Earliest Ancestor of Largest Bird Ever to Walk the Earth Discovered

Dromornis murrayi.  A distant relative of the duck and the first ancestor of the flightless birds that would be the largest bird species ever to walk the earth, was discovered in Australia by a group of paleontologists who are, very proud of the discovery.

Dromornis murrayi

Dromornis murrayi

Researchers from the University of New South Wales and Flinders University have just published an entry in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology providing the details of their findings on the huge, ancient bird. “It lived in the late Oligocene – early Miocene period, and was the first member of the lineage of Dromornis species,” said the leader of the study, Dr. Trevor Worthy, from Flinders University in South Australia. For those not familiar, the Oligocene epoch was from 33.9- 23.03 millions years ago and the Micoene epoch from 23.03-5.3 million years ago. “Originally, it was the smallest of its relatives, weighing in at a pretty hefty 250 kg, but by eight million years ago it had evolved into D. stirtoni, which averaged a whopping 450 kg. Some even grew to reach 650 kg, making these the largest birds the world has ever known.

These men have done a great thing for the paleontological, ornithological, and evolutionary fields, and for that, we thank them.

Big Apple Con 2016

Last weekend, Big Apple6664e9_e1d4745e675a4e82ba63bec24dabcca3 Con, a comic book, art, sci-fi, and toy convention took place. The convention was located at the Hotel Pennsylvania, which is across the street from Penn Station.

In 1996, Frederic Greenberg, host of Great Eastern Conventions cancelled his show. Mike Carbonaro, with Metropolis Collectibles CEO, Vincent Zurzolo, quickly planned a show to replace it. Over 4,000 people attended. The show was a huge success and so were the shows that followed.

On March 5th, the convention was held again. In my opinion, it was a great show. I bought and sold vintage comics for the duration of the show. There was also cosplay. Cosplay is basically like dressing up for Halloween, except that it is superhero, comic, movie and pop culture themed. Some people spend hours and hours of time making their costumes. For some of us who are lazy, we buy costumes which can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars for the sake of authenticity. There were panels where people held discussions about a specific predetermined pop culture theme, this along with comics, of course. There were creators/artists/writers/actors/ and other celebrity guests.

This convention was definitely a great opportunity for fans to make friends and meet new people along with reestablishing old relationships. It is enjoyable and I hope more people will get to experience it in the coming years.

The Effect of Location on Hip-Hop

Diversity within the genre of hip-hop is a luxury not often appreciated. Similar to other music genres, different subsets have distinguished themselves, but rap is the only to have sounds exclusive to location. Different cities adapt their respective preferences, whether it be rhyme delivery, use of inflection, utilized tone, or even subject matter. Although every city has its exceptions, most tend to follow the mold created by the surrounding environment. Just as distance between areas allow the development of different cultures and behaviors, rap has its own separate corners each directly influenced by local issues and lifestyles.

Houston: Houston is widely known for its heavy utilization of the boom-bap sound. Known for the drunken quality of its rhythms, producers often use slower drum kits never going past the quarter note level. One may ask, how did this slurred and trippy audiology establish itself in Houston? One direct cause may be the glorification of lean. Lean is a concoction ideally made up of prescribed cough syrup (promethazine codeine) and vodka or sprite. The effects include feelings of euphoria along with motor-skill impairment and lethargy to the point of feeling dissociated with one’s physical body. Houston rappers wanted to channel this same euphoria into their music, creating the slow boom-bap sound that Houston has come to embody. This is seen in work such as Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty” as well as in the discographies of artists like Paul Wall, Pimp C, Mr. Mike, Baby Bash, and Kirko Bangz.

Eric B and Rakim of New York

Eric B and Rakim of New York

New York: New York, the birthplace of hip-hop, has one of the genre’s richest histories. It is undeniably difficult to draw parallels between groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Pro Era. However, it would be a crime to ignore the fact that the city of New York itself is central to what New York rappers talk about. Hip-Hop in the Big Apple is territorial. Pro Era went so far as to create the Beast Coast movement. New York artists are constantly shouting out their respective blocks, boroughs, or neighborhoods. Any rapper from the South Bronx will make it known that’s his hood. The same goes for Jamaica, Harlem, Flatbush, and so on. This characteristic can be attributed to the fact that anyone raised within New York City lives and breathes alongside the city itself. The city is its own being, and why wouldn’t one mention a childhood friend?

California-
Compton: Compton is the site of hip-hop’s mainstream revolution, headed by the N.W.A., who made the most of their opportunities with their raw honesty in the 90’s. Ever since, Compton has sought to speak on the issues plaguing its citizens as accurately as possible. Whether it be political injustices or the issue of growing gang violence, Compton artists put it all out on their tracks. This sense of social and political awareness is unique to the MAAD City, and even today’s artists from the area have sought to uphold the example set by N.W.A. With artists like Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad, Jay Rock, The Game, and Vince Staples all verbally bleeding out on their instrumentals, it is safe to say Compton hip-hop is in good hands.

Bay Area: Bay Area rap has only recently grown in popularity, seeing how most Bay Area artists are underground, or still on the come up. This particular region has developed a culture very different from the traditional urban scene, making use of a more breathy tone and allowing the instrumentals to be the central point of attention. These more ‘withdrawn’ vocals are a result of the welcoming and pristine appearance of suburban environments. Bay Area artists try to implement these misconceptions into their works. This being said, artists like Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Sage the Gemini, IAmSu!, and the HBK Gang are all at the forefront of the Bay Area’s rise, speaking to the flaws of suburbia and the more subtle self-destruction enacted within this perceived paradise.

Chicago: It would not be far from the truth if one said that Chi-town is married to the glorification of violence. Chicago is referred to as “Chiraq” by its own residents. If that doesn’t speak for itself, it would help to bear witness to the content put out by Chicago’s artists. Chief Keef, Lil Durk, BJ the Chicago Kid, Fredo Santana and countless others constantly give voice to a central theme of firearms. Hip-hop has always been known to encourage pride and ego. Chicago rappers pride themselves in their aggressive natures, as that is the means to validation in the environment. It doesn’t help that access to guns is always an inviting opportunity, seeing how even children in their pre-teens walk around strapped. However, it should be noted that many other artists have made an active effort to go against the mold set by the city. These include Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins, Lupe Fiasco, and Common.

Atlanta artist Raury performing

Atlanta artist, Raury, performing.

Atlanta: Atlanta could be considered hip-hop’s “lab” or testing ground. Especially as of recent, Atlanta has been testing the boundaries of the genres. Fortunately, this has not hurt the success of the city’s artists. Artists like Future, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan have patented the ‘rap mumble’, which entails low and rapid vocals that could be difficult to understand. Other artists and groups like Migos have made use of the machine-gun flow. This style has rappers spitting at a set rhythm with very few breaks in the flow. And then there are those who implement southern soul into the genre, creating a smooth and effortless vibe. Big K.R.I.T. and Raury are great examples of this subset within genres. Taking all this into consideration, Atlanta is easily rap’s most diverse city, and collaborations between its artists are consistently revolutionary.

Hip-hop, as a collective, cannot be denied its diversity. Progression and additions to the genre are guaranteed and will continue to satisfy the cravings of hungry listeners.

Project Fi

Google's new project

Google’s new project.

Google is in charge of many innovative ideas and projects. Their ideas range from making the fastest internet to spreading the internet through balloons and planes. Google tries to push companies to be more helpful to the consumers. One of the new projects that is striving toward this goal is called Project Fi. Project Fi is a network for phones to connect to in order to get better reception.

Project Fi combines two big networks, Sprint and T-Mobile. Project Fi’s network is now even bigger than Sprint or T-Mobile alone. ‘Wi-Fi Assistant’ is a built-in program in the sim card, which enables the phone to automatically, and securely, connect to open Wi-Fi networks. This happens seamlessly, and the connection is completely encrypted in order to prevent people from stealing passwords and other valuable information. Since the sim card allows phones to have two networks, the phone switches to the network with a stronger connection, which prevents dropped calls. The whole idea for this is to improve cellular connection at a reasonable price. The one downside is that a Nexus phone (Nexus 5, 6, or 6P) is needed in order to start using it; the sim card doesn’t work with other phones like iPhones or most android phones. Google said they’re trying to get more phones compatible, but hasn’t happened yet.

The plan for Project Fi  is unlimited talk and text for $20.  Data plans work in a different way. As it stands now, major network companies charge people ridiculous fees for overusing their data and if they don’t use up all the data they paid for, they don’t receive a credit to their account. But with Project Fi, the data plans aren’t set in stone. If a subscriber uses less data than he or she paid for, money gets returned for the unused data. If a subscriber goes over the data limit, then he or she only pays for the extra datea used. For example, if Kylar’s data limit is 2.0 GB and he uses 2.6 GB, then he would pay the 2.0 GB of data as well as the .6 GB of data. The plans start $10 per gigabyte of data. My recommendation, if you are planning to try out Project Fi, is to get the $20 plan for the talk and text, and add $10 for 1 GB of data.

These sim cards are easier to get in our area than Google Fiber. Project Fi is currently only accepting subscribers through invites. If you sign up on their website, then wait a week, and you’ll be able to get a sim card that has all of the capabilities of switching networks at a sensible price. The Project Fi app also breaks down your bill, so it is easier to understand. 

DC Mobile App Unites DC

     On February 25, an app was introduced to Apple’s A01-56ce798c7fac81-02168859-47de0pp Store and Google Play. This app is called “DC All Access.”  This app is a DC fan’s dream! The app has news about products, movies, and comics. It also has a comic reader that allows you to purchase and read the latest DC comics. There are chances to win prizes and get free DC- related products. You can even purchase movie tickets for DC movies.  Fans can meet other fans using the built- in DC fan community. A huge feature of this app from a technical standpoint is the DC keyboard. Users can use characters, words, images, or emojis related to DC comics while typing. The app also uses an interesting system that introduces challenges, such as following a director of a DC movie on Twitter, which gives you points that are redeemable for rewards.

      The app is not perfect, though. It abruptly crashes at times. The makers are working to fix the problem, which is essential to help DC beat Marvel at the box office. This app is an attempt to further this goal and without the fixing the problem, becoming top dog will be harder to accomplish.

   

 

AraabMuzik Shot

AraabMuzik at work

AraabMuzik at work.

26 year old hip-hop producer AraabMuzik was shot in a parking garage last week in Harlem. Although the wound was not fatal, Araab’s representative released a statement saying the MPC wizard was simply, “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” According to authorities, the crime was part of an attempted robbery. It has been reported that two men walked up to Araab’s BMW and pretended to drop something adjacent to the driver’s door. They then proceeded to unload their firearms, shooting the Dipset collaborator in the right arm and jaw, as well as grazing his head with another bullet. James Malloy, a friend of the producer who was in the vehicle at the time, was shot in the leg. Both are currently in stable condition and have been active on social media. This is not the first time Araabmuzik has found himself in a life threatening situation involving guns. In 2013, he was also shot during another attempted robbery in Rhode Island.

Although he is not exactly healthy at the moment, Araab is expected to make a full recovery and return relatively quickly to his love for production.

Trump and Clinton Ahead After “Super Tuesday”

A photo of the two frontrunners, taken at Donald Trump's third wedding.

A photo of the two frontrunners, taken at Donald Trump’s third wedding.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton came out ahead after the “Super Tuesday” presidential primaries on March 1st. The results conformed to many of the predictions of pundits and political forecasters alike, although there were a couple of surprises. Many states conducted or released so few polls that it was difficult to gauge their respective predilections. This was evident in the few upsets of the night, such as Cruz winning Alaska and Oklahoma, or Rubio’s saving grace win in Minnesota. Even the political forecasting website 538, much reputed for its reliability in predicting outcomes, had Trump winning in Oklahoma.

Democratic results are as follows: Clinton won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia; Sanders won Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont. The results for Republicans are as follows: Trump won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia; Cruz won Alaska, Oklahoma, and Texas; Rubio only won Minnesota. These results are meaningless without knowing the total delegate count. Although pledged delegates haven’t been completely tabulated yet, rough overall totals are as follows: Clinton 596, Sanders 407, Trump 319, Cruz 226, Rubio 110, Kasich 25, and Carson 8. In viewing these rough totals, keep in mind that unlike the Republicans, Democrats have “superdelegates”. Superdelegates are typically elected officials or prominent party members who aren’t required to vote for any particular candidate. Although the exact superdelegate breakdown– there are 712 in all– may be transient, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of them will go to Hillary Clinton. Taking into account the presumed predilections of these superdelegates, Clinton’s rough total is around 1,058 and Sanders’ should be about 431. To win the nomination, Democrats need 2,382 delegates and Republicans need 1,237.

It would be tedious for me to enumerate the idiosyncratic rules each state’s Republican Party has regarding delegate allocation, so those interested should refer to the following chart provided by “RealClearPolitics”, a website dedicated to aggregating election-related information. As a review; “number of delegates” refers to the total delegate count; primaries involve simply voting whereas caucuses are long tedious negotiation-like procedures, and typically have lower voter turnout as a result; in closed primaries only a candidate’s respective party can vote, but in open primaries independents may also vote; the threshold is the minimum percentage of the vote for a candidate’s party they have received, if it is below the threshold the person receives no delegates; finally, the ceiling refers to the minimum percentage of the vote required to receive all of a state’s allotted delegates, although if the delegates aren’t “pooled” then a candidate surpassing the ceiling would only receive all of the state’s at-large (state-wide) delegates and would then receive congressional district delegates on a proportional basis.

Chart contrived by the following article from RealClearPolitics: http://bit.ly/1VP6nl2

Chart contrived by the author of the following article from RealClearPolitics: http://bit.ly/1VP6nl2

If these rules seem complicated to you, you’ll be happy to know that the Democratic Party’s primary rules are relatively simple by comparison. Delegates are simply allotted proportionally above a 15% threshold.

Finally, to put all of this in perspective, the political forecasting website “538” has a helpful page charting the rough delegate trajectory necessary for each of the candidates to win the nomination. At this point, the candidates have reached the following percentages of their target: Clinton 115%, Trump 114%, Sanders 84%, Cruz 61% and Rubio 46%.

The Truth About the Pay Gap

The people of the United States have been led to believe that without reason, women are paid significantly lower salaries than men with the same jobs. This is simply not the case. In 2014, President Obama addressed the issue of the pay gap with a speech, and since then has made an effort to fix it. In his speech, he made the claim that, “the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.” He called the 77% figure “an embarrassment.”

The public misunderstands the pay gap.

President Obama would be correct; this would be embarrassing, if it were true. It isn’t. When I watched this speech, I thought about the things he said, and one statement stood out to me: “Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force.” If women are making 23% less money than men for working the same jobs, women should make up the overwhelming majority of the workforce. Why would any company hire an equal amount of men and women, if by hiring more women they would save 23% on every employee’s salary? They wouldn’t. The point of running a business is to make as much money as possible, and if women were making 23% less money than men for the same jobs, companies could maximize their profit by hiring women, and they would.

When it comes to the wage gap percentage, there’s no single, universally acknowledged number for the amount a woman makes compared to the amount a man makes for the same job. When I tried to find the exact pay gap, I discovered that the number fluctuated anywhere between 64% to 84% depending on where I looked, which doesn’t make any sense because actual statistics are exact, and they aren’t measured in windows. This is when I realized that something more serious was going on, and the real information either doesn’t want to be found or is being hidden. It was time to investigate.

In the official White House address on the issue by President Obama, the 77% number was highlighted. President Obama didn’t just choose a random number somewhere in the range of all the numbers used to describe the gap. Which assumptions were made to find this number? I found that the method the White House used in determining this 77% number was by comparing the annual salaries of all men to the annual salaries of all women. That’s like taking the annual salary of an employee at a Ralph Lauren flagship branch and the annual salary of Ralph Lauren himself, averaging those three and saying the average Ralph Lauren employee makes $875k a year. It’s basically comparing the salaries of a male surgeon and a female nurse and using that as the basis of comparison between male and female wages. The US Department of Labor found that when you take into account the salaries of men and women with the same variables like job type and several others, comparing like to like, the pay gap shrinks to about 93-95%. Even a study conducted by the American Association of University Women, using a control for all the same variables, resulted in the same number found by the US Department of Labor: 93%. In fact, in a 63- page report, the number was only mentioned once. The American Association of University Women then tried to obfuscate this number by saying, “just over one third of the pay gap cannot be explained.” This makes it sound like as if the gap is one third, but what they were referring to is a third of the misleading 23% number. That’s not the clearest way to say, “7%”.

So, if the wage gap is actually about 5-7%, then there’s still an unexplainable difference in pay, right? Well, not exactly. While the percentage difference is undeniable, it’s fully explainable. The explanation for the smaller, more accurate difference lies in job satisfaction and negotiation for contracts. In a study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology entitle, “Who goes to the bargaining table?: The influence of gender and framing on the initiation of negotiation”, four researchers did a thorough test on salary negotiations by gender. They found that when women are informed that they can “ask” for more rather than “negotiate” for more, not only does the negotiation gap disappear, but women are actually 4% more likely than men to negotiate for higher salaries with 73% of females versus 69% male doing so. This is significant, because without the “ask” control, men are 25% more likely to ask for more money: 83% male to 58% female. A study conducted by PayScale showed that the average woman who is very satisfied with her job makes about as much as the average man who is unsatisfied with his job. According to PayScale, a possible reason for this is that more women tend to work in professions that are altruistic in nature: helping others rather than themselves.  And in my opinion, another explanation could be that most women are misled by those who talk about this 77% figure and go into the workforce expecting lower paying jobs, which results in them being more satisfied with their jobs.

The simple truth is that the 77% wage gap is a misleading piece of information, and is a major part of the problem which makes women believe that they are purposely being held down for no reason. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. When society tells women that, in the end, they’re going to be paid less than their male coworkers, they might be less likely to expect expect equal wages, thus feeding the fire and furthering the cycle.

Ladies, you can negotiate for higher wages, and nobody is stopping you. If we tell the truth about the actual wage gap and encourage women to do something about it other than raising lawsuits against companies that aren’t at fault, the wage gap between men and women wouldn’t be lowered, it would be eliminated.

Three of the Biggest Fails of the 2016 Oscars.

Fashion Fails

Heidi Klum

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Can you spot the difference between these two pictures?

  • Heidi Klum’s dress looks like it came out of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother’s closet but there was nothing magical about this dress other than that. Sorry, Heidi.

Amy Poehler

images

Are those my grandmother’s curtains?

  • Nope, it’s Amy Poehler in a dress made out of my grandmother’s curtains. The only thing to do to help this dress is to burn it.

Stacy Dash’s unnecessary cameo

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Looks like we’re gonna have to make a cameo at the Val party”- Cher, Clueless

  • The Clueless star should’ve just stuck to cameos at valley parties with her on- screen bestie. Dash was recently in the news for wanting to end BET and Black History Month. So, when she walked on stage as “director of minority outreach” as Chris Rock said, the only funny thing about this joke was Chrissy Teagan’s reaction.

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And now for the only thing the Oscars got right……

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After six nominations, Leo finally won his Oscar!!!