Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner Announce Divorce

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BET Awards 2015: Nominees, Performers, Presenters, Honorees

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Kim Kardashian West talks Kanye, North and clothing line, but not Caitlyn Jenner

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Same-sex ruling was no surprise to Supreme Court gamblers—and shouldn’t be to you either


The US Supreme Court on Friday, by five votes to four, that same-sex couples are constitutionally entitled to marry. The previous day, the same court by six votes to three a key funding platform of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes termed “Obamacare.”

What do these landmark decisions tell us about the way the Supreme Court might rule in the months and years ahead? Could this even be the beginning of a new wave of liberalism at the court?

No surprise to some

To answer these questions, we should pause to ask a different one. Were either of these decisions unexpected? Were they surprising? To some they were, but not to those who are well-versed in the ways of the court. The , for example, nailed both results exactly. (SCOTUS is the acronym for Supreme Court of the United States.)

For those unfamiliar with FantasySCOTUS, it is a type of “wisdom of the crowd” fantasy league, sponsored by Thomson Reuters and populated by lawyers, law students and others, all of whom compete for cash prizes (up to US$10,000) by forecasting Supreme Court decisions.

As such, it is like a fantasy sports league for those who follow the Supreme Court as closely as others might follow the New England Patriots or the New York Yankees. Or perhaps more closely, like the Hollywood Stock Exchange, where followers contracts on the success of the next movie or the next Oscar winner.

The “” for the gay marriage (Obergefell v Hodges) case was a 5-4 decision in favor of constitutionally guaranteed same-sex marriage rights. The for the ACA (Burwell v King) case was a decision of 6-3 in favor of the continued funding arrangements for Obamacare. In both cases, FantasySCOTUS was spot on.

So these rulings came as no surprise to the prediction market. What about legal scholars? The Wall Street Journal Law Blog four experts to forecast the outcome.

Two of them predicted a 5-4 or 6-3 majority in favor of constitutionally guaranteed rights, one called it correctly as 5-4, with one dissenter.

The reigning champion

But more pertinently, perhaps, Jacob Berlove, the , as well as the other two leaders in the league, called it 5-4 in the correct direction.

That Berlove got it right is not altogether surprising. He was already famous enough in 2012 to be labeled “the best Supreme Court predictor in the world,” having won the league three times in a row.

So how easy is it to guess the opinions of the Supreme Court justices? Not really that difficult, according to my reading of the evidence, especially on touchstone cases like Bush v Gore (2000), Citizens United v FEC (2009), National Federation of Independent Business v Sebelius (2012), Obergefell v Hodges (2015) and Burwell v King (2015).

Take the 2012 case, in which the court was asked to decide whether President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act was in fact constitutional. Forecasts of the outcome diverged wildly.

In any event, the ACA was saved by the deciding vote of Chief Justice John Roberts, who ruled that while the individual mandate on citizens to buy insurance or face a penalty was not constitutional under the powers of Congress to regulate commerce, it was constitutional under its powers to tax. And so, by 5-4, the individual mandate that funded the ACA was upheld.

Was this predictable? Yes, if we adopt an approach to forecasting these closed-door decisions based on the very simple idea that Supreme Court justices vote in accord with their personal preferences, as I elsewhere. In some cases, these are as simple as siding with what they want bluehost怎么样 the law to be, regardless of what they actually believe it to be. This easily explains the in 2000, which overturned the Florida Supreme Court and authorized the termination of the recount, handing the election to George W Bush by 5-4 (five Bush supporters, four Gore supporters).

In that case, one of the conservative justices (Justice Antonin Scalia) had to perform legal gymnastics to square that with every vote he had previously cast, notably on states’ rights.

Some, like Roberts – who wasn’t around for that ruling – have more nuanced preferences, in his case a desire to see enacted the outcome he prefers but with a strong belief in the authority of Congress to decide legislation as it sees fit. In both ACA cases, the chief justice was acting in accord with his cherished personal attitude toward the role of Congress.

Only Justice Anthony Kennedy was in any way a close call, his personal opposition to Obamacare conflicting with his deeply held aversion to an outcome that would in effect coerce states into setting up their own marketplaces if they wanted their citizens to have insurance. So this case could have gone 5-4 or 6-3, but either way it was a pretty safe bet to be decided in the direction it did.

Inevitable and predictable

The Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was much easier to predict. Five of the justices were personally in favor of same-sex marriage equality, while four were personally opposed. So the ruling was as inevitable as it was predictable.

In a court that is currently weighted 5-4 to the conservative side of the argument, however, victories are to be savored by liberals, but certainly not to be expected. Any new wave of liberalism at the Supreme Court would first require a new wave of justices, and for the moment, at least, that does not look likely to be happening any time soon.

The Conversation

is Professor of Economics and Finance and Director, Betting Research Unit & Political Forecasting Unit at .

This article was originally published on .
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Does Inside Out accurately capture the mind of an 11-year-old girl? A child psychologist weighs in

Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Case Western Reserve University

Pixar’s new film Inside Out provides an interesting spin on how to understand what’s going on in the mind of an 11-year-old girl. The bulk of the action takes place inside protagonist Riley’s head, where a group of emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger) work together (or not) to direct her behavior.

The film’s primary conflict is a compelling one: it depicts Riley’s response to a major, life-changing event – a cross-country move. But from the perspective of a practicing clinical child psychologist with 30 years of experience, it’s only partly successful in accurately depicting why children react the way they do.

Most tweens would have difficulty with a cross-country move at the start of middle school, and Riley is, understandably, sad, angry, disgusted and fearful. She loses interest in things she used to like to do. The fact that her parents are also stressed, making it difficult for them to pick up on her angst until it is almost too late, also rings true.

Riley’s life appears to be run by her emotions. The character Joy is chief among them: it’s a core part of who she is, and a great deal of energy is expended to keep her feeling and acting in positive ways. Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger all have roles, and their order of appearance makes sense, developmentally.

Joy not only tries to keep the other emotions in check, but she’s also in charge of making sure that the core memories – which seem to define key areas of Riley’s functioning – are intact. A lot of time is devoted to trying to keep Sadness away, since she could taint these happy memories.

Joy is Riley’s predominant emotion, and she expends a lot of energy keeping negative emotions, like Sadness, at bay.

But the notion that memories can be preserved unaltered is not in line with most current research thinking. Childhood traumatic events can be remembered accurately or inaccurately, while the field of eyewitness testimony is rife with examples of memories that are moderated by perception or time.

Furthermore, the emotions and behaviors of Riley are depicted using the same framework that adults often use to interpret their emotions. This misses the mark.

Children aren’t simply little adults; as developmental psychologists like Urie Bronfenbrenner have noted, it’s important to take into account the extent to which children are embedded in systems like family and school, where parents and teachers play a huge role in teaching children Riley’s age how to mediate their feelings.

Most 11-year-olds can tell you that they have feelings – and can name a few (though most would not name Disgust) – but more often than not, these feelings can overwhelm them. Adults, then, help them understand and make sense of their feelings, which is a gradual process.

In the end, the different characters for the emotions are altogether too mechanistic. It might be a nice way to show children that they have feelings, but it’s not really the way feelings work.

The film does have some signature strengths. The most authentic aspect of the film was the portrayal of conversations among Riley and her parents. Seeing her mother’s and then her father’s “inner emotions” react (like Riley, the parents also have characters assigned to their emotions) was a wonderful mapping of the kind of patterns that we see whenever families interact.

For example, at the dinner table, Mom gives Dad a look that’s intended to signal that he needs to take her side during an argument with Riley.

Dad’s emotions frantically discuss what she might mean. (“I wasn’t paying attention.” “Did we leave the toilet seat up again?” “Wait for her to do it again.”) Meanwhile, Mom’s (annoyed) emotions decide that she would have been better off with a former suitor. The humor with which it was handled was truly refreshing.

Similarly, one of the best aspects of the film is that Joy realizes that she must work with Sadness to enrich Riley’s emotional life. This is an age-appropriate realization; increased empathy in girls, especially, occurs at around Riley’s age.

Riley has a lot of experiences coming her way, as evidenced by the installation of the new control console at the end of the film with a red button labeled “puberty.” Like most adolescents, she will experience highs and lows, as her friends become more central and she discovers romantic feelings.

And it also sounds like groundwork being laid for a sequel centered on Riley’s pubescent years.

The trailer for Pixar’s Inside Out.

The Conversationwatch full Gilbert movie online

Jane Timmons-Mitchell is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at Case Western Reserve University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Frenzy on Fury Road: Mad Max faces a post-digital apocalypse


A cortege of battletrucks tears across the desert. A muscle-bound maniac roars pretty nothings at the bleak sky. A bald boy, face painted white, scurries around like a cockroach left stranded in a post-apocalyptic world.

There are metal spikes, sadistic implements of torture galore, massive machine guns mounted on the top of buggies, jeeps, motorcycles, and more leather than a Judas Priest concert.

The film, of course, is Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller’s long-awaited Mad Max sequel.

The story is a melange of the second ( – 1981) and third ( – 1985) entries, following a series of battles between a gang led by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keayes-Byrne), an obese warrior kept alive by a Marilyn Manson-esque breathing apparatus, and a group of renegades led by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and the eponymous Max (Tom Hardy).

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
© Warner Bros. Pictures and © Roadshow Films

In the post-apocalyptic future, Immortan and his cronies control the water in the “Citadel”, with Immortan leveraging this biopower to acquire petrol and bullets. The action begins when Furiosa liberates Immortan’s “breeders”, a group of young desert nymphs, and they head “east” towards the “Green place” of Furiosa’s youth, accompanied by Max.

They are pursued by Immortan, with other gangs joining the hunt along the way.

The desert we’ve seen before

The whole thing looks striking. The supersaturated reds of daytime desert (, after the intended shoot location of Broken Hill fell through) are beautifully contrasted with the sombre blues of night, recalling the desert tones of Russell Mulcahy’s (1984).

Several of the sequences have a compulsively hallucinogenic quality, though this, coupled with the hammy performances of most of the cast, seems to verge more often than not on parody.

Nathan Jones and Hugh Keays-Byrne in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
© Warner Bros. Pictures and © Roadshow Films

This is a problem that plagues any late-coming sequel, and it is amplified when the earlier films have been so influential.

Having lived through hundreds of Mad Max homages and clones, from Italian actioner (1983) to Filipino exploitation yarn (1983), from Neil Marshall’s medium-sized production (2008) to bluehost Kevin Reynolds’ big budget extravaganza (1995), we are so used to the tropes of the post-apocalypse film that everything in Fury Road seems like unimaginative cliché or worse, lampoon.

Gender renegades

Megan Gale in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
© Warner Bros. Pictures and © Roadshow Films

Charlize Theron is strong as the heroine of the film, much more dominant than Max.

Tom Hardy, however, is miscast as Max: Mel Gibson has a face that seems bent on revenge, rugged and Roman, with a hint of mania in the eye. Hardy, in contrast, has a face that seems bent on rowing in an Oxbridge regatta – and it is no surprise that Miller barely focuses on Hardy’s face throughout the film.

Whereas Max in the earlier films was stoic, a reluctant Messiah wandering the wasteland and imbuing the films with a sense of mythical solitude and pathos, Max in Fury Road is simply there – often barely present in his scenes.

Theron receives her fair share of lingering close-ups, though these too seem a little rushed, the camera frequently moving away from her gaze before the full solemnity of the situation can register for the viewer.

Does the shift in focus away from Max towards Furiosa reflect some kind of postmodern sensitivity to gender? Not really: the women who are featured, warriors though they may be, are mostly scantily-clad. The only “naked” body we see in the film belongs to model Megan Gale – proving her acting chops by frowning a lot.

The pace of the action

Miller and crew evidently put a great deal of time and energy into the film’s action sequences, but everything is shot and cut at such a monotonously frenetic pace that the sequences lose any meaningful impact. This is clearly post-digital cinema, and the classical style that made Miller’s earlier films so effective is sorely missed in Fury Road.

Fluctuations of rhythm and fluctuations of tempo are what endow an action sequence with potency, as demonstrated in the work of great action directors like Sam Peckinpah, John Woo and Robert Rodriguez.

The interplay between movement and stasis creates the tension that compels the viewer to engage with the image. If every sequence is developed according to one rhythm and tempo, no matter how “high octane” this may be, the whole thing becomes dull, and the visceral impact of the action sequences in Fury Road is completely undermined by their lack of rhythmic variation.

It is difficult to understand why the film of an auteur like Miller would be so lacking in sensitivity to cinematic rhythm – unless it’s a matter of the medium moving beyond the man. Has the “freedom” offered by digital cinema in fact hamstrung Miller’s ability to create a powerful action sequence?

In the 1964 essay , French literary theorist René Girard writes that every artist revisits and critiques his or her earlier works in his or her new work.

How, then, does Fury Road fit into the continuum of Miller’s earlier films, and what is Miller saying about his oeuvre in this new film?

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
© Warner Bros. Pictures and © Roadshow Films

Mad Max then and now

Mad Max identified the desolate qualities of the Australian landscape and used the landscape as a springboard for an interrogation of Australian cultural mythologies of mateship, masculinity, the bush, and so on. There’s a hauntingly off-beat quality about it that is probably as much a product of budgetary limitations as intentionality on the part of Miller.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior tapped into the anarcho-right tendencies of the time, both affirming and laying bare the advent of neoliberal capitalism in the US and UK, whilst at the same time inspiring a generation of rock bands and filmmakers. Thatcher’s infamous comment that “there’s no such thing as society” certainly resonates in the second film.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome continued in this tradition, amplifying the mythical tendencies of both scene and character and reflecting, in the process, on the earlier films in the series.

Whence emerges Mad Max: Fury Road? Is it, even if, in Macbeth’s words, “full of sound and fury,” a “tale told by an idiot … signifying nothing”?

Further reading:

Mad Max: Fury Road opens internationally today.

The Conversation

is Lecturer in Media Studies at .

This article was originally published on .
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Rick Ross Arrested, Charged With Assault, Kidnapping

As if Rick Ross’s reputation weren’t already tainted with The Smoking Gun revealing his past as a corrections officer and stealing Freeway Rick Ross’s name, being arrested for marijuana earlier this month was only the first actual legal problem the fraud has run into. Now, he was apparently taken in by a special fugitive task force of the U.S. Marshals Service and charged with kidnapping, assault, and aggravated battery.

Ross had reportedly pistol-whipped his groundskeeper doing repairs on his house a few weeks ago. It’s still unclear about exactly what the argument was actually about, though the report suggests that Ross allegedly forced the groundskeeper into his house at gunpoint, pistol-whipping him multiple times causing injuries to his neck, jaw and teeth. While a bodyguard of Ross had also been arrested at the house early morning, the two remain in police custody while the situation is sorted out with Ross being denied bail.

While it’s obvious that Ross’ antics were easily foreshadowed by his lyrics and wannabe gangster persona, could it be that he staged these arrests to boost his record sales?

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Does Pixar’s Inside Out show how memory actually works?

Jennifer Talarico, Lafayette College

Disney/Pixar’s newest film, Inside Out, tells the story of 11-year-old Riley and her difficulty dealing with a family move to San Francisco. The film is getting a lot of attention for its depiction of emotion and memory.

The filmmakers consulted with neuroscientists and psychologists to help make sure they got the science right. As a cognitive psychologist who studies memory, I was excited to see how the film showed the relationship between memory and emotion.

The action primarily takes place within Riley’s mind, with anthropomorphic emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust – as the main characters. Riley’s mind is shown to be vast, comprising many individual units (Imagination Land and Abstract Thought, for instance). The central location of the story is Headquarters, which corresponds to the current contents of Riley’s consciousness – what she is perceiving from the world around her and what the emotions and other “mind workers” choose to show her in the form of memories or ideas.

In some respects, the movie captures the science behind memory and emotion really well, such as how remembering past events can regulate emotion. Memories allow us to mentally time travel and to relive the past in the present. The character of Joy frequently recalls past memories of pleasant events in order to make Riley happy in the moment.

One recurring plot point is how memories can be changed when they are remembered. In the movie, memories are shown as translucent globes encapsulating events. Each globe takes on a different hue depending on the primary emotion of the event. A golden-hued joyful memory starts to turn blue when held by Sadness, showing the transformation of a previously happy memory to one that becomes bittersweet with the acknowledgment of loss. It’s well-established that the emotional character of events is sometimes altered as we recall them. Although certainly some events become more negative over time (which is depicted in the film), more often memories become more positive in retrospect. This positivity bias in remembering the past has been called the Pollyanna Principle, and it is a normal, healthy aspect of remembering.

The relationship between sleep and memory is also portrayed well. Sleep is presented as a time for moving the day’s memories into long-term storage. We know that sleep is an active part of the consolidation process which makes memories of all types more durable. And, dreams are shown to comprise components of the days’ events, only distorted and with the addition of fantastical and absurd elements. This seems to reflect how our minds consolidate memories and make sense of what we learn.

Inside Out does well when it comes to the interplay of memory and emotion, but the memory basics are a bit misleading.

When we remember something, we put the pieces back together.
Puzzle via

We reconstruct memories when we retrieve them

The film shows memories as stable and complete representations of actual events – something we know is not the case. The events of Riley’s day are automatically “encoded” into a single globe. Each memory globe is “stored” somewhere on a shelf in a vast long-term storage library. Memories are “retrieved” and sent intact and exact, back to Headquarters and, therefore, to consciousness.

That might be a handy visual metaphor for memory, but it’s not actually how memory works. We do encode events from our daily life without a deliberate intention to learn or remember them. For instance, you remember what you had for breakfast today even though you did not have to try to remember that information. But, our brain doesn’t store each memory as an individual whole unit.

Instead scholars believe that the components of events are processed by individual neural modules. Our brain has separate systems for basic cognitive functions: vision, hearing, language, emotion and so on. Visual components are processed by the visual system, auditory components by the auditory system, emotional components by the limbic system. Memories are stored in bits and pieces all over your brain. There is no globe sitting on a shelf that can be retrieved and used to reproduce the event exactly as it happened.

When we retrieve a memory, we reconstruct it from those component pieces. We use the same neural systems that encoded the components to see the event in our mind’s eye, hear it in our mind’s ear and re-experience the emotions associated with the event. That reconstructive process is influenced by what we know about the world around us, our current thoughts and beliefs, and our ongoing goals. So our memories can change over time, just as we do through the years.

In fact, each time we remember an event, we are simultaneously re-encoding that event, making it less likely to be forgotten.

The brain doesn’t discard old memories

Forgetting is another area where the movie represents a common but unsupported theory. The memory globes are shown as becoming less colorful and more dim as they grow older and are not retrieved. They eventually turn dark and gray and are sent to the “memory dump” where they turn to dust and disappear forever. This corresponds to a decay theory of forgetting, which suggests that time leads to permanent loss of information.

But psychologists tend to think of forgetting more as a temporary lapse in memory. There is much research to show that although some information cannot be recalled at will, there is still evidence of prior learning. The information may come to mind with the right reminder, or it may be more quickly recognized, or it may take less time to re-learn that information. Full-fledged memories may fade, but they leave some trace behind.

We don’t store memories likes books on shelves.
Books via

Memories connect to one another

In the film, memories are stored on shelves, each in a single space like books in a library. This doesn’t capture how interconnected our memories are. Memories are stored in component parts. Each individual memory shares features with many other memories – such as the processing components that encode each element, the content details like who was there, where the event took place, or when the event occurred, and the abstract themes like spiritual experiences, romantic moments, or professional accomplishments.

The movie tries to capture our ability to identify overarching themes and causal chains among our memories by showing how “core memories” fuel aspects of Riley’s personality, but this serves to emphasize individual memories rather than constellations of interrelated memories. Although we may have specific self-defining memories, these are typically quintessential examples of larger patterns in our lives. Our memory is less like the public library with many books on the shelves and more like Wikipedia with its many linked pages of information.

Overall, the movie does a great job of showing the complexity of the human mind. Even if not all of the details are completely accurate, the metaphors are grounded in a real understanding of psychological science. Yes, it perpetuates some myths about memory, but to be fair, the focus is on feelings, and it conveys the relationship between memory and emotion well. Plus, it’s a fun adventure story with a terrific message that is well worth watching.

The Conversation

Jennifer Talarico is Associate Professor, Psychology at <a href="http://theconversation cialis vente en”>Lafayette College .

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Batman: Arkham Knight Midnight Release

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