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Paul Allen — Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist — dead of cancer at 65

Paul Allen — Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist — dead of cancer at 65

  • He co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975.
  • A major figure in Seattle, he revitalized the city landscape.
  • As of his death, he was the 46th richest person in the world.

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft co-founder along with Bill Gates, has died at the age of 65 in Seattle, Washington.

He died from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. He had announced earlier this month that he was going to go back into treatment for the disease, which he had overcome once before in 2009.

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After starting Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975, Allen went on to found the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Institute for Cell Science. He also was the sole founder of Stratolaunch Systems, an aerospace company, back in 2004. In 2013, he also founded the Allen Institute for the Artificial Intelligence, an AI research lab. A major philanthropist both on the local and national levels, he donated over $2 billion towards education and conservational causes.

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His sister, Jody, released a statement to the media late Monday:

“While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend. Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”

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Allen also played a huge part in the current tech boom in Seattle, Washington. He almost single-handedly revitalized the South Lake Union district and it has since became one of the most expensive areas for office space in the country. He was also co-owner of the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers, and was one of only two NBA owners (Mark Cuban being the other) who voted against the Supersonic’s move to Oklahoma City. He also founded Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, the Living Computer Museum, and created the Upstart music festival in 2016.

Paul Allen — Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist — dead of cancer at 65

7 most important horror movies: Double-feature edition

7 most important horror movies: Double-feature edition

  • This scareful season, make sure to check these seven important horror movies off your to-do list.
  • Already an aficionado of fear? The list offers a double-feature option to pair with each classic horror flick.
  • With apologies to Hereditary, but I haven’t seen it yet.

It’s October! That time of year when we are duty bound to indulge in horror movies till we can’t sleep with the closet door ajar. If you’re looking to indulge your horror habit, we’ve collected seven of the most important horror movies to check off your watchlist.

For those who have already perused the gothic spires and haunted hallways of these classic terrors, we’ve paired them with films equally deserving of classic status. Each double-feature shares a particular quality, whether thematic, atmospheric, or cinematographic.

Here are our seven most important horror films (and their double features).

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Le Manoir du Diable

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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) represents the best of silent horror. Director Robert Wiene created a German expressionist nightmare with his scenery of vulgar angles and jagged pathways. The story revolves around the titular Dr. Caligari, who uses the sleepwalker Cesare to commit murders. When Cesare kills a villager named Alan, the pursuit of truth eventually leads to the madhouse.

As Roger Ebert writes in his review of the film: “A case can be made that ‘Caligari’ was the first true horror film. There had been earlier ghost stories and the eerie serial ‘Fantomas’ made in 1913-14, but their characters were inhabiting a recognizable world. ‘Caligari’ creates a mindscape, a subjective psychological fantasy. In this world, unspeakable horror becomes possible.”

Looking to make a silent evening of it? Then consider Le Manoir du Diable (1896), directed by the inimitable George Méliès. Méliès’ short film may be the oldest extant horror film, and it comes with all the trappings: transforming bats, bubbling cauldrons, and demonic tricksters.

But in tone, it could not be more different from Caligari. Whereas Caligari is brooding and unnerving, Méliès’ film is a vaudevillian magic show that uses editing to mischievous effect. At just over three minutes, you can also enjoy this piece of horror history on a short coffee break.

The Bride of Frankenstein and The Cat People

Many of Carl Laemmle Jr.’s horror movies at Universal deserve a place on this list, but the series’ crown jewel is The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). After Henry Frankenstein and the monster survive the conflagrated windmill, Henry’s mentor, Dr. Pretorius, arrives and forces Henry to begin creating a mate for the Monster, who seeks a friend and confidant.

Director James Whales builds on the excellent foundation of the first Frankenstein (1931) with Gothic architecture that is as grandiose as it is decrepit. Boris Karloff brings even more empathy to the monster this go around, and the bride makes an indelible impression despite her minuscule screen time.

To round out the evening, try Jacques Tourneur’s The Cat People (1942). The film tells the story of Irena, a woman who believes she will turn into a man-eating cat if aroused or angered. (Trust us, it’s better than it sounds.) Despite a limited budget, The Cat People parallels Bride of Frankenstein in using knife-edged shadows to build suspense and atmosphere. They are also thematically linked over concerns of loneliness and sexual exclusion.

Psycho and The Haunting

Despite directing Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, and a slew of other classics, Alfred Hitchcock’s most successful film is Psycho (1960). It’s arguably the first slasher film, and even if it’s technically not, a genre pedigree would show it is the father to such gruesome tykes as Black Christmas, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween. (Their mother would be the Italian giallo films. Hey, it was the sixties).

Do I even need to discuss Psycho? The film’s mark on our culture, with its vivid imagery and shrill soundtrack, has made it perhaps the most parodied and alluded to movie in history. And that’s a shame because Hitchcock wanted the film’s twists and turns to surprise each first-time viewer. Well before the days of netiquette, he devised a set of rules to prevent spoiler warnings, including tight schedules, controlled media buzz, and no late admissions permitted.

Not as well-known, but no less deserving of classic status, is Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963). Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House, the story follows two women with purportedly psychic abilities, Eleanor and Theodora, who are invited to live at the haunted Hill House by a scientist wishing to investigate its mysteries.

Both movies trade in anxiety-inducing settings. Like the Bates house, Hill House is claustrophobic despite its size. But The Haunting‘s terrors are more abstract. Is the house haunted or are the nightmarish happenings the result of Eleanor’s deteriorating mental health?

Interestingly, both of these films were remade in the ’90s. You can skip those.

The Exorcist and The Babadook

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973) may be the scariest movie of all time, and this reputation has been bolstered by the many deaths associated with its production, leading to the claim that the film was cursed.

After playing with a Ouija board, young Regan begins to display erratic, vulgar behavior. After consulting a number of physicians, Regan’s mother asks Catholic priests to perform an exorcism. But the demon isn’t going to give up Regan’s soul quietly.

Have you ever seen a demonically possessed child cirque du soleil her way down the stairs? No? Then watch The Exorcist.

If you can uncurl yourself from the fetus positions, you could put on The Babadook (2014) next. In it, Amelia Vanek must raise her son, Samuel, alone after her husband’s death in a car accident. Emotionally and physically exhausted, she becomes the target of a monster, demon, whatever called Mister Babadook. But Babadook can’t do his grisly deeds himself, and must possess Amelia if he is to have Samuel.

Both films elicit visceral responses in how they put the most vulnerable among us, children, in danger of physical and mental harm. But while The Exorcist‘s dangers come from a malicious spirit—evil’s got to evil, yo—The Babadook‘s danger comes from the person tasked with caring for Samuel.

Alien and It Follows

Fear is an intimate emotion, and no other film portrays that fact better for me than Alien (1979). You never forget your first.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien follows the crew of the USCSS Nostromo as they investigate a mysterious transmission and accidently let loose a deadly alien aboard their ship. While later sequels rendered the alien just another monster of the week—a less loquacious Zerg—the original’s incarnation continues to terrify.

This is partly due to technical limitations forcing Scott to never show it in full. Instead, dark angles and quick cutaways show just enough for your imagination build the rest. But we can’t discount H.R. Giger’s unsettling design. Sometimes an alien head is just a cigar, but in this case it’s definitely a killer penis.

A film that pairs remarkably well with Alien is David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows (2014). In it, a girl named Jay sleeps with her boyfriend only to be cursed by the sexual encounter. A shape-shifting creature will now stalk her until either it kills her or she passes on the curse by sleeping with another.

Both movies deal in sexual horrors, but while Alien‘s monster is a symbol of sexual perversion and evolutionary conquest, It Follows takes a different approach. Jay’s is a coming-of-age story. Her monster is the world at large, where natural drives like sex can provide pleasure but also disease, anxiety, and moral compromise.

The Shining and The VVITCH

We all knew The Shining (1980) was going to be here, right? Stanley Kubrick’s film is a horror masterclass of unnerving tension.

What more can be said? Jack Nicholson crushes it as, erm, Jack. The imagery has been indelibly seared into our cultural consciousness. Even the carpet has been analyzed to death. But it’s Kubrick’s use of perspective that makes the film so terrifying, especially with regard to the young and vulnerable Danny.

A good modern pairing for The Shining is The Witch (2015). The Witch tells the story of a colonial family forced to leave the protection of the settlement due to religious differences. Living in the wilderness, they are preyed upon by a coven of witches.

Both movies deal with families in isolation and children harmed by the demons inherent in their guardians. The Witch uses this setup to speak toward the problem of evil. Why would a caring, benevolent god allow them to suffer despite their professed love for him?

Kubrick’s film doesn’t ask the question so directly, yet it should be noted that no outside force comes to save the Torrance family from its patriarch (Scatman Crothers notwithstanding).

The Thing and Get Out

When John Carpenter’s The Thing was released in 1982, critics and audiences called it cynical, disturbing, nihilistic, and all around unpleasant. Today, it’s the film cinephiles point to when pining for the days of practical effects and R-rated horror. Go figure.

The Thing opens with American researchers in Antarctica explore the remains of a destroyed Norwegian research station. The only survivor of the Norwegian station, a sled dog, is revealed to be a shape-shifting alien that can imitate any form. To survive, the researchers must kill the creature, which could be any one of them.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017) pervades a similar sense of paranoia. Peele’s film tells about an African-American man, Chris, spending the weekend with his white girlfriend’s upper-class family. While The Thing is about fearing a hidden malevolence within the group, Get Out portrays the group itself as the terrifying presence.

Guillermo del Toro: Why monsters are metaphors

7 most important horror movies: Double-feature edition

A diet guru explains why you should eat dinner at 2 pm

A diet guru explains why you should eat dinner at 2 pm

  • A recent study shows that over 50% of people eat over the course of fifteen hours every day.
  • Another study shows that restricting meals to an eight-hour window had profound effects on weight loss.
  • Dr. Jason Fung advocates for earlier dinners in a tighter feeding window.

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What you should eat has been the focus of fad diets for decades. Less discussed is when. Thanks to the rise of the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting has become trendy. Getting into ketosis is possible through a high-fat diet, yet is beneficially aided by fasting. While the science is up for debate on the efficacy of long-term usage of high-fat intake, limiting the duration of your grazing habits seems to have important benefits.

Grazing is one word for it. As nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung, the founder of Intensive Dietary Management Program who specializes in type 2 diabetes and intermittent fasting, points out, one study revealed that the median daily intake of food was 14.75 hours a day.

In fact, over half of the people in that study ate for over 15 hours every day, meaning if they their first meal (or snack) was consumed at 8 am, their last meal wouldn’t occur until after 11 pm. These data come from Salk Institute professor Satchin Panda’s study, which was tracked by a smartphone app.

Over the course of three weeks, healthy, non-shift workers tracked their eating habits by pressing a button delivered by the app. In total, 26,676 intake events occurred: 22 percent were water, 28 percent pre-packaged food items, and 50 percent mixed meals with multiple items. Another follow-up study tracked participants for sixteen weeks. Less than 25 percent of calories occurred before noon, with 37.5 percent eaten after 6 pm. This is a problem, Fung says.

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First off, the least frequent eaters in Panda’s study consumed food an average of 3.3 times a day, close to the basic folk wisdom of “three square meals.” They only represented 10 percent of the population. That means 90 percent ate more than 3.3 times a day. In fact, many ate a lot more.

Despite what you’ll read on holistic blogs everywhere, the type of food was not nearly as relevant as the time that they were actually eating. Fung continues,

When those overweight individuals eating more than 14 hours per day were simply instructed to curtail their eating times to only 10 to 11 hours, they lost weight (average 7.2 lbs, or 3.3 kg) and felt better even though they were not instructed to overtly change when they ate.

Fung cites another study that traced a restricted feeding schedule, known as early Time Restricted Feeding (eTRF). Two groups ate the exact same diet. One consumed their meals between 8 am and 8 pm, while the other chowed down between 8 am and 2 pm. All volunteers in this study were pre-diabetic.

The benefits were huge. Mean insulin levels dropped significantly, and insulin resistance dropped as well. Insulin is a driver of obesity, so merely changing the meal timing and restricting the number of hours you ate, and also by moving to an earlier eating schedule, produced huge benefits even in the same person eating the same meals. That’s astounding. Even more remarkable was that even after the washout period of seven weeks, the eTRF group maintained lower insulin levels at baseline. The benefits were maintained even after stopping the time restriction. Blood pressure dropped as well.

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Fung argues that while it’s not actually difficult to fast for sixteen or eighteen hours a day—I concur, having tried it for two months; your body quickly adjusts—eating dinner at 2 pm presents a serious challenge to the way our society is structured.

What Fung is really interested in is changing the narrative around diet. Sure, too much sugar is not good; fresh produce and whole grains are most often a better decision than processed foodstuffs littered with preservatives. Not every body can handle too much caffeine, which affects sleeping patterns, which affects metabolism, which leads to obesity. Nuance is important.

Fung is advocating is for a broader discussion of when. Given all we’ve been learning about the importance of circadian rhythm (which can now be measured in our your blood), we’re discovering that even a few hours of fasting a day can have profound consequences. Magical elixirs might not help you lose weight, but deciding not to drink them just might.

Stay in touch with Derek on Twitter and Facebook.

A diet guru explains why you should eat dinner at 2 pm

Marine biologist: “Our oceans are swimming in antidepressants”

Marine biologist: “Our oceans are swimming in antidepressants”

  • A new British study has discovered that “our aquatic life is bathing in a soup of antidepressants.”
  • Entire ecosystems are being negatively affected by our pharmaceutical use.
  • The drugs re-enter our bodies when we consume seafood from these areas.

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In 2009, the NYC Department of Environment Protections discovered numerous pharmaceuticals floating around in the city’s tap water. A 2010 follow-up study concluded that trace amounts of Ibuprofen, caffeine, Butalbital, DEET—yes, insect repellant—and a variety of prescription and illicit drugs, along with personal care products, posed no threat to us.

A similar conclusion was reached in Britain, where in 2014 various substances, including cocaine, were discovered in that country’s reservoirs. Researchers noted the amounts were thousands of times below what would make an actual impact on our biology.

But what about other ecosystems? Earlier this year scientists uncovered a startling consequence of the drugs we put into of our mouths (and up our nostrils):

Researchers in Italy have found that small amounts of cocaine in water can make eels hyperactive and cause significant muscle damage.

European eels, they note, are an endangered species. And it’s not only eels. Oysters floating around in Oregon were found to contain antibiotics and pain relievers; Northeastern fish are displaying male and female sex traits thanks to birth control pills. Whether we flush, urinate, or defecate these substances, we’re destroying ocean life.

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And now, a new study published in British Journal of Psychiatry is targeting doctors and Big Pharma: marine life is suffering due to our overuse of antidepressants. Alex Ford, a University of Portsmouth professor in the Institute of Marine Biology, remarks,

Our aquatic life is bathing in a soup of antidepressants. Antidepressant and antianxiety medications are found everywhere, in sewage, surface water, ground water, drinking water, soil, and accumulating in wildlife tissues. They are found in sea water and rivers and their potential ability to disrupt the normal biological systems of aquatic organisms is extensive.

This is no weekend binge. Ford says that the animals spend their entire lives in this toxic environment, which affects their immune system, eating habits, color, behavior, metabolism, even the way it moves. In previous studies, Ford noticed that Prozac causes shrimp to leave their natural habitat to head toward light, making them more vulnerable to predators.

We’ve known about the consequences of our drug diet on marine life since the sixties. Like climate change, we’ve not only done little about it, we’ve made things worse. The opioid epidemic in America is not the only indication of this; antidepressant usage in the UK has doubled in the last decade, with 10 percent of the population taking them on a regular basis.

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Even if you don’t care about marine life, this problem returns to haunt us: when we eat seafood, we’re putting those drugs right back into our bodies. If these pharmaceuticals are affecting fish physiology, they’re certainly affecting us.

The researchers put forward many suggestions to address this problem, including upgrading waste water treatment plants, requesting that the pharmaceutical industry green its “cradle-to-grave” approach, reducing prescriptions in favor of counseling, and coaching patients to limit the duration in which they consume antidepressants instead of building a reliance upon them.

Such compliance will be difficult, given Big Pharma’s profit motive and the fact that writing scripts is much more economically beneficial to doctors than counseling. Hopefully we won’t wait until there are no more fish left to eat to understand the gravity of this problem. In the meantime, it’s just another reminder that our addictions don’t only affect us. We’re all in this together. The sooner we realize this, the better.

Stay in touch with Derek on Twitter and Facebook.

Marine biologist: “Our oceans are swimming in antidepressants”

The cult of disruptive innovation: Where America went wrong

The cult of disruptive innovation: Where America went wrong

  • ‘Disruptive innovation’ is a dangerous buzzword.
  • There’s a world of difference between progress and innovation.
  • Our speaker believes she can pinpoint the moment America went off the rails.

The cult of disruptive innovation: Where America went wrong