicios culturales. Para dos chavales de imaginación excitable como lo eran ellos, cualquier material podía servir de inspiración. Hemos de admitirlo casi con dolor, pero sí: hay mucho Jerry Lewis y mucha Doris Day en el cine de los Coen. Triturado, reciclado, incluso irreconocible, pero lo hay. También hay mucho de las sesiones de “cine en casa” de programas televisivos como el Mel Jazz’s Matinee Movie. No, probablemente el nombre de Mel Jazz no les suene demasiado a los lectores, pero los Coen lo consideran una influencia básica, un “precursor” y un “visionario”. En sus ciclos de cine matinal se atrevía a programar casi cualquier cosa, desde el 8 ½ de Federico Fellini hasta películas de serie B como El hijo de Hércules. Todo mezclado, sin distinción: cine europeo de autor y estupidísimos subproductos de acción para un mismo público anhelante de sensaciones nuevas. Además, Jazz rompía la famosa “cuarta pared” del cine, interrumpiendo las películas para decir cosas como “¡Wow! ¡Esta película es realmente salvaje!”, lo cual sólo acentuaba el tono irreal del programa y hacía que los espectadores más perceptivos, como los Coen, se diesen repentinamente cuenta de que estaban viendo cine y empezasen a prestar atención a cómo estaba hecho ese cine, además de a lo que la propia película contaba. Otro de los programas favoritos de los hermanos era el Downtown Chevytown Theater, donde a menudo programaban películas de Tarzán y, lo que es más, desangelados “spin-off” de esa serie de Tarzán protagonizados por el actor que había interpretado a Boy —el amigo del rey de la jungla— en los filmes originales. Más películas de relleno y subproductos decididamente estrambóticos, mezclados con ocasionales perlas de calidad. No resulta extraño, pues, que la cinefilia de los Coen y hasta su propio trabajo estén con frecuencia teñidos de cierta distancia y cinismo autoconsciente respecto al cine mismo. Lógicamente, hay que añadir otros ingredientes al crisol de sus influencias; ingredientes más de peso que expliquen mejor la pericia narrativa de los dos hermanos. No sólo de comedia estúpida y serie B vivieron los Coen: conforme se hacían más mayores, films como El tercer hombre, El largo adiós o El sueño eterno se engarzaron como broches en el conjunto del confuso bagaje de matinés televisadas. Los “thrillers” de argumento oscuro y alto octanaje visual propios del film noir de los cuarenta y cincuenta fueron una de sus principales fuentes de inspiración y se convertirían años más tarde en su gran especialidad como creadores; ningún otro tipo de película la han perfeccionado tanto. El amor al cine termino convirtiéndose en una vocación seria y ambos decidieron intentar dar el salto profesional; primero Joel, más tarde Ethan. El mayor de los dos hermanos, Joel, ingresó en la Universidad de Nueva York para estudiar cine mientras Ethan, tres años más pequeño, se conformaba con estudiar filosofía en Princeton. Pero el hilo de celuloide que los unía no se rompió por ello. Joel había crecido admirando y aprendiendo del cine con su hermano y recurrió a su ayuda cuando hubo de iniciarse profesionalmente en el mundillo. Sus padres, que como decíamos eran gente de alto nivel intelectual pero además con una visión flexible de las cosas —al menos en el campo laboral— no vieron con malos ojos las inclinaciones artísticas de sus hijos, lo cual constituyó un apoyo importante, o al menos una ausencia de obstáculos innecesarios. Esos inicios fueron modestos, pero trabajados. Tras terminar su programa de estudios cinematográficos, Joel Coen ejerció como asistente de montaje, guión o dirección en películas de bajo presupuesto, la mayoría de ellas del género de terror. Así fue como empezó a curtirse en la confección de largometrajes y así fue como conoció a Sam Raimi, un joven cineasta que por entonces andaba metido en la producción de The Evil Dead, su primer film como director. Fue la única película destacable en la que Joel participó duranteaquel periodo de formación, ya que The Evil Dead se convirtió en un inesperado éxito comercial y puso a Sam Raimi en el candelero. Aquello le sirvió a Joel Coen como tarjeta de presentación, ya que podía incluir en su currículum que había trabajado codo a codo con el ahora famoso Raimi, con quien además había trabado amistad. Y el propio Raimi se interesó por el progreso de Joel Coen en la profesión. Por ejemplo, ilustró a Joel sobre la manera de obtener fondos para conseguir rodar su propio debut. Primero, creando una entidad jurídica con el fin de que toda la posible recaudación obtenida tuviese soporte legal —algo que a Joel no se le había pasado por la cabeza— y después recurriendo a Hadassah, la Organización de Mujeres Sionistas de América. Suena muy solemne y oscurantista, pero así fue como Joel Coen obtuvo el presupuesto para su primera película: a través de la organización obtuvo una lista de judíos adinerados que solían aportar donativos a Hadassah. Por consejo de Raimi, Joel y Ethan —rescatado para la causa— rodaron un trailer ficticio de la película que pretendían dirigir. Proyectaron el trailer una y otra vez ante aquellos posibles inversores privados, para convencerlos de que aquella historia merecía ser rodada. Fue una tarea ardua, costosa y casi descorazonadora… pero finalmente consiguieron reunir el dinero. Los hermanos habían escrito un guión llamado Blood Simple (Sangre fácil) pensando de antemano en que debería ser una historia adaptada a un presupuesto muy limitado. Huyeron del género de terror, en el que Reimi acababa de triunfar y donde Joel Coen se había formado, y se acomodaron en uno de sus viejos amores de la adolescencia: el cine negro. Las influencias para aquella película fueron claras y reconocidas por ellos mismos: por ejemplo, el título del film fue extraído de una novela de Dashiel Hammett. Antes del rodaje, los hermanos estuvieron viendo películas cuya atmósfera querían captar en su debut: El tercer hombre de Carol Reed y El conformista de Bernardo Bertolucci estuvieron entre las elegidas, aunque cómo no, los hermanos abrían el abanico de referencias y también citaban a Chuck Jones, el dibujante de Looney Tunes, como otra de las fuentes de inspiración, muy especialmente por sus cortometrajes de Correcaminos y el Coyote. No es una referencia baladí: incluso los críticos terminaron reconociendo el poso de Chuck Jones en el cine de los Coen, sobre todo en algunas de sus siguientes películas. Los Coen admiten escribir sus guiones originales de manera instintiva, sin elaborar grandes esquemas previos, simplemente dejándose arrastrar por la misma historia que van creando. Quizá por ello hay en su cine un esquema que se repite con frecuencia: el de la intriga criminal enrevesada y marcada por un destino aciago, que en ocasiones es producto de embrollos pasionales y otras veces sencillamente consecuencia de la avaricia ciega. También existe cierto grado de desestructuración argumental y un cierto caos controlado en sus argumentos, donde prima más la iconografía y el carácter de los personajes que la perfección de la trama. Esa es la “etiqueta Coen”, bajo la que han creado varias de sus mejores películas. Sangre fácil entra en el supuesto citado del embrollo pasional, porque la película describía un retorcido triángulo amoroso que, como bien anuncia el título, termin aadquiriendo tintes sangrientos. Con medios limitados y con Joel Coen figurando como director —aunque no tardaríamos en averiguar que lo suyo con Ethan era un tándem— la película despertó numerosos elogios entre los críticos más avezados. Llamó mucho la atención en festivales de cine independiente como Sundance e Independent Spirit, en los que se recibió con considerable expectación el interesante primer trabajo de estos novatos que parecían poseer un gran potencial por explotar. Vista hoy, Sangre fácil es un más que prometedor debut, lógicamente todavía lejos de la cúspide creativa de los hermanos, pero donde ya están plantadas muchas de las simientes de su mejor cine. Quizá el gran descubrimiento del film fue la actriz Frances McDormand, quien además de casarse con Joel Coen tras el rodaje, se convirtió en una importante pieza en alguna de sus futuras grandes obras. Su siguiente película, Raising Arizona (Arizona Baby) introdujo otros dos de los tópicos fundamentales del cine de los Coen: la temática del secuestro. Esta vez en tono más ligero y cómico, huyendo de la oscuridad de Sangre fácil. Se acentuaba el recurso de los personajes coloridos como contrapeso cinematográfico al argumento mismo. Los Coen, como decíamos, casi siempre han cuidado mucho los personajes, incluso más allá de lo que han cuidado la sinopsis de sus películas. De algunos de sus mejores films resulta difícil resumir el argumento tras el primer visionado, pero rara vez deja de haber algún personaje memorable: cuando no los hay, sabemos que la película, por lo general, no estará entre sus mejores. Esto incluye algunas de sus costumbres más recurrentes, como la de incluir en los argumentos una pareja de personajes bastante inútiles —por lo general delincuentes— cuya torpeza introduce un elemento de humor descabezado, casi a lo Laurel & Hardy, en sus películas. Raising Arizona, pues, jugaba fuertemente la baza de los personajes. Además de los protagonistas, Nicolas Cage y Holly Hunter, los Coen recurrían por primera vez a uno de sus actores-fetiche: John Goodman. Frecuentemente infravalorado por entonces, quizá por su bagaje en la comedia televisiva o quizá sencillamente por su físico, Goodman es uno de los mejores ejemplos de cómo los Coen se obstinan en demostrar al mundo que saben encontrar un filón de oro y explotarlo. Hoy en día es ya un actor universalmente respetado, y además de a su propio talento, tiene mucho que agradecer a la fe que —justificadamente— los dos hermanos han tenido siempre en él y en su enorme presencia escénica. Pero ya habrá tiempo de hablar más sobre ello. El caso es que Raising Arizona siguió en la senda de despertar elogios y de anticipar un futuro brillante para los dos jóvenes cineastas de Minneapolis. Y lo más importante: fue la primera vez en que colaban una de sus películas entre las cincuenta más taquilleras del año en los EEUU, aunque si bien en la parte baja de la lista. Puede no parecer un éxito rotundo, pero es que los Coen nunca han dado un gran bombazo en taquilla. A nivel de público podríamos calificarlos como cineastas de “éxito modesto”: son bastante conocidos y algunas de sus películas se han convertido incluso en hitos culturales, pero en las salas de cine nunca han llegado a poder competir de tú a tú con los “blockbusters” del momento. A veces obtienen recaudaciones positivas, pero francamente, el gran público nunca se ha matado por llenar las salas en sus largometrajes. De todos modos, los Coen parecen asumir bien ese papel: mientras puedan seguir financiándose las películas que les gustan, han seguido fieles a sí mismos y en muy contadas ocasiones han sucumbido a la tentación de la “comercialidad”. Y cuando lo han hecho, ha sido, sospechamos, más por necesidad que por otra cosa. Lo cual es muy respetable, pero va un poco en contra del tipo de cine característico en ellos: levemente oscuro, levemente irreverente, levemente intelectual. No lo bastante levemente, sin embargo, como para convertirlos en los preferidos del gran público. Con todo, el relativo éxito de Raising Arizona les permitió afrontar su siguiente producción con más medios y una ambición renovada. Optaron por una película de época situada en la era de los gangsters, lo cual se salía bastante de su ámbito presupuestario acostumbrado hasta entonces, ya que los costes de producción se elevaban considerablemente a causa de la ambientación, etc. Con Miller’s Crossing (Muerte entre las flores) los Coen daban una muestra más de su afición a dar giros repentinos en su carrera. Dejaban de lado la comedia que les había supuesto cierto tirón comercial y retornaban a una intriga criminal tratada con la lente del film noir, nuevamente con fuertes influencias de Dashiell Hammett, pero ahora con un mayor esteticismo y unos aires de cierta grandilocuencia hasta entonces inéditos en sus films. Aparecían otras de sus características idiosincrásicas: el preciosismo visual, un hábil uso de la música y la introducción de profusa imaginería simbólica que no siempre tiene necesariamente un sentido (por ejemplo, los sombreros: parecen tener algún significado en el film, aunque los Coen aclararon después que “no significaban nada” y que se trataba de una mera ocurrencia estética). Miller’s Crossing tenía una cinematografía muy cuidada que no escondía el hecho de que se habían encontrado con serios problemas para elaborar el argumento por culpa de su tendencia improvisadora. El resultado fue que mucha gente encontró que la historia de gangsters era confusa o difícil de seguir. Miller’s Crossing era una película visualmente atrayente pero que no sumergía al espectador en su argumento. Con todo, la crítica volvió a elogiar la cinta. Aunque como suele suceder con cualquier fenómeno que empiece a adquirir prestigio en los círculos “de tendencias”, había quien empezaba a tachar el cine de los Coen como de “efectista” o “superficial”, un cine que cuidaba más la apariencia que la sustancia. Una acusación de superficialidad que hubiese tenido algún sentido si su cine no hubiese adquirido profundidad por otra vertiente, la audiovisual, en la que empezaban a dar muestras de estar desarrollando una maestría considerable. También se ponía de manifiesto su sólido criterio para construir un reparto eligiendo acertadamente a actores y actrices con carácter: Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Albert Finney, Jon Polito… aunque sería John Turturro quien destacaría por encima de todos ellos y terminaría convirtiéndose en otro de los intérpretes favoritos de los hermanos Coen. Miller’s Crossing, sin embargo, era como decíamos una película difícil y fracasó en taquilla. Los Coen, tan norteamericanos ellos, estaban construyéndose sin pretenderlo una imagen de “auteurs” a la europea: directores que complacían a la crítica y a los cinéfilos de morro fino, pero que estaban alejados de los gustos del espectador medio. Muy especialmente en América, el visitante tipo de las salas de cine los consideraba un producto para consumo exclusivo de culturetas e incluso un capricho para cinéfilos “snob”. La combinación entre clasicismo en las formas y el cinismo en el trasfondo de su cine era químicamente difícil de asimilar para la gran audiencia. Cierto es que los Coen se estaban ya cultivando una fiel base de seguidores entre personas con gustos o formación similares a la suya propia, pero era una base numéricamente reducida. Corrían el riesgo de ser condenados con ese sambenito de “veneno para la taquilla”. No terminaban de llegarle al gran público. Tampoco lo intentaban. Su siguiente film, Barton Fink, era todavía más oscuro. Nuevamente con un presupuesto pequeño, ya sin la parafernalia de producción de Muerte entre las flores, su nuevo trabajo también resultaba áspero y poco comercial. La extraña historia giraba en torno a un guionista que se aísla en una habitación de hotel para intentar superar a un bloqueo creativo. Allí conoce al inquilino de la habitación de al lado, quien es totalmente ajeno al arte de escribir pero intenta ayudarle con el guión. Un argumento aparentemente meta-cinematográfico que iba transformándose lentamente en un thriller de connotaciones sórdidas, casi demoníacas. La manera en que la película arrancaba con un argumento casi pedestre y discurría hacia tonos más propios del cine negro, para terminar en un clímax de pesadilla —llegando incluso a presentar algunas imágenes de carácter onírico— encandiló a los críticos. Era un recorrido paralelo al de Psicosis de Alfred Hotchcock, el de la que justamente podría considerarse la más hitchcockiana de las películas de los hermanos. Los dos actores-fetiche de los Coen por entonces, John Turturro y John Goodman, bordaban sus respectivos papeles. Seguía apareciendo simbología sin sentido explícito, como la del papel pintado de las paredes. Casi todo en la película resultaba artísticamente brillante y pocas voces se resistían ya a admitir que los Coen se habían establecido como el futuro del cine. Barton Fink fue la película que les abrió las puertas del respeto unánime de la crítica, a la que no parecía importarle —más bien al contrario— la escasa salida comercial de los Coen. Porque la taquilla seguía dándoles la espalda, aunque el reconocimiento de su talento fuese unánime tanto en la industria como en la crítica. Por ejemplo, con Barton Fink arrasaron en Cannes: Palma de Oro a la mejor película, premio a Joel Coen como mejor director y para John Turturro como mejor intérprete. John Goodman fue nominado al Globo de Oro como mejor actor, aunque no pudo hacerse con el trofeo. La película recibió incluso algunas nominaciones secundarias en los Oscars de las que no ganó ninguna: aquello fue como un guiño condescendiente de la gran industria a aquellos dos hermanos que hacían cine “de autor” pero no dejaban de unos “outsiders” en la cinematografía estadounidense. Qué buenos son los Coen… lástima que la gente no esté interesada en sus películas. Aún así, pese a la modesta recaudación del film, la brillantez de Barton Fink hizo pensar a algunos productores que los Coen podrían explotar comercialmente realizando un producto más ambicioso, más para todos los públicos. Con su creciente prestigio llegaron expectativas renovadas y los Coen cayeron en la tentación de creer estar por encima de donde estaban, de intentar convertir demasiado explícito su mundo particular. Para la siguiente película, The Hudsucker Proxy, contarían con un presupuesto que triplicaba el de Barton Fink y con un reparto más estelar: Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh y la colaboración de una leyenda del cine, Paul Newman. Además, por primera vez, iban a disfrutar de una verdadera distribución internacional. Pero la historia a lo Frank Capra que escribieron, sobre un individuo que asciende accidentalmente a la jefatura de una gran empresa para descubrir la soledad que se siente en la cumbre, no convenció ni a la crítica ni al público. La deliberada atmósfera de cuento, muy artificiosa, o los toques oníricos y pseudo-fantásticos, parecían ahora repentinamente forzados y fuera de lugar. Por no hablar del romance introducido con calzador y de las constantes autorreferencias —o referencuias al vacío— que dejaban impertérrito al espectador. La película tenía momentos muy curiosos e incluso memorables, especialmente a nivel visual, pero casi nadie entendió qué habían pretendido los dos hermanos con el film. No funcionaba. El intento de encasquetarle a la audiencia un universo propio al modo de Tim Burton, no tuvo éxito y los espectadores no consiguieron romper la barrera de incredulidad ante lo que estaban viendo. The Hudsucker Proxy fue un sonado fracaso de taquilla en los EEUU y tampoco funcionó especialmente bien como debut en el mercado internacional, donde los Coen se habían puesto de largo con un trabajo que fue bastante publicitado. Pero la película no gustó y el marketing no pudo paliar ese grave defecto. Ni con la modesta recaudación mundial —una suma de exiguas recaudaciones nacionales— pudieron los Coen evitar que The Hudsucker Proxy se convirtiese en un fiasco y perdiese mucho dinero. Nunca recuperaron lo invertido y se vieron nuevamente confinados a presupuestos reducidos. Su intento de hacer “grand cinema” a lo Hollywood había terminado en desastre. Era hora de regresar a las pequeñas películas de sus inicios y ya había quienes empezaban a preguntarse si Joel y Ethan Coen terminarían convertidos en unos juguetes rotos. Pero si los Coen han demostrado una cualidad a lo largo de sus carreras, una que por ejemplo quisiera para sí M. Night Shyamalan, es la de aprender con rapidez a partir de sus errores. Cuando afrontaron su siguiente película habían dado varios pasos atrás en su estatus en la industria y disponían de medios casi ridículos dada su adquirida fama: contaban con solamente la cuarta parte del presupuesto de The Hudsucker Proxy, así que no les quedaba más remedio que optar por un trabajo muchísimo más sencillo. Se olvidaron de aquellos “toques mágicos” que habían resultado fascinantes en Barton Fink pero que se antojaban incomprensibles o incluso ridículos en The Hudsucker Proxy, y retornaron al cine negro, a un thriller oscuro y desnudo de artificios en la línea de su primera película. Pero algo había sucedido en el camino: tras cinco largometrajes, los Coen habían pulido sus talentos y descubrieron que, con un presupuesto reducido y un enfoque realista, eran capaces de seguir creando magia. Ahora la magia estaría no en el argumento sino en el cuidado tratamiento esteticista de panoramas aparentemente convencionales —todos recordamos ese aparcamiento nevado filmado desde arriba, ¡la magia está en la lente!— y en el siempre hábil uso de la música, en ese preciosismo discreto y sin ínfulas que les sirvió para envolver una retorcida historia de secuestros, deudas y sangrientos malentendidos. El resultado, Fargo, es para algunos —yo entre ellos— la obra maestra de los hermanos Coen. Una película redonda que era el reverso luminoso de The Hudsucker Proxy: como dos buenos alumnos, los Coen evitaron todo aquello que no había funcionado en su anterior film y optaron por hacer todo lo contrario. Eso sí, teniendo mucho cuidado de no exagerar con la reacción para no pecar por defecto allá donde ante shabían pecado por exceso. Fargo era, pues, comedida, pero no demasiado. Modesta, pero no demasiado. Sencilla, pero no demasiado. Le sacaron todo el partido a los medios disponibles apostando más por el cómo filmar mágicamente un guión convencional, que por el erróneo “escribamos algo mágico y si lo filmamos seguirá siendo mágico en pantalla”. Dicho de otro modo: dejaron de intentar ser tan mágicos y, como consecuencia, lo fueron más que nunca. Porque Fargo es la perfecta combinación de una historia pedestre y prosaica con un enfoque audiovisualmente poético: ninguna de las dos vertientes domina sobre la otra, porque una prevalece en el contenido y la otra en el continente. Es, a un mismo tiempo, una película sencilla y barroca. Sencilla porque no intentaba artificios extraños y porque evitaba cargar las tintas allá donde no era necesario. Y barroca porque estaba repleta de pequeños detalles, de naderías aparentemente insustanciales cuyo significado o sencillamente cuya fuerza expresiva, uno iba descubriendo en posteriores visionados. Los Coen, además de recurrir a colaboradores cercanos como Frances McDormand —que bordó el papel coprotagonista— o a actores de carácter como Steve Buscemi o Peter Stormare, contaron con un acertadísimo William H. Macy para encarnar al agobiadísimo y chapuceramente manipulador protagonista del film, un vendedor de coches que tras estafar a varios clientes, organiza el secuestro ficticio de su mujer para hacer frente a sus deudas. Fargo no fue un superéxito de taquilla, pero sí se convirtió en su película más recaudadora hasta entonces, lo cual ya era algo remarcable: al menos no volvían a nadar en las turbulentas aguas de los números rojos. Y sobre todo dejó totalmente boquiabiertos a los críticos y a los espactadores cinéfilos más exigentes. Tras el tropezón de The Hudsucker Proxy, los Coen retornaban en su mejor forma y con su mejor película, decididos a sacarle pleno rendimiento a su ajustado presupuesto y a convivir cómodamente con la readquirida condición de cineastas “marginales” dentro de Hollywood. La crítica, pues, se rindió en pleno… aunque la industria seguía resistiéndose aún a considerarlos como el verdadero presente y futuro del cine, ya que no fabricaban dinero a espuertas. El mejor resumen de esta situación: Fargo fue nominada para siete Oscars, de los que ganó solamente dos (al mejor guión y a la mejor actriz para McDormand), porque en la ceremonia fue eclipsada por la “más seria” y desde luego más corporativa El paciente inglés (que ganó nueve Oscars frente a los dos de Fargo). Pero bueno, al menos los Coen pudieron decir que finalmente se llevaban algunas estatuillas y que habían obtenido un reconociento al máximo nivel en su país. Joel Coen ganó además su segunda Palma de Oro como mejor director en Cannes, un festival donde sí se los trataba como a los grandes que para muchos de nosotros ya eran. así pues, cualquier duda y cualquier censura sobre la integridad del talento de los Coen se esfumó definitivamente con aquella maravilla llamada Fargo. Los dos hermanos recordaron al mundo que tenían un lenguaje propio y que, para resultar originales y distintivos no necesitaban artificios ni veleidades fantasiosas. Les quedaba demostrar que, si bien no parecían destinados al triunfo masivo en taquilla, al menos podrían seguir ofreciendo grandes películas y labrarse con letras de oro un lugar en la historia del cine. Estaban dominando el lenguaje clásico de la gran pantalla, estaban un paso más allá que la mayor parte de sus contemporáneos; con Fargo, habían empezado a hacer cine con tal facilidad, que incluso había quienes confundieron esta facilidad con ligereza. Pero en general, al menos a nivel crítico, nya nunca volvieron a ser menospreciados. Podría decirse que con Fargo se resignaron a ser quienes eran y a hacer el tipo de cine que pensaban debían hacer. No es que en lo venidero no intentasen coquetear con un mayor éxito comercial, que lo irían obteniendo progresivamente, pero lo harían con una actitud similar a la de Clint Eastwood en ciertos momentos de su carrera como director: las películas más comerciales deberían servir para financiar obras más personales, difíciles y arriesgadas. Un equilibrio difícil de mantener, desde luego, pero que ellos han ejercido muy conscientes de que la marabunta de las masas no acudirá a ver su cine en tropel con cada estreno y que, sin embargo, la crítica desmenuzará ansiosa y con precisión quirúrgica cada cosa que hagan. Los Coen se deben a su arte mucho más que a la taquilla, ellos lo saben, nosotros lo sabemos, y precisamente por eso les hemos perdonado sus devaneos con la comercialidad. Porque aún se guardaban alguna que otra magna obra en sus bolsillos y porque para algunos de nosotros son los cineastas más importantes, en lo artístico, de su generación. Sí, por qué no, podríamos decir que son básicamente los mejores. Seguiremos hablando de ello en la próxima entrega. Si te ha gustado este artículo ¡Haz un donativo online! 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Why, oh WHY, do those #?@! nutheads use vi? The VI Gang Sign by Jon Beltran de Heredia, May 16th, 2007 Yes, even if you can't believe it, there are a lot fans of the 30-years-old vi editor (or its more recent, just-15-years-old, best clone & great improvement, vim). No, they are not dinosaurs who don't want to catch up with the times - the community of vi users just keeps growing: myself, I only got started 2 years ago (after over 10 years of being a professional programmer). Friends of mine are converting today. Heck, most vi users were not even born when vi was written! Yes, there are definite reasons why the vi/vim editing model is just superior to any other out there. And you don't need to be a Unix whiz to use it, either: vim is available for free for almost any platform out there, and there are plug-ins to get the functionality inside all major IDEs. Let's try to break a few misconceptions, and see some real examples of why it's the killerest: Misconception #1: modal editing The first time you stumble into vi or vim, you are shocked and disgusted that you have to use 'i' to start typing text. Can't remember which of hjkl moves in which direction. And you need to press 'a' if you want to insert after the last character of the line. Since you're already probably used to other editors, and if the arrow keys work in insert mode (they do if the system is configured properly, which is over 90% of the cases), you will stay in insert mode and not go back to normal mode except if absolutely necessary. You'll probably spend 20 minutes with it, and never go back. And also complaining: "How on earth am I going to remember whether I'm in insert or normal mode?" Turns out, this is just a completely wrong way to use vi or vim. Using vi/vim properly, you don't use it modally. You are always in normal mode, and only enter insert mode for short bursts of typing text, after which you press <Esc> to go to normal mode. Thus, the remembering-the-mode problem just doesn't exist: you don't answer the phone in insert mode to get back to vi and not remember where you were. If you are typing text and the phone rings, you exit insert mode and then answer the phone. Or you press <Esc> when you come back. But you never think about insert mode as a mode where you stay. Let me explain the philosophy behind this. Commands in vi/vim are meant to be combined - 'd' means delete, 'e' means 'move to end of word', then 'de' is a complete command that deletes to the end of the current word (something like Ctrl-Shift-Right, Left, Del in most regular editors). One good benefit of this is that the '.' command repeats the last complete, combined editing command (not movement commands). After doing 'dw', '.' will act as a command to delete to the beginning of the next word. You can move around at will with all the powerful navigation commands, and press '.' at will to delete to the next word quickly. This turns out to be incredibly powerful. And now we come to insert commands. These commands enter insert mode and let you type text until you press <Esc>. Ok, in the case of these commands, the full command includes all the text you typed between 'i' (or whatever command you used to enter insert mode, as there are several) and <Esc>. What this means is that if you type 'iHello<Esc>', which enters the text 'Hello' at the cursor's position, what now '.' does is "Type 'Hello' at the cursor's position". All of it. And you can understand that is pretty powerful. But it's better than this. 'A' goes to the end of the current line and enters insert mode there. So, after completing the insert by pressing <Esc>, you can press '.' anywhere to go to the end of the line and do the same thing. One other even more powerful example: let's take the 'ce' command, which is composed of 'c' and 'e'. The 'c'hange command deletes the range specified by the next motion command, and also enters insert mode. It's the same as 'd', but with the distinction that it enters insert mode, instead of staying in normal mode. The boon is that the text you type in the next (short) input session is also part of the command. So if you do 'ceHello<Esc>>', what you do is replace from the cursor to the end of the word by 'Hello', and the '.' command afterwards will work exactly like that: replace up to the end of the word with 'Hello'. Motions (cursor-moving commands) can also get more complex, and there are all sorts of insert-mode-entering commands ('o' to create a new line below, 'O' to enter one above, 'S' to delete to the end of line, etc... all of them entering insert mode afterwards) so you can imagine what type of powerful editing mini-ops you can build and repeat with simple '.'s! Example #1: the wonderful dot command Let's see a concrete example. Say you have declared three new functions in your header file, and you need to implement them in the module. You copy the following text and paste it into your implementation file: All code starts like this, doesn't it? Now you have to remove their semicolons, and adding an empty body would be a good idea. With the cursor as above, you can use 'A' to go straight into insert mode at the end of the line: After 'A' - see the insert mode cursor (vertical line) at the end Now you delete the semicolon with <backspace>: Deleting is simple And type <return> { <return> } <return> to insert the body: Inserting too, as in any other editor And finally, type <Esc> to return to normal mode: And now, quickly!, we return to normal mode And now you have to repeat this with the other two. How do you do it? Easy: first, press 'j' to move the cursor down. And then, press '.' to repeat the last full editing command (the 'A' command with the backspace and the inserted text). If you do 'j.j.', that is, twice, you get the following: Just j.j. to do this! The vi command architecture was key here, together with the fact that <backspace> is as part of the editing sequence as regular typing, and the editing operations being pretty repetitive. But think about it, how much of your daily editing is repetitive? Yeah, I thought so. Misconception #2: it's not all about regular expressions Vi/vim is pretty powerful handling regular expressions. All half-serious editors have regular expression support for searching, replacing, etc, but only vi (that I know) can use them in highly complex ways, such as doing a certain regex search and replace in the second occurrence of 'begin' after lines that contain 'proc', or whatever you think up. So this is not to demean the power of regexes, or the vi/vim regex-using power. But the main power of vi, and the power that you can't live without after you've got used to it, is the power of the basic editing model: One- or two-key motions to move directly anywhere on the line, or on the screen Operators such as 'd' or 'c' that can be combined with any motion to directly modify some text and maybe enter insert mode, and being able to repeat it all as many times as you wish with '.' Anything can be done without moving your hands away from home row! No more suffering when editing on a laptop with a braindead keyboard layout (most of them) Example #2: smart ranges Let's see the following typical example. It's just a function call embedded in a somewhat complex expression: Complex expression and function call As you see, we have the cursor positioned at the start of the call. Now imagine that we want to extract this and assign it to a local variable. The first part is selecting the relevant call, then copying and deleting it to move above, typing the var name, and moving above to type the declaration. In regular editing models, you will play hunt-and-peck with Ctrl-Right and left/right until you get it exactly right. Not with vi or vim. The '%' motion moves from a parenthesis (or similar grouping character) to its matching one - but if you're not positioned at one of these special characters, it will scan character by character to the right, until the first one is found, and then moving to the character matching that one. So, in the above situation, it will move to the right closing parenthesis! Knowing about the 'c' command, which deletes the extents of the next motion (also copying it to the clipboard) and enters insert mode, we can type just 'c%' ("change match") from the above case and we get the following: After just 'c%' ("change match") The relevant call has gone to the clipboard, and we're also ready to type the name of the variable. Not bad for just two keystrokes! After typing the variable name and pressing <Esc> to go back to normal mode, it will look like this: Typing and <Esc> Now in normal mode, you can type 'O' to open a new line above the current one and enter insert mode, and start typing the declaration: Just pressed 'O' and typed the start of the declaration And now, when we have to insert the previous expression, since we have it in the clipboard, we can use Ctrl-R, " to paste it in insert mode (admittedly a bit unintuitive to remember, but it's the key to simple multiple-clipboard support). This will bring in the function call we deleted at the previous point. So Ctrl-R, ", we type a semicolon, and <Esc> to get back to insert mode gest us here: Finished! Misconception #3: you gotta be nuts and/or a genius to use it Well, I hope that with the above explanations and examples, you have already seen some of the power that vi/vim provides. Learning it is tough (see below), but if you're going to be editing code 8 hours or more a day for years, it's the second best investment after learning touch typing (which you already know, right? If not, don't bother with vi, learn that first). A learning curve of weeks make sense for such a lifetime investment. And, at least, you won't have a dumb assistant to annoy you to death. The point is, with vi, your keyboard becomes a huge specialized text-editing gamepad with almost a hundred buttons. Each of them has at least two functions, shifted and unshifted, so you have almost two hundred functions at a single keypress (not counting Shift). Commands are incredibly powerful for text editing, and you can even combine them to obtain the best results. While typing some text, it is a regular keyboard, but when you're back to normal mode you have the best-designed text-editing machine there is, and it shows. Example #3: manipulating delimited blocks One other simple example. This one only works with vim (uses one of vim's specific motions). Say you are inside an angle-bracketed section, as is so common in these days of XML: Life at an XML tag... How do you select the text inside for copying/deleting/modifying it? In regular editors, once again, you have to move your hands off their current, comfortable position, and go for the arrow keys or, even worse, the mouse. Any of those is probably a pain, especially when working on a laptop. How do you do it in vim? You just use one of the text-object motions, which all start with 'i' or 'a' (they can only be used after an operator like 'd' or 'c'). 'i>' refers to "the current 'i'nner angle bracket block", so you can do 'di>' ("delete inner angle-block") to just delete all the contents from the above situation: After typing di> ("delete inner angle-block") You can use '(' or ')' for the current parenthesized block (or even 'b' from 'b'lock), '[' or ']', '{' or '}', 'w' for punctuation-delimited-word, or 'W' for the current space-delimited word, prepending 'i' to any of them for the 'inside' contents, or 'a' to include the delimiting characters too. Misconception #4: hjkl to move around? Many people find it weird to use hjkl instead of arrow keys for moving around. The actual reason for this implementation seems to be that terminals of the time didn't reliably have arrow keys, and that this terminal in particular had hjkl keys doubling as cursor keys. But the side effect is that you don't need to move your hands off the home row to move around, which is great. But in any case, although you will use hjkl to move around at first, once you master vi/vim you probably won't use 'h' and 'l' ('left' and 'right') at all, and you will use 'j' and 'k' sparingly. Why is that? Because there are other, more powerful motions, that will often get you where you want to go much faster. When moving inside a line, I find that there is always a motion to take me straight to where I want to go, so I use those motions: 'f' followed by any other character to find its next occurrence, '%' to use matching parens to go where you want to go, etc... When navigating the file, you have motions to go to the top/middle/bottom of the screen directly, '/' which is effortless to type to search for a string, ']]' and the likes to navigate by functions, etc. Example #4: nice commands Some commands are just so useful that you would miss them if you knew them. 'H', 'M' and 'L' take the cursor directly to the 'H'ighest, 'M'iddle, or 'L'ower line on the screen. 'zt', 'zz' and 'zb' keep the cursor at the current position, but scroll the view so that it falls at the 't'op, 'z' center, or 'b'ottom of the screen. '*' searches forward for the next occurrence of the word under the cursor ('#' does the same backwards, at symmetrical positions so its easier to remember). And there are dozens more... Misconception #5: since you are thinking 90% of the time, and editing 10%, the productivity gain might be there, but it's useless anyway Well, those are exaggerated figures, but this fact is often mentioned against any editing gains being important to development productivity. I'll wager that this is wrong. First thing, in the chances where I really have to think a problem, and there is no need to look at code, I pick my bike and go for a one hour ride. Or a two hour ride. At least if the weather is good. It's much nicer than staying in front of the computer. Also, when I have to analyze some hard problem and design a solution, I often bring out a notebook (a real notebook, made of paper with cardboard covers and bound with a spiral), and a pen, and try to clarify my thoughts there. You can bet that, with a few exceptions, productive work can't be done away from the computer. This is because, most of the time, you have to look at the code to think and design. And this involves navigating the code with an editor. And also, very often, you *are* indeed typing or editing continuously. You maybe just think for 1 minute, but then you spend one other full minute editing the changes you just thought about. And when you are editing, you want to have the best damn tool for the job. Comfortable editing helps you stay in "the zone", the state of concentration that gets you the maximum productivity. As you master a powerful tool such as an editor, it just disappears from your conscious, and you are free to concentrate in the problem, and your editing happens unconsciously. Regular editing makes you hunt-and-peck, use Ctrl-Right, Ctrl-Right, Ctrl-Right, Ctrl-Right, Ctrl-Right to get to where you want to go, it makes you move your hand to your mouse, open a menu, select an option, enter stuff into a dialog and click 'Ok' to accept it. In vi/vim most stuff is a surprisingly small number of keystrokes away, in a direct fashion. Other vi users have also shared this with me, so I know I'm not alone in the feeling: once you start to master vi, there are times in which, after finishing a 30-second-long full-steam editing session, you kind of 'wake-up' to a faint memory of the sound of a continuous stream of keystrokes. It feels like you have been hearing them in the back of your head while you were dicing and slicing lines of text, blocks, motions and modifications. And this during this period of editing, you are feeling a tremendous sensation of power. Example #5: indenting a block Vi and vim know your code has some structure. Many of the commands reflect this. Say 'aB', as described in example #3 above: it selects the current '{' and '}' delimited block, including the braces themselves ('a}' does the same). And let's take it and combine with the '>' operator, a useful operator that indents the region indicated by the next motion. Picture the following code: Improperly indented How often do you encounter such a case? Yes, you can paste with auto-reindent (just ']p' in vim), but often you forget to, or you reach this case not because of pasting the block, but because you added or removed stuff above. You just have to indent it a bit, and you'll be done. In other editors, you move around, you select, you type TAB or the shortcut to auto-indent. Not so with vim, just three keystrokes: '>aB' ("indent a Block") and you get this: We didn't even have to move the cursor! How cool is that? You didn't move or select, you just told it directly what you wanted to do, and it did it. I believe it's this type of "straight" editing that gives you the feeling of power and helps you enter and stay in "the zone". Misconception #6: it's just sticking to a disappearing past Vi has been around for 30 years, and it's still there. Vim, a full-vi-clone which introduces even more improvements than vi has features, has been alive and kicking for 15 years, available for free on almost every single platform on earth. People who love vi have found a way to use it everywhere: there is a plug-in to get vi emulation in Eclipse, a plug-in to get vi emulation in many Mac OS X apps, a plug-in to add vi emulation to IntelliJ IDEA, even Emacs has not one, but several built-in vi emulators (when I end up tinkering lisp code in emacs, I start by trying to use emacs keybindings, and always end up typing "M-x viper-mode"), I develop and sell ViEmu, a family of plug-ins to get vi/vim emulation in Visual Studio, SQL Server, Word and Outlook, Paul Graham still uses it for his lisp and arc hacking, Tim O'Reilly is a confessed vi-er, SlickEdit and Crisp have vi emulation... Of course, the vi/vim community is not a majority: most computer users are not even touch-typists, and vi adds yet another steep learning curve. Those who have seen the light, though, won't go back to other, poorer, editing systems - so vi/vim editing is guaranteed to survive for many years to come. Actually, using vi(m) keybindings is probably the closest you can get to ensure you have it available in any environment you are or will be in the future, from old Unix systems to the latest popular IDE. Example #6: visual nature And as a final example, even if it seems vi is just about cryptic and unreadable commands, we are going to see some of the more visual aspects (actually, they are vim features, rather than vi original ones). One of them: with 'hlsearch' enabled (off by default in vim, but easily enabled with ":set hlsearch"), when you search for a string, all its matches are highlighted on the screen. Say you have the following html code: Some html source If you press '*', the word under the cursor ('div') is searched for. It results in this: Powerful asterisk! As you see, the cursor has moved, and the different occurrences are conveniently highlighted. Let's see some more. We've seen operators like 'd' and 'c' act upon the region given by the next command. Well, if we want visual feedback, we can use visual mode: press 'v', move around while you see the region from the initial point highlighted, and then press the operator directly to see its effect. Search commands work here as well. If you use 'V' instead of 'v', highlighting will be done by lines. Let's press 'V' and then 'k' (up) after the above: After Vk ("visual-lines, up") As you see, the two lines are highlighted as selected. Say we want to select until the closing div tag (the search highlight shows it). Type 'N' (previous match), and we get the following: After 'N' ("previous-match") And now we can do whatever we want, say, the 'gU' operator to make everything upper-case (and return to normal mode): Lovely upper case And now, let's just go for a correct common 'conception' about vi/vim: Correct-conception #1: steep learning curve There is one thing which is a commonly held piece of knowledge, and which is true as well. It is shown on this page to the best effect. It's the fact that learning vi/vim is an activity that will take a long time (weeks to months), and that the first experience is not pleasant. I take it this is the main reason why vi/vim editing isn't, and will never be, a popular thing. You need to invest quite some effort to learn, memorize, and internalize the 30 or so commands that start making you more productive than with other editors. Since they're all arbitrary one-key commands (although all of them have some easy mnemonic to aid in remembering them, and even some form of coherence), this is not an easy task. It's easy to throw in the towel and go back to familiar jedit or pico, ultraedit or textmate, or even emacs. But once the effort to learn it has been made, I know of no one who goes back. And I know dozens of people that have told me that they've been using 'vi' for over 10 years, and that they're accustomed to and expecting even the smallest details. Closing words Do whatever you want. Don't learn it if you feel it's too much effort just for nothing. Learn emacs instead. Or stay in your IDE using a lousy editor. Whatever. But in any case, don't ever claim again that those 'vi guys are nutheads' - I hope that I have succeeded in showing you why they (we) stick to it, and you should at least be able to understand its power, even if you prefer to stay away from it. If you want to research vi/vim editing some more, here are some useful references: And of course: (Special thanks to Ivan Vecerina, Andrey Butov, Jose Gonzalvo, Mark Petrik Sosa, Aitor Garay and Woody Thrower for commenting on early drafts of this article) (All captures taken from Visual Studio with ViEmu, my (commercial) vi emulator, and with codekana, my upcoming product, providing the enhanced syntax highlighting) You can comment the article at my blog
James FitzGibbon was an outstanding soldier and a hero of the War of 1812, but his rise in the military cost him. Born in Ireland in 1780, he was not quite 32 when the War of 1812 was declared. It was not his first war. By 1812 he had already distinguished himself in Isaac Brock’s 49th Regiment in Europe. Brock was his commanding officer, lieutenant colonel of the 49th Regiment. At the time, officers were usually men from wealthy families who “bought” their commissions and promotions. But Brock promoted FitzGibbon because he was intelligent and hard-working – from sergeant major in 1802, to ensign and adjutant in 1806, and lieutenant in 1809. However, as an officer, FitzGibbon had to equip himself, and every promotion led to more expenses. FitzGibbon managed impressive feats as a young officer. After the War of 1812 began, he brought a small fleet of boats from Montreal to Kingston, including through the rapids in full view of the American side of the St. Lawrence River. In the dead of winter, he led 45 sleighs of supplies from Kingston to Niagara. After acting as a company commander at the Battle of Stoney Creek in 1813, FitzGibbon took 50 “chosen men” into action with the mandate to “be employed in advance of the army, and with the authority to act against the enemy as he pleased and on his responsibility solely.” FitzGibbon and his men harassed the U.S. troops so effectively the Americans sent an expedition to take him out of action. Led by Lt.-Col. Charles Boerstler, the Americans camped at Queenston for the night and marched towards Beaver Dams the next morning. Warned of the attack by Laura Secord, FitzGibbon dispatched about 400 First Nations warriors to intercept the Americans. The First Nations warriors, led by Capt. William J. Kerr and Capt. Dominique Ducharme, both Metis, attacked at the beech woods. After three hours of fighting in the bush, FitzGibbon approached the Americans. Taking a page from Brock’s playbook at Detroit, he led the Americans to believe they were vastly outnumbered by his troops and in danger of falling into the warriors’ hands. Boerstler surrendered and 462 Americans were marched away by 50 British and Canadian soldiers. General Edward Baynes praised FitzGibbon for his “most judicious and spirited exploit,” and the press of the day, the Montreal Gazette, cheered “the cool determination and the hardy presence of mind evinced by this highly meritorious officer.” He was promoted to captain in the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, where for the rest of the war he and his men acted as scouts for the army. After he resigned his commission as an officer, he held a number of public service jobs in Canada. But in addition to his officer’s expenses, FitzGibbon frequently lived beyond his means and his debts were mounting. During the 1837 rebellion against William Lyon Mackenzie, FitzGibbon managed to whip a poorly trained rabble into shape to meet – and stop – the rebel menace marching down Yonge Street towards Toronto. In gratitude for “rescuing them from the horrors of a civil war”, Toronto citizens proposed a reward but it never materialized. The Upper Canadian legislature requested a 5,000-acre land grant from the Queen, but it was suggested FitzGibbon instead be given money for his civil and military services. However, it wasn’t until 1845 that the legislature rewarded him with the sum of £1,000, half of what he owed and nowhere near the value of the proposed land grant. FitzGibbon returned to Britain in 1847. He became a knight at Windsor Castle, an honorary position with a pension, and lived there until his death at the age of 83.
Computers keep getting more powerful because silicon transistors keep getting smaller. But that miniaturization can’t continue much further without a change to the transistors’ design, which has remained more or less the same for 40 years. One potential successor to today’s silicon transistors is silicon nanowires, tiny filaments of silicon suspended like the strings of a guitar between electrically conducting pads. But while silicon nanowires are certainly small enough to keep the miniaturization of computer circuitry on track, there’s been doubt about whether they can pass enough electrical current for high-speed computing. At 2008’s International Electron Device Meeting, researchers at MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories demonstrated silicon nanowires with twice the electron mobility — which indicates how easily current can be induced — of their predecessors. Now, the same group has shown that they can build chips in which up to five high-performance nanowires are stacked on top of each other. That would allow nanowire transistors to pass up to five times as much current without taking up any more area on the surface on the chip, a crucial step toward establishing the viability of silicon-nanowire transistors. A transistor is basically a switch: when it’s on, it passes an electrical current, and when it’s off, it doesn’t. Flipping the switch requires charging a part of the transistor called the “gate.” In today’s design, the gate sits on top of the transistor. But if the transistor gets small enough, electricity will leak across it whether the gate is charged or not. Turning the switch off becomes impossible. Because silicon nanowires are suspended in air, the gate can be wrapped all the way around them, like insulation around an electrical wire, which improves control of the switch. But the narrowness of the nanowires limits the amount of current they can pass. Electrical-engineering professor Judy Hoyt and her graduate students Pouya Hashemi and Leonardo Gomez improved the performance of silicon-nanowire transistors by, basically, prying the atoms of the silicon slightly farther apart than they would be naturally, which allows electrons to flow through the wires more freely. Such “strained silicon” has been a standard way to improve the performance of conventional transistors since 2003. But Hoyt was one of the early researchers in the field. “Starting in the early 1990s, she’s really played a pioneering role in strained-silicon technology,” says Tahir Ghani, director of transistor technology and integration for Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group. “She did a lot of this pioneering work that for the first time demonstrated that you can have significant performance gains by implementing strain into silicon technology.” Hoyt and her group’s work on strained-silicon nanowires, Ghani says, “combines the two key elements of transistors” — performance and space efficiency — “both of which are very key to scaling in the future. And so from that standpoint, it makes it very relevant for industry.” Handling stress To build their stacked nanowire transistors, the MIT researchers begin with a normal silicon wafer, on which they deposit a silicon-germanium composite. Because germanium atoms are bigger than silicon atoms, the distances between atoms in the silicon-germanium layer are greater than they would be in a layer of pure silicon. When the researchers deposit another layer of silicon on top of the composite, the silicon atoms try to align themselves with the atoms beneath them, so they, too, end up spaced slightly farther apart. This layer of strained silicon is bound to a second silicon wafer, and the other layers are removed, leaving the second wafer covered with a base layer of strained silicon. The researchers then stack alternating layers of silicon-germanium and silicon on top of the base layer, passing its strain on to each successive layer of silicon. Using a technique called electron-beam lithography, the researchers pattern fine lines onto the stacks and then etch away the material between the lines. Finally, they etch away the remaining silicon-germanium, and they’re left with several layers of suspended silicon nanowires. Hoyt and her students have manufactured nanowires with a diameter of only eight nanometers, which they described in a 2009 paper in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers journal Electron Device Letters; by contrast, the smallest elements of today’s computer chips are 45 nanometers across. Hoyt says that her group can create silicon with two times the strain seen in chips built by commercial vendors. “We increase the germanium fraction of the initial layer, so we therefore build more stress into the silicon,” Hoyt says. Moreover, says Hashemi, “we are the only group in the world that has showed that we can maintain this strain after suspension” — that is, once the underlying layers have been cut away. So far, Hoyt’s group has built nanowire transistors in which charge is carried by moving electrons. But to maximize computational efficiency, a standard computer chip in fact uses two types of transistors. In the other type, charge is carried by so-called holes. A hole is simply the absence of an electron in a crystal of semiconducting material. When an electron slides over to fill the hole, it vacates its own spot in the crystal; another electron slides over to fill that spot; and so on. In this way, the hole in effect moves along the length of the crystal. Increasing the mobility of holes in such transistors requires a different type of strain: the atoms of the crystal actually have to be jammed closer together than is comfortable. So Hoyt’s group is now working to build nanowires from a silicon-germanium composite, where intervening layers of pure silicon cause compression rather than tension.
An Opinion Savvy poll of likely South Carolina voters in next Saturday’s Republican Primary there continues to show Donald Trump leading by a relatively wide margin. The poll of likely voters was conducted February 10-11 by phone and mobile devices. The poll was weighted by age, race, gender, evangelical vote, and region. It has a margin of error of 3.5% and 95% confidence level: The Results: Trump: 36% Cruz: 19% Rubio: 15% Bush: 11% Kasich: 9% Carson: 5% Undecided: 5% Analysis by Matt Towery (Sr.) Political Analyst FOX5 Atlanta/columnist and frequent pollster for Morris Newspapers: “The poll conducted by Opinion Savvy (which is owned and managed by Matt Towery, Jr.) is one of the most detailed surveys I have seen conducted in a South Carolina primary. Looking at the various cross tabulations, it is easy to see why Trump has such a strong lead at this point in the race. Trump carries every age group except for the youngest (18-29) where Rubio nudges Trump out by 7 points. But Trump has comfortable leads among the other age groups in the poll. Trump has the highest support from almost every segment of respondents grouped by political philosophy. Trump leads among those describing themselves as “very conservative,” “somewhat conservative,” “moderate” and “somewhat liberal.” John Kasich leads among the few South Carolina GOP voters who describe themselves as “very liberal.” Nearly 60% of the voters in the GOP primary identify themselves as “evangelical” in the poll. But even among these evangelical voters, Trump leads Cruz by ten points. Of course South Carolina primaries can be very volatile and turnout can greatly impact the final numbers. But it appears Trump has consolidated and expanded upon his lead in South Carolina after New Hampshire in this poll. This is notable given that recent Opinion Savvy surveys of this race in South Carolina have shown Trump in a closer race there than most other surveys. The battle for second place now appears to be wide open. Cruz would seem to have the best opportunity to finish second but both Rubio and Bush are in contention as well. The poll does seem to indicate that Rubio’s post-New Hampshire debate “hangover” may be lifting. Just as in Iowa it would be wise to keep an eye out for last minute rise in his support should he turn in a stronger debate performance this coming week. Finally, we will keep an eye on the well-known negative “push polls,” mailers, and ads for which the South Carolina contest is famous for producing. My guess is that Trump is at his high “water mark” in this survey and that any failure on his part to have a strong ground game or to not respond to the usual tough campaign tactics in South Carolina will result in a tightening of this race.” Full poll and crosstabs can be found HERE
UPDATE (11:30 a.m. Sunday): Head coach Brad Stevens confirmed in his pregame news conference that Jae Crowder would start for the Boston Celtics in Game 4, replacing Marcus Smart. The Boston Celtics have employed the same starting lineup for 21 of their last 23 games, but a shakeup likely is in store for their pivotal Game 4 matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “When the Celtics opened practice to the media on Saturday, players were stretching to end the session,” ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg wrote. “Among those in the green practice shirts that typically denote starters were Evan Turner, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko, and Tyler Zeller. Marcus Smart and Brandon Bass, who started the first three games of the series, were wearing reserve white.” Though head coach Brad Stevens would not confirm any lineup changes, Crowder reportedly confirmed to media members that he was planning to start. “We’re just trying to come hit first,” Crowder said, via ESPN.com. The Turner-Bradley-Crowder-Jerebko-Zeller lineup was Boston’s most effective Thursday in Game 3, recording a collective plus-10 rating in 15 minutes together. Stevens sent out those five — with Crowder and Jerebko replacing Smart and Bass — to begin the second half in the Celtics’ eventual 103-95 loss. The Celtics must find some sort of a spark Sunday in Game 4, as another loss would put an end to their season. The Cavaliers won Games 1 and 2 of the first-round playoff series in Cleveland before taking Game 3 at TD Garden. “I’m excited for everyone (Sunday),” Bradley told reporters. “I think our lineup is different (for Game 4), and I know that we’re just going to go out there and play as hard as we can and play well.” Forward Jared Sullinger reportedly sat out Saturday’s practice with a bruised tailbone suffered during Thursday’s loss. He is listed as probable for Game 4. Thumbnail photo David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images
yellow truck The truck is the same conspicuous yellow that it was when it went missing. (Courtesy Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office) (Courtesy KCSO) KALAMAZOO COUNTY, MI -- Two men were arrested Wednesday morning at the Barton Lake Public Access near the intersection of XY Avenue and Portage Road, and a truck they are accused of stealing was recovered from that spot. The men, 27 and 28 years old, are lodged in county jails in Kalamazoo and Van Buren County, facing a laundry list of changes that include receiving and concealing stolen property, retail fraud, possession of narcotics, and outstanding warrants, according to a news release from the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office. Detective Sgt. Jim VanZile from the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office said that when authorities caught up with the men, the extended-cab Dodge Ram pickup truck was still the conspicuous bright yellow color it had been when it disappeared from the Otsego home of its owner. "They had changed the tires and rims" to attempt to disguise the truck, VanZile said. "We expected it to be in a million pieces, or bright purple." The sheriff's office and the Michigan State Police SCAR unit received information concerning the stolen Otsego truck and the suspects were believed to be connected to various stolen vehicles and thefts from Kalamazoo County, Portage, Otsego, and other jurisdictions as far north as Cadillac. Several stolen vehicles had been previously recovered in Kalamazoo County as well as Allegan County. Rosemary Parker is a reporter for MLive. Contact her at rparker3@mlive.com.
Who doesn’t love ice cream? It’s sweet, delicious and refreshing. Frozen yet creamy. It’s no wonder that Americans consume more than 20 litres (about 42 pints) each a year(!). I love ice cream. I’m the kind of person that would eat ice cream at any time, no matter the weather. You could dunk me into a frozen lake and then ask me if I’d like some ice cream and I’d probably say yes. If I have to die of hypothermia, I might as well do it while eating ice cream. But what is ice cream? What is it made of? And who invented it? A short history of ice cream Iced drinks and myths We’re not entirely sure how ice cream was invented or by whom. The earliest evidence of iced food is from a couple of thousand years ago: the Persians used to eat grape juice mixed with ice. The ice was stored in specially built cooling evaporators the size of a small building called yakhchals. The Romans also enjoyed mixing fruit juices with ice taken from the mountains. But, to get from the precursors of the modern granita (or other iced drinks, like the frappuccino) to proper ice cream took more than a thousand years. There are several myths on the origin of ice cream. Some say that Marco Polo witnessed ice creams being made on one of his trips to China and then introduced them to Italy. A version of this myth involves the Mongol riders taking provisions of cream in animal-skin satchels. During the winter, in the sub-freezing temperatures of the steppe, the galloping of the horses churned the cream and turned it into ice cream. As the Mongols conquered China, this knowledge spread and was well known by the time of Marco Polo’s little jaunt to Cathay. Other accounts tell the tale of a cook under Charles I inventing ice cream. Charles then offering the cook a lifetime pension in exchange for never giving up the recipe to the royal treat. These, however, are just myths. There is no historical evidence giving them any credence. In fact, the easiest way to trace the history of ice cream is to follow the development of refrigeration. As Chris Clarke writes in his book “The science of ice cream”, the history of ice cream can be divided into 5 stages: 1. Cooling food and drink by mixing it with snow or ice. 2. The discovery that dissolving salts in water produces cooling. 3. The discovery (and spread of knowledge) that mixing salts and snow or ice cools even further. 4. The invention of the ice cream maker in the mid-19th century. 5. The development of mechanical refrigeration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. -Chris Clarke, “The Science of Ice Cream”, page 4 Salt and ice There are no chemical reactions involved in making ice cream, but plenty of physical ones. At its core ice cream is what the name implies: very cold dairy cream. However, if we were to freeze pure cream it would just become a big, hard block of frozen dairy. Ice cream, frozen dessert, gelato In some countries, like the United States, different names are used for different kinds of frozen cream. By law, only frozen dairy desserts that have a fat content of more than 10% are allowed to be called ice cream. In other countries, like Italy, a single word is used to describe all (gelato in this case). For sake of clarity I’m going to use ice cream as a catch all term and not the more specific definition. – Photo by Alessio Damato To avoid this sugar is added to the cream. What sugar does is decrease the melting point of the mixture. By decreasing the melting point it is possible to have a solution of milk and ice with partially frozen water. The free liquid water contributes enormously to the creamy texture of ice cream. However, this causes an issue. Since the melting point of the cream and sugar mixture is lower than that of water we can’t simply use ice to freeze it. Ice, on its own, is stuck at a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit). The cream and sugar mix needs to be cooled far below that. If we were to place some cream and sugar in a container, and then submerge the container in a simple bath of ice and water, ice cream is never going to form. Which brings us to an important discovery in the realm of refrigeration: there is a way to make ice water colder than zero degrees centigrade. By adding salt. Anyone who lives in a cold climate will probably be very familiar with the effect of salt on ice. Salt is used to melt snow or ice on pavements and roads. So, if salt is added to an ice bath, it decreases its melting point. A saturated solution of ice and salt will reach a temperature of -21.1 degrees Celsius (-6 F). It is then possible to use this salted ice bath , which is at a sub-zero temperature, to freeze cream and sugar. There is a detailed description of the effect of salt on ice in an Arabic medical textbook from 1242. Around the same period a book was also published containing recipes for sorbets. This knowledge eventually spread to Italy. In the late 16th century, a Neapolitan scientist called Giambattista Della Porta “discovered” the cooling effect of a salted ice bath. This knowledge spread around Europe and by the mid-17th century it was not uncommon to be served frozen ice desserts at banquets. These desserts were still more granita-like and lacked the cream that gives the name to my favourite treat. Putting the cream in ice-cream The first written mentions of ice cream as frozen dairy appear around the end of the 17th century. Ice cream was served at a feast in Windsor in 1671 (though only at Charles II’s table). Harold McGee, in his book On Food and Cooking, reports these two old recipes for ice cream: Neige de fleurs d’orange (“Snow of Orange Flowers”) You must take sweet cream, and put thereto two handfuls of powdered sugar, and take petals of orange flowers and mince them small, and put them in your cream… and put all into a pot, and put your pot in a wine cooler; and you must take ice, crush it well and put a bed of it with a handful of salt at the bottom of the cooler before putting in the pot… And you must continue putting a layer of ice and a handful of salt, until the cooler is full and the pot covered, and you must put it in the coolest place you can find, and you must shake it from time to time for fear it will freeze into a solid lump of ice. It will take about two hours. -Nouveau Confiturier, 1682 Fromage à l’angloise (English Cheese) Take a chopine of sweet cream and the same of milk, half a pound of powdered sugar, stir in three egg yolks and boil until it becomes like a thin porridge; take it from the fire and pour it into your ice mould, and put in the ice for three hours; and when it is firm, withdraw the mold, and warm it a little, in order more easily to turn out your cheese, or else dip your mould for a moment in hot water, then serve it in a compôtier. -François Massialot, La Nouvelle instruction pour les confitures, 1692 The recipes in the sidebar show a development from the simple ice and flavouring mixtures to more complex ones involving dairy cream. Another recipe from the time detailed the ultra-rich glace au beurre — literally iced butter — which involved 40 egg yolks per litre of cream! Another important development was the realisation that constant stirring of the sugar and cream mix would decrease the size of the ice crystals. As we’ll see later, this is fundamental to the creamy texture of ice-cream. Mechanisation and mass production The next big step involves a woman called Nancy Johnson, who lived in Philadelphia in the 19th century. In 1843 she was awarded a patent for the first mechanised ice-cream maker. Until then ice-cream had to be made by hand and in small batches. It was a tedious, laborious and inefficient process. Johnson’s ice-cream maker was composed of a bucket to hold the salt and ice and a sealed cylinder for the ice cream mix. The mix could be continuously stirred by a hand-cranked rotating spatula. This design was later improved by William G Johnson of Baltimore, who added the rotation of the sealed cylinder in the brine to improve cooling. As Harold McGee puts it: “The Johnson-Young freezer allowed large quantities of ice cream to be made with simple, steady mechanical action.” The beginning of the mass production of ice cream is usually attributed to Jacob Fussell, a Baltimore milk dealer, who started using his seasonal surplus of cream to make ice cream on a grand scale, which allowed him to sell it at a far lower price. He founded the first ice cream factory in 1851 in Baltimore before expanding to New York, Washington and Boston. The advent of modern refrigeration increased the mass availability of ice cream. In fact, modern industrial ice cream freezers are not that different from the Johnson-Young machine. They still have a barrel with a rotating scraper enclosed in a cooling bath. However, the coolants used have a lower temperature than ice and salt (liquid ammonia, an often used one, has a temperature of -30 C, almost 10 degrees lower than a salted ice bath) and the barrel in which the ice cream is formed is now horizontal rather than vertical and allows for continuous use. Ice cream mix is pumped in at one end and ice cream is pumped out at the other. Since the rate of cooling is dependent on the difference between the temperature of the mix and the coolant, the lower temperature of the coolant allows faster cooling. This produces smaller ice crystals which improves texture. In fact, some restaurants offer almost-instant ice cream, made right at your table by using liquid nitrogen. As liquid nitrogen has a ridiculously low temperature (-196 C to be exact), the ice cream mix turns into ice cream almost instantly. Artisanal ice cream, like the gelato found in many Italian ice cream parlours, is still made in a batch process. The industrialisation of ice cream provided several refinements (though some might say that not all were positive ones). To achieve more and more smoothness of texture, manufacturers began to add other ingredients such as gelatin or powdered milk. In the United Kingdom, during the Second World War, the use of dairy cream to make ice cream was banned for rationing purposes. British manufacturers began using vegetable oil as a fat replacement. Even though this ban was lifted after the war, the British public had become used to the taste of vegetable oil ice cream (gross) that some manufacturers still use it. Of course, it helps that vegetable oil is also cheaper. (As a side note, British chocolate is also made with vegetable oil and not cocoa butter. Some countries have very strict requirements on what can be sold as “chocolate”. Chocolate made with vegetable oil cannot be sold as such in these countries. But that’s a topic for a different article.) Manufacturers began to add stabilisers to ice cream to ensure minimal texture disruption during transport in home freezers, which are much less stable and reliable than industrial ones. Other modern ice cream additives include emulsifiers, flavourings and colourants. (More on stabilisers and emulsifiers in the next section where we’ll have a look at the structure of ice cream). One definitely positive effect of industrialisation is the widespread use of pasteurisation, which vastly reduces the risk of spoilage and makes ice cream a safer food. The science of ice cream Ice cream, at its most basic, is composed of three elements: air bubbles created by the mixing and churning, ice crystals made of pure water, and concentrated cream that is formed as the water in the cream turns into the crystals. It is both an emulsion (a mixture of water and fat) and a foam. In fact, it contains all three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. But first, let’s have a look at the fundamental ingredient of ice cream: cream. Cream is milk that has been enriched with fat. Traditionally this process occurs naturally under the action of gravity. If milk is left to sit for a few days, the fat globules in milk will rise and form a layer at the top of the container (fat is lighter than water). This layer can be then skimmed off and either used as cream or churned to make butter. These days cream is separated from milk using centrifuges. Compared to milk, which has about equal amounts of protein and fat, cream is much fattier and richer: it has about 10 parts of fat to 1 of protein. The fat in milk and cream is suspended into globules. A membrane of phospholipids covers each globule. Phospholipids are emulsifiers and allow the fat to be soluble in water as well as keeping the globules from sticking to each other. When cream is churned, these membranes are broken and the fat can pool into a large mass: butter. Let’s get back to the micro-structure of ice cream. Ice crystals form from the water in the cream as the mix is frozen. The size of the crystals determines the smoothness of the ice cream. Large crystals will give the ice cream a coarse and grainy texture. About three quarters of the water in the mix is frozen into crystals at -18 C (0 F). The rest of the water forms a highly saturated thick liquid solution with sugars, milk proteins and stabilisers (if used). This solution forms a matrix in which the other particles are suspended. Air bubbles are introduced into the ice cream via mixing and, in some industrial processes, by directly injecting air during the freezing. Air is fundamental as it disrupts the matrix formed by the ice crystals and the cream. It makes the ice cream easier to scoop and bite into. The increase in volume due to the air bubbles is called the overrun and is measured as a percentage of the original mix volume. Obviously, the higher the overrun the less dense the ice cream. Soft-serve ice cream, for example, has an overrun of as much as 100%. Artisanal ice creams tend to to have a much lower quantity of air. Finally, the fat globules from the concentrated cream provide stability to the air bubbles and prevent their collaps, much like they do in whipped cream. They also provide plenty of creaminess and flavour. Other emulsifiers can also be added to the mix to improve the stability of ice cream. Egg yolk is also sometimes used as an emulsifier and also to add flavour. For example, “base gialla” is an Italian ice cream base which contains eggs. Stabilisers are large molecules that increase the viscosity of ice cream. This has several beneficial effects including increasing the perceived smoothness of ice cream in the mouth, reducing the rate of melting, increasing the stability of the foam as well as increasing the ease of pumping ice cream in an industrial setting. Too much stabiliser and the ice cream will be too firm and chewy. However, sometimes this may be desirable: chewy Turkish ice cream is made with the addition of a natural stabilisers. Thawing and refreezing ice cream causes the ice crystals to increase in size as they melt, coalesce and reform. Poorly stored and transported ice cream will have a very coarse and unpleasant texture. It’s always disappointing to buy ice cream at a supermarket only to find it composed of large crunchy crystals. In my experience I’ve found that different supermarkets and shops treat their ice cream with different levels of care and I avoid buying it from those I don’t trust. To make good ice cream one must consider the delicate balance of all the ingredients and how they affect the micro-structure. The less water in the mix the easier it is to make smoother ice cream. But if there is too much sugar the ice cream might end up syrupy as well as increasing the risk of sugars crystallising (which give an unpleasant texture). Too much fat and the mixing action may cause it to churn into butter. Industrial ice cream is made by first preparing the mix with the desired balance of milk solids, fat, water and additives. Then it is frozen in an industrial freezer which often also introduces air bubbles by injection. As the mix gets colder so does its viscosity. There comes a point at which the heat introduced by the mixing blades is equal to that taken away by the coolant (around -5 C). At this stage the ice cream can’t be cooled any more by the freezer and only half of the water is frozen. The ice cream is quickly extruded and hardened, often by blowing -40 C air on it. During this process some of the liquid water migrates to the already formed ice crystals. The ice cream can then be packaged or formed into a variety of shapes and confections. Serving and storing ice cream Keeping ice cream in a home freezer for a long time can alter its structure and flavour. Home freezers are sometimes not very stable: their internal temperature can fluctuate. This can cause the growth of ice crystals. It’s also possible for the fat in the ice cream to absorb off-flavours from other items in the freezers and, if dried out by the air in the freezer, can also go rancid. It’s best to store ice cream at temperatures of at least -18 C (0 F) which is a typical home freezer temperature. Industrial cold stores are usually around -25 C. When serving ice cream, it’s best to wait a little while. At a warmer temperature of -13 C the ice cream is softer (and easier to scoop). At -18 C taste buds are numbed by the cold temperature of the ice cream and can pick up less flavour. Waiting for the ice cream to thaw a bit can thus improve taste. How to (not) make ice cream at home As I was researching this article I had the idea of making ice cream at home the old-fashioned way. I don’t own an ice cream machine, but really, at its core ice cream is just milk, cream and sugar. How hard can it be? (I mean, I’ve only just spent several thousand words describing the complexity of ice cream). The project was doomed from the start. My trusty kitchen thermometer decided to take an announced vacation and measured the unsalted ice bath as a balmy 22 degrees Celsius instead of the expected 0 C. Fantastic. It meant I could’t measure how cold my salted ice bath was or if my ice cream mix was getting colder. Undeterred, I poured about 4 trays of ice cubes into a salad bowl and added a little water and a LOT of salt. Then I mixed about 500 grams of milk, 100 g of cream and 150 g of granulated sugar and poured it into a metal pot. I was trying to make an “Italian-style” ice cream, with fat content around 6-7%. I was not using any emulsifiers or stabilisers because I could not find any at the supermarket and I didn’t using egg yolk as an emulsifier because: a) I was trying to make a so-called “base bianca”, one of the ice-cream bases used by italian gelatai which can then be used to make a bunch of different flavours (including what I’m making today, stracciatella) and not “base gialla” which contains eggs b) using egg yolk would require heating the mixture up to pasteurise it and I could not really be bothered (and I wouldn’t have been able to measure the temperature anyway, stupid broken thermometer). So far, a disaster. I placed the metal pot in the ice bath and started whisking. Within seconds, much like a marriage to a stripper in Las Vegas, I realised that this was not going to work out. There is far too much ice cream mix. It would take forever and far more ice to freeze it all. I decided to pour half of the mix into an ice cube tray and placed it in the freezer. At least I would have something to compare it to once I’m done. I used ice-cube trays because I figured that thanks to the increased surface area the mix should freeze faster than if i just froze it in a big bowl. Faster freezing should mean smaller crystals. I kept on working on the mix in the metal pot. I whisked, I stirred vigorously. At some point, it looked like it was getting a bit thicker but I couldn’t really tell for sure. I added more ice, more salt and keep whisking. Nothing. Forty-five minutes in, all I had was boredom, a sore wrist and a metal pot with some slightly cold sugary milk. Boredom won out and I decided to mix in some chopped chocolate and pour what I have into another ice-cube tray and stick it in the freezer. A couple of hours later, the moment of truth. Have you ever had milk ice cubes? Because that is exactly what I made. It actually tastes quite nice. Milky and sugary. It’s a shame that the crystals are enormous. It’s not creamy or chewy at all. I do find another use for the “ice-cream” cubes. They make a pretty good iced cappuccino. Lessons learned: There is a reason why we use emulsifiers and stabilisers in ice cream. An ice bath is useless if you can’t tell how cold it is. Making ice cream is more difficult than just freezing some milk, cream and sugar. Don’t let my misadventure dissuade you from making ice cream at home. With a little more preparation and care it’s definitely possible. Also, now I’m hungry for ice cream. -Francesco References and further reading
It looks like the Left will have a big, dragged-out fight over what exactly constitutes their philosophy and agenda. I am a conservative, but if I can offer my liberal friends advice, it is this: drop your misguided pursuit of a multicultural society. It will continue to get you nothing but heartache. Let me hasten to add that I don’t mean a multiethnic society, obviously. That exists, and in fact it has always existed in America. Only cranks would decry it. No, I mean multiculturalism, the idea that several cultures and national identities should co-exist under one American roof and even be cultivated by our government and institutions. The bureaucracy creates multiple cultural groups out of thin air (Hispanics, Asians, soon to come: Middle-East and North-African Americans), and before you know it they acquire ascribed statuses and group rights, and even their own congressional districts. America meanwhile drifts further in an ethnic proportional system akin to Lebanon’s. We have certainly had our problems recently, but this is not the model we want to follow. The people promoting this view are blowing through the historical compromise that allowed America to remain united and have a strong national identity even as it took in immigrants. That was called assimilation. Multiculturalism Is About Amassing Power for Elites The opposite, victimhood-mongering, has taken its place. To maintain intra-group solidarity, group members must be told again and again that the nation represses them. Group dissenters are to be treated as sympathetically as Snowball in “Animal Farm” or Piggy in “Lord of the Flies.” It doesn’t take too deep a study of how the multicultural raj in America has been erected and maintained to understand that its stated purpose is transferring power among groups. Antonio Gramsci’s cultural Marxism and Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” are the lodestars. In the long term, their embrace of such a multicultural dystopia erodes the social solidarity that liberals used to cherish. In the medium term, it will continue to beget societal angst. In the short term, living by the multicultural handbook cost Hillary Clinton the election. When the Left decides to hit the pause button on its current massive freak-out about how this election was a “whitelash” against the “browning” of America, it should ask itself some hard questions. Sound liberal minds may want to ask, for example, if the angst that roiled the country had to do with immigrants per se or with the balkanization our leaders have been promoting. Identity Politics Is a Double-Edged Sword Even if we can agree that adding millions of immigrants after a long lull would have created unease under the best of circumstances, we should also agree that reversing assimilation and forcing immigrants into subnational identities only stoked the normal anxieties of the people already here. People tend to care about national identity, and when you mess with it, you get the identity crisis that has hit the West like a tsunami. Clinton and the Democrats’ inability to speak to millions of working-class white Americans is one consequence of the diversity mess they have created. If only they had read some of their own, they would have gotten the message. Thomas Edsall at The New York Times and former senator Jim Webb have been sounding the alarm for years on how the Democratic Party dropped blue-collar whites. Clinton didn’t even get the “minority” groups on which the whole “majority-minority” architecture relies. African-American voters didn’t show up in high numbers, and 8 percent voted for Trump. When you live by the sword, you die by it. Cuban-Americans helped deliver Florida to Trump, as I demonstrate here. So rather than riot, cry in a safe space, or move to Canada, the adults in the liberal room should raise the question of whether it was a good idea to abandon an economic-based analysis of social ills in favor of an ethnic-based view of the country that old-time liberals would have found repugnant. But if liberals don’t want to follow my advice, I can assure them we conservatives will be discussing this when we do our own self-assessment.
Assemblymember Jesse Kiehl was recently elected to the State Senate Seat for District Q and will be taking office in January 2019. In anticipation of his resignation from the District 1 City and Borough of Juneau Assembly seat, the Assembly will be accepting Letters of Interest and Declaration of Candidacy forms beginning November 30, 2018 through close of business on January 2, 2019. While it is unusual to announce the anticipated resignation of an Assembly member, the goal is to advise the public in a manner that allows ample time for citizens to consider serving on the Assembly. Residents eligible for the District 1 seat must live in Downtown Juneau, Douglas, North Douglas, Lemon Creek or the Airport area. If you have questions about which Assembly District you reside in, please contact the Clerk’s Office to confirm your eligibility! Per the CBJ Code 11.10.040(a), the appointed candidate will serve “until the next regularly scheduled election” in October of 2019, at which time the District 1 seat will be placed on the municipal ballot for the remaining year of the term. The Declaration of Candidacy forms are available by clicking here or in hardcopy at the Municipal Clerk’s office. In addition to the requirement to file a Declaration of Candidacy form and Letter of Interest, the person appointed to the District 1 Assembly seat will be required to file an Alaska Public Offices Commission Public Official Financial Disclosure Statement within 30 days of taking office. For more […]
In 1860, an ill-fated Pony Express rider, whose name has been lost to history, was crossing the trackless wastes of Nevada when he vanished, likely killed by Indians. Two years later, in May 1862, the mail pouch from that doomed mission, still containing letters bound for the East, was recovered. Today, only a few remnants from the contents of that saddlebag survive. Among them is an envelope—a rare artifact of the mid-19th-century’s legendary Pony Express mail service, founded 150 years ago. (The letter that was inside has long since disappeared.) The philatelic treasure will reside on long-term loan at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum (NPM). Recently, the envelope’s owner, William H. Gross, a passionate stamp collector since childhood, donated funds for a new 12,000-square-foot gallery at the museum, scheduled to open in 2012. The envelope will take pride of place in the new exhibition space. “There are only two pieces of what collectors call ‘interrupted mail’ from the Pony Express known to exist, and they were in that rider’s pouch,” says NPM curator Daniel Piazza. The concept of expedited mail delivery by a relay of single riders on fast horses—a kind of grass-fueled FedEx—echoed the vision that won the West. Established in April 1860, the Pony Express failed to win a major contract from the federal government and was replaced by a stagecoach line after only 18 months. Yet its bravado has colored the mail service ever since. The transcontinental delivery system was marvelous in its simplicity. Across 1,900 miles, at 186 stations between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, fresh horses awaited carriers who rode at full gallop in 10- to 12-mile segments (judged to be the maximum distance that a good mount could maintain a speedy clip). At each station, the rider leapt off one horse and onto the next, then sped on. The tough, wiry horsemen covered up to 125 miles at a stretch—a punishing pace that commanded a then-substantial salary of $25 per week. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and James “Wild Bill” Hickok boasted they had earned their spurs as young Express riders. “Or so they claimed,” says Piazza. (There is no evidence that either did so.) The rare 1860 envelope attests that hard riding was not the most daunting aspect of the job. Routes passed through deserted, often forbidding, territory. A note scrawled on the front of the artifact alludes to its tragic backstory: “Recovered from a [sic] mail stolen by the Indians in 1860.” The nameless victim is thought to have been the only Pony Express rider killed, though a few station agents died when Indians attacked their outposts. The letter at last reached its destination—a New York City business recorded only as Fred Probst & Co.—in August 1862. Says Piazza: “So much happened between when the letter was sent and when it arrived—Lincoln’s election, the secession crisis, the beginning of the Civil War.” (In March 1861, the Pony Express set a record for transcontinental delivery—7 days 17 hours—when riders carried Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Address to the West Coast.) The envelope bears an oval stamp that reads “The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company,” the enterprise that administered the Pony Express. It had disbanded nine months before, on October 26, 1861. The envelope also bears a basic 10-cent stamp, which normally would have meant a two-month trip, as the letter traveled from San Francisco by ship down the West Coast, across the isthmus of Panama and by sea up the East Coast to New York City. The additional cost for Pony Express service—guaranteed to reach the East Coast in about 12 days—was $5 (roughly $133 in today’s currency) per half-ounce. Ultimately, says Piazza, even the envelope’s stamp, with its image of George Washington, offers a history lesson. “Although the letter was delivered,” he says, “the 10-cent stamp was no longer valid. At the beginning of the [Civil] War, all existing postal stamps were demonetized so the Confederacy couldn’t use them.” Owen Edwards is a freelance writer and author of the book Elegant Solutions
A 15-year-old girl was crushed under the wheels of a car driven by eve-teasers after they failed to drag her inside the vehicle, in Shiva Ji Nagar, Nazirabad in Kanpur on Sunday. The Class 11 student suffered multiple fractures in her leg and was admitted to KMC hospital, where she narrated the incident to her family on gaining consciousness after an hour of admission. One accused was identified as Mohammad Zafar, son of noted builder, Mohammad Shakeel. He fled from the scene along with his accomplice after the incident, leaving the car behind. Police reluctantly registered an FIR on charges of stalking and assaulting the girl with intent to outrage her modesty. They, however, could not make any arrest. The girl, who resides in Shastri Nagar, was returning on her bicycle from tuition classes in Lajpat Nagar when the miscreants intercepted her and tried to drag her inside their car. The girl fell on ground and raised an alarm. However, before help could arrive, the eve-teasers crushed her under the wheels of their car and left her seriously injured. Later, passers-by took her to hospital On getting information about the incident, the girl’s family members rushed to the hospital from where they called the police, but the cops reached only after three hours. The girl also told her family that the miscreants had been stalking her since many days. First Published: Nov 10, 2013 23:05 IST
One day before the Senate votes whether to begin debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act, President Trump called the 2010 law “death” and a “nightmare” that has wreaked havoc on the lives of Americans. Speaking from the Blue Room in the White House Monday, Trump argued that Republicans who fail to support the motion to proceed on repealing the health care law will be supporting the existing law in essence. “The question for every Senator, Democrat or Republican, is whether they will side with Obamacare’s architects, which have been so destructive to our country, or with its forgotten victims,” he said. “Any Senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare.” Trump seemed to have an endless supply of insults for the Affordable Care Act and the promise of reforming the healthcare system, which he called a “big, fat, ugly lie.” He labeled Democrats “obstructionists” for not supporting legislation to overturn the Affordable Care Act, though Republicans have the majority in both chambers and need just 50 votes to pass the bill. The Brief Newsletter Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now. View Sample Sign Up Now The Senate is poised to vote on repeal and replace legislation this week, though it is not exactly clear which version of the bill will be up for a vote. The Senate effort is facing an uphill battle regardless, given some Republicans feelings on the bill who are wary about some of the bills’ proposals. President Trump, however, intensified the pressure he has been adding to the healthcare debate via Twitter during his fiery speech on Monday afternoon. “The American people have waited long enough. There has been enough talk and no action. Now is the time for action,” he said. “Obamacare has broken our healthcare system. It’s broken. It’s gone.” President Trump issued a warning to Republicans on Twitter on Sunday, saying the “repercussions will be far greater than any of them understand” if the GOP does not repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Contact us at editors@time.com.
Troubled nonprofit asks Oakland for 2nd bailout An Oakland nonprofit that has controlled millions of dollars in federal job training funds despite a troubled history is counting on city officials to help bail it out of its financial gloom. The Oakland Private Industry Council, which Oakland officials contract to run the city’s federally funded job training program, says it needs more public money to continue offering those job training services through June 30. But the Industry Council told the city it was having financial difficulty due to a reduction in funding and depletion of reserves and that its staff had lost wages in the past several years. City staffers are recommending that the City Council vote Tuesday night to award the nonprofit a $250,000 grant. It’s the second such bailout the Private Industry Council has requested to sustain employment services it offers under the federal Workforce Investment Act, a program intended to assist job seekers, laid-off workers, youths, veterans, persons with disabilities and employers. Last year the council granted $50,000 with no stated intent or expected outcome, according to a staff report from the city administrator’s office. But the nonprofit has had its share of problems. A 2010 state audit showed that it mishandled nearly $1 million in federal stimulus funds that the city had allowed the nonprofit to manage. Under the Private Industry Council’s management, money intended for job creation was instead spent by other nonprofits on field trips to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, church repairs and car allowances, among other things. In addition to those problems, records from the state’s Registry of Charitable Trusts show the Private Industry Council has failed to file tax forms on time. President raised concerns The city has repeatedly considered the group for grant money that no other nonprofit could hope to get, said former Council President Pat Kernighan, who was the lone “no” vote on the $50,000 grant last year. At a June 2014 council meeting to approve the grant, Kernighan said it was unprecedented for city officials to set aside money for a group and expect nothing in return. Scores of well-intentioned nonprofits contract with the city to do all kinds of work, she said, and if the city handed over money to one of them, the rest would expect the same treatment. “My concern with this is that we set a precedent whereby every single one of these nonprofits is now coming to the city and saying, ‘Well gee, I did a lot of work, and you didn’t pay me the full value of it,’” Kernighan said at the meeting last year. Members of the council’s Community and Economic Development committee initially directed the city administrator to address the Industry Council’s funding gap at their March 24 meeting. Interim city administrator John Flores, said he recognized the value of the program and the emergency at hand. He cautioned the Industry Council to live within its means, noting it was the second year there had been a problem. Private Industry Council CEO Gay Plair Cobb could not be reached for comment, but in statements filed with the city she argues that the money is not a grant, but rather money owed to the nonprofit because of poor city practices. In a memo submitted to the council on May 19, the Industry Council claimed the city failed to determine how much money the group needed to manage the federal job training program that the city entrusts the nonprofit to do. “As a result, the funding available under various RFPs has been arbitrary and without foundation either legally or by simple acknowledgment and analysis of the real costs of providing workforce services in the City of Oakland,” the memo states. It went on to accuse the city of poor budgeting, causing a financial gap that Industry Council members claimed they had covered for years. Yet Kernighan wasn’t the only elected official to say that the organization, and not the city, has a poor track record for managing money. Management questioned City Auditor Brenda Roberts also questioned the Private Industry Council’s ability to manage the millions in public funds it receives each year. According to the group’s tax filing in 2012, it received more than $50 million from various government sources between 2008 and 2012. “I share staff’s concerns that OPIC has not stayed within their authorized budget and now requires additional funding to meet their contractual obligations to the City,” Roberts wrote in a memo to the mayor, city council and city administrator in May. Roberts suggested that if the $250,000 grant is approved Tuesday, a portion of it should be used to hire a professional accountant to help the Private Industry Council deal with its internal financial controls. The Private Industry Council balked at the suggestion. In its memo, it touted the organization’s 30-year history of managing public and private resources. “We find the city administrator’s recommendation regarding involvement of the City Auditor in this matter to be perhaps well-intentioned, but certainly misguided,” read a statement from the Industry Council to the City Council. Rachel Swan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: rswan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @rachelswan
Bort's Life or Death Variants The threat of losing your character is one of the most import fears a player faces. In a world of magic its often lost exactly how impactful and threatening a situation should be. Easy access to healing, resurrection and quick recovery of your resources means a marathon adventure is rarely the tiresome, troubling and grueling undertaking it was designed to be. The following rule changes are certainly imperfect but the design goal I set out for myself was one where players can think hard on a choice to continue, rest or retreat and treat the threat of falling unconscious and dying with the gravity it should warrant. I will present change to the following three areas of the game, that work together to hopefully drive a grittier story without being overly unfair to the players: Hit Points Rest and Recovery Resurrection Hit Points Level 1 At first level, characters are extremely frail. The game has devised a series of fractional Challenge Ratings for these characters to face but most of them are capable with a single roll bringing a character down. This is by design I believe to drive the feeling of fragility of low level characters and a feeling of dread. My umbrage with this situation is that randomness is often the most important factor in an outcome instead of player ingenuity and careful decision making. It also creates a dichotomy of how the game works between early levels and the rest of the game. I believe a little padding is better, to allow the randomness to regress to the mean - while sometimes good and bad luck swing the situation, every roll isn't a potential death knell. Level 1 Hit Points When you generate your characters, instead of receiving your Level 1 hit points as your maximum Hit Die value + Your Constitution Modifier, your starting Hit Points are your maximum Hit Die + Constitution Score. This is functionally going to raise most hit point totals from between 10 and 12 points. Your level 1 Wizard with a 12 Constitution will have 18 Hit Points and your level 1 Barbarian with 16 Constitution will have 28 Hit Points. By level 3, with average hit points, they will have 28 and 48 hit points respectively. Falling Unconscious Dropping to zero hitpoints is a big deal. Concussive blows, a loss of blood, and other injuries render you in capable of remaining concious. It should be a dire moment for characters, but often its immediacy is lost. Players are going to fall unconscious and normally no one really worries until death saving throws start going the wrong way. I love the death saving throw, it's a great mechanic that if left unattended gives you a 60/40 chance to survive or die. While it is often lessened by the availability of bonus action healing from a distance, it does a good job of providing a buffer to death. DMs can threaten to kill a player while they are down, but I find that doesn't end well for your game if used regularly, it's easy to wait and only worry when you actually fear the final failure if healing isn't available but I instead prefer the tension and consequence to exist on every roll. Failing Death Saving Throws When you fail a Death Saving Throw you character takes a level of exhaustion. Denote this level as coming from a Death Saving Throw. The effects are the same as normal exhaustion including eventual death, but for every 1 hour of rest a level of temporary exhaustion is removed and a Lesser Restoration Spell can remove 1 level of temporary exhaustion. It's not death when you fail your first Death Saving Throw, but it has a consequence and if you are brought back up to a handful of hit points and go down again you are back at risk of gaining more exhaustion. Enough levels and your party is faced with the conundrum of finding a place to rest up or continuing forward with a weakened member. It's equally important though that this complication is recoverable in a reasonable period of time. Furthermore allowing lesser restoration provides a way similar to healing spells for players to expend their resources to keep pushing forward. The greatest design risk here is that you put those able to cast restoration into a position where they are further expected to lose their resources because their allies were too reckless in combat. Rest and Recovery Today the game breaks rests into 2 parts, Short Rest for an hour or Long Rest for 8 hours, once per day. Players fall back on rests to recover their resources some and push forward. A Long rest is basically a hard reset for most situations restoring almost everything and a short rest is a chance to recover hit points and recharge many abilities. Shorter Than Short Rests Recovering hit points after encounters with Hit Dice is one of the better rules of this edition. It is less taxing for classes with healing spells and allows a recovery resource regardless of your party mix. Sometimes combats go really well, other times they go sideways and being able to spend Hit Dice after a bad combat is major boon to being able to complete dungeons or other series of encounters. 1 Sometimes the idea of taking an entire hour is a bit much; an hour is a long time and greatly increases the chances of danger wandering past you or delays you in a hurried attempt to reach your goal. It serves its duty in recovering class abilities but sometimes you just need a few hit points more to continue and for that in my games I've implemented an alternative. Take A Breather After an encounter your characters can take a "Breather". You spend 5 minutes or so straitening your armor, catching your breath and refocusing. You can spend up to half your hit dice, minimum one, during this time to recover hit points as normal. This additional "Rest" option is less crucial to the feel of these alternative rules, but its an example of something I think gives back to the players. At times these rules will make some parts of the game harder so at times I hope they can make some parts of the game easier as well. Returning to the Inn The long rest is the coveted full recovery save point of 5th Edition. You get back all your hit points, all your abilities. Exhaustion, Resurrection Penalties and spent Hit Dice are the only thing your party doesn't get back. Why not ? These are all things in the game designed to portray the physical rigor your characters are undergoing that a night's rest cannot remove. I've always found it weird you can recover 99% of your hit points but only 50% of your Hit Dice. A Long Rest should be refreshing but anyone who has ever had a grueling day of physical activity can tell you, one night is rarely all it takes to recover. Characters need their abilities to feel like they contribute so I would not touch those but higher Hit Point totals is often the reward for good decisions so they should be a bit more scarce. Recovering Hit Points When you finish a Long Rest you recover a number of hit points equal to your Constitution Score, additionally if you spend hit dice at the end of the long rest the minimum number of hit points you regain from the roll equlas twice your Constitution modidier(minimum 2) [As The Durable Feat]. This replaces the existing rule that you recover all your Hit Points when you finish a Long Rest. You still recover Hit Dice at the end of a long rest, but instead of recovering half round down, instead recover half rounded up. You can benefit from above rule on expending hit dice on a long rest before and after you regain hit dice for the rest. It's important that recovery is still happening when you take a long rest so we give you Constitution Score in hit points. Rounding up Hit Dice recover helps players at 3rd and 5th level when your pools are fairly small. The rule about minimum average hit points basically allows you to ensure a better hit point recovery on a Long Rest and expending all your Hit Dice should heal you to full. In all it might take up to 3 days for you to actually full recover from a grueling day of adventuring but then you should be back to full strength. If you could only muster a night in the woods then you are more vulnerable by not having the depth of hit points and recovery available to you, but you additional class resources will certainly help your forge your path forward still. Resurrection Life's a bitch, then you die. Or is it ? After making it more dangerous to let your friends bleed out and more difficult to come back from the brink of death with a night's sleep - what purpose would it really serve if death itself is an afterthought? Resurrection spells are easier than ever and in a world with little use for gold are surprisingly cheaper than ever. Revivify The revivify spell is probably one of most game changing spells in 5th edition. It is an exaggeration of how magic can strip the fear of death from the game. Sure at 5th level you only have 2 3rd level spells and it costs 300 gold, which is often a decent amount of money at that level but soon both of those become trivial. It allows you to address the death up to 1 minute later which is longer than many entire combats and comes with no side effects. So you died and you are back, spend some of those hit dice and then pretend it never happened. The history of resurrection spells is that they are difficult to obtain and costly. Revivify, which premiered in 3.5 in the popular but often bizarre Miniatures Handbook, used to take the same 5th level spell slot as Raise Dead and require you cast it within 1 action of that person dying and you had to touch them. This meant someone had to give up their turn, be in reach and they stayed unconscious, if someone wanted to heal them it was another action. Its my belief resurrection needs a steeper cost - financially and mechanically. Revivify is on the top of the list. Rather than publish all new spell descriptions I am just going to describe the differences. Revivify Revivify now requires concentration up to 1 round [similar to True Strike] and allows you as an action to resurrect someone, restoring them to 1 hitpoint. The material cost (consumable) is being raised to 500gp of diamonds. The target takes a -1 Penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws and ability checks; a weakened version of the penalty of Raise Dead removed upon finishing a long rest. These changes don't make access to Revivify that much harder, but it does three important things. First its a bit more expensive and a party would likely have had to invest more into its reagents, particularly to have multiple uses. Second by requiring an additional action and giving a concentration hold over similar to True Strike, its made the commitment to resurrecting someone in the midst of combat more demanding and harder. There are still edgecases where a multiclass fighter with action surge or a sorcerer with quicken could resurrect in 1 round and I like that. Lastly the minor Resurrection penalty isn't awful but its a consequence. 2
Popular male group EXO will be releasing their first ever concert album, titled EXOLOGY Chapter 1: The Lost World, in just a few days. It will contain tracks of their live performances from their Seoul concert. EXO held the 3-day concert, EXO FROM. EXOPLANET #1 – THE LOST PLANET – in SEOUL, between May 23rd and 25th at the Olympic Park Gymnasium Stadium in Seoul. Recordings of their live and exciting performances were taken to allow fans to relive the excitement of the concert again. Tracks to be featured on the live album includes “Growl,” “Overdose,” “Black Pearl,” “Love, Love, Love,” “Wolf,” and more, for a total of 36 tracks across 2CDs. The concert album is set to be released on December 22nd, which will follow EXO’s newest upcoming track “December, 2014,” a track for EXO-L’s from the group to be released on December 19th. “December, 2014” is a track that will also be featured in the mobile rhythm game, Superstar SMTOWN. Meanwhile, EXO is set to perform in Osaka as part of their tour on December 22nd until the 24th. Source: OSEN
The name change follows the acquisition of Leighton by Spanish construction group ACS a year ago, and the subsequent restructure of the company. "The board considers that the change of name is appropriate to support the transformation to the new operating model," the company said in its notice for the shareholder meeting. "The new name intends to provide a better representation of what we are and do." Leighton also plans to change its ticker symbol on the Australian Securities Exchange to "CIM" from "LEI". The name change will require the approval of at least 75 per cent of votes cast by eligible shareholders. ACS currently controls 70 per cent of Leighton via its ownership of Leighton's majority shareholder Hochtief. Leighton's board, which is chaired by its chief executive Marcelino Fernández Verdes, has already approved the name change.
Announced this a while back, stating that the idea had to swirl in my mind like a fine wine. A bunch of commissions came up and gave me ample time to do this, basically, and then I actually went ahead and did it. I wanted to do an effort piece involving Octavia and Vinyl Scratch for a long while. Yes, there was "In Honor of Princess Luna", but that one was primarily focused on Vinyl Scratch, with Octavia stashed in the background. Also, Octavia is one of my favorite background ponies, so it makes sense that I wanted to do a proper rendition of her as well. Fairly early on I had this idea to do a yin-'n'-yang sort of thing, but I wasn't sure how to go about doing that. In the end, it came out nicely, if I may say so myself. Also, I'm aware that there still some ambiguity on Vinyl Scratch's name, which alternatively DJ-P0N-3.
Locals in the picturesque southwest Colorado town of Durango wondered what “Durango” FOX News was talking about, as the Herald’s Shane Benjamin reports: The story, headlined “Legalized marijuana turns Colorado resort town into homeless magnet,” was the most-read U.S. story Wednesday on www.FoxNews.com. It was written by Joseph J. Kolb, a Fox contributor who was in town for a soccer shootout last weekend, according to those he interviewed. For his 850-word piece, Kolb quoted five sources: a man holding a cardboard sign; a gift shop manager; an anonymous hotel clerk; Durango Police Chief Kamran Afzal; and Tim Walsworth, executive director of Durango Business Improvement District, In an interview Wednesday, Walsworth took exception with Kolb and his story, saying the reporter barely identified himself, omitted comments that didn’t fit his angle and based the article on a few opinions. The result was a superficial glance at an issue in a community the writer was passing through, those who talked to him said. “I question the credibility of the reporter,” Walsworth said. And he wasn’t the only one: “Just this year there has been a major influx of people between 20 to 30 who are just hanging out on the streets,” [gift shop owner Caleb] Preston was quoted as saying. “The problem is while many are pretty mellow, there are many more who are violent.” Preston said he didn’t say those exact words, and his comments centered around the idea that panhandling has risen to the forefront of public discourse; not that the problem has become worse. [Pols emphasis] The consensus seems to be that FOX News reporter Joseph Kolb was determined to write a story about how legal marijuana had turned Durango into a “haven for recreational pot users” regardless of what local sources actually told him. And sure enough, Kolb’s portrayal of Durango is nothing any of us who have been there would recognize: The picturesque town near the New Mexico border, once a vibrant, upscale community dotted with luxury hotels, is being overrun by panhandlers – thanks, in part, to the legalization of marijuana. The town suddenly became a haven for recreational pot users, drawing in transients, panhandlers and a large number of homeless drug addicts, according to officials and business owners. Many are coming from New Mexico, Arizona and even New York. So folks, let us reassure from personal experience that Durango is very much still a “vibrant, upscale community,” and the luxury hotels are busy in all four seasons. We recommend the historic Strater Hotel downtown, though it’s far from the only choice. There is absolutely no appearance along Durango’s Main Avenue that the place is being “overrun” by homeless folks in town for pot or anything else. In short, the entire story is textbook FOX News cockamamie bullshit. We sincerely hope this misinformation doesn’t do anything to harm Durango’s tourism economy–and to help make sure it doesn’t, we’re booking a weekend at the Strater. We encourage you all to do the same.
Take a look at the ad below and ask whether the National Rifle Association can go any lower. Ponder this flagrant call for violence, this insidious advocacy of hate delivered with a sneer, this threat of civil war, this despicable use of propaganda to arouse rebellion against the rule of law and the ideals of democracy. On the surface this is a recruitment video for the National Rifle Association. But what you are really about to see is a call for white supremacy and armed insurrection, each word and image deliberately chosen to stir the feral instincts of troubled souls who lash out in anger and fear: Disgusting. Dishonorable. Dangerous. But also deliberate. Everything deplored by the NRA in the ad is committed by “they” — a classic manipulation turning anyone who disagrees with your point of view into “The Other” — something alien, evil, foreign. “They use their media to assassinate real news,” “They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler,” “They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.” “And then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance.” Well, we all know who “they” are, don’t we? This is the vitriol that has been spewed like garbage since the days of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, blasted from lynch mobs and demagogues and fascistic factions of political parties that turn racial and religious minorities into grotesque caricatures, the better to demean and diminish and dominate. It is the nature of such malevolent human beings to hate those whom they have injured, and the NRA has enabled more injury to more marginalized and vulnerable people than can be imagined. Note how the words “guns” or “firearms” are never mentioned once in the ad and yet we know that the NRA is death on steroids. And behind it are the arms merchants — the gun makers and gun sellers — who profit from selling automatic rifles to deranged people who shoot down politicians playing intramural baseball, or slaughter children in their classrooms in schools named Sandy Hook, or who massacre black folks at Bible study in a Charleston church, or murderously infiltrate a gay nightclub in Orlando. Watching this expertly produced ad, we thought of how the Nazis produced slick propaganda like this to demonize the Jews, round up gypsies and homosexuals, foment mobs, burn books, crush critics, justify torture and incite support for state violence. It’s the crack in the Liberty Bell, this ad: the dropped stitch in the American flag, the dregs at the bottom of the cup of freedom. It’s a Trump-sized lie invoked to bolster his base, discredit critics, end dissent. Joseph McCarthy must be smiling in hell at such a powerful incarnation on earth of his wretched, twisted soul. With this savage ad, every Democrat, every liberal, every person of color, every immigrant or anyone who carries a protest sign or raises a voice in disagreement becomes a target in the diseased mind of some tormented viewer. Heavily armed Americans are encouraged to lock and load and be ready for the ballistic solution to any who oppose the systematic looting of Washington by an authoritarian regime led by a deeply disturbed barracuda of a man who tweets personal insults, throws tantrums and degrades everything he touches. Look again at the ad. Ask yourself: What kind of fools are they at the NRA to turn America into a killing ground for sport? To be choked with hate is a terrible fate, and it is worst for those on whom it is visited.
Doug Layton, a Birmingham radio legend who had a part in a Beatles-record-burning campaign in the 1960s and for nearly 30 years was in the broadcast booth for some of the University of Alabama's classic football victories, died Wednesday night in his Vestavia Hills home. Mr. Layton, who had battled cancer for the past two and a half years, was 81. In 1966, Mr. Layton and Tommy Charles, his radio partner at Birmingham station WAQY-AM, made international news when they encouraged their listeners to burn their Beatles records in a public bonfire after John Lennon was quoted as saying the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Although no such bonfire was ever reported in Birmingham, Mr. Layton's notoriety for his role in the ban-the-Beatles protest followed him throughout the rest of his career, his wife, Villeta Layton, said. "He would rather not talk about it," Mrs. Layton said this week. "He would roll his eyes (when he was asked about it). It was something that was said at the time, and it just ballooned. "When that anniversary comes up every year, they call him from the BBC to talk about it. One year, they were going to fly him to England to be interviewed, but he didn't do it." Later, as a color analyst and pre-game host on the Alabama football radio broadcasts from 1969 to 2001 , Mr. Layton called some of the iconic games and moments in Crimson Tide football history, including Paul "Bear" Bryant's 315th career win in 1981 and Van Tiffin's 52-yard field goal to beat Auburn in 1985. Two of Mr. Layton's personal favorite games, his wife said, were the Tide's 1971 season-opening upset of Southern California, the game in which Bryant secretly unveiled the wishbone offense that would dominate a decade, and the Sugar Bowl thrashing of a brash Miami squad to capture the 1992 national championship. "He loved Alabama so," Mrs. Layton said. "It was his heart. When he found out that his cancer had spread, he said, 'If I could just make it to the (upcoming) Wisconsin game on Sept. 5.' . . . He loved to keep up with them. He loved to support them any way he could." Jerry Duncan, who was part of the Alabama radio team with Mr. Layton for more than 20 years, said Mr. Layton's dry wit brought color and levity to the broadcasts. Duncan recalled one especially memorable moment in Knoxville before an Alabama-Tennessee game. "When you went to Knoxville, they had this ol' coon dog they would bring out; his name was Smokey," Duncan said. "Anyway, I was down on the field and Doug and I were talking. And while we were talking, the handler of the coon dog came out of the tunnel. "And I said, 'Doug, down on the other end of the field, I see ol' Smokey coming out. And Doug said, 'Yeah, if I had my 30-aught-6, I could drop him from here.' " In the broadcast booth, Mr. Layton worked alongside a trio of Crimson Tide play-by-play announcers -- - first John Forney, then Paul Kennedy, and finally, Eli Gold -- and his career spanned the coaching stints of Paul Bryant, Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Gene Stallings, Mike DuBose and Dennis Franchione. "Traveling around with John Forney and Doug Layton was like traveling with two movie stars," Duncan said. "You go into an airport, and everybody recognized Doug Layton and John Forney. "They were icons," he added. "(Alabama) made a run in the '70s there when they won over 100 games in 10 years, and I don't think that had ever been done before. And Doug and John were a huge part of that. . . . They were the voice of Alabama football, at a period of time where Alabama, at that time, was at its greatest height." For 11 years, Mr. Layton also doubled as the radio play-by-play announcer for Alabama basketball games, and although football was his first love, he knew his basketball, too, former Tide basketball coach Wimp Sanderson said. "He lived and died Alabama football, and to some extent, he was very interested in basketball," Sanderson said. "He was an Alabama guy through and through." After one particular down year on the court, Mr. Layton good-naturedly ribbed Sanderson in the locker room at Birmingham Country Club before a charity golf tournament. "This is probably not funny to anybody else but me," Sanderson recalled. "But I was in one stall and he was in the other, and he said, 'Do you think you can teach them to dribble?' " After Mr. Layton retired from the Crimson Tide radio team following the 2001 football season, his wife said, he remained a Tide fan, but being in the press box all those years spoiled him. "He sat in the stands one time after that, and it was kind of raucous,'' she said. "He said, 'I don't think I like this.' For 32 years, he had been in the press box. So they presented him with a lifetime pass to sit in the press box. Since 2002, that's where we've been watching the games." A ham at heart, Mr. Layton also was somewhat of a thespian, appearing in nearly a dozen plays and musicals for director Irving Stern at the Jewish Community Center and playing Big Jule alongside Joe Namath's Sky Masterson in a Summerfest production of "Guys and Dolls" in 1982. Singing, though, was not necessarily Mr. Layton's strong suit. "Doug has a nice voice, but he can't carry a tune," his wife said. "After one of his shows, the review came out in the newspaper, and they said there were eight beautiful voices and Doug Layton was funny." Mr. Layton was born Douglas William Layton in Sylacauga in 1933, and he played football, baseball and basketball at B.B. Comer High School. When he was 15, he got his start in radio hosting an afternoon show called "Digging with Doug" on his hometown station WMLS-AM. After attending Jacksonville State University and serving in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Layton was on the radio in Montgomery before he came to Birmingham to be a disc jockey at Top 40 station WSGN-AM in 1960. He subsequently teamed with Tommy Charles, first at WYDE-AM and then at WAQY-AM, where they launched their Beatles protest. "It's one of my first memories," recalled J. Willoughby, whose father, John Ed Willoughby, became Mr. Layton's radio partner years later. "I was real young, 5 or 6 years old. I was such a Beatles fan even back then. I remember thinking it was mandatory that, if you lived in Birmingham, you had to go burn your Beatles records. And then my mom told me that was not the case, that I didn't have to go burn my Beatles records if I didn't want to." Neither did Charles or Mr. Layton. A city ordinance banned any such public bonfires, Willoughby said. "Doug said he could have made a fortune in all of the Beatles albums that people sent him to burn that they didn't actually burn," Willoughby said. "And Doug always liked the Beatles, too. He kind of went along with Tommy on that, as far as I could tell." Nearly three decades later, after Charles died in 1996, Mr. Layton teamed with John Ed Willoughby, who also had been Charles' on-air partner, to co-host a morning radio show on WERC-AM and later on WAPI-AM. They were on the radio together for nearly 20 years, and in more recent years, after retiring from their morning weekday routine, they continued to host a Saturday-morning sports-talk show on WJOX-AM and WYDE-FM. Mr. Layton's death comes less than four months after his on- and off-the-air buddy John Ed Willoughby died in March. And with their passing, so, too, went another link to Birmingham's past. "It's a bygone era," J. Willoughby , John Ed's son, said. "The thing about Dad and Doug's show, the one they did on Saturdays, it was just them. They didn't have a producer or anything. And it was no- holds barred. "It was the last remnant of just old-school, turn-the-mikes-on, let-the-phones-go Birmingham radio. It was just neighbors (talking). People felt comfortable hearing their voices." Mr. Layton is survived by his wife of 53 years, Villeta Layton; a daughter, Tyler Layton; a son, Doug Layton Jr.; two sisters, Delores Layton Andrews and Dorothy Layton Brown; and a brother, James Dale Layton. A celebration ceremony for Mr. Layton will be at 10 a.m. Monday, July 20, at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church, 2061 Kentucky Ave. Visitation with family and friends will follow the service in the church sanctuary. UPDATED at 4:54 CDT on Thursday, July 16, 2015, to add information about Mr. Layton's celebration ceremony.
MONTREAL -- Toronto FC is the best team in MLS right now, and really, it isn't even close. The Reds pulled into first place in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, following their 2-1 win in Orlando, and while two Western clubs -- FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids -- boast higher points-per-game averages than TFC's, Greg Vanney's side gets the nod based on its scary-good current form: a seven-match unbeaten run in which they've gone 6-0-1 and outscored opponents 18-5. Why would members of the sputtering Montreal Impact be looking forward to Saturday's game in Toronto against their rampaging archenemy? Easy. It's a rivalry. "They're in first place, and for us, it's a big challenge," Impact coach Mauro Biello said after his team tied D.C. United 1-1 in its own midweek tilt. "But there's no better game to ask for to spring us in the right direction than having a good performance against Toronto, that's for sure." The history between the clubs dates only to 2007, when Toronto became the league's first Canadian franchise. It grew after the Impact, then in the second tier, beat the Reds in Toronto to qualify for the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League. It rose to another level still when Montreal joined the top flight four years ago and immediately produced better results than TFC, which failed to reach the playoffs in each of its first eight seasons -- an MLS record for futility. But the rivalry has really popped off the past two years. Both clubs signed big-money designated players -- the Impact Didier Drogba, TFC Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco -- in 2015 and began ascending the established order in the East. As fate would have it, they met in the knockout round of the playoffs last fall, with Montreal routing TFC 3-0 in the first and only postseason match Toronto has ever played. "Since last season, especially probably the last game we played them in the playoffs, things have escalated," Impact captain Patrice Bernier told ESPN FC. Toronto FC Toronto FC Montreal Impact Montreal Impact 0 1 FT Game Details GameCast Lineups and Stats As with all good rivalries, the roots go well beyond sport. Canada's two largest cities are separated by just 300 miles of highway, but they're worlds apart in most other ways. The animosity between the two goes back to bloody battles between English and French armies in the mid-1700s. Even now, they literally don't speak the same language, with French the mother tongue of the majority of Montreal's 3.5 million inhabitants. Toronto replaced Montreal as Canada's economic engine in the last quarter of the 20th century, but the latter's sports teams -- especially in hockey, the country's most popular sport -- have been more successful and a point of pride. As an American, Impact keeper Evan Bush didn't know much about the history between the cities when he arrived in Montreal in 2011, when the club was still in the second tier. These days, he thinks the cultural underpinnings make it the league's most authentic. "If you look at rivalries around the league, a lot of them are manufactured. Even Seattle-Portland, there's a lot of history there, but it's a little manufactured," Bush told ESPN FC. "If you're not from here, you might think Toronto-Montreal is the same thing. It's not. It goes much deeper than soccer." "The Toronto-Montreal rivalry is one of the best in all of sports," TFC midfielder and Toronto native Jonathan Osorio said in a phone interview. "I've been to Canadiens-[Maple] Leafs games. It's always a hostile atmosphere. It's the same in MLS. Even when Montreal was in the NASL, it was still a big game for the supporters of both clubs. Now it's a fixture that everybody looks forward to around the league, I think." Montreal Impact's Laurent Ciman, left, talks it out with Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco. TFC won the only previous meeting in league play this season. That 2-0 victory at Stade Saputo in April was a measure of revenge for last year's humiliating elimination there, and TFC also beat the Impact 4-2 over two games in June in the Canadian Championship. Still, Quebec-born Bernier can't wait for Saturday's match, however well the hosts are playing. "It doesn't mean anything," Bernier said of Toronto's recent run. "There's still a lot of games left. They can peak now and lose every game for the rest of the season. "We're never scared of that team," he continued. "They're good. They're better than before. But it's Toronto. We'll step up to the plate." They'll have to. After losing just once in 10 games, Montreal has just one win in its past five. Meanwhile, Toronto is showing no signs of slowing down. The ret-hot Altidore will be fresh too, having played just the final 32 minutes against Orlando City (enough to score TFC's late winner, his fifth goal in six matches). Osorio even thinks his team has room to improve. "We knew from the beginning of the season that if we got things clicking with everyone, the chemistry, we would be a contender," he said. "But we haven't hit our best stride yet. When we do, we know what we're capable of. But right now it's about the present and getting a win for our fans. It's always an important match against Montreal." Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.
The Elder Scrolls: Total War 2.0 - new mercenary armies That is the time when we finally completed work on all mercenary armies for version 2.0. In this article, we will tell (and most importantly, show) all new mercenary armies in the upcoming final version of The Elder Scrolls: Total War. In order not to waste your time, let's get straight to the point. The first new mercenary army is well known to every TES fan who played Skyrim. This is not an army in the literal sense of the word, but an entire people - Reachmen. Reachmen live on the territory of eastern High Rock and southwestern Skyrim, called the Reach. They have their leaders and kings, but there is no single state, although their ancestors once even ruled the Cyrodiil Empire. They live in small clans, and their neighbors consider them barbarians, witchers and cannibals, which is often not far from the truth. Nevertheless, their leaders are smart and insidious, and also greedy for gold. The Reachmen will not challenge the invincible adversary, they will become part of such a powerful force for a reasonable fee. Leader of the Reachmen - King Bran of the Winterborn (3E) \ Madanach The King in Rags (4E) King Bran is a fictional character, a native of the famous Winterborn clan. His ancestors participated in the Siege of Orsinium. Bran - a cunning leader, one of the many desperate brave souls who tried to unite under their command all the tribes of Reachmen. Many leaders fear and respect him, and his word means a lot in the whole Reach. If Bran goes to the service of a worthy and powerful ally, many will follow him. Madanach is the famous ruler of the Reachmen, the leader of the Forsworn who once captured Markarth and considered himself his legal rulers. Later, Markarth was repulsed by the son of Windhelm’s jarl - Ulfric Stormcloak, the Forsworn were expelled from there, and Madanach himself was imprisoned in the Sidna mine. Any king, whether he is a Nord, Orsimer or Breton, owning Markarth and Reach, can free Madanach from imprisonment if he wants the Reachmen to serve him, but such a move will forever ruin his relationship with Ulfric Stormcloak. Units: Reachmen The army of Reachmen consists of a huddle of desperate warriors, wrapped in skins, but not wearing armor. Their home-made swords and axes leave terrible wounds on the bodies of their opponents. The backbone of this wild army is light infantry. Horse riders In addition to the foot soldiers in this barbarian army there is a cavalry. The riders of the Reach are light cavalry, which is convenient to use for quick and sudden attacks, but in battles with knights these warriors in tatters have no chance. Also, their cavalry can be a good help for the armies of orcs and nords, which are not famous for their cavalry. Briar Hearts The few warriors of the Reachmen who survive the bloody rituals of the hagravens become Briar Hearts - berserkers, they do not know fear, pain and fatigue. With a wild battle cry, they rush at opponents and always fight to the death. Mammoths And finally, the Reachmen are one of the few who knows the special secret of taming mammoths. These formidable creatures living in Skyrim and, in part, in High Rock, will bring down the morale of any troops not prepared for such a meeting, but the ruler, who is served by the Reachmen, will give a valuable trump card in any fight. In order to hire troops of Reachmen, the player will have to fulfill the following conditions: - Play for one of the following factions: the Kingdom of Skyrim, the Kingdom of Daggerfall, the Kingdom of Wayrest, the Kingdom of Orsinium (adding this army to the Clans of the Forebears and the Crowns is still under discussion). - To occupy the following territories: Evermore, Raven Spring, Cloud Spring (in the campaign of the Fourth Era, you must also have Markarth) - Accept the offer of Bran Widnaborn or release Madanach from the Sidna mine. After that, the player will be available to build Reachmen’s Camp in which he will be able to hire, train and retrain their troops. The second mercenary army is an old dream of many who play our mod, realized in a slightly different form. Let's say that you asked us to do this faction a long time ago, we realized this dream of yours a little differently ... The city of Rimmen in Elsweyr was founded by the remaining Akaviri persecuted after the First Akaviri Invasion in Tamriel. They went to the mountains and built this mysterious city there, where they lived for a long time in a retreat. For a time, Rimmen was independent, then long passed from hand to hand. At the end of the Third Era, it was subjugated to the gangs of the Khajiit, who use the city as an artery for the illegal trade of moon sugar. The Tsaesci are ready to swear to anyone who will help them drive the cats out of the city. The army of mysterious serpent men from Akavir, famous for their unique fighting skills, is the key to dominance for any ruler. Tsaesci are immortal and hone their skills not just for years, but for centuries. Dinieras-Ves is considered to be the greatest master among the living Akiviri of Rimmen and the founder of the fighters guild. He announced that he would give his sword and live to the one who would help the Akaviri drive out the gangsters from Rimmen and restore Tonenaka, the ancient sanctuary of a thousand statues. The leader of the army is Dinieras-Ves. Units: Tsaesci warriors call themselves "Syffim." They do not wear shields, are dressed in elaborately made armor with awesome masks, and in martial art they have no equal in all of Tamriel. Nodachi Syffim Nodachi is a two-handed sword of the Akaviri, called Daikatana in Tamriel. In the Akavir tradition, the katana is more often a ceremonial weapon, and the nodachi is a combat weapon. Nodachi Syffim are the main offensive force of the Tsaesci army and can easily defeat any enemy unit in one on one combat. Naginata Syffim Another unique Akavir weapon is naginata. It allows Syffim equally well to keep opponents at a distance and fight them in melee. Naginata also performed well in battle with the cavalry of the Tamriel invaders during the invasion of Uriel V, which led to an increase in its popularity both in Akavir and in Rimmen. Syffim Yumi-Tohi Each soldier is obliged to be able to use the sword in the empire of the Tsaesci, but the skill of archery is considered the highest art. Yumi-tohi (NB - in general, in Japan it is called yumi-tory, but it is assumed that the sound “r” is not very common in the Tsaesci language) is the name of Syffim, who are equally good at nodachi and yumi. Yumi-tohi - pearl of the Akavir military art. To hire Tsaesci troops, the player must fulfill the following conditions: - play for one of the following factions: Cyrodiil Empire, Clans of Blackmarsh, Aldmeri Dominion, Kingdom of Pellitine, Kingdom of Anequina - capture Rimmen - rebuild the sanctuary of Tonenaka in Rimmen - accept the offer of Dinieras-Ves. After that, the player will be able to hire all of the Tsaesci troops in any fighters guild quarters. Well, while you have not yet recovered from the Tsaesci presentation, we’ll go to the third and last army. We have already mentioned in passing about her appearance, now finally we are telling in detail. Clockwork City is in danger. At the end of the Third Era, Dagoth Ur have finally found Sotha Sil’s most valuable creation.. Having managed to penetrate into the dimension where the city is located, Sharmat wants to get the secrets of it’s creator and, perhaps, finally find a way to leave the Red Mountain’s Ghostfence and bring his power to Morrowind. To counter it, Sotha Sil raises his army of factotums - the mechanical inhabitants of the Clockwork City. But he alone will not be able to withstand this threat, so the god of the Tribunal is seeking to ally itself the most experienced of the Dunmer commanders to help him cope with the hordes of ashspawns. And what could be more useful than a grateful god? After the death of Sotha Sil from Almalexia’s hand, Clockwork City was in a precarious position. Galyn, the leader of the Apostles, is observing the creation of Lord Seht, desperately hoping that he will find a way to rise from the dead and return to the world of the living to rule again the Dunmer and the Clockwork City. In the meantime, the former disciple of Sotha Sil, Mecinar wants to claim the City for himself. Having subjugated some of the factotums, he wants to use the once created by Sotha Sil copy of the Heart of Lorkhan, which will give him unprecedented power. Galyn's strength is not enough to resist Mecinar, so he seeks help from those of the Dunmer who have not yet strayed from the path and are ready to fight for the legacy of his god. Depending on the faction and campaign chosen by the player, there can be three different commanders of Clockwork City Army — the Apostle Galyn, Sotha Sil himself and Dagoth Ur. Units: The Clokwork City is protected by factotums - mechanisms created by Sotha Sil and inhabiting his creation. They have their own soul and consciousness, but they are much more durable and reliable than soldiers of living flesh. Factotum Conduits Factotums, dressed in long white robes. They are sensitive to the magic of destruction and bring down electrical discharges on the enemy in battle. Factotum Adjudicators Armed with swords, hammers and axes, the Adjudicators keep order in the Clockwork City. In battle, they hide behind round shields, as strong as the material from which their bodies are made. Factotum Arbalests These factotums are armed with crossbows. Their bolts are much more lethal than ordinary wooden shells, and their inherent stability and accuracy allows them to shoot much more accurately than any ordinary mortal. Imperfects The first creations of Sotha Sil, in which God subsequently became disappointed. To prove their“perfection” to him, these factotums are ready to fight with any creature, no matter how powerful it is. And although Lord Seht himself considers them nothing more than brute force, these giants can become the most valuable acquisition in the army for someone who deserves the gratitude of the leader of the Clockwork City. To get his hands on an army of combat machines, a player must: - Play for one of the five Great Houses of Morrowind, complete a number of tasks of Sotha Sil\Galyn and fight in a battle against the army of Dagoth Ur\Mecinar. - after that, he will be able to hire factotums in any settlement where he will build a portal to Clockwork City or: - Play as the Great House of Dagoth, complete a series of tasks in order to find a passage to the Clockwork City and fight against Sotha Sil to subdue his creation - after that, he will be able to hire factotums in any settlement where he will build a portal to Clockwork City We will tell about the tasks that the player will need to perform to get into the Clockwork City later. At the end of the article about mercenaries, we want to say that in the Fourth Era campaign we will also have Roscrea Island on map, and in its territory the player will be able to hire troops of this severe island as mercenaries. Here’s how they look: Stay with us! LoRdNazguL and DaedraWarrior
Four decades into the feminist revolution, sexual harassment really ought to be old news. There can hardly be a man in the Western world who does not know the rules: treat female colleagues with respect, give them equal pay and keep your hands to yourself. It should be a doddle - so why is sexual harmony at work still proving so elusive? In recent weeks, an army of female whistleblowers has marched into the courts to complain of harassment and discrimination. The most high-profile of these have come from the world of finance, and some have been lavishly compensated for their sufferings. The City lawyer Elizabeth Weston - who complained that a couple of drunken oafs at the office party had remarked on the size of her breasts, and on her husband's good fortune in being allowed to manhandle them - was given a £1 million pay-out in return for dropping her case. In the United States, Morgan Stanley has just agreed to pay $42 million to settle a class action involving hundreds of disgruntled female employees. Their ringleader, Allison Schieffelin, was given $12 million all to herself, on the grounds that she was denied promotion and excluded from an all-male bonding trip to the strip-clubs of Las Vegas. It goes without saying that these settlements are disproportionate to the crimes involved. It would be a very soppy woman indeed who could not handle the odd breast-fixated drunk. As for the lap-dancing trips, I know City boys who would give anything to be excluded from this exquisitely embarrassing ritual. Nevertheless, there is a logic behind such eye-catching pay-outs. They are meant to send a message to all employers that women must be treated with as much consideration as men. This is a point that still needs making - and not just in the City. Women in low-paid jobs are every bit as vulnerable to boorish behaviour. Consider the hair-raising testimony given by Emma Evans, a former shop assistant for Superdrug, to an employment tribunal last week. Miss Evans, aged 29, described how one of her co-workers, Jeorge Leso, used to perform strip-teases in the stock room, during which he would whip off his leather belt and use it to spank her on the bottom. Worse was to come. "One day," she recalled, "Mr Leso grabbed my wrist while I was walking past. He undid his trouser flies with his other hand and tried to put my hand on him. I managed to get my wrist free. Mr Leso laughed." It was no good complaining to her area manager, she says, because he too was a habitual groper. Men like this need their knuckles rapped more forcefully than any solitary woman trapped in a store room can manage. That is where the law comes in. Yet there remains considerable unease, among women as well as men, about whether the law can always handle such a messy area of human relations. The difference between harassment and flirtatious banter can be bewilderingly obscure even at the time - let alone when it is recalled out of context, in front of a judge. The first imponderable that needs to be considered is atmosphere. In an office where sexual equality is taken for granted, a bit of light chauvinism can be quite entertaining. A very clever, successful friend of mine used to have a running joke with her boss. "You know, Susanna," he would say, "I only hired you for your looks." "Oh Jon," she would simper, performing a little pirouette of joy. "Do you really mean that?" Which brings me to the second imponderable: men who are funny and charismatic and easy with women can get away with almost anything. One of my favourite colleagues has a habit of waggling his eyebrows suggestively at me across the room, while his hands describe an hourglass shape in the air. I find it very cheering. From a less charming man, such behaviour would be horrid - perhaps even actionable. Sexual harassment is a crime committed by beta-males who think they can get away with alpha behaviour. But that is a distinction too delicate for the blunt instrument of the law. How do you explain to a judge why one man's comedy is another man's bone-chilling lechery? And can we really expect the beta-males themselves to understand the difference? The headache of defining sexual harassment will never go away. But there is reason to hope that, eventually, the problem itself may peter out. The working world is becoming increasingly feminine. The number of female civil servants has doubled in a decade; the proportion of female managers has risen from one in 10 to one in four; women now outnumber men among newly-qualified solicitors and doctors. Even in the City, women make up 41 per cent of the workforce. Eventually, sheer weight of numbers will give us the upper hand. The "bonding trips" of the future will not be in strip clubs, but in day spas. Executive decisions will be made at the school gates rather than the golf club. The most intimidating and lecherous bosses may be the ones in skirts. Men who grumble about sexual discrimination laws should look to the long term. There may come a time when you need them more than we do.
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