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The Life's Journey of the Phone-Sex Operator

Slate

When Emma and her husband move to a new city, she finds herself alone in their bare apartment all day, tasked with "figuring out what she's going to do with her life." That's a tall order when it's easier to fantasize about one day basking in the love and admiration of others than it is to figure out how to actually make your way in the world today. When Emma stumbles on a help-wanted ad for an old-school phone-sex company, she applies for the job--and begins reminiscing on a life in which the realities of disappointing sexual experience don't match her fantasies. Luke Howard's Talk Dirty to Me is a frank and funny story of a quiet young woman who's still working out how she feels about her own desires, who might end up being a kind of star--just at a job she can't tell her husband about.


Ministry plan will see Japan's mobile phone carriers slash cancellation fees in fall

The Japan Times

The government said Tuesday it will require mobile phone operators this fall to drastically cut cancellation fees for users who quit in the middle of a two-year contract to promote competition and lower the country's relatively high communication charges. Under the plan approved by the communications ministry's panel, major mobile phone operators here will be obliged to cut cancellation charges by 90 percent to ¥1,000 or less from the current ¥9,500, enabling users to switch companies more easily. The new regulations are expected to prompt mobile phone operators to overhaul their price plans, as they will only be able to offer discounts of up to ¥170 on monthly communication fees for users who purchase mobile phones under a two-year contract. In Japan, many mobile phone users are reluctant to change companies frequently because of the financial burden in canceling the two-year contract introduced by the three major phone companies -- NTT Docomo Inc., SoftBank Corp. and KDDI Corp. -- under their strategy to retain users. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry aims to spur competition in the industry by having the three companies launch basic fees that are not bound by a specific time frame and helping low-cost smartphone operators attract users.


461

AI Magazine

A recent article by Ronald Brachman (Brachman, 1985) points out some philosophical or semantic problems in using the notion of a prototype, which is described by using default properties. The problem arises since default properties can be overridden or cancelled in representing particular instances, and therefore lack definitional power: i.e., they are not really essential to the concept being represented. As an example, Brachman presents an elephant joke: Q: What's big and gray, has a trunk, and lives in the trees? A: An elephant-I lied about the trees. Before discussing a solution to this dilemma, consider the following modified version of the elephant joke, perhaps not quite as funny: Q: What's big and gray, has a trunk, and lives in the trees?


AAAI97-102.pdf

AAAI Conferences

Landmark-based approaches to robot navigation require an "interest operator" to estimate the utility of a particular image region as an effective representative for a scene. This paper presents a color interest operator consisting of a weighted combination of heuristic scores. The operator selects those image regions (landmarks) likely to be found again, even under a different viewing geometry and/or diRerent illumination conditions. These salient regions yield a robust representation for recognition of a scene. Experiments showing the reproduceability of the regions selected by this operator demonstrate its use as a hedge against environment al uncertainties.


Pay phones are relics, but there's still demand for them

Los Angeles Times

Pay phones, those relics of a not-so-distant past, remain hidden among us, and many of them still work just fine. They are quickly becoming a rare sight: Statewide, the number of pay phones has decreased by more than 70% since 2007. But there are still thousands left. In California, there were nearly 100,000 pay phones in 2007. Victor Rollo, president of the San Diego Payphone Owners Assn., said the decision to keep a pay phone operational is based on profitability.