Friday, July 25, 2014

How Nicole Perlman Became the First Woman to Write a Marvel Movie

How Nicole Perlman Became the First Woman to Write a Marvel Movie

How Nicole Perlman Became the First Woman to Write a Marvel Movie

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 11:00 AM PDT

Nicole Perlman’s interest in space started early — and with the help of real-life rocket scientists. When she was growing up in Boulder, Colo., in what she calls “a very nerdy family,” her father would host a science-fiction book club that counted among its members many employees of the aeronautics companies based in the area. The rocket scientists would come to her house and discuss their favorite books; noticing her interest, her father bought the 15-year-old Perlman copies of physicist Richard Feynman’s two autobiographies.

That fateful gift started Perlman, now 33, on a path that led to her writing Guardians of the Galaxy, in theaters Aug. 1. The movie is Marvel’s big leap away from its more established superhero properties into the depths of outer space. It’s also the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a woman as a credited writer — but getting there wasn’t exactly easy.

While in college, Perlman had written a script called Challenger about — no coincidence — Richard Feynman. The project garnered major acclaim and landed her on Variety‘s 2006 list of writers to watch. But the script never became a movie, and neither did any of the other projects — like a Neil Armstrong biopic and a Wright Brothers project — that came her way in its wake. And, though she felt pigeon-holed into the biopic space, she was having trouble getting where she wanted to be, which was sci-fi. That trouble was no coincidence.

“[Science-fiction movies] are the kinds of movies I enjoy watching, much as I really enjoy history and science,” she recalls, “but I was noticing that I was having trouble convincing people, when I was pitching on projects, that I would be capable of doing this. There was a little bit of an attitude of, ‘Well, you're a woman, you're not writing romantic comedies, we'll give you the Marie Curie biopic.’"

She kept trying. She pitched one company a project with a sample that they loved, but they told her that even though they appreciated her take on the article they had optioned they weren’t sure she could write the more action-heavy parts. “They kept saying, ‘This is a guy’s movie, you know, it’s really a guy’s movie.’ I didn’t want to say, ‘Are you saying a woman can’t write a guy’s movie?’” Perlman recalls. “What is a guy’s movie anyway? If you’re making a movie that’s just for one gender, what’s the point?’”

That frustration was how she wound up at Marvel. Back in 2009, the company launched a writer’s program that sounds like something along the lines of the old studio system: several writers would sign on for a period of two years to work full-time on Marvel properties and see what happened. It was a risk, untested and defying the typical screenwriter schedule, which usually involves stacking several projects at different stages, and it came with no guarantee that anything would make it to production. But Perlman applied and decided that, when she got it, this was her chance to show the world that she could do it, to write science fiction at a company where risks could be taken (and where, during the filming of Iron Man explosions, the buildings would shake).

She was offered several lesser-known Marvel properties to focus on, and she chose Guardians, once again defying expectations despite its obvious match with her sci-fi propensities. She wanted a project where the “super”-ness of the heroes came from their personal histories and their planetary origins, not weird circumstances like radioactive spiders or chemicals.

“I can't tell you what the other titles were that they were offering up on the table, but I can tell you that one of them was a little bit more appropriate for me, just based on gender,” she says. “I think they were a little taken aback when I chose Guardians, because there were ones that would make a lot more sense if you were a romantic-comedy writer or something like that."

Perlman immersed herself in the Guardians universe — a more complicated feat than she had anticipated, given the sprawling world of the series — and spent two years writing a draft. “I was definitely the only woman screenwriter that I’m aware of,” she says, “but they never made me feel disenfranchised for being a woman, which I really appreciated because I definitely have felt that at other studios.” In late 2011, she was asked for another draft with a quick turnaround, and in early 2012, James Gunn, who shares the writing credit with Perlman and also directed Guardians, came on board to work on the script. That was pretty much the end of Perlman’s involvement with the movie.

But Guardians was already on its way to being the first Marvel writers’ program script to make it to production. (It’s not uncommon for a movie project like Guardians to have several rounds of writers, often more than are credited, as credits are determined by complicated guild regulations. Perlman herself has been in that situation: she worked on Thor while at Marvel without a credit, just as it’s possible that other female screenwriters before her time worked on Marvel projects without writing credits.)

Perlman’s not really part of the Guardians publicity machine — “There’s not a lot of reason for me to be out there on the promotional junket,” she explains — but it’s hard to believe that she would have time for it, anyway. Her IMDb page is unlikely to keep its one-project-only status for long, as she’s working on a feature film project with Cirque du Soleil, a TV project, a sci-fi adaptation of the book The Fire Sermon for DreamWorks and several other passion projects. She’s also on the steering committee of the Science & Entertainment Exchange, a National Academy of Sciences effort to encourage writers and other creative people to connect with real scientists for science-inspired projects.

Though she was done writing by the time Guardians began shooting, Perlman did get to visit the set — an experience she describes as comparable to telling someone about your dream and then seeing them recreate it based on their idea of it: surreal and amazing and full of things you didn’t even know you had thought up.

Including explosions.

“I like to think I can be just as good at blowing up things as I am at crafting relationships between characters,” Perlman says. “I went out of my way to try and tell a story that was a little more unusual because I didn't want to bring anything that was weak to the table as a female writer. You don't want to be a woman writer about whom people could say 'a woman can't write science fiction.' I think that in that way it very much spurred me to do the best work that I could. But I didn't add more romance because I was a woman or anything like that."

That said, Perlman hopes that, despite reaching a gender milestone at Marvel, being “a woman writer” — as opposed to just “a writer” — is a time-limited thing. Of the attention being paid to comic-book Thor’s upcoming female incarnation and the new Miss Marvel (written by a friend of Perlman’s, G. Willow Wilson), Perlman says she sees why it’s important to pay attention to women making inroads in the comic-book world, herself included. But she hopes that attention is soon paid for other reasons. “I do still feel like it's a little bit like, ‘Wow, it's so crazy that a woman is doing this!’ I look forward to the time when it won't be that crazy,” she says.

And there’s already evidence that that future is here: Perlman appeared on an all-female Comic-Con panel about science-fiction in Hollywood on Thursday, but the gender of its participants wasn’t mentioned in its title. “I thought that was so great, because that's the obvious hook: like, put these women in a box and let's all look at them! It's just like these are people who are working and they all have stories to tell and they happen to be women,” she says. “I think we're not there yet, but that's where it's headed."

Probiotics Primer: What Science Says About Using Bacteria to Treat Disease

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:58 AM PDT

After training ourselves for so long to avoid bacteria — they’re responsible for serious illnesses, some of which can be life-threatening — it may be time to re-think microbes. Or at least think more broadly about them. We live in concert with millions of bacteria — on our skin and in our mouths, noses guts and reproductive tracts — and these bugs are essential to helping us digest food and keep some of their more unhealthy bretheren at bay.

But do we need to help these invisible populations along by taking probiotics, concoctions of live microorganisms in things like yogurt or increasingly in supplements, that mimic those living in the body? Recent studies link probiotics and healthy bacteria to improving a wide range of health issues, from allergies to obesity. But manipulating the microbiome, as this universe is known, is still based on a very preliminary understanding of what these bugs do and how changing their communities can affect human health. There is a lot, experts say, that we don’t know. Here’s the latest on whether we should be considering probiotics and if so, when and how to take them.

How do I know if I need probiotics?

You probably don’t. Bacterial populations can’t be measured like cells in blood tests, and what’s more important, there’s little solid evidence yet about whether there is a “normal” healthy microbiome. That also means that it’s not clear whether changes in these communities can actually cause disease, or that “fixing” these differences can treat disease symptoms.

The exception may be some severe digestive and gastrointestinal problems, for which doctors may recommend probiotics. Some doctors are using probiotics to combat diarrhea associated with antibiotic use among kids, for example. But these conditions affect only a small percent of the population and don’t involve regular and constant doses of probiotics.

Do we need to be taking probiotic supplements?

No. The supplement industry may suggest that probiotics taken regularly in pill form can be helpful for almost everyone, but there isn’t much science to support that idea, at least not yet. “The supplement industry will often take early science and run with it,” says Gail Cresci of the department of gastroenterology and hepatology at the Cleveland Clinic. She also notes that since supplements are not regulated in the strict way drugs are, consumers won’t know which strains they’re getting when the pick up probiotic supplements, and they also won’t know if those strains are right for treating whatever it is that ails them.

Each of us is home to about 8,000 strains of bacteria, and very few of these have been studied enough to know that they can provide a definite health benefit if we boost their numbers. That’s largely because the microbiome is constantly changing, and even if one strain helps address a child’s diarrhea after taking antibiotics, it may not have the same effect in adults. Our microbiomes change with age, our diet and other factors. “The general, average Joe, does not need to be taking any [probiotic] supplements,” says Cresci. “By taking a supplement, you do not know if the strains included will help you or not. You’re wasting your money.”

What about yogurt?

According to Cresci, the definition for a probiotic is very stringent. While there’s plenty of different bacteria out there, to be considered a probiotic, the bacteria has to be able to survive the environment in the intestines, colon, and provide some sort of benefit for the host. The average yogurt bacteria doesn’t meet these standards, and even if companies toss in another strain, there is still no telling whether it will provide you with any benefit at all. That’s why Dannon, makers of Activia and DanActive, agreed to remove claims that its probiotic products relieved irregularity and could lower the chances of catching a cold or flu when the Federal Trade Commission considered the marketing as false advertising. (There are plenty of other healthy reasons to eat yogurt, such as for the protein and calcium; just don’t expect it to make you regular.)

So, what are probiotics good for?

So far, evidence suggests that probiotics, in addition to other treatments, might be helpful for restoring the balance of microbial communities in digestive tract conditions like inflammatory bowel diseases, which include disorders like Crohn’s. And it may help with constipation, and for preventing diarrhea–especially caused by antibiotics. They are also being studied for treatment for skin infections, allergies, blood pressure, and immune system disorders. But all of these potential uses are still being investigated.

What should I do for good gut health?

If you want to stay regular and maintain a healthy digestive system, says Cresci, “Keep a healthy diet and maintain the good bacteria community already in your gut. Taking a random supplement is just a drop in the ocean.”

We may one day turn to probiotics to help with a number of conditions, but the time, say experts isn’t now.

deadmau5 Sounds Off on DJs, Antagonizing Everyone and His Label: Q&A

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:49 AM PDT

deadmau5 is a busy man. Joel Zimmerman, the Canadian electronic music producer known best by his stage name, not only just released his first double album, while(1<2), but also just finished competing in the Gumball 3000 rally, a Cannonball Run-style race that runs from Miami to Ibiza. While Zimmerman’s race in his Nyancat-decorated Ferrari was cut short due to a license suspension in France, his album was racing to the top of the dance charts, debuting at #1 on the iTunes chart and #4 on Billboard.

while(1<2) shows deadmau5 at this best — pairing unforgettable beats and hooks with sparse, film score-esque soundscapes and pushing the boundaries of the electronic and dance music form into minimalist atmospherics. The album is his first on Astralwerks and clocks in at a whopping 25 tracks, including remixes of two Trent Reznor songs, "Ice Age" by How To Destroy Angels and "Survivalism" by Nine Inch Nails.

Zimmerman recently remixed the ambitious album; TIME is premiering that track here:

TIME talked to the producer over IM about making music, picking fights and racing his so-called “Purrari”:

TIME: Do you still enjoy strapping on your mau5 head?

Deadmau5: At times. Other times it's just uncomfortable, physically.

You just released a new track called Carbon Cookie. Can you tell me about that?

I had 30 minutes to kill. Not sure what I was doing, I think I was starting some track for half a second there and then facepalmed…. and just went with it. They usually end up in the recycling bin to be honest, I just figured whatever, but surprisingly enough, there was a melody in there that I'm throwing onto another track… so it wasn't a total loss.

Were you trying to make a comment about EDM or just having fun?

A bit of both, I guess. They go hand in hand for me, but it's hard to comment on anything “EDM” and not have a laugh.

What would you call electronic dance music?

Well, EDM used to be the broad term for it, I thought…. but I don't know. I rarely follow the s–t as it as. I only really get a good taste of it when you gotta, like, do those festival gigs, and you're playing last, which means more often than not you have to hang around all day and endure what everyone else is doing until your slot. Of course, that doesn't include everyone, lots of great dudes making great music out there

When you have to “hang around all day and endure,” isn’t that because you’re headlining the festival?

Sometimes yeah, other times, well… catering, a sunny day, and good company always beats hanging out at a hotel.

What do you think is the major difference between the music you create and what other artists on the bill at a festival are doing?

Well, I get stuck in these DJ festivals mostly.

Right, and you’ve pretty firmly stated your aversion to being referred to as a DJ. What do you see as the main difference between what you do and DJs?

The genre, as it were, just seems pretty disposable to me in the sense that, you produce all this music, put 100% of you into your show, and you're followed up or opening for some guy playing a CD player of some other dude's s–t. That's the gist of it.

Your new album is clearly carefully crafted. How long did it take you to make?

About a year or so.

There are 25 tracks on the album, so that seems pretty quick!

There were some projects included in there that I've been kicking around for many years, just couldn't find the right spot for some of it. I think the album was a great time and place for me to showcase some of it.

The album feels very cohesive.

Well I'll always have a skewed view on it, just due to my own familiarity with some of the work. I think that's something every artist views things from time to time. I'd be pretty saddened to hear anyone say “Yeah, listen to this… God I'm awesome, the way this all sits together” about their own work.

Was that intentional or does it just reflect a mindset or mood that ran through its creation?

Nothing really intentional about the overall vibe. I'm pretty emotionally detached from a lot of things. LOL.

Oh really? You just get in the studio and …what?

Work. Create. Learn.

But what goes into making a song if not emotion?

Just a load of experimentation. I like to think of “the studio” as a laboratory, where I can go in, learn tricks, apply, revise, and release. I'd figure I had about the same emotional attachment to my craft as a guy over at NASA does over… NASA stuff.

How do you know if something is good enough for release? You said earlier that you stick stuff in the recycling bin a lot.

Maybe some here and there, but nothing worth crying over if I ever win a Grammy.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a craftsman or an engineer?

Well, the artistry comes in when you strive to detach from everything else you've heard a million times and once that part's in, the brunt of the work is, what you said, sonic craftmanship and engineering.

How do you detach yourself? Is it something you have to learn?

It's not something I'd recommend, or even knew how to do — it's just something I'm naturally good at. I'm pretty sure a good psychologist could figure it out, but I don't waste much time wondering why I am the way I am. There are some guys out there who make great music who may or may not be super-emotionally attached to their work. To each their own. I know some brilliant “EDM” artists… who can compose some really interesting melodies, but can’t engineer for s—t and vice versa. Its' a rare gift to have both.

There’s been a lot of talk about artists that you don’t like or respect, so who do you like? What’s on your iPod?

Boards of Canada, Tycho, Com Truise, James Holden, many others. Jon Hopkins, amazing stuff!

What music were you playing in your car during the Gumball rally?


Everything else was wiped from my iPod. No joke.

Really? That would make me drive extra quickly, just to put a stop to it. Your album has two How To Destroy Angels remixes, how did that come about?

Well, quite simply, I just really enjoy those works…. and sometimes I just wander off whatever I'm doing and re-produce / remix whatever you want to call it just to put a spin on it for my own satisfaction…. basically I just asked for permission to include those works into the album as they fit in nice, and Trent [Reznor] was kind enough to give us the green on it.

Reznor has moved into doing film scores now. Have you considered that career path at all?

Perhaps at one point, but from my understanding, it’s very time consuming!

This was your first album with Astralwerks. Do you feel like it's a good fit for you there?

This answer is going to suck, because I feel obligated to just say things how they are. I don't know anyone at Astralwerks. I'm sure they get on great with my manager and team, but I've never heard anything from them. I'm sure they do a great job at distribution. So yeah, thanks guys. I'm a little bummed out at their lack of interest in calling me, or emailing me, but that's every major label. Sucks having to kinda do everything yourself…I've always imagined as a kid or whatever, being signed to a major, walking into their office, and having "meetings" and coming up with cool ideas and working on them together. I guess that's where the importance of self reliability comes into play.

Are you looking for a collaborator? Or have you come to love your independence?

Maybe not musically, but creatively. "Hello, Mr Astral last name Werks, Joel here! How are you? Man, we should have some of my music scored! Let's book an orchestra and get something done, what a cool project, and then we could press a limited edition set of it and sync out some to film, or just for fans. I actually asked for that about 8 months ago…. still haven't gotten a response. Not expecting one anymore, so looks like I'll just have to do this s–t myself.

You run your own record label now, mau5trap. Are you trying to do things differently there?

Well, mau5trap's a little different. I have a solid team of people who I've known and trusted for many many years helping me out with that and they've been doing a great job. I chime in with my thoughts from time to time, but for the most part, I'm quite pleased with it.

And one of your new artists, Colleen D’Agostino, contributed vocals to one of your tracks.

Yeah, wouldn't that have been awesome if Astralwerks procured that for me? Nope, my lawyer did (she's cool as f–k). I love my lawyer. And I love Colleen. Never met her yet, but she's got a voice… All natural talent, too. I love the lack of autotune.

You just competed in the Gumball 3000 Rally and drove from Miami To Ibiza. What was the best part of the race?

Winning. There were so many amazing moments, which is what made it so great for me. I cant even count the “omg remember when…” moments.

Would you do it again? Or have you already moved on to the next thing?

I've already booked my spot for next year's run. In like Flynn.

I read that you didn’t get your driver’s license until you were 30, so are you making up for lost time?

Yeah… and today I was whipping around in an indy500 car in Toronto at the Honda Indy earlier today. I love driving. Specifically, I love driving fast. When legally permitted to do so.

What made you finally get your license?

Living in LA. I just moved there. You can't get anywhere in LA without a car, before I was in downtown Toronto, no need for nothing!

Do you mind having a reputation as an antagonist? Or do you feel that by calling people out you are pushing music further?

Well, the way I see it, I just call it the way it is, or the way I see it. I don't just spout off “made up s–t.”

Right, but you do it publicly, where as many people do that in their heads.

Yeah, I guess I catch myself thinking — why do I even bother? But then again, what changes either way. Plus, it's entertaining.

Do you think you would be where you are in your career without social media?

Nope. Probably not.

Have any vendettas you’d like to air?

Not today, my friend, not today.

MORE: How Bad Is Paris Hilton's DJing? Deadmau5 thinks it's the Mayan Apocalypse

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Look Out, Beyoncé: This Woman’s Subway Performance Of “Halo” Is Amazing

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:49 AM PDT

Waiting for the subway can be a pretty dull, quotidian activity, but on a few rare occasions it can be punctuated by a bout of pure underground magic. Take, for example, the lucky commuters who were able to witness this woman singing her heart out to BeyoncĂ©’s “Halo.”

While most subway singers have some talent, this anonymous woman is clearly gifted in the vocals department and her rendition of the song gives Queen Bey a run for her “Halo” money, which undoubtedly explains why none of the commuters seem annoyed by her singing. A busker has to be confident about their skills if they are going to burst into song on a subway platform, but in this clip, the New York City commuters end up applauding the woman’s efforts — and that alone says a lot about her talent.

[h/t Daily Picks & Flicks]

MORE: Beyonce Leads the 2014 VMAs With Eight Nominations

MORE: Beyonce's Getting a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Exhibit

Carjacked Vehicle Hits Crowd, Killing 2 Kids

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:42 AM PDT

(PHILADELPHIA) — Police say a vehicle that had been carjacked plowed into a group of people on a corner in Philadelphia, killing two children and critically injuring three other people.

Homicide Capt. James Clark says a woman was carjacked at gunpoint in the Tioga section of north Philadelphia on Friday morning by two men who drove off with her in the back seat.

Clark said “something obviously went horribly wrong” and the vehicle went out of control and struck a group of five adults and children on the corner around 11:15 a.m.

Two of the children were killed. Clark said an adult and two other children were taken to hospitals in critical condition. The two men fled the scene and are being sought.

Herbalife Hires Biden’s Former Chief of Staff

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:32 AM PDT

In yet another chapter in what has become a real-life, Wall Street-D.C. soap opera, the nutritional supplements company Herbalife announced today that it has hired Vice President Joe Biden's former chief of staff, Alan Hoffman.

Hoffman, who left Biden's side in 2012 to join Pepsi Co., will start in August as Herbalife's new executive vice president in charge of everything from "public policy" to "government affairs"—a title that translates, in layman's terms, to the person who will oversee the company’s vast lobbying effort in Washington, DC.

It's a big job. Herbalife is reportedly under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and at least two state attorney generals over allegations that the company's business model is a predatory pyramid scheme.

Herbalife's arch nemesis, the billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, gave a three-hour presentation on Tuesday this week outlining his case against the company, which he describes as a "criminal operation" that fleeces poor people by promising, but not delivering, lucrative rewards for selling Herbalife's nutritional supplements.

But Herbalife's all-star team of backers, which includes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the activist investor Carl Icahn, and soccer celeb David Beckham, have dismissed Ackman's allegations out of hand as "completely false and fabricated."

Ackman has led a lonely crusade against the company for the last 18 months, spending $50 million of his investors' money hiring a battalion of investigators to prove that the company is misleading distributors, misrepresenting sales figures and selling its products at inflated prices. Ackman became tearful Tuesday describing the company’s practices, which he compared to those used by the Mafia, the Nazis, and Enron.

Ackman's hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management LP, has also bet against Herbalife in the market and stands to gain $1 billion if the company's stock collapses.

Herbalife's stock has soared and plummeted, roller coaster-like, since December 2012, when Ackman first vowed to take the company down. Since January 2013, Herbalife has thrown itself into the battle, dumping roughly $2 million on official lobbying efforts in Washington, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That kind of spending marks a major increase for the company, which shelled out about the same amount on lobbying over the course of a decade between 1998 and 2008.

This week, the company suggested that it may sue Ackman for defamation — something public companies seldom do, in part because the legal barriers are very high and in part because such an action could give Ackman the power to demand access to some of Herbalife's non-public records. (Ackman responded Tuesday to a question about the possible lawsuit: "Bring it on.”)

Hoffman, who has worked for all three branches of government, has close ties with officials within the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, Congress, and the Obama administration. "I look forward to ensuring that the public more clearly understands the critical role the company plays in advancing good nutrition," Hoffman said in a statement today. "I also look forward to promoting the economic opportunities that this global nutrition company provides for hard-working people in communities everywhere."

During Ackman's presentation this week, which he promised would be a "death blow" for the company, Herbalife's stock actually rose, ending the trading day 25% higher than where it had started. Ackman alleged that the company had bought its own stock to make its price rise.

Herbalife's retail strategy depends on hiring salespeople who do not draw an independent income, but instead share in revenues generated by the salespeople they recruit, and those of their recruits' recruits. Herbalife does not dispute that model.

But Ackman alleges that many of Herbalife's "customers" are purchasing the company's products in an effort to qualify to open a branded "nutrition club," which the company bills as a lucrative business opportunity. Ackman says his investigators’ analysis of a sample of Herbalife’s "nutrition clubs" lost an average of at least $12,000 a year, and that fewer than 2% of its salespeople made more than $5,000 last year. Herbalife says those numbers misrepresent its model, where many customers sign up as "salespeople" to get discounts on the products for themselves, their friends and family.

"I'm an extremely, extremely persistent person. Extremely," Ackman said Tuesday. "And when I believe I am right, and it is important, I will go to the end of the earth.” Whether he’s right or wrong, he’s up against a formidable team in Washington, DC.

The Same Man Has Played Detective Poirot for 25 Years, But Now He’s Out of Mysteries

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:21 AM PDT

In 1989, when actor David Suchet began playing Detective Hercule Poirot on the TV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot, it’s unlikely that he could have guessed where it would take him. Now, 25 years later, Suchet has played Poirot in a whopping 70 separate mysteries — and it’s come time to hanging up the mustache. Though other long-serving actors may give up a role for a variety of reasons, Suchet didn’t really have much of a choice: the series has run out of Christie stories, having covered what The Guardian calls all of the “substantial” fictions about him. (Poirot appears in dozens of novels and short stories, as well as a play.)

The lucky 13th season wrapped up its U.K. broadcast last November with Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, and the five-episode season begins broadcasting for U.S. audiences on July 27 on PBS and July 28 via the streaming service Acorn TV; the final three episodes will be available for U.S. viewers only via Acorn.

As one of the characters in the trailer premiering above puts it, “this is a terrible loss for the world.” Chances are she’s not talking about Poirot, but for Agatha Christie lovers the sentiment fits.



This Supercut Shows What Cheesy 80′s Movies Thought Computer Hacking Looked Like

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:20 AM PDT

There’s a series of electronic beeps over a Tron soundtrack. The screen is filled with a series of green letters and then a psychedelic interface. This is computer hacking, as told to you by any number of 1980′s computer films, oozing with cheesy perfection. made the video, which features scenes from Real Genius, War Games, and Spies Like Us, to name a few.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:05 AM PDT

When was the last time you Googled your name? If you haven't, it's a good habit to get into, because it's exactly what a potential employer is likely to do when they're sifting through a pile of resumes. "The stuff people care most about is what they find when they Google you," says Michael Fertik, CEO and founder of online reputation-management firm

That's why it's important that you own what you look like online. Depending on what you (or others) post on social networks or personal sites, what a search engine turns up may not reflect the accurate or professional picture you want it to.

But there's plenty you can do to make sure the best parts of your virtual self pop up on that first page of a Google search. Here, we'll walk you through how to do everything from maintaining current social media profiles to ensuring that your professional information appears first.

Decide What You Want Out There

While Facebook posts and photos might be for the eyes of friends and family only, privacy settings on more-public networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter can be more beneficial when relaxed. After all, you don’t want to be completely invisible on the Internet. "It’s weird for people in this day and age not to have an online profile," Fertik says.

But if you haven’t been refining your Internet footprint over the years, your online profile may also include nuggets like ancient MySpace photos, an out-of-date company staff page, even out-of-context rants on old blogs — all of which can give someone the wrong impression.

Deleting these may not necessarily clear the Internet of the detritus. In an age of retweets, shares, and linkbacks, the same photo can exist on many sites across the web. So instead of wasting time and energy cleaning up a digital backlog, focus on strengthening existing profiles, which will help them beat the less-flattering stuff to the top of the search page.

Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Surveys indicate that anywhere from 88% to 97% of recruiters go to LinkedIn to find candidates. LinkedIn profiles also turn up very high in Google search results, most likely due to the site’s high traffic, how often it's linked to, and the amount of content users post everyday. So it's not only a good idea to have a public LinkedIn profile, but to also ensure that it’s accurate, current, and grabby.

LinkedIn trainer and speaker Viveka von Rosen says that the Headline field (the line beneath your name) is the easiest — and most-often overlooked — place to grab attention when building a profile. "Rather than going with the default (your title at your current company) take the opportunity to say what it is that you do. Something like, 'graphic artist working with startups in the Sudan,'" Von Rosen suggests.

Using keywords related to your field when describing yourself in the Summary and Experience sections can also help your profile turn up on Google if someone is searching for particular skills.

Once your profile is spruced up, you want to make sure it's visible on the web. Head into Settings and select Edit Your Public Profile. Then check that reads "Make my public profile visible to everyone." You can then reveal (or conceal) specific information within your public profile.

Von Rosen suggests allowing your Name, Photo, Headline and Summary to be open, while remaining cautious about revealing too much. "With identity theft, I limit what’s visible publicly – for example, in a page of Google search results," she says.

Get Active on Twitter

If you’re on Twitter, regular posts relevant to your field can help build up your online profile for prospective employers. Like LinkedIn, Twitter profiles often turn up on the first page of Google search due to the site's traffic and content flow.’s Fertik suggests picking a Twitter username as close to your real name as possible. That way when someone searches for your name, it’s your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles that pop up alongside your personal website and company blog.

Changing your username is simple: Head to Account and enter the new name. If it’s available, it’s yours.

If your Twitter page is very personal — say, intended for friends and home to some off-color opinions — it might make more sense to limit access to only followers you approve.

Being cautious in that way can do a lot to boost your chances. A CareerBuilder survey found that two in five employers check social-media during the hiring process. Forty-three percent of employers rejected candidates based on inappropriate or discriminatory content on their profiles. On the flipside, 19% of recruiters who scanned social-media profiles hired candidates based on positives they found within.

To stop your off-color Twitter feed from showing up on Google, head to Settings, then Security and Privacy, and select Protect. Bonus: This also prevents the Library of Congress from archiving your tweets.

Dial Up the Facebook Privacy Settings

"Recruiters use Twitter to post jobs, LinkedIn to source candidates, and Facebook to eliminate candidates," von Rosen says.

Many employers take Facebook profiles into account, even if they shouldn't. A North Carolina State University study mapped Facebook behavior against personality traits. The researchers found that there's often little correlation between a person's real-life personality and how they portray themselves on Facebook, so employers could likely misjudge a candidate based on his or her profile alone.

To keep your Facebook profile out of search engine results, head into Settings, Privacy and select "No" in response to "Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?" question.

Facebook no longer allows users to hide their profiles from the website’s own search, but you can control how much of your profile will show up. For example, changing who can see your posts and photos to "Friends Only" means that a potential boss would see only your cover photo, profile photo, plus any About info — where you live, work, or went to school — that you’ve allowed to be public.

If a potential boss is in your extended Facebook network, you might want to change who can see future and past posts. We recommend setting updates as viewable to Friends Only — at least during the application process.

You can also clean up your feed post-by-post. Under Settings, Timeline and Tagging, there’s an option to check how your timeline looks to the public (note that this includes anyone logged into their Facebook account). If the photos and statuses displayed aren't career-friendly, you can change individual visibility by selecting the photo or status, clicking edit, then changing "Public" to "Friends" or "Only Me" from the drop down menu.

If you have a fan page or are the administrator for a group with a lot of fans, allowing these pages to hit the search engines is good for boosting your online profile. For these pages, head to Settings, General, and make sure that "post targeting and privacy" is turned off. You can also lift any country or age restrictions (the page default settings are open and public).

For more on Facebook privacy settings, including how to limit what’s shown to the Facebook public, check out our comprehensive guide.

Pull Up the Positive, Push Down the Negative

Outside your own profiles, there's content on the web that's out of your immediate control. Things like rants from ex-employees, customer complaints, or unwanted photos from a past flame can paint a negative picture.

If you find an unflattering photo or inaccurate info on someone else’s site, the best first step is to contact the site owner and request it be removed or updated. In most cases, the site owner will comply.

However, negative reviews and undesired content that has been posted on sites like newspapers, Yelp, Amazon, or Angie’s List might be harder to take down. These larger companies are unlikely to grant a request unless you can prove the content is defamatory or inaccurate.

If they won't budge, you can try what services like do: publish more content to push the offending article out of the first page of search results. For example, publish a blog post, put up a photo set on Flickr, or add information to a public social profile, such as LinkedIn or Google+. "Make sure your latest and greatest resume info is posted in short narrative and bullet format on a variety of resume sites," Fertik says.

For bigger cleanup jobs, (and agencies like it) can take on the task for a fee (from $100 depending on the scale of virtual damage). uses patented algorithms to publish search engine optimized content. For example, the service might write and publish your professional details and biography at a selection of websites they say are picked especially for your field. By publishing lots of high-quality content with good keywords, the negative content should be pushed further down the search results list.

Depending on the industry you want to work in, other social network accounts on less popular portals, such as Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr, can help build an even more rounded online profile. If you work in fashion or design, for instance, a Pinterest profile can both show off your work and help you engage with fashion and design followers (i.e., potential customers).

Increasing the right kind of visibility — and diminishing what's less appealing — is key to putting your best face forward online. "If you’re not findable by your subject matter and name," says Fertik, "people aren’t going to be able to give you the opportunities."

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

10-Month-Old Foster Child Left in Hot Car Dies in Wichita

Posted: 25 Jul 2014 10:05 AM PDT

A 10-month-old foster child died in Wichita, Kansas, after being left inside a hot car for two hours on a 90-degree day, police said Friday.

The foster parents, two men ages 26 and 29, were questioned and the older one, Seth Michael Jackson, was booked on a charge of child endangerment while the investigation in the Thursday evening tragedy continues.

Read more from our partners at NBC News


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