A few minutes before the service officially begins at First Baptist Dallas, the orchestra slowly rises into sight, lifted by a stage elevator that delivers them smoothly into position. The lights dim, and the congregation--in this setting, an audience--hushes and waits for the show to begin. One Sunday in December, visitors to the church received a booklet containing a photo of the same choir and orchestra, performing behind President Donald Trump. The unofficial dress code is "Sunday best," worshippers sit on wooden pews, and no one brings coffee into the sanctuary. But over the years, the congregation has acquired many of the hallmarks of a contemporary megachurch.
Yesterday, National Geographic released its April edition, a special issue "that explores how race defines, separates, and unites us." On the cover of this "Race Issue" are Marcia and Millie Biggs, biracial 11-year-old English twins who, according to the headline, will make "us rethink race." Because, as that same headline puts it, "one [is] black and one [is] white"--presumably referring to the fact that Marcia is fair-skinned with light hair and Millie has black hair and brown skin. Given that Nella Larsen wrote Passing, a study of how black identity cannot be negated by "passing" as white in 1929, this is unfortunate, and even more so considering that this issue is, according to the editor's note, supposed to be about grappling with the magazine's racist past. The release of the "Race Issue" comes on the heels of "Overlooked," a similarly compensatory project from the New York Times that presents a "new collection of obituaries for women and others who never got them" that began with belated obits for women like Larsen, Ida B. Wells, and Ada Lovelace.
The nonprofit literary organization PEN America announced on Monday the creation of the PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award, with playwright and screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan named as the inaugural winner. The award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize, is named in honor of Mike Nichols, the legendary comedian and director known for films such as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "The Graduate," "Silkwood" and "Postcards From the Edge." Nichols died in 2014, and is survived by his wife, journalist Diane Sawyer. Lonergan is an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter. His plays "This Is Our Youth" and "Lobby Hero" were both nominated for Drama Desk Awards for best play.
The Twenty-Fourth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-10) and the Twenty-Second Conference on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence (IAAI-10) will be held in Atlanta at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, July 11-15, 2010. The AAAI Conference will turn 25 in San Francisco in 2011. You won't want to miss this milestone event. The preliminary list of invited speakers for IJCAI-09 is now available at the conference website and includes Cristina Conati (University of British Columbia), Tom Dietterich (Oregon State University), Luc Steels (Free University of Brussels), Hal Varian (Google and University of California, Berkeley), Gerhard Widmer (Johannes Kepler University), Qiang Yang (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology). Award lectures will also be presented by the winners of the 2009 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence, Victor Lesser (University of Massachusetts Amherst), and the 2009 IJCAI Computers and Thought Award, Carlos Guestrin (Carnegie Mellon University and Andrew Ng (Stanford University).
AAAI is delighted to announce the launch of a fantastic new benefit for its regular members. In cooperation with Elsevier Science Publishers, AAAI is offering its regular members an opportunity to enjoy unlimited access to the online version of the AI Journal. AAAI regular members can view and browse tables of contents, view articles published in recent issues of AI Journal, and use the current features available through Elsevier's electronic journal service. They can also view, print, and/or download excerpts of reasonable quantity, provided that the use of such excerpts is personal and does not amount to or result in commercial distribution. Participation in this experimental program is included in your normal AAAI membership dues.