'Game of Thrones' Recap, Season 7 Episode 7: The Show That Just Ghosted Everyone
There is a series of questions that every person asks themselves when a relationship falls apart. Why did this happen? What could have been done differently? How did we end up here, after everything we shared? And then the most fundamental question, the one that holds itself up to your eye like a magnifying glass in the sun: Why did I love you in the first place?
There is no single answer to this question that will resonate for every person, every situation. But the most universal answer, the one that speaks most powerfully and broadly to everyone's heart, is also the simplest: I believed in you.
If the finale of the seventh season of Game of Thrones says anything, it is that this show has failed its fans, and has been doing so slowly for a long time. It did not want to admit it, nor did they. But alas, it's happened and all that hope and emotional investment has been reduced to a series of bullet points and cartoons, an empty dragon breathing blue fire with all the CGI fury of a broken promise with too much momentum behind it to do anything else.
And so every major character in the series gathers at the dragonpit, because they have to. Not because the story demands it, but because the story has found no way around itself. Maybe George R. R. Martin knows one, but he may never finish writing his epic tale. So what's left? A saga that is larger and more complicated than anyone in control of it knows how to finish to anyone’s satisfaction.
Listen: It is not an easy task. Does anyone truly feel they could face the sheer weight of this story, sword in hand, and conquer it? Who thinks it would be simple? Everyone wishes they could be smarter, stronger, more eloquent when faced with their fundamental inadequacies. In the end, people are who they are, unable to be better than their limitations, especially when painted into a corner. If anything, that is when they are at their worst, the most unable to see what happens next.
Perhaps the most unbelievable moment in all of this is the one with Littlefinger, the great puppeteer who orchestrated the War of the Five Kings, the man who has worked himself inside and outside of every vector of power he encountered like a living cross-stitch. Prior to Bran, he was the closest thing this tale had to a seer, a mind with all of his eyes open.
“Don’t fight in the north or the south,” he tells Sansa. “Fight every battle, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way, and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.”
And yet when his moment comes, he is undone by the Scooby-Doo gang of Westeros, his mask torn off by those meddling kids—the boy with infinite recall of all events, the girl who learned subterfuge and murder from the greatest teachers alive, the woman who doubts him above all others—and was somehow taken completely by surprise, even as they orchestrated an elaborate Screw You involving multiple political factions across the nation. Why didn't this master of espionage and his vast network of spies see this coming? Apparently, it doesn’t matter.
“So much of that scene is what happens beforehand and building up the tension between Sansa and Arya in the earlier episodes where you really believe that one will potentially kill the other,” showrunner David Benioff says in his Monday-morning quarterbacking of this particular execution. “It’s one of the benefits of working on a show like this, where over the years so many beloved characters have been killed and so many characters make decisions that you wish they hadn’t that you can believe that Sansa might conspire against Arya, or that Arya might decide that Sansa has betrayed the family and deserved to die.”
No one believed it, of course. The only real question was what they were asking viewers to believe, what kind of faith they thought they had and exactly how blind it was. The better question for fans is the same one that you would ask of a lover who disappeared without warning, who ghosted after all of their promises of something more: Why did you tell me that this was more than it was? How could you have made me believe, when you had no idea where this was going, or whether or not you could possibly show up?
There are many religions in this show, some of them revealed as “real,” the ones that take the form of shadows that have knives, prophecies that open like veins, ordained saviors so powerful that the fire cannot touch them. But if you think about the religion of the series, the one that has propelled fans to obsess for hundreds of thousands of hours about its internal consistencies and inconsistencies, here is its true article of faith: People thought there was a reason. They believed this was going somewhere that was known, to a prophecy or larger truth, to an ending that made a sort of sense, to something that made all that devotion worth it in the end.
But it is difficult to imagine nearly every character in Game of Thrones, as previously established, not being entirely embarrassed by themselves in this season's finale. The Hound, who once harbored his childhood traumas with a quiet fury, marching up to his zombie brother and announcing their conflict like a reality TV contestant to every lord who can hear it. Tyrion, who trusted his sister only in her ability to commit atrocities, believing her bizarre pivot into humanitarianism, and questioning no further. Theon begging for forgiveness from Jon only to be absolved and told that he is yet another heir to Ned Stark, only days after the King in the North threatened to kill him for his disloyalty. Littlefinger, who has never taken a foolish step, trying to coerce Sansa into believing that Arya wants to be the Lady of Winterfell, the one role she has rejected above all others.
That’s the problem with Game of Thrones now, the one it won’t survive. The one where fans are forced to believe that despite all of its careful, intricately built narrative palaces of politics and history and personal struggle, that all of that careful architecture has to dissolve into dust, like a wight stabbed with dragonglass. That none of it can matter, because something something, because the terrible urgency of the story tells us to look somewhere else. Look there, because no one can bear you looking in another direction, because the story cannot bear it either.
There should be nothing to regret, honestly. People loved the story for reasons as good as anyone ever loved anything. I loved Game of Thrones for its nuance and its scope—the way that it felt like it could contain everything from the intensely personal to the broadly political. Imagine it as a magnifying glass, an icon with a plus and a minus. No matter how far you scaled in or out, its integrity held. There was no level of magnification where its world-building or its character-building would fail you. Just forever deeper and broader, amen and amen, like it would never end.
But here at the end, where it asks that no one look beyond an individual moment of horror or glory, beyond the theatrical grandeur of a dragon breathing fire or an army marching rudderless into a great battle, its narrative scope is failing. And so viewers descend into the great nightmare of being a writer, staring down the outline of a story and having no idea how to bridge from one choice to another, when there are no answers to give. What do you do when they turn to you and ask what it all means, and why you have been doing this for so long? You stumble and gibber and with nothing else to offer, you say: absolute goddamn nonsense.
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August 28, 2017 at 09:21AM
Hulu’s Live TV service to have all five major broadcast networks with addition of The CW
Hulu today announced a new agreement with The CW Network, a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros., which will allow Hulu to offer the network to subscribers of its newer Live TV service. The deal is notable because the addition means Hulu now has in place agreements with all five of the major U.S. broadcasters, having previously made deals with NBC, FOX, ABC, and CBS itself.
Hulu officially unveiled its live TV streaming service this May, only days after announcing the closure of a deal with NBCU – the last major TV network it wanted to have on its slate before launching.
Its service today competes in a crowded landscape along with PlayStation Vue from Sony, YouTube TV, Dish’s Sling TV, and AT&T’s DirecTV NOW, among other, more niche services like fuboTV. Given how many options consumers have today – not to mention the power that AT&T has to bundle its live TV product alongside wireless plans – the need to offer compatible channel line-ups and features (like a DVR for example), is critical.
Beyond being one of the U.S.’s major broadcasters, The CW is also important because it attracts a youthful audience of teens and young adults -the very customer who’s more willing to cut the cord with traditional pay TV, or just not sign up in the first place.
“The CW has long attracted younger audiences to live TV, so we are very happy to offer the network through Hulu’s new live service,” said Tim Connolly, Hulu Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Distribution, in a statement.
In fact, millennials’ interest in streaming over cable has already allowed YouTube TV to snag third place in terms of paying subscribers in this demographic, where it’s now tied with Hulu, according to a new study from research firm Morning Consult out earlier this month. And among the market as a whole, YouTube TV has jumped into third place, behind Netflix and Amazon, the researchers said.
That’s just one study, so it should for now be taken as a data point pointing to a possible shift, rather than proof of a definitive trend for the time being. Still, it seems that appealing to younger users could prove to be the path for success for these live TV services.
YouTube TV, it’s worth also mentioning, has offered The CW since launch along with the other major broadcasters. Plus, it took the approach to only roll out in a market once it had the full slate (or in some cases, at least 3 major broadcasters) on board. Hulu, meanwhile, launched with the big three, but these are not available in all markets as Hulu continues to make affiliate deals.
The CW today is known for a number of popular shows, including Riverdale, Supernatural, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and several superhero-themed series like Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, and The Flash.
Hulu says The CW will arrive in the months ahead for its Live TV (beta) subscribers. Like its other additions, it will arrive in select markets first, with other affiliates joining over time.
via TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
August 28, 2017 at 09:16AM
Cassini's 'Inside Out' Movie From Within Saturn's Rings Will Make You Emotional
On September 15th, Cassini’s 20-year-long exploration of the Saturnian system will finally—regrettably--come to an end. But even in its final act, the spacecraft has been sending back some of the most detailed images it’s ever taken. In one of its recent dives into the gap between Saturn and its rings, the spacecraft took a sequence of photos that offer an striking and unusual view of Saturn’s main rings—and now it’s a mini-movie.
According to NASA, Cassini took 21 photos within a span of just four minutes on August 20th. Due to the vantage point of the wide-angle camera, it’s a bit tough to make out each of the big rings, but the most dedicated among us can see the ghostly C ring and brilliant B ring. An especially astute viewer will also notice the Cassini Division, or the 3,000 mile (4,800 km) gap between Saturn’s A and B rings. (Here’s a detailed walk-through that explores the location of each ring and their individual properties.) And no, you may not name your band “Cassini Division” because that’s what I’m calling my space goth Joy Division cover band.
It’s hard to look at the movie—or any of Cassini’s hauntingly beautiful images—and not thing of something appropriately morose for its Grand Finale. I personally recommend syncing this video with the “Tears in the Rain” monologue from Blade Runner. Hopefully, these last few weeks of Cassini’s life will be its most memorable—we’ll be sad to see it go.
via Gizmodo http://gizmodo.com
August 28, 2017 at 09:15AM
High-Res Satellites Want to Track Human Activity From Space
Hopkinsville, Kentucky, is normally a mid-size town, home to 32,000 people and a big bowling ball manufacturer. But on August 21, its human density more than tripled, as around 100,000 people swarmed toward the total solar eclipse.
Hundreds of miles above the crowd, high-resolution satellites stared down, snapping images of the sprawl.
These satellites belong to a company called DigitalGlobe, and their cameras are sharp enough to capture a book on a coffee table. But at that high resolution, they can only image that book (or the Kentucky crowd) at most twice a day. And a lot can happen between brunch and dinner. So the Earth observation giant is building a new constellation of satellites to fill in the gaps in their chronology. When this new "WorldView Legion" sat-set is finished in 2021, DigitalGlobe will be able to image parts of the planet every 20 minutes, flashing by for photos dozens of times a day.
That’s called “high revisit” satellite imagery, and it’s mostly been the purview of smallsat companies, which can launch more and cheaper satellites to cover more ground more often. The leading smallsat imaging company, Planet, prides itself on capturing the globe’s full landmass every day, mostly at around four meters of resolution—so a Pontiac shows up as about a pixel. Planet has around a hundred satellites in orbit, and the smallsat industry at large is out to launch thousands more in the next decade, filling low-Earth orbit and staring down at the world with a gaze of increasing intensity.
Planet and its competitors provide a new service: (slightly fuzzy) images that can show daily changes in a spot on Earth. Traditional satellite companies sometimes have months-long gaps between images of a given spot.
But DigitalGlobe thinks it can provide quality and quantity. Along with WorldView Legion, it is banking on something different: that their customers (governments, oil-drillers, metal miners, retail chain owners) don’t need or want to see the whole planet’s diurnal dynamics. They care about the grittiest details of the places where people are—moving missiles, digging up natural resources, cutting down forests, parking cars for shopping sprees. “A large percentage of the population lives in a really narrow band of latitudes,” says Walter Scott, DigitalGlobe's founder and CTO.
So DigitalGlobe dreamed up the WorldView Legion constellation, which—with another flock of satellites called Scout—can snap a photo of a high-demand spot (say the Port of Shanghai) 40 times a day. Scott declined to specify how many satellites count as legion, but they will be 30-centimeter- and 50-centimeter-class, meaning they could resolve a laptop or a TV. The first will rocket up in 2020, the last in 2021.
The battalion of satellites comes courtesy of Space Systems/Loral (SSL) of California, which builds its satellites in Palo Alto. The companies twine together like the noodles in a corporate alphabet soup: DigitalGlobe is in the final stages of a merger with a communications company called MDA, which also bought SSL back in 2012.
MDA isn't just keeping WorldView Legion in the family: It's keeping the majority of humanity's remote-sensing activities in the family. According to the latest Satellite-Based Earth Observation report from Northern Sky Research, an industry analysis group, the satisfied urge to merge gives MDA/DigitalGlobe command over the Earth observation stage. “A whopping 74 percent of the [Earth observation] data market was concentrated between three players, namely Digital Globe, Airbus D&S, and MDA—with the rest split between roughly a dozen players, including the likes of Telespazio and Planet,” Northern Sky analyst Prateep Brasu wrote.
With DigitalGlobe and MDA under a single umbrella, they control 54 percent of the market. And with SSL, they can in-house legions of satellites, big and small, for themselves and others. Money, money, money, mo-ney,.
That's a big deal: Terrestrial imagery affects economies and international relations, in addition to map apps. Companies sell intelligence to governments, revealing troop movement and arms test prep. Image analysis software (which gets smarter faster the more examples it sees) can count cars in WalMart parking lots to know how many people shop where when and if Target should be concerned. Prospectors can learn whether someone just started drilling into an oil supply, and how much black gold they seem to be netting. Relief organizations can look at a flood zone and figure out how best to help. And, in Earth observation as in casual conversation, there is always the future's weather to worry about, or its self-driving cars: “If you're building a support structure for autonomous vehicles, you can't have 50-meter errors in where you say the road is,” says Scott.
Now imagine that instead of seeing, say, how the floodwaters crest and recede over a week, or even from day to day or morning to afternoon, a satellite can see them shift from 9:30 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. Or capture how the 2024 eclipse-chasing crowd snowballs as totality approaches. That satellite-streamed “nowcasting” may just make life easier. “You're on vacation and want to know what the beach looks like, where the traffic is, where the crowds are,” says Al Tadros, vice president of space infrastructure and civil space at SSL. And then you do.
Because the future's satellite industry—from the fine print of DigitalGlobe to the rough sketch of smaller sats—is showing not how the world was, or even how it is, but how it goes.
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August 28, 2017 at 09:09AM
What Would Aliens Look Like?
As the absurdity on our home planet grows, so does humanity’s curiosity about life beyond 1 AU. Of course, wildly speculating about aliens is nothing new: it’s been fueling many facets of science fiction for years. But recently-proposed missions to“Ocean worlds” that could harbor microbial life make the search for extraterrestrials less tinfoil hat-like and a bit more tangible.
If we did find alien life, it would be the biggest discovery in human history. Most sci-fi tells us this will likely end poorly, but some of us choose to believe otherwise. If we keep an open mind and speculate wildly, some pretty interesting questions arise—most obviously, what the hell would aliens look like?
In this week’s Giz Asks, we spoke to astrobiologists about what extraterrestrial life might look like if we ever find it. Hopefully it’s more Arrival than Signs, but ultimately, I’m rooting for space capybaras.
Senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute
Astronomer, physicist, and PhD candidate in Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas
President of METI International, which focuses on seeking out radio signals from intelligent extraterrestrial life
Astrobiologist at NASA
Do you have a question for Giz Asks? Email us at email@example.com.
via Gizmodo http://gizmodo.com
August 28, 2017 at 09:03AM
The Game of Thrones Finale Wasn't Perfect, But It Made the Season a Hell of a Lot Better
After six episodes that have been incredible, infuriating, revealing, confusing, and epic, last night’s Game of Thrones finale had a great many things to answer for. They were the answers needed to help recalibrate the show’s uneven seventh season so it ended up greater than the sum of its inconsistent parts—even if that doesn’t equal the show’s best seasons.
“The Wolf and the Dragon” had its own problems to be sure—one in particular made me want to actually scream in irritation—the main one of which was its surprising lack of surprises. If you’ve been paying a decent amount of attention, you didn’t have to hunt out hacker leaks to form a pretty good idea of what was going to go down in the season finale, but for me, that somehow didn’t make it any less satisfying. If you’re a book reader, you knowhow the show, having advanced beyond George R.R. Martin’s novels, has been partially satiating our hunger by sporadically giving us the scenes we’ve guessed and hoped were coming. The finale was packed with these scenes, like a Thanksgiving dinner—you know what the meal is going to consist of, but it’s still a feast.
It began with a meeting—The Meeting, really—where most all the show’s principal characters came together in the Dragonpit of King’sLanding for Jon Snow’s almost certainly unfeasible attempt to convince Cersei Lannister to help fight the Wight Walkers and their army of wights. There were three daises set up on the floor of the shattered arena where the Targaryens once imprisoned their dragons. The people sitting in them are as follows:
• Cersei, Jaime, Qyburn, Euron Greyjoy, and the Mountain
• Jon Snow, Davos, and Brienne
• Daenerys, Tyrion, Jorah, Missandei, Varys, and Theon
And, after several tense moments and several even more tense conversations, there is one person in the center of the all: The Hound, who carries a giant chest by himself. When he opens it, nothing happens—no movement, so sound. And when he kicks the chest over, the Wight inside bursts out growling, and runs right for Cersei.
In terms of showing the woman who currently sits on the IronThrone of the threat that lies beyond the Wall, it honestly couldn’t have worked out any better if they planned it (and it almost makes you wonder if they did). Sandor Clegane yanks the wight’s chain back at the last second, so Cersei gets the most horrifying look possible. When the wight’s attention is focused on him, Sandor cuts the wight in two at the waist, allowing Cersei to see both halves trying to crawl towards someone to attack them. When the Hound cuts off a hand, Jon Snow picks it up to demonstrate the wights’ weakness to fire—then stabs the torso with a dragonglass dagger, demonstrating its other weakness.
All in all, Jon makes his case—so effectively, in fact, that Euron asks Jon if the dead can swim. When he answers no, Euron says (and I’m paraphrasing), “I. Am. Outta here.” He announces that he and his fleet are heading back to the Iron Islands, and leaving everyone on the mainland to die. Cersei also recognizes the horrific threat the living face, but she agrees to Daenerys’ request for a truce, and that she’ll send her forces north to fight with Winterfell and Daenerys’ Unsullied and Dothraki to fight the enemy of all of them. If Jon Snow, King of the North, agrees to stay up north and at no point take his soldiers anywhere near the eventual war between herself and Daenerys.
Jon explains he can’t do that… because he’s already bent the knee to Daenerys. And Cersei storms out of the Dragonpit.
Jon tells the truth, and dooms humanity. It was as infuriating a moment as anything I’ve ever seen on Game of Thrones. Oh, I know Jon has his honor, and his desire to always do the right thing has gotten him into trouble before, trouble that includes being murdered by his own men. But this moment… this is beyond the pale. Knowing the truth would end the nascent truce, negating everything they’d worked so hard for, rendering the death of Dany’s dragon meaningless, and indirectly consigning god knows how many inhabitants of Westeros to death, Jon tells the truth anyway.
Davos is pissed. Tyrion is pissed. Daenerys is extra pissed.Jon gives a pretty little speech about how lying is bad and people need to keep their word and blah blah, which might have had an ounce of weight to it if heal so hadn’t been talking for seasons about how the war against the White Walkers was the only thing that matters, nothing else—including Jon’s goddamn honor. Everyone on Team Daenerys and Team Stark knows it, but Jon doesn’t. It’s a decision so stupid, even for a Stark, it feels like it almost erases everyone’s development over the course of the entire series, like it reset everyone back to the beginning of season one. But the worst thing about it isn’t how dumb it is, but because it’s so selfish—a truth told for his own self-righteousness and self-image, and nothing else, because it certainly doesn’t benefit anyone else. In fact, it leads directly to Tyrion making his own terrible decision: To go see Cersei, the sister who’s tried to have him killed at least twice (that he knows of!), by himself and convince her to return to negotiations.
Last week, in my recap of “Beyond of Wall,” I used the headline “Game of Thrones Is at Its Best and Worst Right Now.” I was referring to the show’s powerful ability to give us amazing, epic fantasy scenes unlike anyone has ever before tried of television. What I wasn’t referring to was the show’s original strength—giving us characters of depth, but also scenes between these characters, usually just talking to one another, that made them and Westeros rich and real and so captivating that even people who think stories about dragons and made-up places are dumb have gotten completely invested in the series.
Tyrion’s reunion with Cersei is one of those scenes, and, somewhat surprisingly, powered by the characters’ honesty wth each other. Cersei’s still mad that Tyrion killed their father, but more upset that he left the Lannister family so vulnerable that their enemies felt bold enough to kill Myrcella and wrest control of King’s Landing from her, eventually leading to Tommen’s suicide. Tyrion explains the reason he follows Daenerys is because she actually wants to make the world a better place, while Cersei only cares about her ever-shrinking list of who she considers family. Tyrion baits Cersei and tells her to have theMountain, looming behind him, to kill him (when Cersei doesn’t, he pours himself a large glass of wine). Cersei reveals she’s pregnant. The two will never love each other, but they end up making their own sort of truce together.Or so it seems.
“The Wolf and the Dragon” is filled with these sorts of wonderful, character-driven scenes, more than the entire rest of the season put together. It’s as if season seven was sprinting through the plot for the first six episodes,in order to make sure it had plenty of time for these scenes after virtually all the main characters got together in one place.
I’d argue Tyrion and Cersei’s reunion is the highlight of the episode, but here’s a few more of them, some large, some small, all gratifying: Brienne discovers the Hound is still alive, and the two of them share a small smile over what an ass-kicker Arya has become. Tyrion gets a fewmoments with Bronn (reminding him of his eternal offer to him: “I’ll pay double”) and his former squire Podrick. The Hound reunites with his undead big brother the Mountain—“You’re uglier than I am now”—and postpones Cleganebowl to another day, although he declares the day is indeed coming. Euron waits until the meeting starts and immediately interrupts to call out Theon, announcing he’ll kill Yara if Theon doesn’t surrender, annoying literally everyone else in the Dragonpit. Theon later tracks down Jon for their second encounter, risking death in order to genuinely ask how to be a person who does the right thing; a patient,forgiving Jon reminds him that Theon may have betrayed Ned Stark and his ideals, but there’s still a Stark inside him. (And one other, which I’ll get to in a minute.)
To the surprise of everyone in the Dragonpit, Tyrion returns alive. Even more surprisingly, Cersei and her retinue follow him—and then agrees to the truce, that her troops will march north immediately. And later, to the surprise of no one actually watching the show, Cersei sees Jaime issuing orders to send the Lannister forces north and calls him an idiot. Because Cersei lied. She’s not sending any troops north, because as soon as Daenerys’ forces are gone she’s going to retake all the parts of Westeros she abandoned. Euron didn’t turn tail and flee; he’s sailing to Essos to pick up the mercenary troop named the Golden Company, paid for by the very pro-Lannister Iron Bank of Braavos. As for the White Walkers? “Let the monsters kill each other,” she says, and her soldiers can take care of whatever’s left.
In a much less aggravating echo of Jon’s decision, an angry Jaime reminds her he gave his word to the assembly, and he’s going to keep it. Cersei’s expression turns completely flat, and she reminds him that he betrayed her by conspiring to meet with Tyrion without her knowledge. Furthermore, if he rides north, it will be treason—and treason is punishable by death. Behind Jaime, the Mountain draws his sword, and Cersei’s paranoia shrinks her idea of the Lannister family even further, to the only one she has total control over—the baby growing in her stomach. Jaime is more shocked than scared (although he’s not unscared) but he does call Cersei’s bluff and walks away, leaving Cersei with her new family: her undead monster, her mad scientist, and her unborn child. Meanwhile, as Jaime begins to ride north, snow comes toKing’s Landing.
And in the north, specifically Winterfell, everything seems to be going to hell. First Sansa gets a raven from Jon, blithely mentioning he’s no longer King in the North and oh, also, everyone serves Daenerys now.Worse, the season’s most excruciating storyline seems to be continues, as Littlefinger seems to be sowing more seeds of mistrust between Sansa and Arya, if putting a stick of dynamite in a bag of seeds and lighting it could be considered“sowing.” I mean, he starts by trying to indirectly convince Sansa that Arya has specifically come to Winterfell to kill her and become Lady of Winterfell, an idea so obviously dumb only Jon Snow’s sense of honor would come up with it.
Sansa has her guards summon Arya to the great hall, which is filled with even more guards, who bolt the door behind her. Sansa says, “You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges… Lord Baelish?” And everyone turns to Littlefinger.
Phew. After too many episodes of watching Arya acting like a maniac and Sansa turning ever more furtive and guilty-looking, it was so, so gratifying (but still not that shocking) to discover the Stark girls were playing Littlefinger, for at least some of it. A panicked Littlefinger flails about as Sansa lists off his crimes: convincing Lysa Arryn to poison Jon Arryn, then convincing her to write to Catelyn and say the Lannisters did it, lying about the dagger used by the assassin who tried to kill Bran, all of which set the Stark-Lannister war off, ruining or outright ending the lives of everyone in both families, then there was murdering Lysa,and selling Sansa to the Boltons… the list goes on. And when Sansa proclaims the sentence, it’s Arya, of course, who carries out the execution, and suddenly Petyr Baelish has a much-too-large hole in his throat. And later, Sansa and Arya have a talk where Arya isn’t threatening her sister, but the two acknowledge how different they are—to the point where they can’t really understand each other—but they still have affection for one another. Which is how they should have been the entire time.
As satisfying as it was to watch Littlefinger finally get his comeuppance for trying to set two Stark women against each other, I can’t honestly say it makes up for the past two episodes. I can’t help but think at least some, if not most of Sansa and Arya’s fights were real (they had several scenes where it seems highly unlikely that they were performing of one of Petyr’s spies), and it was only Littlefinger’s clumsy push at the end—or maybe Bran rolling in with the truth, since he was sitting next to Sansa in the room—that made them realized their rift was primarily Baelish’s fault.. Even if they were playing him the whole time, surely there was a way for the show to tell this story without both of them turning into weird, awful caricatures of themselves. But still, I’m still so relieved this horrible storyline course-corrected that I don’t mind Littlefinger’s ignoble, ignominious death, or how he basically did nothing but get himself killed in season seven. thank the gods it happened.
Also, thank the gods Samwell Tarly pulled up to Westeros and decided to check on Bran. Not because Bran tells him that Jon is actually the bastard son of Rhaegar Targaryen and his aunt Lyanna Stark, but because Sam is the one with new information. Turns out he was paying attention to Gilly dropping that plot bomb a few episodes ago, because he tells Bran that Jon isn’t a bastard at all, because Rhaegar and Lyanna were lawfully married. Bran activates his three-eyed raven powers, and see that’s it’s true—and then finally hears the words the dying Lyanna whispered to young Ned after she gave birth: “His name is Aegon Targaryen.” And he’s the true heir to the IronThrone. Not Daenerys.
…which Bran announces, out loud, constantly throughout his visions, interspersed with scenes of Jon and Daenerys finally getting it on.The dichotomy of Bran keeps reminding everyone that “Jon’s last name is actually Targaryen” while the episode keeps showing Jon having sex with someone else with the last name Targaryen is very amusing. But Bran’s weird, constant narration of the revelation of Jon’s name and title is a strange, off-putting choice for the show, which has almost always trusted the audiences to put R andL together and come up with J. It robs the revelation of a lot of its narrative impact—compare it to the reveal of Jon’s parents from the season six finale—and the fact that the only reason the magic Three-Eyed Raven Who Can See the EntirePast But Somehow Missed This Part learns about it is because Sam Tarly decided to pop by Winterfell makes it worse.
Likewise, this year’s traditional season finale-ending White Walker scene feels almost perfunctory, despite how massively significant it is. As Eastwatch, the White Walkers and their army emerges from the trees, but stops short the wall. Tormund, Beric Dondarrion, and the rest stationed there are already freaking out when they hear the dragon. Viserion already looks undead—there are several holes in his wings—he now has blue fire, and the Night King is riding him. And then the dragon starts melting the Wall with hisbreath.
Despite the massive amount of the Wall that comes crashing down, and despite how many people die (we don’t specifically see Tormund and Beric die, although hoo boy does most of Eastwatch get annihilated while they’re on top of it), the whole scene felt so preordained it was hard to get excited about it. Of course the White Walkers had to get past the Wall. It didn’t help that the undead army was standing around while the dragon was doing all the work, nor did it help that the dragon was basically hovering in mid-air and blasting ice section-by-section, meeting no resistance from anyone or anything. It definitely didn’t help that it was literally preordained, after the Hound saw that vision of it in that fire in the season premiere.
So, as you can see, the finale had plenty of problems. But I think overall “The Wolf and the Dragon” had far more goodthan bad about it, even if we all more or less knew Jon and Dany would havesex, who Jon’s parents, when and how the White Walkers were coming, that Cerseiwould plan to betray everybody, etc., etc. Having all those long-awaited moments—and, omre importantly, those wonderful conversations between characters, lacking for the vast a majority of theseepisodes—made all the difference in the world, and they helped the finaleimprove the entire season significantly, finally giving all those epic actionscenes and story beats some emotional weight.
Plus, by the end of the finale, it’s clear season seven was designed specifically to consolidate everything going on in the show for the game’s final round (or so itcertainly seems to me). All the major characters know about the White Walkers.Jon and Daenerys have solidified their alliance, partially while naked.Everyone’s heading north… except Cersei and her troops, because she’s planningon betraying them all, of course. The White Walkers are here. Virtually all theloose ends that began filling this series right from the season one premierehave been taken care of, e.g. Littlefinger.
And that’s the biggest reason “The Wolf and the Dragon” has arguably saved season seven. The episode is so obviously an attempt to clear the board and set up the remaining game piece for the final round that the mystery behind all the bizarre choices the show (and characters) made falls away, because this season was so clearly about getting from point A to B.Actually, to be more specific: Last night’s finale was a pre-planned destination that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had to cobbl etogether the route to afterwards, occasionally over some highly irritating terrain, e.g. the excruciating Sansa-Arya conflict.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the final season. Even if Weiss and Benioff completely planned the show’s final act years ago, and their only trouble was scrambling to get from the end of season six to the season eight premiere, with only six episodes left it’s very hard to imagine the show will suddenly slow its breakneck pace, or that the characters will have much if any time to have those scenes that originally made a phenomenon in the first place. And who’s to say that what they have planned for the final season is actually any good?
We can’t know until the final season of Game of Thrones arrives, which I’d guess will probably be July 2018 at the earliest. As long as Sansa and Arya are no longer at each other’s throats and Jon Snow isn’t allowed to make any more decisions, I’ll be there.
via Gizmodo http://gizmodo.com
August 28, 2017 at 09:03AM
Athelas launches an Echo-like blood testing device for the home
Athelas is launching a low-cost, blood diagnostics device today made for testing certain diseases like the flu, bacterial infections and cancer in the comfort of your home.
Tanay Tandon founded the startup in 2014 at the tender age of 17 to develop a smartphone device that could detect malaria through blood samples. That idea proved difficult but the idea of ease and mobility stuck with him.
Athelas’ new device, which looks like a larger version of an Amazon Echo, is meant for patients to check their blood diagnostics in the comfort of their home.
However, instead of giving it voice commands and getting answers, you stick a slide with your blood on it inside the device to find out if your white blood cell count is off. This is particularly useful for discovering infections and inflammation in the body, and is especially useful for those with cancer.
Tandon and his co-founder Deepika Bodapati, have backgrounds in computer vision, machine learning and molecular imaging and were part of Y Combinator’s Summer 2016 class.
We spoke to Bodapati in the TechCrunch studios about the device and I tested it out on myself just to get a good sense of how it works. Check out the video above for that interview.
The core business model is built on working with oncologists who loan the device out to patients while they are on a regimen. This saves them time and the hassle of needing to go into a lab or doctor’s office and give a blood sample as they can simply do the blood test at home every day.
Touted as a simple blood test for anyone, anywhere, the device uses computer imaging to run rapid blood diagnostics from one drop of a patient’s blood and then delivers results in 50 seconds through the corresponding Athelas app (on both Android and iOS).
From there information can be sent back to the doctor to check on important markers indicating whether a treatment is working or not.
One drop blood diagnostics tends to conjure up Theranos PTSD but Athelas is quite the opposite. The Athelas team comes with medical expertise and have already clinically validated the device’s results. The startup has also published their tests against LabCorp venous counts and in bench studies at Stanford University. The device is also FDA-approved under a class 1 registration, meaning it can be used for imaging diagnostics.
The device is useful beyond cancer monitoring, including determining if you have a viral or bacterial infection and possible prediction of cardiac arrest.
“There’s a lot of research out there that shows inflammatory markers inside your own body will spike a couple days in advance,” Tandon says.
Athelas is currently studying 100 patients at risk for a cardiac event to determine if the machine can tell if they are about to go through such an event a few days before,
Right now, Athelas is marketing the device for at-home use but plans on implementing it in hospitals for triage. It’s already working with hospitals and, though not ready to announce, has formed a few partnerships with drug companies as well.
“One of our goals is to become a companion diagnostic for a lot of these interesting drugs,” Tandon told TechCrunch.
The startup has so far raised $3.7 million in seed, led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Initialized Capital, Joe Montana’s Liquid2, as well as a good roster of recognizable angels like Elad Gil.
Those interested in purchasing the device for at-home use can either go through a doctor’s recommendation or buy directly on the Athelas site for a subscription of $20 per month.
via TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
August 28, 2017 at 09:01AM
The Insta360 One is a consumer 360 camera with tons of flexibility
The Insta360 brand has quickly become known for consumer 360 photography products, and the new Insta360 One is its latest device designed for mobile immersive imaging. The new Insta360 One offers 4K video resolution, and 24 MP stills, as well as the ability to work in a completely standalone mode, remotely with your phone as a Bluetooth controller, and plugged in directly to your iPhone using your smartphone’s display as the viewfinder.
This latest Insta360 camera comes with a number of improvements beyond image quality, however, including a new ability to select an angle and export a 1080p non-surround video clip from whatever perspective you choose, and upping its image stabilization capabilities to allow for much smoother video, even when handheld, and to create a ‘bullet time’ video effect in slow motion using a unique capture method – circling the camera overhead quickly using either a selfie stick or a piece of string to create a super cool slow motion 360 video.VIDEO
Said string is included attached to a standard tripod threaded mount that screws into the bottom camera, letting you get started with this cool feature right away. The string is also edited out of the image automatically, as are any selfie sticks you use with the camera, which makes for a much cleaner resulting image or video.
The bullet time effect is very cool, but it’s important to follow the instructions to get it right. The resulting images really do look like something pulled from The Matrix, with you as the shooter in the center and the work around you nearly frozen in time as the image zooms around. It’s a new twist on the selfie, but it also requires a lot of available space to work well – don’t expect to be doing this much indoors, or with a lot of other people in your immediate area.
It’s a very neat feature, but that’s probably going to be more broadly useful about the Insta360 One over time is its general flexibility. The camera has a built in tripod mount on its main body, and comes with a protective case that doubles as a stand. Its remote capabilities mean you no longer have to be that close to it to use it, and it can still plug directly in your iPhone when you want to see exactly what you’re catpuring, too.
There’s an Android version coming soon, too, so don’t feel left out if that’s your platform of choice. And if you’re looking for shooting options, there are a number of different ones including RAW support for images and Log format for video, which means you can do a lot when editing the resulting files. The camera also supports time-lapse capture, as well as full manual camera settings, and its output options also offer a range of different choices.
This is easily the best consumer 360 camera I’ve tried out so far, because of its range of options, and the results of its photos and video, which are high quality for a device that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars. Insta360’s stabilization, stitching and companion app are all terrific, and make working and sharing with the content you capture super easy.
The Insta360 One also supports Facebook Live streaming, which is great if you want to show off a special event or concert, and its 1080p video export feature is convenient for capturing everything and then setting a frame for sharing later. You can even track a specific subject using a feature called “SmartTrack,” to tag a face and have a resulting 1080p non-surround video output as well.
I also got to try it out with a Bluetooth remote and selfie stick that Insta360 plans to sell as accessories. There’s a forthcoming waterproof housing, too, that will turn this into an all-condition and even underwater camera, up to a depth of 30 meters. That’s definitely going to make it a constant vacation companion for me.
The world of 360 consumer cameras is admittedly getting a bit crowded, especially considering how many people are probably actually consuming 360 content. But the Insta360 One seems like a clear favorite now, even with its $299 price tag. There’s a lot of value in that price, and this is definitely my top recommendation right now if you’re looking to get into surround video and photos.
Orders are up now for the Insta360 One, and it’ll start shipping on September 5, with accessories available later. Is the box, you get a micro SD card, a micro USB cable for charging, the case and the string attachment for bullet time shots.
via TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
August 28, 2017 at 09:01AM
Epistle 3 Jam wants you to help create ‘Half-Life 3’
Taking what “Gertrude Fremont” suggested in Marc Laidlaw’s blog post and running with it, Half-Life fans around the world have come together to begin work on various interpretations of the final story in the original Half-Life saga. “Epistle 3 Jam,” as it’s called, is shining the Half-Life symbol into the sky with a call for everyone and anyone to help finish Gordon Freeman’s story once and for all.
For Half-Life fans, the last decade has been one filled with heartbreak, jokes, and disappointment as time and again it seemed Valve would fail to conclude the story it started back in the late ’90s. With former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw’s story, presented with gender-swapped names, they had somewhat of a written ending to the saga. Now some are looking to make it into a game, or rather a collection of them.
The Epistle 3 Jam charges fans with crafting any sort of Half-Life game based on Laidlaw’s story elements, and gives them a couple of months to do so. It has no style restrictions and no artistic limitations, but asks that fans use Laidlaw’s story as the basis for whatever they come up with.
There are 48 people already signed up to help create some semblance of a Half-Life 3 conclusion and one person has already submitted an attempt. Called Mr Gordon 3, it’s a little more meta than the game jam creators were probably expecting. It has text complaints about the real-life Valve company floating steadily toward an actual Valve, which players must defend by turning them into harmless compliments before they get there.
It’s a bit of silly fun but may be indicative of the kind of projects that come out of this game jam. Considering the time it’s taken Half-Life fans behind the Black Mesa modern remake to create that game, we shouldn’t expect a fully-fledged Half-Life 3 to materialize in the next few months. Especially considering there are so many elements of the story within Laidlaw’s original post that wouldn’t be particularly easy to interpret into a game. As he asked in some recent follow-up tweets, how do you even represent multiple timelines in a one-person shooter perspective?
via Digital Trends http://ift.tt/2p4eJdC
August 28, 2017 at 08:59AM
Harvey Flooding Dredges Up Gators, Fire Ants, and Bats
The remnants of Hurricane Harvey continue to dump rain on the Houston area. Flooding is only expected to get worse this week, with National Weather Service flood warnings lasting until Wednesday evening. And humans aren’t the only ones being affected by the storm’s wrath.
Texas news outlets are already reporting alligators and fire ant colonies floating through the water. Even a well-known bat colony has fallen victim. But not all of the reports are true—many of the same old viral images pop up whenever cities flood.
Harvey’s historic flooding really has dredged up animals, reported by the Meyerland Patch site and predicted by The Atlantic. The Houston Chronicle reports that Christy Kroboth from Houston’s Gator Squad was already called in to capture a five-foot alligator (five feet is fairly puny given how large they can actually grow).
Others are reporting that bats living beneath Waugh Bridge, a Houston tourist destination complete with a bat-viewing platform, are struggling to survive and washing up dead.
One of the more shocking videos to emerge from the flooding features colonies of fire ants floating to protect themselves. During floods, the ants form floating islands of stinging pain. One study, published in 2011 in the Journal of Experimental Biology, explains that the ants form the raft’s shape with their legs, and fill in the spaces with smaller ants, allowing for more connections to hold the raft together and better buoyancy.
But many of the photos that might pop up on your timelines are fakes, meant only to induce panic and clicks. The Fort Bend County’s Sheriff’s Office shared the old photos below, before Harvey made landfall, simply to warn residents of the potential for dangerous visitors. They’re appearing now as if they were taken during Harvey. Should these photos pop up on your news feeds and timelines—they’re old.
And then there’s this classic:
Snopes debunked this image back in 2011 during Hurricane Irene, and again in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew—there are not yet confirmed stories of sharks swimming down highways.
There are enough real, horrible and heartbreaking images to go around—and there really are gators and ants floating around Houston. The situation is awful, but it’s worth checking the source to ensure that you’re helping spread information and not adding to the panic.
[via Meyerland Patch]
via Gizmodo http://gizmodo.com
August 28, 2017 at 08:51AM