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NEW ORLEANS—Anyone who fancies themselves a fan of cocktails knows the names: the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Martini, Margarita, on and on and on. In the drinks world, such recipes have stood the test of time and grown into industry icons over decades. But unlike similar cultural colossuses elsewhere—from Mickey Mouse on screen or "Hey Jude" in the stereo—you can find the Negroni being deployed freely at virtually every bar in America. What gives?
"Can you copyright and own a recipe? A recipe in the eyes of the law doesn't have that creative spark," says attorney Andrea Mealey, an intellectual property expert who's done legal work for beverage companies like Gosling's Rum. During a panel on IP in the bar industry at the 2019 Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) conference, she next points at the ceiling in this conference room. "The design of that chandelier—someone had to come up with it. It's creative, and you can own copyright on that design. I can do a slightly different design and own that as well. But a recipe is like a phone book in the eyes of the law—you can't own something so factual."
In the modern drinks world, Mealey not-so-subtly implies copyright may be the most useless legal tool for enterprising bartenders. (You could at least patent some amazing new tool, in theory.) It's a not-so-dirty secret that many have increasingly become aware of in this modern cocktail renaissance, where a killer recipe at an influential bar can suddenly show up on menus worldwide with little more than a written credit. The US Copyright Office puts it plainly: "A mere listing of ingredients or contents, or a simple set of directions, is uncopyrightable."
And then it was all over.
After the drama of Apollo 13, the final four human missions to the Moon in 1971 and 1972 flew smoothly. With each successive, increasingly routine landing, astronauts made longer forays out onto the dusty lunar terrain and delved deeper into the scientific secrets hidden there.Apollo: The Greatest Leap
On the second evening of Prime Day, Amazon’s annual sales bonanza, Anne Marie Bressler received an email from Amazon that had nothing to do with the latest deals. The message, sent from an automated email address Tuesday, informed her that the Align nutritional supplements she ordered two weeks earlier were probably counterfeit. “If you still have this product, we recommend that you stop using it immediately and dispose of the item,” the email reads, adding that she would be receiving a full refund. It’s not clear how many other customers may have purchased the fake supplements. Amazon confirmed that it sent out the email but declined to specify the number of customers impacted.
For years, Amazon has battled third-party sellers who list knockoffs of everything from iPhone charging cables to soccer jerseys on its site. Nutritional supplements are another popular target for fakes, as it’s a largely unregulated industry. The US Food and Drug Administration has been criticized—including by former staff—for declining to test dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness the same way it does pharmaceuticals. In this instance, the problems came together: An Amazon merchant sold dupes of genuine probiotics made by Align, a Procter & Gamble brand.
“We are aware that some counterfeit Align product was sold on Amazon via third parties,” Mollie Wheeler, a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble, said in an email. “Amazon has confirmed they have stopped third party sales of the Align products in question and Amazon is only selling Align product received directly from P&G manufacturing facilities.”
Filtering out the bits of human knowledge you don't like and leaving all the bits you do is a deceptively difficult task; it's one of the classic "I may not know art, but I know what I (don't) like" problems. If you have a family with small children and absolutely any adult member of that family is not a complete libertine, though, it's a problem you'll need to address. The latest edition of the Disney-backed Circle filtering platform aims to help, via either a standalone IoT gadget ($35) or a service embedded in higher-end Netgear routers and mesh kits, such as Orbi RBK50 ($300) or Nighthawk R7000P ($160).
Twenty years ago, the problem was trying to keep an up-to-date database of everything on the Internet and whether it was naughty or not. In 2019, we've got the Big Data chops for that, but a larger problem has cropped up—end-to-end encryption. The HTTPS standard treats everything in between the website itself and the device you're viewing it on as potentially hostile. It keeps those potential hostiles from seeing or altering what you're doing. So while your router (or any other device in the middle) might be able to tell—or at least effectively guess—what website you're visiting, it has no idea what you're actually doing there.
That means filtering based on the actual content you're looking at isn't possible, and family filtering is a semi-blind guessing game. Many companies and devices claim to do it, but Circle is the first one I've seen that does it even tolerably well.
A new twist on lightweight organic materials shows promise for artificial-muscle applications. Chinese scientists spiked a crystalline organic material with a polymer to make it more flexible. They reported their findings in a new paper in ACS Central Science, demonstrating proof of concept by using their material to make an aluminum foil paper doll do sit-ups.
There's a lot of active research on developing better artificial muscles—manmade materials, actuators, or similar devices that mimic the contraction, expansion, and rotation (torque) characteristic of the movement of natural muscle. And small wonder, since they could be useful in a dizzying range of potential applications: robots, prosthetic limbs, powered exoskeletons, toys, wearable electronics, haptic interfaces, vehicles, and miniature medical devices, to name just a few. Most artificial muscles are designed to respond to electric fields, (such as electroactive polymers), changes in temperature (such as shape-memory alloys and fishing line), and changes in air pressure via pneumatics.
Yet artificial muscles typically weigh more than scientists would like and don't respond as quickly as needed for key applications. So scientists are keen to develop new types of artificial muscle that are lightweight and highly responsive. Just this past week, Science featured three papers from different research groups (at MIT, University of Texas at Dallas, and University of Bordeaux) describing three artificial-muscle technologies based on tiny twisted fibers that can store and release energy.
Hey. So, um, remember the end of Game of Thrones? If you were a fan of the show, you probably do. And there's a good chance it still stings. Daenerys Targaryen turned into a totalitarian dictator (if that can, indeed, be a thing). Then she died. Then Bran Stark—of all people!—was picked to rule Westeros. His sister Sansa became Queen in the North. And those are just the major plot points, the top of the crap-heap. It was, well, not beloved.
And the people who made that final season know it. To be clear, they don't entirely agree with the criticisms of the HBO show, they just know there was some blowback. A murderer's row of fan favorites from Game of Thrones—Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Conleth Hill (Varys), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Jacob Anderson (Greyworm), Liam Cunningham (Davos), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister)—showed up at Comic-Con International to both take a victory lap and go on a quick apology tour. (Showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, who were originally slated to appear, canceled two days ago.)
"I don't regret starting the petition," Hill joked when asked if he had any regrets over comments he made about his own disappointments, referencing the online petition to remake the show's eighth season. But, he added, "for the record I loved all my 10 years on Game of Thrones." Coster-Waldau went further, saying, "You look at the amount of people who are here, and we're here to thank you for watching us for all those years ... I think this is the reality [of how much people enjoyed the show], rather than media-led hate." People cheered.
All eyes were on San Diego Comic Con's Star Trek panel this year, as anticipation continues to build for Star Trek: Picard, the first Trek entry to feature Sir Patrick Stewart since the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis. And on Saturday, the series' handlers at CBS didn't disappoint.
A whopping two-minute trailer went well past "teaser" status with a smorgasbord of story, action, and detail for this CBS All-Access exclusive, all clarifying what little we knew from the first teaser in May. Picard's retirement to a vineyard was further clarified: it came, in part, because "Commander Data sacrificed his life for me." (This plot point is emphasized in the new trailer by Picard examining Data's body parts, all spread out and disconnected in a storage facility.)
Roughly two decades after that calamity, however, a mysterious, unnamed woman (Isa Briones) finds Picard on his retirement grounds and pleads with him: "Everything inside of me says that I'm safe with you." The woman's shapeshifting powers and athletic prowess are put on display before Picard returns to an apparent Starfleet outpost. That's where he declares his hunch to an admiral: "If she is who I think she is, she is in serious danger."
As Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise floated in the tunnel snaking between the Lunar Module and Command Module, he heard—and felt—a loud bang. Around him, the two vehicles began to contort. Then, the metal walls of the tunnel crinkled as the spacecraft shuddered.
Apollo: The Greatest Leap
“It really didn’t explode like something you think of with shrapnel,” Haise told Ars, in an interview. “It just over-pressurized, and then it let go some steam. If it had been a shrapnel-type explosion, I wouldn’t be here today.”
With this weekend's 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, it's worth remembering most conspiracy theories are more-or-less the same: a shadowy cabal of all-powerful, all-knowing elites comes together to manipulate us commoners, for whom they have nothing but contempt. The cabal changes—globalists, Lizard People, the media, the Vatican, whatevs—but the song remains the same.
So a few years back when I heard someone had made yet another a low-budget mockumentary about faking the Apollo 11 Moon landing, that's what I was expecting. Maybe even Kubrick would be evoked again. Instead, imagine my surprise when 2016's Operation Avalanche turned out to be light on conspiracy against the sheeple and heavy on a bumbling, baby-faced doofus who comes up with a plan to fake the Moon landing as basically a way to impress his boss.
Psychologists speculate that people are drawn to conspiracy theories because a world controlled by dark forces is still preferable to a world in which no one is at the controls. But truthers will find cold comfort in Operation Avalanche's view that the masters of the universe are more likely to be a grinning nincompoop whose best friend's wife greets him with "Don't touch me."
Imagine, if you will, the engineers of the king’s court after Humpty Dumpty’s disastrous fall. As panicked men apparently competed with horses for access to the site of the accident, perhaps the engineers were scoping out scenarios, looking for a better method of reassembling the poor fellow. But presumably none of those plans worked out, given the dark ending to that fairy tale.
A recent study published in Science Advances might be relatable for those fairy tale engineers. Published by Johannes Feldmann, Anders Levermann, and Matthias Mengel at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the study tackles a remarkable question: could we save vulnerable Antarctic glaciers with artificial snow?Keeping our cool
Antarctica’s ice is divided into two separate ice sheets by a mountain range, with the smaller but much more vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet representing one of the biggest wildcards for future sea level rise. In 2014, a study showed that two of the largest glaciers within that ice sheet—known as the Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier—had likely crossed a tipping point, guaranteeing a large amount of future ice loss that would continue even if global warming were halted today.
Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.
Even Terminator has a board game now. In the “golden age” of tabletop gaming, companies and licensing have brought us a wealth of titles, including those that no one was asking for (I’m looking at you, Ghostbusters and Wacky Races). Is Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance something to get excited about?
A federal court on Wednesday rejected claims by an unlicensed “health coach” that the unqualified health advice she provided to paying clients was protected speech under the First Amendment.
In rejecting her claim, the court affirmed that states do indeed have the right to require that anyone charging for health and medical services—in this case, dietetics and nutrition advice—be qualified and licensed. (State laws governing who can offer personalized nutrition services vary considerably, however.)
Heather Del Castillo, a “holistic health coach” based in Florida, brought the case in October of 2017 shortly after she was busted in an undercover investigation by the state health department. At the time, Del Castillo was running a health-coaching business called Constitution Nutrition, which offered a personalized, six-month health and dietary program. The program involved 13 in-home consulting sessions, 12 of which cost $95 each.
If you’ve been grumbling about the rising cost of your Netflix account, it seems you’re not alone. Netflix shared its second-quarter financial results and the company indicated that higher prices may have led to dips in the platform’s subscriber counts.
Revenue for the video streaming service totaled $4.92 billion in the second quarter, up 26% year-over-year. Net income was $271 million, with $0.60 earnings per share. Both those figures were down from Q2 in 2018 and from Q1 of 2019.
Netflix added 2.7 million paid members during the period, a big cut from the 5 million it expected to see and from the 5.5 million recorded in the year-ago quarter. “Our missed forecast was across all regions, but slightly more so in regions with price increases,” the shareholder letter read. The company insisted that competition from other platforms was not a concern, but rather that the shows it had for the second quarter weren’t enough to inspire people to subscribe.
Frank Pearce, one of Blizzard Entertainment's three original founding staffers, announced his intention to leave the game-making company on Friday, effective immediately.
Pearce's announcement came via a Friday blog post at Blizzard's official site, which was appended with a note from current Blizzard president J. Allen Brack. The combined blog post indicates that last year, Pearce "stepped into an advisory role to help with the transition," which seems to indicate that his departure has been some time coming. It's unclear whether this advisory-transition period began anywhere near the time another Blizzard co-founder, Mike Morhaime, left the company in October 2018.
The departure of Pearce as chief product officer leaves only one of Blizzard Entertainment's original co-founders, Allen Adham, at the helm. Adham returned to Blizzard in 2016 after a ten-year game-development hiatus to become the company's senior vice president. Adham, Pearce, and Morhaime founded the company, which was first named Silicon & Synapse, in 1991. Their first video game under the S&S label was RPM Racing for the SNES.
Verizon's 5G mobile service is available in just a handful of cities, but the carrier is charging premium prices to the few people who live in range of the network.
Verizon yesterday announced its first 5G hotspot, namely the Inseego MiFi M1000 that Verizon is selling for $650. On top of the device cost, the monthly fees for 5G service will be higher than 4G even though Verizon's 5G network barely exists.
Verizon said hotspot-only plans "start at $85 a month (plus taxes and fees)." Verizon describes the $85-per-month hotspot plan as "unlimited" when you go through the online checkout process. But the fine print states that customers get 50GB of high-speed 5G data, and 5G speeds are reduced to 3Mbps after that. The plan treats 5G and 4G data separately; it provides 15GB of high-speed 4G data and slows users down to 600kbps after that. Verizon allows 4K video streaming on 5G, while limiting video on the 4G network to 720p.
On Friday, a day before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, President Trump invited the crew of that mission to the Oval Office. Seated, Trump was flanked by Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and the children of Commander Neil Armstrong.
During the 20-minute ceremony, Trump praised the efforts of the Apollo 11 crew and NASA in achieving the first Moon landing half a century ago. But pretty quickly, he pivoted to his own administration's plans for sending humans to the Moon—and eventually Mars. The administration's Artemis Program, which calls for humans to return to the Moon by 2024, has been heavily promoted by the space agency as of late.
However, Trump seems much more interested in sending humans to Mars, which he considers more inspirational than a trip back to the Moon.
Yesterday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that's been described as the state's Green New Deal. Unlike the one that's been floated in Congress, this one isn't a grab-bag collection of social and energy programs. Instead, there's a strong focus on energy, with assurances that changes will be made in a way that benefits underprivileged communities.
The bill was passed by both houses of the New York legislature last month, but Cuomo held off on signing it so he could pair it with an announcement that suggests the new plan's goals are realistic. The state has now signed contracts for two wind farms that will have a combined capacity of 1.7 GW. If they open as planned in under five years, they will turn New York into the US's leading producer of offshore wind power.What’s the (social) deal?
The national Green New Deal did include some energy-focused plans, but it mixed them in with aspirational ideas like a guaranteed basic income. It's hard to understand how New York's plan has picked up the same name given that it's nothing like the national one. While there is some nod to New-Deal-like programs (the law will create a Climate Justice Working Group for instance), those aspects are limited in scope to issues brought up by transitions in the energy economy. Instead, the majority of the law is focused on changing the state's energy landscape.
A forthcoming research paper [PDF] from researchers at Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pennsylvania brings up the possibility that Google and Facebook might be tracking your porn history—and, perhaps more worrisome, that using Incognito mode doesn't help.
The paper, set to be published in the journal New Media & Society, does an excellent job of backing up the claim that porn usage ends up being tracked by Google and Facebook. Authors Elena Maris, Timothy Libert, and Jennifer Henrichsen used open source tool webxray to analyze more than 22,000 porn sites, discovering tracking code for Google on 74% and for Facebook on 10% of the sites analyzed. Software giant Oracle's Web tracking code also showed up, appearing on 24% of those sites.
In light of the study, a Facebook spokesperson told CNET, "We don't want adult websites using our business tools since that type of content is a violation of our Community Standards. When we learn that these types of sites or apps use our tools, we enforce against them." Google told The New York Times that the company disallows ads on adult sites and directly prohibits adding information based on sexual interest or activities to any personalized advertising profiles.
Google Chrome 76 will close a loophole that websites use to detect when people use the browser's Incognito Mode.
Over the past couple of years, you may have noticed some websites preventing you from reading articles while using a browser's private mode. The Boston Globe began doing this in 2017, requiring people to log in to paid subscriber accounts in order to read in private mode. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers impose identical restrictions.
Chrome 76—which is in beta now and is scheduled to hit the stable channel on July 30—prevents these websites from discovering that you're in private mode. Google explained the change yesterday in a blog post titled, "Protecting private browsing in Chrome."
As inevitably happens in August, a sweltering heat with the tactility of dog's breath had come over Houston when Raja Chari reported to the Johnson Space Center. Just shy of his 40th birthday, the decorated combat veteran and test pilot had been born too late to see humans walking on the Moon. No matter, he was in awe of the new office.Apollo: The Greatest Leap
The son of an immigrant from India, Chari grew up in the heartland of America and grasped onto the American dream. He worked hard in school, and then in the Air Force, to become an astronaut. So when Chari finally got to Johnson Space Center in 2017 as a member of its newest astronaut class, his sense of achievement mingled with reverence. He found himself in the cradle of human spaceflight, where the Mercury 7 and Apollo astronauts had trained. Chari felt a wide-eyed wonderment for the people around him, too. The engineers. The flight controllers. His fellow astronauts.
“Honestly, it’s all about the people,” he told Ars just a few weeks after moving to Houston. “We’re all caught up in this sense of mission. The people here, my colleagues, are what really stand out. I can’t wait to go to work with them every day.”