Google App Goes Viral Making An Art Out Of Matching Faces To Paintings

Google’s app matching faces to famous paintings went viral prompting, a flurry of selfies over the weekend.

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Art gals on google arts & culture…

— Molly (@mollycgallagher) January 15, 2018

Who can say why some gimmicks take off and others flop? But the Google Arts & Culture app tapped into the zeitgeist over the weekend, until it seemed like just about everyone with access to a camera phone and a social media account was seeking and sharing their famous painting doppelganger.

Forget the fact that Google launched the app and online page in 2016, allowing users to browse a trove of artwork sourced from hundreds of museums worldwide. It was the portrait feature included in last month’s update that has spun the selfies into overdrive.

The metric site App Annie said Google Arts & Culture was the No. 1 free app over the weekend. And by Monday, it was still holding on to the spot.

Perhaps users can’t resist the vain pleasure of seeing and showcasing their own visages reflected back in a famous work of art.

Or maybe it’s just fun.

It works like this: iPhone or Android users must download the app, then find the “Is your portrait in a museum?” function and take and submit their photo. Google sifts through the thousands of paintings in its database and using its computer vision software makes a match alongside a percentage of how well the two images resemble each other. (There is no explanation given about the supposed science behind this.)

As they shared their results on Twitter and Instagram, some users praised the similarities.

Google’s ‘find your face in art history’ app is pretty crazy. Not a bad match – wish I could grow a mustache, though.

— Kevin Parry (@kevinbparry) January 13, 2018

Hey this one ain’t so bad.

— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) January 13, 2018

Some people felt the comparison was less than apt.

Guys I regret to inform you that the google art selfie is not perfect.

— Kate Flaim (@kateflaim) January 14, 2018

Special thanks to the google arts & culture app’s doppelgänger feature for keeping me humble.

— Susie Meister (@susie_meister) January 14, 2018

Others were unimpressed with the results, pointing out that the poor matches for non-white users was indicative of the lack of museum representation.

The google arts and culture selfie feature is just a reminder of how little Asian representation there is in art history

— nydthakid (@nydiahartono) January 11, 2018

Is anyone else noticing how black people are mostly being matched up with street art?

— Rap Game Ina Garten (@KaraBTweets) January 14, 2018

And still other fretted about the implications of Google compiling its own database of users’ faces.

In the app, the company says it only stores the selfies long enough to make the matches and won’t use the photos for any other purposes.

But the viral buzz was enough that many international would-be-users have been left frustrated. Google said on Monday the experimental feature is only available “in parts of the US,” but will be improved and expanded.

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Drunk droning now illegal in New Jersey

(Reuters) – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law on Monday making it illegal to fly an unmanned drone aircraft after too many drinks, a spokesman said on the Republican’s last day in office.

The law prohibits flying a drone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, the same as for driving a vehicle, or while drugged. Violators face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

The measure, which passed the Democratic-controlled state legislature earlier this month, also bars flying a drone near a prison or in pursuit of wildlife.

The drone measure was among 109 bills that Christie signed into law on his last full day in office, spokesman Brian Murray said by email. Christie’s successor, Democrat Phil Murphy, is to be sworn in on Tuesday.

At least 38 states are considering restrictions on drone flying this legislative year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Consumer Technology Association has forecast that 3.1 million drones were sold in the United States last year, up 28 percent from the year before.

Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler

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Wallaby leads police chase over Sydney Harbour Bridge

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A wallaby hopping across the Sydney Harbour Bridge held up early-morning traffic in Australia’s biggest city on Tuesday, before being caught downtown by police officers.

Police said they chased the animal, which looks like a small kangaroo, over the bridge before dawn.

“Officers took the startled macropod into police custody near the Conservatorium of Music, with the police mounted unit arriving on scene soon after to take it to the zoo for veterinary assessment,” New South Wales Police said in a statement.

Video filmed from a pursuing patrol car showed a wallaby, about a meter high, hopping at a clip across the famous arch-span bridge, and a policeman stifles a laugh as he drives along behind it.

Nicknamed “The Coathanger,” the famous arched bridge opened in 1932 and with 8 traffic lanes, 2 railway lines and a footpath and cycleway is the main harbor crossing linking the city with its northern suburbs.

“I‘m from the bush, so I‘m used to see them running around all over the place but I’ve never seen one so close to the city before,” said a driver who gave his name as Ray, one of several people who called Sydney radio station 2GB about the marsupial.

While wallabies and kangaroos are found in both rural and leafy suburban areas, it’s highly unusual to see them so close to a major city center.

Police said the wallaby probably began its citybound journey at a golf club on the harbor’s north shore before it was spotted heading south across the bridge in lane 8 about 5 a.m. (18:00 Monday GMT).

“Traffic controllers…monitored the wallaby as it hopped across to lane 1 and, without indicating, exited onto Cahill Expressway then to Macquarie Street,” police added in a statement, referring to a street in the city center.

It was taken to Taronga Zoo for a veterinary assessment, police said. The zoo could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY

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Trump Advocates For Public Service On MLK Day, But Spends It At Mar-A-Lago Resort

President Trump spent the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Previous presidents have marked the holiday doing volunteer work.

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Some members of the Trump administration started off the holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at a wreath-laying ceremony at the civil rights leader’s memorial in Washington Monday. But the president’s first stop was his own golf club.

Trump signed a federal holiday proclamation at the White House on Friday where he praised King for his leadership in the civil rights movement. And, in words that echoed every president before him since 1994, Trump encouraged “all Americans to observe this day with acts of civic work and community service in honor of Dr. King’s extraordinary life.”

Yet, it appears Trump ignored his own inspiring message. He spent most of the day at his own Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Although he retweeted an official White House video in which he pays tribute to King, there is no indication he intends to participate in any public services before returning to Washington in the afternoon.

“Dr. King’s dream is our dream. It is the American Dream. It’s the promise stitched into the fabric of our Nation, etched into the hearts of our people, and written into the soul of humankind.”

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 15, 2018

The absence of volunteer plans by Trump is especially glaring as he faces accusations of racism following reports that he made derogatory comments about Haiti and African nations.

He has since denied those reports and on Sunday told reporters, “I am the least racist person you will ever interview.”

But his refusals have done little to stem criticism from leaders at King’s former church in Atlanta. As Molly Samuel of member station WABE reports, the Rev. Raphael Warnock addressed the congregation gathered Monday morning at the Ebenezer Baptist Church saying, “I was still reeling in the reports just hours earlier about a volcanic eruption of hate speech spewing out of the mouth of the same man.”

Warnock called on the president to repent. “A proclamation without an apology is hypocrisy,” he said to widespread applause.

Several members of Congress, mostly Democrats, took to Twitter to relay what they were doing in honor of King.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin joined City Year Chicago volunteers.

Honored to join hundreds of @CityYearChicago volunteers today at Gale Community Academy to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) January 15, 2018

California Sen. Kamala Harris attended a Times Up event in Los Angeles, and served as the grand marshal of the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in South LA, one of the biggest in the nation.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker launched a new podcast called, “Lift Every Voice.” His first guest was Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

This #MLKDay I’m excited to share with you my new podcast: Lift Every Voice.

My 1st guest is a civil rights icon who always gets into #goodtrouble & has a treasure trove of stories: @RepJohnLewis

Listen @ApplePodcasts: & @Spotify:

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 15, 2018

While Vice President Mike Pence’s also remained under the radar on Monday, he and his wife Karen visited the MLK memorial on Sunday. They laid a wreath of their own at the statue of Dr. King.

Honored to lay a wreath at MLK Jr. Memorial w/ @SecondLady. He was a great American leader who inspired a movement & transformed a Nation. He took the words of our Founders to heart to forge a more perfect union based on the notion all men are created equal & in the image of God.

— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) January 14, 2018

Ronald Reagan signed the bill that made King’s birthday a national holiday in 1983, and it was first observed in 1987. In 1994, under Bill Clinton, Congress designated the day as a Day of National Service. Since then presidents have undertaken various public service endeavors to mark King’s birthday and the legacy he left behind.

George W. Bush volunteered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., and Barack Obama helped out at a homeless shelter.

Dr. King, shot dead 50 years ago in April, would have turned 89 today.

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Honoring Memphis Sanitation Workers Who Went On Strike In 1968

Tennessee National Guard troopers in jeeps and trucks escort a protest march by striking sanitation workers through downtown Memphis, March 30, 1968.


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In 1968, 1,300 black men from the Memphis Department of Public Works went on strike after a malfunctioning truck crushed two garbage collectors to death.

The strike led to marches with demonstrators carrying signs declaring “I Am A Man.” Their organizing efforts drew support from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassination.

“We were just fighting for equal payment and equal rights from the sanitation department,” Elmore Nickleberry, one of the workers who went on strike and continued to work for the city decades later, told NPR last year.

On Monday night, the NAACP Image Awards is set to honor the sanitation workers who went on strike 50 years ago.

Derrick Johnson, the NAACP’s president and CEO, says the country’s oldest civil rights organization is honoring the workers for fighting for safer conditions and better pay.

“There would have never been a civil rights movement if individuals were not being exploited for free and cheap labor,” Johnson says. “And the workers’ strike demonstrates the need to continue to advocate, ensure that individuals are paid a livable wage particularly in the South.”

Cleophus Smith (left), autographs a poster at the National Civil Rights Museum on Thursday, April 4, 2013, in Memphis, Tenn. The poster is a reproduction of the signs he and Alvin Turner (center) and Baxter Leach (right), carried when they were part of the 1968 sanitation workers strike in Memphis.

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Mark Humphrey/AP

Taylor Rogers, another worker who went on strike, remembered hearing King lend his support to the workers during a visit to Memphis in April 3, 1968. King’s talk at the Mason Temple became known as the “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech.

“You just really can’t describe it,” Rogers told StoryCorps in an episode that aired in 2006. “He stopped everything, put everything aside to come to Memphis to see about the people on the bottom of the ladder, the sanitation workers.”

The next evening, King was assassinated in Memphis.

Some of the surviving sanitation workers are still working for the city of Memphis today.

NPR’s Avie Schneider contributed to this report.

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Catherine Deneuve Apologizes To Sex Assault Victims After Controversial Letter

Catherine Deneuve apologized to victims after an open letter she co-signed sparked accusations that she was defending those guilty of sexual assault.

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French actress Catherine Deneuve is apologizing to “victims of horrible acts … and to them alone” who felt “attacked” by the recent open letter published by French newspaper Le Mondestating the #Me Too movement had gone too far.

In a statement published Sunday in the French newspaper Libération, Deneuve does not apologize for the letter itself. In fact, she writes, “Nothing in the letter claims that harassment is good, otherwise I would not have signed.” But she says the letter requires “clarification,” and that some have “distorted the spirit of the text.”

Deneuve writes that she signed the letter to defend freedom, to express her discomfort with “pack” mentality and to highlight the danger of “cleansing” in the arts.

“Will we burn Sade en Pléiade? Designate Leonardo de Vinci as a pedophile artist and erase his paintings? Unhook Gauguin from museums?” she writes.

She also denounces the “conservatives, racists and traditionalists” who have supported her. “I am not duped,” she writes.

Last week, Deneuve and more than 100 other women in the fields of entertainment, academia and publishing said they reject the kind of feminism that has emerged in the post-Weinstein world that expresses “a hatred of men.”

The women wrote that while the movement “was necessary,” it had devolved and was punishing men guilty of nothing more than “touching a knee.”

“Rape is a crime. But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression,” the letter said, according to The New York Times translation.

The letter sparked an international backlash. A group of French feminists penned their own letter, saying the signatories were “apologists for rape” and “defenders of pedophiles.”

And actress Asia Argento, an outspoken Weinstein accuser, said in a tweet that “interiorized misogyny has lobotomized” Deneuve and the other French women “to the point of no return.”

On Sunday, Deneuve wrote, “it’s not for me to speak in the place of my sisters. What creates traumatic and untenable situations is always the power, the hierarchical position, or a form of influence. … I think the solution will come from educating our boys like we educate our girls.”

She went on to say, “I believe in justice.”

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