The finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards were announced a few days ago, and it looks like the reactionaries may have struck another blow. A group which calls itself “The Sad Puppies” has been stirring up political controversy at the Hugos for a few years now. Founded in 2013 by writer Larry Correia, who was highly critical of the Hugos for favoring what he believed were “academic” works that allegedly promote “left-leaning messages,” the Puppies have since campaigned vigorously to have writers whose ideologies line up with their own make the final ballot.
The Science Genius Initiative is a pilot project organized by Rap Genius, science teachers from ten New York City public schools, and GZA. Together, the group hopes “to change the way city teachers relate to minority students, drawing not just on hip-hop’s rhymes, but also on its social practices and values.” Indeed, as the Wu-Tang Clan emcee – who’s been working with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and MIT physicists for his new album – believes science is worth studying because it “unlocks the key to the universe, and the mysteries we don’t know.”
Writing in the London Review of Books (Reg. Req.), Evgeny Morozov clued me onto how “scientists at UCLA – with funding from the Chinese government – have built an ‘image to text’ system that automatically produces text summaries of what is taking place in captured video.” A similar technology was also developed by NYU student Matt Richardson, whose “descriptive camera” can “automatically describe the scene in a camera’s viewfinder, which, when the image was uploaded, would make it easier to find.” Meanwhile one Twitter is describing typical Instagram shots in 140 characters or fewer.
“Despite a glut of English translations (well over a hundred, by my count),” writes Dante scholar Robert Pogue Harrison, “New versions of the entire [Divine Comedy] poem or individual canticles continue to appear in rapid succession—six in the last decade alone.” Over at the New York Review of Books, he investigates three of the latest: Dan Brown’s Inferno, Mary Jo Bang’s Inferno, and Clive James’s Divine Comedy.