From the 35mm Negative Archives

Walking through the streets of Venice, Italy.

June, 1998.

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From the 35mm negative archives

When you’ve been shooting film for 30+ years, one tends to collect a great number of negatives.

Not content to take the Covid-19 Pandemic Shutdown sitting down and being idle, I digitized my entire negative hoard last year. Some of the resulting images are surprisingly good (judging by my meager standards), and stand up well against images captured by relatively modern DSLRs of similar quality to my old “analog” gear. Many of these have been “tweaked” and can be viewed at my Adobe portfolio site.

Here’s a fun example of an image shot in the Summer of 1993.

This was taken in east-end St. John’s, Newfoundland — perhaps off of Cochrane Street. To the best of my recollection, the building had formerly been a funeral home, but during the mid-’90s it was briefly a restaurant. – cPaul

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America Needs a New Chant!

America Needs a New Chant to Replace “We’re #1,” But “We’re #28 and Dropping Fast” Won’t Cut It!

I enjoy the articles posted over at The Smirking Chimp and have been a fan since the Bush 43 Administration. (Jeff Tiedrich’s Tweets are comedic things of beauty!). This missive by David Cattanach is no exception.

Watching the slow burn decline of America, and it’s standing in the world community, has been devastatingly sad. – cPaul

The latest Social Progress Index for 2020, finds of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in social progress worse than when the index began in 2011, and the declines in Brazil’s and Hungary’s social progress data were smaller than America’s.” The United States ranks #28 overall and moving in the wrong direction.

The index, created by Nobel-winning economists, assesses fifty metrics of well-being, nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education and many more, to measure quality of life. Norway comes out on top in the 2020 edition, followed by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. South Sudan is at the bottom, with Chad, Central African Republic and Eritrea just behind.” The data for the latest index predates Covid-19, which has had a disproportionate impact on the United States and seems likely to exacerbate the slide in America’s standing. One new study suggests that in the United States, symptoms of depression have risen threefold since the pandemic began — and poor mental health is associated with other risk factors for well-being.

Read the rest here:

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Physicist: The Entire Universe Might Be a Neural Network

“The idea is definitely crazy, but if it is crazy enough to be true? That remains to be seen.”

The universe could be a neural network — an interconnected computational system similar in structure to the human brain — a controversial theory has proposed (stock image)

Victor Tangermann |

It’s not every day that we come across a paper that attempts to redefine reality.

But in a provocative preprint uploaded to arXiv this summer, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth named Vitaly Vanchurin attempts to reframe reality in a particularly eye-opening way — suggesting that we’re living inside a massive neural network that governs everything around us. In other words, he wrote in the paper, it’s a “possibility that the entire universe on its most fundamental level is a neural network.”

For years, physicists have attempted to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. The first posits that time is universal and absolute, while the latter argues that time is relative, linked to the fabric of space-time.

In his paper, Vanchurin argues that artificial neural networks can “exhibit approximate behaviors” of both universal theories. Since quantum mechanics “is a remarkably successful paradigm for modeling physical phenomena on a wide range of scales,” he writes, “it is widely believed that on the most fundamental level the entire universe is governed by the rules of quantum mechanics and even gravity should somehow emerge from it.”

“We are not just saying that the artificial neural networks can be useful for analyzing physical systems or for discovering physical laws, we are saying that this is how the world around us actually works,” reads the paper’s discussion. “With this respect it could be considered as a proposal for the theory of everything, and as such it should be easy to prove it wrong.”

The concept is so bold that most physicists and machine learning experts we reached out to declined to comment on the record, citing skepticism about the paper’s conclusions. But in a Q&A with Futurism, Vanchurin leaned into the controversy — and told us more about his idea.

Read the entire article here:

See also:

Are we actually living in the matrix? Physicist attempts to redefine reality with controversial theory that the entire universe is a neural network

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From the 35mm Negative Archives

Farm on Black Oak Road — Lebanon, PA @ Fall 2003

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From the 35mm Negative Archives

Kids at the corner of Prospect and Holloway Streets — St. John’s, Newfoundland. (Film, the mid-’90s)

Image may contain: house, sky, tree and outdoor

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From the 35mm Negative Archives

House near Bread and Cheese Point, Bay Bulls, NL – 35mm film @ 1997

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International Suicide Prevention Day

September 10th is International Suicide Prevention day.

If you need to hear the following, know that you are never alone, no matter how undeserving you feel. Also, there are compassionate and skilled people ready and able to listen and help, without judgment. That goes tomorrow, next year, or right now… in this moment.

Of the Greater Montreal area Crisis Centers, the West Island Crisis Centre is one of the very best. Telephone and mobile staff are available 24/7. Good people there understand those who find themselves anxious, overwhelmed, sad, and/or suicidal.

If you, or someone you care for experiences such difficulties and live on the Montreal West Island, please don’t hesitate to contact them at 514‑684‑6160.

Otherwise, know that there is a multitude of Crisis Centres throughout Québec and your area. It’s a good idea to find and keep their number handy. – cPaul

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From the 35mm Negative Archives

Three photographs representing Fall in Newfoundland (shot at various times in the mid-’90s).

These images (and more) can be viewed and purchased at my Adobe portfolio site:

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Unconscious learning fosters a belief in God, study finds

Brook Hays | UPI

People capable of subconsciously recognizing patterns are more likely to believe in an intervening God, according to new research. Photo by Pikist/CC 
People capable of subconsciously recognizing patterns are more likely to believe in an intervening God, according to new research. Photo by Pikist/CC 

People who unconsciously predict complex patterns are more likely to hold a strong belief in God — a god who creates order in an otherwise chaotic universe — according to research published Wednesday in Nature.

“Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of global religions,” Adam Green, an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University, said in a news release.

“This is not a study about whether God exists, this is a study about why and how brains come to believe in gods,” said Green, who also serves as the director of the Georgetown Laboratory for Relational Cognition. “Our hypothesis is that people whose brains are good at subconsciously discerning patterns in their environment may ascribe those patterns to the hand of a higher power.”

For the study, researchers used cognitive tests to measure the prevalence of the ability known as implicit pattern learning among religious communities in the United States and Afghanistan.

The test called for participants to press buttons that corresponded with a sequence of dots that quickly appeared and disappeared on a computer screen.

Participants with the strongest implicit learning ability were able to subconsciously learn the pattern of the dot sequence, even pressing the correct button prior to the appearance of the next dot. None of the participants were aware that the dots were following a pattern.

Follow-up surveys helped the researcher team study the link between implicit pattern learning and religious beliefs among the two groups.

Researchers confirmed the pronounced prevalence of implicit pattern learning among true believers. The implicit pattern learning ability was strongest among participants who believe in a God who intervenes to establish order in the universe.

Read the rest here:

Read the cited article here:

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Why Your Brain Loves Conspiracy Theories

Who believes and why, and whether conspiracism is really getting way worse

Robert Roy Britt |

Wild and seemingly crazy conspiracy theories can spring from any stressful or disruptive event or phenomenon, as people seek tangible explanations for the invisible or the inexplicable.

Belief in ideas such as “the U.S. government covered up its role in the Twin Towers destruction” or “global warming is a hoax designed to diminish American manufacturing prowess” can be widespread. About 30% of U.S. adults think the coronavirus was created and spread on purpose and that the threat of Covid-19 has been exaggerated to damage President Trump. Such beliefs can threaten public health, as when people won’t wear masks in a pandemic or refuse vaccination against deadly diseases.

Meanwhile, many experts fear a growing erosion of trust in science and the government amid increasing ideological polarization. Health experts have faced death threats over Covid-19 distrust. Researchers are under attack on social media by conspiracy theorists, human trolls, and their robotic puppets, who resort to misogynistic and racist name-calling in attempts to rattle the scientists and discredit the science.

Read the rest here:

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The Pandemic Is Taking a Heavy Toll on Our Mental Health, Study Finds

An interesting survey study published in September of 2020 examined the prevalence of depression symptoms among US adults during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic compared with before the pandemic. – cPaul

Ettman, Abdalla et al. |

Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Full Text:

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What could possibly go wrong?

The quadrupedal robots secured the perimeter of a base during a recent test of the USAF’s Advanced Battle Management System. 

Brett Tingley & Tyler Rogoway |

They look like they were cast straight from an episode of Black Mirror, and eventually, their mission could be similar in some ways, but for now, robot dogs are stretching their legs in the big test exercise environment for the United States Air Force. 

Last week, the U.S. Air Force hosted the second demonstration of its new Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), a digital battle network system designed to collect, process, and share data among U.S. and allied forces in real-time. The ABMS has already undergone several tests, including a live-fire exercise earlier this year conducted with data and communications provided, in part, by SpaceX Starlink satellites.

The highlight of last week’s demonstration was the use of multiple distributed sensors to detect and shoot down mock Russian cruise missiles. The system involves 5G and 4G networks, cloud computing systems, and AI systems to provide an unprecedented level of situational awareness and course of action decision making. ABMS is a top modernization priority for the Department of the Air Force, which is dedicated $3.3 billion over five years to develop and deploy the architecture and related systems. Senior Air Force leaders cite the system as one of the most pressing capabilities for success in several key theaters of operations.

Read the rest here:

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Pets and Owners – Double Exposure Photography (Excellent!)


Among all the photos of pets and selfies with them flooding the internet, Bored Panda presents you the only timeless portrait you’ll ever need.

Los Angeles pet photographer Danielle Spires has developed her unique style by using stylized backdrops full of kitsch in her photo studio that result in oddly hilarious and quirky portraits of owners with their beloved pets—creative pics that our furry and not-so-furry friends deserve. But her signature photos definitely are 1980‘s-inspired double exposure portraits of pets with their owners.

“I love shooting animals, and have found a way to heal from losing my cat by giving people a cherished portrait they can love for decades, as well as a good laugh.”

Check out the gallery here:

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