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"Furry Wolf Candy": neural network invents fursona names

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Cat on laptop - Just Browsing, cropped copy, photo by Wilson Afonso, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.Can a computer dream of being a human? What if it dreamed of being a human who dreamed of being a talking animal? With the help of Janelle Shane, a research scientist in photonics, we may just find out what furry aliases such a machine would create.

Janelle has achieved fame for her humorous use of artificial intelligence to generate names for things such as pubs, diseases, beers, and My Little Ponies. She's also directed neural networks to create recipes and write Harry Potter fanfiction.

With GreenReaper's help, I extracted an undifferentiated list of ~11,000 names of furries who have pages on WikiFur. Dr. Shane used these as the basis for a neural network to invent more.

Review: 'Ewe at Work'

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ewetube_0.jpgChristmas markets, and craft markets in general, can be a bit of a gamble. Many times, it's just the same old things that you will see at every market. Though sometimes you find something different, something more unique that jumps out at ... ewe. That was my experience at a recent Christmas market where I found a number of pictures and books revolving around sheep puns. It kept my attention long enough that I decided to buy one of the books; Ewe at Work.

baa-code_0.jpgAccording to the cover, it was "Voted No. 1 sheep book in Ramsgate." That's a real place! (Population around a thousand, so make of that what you will.) It features just over 90 self-contained images, nearly always involving sheep puns, drawn in a minimalist style similar to xkcd and Cyanide & Happiness. And that's it, really. You're either the sort of person who would buy a book of sheep puns or you are not.

Review: 'Sale Bête', by Maïa Mazaurette and Jean-Paul Krassinsky

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Filthy Beast, vol. 1: the hamster catastrophe; art by Jean-Paul KrassinskyI thank Lex Nakashima again for ordering these books from Amazon.fr and loaning them to me.

Hmmm. Well, you certainly gain a vocabulary of current French slang from reading this series. Ordi = PC. Les etrons = turds. La clope = cigarette. L’enfoire = bastard. Catin = whore. Lolcat = Sorry; that one’s American.

Filthy Beast (or Dirty Beast) Volume 1, “Hamster Catastrophe”, introduces the Bastogne family; father (unnamed), mother Vivienne, older daughter Elizabelle, younger daughter Amandarine, and cat Clarky. Their world is like ours, except that there is a factory, La Fabrique, that makes living pets to order.

An animal isn’t improvised here. We guarantee domestic PERFECTION.

Customers can order a bunny, a cat, a puppy, a ferret, a squirrel, a tarantula – anything – made to their choice. Calm to playful. Dominant to submissive. Quiet to expressive. Solitary to social. Stupid to intelligent. Brave to cowardly. Energetic to lazy. There is a long list. Eleven-year-old Amandarine whines that one of her classmates got a blue pony with wings for HER birthday, that her parents had designed it to graze on only the weeds in the garden … Their housecat Clarky comes from La Fabrique. He’s pale pink dotted with darker pink hearts; he’s intelligent; he loves everybody; and so on.

So the Bastognes decide to get Amandarine a designer pet for her birthday.

“Sale Bête. T.1, Hamster Drame”, January 2012, hardbound €10.60 (54 pages).
“Sale Bête. T.2, On Ira Tous au Charadis”, April 2013, hardbound €10.60 (48 pages).
Marcinelle, Belgium, Editions Dupuis; both written by Maïa Mazaurette, illustrated by Jean-Paul Krassinsky.

Review: 'Earthman's Burden', by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson

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Earthman's BurdenHumorous science fiction is all too rare. One of the most successful humorous series is/are the Hoka stories of Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson. They began in the short-lived Other Worlds Science Stories in May 1951, moved to Universe Science Fiction after Other Worlds ceased publication, then to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction when Universe bit the dust.

By 1957 there were almost enough Hoka stories to fill a book. Anderson & Dickson added one original story and a short “Interlude” after each to tie them together into a novel, and Earthman’s Burden was the result.

The 1950s were the postwar era with the Marshall Plan and the sparklingly new United Nations, when idealistic America was trying to pull the whole world up to Western levels of prosperity and democracy. The Hoka stories carried these ideals into space.

NYC, Gnome Press, July 1957, 185 pages, $3.00 [1970 reprint; 1979 reprint]. Illustrated by Edd Cartier.

3 Jaguars Web Comic Kickstarter

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M.C.A. Hogarth is running a Kickstarter campaign to launch her new web comic The Three Jaguars, a comedic slice-of-life about the intersection of art and business. Prizes include cameos, product advertisements (drawn by the artist), original art and postcards. The Kickstarter is 263% funded, with a week to go. Prizes are limited.

Up, up and away... in my beautiful balloon!

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Angry TurtleI know this sounds hilarious, but in all seriousness, this is a nasty form of animal cruelty: duct-taping a little box turtle to some balloons, and then letting it go, to float who knows HOW high in the atmosphere. Thankfully, it was snagged a few feet off the ground by a eucalyptus tree in the San Diego suburb of Oceanside, California.

Local resident Chanelle Wright saw the trapped terrapin's balloons in the tree. She said she immediately contacted the Humane Society, and the local fire department, but it took them over an hour to respond. Just as the fire department's ladder truck moved its ladder into position, a big gust of wind blew the turtle free, allowing him to gently float back down to terra firma.

While neighbours initially told local television station KGTV that Wright and her family had perpetrated the turtle's airborne adventure, understandably upsetting and angering Wright, they later recanted their stories and apologized.

Local authorities are still looking for whoever is responsible. The turtle is currently resting up in the protective custody of the San Diego Humane Society, and will soon be up for adoption. Wright has stated that if no one adopts the little reptile, she will.

Turtles belong in the sea, not in the sky, anyway. Courtesy: Gawker.com and KGTV ABC 10.

Bear Cavalry strikes again!

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WNEP-TV 2008 logoIt seems California's flag is appropriate, as this story echoes one we brought to you a few weeks ago. The Bear Cavalry has struck again, this time at a middle school graduation ceremony!

Apparently one young teenage black bear wanted an education so badly that he decided to enter Ramon Garza Elementary School in Bakersfield, California, scaring the students, and causing staff to usher them inside for safety.

The bear then wandered over to the neighbouring Sierra Middle School. This understandably threw the school into chaos and lockdown, while the California Department of Fish and Game were called and eventually tranquillized the bear (with assistance from Kern County Animal Control) at a nearby apartment complex; he was later moved to a remote area and released.

'Filthy Beast', a hamster catastrophe

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I went looking on the “BD Selection” website to see if a new Blacksad album is out in France. No; but this sounds interesting. Here is my translation of the French summary/review of Sale Bête, T. 1: Hamster drame (Filthy Beast, vol. 1: the hamster catastrophe) by “Boris”.