Sensual fresco discovered in ancient Pompeii bedroom
Monday, November 19
ROME (AP) — Archaeologists have found a fresco in an ancient Pompeii bedroom that depicts a sensual scene of the Roman god Jupiter, disguised as a swan, and a legendary queen of Sparta from Greek mythology.
The figure of Leda being impregnated by the god in swan form was a fairly common home decoration theme in Pompeii and Herculaneum, another town destroyed in A.D. 79 by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius near present-day Naples.
But Pompeii archaeological park director Massimo Osanna praised this fresco as exceptional since it was painted to make it appear Leda was looking at whoever saw the fresco upon entering the bedroom.
“Leda watches the spectator with a sensuality that’s absolutely pronounced,” Osanna told Italian news agency ANSA.
The fresco’s details include a depiction of Leda protecting the swan with her cloak as the bird sits on her lap.
Osanna noted the fresco’s context of the Greek “myth of love, with an explicit sensuality in a bedroom where, obviously beside sleep, there could be other activities.”
The fresco, with its colors still remarkably vivid, was discovered Friday during ongoing work to consolidate the ancient city’s structures after rains and wear-and-tear in past years caused some ruins to collapse, the tourist site’s officials said.
The bedroom is located near a corridor by the entranceway of an upscale domus, or home, where another splendid fresco was discovered earlier this year, said the archaeological park, which is part of the Italian Culture Ministry.
Leda is an important figure in Greek mythology. She was said to have borne children fathered by the god Zeus, the Greek version of Jupiter, and by a mortal king of Sparta. According to myth, her children included the beautiful Helen of Troy and the twins Castor and Pollux.
Osanna said one hypothesis is that the home’s owner was a rich merchant who wanted to give the impression he was culturally advanced by incorporating myth-inspired frescoes. It appeared the artist was inspired by a 4th century B.C. sculpture by Timotheos, he said.
Because of safety concerns, unexcavated parts of the domus will probably remain that way, ANSA said. Archaeologists are considering removing both frescos found in the home to a place where “they can be protected and shown to the public,” Osanna was quoted as saying.
Pompeii’s sprawling, partially excavated grounds are one of Italy’s top tourist attractions.
Maine congressional election an important test of ranked-choice voting
November 15, 2018
Law Professor in Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Election Law, University of Memphis
Steven Mulroy does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
In Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, an innovative vote-counting system is having its trial run in a federal election.
No candidate received a majority of the overall vote. Rather, it was split between four candidates – a Democrat, a Republican and two left-leaning independent candidates who garnered 8 percent of the votes between them. As a result, Maine is using the ranked-choice voting counting process to determine a majority winner.
As a University of Memphis law professor, I’ve studied and published on ranked-choice voting for years, and have a book on it coming out next month. Naturally, I find the inaugural use of ranked-choice voting fascinating. I also believe it’s a significant step forward for election reform.
Under ranked-choice voting (more precisely, the variety of ranked-choice voting also known as “instant runoffs”) voters can rank their candidates in order of preference – first, second, third and so on. If no candidate gets a majority of first-place votes, the system eliminates the candidate with the fewest first-place votes. In Maine, that will mean eliminating independent candidate Will Hoar, who got only 2.4 percent of the vote.
The system then redistributes the votes for that eliminated candidate among the remaining candidates based on the second choices indicated by voters. If a candidate now has a majority of votes, that candidate wins. If there’s still no majority winner, the system again eliminates the weakest candidate and transfers the votes as before, with the process continuing until there is a majority winner.
Ranked-choice voting is used in more than 10 U.S. cities. Six states use it for overseas ballots. Australia has used it for over 100 years. The Oscars use it, as does the Heisman Trophy.
Maine voters adopted ranked-choice voting by referendum in 2016. Court challenges and state legislative action delayed implementation, but voters reaffirmed their support in a second referendum in 2018.
Maine used ranked-choice voting for the primary elections for statewide offices this June. In the 2nd Congressional District, Jared Golden won the Democratic nomination in the second round. Republican incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin was unopposed; he won without need of the ranked choice voting counting method.
Proponents cite a number of advantages of this system. It allows for a majority winner without the trouble, expense and historically low turnout of a runoff. By reducing campaign costs for the runoff, it levels the playing field for lesser-funded candidates, making elections more competitive. It also encourages civil campaigns. Candidates want to be the first choice of their own base, but the second choice of their opponents’ bases. Thus, they’re less willing to risk alienating those voters with attack ads.
Critics say ranked-choice voting is too confusing for voters, or too hard to administer. However, it has been successfully implemented in over 200 local elections in over a dozen U.S. cities over the past 20 years, without mass voter confusion. Vote-counting in this district’s November general election is expected to conclude before Thanksgiving – not fast, but faster than scheduling a run-off.
Ranked-choice voting also solves the “vote-splitting” problem common to plurality, or “first past the post” systems, where a candidate can win with less than 50 percent as long as he gets more votes than other candidates. If too many candidates who reflect the majority’s view run, they will split that vote. That allows a candidate with 40 percent of the vote to win – even though 60 percent of the voters would say, “anybody but him.” Maine elected controversial Gov. Paul LePage with only 37 percent of the vote. During that election, liberal voters were split between a Democrat and a left-leaning third-party candidate.
A similar dynamic occurred in Maine during the midterms. Two left-leaning independent candidates, Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar, got 5.8 percent and 2.4 percent of the vote respectfully, enough to deny both the Democratic and Republican candidate a majority.
Democratic nominee Golden is expected to win under ranked-choice voting. The reasoning goes that many liberals who voted for the independent candidates likely ranked him second. If true, it would be the first time a Maine incumbent lost in over 100 years – demonstrating the rank-choice voting proponents’ claim that the system makes elections more competitive.
Fearing precisely that dynamic, Republican Poliquin has filed a lawsuit challenging the process.
The lawsuit alleges that anything other than a plurality election for the U.S. House violates the Constitution and federal civil rights statutes. But nothing in the text of the Constitution requires a plurality-only election for the U.S. House. The cases cited in the complaint merely say states are allowed to permit plurality elections, not that they must require them. Indeed, the Elections Clause of the Constitution provides that each state can “prescribe” the “Manner of holding Elections for … Representatives.” That’s how other states can and do require congressional candidates to win with a majority, using separate runoff elections where necessary
Moreover, this lawsuit is probably filed too late. The proper time to raise these issues would have been before the election.
For these reasons, I think the legal challenge will fail, and we will see, for the first time in U.S. history, a congressional race decided using this innovative new system.
Sci-fi movies are the secret weapon that could help Silicon Valley grow up
November 15, 2018
Director, Risk Innovation Lab, Arizona State University
Andrew Maynard is author of the book “Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies” (published by Mango), on which this article is based.
Arizona State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
If there’s one line that stands the test of time in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic “Jurassic Park,” it’s probably Jeff Goldblum’s exclamation, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, was warning against the hubris of naively tinkering with dinosaur DNA in an effort to bring these extinct creatures back to life. Twenty-five years on, his words are taking on new relevance as a growing number of scientists and companies are grappling with how to tread the line between “could” and “should” in areas ranging from gene editing and real-world “de-extinction” to human augmentation, artificial intelligence and many others.
Despite growing concerns that powerful emerging technologies could lead to unexpected and wide-ranging consequences, innovators are struggling with how to develop beneficial new products while being socially responsible. Part of the answer could lie in watching more science fiction movies like “Jurassic Park.”
Hollywood lessons in societal risks
I’ve long been interested in how innovators and others can better understand the increasingly complex landscape around the social risks and benefits associated with emerging technologies. Growing concerns over the impacts of tech on jobs, privacy, security and even the ability of people to live their lives without undue interference highlight the need for new thinking around how to innovate responsibly.
New ideas require creativity and imagination, and a willingness to see the world differently. And this is where science fiction movies can help.
Sci-fi flicks are, of course, notoriously unreliable when it comes to accurately depicting science and technology. But because their plots are often driven by the intertwined relationships between people and technology, they can be remarkably insightful in revealing social factors that affect successful and responsible innovation.
This is clearly seen in “Jurassic Park.” The movie provides a surprisingly good starting point for thinking about the pros and cons of modern-day genetic engineering and the growing interest in bringing extinct species back from the dead. But it also opens up conversations around the nature of complex systems that involve both people and technology, and the potential dangers of “permissionless” innovation that’s driven by power, wealth and a lack of accountability.
Similar insights emerge from a number of other movies, including Spielberg’s 2002 film “Minority Report” – which presaged a growing capacity for AI-enabled crime prediction and the ethical conundrums it’s raising – as well as the 2014 film “Ex Machina.”
As with “Jurassic Park,” “Ex Machina” centers around a wealthy and unaccountable entrepreneur who is supremely confident in his own abilities. In this case, the technology in question is artificial intelligence.
The movie tells a tale of an egotistical genius who creates a remarkable intelligent machine – but he lacks the awareness to recognize his limitations and the risks of what he’s doing. It also provides a chilling insight into potential dangers of creating machines that know us better than we know ourselves, while not being bound by human norms or values.
The result is a sobering reminder of how, without humility and a good dose of humanity, our innovations can come back to bite us.
The technologies in “Jurassic Park,” “Minority Report” and “Ex Machina” lie beyond what is currently possible. Yet these films are often close enough to emerging trends that they help reveal the dangers of irresponsible, or simply naive, innovation. This is where these and other science fiction movies can help innovators better understand the social challenges they face and how to navigate them.
Real-world problems worked out on-screen
In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, journalist Kara Swisher asked, “Who will teach Silicon Valley to be ethical?” Prompted by a growing litany of socially questionable decisions amongst tech companies, Swisher suggests that many of them need to grow up and get serious about ethics. But ethics alone are rarely enough. It’s easy for good intentions to get swamped by fiscal pressures and mired in social realities.
Elon Musk has shown that brilliant tech innovators can take ethical missteps along the way. AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Technology companies increasingly need to find some way to break from business as usual if they are to become more responsible. High-profile cases involving companies like Facebook and Uber as well as Tesla’s Elon Musk have highlighted the social as well as the business dangers of operating without fully understanding the consequences of people-oriented actions.
Many more companies are struggling to create socially beneficial technologies and discovering that, without the necessary insights and tools, they risk blundering about in the dark.
For instance, earlier this year, researchers from Google and DeepMind published details of an artificial intelligence-enabled system that can lip-read far better than people. According to the paper’s authors, the technology has enormous potential to improve the lives of people who have trouble speaking aloud. Yet it doesn’t take much to imagine how this same technology could threaten the privacy and security of millions – especially when coupled with long-range surveillance cameras.
Developing technologies like this in socially responsible ways requires more than good intentions or simply establishing an ethics board. People need a sophisticated understanding of the often complex dynamic between technology and society. And while, as Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker suggests, scientists and technologists engaging with the humanities can be helpful, it’s not enough.
Movies are an easy way into a serious discipline
The “new formulation” of complementary skills Baker says innovators desperately need already exists in a thriving interdisciplinary community focused on socially responsible innovation. My home institution, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, is just one part of this.
Experts within this global community are actively exploring ways to translate good ideas into responsible practices. And this includes the need for creative insights into the social landscape around technology innovation, and the imagination to develop novel ways to navigate it.
Here is where science fiction movies become a powerful tool for guiding innovators, technology leaders and the companies where they work. Their fictional scenarios can reveal potential pitfalls and opportunities that can help steer real-world decisions toward socially beneficial and responsible outcomes, while avoiding unnecessary risks.
And science fiction movies bring people together. By their very nature, these films are social and educational levelers. Look at who’s watching and discussing the latest sci-fi blockbuster, and you’ll often find a diverse cross-section of society. The genre can help build bridges between people who know how science and technology work, and those who know what’s needed to ensure they work for the good of society.
This is the underlying theme in my new book “Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies.” It’s written for anyone who’s curious about emerging trends in technology innovation and how they might potentially affect society. But it’s also written for innovators who want to do the right thing and just don’t know where to start.
Of course science fiction films alone aren’t enough to ensure socially responsible innovation. But they can help reveal some profound societal challenges facing technology innovators and possible ways to navigate them. And what better way to learn how to innovate responsibly than to invite some friends round, open the popcorn and put on a movie?
It certainly beats being blindsided by risks that, with hindsight, could have been avoided.
Otterbein University Theatre and Dance presents Dance 2018: “Gloriously Grimm”
Westerville, OH—Otterbein University’s Department of Theatre and Dance presents Dance 2018: “Gloriously Grimm” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29; 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2; and 8 p.m. on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, in the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove Street. Tickets cost $22. Call 614-823-1109 or visit www.otterbein.edu/drama.
The concert, which has been conceived and choreographed by Otterbein University faculty, is set to the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.
“The beautiful, frightening, poignant images from Grimms’ fairy tales are everlasting,” Artistic Director and Choreographer Stella Hiatt Kane said of the concert’s theme. “The brothers’ glorious narratives conjure castles and moonlit forests dotted with silver glistening trees; shoes that dance and mirrors that speak; evil stepmothers and royalty; lessons learned and rewards earned; and even a path to heaven covered with lilies and roses.”
Otterbein Theatre and Dance faculty have set the tales — including Rapunzel, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, and The Pied Piper — to dance in the styles of ballet, jazz, modern, and tap.
The world illustrated by the Brothers Grimm is further enhanced by spectacular full-stage projections and lighting created by guest designer Andy Baker and student Jessica Palagano and elaborate costuming designed by faculty member Rebecca White and student Thomas Martin.
Palagano, a senior design technology student from Hilliard, also designed the lighting for Otterbein Theatre and Dance productions of The Tragedy of Macbeth, The Launch, and Dance 2017: Gloriously Grimm. Next spring, she will be interning as an entertainment tech professional at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Martin is a sophomore design technology student from Worthington, Ohio, and is executing his first design at Otterbein, having previously worked as a draper on other university productions.
Tickets are $22 each and can be reserved by calling the Otterbein University box office at (614) 823-1109 or purchased online at www.otterbein.edu/drama. The box office is open 12-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour prior to performances. The box office is located in Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove Street.
Otterbein University Theatre and Dance presents:
Dance 2018: “Gloriously Grimm”
Nov. 29 – Dec 2, 2018
Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St., Westerville
Artistic Direction by: Stella Hiatt-Kane
Choreography by: Scott Brown, Anna Elliott, Stella Hiatt-Kane, & Christeen Stridsberg
Scenic Designer: Rebecca White
Costume Designer: Rebecca White & Thomas Martin
Lighting Designer: Andy Baker & Jessica Palagano
Sound Designer: Keya Myers-Alkire
All performances at the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove Street, Westerville.
Thursday, Nov. 29 7:30 p.m. (Opening night performance; includes post-performance reception.)
Friday, Nov. 30 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 1 8 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 2 2 p.m.
ANNIE MOSES BAND IN CONCERT
AWARD-WINNING SIBLING BAND MAKES BIG STOP IN MARION OH, JANUARY 12TH
PBS sensation and classical-crossover artist, Annie Moses Band, well-known for their fiery string playing and soulful renditions of beloved American songs, are bringing their show, Annie Moses Band in Concert, to Marion, OH for a spectacular concert event at The Marion Palace Theatre, Saturday, January 12th 2018.
These siblings began training at a young age, first in classical music (their studies took them to the Juilliard School) and then expanded into an astonishing variety of genres including folk, bluegrass, and pop. Showcasing dueling strings in challenging virtuosic passages and a heartfelt lyricism, the Annie Moses Band combines technical skill with exhilarating showmanship.
This family of musicians is at home in every style of music, whether it’s an epic re-imagining of Gershwin and Copland classics (“Rhapsody in Bluegrass” “Summertime” “Hoedown”), a re-imagining of Paul Williams’ “Just An Old Fashioned Love Song”, a spellbinding rendition of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” or classics like “I Only Have Eyes For You”, “Nat King Cole Medley” and Don McLean’s “And I Love You So.” The band’s original songwriting and innovative arranging are also on call in beautiful ballads (“Deep In The Fescue Meadow”) or show-stopping fiddle fusion (“Orange Blossom Special”) and songs filled with spectacular wonder, like “In The New World” “Choctaw Cowboy” and “West Pioneer”. Annie Moses Band in Concert is a colorful ride of musical Americana that will have you humming long after the show is over!
Whether you’re a family intrigued by this family’s musical dynamics or a couple looking for a night out on the town, Annie Moses Band in Concert is a perfect outing. So don’t miss Annie Moses Band in Concert at The Marion Palace Theatre, Saturday, January 12th 2018, at 8:00PM. Tickets available at www.anniemosesband.com/tour/marion-oh