Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Apple Announces Plans to Reinvent the Wallet

Apple Announces Plans to Reinvent the Wallet

Apple Announces Plans to Reinvent the Wallet

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 10:59 AM PDT

Apple on Tuesday said it would try to reinvent the humble wallet by entering the payments business. At an event in Cupertino, Calif., during which the tech giant unveiled a raft of new products, CEO Tim Cook showed off Apple Pay, a system to make paying for things simpler and faster.

“Whether it’s a credit card or a debit card, we are totally reliant on the exposed numbers and out-dated strip on the back,” said Cook. “This is exactly what Apple does best,” he went on. There are some $12 billion worth of debit and credit transactions in the U.S. daily, according to the company, or 200 million transactions.

Apple is using NFC technology to communicate between its devices and point-of-sale systems. The company is partnering with big banks like Barclay’s and Bank of America for Apply Pay. The company said it would launch with partners representing 83% of credit card volume in the U.S. and add more over time. There are about 220,000 merchants that already have compatible point-of-sale systems, but Apple is also partnering with stores including Staples, Subway, Duane Reade, Whole Foods, Disney and others to adopt the technology. McDonalds is even adding Apple Pay technology to its drive-throughs.

“We are not in the business of collecting your data,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. Cue went on to say Apple will not know what you bought or where you bought it. “It’s fast, it’s secure, and it’s private,” Cue said.

The system will be available in October on iPhone 6 models.

REVIEW: The Skeleton Twins: Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader Play Saturday Night Dead

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 10:53 AM PDT

In Los Angeles, Milo Dean (Bill Hader) writes a suicide note — “To whom it may concern: See ya later [smiley face]” — and slashes his wrist. Across the continent, in Nyack, N.Y., Milo’s twin sister Maggie (Kristen Wiig) is ready to swallow a ton of sleeping pills when she hears of Milo’s grand gesture. That brings Milo back to Nyack, after a decade’s estrangement, in Craig Johnson’s Sundance export The Skeleton Twins.

And no, for two of Saturday Night Live’s finest, this is not an extended riff of old characters — Stefon meets Gilly. Skeleton is a drama, often erupting in painful laughs, about the closest relationship some people ever know: with their siblings. The movie also provides solid evidence that at least two gifted farceurs can display emotional range well beyond the demands of a Lorne Michaels’ skit-com.

(WATCH: The trailer for The Skeleton Twins)

You may recall two Laura Linney troubled-sibs movies of a while back: her brother played by Mark Ruffalo in You Can Count on Me and Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Savages. As fraternal twins — womb-mates — Milo and Maggie have an even closer kinship-rivalry, and a special backstory. Their loving father, who called them “the gruesome twosome,” jumped off a bride when they were 14; their adult lives have been a roundabout journey, either to find the Edenic innocence of their preteen years or to join Dad, wherever he went.

(READ: Jess Cagle’s tribute to Laura Linney in You Can Count on Me)

Milo, who went to L.A. to be an actor but had to settle for waiter gigs, has mastered the wicked banter of his kind. Like the title characters in Paul Rudnick’s play Jeffrey, Milo believes that a gay man’s weapons are: “Irony. Adjectives. Eyebrows.” He tells Maggie’s husband Lance (Luke Wilson), who’s eager to have children, that he “can’t wait to be the creepy gay uncle.” Hader goes full Stefon just twice: in blond-wig drag at a Halloween parade and when trying to cheer Maggie up with a duo lip-synching to Jefferson Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” (Karaokeing to an old pop hit is a corny film trope, but it worked for Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink and Mike Myers in Wayne’s World, and it’s effective here as well.) But coming home has its frustrations. He goes to a local gay bar, only to find it’s “Dyke Night.” And renewing his first affair, with high-school English teacher Rich (Ty Burrell), is slightly complicated by Rich’s status as a husband and father.

While Milo wears his disease (his depression, not his gayness) like a combat medal, Maggie is a walking wound with a “skin”-colored Band-Aid. She hides her grief behind a suburban housewife’s little festival of passive-aggressive behavior. In a particularly desperate moment, she screams into a pillow. And when she tells Lance, “I love you,” she means, “I want to love you but can’t.” Lance, who everyone agrees is the most decent guy in the world, has a knitted-brow heartiness that grates on Maggie. Not his fault: his jock adolescence matured into love for this sweet, strange woman he can’t quite understand. He doesn’t know she’s cheating on him in two ways: by falling into the occasional random affair, and by taking birth-control pills. Bringing a new Maggie or Milo into the world is a prospect she’s not especially keen on.

(READ: Will Audiences ever love Kristen Wiig in a dramatic role?)

At this year’s Venice Film Festival, one big theme was shotgun suicides. The Skeleton Twins has a subtler vibe: it sees life as the parentheses between suicide attempts. Milo and Maggie endure lives of quiet desperation — stricken looks punctuated by a tray of glasses dropped to the floor (by the twins’ mother, played with an airy overbearing by Joanna Gleason). Nearly from the start, it’s clear that they can relax only when playing the giddy games of their youth and that their sole soul mates are each other. The rest, including Lance and Rich, are mere interlopers, stirring jealousy and resentment. In one of their games, when Maggie dons an orthodontic mask and asks Milo, “Will you go to the prom with me?”, you get the feeling she is mostly not kidding. She needs him as her date and her literal life support.

Johnson and his fellow scripter Mark Heyman (who also cowrote the doppelgänger drama Black Swan) go a little heavy on the objective correlatives, including a pair of goldfish gasping for life. And they toss away all plausibility for the final scene — unless that’s a reference to Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” (Sorry to be so cryptic; trying to avoid spoilers.)

But the characters and their anxieties are for the most part nicely judged. Besides, The Skeleton Twins is essentially a showcase, a product reel, for Hader’s and Wiig’s emergence from the comedy straitjacket. He does it by mixing effusion and despair, she by subtly displaying an X-ray of a “normal” woman’s crippling anxieties. Maggie might be a figure from a John Cheever story, crying softly in an effort to wake up from the suburban American dream. It’s no fun being a grownup; she wants to return to the bliss of a twin childhood, or to take another dip with Milo in the amniotic fluid that provided the best time of her life — their lives.

New Dinosaur Species Unearthed in Tanzania

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Paleontologists have unearthed a new species of dinosaur in Tanzania, a long-necked, plant-eating giant that crops up in varied forms on every continent, but rarely ever has been found in the continent of Africa.

The fossils of the newly minted Rukwatitan bisepultus were spotted in in the Rukwa Rift Basin of southwestern Tanzania, embedded into a cliff wall. Paleontologists from the University of Ohio excavated the fossils over several months, unearthing vertebrae, ribs, limbs and pelvic bones.

A silhouette of Rukwatitan showing the recovered skeleton and general shape of the titanosaurian. Eric Gorscak

The fossils clearly belonged to a creature within the family tree of sauropods, the long-necked giants that frequently turn up in the soil of South America, but CT scans revealed a distinct species that had developed unique traits from its cousins across the pond. The bones offer new evidence that the flora and fauna of the region, some 100 million years ago, may have been uniquely adapted to the area’s prehistoric environment. “With the discovery of Rukwatitan and study of the material in nearby Malawi, we are beginning to fill a significant gap from a large part of the world,” said study author Eric Gorscak.

Broadway League Backs Down, Agrees to Honor Rivers

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 10:22 AM PDT

(NEW YORK) — The Broadway League, which represents theater owners and producers, has reversed itself and will ask theaters to dim their lights in honor of Joan Rivers.

The league had said Monday that Rivers did not meet the criteria for the honor, triggering a controversy when several theater owners said they would turn off their marquee lights Tuesday anyway. An online petition was launched and several celebrities came out in favor of granting the honor.

The league changed course Tuesday afternoon, saying the lights would dim at 6:45 p.m. for one minute.

“Joan Rivers loved Broadway and we loved her,” Charlotte St. Martin, the league’s executive director, said in a statement. “Due to the outpouring of love and respect for Joan Rivers from our community and from her friends and fans worldwide, the marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in her memory tonight.”

Rivers, who died Thursday at 81, was known primarily as a TV actress and comedian, though she was seen as a champion of Broadway and off-Broadway shows and earned a Tony Award nomination.

Before the league’s reversal, 10 theaters — out of 40 — were set to break with the league and dim their lights.

Theater producer Tom D’Angora had started an online petition asking the league to reverse its decision.

“I promise you, the majority of the community wants to thank and honor her,” said D’Angora, who has produced the off-Broadway shows “NEWSical” and “Naked Boys Singing.” ”She did so much. She was such an outspoken champion.”

“I can’t believe we can be denied the last chance to show respect and thank her. I also think if you watch her interviews and documentaries, this would hurt her feelings,” he added. “Plus, how hard is it to hit a dimmer switch?”

A spokeswoman for the Rivers family said they were in mourning and didn’t want to comment.

The controversy triggered the creation of the Twitter hashtags #dimthelightsforJoan and #Dim4Joan. Celebrities including Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein and Donna Murphy came out in favor of the honor.

Rivers wrote and starred in the 1971 quick-to-close “Fun City,” was in Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound” in 1988, and wrote and starred in “Sally Marr … and Her Escorts” in 1994, where she earned her Tony nod.

Some celebrities who have been recently granted the honor include Philip Seymour Hoffman and James Gandolfini, whose TV and film careers often overshadowed their theater contributions.

Broadway stars came out in force for Rivers’ funeral on Sunday, including Audra McDonald, who sang “Smile,” and Hugh Jackman, who sang “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady On Stage.” In attendance were theater stars such as Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune.

How One Dad Turned a Ray Rice Jersey Into a Powerful Message

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 10:17 AM PDT

Ray Rice jerseys have gone quickly out of style after the Ravens player was suspended indefinitely from the NFL after video of him hitting then-fiance Janay Rice in an Atlantic City elevator went viral, but one Baltimore-area dad found an excellent fix for his daughter’s #27 jersey.

“We were just trying to decide what to do with our kids’ Ray Rice jerseys as we really didn’t feel we wanted them to wear them anymore. Everyone we saw online was cutting them up or things like that. We tried to come up with something a bit more positive and fun,” dad Bryan Bartlett of Ellicott City told the Baltimore Sun.

But how did Bartlett explain the situation to his kids Brynn, 6, and Bryson, 9? “It is a tough conversation to have with your children. We explained why you should never been mean to anyone and certainly never hit or hurt anyone. Explained to them that while if they do it now they may end up in timeout or lose a privilege when they are older the consequences are much more severe and you could lose everything. They agreed that you should never hit anyone, ‘especially a girl’ my son said, and that Ray Rice should not be a Raven anymore.”

For the less creatively inclined, the Ravens are giving fans the opportunity to exchange their Ray Rice jerseys, and one pizzeria is even offering ex-fans the chance to trade in their Rice jersey for a free pizza.

[Baltimore Sun.]


Search Continues for More of Missing Student’s Remains

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 10:15 AM PDT

Police and forensics experts were combing the scene Tuesday for more remains of Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo, whose bizarre disappearance in 2011 met a major breakthrough over the weekend.

Two hunters on Saturday found a human skull identified as that of 20-year-old Bobo — the first physical evidence of her remains, police said. Forensics experts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are “trying to find as much evidence as they can,” Decatur County Sheriff Keith Byrd told NBC News.

A news conference is planned for Tuesday afternoon, where the Bobo family is expected to release a statement…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

Apple Introduces iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 10:13 AM PDT

Apple on Tuesday announced two new iPhone models during an event in Cupertino, Calif. The long-rumored iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will come in two sizes, one with a 4.7-inch screen and the other with a 5.5-inch display.

The devices, which will go on sale on Sept. 19, will start at $199 with a two-year wireless contract. The larger version will cost $299. The company will continue to sell the iPhone 5S for $99 and the iPhone 5C for free.

With the new devices, the world’s most successful smartphone maker is intensifying a campaign to woo customers in countries outside North America and convince Google Android users to switch. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the new devices were “the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone.”

The larger phones sport a number of additional features beyond their much larger, higher-resolution displays. Built-in software allows the phones to be used in horizontal views, much like Apple’s larger tablets.The devices are also the thinnest phones Apple has ever shipped.

The company also said the two new devices have equal or better battery life than the iPhone 5S, despite their thirstier displays. Both feature an 8-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization to take better photos in low light, for example. “These are the best phones you have ever seen,” Cook said just ahead of the unveiling.

The larger iPhones are an acknowledgement that the tastes of mobile users have changed since Steve Jobs first unveiled his disruptive smartphone in 2007. So-called phablets—devices that straddle the capabilities of smartphones and tablets—have grown more popular.

In the U.S., web browsing on screens 4 inches or less, the size of the iPhone 5S screen, decreased 11% from May 2013 to May 2014, while traffic on screens greater than 4 inches leapt by 132%, according to Adobe. In a survey by Kantar WorldPanel ComTech, 42% of respondents who bought a new smart phone in the first quarter of this year said screen size was the most important design element.

Some observers mocked Samsung when it first revealed the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note in 2011. Two years later, the Note 3, its successor, managed to sell 10 million units in about two months when it was introduced last fall. Samsung announced to new devices a few days before Apple’s event.

Analysts largely expect the iPhone 6 to sell well during the holiday. In a research note earlier this year, Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley argued Apple will likely benefit from pent-up demand for a device with a larger screen. “We believe the extended replacement rates combined with new larger-screen iPhones position Apple with its large installed base for record iPhone 6 sales,” he wrote.

—with Victor Luckerson

10 Intelligent Tweets About Violence in the NFL

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 09:58 AM PDT

While it’s hard to see positive outcomes in the wake of ex-Ravens running back Ray Rice’s suspension from the league for domestic abuse, the incident has at least inspired an important conversation about how the NFL’s role when it comes to players’ acts of violence off the field.

Here are 10 insightful tweets, from both football players and fans, about how the league needs to address domestic abuse going forward:

See Also: How Twitter has taken a stand with Janay Rice with #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft

Olive Garden Sells Out of 1,000 ‘Pasta Passes’

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 09:52 AM PDT

The hottest ticket in town, for better or worse, is Olive Garden’s “Never Ending Pasta Pass,” a $100 card that entitles the bearer to an unlimited supply of pasta and soft drinks over the course of seven weeks.

All 1,000 passes went up for sale at 3 p.m., Monday. By 4:15 p.m., Olive Garden announced that every last pass had been sold out. That’s roughly one pass for every five seconds. The short supply even led people to buy and sell passes second-hand online.

Olive Garden began heavily promoting the deal on Facebook and Twitter this week, encouraging people to “join the conversation” under the handle “#PastaPass.” In fact, it was just a promotional deal within a promotional deal, meant to draw attention to the return of Olive Garden’s “Never Ending Pasta Bowl,” which launches on Sept. 22. Olive Garden fans can count down the seconds to never ending pasta via this doomsday clock on Olive Garden’s website.

New Royal Baby Already Under Pressure to Keep U.K. From Split

Posted: 09 Sep 2014 09:40 AM PDT

Who would choose to be a royal? It’s tough enough to live your adult life on display—part reality star, part monument—and another thing still to still to find yourself as a baby slapped on the bottom and swaddled in constricting expectations.

Think of the mantle that awaited Prince George of Cambridge at his birth in July 2013: Even in the womb, he was third in line to the throne, facing the daunting prospect of one day reigning as King of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth Realms.

For George’s sibling, the spare rather than the heir, the robes should have been a little looser. But it is the misfortune of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, to suffer from a form of acute morning sickness that precipitated the announcement of her pregnancy Monday, just as happened when she was expecting George.

And the accelerated announcement this time around has loaded an extra burden onto the unborn child. This baby is already facing calls to save the union.

On Sept. 18. Scotland votes whether to remain in the U.K. or leave. Opinion polls, for months showing a comfortable lead for unionists, have suddenly tightened, with one recent poll showing a lead for supporters of independence. The prospect of such a rupture is sowing panic in Westminster and Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II is said to be distressed at the prospect of a split, despite assurances from Scotland’s First Minister, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond that an independent Scotland would retain the monarch. The Queen and her advisers know not to take these assurances at face value. After all, stand-alone Scotland might well veer towards Republicanism once it had dealt with more urgent constitutional matters.

Moreover, the Queen and the rest of her family believe in the United Kingdom, and see their own role in it as providing a focal point for national unity. The end of the U.K. would pose existential questions for any thoughtful royal. So the sudden revelation today of another royal baby on the way seemed to point to possible salvation.

The impending arrival of little George last year created media excitement and some real enthusiasm among segments of the British population. Could George’s brother or sister create enough of a feel-good, union-flag-patterned, patriotic buzz to move the polls back away from independence?

That seems unlikely. One reason Scotland’s independence movement should never have been underestimated is because Scots are different from other Brits in many ways, not least in being somewhat more resistant to the charms of royalty for a range of historical reasons.

Poor unborn baby, already entrusted with a mission you’re more than likely not able to carry out. Not until you’ve at least learned to walk.


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